The select staff gradually withdrew from the monitor. Inside this room are men of the highest rank within the Lunar Capital, including the grand leader of them all. Lord Tsukuyomi is a man appearing in his late teens, with long raven-black hair, and is always garbed in the purest of white. While he stands at attention his hands are intertwined behind his back. His stare is nearly powerful enough to burn a hole through the now inactive monitor. The others in the room look to him uneasily, as if they can't even breathe without his permission.
There's a knock at the door, and all others except the lord jerk in surprise. After the knock Lord Tsukuyomi speaks immediately and with near-irritation.
A slender man enters in a hurry, casting his eyes downward as not to offend. It's the same man who first noticed the spike in the GAL. Though it wasn't by the lord's choice, since this man made the discovery he was forced to be in the loop along with all these high ranking officials. It was a luck that was both good and bad.
"Report!" Tsukuyomi orders.
"Ah yes," his nervous tension is palpable. "Facial recognition has concluded with a 99.987% probability that it was indeed Yagokoro Eirin. We have also positively identified Hakurei Reimu, Kirisame Marisa, Sakuya Izayoi, and Remilia Scarlet, all of whom once invaded moon. Also identified was Yakumo Yukari."
"And the Intelligence Division's report?"
"Yes! As you know, a piece of a Lunar Veil was found on the wreckage of their rocket. It was hypothesized that it was lent to them by Yagokoro-sensei, but that theory was discredited due to her lack of involvement in the actual invasion. However, it was also theorized that her actual involvement may have been covered up by Watatsuki no Yorihime and Watatsuki no Toyohime because of their past relations, but like before, only circumstantial evidence supports this theory. However, considering their involvement in this incident with this unknown god, a relationship can be established as well as possible mutual interests."
"And this unknown god?"
"Confirmed to be deceased. There was a cosmic quake observed as per recorded with previous passages of gods. We have yet to identify her, but an investigation is ongoing."
"I see." Lord Tsuyukomi takes a moment to think, then ordains, "From this day forward, make travel to and from Earth to be a Capital Offense, as well as exchanging in communications thereof. I will no longer tolerate any conspiring of another invasion. Anyone found guilty of such treason will be put to death, which could include the Watatsuki Sister. That will be all."
"One moment sir!"
Lord Tsukuyomi snaps his head so violently in affront, the analysis fears he might be stricken dead at his master's stare, "What?"
Cowering, "Sir, during this incident, we received a message from the surface."
His hostility drains in an instant. In fact, he actually seems surprised.
"A message? Do we have any spies currently on Earth?"
"No sir! None at the moment."
"What's the identity of this messenger?"
"We have nothing on record. Something interfered with our observation technology and we couldn't record a image of the messenger either. However, we know the point of origin to be the peek of the largest mountain in the region of the incident."
"They waited for the boundary to go down before sending their message?"
"Correct. With the boundary gone even our monitoring equipment became that much more effective."
"Then can we assume this person brought down the boundary just so they could send us a message?"
"That is the likely assumption."
"Very well, what is this message?"
"It reads, 'Princess Kaguya Houraisan hides in the bamboo forest.'"
Everyone gasps. Even the lord appears shaken.
An alarm sounds. They return to the monitors.
"Report!" Tsukuyomi orders.
From the man nearest the console, "Our reading are dropping!" After analyzing for a moment. "Sir! The boundary is being reestablished!"
Their master takes the forefront, "Quickly! Record all topographical information within the previous boundary's perimeter, and I want a detailed scan of coordinates G8 to J11, highest resolution!"
Nervous seconds pass. All the operators furiously work at their terminals, obeying their lord's orders to the best of their abilities while time was rapidly becoming shorter. On the main monitor the image displayed becomes brighter. A circle of magic is being drawn on the great land. About a dozen kilometers in diameter, it is written in a forgotten language, but clearly visible are five ying yang symbols. The image is gradually becoming riddled with static. Working as fast as they can, the operators can only do so much while waiting for their equipment to keep up with them. Several seconds pass, and then they lose the image all together. There's a deafening silence.
"Report!" Tsukuyomi shouts, causing everyone to jump in surprise.
One nervous operator speaks, "Overall Topographical Analysis, 64% complete."
"Sir, even with the boundary gone overall, there were many miniature protections cast about the land. With so many and such little time, it was too much to cover them all."
Shivering in terror, the operator can do nothing but await a response from his lord. Tsukuyomi himself is still, calculating everything in his head. All heartbeats ceases while they await the leader's reactions.
Lord Tsukuyomi moves. Walking with a pace no faster than a grandfather taking his daily stroll, he comes to behind the operator who'd just spoken. Placing a hand on the top of his head, Tsukuyomi proceeds to twist until the operator face points in the exact opposite direction. The loud "snap" left no question that the man's neck was broken. Jerking once from spasm, the operator's body loses it's balance and falls from his chair.
Reaching into his pocket with the hand that hadn't just killed one of his own men, Tsukuyomi produces a handkerchief. He wipes the hand that had grasped the man's head.
"The bamboo forest," he says, relaying his next orders.
"Sir!" another operator speaks, however this man's voice lacks the fear of the previous operator. "The high resolution scan of the bamboo forest is complete."
The recorded image is relayed to the main monitor. What's displayed is an aerial view of The Bamboo Forest of the Lost. Filters have been applied so it appears as bright as day. Though this operator completed his mission, he received no words of praise. Success was expected, and failure wasn't tolerated.
"Four times magnification on section 16,42."
His will is obeyed. The image zooms in on the spot he indicated. Mostly indicated are trees and a near completely obstructive canopy, but an odd blotch is noticeable. It takes the computer a few moments to render the magnified image to it's highest resolution, leaving what's seen temperately blurry. After rendering is complete, it's clear the blotch is a structure.
"16 times magnification on that building."
The process repeats. After the rendering finishes what's shown is a Japanese-style mansion. It's Eientei.
"Sir, could this be-"
"There!" Tsukuyomi shouts, startling everyone in the room less at his abruptness, but the excitement in his voice. It's extremely rare for the lord to show any kind of emotion. "362, 89."
That coordinate is an area just outside the mansion, apparently a part of the courtyard. It's difficult to tell, but it appears something slightly out of the ordinary is depicted. The resolution is already extraordinarily high for a satellite photograph, and it was hard to tell even with that incredible image. Only the lord seemed to know what this was before the image was amplified.
As the image rendered, focusing the recorded data line by line as it scanned from top to bottom, those in the room gasped one by one as they each began to recognize what their lord saw. Slowly, as the maximum resolution was achieved, a girl, who happened to be standing outside as the image was taken, is depicted. From the top of her head is long, perfectly black, hair, dark eyes that seem as deep as a well, dressed in a pink and burgundy dress made of the finest fabrics.
"Sir, there's insufficient data for confirmation from the facial recognition-"
"I've finally found you," Lord Tsukuyomi isn't listening, "Kaguya-hime."
And the last
After Cirno's final moments, Reimu and Yakumo worked feverishly to replenish the Gensokyo Boundary. Since the Hakurei Border was still some-what active, the rest of the work wasn't too terribly difficult. Had the gap youkai and the Hakurei Miko both been defeated at the same time, repair would have been impossible. Maybe this was known by Cirno, and this was the reason the miko was practically ignored. Whatever the case, Yukari Yakumo and Reimu Hakurei reconstructed the boundary, sealing Gensokyo as the young priestess' ancestor had done over a century ago.
In the hours that followed many youkai recovered. The loss of magic that, by itself, threatened many lives was again filling the land. It was a long road, but after this night passes and the morning comes, the worst of it should be over.
Many life threatening injuries were inflicted. Some by Cirno directly and the rest indirectly. The absolute worst of the worst were Meiling and Sakuya. The youkai suffered numerous broken bones, internal bleeding, and some things Eirin had never seen before. This martial artist was of the most rare breeds of youkai, and procedure had to be invented on the spot to save her life.
Even with a simpler physiology, the human didn't fare any better. Being at risk of hypothermia and all the blood loss, she nearly died before Remilia could even bring her to Eirin. As she was the only human within Scarlet Devil Mansion, finding a matching blood type for the transfusion intentionally seemed a daunting task, however the vampire had stockpiled plenty that matched the human's. The doctor didn't want to ask. Surgery lasted for several hours, well into the morning. It wasn't until Remilia nearly collapsed from exhaustion that Eirin announced that the worst was over. However, she might never completely recover. She's fallen into a coma and shows no signs of awakening. Only time will tell.
Many types of injuries were sustained, some worst than others, but Cirno hadn't caused a single fatality. With as powerful as she proved to be, it almost seemed like a miracle. Nearly would have they called it that, but they all knew better. Everyone who fought against the ancient world slayer all felt the same way; that through all her battles, all the trials she put before her adversaries, no matter how she acted or what she said, she never had the intent to kill. They weren't all lucky to be alive, they were alive because Cirno wished it. She never tried to kill anyone (though she did have an odd fixation on Okuu).
Having discovered her true nature only after the fact, it left those who fought with mixed feelings. They couldn't hate her in the end. Maybe they couldn't understand her actions or intentions, but they recognized the heart she possessed. It was almost a love she had for all of them, that her actions weren't motivated by hate, sorrow, or rage, but a kindness and warmth from a mother scolding her child. Some recognized it for what is was, but many were left wondering. Perhaps the best proof to this is that she never really killed Remilia or Flandre. Once they saw the two vampires revived, nearly all the hate directed at the ancient simply vanished. At least this was true for all the fairies in the mansion. Maybe in time this could be relayed to the rest of Gensokyo.
All of this made the last part particularly hard. They had to tell Daiyousei that her best friend was dead.
For days the fairy seemed completely lifeless. Remilia, for some reason, felt it was her responsibility to care for her. Keeping her at the Scarlet Devil Mansion, they saw that she was fed, bathed, and slept. If not for the care of the other fairy maids, Daiyousei might have faded away and disappeared. It was as if they owed it to Cirno, perhaps more to the Ice Fairy than the Ancient, to keep her friend alive. Not simply just breathing, but able to move on in her life. It was Remilia's idea, but it was certainly well-received; Remilia suggested that they hold a funeral for Cirno. Daiyousei broke into tears when she heard, but at least she finally showed emotions again. This was what she needed to say goodbye.
It was a somewhat dreary morning. Overcast skies, a chill in the air, and a humidity that made it feel slightly swampy. Everyone was dressed in black. Those in attendance included most of those who fought her in the final battle. Absent were Yukari, Yuuka, and the comatose Sakuya, but the rest were there and with a few additions. The three mischievous fairies came with the Prismriver Sisters, and the Suwa Gods with the reunited Sanae. Meiling was healthy enough to come in crutches. It was probably best that she remain in bed, but the marital artists insisted on attending. Meiling felt as if she owed something to Cirno, Ice Fairy or otherwise.
The Scarlet Devil Courtyard showcased an empty grave and a headstone carved by the oni. Simply did it say "Cirno." There was no picture that could be associated with the grave, but everybody had an image of the beloved fairy etched in the hearts. To service began early in the morning.
Given by Remilia, the eulogy was actually very sweet. Perhaps knowing far more then she should, the vampire highlighted Cirno's innocence, friendly and warm personality, and even her endearing stupidity and misadventures. Also were excellent things said by Marisa, and when Meiling hobbled to the podium in her crutches and said her final prayers. Many broke into tears. Certainly Daiyousei had much to say, but she was in much too fragile a state to say anything, yet everyone awaited for the moment when she would say her final goodbye to her friend.
However, before she got the chance, someone else took that stage.
No one ever saw her enter. She walks through the aisle with a determined stride, challenging attitude, and bright eyes. No one's ever seen her before, but she's impossibly familiar. This girl is of average height (maybe about as tall as Sakuya), slender build, and appears late teens or early 20s in years. Mid-length hair flows down her back, wavy and wild, and it sways gently as she walks. That color, matching with her eyes and dress, is almost impossible to associate with any other person. People stand from their seats as she passes, and Marisa falls out of her's. This woman's mere presence garners great attention, and once Daiyousei finally takes notice, she instantly sheds tears.
The woman takes her place behind to podium as if this place was reserved solely for her. Placing her hands on the rectangular wooden stand as if it were customary, she begins by clearing her throat.
"Ahem! We are gathered here to pay tribute to a great friend. He," the woman pauses for a second, turns around, reads the tombstone, then turns back to the audience, "Chro-no was a great friend. I remember the days when we ran through the fields, played pranks on the frogs, and generally hassled anyone we could find. At times he did bad things, but he had a good heart and never meant any harm. Chrono would sometimes-"
"Cirno!" Daiyousei shouts as she rises from her seat.
Over twice as tall as the Ice Fairy, about 20 centimeters shorter than the tall Ancient, the woman with an unmistakable resemblance to those two halts mid speech. Being cut off by the fairy, the woman isn't quite sure how to proceed.
"Um, Chrono would sometimes-"
"Cirno!" Daiyousei shouts again, tears pouring down her cheeks.
"What Dai-chan? I'm kinda in the middle of something here."
Hesitant and wavering, the green-haired great-fairy gradually makes her way to the podium, "Cirno, is that really you?"
The woman appears uneasy, "Um, yeah. Who else would it be?"
At the admission, Daiyousei charges and tackles the woman, shouting, "Cirno! Cirno!"
Marisa starts laughing hysterically, Reimu throws her arms out in the air as if in surrender, and a few simply stand up and start to leave. The rest are either in disbelief or are joining the human magician in merrymaking. While laughing, Suika takes a giant swig of sake.
"Wait! Where are you going?" Cirno calls out to the crowd. "I was just getting to the best part! Dai-chan, get off me!"
TO BE CONTINUED
ADVENT OF THE STRONGEST
Well, there you have it. I couldn't think of any better way for LotS to end then for Cirno to attend her own funeral. Better yet that she misreads her own name and mistakes it for the name of a boy. When I started planning for LotS, I kept imagining the funeral scene from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and tried to add a bit of Touhou flare. After all, no matter how cruel or desperate the situation could be, shouldn't all Touhou stories end with a tea party (which Cirno's Funeral will eventually end up as). After every incident it's just another day in Gensokyo.
Now let me say a bit about the first half of the Epilogue. Hati's ultimate goal in LotS was to discover a path to the moon. Based off the same Hati as in Norse Mythology, you can understand why that would be. As a Touhou combatant his power level is only about as strong as a Stage 4 boss (Patchouli, Reisen, Sanae, ect...) but his greater skills lie in subterfuge. Since invading the moon is near-impossible and otherwise suicidal, he has to bring the moon to him, or have the moon invade Earth. Through Eirin he learns that both she and Kaguya-hime are in exile and in hiding. Using Ancient Cirno as a means, he draws out the incident so that the Gensokyo boundary can be destroyed and he can send a message to the moon. While the Lunarians are far more capable than he anticipated, they still receive his message and Lord Tsukuyomi takes great interest in what has transpired. Ultimately his plan was a complete success. And that whole "Remilia Scarlet must die," prophecy was just a load of crap. He just wanted to cause a stir that would shake all of Gensokyo to ensure that Reimu or Yukari would get involved. Flandre also getting involved was completely out of his expectations.
Which leads us to the next installment, Advent of the Strongest. Part 2 will have this Awakened Cirno take center stage. She will have to cope with the sins carried out by her original alter-ego and the events that are about to transpire. I nearly wanted to start this multi-part series with Advent, but felt it would be too much of a leap if I did Legend as a sort of prequel, so this series will take place in chronological order.
How far do I plan to go with The Strongest series? Even I don't know yet. As long as it's fun, I guess, and I'm having a lot of fun. I hope you've had even a fraction of the fun reading this as I've had writing it. See you next installment.