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Mercy of the Blossoming Self - Chapter 4

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Return to Fiction by Valesta


Stage 4: Source

After being defeated by Marisa in a heated battle, Alice Margatroid points out a trail of cherry blossoms falling from the sky. Following that mysterious lead, Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya fly to higher ground, finding themselves in an aerial passage, leading to an unknown destination. Up above, things are far different from the frozen nightmare below, however…

“It’s... warm,” notes Sakuya. At least compared to the outside of the passage; It is well over 40 degrees where they are.

“Yeah,” agrees Reimu, “it sure feels more like spring… but not quite. There are still snowflakes, but blossoms are mixed in with it…” A strange sight, as there shouldn’t be any snowflakes in the temperature they are in.

“This is so bizarre…” says Marisa, “This completely defies physics as we know it…”

Sakuya looks ahead, “Hm?”

Three fairies quickly zoom in from the distance, dressed the same as the others that contained essence. They shoot small bullets of energy at Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya, who react, by spreading out, avoiding the shots. Sakuya tosses a knife at one fairy, Reimu tosses a needle at the second, and Marisa destroyed the third with a small magical laser. All three fairies burst, and from those small explosions, petals fall. The trio scoops up the petals from the respective fairies they destroyed.

“More essence,” says Reimu, “but why is it being carried by these fairies anyway? What made it like this?”

“It certainly is an unusual container,“ comments Sakuya, “But when you think about it, why didn’t spring’s thief get all the essence all at once? Rather, it was scattered, due to these low-level fairies…”

“True,” says Marisa, “that may be a way of looking at it. It seems kinda shitheaded to not take all of it if you can. It sounds logical…”

“Still,” says Reimu, “We won’t know for sure, until we get to the bottom of it all. Guessing won’t solve this problem…”

“True enough,” says Sakuya with a slight smile, “’Actions DO speak louder than words,’ after all…”

Marisa smirks, “I like that saying! When I find who took spring away, he will know how ‘loud’ my actions can speak!”

Reimu smiles, “Heh… good to know you’re on our side, Marisa!”

They continue to ascend higher and higher. Sakuya reflects on the bad feeling she felt shortly before confronting Alice, What was that? It was like… something telling me that bad things are happening elsewhere, in a way that concerns me. I should write it off as superstition, but… She recalls Flandre and how she can lose control if agitated by something, Is that it? Could Flandre be reaching the breaking point? It will be a disaster if she escapes the mansion again, just like nine months ago… She glances at Reimu and Marisa, thanks to them, she was pacified and Remilia-sama took her home… but I can’t count on another miracle from them. They aren’t even around the mansion! I pray that feeling meant nothing, but if it’s a reminder of bad things to come, I must not dawdle in completing this mission!

“Hey! Sakuya! Where are you going?” Sakuya snaps from her thoughts and back to reality by Reimu’s voice. She looks back and sees Reimu and Marisa several feet behind her, “What’s the big rush?”

“Oh! Well, I…”

“You just sped ahead all the sudden!” informs Marisa, “Not that I blame you! If Miss Miko here would pick up the pace, we’d be much further ahead!”

Reimu yawns and says, “Excuse me for not having a fast broom!”

Sakuya slows down and shakes her head, “It’s nothing. Absolutely nothing. I’m just anxious to get spring back! Our season is long overdue. It’s soon within grasp. We SHOULD be going faster…” A half truth. Sakuya does want spring back, but that reasoning is only secondary to the aversion of the abnormalities and impending chaos occurring back at Scarlet Devil Mansion.

Reimu, lacking the speed of Marisa and Sakuya, tries to fly faster, “I… don’t want to slow you down! I’ll try to do better!”

As they press on, the temperature goes from bearable to pleasant, now around 50 degrees. Marisa sheds the scarf she was wearing, “ALRIGHT! This is what I’m talking!”

Reimu and Sakuya look and see that the mix of snowflakes and petals has been reduced to just petals. Shortly after that revelation, there is a white flash and everything becomes brighter. A few feet ahead of them, a fairy, larger than most fairies, Cirno included, materializes. She wears a white dress, with red highlights, and has light brown hair.

“Who the fuck?” asks Marisa.

“She looks different than other fairies,” notes Sakuya.

The fairy says, “Greetings. My name is Lily White. I am known as the herald of spring! What brings you to this area?”

“Herald of spring?” asks Sakuya.

“That’s great!” exclaims Reimu, “Could you go herald spring where spring is SUPPOSED to be?”

“That I cannot,” answers Lily, “I only exist where spring is, I don’t have control over where or when it happens.”

Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya sigh in disappointment.

“So what brings you here?” asks Lily.

Sakuya answers, “We have come to find out what happened to our spring and get it back.”

Lily backs away, “I see! I understand, but my first priority is to defend my season, regardless of where it happens! Begone, you thieves!”

“Hey! We don’t want trouble!” yells Reimu.

Lily spreads her arms, and from behind her, several pink petals, like the ones fluttering around, appear, then fly toward Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya.

Marisa scoffs, “Petals? Are you serious?”

Reimu says, “There’s gotta be more to it than that! We’d best not take this lightly!”

The three of them dodge the storm of petals, though one of them grazes Marisa’s leg. She touches her wound and looks at her hands, seeing that blood was drawn, “Damn! They are as sharp as razors! You’re right, Reimu! We shouldn’t be fucking around!”

Lily smiles, “Wow~ Nice dodge~ However, do you think you can handle all of this?” Sakuya looks around and sees that around them, above them, and below them, they are completely surrounded by Lily White’s petals. Reimu and Marisa soon notice as well.

“Not good!” exclaims Reimu, “This time we’ll be ripped to shreds!”

Sakuya draws a spell card, “Speak for yourself. Just be glad you have me to deal with such situations…” She raises the spell card, “Illusion Image!” The card turns to silver energy that surges into Sakuya’s body, amplifying her ability to control time. Everything around her turns to black and white, and all becomes still and silent. Using an added effect of the spell card, Sakuya reaches into a subspace and pulls out several knives, all tucked between her fingers. Her eyes scan the locations of Lily’s petals, then, acting accordingly, moves her arms and releasing knives, which hang in the frozen void of time. She releases all the knives and they are aimed in preparation to intercept the petals, which were quickly closing in. She unfreezes time, “Luna Clock!” The knives fly outward, like a starburst, and cut through all of Lily’s petals, which fall down to the clouds below harmlessly.

“Ah!” Lily prepares to make more petals.

“Oh no, you don’t!” Marisa flies her broom toward Lily and goes knee-first into her gut.

“ACK!” Lily doubles over coughing.

“Now it’s my turn!” Reimu prepares to toss several needles at Lily.

“No! Stop it… You win…” Lily coughs out.

“Man…” mutters Reimu, “And I was about to look good too…”

The three of them fly past Lily. Sakuya says, “Just don’t get in our way…” she turns to Reimu and Marisa, “Let’s go!”

“Hold on!” Lily calls after them, “I was only trying to keep you with interfering with the season, as per my duty, but you’ve proven that I cannot stop you. I can give you information! Please ask me anything!” Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya stop.

“Fine,” says Marisa, “Answer us this then: Who is behind this?”

Lily pauses and says, “I… I honestly don’t know. I only exist where the season is. I have absolutely no business with whoever caused this…”

Marisa sighs, “For someone offering to answer us some questions, you aren’t turning out to be very useful…”

“Why is spring up in the sky?” asks Sakuya, “while winter is going on several feet below?”

Lily answers, “This is only the border of the season, and spring’s essence around here is not particularly potent, to tell the truth. The main portion is not even in this realm. Further ahead, there is a gate that leads out of this realm and into the next. That is where it all emanates from. That’s all I can tell you about that.”

Sakuya closes her eyes and says in a satisfied tone of voice, “So that’s where we must go? A different realm? This is getting interesting…”

Reimu pulls some of the essence she got from the destroyed fairies out of her pocket, “Lily White, why are the fairies carrying this stuff? I hear it’s the essence of spring, but why was it being carried by fairies and brought to where winter is?”

Lily holds out her hand, “Please let me have that.”

“Oh… kay…” Reimu shrugs and hands her essence to Lily, who holds it up high. The orb shifts around, taking a shape, which turns into a fairy, wearing a blue dress.

Marisa shrieks in surprise, “That’s one of those fairies!” The fairy turns its attention toward Marisa and makes an angry face, “Um… Why is it looking at me like that?”

Lily says, “It has no powers of distinction and attacks anything it wants. Destroy it. I already made my point.”

“Okay!” responds Marisa delightfully. As the fairy is about to fire a magical shot at Marisa, she extends her index finger, and fires a magical laser at the fairy, who is pieced through the midsection and explodes, “YEAH! Take that, you fairy fuck!” Marisa rides over to where the fairy was, scoops up the essence that tumbled out, and returns to her original location.

“So you’re the one who made those fairies?” asks Reimu.

“That is correct,” answers Lily, “Spring’s border was weakened somehow. In order to keep spring from prematurely starting as a result, I turned all the essence into fairies. However, the drawback is, spring would not start without a decent amount of essence…”

“What does that mean?” asks Sakuya.

“That means, the essence that is elsewhere… in the other realm, would have to be returned to Gensokyo in order for the essence still contained in fairies to usher spring. When the border was weakened, someone came and stole most of the essence. The preserve the rest, I spread it across Gensokyo in the form of fairies, but there’s not enough to be sustained to deliver a true spring. What you need to end winter lies ahead, at the end of this passage!”

“We’ll take care of it!” reassures Reimu, “Leave it to us! We’ll get that essence back!”

“Thank you,” says Lily, “and please be careful! What lies beyond is unknown, nor do I know what the spring essence is being used for.”

“Sure thing!” Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya fly ahead, with their question answered.

=========================

Meanwhile at Scarlet Devil Mansion, Patchouli’s assistant, Koakuma, searches the library for a certain book, but to no avail.

Nearby, Patchouli asks, “Have you found it yet, Koakuma?”

“No,” answers Koakuma, “I’ve been a librarian for as long as I can remember, and I know where every single tome is, yet it’s missing!”

Hovering above, Meiling asks, “Where was it supposed to be?”

Koakuma points to a spot on one of the shelves, “Right here!”

Meiling drops down and checks the case, only to see no book. She suddenly notices that not all the books in that row are standing up straight, “Um… There’s a missing space. Could it have been stolen?”

“That would make sense,” answers Koakuma.

Patchouli puts a hand on her chin, “Who could have stolen that book? Marisa Kirisame…? No… not her… She only takes books related to magic and living… she seems to have little interest in lore, but who else could have taken it…?”

“At any rate, it’s missing,” says Koakuma, “I’m terribly sorry.”

“It’s not your fault,” says Patchouli, “We’ll just have to deal with it.” With that Koakuma walks away.

“So it’s gone,” moans Meiling, “Enough suspense! Just what was that missing book about?”

Patchouli answers, “It’s been a long time since I’ve read it, but it was an ancient tome about a tree… a youkai tree…”

“Wow…” says Meiling amazed, “A youkai tree…”

“Yes. It sucked the life from the land, but was eventually sealed.”

“So what does that have to do with the essence?” asks Meiling.

“Spring essence, albeit an astronomical amount, can unseal it.”

“All that spring essence, and our season, just for THAT?” Meiling runs a hand through her hair, “Whatever. Studying isn’t getting us anywhere. We are just killing time, right?”

Patchouli glares at Meiling, “’Killing time,’ as you put it, is the only way I know how to live.”

“Hey! I wasn’t trying to upset you, Patchouli, but I hope Sakuya is getting somewhere. If she is on the right track, we’ll have spring back and you’ll have your answers!”

Patchouli smiles, “I can’t complain about an added benefit like that. I hope she’s gotten somewhere in her investigation as well.”

=========================

No more than a half hour passes until Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya float in front of something that’s out of the ordinary: A large stone gate. Standing before it are four pillars that extend above the clouds. Right in front of the gate is…

“A barrier? Son of a bitch!” responds Marisa to the situation right in front of them, “This is so typical!”

Reimu floats silently, looking at and observing the barrier. Finally, she notices something and starts laughing, “Hmhmhm… Heheheh… Hahaha!”

“What’s so funny?” asks Marisa, “Can’t you see we’re in a pickle here?”

“No, we are not,” says Reimu, “It’s strange that there is a barrier here, much less a door…”

Sakuya glances at Reimu, “Hm?”

Reimu explains, “This barrier is not as big as the door, and I see a small space above the door itself, leading into a darker space… Ha! Just who the hell thought of this?”

Marisa and Sakuya fly upward to where Reimu mentioned, with Marisa saying, “At any rate, we found a way through, so let’s go!”

“Yeah!” Reimu follows Marisa and Sakuya, but soon pauses, “Huh?”

“What’s wrong?” asks Marisa.

“I sense something! We are not alone!” Reimu looks around.

“Aw… One of them can actually DO that?”

“Damn! So much for our little ambush!”

“It doesn’t matter. We’re more than good enough to handle this head on, I believe…”

Three voices are heard from above. Soon after, their owners descend into view. All three of them are girls in strange outfits, complete with odd-looking hats, and hold different musical instruments.

One of them is dressed in black, has short blonde hair, and carries a violin and bow.

Another is dressed in red, has short brown hair, and a keyboard floats in front of her.

The third is dressed in white, has long wavy blue hair, and holds a horn in one hand.

Reimu looks at the three odd girls strangely, “Who the hell are you guys?”

“Lunasa,” answers the black-clad girl.

“Merlin,” answers the one in white.

“Lyrica,” answers the girl wearing red.

Lunasa picks up, “Altogether we are the Poltergeist Musical Performance Ensemble, the Prismriver Sisters!”

Lyrica explains, “Beyond that door, lies the Netherworld.” “Neh… Netherworld?” asks Marisa.

“Indeed,” says Merlin, “The land of the dead. As such, it is off limits to the living.”

“Too bad,” says Reimu, “’cause we’re going in anyway! We see a way in, and nothing is going to stop us from getting spring back.”

“Ah!” All three Prismriver Sisters gasp at the same time.

Lunasa, in disbelief, asks, “A-are you saying you wish to interrupt the big flower-viewing event?”

Reimu, wondering what Lunasa means, says, “Flower-viewing, riiiiiight… Well if that’s what it takes, sure.”

The sisters assume stances like they are about to play their respective instruments. Lyrica declares, “You will not do such a thing! We will stop you!”

Marisa smirks, “Ha! You’re welcome to try, Bitch Sisters!”

The Prismriver Sisters, charge in Marisa and Sakuya’s direction, but Reimu, who is closer, gets between them, arms spread, and says, “Marisa! Sakuya! The two of you go on ahead! I’ll handle things here!”

“What?” yell Marisa, Sakuya, and the Prismriver Sisters at the same time.

“You’ll be outnumbered!” yells Sakuya.

“Aw…” complains Lyrica, “I was hoping for an epic 3-on-3 struggle…”

“I can handle this!” declares Reimu, “Spring is within our grasp, so don’t waste time here! I will catch up, so don’t worry!”

Marisa pauses and says, “… … … Fine. I think you can handle them. Let’s go Sakuya.”

Sakuya looks at Reimu and says, “Yeah. Fine. Let’s go.” Marisa and Sakuya fly over the door and into the Netherworld.

“Ah! They’re getting away!” yells Lyrica.

Merlin says, “Lyrica and I can still go after them while you handle thing here, big sister Lunasa!”

Lunasa responds, “Don’t worry about it. I doubt they’re a match for Youmu anyway. Besides, we are the strongest when together. C’mon, let’s teach this girl the price of her arrogance.”

“Arrogant?” asks Reimu, “Oh, I’m sure you’re strong, but I’m under the impression that YOU are underestimating ME!”

“We shall see, won’t we?” says Lunasa, pulling her bow against the violin’s strings, emanating a single musical note. With that sound, something appears above Lunasa’s head, which looks like a sword without a hilt. The blade reflects the colors of the rainbow. It then flies toward Reimu, who easily predicts Lunasa’s intentions and dodges.

However, Merlin and Lyrica both play a note on their respective instruments, creating prism blades, similar in appearance to the one Lunasa just launched. Reimu dives, narrowly avoiding their attacks.

All three sisters start playing a melancholy tune in unison, creating numerous blades, which home in on Reimu. “Ah! Damn!” Reimu starts flying around as quickly as she can, with the blades on her tail. She notices that the creation of the prism blades seem to done in synchronization with the song the sisters are playing, which gives her an idea.

The pursuit continues with the blades steadily gaining on Reimu, and new blades in the process of intercepting her. Lunasa and Lyrica look up at her, smirking, but still focused on the song.

No more time! Here goes! Finding an opening in the swarm of prism blades that formed, Reimu throws a needle down at Merlin, who is the closest, and it sinks into her shoulder, dying part of her white clothes red.

“Ow!” screams Merlin in pain, missing her note, causing all the blades to vanish as a result.

Reimu charges at Lunasa, the leader, with her gohei in hand, “Take this!”

“Grrr…” Lunasa throws her violin to the side, which hovers in the air and prepares to block Reimu with her bow.

Reimu’s gohei and Lunasa’s violin bow clash like they were swords. Their makeshift weapons struggle against one another as their wielders try to overpower the other. Finally, Reimu flies upward, as two blades, launched by Merlin and Lyrica from behind, fly toward her, but with Reimu out of the way, only Lunasa remains in the path.

“Ahhhhhh!” Lunasa raises her arms in defense. The blades sink in and shatter.

Merlin and Lyrica look with their mouths agape in surprise.

“Big sister!” yells Lyrica.

Merlin, at a loss for words, stutters, “I… we didn’t mean to…”

“I know,” says Lunasa, “I’m fine, I can still do this!”

“Let’s just stop here!” yells Reimu, “You don’t have to take anymore pain!”

“This is just beginning, you bitch!” Lunasa points her bow at Reimu, and fires a laser from its tip.

“Ah!” Reimu sees the laser coming at the last minute and strafes to the side, but it still grazes her arm, dying most of her white sleeve red.

As Reimu hovers, clutching her wound, Lyrica draws a spell card and instructs her sisters, “Stand back! This is about to become hectic!”

“Yes,” Lunasa and Merlin nod at the same time and float behind Lyrica.

What does the little one have planned? thinks Reimu to herself.

Lyrica raises her spell card, “Dark Keys!” The card turns into red energy, which flows into Lyrica’s hands, “Fazioli Dark Performance!” Assisted by the spell card’s power, Lyrica’s hands move rapidly across her keyboard, playing a song too complex for her unassisted ability. Countless magic bullets materialize around her and slowly approach Reimu’s location.

“Shit!” Reimu backs away from the swarm of bullets. However, Lunasa assists Lyrica by firing another laser from her bow, which Reimu narrowly dodges. Merlin plays some notes on her trumpet and two light blue wisps fly out from behind her and toward Reimu, who dodges the first one, but the second hits the side of he head. The impact from the wisp was like being punched very hard. Blood runs down Reimu’s head, as she’s stunned and dizzy. She comes back to her senses, only to see that the swarm of bullets from Lyrica has gotten much closer, and forcing her further and further away from the sisters.

“Dammit! This is not good…” Reimu draws a spell card, “I hope this will get me over there. It’s my best chance…” She holds it in front of her, “Holy Relic!” The card floats away from Reimu, changes shape into the form of a ball, “Ying-Yang Sanctifier Orb!” the ball that formed then expands into a large yin-yang orb, which radiates intense blue light. The nearby magic bullets are repelled by the blue energy.

The sisters gasp. “Crap!” yells Lunasa, “She has a way to counter even THAT?”

Reimu smirks, seeing as her initially uncertain tactic turned out to be a success thus far, “Now take this!” Reimu directs the orb in the direction of the sisters and it flies toward them. Reimu follows the orb closely from behind, using it as a cover from Lyrica’s attack.

Merlin blows into her trumpet, creating wisps that arch around the orb and hit Reimu from the sides, but not hard enough to stop her.

“We gotta get out of the way!” yells Lunasa, “Lyrica! Stop playing! We must dodge!”

“I can’t!” says Lyrica, “The powers of my spell card are controlling my body, making me play! I can’t move! The effects must wear off or…”

Lunasa and Merlin stand silent, knowing what Lyrica means, as their own spell cards have the unfortunate effects.

The yin-yang orb homes in on the sisters with an extra burst of speed. Reimu stops as it makes its final approach.

“ARGH!” The orb ‘s light burst brightly, engulfing the Prismriver Sisters. When it clears, the three of them hang in the air, weakened by the attack.

“Just give up,” says Reimu, “I’ve still got much more prepared. Just surrender and I won’t harm you further.”

Lunasa laughs, “You’re pretty good… I didn’t think you’d be so resourceful…”

“Hardly anyone thwarts my Dark Keys,” says Lyrica.

Merlin smiles, “However, before we decide this is over, there is a trick we have yet to lose. Shall we, Lunasa?”

“Yeah…” answer Lunasa, “It would be the most fitting way to end this showdown…”

“Nice! Let’s do it!” exclaims Lyrica, drawing a spell card. Lunasa and Merlin do the same.

“Huh?” Reimu looks with curiousity as the Prismriver Sisters raise their spell cards.

“Funeral Concert!” yell the sisters in unison as their cards leave their hands and fly skyward in a spiraling pattern. A few seconds later, when they reach the highest point, they converge, creating a shining point up high, “PRISM CONCERTO!” Suddenly, a subspace, originating from the spell cards’ converging point, falls around Reimu and the Prismriver Sisters like a curtain. There is nothing but complete darkness, and after a moment of utter sightlessness for everyone involved, the appearance of the subspace becomes visible. It mostly black, but also with a lot of purple. A musical score is visible in the distance of the endless void, and Reimu and the Prismriver Sisters are standing on equal ground, which is to say that they are on solid ground, as opposed to the sky they were floating in until recently, although there is nothing resembling a floor. Everything looks the same in the unlimited void created from the spell cards. It’s not the first time Reimu had seen such a thing, but it’s always a constant reminder of the power the spell cards possess. As it is literally a different dimension, any form of matter, from the original space, affecting movement, like the Netherworld’s barrier or the four pillars, are completely absent here.

As Reimu looks over the change of scenery, the sisters move on to their next phase, as per the spell card’s capabilities. Lunasa stands back as Merlin’s trumpet and Lyrica’s keyboard hover next to her. Lunasa plays her violin, as the nearby instruments play by themselves in synchronization. It is a catchy and cheerful theme. The notes on the distant musical score light up as the song is played. Around Lunasa, several prism blades materialize and shoot into the air, dispersing in random directions and falling like rain.

“AH!” Reimu quickly sidesteps one of the falling blades. However, Merlin and Lyrica do not idly by. They hold their hands out in front of them and long laser beams, roughly resembling swords, extend out. They fly toward Reimu, going around the rain of colorful blades.

“This is for interrupting my performance!” yells Lyrica, who swings her beam at Reimu, who quickly leaps back, narrowly avoiding the attack.

“And this is for that needle!” However, Merlin follows up Lyrica’s attack, and swings her beam at Reimu in a wide, but low, arc. Reimu steps back, and the beam cuts through the fabric of her skirt, but misses the flesh.

Both sisters continue to press their attack, keeping Reimu at bay, with blades raining all the while. Lunasa, as she plays, watches the situation with a confident grin.

Dammit! It can’t go on like this! thinks Reimu as she pulls an ofuda out of her pocket. She mumbles a brief incantation, then swings it in a wide arc, repelling Lyrica, Merlin, and nearby prism blades with an invisible force. With Lyrica and Merlin knocked out of the way, a straight path opens up to Lunasa, obstructed only by the raining blades. She dodges a wave of raining blades, then draws a spell card and holds it high, “Divine Arts!” The card starts to glow with golden energy. Reimu lifts off the ground and flies toward Lunasa.

“Ah! Damn!” Merlin and Lyrica rise to their feet and pursue Reimu, who glances to her back and smiles. One of the blades grazes her shoulder, but she ignores it and keeps going.

Reimu gets close to Lunasa, who keeps playing her song, but is becoming worried, “Oh shit!”

Reimu swings her spell card downward, “Take this!” The card slams into the ground and a magic circle expands across the invisible floor, with Reimu in the middle and all three sisters within it, “OMNIDIRECTIONAL DEMON BINDING CIRCLE!” A golden pillar of light, as wide as the circle shoots up, engulfing everyone within it, but only leaving its caster, Reimu, unharmed.

“AAARRRGGHHHHHHHHH!” A pain, not unlike fire, spreads through the Prismriver Sisters’ respective bodies. Their dimension starts to crack, then shatters like glass.

There is another moment of darkness, and when it clears, everyone is back where they originally were when the spell began, only with new injuries. The Prismriver Sisters’ clothes are torn in several places and they have burns and bloodstains on their clothes (though it’s not particularly evident in the cases of Lunasa and Lyrica, because of the colors of their clothes).

Lunasa, clutching one of her wounds, moans, “Ow… That last one… damn… I can’t do this anymore…”

Merlin, in basically the same posture as Lunasa, says, “Such a shame we could not even stop one intruder…”

Reimu says, “Well, if that’s what you say, then I’m going ahead to catch up with my friends! I’ve spend too much time here!” She flies toward the opening to the Netherworld.

“Wait!” calls Lunasa after her, “You should hope that your friends are still okay. In the Netherworld awaits a swordsman without an equal. She is far more fearsome than us…”

“Damn…” mutters Reimu, “All the more reason to hurry up…” She flies closer to the entrance, then stops and says, “Oh, by the way, I really like your music! I’d like to listen to it again, only WITHOUT you guys trying to kill me.”

Lyrica, happy with Reimu’s words, says, “Okay! I’ll put everything I have into it! Please come back soon!” Lunasa and Merlin glance at her strangely. Reimu flies ahead, into the Netherworld.

The sisters float in place and a silence fills the air.

“Do you think we should have kept going, rather than succumb to our injuries?” asks Merlin, “We still could have…”

“Nah,” says Lunasa, “This isn’t worth anyone dying over. Still, I am curious to see what it looks like in full bloom…”

“Don’t you think it’s a tad extreme?” asks Lyrica, “Stealing spring from Gensokyo, just for THAT? I wonder if there’s more to it than Yuyuko-sama let on…”

“Well, we’ve played our role,” says Lunasa, “All we can do now is see how it plays out…”

“I should support Youmu and Yuyuko-sama,” says Lyrica, “But that lady wasn’t such a bad person either. I dunno…”

“That reminds me,” says Merlin, “Youmu seemed depressed when she asked us to guard the gate. What do you think that was about?”

Lunasa answer, “I dunno, but Youmu seemed to be hiding something…”

Lyrica mentions, “To me, she seemed… conflicted. Like she had to do something she didn’t want to do…”

“It has nothing to do with us,” says Lunasa, “We’ll just wait and see how this turns out…”

=========================

Meanwhile, in the Netherworld, Reimu quickly flies up a series of stone stairs, that seems to go on forever, thinking out loud, “Hold on! I’ll be there soon, Marisa… Sakuya…”

=========================

Up ahead, several whip-like creatures fly at Marisa and Sakuya. Marisa takes most of them out with a laser and Sakuya picks the rest of them off, “What a place!” yells Marisa, “So this is where we go when we die?”

“I guess…”

A large wisp approaches. Sakuya tosses a knife and it disappears with a loud shriek, which echoes a long way. Marisa covers her ears as a reaction, “Dammit! Shut the hell up, stupid ghost thing!”

The shriek echoes miles up the stairs, to the ears of Youmu, “Hm… Looks like some commotion is going on down there. Intruders, perhaps? Did Lunasa and the others fail?” Youmu shakes her head, “No, not likely, but it’s still out of the ordinary. I should go and check it out!” Youmu flies down the long series of stairs, Still, if it is the case of intrusion, perhaps they can save Yuyuko-sama in the way that I cannot… However, I have my duty to fulfill… but still…

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