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Part Five: The Right Thing

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When time resumes, I am several miles ahead of the wave of darkness. Behind me, it doesn’t look as frightening as it did up close. It won’t catch up to me anytime soon and, as I’ve ascended these stairs quite a few times before, I should be pretty close to the gardens…

And I’m right! I reach Hakugyokurou in no more than 15 minutes after Sakuya’s spell ends. Before me, there is a massive sea of pink, with some brown and green. That’s always the most noticeable feature about Hakugyokurou: Its gardens. There are countless cherry blossom trees, the air and ground filled with pink petals. Among all that, there are ghosts, some as transparent beings, and others as wisps (I guess they choose what form they take). This is where people go and stay for one hundred some odd years after their lives end, before their final judgment of going to Heaven, Hell, or being reincarnated back into the cycle of life. As few people are pure enough to go to Heaven, or evil enough to go to Hell, reincarnation is the most common outcome, or so I’m told. Beyond the sea of trees, there is a large palace, which just has a traditional look to it, but nothing outstanding, other than its size. It’s where Yuyuko Saigyouji resides. Compared to Kaguya’s palace, Eientei, it has less height, but more width. Behind the palace, however, towering over it, there is a withered tree. I only saw it bloomed a couple times, and both times meant disaster for Gensokyo. The first time, Yuyuko, set up by Yukari, had Youmu steal spring essence to bloom it, but Reimu, Sakuya, and I stopped them. The second time, Yukari herself was stealing the essence, and almost succeeded, before she was convinced that what she was doing was wrong. That tree is the Saigyou Ayakashi, a tree that Yuyuko’s soul is confined to.

I fly over the gardens, headed in the general direction of the palace. Hopefully Yukari and Alice are over there. Along the way, I hear a familiar voice, yelling from behind, “Hey! You! Wait!”

I stop and turn, seeing Mima approach. I demand, “What? YOU? What do you want?

Mima says, “Don’t worry. I’m not going to try to kill you this time. In fact, I want to thank you.”

“For what?”

“You took the only people left over in Gensokyo to another realm, didn’t you? I didn’t sense anyone else after that. You completed my mission for me.”

I rub the back of my head at my unintended favor, “Um… you’re welcome…”

Mima looks around, “What happened to the others? Where is that girl in the maid outfit and that tomboyish one with the flames?”

“…” I explain what happened to Sakuya, Mokou, and the others.

“I see…” says Mima “… I didn’t think you’d return to Gensokyo. I should have stayed longer…”

“There’s nothing you could have done,” I tell Mima, “Everyone I was with when confronting Reimu was immortal. You couldn’t kill them in any permanent sense…”

Mima’s eyes turn to the side, “I see… It’s unfortunate… I don’t want to imagine what horrors they are facing right now…”

I declare, “Whatever they are, it won’t be for long. I intend to find Reimu and return Gensokyo to normal, getting them back too.”

Mima sighs, “I told you, what you are fighting for is a thought… but it’s none of my business anymore. Do what you must. I guess what you believe in is what matters…”

“…” Without a word, I nod and continue in the direction of the palace.

I land at a series of stone steps, with cherry blossom trees lined at the sides, leading up to the front door of the palace. At a small walkway at the top of one flight of stairs and at the bottom of another, I see Yukari standing in wait.

“You made it,” says Yukari “… Where are the others?”

“They didn’t make it…” I answer.

Yukari looks at the ground, “I see…”

I explain, “They were swallowed by the void. Reimu disappeared, saying that her awakening is only hours away. Might she have gone to the boundary between Dreams and Awakening?”

“Yes,” answers Yukari.

I say, “If I stop her, she may bring Gensokyo back… and it might revive around Sakuya, Kaguya, and Mokou. Please open it, Yukari.”

“Okay,” responds Yukari with a nod, “However, it’s a very restricted boundary and will take me some time to open. It will take me a little over an hour to do. Come back here by then.”

I’m a little irked that I’ll have to wait for Yukari when there is so little time remaining, but there’s nothing I can do to help it. I simply respond, “I understand, Yukari. Please hurry.” With that, I head out to the gardens, intending to come back in an hour.

Fatigued, both emotionally and physically from the battle and recent events, I find a tree in the garden to rest under. I look at the Netherworld residents wandering around, like they don’t have a care in the world… and they probably don’t. It looks nice… and it reminds me that so many people, who had disappeared in Gensokyo don’t even have that chance. Now the sense of urgency is more apparent than before. Compassion is not a particularly strong point of mine, but it’s depressing to think of what they’d miss out on.

“Marisa…” I turn in the direction of the voice that just called my name and see two girls.

The first one has red eyes and semi-long pink hair, wearing a blue and white kimono and hat, with a swirl-like insignia on it, and has a few small ghostly wisps circling her. She’s Yuyuko Saigyouji, the ghost princess of the Netherworld.

The other girl has blue eyes and semi-short platinum hair, who wears a green and white dress, and has two sheathed swords with her, and is accompanied by a large ghostly wisp. She’s Youmu Konpaku, Hakugyokurou’s gardener and Yuyuko’s sworn protector. She was the one who originally stole Gensokyo’s spring essence in order to bloom the Saigyou Ayakashi, and tried to stop Reimu, Sakuya, and me from reaching it, but at the same time, helped us to a small extent. Since then, she’s fought alongside us when Yukari stole spring, when Kaguya made a fake moon, when Mokou tried to erase the moon, and when Yuka covered Gensokyo with poisonous flowers. As one might guess, she’s handy with a sword and carries around the Roukanken and Hakurouken, two powerful blades. She also is capable of putting acute focus into her attack and the wisp with her is a part of her. She’s probably the fourth most important person in my life.

“Hey,” I greet half-heartedly, “How’s it going?”

“I’m fine,” answers Youmu.

Yuyuko says, cutting to the point, “I’m sorry about Gensokyo, Marisa, but are you really sure you want to go after Reimu?”

“Of course!” I answer, “She’s strong, but I’ll find a way.”

Yuyuko shakes her head, “It’s not that, Marisa.”

“Then what?” I ask.

Yuyuko explains, “Don’t take this defensively, Marisa, but Gensokyo’s creation was an accident. I heard about everything from Yukari before you arrived here.”

“’Accident?’” I ask.

“Gensokyo came into being because of injuries Reimu’s real self and yours received, putting you into deep sleeps, thus dreaming of Gensokyo, right?”

“Yeah. So what?”

“Neither of your true selves planned to create Gensokyo in the first place. It was all a result of an unfortunate circumstance. None of it was planned, and, even if you don’t feel that way, having no knowledge of your other self, Marisa, none of it was desired.”

Getting somewhat fed up by that revelation, I respond, “Whatever. Gensokyo was created, and I’m happy. I don’t want to go back to being ‘Marisa Starr,’ or whoever I am. As far as I’m concerned, I’m Marisa Kirisame, now, then, and forever.”

“Then what about Reimu Kiribayashi?”

“Huh? What about her?”

“Keeping her from awakening and reviving Gensokyo means taking away everything that poor sleeping girl has. Her future… her family…”

Yuyuko caught me off guard, but my concern for Sakuya, Kaguya, and Mokou outweighs whatever concern I have for our other selves, “Reimu was happy being here. I’m sure she will be.”

“That’s not what’s important.”

I’m starting to get angry. I have a chance to get back everyone I lost, and now, someone is trying to talk me out of it. I sort of understand what Yuyuko is talking about, but I’ve made up my mind, “Then what the hell do you want me to do, huh? Abandon Gensokyo? Sakuya, Kaguya, and Mokou are stuck in the void that remains of it! It’s because of Gensokyo that Yukari exists. Hell, it’s because of Gensokyo that YOU… Yuko existed!”

Yuyuko’s eyes turn to the side, “Well… that is true. I’m not saying that I like the idea of its disappearance, but it’s something that has to happen. It was only a dream, and it has to end…”

I look away from Yuyuko, “Think of it however the hell you want. It’s my reality and I’m not giving it up.”

“I see…” Yuyuko walks away.

“…” Youmu gives me a somewhat sympathetic look, and then follows her mistress.

Maybe I am being selfish. I don’t know what Reimu’s other life is like. Hell, I don’t even know about my own. But the way we were in Gensokyo, we had done so much, made so many friends, and have been very happy. No matter what it really was, they were good times and precious memories. If Reimu wakes up, and in turn, me, I will lose all those memories and what I know about myself now. It would have been a fleeting dream… and I don’t want all of our experiences to be reduced to something like that! It’s too precious to just let go of…

Several minutes pass as I try to rest a little. I suddenly hear another voice, which is deeper than Yuyuko’s and has a slight accent, “Marisa Kirisame. Are you truly sure you want to go through with the sin you’ve chosen?” Fuck… Just who I need right now… I look up at who’s talking: A girl with blue eyes and semi-long green hair, wearing a blue and black dress with gold highlights, and a blue hat with white ribbons and a gold emblem in the front. She’s Sikieiki Yamaxanadu, the Yama of Gensokyo, who judges the souls of the dead, after their ‘waiting period’ in the Netherworld, and decides whether salvation, damnation, or reincarnation awaits them. I guess she doesn’t like damning people or reincarnating them, because whenever she has the time, she lectures people about their sins, usually to the point where they break down and start crying. All in all, I dislike being spoken to by her.

I sigh and ask, “I’m just going to bring Reimu back, get Gensokyo back, and save everyone. How the hell is that a sin?”

Sikieiki answers, “In doing so, Marisa, you are going to take the life away from Reimu’s true self in another realm, Reimu Kiribayashi.” Shit! Not this again… “The actions you currently intend on are on the same level of sinfulness as that of murder. Kiribayashi wasn’t prepared to have her life changed in such a way and it’s only right she continues with what she was naturally born with, not an artificial existence within her mind. Mankind shouldn’t be allowed to rely on something so perfect in any permanent sense. If you deny Kiribayashi of her real self, you will most certainly fall into Hell. Please reconsider before it’s too late, Marisa Kirisame. Now listen closely, for the first instant of the sin before you occurred over a thousand years ago, when…”

Dammit, if I let her continue, she’ll go on for hours! I cut in, “Okay! Okay! I get it! Just shut up already! I still refuse to atone. Besides, you were still gonna send me to Hell without this, right?”

Sikieiki flinches, but then calmly responds, “That is correct, Marisa, and that’s all the more reason for Reimu to wake up, as you will be Marisa Starr again, who has a mostly clean slate.”

I hold out my hand in front of me, “Hold on! Let me get this straight: Are you saying you would judge me on whomever I am when I die?”

Sikieiki responds, “Marisa, all living things are complex. You are a persona of Marisa Starr, existing within a dream world, yet you have dreams as you are right now, am I correct?”

Sikieiki brought up an interesting point. Even if I am a dream, I have dreams, “Ye-yeah…”

“Every living thing has endless depth… multiple souls. It’s the soul that’s alive that faces judgment, while all the others are permanently dormant. Thus, it to one’s best advantage to exist within the best soul they have when judgment comes.”

“I understand, Sikieiki. But I refuse to abandon those who got trapped in the leftover void.”

“So be it,” says Sikieiki, “You got my warning. It’s your choice whether or not you choose to heed it.” She starts to walk away.

“Sikieiki,” I call out.

Sikieiki pauses, “What is it?”

“You are the Yama for Gensokyo, but without Gensokyo, what is gonna happen to you?”

Sikieiki answers, sounding a little saddened, “I’ll be assigned to a new realm. So will Komachi…” Komachi is a shinigami, who harvests the souls from Gensokyo and sends them to the Netherworld. She’s not a very diligent worker, but she somehow manages to get her job done.

“I see. Would you rather Gensokyo remain, then?”

“To tell you the personal truth, yes…” It’s rare that Sikieiki actually talks about herself “… but from a moral standpoint, I’m asking you to do the right thing. Gensokyo was never meant to last, so let the cycle of dreams naturally take its course. I can handle whatever changes my job provides…” With that, Sikieiki takes to the air and leaves. Everyone is against me. First Yuyuko, and now Sikieiki. Also, I remember Yukari acting strangely in the idea of preventing Reimu’s awakening as well, but she’s gone along with it. What is bothering her?

A few more minutes pass. Eventually, I get a third visitor. Alice walks up to me, “Marisa… you made it. I’m so glad!”

I turn my eyes to the side, “Yeah… Unfortunately, Sakuya, Kaguya, and Mokou didn’t…”

Alice closes her eyes, “I’m sorry…”

“It’s no problem. All I gotta do is stop Reimu, right? That might work…”

“Perhaps…”

There is a long pause between us. Alice sits down next to me and we watch the cherry blossoms fall from the tree branches above us, looking out at the bright and beautiful landscape. It’s hard to believe we were in the nightmarish remains of Gensokyo not too long ago.

Alice asks, “Marisa, is it true that none of us… except for Sakuya, Mokou, Kaguya, Eirin, Reisen… and you, actually exist?”

I answer, “Well, you are a part of Reimu’s dream. Basically characters in a mental world… but I don’t think of you that way. Gensokyo was a realm in itself, right? There must be some degree of realism, if that’s the case. Besides, Yuyuko was born of Gensokyo, and she came here, not to mention, Gensokyo had a Yama and shinigami assigned to it, so you obviously have spirits, souls, and afterlives too. Right now, you may be seen as figments in Gensokyo, but you are real anyplace else…”

“I see,” says Alice, “I just refuse to accept everything that I am to be a fantasy. I feel things. I cry, I laugh, I feel happy, I feel pain…” Shanghai, possibly responding to Alice’s will, pricks a small needle into Alice’s finger. A drop of blood trickles down her hand, “My heart pumps blood, I breath when I need air, I blink when my eyes need to be moist, I yawn and sleep when I feel tired, I scratch when I have an itch. I may not be you, Marisa, but you are ‘real,’ so do you feel all those things?”

“Everything you said,” I respond, “You and everyone else is real to me. Even if it is a dream, it’s too realistic to be thought of as fantasy. If you simply came off as mere thoughts, I don’t think I’d care for you as much as I do. No matter what others say, you exist. You and the others are real breathing people. You shouldn’t consider yourself to be anything other than that.”

I reach out and gently grab Alice’s hand. She blushes slightly, “M-Marisa…”

“I can touch you. That can’t be done with something that doesn’t exist. It isn’t the nature of your origins that’s important. It’s what you believe in. That’s what I’ve learned from this. Even if Gensokyo is a dream, I, myself, can’t accept it as anything other than a reality, so it, and everyone in it, are real to me... and should be to you too.”

“Marisa…” Suddenly, before I could predict what is going to happen next, Alice moves in front of me, presses her lips against mine, then pulls away a split second later.

I was caught by surprise, “Um… Alice?”

Alice gets up to her feet and says, trying to hide her embarrassment, “I just… wanted to… confirm our existence… Thank you, Marisa.” With that, Alice frantically runs away. What the hell? Well THAT certainly felt real. It's hard to believe people like her are thought of as inexistant beings by Reimu and Mima...

A few more minutes pass. At this point, I guess I should go back to Yukari, see if she has that portal open, and go finish this! I hop on my broom and fly toward the walkway leading up to the palace at a low altitude, but fast pace.

Suddenly, I hear a familiar voice declaring, “Celestial Star Sword: Silent Nirvana!” I can’t see her from beyond several cherry blossom trees, but the voice and spell card name indicates that it’s Youmu. Several blasts of white spirit energy, resembling small meteors, fly toward me. I take evasive action, performing numerous barrel rolls, dodging through the storm and continuing forward… at least until the next declaration, “Human Era Sword: Approaching Disillusion!” A silver and green streak dashes by, several feet in front of me, followed by a fissure in the ground, which geysers silver spirit energy out of it. I come to a sudden stop and fall to the ground. The geyser subsides and Youmu stands at the other side of the fissure, with both the Roukanken and Hakurouken drawn.

I get to my feet, demanding, “What the hell are you doing, Youmu? Get out of my way!”

Youmu says, “I’m sorry, Marisa. I was ordered by Yuyuko-sama to keep you from reaching Yukari’s portal. She wants Reimu to wake up, and it’s my duty to honor her wishes.”

“I understand where she’s coming from,” I say, “but I intend to keep Reimu from awakening! Time’s running out, so step aside!”

“Only if you defeat me in this duel,” responds Youmu, striking a ‘ready’ stance.

Youmu and I are friends, but when it comes down to it, her orders from Yuyuko get first priority. When spring was stolen, I fought Youmu, and she’s pretty tough, but I’m more familiar with her capabilities by this point, and I’m more powerful than I was back then.

I draw a spell card, “Light Sign: Earth Light Ray!” A magic circle appears under Youmu. However, she notices and leaps back as a laser shoots out of it. More magic circles appear, but she dodges each of the attacks. I prepare another spell card, “Magic Sign: Milky Way!” I extend my arm toward Youmu and fire out a focused flurry of star-shaped blasts of magic, which she manages to defend against by deflecting them with her two swords. Eventually, however, one of my blasts manages to get past Youmu defenses and strikes her in the face.

“AHHHHH!” Youmu puts her arms over her eyes and staggers backward, as her ghost-half blindly fires out numerous shots of spirit energy, which I dodge by jumping to the side as I approach.

I jump over the fissure and draw one last spell card, “Love Sign!” It’s for Master Spark, but I decide to use a little trick I recently taught myself. Instead of firing my laser, I focus the spell’s energy into my right hand and deliver a powered-up punch to the stunned Youmu’s gut. It’s the spell I have the most control over, so it’s the only one with which I can perform it. It rarely comes in handy, but at least it saves quite a bit of energy.

“ACK! Mar… i… sa…” Youmu doubles over, coughing out blood.

With no more use for my latest spell card, I yell, “Disengage!” The energy inside me returns to its card form. I walk past Youmu and say, “Sorry about that, Youmu. I hope we’re still friends after this…” I hop on my broom and fly ahead to the walkway. Damn! Yuyuko sure is serious about Kiribayashi’s awakening if she sent Youmu to stop me…

I arrive at the spot where Yukari was, but there is only a black portal. Yukari isn’t around anywhere. Oh well, at least it’s open. Time to find Reimu and put an end to this! I jump into the portal.

On the other side, it is… dark. The bright stars above make the area visible, though. I’m flying above a sea of clouds, though the air feels normal. A few dead trees poke up from under the clouds. A fairly depressing place, though the sky is beautiful. So this is Reimu’s boundary between Dream and Awakening, huh? At any rate, Reimu must be around here somewhere…

I fly ahead in search of Reimu, “Reimu! Where are you?”

A familiar voice, belonging to Yukari, says, “She’s up ahead…”

Another voice, belonging to Yuyuko adds, “… however, we won’t let you get that far…”

From above, Yukari and Yuyuko descend.

“What are you two doing?” I ask.

Yukari says, “I’m sorry, Marisa… but we’re going to try to stop you right here.”

“You too, Yukari? Just what the hell’s going on?” I demand.

Yukari answers, “I didn’t tell you before, but there was something I witnessed after confirming the coming awakening of Kiribayashi: Hiding inside one of my portals, keeping a miniscule rip open, I heard one of the doctors talking to her parents. They were tearful and relieved to know that their daughter was going to be with them again. It was… heartwarming… and it seems cruel to let you take her away from them! On the other hand, Gensokyo is my home and I want it back. Of course, I can’t have both. It’s one or the other. I want you to fail, but I want you to succeed. That’s my conflict, Marisa. Here’s the deal, Yuyuko and I will try to stop you. If you can get past us, we’ll leave you alone. You can go ahead and perform your business with Reimu.”

“There’s one other thing,” adds Yuyuko.

“What?”

Yukari answers, “See how it’s night here? Well, the sunrise of this boundary is also the sunrise of Reimu’s life, and yours. You need to stop her before dawn arrives.”

I grab the shaft of my broom tightly, “Damn it!”

Yukari spreads her arms, challenging me, “So come on, Marisa! Give us all you got!”

Shit! Looks like I gotta get them out of my way before I can go ahead to Reimu. What a pain in the ass this is gonna be!

Yuyuko extends her arm in my direction and fires a white laser of spiritual energy, which closes in on me fast, but I fly to the side at the last second and it grazes my arm.

I’m under a freakin’ time limit and these two are in my way. It may affect my chances against Reimu slightly, but at least I should get to her. Not intending to pull any punches, I draw a spell card right away, “Black Magic: Event Horizon!” Magic circles appear around me, and then spread out, spraying star-shaped blast of magic everywhere.

Yuyuko reacts to my attack by materializing a circular formation of butterflies, made from her spirit energy, in front of her, with an invisible barrier in the middle, acting as a shield to defend herself against my attack, while Yukari enters a portal, getting out of the way of my spell. Yukari will probably use this chance to reappear nearby, catching me off-guard, but since I’m predicting that, I’m already a step ahead of her. I quickly whirl around, just in time to see her emerge from her portal, with a stunned expression.

“’Know thy enemy,’ Yukari!” I fly at Yukari and unleash a sharp kick, sending her rocketing into the swarm of stars my spell created. At the same time, Yuyuko’s defenses became overwhelmed by the numerous blasts and, her shield broken, she gets hit by numerous stars as well. “I’m not screwing around,” I growl, “Get the hell outta my way before I use something that will REALLY leave a mark!” The effects of my spell end.

Yukari dusts herself off, “I’d like to, Marisa, but I honestly don’t know what’s right at this point. If you believe preventing Reimu’s awakening is the right thing, then prove your resolve here and now. Convince me, Marisa!” Yukari declares a spell card, “Bounded Field: Mesh of Light and Darkness!” Several portals open around Yukari and fire lasers. I take evasive action and fly as the storm of lasers follows behind me, occasionally grazing the bristles of my broom.

Meanwhile, Yuyuko, obviously planning to aid Yukari, readies a spell card of her own, “Ghostly Elegance!” Energy flows into Yuyuko’s body and a large purple ‘fan’ opens behind her, “Fatal Light Trap!” A massive swarm of butterflies flies out of the fan, with no distinguishable point of origin, in edition to red blasts of energy. This had just become much busier, as I dodge around Yuyuko’s butterflies and blasts, while still staying ahead of Yukari’s lasers, a few of both attacks nicking me, gradually wearing me down.

Shit! I need to get these two bitches outta my way, while still having enough energy to confront Reimu with. Of course, Yuyuko and Yukari are no pushovers themselves, and I need a degree of potential to take care of them. This situation is really bad. If this gets me, there will be no confronting Reimu, however. With some reluctance, I draw another spell card, intending to use one of my more energy-costly spells, “Loving Heart!” Golden energy gathers into both of my arms. I’m intending to use Double Spark, which allows me to fire off two Master Spark-level beams. Concerned with getting past Yukari and Yuyuko as soon as possible, I fly straight toward Yuyuko, barrel-rolling around her butterflies. However, she fires a large ball of energy at me, which slams into me head on, shaking me quite a bit. Damn! Must stay… focused! I barely manage to maintain control over my spell, as I get very close to the ghost princess and extend my left arm, firing my first laser.

“EEK!” Yuyuko lets out a cute scream as my spell slams into her, breaking her focus on her spell card. I start to inch in Yukari’s direction. I have my broom catapult me upward, above Yukari and I aim my right arm down at her.

“Double Spark!” I fire my second laser. However, Yukari has her lasers merge, forming a giant laser, rivaling the size and power of my own. Our spells clash and try to overpower one another. Luckily, my spell has the advantage, being fired off first, but, unlike me, Yukari has nothing to lose by focusing more of her power into hers… and she knows it.

“Hmhmhm…” Yukari chuckles as she boosts the power of her spell, which quickly starts to overpower mine.

“I’ll help, Yukari!” Yuyuko, who recovered from my last attack, decides to back Yukari up again, and fires a thin white laser at me.

Tch. I weaken and store the flow of my spell and dive down the side of Yukari’s laser, narrowly dodging Yuyuko’s attack. I fall down and past Yukari, landing on my broom, which swooped down and direct my arm up at her, as she notices and gasps. I shoot off the final burst of my spell at the now-vulnerable boundary youkai. “UGH!” Yukari staggers as her spell breaks.

“Yukari!” yells Yuyuko.

Yukari recovers, “That… was pretty good, Marisa… … … … Just maybe…”

Yuyuko interrupts, “Yukari, shall we use THAT?”

I ask, “What the hell is ‘THAT?’”

Yuyuko draws a spell card. Yukari shrugs, enters a portal and emerges next to Yuyuko, and then draws one too. At the same time, they declare, “Fantasy!”

“Huh?” I move backward a few feet. A combined spell? Between those two? The only instance of something like that I’ve only HEARD about was some of the techniques the Prismriver Sisters, three poltergeist musicians serving Yuyuko. Reimu fought them during the winter incident. Looks like I’m about to witness something of a similar nature.

Several ghostly wisps appear in front of Yuyuko and several of Yukari’s portals open all over the general area. They then declare, “Beauties of Nature!” Yuyuko’s wisps fires off a number of pink lasers, similar to the spell card Yukari previously used, only with less frequency and fewer sources, and sward of butterflies fly continuously out of Yukari’s portal. I move to avoid the lasers, but the butterflies are obstructing my view! I can’t even see the ghost and youkai anymore, there are so many! Shit! My back’s against the wall! I fire several blast of magic, but the cloud of butterflies is so dense, I don’t even know if Yukari is in my line of fire. I can tell Yuyuko’s location by the lasers shooting out. I’m no longer being aimed at, which means she can’t see me either, and she’s now firing her beams at random, but regardless, the butterflies break up my shots. The cloud expands, with me on the outside, being forced back, as the swarm will cut me to shreds if I get caught up in it.

Out loud, I express my bitter dismay, “Dammit! DAMMIT!” I reach into my pocket and pull out a spell card crumpled in my fist. I was going for potency, but still holding back enough for Reimu, but now I’m forced into a tight situation. Time to friggin’ end this! Reimu will no doubt have a major advantage over me, but at least I can face her! “Comet!” A transparent blue barrier surrounds me. “BLAZING STAR!” Focusing more energy into my spell than usual, I fly into the cloud at a blinding speed. My barrier protects me from the butterflies and lasers, though it gradually wears down. I zero in on where I know Yuyuko is. I break through the other end of the cloud and zoom toward the shocked Yuyuko, as Yukari watches on, equally surprised. “DAMN YOU!” I break into a series of barrel rolls, giving the shaft of my broom a ‘drill’ effect, and slam into the ghost princess, broom shaft first. White smoke pours out of her, the ghostly equivalent to blood, and behind me, the cloud instantly vanishes, indicating that the spell broke. Yuyuko falls, unconscious. Yukari emerges from a portal, catching her fallen friend.

Yukari says, “You win, Marisa. Go ahead and decide Gensokyo’s fate with Reimu.”

Breathing fast, I say, “It’s rather… obvious who has… the advantage now…”

Yukari give me an unsure smile, “Well… you’ll think of something. If the sun rises, you two wake up and Gensokyo completely fades into nonexistence. If you convince Reimu to not wake up, or knock her out and bring her back, you stay in this dram realm, and hopefully, continue your lives as you know it.”

“We’ll… see… When is… the sun supposed to rise?”

Yukari says, “Don’t know. Could be anytime. Well, I’ll bring Yuyuko back home, and then… watch you two or something. Have fun! Fufufu~” With her trademark giggle, Yukari disappears into a portal.

Fuck. The odds are stacked against me now. I fly ahead. Gradually, my breathing regulates, but I’m still significantly worn down from the battle. I take a couple deep breaths, then yell, “SHOW YOURSELF, REIMU!” My words echo for what seems like endlessly.

Suddenly, red mist, resembling what Remilia covered Gensokyo with, fills the air. Above, a pink incomplete moon, resembling the fake Kaguya used to control Gensokyo appears. Apparently, it has the same effects, but I’m resistant to the mind control. White flowers, unbloomed suzuran to be exact, grow on the previously dead trees, resembling Yuka’s previous actions. In the distance, to my left, the Mountain of Faith appears. To my distant right, a fully bloomed Saigyou Ayakashi appears. All around, various other sights, reminding me of former crisis’ Gensokyo faced, materialize. Reimu appears, the lunatic moon appearing to emphasize her presence, “Isn’t it nostalgic, Marisa?”

“Reimu!”

“Our dream is almost over. Soon, we will return to our everyday lives. For now, however, let us reminisce on our adventures together.”



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