Return to Fiction by Valesta
Stage 6: Saigyou Ayakashi
On the roof of the Hakugyokurou palace, looking at the Saigyou Ayakashi, Yuyuko recalls a memory of an encounter hundreds of years ago…
“Hello, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Yuyuko Saigyouji-hime of Hakugyokurou!”
“Um… right… Who might you be?”
“My name is Yukari Yakumo. I am a boundary youkai who has existed since Gensokyo’s origins…”
“A boundary youkai…? How fun~ What brings you to the Netherworld?”
“Well, I just like meeting the acquaintance of other youkai of such distinction. I regret not meeting you sooner…”
“Yukari…” Yuyuko then recalls a talk she had with Yukari a few months ago in the same place she occupies now…
Yukari asks, “So… Yuyuko, is this the legendary Saigyou Ayakashi? It’s quite an amazing sight… Fufufu~”
“It sure is. It’s been here for as long as I can remember. If it bloomed, I’m sure it would be beautiful!”
Yukari nods at Yuyuko’s words, “Yes… beautiful, indeed. However, there is much more to this tree than just that…”
Yuyuko tilts her head to the side, “Whatever do you mean, Yukari?”
Yukari pulls a book out of her dress, “I… AHEM… found this in a… certain library. It refers to the very tree we are looking at right now…” She opens the book, “I’ll read a particularly interesting passage… ‘The girl who bears witness to death, at the time of the Saigyou Ayakashi's full bloom, shall be bound by mortality. So that her soul may rest in peace within the Hakugyokurou, I will seal the cherry blossoms, and make it the barrier. My wish... is that she will never again reincarnate, and never again suffer pain.’”
Yuyuko responds to the passage, “Er… I don’t follow…”
Yukari explains, “It means someone’s soul is sealed within the Saigyou Ayakashi.”
Yuyuko’s eyes widen, “Really? Who’s?”
“That’s the mystery,” answers Yukari.
“So there’s a seal…” Yuyuko floats over to the trunk of the Saigyou Ayakashi, “I wonder if there is some way to unseal it…”
Yukari, with a mysterious smile, asks, “You mean you want to undo the seal?”
“Yeah!” yells Yuyuko, “I wanna know whose soul is bound to this big tree!”
Yukari, flipping to another page of the book, says, “According to this, the seal can be undone by collecting a large amount of Gensokyo’s spring essence… It will also fully bloom the Saigyou Ayakashi… the Perfect Cherry Blossom…”
“Collect spring essence… It will be interesting to see who is sealed to the tree, but I’m sure everyone will be happy to see the blossoms in full bloom…”
“Then make it the motivation for those who can help you to that end. By the way, Gensokyo’s spring essence is kept within a boundary, easily weakened by one like myself. I will do that so you can achieve your goal.”
“Thank you, Yukari… but why are you so eager to help with this?”
“Because it is such an honor to assist one of your esteemed position. I won’t do much, but I can at least do that much for you.”
“Okay~” sings Yuyuko cheerfully, “I will put Youmu on it very soon!”
“… … A fine choice.”
“By the way, Yukari, isn’t spring essence needed for spring to happen in Gensokyo? What will happen to the humans?”
Yukari casually answers, “They’ll die and come here. It will just naturally hasten the inevitable cycle humans exist within.”
“That means more people will live here? Cool! I will not waste time gathering that essence!”
“Yes… Good luck, my friend.”
Snapping back to reality, Yuyuko says to herself, “Maybe I was imagining it, but Yukari seemed to be aware of more than she was letting on. I wonder why she did not tell me… Oh well, it doesn’t matter anymore. With just a little more essence, the Saigyou Ayakashi will be the Perfect Cherry Blossom, the mystery will be solved, and everyone will be happy~!”
Flying up to the top of stairs to Hakugyokurou and crossing the garden at an intense speed, but with almost all her muscles straining as a result of the previous battle, Youmu has some recollections of her own, to one of the final teachings from her father and mentor…
“Youmu, for what reason do you wield the Roukanken and Hakurouken?”
“To serve and defend Yuyuko-sama!”
“Very good, Youmu. Never forget that. However, there is one more thing you should be aware of…”
“The tree, the Saigyou Ayakashi. There is a truth behind it few know, but is important nonetheless. Listen carefully, Youmu…”
Back to the present, Youmu thinks to herself, I haven’t forgotten, father! The Saigyou Ayakashi must never be unsealed… but I got the order to unseal it from Yuyuko-sama herself! Torn between the two, I have been fulfilling her wish… but does she know what she’s doing? I can’t save her like this… but those unusual intruders can! I will continue to follow the path I’ve chosen, but… Youmu continues flying, quickly closing in on the Hakugyokurou palace.
Sakuya approaches the palace, preparing to fly over it to then tree. From a distance, Sakuya knows the structure is tall, but it has a lot of width as well. Saying it has nearly half the horizontal size of a stadium is not far off. “Not far now… I will soon reach that tree!”
“YAAAAA!” Sakuya hears a voice from above. Youmu, as green streak in Sakuya’s eyes, dives down at her, but she quickly evades it. Youmu stops in midair and swings her sword, sending a few blasts of spirit energy at Sakuya, who intercepts and cancels them out with her knives.
Sakuya glares at Youmu, saying, “I remember you. You’re that girl I saw back there, though you didn’t see me, as I was moving through the instant.”
Youmu weakly says, “I take it… your name is ‘Sakuya,’ as the two other intruders… Marisa and Reimu… mentioned?”
“That I am,” answers Sakuya, “Sakuya Izayoi, perfect and elegant maid of Lady Remilia Scarlet of Scarlet Devil Mansion, at your service.” So Reimu had made it, like Marisa said?
“So you’re… someone’s loyal and humble… servant as well?” asks Youmu with pauses to catch her breath, “I am Youmu Konpaku… servant and guardian of… Yuyuko Saigyouji of Hakugyokurou… As one servant to another, Sakuya… I challenge you… to a duel for the right to confront Yuyuko-sama!”
Sakuya thinks for a second and says, “Normally, I’d refuse, as it wastes the time I can’t afford to squander, but in this case, I accept. Look at you, you’re breathing fast, you’re injured, you’re wounded, you barely look awake… This won’t even take me one minute!”
“I’ll show you…” declares Youmu, unintentionally halfheartedly, “Let’s go to solid ground.”
“Very well…” Sakuya and Youmu descend to the ground below, the steps leading up to the palace, sakura trees lined on both sides, stone stairs appearing as pink to the cover of countless blossoms, a beautiful sight, but there are more important things at hand… They land on a short walkway, at the top of one set of stairs and at the bottom of the other, Sakuya closer to the set going up. Youmu draws the Roukanken and Sakuya draws one of her knives. By weapons alone, Youmu looks to have the clear advantage as the two combatants point their respective weapons at one another. Around them, pink petals rain down from the trees as if to highlight the duel about to unfold. Sakuya suggests, “Before we begin, do know I’m in a hurry. Instead of drawing this out, I suggest we each use spell cards to determine our attacks…”
“I accept your terms,” responds Youmu, drawing a spell card.
“Glad to hear it,” says Sakuya drawing a card of her own.
After a brief pause, they declare their powers of choice, “Wound Sign!” blue energy flows into Sakuya’s body.
“Human Sign!” white energy flows into Youmu.
After another pause, they attack, “Inscribbled Soul!” Sanity disappears from Sakuya’s eyes as she charges at Youmu, swinging her knife wildly, faster than the eye can follow.
“Slash of Present!” Youmu moves toward Sakuya, also faster than can be detected.
The two combatants clash. As Youmu is about to deliver a high-powered slash, Sakuya, temporarily devoid of rational thought, knocks Youmu’s blade out of the way with her knife, then delivers two counterattacks with the same knife. “AUGH!” With two large and bloody wounds on her torso, Youmu is knocked back and falls down the palace stairs, red spots mixed in with the pink petals. Sakuya leaps down after her. On the way, the Wound Sign’s effects wear off. She reaches Youmu, lying defeated at the bottom of the steps.
Youmu weakly says, “You… win… Go ahead…”
Sakuya turns her back, “This was over before it started…” As Sakuya is about to fly away, Youmu grabs the edge of her skirt, “Huh?”
With her last ounce of consciousness, Youmu requests, “Please… protect Yuyuko-sama…”
“Protect? Isn’t she behind this?”
“Yes… but… she’s unaware of her actions… I couldn’t save Yuyuko from you… but please save her from it…”
“The tree… the Saigyou Ayakashi… which absorbs the essence of spring…”
“’Saigyou Ayakashi?’ That’s the tree?”
“Yes… don’t let it bloom… Please stop… my master…” with that Youmu’s consciousness fades and her hand drops from Sakuya’s skirt.
Sakuya pauses for a second and says, “Hmph. You didn’t need to tell me that…” She flies up toward the top of the palace.
Meanwhile, still advancing up the stairs, several shapeless ghosts swoop down toward Marisa and Reimu, both riding on the same broom.
“This would take too much time,” yells Reimu.
“True,” says Marisa, drawing a spell card, “time I refuse to waste! Comet!” Blue energy flows into the broom, “Blazing Star!” A field of magical energy surrounds Marisa and Reimu. They fly into the group of ghosts, tearing through them. With the defeated spirits in their wake, Marisa says, “And with that, I have only one more spell card…”
“I see…” acknowledges Reimu, who shortly notices a bloodstain on Marisa’s clothes, “You’re wounded…”
“You think?” asks Marisa, thinking the slashes she received from Youmu’s sword were more obvious.
“Hold on…” Reimu draws a spell card, “Recovery Sign! Pain’s Banishment!” White energy flows into Marisa’s body. Her wounds heal, but not completely.
“Hm? I feel a little better…” notes Marisa, “What was that?”
“I’ve been occasionally trying to perfect using spell cards with the power to heal…” explains Reimu, “but I’m far from perfect at this…”
“I see. Thank you…”
Changing the subject, Reimu asks, “By the way, do you have any idea why Sakuya went ahead like that?”
“Don’t know for sure,” says Marisa, “she seemed to be acting funny since right before we encountered Alice. Other than that, she said that more was at stake than just the season…”
Reimu thinks for a minute, “’More at stake…’ Could it relate to something at Scarlet Devil Mansion…?”
“Makes sense,” says Marisa, “Sakuya is not the type to leave the mansion on a dangerous mission, just so she can look at some flowers…”
The two of them think for a few seconds. Finally, Reimu asks, “Hey, Marisa… Do you remember Flandre?”
Marisa scoffs, “Flandre? The psycho-bitch sister of Scarlet? How can I forget? In fact, some of the scars I got from her claws still haven’t fully healed…” They think back to nine months ago. After defeating Remilia and persuading her to clear the red mist, a couple nights later, Flandre broke free of her room and of the mansion. She attacked a village in Gensokyo just for some fun, at least until Reimu and Marisa came to stop her. It was a close battle, but eventually, she fell to Reimu’s experimental Omnidirectional Dragon Slaying Circle. Afterward Remilia took her home.
Reimu explains, “She was doing those things for FUN! In other words, she was in a good mood at that time, but say there is a chance that Flandre lashed out at the cold of winter. In other words, in a BAD mood…”
“Er…” Marisa understands what Reimu is getting at and it’s an unsettling thought.
As if fate was responding to the circumstances in another realm, back at Scarlet Devil Mansion, past midnight, the temperature in Flandre’s room had dropped again, as well as throughout the entire mansion, due to a terrible blizzard going outside.
Flandre, thoroughly bothered by the cold, but approaching a dangerously hot point emotionally, mutters, as an intense red aura envelops her, “I’m… sorry, sister… I want to believe in you but I just can’t take it anymore… Gr…” Her emotions rise to extreme agitation as her self control vanishes, “WINTER MUST BE DESTROYED!” Her aura spreads out as a tremendous force, destroying everything in the room. She flies up, smashing through the countless floors above.
In the library, Patchouli and Meiling hear the noises as the entire mansions shakes, as does Remilia in her room. Patchouli observes, “Those noises are coming from… oh no…”
“Flandre’s room, right?” asks Meiling, becoming nervous,
“Correct. Well, Meiling, seeing as you have Sakuya’s job right now, part of your duty is to quell Flandre when she becomes agitated.”
Meiling, with her teeth clenched, mutters, “I… see… Well then…” She tightly grabs Patchouli by the arm and starts to drag her out of the library.
“What is the meaning of this?” demands Patchouli, futilely trying to break free of Meiling’s grip.
“I can’t do this alone, Patchouli. YOU are backing me up!”
“You know I can’t fight Flandre.”
“All I ask is that you stay back and cast spells to help me!”
“…” Patchouli, knowing what Meiling is getting at, and without any means of resisting, resigns herself.
At the same time in her room, Remilia says to herself, “So it’s happened… Flandre lost herself to the cold. Well, it’s a sister’s duty to try to help calm a sibling down…” Remilia walks over to the balcony and opens the door to it. A violent gust of frigid wind blows in, but she endures it and flies into the cold night.
Hovering above Scarlet Devil Mansion, Flandre looks around at the earth below, the blizzard steadily fueling her rage. She sees the snow falling from the sky, the snow on the roof of the mansion, the snow on the ground and trees, and the ice on the water, “Winter! Winter! Winter! Winter! Winter! Winter! Winter! Winter! WINTER! It’s everywhere, but it stands no chance. It is doomed for angering me!” Several spheres or red energy materialize around Flandre and she launches them in all directions, into the mansion, onto the ground, into the water… everywhere.
Remilia, dodging one of the spheres yells to Flandre, “Sister! What do you think your doing!”
“I’m performing a divine duty…” explains Flandre, “This frozen evil, known as winter, seeks to bring discomfort and death to Gensokyo… It is my job to stop it!”
“You’re wrong! Nothing, not even you, can destroy winter! Only spring can overcome it!”
“Where is your precious spring?” demands Flandre, “I don’t see it anywhere! Clearly, it has abandoned us!”
“It hasn’t… This is futile, Flandre! Just wait! Spring will come around!”
“It should have happened a long time ago!”
“Remilia-sama!” Meiling and Patchouli fly out of the hole in the mansion’s roof Flandre originally burst out of, and fly to Remilia.
Remilia glances in their direction, “Meiling? Patchouli?”
“Yes. It’s us…” says Patchouli, fidgeting a little to try to get warmed up. She inhales some of the frigid air and coughs weakly.
“This… is kind of a problem,” says Meiling, trying to make the situation sound lighter than it really is, “What would you like us to do?”
“Just don’t do anything just yet,” orders Remilia. Turning her attention back to Flandre, she yells, “Flandre, if you don’t calm down, we will stop you from destroying everything!”
“Oh? Even if you are my sister, Remilia, if you interfere with my just cause, then you are my enemy!”
“Please don’t make a big mistake,” says Remilia.
“Mistake? I couldn’t be more right!”
“Tch… Flandre, you know you aren’t allowed to leave. Sakuya is out there taking care of it! Leave it to her!”
“Then why is it still winter?”
“Just… give her more time…”
“Well, I can’t take it anymore sister! I will destroy everything having to do with winter!”
Remilia warns Flandre, “If you don’t stop this now, I will have these two stop you and bring you back to your room!”
Flandre, with a sinister smirk, says, “They are welcome to try…”
Remilia hesitantly says, “There’s no talking her out of it, I’m afraid. Meiling… Patchouli… Stop her…”
Meiling flies in front of Remilia, “Damn… I don’t want to antagonize Flandre or anything, but…”
Patchouli flies further back, “Remilia-sama, I can’t guarantee results, but I will do as you ask…”
“Thank you,” says Remilia, “I don’t want you two to be too hard, but try to wear her down.”
“We’ll try…” says Meiling. She and Patchouli both draw spell cards, “Colorful Flower!” Rainbow colored energy flows into Meiling’s body, “Rainbow Taijiquan!” The energy focuses itself into Meiling's hands and feet and she flies at Flandre.
“Fire Si_” Patchouli hesitates and lowers her card, No. As much as I want to use Agni Shine High Level, it might get it Meiling’s way… She raises her card again, “Metal Sign.” Dull gray energy occupies the air around Patchouli, “Silver Dragon.” Large pieces of steel materialize around Patchouli, coming together and taking the shape of a large snake-like dragon, which flies toward Flandre.
Meiling throws a flurry of high-powered punches and kicks at Flandre, who blocks them all with minimal effort, then grabs Meiling by the arm and flings her to the side. Patchouli’s dragon closes in, preparing to bite with its sharp metal teeth, but Flandre charges at it and rips through its steel body with her claws, like a sword through paper.
Dammit! thinks Meiling, This will be an uphill struggle…
At the same time, back in Hakugyokurou, Sakuya flies to the top of the palace and sees a figure standing on the roof, holding a paper fan, focused on the Saigyou Ayakashi, which has a magic circle in front of it, which small amounts of spring essence occasionally fly into. The figure notices Sakuya’s approach and turns around. It’s a girl with semi-long wavy pink hair, eyes as red as rubies, pale complexion, wearing a blue kimono and a blue hat with a red insignia on it. Things resembling shapeless spirits swirl around her. Her appearance comes off as ‘cute,’ but also registers as ‘beautiful’ at the same time. She looks at Sakuya for a second and smiles, “Oh! Hello! I don’t believe I’ve seen you before! What’s your name?”
Ignoring the girl’s question, Sakuya asks, “Where is Yuyuko?”
The girl responds, “Yuyuko? Well… Yuyuko is me… Yuyuko Saigyouji!”
Sakuya’s eyes widen, SHE’S Yuyuko? I was picturing someone more impressive-looking… “Oh! Greetings. My name is Sakuya Izayoi. I hail from Gensokyo. I’ve come here for the spring essence you had stolen!”
Yuyuko responds, “I really need that essence for something! I can’t give it back to you. There is something about this tree, which I need it for!” She points at the Saigyou Ayakashi.
“Just what could be so special about that?” asks Sakuya, “Is it that you want it to fully bloom? Is that it?”
“Yes,” answers Yuyuko cheerfully, “It will be the Perfect Cherry Blossom, the most beautiful sakura in Hakugyokurou!”
Sakuya points down at the surrounding gardens, filled with countless cherry blossom trees, “Look at all those! You have so many beautiful trees down there, yet you go through so much trouble just for this one?”
“It has something I’m curious about,” answers Yuyuko, “When it reaches full bloom, I find out what it is… what is confined to it…”
“That doesn’t justify stealing our season! People are suffering in Gensokyo right now because of your selfishness!”
“They’ll eventually come here anyway.”
“Even so, we still cling to live through each day! We’ve suffered enough and I will take spring back from you!”
Yuyuko pauses for a few seconds, folds and puts her paper fan into her kimono, and asks, “Is that why you’re here, or do you have more personal motives?”
Sakuya is taken aback by Yuyuko’s question, Tch! She seems dense, but her insight appears to be quite keen! I’d better not take her lightly… “Yes, I do, but even so, what I say is true! I will not leave without all the essence you’ve gathered just to bloom that damned tree!”
“Speaking of essence, how about you? Had it led you here? If so, I wish to have it to bloom this tree at last.”
“You won’t have it, Yuyuko!”
“I see. In that case, I’ll have to take it from you…” Yuyuko slowly lifts off the roof, holds out her arm, and sends several wisps at Sakuya, who leaps off the roof, over them as they rip through the surface. Sakuya tosses a knife at Yuyuko, who appears to have read Sakuya’s intentions and fluidly dodges it.
“Just what is it that you are so ‘curious about,’ Yuyuko?” asks Sakuya, drawing a few more knives.
“It’s nothng that concerns you,” replies Yuyuko plainly. She holds out her hand and releases energy that takes the shape of a few…
“Butterflies?” asks Sakuya, observing the situation. Indeed, the form Yuyuko’s energy took the form of is in the shape of butterflies, each with two ‘tails’ extending from their wings.
“That’s right!” says Yuyuko cheerfully, “They beat anyone who dares challenge me!” She sends the butterflies toward Sakuya, who dodges a couple, but one of them goes into her side.
“AHH!” Sakuya clutches the place the butterfly had hit tightly, Its wing is as sharp as a blade… and it had energy coursing through it, so it burns!
“See?” asks Yuyuko with a smile.
Sakuya, tightening her grip on her burning wound, “That’s… an interesting trick… but it looks lame…”
Yuyuko pauses to Sakuya’s words, then says, “As a matter of fact, you’re right! So few of my butterflies does look a tad unimpressive, doesn’t it?”
Sakuya clicks her tongue in disapproval, “Tch.” Does that mean she can make more? I shouldn’t have provoked her…
Yuyuko draws a spell card, “Death Sign!” Wisps of pink energy start to spiral around her. “Ghastly Dream!” The wisps take on the form of a swarm of countless butterflies like the ones she created earlier. The swarm flies toward Sakuya.
“Crap…” Sakuya draws a spell card of her own, “Illusion Sign!” The card vanishes and a two-dimensional magic circle appears behind Sakuya, “Indiscriminate!” Several knives shoot out from the magic circle, intercepting and destroying all but a few of the butterflies.
“Wow~” says Yuyuko in a cherry tone of voice, “How clever… huh?” When the butterflies and knives clear, Sakuya disappeared from where she was, “Oh… Where did she go?”
“Over here!” Sakuya, having used the countless knives and butterflies as a smokescreen, quickly flies toward Yuyuko from the left and slashes her with her knife!
“Eek!” Yuyuko lets out a surprisingly cute scream as the knife cuts through her body, leaving a wound of white smoke in its wake. Holding the wound with her left hand, Yuyuko backs away and holds out her right hand as spirit energy flows into it, then releasing it in the form of many white lasers. Sakuya, not expecting the counterattack, is knocked back by the lasers, hits, and tumbles along the palace roof.
As Sakuya recovers, Yuyuko sends the few remaining butterflies in Sakuya’s direction. They dive at her, but she quickly reacts by rolling over the edge of the roof. The butterflies explode in bursts of energy, destroying the edge of the roof Sakuya just rolled of, causing stones and wood to tumble down toward her, who focuses for a few seconds, then freezes time long enough to get out of the debris’ path. She flies back up to Yuyuko’s level and draws a spell card, “Illusion Sign!” Several knives materialize around Sakuya.
Yuyuko holds out her hand and a moderate amount of butterflies form around it, each with their wing tails interlocked, forming a circle.
“Killing Doll!” Sakuya launches her knives toward Yuyuko, but the circle Yuyuko’s butterflies formed an invisible shield in the middle of their circular formation and the knives harmlessly bounce off.
“No!” yells Sakuya in frustration and dismay.
“I guess I don’t need to say it,” says Yuyuko innocently, “but my beautiful little butterflies protect me too!”
Meanwhile, Marisa and Reimu reach the top of the stairs and fly through Hakugyokurou’s airspace at full speed.
Reimu, looking down at the sakura-filled gardens, says, “THIS is where the spirits of the dead go? It’s not as depressing as I had thought…”
“Yeah,” adds Marisa, “This is a place I could get used to, but for now, let’s focus on living and make a similar place out of Gensokyo.”
They notice the glows coming from their pockets and pull out the spring essence they had gathered. The orbs slowly break down and the petals that make them up fly toward the giant distant tree in streaks.
Marisa, seeing where the streaks are going, looks at the massive tree behind the palace, “Is that it? The Saigyou Ayakashi is huge!”
Reimu, dazed by the Saigyou Ayakashi’s blossoming beauty, says in amazement, “Wow… It’s beautiful…”
“Not as beautiful as you, Reimu…”
“Nothing,” says Marisa with a sly smile, “Random crap aside, that’s where we have to go.”
“Do you think Sakuya is over there?” asks Reimu.
“Yeah,” answers Marisa, “I wanna beat HER down before I beat down whoever’s behind this…”
“You should keep your priorities straight,” reminds Reimu.
“Tch. I know. At any rate, let’s not waste time!”
“Yeah!” Reimu and Marisa continue to head straight in the direction of the Saigyou Ayakashi.
Back at the scene of the battle between Sakuya and Yuyuko, Yuyuko draws a spell card, “Flowery Soul!” Several gray wisps spiral around Yuyuko, “Butterfly Delusion!” The wisps fly toward Sakuya, who retreats. One of the wisps catches up with and approaches Sakuya, who then makes a quick turn and avoids the wisp just as it bursts into several butterflies. She dodges two others, but a fourth catches her off guard and bursts. Sakuya covers herself with her left arm, which get badly cut up by the burst of butterflies.
Sakuya, writhing in pain, mutters, “D-damn it…”
Yuyuko says, in a voice as light as always, “I’m sorry to harm you like this, but I really want to know what secret the Saigyou Ayakashi holds…”
Sakuya, recalling Youmu’s words, asks, “Are… you sure that’s a good idea?”
Yuyuko raises an eyebrow, “What?”
“Your servant… Youmu Konpaku, was it? In any case, she told me to save you from the tree and to not let it bloom.”
“That’s not true!” yells Yuyuko in moderate disbelief, “Youmu had gathered all the spring essence for me to bloom the Saigyou Ayakashi! Why would she then want to have someone stop it?”
Sakuya thinks for a moment, “The same reason I would. Because she’s your loyal servant and cannot disobay an order from her master, regardless of her own wishes!”
Yuyuko gasps, “Ah! Why would she not want me to…” She looks back at the Saigyou Ayakashi, not far at all from blooming, “No, it doesn’t matter. I’m this close to getting my answer. I’m not stopping now! I will not let you stop me!” Yuyuko flies upward and spreads her arms. Behind her, in synchronization with her arms, something resembling a giant purple fan with white markings, resembling things like a cart and trees, unfolds.
What is she up to this time? thinks Sakuya to herself.
Yuyuko draws a spell card, “Butterfly Sign!” The card turns to white and pink energy which flows into Yuyuko’s ‘fan,’ “Swallowtail Butterfly Pattern's Death Spear!” From random points on the fan, with no distinguishable points of origin, bright crystals, with sharpened ends, shoot out in rapid succession at Sakuya. The first one grazes her hip, but she moves quickly to avoid the others. However, in the wake of the crystals, energy is left behind, which takes the form of more butterflies. Sakuya tosses knives at Yuyuko as she dodges the crystals and butterflies, but one of the two is also present to intercept the knives. As she fires crystals at Sakuya, Yuyuko glances at the Saigyou Ayakashi out of the corner of her eye, Only one more batch of essence is required. Why does this have to always happen at the most critical point? What if what she said was true? What did she mean when she said that Youmu wanted to ‘save’ me from the tree? What could possibly be so dangerous…? She shakes her head, No, now is not the time. I will get my answers soon enough…
With the situation growing more hazardous, Sakuya, constantly on the move, draws a spell card, Damn… This is getting to be too much. I’m doomed if this drags on any longer… “Void!” Time comes to a complete freeze as blue energy from the card hovers around Sakuya. Responding to Sakuya’s will, the energy disperses and materializes into knives, poised to intercept the butterflies. Sakuya flies up close to Yuyuko and tosses a few of her own knivwe toward her, which hang in time’s void. With a slight grin, Sakuya unfreezes time, “Inflation Square!” The knives fly and cut through the butterflies. At the same time, the final knives tear through Yuyuko.
“AH!” Stunned, Yuyuko loses control of her spell card’s powers and the effects end. Yuyuko recovers and says, “You’re pretty good! Before, you said that you are someone’s loyal servant, like Youmu?”
“That’s right,” answers Sakuya, “I am the head maid of Lady Remilia Scarlet!”
With a smile, Yuyuko says, “I see… Not something I’d expect from the average maid… How would you like to be MY maid?”
“I’ll pass,” responds Sakuya, “Remilia-sama is the only being worthy of my service.”
“Don’t be that way,” says Yuyuko, holding out her hand, “What I am about to offer you cannot be refused. I’m sure you’ll be proud to serve the princess of the Netherworld.” White wisps form around Yuyuko’s hand and surround Sakuya, in the form of ghastly blue flames, “Invoke Death.” The flames close in on Sakuya. Suddenly, she feels all the energy leave her body and she drops down on to the palace roof.
On her hands and knees, Sakuya weakly demands, “Wh-what did you just do to me…?”
Yuyuko tilts her head in confusion, then answers, “This will end your life. After that, you will work alongside Youmu as my servant for all eternity! This is the greatest honor I give.”
“Damn… it…” curses Sakuya with her teeth clenched.
Around the same time, Marisa and Reimu approach the palace stairs. Reimu looks down and sees Youmu lying unconscious in a puddle of her blood, “Isn’t that…”
Marisa looks down as well, “Youmu… I guess that was Sakuya’s handiwork. After what we did, I’m not surprised she then lost…” Marisa looks up at the palace and branches of the Saigyou Ayakashi, “but more importantly, we are close now. Let’s go…” Marisa and Reimu ride the broomstick up the side of the palace. When they reach the top, they see Sakuya severely weakened, surrounded by an eerie blue aura, and Yuyuko confused.
What IS this person? thinks Yuyuko to herself, her focus not on Reimu and Marisa, who just showed up, My ability to Invoke Death should have ended her life on the spot, but she’s not dead yet, only weakened…
“What’s happening to Sakuya?” asks Marisa.
Reimu, flying off the broom and pulling an ofuda out of her pocket, responds, “I don’t know, but it looks like she’s been affected by something…”
Yuyuko snaps out of her thoughts by Reimu and Marisa’s voices, “Who?”
Sakuya glances at Reimu, Rei… mu…? And I heard Marisa too… So they made it… but…
Reimu tosses an ofuda on to Sakuya’s shoulder, performs a brief hand seal, and yells, “Curse… BEGONE!”
The blue aura around Sakuya disappears and energy flows back to her and she rises to her feet, “Um… I suppose I should thank you…It wou;d have been bad if that went on much longer…”
Marisa floats down to Sakuya’s level, “Oh, you’re welcome…” Then, without the slightest sign, Marisa slaps Sakuya so fast, no one could have predicted it.
“Hm?” Yuyuko floats silently, not knowing what to make of the current exchange between Sakuya and the two new intruders.
Sakuya, with one hand on the cheek Marisa had slapped, asks, “Huh? What was…?
“Don’t pretend you don’t know, Sakuya,” scolds Marisa, “You just ditched us back there, you selfish bitch! I don’t know what your reasons were to do that, possibly something back at Scarlet Devil Mansion, but from what I just saw, you really DID need us!”
Reimu picks up, “We got here as fast as we could for you, but Marisa is right. What you did was reckless and you left us… or at least me, worried!”
“You were concerned about… me?”
“We’ll talk more about this later,” says Marisa, turning to Yuyuko, “and as for YOU, I take it you’re Yuyuko?”
“Yes, I am,” answers Yuyuko with a nod.
Reimu says, “I was wondering what the mistress of someone like Youmu would be like… I’m a tad disappointed…”
“Don’t be,” says Sakuya, “You saw what she did to me, right?”
“True enough,” replies Marisa, “I guess I’ll be plenty cautious…” Marisa suddenly notices the magic circle on the Saigyou Ayakashi, and many streaks of spring essence flying into it. She notices it coming from her pocket, as well as some from Reimu and Sakuya’s as well.
Yuyuko looks up at the blossoms of the Saigyou Ayakashi, “It’s almost complete… Soon, it will be the Perfect Cherry Blossom…”
“We’ll stop you before that happens,” declares Marisa.
Yuyuko draws a spell card, “I’ll have to make sure it doesn’t turn out that way… Sakura Sign!” Pink energy flows into Yuyuko’s fan, “Perfect Cherry Blossom of Sumizome!” Pink blossoms start to emerge from the fan’s surface.
Marisa observes, “Petals…?” She recalls their encounter with Lily White, “We’d best not take this cute little technique lightly. These could cut us down!”
Yuyuko’s eyes widen in amazement, “Wow… good guess…” The petals arc upward, and then fall down like rain.
Sakuya looks up at the falling petals and draws a spell card, “Silver Sign!” The card turns to white energy that flows into Sakuya’s hand. She pulls a few knives out and the energy then flows into those. She tosses them up at the falling petals, “Perfect Maid!” The knives multiply and randomly tear through the petals.
“Ah!” As more petals emerge from the fan, Yuyuko creates a small swarm of butterflies, which slowly advance toward Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya, who toss needles, knives, and lasers, destroying the butterflies one by one.
Reimu mutters to Sakuya and Marisa, so Yuyuko doesn’t hear, “We don’t have much time left! We have to do something about that magic circle!”
Marisa mentions, “The design… I’ve read about those kinds of magic circles before. They are used to draw in a specific energy source from the proximity of several miles of it…”
“Sounds about right,” says Sakuya, “but what can be done ABOUT those circles?”
“They are powered by a temporary source of energy protected within the user, via concentration…”
Reimu raises an eyebrow, “Meaning…?”
“We need to cause enough harm to the protector, possibly Yuyuko, to disrupt the energy source, namely causing her to lose her focus on the circle. If we can do that, the circle may have an opposite effect in its disruption and release the essence it had gathered into the Saigyou Ayakashi.”
Sakuya focuses on Yuyuko, “So we need to hurt her enough to make her lose concentration on powering the magic circle, like disrupting a spell card?”
“Yeah, but this is different and minimal focus is required. It takes a lot to disrupt that focus. We need to combine our attacks to make this work…”
Reimu observes the situation as Yuyuko’s spell card is still in effect, “But we need to break through to her first.”
“Yeah, and that’s a bitch,” says Marisa, “Let’s not waste any time!”
With her gaze cast on the second wave of petals from Yuyuko’s fan, Reimu draws a spell card, “Dream Sign!” The card turns to blue energy that floats in front of Reimu, who extends her arm toward the cloud of deadly petals “Evil Sealing Circle!” A magic circle forms in front of her and several bolts of energy shoot out in various directions, intercepting and destroying the petals. A few remaining bolts speed toward Yuyuko.
“Wow~ Pretty~” Yuyuko extends her arms and creates a shield of interconnected butterflies. The bolts hit the shield and vanish without doing any damage to Yuyuko, “… but not so good…”
Sakuya tosses a knife at the shield, or rather, the edge of the shield, destroying one of the butterflies that make it up. Yuyuko’s butterflies disperse from the pattern, shattering the shield, “After seeing that the first time, Yuyuko, I was wondering if that shield would still form if one butterfly was missing from the pattern! I guess not…”
Marisa extends her arm straight at Yuyuko, “Take this!” Marisa fires a volley of magical blue shots at the unprotected Yuyuko, which burst in large blue explosions. Yuyuko staggers back, her concentration on her spell card broken. Her fan disappears from behind her. Marisa turns to Reimu and Sakuya, “She’s stunned! Let’s give her all we’ve got!”
Reimu draws a spell card, “Holy Relic!” Her spell card expands and shifts into the shape of a yin-yang orb, “Ying-Yang Sanctifier Orb!” The orb radiates intense blue light as Reimu tosses it at Yuyuko.
At the same time as Reimu, Sakuya draws a spell card of her own, “Illusion Existence!” Blue energy circles Sakuya as she freezes time. With everything around her at a stand still, the energy materializes into several knives, all aimed at Yuyuko. Sakuya unfreezes time, “Clock Corps!” The knives fly toward Yuyuko.
Marisa fires an even larger volley of explosive blue shots at Yuyuko.
Reimu, Sakuya, and Marisa’s respective attacks fly at the stunned Yuyuko. First Marisa’s shots all slam into her, exploding, followed by Sakuya’s knives, which tear through her, and concluded by Reimu’s yin-yang orb, which slams into her and bursts with blue light. Yuyuko, in pain, but more concerned about other things, thinks to herself, No! All that together… I can’t hold the circle anymore… She glances up at the blossoms, now at full bloom, due to the essence leaking from Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya’s pockets, It’s… complete… but I can no longer… Yuyuko tumbles across the roof of her palace.
Marisa looks at the magic circle on the Saigyou Ayakashi, which begins to fade, “Alright! We did it! Just in the nick of… what the fuck?” Marisa notices something strange forming in the middle of the circle.
“Huh?” Reimu and Sakuya notice the same thing.
In the circle, a figure, faded beyond clarity, yet in a familiar shape, appears. Yuyuko, flat on the palace rooftop, wearily glances at the figure, silently muttering, “Is that it… that’s the soul… but it is not long for unsealing… since the circle was disrupted at the last second…”
The figure says, with a voice broken up between being sealed and unsealed, “Stay away! Do… must not… again… unseal… STAY BACK!” Several butterflies, like Yuyuko’s, form around the figure and fly toward Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya.
“What the hell IS this?” demands Marisa.
“Whatever it is, it’s not friendly!” notes Reimu.
“Well, it’s nothing I haven’t seen!” says Sakuya, drawing a spell card, “Scarred Soul!” The card turns to red energy, which flows into Sakuya’s body as two knives appear in her hands. She charges at the overwhelming swarm of butterflies, “Soul Sculpture!” Like the spell card used against Youmu, Sakuya once again enters a berserk state, swinging her knives wildly through the swarm, destroying the butterflies by the hundreds. Finally, the card’s effects wear off, however, more butterflies appear, swarming toward Sakuya, off guard, and tear through her, “AGHHHHHHHH!” They continue to advance toward Reimu and Marisa.
“SAKUYA!” yells Reimu in concern, tossing several needles at the butterflies, destroying them in small amounts.
At the same time, Yuyuko stares at the figure with a strange feeling coming over her. Several unknown thoughts run through her head:
“It’s your fault!”
“Possessor of an inhuman power…”
“You are not human! It’s impossible!”
Yuyuko had never heard what had just run through her head, but at the same time, it feels like a vivid memory, but definitely not a pleasant one. Extreme pain and sorrow mixes in with Yuyuko’s confusion. A tear runs down her cheek. She looks closer at the figure and images start entering her mind: The Saigyou Ayakashi in a different location, along with feelings of fear and resolve. Finally, the image of a golden-haired girl smiling at her enters her mind, but unlike everything else, Yuyuko recognizes the person, but not in the same way as the vision depicts, “Yu… kari…?”
Marisa, looking at the figure and the Saigyou Ayakashi, draws her final spell card, “Outta the way, Sakuya! I am going to annihilate that thing along with the damned tree!” She raises the spell card, “It’s experimental, but this will take care of it without a doubt! Magicannon!” Rainbow-colored energy flows into Marisa, who shortly emits an aura so intense, it knocks back the nearby Reimu.
“Ah! Ye-yes!” Sakuya, badly injured, but seeing where Marisa is coming from gets out of the way.
Yuyuko snaps out of the unknown thoughts in her mind and feels the intense power coming from Marisa and accurately notices her intensions, “NO!” Yuyuko unconsciously flies toward the figure at an intense speed.
Marisa struggles to control the energy wildly moving around within her, but finally manages it, “Eat this, Saigyou Ayakashi! You won’t even be good for firewood after this…” Marisa takes a deep breath, holds both of her arms out in front of her, and screams, “FINAL SPAAAAAAAAARK!” A large magic circle opens in front of Marisa and out of it shoots a massive beam of several colors, even making the Master Spark look obsolete by comparison. It reaches the Saigyou Ayakashi and there is a large burst as it connects. The beam continues for a good while afterward. Finally, it dies down but there is no definite harm to the tree. As the dust and energy from the Final Spark clears, the reason becomes clear: Yuyuko had blocked with her own body. She floats where the figure was, arms spread, her kimono torn in several places, due to going through the butterflies, and burns from the Final Spark. Angrily, Marisa yells, “Yuyuko! Where did YOU come from?”
Wearily, Yuyuko pleads, “Please! Don’t harm the Saigyou Ayakashi!”
“What is it to you?” asks Reimu.
“I… don’t know…” answers Yuyuko, “but there is something about it which can’t let me let you damage it… I’ve lost… Take back your spring, but leave the tree alone…” In exhaustion, Yuyuko slowly descends down to the base of the tree. Yuyuko’s fading magic circle releases a small burst of light, followed by an unbelievable amount of spring essence flowing rapidly out of it.
“That’s the spring essence flowing out?” asks Sakuya.
“Seems that way,” answers Marisa, “We have to carry all THAT home? Gimme a break!”
“No we don’t! Look!” Reimu points at the path in which the essence is flowing out: Over the roof of the palace and in the direction they came.
“In that case…” Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya take their essence out of their pockets. The orbs break down to tiny petals and join the rest of the flowing essence.
“It looks like it’s headed back to Gensokyo!” observes Sakuya contently.
As the essence flows over the palace roof, Youmu briefly regains consciousness and looks up at the seemingly endless stream of spring essence, “The essence… It’s flowing outward… Looks like they did it…” Youmu smiles as she returns to sleep, “Thank you… intruders…”
The essence quickly travels down the path of the stone stairs and to the Netherworld’s gate, flowing out through the opening Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya used. The Prismriver Sisters still present outside, Merlin observes, “Look! It’s the essence! It’s leaving the Netherworld!”
“Pretty~” sings Lyrica with a big smile.
“Seems like those three did it…” observes Lunasa, “So much for the flower-viewing event… and our big concert to it…”
“Don’t worry,” reassures Merlin, “Hakugyokurou is filled with cherry blossoms, besides the Saigyou Ayakashi. We can certainly celebrate to that, can’t we?”
“Yeah, you’re right,” responds Lunasa with a smile.
Further down the passage, Lily White also notices the flow of essence, “It’s returning to Gensokyo! Thus, spring time will now begin!” With that, she follows the flow of essence.
The essence flows through the passage of the Netherworld’s gates and to Gensokyo.
Meanwhile, high above Scarlet Devil Mansion, the long battle of Meiling and Patchouli against Flandre rages on. Meiling charges at Flandre, who easily knocks her out of the way. Patchouli draws a spell card, preparing a large spell, but Flandre tosses a large ball of red energy straight at her.
“Ah...” gasps Patchouli.
Remilia, close to Patchouli, draws a spell card, “Divine Spear!” The card turns to red energy that floats around Remilia’s raised hand, “Gungnir!” The energy takes the shape of a spear and solidifies. Remilia tosses the spear at the ball, both techniques canceling each other out.
Patchouli turns to Remilia in slight surprise, “Oh… Thank you, Remilia-sama…”
“Stay focused,” orders Remilia, “it’s unwise to show a moment’s weakness against my sister…” Remilia quickly glances at the horizon, out of concern for herself and Flandre, showing that the sun is soon to rise, “Damn… this is not good…”
Meiling flies at Flandre with a flying kick, but Flandre turns her body, narrowly avoiding Meiling’s attack, grabs her leg, and throws her down to the mansions’ roof, following in pursuit. Meiling hits the roof hard, “Agh!”
Before Meiling can recover, however, Flandre lands on top of her and prepares to deliver a finishing blow, “DIE!”
Meiling tightly closes her eyes, preparing for the end, So this is it? Dammit! Oh well, at least it’s to someone I don’t feel bad losing to…
Before Flandre can strike, however, the frigid air gradually becomes warmer. With the pleasant feeling, sanity returns to Flandre’s eyes and she stops attacking.
Remilia, also noticing the change in temperature and Flandre’s actions, quickly flies down to Flandre as fast as lightning and gently grabs her arm.
Flandre, looking around in confusion asks, “Wh-what happened? It just became warmer! How did I get here?”
“We’ll worry about that later,” says Remilia, “Right now, the sun is rising and we have to get back inside!”
“Alright,” responds Flandre with a smile. With that, the two vampires fly into the hole in the roof.
“Whew…” Meiling lets out a sigh of relief, “I must be getting lucky…” She gets up and flies up to Patchouli, “Hey, Patchouli… sorry for dragging you out here with me… I really did need your help…”
“It’s understandable…” responds Patchouli, who then coughs heavily a couple times.
“Whoa! Are you alright?” asks Meiling in surprise and concern.
“I was out in the cold for too long…” says Patchouli, “It’s inevitable that I would come down with something… but for now, the temperature increased…” she pauses and observes the temperature again, “and still rising. Could this mean that…?”
As the sun’s light spreads across Gensokyo, it becomes easier to see the fragments of spring essence raining from the sky. As they touch the ground, the area’s snow instantly melts, and grass or flowers grow from what was once dead and cold.
“Spring essence…?” observes Patchouli, “Could it be that Sakuya had accomplished her mission?”
“Seems that way!” exclaims Meiling happily.
Across Gensokyo, the blue fairies containing essence disappear and essence falls from where they were. Many people happily watch as the long and painful winter comes to a delightful end.
Alice, sitting in a chair, reading a book inside her home in the Forest of Magic, glances out a window, “Huh? The snow is melting! Plants are coming to life! Could it be that Marisa and the others have done it…?” Alice rises to her feet and runs a hand through her hair, “At any rate, if this is truly spring, I’d might as well enjoy it outside…” Alice walks to her door, closesly followed by Shanghai.
In Miyohiga Village, Ran and Chen watch as the season changes. Dancing around, Chen exclaims, “It’s springtime, nya~! There’s no snow! There’s flowers, nya! Isn’t it great, Ran-sama?”
Ran, considerably less thrilled at the change thinks to herself with a hand on her chin, Has Yuyuko failed? If so, Yukari-sama is not going to like this, but I must bring it to her attention…
Deep in the Forest of Magic, Cirno and Letty watch as the snow melts and plants rise. “So this is it…” says Letty, “the end of this year’s winter…”
“Letty…” says Cirno, saddened.
“Remember what I said,” reminds Letty, “I’ll always be back in the winter. In less than a year, I shall return to you…” With that, Letty closes her eyes and fades into thin air.
Cirno, with a tearful nod, says, “Yeah… I’ll see you then, Letty…”
Back in Hakugyokurou, the last amount of spring essence pours out of the magic circle, and finally, the circles vanishes, the Saigyou Ayakashi returned to its withered state. Yuyuko, slumped down at the base of the tree looks up at the branches, “So that’s it… All that work for nothing…” Depressed, Yuyuko sighs.
Reimu, taking pity on Yuyuko, explains, “Look, I’m sorry for what happened. You don’t need to tell me why you went through all that, though I doubt it was just to bloom that tree, or perhaps it had something to do with that figure, but I don’t care. It’s just that spring belongs to Gensokyo and humans and youkai alike need spring…”
“I see…” says Yuyuko in a solemn mood. Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya turn to leave, but Yuyuko speaks up again catching their attention, “Wait… Please… enjoy your spring…”
The three girls nod without a word and make their leave.
Yuyuko closes her eyes in exhaustion and says to herself, “’Humans and youkai need spring…’ Maybe I was being a little selfish, but… Yukari… why did you want to take such a thing from them… and for what… what are you trying to hide…?” She thinks to the visions she got from the figure, “And what were those… what do they mean…? It all felt so mysterious, yet… real… like old memories…”
As Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya cross across the skies above Hakugyokurou and to the stairs leading down to the gate, Reimu raises a spell card, “Recovery Sign: Pain’s Banishment!” White energy flows into Sakuya and her wounds slightly heal.
Sakuya says to Reimu, “Back there… you said that you were concerned about me… but I left you and Marisa behind, yet you still cared… Why did you do such a thing for me?”
“Yeah, why?” demands Marisa.
Reimu answers, “You may have had your own agenda and reasons, Sakuya, but that doesn’t matter to me. Nine months ago, you seemed so cold-hearted and ruthless. Honestly, I was afraid of you at the time. However, you agreed to join us on our mission, you forgave me when we talked at Marisa’s house, you ultimately honored Marisa’s wishes to duel with Alice, despite your own mission, and sticked with us then… My negative view of you began to change. After all we had gone through, I don’t care what you did, but it didn’t matter to me anymore. I couldn’t help but worry about you…”
“…” Marisa sees where Reimu is going, and she relunctantly accepts that part of her agrees with Reimu.
“What I am trying to say, Sakuya, is that I now see you as my… friend…”
Sakuya, stunned at Reimu’s words, stares at her silently, but then supresses her emotions, chuckling, “Y-you can think what you want, but all I need is my duty and trusted comrades. I know nothing of the values you express to me!”
“Is that all you have to say?” asks Marisa, “Poor Reimu just poured her feeling out for you, and that’s your answer? I still say you’re a cold-blooded bitch!”
“Think what you wish.”
“Heh…” Reimu chuckles slightly to Sakuya’s obvious relunctance.
And thus, the journey for spring came to an end. Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya go their separate ways, heading to their respective homes, happily victorious.
The next day at Scarlet Devil Mansion, in Flandre’s room, Sakuya tells the story of her adventure to Remilia, Flandre, Meiling, and Patchouli, the last of whom has an ice pack on her head, “… and that’s how it ended. Spring had returned to Gensokyo and hopefully life at this mansion has become much better.”
“WHAAAAAT?” yells Remilia and Flandre at the same time.
“Reimu was with you?” asks Remilia.
“And Marisa too?” adds Flandre.
“Ye-yes… I really couldn’t have done it without them, I’m afraid…”
“Damn it!” cries Remilia, “I should have gone instead! Reimu could have needed my help! I’m so sorry, Reimu!”
“Whaaaaa!” cries Flandre.
Sakuya, Meiling, and Patchouli look at each other and shrug.
Meanwhile, beneath a cherry blossom tree outside the Hakurei Shrine, Reimu lies down, trying to sleep and Marisa reads a book. Marisa breaks the silence, saying, “Hey, Reimu…”
“Now that we got spring back and everything, do you kinda miss winter?”
“Hell no,” answers Reimu, “Besides, if everything was restored to its natural state, we’ll have winter… a NORMAL winter again…”
“Just wondering,” says Marisa, “By the way, something struck me as odd. You said Yuyuko might have tried to bloom the Saigyou Ayakashi for that… thing that appeared. What was it? Why was it so important?”
“Dunno,” answers Reimu, “Honestly, that subject is best left alone right now. We got what we were after, so let’s enjoy it!”
“Yeah… Still, I wonder…”
Meanwhile, in Hakugyokurou, Yuyuko sits on the palace roof and stares at the withered Saigyou Ayakashi. Youmu flies up to Yuyuko, “Yuyuko-sama…”
Yuyuko glances in Youmu’s direction and smiles, “Ah! Youmu! Are you feeling better?”
“Of course,” answers Youmu with a bow, “I heal very quickly.”
“That’s great! By they way, I heard that you may know something about this tree and… what’s inside of it…”
Youmu flinches and says, “Um… yes…”
“A GHOST, right?” asks Yuyuko with a sly grin.
A chill runs down Youmu’s spine, “P-please don’t tease me like that, Yuyuko-sama! But about what is sealed inside, I do know something. I was told by my father to keep it a secret from you, but I guess there’s no more use hiding it. You see…”
Youmu is suddenly cut off by a voice yelling down from above, “YOUMU! Bad girl! I’m sure you respected Youki a lot more than to go back on a word from him you promised to keep!”
Yuyuko rises to her feet and looks around, “Th-that’s…”
Two voice ring from behind, “Turn them frowns around, nya!”
“I assure you, the Saigyou Ayakashi will be unsealed yet!” Ran and Chen walk into view.
Someone taps Yuyuko and the shoulder from behind, but when she turns to see who, no one is there, but a voice chuckles from Ran and Chen’s location, “Fufu~ Well said, Ran!” A portal opens up between Ran and Chen and a third figure emerges: A strikingly beautiful girl with long golden hair and golden eyes, wearing a frilly white dress, which is purple in the front and back, and a white cap with a red ribbon on it, holding a large white parasol. “Now that Yukari Yakumo is here, your troubles have ended~”
Ran adds, “And Yukari-sama’s shikigami, Ran Yakumo…”
Chen concludes, “And Ran-sama’s shikigami, Chen, nya!”
Yuyuko’s eyes widen, “Yukari…”
Youmu glares at Yukari with suspision, “Just what do you want, Yukari?”
Yukari walks toward Youmu, “Tsk. Tsk. Such a rude question, as expected from a rude daughter. However, since Youki isn’t here to punish you, I’ll deliver your punishment myself…” Yukari extends her hand toward Youmu and a portal opens up below her.
“Ah! Yuyuko-sa_” The portal swallows Youmu and closes before she can say all her words.
Yuyuko gasps, “Wh-why did you do that to Youmu?”
Yukari puts her right hand on Yuyuko’s shoulder, “Don’t worry about her, my friend. I’m merely performing a nessessary measure of dicipline for your servant. I’ll let her out eventually. Now down to business. I understand your quest to bloom the Saigyou Ayakashi didn’t end so well…”
Yuyuko responds, “Well, it WAS going fine, but…”
“Relax,” interrupts Yukari, “for you see, I happen to have a contingency plan in mind…”
Yuyuko replies, “Look, it’s really not that important anymore. You don’t have to…”
Yukari, ignoring Yuyuko’s words, exclaims, “It’s settled, then! Yuyuko, I promise I will release your… I mean, the soul inside the Saigyou Ayakashi. Count on it!” Yukari floats over to the Saigyou Ayakashi.
Yuyuko looks at Yukari’s back and thinks, She’s not listening to me… but why is she so set on releasing it? And why did she really imprison Youmu…? she recalls Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya, Perhaps they could…
Yukari looks up at the Saigyou Ayakashi and smirks, That interference was but a minor setback, but I am prepared! We… shall finally be reunited in earnest. I guess it’s only befitting that the shallow and mindless humans that reviled you in life shall face Armageddon by your release! Yuyuko’s true self shall blossom at last. It’s been 1,000 long years, but the time has finally come… my dear Yuko…