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Dual Strife - Epilogue

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Return to Fiction by Valesta


Time passes. The seasons change from summer to autumn. All around Gensokyo, many leaves of various colors begin to fall.

A slightly cool gust of wind blows through the Hakurei Shrine, waking Reimu up. She and Marisa were both given invitations to Scarlet Devil Mansion. Although, Reimu doesn’t always enjoy Remilia’s company in particular, she decides to accept, if only to briefly break out of the day-to-day norm. She gets dressed and heads outside. From the hill on which her shrine stands, Reimu looks out to the countryside, which she has a great view of. However, something does not seem quite right with the view she sees, “Hm? I can’t put my finger on it… but if feels like something is… missing…” The miko notices the day’s issue of Bunbunmaru Newspaper lying on her front walkway, but she decides to disregard it for the time being, as she’s about to head out anyway.

She flies in the direction of the mansion, over the lake surrounding the island. Along the way, she hears a familiar voice from behind, “Heeeeey~! Reimu!”

Reimu turns around and sees Marisa, riding her broomstick, approach, catching up with her, “Ah! Hey, Marisa! It looks like you decided to accept your invitation as well?”

Marisa’s eyes trail off to the side, “Well, yeah. I don’t really want to see Flandre, but I was planning on ‘borrowing’ some books from there anyway, so here I am. What about you, Reimu? I’d think you’d have slept on it.”

“I don’t know. I guess I just felt like it. By the way…” Reimu looks out at the countryside, beyond the shore of the lake, “Don’t you think something is off about that view?”

Marisa looks out with Reimu, “Now that you mention it, yeah…” Marisa looks at the horizon, where several mountains stand, “Something certainly does seem a little off.”

Reimu sighs, “Figures… So it’s not just me.”

Marisa puts her hand on Reimu’s shoulder, “Let’s not worry about it. It’s probably nothing.”

Reimu nods, “Yeah, I guess I’m overanalyzing it…” The two girls continue toward Scarlet Devil Mansion, which comes into sight after a few minutes of flying.

During their final approach, Marisa asks Reimu, “Can you believe it? It’s almost been a year since that incident when Remilia covered Gensokyo in that mist.”

“It’s hard to believe,” acknowledges Reimu, “It feels longer than that, but then again, so did the ‘Spring Essence’ incident and the ‘Lunatic Moon’ incident. Since then, we’ve become friends with our former enemies.”

“True.”

Reimu and Marisa reach the front gate, where Meiling stands guard. Marisa greets, “Hiya, Hong! We’re here to party!”

Meiling sighs and says, “Just call me ‘Meiling,’ alright? Can I see your invitations? I can’t let you in without them.”

Marisa flashes her invitation, “Here! Now you can’t say that I snuck past you!”

The doorguard turns her attention to Reimu, “How about you?”

Reimu flinches, “Um… er… I forgot to bring it. I thought you would just let us in since, y’know, we were invited and everything…”

Meiling stands with her arms crossed in front of her, “Sorry, but no can do. I must see the proof that you were invited.”

Reimu asks, “Is Remilia actually gonna ask you if you checked us for our invitations?”

Meiling’s stance loosens, “Proably not, actually. Besides, Remilia-sama would pitch a fit if I didn’t let you in, invitation or not… Alright. You may both come in. Just don’t mention this to anyone, okay?”

“I won’t,” responds Reimu.

“We’ll take it to the grave with us,” says Marisa.

Meiling allows Reimu and Marisa to pass and they enter the mansion. In the lobby, rows of fairy maids, lined up to the left and right, from the door to the center staircase, and Sakuya, at the staircase in the back, between the lines, bow and greet at the same time, “Welcome to Scarlet Devil Mansion. We are eager to serve your every need.” However, only Sakuya sounded sincere in her statement.

Marisa raises her fist in the air, “Hell yeah, we’re here and you all better do as I say!”

Reimu covers her face with her palm, “I hate being put on the spot like this…”

All the other maids scatter and attend to their respective businesses. Reimu and Marisa walk up to Sakuya, “How are you doing, Sakuya?”

Sakuya answers, “Very good, thanks. Returning to my duties here is a good way to stop thinking about what Eirin told me about my past. Everything seems to be the way it was… except…”

Reimu raises an eyebrow, “Hm?”

“Outta my way!” Sakuya is suddenly pushed to the side by Remilia, who looks at Reimu with a sadistically happy expression, “Welcome, Reimu! I’m glad you could make it!”

Marisa says, “I’m here too.”

Remilia glances at Marisa and says half-heartedly, “Oh, thanks for coming. Hi.” She turns her attention back to the miko, “It rare that I see you here. I should invite you more often.”

Reimu rubs the back of her head, “It’s really quite okay…”

Marisa, somewhat insulted by Remilia’s greeting to her, is suddenly tackled and knocked to the ground, “Oh, you made it, Marisa! I’m so happy! You’re mean, you know, not taking the time to visit me, even once.”

Marisa looks up at her ‘attacker’: “F-Flandre?”

Flandre hugs the witch tightly, “Ah! You remember my name!”

“Who could possibly forget?” Marisa meant it in a half-durogatory sense, but Flandre doesn’t notice. The younger vampire sister happily rubs her head against Marisa’s neck. Marisa says nervously, “Flandre… Could you not bring your head anywhere near my neck? It’s… unsettling…”

“Oh, okay.” Flandre grabs Marisa’s arm.

“N-n-now what are you doing?”

Flandre looks at Marisa innocently, “You don’t mind if I… you know…?” Flandre opens her mouth and prepares to bite Marisa’s arm.

Marisa futily tries to break free, “AHHHHHH! Please! Someone! Get her off me!”

“Flandre!” says Remilia sternly, making her sister stop what she was doing, “Treat our guests nicely.”

Flandre pouts, “Okay…” She gets off Marisa.

The witch gets back to her feet, “Well, then… if you don’t mind, I’m going to check out the library.” Marisa takes a few steps in the direction of the mansions’s library.

“If you take one more step in that direction, I will kill you.” In a tone of voice, considerably less-threatening than her words, Patchouli steps into the lobby.

Marisa stops in her tracks, “OH! Um… Hey, Patch.”

“It’s Patchouli,” says the librarian flatly.

Marisa makes a stern expression, “Well, I’m still calling you Patch. It’s your fault for having such a long name.”

“It’s not my fault.”

“Well, I’m still blaming it on you.”

“ANYway,” Remilia cuts in, “Let’s try to be good hosts, okay? Now… what would you like to eat?”

Reimu shrugs, “I really don’t care.”

Marisa says, “Can’t think of anything.”

Sakuya suggests, “Shall we make them some cake, Remilia-sama?”

Remilia claps her hands together, “Splendid idea, Sakuya. How does cake sound?”

“Sounds as good as anything,” says Reimu.

Remilia nods her head in satisfaction, “Then it’s settled. Wait in a guest room.”

“Okay…” Reimu and Marisa, followed by Flandre and Patchouli, walk into the nearest guest room.

Sakuya says, “Well then, I’ll get to work on the cake.”

Remilia glares at the maid, “Make your own cake! I’LL be making a cake for Reimu, made with ALL my love!”

Sakuya glances at her mistress, “Er… Remilia-sama? Do you even know how to make cake?”

Remilia puts her hand on her chest confidently, “I’ve lived for over 500 years. You tend to learn things in that time. Of course I know how.”

“I feel strange asking this… but should I leave the cooking to you, Remilia-sama?”

Remilia smirks, “No, Sakuya. YOU are making a cake too. I’ll show you how much deeper my love is by making a better cake!”

Sakuya puts her hand on her forehead, “Whatever you say, my mistress…”

So the vampire and her servant head to the kitchen and make separate efforts in baking their cakes. During that time, Sakuya notices Remilia adding a ‘questionable’ ingredient to her batter, “Um, Remilia-sama? I don’t think that…”

“Shut up, Sakuya!” snaps Remilia, “I’m trying to concentrate!”

“Yes, mistress…”

Finally, the two of them finish baking their cakes and bring their creations to the guest room, where Reimu, Marisa, Flandre, and Patchouli are waiting patiently. Remilia and Sakuya both walk in, carrying their cakes, both covered with white frosting, on trays, which they place on a table at the center of the room, which everyone is sitting around.

Marisa looks at Remilia, “Why two cakes?”

“Because one couldn’t possibly feed everyone,” Remilia lies.

Sakuya draws a knife, cuts a small slice from her cake, and puts in on a decorative dish from the middle of the table, which she hands to Reimu, “I hope you enjoy it.”

“Me too,” Reimu eats the piece and her face lights up, “Delicious! This is very good, Sakuya!”

Sakuya face lights up as well and she bows, “Thank you.”

Remilia says, “Whatever. Now try mi_”

Flandre reaches over, takes a handful out of Remilia’s cake, and eats it, “Yummy! I didn’t know you could make such a great cake, sister!”

Remilia strikes a prideful pose, “Well, Flandre likes it. Now let’s see how you like it, Reimu.” Sakuya cuts a piece out of Remilia’s cake and hands it to the miko.

Reimu looks at the cake, under the frosting, which is pink, “Um… This doesn’t look right…”

“C’mon!” yells Flandre, “It’s GOOD! My sister worked hard on it, so you’d better eat it!”

“Er…” Reimu eats her piece, which tastes strange to her human mouth, “Um… Remilia…? This tastes like metal…”

Remilia flinches at Reimu’s reaction, “Is that bad?”

Trying to be nice, Reimu replies, “N-no… It’s just unusual…”

Afterward, the girls talk about various things, like the adventures they went on, among others. The hours fly by and night arrives.

As Reimu, Marisa, Sakuya, Remilia, and Flandre reflect on and talk about their adventure nearly a year ago, Patchouli, who is reading the day’s issue of Bunbunmaru Newspaper, says, “That’s interesting…”

Marisa turns in the youkai witch’s direction, “What is?”

Patchouli reads from the newspaper, “’Since early last night, one of Gensokyo’s largest mountains, Youkai Mountain, known as the home of several youkai, including the kappa, had mysteriouly vanished. All that remains in its stead is a large lake. No one knows what became of this mountain, and it may become one of the biggest mysteries in this land’s history.’”

Reimu’s eyes widen, “So that’s why I felt something was missing! Youkai Mountain is among the places I see on the horizon from my shrine!”

Marisa puts her hand on her head, “How the fuck do you lose a mountain?”

Flandre, taking Marisa’s side, says, “Yeah! How the fuck do you lose a mountain?”

Remilia glances at her sister, “Language, Flandre. But yes, this is out of the ordinary…”

“I wonder what happened,” says Sakuya.

--

Elsewhere, on the top of a cliff, overlooking a massive body of water, two figures stand. One is a woman with poofy blue hair and red eyes, wearing a red dress with a mirror on the chest portion and a large rope on her back with papers hanging from it. The other is a girl with long green hair, tied into a ponytail down the side of her face, which has a snake-like accessory coiled around it, wearing a white and blue miko outfit. The second girl holds a small bag at her side.

Suddenly, from the water below, a third figure jumps out and flies up to the cliff where the two other figures stand. She has blue eyes and blue hair, which is tied into two pigtails. She wears a green hat on her head, a light-blue dress, and a dark blue backpack.

The first figure asks, “How does it look, Nitori? Do you think you can do it?”

The third figure, Nitori, gives a reassuring thumbs-up, “Easily! It may take roughly a month, but it can be done, Kanako-sama!” She looks that the second figure, “Oh… and Sanae-sama? Can I…?”

The second figure, Sanae smiles, “Of course!” She tosses her bag to Nitori, who pulls a cucumber out of it and wildly eats it.

“Thank you!” says Nitori, “I’ll do everything you request of me, as long as you keep giving me cucumbers this good!”

“We really appreciate it,” says Sanae.

Nitori dives back down to the water below.

The first figure, Kanako, says, “Soon, Sanae, we will come to power and bring a new world order to this godless land. I hope you are prepared.”

Sanae responds, “Yes, Yasaka-dono.”

--

Elsewhere, on a hill with many white flowers, where purple pollen fills the air, a girl, short in height, at only about 4 feet, with silver eyes and yellow hair, wearing a red and black dress, looks in the direction Youkai Mountain used to stand. Her most noticable attribute, however, is that her joints look unnatural, even artificial, “I wonder what happened to that mountain…”

“Oh, Medicine… Like you should care about all those little details, as you never leave this place.” Another girl approaches Medicine. She has red eyes and shoulder-length green hair, wearing a red dress and white blouse, carrying a parasol.

Medicine turns in the direction of the other girl excitedly, “Ah! Yuka! You came to visit me!”

The other girl Yuka, says, “Well, I AM the only one who can, in a place like this. So tell me, how are you doing, Medicine Melancholy?”

Medicine shrugs, “Same as usual. By the way, I thought about those stories you told me… you know about the outside world, about THOSE…”

“Go on…” Yuka awaits where Medicine is going.

“I was thinking that just maybe…”

Yuka listens to what Medicine had to say, pauses, then laughs maniacally, “HYAHAHA! Oh, I LOVE it, Medicine! Such an evil little mind!”

Medicine protests, “It’s not evil! It’s…”

Yuka pats Medicine on the shoulder, “Oh, don’t worry about it. I can most certainly help with granting your wish. I have to do some things, but it can happen! After all, you have Gensokyo’s STRONGEST youkai on your side! There’s nothing I can’t do!

(To be continued in Phantasmagoria of Flower View…)

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