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The Raffle, Part 1: It's a Touhou story, so someone's got to have the short end of it
"Hurry up Youmu, we're going to be late!" an urgent voice called from beyond the open screen doors. A petite, silver bob-haired girl dared only break her concentration for a moment as she stole a glance outside in response.
Though the sky was dark and the clouds foreboding as usual, even here in the netherworld the wind of spring swept through energetically. The many gardens of Hakugyokurou were in full bloom, and all the cherry blossom trees save for the largest in the middle of this traditional Japanese mansion were generously sprinkled with delicate pink.
Haah… Must be nice to be a cherry tree… Thought Konpaku Youmu as several petals danced across the open door playfully. You just stand there and let others tend to you… You get admired by everyone too…
Behind her, a large and translucent wisp-like phantom turned to the girl quizzically.
"Although… I can't imagine it to be a very exciting life…" said Youmu to it sheepishly, quickly turning her attention back to her task. The shapeless phantom sweat-dropped.
"Youmu! Are you done?" called the voice again.
"Yes! Almost ready!" Youmu finished packing various traditional foods she had single-handedly cooked into lacquer boxes. Speaking of just standing there and letting others look after you… doesn't that sound like someone I know…? Thought You-
"You aren't thinking anything nasty about me are you, Youmu-chan~?" A shiver went up Youmu's spine as two smooth, tender hands lightly clamped onto Youmu's slender shoulders. Youmu nervously turned round to see an eternally young lady with the airs of an older woman. Curly pink hair fell about her face and onto her shoulders, and she was dressed in a frilly, collared blue kimono. Saigyouji Yuyuko, the ghostly mistress of the netherworld and Youmu's master.
"I-I-I was just thinking how ladylike Yuyuko-sama is at times… Ahaha… ahaha…" Youmu could never bring herself to lie to her master, at least not directly…
"Hmmm~?" pouted Yuyuko, "Would 'ladylike' happen to be a byword for 'do-nothing', I wonder~?" her deep pink eyes smiled mischievously.
"No! I mean… I-I'm very sorry, Yuyuko-sama…" Youmu admitted her guilt.
"Hmm hmm~ How cute of you, Youmu-chan~!" Yuyuko suddenly hugged Youmu from behind, startling the poor girl, "You always have this serious look on you whenever you get critical of me… It's as if you're my wife~!"
"Ah! Be careful Yuyuko-sama! The boxes…!" flailed Youmu as Yuyuko snuggled against her, "Please- Hii! W-Where are you touching!? Ahaha- Y-Yuyuko-sama! Please stop- Ow!"
Crash! Youmu lay on her back on the tatami with her master sprawled over her, several boxes knocked over, their contents spilled and spoilt.
"… Mmm…!" Youmu glared tearfully at Yuyuko over her wasted effort, her steel-green eyes sharp and cold.
"Aha… Ahaha… D-Don't worry Youmu-chan," Yuyuko nervously tried to placate the angry girl, "Yuyuko-chan will help you-"
"Of course you'll help me, right Yuyuko-sama!?" Yuyuko cringed from Youmu's stern scolding, "Haah… Look what you've done …" Youmu sat up, adjusted her black hair ribbon and smoothened out her uniform. It consisted of a green vest and skirt, with a white shirt and frills. Above them, the shapeless phantom fretted over the mess while Yuyuko was busy picking up the food that had dropped on the ground.
"Sorry, Youmu-chan, but I was just so excited about the feast later," Yuyuko said, "A raffle! I wonder why we've never done this before? And what's more, I get to decide the prizes!" she shuddered with anticipation.
Youmu and Yuyuko were about to go to the annual spring feast held (forcibly) at the Hakurei Shrine. This feast was regularly attended (crashed) by several denizens (pests) of Gensokyo, including several important (irritating) youkai such as Yuyuko. Since the affair was such a long (hard-to-get-rid-of) tradition, Hakurei Reimu, the resident shrine maiden, this year suggested (threatened) contributions ("You better make them, got it!?") by the participants to keep things fresh (under budget).
"… We might as well read only the words in parentheses, huh…?"
"What are you talking about, Youmu-chan?"
Yuyuko, in her usual carefree manner, had elected to prepare the prizes for the raffle. There was however one small problem…
"Yuyuko-sama, I've been meaning to ask…" Youmu turned to Yuyuko worriedly, "But… wasn't the budget for this month a little tight? Are the prizes going to be okay? It would be an embarrassment for the Saigyouji household if they were no good…" she added.
"Y-Youmu-chan~!" Yuyuko whipped out her folding fan to hide her uneasiness, "Do you not trust me? I put in my best effort too, you know! The prizes are really creative!"
"Really?" Youmu was touched by her master's efforts, "Then I'll be looking forward to what you've got planned, Yuyuko-sama!" she smiled, "Come on, Yuyuko-sama! We need to get going! Leave the food to me!" with that, Youmu piled several of the boxes into the shapeless phantom before carrying the rest in a stack herself, "It's a long way to the Hakurei Shrine!" And they left with their loads.
Ahaha… Sorry, Youmu-chan… I really, reeally had to get creative with the prizes… Thought Yuyuko sheepishly as she watched Youmu's back. But… A mischievous smile came to her face.
This will be fun… Teehee…
"I can't wait!"
"It's lively as usual, isn't it?" Yuyuko said as she elegantly sipped her sake, a cherry blossom petal garnishing her sake dish, further accentuating the perfect picture of Japanese beauty.
"Yes, it's always been a pleasure every time I come here," her long, blonde-haired companion complimented. She too was an elegant looking lady in an elegant looking white dress, her feet crossed delicately to the side as she and Yuyuko lay upon a mat beneath a rustling cherry blossom tree. Two beautiful, youthful women, making spring shed petals in jealousy-
"Oi, you two hags over there!" came a crossed voice, "You sure talk as if none of this is your problem!"
"A-Ah… If it isn't Hakurei Reimu-san," flinched Yuyuko's companion. The waist-length brown-haired girl before them was unmistakably the shrine maiden of Hakurei, her hands on her hips, white detached sleeves and red miko's dress billowing in the spring breeze, a large red ribbon perched behind her head like a butterfly.
"You shouldn't be so stern all the time, Reimu-san~" continued Yuyuko's companion, "You'll age fast at this rate-"
"And who's fault do you think this is, Yakumo Yukari!?" rebuffed Reimu, "It's because youkai like you show up and feast here at your own leisure that the other youkai think it's okay to come here too!" she waved her hand over the scenery before them. All over the Hakurei Shrine's courtyard, a large number of youkai lounged about, drinking sake. "This is a shrine, a shrine!" emphasised Reimu, "And I'm supposed to be a youkai hunter!"
"It's all in fun though, isn't it, Reimu-chan~?" said Yuyuko airily.
"Plus, we did make contributions this time, didn't we?" added Yukari, "How did you find the premium grade scallop, for instance?"
"Nnnh…! I-It wasn't bad- Wait, that's not the point!" Reimu snapped herself out of it, "I still have to be the one to clean up afterwards! And besides…" she crossed her arms, "I bet your servants did all the preparations for you…"
"Of course," Yukari laid back.
"Oi… Don't you have any shame…?" Reimu questioned.
"Well, if Reimu wins in the raffle, she might just get help with cleaning up after the feast," smiled Yuyuko enigmatically.
"Huh? Oh, that's right… You were in charge of the prizes, weren't you?" asked Reimu, "I-Is there really such a prize?" she probed tentatively.
"Would be amazing if it was something like a robot, ze!"
The three turned to see another girl approach them cheerily – a fashionably messy youth with long, messy blonde hair. Over her carelessly crumpled white shirt was a dark-blue vest, and over her carelessly crumpled dark-blue skirt was a white frilled apron. Her dark-blue witch's hat was ridiculously oversized and lopsided.
"Hi there!" greeted Kirisame Marisa, Gensokyo's 'Ordinary Magician', "Reimu! Caring for the elderly, I see?" she grinned. Yuyuko and Yukari frowned.
"What's a 'robot'?" asked Reimu.
"Ah, that? Well, Sanae over there was just telling me all about it," explained Marisa, pointing out a green haired girl in the distance, "Apparently, it's a machine that does the work for you…"
"A-A machine that does the work for you!?" Reimu turned dreamy, "Ahh~ I would love that~" she drooled.
"Welcome to the first ever Gensokyo Raffle!" Yuyuko announced to general applause from a stage set up before the shrine, "Now that we've all eaten our fill and savoured our sake… it's time for us to have ourselves a little gamble with luck! The prizes, if you will!" she gestured to the side, and on came Youmu and her phantom companion bearing a cloth covered tray and two boxes.
"And that's why Reimu's looking like an idiot right now ze!" Marisa was explaining cheerily to a blonde, short-haired girl in a blue dress next to her.
"I-I'm not really following your story, Marisa…" fellow magician Alice Margatroid responded with difficulty.
"Shut up Marisa!" snapped Reimu from Marisa's left, "The autonomous machine of my dreams is finally here! Robot please, robot please, robot please…!" she prayed as hard as she could while Alice looked on awkwardly.
"Um… I don't think there's actually a robot as a prize, Reimu-san," the long, green-haired girl from before said from behind Alice and Marisa – Kochiya Sanae, a fellow shrine maiden from the Moriya shrine. Like Reimu, she too had white detached sleeves, though her skirt was blue rather than red.
"Never tell me the odds!" Reimu declared.
"What odds…?" Marisa sweat-dropped.
"Well, I already have my dolls doing the cleaning for me," said Alice, "So it doesn't really matter to me…" the 'Seven Coloured Puppeteer' shrugged.
"Now!" Yuyuko up on stage was saying, "As consolation prizes, I have prepared some small gifts," she removed the cloth off the tray Youmu was carrying, revealing ten lovely miniature crystals. The crowd was wowed.
Good, good, they liked that… Yuyuko glanced over to Youmu, who looked back, amazed by her master's resourcefulness. Crystals such as those are pretty common in the Netherworld, so these were essentially free gifts…
"Of course, one should be ambitious and aim for the top three prizes!" urged Yuyuko, and the crowd cheered, "So… get ready your tickets, and let the draw begin! The ten consolation prize winners are…!"
And very quickly, ten people were called to the stage to receive their 'lavish' consolation prizes, not one of them bearing the name of Hakurei.
"Argh! What bad luck! I didn't even win a single damned crystal!" cursed Reimu after all the consolation prize winners had been announced.
"Ahaha… Cheer up, Reimu-san," consoled Sanae, "There's still the top three prizes."
"Say… Aren't those simple quartz?" Alice observed, "I mean they are still lovely but…"
"Yeah… I bet Hakugyokurou's got tons of them just lying about ze…" Marisa followed. The two magicians looked at each other with the same awkward thought. How cheap of Yuyuko…
"Interesting… so that's the true state of the Saigyoji household's finances…" the girls turned around to see a silver, short-haired girl in a short-skirted, navy-coloured French maid outfit join them, "Although I can't say much for the Scarlet Devil Mansion itself… If we were to host the raffle, we'd have to resort to using food for prizes…" sighed the maid.
"I-Is that so…?" asked Sanae, "Things seem to be hard for everyone lately…"
"Yo, Sakuya!" smirked Marisa genially, "No luck with the raffle too?"
"None of you seem to have won anything yourselves," Izayoi Sakuya, Scarlet Devil Mansion's chief maid, returned with a good-natured smirk of her own.
"Don't worry… If I don't win any, I'll just steal them, da ze!" Marisa gave a thumbs-up.
"Don't you dare!" Alice thumbed-down.
"Now we finally come to the top three prize winners!" hyped Yuyuko, and the crowd cheered again.
"Robot please, please, please!" prayed Reimu, her hands clapped together.
"And the third prize goes tooo… Tatara Kogasa-san!" Yuyuko announced.
"What!?" exclaimed Reimu resentfully as a small youkai girl went up on stage to receive her prize, "Why do the prizes always go to every other insignificant charac-"
"Congratulations, Tatara Kogasa-san!" Yuyuko presented her with one of the boxes, "You've won something really fabulous today!" she smiled a little forcefully.
"R-Really!? What a surprise!" the youkai girl said joyfully, "I-I've never won anything before! Can I open it!?"
"Uh, uh, uh!" Yuyuko stopped her with a warm smile, "Surprises are always better when opened at home, right~?"
"Ah! Kogasa understands!" the fooled girl hugged her prize tight and skipped off the stage as the happiest girl in Gensokyo. Yuyuko watched, some amount of conscience welling in her heart, before catching sight of Youmu looking at her with wholehearted admiration. That conscience then turned into guilt.
C-Can't let Youmu know it was just an ordinary wooden rice cooker… Thought Yuyuko uneasily. And since it was for the top three prizes, I had to take Youmu's second favourite one too… She's going to be furious when she finds out…!
"Looks good… Wonder what it is ze…?" pondered Marisa aloud.
"If you steal that girl's happiness, I'll knife you," Sakuya threatened with a smile.
"Why didn't I win that!? She looked so happy!" Sanae and Alice glanced over and were startled by Reimu's earnest crying.
"And now we go on to our second prize! This is a great one!" rallied Yuyuko, "This time it's an imported product from the outside world!" The crowd got even more rowdy. This raffle organised by Yuyuko has been really great so far!
"And our second prize winner is…" began Yuyukio, "Ta-da! Alice Margatroid! Come on up!"
"Eh? Me!?" Alice glanced about her companions in pleasant surprise. Reimu slumped over in despair.
"Eh…? What's this…?" Alice, having returned with her prize, now looked disappointingly at the strange and heavy object on her lap.
"AHAHAHAHA -gasp- HAHAHAHAHA! !" Marisa doubled over, clutching her stomach, "Hey Alice! Make me a bento tomorrow! GAHAHAHAHAHA! !" snorted Alice's supposed best friend.
"S-Shut up, Marisa! What am I supposed to do with this cumbersome thing anyway…?" Alice frowned. It was covered in some sort of hollow, fake ceramic…?
"Wow! An electric cooker! Haven't seen one of these in awhile…" said Sanae, "With that, you don't need to use firewood at all!" explained the girl originally from the Outside World.
"Now all we need is some of this 'electricity'," Sakuya reminded her.
"Ah- Oh… Right… This is Gensokyo… forgot…" Sanae sighed, but then brightened up again, "But no! Wait! The kappa around Youkai Mountain might be able to-"
"Turn it into a flying machine! That'd be awesome!" Marisa's eyes sparkled, "I saw Nitori the other day, and she had this awesome propeller sticking out her backpack-"
"Ahh… Why are the kappa's industriousness so difficult to channel…?" groaned Sanae.
"I guess anything from the Outside is junk here, huh…" dismissed Alice-
A shiver up her spine… Alice turned around and got a rude shock. Reimu was staring intensely at her.
"You… want that?-"
"It's mine, I won it!" Alice immediately denied Reimu the electric cooker, "Sheesh, don't creep me out like that! How desperate are you?"
"OI YUYUKO YOU USELESS GHOST!" Reimu stood up from the crowd and yelled, "WHY HAVEN'T I WON ANYTHING!?" she demanded.
Everyone stared at the shrine maiden awkwardly. Isn't that like… your own lack of luck…?
"Ahaha! It's great to see everyone so fired up!" Yuyuko took it theatrically in stride, "Don't worry, Reimu-san! You, as well as anyone else who has yet to win a prize, still have one chance to win the best prize of them all!" she swept her arm across the stage, "What's more… this prize isn't just for one person! Oh no! It's available for three very lucky people!"
"Hmm? But wait a minute… There's no more prizes left for one, let alone three…" pointed out Alice, "I took the last one."
"Psst…! Yuyuko-sama!" whispered Youmu urgently, "What are you talking about? You're the only thing left on stage!"
Youmu's phantom companion glanced from Yuyuko to Youmu uneasily. Nope… she's not the only one…
"Hehe… That's right! The final prize isn't an object!" Yuyuko announced, "It's a service! A delightfully exquisite service of the highest quality!"
"For one whole day… how would you like… to have Hakugyokurou's very own Konpaku Youmu be your wife!?"
Hello guys, Solblight here! Yep, surprise, surprise, it's a new Touhou fic… And just when I thought I had concluded one already… I feel ready to fizzle out…
In any case, I hope you enjoy it!