Disclaimer: I do not own touhou or any other touhou materials, The OCs are mine though, take them and I write your name on my death note


Select Difficulty :

{Easy} {Normal} {Hard} {Lunatic} {Phantasm} {Nightmare Phantasm}


CHAPTER 9: The Scarlet Mist...And Cirno

{30 days Earlier…..}


The clock was ticking. It was almost time. The open windows caused the velvet curtains to rise and fall as the cool summer breeze found its way into the bedroom. Illuminated by faint moonlight, a girl sat alone in the room staring at her tea with a bored expression. The rays of the moon provided little light to the dim room as they went past the semi-transparent curtains. A large four poster bed sat at the middle of the room, grand enough for a queen.

Right beside the bed was antique study table with a lone photograph standing on top along with an oil lamp. The girl had her head resting on her palm as she gazed at an oil painting hanging on her wall. It held an image of her and her sister, smiling happily without a care in the world. She remembered the time when her father had painted that portrait as a gift to them both. If only she had the power to relive the past and not see the pathetic future; she would pay anything for it.

Resting her back against her chair, the girl shifted her position so that her black wings were more comfortable. The soft white linen felt nice on the girl's hand. A ghost of a smile appeared on her lips. Today was the big day after all, she should be excited. Finally finding a way to escape the church for good, she should be happy. And yet . . . . Why did she feel something was going to go wrong? Those visions she had been seeing in her dreams have been troubling her for the past two weeks, rendering it impossible for her to get a good night's sleep.

The girl turned her gaze to the side so that she can have a better look at her bedroom. At the dim light, the walls appeared to be blue when in reality they were deep scarlet. The girl had a strange affinity for the color; so much so that she went out of her way to have the walls of her very mansion and carpet to be dyed in deep red. Even her accessories were of the same color as her eyes.

The clock tower struck twelve. The girl took it as a cue to rise from her seat and walk towards an old wardrobe in her nightdress.

Opening the wardrobe and taking out her favourite dress, the girl began to change. There was no need to call for her maid to assist her; tonight was going to be a good night, after all. Buttoning her clothes and donning her mop cap, the girl exited her bedroom with a smirk on her face.

Her wings slowly fluttering at her back, the girl was just finishing adjusting her long silk gloves before a loud ominous sound was heard. Not even bothering to investigate what caused the noise, the girl passed by a large window which showed her the scene of a large white light circling around her mansion's perimeter.

From above said mansion, a giant magic circle was being formed around it. As seen from the moon's surface, the circle appeared to be a miniature satellite, a small star shining upon the Earth's crust.

The sound became louder and louder until it was deafening, and yet the girl remained unfazed and continued her leisurely stroll around her home. Ancient paintings of her ancestry hung wall to wall and the well-lit golden chandeliers above caused a bit of pride to spark within the girl's heart. Her decorating skills were impressive, that she could state as a fact.

Then silence . . . . From the outside, nothing was left of the mansion but a large crater upon the land, the glow from the recent event disappeared as if it hadn't even been there.

Her light footsteps echoing along the hallway, the girl finished one more turn before coming across a neat line of maids, all with their heads low in respect for the mistress of the household.

"Good evening, Lady Remilia," they all said as one. Remilia raised one elegant gloved hand and all of the maids rose from the position. Smiling cruelly, the girl went to approach the door leading to her "favorite spot".

Two maids dutifully opened the door to a magnificently made throne room. The floor covered by a long red carpet, more maids stood with their head bowed politely at the sides as the mistress passed by. Remilia turned her gaze once more to her left and looked through the windows. She saw that the landscape outside had changed, meaning that the Unmoving Library had accomplished her task.

She saw of mountains in the east, while at the same time she noticed the clear reflection of water. Not a bad place to stay, as she valued her privacy greatly and was not particularly fond of intruders. Even if it was in the middle of the lake.

Smiling, Remilia came to halt before her Chief Maid, a long-time servant now in her late teens.

"Milady," greeted Sakuya with a curtsy before offering her hand to her mistress.

"Sakuya ..." Remilia replied, allowing her maid to escort her to her seat. The vampire faced the maid-filled hall once more before taking her seat on her crimson throne. She was eager to see what this new land had to offer. Glancing from her left to her right, Remilia placed her elbow on her throne's arm and proceeded to rest her head on her fist once more.

"Let this world recognize the might of this household," began Remilia, her eyes alive with cruel mirth, "Shall we show them what we are made of, Sakuya? Show them that if they dare stand in our way, they will receive a quick death?"

"Of course Milady, the mansion will stand proud and tall over the people of this land," replied the maid, her tone emotionless yet firm and strong.

"Well then," Remilia raised her head a bit while gazing at her maid with one eye. She then ordered in a loud commanding voice, "Open the Doors of Scarlet, release the mist and all shall remember and know the might of the Scarlet Devil Mansion!"

Outside the mansion, the wooden doors opened with a bang. A red ominous mist pouring from the inside, slowly spreading across the grounds and into the forest. The Gate Guard opened the gate with a kick, allowing those who dare enter the lair of the Devil. The Scarlet Devil.

The border land is now wrapped in Scarlet Magic. Do you believe that you can solve this mystery?


Year: 2005 {The Present}

4:56 Post-meridian

Mushroom Trail, on the way to the Human Village, Gensokyo


The sky was dark and the sun was nowhere in sight. The young man on the path guessed that it was hidden above the clouds. Without any heat from the sun the temperature on the ground was cool yet not that cold. The human's gray eyes rested upon a wilting snapdragon at the side of the road. Kneeling down, he carefully examined the flower before letting it go. He began to continue down the path to the human village.

The plants need sun to survive; without it they die. A simple knowledge taken from an elementary textbook, yet the result of it is worse than bad, thought the human as he passed by a field. Stopping in his tracks he turned his gaze at rice field at his side. It seemed like the harvest had gone bad and judging from the lone farmer's frustration, the entire field was dead due to the lack of nutrients. If things got worse, then there would be a food shortage within the next few months.

It was bad enough with this mist acting as a veil over at the surroundings; it just had to cause an untimely famine in the village. The human had to squint his eyes to see through the mist, which proved to be very troublesome. It had been thirty days already and it still hadn't dissipated.

The human heard footsteps pass by him and noticed that they belonged to a young boy. The boy ran past and waved his. Before the human could even say something, the boy had already gone.

Must be a villager. Then that means I'm getting close, he thought to himself before setting off once more. This mist, if one would only look at it hard enough, he or she would be able to notice the faint red color that it possessed. Whatever was happening, he could not let it get worse than it already is.

The human came to a halt once. He was at the entrance to the Human Village. Two armed guards stood at attention at the village's entrance, making sure that no youkai of any sort wandered in. It seemed like the village was on full alert because of the incident. Of course, even a fool would notice the odd weather lately and will immediately know that a youkai was responsible for it.

The human watched the boy enter the village without the guards even noticing him. He was about to follow the child when the guards suddenly entered a defensive stance at his appearance.

"State your name and purpose!" ordered the second as he drew a katana from its sheathe.

The human only stared at them with his gray eyes. It was only then after a few seconds did he take a step forward, causing the guards to flinch and tighten their guard. To their surprise, the human did not attack but merely stood there while...smiling?

"Heh, I cut my hair and disappeared for five years, and you already don't recognize me," said the human with an amused expression, causing the two guards to glance at each other for a moment, "Very well, I suppose I can re-introduce myself. My name is Rook, I'm a friend of Ms. Kamishirasawa of the school here."

The guards jumped at the sound of his name. Clearly they had not recognized the human's appearance due to his new looks. They both proceeded to lower their weapons and perform a respectful bow despite looking older than him.

"We didn't recognize you, Rook-sama. It has been too long," apologized the first guard while still dipping his head low.

Rook cracked a small smile at that and said, "No need for the –sama, just Rook is fine."

"We apologize once more; we must remain vigilant in the face of an incident. There is also no telling if you're a youkai disguised as a person who has not been seen for a long while," said the second guard with a hint of suspicion in his tone.

"I understand Hiroshi-san. There's nothing wrong with being alert especially now, though I can say that I still remember that time when you asked me about how you were going to confess to your wife. How long has it been? Twelve years?" asked Rook as he enjoyed the flustered expression the guard made.

Chuckling at his companion's reaction, the first guard then asked, "You haven't changed a bit. Still the same as my grandfather says, but if I may ask, where did you disappear off to? The villagers were all wondering where you went. And to reappear during the first incident in a long time, it certainly looks to be more than just a coincidence, aye?"

"Let's just say that I took a long vacation," said Rook, "Ah, now that the small talk is over, may I pass now? I'm afraid that I have business to attend to with Ms. Kamishirasawa."

"Very well," said the second guard drawing back his weapon to let the human pass.

Rook said his goodbyes and was just entering the village when the first guard called to him, "If you have time, stop by the Black Cat and catch a few drinks! You appear to have a few new stories for us!"

Turning one last time to the guards, Rook waved a hand in indication that he heard them. After a few seconds, he faces the foggy village and begins walking once more in search of the child he saw earlier. All he can say is that the place hasn't changed that much in his absence. The same stalls, shops, houses, and buildings stood within the village. The same familiar Japanese feudal era designs that Rook could never help but to love. This was home, his second home. The only thing that disturbed him was the lack of people, the strange absence of the bustling shoppers and loud voices of the vendors at the market. Usually at this time of day the streets would be filled with people. Did it have anything to do with this fog?

Rook could sense the presence of people within their shops, so it was highly unlikely that most of them are hiding in their cellars during an incident. Some shopkeepers were too stubborn to let a day pass without selling something. Rook lifted his head to gaze at the gray skies. It's been days and Reimu still hasn't solved this yet? The miko was always a lazy girl, but whenever an incident decides to show its ugly face, she's always raring to go. But now . . Rook could not help but feel a bit worried.

He knew the capabilities of the people within the mansion and he also had faith in Reimu's abilities. Yet all the same, why did he feel a bit worried?

A tug on the back of his coat brought him back to reality. Rook noticed the boy from earlier gesturing for him to follow before running towards what looked like an antique store. The human slowly heads towards the same place without question. A bell rings at the far end of the store as Rook enters. He finds the boy staring at a wooden horse with a big smile.

"How may I help you?" greeted the shopkeeper, an elderly woman in a green kimono. "Ah Rook-san, it's been too long!"

"Akane-san! How are you?" asked Rook, extending his hand in a formal western greeting.

The old woman cheerfully accepted the handshake and replied, "Doing fine, old friend."

"Heh, you still act the same," said Rook before releasing her hand. The old woman, however, gave no notice at the boy gawking at the toy just above the old shelf behind Akane.

"To disappear suddenly like that, you really had all of us worried," said Akane while wiping her dusty counter with an old rag, "but then again, it is you we are talking about. The Strange Human that Comes and Goes. When you interact with the people of this generation, all of the stories about you being an urban legend will disappear."

The old lady sets aside her rag below her counter before continuing, "So, if I may ask, where did you run off to this time."

"The same place I always go whenever I need a time off," replied Rook, "The Outside's really changed and this place hasn't."

"Oh? So you prefer that world over this one? I can't blame you for choosing a world without the Yakumos watching your every step," said Akane with a laugh. Wiping the counter once more with a sweep, the old woman then asks, "So what can I help you with today?"

Rook glanced to his side as he felt another tug on his right sleeve. He saw the boy pointing at the wooden horse with his free hand while smiling. Rook released a light sigh before saying, "I think I'll take that horse. How much is it?"

"Well seeing as you have your own currency, a coin will do," replied Akane as she went to get the horse. Rook paid the old woman before saying goodbye as he went out. Stopping just outside the shop, Rook knelt down and presented the horse to the boy who was eager to have it.

Brushing the boy's hair once, Rook spoke, "Here, take it . . . ."

With the toy horse in his hands, the boy gave the human a respectful bow before he began to glow. "Rest in peace. Thank you for guiding me in homecoming," finished Rook as the spirit nodded and disappeared in a slight burst of lights. Sighing once more, Rook turned to face the presence that was behind him.

"Going for a walk, Keine-sensei?" he asked.

A woman dressed in a dark blue dress with short white sleeves gave Rook a startled look before turning it into a smile. Her outfit was completely different from the last time Rook saw her. A red ribbon tied at the base of her collar and a strange building like hat atop of her head were the most obvious differences. Her dark brown eyes still had that warm twinkle within them; it was as if she hadn't aged at all. She was a half-youkai, though so that could very well be true, as her aging process was a lot slower than a normal human's. Nevertheless, this was the same Keine that Rook met years ago.

"Rook-san, I almost didn't recognize you there," said Keine before bowing, a traditional Japanese greeting, "How are you these days? You haven't sent us a letter or anything in quite some time now."

"Yeah, well I had a few things to do," replied Rook while placing his hands in his coat pockets. A loud smack echoed throughout the ghost town like village, and Rook was immediately kneeling on the floor, clutching his head. Keine was already walking away, saying, "There's a tea shop just around the corner, and you can explain yourself there."

Groaning in pain, the human could only say, "Y-yes, ma'am" before collapsing.


"So how's the school been progressing?"

"At a steady pace; those children that you helped build the plumbing with have graduated."

"So where are they now?"

"Well most of them are working in the village; the more adventurous idiots went to Kotohime's training center."

"That crazy woman is still active? Well whatever, those idiots would probably feel hell anytime soon. That cop/princess is like a bag of nuts."

"As much as I respect Kotohime, I have to agree. She is sometimes... odd."

"Village protectors of the same feather..."

"So you're telling me I'm odd!?"

"No, you're weird. Who else would turn into a rampaging horned beast that wants to head butt anyone within fifty feet?"

"Would you like me to give you a taste of that now?"

A sigh emanated from the half closed tea shop. A single humble table was taken out from within along with two wooden chairs at Keine's request. Do people really like her that much or does she have a lot of influence in the village? Either way Rook didn't care, and just sat there drinking his tea. As Keine was arranging the papers she brought, Rook let his gaze rest upon a mirror reflecting his appearance. What used to be long shaggy blonde hair was now cut short, leaving his ears exposed and the few strands hanging at the back of his neck. A single long fringe made its way across his face, which prompted him to blow it away at times when it got in his way. His eyes were the same nimbus gray.

His old metal plated brown gloves were replaced by gray ones with the same symbols of Yin and Yang at both left and right. The gloves were fingerless, leaving Rook's fingers numb at times due to the cold. His old combat boots were replaced by normal boots of an unknown hide, though they were surprisingly warm and comfortable. Around his waist, a white belt bag and a gun holster which housed the tranquilizer gun he received from the Border Youkai. The belt bag complimented his pants which hung loosely, ending near the ankle. A knife was tied to a strap within his coat, resting on his dark blue shirt.

And finally, his old travelling cloak was now replaced by a simple brown coat. Rook stared at his reflection and queried himself on how many times he has changed his appearance over the course of the years. Despite his youthful appearance, it didn't make him feel any younger.

Rook's attention was turned to the young woman who was now refilling his and Keine's teacup before leaving for the back room.

Keine arranged the last bit of her papers before setting them down aside the table with a loud thud. "It isn't like you to come here just for small talk, Rook. The only times you come here to the village you either frolic around the shops or come to see me. I sense that it has something to do with the latter because of this incident, no?"

"I couldn't say that you're wrong," said Rook with an eyebrow raised, looking bored.

This time, it was Keine's turn to release a heavy sigh, "Fine, what do you want to know? And I won't even ask about your five year excursion in the Outside World."

"Are there any casualties because of the incident yet? Anyone injured, or any strange happenings?" replied Rook, sitting up straight.

"Not that I know of. The village chief has already decided to launch patrols of six around the village, night and day," said Keine, "Ever since the mist erupted out of nowhere, the chief has already set the entire village on high alert. Because of that my classes had to be put to a stop so I can help with the security."

"And none of the youkai ever thought of raiding the village, eh?" said Rook while taking a sip of his tea.

"Yes, it seems like they're letting the mist do its job, if it has any."

"There's nothing wrong with the mist, it's just any normal kind if mist. There's nothing magical about in the first place," Rook explained, looking particularly calm about it. Keine knitted her eyebrows, skeptical of what the human had just said.

"How do you know?" asked Keine.

"I'm familiar with the culprit," said Rook, his voice lacking any color, "Anything new with Youkai activities? Did they increase any after the incident began?"

"Actually, yes," replied Keine, dismissing the question that has formed within her mind. If Rook knew the culprit, then he may know how to deal with them. He may be able to solve this incident faster than the Shrine Maiden. "Due to the lack of sunlight, the plant youkai have run amok at the heart of the Forest of Magic; though they pose no threat to the village, humans living within the area must be cautious. If possible, we told the villagers to avoid the area completely. The only times we've heard anything from the youkai these past five years was at the start of this incident. Without the sun, nocturnal youkai are now walking during the day and they also seem to grow more powerful by night. A few nights ago during the full moon, I felt the night empowering me."

"So almost none of the villagers are allowed outside without an armed escort," inferred the human, thinking hard, "If that's the case, then you guys must be having a hard time getting supplies from the neighbouring villages. I saw it for myself: because of the lack of sun, the plants are starting to wither and die."

"Not to mention that youkai are more aggressive, though not as aggressive as they were the last time you visited," said Keine. She released a deep sigh which caused Rook to glance at her. The woman must be having a lot more problems than she's letting on.

"So, how do you know the culprit?" asked Keine, seeing this as a chance to sate her curiosity, "Are you even sure that you do know?"

"Positive," replied Rook, finishing his cup of tea, "I used to babysit that person. Things must be pretty bad on their side if they finished their end of the deal."

"Deal? What deal?"

Rook turned his head to look at Keine and smiled, "Ah, nothing. Just personal matters that I have to tidy up."

"I see. I suppose that you're going now? To wherever you're going?" guessed Keine.

"I think so. I've asked around the surrounding areas for some answers and I found out that the parts where the mist is thickest will probably be where the source is located," said Rook, rising from his seat as he got ready, "I questioned various youkai that were sensible enough to hold a conversation about what they knew. So far they've all pointed to the Misty Lake. A fitting area for the source of all this fog."

Keine nodded in agreement, "I thought so. There were large amounts of power focused in that area a few weeks back. Rook, you have to be careful, remember what you said to Akyuu five years back? About how the youkai are attracted to large amounts of energy? It turned out that you were right. Though youkai do gather in some areas filled with energy, it's only one species that is most abundant in the area. As a result, you'll pretty much encounter the same type of youkai while heading there, minus the fairies."

"I see, anything else you have to tell me?"

"Yes, head towards the lake shore and start your investigation there. There's a youkai rumored to know what's going at the heart of the incident itself. You should watch out for a floating black ball if I were you," replied Keine while searching for something in her bag. Taking out several vials of what looked like water with a greenish hue, then handing them to Rook while saying, "Earth's Blood. The same healing waters that helped you and caused a lot of trouble in the village. Save them for when you're really hurt, don't rely too much on that healing magic of yours because I've already recorded that it's faulty."

Rook studied the vials for a moment before stuffing them in his belt bag. "Thanks, I appreciate the help."

"Go and good luck. Try not to die since you just got back. You may want to speak with Lady Hieda once this is all over," said Keine with a warm smile.

"Will do," replied Rook before nodding to her one last time and heading towards one of the village exits.

Keine's smile slowly transforms into a mix of worriment and irritation. It seems like she felt as if she had just sent the human to his death sentence. Hopefully Rook will manage to survive, yet she couldn't shake the feeling that bad things were to happen without him.


Year: 2005

5:15 Post-meridian

Tall Grass Path, Gensokyo


BANG!

BANG!

BANG!

The sounds of gunshots echoed deep within an unnamed forest followed by a loud ear-splitting shriek. Rook dove to his right just as the bat youkai released its familiar, yet painful scream, enough to make the hair at the back of Rook's neck to stand. Gritting his teeth and summoning his willpower to ignore the ringing in his ears, Rook burst from the bush that he was hiding in while firing three more shots at the youkai. Green darts hit their target and the youkai falls to the ground unconscious.

Rook turns to his right to face another youkai headed his way. Aiming down the sight of the gun and pulling the trigger, the human only needed one shot to knock this threat out. A satisfying thud was heard as Rook watched the youkai fall before his boots. Realizing that he has spent all of his ammo, Rook made quick work when replacing his used magazine with a new one before pulling the slide, making the pistol utter a click.

Once he has reloaded his weapon, the human spun to his left to meet his new opponents. The pistol barked twice and the two bat youkais fell to the ground, asleep due to the sleep inducing drug the darts contained.

The human tried to catch his breath before saying, "My aim's far better than last time."

Rook closed his eyes for a second to calm his nerves before opening them again to study his fallen opponents. Most youkai in Gensokyo can attain human appearances once they've reached a certain aged. It was no surprise to the human that these goons were no different. They appeared to be human at first sight but upon further inspection, Rook identified the large bat like ears on their heads, their lack of hair causing them to look balding, ridiculously long canines, and a flat flesh-like nose. They also appeared to have thick eyebrows and peasants clothes. The clothes were cut at the back to make room for their large leathery wings, which they used for flight.

"One type of youkai for each area," muttered Rook as he stood up, covering his nose at the scent of the youkai's rotten breath, "Minus the fairies, yeah right….."

Placing his gun back in its holster, Rook figured that the darts will have the youkais asleep for about a week. It wasn't his problem if they starved, but at least they were alive. Turning his back to the sleeping beasts, Rook proceeded to enter the deeper parts of the forest, hoping to reach the other side where the lakeshore was located.

Twenty minutes passed without incident, giving Rook enough time to think. If the mansion was indeed located somewhere on the lake, then how will he get there? Flying was out of the question for he could not lift himself from the ground using magic. Just as well, he knew no spells to aid him in air travel. Turning to mist and wait for a breeze to blow in the right direction would be pointless and troublesome at the same time. There had to be some other way. Maybe he could ask someone for help, but who? Fairies? They're not smart enough or strong enough to help him anyway. The bat youkai? After what he did, he doubted that he'd get their cooperation. Besides, they were beasts; they were driven by their instincts to begin with.

A familiar humming caught Rook's attention, causing him to turn to the source of the sound. He spotted a small black orb of darkness floating peacefully among the trees, nearly hitting them. Rook stared at it for a few seconds before pointing a palm filled with blue electricity at it and releasing a lightning bolt faster than a bullet.

The bolt hit its mark which elicited a "Kyaaaaa~!" and a thud soon followed by the sounds of groaning. Rook calmly shoved aside any plant that got in his way as he walked towards the place where the black orb just crashed. In the area where the orb should have been, sat a blonde girl in a black vest and skirt.

"Rumia," said Rook in a monotone voice giving him a glare from the girl.

"Bloody hell, mate! What in the name of all the seven hells was that for?!" shouted the girl named Rumia, absolutely furious at the moment, "Goodness gracious, my mouth tastes like metal! Do you fancy greeting people with a shock and a bullet to the head?"

Rook raised an eyebrow at that one, "Do you . . still recognize me?"

"Perhaps . . . ." Rumia looked into the distance as if thinking very hard, "You do seem familiar, ah yes. YOU WERE THAT BLOKE THAT LOBBED LIGHTNING BOLTS AT ME WHENEVER I GOT SPOTTED! THAT JOLLY OLD CHAP THAT LODGED A BULLET IN MY HEAD FIVE YEARS AGO!"

"Well that's good," commented Rook as Rumia continued to stamp her feet in frustration, letting off her steam. Rook seemed to remain unfazed and was somehow mildly impressed on how colorful this little girl's language could get when irritated. Rumia of the Evening Shade, a youkai that can manipulate the darkness. She's a man-eater despite her harmless appearance; Rook caught her in the act of devouring human corpses near the Road of Reconsideration and the Road of Liminality. Before Rook could even get to a distressed outsider who was foolish enough to cross the border, Rumia had already caught them and was already eating them.

The first time he caught Rumia in the act, he threw everything he had at her, almost taking her life. But just as he was about to finish her off for good, she used her powers of darkness to escape. The second time they met was when she was chasing a poor soul through the forest of magic. Rook saved the outsider and had Rumia by her neck that time. It turned out that he was far stronger than her and she was forced to escape once more.

Their following meetings were... strange. At times when Rook was going for a stroll, Rumia would attack him out of nowhere only for her ambush to backfire on her. As time passed, Rumia proposed a kind of game. A game between Hunter and the Rescuer. She explained that she was a youkai and she needed to eat. She also explained that it was a youkai's job to hunt humans and that she wasn't doing anything wrong. By playing this game, Rook would have to give her a fighting chance against him whenever an outsider wanders across Rumia's territory. It's up to Rook to find and protect the outsider before Rumia could get to them. Once he does, Rumia has no choice but to find another meal without further struggle.

Rumia had just finished her last swear before saying, "What does a weirdo like you want with me? Do you enjoy bullying weaker youkai just because you're a strong human?"

"I need your help, and no, I just felt like hitting you for all of the people you ate," answered Rook in the same monotone voice.

"You? In need of my help? That doesn't sound convincing, old bean," said Rumia with a childish smile, though the malice in her voice was very obvious.

"It concerns this incident that has spread throughout Gensokyo. A friend told me that you knew something about the location of the source since you've been there," said Rook, his gray eyes meeting with Rumia's red ones.

The youkai smiled her sweet smile and said, "Very well, perhaps I can tell an old bloke like you after a bite," before edging closer to Rook's hand. Surprisingly, Rook allows her sharp, pearly white teeth to settle on his glove before channelling a house's worth of electricity into said hand. Rumia shook and jabbered as her teeth came in contact with the raw energy, causing a few strands of her hair to stand up.

Falling to the ground while rubbing her head, Rumia snapped at Rook, "Will you stop doing that?! It does not feel nice!"

"Your fault for biting the bait," said Rook in a cruel tone.

Rumia glared at him for a few seconds before saying, "Fine, I'll take you to my favourite spot. There you can see the place clearly. It's a long way from here and is really high up, are you sure you can handle it?"

"Of course," was Rook's only reply.

And so the two of them, human and youkai, began their journey from the forest to an elevated land west of the lake, from what Rook has judged. The scent of the trees and that of the damp ground beneath his feet felt oddly refreshing. His strength did not diminish as he and Rumia reached an area known to some as the Cliffs of the Oni. The place acted as a landmark for some great battle, but that was a story for another time. Rook surveyed the strikingly familiar mansion sitting atop of a patch of land from afar and found that there was no bridge of some sort that could help him get to it. Gazing at the mansion one last time, Rook returned to Rumia who was busy staring at nowhere in particular before noticing him.

"I assume that you found your problem, old bean?" asked Rumia while taking an odd interest in her nails.

"Yeah, do you know anyone that can help me cross? You're a youkai so basically you must have enough friends to help you with your lunch," said Rook while placing his left hand in his coat pocket, "I'm gonna need a lot more help than what I originally imagined."

Rumia flashed him her pearly white teeth in a smirk before saying, "Is that so~? I knew you'd say that, and I happen to know the perfect person for the job."

"Who?"

Rumia giggled like a little girl as she said in the same childish tone with poorly hidden malice, "Just follow me~"


A lone fairy was carrying a large bouquet of flowers in her arms while she seemed to be searching for something... Or someone. The fairy sighed as she watched a few of her kin play tag in the outskirts of the forest, near the lake's edge. She then found herself floating above the lake, staring at her reflection at the lake's crystal clear waters. What she saw was a girl with short forest green hair and a youthful face that had two brilliant blue eyes.

She slowly lifts her gaze towards the source of the dense fog as a light breeze blew by, causing her blue dress to flutter around. Daiyousei yelped and tried to push her dress down before anyone saw. Unfortunately, two fairies playing nearby were watching. Daiyousei's face suddenly grew warm as the fairies flew away, snickering. If her only friend were here to witness what had just happened, then it would be the end of her. The embarrassment was enough to kill her.

Unlike the other fairies she was a head taller, so every single one of them, even her friend, called her elder or senior. It didn't mean that she disliked it, in fact she somehow enjoyed being looked up to. Being a role model on how to be a proper fairy meant the others will follow her actions.

Daiyousei sighed while fluttering her golden wings.

It seemed like she was all alone on the lake now, so why did she feel an ominous feeling creeping through her skin?

"Dai-chan~" called a voice, making Daiyousei turn to the source as she heard her name. She was relieved that it was only Rumia, though it didn't last long as she saw another person with her, making the fairy cautious. From the looks of it, the person appeared to be a male in his late teens. He had a confused look on his face the moment he saw Daiyousei. She figured that he was no threat since he didn't look hostile.

"Rumia? What are you-?" started the fairy, but was cut off the moment Rumia had her arms outstretched on either side of her. Faster than the eye can see, a great sized skull formed from the smoke that was coming out of Rumia's back and swallowed Daiyousei whole, trapping her within.

Rook acted by instinct at the sight and drew his gun, pointing at Rumia's head, "What the heck are you doing?"

"Baiting her out!" answered Rumia as she manipulated the skull, making it thrash around, causing Daiyousei to tumble within it. Rook couldn't help but feel sorry for her.

"What the hell are you talking about?! Get her out of there or else I'll shoot!" warned Rook, lifting his gun menacingly.

Apparently Rumia wasn't listening, "Now all I have to do is this~." Suddenly, the skull's mouth opened giving Daiyousei the chance to scream out loud at the top of her voice.

"CIRNO HELP ME!"

Rook stared in shock while Rumia continued to grin. Suddenly, the Darkness Youkai spun to face Rook and gave him a wink before disappearing in the form of a liquid shadow that zipped into nowhere. Daiyousei was left trapped within the sound proofed skull while crying. That little sneak. Rook ran towards the black skull and examined it for a bit. It turned out that it had no air holes, so that sound and air cannot pass through. The fairy has no oxygen and will certainly be running out sooner or later.

Rook pounded at the skull once and found out that it was harder than a rock. Blasting it with a bolt could get the fairy caught in the blast. Shooting it would be useless. Unless he wanted to free her, he had to find Rumia and wring her neck for this. Did the air suddenly become cold?

Rook jerked to his right to avoid an icicle hitting the place where is head should have been. Drawing his gun, Rook glared at the culprit. His eyes widened at the appearance of a girl with six prisms like wings behind her. Another fairy, though it seemed like this one was different from the others. The fairy wasted no time talking and immediately performed a dive bomb. Rook had to dodge to prevent himself from getting hit.

The fairy had the same youthful face of a child like the other fairies, and the same blue dress as Daiyousei within the skull. Her short cerulean blue hair was tied by a large green ribbon at the back of her head as she glowered at the human with light blue eyes. She pointed a finger at Rook before saying, "You! Fight me and leave Dai-chan alone! I can't let you hurt her!"

Rook lowered his gun and held both of his hands up high, "Look, this isn't my fault and I'm not responsible for your friend's problem but I'll help if I can. Please there' no need for—"

"Stop your prattling!" cut off the fairy, "You will fight me because you're not going to get away with this!"

Rook bit back a curse. He can tell that she was no normal fairy. At least he hasn't heard of fairy becoming one with ice. She can be strong, she can be weak, and either way Rook didn't want to underestimate her for it would prove fatal. This one seemed to be one of the hard-headed bunches, great; there was no reasoning with this one other than beating some sense into her. Rumia probably planned this to get himself killed and eat his corpse after. Or maybe this was the person he was looking for, he couldn't really tell.

Rook's eyes widened when the fairy started drawing out a spellcard. A fairy with a spellcard? Now he knew that she wasn't an opponent to be taken lightly. Instead of retreating, a smile began to creep across his lips.

A sigh escapes him as he slumps his arms in defeat. "Fine, I'll fight you," said Rook with his gaze at the battle ready ice fairy, "Though we play by my rules."

The ice fairy tenses, an expected reaction. "Your rules? That's not fair!" cried the fairy, ready to activate her spellcard.

"Nope, it isn't fair at all. You can still use Danmaku if you want. It's not like it's different from using spellcards anyway," explained Rook as calmly as he could, "Are you interested in the Pacifist Mode?"

"Eh?"

"The rules are simple and these also apply in spellcard battles," continued Rook, seeing the fairy's confused face, "One: is that you can use any of your spellcards without time limit. Two: is that I'm not allowed to use my spellcards during the battle. Three: is that I will remain on the ground while you can fly to your heart's content. Four: I hit you three times, it's game over. And if you are the last person standing, then it's your win."

The fairy's mind seemed to have trouble processing all of this, nevertheless she understood….. Somehow.

"So I hit with all I got and I win?" said the fairy in the simplest term she could think of.

"Mmm, close enough," replied Rook.

"Deal!"

Within the skull, Daiyousei was yelling at Cirno to stop but her voice wouldn't reach her friend. Cirno didn't know that this was all Rumia's doing and if she somehow accidentally kills that person then she will be in deep trouble. That person also didn't look like he was weak or anything. If Cirno was going to fight, then Daiyousei had to tell her to be careful. Either way, this wasn't going to end well.

"My name is Cirno, and I'm going to kick your butt!" introduced Cirno while flying up to declare her Spellcard, "Hailsign~HailStorm!"

At the back Rook's head, a tiny voice muttered, Battle Start!

Proof that he has played too many games while on the Outside. His focus returned to reality as it suddenly began to rain ice. Icicles made of Danmaku were born from the ice fairy's wings herself in waves. It had no definite pattern and left a great deal of gaps for him to make his way through. Apparently if he were only able to fly, he wouldn't be able to get close for close combat anyway. And hitting children wasn't really his style. He continued to weave and dance on the ground while Cirno seemed to be enjoying his display.

"Yeah, that's it! Dance you mean human! That's what you get for messing with the fairies!" laughed Cirno, confident that she would win this.

It was only a matter of time before Rook got hit, he knew it was inevitable yet prepared himself anyway. Being on the ground made him easy target but he didn't care. It was all part of the plan. Rook stretched out his right arm and gathered electricity. Unlike last time since his power was greatly decreased, his electricity was now the bright color of sapphire instead of pure white. They didn't carry the same amount of power and yet… They still hurt a lot if you get hit!

Rook let loose a bolt once; followed by another in the brief time he had for the space he was in to remain open. The ice fairy noticed this and brought her hands together while leaving a space between her palms. The icicles headed for random directions all suddenly increased in numbers, causing the area to be dense with ice bullets giving the bolts no chance to hit the fairy.

"Ha! You'll have to try better than that!" taunted Cirno while increasing the amounts of icicles in the air. The gap disappeared and Rook was back to dodging in the ground. Cirno was confused, the human didn't seem tired or anything since the last five minutes of constant movement. He hasn't even stop to rest and only halted when he fired those bolts. She found him strange because he never got tired.

Behind the trees, Rumia watched. Just what is with him? Proposing rules that would put him in the wrong end of the stick, thought Rumia biting her lower lip. She wished that Rook should just hurry up dying so she can feed him to the other youkai. He's crazy! Just look at him, why does he have a hand on these rules anyway? Wasn't the shrine maiden the only one who can control it? Besides, from what I've heard from the others, the rules were applied to this big Barrier and yet why can he bend it? Gahhh, this is so confusing!

Rumia continued to observe the battle from afar and noticed a few things. Cirno's spell card as promised hasn't timed out yet and was still continuing its random barrages to nowhere, though most of the icicles were aimed towards the ground. Rook was managing quite well for a human. Giving his long years of experience in battles, it seemed like he was used to this kind of setting. Or maybe he just practiced beforehand. Rook wasn't just firing lightning bolts this time, but energy filled orbs of electricity. Slow moving yet the amount of force they create when detonated was enough for the trees around Rumia to shake.

That was where she saw it.


{Elsehwere…..}

Can you see it..? Can you see it…? Come on look through it. He's right there. He's going to save you? Wow that's new. He's coming to save us! Really? I thought we already lost hope. He's there. He's there. We can see him. Come on closer, you can see him too, right? Hey! Look through his eye. His eye. Red….Sweet…. He's fighting the fairy. The fairy? If she hurts him, then we'll break her. Break her? That's fun! If they dare hurt him, then we'll break them too. BLOOD! Hey, you're too noisy! Come on look through it! See? See? Flan-chan look! Hey Flanny look at him he's coming to save you! His eye, his eye…. Look through it…. We'll be very angry if the fairy hurts him. Looky, looky, Rook almost died! AHAHAHAHA! Hey! Be quiet you're too noisy! Flandre…

Flandre….. Why do you insist that you're going to be saved?

"Because…..He promised me….."

Promised? Do you really think he'll be able to keep it this time?

"Shut up…"

..

It's no use, she's too much of a wuss to listen anyway.

AHAHAHAHAHA! She's useless! Useless, no wonder sis never liked us!

"Shut up... All of you shut up!"

..Flandre, why do you keep on believing? I don't understand you at all.

"Go away… You're all mean. Why can't you just leave me alone?"

We can't silly! Even if we wanted to we can't.

Heeheehee, I'll play with Rook first when he comes to save us. So much fun! Candy! Candy!

Flandre… You do realize that….We're a part of you…

"He'll make you all go away. I know he will."

Where do you get all this faith….?


{Back at the battle….}

Rook had his hands clasped together before spreading them on either side of him. At that the same moment, blue power filled orbs surrounded him and homed towards Cirno who was still maintaining the same pattern she has used at the start of the battle.

Cirno can only increase the power and intensity of her attacks because of her spellcards, though Rumia wide eyed at the revelation, while that guy can freely manipulate his attacks into any kind of angle, pattern or position because he isn't using any Spellcard!

Rumia inhaled a lung full of air before shouting, "WOOHOO, I'M A GENIUS!"

A lightning bolt almost hit her in the head, causing her to duck and glare at Rook who was doing the same in the midst in the fall of ice, finding enough time to make a throat slitting gesture with his thumb. Rumia gulped and continued thinking, I knew it! I knew he won't do something crazy without planning out ahead, he knew this from the start and he wanted Cirno to underestimate him with the advantage of flying and spellcards. He's trying to get Cirno to lower her guard!

"Hey, you blue headed fool!" shouted the darkness at the ice fairy.

Cirno took the time to find the source of the call and said, "Rumia?"

"Cancel the Spellcard you mumbling blighter! You're playing at the palm of his hand!" continued Rumia, "Cancel the Spellcard with another, NOW!"

Before Cirno could even process the youkai's words, two orbs detonated on either side of her, though the power wasn't enough to land an actual hit but enough to stun and clear the area of icicles. Rook slid on the ground and came to a halt on a kneeling position to avoid an incoming icicle. How Rumia managed to figure it out impressed him. It seemed like that the Youkai of Darkness wasn't a complete man eating idiot after all. However whether they cracked the puzzle or not, he was going to win either way. Carefully taking aim with his palm, Rook shot five times making sure that at least one hit its target.

To his luck, two managed to land a direct hit, while the ice fairy grazed the last three by a hairs breadth.

"Darn, that's cheating!" complained the fairy, halting the waves of ice for a moment to speak.

Rook could only smile at that. Your mistake, he thought before imbuing his right arm with electricity. Aiming it at the fairy once more, a faster bolt was released missing Cirno by inches. Cirno finally decided to cancel her active Spellcard with another. Raising her hand in the air she declared her second card, "Happy Ice~Frozen Frogs!"

Rook expected more icicles but to his surprise there were none. Instead ice balls started to form around Cirno before she unceremoniously tosses them into the air and let gravity do its job. The human should have realized it the moment the ice balls were thrown into the air.

Carpet bombing, was his only thought before making a wild dive to his right. The patch of ground where he was standing earlier was now covered in a thick layer of ice about six feet long. Rook noticed that the ice balls that hit the lake's waters completely froze it. Apparently this was the person who he was looking for. He can make a bridge if he just used those balls of ice. But why did the fairy call the m frozen frogs?

Rook had to dodge another ice ball headed his way; the area that it could cover could prove fatal for him. For a split second he saw a silhouette of something within the ice ball. Ohhh, so that's why it's called frozen frogs….

He could just shoot the ice balls in the air before they hit the ground. It will probably save him energy on moving around. Rook began to gather energy in his hand once more and prepared himself to shoot at an ice ball headed towards him. He prepared his hand to shoot only to find that out that he didn't have any power left. Not only that but he miscalculated the distance of the speeding frozen frog, causing it to collide with his outstretched hand.

His heart skipped a beat at the sight of his right arm encased in solid ice. Rook fell backwards at the weight of his frozen arm. Rook tried to use electricity to thaw his arm out of the ice but couldn't find the power to do so. It seems like he used all of it on those orbs earlier. The coldness of the freezing ice made the blood in his arm almost stop and for his muscles to go numb. If this goes on for a few more minutes, then his entire will go dead.

He glanced at Cirno whom had a look of triumph in her face as she cancelled her Spellcard for the next one. Holding another card between her middle and index finger, Cirno shouted to the heavens, "Ice Sign~Freezer Sword!"

A medieval broad sword made of ice materialized within her tiny hands. It seemed like the fairy struggled to carry its weight, but nevertheless she was still a potential danger to Rook at the moment. For a moment, the sword gleamed in the sunless sky, casting a wicked light. Confident in her victory, Cirno dived.

"Not cool," muttered Rook as he struggled to channel power into his arm. If he could focus as much power as he can and release a bolt strong enough to break through the ice, he would be able to release his arm and dodge. However doing so would require time, which was something he didn't have right now for a rampaging fairy was on her way to cut him.

At the back of his head a tiny voice muttered once more, Crossroad time!

"What the hell is wrong with me?!" he asked while thinking, If the worst comes to worst then I'll have to use my gun and shoot her. But doing so will leave a bad taste in my mouth… Even if she is a fairy, shooting children isn't me at all. Rumia's an exception… Or… I could use my knife, but the fatigue that I'll experience after this will affect my infiltration of the mansion. Damn….

Rook rested his left hand above his chest and watched as black red electricity channel out of his coat. The dagger he had within his coat shined an ominous red and felt the warmth of power course through his right arm, giving him enough strength to lift it. Rook counted to three, and just as the fairy was ten feet away from him. He raised his frozen arm to mid chest and released the electricity contained within. Cirno didn't have enough time to react as she was consumed by the red-black glow and by the ice fragments.

{GOOD GAUGE INCREASED}


Cirno was lying on the ground groaning at the pain of the explosion. She didn't die, which was surprising since every time she played Danmaku she always died at some point. Just earlier that day she died because of a Red-White shrine maiden. It was as if the human she fought didn't want her to die on purpose. It was strange because she didn't understand it. Humans never liked fairies in the first place and yet why… Ah, is that Daiyousei? She was above Cirno, calling her name. It seemed like she was okay, which was good. It meant that Cirno successfully saved her.

"Cirno! Cirno can hear me?" Daiyousei frantically asked at her fallen friend. The Greater Fairy's eyes widened as Cirno opened her own, and not a moment too soon embraced her in a bone cracking hug. "You dumb idiot, don't do something like that again!"

"The mean person, where is…he?" asked the ice fairy, though her voice was weak.

"He wasn't mean, he even helped you recover," explained Daiyousei, wiping the dirt on Cirno's cheek with her dress, "It was all Rumia's fault, she was the one who trapped me and had that person fight you. He didn't actually want to fight, but you didn't listen. Now look at you, you're all hurt."

"Rumia did? Where is she I'm gonna give her a knuckle- ouch!" Cirno tried to rise but found it too painful to do so.

"Please I need you to rest," said Daiyousei, it looked as if she was close to tears.

Now that Cirno thought of it, she was resting beneath the shade of a large tree as she lay on the soft green grass. She saw what she did on the lake shore and her eyes instantly lit up.

"I froze the lake…." She muttered in a daze. She looked at Daiyousei and shook her lightly, "I froze the lake….woohoo…." With a thud, Cirno fell on her back once more, staring at the gray sky just above the roof of leaves above her.

"That man that was with Rumia…was strange," said Daiyousei, "Even after she tricked him, he still took her with him, muttering something about using her as a guide. He also borrowed a couple of your frozen frogs to make a path to that big mansion."

"They must be strong….To go to that scary place…." The second time Cirno tried to raise herself, she found out that she was successful, "But still, I'm gonna hit Rumia in the eye for tricking you…."

Daiyousei didn't have anything to say and continued to stare at her friend. She didn't catch the human's name as he left, but she had the feeling that she'll know sooner or later. But for now, something strange was happening….And she could only hope that he could put a stop to it.


Nicolas Notes: I would like to thank Acha and Wolf for pre-reading this chapter for me. Despite the heavy hits I took, the former got me thinking on a alot of things, heh. Now seriously, this hobby of writing of mine just got a whole lot complicated. I dunno if this is a record time release, but what the heck. Just caught up to Imperfect Metamorphosis and it was like a mind screwy drug dipped in coffee and reheated five times on Mokou's flame that gave me crazy ideas of mine own.

Seriously the fic jus as I did in the first chapter. Now I'm reading the Shrine of Gensokyo by Wrathe Winsre.

Thanks again to Wolfsbane and Achariyth! Now I'm off to working on the next update! And school... expect the next one to take a long while.

See ya! Oh and reviews are highly valued more than gold, don't forget to leave one! Seriously...