“HA! What?” laughed Remilia. She planted her feet apart, stomping down and making a splash. She let her wings out again, picking up a gust and a wave of water. “Whatever you’ve got in store for us, you must understand... there is nothing that myself and mine can’t have done! Impossible requests!? Say nothing of them! Throw whatever you want at us... it isn’t going to matter!”
She began to glow scarlet. Rather, her power was now emanating off her body like slow and curling flames. Gen felt a smile growing on his lips. Remilia met the immortal’s eyes, grinning broadly.
“Houraisan Kaguya...!” she bellowed. “I’ve had enough of how you talk! If you won’t return to the moon... then I will drag you down to Earth!!”
A strange and lavender crystal began to glow near the Undying Princess’s feet. Seeing it, Gen noticed four other artifacts orbiting the girl. Before he could comprehend them, the awe of an unknown age erupted out from the Princess’s back, and his Mistress took flight.
It was light that reminded him of refraction, and it fired out with the intensity of cannons. Keeping up with his Lady would ordinarily be impossible, but as his Vampire Mistress took stock of the lights their opponent was casting, he realized that she was keeping her movements slow. He
was an anchor.
But, his Mistress looked thrilled still. She was not bothered by the weight he saddled her with.
No... if anything, as she’d said before they’d entered this inner place: she needed him.
He looked at the Moon, and thought of the time.
Kaguya showed no hesitation, and though she still had an air of pleasantness about her, her first spell was purely aggressive. Its pursuit put them over water, flying past as beams split it aside below and behind them. It almost seemed to stake the ground with light when it struck, and it shook
everything around them. Did Mokou come head to head with this when the two fought?
It was in every sense majestic. It was in every sense awesome. His Mistress seemed impressed... almost, appreciative. She showed this in how she returned favor to Kaguya: with her own devilish power—bullets, blood, and hellish barrage.
While Kaguya dodged what Remilia bombarded her with, Sakuya spoke to him behind their Mistress’s back.
“She’s caught on—I’m certain of it,” the head maid whispered. Though she kept an eye steady on their Mistress, he gathered that his friend was referring to Kaguya.
“Is that something you can feel?” he asked.
“No,” she replied, shaking her head a touch, “it’s something I’ve figured out. Would she be looking at the moon for this long if she’d been forsaken from it? She has to have realized, or perhaps heard from a rabbit, that the night isn’t ending.”
“... And? Can she do anything about it?”
The three of them split apart as a laser marked a path of power between them. Gen looked over to see a veritable dome of spotlights surrounding the princess of the moon. Her hand was raised, and presently she seemed amused. Her stadium of lights was followed by an avalanche of crimson stars. Over her shoulder, a queer and ugly bowl was billowing what seemed to be smoke.
They all reconvened soon enough, with Remilia looking behind herself to be sure where her humans were... and of what they were saying. Sakuya chose to whisper.
“I can’t know if she can, but that’s
what I feel,” she told him. He squinted, and leaned a bit forward—trying to ask her to explain what she meant. “She feels a little familiar,” Sakuya said, “I believe she may be able to undo this.”
Another volley of lasers came, casting them all apart once more, and as it did Gen’s heart pounded. Not for narrow avoidance, not for the might of Kaguya’s spell, but for utterly unsettling fear.
Gen landed in the water on his own, flying backward as a beam of light sought him out. Water flew up all around him, the battlefield reflected in every drop that he could see. The moon, too, was there. Time
... they already did not have any time. If they were
“outside”, and if time ran out... it was obvious. It was very obvious what would happen.
Gen continued to fly in reverse, minding the magic chasing him. Kaguya had them all in a dance, and was lackadaisically directing her second spell at each and every last one of them. He gathered: it wasn’t that she didn’t see them as a threat, rather it was clear through her posture and poise that she respected the lot of them who had made it unscathed to her. She, at the moment, was having fun
. So was his Mistress, in fact. His Mistress actually seemed very absorbed and now, as he remembered the time he had seen her wing taken by fire on the balcony—
He took to the air again as a hail of stars came upon him and then collided into Sakuya, bringing his back against hers. It was no crash—she had meant for them to meet there. Below the two, their Mistress landed with flair. She brought her hands before her chest, and began to summon a grand cross of red light. He struggled to process all that was around him, however.
His colleague gripped at his sleeve, and tugged him to attention.
“Lady Patchouli prepared you,” she said. “Don’t let any harm come to the Mistress...! You and I are here, and we are here out of devotion!” He looked into Sakuya’s face, feeling that his own was pale. Hers was sincere, direct, and invigorating. “I trust you, Gen!” she said, and before he could blink he found himself, and Sakuya, behind their Mistress’s back again.
For the red Remilia summoned, Kaguya summoned more red in return. Fire blazed around her, and a small bit of cloth began to shudder beside her. It looked like a forest fire in the air—the Princess seemed to know no limitations, and while she aimed a stream of flame toward them – and his Mistress aimed her own scarlet might right back – he remembered again the night he had first seen this girl. They had never explained the rules to her properly... and Kaguya was not at all beholden to the whims of the Shrine Maiden.
This torrent of fire burned with true flame. The magic she used was undoubtedly designed to bring about death.
The water below them burst and steamed as bullets and columns of flame pounded into it and erupted from it. He found his hand on Remilia’s left shoulder and Sakuya’s hand against Remilia’s back as the three of them, as a unit, navigated the moon princess’s third “request”. Remilia fired back unceasingly, and he could see that she was deliberately keeping to Reimu’s rules. That pride of hers greatly ebbed his fears.
Her wings spread again. He and his companion let go of her briefly. Any and all fires died for a moment around them with the might of her devil limbs... A card was betwixt her fingers, and a spear was soon summoned to her hand. She held it aloft, and threw it at once.
And for once, thrill flashed across Kaguya’s face as well.
The spear – avoided – collided into the ground below and cast up another wave. Kaguya’s fire had followed her where she had moved out the way. Her stream, briefly interrupted, now returned redoubled. He grabbed hold of Remilia’s shoulder again, and Sakuya again put her hand to their Mistress as well. And so, the parties traded blows.
Now he found his heart pounding from exhilaration. Remilia was moving with something a bit closer to her natural speed, and Kaguya seemed sincerely engaged. The air was always trembling, and both Princesses found themselves struck in the ensuing chaos on multiple occasions. Neither were deterred. They fought like monsters—and of course, at least one he could say was
. Still, even what he’d seen when the sky had been shattered could not compare to what he was witnessing—feeling
There was soon a tunnel of flame surrounding them. They barreled through it and passed the Princess by, and after they did so Remilia threw at her another spear. It took away the fire and took a great deal of cloth from Kaguya’s sleeve. The fire returned soon, however, and a tunnel again arrived around them. As always when his sense of risk was at its zenith, Gen now could feel the pounding of his heart hammering into his throat. He had never moved like this before. He had never really experienced the power of a youkai so directly, so vicariously. He afforded himself a small glance at Sakuya. Sakuya... afforded a glance at the moon. Knowing that he would soon need to use that moon, he put his hand to one of his tomes, and focused on the battle raging around him.
The night was “over” a long time ago.
Outside the House of Eternity, past the forest and near the Lake—in the shadowed and now smoke-filled halls Scarlet Devil Mansion’s Library, Patchouli Knowledge remembered that.
The night had ended, and what was happening now was a struggle to hold on to the dark.
Around her on the ground—around her in the air, the maids and her red-haired summon were hurriedly following the directions she had given them. There was not much that she could do—Remilia hadn’t returned, and her own grasp of temporal magic wasn’t... ideal. It was never ideal for those without some kind of innate ability to control it. Time was always a force that refused to be brought to heel.
But tonight, it needed to be
. Sakuya can do some to hold the day off in my absence, but it won’t be enough,
thought the Magician as she peered out over the ritual she had prepared to stop the night. Fairies were pulling materials from other parts of the library into a void circle at its center—the magic holding the dawn back. That shrinking hole, surrounded by dimming crystals and fading fires, was all that was left for her contribution. That frustrated her... however, as she counted the minutes and hours, she thought on who she had sent with her dearest friend.
Sakuya alone would not be enough, but with her student... there was some safety.
Patchouli stepped to the middle of the magic she had made, and thought only this as she stared into the starlight shining out from the void circle now below her: Please, Gen. Please, Sakuya.
The Sun was unceasing. The Moon was fleeting.
Above the pool of Eientei’s inner sanctum, it was a rush of bullets and heat; and both warring parties found themselves moving with flame at their heels and called from their hands. And, each of their spells finally cut out. The Princesses had kept up their most red spells for what may have been an hour, and may have been more. What remained, at any rate, was certainly little. Falling down into the water below them again, the one Dead and the other Dying both found themselves kneeling in tattered, torn, and skin-baring clothing. Kneeling, yes... but only Houraisan Kaguya was panting.
The pool rippled and shimmered around them. It had been quite thoroughly damaged already. Now, Houraisan Kaguya spoke up as the echoes of their powers faded out.
“Heheh,” she chuckled first. Her hand was over her chest. “We of the moon turned some on the Earth into monsters, to regulate the Earthlings’ impurity. But, that’s all over now.”
“What are you talking about?” Remilia fired back. Her voice was still clear.
“The Earthlings have sealed the monsters by themselves,” Kaguya said. “Now, all that’s left of them are creatures who don’t know how to do anything but attack humans as part of some old contract.”
Gen felt shaken. He could tell that his fellow human felt the same.
But as always, their Mistress remained firm.
“Our current daily life of drinking tea is much more enjoyable,” she replied. “I don’t see what’s wrong with that.”
For a moment, Kaguya was silent.
“Gradually, the Earthlings lost their fear of the moon and its night,” she continued. And, she looked into their eyes. “They became more and more arrogant,” she said. “The night no longer requires the light of the moon. The shorelines have no relation to the tides’ ebb and flow. And they even say they’ll invade the moon itself in the end, don’t they?”
“Hmph. I’ve got no idea what those worthless humans are doing,” Remilia dismissed her. “But you’re from the moon, right? You seem bothered by it, but also too afraid to return against the moon’s will and stop those humans yourself.”
Kaguya fell silent again, and reflected.
“I know when a person faces fear,” said Remilia. “I’m insulted that what you’re fearing right now does not seem to be me
, but...” Remilia smiled toothily, and began to stand again. “I’m getting there, aren’t I...?”
The Princess of the Moon grit her teeth.
“Stand up,” said Remilia. “You still have two more requests I need to fulfill.”
So, Kaguya stood. A shell floating at her feet made an unnerving sound.
Above them, it looked like a dream catcher had formed—one to catch the dreams of giants. It seemed like daylight was cast from the formation, and it angled down to try and take the vampire and her companions. Remilia once more beat her wings, and the beams gave chase.
Looking up through the new lattice that shone over his face, Gen began to speak to the moon. Be careful of the moon’s light
, his Master had said before they’d left. But not too careful...
She’d told him that, a magician was a person who commanded the world, and on one’s dark path light should ne’er dissuade him.
With the moon’s true light filling his pupils, he felt he understood all that had been said about the Lunatic night.
However, he could not be afraid.
He continued to call to the moon, and time began to bend around Sakuya’s body.
“It’s you who’s stopping the night, isn’t?” Kaguya asked while her light dogged them. She was standing straight, and unflinching, as Remilia’s return magic beat into the ground surrounding her, cratering and disrupting the waters. “A shoddy, half-spell if I have to admit. With my spell to manipulate eternity, I’ll tear it all away.” Try it...!
thought Gen, and a clone of the moon came to his hand as a bubble of time formed around himself, Sakuya, and the Mistress Remilia.
A bullet struck near Kaguya’s feet and forced her to take flight. The brilliant light of her fourth spell made the night glow as day—reminding him of the Master Spark his Master had made to save him. A perfect reminder. He swore that he would do everything he possibly could to shield his Mistress, and began to feed his spirit to the miniature moon.
While they rolled over and under those full and vibrant rays of power, he noticed that perhaps his Mistress had been putting on a show on the ground. She was a bit slower. She was almost steaming. Rather, a bit of smoke was lifting from her skin. The moon above was beginning to break, and she had also been awake too long.
The haggard immortal and haggard undead continued to slug at one another with everything that they had, impressing both humans with their preternatural endurance. They were spilling each other’s blood now. They were truly obliterating the artificial earth below, now. Although the cascade of Kaguya’s magic was certainly trying, Remilia gave not an inch with the might of her own. With sweat dripping off their noses, they settled in the sky with the fractured moon betwixt. Sunlight was undoubtedly bleeding through, and warded off by the shield of Remilia’s maid and the night of Remilia’s ward. Remilia herself only saw the end in Kaguya’s eyes.
... had grown terribly hot.
A haze had filled up the air between them. While the end was visible, too, in Kaguya’s eyes, something else was there too. When she looked at Remilia Scarlet, she could swear that she saw fire. Her heart was beating. Remilia’s was not. Calmly, the vampire spoke to her.
“You won’t come down without a fight,” said Remilia, her voice now plainly heavy, plainly slow. “I had a little hope that you wouldn’t bring me to daybreak.”
“Are you... afraid, too?” Kaguya asked her, and Remilia shook her head.
“I only feel disappointment,” said Remilia, “in this fellow princess’s stubbornness
Kaguya winced. And, after a moment’s hesitation she lifted the branch she had always been holding above her head.
“Do not... look down
on me...!” the Princess shouted.
And, Remilia frowned.
“You idiot,” she said, “it’s plain for anyone to see that I’m looking straight at you.”
“Branch of Hourai...!” yelled Kaguya, and her final artifact gave light. Like a river, magic flowed out of that branch, and quickly filled the air. The moon then split.
And Gen stared transfixed.
This aura was...
Was it “purity”...?
Heaven’s light surrounded them as day began to break. Gen huddled nearer to his Mistress’s back, and saw Sakuya’s fist gripping against it. Their Mistress never faltered, even as the smoldering of her flesh spread all the more.
Had he ever seen such a rainbow...? The Princess Kaguya painted the sky with a broken prism... A hundred and a thousand spheres and more rebounded the floor and firmament. When it all came—When they all turned swift and practiced through the chaos of Royalty’s strength, Gen came to realize that he and Sakuya had kept themselves undamaged until now and praised himse— —?
As he thought that, he took stock of his Mistress’s body once again.
... Had she not only served as their sword, but their shield?
... The heat in Sakuya’s face gave him the answer.
They followed her wherever she went, and defended her in return as she continued to fight, a new and overpowering spear in her hands.
And the moon was fully sundered, and Day broke through with glory.
Their Mistress halted, took their attention, and she screamed out—
With her teeth together—
But her teeth not grit—
She grinned and commanded them with only two words: “GO ON...!”
Gen at once threw his coat around her—
Sakuya at once held her own heart— A black and undying night was born between all three, and like that they faced the encroaching dawn.
Kaguya’s face broke its pain and worry at the sight. She looked upon the trio with her brow constricted, her mouth open—breathless. What she now saw was what she had never seen before.
And, Remilia only continued to grin as the long-awaited day threatened to bathe her, every ray of light unsuccessful in its attempt through the night.
The princess of the moon grew once more determined, and lifted her branch up again.
The Devil would not be brought down; no matter what she sent her and her followers’ way, they dodged it all within unison—with all care—and with total precision. Remilia would keep her promise. Her spear was taking her magic—building in size and destructive power. And the Princess knew: that would be the tool to drag her down to Earth.
She fought while her lights and the Sun’s mixed and grew so bright as to be blinding. The Dead Princess continued. Her companions remained steadfast.
And what was more, suddenly a knife was in Kaguya’s left shoulder; a bullet of sunlight had struck her right.
Peering through the glare, she saw the maid and manservants’ free hands outstretched, and a barrage unique to each readying behind them—extending out above. They had once more all three settled down to the waters below, and their aim was very clear.
Remilia pointed her spear at the sky; at the Sun; at the Princess of the Moon.
Was that the Spear of Odin which never missed its mark...? She’d missed with others in their fight but this... This felt much like “fate” to the immortal.
It was unsettling. It was... awful, to her. There had been thousands of years that no such thing as fate had played any part in her life. Her time had stopped, and so the ends of time ordained by fate were altogether foreign for her.
To meet it, here—
To not want it at all, but face it all the same—
Tears in her eyes, she wanted to scream, but found she couldn’t shout out anything.
The vampire pushed her left foot back, and spread her wings to further fix herself. She held her red spear steady, and a ray of crimson light sparked off of it.
The volleys of the other two came on either side of their target, and Kaguya felt at once walled by bullet and blade.
Without a word, Remilia gripped her weapon firm, winds rushed by wild and free... and from the rod a great blast to reach the sky was sent out, collided with the girl forsaken by the moon, and flew beyond to meet the Morning Star.
It was as if that very star had collapsed. Their world was bathed in red, and all auras and bullets and blades were burned entirely away. And, in the sky that was left, a scarlet spot could be seen clear upon the Sun.
Sakuya was silent.
Gen was silent.
The red all faded, and Princess Kaguya began to fall, plummeting finally down. She landed in a heap of cloth, crags, and water.
Gen looked down at his Mistress. She had easily donned his coat; and though it was much too large for her... he’d thought her very cool to be seen in it in those last moments as it had danced mad around her. Her spear was gone, and now she was retreating more into his robes. The Sun was
shining, after all. He offered the vampire his arms, and she accepted: allowing him to pick her up, in his robes, and have him carry her for now while nested in the oversized article. Helpfully, Sakuya put it closed for them, and he left the sleeves unfilled to keep his Mistress secure. His reproduced moon, and Sakuya’s bubble of time, were for now still manifested—but it was, of course, only
for now, and he at least knew little magic was left within him. Now his Mistress turned and looked to the radiant morning from under his chin, peeking out from his collar and from beneath the brim of her cap.
“That’s two,” she said, as she got comfortable against him.
“For day and night, I have left my mark in the sky.”
--End of Chapter 24: Imperishable Night II--
image sources: https://www.pixiv.net/en/artworks/86298249 https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/2730820 https://www.pixiv.net/en/artworks/90850533 https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/3339645 https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/3442675 https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/3515286