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Impracticalities of Winter Season
This fanfic is Touhou fanfic by MaullarMaullar.
Girls do their best now and are preparing. Please watch warmly until it is ready.
Border land was invaded by strange visitors! This winter is perplexing season for girls.
Far to the East, over the horizon, lies a land long forgotten by the world. Gensokyo, as it has come to be called, was once a part of rural Japan. Over a century ago, the youkai-infested area was sealed away by priests. Since then, humans and youkai have coexisted in relative (allowing, of course, for a few danmaku a day) peace, the former shunning the technology of the outer world and learning magic instead. Of course, the seal on Gensokyo isn't perfect... especially when a certain youkai girl doesn't have enough to do.
A cherry-red sleigh tethered to nine reindeer sailed through the skies, a plump old man in red and white seated in its hull among piles of ornate parcels. As the sleigh passed over the snowy caps of some uninhabited mountains in Japan, its occupant, the smell of cookies heavy on his breath, sat back and decided to take a short breather. He had already delivered half the world's children their presents, and there was yet a minute or two until he reached another population (excluding houseboats,) after all.
He didn't even notice that the mountains below him were, suddenly, no longer those he had been flying over moments ago. That is, not until a startled youkai unleashed a barrage of magic blasts upon his sleigh. The old man yanked on the reins in panic, but his sleigh was not built for evasive maneuvers. Down went Dasher and Dancer, then Prancer and Vixen. With the loss of almost half of its team, the sleigh began to spin in air, its pilot desperately struggling to regain control. This only served to anger a number of indigenous fairies, who fired their own magic on the noisy intruders. Down went Cupid, then Comet, then Donner and Blitzen, and the cherry-red sleigh followed suit, barreling to the ground.
An attractive woman in a white and purple gown lowered her hand and, after taking a few seconds to survey the results of this exercise of her power, declared “I'm sleepy,” and walked back into her large, old-fashioned manor. Turning to a blonde girl with nine equally blonde fox tails, she asked whether her futon was ready.
“Yes, master Yukari, but you just got up half an hour ago—”
“Good night.” Letting her wavy blonde hair fall down her back, the woman lay on her futon and slept.
Far away from there, beyond a white-specked forest and a frozen lake, stood a blood-red Victorian-style mansion. A cute girl in a blue-and-pink maid outfit and a cheery scarf was approaching this mansion, a sack of groceries in her hands, when she almost tripped on a parcel half-buried in the snow. Setting her groceries aside, she looked down at the offending object, her two long silver braids dangling before her face. It was red and possessed a luster like metal, and it was tied shut with green and gold ribbon. The tag said nothing regarding the box's contents, only that it came from someone or something named “Santa.” Probably some careless youkai, the maid thought as she added the box to the groceries and took them indoors.
“What's this, Sakuya?” asked a young-looking, noticeably short, bat-winged girl in a pink dress.
“I don't know, Lady Remilia,” the maid answered, holding the parcel out for inspection. “I found it outside, lying in a field.”
“Well, it's obviously a package for somebody,” Remilia answered. “Let's take a look inside, shall we?”
“Wait, what about these strange colors?” Sakuya responded. “There could be something dangerous in there, like a bomb.”
“You're right.” Remilia took a pink, poofy cap and set it atop her blue, fluffy, shoulder-length hair. “Let's have someone dispensable open it.”
“Oh! For me?” asked a busty girl with long red hair, wearing a green beret and a matching green Chinese-style dress with a slit from the hem to the waist. As she wasn't wearing any leg coverings under her dress, and she was standing outside, she shivered a little as she talked.
“Yes, China. It's a gift for you,” Remilia answered with a smile that showed her two fangs.
“Thanks... but my name isn't China, it's Hong Meiling--” the redhead began to say.
“Just open it, China,” Sakuya interrupted as she backed away slowly along with her mistress.
“Ah, okay,” Meiling chirped, not noticing their movement. Firmly grasping the bow atop the parcel, the girl tore the packaging apart and opened the box inside. “Wow! It's a... shrunken horse's head on a stick?”
“That's a hobby horse,” Sakuya explained. “It's a toy that human children play with.”
“But what would a human toy be doing out here?” Remilia wondered aloud.
“Miss Sakuya!” another maid cut in, running toward the group. “The groundskeepers are reporting numerous discoveries of strange, brightly-colored parcels! Furthermore, some were even found on the roof!”
“Damn those insolent humans!” Remilia burst out. “Thinking they can just throw their trash wherever they want? Sakuya, go find the one responsible and punish him!”
“Yes, my lady,” Sakuya responded. “I'll be on my way after I go and get my scarf.”
“While you're in, could you get me a jacket or some pants or something?” Meiling asked, absently waving the hobby-horse in the air. “It's really cold out here.”
“Go back to guarding the door, China,” Sakuya called over her shoulder.
Sakuya rode the freezing wind, unperturbed despite her bare legs, her magic keeping her afloat. She could clearly see little colored specks peeking out from the snow; this problem was more dire than she had expected. Whoever was responsible for this act of littering must have been a very inconsiderate person indeed, she thought. Returning her gaze to the air, she noticed a girl with ankle-length light purple hair and a pair of crinkly bunny ears atop her head, wearing a schoolgirl's uniform and a scarf. There was no mistake who she was. Approaching the girl, Sakuya called out a greeting, “Good morning, Miss Reisen!”
Reisen's ears perked up upon hearing Sakuya's voice, then she turned to face her. “Oh... hello.”
“What brings you out here?”
“It's none of your business!” Reisen turned her red eyes away.
“You know something, don't you?” Sakuya drew two silver-bladed knives from seemingly nowhere.
“Since it's come to this...” Reisen turned to the maid, her eyes slightly aglow, and put her right hand into the shape of a gun. “I'll teach you a lesson in respecting others' privacy!”
The bunny-eared girl pointed her right hand at Sakuya and a wide spray of bullet-shaped magic blasts issued from her finger. They hit thin air.
“It's useless!” came Sakuya's voice from behind her. Reisen turned in surprise to see scores of knives flying at her. Reacting quickly, she barely managed to weave through the swarm, a few knives nicking her clothing. Before Sakuya could throw any more knives, Reisen counterattacked with another, far more powerful spray of magic blasts. Her shots lit up the sky, and neither combatant could see each other through the shimmering haze.
Sakuya, undaunted, flew forward into the veritable storm of magic fire, and as she did, the blasts' movement slowed to a crawl. Knowing that there was still danger even with her power, and that one wrong move could be fatal, she expertly navigated through her opponent's fire, now ducking one, now dodging another, until she was face-to-face with a bewildered Reisen.
“I’ll end this now,” Sakuya said flatly as a purple card appeared between the index and middle fingers of her outstretched left hand. “Shoukon – ‘Soul Sculpture!’”
Her eyes went from royal blue to a glowing crimson as the spell card’s magic surged through her body. Two of her knives came to her hands, and she unleashed a flurry of slashes upon her opponent. Reisen cried out with each heavy blow that struck her light frame. In seconds, it was over, and Reisen plummeted to the ground, her clothes torn, her body battered by hundreds of strikes.
Sakuya peered down at the bunny-eared girl lying still in the snow. “Hmm. Maybe I overdid it?”
Reisen groaned. Sharp aches wracked her body all over, and it felt like her arms and legs were being pulled on.
They were, she realized to her dismay as her vision regained focus and she looked over her shoulder. She was hogtied with her own scarf, dangling prone from a low tree branch.
“Don’t bother struggling, you’ll make your injuries worse,” came a familiar voice.
“You!” Reisen whipped her head to the side to face Sakuya. “Let me go!”
“You’re in no position to tell me what to do, especially since you wasted so much of my time being unconscious.”
“That was your fault!”
“Oh, how cruel.” Sakuya absently pushed Reisen and let the squirming moon rabbit swing a bit. “You’re out here to investigate the colored boxes as well, aren’t you?”
“What have you found out?”
“Why would I tell you?”
“I wonder how everyone back at the Scarlet Mansion would like some rabbit stew…”
“Fine, fine! I heard that someone in red and white was responsible.”
“Red-white, is it? I’ll look into this... you should go home.”
Sakuya took to the air again, heading toward the border of Gensokyo, ignoring the protests of “You forgot to untie me!” coming from behind her.
As Sakuya landed outside a modest shrine, she saw a youngish, black-haired girl drinking tea under a snow-laden eave. Her red and white shoulder-less dress remotely resembled the attire of a shrine maiden.
The girl in red and white noticed Sakuya and spoke first. “Oh, it’s you. What do you want?”
“I don’t suppose you would happen to know about those colored boxes that have been appearing everywhere?”
“Those?” She took a long sip of her tea. “A few of them turned up around here. I should clean them up sometime... maybe tomorrow.”
“Beating around the bush isn’t a good habit, red-white. Are you or are you not responsible for this mess?”
“First of all, it’s Reimu Hakurei, not ‘red-white,’” the tea-drinker responded with a glare. “Second, I’ve been drinking tea here all day. It’s too cold to go anywhere.”
She was right, Sakuya realized. There was no way this girl could be the culprit; she wasn’t the type to litter, let alone put so much effort into it, and besides, how could she have had so many toys in the first place? Cursing herself for not extorting more information from that bunny girl earlier, Sakuya began to walk off, disappointed.
A glittering green box winked against the thick snow. Nothing better to do, Sakuya thought as she picked it up and opened it. To her slight surprise, it wasn’t a hobby horse, nor any human toy she was familiar with. It was a connected series of heavily varnished wooden blocks with wheels on them.
The bell affixed to the doorframe tinkled and a wave of warmth swept over Sakuya’s face as she entered the antiques shop Kourindou.
A silver-haired, bespectacled man in a robe looked up at her. “Good morning, Miss Sakuya. Something you need?”
“Just information. Would you happen to know what this is?” Sakuya placed the wheeled blocks on the counter.
“That’s called a ‘toy train’ in the outer world. Notice the wheels—they’re for making it move more efficiently. It was probably used for self-massage; if you grip both ends—”
“The outer world... so my suspicion was correct. I’ll have to have a long talk with that weirdo youkai...”
The bell dingled again as a girl in a two-peaked cap walked in, dragging nine fox tails behind her. “Here’s your fuel, Mr. Rinnosuke,” the noticeably tired blonde said as she held up a canister of kerosene. “Master Yukari would’ve brought it herself, but she’s busy at the moment.”
“Busy putting an indent in her futon, no doubt,” Sakuya remarked.
The fox-tailed girl frowned. “Even if it’s true, you shouldn’t speak so lightly of my master.”
“I don’t tell lies, Miss Ran.”
“It’s still rude.”
“Anyway, I need to speak with your master.”
“Impossible. She needs her sleep.”
“Tell her it’s an urgent matter.”
“You’ll just have to wait.”
“This isn’t the sort of thing that can wait for days. If you won’t cooperate, I’ll just have to go and wake her up myself.”
Ran’s eyes narrowed. “You’ll have to get past this barrage first!”
Ran raised her hands and magic energy began to gather in her palms. The bespectacled man ducked quickly behind the counter, groaning about repair costs. Sakuya’s hands moved so quickly their motion was nearly imperceptible, and four knives, accelerated by time magic, lodged in Ran’s torso before she knew what was happening.
“Ouch!” Ran cried, plucking out the knives and throwing them to the floor. The injuries weren’t serious, but they hurt quite a bit.
Sakuya pointed another knife at her. “Don’t you know it’s rude to fight indoors?”
“You...! I’d better retreat...” Ran darted out the door and took to the skies, disappearing over the horizon in seconds.
Sakuya smirked as she calmly left the store. Ran wouldn’t be able to get away, no matter how fast she went. Speed was just a function of time, after all...
Ran alighted on the patio of a rustic manor on the border of Gensokyo and immediately fell to one knee, breathing heavily. She was rather surprised when a shoe pressed into her back, knocking her flat on her face.
“Thanks for leading me to Miss Yukari’s house,” Sakuya said, hopping off the fox-tailed girl’s back.
“Oh no... my master will be furious...”
Sakuya made her way to the innermost sanctum of the house, where she found a blonde woman curled up on a futon, sound asleep. She began to reach out to shake Yukari by the shoulder when something hit her from behind and she collapsed with a sigh.
A small girl with a cat’s ears and two cat tails stood above the fallen maid, an oversized mallet in her hands.
“Good job, Chen!” Ran said as she walked in.
The first thing Sakuya noticed was the splitting pain in her head. As she tried to rub her head, the second thing she noticed was that her hands were securely bound behind her back. She opened her eyes and quickly ascertained that she was hanging from an eave, dangling about a meter above a patio. The fox-tailed girl and the cat-tailed girl were standing before her.
“Awake already?” Ran looked only slightly surprised.
“Ugh... what are you trying to do?” Sakuya responded weakly.
“Nothing, except getting a troublemaker out of the way,” came the blonde’s response. “Don’t worry. We won’t kill you.”
“But Ran,” whined the short catgirl, “We haven’t had human in such a long time... I want at least a taste.”
With that, Chen took Sakuya’s left leg in her hands and opened her mouth to take a big bite. Sakuya would have none of that, and kicked out with her other leg, sending a stunned Chen to the floor. Chen raised her hands to her eyes and began to wail.
“How dare you do that to Chen!” Ran cried. She turned to her cat-tailed counterpart and attempted to soothe her, “There, there. Go inside and I’ll make you some chicken later.”
While the crying Chen retreated into the house, Ran turned back to Sakuya, clearly flustered. “You bitch! She could have been seriously hurt!” she cried, producing a length of rope and stringently binding the other girl’s ankles.
“I thought cats had nine lives,” Sakuya responded flatly, pulling at her bonds a bit.
“That’s enough out of you!” Ran withdrew a handkerchief from her pocket and, knotting it in the center, held it to her captive’s lips. Although Sakuya pulled away as much as she could, Ran managed to get the knot between her lips and, pulling the ends of the cloth taut, tied them together at the back of her head.
“Mmmmmph!” an indignant Sakuya mmmphed as Ran took her scarf.
With a “You can freeze to death out here for all I care,” Ran went indoors, scarf in hand.
Sakuya assessed the situation. Her ropes were well-tied and her spell cards and knives had almost certainly been taken. Even so, the situation was far from hopeless. With her space-altering magic, she carried so many knives on her person that they surely couldn’t have discovered them all. She squirmed for a few minutes until she felt cold steel.
Her bonds cut loose, Sakuya dropped gracefully to her feet and, shivering a little, pondered how she would go around retrieving her confiscated items. Her train of thought was abruptly cut short as she heard the crunch of snow under approaching footsteps. She retreated behind the corner of the house and waited. If the visitor intended trouble, it was definitely better to let the actual occupants of the house handle it.
“Ah, hello Youmu,” came Ran’s voice. “Did Miss Yuyuko want something?”
“Yes, she did,” came a female voice. “She was wondering if you could help her with...”
Sakuya, uninterested in their conversation, took the opportunity to sneak around the house and enter through the back. She felt like a thief, but she had no choice and besides, her maid uniform lent her a certain air of legitimacy. Stepping over a curled-up, sleeping Chen, she soon recovered her scarf, her spell cards and the remainder of her knives, and was passing through Yukari’s room on her way out when the sleeper stirred.
“Nnnn...” the blonde groaned as she slowly sat up on her futon, blinking. “Ran? Is that you?”
Sakuya froze. She could probably handle Yukari in her half-asleep state, but even a short fight could draw unwanted attention. Then again, fighting wasn’t the only way to take advantage of her drowsiness... “Yes, it’s me.”
“Is my...” She yawned. “...rice ready yet?”
“It’ll be another half-hour, Master Yukari. ...By the way, what do you know about the colored boxes that have been appearing everywhere?”
“Colored... boxes?” Another yawn. “Um, I think some gentleman I brought through dropped some.”
“Someone you brought into Gensokyo? Where is he now?”
“He fell into the... bamboo forest, was it?” Yukari blinked heavily a couple more times. “Why do you ask?”
“Um... no reason. Go back to sleep.”
“Well, I am sleepy...” Yukari rested her head back on her pillow and, within moments, was snoring lightly.
Sakuya was flying at a good pace to Gensokyo’s bamboo forest when she noticed colored flashes in and above a nearby field. Approaching carefully, she saw that some fairies were fighting with a group of diminutive, pointy-eared men wearing bright green and red. Some new sort of youkai? Whoever they were, she decided, they were obviously out of place, and needed a lesson in respecting nature.
As the last fairy burst into ether with a snap, the short men began to celebrate when several of their number abruptly keeled over, knives stuck in their backs. The survivors looked around, bewildered, for a moment, before realizing that the attacks had come from that flying maid over there...
For about half a minute, the field was ablaze with the wild light of magic blasts and the flash of flying blades, then, following one last scream, all was quiet. Just as Sakuya finished recollecting her thrown knives, a girl’s voice addressed her from behind.
“To defeat my entire squadron so quickly... you’re really something.”
Sakuya turned, knife in hand, and saw a rather short young woman also wearing loud greens and reds. “Oh... it was nothing.”
“What business do you have attacking my men?”
“Men? They were rather short for men.”
“Elves, technically, and you’ve cut them even shorter.”
“At least they’ll be able to fit more of them in heaven.”
“Anyway, are you affiliated with the people who attacked Santa?”
“Santa? Is that the person who’s been dropping all those boxes?”
“So you do know something!”
“I know many things. For instance, the salad fork goes on the outside, then the dinner fork, then the dessert fork.”
“Funny. But let’s see how confident you are after this!”
The short girl gathered magic in her clasped hands for a second, then they opened and a swarm of lustrous ribbons in green and red issued forth in Sakuya’s general direction.
“What are you trying to do?” Sakuya remarked as she flung knife after knife, her hands a blur. The ribbons, severed at their bases, fell limp to the ground, but more and more came forward to replace them, faster than the stream of knives could cut them down.
Some ribbons arced toward Sakuya, then some more, and she soon found herself dodging frantically while attempting to keep up her assault. A ribbon wrapped around her right arm, only to be quickly cut loose; two more seized her left arm and were cut loose as well, but in that split-second window, a considerable number of ribbons had made it away from their master intact, and they all converged on the hapless maid...
Sakuya’s arms were lashed behind her back, held fast by multitudes of ribbon. Her legs similarly immobilized and spread shoulder-width, she hung in the air, struggling in vain. Being captured twice in one day was terribly inconvenient.
“I’ll only ask this once,” the obviously irritated elf said. “Where is Santa?”
“Why would I tell you—“ Sakuya yelped as her bonds suddenly and sharply tightened, then relaxed a little. “I heard he was in the bamboo forest.”
The ribbons disappeared and Sakuya fell to the snow. She got to her feet and watched her assailant fly off. There was no need to hurry to catch up with her, though; anyone would get lost in that forest.
Sakuya expertly navigated the snow-capped bamboo stalks, having been to the forest before. It wasn’t long before she spied a hint of red; she approached and found herself in a clearing, where an odd sight met her eyes.
A large old man in red and white lay sprawled on the snow, trapped under an overturned sleigh, among large piles of colored boxes. “Help!” he called, reaching out a hand to the maid.
“Santa, I presume?” Sakuya responded.
“Yes! Help, I can’t feel my legs!”
Sakuya drew two knives. “Don’t worry. In a moment, you won’t feel anything at all.”
Santa’s eyes widened. “What is this?!”
“I’m sorry, but my mistress’s orders are clear. You must suffer the penalty for littering Gensokyo with your boxes.”
“Wait! It was never my intention to drop them—I was attacked! These are gifts for children!”
“Yes, every year I distribute gifts to all the good children in the world.”
Sakuya hesitated. This man wasn’t a bad person, he hadn’t meant anyone any harm, and yet here she was, ready to strike him down.
In some ways, she thought, she was still a child herself. “...Fine. I’ll help you out.”
“That should be the last one,” Sakuya said as she placed a parcel atop the heaping pile in the back of the sleigh.
“Thank you, Sakuya,” Santa replied, patting the head of one of the heavily bandaged reindeer tethered to his vehicle. “Without you, I’d be in a real jam.”
“By the way... how can you deliver all these in one night?”
“You think you’re the only magic-user here?” Santa said with a wink. “I didn’t prepare a gift for you, but here’s a token of my appreciation, anyway.”
Sakuya caught the red-and-white stocking cap and, hesitating a little, put it on. It was a little big for her, but warm and comfortable nonetheless.
“I’ll be on my way, then,” the now hatless Santa said. “Ho, ho, ho!”
Remilia was satisfied to hear that the culprit was “no longer with us.” She was even happier to receive a new red nightcap, and Sakuya couldn’t be happier with that. Meiling, by the way, never did figure out what exactly to do with her hobby-horse, but was happy all the same.
Reisen’s master forgave her, and quickly cured the cold she had caught from being tied up outdoors for several hours.
Reimu drank tea and stared at the sky all day. She never did get around to cleaning up the presents, but they were recovered anyway.
Rinnosuke acquired many outer-world artifacts for his store. Even so, his business remained as slow as ever...
Chen ate happily and forgot about the events of earlier that day. Ran was glad to see her smile.
The elves eventually found their way out of the bamboo forest, and later Gensokyo. Unfortunately, by the time they did, it was March already.
Santa successfully delivered his presents, then returned to the North Pole for a stout drink of whiskey.
Through all these events, Yukari slept...
Good Ending No. 3
Thanks for Reading!
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