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Part Eight: Separations and Confrontations

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We emerge from the gap. The nine of us find ourselves on the top of a mountain, just one among a mountain range. It’s pretty chilly, but there is green grass growing among the boulders.

Reimu looks around. Compared to the hell around us the last time we were here, the sky is blue and the sun is shining. It almost feels hard to believe that this is the same place, “Well, we’re here…”

“So this is Yumei’s Gensokyo,” says Alice, trying to pass judgment on the situation, “It’s not as bleak as I would have imagined.”

“Um… You might be coming to an early conclusion on that, Alice!” Reisen points out to one side of the mountain range, “Look!” Everyone looks out in the direction Reisen pointed out.

“Oh my!” exclaims Yuyuko.

Before us, we see the ruins of a city, extending out as far as we can see. I don’t know which city it was, nor does it matter. Some office buildings are tipped slightly, and others are standing, but in rough shape. A complex highway runs throughout it, and there are cars scattered all over the place. Despite the ugly sight before us, it looks like this city came out fairly well, at least compared to the one we were in when we escaped.

“Actually, I was looking at the other side,” says Alice, as she points out to the other side of the mountain range. On that side, it looks like a world completely different that the one we just saw: At the foot of the range is a small length of field, followed by a massive forest, stretching out as wide as we can see, and a large mountain in the hazy distance. It looks more like the Gensokyo we know, but overall, the layout doesn’t match up.

“Now THAT looks MORE familiar,” I say.

Sakuya points out, “If memory serves correctly, I believe Yukari said that the world was rearranging into an identical image of Gensokyo’s geography.”

Reimu guesses, “Well, she has control over the boundary and Gensokyo. Maybe she just did things to suit her own taste?”

“I suppose…”

“Looking at these two places, it really does look like the two worlds were combined,” says Youmu, “Strange to see both in the same place…”

Cirno looks at one side of the mountain range, and then the other, “So… um… where do we go?”

“…” There is silence between us. That was a pretty good question. There isn’t a whole lot of indication of where Yumei is hiding out…

Reimu says, “I think Yumei is on the forested side. I mean, she tried to make her own Gensokyo, so I’d say she’d want to be on the side that most resembles the original.”

“Sounds too obvious,” says Reisen, “I say she’s trying to trick us, and is somewhere in the ruined city.”

“And what about Kaguya?” asks Mokou, “She could be held anywhere too.”

“Not to mention,” says Youmu, “She DID acquire Yukari’s powers, right? That means she could be in one area, but then instantly go to another.”

Yuyuko closes her eyes in focus, “I’ll try to find the greatest concentration of energy. The largest should be an indication of this ‘Yumei’s’ location…” Yuyuko takes a few seconds. Finally, she opens her eyes, “Oh dear…”

“Have you found anything, Yuyuko-sama?” asks Youmu.

Yuyuko shakes her head, “No. It appears the energies emanating from each side are near equal. I would have thought someone who controls Gensokyo would have a seemingly unreal degree of energy.”

“She said something about having been granted an enormous amount of energy for the experiment,” I recall.

“Ah!” Alice gasps upon a realization, “Maybe she used most of it up to change this realm…”

Reimu adds, “She said it only had something to do with dreams, so that may be it. Besides, she wasn’t so strong when she fought us… well, all of you anyway…”

“I guess…” I guess it’s possible you don’t have to be a go_ er… deity to possess the power of one…

“Regardless,” says Sakuya, “Our question remains unanswered. Our only remaining option is to decide on which side we shall explore.”

“I vote for the forest,” I blurt out.

“I choose the city!” shouts Reisen.

“I don’t give a damn either way,” says Mokou with an ‘I don’t care’ pose.

“I wanna go to the city!” votes Cirno, “It looks cooler!”

Sakuya looks on one side, then the other, “It doesn’t matter to me…”

“I don’t know about all of you, but I’m choosing the forest,” says Reimu.

“Hold on,” yells Alice. The way she just spoke, she’s likely gonna come up with a compromise, “Let’s look at this logically. Instead of simply choosing one side, which may possibly be the wrong choice, we should split up and cover more ground. Besides, a large group can’t move as fast anyway…” OH! Who called it? “… not to mention, Yumei has Yukari’s powers, so she can go anywhere, so we’d put ourselves at a disadvantage by all going together. We should split into halves and explore both sides, thus covering more ground.” Wasn’t THAT obvious? Yup, there’s a reason Alice is my superior at chess…

“That sounds reasonable,” says Yuyuko.

Counting her fingers, Cirno says, “Um… halves? But… there are nine of us…”

Rolling her eyes, Alice says, “Four of us will go down one side, and five of us will choose the other.”

Decision time! Reimu and I claimed the forest, and Reisen and Cirno claimed the city. Now for everyone else…

Mokou lazily steps in the city’s direction, “I’ll go to the big town. Fairy girl’ll need all the help she can get.”

“HEY! I can take care of myself!” protests Cirno.

“I will go to the forest, then,” votes Sakuya.

This leaves Alice, Youmu, and Yuyuko.

Alice says, “I will go to the forest too. That makes it three to four. One more for each team.”

“HOLD ON!” shouts Youmu, “Can one of you please change your choice? Yuyuko-sama is my mistress! I must_”

“Oh, don’t worry about it, Youmu,” interrupts Yuyuko.

“Yuyuko-sama?”

Yuyuko gestures in the direction of me, Alice, Reimu, and Sakuya, “You asked me if you could accompany them because you consider them your friends and you wanted to help them, am I correct? Well, you may do that…” She then gestures toward Reisen, Cirno, and Mokou, “I will go with them. Don’t worry about me. I’m sure these three will provide adequate assistance.”

Youmu briefly strikes an uneasy glance in Cirno’s direction, and then responds, “If… you say so, Yuyuko-sama…” I think I can tell what Youmu is feeling. On one hand, she wants to be there for her mistress, but on the other hand, Yuyuko IS an excellent judge of character, so if she says she will be okay traveling with three people she barely even knows, that should still be good enough.

Of course, if I can take a guess at Youmu’s feelings, it should be as clear as the light of day to Yuyuko, “Really, don’t worry, Youmu. I consider you a servant, but you should know a role of protector is unnecessary.”

Youmu looks at Yuyuko with a puzzled expression, “What?”

Yuyuko explains, “I AM a ghost, after all. I live off of pure spirit energy, not life energy, so whatever happens, I can only be weakened, not harmed, and certainly not destroyed. You have nothing to worry about.”

Youmu responds, still seemingly uneasy, “Understood.”

Yuyuko says to Reisen, Cirno, and Mokou, “Okay, my companions! Let us be off!”

“Well, THAT took long enough,” says the impatient Mokou.

Youmu approaches in my team’s direction, “It looks like I’m with you again.”

“You shouldn’t worry TOO much,” I try to reassure the gardener; “She’s with a flame-controlling immortal, a Lunarian with some nifty powers, and an ice fairy who is, let’s be honest, NOT completely useless. She’ll be fine!”

“I heard that!” calls out Cirno.

“You really should give Cirno more credit,” says Alice proudly, “She used to be under my flawless guidance, after all.”

“’Flawless?’” asks Reimu. Seriously; that fairy can fight alright, but she is still dim in the intellect department.

“Well, let’s go!” I say as I run toward the edge of the summit in the forest’s direction.

“Wait! Marisa!” yells Alice.

I jump up, positioning my broom under me, and fly away… until gravity kicks in and I start to fall, “Ah! Oh, shit!” I reflexively reach up trying to grab the cliff’s edge.

“Damn it, Marisa!” Someone grabs my arm and I crash into the rocky mountainside. I look up to see that Reimu had grabbed me.

“What? But… but this is Gensokyo… right? Why can’t I fly?”

Alice reaches down to grab Reimu’s arm to help me up, “Don’t be so hasty!”

Sakuya also helps, “Ugh! Don’t forget that… this is not the same Gensokyo! Don’t… jump to conclusions!”

Finally, Youmu pitches in and they get me back on solid ground. How much do I love my friends? Quite a bit; especially at times like this.

“Well, that was quite a display of what this Gensokyo’s magic lacks. So we can’t fly…” notes Reisen. She looks down the edge of the mountain leading to the city. I previously noticed that it starts with a cliff with no good footholds, “This is going to be tough…”

“Oh, only when you don’t have other ways of flying. Let me show you, bunny girl!” A pairs of flaming wings sprout from Mokou’s back. She dashes toward the edge of the cliff, grabbing Reisen by the arm along the way, and she jumps off, taking the rabbit with her. They float down with Reisen’s scream echoing.

“Wait for me!” Cirno runs after Mokou, glancing back toward us, “Bye-bye!” She flies off the cliff, quickly flapping her wings.

“Well, I’m off. I will be seeing you.” Yuyuko jumps off the cliff and floats down using some… ghost thing.

“Well, it looks like we’ve lucked out,” says Reimu, looking over the edge. Sure enough, there is a narrow trail meandering down to the bottom. Well, no use hanging up here, so we make our way down.

==

Meanwhile, in an unknown location, Kaguya and Eirin are trapped in two spherical green fields, emanating the only light in the room. They had been trapped there ever since they awoke from their deaths. Their ability to use magic and materialize objects are sealed for as long as they are within the barriers.

Kaguya asks Eirin, “Are you sure you can’t find a way out of these prisons?”

“There’s nothing I can do, Princess,” says Eirin, “I would think a spellcard could break through this, but I can’t use mine, and…” The doctor kicks the wall of her prison, but there is no effect, “… obviously, physical force is out of the question. Even my superior intellect is challenged in the face of a cautious mind…”

“’Cautious mind?’ Honestly, doc. Can you blame me for being too careful when I know one of my enemies is a genius with an IQ of 540?” Yukarumei steps out of a gap.

“Who are you?” asks Kaguya, “Your ears… You are a Lunarian, aren’t you?”

Yukarumei says, “We have met before, dear princess. Allow me to assume the form you remember…” Yukarumei reverts to Yumei.

“You’re… Yumei…” says Kaguya.

“Glad you remember our little encounter after you entered the void. You also have me to thank for placing that little seal on your ability to communicate across the boundary between dreams and reality. It would have been troublesome if you actually warned Reimu of my intentions,” says Yumei.

“So that’s why…”

“Just what happened?” asks Eirin, “What have you done? Where are we?”

Yumei answers, “We are in Gensokyo.”

“What?”

“I’ll tell you what happened…” Yumei explains to Eirin what had happened while she had been in her regeneration.

“So you destroyed Reimu and Marisa’s home, and created your new twisted version of Gensokyo in its place?”

“That’s right,” says Yumei, “This is a new world that I control. All of its residents are outside me now… well, except Yukari, since she’s technically me now, but they now all serve me! Allow me to demonstrate…” Yumei claps her hands. In mere seconds, Suika enters the room.

“Aneeting yoo need, Yoomay?”

“Yes, Suika. Allow me to drink from your gourd.”

“Ooookay!” Suika holds out her gourd to Yumei, who takes a quick swig from it.

“Ah, delicious. Be on your way, now.”

“Bai-bai!” Suika turns and leaves.

Kaguya and Eirin watched in awe as one of Gensokyo’s most powerful youkai followed Yumei’s instructions without question.

Eirin, who was not alive to witness the events that led to the creation of Yumei’s Gensokyo, asks, “How did you acquire Yukari’s powers? She was outside the dream?”

“Oh, I have my ways,” says Yumei, “Besides, I’m the only ‘Yukari’ still alive now.”

Kaguya eyes widen, “No… That’s impossible!”

Yumei says with a sly grin, “You’d be surprised how a well-placed plan can even bring down the mightiest of foes.”

“Curse you!”

Eirin demands, “What are you trying to accomplish by doing this? What do you need your own Gensokyo for?”

“Revenge,” answers the rabbit.

“What?”

Yumei looks at Eirin, “Surely, you, Doctor Yagokoro, know of the Lunarian science division’s test samples? Well, I am such a sample, sent to Earth to do what I was ‘customized’ to do…”

“Yumei…”

Yumei’s fist tightens, “I never had a chance to have a life of my own. I was only an object to be experimented on. Hell, ‘Yumei’ isn’t even my name. Professor Yumemi simply decided to call me ‘dream’ in order to keep things simple. They did what they wanted with me, and just discarded me. They didn’t give two shits about me. Thanks to Gensokyo altering history, I doubt they even REMEMBER me! Well, I will wield the results of that experiment against them and show how ‘successful’ they were! My goal… is revenge against the Lunarians!”

Eirin says, “I’m sorry about what happened to you, Yumei… I’ll admit that I may have played a part in starting the experiments taking place now… but do you honestly believe doing this will allow you to defeat an empire that has conquered countless realms? Your goal is nothing but an unrealistic fantasy!”

Yumei smirks, “And here I thought you were supposed to be smart, doc. Of course, I alone stand no chance, but I will form alliances across realms, thanks to my new boundary manipulation. I will ally with the realm of the Lunarians’ arch rivals, among others, and with them, I will crush them all!”

Kaguya says, “You destroyed Reimu and Marisa’s home… the land Mokou and I loved… all for THAT selfish reason?”

Yumei brings her face closer to Kaguya’s “’Selfish?’ Tell me, do you know how many realms fell under the Lunarians’ control? More than you can imagine. Besides, I sure as hell ain’t the only one whose life was ruined, thanks to the Lunarians’ stupid desire for endless knowledge! With my victory, all those enslaved realms will be freed!”

“A decent side-benefit,” says Eirin, “but in the end, this is all about your revenge.”

“Hey, I gotta start somewhere. Eirin, I think you know what I want you for.”

“The hourai elixir?”

“Yes. With that, I can be just like Lunariya, the Immortal Empress! Nothing will stop me!”

Eirin says calmly, “Don’t count on me helping you. I may agree with some of your motives, but that doesn’t change the fact that you destroyed the place where the princess’ most precious memories lie.”

Yumei storms out of the room, “Dammit! I knew this wouldn’t be easy! Just you wait! I have time. I will convince you, in one way or another, to help me!”

Once Yumei’s footsteps are too far away to hear, Kaguya looks at Eirin, “Thank you, Eirin.”

“For what, princess?”

“For refusing Yumei’s desire… just to not help the destroyer of the place I loved the most. I’m sure she will make things rougher…”

“I know, princess. Just be brave…” Eirin pauses, “I did that because you were the very first person I could consider a friend…”

“Eirin… Did you make the elixir for me, because it was like you said… because you thought of me as a friend… or because I was your princess?”

“As a friend. In fact, I was told not to let anyone else drink it… but I was immortal and you weren’t… I didn’t want to lose you someday…”

“… But… I was exiled…”

“I knew we would be together again, princess. Wounds heal with time. So do relationships…”

“Eirin… you can call me Kaguya…”

Eirin rubs the back of her head, “Force of habit, my apologies…”

Kaguya smiles warmly, “It’s okay… but someday… will you call by my name and not my discarded social status?”

“I will try princ_”

“Haha!” Despite the situation, Kaguya still finds interacting with Eirin to be something to take her mind off her grim situation, even if only temporary.

==

The five of us make our way down the mountain, toward the forest area of Yumei’s Gensokyo.

There’s yours truly, a fellow dreamer-slash-shrine maiden who happened to be among the strongest beings in the dream, despite being a tad laid back, my neighbor-slash-puppeteer-slash-fellow magician-slash-sole youkai in our crew-slash-only ‘imagined character’ among us, a forsaken Lunarian-slash-former servant of a being less existent than herself, and a half-ghost who is either too grown up or too childish.

The mountainside trails are very narrow, to the point where we’re walking single-file, with Reimu at point, then me behind her, then Youmu behind me, then Sakuya, and finally Alice in the far back.

“Dammit!” complains Youmu, “Why can’t we fly? This IS Gensokyo, isn’t it? We should be floating down to the bottom!”

“Well this IS Yumei’s Gensokyo,” I say with a slight shrug, “She had control over this place, and if someone… say… us, were to invade, I’d disable the ability to fly too. It makes it harder for intruders to get around.”

“Dammit…” says Youmu, still bitching about our predicament.

“So flying is out of the question,” says Reimu, “That’s inconvenient, but what about healing?”

“Already covered,” says Sakuya, “I gave myself a small cut about a half-hour ago to test it, and my marred skin is now completely mended, so we still have that benefit.”

“You cut yourself?” asks Alice, who quickly goes back to her somewhat indifferent demeanor, “Well, whatever works for you…”

“And spellcards?” asks Reimu.

“I’d imagine we can,” says Alice, “Think about it. What could benefit Yumei? Of course, the healing and spellcard creation, but flying? She has Yukari’s powers and can go anywhere she wants in a way far more efficient than flight, thus she can disable flight with little personal impact to herself.”

I nod in agreement, “Eh, makes sense.”

A few more minutes pass as we make our way down, the bottom still not seeming to get any closer.

Youmu says, “I hope Yuyuko-sama will be okay with those three…”

“I told you before, she’ll be fine!” I try to assure Youmu again.

Alice picks up by stating the facts, “As a ghost, her susceptibility to death is even lower than Mokou’s… in fact, death doesn’t even apply, as she already IS dead. It’s like she told you, Youmu, she simply had you as a servant, not as a protector. She doesn’t need one.”

Youmu glances at Alice out the corner of her eye, “Was that supposed to make me feel better?”

“Well, I tried,” says Alice, dismissing the issue.

Reimu cuts to the point, “Bottom line, your mistress will be fine… I think. What, Youmu? Do you not like being with us?” She said it in a teasing manner.

“It’s not that,” says Youmu, “It’s just that it’s my sworn duty to_”

“Be by your mistress’ side, right? Wow, your life’s a total bore!” A voice cuts in, interrupting Youmu.

“Who’s there?” yells Sakuya.

It came from a ledge above us, which we had already traveled on. It’s an awkward view, due to our limited space, but we can see a little of who just spoke: A blue-haired girl with dark red eyes, wearing a pink blouse, a long blue skirt, and a small black hat with a peach-like ornament on it. She isn’t anyone I recognize, though…

However, Reimu seems to know her, and not in a good way by her tone of voice, “It’s you! Tenshi!” Alice, Youmu, and Sakuya also seem to recognize her, based on their facial expressions. Now I remember, Tenshi was that heavenly being that trashed Reimu’s shrine during the Mountain of Faith incident. However, I was knocked out for most of that time, so I never met her face to face. I only know what I do about her, based on what my friends told me, but I hear that, despite supposedly representing all that is good, she LOVES fighting, and thus, would help out with any cause, as long as she gets her much-wanted adrenaline. All in all, she’s a bitch.

“What are YOU doing here?” demands Youmu.

Tenshi answers, “Oh, I just noticed that Gensokyo had come back after a long absence, so I wanted to take a look. I met with the one what was at the middle of it all, Miss Yumei, and she said I would get some action if any on you came along, so I went and found you, and I am SO bored right now!”

Reimu says, “Dammit! I should have known if you showed up!”

Apparently, Tenshi is aware of our mobility disadvantage, as she points it out, “Well, it doesn’t seem you can move much, but I know you’ve been in tight places before, so I doubt you’ll disappoint. That said, let’s get ready to rumble, shall we?” She jumps down from her perch. In midair, two angel-like wings sprout from her back, and she hovers in front of us, over the abyss below. In her hand, a straight-bladed sword, with a rainbow-colored blade, appears. She takes some practice swings… or what I THINK are practice swings, as with each swing, a fissure opens up along the mountain or ground, following the blade’s path, “Attack me.”

Well, if it’s a fight she wants, then it’s time to kick some ass! “You asked for it!” I draw a spellcard, “Love Sign!” Energy flows into me as I aim my hand in her direction, “Master Spark!” I fire my big beam. However, Tenshi doesn’t even make an effort to dodge! The beam slams into her, forcing her back by several feet before my spell ends. She flies back toward us.

Reimu follows up, “Spirit Sign: Fantasy Orb!”

Reimu sends several balls of holy energy toward, Tenshi, but this time, she barrel rolls around the attack and stops right in front of us, “Ah, I needed that! After 14 months of sitting around in…” Tenshi shutters “… Heaven, I needed a good reminder of what it REALLY means to be alive! Well then, enough fooling!”

“We haven’t the time to deal with you!” Sakuya tosses a few knives at Tenshi, who swats them to the side with her sword. However, a few more appear in front of her, no doubt due to Sakuya’s time manipulation, and sink in when her guard is down.

“UGGH! Not bad…”

“My turn!” Alice summons two dolls, which appear in front of her, which fire a barrage of colorful magical blasts. I back them up with my own attack, by extending my arm in the celestial’s direction and firing off some green shots of magic. However, she recovers in just enough time to dodge and ascends over our attacks. However, Reimu intercepts her by throwing a handful of needles, which sink in the same area Sakuya’s knives hit, intensifying the bleeding quite a bit.

Youmu draws a spellcard, “Human Sign!” Energy flows into her as she unsheathes her larger sword, the Roukanken, “Slash of Present!” She disappears from sight for a second, and around the same time, Tenshi staggers back from a large scar that just appeared across her chest and split-second later, Youmu reappears in her original location. As Tenshi recovers, I draw a spellcard, Reimu has a bunch of needles in one hand and ofuda in the other, Youmu has both of her swords drawn, Sakuya has a bunch of knives ready, and a few dolls materialize around Alice.

Tenshi, clutching the wound she received from Youmu, looks at us with one eye tightly shut, “Damn… looks like I’m at quite a disadvantage…”

“Just get out of here!” yells Reimu, “What fun is there in this?”

“How could you ask that?” asks Tenshi.

“Do you know what Yumei had done?” says Reimu, “She destroyed our homeworld, and replaced it with the place we are now! In doing so, she rendered hundred of millions of people inexistent! How can you, a celestial, help someone like that?”

Tenshi shrugs, “Eh, it happens. If you ask me, I don’t really care. It’s moments like this where I get my thrills. I don’t care about Yumei or what she did. All I want is my fun. I’m in this for myself and no one else.”

“Looks like you won’t listen to reason no matter what…” mutters Reimu.

“Reason is boring,” says Tenshi, “If you want me to take ANYTHING seriously, force is the only voice I wanna hear!”

“Fine by me,” I respond.

Sakuya follows up my words, “Tenshi, do you honestly believe you have a chance. Yes, we certainly are at a mobility disadvantage, but that doesn’t change the fact that this battle has the five of us against just you, and you obviously aren’t powerful enough to deal with that. If you value your life, and from what I gathered from what I heard about your battle with Youmu during the Mountain of Faith incident, you do, you would admit your defeat and leave us alone.” Yeah, back then, Youmu fought a one-on-one battle against Tenshi, which my half-human friend barely winning. As much as that celestial bitch likes to fight, I heard that when she was seriously threatened with death, she, rather pathetically, broke down (or so I’ve heard). It’s kind of funny when I think about it…

Tenshi takes the ex-maid’s words to heart, “Yes, I can’t argue with you about that… I don’t stand a chance against these odds… SO LET’S EVEN IT, SHALL WE?” Tenshi swings her sword in Alice and Sakuya’s general direction. The ground Alice is standing on starts to crumble away.

“AHH! Help!” Alice cries out as she falls with her arm outstretched upward.

“Alice!” Shit! I can’t maneuver around Youmu in enough time to save her. Youmu also tries to make an effort, but Sakuya manages to dive and grab Alice’s arm just in time, just her legs still hanging on the ledge.

“Hold on!” Youmu sheathes her swords and proceeds to help Sakuya and Alice back up.

“Ah-ah-ah~” heckles Tenshi as she swings her blade, causing a vibration, which throws off the footing of me, Reimu, and Youmu.

However, it causes Sakuya to lose her grasp on the ledge, “Damn!” Both she and Alice start to plummet.

“ALICE!” I cry out. “Dammit!”

“SAKUYA!” yells Reimu.

“Time for a picturesque finish!” Tenshi raises her sword. At that moment, a bunch of rocks protrude out of the mountainside below where Alice and Sakuya are about to fall. The rocks shift to form spikes pointing upward.

“Dammit!” I curse as I try to think of a plan to save them in the very few seconds I have.

However, just above the spikes, a gap appears, not unlike what Yukari is capable of, only this gap is pitch-black instead of purple. The gap swallows Alice and Sakuya, and then disappears. Okay… what the hell was THAT? … And more importantly, what happened to Alice and Sakuya?

While Reimu and Youmu are no doubt wondering the same thing, Tenshi says, “Oooookay… that was a little weird…” (She doesn’t know either?) “… but still, there are now just three of you. That went better than I had hoped!”

Dammit all! There will be plenty of time to come up with ideas of what happened to Alice and Sakuya, but for now, we have that bitch, Tenshi, to deal with!

Tenshi fires a red laser from her sword at Reimu who evades to the side, then tosses an ofuda back at the celestial, who cuts through it with her sword.

Soon the battle escalates into a crossfire sequence with lasers, blasts of holy energy, magical energy, spirit energy, needles, and ofuda flying back and forth between us. Reimu, Youmu, and I make our best efforts to dodge Tenshi’s attacks, but from where we are, it’s easy to lose our balance, which the celestial likes to use to her advantage. After a few minutes, which really felt longer, Tenshi lets up on her assault, breathing fast and heavily, “You’re… pretty good…”

“We can still hold up quite a bit longer, Tenshi!” declares Youmu, “Give up! You’ve lost!”

However, through her pained expression, Tenshi’s lips curl into a smirk, “I’ve lost…? Don’t get any wrong ideas…”

“What?” says Youmu.

Tenshi says confidently, yet still between deep breathes, “My power… is the ability… to control the land… I can do whatever I want… with the very ground you stand on… I could finish you at any time…”

Reimu grits her teeth, “Tch…”

“Hahaha… it’s a win-win situation for me… I just wanted my entertainment… now… TO END THIS!” Tenshi swings her sword one more time, causing our entire perch to crumble, causing us to fall. Crap!

“Let’s see… if something will save YOU!” Tenshi again summons a bunch a jagged rocks, this time on OUR falling course. However, all three of us have an effective means of dealing with it, as we all draw a spellcard.

Youmu declares, “Edge Sign: Rolling Slash!” Red energy flows into the Roukanken. She swings it downward at the spikes, releasing a blade of spirit energy, which cuts through the spikes.

At the same time, Reimu declares, “Dream Sign: Evil Sealing Circle!” Her entire body glows and releases a small pillar of white holy energy, which completely obliterates the spikes under her.

As for me, I declare, “Love Sign: Master Spark!” and use my good old spell to blast myself out of harm’s way…

… However, right below the spikes, there is still a fissure, and we can’t fly, so… yeah, we’re still pretty fucked. We fall into the big crack in the ground, with a bunch of chunks of the mountainside falling behind us, which Tenshi probably decided to add for good measure. One big rock catches up with us, but Youmu slashes it to pieces.

Dammit, there’s no point! Even if we can avoid getting crushed, the fall will still kill us! “Shit! Dammit! We’re done for, since we can’t fly!” I wanted to know what happened to Alice and Sakuya, but something tells me they’re in a better situation than us! I sure wanted to know what happened to them…

Youmu also starts to despair, “Yuyuko-sama…”

The fall continues deeper and deeper into the earth, and that feeling of vertigo becomes worse and worse.

Suddenly, however, Reimu lets out a surprised “WHAT?”

I ask, “What is it, Reim_” Before I can complete my sentence, a simple look in her direction answered my question. Reimu is falling SLOWER than Youmu and I.

Reimu yells, “Marisa! Youmu! We can fly! I don’t know why, but the magic to do that is here!”

Youmu starts to also fall slowly, “You’re right!”

I position my broom under me and do the same, “Well shit, that’s a relief… now let’s get the hell outta here,” I say as I prepare a spellcard, “Light Blast: Shoot the Moon!” A magic circle appears above us and below the falling rocks and fires up a large beam of magic energy, destroying the rocks… but not all, or enough, of them, as more rocks fall to take their place.

“Shit!” I yell, “No good!”

Reimu says, “I’ll help! We can do this!”

“Yeah…” I respond, noticing that it’s becoming increasingly hot.

“Look! Below!” calls out Youmu, looking down. Below us, at the bottom of the earthly shaft we had been falling through, there is a large sea of magma (I guess one mountain, among the range, was a volcano). We each summon a shield of our respective energies, which protects us from the heat, but not enough to stop our uncontrollable sweating. We hover over the lava, getting out of the way of the rocks, which crash and pile up on a small island.

“Damn! It’s too hot!” bitches Youmu… though I agree.

“Yeah… we need to get out of here. FAST!”

Reimu, being amazingly useful during these last few minutes, notices something, “That island! There!” Sure enough, on another small island, there is a large magic circle. By now, we know that things like that are not JUST there, so we decide to examine it. After all, this is a weird place to find one, and if there is something like that around, there must be another presence responsible for it. Despite our reluctance to get any closer to the magma, we drop into the magic circle.

“Hot…” Youmu continues to whine.

“Well, this is weird,” I say.

“I wonder why this is here…” says Reimu.

However, before Youmu or I can respond, silver pillars of light form around us. Before another word can be said, Reimu vanishes, then Youmu, and finally_

==

As Reimu, Marisa, and Youmu disappear, unbeknownst to them, they were being watched through a small gap in the boundary. On the other end of the gap, reclined in a large armchair, Yukarumei says, “An aspect of the dream you have not yet encountered. This will prove pretty damn entertaining!”


Reimu appears in another magic circle, in the middle of a room appearing to be part of a large cave. She notices that during the warp, she had been separated from Marisa and Youmu. The room is hot, though not nearly as hot as the sea of magma. “Where am I?” As Reimu inquires herself about her whereabouts, several fairy youkai appear and surround her. “Damn… looks like I’m not alone here…”

“Welcome, nya!” a voice comes from the shadows in the back of the room.

“Who’s there? Wait…” Reimu recognizes the mannerism the voice just used, “You’re… Chen? No, wait…” While she recalls the mannerism belonging to the nekomata, Chen Yakumo, the shikigami of Yukari’s shikigami, Ran Yakumo, the voice using it is distinctly different.

“’Chen?’ Don’t know who that is, nya. I was ordered by Miss Satori to entertain you, nya… so I will!”

Reimu rolls her eyes, “Please don’t use the word, ‘entertain.’ I think I’ve heard enough of that concept in one hour…”


Youmu finds herself warped into a large purple corridor, lined with stain glass windows. “What is this place?”

“Hello,” A low female voice greets, accompanied by the sounds of approaching footsteps.

Youmu draws the Roukanken in the direction of the voice, “Who’s there? Answer me! Where are Reimu and Marisa?”

“Oh, my… ‘pets’ are dealing with them…” The owner of the voice walks out of the shadows and into plain sight: A girl with short violet hair, wearing a blue shirt and pink skirt, with a few golden heart-shaped ornaments all around.

“Hello, Youmu Mari Konpaku, gardener, servant, and… self-proclaimed protector of Netherworld Hakugyokurou’s appointed sovereign, ‘Princess’ Yuyuko Saigyouji, referred to by you as ‘Yuyuko-sama,’ formerly known in life as Yuko Saigyou, only human friend of one Yukari Yakumo… who is recently deceased. That’s too bad. Daughter and student of Youki Konpaku, whom you recently found out was appointed as a Lunarian, and… well, this is interesting, you don’t know who your mother is. Skilled in the art of the sword, half of your teachings being from your father, and the other half being self-taught. Physical age: 15, mental age: … either 8 or 20, depending on the situation, chronological age: 39… how embarrassing. Your coworkers go by the names, Lunasa, Merlin, and Lyrica Prismriver, as well as one Mima, who recently joined. The ones you consider to be your best friends, as well as companions, go by the names Marisa Kirisame, Sakuya Izayoi, and Alice Margatroid, oh… and it looks like little Youmu is growing up: The one you have romantic feelings for goes by the name_”

“DAMMIT! SHUT UP!” snaps the freaked out Youmu, who takes a few second to catch her breath, “How… do you know all that… I never met you!”

The girl smiles at Youmu like she’s looking at a plaything, “If you find that to be a bother to you, I wonder how you will react when I delve deeper into your heart. There are things you have kept hidden inside yourself from the world… and I, Satori Komeiji, am going to bare it all.”

“Stay away!” yells Youmu, threatening Satori with her sword.

Satori, however, keeps approaching Youmu, “If you plan to attack me, go ahead.”

“RRaaaarrrgggghhhh!” Youmu charges at Satori, who keeps walking with a relaxed composure. Youmu draws the Hakurouken and swings it at the mysterious girl, who tilts her head back, dodging the slash by mere millimeters. Youmu follows up by swinging the Roukanken downward, putting all her weight into the attack. Satori, however, rotates her body to the side, causing the gardener to stumble forward.

“You are powerful, Youmu, yet your skills remain unrefined. I see you never completed your training before your father left for the moon.”

“Damn you!” snarls Youmu, “Don’t talk to me like you know me!”

Satori chuckles, “Youmu dear, I know you better than you know yourself.”

“Shut up!” Youmu sheathes the Hakurouken and draws a spellcard, “Human Sign_”

“’Slash of Present,’” Satori cuts off Youmu’s words, “Your favorite spell, much like how Master Spark is Marisa’s spell of choice.” The mysterious girl explains the nature of Youmu’s attack as if she were reading a paragraph from a textbook, “The energy of the spell manipulates your body’s spirit energy, allowing you to move at an extreme speed, beyond your normal capability, over a short distance. At the same time, within that tenth of a second, the manipulated spirit energy moves into and manipulates your arms, allowing you to accurately slash, as under normal circumstances, your mind cannot react that quickly. Its overall energy expenditure is roughly 8% to 12% of your overall 100%. Almost 18% at its best: an effective and energy-efficient spell. You have good taste.”

Youmu drops her offensive posture in surprise, “No…”

“I know more,” says Satori, “Shall I explain the nature of its more-powerful cousin: ‘Slash of Eternity’… or its refined counterpart: ‘Angel Dance’. Or how about a different spell altogether, like the land-splitting ‘Delusion of Enlightenment’ or ‘Karmic Punishment of the Idle and Unfocused,’ which makes good use of your ghost-half’s doppelganger ability.”

Youmu drops to her knees in metal defeat, “No… What… WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU? HOW DO YOU KNOW SO MUCH ABOUT ME?”

Satori smirks, “I don’t need to know you to ‘know’ you. Like I said before, I will reveal all that is hidden within your heart. You are a very interesting… and very naughty girl, Miss Konpaku. I wonder if you can handle the truth…”

==

I find myself appearing inside a magic circle in another location. I look around and realize that I’m alone. Reimu and Youmu disappeared “… Damn it…”

I examine my surroundings: A corridor made up entirely of metal. It’s hot, but going from that magma pool to this is like going from the flying pan to the freezer… if you’ll pardon the cliché and slight exaggeration.

I stand in the magic circle for a few seconds, but nothing’s happening. Looks like it was a one way trip.

I walk through the corridor, which has only one direction. It isn’t long until I reach a door with a VERY uninviting insignia on it: A circle made up of six triangles, three yellow and three black. I know what it represents, and it’s usually NOT a good thing. Still, I never thought Gensokyo had something like this… or maybe this place is ruins of a power plant or WMD facility…

Still, the magic circle I arrived through is not doing anything, and there is no other way.

“This is a fucking mistake…” I mutter to myself as I press a panel next to the door, which responds by sliding open. I hesitantly step inside…



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