Welp, I meant to get this out sooner than this. Sadly, I had real life to attend to, and it took a lot of my time. I'm sure many of you can understand that.

Now, onto business. I am pleased you guys took to the faux lich idea so well. I'm glad that some of you were already on the right idea about what he is, and the idea behind it. In fact, some of your thoughts about it surprised me, and that is just great! I love hearing your ideas, it helps me come up with my own. Keep those coming!

Now, I got one last surprise in this chapter for you. I warn you, this chapter will be just about as serious as the last one was, and since this is usually a humorous and fun loving story, I apologize. On the bright side, things will be a lot more fun from here on out! Now get to reading!

Touhou belongs to ZUN. -insert witty comment here-

Chapter 24 – A New Day, A New Dream

The next day is surprisingly uneventful for me, despite everything that has happened last night. I didn't go to work this morning, since Mystia let me have some time off during and after the festival to relax. I argued with her about it at first, saying I wouldn't need the extra day. Now, I can't help but feel incredibly thankful for it.

I doubt I would have been able to properly focus at work at the moment anyways. My head is still screwed up, even after talking it out last night...

I sit on my couch tiredly, with my thoughts flying all over the place. Normally I would take the time to practice my music, but at the moment Arashi is just sitting across from me on one of my chairs. Now that I know that my tool for music holds my soul, it actually feels weird to hold it for some reason.

There is no way I can play like this. I mean seriously, it holds my soul for crying out loud! It's like I would use my soul for entertainment, and that feels so...misused somehow.

Before I contemplate it any further, I hear a knock on my front door. Knowing who it is, I immediately rush over to the door, opening it for the familiar form that is Alice. She is back in her normal clothes, changed out of the outfit she wore last night. As soon as the door is clear, her favorite doll flies over to me to land on my shoulder, getting comfortable as usual. "Hey. Thanks for coming."

"It's no trouble Tadashi." She replies happily, before looking me up and down in astonishment. "...You look horrible."

I can hardly blame her for saying so, considering I haven't really fixed myself up today. I lack the black jacket that is normally worn over my green shirt, and my hair isn't tied up in the back like usual, hanging loosely over my shoulders and back. I also probably have bags under my eyes from the lack of sleep I got, though I honestly can't tell. "I know. Today isn't exactly my best day." I poorly attempt to joke, moving aside to let her in.

"How are you holding up?" She asks with worry laced in her voice, taking a seat on my coach as I go make some tea for us.

"You mean the not being human thing?" I inquire, not turning to show her my pensive face. "...It's still kinda getting to me. But at least I'm not freaking out about it anymore."

After I fixed the tea for my guest and myself, I take a seat next to Alice on the coach, who looks over at me with a curious look. "So... What is it you want to talk about then?"

I sigh at the question, taking a sip from my tea to calm my nerves. "Alice, I asked you to come over because I want to tell you something very personal. I have never told anyone about this before, but after yesterday, I feel like it is something that needs to be heard."

"What is it?" She asks, the curious look she has shifting to a troubled one.

"Well... You remember what that shinigami said on my first day here?" She nods, her face showing that she is figuring out what I am about to say.

"Tadashi, are you..."

"I want to tell you about what happened to me Alice." I confirm. "About how I think I became what I am now. My past..."

Alice gives me a worried look, finally getting where I am going with this. "Wait a moment... You don't have to tell me something as personal as that."

"Yes, I do." I emphasize to her, looking directly into her eyes with all the severity I can muster in my fatigue. "You have always known more about me than anyone since I came here, and have also been my closest friend. I want to tell you everything about me, before I came to Gensokyo." I drop my gaze at that, losing a bit of my earlier confidence. "...I need to talk about this with someone, at least to just get my head straight. Please Alice?"

"Are you sure?" She questions intently, to which I respond with a slow nod. "...Alright then. Go ahead."

"Thank you." I gratefully smile at her, before taking on a thoughtful visage. "Where do I start... I suppose at the beginning is as good as any." I take another sip of my tea, preparing myself for a long talk. "It was over four years ago. Back then, I was living with my family."

"Your family? I never heard you mention them before." Alice remarks.

"They're...not a topic I like talking about." I inform glumly, before rebounding with a pensive smile. "Don't get me wrong! They were great people, and I loved them more than anything. My father ran a wealthy business, so my mother, sister, and I were pretty well off."

"You had a sister?" The puppeteer asks oddly excitedly. "What was she like?"

"Honestly? She was a little brat." I chuckle humorously. "But she was kin, and she still had her good points. If I remember right, she was still in middle school. I myself was in my second year in collage, and I was trying to get a degree in music. Of course I still had Arashi back then..."

"Um, Tadashi..." Alice halts my explanation, looking confused. "I have very little idea of what you are talking about."

"Oh yeah, sorry. I kinda trailed off there." I concede sheepishly. "Well in short, things were going great for me. I had my life set for me and everything." I pause in my retelling of my life, trying to conjure up the will to put the next part into words. "One night, I was playing a new song I made to my family. I was on break from school, so I was using the time to stay at home and relax." I gulp as I think of what happens next, but keep talking. "Before I was able to finish my song, a stranger busted into our house through the front door. He had clearly lost his mind, and was waving a gun at us like a maniac."

"...A gun?"

"Yeah... From what I gathered from his babbling, he was an employee my father laid off not too long ago. He was giving demands to my father, and was threatening me and my family if he didn't do what he said." I can feel myself tearing up a little as I talk on, but I force myself to keep going. "I tried to reason with him, to convince him that what he was doing wasn't going to help anyone. At the very least, I wanted to keep his attention away from my family, and solely on me. Luckily, it seemed like I was getting through to him, and he was starting to calm down. But then my father started to move, maybe to get a weapon or something. It all just went to hell after that..."

"...What happened?" Alice asks in a subdued tone.

"The madman panicked at the change in the situation, and the very first thing he did was...to shoot me." I hear a sharp intake in breath from my best friend at the revelation, and I can't help but ghost my trembling fingers over where the wound was on me "I remember the screams my mother and sister made when it happened, and falling to the floor right after. Soon after that, I ended up falling into shock, and as my consciousness left me he...he..."

"Tadashi, that's enough. You don't have to say any more." I feel the blonde gripping my arm to help comfort me, but it is too late to keep the dam in my eyes from breaking.

"...He killed them Alice." I choke out. "Right in front of me. I felt so worthless, not being able to stop him. I remember wishing I could convince him to stop. But it didn't matter at that point... I was dying." I stop myself then to try and regain my composure, taking several staggering breaths to calm myself. As I struggle, I can feel Alice scooting next to me, rubbing my back and doing what she can to help me as I break down in front of her.

Meanwhile, on the south road, a particular night sparrow youkai sits idly at her grill stand, hoping for customers to come by. Normally she would have her hired help attract customers with his music, but she ended up giving him the day off today. The human deserves it, after working so hard for her, and she wouldn't take no for an answer from him. Though that does leave her trying to do things by herself.

Mystia sighs from boredom for what felt like the fifth time, looking up the road that leads to the village. "Maybe I was too quick to let him get the day off. Yesterday was fine, no one would come by during a festival, but today..."

She begins to lazily poke her grill with her long nails, trying to ease the boredom. Just as she is about to sigh again, she hears the approaching footsteps of a potential customer. Quickly she straightens up as she prepares to put fresh lamprey on the grill, until she notices the lone figure approaching and groans in disappointment. "Oh, it's just you. And here I thought I would get a customer."

"Oh come on Misty, you can't get customers that way." The person stands in front of the grill, her long white hair whipping behind her. "Though then again, that is what I'm hoping for."

"What do you want Mokou?" The bird distastefully questions, leaning on her arm in boredom.

"Just wanted to see how the competition is doing." The pyro chuckles. "I'm surprised you have your stand running right now though, no one is going to come after the festival. That, and you don't have that idiot suckering customers in for you."

"Can it! I don't want to hear it!" Mystia screeches. "May I remind you that you sent Dash to Eientei before, and you have a few people mad at you for it, including me."

"Oh, I'm so scared..." Mokou rolls her eyes. "Besides, I told everyone that he started it by insulting me. It ain't my fault the dumbass can't keep his mouth shut." She looks around at that, a look of curiosity taking over. "By the way, where is he? He normally is here with you right now."

"Hmph. If you must know, I gave him the day off. Dash had a big day yesterday, and I wanted him to rest up for a bit."

The pants wearing girl smacks her head at that, showing her aggravation. "Oh yeah, I remember that now. Keine drug me to go watch him and those ghosts play on the stage."

"Oh great, even you got to see it!?" The youkai tosses her arms up in frustration. "I wanted to go see him play so bad, but it was in the village, and they wouldn't let me in."

"Sucks to be you." The rival grill stand owner snickers.

Mystia glares at her at that, but sighs afterwords. "Can't be helped I guess. So, can you tell me about how he did?"

"Why should I?" The white haired woman scoffs.

"You don't have to. I'm just curious is all." Mystia shrugs. "I can here it from Dash tomorrow anyways, so it's no big deal."

"...Fine, whatever." Mokou relents, realizing keeping the information from her won't do anything. "Well I have to admit, the dumbass did pretty good. I honestly couldn't tell who was better between him and those sisters, and that's saying something. Looked like he was having fun too, especially when him and the ghosts started playing together."

The bird youkai stares at the immortal in shock, unsure if what she heard is right. "Am I hearing things, or did Mokou actually give someone her respect?"

The white haired woman growls at that, glaring at the youkai behind the grill. "Watch it Misty, my patience only goes so far."

"Yeah, yeah..." Mystia waves off. "So who won? I hope Dash managed to do it."

"Dunno. Think it was a tie." Mokou shrugs, piking her ear with her pinky finger. " Last I saw, everyone looked excited about the outcome, so something must have went right for him. Even Keine went to congratulate him, though she didn't come back to me after that, so I left."

"That's good." The night sparrow smiles a bit at that. "I'm glad he had a good time, and got to prove himself to everyone. He deserves it."

The pyro stares at the bird with a particular look, before smugly grinning. "I know one thing, you're certainly a long way off compared to them."

"Huh?" Mystia looks at her competition in confusion. "What do you mean by that?"

"You perform too, right? I'm sure, compared to those sisters and the dumbass, you don't really measure up."

"I've got my singing!" The youkai protests. "I doubt they have something like that going for them."

"Yeah, sure. Like they need to sing." Mokou snickers. "Point is, they're better than you. Heck, without the idiot helping you, you probably couldn't draw a crowd like he can. You might as well leave all the music to him, and just focus on your little grill stand."

"Hey, I take offense to that!"

"Like I care." Mokou huffs, before walking away. "I would like to see you prove me wrong Misty."

Mystia shakes in anger as the immortal leaves the area, leaving the bird youkai all by herself again. Sighing in frustration, she sits down behind her stand to wait for any possible customers, stewing all the while. As she starts to pick at her grill with her long finger nails again, she pauses to look at them for a second. After thinking for a moment, she gets up to start rummaging through her cart, finally pulling out the red instrument her human friend helped her find about a week ago. She holds it in her arms for a moment, careful not to scratch it with her sharp nails, before smirking to herself. "Oh, I'll prove you wrong."

Several moments later, I can feel myself breathing with little hitches in my throat, and the water coming from my eyes have stopped. Once that happens, I feel the magician besides me sigh in relief. "You going to be okay now?"

"Yeah..." I breath out. "Sorry about that. It's just... It's hard for me to remember it. I'll be fine now. Really."

"As long as you're sure..." She accepts sadly. "Just don't push yourself, alright?"

"Don't worry, I'm almost done with my story." Sitting up straighter, I prepare to finish my tale for the doll maker. "Anyway, I was so sure I died at that moment, but somehow I woke up in the hospital. I learned from the doctor that I had actually died on the way there, and by some miracle I managed to come back. He also told me that after I revived, my bullet wound healed at a fast rate. I never gave it much thought then, but now..."

"...That must have been when you became a faux lich." Alice ponders aloud.

"My thoughts exactly. That very night must have been when it happened." I take a look at my guitar, which still remains resting in the seat in front of me. "When everything happened. When I could do Aura Songs, my ability to persuade others, becoming what I am..." I shake my head to ward off the dismal line of thinking, getting back on track. "Anyway, once I left the hospital I couldn't stand living in my old home. In fact, I lost all motivation to continue on in my old life, now that the ones I loved are gone. So as soon as I could I sold everything, quit school, packed some spare clothes and Arashi, and just left on quickest bus out of town."

"So that's how you became a wanderer." The magician concludes in realization. "It wasn't about the adventure and seeing new places, but getting away. You needed to escape."

"I suppose that's a way to look at it." I admit thoughtfully. "For the next four years I traveled around, living off the money I made by selling everything, and once I ran out of that I started playing gigs for money to get by." I sigh as my story finally comes to an end, falling back into my coach. "The rest is history. Yukari ended up finding me at some point, and brought me here to perform at that party over at Reimu's. So here I am."

"I'm glad you are." The girl next to me firmly states, turning my attention to her. "And thank you for sharing your past with me. I know it's been hard for you to talk about it."

"I had to do it though." I try to explain. "I just needed someone to know. After Yuyuko-san told me that...well, I'm not human anymore, the memory just started to flash back to me, and it was becoming unbearable. I had to let it out..."

Alice stares at me silently at my confession, concern filling her eyes again. "Tadashi, could it be that you are still bothered about being a youkai?"

"I..." I prepare to say, but I find myself wondering the same thing. "I don't know. I mean... I know that I'm a faux lich now, and I accepted that fact, but I have always lived as a human. Now I'm suddenly told I'm not? It's almost like I'm not me anymore."

"You still are you." She firmly squeezes my shoulder as she speaks. "So what if you are a youkai? It's not like it changes anything. You're still a very talented musician, you still work at Mystia's, and you're still my most cherished person."

"I know that." I retort in frustration. "I really do. But now that I know what my guitar holds...it just feels so weird."

"Well, that just means your guitar is a part of you." Alice attempts to justify. "And to be honest, you always treated it as a part of you anyways. Just keep treating it like you always have, and everything will be fine."

"Yeah, but..." I lamely try to come up with some excuse, but nothing is coming to mind.

Seriously, am I purposely trying to make this a bigger deal than it is? This is so frustrating! I want to get over this!

The magician notices I am still struggling with my dilemma, and just sighs wearily. "...You know, you aren't the only one who had to go through this."

"Huh? What do you mean?"

"I don't think I ever told you this, but...I used to be human too." I look at her in shock at the revelation, unsure what to make of it.

Wait wait wait! Alice was a human too!? Really!?

"Don't look so shocked, most magician youkai were once human." Alice informs, before continuing on with a far off look. "I was much younger back then, and I lived in a place called Makai, a different world compared to Gensokyo. It was a place where many demons lived, and the very air was toxic to humans, but could also help one control magic easier. I myself was taken in by the goddess of the world at a very young age, and she started me on my way as a magician. I viewed her as my own mother..."

"A goddess huh?" I muse to myself in awe. "Does that make you like a princess or something?"

"Of course not!" She exclaims, looking slightly embarrassed. "I may have been under her wing, so to speak..." She mumbles the latter part to herself humorously, making me raise a brow. "But I wasn't going to succeed her or anything like that. She's a goddess after all."

"Sorry, sorry..." I apologize. "So then...what changed?"

The blonde girl's visage gradually begins to grow sadder at my question, but she caries on with her own tale nonetheless. "One day, Reimu, Marisa and two others came to Makai to solve an incident. You've heard of them, right?" I nod at her question, allowing her to continue. "Well...back then, Reimu hadn't made the spell card rules yet, so all combat was very real. When they confronted the goddess, my surrogate mother...she went berserk."

Uh oh, this is starting to sound too familiar to me... I better-

Before I can tell Alice to stop, I can already see her loosing her composure a bit as she talks, albeit holding it together much better than I did earlier. "She destroyed everything, shooting her magic everywhere in a attempt to hit Reimu and the others. I remember seeing many of the residents get hit by the blasts, some who I was good friends with, and I would have been one of them if...if..."

"Hey...Alice... You know, you can stop now." I attempt to dissuade her from talking, grasping her own shoulder like she did for me earlier. "I think I get the idea, so..."

I hope she stops. I really hate it when a cute girl cries... Makes it feel like it is my fault.

"No Tadashi." I hear her firmly decline my offer, shaking her head as she does. "You told me your story, now I'm going to tell you mine."

"Yeah but..."

"No buts!" She glares at me defiantly with teary eyes, and I can't help but to nod dumbly at her look.

Geez! When will I learn not to argue with the girl? She can get a little scary when she gets pissed off...

"Now then..." I hear her compose herself, rubbing the tears away as if they never existed. "I was saved by a dear friend of mine, though she took the attack in my stead. She told me to run away to here, to make a new life for myself, and as she did she gave me this."

At that, Alice holds up her bound book, something I seem to overlook every now and then whenever I see her. "That's your...grimoire, right? I remember asking about it once, during one of our chats a while back."

"Yes, I remember that. Though I don't think I ever told you exactly what it is." She holds the book close to her at that, a wistful look in her eyes. "It's the source of my strongest magic, and is quite honestly my most prized possession, much like you and your guitar."

"What? Then what about Shanghai?" I ask dramatically, pulling the little doll onto my lap, to which the doll smiles up at me curiously. "How could you say that your book is more precious than this little thing?"

"Oh trust me, I wouldn't dream of comparing Shanghai to anything." Alice chuckles, before returning to her previous expression. "But seriously, my grimoire is very special. The magic it contains is very potent, and was supposed to be a gift from my surrogate mother when I had better control of my magic. Instead, it became my going away present, in hopes I have a better life here."

"Is it really that powerful?" I ask in wonder, staring at the seemingly harmless book.

"It's the very reason I became a youkai magician. Not only that, the magic in here can be pretty dangerous, if misused."

I look at her flabbergasted at that, before babbling a response. "Then why are you telling me!? Isn't something like this suppose to be a secret? In fact, shouldn't something so important be locked in a vault or something?"

"That's the beauty of always having it with me." She chuckles lightly. "I carry this with me everywhere I go. Everyone thinks this is an ordinary grimoire, with some decent spells and such inside it. No one other than who I've used this on would know it's secret."

"So...why tell me?"

Alice stares at me blankly for a while, before giving me one of her unique smiles. "Well, I know your most protected secret, so it's only fair that you know mine. Now we're even."

"But...but I..."

"Listen." She halts my stumbling words with a finger to my lips. "We're best friends, right? So knowing each other better than anyone comes with the territory. Don't you think?"

I stare at her dumbly for who knows how long, trying to find any fault in her logic. When I can't, I just shake my head bemusedly at her antics. "You're really something Alice, you know that?"

"Thank you. I'll take that as a compliment." She jokes, and I can't help but to grin at that.

"So... Do you ever regret it?" I ask, getting comfortable in my seat again.

"Becoming a youkai? Not a bit." She replies immediately, earning a raised brow from me. "It's the very reason I am who I am today. In fact, if I didn't become one, I probably would never have made Shanghai, or even have my dream to make a living doll. Things happen for a reason, I guess..."

"I see..." I say in understanding, staring down at the little doll I have on my lap.

Is that the same for me? Would I have been who I am now if I never became a faux lich? ...Probably not. In fact, Yukari may have never brought me here to Gensokyo since I probably wouldn't have my abilities. In fact, I would have never met Alice or the rest.

"That reminds me..." Alice speaks up thoughtfully. "Have you found your dream yet?"

"Huh?" I respond in the most intelligent way I can think of.

"Remember? It was your second day in Gensokyo, and we were walking back to Reimu's shrine. I told you about my dream that day, and asked you what yours was..."

"...And I said I didn't have one." I finish, the memory coming back to me.

"Exactly. So, do you have one now?" She asks expectantly.

A dream huh... I honestly never gave it any thought since then, what with playing Aura Songs all the time at Mystia's, and then that concert yesterday. Those were probably the best songs I have ever played. I doubt I could ever find one better than those... Wait a second!

A grin graces my face when I come to a conclusion, and like the good friend Alice is she sees it right away. "I think you have something."

"I do." I affirm. "Though it might not be as concrete as yours."

"Well, what is it?"

I stand up from my seat at her pushing, unwittingly sliding Shanghai off my lap, to walk over to Arashi and picking it up. "Last night, I heard some pretty amazing Aura Songs being played from my guitar. And I know there are plenty more out there, just waiting to be played." I turn to the puppeteer at that, guitar firmly in my arms so naturally it's like nothing was keeping me from doing so earlier. "From what I know, there are many more amazing people in Gensokyo, and with them, amazing songs. I want to find them, and to play the most amazing Aura Songs this land has to offer. That's my dream."

Alice smiles at me in response to my determination, standing up as well. "That sounds like an amazing dream, something very fitting for an equally amazing musician."

"I am amazing, aren't I?" I boast, earning a routine smack in the back of my head from Shanghai. After laughing it off, I look at my guest with sincerity in my features. "But honestly, thanks. Thanks for listening to me, for telling me your past, and better yet..." I chuckle a bit in my listings, before saying my last reason. "...For getting me back to my senses. What would I do without you?"

"Probably still sitting here freaking out." She jokes, getting us both to laugh. "And you're welcome Tadashi. To be honest, I feel like we have more in common with each other than ever."

"You really think so?" I speculate, before feeling the little doll she controls plopping onto my shoulder, a seat that just seems reserved for it. After looking between the doll and doll maker, I can't help but to chuckle. "Yeah, I think we do too."

"So, you going to be alright?" She asks me carefully.

"Yep, just fine." I shoot her a big grin, showing that I mean it.

"Good." The puppeteer then stands up from my couch, making me look at her curiously. "Now that we talked everything over, how about we go out for lunch? Have you eaten yet?"

"Um...no, I haven't. But I can just fix us something here instead." I offer, indicating toward my kitchen.

"I'm not about to make you fix us something after that. Besides, we haven't been to our favorite tea shop in a while. Sound like a plan?"

I am about to argue the point further, insisting that I can cook us something. Before I do, I feel the doll on my shoulder tugging at my loose hair, and when I look down at Shanghai I see it pointing at my door excitedly. I can't help but chuckle at the cute act, and I give in. "Fine, but at least let me make myself look decent. I'm a mess here."

The doll maker laughs at that, before making her way out my door, with Shanghai by her side. "You do that. I'll be just outside once you're ready."

Now alone, I put my guitar back onto the chair as I proceed to prepare myself for the rest of the day, and not look like someone who just got our of bed. While I finish things up, tying my hair back into it's usual ponytail and putting on my jacket, I can't help but smile at the complete turn around my day seems to have taken. That smile doesn't leave me as I grab Arashi again, and head out the door to meet up with the blonde girl who helped brighten my day.

The very next day after I've had my talk with Alice, I find myself making my way over to work in the early hours of the morning. As usual, few people are up at this time, but it doesn't bother me any as I leave the village and head down the south road, humming a bit as I do.

As I walk down the path, I can't help but think back to yesterday, and the great time I had with my best friend after our talk. True, it wasn't any different than any other time we went to our favorite meeting place, but after the little heart to heart we had, it just feels like the two of us have grown closer than we already were.

I can't honestly remember the last time I let someone get so close to me as Alice is now. I think I am finally putting the past behind me.

Snapping myself from my wandering thoughts, I fix my gaze on the swiftly approaching grill cart on the side of the road, my destination. As I walk up to it, I can spot my boss already behind the grill, prepping everything for the morning ahead with a passion not seen in her too often.

"Hey, something got you in a good mood Mystia?" I ask, tearing her attention away from the grill to look at me.

When the bird youkai spots me, she lets a wide smile split across her face, putting down whatever she was working with earlier. "Oh hey Dash, you're just in time! Now we will have plenty of time to practice before the first customers arrive."

"...What are you talking about?" I ask dumbly, not following what the girl is talking about.

Did I miss something? What is there that needs practicing? ...Ugh, I can't think of anything. It's too early for me.

To answer my confusion, Mystia excitedly shuffles through her things in the cart, before pulling out the red electric guitar we got her at Kourindou. She then rushes around the grill to meet with me, holding the instrument in her arms like I showed her before. "Isn't it obvious? I want to start practicing! We have enough time in the mornings, so why not?"

I stare at the night sparrow for a while, letting my recently woken mind pick up what she is saying. When I do, I just shake my head sadly at her, remembering a particular fact. "Did you already forget? You can't play the guitar Mystia, your nails are too long. Remember?"

"Well, duh! What do you take me for, an idiot?" She huffs, before lifting up her free hand up to eye level, wiggling her fingers in a way to draw attention to them. "I cut my nails, alright? So that won't be a problem." Just as she says, the normally long nails the bird youkai possesses are shortened down to a reasonable level, almost looking more like a humans.

To say I am shocked would be an understatement, and I immediately let it be known. "Whoa! When did this happen? I was only gone two days."

"Just yesterday." She informs, dropping her hand back down. "You wouldn't believe how hard it was to do. They were pretty strong, so I had to break them off first before filing them down."

"But...when did you decide to do this? I thought you were against getting them shortened?"

If I remember right, she said she always had them like that. To make such a rash decision...

"I was..." Mystia confirms, before smiling up at me with no remorse. "But then I heard about how well you did at the festival, and it got me thinking... I want to know the feeling you get when you perform for people like you do. My singing alone won't do it for me, so if I want to know that feeling, I have to make a change."

"I see..." I utter in deep thought, before letting a huge grin break out on my face. "Well, I guess we can get right to practicing then, don't you think? I can't think of a reason why you can't anymore."

"That's what I was hoping to hear." The hopeful guitarist chirps, quickly taking a seat on a nearby tree stump. "Now hurry up! I want to get started now!"

Chuckling at her antics, I take a seat on the ground in front of her, my own guitar siting on my lap to get ready to play. Before I start my instruction, a thought crosses my mind and I send my boss an curious, yet teasing glance. "Um, should I be teaching you now? What if a customer comes by?"

"This early in the morning? You know that won't happen." She shoots back irritably, making me laugh a bit at her impatience. "Now quit stalling! I want to get this down as fast as I can. I already lost a week making my decision, and I don't want to wait anymore."

At her relentless prompting, I begin giving my boss-turned-student her first lessons, teaching her the same way I learned to play when I first started. As she practices the things I showed her, I can't help but to sit back and let my mind wander a bit. I start thinking about all the new things that are happening in my life now, and despite all the changes, I don't feel nervous about it anymore. It's because I realize that I have great people in my life, like Alice and Mystia, a great job that pays well, a good home I live in, a goal to strive towards... It's then that I realize something.

Things are going pretty dang well for me now. Much better than how things used to be. And I bet things will only be getting better from here. I may not be the human outsider anymore, but now I am something better. I am Tadashi Rizumu, the faux lich musician of Gensokyo, and everyone better be ready for me to rock their world!

And it is done! Please review, because man do I want one for this chapter. There is a bit of stuff I want feedback on.

With this chapter done, things will be back to their less serious side again. We'll also get started to accomplish Dash's dream, which means meeting the other girls of Gensokyo, both good and bad. Get yourself ready for that.

So, what do you think? Not just Dash's past, but Alice's as well! Two for the price of one! Now you know 'almost' everything about Dash. Your thoughts? Let me here them!

Also, I hope the destruction of Makai wasn't too much, but it was kinda needed to give Alice the kind of back story I need for her, for multiple reasons. By the way, I have been thinking of writing a side story to explain Alice's past in more depth, but I want to know how many of you would want to read it. If there is enough people interested, I might actually do it. Please let me know, alright?

Finally, if you have any ideas about what should be done in later chapters, like who Dash should meet and such, please let me know! I am open to suggestions.

With that said, it's time for me to shove off. See you next chapter!