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“So, you want me to merge all five elements into one? I know that’s the way to enter the Celestial Plane, but I have never heard of an attempt succeeding.” Patchouli said softly as she closed the leather-bound book she held in her hands. Standing up from her chair, she looked at Yayoi and Shiwasu with some measure of concern and skepticism. “And even if I did, how can I be sure you two will actually win?”
“Are you doubting our strength?” Shiwasu said, feeling the familiar sparks of anger lighting in her soul. ‘If she says yes, then I’ll show her how powerful we are. Besides, staying in a library for your whole life can’t be good for your physical shape. Injuries or not, I’ll show her the errors of her judgment.’
“As a matter of fact, I am. It will be hard enough creating the portal in the first place, since I’ll need some extra help containing the reacting elements, but I will also need to create something that will help you come back here. Having to ask that thief for help grates at my soul. And I still have no guarantees that you’ll be able to defeat the Heavenly Creatures. You barely survived fighting against Sakuya or have you forgotten your injuries so quickly? If she managed to wear you down that much, how do you expect to win against people twice or three times her strength?” Patchouli said bluntly.
“Tch…” Shiwasu grimaced, unable to come up with a suitable retort.
“How about this? Both of you fight me. If you win, I’ll go along with your plan and I might even believe you have a chance of winning. If not, then I’ll find some other people to take over.” Patchouli stated, folding her arms. “Do you think you can handle the One-Week Witch? I’ve been feeling at my best lately, so I should warn you to watch out.”
“When do you want to start? Now?” Shiwasu asked, baring her fangs.
“I’m afraid my bookshelves have handled all the damage they possibly can. There is a special room in this mansion that is perfect for fighting. I shall meet you there.” Patchouli said before grabbing her book and drifting out of the library, her long, purple robe obscuring her feet from view.
“Shiwasu!” Yayoi said in a whining voice. “Why do you always want to fight? You’re still hurt, remember?! Please, let’s just wait a day.”
“Wait a day and the elements will just get more disrupted. It was bad enough before, but now I dread seeing what has happened to our home.” Shiwasu replied. “And besides, my soul is calling out for the hunt. An injured wolf fights that much harder. Let’s go.”
“…Okay.” Yayoi sighed, somberly following after Shiwasu and hoping for her sake that her friend was correct.
“This is it?” Shiwasu asked, looking at the wide expanse of…room that surrounded them. To say that it was unadorned would be an understatement. The only things that were in the room were themselves. It was huge. It was boring. It was perfect for a fight. Shiwasu eyed the soon-to-be battlefield appraisingly, seeing if there was anything she could use to her advantage. ‘The walls seem smooth…and there aren’t any handholds anywhere. At least this room is big. Plenty of space to maneuver.’
“Yes. Here, we can show our full strength without having to worry about collateral damage.” Patchouli said, facing the two friends. She brought up a hand and summoned up a fireball. “Now, when this hits the ground, the battle will begin, okay?”
“Okay.” Yayoi nodded, flapping her wings so she could drift in mid-air. The half-demon had mixed feelings about the upcoming fight. She wanted to show Patchouli that the two of them were strong enough to take on anything that came at them, yet she was worried that they might severely hurt Patchouli, not to mention her worries about Shiwasu’s condition. ‘Well, the only thing I can do is try to finish this quickly. I hope nobody will get seriously hurt.’
“Oh, and one thing. Don’t underestimate me just because I read books for a living.” Patchouli said as she tossed the fireball into the air. Shiwasu watched the fireball slowly fly upwards, tensing as it arced gracefully downwards. A second later, it hit the floor, and Shiwasu leapt, speeding towards Patchouli. Before she could even blink, dozens of water bolts were being launched towards her. Suddenly, hundreds of tiny orbs collided with the bolts, destroying them. Giving Yayoi a small nod, Shiwasu continued on her path, coming even closer to the witch. Confident that her friend would give her all the support she needed, Shiwasu closed in on Patchouli.
Strangely enough, Patchouli only held her book out, still chanting words as she stood there, unafraid of the upcoming attack. Shiwasu just smirked as she attacked, her claws coming to rip apart her last piece of defense. However, when her claws smashed into the book, they scraped against the cover, which had suddenly become metal. The wolf youkai recoiled from the harsh sound that erupted from her nails hitting the metal and she stared at Patchouli in consternation.
“Give up? I control all of the elements. I could make fireballs rain upon your body. This whole room could be filled with water with a single chant. I could make this empty place seem like a breeze-filled forest. The very ground beneath you can tremble at my command. And objects such as my book can be coated with the hardest metal. And I am just a witch. Can you handle something stronger than that?” Patchouli taunted, holding her now-metal book at her side.
“Grrr…” Shiwasu fell on one knee, her previous injuries beginning to flare up again. ‘Maybe Yayoi was right. But still…I want to finish this now. I can’t wait.’
“You forgot about me!” Yayoi spoke up as she immediately fired off multiple orbs at Patchouli, all of which erupted against a magical barrier right before they could make contact with her. Yayoi followed up with a dive downwards, swinging one of her claws in a wide sweep that sent out two pink-colored arcs of energy hurtling towards Patchouli. The witch managed to defend against of the blasts, but the second one pierced her barrier and collided with her, knocking her down. Before she could even recover, Shiwasu was above her, battle lust on her face as she plunged a claw down, barely missing Patchouli’s neck.
The witch quickly saw that she was in trouble. With Shiwasu and Yayoi working together, she had to not only worry about the direct attacks by the wolf, but also the long-distance barrages set by the half-demon. To say that they made a good team would be an understatement. They both worked very well with each other, Shiwasu covering a delay in Yayoi’s attacks and Yayoi protecting Shiwasu from any magical attacks with her own magical orbs. Patchouli frowned as she backed away from Shiwasu, a hand over one of her major wounds.
‘They might have a chance after all…’ She thought to herself as she saw Shiwasu begin to attack again. ‘Still, unless they witness my full power, I can’t be certain.’
“Wood Sign ~Sylphae Horn~!”
Patchouli raised her hands and from behind her, a growth of trees could be seen. A snap of a finger and suddenly a huge gust of wind blew through the room, tearing the branches and leaves off of the trees and sending them in a random pattern towards Shiwasu and Yayoi. Shiwasu swung her arm out, brushing some of the leaves aside, but the move cost her some time, forcing her to haphazardly dodge the remaining leaves. As she sidestepped one group of leaves, however, her foot landed on one of the leaves already on the ground and she slipped, barely regaining her balance.
“Play Sign ~Friends Forever~!”
Suddenly, Yayoi appeared in front of her friend, spinning rapidly as thousands of magical orbs appeared around her with each spin. Finally stopping, Yayoi winked and pointed at Patchouli, sending all of the orbs hurtling in the witch’s direction. However, instead of attacking the witch, they formed a barrier around her, which had the additional effect of preventing any of the leaves from passing. When the leaves hit the barrier, they reflected backwards, heading back toward Patchouli. The witch’s eyes widened momentarily before she summoned up a miniature firestorm that disintegrated the rest of the leaves.
“Not a bad idea, using a magical barrier as a weapon.” Patchouli commented, watching the orbs slowly dissolve into small sparkles. “You might stand a chance if you two can keep working together like this. Still, it might not be enough. I have two more tests for you. Pass them both and I’ll help you.”
“I’m waiting.” Shiwasu challenged with a smile, holding up a claw up to her face.
“We’re not going to lose.” Yayoi said confidently, her nails glowing with a pink aura.
“Fire & Water Sign ~Raging Mist~!”
Patchouli raised her hands again and in one hand formed an orb of blue, a swirling maelstrom of water crashing within the small spear. In the other hand formed an orb of red, flames crackling within. Bringing with water orb down, she threw it straight at the two of them, throwing the fire orb a second later. The water orb seemed to break open, the magic containing the torrent of water wearing off as a wave of water came crashing down towards Shiwasu and Yayoi. The fire orb collided directly in the middle of the wave, the red color pulsing with the water. In a flash, it exploded, evaporating all of the water into a furious steam that flowed against the two.
Shiwasu hissed as the steam made contact with her. Not only did it burn, but it also made her ears and tail get heavy with moisture. It felt nothing like the pleasant steam that rose out of the hot springs in the mountains. What was worse was that because it was steam, there was no real way of avoiding it. They could only try to outlast the burning mist.
“Let’s go, Yayoi!” Shiwasu shouted, charging at Patchouli again, her fangs and claws bared. However, Patchouli only summoned two more orbs, holding them in her hands until Shiwasu was close enough. When she was, Patchouli released the water one, which exploded in a giant wall of water that stopped Shiwasu in her tracks. When the wave crashed over the youkai, Patchouli released the fire orb and let it drift slowly towards Shiwasu. She spotted Yayoi moving forward out of the corner of her eye, so she flung out a hand and six fireballs appeared around her wrist, rotating in a circle that expanded as they leapt towards Yayoi. The fireballs swarmed around the half-demon, preventing her from doing anything else but dodge.
Shiwasu fell to a knee, her clothes utterly soaked with water. She let out a hacking cough, trying to spit out all the water that had flowed into her mouth when the wave had hit her. Panting, she looked up to see the fire orb drifting lazily towards her. Even as she watched, she saw the magic holding the orb together unravel. Her eyes widened and she desperately tried to get of the way. ‘Shit…’
The resulting blast flung Shiwasu all the way across the room, making her crash into the ground and roll uncontrollably before she slammed into the wall, blood flying out of her mouth and dotting the floor. Shiwasu struggled to lift herself up, her arms shaking with the strain. Finally, she gave up, collapsing back onto the floor. Her vision was becoming blurry and it felt as if all the energy had left her body. The only thing she could feel was the pain that was flooding her body and she was thankful that she could feel something. She had one last thought before the world faded into black. ‘Dammit…I’ve got to get up…’
“Shiwasu!” Yayoi shouted in fear as she watched her friend get thrown across the room. She turned her gaze to Patchouli, deep-blue eyes sparking with anger. Lifting herself in the air slightly, she abruptly went into a dive, sweeping down with her hand, creating another arc of pink energy. “Nobody does that to my friend!”
“Futile.” Patchouli brought up a hand to deflect the arc, a flurry of water bolts flying out of her hand to crash against the energy. She followed with another circle of fireballs, which homed in on Yayoi’s position and exploded all around her. The half-demon coughed, the fire’s smoke clouding her view. A sphere of dirt crashed into her, flipping her in mid-air and leaving her vulnerable to another one of the witch’s attacks. Patchouli sighed, disappointed.
“You truly think you can take on the Heavenly Creatures with just this?” Patchouli shook her head, staring at Yayoi seriously. “I am just one. They are five. You stand no chance.”
“We will win!” Yayoi shot back, bringing her hands together to summon a giant orb with various, smaller lights floating within. She flung it with all her might at Patchouli and she was pleased to see it break through her defenses. However, when the lights left the orb to attack Patchouli, they were quickly snuffed by the wind, Patchouli’s powers over Wood giving her enough power to manipulate a small portion of air.
‘There’s got to be a way to win!’ Yayoi thought furiously to herself. She had to win, in order to see this through to the end. They had traveled all the way from their home to find the answer to this mystery and fix it. Why should they be denied the chance to finish their work?! It wasn’t right and she wouldn’t let that happen! She clenched her fists, not noticing the fact that her nails had grown by a full inch. “I’m not going to let you defeat me!”
“Let me see, child.” Patchouli returned.
‘Grrr…I’ll show her my strength!’ Yayoi growled, a blood-red mist starting to cloud her eyes. She let out a fearsome scream, her normally clear voice now harsh and rattling. Even her wings seemed to have grown and Yayoi charged at Patchouli, an insane grin on her face as she swiped at the witch, instantly breaking the magical barrier. Patchouli recoiled in shock, just barely remembering to send off a counter attack.
‘Was she always this strong?’ Patchouli thought to herself.
‘Where’d this power come from?’ Yayoi wondered as she tore through one of Patchouli’s spells. ‘I was never able to do something like this before. But this is awesome! I wonder if I can keep it!’
‘You can, child.’ A deep, rough-sounding voice spoke in her head.
‘What? Who are you? What the hell is going on?’
‘I am the demon inside you. But ignore that. I can give you the power to defeat whoever you want. You just have to let me take over for a little bit of time.’
‘No way! I like controlling my body! There’s got to be some sort of catch!’
‘There’s no catch, trust me. And besides, without my help, how do you expect to defeat this witch? Your friend already failed. Why, I wouldn’t be surprised if she was dead right now.’
‘You’re lying! I can beat her without your help!’
‘Oh really?’ The voice let out chuckle. ‘I highly doubt that. I can already tell that you’re weakening, even with a little bit of my assistance. Come on, trust me.’
‘Why should I?’
‘Because we’re one and the same, Yayoi. Just because you’re half-human doesn’t mean you can’t use any of your demonic powers. By letting me take control, you’re just letting a side of yourself free.’
‘…There’s something…that I can’t trust about you. Something long ago…’
‘Tsk, are you going to spend time thinking about it or are you going to show that witch your true power? I’m sure Shiwasu will be amazed that you could defeat her by yourself. Why, I’m sure she’ll be happy that you can do this.’
‘…I don’t know…’
“Perfect!” The deep voice erupted from Yayoi’s throat and she let out another scream, clutching at her head. Her nails grew out even more, the tips razor sharp. Blood began slowly trickling down her face, caused by the two short, pointed horns that had grew out of the top of her head. Her wings slowly became tinted with red and her eyes had been fully enveloped by the blood-red mist. The scream faded away and Yayoi, or whatever she had become, smirked evilly at Patchouli, revealing her newly grown fangs. “I am reborn!”
“Wha-What happened?” Patchouli staggered backwards, wondering what had just happened. She barely had time to react when Yayoi was already in front of her, claws already slicing through her chest. ‘Aaagh, h-how?’
“Die, die, die! Hahahaha, nobody can stop me!” Yayoi laughed insanely, bringing in another clawed hand to stab Patchouli again. Before it could connect, another hand stopped her and Yayoi turned on the intruder, fury blazing in her eyes. “Who are you and what do you want?!”
“My, my. I know we just met once, but I thought you would remember me.” The silver-blue haired vampire kept her hold on Yayoi’s arm, smiling confidently as she looked at the outraged expression on the half-demon’s face. “Hmm…If I knew your blood contained this much power, I might have paid more attention to you. But for now, I don’t tolerate guests harming my servants.”
“Let go of me or else I’ll just kill you along with her!” Yayoi shouted, withdrawing her claw from Patchouli’s chest, the nails coating with blood. She swung it towards Remilia, who just stood there, watching with an enigmatic smile. “Prepare to die!”
“You see…” Remilia stopped Yayoi’s other attack with her other hand. “You cannot defeat me. The very path in front of you is decided by my hand. You can try to break through the hold, but fate will once again draw you within its fold. As the one who can manipulate fate, prepare to walk the road you were destined to travel!”
“Ugh…” Shiwasu’s eyes slowly opened and she gave a start as she saw an unfamiliar face staring at her. She winced as her wounds flared up and she squinted at the face, her eyes swelling with tears. “Who…Who are you?”
“I am the mistress of this mansion.” She walked up to the bed, looking at Shiwasu sternly. “You do realize your friend is a very dangerous person, don’t you? I would have killed her if she hadn’t fainted in the middle of her rampage.”
“Rampage?” Shiwasu said wonderingly, paling as she realized what Remilia meant. “Oh no…I thought that demon wasn’t active.”
“You sound like you know about this. Now tell me what happened, because that demon caused my friend a lot of pain.” Remilia sat down and folded her arms, watching Shiwasu. “Give me a good reason for not wiping her out right now.”
“She’s only snapped once…It was a long time ago, when she was a child.” Shiwasu grimaced, memories returning.
“Shiwasu! Shiwaasuuuu!” A young Yayoi wandered through the forest, looking through the trees for any sign of her friend. Only the wind answered her and she pouted slightly, upset. The childish part of her brain starting saying that Shiwasu was just playing a prank on her and it made her pout even more. She pushed through the forest a little more. “She just said she was going out to hunt…It doesn’t take this long.”
“Yayoi!” Shiwasu gasped, breaking through a group of bushes to see her young charge standing in front of her, curiosity in her eyes. Shiwasu cast a worried glance behind her and grabbed Yayoi’s arm. “What are you doing here?! I told you to stay in the cave!”
“You took so long and I got worried!” Yayoi replied petulantly. “Why are you covered with blood?”
“It’s nothing!” Shiwasu said hurriedly, grimacing as she felt more blood slide out of a wound in her leg. She heard crashing sounds behind her and she tried to speed up, only to trip over an underlying tree branch. She managed to keep Yayoi safe from harm, but she landed heavily on her stomach, the breath knocked from her lungs.
“Hahahaha! There she is! The Demon Wolf of Shuuyoujo!” Three humans, youkai hunters by the looks of it, burst on the scene, swords clutched in their hands. One of them pointed a sword at the fallen Shiwasu. “Look! It’s the perfect time! Let’s kill her now!”
“…” Shiwasu groaned, trying to stand up. She managed to balance on her hands, blood dripping out of the corner of her mouth. ‘Dammit…How could this happen? Defeated…by humans, no less. Tch, taking care of Yayoi has made me weaker…’
“H-Hey! What are you going to do to my friend?!” Yayoi shouted, putting her body in front of Shiwasu. She pierced the youkai hunters with her fiercest glare, although it honestly wasn’t that fierce. “You better not hurt her!”
“Aw, get the brat out of the way! We’ll kill her next if she turns out to be a youkai.” The second man swiped Yayoi away, positioning himself behind Shiwasu. He brought his sword down, his sword driving through Shiwasu’s back. She let out a gasp before collapsing onto the ground. The man just laughed and yanked out his sword. “Hahaha! Now for the girl!”
“Y-You killed my friend!” Yayoi shouted, her eyes overflowing with tears. “I…I’m going to kill you all!”
She let out a shout and she raised one hand, where her palm was inscribed with an intricate seal. Bringing up a sharp nail, she slashed her palm, letting the blood fall over the marked skin. There was a flash and the wound was healed, the blood disappearing from her hand. Yayoi pointed the hand at the three hunters, her lips curled in a murderous smile.
“You pushed her to the brink…so you three shall fall into the abyss!” Yayoi shouted in a deep voice as she ran towards the hunters.
It was over in less than a minute. Shiwasu, who was miraculously still alive, could only watch in growing horror as she watched Yayoi, the young girl she had raised, slaughter the humans. She felt sick to her stomach and she almost wished she had been dead so she wouldn’t have seen the horrible sight. Even now, Yayoi was standing on top of one of the corpses, the man’s heart clutched in her hand. With a maniacal laugh, she crushed it between her fingers.
‘N-No…I can’t believe this…What happened to her? She’s…she’s too strong.’ Shiwasu thought, frightened out of her wits. This girl, this nine year-old girl, was showing more power than she should really have. It was beyond anything that Shiwasu had seen. Even her own power couldn’t match up. It was like comparing the flatlands to the very mountain they lived in. She let out a pained moan, stiffening as she felt Yayoi’s attention draw to her.
“Oh, so you’re not dead. Well, I’ll fix that!” Yayoi shouted gleefully, walking towards Shiwasu.
‘Aaaah…What did I do wrong? Why did this happen?’ Shiwasu thought as she heard Yayoi step closer towards her. There wasn’t anything she could do to defend herself. All of her energy was spent.
However, the claw halted right above her neck. Yayoi was restraining her arm, preventing it from landing the killing blow. “No! You can’t kill her! She’s my friend!”
Yayoi let out another scream before she flashed again, collapsing unconscious next to Shiwasu.
“We got lucky. A wandering healer found us and nursed us back to health. He also took away the seal that allowed Yayoi to summon that…demon side of her. She had forgotten all about the incident when she had woken up. I assumed that it was gone forever. ” Shiwasu muttered, unhappy. “Guess I was wrong.”
“You sure were.” Remilia scolded. “Still, it seems that this demon only appears during times of great stress and worry. I assume that seal was just an easier way for Yayoi to draw into its power.”
She folded her arms and got off of the bed, looking suspiciously at Shiwasu. “I don’t know if I should keep her alive. This power only bespeaks of danger, especially since it seems this demon wouldn’t mind killing you.”
“…” Shiwasu looked at the bedsheets, her hands balling into fists. “Please…Don’t blame her. She was only trying to protect me.”
“And she nearly killed one of my servants.” Remilia said.
“But you don’t need to kill her, do you? There must be some way to seal the demon.” Shiwasu pleaded. “Maybe that miko from the shrine could do it?”
“Reimu?” Remilia asked thoughtfully. “It might be possible…and Patchouli said that she needed Reimu anyway. Very well. If this demon side can be sealed, I won’t kill her. If it can’t, Yayoi dies.”
“Thank you very much!” Shiwasu said gratefully.
“It’s just a good thing that her blood is so interesting. I wouldn’t bother otherwise.” Remilia said loftily as she left the room. Shiwasu sighed and looked down at the hands, marred with scars from numerous battles.
‘I need to become stronger…so that Yayoi will never have to call the demon again.’
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