- Return to Fiction by Valesta
I take a few steps back, “’De-demon world?’ Aren’t demons merciless killers that destroy things for fun… kinda like Yuka?”
Alice shakes her head, “You shouldn’t think like that, Marisa. Demons are greatly misunderstood. They are a lot like you and me, except they live here. That’s the only difference between us and them.”
Sakuya asks, “You said you have a connection to this place. May I ask what?”
A soothing voice with a slight accent, which I can’t identify, comes from a distance and draws closer, “Alice Margatroid used to study this realm and its inhabitants for about seven months. During that time, she practically became one of us. She’s special to me…” A figure materializes out of thin air behind Alice, a woman with long silver hair, partly braided into a small pigtail, gray eyes, and wears a flowing red robe. She wraps her arms around Alice from behind as a hug “… like a daughter…”
“Who are you?” I ask the mystery woman.
She introduces herself, “My name is Shinki. I am the queen… no… the goddess of the demon world that surrounds you. All born here are my children…”
Cirno’s eyes widen, “She’s your mother, Alice? You didn’t tell me that!”
Alice says, “No, you got it all wrong. Shinki-sama is not my mother. She had just been a mother figure to me!”
Shinki lets go of Alice and laughs, “Don’t be so modest, Alice. You can call me your mother. I accept you as one of my own.”
“If you want… mother…” Alice quickly changes the subject as if she’s embarrassed, “So… um… Marisa… Sakuya… Mokou… Lunarians… How did you get here?”
Mokou starts off, “Marisa used something, like a ball, to open a portal, which led us here.”
I pick up, explaining in a more specific fashion, “Yukari gave me that ‘ball.’ She said it would open a portal to a ‘safe place,’ which just happens to be here. Now, Alice, let me ask you the same question: how did YOU get here?”
“It was… rather sudden,” explains Alice, “All kinds of disasters occurred around Gensokyo and people were disappearing. My students vanished one by one. Wriggle, Rumia, Medicine, and finally Mystia. Cirno was about to disappear and I started to fade myself…”
Shinki picks up, “Makai has a boundary link to Gensokyo, and I can open a gateway here as I see fit. I managed to get Alice and her remaining student here just in time.”
Alice looks at the ground, “Just what is happening to Gensokyo… and everyone?”
Sakuya explains what we learned from Mima, “We learned that Gensokyo is coming to an end. The one we learned this from compared Gensokyo to a ‘thought’ and everyone within it as ‘fragments’ that didn’t truly exist, fading away. This had happened to everyone: Remilia-sama, Meiling, Patchouli, Koakuma, Flandre, Yuka… However, Marisa, Eirin, Mokou, Kaguya, Reisen, and I didn’t disappear at all for some reason…”
Shinki suggests, “Perhaps there is something all six of you hold in common?”
We take a few seconds to think.
“We’re all human?” guesses Sakuya.
“I’m not,” says Reisen.
Mokou adds, “The people of the human village disappeared too.”
Sakuya puts on an embarrassed smile, “My mistake…”
Mokou makes another guess, “We’re immortal?”
“I’m not immortal,” I respond.
“Neither am I,” says Reisen again.
“Um… um…” Kaguya tries hard to come up with an idea, “We’re all Lunarians?”
Another wrong idea, as I point out, “I’m not a Lunarian.”
“Neither am I,” says Mokou.
Eirin, who was silent the whole time, takes a shot, “We’re not from Gensokyo?”
There’s a long silence between us.
“Let’s see,” says Alice, “Kaguya, Eirin, Reisen, and Sakuya were all from the moon in a different realm…”
Mokou adds, “I wasn’t, but I came from another realm too.”
“But I lived in Gensokyo my whole life!” I say, “That can’t be it!”
Shinki says to me, “Even if that’s so, it seems like the most logical conclusion. If Gensokyo and the residents born there are all part of the same thought, then outside elements may have a different set of rules.”
I’m getting confused. Just where do I fit in? “That makes sense, but I’ve lived in Gensokyo for as long as I can remember. How did I not disappear?”
Shinki closes her eyes, “That I do not know…”
Sakuya mentions, “And just WHAT exactly is Reimu? How could she cause all this? Sure, she saved Gensokyo on many different occasions, but she was just as human as all the others! Why that change?”
“What are you talking about?” asks Cirno.
Alice’s eyes widen, “Reimu? What do you mean she ‘caused’ this?”
I explain, “Yukari asked us to go to the Hakurei Shrine and see Reimu. Apparently, she had some suspicions about her… and while I didn’t want to believe it, those suspicions were right on. She said some weird things, and then disappeared.”
“I can’t believe it,” says Alice in disbelief.
“So everything was confirmed on your end?” Suddenly, Yukari appears from out of a portal.
Relieved, I say, “Yukari! You made it, just like you said!
“Hello, Yukari,” greets Shinki, “What brings you here?”
Yukari greets back, “It’s been a long time Shinki…” I guess when you go from one realm to the next, you meet plenty of people “… I’ve come to speak to the individuals that have come here.” She turns her attention back to me, “From what you just said, Reimu was acting strangely…”
“Yeah,” I answer, “What about you investigation?”
“It’s just as I thought,” answers Yukari.
“You know something,” says Sakuya, “So what’s going on? Why did Reimu act the way she did? What did you research?”
Yukari opens a portal, “I will show you. Follow me.”
“Certainly,” responds Alice as she walks toward the portal.
Cirno cries, “But I wanna stay here! And I want to be with someone from Gensokyo!”
Reisen says to Cirno, “I’ll stay with you. I know little about what’s going on and I agree, this is a pretty nice place.”
“I’ll stay too,” volunteers Eirin, “I’m curious about the materials I can find here to make potions with, but I want to know what you’ll find out.”
Kaguya and Mokou stare at the portal. Kaguya says, “I’m… curious… All this time, Gensokyo was not what it seemed. I want to know more…”
Mokou responds, “Strangely enough, this is something I want to look further into…”
“Okay,” says Yukari, “Beyond this portal awaits the absolute truth; the reason behind Gensokyo’s existence. The reason it began and there reason for its impending end.”
I step forward, “It could be the key to saving Gensokyo. Count me in!”
Alice turns to Shinki, “I’ll be back again. I just really want to know the truth behind what I’ve known for so long. Please take care of Cirno for me.”
“I understand,” acknowledges Shinki, “I’ll see you again. I’m happy to have seen you again, Alice.”
“Let’s go!” Sakuya, Alice, Kaguya, Mokou, Yukari, and I jump into the portal.
On the other end of the portal, we emerge in a room. The walls and ceiling are white and the floor is made up of white and blue tiles. In the back of the room, there is a large rectangle-shaped window with blue curtains spread open, allowing the sunlight from the outside in. Outside, there are several tower-like structures and below, there are gray roads with several metal and glass contraptions moving around on wheels. There is not a lot of furniture in the room, except for a table with a green vase of flowers, with some bouquets leaning against it and some paper cranes. There is another table with another contraption on it (Rinnosuke would like this place), with something on it that looks like zigzags and a wire leading to a bed, which lays parallel to the window. I notice there’s someone lying in the bed: It’s a girl, probably in her late teens, with long black hair. I can’t tell the color of her eyes, since they’re closed. Even so, I recognize this girl! Sure, she’s wearing a sailor suit type of school uniform and she has some bandages wrapped around her head, but she is definitely… Reimu!
“Reimu!” I cry out, “How is this possible? She’s in Gensokyo, acting all weird and stuff! How can she be here, in this strange place?”
“Quite the turn,” comments Alice.
Yukari explains, “The girl you are looking at is not Reimu Hakurei. Her name is Reimu Kiribayashi. Hakurei is nothing more than a persona.”
“A persona?” asks Sakuya.
“Just what is this girl?” asks Kaguya.
Yukari says, “You know how Gensokyo is known as a dream world, right?”
“…” We all nod.
Yukari smiles slightly, “Well, it most certainly is a dream world… in every sense of the word.”
“Gensokyo, in all its form and splendor, originated right…” Yukari points at Reimu’s forehead “… here.”
Alice confirms, “So you’re saying Gensokyo was this girl’s dream? People born there, like me, were all a part of that dream?” What Mima said is starting to make sense! If it was all a dream, then Gensokyo really was a thought and everyone a figment, but there is still so much that doesn’t add up…
Kaguya states, “But those of us that hadn’t disappeared… we all got to Gensokyo, but if it was just a dream, how can that be possible? It should all be a thought, which no one can physically enter.”
Yukari says, “Even though I have control over boundaries, even I don’t know their nature… what triggers them into being…”
Mokou looks at Reimu ‘Kiribayashi’s’ bandages, “So what happened to her? Why is she like this?”
Yukari answers, “An accident, apparently. I did some research: 7 months ago, Reimu got into that accident, which knocked her into a coma; a deep sleep. In that period, Gensokyo was born. Gensokyo is like this girl’s dream. As Reimu Hakurei, she was like the central character of a story taking place in a world of her creation.”
“…” There is a long silence between us.
Kaguya looks out at the futuristic cityscape beyond the room’s window, “What is this place? Another realm apparently, but…”
Yukari answers, “We are in a hospital in a country called Japan… Ah!” Yukari realizes something, looking at Kaguya and Mokou.
Mokou’s eyes widen, “THIS is Japan? I can’t believe it!”
“What about it?” asks Alice.
Kaguya answers, “Mokou and I used to live here. Of course, it looked nothing like what it does now. It was back in a feudal era, where…” Kaguya realizes something herself, “Yukari, what you said about Gensokyo coming into being because of this girl’s dream can’t be true! You took me and Eirin to Gensokyo way back then, and Mokou sometime after that. I imagine that was long before ‘Reimu Kiribayashi’ was even born!”
Yukari closes her eyes, “The nature of dreams is a mysterious thing. When you’ve dreamt, have you ever felt like an eternity had passed in an instant in real time, or a dream instant had lasted for many real hours? Dreams defy all logic… and even time itself when Gensokyo came into being.”
“What do you mean?” asks Sakuya.
“Gensokyo had existed for many of thousands of years. During the early stages of that time, people like me were born. However, to Reimu, it was all setting the stage for her time in the spotlight. To her consciousness, I imagine the time before her existence in Gensokyo was all fast-forwarded, but to all other beings, that time moved naturally. The boundary created by her dream created another line of history to exist alongside other realms…”
I’m shocked, “You’re saying SHE created history through a dream? That’s crazy!”
Yukari states, “The creation of boundaries, in all of its mystery, even history is a trivial thing that becomes easily changed. What one believes one day can be warped and twisted for the next.” Is everything I believe really what it used to be? Could it have been, changed without me consciously being aware of it?
Thankfully, Mokou cuts into the sci-fi twist that whole situation had just taken, “Okay, so this Reimu had created Gensokyo through a dream, and with that, a history that me and Kaguya joined into at one point. Am I right so far?”
“Yes,” answers Yukari.
“Princess here, Eirin, Reisen, Sakuya, and I were not a part of the ‘dream,’ so we weren’t affected by what is happening in Gensokyo…”
“You’re still right,” says Yukari.
“So WHY is Gensokyo ending? Why is everyone disappearing?”
I have a guess to Mokou’s question, but I decide to let Yukari answer. She points at the machine with the zigzags that form. They are long lines and sharp curves, “That’s why. This Reimu is recovering; waking up from the coma… and the dream that is Gensokyo. The moment she wakes up is the moment Gensokyo ends. Right now, she’s beginning to regain her consciousness, which is why Gensokyo is slowly, but surely, falling apart.”
Sakuya says, “So if she doesn’t wake up, Gensokyo will be revived and everyone, including Remilia-sama, will return?”
“I would imagine so,” answers Yukari.
“It could be done right now, then…” Sakuya draws a knife and points it down at the sleeping Reimu.
Shocked, I yell, “Sakuya, what the hell are you doing?”
Sakuya answers, “If I do this, she won’t awaken. Remilia-sama and my friends will return and Reimu, as I know and love her, will return as well.”
Mokou protests, “What you’re doing is trying to kill an injured comatose girl! There has to be another way!”
“But this is…” Sakuya’s arm trembles, then she stops, “I can’t, even if she isn’t the Reimu I know. Even though she threatens to end everything and everyone, she still created Gensokyo as well!” Sakuya slumps to the floor sobbing, “Reimu… if only I knew what you really wanted…”
Yukari states, “Killing this Reimu won’t solve anything. She needs a consciously living mind to sustain Gensokyo.”
I ask, “Hey, Yukari. Do you know why Reimu was acting weird before? She wasn’t herself at all. It was creepy…”
Yukari guesses, “I believe that’s Reimu Kiribayashi’s will upon awakening leaking through her persona, Reimu Hakurei. Her true presence is reemerging, but I don’t know why she would act as unusual as you say. I’d estimate she’s was speaking out of pure confusion…”
Sakuya dries her tears and asks, “Is there anything we can do to keep this Reimu from waking up, without killing her?”
Yukari answers, “Well… there is the boundary between Dreams and Awakening. However, I can only access that from the Netherworld…”
“Then we should go there!” I announce, “That’s the key to saving Gensokyo and everyone!”
Yukari’s eyes turn to the side, as if she’s conflicted by something, “I… I suppose.”
Alice asks Yukari, “Something I’m curious about… Do all dreams create realms? Are there other places like Gensokyo?”
Yukari answers, “No, actually. Gensokyo was a… unique case…”
“How so?” asks Kaguya.
“Concentrated energies,” answers Yukari. “A dream so great that it broke beyond the boundaries of the individual mind. Of course, that’s well beyond the power of a single person…”
I ask, “Are you saying someone else is also responsible for this?”
Yukari answers, “Yes and no. Reimu was the original dreamer, and thus, created and had power over Gensokyo, but there is another, through whom enough thought energy was generated to create a realm from the dream.”
“Who would that be?” asks Alice.
“I will show you…” Yukari opens another portal.
We step through and end up in another white room. However, while the room Reimu is in was somewhat homey, this one is a lot more depressing. There are no windows and the room itself is lit only by a few dim lights from the ceiling. A side of the room is occupied by a counter covered with needles, bottles of stuff, bandages, and a lot of other stuff with a purpose beyond my understanding.
Yukari explains, “This is another hospital located in another part of this realm called ‘Los Angeles.’”
In the middle of the room, though, there is a bed with white sheets and there is another girl in that bed. We look over and we simultaneously gasp. She has wavy blonde hair and is wearing a white gown. The girl in that bed is… me! She has injuries similar to Reimu’s.
“It’s another Marisa!” yells Alice.
“Yeah,” says Mokou, “This is getting weirder…”
“What the hell IS this?” I demand of Yukari.
Yukari answers, “You’re a lot like Reimu. You too have been living in the dream world that is Gensokyo, while your true self has been sleeping here. This is Marisa Starr. ‘Marisa Kirisame’ is also a persona.”
I look at my hands, saying, “I’m… just a product of THIS girl’s thoughts?”
Yukari’s eyes turn to the side “… Yes…”
“I can’t believe it!” says the wide-eyed Alice.
I can’t believe it either! I want to think this is a joke, but looking at the other Marisa is like looking into a mirror and it’s hard to deny a possible connection, “But… I don’t remember being this person… I remember living my entire life in Gensokyo…”
Yukari says, “Of course you don’t. You are the same, and yet you are different. This girl’s life, upon experiencing an accident, at almost the same exact time as Reimu, had been put on hold… and began anew in the dream world of Gensokyo.”
“But it was Reimu’s dream, wasn’t it?” asks Kaguya.
“Yes,” answers Yukari, “and as a result of that, Gensokyo’s very foundations revolve around her, but Marisa, as I said, got injured and went into a deep coma at virtually the same exact time as Reimu did on the other side of this world. In fact, the time difference was only a few seconds. It took me some time to gather that information. Now I don’t know what happened exactly, but it seems apparent to me that somehow, Marisa’s mind crossed with Reimu’s. She became a part of Reimu’s dream and that focusing of two minds broke the boundary of the dream and created something that was more than a mere dream: Gensokyo.”
I’m a little confused, but I think I understand what Yukari’s point is: “You’re saying that I’m like Gensokyo’s other creator?”
Yukari answers, “It was Reimu that shaped the world, but it was you who unknowingly helped her in creating a whole new realm.”
I put my hand over my forehead, “Wow…”
Everything we learned is hard to accept and just as hard to absorb. An eerie silence fills the room.
Yukari asks, after a few minutes, “What are you going to do, Marisa? Reimu and you are dreaming at the same time and I’ve heard you… Marisa Starr, that is, is starting to show signs of recovery. I’d imagine that the end of Reimu’s dream will also be the end of your dream. You will both return to this world, and like so many other dreams, forget about or have very vague memories of Gensokyo and everything you did, as you return to life in this realm.”
I close my eyes, “If it’s as you say, then awakening is the way it should be…”
Sakuya gives me a sympathetic look, “Marisa…”
I open my eyes, “But as far as I’m concerned, Gensokyo is the one and only world I’ve ever known and I have precious memories and made friends that I care about… that I want back! I have no desire for this world! I want to continue living as Marisa Kirisame and I will stop Reimu to keep the only life I understand!” Perhaps I’m only speaking through the fact that I can’t understand the perspective of the other me, but I feel I should stick with what I believe in.
Yukari sighs and responds, “Very well, Marisa. You can certainly try to accomplish your task.”
Sakuya says, “Well then, let’s go to the Netherworld. If the situation is truly getting there, it won’t be long until Reimu awakens. You said the boundary between Dreams and Awakening is only accessible from there.”
“Yes,” says Yukari, “We should get going…” Yukari opens a portal, which she, Sakuya, Alice, Mokou, and Kaguya enter. I look back at Marisa Starr, my other self in a deep sleep. It doesn’t feel fair that I can only exist if she never wakes up. I enter the portal myself.
We emerge from the portal. Around us, there are small chunks of land floating above a black void. Below us is a large crater, which I imagine was filled with water, but was drained dry. Up above, there are clouds swirling toward one round point in the sky. I realize that this is not the Netherworld. To confirm my suspicions, I look in Yukari and Alice’s direction. Sure enough, they are fading. We’re back in Gensokyo… but how?
Yukari realizes the situation and opens a portal, which she enters, but doesn’t leave through, “Alice! Get in here! I don’t know how, but we’re back in Gensokyo! This will keep you from disappearing!”
“Y-yes!” Alice enters the portal with Yukari, becoming opaque again.
Mokou looks around, “What the hell?”
Kaguya comments, “Gensokyo looks worse than ever! We don’t have much time left…”
Sakuya asks, “But how did Yukari’s portal take us here? I thought we were going to the Netherworld…”
The point that the clouds are swirling around up above is Gensokyo’s gate, which leads to the Netherworld. Below, there used to be a lake, which I once fought Alice above.
“Teehehehehe!” We hear a creepy laugh, which I remember very well. We look up and see Reimu, with her empty eyes and white outfit, saying, “I merely manipulated Gensokyo’s boundary to redirect you here. I want to have some fun before I go!”
- Return to Fiction by Valesta