Chapter 9: The Butterfly That Heralds One's End
Hakurei Shrine (A few minutes ago)
"I just can't believe this!" Reimu stomped her foot, pacing around while waving a note around in her hand. Its contents are as follows:
I'll be keeping Seido with me for a little while longer, as Yuyuko has requested to meet with him face to face. You shall have him back later today…
P.S: You're gonna need new snacks.
"So that's why I've been running low on snacks! That no good, thieving, busybody, only beautiful on the first glance…" The shrine maiden continued her maniacal rant for several minutes before finally calming down.
"Well, at least she's getting that outsider to do her dirty work instead…" Reimu paused, "Yet, I'm getting a bad feeling about this."
It was then she felt it, the weird sensation she felt yesterday afternoon. While she could detect it, it was pretty hard to pinpoint the location.
"What is going on?"
Hakugyokurou: Gardens (Present)
Now how did I get into this mess in the first place?
Oh yeah. Yukari got me to tag along for visit to Hakugyo- Hagyoko- Argh, the netherworld while getting Chen to "convince" me. I nearly got skewered by Youmu, the gardener. The mistress of this place, Yuyuko literally swallowed my whole head. And I accepted a challenge for Spell Card battle, which unexpectedly, the Princess of the Netherworld herself will be fighting.
Speaking of which, remember how I asked myself like 7 chapters ago what it would be like to see danmaku fly around in first person view? I just found out the answer to that, as well as why there are no 3D danmaku games.
Because it emphasizes the jigoku (hell) part of danmaku! Imagine seeing tons of bullets filling up the screen to the point you can't see the background. Well, that's the exact situation I'm in! I didn't think bullets based on living creatures can be so… lively. Am I using the right word for this? I mean these danmaku butterflies actually look like the real thing. Save for the fact they must hurt like hell if I get hit.
Dodging the bullets the best I can, I countered by shooting a bunch of lasers at her… Only to see them bounce of some sort of shield she conjured. I can barely touch her, let alone hurt her!
"What's the matter, dear? Your danmaku are like biscuits and you seem to shaking like jelly~. "
SHE IS TOTALLY PLAYING AROUND WITH ME! And what's with the food metaphor?
Somehow Yuyuko decided that she isn't torturing me enough, because she took out a Spell Card, "Losing Hometown: Lost Soul's Village –Wandering Soul-"
Jesus Christ! I have never appreciated the fact I can fly more than now. There is no way I can avoid this storm of danmaku on foot! Wait a minute…
I noticed that the danmaku only covered a certain area, then all I have to do is move into that area and-
Yikes! Where did the claws of death come from?! Wait… it's from Yuyuko's fan! So she can channel her energy through items too? Man, that's cool- NO! This is not the time to be admiring her!
Yuyuko smiled, "So do you wish face a maelstrom of danmaku or you would rather have the fan of death instead? Please make up your mind."
That is not what I call a choice! Damn it, how am I suppose to beat someone who governs over death and who clearly outmatches me in every aspect?
"You seem to be doing fine~. Let's turn it up a little bit, shall we~? Lost Soul's Village –Fatal Sin-"
"What do you mean-"My question was left unfinished as its answer threatened to literally blast me to oblivion. Not only did the amount of danmaku increased when she changed the last part of the card's name, the range of that fan has increased too!
… So she what? Raise the difficulty or something? Ridiculous as that sounds, I can't help feel that it fits with what's happening here.
Come on already! I feel like I'm fighting some goofy, gluttonous Godzilla… and I'm Tokyo! And if you're wondering why I haven't used any of my Spell Cards, it's because I only have three! While I'm tempted to use them, I'm screwed if I lose them all!
"Papa! Do you best!" I heard Chen cheering me on, however I was too preoccupied with self preservation to reply. However, one butterly managed to blow up one of my wings off and caused me to fall onto a tree. After jumping off and spitting out the leaves I collected in my mouth, I noticed that my destroyed wing was slowly regenerating.
"Weird… but cool!"
With aerial maneuvers becoming severely limited, the only thing I can do is hover just above the ground. With the large amount of trees, I should at least be able to-
"It won't work that way~" Yuyuko waved her fan and all the butterflies flew straight at me… while avoiding every single tree!
"OH, COME ON!" I immediately put some distance between me and the butterflies. Fortunately, I'm slightly faster due to the current build of my wings. Now that I think about it, is my wings made of danmaku too?
"You can't run forever, you know. Try and fight back!" I heard Yukari say. No shit, Sherlock. I know that. But even if I did, there's no guarantee it would work.
I mean what can I do? I've only got three Spell Cards: one for defense, one for crowd control and one for single target obliteration… I'm not sure about that last one. I can't use them rashly, I can't hurt Yuyuko with my ordinary danmaku and her arsenal of Spell Card is by far larger. Kind of like a low level character going against a boss. I can't win unless I come up with more Spell Cards and I can't lose because I don't want to.
… What? I really don't want to know what Yuyuko has in store for me.
But between running for my life and dodging butterflies of death, I pretty much occupied- Oh CRAP!
As Seido barely dodged what would have been a fatal blow, Yuyuko's attack left a crater in the ground and uprooted several trees. Yuyuko shook her head and sighed before resuming her assault. Yukari quietly observed as Seido continued to evade. While she understood why he chose that course of action, the yokai of boundaries could help but feel disappointed. Then again, having the Princess of the Netherworld as his first real opponent isn't the best decision.
It was then Youmu brought snacks and tea for the guests. Chen jumped with joy while Ran bowed in thanks as they helped themselves. Yukari nodded her head as she helped herself to a biscuit while she continued to watch.
Seido had then hid behind a tree in order to catch his breath. A moment later, he realized that the bullets had stopped. Peeking from behind the tree, he found Yuyuko nowhere in sight. Scratching his head, he looked around for the bourei… Not realizing that she was floating upside down, just above his head.
Yukari sighed, "Just like Yuyuko to play with her prey."
"Where the heck did she go? Did she turn invisible?" I frantically looked around, trying to find the bourei before she gets the drop on me. But considering the fact that she is a spirit and in the horror movies I watched where the ghosts tend to pop up where you least expect it, she probably already has. Then that means…
I looked up to see Yuyuko giving me a wink. I should run for my life now.
"You can't run forever!" I heard Yuyuko said from behind me.
I replied as I flew straight into the air, "I know! But that won't stop me from trying!" Since she deactivated her first Spell Card and hasn't activated another, now might be a good time to counterattack. "Assault Sign: Reverse Vortex Barrage!" My Spell Card broke as I called it and countless danmaku starting pouring out… Yuyuko looked surprised as she didn't expect me to use my Spell Cards.
Pause. Now before we get to the battle, let me explain my plan. My Assault Card will act as a decoy while I try to get close to the bourei enough to use the Sonic Spark, up close and personal. If she manages to break the Assault card, I'll have to use Unyielding Aegis to force my through. Well, it's not much of a plan as it is a gamble. Sooner or later, she's going to take me down no matter how much I intend to run or how long I drag this out. All that does is delay the inevitable: Either one of us will win and the other will lose. I stayed in Gensokyo to get stronger and I have to accept all the outcomes that come with it. Both good and bad.
"Well, here goes everything!"
Expanding my wings, I charged through my own danmaku and headed straight for Yuyuko…
As everyone watched Seido go on the offensive for the first time since the battle started, it was clear to the more experienced danmaku users that the boy was doing a suicidal attack. Youmu was confused by this course of action.
"I don't understand? Why didn't he use his Spell Cards earlier instead of evading her attacks and looking for an opening? Since his normal danmaku can't hurt Yuyuko-sama, it would have been the best decision."
"He can't." Yukari replied, "He only has three Spell Cards at his disposal and if he uses them rashly, it would only hasten his defeat."
The gardener was shocked, "J-Just three!? How could he think about taking Yuyuko-sama with only three!?"
Ran spoke up, "To be fair, getting his head swallowed earlier may be the cause of his irrational behaviour. Then again, that was the first time I've seen her actually try to eat someone."
The gardener lowered her flushed face as she recalled what happened earlier as well as when her mistress ate a sparrow youkai named Mystia Lorelei during the flowering incident some time ago. However, Seido is a human and Youmu wondered what would make Yuyuko do such a thing as it was something stupid… even for her.
Meanwhile Yuyuko fired her danmaku at Seido, who continued to dodge them as best he could. Unfortunately for him, his Spell Card broke sooner than he anticipated and forced him to resort to Unyielding Aegis immediately. While it threw off the "plan" a little, he was quite close to Yuyuko by then.
"So far so good… Just a little more."
Yuyuko on the otherhand has already seen through his plan and did not want to make things easy for him. Everytime he managed to get close enough, the bourei purposely put more distance between herself and Seido, forcing the latter to follow her.
"Damn it, how am I suppose to get her now? If only I had a bomb or something…" And as he said that, an idea formed in his head.
Yuyuko was surprised when Seido disabled Unyielding Aegis, "What's this? Have you decided to give up already?" The young boy merely smiled as he closed his eyes and visualized what he wanted. A few moments later, a new Spell Card emerged in front of him, surprising everyone else present. Picking up, Seido grinned as he shouted its name.
"Assault Sign: Cluster Bomb!"
The card then took shape as an oddly shaped energy ball with lots of bumps on it. Seido picked it up and threw it at Yuyuko, who merely moved to the side to dodge it. "Ara~ Is that all?"
However, a sudden explosion from behind made her turn around… just in time to avoid the ball from earlier from making contact with her face, followed by a cluster of danmaku. Another explosion is heard as the ball flies in another direction, unleashing more danmaku in its wake.
"Wow, that's very pretty." Chen purred as she watches in awe.
Ran on the other hand is puzzled, "How is this possible?"
Yukari nodded her head, "I see. The ball is actually a large cluster of danmaku gathered together. It explodes periodically, releases danmaku and sends the ball in a random direction. The cycle continues until the ball is completely out of energy or the Spell Card breaks."
Youmu was concerned with another matter, "Wait, where is Seido?"
At the mention of this, Yuyuko realized that the young boy was no longer in his previous position and had disappeared.
"Surprise." A voice from behind greeted her.
It became clear that while everyone was distracted by the Cluster Bomb Spell Card, Seido had the opportunity to sneak up on the bourei. Without Marisa's mini-Hakkero, he needed time to gather sufficient energy in order to use Sonic Spark, time granted to him with his new Spell Card.
And now he was right behind Yuyuko, aiming his final Spell Card right at her.
"Justice Sign: Sonic Spark!"
As a familiar ray of light enveloped Yuyuko, Youmu shouted, "Yuyuko-sama!" and then muttered, "Spark? Is he under the black white magician's tutelage?"
Yukari chuckled, "Not quite, but he is learning a few things from her. In fact, I have a feeling he'll be learning a lot of things from everyone for that matter."
Even though the half-ghost was curious, her attention was soon diverted as Yuyuko emerged from the beam, mostly unharmed save for some tattered clothes.
"Nice move, dear. But, it's not good enough to defeat me."
Despite this, Seido merely placed both hands in his pockets and glanced at the bourei. "Well, I'm out of ideas. So it's my loss."
Yuyuko waved her fan, conjuring a large amount of danmaku butterflies behind her. Seido looked up at the army and sighed, "Just get on with it."
A few minutes later… (Seido's POV)
After being swarmed by Yuyuko's butterflies, I woke up inside a crater a little later. As Yuyuko and I agreed before the battle, since I lost I have to do whatever she says.
"Here Seido, say Aaaa…" Yuyuko placed a cookie in front of my mouth
"Aaa…" I obediently opened my mouth and ate it.
Sitting on her lap and being hand-fed wasn't what I was expecting exactly… I haven't been babied like this since my grandparents' house several years ago.
Yukari covered her mouth with her fan but I can tell that she was smirking, "So… how does it feel to be pampered again after so long?"
"Shut up." I said while chewing. Chen was sitting on Ran's lap, who was looking away and trying not to laugh while Youmu served me tea with a straight face. Her ghost-half on the other hand, seems to be enjoying the sight.
It was then I remembered, "Before we head back, I'd like to stop by my room to pick up some essentials."
"Oh? You can pick them up now." Yukari waved her hand and opened a gap, straight into my room. I tried to stand up, but Yuyuko maintained a firm grip on me. "Um… Yuyuko? Can you let me go get my stuff?"
"Call me Big Sis."
Groan. "Big sis Yuyuko, can you please let me go so that I can get my stuff? Pretty please?"
Yuyuko cupped her face with both of her hands and blushed, "Okay, Seido-chan."
I glanced at Youmu, "You're Yuyuko's caretaker, right?"
Youmu chuckled lightly and nodded, "Appreciated, Seido."
Yuyuko pouted, "Hey! That's mean!"
Shrugging, I walked through the gap and grabbed my backpack. Then, I start to mentally checking off my personal list of stuff I need while I'm staying in Gensokyo.
Let's see… clothes, check. Flashlight, check. Cell- Oh right, lost that. I wonder if a Swiss Army Knife would be handy? I'm not exactly going camping…
"There is one thing I have to bring with me, no matter what…" Reaching under my bed, I pulled out an old box and opened it, revealing an old pocket watch. His pocket watch.
…How long has it been? 10 years? And I lived with what happened everyday.
I'm going to keep my promise, no matter how long it takes. No matter what it costs.
Taking one last look at my room before going through the gap, I bid the life I lived goodbye for now.
I wonder how Yukari's gonna explain this to my parents?