Umm, okay I can explain how a supposed 1000 word one shot turned into this 20,000 word behemoth... Okay I have none...
I just hope you guys will enjoy this story... Did it when I was bored...
I suggest you guys rest your eyes every 3 minutes to prevent passing out in the middle of the story...
Umm, that's it for now, My name is Nicolas and welcome to the Withering Star...
Disclaimer: I do not own touhou or any other touhou related materials, The girl is mine and mine alone.
The night was in its prime as young girl stumbled out of the dark overgrown bushes of the dim forest. She pressed her hand against the thick trunk of an oak to support her already tired body. At a first glance, the girl seemed okay, but upon a closer inspection, she was a mess. The hem of her dark purple skirt had a tiny rip, and was stained with dried mud. Her pinkish long sleeved shirt was weather beaten and dirty, with a few cuts along the sleeves.
The girl's pale face was covered by a few streaks of dirt across her cheek, while bearing the expression of extreme tiredness. Her long chocolate brown hair that was tied behind her head was draped over her right shoulder, as she bowed her head low from exhaustion. The girl nearly jumped out of her skin as she heard the bushes behind her rustle, but when she turned around to look she found nothing. After making sure that she was not being followed, the girl trudged along.
"Four days, still no sign of civilization" huffed the girl, as she broke into a light jog; she had to get moving if the woman in black burst out of nowhere all of a sudden.
It has been four days ever since she arrived in this surreal, yet unknown location with a few companions. Unfortunately three hours prior to her arrival, her companions were killed, eaten even by a woman dressed in a black silk robe. She can still remember the horrifying sight of witnessing her companions be devoured mercilessly by the woman.
The girl only managed to escape by allowing her last companion to sacrifice herself in the girl's place, an action that tugged the young lady's heart, but strengthened her will to live at the same time. It was supposed to be a simple outing out of her estate, until it turned into this troublesome nightmare.
Small shrubs stung her legs as jogged, yet she ignored her body's protests and continued moving. She cannot stay within one area for long in fear that she would be caught, thus making her labor all for naught.
A nagging voice within her mind told her that someone was following her; it was like that for days already, though she did her best to ignore it. She regarded it as her paranoid self, trying to take over her composed and calm state; however it was only now that it began to badger her frantically.
For a fraction of second she saw the silhouette of a person jogging beside her at the corner of her eye, yet disappeared as soon as it came. At first she thought it was only her imagination, but a large part of her knew better. Without thinking, she broke into a sprint.
Crickets chirped, owls hooted, the wind blowing through her ears as she ran her hardest throughout the quiet night.
She heard someone or something following her close behind, though she dared not look back.
She tried to calm herself, to control her fear of her impending demise, just so she can focus on running. She managed to gather enough speed to leap athletically over a fallen log, before making a sharp turn towards east.
The cool midnight air either rushed past or entered her panting lips, stinging her lungs with every breath she took. She ran and ran with that unknown being close behind. Her breathing was shallow and she began to slow. She had to rest, she cannot run forever. She saw how that woman fought, she would stand no chance with the weapons nature has available, consisting of rocks and sticks. No, but she knew in her heart she would not die running like a child frightened by a thunder storm.
One part of her mind told her that it was only an animal after her, that she still has the chance to fight it, the other part of her frantically screamed that it was the black robed woman. She decided that it was the latter, for her luck has always been pointed downhill.
As she ran, the girl came across a creek which she wisely leapt over, however a chill went down her spine as she heard a loud splashing noise sound close behind. Her heart was beating so fast as though it wanted to escape its cage in a futile attempt to avoid being devoured by a raging cannibal, while her brain throbbed as it fought to keep the girl calm and clear minded, however it did not seem to do much good.
Fear began to creep in, as did hopelessness similar to that of an iron needle piercing the human skin. Her footsteps fell in synch with her heart beats. Her already tired limbs began to protest from being pushed past their limits while her speed began to slow down.
No, not now! She screamed internally, Please, just one more mile!
A seemingly impossible plan was formed within her mind as she ran, however she had to break past her endurance's current limit for the plan to work. She was competing against the woman in black for having the greatest stamina at running, in hope that the woman will tire and give up the chase, giving the girl enough time to escape, however the only problem was she did not know her limits until now.
The girl had never participated within sporting events due to her position in the family. It already surprised her that she lasted this long for the last four days all alone, for a person who has led a sheltered way of living all throughout her life.
Before she realized what happened, the girl had fallen face first into the unforgiving earth.
Damn it all, she cursed mentally, as she forced herself up her feet. She felt the warm gush of red trickle down from her forehead down her cheek. The dull pain above her brow indicated that she hit her head and cut the thin layer of skin between her skull. With her last remaining strength, she forced herself to stand and begin running once more, only to find out that she sprained her ankle causing her to limp.
The injury is not that bad, but it will cost her very precious time with every second she delays. The girl quickly turned around, causing her long skirt to ripple along the sudden movement, only to find no one behind her once again. She could have sworn that there was someone breathing down her neck just moments before.
The girl kept turning her head from left to right, taking every detail of her surroundings from the calming aroma of the forest to the slightest sound of the leaves of the tall trees. Her right hand trailed towards her left arm and began to rub it slowly in an attempt to warm her from the cool evening air.
She took a step back, before turning around again so that she can continue her way, but was met by a flash of black and a fist to the stomach. The woman in black's monstrous strength lifted the poor girl off her feet causing her to crash at the far end of a clearing she had just entered. The girl fell into a thick tree stump with a dull thud, causing her to lose the little air she had left within her lungs. The force of the impact made her think that she had just broken her spine, lucky for her such a thing did not happen. The pain from being hit blurred her vision and made her head throb.
Went the girl's heartbeat. Her breathing became slow, yet still shallow from her stinging lungs. Lifting her arms became a struggle as she willed her right hand to touch her bleeding forehead.
She heard the soft falls of feet crush the grass that was beneath them, the rippling of cloth, and the ragged breathing of a human being.
It seems like she caught me, thought the girl, as she waited for death to claim her. She closed her eyes and silently prayed.
For a few moments there was silence, save for the unknown person's ragged breathing. The girl was confused; this person had murdered her companions in cold blood without hesitating, yet now it stand before her as if waiting for something. The clearing suddenly became quiet, the person's breathing has ceased. The girl mustered her remaining courage and opened both of her eyes. As soon as she did, she greatly regretted it for her already cold blood froze in fear.
She was staring into two crimson pools of blood with a narrow shaped islands resting at the middle, only to realize that the pools were actually eyes. The black robed woman's face was inches from the girl's, her crimson eyes gazing deep into the girl's very soul.
The girl held her breath as she realized what happen. She could feel the small puffs of warm air that was exhaled from the woman's lips on her own, and for some horrible reason, exhilarating her despite her current situation.
After a few nerve wrecking seconds, the woman pulled away and loomed over the injured girl.
"Please, don't kill me" pleaded the girl, hot tears forming within her eyes, "I don't want to die"
The woman gave her a cold look with her hungry looking eyes. The woman looked the same as she was four days ago. Waist length blonde hair, a beautiful inhuman face that would have rivaled those of beauty queens if it were not smeared in dry gore.
A black flowing silk dress beneath a long dark robe that reached her ankles, her wrists bearing two obsidian bracelets each respectively, and a red neck tie at the middle of her chest. What the girl found frightening about the woman was not the obsidian black broadsword with crimson linings hanging at her back, neither was the dried blood of the girl's companions which the woman in black licked passionately as she gazed at the young lady before her. But it was the fact that the woman seemed hungry.
The woman's eyes bore unto her as if finding the best way of butchering the girl with her eyes similar that to a starving wolf, ready to tear its dinner apart.
She's insane, screamed the girl mentally, her eyes wide as the woman drew her sword from its sheath, damn, all of those hours running and this is my reward? How fitting… I didn't even get the chance to be married before I die. Mother, Father, please forgive me…
The girl managed to plead out once more, as the madwoman raised her blade. "Please, anyone, save me…"
The sound of the falling blade was never heard, the girl stared in shock as she watched the woman stop her blade just as she was about to bring it down.
The girl waited… Was the she going to live? Has sense finally appeared within this madwoman's mind?
The woman gave her a soft, kind hearted smile, which made her feel a wave of warmth envelope her, replacing the cold, mind numbing fear she was experiencing earlier. The girl could not help but crack a smile at the hope of being set free and left alone.
This hope however was shattered by the woman, smiling in a twisted manner, before saying, "Is that so~?"
The girl's hopes were crushed as the sword's sharp blade fell.
The cold touch of blade that the girl expected never came, instead she felt genuine warmth pass through her, no, not the kind of warmth she felt from the madwoman's smile, this warmth did not feel false or forced. It was if the girl was back within her mother's embrace, and her father's grasp. Even with her eyes closed, she could make out a bright ray of light that nearly blinded her even with both of her eyes shut tight. Her ears nearly popped at the loud humming of focused energy that she could hear near her.
The girl opened her eyes and found that the woman was gone. Breathing hard, she turned her gaze upwards and spotted a black speck tearing through the sky at a high speed.
The grass rustled causing the girl to flinch in alarm. The beam of light earlier erupted from her left side, so the source must be hidden within that area. The girl tightened her grip upon the stone her hand found, ready to throw it with all her strength in an attempt to defend herself from an attack. However what chance would a stone have against a beam of raw energy? A hopeless situation following that one earlier. How bad could her luck get?
The girl focused her eyes upon the rustling bushes far from her left. Her heart began to beat fast once more, the warmth disappearing replacing it with panic. The girl has lost all of her composure and was now shaking uncontrollably, after her close contact with the woman in black. Tears kept flowing down her cheeks as she stared at the rustling bushes. She wanted to scream yet she had no voice, she wanted to call for help yet she was all alone. She was saved from one monster, only to be killed by another.
The bushes continued shaking until a humanoid figure emerged from the leaves. It was another woman, a very old one at that.
The girl wondered if this was another cannibal, or a demon with a human form as a disguise. This old woman stared at her with harsh golden eyes before making her approach. Dried leaves crackled and the green grass sounded as the old lady made her way towards the girl. Her green travelling cloak that was draped of her shoulder swayed in synch as she walked.
Unlike the woman in black earlier, the old lady's robes were a shade of jade green while having a long piece of cloth tied in a diagonal manner around her waist. For an old lady of her age her posture was firm and straight, near perfect even. For some strange reason, the lady had an aura akin to that of a noble, yet the girl thought that she was not one just by looking at the old lady's clothing.
The girl sat frozen in fear at being subjected under those cold harsh golden eyes. She could somehow tell that back within the old lady's younger days that she was beautiful for even in old age made the young girl stared in awe at the sight.
The old woman stood before her and crouched down to her height, placing a firm grasp upon her shoulder with surprisingly strong arms before saying.
"Are you okay, my dear?" asked the lady, her brow furrowed showing the deep marks upon her forehead. Her tone was light and kind, sounding completely human with no trace of hostility. However, her eyes were still holding that harsh cold look.
The girl broke through her trance and finally found her voice. "I'm okay…" she squeaked in reply, gazing at the strands of gray hair upon the lady's aged face.
"Are you injured anywhere? Can you walk?" asked the old lady.
The girl winced at the thought of her sprained leg and her wounded forehead. "No, I can't walk…" came the girl's reply. The old lady noticed her looking at her ankle, and then the old woman placed a gentle palm over the injured area muttering a few unintelligible words. After a few moments the aged lady opened her eyes and stood up, continuing her way east of the clearing, disappearing behind a thicket of bushes that was in between two trees.
The girl was confused at first, seeing the woman act as though nothing happened right after she touched her sprained ankle. The girl then realized that her ankle no longer pained her. Her eyes wide, she slowly got up. Experimentally stomping her foot on the ground, she found out that her ankle was healed, feeling new and repaired.
Is that what they call magic? Wondered the girl as she stared after the woman.
For some reason she regarded the woman's immediate exit as a gesture for her to follow. Seeing that she had no other destination in mind, she ran after the old lady.
After heading deep into the heart of the forest, while carefully avoiding wild animals and monsters along the way, the girl found herself at the front of a very old western styled house. The house was small, but had enough space to have a second floor. Vines crept from the ground to the roof, snaking across the walls as they did.
The walls that used to be white the day they were painted now had the color of weather beaten gray. The same goes for the old fragile looking roof bearing the tip of the chimney at its corner.A small stone path led from the edge of the clearing into the very entrance of house.
At the edge of the clearing was a very bountiful area of mushrooms could be seen, bearing different kinds of the color red, blue, orange, purple with green spots, striped tiger orange, and so on. There were even mushrooms that were the size of dinner plates.
The girl half wondered if she were in wonderland or in nightmare valley. As hungry as the girl felt, she resisted scooping up the tasty looking mushrooms and eating them, in fear that they may be poisoned or that they may carry strange side effects to the body. To summarize; that old lady must really like mushrooms.
The girl mustered up her courage once more and weakly walked towards the house. The windows were bright with light, which indicated that the old woman had arrived home. It must have been rude for the old woman if the girl suddenly intruded upon her abode with her knowledge. Then again, it would not hurt if she aided the girl once more.
The girl halted before the polished wooden door and hesitantly knocked.
The girl knocked once again, this time a little louder, but again no one answered.
"Hello? Is anyone in there?" she called, hoping for the old lady to hear. "Please I need help, I'm hungry and lost. Wild animals and unknown beasts wander about; may I stay for the evening until dawn arrives, so I may safely be on my way?"
Again, still no answer.
The girl decided to let herself in. The door creaked as she pushed it open, and almost instantly she caught the scent of food being cooked. The girl removed her mud caked shoes and left them near the door so as not to dirty the floor. The house had the nostalgic feeling of home in it, the warm air that goes in and out of the rooms, the scent of food, and the comfortable thought of knowing you are safe and that nothing will bother you in your own home.
It made the girl sad. How was her family doing? Have they learned of her disappearance yet? Are they mourning for her supposed death by now? Have they made plans for her funeral already?
Even if she were to come home what will she tell her companions' family? Will she have the courage of bringing the news of their sons and daughter's death? Will they blame her for their death?
A part of her wished that she could have just died back then, just so she did not have to worry of such things anymore.
No, I'm still alive because of them… They protected me; they sacrificed their lives for me… I won't let their sacrifice be in vain, thought the girl with determination.
After studying much of her surroundings, the girl began to walk around the house. The hallway was surprisingly cluttered with various junk and scraps of paper that a person had to wade into the sea of junk just so they can move. She passed by the stairs leading to the dark second floor and headed towards the sound of the hearth at where she guessed the living room was.
As she was about to enter, the girl gave out a strangled yelp and fell back on her behind. The old lady from earlier lay on the floor unconscious with spilled tea and a broken cup beside her. The girl immediately forced herself out of her stunned state and knelt before the aged woman on the floor.
"Miss, wake up! Wake up!" called the girl, while shaking the lady in attempt to wake her. The old lady did not stir, but continued to lay there out cold.
The girl laid her head upon the woman's chest and listened for her heart. Joy flooded the girl as she found that the old lady was still alive. She hurriedly placed the sleeping lady on the sofa and began to tend to the elder lady the best she can. She quickly cleaned up the mess and went to find a blanket.
The girl took care of the elderly woman all night, only stopping to rest for a few minutes, boiling water, placing and replacing the wet towels she made.
A tiring night….
The girl woke up as she felt a sharp prod on her side. She rubbed off the sleep on her eyes and yawned with her mouth open wide, stretching her arms as she did. When the girl opened her eyes, she noticed the old woman sitting before her with an annoyed look.
The girl's pale face went possibly even paler, while trying to push herself away from the woman. "Ghost!" she exclaimed loudly, causing the old woman to cover her ears.
"Will you shut up, it's this early in the morning and you have the nerve to shout so loudly?" griped the old lady. "And no! I am not a ghost!"
But the girl was not buying any of it; the woman had her clothes changed into a white robe with long sleeves and her face was very pale. Her hair was tied into a tight bun, held by two ornamental chopsticks. The back her hands which were placed upon her lap had a semi transparent look on them, making the thick veins slightly visible.
The old lady's annoyed look turned sour as she began to address the girl, though her eyes were still the same of those last night, harsh and cold.
"I am leaving for the morning, and I thought I would wait for you to wake up before departing" explained the aged elder, "The kitchen is just across the hall, there's food in the pantry and some tea bags if you want tea. After eating you may start cleaning the second floor, the storage house at the back will have everything you need. I will be back by sundown, and do not leave the house or the clearing"
With that, the old lady stood up and left, just as she did when she healed the girl. Meanwhile, the girl stared at the spot where the old woman was moments ago with her jaw hanging.
I save her flickering life and this is how….Well, she did save me first, so until last night we were square. But still, she thinks I'm a maid! Raged the girl's thoughts, her mouth still wide open from the shock.
The sound of the door opening snapped her out of her reverie, and ran for the sound.
She dashed past the living room entrance and came thundering down the hall way, just in time to see the woman drape her long brown cloak around her shoulders.
"Wait!" called the girl stopping at the other side of the hallway. The elder lady raised a skeptical eyebrow before replying.
"What is it?" she barked, causing the girl to flinch.
"It would be rude not knowing my host's name, so if you may…" said the girl weakly, her eyes fixed on the floor.
The reply made the girl look up, and see the old woman's cold expression.
"Kirisame Marisa" repeated the elder.
"Ah! Well my name is…"
The door slammed shut just as the girl was going to introduce herself. If it were a normal situation it would have offended the girl greatly to be cut off her introduction; however her current predicament was anything but normal. The girl sighed sadly, and went to make herself useful for once. She proceeded to the backdoor and went to work without even eating a bite.
A tiring day…..
The old woman did not come back after sundown just as she had promised, neither did she comeback late in the evening. Instead, she came back early in the morning, three anti meridian to be exact! The dinner the girl tried so hard to make went cold already and she hasn't eaten a bite this time too. It would have been rude and lonely if she ate all by herself. She did not even make sure if what she cooked tasted right.
But despite not eating for the entire evening, the girl managed to do quite a lot of things during the day. Storing pieces of junk in the warehouse, sweeping the leaves outside, extracting rather nasty bits of dirt in the gutter, washing the laundry and drying them outside, dusting the living room, cleaning the attic, and disposed dangerous looking objects lying around, take a glowing sword for an example.
For a young lady of noble descent, the girl started to wonder if she would be better off as a maid. True that she hated the idea earlier, yet now she found it….. was nice to know that she was doing something useful and productive, instead of learning piano, going shopping with her friends, flirting with the boys at school, striving to be the top of the class, fussing over her physical appearance, and other things girls these days usually do.
Seems like she had a persevering and hard working personality hidden within her, she just did not know or discover it with her previous lifestyle.
Its not like it was going to be like this forever, she was going back home when the first opportunity comes, for now she had to make herself useful so as to not make herself a total freeloader. She missed her old life, her friends, her family… Pretty much everything she had.
Back to the present, the girl was startled awake as she noticed the old woman sit at the other side of the table and grab the nearest bowl and dip as much porridge as she could (yes, the girl could only make rice porridge since it was the only recipe she had in mind), without even saying her prayers. The girl let this pass since the elder might have been tired and hungry too.
The girl rubbed the sleep off her eyes and proceeded to grab her own bowl. When she finished, she mimicked the movements of the elder as they both had their first bite.
Both humans had slightly different reactions. The girl's eyes widened at the bitter taste of the food, almost making her spit it out, yet it would have been a mess if she did since she took a rather big serving of the food. Instead, she forced herself to swallow it, breathing hard as soon as she was finished.
Meanwhile, the woman did not have as much decency.
She literally spat out the rice porridge from her mouth and for good measure sweeping the bowl off the table, shattering and spilling its contents in the process. The action poked the girl's patience a little too hard.
She didn't have to do that… thought the girl as she watched the old woman chug down the glass of water beside her.
"What in blazes was that for?" snapped the aged elder, "Don't you know how to cook? Well if you can't, you won't survive living alone, and you're better off dead"
The girl felt hurt by the woman's harsh words, she spent hours making that food.
"People who don't have any use won't last a day living alone for long. I'm having doubts on how prissy like you could've survived the forest" added the old lady, before marching off towards the hall. The sounds of her foot falls on the stairs indicated that she was going back to her study.
The girl stared at her unfinished (failed) porridge and after a few seconds, decided to clean up.
"Ungrateful old hag…" snarled the girl as she went and picked up the contents of the shattered bowl. She was a girl from a life of luxury; it was already a feat for her to know how to cook the simplest of food. Can't that old lady cut her some slack? Besides it was her fault having a spoiled girl cook her dinner, and it was also her fault on making the dinner turn cold.
The girl continued her dark mutterings, until she was finished. She blew the candle out, and crashed into the sofa where the old woman slept last night.
A frustrating night…..
The girl woke up the next morning to find the house very quiet. As she went and entered the kitchen, she noticed a note placed upon the table. She reluctantly opened it and read its contents. The girl sighed as she saw the list of work she has for today.
Clean living room
Water giant mushrooms (gas mask at the storage house)
Dust living room
Mop the second floor
Store useless materials in the storage house
The girl gritted her teeth at the amount of work placed before her. Who does that old lady think she is?
This is the last straw, lady. I'm not gonna take anymore of your crap. I'm leaving! The infuriated girl thought to herself, crumpling the piece of paper on her palm and throwing it with all her strength. She already stayed her fill. She did not plan to stick around anyway. She had to get home.
The girl flattened her still ripped skirt and dusted her sleeves, all the while forcing her feet into her shoes. She tied her chocolate brown hair and grabbed an iron poker from the fireplace, and marched out of the door, into the forest once more.
The girl gripped her iron poker tight, as she was once more back again into the endless maze of the forest. The sky was having an unusual color of gray, a sign that it was going to rain sooner or later, the girl should have brought that umbrella back in old lady Marisa's house, however she told herself that she was never going back there again to be subjected in chores that she had no responsibility in. If that old lady was ungrateful, two can play at that game.
So far, the girl has not encountered anything considered hostile. Unlike her previous trip, this was a rather peaceful one. When she was hungry she even found a tree filled with juicy red apples. It seems like staying at a grumpy old lady's house increased her luck from zero to a hundred.
Even in a dark day the birds were chirping and singing. Their soothing melodies calmed the girl of her tense nerves and cleansed her of the fear she felt. The forest air reminded of those mint candies she used to eat, cool and refreshing. The girl could not resist smiling happily as if the horrifying events that happened the first few days she arrived here never happened. If only her companions were still alive to enjoy this small pleasure with her.
The girl came to a halt as she heard a strange sound. A sound she would have least expected in a monster infested forest, the sound of a sobbing child. The girl glanced around for the source of it, opening up her senses in the process. If there was a child here then it must be lost, there's the possibility of the adults looking for it.
The girl began to backtrack as she noticed that the source was just behind an ancient looking tree. She held her iron poker firmly on her left as she circled the tree cautiously. And when she reached the other side, she found out that it was a child. The question now is how would a child have wings and a deep color of light blue hair?
The child's appearance was similar to that of an eight year old school child with a tiny body frame and frail looking hands. The child was girl and was sobbing quietly as she covered her eyes with her hands. Her wings were transparent (A/N: Ha! Who did you think it was?), and one would easily see through. She wore a simple white dress with a gray shirt underneath, and she wore no shoes so she was barefoot. Her long hair was tied with a larger than necessary ribbon that had a deep shade of lilac, but was smeared with dirt.
The girl lowered her poker so as not to frighten the child, and in a light tone she asked. "Um, excuse me, are you okay?"
The child lowered her hands and glanced at the young girl before her in surprise that someone found her. The wings on her back fluttered nervously, as the child cautiously stared at the stranger in front of her. The girl's own eyes grew wide as she caught the sight of the child's exotic eye color.
Her pupils were so large that it took up the entire space within the eye, giving them the appearance of a glossy black marble stone that was neatly polished. This creature was no child, it was not even human. Cannibal women, grumpy old ladies, and now alien eyed children with wings? Just what is this world?
The girl swallowed down the urge to scream and forced herself to be calm just as she did with the woman in black. But before she can even utter as much as another word, the child kicked off the ground nearly taking her down if she hadn't dodged at the last second.
The girl hefted her poker as she watched the fairy hover in mid air staring at her with a confused expression. And then without warning, the fairy screamed an almighty deafening scream. The girl was forced to drop her weapon and cover her ears to prevent them from going deaf. It was probably calling for backup, for the fairy started to fly around her head in circles, shrieking its call as it did.
The sound of the scream was tearing away in the girl's mind, the pain from it made her eyes water and head throb. After five ears wrenching seconds the fairy ceased in its screaming and charge at the girl once more. With her ears still ringing from the noise, the girl did not notice the fairy's action and realized too late to dodge. The light blue haired fairy gave a head butt to her stomach causing the girl to double over.
The fairy pulled away laughing as the girl clutched her pained stomach with an expression of agony on her face. The fairy was busy laughing at the girl to notice her grab a large thick branch; once she did she swung the branch at the offending fairy, making it crash into a tree where it exploded into a puff of powder.
The girl kept one hand on her stomach and one hand gripping on the stick as she stared after the irritating pest that gave her an undeserved head tackle to the gut. After making sure that the fairy will no longer get up, she dropped her branch and retrieved her iron poker. No mercy this time.
She was about to turn around and continue her way to god-knows-where, when she found her way blocked by the fairy she just hit earlier now sporting a large lump on its head. What made the girl gulp was not the fact that the fairy was back; it was the fact that it bought five more angry fairies with it.
"There she is she was the one who hit me!" squeaked the light blue haired fairy.
The girl took a step back as the fairy's companions started to growl menacingly for having one of their kind hurt.
"You're in for a lot of trouble, prissy" snarled a purple headed fairy.
The girl stood her ground this time. "Fine, no more running, bring it on you pests!" yelled the girl, gripping her metal rod tight. Why did she choose this weapon? It was light, easy to handle, and good for stabbing. The girl learned fencing during her childhood days so she was more adept at stabbing and thrusting instead of wide slashes.
Two of the fairies answered her challenge by recklessly charging at her. She made quick work with the first by side stepping as it came for her, making it crash into a tree and explode into dust. As for the second one, she drew her right hand back and did a quick thrust forward, stabbing the next fairy on its heart, which exploded into a puff of white powder.
So this is where fairy dust comes from… This is just sick… thought the girl as she turned to face the four remaining fairies. One fairy dashed towards her in blind rage of having her sisters disappear right in front of her; however the girl clenched her teeth, raised the butt of her rod and slammed it downwards the moment the fairy was ten inches from her stomach.
The said fairy crashed onto the floor, exploding in a thick veil of dust, blinding the girl for a few moments. When she finally got rid of the dust in her eyes, she glared at the three remaining fairies who watched their comrades explode into dirt, including the fairy she hit earlier. These three must have been the smartest since they did not dare attack so recklessly, and instead, held back and watched the girl fight.
The light blue haired fairy smirked and squeaked, "Ha! Let's do this the old fashioned way!"
The girl readied her poker and wondered what 'the old fashioned way' was.
Before the girl realized it, she was on her knees. What happened? She thought, as she felt a burning sensation spread through her skin, Orange lights…. Many of them... I got hit and… It hurts…
The fairies had learned the girl's way of fighting rather quickly for their kind. They used this knowledge to fight back, eventually forcing the girl on her knees. The girl's messy clothes became even messier. Her sleeves were singed in every place and there were scorch marks on her purple blouse. Her skirt was seemed to be burned slightly too. Her face bore a dark smudge which she quickly wiped off with her forearm, glaring at the giggling pranksters before her.
She grabbed her poker and began to charge, but thought better of it and dove sideways, as the fairies let loose another barrage of orange lights.
Change of plans, I'm getting out of here…. She thought quietly.
The girl attempted to stand up and run, but was met with an orange bullet to the back, causing her to fall down again. She groaned at the dull pain on her back, it was as though she were stomped by a man with a very large boot. The girl noticed that getting hit by those bullets did not prove fatal; however they did cause her very painful sensations similar from being punched with a brass knuckle.
She tried to force her tears back, for she was not going to give the little pests the favor if seeing her cry and beg for help. The girl cursed as she caught sight of the fairies she disposed of earlier now alive and brand new. One fairy hovered before her, as if to mock her, but soon realized its mistake as she drove the iron rod into its stomach, while toss the body at the other fairies, causing them to scatter, before it can disappear.
The girl broke into a run.
Now, she was back into the forest, running once more for her life, being chased by immortal, resurrecting fairies that want her for target practice. Funny how a few days ago she found shelter and food to eat, yet now she was back in the wilderness sprinting as fast as her two legs could carry her….. Again.
A nagging voice within her mind told her that if only she were a good girl and did her chores, she did not have to go through all of this trouble, and however she told herself to shut up. Staying in that old hag's house would earn her nothing but a huge workload and there is the possibility that if she did stay there she will be living in that place for a long time…
If my deduction is correct, this is a world of magic, yet I can't just wait for myself to magically return to my world, right? Thought the girl, as she raced pass a thicket of bushes making sharp turns every five minutes in hope to lose the mob of fairy menaces she has enraged. If no one will act, I will….
After an hour of running the girl came across an abandoned building. Upon closer inspection she found out that it was a shrine.
"Hakurei Shrine…" she whispered reading the fading sign of the Shinto gate. Having her iron rod at her side, she cautiously walked on the stone pavement leading to the building. Behind her was a series of stone steps, estimating about a thousand steps on the way up, so that the girl was frightfully exhausted as she reached the top.
The shrine was old and rundown, similar to the old lady Marisa's house; however it was obvious that no one has lived in this building for a very long time. The doors were made of wood and had strips of paper hanging loosely from it.
There were spider webs patching the hole covered paper walls. The sacred ropes that hung at the building's entrance were either eaten away by insects or were cut loose due to age.
Right besides the main building, was a smaller one, which the girl had guessed as the storage room, seeing that the old lady had one of her own. She tried inspecting the contents of the shrine's donation box; only to find out that it were empty and devoid of any coins or donations.
The building itself smelled musty and damp, yet one would still acquire an oriental feel despite the state it was in. The girl decided to have a look at the back of the shrine and went to do so after checking the contents of the donation box once more. After skirting around the building, she found a dry, empty pond with dried leaves around the edges, and a grove of dead cherry blossom trees, still yet to bloom in the spring.
For some unknown reason the girl felt sad seeing the shrine this way. She could almost imagine what it would look like back in its prime.
The girl began to hear the familiar sound of rain drops and finally decided to take shelter within the building so as to avoid getting wet.
The interior of the shrine was no better than the exterior. The air was still damp, musty, and filled with dust. The space within was very small and had only two doors leading to two different rooms.
The inside was abandoned of course, completely lacking in furniture and of objects that one could sleep on. There was a hole on the roof and the floor creaked with every step the girl took, yet she did not complain, as long as she had shelter and was completely dry.
Despite being very tired, the girl decided to check the other rooms for valuables. To her disappointment, she found nothing. The previous owner seemed to have cleaned the place out of anything useful or anything useless.
Not bearing her exhaustion any longer the girl tucked herself in the corner, hugging her knees and drifted off to sleep, dreaming of home.
The girl did not even remember sleeping for five minutes, when the front door slid open with a crash and a person went in. She was so surprised that she did not even get the chance of grabbing her poker stick for it was kicked away by an invisible force. The girl stood up and gazed at the incoming person who delivered her a sharp slap in the face.
"What were you thinking!" snapped the unknown human, only for her to realize that it was the elder woman… Marisa was her name. The old lady pulled down her hood revealing her long ash gray hair, and piercing golden eyes bearing the expression of extreme irritation and annoyance for the girl. "Didn't I make it clear, not to leave the house or the clearing? Are you brats really that thick headed these days? Are all of you a suicidal bunch!"
And then without thinking the girl yelled at the aged woman. "Just who the hell are you to order me around, huh? I don't even know you! Yet you treat me like I'm some kind of god damned servant! I only stayed there so I could pay you back, but you can never be the boss of me! I'll do whatever I want, so back off you old hag!"
"We don't have time for this, child!" barked the elder woman, though this time it felt weaker as if she was taken aback by the girl's sudden outburst. "You better come with me or else you'll be dead"
"I can defend myself-"
"By running? Hell I'd respect you if managed to outrun both those fairies and the youkai they bought with them! I'm trying to keep you alive here, prissy, and if you want to die then so be it. This is your last chance, prissy"
"Youkai? What are-"started the girl, but was stopped as Marisa grabbed her by her collar and dragged her out of the shrine. It was only then the girl noticed the woman holding a very long broomstick at her side.
What is she going to do with that? Sweep the monsters to death, Thought the girl incredulously eyeing the broom in doubt.
"Let me go! Who do you think you are?" protested the girl as she tried to fight against the old woman's surprisingly strong grip on her collar, but was too weak and exhausted to truly pull away. The woman dragged the girl out of the shrine and into the rain spattered front yard. The rain fell intensely from the marble gray sky. Lightning flashed, while the thunder roared, the girl flinching at the sound.
The raindrops felt cold as they fell upon the girl's skin. She kept struggling against the elder lady's grasp, but the old woman showed no sign of letting go. Only firm determination and extreme annoyance was visible on the aged lady's face through the thick veil of rain. It was raining so hard that the girl could hardly see or make out distinct shapes of the objects she passed by earlier.
"Stop fighting, we don't have time for this, girl!" growled Marisa as she tried to tighten her grip upon the girl's collar, suddenly she threw the girl down the floor and cursed.
"What did you do that for?" yelled the girl as she slowly got up from the slippery pavement. The old lady kept her harsh gaze under the shrine entrance, gritting her teeth as she did.
"They're here…" she growled, glaring straight ahead. This confused the girl greatly, but it also struck fear within her. Hesitantly, she mimicked the old lady's actions and stared at the shrine entrance. For a moment she could not make out what she was seeing, but when a lightning bolt flashed in the sky her heart almost leapt out of her throat.
Before them was a band of a strange assembly of creatures. Some of them were humanoid, although there were extra or strange appendages growing out of their bodies such as insect wing at their back, bull horns above their head, talons where their hands used to be, flesh like arms protruding from their ribcages, and spikes coming out of their back.
The other creatures had a horse's skull of a head, beaks for mouth, flesh like worms for ears, scales for skin, making them so inhuman like. Most were buff and muscled; some of them were skinny and thin. Short or tall, coming in any shapes or sizes, form or breed, these creatures must be Youkai. And at the very middle of them was the small team of fairies the girl fought earlier.
"Oh shit…" cursed the girl, "Talk about bad luck…"
One of the more humanoid creatures stepped forward. He was one of the biggest and the most buff of the crowd. He might have passed as a very, very large human, if not for the bluish hue of his skin, the crimson of his eyes and the obsidian black of his horns.
"An Oni" whispered Marisa. The girl noticed the old lady's hands were trembling. Was she afraid? If the old lady showed signs of fear, then the girl better start praying to whatever god that was present.
"I heard that, human" chuckled the blue giant," my, what a catch, and at first we thought that these fairies were pulling a prank us, but look at here boys, fresh meat on the house!"
The other Youkais roared in agreement and glee. The little fairies joined in the laughter.
The fairy at the middle, the one with light blue hair pointed an accusing finger at the girl beside the elder lady. "She was the one who killed us! We told you we weren't lying!" she squeaked, while the other fairies nodded in agreement.
"Yes, yes, yes and all you ask is for us to help you beat her to death, and then we can eat them, right?" asked the Oni.
"You can do whatever you want, just let us have our revenge!" squeaked the fairy child to the giant, whom laughed at the fairy's determination.
"Very well, we'll help you in exchange for the lunch you're about to give us. All right boys, claws up!" commanded the Oni, while the other Youkais smacked their lips in anticipation of lunch.
The girl gulped and glanced at the aged woman beside her, who glared at the group before them with disgust. The wind blew, causing the woman's cloak to billow behind her, though she paid little attention to her clothes action, while the girl had to flatten her skirt to prevent them from flying around.
The monsters roared and charged at the both of them.
Time seemed to slow down as the beasts ran towards them. The old woman calmly turned her head towards the girl and in a tone she has never used before, she spoke. "Tell me, girl. What is it that you cherish most?"
The girl's eyes widened at the question. We're about to die and she still spouts out nonsense? Is she insane? Thought the girl in panic. She could not move her body, for it was frozen in fear at the prospect of inevitable death. She was so scared that she could no longer hear the rain anymore, but instead listened to the woman's calm, soothing voice. It was probably the only thing she could draw comfort from at the time.
"Do you love your friends?" asked Marisa.
And without thinking the girl answered back, "I do"
"Do you love your family?" she asked again.
"I do" said the girl once more.
"Do you love your mother, your father? Your parents that brought you into you world?"
"Of course I do!"
"Do you love your world, and will you continue to love it despite the horrible situations it puts you through? Will you continue to love it even though the very world you care for will turn against you?"
"I do and will always"
"One more question, prissy" said the old lady, taking out a strange octagonal object from her cloak pocket and pointing it at the incoming monsters. "Do you love yourself?"
The girl froze at that. True that she loved everything external to her being, but loving herself? No, she doubted her very existence. Every time her parents had problems, she blamed herself for it, thinking that she was the cause of it. Sometimes she thought she was just a burden for everyone. She depended almost everything on her friends, from the bullies, to the instructors.
Even now she thought herself as burden and a problem. This old lady protected her from the woman in black once, and even let a total stranger stay in her house without as much as a question about her background. She trusted the girl even when she collapsed helplessly in her own home… Trust...
It's because I doubt myself… I have to start trusting myself on this one… No more doubts, the girl thought, finally making her decision.
"I do, and I accept myself for who I truly am" she said with resolve.
The old woman closed her eyes and smiled. The girl could not make out the words that came out of the elder's mouth, but she was sure it said. "Love sign~Master Spark"
That was all before a grand beam of rainbow light erupted from the small octagonal shaped box the old lady held. The monsters were all swallowed by the blast and did not even have the chance to scream before they were blasted into oblivion.
Warmth, it was the same warmth the girl felt that night she was saved from the woman in black. She felt giddy and excited at the sight of the powerful beam of love before her. Hot tears welled within her eyes and she started to laugh. She never felt so alive; to know that such warmth existed in this horrible world lit a candle of hope within her. The humming of the air caused by the blast felt like music to the girl's ears, a calm peaceful tune that soothed her tired soul. The beam was awe strikingly beautiful to see.
She has heard of legends that at the end of the rainbow, a leprechaun awaited with a pot of gold, however right now at the end of said rainbow was a strange grumpy old woman holding an even stranger octagonal box. If only the people back home would believe this.
The beam slowly died, leaving a small, smoldering crater where the monsters should have been. Despite releasing such colossal amounts of energy, the old woman barely looked exhausted as the youth before her. She quickly pocketed the octagonal box and turned to face the girl. It was no longer raining, and all was very quiet, save for the elder lady's firm voice.
"You asked me who did I think I am earlier, well my answer is this" the old lady gripped her broomstick and held it like a spear." Marisa Kirisame, Ordinary Black Witch"
A frustrating day….. Or maybe not…
She was now back again inside the old lady's house, wrapped in a warm gray blanket the elder woman picked up from somewhere. After the woman's revelation of being a witch was revealed, questions buzzed within her mind. Can she assist her in searching for a way back? Would she able to teach the girl how to fight? Can she teach the girl magic? Where was this world located anyway? Why are there so many monsters roaming around? Are they finally safe?
The girl shook herself out of her trance as the old woman set down her tea before her, and sits at the other side of the table.
"Sorry about dinner last time" apologized the old lady, feeling a bit down, "I hope you like the clothes I gave you, since yours is all torn and... well…" She trailed off on her words and rubbed the back of her neck looking a bit sheepish.
It has been two hours ever since they have arrived. The girl managed to fly for the first time on a broomstick, and the experience left her stunned in amazement. She was now wearing the lady's old clothes from back when she was young, surprisingly enough, they fit her almost perfectly. Almost, if it only wasn't for the uncomfortable feeling on her chest, which made the old lady mutter darkly.
She wore a white cotton blouse with short sleeves and a long black skirt that reached just above her ankles. Meanwhile, her old clothes were being magically repaired by an invisible person sitting on the chair near the fire, knitting the torn areas and sewing some of the scorched places together again.
With the old lady's harsh look disappeared the atmosphere around the house felt even more comfortable than before. The only thing now was that the elder woman was now feeling a bit somber for some reason.
"Thank you for welcoming me back into your home, Miss Marisa" said the girl weakly, avoiding I contact with the woman before her. "I knew I shouldn't have left, I apologize for the unnecessary trouble I caused you"
"No, it's fine. You're only a child after all, I shouldn't have slapped you. Or shouted, or threw that porridge, or gave you all of those chores when they weren't your responsibility" replied Marisa, taking out a bottle of whiskey out of nowhere. "You wanna drink?"
"Um, no thanks. I'll stick with the tea" declined the girl, watching as the old lady set aside her glass and chugged down the entire bottle. The girl wondered if drinking that much alcohol is good for an elderly person's liver.
The lady placed her bottle back down on the table and sighed. "It warms your insides. Maybe when you're older you'll change your mind."
Well this was awkward. A few hours earlier, she yelled at the 'kind' old lady before her, who the last time she checked was a rude, ungrateful, demanding person, yet now they're sitting at the same table without fear of killing each other during the time. The rain had long ceased since they left the shrine, right now the outside was heavy with fog, that seeing around was worse than it was in the rain.
After a long uncomfortable silence, the old woman spoke. "Hey prissy" she called, directing the girl's attention back to her.
"Yes?" asked the girl in a small voice, both of her hands trembling as she held the tea cup.
"You're not entirely human, aren't you?" said the old lady bluntly.
The girl flinched at the question. "How- how did you know?" she asked, panic within her voice. No one else knew, and she never breathed as much a word so how did she know?
"Your eyes… You're no normal outsider, right?" said the aged woman, tilting her head as she curiously stared at the trembling girl.
The girl wanted to slam her head on the table. Of course! She thought, her own voice echoing within her mind, I forgot that violet irises and slit like pupils weren't normal for a human to have!
"P-p-part elf… On my mother's side… She had an ancestor, so I'm just a descendant" stuttered the girl, her eyes staring intensely at the solid wood, hot enough for it to be set ablaze.
"Hmm, interesting, I don't get enough elves around here in Gensokyo, you know?" chuckled the witch.
"Gensokyo? Is that the name of this world we're in?" asked the girl eagerly, looking up to the old woman.
"Yup, good old Gensokyo. So can I have the honor of knowing this young elf girl's name? I didn't quite catch it last time, and I apologize for that" said old Marisa.
"Ah, well, my name is Reyna, Reyna Elise von Sterraford" introduced the girl, blushing as she did.
"Reyna, huh? Fitting name for a stubborn, yet strong maiden" laughed Marisa.
Few days ago she called me useless for not knowing how to cook; now she somehow praises me? Wait… Is being called stubborn actually praise? Thought Reyna, puzzled at the laughing witch.
The old lady wiped a tear off her eye, and was panting from her laughter that has somehow toned down to a chuckle. "Well, I think is too late for a proper welcome, but I'll do it anyway, Welcome to Gensokyo, land of illusions and of crazy people!" after that, the old woman went back to laughing as if the thought amused her. Crazy people she was right, but illusions?
"Hahaha, oh please forgive my rudeness, it's just been so long since I talked to another person" said the witch.
"For so long?" asked Reyna, "Don't you get human visitors, considering your amazing ability?"
Marisa blushed slightly from the praise, or was it the effects of the whiskey? "Well now, I wouldn't actually call my ability amazing, just a quick bang here and boom there. Outsiders don't get much explosions in their life, no? Gehehehe. As for why there aren't human visitors, it's because no one actually bothers or has the time to visit an old grumpy woman like me, who has an obsession with giant mushrooms since the age of fourteen, and, well, it's because there few humans left here on the surface"
"Surface? Why, where did the others go?" asked the girl frowning at the explanation, for it has piqued her curiosity.
"Underground…" said the witch, taking another swig of whiskey as she did. "Listen here, Reyna, you're going in for a long, long story, though I hope you can forgive me if it isn't quite clear, for I only remember fragments of it"
"I understand" said Reyna, sitting a bit straighter, her attention resting upon the aged woman before her.
"Back in the day, I was the second strongest human in Gensokyo. The first being my best friend, the Hakurei miko, the shrine maiden" started the witch, staring at something above Reyna's head. "Me and her, we were a team. We went out and solved many incidents that sprung out of nowhere, with raw power at our side. The incident of the scarlet mist, the incident of endless winter, the incident of the imperishable night, the sixtieth year incident, the incident of the mountain, the incident of the strange weather, the incident of the subterranean sun, the incident of the unknown objects, and the divine incident, the list goes on.
Although there was one incident that ended it all. Five years has passed ever since the incident of that stupid Yama's overnight winter was a battle that I have never expected. I can only remember it vaguely. Reimu, that's the miko's name, was with me at that time. We busted down the gates of a familiar building, there were lights, bullets everywhere.
The sky was dark as I saw it through the torn roof. I remember fighting someone whose face I cannot see. I was blown away by a ferocious swipe and then there she lay. Her eyes devoid of life, staring at me as she tried to speak through her slit throat. Reimu told me to run. And so I did, I grabbed my broom and barely escaped with my life.
The only thing I remembered back then was a scream of grief. Someone other than Reimu died that night, and another person was grieving for the death. After that, I blacked out. 'Woke up the next morning in my house, with my clothes still stained in Reimu's blood, I thought that it was the end of the world since Reimu was the one keeping this world intact, so if she died, so does this world.
But even now, I kept asking myself, why hasn't this world vanished yet? Why hasn't everything ended? Hey, don't look at me like that, like I said I still don't know. It was strange that I couldn't remember the events that led to the incident that night; it was as if something was keeping me from remembering.
I wanted answers at that time so I got changed and went to the Human Village. When I got there, the place was a mess. The locals told me that a Youkai did it, and also killed another friend of mine.
The humans had no idea what to do at the time, luckily the satori from the underground decided to lend a hand. Since they didn't have any choice, most of the humans went along, even though they were against it. The other humans decided to stay and rebuild, since they no longer trusted the Youkai, for it was the Youkai who wrecked their village in the first place.
Yes, there humans left here on the surface, yet most of them are far worst on how I treated you, you know? They're selfish and extremely greedy when it comes to resources. They didn't used to be like that, you know? Back then, they used to smile all the time, and will even offer you some help asking nothing in return. Things have change, or to be specific, Gensokyo has changed.
I'll be lying if I told you I wasn't affected at the time. You saw how I acted the first time we met, it seems that I too have changed both with my maturity and my attitude. I used to solve incidents for fun, cheating death, not once or twice, but many times without realizing it. Reimu's death woke me up as if I've been doused in ice cold water by reality… This whole place has been like this ever since..."
"You're afraid of death now, right?" asked Reyna, as the old woman went into a long pause. "A witch of your caliber should've already discovered a way to stay young, right? I know that I've only been in this place for a short while, but being here made me realize that things that should've been impossible can be made possible! And here I thought that it was only in my world that such things happen! Finding a way to stay immortal shouldn't be that quite hard to find in this world. You don't have to be afraid of dying if you're eternally young"
"Actually, I already found out way to stay young" said Marisa, cracking a smile at the girl's exclamation.
"Well why didn't you-"
"It's because I have a policy and a promise to keep" continued the witch, cutting off the girl in the middle of her sentence. "When I was still a teenager, I had a strong obsession with books just as I did with mushrooms. There were many times that I had to steal books from different kinds of place just so I can learn something new. I used to use the excuse that I was only 'borrowing' what I actually stole and I'll be returning them once I die. But that was when I was young. Oh how would I laugh at myself back then. Well, now if I somehow became immortal, I wouldn't be able to return everything I stole won't I? It would be unfair to the Youkai who I robbed to know that they'll never ever retrieve what they lost."
"But… That isn't the only reason why you wouldn't stay immortal, right?" guessed Reyna, who has listened intently the majority of the discussion.
"Yes," confirmed Marisa, taking a sip of whiskey, before continuing. "I made a promise with Reimu back when we were young. Eh, what's with that look? Come now, don't worry it won't be sappy. Well, back then we made a promise, or more like a bet on who'll live longer than the other. You see she was the strongest… Okay wait… Second strongest next to my mentor, person I have ever met. She was my rival you see. She having gained her powers through her blood line, while I have to work my sorry ass off just so I can match her, sometimes it pisses me off. I was always second best next to her. With both of us together, we already beaten a lot of powerful beings all before our second decade, funny how a bit of hard work and teamwork could do wonders .We made a promised that when we died, we'll have a race towards Higan, undoubtedly pissing off the Yama while we're at it, hehehe. Well, I won the bet; bitch had a head start, probably having the time of her afterlife in heaven…. Yet, here I am, still alive and kicking living all alone for the past few decades, waiting for another friend to come and visit me, before my time comes"
"I-I see… Sorry about your friend" sympathized Reyna, watching the witch drink once more.
"Well don't be, Red-white got careless back then. Besides I still have to find out how to revert Gensokyo back to the way it was" said Marisa, setting down her bottle, "Get some sleep, there's an extra room above that's been left untouched, you just have to dust it a bit though"
Reyna stood up and bade the old witch good night before going upstairs. The old lady gave her a lot to think about, working hard to be that powerful, trusting other people with your life.
Maybe, just maybe it's possible for me too, thought Reyna as she ascended the steps, going back to what I've said, this is a world of possibilities, where the impossible could become possible, with a bit of hard work and willpower.
The girl continued mulling over the thought, of becoming powerful. Maybe she can use the power she was about to have to get back home. A world of possibilities, where it's also possible where I'll never get home…
The stray thought made her stop right in front of the bedroom door. No, she growled to her mind, it's not possible, more like probable.
Reyna pulled the door open and went inside.
A clear night….
Three days has passed without any remarkable events. Reyna managed to perfect her rice porridge recipe as time went on. She became more efficient at cleaning the attic and has successfully managed to acquire four pails of water from the nearby stream, while sneaking pass roaming fairies.
It was pass eleven in the morning when Reyna noticed the elder witch sitting on a hard wooden chair, studying what looked like a doll in her hands. Reyna dropped the broom that she used for sweeping the grounds, and went over to Marisa.
"A doll? Shouldn't you be too old for that?" asked Reyna eyeing the doll with hidden interest. She after all had a wide collection of dolls back in her home.
"Well now," sighed Marisa setting down the doll on her lap. "I may be old, young lady, but I assure you I am still young at heart, very young in fact that I can still be very good in bed" said the witch with a wink. Reyna mimicked throwing up at the thought that is until a real mental image popped out of her mind of the old lady in said situation, making Reyna throw up for real after she dashed towards a thicket of bushes.
The aged witch laughed loudly at the sight. When Reyna came back her face was green and her cheeks were blushing, while her strands of her hair were hanging down her pale face, almost making her look comical. Her appearance only made the witch laugh even louder than before.
Reyna resisted the urge of smacking the old woman upside the head for her nerve, and waited until she stopped laughing.
When the aged lady did stop, Reyna proceeded to ask her, "What are you doing out here? Not going anywhere?"
It was usually at this time that Marisa went off to somewhere, never to be seen until sundown.
"Waiting for a friend…" Marisa answered simply. Reyna knew better than to question further, for she did not know if she would like the answer she would get. She stared upon the doll on the smiling woman's lap for a second and proceeded her way into the house.
Having finished her chores within the ground floor, all that's left is to clean the second floor and she'll be done for the day. Reyna examined her handy work before going upstairs, the mess in the hallway was finally cleaned up and removed, the living room looked livable again and clean with the excess furniture stored away, the kitchen sporting new looking cooking utensils that seemed to be shining.
All of sudden, she had a sudden urge to slam her head into a wall.
I'm becoming more of a maid…. She thought, laughing and crying at the same time. After her little episode, Reyna slumped her way to the second floor, grumbling as she ascended the wooden steps.
Polishing the floor took no longer than fifteen minutes due to Reyna's repetitive thoughts of, I'M NOT A MAID, I'M NOT A MAID, and I'M NOT A MAID! She's still in denial if you ask me.
Having cleaned the attic once more of unnecessary junk, Reyna proceeded to clean the last room, Marisa's. Reyna cautiously opened the door into the old woman's room. Unlike the mess on the other parts of the house, Miss Marisa's room was surprisingly tidy. A large comfortable bed with snow white sheet lay right beside the window that overlooked the clean front yard below.
At the foot of the bed was a large brown wardrobe that had a few items stacked above it. Reyna stepped inside glancing around for she old lady in case she happened to be nearby, for the girl did not ask for her permission in the first place. Reyna, for some reason wanted it to be a surprise. The old hag has been feeling down lately.
The room seemed very small at a first glance, however once inside, it was fairly big. Just behind the door she went through was a brown desk with a large oval mirror attached. The desk was littered with used papers, books, scrolls, quills, strange crayons, and unused reagents that have been left on it. As said earlier, the room was only tidy and neat in appearance, it was never said it was clean, which is the reason Reyna came in the first place.
"Alright, let's get cleaning!" said Reyna, raising her hand a little too hard into the air, causing her mop to fall down and unluckily hit one of the picture frames sitting on the desk, which crashed into solid wood not too long after. "Oh, me and my bad luck…" whimpered the girl as she knelt down to clean up the mess before Marisa finds out.
Reyna flipped the picture over within her hands and gazed at it for few seconds. It was the picture of a younger Marisa, having a wide youthful grin on her face, tanned skin, with her clothes almost the same as the clothes Reyna had now; a black white dress and a large pointed hat that had a white ribbon tied to it. The younger Marisa had long mane of blonde hair, matching the mischievous glint of her golden eyes perfectly. Right beside the younger Marisa were three other girls. The first one on her right wore a custom made miko outfit with detached sleeves.
This girl had a long silky black hair which was tied by a larger than necessary ribbon with a deep color of red, the same as her outfit that had a yellow handkerchief at the base of her neck. The second one that Marisa was leaning her arms on, was either a very short girl or it was just a child. The strange thing about this girl was that she had two crooked looking horns protruding right out of her wild orange hair and seemed to have a drunken look on her face.
She was so short and probably with Marisa's combined weight; only her head was fully visible, also having a wide smile as the girl above her. Now the last girl, who was currently grabbing the younger Marisa around her arms and was sticking her tongue out for the camera with a playful smile on her face, looked almost exactly like that doll the old Marisa had downstairs….
Reyna jumped as she suddenly heard Marisa's voice behind her, and when she turned around she immediately saw the old lady sitting on the same stool she had a while ago with the doll on her lap.
How did she enter without me noticing? And she even brought her chair… thought Reyna through suspicious eyes.
Meanwhile, the old lady paid no notice of the girl and instead she gave the doll on her lap a serene smile. Reyna took another glance at the photo before asking. "She's the one you're waiting for?"
The old woman sighed. "Alice Margatroid, yes she's my friend you see. She'll be visiting soon and I'll be waiting as always"
"How long have you been waiting?" asked Reyna.
"Oh dear, a curious child aren't you? Well, it's been seventy years ever since that incident I've last saw her. A week after the incident, the girl came into my house and told me she was leaving, saying that it wasn't safe here in Gensokyo anymore. At that time I was still grieving for Reimu's death and you must've known how I've felt… We both had a fight, I told her that she can't just leave as simple as that, she had to help me find the responsible for the incident and beat the crap out of them…"Marisa paused for a moment before continuing,
"Well, she told me that her mother was calling her, that I still had the chance to go with her and live in her stupid palace. Oh yes, she had palace in Makai, the demon world. Her mother was the goddess and queen of that world and she assured me that I'll be safe there. And yet… I refused her; I even called her a coward for deserting everything and everyone in Gensokyo in its time of need.
Watching everyone suffer while she and her pretty friends get all the luxury… No, I decided to stay and bring Gensokyo back to the way it was and look where it got me, still in the same old house, now old and grumpy. Years of research, tracking the one responsible, all for nothing… I was young back then, naïve and inexperienced, the only thing I had was power, yet even with that power I didn't know how to use it. By the time I did, it was already too late… I wasn't actually angry at Alice, I was angry at her cowardice, and maybe I was angry at myself too"
"You blame yourself for Reimu Hakurei's death?" said Reyna, looking at the old woman before her with sympathetic eyes.
"Yes, some hypocrite I am. I have the nerve of calling someone else a coward when I myself am a coward. Running and leaving my best friend to die. I was prideful and arrogant and well, this old lady before you is the result of those two things…" said the elder witch with sad eyes.
"I'm a coward too..." said Reyna, leaning her back against the wall, "Back then at the shrine, you were right. All I can do is run; I can never fight for long since I'm weak. I always depend on others while you, you're independent when you made an attempt on becoming powerful and you succeeded. You know what? Maybe the both of us are polar opposites, when you were young, you were confident that you'll win any battle that you came across and are proud of the powers you have achieved, while I doubt my chances of winning and have nothing worthy to boast of… Cut off my legs and I'll be unable to run. I'll be helpless; I can never do anything without them"
"You remind me of her…" said Marisa her golden eyes focused at the girl.
"Alice, she too doubted her own abilities, you know? But look at where she is now… Not long after we made a promise that we'll see each other again after a 'few' years, she became a queen without even knowing it"
"Yes… My old Alice was a magnificent puppeteer and was skilled at doll making. There was this one time, when she made this mother holy big doll called the Goliath Doll" snickered the old lady, "She was a good person to summarize"
"Is she… Um, still alive?" asked Reyna cautiously since she did not know how the old woman will react at the question. To her surprise, the witch only laughed at the question.
"Still alive? Well, she's only an example of a human who turned into a Youkai! Ha ha ha ha, come now don't look so surprised. Remember what I have said last night? That I've already found a way to stay young forever, yes, and the trick is to become a Youkai and increase your lifespan" said the witch giving out hearty laugh, which tempted Reyna to join in.
However she had more serious questions to ask. "Increase one's lifespan? How does that work? Or better yet, how does one become a Youkai?"
Marisa rubbed her chin at the girl's questions. "Why do you ask? Are you interested in becoming a man eater? Ha-ha, don't worry, Alice didn't eat humans. Depends on your definition of 'eat' anyway. Well now, becoming a Youkai is extremely risky, although with enough research and magical reserve you possess you might just be able to become one. However, doing so will subject you into high concentrated black magic. You didn't expect that becoming a Youkai would be that easy, no?
Youkais are embodiment of fear, and it is fear that they feed upon, therefore one must envelope himself into the darkness and become one with it. I'm not saying that said darkness will control you and mutate you like those bloody bastards I sparked, more like it will change your body structure, increasing your endurance, raising your stamina, heightening your speed and other whatnot. In other words, a power up. Youkai are considered evil beings, so if one would become a true Youkai, he or she would be more vulnerable to charms, wards, divine weapons than they were human"
"If I may ask, what kind of Youkai was Miss Alice?"
"Hmm? She was a Youkai magician. I know it confuses you, but let me explain. There are two types of Magicians, eh? One is me, whose profession is a magician, yet still entirely human. And the other is Alice and my librarian friend, who were one of the many species of Youkai. Human magicians are capable of magic, however there are certain areas that require a Youkai magician's endurance, thus restricting the human magician's capability to further study magic instantaneously, forcing them to preserve and train for decades to acquire their desired level. Youkai magicians feed off mana that is similar to oxygen in the air, increasing their magic the longer they feed.
Youkai magicians are also adept at learning different kinds of magical subjects unlike human magicians who can only pick one due to their limited magic. My magical subject is focused upon the area of Offensive Power, you saw how strong that beam I conjured back at the shrine. It took me years to finally acquire its full potential other than using it as a blowtorch to burn down the entire forest.
Meanwhile, Alice focuses on the subject of Control and Creation. She's able to perfectly control an entire battalion of dolls just by using her strings hidden within the rings she wears around her fingers. Now for creation, just as I said, Alice likes to create dolls, but not just any dolls, for years she has been experimenting on creating a doll with its own free will, an independent doll that can think for its self without the need to be controlled by invisible string or be fueled by magic. She's obsessed with it just as I am on giant mushrooms!"
Reyna looked out of the window and gazed at the sea of green trees over at the horizon. The fog from last night has finally thinned, so that one would be able to see the sun again. Ever since arriving into this bizarre world she only noticed now that the sky was always gray. It was as if it was sad for some reason.
This old woman has spent her entire life on researching for a way to turn this world back to normal; Reyna wondered to herself, why would Marisa insist to do something that seemed impossible. Now after hearing much of her story, Reyna finally knew why. This old lady only wanted her friends back. She no longer wanted to live alone.
It must have been nice here…. In Gensokyo… So nice that one person would do almost everything to bring it back to the way it was… Reyna somehow envied the aged woman for experiencing this world when it was still peaceful and alive… Even if it was only for a very short time…
"Was Miss Alice…? A good person, back when both of you were still together?" asked Reyna dreaming of a more peaceful and wonderful Gensokyo…
"Why yes she was… Why do you ask?"
"It's wonderful… knowing that there were lots of good people living in this world the same as you…"
"I'm not the kind of person who'll consider herself as good so openly, but then again… Maybe, just maybe… If you want to know more about Alice, well… Like I said, she's a lot like you… Cool, composed, the kind of person who keeps their feelings inside and always stays within their shell…"
"Really? I've never known… Am I really like that?"
"Even in the shortest time we've met each other, I can safely say that you are… We had festivals in the human village every harvest time. I would be in charge of the lights and fireworks, while Alice sets up her stage for her puppet show. Reimu would go around promoting her shrine, while she's all drunk from drinking sake. We had lots of friends back then… Some were human others were Youkai, you see not all Youkais are evil; I don't want to leave you that to become a prejudice. Keep an open mind and make friends when you can… That's the real trick on winning battles…"
Reyna held the picture frame in her hands tight and went over to the smiling witch. The girl handed the photograph to the lady, who returned her a kind smile.
"Miss Marisa," called Reyna as she was about to close the door.
"Yes dear?" asked the aged witch staring outside the window.
"Tell me more about Gensokyo and its people tomorrow again… Okay?"
"I'll be waiting Reyna, I'll be waiting…"
The girl cracked a smile and closed the door quietly as she could.
A clear day….
Weeks passed and Reyna could not help noticing something strange with the old lady. A few days after she had agreed to recount her adventures to the girl, Marisa pulled many devious pranks at her, like magically turning hot water into cold as she took a bath, making her conveniently trip on a stone, have her fall off the stairs three times a day, when all of a sudden the witch ceased with her antics.
Miss Marisa no longer went out of the house and stayed within her room for as long as she can, going out only for some fresh air and food. There was that one time that the old lady suddenly fell unconscious in her chair and would not wake up until Reyna was slapping her across the face.
"Ah, I must've fallen asleep, no need to worry" the witch had said.
"Not to worry? You wouldn't wake up, and I was scared!" said Reyna, who looked extremely irritated at the time.
"Hehehe, like I said, no need to worry, I've been living like this for years. It'll pass" assured Marisa, smiling.
After that event, Reyna insisted on making a potion that will make the old lady feel better, which Marisa half heartedly followed. The elder woman was bright and sunny again in no time once she had drunk the potion, giving relief to the distraught girl.
"See? All better now!" declared Marisa, snickering at Reyna's worried expression the whole time.
"Magic is truly amazing…"said Reyna who was still staring at the now energetic witch before her.
Other than that event, nothing else happened for the rest of the week and went it on without disturbance. Marisa continued her tale from her first meeting with Reimu Hakurei to the Divine Spirit incident.
"They sealed themselves to become ageless?" asked Reyna one night.
"Yep, but if you're going to ask again why I didn't choose to become a hermit, you'll be disappointed since you'll only get the same answer as to why I didn't want to become a Youkai" replied Marisa, snickering at Reyna's expression at the time.
The old witch was a living story book. She told Reyna of the story of Gensokyo's beginning, how a Border Youkai that goes by the name Yukari Yakumo created this world with the use of her powers and the help of the Dragon God that aided her.
Marisa also recounted the tale of the Second Lunar War, a bloodless battle that led to a more or less understanding between the people of the moon and of Gensokyo. She also revealed to Reyna that she was trained by an Evil Spirit and went on a one hour roll on how great said Evil Spirit was.
"She was so beautiful" said the witch on another night as she lay on her bed in her nightclothes with Reyna sitting on her bed side. "Flowing green hair, a regal expression, powerful aura, and very large milkshakes, I still recall their softness and smoothness… Oh it makes me giddy!"
Reyna sweat dropped at the witch's reaction and said. "Too much information"
Most of the time they were together, Marisa told Reyna of her daily life back then, consisting of stealing books from a person known as Patchouli Knowledge, barging unannounced into Miss Alice's house only to get chased by a mob of dolls with pitchforks, hanging out at the Hakurei Shrine while drinking tea with Reimu, having her hakkero (the name of the octagonal box) repaired by a cute Kappa named Nitori Kawashiro , lazing around at a shop named Kourindou where a man named Rinnosuke Morichika worked as a clerk.
Personally, Reyna thought that the witch's stories were too surreal to be true. She was torn apart from the logic in her world and the logic of this world, now Marisa was babbling about another world just outside of this one? Truly unbelievable.
"On the outside, they have these vehicles called cars, much faster than a horse, but not as fast as my broom over there" explained Marisa one time, still lying on her bed.
"Interesting, what are they made of? Are they powered by magic?" Reyna asked with glinting eyes as the witch told her another story.
"Hmm, no, they're not powered by magic, but I think they were powered with… Gasoline? I don't know, I must've forgotten. Anyway they're wrought out of solid metal, though it must've been weak metal since they still explode when you hit them" said the old lady.
As time went on, the elder told Reyna of many amazing people.
Sakuya Izayoi, a maid with the ability to manipulate time, and along with that, space.
Kanako Yasaka, current goddess of the Youkai Mountain and goddess of the sky.
Reisen U. Inaba, a Lunarian rabbit with the ability to drive a person to madness just by looking into her eyes.
Suika Ibuki, the short girl with orange hair in the photo, known as one of the Devas of the Mountain.
Satori Komeiji, the same satori that aided the humans during the incident years ago, a mind reader that lives underground, is rumored to be cute.
Kotohime, a strange maniacal princess, who thinks as a self proclaimed police woman that lived years ago.
It was only now that Reyna realized that Gensokyo actually meant 'fantasy village' with an increased emphasis on 'fantasy' since having people like that exist for real was too much to believe. Then again, there was a trigger happy old lady before her, who stole a lot of prized objects in their younger days.
One late evening as Marisa was finishing her tale about the unmoving library, Patchouli Knowledge, whom Reyna discovered was also capable of magic and is an elementalist to boot, the girl proceeded to ask the witch the question that has been bothering her ever since she has learned of the old lady being a witch.
"Eh? You want me to teach you magic?" asked Marisa, amused at the girl's sudden desire for learning such a complex art.
"Yes, I can't just continue relying on you for protection, can't I? Sooner or later, I'll be fighting for my life again, I need to have enough power to fight back so I can keep myself from dying" said Reyna with fiery determination in her eyes. "I don't want to run anymore, I am sick of it!"
"Hmm, I understand why you want to learn how to fight, but there are other methods of combat you will be able to learn easier, right?" suggested the old lady, gazing at Reyna thoughtfully. "Why magic? Why mull over a near impossible subject? It took me decades to completely perfect my branch of magic"
"Why not? Why not give it a try? If a human like you can do it, then so can a part elf like me. My mother told me that our ancestors were adept at calling upon the forces of nature that also counts as magic, right? With enough work and time, I'll be flying on a broom stick just like you" argued Reyna.
The old lady rolled her eyes in annoyance, yet decided to give in. "Tomorrow… Tomorrow morning. Maybe it is about time that I took in an apprentice"
A grin flashed across the girl's face and without thinking, she hugged the aged woman that lay on the bed.
"Thank you very much! I won't disappoint you Miss Marisa!" said Reyna gratefully as she let go of the witch.
Marisa cracked a smile at the girl's eagerness to learn. "So this is what it feels like…" she whispered quietly.
"Feels like what?" frowned the girl.
"Oh nothing, now go to sleep, we're going to have a big day tomorrow!" barked Marisa all of a sudden, while Reyna giggled at the lady's sudden change of attitude. Reyna stood and walked towards the door, glancing back one last time at the old lady at the bed.
"Yes dear, I'll turn you into the finest magician there is… Da ze"
Reyna smiled one more time and closed the door. She leaned against the wall while still in the hallway, staring at the ceiling above her. "Magic…. I'm going to learn magic!"
A good night…
Reyna woke up early in the morning to prepare breakfast. She got up and went straight to the bath to clean herself. Once she was finished, she got dressed in her old and repaired clothes, and went immediately to the kitchen to cook breakfast. Reyna was thinking of having a western themed breakfast, based on what Marisa had explained to her about the outside. She quickly went to the pantry and pulled a fresh loaf of bread, two pairs of eggs, and some thin fresh meat.
Reyna the proceeded heating the stove and not two minutes later the air was filled with the scent of cooking food. The tea was ready not long after she had finished setting up the tray for Marisa's breakfast, since the old lady was too lazy to come down and eat with her.
The girl then took off her apron and with a grin, went up the wooden steps. Reyna came thundering down the second floor corridor until she came to a halt just behind Marisa's bedroom door. Breathing hard, she placed the tray unto her right hand and opened the door.
"Oi, wake up! Breakfast is ready!" called Reyna as she approached Marisa who was still sounding asleep on her bed with a smile on her face.
Reyna giggled at the sight. Was she also excited that she's going to have an apprentice that she fell asleep smiling? The girl placed the old woman's breakfast right beside her desk and sat at her bedside so she can wake her up.
The girl gave Marisa a light shake and playfully said. " Hey wake up, I cooked breakfast. If you don't eat it soon it'll get cold, teacher~"
Still, the old woman did not wake.
"Miss Marisa? It's morning already" she said continuing to shake the old woman's side. "Hey this isn't funny"
Reyna's hand travelled to the sleeping woman's forehead to check her temperature, only to find out that Marisa was cold…. Deathly cold…
Fear suddenly crept upon the girl's skin like frostbite, while panic took over her mind, as she roughly shook the old lady in an attempt to wake her. Reyna placed her head upon the woman's chest and found out that there was no heart beat. She then grabbed the elder witch's wrist and checked her pulse only to find none.
Before Reyna knew it she was screaming the witch's name over and over again, tears falling down from her eyes staining the snow white sheets that covered the lady's body.
She can't be dead…. She can't be dead… thought the girl within a part of her mind that was not drowning in confusion, denial, anger, and grief. She was confused for with her future teacher gone, how will she survive?
She kept denying that Marisa was gone for she promised to teach her magic… She was going to learn magic… She was angry at Marisa, angry at herself for not being able to be at the old witch's side when she passed away, why things had to be like this always! Most of all, the sudden loss of the witch was tearing her apart… She was alone, alone in this foreign world with no one to lean on. The thought of loneliness challenged her sanity… She'll go mad if she were to be all alone…
She damned promised me…. Don't die on me now…
Reyna held the elder's hand and began to pray for her passing….. It began to rain… It seems like that the sky was sad…
So passes the Ordinary Black Witch….
A sad day….
Reyna sat with her back against the wall, while facing the bed where Marisa's body lay. The girl's eyes were blank and empty as they stared at the rainy sky outside. Her breathing was shallow and her heart was pumping from hours of crying. She felt just like that doll Marisa had beside her… Indifferent, hollow, and fragile…
The same question hovered within the hollow space of her mind: What was she going to do now?
A loud knock at the door wrenched the girl out of her trance and sparked a tiny light within her empty eyes. Reyna wiped her tears on her sleeve and slowly forced herself on her feet. Pushing herself slowly from the wall, the girl made her way towards Marisa's desk, opening the first drawer grabbing the small octagonal object within.
A faint glow of white was emitted by the silent hakkero, not recognizing the touch of the person holding it. Reyna stared at it with indifferent eyes for a few seconds before gripping it tight, and placing it at her side as she wrenched the door open and headed to meet the visitor.
Reyna descended the steps clearing two steps at a time while she used the railing for support, until she landed at the bottom of the steps with a thud. She quickly ran for the door, opening it and finally aiming the hakkero at the visitor's face. She wanted whoever it was, gone! Don't they know that Marisa Kirisame was dead! Don't they know the sorrow she felt!
"Go away!" screamed Reyna as the hakkero began to glow and the air began to hum with energy. Reyna expected the visitor to be blasted to oblivion just as Marisa did to those Youkai back at the shrine. She expected the visitor to scream out their terror before being enveloped in a grand beam of destruction. She hated it, she hated her predicament, she hated being lied to, she hated this damn world, she hated her bad luck, she hated herself, she hated Marisa for lying to her, she hated everything!
However, the beam Reyna expected to burst forth never came out. The hakkero let loose small tendrils of electricity, before finally shattering between her fingers. Reyna stared at the event with wide eyes, her mouth hanging in shock. Her mind could no longer take it. She fell on her knees and began to sob. She no longer cared for her fate… No longer…
The visitor stared at her, stunned at the hakkero's destruction and at the girl's sudden sobbing. The visitor slowly approached her and wrapped her in a wet embrace. Reyna did not care who it was, or what it was hugging her, she only cried at the person's shoulder as she let loose her sorrowful lament…
A sad night….
Reyna was now at the living room's couch as she was being served tea by no other than Alice Margatroid herself.
Alice's appearance was similar to that of a woman at the age of twenty that had bright blue eyes, and a beautiful complexion that went nicely with her short blonde hair. She wore a sky blue blouse with white sleeves with a long red piece of cloth tied around her waist, her skirt long powder blue skirt was drenched with rain from travelling in nothing more than a thick cloak that now lay beside her as she sat at the chair opposite from where Reyna sat.
A cup of tea was placed between her trembling hands as she and Reyna mourned in silence.
"Thank you for taking care of her…" said Alice, her voice cracked with emotion as she looked at Reyna's beautiful violet eyes. The latter showed no sign of responding prompting Alice to continue once more. "I was afraid that she'll pass on all alone… I tried to arrive as fast as I could, but it seems that I was already too late…"
Reyna kept her mouth shut avoiding eye contact as much as possible.
"Thank you for being with her until the very end, Miss…"
"Reyna… Call me Reyna…"
"Miss Reyna, I don't know how I could thank you for-"
"You don't need to… She's gone… I'm sorry if I couldn't do anything to save her…"
"It's okay… I'm sure Marisa would understand. It was inevitable; death is something we can rarely fight against… Marisa knew her time was coming, I'm sure she passed on without regrets"
"Except for the fact that she failed in bringing Gensokyo back to normal, she failed on her mission of finding the culprit to Reimu Hakurei's death… She spent her life for nothing but a lost cause…"
The tip of the doll's blade was inches away from stabbing Reyna across her forehead if not for Alice who held it back the last second. The puppeteer's eyes were filled with cold rage while the girl's eyes were devoid of any emotion, not even regretting what she had said.
"What did you say, girl…" asked Alice, her index finger twitching causing the doll to inch closer towards the girl's face.
"She failed" repeated Reyna bluntly, "She spent her life for a lost cause, living all alone with no one else beside her… How about you, Miss Alice? Don't you have regrets? How are you so sure that Miss Marisa passed on as peacefully as you think? Don't you think that she still has a tiny piece of regret left? The regret of not being able to do anything as you watch the world you were born in change… And turn into something entirely different… She was sad… She tried to hide it, you know? She tried to hide it under a mask of grouchiness and ungratefulness… The world changed her… It's been decades since you've last met her, how can you be so sure that you still understand her? How could you know what she was feeling? Did you even feel a tiny part of her misery as you left her when she asked for your help? You will never understand her… You never will… I never will…"
Alice was so taken aback by the girl's words, that she made the offending doll retreat and hover right above her shoulder. The puppeteer rubbed her forehead while exhaling a deep breath.
"Please forgive my thoughtless action… You have a point, people never did understand her. The ones that I know that do are Reimu Hakurei and her mentor. Even if in the longest time me and Marisa were together I've never understood her decisions… She was an odd one…"
"Odd… That word would describe her perfectly"
"Yes, it will. Though there is one thing that will not change about her, and that's her ability to understand the feelings of the people around her when they could not understand her in return. Back before Gensokyo was a mess, she was more or less of a selfless person, though most of the time she was a jerk, it's nice to know that there's still some good inside of her"
"She loved this world… That's what kept her from feeling despair throughout the years. She loved the people that resided within it, and her love is eternal and powerful enough to-"
"Light a spark of new hope…" finished Reyna, her knuckles going white as she clenched it so hard.
Alice cracked a smile at the girl's words. "True… It's powerful enough to light a spark of new hope into this dark and gloomy world. A spark that will make the unanswered questions finally clear. It's not true that Marisa worked her entire life on a lost cause, for if she knew it for what it was, she wouldn't waste her time mulling over it. A lost cause could still be salvaged with enough work and willpower"
A memory flashed across Reyna's mind.
The old woman calmly turned her head towards the girl and in a tone she has never used before, she spoke. "Tell me, girl. What is it that you cherish most?"
Reyna clenched her teeth at the memory, Miss Marisa's face burning upon her vision. She then lifted her head and looked at the puppeteer straight in the eye. "You're right… It's not over yet…"
Alice set down her tea cup and sighed. The rain outside had finally stopped; it reminded Reyna of the time Marisa first told her of Gensokyo.
"Miss Alice, would you… like to see her?" asked Reyna in a quiet voice her gaze fixed upon the blonde before her.
Alice did not reply immediately, instead she waited one solid minute to think it through before answering. "Take me to her"
Both Reyna and Alice stood up, and then proceeded their way towards the stairs with the former leading the way. The air felt cold and damp, the complete opposite of the living room below. Their footsteps echoed upon the empty hall as they made their way to Marisa's room.
Reyna came to a halt at a familiar door and gestured Alice inside. The puppeteer muttered her thanks, while the girl chose to stay outside. She had no desire to see Marisa's lifeless body one more time in fear that she'll finally lose it. She did not even know the old woman for a month, yet why did she feel so attached to the witch? She was grumpy, unpredictable, snarky, sarcastic, and a whole other of things!
Reyna had no idea why she felt like a daughter who had just lost her mother, when her real mother was still alive and well… Maybe being grouchy and snappish is Miss Marisa's way of showing her affections. Her conversation with Alice proved to be true after all… No one ever did understand the Ordinary Black Magician.
After a few minutes outside, Reyna heard a soft sobbing resonating from within the room, which she had guessed to be Alice's.
What did I ever do to deserve this? She thought as she slowly sank down on the floor, with her back against the wall, crying once more as she did. I hate my bad luck….
The final night….
The funeral was a simple one. At the top of a large hill, the stars visible for the first time, twinkling and shining as they hovered across the heavens. A gentle breeze upon Reyna's skin as she watched Miss Alice go about with her ritual. Miss Marisa's white clothed body lying on a large bed with white sheets, her large pointed hat sat on her chest as she slept peacefully.
She's gone, though her love will remain…
Dolls that resembled Miss Alice surrounding Miss Marisa's bed glowed with beautiful purple light as the ritual went on…
Immortality matter's not if you're all alone…
The moon shone brightly as Miss Alice muttered numerous magical phrases…
True power lies not in hate and the desire to hurt, it lies in the desire to love and with that love you will gain power to prevent the harming of others. Power to protect those you cherish most.
Alice opened her eyes; tears fell as she muttered the last phrase. The dolls that surrounded Marisa glowing ever brighter…
You gave me a lot to think about, old lady…
Reyna had to squint for the light was blindingly bright. The girl watched as the witch's body dissolved into golden specks of light, rising and hovering a few feet as they gathered together to form a single orb of white light.
So for now… Rest in Peace…
A smile cracked between Reyna's lips as she watched the display before her. The orb was finally finished being formed, leaving an empty mattress and an old hat behind, the only evidence of Marisa's body existing was the doll she kept inside her pocket and her hat.
I'll be finishing what you started… It seems like going home would have to wait, even just for a little while…
The orb slowly rose up higher and higher until it became a part of the heavens, finally becoming one of the stars.
Alice then came to Reyna's side and spoke. "Her bullets were star shaped, you know? I thought she would like it…"
The girl glanced at the puppeteer and grinned, "Of course she will…"
Alice turned to face Reyna, her face bearing a serious expression, and asked. "What will you do now? Do you have any plans made yet? I can offer you a place within my mother's palace; surely you can lead a peaceful life there until you find a way back to your world"
Reyna shook her head. "No, I already have a house to stay in, and yes, I do have plans already made. I'm going to study magic, train myself into acquiring the power I need to get back home. I can't just depend everything to fate, can't I? Sometimes I have to work for the stuff I need without the help of anyone or anything, though a few books from your archives would be nice"
"I see, so you'll be staying at her house… I understand your decision, I will assist you in any way I can, that includes being your part time tutor on the arcane arts if I get the chance" said Alice.
"Thanks for the offer, Miss Alice" said Reyna.
Alice giggled and gave her a wink. "It wasn't an offer"
Reyna felt confused at the puppeteer's word play, that she did not notice a doll nudge her at the side with a large pointed hat. The girl hesitantly accepted the hat and studied it curiously between her hands. It was big, and it might be a little too heavy to wear… Yet she wore it anyway.
"Not exactly my style, but what the heck" chuckled Reyna, feeling comical at her new look.
"It fits… Though I think you have to change its color to fit perfectly for Gensokyo's future White Witch" said Alice as they both made their way back to Marisa's house.
"White Witch, huh… That doesn't sound half bad… The Extraordinary White Witch, apprentice of the Ordinary Black Magician… It fits!" laughed Reyna, taking off the hat and hugging it in her arms.
When they both arrived at their destination, Alice bade Reyna good night and promised that she will be back once she gets the chance. Reyna crashed into the sofa, her newly acquired hat sitting at the table. The girl closed her eyes and drifted off to the world of dreams, dreaming that she was flying at the roof of the world with a young blonde girl with golden eyes flying beside her.
"You ready?" she asked the girl at her side.
"You bet, race ya to the bottom, da ze!"
Dear Mother and Father,
It's me, Reyna. How are both of you feeling? Today is the fourth anniversary of my disappearance. I hope both of you are well. I'm sorry if I never came in contact with you these past months, since it was only now that I have managed to learn how to send objects from one place to another. I know how confused you are that you are thinking that this letter is false, yet I hope that you are willing to read this and understand my complicated explanation.
I was spirited away into a world that goes by the name of Gensokyo, a fantasy world filled many amazing and horrible things.
I know it's hard to believe at first but it's true, I am now trying to find a way back, for I truly miss all of you. I am still alive and you no longer need to worry about my safety for I have learned how to take care of myself during my time here.
Mother, you know of our ancestry, does you not? Well, as I began my training, the power that has lain dormant within my blood has finally begun to awaken. I am currently learning of magic and its many wonderful uses. Nature itself answers to my call and the very river listens to my songs and grants me control.
It's amazing with the things one can do with magic. However as much as I want you all to be here, I'm afraid that I cannot allow such a thing for this world I much more dangerous than ours. If so that any of the family disappears suddenly without a trace whatsoever, pray that they do not wind up here in this bitter sweet world of fantasy.
I still hunt for the woman in black, the one responsible for my companions' murder four years ago; I will avenge them of their deaths so that their families would find justice served.
I wish you both many years to come, keep praying that I, by some miracle, would be finally be able to find my way back.
I love you all, and I miss you.
Please do not lose hope, please wait for my return…
Your loving daughter,
For the first time, I have successfully delivered my letter across the dimensional rift I found deep in the heart of the Forest of Magic. It was my first time casting one of my most powerful spells on an unstable portal just so I can keep it intact while I write out my letter addressed to my parents. I was left drained of my last reserves as I finished casting the spell. I hope that the act wasn't for the bad. Anyway, I had Tammy (a light blue haired fairy in a gray dress) help me fly back before I collapsed in the middle of the forest. Somehow on my way back I caught sight of a strange event occurring at the island in the middle of the frozen lake, which somehow looked as though a large boulder fell on it. Urging my grumbling fairy companion towards the commotion, we went and to see what was happening.
To my surprise we caught the sight of a man, racing across the woods chased by wolves wrought out of the shadows and were born from the darkness out for his blood. The man had a weapon on his hand which I identified as a 'gun', a type of weapon used by people from the Outside of Gensokyo.
He was running like mad, occasionally stopping to shoot some of his hunters. The man managed to fight off some of the wolves before making a last stand at the gate where he was surrounded by the entire pack.
The man courageously fought most of the wolves with weapons that were coming from what looked like a blue transparent object in his hands. First he took out what I identified to be a rifle, and then another gun that had to be pumped before it roared, blowing apart three wolves at the same time. After a few seconds of shooting, he grabbed the wood axe he had on his back and proceeded to fight with it, amazingly killing eight wolves in a matter of seconds.
However even with that kind of prowess in combat, it was obvious that he was getting exhausted. I wanted to help him, but I was in no condition to aid him at the time and could only stand and watch with my fairy companion.
It seemed to me that luck was at his side for the gate behind him swung open, and granted him entrance into the Scarlet Mansion's grounds. I saw him going inside the Mansion, and I've never seen him ever since.
Was he still alive? Who was he? What were those strange weapons doing with him? Where did he come from? Should I go after him? Maybe I should, maybe I shouldn't… Ahh, this so confusing…
If he's still alive, there's only one way to find out…
I have to change the font for no apparent reason, so as not to confuse you people there.
So ends this fairly long story.
Now to share my own personal thoughts about this behemoth.
Grammatical hiccups, grammatical hiccups everywhere! And those woozy wall of texts! Actually there is a lot to say about this story, but I'll leave it to you guys to do it.
I was thinking of making this heartwarming story, but I think that it didn't come out that way...
But there are some intriguing parts... The incident that ended it all, Alice's short disappearance, the humans travelling underground.
I think I'm going to pull a ZUN and leave it for you guys to guess.
However I will say this in the red truth: This has nothing to do with the Madness of Laevateinn.
PS. Whoever finds the reference to Nekokuro's fic gets a prize!
Edit: Gone done fixed them walls of texts!