That morning feels like it's all going in fast forward for Ail and Budou. They start things off by skipping breakfast to meet with Sanae on time; who eventually forces them to have breakfast at the shrine.
As they enjoy their eggs rolled in seaweed (a surprisingly tasty and filling breakfast), the shrine maiden walks out of her room in her blue swimsuit, stretches her chest from the living room as she positions her legs in an alluring crossed pose, and asks "so how does it look?" and then she winks at her dense boyfriend.
It is safe to say that his red face and his forgetting how to chew gives the girl the answer she wanted, and so she giggles and walks back to her room as she says "excellent! This is the one I'm taking~"
Budou stares flatly at her papa and then says "open and close your mouth to chew, and then swallow." He does as ordered.
After preparations are done, the girls and the boy stand in front of the donation box; ready to take off into a gap; when Suwako calls him.
She and Kanako stand side by side in front of the closed doors of the living quarters and look at him with some concern.
The blonde girl smiles at him and asks "so, how are you feeling? Are you okay with this party? You know it's just an excuse for them to drink and eat their hearts out."
He chuckles and grins, then says "yes, I'm fine. It's, uh, getting a little easier to cope with now after what happened with me and Flandre. I tell you, that little tike knew the right words to get me out of this self-pity crap."
Kanako nods and says "we know she helped you Anilan, but even Sanae can see it in your eyes. You still just want to hide and forget everything."
Ail looks away and mutters incoherently since he has no way of answering anything to counter those claims.
The blue haired goddess pats his head and says "Rika and Reimu had a chat with us..."
"As did Byakuren," interrupts the little blonde. The ample-chested goddess glares at her friend, but then continues "what we're trying to say is, you should talk to that maid and that monk. They will help you greatly."
Anilan nods twice as he smiles brightly at them, then says "yes, I know, and I am going to take their offer for help. I mean, why else would Rika ask me to take her to her home? ...Look, I'm not stupid... too stupid. I know everyone is concerned, and so I will do what I must to help myself."
Suwako nods once and says "good. Now please, try to enjoy yourself, have fun, and take care of yourself, of Budou, and our Sanae."
He smiles at them, nods, then heads toward the girls again, giving them a nod of acknowledgement that he's ready.
He stands in front of them and closes his eyes, raises his right hand forward and opens the palm flat vertically, focuses greatly for a moment, then a blue gap opens up and he says "alright, let's go say hi to Yukari and then go get Reimu and the others."
The girls nod, even though he's not looking, then follow him into the gap leading straight toward the large western/eastern mansion at Mayohiga.
Ail now stands in front of Yukari, who has prepared a small area in front of her house for their training, and while they train, Chen, Budou and Sanae watch them from the house's veranda while Ran prepares some tea and lunch.
"Alright boy, finish the equation and let 'er rip." The blonde woman gives him the command, and then the dense boy closes his eyes and focuses as though in deep meditation, and after a minute and a half pass a purple gap opens up and countless eyes start looking at him from within.
He opens his own golden eyes to look back at them, and the moment he does the eyes inside turn golden as well, then a pair of seals appear on the borders of the rift and stabilize it perfectly.
Yukari observes his progress with great interest, and even goes as far as kicking off of her own gap to walk around his rift to take a closer look.
She pokes her head inside, hums playfully, and then says "alright, you've got that part down. You may close it if you wish."
A second after saying this the boy's gap closes up with a buzz, then Ail gasps and says "I can't believe how damned stupid I was! Yukari, why didn't you tell me of this error of mine before all of that happened?"
The blonde covers her mouth with her fan and says "I'm sorry Ail, I just thought you would figure it out like I did. The problem with you was that you kept pushing and pushing and pushing until it became too dangerous. I managed to figure it out before I went opening gaps to other worlds."
Budou looks back and forth between her papa and the youkai sage, then hesitantly asks "umm, so what are you talking about? I thought Papa Ail's gaps were good."
Sanae's face indicates she's questioning the same thing in her mind, but obviously feels there's no need to ask the same question twice.
Anilan himself turns to face the girls and says "they were good, yet opening gaps between borders without first stabilizing the rifts makes things dangerous. That's why my blunders kept getting worse every time..."
He looks at the blonde youkai again and says "although, maybe if you would have at least told me something when I accidentally helped create the Random Sukima, I could have done more to train myself."
Yukari giggles as she taps his head with her closed fan, opens it up in front of her mouth again, then says "and where's the fun in that? Now come on dear, we have more equations to work with~."
And so the rest of the morning is spent learning hard equations and using them to open gaps to other, safer worlds. No use opening gaps to more dangerous worlds when it's just training.
And so the morning is gone in what feels like a flash, and now Ail is picking up Reimu, Marisa, Mima, Rika, Kyo, Luna and Medicine from the Hakurei shrine, Remilia, Sakuya, Flandre and Meiling from the Scarlet Devil Mansion, and reaching Satori's own mansion in the blink of an eye; all done with his newfound stabilized gaps that feel easier to control.
The greetings for Ail are surprisingly casual; hugs from Orin and Okuu, surprisingly warm welcoming words from Satori, and an even more surprising (and boringly normal) handshake from Koishi.
He isn't sure exactly why she seems more calm and relaxed than before, but by the look on Satori's face this change in behavior is very welcome. The older sister looks genuinely happy, even though she tries to hide it with charisma.
And so the large group reach the underground lake; which is to the left of the path to the Earth Spirit's Palace; and are surprised to see the beauty of its natural crystals illuminating the place perfectly without causing harm to the underground creatures, or the vampire guests.
At the very center of the lake's tall ceiling is the largest of the crystals, and its prism light seems to be what causes the other crystals to illuminate the entire area. The source of said light remains unknown, but Ail and Reimu suspect it might be a bit of sunlight entering through a crack above.
Moments after the appreciation is done, clothes fly off, bodies are semi-exposed in alluring, tight, elegant, sexy, or cute swimsuits (two and once-pieces all around); and the sake and food to be enjoyed is set and prepared without a moment to waste. Sanae anticipated the lack of fruits and juices, and so has brought plenty of grape juice for Budou.
Kyo and Luna share a romantic solitary moment in a secluded part of the lake and seem to be having a nice time together; even with Medicine's muffled screams.
Said doll youkai and her counterpart, Su-San, have been tied up and hung by the skirts of their swimsuits for trying to poison the waters around them. The couple doesn't care the dark-red swimsuit is riding up the uncomfortable blonde's butt.
At the center of the lake, Meiling and Marisa are splashing water at each other, while Orin and Okuu have a contest to see who can hold her breath longer underwater. By the looks of the hell raven floating face-down on the water, it's clear she's winning, and Orin feels humbled.
Rika, Reimu and Koishi are swimming underwater with snorkels and are amazed by the beautiful glowing crystals, blue and red fish, and odd rock formations they find.
Reimu and Koishi insist their snorkels are magic glass devices, regardless of how many times the angelic maid tells them what they really are and explains how they work.
Reimu giggles as she looks down to the depths of the lake, then says "ooh, glowing fish! If I catch one I can make it my shrine's avatar and get more donations!"
"Miss Reimu, wait!" Rika goes after her mistress underwater and enjoys the sight of the red bikini bottom and the red and white polka-dot top the shrine maiden wears.
They both remain blissfully unaware of Koishi's worried stare toward the shore. The subconscious satori whimpers softly, but quickly looks away and swims after the girls.
Near the shores, Remilia, Flandre and Sakuya kick water at each other and are obviously having a great time together, and even though the elder vampire tries to look serious about it she repeatedly ends up giggling and returning a splash at either her maid or her little sister.
Before the giggles and fun, Sakuya was feeling embarrassed of her tight blue swimsuit, but after seeing Flandre's red high-cut bikini, and Remilia's own pink bikini, she feels more comfortable about the way she's dressed now.
Little Budou has fallen asleep on her towel next to Petal, after eating a large bowl of grape sundae with whipped cream, and they are being watched over by Phredia while Ail and Sanae explore more of the underground lake; particularly looking for crystals.
The dense boy is wondering how Sanae kept Budou's sundae fresh all that time and where did she hide it, while the shrine maiden wonder when did her boyfriend gap that treat in. They're not really talking about it.
Anilan bends over after finding a lose crystal between two blue rocks, but then is quick to slap away a hand that tugs on the back of the band of his black trunks with yellow stripes.
He lifts himself back up with the desired crystal on hand and with a scolding look on his face, and then he suddenly gasps and blushes brightly when looking at his molester.
Mima's blue bikini with suspiciously placed yellow stars on the top and yellow sun on the bottom quickly knocks out the boy's defenses, making her giggle and says "well, I see you approve of my swimwear... or is it your thing for girls with green hair~?"
The boy sighs, smiles at her, then says "I'll admit you look very alluring Miss Mima, but my girl is Sanae, there's no doubt about that in my mind. Besides, you're like a mother figure to me."
The supposedly-evil spirit pouts cutely, then chuckles mischievously and says "mother figure, huh? I wonder if my figure is more alluring than your mother's."
Ail's face turns red when his imagination starts running wild, then angrily mutters "dammit mom." Without his knowing, Mima has wrapped herself around him and his holding him close.
When he notices this he gasps and tries to push her off. He is liking the attention and it's scaring him. His thoughts turn to Nega Ail, and thinks he could easily become as evil as that guy, and so his heart starts beating faster as panic sets in.
The evil spirit giggles as she gets away from him after noticing his distress, then sighs and pats his head and says "I'm sorry, I just wanted to see how you really are. It seems you're still a little shocked. Oh?"
Sanae glares cutely at the evil spirit while clinging on to the arm of her man. The boy seems to be soothed and relaxed when this happens, and so Mima smiles at them.
"I see," she observes. "Please, don't misunderstand me; I just want to make sure he's alright. It appears my worries were for nothing so long as you and that little bat girl are with him."
The shrine maiden holds her boyfriend tighter and grunts at the evil spirit, while the boy chuckles nervously and tries to subdue his girlfriend's anger with pats on the head.
Satori walks in wearing her pink swimsuit that she makes look cute and sexy, and after nonchalantly glancing between the girls she asks "can I have a word with Ail alone please?"
Mima merely shrugs and floats away and Sanae grunts softly, but before she speaks the mind-reader says "please, don't think that. He's not even my own species. I just need to talk to him."
She gives him a heavy look straight in the eyes and he nods back and says "Sanae, please, this appears to be important."
After the shrine maiden reluctantly leaves, Ail and Satori sit side by side on a wide rock, and as they speak she swings her legs while he fiddles around with that crystal he found earlier.
She sighs uncomfortably, glances at him, and then says "Ail, those thoughts; ever since you saw me you started thinking of your encounter with us in your trial world."
He twists the crystal between his hands while twitching uncomfortably, and then the girl continues "please stop. Those thoughts make me feel very uncomfortable, and even Koishi is feeling chills from them!"
"I'm so sorry, Satori." The boy is chocking back his tears as he now holds the rock he's sitting on as though for dear life. "It's just that seeing you after that experience brought one of my worst memories back to the front of my mind. I'm trying, but I can't stop them!"
The mind-reader sighs, closes her eyes, then says "Ail, what did you see when you saw me today? I was standing right in front of my door with Petal by my side, and Okuu, Orin and Koishi playing behind me. What does that tell you?"
His thoughts shift and now his mind allows him the comfort of seeing his subterranean friends alive, well, and happy to see him.
Satori nods, and then says "that's right. Please remember where you are. Your experience has returned you to who you were before, but your insistence in keeping those bad experiences afloat is not helping you return to your own life. Please, go to the shrine's maid and the monk as soon as you can. I can see they are worried about you just by reading your thoughts."
He nods, sighs, then says "yes, I will, that is my wish also. I will see them as soon as I can; you can count on that."
The girl smiles, rubs his head, then gets off the rock and makes her way towards Budou and Phredia.
Ail sighs as he allows the soothing sensation of calmness fill him, and then Sanae jumps to his right, holds him tight, then says "see, everyone is worried about you. But don't worry Ail-kun; we will get you through this. You'll see."
She buries her face in his chest and causes him to giggle when she accidentally tickles him, and then as he rubs her back he kisses her head, then says "thank you so much, Sanae my love."
Flandre stands beside them with an annoyed look of defeat on her face as she repeatedly pokes the boy's back and blandly says "come on~! Take those wings out. I want to love you so I can forget about that cat."
Back at the Scarlet Devil Mansion, Azzhara sneezes and falls off the edge of Flandre's bed.
The next morning, after Ail leaves Budou at the Moriya Shrine; and has a snack of dumplings at the Human Village after greeting Keine and Kyo; he makes his way to the Hakurei Shrine on foot.
As he walks through a part of the road that's thickest with trees, he wonders where are the usual fairies and lesser youkai that normally come out to play with, or try to eat the humans that walk this way.
He stops and looks annoyed toward the road, sighs and opens a gap over his head just before a yellow bolt of lightning strikes him, then he looks up with calm annoyance and says "this would have worked if you'd had left the youkai and fairies alive, you know."
Tojiko chuckles as she floats down toward the boy with a hateful glare and unfriendly smile, and says "that was my plan originally, but they were too annoying so I had to deal with them. Now let me see what you're made of; and please feel free to die if I hit you too hard."
The dense boy chuckles back and looks at her with a deceivingly calm face as he says "well now, you really do hate me that much. Well that's fine by me. More reason for me to not hold back at all."
She points at him with both hands, and arrows and lightning bolts go straight to his feet, but he's already airborne by the time those hit the ground, and is shooting blue lasers as the girl's chest.
The ghostly girl twirls left to avoid the beams and rushes straight to the boy. Once in reach, she swings her right hand, but instead of connecting with his face, they accidentally slap hands.
She swings her left hand and he blocks her again, then she tries to headbutt him, but he just sways right and pushes her body forward to make her spin.
Tojiko recovers fast, growls at him, shoots more lightning bolts, then screams when said bolts enter his front gaps and come out other gaps behind her. Her sore ghostly butt stings quite a bit now.
Ail chuckles as he lands, calmly waves his arm in a circle in front of himself before bowing, then look up at her with a smile and asks "had enough?"
She prepares a ball of lightning on her hand after reaching the ground, smirks, then says "I'm only getting started."
She throws that spark and the boy jumps right into a shower of lightning arrows when trying to avoid it.
He shields his face with his forearms and the green haired girl goes straight to him with another lightning orb on her hand, but as soon as she reaches for his chest he grabs her arms and pulls her close for one epic headbutt; one that sends both in a wobbly moaning walk that looks as though they are high on something.
They shake their heads and recover, each pulls out a spell card, and they declare them at the same time.
"Thunder Arrow, Gagouji's Cyclone!"
"Light Sign, Within the Jewel's Core!"
A cyclone of thunder arrows moving in zigzags spread from all around the girl, while the boy is surrounded by 7 white and blue stars that have 8 edges that split and move at the speed of light, leaving behind sharp blue spikes that rain down on the girl in straight random lines, and overwhelm her with homing petal bullets.
It's obvious that Ail's patterns overpowers Tojiko's, however the girl adds yellow lightning orbs that spread around her as she moves around and randomizes her own spell's pattern
Somehow, all of the bullets in the air merely collide against the opposing bullets and never really hit their mark, so both fighters take flight and rise higher and higher to intensify their spells, to the point that there are barely any openings between any of the bullets.
Both spells collide, the explosion of the bullets cause great disturbance, and after the mandatory explosions, Ail and Tojiko fall back to the ground.
They struggle a bit to get back up, glare at each other for a few seconds, then the girl says "you know, that face of yours really pisses me off worst than Futo's salad breakfast."
He grins while still scowling and says "you are so irritating Miss Tojiko. Why don't you just go home and leave me be before I get mad and really hurt you?"
She grins back, he chuckles lightly, then both rush at each other with a raised fist, and collide said fists after they miserably miss their mark.
They pull their arms back and shake and blow on their sore knuckles while jumping around and "owing" like little children, then they glare at each other again, rush to each other, and try to swat at each others' faces while pulling their necks back for safety.
Budou flies straight at the two, lands in front of them, giggles while looking at them, then says "I'm so glad to have found you, and with Tojiko-sis as well."
Ail and Tojiko fake wide grins as they each wrap an arm around each other's shoulders like two great buddies.
The boy coos to hide the growl intended for the green haired girl, then says "why Budou, what's the matter sweetie? I thought you were staying with Sanae."
The spirit girl manages a more convincing coo as she tries to sink her nails on the boy's shoulder, and says "aww, I'm your sis now? I'm quite honored."
The little bat girl raises an eyebrow, stares strangely at the two, and asks "umm, what's going on? Are you two ok?"
Both nod and say "of course," while trying to break each other's shoulders with their grips.
Budou giggles, then says "well, I just wanted to go to the village and buy some grapes with you papa, but I'm too late. I better go back home."
"Miss Tojiko can accompany you, sweetie; isn't that right, Miss Soga?"
The green haired girl chuckles uncomfortably and sweetly says "well of course I can~. It would be my pleasure." She embraces him tighter and whispers in his ear "this isn't over, boy."
"You better take care of her or I'll kill you," he whispers back in a threatening tone.
Moments later he's waving at the girls from afar, turns around and rubs his shoulder, absorbs the electricity from it with his hand, and as he looks at the sparks going off on them he says to himself "I really hate that ghost."
A washtub falls on his head, knocking him out on the ground while a familiar childish voice asks "is that so~?"
Ail arrives to the Hakurei Shrine and finds Rika waiting for him by the donation box, and by the tired look on her face it appears she's been waiting for him for a long time.
He looks up to the sky and realizes it's almost midday and feels quite sheepish.
He chuckles as he rubs the back of his head and says "I'm sorry Rika-sis. I guess I took too long with that annoying spirit girl."
The angelic maid crosses her hands over her chest and gives the boy a hard look, then says "yes, Suzaku saw what happened. You know you could have easily walked away from that, right?"
The boy looks down to the ground and sighs, then says "Rika, I'm so sorry, it's just that that girl really irritates me. She came into my house and-"
"I don't want to hear any more excuses." After her little scolding the boy just chuckles and looks like he's getting a little too nervous, so she takes a deep breath to calm herself down and says "look, it's alright. Let's just go before I fall asleep in here."
As she says this she points at the donation box next to her, and then both she and the dense boy giggle at the thought of the angelic maid becoming a donation in her sleep.
Anilan focuses before opening the gap leading to Rika's old homeworld, and though he seems a little strained he calmly says "alright, we'll exit through that shrine Yukari told me about. From there we can make our own way to Miss VIVIT's place."
"That's fine," says the girl before grabbing the dense one by the hand and pulling him into that gap.
The future of the outside world is now looking a little brighter. The Earth is finally recovering itself from the damage that was done to it, and now some lively greenery can be seen covering what once was death and desolation.
Both Ail and Rika admire all of this as they make their way to city and to the 'Main Base', where VIVIT currently lives. Said establishment is set on a grassy hill outside the city grounds, and behind it lies a beautiful little forest with a massive tree that's surrounded by many flowers.
The boy and the angelic girl look on toward the forest from one of the highest buildings (which they happened to climb by running and hopping up its walls), and after seeing Rika smile he says "Yuka would love that spot right there by that tree."
She chuckles and then points toward the mountains a little farther after the forest, and says "see that? That's where I used to spend some time with the white wolves."
The mountain tops are covered in ice; this explains the white wolves to the boy, but doesn't really explain why she would hang out with them instead of people... but then he remembers what he saw when he touched her dark sword.
He nods to her, then says "come, I bet VIVIT will love know you are here."
She giggles and says "the faster, the better."
They arrive to their destination quickly, and not two minutes after arriving, and before greeting can be properly delivered, Rika finds herself being crushed in a big hug.
Ail observes the maid with long red hair and blue eyes crushing Rika. The girl wears a blue maid's uniform with a white apron on top, and of course, the headdress on her head.
VIVIT easily lifts the angelic maid up and spins around with her while squealing "RIKAAAAA~! How are you? It's so good to see you! Oh my goodness, you've grown!"
After saying that last part she finally releases the dazed girl and stares at her chest while saying "oh you've really grown! You look even prettier than last time!"
Poor Rika stumbles in place while trying to look at the real VIVIT of the five she sees, and says "ah... th-thank you. C-could you please stop moving now?"
The redhead maid smiles as she holds Rika by the shoulder to help her stabilize, then looks at Ail, smiles, and says "Ooh, that's Ail, isn't he? Oh, what a handsome catch! Have you two... you know... 'sealed your relation' yet?"
The dense boy can't answer. He is too busy imagining him and Rika doing some sort of ritual with swords, dances and seals in order to become one person.
Noticing his denseness, a drop of sweat rolls down VIVIT's head as she says "oh my, he's a dense one..." She cheers up and adds "that's kind-a cute!"
The blushing angel-girl flaps her wings as she chuckles and nervously says "i-it's not like that! Ail's my big-brother! He's the one that brought me here today."
VIVIT stares at the boy as she walks over to him, give him a bone-crushing hug that almost squeezes his heart out of his chest, and exclaims "oh, thank you so much! You don't know how happy it makes me to see Rika!"
After noticing the damage done to him all she says is a simple "oops", and then sets him down on a comfortable couch while she and Rika have a quick chat at the living room. (His head is currently resting on the angelic girl's lap.)
The redhead looks at her guest of honor with a smile and asks "so, what brings you here today? You no longer need maintenance or anything of the sort, you know."
Rika sweats a bit as her heart is caught by the chill of doubt, but she gulps it down and smiles a bit pained as she replies "well, you see... VIVIT, this is going to be hard for me to say, but I'm not coming back here anymore."
As she expected, VIVIT's smile vanishes in an instant as it is replaced by a very sad frown as she meekly asks "what? R-Rika-chan, did s-something...?"
Rika quickly hops off the couch; leaving Ail safely on it; and gives the redhead a soft hug. "Please don't misunderstand; it is nothing you or anyone did. It's just that Gensokyo has become my home now and being away from it and Mistress Reimu is becoming a pain in my heart. Please understand."
The frown of VIVIT's lips turns to a soft smile when she returns the embrace. Her voice cracks as she speaks, even though she tries her best to sound casual. "I knew something like this would happen. Your life now is so much better than it was when you were here. You've gotten everything you needed and more; things I could never give you. I'm happy for you... and I am sorry I couldn't be there for you before; when you most needed me."
The angelic girl sighs and sweetly replies "you have nothing to apologize for. You are the one that took care of me, and it was you who was there when I needed you the most; whether you want to believe that or not." She then giggles and adds "that's why me and Ail though about giving you a small gift."
When the hug ends (to VIVIT's disappointment), she discovers Ail is conscious and standing next to her with a small brown box. Rika urges her to take it, and so she does, opening it with a quick flip of the top of the simple-looking box.
Inside she finds a small golden whistle, and before she asks the boy says "with this you'll have access to Gensokyo whenever you want. In short, you can come visit Rika-sis whenever you want, Miss VIVIT."
The angelic maid flaps her wings while softly clapping her hands once in front of her chest, and says "isn't that wonderf-AAH! WHAT'S WRONG!?"
The very happy redhead has a chunk of hair standing on its end while she smiles brightly and bleeds through her nose. She doesn't want to say it was that cute wing-flap just now. She elegantly cleans her mess with a napkin and sweetly says "nothing's wrong sweetie; everything is juuuust fine~! Uhuhu."
After VIVIT quickly dispenses of all the evidence to her odd reaction she says "oh that's right. Rika tomorrow will be that special day for you, won't it?"
The angelic girl giggles and says "oh my, of course. Is my special dress still here? I would very much like to wear it for such an occasion."
The redhead maid giggles and says "it's still the same as when you left it. Of course with that said I'll work on adjusting it a little; seeing as you've, uh, grown so much."
As she say that she stares at Rika's chest, making her giggle and blush a bit out of embarrassment. Ail is not really sure what's going on, so he does what he does best and imagines Rika in a battle suit, shooting and cutting monsters while she makes her way towards some unknown treasure.
The girls merely stare at him with wonder, but decide it is best not to ask and to continue with their own conversation.
The next morning Ail and Rika are up very early and already at the forest behind VIVIT's home.
The boy's cheeks are still red from the surprise he got when he saw the angelic maid in her 'special' dress, which happens to be a simple pure-white sundress with a yellow ribbon tied around the waist.
Not only does the dress make her look cuter than she already is, she's also acting twice as cute and sweetly than ever, and it's this behavior that happens to be affecting the dense boy so much.
Rika literally skips and dances her way toward the flied of flowers near the massive tree. She stops and looks at all of the many types and colors of flowers with the face a child would make when happy, giggles after looking at the base of the tree and she whispers to herself "Aura," then she wraps her arm around Ail's and says "come, come! Let's pick a few of these flowers!"
The boy is going to accept the offer, but he can't even say a simple "yes" because Rika is already dragging him closer to said flowers and keeps giggling and skipping with great joy.
Unknown to them, there is a redhead maid wearing a camouflage uniform in the distance, and she has a camera the keeps clicking away as said stalker drools and nosebleeds while she takes pictures that are mostly focused on Rika.
After picking a few flowers the angelic girl starts dancing around, wooing and giggling as she spins carefully around the spots of ground without flowers. While she does that, the dense boy holds the flowers they picked and drifts away into his mind.
He can see the field as it once was, surrounded by decay and death, rubble of old destroyed buildings, and the freshly dug grave that belongs to Aura, Rika's 'little sister'.
"Ail, come here," calls Rika, bringing the boy back from the dark thoughts of the memories he saw when he touched that sword. She's sitting right next to the tree, in front of where Aura's grave is, and keeps waving invitingly at him.
He eventually complies and sits next to her; and gets a kiss on the cheek to his surprise; but before he can react to that the winged maid says "come, let us meditate."
He nods. He's not sure why, but his voice seems to be failing him. The more he feels some form of happiness filling his heart, the more painful the swirling darkness of doubt surrounding it becomes.
He sets the flowers to his left and takes a meditative position as he sits down, but Rika immediately taps his head and says "no, not like that. We're going to use a special method of mine."
She immediately grabs hold of his shoulder and forces him to lay on his back, then gently sets his head on her lap so that he faces her. He seems frightened, even with that angelic face looking down at him.
Rika begins combing his hair with her hand and softly says "before we begin, I want you to think about positive things only. Think about Miss Sanae and Budou, think about your mother, your friends; think happy thoughts about them. They are happy to see you, and this makes you happy as well."
Though he can't find his voice Ail still manages to nod while relaxed, and so he begins to think of Reimu and Marisa, then Mima, the Scarlet Devil Mansion and the Underground dwellers. On and on he sees all of his friends being happy and being themselves until he finally reaches Sanae and Budou.
He can hear himself laugh in his mind and call for them, but the moment he reaches for them the image in his mind turns red. The girls frown sadly and all around them those he love moan in agony, and in the center of their pain is his evil self; Nega-Ail.
He's smiling, enjoying their pain as they all drop one-by-one to unseen wounds. Anilan himself drops on his knees while his dark twin approaches him with a dark energy blade ready to finish him.
Rika's coos and purrs reach him before the dark blade does, and now he feels he can relax as the world around him quickly heals itself. He doesn't know it but outside of his mind he's crying and stammering incoherently.
The angelic maid continues to rub his head while shushing and cooing at him, and when she sees he's relaxed she says "Anilan Inmodo Leuch; you are no longer inside the dream world, you are with friends that care about you. You cannot let that darkness take over your life, and now that you have returned to what you were, you should know how to deal with this by yourself."
The boy sighs as the world in his mind returns to that happy place with friends, and now what was just a dark background is a field of grass and some trees with a little river zigzagging its way around everything.
Sanae and Budou are now right in front of him and each takes one of his hands and pull him toward the large group of friends that are eager to happily greet him.
He comes to again and sees Rika's innocent smile upon him, and so he can't help but smile back as she says "but remember that you don't have to do this all on your own. You have me, Byakuren, Miss Reimu, Miss Sanae and Miss Budou, and many other friends and family that are willing to help you."
As he smiles, he gulps what feels like the last bit of cold darkness stuck in his throat, and then says "I understand, but... Rika, what if I hurt them? What if that dark side of me becomes real?"
She giggles and bends down to kiss his forehead, then says "have a little more faith in your loved ones; and some more faith on yourself too. Ail, you asked me how I can deal with this darkness of mine. It is simple. I accepted it."
Before the question that has obviously formed in the boy's mind can be asked, the winged girl giggles and says "yes Ail; you have to accept it. You see, I learned something very important very recently. Not all light is good, and not all darkness is evil."
She lifts her hands enough for him to see she's holding a small orb of light on one and a small orb of darkness on the other as she says "you see, one just needs to find balance between them and all your fears will dissolve. It is a very hard road, and not everybody reaches this goal, but you have us to help you through it."
He looks with confusion at her face and asks "I know the balance is needed between the two, but does it really go that deep?"
Rika smiles sweetly and places her hands closer to each other. Ail watches as the two orbs start to spin around each other; making themselves looking like fairies playing in the sky, and then something beautiful happens right before his eyes.
The lights spin faster and faster until a large green orb of energy; strong enough to keep half of Yuka's flower fields alive for a whole year; grows between the light and the darkness. In short, they have created life.
She can see understanding in his face, so she takes the energy back, pats him on the head, and both smile at each other before Ail finally says "I see. I think I'm beginning to understand but... that kind of understanding still escapes me."
Rika nods and softly says "then we are done here for today. When you are ready, you can talk to me again; and I am sure Lady Byakuren can help you understand this as well. Just don't forget we can help; and I am certain all of your friends will help you, even Miss Tojiko."
Ail's smile becomes corrupted with annoyance, and then he says "she's a real pain in my sides, and we've only just met."
The angelic maid pokes his forehead and says "and that's all part of living. You just need to take it as it comes and stop worrying about it all the time."
They stare at each other for a while, and then they both begin to laugh as though a joke has been shared.
Unknown to them; and aside from VIVIT nosebleeding to the death behind some bushes while taking pictures; they are being watched by a pair of sinister grey eyes.
They belong to a little girl with grey hair that curls at the sides, and whom wears a blue dress with short white sleeves, a matching blue skirt, a black cape, and has a dark-red jewel with a black ribbon attacked to it adorning her chest.
She hisses as she smiles darkly at the two visitors, and then says to herself "so much magic! They aren't from this part of the world, that's for sure! I better keep my eyes on them!"
She moves like a blur and disappears from sight in an instant, however her evil little chuckle echoes in the area, leaving an ominous aura behind.
Later at night, while Rika is in her old room; preparing to take a bath after Ail is done; she sits on her bed and softly claps her hands together.
She flaps her wings and prays "Aura, dear sis, I don't know how much I managed to help my big brother today, so I ask you to please help me. Please watch over him as you watch over me. He really needs all the help he can get."
"Heh-heh; you got it sis."
Rika gasps and looks around her room once before she asks "Aura? I-is that you?"
Meanwhile, Ail is getting out of the bathtub when he sees a young blonde girl with long hair, small bat wings on her head, large bat wing on her back, and light red eyes smiling while waving at him from the showers.
He calmly wraps his towel around himself and watches as the little girl vanishes, then he whispers to himself "but that's Aura. Why is she-?"
He can hear Rika calling for Aura from her room, gulps, then asks "what does this mean?"
The next day, after meeting the white wolves of the mountains and paying their respects to Aura's grave again, Ail, Rika and VIVIT go to the old shrine where the boy can safely open his gap back home.
While they hang around the grounds, they do what they can to ignore the boarded doors. From behind them, Hirano Sakurasaki, the keeper of said shrine, bangs on said door repeatedly while shouting "dammit VIVIT, get me OUT OF HERE! Why are there three strangers here!? What are you planning? ...VIVIIIIIIIIT!"
All three 'guests' sigh, and then the redhead maid says "well Rika, I guess this is it. Umm, so you are SURE this whistle will allow me to visit you whenever I want?"
The angelic maid chuckles, nods, and then says "of course. Ail and I worked hard on it. We worked out all the kinks so it should be fine for you."
Somehow that statement doesn't give the robot maid much confidence, but she discards the feeling and happily says "well then be sure to expect my visit. It could happen at any time!"
Ail giggles at the thought and then says "don't worry; Yukari and I will know when you come over."
VIVIT snaps her fingers after she remembers something, and after rummaging through her pockets she pulls out a photograph and says "here you go. I want you guys to keep it."
Rika takes the photo and holds it so that she and Ail can look at it together. It is of the day before, at the moment where Rika looked the happiest while dragging Ail around by the arm and picking flowers.
It is obvious by the look on the boy's face that the angelic girl's smile is contagious, since he's smiling while looking at her face as she smiles toward the sneaky camera that took that picture.
The angelic maid coos and smiles while looking at the picture, while Ail fakes a chuckle and asks "say, when did you take this?"
Before the nervous redhead can stammer an answer, Rika holds the picture against her chest and says "it's beautiful. Thank you very much VIVIT-chan."
She gives VIVIT a hug while said girl is left in shock after that "chan" bit. Ail opens his gap after finally finishing his equation, and while his seals stabilize the rift for him he says "alright, it's time to go. This should lead us straight to the Hakurei Shrine."
After another hug and one more "goodbye", Rika and Ail enter the gap, which closes only seconds after they go in, leaving VIVIT waving at nothing.
Meanwhile the grey-eyed girl form the day before hides behind the shrine's gate with a triumphant grin on her face. She giggles inward and whispers to herself "so that's it! They really are form another world; and oh, it has so much magic! This is great; I, the great Muse, must get that whistle so I can use that magic to reach my glorious goals at long last!" She then sighs and adds "I need to stop talking to myself..."
Muse gasps and suddenly leaves when VIVIT begins pulling the boards from the door to free Hirano, who angrily says "there, you see? There WAS a third presence here, and now it's gone! You should have freed me before!"
The red haired maid sighs and says "right, right; you just want to try and kick my butt."
The maiden happily replies from inside "and how!"
Ail's purple gap opens up right next to the Moriya Shrine extension, and a second later he and Rika walk out of and land safely back on Hakurei Shrine grounds. The gap closes a second after.
The boy bows to the shrine's maid in gratitude and says "thank you so much for all your help Rika." He straightens up again and adds "I will try to contact Byakuren soon. The faster I start this, the better for us all."
The winged maid giggles and says "that's right; and now it's time I honor my part to Miss Sanae."
Before the dense one can ask, Rika activates her Quicksilver in just a second, carries Ail bridal style, and then takes off to the Moriya Shrine. For the boy it looks like the entire world has turned grey and that everything around them is moving so slow, it's like something is holding the world in place.
They are now at the Moriya Shrine in what felt like a few seconds, and so Rika sweetly says "and here he is, safe and sound as promised Miss Sanae."
As she sets him on the ground he realizes he's in front of the shrine's living quarters, and that Sanae and Budou are already running toward him, cheering as they exit the building, and hug-tackling him to the ground as soon as they are in range.
After rubbing their faces on him (and getting their heads rubbed by him) until they are satisfied, the girls help the dense boy up and welcome him properly.
"Welcome back home sweetie," sweetly says Sanae.
"Welcome back Papa! Budou missed you," happily says the little fruit bat.
Anilan makes a disgruntled smiling face when looking at them and thinking what Rika bluntly says. "That's something you should have said before you almost killed him."
Ignoring that remark, the shrine maiden wraps her arm around her man, kisses his cheek while leaning on his shoulder, then glances upward from his shoulders to his eyes while asking "so how was it? Did the experience help?"
The boy blushes and smiles as he says "yes, it was very good. I feel so much better now. I still have ways to go, but I made even more progress now." While he says this, Rika rummages through her pocket and pulls VIVIT's picture, and presents it while happily saying "just look for yourself. It was fun!"
Budou 'oohs' at the sight of the happy picture, but Sanae's aura seems to darken the more she stares at it, and then darkly says "you... seem to have had a lot of fun there."
The angelic maid picks up on the dark tone on the shrine maiden (while Ail is a little terrified), and casually says "yes, like good little brothers and sisters should."
The green-haired girl pouts while looking at the sexy Hakurei Shrine's maid and tightens her grip around her boy's arm while pressing her body harder against his. He likes this a lot.
Ail suddenly sighs irritably and erects an oval blue barrier right next to Sanae, and then Yoshika bursts right out of a hole on the floor and rushes to bite the girl, but is easily bounced back to the sky.
The boy then snaps his fingers and makes what looks like an open blue box in the air in front of himself the very moment a woman in blue appears seemingly out of nowhere and tries to spear-hand Sanae's neck. She only succeeds in getting trapped inside said box, which Ail closes up with one more blue barrier.
That woman has blue eyes and blue hair she makes into Chinese loops, and wears a simple teal dress with a white and blue vest that has Chinese patterns on it.
Said woman chuckles playfully and says "whoops, I wasn't expecting the boyfriend to be back yet; silly me~." She sounds way too relaxed for someone that's been caught, which strikes Ail as odd.
Yoshika Miyako (whom Ail already knows form his dreams with the dream demons) falls unceremoniously on the floor and appears to be broken everywhere, yet she composes herself and stands up in a most unnaturally stiff way.
She has very pale skin, greyish blue eyes and short hair, and wears a blue hat with a star, a charm on her forehead, a red shirt, and a black skirt with pink trims going around it.
Rika sheathes her sword when everything is calm again and says "Mistress Reimu was right, Ail when you're calm your intuition is as good as hers."
The boy blushes after the compliment, but shakes it off and glares at Yoshika, then asks "what is the meaning of this? Why are you attacking my Sanae!?"
The green haired shrine maiden finally takes notice of what is happening, gasps, and then says "Seiga Kaku and Yoshika Miyako! I thought you two would have had learned our lesson after our last encounter."
The woman called Seiga giggles with amusement and says "well you can't blame me for trying to even the score darling. I was thinking of defeating you and taking your home as a base, but one: I wasn't expecting to meet with you boyfriend here; and two: your goddesses had me pinned down the second I entered these grounds."
She uses the large golden pin she had on her hair to draw a circle on Ail's barrier and easily breaks free, lands on her feet, and as she reapplies her pin on her head she says "nice boy. It was about time you let me escape from there; really, I'm not worth the energy."
Yoshika hops next to her master and cheerfully asks "Seiga-sama did I do good? Who are these people? What are we doing here?"
Both Ail and Seiga roll their eyes and sigh, then the woman casually says "you did great my cute Yoshika, now please go back home. I'll be along in a moment."
The jiang-shi moans contently, then begins her surprisingly quick hop back home, though stops to pull one of Rika's feathers from her wing before speeding up her hops. The maid rubs her wing and asks "hey, what was that for?"
Seiga coos and says "she still like soft things. That girl is incorrigible." She then turns her attention to the glaring couple and their adorable little bat youkai, and says "relax, I won't try anything again. Besides, I already had my fun, and I got first row seats to something... quite interesting."
As she says this, her eyes scan the dense boy thoroughly; making him feel very uncomfortable; and then Budou and Sanae get protective of him.
The wicked hermit chuckles, waves her hands and says a quick "ta-ta~," and then she's off to the sky going to the same direction as her hopping zombie.
After the unwelcome guests are gone both Rika and Ail ask "what was that all about?"
Suwako and Kanako reveal themselves at the shrine's porch immediately after Seiga is gone, but it's the blonde who approaches those outside to ask "is the wicked one gone?"
Ail turns his attention to the blonde goddess and asks "Lady Moriya, what's the meaning of all this? Who was that woman?"
The little goddess stops and stares nonchalantly around, waiting for someone else to answer. Sanae is too busy rubbing her face against the shoulder of her cool boyfriend, who has just scared off an undesired pest.
Budou has an idea of who that woman might be, but she's only overheard some things and prefers to keep quiet.
Rika walks closer to the boy and says "that, big-brother, is Seiga Kaku, a wicked hermit Miss Sanae, Miss Reimu, Miss Marisa, and Miss Youmu had the displeasure to meet during the Divine Spirits Incident."
Suwako nods as thanks to the maid and then says "you see Ail, as you may already know, some things happened here while you were asleep. Because of that we have a few Taoists running around Gensokyo. Seiga... well we're not sure if she's really part of their group or not, but she's bad news; that much is obvious."
Budou hugs her papa's waist from his free side and says "she seems nice, and she can be nice, but she's mostly mean."
The angelic maid quickly adds "and it appears you got her attention. Brother, you will need to be extra careful when she's around, and she will be hounding you for a while, so please be very vigilant."
The boy smiles, chuckles softly, and then says "relax girls; I'm sure I'll be alright, thanks to Rika-sis."
"LOOK OUT!" Sanae pushes Ail to the ground and gets hit on the back of the neck with a red bullet.
The boy can't even feel when his head bounces off the ground. He is completely focused on his girlfriend and the bit of blood that splashes out of her wound.
Nobody is sure how exactly he caught her before she fell, but Ail is already on his knees and has Sanae on his arms, and he sets her gently on the floor as he softly calls for her.
She responds with a whimper of pain and an unconscious twitch, and that's when Ail notices his hand is stained with blood; the back of her neck is bleeding.
Behind them there is a swirling black vortex where a boy with a black hood, red eyes, and long hair that covers his right eye says to himself "dang, I missed. Eh, I'll try again tomorrow." He turns around and walks inside his dark vortex.
Whatever kind of peace Ail had attained because of Rika's hard work suddenly vanishes in a raging sea of fire that burns the boy from within. His golden eyes begin to take a reddish hue, and his right hand begins to tremble as the energy around it turns dark red.
"Anilan, don't!" Rika tries to reach for the boy, but he moves so fast the only hope she'll have of catching him will be if she activates her Quicksilver in time.
Suwako chases after him regardless of the futility, and angrily calls "Ail, don't! Don't do it! I'll curse you, I swear!"
Anilan enters the swirling vortex after Damien and disappears, and Rika to deal with Sanae.
The tall goddess picks the shrine maiden up with ease while Rika cleans her hands of the blood; Budou chases after her mama, and now the maid and the little goddess remain outside while they wait to see if Ail returns.
When he doesn't, Suwako rubs her forehead while shaking her head and says "all that hard work! Damn that Damien! What terrible timing!"
Rika sighs, places a comforting hand on the blonde's shoulder, and says "have faith in him. I do not believe he will be foolish enough to waste the sacrifices made towards his recovery in a fight against that fool."
The girls start walking into the shrine to deal with Sanae. Suwako sighs irritably just as they enter the living room and says "for his sake, I hope you are right."
To be continued...
Characters, spell cards and scenarios belong to ZUN -Tame Shanghai Alice-
Credits for the Seihou world and its characters where they are due.
Ail, Budou, Kyo, Luna Rivers, and Azzhara were created by Willie G.R.
Rika, Suzaku and Aura were created by Snapshot 2010
Damien was created by Hydroviper
JUL 24 2013
Yukari: Well, it took you a while, but you finally did it. You finally finished this chapter.
Me: Yeah well, you know, videogames, life, stuff, those things get in the way of inspiration and motivation.
Yukari: *Chuckles* Well, to think that Zombie game for that Tablet-based console reignited all of that. It's quite amusing to watch you sometimes.
Me: I know, right! That muse of mine is one gory b**ch.
Agava: Yeah? What is it?
Yukari and Me: ...
Agava: Ah-hem! Why did you call me!?
Me: I didn't call you, I called my muse a 'gory b**ch'.
Agava: You do remember that was my nickname before, right?
Yukari: Don't blame him. Blame his aging brain~.
Me: God damn it, Yukari! Don't say unnecessary things!
Agava: She already said it old man!
Yukari: And he's a virgin too.
Me: *Ripping my hair* ARGH! What is this, public execution!?
Agava and Yukari: ...*giggle*
Me: *Tears in eyes* QUIT IT!