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Chapter 2 - The way to the Forest of Magic
- So... do you know something about the position of the staff? - asked Exa.
- Eh... not really. - answered Chrono.
- Then where should we start the search?
- Maybe we can ask someone at the shrine.
- Do you know they can help us?
- Well, it's worth a try.
- That's true. Let's go!
The shrine was in fact the Hakurei Shrine, where Reimu Hakurei lives. Reimu is well-known by residents of Gensokyo, but Exa and Chrono don't live in Gensokyo... Anyway, when they nearly reached the shrine, they saw the miko.
- Excuse me, can I ask you a question? - said Exa.
- It depends on what you want to ask. Anyway, who are you? - answered Reimu.
- I'm Exa Thundercloud, a Lighting Mage.
- And I'm Chrono Megumi, a ...mercenary.
- Why don't you say that you're a ninja? - whispered Exa to Chrono.
- She doesn't need to know everything about us.
- You don't trust her?
- That's not the case...
- That's enough! Stop the whispering about! - shouted Reimu.
- Oh, we're sorry.
- Anyway, I haven't introduced myself yet: I'm Reimu Hakurei, the miko of this shrine.
- You mean the only miko of this shrine? - asked Chrono.
- Yes, I mean that. But what do you want to know, anyway?
- We search for a staff called Dispear. Do you know anything about it?
- Dispear? I have never heard about it. But I can give you some advice: in the Forest of Magic, lives a magician called Marisa Kirisame. She is a collectomaniac, maybe she has something like what you need.
- Okay, one more question: where is the Forest of Magic? - said Exa.
- You don't know that?
- No, we don't know that.
- Ok, go north and take a path through the Snow Covered Forest, after that you'll reach Mayohiga.
- Yes, it's a village, but be careful!
- Because you might be attacked!
- Don't worry, we are experienced, right? - told Exa to Chrono.
- Yes, we don't have any problems with ambushes!
- Ok, after that you'll reach the Forest of Magic but don't say later that I didn't warn you...
- Thank you for your help! Goodbye!
I don't know what this Dispear thing could be, but it must be something very important - thought Reimu.
Exa and Chrono started to go through the Snow Covered Forest. It is a beautiful, but very cold place.
- 'That would be good if Dracon was here' - that was in Exa's mind.
Chrono had lesser problems with the cold, because as a ninja, he went through a hard physical training, which involved getting some resistance against the nature's elements.
After a while, a group of fairies appeared.
- Stop right there! - said the fairies.
- W..w..why? - answered Exa, still suffering from the cold.
- Don't shoot us anymore!
- Shoot? - asked Chrono.
- Yes, like that red-white miko and her magician friend!
- B..but we're n..not them!
- Yes, we don't want to shoot any of you all! We just want to go through this forest. - Chrono seemed determined.
- Prove this!
- See, we're not the ones who shoot others just for fun. If we would want to shoot you, we already started that, right?
- ...maybe you're right. You may pass, but if any of you attacks us, then...
- All right! All right! - answered Exa and Chrono.
After they left the forest, Exa felt better.
- 'That cold almost killed me' - he thought.
They reached Mayohiga. It doesn't look very different from any other village, but they're prepared for an attack.
Exa chanted a small meditation which makes casting lighting spells easier, and Chrono prepared his kunais (throwing needles).
They went a bit, when suddenly...
... a human-like creature appeared, but she had cat's ears and tail. Her name was Chen, the shikigami of Ran Yakumo, a nekomata who is skilled in black magic arts.
- What do you want? - she asked.
- We just want to go through the village and go to the Forest of Magic. - answered Chrono,
- ... but before that, you want to get some good fortune items, right?
- Good fortune items? - Exa was surprised.
- Don't try to fool me, you're just like Reimu!
- You mean that miko? She didn't seem to do something like that...
- You can't judge someone just by outside. Now get lost! - and after that, Chen started to shoot magical attacks against Exa and Chrono.
They are not one, not several, but many attacks.
- 'So, that's danmaku' - thought Exa.
- Taste my lighting, you cat-human! - he shouted, and shoots a Lighting Bolt to Chen, but the nekomata easily avoided the attack.
Chrono's kunais were ineffective, too.
But the black magic shots go closer and closer to the heroes.
Exa casted a Lighting Shield to protect himself, and Chrono avoided the shots. Then something popped into Exa's mind!
- Chrono, I'll charge your thrown kunais with electricity! - he said.
- Ok, do this! - answered Chrono. The combined strike of Electric Charge and Multiple Throw worked, as they managed to hit Chen.
- But this is not the end of the battle! - she said.
And she casted a spell which shot bullets as if they come from an egg. It was Wizard Sign "Phoenix Egg".
The immense number of attacks surprised Exa and Chrono. There are much more bullets than before. How should they avoid them?
- 'It's sure that a frontal attack would be a big mistake' - thought Exa.
- Maybe, if we can divide her attention, then we could be more effective.
- Chrono, attack her from the back, I'll divert her! - told Exa to Chrono.
Exa starts casting Sparks - it's not very strong, but makes more shots than a Lighting Bolt - even though it's still fewer than a danmaku attack. But Chen just laughed.
- Fools, you can't go through my spell!
And it wasn't a joke! More and more shots came and even though Chrono progressed, Exa found the situation more and more desperating.
Even with Lighting Shield, it seemed impossible to survive this. And one stream of shot hit him, just about the same time when Chrono managed to reach Chen.
- You hurt my friend, now I'll kill you! - Chrono went to a berserk-like state, and throw some more kunais to the nekomata.
The strikes Chrono dealt to Chen could be easily deadly to a normal human, but Chen wasn't a normal human.
- Oh, you're quite good, unlike your friend. Then feel my true wrath!
- Oh my god, another spell? Does she ever run out of mana? - Exa was so desperated.
- But we can't give up! - But the nekomata prepared one more spell - if we can count this as a spell.
Chen was flying around like crazy, in the shape of a pentagram, summoning even more shots. That was Shikigami Sign "Pentagram Flight".
- Chrono, get back, it's too dangerous staying there! - shouted Exa, but it was too late.
Even though Chrono was very talented in avoiding, even that was too many for him.
The spell hurt him, too. Now both Exa and Chrono were injured, and the attack seemed impossible to stop.
- 'We must find a weak spot on this spell! It mustn't be unbreakable' - they thought.
- Concentrate, concentrate... Yes, I saw it! - said Chrono.
- These shots go through a similar pattern, so it's possible to avoid them. Just follow me!'
- 'I hope Chrono knows what he's doing' - thought Exa.
The plan seemed to work.
- Okay, throw some kunais in front of her! - said Exa to Chrono.
Chrono did this - even though the damage caused him so much pain - and Exa shot some more Sparks to knock the kunais to Chen... and he lost his consciousness.
But the kunais hit the nekomata, causing her some serious damage.
- You win this time, but we'll meet again someday - she said and she flew away.
Chrono ran to Exa.
He had one Potion of Healing, so he used it on the Lighting Mage. After a while, Exa opened his eyes.
- Is she... dead? - he asked.
- No, she is still alive, but we'll find her someday. The more important thing is, are you ok, my friend?
- Well, ...sort of. You saved my life, thank you!
- You can count this from a friend. - winked Chrono.
So Exa and Chrono fought their first battle in Gensokyo. It seems that the next challenges would be very hard, too...
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