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Part Two: Forgiveness

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I wake up and I feel like shit. I had trouble getting to sleep, but, after hours of trying, I finally did. However, I probably only got in four hours of slumber at best. I’m still wearing my school uniform. Did those event really happen…? Nah! It was a dream. I mean, in today’s world, how can something so weird happen?

I put on a new uniform, and then eat a breakfast that does little to satisfy my hunger. Finally, I’m out the door, headed for a new school day. I’m actually looking forward to getting to school. I can see the area where Alice, Cirno, and Sakuya supposedly fought the vampire, and confirm that nothing happened and it was all a result of my active imagination.

A few minutes pass. I’m actually on time today! I follow the outer wall of the school, and turn the corner to the side where the front gate is. To my horror, however, there were tons of yellow tape up and police teams were investigating an area where it looks like a war had been fought. There were cracks and dents along the wall, the streetlamps were damaged beyond repair, and trees had shown signs of damage. I look to my right and notice a large hole in the wall… the one that I had made!

What the hell? It dawns on me all so fast: It was no dream? All that crazy shit actually happened? I look at the scene a little more. There is dried blood all over the ground; Puddles of Alice and Sakuya’s blood, small splatters of Cirno’s blood, and trails of Remilia’s… or Yumei’s blood. Good luck finding DNA matches for THOSE samples. I’m lucky I didn’t end up bleeding at all, otherwise I’d be hounded with questions which they wouldn’t believe the answers to.

Not surprisingly, school was canceled because of this. Makes sense, as to anyone else, it looks like a brutal murder had taken place here. Well, it looks like not only was my life saved, but also a day of putting up with elitist bitches. Of course, I’m not going to enjoy my day off very much with all I have on my mind.

I return home, preparing for a day of deep thought. As I walk through the door, my mom says, “I know why you’re home early. I heard about it on the news. There was a murder right outside your school.”

Not even my mom would believe me if I told the truth, so I play along, “It seems that way. There was blood everywhere. Pretty gross. Heheheh…”

“They said that no body was found, though. Anyway, that was surprising news. I didn’t think anything like that could happen in a small town like this. The world is becoming a dangerous place.”

“I guess so…”

As I figured, I had spent my entire day off thinking about nothing except all the shit that had transpired last night. What else can I think about? I saw a bunch of stuff that should only happen in Japanese cartoons, and all of it seems to relate to me and a dream I had, which I don’t remember at all! As I think about it, I feel horrible about what I said to Alice and the others about saying that they shouldn’t exist and that I don’t want to see them again. Right now, they are the only ones who can lend an ear to me about this. They fought to save my life and I repaid them by saying horrible things. I constantly look down to my schoolmates as bitches, but I gradually realize that I am one myself, and that makes me feel like shit.

The hours fly by as the events from last night mercilessly invade my mind, even during my delicious dinner. Mom seems to notice something’s bothering me, but I just deny it. Even when I try to think of something else, it’s always back to that fucking vampire! With how much I’m worked up over this, I need to calm down.

I enter my home’s upstairs bathroom, strip naked, and take a warm shower. As it turns out, it helps. I feel a lot more relaxed and I start to think on the positive side of those events. I was confused and scared when the battle was going on, but now, looking back on it as a memory, it was kinda… fun. Seriously! My friends, who I thought of as somewhat normal people, suddenly started using all kinds of strange powers like superheroes with secret identities, and fought against a vampire. Not to mention, I was the one who used that big laser! Me! I felt tired afterward, but it was so cool, and I find out that it really happened! As I think about it, my expression turns into a smile and “… … Hehe… Hmhm… HAHAHA!” I start laughing.

I must have showered for about 45 minutes. Finally, I reluctantly step out of the shower, put on a pair of PJs, and head to bed much earlier than normal. All that one-track thinking has made me tired, and I fall asleep pretty quickly.

I’m surrounded by nothing but blackness. However, my body seems to be emitting its own light, so I have no problem seeing myself. Everything around me is all the same color, but I feel like I’m standing on solid ground.

All around me, a familiar voice says, “Welcome, Marisa!”

In front of me, that red-haired, four-eyed, bunny-eared girl from the previous night appears, “You!”

The girl reintroduces herself, “My name is Yumei. So, we finally meet inside your head.”

“’Inside?’”

“This is a dream, Marisa.”

“What the hell are you doing here?”

“Funny question. I’ve lived here for the past 14 months… since you got out of your coma. Unfortunately, I couldn’t show myself to you in here until you became aware of my existence. Luckily, on full moon nights, I can step out briefly and get some fresh air. Still, it took some time for my powers to grow enough to do that. In the meantime, I feed on your dreams.”

“’Feed on my dreams,’ huh? I hope you choke on that giant scorpion that appeared in a nightmare I had when I was four.”

Instead of reacting in an insulted or angry way, she just laughs, “HAHAHA! Oh shit, that’s hilarious! You remember a dream like that, yet you forgot the single most important dream you’ve ever had.”

“That again?”

Yumei continues, “But that’s not unusual. You forget plenty of good dreams. While I’m here, I’ve learned about every dream you’ve ever had, even the ones you didn’t commit to memory. For example, when you were in the seventh grade, you had a dream where you made out with a freshman girl, who helped you pick up some books you dropped, and you thought she was really cute.”

“…”

“Oh! It gets better, Marisa! Three weeks ago, you dreamt you… well, I won’t be specific, but it was with Alice Margatroid. You need to keep your naughty, naughty imagination under control. Good thing children aren’t here.”

“Fuck you!” In a humiliated rage, I charge at Yumei, attempting to tackle her, but she quickly jumps several feet into the air and over my head. I whirl around to face her again.

Yumei places her hands in her pockets, “Tsk. Tsk. No need to act that way with me. I’m your friend, and friends like to mess around with one another.”

“Bullshit! Why did you try to kill me?”

Yumei’s ears raise slightly, “’Kill you?’”

“You mean you’ve forgotten? When you were a vampire and you tackled me, saying that you would ‘shut me up!’”

Yumei’s eyes widen, “I’m impressed. You have quite a vivid memory. I simply knew your friends would save you. I figured Alice would recover and attack me, but Cirno showed up instead. It went well.”

“I’m not convinced. Why did you attack us at all?”

“So you would remember your other self. The psyche that existed in the mystical world of Gensokyo, which fought countless battles against the youkai that threatened it. I intended to create an image of such a battle that took place there to jog your subconscious memory a little.”

A mirror rises in front of me. I’m wearing my white pajamas, but the reflection looking back at me is wearing a black dress, a white apron, and an oversized black witch hat, not to mention that she looks slightly older, “That’s… me?”

“It is. Marisa Kirisame, your other self. The identity you took on in your dream as the body of Marisa Starr was fast asleep in her coma.” The mirror disappears and Yumei continues to talk, “I understand that you saw some visions, as well as remembering how to use one of your persona’s spells. You’re remembering, Marisa, and that’s exactly what Alice, Cirno and Sakuya wanted too.”

I should still be creeped out by all this, but with all I don’t understand, I can’t help but want some answers, “They were just… things. I don’t vividly remember anything, assuming what you say is true.”

Yumei pushes her glasses up the bridge of her nose, “True. What you need is something to stimulate your memories enough to remember EVERYTHING. You… saw something unusual in your ‘visions,’ haven’t you?”

“What the hell are you talking about? EVERY SINGLE ONE was fucked up!”

“Something out of the ordinary with the visions themselves, not their content. Hm… Might it be THIS by any chance?” Next to Yumei, another figure appears. It’s one of the girls that appeared in the visions, wearing a red dress and detached white sleeves, and black hair. However, her face is still a blur to me, “This is your counterpart. Like you, she dreamt, and together, you created Gensokyo. Perhaps if you find that face, you’ll find the missing piece of the puzzle that is your memory.”

“I just need to find out who that is, and I’ll know?”

“Perhaps.”

My eyes narrow at Yumei, “Why are you doing this? What in it for you?”

Yumei paces around with her arms folded in front of her, “Aren’t you curious as to why your ‘friends’ are so interested in you, that they would follow you to the extent they have? It’s because two… ‘foreign elements’ were left in Gensokyo when you two woke up, are trapped in the subconscious of the other girl’s mind, and they want to retrieve them, and they need to reunite you and that girl to make it happen. Likewise, I am trapped in your subconscious, so freeing them will free me. If you’re sick of me being here, I’d suggest you go along with them.”

“…” That is some weird information, and I don’t know what the hell to make of it.

Yumei stops pacing and shrugs, “But hey, it’s your decision. I just figured you wouldn’t want someone else sharing your mind, and I don’t think you’re not the least bit curious as to why all these things are happening.”

“…”

“Well, sweet dreams, Marisa.” With that, Yumei disappears.

She’s right. I’m curious, I want answers, and I sure as hell don’t want her finding out what I dream about. Despite all that had happened, I make up my mind pretty fast. After school tomorrow, I will speak with Alice and find out what to do, assuming she and Cirno decided not to do what I said about me never wanting to see them again.

==

As the moon shines on one side of the world, the sun shines on the other.

After hours off tossing and turning in her sleep, Reimu Kiribayashi is awakened by the sunlight shining into the room and the sound of wood cutting through the air multiple times, along with a voice counting with each swish, “379… 380… 381… 382…”

She wakes up in a small bed in a small room with two beds. Next to her bed, there is the ordinary desk with a computer and TV nearby, and next to the other, there is hardly anything except kendo equipment and various objects wrapped in cloth. After a few second, she remembers where she is: She had graduated from high school, after having to do a ton of makeup work, due to her coma, and, after an all-too-short summer vacation, she enrolled in a Japanese university and is now living in a dorm. She looks in the direction of the swishing sounds and notices Youmu Konpaku, her former classmate from high school, who enrolled in the same university, and is now her roommate. Little does she know, however, that Youmu was a close friend of hers in a life she has no vivid memories of, where she was the protector of the ghost princess of the Netherworld and a master swordsman.

“Youmu…?” Reimu wakes up to Youmu practicing her kendo, a sport which, needless to say, she is very skilled in. Despite wearing a blue t-shirt and a mid-length brown skirt, both of which were recently washed, she is already working up a sweat.

Youmu smiles unusually cheerily, “Ah, good morning, Reimu! Did you sleep well?” Even though Youmu used to ask her what dreams she had, she had learned to keep asking that question under control.

Reimu says, “I slept okay, I guess. I had a weird dream…”

Youmu raises an eyebrow, “About what?”

“I was in a bamboo forest, and I was attacked by a horned monster with silvery-green hair. It said polite things, but it kept attacking with lasers and stuff. You were there too…”

This description has a familiar ring to Youmu, but she feigns ignorance, “That’s a weird dream! I was also being attacked by the monster?”

“Yeah…”

“Well, it was just a dream! Don’t worry about it!”

“True, but something felt so… real. So familiar. So… nostalgic…”

“You’re just imagining things. Don’t worry about it.”

“Yeah… You’re right…”

“… … … Today is a new day of class. Let’s not be late…” Youmu puts down her wooden sword, puts on a green hooded sweater, and picks up a blue gym bag, which she never once parted with.

“Right.”

Youmu runs for the door, “I’ll go on ahead and leave you to get changed! See you later!” Youmu leaves the room.

Reimu changes out of her night clothes and into a casual white t-shirt and blue slacks. She grabs a piece of bread from a nearby refrigerator, which she and Youmu share, spreads butter over its surface, and rushes out of the room, eating it, a meager breakfast, as she woke up very late.

She rushes across campus, an action that makes her stand out, as everyone else has either finished a class or is on time.

Finally, after climbing three floors of stairs in the campus’ largest building, she reaches her class: psychology, taught by Professor Yagokoro, who the previous year, taught at Reimu’s high school. Reimu can’t help but wonder if it’s a startling coincidence or she’s stalking her for some reason. However, Reimu once knew her as much more than a teacher, as she is a being from the moon, a Lunarian, Eirin Yagokoro, who escaped to Gensokyo. At that time, she was the best friend of the moon’s exiled princess, Kaguya Horaisan, and was known for having a genius IQ and skilled in making potions. Kaguya, and her rival, Mokou, were trapped in Gensokyo when it vanished.

Reimu rushes into the classroom, where all the other students had already arrived, “Sorry I’m late!”

Eirin, wearing an official-looking white suit and a pair of eyeglasses, says, “Thank you for coming today, Reimu. Don’t worry, you haven’t missed much.”

Reimu sits at her assigned desk.

Eirin begins the day’s lecture, “The human mind is known for being the mechanism which governs everything that defines us: Actions, emotions, opinions, beliefs, feelings… You would believe that mankind has figured out every aspect of it… but to this day, it is still a mysterious thing. When we sleep, we live lives very different from our realities; Temporary existences that are manifestations of our endless imaginations. Class, today we are going to talk about dreams…”

Reimu lays her head on her desk, noticing the strange theme of her day so far, or even her life since awakening from her coma.

“Everything that we’ve ever felt and experienced determine the lives we live during our times of slumber…”

A couple hours pass. Finally, class ends and Reimu and the other students leave the classroom. Soon after, a female security guard, with red eyes and long lavender hair, wearing a blue uniform, with a handgun holstered at her hip and a hat which fits her awkwardly, enters the room.

“Hello, Reisen,” greets Eirin, “What brings you here?”

Reisen takes her hat off, revealing her ears, which were coiled underneath. They stretch and straighten out, “I have some news, Eirin-sama.”

“What is it?”

“I got word from Sakuya that a battle against some mysterious entity caused Marisa to regain some of her memories.”

“Really?”

“Really! I was told that she got her hands on a spellcard and ended up using one of her spells.”

“Interesting. Any word from Youmu about Reimu?”

Reisen pauses for a few seconds, “Yes, about her… Well, it seems Reimu actually remembers things from Gensokyo, but she is just having trouble comprehending it. She shares a bunch of dreams with Youmu, which were familiar experiences from back then.”

“I see. Perhaps that time has come? It’s much earlier than we planned, but the stage appears to have set itself…”


The day passes quickly. That evening, Reimu and Youmu eat dinner at a ramen stand not far from the university. They sit shoulder to shoulder at the counter, but while Youmu quickly eats her food, Reimu is deep in thought and only occasionally touches her dinner. Youmu soon notices Reimu’s behavior, “What’s wrong?”

“It’s just… the dreams. I’ve been having them more and more lately. I’m remembering too many and a lot of them have the same things… it’s making me uneasy…”

“They’re just dreams,” says Youmu.

“…”

“What same things keep appearing?”

“I told you about this before. Every once in awhile, two girls appear.”

Youmu tries to let out a friendly chuckle, “… Heh… They keep appearing, huh?”

“Yes. They try to talk to me, but… their words get broken up. I can’t understand them. From their expressions, it appears to be something important.”

Youmu raises an eyebrow in interest, but continues the same line of assurance, “You’re only imagining it...” Dammit! How much longer can I keep up this charade? I can’t just keep lying to her…

“I guess… and there is something else…”

“What?”

"I dream of battle and I dream of peaceful times, but a lot of them have me alongside the same people: you, Youmu, or someone that LOOKS like you, a silver-haired girl dressed as a maid, a blonde girl in blue, and…”

“Hm?”

“Another blonde girl in black, but there is something different about her. Her face… it’s a blur…”

“I… see…”

Reisen, dressed as a security guard, enters the stand and speaks to Youmu, “Excuse me, Miss Youmu Konpaku. I need to speak with you.”

Reimu looks at Youmu with mock-suspicion, “What did you do~?”

“Beat me. I’ll be right back.”

Youmu and Reisen leave the stand and head behind it, speaking softly so no one nearby can hear them.

“So, what is it, Reisen?”

“We are going to tell Reimu the truth.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Eirin-sama and I will be waiting for the two of you in your room after class tomorrow.”

“Okay, although it only seems like it will be a matter of time when she recalls everything on her own.”

Reisen shrugs, “Well, whatever comes first. We’ll be waiting.”

==

The next day, I head to school. Of course, Alice and Cirno aren’t waiting by the gate for me. They won’t be here. Not with the injuries they got fighting Remilia. I’ll have to pay a visit after school, as I planned. I just want to get through classes today, so I can get my answers later, so I end up arriving on time again. When I get to class, however, I’m surprised to notice that Alice and Cirno actually DID come. However, they are seated in the middle of the class. They glance my way. Alice simply turns her head back to the front of the room in a ‘Hmph!’ fashion. Cirno gives me a dirty look, and then does the same. It figures. They’re pissed off, not that I blame them after what I said. I sit in my usual seat in the back of the class, the adjacent girls looking at me like I’d diseased. The girls of this school, being the preppy bitches they are, may constantly look down on me as some kind of lowborn, but a couple nights ago, I treated Alice, Cirno, and Sakuya the same for being figments of my imagination. It dawns on me all too clearly: I’m a hypocrite.

The classes go by with me lost in my own thoughts and self-inflicted despair. Finally, lunch arrives. Alice and Cirno are sitting at the usual cafeteria table. Well, here goes nothing. I won’t get very friendly reception, but I will set things right!

I walk over to the table, “Um… Hey, how’s it going?”

“…” They’re pretending to ignore me, I just know it.

“Is it alright if I sit here?”

“…”

“I’ll take that as a ‘yes’,” I sit down next to Alice. After several seconds of silence between us, Alice finally speaks up, “What do you want, Marisa? You said that you don’t want to see us again.”

“And that we shouldn’t exist,” adds Cirno.

“I know I said those things and I’m sorry.”

“…” My apology isn’t getting through.

“Look, I was just frightened at the time. I was attacked and thought I was going to die and I was scared of what you did and what you said. I honestly didn’t mean what I said, and if I could relive that event, I’d have handled it differently. Please forgive me.”

Alice and Cirno pause for a long time. Finally, both of them start laughing.

“What’s so funny?” I ask.

“Haha! Nothing,” says Alice, “It’s just that we’re not used to you making that kind of apology. Putting it that way… from YOU, then I guess I’d HAVE to forgive you…” The laughter stops after a few seconds. Alice rises from her seat, “However, I just want to so one thing to call it even…”

“What’s that?”

SLAP! Alice strikes me across the face fast and hard. I didn’t even see it coming, so I didn’t brace myself. She hit me so hard, I fall out of my seat and onto the floor.”

No teachers were around to witness this, much to Alice’s luck, but it made enough of a scene with the other students, that they were all stunned into silence… followed by a thunderous cheer. Dammit! This is probably karmic backlash from the horrible things I said, but I still can’t help but privately tell all those girls that they can go straight to Hell.

“Now we’re even,” says Alice, gripping her hand. I guess she hurt herself as much as she hurt me.

I get up off the floor, rubbing my cheek, “I deserved that…”

One of the girls walks over to our table and says to Alice, “You know, Alice, I thought you were just a lowly student here, but seeing as you went and hit that piece of human trash, I want you to join our clique.”

“SHUT UP AND GO AWAY!” yell me, Alice, and Cirno at the same time.

The girl flinches and walks away, “Whatever. My bad for thinking you were cool.” With us acting together like that, I guess we’re friends again.

With everything settled, I ask the first question on my mind, “What are the two of you doing here? I thought the wounds you got from that battle would have kept you from coming.”

“About that,” says Cirno, “Under our clothes, we look like mummies.”

Alice leans over the table, “We had to force ourselves to come. It would look suspicious if we weren’t here after the scene we created. Anyway, tending to our wounds is not something we’re used to.”

“How is that?”

“Gensokyo had this kind of… magic in the air. All its inhabitants benefited from it in various ways: We could fly, our wounds, provided they’re non-fatal, would completely heal in a matter of hours, and we could infuse specially marked paper with that magic, thus creating spellcards.”

“Spellcards?”

“During that battle, you used one to fire that large beam. All intelligent beings possess a great power, but using it puts a great strain on the body. Spellcards are a crutch we must rely on to draw that power out. They give us extra energy and regulate our flow of power so we can more easily use the power in the way we desire. Of course, we still use our stamina, so using them too much is not a good thing…”

“Is that why I felt a little woozy after using it?”

“Yes. As you are now, Marisa, the energy you possess is strong, but limited. Your alter ego, Marisa Kirisame, however, could use that attack repeatedly with ease.”

Cirno shares a piece of her limited knowledge, “This world doesn’t have that magic, so nobody without wings can fly, our wounds heal very slowly, and we can only use the spellcards we had when Gensokyo disappeared. We can’t make new ones…”

“Spellcards we attempt to create here are just scraps of paper,” adds Alice.

“It sounds like an amazing place,” I say.

“To you, I’m sure it does,” says Alice, with a smile.

“I mean, seriously! I could do crazy shit like I did a couple nights ago; I wouldn’t be hurt for long, and I could fly.”

“Not without a broomstick,” says Alice, “You sacrificed your ability to fly on your own for more magical power.”

“Whatever… Oh yeah, I met that ‘Yumei’ chick in my sleep last night.”

“Really?” says Cirno.

“Did you find anything out about her?” asks Alice, “Sakuya was attacked by her on the full moon night before the one where we were attacked. She’s quite enigmatic.”

I recount what I was told, “Well, she said she simply picked a fight with you guys to create an image of my Gensokyo memories, whatever they may be. It apparently worked. She can only come out on full moons; she says that she is trapped inside my subconscious and wants me to help with freeing two ‘foreign elements’ from my counterpart, a brunette whose face I can’t see, because doing that would free her from my mind too…”

“Interesting,” says Alice, “I can only assume that the ‘brunette’ she mentioned is Reimu…”

“Whatever her name is, Yumei said that I need to see her face, and I’ll SOMEHOW remember everything about Gensokyo clearly as crystal.”

“I see…”

I say solemnly, “Alice, I want to resolve this. What are those ‘foreign elements?’”

Cirno answers instead, “Two friends of ours, who were still in Gensokyo when it disappeared. We heard that they are living in Reimu’s head. One of our friends says that if we get you and Reimu together, we can rescue them.”

“… And get Yumei out of my head too.”

“We don’t know much about Yumei, so we’ll take your word for it. To be honest, I don’t know where she came from, but she may be a part of the answer we’re looking for…”

“Hm?”

“Gensokyo was more than a dream of you and Reimu. While it lasted, it was an entire dimension. Sakuya, a few of our other friends, and the two in Reimu’s head, were not natively born of Gensokyo. They came from the outside. We don’t know how, but Yumei might know something as to how that is.”

I lean back, “At any rate, I’m interested, and I have to admit, this is kinda fun. I will help you out. I take it I need to meet this Reimu chick, right?”

“Yes,” answers Alice, “She lives in Japan.”

I nearly fall out of my seat from leaning back too much, “JAPAN? How the hell are we gonna get there? I don’t have enough money to afford a trip like that!”

Alice smiles, “Don’t worry, Marisa. We have someone who can get us from one side of this world to the other in a heartbeat.”



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