A season that symbolizes loneliness…
and the end…
BGM: A calm and slow-paced remix of A God That Misses People ~ Romantic Fall
A sea of trees, colors ranging from red to orange…
As one the goddesses that makes up the goddesses of autumn, I know this better than anyone else…
A swift kick to a tree…
I am always there when this season comes…
Leaves fall off their branches and slowly float to the ground, covering it until it became a sea of leaves…
But this is not the kind of end that brings tears…
It is the kind that allows new lives to be born…
and bring happiness to those expecting it…
A blond girl in a red dress bent down and gently picked up a leaf. Standing back up, she carefully placed it near the side of her head in a way so that it wouldn't fall off her hair…
The colors of red, orange, and yellow…
Like fire spreading across the treetops, those colors mark the end of the leaves…
But their demise is far from painful and tragic…
The girl slowly walked through the forest, the dried leaves crackling underneath her feet with each step…
The sight of leaves slowly falling down from the trees…
Forest floors covered in them…
To those with a sense of aesthetics…
It is beautiful…
The girl stepped out of the forest and looked at the beautiful scenery of nature before her eyes. A light wind picked up, blowing some leaves into the air. The girl smiled lightly as she raised her arms to the side with her head tilted up and her eyes closed to enjoy the coolness of the wind as they blew against her skin, hair, and clothes…
It is the season of loneliness, demise…
A Game2002 Production
GODDESS OF RED LEAVES
Autumn had arrived in Gensokyo, and it was the season when most crops were ripe and ready to be harvested. It was the season when farmers were more than joyful, as their year of hard work had finally paid off. All those hours spend underneath the sun toiling the soil, planting seeds, watering them, tending to them, and getting rid of pests were finally worth it. At long last, it was time to see the result of their hard works.
Near the outskirts of the Human Village was a farmland where several farmers lived and made their profit through their crops. Crops of various kinds were gathered together, some arranged in piles and some in long lines. It was as if the farmers were trying to show off to the world what they managed to grow.
A middle-aged man looked at the pile of pumpkins he gathered together and said, "Gotta say that I'm impressed with these! Took me lots of sweat to get these looking orange and healthy! I don't think I've ever succeeded in planting such good-looking pumpkins! All those hard work under the sun finally paid off!"
Another middle-aged man, a fatter one, walked up to him and said, "Your pumpkins may look good, but they're nothing compared to the squash I planted! Now don't get into the argument of them being different kinds of vegetables, so there's no point in comparing them. They're all crops that we planted using the same kind of soil, so if the quality is not the same for the both of us, you'll know that one of us is doing it wrong!"
"And I was about to show you the squashes I planted, too!" the first man said as he pointed his hand in the direction of a basket of squashes. "As you should probably be able to tell from here, they're plumper than yours!"
"Ha! Big deal! You've got to look at the corns I planted!" the second man said. "I'm going to bring you a basketful full of them right now! You'll be amazed at how fresh they look!"
Just as he was going to go and get his basketful of corn, a tall, bearded man came over and said, "Boasting about each other's vegetables, eh? Haha! That's just like you guys! There's no point in arguing whose is better until you've seen the result of a pro!"
"Oh boy… There he goes again… Boasting about how he came from a long lineage of farmers and how his skills were passed down from generation to generation, so everything he plants is of the highest quality again…" the first man said, and the second man nodded in agreement.
The bearded man was going to start boasting about his crops when suddenly his plump wife stepped up in front of him and said to the two, "It doesn't matter whose crops are better! What's most important that we should all thank the goddess of abundant harvest for allowing our crops to grow up healthily, not to mention making the harvest successful! Every year, she does her best to make our hard work pay off, so we must never forget to give her our thanks!"
"You're right," the first man said. "I almost forgot about the goddess of abundant harvest! She's probably not going to like it if we forget about her…"
"Yeah, remember how Gorou's crops were trampled and ruined the day after he kept on boasting about how it was all his skills that all his crops are very high quality?" the second man said, and then he looked at the bearded man's wife. "Good thing you stepped in to stop him from boasting; otherwise, it's going to be a repeat of last year…"
"Because of this, we must never forget about the goddess of abundant harvest, Minoriko Aki!" the woman said. "I'm sure she is looking at us from somewhere with a smile on her face! She may even consider showing herself in front of us! Being able to meet the goddess herself is an honor!"
"Well, if you don't mind, I'd like to show you the tomatoes I planted," the bearded man said. "Just one look and you'll want to eat them!" He turned to his basket of tomatoes placed not too far away and noticed a little boy picking some of the tomatoes. "Hey! Who are you and what are you doing?!"
The boy, seeing that he had been spotted, ran away with the tomatoes he stole as fast as he could, and the man shouted for him to stop while giving chase.
There was nobody near the boy when he made his escape, so he thought he was going to have no issues getting away. Suddenly, leaves were blown at him, making him unable to see the front properly. Someone suddenly caught him from the front, and the sudden halt made him drop the tomatoes, some of them splattering upon hitting the ground.
The three men from before came running up to the boy and the person who caught her, a blond girl dressed in red, and the bearded man said, "Thanks goodness that you caught the thief!"
Without saying anything, the girl tossed the boy in front of the three men, and the bearded man scolded him. In the midst of his scolding, a voice interrupted him, and everyone turned to the side see a blond girl wearing a yellow blouse and red dress walking towards them, and they could smell the scent of sweet potatoes coming from her as well.
"That would be enough, Mr. Gorou," the girl said to the bearded man with a smile on her face.
The fat man said, "I know her! She's the goddess of abundant harvest!" Immediately, everyone except the blond girl bowed down in front of her.
The girl—Minoriko Aki—looked at the boy and told him to lift up his head. "I understand why you're stealing other people's crop," she said to him in a kind voice. "Your house is suffering from financial problems, and you are quite low in food supply. Because your parents are unable to provide an adequate amount of food for the entire family, you couldn't help but steal some of the crops, right?"
The boy guiltily nodded his head.
"It's all right! I'm not angry at you, but please do now that stealing isn't good!" Minoriko said to him. "At least ask them first if you can take some! These crops are the result of their hard works, and it would be a huge blow to them if they were to be stolen." She then turned the bearded man. "Mr. Gorou, would you please forgive this child? You have heard me saying what the problem is with his family already, and I'm sure you are a man kind enough to share your crops. After all, you're always proud of your crops, so surely you would want other people to try them out and see for themselves if you really are telling the truth!"
"Well, you're the goddess, so who am I to deny you?" the bearded man said. "All right… I'll let the kid go, and he can take the tomatoes he took if he wants to."
"I'll also give him some of my pumpkins and squashes!" another one of the man said.
"He can have my corns, too!" the fat man said. "They'll definitely make him and his family healthy like me!"
With that, the three men returned in the direction of their crops, and the boy said thank you to Minoriko before following them, taking with him the tomatoes he stole. "Take care!" Minoriko said to him while waving at him.
"Hmph! You went too easy on him," the other girl said to the goddess. "With an attitude like that, chances are likely that he'll do something like this again."
"Don't say that, sis," Minoriko said to her. "He's still young, and you should think of the life he currently is living, too! Kindness can touch the hearts of people and change them!"
"Maybe, but some people may take advantage of it, too," the other girl—Shizuha Aki—said.
"You should think more positively, sis," Minoriko said to her while looking at the farmers giving the boy some of their crops. "The nicer you are to other people, the more people will like you!"
"Unlike you, I lack people skills and am not the kind of person to think positive things all the time," Shizuha said. "Your positive and outgoing attitude makes you popular with other people, unlike me… After all, you're the goddess of abundant harvest, and people like it when their crops grow. Therefore, they take pleasure in your existence and praise you nonstop. I'm the goddess of red leaves, and what exactly is the purpose of turning leaves red and making them fall off trees when autumn comes? Sure, children enjoy playing in dead leaves and burning them in order roast sweet potatoes, but compared to your ability, mines is something that doesn't sound impressive…"
"The fact that some people appreciate what you do should be good enough!" Minoriko said to her. "Look at the smiles on the children's face when they play in the leaves and roast sweet potatoes using them! Being able to bring smiles to the face of children is something worth being happy about!"
"But like I said, it's nothing compared to the number of smiles you can put on people's face," Shizuha said to her. "Your ability can solve hunger and help people make profit. No matter how you look at it, the majority is going to agree that your existence is more important and desirable than mines. My existence basically causes the death of trees. I don't see how an ability that causes the end of things is something you can be happy about."
"Cheer up, sis!" Minoriko said to her with a smile on her face. "The demise you bring to trees isn't everlasting. When winter comes and then goes, life will return to them again! You are doing this in order to allow trees to sprout new leaves and become new again! Thanks to you, trees are able to have fresh, green leaves every year! Your ability is something lovers of nature appreciate!"
Shizuha began to turn to leave. "That may be true, but in the end, the ability to bring an end to things is not as appreciated as one that brings forth abundance of crops. Your existence and ability will always be appreciated by everyone. Anyway, I'm taking my leave. Those people are hoping for you to give them your blessings, aren't they? Go and put smiles on their faces, then." A gust of wind carrying a large amount of leaves suddenly whipped up around her, shielding her from the view of her younger sister entirely, and when the latter was gone, so was the goddess.
Minoriko sighed with a light smile on her face. "That's just like her to be so negative… I do pity her at times, though… Hope the day will come when she get appreciated by people more…" Then she headed in the direction of the farmers.
The leaves crumbled underneath her feet as Shizuha walked through a forest somewhere near the Human Village.
Minoriko has always been more popular and loved than me. It's obvious why. After all, who wouldn't love a goddess who can bring fortune to their farm works? She knows a lot about socializing with other people and making friends. I, on the other hand, lack any of those skills. Since the beginning, I was never the kind of person to hang out with others, always preferring to spend time by myself and watching everyone enjoying from afar. Pretty much nobody would come and talk to me either…
The goddess stopped in front of a tree that still had all its leaves on its branches, so she give it a swift but strong kick to the trunk, causing all of them to fall down. Despite the size of the tree trunk compared to her stature, her kick was strong enough to make the whole thing shake.
Well, there was that one time when I was sitting on a tree branch, a young man came by and asked what my name is. From the look of his face, he seems to have been smitten by my beauty. Well, that's understandable, since Minoriko even appreciates my looks. He tried to start a conversation with me, but since I am a goddess and he is human, we cannot be with each other forever, so all I did was tell him my name and then left quickly afterwards. Plus, he's not type.
Shizuha watched as the leaves slowly floated down around her, and then she continued on her way.
Autumn is a season that symbolizes loneliness and the end of things. All life will come to an end one day. Being a goddess, chances are likely that I will survive to see the end of the world and all life in it. By that time, I may be the only person left in this world. It doesn't matter, because I am used to being alone, so when that day comes, I'll just treat it like how my life has always been. Other than my younger sister, I pretty much never socialize with anyone… Ever…
Suddenly, a loud crash surprised the goddess. Looking up to see birds scattering into the air while chirping loudly, Shizuha wondered what that sound was just now and what had just happened. Seeing that the birds were flying from the direction before her eyes, she figured that whatever it was, it came from over there, so she wasted no time in rushing there to find out the truth.
She came to a stop at the exact same time another crash was heard. Standing next to a tree, she watched with a shocked expression at the sight before her eyes—trees, several of them cut down and lying on the ground.
"What… What is happening here…?" she wondered. She looked at the ones responsible for the fallen trees and saw kappas and fairies cutting them down using chainsaws and other kinds of tools used for woodcutting. She continued to look around and saw a person that stood out among the kappas and fairies. It was a young woman in her early twenties wearing a construction outfit of sorts and a helmet over her light brown hair that reached slightly halfway down her back. Seeing that she was giving out orders to the kappas and fairies, Shizuha figured that she was the one in charge of this.
"All right, cut down the trees in the western side," the woman called out to some of the kappas and fairies. "The trees in the north will have to go as well. Get this done before sunset!"
The kappas and fairies gave yes as their reply before heading over in said directions to cut down the trees. Shizuha remained where she was and watched with a somewhat shocked expression. The last time she came to this place was only three days ago, and the trees were still intact that time, but now, a large amount of them were gone. Such a sight did not sit well with her, so she went over to the person in charge and asked her, "What is happening here? Why are all these trees being cut down?"
The woman turned to her and said, "Oh, I know you! You're one of the goddesses that make up the autumn deities!"
Shizuha pointed her arm at the fallen trees and said, "Please answer my question. Why are all these trees being cut down? I understand trees being cut down to build architectures and for lumber, but such a large amount being cut down is unheard of here! Seeing how the kappas are involved, I take that this has something to do with the science department, right? Is the mountain goddess planning something?"
"As a matter of fact, you're right!" the woman said to her. "Oh, by the way, my name is Akemi Machida, third in command of the construction, engineering, and technology departments of Gensokyo! Nice to meet you!" She grabbed the goddess's hand and shook it. "To answer your question… Yes, the goddess of the Moriya Shrine did indeed ask for this to be done, as she is planning to build a movie theater!"
"A movie theater…?" Shizuha curiously said.
"Yep! A movie theater!" Akemi told her. "Cinemas are a big thing in the outside world, so the goddess believes that it's about time the people of Gensokyo get exposed to one of the main forms of entertainment of the outside."
"I know what a movie theater is, but to cut down such a large amount of trees just to make one… I think this is too much," Shizuha said to her. "Cinemas do not need to be grand-scaled. You can easily set one up in medium-sized empty lot or building."
"Oh, you don't know the thrill of watching movies in wide open spaces and with all the current technologies, don't you?" Akemi said to her, and then she shook her head slowly with her hands raised just below shoulder level. "Well, I can't blame you for not knowing about it, since you probably spent your entire life living in Gensokyo and had no exposure to the trends of the outside world. I came from the outside world after all, so I know a lot about such things then most of you here!"
Shizuha raised an eyebrow upon hearing the last line. "You came from the outside world?"
"Yep!" Akemi replied with a nod. "I've been here for a year already. Somehow stumbled upon this world while visiting a shrine out there… Being accustomed to life in the outside world, I was disappointed that this place is leading a very prehistoric life, but then I stumbled upon the kappas playing with inventions they created. This grabbed my interest, as I didn't expect to see something so high-tech in this primitive place. After telling them that I expertise in architecture, engineering, and science and technology, they decided to show me their science lab.
"You won't believe how amazed I was at seeing such a high-tech lab underneath this place! I was fascinated by the technology of the kappas! They're on par with the technology of the outside world, and I dare say that some of them are even more advanced than the outside! I immediately applied for a job there, and my skills quickly promoted me to being the third seat of the construction, engineering, and technology department. The mountain goddess has some really great ideas about renovating Gensokyo to make it a highly advanced place, and I fully agree with her! It's about time that the people here move out of their caveman-like lifestyles and live more like modern-day humans! You can't always live in the past and ignore the present, you know?"
"That's not necessary a bad thing, is it…? Anyway, I think that it's a good idea to introduce the people here to things from the outside world more, but I think we should take it slowly. There are some people here who do not even know what a television is! A full-blown movie theater will probably scare them too much, so I think that if we want to introduce them to movies, we should start with my idea just now, a medium-sized empty lot or building where the movie is being played." said Shizuha. "We can then increase the scale little by little the more they become interested in it!"
"On the contrary, I think you should go with a bang right off the bat if you want to impress people and grab their attentions," claimed Akemi. "If you start with something small, you likely won't grab anyone's attention at all. What better way than the impress people by starting off with something spectacular, grand-scaled, and awesome? This movie theater is going to blow away everyone here! It's going to be something unheard of here!"
"Let me ask you something first: is this something known to the others yet?" Shizuha asked her. "I mean has the goddess made this announcement to the public yet? I don't think the people here will take it lightly seeing lots of trees being cut down. She should have everyone's approval first before starting a project like this!"
"Don't worry; she made an announcement about it already yesterday," Akemi told her. "Whether they like it or not, they'll have to accept it. Plus, the entertainment they can get from watching movies is a good enough compensation for all the trees cut down! Plus, what's the point of letting trees stand around anyway? They're destined to be cut down in the end for various purposes, such as making furniture, papers, and more!"
"Please do not talk so lightly of trees," Shizuha said to her in a somewhat offended tone. "Trees have life, and they are an important part in the lives of living things. They provide us with food, oxygen, and shelter. Life cannot exist without trees."
"Technology and science can replace them," Akemi told her. "You better not underestimate the power of science! Thanks to advanced technology and the brilliant minds of scientists, humans are living better lives than before! Trees may be important, but they are now of the past! People now have better ways to live life than rely on them! Also, isn't it strange that someone like you is saying this?"
A question mark appeared over Shizuha's head. "What do you mean?"
"You're the goddess of red leaves, and you're responsible for making leaves wither and fall off trees, right? That would mean your job is to basically kill off trees!" Akemi said to her. "Because of this, it seems weird for you to feel sad or mad that trees are being cut down now. You make trees die, so you shouldn't be feeling bad when you see trees die!"
"This is not the same thing!" said Shizuha, getting angrier than before. "I do not permanently kill off trees! Once the trees live through winter, they will grow fresh, new leaves again. I'm actually allowing them the opportunity to grow new leaves! And just because my ability is to make trees die doesn't mean I take pleasure in seeing them getting cut down! Their deaths are inevitable and something that must happen every year when the time comes, but cutting down trees is forced, something that doesn't necessarily have to be done! I admit that I'm a pessimistic person who believes that everything will eventually come to an end, but I do not take pleasure in forcing life to come to an end right away!"
"Eh, say whatever you want…" Akemi said with a shrug. "It sounds like that you're against this project, but it's not like convincing me will change anything. The goddess is in charge of this, so you should talk to her instead."
"I wish, but I feel that I don't have the right to take away the expectations that some of the people may have for this project," Shizuha said. "If they're happy, then I'll have to deal with. It's the people's choice on how they want things to turn out."
"Good, then you should just sit back and continue making leaves fall off trees," Akemi said to her. "Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to give out more orders to my workers. I'm a busy person, you know?" With that, Akemi turned to leave, giving out orders to the kappas and fairies while doing so. "Hey! The ones over there need to be cut down, too!"
Shizuha glared at the woman as the latter gave out orders. She did not like her attitude and way of thinking at all.
TO BE CONTINUED
Akemi is my OC, and since Gorou is a minor character who you will likely never see again, you don't have to care much about him. The name "Akemi" means "bright beauty", as I made her a very smart (bright) person. "Machida" means "rice paddy near the town", but I chose that surname because it sort of sounds like "machine", since she is obsessed with technological stuff.
Please take note of this, as I want to let you all know about things to come. This story is the first of a series of character-centric stories that will eventually build up to a MAJOR story. All these character-centric stories will have relations to each other, even if not major. When the time is right, I'll let you all know what that major story is, but for now, I'll just tell you that the next story after this is a Nue-centric story. Because these stories will have connections to each, it would be a good idea to try to remember some of the details in each of the stories, as they may prove useful in the future related stories.
Also, this story takes place about a month after the events of Deep, Dark Dangers.
And one last thing: since I couldn't find a suitable remix on Youtube for the BGM here, you'll have to imagine it in your head. Hope it isn't too hard for you…