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Patrick walked through the streets of the human town, taking in his surroundings. It was still fairly early in the morning, and only a few people were out in the streets. What people there were were usually busy opening shops, or doing morning errands. The few that spotted him however, seemed to eye him suspiciously, as could likely be expected considering he was a strange man with a sword, with a fairly noticeable patch of blood on his shirt. No one had said anything to him however, as most people seemed to avoid him, and his slight embarrassment in the situation made it hard for him to ask someone directly for help. As it were, he could see more of the town below, as the area he came into was on the outskirts, and had more of a rural appearance to it compared to what he could see further along, at the bottom of the gentle sloping hill the outskirts were located on. Even from here, he could make out more modern looking buildings, and that's where he had decided to head. That is, until a door opened outwards in front of him. Patrick strode full force into the door and bounced off, falling to the ground in his surprise and loss of footing.
"Holy shit! What the hell? Be more careful, you... you..." Patrick exclaimed, getting to his knees. His stomach seized up almost immediately at the sight of the other person, a tall man that looked like he was chiseled from pure muscle. The most problematic thing Patrick noticed immediately was that the man was glaring at him with an expression that either meant he was about to crush his skull with his bare hands, or he had just lost a very big bet.
"I mean, I'm sorry. I should have been more attentive. I kind of spaced out and- Uh..."
"Yer an outsider, ain'tcha?"
Patrick blinked a few times. The mans voice was about as gruff as you'd expect, and Patrick's nerves settled down from panic mode and he could make out more details, namely, that the man himself didn't look Japanese himself. Patrick suddenly realized he had been asked a question.
"Ah, yes. I popped up here about a day or so ago. You're an outsider too?"
The man huffed, as if he took offense at the thought of being taken as an outsider. He turned without a word and turned back to the building he had stepped out of, pulling the door closed and locking it. Patrick noticed that it was a door he was more familiar with, and not the sliding type of doors that seemed more prevalent in this area. Through a small window, he could see quite a number of tools arranged in a way that would only make sense if they were for sale. Before he could ask questions, if he had any, the man had walked away, heading in the direction Patrick had walked from. Things were already looking fantastic, he had been in the village for not even twenty minutes and likely already got on someone's nerves. He'd fit right in naturally. Deciding standing around would get him nowhere, Patrick continued on his way. Today would prove to be a day of interruptions, however, as he heard the sound of an opening door and quickly froze, looking around for the source. He spotted a woman leaving another building that looked like a house a few feet ahead of him. He almost immediately recognized the strange box-hat she wore, but before he could say anything, she had noticed him staring, and gave a short start as if surprised.
"Oh, uh, hello..." Keine said, sounding somewhat hesitant. Patrick remembered the patch of blood on his shirt and the sword he carried and chalked up her reaction to that, as she had indeed noticed them already.
"You're... Keine Kami... Kamishirasawa, was it?"
Keine jumped again, as if her name was shocking to hear. Then again, she probably wasn't used to being recognized by outsiders, something she probably already knew as well, more based on her power than any normal perceptive skills. She seemed slightly lost for words before she took a breath and calmed herself down.
"I know this is sudden, but would you mind coming with me?"
It was Patrick's turn to be surprised now. He didn't necessarily have any objections to following her, but she was right, it was sudden. He stood there for a while, expecting her to start moving, but she didn't. The situation grew awkward after a few seconds, and Patrick decided to take the first step. Once he did, Keine sprung into motion as well, as if she had just realized she was going somewhere as well, Patrick slowly catching up beside her.
"So, I assume you have a reason to ask me to follow you?" Patrick asked. Keine seemed somewhat lost in thought, and she looked like she was seeing something far away. Patrick tried in vain to follow her gaze, but didn't see anything of interest. Perhaps she was using her power in some way?
"I just have some questions, and..." she trailed off, as if she had forgotten what to say next. She never did pick back up where she dropped off.
"Seems I've got a track record for being questioned. Rinnosuke at Kourindou had some questions for me about the outside as well. I kinda guess I should have expected as much."
Keine looked at him with a somewhat confused expression, and he realized he should probably pay more attention to what he's saying. It'd be easy enough for him to pass off his 'ability' to know people, though since it was about as real as Gensok- Well, not real at all, he could simply explain it away. He was a bit curious as to why she hadn't inquired how he knew her name though.
"Actually, my questions are more about you and your history."
"Ah, that's how it is then? Are you more interested in the people from the outside than their world?"
Keine didn't reply. All this time, they had been walking down the hill towards the main part of town, and he could see a large building ahead that looked like a typical school like building. He could also see children of varying ages gathered in pockets around it. Keine didn't say anything until they reached the building, where several children greeted her. She greeted them back warmly, quite a change from her somewhat melancholy state just a short while ago. She ushered the children into the building, but stopped at the doors, turning around.
"Come with me. I'll send the children to the class, I want to question you here, where it will be safe."
A chill ran up Patrick's spine. He didn't like the way she had said that, and something in the back of his mind told him he'd be better off leaving. Part of him also wanted to follow her however, and that was split into two reasons. The first being that because she was an attractive woman that appeared somewhere in his age range that actually wanted to know more about him, and the second being that he felt that whatever safety she was talking about was something probably worth seeking as he had no idea what the danger could be. His imagination acting up, his mind flashed back to the large man he ran in to, and Patrick had horrible images of a group of anti-outsiders tearing him to pieces to feed to youkai. Patrick started towards the building, and Keine turned on her heels and walked into the building.
Once inside, he was directed to a small room with several chairs and a desk while Keine went to the classroom to give the students something to do. Patrick set his bag and sword down on the floor next to him, propping the sword up so the handle rested against the side of the chair. It took several minutes by his reasoning for Keine to return, and when she did, she quickly snatched up the sword and placed it on the desk, beyond his reach.
"No weapons on school grounds."
Fair enough. After all, he was a strange man with a sword and a bloodspot. Keine turned the chair at the desk towards him and took a seat, looking him over with a slightly concerned expression. He kind of felt like he was being evaluated.
"Where are you from in the outside world?"
Patrick felt a little jolt of surprise from Keine suddenly breaking the silence.
"Canada, but, uh..."
"Don't worry, I know quite a bit about the outside world historically as well. Kourindou occasionally receives textbooks from the outside, I have almost all of them that have ever come through."
Well, that was good to know.
"What's your name?"
"Is that a common name in the outside? Patrick?"
These questions were a little weird, but whatever.
"I don't really know. Was Keine a common Japanese name?"
Keine made a small, almost amused grin but said nothing.
"What was your childhood like?"
"Are you a licensed psychiatrist?"
Keine didn't reply, she simply watched him with a kind of intensity that made him a little uncomfortable.
"Boring and uninteresting mostly. Went to school, played with friends, spent most of my time inside otherwise reading or playing games."
She seemed satisfied with something, and the tension in the atmosphere felt like it lifted a little.
"Do you know about Gensokyo?"
"Yes, there are legends and myths on the outside. I happened to be one of the believers."
Seemed he was taking a liking to that as an excuse. While it was partially true, he just didn't want to be the one to tell them that they're not real. After all, in a world where faith is power, he kind of wondered what kind of effects people believing they didn't exist would have. The idea of a barren, empty Gensokyo didn't sound too promising, even if he wasn't planning on being a permanent resident.
"How did you know my name?"
Ah, and there it was.
"I-It's an ability of mine, like your historical divination and your were-hakutaku form. There are some people in my world with powers, and-"
Patrick could almost feel his blood run cold. He almost hoped he had just heard an echo of his subconscious, but denial wouldn't make the distinctly Keine sounding voice fade from memory any faster.
"I can tell from your history you've never had such an ability. At best you have slight spiritual power, but nothing significant."
Patrick was at a loss for words. He had no idea she could actually know someone's history. His disbelief wavered though, and he felt that maybe she was just bluffing and was hoping to try to scare him into giving some other kind of answer. If she knew his history, why was she asking?
"It really is an ability. I can know a person's name an abilities just by looking at them."
"You first arrived here inside the Hakurei shrine. After being sent off because of the barrier's fluctuations being too strong for Reimu to breach, you were knocked off a cliff and managed to survive, only to be accosted by a youkai you managed to scare off. You were rescued soon afterwards by villagers who took you to Kourindou, where you were treated and rested for a whole day. You ultimately repaid the hospitality shown to you by swindling Rinnosuke out of a sword with a considerable history in the outside world."
God damn it, she wasn't bluffing after all it seemed. Patrick's short surprise quickly turned to annoyance as he started to feel he was being played around with.
"Fine then. Gensokyo only exists in a series of video games in the outside world. You, this building, everyone in it, this entire cloistered world, is nothing more than the coding of a mad drunken Japanese man."
The awkward silence began immediately as Keine's expression changed into one of disbelief. She didn't blink out of existence however, so maybe it was still a good thing.
"You expect me to believe something stupid like that?"
Something, somewhere in Patrick's mind snapped. He could feel the workings of nerd rage boiling up.
"You never existed until Imperishable Night, where you appeared as a stage 3 boss and attack the heroines, which consisted of pairs of Reimu and Yukari, Marisa and Alice, Yuyuko and Youmu, and Sakuya and Remilia. You were afraid of their intentions, thinking of them as youkai, and you used your power to erase the history of the human village to protect it's inhabitants, thinking the heroines were youkai coming to attack the people." Patrick was in full swing rant mode by this point, having slid to the edge of his chair.
"After you were soundly beaten, something I did myself with ease on Hard without needing a single bomb, you restored the town and the heroines headed off to the bamboo forest, where they found Eientei, home of Kaguya, your good friend Mokou's bitter rival, and the location of the true perpetrators of the fake moon. You later showed up in the Extra stage as your were-hakutaku form and tried to keep the heroines from Mokou, but were soundly beaten again, only managing to claim a single of my lives with Reincarnation 「Returning-Bridge Ichijo」. While I can still beat you only losing one life, I still can't beat Mokou, but I can get as far as Forgiveness 「Honest Man's Death」on a regular basis."
Patrick settled down a little when he realize Keine was staring at him with a rather stunned expression. His satisfaction in his apparent victory was threatening to be overshadowed now by his fear that such a detailed retelling of events would have some sort of negative impact on the world as a whole. Keine slowly seemed to come back to her senses and gave a small cough, as if clearing her throat. Her previously tense and somewhat hostile disposition seemed to have vanished as well, leaving behind something that looked like a mix of astonishment and disbelief. Keine didn't say anything for nearly a minute, but she slowly took the sword from the desk and handed it back to Patrick, who took it and laid it in his lap.
"Seems I owe you an apology at least. Perhaps your world really has something like this, I couldn't know that. Your knowledge of details is rather impressive though, and you know things you probably wouldn't ever know had you been a normal human. Whatever this game is, it's rather... thorough. I'm sorry for doubting you, and that's all the questions I had."
Patrick started to feel a little embarrassed for his tirade, but she didn't seem to be on edge anymore, so whatever it was that was causing her tension had been cleared up.
"Well, actually, I do have one more question."
Keine looked like she was trying to think of how to say something. He could see her mouthing words to herself, though he couldn't make out anything.
"Do you... have anywhere to go in the town?"
"Not really. I was thinking of finding some shop or something that would take me in as help so I can get my bearings here. I'm sure you know I'm stuck here for a few years unless I find a new way out."
Keine slowly nodded, as if she did know what he was saying and was acknowledging it and went back to her pensive state. In the pit of Patrick's stomach, he could feel something that felt like a weight, pulling him down. He noticed a slight vibration as he realized someone was walking through the hall. What would ensue would go down in Keine's own history as the worst timed moment ever. The footsteps stopped outside the door, which began to slide open as Keine spoke up.
"You can stay with me then."
Mokou had already opened the door half way, and had a rather angry expression of surprise. Keine had realized too late the door was opening, and Patrick had already dropped a few bricks. The door closed quickly, and the footsteps moved away. Keine stood from her hair flustered and ran out into the hall, chasing Mokou. Oh boy. Patrick didn't want to leave the chair, feeling it was the only place in the world that would protect him. He could hear the two of them arguing in the hallway.
"Stay with you? What's wrong with you Keine?"
"He's an outsider, and he's lost here. The least I could do is help him."
"Always helping people Keine, one day that will come back to hurt you again."
"Mokou, that was-"
"That man was a lunatic that only wanted you to serve him."
"But this one isn't dangerous."
"Isn't dangerous? He's carrying a damned sword and smells like blood! Didn't you think to ask about that?"
Silence fell once again. Patrick could feel footsteps heading back in the direction of the room, and a very aggravated looking Mokou opened the door.
Patrick decided to comply immediately, and stood from the chair, picking the sword up off his lap. He went to move it to his side and instinctively reached for the handle to adjust his grip. Before he realized it, a hand shot out and came down on the end of the handle, and another one thrust out and struck him on the forehead hard, causing him to stagger backwards and loosen his grip on the sword in surprise. The sword was taken from him by a sharp yank, and almost immediately, he had a pair of hands on his shoulders thrusting him backwards as an angry Mokou nearly carried him across the room and pinned him to the wall.
"What was that about, huh? Trying to attack me?"
"Where'd the blood come from? The sword? You some kind of murderer?"
"I was attacked, I-"
"I bet you were, carrying a sword like it was nothing."
"No, It was-"
"Why are you even walking around covered in blood? If you were attacked, shouldn't you have gone for help?"
Patrick had passed his limit of rational control. His fear was quickly giving away to frustration at constantly being cut off, and being unable to explain himself to an obviously agitated Mokou was getting on his nerves enough to reawaken what was left of his anger that hadn't entirely subsided yet. With a surge of adrenaline, he managed a little leverage, pushing himself away from the wall as Mokou applied more pressure to his shoulders. Using what little room he had, he snapped his head forward and struck Mokou square in the face with his forehead, causing her to step backwards, taking one hand off his shoulder to cover her face. He took this opportunity, and grabbed her one remaining arm by the wrist, turned his body while twisting her arm, and hooked his nearest arm over her elbow while maintaining his hold, somewhat similar to how the remembered an arm bar his dad taught him. Mokou bent with her arm, obviously not wanting to resist too much. Patrick's victory inspired some confidence until he remembered Mokou controlled fire, which made itself apparent the moment her captured arm burst into flames.
Patrick released her and stepped back, watching as Mokou flickered with flame. A trail of blood ran from her nose, and Patrick realized then that he had probably gotten even more blood on his shirt from that. Mokou's angry glare wreathed in flame was all it took for the rest of Patrick's confidence to flee in terror, as realizing he was outclassed and couldn't even beat Mokou in a video game. Before she attacked though, Keine appeared in the doorway.
"Mokou! What are you doing?"
Mokou turned towards Keine, who was briefly started by the blood on her face, but entered the room and squeezed past Mokou.
"Please Mokou, I won't let it happen again."
Mokou didn't say anything, just glared at Patrick when she wasn't looking at Keine. If Patrick hadn't been in a mild panic, he'd have probably appreciated how touchingly dramatic the scene looked as Mokou's flames died down. Once things calmed down somewhat, and Patrick's fear of death was temporarily postponed as it seemed Keine was able to diffuse the situation, Patrick noticed that Mokou, aside from being fairly tall, only looked like she was around 16, while Keine looked like she was in her mid twenties at most. Mokou also really did look like quite the reverse trap, particularly due to having a bloody face.
After a short trip to the bathroom to wash her face and with help from some medical supplies to plug her nose, Mokou returned with Keine, and explanations were made, even though Keine had to return to the classroom for some time to calm down the students who had gotten riled from the commotion.
"I see, so you stole the sword from Kourindou, and used it to fight off a youkai that attacked you. Guess I jumped the gun a little thinking you were some madman slasher."
"Eh, I don't blame you. I think people on the outskirts thought the same thing when they saw me."
Mokou gave a smug smirk. Actually getting a chance to see Mokou in person was pretty impressive, she looked every bit of a badass she was portrayed in doujin, and if not for her feminine voice, it would be quite easy for her to pass as a trap.
"Listen though, Patrick. Keine's the only good friend I've had in a long time, and she's had some pretty bad people take advantage of her kindness towards humans in the past. I could never convince her to give up her teaching, but if I could, I would have her live in the bamboo with me where I could be sure she was safe from her own naivety sometimes."
Patrick couldn't think of anything fitting to say, so he simply remained silent. Mokou looked him over again, and he got the feeling of being appraised.
"Keine's giving you a chance, and I'm letting her do it. I don't want you causing her trouble, or you'll make a very angry, eternal enemy out of me. You don't want to make enemies with someone you can't kill."
Now that it had been brought up, Patrick felt a strong desire to find out more about the subject of immortality, and Mokou's powers in general.
"So, you can't ever be killed? There's nothing that could ever permanently destroy you?"
Mokou's expression changed slightly, as if she was pondering why Patrick would ask something like that.
"Just curious, this whole immortality thing is a bit new to me and all."
"... Well... Maybe if some Onmyouji were able to perform a high level purification spell, he would probably banish the Phoenix and dispel the spiritual immortality. I'd probably end up imploding or something." she said with a smirk.
"Well, would that actually work?"
"Pfft, probably not. Anyone that tried would likely serve a painful, burning death before they managed to get close enough to land a seal that might not even work in the first place."
Mokou gave a slight chuckle, as if she found the idea of burning someone to death entertaining, but Patrick simply assumed she was probably picturing Kaguya in such a situation. Keine returned shortly afterwards.
"Sorry Patrick, but I've got to actually teach my class now," Keine said, reaching into a pocket at the side of her dress and pulling out a handful of coins, offering them to Patrick. "Get some food in the town and come back here in a few hours."
"I'll go with him, show him around a bit."
Keine looked at Mokou as if she was genuinely surprised at her friend's sudden hospitality. Patrick did a bit of the same thing, but figured she probably wanted to keep an eye on him to make sure he wasn't up to anything devious.
"Okay then, I'll be back around later Keine."
Keine smiled and nodded.
"Alright, see you later Patrick. You can leave your stuff here, it would help you prevent any more attacks if you didn't walk around with a weapon."
Keine left the room, followed by Patrick. Mokou followed behind him, closing the door. Patrick watched Keine up ahead as she walked through a door into a noisy classroom. As Patrick and Mokou passed, he could see a few kids in the class trying to take a peek out the window, but were quickly reprimanded by Keine.
"Looks like a tough teacher."
"You should see the lessons I help with."
Patrick looked back at Mokou over his shoulder. He was a bit surprised that she'd help out in a school at all, let alone help teach. They quickly reached the end of the hall, and stepped through the doors into the outside. It had been about an hour or so at least, and there were more signs of people up and moving around. Though Patrick stopped in the door, Mokou kept on walking ahead. After a few feet, she stopped and turned back to Patrick, a quizzical look on her face.
"You coming or not?"
Patrick snapped back to reality, and took a few steps away from the door.
"Yeah, I just have no idea where to go."
Mokou gave a small smile.
"I know a great yakitori stand you might like."
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