Flandre Scarlet (by S.Ruro, 2008-03-10)
You are the delivery boy for Kirisame Grocieries, located in the human village. One day, you receive an order from your boss; the head maid of the Scarlet Devil Mansion has sent over an immense list of groceries that she expects you to deliver to the SDM by 8 PM sharp.
Grumbling, you load the packs onto your donkeys and begin the slow trek to the Scarlet Devil Mansion. It's late fall, and the sun is swiftly setting. It's a long walk, but it's at least comforting to see that it's a full moon out tonight, and that your path, which would normally be very dark, is illuminated by the light of the moon. Plus, you're looking forward to seeing all the gorgeous women of the Scarlet Devil Mansion. (Of course, you dare not act on your desires, since Keine-san would get mad.)
Finally, you make it to the huge, arrogantly palatial Scarlet Devil Mansion. You make it to the gates, tired, just as the sexy redheaded door guard comes out of her gatehouse. Though you can't remember her name at the moment, you gladly accept her help with the food as she easily shoulders one of the heavy packs of food and leads you in through the gates.
You follow the gateguard through the grounds of the mansion until you see the surrounding area surrounded by fairies, who flitter about, taking small packs of food and flying into the mansion with them. Dumbstruck, you stand there with empty arms, realizing that you're not going to get a tip.
"Hmm. Are you the delivery boy?" a commanding, but calm voice asks. You turn and see a maid with white hair standing where only an empty space had been only a few seconds ago.
"Uh, yeah, I am." This is the maid that demanded so much of you in the first place! Oh, well. At least she's hot.
"You're early, by 356 seconds. Good job," she says aloud, checking an antique pocket watch. "Come on in, and I'll see to your tip. Meiling, you're dismissed."
The maid leads you through the enormous, oaken front doors of the Scarlet Devil Mansion as, behind you, the gateguard Meiling salutes once and returns to her post.
You follow the white-haired girl through the confusing halls of the mansion, fairies flitting about everywhere with kitchen utensils and whatnot. Perplexed, you indulge your curiosity as you look around. It's your first time in the rumoured Scarlet Devil Mansion, after all. You know that the maid isn't the most sociable human in Gensokyo, but you're pleasantly surprised to find that she doesn't have any problem bragging about her mistress' manor.
"That's the Voile Library, maintained by my mistress for three centuries."
"What's your name?"
"Izayoi Sakuya, head maid to Remilia Scarlet."
"What's that over there?"
"That's the observatory, where my mistress enjoys watching the stars."
"And what's that?"
"That's... ah..." Sakuya trails off, for the first time looking perturbed. "It's a one-way staircase. Don't go down there." Under her breath, you hear her say, "I haven't been there in months... I'll have to go reinforce the locks very soon, or it'll just be an ordinary door..."
Naturally, you want to go see what's down there, but there's no way, what with the maid watching you at all times. More importantly, you haven't gotten your money yet. Finally, the maid takes you into a small closet of sorts, full of small pouches of Suwako-knows-what.
"Will this do?" Sakuya asks, not rudely, but firmly as she places an exquisitely cut ruby in your palm. You look down at it, amazed.
"My mistress has many such gems. She enjoys giving them out," she says, smiling faintly. "Well, I'll accompany you to the gates."
Everything is going smoothly as Sakuya escorts you through the mansion a second time, when suddenly, you hear--
"Magicannon Final Spark!"
"Oh, dear," Sakuya says, clapping a hand over her face in disgust. "Patchouli-sama... I should go stop her before Remilia-sama wakes up." She looks over at you. "Ask one of the fairies here to get you back to the door. I have to get going."
And just like that, she's gone, leaving you in one of the many hallways of the mansion. Confused, and with no fairies in sight, you wander around aimlessly, hoping to find the door, when something catches your eye. It's the door that leads to the "one-way staircase" Sakuya mentioned.
"Well, hopefully, that way is out," you mutter to yourself as you push the door open and descend the dark, musty stairs.
It turns out that the stairs are only the top part of a narrow spiral staircase, damp and particularly odorous, that winds down endlessly into the bowels of the mansion and further. You walk, out of macabre curiosity now, past monotonous walls of crumbling mortar. Finally, you make it to the bottom, where there is a door. You open the door, feeling a small jolt of what feels like static, and walk in.
The first thing you see is the shimmering of pale, multicoloured light. Then your eyes focus sufficiently to see a small little blonde girl, perhaps 9 or so, with a pair of what looked to be long rods of iron coming off of her back. There were what appeared to be seven shards of coloured crystals dangling off of those iron rods, and they were glowing gently, enough to light up the room with rainbow colours.
"Who's she?" you ask aloud, seeing that the girl is sleeping. You thought you'd heard of all the inhabitants of the Scarlet Devil Mansion, but you've never heard of this girl. Speaking of which, is she even normal? What are those wings all about?
Hoping to get some answers, you walk over to her. She's curled up on a canopy bed, and you walk to the side of the bed and shake her shoulders gently. After groaning a bit, she rolls over on her back and slowly opens one sleep-rimmed eye.
"Is it the full moon yet?" she asks drowsily. Then she sniffs the air slightly. Her eyes widen and she sits up in bed, now alert. "Who are you?"
"Ah..." you look away slightly, not wanting to meet her eyes. It seemed to you as if they were red, but that's probably only a trick of the light. "I work at the Kirisame grocery store in the human village."
At the mention of the word "Kirisame", the girl sits at attention. "You're a human?"
You're confused. "Well, aren't you?"you ask the girl with the tousled, unkempt blonde hair.
"I'm a vampire," the little girl declares proudly. "Flandre Scarlet. Remi is my older sister."
You blink. She can't possibly be referring to the famed mistress of the Scarlet Devil Mansion, Remilia Scarlet...
"Vampire, huh?" you ask, trying to keep cool; you've heard that vampires are extremely dangerous, and they can smell fear. "Then what are those wings all about?"
She shrugs, making the crystal shards jingle against each other. You notice that she is wearing a red dress and vest over a pink shirt. "I dunno. And you're a human? Did Remi send you here?"
"Not really. The head maid had to run off, so I got left to find my own way out of the mansion."
Flandre nods, understanding, a strange gleam in her eye. "Well, I'm not allowed up there. But I can help you get out..."
"Really?" you ask aloud, not noticing the look in Flandre's eyes. "Would you?"
She smiles, showing her fangs. "Of course! But let me whisper the way out into your ear."
"Sure." You oblige, leaning over and letting Flandre approach your neck, a hungry look in her softly glowing red eyes.
"And then there were none," she whispers to you right before her fangs sink into your neck.
Orange (by Lord Gussy, 2008-03-10)
You are a noodle chef in Gensokyo, selling your alluringly delicious noodles to those who want them, in decently-sized ramen stand located in the human village. Business may not be that of, say a 5-star resturant but, it puts food on the table, so you have no reason to complain...you better not anyways. Your relatively known in the village for your resilance as a chef and resturant owner. For as of lately lots of other resturants have muscled their way into the village with their exotic cuisine, but yet you remain rock steady with your ramen. However this isn't saying that you haven't felt the sting of financal cut backs, for even though you manage to compete with the other resturants with your all ramen menu, your business is still steadily declining, having fewer customers in less frequent times (Hm, I wonder why, surely it can't be your diverse selection of food). Until finally you have no customers at all save for one fat guy who always shows up, though he eats like a horse, his monstrous appetite alone isn't enough to save your business from going down the toilet...
One day a miko, by the name of Reimu Hakurei happens into your humble noodle stand, and asks if this is the noodle stand she's heard so much about. Honored that someone such as her chose your noodle stand, you reply that it is and offer her some on the house as a token of gratitude for stopping by. Afterwards she gives her compliments to the chef and then suddenly asks for 'Donations' to the Hakurei Shrine. All of a sudden, you feel as if you've been played for a jackass...but she's a miko, and miko's ask for donations so you pay no mind to it (Oh my word, aren't we naive...).
Apologizing, you reply your a little short on money and need the remaining profit in order to live through next week. Upon hearing this, however, the miko frowns and then leaves, but not before advising you to expand your business and coming to the Hakurei Shrine to Donate your profits. You ponder on this and decide that the money-grubbing miko has a point, the reason your finacanlly challenged is that your only known in the village you live. What if others like those in Eientei or even the Scarlet Devil Mansion knew of you? of course your profits would skyrocket. So that night you make the neccisarry preperations to set up a delivery service with your noodles, intent on raising the steaks (and possibly paying the miko her donations, before she does something irrationally slanderous to your stand).
Unfortunetly, your delivery service doesn't go so 'Keikaku Dori', sure those on the outskirts of the human village pay you a good amount it's the other customers who live farther away that are always the most diffcult (as well as the most dangerous) to get to. You find that your life is constantly in danger as the yokai hunt you down on your many journeys through the woods, But you maintain that rock steady resiliance and persevere. For your life, literally, depends on this business' success...
One day as your on your way to deliver some ramen to Eientei, you have a run in with a yokai dressed in green and yellow clothing and wielding a curious baton. Fearing that you may die where you stand, you offer your noodles in exchange for your life. Surprisingly enough she accepts such an offer and happily eats your gift, seeing this display makes you question if she was REALLY after your flesh, but having a deadline to meet, you pay no mind. The yokai asks if she has to pay for it, you reply that it's usually about 5 bucks for a standard meal. Upon hearing ths the yokai seems a bit saddened, concearned you ask if she has the money, and she forlornly shakes her head.
You then say that the meal is on the house and continue on, but before hand the yokai offers to take another meal and deliver it for you in exchange for the one she ate. You digress saying you don't want to put her in any danger, but she still insists upon it. So you head back to, the village whip up an extra batch of ramen for her, and she makes off with the noodles, flying off to Eientei post haste.
A few hours later the yokai returns, and reports she's successfuly delivered the meal, and recieved a nice tip for arriving so early. Amazed at her speed, you ask if she would like to work for you. In the process you can give her as much ramen as she wants. She gladly accepts and introduces herself as Orange. Hm, such a strange name...but you've heard stranger...
As time goes on you and Orange become an item, what with your delicious ramen and Oranges speed of delivery, it is now the other resturants that fear for their business. Some even stoop to trying to bribe Orange to come work for them, but she always refuses and claims that your her only employer. But behind the scenes, theres a budding romance the 2 of you share. Who knew that display of cowardice would make Orange fall for you...but you didn't care about the past, you just knew that you loved Orange and always wanted to be with her, and unknown to you, Orange felt the same way.
Orange confesses that she usually wasn't very confident in her abilities, before she met up with you. You laugh and say that she was always capable of great things, and that she was perfect at least to you. an awkward silence goes through the kitchen before you gaze into each others eyes and kiss for the 1st time, Moments after, sexual intercourse soon follows(eww right there in the kitchen too, I weep for whoever has to eat your food after that D: )
In late summer, you finally work up the courage to propose to her which she gladly accepts. The 2 of you are wed by that ever present fat guy who always came in the noodle stand, apparently he's been behind you every step of the way, and turns out he's also a priest...who knew (Well I did, but hey I'm writing this so I know everything here Haaahahaha!). the wedding is surprisingly vacant, considering how much your know through out the village, the only ones who were known to have made an appearance was Reimu, who only showed up to get her donations, (which you promptly pay, as a means of avoiding any unwanted 'accidents') and your customers from Eientei. This was the beginning to your bright future (O RLY?).
Time goes on as it's prone to doing, and your profits couldn't be higher, you love the feeling of finally having money left over to do what you wished, and with a steady stream of it coming in every week it proved your paradise couldn't be shattered. Orange announces that she wishes to have a child, but you refuse, saying the finances couldn't support another mouth to feed, she falls silent but eventually accepts your words as true. But, Orange know theres something wrong...you don't spend as much time with her as you usually do, you don't make love as much as you use to and your always out late spending your money away.
The next day while the stand is having the occasional slow monday, Orange confronts you about your sudden change in behavior, you deny it. She then plays her trump card, saying the 2 of you don't spend enough time together and she's concearned about the relationship. You yet again deny it and pass it off as 'business is booming, I need time to adjust'. Orange knows this is bullshit and says it as such, she says your more into your money than you are to anything else (namely her). What's this newfaggotry? the woman you love talking ill of YOUR dinero? The dinero YOU earned? Unacceptable! bitch must pay! (so to speak)
You rise to your feet and step toward her, a sharp glare in your eye. Then in one quick motion, you slap her across the face and harshly respond to never say such things, and if she doesn't like how you do business then GTFO. Orange only stares at you, tears welling up in her red eyes, as she places a hand on the red are in which you hit her, and those words...they were so cruel and unfeeling, this wasn't the man she loved... Without another word she flees shouting that your not the kind and generous man she fell in love with. You sneer and go back to counting your precious benjimans (Wait, do they even have that kinda currency in Gensokyo?...bah it's too late I've already said it >_>...). Your money was your new <3, not Orange, and for the moment you didn't seem to care...
A week later Oranage retruns to you with some news. She quits. Your world suddenly comes crashing down as the thoughts of you not getting that fix of money sink in. You plead her to stay, she refuses. You insist that she stays, she still refuses. You demand she stays, Orange remains unchanged in her decision. You get rough and tell her she will stay, and she will make you money. You want that green, and no baton weilding hussy's gonna stop you from getting it, she doesn't give, so you verbally abuse her punishing her with your vile profane insults, she still refuses, and with no other option left you show her what happens when you get in the way of your money train. you punch her, kick her, toss her to the wall, Falcon Punch her in the ovary, you say you'll only stop if she submits, but she doesn't respond, so you up the anty on her punishment her, before showing her who's boss in this joint and having angry sex with her beaten body.
After this Orange lay bruised, bloody and barely conscious. And you stand before her, apathetic to your lovers injuries and anguish, you ask her once more if she'll return, she shakes her head. You curse and decide to just leave it alone, but you slip on your pants, you realize something strange. Why didn't Orange fight back? she IS a yokai after all...she could've easily defended herself, yet she did nothing...You ask her this, and she replies with what litte strength she has that, she still loves you and she could never strike the one she loves...It is then that it hits you. The realization of your actions. Your never ending hunger for wealth has caused you to beat the woman you held near an dear, "Oh god! what have I done!" you shout as the harsh truth drills into your skull, you rush to her side and apologize for your actions, saying you'll change, you'll stop worrying about that money and have a child like she always wanted. But Orange is already dead...the damage has already been done...and your anxious apologizes mean nothing...
After this tragic event you lose interest in cooking, closing the noodle stand down, and withdraw from society to wallow in your self hate. You spend months living off your remaining wealth, spending it away on booze and drinking in a state of depression. Things only worsen when you run out of money, to sustain yourself and your forced to live on the streets a miserble and stagnant shell of your former self. Then on a moonless night, you walk the streets with a rope in hand, your sobs of misery echoing through the village. the villagers rise from their sleep to see you, but say nothing, they only watch curious as to what your up to this time of night. Then in front of everyone you hang yourself in front of your now condemned and ruined noodle stand. Why the noodle stand you ask? well...you WERE pretty hammered that night...
Cirno (by Ice ⑨, 2003-08-10)
"...I won? I mean, I WON! I'm the strongest!" crows the fairy as you gingerly pull yourself up, face burning.
"Of COURSE you won," you mutter, "you slammed into me from behind."
But she's not listening as she hops back and forth cheering and pumping her fist.
Collecting your scattered belongings and silently grateful your friends were busy today, you have time to reflect on this ice fairy.
You know from reputation her name is Cirno, and she's said to be a complete moron.
She also keeps harassing you. It started a few weeks ago when she collided with you on your way back home from fishing the Scarlet lake. Ever since then she seems to have it out for you, continually beating the stuffing out of you any time she saw you. Finally you had to invest in a weapon and start defending yourself. To your surprise, you soundly won when you did without undue effort.
Cirno took off, cheering herself on still, as you marvel at the stupid, stupid fairy who keeps harassing you.
"Yeah, I don't know what the fuck to DO," you remark to a friend over drinks. He's a few up on you and showing it.
"Oh come on, out with it."
"Well, you know how you used to crush on that redheaded girl? And you bullied her, took her stuff, pushed her around..."
You feel a flush rising in your cheeks. "That was when I was nine."
"Right. EXACTLY. And this is the one--and only--Cirno we're talking about!"
...Oh. Oh, no...
"...You don't mean..."
"Bad news, brother. She's sweet on you."
Groaning, you take a long pull on your drink and lean back to the floor.
"Let's hope she gets over it before she KILLS me."
This revelation made entirely too much sense. The night stretches on, and you stare a hole in your ceiling trying to find a solution to this.
She's never used her ice attacks on you. That might change if you reject her. Then you would probably die. You could try to avoid her, but seeing as she'd come looking and probably make a fool out of you in the middle of town, that would only make matters worse.
However, you are seriously debating it as you find yourself facedown for the thousandth time following one of her surprise assaults.
"Strongest, strongest, I-am-the-strongest..."
Once more sitting up and watching that same stupid dance, that same stupid song, a new, stupid feeling comes over you. You find yourself grinning a little. She might be an idiot, but she's awfully cute when she's so excited over winning a fight for once... Oh no, no no no. Bad line of thought. ...Oh, hell. You're getting the hots for her, too. Is this loli?
Days pass, and Cirno keeps wailing on you. You put up a token defense when you can, but you find it harder to beat on the stupid fairy.
Until, during one attack, you slip and inadvertently throw an elbow as you fall, solidly knocking her out. (Though you're positive your arm got the worst part of the deal. Her skull's like a rock.) You know you should go, but you can't bring yourself to leave her unconscious.
A good few hours pass while you wait for her to recover. You build a small fire as it gets dark, and she finally stirs to find you cooking up a pair of fish from the lake.
"I was beginning to wonder if you were ever going to wake up," you say as her blue eyes flicker. "Are you okay?"
"...Eye have a headache..."
Oh. Stupid, stupid Cirno. You break into a grin.
"What?!" she asks sharply, a faint pink rising in her cheeks.
"Nothing, I just thought you looked cute, was all." You say as you offer her some fish. She grows even redder." You find some perverse delight in her discomfort.
"...Do you like me, Cirno?"
She might very well be melting beneath that flush. This is sick, but let's call it revenge for those weeks of beatings.
"I--no! No! You're a stupid human and--and--"
Something clicks into place and you begin to act without thinking, slinking over to her from the fire. She scrambles backwards on her hands and knees, eyes wide.
"Eye--Eye--! ...Eye, yai, yai..." Cirno mutters as you draw closer. Scuttling backwards, she finally finds herself against a tree, and you pounce. Picking her up while she pounds her tiny fists on your back, you pick her up, a manic glint in your eye.
"You've been awfully mean, Cirno..."
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I won't do it again!" You smile with the devil's teeth as you put her down, pinning her...
Elsewhere, Daiyousei sat up, rubbing the back of her head.
"What is it?" One of the many fairies asked as it flitted by.
"Nothing to worry about," she said, smiling and looking out onto the foggy surface of the lake.
"It's just that someplace, somewhere, right now, Cirno is getting completely owned."
The ice fairy--ahem--freezes when you plant a little peck on the tip of her nose. Drawing back, you return to the (now burnt) fish. Mmm, crispy.
Cirno's thoughts race--well, for her, anyway--and her heart pounds as she tries to sort out her muddled feelings for you.
"Hm?" You look up, content now that you've tormented her back a little.
"...EYE'M THE STRONGEST!"
With that she takes off at high speed, slamming into you. The two of you tumble down the bank of a hill, and the wind is knocked out of you. Dazed, your eyes slide back into focus to see Cirno, crouched on top of you, rubbing her head. She's clearly in better shape then you are, though--she can take this sort of abuse much more than you can.
"I'm the strongest. -I- am." She says resolutely, as much convincing herself as you. Either way, just as you catch your breath again she steals it away with a furious kiss.
...And that's that. Under pretense of 'fighting,' you have your first time. You come to outright love her stupid charm, and her slender body, cool to the touch. With increasing frequency you "fight" on the side of the lake, no longer unwilling to tussle with Cirno, who gradually wins less and less as you get physical before you 'get physical.' Your drinking buddy makes all kinds of dirty cracks at your expense, but even he doesn't think you and the fairy have hit it off.
Finally, one day you see Cirno waiting behind a rock at the side of the road--waiting for you. Grinning, you slowly approach her from behind, then lunge. She squeals and spins, inadvertently tripping you. Your head slams, hard, into the rock and you fall. Her eyes widen in terror as you feel something warm and wet matting your hair...thinking gets harder...you feel tired...
"I--I--I'll get help!"
Even Cirno knows a deadly injury when she sees it. She flits back and forth, unwilling to leave you behind. Finally, you manage to mumble that she should go and find help. Seconds? Hours? You can't tell how long she's gone. You drift in and out, fighting to stay conscious...but the sun is so warm...and you're so tired...
Your eyes flicker open as a shadow passes over them. The town doctor, and Cirno, anxiously looking over his shoulder as he appraises your wound.
"...If I'd gotten here sooner..."
"No! NO!" Cirno wails, "We need a better doctor! The one from Eyen--Eye--"
"Eientei," the Doctor finishes, "If anyone can help him, it's her. But they're too far away, he'd never make it."
"...I'll--I'll freeze him!"
"Nah...th'ice...'ll kill me..." you finally manage to slur, struggling to remain conscious.
"No, no! It's a magic cold! I've done it before!"
Smiling faintly, you close your eyes and give your assent, with a whispered "yes" to your fairy lover.
As you slowly ebb out of consciousness, you hear Cirno murmuring something frantically as a strangely comfortable chill sweeps over you.
"Only one out of three, only one out of three, only one out of three..."
You dimly ponder what that means as you lose feeling and you settle into this icy hibernation...
Alice Margatroid (by Raiyt, 2008-03-11)
"Perfect!" you state, as you place the finishing touches on your latest miniature figurine. Ten years with this hobby, and you've managed to amass quite the collection. Your eye for detail is unmatched, your work envied by many, and your knowledge vast enough that your original creations would go for thousands at auction. That will happen when you're dead, your art is too precious to sell for mere money. Of course, that day is approaching faster than you realize. You set off for the hobby store as usual for your weekly shipment of custom paint shades, not aware that you're being followed. One of your ill-wishers, a small time resin kit maker whose business was nearly destroyed by your harsh words about his shoddy work, has decided today would be your end. Driving behind your car, he only wishes to watch as you realize that your brakes no longer work. That much is true. However, as your car breaks through the guard rail and over the side of a steep cliff, he can't help but stare as he realizes the driver's seat was already empty.
You wake up in a messy house, not quite sure where you are. The last thing you remember, your car wouldn't stop, and you were about to take a sharp curve into thin air. However, it seems as if the gods had another fate in store for you. As you start to gather your bearings, a mischevious looking girl enters from the other room. "Hi there, I thought you were dead! Well, you wouldn't mind donating a few vital organs for my magic, would you?" The look on your face shows your lack of appreciation for her jokes, or what you certainly hope are jokes. "Don't get bent out of shape, I was only kidding. I already took a lock of hair though, call it payment for making sure you didn't become youkai food."
That evening is an interesting one. You find out that you're in a place called Gensokyo, and that your host is a girl named Marisa. "Figurines. You mean like dolls and stuff, right?" asks Marisa. You nod slowly. "Something like that." Marisa nods firmly. "Then you should meet my friend Alice. She's gloomy, obsessive, a bit eerie, and she really, really, really likes dolls." You sigh quietly, reminded of nearly all of your adult family. Figurines aren't just dolls, they're detailed works of art! Well, no matter, it's probably good to meet a few new people. This world is nothing like anything you've seen, and it's probably good to make some friends. Perhaps someone will know the way back.
The next day, Marisa takes you to meet Alice. "Hey Alice, this guy likes dolls too!" "Hm, is that so..." "Yeah, so quit being gloomy and show him around! Maybe if you got out and saw more people, you'd quit being so creepy." You cringe just a little bit, and you notice that Alice is visibly hurt by this remark. "Fine. So, you like dolls, right?" You nod, trying to be nice to this obviously abused girl. "Well, dolls and any sort of miniature art." Alice seems to cheer up a little bit at this remark. "Art, you say? Interesting indeed!" Marisa excuses herself, as if she's just done Alice the biggest favor she'll ever do. "I'll come by tomorrow, I know it's all you ever look forward to!" Alice's reaction is a mixture of pain and embarassment, as if it just might be true. "Don't mind her. So..." You and Alice manage to discuss various miniature art all day long. She seems a little more whimsical and willing to believe in magic than you are, which makes sense. Seeing Alice manipulate her dolls makes you wish you could bring your own works of art to life. On the other hand, your fascination with detail and dedication to art is quite interesting to her as well. Hearing that you have no place to stay, Alice invites you to stay with her for a while, and you eagerly accept. Any port in a storm, and it's quite nice to have such an interesting host. She is pretty cute too.
Days pass, and you begin to study the basics of magic under Alice. You aren't interested in strength or influence, just learning how to manipulate your figures how Alice does. She seems quite pleased to have you around. You may not have the tools you did before, but your skilled hands still manage to create lifelike masterpieces with a simple knife and wood carvings. You find that the two of you are both dedicated towards your work, and learn a great many things from each other. Marisa visits from time to time, and while not directly unpleasant, she is always mean to Alice in ways that make your stomach turn. A backhanded comment here, deflation of ego there, and yet friendly enough that it couldn't be real hostility, could it? A few weeks pass, and you manage to start maneuvering a small carving of yours, directing it to walk over to one of Alice's dolls, and bow in introduction. Much to your surprise, her doll leans over and places a kiss on your carving's cheek. You look up at Alice, slightly confused, until she proceeds to kiss your cheek just the same. Blushing slightly, you return the favor. Seems to be a match molded in heaven.
As the weeks go by, Marisa's cruel words strike you as often as they do Alice. However, Alice seems more confident and willing to tell Marisa off lately. You are no kinder, going so far as to accuse Marisa of holding Alice back, being mean and not a real friend at all. Marisa's visits become less and less frequent, and your relationship with Alice blossoms deeper into love. This fair-haired maiden was pretty at first, but finding her confidence has turned her into an absolute goddess. Your arrogance has softened over time as well. At first with humility when faced with such power, and now simply out of consideration for someone so talented and lovable that you simply don't want to see her hurt. You are a better person for having met Alice, and you believe that perhaps she can say the same for you. Whatever happened that fateful day, it was a truly fortunate move, and you find that you have not missed the outside world for some time. If this is a dream, you hope that you never wake up.
You decide that after several months of living with Alice, the proper time has come. A shy nerd at heart, you carve a new doll special for the occasion, and employ it in proposing to Alice. The tears of joy in her eyes say more than words ever could. Even a short lifetime together would be paradise, and you'd gladly sacrifice your humanity for this dear love of your life, to be with her all the longer. Employing her acquaintance, the priestess Reimu Hakurei, the two of you are wed in a beautiful ceremony. Many people from the nearby village attend, pleased to see that the lonely entertainer has found herself someone who would make her happy. A handful of powerful youkai attend as well, their terrifying presence made peaceful by their wishes of happiness. Alice is a well liked woman, as little as she knew it. The ceremony is a beautiful event to remember, even down to Shanghai and Hourai in cute bridesmaid's dresses you sewed by hand to surprise Alice. The only thing missing from the ceremony is Marisa.
Marisa. You knew something was wrong. The euphoric joy you feel gives way to a sinking feeling as you return to Alice's house. You can't shake this sense of bad vibes coming from all around. However, this is a happy day, so you suppress it. Picking Alice up to carry her over the threshold, you open the door to her house. Just as you step over, you see it.
The hanging corpse of a witch, dangling over a suicide note. Alice steps out of your arms, dashing over to Marisa in tears. You pick up the note, hands trembling, and unfold it slowly. It reads simply, "I always loved you Alice."
Fujiwara no Mokou (by Kobayashi, 2008-03-11)
You are a denizen of the human village; you work a boring store job – though infinitely preferable to back-breaking labor in the fields – that seems to idle away most of your day. The village is not a very exciting place, so business, while steady, is hardly bustling most of the time. So you bury your nose in books, especially those of philosophy and various thought scenarios that keep your mind in shape, since your job obviously doesn’t provide any sort of mental exercise at all. When not working, you also enjoy the outdoors, by which it is meant that you enjoy reading outdoors when the weather’s nice, or taking peaceful nature-walks in the surrounding area; nothing too strenuous. A real laid-back, thoughtful kind of guy; too bad that passive type will never attract the girls, but you could care less – for the moment anyway – as life is good, and the idea of girlfriends or marriage is hardly on your mind, the space of which is purely reserved for the works of Nietzsche or Socrates, or any other number of philosophers whose books ended up in Kourindou – a place you visit often.
It is your goal to go somewhere new everyday; you are determined to be more worldly than these bumpkins – who you are convinced you’re are the mental superior of – who may spend their lives without ever going more than a few miles from the village, except perhaps to visit the Hakurei Shrine – but really, who goes there? You are no fool, of course; you know better than to go out at night. That’s when the youkai come out, and bizarre things happen, like kidnappings, spiriting aways, danmaku fights, hunts, murders, freaky interspecies sex and a whole list of other sordid unmentionables. But during the afternoon, you go out walking, and every day your strolls take you further and further away.
One day, you come to the edge of a bamboo forest. It is beautiful, but the cautious part of your mind reminds of something you heard, or more likely, read about. This is the bamboo thicket of the Youkai, supposedly a den of fairies that any man who enters becomes hopelessly lost in. You, being the logical intellectual you are, have no belief in such superstitions, only putting your faith in more realistic things like maps, proofs, the proletariat, and flying shrine maidens. Only folksy idiots would get lost in a bamboo thicket. Laughing at those poor fools who console themselves by convincing everyone else that the bamboo thicket is cursed and it’s not their fault they got lost for five days, you enter the forest, intent on enjoying its serene scenery and beautiful layout.
You spend a delightful few hours enjoying the scenery, only disturbed by the occasional fairy as you read an essay by John Stuart Mill. Noticing the sun starting to fall, you decide to head back; you still have a couple hours before nightfall, but never being one to leave things to the last minute, you figure it’s time to head back to the village. There’s only one slight problem:
You’re hopelessly lost.
Being the proud, intellectually-superior human you are, you refuse to cry out for help, scream about cursed forests, or pray to the gods like some of your less educated neighbors might. That lasts for about an hour and a half. But as the sun starts to reach for the horizon, you feel panic grip your heart. Finally giving up in frustration, you let out a howl of anger, both at the forest and yourself for getting lost in it. It is only after you finish your minutes long scream-fest that you realize that it might attract unwanted attention. Luckily for you though, the first thing to find you was not of the man-eating variety.
A young woman with blue-white hair comes out of the encroaching gloom, a flickering flame held before her. She’s wearing a collared shirt and red pants with suspenders. More surprising than her boyish sense of fashion or beautiful long hair, is the fire she holds, which she does quite literally. There is no lamp or torch; she is, in fact, holding an actual flame on the palm of her hand.
She asks what you’re doing here, causing you to jump as her voice breaks the silence that had settled. She sighs and assumes you are human and very lost, saying as much. You only nod dumbly.
As the initial shock wears off, you take a moment to actually analyze this newcomer. She carries herself confidently, somewhat masculine in how she moves or stands, while still retaining attractive feminine features, even if she doesn’t flaunt them or seem to make a fuss about appearance like other girls. She eyes you not with the assessment and coy calculations that you have known the women of your village to have, but rather with calm acceptance, with maybe a touch of disinterest. Something about this practicality of hers clicks with you, and you find yourself wanting to know more about her, and perhaps be more than just another lost traveler to her.
She offers to lead you out of the forest, and you graciously accept. You follow as she leads you in silence through the twilight air. You want to say something to her, to catch her interest, but can’t think of anything that wouldn’t just sound dumb, contrived or stupid. So instead, you just keep your mouth shut and walk in silence.
Finally, after a few minutes, but what seems like hours, you come to the edge of the forest. She points you in the direction of the village, and you thank her profusely for probably saving your life. She shrugs it off as if this were a normal chore for her. Then, as she turns to head back into the forest, you finally work up the courage to say something. Calling out your thanks again, you ask her name.
For a moment, she doesn’t respond. You fear you may have overstepped your bounds. But after a few seconds, she turns and eyes you with faint trace of amusement. After apparently looking you over for a second, probably for the first time, she tells you her name.
“It’s Mokou. Fujiwara no Mokou.”
The days after see an increasingly disturbing lack of order as more and more your mind wanders to that girl you met – who you learn is known for guiding lost travelers through the thicket, hence her attitude towards you – and your expeditions stop being at random and start tending more and more towards the same direction: the bamboo thicket. In less than a week, you once again find yourself wandering the bamboo thicket again, though this time you keep the edge well within sight – for how embarrassing would it be to become lost once more? – as you idly look for a place to relax, and more urgently, Mokou. As the day comes to a close, you consider the merits of getting intentionally lost to perhaps attract the attention of this savior of lost travelers, but decide against it. Maybe later, if you can’t devise another way to find her again, short of acting like a fool and calling out her name.
Three days later, you try this again, but with similar results. Going home, you decide to try once more the next day before giving up on this girl and returning to your normal life – though you know it will not be so simple, steps must be taken at some point.
And so it is, ten days after that first encounter, that you go once more into the thicket. Finding an ideal spot by a small creek, you settle down to read, still mentally debating whether or not – with the not side quickly losing ground – to get lost on purpose today should you not see Mokou otherwise.
However, as luck would have it, such measures become unnecessary. As you read, resolving to give the edge of the forest at least five directed circuits before you make your one very undirected and hopelessly lost circuit of it, a figure approaches behind you, reads over your shoulder the book to which you are paying no attention at all to at this point, then makes herself known.
“What’s that you’re reading?”
You jump in shock as you realize who it is that’s enquiring about your choice of reading material, and do the quickest about face to have ever occurred in human history, finding yourself facing Mokou. After stammering and stuttering for a few seconds in a mixed garble of “fancy meeting you here” “didn’t see you there” “oh, hi, we met before, right?” – all at the same time – you note the mildly amused but, in the end, not impressed look on her face and manage to answer her question.
After that proceeds an hour long philosophical debate wherein you discover that she has, at one point or another, considered most of these philosophies, though many of the more esoteric thought exercises catch her attention. All too soon though, it starts to fall towards night and you have to get going. She offers to guide you out, but you tell her you can find your own way out. She sees you to the edge of the forest anyway, and you head home.
Over the next few weeks, your visits to the grove become daily, and you talk with Mokou frequently and for hours at a time, though some times she doesn’t show up, occasionally for days at a time. The two of you discuss a variety of topics, eventually branching out from your reading material to other subjects, such as your life in the village, the places each of you have been around Gensokyo, and any other number of things. You find that her thinking is radically different from yours, or that of anyone else you’ve met, making your discussions, or as they often are, debates, rather interesting. You comment on it, saying that it must be because you’re a human and she’s a youkai.
“I’m not a Youkai.”
Surprised, you learn that she’s a human, just like you. When you ask her why she lives here instead of in the village, she claims that it’s just because she prefers a more solitary life. You realize that that’s not the reason, and she knows you do, so eventually you manage to pry it out of her. She admits that its because of her youkai-like power; she can, as you saw, manipulate fire, use high-level danmaku, and on top of all that, she’s immortal. This certainly explains her way of thinking, given that she’s had centuries to try every sort of philosophy or way of life imaginable. But why the isolation?
It seems that she’s been driven out of villages before, due to her immortality and her powers. She doesn’t think of herself as a human anymore. So she avoids the village as much as possible. You try to convince her that the human village where you live would never treat her that way, but she declines your invitations to come there.
However, though you never bring the subject up again, from the way she acts whenever you mention the village over the next few days, you can tell that it’s on her mind. Finally, after a couple of weeks, it happens. You’re not sure whether it was your plan or hers, or completely by accident, but the two of you end up talking until well after sunset. It is only as night truly falls and the last of the light disappears that the two of you realize this, and as you go to leave, she offers to see you to your house; after all, a human travelling alone in the dark is an easy target for any roaming youkai who happens to have an appetite. Though a valid reason, both of you know, and know that the other knows, that it’s just an excuse to spend more time together.
And so it is that you finally convince the recluse of the bamboo forest to come into the village, a feat even the half-youkai teacher had never achieved. Granted, it was at night and not many people were out, so it wasn’t like she was actually going to meet any of the villagers, but it was a first step. She sees you to your door, but declines your offer to come in and have tea, instead looking away and saying she has to go. Is she embarrassed? You watch her leave, before turning in for the night, wondering what to say to her tomorrow.
Your thoughts are in vain, though. You don’t see her for the next few days; you go into the forest, but it’s once again one of those ominous stretches where you don’t meet her. However, at the end of those four days is a pleasant surprise.
Tired from work, and wondering if you somehow did something wrong to drive her away, you come to your door in the late afternoon to find none other than Mokou standing there waiting for you. As you stand shocked at this new occurrence, she gives a you a cool smile before giving a small apology about disappearing the past few days.
And so it is that you life shifts just a little more. Now some days you go to her, other days she comes to you – though you both always leave the village and spend most time away from it, but it’s not like there’s anything interesting anyway. Feeling that there’s a certain trust between the two of you, you decide to ask – for it’s been nagging at you ever since you first started meeting her on a regular basis – where she goes on those days when you don’t see her. This gives her pause for a moment. She seems to be on the verge of answering, but then, before a single word is spoken, she instead goes ahead and kisses you.
You’re shocked to say the least, though she doesn’t seem all that affected; instead she just smiles at your stunned face and suggests a change of topic. You nod dumbly and spend the rest of the afternoon only half paying attention to what’s being said.
Not that you hadn’t ever thought of her in a romantic light; after all, could the lengths to which you went just to meet some girl you saw once be considered otherwise? But those notions had faded more and more as the two of you had talked, though they were always there, occasionally surfacing, but not with any serious thought. This changed things though.
As day turns to night, the two of you walk back to your house in the evening light. As you stand there on your doorstep, saying your goodnights, you finally work up the courage to do what you’d been thinking about all afternoon, heck, ever since you met her. As she turns to go, you say her name once, catching her attention. As she turns back to you, you quickly pull her close and return the kiss she bestowed upon you in full force, and, to your delighted surprise, she’s reciprocates. When the two of you finally let go, you’re left flushed and nervous, your heart beating a mile a minute, but she still looks as cool and confident as the first time you met her. She just smiles and tells you, “See you tomorrow” and you mumble the same thing back to her, watching as she walks off into the night again.
Neither of you say anything about it, or about your relationship at all over the next few weeks – you, not sure how to really bring something like that up; her, apparently not feeling a need to vocalize it – but your interactions definitely turn more physical. There’s less discussion and more touching, more just sitting silently enjoying the weather, more kissing, and more, well… more. It’s during this time that she starts accepting your invitations into your house, and not surprisingly, soon after that the two of you make your relationship quite intimate. Neither of you have put a name to your relationship, but with this, you’re pretty sure that this is it, the real thing.
You briefly consider proposing to her, but can just imagine how she’d burst out laughing. You decide to shelve that idea.
Your life is now complete and blissful. Who cares if your job’s boring? Who cares if most of the other villagers have the intellectual value of a walnut? Who cares if you can’t quite grasp the philosophical implications of quantum mechanics based on the poorly-written textbook that you bought from Kourindou? You’ve got a girl who’s smoking hot, in every sense of the word, and it is great.
She’s even started interacting with some of the other people in the village, talking rather than just giving them cool stares. One of these interactions was somewhat troubling though – although, admittedly, it wasn’t really with a villager per se, but it was a social interaction, which before this time, you didn’t think she really talked with anyone. It was when the two of you were coming in from the countryside that you are approached by one of the rabbits that comes from Eientei – another location in the forest, but one, you realize, you’ve never been to or anywhere near – to sell medicine in the village. The youkai rabbit delivers a strange, to you at least, message.
“Her good mood’s waning. She’s probably going to start coming after you more. Eirin thought you should know.”
After that, the rabbit leaves with her compatriots. Looking to Mokou, you see an odd look on her face, a strange conflicting set of emotions that you can’t quite decipher. Anger? Excitement? Fear? You can’t tell. You decide not to say anything about it, for now at least.
However, as the two of you lay in bed in your house, you can tell her mind is elsewhere, and remark on it, saying you notice she’s seemed constantly distracted since she received the message, and considering what you were just doing, if she was distracted during that, it must be something serious. She doesn’t say anything. You ask her if it has to do with the days that you don’t see her.
She sits up, the sheets falling down around her waist, though the serious air of the situation keeps you from admiring her naked flesh in the moonlight. She sighs and confirms your suspicions. Then she also says that those days will become more and more frequent and that you shouldn’t come to the forest anymore. You ask cautiously if this means it’s over, but she shakes her head, saying it just means she’ll have to come to the village instead. She emphasizes that you’re not to seek her out. But other than that, nothing will change. You’re worried still, but any worries left leave your mind as she climbs on top of you and the two of you make love again, and you fall asleep without a single fear.
Over the next few weeks though, the worries that plagued you that night return as Mokou shows up less and less frequently. Soon the number of days she’s gone outnumbers the number of days you do see her. And even when the two of you do meet, she always seems distant, distracted, or exhausted. You ask her again on separate occasions to tell her what this is about, but she refuses you gently.
“This is my… problem. Mine alone. I won’t let it involve you.”
This holds you off for a while, but after she’s gone for a period of a week, you decide that you need to know.
That day, you go to the bamboo forest despite Mokou’s warnings. You’ve been there so many times that it’s as familiar to you as the village, so the fear of getting lost never crosses your mind – not that it would either way, considering how intent you are on finding Mokou. It’s not until nightfall that you find her.
You spy her sitting by the creek where the two of you first talked. She’s using the water to inspect a bruise on her cheek and has a nasty-looking cut on her upper arm, and her shirt is stained with blood in several places – though you note there are not cuts or injuries there. Running over, you ask what’s happened and where she got these injuries from. As she starts to say that it’s none of your business and that you need to leave, you notice flames coming to life around her injuries then quickly disappearing, leaving her skin new and whole, and looking as she’d never been hurt. This causes you to cry out in surprise. She explains that this is part of her “immortality”, but that you really need to leave. Before you can say anything in protest though, another figure enters the clearing.
This one is a woman with long, flowing black hair, and with, what you must objectively admit despite your love, unparalleled beauty, wearing a pink kimono. Judging from the torn clothes, yet lack of injuries, you figured she had the same kind of immortality as Mokou. She has a crazed look in her eyes as she stares at Mokou.
“I’ve found you…” says the blood-spattered princess. Lights of magic and danmaku begin to glow around her. You spot a long cut under all the blood on her cheek, but as you watch, it quickly disappears; you were right about her immortality. “Time to finish this…”
“Kaguya…” hisses Mokou angrily, hatred flaring in her eyes.
You realize this must be the reason why Mokou was so injured, and by extrapolation, why she would disappear for days at a time; immortal or not, you guessed it probably took at least a day to recover from death, and even someone like Mokou would be leery about meeting their beloved beat up and bloody.
Kaguya readies her attack, the energy around her glowing hot as she raises her arm to bring it flying down at Mokou. You prepare to charge forwards and take out this foul murderer who would dare to attack your lover, letting out a howl of rage, but then suddenly you feel your collar slam against your throat, cutting off your battle cry. You feel Mokou pulling you quickly by the back of your collar even as Kaguya sends her barrage of danmaku flying down at her.
It takes a second to realize she’s not throwing you out of the way. She’s using you as a shield.
Your brain can’t even register the full scale of the excruciating agony your body feels as a million magical lights burn into you. Before you can even scream, you feel yourself dropped to the forest floor. You watch as Mokou takes the moment after Kaguya’s attack to lunge forwards, impaling the attacker with a flaming hand, an instant fatality.
“Ah… that one second advantage…” gasps the dying princess as she falls from Mokou’s burning limb, “I need… one of those…”
And she’s nothing more than a corpse on the ground – for the moment anyway. And so, Mokou is left by herself, with two dead and dying bodies, staring down with a deep, tragic look of longing and sadness. But it’s not you that she stares at, or your name that she whispers so tenderly.
And it is then, in your dying moments, that you realize the flame that burned in you for Mokou was nothing more than the tiniest spark compared the inferno that raged between these two immortals. She never loved you; she never said she loved you. You were but a fleeting distraction in the eternity of her life; a mere break between bouts of killing and fighting. She didn’t tell you to stay away for you own safety; she told you to stay away because this was her fight, her vendetta, her obsession, her passion, her love. Her true love was her hatred of Kaguya.
Maybe she’ll mourn you. Maybe. Maybe she’ll even remember you, for a while. Perhaps, a month, or a year. Maybe even a decade.
But Kaguya will be there tomorrow. And the day after that. And every day after from now until the end of the world.
You never stood a chance.
Remilia Scarlet (by E-mouse, 2008-03-12)
Much to your surprise, the chief maid of the Scarlet Devil Mansion suddenly consented to your request to try working there as a servant, out of your curiosity about the place's inhabitants.
Sakuya met you at the front gate, after stabbing the gate guard you'd caught sleeping on the job, and told you to get into uniform. You pointed out the butler outfit you were already wearing, but she shook her head and said that the mistress was rather particular about the outfit.
Crossdressing was not on your list of life goals, but at Sakuya's insistence, you were brought to a small room in the mansion and presented with one of her older maid outfits. She opened her pocketwatch briefly, and excused herself to prepare a meal. Well, hopefully it wouldn't be you, at least yet...
You reluctantly changed into the maid outfit, despite the tight fit and dread of being seen by anyone from the outside. Still, curiosity won out.
A rather staggered thud from outside of the door caught your attention after affixing the maid headpiece Sakuya had also insisted on. You called out, "Hello?"
A rather thoroughly drunken female laugh echoed from the other side of the door. "Haey, Sahuya!" she cried,
, before bursting through the doorframe, scattering wood and stone fragments on the floor with the leathery bat wings extended on her sides, somehow not breaking the massive, empty bottle of sake in one hand.
"Do yoou know waht time it iis?!"
"Wha... wha..." was your stammered response.
The girl looked up at you with a lopsided grin. "It's time to RAIPE THE MAEIDS!"
She tore off her clothes. You gave her a dumbfounded look.
Several hours later, you ended up lying on your belly in a corner of the mansion's entrance hall, quietly sobbing in mourning for your poor anal cavity.
Sakuya walked by, humming cheerfully and carrying a second bottle of sake.
"I hate you."
Reisen Udongein Inaba (by Kilgamayan, 2008-03-13)
It’s been several years since that unusually long winter when you stumbled into Gensokyo, and you’ve managed to adapt reasonably well to living in a world vastly different from the glut of modern conveniences that you were once used to. Of course, you can always go to that shop in the other forest, as it carries the occasional nostalgic item (including the piano you bought on your very first trip to make up for the one you left behind – what a pain in the ass carting that thing back home was), but at this point in your life you’ve moved on successfully and don’t really feel a need to do so. You are but a simple farmer – amazing what survival instincts even a green-to-the-world college grad (bio major fuck yeah!) can find when he is pressured into digging for them - living on the outskirts of the Bamboo Forest. It’s a good place to live for privacy purposes but not too far from the human village in the area for social (and business) purposes.
One day, you travel to the village with a notable larger-than-normal stock of crops for sale to the local vendors. As nice as the money you rake in is, the load wasn’t exactly light, and upon realizing that you haven’t had a “day off” in quite a while you decide to celebrate your harvest by wandering around the village and generally not doing any work. You are fascinated by what you see, as you had never really spent a lot of time there, and aside from the initial tour when you first arrived you didn’t have much reason to go anywhere beyond the grocery vendors. In one house, you see your original “tour guide”, still wearing the same lunch box hat, talking to a bunch of rapt-attention children while gesturing to a girl standing next to her who, from the bored look on her face to the way her hands were jammed in her pants pockets, seemed wholly uninterested in anything that was happening. A little further down the street, you run across a puppet show, which you presume to be magic as all of the dolls are hovering in midair with no visible strings whatsoever, while the puppet master (who looked oddly like a doll herself) watched them from below along with everyone else that had gathered around. Over there, a green haired shrine maiden was passing out tissues and inviting people to travel up the mountain in the distance to visit her shrine. A hike like that might not be a bad idea some day.
Eventually you wander across a pharmaceutical office that wasn’t there the first time you toured the village, and it is here that your trip comes to an abrupt end, as you happen to look inside and caught sight of the small staff of women wandering around inside it with various boxes and medicine bottles and other things. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but they were all rabbit girls. You had heard of them before offhandedly from a few of the villagers, but you had always assumed they were no different from the half-naked women you saw in those magazines you found in your parents’ room under Dad’s half of the mattress way back when. No, these appeared to be genuine rabbit girls. One in particular catches your eye, not only because her clothes and demeanor were unique (notably taller than all of her pink-dress-clad co-workers, she was wearing a black blazer with a red tie and a pink skirt while issuing directions – it seemed she was in charge), but because of her dazzling beauty. The waterfall of lilac hair, the sharp red eyes, the pervading sense of calm and collectedness (despite giving orders almost constantly), the adorably bent rabbit ears, the deliciously short skirt…you unconsciously gulp at the sight of her and are a bit surprised at yourself for doing so. Nervously, and without thinking about what you’re doing, you enter the medicine store.
As luck would have it, she ends up being the first one to notice you. “Hello there. What can we get for you?” “Uh…hi. I’d, um, like…um…” It suddenly hits you that you have zero reason to purchase any medicine, as the worst illnesses you had experienced since entering Gensokyo were a couple of colds that didn’t last more than a day or two, and that you had entered purely because you wanted to talk to this girl. Your mind and eyes race in an effort to think of and find something to purchase to mask your true intentions, but a lot of the medicines in the store are unrecognizable and a good deal of the remaining products are too embarrassing to purchase. You become increasingly aware at her staring at you, waiting for a response, the only feeling etched on her face being one of generic retail customer-response curiosity. After what seems like hours, you finally decide on a box of pills that look passable as Aspirin and decide to go for the gusto.
“Uh, oh, yes. I’d like some of-“
“HEY! Watch what you’re doing!”
Your pointing out of the desired medicine goes unnoticed, as she has turned toward one of the other rabbit girls in the store, who is struggling to stick a rather heavy box up on top of a high shelf.
Or, rather, she *was* struggling.
Several shouts of surprise accompany the unbalanced rabbit girl’s fall to the floor, and as everyone watches the wobbling box start to tip over and fall off the shelf, you instinctively dash toward the shelf and dive to the ground, catching the box before it hits the floor. A moment of silence passes before the full weight of what just happened hits everyone, and the cast of rabbits cheer your effort. The girl in charge runs over to you.
“Are you okay? Did you get hurt when you landed? Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! The medicine in that box is quite expensive and quite fragile and we would have been in HUGE trouble if it was smashed! Here, let me help you up.”
As you move the box off your arms on to the floor, she takes your hand and helps you back to your feet, a little wobbly but otherwise none the worse for wear.
“Oh, uh, always happy to help out. Thank you for helping me up, um…”
“Oh, sorry. My name is Reisen.”
“Ah, thank you, Reisen.”
“You’re quite welcome. But I MUST make it up to you for saving that medicine…I know! Your purchase today will be free of charge!”
At the word “purchase”, your original situation comes crashing back down on you. Suddenly, you notice that you’re still holding Reisen’s hand, and all hell breaks loose inside your head. Completely oblivious to the medicine you were going to buy, the rabbit girl who fell over (eventually helped up by her co-workers), and the bruises on your knee, all you can think about is the lovely smiling girl in front of you.
“Actually, well, I, uh…wouldyouliketohavedinnerwithmetonight?”
Immediately you clap your free hand over your mouth, stunned by your inability to keep your feelings where they belonged. Reisen blushed a little but blanched a good deal more and pulled her hand away from yours a couple of seconds after you asked your question. There is an awkward moment of silence – even the other rabbits at the store have stopped doing whatever it was they were doing and have their eyes glued on you – before Reisen is able to stammer out a response.
“Well, I, uh, well, it’s against store policy to, uh, have relationships with customers, um, here, just take your medicine, uh, don’t worry about paying, I’ll explain it to my boss, uh, okay, bye!”
She jams the bag with your medicine in it into your hand and practically shoves you out the door. You don’t notice when it closes or even when Reisen turns back around and starts furiously but awkwardly threatening the snickering rabbits with guinea pig candidacy for some doctor’s new experiment if they didn’t get back to work fast. All you can do is stare straight ahead and contemplate just how fucking stupid you are. Slowly, you walk home, never acknowledging the greetings from various other villagers and forgetting the medicine you “bought” until you walk through the door and realize the bag is somehow still in your hand. The rest of your day passes uneventfully, though you do have a lot of trouble falling asleep that night.
Days pass, and you gradually get over your mistake and return to your normal life, but something sticks in the back of your mind. You want to go see that girl again. You NEED to go see that girl again. One morning you decide that you’re going to go back to the village, visit that medicine shop again and, at the very least, apologize.
Reisen looks significantly more haggard than the last time you visited the store, as her rabbit co-workers look like they’ve all had a bag of Pixy Stix for breakfast. You are tempted to simply return home, as you don’t want to bother her, but one of the rabbit workers catches sight of you standing outside and immediately kills all potential for such an action by making sure (very loudly) that everyone else in the store knows that the skirt-chaser is back. With running away out of the picture, you bite the bullet and enter the store.
“Oh, it’s you again. What do you want?” Her coldness stings a little bit, but the fact that she addressed you before anyone else could despite her being overly busy (to the point of not even looking at you) is not lost on your subconscious.
“Hi, yeah. I only wanted to apologize for the other day. I was completely out of line putting you on the spot with a question like that, and I am very, truly sorry for it.”
“Duly noted. Now, would you like something?”
“Well…no, not really. Sorry.”
“Okay, then, have a nice day.”
Crestfallen, you turn to leave with more rabbit snickers ringing in your ears, but a sudden bolt of inspiration strikes and turn back around to face her again.
“Uh…could you use some help around here?”
Reisen sighs heavily and turns to look at you. She seems about ready to tell you off for bothering her while she’s so busy, but she stops for a moment and stares at you. Her piercing red eyes scan every inch of your front side, and it seems like another eternity before she speaks again.
“Actually, yes, you can. We could use your height in the restocking process. Come with me.” She points at a couple of other rabbits. “You two, you’re coming as well. It’s time for a crash training course and I’ll need your help. The rest of you, well, Kaguya help you if I come back and find this place in chaos.” She trots to the back of the store with the two selected rabbits in tow and you shortly thereafter.
The rest of the day flies by as you’re put to work almost non-stop. It’s been a while since your high school retail days and you had almost forgotten how hellish this line of work can be. As the rest of the rabbits have already made a mad dash back toward the Bamboo Forest to wherever it is they call home (where did they get all that damn energy?), you and Reisen end up being the last two to leave. She turns to you after locking the door.
“Thanks a lot for your help today. I’m sorry for how rude I was earlier, it’s just that this place is…well, stressful, to put it mildly.”
“Hey, always glad to help. It’s getting dark, though, so I should get going. I’ll see you later!”
“Okay, good bye.”
You cheerfully wave good-bye as you walk home, and are delighted to see her wave back. The trip home had never been so quick as it was that night.
You start spending more and more time helping out at the medicine shop (though never neglecting your duties at home to do so), which allows you and Reisen to get better acquainted. You are surprised to learn that her house is actually in your very Bamboo Forest (albeit tucked away very well) and the history behind it and its inhabitants is quite fascinating. You make a mental note to visit it one day, if only for the opportunity to meet this Eirin Yagokoro Reisen talks a lot about, as it’s been a while since you were able to discuss serious science with anyone. It doesn’t take long for the other rabbits to stop snickering, as your help proves almost invaluable. You notice a gradual change in the atmosphere of the store away from the stressed lifestyle everyone lived through before and toward a much friendlier environment.
Another night sees you and Reisen as the last two to leave again. You’re all set to head home when she stops you.
“Hey, do you still remember the first day you entered this place?”
“How could I forget? That had to be the most embarrassing moment of my life, and I’m sure you weren’t much better off.”
“Actually…I’ve been thinking recently about the question you asked me back then…”
Your mouth suddenly dries up.
“…and I think I’d like to take you up on your offer.”
Her decision and accompanying cute little smile turns your legs and your brain into oatmeal.
“Uh, duh, duh, duh, okaywheredoyouwanttogo?”
She giggles at your inability to form proper sentences before grabbing your hand. “Come on, I know just the place.”
Half an hour later, you find yourself sitting across a restaurant table from her, still trying to put tongue to word properly on a consistent basis. Lucky for you, inspiration strikes once again.
“You know, you’ve never really talked about yourself before. I mean, yeah, we’ve talked about your home and your job and your, well, family, but I don’t like how little I actually know about *you*. What’s it like being you?”
Reisen furrows her brow at the question. “Hmm…well, it’s fairly fun being me, since I can do stuff like this…”
She looks you square in the eyes for a moment – curiously, her eyes seem redder than normal - before startling a bit and pointing to your right.
“Oh, by the way, could you pass the salt?”
“Sure.” You pick up the salt shaker and present it to her, only to be thanked with a small laugh.
“No, silly, I asked for the salt! Why are you giving me your drink?”
You blink at the question, as you’re sure you grabbed exactly what she asked for, but after your eyes reopen after said blink you notice that you are indeed holding your glass and that the salt is on the other end of the table from where she first indicated. Dumbfounded, all you can do is look back and forth between the glass in your hand and the salt shaker to your left with a stupid expression on your face. Reisen lapses into a fit of giggling over your confusion.
“I have power over sanity. I can force anyone I lock eyes with to see, hear, smell, taste, and even feel anything I want them to. Of course, it’s all an illusion, and one which wears off fairly quickly at that, but it’s still good for laughs, among other things.”
“Wow…that seems, uh, pretty useful.”
“Oh, it is. I need to work at it more, though. I’m not really happy with how short the illusions last, but the training I go through isn’t helping as much as I’d like. I don’t know what I’m missing…”
“Haha, well, I’m sure you’ll figure something out. I have the fullest confidence in you.”
She beams at the idea. Lord, you loved that smile. Nothing in Gensokyo or anywhere else could compare.
Dinner ends some time later, and you both rise to leave. She speaks first.
“Thank you, this evening was lovely. Perhaps we should do it again some time?”
You smile at her, thinking the idea to be fantastic. Before you can tell her, though, you’re seized by a sudden impulse. You lean over to her and give her a gentle kiss.
She freezes in shock and blushes deeply before lowering her head in embarrassment. For a few seconds, you’re mortally afraid that you’ve fucked it up once again, just like that day, several weeks ago. However, as she raises her head slightly, you notice a small, nervous smile on her face. She picks her head up and her smile grows a little larger, though she is still notably flustered.
“I’ll…take that as a yes, then. Anyway, shall we take our leave?”
As you exit back out on to the main road of the village, it occurs to you to ask if she wants you to walk her home, but you quickly realize that you would most assuredly get lost trying to find your way back to your own. Sighing a small inner sigh, you bid her farewell and promise to help out at the medicine shop again tomorrow before bouncing home.
You are shocked several days later when Reisen asks if she can accompany you home. Apparently her mistress Kaguya is going to have an unwelcome guest at the house tonight and she doesn’t want to be stuck on “clean-up duty” like she usually is. Fortunately, at this point you’ve done a much better job of taming your infatuation with her, and you gladly accept her offer, completely forgetting that your place is a total shithole until you open the door and remind yourself the hard way. You notice that she seems a little put off by the mess, but nothing is said and she enters.
“So…want something to drink?”
“Yeah, a glass of water will be fine. I really should walk around more, I’m a bit out of shape.”
“Nonsense. Anyway, I’ll be right back. Feel free to wander around if you like.”
You walk through the doorway to the kitchen as Reisen nods and begins to look around. A glass of water does sound nice, actually. Might be because your mouth has dried up again. So much for self-control. You’re in the midst of pouring a second glass when you hear Reisen squeal. Forgetting completely about the drinks, you dash out of the kitchen, through the living room and into the den.
“Oh, wow! You have a piano?”
Thanking the heavens that she’s okay, you quickly calm down.
“…Yeah. I was never much good back home, so I meant to get better here, but haven’t really had the time to practice. What about you? Do you play?”
She says nothing in response. Instead, she walks over to the piano and sits down on the bench in front of it. She then looks at you.
She smiles her dazzling smile at you before turning back to the piano. She opens it up and begins playing.
The song she plays had an eerie elegance to it. It feels like it's tumbling down, down, down, into a void of nothingness, before finally hitting the bottom, when fear sets in. Its attention is constantly darting to and fro, seeing monsters that aren’t there, hearing noises that aren’t made, breathing harder and harder as its panic intensified, until suddenly there appears a small beacon of light in the distance. It moves toward that light, slowly at first, but with increasing speed, and by the time it reaches the light it tears through the opening in the void where the light was and suddenly your mind’s eye is back with the rest of you, rooted to the spot in your den, where you’d been the whole time. She closes the piano back up so quietly that you don’t even notice.
“’Invisible Full Moon’. You like it? My mother taught it to me, way back in another lifetime, and I’ve never forgotten it since, even after making my home here.”
You move over to the piano and sit down on the bench next to her, putting your hand on hers. Blushing, she looked at you, uncertain of what to do. You make her decision for her, and your lips locked as you tightly embrace each other.
You will never forget that night. You do wish there would be a more elegant way to describe it, but…the phrase “fuck like rabbits”? Yeah.
The next few days are spent in bliss. Work flies by despite the fact that you’re at the medicine shop pretty much every day now. You make the trip to her house (marveling at the sight of a huge fucking mansion the first time you see it) and meet her family, as it were. The head of the household, who is the Kaguya Houraisan you’ve heard a lot about, doesn’t seem terribly interested in you beyond the obligatory forced politeness, but you were told beforehand that this was par for the course. So it doesn’t get to you in the slightest. Dr. Eirin Yagokoro, on the other hand, seems impressed at your interest in science (but not so much as to forget to berate “Udonge” once again for not helping clean up the other day’s mess), though she laments that she always favored the chemistry aspect of pharmaceuticals and never could get into biology quite as much - not that she didn’t know her fair share.
Next is Tewi Inaba, a rabbit you recognize from her occasional trips to the store (Reisen was the only one to go on a consistent basis). Any bit of her status as the leader of the rabbits that would have impressed you is destroyed by a mischievous grin, however.
“So, tell me again, how many times have you two had sex?”
Your mouth opens in an effort to answer, but no words come out. Reisen turns beet red and grabs Tewi by the ears, drags her down the hallway, and throws her outside in a fit of rage before running out after her. Unfortunately for the both of you, the gathered rabbits are all laughing uproariously, and even Eirin has a small smirk on her face, though her eyes do betray some sympathy for your situation. Kaguya, on the other hand, makes no effort to hide her disdain for the crudely blatant discussion of something so inappropriate and ceremoniously declares that she is retreating to her room for the time being until some sense of civility can be restored in her house. This shuts the rabbits up as they all scramble to their individual tasks. Eirin apologizes for her pet’s rudeness and thanks you for coming and for taking such good care of her apprentice before following in Kaguya’s wake. With no one left around, you suddenly feel very alone, and decide to make your way back outside to Reisen, just barely avoiding getting bowled over by a terrified but laughing Tewi as she dashes back inside. Chuckling a bit to yourself, you try to calm Reisen down before she can storm back inside and do any more damage.
“That’s quite a family you’ve got there.”
Eventually you succeed, and thank her for having you over to meet her household. She wishes you the best of luck in your journey home and asks if she’ll see you again at the store tomorrow when something occurs to you.
“Wait. I…don’t know how to get home from here.”
Reisen is shocked at her own shortsightedness. “Oh! Of course! I’m sorry, I forgot all about that. Let me guide you out of this place.”
She takes your hand and you both smile as she leads the way. You are barely able to get ten feet, however, before Eirin calls Reisen back inside for something important. Reisen looks back and forth between her house and you, clearly unsure about what to do.
“Don’t worry about it, your master needs you. I’ll find my own way home.”
“But…it’s really easy to get lost…oh, I don’t know, I think I should still go with you…”
A new voice suddenly emerges from the forest. “That won’t be necessary. I’ll take it from here.”
Another girl steps out into the open, and you recognize her from the school building as the tour guide’s friend. Addressing the girl as “Mokou”, Reisen thanks her profusely for the favor granted to the house of her enemy before saying good-bye to you and rushing back inside. Though not a terribly interesting conversationalist – the only real reaction you could get out of her was a mumble that sounded suspiciously like “strictly platonic” when you asked about the tour guide - Mokou leads the way away from Eientei and back out of the forest. She bids you good night and turns to leave, but you have one final question.
“Reisen mentioned “the house of your enemy”. What’s the deal there?”
“Kaguya and I…don’t exactly see eye to eye. That’s all anyone not involved needs to know.”
“But why do one of her servants a favor?”
“They’re good people.”
You ponder this for a moment before you come up with another follow-up question, but by the time you turn to ask her Mokou has already vanished.
Reisen starts visiting your house more often, and your mutual affection grows further still (though you lament your lack of visits to her house). She almost always plays the piano while she’s there, and while her other performances are pretty good, you doubt anything she ever plays will come close to topping Invisible Full Moon, so she plays it more than anything else.
Then the day comes that will change your life forever. At the end of another work day, you inform Reisen that, sadly, you’ll be unable to help out tomorrow, as you have business elsewhere, but you’d definitely like to see her when she gets off work. She agrees and bids you good night. The next day, you dash off to the store in the other forest again, pick up a gorgeous solid gold ring, and dash back to your house in order to make some last minute preparations for Reisen’s arrival. After a time she knocks on the door and you open it for her. She is somewhat surprised to see you dressed up a little more than usual, but doesn’t say anything about it.
“Oh, today was a nightmare. It made us realize just how much you contribute to the store. I need to relax for a while. How does Cindarella Cage sound? Of course, I could always go with Invisible Full Moon again, if you’d like…”
“Actually, as much as I enjoy listening to you on the piano, I have something far more important to ask right now.”
Confused, she turns to ask you what’s going on, but before she can say anything her hands fly to her mouth and see sees you down on one knee in front of her with a small box in your hand. You open it, revealing the ring inside, and grin.
“Reisen Udongein Inaba…will you marry me?”
You can see tears forming in her beautiful red eyes. After a few seconds, she throws herself at you and starts sobbing uncontrollably.
The service itself is held at a somewhat dilapidated shrine far away from the human village (Reisen claims that “it has a rustic charm” and anyway she’s kinda-sorta friends with the shrine maiden there). Since you aren’t terribly familiar with a lot of the people in Gensokyo (especially not beyond the village), the guest list is made almost entirely of people she knows. You do at least recognize the rest of her household, along with Mokou and her tour guide friend (making sure that Mokou and Kaguya are seated as far away from each other as possible). Other apparently important guests consist of a blonde girl garbed in black and white clothing resembling that of the cliché witch getup, another blonde girl who seems shy and rather look like a doll, a silver-haired maid, a white-haired swordswoman who appears to have a ghost floating around her, a rather stoic kitsune (you don’t think you’ll ever get over how weird this place can be when it really wants to be), and a black-haired tengu who volunteered her services as a photographer. There are also a little orange-haired girl with horns and a green-haired woman with a hat that reminds you of a movie you saw once called Fantasia who Reisen doesn’t really seem to know either, but the red-white shrine maiden claims that they’re more or less harmless residents of the shrine, and the two of you have no problem letting them stay. The entire guest list is obliterated from your mind anyway when you see how absolutely stunning Reisen is in her dress. The service concludes with no problems, and you begin your lives as a wedded couple.
Reisen has since joined you in your home, though you now make much more frequent trips to Eientei to the point where you can find your way home on your own. One such trip is made at Eirin’s invite, who is experimenting in the interest of expanding the medicine shop’s inventory and wants to know if you want to watch. You agree, and with your bunny bride tagging along for a ride back “home”, you set off.
The trip is uneventful, and in no time you find yourself in Eirin’s lab. A lot of what she talks about while flies over your head, but you recognize enough of the chemical names to be able to keep up. Looking over at Reisen, you can’t tell if she’s completely dumbfounded or simply bored from having witnessed this sort of thing so many times before, but it’s rather obvious she’s merely feigning interest. You feel bad for dragging her into this, but before you can move toward her to apologize, she turns to you, smiles, and turns back to watch her master at work. That’s good enough for you, and you resume your fascination with Eirin’s experiment.
Which has taken an unexpected turn and is now frothing at a rate Dr. Yagokoro seems slightly uncomfortable with.
“Hmm…this isn’t the reaction I should be getting from this mixture…I wonder if I added things in an improper order?”
As the doctor checks her notes, your eyes wander over to the vials containing the chemicals she was using. You walk over to them and take a closer look.
“A couple of these labels look like they’ve been on these vials for a while, they’re not attached very securely…hey, Dr. Yagokoro, is it possible that some of these chemicals have outdated labels?”
“No, I check them every day just to make sure something like that doesn’t happen.”
Eirin turns back toward you as she finished talking and notices the two vials in your hands. She stops.
“Wait a minute…”
She walks over and investigates what you’ve found.
“You’re right, these are mismarked. How is that possible? I’m sure I checked them this morning…wait, they’re not mismarked, they’re just switched – “
A louder-than-would-be-liked bubbling noise from the now-unknown concoction left forgotten on the table coincides with a light bulb turning on in Eirin’s head. Her lips curl in an angry sneer.
Eirin turns back to the mixture in order to dump it and start fresh, but whatever it is on the table decides it will have absolutely none of that and begins to froth maniacally. This is enough for the doctor to assume the worst, and she starts making for the lab door.
“Both of you, follow me, get out of here, now! I have no idea what’s going to happen with that thing, but I’m sure it won’t be good!”
You immediately dash after her, trusting her word. Reisen, however, had been zoning out for the past few moments, and heard her master a second later than you did.
“Wait, what? Okay, I’m coming!”
Reisen finally starts making for the exit herself, but before even Eirin can reach it a violent explosion erupts from behind you, throwing all three of you unmercifully into the air. You feel your back slam hard into the lab wall, and hear two other similar thuds close by before you hit the ground. You need a few moments to get over your incredible dizziness before you can check on the others. You landed facing Eirin, and notice that, while struggling to get up, she’s still relatively in one piece. Turning around to check on your wife, your blood chills and you see her lying pitifully on the floor, making no attempt to get up. You scoot across the floor as fast as you can to be by her side.
“Oh my God, Reisen! Are you okay?”
She says nothing in response, but is able to crane her head enough to look you right in the eyes and smile before slumping back down.
“Dr. Yagokoro! DR. YAGOKORO! REISEN NEEDS HELP! QUICKLY!”
Eirin’s shout from behind you tell you that she’s fully aware of the situation and she runs to your side. Together, the two of you hurriedly carry the unconscious rabbit to the nearest empty room and deposit her on the bed. Eirin runs off to get her supplies while you remain right where you are, unable to tear yourself away from the love of your life. Eirin returns and requests that you leave the room so she can do what she needs to do. Initially, you refuse, but after the request turns into a demand you realize she’s right and shakily walk backward out of the room, never taking your eyes off your wife.
You end up staying at Eientei overnight. A couple of the rabbits prep another room for you to get to sleep. You try to spend the entire night lying awake, staring at the ceiling and contemplating what happened, but eventually fatigue from the night combined with your own injuries win the battle and you drift off.
You wake up with a jolt the next morning, kicking yourself for falling asleep when Reisen needs you so much. Jumping out of bed, you run for the room she was put in yesterday just in time to see Eirin walk out of it. The blood is drained from her face, but she otherwise shows no emotion.
“…How is she?”
Eirin doesn’t seem to notice you at first, but eventually she wrenches her head up to look at you. She then smiles weakly.
“It was a close call, but she’ll be okay.”
You collapse against the opposite wall, relieved at the good news. Eirin stares at you for a few moments then moves to walk away before you stop her with another question.
“May I see her?”
“May I see her?”
Eirin suddenly looks very nervous, though you can’t tell why.
“Uh…sure, yeah. Go on in.”
You walk through to door to find a brutally beaten-up but conscious Reisen lying in the bed. She has bandages around her head, neck and arms. When she hears the door open she turns to look at who it is. When she sees you, she smiles.
“Fancy…meeting you here…”
“How are you feeling?”
“I’ve been…better…I’m sorry that you…have to see me…like this…”
“Nonsense. I’m just happy that you’re okay.”
You grab her hand and return her smile. Her return grip is notably weak.
“Thank you…you mean so much…to me…”
“Do you know when you’ll be better?”
“Master said…in about a week…I’ll be back to normal…I guess it…really isn’t that bad…it just hurts like…crazy right now…I’m sorry…but I feel…really tired…”
“Get some sleep, then. I’ll take off for home and prepare it for your return.”
“…I love you, darling.”
You gently kiss her cheek, but she has fallen asleep. Fighting back tears, you exit the room, where Eirin was apparently waiting for you.
“How are you feeling?”
“Well, not perfect, but I’ve been in much worse shape. I just wish there was something more I could do for her, but you’re the expert there.”
“Anyway, I hate to bail like this, but I have to head back to my place and get it ready for when she returns. I’ll see you later.”
You start to walk off.
“Are you sure you’re all right?”
“Yeah. You know, you were in that explosion too, and I can’t imagine working all night was good for you. You should probably get some rest yourself.”
“…Yeah, I probably should. Have a safe trip, then.”
“All right, I will.”
As you finally set off to leave, you notice a lot pain in Eirin’s eyes before she turns away and trundles off to her room. You can’t blame her – that was a lot of work to do for someone who had just been blown up. You exit the mansion and head back to your house.
A week later, Reisen does indeed return home, bringing greetings from Eirin and the other rabbits. She’s still somewhat weak, however, so you advise her not to worry about the medicine shop and that you’ll take care of it with whatever other rabbits get sent there on any given day. At first she protests, but eventually she gives in.
Days pass by. You resume helping out at the medicine shop, which now has Tewi in charge. You have to admit that she’s a good leader when she puts her mind to it and doesn’t try to sabotage whatever’s going on with tricks every step of the way. It almost seems like she’s actively avoiding talking to you the first couple of days back, but eventually that idea disappears and things run smoothly in the shop. Despite various lingering injuries, Reisen’s piano playing hasn’t been affected one bit by the accident, and you spend your evenings listening to her soft melodies.
Then another shocker makes its way to your house. Rather than lounging around like usual, Reisen is standing at the door and waiting for you when you come home from the medicine shop. You note that she’s beaming, and it doesn’t take long for you to find out why.
A couple seconds of shock quickly turn into elation as you embrace her (though you’re careful not to do so too hard) over the joyous announcement. The two of you spend the rest of the night laughing and celebrating the soon-to-be new addition to your household. You suggest letting Eientei know, but she says that she’s already been there and back and they are elated. You are surprised to hear of such activities, but she reminds you that, unlike you, she can fly, and she knows her way around the forest quite well, so it was not much effort at all.
Nine months later, in the privacy of your own home, Reisen gives birth to a beautiful baby girl. Unfortunately, Eirin had an emergency house call to some mansion near the shrine where you got married, but Reisen knew enough to get through the procedure without any major disasters simply form all the time she had spent with her master. The two of you had already decided on the name Kaguya beforehand, in honor of Reisen’s mistress.
The years roll by. Reisen becomes a stay-at-home mom, as the money you get from your medicine shop work is enough to get the family by (as well as the occasionally extra from the little crop sales you still do). Little Kaguya grows up and eventually goes to school (“Miss Keine’s really nice! But, y’know what? Miss Mokou’s kinda weird.”), though it feels like an eternity watching her as she seems to have inherited her mother’s slow aging genes. Not that it matters. The three of you live a perfectly happy life together.
Today is your 50 year anniversary, and while you’re not what you once were, you can still get around well enough to want to do something for your wife, who barely looks any older than the day you married her. Bless her soul. You’ve sent Kaguya out to the village for the day to keep her distracted. Having pre-ordered your gift for Reisen a little while back, you’re able to leave her at the house under the pretext of visiting the medicine shop in order to slink away to the shop in the woods. The man working there has it all set for you, though you could’ve sworn he was looking at you funny when you came to pick it up. Dismissing it as a trick of your mind, you hurry home.
Walking in the front door, you can’t believe what greets you.
The house is dark, dirty and dusty. Trash is littered about and there seems to be zero organization.
Worst of all, Reisen is nowhere to be seen.
Calling her name, you search the house up and down, but are unable to find her. Frantically, you assume the worst. Someone must have broken in and forced her to escape. That had to be it. But where would she go?
The medicine shop. She hadn’t been back there in forever and a day.
Quickly you head out to the medicine shop, which is full of rabbits as usual, but none of them are the one you seek. You spot Tewi and flag her down.
“Tewi, have you seen Reisen around?”
All activity in the shop comes to a screeching halt.
“Have you seen Reisen recently? I think something might have happened to her.”
Surprisingly, Tewi frowned.
“You know, there are some jokes that shouldn’t be made, because they simply aren’t funny. Even I know my limits.”
“Jokes? What are you talking about? I only want to know where Reisen is!”
Tewi starts looking visibly uncomfortable.
“Cut it out, please. This isn’t funny at all.”
“If you don’t know, then just tell me. Please!”
“Damnit, Tewi, tell me where she is already!”
“I’M SORRY, OKAY? DO YOU THINK I MEANT TO DO IT? I NEVER MEANT TO HURT ANYONE! IT WAS ONLY SUPPOSED TO BE A JOKE! I’M SORRY! SHE WAS MY BEST FRIEND! I DIDN’T WANT IT TO HAPPEN!”
You are stunned as the little rabbit girl starts crying.
“Wait…what? Tewi, what are you talking about? I only want to know – “
“LEAVE ME ALONE!” Tewi runs out of the shop, tears streaming down her face. You stare after her, dumbfounded. Your mental efforts to make sense of the situation prove futile, and are eventually interrupted by a voice from behind you.
You turn to face the rabbit talking to you, who has a grim look on her face.
“Listen, we appreciate all the work you’ve done for us in the past, and we know you must have been hurt. But that…that was completely uncalled for. I’m going to have to ask you…to leave the store and not return.”
“Please don’t make this harder than it has to be.”
It is at this point that you notice the group of rabbits are all facing you and have the same looks on their face the one talking to you. You finally realize that searching here is fruitless, and you slowly back out of the store.
So Reisen wasn’t there. Where else would she have gone?
Eientei. Of course! Mentally slapping yourself for not thinking of it sooner, you speed off to Reisen’s old home. She had to be there. And even if she wasn’t, Eirin would be, and she’d know what to do.
The trip was longer than you remember it, but eventually you reach the mansion. As luck would have it, Eirin is standing right there when you open the front door, though she appears to be comforting Tewi. Eirin merely stares at you, while Tewi sobs and hides behind her master. Before you can speak, Eirin beats you to the punch.
“You know, that really wasn’t a nice thing to do to her. Rabbits are rather sensitive.”
“What did I do? I only wanted to know where Reisen went.”
At the sound of your wife’s name, Tewi’s sobs grow louder. Eirin frowns.
“Listen! I was with her at my house this morning, but when I came back with a present for her, she was gone and my house was a mess! I just want to know what happened to her!”
Tewi’s sobbing stops. Eirin raises an eyebrow.
“You were with her this morning?”
“Yeah. Today’s our 50th anniversary, and I know she told me she didn’t want me to go over-the-top in getting a gift for her, but I did anyway, and – “
“What are you talking about? How were you talking to her?”
“What do you mean? She was right there on the couch next to me!”
“No, she wasn’t.”
“Of course she was! I saw her myself.”
“…No, she wasn’t. She died the night of the explosion in my lab, remember?”
You stop mid-thought, completely floored. Reisen’s dead? She’s been dead? For fifty years? But how? You’ve been with her all this time!
“Wha…how…that’s not possible!”
“Look, I know I told you she was going to be all right, but that was only because I didn’t have the heart to tell you she was already gone. I couldn’t refuse your entrance to her room, though – I’m still surprised that you didn’t rush straight for me after exiting and try to beat me up or something.”
“But she was alive! I talked to her! She said you said she would be out and about in a week! I held her hand! I KISSED her!”
“None of that ever happened. She was dead before we even got her in the bed. Near as I can tell, the explosion rocketed her head-first into the wall, doing a serious number on her skull and spine. She didn’t last very long after that. She couldn’t have. No mortal could.”
“But…how did she tell me she was fine? How did she return home? How did we have a child together?”
“I…think I might know why. What do you remember of that night?”
You re-enact the scene in your head. The mixture started bubbling…you all ran for the door…the explosion…you hit your back against the wall…Eirin slowly getting up…Reisen just lying there…you look into her eyes…she looks into yours and smiles…
You looked into each others’ eyes.
Well, it’s fairly fun being me, since I can do this…
The truth finally dawns on you, and Eirin can tell, as she looks away from you in preparation for what could be coming next.
“…It was all an illusion.”
“…Yes, I believe so.”
“…Then…all that time…our child…it was all…”
Eirin doesn’t respond.
You stand there, shaking, as the sheer magnitude of what you’ve just realized slowly steamrolls over you. All those happy memories. Her return and subsequent recovery. Her getting pregnant. The joy of living together with her and raising a child. Getting to watch little Kaguya’s first day of school, and every day after that. Being together, as a wonderful family.
A full two-thirds of your life.
Some of the greatest joys you’ve ever experienced.
A complete lie.
The enraged scream you let forth nearly shakes the foundation of the mansion. Tewi squeals and runs away, as do all the other rabbits that have gathered around and have been watching from their hiding places. Even Eirin flinches, but she alone remains, willing to endure the incoming storm.
“ALL A LIE! NONE OF IT WAS REAL! HOW COULD SHE DO THAT TO ME? SHE SAID SHE LOVED ME! I LOVED HER! SHE MADE A COMPLETE MOCKERY OF ME! SHE PLAYED ME FOR A COMPLETE FOOL! SHE MADE ME LOOK STUPID IN FRONT OF EVERYONE I MET! WHY? WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO ME, REISEN? HOW COULD YOU?!?”
Looking around in your furor, you happen to spot Eirin, who still hasn’t moved.
“AND YOU! YOU KNEW ALL THIS TIME, DIDN’T YOU? YOU KNEW THE INSTANT I CAME OUT OF THAT ROOM! YOU KNEW EXACTLY WHAT WAS GOING ON! TELL ME!”
“…I had a very good hunch, yes.”
“YOU LIED TO ME, YAGOKORO! YOU LIED TO ME! AND YOU LET THIS FARCE PERSIST! FIFTY YEARS! FIFTY FUCKING YEARS! I’VE WASTED ALMOST MY ENTIRE LIFE ON A LIE! A LIE YOU COULD HAVE STOPPED! WHY DIDN’T YOU, HUH? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS! HOW COULD YOU LET HER DO THIS!”
“…Were you happy?”
“OF COURSE I WAS HAPPY! WHY DO YOU THINK I’M SO MAD, HUH? ALL THOSE HAPPY TIMES ARE LIES! NONE OF THEM WERE REAL!”
“…But as long as you were happy, does that matter?”
“OF COURSE IT MAT-“
“You could have lived your life without her, you know. Knowing and feeling what you do now, which would you have preferred?
She’s absolutely right.
And suddenly, your voice disappears, and all you can do is fall to your hands and knees and cry. Cry for your lost loved ones. Cry for the farce of a live you have lived.
Cry for the happiness granted by the greatest gift she could possibly have ever given you.
You don’t know how long it takes before you stop crying, but, to her credit, Eirin’s still standing there when you’re finished.
“Don’t be. Anyone else in your situation would have done the same thing.”
You don’t respond. You can’t think of anything to say. You don’t even raise your head.
“I must say, though, even I’m impressed at the quality of the illusion. Fifty years…and it was even strong enough to give you a child.”
“…You know, Udonge was always talking about how she couldn’t find what she was missing when training her illusion skills…”
“Yeah, I remember her mentioning that to me as well.”
“…I guess she finally found it.”
You smile a little bit.
“...I suppose so.”
“So, then, after all that…are you happy?”
You look up at the question. To your great surprise, Reisen is standing behind her master with a curious look on her face, but Eirin doesn’t even seem to notice her. You quickly realize that it’s another illusion.
“…Yeah. I am.”
A small smile appears on Eirin’s face. To her side, Reisen beams her dazzling smile and then fades away.
“Then I thank you for all that you did for her.”
You stand up.
“And I thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet her.”
Eirin says nothing.
“Well then. I suppose I should go home now. I have a bit of cleaning to do.”
“As you wish. Please don’t be a stranger - Eientei’s doors will always be open to you. Never forget that, and have a safe journey.”
You walk out the main door. Somewhere, off in the distance, you can hear a familiar eerie melody. You can’t tell if the sound is coming from deep within Eientei, or elsewhere in the forest, or from your own lips, or is even merely inside your head, but it doesn’t matter to you. You simply smile and enjoy the music as you begin your slow journey home.