Hello everybody, welcome to Negative Bullet Project 1.5: Negative Interest. In case that this is the first story you read of the "Negative Bullet Project" Series, I highly advice you to read at least I-Negative Bullet, since it's the prequel to this. It is not necessary to read 0-Negative Memory, but it will help understanding the plot of Negative Bullet Project as a whole a lot better. In case that you want to read 0-Negative Memory, please be aware that it is necessary to read I-Negative Bullet up to a certain point before.

Back to this here... This is not the second book, but happens in between I-Negative Bullet and II-Negative Mind. However, since it will be canon in the Negative Bullet Project, and not just a spin-off, it deserves the title 1.5 - Negative Interest. A few things that will become important in the future are mentioned in here.

As soon as this "little" thing here is finished, I'll start with the second book of the series, II- Negative Mind, a sequel to I-Negative Bullet. As soon as it has started, you'll see why this story here had to happen as it's own, and not a chapter of the second book.

Oh, and this story is supposed to be more comedic in nature than I-NB, which had a lot of dark moments towards the middle and the end of the book. At least I hope this will turn out more comedic xD. However, this won't be all comedy, and will have it's fair share of dark, subliminal hints. Okay, dark is the wrong word, but I admit that there will be a few hints towards the next book, and some hints towards the past books, and Chôzen's thoughts towards that.

I'm sorry that it took me so long to write this, but I was spending Christmas with my family and New Year's Eve with some friends, so I didn't get exactly much time to write. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I was kind of distracted for a while (not by my other new story, mind you), and even as I went back to this, it just refused to work. But oh well, it's finally done.

Still, can't believe it took me almost six weeks to write this. (It was six, right?) But then again, this is the longest "chapter" I`ve ever written... It is even longer than "Visit Part 2" from the first book, I-Negative Bullet! Damn it, I estimated this book to be about 40 000 words long... But what the hell? It's about 75 000 words long! (Hope I found all the mistakes while I proof-read this... Knowing me, I missed one heck amount of them.)

Let's start this story, shall we~?

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Touhou/Project Shrine Maiden, as it belongs to ZUN. However, Chôzen Gekido (and his responsible personalities), Nanatsu no Taizai, Ryoko Jigoku, Shiho Kumo, Kayako Saeki Henge, Minoue and Sly do belong to me, as for I have created them.


Negative Bullet Project 1.5: Negative Interest

"Chôzen?"

"Hm?"

I snapped out of my thoughts and looked up from the wooden table in front of me. On the other side of the table stood a woman with wavy, black hair that reached down to her lower back. Nanatsu no Taizai, my first wife.

"I am going to prepare some tea... Do you want some?", asked Nanatsu as she smiled warmly at me. "Uh... Yeah. Sure.", I replied and returned her smile. "Please wait a moment..."

I watched how she walked away towards the kitchen, and turned towards the window, sunk deeper into my comfortable armchair. The sunlight was shining into the otherwise dimly lit living room. I had decided against turning the lights on... I wasn't the only one who enjoyed the dim light. We all enjoyed it far more than the broad and bright sunlight...

"A yen for your thoughts?", chuckled another voice, drawing my attention away from the window. I turned to the black couch that I had bought from Kourindou, Rinnosuke Morichika's shop for all things from the outside world that somehow found their way in. It had been too big for his shop and he was more than happy to get some space for other exhibits.

Upon this very couch lolled a blonde woman, her legs dangling over the armrest and her head resting on a pile of soft pillows. Wearing a black skirt and a dark gray tank top, she looked different than usual, but quite hot nonetheless. She had her arms across her stomach and her eyes were closed, but I knew she was awake. That smug grin on her lips was more than enough to give her away. "No thanks.", I replied with a small chuckle.

The blonde woman turned her head into my direction and opened her eyes, revealing beautiful crimson orbs that glowed in the darkness, a mischievous glint resting within them. "What are you thinking about, hm? Perhaps the last incident? The Negative Gensokyo incident?", asked the blonde woman, raising an eyebrow. "A little.", I admitted, "But I am thinking about Gensokyo rather than that... I'm wondering what it has been up to."

Rumia rolled her eyes and stretched her limbs, but then returned to her old position again. "You're right... It's been almost four weeks since that party... And you didn't tell anyone about our decision. It's a small wonder that no one has shown up yet. We visited nobody and remained in here... The only exception was that one time when we went to the human village for groceries. And of course Mima and Yuuka's official, real wedding", commented Rumia as she closed her eyes again.

"Yeah... But that'll stop soon as well.", I mused. "It will.", confirmed Nanatsu as she appeared in the doorway to the kitchen, carrying a tray with three cups of hot tea on it, "I spoke to Shikieiki-sama the other day and she told me that she'd talk to the other Yama about our request." "That's good to hear.", I sighed and closed my eyes, leaned my head back and let my thoughts trail off for another second.

"You were thinking about whether or not our decision was right, is that it?", asked Nanatsu as she placed a cup of tea on the wooden table in front of me. "No... No, we agreed that this is our decision, and I am okay with it.", I sighed and opened my eyes again, leaned forwards to grab my tea. I hissed as I burned my fingers on the hot cup, winced and pulled back.

"What's it then?", asked Nanatsu. I glanced towards her and found her sitting on the couch, Rumia's head on her lap. The angel of death gave me a mischievous wink, but then closed her eyes again. "I've been thinking about what everyone else in Gensokyo is up to... And how they'll take our decision.", I replied and carefully tried to grab my cup again. Merely burned my fingers again, though.

"Well... I bet everyone will have their own specific reaction. But it sure is hard to swallow. I mean, we're going to cut off our entire contact to Gensokyo!", huffed Rumia as she finally rose and picked up her own cup of hot tea, just like that. I frowned as she didn't burn herself, put my hand onto the cup again, only to wince as I burned myself again. Rumia took a sip, placed the cup on the table again, then laid down onto Nanatsu's lap anew.

"You know it's the only way that we will ever find the peace we're looking for. But it's only going to work if the Yama agree to our request of having a gateway to the outside world in this house. I believe that they will agree if we tell them that this house is soon guarded by barriers that prevent anyone in Gensokyo to enter... Aside Yukari Yakumo, of course, but she can just gap herself to the outside world.", commented Nanatsu.

"Guess so. The problem is, though, that we can't cut ourselves off from Gensokyo without a gateway to the outside world... We need to buy groceries once in a while, after all.", I mused. "That's right. I guess we're waiting for Shikieiki-sama then.", commented Nanatsu and began playing with Rumia's hair, to which the angel of death began to purr a little.

"Yeah... But it still feels wrong to abandon Gensokyo like that.", I muttered and turned back to the window. "Even if so, we're not going to leave it forever. Just for a while... We need some distance after all that has happened.", purred Rumia in an almost cat-like way.

"That is true... We need that peace.", I agreed and reached for my cup of hot tea, finally managing to pick it up, "And I need some time away from Gensokyo. It won't be any good if it's past starts to be my past again." "Perhaps so, but it won't do any good to just cut off contact like that. I still think we should tell everyone." "Nana, look I...!"

My attempt to explain was cut short when it knocked on the door. That actually scared the hell out of me, or at least enough for me to flinch so madly that I actually spilled some of the hot tea onto my chest, resulting in me hissing madly. I shared confused glances with both of my wives as soon as the pain became numb, and both women just frowned, apparently not expecting any visitors at all. "I'm going.", I announced and rose from my seat.

In reality, I was merely looking for a way to move so that the hot tea dripped from my bare chest onto the ground, my chest finally cooling down as the hot brew was gone.

As I turned to the door to leave the living room, I spotted how Rumia laid her arms around Nanatsu's neck and pulled her down into a passionate kiss.

Our relationship was still strange, even though we had agreed that it was the only outcome to this that didn't end with the loss ourselves. But still, a triangle relationship that worked both ways... Was weird.

"Hey, keep some Nanatsu for me!", I chuckled over my shoulder as I entered the corridor and took the last steps towards the door. "No way, she's mine right now!", shouted Rumia back, and I huffed. I put the hand on the doorknob, turned the key to unlock it, and then pulled it open. "Nanatsu was mine first! Her sweet taste is mine!", I yelled over my shoulder in a playful way, before I turned to the visitor.

Yuuka. Yuuka Kazami, the resident Flower Youkai, and physically strongest Youkai in existence (or so it was rumored).

A very pissed Yuuka Kazami.

"Too much information.", grumbled the Flower Youkai as she frowned at me. This made me think over my last statement, which my lack of a shirt certainly didn't help, before I let out a short chuckle and shook my head. "Not what you think, Yuuka. Anyways, what's leading you here?", I asked her.

In reply, the irritated Flower Youkai merely rose her right hand and pointed down at... her chest.

"Good joke, I'm not looking there. I'm not suicidal... anymore.", I chuckled quickly. In response, Yuuka facepalmed, groaned and rolled her eyes, before she grabbed my face and pulled me closer. I hissed and whimpered as her nails dug into my skin, but I did manage to stop the tears that were about to fall.

"Do I look like I come all the way from the Garden of the Sun over here just to fool you into being a bigger idiot than you already are? I don't need a reason to kill you, and you should know that. So if I tell you to do something, then do it!", bellowed Yuuka into my face.

"Geez, and the day started so peaceful.", I thought to myself. "I don't know, I like where this is going...!", replied a distorted version of my voice, it's voice echoing through my head. Insanity, the darker part of me that had gained an own personality, had been quiet over the last weeks, but I had already waited for the moment that he would resurface, given the right stimulation. And there it was, in the shape of an irritated Yuuka.

Yuuka let go of my face and I took a step back, only to stumble through the doorframe into the house, as well as into Nanatsu and Rumia, who had heard my groans of pain. I started rubbing my face, happy that I didn't find any blood, but the pain wasn't exactly pleasant...

"What are you doing here, Yuuka?", asked Nanatsu as she stepped past me into the daylight of Gensokyo's newest morning. Rumia, meanwhile, had moved past me as well and leaned against the doorframe, frowning at Yuuka as well.

The Flower Youkai repeated her action from before, rose one hand and pointed down at her chest. Unlike me, Nanatsu and Rumia both looked there, being way more comfortable with it... And then, both frowned. I frowned as well, not for the same reason but because of their reaction... And my frown increased as both of them leaned a little to the side to look past Yuuka.

This action eventually led me to look down at Yuuka's chest as well... And I found what Yuuka had tried to show me.

Pale hands. Pale hands that did not belong to Yuuka. Pale hands groping Yuuka.

I felt my frown increase as I looked back up at Yuuka's face, found the Flower Youkai glaring at me with an "I told you"-expression. And then, she turned around, revealing her 'groper' to us.

"Mima?", I asked as I spotted the evil spirit that pressed and rubbed her face into Yuuka's back, smiling and drooling in glee. "What the hell?", escaped my lips before and I knew, "You two married anew just a few days ago and you're telling me you're still at it?"

Oh yes, Mima had kept her promise and had married Yuuka again, this time for real. Not everyone that was invited showed up, since most of them were still uncomfortable with Mima integrating into Gensokyo, but a few familiar faces, namely the inhabitants of Eientei, the Scarlet Devil Mansion and a few more, had shown up. And like I had promised Mima, I had been her groomsman.

Good memories. No sarcasm this time.

"Still at it?", snarled the Flower Youkai, repeating my last words with scorn and shock. "Not exactly.", she hissed, apparently trying her best to keep her anger at low levels.

She twirled around and glared at me. "It started two days ago...", grumbled the annoyed Flower Youkai, "At first I liked it for obvious reasons..." I snorted in unison with Rumia and Nanatsu, earning a huff from Yuuka. "To rephrase you: Too much information.", I commented, but Yuuka ignored it straight away. "But it didn't stop. It won't stop. Mima is like in trance and all she says is...", a deep sigh followed, "...Wait for it."

Yuuka turned her head and glanced over her shoulder at Mima. "Mima, why are you groping me like this?" This earned a reaction from Mima and she perked up, placed her head on Yuuka's shoulder and increased her fondling. "Because you're so interesting, Yuuka~", moaned the evil spirit, forcing not only me to take a step back in shock.

"And it's been like that. The only reaction I ever get is that I am interesting... But the reason I am here is not solely Mima... She's not the only one that is affected. Most individuals in Gensokyo have become interested in the weirdest things over the last days, and won't stop caring about only those things.", sighed Yuuka as she shook her head a little.

"Smells like an incident. But why are you here? Reimu is Gensokyo's primary incident solver... I only solved some because I was pulled into them.", I replied with a shrug. And Yuuka sighed. "Let me rephrase Reimu's last words to me...", coughed Yuuka and closed her eyes. And then, with a way too high voice, squealed: "Oh my gosh, Yukari's hair is so interesting~"

We all sweatdropped in unison. "So she's affected as well...", I muttered uneasily. "And like Yukari is going to do something about it. She enjoys this affectionate Reimu way too much... Blergh, it's sick!", growled Yuuka and shuddered. And not because of Mima's left hand switching to her stomach.

"I heard that Marisa has become 'infected' by this as well... But don't ask me what she is now all excited and interested in.", huffed Yuuka and shrugged. "I see. Yet tried to ask Sanae at the Moriya Shrine?", I questioned the Flower Youkai, which merely gave me the 'You're kidding, right?'-look.

"I'm not going there. Not only is that all the way up on Youkai Mountain, but that miko up there is just as crazy as her gods.", replied Yuuka with a low growl. "If it's just about going all the way up on Youkai Mountain... Sanae is visiting the human village on an almost daily basis. She's always trying to pursue more followers. So why don't you try it?", I explained... And got a nasty glare from Yuuka.

"As much as I'd love to continue this game of twenty questions with you...", began the Flower Youkai as she balled her fists and closed her eyes, "Look, just go and find out who is causing this mess, alright? Most of Gensokyo is already affected, and I am not interested in becoming another mindless idiot chasing after something I find interesting all of sudden!"

I took a step back and rose my hands to defend myself. "Woah, easy there, Yuuka. I was just trying to help.", I chuckled uneasily. "You'd be of more help if you just go and find out who is causing this!", roared the Flower Youkai. "Alright, alright! But how bad can it be? I mean, what can possibly be...?"

"This wall sure is interesting..."

I stopped and Yuuka and I shared a frown, before we both turned to my left along with Nanatsu and Rumia.

Standing in front of the wall of my house was no other than the strongest and possibly most naive fairy in whole Gensokyo... Cirno. The inofficial leader of team nineball stared with a blank and yet amused look at the white wall of the house I lived in along with Nanatsu and Rumia. And she really seemed to enjoy doing that. "Uhm... Cirno?", I began, trying to get the idiot fairy's attention, "Why are you looking at that wall?"

"Because it is interesting!", claimed the small fairy with a huff and proudly put her hands onto her hips. I sweatdropped along with Nanatsu and Rumia. "Yuuka is sooo interesting... I want more...", moaned Mima that very moment and started nuzzling Yuuka's neck. The Flower Youkai didn't seem too fazed, but even though she did roll her eyes, I saw the faintest blush arising.

"Okay, you won, Yuuka.", I chuckled uneasily, "This is really messed up..." "Good.", huffed Yuuka, trying to suppress a moan, "N-now go and get dressed! And then start fixing whatever is wrong with Gensokyo!" "Will do that.", I replied. "G-good. I'm going home then and... ah! A-and I'll wait for you to fix this!"

"Yeah. And you take care of Mima...", I chuckled, not even trying to hide the slightly suggestive undertone, "...if you know what I mean!" Yuuka scowled at that, reached past her shoulder and pulled Mima's head away from her neck, and then turned and left, all while Mima resumed her groping.

"Poor girl.", I chuckled uneasily. "True.", agreed Nanatsu and shook her head, before she turned to me. "So... What now? Do we really fix this?" I nodded shortly. "Yeah... Yeah, we do. See it as one final favor to Gensokyo before we leave it.", I sighed with a shrug. "Guess so...", murmured Nanatsu as she turned to look at the blue sky above us.

"I don't know, Cirno... I don't think it's that interesting...", commented Rumia, and both Nanatsu and I turned to her, sweatdropping as we found the angel of death standing next to the ice fairy, staring at the wall as well. "I think the old days came through...", I chuckled. "Well, she DID hang around Cirno while she was sealed into the shape of a child, didn't she...?", smiled Nanatsu wryly.


"Do you really think this is a good idea?", asked Rumia in an unamused tone, shaking her head. "Not really, but the closest thing to a lead. We don't know where to go first, anyways, so why not check a few locations by random? We know that Reimu is manipulated and that Yukari is not going to help, so going to the Hakurei Shrine makes no sense. Suika will be drunk, anyways, so no lead there.", I replied with a shrug and pushed the heavy metal gate with all my strength.

It didn't budge a bit, much to my embarrassment.

To cover it, I acted as if I had leaned against it and hadn't even tried pushing, and turned to my wives again. "Going to Marisa's house made no sense as well if she is manipulated as well. And we saw what it did to Mima... So no help from her and Yuuka either.", I continued with an uneasy smile. In reality, though, I just didn't feel like meeting Alice again, who was probably at Marisa's. The part with Mima and Yuuka was true, though.

"But still... Why the Scarlet Devil Mansion?", whined the Angel of Death as she pointed at the large building behind the gates I had yet to open. "Geez... It always looks so easy when Meiling opens them... Speaking of her, where is she?", shot through my head as I leaned my entire weight against the gate. It still didn't budge.

"Because.", I replied and shrugged, leaned more weight against the gate. "Come on, open up!" "Because what?", huffed Rumia and frowned at me while she crossed her arms. "Just because!", I countered, pushed off the gate and threw my entire weight against it. "That's not even a reason!", complained Rumia, but I casually ignored her and threw myself against the gate, not even caring anymore if it looked like I was unable to open it. "I just hate it when objects try to fight with me!" "I know. Not the first time something like this happened to you."

I pushed myself off the gate, snarled at it, glared. "You want it that way, huh?! Well, I defeated Mima, and I'll defeat you as well, gate!", I roared, pointing an accusing finger at the gate. "Not the first time you fight with a door. I'm thinking of that party after Mima had been defeated.", commented Rumia with a shrug. "That door was evil, and you know it!", I hissed into her direction, before I finally threw myself at the large iron gate.

"Look, the gate is locked with this sliding lock...", muttered Nanatsu, pointing at a piece of metal. She pulled on it. And I hit the iron gate. The now unlocked gate swung open and almost ripped out of it's hinges, hit the wall it was attached to and caused massive cracks in it, before it bounced off said wall and moved into the other direction...

I never saw it coming.

CLONG!

I was ripped off my feet as the gate impacted with my face, hit the ground with my back first and sled over the dusty path. Everything hurt, especially my back and my face, and all air was pushed out of my lungs by the impact of both the gate and the ground. It took me a few seconds to regain my breath, and I didn't sit up until the pain had subsided.

"Chôzen, what are you doing? You can sleep later, we promised Yuuka to find out about this weird incident!", scolded Nanatsu, who had not seen me getting hit by that evil gate. Can't blame her... I didn't see it as well. "Or did you drink again? I told you that you shouldn't drink! You know what happened the last time you drunk like mad...!", continued the Shinigami while I stood up.

"Oh, I just love to tell that story! He picked a fight with a tree, thinking that it was badmouthing him!", snickered Rumia from the side, holding her stomach as she finally broke into a fit of laughter. I sighed and dusted myself off.

It was true. I tried to deny it, denied it whenever I had the chance... But in the almost four weeks since Mima's defeat, I had caught myself several times craving for alcohol to drown my worries, sorrows and memories in. I had resisted it most of the time. But twice, I actually had given into that desire, and had ended up horribly drunk. It was a good thing that Nanatsu and Rumia had only seen one time, when I had left the house at night and had shouted at a tree under our bedroom window to stop badmouthing me, before I had begun to fight it... I had lost, somehow.

The other time, it had been at night as well... I hadn't dared to give into that desire at day. That night, I had done something worse than shouting and fighting a tree... When I had come to, I had been standing in the kitchen, topless, and there had been blood everywhere. I had been standing in the kitchen, blood running down the light green tiles on the wall over the countertop and the cupboards... And a puddle of blood had been at my feet.

The noise from that night haunted me. Drip. Drip. Drip. The sounds of blood dripping down from the knife in my right hand. The sounds of blood dripping down from my left wrist, which was cut open... The sounds of blood dripping down from my upper body, which had been leaned forward.

A large gash had been at the height of the eleventh pair of ribs.

I still don't know why I had hurt myself. I still didn't know the reason for that, didn't know if had merely been something I had done in an alcohol-induced stupor. Once I had gotten over the shock of the situation, I had hastily cleaned the still liquid blood before Nanatsu or Rumia had awoken, and had bandaged my wounds.

All of the wounds from that night had healed. And if it hadn't been for the fresh scar across my stomach and the fresh scars across my left wrist, I would've written it off as a nightmare... But it was real. I had hurt myself. Was it the guilt I had built up within me? The guilt I was no longer giving to my sword? Alastor was gone, after all...

After the fight with Mima, I had tried to summon it many times. I had called out to the blade of guilt, but it had refused to return to me... It had turned it's back on me after I had almost died against Mima.

So there I was... Unable to use my Reaper Sign spellcards due to the loss of my right hand (which had turned into a bony counterpart after the fight with Utsuho), I couldn't summon Alastor, I had this weird desire to just get drunk sometimes, and I had been mutilating myself...

Was I addicted to alcohol all of sudden? Or was this just a phase that was eventually going to end? And what about this night that I had mutilated myself? What was happening to me? It all had begun after I had defeated Mima... Was this my downfall?

And then of course, in the back of my mind, I was still fearing the transformation that the Unfocused World had announced after I had defeated it... It had said that I was slowly turning back into a mortal version of who and what I had once been... Sometimes, I awoke at night, cold sweat running down my forehead as I checked if I had become something more monster-like again.

Black bones, sharp fangs... Until now, the stages of my transformation had only made me less human. Not that I was human to begin with, I was a Youkai after all... Merely a Youkai with a humanic appearance. And I really wanted to stay that way. Not like I could do anything against this transformation, though...

"Where is Meiling, anyways?", I heard Nanatsu ask, and eventually realized that we had already crossed the garden and stood in front of the large doors to the Scarlet Devil Mansion. "Don't know.", I muttered, not yet fully back. I rose my right hand and balled it to a fist, knocked gently on the door, well aware that Sakuya would hear it, no matter where she was in the mansion.

And true enough, after merely a few seconds of waiting, which was uncharacteristically long for Sakuya, the door opened to reveal the head maid. A head maid that was in sheer panic. "Oh my god, it's you three!", she gasped in what appeared to be relief, "You're just in time! Please, you have to help me!"

I frowned at her, rose an eyebrow as I exchanged skeptical glances with my wives. "What's the problem?", I asked her, and Sakuya immediately stepped aside to let us in. "It's... Milady... And Meiling! And Patchouli-sama!", continued the apparently confused maid as she hurried towards the stairs with us in tow.

My gaze darted through the foyer in try to find anything that was out of usual, let alone a young and excited vampire, but everything seemed to be like it should. "What's with them?", I asked, not even trying to hide that I was irritated. "Geez, stop talking in riddles, Sakuya... You're usually not like this..." "They have started to behave all weird just this morning. The young lady and I have managed to hide within the dining hall until now..."

"So... What do you mean with weird?", asked Rumia before I could. She sounded irritated as well. "It all started when I prepared breakfast for Meiling... When I entered the kitchen, she was sitting there, drinking. And there were a lot of empty bottles around her. I could tell just by the smell that she was drunk as hell.", began Sakuya as we ascended the stairs.

"Meiling said that drinking was interesting, and refused to say anything else. I managed to get her out of the kitchen, but she just didn't want to stop drinking, no matter how drunk she was already... She's usually not this unreasonable." "That sounds like part of this incident...", commented Nanatsu as her expression became serious.

"Next was Milady... I went into her room to prepare milady for bed, but milady refused to say anything, and just made this weird sound...", continued Sakuya, "And when I went to the library to get the help of Patchouli-sama, I found to my shock that the entire library was redecorated to purple. And even worse, Lady Patchouli has begun to take a liking to cats..." "Cats? Patchouli?", I repeated with a frown.

"Definitely sounds like our incident.", commented the Shinigami as she leaned against the wall, while Sakuya hastily unlocked the doors to the dining room. As soon as they were, Sakuya pushed the doors open and hurried inside, with us following her right away. Once inside, Sakuya locked the door behind us.

"So, where are those four right now?", I asked. "Four? But...", began Nanatsu, but I stopped her. "Remi is interested in saying something, Meiling is interested in drinking, Patchouli is interested in cats and... Who is interested in the color purple?" "Oh, so you're saying...?" "Yeah. Koakuma."

"Well... I believe that Lady Patchouli and Koakuma would still be in Voile... I haven't seen them leave it.", muttered Sakuya, "Meiling is probably strolling around somewhere in the mansion with a bottle of wine... Or a few more. And Ojou-sama..." "Uuuh~!"

I froze, turned on my heels and looked down. "Ojou-sama is in here as well." I frowned at Remilia. She looked just like she always did... Dressed in a soft pink, her hair just as blue as usual, and she had the same smile... But... "Uuuh!" "Remi?", I asked quietly as I looked down at the mistress of the mansion. "Uuuuh~!", she called again, flailing her arms while a huge smile remained stuck on her lips.

"This is... actually pretty cute!", I thought and pulled a chair from the nearby table. I sat down on it and watched as Remi quickly sprinted to me. "Uuuuh!", she cooed and her wings flapped wildly. I smiled at her and placed a hand on her head, gently patting it. "This is really cute..." "It actually really is..."

"C-Chôzen? Perhaps you should stop...", began Nanatsu, trying to catch my attention, but I just continued to pat Remi's head. "A-ah! Chôzen, you should really stop! Chôzen! Your nose is bleeding!", called Nanatsu, not waving furiously with her arms. "Cuuuute~", I managed to exclaim... Right before something hit me across the face and made me fall out of my chair.

"I actually forgot... Milady has started to attack everyone who uses that word.", commented Sakuya, and as I glanced towards her, I found that she was holding a tissue to her nose, which had gained a slightly red color. "Which word?", I asked as I wiped the blood from my own nose, "Cute?" Immediately, Remi hit me again, this time actually with enough power for me to slide under the table.

"Hey, I was just asking Sakuya if the word was cute...!", I called out in shock... Only for Remilia to jump over the table, hitting me with yet another punch as she landed on top of me. "Ow! Stop punching me each time that I say cute... OW! I just told you to stop doing that, alright?!"

"Chôzen, stop saying that word!", shouted Nanatsu from somewhere, and I frowned. "Which word? Cute? Ow, damn it, Remi, stop that!" "No, the word 'ice cream'... Of course that word. Not being the smartest today, are we?", came Rumia's sarcastic reply. "Shut up, Rumia!", I growled as I pushed Remilia off me and rose to my full height.

"Big sis is behaving really weird today, isn't she? She even played with me.", commented Flandre, finally drawing my attention towards her. She was sitting in her usual chair, her arms crossed behind her head, her eyes closed and her feet resting on her table as she rocked her chair backwards and forwards.

"A bit...", I commented, glaring into the direction of the blue-haired vampire, which had settled down into a chair and was smiling in a cat-like way. "C-cute...", commented my Flame-Soul as it hovered towards the vampire. And before any of us knew, the dead princess shot out of her seat and right towards the Flame-Soul. It avoided, though... And Remilia ended up hitting the wall, blowing it up.

We all sweatdropped at the broken wall, before I just shook my head. "I think she heard you. Somehow." "It would not truly surprise me... He isn't exactly silent, is he?" "No, he isn't."

"So what now? We don't know if we can stop this weird behavior for each individual, or if we have to find the source to return them to normal...", muttered Nanatsu as she pushed herself off the table and stepped up to Sakuya. "We could try.", I offered, crossing my arms over my chest. "Well, aside Mima, we have not encountered one of the manipulated ones yet... We could try.", agreed Rumia.

"But not on Remilia.", we all agreed at the same time as we stared over to the knocked out vampire. "After all... Who knows just how many more trigger she has? I mean...", began Rumia, but was stopped by Nanatsu, who quickly put a hand over her mouth. "Don't say it!", scolded Nana, causing Rumia to frown. "Why shouldn't she say cute? Remi is knocked out, see?", I commented and pointed at Remi.

The vampire twitched, but did not get up.

"She did go out like a light. Interested or not, a wall is not supposed to be in the way of your forehead.", commented my Flame-Soul with a snicker. "Guess so...", I muttered aloud, but then shrugged and nodded towards Sakuya, "I don't think we'll find Meiling... That'll leave us with Koa and Patchy." Some nods agreed to my words, and we all turned to Sakuya. The head maid nodded and turned to the locked door to the foyer.

"Imouto-sama, please stay here and watch over your older sister. We can't let her run around like that.", instructed the head maid as she turned the key in it's lock. But long before it was entirely turned, some sounds reached our ears from the other side of the door.

"Whoops...! Ow! Ouch! Ah! Owwie! Ow...! Ah!"

We all shared confused glance and I frowned at Sakuya, who was blushing a bit. "I think we found Meiling.", commented the head maid as she finally opened the door and revealed the foyer to us. And at the foot of a large flight of stairs, laying there like a limp doll, lay Hong Meiling. Her clothes were torn, her beret the wrong way round, her green dress backwards on. Her eyes were red and barely open, and she was humming some happy tune...

...Hong Meiling was horribly drunk. And was out like a light.

"At least we know where she is now. Still won't help us if she is knocked out. We have to try on someone who is awake and manipulated if we can free them somehow.", mused Nanatsu as she approached the knocked out guard, "Once we find out if there is a way to stop this, we search for the source of this." "Geez, you let it sound like it's some kind of infection that is going to spread...", I growled with a shrug and began to descend the stairs back down into the ground floor.

It was time to pay Patchy a visit, after all. "Who knows?", commented Nanatsu with a shrug, "It could be some kind of infection. I'd suggest as less contact as possible with the infected..." I frowned a bit at the new name for the ones that were behaving out of character, but did not say anything. After all, we had yet to prove that it was not the case, even though I highly doubted that it was some kind of infection or spread like one... Eirin would've known or said, even if she was infected.

My steps lead me around the corner into the corridor that led to the magic library. I was almost immediately followed by the three females, leaving Meiling at the bottom of the stairs. There was no sense in actually trying something to wake her. Not only was she knocked out, but hopelessly drunk.

And that led us to Patchouli and Koakuma.

The corridor was left behind pretty quick and the doors to Voile flew open as I pushed them. Voile looked indeed different to before. The red carpet was replaced with a purple one, or at least dyed purple. The books had stayed untouched, but the dark brown wood of the bookshelves had a light purple hue to it as well.

Looking up to the ceiling, I found that the electric lights were all turned off, purple flames hovering underneath them, leaving the room in a purple hue. The windows had all been shut, some kind of purple, organic matter grown all over them, allowing no light in.

Voile reminded me a bit of Makai in that state, due to the organic matter that covered the windows.

"Urgh... Looks like a maze from one of Kaguya's videogames...", I commented as I took the details of the changed library in. "Figures that the first thing you'd be thinking about would be something from the outside world... Sometimes, you're no better than Sanae.", huffed Nanatsu as she walked past me into the library.

"Where should we look for Patchouli Knowledge?", asked Rumia going into something I had dubbed 'mission mode' behind her back... If there was something serious up, some kind of mission or errand, Rumia changed from her usual, playful self into a more serious and sarcastic self which had it's mind set on finishing the assignment.

"It is highly unlikely that Patchouli is moving within the walls of Voile... Koakuma takes care of these small tasks, including getting books, tea and snacks.", I muttered, thinking back to my time of living inside the Scarlet Devil Mansion. "That has not changed. Patchouli-sama is usually sitting at one of her favorite locations.", confirmed the maid.

"There are seven desks inside Voile that Patchouli normally uses to read. She is most likely at one of these locations... She prefers the one in the middle of Voile the most.", I explained and followed Nanatsu with Rumia and Sakuya. "If we do not find her at one of these locations, she should be at the eight possible location... The 'sunlight' corner, a corner of Voile in which no books are.", I added.

"I know that area. Patchouli-sama uses it it for spells that require natural sunlight.", commented Sakuya as we caught up to Nanatsu and moved deeper into the library, heading for it's very center. "Didn't you break through the skylight of that area a while ago?", chuckled the head maid. "Yeah. After you chased me through the entire mansion. I fell out of that window because of you.", I snarled.

The head maid shrugged and closed her eyes. "You walked in on me and Mei.", she replied. "Meh.", I grumbled back and slipped my hands into my pockets. Sakuya had won that round. I should've been more considerate. "I don't even want to know, I think...", grumbled Rumia and rolled her eyes, "He walked in on me and Nanatsu as well, after all."

Sakuya and Rumia shared a short glance, exchanged expressions that I couldn't quite understand, and then turned back towards the direction we were walking in. Nanatsu looked over her shoulder for a short moment, asked me where to go without words, and I replied by nodding to the right. Nanatsu nodded in response, and turned right. Sakuya and Rumia followed, me right behind them.

It became quiet again as we did so, silence spread as we neared the center of the library. I turned my head, shifted my gaze to the nearest bookshelf and began scanning titles out of boredom. I couldn't read most of them, written in runes that I was unable to decipher. The remaining books were consisting of guides to elemental magic, which led me to believe that the books regarding elemental magic were neatly placed in the bookshelf.

An intersection followed, and the girls continued straight ahead, but I froze as I spotted something... It was Koakuma.

The little devil stood in front of a half empty bookshelf, carried a stack of them with her let hand, while her right hand picked up the book at the top of the stack and placed it inside the bookshelf, only to repeat this.

It didn't look like Koakuma was one of those that Nanatsu had dubbed 'the infected'... She behaved entirely normal. No obsession in any sense, she behaved like always, worked hard and sorted the new books that Patchouli had acquired, or the ones that they had gotten back from Marisa... How, I had yet to find out. All I knew was that Marisa had complained that some of 'her' books had vanished mysteriously.

My guess: Either Sakuya was using her time manipulation to finally get those books back, or Alice has secretly been passing them back to Patchouli.

"Koakuma!", I exclaimed, earning a flinch from the red-haired succubus. She almost dropped her books, but quickly regained balance and stabilized the shaking tower of books in her left hand. A quick glare was cast into my direction and I took a step back, quickly raising my hands to the height of my chest, taking a defensive stance.

"S-sorry. Didn't mean to scare you.", I chuckled uneasily. "Geez, back to first acting, then thinkin', eh?", inquired my Flame-Soul in an amused tone, orbiting my head a little faster than usual, only to come to a stop to the right of it. "Well, serves you right."

I ignored the obnoxious thing and quickly took a few steps towards the succubus, but remained in a safe distance. Last time I got too close, I almost ended up... Yeah. Let's just say that I didn't forget the time that I suddenly became all sadistic and kissed and bit her in front of Patchy, Okuu and Rin. And I didn't forget that this little event actually confused my senses for days, making me 'fall in love' with almost every girl I saw.

"Now that's a sight! Heya, Chôz.", greeted Koakuma eventually, a light blush tinting her cheeks a soft pink, "Back for more, after all?" I tilted my head a little and frowned at her. "Hm?", I muttered, not catching her hint. That changed when Koakuma leant against the bookshelf she had put books in and wriggled her body a little, before she eventually sled the index finger of her right, free hand over her full lips and began licking on it, while her eyes narrowed a bit.

And for the first time ever, I noticed the small detail that Koakuma indeed wore a little bit of black eyeshadow, giving her eyes a more mysterious look... But had she always worn it?

Anyways, I finally caught her drift and began to blush. "Uhm... Th-that's not it! I'm back with Nana and Rumia, and you know that!", I complained, coughed to hide my embarrassment. "Hmhmhm, I know~ But it's such so much fun to tease you! You're an interesting individual.", chuckled the succubus as she pushed herself off the shelf with a noticeable moan.

I blushed madly and watched as she stepped over to a small table and placed the books she carried on the table. "May I inquire why you are here then if not for me?", asked the succubus as she hopped onto the table aside the books and crossed her legs, placed an elbow just above her knee and leaned onto her hand.

It was definitely not on purpose, but when I noticed that Koakuma's dress was unbuttoned a bit at top, giving me (perhaps on purpose) a rather enjoyable view of her attractive collarbone and her cleavage, I had a hard time keeping my gaze from trailing down.

"Just what is wrong with her? Is she one of these 'infected' after all? Usually, she's shy and keeps in the background, but now she is behaving all... Slutty?", I mused in silence as Koakuma licked her lips a bit. "My guess: She IS NOT a shy person, but actually like A SUCCUBUS usually is. Perverted, slutty, straight-forward... Sadistic..." "I get it! Now shut up... It's only a theory of yours." "Oh no, I know her real self! If you'd seen what I've seen..."

The mysterious and suggestive tone in Insanity's voice made me frown a bit, but I chose to ignore him again in order to find out if the succubus was manipulated or not. "I don't know if it has reached your ears, but...", I began, only to be interrupted by the succubus. "Oh, your teeth have once reached my ears as well, and I loved it~", moaned Koakuma, making my mouth actually fall open.

"She's flirting with me!" "She's flirting with you!" "I want a pizza when we get home."

I never actually registered Insanity's words, nor that of the Flame-Soul. "A-As I was going to say...", I somehow managed to utter, "It may have not reached your ears yet, but several beings in Gensokyo have been manipulated and are now obsessed with things." Koakuma didn't look in the slightest surprised, instead, the impish smile remained on her face.

"Oh, I know that. I've been manipulated as well, but the effect didn't last long.", admitted Koakuma as she rose her head a little and stretched herself. "She's... Surprisingly calm." "You were? How come you are no longer?", I inquired and tilted my head a little. "Don't know. I had this craving to turn everything purple this morning, dyed the entire carpet and summoned those lovely layers of demonic matter from where I was born.", she smiled and returned to her relaxed position.

"It just wore off? Huh. As far as I know, Mima has been manipulated for far more than twenty four hours, and you have been manipulated only this morning.", I commented, but Koakuma just shrugged. "And where is the place you've been born, anyways?", I added. And at this, the impish smile on Koakuma's lips turned into a mischievous grin. "But you already know, don't you... 'Brother'?"

The last word was spoken with a mocking tone to it, making me wonder why'd she call me brother even though I clearly had no real siblings, since I actually had no mother or father, being born from emotions. And even if there would've been another Youkai born by the same emotions, it would never be genetically related to me...

The rest of my inner confusion was cut short when I realized that she was referring to to the girls that had just recently become my "sisters"... After Shinki had adopted me!

"I just realized that Gensokyo doesn't know pizza... And they don't deliver to here... Damn it."

"W-wait! You're from Makai?!", I gasped as realization kicked in, and not the same that Insanity just had. "Obviously.", chuckled the succubus and winked, "But please, do not view me as your sister. I am actually not one of Shinki's creations. I have lived in Makai before Shinki has turned it into what it is today... I was around before Shinki appeared in Makai."

This new revelation changed my view of the succubus again, made me wonder who and what she really was. "By the way... What happened to your shyness?", I eventually asked, slowly beginning to believe that Insanity may have some points in this theory of his.

"Oh, Chôz, but it's just the two of us right now...", she giggled as she rose from the table and stretched herself again, before she stalked over to me. "K-Koakuma! Your aura will affe...!" "Oh, Chôz, you know nothing about me... Don't worry. Just relax... I promise, it won't hurt. Much." "H-hurt...?! What the hell are you talking about?!", I gasped, my body frozen and unable to move. Koakuma giggled melodically, her voice slowly turning into it's otherworldly counterpart.

She finally reached me, sled a finger across my chest as she rounded me with slow steps, then let the back of the same hand glide over my right cheek, eventually vanished from my sight, now behind me. "I can be open around you... I am not shy when it comes to you. I can say what I think...", whispered her voice into my left ear, two hands sliding around my waist.

"And I think... That you are certainly an interesting individual. And I don't think that because I am manipulated... Also, I think that you... A certainly attractive.", she continued, her hot breath tickling my neck and earlobe. "And now you're about to see what I saw!"

A tongue sled over my neck, and sharp teeth began to gnaw on my earlobe. "K-Koakuma! S-Stop this right now!", I gasped, still unable to move, even though I was unsure why. Was this another effect of a succubus' aura? Not only attracting, but also stunning...?

...Koakuma was certainly stunning.

Finally, the gnawing turned into soft kisses, which increasingly got more violent as she moved over my neck to the other side, then down to my right shoulder. And I finally realized what she really wanted, a déjá vu suddenly kicking in. "Oh, she's after my..:!" "Bon appétit!", chuckled Koakuma as she opened her mouth wide and lowered it on my shoulder...

A moan escaped my mouth.

A moan of pain escaped my mouth as the peaks of Koakuma's sharp teeth grazed my flesh... and suddenly moved across my entire back from the right shoulder to the left, making me cry out as a sharp pain shot through me.

I tensed up, glared towards Koakuma, but found her in the almost empty bookshelf she had learned against earlier. She groaned, had crashed into the bookshelf, and thus had splintered wood all around her. Turning into the other direction, I found Rumia frowning at me. "Quite a lot of resistance you put up there, hot stuff.", commented Rumia with a sarcastic huff, crossing her arms in beneath her chest.

"Thanks for saving me. She almost...!"

I winced as Rumia crossed the distance between us, grabbed the collar of my shirt and pulled it down like Koakuma had, only more violently, exposing my right shoulder to her. She examined it, then sighed. "She really just tried to eliminate the scar I made by creating a new one!", huffed the angel of death as she glared at the bitemarks on my shoulder.

I chuckled uneasily, remembered that Rumia had bitten me there after our wedding. Crazy, possessive girl.

The Angel of Death turned towards the succubus after letting go of me. "Listen up! This man is mine! I've sworn to him, and myself, that the only person I'd ever share him with would be Nanatsu no Taizai! And I am not going to let you take away my reason for life and my cause of death! Chôzen is my death wish, you heard me?!", snarled the fallen angel, huffed aloud, and then turned away. I watched as she left and eventually turned vanished behind a bookshelf. "You're coming, Chô? The center of the library should be nearby!", she hollered.

"I'll be there in a sec!", I called back, but then turned to Koakuma with an apologetic smile. "She's possessive.", I chuckled uneasily as I approached the succubus a little, but did not get too close to her. Even though I had just experienced that she apparently was able to control who to seduce with her powers and who not, I really did not desire to suddenly end up with my tongue down her throat again.

"But really, Koa, what was that about? You're flirting with me, try to seduce me, and even mark me...?", I inquired without the amusement while I raised an eyebrow at her, "And how the hell were you able to control your powers all of sudden?"

The succubus let out a melodic laugh as she pushed herself up and dusted herself off. She didn't seem to be disturbed in the slightest by the fact that she had just been thrown through a bookshelf. "Amusement.", she replied with a single shrug, "I love to mess with your head. Especially that of your insane side, but you're not too bad yourself~"

I ignored the suggestive tone in her voice, frowned and crossed my arms in front of my chest. "Uh-huh. And what's with the new attitude?", I added. This did it for Koakuma. She suddenly cracked up, threw her head back as her sexy laughter echoed through Voile. I felt a chill running down my spine and felt how the tone of the laughter began to affect me. "D-damn, same effect as her aura..."

"Oh, you'd like to know, huh?", laughed the succubus librarian as she began to calm down. Her eyes, slightly narrowed and glowing in glee, focused on me. Her mouth opened a bit and curled up into the nastiest and yet sexiest smirk I had ever seen, and she gently bit down on her tongue, apparently to stop herself from breaking into another fit of laughter.

"Damn straight! You're nowhere like the Koakuma I knew!", I insisted. Koakuma, however, just twirled on the spot, giggled in glee, and stopped again. "You'll figure out on your own eventually!", she snickered and tilted her head a bit.

I turned my gaze away and growled to myself under my breath, irritated at the succubus behavior. Was she like this because Patchy was not watching her? Impossible... It had to be something else. But that was not the problem right now... I had to solve the other problem first.

"Look, Koa, I'm not in the mood for this... Where's Patchy? We fear she is a victim of this manipulation as well...", I grumbled, frowning at the strange behaving succubus. "She is no longer one of the 'infected', and yet she's behaving out of character..." "Dude, I'm telling you... That is her character." "Insanity, this theory of yours is going on my nerves. I've lived under the same roof as Koakuma once, and she has never behaved like this!"

"You want to know where Patchouli-sama is?", smiled Koakuma, and for the first time since I had entered Voile, actually behaved somewhat like she always did. The gentle smile she usually carried returned and she crossed her arms behind her back, blushing.

BOOM!

All of sudden, an explosion occurred only a few bookshelves away, and the ground shook madly. I facefaulted almost immediately. "Wait. Don't answer that question. I know the answer already.", I groaned, earning a chuckle from the succubus. "How'd you figure that out?", she replied with sarcasm practically dripping from her voice. I watched as she rolled her eyes, then rolled my own eyes. "Violent girlfriend. You just experienced that yourself."

Twirling on the spot, I turned to look into the direction where the explosion had occurred, and facepalmed once I saw the huge cloud of smoke. "Sometimes I just hate that she has to be so violent. Bet she and Patchy started a fight...", I grumbled. "Good luck. I'm going to put those remaining books back.", smiled Koakuma and picked the books up that she had placed on the table before.

"Have fuuuun~", she exclaimed over her shoulder and took off without as much as a goodbye. I rolled my eyes and began to stalk back to the intersection from before. Turning right now, I broke into a sprint, eager to find out the reason for the wall of smoke right before me. But it was that moment that someone stumbled out of it.

She stumbled right into my arms, coughed violently. I pulled her into an embrace immediately and supported her weight. "Rumia?! Rumia, what happened?!", I demanded to know, shook the Angel of Death gently. Rumia growled a bit and looked up. "I'm right in front of you, no need to scream like that!", she snarled.

I frowned, since I hadn't screamed at all, but turned to stare past her, exchanged a frown with Nanatsu as she stumbled out of the smoke as well. "Patchouli's gone crazy.", stated my first wife and dusted herself off, "She was sitting on a couch, surrounded by sixty cats or something, including Rin Kaenbyou and Chen. She was patting Chen's head, Ran appeared from a gap all of sudden and knocked into Patchouli, the couch fell over and knocked a table over..."

"And the explosion?", I asked. "Some colorful bottles on that table. One splashed it's contents all over Rumia, she cursed out loud... And the remaining bottles shattered, the liquids mixed, and then the library went boom!" I rolled my eyes at the end of Nanatsu's sentence due to the way she put it.

"What about Patchy, Rin, Ran and Chen?", I inquired, while Rumia was still coughing violently, "And what's with Rumia's coughing?" "The explosion occurred right to Rumia's feet and she inhaled most of the smoke. And Patchouli is knocked out, Rin was sent flying by the explosion and hit a bookshelf, and Ran dragged Chen back into the gap.", replied Nanatsu and approached me.

And when I saw something twitch out of the corner of my eyes, I turned my gaze into that direction, wondered what would twitch on top of Rumia's head... And suddenly found myself stumbling backwards as blood shot out of my nose. "SO CUTE!"

"C-Chô?!", I heard Rumia gasp. My lower back hit a small table with a light blue vase on, a red flower inside, and I leaned onto that table, stopping my stumbling. "Oh my... Adorable~", I heard Nanatsu giggle, and I rose my right hand to hold my nose, stopping the blood. Slowly, I rose my head, which I had thrown backwards, and stared at Rumia with a blissful smile.

"Woah... That is really adorable!" "I... I don't know why, but... I wanna pet her! Can I?" "Why are you two staring at me like that?", asked Rumia, looking back and forth in between Nanatsu and me. Both Nanatsu and I were blushing madly as we averted our gazes from Rumia.

"WHAT?! Chô! 'Natsu! Why are you being like that?!" Another twitch. Seems to happen if she's irritated... "Hey! Stop giggling you two!" Another twitch, this one violent. Gah! Why does she have to be so cute like that?! I never thought I was into that... "TELL ME! WHY ARE YOU...?!" "N-neko!"

I bit onto my lower lip as I turned back to Nanatsu and Rumia, my gaze immediately focusing on the addition to Rumia's head, which was still twitching as she continued to fume, even though she also had a questioning frown on her face. "What do you mean with 'neko'?", growled the Angel of Death. And I really had to bite down on my own lip to not reach out and pet Rumia's head. "I hate it when I discover that I am into something...!"

"You... Rumia... On... Your head!", gasped Nanatsu, her hands twitching slightly. "So she's into this too...!" Rumia frowned, turned fully to Nanatsu... And as I saw her back, I discovered that there was yet another addition to Rumia. And I couldn't hold back anymore.

I released my lower lip and rose my hands, crossed the distance between me and Rumia, and then placed my right hand on top of her head. Immediately, Rumia flinched. I almost expected her to turn around and snap at me for this move, but instead, she began to purr.

She purred. Just like a cat!

"C-cat ears.", brought Nanatsu finally forth as she watched how I gently stroke Rumia's new, blonde cat ears. "And a cat's tail!", I added as I mustered the blonde cat's tail that swayed back and forth as Rumia purred. "I could get used to this.", I chuckled and enjoyed it as Rumia began to snuggle into me.

"Leave some for me as well!", complained Nanatsu and approached us quickly. I let go of Rumia's head, and the Angel of Death immediately snapped out of her stupor. "Hey, stop doing this to muuuuh..." Her complaint was quickly ended and became a moan, which eventually turned into a purr again as Nanatsu began to pet her. "Her ears are all soft! She's just like a real cat!", smiled Nanatsu, blushing madly.

"She's way cuter than Chen!", We declared in unison and began to pet the 'Neko of Death' together. Death by cuteness. "NO WAY!", roared another voice and a gap opened up to Nanatsu's right, "CHEN IS CUTER! The gap opened wide and Ran shot out of it, one foot extended. It slammed into the side of Nanatsu's head and pushed her away from Rumia.

I watched with a small smirk as Ran and Nanatsu rolled over the ground and struggled for dominance, all while I continued to pet Rumia. "Now Rumia's mine!", I sniggered in my mind as I continued to stroke the weak point behind her right cat ear. But it was then that I realized something, something that I couldn't help but chuckle about. "Ha! And I even said 'cute' without...!"

CLONG! "Uuuuh!"

A foot hit the side of my face and, much like Nanatsu, I was pushed away from Rumia, was ripped off my feet and hit the ground with my face first, the manipulated Remi standing atop my head as my face sled over the ground.

At the same moment that I stopped rubbing her cat ears, Rumia snapped out of her stupor for the second time. Immediately becoming irritated with the situation, her ears began to twitch again and her tail swayed left and right rather quickly. She twirled into our direction and pointed an accusing finger at all of us; even Remi and Ran.

"How dare you all taking advantage of my current state! You fiends!", screamed the 'Cat of cute Death'. I pushed Remi off me and rose my head, glanced towards Rumia. "B-But...!", I began, "You're so cute!" Rumia facefaulted immediately, and I mirrored her action the moment that I saw my own mistake.

Remi's foot slammed into the side of my head again, slamming my face into the floorboards aside the purple carpet, right in front of a bookshelf. "Let go off me, Ran! Go and take care of Yukari or something!", shouted Nanatsu as she continued to struggle with the mad kitsune. "Take it back first! Chen is the cutest cat ever!", hollered the kitsune, who had Nanatsu in a headlock and sat on her back.

"Rumia is way cuter like she is now!", countered the Shinigami. "No!", screamed Ran. All this screaming got me irritated as well and I began to swing my arms around wildly to push Remi away from me. When I didn't find Remi with that, I snarled and pulled my arms back to push me up. I placed them on the ground and growled, rose my head quickly... A bit too quick. My head hit the top of the lowest compartment and a dull pain flooded my head, causing me to growl and curse aloud, especially as the books of the compartment above fell onto my back.

"What is with all this madness?!", roared Rumia the moment that I finally sat up and turned to her, even though I was holding my head due to the pain. "Like I know...", I grumbled, the pain enough for me to distract me from the desire to pet her again. "To hell with this incident. Scratch what I said before, I already don't want to solve it anymore. Let's just go home and wait until Shikieiki allows us to raise a barrier around the house.", grumbled the Cat-Angel of Death.

"Wish we could do that, but I don't want an angry Yuuka chasing my ass around.", I hissed and rose to my feet, moved my neck and then glared around, took in the chaos. Rumia was half a neko, Remi was standing around all passive, Ran and Nanatsu were wrestling on the ground... And somehow, I wasn't surprised in the slightest. It just came with Gensokyo, I guess... The land was chaotic enough already, a little more chaos didn't really surprise anyone anymore.

"Okay, time to resolve this chaos...!", I declared and shared a short glance with Rumia, barely able to resist the urge to pet Rumia again, and she nodded. Turning back to the rest of the chaos, I closed my eyes. "Remi, go to Saku...", I froze, "Where is Sakuya anyways?"

"She went all frigid and weird when the center of the library blew up, and then began to clean it.", snarled Nanatsu, still struggling against the grip of the kitsune. "Say that Chen is the cutest cat around!", commanded Ran, only to be finally thrown off by Nanatsu. The Shinigami lunged at the Kitsune, slammed her into the ground, jumped onto her back and pinned her down. "Rumia is!"

"Guess Sakuya went into maid mode there...", I muttered to no one in particular and shook my head, "Back to the topic! Remi, go find Flan and play with her! Pick up Meiling on the way! Ran, let go of Nanatsu! Chen is the cutest nekomata around, and Rumia the cutest half-neko! Nanatsu, please stop beating Ran up, same reason. And Rumia...! Stay that cute!" I took Remi's next punch, it was worth it.

To my surprise, Remi actually turned around after that and jumped off, laughing to herself while repeatedly singing "Uuuuh!". "Thanks, Remi...", I sighed, and turned to Nanatsu and Ran, who had stopped wrestling. "I guess I can accept that.", grumbled Ran and pushed Nanatsu off her. "Yukari-sama.", she then called out, and a gap appeared beside her, into which she vanished. "I have to agree.", muttered Nanatsu as well and huffed while she crossed her arms beneath her chest. "Thanks, Nana.", I smiled, and turned to Rumia.

She frowned at me as she crossed her arms beneath her chest and tilted her head a little, gave me the 'what-are-you-looking-at-me-for' expression. And in return, I merely gave her a playful thumbs up. "You did your job the best, Rumia! You stayed cute the whole time!", I exclaimed... And leaned a little to the right, avoiding Remi's flying kick that way. I should've known she would be back as soon as that word fell.

Makes me wonder in what way she was manipulated. After all, each manipulated person was having a weird interest all of sudden. Like Koakuma, who had been interested in purple, and Meiling, who was still interested in drinking. So what was Remilia interested in? Was there, like, multiple interests in one?

"No time for a joke, Chô.", huffed the Cat-Angel of Death, scratching her new ears a little in a cat-like manner. This almost earned a new nosebleed from me, which I managed to hold back. "Sorry.", I chuckled and rolled my shoulders a bit. The pain was finally gone. "Whatever. What now? Go and look if we can find the manipulated Patchouli? Or should we just leave and see if there is someone else that we can...?"

"Kitty...!", breathed a deep, scary voice, interrupting Nanatsu's words. Both the Shinigami and I turned towards Rumia, only to find the Angel of Death, which had become half a neko against her will, had her eyes wide and her mouth slightly open. A pale hand was on each side of her head, about to grab her. "Rumia!", I gasped and made a jump towards the involuntary neko, but the pale hands grabbed her and pulled her out of my way, resulting in me landing on my feet where Rumia had stood before.

Turning to my left, I glared at the person that had her hands on the involuntary neko's shoulders, and glared back. "Patchy...!", I growled. The pale librarian narrowed her eyes. "Cats are interesting, are they not?", she replied, using the word that was trademark for the 'infected' (aside Remi, since she pretty much didn't talk at all anymore): Interesting.

"That is my cat you're holding there.", I growled, narrowing my eyes at the librarian as I felt anger seep through. "It's interesting, nonetheless.", replied Patchouli with a small smile. "Oh, but you know what they say, Patchy...", I began and slowly approached her, "...Curiosity killed the cat."

Before Patchouli knew, I had pulled Rumia away from her, kicked the librarian's feet away, and turned into the direction of Voile's entrance and exit to the ground floor. "We're leaving, Nana!", I shouted, Rumia thrown over my right shoulder. The half-neko had a confused smile on her lips and was staring straight ahead with wide eyes. Apparently, she had yet to figure out what just had happened.

"Got it!", shouted Nanatsu back, and quickly ran up to me. "NO, MY INTERESTING KITTY!", I heard Patchouli scream, but I knew that she'd get over it once she noticed that there were still cats strolling around the library. And once she'd snap out of this manipulation, she'd be raging.

The entrance to Voile flew open as Nanatsu ran into it with her left shoulder first, and we quickly rushed down the corridor, windows and light rushed by as we ran back into the Foyer of the mansion. "Ugh...", I growled as I eventually sat Rumia down and fell against a wall., "That went well."

The two women frowned at my sarcasm, but then nodded. "Indeed.", agreed the Shinigami and crossed her arms beneath her chest as she closed her eyes. "How do I get rid of this now?", huffed Rumia as she scratched her blonde cat ears again. "Don't know. Hit your heels together and wish for it or something.", I mocked, "Alternatively, you could wait for it to wear off. And if that doesn't happen, we can always ask Patchy once she's back to normal."

This comment earned me a glare from the Angel of Death, but she shrugged. "Guess you're right." "What now?", asked Nanatsu. "We're going to look elsewhere. I'd suggest we go to the Myouren Temple. Byakuren should be able to help us. And I bet at least one of them is manipulated already. I bet it's either Shou or Kogasa.", I replied, cackling a bit to myself.

"Alright, fine with me. At least it's a lead. Somewhat.", grumbled the frustrated Shinigami. "You're feeling down because of that unfinished fight with Ran, huh? ", I asked her with a small chuckle, "Rub Rumia's cat ears a little. It'll do wonders." The Angel of Death flinched. "What?! No way, I'm not... Purrrrrrrr..."

I couldn't contain my laughter as I watched Nanatsu rubbing Rumia's cat ears, immediately shutting the Angel of Death up. "Ah yes, the body can do things to you...!" "You're right, it's working.", giggled Nanatsu and gently pushed Rumia a bit, gesturing her to move towards the door aside me. I chuckled and pushed off the wall I had leaned against.

Taking the three steps to my right, I pushed the door open and let the daylight of Gensokyo flood the room. It was still early in the morning, and we had more than enough time to find the reason for this incident. I just hoped we would find it before the sun had completely set, since I was not too eager to run around at night due to past experiences.

Rumia and Nanatsu walked out of the door before me, and Rumia almost fell down the stairs because of being distracted by Nanatsu's gentle stroking of her ears, but the two of them eventually managed and stood at the lower end of the stairs leading up to the door of the mansion as I stepped outside as well.

"Alright, as far as we know, Mima is interested in Yuuka, Reimu is interested in Yukari according to Yuuka, Cirno is interested in walls, Remilia seems to have taken an interest in reacting with and to certain words, Meiling is interested in drinking like an Oni, Koakuma was interested in the color purple, and Patchy is interested in cats.", I grumbled as I stood outside the dimly lit mansion and stretched my limbs.

"Yeah. Not exactly the best way to start all of this. I'm a little scared right now what others could be interested in... We should stay careful.", reasoned Nanatsu. "Yep. Some of these interests could be quite scary or even dangerous.", I agreed, "But you have to admit, though... Remi was really cute when she kept on repeating 'uuuh!'...!"

"Uuuuh!"

Promptly, the heel of a scarlet colored shoe hit the back of my head and knocked me forward. I lost my balance and ended up falling down the stairs, eating a whole lot of dry dirt and dust as I hit the ground in front of the stairs, while small feet landed not too far away from my face.

Before anyone could do something, the small vampire, armed with a parasol that shielded her from the sun, fled the scene. We could only watch in terror as Remilia began to bounce up and down as she approached the metal gate, which we had left open on accident, and eventually vanished into the forest just outside the mansion's grounds.

I shared a shocked glance with both Nanatsu and Rumia, before a strong killing intent suddenly filled the air, letting a feeling of dread arise within me.

"Remi just escaped... She's going to wreak havoc on Gensokyo.", I muttered, before I finally realized where the killing intent came from. It came from the mansion behind me.

Still lying on the dusty path that lead from the gate, around the fountain, up to the mansion's entrance, I took a sharp breath and felt a cold chill run down my spine.

"Sakuya is going to be pissed."


The cold air brushed past my cheeks and my hair fluttered wildly as the wind rushed past us. The mansion lay far behind us, and the Gensokyo beneath us had long become a dead wasteland that nobody had set foot into. The trees were dead, had shed their leaves long ago, and the leaves that still hung on the dry and broken branches, were brown and shriveled.

I shuddered a little, the cold air chilling me to the bone. Summer had long passed, and Gensoyko was awaiting a very cold winter. Not that we would experience it, that means if the Yama would all agree to our selfish request. "Thinking of cold... Where was that Kayako chick, anyways?" "Don't know. Possibly working in the basement as usual."

"Hey, 'natsu... What's wrong?", I heard Rumia ask, and turned to look over my shoulder. The first thing I saw was Rumia and her adorable cat ears, but I quickly tore my gaze away from them and looked at Nanatsu. Indeed, my first wife did have a bit of a pained expression. "I think I sprained my ankle during our escape...!", grumbled Nanatsu, gesturing down to her left leg.

"Hm...", I muttered, and glanced down to the ground beneath us, "Should we land for a moment? We're close to the temple, anyways, so I guess a moment of rest should be okay." Nanatsu nodded, and I nodded back. Changing my course a little, I felt how the breeze against my face became less and less, and as the ground came closer, I twisted my body a little for a save landing.

My feet set down on the graveled path of the Myouren graveyard, and after three steps, I finally came to a stop. Rumia landed next, stopped right aside me, and I took the chance to make a small surprise attack. Rumia began to purr the moment that my hands touched her new cat ears. Nanatsu landed eventually, and sat down onto a small wall that reached up to her hip.

I watched a bit as Nanatsu began to examine her ankle, and even from the distance, I saw that it was red and swollen. Just our luck. "Are you okay?", I asked, not once stopping the movement of my left hand, which gently stroke the spot right behind Rumia's right cat ear. "I'll be eventually, don't worry. Just give me five minutes and I should be okay...", she muttered and closed her eyes, just as her palms began to glow white.

The white energy in her palms made me flinch madly, I froze and stared at the white light. Pictures of my fight against Mima flashed before my eyes, I remembered how Nanatsu had revealed that she and Rumia had trained while I had retreated into Makai for two entire months. Nanatsu had revealed then that she had developed a healing magic, while Rumia had pretty much just learned how to pour darkness into magic, which had no further effect, and yet had managed to break Yuuka out of Mima's control.

I snapped out of these thoughts pretty quickly. And as I did, I felt something rise within me. It was like a beast that had just awoken, a desire spreading through me. I hissed and glared down at the ground, fought against the desire. It was the same sick desire that had plagued me ever since my fight with Mima. It was the desire to drown my sorrows, fears, problems, desires and everything else.

And as I fought this wicked desire, the other desire began to wake again, the desire that I had hoped to be just a drunken stupor. My gaze rested on my left arm, the pale skin that was exposed just above my hand, and I suddenly felt the need to mar it, to cut it apart. I wanted nothing more than to bite down on it, I wanted to hurt myself, wanted to break me.

Before I knew, saliva gathered in my mouth. The liquid ran down my sharp teeth, which I had gained as the first step of transforming back into the mortal version of the higher being I once had been. The saliva dropped to the ground as I opened my mouth, my tongue suddenly desired the sensation of the taste of iron, which was gained only through blood. I wanted to stain my own hand in scarlet.

The scarlet of blood. Of my own blood!

My body began to tremble and I balled my right hand into a fist. My left arm had long began to feel numb. I rose it, slowly, fought against the desire, but to no avail. My mouth opened as the wrist came closer. My breath quickened, my heartbeat echoed in my ears. I wanted nothing more than to hurt me, but at the same time, I didn't want to.

The hand came closer, the saliva in my mouth increased. The closer the hand came, the quicker became my breath. Maybe I had to hurt myself after all. Maybe this wouldn't feel so wrong once I had done it. Who knows? Maybe this way, I could stop all of my bad feelings without drowning them in alcohol. Maybe this was the way it was supposed to.

The tip of my teeth touched the skin, my tongue licked over it once. My breath hit it, and a cold sensation ran through me. Just one bite... Just one time. Just once pain. Just one time and all would be right. I had to satisfy my crave for blood. For my own blood.

"I'M DYIIIIIIIIIIING!"

The voice that hollered into my ear snapped me out of my trance. I pulled the wrist out of my mouth, my eyes wide in shock. Twirling towards the direction that the voice had come from, I stared wide-eyed at the woman before me, stumbled backwards.

I fell onto my ass, stared up at the crying undead that stood before me.

And then, I looked down at my hand again. "What was that about...?! I was about to hurt myself!"

I couldn't really believe what had almost happened. I was scared of self-mutilation, downright afraid of it. So why had I been about to hurt myself?!

Yeah, that's it. My greatest fear, how unlikely may sound, is not death, and not loss of myself. It is not the loss of memories, not the loss of existence, and not the fear of being tortured. I do fear those, I do fear to lose Nanatsu and Rumia, but that would rather throw into anger or depression.

No. What I was really scared of, my greatest fear, was self-mutilation. I feared to hurt myself, was downright scared of it. The sight of my hand guiding a blade to my skin would turn me mad, and if it drew blood, I would just... I don't know what I would. It was like a phobia. I have many of those, I am far from perfect.

My body was not, I knew that, even though it could do things many would envy me for, like regeneration or resurrection, even though the latter one greatly scarred my soul. Death is not pretty, even for those who come back after death.

My real weakness, though, was my soul and my soul. Those were anything but perfect. My soul was scarred, broken more than once, and my mind was weak willed and just as broken. I had more than one phobia, was greatly scared of many things, and tended to avoid problems.

So why had I almost hurt myself? Again?!

"Hey, it's you... You're that... Chinese vampire.", I heard Rumia say, and I shook my head. I lowered my hand, bit down on my lower lip, tried to think of something else than my own problems. Looking up, I found Yoshika standing before me, frowning at Rumia.

"I think I know you...", muttered the Jiang-Shi as she stared at Rumia. "Yeah, I am Chôzen's second wife, the Angel of Death, don't you remember?", grumbled the Angel of Death. "DEATH?!", squealed Yoshika, "Oh noes! I'm dying..."

I frowned as Yoshika began to cry, even though there were no tears flowing. She pretty much couldn't, she was undead, after all. "Yoshika, you are already dead, so how can you die again?", I muttered. At that, the Jiang-Shi stopped crying, and blinked. "Oh. You're right.", she admitted sheepishly, a goofy grin on her lips. Rumia fell over anime-style, and I sweatdropped. "Oh Yoshika, at least you're still the same...", I chuckled. "I am? Who are you anyways?"

I chuckled a bit. That again. She forgot me again. Poor girl, her brain was all rotten and her recollection was pretty much erased ever so often. She would remember eventually, but thought about things really hard.

As I rose from the ground, I shook my head at the woman with the stiff body, her arms extended forward. "It's me, Chôzen.", I greeted, but then remembered how it ended the last time I had said that I was Chôzen. "Gekido.", I quickly added.

Yoshika frowned at me. "So are you Chôzen or Gekido now?", she asked. Feeling that this was going into that direction again, I bit down on my lower lip and growled a bit. "I am Chôzen Gekido. You know, the one who introduced you to Meiling and... Lei-Lei.", I smiled wryly.

Last time, I had called "Lei-Lei" by the name she had introduced herself to us, "Hsien-ko", and had started a confusing conversation with the Jiang-Shi before me about if "Hsien-ko" and "Lei-Lei" were one and the same.

"Ooooh!", exclaimed Yoshika, realizing who I was. I sighed in relief. "Good to see that you remember me.", I chuckled. "Man, this could've ended just like last time if Yoshika..." "No, I don't know you. Who are you?" I bit down on my tongue to prevent myself from crying out loud in frustration. "If I see Seiga again, I tell her she has to fix that rotting brain of Yoshika's!"

"I am Chôzen Gekido...", I grumbled. "I know.", smiled Yoshika innocently. "Sometimes, I wonder if she is really that dumb or just pretends to be..." "Good.", I sighed. "What is good? Who are you, anyways?" "YOSHIKA!", I hissed sharply and bit down on my tongue again. "That's my name, isn't it?", she grinned.

"I am Chôzen Gekido.", I repeated, persistent. This time, I wasn't giving up! "And I am Yoshika Miyako!", she introduced herself, which drove me into a facepalm. "I know.", I growled. "I know that you know.", she replied, a serious expression replacing the old one. "Huh? How do you know that I know?", I asked. "I know that you know because I know that you know me." "I don't know...?", grumbled Rumia from the side, a playful grin on her lips.

My head was feeling fuzzy and nauseous after all the 'know', and with my head spinning like that, I really wished for this nightmare to end. Not that Yoshika was going to let it end, though.

"I know that I know no Chôzen Gekido..." "I knew it..." "But I think I know a Chôzen!" "THIS IS THE SAME SITUATION AS LAST TIME REVERSED!" "Yoshika, I am Chôzen Gekido. That means I am Chôzen.", I hissed. "Oooooh.", called the Jiang-Shi, but I wasn't really convinced that she got it. "If you are Chôzen Gekido, and with that Chôzen, are you Gekido as well?"

"You know... That is actually a intelligent question. At least considering how rotten her brain is." I couldn't disagree with my Flame-Soul, but chose to grumble to myself nonetheless, irritated at Yoshika and her recollection. "I don't know. She's still a lot more mushy up there than we thought, seeing as this is the second time that this happens. Anyone else with a déjá vu? I mean, I feel like this has happened before. Oh wait, it did!" "Good to know that you're having fun up there, Insanity..."

"Yes, Yoshika, I am Chôzen Gekido, which means that you can refer to me both as Chôzen, as well as Gekido.", I replied eventually, trying my best to not sound frustrated. But that wasn't working so well. Not that Yoshika got it, though. "Or, in some cases, you are referred to as 'Chôzen Gekido, Insei no Youkai'!" "Don't make me think about Kanako right now, Insanity...!"

"I see...", muttered the undead, staring straight ahead in an emotionless way. "Great. Now you broke her.", commented my Flame-Soul, which I quickly ignored. He was spewing comments as usual, that little bastard.

"Gee, that worked well.", commented Rumia, reminding me of her presence. She walked up to the undead and patted her shoulder. "It's the usual. You know that she doesn't have that great of a recollection.", I grumbled and looked over to Nanatsu. "How's your ankle?", I asked, and Nanatsu opened one eye to glance at me. She didn't reply, but shrugged instead.

"Oh my, it's that bully Chôzen! And together with Nanatsu and that other bully!", exclaimed a cheery voice, and I frowned. Who'd call me and Rumia a bully? Turning to look down the graveled, worn out path of the Myouren graveyard, I found a cheery, teal-haired Youkai with a broom running towards us, waving enthusiastically. "Kyouko!", I gasped in my mind, remembering only too well how Marisa and Rumia had teased her.

But when did I become a bully?

I waited until Kyouko had caught up to us and stood aside Yoshika, leaning onto her broom. "When did I become a bully?", I asked the Yamabiko, deciding that this question was to be asked. "When you married the bully here.", declared Kyouko as she glared at Rumia, who just shrugged. "Can't help it.", she commented and turned away.

"Anyways, what are you doing here, Kyouko? Isn't the temple a bit to the south?", I inquired, earning a crooked smile from Kyouko. "Well, Byakuren-sama asked me to clean the cemetery yesterday, and so I left early this morning, when everyone was still sleeping.", explained Kyouko, nodding to the broom she was holding. "I see. Was someone behaving out of the usual during the last days?", asked Nanatsu and rose from the wall she was sitting on.

"Not any more than usual. You're asking because of the recent incident, huh?", smiled the Yamabiko. "Actually, yeah.", I confirmed and closed my eyes. "Heard of it. It's been quite a chaos, as far as I know." "You don't even know half of it, Kyouko.", I chuckled, and glanced towards the cat ears of Rumia, and her newly gained cat's tail. "I could get used to that sight, you know?" "Figures. I could, too." "Me too."

As if she had just noticed the Yamabiko's presence now, Yoshika suddenly turned towards Kyouko and gasped. "IT'S THAT INTERESTING GIRL!", she shouted and leaned backwards, which, considering that her body remained all stiff, looked pretty weird.

Of course, the scream had it's effect on the Yamabiko, which suddenly shut her eyes. Her ears began to flutter wildly as she opened her mouth wide to repeat Yoshika's words. "It's that interesting girl!"

At this, Yoshika's eyes shrunk a bit and she gasped, apparently shocked and surprised. And then, suddenly, her pale gray cheeks gained a little color and became a soft blue. "I... I didn't know you thought about me like t-that...", muttered the undead as she turned away. "She... is blushing? This isn't really happening, is it?" I sweatdropped at the randomness of the situation.

Kyouko sweatdropped along me. "Uhm...", she began, but Yoshika was speaking again, interrupting her. "I always thought you were interesting...", murmured the Jiang-Shi. And immediately, triggered an alarm inside me, Rumia and Nanatsu as the word 'interesting' fell again.

"Say that again, Yoshika!", I commanded. "That again, Yoshika!", repeated the Jiang-Shi immediately, and I flinched as my irritation grew again. "Why do I even put up with this?!" "No, I mean what you said before.", I grumbled. "No, I mean what you said before.", repeated the naive Jiang-Shi, leaving me to bite down my tongue yet again to not yell out in frustration. "This is so humiliating...!"

"Alright, Yoshika, stop repeating everything I say.", I huffed. "Alright, Yoshika, stop repeati... Oh.", the Undead stopped and chuckled. And I facepalmed. Loud laughter echoed in my mind as Insanity just couldn't hold back anymore, and Rumia, Nanatsu and Kyouko were having a hard time holding their laughter back as well. "What did I do to deserve this?"

"Yoshika, what did you say about Kyouko?", I asked her. The Jiang-Shi frowned at me, and seemed to think about it. It took her about thirty second, but then, she turned back to look at me. "Who is Kyouko?" "Wait, it took her thirty seconds to notice that she doesn't know who Kyouko is? Yoshika, you're really... ARGH! This is so frustrating!"

Instead of answering her, I merely jerked my thumb into the direction of the Yamabiko, which caused Yoshika to become all excited again. "Oh, hi there.", she smirked, and then turned to me. "What did you say to her before?", I asked again. And again, Yoshika frowned at me. She lifted her gaze a little and looked into the sky above me, frowning. "Great, this may take her a while."

I watched as her frown deepened. And I watched as she closed her eyes. For a moment, the irritation in me grew again since I thought she had fallen asleep, but Yoshika eventually opened her eyes again and frowned anew. Then, she began to drool, only to snap out of it a few seconds later. "Who ever said that Gensokyo needs something like television didn't know Yoshika here. She has a wide array of expressions. Better than television all the way."

I shook my head in frustration. Insanity constantly reminded me of the outside world, which certainly didn't make things any better. Not that I didn't like it, but I hadn't exactly great memories of that place. And yet I was going to return there, in a sense.

Eventually, Yoshika lowered her gaze a little and looked directly at me, smiling. "Oh, visitors. How long have you been here? Who are you?" This time, I bit down on my lower lip hard enough to draw blood. Frustration finally got he better of me, and I let out a loud, frustrated yell. "SHE'S ALL THE WAY BACK TO ZERO?!", I hollered and threw my hands into the air, which confused Yoshika apparently.

"Screw this! Nana! Rumia! We're going to the Myouren Temple! We should have more luck there!", I growled and took into the air. Nanatsu, her ankle apparently healed enough, followed me, and Rumia did the same, but not without bursting into loud laughter. "I just love that zombie!", she roared in laughter, her cat ears and her cat's tail shaking violently.

"Bye, Chôzen Gekido who is Chôzen and Gekido!", shouted Yoshika after us and waved, which pretty much consisted of her shaking her whole body left and right without falling over.

I didn't turn around. I kept flying towards the Myouren Temple, my teeth sinking into my lower lip again.

Tears of frustration rolled down my cheeks, and this time, it was Rumia patting my shoulder. "There, there, don't cry. Everything is going to be alright..."

I still continued to cry. Yoshika was driving me mad in frustration!


After the relatively short flight, my feet sat down on the wooden porch of the Myouren Temple without as much as a few steps to break my landing. I was still somewhat frustrated, but knew it would eventually stop. And it was not like Yoshika was going to remember this. Which frustrated me, again. But at least I can safely say that I was sure that she was not manipulated. She just chose to say 'interesting'.

Either that, or she was that mushy up there that she actually forgot that she was manipulated.

I waited until Nanatsu and Rumia stood behind me, then knocked on the door to the temple. I heard some noises from the other side of the door, reminding me of my earlier experience at the Scarlet Devil Mansion.

And just like earlier, the door was thrown open. Uh, actually, not like earlier. The wooden door flew towards me, and time seemed to slow down. "Not this time, door!", shot through my head as I saw the door coming closer.

"I had enough of you! First that door of Sly's pub, then the gate at the Scarlet Devil Mansion... You're working together, right?! It's a conspiracy, I know it! But oh no, not with me! "

I rose my hands and stretched them, my hands reached the height of my head and the door came closer. But I would catch it. This time, the door wouldn't hit me. Not again.

And to my actual surprise, as I slammed my hands together, I indeed caught the door between my awaiting palms. "It worked!" I couldn't believe my own eyes at the sight of the door being caught by me.

"Chôzen? Nanatsu? Rumia?", asked the familiar voice of Ichirin, and she glanced around the door a second later. "Hi there, Ichirin.", I greeted, and finally let go off the door, still cheering to myself inwardly.

"What are you three doing here?", asked the Nyuudou-user, looking over her shoulder into the room behind her, before she rose her gaze and looked at something above her, which we couldn't see. "Drop it! Bad Nue!", shouted Ichirin.

"When did Nue become a dog?", I asked somewhat amused, and yet immediately careful. "When she started to date the ceiling this morning.", grumbled Ichirin. "Dating the ceiling?", repeated Nanatsu, exchanging a small, quizzical frown with Rumia.

"Yeah. First a date, then a kiss, and now she's humpi..." Some kind of liquid dropped from above that moment and hit the pale-haired woman in the face, dripped down her nose. She froze, and the kind smile turned into an uncomfortable one.

In some mix of disgust and shock, I stared as the clear, thick liquid ran down Ichirin's cheek and eventually down her chin. "Uhm... Is that...?", I began, disgust clear in my voice.

Ichirin facefaulted, every emotion left her face as she gained an extremely unamused expression. And then, she slowly looked up. "Nue, stop drooling.", growled the unamused nyuudo-wielder, wiping the saliva out of her face.

"But the ceiling is soooo interesting!", came Nue's whine in reply, and I knew immediately that Nue was indeed one of those that Nanatsu had dubbed 'the infected'. Nue was manipulated as well.

I exchanged a short, but knowing glance with Rumia and Nanatsu, and the two of them seemed to think the same. "Ichirin, please let us in.", I told the light blue-haired woman, and Ichrin frowned.

"I don't think I can do that.", muttered Ichirin as she glanced over her shoulder with a panicked expression, "It's not that I don't trust you... It's just that I don't want you to get in danger. The temple is a dangerous place right now."

Her words confused me, and not only me. Her words vaguely reminded me of Hong Meiling's real purpose - Not to protect those inside the mansion from the outside, but rather those outside of the mansion from those inside it.

Which reminds me that Remi is bouncing around somewhere in Gensokyo, and that Sakuya is probably pissed beyond what's healthy.

"We just ran from a pissed maid and a cat-obsessed librarian, who turned Rumia here into half a cat.", I chuckled, and patted the Angel of Death's shoulder. "I see...", muttered Ichirin and observed Rumia's cat ears twitching a bit. "In other words, there is nothing that could possibly be dangerous enough for us not to..." I was cut off when Ichirin yelped out and was pulled into the temple, out of our sight.

Sick noises echoed through the entrance hall, mostly Ichirin screaming and moaning, and after I exchanged confused frowns with Nanatsu and Rumia, it was eventually Byakuren that appeared in the door and opened it completely.

"Come in!", she exclaimed happily, clapping her hands together. "Byakuren?", I chuckled uneasily. "Hi~ How are you today? I'm sorry for Ichirin, she behaved not like she should! Come on in, come on in!"

I frowned at the eagerness in Byakuren's voice, but shrugged and stepped past Byakuren into the Myouren Temple, and I knew that Nanatsu and Rumia would follow me. The first thing I did was to look up, and true to Ichirin's words, Nue was pressing herself against the ceiling, drooling in delight at the feeling of the stone being pressed against her.

I quickly stepped away, not too eager about being hit by saliva of something unknown. Nue was the unknown, wasn't she? "So, Byakuren...", I began and looked around, never saw the hungry expression on the monk's face, "What have you been up to?"

Byakuren smiled widely as I turned back to her, and so I never saw the scary expression. "Ah, we expanded the temple a bit. Mini-chan was a great help!", replied the kind monk and clapped her hands together again. "Good to hear, I guess. Anyways, we came to talk to you about something important. Could you spare a little bit of your time for us?", I inquired, and Byakuren nodded quickly.

"Of course! We shall discuss this in the dining room! Lunch is about to be served!", she smiled. "Alright then. Thank you, Byakuren.", I smiled back, and turned towards the direction of where I knew the dining room to be.

As I turned towards the direction, as did Nanatsu and Rumia, we all missed the scary expression that returned to Byakuren's face as she watched our backsides closely.

And as we left, Byakuren began to follow us, the scary expression becoming worse as she narrowed her eyes and opened her mouth a bit, drool running down her chin.

She flinched madly when something cool and wet hit her face, and the scary expression vanished as she froze, Nue's saliva running down her forehead.

She looked up to the chimera cuddling with the ceiling. And that scary expression returned. "They can wait. You're first, Nue.", she chuckled in a sinister, low tone. Nue glanced down at the monk, froze, and quickly pressed against the ceiling again. "NUUUUUH! I shall keep my precious thing for the ceiling! He is my only true lover!" "Come here, Nue~!"

"NUUUUUUUH!


After a few moments of silence, the door opened and Byakuren entered the dining room hastily, her clothes disheveled and her hair was a mess. She did look satisfied, though, which made me wonder why exactly she was looking like that. Or why I had heard Nue scream.

Putting it aside, though, I stretched my tired limbs and yawned. "Alright, Byakuren...", I began and turned towards her. And found her locking the door. "Byakuren?", I asked. "What is it?", asked the kind monk as she turned around and faced us, an eerie smirk on her lips.

Exchanging a worried but serious glance with Rumia, I knew that she thought the same. "Something isn't right...!" "Why are you locking the door?", I continued as I turned back to her. "Just to be safe. Nue isn't the only one manipulated.". smiled the monk.

"I see...", I replied, even though sceptically. The whole event with Mima had taught me better than to blindly trust everybody. Call it paranoid, call me a worrywart, both of it is true and I won't deny it. But one thing for sure: I knew Byakuren pretty well, despite the long period in which we had not seen each other. In some way, she had been a mother figure to me, not as much as Shinki, but her motherly love towards everyone just made it feel like that.

But because I knew her so well, I knew that something was wrong. She behaved out of character. And that alone was enough to alert me greatly.

"Be careful.", I mouthed into the direction of my wives, but made sure that Byakuren would not be able to see it. "Not? Who else is manipulated?", I asked. "I think I know what you're going to do. Sounds like a plan if you ask me.", commented my insane side grudgingly. Just like the old annoyed worrywart he usually was.

"Kogasa-chan and Shou... They are causing quite a chaos.", smiled Byakuren and stepped towards us. I didn't move, even though there was a tension rising within me. To be honest, I wanted to back off, but I would blow my cover then... Byakuren would know that we had looked through her.

"Really? So...", I replied and mentally prepared for what was to come, "What are they interested in?" I made sure to put as much emphasis into the word 'interested', hoping for a reaction... Or rather, I hoped that there would be no reaction.

Sadly, there was.

Much like any victim of the manipulation of interest before, Byakuren reacted to the word 'interest'. Her kind smile distorted into a perverted, creepy grin and she began to drool. Her eyes lost all emotion, became hollow and turned into a darker shade. It was like a shadow fell onto her face that second, a dark and sinister wave passing over her.

Byakuren's gaze was hungry, almost lustful, driven only by desire. She rose her hands to the height of her chest and wriggled her pale, fragile-looking, slender fingers a bit, the drool that ran down her chin increasing, turning from a thin line into a pouring stream.

"Fondling asses is sooo interesting!", she declared loudly, her face one of madness. (1).

"What?!", bellowed Nanatsu as she jumped as far away as possible from the monk, while both Rumia and I shifted into a more aggressive stance. I called out to Alastor, just to be sure, but then realized that the blade was no longer under my control.

Byakuren lunged forwards, and I jumped out of her way. She slammed into the low dining table and fell over it, chopsticks, empty plates and a flower vase fell off the well-laid table along with her, which allowed me to bring some distance between me and the monk.

I darted past Rumia and grabbed the doorknob, pulled on the door, even though I already knew the result. It was locked. My hand trailed down to the keyhole of the western-styled door and I tried to grab the key, only to realize that it was gone.

An eerie laughter reached my ears, and as I glared over my shoulder towards the spot where Byakuren laid behind the table, I found her sitting up, waving with the silver key that would unlock the door to freedom. "Not before I fondled some ass~", sniggered the monk as she pushed herself off the ground and rose to her full height.

Before one of us could've reacted, Byakuren roared out and began to glow in a soft, white glow. "Oh shit!", I gasped as soon as I realized what Byakuren was doing, "She's using her magic to increase her physical abilities!" "Why would she do that?!", growled Nanatsu.

She got that reply when Byakuren grabbed the low table she had fallen over by the edge and actually heaved it, despite it`s size. The monk let out a sinister chuckle as she focused on me, Rumia and Nanatsu, the later two having moved over to me as I had tried to open the door. "Heads down!", bellowed the Shinigami, and we all reacted. No second too late, as a table flew past us and slammed into the wall, breaking into thousands of splinters of wood.

"Damn... She planned this...", hissed Rumia as she returned to her aggressive stance. "What makes you think that?", huffed Nanatsu. "The fact that this is one of the few rooms with an actual, thick wa... Hey, that was sarcasm wasn`t it?!" "Doy.", chuckled Nanatsu and pulled Shi no Taizai.

"Guess we have to fight.", muttered Rumia and summoned Tyrfing, agreeing with the silent decision of Nanatsu. "We should be able to stand a chance this time. Unlike last time, she is pretty much mindless. She`s acting on nothing more than mindless desire.", I agreed as well. Unlike Rumia, though, I could not summon a legendary blade, as Alastor was no longer mine, so I merely went into a battle stance, the same one that I had used before Alastor became mine.

"Never thought someone as proper as Byakuren would act on mindless, perverted desires.", commented Insanity in the back of my mind. "I have to agree. It`s completely unlike Byakuren to actively do something perverted. She usually shows no signs of such affection. I don't think she actually can think of something perverted. Her personality turned 180° degree."

When Byakuren charged towards us, I pushed myself off the ground and dove aside, leaving the perverted monk to grab thin air. Rumia went into a crouched position and twirled on the spot with one leg extended, kicking Byakuren's feet away.

"We have to knock her out somehow.", hissed Nanatsu as she jumped onto Byakuren's back, earning a painful growl from the monk, and then jumped off her. The monk, however, rose almost immediately, with no such thing as exhaustion visible. "That's going to be tough.", I commented as I watched how Byakuren rolled her shoulders and grinned again.

"Your ass first, Rumi-chan~", sniggered Byakuren and charged towards Rumia. Nanatsu tackled the monk from the side, leaving Byakuren to stumble against a cupboard. Much like before, Byakuren rose the furniture with the help of her magic, and threw the thing into my direction. Nanatsu appeared again, this time to save me. She positioned herself in front of me and rose her scythe above her head, then brought it down.

The cupboard was cut in two and it's halves hit the ground left and right from me. Seeing this as my chance, I jumped and landed on top of Nanatsu's shoulders, pushed myself off them and went right at the monk. Byakuren gasped and rose her arms to defend herself, but I had expected that. I landed directly in front of her, put my arms around her waist, and flung her over my right shoulder.

Byakuren gasped aloud, and I glared into the direction of Rumia. The angel of death nodded and charged towards me. But I had forgotten what Byakuren was after, and could only gasp and flinch as her hands found their way onto my ass. "I knew you were willing~", giggled the monk in delight, but only until I sat her down again, put my arms around her waist again, and then leaned backwards.

The face of the monk hit the wooden planks of the floor as result of the german suplex, and left her vulnerable. The Angel of Death changed her course and jumped at the monk, but to our surprise, she swung her foot and kicked Rumia into the stomach. Nanatsu, seeing this, leaped into action. At least, for one leap. Her face distorted into pain and she fell over, hit the ground with her right side first, snarled again as she grabbed her ankle, the same one she had healed earlier.

She was in no condition to fight like that, leaving me and Rumia to defeat Byakuren. The monk pushed me away and I stumbled over one half of the cupboard that Nanatsu had cut before. I landed on my butt and hissed, could only watch as the monk rose again.

Byakuren approached the fallen Nanatsu with a lecherous smirk, hinting at her intentions only too well, which got me angry. I pushed myself onto my feet again and kicked the half of the cupboard that I had fallen over, and it slammed into Byakuren's side, pushing her away from Nanatsu. One quick jumper later, I was right aside Nanatsu and pulled her up. "Sorry.", she chuckled uneasily. "Don't worry about it.", I replied and she nodded.

I placed Nanatsu against the wall in one corner of the room, hoping she would be safer there than in the middle of the commotion. A sudden scream, not one of pain but of something close to pleasure, made me turn around. But it was already too late.

Rumia collapsed, a deep blush on her face and drool running down from the corner of her mouth. She landed on her stomach, rear up in the air, and a very pleased Byakuren standing behind her, hands still on Rumia's behind. "She's skilled, you have to give her that. Rumia is totally out." "No time for jokes and compliments, Flame..."

Byakuren let go off the blonde's behind and rose to her full height, a perverted and intimidating smirk on her lips. "Geez, you should rather worry about if Rumia is ever going to be pleased by you again after what Byakuren did to her." "Like Byakuren could possibly make Rumia...!" "Guys, it's not the time to argue about Rumia. I'm rather worried about OUR ass here." "Now that you remind me...!" "DO SOMETHING!"

With her hands raised and her fingers wriggling, a creepy and perverted smile grazing her features, Byakuren approached the defeated Nanatsu and me. Shadows were cast over her face and she was drooling. Her eyes were emotionless and yet there was a spark of something else in there, something dangerous, something that had lay dormant within Byakuren for way too long.

"The cute asses of you will be mine~", chuckled the evil Byakuren in a sinister way and narrowed her eyes on us. I laid my arms around Nanatsu and pressed us into the corner as far as possible, fear actually taking me over, spreading through my system. And not only I was shivering. Nanatsu was as well.

"MINE!", hollered Byakuren and lunged forwards, the very same moment that the locked door broke in and something fast shot into the room, feet first. Scarlet heels dug into the side of Byakuren's head and slammed it into the wall.

"Uuuuh~!"

It actually took me a moment to register what had actually just taken place, but once I did so, I grabbed Nanatsu and picked her up bridal style. "Thank you, Remi!", I exclaimed as I rushed past the small vampire, even though I already guessed she would not remember this, or would not like to remember the events. Furthermore, she had just acted like the manipulation forced her to: Attack whoever said 'cute'. And being cute at it.

"Rumia!", I hissed as I passed the Angel of Death. She sat up and groaned, held her butt with both hands. "They were all over me...", she muttered to herself, didn't even seem to register my words. "Rumia! We have to get out of here!", I shouted again and stopped, but Rumia just laid down and went into fetal position. "Her hands... Everywhere..."

"Rumia!", I bellowed again, but she didn't react. "It's no use... Damn you, Byakuren, you and your skilled hands!" "Let me try."

I closed my eyes and allowed Insanity partial control, which he more than gladly accepted. "Hey! We have to get out of here, my queen!", shouted Insanity in his distorted voice. But to our surprise, even that yielded no response. "Damn it!", I growled and pushed Insanity back into my mind.

"That was fun! Little vampire, can I throw you again?", shouted another, very excited voice, and upon turning to the broken door, I found Shou stepping into the room rather quickly, grinning in a goofy way. "Uuuuh!", exclaimed Remilia and rushed towards the Tiger Youkai.

"So Shou is manipulated after all? She's a klutz, but not like that." "Master, please stop throwing things around!", shouted another voice, and Nazrin burst into the room, panting and huffing like mad. "But Naz! It's entertaining AND interesting!", claimed Shou as she twirled towards the Mouse Youkai.

"Mouse."

The dark voice made me flinch madly, and as I turned to Rumia, I found her on all fours, drooling like mad. A pool of saliva had already gathered on the ground below her chin, reflecting her dangerously glowing eyes and her cat-like grin. Her new cat ears were upright and her cat's tail was moving quickly from left to right and back, was moving excitedly.

The Mouse Youkai had finally noticed the additions to Rumia as well, and as her eyes grew wide, she began to shiver. "C-cat!", shrieked Nazrin and twirled around, left the room in one giant leap. She had completely forgotten about her master, Shou, as it seemed, since she made no attempt to take her with her. And with Shou forgotten, Nazrin ran for her dear life.

Rumia rushed past me, and even though Nanatsu made her best attempt at stopping her, she missed and Rumia rushed out the door on all fours, chasing after Nazrin. "Damn.", I grumbled as I watched how Nazrin rounded the next corner, Rumia hot on her heels. "Well, at least she's out of here.", chuckled Nanatsu uneasily. I nodded shortly, glanced over my shoulder at the still dazed monk, "And we should better leave as well."

Without another word to either her or Shou, I dashed past the Tiger Youkai with Nanatsu still in my arms. "I want to throw more things!", was the last thing that I heard from Shou, right before Remilia flew past my head and out of the doors to the Myouren Temple. Just as sudden as she had appeared, she had disappeared.

"We need to find Rumia.", I stated as I ran towards the corner she and Nazrin had vanished behind. "A bad moment for her cat instincts to take over, huh? I guess the transformation was worse than we thought.", sighed Nanatsu.

And then, at the same time, we both blushed. "Still sexy.", we agreed at the same time.

The corner came closer and our blushes wore down. I picked up some more speed in hope to find Rumia before she got lost in the temple somewhere. We had no time to lose, after all, we had just experienced how dangerous this manipulation of interest truly was. Byakuren had not only changed completely, but she had also become quite dangerous.

When the corner came closer, I hit the brakes to end in a sliding halt to not completely lose my speed as I rounded the corner. But as I turned during this sliding halt, I came face to face with a hellish abomination.

My blood ran cold immediately and lost my balance. Nanatsu and I slammed into the wall, but we both screamed not because of the pain but the horror before our very eyes.

Psychotic, cold, ice blue eyes staring at us, a trail of blood running a pale forehead, a megalomaniac smirk upon blood-smeared lips. The owner of those traits was breathing heavily, her chest rose and sunk as she took sharp breaths. Her blue hair, her blue dress and her hands were all smeared in blood as well.

And then, the owner of those traits screamed as well.

"Why did you scare me like that?!", screamed Kogasa, her face normal again, actually causing me to wonder if it had been distorted into some kind of grimace in the first place. I still felt my own eyelids twitching like mad, my own heartbeat hammering within my ears. "K-kogasa...", I squealed in a way too high voice. "Mental note: Check if heart is somewhere in my boots."

"Geez, you scared us, Kogasa!", sighed Nanatsu and placed a hand on her heart. Or at least her chest. Bet her heart sunk to her boots as well. And both of us weren't even wearing any. "You scared me as well!", huffed Kogasa and puffed her cheeks, holding her umbrella with both hands.

"Why are you covered in blood...?", I asked, still panting after the scare. "It's my own blood. You see, I fell over something back there and hit may head against the wall... And it just refused to stop bleeding. I tried to wipe it with my hands and my dress, but the result is what you see...", giggled the karakasa uneasily.

"Alright, Kogasa, I let it slip...", I huffed and gnawed on my lower lip to not cry out in frustration after all that had happened so far, "Did you see Rumia and Nazrin?" The karakasa blinked once, but then nodded. "Yeah. They just ran past me.", she muttered and pointed towards a staircase, "That way."

"Thanks.", I mumbled shortly, nodded towards Nanatsu, and charged past Kogasa.

We both missed as Kogasa's face distorted into the psychotic expression again that both Nanatsu and I had seen for a moment.

What we also didn't know was that Byakuren was getting up that very moment, I only learned of that later from Shou. Apparently, Byakuren had tried to follow us, but Shou, still not pleased with throwing only Remilia, had picked her up quickly, declaring that she had always wanted to 'give Byakuren the flight of her life', and had thrown her... Right into a washing machine that stood in the dining room randomly, which Yukari then picked up and brought back to the Scarlet Devil Mansion, while Shou left to throw more things.

But like I said, we didn't know of that back then, Nanatsu and I were far more concerned about Cat-Rumia and Nazrin. Upon arriving at the top of the stairs, though, another problem presented itself in the shape of a very eager captain.

"Yo! If that isn't ol' landlubber Gekido! What'cha doin' here, eh?", sniggered Minamitsu Murasa as she closed the door to her room behind her. "Chasing a rat and a cat.", I shot back. Murasa and I still didn't truly get along. We managed to stay in the same room without killing each other, but it was still uncomfortable.

It's not like we hated each other... Okay, so maybe we did. Even before Byakuren had sealed herself, Murasa and I had had a somewhat strained relationship, we never really got along, but it only became the hatred it was now after Byakuren had sealed herself, and I had refused to hand over my key to unseal her again.

The whole incident with the Palanquin flying through Gensokyo had lessened the tension in between us after the Byakuren was unsealed again, even though we still hated each other. But at least we didn't try to kill each other on sight.

And no, it was not the same type of hatred I felt for Alice. That one was special.

"A rat and a cat, eh?", smirked Murasa and stepped closer, "Boring animals. Rats are every sailor's nightmare, and cats aren't exactly better." "What? Don't tell me you don't think that cats are interesting? Shame on you.", I chuckled, a picture of Rumia with cat ears flashing in front of my inner eye. "Nah. Uninteresting. But ya know what really is interestin'? Girls. Ladies. 'Specially the feisty ones."

An expression of shock flashed over Nanatsu's face. "She's manipulated as well!", gasped Nanatsu and quickly snuggled deeper into me to get away from Murasa and her possibly perverted interests. I, however, remained calm and stared down at Murasa with narrowed. "She's not manipulated.", I spoke eventually, parted my dry lips and blinked only once, tearing my eyes off the ghost sailor.

"W-what? Not? How do you know?!", complained Nanatsu and sent a glare Murasa's way, but the captain merely frowned. "Murasa has always been interested in perversion. She's into girls, tomboys, ladies, women... In other words, everything female that resembles a human in any way." "Got that right, Gekido!", huffed Murasa with a proud smirk that disgusted me.

Nanatsu stared in disbelief at Murasa, and then at me. Her right eyelid kept twitching as she eventually turned towards the sailor. "You... Are a pervert.", grumbled Nanatsu. "Thanks for the compliment, cutie.", sniggered the perverted captain and bowed mockingly.

I rolled my eyes. "Murasa. Mine.", I sneered and bared my teeth, and the captain shrugged. "I still don't think ya deserve a cutie like her, landlubber. She's out of ya league. Can't believe she has da hots for someone like ya...", snarled the captain as she shrugged again. "I think that is my decision, is it not?", huffed Nanatsu in my arms.

"Look, Murasa... Three things. First: We got no time, have to chase Rumia and Nazrin. Second: Nanatsu is mine, don't dare to touch her. Three: I'm still mad at you for breaking my left hand back then!", I hissed, and Murasa quickly turned her head away. She knew what I referred to: Back then, during the incident in which Byakuren was ultimately unsealed, Murasa had broken my hand during a fight and had then tried to drown me.

We both had shown our scorn for one another back then. I had even almost become like Insanity then, snapping because of my hatred for Murasa. It would've happened, actually. if Murasa had not almost drowned me. I eventually lost consciousness during the attempt to drown me, and Insanity had taken over.

But I still was angry at Murasa for that.

"Alright, alright, I get the hint: Piss off, Murasa. Geez.", huffed the captain with yet another shrug, and moved past us to the stairs. "Got that right.", commented Nanatsu, doing her best at imitating the drowned sailor. Murasa huffed a little, apparently not too pleased with the cold shoulder that Nanatsu was giving her. "The cat and rat duo went that way.", sighed the drowned sailor and pointed down a corridor.

"Thanks, Murasa. See ya around." "Yeah, yeah, whatever.", huffed Captain Minamitsu Murasa, and descended the stairs, vanishing from our sight. "I don't know what to think of her...", grumbled Nanatsu and shook her head. "Me neither. I don't really like her, that's all I can say. But we manage to get along without killing each other, so it's fine, I guess.", I commented, and turned towards the direction that Murasa had pointed.

"How is your ankle?", I asked the woman in my arms as I began to walk. "Not too well. Give me a few more minutes of rest, though, and it should be alright.", replied Nanatsu, looking up at me. I couldn't help but smile at the sight, though. "Hey, what are you smiling for, handsome, huh?", she chuckled and hit my chest playfully. Being who she was, though, it actually hurt a little bit due to her strength, but it didn't hurt too much.

"Couldn't help it. It sure reminds me of our earlier years...", I smiled back. "What exactly?", she smiled. "You know, being like this with you. I mean, carrying you in my arms...", I sighed with a bright smile, "Sure reminds me of the old time, when I used to carry you around in my arms. Was fun, was it not?"

Nanatsu nodded a little. "And I used to snuggle into you like this...", she whispered and put her arms around my chest, snuggled her head into my chest. Warmth spread through my body, warmth not only because of the close proximity we had. "Sometimes, back when we had left Gensokyo and stayed in the outside world and pretended to be humans, I picked you up at work and carried you all the way home like this.", I continued and looked up.

"True. It was after you started to lose that indifferent personality of yours... You carried me all the way home and then laid me down on the couch, treated me like a goddess... You even cooked once in a while!", laughed Nanatsu and moved her arms up until they were around my neck. "I am bad at cooking, ain't I?", I chuckled. "Not really.", replied my first wife and shook her head a little, "Just don't ever try pancakes again. Even after all those centuries, I don't get how you caused them to explode like that." "Me neither."

"It sure has changed since then, has it not? And yet, nothing has changed.", I muttered. "Makes no sense, but... Yeah. I have to agree. And I can't say I dislike it. We may not get as much time for the two of us since Rumia has joined this weird relationship, but it doesn't feel any different than back then when she's around. In fact, I like it if we have time for the three of us even more than just the two of us, even though that isn't bad once in a while as well.", she replied, a gentle smile caressing her features.

Eventually, we reached the end of the corridor, still lost in our ogling and snuggling. I turned around the corner into the next corridor, silently hoping to find Rumia there, even though I didn't exactly mind my quality time with Nanatsu.

As I turned around the corner, I came face-to-face with the blood-smeared, psychotic face of a karakasa.

"KOGASA!", I squealed and jumped back, threw my hands up into the air in shock. The karakasa's face was already normal again, actually making me wonder if it had been distorted into some kind of grimace in the first place, and I heard my heartbeat echoing in my ears again, my blood pumping through my veins.

And that was when I noticed that Nanatsu was no longer in my arms. I quickly extended them again and took a quick jump forward, no second too late by the way, and caught my first wife in my arms again. "What the hell was that for, Kogasa?! How did you even get here so fast?!", bellowed Nanatsu and almost jumped out of my arms. I could tell that she was more than willing to pounce on Kogasa to beat the living daylights out of her.

"Mental note: Make sure to pull your heart out of your boots later on. I'm sure it just sunk down there this time." "Huh. Never thought I'd see the day that Tatara Kogasa, the cute karakasa, actually manages to surprise someone."

"Did I surprise you?", asked Kogasa in something that seemed like shock, or at least resembled it pretty closely. "You scared us to death!", I squealed, and hoped that my voice would calm down again, as it sounded pretty high again. Almost like the voice of a sissy little girl, actually.

"S-sorry. But at least I surprised you!", she smirked, pretty proud of herself. ""For the second time in fifteen minutes! Kogasa, if I only see as much as wrinkle on my face because you scared me to death, I'm going to reap your soul, no matter if you gave into a sin or not!", snarled Nanatsu. She was pretty scared as well. This time, I clearly felt her heartbeat against my lower chest due to her pressing herself against me in my arms.

My own heartbeat was louder, though.

"I... I already said I am sorry!", complained the karakasa, and both Nanatsu and I rolled our eyes, even though we both were still irritated. "Later, Kogasa!", I sighed and rushed past the karakasa, my eyes already scanning the corridor for a sign of the hotheaded cat and the fleeing mouse. None of them was in sight, however. "Down the next corridor.", suggested Nanatsu and pointed to the next corner.

I nodded once, sped towards that corner, but this time, I looked over my shoulder to find Kogasa. And the karakasa was nowhere in sight. Nanatsu had done the same, and we gave each other a 'thought as much' frown. "Seriously?", sighed my first wife and waved it off. "Yeah. Just don't get scared again.", I sighed as well.

We neared the corner, but I slowed down this time to simply go around the corner without getting scared by Kogasa again. "I wonder how she moves that fast, though... Never saw her pass us.", murmured Nanatsu as we approached the corner. "Well, I didn't see that happen the first time as well, and yet she was at that corner before we were." "I see your point there..."

Taking the last step around the corner, I smirked. "Doesn't work three times in a row, Kogasa!", I exclaimed with a self-pleased smirk. Only that Kogasa was not hiding behind the corner this time. No blood-smeared face to greet us. Just an empty corridor. "Huh, I could've sworn she'd do it on purpose...", I muttered in surprise. "Do what on purpose?"

Hearing the voice from right behind me, I gasped and almost threw Nanatsu into the air again, but stopped myself before I did so. I twirled around, stared into the blood-smeared face of Kogasa Tatara and glared. "STOP DOING THAT!", I snarled. "Do what?", asked the karakasa, feigning innocence. Or maybe she really had no idea what she was doing.

"I was merely going to say that Nazrin went that way.", smiled Kogasa and pointed towards another corner. "Fine. But you're coming with us this time. I refuse to get scared by you... Again!" Kogasa shrugged, but nodded, and followed me as I carried Nanatsu towards that corner. "Interest.", I stated all of sudden and glanced into the direction of Kogasa. She did not react, other than frowning. "What?", she asked, and I let out a sigh of relief.

"Nothing."

The corner was reached rather quickly, and we rounded it. And I didn't really like what I saw. It was a corridor that was close to the center of the temple, meaning that there were no windows on either side of the corridor. This meant that there was never any daylight in that corridor, aside from when the doors on each side of the corridor were open, which they were not.

Usually, this corridor was illuminated by torches, but they had all burnt down, leaving the corridor in a dim light that swallowed even shadows. "Geez, Kayako would've loved this corridor...", was the first thing that shot through my head as I rolled my eyes. "Alright. Are you sure they went this way, Kogasa?", I asked and glanced towards the Umbrella Youkai. "I am.", was the short reply.

I nodded again and sighed, then gestured Kogasa to follow me. With Nanatsu still in my arms bridal style and the cute karakasa behind me, I began to walk into the darkness, my mind set on finding my second wife so we could leave. "Let's just hope Byakuren doesn't appear... I'd pee in my pants if she did. She was scary enough in daylight.", I huffed.

A cold shiver went down my spine, both because of imagining a perverted Byakuren somewhere in this darkness, as well as the fact that it was pretty cold inside that corridor. "So you met Byakuren? She's pretty scary today.", agreed Kogasa and smiled a bit as she waved her umbrella part around. "Indeed. When did she start to behave like that?", I asked.

"Some time after breakfast. She mentioned that there was a visitor to the temple, and left. She returned a few minutes later, and began to grope Murasa's behind.", replied Kogasa immediately. "Knowing Murasa, she probably didn't mind.", huffed Nanatsu in irritation. It was kind of obvious that the perverted captain just rubbed the wrong way. Not literally, of course, or I would've to kill Murasa. Again. Somehow.

"She didn't. Byakuren eventually got bored and tried Shou and Nazrin, but the two of them fled out of the room, while Ichirin and Unzan pulled me along.", explained the karakasa sheepishly."Did you see this visitor? She could be the one responsible for this mess.", began Nanatsu immediately, asking the question I had meant to ask just that moment.

"Only got a small glimpse. She has pretty pale skin and gray-greenish hair. She was wearing a yellow and black dress and some white knee socks, but that's all I remember.", replied Kogasa, seemingly getting lost in thought, as she slowly trailed off. I didn't mind that, and chose to address Nanatsu next.

"Sounds familiar?", I asked, even though I already had a suspicion myself. "Sounds a lot like that little 'sister' of yours... Koishi, was it?", inquired Nanatsu, and I nodded. "I thought the same thing. I guess she's manipulating the subconsciousness of some people for some weird reason.", I muttered. "So we're going to the palace of earth spirits next, hm?", asked Nanatsu.

I shook my head at that, though. "No. Koishi rarely spends time home. In fact, we got a better chance to stumble into her unintentionally somewhere in Gensokyo, rather than the underground. We should have the most luck in places with many people. She is drawn towards large crowds without knowing it... It's their subconsciousness drawing her to them. At least that is what Okuu and Satori think."

"The hell raven? Isn't she, like, a klutz?", asked Nanatsu with a frown. "Utsuho is smarter than many people give her credit for. In fact, she's actually pretty smart... I mean, even Mima, Yukari or I could possibly not remember and solve the equation for radioactive decay.. And Utsuho solves it in less than two seconds.", I sighed, "It's just that Okuu is pretty slow when it comes to figuring out things. Slow, but not dumb."

"I see...", muttered Nanatsu, and turned back into the direction that I was walking, her still in my arms. The darkness had swallowed us by now, and the only light that illuminated the dark corridor was that of my eyes, which shone just as powerful as always. "We should be in the middle of the corridor now.", I commented, and Nanatsu nodded. "Good."

She chose that moment to look over my shoulder at the karakasa. But all that I saw was how she frowned. "Something wrong?", I asked. "Kogasa's gone." Immediately, I stopped and turned around, illuminating part of the corridor behind us with the light of my eyes. But true to her words, Kogasa was nowhere in sight. "Oh nuts...", I sighed and rolled my eyes.

"I guess it's okay that she left. After all, she is not manipulated, right?", asked Nanatsu, looking up at me. "Well... She didn't react to the word 'interest'... So I guess not.", I muttered and turned back into the direction we had been walking in before,"Guess we can leave her behind then. Come on, let's find Rumia and get the hell out of here. We still have to find Koishi."

I began to walk again, and only a few seconds later, the light that implied the end of the corridor came into view, shone from another corridor into this one. "There's a intersection ahead.", exclaimed Nanatsu and pointed towards the light. "Thanks, Captain Obvious. You just saved the day.", I mocked sarcastically. She rolled her eyes and punched me softly, but we smirked at each other as we did so. Sometimes, we were just too playful.

With the end of the corridor in sight, I thought that nothing could go wrong anymore. But that changed when two quick shadows rushed into the darkness ahead of us. "Save me!", screamed the familiar voice of Nazrin, just as she shot past us, Rumia still hot on her heels. "Rumia!", I bellowed after the Angel of Death, but she ignored me and continued to hunt Nazrin, still on all fours.

I hissed and let out a small curse, then rushed after the two of them. But I was stopped immediately when something fell from the ceiling. "EEEEEHK!", screamed my first wife and held onto me, while I merely let out a gasp.

Whatever had fallen from the ceiling... It was dressed in white, blood smeared all over it. It's skin was pale, very pale, and it's light blue hair hung in it's face, strands covered in blood. It looked up at us with a psychotic expression, it's ice blue eyes staring at us in madness. I recognized them, even though the creepy smile on it's lips were new.

"KOGASA!", I screamed for what felt like the thousandth time in the last hour. The karakasa, dressed like Kayako, let out a sinister chuckle. But this time, the psychotic expression did not leave her features. "Ko...gasa?", I muttered. "Interest!", roared Nanatsu in my arms, reacting rather quickly. And Kogasa tilted her head a little, the psychotic grin growing even bigger. "It's interesting to scare people... To death.", came the raspy reply.

"W-what?! But she wasn't manipulated when I... Oh." Realization hit me hard. "Damn... I thought she was confused by me saying 'interest', but she didn't understand it! She didn't react because she didn't hear me!", I gasped and took a step back. "Scaring people to death is so interesting~.", laughed Kogasa as she began to pull herself forward. Towards us. "Time to make a run for it!", I hissed, and charged towards her.

She almost got my ankle when I jumped over her head, but I landed behind her and dashed down the dark corridor again, hoping to get rid of her and finding Rumia. I glanced over my shoulder the moment that I landed, and found Kogasa pushing herself up. But instead of remaining on her feet, she fell over again and ended up on all fours again... Only with her back down. "Don't flee. It's no fun.", claimed Kogasa, and began to crawl after us.

Both Nanatsu and I shrieked at this weird sight, and I pushed negative energy into my feet for the first time since the great battle with Mima to gain more speed. The corridor was left behind in just a few seconds and we ended up back in the corridor next to it. I glanced right and Nanatsu glanced left, and it was Nanatsu who cried out. "There they are!", shouted Nanatsu and pointed down the corridor. And true to her word, Nazrin and Rumia shot out of a room and vanished behind the next corner.

"After them!", shouted Nanatsu, and I followed her command. With Nanatsu still in my arms, I pushed myself off the ground and chased after the cat and it's prey. The corner where Kogasa had scared us for the third time was quickly left behind, and yet the only glimpse we got of Rumia and Nazrin was how they vanished around the next corner. "They're fast...", I growled, not once stopping.

Nanatsu rose her head and glanced over my shoulder, then screamed out in terror. "And not only they!", she yelled. Following her gaze, I found Kogasa crawling around the corner at incredible speed for the fact that she was still crawling reversed. "Don't leave me, we can have lots of fun together!" "Go to hell, Kogasa!", I shrieked and twirled around, ran backwards.

I yanked one hand out from under Nanatsu and pointed it towards the crawling karakasa, then unleashed a single green flame before I grabbed Nanatsu again. The flame hit the ground in front of Kogasa and exploded into a wall of green fire, which blocked Kogasa's way. And since it was negative energy, and not real fire, it wouldn't burn the temple down. "That should stop her for a while...", I hissed and turned back towards the corner that Rumia and Nazrin had vanished behind.

The staircase came into view again, and I rushed towards it. Knowing that it would slow me down, I jumped at the top of the stairs, hit the ground at the lower end of it, and immediately broke into a sprint again, chasing after Rumia and Nazrin.

And when I entered the entrance hall with Nanatsu still in my arms, I finally had caught up to the two. Rumia had cornered Nazrin and was ready to leap, but so was I. It only took me one quick jump, my feet still shrouded in green flames, and then I was on top of the Angel of Death, pinned her to the ground. "Gotcha! Looks like the predator was the prey all along...", I sighed in relief.

Looking up to Nazrin, I found her frowning at me. "Make a run for it, and don't come back as long as Rumia is this way. She should snap out of this as soon as you're gone.", I suggested, and the Mouse Youkai did so without another word.

I watched as she made a run for it, vanished up the stairs that we had just come down. I waited a few more seconds even after she was gone, then I turned to Rumia and looked down at her. "Who is on top now, hm?", I chuckled as I leaned down. Rumia rose her head a little. "No time for jokes. I can't believe I just did that.", huffed the Angel of Death, before she sighed and slammed her head into the ground.

"Poor kitty.", giggled Nanatsu and leaned toward Rumia a bit, still in my arms, and patted her head. Rumia let out another sigh, and I got off her, allowed her to rise to her full height. "Sorry about the drastic measure.", I chuckled as my second wife stood again and dusted herself off. "Whatever.", grumbled the Angel of Death and scratched her cat ears a little.

"Just so you know: We figured out who may be behind this all.", began Nanatsu, and Rumia turned towards us. "I'm listening. The sooner we get this done with, I can get rid of these cat ears..." "And don't forget the cute tail that goes along with it!", snickered Nanatsu as she grabbed the cat's tail of Rumia, which immediately froze up and gasped. She hissed like a cat, bared her teeth, but after Nanatsu let go of her tail, merely huffed.

"So... Who is it?", asked Rumia. "Koishi Komeiji." "Ah. That subconsciousness girl... She's manipulating everyone?", inquired Rumia. "That's what we guess. Kogasa mentioned a girl with gray-greenish hair and a yellow and black dress... And that describes Koishi pretty much.", I replied, and Rumia nodded. "Very well. Let's leave then."

"How's your ankle?", I asked Nanatsu, and she frowned. "Should be okay. Could you set me down, please?" I nodded and set my first wife down onto the ground. She remained in a crouched position and placed a white-glowing hand onto her ankle, but then rose after a few seconds, the glow subsiding. "Should be okay." "Right."

"Come on then!", huffed Rumia and hopped past us towards the entrance to the temple. As I followed her with my gaze, I noticed Ichirin, who lay aside the door, a deep blush on her face. Nue, laying aside her, looked pretty much the same. "Byakuren had more victims than we thought... Should've known something was wrong after Ichirin vanished all of sudden.", I chuckled uneasily as I observed the dreamy expressions of the two women.

Just as I turned to leave eventually, there was a loud noise echoing through the air... A noise I didn't like at all. It sounded like splintering wood... From above us.

Nanatsu and Rumia had heard it as well, and we looked up to the ceiling. And as we did, the ceiling broke all of sudden, something falling through the new hole. Scared by this sudden event, the three of us screamed, flinched and took all one step away from the thing that had just fallen through the ceiling. Which rose it's head and stared with psychotic eyes at us. "Kogasa!", gasped Rumia. And then, she froze.

"Uh... She's one of them as well, isn't she?" "What gave you the hint?", Nanatsu and I chorused and gave the Angel of Death a glare. "Wanna scare you to death~", sung Kogasa as she pulled herself up.

Rumia quickly took several steps back and returned to our side, glared down at the karakasa as well, which had become quite intimidating as a result of this manipulation of interest. The Onryô-like Kogasa pulled herself towards us.

Drag-thump. Drag-thump. Drag-thump.

We all watched as Kogasa, still covered in her own blood, began to pull herself towards us, the psychotic grin never once leaving her face. The distance between us closed slowly, each time she dragged herself, the distance decreased. And yet we didn't move. Yet we remained in place. We did not move a single bit, frozen to the spot. Kogasa closed in, began to laugh in a sinister way...

And then, Rumia just stepped on her head and pushed it into the ground. Nanatsu and I sweatdropped. "And to believe we were scared of that before...", I chuckled uneasily. "Can't believe such a cute girl actually scared us.", agreed Nanatsu.

"Come on, let's leave.", called Rumia over her shoulder, only to step onto Kogasa nonchalantly as she left towards the entrance. I chuckled sheepishly, shrugged into Nanatsu's direction, and then followed Rumia, but made sure to step onto Kogasa as well. To believe that Kogasa could be such a jerk...

Hearing Kogasa grunt for a third time, I knew that Nanatsu had stepped onto her as well. "Kogasa, you jerk!", huffed the Shinigami as she stepped off the karakasa, and finally left the building as well. Rumia was already awaiting us, hands on her hips. "Where to now?", smirked the Angel of Death, her cat ears wiggling a bit, which almost gave me a new nosebleed. "And to think that I resisted until now..."

"Don't know. Koishi is known to never stay anywhere in particular, but according to Satori, she is attracted to places with many people due to their subconsciousness calling out for her.", I replied with a shrug. "Alright. Then, apart from a suspicion as to who the culprit could be, we have no idea where to go to.", sighed Rumia, but her mood remained cheerful.

"KOGASA TORPEDO!", shouted the familiar voice of Shou all of sudden, and as I twirled around and stared at the open doors to the Myouren Temple, I found the Tiger Youkai standing in the middle of the entrance hall, holding Kogasa up. "Shou! Don't!", I shouted, but the Tiger Youkai began to cackle like mad. "Throwing things is too interesting to ever stop!"

"RUN!", I screamed like a sissy girl, and twirled around once more. Nanatsu, Rumia and I, all screaming like mad, ran towards the gates of the Buddhist temple, threw the doors open and took into the air, while Shou threw Kogasa. "I will kill you in your sleep!", laughed Kogasa as she flew through the air, and almost managed to hit us before we jumped into the air. "No matter what, you're not supposed to say such a thing with a cheerful voice like that!", I bellowed as I left the temple behind.

As I left the temple behind, I glanced over my shoulder. Mamizou, the tanuki, stood in front of the gates and had caught Kogasa by the back of her shirt. "Geez, people, I'm gone for two hours and there is nothing but chaos!", I heard her shout, "Well, time for Mama Mamizou to clean this mess up, right? This is a temple, not a kindergarten!"

Would we have turned back, we would have experienced how Mamizou actually cleaned the mess up, throwing Kogasa into a room and locking the door, locking Shou into a cupboard, threw Ichirin and Nue out of the temple's entrance into the pond, scolded Murasa for nothing at all, and eventually went to the Scarlet Devil Mansion to find Byakuren before she could fondle everyone's ass there. And all that while Nazrin hid herself in her room!

Why? Because she's Nazrin!


Practically falling out of the sky, we landed in the middle of a crowded marketplace. "We should be safe here...", I heard Nanatsu wheeze. "I think so. Besides, if there is a place to get information, it's the marketplace of the human village.", I muttered and looked around. I spotted a few familiar faces, none of which I could assign a name to, though.

"Should we look around then?", inquired Rumia, and I nodded. "Let's meet here in an hour. See if you can find someone who holds valuable information regarding the whereabouts of Koishi Komeiji. It may not be easy, though, as Koishi is hard to notice due to her ability.", I explained. Rumia nodded, then turned around and vanished in the crowd of human, Youkai and Yurei.

"I'll go as well. See you.", stated Nanatsu, and then left into the other direction. I let out a sigh as soon as the two of them were gone and rolled my shoulders a bit, taking some pressure of them that way. "This won't be easy. I only hope that there aren't too many 'infected' here.", I muttered to myself as I turned on the spot.

"This wall here is highly interesting!", exclaimed someone all of sudden, and as I turned to look into the direction of the voice, I let out a sigh. Cirno stood in front of a wall and stared at it, the same amused smirk from before on her face. I couldn't resist the urge to facepalm as I saw her.

"Cirno... You baka.", I growled to myself, even though I chose to ignore her after that. She wasn't worth my time. And to be honest, I didn't really believe that we could free someone other than through defeating the one who manipulated them in the first place, which seemed to be Koishi.

As I pushed my way through the crowd of humans, Youkai and Yurei, I made sure to listen into some conversations once in a while in order to find possible 'infected'. Just to be on the safe side. Most conversations centered around the goods that were sold, though, either that or the weather. Ever so often, there was a pair of young boys musing about girls, but that interest was natural.

I came across a few 'infected' as well, not only humans, but also Youkai, but most of their interests seemed to be harmless. One of them was interested in breathing air audibly, one was interested in blinking after every word, and one was interested in voicing the punctuation marks as he spoke, but neither of them seemed truly dangerous.

A few different interests included eating raw ham, saying his own name backwards, swallowing three times in a row, hitting the ground with his heel ever so often, and walking sidewards. But, like I said, nothing too dangerous. Sure, that sidewards walking dude bumped into other people ever so often, and the one who swallowed three times in a row choked on his own saliva ever so often, but none of that seemed to include something like fondling ass or killing someone.

Which one was worse?

Interestingly, though, none of the Yurei, Fairies in other words, were manipulated to be interested in, which led me to believe that you had to have a certain amount of intelligence to be manipulated. Either that, or at least some interests.

I wasn't looking for humans or fairies, though. I focused mainly on Youkai as I walked through the crowds. Humans rarely left the surroundings of the village due to the hostile Youkai, and Fairies rarely remembered anything they had seen, Cirno and Daiyousei being an exception to that, as they had a certain grade of intelligence. If you could call it that.

None of the Youkai seemed familiar, at least not until I found the town square. A familiar face showed almost immediately, it was Letty Whiterock, but I barely saw her, as she moved along with the crowd, and was gone pretty quickly.

"Heya, Chô!", shouted a cheery voice, before two arms laid around my neck from behind and a pair of breasts pushed into my back. I recognized the voice without thinking, and turned my head to look at the whimsical ghost princess. "Yuyuko?", I asked in surprise.

She let go of me and smiled. "Yep!", she exclaimed and twirled on the spot, releasing a few glowing butterflies. "What are you doing here?", I inquired and turned to her. "I followed Youmu! She said she was hungry, and left for this village!"

I frowned a bit. "Youmu? Hungry?", I asked, and Yuyuko smiled. "Uh-huh! She was cleaning the garden, and when I said that it's always interesting to watch her working, she suddenly declared that she wanted to come here and eat at a restaurant!", explained Yuyuko, not once stopping to smile.

"So Youmu as well..." "Hm. Quite a lot of people, huh? Reimu, Marisa, Mima, Cirno, Remilia, Patchouli, Koakuma, Meiling, Byakuren, Shou, Nue, Kogasa and now Youmu...", counted Insanity. "And I don't think the list is going to stop there. But just why does Koishi do all of this?" "Wish I could tell ya."

"Helloooo~?"

I snapped out of my inner conversation and took in my surroundings again, only to notice that there was a face reeeally close to mine. "G-gah! Yuyuko!", I squealed and quickly stepped away from her. "You spaced out on me. What did you think about?", asked the princess of the netherworld and tilted her head a little. "Just a recent incident. You wouldn't know anything about it, would you...?"

Yuyuko suddenly became all lost in thought. "Incident?", she murmured and frowned at me. "Yeah. Someone has been manipulating a few people in Gensokyo, and they are all having weird interests now and do everything to pursue these interests.", I explained, "Youmu seems to be affected as well."

"I guess I wasn't wrong after all then... That girl was suspicious.", muttered Yuyuko, now in a serious manner. "Girl? Mind telling me a bit? I'm trying to solve this incident in Reimu's stead, as she was one of the first people to be affected by this incident." "Certainly. That girl showed up this morning, I only heard her voice, though. She wanted to see me, but Youmu stopped her and sent her away, as I had left to take a nap.", explained Yuyuko.

"So Youmu saw that girl while you didn't... That only fits with my suspicions. Some of those who have encountered the girl have begun to act different.", I muttered, and Yuyuko nodded. "Serious Yuyuko is serious. Seriously sexy."

"Seems like a theory. I suspect that the younger Komeiji has crossed your mind, right? She would fit, due to her abilities.", suggested Yuyuko. I nodded. "And she fits the description of the possible victim. Gray-greenish hair, yellow and black dress." Yuyuko nodded as well. "Sounds like the younger Komeiji."

I closed my eyes and took a few steps away from Yuyuko, let my thoughts trail a bit. "I think that something is still amiss, though. Koishi acts way too random to cause something like this. Her attention span is way too short to go around Gensokyo and do practically the same to everyone she meets.", I grumbled. "So you don't think it's Koishi then? I see your point there. The description fits, but she does not fit the crime."

"Yeah. And that's what confuses me, Yuyuko.", I sighed and moved a hand through my hair, but then glanced into her direction, "How come you're so serious about this, Yuyuko?" The ghost princess closed her eyes, but her expression remained serious. "Someone is manipulating my Youmu, Chôzen. My swordswoman, gardener and close friend.", replied Yuyuko. I nodded, seeing her point.

"Pretty much the same thing I thought as I saw Remi.", I hummed. "So everything suggests it is Koishi Komeiji, but we both know it isn't her.", stated Yuyuko, and I agreed with a curt nod. "Right. You should look around some more. Look beyond what it appears to be...", advised the ghost princess and crossed her arms beneath her chest, "I'll retrieve Youmu now and return home. If I should find out anything, I`ll send a ghost to inform you."

"Thank you, Yuyuko. This conversation has helped me to understand the whole thing a lot better, I think.", I smiled. Yuyuko nodded. "See you around.", was the last thing she said, before she turned around and left into the direction of a nearby restaurant.

I let out a small sigh, then turned around and focused onto the crowd around me again in hope to find someone who could tell me more. Yuyuko had actually been a lot of help this time, and yet I needed more information. And I knew I'd get it once my gaze stopped on two girls walking in the middle of the crowd.

"Akyuu!", I called out to the child of Miare, and the girl with the purple hair stopped. She glanced at her companion, a girl with orange hair, and then turned around towards me. She scanned the area for a few seconds, then seemed to notice me and gasped. She rose her hand into the air and waved a bit.

It took me only a few steps until I stood in front of the two girls, even though only one of them was familiar to me. "Good day, Chôzen. You called out for me, so I believe there is something you want to ask of me?", asked the ever so polite child of Miare during a short bow. Her friend, however, remained like she was and examined me with a cocky smirk on her lips.

"Indeed, Akyuu.", I replied and crouched down in front of them so that I was on eye level with the two of them. "What is it then?", smiled Akyuu. "First off... Good to see you. It has been a while since we last met.", I replied and she bowed again. "It had not been the time to meet and be merry. Mima had been threatening Gensokyo, and we both know that it was your fate to confront her.", spoke the child of Miare.

"Guess you're right. But still.", I chuckled and patted her head gently. She crossed her arms and huffed, but chuckled a bit as well. "Ah! Chôzen, meet Kosuzu Motoori. She's a close friend of mine.", gasped Akyuu and gestured towards the orange-haired girl aside her.

"Hey. I'm Chôzen Gekido, the Insei no Youkai.", I introduced myself. "Kosuzu Motoori. I work at the book renter in the outskirts of the village, Suzunan.", smirked Kosuzu. "Suzunan? Can't say I've been there before, but I think Sly mentioned it. He said there was a rumor about demon books being stored there.", I mused, and Kosuzu's smirk widened. "Well… I usually don't brag, but yes, I have some demon books."

I rose an eyebrow at that. "Quite dangerous, isn't it? As far as I know, some of those record the existence of Youkai who were denied of their existence, right?", I asked. Kosuzu's smirk widened even more at that. "Indeed! Actually, most of those are exactly that. Most of the demon books record the existence of Youkai, only a few are written by Youkai and are addressed to human, others on the other hand are addressed to witches and magicians and are grimoires.", explained the orange-haired girl.

She crossed her arms behind her back and took a few steps past me, a cheeky smirk on her lips. "Well, I have the biggest collection of these demon books, and I know that Marisa has some in her home as well. She also tried to steal some, but she stopped once she realized that she couldn't read or decipher them." "How very unlike Marisa... Never thought she'd actually stop to borrow something.", I huffed in annoyance. That woman really irritated me sometimes.

"What was the topic you wanted to talk about?", asked Akyuu, cutting off Kosuzu. "Ah, yes... Have you heard of the last incident?", I asked the child of Miare. Kosuzu's smirk finally vanished and turned into a shocked and horrified expression. "Hey! Don't interrupt me like that!", complained the bibliophile, but neither Akyuu nor I really reacted to that.

"I believe you are referring to the uncharacteristic behavior of several people? Yes, I have indeed noticed. Let's just say that my dear friend Keine isn't exactly normal today.", chuckled Akyuu, and motioned over to the middle of the town square, where a large well stood. And aside this well, praising for some reason, was Keine.

"What is she doing?", I asked while I furrowed a brow. "When I asked her exactly that, Keine replied that the well is interesting to look at, be with, and she mentioned that the well is her new pet.", explained Akyuu, unable to contain a giggle. I chuckled a bit as well.

"So, any idea how to solve this?", I asked the young girl, and she shrugged. "I believe you'll find a way to solve this. And before you ask: I already do know of Reimu's current condition. Kosuzu here informed me about it.", explained Akyuu. "Yeah, I went there this morning to retrieve a book I lend to Reimu. When I got there, she was all over Yakumo and ignored me completely.", commented Kosuzu and returned into the conversation.

"I see. Yuuka said something like that.", I muttered and almost got lost in my thoughts. "Ah, Yuuka Kazami. That leads me to the topic I've meant to ask you about ever since it took place.", sighed Akyuu and closed her eyes for a short moment.

"What is it?", I asked and raised an eyebrow at her. "Mima." I flinched at the name, unpleasant memories flooding my mind. Not because of Mima herself, but the actual events of that one evening, the evening that was more intense and more terrifying than the apocalyptic night, the night of that horrible battle between me and Rumia, which Mima had set up as I had later found out.

"I see. What about her?", I inquired. "I understand that you'd rather not remember that day, or rather night, of the battle, even though I have heard that you and Mima have come to terms with each other. But please understand that I have no choice but to hear of that night by someone involved directly... The Gensokyo Chronicles have to tell of such an important event in the history of the land of fantasy and forgotten things.", sighed Akyuu and closed her eyes anew.

"Wait... What was that?" A deep frown forced itself onto my face as I began to ponder the description of Gensokyo that Akyuu had just given me. "Land of fantasy and forgotten things.", repeated Akyuu. This time, it was her turn to frown at me. "Didn't you know, Chôzen? Gensokyo attracts the strangest creatures, every possible fantasy creature is in this land... But there is also another thing that Gensokyo attracts.", smiled Kosuzu. And Akyuu got the hint.

"Oh, you really don't know! Then let me explain this real quick: Gensokyo is a land where fantasy meets reality, where fantasy becomes reality. But also, it attracts that which was lost and forgotten. Actually, that's how Kogasa Tatara ended up here, being an umbrella forgotten for one thousand years.", explained Akyuu. I nodded shortly, amazed by this new information.

"So, technically, anything can end up here that is lost and forgotten? Objects, beings, everything that could possibly lost and forgotten?", I asked and furrowed a brow. "Correct. It is mostly objects, though. And most of these objects ends either somewhere in the landscape, at Yakumo's house, Marisa's house, or at Kourindou.", replied Akyuu, "Though on occasions, beings end up in here. Long forgotten Youkai, solitary humans... They leave their lonely life and live here, where they can find what they search for."

"I see..." "Ha, now he became all depressed!", exclaimed Kosuzu with a cheeky smirk. I sent a glare into her direction, then huffed, "No, I am merely thinking.", but left it at it. "Anyways, what's it that you want to know about my fight with Mima, Akyuu?", I asked and glanced towards the child of Miare again.

From out of the corner, I saw someone else approach, having apparently heard that there was something interesting to listen to. "Hey, what's up, buddy?", called Sly in his usual cheery manner. "Yo, Sly. Akyuu's been about to ask me about my fight with Mima just now.", I greeted back, and the human barkeeper smirked. "Ah, don`t mind me, I`ll just hang around and list'n a bit, alright?", he smirked, and I nodded.

"I know that you don't have the time to explain the whole fight to me in detail, we have to postpone that for a later point. In fact, I believe that I will have to rely on Mima with that.", spoke Akyuu, and actually had me thinking there for a moment that she had a suspicion towards our intention to cut us off from Gensokyo, but I quickly abandoned that idea, as it was unlikely.

"You probably will have to, I've got a lot to do.", I lied quickly and waved it off. Akyuu nodded. "Alright. But I want you to answer me two questions, though. Questions that Mima won't be able to answer.", responded the child of Miare. "Got it. Go on."

"The first question would be regarding the part of you that is called the 'Negative Soul'... As far as it is written in the chronicles, as far as it can without vanishing due to you negating history, the 'Negative Soul' is one of the strongest aspects of your ability, but also one of the most dangerous and one of the most uncontrollable. But that is as far as it is defined.", spoke Akyuu with a soft frown.

I let out a deep sigh and closed my eyes before I replied. Of course that thing... "The 'Negative Soul' is actually what Yukari and I call 'all that is left of the old Chôzen'. It represents my original ability to manipulate negative emotions within a being, and is practically the only thing inside me that is a remain of the higher being that I once have been.", I sighed and gnawed on my lower lip, paced a bit.

"Like you said, it is indeed the strongest aspect of my power, as it combines the old abilities with my new ones. It connects the manipulation of negative emotions with the manipulation of negative energy. And, just like you said, the Negative Soul just happens to be the most complicated and uncontrollable part of me, a cruel, demanding thing without personality that just yearns for power. And it hates me. It hates me, because I replaced the original Chôzen.", I continued and opened my eyes again, glared towards the well where Keine stood.

"But it has changed.", I added, and then fell silent. "And that is what interests me. Why did it change? I overheard Yukari say something like that on the party about four weeks ago.", commented Akyuu, and I turned to her again. "Ah, so you were there then? Alright, I tell you.", I huffed.

"The Negative Soul changed when it came in touch with a soul similar to it. And that soul happened to be Mima's. When I had gathered every negative emotion in Gensokyo that Mima had created and embraced her to give them all back to her in one final blow, I had to connect our souls for a moment since I was the medium for those negative emotions. Because of this, my soul, the Negative Soul, touched that of Mima... and changed.", I sighed.

"So it was Mima that changed the Negative Soul?", asked Akyuu, and gained a nod from me. "Correct. It changed Mima as well, though. Or at least, it opened her eyes completely.", I added. "How did the Negative Soul change?" "It calmed down. That is the only way to really describe it. It calmed down, stopped it's rampage and has come to terms with the fact that I replaced it. It even listens to me now... I didn't have to seal it again.", I explained.

Akyuu nodded at this, apparently pleased with the explanation I had given. Kosuzu and Sly seemed confused, but then again, neither of them was familiar with the Negative Soul and it's existence. I myself wasn't exactly familiar with it until the end of my battle with Mima. I used to hate to rely on it, and I had sealed it the moment that I saw my chance after the battle with Okuu. But now, it was unleashed again, and for the very first time, it didn't try to subdue me.

"Good. Thank you, Chôzen, that takes care of the first question. May I ask the second one now?", asked Akyuu. I nodded again. "At the party, Marisa was talking about you using two techniques she has never seen before, and Reimu voiced her concerns regarding the strength of those. I need information about these abilities."

"Abilities? Which abilities?", I asked and frowned. "Buddy, this game of twenty questions is going on my nerves. Don't forget our real goal over your fan club here." Insanity's words reminded me of the fact that possibly half of Gensokyo was currently not themselves, but I owed Akyuu these answers, and decided to give her to them. Once that was done, I could still continue my search for leads regarding Koishi's whereabouts. And, of course, Nanatsu and Rumia were searching as well. It wasn't just me.

"Marisa said that you had called them 'Negative Bullet' and 'Negative Gensokyo' respectively.", replied Akyuu. Out of the corner of my eyes, I spotted a girl in white and blue with a mess of golden hair, and I felt excitement rise within me. Turning into that direction, I identified the girl indeed as the one I had hoped her to be, Alice Margatroid.

She had an absent look on her face and was slowly walking into one direction, her gaze fixed on an autumn leaf that was moved by the wind. I frowned a bit at the way she moved: She was walking in a straight line, followed the leaf, and never once looked up. People all around her complained and shouted at her when she bumped into them, but she ignored them straight away and followed that leaf. "Manipulated?" "Definitely."

"Negative Bullet is...", I began, even though my gaze remained on Alice as she ran in a circle after the leaf, "Negative Bullet is actually my trademark ability. I can't believe that I never used it after I regained my memories. During the attack I call 'Negative Bullet', I coat my body in my very element: Negative energy. And, as the name implies, it pretty much turns my body into a giant bullet of negative energy.", I began and closed my eyes.

"Unlike my usual negative energy, that one is highly charged, and upon impact it explodes. Also, since I become a bullet myself, I move at high speed and use my body as a projectile. This means that I cannot stop once I began to move; the negative energy around my body negates air resistance and gravity, and practically throws me into free fall into the direction I am headed. And I can't stop the negative energy for a short while.", I continued, opened my eyes again and immediately scanned the area for Alice.

"I see.", muttered Akyuu, but I rose my hand immediately to show her that I wasn't done yet. "The attack that I call Negative Bullet works different than many other attacks that I use. instead of using it simply to enhance my physical strikes or turning them into projectiles, Negative Bullet hits twice: Once on impact, and a second time once I discharge it into the enemy. Mima learned that as the first person in over four centuries.", I finished, causing Akyuu's, Sly`s and Kosuzu`s frowns to increase.

"You know... You remind me of Mokou. You could be a male Mokou, you know?", commented Kosuzu nonchalantly, and I flinched madly. I sent a confused glare into the general direction of the orange-haired girl, but then sent Sly a frown, to which he just shrugged. "Well, let me explain what I mean.", smiled the bibliophile.

"Not unlike Mokou, you use flames. Your flames may not be actual flames, but negative energy in shape of flames, but it does look exactly alike save for the color. Furthermore, both you and Mokou fight in close range, but can use your ability to create projectiles. Further things you have in common are your agility, your temper, your sense of duty, your sense of honor, your goals to protect those that you love, you two were lone wolves, your immortality and of course your choice of clothing...", Kosuzu trailed off and smirked.

She knew she had me.

"Well, she got ya, mate. She's right. Mokou and ya really share some things.", sniggered the barkeeper and patted my shoulder. "Well...", I muttered, but found nothing to say. Kosuzu was right. "Man, I'd pay a lot of money to see ya two fightin' it out. Green flames against the real thing."

I rolled my eyes at him, then glared at Kosuzu, but eventually turned to Akyuu. "That should sum it up for the ability Negative Bullet.", I grumbled and closed my eyes again to concentrate, "Negative Gensokyo is, by the way, an ability that I could only use once. In fact, I wasn't even sure it would work." The three around me sent me frowns of disbelief at this revelation.

"Like I said before, I used the Negative Soul, which carries my original ability to manipulate negative emotions, and gathered all of those in Gensokyo within me. I converted them into negative energy by storing them within me, and then discharged this negative energy into Mima. But for that, I had to open up the Negative Soul, which touched Mima's soul and discharged the energy for me.", I growled out the explanation.

"So basically, this is ability is executed mainly by the Negative Soul, which gathers emotions, converts them into negative energy, and then discharges it into the body of your enemy. But because this ability uses up an incredible amount of negative energy, which was only created through the zombie outbreak that Mima caused, you cannot use it just like that. And, because you don't even know how you did so in the first place, you will possibly not be able to use it just like that?" "Sums it up, yeah.", I huffed.

"Sounds like some kind of finisher.", smirked Sly and shrugged as I sent a glance his way.

"That is what it is. It was never intended to work in a fast fight with a fast enemy. I created that ability as act from necessity, I just trusted my own feelings and hoped that it would work. Besides, Mima was already pretty shaken up, and I saw that her weakness would be more pressure on her, which I thought would be best in shape of the true emotions that Gensokyo felt that very moment.", I explained, and Sly nodded.

"Thank you very much for this information, Chôzen. I may not be able to write down your name into the chronicles, but trust me, you will not be forgotten for what you have done for Gensokyo.", smiled Akyuu during a bow.

And as I heard these words, I remembered the small revelation Sara, the gatekeeper of Makai, had made during my time there. "Actually...", I began and smiled as I looked back at my time in Makai, "There is a way to write down my name without it vanishing again. Sara, the gatekeeper of Makai, found out that it was possible to write my name as 'Chôzen of the Gekido Clan' without it vanishing the moment that it is completed.", I instructed her.

"Interesting. So, if one would avoid writing 'Chôzen Gekido' by replacing it with something similar, the name would not disappear? Seems like this negation isn't as flawless as it's said to be.", murmured Akyuu and scratched her chin in thought.

Her friend, Kosuzu let out a short sigh and smiled, patted her friend on the shoulder. "We should go, Akyuu." "Right. I need to write this down into the Gensokyo Chronicles. It was fun talking with you, Chôzen, and very informative. Goodbye."

And with that, the two girls turned around and left, hurried through the crowd. I let out a sigh, rubbed my temples and felt a headache approach. Damn, I really didn't need that one, but knew it would come any way. My gaze rose and I turned to the barkeeper that still stood aside me.

"Ya know, I see ya in an entirely different light now. I mean, I just heard things I never knew about'cha.", commented the barkeeper and smirked. "Really?", I asked with a frown. "Nope. Just felt like sayin' that. So, how `ve ya been? It's been a while since we last really talked. During your last visit, my front door was missin' and I really didn't feel so well.", he sniggered and shrugged.

"Truth to be told, my days since the battle have been relaxing and laid back. Nanatsu, Rumia and I enjoyed this time of peace. It's been relatively quiet, we just stayed in the house and..." "Oh, I bet I know what ya did mate. Hehe. You just stayed in the house and... Played house, right?"

I frowned at him, confused at his choice of words. "What do you mean, Sly?", I asked with a frown. "Well... Ya're the husband, they are the wives, and ya've yet to make some children. So... I bet ya made what men and women do when..." "Don't cross that line again, mister.", I grumbled and rose my left hand, held it dangerously close to his face with a small, green flame dancing at the top of my extended index finger.

"So ya didn't. Mate, ya're going to die as a frustrated virgin.", chuckled the barkeeper and shook his head. "I'm no virgin, moron. Nanatsu was actually pregnant once.", I snarled before I even realized what I had just blurted out. Sly frowned at me, had lost all his amusement in a single second. "What happened?", he asked, and I huffed, then bit down on my lower lip.

"Stillbirth.", I forced out and turned my gaze towards the well that Keine was patting and praising. I couldn't look at the man with the raven hair. I couldn't stand that look of pity in his eyes. It was just disgusting that everyone treated you like that once they heard the word 'stillbirth'. I hated it if someone pitied me, there was nothing to pity me for.

"I see. Won't ask further. Sorry I brought it up, mate." "There is nothing to be sorry for.", I choked out and let a low growl roll in my throat. "Anyways, mate... How is living with two women, eh? Has to be quite tough, especially since your two women seem pretty demanding.", smirked the barkeeper, and I silently thanked him for not only changing the topic but also hiding his pity for me. He understood me, after all.

"Actually, it has been quite relaxing since our arrangement. Ever since we agreed on this triangle relationship, Rumia and Nanatsu got along. Sure, they do fight sometimes, but just playful bantering.", I answered, "But to be honest, sometimes, this relationship still feels... Weird. Uncomfortable. We haven't really talked about this arrangement ever since we decided upon it. And no one of us feels comfortable enough to bring it up, I guess."

"Well, of course. Even I can see that ya three all fear that bringing the topic up could damage ya relationship. But perhaps you should take that risk... Just think about it, dude. Sooner or later, it all will only feel weird. And just think about how awkward the s..." "Sly, don't bring that up again." "...must be. Why not? Why we can't we talk about what happens behind ya closed doors? Come on, I'm the only male around that ya know well enough to talk about such things!"

I rolled my eyes at him, especially as he raised an eyebrow at me. "Or are ya going to tell me there is someone else? Dude, my feelings are hurt. What have ya done behind my back and with whom?", he gasped in a mock hurt voice, and I showed him the finger again. You know, the dangerous index finger with the green flame dancing around it.

"Just kiddin' around with ya, and ya know it.", he chuckled and shrugged, a playful smirk remaining on his lips all the time. "I do.", I huffed and extinguished the green flame of negative energy. "I could get used to this kind of threat." Sly shrugged again and sled his hands into his pockets. "There's somethin' else buggin' ya, isn't there? Mind telling me?"

I blinked a few times before I realized that Sly had just seen through my foul mood. That he had just noticed what everyone else had not. "He is certainly as sharp as everyone says.", I thought and growled under my breath as I turned my gaze. "Might as well tell him."

"I tell you, but only if you promise not tell it anybody.", I huffed. "I told ya before, didn't I? Back then, when ya tricked me... Ya actually said it yourself! A fact is of no worth to me, a rumor is a treasure. Now come on, what is buggin' Gensokyo's latest hero? It isn't just about this new incident, ya abilities, ya fight with Mima and all, huh?" "Actually... No.", I sighed and closed my eyes.

"What then, eh?" "Look Sly... How do I tell you this?", I growled. "Best with ya mouth and in coherent words.", snickered Sly and I glared daggers at him. "Sly... You're the only one who I am going to tell this. Aside you, Shikieiki Yamaxanadu knows, but only because she has to.", I began, and Sly raised an eyebrow at me. "Woah, Yama involved there. Has to be something big then.", interrupted the barkeeper, but shut up as I showed him the dangerous finger again.

"Nanatsu, Rumia and I are going to cut all connections to Gensokyo. If the circle of Yama agrees, a barrier will be raised around our house, and a gateway to the outside world will be opened within our basement." "Woah, see?! I told ya it`s big!", exclaimed Sly and smirked, "So, you need some rest, huh? Well, I understand ya. I mean, not only is most of ya past the same as that of Gensokyo, but after all ya`ve been through during the last four years it`s not that much of a surprise that ya need some peace. And I base this on what I know about`cha!"

I chuckled. "Thanks.", I smiled softly, relieved that he backed me up in this decision. "No prob, mate. Ya need that vacation. And ya wives do as well." "Apropos wives... What about your ex-wife? Do you still see her?", I asked out of curiosity and the need for a different topic. "Nah. We run into one another sometimes, but it`s because we live in the same village, after all. But let me assure ya... There's nothing going on between us anymore. The spark is gone, ya know?" "Too bad." "Yeah. Sometimes, when I see her, the old times strike me again and I feel that I lost something really important. But it`s too late to turn time back, huh?"

Seeing Sly with an honestly sad expression was something new for me, but it assured me that, while the spark between them was gone, Sly still did feel something for his wife. Love doesn't just vanish, after all. "Fear so, Sly. There's always this moment when it's too late to turn back time. You know, that critical point.", I agreed with a sigh, and Sly nodded a bit.

"Yeah, guess so.", he agreed and shrugged yet again. "But knowing you, you already looking for the next girl, huh?" At this, the barkeeper sent me an indignant glare. "Mate, just because I do know how to cherish the female beauty doesn't mean I am a male succubus!", growled Sly. "Cherish the female beauty? Is that how it is called today? Back when I was young, it was called 'staring at butts of females' or in short, 'stalking'.", I commented with a shrug.

"Is that sarcasm that I hear?", mocked Sly, and I gave him another shrug in return. "Anyways... Like I said, I run into my ex-wife on occasions, but we barely interact. She's still angry. And a wise man once said: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." He paused and moved a hand through his raven hair, a playful but also slightly sad grin spreading across his lips.

"But then again, I guess I deserve such scorn. I shouldn't have cherished so many girls." "You mean you shouldn't have watched so many butts?", I commented immediately, and Sly let out an irritated huff. "Got it, man! So I ogled, now what? You're gonna sue me, or what?"

I just shook my head and smirked triumphantly, amused that I got him to admit his obvious habit of watching cute girls. "Good. Anyways, mate, was fun to talk with ya, but I've gotta get back to the pub. I don't trust my apprentice yet, not fully at least.", he spoke and turned away, but stopped once I placed a hand on his left shoulder to stop him. "Apprentice?"

Sly frowned, but then let out an "Oh!". "Ah, ya haven't been there in quite a while, of course ya don't know... Ya remember that chick ya paid for during ya last visit?", smirked Sly. And all of sudden, we both shivered even though it was not cold. His smirk was replaced by an expression that could only be described as frightened. And when a cold hand placed itself on my left shoulder, I knew exactly why.

"Chôzeeeeeen!", hummed a deadly sweet voice that sounded a lot like the wail of a ghost. "It's Nana, isn't it?", I chuckled uneasily, and Sly nodded while taking a few steps back. "You paid for a girl, huh?", whispered that deadly voice. "Come on, what was her name? What was her name? I need to remember that name! It could save my life...!"

"A cute girl, perhaps? With a round butt and a perfect hourglass figure?" "Her name was something with M... M... Me...!" "And then you picked her up, and the two of you..." "MEIRA!", I screamed and twirled around, came face-to-face with Nanatsu's face, which was covered in the shadow's of a jealous woman. "It was Meira! I met her at the pub and felt bad for what I had done to her, so I paid for the drinks she has been drowning her sorrow in!", I shouted.

"And the destruction she caused.", added Sly, and finally, Nanatsu's face returned to normal. "Oh, how sweet of you, Chô!", exclaimed Nanatsu and threw her arms around my neck. I turned my head a little to glance at Sly over my shoulder, and the barkeeper sent me a small, relieved smirk. I let out a deep breath and felt how my body relaxed. "Crisis averted. See you next mission." "Yes, sir!"

"As I was going to say... Ya talked some sense into her, Chôzen, and Meira asked me for a job. Said she was lookin' for a purpose, but wanted something else to replace that until she found it. And now she's working for me.", chuckled the barkeeper, before he rose his right hand as fast as he could and waved. "And I gotta go! See ya around!"

And just as fast as he had appeared, the barkeeper vanished again. "You have one message. From: Sly. It says: Ya wife is creepy, I'm out. See ya around, dude. Good luck with ya future. I'll await ya return to Gensokyo. Beep." "Ya know, flame... You`re an excellent answering machine with that telepathy of yours." "Shut up."

I ignored the bickering of the two voices in my head and instead melted into Nanatsu's embrace, mostly out of relief rather than other feelings. "The wrath of a woman. Sly was right... A woman's curse is the worst thing that can happen. Especially if it's a woman that gets jealous as easy as Nanatsu..."

"N-Nana...What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be in another part of the village?", I asked, and my first wife finally let go of me. "I've been there, spotted a few of the 'infected', but no one with reliable hints. I followed the road, and ended up here, spotted you, and came over to tell you and hoped you had more luck.", sighed my first wife and rubbed her temples. "Not much luck, either. I had an interesting conversation with Yuyuko, though."

"Yuyuko?", asked Nanatsu, but I merely shook my head. "Don`t ask. Youmu is infected as well.", I sighed and Nanatsu nodded. "Anyways... I talked with Akyuu and Kosuzu as well. And with Sly, as you have just seen.", I added. "I see.", muttered Nanatsu and closed her eyes, "No progress then. Let`s hope that Rumia..."

"Psst!"

We both blinked at each other. "What?" "I said: Let`s hope that Rumia had more lu..." "PSST!"

The Shinigami and I frowned at each other, then turned towards the direction of the noise. And there stood no other than the ordinary black magician, Marisa Kirisame, with an irritated expression on her face. "Marisa?", I asked, and the glare of the magician immediately turned to me.

"Interest.", huffed Nanatsu and placed her hands on her hips, irritation obvious on her face. "Psst!", hissed the magician immediately and turned to Nanatsu. "Silence is interesting.", she whispered then, and both the Shinigami and I rolled our eyes. "Oh for Kanako's sake...! Of all the things the loud, obnoxious and hyperactive Marisa could`ve turned into, it was quiet!"

I turned my gaze away form the irritating magician, and found Alice running around, still looking at that leaf, chasing it. Seeing that she was headed our direction, I let out a sigh and decided that it was worth a try to talk with her. Alice was reasonable, after all, so I kind of hoped that she would show the same reasonable side, despite being manipulated. "Yo, Alice, I..." "PSST!"

Marisa's sharp hiss made me cringe madly, and I sent a glare at the manipulated magician. Alice ran past us without taking notice of us, and I let out a growl as I watched her. A sudden breeze caught the leaf and sent it into the other direction, back towards us. I saw my chance again, glared at Marisa shortly but she just stared right ahead.

I glanced back towards the puppeteer headed my way. "Hey, Alice, could I..." "PSST!" I cringed again, twirled towards Marisa and showed her the same dangerous index finger I had shown Sly before, but Marisa was staring ahead again with an expressionless face.

I felt how my eyelids began twitch violently, but turned back to Alice.

"Alice, could I have a word with..." "PSST!" "MARISA, SHUT THE HELL UP!", I roared as I turned towards the ordinary black magician. "STOP SCREAMING!", yelled the magician in return. "BUT YOU'RE SCREAMING AS WELL!" "I'M SCREAMING FOR SILENCE!", countered the manipulated magician. "I`LL GIVE YOU SILENCE!", I bellowed and unleashed negative energy in shape of green bullets.

I desperately wanted to avoid any fights before we cut ourselves off from Gensokyo to not start any new feud, since all scores were settled, but enough was enough, even I had my limits.

To my surprise, though, Marisa did not react as usual, and did not avoid the bullets. Usually, she'd been in the air the moment that I unleashed the first bullet, ready for the danmaku battle she had been hoping for, but I guess she really was not herself.

The bullets hit her chest and she hissed as all air was pushed out of her lungs. She stumbled back into the direction of Keine and her well... And stopped right in front of the well, holding her stomach. She looked up. And then, the last bullet hit her in the face and she fell backwards.

The last thing I saw of Marisa that day was how she fell over the edge of the well. And then there was the distinct noise of a loud splash as Marisa hit the water at the bottom of the well.

I sweatdropped. "Whoops...", I chuckled sheepishly and began to scratch the back of my head. "Aw, was my little pet hungry? Yeah, eat until you`re full.", praised Keine and patted the well's side, causing my sweatdrop to increase. "Oh, by the way, Nana... Keine is interested in that well and thinks of it as a pet.", I informed my wife, seeing how confused she was. She let out a groan and rubbed her eyes with the thumb and the index finger of her right hand.

Alice ran past us again, away from the well, but still chasing the leaf. Seeing this as my final chance, I snatched the leaf out of the air and held it between the thumb and index finger of my bone hand. This caused Alice to stop, but her gaze did not once avert from the leaf in my very hand.

"Hey, Alice, could I have a word with you?", I asked, but the puppeteer still ignored me. Unable to hold back a frown at this, I waved a little with the leaf, and Alice's gaze followed. Moving the leaf in front of my face, I hoped that Alice would finally notice me, but nope, she was only focusing on the leaf.

Growing irritated, I took a step towards her and waved my left hand in front of her face, but to no avail. She didn't even blink! "Alice!", I snarled. No reaction. "Try something else." "Murdertroid." No reaction. "Alice." No reaction. "Sis!" The only reaction I got from that was that I began to choke myself, disgusted by the idea to call Alice my sister. Sure, I was adopted by Shinki and all, and this technically made Alice my sister, but looking back at what had happened between us before the adoption, I'd rather not call her sister.

I groaned eventually. "Great. This manipulation works only too well. Alice, of all people, ignores me.", I sighed with a glance towards Nanatsu. "It seems that way. If you can get no reaction from her, then no one can. We all know the violent reactions you get from her.", muttered Nanatsu, deep in thought.

A sudden gust of wind pulled the leaf out of my hand and it flew over Alice's head. She leaned back until her spine almost snapped, then twirled around and chased after the leaf once more. And once again, she didn't look once where she was headed.

Both Nanatsu and I turned into the direction of Keine and her new 'pet' just in time to see how Alice bumped into the teacher, which stumbled against the well and fell over the edge. "Bad! Bad pet!", echoed Keine's voice out of the well, just before the sound of her hitting the water at the bottom of the well echoed out of it for the second time that day. And Alice just vanished around a corner, still chasing the leaf.

Both Nana and I groaned out. "Okay, this is getting too random! Let`s leave, before something even more random hap..."

BURP!

I froze, closed my mouth and stared with wide eyes at the well. "Did it just... burp?", I muttered in shock. "Considering that it was not Marisa or Keine... Yeah?", agreed Nanatsu, just as shocked.

I shook my head in disbelief, silently asked myself why I was challenging fate over and over again, but then grabbed Nanatsu and pulled her towards the spot we were supposed to meet Rumia. "This is getting too weird. Nana, we`re leaving!", I commanded, and Nanatsu nodded. "Yeah... But if Rumia didn't find anything out, where should we go?"

"Eientei. I thought over it for a bit, and came to the conclusion that there are enough smart people living there. I hope that Eirin has escaped this manipulation of interests, she could be a great help with that intellect of hers. If not, we still have Mokou, who is usually well informed, despite her secluded lifestyle. And if not her, we still have Kaguya, who Mokou usually tells everything ever since they became an item.", I replied. "Makes sense."

A sudden thought crossed my mind, and a question formed inside my head. "Hey, Nanatsu...", I began and turned to her, "Would you love Mokou if she was male?"

The Shinigami sent me a dumbfounded frown. "Wha...?"


"So you didn't find anything out as well...", grumbled the Angel of Death that we had met up with. The scenery of the Bamboo Forest of the Lost rushed past us as we flew towards the location that we knew Eientei to be. "Not really. Like I said, I did exchange thoughts about this incident with Yuyuko, as well as with Akyuu and Kosuzu, but I didn't find out anything real important that would give us a lead.", I responded.

"And that's why we are looking for that mad scientist, or what? Well, she's quite smart, but just as mad. Do you really think she could help us?", growled Rumia, making it obvious that she didn't really like the idea of visiting Eientei. She still didn't like Kaguya, or Eirin for that matter. "Look, Eirin is smarter than any of us. She created a medicine that cures everything and makes immortal...", I began, but was interrupted by Rumia.

"Which just proves that she is indeed mad." "Point taken.", I admitted grudgingly, "But as I was going to say: Eirin is smarter than any of us, so if she isn't able to combine the facts that we know already, I don't know who is." "Considering she is not manipulated already.", countered Rumia, earning a glare from me. "And they say I am a worrywart.", I commented, only to receive a slap from Rumia. "You are, as far as I remember."

"What are you two doing? Why are you even arguing?", groaned Nanatsu and pushed herself between Rumia and me, bringing some distance between us. "Heating things up for later, huh? Well, I heard that angry s..." "You're hanging around Sly too much, perverted flame!" "Well, he is right, ya know...?" "Ugh, shut up!"

"There it is.", huffed Nanatsu before Rumia or I could start arguing again, and pointed through the bamboo at the eternal mansion that slowly became visible through the thick bamboo. "Alright! Time to crash the party!", exclaimed Rumia and speed up, causing both me and Nanatsu to groan as we observed how the Angel of Death, still with cat ears and the tail by the way, landed right in front of the doors to the mansion and kicked them open.

We landed just as Rumia stormed in, the noise of the door breaking open still echoing through the long, sheer endless main corridor of Eientei. Sharing an annoyed glare with Nanatsu, we charged after the fallen angel with the cat ears. Rumia was too hotheaded sometimes... And too fast.

The moment that the door to Eirin's laboratory came into view, thanks to Eientei's corridor not being eternal this time, Rumia was already standing in front of that door, one hand ready to slide it open. "I'm coming in, Eirin!", shouted Rumia and threw the door open before we could stop her.

The room was empty.

"She isn't even here?", groaned Rumia once Nanatsu and I stood on each side of her and stared inside the apparently empty lab of Eirin. "Weird. Eirin barely leaves her lab.", I muttered and turned to look down the corridor, "You think she's with Kaguya now?" "We came all the way here, just for Eirin to be... GAH!"

Rumia's scream made me twirl around, just in time to see how Rumia backed up against the wall, a surge of fire shooting out of Eirin's lab, followed by two Shuriken embedding themselves into the wall on each side of Rumia's head.

And then, there was the mad laughter of Eirin Yagokoro coming out of the lab, followed by a loud roar of something mechanical. "I... I told you she's mad!", shrieked Rumia, ducked underneath one of the Shuriken, then quickly hid behind me.

Nanatsu and I shared another knowing glance, then turned towards the open doors at the same time, the fire still burning inside the doorway and covering our sight that way. "Interest!", I shouted in unison with Nanatsu. "Oh, you bet it is interesting to do this!", came the loud reply of Eirin... followed by another surge of flames. And the roaring noise of something mechanical.

And then, Eirin's shadow became visible through the thin wall of flames. And as I saw that shadow, I felt all blood in my body stopping.

Eirin had something strapped onto her back, a tube connecting the bagpack-like thing with her left hand, in which she held the source of the mechanical roaring, what I easily identified as nothing else but a chainsaw. "Retreat!", I shrieked as I heard the chainsaw roaring again. "We should find Kaguya!", agreed Nanatsu, and the three of us quickly bolted down the corridor.


~ Third Person PoV ~

The lunar pharmacist chose that moment to leave her lab, one movement of her right hand extinguishing the flames that had blocked not only her vision. Eirin saw Chôzen and his two wives running down the corridor of Eientei, screaming their lungs out, and frowned.

She held the chainsaw in her left hand, a yellow tube attached to her wrist, connecting it to her mechanical bagpack. She scratched her head after wiping her right, blood-stained hand in the yellow and pink apron she wore-

"Kaguya never said we had guests... How weird.", she muttered under her breath, but then shrugged and went back into her lab. "Now then, you delicious roast meat... Time to cut you apart.", she sung and set the chainsaw down on the table next to the roast meat to discard of the flamethrower strapped onto her back, which she had used to roast the meat.

Picking up the chainsaw again, she started it again and hummed to herself. "Well, they were right about one thing... I've never cut roast meat with a chainsaw, so this sure is interesting.", she chuckled, before she turned to glance towards the side of the room that was the closest to her, "Are you staying for lunch, ice fairy?"

"Maybe I am! But this paper wall sure is interesting!"


~ Chôzen's PoV ~

Leaning against one of the large wooden beams of Eientei's corridors, I tried to catch my breath. My blood was pumping in my veins, my heart was beating against my ribcage, and my entire body was shaking. "What the... bloody hell?!", I panted and sled down on the wooden beam until I was sitting on the ground with my back against it.

"I told you...!", roared Rumia, only to start coughing violently due to the lack of oxygen in her lungs. "She was manipulated, Rumia! I don't have any idea what she was interested in, but it included a chainsaw and a flamethrower, so I seriously don't want to know!", snarled the Shinigami.

"I have to agree with her, Rumia...", I sighed and rose to my feet. "I think we lost her.", commented Rumia and glanced around the corner we were hiding behind. "Nope, nobody in view."

"Good. Then let's see if Kaguya is..." "Ouch! Aw..."

This new voice made all three of us cringe, and upon turning to look down the side corridor we were in, not only I found the open sliding door, which Tewi, the mischievous rabbit, was holding onto. With deep frowns, we watched as Tewi pushed herself off the ground while still holding onto the sliding door, effectively trapping her between the door and the doorframe. "Ouch!", she cried out again, but then as soon as the door opened again, she pushed herself off the ground and trapped herself again.

"Interest.", Nanatsu muttered with a deadpan. "This sliding door is incredibly interesting!", declared Tewi, close to tears of joy. We all facepalmed. Including Reisen Undogein Inaba, who had just found us. "Could you three do something about this? She's been like this all morning.", sighed the lunar rabbit and nodded towards Tewi, "Sometimes, I can't believe she's older than me."

"Wish we could, but she's one of the victims of the most recent incident of Gensokyo. Several people in Gensokyo have started to be interested in the weirdest things.", I sighed the explanation, for what felt like the thousandth time that day. "I guessed as much. Can I help you somehow? Her cries of pain and pleasure are going on my nerves.", sighed Reisen while glaring daggers at the smaller Rabbit Youkai.

"I believe she's been at this all morning?", I asked as I remembered the explanation at the other locations. "No. She's been doing this since last night.", corrected Reisen and rolled her shoulders. I looked towards Rumia and Nanatsu, and their frowns were enough to tell me that they thought the same thing.

"I see. So it seems that the culprit has been here last night already. This changes things a little. Until now, we thought that it all started this morning, with the exception of Mima, who has been manipulated two days ago, and Reimu, who had been manipulated one day ago. Everyone else has been manipulated from this morning on up to to now... But it seems that the culprit has actually started tonight with it's grand scheme.", I hissed.

"So you're saying that Mima and Reimu were manipulated first? Why?", asked Rumia. "Tactic. It makes sense if you think about... The culprit chose Mima first because of the great danger she has shown to be during the last incident, which you resolved. Reimu was next, because she is the one who usually solves incidents... With your help, of course. But before that, she solved them on her own.", mused Reisen aloud.

"I trust you with that one... You know best when it comes to tactic. You`ve been in the military of the moon, after all.", I commented, earning a nod from the rabbit. "Marisa has been manipulated as well, right?", she asked. I nodded. "We don't know when, though.", grumbled Rumia, and Reisen nodded. "I guess yesterday, right after Reimu.", she suggested.

"Why Yuuka?", inquired Nanatsu, but I knew why. "Because Mima took care of her. Remember, Mima is manipulated to be interested into Yuuka more than usual. In fact, she was clingy, and because Mima knows which buttons to push when it comes to Yuuka, she rendered Yuuka unable to fight.", I explained. "Sounds like an explanation."

"Why not us?", huffed Rumia and crossed her arms beneath her chest, irritation filling her voice as she continued, "We beat Mima and Yuuka, which means we are even more of a danger than those two. So why not us?" "Because the culprit didn't know where to find us. Either that, or it knew that it could manipulate me due to my natural resistance to manipulation of mind. I can be tricked, but not manipulated.", I answered that question as well.

"Right.", smirked Reisen, before a new "Ouch!" turned her smirk into a groan. "Now that we figured that out, could please do something about this as fast as possible? Please?", begged the lunar bunny and we nodded. "As soon as we can. We're trying to resolve this incident, anyway, but you need to stand this a little longer... The only way to end this is to find out who the culprit of this incident is.", I told Reisen, and she nodded.

"Reisen, where is Kaguya? Or Mokou, for that matter?", I asked, and Reisen pointed down the corridor behind her, back into the direction of Eirin's lab. "Their room." "Isn't that Kaguya`s room? Since when is it...", I trailed off, thinking over it again, "You know what, don't answer that, I think I know since when." Reisen chuckled a bit, but then nodded. "Good luck.", she smiled, then turned around and left us three standing there. "Ouch! Aw... Ouch! Aw... Ouch! Aw... Ouch! Aw...!"

I crossed the distance between me and Tewi, but Rumia beat me to it and slammed her hand against the sliding door to stop it. Bad choice! Tewi slipped and was no longer in between door and doorframe as it slammed close. And as the door slammed close, the hand was in between door and doorframe, and Rumia screamed out.

Feeling the need to facepalm again, I merely let out a groan and bit down on my lower lip. Rumia was doing a little idiot dance, waving around her hand furiously, while Nanatsu and I walked past her and left the Angel of Death to wave her red, swollen hand while her cat's tail and her cat ears twitched like mad.

She joined us, though, right before we reached Kaguya's room.

We never entered it, though.

It happened right before we could enter. I sent a glance towards Eirin's lab, but the door had been closed by now and the noise of the chainsaw had stopped as well. But another noise made me cringe.

It was the noise of something hitting skin at a great speed.

I twirled towards the door to Kaguya's room just as it burst open. Mokou stumbled out of the room, fell over her own feet and hit the ground behind me. she rolled over so that she lay onto her back, revealing a dreamy expression on her face.

Her clothes were ripped to shreds, revealing bruises all over her body, and barely covered anything of that delicate, pale skin of hers. Her hands were cuffed behind her back, bound with a thin string that cut into her flesh. And yet she seemed utterly... pleased?

Hearing the sound of something lashing through the air again, I turned back to Kaguya`s room... And found the owner of the room clad in... Black leather.

No further details there.

Each of Kaguya's steps caused a soft 'click' due to the high-heels she was wearing. "Bad Mokou...", she cooed as she stepped out of her room, leaving us baffled as her steps carried her past us to the girl on the ground. The whip in Kaguya's right hand lashed through the air again and hit Mokou's right shoulder, earning a moan from the immortal on the ground. "I've been bad, please punish me!", cried out the fire-wielding immortal.

"Dude! That`s... kinky! Real kinky!" "Interest...?", I forced out, awaiting a reaction from the princess. I got not a single reaction, but two.

"Masochism is interesting!" "Sadism is interesting!"

My mouth fell open. "For gods sake...", I muttered, just before Kaguya bowed down and grabbed Mokou`s right ankle, pulling the helpless immortal of fire back into the room, closing the door after her. With a baffled expression and a pretty empty mind, I turned to Nanatsu and Rumia, who looked just as helpless.

"We just pretend we never saw that and leave. I don't think Kaguya can help us... neither can Mokou...", I muttered in my shocked state. Both of my wives nodded slowly, and then, simultaneously, we turned to leave, pretending we never saw that just now.

"Hey... Chô..."

"What's it, Rumia?"

"You think we can try that once in a while? It looked fun."

"Not in your life!"

"...'natsu?"

"M-maybe, Rumia."

"W-what?! Are you two serious?!"

Well, so maybe we didn't exactly pretend we never saw that...


About half an hour later, as well as the silent wish of mine to get at least partly amnesia to forget what I had witnessed in Eientei (and that not for the first time!), we three were strolling through the Forest of Magic in hope to get an idea where to go next.

"So we`ve been at the Scarlet Devil Mansion, the Myouren Temple, the Human Village, Eientei... And we know that not even Mugenkan, the Hakurei Shrine, Marisa and Alice, as well as the Netherworld got spared of this new incident. You think it'll reach Makai, too?", asked Nanatsu, but I shook my head.

"I don't think so. The gateway to Makai is guarded, unlike the entrance to the Netherworld. Sara knows how to do her job. Not that I don't trust Youmu, but she is the guard of Hakugyokuro, and not the gatekeeper of the Netherworld.", I replied. "So we can pretty much eliminate Makai from our list of places to go.", grumbled Rumia, arms crossed behind her head. "Pretty much.", I agreed.

"Any bright ideas where to go then?", asked the Angel of Death with the cat features. "Well, we..." I trailed off as I spotted something out of the corner of my eyes. It wasn't anything too out of the ordinary, just a color that shouldn't be there in the green of the forest... Pink.

"Something wrong?", asked Rumia, stopped and gave me a skeptical frown. "Am I the only one that feels like we are being followed?", I asked in return, and a nasty grin spread on Rumia's lips. "Ah, so I wasn't imagining things. For a moment, I thought I was going crazy, but it seems my instincts still work properly, despite this cat problem that I got.", whispered the Angel of Death.

The three of us turned into the direction of whoever I had seen, and this time, got a good glimpse of our silent follower just before she vanished behind a tree. "Mystia?", I muttered with a frown. "You mean it`s the cute night sparrow? She`s adorable!", giggled Nanatsu, but Rumia had an entirely different expression. She had a frown on her face, confusion easy to read on it. "I'll take care of this. Wait a moment.", muttered the fallen angel, and walked over to Mystia.

Nanatsu and I watched her as she approached the tree Mystia hid behind... And we both sweatdropped when Mystia shot out of her hiding place, grabbed Rumia by the collar, and vanished in that hiding spot again with Rumia, who couldn't even do such a thing as yelp before she was gone. "You think she`ll be alright?", chuckled Nanatsu uneasily. "What's the worst that Mystia can do?", I snickered.

"M-Misty...! Noooooooo!"

"Okay, so maybe I take that back. Do you think we should help her?", I muttered as I sweatdropped. "Nah, let's not. Rumia will be okay on her own.", was the reply I got from Nanatsu.

"Spin, spin, I love to spin~"

The new voice made me and Nanatsu turn into the other direction, leaving Rumia with whatever Mystia was doing her. What was the worst thing that could possibly happen? "Not that I`m going to complain, I trust my queen as well to be able to defeat such a weak Youkai as Mystia herself, but... Isn't it a bit cruel to let her handle it herself?" "Her fault, she insisted on taking care of it, and like I'm going to interfere with her fights. She's only going to be pissed." "True..."

So with Rumia on her own, Nanatsu and I scanned the treeline for the owner of the voice we had heard. "Hina is coming this way as it seems...", I commented, and Nanatsu nodded. "But what is the curse goddess doing this far away from the mountain?", muttered Nanatsu, which actually got me thinking as well. "A good question..."

And then, it hit me like a punch in the face.

"Hey, that's actually not a bad idea...!", I gasped, "We could try paying Orochi a visit!" "You mean Kanako? Isn't she your greatest rival or something...?", commented my first wife, and I shrugged. "Sure, Kanako and I have our problems and differences... But we put them aside ever so often to work together if it means that we achieve something. And that aside, we still have Suwako to keep her in line... And me, of course."

Nanatsu nodded a bit. "Well, that is true. So our next stop is the Moriya Shrine then?" "I would suggest that. Suwako and Kanako are goddesses, and if they don't know something about the incident, they should at least be able to help. Or Sanae.", I replied, and Nanatsu nodded. "We should wait for Rumia to finish her fight then.", she commented, and I agreed.

"Spin, spin, I love to spin~", sung the voice again, this time way closer, and the Shinigami and I turned towards the treeline again. "Hina sure seems happy today...", I spoke, and saw how Nanatsu nodded out of the corner of my eyes. And then, Hina emerged from the bushes. Only that it wasn't Hina.

The person that spun on the spot was only half as tall as Hina, hence the reason why we hadn't seen her before she had emerged from the bushes. The Youkai, blonde and dressed in a dark red-purple shirt and a red skirt, continued her dancing movements, turning on the spot like a spintop.

"Hey...", began the Shinigami and nudged me, "Isn't that this living doll from the Nameless Hill? Medicine or something? What is she doing here?" I blinked a few times and frowned at the Doll Youkai, which was happily dancing on the spot, releasing purple clouds of poison all around her.

"I don't even need to ask to know that she is manipulated.", I muttered, "Medicine Melancholy hates humans and Youkai alike. She'd happily kill everyone near her. She's always in a foul mood... And now, she's dancing around without a care in the word? Nope, she's manipulated." "It seems that way. Which interest?" "Spinning.", we sighed in perfect unison with the poisonous Doll Youkai.

"This changes things a little...", commented Nanatsu as we continued to watch Medicine. "How so?", I inquired and rose an eyebrow at her. "Medicine Melancholy releases poisons lethal to whoever comes near her without her allowance. Even Koishi Komeiji would not be able to come close to her without being poisoned. But whoever manipulated her could come close to her.", explained my first wife.

"Now that you mention it... Yeah. So this is just another hint that leads away from Koishi Komeiji as the possible culprit, huh?", I sighed. "Indeed... Should we do something about Medicine? She's even more dangerous than usual if she spins around and releases poison." Nanatsu and I shared a glance.

Medicine never saw the bullets that knocked her out coming.

With the poisonous doll falling over, unconsciousness, the poisons she released stopped as well, and Nanatsu and I both let out a groan. "This is one heck of a crazy day!", I declared and rolled my shoulders. "Quite so. I hope this ends eventually and everything returns to normal!"

Of course, we had just challenged fate again, and it accepted that challenge more than willingly. It's response to the challenge came in shape of two new 'infected' dancing out of the bushes in weird positions... Okay, so dancing was the wrong word, but it looked a lot like dancing!

"Are those...", I muttered, only to notice that I was yet again lacking the name of the blue-haired celestial, "...Yeah, you know, that noisy celestial and Suika?"

And in fact, the two that had just entered the clearing were Suika and the blue-haired celestial which's name I, despite my best efforts, just couldn't remember. I always remembered that it started with a 'T', but that was often as far as I got.

"Her name is Tenshi, Chô.", smiled Nanatsu sheepishly, and I flicked my fingers the same moment. "Her name was Tenko!" "Tenshi, Chô." "Yeah, like I said, Tenshi Something." "Tenshi Hinanawi." "Right, exactly that!", I smirked eventually, trying to hide my embarrassment. "Sometimes I wonder if my memories got damaged when they returned...?"

"What are they doing, though?", I muttered and turned my attention back to the two that had just arrived. Not only was Suika upside-down on her horns and had to jump to move, since her horns didn't bend like legs, but Tenshi was walking backwards, even though her movements looked like she was moving forward.

"Suika? Tenko?", I asked. "Tenshi, Chôzen!", corrected Nanatsu immediately, but I waved it off. Suddenly, the two of them came to a stop only a few steps away from us, and Tenshi began to twirl on the spot, before she eventually stopped and thrusted her hips forwards while pulling her head lower. "Interest.", Nanatsu and I huffed with deadpans.

"Handstands are interesting!", exclaimed Suika. "But you're not even standing on your hands...", I commented. Not that it interested the Oni. "!gnitseretni si desrever sgniht gniod dna gniklawnooM", shouted the blue-haired celestial. Not that the gibberish seemed to make any sense at all, but I had the feeling that there was some sense hidden behind it. "Excuse me?", I asked, hoping to get an actual response from the woman I constantly forgot, but she just continued her weird moves and shouts.

"I have no idea, either, but at least we know these two are manipulated as well...", mused Nanatsu, and I couldn't hold back a snotty remark. "Gee, what gave you the hint? That Suika is upside-down or that Momoko is doing... things?", I mocked. Nanatsu glared at me, of course, but then just huffed and placed her hands on her hips. "No kisses for you today." "Geez, my day gets better and better...", I groaned, unable to hold back the sarcasm.

A groan from behind us caused us to turn around, and we came face to face with... Well, a worn down version of Rumia. Her clothes were ripped in several spots, she had imprints of nails all over her exposed flesh, and small love bites on her neck that could only be of Mystia. Her hair was a mess, her lower lip swollen from being bit down on, she had dirt all over her body and in her hair, and she was walking a little... weird.

"Hey... Bet ya can't guess what Mystia was interested in.", chuckled Rumia weakly. "Well?", asked Nanatsu, and Rumia chuckled again. "Me.", groaned Rumia, and then fell forward, flat onto her face. "Care to explain?", I inquired and went into a crouched position next to her. "Stalking. She was stalking me since we left the house this morning. And she just... She... Gah!", growled Rumia lowly, her face flushed.

"How far did this stalking go?", I questioned, and Rumia let out another wail. "She groped me..."

I rose my gaze a little and looked into the direction that Rumia had come from. It was a little creepy, but Mystia was still lingering there, half-hidden behind the tree, her big eyes focused on Rumia's... Remilia would call this part of the body derriere.

"Are you going to be alright, Rumia?", I asked the fallen angel with the cat ears as I rose from my position. In response, she lifted her right hand and showed me a thumbs up, right before this hand turned around into a thumbs down, and fell back onto the ground. "Yeah, she's going to be alright.", I chuckled and turned around, just in time to find Tenshi and Suika dancing away... If that could be called dancing.

Within mere seconds, the two of them had vanished in the treeline. And had dragged Medicine with them.

But of course, we didn't stay alone for long, and we found the reason why Tenshi and Suika had fled the scene with Medicine being dragged by them only a few seconds later.

Rumia had just recovered and had gotten up, groaning and shivering. "Never thought that Mystia could be this strong...", growled the Angel of Death as she dusted off her clothes and straightened them. "She has a habit of surprising people. She isn't as young and weak as she looks. The day that I first stepped into Gensokyo, about 1200 years ago, Mystia was the youngest Youkai in Gensokyo, being barely two decades old.", I informed the fallen angel.

"Opposed to us, she is still young.", huffed Rumia and rolled her shoulders, then her neck. Both Nanatsu and I cringed at the loud cracking noise that Rumia's body made as she moved, but remained quiet as the Angel of Death continued her movements.

"You know what? This day sucks!", declared the fallen angel and slumped her shoulders again. "I see what you mean.", I agreed and turned to look across the clearing, "This day has been too random for my tastes. Too many stupid, idiotic events for one day. Not even spending the day with mischievous girls like Suwako or Tewi, our ever-so-mischievous Yukari or even the crazy Sly could cause this many random events."

And, as if on cue, the bushes near us shook and someone left them.

We all twirled towards her, feared that it was yet another crazy infected, Kogasa or Byakuren... But the woman that left the bushes turned out to be Iku, the messenger of the dragon palace.

I let out a relieved sigh, relaxed as soon as I saw that it was not Byakuren, and let go of my own ass. "Good day, Iku.", I smiled, and the messenger of the dragon palace bowed in return. "Good day, you three. You haven't possibly seen Tenshi, have you?" "In fact, we have. She danced that way with Suika.", replied Nanatsu and pointed towards the bushes to our right.

"To believe that it only takes an incident for those two get along...", groaned the Oarfish Youkai and pinched the bridge of her nose with her right hand. "Tenko gets along with everyone as long as it means less boredom.", I commented. "It's Tenshi, and not Tenko.", corrected me Nanatsu again, but I merely waved it off. "As if I am ever going to remember her name. Telling me is useless." "Telling you most things is useless, you ignorant prick!"

"Alright, thank you, you three.", smiled Iku and bowed again, "I shall be off then, the eldest daughter cannot be left unsupervised."

With these words, Iku rose to her full height again, hovered over the ground as usual with her hands crossed in front of her stomach. She hovered into our direction, flew slightly above the green grass and quickly rushed past us to follow Tenshi.

Or that was what we thought she'd do. But the moment that she was past us, she twirled around, her hands gliding under Rumia's black skirt. Rumia froze up, my jaw fell down and Nanatsu screamed bloody murder. Seconds later, Iku was mischievously swinging Rumia's black panties.

"Interest!", I snarled and went into a fighting stance, my hands ablaze with crimson negative energy, meaning that Insanity was lending me his power. Seems he was quite angry at Iku for invading territory that was only his, or mine for that matter. "Hehe, stealing underwear is the most interesting thing I have ever done!", declared Iku, increasing my anger.

"Hand over those panties!", I screamed in dual voice, meaning both the voice of me and Insanity. But Iku, being manipulated like many of those which we had encountered before, just ignored this and continued to play with her newest treasure. "I dare you, Iku... Damn, this manipulation is going on my nerves. First Byakuren is after our asses, and now you're after my wife's panties!"

"Sorry, but I don't share.", snickered this evil version of Iku and her smile grew into a nasty smirk as she leaned her head back and stared at me with mocking eyes. "Rumia, my queen... Let us finish this as fast as possible!", I snarled, even though it was Insanity more than me.

But Rumia didn't move.

She just stood there, her legs pressed together and her hands pulling her skirt down. "I can't move!", she shrieked, and I immediately remembered the predicament she was in. "Oh, for the power of my lord in hell, this can't get any worse...", growled Insanity through my mouth, but I already knew something was to follow these words. And I was right. "Oh, wait, we have no actual weapon! Dumbass lost his sword!" "Shut up, Alastor left me, I didn't lose it."

Insanity let out a frustrated snarl. "Give me the body. I'll give that messenger of the dragon palace a message myself!" I let out a silent groan in my thoughts, but let go and Insanity immediately gained control of the body, causing the green stripes in my fringe, my green eyes, and the green lines on my shirt to turn crimson in just one second.

"Rumia, pass me your weapon! And I don't mean Tyrfing!" The Angel of Death, which wasn't moving from her spot, nodded and quickly summoned her revolver. The weapon flew high through the air and my hands caught them, but they were controlled by Insanity. My entire body was controlled by Insanity. And yet I was the one who could take control back in just one second.

The insane personality swung the revolver once, twirled it in his fingers, and then pointed it at the manipulated Oarfish. "The panties of my queen, please." "What about them, hm?", chuckled Iku, totally out of character, and waved mockingly with the panties. "Hand them over. Now."

Iku began to laugh at that, threw her head back. "Nope! They`re my new treasure now!" "Chôzen, should I...?" "Stay out of this Nanatsu... This is my revenge. She dared to defile my queen, now I`ll scar her face!"

Iku Nagae, manipulated like she was, swung the panties again. "I`d like to see you try...!" "I'll show you... Let me try this new trick of mine..."

Pulling the hand with the revolver up, Insanity aimed at the messenger of the dragon palace. He placed our head right behind the weapon to aim, a smirk growing on our lips as he opened our mouth to speak. And as he began to chant the dark lines in an eerie voice, even I felt my blood run cold... So to speak.

"May the earth shatter; may the oceans dry; may the sun extinguish itself. Grant upon me the power of the hell itself...!", growled Insanity through my mouth. (2)

And his chanting actually worked.

Rumia's silver weapon suddenly became all black, it's edges glowing an eerie orange, giving the weapon a darker appearance. There was one loud noise as the new weapon fired... A gigantic, dark orb burst forth and soared towards Iku, but it wasn't fast enough and the panty thief avoided.

Insanity turned on the spot and pulled the trigger of the weapon again... It didn't fire. Glaring down at the weapon, not only I was shocked to see that the barrel had exploded after the first shot, and that the weapon had turned back to it's original state. "Uh-oh!" "Damn... Rumia's going to be pissed...!" "You two suck."

"Ha, that was weak!", laughed Iku, changed direction all of sudden, and headed straight for Nanatsu. The Shinigami pulled her scythe and twirled it once to deflect the perverted Oarfish Youkai, but Iku stopped momentarily, then dove forward.

Nanatsu shrieked when Iku landed in front of her and pulled her Kimono up. And as she did, Iku's perverted smirk lost all of it's glow and became a emotionless smile. There was already someone underneath Nanatsu's dress. And the blue skinned woman, the incarnation of the deadly sins that protruded from Nanatsu's back, looked back at the intruder of her territory.

One second later, Iku was screaming bloody murder, hastily crawled away from Nanantsu, turned around and stumbled to her feet, her intention of stealing underwear long forgotten. The moment that she dove into the air, an entire pile of panties fell out from under her dress, but she never turned around to retrieve them. She just left the panties where they were. Rumia's panties lay discarded on the ground along with a light blue pair with a peach on it, without a doubt belonging to that blue-haired celestial, as well a white pair of panties that...

Even Insanity had no comment as the possibility of these being Suika's came to our mind. She was doing a constant 'handstand' without wearing panties...? Not only I shuddered.

Insanity willed our body over to the panties of the blonde Angel of Death and picked them up. With that item in hand, our body walked over to the still frozen Angel of Death and held them ready for her to step into them. She did so quickly, but then slapped me just as I regained control of the body. I fell onto my ass and hissed, while Rumia quickly pulled her panties up. "You pervert!", she squealed at me.

"It was Insanity's doing...!", I growled, but Rumia was blushing furiously and turned away, trying to calm herself down. "And you even destroyed my weapon...!", hissed the Angel of Death, glaring over at the broken revolver laying next to me, smoke still leaving it's exploded muzzle. "I don't think that is ever going to shoot a single bullet again... And I don't think that someone can fix that. Thank you very much, king." "Sorry, Rumia..."

The Angel of Death walked over and picked the broken weapon up. "Do you know how long I had that thing?", she complained and waved the weapon around. "Wouldn't it be fixed once you summon it again?", inquired Nanatsu as she walked over. "No! It was a medium for that spellcard, not part of it! I had connected it to that spellcard in order to summon it, but it was not part of it...", explained Rumia, looked down at the revolver.

It began to glow in a dark yellow light, then turned back into a spellcard... Only was it ripped, and certainly not going to work. Rumia let out a deep sigh as she examined the shreds in her hand. "Now I need a new weapon... Well, first thing I'm going to look for in the outside world is a weapon that suits my needs, one that I can handle!", she declared, dismissing the shreds of the spellcard.

"Can't you just use any kind of weapon?", asked Nanatsu as she observed Rumia's actions. "No! You have no idea of human weapons, huh? Sure, I don't use their primitive bullets and instead charge it with darkness, but still! Even though that is the case, each weapon is handled differently due to their shape, their size, et cetera, et cetera..." "You're right, Rumia, I have no idea of such weapons.", murmured Nanatsu as she rolled her eyes and turned her gaze away.

"What an amusing display.", commented a voice, followed by clapping. We three snapped out of our different emotions and turned into the direction of the voice. "Interest!", we screamed in perfect unison, not too eager to get fooled yet again by one of those 'infected'.

"Easy there, we are perfectly fine.", snickered Komachi as she waved her hands and approached us along with Shikieiki Yamaxanadu and Minoue, the mysterious Shinigami that I yet had to learn more about. "Oh, you don't know how good it is to see you, Shikieiki!", I sighed in relief, "Finally someone that is not manipulated in some weird way!"

The Yama smiled at me. "I believe this feeling is mutual. We ran into a very... Eager Byakuren Hijiri.", admitted Shikieiki and glanced into Komachi's direction. "We did, too.", grumbled Rumia behind me, and quickly put both hands onto her ass, "Why is everyone after my ass today, anyways? First Patchouli, then Chô and 'natsu, then Byakuren, and now Iku Nagae as well!"

"The last one wanted your panties, not your cute ass.", giggled Nanatsu and pinched the mentioned body part of the fallen angel, only to receive a glare. "Playful as ever, you three. It is good to see that you never seem to falter, no matter how bad the situation.", commented the Yama of Gensokyo, nodding to herself.

"We'd be lost if we did.", I replied. "And Gensokyo would be as well. Do not forget what great power each of you holds. I don't like to remind of it, but the apocalyptic night has proven what guilt and bloodlust can do to one another, and if the balance would join this fight rather than preventing it, Gensokyo would hour of death would arrive."

Sharing a thoughtful glance with the Shinigami and the still blushing Neko-Angel, I remembered the apocalyptic night, the night that I and Rumia had fought to death against one another, only too well. And as I did, something else bugged me and I turned to look down at Shikieiki's hand.

"It still has not recovered. But the Circle of Yama has assured me that it would so eventually. Another year or two and it should be back to it's original state.", assured me Shikieiki as she rose the hand, almost as if she had read my thoughts. "I really hope so. It was our fault after all that your hand is like this.", I assured her, but Shikieiki shook her head.

"It was curiosity on my part that caused this. And, forgive me Rumia, we all know that curiosity killed the cat.", chuckled the Yama, earning a scoff from the Angel of Death with the cat ears, "Nevertheless, if anyone is at fault for the condition of my hand other than myself, it would be Mima for causing the apocalyptic night without knowing it, but I do not blame her for anything due to her state of mind."

The Yama lowered her hand again, the rod of remorse held tightly within the rotten, dead fingers. "It would be like blaming Yukari or any of you three... You all share this one trait with Mima: A scarred, broken state of mind. She's just as insane as you... And I, for that matter." This finally caused me to rise an eyebrow at her.

"Excuse me? You, Shikieiki, insane like us?", I questioned, but the Yama closed her eyes and shook her head. "Indeed, but it is not the time to explain my words. Heed the words that I have been chosen to say by the Circle of Yama instead. I carry a message that should interest you three greatly.", retorted the Yama, closed her eyes and rose her hands, held the rod of remorse in front of her chest.

"Why so formal, Enma-sama?", asked Rumia, showing once more just how much respect she held for the Yama by using a title with suffix rather than the bold language she usually used. "Like I said, this message is from the Circle of Yama themselves, directed at you three. And the Circle of Yama's words are the most important, as you know. They hold up existence."

Shikieiki cleared her throat, rose the rod of remorse a bit more, and then finally delivered the message. "Chôzen Gekido, Nanatsu no Taizai, Rumia Gekido-Shisô. Your request to separate from Gensokyo has been heard and discussed by the Circle of Yama. Seeing what great help you had been recently in the protection of this land, and the uphold of existence that way, we decided that your wish would be granted."

I felt excitement at these words and found myself unable to hold back a grin. Nanatsu and Rumia were pretty much the same, and the Angel of Death even pumped a fist into the air in glee. "Heck yeah! That was the least thing they could do for us!", she cheered. "Hold it. The message is not over yet.", interrupted the Yama with a stern glare.

"Nanatsu no Taizai and Rumia Gekido-Shisô, your duties will be extended to the outside world. Should you ever return to Gensokyo, they will be returned to their current state. Should the Yama of Gensokyo, who you still will serve, be in need of you, she will contact you and you are to follow the orders given to you.", continued Shikieiki. "Heh, at least we get to continue working under you, Shikieiki-sama.", spoke Nanatsu during a bow.

"Chôzen Gekido. You are to hide your powers. We agreed on not stripping you off your powers, but due to the destructive nature of them, we can not allow you to use them. On the day of your departure from Gensokyo, the magic of the necklace of Makai shall be extended to weaken your powers until your return to Gensokyo." "I think I can live with that. Not like I won't be able to use them at all.", I commented, and Shikieiki nodded.

"On the day of your departure, a gateway to the outside world will be opened in the basement of your residence, which you are free to use. However, no individual from the outside world is to use this gateway, hence the need for you to open it in the outside world to return to Gensokyo.", Shikieiki trailed off after these words to take a deep breath.

"Furthermore, on the day of your departure, the Yama of Gensokyo is to help you raise three barriers around your house, which will ultimately not only cut you from Gensokyo, but the other way around as well. Aside the individual called Yukari Yakumo, which can merely avoid using these borders, no one is able to pass those, not even you three." At these words, I shared glances with Nanatsu and Rumia, but the two nodded.

"These barriers will each represent one of your elements, meaning negative energy as the most outside one, followed by the balance of the seven deadly sins, and finally darkness on the inside. The day that you three choose to return, you are free to destroy these barriers one after the other, starting with the one that lies on the inside, darkness.", instructed the Yama of Gensokyo, Shikieiki, now and took yet another deep breath.

"HOWEVER.", she called out, causing the three of us to flinch, "This shall all only take place if you manage to solve the most recent incident of Gensokyo. Restore peace to Gensokyo once more, and your wish shall be granted. That is all." Rumia groaned aloud almost immediately and facepalmed. "Really? I had enough of this incident and everyone groping me already...!", she hissed.

"Don't worry, Rumia. Chô and I decided that it would be best to go to the Moriya Shrine to ask for help. That way, we should be able to figure out this incident eventually.", smiled Nanatsu, even though it was a crooked smile.

"I agree with this decision. It sounds reasonable.", commented Shikieiki as she finally returned to a more relaxed stance. "Now then, you three, I shall take my leave. I will return one day after you fixed this incident... You shall then depart from Gensokyo. Good luck with the incident." "Got it. Thank you for telling us, Shikieiki.", I spoke and bowed. The Yama nodded, then gave each of the two Shinigami that were with her a short glance, and then turned around.

As we watched the three leave, I let out a deep sigh. "Alright, you heard her. We're going to solve this incident, and then we finally get the peace we long for.", I spoke, and the two nodded. "Right. Let's pay Kanako and Suwako a visit then, shall we?"

I nodded, and let my gaze trail to the top of Youkai Mountain, which was visible through the treetops. "Yeah. Orochi will surely be pleased to see us.", I snorted, the sarcasm dripping from my voice as I remembered my oldest rival and the several encounters we had, most of them ending in a fight.

This wasn't going to be pretty, and I didn't enjoy the thought of asking her for a favor, but we had worked together in the past, so maybe this would actually work again... And besides, she wanted me gone after all, so there was this certain chance that she'd help us if I told her we'd leave once this incident was solved.

That was what I hoped, at least.


"We're almost there.", I informed the woman in my arms. I had chosen to carry Nanatsu, the slowest of us three, so that she wouldn't slow us down too much. And, after all, she too did know that we didn't have time to waste. "Good.", commented Nanatsu, and I nodded.

I chose this moment to look down, and found several familiar faces in the water below us. Nitori Kawashiro was swimming in the basin below the waterfall that the city of the Tengu was behind. But she wasn't alone. Hatate Himekaidou was lying next to the water with a pair of sunglasses hiding her eyes. Obviously, she was tanning herself in the sun.

This was not particularly anything out of the ordinary. It was, though, to see Aya near Hatate. The usually rather eager reporter was taking a break as it seemed, and was in the water with Nitori and, surprisingly, Momiji.

Out of those four, I was sure that one was one of those that we had dubbed 'the infected'... Momiji. She hated swimming around, and was a usually rather serious person, but at that moment, she was playing in the water with Aya and Nitori, splashing water into their direction ever so often.

"Okay, Flame-Soul... Add this to the list: Momiji interested in swimming." "Got it!" "You know, maybe this isn't entirely bad. It should loosen Momiji up a bit, especially towards Aya. Maybe this'll help her sort out her new feelings for her." "You're playing matchmaker again!" "I do? Sorry..."

My gaze shifted a little further towards the forest, away from the large basin of water that Nitori, Aya and Momiji were playing in. The Aki Sisters caught my eye, dancing around on a clearing while throwing autumn leaves into the air, laughing and cheering that their season was back.

But yet another one of those 'infected' was there as well... Hina Kagiyama was throwing rocks into the air, then spun on the spot rather quickly, even quicker than usual. This caused her red ribbons to move at a great speed, and once they hit the stones, they would send them flying. "I'm adding another thing to the list: Hina interested in baseball." "Baseball? You think that's supposed to be baseball?" "You have a better word?" "Nah, baseball is fine."

Just as I turned my gaze back into the direction that we were moving, one of the stones that Hina had batted hit the head of Minoriko Aki, causing her to fall over. "Those two really have no luck... They always try their best, but fail ever so often. And out of the beings that represent the seasons, they are the weakest... Even Lily is more powerful than them. Sometimes, I feel really bad for them."

Shaking my head, I finally looked up and spotted the Moriya Shrine at the top of the mountain. Since no storm surrounding it this time, it wasn't as hard to reach the top of the mountain, and we didn't nearly take as long as during our visit the autumn before, when the Moriya Shrine first appeared in Gensokyo.

So it was only about half an hour later that I landed on the porch of the Moriya Shrine and let out a loud sigh. "Kanako isn't going to be pleased with our presence. But then again, Kanako and I got along during the last time. Sure, we had our fights, but the ability she had granted me helped me greatly against Mima... And she was one of the first people to trust me."

"So what? You're going to knock or not?", asked Rumia in an irritated tone. I felt how irritated she really was, but couldn't really blame her for that. Out of the three of us, she had to endure the most things that day, from a transformation into half a cat, the groping from Byakuren, and finally the theft of her panties by Iku. Yeah, I couldn't blame her at all. I actually felt sorry for her. And Nanatsu did as well.

"So?", repeated the Angel of Death and frowned at me. And as she spoke, I saw something that I hadn't dared to ask about since the fight with Mima. The time to ask seemed right, so I dared to ask the question after all.

"Hey, Rumia...", I began and earned a questioning raise of an eyebrow from her, "Look, I know this may sound weird now and it's possibly something that will anger you a little... But, about your tongue..." Rumia's questioning frown was replaced with a sigh as the fallen angel rolled her eyes.

And then, she stuck her tongue out, revealing the small hole in the middle of it.

The horrible scene played in my head again, even though I hadn't seen much of it. Mima, enraged at me, had pierced Rumia's tongue with her crescent moon staff and had channeled dark energy into the wound that was created that way. Because of this dark energy, Nanatsu had been unable to completely heal it, the result a small hole in Rumia's tongue.

"It's fine. It feels a little weird at times with saliva or wind going through it, but I got used to it.", chuckled Rumia, displaying nonchalant behavior. And that was exactly how she felt about it: She didn't really care. She had complained at first, but had indeed gotten used to it and had never brought that topic up again. "It won't ever close again, but like I said... I got used to it."

I nodded shortly, not too pleased about this indifferent behavior, but didn't question it. It was Rumia's body, and she had to decide how she felt about it. I, for my part, could only comment, and only in my head, that it certainly felt a little weird french-kissing her with that hole in her tongue... But it was acceptable.

With these thoughts in mind, I finally moved my hand and knocked on the wooden beam just aside the entrance to the Shrine. A cheery voice echoed down the corridor behind it, assured us that she was on her way, and a few seconds later, the door sled open and revealed the miko of the shrine, Sanae Kochiya.

"Interest.", we called out immediately... All four of us. Sanae sweatdropped in unison with us. "So you're not one of those...", chuckled Sanae uneasily. "You're not either. You ran into a few of them as well, huh?", I replied. "Yes. And found out that they respond to the word 'interest', much like you did apparently.", smiled the wind miko sheepishly.

She took a step back and gestured us to come in. "What leads you three here? Looking for a place to hide?" "Not exactly, Sanae. We're here to ask Suwako and Kanako something.", replied Nanatsu during a quick bow. Sanae bowed right back, but shook hands with me rather than bowing. And Rumia and she ignored each other just like that.

The miko of the Moriya Shrine closed the door behind us and took the lead, and I quickly followed her along with Nanatsu and Rumia, the latter one with a bored expression as she crossed her arms behind her head and scoffed. "Kanako-sama and Suwako-sama are in the living room. May I ask what you need of them?", asked the miko as she glanced over her shoulder at us.

"We could need some help with the guys out there.", answered Rumia with a loud huff, "You should've noticed that some of these interests are not only freaky, but quite dangerous." At this, the miko froze and sweatdropped as she turned to us. "Iku?", she muttered... And Rumia blushed, while I let out an annoyed huff, even though it came from Insanity. That was all that Sanae needed as an answer.

"Iku...", she muttered and shivered, then turned back to the corridor. I shivered as well, and so did Rumia. As much as I liked Iku... She was quite a pervert once manipulated. But then again, it was the interest that made her perverted, and it actually could've hit anybody as far as I saw.

Sanae eventually stopped in front of yet another sliding door and opened it rather quickly, but only enough to stick her head in. At the same time, I looked down the corridor, still lost in thought... At least until I saw a blonde girl leaving one of the rooms.

She waddled across the corridor and opened another door, but paused to look over to us. The girl, dressed in purple and white, had yellow eyes and medium length blond hair, even though it was poofy like Kanako's. We locked gazes for a second... And then, she vanished in the next room and closed the door behind her. "Suwako...?" I muttered silently.

"Suwako-sama! Kanako-sama! We have visitors who'd like to see you!", announced Sanae, tearing my attention away from the door that the blonde girl had just vanished in. "Wait, Suwako is in there with Kanako?!", shot through my head as I leaned a bit to the side to glance past the miko. And true enough, I found Kanako and Suwako sitting by a kotatsu, the latter one resting her head on the heated table.

"But if Suwako is in there... Who was that girl just now?", I mused silently and turned to look down the corridor again at the door that the strange, blonde-haired girl had vanished in. "This day is getting weirder and weirder... And this new girl is yet another unsolved mystery. It almost reminds me of this Minoue girl...!"

"Visitors?", I heard Kanako groan, accompanied by the soft snoring of the older, but smaller goddess. "It's Chôzen, Na..." "Chôzen Gekido, Insei no Youkai?!", shouted Kanako and shot up from her seat. In just a few seconds, she had crossed the room and looked over Sanae's head, an easy task for her since she was taller than the green-haired miko.

"Could you stop calling me by name and title just for once?", I groaned and rolled my eyes at my first rival ever. "Of course, I am sorry, Chôzen.", apologized Kanako quickly, and blushed. "Yeah, I knew you'd sa... Did you just agree with me?!", I gasped as realization hit me. Kanako nodded quickly.

"May I ask what you three need me and Suwa for?", asked the blue-haired goddess as she finally pushed past Sanae and shut the door after her, leaving Suwako in the room, still asleep. "You must have noticed the most recent incident as well, Orochi and..." Kanako shuddered as I used the nickname. "Orochi? Is everything alright?" Another shudder, along with a small yelp. "What is wrong with her? She's been like that ever since I went out to fight against Mima..."

"You... Need my help to resolve this, right? How can I help you three?", asked Kanako, leaving me to ponder why she was behaving like this. "We need you to pinpoint someone with your divine powers... Koishi Komeiji.", explained Nanatsu, and Kanako nodded. "Sanae, please sit down. I'll take care of this.", smiled Kanako towards her miko, and Sanae nodded.

"Chôzen, I'm going to need your help for this. Nanatsu no Taizai, Rumia, please sit down with Sanae and wait.", instructed the goddess then, causing both of my wives to rise an eyebrow at her. "Why just Chôzen? How can we be sure you're not just going to attack him?", asked Rumia, "You tried that before, after all."

"You have to trust me with this.", replied Kanako and bowed. "It's alright. Like Orochi is ever going to beat me.", I assured my wives, but frowned as Kanako shuddered again at the mention of her nickname, and this time quite violently.

"Fine. Don't try anything, Yasaka.", huffed Rumia and sled the door to the room open that Suwako was still in, and entered it together with Sanae and Nanatsu, leaving me alone with Kanako. I let out a small sigh, confused about my oldest rival. I had always been under the impression that I understood her, but her more recent actions and behavior had left me quite puzzled.

"Follow me, please. I believe that every second counts now." "It is not that urgent, Kanako, but we may as well just get this over with.", I replied and nodded. The blue-haired goddess blushed furiously as she turned away and gestured me to follow her. "This really smells like a trap..."

"So... How have you been, Kanako?", I asked in an attempt to start a conversation that I hoped would ease the tension between us. "F-fine. It has been four boring weeks since Mima's defeat, and Suwa and I have been asked to help rebuild locations in Gensokyo quite often.", replied Kanako quickly.

As we walked down the corridor, we passed a certain ice fairy staring at a wall, but I paid her no mind since I already knew that she was interested in walls. Then again, we had never used the word 'interest' around her, and had thus not heard from her what she was interested in, but it really wasn't that hard to figure out, meaning that it was senseless to ask her.

"It's been similar for me. The weeks have been somewhat boring, even though I enjoyed my time with Nanatsu and Rumia quite a lot. But it's just that I couldn't find any real peace after all that has happened. Each and every day, I am confronted with it again, and that will stay the same until I no longer see Gensokyo every day.", I groaned and, much like Rumia before, crossed my arms behind my head.

Kanako's red color increased, but I paid that no mind as well. "Here.", spoke Kanako all of sudden and sled a door open. I rose an eyebrow, since I had been under the impression that she'd guide me to the inner sanctuary of the shrine, the same one that I had fought her in one year before.

I entered the room Kanako had opened, and realized rather quickly that it was a bedroom. On the far side of the room lay a blue futon, but even though it was prepared and everything, it didn't look like it had been used in a while.

Some wardrobes of a lighter color caught my interest, probably oak wood, a colorful cloth on top. A single flower pot rested on the middle of that wardrobe, the flower inside of a blue color, but most of it's petals were already shed.

The large mirror on the wall was clean and reflected me and Kanako in it, but it also made me wonder why someone really needed a mirror of his own size. But who was I to question such a thing?

As I paced through the room, I sled my hand over the surface of a wooden table, which was surrounded by three chairs, but out of them, only one looked really comfortable due to a pink cushion lying on it. The vase on the table was empty aside from a little bit of water, no flower resting within, though.

A few pictures hung on the walls, and it didn't need a genius to figure out that those had been made by Aya Shameimaru due to the angle they were taken at: High above Youkai Mountain, displaying all of it's autumnal beauty, with all the orange, brown and yellow colors.

"Is this your room?", I asked, even though I really didn't need to ask. "Obviously.", snorted Kanako, only to return to her silent self a second later. "Looks like you haven't been in here for quite a while. You moved in with Suwako, huh?", I dared to comment as I walked up to the futon and looked down at it. "Yeah.", was Kanako's short, simple reply.

I let out a sigh and turned around, glared daggers at my first rival, the goddess of storm and war. "The hell is wrong with you? You're… weird today.", I huffed and rose an eyebrow at her. In reply, Kanako turned to the door we had come in through and closed it, but didn't respond at all. "Why are we in here? How is this going to help us find Koishi?" And finally, Kanako spoke again, a mischievous glint in her eyes as she locked the door.

"It's not going to help us find her. We aren't here to find her.", she answered, made sure that the lock was working, and then turned to me again. "What do you mean, Kanako?", I hissed and became cautious. So my first thought had been right... This was a trap, after all!

As she watched me, Kanako began to blush furiously again. She hesitated for a second, apparently nervous, and then made a step towards me. In just a second, I had both arms at the height of my chest and was in a defensive stance, ready for whatever Kanako wanted to throw at me.

I almost expected Kanako to stop there, but she didn't. She continued to approach me, an unsure expression on her face, yet her steps were timed and secure. "Orochi, I won't ask again... What is the meaning of this? I came here with the intention to not fight you, merely wanted to ask for your help...!", I hissed... but never got further.

Kanako moved faster than before, crossed the distance between us before I had the chance to defend myself, and pushed her palm against my chest. I gasped as I fell over my own feet, but the impact with the ground was not as hard as I had immediately feared, as I landed atop the futon on my back. I opened my eyes and let out a groan, found Kanako towering above me, her eyes still resting on me.

I was about to get up when Kanako suddenly leaned forwards and placed her hand against my chest again, this time not as violent as before, but rather... gentle. She pushed me onto my back with her full weight, her blush increasing even further.

It took me another full second to realize what compromising position we were in, with me on my back on the futon and her on all fours above me. And it didn't stop there, as I realized as soon as she gently pushed one of her legs between mine. "W-what if someone comes in now?! There is going to be a misunderstanding!"

"You came here to ask for my help... But first, I need your help...", breathed the goddess I had never really got along with as she gently traced a finger up my stomach up to my chest. The same finger trailed down my right arm, found it's way to my hand, and finally, Kanako's hand laid around mine and rose it. And all the while, I could only stare in shock at Kanako's face, frozen and unable to move.

"You see... I need you to... lend me a hand.", she continued and moved my hand up until it finally laid around something. Something round, big and soft. And there was this quick beat I felt against my hand. Kanako's heartbeat. Which meant that my hand rested... "WHAT?!"

Kanako let out a soft moan, but continued her assault nonetheless, let go of my hand and leant closer to my face. And at the same time that her hot breath hit my face for the first time, Kanako's hands began to fumble with the buttons of my shirt. "K-Kanako!", I gasped as I finally managed to speak again, but it came out as something that sounded, much to my horror, suspiciously lot like a moan.

The goddess leant closer before I managed to close my mouth, and her assault finally became horribly serious as her tongue immediately darted into my mouth and began to play with mine. I tried to move my body, tried to push her off, wanted to bite down on her tongue... But to my horror, I actually deepened the french kiss. "Bad time for my attraction to her to act up again!"

Cold air hit my chest as Kanako finally had managed to open the first three buttons of my chest, and I shuddered a bit. She continued with the fourth button, but hissed into my mouth as it refused to open... And once she was fed up enough with it, she just pulled until the remaining buttons ripped off. My shirt fell open, revealing my bare chest immediately... Much to Kanako's liking as it seemed, as she began to purr and sled a finger over my chest.

She stopped the kiss, ignored the thin string of saliva in between our mouths, and sat up. She reached for the back of her neck and fumbled a bit there, then put the mirror that she had carried around her neck aside me on the ground. The next thing that came off was rope around her waist, and much to my shock, there were two hands helping her... My hands!

Once that was off, the goddess grinned at me and reached for the lower end of her red shirt, and my hands followed hers, sled down her sides and caused the goddess atop me to moan. Her hands directed mine to the lower end of her shirt, then moved down her legs and onto my chest, traced the scars on my lower stomach and my chest as they moved up to my shoulders. She leant closer again, her smile grew.

Her lips captured mine again, her tongue entered my mouth without as much as asking for permission, and I slowly began to pull on her shirt, wanted it off. It was in the way. It was in between me and Kanako. Kanako wasn't moving, didn't want to break the kiss, but I became impatient. And that her lower body was rubbing against my lower stomach didn't help the situation at all.

My hands moved a bit, I grew impatient. This thing was in the way. My hands readied to just rip the goddamn red shirt off her, my mind became blank as our kiss sucked out all oxygen inside of me. I needed her. I wanted to feel her skin against mine. I needed her badly.

My kisses trailed away from her mouth, down her chin to her exposed neck, followed the delicious collarbone of hers. Hands shifted again and went for her collar, pulled on it. The sound of ripping clothes filled the air as I exposed her shoulder and kissed down it, made sure to sink my teeth in ever so often. Kanako shivered and shuddered, trembled and moaned, gasped for air. It seemed that I wasn't doing a bad job at all.

Her hands trailed up to my neck and curled around it, then moved up to the top of my head, pulled me against her. "Don't stop!", she begged and held onto my hair, threw her head back in another loud moan. Lust clouded my mind as I heard that moan, desire drove me mad. I bit down on the goddesses shoulder, enjoyed the taste of iron that filled my mouth.

My breath was quick, but Kanako's was no better. We held onto each other, kissed, let desire flood our systems to the very last bit. Nothing was on my mind as my hands found their way down to Kanako's butt and groped it, massaged it. Kanako yelled out, but bit down on her lower lip and closed her eyes. "P-Please...", she whispered into my ear as she leaned down to me again.

I didn't need to hear that again, moved my hands up to her waist and found the lower end of her shirt again. My hands moved under it, stroked across her firm stomach, then returned to the hem of her shirt again and began to pull it up, exposing a lot of her firm stomach to the cold air, made her shiver much like I had done before.

Her shirt was halfway off as she leaned down again and began to kiss me again. Her tongue trailed over my sharp teeth, but did not pull back. I felt Kanako smile against my lips, felt how her need increased just as much as mine... She lifted her upper body again, finally allowed me to pull her shirt off completely.

It was all the way up to her chest already, exposed a white bra to me, and I continued to pull on her shirt, wanted it off, wanted it to be gone... "NO!"

Reason returned all of sudden and I finally rose my right leg. My knee dug into Kanako's stomach and she hissed, but shifted her weight a bit, which in return allowed me to push her off.

I was gasping for air the moment that she stumbled backwards off me. Not wanting to risk her assault again, I quickly sat up, crawled backwards away from her and the futon I had been on all along, then used the wall and the wardrobe I had seen before to rise to my feet.

My gaze turned towards her, and I expected her to look hurt, betrayed or abandoned... But instead, she was smiling. She was smirking, even! "Oh, playing hard to get, hm? It's just like in the old times... I should've known you'd want to play like that again!", smiled the goddess, licked hungrily over her lips once, as if to savor the taste of our kisses.

"What was I thinking?!" "I assure you, you weren't thinking at all, you frustrated man."

Kanako chuckled sinisterly, licked her lips again and lowered her shirt again. I was just about to button my shirt up as good as possible when Kanako moved. And as her palm hit my chest this time, it was a lot less gentle.

~ No encounter between Chôzen and Kanako without a fight, I guess! Music cue: The Last Story - Evil Beasts ~

My lower back hit the wardrobe, and yet the power Kanako had used was strong enough to push me over it. The thin wall ripped as I hit it and I found myself flying through the next room, hit the ground there and rolled on it. "Winner gets to be on top!", shouted the goddess as she appeared above me and kicked me into the side again, threw me through this room as well.

A few more walls ripped this time, different rooms soared past me until I finally fell onto something, which broke under my weight. Four girls gasped, and as I opened my eyes, I found Sanae, Suwako, Nanatsu and Rumia all standing around me.

Looking around, I found myself in the room that Suwako had been sleeping in earlier, and that I had hit the kotatsu, which broke under my weight. "Chôzen?!", gasped Nanatsu as she helped me onto my feet, "What happened?! Why is your shirt open?!"

"It's Kanako!", I growled and held my side, the place that Kanako had just kicked me in, "She... tried to rape me!" Four girls rose their eyebrows, and Kanako entered the room through the hole I had created in the wall. She pushed past Sanae and Suwako, tried to punch me, but I caught her fist and pushed her past me, causing her to stumble and fall onto the ground.

"Interest!", screamed the green-haired miko just as Kanako rose. And all of sudden, the blue-haired goddess began to blush again, even though a hungry smile appeared on her lips and her eyes rested on me. "Chôzen Gekido is the most interesting individual I have ever encountered...", moaned Kanako and rose to her full height.

"K-Kanako is manipulated?!", gasped Suwako, but then realized he seriousness of the situation we were in and jumped towards me. Her attempt to protect me failed, though, as one of Kanako's onbashira fell through the ceiling and trapped her underneath it. "He's mine! Entirely mine!", roared Kanako and dashed for me again.

I rose my arms and crossed them in front of my chest, guarded me from her punch. She reached back for another punch, but I ducked underneath and put my arms around her legs. The goddess gasped as I pushed them, landed on my back just as I rose, and hit the ground behind me.

Her revenge was quick, though, as she grabbed my right ankle and pulled on it. With just her right hand alone, she swung me over her head and another wall broke as I hit it, but this time, I landed on a paved path with my back first, pain erupting everywhere in my body. I was outside, just in front of the shrine's porch.

Before I could rise from the ground, Kanako appeared above me. I rolled out of the way of her stomp, pointed my right hand at her and released a single, green flame that hit her face and made her stumble backwards. Using this to rise to my feet, I finally took deep breaths to replace the air that had been missing in my lungs.

Kanako hadn't stopped moving, either, had already recovered and was charging towards me again. I caught her fist, pushed it aside, then blocked the next punch with my right forearm. The agility that Kosuzu had praised to be just as strong as Mokou's kicked in and allowed me to react as her next punch followed. I ducked, extended one leg, and kicked her foot away.

"Chôzen, are you alright?", I heard Rumia shout, but found no time to reply, as Kanako had summoned one of her onbashira and sent it my way. The large pillar would have crushed me if it weren't for the agility that Kosuzu had praised, which allowed me to jump aside just in time.

I landed in sort of a handstand, but my right arm gave in and I rolled over the pavement. This had given Kanako time to rise to her feet, and as she threw herself at me again, I couldn't stop her. She landed on top of me, smirked as she pinned me down again. But I swore to myself that I wouldn't give into the old attraction again.

It merely took one powerful punch to the side of her face to get her off me, I rolled away from her, only to notice that I was near the stairs. My hand moved quickly and prevented me from falling down the stairs, but it hurt as my entire weight was leaned onto that hand.

Quickly pushing myself away from the stairs and back onto my feet, I looked up, only to find the next onbashira coming for me. I jumped, landed on top of it and ran up on it. The end of the onbashira came closer and closer, but so did Kanako, who flew over the Moriya Shrine.

Just as I reached the end of the pillar, I pushed myself off it and charged towards the goddess, body already glowing in green energy. "Negative Bullet!", I announced and felt how the green energy enclosed my body completely.

Kanako summoned yet another faith pillar, which fell out of the sky in a diagonal angle, aimed right at me. But that didn't stop me. In fact, the moment that the onbashira hit me, the negative energy covering my body allowed me to act much like a drill, and I rushed through the entire length of the onbashira, leaving a large tunnel in it.

The moment that I surfaced from the gigantic faith pillar, I noticed that Sanae, Rumia and Nanatsu had left the shrine and were watching us.

I landed on the roof just above the porch, pushed myself off there and headed for the onbashira that stuck in the roof, trapping Suwako underneath it. Pushing all of my energy into my feet, I put them against the side of the pillar, and actually caused it to fall over.

This meant only more damages to the shrine, as it broke through the roof and a wall during it's fall, but I couldn't care less as long as Suwako was free again and could help me against the desire-driven goddess. I would have to fix the damages that the shrine had taken, anyways. Great. The last thing I would have to do before leaving Gensokyo would be to fix the Moriya Shrine and the damages my fight with Kanako had caused.

For the third time in one year. Just great!

With Suwako free, I turned to Kanako, just as Sanae appeared in my vision and swung her gohei.

And ladies and gentlemen, behold the power of the living goddess of miracles, Sanae Kochiya... Who is also the goddess of randomness, as it seemed.

Something white fell out of the sky right above Kanako, who hadn't even noticed it. Until she was hit by the random washing machine from outer space, at least.

It hit her on the head and pulled her down with it, buried her underneath it for a second as both the goddess and the washing machine hit the roof of the shrine, then bounced off along with it and landed in front of the broken Moriya Shrine, where the washing machine ultimately trapped the squirming goddess underneath.

~ Music ends ~

Immediately, Suwako pushed the washing machine off, jumped on top of Kanako with a thick rope, tied the other goddess up tightly. "Kanako, you idiot!", she screamed and hit the goddess over the head, "Stop running after other people! You're mine!"

Kanako pouted and squirmed, but to no avail. "Kanako, you big idiot... Manipulated or not, that was not nice!"

Suwako jumped off her, but made sure to hold onto the rope that tied Kanako. She turned towards us while Kanako continued to struggle, tipped her hat a bit and sighed. "I'm sorry for what she has done. And don't worry, Chôzen, this time, Kanako will fix the shrine! After I disciplined her!"

The blonde goddess sent the blue-haired goddess a terrifying glare, then turned to us again. "You should take your leave and resolve this as fast as possible before Kanako tries to follow you again. I make sure she'll not, but I can't promise anything... Ah, and Koishi Komeiji is underground, at Chireiden!", suggested Suwako.

Immediately, my wives and I facepalmed. "So she was underground all along! It was all for nothing?! The smallest of all possibilities, as usual!"

"Before you go, I'd like to have a word with you, Chôzen...", spoke the smaller goddess, and stepped up to me, but never let go of the rope that Kanako was bound with, "Where have you been the past four weeks?! You missed Karaoke night!"

I sweatdropped at her. "Uh... I never go to that karaoke night of yours...", I muttered. And that got Suwako angry. She began to flail her arms around, stomped on the ground and cursed. "THAT'S NOT THE POINT!", she finally bellowed, and I sweatdropped again. "That was random... Do you think she's manipulated as well?" "She would've reacted before then, but then again, she could've overheard it like Kogasa... One way to find out, I guess..."

"Why do you ask? Are you interested in karaoke?", I asked and rose an eyebrow at her. But Suwako frowned at me. "Why do you bring that topic up?", she asked back. And I slumped my shoulders and frowned. "This feels like talking with Yoshika!" "But you brought that topic up, Suwako!", I complained. And the blonde goddess stomped on the ground again. "THAT IS NOT THE POINT!"

"Oh, Suwako, you never miss a chance to troll me, huh?", I thought and rolled my eyes. "Go now! You have a mission, don't you?", smirked Suwako, well aware that I had understood that she had fooled me again. I nodded and Suwako crossed her arms in front of her chest.

Suwako didn't say goodbye, merely nodded for a last time and turned back to the shrine. "Sanae, please leave Kanako and me alone for a while. I need to teach her a few things about chasing other people while she is in a relationship with me!", she announced, and the green-haired miko yelped and nodded quickly.

"Geez, now I know what you meant with people being after your ass, Rumia. I can relate now...", I growled and blushed, turned my gaze away from them. "Guess so. Let's not talk about that anymore, let's just find Koishi and get this over with...", huffed the Angel of Death, her cat ears twitching, and I nodded while I finally buttoned my shirt up.

To say that I was embarrassed was an understatement.

"Orochi, you idiot..."


"So... let's try and figure out as much as we can.", suggested Nanatsu. I was pulled out of my thoughts by her, stopped focusing on the noises of water dripping from the ceiling, and turned to look at Nanatsu and Rumia, who were flying behind me. "We have to figure this out on our own, huh? Well, not like Eirin and Kanako were of any help...", commented Rumia with an irritated chuckle.

"Not our fault.", I huffed and rolled my eyes. Rumia was really irritated after all that had happened. "But that helped us to figure out something really important!", interrupted Nanatsu, apparently not too pleased with me and Rumia almost picking another fight. "We did?", the Angel of Death and I asked in perfect unison, both of us a confused frown on our faces.

"Yeah, in fact, we did. Just think about it... The first important thing is that whoever the culprit is could manipulate everyone, no matter their strength. We saw both weak Youkai like Mystia, Yurei like Cirno, average Youkai like Keine Kamishirasawa, immortal like Mokou or Kaguya, human like Marisa, and even powerful Youkai like a goddess, in this case Kanako, being manipulated.", began Nanatsu.

I looked around and thought over what Nanatsu had said, but also searched around for the Tsuchigumo and the Tsurube-Otoshi that usually lingered around the entrance to the old hell ever so often. But up to now, neither of them had appeared, and we were already near the bridge that people no longer cross, where Parsee resided.

"Second thing we figured out: Whoever the culprit is, he is immune to poison. This indicates that our culprit either has no nose or mouth at all, or does not breathe.", she continued, drawing my attention back to the Shinigami. "Someone without a nose or a mouth? Like, with no face at all? I think I heard of someone like that once, but it was just a ghost story... I think.", muttered Rumia, scratching the back of her head. (3)

"Third thing: Our culprit seems to have the ability to manipulate interests, or at least an ability that can do such a thing, much like Koishi Komeiji's manipulation of the subconsciousness. Any other abilities we know that can do such a thing?", asked the Shinigami. "As usual, my answer would be: My dear half-sister.", huffed Rumia, and I nodded. Indeed, Yukari Yakumo was able to do many things due to her ability covering a large variance of other abilities.

We flew over the bridge without being stopped by Parsee, even though she was present. The bridge princess was indeed on the bridge, but instead of being her coolheaded, usual self that sat around or stood leaned against the railing and watched those who passed, Parsee was running up and down on the bridge. "Add Parsee to our list." "Got it! Parsee Mizuhashi, interested in running."

With the bridge that people no longer cross behind us, it was merely a matter of minutes until we would reach the ancient city. "We should find Yuugi first. Without an invitation, we won't get into Chireiden, even though the guards may know who we are, and in what relation we are to Satori, especially me. Yuugi can give us the allowance to enter, though.", I thought aloud, and my wives nodded at me.

"Sounds like a plan to me.", concluded Nanatsu, "But still, something about this all isn't right. It feels like Koishi has done this, and yet not! What if it was Yukari, after all?" "I don't think it was Yukari. It doesn't feel like her. Sure, this seems like a big joke that Yukari would pull off... But I think there is more to this. Something we have completely overlooked yet.", I replied.

"As weird as it may sound... I have to agree. My half sister has the power, but this doesn't feel like her work.", agreed Rumia, her face distorted into an angry, annoyed snarl. She looked down at the city beneath us and balled her fists. "She's really tense today... Is it because of what has happened so far?"

"We're about to find out, I guess. If our culprit is Koishi Komeiji, we'll know as soon as we find her.", mused Nanatsu, "If not, we'll have to continue chasing after the real culprit." "Let's just hope Yuugi isn't manipulated as well. It won't become any easier if we can't get the allowance from her. If that should be the case, we'll have to ask for an audience with Satori like anybody else, and since she is quite a busy individual, this could take quite a while.", I commented and sent a glance into her direction, then focused on the busy streets below us again in hope to spot the ex-deva of the mountain somewhere in the crowd.

"What exactly is she busy with, anyways?", grumbled the irritated Angel of Death, which in return irritated me a bit as well. Her bad mood wasn't exactly helping, even though it probably could help us: Rumia used to be more reliable and way more powerful if she was enraged about something. Insanity used to be the same, and so did I. Nanatsu, on the other hand, was prone to make mistakes once she was enraged, since she easily became nervous.

If serious, though, Nanatsu would be powerful as well.

"If you need to know so badly... Satori, as the highest noble of the underground and thus the inofficial leader of the former hell, works with and for nobody else but your boss, Shikieiki.", I hissed, irritation getting to me as well.

"Huh?", muttered Rumia and frowned. "When the hell was moved by the Circle of Yama due to overpopulation, this place down here became known as the former hell. The former capital of hell, better known as ancient city to us, is now the place where most inhabitants of the underground live, and Chireiden became Satori's home.", I began, not once tearing my eyes away of the crowded streets beneath us.

"As you probably know, Rin carries corpses to the hellfire, the Hell of Blazing Fires, where Utsuho burns them to regulate the heat down here. It used to lay dormant after hell was moved, at least until Utsuho ate the Yatagarasu's corpse and became like we know her. Ever since then, the Hell of Blazing Fires has been re-ignited, and the Yama know it." "And what does this have to do with Enma-sama?"

"They can't just use the hellfires like that! The Yama have to and do know about this. And since it's convenient, corpses are burnt down here, just like in old times. But this also means that someone has to keep track of how many corpses were burnt, who they were and all this stuff so that the Yama know. If too many corpses would be burnt at once, it could have disastrous outcomes!" "Like?", asked Rumia sceptically.

"Release of too many evil spirits at once, overheating of the underground that lies beneath the entire Gensokyo, creation of too much hot air underneath Gensokyo which in return would lead to explosive release on the surface in shape of geyser, and of course the simple but violent annihilation of the entire Gensokyo by one giant explosion. Any further questions?", I groaned, "Oh! And don't forget the possibility that the entire Gensokyo could turn into one gigantic, deserted hell because of extreme heat from below."

This shut Rumia up, which was actually a good thing, because it prevented us from starting another argument. Nanatsu let out an amused snort after I had finished my rant, then pointed down at one particularly crowded street. "I found Yuugi!"

"Alright. To finish my explanation to you, Rumia... Satori is the one who keeps track of all that happens down here. At least once in one month, she and Shikieiki get in touch to discuss what has been going on down here, and how it goes from there.", I finished, sent Rumia a last glare, and then changed my course towards the crowded street and Yuugi. "I'll handle this. We meet at Chireiden."

None of the Youkai seemed to care, simply minded their own business, as I landed on the crowded street and jogged towards the woman I had been looking for. "Yuugi.", I called out, turning the attention of several Youkai to me. They all acknowledged me with a single glance, then turned back to mind their own business. However, the Oni I had called out to did not turn back around and instead hurried over to me.

"Yo, Chôzen!", she greeted and waved, patted me on the shoulder with the tremendous strength Oni possessed. After almost being pushed into the ground by just the friendly pats, I let out a nervous chuckle and ignored the numbness spreading through my shoulder. "Always the same with her..."

"Hey Yuugi.", I chuckled, "I'm in need of your assistance once more." "Ah, what's it this time? Do I need to throw you at an evil spirit again?", she taunted with a knowing smirk. "Nope, not this time. I simply need your allowance to see Satori as fast as possible... Koishi could be the source of an incident in Gensokyo.", I explained, earning a frown from Yuugi.

"That so? Hah, and here I thought we'd finally get to drink some Sake together.", she grumbled. "Sorry, Yuugi. Maybe some other time." "When I'll return to Gensokyo some day..." "Alright. But it surely is annoying that you only come to visit whenever there is some incident or something.", huffed Yuugi, then reached inside her cleavage, only to pull out a small, white, folded piece of paper.

"Here.", she exclaimed and handed me the piece of paper, "This is an allowance to enter Chireiden immediately. Yamame, Parsee and I have been told to carry these around and give them only to those who really need to see her. This seems to be such a case again." "Guess so. How is your relationship with Parsee?", I asked and took the allowance.

"I'd wish I'd know. Yesterday, we were making progress, and today, all she's doing is running around. It's almost like she is only..." "Interested in running around, hm?", I finished and sighed, "Yuugi, exactly that is the incident we are experiencing on the surface. People start to go mad, only have one single thing they want to do all the time... The worst thing is: We don't know who the culprit is, and the victims appear to be random."

"I see. Makes sense that you suspect that it's the younger Komeiji with her ability to manipulate the subconsciousness... But why would she do that?" "Koishi is a strange one, and you know it. Ever since she closed her third eye, she's been acting entirely subconsciously, does not even know what she is doing or why... And we can't understand this behavior, as we act conscious.", I concluded, leaving Yuugi to frown.

"Guess so. Good luck with resolving this then. And next time you drop by, it better be because you want to drink or have a rematch.", chuckled Yuugi and patted my back, almost causing me to fall flat onto my face due to her power. "One day, I'll get used to this, I swear!" "Sure. I'll promise." "See you in a hundred years or so, Yuugi..."

"Good! Now get your ass to Chireiden and find out why Koishi would be doing all of this!", snickered the tall woman, slammed her hand down on my shoulder with enough power for the ground under me to finally crack, and then turned away. "Oh, and I'll hope you'll fix Parsee, too. I can become quite unpleasant if my emerald is hurt or similar..", she called over her shoulder, and then finally vanished in the crowd.

I waited for a few seconds, then shook my head and smiled, turned towards the direction of the large, western-styled mansion... The Palace of the Earth Spirits, Chireiden. "Ha! How cute...!", I chuckled and began to walk, never spotting the individual with sparkling eyes atop the houses to my left, "She's calling Parsee her 'emerald'!"

This was all the individual needed. While I continued to walk towards Chireiden, minding my own business while humming a song, the individual leaped off the houses, extended one foot and charged at me in a kick. And as the foot of the individual connected with my back and let me scream out in pain and surprise, the individual cried out as well, even though it sounded more like the cutest battlecry ever heard.

"Uuuuh~!"

"Damn you, Remilia!"

x Line x

I rose my right hand, threw the folded piece of paper Yuugi had given me into the face of the hell raven that guarded the entrance to Chireiden, and waited for it and the Oni on the other side of the gate to open it. "Why the bad mood all of sudden?", inquired my usually foul-mouthed, blonde wife with a small frown. "You won't believe who I ran into...", I grumbled, "Or rather: Who ran into me, quite literally."

"Another one who has been manipulated into being interested in you?", asked Nanatsu from the other side, just as the large gate opened. "Nah, rather one we already met.", I snorted and moved. "Oh, let me guess!", exclaimed Rumia, jogged up to me and suddenly slapped my ass, "Byakuren, the great almighty ass groper!"

"Nope.", I snarled and pushed the hand away, "Someone more offensive." "Iku then? She sure knew how to be offensive.", commented the Angel of Death with the cat ears, and I was well aware that she was referring to the theft of her panties by the Oarfish Youkai. "Not exactly. The violent offensive." "Ooooh.", exclaimed both of my wives in unison, "Remilia." "Exactly."

"Geez, she sure comes around once she's out of her mansion, hm?", sniggered my second wive. "The same could be said about Cirno. I saw her four times today, and I am honestly expecting her to appear behind every corner now, staring at yet another wall.", I grumbled in return and began to rub my temples. The headache was coming back. "Sounds a lot like what Kogasa did with all her 'appearing behind corners to scare us'-thing..."

While I silently agreed with that, I did not voice it and simply continued walking through the large main corridor of Chireiden, ever so often glancing left and right, just to be safe that there wasn't another stalker' like Kanako or Mystia.

"I forgot something before, by the way.", began Nanatsu anew, "The fourth and fifth things that we found out so far... The fourth thing: The interests that have been awoken by the manipulation can lay dormant until something awakes them... Kanako Yasaka was the best example for that. She had an interest in Chôzen, but did not react to the word 'interest' until she met Chôzen in person, thus awaking the desire. Same happened with Rumia and Mystia." "Don't remind me...", I sneered.

"What's the fifth thing?", inquired Rumia, apparently bemused by my misfortune. Good thing she and Nanatsu didn't know that what Kanako had tried wasn't as much rape as I had accused it to be. "That's the most interesting and yet scary thing... The interests that have been awoken by the manipulation are not entirely random.", explained Nanatsu, earning a frown from both me and Rumia.

"Mima was interested in Yuuka to begin with, same with Reimu and Yukari. In both cases, there has been a relationship before.", began Nanatsu and glanced towards us, "Hong Meiling tends to visit Sly's pub at least once a week for a drink, Patchouli once mentioned that she liked cats due to their grace, Koakuma likes her mistress Patchouli and thus purple."

"Now that you mention it... Remilia doesn't admit it very often, but does like to be childish and play sometimes. Byakuren, on the other hand, always lives very reserved, never once carrying about her own needs and desires... Thus probably the violent, perverted interest.", I mused. "Yeah. Don't know why Nue chose a ceiling, but she is the unknown, after all.", sniggered Rumia, flashing her teeth. Both Nanatsu and I rolled her eyes.

"Probably due to her liking high places, thus the ceiling, the highest area of the room.", corrected Nanatsu, and we rounded a corner. "Shou tends to lose things, 'throwing them away' so to speak... And Kogasa always wanted to surprise people, scaring them." , I continued the thought. "Keine Kamishirasawa likes everything related to history and past, especially old buildings, like that well in the middle of the village.", agreed Rumia, now serious.

"Going back to the thing with being interested in the contrary of one's personality, like with Byakuren, Marisa tends to be loud and obnoxious, but was interested in silence as a result. Alice, who wants to animate the inanimate, dolls, of course was interested in that leaf, because it was moved by the wind, and thus looked like it moved on it's own. And Youmu always has to watch how Yuyuko gobbles up everything she gets.", I muttered.

"Eientei belongs to Tewi, and Kaguya, Eirin and Reisen merely live there. This could explain why she was interested in that door, which is part of her house. Kaguya's and Mokou's interests happened due to each other, it turned around their relationship, making Kaguya the more aggressive one... I don't know what the hell Eirin was about, but then again, we don't know what she was interested in, and if she was even manipulated at all."

I nodded at Nanatsu's words, confused about the last thing as well... We had bolted the moment that we spotted Eirin, and hadn't dared to find out if Eirin had been manipulated at all. "Goddamn it... Now that I think about... If Eirin would've been not manipulated, we could've asked her for help, after all!"

"If this fifth thing is true, it would also explain a few more things... Not necessarily Tenshi's sudden need to dance or why Suika went around in a handstand, but Iku...", I began, but shuddered in perfect unison with Rumia and Nanatsu. "You know what, let's just stop trying to find the reasons for all of the different types of interests and let's just focus on finding Ko..."

I was silenced as a door smashed open somewhere and loud laughter began to echo through the corridors. Before I could exchange confused glances with my wives, Utsuho rounded the corner... Only was she flying upside-down, laughing her ass off.

"Okuu?", I asked in an attempt to get her attention, but she just flew over our heads while she laughed. "Don't have time, see you later, Chôzen!", she yelled. "Interest!", I called after her, just before she rounded the next corner. "Upside-down, the world looks entirely different! It's much more interesting!", echoed her voice from around the corner, and I facepalmed in unison with my wives. "I can't believe it! Even in Chireiden!", groaned the irritated Angel of Death.

"You know, for some reason, I am reminded of a joke in a video game like those that Kaguya has with all of this happening on one day!", I groaned and glared at the corner that Utsuho had vanished behind. "Oh, so you've played Super Smash Brothers Brawl before.", muttered a voice into my ear, causing me to flinch madly.

I twirled around, blinked... And stared into freaky, huge, orange-yellow eyes twice as large as normal eyes.

~ Eerie silence: Metal Gear Solid 4 - Mantis' Hymn ~

I yelped, pushed negative energy into my feet and jumped away from those eyes. More colors filled my vision as I did; pink, blue, yellow. And as my feet set down on the ground again, I finally realized that the "huge eyes" weren't exactly eyes, but part of a mask. A gas mask.

"S-satori...?", I murmured as I realized who I was facing. The small girl, much to my confusion, was wearing that black gas mask with those freaky orange-yellow eyes... But why was she? "You've been playing on Easy Mode, haven't you?", asked the muffled voice of Satori, barely above a whisper. "Excuse me?", I muttered and felt how my left eyelid began to twitch. "What the...?"

"So you like to play Koumajou Densetsu! (4)", exclaimed the three-eyed Youkai and began to hover over the ground. "Satori, what the hell is wrong with you?", I growled and took a defensive stance, just as Satori began to laugh sinisterly, and then... vanished into nothingness. Or at least, turned partially invisible, leaving back a water-like distortion in midair. "Optical Camouflage! It's like with that Kappa, Nitori! She must have purchased it from the kappa... For whatever reason.", exclaimed Rumia as she jumped over to me, Tyrfing already drawn.

"You! You doubt my power!?", roared Satori's voice from all around us, the water-like distortion moving through the air until I lost sight of it. "Her voice is echoing off the walls! Where the hell is she?", snarled Nanatsu from behind me, suddenly back-to-back with me, Rumia standing with her back to us to our left.

"Now I will show you why I am the most powerful practitioner of mind-reading in the world!", echoed Satori's voice anew. "God, with that mask on, she sounds like she's been smoking her entire life.", groaned Rumia over her shoulder. "There's no need for words, you three... I can read your every thought!", came the voice of the pink haired Youkai from my right.

And as I turned into that direction along with Nanatsu and Rumia, Satori finally became visible again. "I am Psycho...!", began Satori, only to be interrupted by Rumia snorting out loud. "Oh yeah, I knew that you were psycho all along.", commented the Angel of Death, leaving me to snort in amusement, Nanatsu to roll her eyes, and Satori to seethe in anger.

"Still don't believe me? Now I'll read more deeply into your soul.", sneered the muffled voice, and Satori began to move her arms in an almost mystic appearing way. "You like Danmaku games, don't you?" I rose an eyebrow. "So you like adventure games?" "Well, I guess we're having an adventure here, but how is this a game?", asked Nanatsu as she leaned closer. I shrugged.

"Did you enjoy playing ETERNAL DARKNESS?", whispered Satori and pointed both of her arms at us. "What is eternal darkness? Sounds like a spellcard of mine, but I don't remember one being called that...", mused Rumia with a frown, one finger scratching her chin, "...Maybe I should make one that is called like that...?"

"You seem to like The Legend of Zelda, don't you?" "Okay, this is getting ridiculous. Satori, stop this nonsense and come down here!", I bellowed. "Hm... You three have not saved your progress yet. You are somewhat reckless... Or you cheated to come this far!", retorted Satori. "SATORI KOMEIJI, GET YOUR ASS DOWN HERE!", I roared, "It would be in your best interest!"

"Metal Gear Solid is interesting~", hummed Satori's voice back, and we all frowned. "Just what the hell is Metal Gear Solid?" "Sounds like one of Kaguya's video games, if you ask me. But there is no way Satori would about video games!"

"I can read you like an open book!", declared Satori, back to her weird behavior. "This is getting on my nerves. Let me knock her out.", snarled Insanity, and before I could raise the barrier I had build up against him, he took control of my body and went into a battle stance.

And Satori flipped.

"I can't read you!", shrieked the gas mask-wearing girl as soon as the green colors on my body had changed to Insanity's crimson, "Why! Why can't I read you anymore?! You put the controller in port 2, didn't you?!"

Her hands darted to her head and she grabbed her own hair, shrieked and threw herself around. "What?! Where is your data?! Where is it saved?! There is no memory!" "Just what the hell is wrong with her? I don't get half of the things she's talking about..." "Meh, I don't do, either. But whoever those words are addressed at will understand the meaning of her messages... I think. For us, though, she's just babbling some crap."

"THE VIBRATION IS BACK!", shrieked Satori as she continued to throw herself around... And suddenly, she went limp and fell to the ground, landing on it with a soft thump.

~ Music ends ~

Insanity blinked several times, before he just shook his head and vanished back into my mind and left me in control of my body again. "Now... What the hell was that about?", asked Rumia as she dismissed the blade of bloodlust and walked over to me, scratching her head. "Like I know.", I commented and walked over to Satori, bowed down next to her and unstrapped the gas mask, then pulled it off.

Satori's face looked like it always did, save for the small imprints from the gas mask on her face.

With the mask gone, I placed two fingers on the side of her neck. "She fainted... For whatever reason.", I called over my shoulder, then picked up the unconscious girl and carried her within my arms. "Let's get her back to her room.", I suggested and nodded to the door that Utsuho had burst out before.

I didn't wait for the reply, merely walked with the girl in my arms into the room. I didn't look around much inside the room, ignored the extravagant design that reminded me of Remilia's room even without looking at it for long.

I set Satori gently down on her canopy bed, shook my head at the unconscious girl. "Geez, can this day get any weirder?" From out of the corner of my eyes, I saw how Rumia entered the room and placed the gas mask I had taken off Satori's face on the nightstand and shook her head. "Another weird one.", she commented, and I nodded.

Without another word, we left the room, and I closed the door behind me. "And now for Koishi...", I murmured as I turned away from the door. "Koishi? She's in the dining room.", smiled Rin, who had been talking with Nanatsu. "Rin? Since when are you here?", I asked. "The moment you entered Satori-sama's room. I've been trying to calm her down the entire morning.", explained the kasha.

"I see. Can you lead us to her?", I inquired, and Rin nodded. "Of course. By any chance, have you seen..." "Utsuho went that way, upside-down.", I replied before she could finish her question, and pointed down the corridor. "Ah.", she simply muttered, then gestured us to follow.

"You`re trying to solve this incident, huh?", asked the kasha as she glanced over her shoulder, just before we rounded a corner. "Yeah. And you don't even know half of the crap we've been through until now. And all on just one day!", sneered my second wife and threw her hands into the air. "I don't think I want to know, sis. Sounds anything but pleasant."

"You don't have a goddamn idea how right you are!", snarled Rumia in reply and turned to look out of the windows to our left. "I have a small idea... Satori-sama and Okuu have been weird all day, and I have heard that Parsee is behaving out of character as well.", shrugged Rin, "But I don't think I know half of what you've been through, yeah."

"Don't get your panties in a twist, Rumia.", chuckled Nanatsu, and the Angel of Death cringed at the mention of her panties, then glared daggers at Nanatsu, who just continued to giggle to herself. "Sis, since when are you a neko, anyways?", inquired the kasha and glanced at Rumia's new cat ears. "I am not. Some crazy sorceress was messing around with some weird liquids. Got hit by some."

"Ah. That sorceress as the mansion of Miss Scarlet?" "Exactly that one.", growled Rumia, then turned back to the windows again. I shared an amused smile with Nanatsu just as we reached the doors to the dining room.

Rin stepped up to them and threw the doors open, revealing the room we had once talked with Satori in just before we had gone down into the Hell of Blazing Fires to calm Utsuho, the same event which I had eventually regained my memories in.

Koishi sat, untypically for her, totally calm on one of the chairs and observed us as we entered. She didn't say a single thing until we stood on the opposite side of the table. And then, much to our surprise, leaned over the table and extended a hand to me.

"Good day. I have awaited you three.", she began, her voice untypically serious and calm, "Well, that isn't entirely true. I was expecting Reimu Hakurei, but I believe she has become victim of this incident as well?" "Koishi?", I muttered, but shook her hand, even though I was wondering how Koishi knew of western-styled greetings.

"Indeed. Is something the matter?" I deadpanned, shared a short glance with my wives, and turned back to Koishi. "Interest.", I stated, and Koishi nodded. "It is in my greatest interest to be serious.", replied Koishi.

Not only my mouth fell open. My left eyelid began to twitch madly as I tried to process what I had just learned. "Wait... Koishi is most likely the culprit of this incident." "Check." "If so, it is her ability to manipulate the subconsciousness of people that leads to this behavior." "Check." "Koishi is victim of this incident." "Check."

"SHE MANIPULATED HERSELF?!", I shouted in perfect unison with Nanatsu and Rumia, stared in utter disbelief at the now serious Koishi sitting on the other side of the table. "I believe that is not the case, my friends, as for I am not the culprit behind this incident.", replied Koishi, leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes.

"Not?", I asked, only somewhat surprised. "Well, at least she didn't manipulate herself. That would've been weird." "No, my friends. The real culprit behind this incident is someone I do not know yet, even though she seems to be aware of you three, so I believe you have met her already."

Koishi rose from her chair and began to walk a bit. "She came here, saying that she had to change Gensokyo. She was talking about avoiding you three, as she was scared of your powers, Chôzen, saying that her ability would not work on you. Instead, she wants to build up a small army to get rid of you.", explained the younger Komeiji sister, not once opening her eyes.

"Sounds awfully lot like Mima's last plan, but it can't be her, she is manipulated as well.", mused Nanatsu. "Wouldn't be the first time that her own magic blew up in her own face and affected her as well. I think I remember you two telling me of Mima's past failed attempts to temper with the laws of nature.", commented Rumia nonchalantly.

"Yeah... Remember the notes we found in her room at Mugenkan, Chôzen? Mima messed with things quite a lot.", agreed Nanatsu, but I shook my head. "This isn't Mima... I can feel it's not her.", I grumbled, then turned to Koishi again, "How did that girl look like?"

"Tall, about Miss Alice's height. She looked a little pale, had gray-greenish hair like me, a little darker, though. She was wearing a yellow and black dress along with white kneesocks. She was moving a bit weird, almost as if guided by strings, or perhaps unaffected by gravity."

"You know... If her hair was a little bit darker, let's say teal-colored... And if she was unaffected by gravity... Had pale skin...", began Nanatsu, and it clicked inside my head. "Sounds awfully lot like Soga no Tojiko, the ghost living with Toyosatomimi no Miko, huh?", I finished, and Nanatsu nodded. "Exactly my thought."

I turned back to Koishi. "Thanks, Koishi. You've been a great help... I think we know the culprit now.", I smiled. "Good to hear, my friends. I am content now that I could be of any help to you.", replied the younger Komeiji and bowed. "Koishi...", I began and shuddered, "Become normal again real soon. You're scaring me if you are this serious." "Perhaps so, but I couldn't have helped you if I were my normal self, right?" "Well, that is true..."

Glancing towards Rin, Koishi nodded, and the kasha nodded back. "Come on, I'll lead you out.", she spoke and turned to the door. "Time to depart, my friends. Please come visit me once you are back in Gensokyo, alright?", smiled Koishi and bowed again. "Of course.", smiled Nanatsu at the younger Komeiji, and then turned to leave along with me and Rumia.

It wasn't until we had left Chireiden that I noticed something.

"Wait... How did Koishi know we are going to leave Gensokyo?!"

"The power of the subconsciousness...!"


The rays of sunlight felt good on my skin, even though it was already late afternoon, bathing Gensokyo in a soft orange light. With the entrance of the underground right behind us, the noises of water dripping from it's ceiling still echoing out of the cave, I allowed myself to close my eyes for a moment, just enjoying this.

"So... Does anyone know where Miko lives now? I believe she left the mausoleum quite a while ago...", began Nanatsu, catching my attention. I opened my eyes again and looked at her, sighed. "Sadly, I don't know where Toyosatomimi no Miko lives... I think she wanted to build something like a temple or something near the human village in order to keep up the competition with the Myouren Temple, but I don't know it's exact location...", I mused.

"Well, then just tag along!", exclaimed a new voice, one I had heard before that day. Looking over to my left, I found a certain Yamabiko walking up to us, waving. "Kyouko!", I gasped, on purpose keeping my voice low to prevent any problems with Kyouko and her habit to repeat loud voices, and the Yamabiko smirked. "Hey. What a coincidence to meet you again. And that on the same day!", she greeted back.

"What did you mean with 'Then tag along'?", asked Rumia in her usual, bold, to-the-point way."I'm headed for Miko's pagoda (5). Murasa sent me to get help there... She said that Miko is the only one to keep Byakuren-sama in line... Murasa was scared Byakuren-sama would beat her high score at fondling.", explained Kyouko and waved her hand a bit, causing us to sweatdrop.

"Last resort, huh? Calling the rival to stop Byakuren from fondling everyone...", I chuckled uneasily. "Exactly. Miko is, after all, Byakuren-sama's rival!", smirked Kyouko, giving me a thumbs-up for a reason I couldn't figure out. "So you're headed for that pagoda? Well, would save us the time to figure out where it is...", I muttered. "Not too far from the human village, approximately same distance as to the Myouren Temple, but to the west."

"Right. Please show us the way, Kyouko.", smiled Nanatsu, and the Yamabiko nodded.

Without another word, she took off into the sky and we followed immediately. At that point, my mind was set on finally ending this just too weird incident once and for all before things really got out of hand... Even more than they already were.

The weird things with Satori, Iku, Remilia and most and worst of all, Kanako, had shown me just how much this manipulation of interests could change a person to the very core. Kanako, who hated me with her very being, had suddenly tried to seduce me, me of all people!

I guess I had figured out just how much interests defined who we were and what we did. The simple twist of one interest and you were an entirely different persons. You change in what you like and who you like. You begin to think differently. You want to do things you may have never done before. Your entire personality becomes different.

Until that moment, I had never thought of interests in that way. To be honest, I never thought much about interests at all, simply acknowledged their presence. I had my own share of interests, some of them normal, others entirely weird.

My interests changed sometimes, depending on my mood and the location... No, actually, they don't change, but rather just change in their importance.

Water lilies are interesting to me, but I never care enough to just stand there and watch them... Only if I am at Misty Lake, I do stop to watch them. I had done so countless times on my way home from the mansion. And it is only then that I notice how different they are. Some of them are small, some of them are wither faster than others, and some of them refuse to bloom at all.

And of course, the difference between those at Misty Lake and those that drift upon the water on top of Youkai Mountain, right behind the Moriya Shrine. Those drift slower, but tend to circle the faith pillars of Kanako, ever so often gently bump into those. They also tend to wither a lot later than those at Misty Lake, and their beauty is entirely different from those at Misty Lake, blooming a darker shade of pink.

I think that Nanatsu and her little quirks are interesting as well, but I hardly notice them. This may have to do with the fact that I've been around her for so long, especially during my time of nihilism. However, I do notice those quirks a lot more often if it's just me and Nanatsu. They become more interesting to me the more intimate we get. Could be natural, but for all I know, it's an interest I can hardly abandon.

Same goes for Rumia as well, of course, but I have not been around her as long and notice her quirks and habits a lot more even if the moment is not exactly intimate.

There are too many interests that I have to name them all, but yeah... What would be if I was interested in something else? Would I be someone completely else?

"There it is."

Kyouko's voice pulled me out of my thoughts and I quickly shook my head in a desperate attempt to get rid of my thoughts.

Looking ahead, I found a large, several story tall Pagoda in front of us. It's white walls shone in the sunlight, and each of the stories had it's own walkway on the outside, surrounding it in it's entirety. Colorful Chinese lanterns hung on the walkways, but they were not lit. Block-like lamps reaching up to my hip were located at the corners of the walkways, and they were lit, but unlike torches, had a steady glow rather than a flickering shine. "Must be some kind of glowing stone or something..."

When Kyouko started to descend, I followed her right away, Nanatsu and Rumia hot on my heels. Even though Kyouko had been leading us, I was eventually the one who landed first, and knocked on the doors to the Pagoda even before my feet set down on the ground.

To my very surprise, the door gave in after only two knocks. It was unlocked, open actually. Seeing this as a bad sign, I pushed the door completely open and stepped, without as much as a second thought, into the pagoda.

Sure, it was rude to enter a building just like that. And sure, it was the pagoda of the Taoists, and much like the Myouren Temple a place to seek refuge in, meaning that it was open to everyone... So, I don't know if it was okay or not. No matter if it was okay or not, after all I had been through that day, I saw this unlocked, slightly ajar door as a bad sign.

Not looking back once, I entered the building without my wives and Kyouko, glanced around in the dimly lit entrance hall. "I swear to god, if Kogasa appears in here just once, I'm going to pee my pants! The atmosphere in here is already creepy enough..."

Even though I was in the entrance hall, I already heard what sounded a lot like the bass of a song, accompanied by some mess that sounded like several voices talking at once. I stopped in the middle of the entrance hall and looked up at the ceiling, frowned. "What's with the noise...?", I murmured, just as three girls entered the room; Nanatsu, Rumia and Kyouko.

Immediately, the Angel of Death hissed and placed her hands on her cat ears, hissed in a very cat-like way. "What's with all the noise? It hurts my ears!", complained the Angel of Death, glared up at the ceiling. "I think it sounds suspiciously lot like music... Or at least, it reminds of that.", commented Nanatsu, frowning at the ceiling as well.

"Uhm...", began Kyouko and attracted my attention that way, "I don't think it is wise if I stay around... With all this noise, I mean. It would not only be torture to me, but your ears as well... Believe me, I repeat every noise that I hear... No matter how loud or wrong it is." "We'll tell Miko to come to the Myouren Temple if we see her. Thank you for guiding us here.", smiled Nanatsu and bowed.

Kyouko nodded once, then quickly walked out of the building. "Guess that leaves us three again.", commented Rumia even before Kyouko was gone, but still held her cat ears close, "Us and that damn racket up there."

"Oi!", bellowed the Angel of Death up to the ceiling, "Turn that music down!" No response, of course, and no reaction regarding the volume. "That won't do it. Guess we have to go up there.", I huffed, and Rumia growled out loud. "Better hope we don't have to fight... I can't fight and hold my cat ears closed at the same time!", complained my second wife, not once letting go of her second pair of ears.

"I hope so. I could need your help if we're going to fight against someone. Don't get me wrong, Nanatsu, I know you're capable of holding your own ground in a fight... Actually, you're packing quite a punch, due to your enormous strength and your choice of weapon. We're a great team together, same goes for me and Rumia, but if we three fight together, we`re almost unstoppable. As seen against Mima and Yuuka.", I began and glanced over to my first wife.

"I get it... The problem is that I'd have a disadvantage if it's just the two of us against one of the Taoists, right? Unlike me, you and the Taoists are quite fast and agile, while I am slow.", commented Nanatsu. "No offense, Nana, but you're right." "No offense taken. I know that I am not as fast and agile as most.", she smiled, waving it off.

"But instead of speed, you got strength and resistance. Unlike Chôzen and I, it takes quite a lot to take you down. On your own, you can hold your ground against the majority of enemies, because if you hit once, they'll see stars at daytime. The problem are enemies like Aya Shameimaru or Yukari, who have speed or other means to avoid you. In those cases, it's best if you have someone to back you up, someone faster than you who can defend you.", insisted Rumia, and Nanatsu nodded.

"Yeah. Thanks, Captain Obvious.", sneered Nanatsu and smirked, rolled her eyes. "Captain Obvious strikes again!" "Look, we don't have time to discuss strategies in battle. Rumia cannot fight as long as these loud noises continue, so if there is going to be a fight, we will have to stop the noises somehow.", I interfered, and both Nanatsu and Rumia nodded at me, desperation coming through again.

Seeing the stairs on the far side of the room, I nodded towards them. Both of my wives understood and nodded, then turned towards the stairs as well. Rumia was still holding her cat ears as we approached them, and Nanatsu had one hand around the hilt of Shi no Taizai, just to be safe, I assume. If I still had Alastor, I could summon him as well, and just like in old times, could've held him just to be sure. But that was no longer the case.

We never got to the stairs, though. At least not then.

Just before I had crossed half of the room, someone hastily stomped, or maybe fell, down the stairs resulting in even more noise, and an even more pissed Rumia. It was kind of obvious that her new set of ears was a lot more sensitive than her original ears.

The person rounded the corner, stomped down the last set of stairs, threw her hands into the air and began to laugh so loud that Rumia began to hiss like a cat again. "Seiga, what the hell?", I growled and grabbed the blue haired woman by the shoulders. "ICE CREAM!", she bellowed into my face, loud enough for me to let go of her and hold my ears.

Seiga began to laugh anew, danced on the spot and then screamed words that I'd rather forget due to their profanity. "There you have it, Chô. Never touched a married woman.", sneered Rumia in amusement, but then hissed as Seiga began to yell again. "Okay, this is going on my nerves... And my ears!" "Rumia is pissed, better hide."

"BETTER YOU DON'T KNOW HOW BAD THEY TASTE!", roared Seiga, danced around, "SPAHGETTI AND MINT FLAVORED DROPS, THAT IS!" I felt how my left eyelid began to twitch for what felt like the thousandth time that day. It was loud enough already, and Seiga was certainly not helping it. I didn't need sensitive ears to be pissed at such noise.

"INTEREST!", I bellowed just as Seiga opened her mouth to shout yet another profane or random thing. "YELLING RANDOM THINGS IS INTERESTING! YOU SHOULD TRY IT, TOO!", roared Seiga instead of whatever she was going to say... We'd never know, as she collapsed onto the ground, did go out like a light as the broad side of Tyrfing hit her over the head.

"Goddamn it, she was getting on my nerves with all that yelling!", hissed Rumia, dismissed Tyrfing and quickly held her cat ears again, "Problem is... If we are getting any closer to whatever source these noises above us have, I won't be able to let go of my ears for one second! Do you know how much of a headache I have already?!"

"Stop complaining, Rumia. We have to find Soga and find out if she is our culprit, and we have to request of Miko to go to the Myouren Temple. That is, if you don't want your ass groped in your sleep!", I hummed against the noises from above, but made sure to put as much venom into my voice as I could, "Besides... I have a headache as well already, you're not alone with that!"

The Shinigami aside us facepalmed, but then gestured over to the stairs. "Let's just get this over with!", she shouted, and yet was barely audible against the noise. I nodded. "Rumia, are you coming with us?", I asked with a short glance into the Angel of Death's direction. "Like I'm going to let you two alone! Just remember: I cannot fight if it comes to it, unless you stop that damn noise!"

I rolled my eyes, but gestured to the stairs as well. Without another word shouted, we three began to ascend the stairs. Consider it luck, but the stairs turned out to be part of a stairwell, a door on each story. I made sure to open them and glanced through the room behind each door in search for Soga, but could not find the ghost.

I did find, however, the third-best thing right after Soga and Miko.

"It's you...!", shouted Futo as she spotted and recognized me, one accusing finger pointing my way. She hastily crossed the room I had found her in and entered the stairwell, pushed past me, Rumia and Nanatsu to get some space for herself. "Interest.", I stated as she pushed past me, but Futo shook her head. "No, I'm not one of them.", she assured us.

"Well, what luck we have!", groaned the Angel of Death to my right. "I won't ask.", commented Futo with a glance towards the cat ears on Rumia's head, but then turned back to me and Nanatsu. "Perhaps you can help me... Everyone here has gone bonkers, save for Soga, but I can't find her!"

I groaned and slammed my palm against my forehead. "So Miko is manipulated as well...? Wait, don't answer that! She's the source of this ridiculous amount of noise, is she?!" Futo nodded at my question. "Lady Toyosatomimi has, once I had used the word 'interest', loudly declared that she has taken a liking to listen to ten songs at once, in respect of her ability to listen to ten people at once.", explained the gray haired girl.

Mononobe no Futo sighed and scratched the back of her head a bit while she glanced up the stairs. "Could I ask you to take care of Lady Toyosatomimi? It's for her own good. And I'd rather have her knocked out than doing damage to her own ears. She may have the ability to listen to ten voices at once, but it was never said that it is good for her...", requested the Taoist at our side.

"Will do. It's going on my nerves as well, and Rumia complains about her ears as well. Not that mine were spared...", I grumbled, glancing up the stairs as well. "Oh, I'll stop this noisiness alright!", exclaimed my second wife, and before anyone could stop her, she charged up the stairs and was gone from our sight once she rounded the next corner.

I slapped my palm into my face. "Oh, damn it!", I growled. "That's our Rumia for you, Chôzen. Always charges into the fight without thinking.", chuckled Nanatsu uneasily. "Our Rumia puts it right. She's one hot kitty.", I snickered, then sighed and turned to Futo. "We'll take care of Miko, and then we'll solve this incident. She'll be back to her old self in no time... As everyone else in Gensokyo will be. Hopefully.", I assured her.

Futo nodded. "Alright. I assume that you knocked Seiga out? I can't hear her screaming anymore.", inquired the Taoist, and Nanatsu let out a small chuckle. "Rumia got fed up with Seiga screaming. And the things she were screaming certainly didn't make it better.", she smirked, and Futo rolled her eyes. "Yeah, that's Seiga for you. You don't even know half of what we have to listen to even if she is not manipulated like today."

"Like?", asked Nanatsu, but already prepared to follow Rumia. "She may not yell all the time, but Seiga seriously has no shame at all. I don't know if it has to do with the fact that she has been married once, but Seiga is telling us stories of things that... I never can look at her in the same way." Futo shuddered a little as she trailed off. "Well, must be her then. I'm married to Chôzen and I'm not using such profane language.", sneered Nanatsu, and then turned to the stairs.

"Where's Toyosatomimi no Miko's room?", she inquired over her shoulder. "Four stories up, the door there leads into a small lobby, and the door there leads directly into Miko's room. You should not miss it, it's where all of this sound comes from...", replied Futo with a self-assuring nod. Sharing one last glance with Nanatsu, I nodded and in perfect unison with her charged up the stairs. "Thanks, Futo! We're going to save Miko from herself!", I called over my shoulder, locked eyes with Futo, and then rounded the next corner.

True enough, after charging up four stories, the sound of ten songs playing at once became almost unbearable. The door to the lobby that Futo had mentioned was slightly ajar, and as I kicked it open and entered the room, I found Rumia sitting against the wall, holding her ears. "TOO LOUD!", she roared and nodded towards the door. "I KNOW AND THAT'S GONNA STOP!", I bellowed back, then crossed the distance between me and the door to Miko's room.

It took me only one swift kick, foot shrouded in negative energy to boost it's strength and speed, and the door sailed through Miko's room and slammed onto the ground just in front of what looked like a miniature stage with ten huge speakers on it; speakers that I had seen once in Kourindou, Rinnosuke Morichika's shop of things from the outside world.

The room barely had any furniture in it. There was a red leather couch, bought at Kourindou as well, a few indoor plants, several paintings showing flowers and landscapes, a few cupboards and finally a wall closet that held, as far as I knew, a futon inside it.

Other than that, the room was pretty spacious, but most of all, clean. The wooden planks that the floor consisted of were of a light color, a fresh odor was in the air, and there was nothing laying on the ground that shouldn't be there... Quite remarkably, considering that the bass of ten way too loud songs was shaking the entire room.

And there, atop the stage, stood Toyosatomimi no Miko, singing along with one of the songs. Unlike our former encounters, she wore her headphones around her neck rather than on her head, revealing two remarkably cute ears.

The sword she usually carried hung on a hook on the wall behind her, and her shaku, that weird ritual baton she always carried that reminded me so much of Shikieiki's rod of remorse, was placed on the quite comfortable appearing couch.

"Interest!", I shouted, but was unable to hear my own voice due to the volume of the ten songs, each blaring out of one speaker. "Curse her and her knowledge of human technology...! How did she even get that? Was she talking with the Kappa? Or with Kanako?"

Glaring over my shoulder, I spotted Nanatsu trying to tell me something, but I could only see her mouth moving. Slapping my forehead again, which certainly didn't help my headache. Twirling around, I pointed one hand at the Taoist on stage and shot a single bullet, which Miko avoided with a dance-like movement.

My left eyelid threatened to twitch again in annoyance, so I took a last, deep breath and turned back to Nanatsu. So we were going to do this with gestures again.

From out of the corner of my eyes, I spotted Rumia stumbling into the room with her hands still on her cat ears. I made some gestures to tell Nanatsu and Rumia that I'd sneak up on Miko and knock her out while the two of them would distract her, but none of them seemed to understand.

And in my fury, I twirled around and threw a bullet at Miko again, but she twirled out of the way. The bullet hit the sword instead, deflected off it's sheath and bounced towards the left side of the room, where it hit one of the ten speakers.

In a radiant array of colorful sparks, the speaker went up in flames and eventually exploded. This caused Miko to stop singing and earned a shocked shriek from her, before she then turned into my direction with the most sinister glare I had ever seen.

"Whoops.", I uttered, right before the chaos began. Not that anyone was hearing me screaming as I jumped out of the way of the bullets and lasers that Miko threw at me. Using the agility that Kosuzu had complimented as being just as great as that of Fujiwara no Mokou, I backflipped away from Miko as she charged at me.

~ Let's just stick with one song instead of nine! Music cue: Persona 4 - I'll Face Myself -Battle- ~

We danced past the couch, Miko constantly lashing out at me with her bare fists. I ducked underneath one of her punches, dove to the side as she threw herself at me, and hurried over to my wives. Miko, on the other hand, landed on the couch. As I turned to face her again, she pushed herself off the couch, her shaku now in hand.

I gestured Nanatsu and Rumia to do something, but the first just shrugged with her shoulders, and the second one just glared at me, not letting go of her sensitive cat ears. Miko appeared beside me, forced me to dodge the ritual baton and hurry away from her.

I fell over my own feet and rolled onto the stage, and before I could get up, Miko towered above me. Rolling away from her, I dodged the hail of colorful bullets and kicked her right foot away. Miko fell, at least stumbled, but caught her balance again with the help of the wall. The same wall on which her sword hung.

The distinct noise of a sword being drawn made my blood run cold and I stumbled to my feet, only to miss the height difference between stage and floor, and fell of it. Miko appeared above me again, I placed my feet against the stage and pushed myself away from it.

That was the luckiest moment in my entire life, as the sword embedded itself in the ground right between my legs. "MIKO!", I bellowed, but the music was still too loud, I couldn't even hear myself. "If I am ever going to get out of here, I'll have a permanent hearing defect."

I swung my legs up, kicked Miko into her face and she stumbled backwards. This gave me the chance to quickly get away from the blade, and I stumbled over to Nanatsu, who still stood there like glued to the ground. "Funny how the inability to hear because of loud music blaring in the same room makes you quite helpless and almost oblivious to what is happening around you, hm?"

Leaning onto Nanatsu's shoulder, I positioned my face right next to Nanatsu's ear. "DO SOMETHING! STOP HER!", I shouted into my wife's ear, and she finally let out a loud "Oh!". She glanced past me towards Miko, then quickly pulled my ear close to her mouth. "RUMIA AND I WI'LL DESTROY THE REMAINING SPEAKERS! YOU DISTRACT HER!"

Without any hesitation or asking me if I had understood, Nanatsu pushed me away from her and used the momentum to fall backwards herself. No moment too late, as Miko's sword hit the ground right where we had stood before.

I fell onto my ass, but quickly pushed myself up. Miko was still after me, which I noticed the moment that she glared into my direction instead of Nanatsu's, who quickly dashed towards Rumia to instruct her of our plan. Miko made a horizontal slash, which I avoided by falling onto my back, and much like before, I kicked up. This time, I hit her right hand and knocked the sword out of it.

The Taoist jumped after it, hit the ground and made a single roll in which she picked up the sword again. This gave me enough time to rise to my feet, to go into a battle stance, and to analyze the situation. Miko would need two steps to be back in front of me, Nanatsu had told Rumia already and they were heading for the first speaker... It would be my job to keep Miko occupied, even though one of her precious songs would stop.

Seeing that Miko turned into my direction again, I shifted the position of my feet a bit until I was sure that I had a strong position. I prepared myself for everything, and literally everything this time, unlike with Kanako earlier that day.

She threw the shaku at me, which I dodged, and then tried to slice me apart with her sword, but I managed to block the damn thing with my bone hand. The sword made a sharp sound and created some sparks as it sled along the black bones. With a final push just before it hit my wrist, from where up I had flesh again, the sword flew away from me and caused Miko to stumble backwards.

Seeing this as a chance to at least do her some damage without Alastor, I coated my right fist into green energy and slammed it into the Taoist's stomach. She doubled over and I pulled my knee up. It hit her forehead and she hissed in pain, stumbled backwards.

Nanatsu had reached the first speaker that moment and drew Shi no Taizai. In one fluid motion, the large scythe cut through the speaker and turned it into two perfect, but defect halves. Miko twirled into that direction and was about to attack Nanatsu, but let out an almost inhuman shriek as Nanatsu stabbed yet another speaker with the blade of the scythe, leaving only seven working speakers.

When Miko threw herself at Nanatsu, I tackled her out of the air and rolled with her over the ground. "CONTINUE!", I roared over my right shoulder, even though no one would hear it due to the volume of the seven remaining songs.

Miko pushed me off, and I hit the ground aside her, hissed as I watched how she stumbled to her feet. With a swift kick into the side of her foot, though, this became a fruitless attempt as Miko hit the ground again. Glaring into the direction of Rumia, I found the Angel of Death standing in the door to the room, holding her cat ears.

Until the remaining speakers would be destroyed, the Angel of Death would not be able to do anything... Even though we needed her to take on Miko, as Rumia was a better fighter than Nanatsu due to her speed.

"Time to cause some havoc as well!"

With both Miko and me on our feet again, I grabbed the Taoist by the shoulders and pulled her up. She was surprisingly light, which came in handy though, as I twirled her around me once, and then threw her into the direction of the stage.

Nanatsu slashed the fourth speaker to shreds just as Miko impacted with the floor on the stage, followed by me landing in front of Miko. Grabbing the Taoist by the right ankle, I didn't give her the slightest chance to stand up, especially as I swung her around again.

She hit the fifth speaker as I slammed her into it, breaking the damn thing. But me being me, I didn't stop there. Call it Insanity's influence, maybe it was the loud music... Either way, I picked Miko up again and threw her over my shoulder into another speaker, meaning that six of ten were broken now.

Nanatsu slammed the hilt of Shi no Taizai into another speaker, then swung the large scythe the other way and stabbed the eight speaker, leaving two.

By now, the loud blaring of the speakers had turned into a way easier to handle mess of two songs. And Rumia had apparently noticed as well.

She let go of her cat ears, summoned Tyrfing and threw the blade into my direction. The magic chains of bloodlust grew as the sword flew into my direction, only stopped doing so as I had the blade in my hands and twirled on the spot, cut through the ninth of ten speakers. And finally, turning the blade around to point at me, I stabbed the last speaker under my right shoulder.

The music had finally stopped. And yet, I had a ringing noise in my ears due to the volume before.

As so, I couldn't hear Rumia as let out a huff and babbled something, probably complaining about Miko and the volume... Nanatsu seemed to be in the same predicament, as she was rubbing her ears with a confused frown.

"Damn.", I commented, somewhat glad that I could hear my own voice again. The ringing noise calmed down pretty fast, and as Rumia had reached us, it was entirely gone. "Is it over yet? That noise was going on my nerves!", huffed the Angel of Death. "I hope so...", I growled and rolled my shoulders.

And then noticed the lack of a fourth person.

"Where is Miko?!", I bellowed, only for the wall behind us to split open that very moment, revealing a gigantic speaker, and Miko standing atop it. I felt how my jaw dropped, how my eyelid began to twitch and how my shoulders dropped.

Rumia's hand darted for her cat ears, and no second too late, as the gigantic speaker began to blare loud music again, the bass shaking the entire room. Gesturing Nanatsu to attack Miko, we both pushed off the ground and dashed towards the Taoist, which had her sword and her shaku again.

The ritual baton was thrown into my direction and I couldn't avoid it, hit my forehead and stopped my assault. I fell to the ground, hissed as a sharp pain shot through my rear as I landed on it. Nanatsu continued the attack, only for Miko to block the scythe's blade with her sword. A swift kick into Nanatsu's middle sent her flying back into our direction... Into mine, to be exact.

The Shinigami hit me, and together with her, I rolled over the ground, more pain flowing through my body. Shi no Taizai was knocked out of Nanatsu's hand and sled across the floor, ended up aside the couch on the other side of the room.

"WE CAN'T ATTACK HER LIKE THAT!", I snarled into Nanatsu's ear as I helped her up. "I KNOW! BUT WE NEED TO ATTACK HER SOMEHOW!", she shouted back... And as she glanced over to where Rumia stood, Tyrfing still dangling on it's chains around her wrist, her face lit up. "BUT PERHAPS IT DOESN'T NEED TO BE US!"

She dashed over to Rumia as fast as she could, avoided the bullets that Miko threw at her, and then positioned herself right behind Rumia. This left me confused for a moment. Why would Nanatsu go to Rumia, who couldn't do anything due to the noise hurting her new ears?

The question was answered when Nanatsu leaned over Rumia's shoulder and shouted something into her normal ears. Rumia gasped and nodded, then smirked in her usual, bold, nasty way. Nanatsu placed her hands on Rumia's, and with that her cat ears... And the Angel of Death let go of her cat ears.

I finally understood what Nanatsu had planned and smirked myself. With Nanatsu holding Rumia's cat ears, the Angel of Death had free hands and could wield Tyrfing again.

The fight was over only a few seconds later.

Rumia and Nanatsu pushed off the ground at the very same moment, Nanatsu putting her legs around Rumia's waist to hold onto her while the Angel of Death rose Tyrfing. The two of them reached the confused Miko, which avoided the vertical slash of Tyrfing... Which then cut through the large speaker instead, splitting it in two pieces.

The music stopped instantly, allowed me to hear Miko hiss a last time... Then, the room was covered in a blinding light as the speaker blew up in a gigantic explosion.

~ music end ~

When the light finally died down, I found Nanatsu and Rumia landing on each side of me, smirking triumphantly. The stage was broken, the wall behind it had a large hole inside it, and Miko hung in that hole, unconscious.

"Geez, what a day!", I snarled and rolled my shoulders in annoyance. "That's all you have to say after this?!", snorted Rumia, but then shrugged it off and turned to Nanatsu. "Let's find that stupid ghost woman now. I want to get the heck out of here.", she complained, but Nanatsu stopped her with a single motion of her hand.

"No need to. We found her.", spoke Nanatsu in reply and nodded over to the red leather couch. And true to her word, Soga no Tojiko sat on that couch, watching us with amused smirks. "Soga.", I greeted, and the ghost woman nodded back. "Amusing display. 9 out of 10 points, I'd say.", taunted Soga as she rose from the couch and picked up Shi no Taizai from the ground.

She observed the scythe for a few seconds, then swung it once experimentally, but then threw it over to Nanatsu, who caught it. "Interest.", I uttered, but Soga shook her head. "No, I am not manipulated. And, even worse, I fear I am not the culprit of the incident. You are wrong here.", smiled Soga.

I groaned in perfect unison with Rumia and Nanatsu. "So all of this crap for nothing?!", groaned the Angel of Death with the cat ears, slapping her forehand with her own palm. "Sadly. But amusing for me. Quite the struggle.", cackled Soga, then twirled on the spot and gave us a mischievous smirk. "Thanks for the entertainment."

And just as sudden as she had appeared, the ghost left the room, leaving us disappointed. "Great. So another wrong conclusion. What now? We've been literally everywhere and seen almost everyone. In case that nobody has lied to us so far, we have either missed our culprit, or we don't know her.", hissed Rumia as she dismissed Tyrfing.

"Fear so.", I growled, looking out of the room through the large hole in the wall. "I guess it's the second thing. Aside Koishi, and in some way Soga, there is no one I know that fits the description that we have of the culprit.", suggested Nanatsu, and I nodded.

"So what? It's pretty late already, and we still have not a single clue as to who and where the culprit is.", growled the Angel of Death with a dark glare. "As annoying as it may sound... I suggest that we return home and sleep over all of this for a night. We shouldn't be running around at night, and we need to rest eventually.", I offered. And to my surprise, both of my wives nodded.

"Yeah. Guess you're right.", admitted Rumia, even though her scowl didn't change for one second. "Sounds reasonable, Chô.", agreed Nanatsu.

I let out a last sigh of disappointment.

I had hoped that all of this would've been easier than this... It all had sounded so easy after we came to the conclusion that Koishi Komeiji was the culprit.

And now, only a few hours later, everything was different.

Disappointment was following us around, disappointment and a trail of chaos. Remilia was out there somewhere. Byakuren had become a perverted groper. Iku was a panty thief. Marisa and Keine were at the bottom of a well.

And things just refused to get any easier...


I was still lost in thoughts as we walked home. I hadn't even noticed how my surroundings turned from meadow into a forest, and eventually a clearing in the Forest of Magic, until Rumia let out one of her famous, deep sighs of annoyance. "Do you even know how annoyed I am?", she announced and threw her head back, arms crossed behind it.

"Probably just as much as I am.", I replied with a short glance into her general direction, "After all, not only did things go pretty bad today, but we had to receive nothing but setbacks. First, you turn into half a cat... Then we visit several locations only to find out not a single things but to become involved into a whole lot of chaos due to all those weird interests, then we think we have the culprit, twice, but it was neither Koishi, nor Soga!"

"Geez, calm down, you two.", huffed Nanatsu exasperatedly, "We should've known it takes us more than one day to find the culprit behind this incident. Gensokyo is pretty big, we had no idea of where to go, and even though we visited most of the prominent locations, we never met the culprit. We should've known we wouldn't just find the culprit ever since we found out it was not Koishi."

Rumia and I both let out huffs of defeat and slumped our shoulders. "Guess so...", I admitted in defeat and glared away from my wives, deeper into the forest. "Let's just sleep over it for a night and try again tomorrow.", suggested Nanatsu, and I nodded grudgingly as I turned towards her again.

A sudden motion and a noise caught my attention. A twig snapped somewhere in the bushes to my left, and due to the events of that day I had become pretty cautious and paranoid. I twirled into that direction, stopped dead in my steps and narrowed my eyes, scanning the area for the source. "Who's there?!", I shouted into the bushes.

The reaction was that someone, or something suddenly rushed through the bushes, the rustling of the bushes indicating it's position. I didn't stop scanning the area even after the noises had stopped. "Geez, it was probably just an animal, calm down.", commented my Flame-Soul as it flew past me, but I couldn't just trust it's words. Somehow, I knew that it wasn't just an animal.

"Hey, Chôzen...", breathed a voice into my ear, and I turned to face Nanatsu. "Did you just hear that as well?", I asked her, but she just frowned. "I didn't hear anything.", she replied, but smiled. "More importantly...", she sled a finger over my chest, causing me to frown, "...What do you say... If we release some tension tonight?"

Call me stupid, but I didn't immediately understand what she was referring to, and instead just frowned at her, completely missing the seductive tone in her voice. "Tension? Well, I guess I am pretty tense after what happened today...", I murmured to myself, glanced into the direction that the weird noise had vanished into.

"So... How'd you like to release this tension then?", asked my first wife, and I turned back into her direction with a frown. "What?", I muttered in confusion, "I guess by going to bed early, just laying there and sleep?" At this, Nanatsu frowned a bit. "Just laying there? Is that some kind of fetish of yours?"

The word made me cringe madly, and the full meaning of her words finally hit me. "W-what?!", I gasped, backed away a few steps, only to hit something. Or, someone.

Two arms curled around my chest and a pale face appeared over my right shoulder, smiled softly at me. "I have an idea... You could hurt me.", whispered the Angel of Death, "I love being hurt."

"W-wh...?!" I didn't even manage to utter the word, instead pushed Rumia away from me and stumbled away from both her and the Shinigami wife of mine. Twirling around to face them, I found the two of them frowning at me in confusion. "Don't you want to hurt me, Chôzen?", asked Rumia and slowly began to approach me. "You are really too tense, Chôzen... We should..." "INTEREST!", I bellowed and balled my fists.

And to my shock, both of my wives reacted.

"Pain is an interesting kind of pleasure...", breathed Rumia as she hugged herself tightly, a furious blush spreading across her face. "We could try all different, interesting kinds of fetishes, Chôzen... Just let me close to you."

And then, the real horror began.

The atmosphere was creepy enough, as the forest lay in semi-darkness, not a single soul around. A thin fog had gathered over the ground, and the dim light in addition to that gave Nanatsu and Rumia, both stumbling towards me in an almost Undead-like manner, an even creepier appearance.

They began to chant in perfect unison, repeated the words over and over again. "Just let me close to you.", they whispered as they approached me, "Just let me be with you."

I slowly began to back away even further as they came even closer. "What the hell...?!", shot through my head, "They weren't manipulated all along... It must have happened just now...!"

Scanning the area around me, I tried to think of a way how to stop them without hurting them or losing them... I couldn't afford to look away just for one second. But how was I going to do that? They both had weapons, while I didn't have Alastor anymore. Especially Tyrfing was going to be a problem due to the fact that it was faster than Shi no Taizai.

But then again, both of them wanted to 'be with me' rather than hurt me... On the other hand, the same thing goes for Kanako, who had tried to hurt me as a result.

"Scary, isn't it?", asked a monotone, girlish voice from behind me all of sudden. I twirled around, scanned the area for the source of the voice, but it was already gone again. If it wouldn't have been for the rustling of the bushes, I would've thought that I had imagined it.

A sudden, sharp pain went through my right shoulder and made me cringe. The blade of Shi no Taizai had cut into it. Not deep, mind you, but still deep enough for me to feel pain. "Is that your fetish, Chôzen? Do you like pain?", moaned Nanatsu.

Swinging my elbow back, I hit her in the stomach, and she stumbled away from me. "If you don't hurt me, I hurt you!", declared Rumia as she charged at me, but a sudden movement to the left saved my ass from Tyrfing's blade.

"Nanatsu! Rumia! Snap out of it!", I roared, but neither of them reacted, simply began to stumble towards me again. Glaring around, I tried to spot a rustling bush again in hope to catch the real culprit. I had figured out that whoever was running through the bushes earlier must have manipulated both of them when I was looking for the culprit.

"It is quite sad that I will never know your interests, Chôzen Gekido, and that I cannot reshape them like I want them to be.", spoke the monotone voice again, but I didn't turn around this time. "I see.", I called out, "Is that what you want? Reshaping Gensokyo?" "Indeed. You are nothing but puppets to me, you insolent lifeforms. All you ever do is to run after that which has picked your interest. I hope I proved that point."

"Only too well.", I snarled, took another step back, then darted past both of my wives. I picked up a large branch from the ground, about the size of Alastor, and went into the stance I was used to from carrying Alastor. I knew that the branch wouldn't stand one attack from either weapon, but at least I wouldn't have to rely entirely on my hands.

The culprit was nowhere in sight, which annoyed me greatly, but I didn't have much of a choice but to play along until it would reveal itself. "So now that you proved your point, why not stop this chaos?", I called out anew. "No. This was not only meant to teach you a lesson... I want to change Gensokyo. For now, I have given them nothing but random interests somewhat related to their personality. But that will change.", came the reply from my right.

Nanatsu suddenly rose Shi no Taizai and charged at me, but I sidestepped and caught her. Moving a finger to her neck, I held it in a certain location for a few seconds. And then, she collapsed. "How I hate using pressure points to knock someone out..."

"What kind of change?!", I demanded to know as Rumia approached me. "Oh, you know... Order. Strict rules. Some will work as merchants. Others will travel. I need a working system. I need order.", replied the disembodied voice. "So you're one of that kind.", I huffed.

I knew that acting against Rumia would not work as easily. She was well trained in battle, and there was no way that she'd just let me close to her in a fight, no matter if manipulated or not. If you had fought for so many centuries like she had, it became part of you.

"Why order?", I called out, hoping that it would distract the real culprit until I had knocked out Rumia as well. "Because I just want that. I cannot exist without order. I need order. Seeing this chaos you all go through every day makes me sick!" "Well, hearing your monotone voice without seeing you makes me sick as well, girl.", I sneered.

And to my surprise, the culprit finally showed her face.

Rumia stopped where she was. "Standing here is interesting.", she declared, not moving a single bit. It was that moment that the real culprit stepped out of the bushes behind Rumia.

She was pale, unnaturally pale. She was way shorter than me, reaching up to just below my chest. Her gray-greenish hair was visible under her white, almost transparent cap. Unlike what we had heard, she was not dressed in a yellow and black dress like Koishi, but was actually dressed in a white, almost transparent dress of a victorian-era doll along with white kneesocks and adorable black shoes.

With cold, black eyes, just as emotionless as her voice, she stared at me in the creepy way only a doll could do. But was she a doll? Impossible. She looked way too much like a living being to be a doll, much less a Tsukumogami, a Youkai born from an object, at all. Was she even a Youkai? Who was she?

And then there was something else... I noticed it immediately. Her aura... It felt like... Sariel? Yuki? Mai? Yumeko? ...No. No, it felt not like one of them. It felt exactly like the aura of them all. They all had a very similar aura to them... They all were creations of Shinki.

...Was this girl from Makai as well? Had Shinki created a new girl? Was she... my sister just as much as Alice, Yumeko and all of the other girls from Makai?

She rose one pale hand, to which I noticed that she had silver rings around each of her fingers, and pointed it at me. "I wish I could manipulate you, Chôzen Gekido. It would ease my mother's pain so much. She's longing for you, but she denies it. If I could just manipulate you to love her back the way she does love you, it would stop her suffering.", spoke the girl in her emotionless way.

"Who is your mother?", I asked, narrowing my eyes at the girl. "This doesn't help... Actually supports my theory of her being from Makai. Shinki could be her 'mother', just like she is the 'mother' of the other girls from Makai..."

"That, I shall not tell you. But you shall know my name, Chôzen Gekido, for I know yours. I am Kyômi. Nothing more, and nothing less than that. I do not care for anything further than that.", she replied, avoiding my question almost entirely.

"But you do care about your mother.", I insisted, raising an eyebrow at her. Just who was this girl? "Enough to make her one of my dolls as well, Chôzen... If I may call you that.", responded the girl as she closed her eyes. "Polite even though you are hostile to me, hm?", I commented... But my plan was already set into motion.

Jumping from the ground just as the girl tried to respond, I aimed for Rumia's neck and readied two fingers to hit her pressure point. Kyômi swung her hand forwards, Rumia went into a defensive stance, and I was forced to stop my attack by sliding out of the way of an orb of darkness being thrown at me. "Fighting Chôzen Gekido is interesting~", hummed the manipulated Angel of Death.

"Stop this, Kyômi!", I hissed, sidestepped one of Rumia's attacks. "No. If I cannot make my mother happy by causing her to be interested in you, I shall dispose of you. That way, she won't have to grieve anymore after the love she does not get from you.", growled the young girl, the first 'emotion' that I got from her. "Shit. Looks like I am on my own again this time...! No Alastor and no backup... Damn!"

~ Can the interests can finally come to an end? Music cue: Story of the Year - And the hero will drown~

Rumia rose Tyrfing above her head, tried to decapitate me with one swing, but I ducked, punched her into her stomach, and then jumped away from her as she doubled over. "Good thing that I got over that whiny phase of mine... I may still not like to attack either of them, but if I have to, I can defend myself against Rumia and Nanatsu without being about to fall into depression!"

As if to make things worse, the Shinigami that I had knocked out began to move that very moment. She groaned, growled, then pushed herself up onto all fours. To make things worse, their movements had become a lot more fluid, leading me to the conclusion that they had been manipulated to scare me at first.

But now, they were serious.

Rumia recovered way too fast for my liking, pushed off the ground and jumped towards me with an insane expression. Knowing that a branch wouldn't be able to stand a single attack of the legendary blade of bloodlust, I twirled around and ran away from the Angel of Death.

Her sword hit the ground behind me, and without hesitation, Rumia pushed herself off the ground and followed me again. I jumped as well, landed on Nanatsu's back and pushed her down onto the ground again that way, then jumped high into the air from that.

Turning around in midair, I allowed myself to smirk a bit, and gathered negative energy in my arms. "I call onto the spellcard rules! Initiate spellcard battle!", I called out, "One versus two, me against Nanatsu and Rumia! I get two spellcards, while Nanatsu and Rumia both get one!"

Of course, I didn't have to declare all of that, but I wanted to make sure that I didn't forget anything, and I wanted Kyômi to know exactly what I was doing. Actually, it would've been sufficient if I had just called out the spellcard battle and the amount of spellcards, but oh well.

Then again, I hadn't planned to use any spellcards... It was just a precaution. After all, I was going to fight both of my wives, and I didn't want to hurt one of them lethally. But then again, I could use a spellcard in case that things got too serious.

Not wasting any second after initiating the spellcard battle, I pushed both of my hands forwards and converted the negative energy in my arms into green glowing bullets that appeared all around me. They rained down on Nanatsu and Rumia, forced them to guard themselves with their arms and weapons.

I chose to land on the ground rather than to fly around, broke my fall with a crouch, and then ran towards my wives, both of them still defending themselves against the bullets. Running past Rumia, I pulled Tyrfing out of her hands, twirled, and then slammed the hilt down on her head.

Rumia hissed out in pain and fell a few steps forward while I tried to hit Nanatsu with Tyrfing, but the Shinigami twirled around just in time to move Shi no Taizai up. Tyrfing slammed down on the upper side of the scythe instead, Nanatsu smiled wickedly and crossed the distance between us, pushing Tyrfing up as she came closer.

She headbutted me hard enough for me to lose orientation, and even before the stars that I saw vanished, she rose her knee and hit me in the gut with it. I choked as all air was forced out of my lungs and I doubled over, and Tyrfing was pulled out of my now weakened hold.

Rumia's foot appeared in my vision and came closer, then finally connected with my face and sent me stumbling backwards. Losing my balance, I fell and hit a tree with my back, hissed out in pain. Something that tasted suspiciously like iron entered my mouth when I opened it to take deep breaths.

While I panted, I sled one hand over my upper lip, winced as my knuckles touched my nose, sending a sharp pain through me. Lowering the hand and glancing down at my knuckles, I found them covered in a red liquid... Blood.

"Damn, my nose is broken..." "Yet again. Seriously, the nose is a weak spot of the body, hm? Always breaks so easily."

Ignoring the Flame-Soul's comment, I decided it was best to use a spellcard after all. "I could use that one spellcard... The one I used against Shiho. 'In the room without walls that doesn't exist'...", I pondered as I began to dodge the attacks again, "But the problem is that Nanatsu and Rumia know the secret behind it. And that's it's only strength: The surprise upon first use."

"I highly recommend you to not waste the chances like that. Remember... You have only have two spellcards, no more." "I know. But that's the problem... I don't have many other spellcards left that could be of any use. Neither can I throw something back at them with 'Negated Mirror Sign', nor can I negate the new interest that they have, since I don't know what exactly to negate... I can't just remodel a personality with my skills."

"You lost both 'Reaper Sign' Spellcards due to the loss of your right hand's vitality. You lost Alastor, your main offensive. You still have 'Execution of Dullahan', but it's a bit tricky as it accuracy is bad. And you only have one chance with it.""Yeah. I know. 'Annihilate the impossible' and 'Untouchable' are both defensive spellcards and can't be used to attack. I should remember those in case that I get into a pretty bad situation, though."

"There's nowhere near enough room to use use 'Black and green hell'... Same goes for 'Cage of suicidal bird'... So, my conclusion: You're screwed! No offensive spellcard left, and you can't create one just like that. Yep, have fun.""Wait, what about 'Bone barrage'? You know, the one where I shoot you at an enemy!" "Too slow while reloading, too much recoil. And besides, it takes too long to change your arm into the gun."

"This is so bad...", I groaned aloud as I continued to dodge the two wives of mine.

"Hey. I chose to listen to your conversation for once, and I noticed that you forgot one spellcard...", spoke Insanity to my surprise. I had almost forgotten him entirely, which, considering that he hadn't talked too much despite my misfortune all day, was surprising. "What about that one spellcard you got from Reimu? You know, the one that she kept from you, fearing that it would be too dangerous."

I gasped as I remembered the spellcard that Insanity referred to, closed my eyes after catapulting myself into the air, then concentrated to summon the spellcard that Insanity was referring to. It materialized in my right hand in between my index and middle finger, but I didn't look at it until I landed in a tree.

"Suffering Enigma 'Torments of Tantalus'!" read the spellcard's top, but aside that, not a single information was written on it, unlike any other spellcard I knew. Even the picture on it was blank. For what reason, I didn't know.

Reimu's words echoed through my head as I examined the spellcard in my hands. The clear warning that the Hakurei Miko had given me. A spellcard created in an event that led as close to death as I had been was a dangerous thing to use. Unlike any other spellcard, even spellcards born from hatred or grudge like Mima's, carried no such strength or danger like ones created close to death.

For what reason, I didn't know. It was possible that it was a loophole in the spellcard rules, creating spellcards that could kill even if the rules were active. Maybe it was something else, I didn't know... And wasn't eager to find out. "No... No, thanks for the help, Insanity, but this is too much risk, especially towards Nanatsu and Rumia."

It took one horizontal slash in midair with the spellcard, then it went up in green flames and dissolved into ash. "Another time, another place... Then I may try it out. But now is just too dangerous. I'm relying on something else...", I muttered and glanced down at the two women of my heart below me on the clearing.

And that was when I spotted it. My way to end this battle without relying onto spellcards.

Problem was... I had to bring Nanatsu and Rumia into position before. And for that, I had to leave the temporary safety of the tree.

Landing right in front of the tree I had been in, I waited for a few seconds and hoped that Nanatsu and Rumia would approach me, but neither of them did. Glancing over to Kyômi, I found that the girl still stood where she had been all the time. She was watching me, but other than that, did not move.

Sure, I could just try to attack her, but I didn't know how strong she was, or what she was to begin with. She was the source of all these weird interests, she was the source of the chaos... But I knew better than just to charge at her. I was not Rumia, and I was not Insanity... To first shoot and then ask questions was not my style.

When Rumia charged at me all of sudden, it caught me off guard, and yet I managed to avoid Tyrfing as it tried to decapitate me by ducking underneath the horizontal swipe, but what really caught me off guard was that Nanatsu had rounded me without me noticing.

The sharp scythe penetrated my right shoulder, this time not cutting into it, but stabbing. "Shit!", I roared in pain, barely able to contain the tears. "And as always, I have to save your ass..."

My body suddenly moved like a puppet, turned around without Nanatsu pulling Shi no Taizai out of my back. The hilt slammed into Rumia's stomach as I turned around and she doubled over, while Nanatsu was thrown off balance by her scythe being pulled out of her hands.

Insanity slammed my left fist into Nanatsu's stomach, and due to her already being thrown off balance before, she fell over. Using this short moment of peace, Insanity pulled Shi no Taizai out of our back without even wincing, then twirled the scythe in his right hand, despite it being wielded two handed.

Rumia rose to her full height again, but Insanity merely cackled sinisterly at that and threw Shi no Taizai up into the air. Slamming our foot into Rumia's back, the Angel of Death with the cat ears fell forward. He turned around, picked Nanatsu up bridal style, but not as a well meant gesture.

The Shinigami was thrown into the Angel of Death by him, knocking the two of them to the ground just in the right location. "You can thank me later.", were his last words, just before he let me back in control again. I frowned at this, but prepared to end this fight.

But Insanity had taken care of that as well already. Just as I was about to cut the heavy branch above the two women off, somehow that was, Shi no Taizai came falling out of the sky, and cut exactly that branch off, then stabbed itself into the ground with it's blade.

Nanatsu and Rumia had both managed to rise onto all fours, just as the branch came down on them, not only trapping them, but also effectively knocking them out.

Finally.

~ Music ends ~

Without wasting another second, I twirled on the spot and glared at the new girl that had introduced herself as Kyômi. "What was that for?! You're crazy! What were you thinking, forcing my own wives to try to kill me?!", I roared, anger getting the better of me.

"I told you... I want you dead, and they just were here and came in handy, so I didn't have to stain my own hands.", replied the girl surprisingly calm. "Well, too bad that I am not dead, huh?", I snorted, only for Kyômi to close her eyes again. And I frowned at the weird way she closed her eyes, almost mechanically... At first, I didn't figure out how exactly it looked mechanical. But then, it struck me: Her eyelids looked a bit like plates being shoved in front of her eyes rather than skin being pulled over the eyes.

"Yeah, too bad. Means I have to stain my own hands with your blood.", growled the girl monotonously. I let out a huff, then smirked. "Sorry, but I don't that you can stand up against me. I don't know what you are, but I don't think that you are strong enough to stand the power of an exalted Youkai like me, especially as I am immune to your manipulation!", I hissed and ignited my hands in green flames.

"You're underestimating me.", was the simple reply, but I just ignored it. "Pah.", I snorted, just took a deep breath in hope to calm my panting, but then went into a battle stance.

For a battle I'd never fight.

True to her words, I was underestimating her... By a lot. After her reply, she had opened her mouth wide, something I had paid no mind to. At least until a powerful blast of pure, rivaling the strength of Marisa's Master Sparks, was released from her throat.

I barely had any time to cross my arms in front of my chest, shielding myself with negative energy. For a moment, all that I could see were my green flames and the colorful energy surrounding me. And as both died down, I found myself standing at least twenty five meter further away from the small girl than before.

"This power...?!", shot through my head as I observed the trench in between me and the girl with wide eyes. I was panting madly, couldn't really believe how much power she had drained from me in just a single attack. "Woah, what the hell is she? Only extremely powerful Youkai can charge such a powerful attack in such a short time!" "Considering that even you are surprised, I guess this is quite bad."

Taking a deep breath to calm myself, I bared my teeth and glared at the girl. "What are you?!", I bellowed over the distance, but Kyômi shook her head, as if to tell me that she'd not tell me anything. "My advice: Better not get hit by that attack unguarded." "Accepted."

I exhaled, then willed my body to move towards Kyômi again. The had been long, and the fights with Miko and Kanako respectively had drained much of my power. The fight against Nanatsu and Rumia hadn't been much better... And now this! "Just who is your mother for you to act like that? I know no one that has a daughter like you... You don't even bear resemblance to anyone I know!"

Again, Kyômi did not respond. She just opened her mouth and fired this colorful blast again, which I this time avoided by twisting my body a bit. As such, I got a good glimpse of the powerful blast. It was of a rainbow color, shaped like a large orb with a laser trailing behind. Highly explosive, as it seemed, cause as it hit a tree far behind me, it exploded into a colorful wave of energy that not obliterated the tree entirely, but cut a large path into the forest.

"You're powerful.", I growled grudgingly. "I told you that you were underestimating me.", was her monotone reply, before her emotionless eyes trailed over to the knocked out women under the branch. "Do you know how strong interests really are? I feel that you have understood the power of an interest regarding the personality of a being... But you have yet to understand the power that an interest can give."

It took me just a single glimpse towards the two women of my heart to understand what Kyômi was referring to: The two of them, even though I had knocked them out, rose from the ground and pushed the branch off them. "An interest that is strong enough can allow you to continue striving for it even though you have virtually no strength left. It can give you strength. It can give you the will to continue on.", explained Kyômi in her monotone voice.

Both Nanatsu and Rumia turned towards me, both lifting their respective weapon. "Their in you is strong enough to do exactly that, even though I changed it a little to be interest in fighting you. Still, their yearning for you, their desire to be with you, the interest that they have in you, is strong enough to fulfill exactly that. They go beyond their limits if it is for you. Foolish, but adorable.", spoke Kyômi then.

It clicked inside my head. Now I had her! Now I had the chance to break her concentration, even if it was just for a short moment. "Adorable?", I asked while I furrowed my brows. "You don't know the meaning of the word 'adorable'? I begin to see less and less why my mother is so fond of you.", huffed the girl and sighed. "Is there another word for adorable?", I shot back. "Cute, for example."

"GOT'CHA!", I bellowed in triumph. This seemed to confuse the emotionless girl a lot. I, too, was confused... But because nothing happened. "Oh, come on, Remilia! This is the worst moment ever to not appear! I was using the word the whole day in every location possible, and you always appeared... But not now?!"

"I do not understand whatever it is you are trying to do... I, for my part, do know what to do.", spoke the confused girl, lifted her right hand and pointed it at me, the silver rings around each of her fingers shining in the sunlight. "Attack. That is your interest, is it not...? Nanatsu and Rumia?" "It is.", replied both women in unison, then resumed where they had left off earlier: Pummeling me to death.

Rumia's low kick swiped me off my feet, and I hit the grassy ground below me, diving into both fog and dirt with my face first. And that was the moment that I had almost given up... But things changed.

"Hold it right there!", shouted a new voice, "Stop bullying him!" I perked up, jerked my head around to get a good glimpse at my savior... And facefaulted as I saw her.

Standing tall, her arms crossed in front of her chest, my savior smirked self-pleased, boastful. Her wings were large and shone in the last rays of sunlight, radiated power and wisdom, and I only knew too well just how powerful my savior was.

On a side note... All for a fairy.

She was only half as tall as me, and her boastful, insolent personality was going on my nerves ever since I had met her. Her wings were tall and beautiful, yes, but only for a fairy. And even they shone against the last rays of sunlight, it was only because they were made of ice! It was true that she was powerful and wise... For a fairy!

GODDAMN IT, WHY CIRNO?!

"Oh, it's you again.", growled the monotone girl, this actually with annoyance. Really, Cirno got emotions out of everybody, even the emotionless ones. "Yes, it is Eye, Cirno!" "And again that speech defect..." I let out a sigh and let my face fall into the dirt. "Interest.", I muttered.

"Attacking Chôzen Gekido is interesting. But for now, standing around is more interesting.", chorused Nanatsu and Rumia at the same time, revealing why they were just standing around instead of attacking me.

As for our favorite baka, Cirno... She did not react.

I rose my head and frowned at her. "Interest.", I repeated, only to earn a confused frown from Cirno. "You seem to have forgotten many words...", commented the ice fairy in confusion, and I was just as confused. "You`re not manipulated?", I asked, "Wait! If you're not manipulated, then why were you looking at all those walls with that great amount of interest?!"

Cirno turned to me and frowned. "What? Oh! Ah! Eye get it! Dai, Wriggle, Mystia and Eye want to renova... reni... rev... Want to change the walls of our club house, so Eye was looking at other walls all over Gensokyo to see how they looked! Eye want to choose a good-looking wall for our club house!", explained Cirno. And I facepalmed. "And here I thought that you were manipulated...", I groaned.

Only to realize that I may give Kyômi dumb ideas, like manipulating Cirno to fight me as well.

A careful glance into the direction of the mysterious girl, however, revealed that she was scowling. She didn't seem to like Cirno a single bit, even less than me. Why, I didn't know. But apparently, she didn't think of manipulating Cirno as well.

"Manipu... Mani... Whatever you just said! Why should Eye?", asked Cirno, and I facefaulted again. "My fate, and that of Gensokyo, rests within the ice fairy. We got front row seats for the great downfall of Gensokyo here." "Hope you remembered to bring popcorn."

"She cannot be manipulated.", muttered, to my surprise, Kyômi. The mysterious girl narrowed her eyes at the ice fairy, "Just like you." "Cirno? How? You managed to manipulate people like Patchouli... Mima... All those who have intelligence surpassing my own... People with power... And you can't manipulate our simple-minded baka here?!", I gasped in disbelief.

"I cannot. She isn't as simple-minded as you may think... The problem is... her attention span is way too short! I tried everything... But I cannot get her interested in something for more than two seconds!", raged the girl in the dress resembling that of a victorian-era doll. I watched as the emotionless Kyômi began to stomp on the ground in her anger, leaving Cirno confused. "Eye don't get it."

And suddenly, I loved the idea of Cirno being my savior. "That doesn't matter, Cirno!", I exclaimed and pushed myself onto my feet, "Care to help me defeat those bullies? Just imagine they move on to bully someone else! Would you want that?" Cirno gasped audibly, then glared at the raging girl. "Of course not! Eye will protect Dai!" "Daiyousei? But I said... Wait, I shouldn't think about it. This is Cirno her logic."

"Nanatsu! Rumia! Attack them! That is your interest, is it not?!", shouted Kyômi and pointed at me and Cirno. "Cirno, we're going to stop them. Don't hurt Nanatsu and Rumia, knock them out if possible. They are being controlled by her!", I instructed the ice fairy and pointed at Kyômi. "Eye got it!"

~ Those who cannot be interested in anything but what they choose stand tall! Can the weird interests come to an end? Chôzen and Cirno vs. Kyômi, Nanatsu and Rumia! Music cue: Kingdom Hearts II - Battle of 1000 heartless ~

Rumia and Nanatsu drew their weapons and pointed them at me and Cirno. Kyômi, for the first time since she had arrived, moved. She began to hover over the ground, positioned herself right behind my manipulated wives and tilted her head a little.

"Cirno, listen up...", I began, not averting my eyes from the mysterious girl, "She has my wives manipulated, uses them like dolls. Furthermore, she has a powerful blast attack... When you see how she opens her mouth wide, try to dodge, okay?" "Eye got it! But they have weapons and we don't." "Yeah... If we just had swords as well...", I hissed in reply and glared at our enemies.

And then, all of sudden, something cold appeared in my left palm, surprising me a bit. But when I looked down and found this cold object to be a sword made of ice, I couldn't help but smile at Cirno, who held a similar sword, only smaller. "Thanks!", I smirked, then turned back to a confused Kyômi. "How?", she asked. "Eye can make air moisture turn into ice!". declared Cirno proudly, then began to laugh as she catapulted herself at the three females in front of us.

"You have to knock out Nanatsu and Rumia first! They will get in the way of any attacks directed at Kyômi, otherwise!", I shouted after the ice fairy that leaped at Nanatsu, while I focused on Rumia.

The Angel of Death rushed towards me, but I blocked her vertical slash with my ice sword. To my very surprise, the sword withstood the attack, didn't even break the slightest as the legendary blade of bloodlust hit it. "W-what?!", I thought as I saw how the ice easily withstood the slash... And then, just for a single second, an image appeared in front of my inner eyes.

In that image, I was holding Alastor instead of the ice sword.

The image vanished and I was holding the ice sword again instead of Alastor. But somehow, I knew that the blade of guilt was still there now, watching me. I felt that it had not abandoned me completely, and was merely waiting for me to earn it again. And I would.

Pushing against Tyrfing, I managed to throw Rumia off balance. Alastor's spirit was with me, was in that ice sword at that very moment. The short image that had flashed in front of my inner eye was it's way to remind me that it was guarding me, but did not think that it was time for me to wield it again.

Rumia fell onto her rear when I gave her another push, which gave me time to look over to how Cirno was doing. The ice fairy tended to surprise me over and over again, and this time was no exception. She was holding off Nanatsu on her own. Of course, her smaller size made her a target hard to hit, and her speed and agility was twice that of Nanatsu, allowing her to avoid the slow scythe, punches and kicks easily... But still, it was an amazing feat.

Kyômi stayed in the background, didn't move other than hovering above the ground. Whenever an attack came close, she avoided left and right, but not once up into the air. "She can't fly! That is her weakness!", exclaimed Insanity, almost scaring the hell out of me. "She can't fly? Are you sure?" "Yeah! She can hover, look, but she can't fly any higher than that... This could come to our advantage somehow." "Right... Remind me of that."

Rumia rose from the ground again, forcing me to look her way again. Feeling the sudden need to change the setting a bit, I glared towards Cirno, Nanatsu and Kyômi. "Yo, Cirno!", I exclaimed and watched as Cirno struck Nanatsu's shoulder with the ice sword of hers, causing the Shinigami to hiss as a gigantic crystal of ice was created on her shoulder. "Nice. My sword can't do that!"

"What?", asked Cirno as she glanced around the crystal of ice that Nanatsu tried to get rid of. "I'll take Rumia here for a walk. Can you handle the situation?", I asked, slowly moving away from Cirno, Rumia mirroring my movements. "Eye can. But why would you want to go for a walk now? Aren't we fighting those bullies?", asked the oblivious ice fairy, and I rolled my eyes at her. "Follow me as soon as you can. If necessary, move your fight where I am going." "Eh... Sure. Where are you going?"

I sped up, but so did Rumia. We both held our swords with both hands, dragged them over the ground, our gazes not once averting from one another as we ran deeper into the forest. "For a walk!", I yelled to Cirno, "Follow the line I make on the ground and you'll find me!"

Making sure to drag the ice sword over the ground to create a line as I ran, I brought some distance between me and Rumia, some trees between us as we charged through the forest at great speed. Trees soared past us as we sped up even more, I pushed all of my negative energy into my feet to move even faster.

She was the first one to attack, threw an orb of darkness at me. I ducked and sled over the ground, causing the orb to miss, then rose to my full height again and threw an orb of negative energy back at her. I wasn't sure if the spellcard rules had ended after I knocked out both Nanatsu and Rumia, so I rather attacked with caution. Like I said, I may no longer refuse to fight them, but I still didn't like the idea of fighting them.

Rumia deflected the orb with Tyrfing, and once the next gap between trees came, she jumped through the gap and landed aside me, already swinging Tyrfing vertically. The ice sword blocked Tyrfing, the spirit of it's brother protecting me from the blade of bloodlust. Rumia was pushed into the air, but landed only a few steps away from me. During all of this, we never stopped once in our movements. We continued to run. I continued to run.

All of sudden, the forest came to an end and I found myself standing on a familiar cliff... It was the same cliff that I had that date with Rumia on four years earlier.

The both of us came to a stop, swung the swords again, clashed them. "At least, even though it is Alastor`s spirit that guards me in shape of this ice sword, it is missing Alastor's usual energy... Good thing, I guess. Whenever Alastor and Tyrfing hit each other, their energy mingles and explodes. Sent me and Rumia flying every time."

Rumia tried to push me back, but I used the icy version of Alastor to give me time to dive out of the way. Tyrfing sled across the blade made of ice, hit the ground, and gave me the time to kick her into the side. This threw her across the entire cliff, where she impacted with the ground and hissed in pain.

It was that moment that Cirno flew out of the forest as well, followed by Nanatsu running after her, and finally the hovering, mysterious girl that had introduced herself as Kyômi. "Eye found you! It was hard, the line wasn't there all the time, but Eye found you!", declared Cirno happily, and I nodded in acknowledge. "Good. How is it going?", I asked, then went back to back with the flying fairy.

"The Shinigami hasn't hit me yet, but I haven`t hit the hovering girl yet. She is fast.", replied Cirno. "I guessed as much. Think you can handle her nonetheless?", I asked, and received a nod from the ice fairy. "Nanatsu yes, don't know about the girl." It was my turn to nod.

"Let's get this over with as fast as possible."

She pushed off my back after those words, went right back into the fight. As idiotic as she sometimes appears to be, she had the spirit of a warrior, that for sure. I spotted Kyômi rounding our fight as I narrowed my eyes on Rumia. The mysterious girl was moving behind Rumia, and I sent a glare at her.

As Rumia moved again to attack me, I decided to interrupt her movements by throwing several bullets at her. She dodged all of them but one, which hit her right foot. She gasped, stumbled, and then fell flat onto her face, giving me a clear sight of Kyômi.

She, other than Rumia, had not expected me to throw bullets, and thus was frozen as the bullets soared past her. She was lucky, all of them missed.

All but one. And that one should reveal the, kind of horrible, mystery behind her.

The second-to-last bullet hit her left shoulder and she screamed bloody murder. She had any reason to. To my absolute shock and horror, the bullet did not just throw her off balance like with Rumia, even though the bullet wasn`t intended to kill.

My mouth fell open in shock as her entire left arm was ripped out of the shoulder, flew through the air and hit the ground behind her. Her entire sleeve was blown off by the bullet... And that revealed who and what she was.

The moment in which I had to process what had just taken place was also the moment that I tried to understand why there was not a single drop of blood.

The mystery was revealed as I saw the arm lying on the ground, now no longer hidden in a sleeve. "Oh what the...?!", I gasped and watched as Kyômi let out an irritated huff. She hovered over to her arm, picked the limp limb up, and just connected it back to her shoulder.

I observed this closely, took in every feature of the pale arm... Especially the round ball that replaced her elbow. The round ball that was nothing else but the joint of a doll.

Kyômi was a doll.

"You`re a Tsukumogami! A Youkai born from an object that is one century old!", I gasped out in shock. "Not exactly.", replied the girl in monotone as she turned to me. She tilted her head a little... A little too wide, unnatural for any being other than a Doll Youkai. "I am indeed a Tsukumogami, a Doll Youkai to be exact... But I am only a few days old.", she explained, watched my frown increase.

"But then your mother...?", I muttered, still loud enough for her to hear. "Is actually my creator, and not my mother, correct.", she completed, but then closed her eyes. And I finally understood why it looked so mechanic when she blinked... It was actually nothing else, since she was an object rather than a living being. Or at least, used to be an object.

"A Doll Youkai that can manipulate interests, and make other beings her dolls...", I muttered. "Irony, is it not? Sick irony of fate. You should know how it feels.", was her monotone reply. It was also the last thing that I heard of her for that moment, as Rumia had finally managed to get back on her feet. All I saw before I returned to defend myself against Rumia was how Kyômi, now with her left, doll arm revealed, hovered closer to the cliff, apparently trying to find a position where she could watch everything and was not in the way of any stray attacks anymore.

"A Doll Youkai...?", I pondered as Tyrfing and the ice sword hit each other, "Sounds like something that I would immediately connect with Alice. But that can't be. Alice does not know how to create living dolls. She's been researching that, but she cannot do it. She is not like Shinki, her mother. So if this doll is not that of Alice... Who then? Who else would be able to create a living doll that would seek revenge on me for it's creator? A megalomaniac doll? Yukari? Kanako? Mima?"

"Cirno!", I bellowed over my shoulder as I held Rumia at bay with the ice sword. "Yes?", called Cirno back, jumping over Nanatsu's head, and as the Shinigami turned around, she jumped away yet again. "Where is she?! Every time that I turn, she's gone!", roared Nanatsu, turning towards Cirno again, who had jumped away before she even had the chance to get a glimpse at her.

"Kyômi, that girl... She's a doll!" Cirno glanced towards me as I shared this information with her. "Eye see. Can Eye freeze her then?", shouted Cirno back. "Actually, that sounds like an idea. Kyômi, as a Doll Youkai, cannot freeze to death, right? She can feel the cold, but not freeze to death. Kogasa is different, she has a living body, but that of a Doll Youkai is still a doll, right? No organs, no heart..."

Agreeing with my Flame-Soul, I kicked Rumia's feet away, and turned to Cirno again. "Try it.", I shouted over to the ice fairy I had teamed up with. I may not like to admit it, but for this fight, Cirno was the best partner I could have.

Due to her short attention span, and I don't mean that Cirno is dumb with that, she actually is the best partner I could have, as she was immune to the manipulation of interests... Actually, Cirno is not dumb. She's a little simple-minded, or perhaps slow like Okuu, but she's not dumb... And, believe it or not, she is a pretty strong fighter.

"Eye would, but Eye can't. Nanatsu is strong.", growled the ice fairy, jumping over Nanatsu's head, confusing the slower Shinigami even further. I hissed at this, decided to help Cirno, but my attempt was stopped before it even began when a foot slammed into the back of my right knee.

I snarled out as I fell onto my knees, then cried out again as Tyrfing cut into my right shoulder, which was already bleeding badly due to Nanatsu's attacks before. I glared over my right shoulder at my second wife, only for her to slap me across the face.

The blade slashed through my shoulder as I was knocked away, I snarled out as I rolled over the ground, screamed in pain each time that my right, badly wounded shoulder hit the ground. Eventually, I stopped, but remained on the ground, winced and cried as I tossed and turned on the ground.

"Chôzen!", I heard Cirno shout, but hissed out again in reply. Seeing Rumia walk towards me, excitement in her eyes, I let out a loud snarl and pointed my right hand at her, no matter if it hurt again to move my arm.

To finally admit it: Yes, I hadn't used full power all the time against Rumia. That had several reasons, first of all of course because I didn't want to hurt her. I didn't want a recurrence of the apocalyptic night either... And of course, I couldn't use the full power from back then because I didn't have Alastor with me anymore, which was partially the entire reason that the apocalyptic night had been so destructive, as the brothers Tyrfing and Alastor had fought each other.

Rumia didn't stop to advance towards me when I pointed my right arm at her, which made me smirk. I just had to wait a bit... She just had to take a few last steps. Two... One...!

"Eat this, Rumia!", I bellowed and finally released the unfocused laser I had build up. Back during my training with Ryoko, the ex-queen of nocturnal Youkai in the forest of magic that had been dubbed the 'queen of laser' as well, she had complimented the power of my lasers, my unfocused lasers above all.

The difference between 'focused' and 'unfocused' lasers was simple: A focused laser was fast in being charged and fired, but less powerful. An unfocused laser, on the other hand, was slow in being charged, but was incredibly fast and powerful, often leaving back quite a lot of destruction.

And it just happens that my unfocused lasers were even stronger than the average unfocused laser.

I had aimed a little away from Rumia's head on purpose, had meant to scare her rather than to defeat her.

But, in the end, this was the greatest mistake I had made that day. And looking back, it surprised me that Alastor didn't return to me then, as it caused me to feel the greatest guilt since the apocalyptic night... The reason was the same though.

It led to me causing the death of another being.

At first, everything seemed to be normal, just as planned. The unfocused laser shot towards Rumia, slightly away from her head. But then, another thing appeared in my line of sight... It was a large shard of ice flying towards Rumia.

Cirno had summoned that large shard of ice to protect me, something that made my heart warm up a bit. The problem was, however, that the large shard of ice got in the way of my unfocused laser. And as the laser connected with the side of the large shard, two things happened: The shard of ice was pushed away and missed Rumia by several inches. And the laser reflected.

Due to angle I had shot the laser at, the angle that it impacted with the shard, it reflected towards the cliff. I twirled my head around, stared in shock as the laser flew towards Kyômi. It dawned on me pretty soon that it wouldn't hit her, and I let out a sigh of relief.

Too soon.

The powerful, unfocused laser impacted with the ground several meters in front of Kyômi, and the Doll Youkai huffed in irritation. She didn't move away from there, continued to stare at us with emotionless eyes... Until the cliff suddenly began to break.

I would never forget it, the fear and the shock in Kyômi's eyes as the ground beneath broke off the cliff. "Kyômi!", I bellowed and pushed myself to my feet, stumbled into her direction. Kyômi's mouth opened wide and she screamed, screamed as the ground beneath her began to fall. "SHE CAN'T FLY!", shot through my head, just as I pushed myself off the ground, negative energy surrounding my feet.

Rumia tried to stop me, but everything seemed to slow down around me. Tyrfing missed my stomach by a few inches as I flew over the sword. An orb of hellfire exploded behind me, implying that Nanatsu had thrown hellfire at me. Kyômi fell backwards as the cliff beneath her feet shattered.

With one arm extended towards her, I jumped towards the Doll Youkai, tried to grab her hand as I landed on my stomach at the edge of the cliff. Kyômi extended her hand as well, the tip of our fingers brushed along each other and I held my breath...

Our gazes met. There was no lack of emotion in the eyes of the doll anymore. As we shared this last glance, I saw the fear of death in the eyes of what had once been a lifeless object, which was just about to return to what she had once been.

Her mouth opened and her face distorted in what I saw as the fear of death... And just before everything seemed to return to it's normal timeflow, I saw something that was so out of place for a Tsukumogami, save Kogasa who had a living body, that it would haunt my nightmares even for many years.

The Doll Youkai, who should have not been able to... Shed a single tear.

And as time returned to normal, I finally felt the impact with the ground. Kyômi's fingers brushed against mine for the slightest fragment of a second... And I closed my eyes, unable to see what happened.

My hand was empty.

I had not managed to catch Kyômi's hand.

~ Music trails off ~

After what felt like an eternity, I heard footsteps approaching me. Three pair of footsteps.

"Chôzen?", I heard Cirno ask, but didn't open my eyes, "Is she...?" "Yes, Cirno... I didn't make it.", I whispered, and took a deep breath. I rose onto all fours eventually, yet didn't open my eyes. "Damn!", I roared and hit my fist into the ground, bared my teeth in anger.

"Chô... You are not..." "LIKE HELL!", I bellowed over my shoulder, then opened my eyes and glared at Rumia and Nanatsu, who had returned to normal as it seemed. "It's my fault... I didn't manage... I couldn't prevent..." "Shut up.", growled Rumia and grabbed my collar, pulled me up onto my feet on it. "Not your fault. It was an accident. I can remember everything that happened while I was manipulated, okay?!"

I averted my gaze and glared over to the cliff that Kyômi had fallen down. "Besides... She is a Doll Youkai, Chôzen. That fall shouldn't have...", reasoned Nanatsu, but I shook my head and she stopped. "That you are back to normal is proof enough that she... died.", I whispered.

And before another word could be spoken, made a decision.

I pushed away from Rumia, who still had held me by the collar. I dashed towards the cliff, didn't think about it for a second as I dove over the edge. Wind roared in my ears as I fell, wind howled in my ears as the ground came closer and closer.

And so did what had remained of the Doll Youkai Kyômi.

I broke my fall, turned in midair and landed aside the remains of her. And felt the tears well up.

She looked like a child, if anything. Her innocent expression. Her closed eyes and her slightly open mouth. Hair had fallen into her face and covered one of her eyes, a single strand in her mouth. She was curled up into a ball, her legs pulled in.

If it weren't for the unnatural angle of her neck, the unnatural position of her right arm and the large crack in her left leg she would've looked like a sleeping, little girl, dreaming peacefully with a relaxed expression. Dreaming of her own little wonderland, her own fantasy.

I couldn't hold back the tears anylonger. My legs gave in and I fell onto my knees aside the Doll Youkai.

Her head was shattered. The back of her head had a large hole in it and her back had broken open.

I never noticed how Nanatsu and Rumia landed aside me, Cirno sitting on Nanatsu's shoulders. She hadn't made it out of the fight unscathed, had been hurt as well, even though it wasn't that bad.

But I couldn't concentrate on anything else but the girl before me. The girl that looked so much like she was sleeping. Sleeping eternally.

But, if anything... She looked like a broken, discarded doll.

That night, I hurt myself again.


Her steps carried her through the Forest of Magic, following the traces of aura in the air. The distinct trace of the Doll Youkai she had created was easy to locate for her... It felt a lot like her own. And that of her children.

She glanced towards the girl that accompanied her, her other 'daughter'... Her other, first creation. The one she had always wished to express more emotions. She watched as her first creation brushed some of her golden-blonde hair out of her face and turned to look at her.

She nodded at her 'daughter', then pointed over to the waterfall near them, the waterfall and the cliff that towered above it. And the broken doll at the foot of the cliff, just aside the waterfall.

Approaching the lifeless heap, the picture of misery, she let out a deep sigh. Her first creation glanced with her emotionless expression at her, and as she nodded, the golden-blonde creation bowed down and picked up the pieces that had broken off the head and the back of the lifeless Doll Youkai.

With these pieces gathered in the arms of her 'daughter', the woman stepped up to her latest creation, the interest-manipulating doll, and let out a deep sigh. She bowed down next to her, picked the lifeless Tsukumogami up, and glanced towards the golden-blonde girl aside her again.

She nodded at her first 'daughter', then gestured her to follow her back home. It would be a long way back to Makai, but it was the only place that she would be able to find out what had gone wrong.

The only place where she should finally able to find out how the Doll Youkai... had begun to live.


"There, all done!", exclaimed Shikieiki Yamaxanadu as her eyes shot open. Rumia mirrored this, opened her eyes as well. Looking down to the three lines on the ground behind Shikieiki, one green, one red, and one black, I let out a deep sigh.

These lines surrounded the entire house... These lines would eventually shoot up into heaven to create the borders that would separate us from Gensokyo. But that wouldn't happen until Shikieiki, Komachi and Minoue would step out of them. But until that would happen, there were some things to be discussed.

It was nearly 24-hours after the craziest day that Gensokyo had ever experienced. And according to the Yama, the death of Kyômi had returned everything to normal. And everyone. And that meant that we had fulfilled the requirements for our request to separate from Gensokyo.

"I have to say it again... Good work you three. Especially on your part, Chôzen.", spoke Shikieiki as she turned towards us again after inspecting the three circles. Green, the outer one, was created with the help of Shikieiki and my negative energy. Red, the one in the middle, was created with the help of Shikieiki and Nanatsu's energy of hellfire. And finally, the black circle on the inside was created with the help of Shikieiki and Rumia's energy of darkness.

"Meh...", I murmured and turned my gaze away. Shikieiki let out a sigh at that. "Look, I believe that your wives have already told you, Chôzen, but... It was an accident. It was not your fault.", spoke the Yama. "But...!", I insisted, only to be silenced as Komachi let out a loud groan.

"Chôzen... The document regarding the death of Kyômi lay on my desk this morning. The cause of death was labeled as an accident. It was an accident, and there is nothing you could've done about that.", sighed Shikieiki and shook her head. "But that aside... You should concentrate on different things now. You three have a life to live. You three need your peace, and you know that as well. So live."

Shikieiki's words shut me up, and I nodded shortly. "You're right... I have different things to concentrate on now.". As I spoke, I turned to look at my wives and smiled at them, receiving warm smiles in return. "We have a life to live. We need our peace.", I repeated Shikieiki's words, and the two women nodded, "Away from Gensokyo. Too much has happened here... We need to start over. Just the three of us."

"Hopefully not for long, eh?", sniggered Komachi, "Yo, Nanatsu! Ya need to tell me once you know that there is a lil' Chôzen running around soon." "Oh, will you shut up? Like the two of them are going in the house now and shag like rabbits.", sneered Rumia in her usual, bold way. "Oh, jealous much?", giggled Minoue, "I'm sure you'll not be abandoned as well... Is it possible that you are desired to have children, Rumia?"

At this, the Angel of Death blushed furiously. If she still would`ve her cat ears, they would`ve twitched furiously... But, and I can't deny that I was a little disappointed, they vanished overnight along with the cat tail, leaving back no sign of ever having been there.

I can't deny that I was blushing as well. It still hurt to think back to when Nanatsu and I had lost our child... And ever since then, I had never really thought about ever having a child again. But... Who knows? I had thought about so many things and had sworn to do so many things never ever again, and yet had done them over the past year again.

"Not the time now, Komachi.. But soon. Maybe.", I chuckled, fighting against my own blush. The red haired Shinigami sniggered again, but then shook her head in amusement. "Cute.", chuckled Minoue, but frowned when I cringed madly. "Calm down. Remilia has returned to normal as well, remember?"

"Apropos time... It is time for you to take your leave now. I am sorry that this has to end all of sudden, but I have work to do, and you know how unforgiving it is to be in my place. But know that we will miss you... It is a little sad to know that you haven't told anybody that you'd leave Gensokyo... Once they'll hear of it, they will get quite sad.", spoke Shikieiki, but I shook my head.

"Sly does know... And I think Koishi Komeiji knows as well. And let's face it: Sly knows, and soon, all of Gensokyo will know.", I chuckled. And frowned as Shikieiki frowned. "Sly?", she asked. "Yeah, Sly, you know... The barkeeper at the human village.", I replied with a wry smile. And Shikieiki frowned harder.

"Chôzen...", she began and looked confused, "There is no human in Gensokyo that is named Sly. Neither as first, last or nickname."

Not only I flinched. Komachi and I immediately shared confused frowns, since we both had been in the pub of the man named Sly several times. And even Nanatsu and Rumia frowned. "But...", I began, looked down at the ground and trailed off. "There is no Sly? But... I am not the only one that knows him. Meiling... Komachi... Yukari and even the gals from the Scarlet Devil Mansion! We've been there in his pub more than once! I even stayed with him when I felt betrayed by Nanatsu and Rumia...!", I insisted.

Shikieiki shook her head again. "He has never been mentioned anywhere, Chôzen. Neither in the Gensokyo Chronicles, nor in any document that I have ever seen. And I have a document about everyone that has ever been in..." Shikieiki's eyes widened all of sudden and she stopped. "All but one!"

She turned around, began to mutter something under her breath, her eyes wide and darting around, never stopping anywhere. And then, she suddenly stopped. And a soft smile spread over her lips. "So that is where he is hiding. I knew he was alive.", she whispered as she turned back to me. "Shikieiki?", I asked, but the Yama shook her head. "No, nothing! Everything is alright.", she chuckled, then turned to Komachi and Minoue, and nodded.

"We have to visit the Circle of Yama, Komachi, Minoue. I think I just figured out something... Thanks to you, Chôzen." I nodded, even though I continued to frown at her. "Now... You three... It is time. We all know that we will see each other again one day, so let us not make this too emotional... And let's stick with 'goodbye for now, my friends'.", smiled the Yama.

"True words, Shikieiki. Alright then... Goodbye for now, my friends.", I repeated, earning a smile from the Yama and her subordinates. "Until then, Enma-sama. We stay in touch... After all, we still serve you.", smirked Rumia and waved. "Please contact us if you need us, Shikieiki-sama.", spoke Nanatsu and bowed. "I will. But only if the need arises. You three shall live the life you deserve. Return to Gensokyo when you feel like the time has come."

"Thank you, Shikieiki.", I spoke and bowed. The Yama bowed as well. "It was a pleasure to work with you three... And it is a pleasure to know you. I must admit, the prospect of not seeing you for a while fills my heart with grief as well, but like we said... It is only temporary. And as long as you stay happy, I shall be as well.", smiled Shikieiki and gestured Komachi and Minoue to leave.

I watched as the two Shinigami stepped out of the circles, and as Shikieiki slowly began to step backwards. "Chôzen!", she called out, and I frowned. "Before we separated now, there is something I wish to say... Or rather, I do have a small riddle for you! A riddle about the origin of... Minoue. Call it a hint, if you want to.", smiled Shikieiki. Komachi flinched and Minoue rose an eyebrow.

"Shikieiki-sama, do you really think that he...?!" "It is quite alright, Komachi. As I said, it is a small riddle, which will give him the final hint to who Minoue is. Remember, Chôzen... When we last met, back after Mima's defeat, I said that her father cannot see her all the time, and that he is similar to you... Well... Minoue has two mothers, and no father. Gensokyo works a little different...", began the Yama, taking another step. One circle lay between us.

"In Gensokyo, there is no need for males to reproduce along the Youkai. Rather than that, it works similar to how you were born... You were born from emotions, Chôzen. Indifference and wrath gathered to become your very being. In Gensokyo, new Youkai are born from the deep love between two people, no matter their gender, and the very essence of them.", continued Shikieiki, taking yet another step back. Two circles separated us. That, and confusion.

"And now for the riddle...", smiled the Yama and rose her rod of remorse, "Komachi may be a slacker, and she often lazes around rather than doing her work... But Komachi was never once sick, and when she does her work, she does it rather well. And I had Nanatsu no Taizai as well, so there was never a need for a third Shinigami... Komachi was not sick for a single day ever since she began to work for me."

Shikieiki licked her lips, and a single glance towards Komachi revealed how nervous she had become. "She had never been sick for a single day... And yet, about almost six centuries ago, there was almost an entire year that she had not been able work for a single day."

The Yama of Gensokyo took the last step. "And now have fun figuring out the solution to that riddle. I shall ask you for the solution when we meet again. Until then, I bid you farewell." And before I could ask her what the hell she had been talking about, the Yama swung her rod of remorse, and the three circles began to glow so bright that it almost blinded me.

ZUUUUUUUN!

Before I knew, three colorful, almost translucent barriers rose from the ground, the circle between us and the three finally working. I frowned at Shikieiki, who I could still see through the barriers, but she shook her head with a large smile, waved for a last time, and then left, Komachi and Minoue following her.

I turned to look at Nanatsu and Rumia. While the Angel of Death looked rather confused, Nanatsu was smiling. "You know something, don't you? Did you figure it out?", I asked, but Nanatsu shook her head. "No need to. I know who and what Minoue is.", smiled Nanatsu and turned to the house, "I know since a long time now. Let's just say that Minoue's secret was hard to keep among the Circle of Yama. And of course, me."

Sharing a last, confused glance with Rumia, the two of us just shrugged. "I was never good at solving riddles.", commented Rumia, but then nodded towards our house. "Come on, I'm hungry. And I need some peace. Yesterday was too crazy.", chuckled Rumia, and I nodded. She was right.

I let out a deep sigh, rolled my shoulders, my neck and stretched my tired limbs. My shoulder was bandaged, but still hurt... At least it had stopped bleeding. All in all, I wasn't feeling too comfortable, but I had no regrets regarding our leave from Gensokyo. Like Shikieiki had said, it was just temporary. One day, we would return. One day, we'd be in Gensokyo again. And I couldn't wait for that day to come, even though I would enjoy this period of peace as long as possible.

As I walked past Nanatsu and Rumia, approached the house that we had lived in and would live in for the next years, despite the fact that it was more or less in Gensokyo, I let my thoughts trail away.

My hand laid onto the doorknob, but I didn't open the door immediately. Rather than that, I closed my eyes and allowed my thoughts to trail off completely.

"Goodbye then, Gensokyo. It may sound like an empty promise, but one day, I'll be back. I had a lot of fun, the last four years were so exciting, even though they also hurt me alot. I just need some time, so I hope you understand... But I will be back. I am part of you just as much as you are part of me. And all of those inside you, please know... This isn't farewell, but goodbye. And upon my return, we shall share our stories with one another yet again, Gensokyo."

I opened my eyes again, allowed a smile to spread across my face, and turned the doorknob.

"Goodbye, Gensokyo."

The door fell close behind me. Gensokyo lay behind me.


(1) A small reference to Mattari Yufi's "Violence Yuukarin", a series of 4koma with Yuuka as it's main character. It focuses on Yuuka in a high school environment. Among the introduced characters was Byakuren, who, for lack of a better description, has an obsession with fondling butts, which has lead to many enjoyable and humorous scenes.

(2) Okay, so you got me there. I actually went and watched "Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt" out of pure boredom... And fell in love with that anime. The style is rather cute and unlike that of usual anime, save for the "transformation scenes". But the best thing about that anime is the crude, black, adult humor.

The thing that Insanity chanted was a small derivation of the chanting that Scanty & Kneesocks, the demon sisters, do during their transformation. It's exactly the same, save for the last line, which I found unfitting for Insanity. Just couldn't stop myself from making this small reference here.

(3) Slenderman.

(4) A Touhou Fangame by Frontier Aja that combines Touhou and Castlevania (Currently has two games, Koumajou Densetsu I and Koumajou Densetsu II). Since the scene with Satori was a reference to Psycho Mantis from Metal Gear Solid, and he knew what games you were playing (from your memory card) and said to me "So you like to play Castlevania!", I thought replacing it with Koumajou Densetsu would be fitting, turning this into a reference in a reference... in a reference?

...By the way, is it me or is there no Koumajou Densetsu Fanfiction yet? Or at least a Touhou Fanfiction that is based on Koumajou Densetsu? Maybe I should write one...

(5) In canon, there is no such thing as a pagoda for the Taoist Group. In canon, Miko and her followers built a dojo suited for hermits in "Senkai", the world of hermits. Reimu described the building as pretty big and shiny, but that is as much information as one gets, other than the dojo being located in Senkai, a sealed secret world for hermits.

In my version of this, the pagoda is, like mentioned, another entrance to Senkai, and connects to this dojo. I thought a counterpart to this dojo in Gensokyo sounded reasonable, and thus the pagoda near the human village, similar to the Myouren Temple of Byakuren.


And so ends this story as well.

Quite a crazy adventure this time, huh? Lots of OOCness, but that was on purpose. I mean, it was part of the incident!

While this book of the "Negative Bullet Project" doesn't have a full number, it is still canon and tells a few important things. This book is canon because the following books, especially the next one, II-Negative Mind, will refer to things mentioned in this book.

There's so many I could say about this installment to the series, but there is also a lot you should figure out on yourself. So I stick with a few things.

As you may have noticed, I decided that our Kayako could need a little more rest, and so, she actually makes no appearance in this, but is mentioned. She was never too much of importance, but will return in the future installments of NBP, even though she'll never become too important, I guess. Unlike Ryoko, Shiho and Sly, Kayako will make little appearances in NBP, mostly because she is restricted to the SDM anyways.

For once, I didn't feel like including Ryoko and Shiho, the two queens that hang around each other quite a lot. Much like Kayako, they are OCs, and since I was already introducing a new OC again, I decided to use as little OCs as possible. Sure, Sly did make an appearance, but it was kind of necessary, especially since I wanted Chôzen to be able to talk with another male character before the departure, and Rinnosuke just didn't feel right.

In other words: As little OCs as possible for this one, aside from the main characters Chôzen, Rumia Shisô and Nanatsu no Taizai.

About the new OC... Kyômi, which means "Interest", is a Tsukumogami, a Doll Youkai, much like medicine. But unlike Medicine, Kyômi was not born from being discarded. She made her first, and so far only appearance in this book... And remains pretty much a mystery for now, her origin remaining a mystery... Mostly. I guess you have your own ideas of how she came to be, but can someone figure it out completely? If not, even though she is broken, Kyômi's story will not be lost, and will eventually be explained. In a future installment to the series. Hope you're "interested".

Also, as you may have noticed, something is up with Chôzen... The guilt is eating him, or is it? Something isn't alright at all, and it has started with Mima's defeat... Or was it there before?

Don't try to figure it out, I'm just trying to confuse you.

Anyways! I bet there is much more that I could say about this book, but it is pretty late already, tomorrow is school, and I am tired... So I'm heading off to bed now! If there are any questions or similar, please do tell me in your review, or PM me.

Review time to this book will be in the first chapter of Book II, which should be up somewhere around the end of the next week, probably Saturday.

I hope you enjoyed this installment, and I see you next time on "Negative Bullet Project"!

So long~

SorrowfulReincarnation.