(…are not invincible.)
After another few segments of eternity—hours or minutes, you can’t tell—Sakuya finally stops shooting and calls you to a halt. A button or two on her vest has come undone, and her hair looks a little frazzled, but otherwise she’s as prim and proper as she was when she entered the room.
“Passable,” she says unenthusiastically, looking down at you as you lean over to catch your breath. “Your tactics are showing moderate possibility for success. I doubt much more practice will improve you today in that regard. But you’ve only come halfway.”
Halfway?! You make some noise that’s a combination of a groan and a sigh. “What do I have to do next?” you ask resentfully.
“Spell Cards,” she answers calmly. “Your strongest and most creative attacks in a danmaku duel. Unlike common shots, these patterns are pre-planned to create an inescapable web of beauty and efficiency. In using them, you need no longer focus on how or what you will fire; you may only use the strategies sealed in the card until that card is defeated.”
“So…how do I go about creating one of my own?”
She points you over to your pile of books you brought with you. Grabbing them, you return to her position quickly. She draws out one of the blank cards from the pile and hands it to you.
“With a card in your hand, picture a pattern in your mind, as simple or as complex as you wish. Take in every detail, every color, every shape, every movement of every bullet you wish to be present. Give this pattern a name and a sign, something meaningful, and yet something enchanting. When you are ready, imprint it onto the paper, as if you were shooting into the depths of the card itself. The effectiveness of the spell is based on your inherent skill and comfort with danmaku; no matter how creative you may be, no matter how intricate a pattern you may imagine, only a master can produce a masterwork spell. I would recommend you start with something simplistic.”
You stare into the card. Apart from a brown border, both sides are completely black, black without casting any glare to speak of. Picture a pattern in your head, huh? Something meaningful, huh? Rummaging around the clutter of thoughts in your head, you stop on the act of sowing seeds across a newly-plowed field. The seeds then seem to shoot up out of the ground instantaneously. It’s as good a thought as any. You can see how to make such an image into a danmaku pattern: A cloud of green leafy bullets tossed outwards, growing in size and gaining more leaves the further they travel. You picture the cloud, visualizing yourself “sowing the seeds” of danmaku. A bit too dense, though; you thin out the spread a little, making it easier to handle. You know exactly when each seed will sprout a new leaf, and you can see them twirling in the wind happily. When you think you’ve got it all memorized in entirety, you concentrate hard, hold your palm up to the paper rectangle in your hand, and literally shoot into the card.
”Wood Sign: Sprout’s Awakening!”
And like clockwork, everything seems to mesh together. You don’t actually shoot any danmaku, but as you look at the card, you can see that one side shows a magically-animated image of the bullet pattern you imagined, while the other shows the description of the card in a golden hand, magically altered to mimic your own handwriting: Wood Sign, 「Sprout’s Awakening」. A seed is scattered upon the wind with care, growing in size as it is nurtured. This magic scatters many seeds.
Sakuya looks over your shoulder at the moving image of green bullets, and actually flashes you a momentary smile.
“Heh. Not bad for a first try. Seems you might do all right after all.”
“Thanks,” you answer courteously, still looking over your handiwork, your very own spell card. You still find it hard to believe that you got this far in just one session, though you guess it must be nighttime again by now. So much for fighting Cirno today, then.
“I recommend you create two more cards for the fight. While it is not a written rule, it has become generally polite for both duelists to fight with the same number of cards, and Cirno has often been using three.”
“Forgive me for asking,” you inquire, “but why would anyone agree to a duel when their opponent has more spell techniques than them?”
“Intelligence and creativity,” she replies, using those same words yet again. “Sheer number of cards does not equate to additional power. A truly skilled warrior can fight his or her opponent on even ground, or even at a disadvantage, and still emerge victorious. Remember, danmaku is not about conquest, but about a display of skill and dominance. I myself have seen a woman using only two spell cards fight and win against another using ten. Tell me then, who is the one with more skill?”
You think for a while before answering. “I don’t doubt that the woman with two possesses more skill in battle, but I think there’s more to consider than that. Declaring two cards when your opponent declares ten can show power and skill, but it can also show arrogance and delusions of grandeur. If you’re trying to prove your ability to another, why not use everything you have rather than holding back?”
Sakuya sighs. “That answer is more complex than you might think when it comes to Gensokyo, and now is not the time for it. I think, for now, we may end our training for today. Feel free to entertain yourself as you wish, and I will call on you once Cirno arrives to ‘play’.”
You nod and gather your things, but there’s no way you’ll be fighting Cirno today any more, right? Does she mean tomorrow, or does she expect you to fight in the dark?
“I appreciate all your training, but isn’t it a little late for me to be trying to fight Cirno any more today?”
Sakuya looks behind her shoulder at you skeptically as she reaches for the door handle. “What are you talking about? How long do you think we’ve been in here?”
You get out your pocket watch to demonstrate. “Well, we started at like eleven o’ clock, right? And by now it must be…” You look at your watch face, spinning it upright to read the time. “…Eleven twenty-nine! We’ve been in here over twelve hours!”
Sakuya rolls her eyes at you. “Eleven twenty-nine, A.M.
We’ve been here only half an hour, young man. Don’t think you’ll be getting out of your fight with a poor excuse like that. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have other work to be doing.”
[ ] Stop her before she leaves. Try and talk with her (specify topic and/or questions to ask)
[ ] Stop her before she leaves. Ask her if she needs any help with anything.
[ ] Stop her before she leaves. Ask her to keep training with you some more.
[ ] Let her leave. Train by yourself for a while & make more spell cards.
[ ] Let her leave. Go somewhere else (specify destination)
[ ] Something unexpected? (Write-in your choice)
[ ] You may still vote for, or create, possible spell cards for the upcoming duel
What did I just finish telling you about temptation? You’ll need more effective tactics than that to get that infernal moon into the pages of my story! >>22158
Oh ho! A discovery most interesting! >>22161
That pocket watch was found in the suit which Sakuya left for you to wear to dinner.