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As soon as we got back to Marisa's house, she turned to me and demanded, "Well?"

"Well what?"

"Well, you're from the outside right? Make that firework thing make a design in the sky like Kourin said it would!"

I sighed at Marisa's blatant rudeness before getting to work. I took the firework from Alice and placed it upright on the ground. Feeling around the bottom, I found the fuse. Something was missing though. How would I light it? I searched my pockets absentmindedly and asked, "Anyone got a way to light this on fire?"

Marisa immediately responded by pulling out a card from somewhere and I paniced.

"I only need this fuse to be on fire! Don't use spellcards!"

"Oh... well Sparking it won't work then, huh?"


"What if I use a weak doll?"

I jumped and Marisa and I turned to Alice who had just spoken. I had completely forgotten that she was there. Well, it seemed like a good idea. But who knew what the definition of "weak" was to Alice? That word definately had no meaning with Marisa though so I decided to take my chances.

"It's worth a shot... I guess..."

Alice pulled a doll from somewhere (God knows where...) and it flew down to the ground right next to the firework. It truly looked alive as it walked up to the fuse and put its tiny hands onto it. A small amount of energy formed around the hands and seemed to create a red orb that I thought looked suspiciously similar to a generic magical bullet from the games. The fuse started smoking and then a small spark of fire ignited the fuse and started the countdown. As the little doll ran back to Alice, I remembered something and warned them, "Okay.. now get back before the fuse goes to the end..."

Marisa and I were already at a safe distance. Alice, after scooping up her doll and putting it back to wherever she stored them, ran up to us as well. We watched for a few seconds as the remainder of the fuse burned off. Suddenly, it shot up like a rocket and with a loud bang, exploded into a shower of colorful light in the sky. And just before the lights disappeared, we heard a shutter click. A black winged girl with a red hat and black and white outfit stepped out from behind a tree and put the viewfinder down from her eyes.

"That's definately going in the next issue of Bunbunmaru: The Outside World Creates Danmaku, Too."

They call it danmaku here, too? That's... kinda weird.

The last bit of light from the firework faded away as I realized who it was that had just arrived. By that time, Marisa was already saying, "Oh, Aya! Good timing! Where's this week's newspaper?"

"Right, here you go. Thanks for subscribing to Bunbunmaru! By the way, what was that thing that made that pattern? It looks like a good news story to me."

"It's a firework. Go ask him about it."

Marisa pointed to me and walked off into her house, opening her issue of the newspaper. Alice, since she found out what the object she found was, left as well, probably returning to her house to do whatever the heck she usually does. So it was just me and the tengu, Aya Shameimaru, standing around outside of Marisa's house. Predictably, she took a notepad and pen out and walked up to me.

"Do you mind if I interview you? It'll be quick since I have to finish my deliveries by today."

I shrugged.

"Eh, sure. I don't have anything better to do, anyway."

Aya looked delighted and started her questioning with, "First off, what was that object that created the danmaku and how does it work?"

"Uhh, I think Marisa told you already, but it's called a firework. As for how it works, I'm not too sure. I only know how to use it."

"So how do you use it?"

"Just light the fuse on fire. You should stand back afterwards because it makes a small burst of fire to get it into the air."

Aya took some notes while muttering, "I see, I see," and then continued her questioning, "Alright, can you tell me a bit about yourself? And how you got into Gensokyo? I think the readers might be interested in that sort of thing as well."

"Ummm... there's not really anything to tell about myself. As for how I got into... wait, how did you know I'm from outside Gensokyo?"

"Oh. Ahahaha. I've actually been following Alice since I saw her with that weird thingy. My instincts told me it might make a good story... so anyway, please continue. You got into Gensokyo by...?"

...Is that normal for a reporter?

"Uhh, I'm not sure how I got in though I strongly suspect I was spirited away by Yukari Yakumo."

Aya wrote some more things down and put away the pen and notepad.

"Okay, thanks for your time. I gotta go and finish these deliveries. See ya!"

She jumped up while holding onto her hat and flew away really quickly. I wondered what sort of story was going to come from that short little interview as I walked back to warm myself up in Marisa's house. Marisa herself was sitting at a desk reading the newspaper and ignored me as I closed the door behind me. I walked over and bent down to look at the headline: Snow Spirit Discovered in Kourindou Freezer.

I laughed in my head. What kind of headline was that?

I woke up at around noon the next day since Marisa made me work quite a bit to earn my keep. I would've slept longer too, but several things exploded outside and shortly after, the front door slammed open and Marisa stormed in, complaining, "Why are there always these stupid fairies trying to attack me whenever I go somewhere?"

I got up (from the floor) and peered outside to see that there were several human-ish things with wings flying away rather quickly and one on the floor that wasn't moving. I kind of felt sympathetic towards it... that is, until I remembered that fairies had tried to kill me before. Marisa was still rambling on angrily about them when I asked her, "Where did you go anyway?"

"Huh? Oh, just back to Scarlet Devil Mansion. No one noticed this time. And speaking of that weird place, how did you, end up as a guest of Remi's, anyway?"

There was a long pause as I searched my brain for what I probably should never have forgotten before something clicked in my head.

"Oh, crap! I was supposed to wait for Reimu there!"

"For what?"

"For a way back outside and to my own home! Now I'm screwed!"

"Well... you could always go to the Hakurei shrine and wait there. She'll have to go back eventually right?"

"Oh, that's right. We should go then!"

"'We'? I'm not going with you... it's no fun there without her. And I have better things to do."

Somehow, Marisa was able to convince me that I could and should go by myself. The only thing she gave me was the direction to the shrine. I had no food, no drink, and definately no protection. And so, I found myself walking through the Forest of Magic, cursing at my stupidity and hoping to reach the shrine within a day. I knew my chances of reaching it was slim to none, but I had no other choice. Marisa had refused to take me for some incomprehensible reason.

Maybe I'll meet another relatively friendly person. Hopefully...

But knowing my luck, fairies or youkai would find me first and I'd end up as the subject of a killer prank, or just simply as food.

And then I walked into a tree.


Now I could've sworn there was no tree there a moment ago. I wasn't so deep into my thoughts that I wouldn't see where I was walking. I looked around and realized that all the trees had suddenly just stopped existing. There were no trees anywhere in sight except for the one I had walked into.

What the heck? Is there some sort of magic going on?

"(Who's there?!)"

Or that's what I tried to say, but my voice wasn't working now. I could feel my throat vibrating as I shouted with all my might yet no sound came out of my mouth. I decided to try to find the perpetrator; she couldn't be far if she was affecting me this severely. Afterall, I hadn't heard a spellcard declaration - no one I could think of could do this without a spellcard. As I walked around, I ran into another tree.


Again, no sound. The tree appeared out of nowhere as I walked into it. And then, I realized what was going on... The trees had stopped reflecting light, and sound waves from my vocal cords weren't being propagated. Someone, or rather two people were manipulating light and sound. And undoubtly, one last person had detected my presence. This was definately a cruel prank that only Sunny Milk, Luna Child, and Star Sapphire could think up and carry out.

Well... at least the prank's not going to kill me... I think...

For several minutes that felt like hours, I slowly stumbled around with my hands outstretched in front of me as if I were blind, hoping to find the source of the magic. Whenever one of my hands came into contact with something that felt like bark, I felt my way around it. Apparently they found it funnier if the trees only reappeared if I planted my face into them. Sometimes the trees were smaller than usual; my hands missed the trunk right in front of me and I crushed my nose against the rough bark. I imagined them laughing at me in their hiding spot where they could see me clearly. And I wouldn't be able to hear them - Luna's power would make sure of that.

But to my surprise, loud laughter suddenly rang out to my left.

"What the...?"

Hey, I can talk again.

The laughter stopped just as abruptly a split second later with the faint sound of a someone falling on the ground from somewhere up high. All the trees appeared around me in their usual places and I saw that I was mere inches from running my face into another one. In surprise from its sudden appearance, I sort of half-jumped, half-stumbled back and tripped over myself. As I lied there, rubbing my sore face, I heard someone walking towards me through the underbrush.

"Are you alright?"

I tried to sit up to see who it was and started feeling faint. Apparently, the two hours of nonstop walking in the forest followed by the multiple semi-self-induced blows to the head were taking their toll. I was able to get a blurred view of a girl wearing a lot of blue and an oddly shaped hat before I slipped out of conciousness, thinking stupidly, Hahaha... what a funny-looking hat...

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