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Return to Fiction by Valesta
In Hakugyokurou, Yukari Yakumo recalls an conversation she had over a thousand years ago…
“Ah! Good morning, Yuko!”
“Oh… Hello, Miss Yakumo…”
“I told you, you can just call me Yukari… Oh? Where did you get that bruise?”
“One of the villagers again, right? Why can’t those humans accept your powers. Why do they have to be so cruel to you just because you are different?”
“That’s… just the way humans are. They fear things they don’t comprehend, and that fear turns to hate… but I understand their concerns about me. Perhaps I deserved what I got…”
“Don’t say that, Yuko! Your power is what makes you so special!”
“No, Yukari! I see and cause death! Sometimes I can’t control myself! The worst part is, I’m a human with such a power living among others! I’m afraid of myself… what I can do… Why couldn’t I have been born a youkai? I wish I was a youkai! You accept one another for what you are, regardless of the power at your command! Why are my race and yours so different?”
Yukari returns to reality, “Your wish has been granted, Yuko. Now all I need is… you…”
A few days have passed since Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya went on a journey for the essence that provides the season of spring to Gensokyo, which ultimately led them to the Netherworld, where they encountered the princess there, Yuyuko Saigyouji, who was using the essence to bloom the massive sakura tree, the Saigyou Ayakashi. Now that spring has returned, it feels like that journey never happened and life continues as it normally has, with Gensokyo in its magnificent springtime.
At the Hakurei Shrine, Reimu wakes up in her futon, after a good night’s sleep, embraced by the comforting temperatures of the gentle spring, “Ahhhh! This is so great… It feels like forever since I got to sleep like that last…”
As she turns, she hits something soft, followed by disrupted snore, “ZzzzZZzZZz…”
With a feeling of déjà vu, Reimu moans to herself, “Oh no… It can’t be… not again…” She looks into her futon, and sure enough, she sees Marisa in bed with her. Startled, Reimu jumps out of bed, yelling, “Marisa! What the hell are you doing in my futon? AGAIN?”
Marisa slowly wakes and says, dodging the question, “Oh… good morning Reimu…”
“Don’t ‘good morning’ me, Marisa! What lame-ass excuse do you have to sneak into bed with me this time? I know it’s not for my body heat, since it’s nice and warm now!”
Marisa sits up, with her right hand on her forehead, “Damn… hangover…” The covers slip down, revealing Marisa was sleeping in her lingerie.
“Oh God…” moans Reimu, feeling faint at the revelation of Marisa’s spring sleeping attire.
Marisa explains, “Well… I thought I’d stop by and drink some of your sake. I started to feel tipsy and it would have been a bad idea to fly home that way in the dark, so I decided to spend the night here.”
“If you want to spend the night here, fine…” responds Reimu, “but WHY did you climb into my futon?”
“Because there are no other places to sleep!” answers Marisa, “I sure as hell can’t sleep on the wooden floor! Every muscle in my body would ache!”
“You could have waked me up and asked…”
“But you were sleeping so peacefully…”
Reimu sees no good response to Marisa’s logic and decides to leave the situation at that, “At any rate, Marisa, it’s morning now and you’re over your drunkenness. Shouldn’t you head home now?”
“Why the rush? I’m here, so the two of us should do something together!”
“I hear Kourin got some new weird item at his store recently. Let’s check it out! It’s probably worth the laugh.” Rinnosuke, or Kourin, as Marisa nicknames him, is the owner of an antique shop outside the Forest of Magic. However, that said shop is an antique shop in name only. It is really a place which sells all kinds of strange and exotic gadgets, the functions of which make little sense to most inhabitants of Gensokyo. Still, in spite of the strangeness, they are still interesting to examine to customers like Reimu and Marisa, for instance.
Reimu thinks for a couple seconds, then responds, “Sure thing. It could be interesting…”
Reimu and Marisa get dressed (separately) into their normal attire, head outside into the comforting warmth and breeze of spring, and take to the sky, en route to the Forest of Magic. About ten minutes into their flight, an extra cold gust of air blows by. Reimu covers her body, “Brr… That… didn’t feel like a spring gust…”
Marisa, also chilled, says, giving it the benefit of the doubt, “It’s still morning. Gusts can be a little cold at this time…”
“But it felt more like a… winter breeze…”
“Don’t be silly. We got the essence back, it’s spring in Gensokyo now.”
“Yeah…” Reimu sighs, “I guess it was just my imagination…”
Meanwhile at Scarlet Devil Mansion, Sakuya enters the courtyard with a watering can, intending to nourish the newly bloomed spring flowers. A sweet smell fills the air. “Alright… Always the part of spring I enjoy: Watering and watching the flowers grow…”
Sakuya kneels by the edge of the flower bed, and prepares to water the plants, but then she notices something odd: A fair amount of the flowers are withered. “Hm? What’s this?” thinks Sakuya out loud, looking at the situation, “Just yesterday, they were all in bloom. How could so many flowers have died in such a short time…?” she recalls the weather of the day before, which was no different than the current day, “That should not have been the case. The weather has been consistent…” As if to answer Sakuya’s suspicions, an icy cold draft blows from over the mansion and into the courtyard “… This is not right… It almost feels like winter, but how?” An idea soon pops into her head, What if those Netherworld people decided to try to steal spring’s essence again, even after we stopped them? I’d best investigate this matter…
Sakuya flies up and over the mansion’s roof, “Hey! Sakuya!” From the area of the gate below, Meiling flies up and greets Sakuya, “Good morning! Are you going someplace again?”
“Yes,” answers Sakuya, “Since you’ve been outside all day, have you noticed some dying plants or cold wind?”
“Are you kidding? Look at the ground…” Down below, via a bird’s-eye view, the emerald-green grass that surrounds Scarlet Devil Mansion had mostly turned to a dead light-brown color, “And of course I noticed the wind! In fact, I swear I saw a couple of snowflakes!”
“This is not a good sign and it further confirms my suspicions… I’m going out again find out what’s going on. Once again, I want you to remain here and take care of things in my stead.”
“Man… has it ever occurred to you that I might want to go with you and save the day?”
Sakuya grins slightly, “You know as well as me that I am better suited for outside tasks. Besides, I don’t think we can depend on Patchouli alone to defend Remilia-sama or pacify Flandre.”
Meiling wants to argue more, but she knows that Sakuya is right, “Okay… fine. Good luck out there. This time, make sure spring STAYS, alright?”
Sakuya can’t help but feel a little annoyed at Meiling’s choice of words, but what she said is exactly what Sakuya has planned, “Of course. I shall return later…”
“Good luck, then…” Meiling descends back to ground level as Sakuya flies in the general direction of the Forest of Magic.
After a few minutes of flight, a feeling comes over Sakuya and she pauses in midair, “Huh? What?” Images of Reimu and Marisa pop into her mind, “Hm? Why them all the sudden?” She suddenly recalls when Yuyuko nearly killed her, but they showed up in time to save her, “Damn… I hate to admit this to myself, but I might actually need their help again…” Sakuya changes course for the Hakurei Shrine.
Meanwhile, Reimu and Marisa land outside the Kourindou shop, a small structure, painted mostly blue with white highlights, with only a single entrance, and back facing the edge of the Forest of Magic. There are no other forms of civilization within miles of it, thus it gets only a few customers. They walk inside. Standing at the counter is a handsome man with silver hair, glasses, wearing blue and black clothes. He is Rinnosuke Morichika, the proprietor of Kourindou. He is a human/youkai half-breed. He has lived for many years without aging, but in spite of that, he has no particularly outstanding powers, unlike most denizens of Gensokyo. A longtime friend of Marisa’s.
Rinnosuke greets, “Oh! Good morning Marisa and Reimu!”
Marisa returns the greeting, “Mornin’, Kourin!”
“What brings the two of you here?” asks Rinnosuke.
Reimu answers, “Marisa said that you got some new weir_ er, interesting item here. We want to see what it is…”
“Of course!” Rinnosuke squats down, picks something up off the floor, and places it on the counter. It is an odd-looking device, made up of two parts, connected by a coiling cord. The large part has a dial on it with the numbers ‘0’ through ‘9’ around it. The smaller part is roughly crescent-shaped with several tiny holes on both ends.
Marisa and Reimu spend the next minute examining and wondering what to make of the mysterious gadget. Finally, Marisa asks the same question she had asked about other gadgets in the past: “So… what is it?”
Rinnosuke answers, “I’m… really not so sure, but I heard that this had completely revolutionized the way people communicated in ‘another world.’”
“How’s that supposed to work?” asks Reimu.
“Well, one person talks into it and someone else listen and talks through another one of these same devices, allowing them to talk over a great distance…”
Marisa takes a closer loom at the odd contraption, “I don’t see how that’s supposed to work…”
Rinnosuke shrugs, “Me neither, but that’s what I was told…”
“Who told you about that?” asks Reimu, “Or for that matter, how did you get all these things?”
“That’s… classified information,” responds Rinnosuke. He then changes the subject, “By the way, it was sure miraculous how we suddenly got spring weather.”
“About that…” Marisa explains the details about their trip to the Netherworld and how they regained spring.
“Wow…” says Rinnosuke in amazement, “You girls always get to have all the excitement around here while all I do is run a shop…”
“You can tag along next time,” says Marisa with a wink, “I’ll teach you magic if you want. It’s not easy, but you can do it!”
Reimu picks up, “Or I can teach you how to be a miko… of the male variety…”
“Thank you,” replies Rinnosuke, “but with all that excitement comes just as much pain… I don’t think I could handle getting cut with a sword several times like Marisa had…”
“Yeah, that kinda sucked…” mumbles Marisa.
“At any rate,” says Reimu, “Thank you for showing us that… thingamajig…”
“You’re welcome,” says Rinnosuke, “Please come again.”
“We sure will,” says Marisa, as she and Reimu turn and exit the shop.
Meanwhile, outside the Hakurei Shrine, Sakuya lands and approaches the structure. As she reaches the doorstep, she notices several pairs of shoes, Hm? I guess I’m not the only visitor… She kicks off her high-heels and enters. Inside, kneeling on mats, there are four other girls, more than one of whom Sakuya least suspects, “What? Y-you…!”
One of the girls looks in Sakuya’s direction, “Oh! Hello again~! It seems the miko isn’t here right now. I wonder where she is…”
“…” Sakuya just stands with her mouth agape.
Outside Kourindou, Reimu and Marisa notice someone else, leaning against the building with a heart-shaped box of chocolates, blushing heavily and muttering many indistinct sentences, lost in her own world: Alice Margatroid.
“Hello, Alice!” greets Marisa.
“…” Alice, completely unaware of Reimu and Marisa’s presence, continues muttering to herself.
Reimu tries to grab her attention, “Hello! Alice Steroid? Can you hear us?”
“This isn’t gonna work. How about this…” Marisa snatches the box of chocolates away from Alice, opens it, and eats one of the chocolates inside.
Alice snaps back to reality, “Hey! What are you doing, Marisa?”
“Finally, got you attention,” says Marisa, about to eat another one of the chocolates.
Alice pleads, “Please stop eating those, Marisa!”
“And let this damn good chocolate go to waste by NOT being eaten? No thanks! You should go right in there and tell Kourin how you feel.”
“What are you so afraid of?” asks Reimu.
Marisa, taking some pity on Alice’s situation, moves in close to her, almost uncomfortably so, “Look Alice, you’re beautiful, intelligent, elegant, and (somewhat) nice. In fact your hesitation is part of your charm as well.”
Alice, slightly blushing at Marisa’s words, asks, “Do… do you really mean that, Marisa?”
Alice walks away from Marisa, “I’ll keep what you said in mind. It’s strange for you to be nice like that…”
“Yes. By they way, you… did get back spring, right?”
Reimu asks, “What do you mean? It’s warm, all the plants have grown. What about it is NOT spring?”
“Have you noticed anything around here? The temperature, especially that of the wind, is not what it should be for this season. Also, look at the grass.”
Reimu and Marisa shift their attention toward the grass. They didn’t notice it before, but all but a few patches of it have died.
“How the hell did THIS happen?” demands Marisa.
“You are probably paranoid,” says Reimu.
“I still say it looks suspicious,” says Alice, walking back toward the Forest of Magic.
Reimu and Marisa shrug at one another and fly back in the direction of the Hakurei Shrine. Along the way, there is another frigid gust of wind, but accompanying that are a few snowflakes, “WHAT?” There is no more room for doubt regarding the matter, something is definitely wrong with spring.
“Shit…” mutters Marisa, “I guess Alice was right. DID we truly get spring back? Did we miss something?”
Reimu guesses, “Could Yuyuko be taking another shot at taking our season? If so, we gotta return to the Netherworld and makes sure the lesson we tried to teach her before sticks this time!”
“Sounds like a plan,” says Marisa, “I’ve created a new batch of spell cards, so I’m ready…”
“Not me,” says Reimu, “I left all my equipment at the shrine. We have to go there first.”
Marisa jokingly remarks, “Reimu, we all have to rely on spell cards and all, but you have to put your faith in so many other tools. If you were a witch, like me, you’d have most of what you need with you at ALL times.”
Reimu sighs, “Well, it’s too late for me to change over now…”
Within a few minutes, Reimu and Marisa make it back to the Hakurei Shrine. As they approach the doorway, however, they notice that there are several pairs of shoes lying near the doorstep. Reimu observes the obvious, “It seems I have some visitors…”
“Figures…” says Marisa impatiently.
They walk in to the main room and see five girls lined up, each kneeling on a cushion: Sakuya, Cirno, Letty, Lily, and…
“YUYUKO?” screams Marisa, “What the hell are YOU doing here? You have a lot of nerve visiting after trying to steal spring again!”
Yuyuko staggeringly replies, “It’s not me this time, I swear!”
Sakuya speaks up for Yuyuko, “I think she’s telling the truth. Remember, Yuyuko had to focus on that magical circle! Whoever is doing this now is not her!”
“… Then who?”
Reimu speaks to the rest of the visitors, “Ah! Cirno! Long time, no see! You look well!”
“Yup!” responds Cirno.
“And Lily White, I guess you’re here about these weird occurrences as well.”
Lily replies to Reimu, “I wouldn’t be here under any other circumstances.”
Reimu looks at Letty, whose form is constantly transparent and flickering, “Um… Who is this?”
Letty answers, “My name is Letty Whiterock. I am a youkai that only appears during the winter. I suppose my very presence in this world right now is a curious thing…”
Reimu, assuming all the visitors are at the shrine for the same reason, says, “So I take it you all noticed the strange occurrences going on right now and came here for help?”
All the visitors, except for Yuyuko and Cirno, answer, “Yes.”
“I’m just tagging along with Letty,” says Cirno.
“And I KNOW what’s going on,” says Yuyuko.
“Well then, let’s hear it,” says Marisa to Yuyuko. Reimu and Marisa sit down.
Yuyuko explains, “As you know, I was gathering Gensokyo’s spring essence to fully bloom the youkai cherry tree, the Saigyou Ayakashi. I told my servants it was to make it the most beautiful tree in Hakugyokurou, but my personal reason was different…”
“What were you up to?” asks Reimu.
“I heard that sealed within the tree is someone’s soul. I was interested in unsealing it.”
“Why exactly did you care about that?” asks Sakuya, “Things get sealed for a reason.”
“The spirit and soul must be united for someone to be subject to the natural order. People die, go to the Netherworld for several-hundred years, then get judged by the great Yama to decide whether that person goes to Heaven, Hell, or gets reincarnated. As I have heard, the vast majority becomes reincarnated. Only the select few face the former two. But that only applies to those whose spirits and soul are one. If someone only has his or her spirit, he or she won’t make it past the Netherworld stage.”
Despite Yuyuko’s lengthy explanation, she still didn’t answer Sakuya’s question, so she again asks, “So why were you trying to unseal the soul?”
Yuyuko answers, “I was mostly curious to know whose soul it was, but I had other reasons as well… The ability to Invoke Death comes naturally to me. All I can do is see death and end lives. If I could reunite someone’s spirit and soul, I could have been able to provide one with life for once…”
“I see…” Reimu, hearing Yuyuko’s explanation, understands that Yuyuko’s intentions for taking spring were not malevolent in any way and that some of her intentions were good, though it still didn’t justify putting Gensokyo in danger.
Marisa cuts to the real problem at hand, “So, if you are not the one behind this, who is?”
Yuyuko answers, “A friend of mine named Yukari Yakumo. She told me about what was sealed in the Saigyou Ayakashi, but she seems to know more than she told me. She took stealing spring into her own hands after you stopped me…”
Letty mentions, “How is she doing this? As you can see, I’m here, but not entirely. It’s like winter and spring are going on at the same time.”
“She’s sucking the spring essence out of Gensokyo,” explains Yuyuko, “she opens portals and VROOM! Sucks the essence up like a vacuum.”
“’Portals?’” asks Marisa, “Just what is this ‘Yukari?’”
“A boundary youkai. She has existed since Gensokyo’s origins.”
Reimu puts her hand under her chin, “An Elder Youkai… Those are virtually at the top of the latter… So she’s now gathering the spring essence in your stead? Why did you come here and tell us all this anyway, Yuyuko?”
“Yeah!” adds Marisa, “Yukari’s picking up where you failed! Shouldn’t you be HAPPY she’s doing this?”
Yuyuko sighs, “Perhaps. However, I underestimated the attachment the people of Gensokyo have to spring…” She looks at Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya, “The three of you taught me that. Also, I feel Yukari has some personal motives for blooming it. It seemed Youmu knew something as well, but Yukari took her away before she could say something, like Youmu knew something she didn’t want to be revealed… This is far too suspicious…” She focuses her attention on Reimu, “I recognized your clothing as that of a miko’s, and I know there is only one in Gensokyo, so I came here hoping to get your help. Please stop the Saigyou Ayakashi from blooming again and get Yukari to release Youmu. Once again, spring depends on it.”
Without hesitation, Reimu answers, “Sure thing! We got spring back and I sure as hell am not gonna let it be taken away again!”
Sakuya rises to her feet, “It’s strange that this is coming at the request of a former enemy, but I agree with you Reimu. I didn’t go through all that, just for it to be taken away again…”
Marisa volunteers as well, “A long winter, a few days of spring, then winter again? Way too fucked up for my liking. I’m in!”
“Yay~!” cheers Yuyuko, back to her usual self, “Thank you so much!”
Reimu turns to Cirno, Letty, and Lily, “Do you three wish to join in as well?”
Letty says, “Um… All the spring essence is going to the Netherworld, which would mean it’s spring there, right? I couldn’t go there if I tried…”
Lily adds, “At the same time, spring exists here. I only go where the season goes, so all the essence would have to be removed from Gensokyo if you want me to accompany you there…”
Marisa looks at Cirno, “How about you, Cirno? You aren’t restricted by where you can go because of a season, right? How about tagging along with us?”
Cirno nervously grumbles, “Elder Youkai… Netherworld…” She finally answers, “Er… No! I wanna spend time with Letty!”
Marisa sighs, “Have it your way. There goes a whole shitload of potential that we could use!”
“Um…” Cirno ignores Marisa’s bluff and follows Letty and Lily out of the shrine.
With Reimu, Marisa, Sakuya, and Yuyuko left alone in the shrine, Yuyuko exclaims, “ALL RIGHT! Let’s go!”
“Of course,” nods Sakuya.
“For spring!” declares Reimu.
“Kicking some youkai ass while we’re at it!” adds Marisa. With that, the four of them fly out of the shrine.
Within 40 minutes, they are flying over the Forest of Magic with Yuyuko leading the way, as last time Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya went to the Netherworld, it was dark and they were blindly finding their way, thus the geography of the location which leads to the Netherworld is still not clear to them.
“Do you know where you’re going?” Reimu asks Yuyuko.
“Of course!” answers Yuyuko confidently, “I found my way to the shrine, so of course I know my way back!”
“I hope so…”
Suddenly, right ahead of them, a pink pillar of light appears. “What the fuck?” exclaims Marisa. They fly over and see that the pillar is rising from out of the ground and into a black portal several feet above.
Reimu closely examines the pillar, “Is that…?”
“Spring essence,” says Yuyuko, “It’s being sucked from Gensokyo, the result of a special spell card Yukari created for this very purpose. At the same time, all over Gensokyo, similar things are happening like what’s happening here…” The pillar of essence disappears into the portal, which vanishes soon after. The land below, once colorful and lively, had turned brown and barren. The air within the general area becomes briskly cold.
“Shit…” mutters Marisa, “If it keeps going like what just happened here, Gensokyo will enter a full winter in no time.”
“Then we mustn’t dawdle,” says Sakuya, “Lead the way to the Netherworld and Yukari, Yuyuko.”
“Yes…” Yuyuko flies ahead, with Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya following closely. In a couple minutes, they fly over a lake, which Marisa soon notices as the one where she fought Alice, and follow Yuyuko higher into the sky, into the passage separating Gensokyo from the Netherworld, where they encountered Lily and the Prismriver Sisters.
Reimu asks Yuyuko, “So, can you tell us a little about Yukari?”
“Yeah, like what kinda powers does she have?”
“Well you have seen that portal, and that’s what she does. She can freely go through the boundaries. Other than that, she has two shikigami.”
“Shikigami?” asks Sakuya, unfamiliar with the term.
“Familiar spirits or contracted beasts,” Marisa educates Sakuya, “Via a contract they are bound to a master, but something doesn’t make sense with what you just said, Yuyuko. Yukari has TWO shikigami? That’s impossible! Only one is allowed!”
Yuyuko lightly taps herself on the head, “Oh! Of course! You’re absolutely right! Yukari DOES only have one shikigami: a kitsune named Ran.”
“A kitsune…” says Reimu, “A fox youkai… Yuyuko, how many tails does she have?”
“Shit… I was afraid of that…”
“What does the amount of tails she has have to do with anything?” asks Sakuya.
Reimu answers, “It means Yukari isn’t the only Elder Youkai we have to deal with. Nine tails means this ‘Ran’ had lived for nine-hundred or more years…”
“I imagine she’s not much younger than Yukari,” says Yuyuko, “And what I was meaning to say was that Ran also has a shikigami, a nekomata named Chen, thus two shikigami under Yukari.”
Reimu thinks for a few seconds, “Chen… I know that name… I got it! It’s that catgirl I fought in that ghost town!”
“So that’s it?” asks Marisa, “Well if you beat her once, we can beat her again!”
“It won’t be so easy,” says Yuyuko, “You seem to know quite a bit about shikigami, so you must know the benefits they get around one another.”
Marisa knows where Yuyuko is coming from, “Shit, you’re right! Shikigami are powered up when in the proximity of their masters… You didn’t see any nine-tailed foxes around when you fought Chen before, did you, Reimu?”
“No. I would have remembered if there were.”
“I see… She was most likely weakened in that case…”
Sakuya says, “In any case, we know a little about our enemies. No use worrying now.”
After a half hour, they reach the gate to the Netherworld and cross over, leading them to the ludicrously long staircase.
“Dammit!” complains Marisa, “We have to fly up these steps again, don’t we?”
“I’m afraid so,” answers Yuyuko.
“Aw… I was hoping you’d point out a secret passage or something…”
“Once again, our goal awaits at the top,” says Reimu.
“Well, there is no use talking about this,” says Sakuya, “Let’s get to the top and regain our season… for good!” They fly up the stairs as fast as they can.
In the gardens of Hakugyokurou, the Prismriver Sisters look at the distant Saigyou Ayakashi as its blossoms steadily mature.
“Is it happening again?” asks Lyrica, “Spring being taken from Gensokyo to bloom that tree?”
“I can’t think of any other way,” says Lunasa, “but Yuyuko-sama, nor Youmu, said anything to us about this…”
Optimistically, Merlin exclaims, “Hey! At least we can play to the tree’s blossoming, right? That’s a plus!”
“I dunno,” says Lunasa, “Something doesn’t feel so right about it this time. I can’t put my finger on it…”
Lyrica asks, “Then what should we do, elder sister?”
Lunasa answers, “Nothing. We don’t know what’s going on, so we should wait and see how this all plays out…”
Elsewhere, high above the Hakugyokurou gardens, Ran and Chen hover and stare at the Saigyou Ayakashi as well.
“It’s coming along pretty well,” says Ran.
“It’s really pretty, nya,” adds Chen, “but something is bothering me…”
“What is it?” asks Ran, concerned.
“It’s the mistress, Yukari, nya! She’s… different, nya! She’s always so happy and carefree, but she is now so serious! She’s scaring me, nya!”
“Don’t worry,” says Ran in a comforting voice, running her hand through Chen’s hair, making her purr a little, “Yukari-sama… has been planning these events over for the past 1,000 years, and now the time has come. I also think it’s unusual for her, but I understand her position. This is one of the few things she’s been serious about. It’s about a dear friend she had lost a long time ago, and becoming reunited with her.”
“Friend?” asks Chen, “What’s wrong with us, nya?”
“Nothing. It’s just that Yukari-sama has had very few friends in her long life and she cares much for them. Yuyuko Saigyouji, Suika Ibuki… She has acquaintances outside of us. But don’t worry. No matter what, we are by her side! Let’s just help her through this and everything between us will return to normal.”
Elsewhere, in a purple void, Youmu hangs in the air, her arms, legs, and ghost-half restrained by an invisible force. “Damn it… Yukari didn’t want me talking… but why? What did she have to do with any of this?”
“Fufufu~ More than you think, Little Miss Youmie!” Yukari materializes out of thing air and floats over to Youmu.
“That’s YOUMU! And it’s about time you showed up! Why did you imprison me here? You didn’t want me talking, right? But it was FATHER who wanted me to keep that a secret, not you!”
With a cute smirk, Yukari says, “You honestly aren’t in any position to demand things from me. But anyways, have you ever wondered HOW your father, Youki, knew about the secrets of the Saigyou Ayakashi?”
“…” Youmu is stunned into silence, as Yukari brought up a point she never even considered.
“After what I just said, I’m sure your brain is just making up one possibility after another, but I’ll save you the trouble. After all, you were taught to serve and protect, not to think. It was none other than me that revealed that tidbit of info to him, and in turn, to you.”
“Why?” asks Youmu, “Why were you concerned with that at all?”
“It’s everything I’m concerned with. I had to wait for 1,000 years, so competent protectors were needed. I told Youki the truth about the tree, and he agreed to defend its secret from all things… including Yuyuko herself.”
“1,000 years… the amount of time a spirit reaches the point of powerful attachment to the spirit world… But regardless of that, you do realize what will happen to Yuyuko-sama, right? She will no longer be bound to the Netherworld as a ghost! She could be reincarnated or…”
Yukari brings her face so close to Youmu’s, it appears like she were about to kiss her. Youmu blushes slightly from the situation’s awkwardness, “Youmu… that is the last thing I want. I’m sure you’ve learned enough about souls and the process a spirit would go through in re-obtaining one. It is divided into two parts, memories of life and the rights to Heaven, Hell, or reincarnation. All I desire for Yuyuko is the former. My plan was to bloom the Saigyou Ayakashi, releasing it. She would start regaining her memories. Afterward, I seal it all over again.” Yukari pulls away from Youmu.
“Why all this for the sake of memories? Why endanger Gensokyo?”
“It’s more than memories, Youmu. It’s about Yuyuko’s TRUE self.”
“Her ‘true’ self?”
“Tsk. Tsk. For a servant, you know little about your own mistress, but I guess it’s irrelevant information for you. After all, the Yuyuko you know is but a shadow of who she REALLY is. Her true self in form… but not in spirit. After sleeping all these years, she will finally awaken, her wish fulfilled and the humans that feared and scorned her…” Yukari makes a fist “… purged!”
“Her wish? Humans that feared her? What do you know about Yuyuko-sama?”
“I don’t have to tell you,” says Yukari, almost tauntingly, “All you need to know is that the Yuyuko you know is not who she really is. Once my mission is complete, I shall release you from here so you can meet your TRUE master. Until then, hang tight.” With that Yukari open a portal and disappears.
Youmu, struggling to break free of her binding, yells, “Damn you, Yukari! How could you go and do this without Yuyuko-sama’s permission? Get back here!”
Yukari reappears behind Youmu, “Oh, dear me. I got so caught up in our little chat that I forgot what I came here for…” Yukari slips the Roukanken out of its sheathe.
“Give that back NOW!” demands Youmu.
Yukari casually says, “Looking at you right now, I don’t think you need it. Besides I’ll leave the Hakurouken to keep you company.”
“That’s not what I’m saying! What do you need it for?”
“I’m sure the intruders that stopped Yuyuko before will come back when they notice the change back in Gensokyo. I’m making preparations.”
“If they beat Yuyuko-sama, what chance do you think you have?”
Dropping the Roukanken into a small wormhole, Yukari says, “I assure you, I’m stronger than I look. Plus, I have Ran and Chen with me, plus full preparations in the event that they do attack.” Yukari turns her back, “Okay, I’m really gonna leave this time. Fufufu~” With a giggle, Yukari disappears into a portal.
Youmu futilely attempts to struggle free, “Dammit! If I don’t do something, Yuyuko-sama will disappear!”
Yukari reappears above Hakugyokurou Palace, looking at the rapidly blossoming Saigyou Ayakashi, “Soon, Yuko. Soon, we will be reunited… Before that happens, however…” Yukari looks back over her shoulder, “certain risk factors must be removed from the equation and I must find Yuyuko…” Yukari draws and raises a spell card, “Shikigami: Ran Yakumo!”
Nearby, Ran materializes out of thin air, “For what have you summoned me, Yukari-sama?”
“Put your game face on, Ran, for we are about to have some fun~”
An hour passes as Reimu, Marisa, Sakuya, and Yuyuko fly up the stone stairs. Yuyuko reassures everyone, “We are not far from the top now.”
“Good thing we have you to tell us this,” says Marisa, “Everything looks the same to me. Why is this series of stairs so damn high?”
“I don’t know. I guess that’s the way the Netherworld is as a whole. This has been here since as long as I can remember…”
Reimu asks, “Yuyuko, are you a human that died and came here?”
Yuyuko answers, “I don’t know. I’ve been here far longer than any other ghost and I became the princess of Hakugyokurou for as long as I can remember. I can’t imagine I was once human…”
“Hm…” Reimu sees some possible holes in Yuyuko’s explanation, but is not completely certain.
Suddenly all conversation is cut short by a number of dark portals opening in front of them.
“What?” yells Sakuya.
Yuyuko observes, “That’s Yukari’s…”
The portals glow white, then shoot out several bolts of energy. Yuyuko creates a shield of butterflies as Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya frantically avoid the bolts. Finally, they stop, “Fufufu~ magnificently evaded, not that I expected anything less.” Yukari appears from out of a portal and Ran and Chen materialize out of thin air by her sides.
Reimu says to Chen, “So we meet again, Chen. I never thought you’d play a part this whole thing.”
Chen screeches, “Nya! You’re that old lady from Miyohiga, nya!”
“Hey! Who are you calling an old lady?”
“Ah, so this is that human girl that causes you so much trouble?” Ran asks Chen.
Marisa looks at Ran, whose nine tails are protruding out from behind her back, “And with all those tails, I take it you’re Ran…”
“So you’ve heard of me? Well, seeing that Yuyuko is with you, I can imagine that possibility.”
Sakuya looks at Yukari, “And, through power of deduction, you must be Yukari Yakumo, the one who is now stealing spring’s essence from Gensokyo!”
“Fufufu~” Yukari giggles, “Very observant. You’re right, I am an Elder Youkai, one of Gensokyo oldest residents, but I’m sure Yuyuko told you that…” She shifts her attention toward Yuyuko, “Speaking of which, I was looking for you! I knew someone would come to confront me regarding the spring being sucked from Gensokyo, but I didn’t expect YOU to arrange it. Still, it is of little consequence. In little time, enough essence will be gathered, but I don’t want any distractions when that happens, so let’s settle this, shall we?”
“Try it!” challenges Marisa.
I don’t plan for all of us to go all-out,” says Yukari, “Way too messy. Ran! Chen! Pick your opponents; just leave one for me to have fun with!”
Ran and Chen nod at Yukari, then charge at Sakuya and Marisa respectively, faster than they can react. They grab them. Ran, with her left arm around Sakuya, raises a spell card, “Silence Sign! World of Absent Power!” Marisa, Sakuya, Ran, and Chen suddenly vanish into thin air, leaving only Reimu, Yuyuko, and Yukari.
Reimu looks around frantically, “Huh? Where did they go, Yukari?”
Yukari answers, “Ran activated a dimensional spell card. Right now, they are in a temporary realm. Nothing you can do. Only someone like me can go where they are.
Reimu recalls the effect with the last spell card the Prismriver Sisters used and understands, “Well then, I must say I feel bad for your shikigami for picking those two, plus you have me to deal with and I’m more than enough! Let’s do this, Yukari!”
Yukari casually replies, “Not here. I shall be waiting for you at the Saigyou Ayakashi. Ciao~” With a wink, Yukari disappears into a portal.
Yuyuko says, “It looks like we have to go where she said. We aren’t far.”
“Yeah…” Reimu and Yuyuko quickly ascend the stairs, headed for Hakugyokurou.
In an indigo void, Marisa and Sakuya hover in the empty space.
“Where the hell ARE we?” asks Marisa.
“Ran was declaring a spell card, and it might have been one of those dimensional-shifting ones,” says Sakuya, “but I wonder where Ran and Chen went. They were grabbing us before…”
“Oh, we’re here!” Ran and Chen materialize in front of Marisa and Sakuya.
Chen adds, “Yup, we are, nya!”
Ran explains, “Nothing personal, but Yukari-sama ordered us to put a cease to your meddling. Thus, I’m afraid the two of you have to get through us first.”
“It’s annoying,” says Sakuya, drawing a spell card, “but it seems we don’t have an option in this case. Illusion Sign!”
At the same time as Sakuya, Marisa draws a spell card, “Love Sign!”
However, nothing happens. The cards don’t change into energy for their intended attacks or give off any other effects.
“What’s going on?” asks Sakuya, raising her card again, “Illusion Sign!” Once again, no effect.
“This is the effect of my spell card,” explains Ran, “While you are in this subspace, any being outside of relation to myself cannot use the power of spell cards. However, that only applies to the two of you. Chen is perfectly capable of using hers.”
“Aw… what a bitch…” complains Marisa.
“I love this, nya,” says Chen happily, “It’s great when you do this, Ran-sama!”
“I’m sure you know what to do,” says Ran, “As one of my spell cards are currently in effect, I can’t use any others. It’s up to you, as the only one here who can use spell cards, to protect me.”
Marisa quickly figures out Ran’s angle, muttering to Sakuya, so Ran and Chen don’t hear, “So that’s it… Ran eliminates our best chance, thus potentially making Chen the most powerful one here…”
Ran, with keen hearing, says, “You’re absolutely right…”
Marisa flinches, “Oh shit… she heard me…”
“… however, figuring out my intentions won’t make your situation any less dire. The obvious course of action would be to ignore Chen and focus on me, breaking my control over this subspace, unfortunately for you, Chen has the perfect spell card to counter that. Do it, Chen.”
“Of course, nya!” Chen draws a spell card.
“Damn…” mutters Sakuya in dismay, “Ran has got this well-figured out…”
“I’m more worried about Chen right now,” says Marisa.
Chen raises her spell card, “Flight Sign!” Her card turns into golden energy, which flows into her body, “Flight of Idaten!” A golden aura surrounds Chen.
Sakuya, figuring a direct attack on Ran is still the best option, draws s handful of knives and tosses them in Ran’s direction, who simply hovers in place with a confident smirk on her face.
Chen sees the knives flying in her master’s direction and instantaneously moves in the path of the knives, deflecting them with her claws.
“Tch.” Sakuya clicks her tongue in dismay, with slight surprise.
With her mouth agape, Marisa asks Sakuya, “Did… you even see her move? She was so quick, it took me a second to realize she did!”
“No, I didn’t see her move,” says Sakuya, “and I see how this combination works, and I must say we are at quite the disadvantage…”
“Don’t you see?” asks Ran, “I prevent the use of your spell cards and Chen defends me with her unmatched speed. Of course, this isn’t to say I’m being entirely defensive…” Ran spreads her arms. In various locations, small magic circles appear, and each fires out a beam of energy. Marisa and Sakuya, keeping an eye on where the beams are coming from, narrowly dodge. Both of them counterattack by firing several burst of magic and throwing knives, respectively, both of which, Chen quickly intercepts.
“Dammit!” yells Marisa, “How are we supposed to break through such a defense while Ran can wear us down?”
Chen laughs, “Nyahaha! You can’t! We have the perfect combination!” Marisa and Sakuya shift their attention toward Chen and proceed with their respective attacks. Chen, upon noticing the magical shots and knives flying at her, easily zips out of the way, “That won’t work, nya!”
Ran, with a content smile, says, “There are no weaknesses in this combination. Everything you try is useless.”
“Grr…” Frustrated, Marisa growls.
“…” Sakuya observes the situation quietly.
Meanwhile, Reimu and Yuyuko reach the top of the stairs and fly over the gardens of Hakugyokurou, rapidly approaching the distant Saigyou Ayakashi. A pink beam shoots down from the sky and into the tree.
“That’s where Yukari said she’d be waiting,” says Yuyuko.
“Same battle zone as before,” observes Reimu, “I wonder why Yukari wants us over there…”
As they get closer to the tree, it becomes more obvious that the blossoms of the tree are rapidly maturing. Reimu asks, “Huh? Has that much essence been taken from Gensokyo already? It hasn’t been long since we got here, so I’d still say it was in decent shape…”
Yuyuko says, “Remember, the seal was nearly broken before.”
Reimu understands what Yuyuko is getting at, “Yeah, and if that’s the case, it should be easier to break this time!”
Finally, they land on the roof of Hakugyokurou Palace, looking at the once-again magnificent Saigyou Ayakashi. Reimu yells, “We’re here like you wanted! Show yourself, Yukari Yakumo!”
A portal opens up in front of the Saigyou Ayakashi’s trunk, which Yukari emerges from, “Welcome! So you’ve made it at last. You are where I need you, Yuyuko.” Yukari lands on the edge of the palace’s roof.
“Please tell me what this is about!” pleads Yuyuko.
Yukari raises an eyebrow, “Huh? What do you mean, Yuyuko? You know I’m trying to help you accomplish the task you originally set out to do.”
Yuyuko shakes her head, “No. You aren’t doing this for me. You’ve been hiding your reasons the entire time. You knew I’d be curious about what is within the tree and I took the bait. Now you are going to extreme measures and even kidnapped Youmu. I brought the humans that stopped me, in case you wouldn’t listen to reason.”
Yukari humbly sighs, “Yes… you are right, Yuyuko. I do have my reasons… but know this: It has always been for your sake! I’ve planned this from a thousand years ago for you!”
“…” Reimu listens silently, knowing that the situation is about to become more complicated than simply Gensokyo losing its winter.
“What is this about?” asks Yuyuko, “Tell me, Yukari!”
Yukari briefly pauses and says, “Well, at this stage… I have nothing to lose by telling you now…”
“Er…” Yuyuko doesn’t know what to make of Yukari’s choice of words.
“Yuyuko, you are a spirit lacking a soul.”
“Wh-what? But… I’m the princess of Hakugyokurou!”
“Because you are the only one of your kind, thus you are bound to this realm for eternity. Otherwise, you would have been just like every other deceased spirit that calls this place home. Without the soul, you cannot leave, and you have zero recollections of who you were in life.”
“Who I was in… life…?”
Yukari smirks, “But… I’ve known you since then. Longer than you’ve been a ghost here. I know who you REALLY are, Yuyuko!”
“Who I really am…?”
Reimu realizes that Yuyuko is starting to have some inner turmoil from realizing she is not exactly what she had thought.
“Yes. Your true name is Yuko Saigyou.”
“Yu… ko…? I… heard that name somewhere… I based my own name off of it…”
“Exactly. A name is such a vivid memory, it is bound to the spirit, so it’s no wonder. Anyways, you were originally human, but you had the unique power to Invoke Death in others, as well as SEE death. You feared your own power… but your fellow humans were probably more terrified.”
“They scorned you, reviled you, beat you, treat you like an outcast… a monster! All because of that ability they failed to understand.”
Reimu, listening to Yukari’s story along with Yuyuko, feels sympathy for her, and feels a little regretful that her own kind can be so cruel.
“So… that’s it...”
“Yuko wished to live among youkai like myself, for we don’t reject others for being different, unlike humans,” Yukari’s voice softens a little bit, “In spite of that, however, she was endlessly kind and forgiving. I couldn’t understand why she was that way, even after all that’s happened to her… but that’s what caused me to be drawn to you. How you appealed to me so much. As humans go, she was one in a million. I never thought I’d feel that way for one of the creatures that sought to dominated Gensokyo, removing us youkai from our rightful place… but for once… I didn’t care…”
“I was the light within the darkness that was Yuko’s life! I loved you more than even youkai. You taught me… that there were decent humans as well.”
Reimu asks, “If you realize that, then why are putting them in danger?”
“Let me continue, please,” Yukari clears her throat, “There was a tree… a youkai tree… sucking the life from Gensokyo. There was no way to stop it… except… sealing its power.”
“The Saigyou Ayakashi?” guesses Yuyuko.
“Bingo! Humans were terrified of you and you were terrified of yourself… Even so, being your pure self, you decided to perform one final noble act for the sake of all of Gensokyo!”
Based on the visions she got from looking at the being from the tree and the information Yukari just gave, a fact forms in Yuyuko’s mind, beyond any doubt, “The soul within the Saigyou Ayakashi is mine… Yuko’s…”
“Precisely! You were the last of a clan that could use a forbidden technique, in which you could seal the power of something at the expense of one’s own soul, but you were the first that actually used it. You sealed the tree’s power, at the sacrifice of your soul, and with that… your life.”
Yuyuko stutters, “I… I see…”
Yukari’s mood turns more solemn, “Soon after, I discovered you… dead, laying at the base of the tree. You… did a truly noble thing… but I’m certain you wanted to escape from the other humans… and yourself. Become a ghost… a youkai, like you wanted. When you told me about the soul-sealing technique, you said that the soul can be freed by replenishing to power of that which was sealed, in this case, spring essence. I saw it as a sign: to one day bring you back and annihilate the humans you feared and wanted to escape from!”
The outraged Reimu cuts in, “You’re insane! Even if you want to destroy humans, many youkai live in Gensokyo as well! You’ll wipe them out too!”
Yukari shakes her head, “No. When Gensokyo loses every drop of its essence, it will fall into a terrible blizzard with winds cold enough to freeze magma, strong enough to tear houses apart. Youkai can persevere through the incident. Humans won’t. Once they are gone, I will return the essence and Gensokyo will be a youkai world once again!”
Yuyuko protests, “Yuko wanted to be a youkai, but you want to reunite her soul and myself? You are betraying her!”
“No. All I mean to do is have you make basic contact with your soul, just to the point Yuko’s consciousness crosses into your own, then I seal it again. Yuko will become the eternal ghost of her true self. Of course, Yuyuko will cease to be in that case.”
“You may have been my friend, Yukari, but I won’t let you do this!” Yuyuko extends her arm toward Yukari and sends a small swarm of butterflies at her.
Yukari sighs and says, “Of course… I didn’t think you’d give up without a fight…” Yukari folds her parasol and enters a portal, causing the butterflies to miss.
Yuyuko looks around, “Huh? Where’d you go Yukari?”
Yukari emerges from a portal behind Yuyuko and her parasol connects with the back of her head.
Yuyuko gasps, “Yu… ka… ri…” then faints from the blow.
“YUYUKO!” yells Reimu.
Yukari turns her attention toward Reimu, “One of the humans that thwarted attempt A. You caused me quite a bit of trouble for me to take this on myself. It would be anticlimactic for your life to end in a blizzard, which is why I will end you here.”
Reimu raises her gohei in a defensive stance, “I may have nothing to do with your plans for Yuyuko, but the fact remains that you are endangering humans. As miko of Gensokyo and a youkai hunter, I will punish you, even if you are an Elder Youkai!”
Yukari, with a confident smirk, says, “Very well. I’ll show you how powerless you are against the highest class of youkai, human!”
Back in Ran’s subspace, the battle rages on between Marisa and Sakuya and Ran and Chen, with the latter duo still gaining the upper hand, but Sakuya observes the situation and backs off with Marisa, whispering to make extra sure Ran doesn’t hear, “Marisa! Try to get Chen a little closer to me! I have a plan…”
Marisa shrugs and says, “Sure. What the hell?”
Sakuya focuses her power as Marisa charges head on at Chen.
Chen watches Marisa approach, “Nya? Head on? Haven’t seen that…”
Ran says, “Obviously, they are running out of good ideas in their long game. Do whatever you want, Chen.”
“Nyahaha!” Chen, still under the effects of her spell card, charges at Marisa with intense speed, baring her claws.
SLASH! Chen swipes at the side of Marisa face, causing a scar, “AH!” However, she reaches over and grabs Chen by one of her tails, yanking it hard.
“MEOWWWWWWWW!” Chen howls in pain.
“Chen!” yells Ran.
Marisa circles a couple times on her broom, swinging Chen around, then tossing her toward Sakuya, “She’s all yours, Sakuya! Do whatever you have to!”
As the stunned Chen flies toward Sakuya, she freezes time. The indigo void turns gray in the few seconds Sakuya has in suspended time without the aid of a spell card. She flies behind Chen and restrains her as time resumes.
Chen, realizing the situation yells, as she struggles, “Nya? Where did you come from, nya? Lemmie go, nya!”
Sakuya yells to Marisa, “I got her, now attack Ran, Marisa!”
“Huh?” Ran’s eyes widen, seeing the unforeseen loophole in her strategy.
Marisa, with a sly smirk, responds, “Sure thing!” She turns to Ran, “Get ready, foxgirl!”
“Tch.” Ran anticipates Marisa’s next move. Marisa flies straight at Ran, extending her arm, and firing several explosive blue shots of magic. Ran flies to the side and out of the way, counterattacking by materializing a swarm of purple blades, made of magical energy. Marisa flies toward the blades, firing a volley of magic bullets, destroying most of the blades, and flies through an opening in the rest, closing in on Ran. Marisa fires an extra large burst of magic, which directly hits Ran, causing her to lose control of the subspace. The void vanishes and they end up back above the stairs leading to Hakugyokurou.
Chen breaks free from Sakuya’s restraint and flies over to Ran, “Are you okay, nya?”
Ran, pained slightly, says, “I’ll be fine, Chen, but they broke my spell card’s effect…”
Marisa, falling back to Sakuya’s location, crows, “That’s what happens when you try to deprive us of our spell cards! We do crazy shit to get to use them again!”
Sakuya smiles contently, “That’s an accurate way of putting it.”
Ran says, “That’s not all I’m capable of. Without that subspace, I’m free to use the full extent of my power!”
Back on the roof of Hakugyokurou Palace, the showdown between Reimu and Yukari begins. Reimu charges at Yukari and swings her gohei horizontally, but Yukari opens a portal beneath her and drops in, narrowly avoiding her attack.
Huh? Where’d she go to? Reimu looks around, suddenly recalling what Yukari did to Yuyuko and looks behind her back to see Yukari behind her, arm extended, about to fire a beam of magical energy. Reimu dodges to the side as Yukari fires, albeit being slightly grazed in the hip, grabbing a handful of needles and tossing them at Yukari, who deflects them with her parasol.
Yukari laughs, “Fufufu~ Not bad! This might be worth my while!”
“I’ll be much more than that!” Reimu grabs another needle and tosses it at Yukari, who escapes into a portal yet again. Estimating Yukari’s next move, Reimu whirls around and tosses a needle without taking the time to aim or even see if Yukari had appeared.
A portal opens and Yukari emerges, unexpectedly getting the needle in her shoulder, “AH!” A red stain spreads on the white fabric of Yukari’s dress. “Gr. Accursed human…”
“That’s what you get, plus more! This is what happens to youkai that threaten Gensokyo!”
Yukari smirks slightly, “Don’t… you think it’s ironic that there are people like you that live to hunt youkai?”
“After a human’s inevitable death, they become ghosts… another form of youkai!”
“What’s your point?”
“That you hunt youkai, yet they are the ultimate existence! Even humans become them in one way or another! If it makes you feel better, wiping out humans is a form of creating equality among all of Gensokyo’s creatures!”
“No matter how you try to justify it, what you are doing is trying to take the life of many innocent people! YAAA!” Reimu leaps toward Yukari and attempts another attack with her gohei.
“Fufufu~” Yukari blocks the attack with her parasol and in a quick movement, concealed by her large dress, knees Reimu in the gut.
“ACK!” Reimu hunches over in reaction to the blow. Yukari swings her parasol, hitting her in the side of the head, sending her careening across the palace roof. Finally, Yukari extends her left arm and fires a bolt of energy, completing the combination and knocking Reimu to the surface, “D-damn it…”
Yukari stretches her arms out, “How fun~ It feels good doing things like that to you~”
“You bitch! You haven’t seen a fraction of what I can do!” Reimu rises to her feet and draws a spell card.
Observing the situation, Yukari says, “Putting it that way, I might believe you, but at the same time, I must say the same!” She draws a spell card of her own.
Back above the stair passage to Hakugyokurou, Ran draws a spell card, “Shikigami!” Red energy flows into her body, “CHEN!” The energy flows from Ran and into Chen’s body, “This will allow you the full extent of your power! Use it well!”
Chen, whose previous spell card had worn off, says, “Sure will, nya!” She turns her attention toward Marisa and hisses, “Hsssss! And I will use it on the one that hurt Ran-sama!”
Marisa says, “Bring it on, cat-bitch! I’ll let YOU know the full extent of mine!” Marisa raises a spell card, “Stand back, Sakuya! This is gonna be intense! Magicannon!”
“Ye-yes…” Sakuya floats away from Marisa, recalling the last time she used that declaration.
Rainbow-colored energy flows into Marisa’s body, but once again, she has trouble controlling it right away, Damn! I didn’t get much practice between then and now! It will take me a few seconds to control this!
Chen laughs, “Nyahaha! You seem to be having trouble, nya, but I’m ready! TAKE THIS, NYA!” Chen holds out her arms and her red aura gathers into her hands, finally releasing a massive red beam.
“Aw shit!” The beam slams into Marisa, pushing her off her broomstick and through the air. However, she desperately tries to remain focused. Finally, she gets control of her power, “Gr. Ah! FINAL SPARK!” Marisa fires her massive rainbow-colored beam, which completely swallows Chen’s beam.
“WHAT?” yells Ran.
“NYAAAAAAAAAA!” cries Chen. Within seconds, the Final Spark slams into Chen, sending her flying, “Rowwwww… I’m sorry, Ran-sama! I can’t go on, nya…” With that, Chen fades into thin air.
“No! Chen!” yells the deeply concerned Ran.
At the same time, Marisa, who was knocked off her broomstick, plummets down to the stairs below. Sakuya, purely acting on reflex, much to her confusion, swoops down and grabs Marisa from below, bringing her safely down to the steps.
Weakly, Marisa says, “I’m… sorry, Sakuya… Between the Final Spark and the cat’s attack, I can barely move. Foxgirl’s all yours, Sakuya. At least I took care of the cat…”
Sakuya pauses, and says, unsure of what else to says, “Sure. Thanks. I will take care of the rest.” She places the exhausted Marisa on the steps and floats up to Ran’s level, “It’s just the two of us now…”
“Indeed,” responds Ran, “And I will get even. Chen is like a daughter to me, and as a ‘mother,’ I won’t let those that would bully her get away unpunished.”
Sakuya analyzes Ran’s words, She’s serious… I’ve heard parental love is a powerful thing… but I never thought I would have to face it. “Very well, Ran. I won’t let those that stand in the way of spring get away with their crimes.”
Throughout Gensokyo, the situation grows steadily worse.
On the summit of a mountain, Letty and Cirno watch from a distance at several pillars of spring essence being sucked from the earth. Cirno observes, “Letty… you are becoming more solid…”
Letty looks at her hand, which, sure enough, is becoming more stable, “You’re right. Winter is starting to dominate…”
At Kourindou, Rinnosuke looks out the window to see a few snowflakes falling, “Snow? It’s winter? What’s going on here?”
At Alice’s home, Alice, with Shanghai, observes the same thing out her window, “It’s getting worse, Shanghai. I wonder what Marisa is doing…” Alice realizes her words, “Huh? Why should I be… worried about Marisa…?”
In the skies above Gensokyo, Lily White, engulfed in frigid air, notices her form starting to fade, the antithesis of Letty’s situation, “Spring… It’s leaving Gensokyo…”
Outside Scarlet Devil Mansion, Meiling stands and watches at snow steadily accumulates, “Damn it… Only a few day of spring, now it’s winter again? I hope you are having some luck out there, Sakuya…”
Inside the mansion, in Flandre’s room, Flandre, with Remilia, says, “It’s… getting colder, sister…”
Remilia embraces her sister, “Please! Stay calm, Flandre! Everything will be alright, I promise!”
From one of the mansion’s towers, Patchouli watches the distant essence pillars on the horizon, in the mainland, “Perhaps the essence is being drained from Gensokyo. This is most dire…”
Back on the roof of Hakugyokurou Palace, Reimu and Yukari declare their respective spell cards.
“Migrating Spirit!” Reimu draws a handful of ofuda, which blue energy flows into.
“Bounded Field!” Green energy swirls around Yukari, “Curse of Dreams and Reality!” The energy condenses into two large solid balls of energy, which fly toward Reimu, then burst into several smaller blasts.
“Fantasy Seal –Concentrate-!” Reimu tosses the ofuda, charged with energy, toward Yukari, which home in on her, passing through Yukari’s wave of shots.
Yukari takes to the sky, however, Reimu, backing away from Yukari’s attack, performs a hand seal, causing the charged ofuda to stop below Yukari, then performs another, causing them to chase her upward, “Hm?” She fires a blast of energy downward, destroying the ofuda.
At the same time, Reimu tosses another wave of ofuda, cutting through most of Yukari’s shots, then diving through a gap in the rest.
Yukari lands and points her parasol toward Reimu. A laser shoots out from the tip. Reimu jolts to the side, avoiding the laser, then counterattacks with a needle, which Yukari dodges by rotating her body, though it slightly grazes her face.
Reimu draws a spell card, “Divine Spirit!” The card separates into fragments, “Fantasy Seal!” The fragments turn into several large orbs of divine energy. Yukari anticipates for Reimu to send the orbs at her.
However, the orbs instead flow into Reimu, causing her entire body to glow with a bright white aura, which surprises Yukari, “What are you…?”
“Take this!” Reimu charges at Yukari at a speed greatly enhanced by the energy her body had absorbed. She hits Yukari with a powerful body slam, which sends her careening, then circles around in front of Yukari’s path, hitting her with another body slam, which sends her tumbling across the roof. Finally, Reimu releases the energy in a large white laser, similar in appearance to, yet smaller than, the Master Spark, which slams into Yukari, who lets out a loud scream.
Inside Yukari’s subspace, there is a bright flash of light, after which, Youmu’s invisible shackles dispel and she drops to an invisible floor, “What happened? I was just released… Did Yukari let me go, or… did something disrupt her concentration over this subspace…?” If it’s the latter, then it might happen again… Youmu unsheathes the Hakurouken, and if that’s the case, with another disruption and the right kind of attack with enough concentration, I might be able to create an effect similar to Yukari’s ability to move through boundaries and get out of here… Youmu draws a spell card, “Delusion Terminating Sword!” Silver energy and Youmu’s ghost-half flow into the Hakurouken. Youmu starts to focus, slowing time around her, I will be there soon, Yuyuko-sama!
Yukari recovers, “Wh-what? I… didn’t expect that at all!”
Reimu slyly smirks, “Even after all your millennia of experience? Something doesn’t add up here…”
“Shut up!” yells the irritated Yukari, “You are still inferior person from an inferior race! No matter how many lucky shots you get in, the winner will still be me! Prepare yourself, miko!”
Reimu and Yukari charge at one another.
At the passage leading up to Hakugyokurou, the battle between Sakuya and Ran begins.
Ran jets upward and extends her arms down toward Sakuya, releasing a barrage of large yellow blast of energy.
Sakuya flies up toward Ran, dodging the shots as she advances, drawing a spell card, “Illusion Sign!” The card turns to blue energy that emanates around Sakuya. Finally, she breaks through the barrage, “Killing Doll!”
As Sakuya’s spell card’s energy takes the form of several knives, Ran draws a card of her own, “Shikigami: Protection of Zenki and Goki!” The card splits into two fragments, which then expand into green and yellow spheres of energy. Ran sends the yellow sphere in front of her and it absorbs Sakuya’s knives. She then sends the green orb zooming toward Sakuya, which scores a direct hit, sending her falling. The spheres vanish.
Sakuya, in pain, but not badly hurt, recovers in midair, and throws up a knife, which catches Ran off-guard, grazing the side of her leg.
“Tch…” Ran dives toward Sakuya, who throws up a couple more knives, which Ran either dodges or defects with her hands.
Sakuya draws a spell card, “Void!” Time freezes. Sakuya reaches into a tiny wormhole and pulls out countless knives, then circles around Ran from all directions, having knives ready to fly at her from all angles. She unfreezes time, “Inflation Square!”
The knives close in on Ran, who observes the situation. “YAAAA!” She releases a large burst of energy, which knocks Sakuya’s knives away. Sakuya charges toward Ran, grabbing two of the knives she just deflected, then cuts through her, “ARGH!” Ran clutches the red slash mark on her torso with her left hand. Sakuya backs away and prepares to throw more knives as Ran draws a spell card, “Shikigami’s Radiance!” Red energy flows into Ran’s arms, which she extends in Sakuya’s direction, “Fox-Tanuki Youkai Laser!” Ran fires two thin lasers in Sakuya’s direction, which she dodges, however, smaller lasers branch off from the two originals and go in Sakuya’s direction, very suddenly, much to her surprise, getting pieced through the left shoulder and right thigh, and grazed across the right leg.
“AHHH!” Sakuya lets out a loud scream to the intense pain she feels in more than one area. She hovers in midair, recovering from her damage.
“That’s what you get,” says Ran as she contently nods her head.
“Hmhmhm…” Sakuya chuckles a little.
“What’s so funny?” asks Ran.
Sakuya answers, “This… reminds me of an old injury I once received from the one I now call my mistress…”
“Hm? Well if that is what will make you feel better when your end comes, look at it that way! It’s a befitting end!” Ran prepares for another attack.
“No,” says Sakuya, “It’s reminding me that I can’t die and be separated from Remilia-sama. Know my conviction, Ran!” Sakuya draws a spell card, “Now, I will show you something so terrifying, even I’m afraid of using it!”
Ran bites her lip to Sakuya’s announcement, “Wh-what? Something within your own power that you fear?”
Sakuya smirks, “Indeed…” She raises the spell card, “Buriallusion!” The card bursts into white mist, which spreads everywhere. It is not a particularly dense mist, but it gives off the impression of a bad omen. “Now, Ran, here’s your chance to run!”
Ran responds, “I need not retreat from the likes of a human like you!”
Sakuya uncharacteristically cackles, “Hyahaha! Be my guest, then! PHANTOMIC KILLER IN NIGHT MIST!” Sakuya’s eyes widen as they glow a bright red color, in a sadistic and blooodthirsty expression. Sakuya draws two knives, both with blades glowing with red auras, and, through a combination of immense speed and time manipulation, closes in on Ran faster than she can react and delivers two powerful slashes with her knives.
“AAARRRGGGHHHHHHH!” Ran is knocked away with two deep wounds and Sakuya proceeds to mercilessly follow through on her attack. Not even the wounds she just received hold her back.
Below, Marisa observes the situation, “Sakuya… What’s going on?”
“Tch.” Ran barely recovers and draws a spell card, “Illusion God!” The card turns into an intense amount of golden energy that flows into, as well as swirling around Ran. She falls back quickly, putting a bit of distance between herself and Sakuya, “Descent of Izuna Gongen!” Countless large spheres of power form from the energy. Ran breathes heavily as a result of her injuries and the nearly overbearing use of the power she just presented, “I… hadn’t planned… to go this far… but you’re too dangerous as you are now… Die!” Ran raises her arms, then directs them down in Sakuya’s direction. The spheres respond and fly down toward Sakuya.
Completely devoid of self-control, Sakuya, flying head-on toward Ran’s barrage, yells, “IT’S USELESS, RAN! SUCH A WEAK ATTEMPT IS FUTILE!” The auras emanating from Sakuya’s knives extend, making them appear like a pair of swords. Sakuya wildly swings her knives around, cutting through the spheres. A few manage to get past her defenses, but she doesn’t flinch at all.
“Damn it…” mutters Ran to herself, “What did that card do to her? She’s like a demon…”
Sakuya bursts through the last wall of spheres Ran had launched, “TAKE THIS, YOU BITCH!” Sakuya unleashes a flurry of swipes with her extended knives. Ran manages to maneuver around a few attacks, but gets cut of lightly grazed numerous times.
Ran, clutching her new wounds, backs off, “Not good. I won’t survive if this carries on. Forgive me, Yukari-sama…” With that, Ran fades into thin air.
After ten seconds, the effects of Sakuya’s spell card wears off. She looks down at the stairs and sees them stained red with the blood dripped by Ran. She sighs, “The worst part is coming to… and seeing shades of the brutal aftermath. That’s why I hate using it…”
“Sakuya…” Marisa calls up, her voice showing some fear.
Sakuya doesn’t take long to figure out what is bothering Marisa, “I’m… sorry you had to…” Suddenly, the pain from the damage Sakuya sustained before and during her spell card kicks in, “AAGGHH!” Sakuya loses focus on her hovering and plummets down toward the stairs.
“SAKUYA!” Despite her body’s protests, Marisa gets up and runs up the steps to where her broomstick, which had fallen after Chen knocked her off, is. She hops on the broom and quickly flies up to the pained Sakuya. She maneuvers below and catches her. “Sakuya! Are you okay?”
Sakuya weakly chuckles, “Heh… That’s the other thing I hate about the ability… The simultaneous reemergence of pain…”
Marisa asks, “If you hate it so much, why did you use it? Why did you know it?”
Sakuya answers, “One of the wound I received reminded me of Remilia-sama. Thus, I acknowledged Ran as a powerful opponent and used my most powerful technique… It’s all to ensure that I best serve my mistress…”
“If you say so…” Marisa looks up the stairs, “Doesn’t look like Reimu and Yuyuko stayed to fight Yukari while we were away in Ran’s space, which means they might be at the top. I’d say they’re at the Saigyou Ayakashi. I can’t imagine anyplace else…”
“It’s a start,” says Sakuya.
Marisa chuckles, “Hmhm… Last time, I had to transport Reimu on my broom, and now I’m transporting you. Funny how that goes, unless you decide to ditch me again…” The speed of Marisa’s broom increases.
Sakuya says, “Reimu had to save me from Yuyuko’s technique. We couldn’t have destroyed Ran’s dimension if you weren’t around to attack her, you took care of Chen, and now, you save my life. I loathe admitting this, but I suppose I really do need you…”
Marisa smirks, “Great to see you’ve learned your lesson. Depend on your friends.”
“You are still companions, nothing more.”
“Whatever, Sakuya. The fact remains, you’d be in deep shit without us.”
“Let’s go and help Reimu.”
“…” Marisa least expects Sakuya to show gratitude in such a simple, yet endlessly meaningful form.
Back at Hakugyokurou Palace, Reimu and Yukari had exchanged a number of attacks, and the two of them are about even.
As they face off, breathing heavily, the unconscious Yuyuko laying nearby, Yukari says, “Not bad for a human, miko…”
Reimu retorts, “Not bad for a youkai, bitch…”
Yukari draws a spell cards, “But I am far from giving up after waiting so many years for this… and I certainly won’t let one like you, who has nothing to do with this whole affair, stop me!” She raises the card, “Bounded Field!” Dark portals open up around Yukari, in a triangular formation, “Hmhmhm! Mesh of Light and Darkness!” The portals light up as they fires large lasers at Reimu.
“Shit!” Reimu takes to the sky with the lasers just barely missing her and hot on her heels.
Yukari calmly says, “You are bound to get weary eventually and that’s when you will be shot through endlessly, until only dust remains. You won’t last long.”
Yukari looks up at the Saigyou Ayakashi’s blossoms, “It won’t be long now. Soon Yuko and I will be reunited. Of course, I will still keep draining the essence from Gensokyo until nothing remains, even after the seal is broken.”
Reimu maneuvers to avoid hitting one of the Saigyou Ayakashi’s branches, but ends up with one of the lasers piercing her through the shin of her left leg, “AAARRRGGGHHHHH!” Despite the pain, Reimu keeps flying and dodging the lasers. She tosses a needle at Yukari, who easily dodges.
Yukari chuckles, “That’s one taste, but soon you’ll experience it everywhere!”
“Please! Stop this now!” Suddenly, a swarm of butterflies materializes and flies toward Yukari, cutting through her, causing her to lose her concentration on her spell card. The portals firing the lasers vanish.
Yukari, clutching her wounds, looks in the direction the swarm came from. Sure enough, Yuyuko had regained consciousness from when Yukari knocked her out. “Yuyuko… you…”
“Yuyuko…” says Reimu, relieved.
Yuyuko, still feeling a little dazed, says, “Stop doing this, Yukari Yakumo! I don’t like seeing you get hurt, but I will do whatever it takes to keep my consciousness from disappearing! I’ll try to be the friend Yuko was. Just make this easier on all of us!”
Yukari solemnly says, “You may be her spirit, but you could never be the Yuko I knew, based on mere description. The only way is through her memories and consciousness, locked inside the tree!”
Reimu, recalling the knowledge about Yuyuko, Yukari, and Yuko she had gathered, says, “Yukari, why can’t you just be happy with Yuyuko. She technically IS Yuko, right?”
Yukari debates, “Our views differ greatly, miko. That immature, gluttonous ghost is completely different that my friend.”
“So that’s it,” says Yuyuko gloomily, “That’s what you’ve thought of me after all these years of friendship...?” Yuyuko’s mood turns angry, something Yukari had never seen, nor Reimu was expecting, “You never cared about me, did you? I was always the other part of Yuko, wasn’t I? Have you ever considered me as the individual, Yuyuko Saigyouji? Answer me, Yukari!”
Yukari pauses from the amazement, then says, “I… never thought of it that way, but now that you mention it… yes. You are right. You’ve always been Yuko’s spirit, which will one day belong to Yuko’s consciousness…”
Yuyuko clenches her fist tightly, “I understand…” She looks toward Reimu, “Reimu! Please stop Yukari. Even though she had tricked me all this time… I can’t bring myself to seriously fight her.”
Reimu nods, “I understand, Yuyuko.” She floats back down to the roof of the palace. Upon landing the wound in her leg flares up, but she endures the pain, “Ugh… Well, it as we have been doing. Let’s do this, Yukari.”
“Indeed…” Yukari opens a wormhole up next to her and puts her parasol inside, then pulls the Roukanken out.
Yuyuko gasps, “Ah! That’s… Youmu’s Roukanken!”
“That it is,” says Yukari, “I happen to be borrowing it while Youmu is in my little detention space. I though some would-be interlopers would come and my assumptions were right on…”
“Tch.” Reimu takes a couple steps back, sensing the danger that presents itself in the form of a sword.
Yukari, not physically strong enough to wield the Roukanken with one arm, grabs the hilt with both hands, “The legendary Roukanken... It’s a powerful weapon. Consider this an honor, miko!”
Reimu sighs, “You can barely lift it. Honestly, I can’t bring myself to really be scared of you right now…”
Yukari smirks, “It doesn’t matter if I can effectively wield it. All you need to know is that I can use it to extend my own power!” White energy flows through Yukari’s arms and into the sword, causing the blade to glow brilliantly. She steps toward Reimu and swings the sword downward in a technique that is completely unrefined in comparison to Youmu. Reimu steps to the side and swings her gohei hard, knocking Yukari several feet away. She gets to her feet and wipes some blood off her lip, “Ow… Not… bad. But this is where I have you…”
“Don’t count on it!” Reimu draws a spell card, “Spirit Si_”
“Fufufu~” Portals open up in front of both Yukari and Reimu.
Yukari swings the Roukanken into her portal and the blade emerges from the portal before Reimu, slicing her spell card in half, rendering it useless, “What? Damn!”
“It’s useless!” Yukari moves further away and swings the Roukanken at the empty air, leaving trails of energy in the wake of each slash. The trails turn into V-shaped blasts of energy that fly toward Reimu, who hovers off the ground so her wound won’t hinder her, then dodges the blasts with little trouble.
Reimu draws a handful of needles and tosses them at Yukari, who opens a portal in front of her and dives in, dodging the needles. “Tch.” Reimu clicks her tongue in dismay. A portal opens in front of Reimu and Yukari flies out, Roukanken in a thrusting position. “Ah!” She reacts at the last minute, but gets impaled through the left shoulder; “AAARRRRGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!” screams Reimu in agony as blood runs down, staining her white sleeve.
“Reimu!” yells Yuyuko.
“Hmph.” Yukari quickly withdraws the blade from Reimu’s shoulder, intensifying the pain even further.
“Ughhhh…” Reimu slumps to one knee, clutching her wound.
Yukari swings the Roukanken to the side, slinging most of the blood off the blade, “Isn’t it painful? It’s ironic that you all cause so much pain, yet can’t withstand it yourselves.”
Reimu, through her grit teeth, asks, “Are you satisfied with all this? Ending so many lives… just for the sake of one?”
Yukari says, “Don’t get me wrong. Aside from youkai, there are some humans, other than Yuko, I fancy, though none of them are typical humans. The half-breed, Rinnosuke, who’s existence is proof of love between human and youkai. It reminds me that I wasn’t wrong to fancy Yuko. Ah, his fascination with the outside world…”
Reimu wonders how Yukari know Rinnosuke, “So… YOU are Rinnosuke's supplier?”
Yukari ignores Reimu and recalls another interesting human, “Fujiwara no Mokou, another interesting specimen, showing some humans can be more like youkai…” She pauses and shakes her head, “Ah, silly me. There’s no point in explaining this to you. After all, this is your end.” Yukari prepares a finishing strike. However, Reimu springs away from Yukari, enduring more pain, as she draws a spell card.
“Divine Arts!” The card glows with golden light.
“It’s no use~” crows Yukari, preparing to strike again from a distance. However, a white beam hits the Roukanken’s blade, throwing her off. She looks in the direction the beam came from. Not surprisingly, as she’s the only other person present, the shot belonged to Yuyuko, “Yuyuko?”
“I’m sorry, Yukari,” says Yuyuko.
Reimu flies toward Yukari at full speed, taking advantage of Yuyuko’s distraction, “Take this, Yukari Yakumo!”
“Tch.” Yukari attempts to counterattack by swinging the Roukanken, but Reimu drops short of the attack, slamming her spell card on the ground, causing a magic circle to expand below herself and Yukari, “Omnidirectional Demon Binding Circle!”
A golden pillar of light shoots up, engulfing Yukari and forcing her upward, “AAHHHHH!”
In Yukari’s subspace, there is another white flash, indicating the weakening of Yukari’s control.
Youmu’s eyes burst open, “NOW!” She swings the Hakurouken as hard as she can, “Slash of Risening from Shore of Delusion!” A silver aura extends from the sword, extending it to a monstrous length. In the wake of the blade, the fabric of the subspace tears. With a grin, Youmu exclaims, “SUCCESS! Hold on, Yuyuko-sama! I’m coming!” Youmu dives into the rip…
… and emerges from an empty space, below where Yukari was propelled, “Yukari!” Youmu flies up toward Yukari, who had dropped the Roukanken as a reflex from Reimu’s attack.
“WHAT?” demands the weary Yukari.
“Youmu!” exclaims Yuyuko, relieved.
Youmu catches the falling Roukanken by the hilt. Yukari demands, “How did you escape my prison?”
Youmu answers, “Given the right circumstances, even I can have some control over boundaries. But more importantly, I will stop you from unsealing the Saigyou Ayakashi!” Youmu notices Yukari’s injuries, then looks down at Reimu, “Oh! You’re that one from before.”
“Yeah…” Reimu nods.
“Thank you,” says Youmu, “Thanks to your effort, I’ve managed to escape her prison. Now let me take it from here.”
“I can still fight,” says Reimu, “Just give me some time to patch up the wound she just gave me…” Reimu rips off her left sleeve and wraps it around her wounded shoulder, as a makeshift bandage.
Yukari pulls her parasol out of a wormhole, then draws a spell card, “If you want to stop me, Youmu, you’d better hustle! If you look at the blossoms, the seal will be broken any minute now!”
Reimu, Youmu, and Yuyuko look up at the Saigyou Ayakashi’s branches. Sure enough, they are very close to perfection.
Yukari raises her spell card, “The effects of my technique can only be stopped if I will it, NOT by being beaten! In the meantime, let’s enjoy ourselves a little bit more! Outer Force!” Above and around the palace roof, several dark portals open, the overall formation making it look like they are inside a dome. A white aura surrounds Yukari, “Just try to catch me! Infinite Superspeed Flying Object!” Yukari starts flying at an increadible speed, leaving a white trail of energy in her wake and goes into the nearest portal. She emerges from another portal and unexpectedly flies toward Youmu from behind, smacking her from behind with her parasol.
“UGH!” Youmu, stunned from the blow, falls down to the roof.
“Youmu!” exclaims Yuyuko, “Are you alright.”
“Yeah,” responds Youmu.
Yukari pauses her attack, hovers, and taunts, “With this, I can get you anywhere! Just try to defend yourself!”
“Reimu!” Outside the ‘dome,’ Marisa and Sakuya arrive, both riding Marisa broomstick, arrive.
Yukari looks at the witch and maid, “Huh? If you’re here, that means you must have defeated Ran and Chen!”
“Yes we did,” responds Sakuya, “and you will be next, Yukari.” Sakuya hops off the broomstick and goes in Reimu’s direction.
“Stay back!” warns Reimu, “Yukari has something dangerous in effect! Don’t get caught up in it too!” Sakuya pauses.
Yukari closes her eyes and nods, “Wise advice. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you two after I’m done with the miko and Youmu.” Yukari resumes her attack and flies into another portal, emerging from another and striking Reimu as she passes. Reimu is sent reeling, however, at the same time, Youmu sends her ghost-half after Yukari, which merges with her.
Youmu draws a spell card, “Obsessor!” Youmu flies after Yukari, who disappears into another portal, but immediately turns as she emerges from another.
“How did you know where I was about to come from?” demands Yukari.
Youmu, charging at Yukari, answers, “I merged my ghost-half with you, Yukari, and the two of us are one of the same. I am drawn to it like a magnet!”
“Tch.” Yukari escapes into a portal, but it doesn’t fool Youmu’s attraction for a second and the speed of her pursuit gradually increases.
Finally, Youmu catches up to Yukari, “Take this! Slash of the Eternity!” Youmu flies all around Yukari, showering her with slashes.
“ARGH! No…” The effects from Yukari’s spell card break and she falls to the ground.
“My turn!” Reimu jumps up and tackles the dazed Yukari, wrestling her to the ground. Reimu draws an ofuda out of her pocket and crumples it inside her fist, which soon glows with white light.
“Yes!” yells Marisa, “Finish her off, Reimu!”
“…” Yuyuko stands silent in the situation.
As she is about to deal the finishing blow, Reimu notices Yukari’s face, now dazed and terrified, and hesitates, lowering her fist, “I… I can’t…”
“Why not?” asks Yukari smugly, “I threatened your race. It’s your nature, as a youkai hunter, a human, to eliminate a nemesis like me…”
Reimu gets off Yukari, “It’s that mindset about us that tells me I shouldn’t. I’ll prove to you that you are wrong about us. You have lost, but you won’t pay with your life.”
“Damn… it…” Yukari pounds the surface of the roof, not understanding what caused a human like Reimu to spare her life.
Sakuya asks Reimu, “Are you insane? Sparing her like that after all she put Gensokyo through?”
Reimu answers, "If we acted purely out of revenge, would we end up being any better than her?”
“…” Sakuya understands what Reimu means, although such mercy is not a part of her nature.
Yuyuko and Youmu walk over to Yukari, who rises to her feet. Yuyuko pleads, “Please, Yukari. Stop this! Return the essence to Gensokyo!”
“And don’t unseal the Saigyou Ayakashi,” adds Youmu.
“Well…” SNAP! Before the reluctant Yukari can respond, there is a loud noise coming from the Saigyou Ayakashi.
“What the fuck was that?” asks Marisa.
“The tree!” yells Sakuya.
Yuyuko looks at the tree, mesmerized, “Could it be…?”
SNAP! SNAP! Two more sounds come from the Saigyou Ayakashi. A figure materializes at the middle point of the tree.
Yukari exclaims, “At last! The seal is broken! The Saigyou Ayakashi is now the Perfect Cherry Blossom! Yuko has been released after 1,000 years!”
“NO!” yells Youmu in utter dismay, “We’re too late!”
Despite the release of Yuyuko’s soul, the beam of spring essence coming down from the sky and into the tree continues.
The overjoyed Yukari looks at the soul, “We’ll finally be reunited, Yuko! The test of 1,000 years couldn’t keep me from you!”
Yuyuko watches the soul as it approaches her, but she doesn’t move. Many more memories flow into her consciousness. Happy families, an injured little girl… Memories that make Yuyuko feel happy. She feels like the soul is trying to convey some sort of message with those memories.
“Yuyuko-sama! Stay away from it!” warns Youmu.
Yuyuko looks over her shoulder and at her servant blankly, saying monotonously, “I will not, Youmu.”
“WHAT?” Yuyuko’s words unexpectedly catch the attention of everyone present, including Yukari.
Yuyuko hesitates and says, “She seems to want something… the images in my head seem to deliver a message of sorts…”
Youmu protests, “But you, as you know yourself, will DISAPPEAR, Yuyuko-sama!”
“Maybe not…” says Yuyuko, “I’m… not afraid…”
“…” Yukari can’t make sense about what Yuyuko is trying. She certainly didn’t expect Yuyuko to willingly merge with Yuko.
Yuyuko floats toward Yuko’s soul, muttering softly, “I… I think I understand you. You… may be the only one Yukari will listen to. I’m counting on you, Yuko… I’m sure I’ve… been a ghost long enough to resist a full fusion…”
Yuko’s soul extends her hand as Yuyuko does the same. As soon as they touch, there is a brilliant flash of white light.
Reimu, Marisa, Sakuya, and Youmu all shield their eyes. “Now what?” asks Marisa.
“Yuyuko-sama and her human soul are becoming one,” answers Youmu, “Why are you doing this, Yuyuko-sama?”
Yukari, not shielding her eyes, exclaims, “At last! I’ll finally see Yuko again. It… has been such a long time! We’ll be together forever!”
The light fades. A metamorphosis occurs in Yuyuko’s physical appearance and her clothes. Her hat vanishes, her kimono turns into a flowing white robe, and her hair extends down to her mid-back. While she generally still looks like Yuyuko, her presence seems to have completely changed.
The light fades. Youmu, lowering her arm from her eyes says, “Is… is that…?”
Yukari dives at the transformed Yuyuko and tightly embraces her “It’s you! Yuko!”
Yuko calmly says, “It’s been a very long time Yukari. Well, to you, I’m sure. Until essence had been gathered into the youkai tree, I had slept the whole time, beyond time’s flow…”
“You don’t have to do that anymore,” says Yukari happily, “You’re free now! We’ll always be together from now on. Also, have you noticed? You’re a ghost! A youkai! Your wish had come true! All I have to do now is perform a sealing technique and you’ll be like that all the time! And you know the humans you’ve been trying to escape? As we speak, spring essence is being drained from Gensokyo, and soon, they will end! You are the highest level ghost and they will have to kneel to you! You no longer have to suffer, Yuko! I’ve made sure you will always be happy!”
Yuko sighs, “Yes… As the tree was being unsealed, I’m sure I’ve heard everything… and I’m thankful to have had such a great friend…”
“I’m always there for you. You know that, Yuko!” Their embrace ends and they face each other hovering in midair.
“However… you misunderstood my intentions for having sacrificed myself…”
“Indeed, it was to save Gensokyo, the beautiful land, my home, the place where kind beings like you live. I admit, I felt a touch of contempt toward my fellow humans for treating me the way they did… but the fact remains, people lives were taken because of me. As such, I know their rage was justified.”
“That’s not true!” protests Yukari, “They were wrong to treat you like they did for things you could not control! They…”
Yuko says, “But even so, I knew they were not all bad. Once, I had helped a small girl, who was injured after falling down a small block of steps. She didn’t know who I was and accepted my aid. Afterward, she thanked me. It was then that I knew of the goodness humans possess. Other times, I’ve seen human families happily going through each day without a care in the world. Amongst themselves, they know kindness and happiness… and it gave me a warm feeling… and eventually I wanted to protect such values…”
“What are you saying?” asks Yukari.
Yuko answers, “I did it to protect humans from the Saigyou Ayakashi, even after what they did to me. I knew I didn’t belong and did what I felt was right. My only regret, Yukari, was leaving you behind.”
Youmu, silently watching the exchange between Yuko and Yukari, along with Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya, mutters, “So that’s it… I never knew who Yuyuko-sama really was. All I knew was that the tree possessed her soul… Yukari was right. I really didn’t know much about my own mistress…”
Yuko says to Yukari, “Yukari… I appreciate that you have done so much to unseal me, and I know what I am about to request of you is unforgivably selfish…”
“Wh-what is it, Yuko?”
“Please, Yukari! Return spring to Gensokyo and allow me to resume my rest!”
“What?” asks Yukari, aghast, “Why do you want to be sealed again? How can you ask ME to do this to you? All your dreams have become a reality! You are among youkai now! Your powers will be accepted!”
“Even so, Yukari, I just have… so many bad memories. When sealed, I have slept and dreamt. I lived in a perfect world where I was friend with everyone, I had no powers that haunted me, and greatest of all, the two of us lived happily. I want… to return to that world!”
“I can make it happen!” declares Yukari desperately, “It’s all in the works! Your dream will be a reality!”
Yuko shakes her head slowly, “No, it won’t. Such a world can’t exist over the deaths of so many innocent humans…”
A tear rolls down Yukari’s cheek, “So that’s it? You want to be sealed again and leave me alone?”
Yuko smiles, “Yukari, I may have felt bad about leaving you behind… but, in a way, I’ve never left you alone…”
“What do you mean?”
“You still have my spirit… Yuyuko, that is.”
“But… she’s not like you…”
“Since we’ve come in contact, she should have at least regained a few memories, right? In time, who knows?”
“I’m sorry, Yukari. I know this must be tough for you, but it’s all for the best. I know you can’t just change your opinion of humans after what you thought for so long, but please try.”
Yuko turns toward the Saigyou Ayakashi, “Yukari, please… return the spring essence to Gensokyo.”
Yukari still has reservations, but at the same time, she honors Yuko’s wishes. Yukari pauses; taking a few deep breathes, and then extends her hand toward the tree. The beam of essence shooting down from the sky stops. Afterward, a magic circle appears on the tree and several portals open around it. Essence pours out of the circle and into the portals. As it happens, the blossoms on the Saigyou Ayakashi slowly whither. Yukari explains, “Beyond those portals is Gensokyo. It is being returned.”
Marisa says, “Hopefully we got spring back for good this time…”
Sakuya calmly nods her head in solemn contentment, “Yes, indeed…”
“…” Reimu, having learned more about Yukari than her two companions, feels a touch of pity for the boundary youkai, though she is certainly happy to have gotten spring back.”
Youmu observes, “So that’s it… Yuyuko understood Yuko and let her take control in order to convince Yukari to stop stealing spring…”
Finally, the last drop of spring is drained from the Saigyou Ayakashi and returned to Gensokyo. Under the once-again depressing tree, Yukari solemnly announces, “It’s done. Spring has been returned to Gensokyo. I hope you’re happy.”
Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya pause for several seconds. Finally, Reimu says, “Yeah. We are. C’mon, Marisa and Sakuya. Let’s head home…” Reimu looks away and flies back.
“Yeah…” Marisa and Sakuya follow Reimu.
With only Yuko, Yukari, and Youmu present at the Saigyou Ayakashi, Yuko gratefully says, “Thank you so much, Yukari! It must have been difficult for you.”
“Yeah…” responds Yukari, her gaze set downward.
Yuko floats closer to the Saigyou Ayakashi, “I guess it’s now my turn to say goodbye and return to my dream. Still, it was nice seeing the real you one last time…”
Yukari asks, “Will nothing I say convince you to stay the way you are right now? All I have to do is recite a brief ritual and your consciousness will remain within your spiritual body.”
Yuko floats over to Yukari and hugs her one more time, “No, Yukari. The bad memories still haunt me while I can be free of them. I know I’m being selfish, but that is my last wish.”
Yukari sheds a couple more tears, “A-after everything I’ve done, this is how it ends?”
Yuko pulls away from Yukari, “I know it’s hard, but please show me your beautiful smile one last time? It suits you far better.”
“Y-yeah…” Yukari tries to force herself to smile, but has no such luck.
“Hm…” With a sly grin, Yuko reaches over and tickles Yukari under the armpit.
Unable to help herself, Yuakri laughs, “FUFUFU~!”
Yuko smiles, “You’ve always had the cutest laugh. I shall take that memory with me. Remember, we used to do that to each other all the time.”
Yukari recalls the happy memory, which Yuko mentioned. Even though her tears still flow, a genuine smile appears on her face, “Ye-yes… I do remember, Yuko…”
Yuko sighs contently, “Thank you for that, Yukari. That’s one of my most fond memories: the knowledge that I could make you smile while all I ever did was anger everyone else…” She looks straight at the Saigyou Ayakashi and raises her arms.
“So I guess this is the final goodbye,” says Yukari.
“Yes…” Yuko’s body glows brightly. Soon, her spirit and soul begin to separate. Before they become completely separate, Yuko says, “Goodbye. I will always love you, Yukari!”
“Me too…” says the melancholy Yukari.
The two halves completely separate. Within their subconscious, Yuko communicates with Yuyuko, “Yuyuko…”
“Please… take care of her. You are the only one I can count on now…”
“Thank you so much…”
Yuko’s soul returns to the Saigyou Ayakashi while Yuyuko’s body reverts to its original form.
“Yuyuko-sama! You’re back!” cries the overjoyed Youmu.
Yuyuko smiles, “Seems that way…” She looks at the crestfallen Yukari, “Yukari…”
Yukari says, “… … … Welcome back…”
Yuyuko, not knowing how to take the situation, responds, “Thank you…”
Yukari says, “Well you haven’t disappeared, so good for you. I suppose I should be thankful I got a chance to see and talk to her one last time… so… thank you, Yuyuko, for being there and giving me that chance… Still, I shouldn’t face you after keeping so many secrets from you and even trying to erase your existence…” A portal opens below Yukari and she slowly descends into it.
Yuyuko yells, “Yukari! That’s not… Wait!”
“…” Without a single word, Yukari disappears into the portal.
With a bittersweet victory hanging over them, Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya fly over the gardens of Hakugyokurou, en route back to Gensokyo. The beautiful blossoms present an odd paradox to the somber silence between them. Despite having no direct involvement in the affairs between Yuko and Yukari, seeing it end the way it did failed to make it feel like a glorious victory.
“Hey!” The silence is broken by a voice yelling up from below. Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya look down. The voice belongs to Lunasa Prismriver, ascending to their level, followed by Merlin and Lyrica.
“Oh. Hi,” says Reimu unenergetically.
Merlin points out, “We saw the Saigyou Ayakashi blossom again, but then it just whithered, and now you three are back. What’s going on?”
“It’s over,” says Marisa, “It will not blossom again and spring will remain in Gensokyo forever.”
“So why are you so gloomy?” asks Lyrica, “It’s what you wanted, right?”
“It is,” answers Reimu, “however…” She explains what she had learned about Yuko, Yukari, and the Saigyou Ayakashi.
“Whaaaat?” exclaim all three sisters at once.
“Yuyuko-sama was really a human that sacrificed her soul to save Gensokyo?” asks Lyrica.
Merlin picks up, “And Yukari Yakumo masterminded ALL of the stuff having to do with the Saigyou Ayakashi lately? Over 1,000 years? Unbelievable!”
Lunasa sighs, “I didn’t think that ditzy girl had it in her. I’m kinda impressed…”
“Well, now it’s all back to normal,” says Sakuya, “but now, it’s because of Yuko, who imprisoned herself to make it happen… all for us humans, who despised her…”
Reimu adds, “And before, she did the same to stop the Saigyou Ayakashi from draining the life from Gensokyo…”
“Yeah,” says Marisa, “Gensokyo would’ve been fucked if she wasn’t so forgiving to the humans…”
Reimu mutters, “Twice now, Gensokyo’s survival had depended on the mercy of Yuyuko’s blossoming self… but I feel bad it had to come at her expense. Our race doesn’t acknowledge her mercy and courage, even though we’ve survived twice because of it. It’s so unfair to Yuko that it had to happen that way…”
“…” The Prismriver Sisters remain silent in light of the rather harsh truth.
Marisa pauses for a few seconds, then her face lights up, “However, Yuyuko said she wanted to do something opposite to ending a life… but, in a way, she had saved countless lives!” Reimu and Sakuya both look at her.
“You have a point,” says Sakuya, “Besides, what matters is that Gensokyo is safe once again. We should enjoy and cherish the land Yuko gave her soul for.”
“You’re right,” says Reimu, somewhat cheered up, “Let’s head back! Catch you later, sisters!”
“Yes…” The Prismriver Sisters fly in the general direction of the Saigyou Ayakashi while Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya head back in Gensokyo’s direction.
Before descending the steps, Reimu briefly pauses and takes a final look at the Saigyou Ayakashi, “Thank you, Yuko…” With that, she follows her companions.
And so ends the journey to recover Gensokyo’s spring. The beloved season had returned to its rightful place and Gensokyo’s denizen’s rejoiced. For our heroines, day to day life continues as it has been, but within them remains the memory of the merciful and brave human that saved the land.
However, unfinished business remains between Yuyuko and Yukari...
A couple weeks pass. A new day begins in the carefree Netherworld as Yuyuko, with Youmu, Lunasa, Merlin, and Lyrica floating nearby, stares at the withered Saigyou Ayakashi, “So… are you having a good dream, Yuko? Is it about Yukari? The life you used to have?”
Youmu smiles, “Ever since finding out the truth, you’ve been talking to that tree everyday.”
“Yeah!” says Lyrica, “You look so funny doing that! I wonder what the ghosts here think of y_ Ow!” Lunasa lightly slaps Lyrica over the head, cutting off her rude comment.
Suddenly, an unenergetic voice yells down from above, “Yo! Spectral princess person! Mail call!” The voice belongs to a girl dressed in blue and white clothes with semi-long red hair braided into two pigtails, with an oddly shaped scythe slung over her shoulder.
Yuyuko looks in the girl’s direction, “Ah! Komachi Onozuka! Do you have that response from the Yama?”
Komachi Onozuka is a shinigami working for the Yama (judge of the dead), who ferries souls across the river leading to the Netherworld. In spite of her position and status however, she is very indolent and generally doesn’t enjoy doing anything that requires effort on her part. She holds out a letter and answers Yuyuko’s question, “That I do. Congrats, you win the prize. On behalf of the great Yama, Sikieiki Yamaxanadu-dono, I present to you this letter response to your question. Yada, yada, youknowthedrill.” She tosses a white envelop down to Yuyuko.
“Thank you,” says Yuyuko with a bow.
“Whatever,” responds Komachi, “I gotta get back to work. Yamaxanadu-dono’s gonna be pissed if I fall behind again…” With that, she flies away.
Yuyuko reads the letter inside the envelope:
To Yuyuko Saigyouji-hime of Hakugyokurou,
As you requested, I looked into the status of the human called Yuko Saigyou. I must admit, she is certainly an interesting case. Her life ended as a result of self-sacrifice, which technically counts as a suicide. Normally, that is a grave sin, but there are a surprising number of exceptions to that rule and you may be happy to know that Yuko applies as well. She showed unparalleled mercy to those that detested her, and saved them all. Such a noble act is worthy to entry to Paradise. It’s not too late, and the offer is open in case you change your mind.
Yuyuko contently looks at the tree, “Good news, if not for us separating, you would have gone to Heaven! Isn’t that great?”
Youmu pauses, then says, “Yuyuko-sama. As much as I’d hate to lose you, I must mention that this maybe a big opportunity for you. Heaven is known for offering endless happiness to those that live there, and not just anyone can get in…”
“What are you saying, Youmu?”
“I’m just pointing it out. You could merge with Yuko again and take that opportunity. The seal has been broken twice. I imagine it can be done a third time without completely depriving Gensokyo of its spring essence. Plus, since the two of you are separate beings…”
Yuyuko smiles cheerily, “I’ll think about it someday. But for now, I want to live as I have and let Yuko dream…” Her expression turns more solemn, “Besides, can it truly be called Paradise when you are left with regrets?”
Yuyuko thinks for a moment, “I’m going someplace. I’ll be back later…”
“Where?” asks Youmu, “I’ll go with you!”
Yuyuko shakes her head, “No. I must do this alone.”
Lunasa shrugs, “Well, whatever it is, good luck to you, Yuyuko-sama.”
With that, Yuyuko leaves.
Several hours later, in Miyohiga, Yukari sits on the edge of the porch of an abandoned home and stares up at the clear sky blankly, organizing the numerous thoughs running through her head.
From several feet away, Ran and Chen watch Yukari in her somber mood. Chen says, “Nya! She’s been this way for weeks, nya! Is there anything we can do, nya?”
Ran shakes her head, “Not that I know of. We can’t relate to her feelings, so it’s difficult to console her in that sense…” Ran looks at the ground in disgust, “Dammit… I’m supposed to protect her, yet I can’t help her with this. I’m worthless as a shikigami…” she sighs, “I must admit I’m rather envious of that Yuko. Up to that point, Yukari-sama always did as she wanted. She rarely honored my opinions, yet she respected the words of Yuko, although it meant having her entire plan fall apart…”
“Yukari…” Yuyuko’s voice comes from above, which catches Yukari’s otherwise fleeting attention.
“Oh. Yuyuko. Looks like Yuko was right in your memories lingering, otherwise you never would have come here…”
Yuyuko descends to the ground and looks around, “I’ve never been here, at least not by myself. Looking at it, however, it makes me feel nostalgic…”
Yukari leans back, “That it should. This is where you… er… Yuko used to live. After her sacrifice, I went and drove the resident humans out. I was planning on this being the place for the two of us to live together… but in the end, nothing came of that. Now all this village serves is the memories. No place else makes me feel more at peace…”
Yuyuko recalls more of Yuko’s memories, then points at the house of which Yukari is sitting on the porch, “That was her home, wasn’t it?”
“Yes,” answers Yukari.
Yuyuko walks to the sliding door of the house and enters. Yukari rises to her feet, then follows. Outside, Chen asks Ran, “Should we follow them in, nya?”
Ran shakes her head, “No. This is between the two of them.”
Inside the house, Yuyuko looks around the old home of her other self. Ironically, it’s not a particularly interesting house. It looks no different than any other ordinary home. However, laying on a table inside, is a book, which Yuyuko notices as the one that Yukari read to tell her about the Saigyou Ayakashi, “Yukari… You wrote that, didn’t you?”
Yukari slowly nods, “Yes. I took the time to document Yuko’s deed and also create a means of informing you of the tree’s secrets when the proper time came. Until then, I was hoping people would come to understand what you have done, but only a few happened to read it, and it ultimately ended up in a library within a mansion in Gensokyo.”
Yuyuko pauses, “You did that to let people know about what Yuko had done? I wonder… may you have had some hope for humans in that regard?”
“I don’t know,” says Yukari, “Maybe. I wanted Gensokyo to know of Yuko’s act, so I suppose humans may have been included as well…”
The two of them leave the house and head to the outskirts of the village. Along a narrow forest path, Yuyuko asks, “Yukari, why did you keep the truth from me all this time?”
Yukari explains, “To succeed, I had to make sure you were a ghost long enough so that your connection to the spirit world would last, even after being united with your soul, otherwise, your time in the Netherworld would have been long overdue and you fade away to be judged, thus I waited 1,000 years, as the final result would allow ample time for me to do what I had planned. I didn’t tell you because I was afraid of how you would react if you knew who’s soul it really was, and you would have been for or against the idea. If you were for it, before the appointed time, you could have released Yuko’s soul prematurely and faded away. If you were against it, you would have actively opposed my actions.”
“I see…” says Yuyuko, realizing the truth in Yukari’s words.
They eventually reach a clearing surrounded by flowers. There is nothing particularly interesting about the area, but Yuyuko can’t help but get a strange feeling by being there, “What is this place? It’s so plain, yet so… nostalgic…”
Yukari answers, “This is the place where the Saigyou Ayakashi once stood. More importantly, however, this is where we first met… and where we became separated.”
“Where the tree once stood…?”
“I sent it to the Netherwold with you afterward.” There is a long pause. Finally, Yukari looks at the ground and says, “Yuyuko… I’m sorry… about everything I’ve done. I missed Yuko and I wanted her back, so much so, that I didn’t consider what her feelings might have been, nor acknowledge you as an individual. I was so obsessed with being reunited with her that I didn’t consider anything else. I blamed the humans that scorned her without a second thought and forced myself into believing that she wanted to get back at them. I’ve done a terrible thing… I’ll understand if you can’t ever forgive me for this…”
“…” Yuyuko pauses for a moment, walks toward Yukari, then lightly hugs her.
“Despite all that, you simply just missed your friend, right? I can’t hate you for that…”
“Yuyuko…” Yukari returns Yuyuko’s embrace, “This… is the way Yuko used to hug me…”
“I am her ‘other self,’ right?”
“… Yeah…” Their embrace continues for a minute, then they step away from each other.
Yuyuko asks, “Yukari, after plotting against them for so long, do you think you can forgive the humans? It must not be easy.”
Yukari slowly shakes her head, “No, Yuyuko. I think I can. Yuko, as well as that human miko, showed me their goodness, and I’m sure there are others like them, not to mention those few exceptions.” She smiles cheerily, “And who knows? Maybe I can act among them? Fufufu~”
Yuyuko smiles a smile, which reminds Yukari of Yuko, “Good for you, Yukari!”
Yukari looks up that the clear spring sky, her eyes reflecting the inner peace she’s found, Goodbye, Yuko. I am no longer confused and I shall honor your wishes from here on. I never realized it before, but Yuyuko is a wonderful person and I’m glad you left her behind for me. Please… rest well and I hope you are having a pleasant dream…
In another world, beyond the realm of physics and reason, yet familiar to all beings, Yukari rushes up to Yuko, laying back on the floor of her home’s porch, “Yuko! Do you know about that tree? The one that is draining the life from the land?”
A chill runs down Yuko’s spine, “Y-yes. It will be a disaster if it’s allowed to do as it pleases. I know of a way to stop it, but that means…”
“No!” shouts Yukari, “I won’t let you do that!” She calms down, “Together, we can stop it. We’ll find a way! Let’s go!” Yukari extends her hand toward Yuko.
“O-okay!” Yuko grabs Yukari’s hand and is helped to her feet. They rush into a nearby forest where a monstrously large tree awaits. The start of a new beginning…