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Part Two: The Harbinger

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Behind Mima, the Hakurei Shrine, the home of my best friend, who had fought to save Gensokyo on numerous occasions, burns down, as to symbolize that all will be ruination. The girl who was once a savior appears to have become a destroyer for reasons that are still beyond my understanding. As the shrine casts a large flame, other disasters occur all around. Besides the flashes, the dark sky, casting a depressing shadow over the once happy and beautiful land, the acute decrease in temperature, and all, but a few vanishing, all the plants start to whither too. Having seen at one point first-hand where the souls of the dead go and what happens, I thought the idea of death wasn’t so bad for awhile, but for everything to end like this reconfirms the fear. However, I try to maintain a strong front in front of Mima, so I can get some answers and possibly find Reimu and end this disaster, “What do you mean ‘thought?’”

Mima says flatly, “That’s a way of describing what Gensokyo is. Something temporary. Something that ends. Something that disappears. This is the thought’s end.”

Sakuya asks, “Why did Remilia-sama and the others disappear?”

Mima answers, “As befits this ‘thought,’ there are ‘figments’ of imagination. That’s all the residents of Gensokyo are: figments. They never truly existed and they faded into the inexistence that they are.” Just a couple minutes ago, Reimu referred to Suika as a ‘figment.’ Now Mima is doing the same. Just what does it mean?

Sakuya yells, “That’s not true! Remilia-sama… Flandre… Meiling… Patchouli… They were real living people!”

Mima chuckles, “To you, it sure seemed that way, didn’t it. But they were actually figments of the fleeting imagination. Pure fiction.”

Sakuya persists with her position in the argument, “No! My mistress was real! When I was confused and depressed, approaching a dead-end in life, Remilia-sama gave me a new purpose! She changed my life! What she taught me, what she gave me, how I felt! It was real! Remilia-sama was a real person!”

Mima pauses, then throws her head back, laughing, “HAHAHAHAHA!”

“Gr…” Sakuya’s eyes narrow. I have a feeling this is not going to go over well, but I understand why Sakuya is so pissed. I find it hard to accept that my friends, like Alice and Cirno didn’t really exist. I spoke to them, I laughed with them, I cried with them, they gave me encouragement when I felt down, and in return, I cheered them up. Cirno trying so hard to become a powerful youkai and Alice trying so hard to teach Cirno! It was real! I can’t accept what Mima is telling us! Sure enough, I silently share Sakuya’s feelings.

Mima says, as if she had just heard the funniest one-liner ever, “Oh, this is TOO good! ‘Remilia-sama taught me!’ ‘Remilia-sama gave me a purpose!’ Sorry, maid, but ‘Remilia-sama’ was nothing but a character. You might as well mourn a cartoon!”

“Damn you!” snarls Sakuya, as she tosses a couple knives at Mima.

“Vengeance from inexistence. How absurd.” Mima swings her arm, causing an invisible force to deflect the knives.

I could debate all day, but I doubt Mima will change her position. Instead, I ask, “Just what the hell are you, Mima? What are you doing here at this time?”

Mima smiles, “Finally, an intelligent statement. I’m here… only for THIS…” Mima extends her hand toward me and fires a thin laser.

“Marisa!” At the last second, Sakuya shoves me out of the way, though the laser still manages to graze my cheek. There is a slight burning pain and blood trickles down, but no major damage was inflicted.

I glare at Mima, “What… the… fuck?”

Mima says, “THAT’S why I’m here: to take your lives.”

“Why?” asks Sakuya.

Mima spreads her arms, “Look around you! This thought is ending! It’s horrible! Eventually, all that will remain is a black void. Everyone left over will be damned to float in that hellish solitude… and even then, there is no relief. The void has no boundaries. It is nothing but inexistence. Even after death, the souls can’t leave the void. All that remains is the despair… the impending insanity that will be heard by no one. My mission is one of mercy: to ensure that those who can’t vanish, like the two of you, will depart this realm, to the afterlife, before the thought completely ends. Once my mission is finished, I too will find my eternal rest. Now hold still and let me kill you. Do you want to be lost for eternity, even after your death?”

Sakuya says, “It’s fairly irrelevant to me…” One thing I forgot to mention: Sakuya is immortal. Yup, a long time ago, she drank an elixir that gave her eternal life, or so I was told, according to what she was told. She will stay young forever, and if she dies, she will shortly return to life. However, she drank another potion that would erase her memories if she died again. She would return to life, of course, but she’d be nothing more than a vegetable… for eternity. That sounds like a fate worse than death, although it seems to beat what Mima said. At least Sakuya wouldn’t be consciously aware of it “… However, do you know why Marisa and I didn’t disappear like everyone else?”

Mima says, “You don’t need to know. Now just surrender your lives. Time is running out, and I have a steep workload ahead of me!”

I say, “Normally, I’d accept your offer, Mima, but I feel like all this can be reversed. All I need to do is find Reimu and get shit straightened out.”

“I won’t accept that,” says Mima, “I have a duty I’ve been entrusted with by Princess Yuyuko Saigyouji of the Netherworld. I’ve waited patiently, and the time has arrived. I will complete my mission and go home!”

“Yuyuko?” Yes, I know her. She’s a ghost princess that rules over the gardens of the Netherworld, Hakugyokurou. She has power over death… and she’s had that, even in life… at which point, she went by the name, Yuko Saigyou. According to her best friend, Yukari Yakumo, people feared and rejected her because of that. Eventually, there was a youkai tree called the Saigyou Ayakashi, which sucked the life from Gensokyo. Yuko sacrificed her soul to seal the tree, and moved on to the Netherworld, as a spirit without a soul, thus she wasn’t subject to being sent to Heaven, Hell, or reincarnation. As a result, she became an eternal resident of the Netherworld and she was given her position by the Yama, Sikieiki Yamaxanadu. Yukari once gathered spring essence, which makes seasons possible in Gensokyo (without it, there is only winter), in order to unseal the Saigyou Ayakashi, (which she moved to Hakugyokurou) and become reunited with her friend, Yuko, trapping humans who rejected her in an eternal winter at the same time. Luckily, I, Reimu, Sakuya, with a little help from Yuyuko and her gardener-slash-protector, Youmu Konpaku, fought back, but it was Yuko’s soul which convinced Yukari of the folly of her ways.

Sakuya says, “With people like me, your efforts will be in vain. Even so, I’d have no intention of dying when I can set things right.”

Mima’s eyes narrow, “I will kill you whether you like it or not. It’s largely a matter of the time it takes and the pain you’ll feel. En garde!” Mima points her staff at me and fires a blast of magic, which I duck under while running toward her. I attempt to hit her, using my broomstick as a staff, but she blocks with her own staff.

Sakuya backs me up by tossing a couple knives at the ghost, but she repels me and deflects them with her staff. Mima draws a spell card, “Magic Sign!” Rainbow-colored energy flows into her staff, “Twinkle Star Wave!” She points the staff at us and a flurry of star-shaped magic blasts (like the ones I used against Koakuma) flies toward us.

Sakuya jumps back, as do I, as she readies a spell card of her own, “Blade Sign!” Several knives materialize around Sakuya and fly toward the blasts, cutting through and dispelling them. Sakuya directs her arm in Mima’s direction, “Beginning of Trembling!” The knives left over suddenly home in on the surprised Mima. They cut through her, her wounds producing silver smoke. She loses her focus and the remaining blasts vanish.

I draw a spell card to take advantage of Mima’s weakening, “Magicannon!” Rainbow-colored energy flows into me. The surge is exhilarating! “Final Spark!” I fire a massive beam of magic, of various colors, at Mima, larger than the Master Spark. Final Spark is my second strongest ‘spark’ spell, surpassed only by Magicannon: Final Master Spark.

However, Mima recovers faster than I expected, and draws another spell card, “Magic’s Might!” A ton of golden energy flows into her staff, “Twilight Spark!” Huh? Before I can comprehend, she points her staff at my beam and fires a magical beam of magic of her own, as big as, or maybe even larger, as mine.

Our two ‘sparks’ clash. Even though I got the initiative, Mima’s attack is holding out quite well. We both pour some extra energy into our attacks. Sakuya tries to provide me with backup and tosses a knife at Mima, but the force of our spells release energy, which knocks it away.

Our power struggle lasts for about a minute, but my stamina starts to reach its limit and Mima overpowers me. I’m knocked back, feeling like I was hit by a flying boulder, and fly back so far, I land on the middle of the staircase.

I slowly rise back to my feet, feeling like shit. Up above, I hear Sakuya picking up where I was beaten. I slowly run up the stairs and reach the top. Sakuya and Mima are about even, but Mima is breathing faster. I guess her struggle with me took a lot out of her too.

Mima draws a spell card, pauses to catch her breath, and then declares, “Flash Sign!” She’s using a spell card in her condition? She’s got to be getting there… Several magic circles appear above, pointing downward. Magic circles are like portals: they are two-dimensional and they are like a gateway for things to go through. They are white circles with a star-shape in the middle. Almost everyone in Gensokyo can use them. Everyone has a personal ‘subspace’ in which energy (like the case with me) or objects (in Sakuya’s case, for example) are stored, and they are released through the magic circles. “Earth Light Nova!” The magic circles fire a number of large lasers downward at Sakuya, who dives forward, though the force of them hitting the ground seemed to have knocked her a bit. Another magic circle forms while Sakuya is on her belly after dodging the first attack and fires its laser, scoring a direct hit.

However, Sakuya manages to endure the blast and draws a spell card while she is on her hands and knees, “Illusion Existence!” Several magic circles materialize around Sakuya, “Clock Corpse!” The circles fire out knives, which home in on Mima. However, she sidesteps the knives without breaking her focus. Several more magic circles appear above Sakuya.

Mima yells, “This is_ Huh?”

A voice from out of nowhere declares, “Immortal: Fire Bird –Flying Phoenix-!” Suddenly, a flame in the shape of a bird swoops down and tears through Mima, breaking her focus, causing her magic circles to vanish. Sakuya and I turn around to see our sudden ally hovering in the air, a girl with aqua hair, extending down to the back of her knees, and red eyes (though not as bright as Remilia and Flandre’s), wearing a brown shirt and red overalls. She’s Fujiwara no Mokou. Like Sakuya, she drank the immortality elixir, so she is also immortal, though she won’t lose her memory if she dies. She also has the ability to control fire. Mokou lives in a bamboo forest, close to a village populated by humans. She has a fairly antisocial lifestyle. She once tried to erase the moon to prevent an alien invasion, but me and my friends defeated her. We’ve been… neutral since then. It seems like she hadn’t disappeared, nor is she in the process of vanishing, so I guess she’s like me and Sakuya.

“Mokou!” Sakuya yells out, relieved.

Mokou shrugs and says, “I don’t know what the hell’s going on around here all the sudden. Keine, Akyu, and all the human villagers disappear mysteriously. Gensokyo becomes weird in general. I go to ask Reimu what’s going on, only to see her shrine burning down and the two of you fighting some weirdo. What an unusual day. Oh well, at least I did my good deed.”

Mima, who has probably reached her limit, rises into the air, “Ugh… Looks like I can’t do much more. Very well, I shall leave you to whatever business you are trying to conduct, but remember that you brought this on yourselves, and for what? Beings that don’t exist. Don’t regret this later!” With that, Mima flies into the distance.

Sakuya says to Mokou, “Thank you. She would have had me if you didn’t show up when you did…”

Mokou folds her arms in front of her as she descends to ground level, “If you guys really want to thank me, you’ll tell me just what the hell is going on around here. What is this, the apocalypse or something?”

“…” Sakuya and I silently nod.

Mokou puts her hand over her mouth as she gasps in surprise, “Oh my god!”

I explain to Mokou what we’ve learned. About the occurrences around Gensokyo, about Reimu, and about what Mima said about Gensokyo being a ‘thought’ and everyone being ‘figments.’

Before Mokou can respond, however, another voice comes from the general direction of the stairs, “So it really is the end of Gensokyo, huh? Funny, I always thought I would be the cause of it. Not that damned miko…” The owner of the voice comes into sight: a girl with short green hair, wearing a red dress and white blouse. She’s Yuka Kazami, a mad youkai that can control flowers. She once covered Gensokyo with poisonous flowers. She calls herself Gensokyo’s strongest youkai. While I don’t know if she’s really the most powerful, she’s definitely up there. She’s half-faded.

I say solemnly, “Yuka… It seems not even you could resist what’s happening to everyone…”

Yuka looks at the ground, depressed, an emotion I didn’t even think she was capable of, “So I don’t really exist, huh? Right now, my whole definition of ‘existing’ has gone straight to hell. Everything that I’ve done and worked for… in the end, I’m regulated to the status of inexistence. What a way to live… and end…”

Even though Yuka’s an enemy to me, and even Gensokyo at times, I can’t help but feel a little bad for her right now. I take a few seconds to find the right words, “Yuka, no matter what you are, you are real to me. I refuse to acknowledge you as anything less than that.”

Yuka blushes slightly, “I… I don’t want or need your pity, witch. After all… I… I am… the strongest…” She tries to act tough, but she’s scared, just like everyone else. I wonder what happens to the consciousness of those that vanished. I find it hard to imagine they just disappear like they never existed in the first place. Yuka vanishes… there goes another one…

There are several minutes of silence between myself, Sakuya, and Mokou. Mokou asks, “So what are we gonna do? How are we going to get Gensokyo out of THIS situation?” She points at the area at the bottom of the hill we are standing on. Dead plants and ruined buildings as far as the eye can see. Yeah, I can understand why she’s so skeptical.

I answer, “Well… Yukari said she would meet with us. I guess that’s the first thing to do. The thing is, Reimu just disappeared. I don’t know where the hell she went, but wherever she is, we gotta get there. Hopefully Yukari knows, because I don’t know shit right now…”

“Huh? You haven’t disappeared either?” Three more people approach.

One of them has very long black hair and wears a pink shirt with many white bows down the front and a dark red skirt. She’s Kaguya Houraisan. Believe it or not, she used to be a princess from the moon, but she was exiled to our world, where she eventually found her way to Gensokyo. She drank the same elixir that Sakuya and Mokou drank, thus she’s immortal as well. She has power over eternity and has a past history with Mokou, which had caused the two of them to become bitter rivals. They patched up some of their differences, but they keep on fighting. I guess it’s just their nature…

The second person has long silver hair tied into a large braid in the back and wears a dress which is half red and half blue, split down through the middle, and wears a blue cap. She’s Eirin Yagokoro, one of Kaguya’s servants, and she also came from the moon. She has a genius IQ and can make any kind of potion… including the immortality elixir. In fact, she was its original creator, so naturally, she’s immortal as well.

Lastly, there is a girl with long lavender hair and red eyes, wearing a black business suit over a white shirt and red tie, and a pink skirt. More noticeably, though, are the two rabbit-like ears extending from her head. Her name is Reisen Udongein Inaba. Like Kaguya and Eirin, she’s also from the moon and came to Gensokyo looking for them. She’s a moon rabbit, a type of youkai from the moon, of course. She can inflict mental stress on someone, just by looking into their eyes and create illusions through a similar nature.

Being from the moon, Kaguya, Eirin, and Reisen are called Lunarians… and one more fun fact about Sakuya: so is she, although she didn’t find that out until recently. They are hiding in Gensokyo, in the bamboo forest, in a castle they built, called Eientei, in order to escape from their fellow moon people. They don’t want to return to the moon, which is apparently locked in an unending war with one of Gensokyo’s parallel realms. We learned that the Lunarians are planning on invading Gensokyo as well, so we’ve been trying to prepare for them, although under these current circumstances, that’s the least of our problems. Kaguya tried to delay their arrival by replacing the moon with one that will never become full, since Lunarians can only plane-walk when it’s full, which also emitted a light, causing almost everyone to obey her wishes, all as a means to prepare for war. Me, Reimu, Sakuya, and Youmu managed to stop her though, and since then, we’ve decided to prepare without disrupting Gensokyo’s way of life.

Mokou looks at Kaguya, “It seems that whole disappearing thing didn’t erase you, princess. Joy.”

Kaguya smiles slightly, “I should say the same to you, Fujiwara no Mokou.”

I ask, “What brings the three of you here?”

“I think it’s rather obvious,” states Reisen, “Gensokyo is falling apart, the bamboo forest is withering, Tewi and all the other earth rabbits have just…” Reisen snaps her fingers, “… vanished into thin air, and finally, there were some violent earthquakes, which reduced Eientei to a pile of broken wood. We were wondering if Reimu knew anything about what’s going on, hoping she didn’t disappear either…”

“Welcome to the apocalypse!” says Mokou sarcastically.

Eirin’s eyes widen, “The apocalypse? It’s the end of Gensokyo?”

“Apparently,” answers Mokou, nodding her head slowly.

“How could this happen?” asks Kaguya.

Mokou explains the situation in a nutshell, “Well, we were told that Gensokyo is a ‘thought’ and everyone is not real, so they disappeared. Apparently, Reimu is in the middle of all this and she acted weird, or so I was told. Everyone left over, namely us, are doomed to be a part of this crumbling world and float for eternity in a black void. To prevent that, some weirdo came and tried to kill us, but we sent her packing, so here we are now, the six of us standing in a disappearing world. This dream world has officially become a nightmare, people.”

Kaguya looks at me and Sakuya, “Is this true.”

I nod and answer, “Yeah. It’s the end of the world. I think we might have a chance of undoing this if we can find where Reimu went. Unfortunately, I don’t have a clue right now. Yukari might, though, so we should wait for her, after she’s done doing her investigating.”

We wait. I look out at the land from the hill. Under the dark shadow, everything is brown. Nothing but a wasteland. I look in the direction of the bamboo forest, where Eientei was barely visible on the horizon, but of course, it’s gone, just like Reisen said. Looking in another direction, a number of distant mountains had crumbed, including the Mountain of Faith, formerly known as Youkai Mountain, which had a massive shrine built into it. The world which held so many memories is facing complete destruction. Yukari, where are you…? Suddenly, I notice something else at the foot of the hill: the ground is starting to cave into itself, forming a dark hole, which rapidly spreads. A frigid wind blows through, which hits me like several needles.

“AHHH!” The patch of ground Kaguya is standing on suddenly caves in. She manages to grab the ledge, however.

“Kaguya!” all of us yell.

Sakuya asks, “Can you fly back up?”

“I can’t!” yells Kaguya in a strained voice, “It’s sucking me i_ Ah!” The ledge Kaguya was holding onto crumbles and the princess starts to get sucked into the void. Before any of us can react, however, Kaguya’s arm is grabbed by the most unlikely savior: Mokou.

Kaguya’s eyes widen, “Mokou! Why…?”

Mokou answers, “If anything’s gonna do you in, princess, it will be me, not the freaking apocalypse! It doesn’t end here!” Mokou pulls Kaguya out of the hole.

I realize the hazardousness of the situation has now reached a whole new level. Is this what Yukari meant by ‘Gensokyo becoming a dangerous place?’ I recall that ball-thing she gave me. It definitely looks like we’ll need a ‘safe place’ now, especially that Gensokyo is crumbling in many different places. I pull it out of my pocket and tell everyone, “Yukari gave me this. It will take us to a ‘safe place.’ However, there’s six of us and she said the portal will be open for five seconds, so we’d better be fast!”

Sakuya, Mokou, Kaguya, Eirin, and Reisen come closer to me as I drop the ball. As expected, a portal, blue in color, just wide enough for a person to fit through, opens. Wasting no time, I drop in first, followed by Kaguya, then Mokou, then Sakuya, then Eirin, and finally Reisen, as I imagine it closes. We all made it through and that’s what important.

I look around where we are now: We’re in the middle of a field, which is covered in snow. There are several icy mountains in the distance. In spite of this, however, the temperature is about 50 degrees. Pretty pleasant. Up above, it is nighttime, with the sky completely clear with a crescent moon and enough stars visible to see the various constellations.

“What is this place?” asks Kaguya.

Eirin adds, “It seems so cold, yet it’s so nice. Beautiful, even…”

Mokou says, “Well, the important thing is that it’s not a mess like Gensokyo… and that’s IF there’s anything left of it...”

I mention, “Yukari said she’d meet us here… but I wonder what ‘here’ is…”

“Marisa?” Behind me, I hear a familiar voice saying my name. I turn around and see two familiar faces in this unknown land.

The first one has semi-long blonde hair, managed with a red headband and blue eyes, wearing a blue dress with white highlights. She is accompanied by a doll with yellow hair, wearing a blue dress. She’s Alice Margatroid, she was the only other resident in the area of Gensokyo I called home: the Forest of Magic. She is a magician like me, but also a youkai. She has the ability to control dolls, like the one with her, Shanghai. She’s intelligent and had taken five other youkai under her wing as students. We used to be rivals, but we’ve gotten to be very close friends.

With Alice is a much shorter girl with short light-blue hair with a blue ribbon, wearing a blue dress. She has two light-blue wings extending out of her back. She’s Cirno, one of those five students of Alice I mentioned, the first one, in fact. She’s not very bright, but she has potential to be elite among youkai, which is Alice’s goal with this girl. Ironically, Alice considers Cirno her star pupil. However, lately, she has shown improvement and even some surprising smarts.

Surprised, I say, “Alice? Is that really you? How did you get here? What is this place?”

Alice answers, “I’ve had some past connection with this particular realm, and I’ve managed to escape here with Cirno when it was clear that Gensokyo won’t survive, not to mention that we were starting to fade. This is Makai, the demon world.”

Cirno smiles cheerfully and says, “Isn’t it pretty? I like it here!”

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