It floated in mid air, proudly emanating a multicoloured glow into the night. Occasionally you could see glimpses of places through it; cities, forests, mountains, flickering briefly and uncertainly.
"This is definitely a portal to the human world.". An anemic looking young woman who looked like she'd be just dragged out of bed fixed her glasses, knowingly. Amongst the three witches gathered, stood between this window into another world and a curious looking building, she was by far the most knowledgeable on both magic and science.
"The humans would probably call it wormhole... or something of that sort. A tunnel joining two points in space and time. When the Hakurei clan talk about maintaining the barrier, this is probably the sort of thing they want to avoid. It shouldn't affect the barrier itself, but that might not matter if things start to come through too easily."
A girl with long messy blonde hair, and a very traditional witch outfit spoke up. "But don't things drift in here all the time? Surely it's not a big deal!"
The pale girl was a little unimpressed at this apparent easy-going comment and got the feeling she was trying to rile her up, but let it pass.
"Normally things turn up here sporadically and most humans on the other side aren't really aware of this place's existence. Usually, you have to seek it out, and we've been lucky so far nobody terribly dangerous has turned up."
The witch speaking herself had not been in Gensokyo all that long. Gensokyo itself was a refuge for Youkai; spirits, demons, paranormal humanoids of all sorts and sizes, sealed away in a bubble of reality protected a special border. She had come here with a friend, a vampire, who aside from causing a spot of bother herself had rather ironically a rather dangerous individual in the sort and size of a young sister. Nobody seemed to want to bring her up, however.
There were other places, generally hidden away from human eyes, where such individuals also set themselves up, but many of them did eventually gravitate towards Gensokyo. A lot of Youkai had lived enough to see the pointlessness of human violence and wars, so despite many of them being quite powerful, they generally don't bother to interfere. This new window into the human world posed a problem as it made getting in and out of Gensokyo significantly easier than before, and nobody could tell for sure how the barrier would react.
A third, more brightly clad witch with short wavy hair, looked quite uncertain about the whole thing. Around her; animated dolls interacted with one another, almost as if they were alive, but not quite. It was quite unsettling.
"So what are we going to do with it?"
The portal seemed to ripple as if inviting her to come to a quick conclusion to that answer.
"Well – let me explain to you exactly what I've found out about this. This portal in of itself isn't just a traditional "Worm Hole". It seems to be conscious in of itself. I've read about such portals appearing – they're in a sense a manifestation of the collective unconscious of Gensokyo, representing a desire to reach out to others. In a sense, being sealed off, there are times when Gensokyo gets lonely."
The short haired witch, often known as a loner herself, had a little trouble with this fact.
"That sounds ridiculous, how can a place get lonely? And don't we get a regular enough influx of people such as yourself, regardless?"
"Another way of looking at it might be that it's hard to seal off a place where such a large amount of spiritual power is condensed. With all the fairies, gods, magicians, youkai and enhanced humans here, it has a hard time adjusting. More than likely it can take many times more than what it currently has, it just needs time to adjust. This has probably appeared because of the events of recent years. But in essence, accepting in new people is what reminds it there's so much more on the outside too. The portal is begging to be used."
"That sounds rather confusing and contradicting."
"It kind of is, since I'm not sure exactly what's caused it yet, but I think the contradictory nature could be part of what's causing it. Either way, it's a hole in our little reality here, a spot where things have gone strange."
The witch in the pointy hat spoke up again.
"So what are we going to with it?" the other two could see she was already trying to figure out a way to take it and add it to her "collection". She had a habit of doing that – it's not that she was consciously malicious or had low regard for the property of others or various "natural" resources, she was, in her own words, a "Collectionmaniac".
"As I said, the portal is conscious. Just as it wants to reach out into the human world, it wants someone from here to hold it's hand. In other words, one of us, or someone here in Gensokyo, needs to bond with the portal. In essence, you'll gain a power similar to that of Yukari's."
Yukari, the Youkai who was involved in the creation of the border, had gone on a week long expedition to the human world, so was conveniently, nowhere to be found. She would regularly disappear in this manner.
"I better tell Reimu about this..." said the pointy hatted witch. "It's her job, especially when Yukari isn't here, to clean this up!" this girl smiled habitually when making such statements, giving off a hazy atmosphere of positivity.
The colourful witch wasn't so pleased with that. "No, not her. She is just a Miko – we are the experts on magic, the ways of reality here, and if it's to be fixed or used, we should decide it amongst ourselves, rather than let someone so uneducated do so."
"There are a lot of books I would like to get my hands on, and it's inconvenient for me when Yukari disappears like this too. I'd like to be able to get and maintain a computer from the human world to help with filing my collection, and Rinnosuke won't sell me his, even though he doesn't know how to use it." It was true; he didn't know how to use it.
"There are some spell components that are hard to find in Gensokyo, and also I could make a lot of money selling my dolls or using them to entertain children, as annoying as they can be. In the human world, such things are no longer as common so no doubt would be seen as a novelty."
The colourful witch had grown a lot in this regard; having previously shown a greater disdain for anyone that wasn't one of her dolls, and thusly rarely letting any of them go.
"Well, I guess there's a bunch of stuff I could get too! I suppose if it's only one of us, it's not a big deal right? And whichever one of us gets it, we can help each other and everyone else out from time to time, as long as we don't go crazy with it maybe it'll be okay?"
"I think the Portal wants us to prove ourselves worthy of it; moreso than that. We'll leave it at here for tonight, and I'll-
Suddenly, the door from a nearby house was thrown open, and a rather impatient looking man came out.
"What? What are you girls doing outside my shop at this hour... what's going on? What's that thing? Has spring stopped working again or something?"
The pointy hatted witch beamed and was about to speak, but the other two grabbed her and ran into the night.
Rinnosuke grumbled, fixed his glasses, and went back inside.
Patchouli was back at the Scarlet Devil Mansion, a large western-style mansion by the lake. Around her were gathered the other prominent figures in the Mansion; the maid, Sakuya Izayoi, the lady of the house, Remilia Scarlet, and the Chinese girl, Hong Meiling. Patchouli was preparing some kind of ritual, while explaining the portal she had found.
"... and that's what it does." Patchouli closed her book, looking like an accomplished professor.
Remilia was wearing her characteristic grin, hand on chin, as if scheming something.
"This is pretty interesting. Not boring at all. I really want to see what comes of this. I wonder what the shrine maiden girl is going to do." Remilia and Reimu were in fact on pretty good terms, but she still enjoyed seeing how she would react to certain situations as if it were some kind of small personal vengeance for being put in her place. Of course, she recognised she was in the wrong and being rather careless, but her inherent childishness over-rided that.
"The portal wants us to decide based on some kind of show of strength or cunning. It led me to find something pretty interesting."
She handed a book to Sakuya.
"What's this? It looks like a general book on myths and legends. Kind of redundant in Gensokyo, don't you think?"
"Ah, yes." Patchouli started to smile. "It's more specifically about the concepts behind myths and legends. More specifically, the myths and legends of another world."
"But everything in here looks perfectly familiar..."
"You're familiar with the idea of parralel universes? Alternate realities Being a master of time, such things must have crossed your thought in the first place. Gensokyo is sealed away in it's own little bubble, sometimes it almost forgets exactly what reality it was sealed off from. Because of that, on occasion, you get these rare, special items turning up. These turned up in a chest amongst some curious items – I guess someone wanted it forgotten about."
Meiling had already fallen asleep in the corner.
Patchouli handed Sakuya another book. "Of course, on it's own it's not very significant. But it helps give some background to this -"
"Heroic Spirits in the Holy Grail Wars" Sakuya took a flick through it. There was a version of the Greek "Hercules" that was an enormous giant, and an Irish legend she had heard of with a large hideous weapon she couldn't help but admire.
"Yes. It seems in this particular reality, they decided things by summoning heroes from history, that were stored by the Holy Grail they were fighting for, which could grant a wish. Because it's little warehouse was separated from normal space and time, you could think of it as yet another reality in of itself. One thing I didn't tell the others is that the portal isn't just pointing to "the human world", it's pointing to several human worlds. If I use these books that originate from there, I think I should be able to summon heroic spirits through the portal, without needing to bond with it. It suggested the idea to me in the first place, after all."
Remilia suddenly became more serious and sceptial. "I don't think such anomalies normally speak to people. Being told what to do by something like that seems very suspicious indeed. How do you know it's not controlling you? " Vampires of course, knew quite a bit about dominating the minds of other creatures. Even better, Remilia had the special power to manipulate the fates of others.
"Actually, I thought of that too, and apparently I'm fine. I managed to find that Satori, I made a deal with her and she promised not to tell anyone. I'm very prepared for this. Something like this is just so fascinating for someone like me. With magic, especially for us witches, you're always subtly rearranging bits of reality, and this is a rip right into it. Studying this could lead to all kinds of important discoveries about the nature of Gensokyo, magic, and reality itself."
"There is also the possibility the portal could be lying, without dipping into your mind." Remilia swirled her finger around the wine glass she had been holding, trying to hold authoritative.
"It could be. It's possible that the portal is a manifestation of the Holy Grail itself. Apparently there was some kind of attempt to destroy or dismantle it at the end of the last war, so it seems reasonable that parts of it might have slipped through the cracks."
Patchouli continued; "Either way, we're not going to know until we try. We have heard enough complaints about the Youkai being stagnant, so now we can prove them wrong."
Remilia's curiosity got the better of her, so she agreed.
"Now, if you don't mind, I will complete the ritual. I've sent some servants to the others with instructions on how to do the same."
" Ye first, O silver, O iron
O stone of the foundation, O Archduke of the Contract
Hear me in the name of our great teacher, the Archmagus Schweinorg
Let the descending winds be as a wall
Let the gates in all directions be shut, rising above the crown, and let the three-forked roads to the Kingdom revolve.
Shut. Shut. Shut. Shut. Shut.
Five perfections for each repetition.
And now, let the filled sigils be annihilated in my stead!
Let thy body rest under my dominion, let my fate rest in thy blade.
If thou submittest to the call of the Holy Grail and if thou wilt obey this mind, this reason, then thou shalt respond.
I make my oath here.
I am that person who is to become the virtue of all Heavens.
I am that person who is covered with the evil of all Hades.
Thou seven heavens, clad in a trinity of words,
come past thy restraining rings, and be thou the hands that protect the balance-!
Yet, thou serves with thine eyes clouded in chaos.
Thou, bound in the cage of madness
I am she who command those chains."
There was light, and noise, and chaos.
And then she appeared.
Miles away, the portal erupted in a vortex of lightning.
Alice Margatroid looked on as she sat atop the Nameless Hill. She was hesitant at first – how had things escalated to this all of a sudden? Of course, this was Gensokyo, and another couple of legendary heroes wouldn't make that much difference. Only three, one for each magic user, would appear. It was fun between friends, wasn't it? This is what friends are meant to do? Not being used to the concept, Alice was unsure.
She completed the ritual, which the hill's own resident doll, Medicine Melancholy, got roped into helping her with. And then he appeared.
Marisa Kirisame was in the forest of magic, gathering mushrooms. Unlike some Youkai and mystical humans, witches often required spell components for various things, and wandering around collecting things in the early morning suited her for the time being anyway. She finished up and prepared for the ritual.
Marisa was excited. She was prone to the same childish curiosity as Remilia, but was also worried about what Reimu would think. Of course, she had told Reimu about it anyway, since they were good friends. Reimu had poked and prodded at the portal for a bit, but didn't quite know what to make of it. Reimu didn't tend to care much for the specifics of magic so decided to stay out of this until Yukari returned.
Marisa hoped she might summon some kind of knight in shining armour, and use him to make Alice jealous of her.
With that thought in mind, she completed the ritual.
And then she appeared.
Rinnosuke had managed to get back to sleep, thankfully, without interruption. However, he had not been able to accomplish his goal of sleeping in until noon, as his shop started softly rumbling. This was not uncommon – storing so many strange artifacts, inevitably some of them would turn out to be some legendary weapon or magical tome that reacted to the regular fantastical happenings outside.
He got up, put on his slippers, and marched into the back to see what it might be. He was rewarded for his efforts by receiving a blast of energy to the chest, flinging him backwards into a pile of old towels he had lying around.
Eventually he got up, remembered what he had seen earlier, and decided to check outside. This time, he got a good look at the portal. And knew exactly what it is.
And the portal looked back at him. He could almost feel a sinister grin from the other side.
And then he appeared.
A woman in a long white gown, with long, golden hair was crouched in the middle of the room, growling. Her eyes became visible; they were black with red.
Claws extended from her hands.
Her eyes darted around the room, and fixated on Remilia.
"You too... crave blood?"
Remilia smiled. "Oh she's a vampire? What kind of legendary hero is a vampire? I suppose she's exclusive to her world, as I have not heard of any, and I would know. I think I like this world of dueling magicians now."
"You have... human blood? Need genetic material from humans to stabalise."...
Sakuya, as the only human in the room(Though Patchouli wasn't far off) began to look nervous.
"Interesting, so that's why you need it? We usually keep some blood, yes. And remains of recently deceased humans should we require those for food. Don't worry, they were dead just before we got them, we have some morals around here after all, if you're of that sort.", her expression would have filled Reimu with confidence.
A half an hour later, and the vampire had calmed down. Her change in personality was quite striking.
"Ah thank you! Since I was summoned as a Berserker class it was hard to get a hold of myself! I naturally crave blood you see and it takes more than half my power to control it. Since I was meant to be berserk, it was like the switch was in the "on" position do you see? Once I fulfilled that initial craving for blood, I could get a hold of myself!"
"A Berserker...? Oh dear..." Patchouli looked rather worrisome, and was reviewing the ritual book like it was a receipt and she wasn't quite sure she paid the right amount. The cheery vampire plucked it out of Patchouli's hands.
"Yes, see these lines here - 'Yet, thou serves with thine eyes clouded in chaos. Thou, bound in the cage of madness. I am she who command those chains.'
If you had left those out, I may have been summoned as a Saber, or maybe an Assassin, or you may have gotten a different servant completely."
"Hah! What's this, Patchouli, you messed up the summoning after all?" Remilia's face was fixated in a childish grimace.
"The book had some pages missing, it didn't explain what the extra lines were for. It's a personal journal of notes rather than a printed medium, too, so it's not really laid in a fashion that's logical to most people. I thought I better include those lines just in case..."
"Well, you're just lucky I'm a natural berserker anyway, and know how to control it."
"It's interesting that the servants are actually aware of their role in this manner... would you happen to know the nature of the dimensional gate you were summoned through? Is it related to the Holy Grail?"
"Sorry, I don't really know... in the real world, I'm actually sleeping, and it seems I was made available as a heroic spirit during that time as there was no guarantee I'd wake up, it was almost like being dead. I've known some mages so I have heard about the Holy Grail War before. I think when you're summoned, you just wake up with some basic knowledge about what you have to do, to same time and bother."
The vampire said all this almost as if it didn't concern her, but she enjoyed explaining it anyway. She had a certain cheerful aloofness to her that made her fit right in with many of the Youkai and stranger humans of Gensokyo. Patchouli stared at her hand, and noted the arcane symbols that had appeared there – Command Spells she could use to issue 3 commands the servant could not disobey. She kept this in mind, as this servant was suspicious.
"Well, this isn't quite a Holy Grail war, but something a bit like the Holy Grail wants to borrow it's heroic spirits to settle the matter of who gets to use it. There should be at least two other magicians."
The vampire's expression took on a more serious composure.
"I'm sure you know this already, but in the Holy Grail Wars there are several different classes of servant; Saber; usually a meleé based class and the strongest in terms of outright fighting power, Caster; a powerful magus in of themselves, Rider; a versatile class who's noble phantasm is some kind of beast or vehicle, Archer; who specialises in ranged attacks of varying sorts, Lancer; who is agile and specialises in longer range meleé attacks, and finally Assassin; who is by rule always meant to be one of the 19 Hassan i Sabbah, leaders of the legendary Hashshashins, but that rule has been fiddled with."
"What's a 'Noble Phantasm'"? Asked Remilia.
"Ah, it's some kind of weapon or symbolic thing associated with that Heroic spirit. For a Rider, it's usually some kind of vehicle or mythical beast. Some of them are more conceptual, like mine. Usually when a hero uses it, you can figure out their identity. I think I saw your maid reading up intently on them."
"Where is Sakuya anyhow?"
Soon after she finished this sentence, one of the other maids came running in.
"It's terrible! Meiling was attacked was some strange man with a large rod! And she was even awake and everything!"
Remilia and Patchouli quickly made their way outside the house. Sakuya was nowhere to be found. They arrived outside, to find Meiling relatively unharmed, but with her hands tied to her legs.
"They got me by surprise I'm afraid..."
A man in blue, with a long red lance, stood there expectantly.
"Vampires are weakest in the Sunlight right? My master said the vampire who lives here would probably get involved in her friend's fight to tease off her boredom."
Remilia had been carrying a parasol which made the sunlight a little easier to bear.
The Berserker soon came following, only to find herself stepping on a large magical circle which had revealed itself in the courtyard.
Berserker instantly eyes the Lancer, and dashed forward. Her movements were quick and fierce even without using her full power. Lancer hopped backwards. She slashed a claw across Lancer's lower arm, almost causing him to drop his weapon. Lancer caught it, twirled around and rammed the butt into Berserker's stomach. He hopped backwards again, drawing Berserker towards him.
"Now!" he screamed.
Something around her lit up, particles swirled around her, and Berserker found herself trapped in a binding circle. Such a thing should not have proved to be an issue; but she was still trying to gain control of her impulses at that instant, and the morning sunlight coupled with Lancer's blow weakened her concentration overall.
"Haha!" the smug man in blue spoke again. "This was a bit too easy. Now I just have to knock out these two right? Then I won't even have to fight the servant."
Behind him, out from the bushes, rose the Seven Coloured Puppeteer, Alice Margatroid.
"Alice!" Patchouli whelped in annoyance.
"This is a fun game, I must say! I have always wanted to create a living doll... having a servant I can command is just the next best thing."
Alice proudly held up her wrist, showing the command spells on the back of her hand.
"What are you going to do now, Scarlet Devil Mansion? I await your move... and I assure you there is no bitterness between us."
Remilia had a sneaking suspicion Alice had been using her dolls to spy on their conversation. Striking so early might have been a bad idea – but vampires are weak in the sunlight, and today it was a particularly bright spring's day.
Vampires were still one of the strongest Youkai around. Even with this Sunlight, she should be able to cause a lot of hassle for their uninvited guests, enough until Berserker built up her rage and broke the circle; which she could see was already starting to happen. Alice, as usual wouldn't be able to do much while maintaining control over something else. Remilia just hoped she wouldn't be on the receiving end of Berserker when she got out...
Marisa was excited.
"So you're the strongest servant?"
"... I mean I could have been summoned as a Saber class. But, I am Rider. I am still, however, a very powerful and versatile servant."
"Oh Cool! I'm a Rider too." Marisa waddled her Broomstick around. "When my great deeds are spread across the land, I guess I'll be summoned as a Rider too, so I better take notes for you."
Rider sighed, but she couldn't help but admire this girl's enthusiasm. Apparently, perhaps annoyingly, she was somewhat of a local hero, with her and her shrine maiden and maid friends having resolved a lot of incidents that you'd expect to find in an area where myths and legends are so easily interchangeable with reality.
"Rider classes tend to be versatile and agile without having to use our noble phantasm, but when we do, we have a great level of control over it and can be immensely powerful."
"So do you think you can beat the other servants?"
"That is a rather redundant question. Yes, I can. However it's also possible they could beat me."
"Ah sorry. Just want to get a picture of your psychology, you know?" Marisa's cheerful smile refused to let up.
Rider was starting to get a feel for what would please this girl; the link between servant and master often created such a synergy to help the servant better adapt in the world in which they are summoned.
"You can put me down as the 'Warrior Queen' archetype if it makes you feel better."
Apparently, Rinnosuke had triggered something. Out of this portal had emerged a small young man clad in traditional Japanese armour and welding a short but vicious looking sword. Were the girls playing another horrible joke on him again? He was unsure, but he was absolutely sure he knew what this portal really was. He tended not to be wrong about these things.
"I believe you are my my master." the boy said, his round face beaming."Let's work together! I am Saber, the strongest servant."
"Ah, it seems you didn't summon me using the normal ritual. The rules are a bit different here, you see. Really only one or two people needed to do it I think, and then servants would find appropriate masters. I don't think there will be all 7 of us though."
Rinnosuke now realised the young boy had, of all things, a Pheasant peaking over his shoulder. The pheasant spread his wings once, retracted them them, and climbed on top of the boys head.
"Hahaha!" the boy seemed somehow over joyous at this fact, "So, what kind of magician has summoned me?"
"I'm not a magician."
"I own a store that sells rare items and various things from the human world. The only 'magic trick' I can do is to identify what an item is and what it does. However, it does not work as well for knowing how to use it, so you'll excuse me if there's something I'm missing here."
"Hmm, you sound like a magician to me, just you've never really developed past that gimmick! It's not really my thing though, you'd need to ask a servant like Caster! Hahaha!"
"This portal... somehow I know what it is. Normally I look at an artifact, and it comes to me what it is, it's personal history somehow interacts with my mind. This thing screams out what it is to me."
"And what it it?"
"It's a tear in the reality of Gensokyo. Apparently these things happen now and again due to general instability caused by the separation of such a large amount of spiritual energy from the real world; every now and again it tried to reach out to the human world. The Hakurei clan, or the Youkai Yukari Yakumo normally close these up when they occur. However, a fragment of what was used to summon you... the Holy Grail, has become stuck in it so they're taking their time figuring out what to do."
Rinnosuke really didn't have time for all this. Today was when he was meant to sort out the items he wanted to keep versus the ones he wanted to sell(usually not as many). But, it seemed like an interesting distraction, and no doubt one of the girls would be along soon to clean it up anyway. Ordering around some legendary hero for the day could be fun; finally someone who HAD to listen to his ranting.
"Use your command spell" Berserker strained to say from within the binding circle. "It doesn't just order to me to do things that are normally possible, but some things that are normally possible as well... like... teleporting... or attacking harder than I ought to be able..."
"Not going to let that happen!" Alice gestured to two of her dolls who promptly grabbed Patchouli by the arms.
"Impressed? I can keep the circle going and control these dolls... it's difficult."
"You idiot," smirked Remilia, "I know there's no way you're that strong, you're a floating target now!"
Alice had rather forgotten about Remilia in her enthusiasm, but it wasn't a big deal. Remilia dashed forward, and threw her lance towards towards Alice. Lancer dashed across her field of vision in an instant, and her lance fell to the ground. Remilia's wings sprouted from her back, and she flew forward to catch it. Lancer jumped in the air, and lunged down with his staff, stabbing Remilia in the leg.
"Lancer!" said Alice, "This is perhaps going a little too far, they are still friends you know?"
"Understood." said Lancer, and withdrew his lance, causing Remilia significant pain. Being a vampire of course, such a wound could be dealt with as long as it was clear.
While Remilia led on the ground trying to heal, things were looking grim for Berserker and her master. It looks like it was game over, she was out of the running. Patchouli couldn't accept that. She would be by far the best person to be in possession of such an anomaly. What would Alice do with it except use it to frighten children by having dolls pop out of it? It was too much.
Remilia wasn't particularly happy either. Where was Sakuya? Had Alice somehow done away with her beforehand? Impossible... if only she was here... her servant, and her friend... some forgotten memory about her past was pulled up from the depths of her long memory... a human has abandoned her once more.
Remilia's hand started to burn. Smoke came from the back of her left palm and she screamed out in pain. When it was lifted; there lay, just as on the others, three command spells.
Though Remilia was not quite a Magician like the others; it was possible for certain others; especially those with special abilities and reserves of magical or spiritual energy to do so. All Youkai had some such ability, but only witches and wizards were actively able to work with it in a complicated and varied fashion, like Maguses intended to master these servants. She however had the power to manipulate the fate, usually that of others. Normally a subtle power that works over time, the desperate feeling of being abandoned gave her the strength to do one thing – to manipulate her own fate so she would become a master.
Suddenly, time stopped. Quite literally, for anything more than a few feet away.
"Servant Archer, reporting for duty." along with these warm words came the cold steel as a flurry of knives pinned Lancer into a nearby wall. The normal flow of time had resumed.
"Sorry I am late, Mistress. I couldn't help but briefly investigate the nearby portal, being the sort that has control over space and time. Unfortunately it seemed it wasn't pleased with that ability, and swallowed me whole..."
Sakuya drew from behind her back, a large bow. An item Remilia had not seen in some time. This was a vampire hunter's bow. A ranged striker like Sakuya wouldn't want to get close to a vampire if they could avoid it – especially one that specialises in Meleé like Remilia. Originally, the bow had shot stakes – a thrown stake just didn't have the same impact as a thrown knife.
"Caught off guard. But it won't happen again. I'm pretty good at deflecting attacks, you know? And I've seen tricks like that one before."
"Or so you say. But just how many attacks can you reflect? Let me introduce you to how we do things here in Gensokyo... we call this "Danmaku"..."
Sakuya raised her bow, and charged it with a condensed ball of light. She released it. The Sky exploded in bolts of energy as dozens of daggers swirled between them.
Lancer grappled his lance excitedly and in a display of impressive dexterity, used to to dislodge the knives in his increasingly torn outfit. This was going to be a challenging fight!
Lancer's agility was his ally here, he dashed between the bullets furiously, closing in on his target. The advantage a hero from Gensokyo had here was the obvious ability to levitate several meters of the ground, and dash around while doing so. But for Lancer, with his speed, agility accurate ranged attacks this proved less of a problem. Archer was clearly going to have the advantage, but Lancer had more than enough tricks up his sleeve.
The bullets got thicker as he closed in on Archer, chasing her around the Mansion's gardens. He deflected most of them with his lance, but took some hits on the way. These bullets normally packed more relative punch, with the residents of Gensokyo focusing more on offense than defense, but Lancer's constitution allowed him to keep going. Lancer was pushing towards Archer furiously, who was impressed at his ability to keep up. Lancer was trying to take advantage of this and back her into a wall. Sakuya's focus on what was in front of her, while moving backwards, proved to be a burden as Lancer succeeded in pinning her up against one of the mansion's enormous walls.
"This is it..." Lancer had already forgotten his masters commands. While Lancer could be a noble spirit, he didn't understand the situation and assumed this was a serious war with lives at stake. He was readying an attack that was a certain kill. It had taken him this long to ready and focus it."
Sakuya's eyes went wide.
This was it. Gae Bolg was the lance of Cú Chulainn of Irish legend. It was a popular legend, and Sakuya knew all too well what was coming having fixated on his cursed lance in the book she was handed. One of Sakuya's rather Macabre hobbies had been studying famous serial killers, and enjoyed the myths and legends surrounding Jack the Ripper. However the nature of this cursed Lance was easily on a par with their brutality – the Lance, when thrown, altered causality so that it would always hit it's target. In other words, when it was thrown, it had reality around it always make the assumption that it would hit it's target, and work backwards from that. As long as there was any possible path for it to hit; it would always assume that path. The "How" no longer mattered. To someone who could manipulate space and time; it was a truly admirable weapon. What's more, it's truly brutal nature lied in the fact that nobody could heal a wound from it by any normal means.
But she couldn't help but think this had all gone a bit far.
The Lance was thrown. It came within inches of Sakuya's breast before she regained her composure; a ringing noise went off in her head, and she stopped time around her. She was alive. But for how long? As long as time was stopped, it could not hit here. But as long as the weapon had time to move, it would eventually find a way to do so. She could try to put an impossible maze of objects between her and the lance, or a solid room, but she got the feeling it would just warp through if it had to. It had already been determined that it would hit – there was no escaping this.
She knew that if this Lance hits, she was finished. Alice would never be able to live down what happened and lock herself in her house forcer. Remilia would kick up a fuss and try to bring her back as a vampire. While this was a minor safety net, if it worked, she wanted to continue living as long as possible as a human.
How could she escape? Her ability had limited range. If she could reach out of the limited range of the attack before it was thrown, she could survive, but even if she could have done that, she was backed up against a wall.
Then she remembered, still recovering the state of shock; that she still had the book on Noble Phantasms on her. After seeing some in the book on Heroic spirits, she took an interest in these legendary weapons. The Noble Phantasm, Gae Bolg, like many Noble Phantasm, was based off an original model. Gae Bolg's original model was Gungnir – a spear which Remilia Scarlet herself wielded as her weapon. And Remilia scarlet had the ability to alter fate.
The only way to stop Gae Bolg from hitting was to use a weapon or ability that could alter fate. While Remilia had burnt out much of her own power on becoming a master – her weapon was barely used. Combining her ability with the lance would create an Anti-Gae Bolg; if the two collide they would cancel each other out.
The first thing Sakuya needed to do, was to make it night. Curiously, she had once been accused of creating an endless night, but pointed out she manipulated time, not the night. By that she meant she couldn't extend the concept of "Night" into what is "day", merely alter the flow of time. Time was currently stopped around her, if she accelerated time around her, for her, it would become night. The Lance would be stuck there, waiting, unable to strike as she herself was creating a barrier to causality.
And so she did. Gae Bolg floated there, pointing towards her heart, like a menacing and patient bird of prey. She saw Alice get bored and try to leave, but she was stuck there as long as Lancer was there. Lancer, of course, didn't explain the brutal nature of his attack after realising his mistake, or at least nobody reacted in such a manner so that he did. Remilia and Patchouli had gone back inside. No longer having to focus on anything else, Alice seemed to be able to maintain the bind on Berserker, who had apparently fallen unconscious anyway.
Sakuya was putting a lot of strain on herself, as she could feel Gae Bolg scraping up against her little bubble. But she had to keep pushing herself. Luckily, the wall she was pushed up against was near the library, where space was already abnormally warped. She had to hope Remilia was in there, or things could get messy.
Time started to speed up again as she splurged down into the Library. Surely enough, Remilia and Patchouli were stuck there, figuring out what to do. This was no doubt like a game of chess to them that was paused and to be resumed once the best course of action was determined.
Remilia explained her plan on a note and allowed it to leave the bubble. As she did so, she allowed time to pass, allowing the Lance to crash through a nearby window.
She was losing control of time, and it was speeding towards normal time.
Luckily, she heard a reassuring word below.
The lance was thrown, easily knocking Gae Bolg out of the air. There was a very loud stuttering clap of thunder causing Patchouli to whelp and cover her ears, as causality itself exploded in a tiny spot, dismantling Sakuya's little bubble of time.
Lancer burst through the window beckoned his Lance to withdraw, and jumped back out.
Remilia wore a proud grin on her face. "Good work, Sakuya." Remilia showed her hand, where one command spell was missing.
"Wait, what did you use the command spell for?"
"To get you to stop time of course." "If you were always that good at using your ability to stop attacks, you would be near impossible to beat in a fight. I commanded you to slow time much faster than normal. If that makes any sense. Didn't you hear a ringing noise go off in your head?"
"Ah, yes I did. Pardon me, mistress for taking up so much of your day."
"Not a big deal, we found out lots of cool things about heroic spirits and legends and stuff. A lot of things seem to work the same way in Gensokyo as they do in their world. I just feel bad for that poor Vampire girl." Remilia felt sympathy for one of her own kind.
"I was going to use a command spell to break her free, but she would have gone berserk, even more so than she was intended to. So I had to use one to render her unconscious, hopefully resetting her back to her earlier state. The same command spell was worded in such a way to have an after effect that makes it easier for her to regain composure. Normally instantaneous commands work much better – long term commands reduce their effectiveness and power while disobeying you. Since I made it apply to her own internal dictation and not mine, it worked much better." Patchouli was clearly proud of having figured this out, having apparently forgotten her earlier suspicion of the woman.
With Alice gone, the circle had worn off and they picked up the rather embarrassed Vampire.
"That damn dolly girl. I try not to be too prideful, but I'll be damned if I let her pull a fast one on Arceuid Brunestud..."
Meanwhile, during that day, Rinnosuke had been busy wandering around with his servant, telling him horrible jokes and ranting about the mischievous girls that kept invading her store.
"... and once Reimu just appeared there, drinking tea as normal, when half of my new stock of jewellery had been burgled! Madness! And it took her half an hour to get out and find who did it. It turns out some young Oni had done it try on dump gifts on the Oni that lives with Reimu in the first place! All she had to do was go back to her shrine, but she would rather drink tea in my shop. The nerve..."
"But you actually like them don't you? Your life wouldn't be the same without them. It's like my dog; sometimes he is smelly and chases rabbits, and I will shout at him. But we are still friends and I will never forget how we have fought together."
"Err, yes, I suppose", said Rinnosuke, not perfectly sure what to make of it. Since Rinnosuke could identify artifacts very easily, he had little trouble reasoning that this was the legendary Japanese hero, Momotaro, who arrived to the earth in a giant peach, and had a history of dealing with Oni. A Lunarian in origin maybe? He had hear some interesting stories about that. Once, Yukari and some others had tried to invade the moon as they were developing a society based on a mix of magic and technology. He tried to remember if such a thing featured in those tales. Perhaps he could ask Yukari when she returned.
At around this time, in the opposite direction, Marisa was out walking with her servant, Rider. As it happened, Rinnosuke and Marisa were old friends and often took the same path through the Forest of Magic.
This made for a rather awkward encounter.
"Hey, what's with this? Why does Kourin get a servant too? That's crap, he's not even a magician." Marisa turned to Rider and bellowed in her ear.
"Hey now. I know plenty about magic, I made you that little implement you use. Witches don't normally do such big explodey magic you know, you're very lucky to have that." Rinnosuke feeling confident in his new role as master felt the need to get a little cocky.
"Well, since you're a master now too, I guess we have to fight?" Marisa asked with a plain face.
"Err, yes, I suppose we do..." Rinnosuke adjusted his glasses, and got a look at the tall and rather plump woman beside Marisa. She commanded a very powerful presence.
"Yes, is there something I can help you with." she said.
"Err, nothing, I was jut trying to figure out what servant you might be..."
"I mean which heroic spirit -"
"Tell you what, if you can defeat me, I'll tell you. But be warned, I have cut down thousands of men in my time and commanded men to cut down many thousands more."
The masters could tell it had pretty much already begun.
"I must say that in my time, I have felled many an Oni, but I have never had the courtesy of fighting with such a proud and beautiful woman." Momotaro wore the same constant smiling round face, almost like a twisted reflection of Marisa's. It was hard to tell exactly what was sarcastic and what wasn't, the mischievous ways of the Oni he had fought may have rubbed off on him.
Rider took these words as patronising, and instantly lunged forward with her sword and shield. Despite her apparent size; she was surprisingly agile. Her commanding presence no doubt made her come across as more sizable than she actually was, and she was well trained and flexible. She chopped at Saber's legs, but he jumped up and dodged. He then, possessing heightened agility himself, ran up a tree and jumped on Rider's helmet.
Rider was caught of balance, but quickly caught her footing and rammed her helmet into a tree, her long russet hair flowing behind her. Saber jumped off her head in time and flanked her behind against the tree. In one quick motion, she threw away her shield, grabbed her sword's hilt with both hands and brought it down on top of Momotaro's head, cleaving him in half.
Marisa was lost for words. She thought this would be just like their Danmaku fights, nothing too serious, nobody gets too hurt(most of the time).
Clearly, in front of her, a young boy led cut in half.
"Don't be so shocked;" Rider approached her, "Take a closer look."
When she did, reluctantly, she noticed that the inside of the boy has the consistency of a fruit... of a peach.
"I see you noticed it too." Rinnosuke said from behind the glare on his glasses.
"Yes; it was nothing but a construct. That is not the true Heroic Spirit, I can tell, but an aspect thereof. Going by what I know, it's possible this spirit could also have doubled as a caster."
"Hmm, that's not quite it."
The pheasant that had been following the boy let out an uncharacteristic screech towards the heavens. A door opened in the sky; and out of it dropped an enormous Peach. It fell right on top of the cleaved Momotaro, absorbing his remains into itself.
"Momotaro came to earth in a giant peach. In the Lunarian capital's palace, on the dark side of the moon, they grow special peaches in the palace. One time, a peach grew into a person. After the invasion on the moon, they made experiments on growing artificial soldiers, that were short live. I had heard they were "growing" them from Yukari's many tales, but I had no idea they literally grew them as fruit."
The peach opened up, revealing a repaired Momotaro. "It's as you say. I was in fact once the pet of the Watatsukis, princesses of the moon. After they shut down the experiments, they took me in as they had a fondness for peaches. However after the war, there were places on the moon where boundary between it and the earth was week, and I fell into one..."
"Many tales of Momotaro are probably more accurate to those of other universes. This Momotaro, in fact, belongs in our universe, and to the Lunarian capital. Momotaro IS the peach, and can use it to keep spawning instances of himself, as well as his armour and weapons. This is his Noble Phantasm; " Rinnosuke could feel the information pouring into his head, without having time to process what he was saying.
Marisa was having trouble taking all this in, and was getting worried by the serious look on Rinnosuke's face, but said nothing.
Marisa panicked and tried to interact with the scene in front of her. Momotaro gestured to the peach, and his pets; the Pheasant, the Monkey and the Dog appeared from behind it, and leapt towards her.
"You have cut down over a thousand men, or so you say... but tell me, Warrior Queen, can you cut down a thousand of the same man?"
Arcueid drank a little more blood to calm her down. Ordinarily, she would swear off such a substance completely, but her role as berserker had changed how both her mind and body would normal work. Aside from being a berserker, she was a Vampire heroic spirit; she must do Vampire-ish things. Classes seemed a little looser than normal. Normally, classes were templates that heroes could be easily adapted to, making the process the Einzberns and others perfected less difficult. In Gensokyo, the nature of reality was different and it's even likely many of the servants could continue to exist here without the Holy Grail.
"Alice probably sent her dolls to spy on Marisa and knows what servant she has by now. She's probably gone there to try and beat her."
"That should be interest, there always seemed to be something between those two." said Remilia.
"If worse comes to worse anyway, we can dump our own Berserker on them and hope she sorts it out."
"By that I take it you mean my sister, Patchy?"
Patchouli's humour was not always to the taste of her friend.
"Seriously, dumping that girl into it would be like dropping one of those Nukes the Kappa keeps talking about... though some of these servants are vicious enough to give her a run for her money. I think we've gotten into something a bit much. I wonder how strong these servants are, anyway. Sakuya, now you're a servant, do you feel any stronger?"
"Yes. Quite a bit so."
"Haha. Well at least I didn't draw the short straw."
"Is your hand alright Mistress?"
"Yes, it'll be fine. And my leg."
There was a loud BANG from somewhere outside the mansion, and the sound of doors being flung open.
"Oh no..." to Remilia this was all too familiar.
As expected, Reimu exploded into the dining room. Then rather unexpectedly, fell over on her face.
"Chinese girl... argh..."
"Ah I see. You'll have to excuse Meiling. She was rather upset at being caught off guard earlier that she probably felt the need to take it out on someone." Remilia had gotten quite used to such things happening at this stage.
"And how can we help you?"
Reimu picked herself up and made an unpleasant face.
"What mess have all of you made now. Gateways to other dimensions, mythological 'Heroes' kicking each other around the place..."
"Well, to be fair, our fight was limited mostly to our own premises."
Reimu looked somewhat defeated, but decided to retort; "Well, the Tengu reported seeing much of the same nonsense happening in the forest of magic. Really, what am I going to do with you?"
"Oh? Perhaps you're just upset you're not a master. You certainly like ordering people around."
Reimu's expression didn't change much. "Anyway, I'm going to assume you had the best of intentions and unfortunately this got out of hand beyond anyone's control". Which was actually not too far form the truth...
"We can determine who's fault it is later" she said, contradicting her earlier statement, "but for now I need to rest up for a bit and then I'll try and close that portal again, to at least stop more of these coming through. Or send them back first. I don't know. You might want to fish Meiling out of that tree too." even when Reimu was flustered, it was an easy going kind of flustered, as if she was determined to get things done but was relatively indifferent as to how this might occur.
Alice arrived at the spot in the forest where Saber and Rider were fighting. Not wishing to make a move right away, she hid behind a Tree and ordered Lancer to do much the same.
"This fighting is getting out of hand... why is Rinnosuke a master? And Remilia... who next?"
"I apologise for earlier. I didn't realise the tone of the conflict, but heroic spirits are not something you play around with. Many of us are heroes in the sense that we do heroic deeds, but some of us can be quite brutal too."
"Well I can see that now..."
They both shushed and watched the conflict. Alice had managed to mask their presence with a special ritual.
The new incarnation of Momotaro seemed more solidly built than the last. It was an interesting match; Momotaro was particularly agile for a Saber, and Rider strong and solid for a Rider, they could both have assumed each other's class, though the thought of Momotaro using the full extent of his vessel as a Rider could be quite terrifying.
Occasionally, Momotaro's sword would be flung from his hands, in which case he would dash back to the peach and draw a new one. That peach was going to be a problem, but Momotaro wouldn't let Rider get a good hit on it, not that it would be easy to damage such a huge, soft object in the first place.
Rider threw away her sword, and seemingly out of nowhere, drew a long, flaming spear, continually ramming it up against Saber. The extra range and firepower was perfect for closing in on him, and he wondered why she didn't draw it sooner. He then noticed the apparent strain on her face when using the weapon – this was obviously not an ordinary spear. This was a spear intended to clear an entire field of men from the battle field. Focusing it on one target was not easy, but it was working for her. Chunks of peach were cut off Momotaro, until eventually he once more retracted inside the peach. This was the fourth time it had happened, and was the only chance she had to attack the peach. However, the peach let out some kind of horrid fume while it was regenerating the peach-boy, which drained the strength of her attacks. The spear allowed her to attack from a greater distance, but she still could not inflict any real damage.
Meanwhile Marisa's arms were being picked at by the Pheasant, while the dog growled in front of her, and the Monkey had run off with her pointy hat. "Ahh, this is no fun." said Marisa, and let off a a fantastic field of glowing stars around her; her Danmaku. Given it was now getting very dark, it was quite spectacle. The animals were hit repeatedly and were confused by the light show. While they were keeping her from the battle, they clearly weren't going to be able to get through to her either. Marisa grabbed her broomstick and elevated herself to get around them, but the Pheasant made it's way through the bullets and knocked her down towards the ground; Marisa managed to catch onto a branch and swing around, kicking the Monkey in the face in the process, who was feeling rather outdone.. "Only one thing for this... Illusion laser!" the pheasant was blasted with an intense beam that rendered it dazed completely. The dog was stuck on the ground feeling a bit useless.
Many magic Lanterns were dotted around this area to illuminate it at night, presumably placed there by the fairies or Alice herself. The newly respawned Momotaro found himself crashing into one, smashing it apart. This was a tough opponent. But he could keep smug, he could see Rider was getting tired; where as he could keep going for as long as the Peach, and the Peach wasn't going anywhere. In fact, Momotaro had the upper hand – as he was a Saber class, he was the more powerful in Meleé and you could just about see it. He was playing things somewhat cautiously, patiently, as to not give an opening for her to ravage the Peach.
"Right, I've had enough of this. I was interested to see where this fight may go, but I have no interest in destroying another dozen of you right." "Since you've been using yours, I will now summon my Noble Phantasm..." Momotaro grinned expectantly.
She took many fast steps backwards until she was almost out of sight; rammed her fist into the ground, and a circle of light spread out from the point of impact. She jumped backwards, and out of the bright light, emerged what looked like a Chariot, with two huge flaming scythes at either side, drawn by a silver, translucent horse.
"What is this?" Momotaro let out a frown for the first time in quite a while.
"This... is the Chariot of Boudicca. From which I have commanded a vast army, and defeated more Romans than I care to count. I will now rid myself of your annoyance." the horse let out an unnatural howl, and she took the seat of the chariot and tugged on the rain. "Onwaaards!" the horse galloped with an equally unnatural acceleration, and charged towards Momotaro and his peach.
"Uh..." Momotaro took his sword and slid towards the phantasmal beast's legs. But when he did this, the horse fizzed out of existence. The two scythes from either side of the chariot swung around to make one circular blade on the front of the still speeding chariot, which he just barely dodged under.
The Chariot rammed into the peach and sliced it to pieces. There was an enormous splash of juice that even managed to find some of itself on Alice and Lancer.
Boudicca got out of the Chariot, which disappeared in a similar circle of light. She bellowed in Momotaro's general direction. "You're done here, boy."
"I've spared your life, for the most part, and maybe you can put this back together at some point." As Heroic Spirits could sense others, she could tell that he had put his basic essence into this one, which is partly why she took the chance; the Peach was also bound to be weaker in this case. "Enjoy what little time you have left in this wonderful little place. You were annoying, but it was a good battle." Boudicca smiled and reached a hand out to the young boy. His back was still a little bruised from the lantern, but since this was his central self he was managing to heal a little.
There was a chance he could still beat her, but really, he could tell this was the time to admit defeat. After all, this was a noble warrior like himself, and not some evil ogre.
"Well played. Perhaps another time and place..."
"Let's go home, Master. I have some stories to tell you, as you have me."
"Alright, I guess." Rinnosuke coldly answered as if he wasn't really there, walked off towards Kourindou with the Peach boy.
"Now!" said Alice, and Rider was struck down by Lancer's Gae Bolg. He had to hold his blows now of course, using the ability of his weapon would be too brutal.
"Sorry, it was sneaky I know. But there are still servants left, and more to come. We need to get together and do something about the portal."
Rider now realised the lance had barely pierced her, somehow, but there was an odd burning sensation where it had.
"I don't know if it works on Heroic spirits or not, but if it does, you should be feeling sleepy right about now."
Of course, she was pretty sure it would work, as it was designed to work on Heroic spirits, based on what she'd been able to gather from her dolls who'd swiped one of the books from the Scarlet Devil Mansion. Medicine, who "Naturally" produces various poisons, had also helped her out.
The mystical sedative did it's job and Boudicca was downed.
"Sorry, Marisa, but this is getting a bit crazy. We have to do something. This is normally the sort of thing you and the shrine maiden sort out, so we better try and get a hold of her."
Marisa was pretty used to seeing things go wrong on a large scale; and also used to sorting them out, so she was pretty calm. But she was glad to see her friend was safe, and hugged her.
Reimu, Patchouli, Sakuya, Remilia and Arcueid approached the portal. The Portal had stretched to many times it's original size, and was floating several meters off the ground like the grand entrance to a floating castle. The visions within flickered rapidly and alternated between many unfamiliar scenes. Every few seconds sparks would sizzle down onto the ground. Everything felt oddly cold around it, even for the night, as if it was sucking the warmth out of everything.
To their surprise, they saw Rinnosuke, and his servant, Saber, walk towards them.
"Oh, hello Rinnosuke."
Rinnosuke's eyes were blank, as were Momotaro's. Something had obviously happened them on the way home, but nobody in the current group even saw the fight they just came from.
"What are you doing, Reimu?"
"Trying to figure out how to close the portal. It's gotten ridiculous now, but I think I have a way of doing it."
"No. This is my gate, and I forbid you to do. If I am the one chosen by the gate, I can go to the human world easily and freely. I can pick up merchandise as I like. I will be in control of something important and meaningful; and respected for it. I will no longer have to deal with annoying, ungrateful beings." Rinnosuke came off as if he was running on auto-pilot.
"Don't be silly. I know Yukari is a bother to deal with, but this thing is obviously too dangerous to leave open-"
Rinnosuke shot forward his arm, and a dark substance reached out from it. Through the darkness, you could see the stars, supernovas, nebulas... flickering in and out of view.
The girls had a sneaking suspicion they knew what was happening.
"It's already beginning, as you can see. The fight was not simply a test between the best fighters, the best masters... it was also observing us. From the start, it took a liking to me, pouring it's knowledge into my head... I am it's current favourite. Marisa and her servant were wrong to leave us go, from their perspective."
Lancer and Alice appeared out of the forest, and Lancer shouted at them;
"Get back! The Grail is corrupted... and it's corruption is overflowing into your friend... he is becoming a vessel for Angra Mainyu."
Black liquid started to drip from all over Rinnosuke like a heavy sweat. Soon, the entire area around him was a sea of black.
"Don't touch it!"
The darkness consumed Momotaro, who looked briefly shocked. Rinnosuke's appearance had changed drastically, his clothes were dark grey with glowing red lines, his hair became even paler than normal, and his eyes were a deep Crimson. Rinnosuke used a command spell. "Saber; recall your Noble Phantasm." Soon; a great ball emerged from the Darkness; it was the Peach, reformed, but cast in a much darker hue of red.
The crowd were unsure how react to this. Even for Gensokyo, this was a bit unusual, and they were aware that another world's rules were partly at work here.
Marisa and Alice were running up the hill.
"What in the name of -"
Alice saw the Peach had been reformed, and apparently, corrupted. Arcueid spotted her and was about to say something, but didn't.
Marisa kept dashing up the hill, unaware of the darkness creeping towards her path.
"No, keep out!" Lance dashed over, pushing her aside. And was consumed by the darkness.
Lancer stepped out of the goop, and worked his way towards his new master, the Dark Rinnosuke. The peach seemed to cough out a new, recoloured Momotaro in a rather grotesque fashion.
"I know things, not only about the portal, about the grail, but about this world too. The Grail has eyes everywhere here now. It's too late to close it. The only way to avoid things getting completely out of control is if I complete my fusion with the fragment." Rinnosuke raised his hand, and a second kind of darkness came out of the air; this one more with the consistency of rubber.
He commanded it in a flowing stream; and it got bigger, and bigger, until it enveloped most of the party, sealing them shut. There was a lot of noise and running, but ultimately, they couldn't escape.
Except one. Arcueid had been denied a good fight up until now, and was itching to put a stop to things. She tore through the rubbery shadows like weak fabric.
"This won't work on me. Not only am I a vampire, I am a true ancestor, a nature spirit. As long as I am in contact with the earth, it will be difficult to restrain or control me. You are lucky the earth-spirit of this world seems much kinder to humans than the one I come from, or I would already have torn you to pieces as a rather ultimate human threat, corrupting nature where you stand."
Rinnosuke adjusted his glasses.
"Actually, I'm half Youkai."; he continued: "And I think you're bluffing, at least partly. I know about true ancestors, as I am connected to the Grail, which is connected to your Gaia. You are right, she is not terribly friendly towards humans. Some Youkai would take the same position here. But it's quite irrelevant, as I said, the only way to clear this up is for me to close the gate by fusing with the fragment of the Grail."
Corrupting nature was certainly an interesting way of putting it. The trees around Rinnosuke started to take on a sharper, more menacing appearance as the shadows covered them. The corruption had been abnormally quick to spread because of the high density of prana in the area. Unfortunately, the portal had been right next to his house – once he had returned, it didn't take long for it to react to his presence and consume him.
Arcueid, as per her class, went Berserk. She growled out into the night; her eyes became black and red, her face sharper and more menacing, and claws extended from her fingers several inches long. She flung herself forward, slashing through the shadows on her way that held her master.
"Unf." Patchouli fell to the ground. Unfortunately Arcueid obviously didn't have quite enough self control to release the rest of them at the time. Things really WERE getting out of hand this time.
"Saber, if you would."
Momotaro had a doll like appearance now; and silently nodded before meeting Arceuid mid lunge. Arcueid was relentless, she tore at Momotaro like an angry dog, ripping pieces of the corrupted fruit out of him. Even in this state; Momotaro was able to slash through Arcueid's dress, leaving a bloody cut along her torso. He then jumped back into the peach.
"Oh... I am glad I get to pay back at least the servant", Arcueid's teeth were like daggers as she said this.
Lancer's Gae Bolg could kill even Arcueid, who could regenerate from cut up lumps of flesh given enough time. For a creature that was difficult to kill, the certain kill of his lance was the best weapon against her.
Unfortunately, he didn't get to use it. Lancer swung for Arcueid; and she grabbed the Lance with her hands. She used it to ram Lancer into the ground, and kicked him back towards Rinnosuke. She hurled the Lance into the forest. Lancer got up and darted after it. He had bought time for Momotaro to regenerate, regardless.
Momotaro once more emerged from the peach, this time wielding dual short swords. Not only that, he had fused with his "friends". He had the tail of the pheasant, the legs of the monkey and the snout of a dog. He also had horns – like an Oni. The monstrous creature nonetheless retained it's deft style of combat, dodging most of Arcueid's attacks.
Patchouli had her eyes on Rinnosuke, and cast several magic missiles in his direction, most of which were absorbed by the shadows. She couldn't get near them.
"Look out below!"
A somewhat large but surprisingly agile woman leapt out of a tree, dumping herself onto Rinnosuke. Rinnosuke, unable to maintain the weight with his less than stellar physique, was brought to the ground. Boudicca rammed her flaming spear into the ground, dispersing the darkness around her just as it had blasted holes in the tides of romans so long ago.
"If you put enough magical energy in your weapons, you can diffuse the shadows! Just be careful not to get them eaten!" Boudicca leapt off Rinnosuke and got busy freeing her master and the rest.
Arcueid rammed her elbow into Momotaro's stomach. Clearly once more, he had put his all into this form. What was worse is that every so often, the peach would shoot dark bullets at her, catching her and slowing her down, but this was short lived.
Rinnosuke, getting to his feet, could see Saber was losing the battle. He then revealed an item he had been hiding; a short sword with arcane markings on it. It obviously had some kind of intended use against demons, or vampires; something that had an effect against the idea of such entities. Such artifacts were not unusual to find turning in Kourindou. Rinnosuke dashed towards her and made for her throat.
"You waste your time with such weapons" she announced proudly, as it scraped off her shoulder. As it happened, Conceptual Weapons, as they were called, did not affect her much at all thanks to her ability to build up various resistances. She grabbed the weapon, and snapped it in two. The wound burned, but it made little difference to her. She grabbed Rinnosuke by the collar and threw him several meters away from the fight.
Momotaro immediately lunged for her. He was upping the offense and was becoming more of a serious threat. He knocked her off her feat and raised his swords. Rinnosuke was already up and running back to the fight, and was angry. He enveloped Arcueid's body in his shadows, somehow draining her of her rage, and used another command spell.
"Now! Cut her damn head off!"
Patchouli countered with another.
"Use your Noble Phantasm! Whatever it is!"
The calming effect of the shadows beneficial.
"Oh, yes. As you command~. Marble Phantasm."
The shadows turned into a black liquid and dripped away from her. The ground started to transmutate towards a rough, spiky texture, piercing through the pool of darkness. The darkness itself began to evaporate. Arcueid then transformed the evaporating shadow into tiny blades, and slashed into Momotaro from every angle, cutting him down once more into pieces of Peach.
The whole environment had become hostile to Rinnosuke. He tried to get a grip on reality but wasn't sure what reality to get a grip on. His own thoughts had already been drowned out by the shadows. The air became thick, rough, as if it was ripping against his lungs as he breathed it in. Light itself started to bend around him and his vision blurred. Reality was conspiring against him; he became lost admist a flurry of distorted lights and sounds.
Arcueid smiled and then kicked Rinnosuke in the face, knocking him out this time.
The others had been freed by now. It looked like amidst the shadows, Reimu had been in the middle of some kind of ritual.
Then they realised what she was doing.
"Thou seven heavens, clad in a trinity of words,
come past thy restraining rings, and be thou the hands that protect the balance-!"
Reimu was a Miko. Ordinarily, Gods and such are rather off limit for summoning in the Grail Wars. However, this was something Reimu had been training to do, regardless, so as a Master it only made sense she could do it more casually. Gods were generally beyond the realm of the normal 7 servants; to summon one would be a special case, used perhaps to fix things when things go wrong. Long ago, someone attempted to summon a god, into the special class Avenger, which is what corrupted the grail. Now, one was going to be used to fix things.
As she completed the pact, an enormous, 12 foot, well built man, with curly hair and beard stood there; looking like a giant ancient roman, much to the displeasure of the nearby Boudicca.
"This is Terminus, the God of Boundaries, more or less.", Reimu informed everyone.
"Terminus, close the portal." when commanding a God to do anything major, it required a command spell, so one was lost.
"Yes, young Maiden. I will do so."
Terminus grabbed either side of the portal with his huge, well toned arms, pulled them close together. It was quite a surreal vision. He then put a hand at either side of the portal, and clapped them together, sealing it shut completely.
His bellowing voice rang out; "This is not the only connection to the Grail around here, as the servants are still receiving sustenance. It should be easier to close these, but if you require my assistance, do not hesitate to call." Terminus slowly let out a smile, and faded from existence. Servants after all, did not have to be physically present at all times, and in this case it would be painful.
Closing the portal did manage to stop the overflow of corruption from the Grail, and Rinnosuke quickly returned to normal, feeling embarrassed about the whole thing when it was explained to him. They found Lancer trying to dislodge his Lance from a tree.
"So why did the Grail take such a liking to Kourin in the first place?", asked Marisa.
"It could be something to do with his ability... the stuff he keeps around in his house... or whatever Youkai he's 'half' of" suggested Reimu. They did get the feeling they still weren't going to found out, though.
"Or maybe just that I have an odd tendency to attract trouble..." mumbled Rinnosuke. He was quite possibly right.
The rather extensive group of strange individuals descended upon the Hakurei shrine, where a non-corrupted Momotaro got into a fight with Suika. Yukari was waiting for them there, and talking to them from behind a rather large and pompous fan.
"Well done everyone. Ironically, that portal was disrupting everything and keeping me from coming back in. If I'd have forced my way in, it could have caused border to break, and we don't want that do we?"
It seemed quickly forgotten that Yukari was meant to be gone on a week-long trip to the human world, or what she was doing there. It was getting late, and people were tired and hungry. They could sort out what to do with the servants tomorrow, now Yukari was back it shouldn't be an issue.
"You know what! This calls for a party!" said Suika. And most everyone groaned.