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Part Seven: The Final Duel ~Thought's End~

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Yukari points out, “Your appearance had taken a turn similar to Reimu’s. Is there anything else different? You know… in your mind?”

I nod, “Yes, actually. I remember everything! My life before this dream started!”

Yukari asks, “Now that you remember who you really are, Marisa, what do you want to do? Wake up and resume your life, or keep dreaming?”

“I don’t know… I now realize the significance of what I lost… but Kaguya and Mokou. I don’t want them to continue being trapped in the non-existent Gensokyo. That hasn’t changed…”

Yukari sighs, “Just thought I’d bring it up. The truth is, now that the sun had risen here, there is no turning back…”

“What?”

“You two are on the verge of awakening. Gensokyo is gone. Not a speck exists in that space anymore… except for our two favorite immortals. I can no longer access it. Nothing can get in and nothing can get out…”

I tighten my fist, “Damn it! After all that, I couldn’t save them? I’ve always found a way to win in the past, no matter what the odds. I felt that as long as I was there to do something, everything would turn out alright in the end… but this is different. I promised myself and others that I would return it to normal… and after all that, I failed in the end! Damn it… DAMN IT!” I grit my teeth as tears pour out of my eyes. I can only think of what Kaguya and Mokou are feeling right now… Alice, Sakuya, and Yukari can’t find the right words.

I suddenly feel a reassuring hand on my shoulder. Reimu looks at my face with a kind smile, but I’m not feeling any better, “Marisa…”

“What do you want, Reimu? It’s because of you that Gensokyo is gone, everyone there is gone, save a few, and Kaguya and Mokou are trapped there!”

Reimu responds, “Every dream must end, and this is no exception. However, just like they end, they also begin. Gensokyo is our creation. Yours and mine. As long as we exist, new dreams are made… and even dreamt all over again. As long as we dream, there may still be hope!”

I stop crying, “Really? Is that true, Yukari?”

Yukari shrugs, “You tell me. It’s your dream. I’m just something you two thought up. Reimu has a reasonable point, however.”

I ask Yukari, “Can’t you just… you know… open a boundary into our dreams, or something, so we can get Kaguya and Mokou out?”

Yukari closes her eyes for a few seconds “… I might, as a matter of fact, but I’m not entirely sure. That could be a problem, though, as I will need both of you together…”

“We’re here,” says Reimu, “We’re together.”

“I mean your OTHER selves,” says Yukari, “your physical selves sleeping, awaiting awakening.”

Reimu points out the difficulty behind that, “We aren’t even aware of each others’ existence on the other side… and we’ll likely forget about everyone… and everything…”

As odd as it is, I can now fully grasp the things that Reimu is talking about. In fact, at absolutely any moment, I could wake up and end this dream… but I know that Kaguya and Mokou weren’t dreamt up and we gotta figure out a way to save them somehow, so I’m trying as hard as possible to remain asleep. I’m sure Reimu is the same way right now.

Sakuya guesses, “Even after Reimu and Marisa awaken, you, Yukari, Alice, Reisen, Eirin, Cirno, and I will continue to exist?”

“Yes,” answers Yukari, “provided you, me, and Alice are out of this dimension by the time they wake up.”

“Then perhaps we can find a way to reunite them on the other side?”

“They won’t know us anymore, so it will be more complicated than that… but you may be onto something, Sakuya…”

I let out a relieved sigh, “So there’s hope after all. That’s great.”

Reimu claps her hands together, “Well, there’s our solution… hopefully. We’ll just meet again on the other side, Marisa, and get the two of them out!”

“I hope it works,” I look at Yukari, “I’m counting on you.”

Yukari says, “You can depend on us. We’ll find a way to bring you two together. Well, the only way left to go is forward. We’ll leave the two of you to awaken and return to your day-to-day lives.” Yukari opens a portal and takes a few steps toward it before looking back at us, “We will be watching!” With those final words and a wink, she disappears into the portal.

Alice approaches the portal and looks back at me, “Marisa… you… won’t forget me… will you?”

I have no truthful answer to Alice’s question that may not hurt her feelings. All I can say is, “Well, no matter what happens, we’ll see each other again, I’m sure… so… um… don’t worry, okay?”

Alice’s sadness seems to be rising. She escapes into the portal as if to hide her weakness.

“…” Sakuya turns toward the portal.

I call out, “Sakuya! Wait!”

Sakuya looks back at me, “Yes, Marisa?”

“How did you do it? How did you escape? I thought you were going to get swallowed by the void!”

Sakuya answers, “Yukari went to check on us after you went on ahead. She took me to the Netherworld before you arrived there.”

“But… If you were okay, why didn’t you come and tell me?”

Sakuya smiles somewhat mischievously, “I figured the shock treatment might work to your advantage.”

I yell out, “Damn it! You bitch! How could you leave me like that?”

Sakuya chuckles, “Heh… You shouldn’t let yourself continue to worry about it. It turned out okay for us in the end, didn’t it?”

“I guess…”

“Well, goodbye for now. Our parting will only be temporary. We shall reveal ourselves when the time is right.” Sakuya disappears into the portal, which shortly vanishes after.

“I suppose it’s that time,” says Reimu.

“Reimu?”

“Yes?”

“I don’t get you. Before you were all happy about Gensokyo disappearing and stuff, not caring about anything, but now you care about saving Kaguya and Mokou by more or less, returning to it. Why the sudden change of heart?”

Reimu looks to the bright sky, “Before, I guess I was just excited. I gained so much power over something I was among an equal in before. I was happy that I was going to see my parents and friends again. I guess I felt that Gensokyo was keeping me from them, so I lashed out against it. But as time went on, I began to see a little more clearly. I’m aware that Kaguya and Mokou aren’t of my dream and are now trapped because of my haste and selfishness. I… want to make it right. I may forget about them soon, but I hope to eventually get them out of whatever they are trapped within. I’m… happy that Yukari is a product of my dream, otherwise it wouldn’t be possible…”

“I see. Well, I’m glad you came around in the end. Well, we should move on to the next step and wake up. Everyone is waiting for us!”

“Not just yet,” says Reimu.

“Huh?”

“There is one thing, Marisa…” Reimu’s clothes suddenly transform into the red and white clothes she wore as her in-dream persona, Reimu Hakurei “… I want to resolve one thing before closing our book…” She points her gohei at me, “Our rivalry. As Reimu Hakurei and Marisa Kirisame, let us determine once and for all which one of us is strongest. Sure, the victory will be less than fleeting, but let’s make this the last memory of ourselves as we were in Gensokyo, Marisa.”

“… Fine.” On a mere whim, my clothes turn back to the white and black clothes I wore as Kirisame. Something amazing is the power I suddenly gained over my other self. Even though she was worn out from fighting Reimu before, thanks to my will, she is now back at full strength. It’s almost funny that we are basically downgrading from our actual selves for our final duel, but hey, this is between Kirisame and Hakurei, settling one final conflict before we leave the dream behind us. Our true selves have no such rivalry, as in actuality, we don’t even know each other.

Our surroundings become brighter and brighter, eventually becoming a white void. Soon after, a lot of brown and green starts to appear. When the void completely vanishes, we are in a grassy clearing surrounded by forest. It bears a remarkable resemblance to the Forest of Magic. In fact, as our surrounding are at our command, it just might as well be. I quickly hop on my broom, ascend, and glance around. On the outer edges of the forest, there is the Hakurei Shrine to the north, Scarlet Devil Mansion to the west, Eientei to the south, and the Mountain of Faith to the east. The forest we are in is diamond-shaped with each point corresponding to each location and we are in the very center of all of it.

From each location, there are spectators from the dream, who I just know are there, despite being such a distance away. From the steps leading up to the Hakurei Shrine, Suika Ibuki, Ran Yakumo, Minoriko Aki, Shizuha Aki, Keine Kamishirasawa, Chen, Letty Whiterock, and Lily White are watching. From a balcony on Eientei, Tewi Inaba and many of the other rabbit youkai are viewing us. From the clock tower of Scarlet Devil Mansion, we are being watched by Remilia Scarlet, Flandre Scarlet, Hong Meiling, Patchouli Knowledge, and Koakuma. Aya Shameimaru, Kanako Yasaka, Suwako Moriya, Sanae Kotiya, Hina Kagiyama, and Nitori Kawashiro are watching from the summit of the Mountain of Faith. Hovering in various points in the air, not from any specific locations, Yuka Kazami, Mystia Lorelei, Medicine Melancholy, Wriggle Nightbug, and Rumia watch us. It’s like all the major locations and people in Gensokyo being brought together into one place! I descend back down to Reimu.

Reimu says, “This should be a fitting location. Appropriate for our final memory!”

I nod my head, “I agree.”

“Then let the final resolution begin!” Reimu jumps away, tossing a handful of needles down at me. I jump over the needles and toward Reimu, who then throws an ofuda, which I intercept with a blast of magic, both attacks canceling each other out in a burst of smoke. I dive through the smoke and toward Reimu, delivering a punch to the side of her face, however, she just as quickly attacks back with a quick slap, followed by a kick, launching me away from her. We both land on the ground on our feet. Reimu tosses another handful of needles at me as I charge straight at her, which I narrowly dodge by sliding under them. Just as I’m about to deliver a low kick to her legs, Reimu leaps up, tossing an ofuda down at the place where she was standing.

“Oh sh_” The ofuda bursts in an explosion of light sending me sliding across the ground. Reimu flies above me and dives down foot-first. I dodge her kick at just the right moment. She gets ready to counter by tossing a needle down at me, but I swing my broom, striking her leg, stunning Reimu long enough to get back to my feet. She thrusts her gohei at me, but I quickly dodge to the side and deliver a kick, knocking her back a few feet and putting some distance between us.

Our onlookers cheer with excitement. Reimu smiles as she says, “Very good, Marisa. It’s a decent start anyway…” Reimu draws a spell card from her pocket, “Spirit Sign: Fantasy Orb!” Four balls of holy energy of various colors materialize above Reimu. One shoots down toward me, which I dodge by jumping back as it slams into the ground where I was standing. The second and third also attack me in the same way, which I dodge in the same way. I prepare a spell card, intending to counterattack after the last one. Reimu launches her last orb and I jump back to dodge it like I did with the other three, but this time, instead of crashing into the ground, it arcs straight toward me. No good! I’m wide open!

“Eeeuugghh!” The last orb slams into me and sends me reeling. Reimu dashes straight at me. Despite being a little dizzy from the attack, I manage to declare my spell card, “Magic Sign: Milky Way!” I extend my arm and send a storm of star-shaped magic blasts at Reimu, who dodges my complicated attack, by jumping, sliding, or turning to the sides, all without losing any speed. For someone who isn’t very diligent in her studies, she still manages to fight like the best of them, whereas I’m the polar opposite, hence the rivalry that we are settling right now. Even though the fight is only going to escalate from here, there is no malice in our attacks. Despite the intensity, in the end, it’s really just a friendly duel.

I hop on my broom and jet toward the miko, who dodges by jumping over me and tossing a needle at my blind side, which I quickly wise up to, look back, and intercept with a tiny blast of blue magic, causing it to spin into the air away from me. I fly upward and fire several large blasts of blue magic at Reimu. She dodges and my attacks hit the ground, bursting into small explosions. She flies up at me, narrowing the distance between us rapidly… and make both of us an easier target for each other. I fire one last blast of explosive magic, which scores a direct hit, knocking the miko back to the ground… but around the same time, I feel something hit me lightly. I look at my body and see one of Reimu’s ofuda attached on. Oh shit! I was so focused with attacking her that I didn’t notice! The ofuda bursts and I’m send tumbling back to the ground, which I hit hard, but don’t break anything. I slowly return to my feet, the two of us separated by several meters. Unfortunately for me, Reimu is quicker to declare a spell card, “Border World: Hakurei Danmaku Bounded Field!” Several ofuda materialize around Reimu and fly into portals. Portals appear all over the place, ofuda emerge from on and disappearing into another. The nature of this attack is very confusing. Sometime after we defeated Yukari, Reimu learned a little about border manipulation from her, thus she has space-manipulating spell like this… I fire a magical laser toward Reimu, but a portal opens and swallows it and comes out of a portal facing me. I move to the side, avoiding my own attack. Several portals open around me and the ofuda fly out. I dodge the first few, but I finally get mercilessly bombarded by tons of ofuda, each bursting upon contact. They are all used until there are no more, but Reimu, appearing to use an extra ounce of energy to keep this attack going, materializes another wave of ofuda to attack me with.

Here’s my chance to get outta this! “Star Sign!” After declaring a spell card, a white ball of magical energy appears in my hand. I toss it up and above Reimu, and then declare, “DRAGON METEO!” The ball turns into a large laser, about as big as my Master Spark, which fires directly down toward the ground… and Reimu. She gets hit from above and loses her focus over her spell.

“Ow…” The power of my attack, along with the presumably substantial amount of energy Reimu put into her spell, leaves her dazed.

I take advantage of the situation and declare another spell card, “Light Blast!” A magic circle appears below Reimu, “Shoot the Moon!” Another giant laser, like the one before fires up from below Reimu (the opposite of my last spell), blasting her into the sky. There is a pause of a few second after my spell ends and I wait for her to come down… … … … … Suddenly, there is an acute pain in my lower chest and notice a needle sunk in! I yank it out and focus seeing Reimu slowly descending from the sky, about to toss more needles. I roll to the side several times, avoiding her barrage.

Reimu lands and catches her breath, “That was good, Marisa… Very good… Now then…” Reimu declares a spell card, “Divine Skill: Four-Handed Yin-Yang Performance!” Four large yin-yang orbs appear above Reimu and being firing countless lasers down at me.

“Shit!” I run to the edge of the clearing and take cover behind a tree as the lasers slowly whittle away at it.

Reimu asks, “Don’t you think it’s funny… and a little strange, Marisa? No matter where you go, everyone looks up to an absolute power… a supreme being… a deity… However, as the two of us have recently witnessed, within our own personal world, we hold the absolute power over it… just like the very deities that people worship.”

“Huh?”

“When you manage to master your own world, you are the absolute power! What’s so strange… yet interesting… is that a ‘God’ exists in each and every being in existence.”

Reimu’s lasers cut through the tree I was using for cover. “Tch.” A couple hit me, but I manage to get behind another tree.

“That’s no fun!” yells Reimu, “You should find another tactic!” Suddenly, I hear a humming sound from the yin-yang orbs firing the lasers. I peek out from my hiding place and see that the four orbs stopped firing and came closer together. Below, Reimu is performing some hand seals. With her fingers interlocked in unusual ways, she thrusts her hand out. The four orbs, all at once, fire a larger, more powerful laser, not unlike my Master Spark.

“AH!” I dive out from my hiding place as the laser hits and the tree falls. Luckily, they aren’t firing the rapid barrage from before, so I take the momentary peace to ready a spell card, “Light Sign!” I summon a group of small magic circles to the ground below Reimu and her yin-yang orbs, “Earth Light Ray!” My magic circles start shooting MY laser barrage from below. Reimu back dashes out of the way, but her yin-yang orbs get bombarded and destroyed. I hop on my broomstick and declare another spell card, “Comet: Blazing Star!” A blue field surrounds me and I fly toward Reimu rapidly, intending to ram her.

Reimu declares a countermeasure spell card, “Divine Arts!” A giant magic circle expands below Reimu, “Omnidirectional Demon Binding Circle!” A massive pillar of orange light surrounds Reimu and I crash headlong into it. It overwhelms my field, breaking it and my spell and I feel the force of her attack. “HA!” Reimu’s pillar flashes and a force sends me flying up and through the air, clean out of the clearing where we were fighting.

As I’m helplessly flying in the direction of Scarlet Devil Mansion, I see that I’m on a crash course with Wriggle Nightbug! I brace for impact, but nothing happens. I see that I just flew right through her like she wasn’t even there. After a few more seconds, I crash into the wall of the clock tower, where Remilia and company are, and fall to the floor. Meiling walks over and offers me a helping hand. I try to grab her hand, but mine just passes through, just like I just did with Wriggle. Nearby, Remilia is saying something to me… or at least I THINK she is. Her mouth is moving, but I’m not hearing a voice. Judging by her expression, however, I guess she’s just upset that I’m trying to hurt Reimu, even if our battle is on non-hostile terms. Well, this is a stage that Reimu created for our final duel… but, despite how much this place tries to look like it, this is not Gensokyo… not at all. Everyone watching us is just an illusion. Still, it’s good to see them…

I get back to my feet. Reimu is flying right at me. I get back on my broom, take to the air, and fly back into the fray. Reimu and I fly alongside each other, exchanging needles and magical blasts. One of my blasts hits Reimu in the side of the face as one of her needles sinks into my arm. We descend and land in front of the Hakurei Shrine. I quickly draw a spell card and direct my arms toward Reimu, “Love Sign: Master Spark!” I fire my giant magical laser at Reimu.

Again, Reimu draws a spell card as a countermeasure, “Barrier!” Several small yin-yang orbs materialize in front of her, “Danmaku Kaleidoscope!” My laser clashes with an invisible shield formed between the orbs. Also, energy from my laser seems to get reflected back at me. Luckily, I notice that Reimu’s barrier is showing some strain from my attack.

Even though it’s going to hurt, I pour extra energy into my spell. Reimu’s shield looks dangerously close to breaking.

“Neggrrh…” Reimu seems to be feeling under the weather as I slowly overwhelm her.

“YAAA!” The barrier shatters and my laser breaks through, slamming into Reimu, knocking her back.

With both of us severely weakened, we breathe heavily. Still, as this is the battle to infinitely determine which of us is truly superior, I’m not going to give up and neither is she. I reach into my pocket to pull out another spell card, but… I don’t feel any others in there! This is the last one! Reimu pulls out a spell card, and says, “Well, This is my last one…”

“What a coincidence,” I respond.

Reimu smiles and says, “Well… shall we put an end to this? The one this truly deserves?”

“Fine!”

We both raise our final spell cards and simultaneously declare, “Last Word!” Both of our bodies undergo a transformation. Black wings emerge out of my back as white wings emerge out of Reimu’s.

The power in me explodes as we take to the sky. As I now have wings, I no longer need my broom to fly. We both move around at blinding speeds. Reimu’s gohei and my broom clash numerous times as we move about. Anyone watching us probably wouldn’t be able to detect our movement and only see the bursts of energy as our weapons clash.

“YYYAAAHHHHHHH!” Reimu and I charge at each other one last time and our weapons clash again, this time so hard that they snap in two. We discard our broken weapons and move on to using our energy attacks. Many large orbs of golden holy energy materialize around Reimu and fly toward me. I avoid some and others hit me rather hard, but I’m not weakened by much. I fire a magical laser at Reimu, though with the enormous increase in power, it’s now about as big and powerful as a Final Spark. My attack scores an indirect hit and we keep fighting, neither of us showing any signs of wearing down. Our battle continues for several minutes.

Finally, Reimu yells, “This is it, Marisa! Time to end this battle… and this dream! FANTASY HEAVEN!” Reimu spreads her arms and hundreds, literally, HUNDREDS (maybe approaching a thousand) of orbs of holy energy appear. It’s similar in nature to her Fantasy Orb spell, only with several times more orbs and each one is exponentially more powerful than normal! They fly toward me at such a speed I can’t even dodge! I’m bombarded mercilessly all over and the attack last for minutes with me unable to fight back. Reimu’s attack finally ends and she breathes quickly from such a heavy energy loss. “Can you perform your move… after that?”

That’s quite a dare. It’s not easy, as I was harmed pretty badly by that… but I can manage. I have the willpower for it! “Of course… I can!” I spread my arms and declare, “APOCALYPSE SPARK!” Several magic circles materialize around Reimu and each fires out a massive laser, all slightly more powerful than a Final Master Spark. Like I just was, Reimu get ruthlessly assaulted by numerous lasers from me, roughly 30 to 60 in number. Dark magical energy gathers into my hands and I finish the spell with a giant dark purple laser, stronger than the ones that were previously fired.

It hits and the world around us turns into a white void once again, but only for a few seconds. When it clears, we are back in our original forms, our lives steadily draining away, back in the clearing. After many deep breaths, we charge at each other one last time. “AHHHH!” We both throw a punch at the exact same time and both of our fists hit each other in the side of the face. There is a short pause, and then, in such perfect unison that it’s like looking into a mirror, we both slump to the ground. The world around us becomes a white void again, this time for good. We both revert to Starr and Kiribayashi, the weaknesses and injuries we sustained as Kirisame and Hakurei disappearing completely.

Reimu smiles cheerfully, “That was really fun, Marisa! I guess in the end, neither of us could surpass the other.”

After a brief chuckle, I say, “That’s the way it should be. I’m sure neither of us wanted a defeat that would last forever…”

“You have a point…” Reimu sighs, “So this is it, huh, Marisa? The end of the dream?”

“It’s no dream,” I say, “Gensokyo was an actual dimension. Some that were born of imagination became reality. In the end, it’s not just another fleeting fantasy.”

“True. So… we will meet again?”

“Well, as long as Yukari and the others have something to say about it, I’m sure.”

Reimu chuckles a little, “At first, I was so excited… but now I’m hesitant… I want to return to my life… but I don’t want to forget you and everyone else…”

“Even if you do, I’m sure we’ll remember at some point or another. Look at me, Reimu, remember all you did with me. Let my face be a reminder of me to you and all we’ve done, all our adventures!”

“… Marisa!” Reimu hugs, me, which I soon return.

“Let us move on, Reimu. We still have unfinished business where Gensokyo once was. This is not the end.”

“Yeah…”

With that, Reimu fades from my sight. My head feels like it’s spinning. My memories start slipping away. Where was I? Who was I just talking to…? WAS I just talking to someone? Just what the hell just happened?

I open my eyes. I find myself in an unfamiliar room in an uncomfortable bed. I try to sit up… Damn! I’m suddenly overcome by a horrible headache. What just happened?

… … … … Oh yeah… I was hit by a truck that ran through a red light, and… Ah, so is this a hospital room? I feel my forehead, which is wrapped in bandages. Just how long was I out? However, something feels like it’s missing…

Suddenly, a tear rolls down my face… but why? I survived the accident! I should be happy… but somehow, it feels like I forgot something important. Oh well, at least I’ll have time to think about it…

I hear voices on the other end of the door. An unfamiliar deep male voice says, “Mr. and Mrs. Starr, your daughter’s condition is stabilizing. She was out for awhile, but in the end, she was able to pull through. She is truly fortunate.”

I hear my relieved mother’s voice say, “Thank God! I was so worried!”

Looks like thing will be alright for me… but still, something feels… unfinished. Could it be my imagination, or…

---

In the Netherworld, Yukari explains the events that had transpired to Yuyuko and Youmu.

“I see,” says Yuyuko, “It’s great to see that those poor girls managed to recover… but even so, I can’t help but feel that we’ve abandoned Kaguya and Mokou…”

“Don’t worry,” says Yukari, “I have an idea. It may take a little time and there are no guarantees, but there may still be hope left for them.”

“I see…” Yuyuko turns to Youmu, “Youmu, will you help Yukari out?”

Youmu asks, “But what about you, Yuyuko-sama? I must be by your side to protect you!”

Yuyuko says, “Gensokyo is gone. Any threat that may befall me would be from there, but the Netherworld is now a standalone realm. I should be quite safe from now on. Besides, I also have the Prismrivers and Mima to protect me.”

Youmu bows to her mistress, “That is true. Very well, I shall assist Yukari in her goal.”



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