This story is based on the Touhou project, and all its canon characters, locations and events are a property of Team Shanghai Alice, ergo ZUN.
All characters and events in this story are entirely fictional and any possible similarities between them and real people and events are purely coincidental and not intentional.
Phantom of Dream
A Touhou Project Fan Fiction
Did you see that shadow?
First, there were forests
With a girl, surrounded with sphere that were darker than black, wander the forests.
And then, there were none.
As the abrupt alarm sounds mightier than a meteor shower awoken me from the deep slumber, I lunged at my desk beside me and turned off the source of my agony every morning. The alarm.
While recovering from the racket that the alarm caused, I took a quick glance at the clock and realized that it was still 6:01 AM, still two hours away before the festival I awaited long starts.
So it's the day, huh?
Lazily, I get up from the bed and start my preparation before going into the festival. Yes, it is it.
The Anime Festival Asia.
It was held near my home, so near that it only took ten minutes of walking to go into the venue. I was excited to go there because only recently I have started watched animes and stuffs like that, and I have already get addicted to it. I can skip my college classes only to marathon a whole season of animes that I've downloaded illegally in the night before I slept. But I have other reasons besides the animes stuffs like cosplay and things like that.
It was inevitable in a festival that includes animes and Japan stuffs would be polluted with Touhou Project fans such as me, and usually there would be a huge numbers of them. Some cosplays as Touhou characters itself, some sells trinkets that in some way related with Touhou, and some even attend the festival only for Touhou stuffs that were brought by those Touhou fans, not for the anime stuffs that were the main focus of the event and were brought by the festival itself.
I'm always committed to never shows my real face or identity to people I met on the internet, that's why I always refuse to go into offline meetings whenever I was invited to it. Some says I always refuses to go because I was either too shy or anti-social for it, but my own reason was only because to separate my real life and internet life.
As I walks the streets that leads to the venue of the festival, I noticed that the street were more crowded than ever. On normal days, the streets were barely polluted by pedestrians, only by cars and motorcycles, that even occurs only up to 9:00 AM or so. But today, even at 7:00 AM, the streets were already crowded by people that were going into the festival.
Near the entrance, I already saw a number of people buying the tickets to the festival. Some already brought them via internet far from the event day, and when they get into the venue, they only have to shows their proofs of buying to get the ticket. As for me, I was confident that there would be spare tickets to sells on the spot.
"Hello, is there still any ticket left for the exhibition?"
"There still is."
I breathed a sigh of relieve.
"Okay, I buy one for the exhibition only."
"Sure, that would be.."
As I reach for my wallet in my backpack, I noticed someone cosplaying as one of Touhou Project character, Yukari Yakumo, sitting below a tree with a pink parasol covering her from the loose sunlight that wasn't covered by the tree's leaves, staring at the long queue line with a bored face. However, as I take a closer inspection on her, something is definitely wrong. She…
Resembles her too much. The blonde hair of her that flows freely when the air strokes them can't be a wig. And those dark, golden eyes surely weren't some kind of soft lens used for cosplaying. It was perfectly natural. Her face also were otherworldly beautiful that I can't describe it further. She wears a purple, Chinese-style tabard with various trigrams over a pale pink dress, complete with her mob cap with a red ribbon decorating it. Worse of all is, no one seems to notices her. How someone could not notices a perfect cosplayer like her is too disturbing for me to didn't take note of. No way that even a single person from the huge crowd that were in the queue for the ticket didn't notice her. But the facts tell me otherwise.
"Sir? You want to buy the tickets or not?"
As the cashier asks me impatiently, I realized that I haven't brought the ticket yet because of the outstanding cosplay I saw now. Hurriedly, I take the money needed for the ticket from my wallet and give it to the cashier to complete the transaction before the person behind me got mad and the perfect cosplayer moved out before I even got the chance to take a picture of her.
Half running, I walks toward her while thinking what sentence I should say to her. Luckily, when I was stands directly in front of her, I have found the perfect word to ask for her picture.
"May I take a picture of you?"
She gets a little startled hearing my sentences, but smiles afterward. Her smiles, for me, looks a little relieved one. Maybe she's sitting there the whole time, waiting for some crazy otaku like me to take a picture of her.
"Sure, go ahead."
I proceeded to take a picture of her. I only took one picture of her, partly because I don't want to look too much like a crazed otaku, and partly for preserving spaces for my camera memory. After all, this second-hand camera could only take one hundred pictures.
I thanked her while I check my picture shot.
"Hehe, you're welcome."
It… it would be a shame if I didn't ask her number, or in the very least, her facebook or something. But asking her directly without talking a bit would be too ballsy and disrespectful.
"Nice Yukari cosplay you do here, you really do look like her."
She only smiles hearing my complement.
Is that a forced smile she gave, or a genuine one? Usually, when I complement a cosplayer, they'll thank me or become boastful of their achievement. I never met a cosplayer that simply smiles after I complement them.
After a one minute of awkward silence, I finally gather some courage to asks her directly about her information.
"Say… do you have any facebook or something?"
"Face…book? I'm afraid no"
She answers with a smile.
Someone at this time of year, still didn't have any facebook? Oh, I get it. You were either too elegant to use facebook, or maybe too shy to give it to me. Completely understandable, Miss Cosplayer. If I were you, I wouldn't either give my facebook to a random stranger I just met.
Come to think of it, I haven't asked her name yet.
After putting my camera to my backpack, I offered a handshake to her while introducing myself.
"Sorry if I were rude. My name is Noru. Nice to meet you… err.."
"Yukari Yakumo. Nice to meet you too, Noru-san."
She accepted my handshake.
Yukari Yakumo? Is she roleplaying or what? Well, otherwise I completely forgot rule number two in festivals like this:
Never ask a cosplayer their real name.
She also add Japanese honorifics to my name, probably she were carrying her character's accent to her roleplay or she's a Japanese or something.
"Nice to meet you too, um… Yukari-san." I answered it with a smile.
Before I got to talk anything else, she stands up and unfolds her pink parasol.
Did I just make someone uncomfortable by my words? If I was, I would eternally regret this, and to think that of all people I offended, it should be a beautiful girl that cosplay as Yukari, I would really going to hell for this.
"Noru-san, do you believe in fate?"
A much unexpected question comes out from her. I thought at first, she would move out because of me being a total creep to her.
"Fate? Hmm… honestly, no."
She smiles hearing my response.
"So you think our meeting here wasn't meant to be, that this was purely a coincidence?"
Is this a test? If this was a visual novel game, I would already be presented by two option of choice that would either lead to bad end, or a good end.
"Hmm.. to think that this was a coincidence would be logical, since we haven't met before. Saying this encounter was fated was too ridiculous for me to handle."
She says with a satisfied smile.
"Then you can have this."
She handed me a small yellow paper, with a three big red kanji word written on it.
"What is this?"
"A gift. You can try reading it before you sleep." She says it with smiles that were a little… ominous.
I turned away a bit to put the gift she gave me inside my backpack.
"No, it should be me the one who thanking you." She answers with a small chuckle at the beginning.
When I turned to her again, she's already disappeared.
What the hell just happen? Did she just run out or something? Well, in any case, I got this gift she gave me, not anyone get free goodies from a cosplayer these days.
I decide to put this behind, and enter the building where the festival is located.
I muttered to myself before dropping my almost numb body to the bed. The festival was great and wasn't a disappointment like many of my internet friend said it would. I took a quick glance at the clock, noticing that it was already 11:02 PM.
Ah, I almost forgot to write my reports and upload my pictures. I'd bet they would flock and bow to my collection of pictures, mostly the Yukari one.
And also that gift she gave me... wouldn't hurt to try it.
I dragged my tired body to the computer desk and turns on my computer that hasn't been turned on today. Scrolling through chan, the board I regularly visited, I found nearly ten reports of the festival I attended earlier. I decided to take a look at them before posting myself. Out of ten thread I saw, none of them have the picture of the person that cosplay as Yukari I met earlier in the morning.
Seriously? Even these guys couldn't get a picture of her? Hmph, I guess this is my time to shine again.
After finished waiting about ten minutes for the upload to complete, I create a report thread similar to ten report threads earlier I read, with the Yukari cosplay picture last and my most prized picture. I even added these lines before the picture:
'And here it is, ladies and gentlemen, my most prized photo of all; Super Yukari Cosplay!'
While awaiting responses for my thread, I decide to play one of Touhou game series, Embodiment of Scarlet Devil. I never succeeded in clearing the extra stage, and now I decide to give it a try again.
"Ugh… that was way really close."
I mutter with disappointment. I was a step away on beating the extra boss, Flandre Scarlet, while suddenly my joystick lags and got hit in the process. Before I press the "Restart Stage" button, I decide to check back my thread to see the responses.
Seven responses in ten minutes? This is nice.
With a little excitement and anxiety, I read all the response starting from the beginning.
Dude that was awesome takes of picture. Though many of them was 2ho characters. But it was fine for me since many of them weren't half bad.
Although, I still don't quite get it why you take a tree picture for the super yukari cosu you mentioned."
Troll attempt? What are you talking about?
I checked back my previous Yukari picture that was uploaded in the thread. The picture shows off correctly with the beautiful smile of her decorating her already beautiful face. I checked the second response.
wtf with the yukari pic? I refreshed 5 times and it only shows a tree. Wrong picture uploaded, OP?"
What the heck these guys talking about? It showed up perfectly fine for me...
"OP was high or something, uploading tree and grasses."
Ikr, but other pics were decent, Aya's one was my favorite."
The remaining two responses were pretty much same. They said they see the other cosplay picture perfectly, but they can't see the Yukari's one.
"What the heck are you guys talking about? The Yukari's one shows up perfectly fine for me." I respond.
But when I post it, there were already ten more response with the same answer.
No yukari, but other pictures shows up perfectly.
As I read the responses, one took my attention clearly.
Maybe he met teh real yukari, lulz"
I swallow my saliva nervously after grasping what's probably going on.
Real Yukari Yakumo, from Gensokyo? But that's simply…
Or maybe, I've played too much Touhou this week.
I take slight peek at the balcony, and managed to drag myself to go there for some fresh air. While overseeing the quiet roads beneath the balcony, I managed to calm myself a little bit and try to remember what just happened earlier in the day.
There is some possibility, but…
It couldn't be. And of all people, why only I could see her? It's not like I'm some shonen hero type that got some super secret power or something.
Or... am I...?
Hah. Just kidding. I'd never step into that level of delusion.
While remembering the day I just went through complete with this fiasco, I remembered that the cosplayer, or who I think it was, gave me something.
The paper! If that was really there, then..
It wasn't an illusion or something.
Anxiously, I entered my room and close the window leading to the balcony. With my heart pounding even faster, I opened my backpack to search the yellow paper that I got earlier in the morning. Shockingly, it was there. Behind a Touhou artbook I brought earlier.
It's... here. Then surely that encounter really happened. But, just to make sure…
I scanned the paper and uploaded it to the board. But to evade some meaningless argument with my fellow board member, I decide to create a separate thread for it, basically asking about what's the kanji meaning that written in the paper. Within five minutes, there were five responses, only one that appears to translated it seriously.
The word written there was:
Or in romaji, "yume no tobira." It means Dream's Door.
You know, for a second I think it resembles 2ho miko talisman that she used for attacks. You get it from a 2ho merchandise stand or something?"
Of course! Reimu's talisman!
How could I didn't recognize it?
Then if it was true, this... might be a…
Portal to Gensokyo?
I cleared my throat nervously, and stared at the yellow paper. I tried to keep thinking rational about all of this, but with this recent happening that started this morning, I know that it wouldn't end well.
Or maybe, it would end pretty well. It all depends on the circumstances.
I took a quick glance at the clock, realizing that it was already midnight past four minutes. I decided to call it a day and turned the computer off. Before I managed to hit the hay, I remembered what the cosplayer, that supposed to be the real Yukari, told me earlier this morning.
"You can try reading it before you sleep."
Dream's Door… would it means that I will enter Gensokyo in my sleep? Or will I get ported out in the middle of my dream or something?
Partly excited and anxious about the outcome, I try to read the content of the small yellow paper aloud.
"Yume no tobira!"
I closed my eyes, waiting for something to happen, like some magical girl waiting for her transformation to finish.
After sitting silent for a minute, I opened my eyes with great expectation. But instead, like something I've expected in the back of my mind, nothing happens.
Figured as much…
Instead of something happens out of ordinary, I realized that I was getting sleepier than before. I managed to put the yellow paper to the desk besides my bed before I go into my deep slumber.
Why does my bed feels rock solid?
And where's my damn pillow?!
Wait... that's weird...
Not a single minute was elapsed before my sleep; I already awoke somewhere else beside my comfy bedroom. It was pitch dark, I could barely see anything else. I could feel the surface of the land I was sleeping on, and I can only guess it was grasses that covers the ground where I slept on.
Wait a minute…
Is this… am I…
Ha! First time I actually managed to do it without putting any efforts to it.
Then again, even when I put my efforts in it, I never succeed.
I try to stand with my hands supporting my body. I try to look around, but there was barely something to see because of the pitch dark lightning.
Hmm… I should try creating a portal to Gensokyo in here, those guys at lucid dreaming forum says that you only need some mantra to do it.
"Portal, open up!"
Nothing happens after I say those words aloud.
Well, that's strange. It should work if I was in a dream…
Or… I wasn't?
I decides to look around for a faint light source. When I turn my head to the right, I saw a ray of moonlight, lightning up a small dirt pathway that leads to god-knows-where.
Damn, if I was sleepwalking into somewhere, I could be in a real trouble.
Without any more option presented to me, I decide to follow the trail of dirt while the moonlight brighten my path forward. After five minutes of walking, the trail ends to a large field with many trees appears to be cut down. Strangely, it wasn't cut down like usual lumberjacks do. It was cut down crudely, with burn marks everywhere. It was like a field of battle.
What the hell happens here?
Wait a minute…
Before I sleep, I was…
I quickly realized the situation after remembering what happens before I enter my slumber.
I'm in real trouble now. If this was really Gensokyo, I just made the stupidest mistake of all.
Wandering around in the middle of the night wasn't a very wise thing to do. Especially when there's a certain youkai that wanders around.
I felt the night breeze passing through my body while I try to comprehend the situation. The Gensokyo I knew from my excerpt of reading information about it was unforgiving, and almost guaranteed deadly for intruders, or should I say, outsiders like me.
Wait a minute. This wind felt too strong. Something's not quite right...
It came from... above?!
I quickly noticed someone was hovering above me. When I look up, I saw a girl with short blond hair and ribbon tied to her left side of her hair. She also wears a black vest, white blouse and skirt, surrounded with dark spheres, hovering above me.
I hope she wasn't Rumia.
Nope, I was wrong.
And now I'm totally screwed.
Chapter 1 Ends.