If you are reading this notebook, then I wish you a good luck in making your way home…
With that line, the bearded man in a jungle explorer getup put down his pen and then closed his notebook. As he stood up, a younger explorer behind him said to him, "If you are ready, then let's go."
"Yes, let us go," the bearded explorer said. "We've been here long enough. Today, we will do whatever we can to escape from this world, even if it may cost our lives…"
Both the explorers then left the building they were inside of, leaving behind a few pieces of furniture made of wood, three hammocks, and a compass and a notebook on a table.
A Game2002 Production
DEEP, DARK DANGERS
A full week had passed by since one of the most devastating incidents to have happened in the Human Village, an invasion of a large amount of demons after being convinced by a notorious criminal from the outside world only known as Human Being, had ended. Things had finally settled down, and demons were once again made sure that they wouldn't attack anyone in the village so easily. The villagers could once again travel around in peace without fear of being attacked by demons, so long as they stay in village grounds.
The Hakurei shrine maiden, Reimu, and a good friend of hers, Marisa, were walking down the street, heading in the direction of a book rental store owned by a good friend of the former. It was a place where books from the outside world were mostly found, and the collection grew every once in a while somehow.
The duo went inside, which was rather quiet, as there were more or less nobody, save for the store owner, Kosuzu Motoori, seated behind a desk at the back of the store. The store owner was way too absorbed by her book to notice the two of them approaching, and when they were near, Reimu called her to grab her attention. When it failed, she called out louder, and that was when Kosuzu heard the sound and thus lifted her head to see who it was. "Reimu! Marisa!" she said in surprise. "Sorry for not noticing you earlier!"
"It's all right," Reimu told her. "Exciting books can really make you lose your mind after all. At least that's what Marisa said…"
"And that's why you should read books more often," Marisa told her. "They can really take you on adventures-ze!"
Kosuzu closed her book after placing a tag in between the pages she stopped at and then took off her glasses. "How may I help you today?" she asked them as put her book onto the desk.
"Nothing, really," Marisa told her. "Wanted to read some good books, but I have the feeling that I'm going to piss off Alice and Patchouli and make them come after my life if I go to them for some, so I decided to come here instead. Reimu is here because she said there's nothing to do around these days, so I suggested that she come here to rent something to read to keep herself entertained."
"Really?" Kosuzu asked as she turned to look at Reimu. "Then you did the right thing by coming here! Reading is a really good way to keep yourself entertained, Reimu! We have lots of great novels in aisle number five that will surely keep you entertained!"
"Thanks for the suggestion," Reimu said. "I'll pick whatever I find interesting myself." Then she went off in a certain direction.
"Don't mind if I do the same thing-ze!" Marisa said before walking off in another direction.
"I hope you all enjoy!" Kosuzu said as she sat down to continue reading her book, but something came to her. "Oh, I just remembered that I was going to unpack the newly arrived box of books." Then she quickly ran to the storeroom.
Marisa looked into the aisles in between each of the bookshelves, and then she noticed someone way too familiar. "Patchouli!" she said in surprise.
The supposedly immovable librarian of the Scarlet Devil Mansion looked up from the book she was reading and turned to look at the approaching witch. "Oh, it's you," she said to Marisa. Instead of being in her usual pajama-like clothing, she was wearing a light purple dress that was accompanied with a cape. Her hat, a witch's hat instead than her usual one, was hanging down her back using a string that went around her neck. Her hair was also tied into a braid.
"How rare to see you out here in the public!" Marisa said to her. "What's the matter? Suddenly feel like coming out to breathe some fresh air and absorb sunlight-ze?"
"Wanted to read some new books," the magician replied as she continued reading her book. "Since I'm not sure what book I want, I decided to come here to look for one."
"Did you come alone?" Marisa asked her.
"A fairy maid accompanied me," Patchouli replied. "She's currently shopping for grocery."
Marisa leaned against the bookshelf on her left and asked her, "What book do you have in mind?"
"Anything knowledgeable will do," Patchouli replied while flipping through the book. "I prefer educational ones rather than fictional ones."
"As if you don't have enough knowledge already…" Marisa said to her. "You should let yourself go once in a while, you know? By that, I mean enjoying life and not always stick to education and such. I'm not saying education is bad, but it can't be all work and no play, right?"
"Seeking education is a form of entertainment to me, so I'm satisfied with it," Patchouli told her.
"Eh… Suit yourself… Just mind you that people are going to fall asleep sooner or later if you try to entertain them using this method…" Marisa told her.
When Reimu walked past a certain aisle, she saw Eirin standing in there, flipping through a book about herbs. "It's you, Eirin," the shrine maiden said to her.
Eirin looked at her and said, "Hi there, Hakurei shrine maiden! What brings you here today?"
"Marisa told me to come here to find something to read as a way of keeping myself entertained," Reimu replied.
"That's a nice idea she has there!" Eirin said as she closed the book and put it back into the bookshelf. "Reading is a good way to pass time, so you should read books more."
"Just not sure what sort of book to read," Reimu said. "I'm not sure what sort of genre I'm interested in…"
"Think of what interests you the most and then go look for a book on that subject," Eirin said as she turned her eyes back to her book. "I'm sure you'll find something you like eventually."
"Not a bad idea…" Reimu said. "Though honestly saying, I don't even know if I have a hobby or something I'm particularly interested in… Wait, I think I know…" Then she left with one thing in her mind. "Let's hope there's a book about helping one get more donations!"
She looked at the signs hanging down from the ceiling to see what kind of books were placed within each of the aisles, and then she noticed two people coming in, Yuugi, Ichirin, and Unzan. "Hey there, shrine maiden!" Yuugi, who was carrying a stack of books on her shoulder, said to her while waving.
"I never thought I'd see you in this kind of place…" Reimu said to Yuugi. "Someone who uses brute force to solve pretty much everything in a place full of books?"
"Way to go on stereotyping…" Ichirin said to her.
"Nah, she's actually right… Solving things using brute force is what I do best, and I'm not a sucker for books either…" Yuugi said to her. "The only reason I'm here is to help Satori return books she rented from here. Since I don't really have anything to do currently, and seeing that she has more books than she can carry with her, I decided to help her return them. This amount and weight is nothing to me at all! By the way, where do you put these?"
Reimu pointed at Kosuzu's desk and said, "Just place them there, I think…"
"Okay! Thanks!" Yuugi said as she headed in that direction.
"I'm here to return this book Mistress Hijiri rented and also rent another one she wants for her," Ichirin told Reimu.
"What sort of book does she read?" Reimu asked.
"Stuff about Buddhism and anything can help promote relationship between humans and demons," Ichirin replied. "She's been looking into books about famous outside world people known for acts of peace, like Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr."
"Typical of her…" Reimu said. "And who are Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.?"
Yuugi had just placed the stack of books she was carrying onto the desk when Kosuzu came out of the storage room with two cardboard boxes. Seeing that she was having a hard time carrying them, Yuugi went over and offered to help, despite the former saying that she didn't need any. Yuugi took the boxes from her, placed them in front of the desk, and then opened one of them. "So you need to put these books in the correct shelves, right?" Yuugi asked.
"Correct," Kosuzu said.
"I'll help you, then!" the oni said to her.
"It's all right," Kosuzu told her. "I fear that it will be too tough for you to handle…"
"Nah, I'm sure it won't be too hard if you tell me how to do it," Yuugi said. "I just have to look at their titles, find out the categories they belong to, and then put them in the shelves containing the same kinds of books, right?"
"Yes," Kosuzu said with a nod.
"Then that should be easy!" Yuugi said. She picked up the box and then headed for one of the bookshelves while looking at the titles on the books' spines. "Let see… History of the Earth… I think that fits into the nature category…" While the oni was busy, Kosuzu opened the other box and took out some of books to put them in the shelves.
Reimu was in one of the aisles looking for books about donations when suddenly someone called out her name. She turned her head and saw Sunny Milk, Luna Child, and Star Sapphire standing there. "Oh, it's you girls," the shrine maiden said. "What are you doing here? You better not play any pranks here, or I else I won't let you get away with it."
"Don't worry; we know better than to cause trouble in a place like this," Sunny Milk told her. "We're here to rent some books."
"Oh really? Dim-witted fairies like you don't strike me as ones who would read books," Reimu said.
"Actually, Luna Child reads often," Star Sapphire told her. "Just that she can't seem to absorb any knowledge into her head…"
"I did learn a few things…" said Luna Child, sounding a bit offended at what her friend said.
"Once we get our hand on books about pranks, you better get ready for what we're going to whip up in the future!" Sunny Milk told Reimu. "Just wait and see!" Then the three of them ran off, only to get told by Kosuzu that one shouldn't run in this place.
Kosuzu had finished putting away the books she had in her hand, and as she turned to the box to get more, she noticed someone heading into the bookstore. "Oh, it's you, Keine! Welcome!" Kosuzu said to her.
"Nice to meet you, Kosuzu!" Keine said to her.
"What brings you here today?" the storeowner asked her.
"I'm going to teach about the history of Japanese architectures to my class tomorrow, so I'm here to look for books on that subject," the were-hakutaku told her.
"Oh, you can find them in aisle 14," Kosuzu told her while pointing her hand at said aisle's direction. "The last time I checked, they are all up-to-date."
"Thank you!" Keine said. "Must be tough trying to remember all the books you have here, where they are located, and whether or not they are up-to-date, isn't it?"
"It's easy once you've done this long enough, which is the case for me," Kosuzu replied with a smile. Keine went to look for the textbooks, while Kosuzu went back to get more books to place into shelves.
While taking out the books, she picked up one with light brown cover that was peculiar in the way that it lacked words and pictures on the cover, save for a medium-sized piece of light-blue crystalline decoration there, and it was bounded by two button straps. "No title? What's this book about?" she wondered as she put down the other books to open up this one. She flipped through the pages and saw pictures of a jungle landscape and various kinds of fierce-looking animals, most of them being reptiles and arthropods. "Must be a book about wildlife…"
She reached the last page and saw a picture of what appeared to the top of a pyramid built by jungle natives. While she was looking at that picture, all the other girls except Keine came up to the desk and looked at her. "I'll be renting these two books!" Marisa said to her as she placed her two books onto the desk.
"I think I placed all of them in the correct bookshelves," Yuugi told Kosuzu. "Anymore books for me to put away?"
Kosuzu closed the book and looked at the people around her. "Oh, sorry, got too absorbed by this book…" she apologized. "I'll get to work checking out your books right away!" When she closed the book, she gripped the front part of the cover hard enough to make the crystalline decoration get pushed inside. This caused the decoration to let out a bright light that engulfed Kosuzu and all the girls around her.
Keine noticed the light in the aisle she was in, so she stepped out to look at what was going on and also went up to the others, who all had surprised looks on their faces. "What happened?" she asked.
Then there was a bright flash, and all the girls were gone. The book Kosuzu was holding, however, was left behind on the floor. Shortly after this happened, a girl with white hair that was partly blue stuck her head out from within one of the aisles and looked around in confusion. "What was that just now?" she wondered.
The surrounding was nothing but bright light, so the girls were unable to open their eyes, as it stung them really bad, almost to the point of blinding them. When they sensed the light dying down through their eyelids, they were able to open their eyes again. "Whoa… What was that all about…?" Marisa asked. "It's like the sun was right in front of our eyes, and I don't mean Utsuho's artificial suns…"
Reimu looked around the place and noticed something very, very wrong. "Um… I don't know where this is, but this definitely isn't the inside of a book rental store…" The others looked around and found what Reimu was indeed true. Rather than being inside Kosuzu's book rental store, they were standing in a clearing of a jungle.
"Wha… What…? How did we end up here?" Ichirin asked in confusion. "We were just in the book rental store a moment ago!"
"This is peculiar…" Patchouli commented. "It's as if the light just now was a teleportation magic of sorts that brought us here…"
"How did that happen?" Marisa asked. "Who casted teleportation magic?"
Kosuzu looked at her hands and noticed that the book she was holding was no longer there, and then something came to her. "I think I might know something… This landscape… It looks just like the pictures found in the book I was looking at just now! The book is gone now, though…"
Reimu turned to her and said, "Right, you were reading a book when we came to you to check out books."
"What did you mean when you said this landscape looks just like the pictures found in the book?" Patchouli asked Kosuzu.
"The book I was looking at showed pictures of a jungle that looks just like where we are standing at currently," Kosuzu told her. "There were also pictures of various wild and dangerous-looking animals in the book… I don't know how we got brought here, honestly…"
"Hmmm… So you said the book showed pictures of this jungle and also wild animals?" Patchouli asked.
"Do you know anything about that book?" Marisa asked the magician.
Patchouli shook her head. "Doesn't sound familiar to me… From the sound of it, it would appear that the book Kosuzu was reading contained some kind of magical property that is capable of warping people to the place shown in it. I didn't know there are books capable of doing this…"
"Okay, so that book brought us into this jungle," Reimu said. "There are no jungles in Gensokyo, but I do know they exist in the outside world, so does that mean we're in the outside world?"
"I'm not sure…" Kosuzu said. "Judging from the pictures of the animals, they don't look like ones you would find in the outside world… Some of them do resemble animals of the outside world, but I have seen pictures of actual outside world animals before, and they don't look all that much like the ones I saw in that book."
"Well, the world out there has lots of strange, undiscovered things, so it's possible that those are undiscovered animals," Patchouli said. "Still, I doubt this is the outside world, because if those animals really are undiscovered, there shouldn't be a book talking so much about them. The outside world should have more information on them if that was the case, and I've read a lot about animals too, so I can be sure of this."
"Then where are we?" Keine asked. "If this isn't the outside world…"
"It's possible that we are in another dimension," Patchouli replied.
"What does that mean?" Sunny Milk asked.
"There is a theory that different universes exist alongside one another, but they cannot accessed through traditional methods," Patchouli explained. "They exist in different spaces and plains of reality. Only magic or very advanced form of science is capable of allowing one to access those universes. Things that are myths in our world may actually be real in those worlds, and the vice versa may also be true.
"Dimensions may not always be very different. It may be similar, but with minor changes. It's possible for there to be a universe where we do not exist at all, even Gensokyo. There's even the possibility of an alternate universe where we exist, but our backgrounds and such are in no way the same or similar. For example, there's the possibility that in an alternate universe somewhere, Marisa is a notorious criminal wanted by the whole world."
"Hey, is that supposed to be making fun of me…?" asked Marisa, sounding offended.
"Um… I don't think I get your point…" asked Sunny Milk, confused about Patchouli's explanation.
"To put it simple, we are currently in a world that cannot be accessed through any methods other than magic or advanced science," Patchouli said. "I'm afraid there is no way we can return to our own world unless we find out what exactly it was that brought us here."
"Interesting… I've read about alternate universe theories before too, though not that much," Eirin said after hearing Patchouli's explanation. "So we're now in one of those various universes, one that that has animals not found in the outside world, right?"
"So… any idea on how we can return to our own world?" Yuugi asked Patchouli.
"Kosuzu claims that the book was what brought us here, so perhaps it can help us," Patchouli said. "However, the book is currently not with her, so I'm not sure… Perhaps there is something around here that will give us clues."
Kosuzu tried to recall the things she saw in the book. "Let's see… I do remember coming across pictures of ruins that seem to be built by natives… Perhaps this place has a civilization of sorts…"
"If everything you see in the book can be found here, then I'm sure the ruins you spoke of exist as well," Patchouli said.
"So we just have to find those ruins?" Reimu asked. "Well, what are waiting for? Let's look for those ruins and ask the inhabitants there, if there are any, the way back home."
"Let's hope this place isn't dangerous too…" Marisa said.
Suddenly, a reaction appeared on Star Sapphire's face. Knowing her friend's ability to detect the presence of moving things very well, Sunny Milk asked her, "Did you sense something approaching?"
The fairy in blue nodded and said, "Yes… It's something big, and it's close by as well…" She slowly turned her head to the side and looked into the opening in between the trees. Everyone looked in the same direction and waited for something to happen. Suddenly, the trees were uprooted and pushed aside by what appeared to be a giant snake.
"What in the world?!" Marisa said in shock.
When more of the snake-like creature's body came out, he was revealed to have legs as well. The creature raised his head high in the air and glared at the shocked the girls for a few seconds before lunging in Keine's direction with his mouth wide open to devour her. "Keine! Watch out!" Reimu shouted at her.
Keine quickly tossed herself out of the way before the creature got her, and when the latter turned to look at her, Yuugi gave him a powerful punch to the side of the head that quickly made him pull back his head into the air. Yuugi got into fighting stance and said to the creature, "C'mon! You want a piece of us? You'll have to get through me first!"
The snake-like creature hissed loudly before bringing down his head to devour her, but she leaped up high into the air and then came back down on top of his head, punching it hard to the ground. The oni pummeled the creature from above multiple times before he brought back up his head and shook it to make her fly off.
"Demon Buster!" Reimu shouted as she threw several paper amulets coated in pink auras at the reptilian creature.
"Meteoric Swarm!" Marisa shouted as she used her hakkero to fire several star-shaped projectiles.
The projectiles fired by the shrine maiden and the witch blasted the snake-like creature and forced him to pull back a few steps. He hissed loudly and then brought most of his body into the clearing from the side, plowing down several trees as a result. Using his very long body, the creature had the girls fully surrounded. It was also revealed that the creature had more than just four pair of legs. "Oh no! We're trapped!" Kosuzu gasped.
"Not unless you can fly!" Marisa said.
"But I can't fly!" Kosuzu told her.
The snake-like creature slammed down his head as if it was a hammer to hit the girls, but the ones that were in the way quickly jumped aside to safety. When the creature pulled back up his head, he was punched in the side very hard by Unzan's fist. When the creature turned to look at the nyuudou, the latter punched him across the head multiple times. The snake-like creature eventually retaliated by biting the fist, but as every part of Unzan's body was cloud-like, the nyuudou's hand merely dissipated and then reformed again. The nyuudou brought the same fist into the air and slammed it down onto the snake's head very hard.
The snake-like creature's head was smashed to the ground, and then he passed out. Unzan returned to Ichirin, who praised him for his job well done. "That takes care of that," Reimu said as she looked at the unconscious creature. "What is this anyway? Snakes aren't supposed to have legs…"
"A lizard, perhaps?" Marisa said. "They look like snakes with limbs after all."
"Doubtful," Eirin said. "The body and facial appearance are the same as a snake, and its eyes didn't blink the whole time too, just like snakes. The only answer I can come up with is that it's a snake with legs. A mutation, perhaps? It must have very insane growth hormones to grow this big too…"
"Either that, or it's a creature native to this dimension," Patchouli said. "Do you remember seeing a creature like this in the book, Kosuzu?"
Kosuzu tried to recall what she saw in the book again. "I believe I did this creature in the book, but I didn't pay attention to the details…"
"Then that means everything you see in the book exists here," Patchouli said. "If there are even more dangerous creatures than this, then we surely have to be careful."
"No danger is going to scare me or take us down!" Yuugi said while punching her palm. "A giant monster shows up? I'll give it a good punching!"
"Yeah, there's less to be afraid of with you people here," Sunny Milk said. "However, I just realized that the three of us have abilities that can help us all too! I can manipulate light to make us all invisible, Luna can manipulate sound so that nobody can hear us, and Star can warn us of anything approaching!"
"Guess we're lucky to have the three of you here after all," Marisa said. "Just don't get yourself into trouble, and we should all do fine."
Patchouli looked at the unconscious snake-like creature and said, "I doubt this creature will stay down for long, so let us get out of here now."
"Right, let's find those ruins and hope that we can get out of here from there," Reimu said. "This place is giving me the creeps already…"
TO BE CONTINUED
This is the second story in my Touhou series, and I hope you will enjoy this one! Unlike the previous story, which looked into philosophical and psychological issues and such, this one completely throws away anything like those and goes for an action-packed and danger-filled theme instead.
Other than the obvious Reimu and Marisa, the other characters are chosen according to how they can help in this story. Patchouli, Kosuzu, and Keine's knowledge is important in guiding everyone back home, Eirin's medical skills is vital in keeping everyone healthy, Yuugi and Unzan are heavy hitters who provide everyone with strength and fighting force (Ichirin has to be there with Unzan, mind you), and the three mischievous fairies are there for reasons explained by Sunny Milk already.
Patchouli's design is inspired by the one found in a doujin made by Morino Hon, Omoito Zwei. While the comic itself is work-safe, please still be aware of running across of NSFW stuff if you plan to look for it. It really depends on what site it is, though. Also, Ichirin is wearing her Hopeless Masquerade outfit.
Yes, that girl who remained in the book rental store is Tokiko, in case you haven't figured out yet. One last thing, this story was originally called Dangers of the Dark and Deep. I changed it because I thought it sounds better shorter.