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(…please wait coolly.)
Giving a frightened “Dai!” Cirno pushed her friend out of the fight, just in time for one of her wings to get cracked by a kick from Meiling. Facing her new opponent, the guard’s eyes were determined and uncaring. Cirno seemed to question both Meiling and Daiyousei at the same time as she asked, “What happened to everyone else?”
Daiyousei stuttered, giving Meiling time to answer. “Dead, Miss Cirno. I’ve taken care of them. Looks like we’ll be seeing if fairies regenerate in Gensokyo when they die outside of it, huh?”
Nonchalantly waving her hand, Cirno froze Meiling’s lower half into the ground, integrating her imprisonment with the floor and walls itself.
“Why are you here, Meiling?” Cirno questioned authoritatively. “The Yakumos are a given, Shameimaru and Kirisame I can see, even Yuka’s got a decent reason to be here, but you? What’s this got to do with you?”
“Promotions,” she replied, not visibly resisting her icy shackles. “Remilia made me a deal: defeat Cirno, and I get promoted from gate guardian to ‘Mansion Protector.’ I’d get to live inside, free meals, increase in wages, time off…and I won’t have to answer to Sakuya ever again. You don’t know what it’s like, do you? Answering to someone every day, always having to look up to everyone, getting treated like you don’t exist…I’d do anything to get up, get out, get anywhere except right here.”
Cirno lowered her head, sighing in sadness. “I know better than you think. But why’d you bring my friends into this? I’m the one to blame here; punish me, not them.”
Meiling’s eyes turned to steel as she glared at Cirno. “Oh, I’ll be punishing you more than enough. But I had to get your attention, didn’t I? Make sure you weren’t—“
Cirno barely had even a fraction of a second to prepare herself before the front half of her beautiful fortress was ripped away unceremoniously by some unspeakable force. Giant chucks of frigid debris were sent flying inwards, stopping a hair’s breadth from Cirno’s skin, but completely encompassing Daiyousei and Meiling and obscuring them from view. Tossing the ruined ice from her, she saw a red and green figure walking up the shattered mounds of ice like steps, a pink umbrella clutched in her left hand.
“Well, hello!” Yuka said cheerfully, waving her free hand towards the fairy. “Not too late, am I? Sorry about the mess, but this was the fastest way in! And where’d that China run off to now?”
Cirno looked to her left at a bloody pile of mush and green clothes pancaked under a frozen boulder. “I…don’t think she’ll be running anywhere for a while, Miss Kazami.”
Yuka shrugged her shoulders playfully; she couldn’t have cared less that she just killed someone. “Oh well, can’t be helped. I didn’t want her stealing all the fun, so this’ll do just fine, won’t it?” She opened her parasol and began twirling it over her head for amusement, looking at Cirno hungrily. “So, little Miss Cirno, destroyer of Gensokyo…how’ve you been? Up to you usual mischief I assume, murdering my precious flowers so?”
Cirno paused for as long as she dared to think. So this was Ms. Yuka Kazami, the Gardener of the Sun. Always cheerful, always smiling, polite in conversation…and a complete sociopath. It was said that the only things she cared about in life were her flowers and those who defiled them, but as a fellow soul who had been one-dimensionally characterized before, Cirno wasn’t about to take any rumors at face value, and certainly not with a youkai who has proclaimed and proven herself to be within the top echelon of power in Gensokyo.
“I said I was sorry, Yuka, and I’ll say it again just to make sure: I am very, very sorry that I accidentally froze your sunflowers that one time. Can’t we just forget about the past?”
Yuka laughed madly and wagged a finger at her. “Ahahaha no, oh no no no! You dear little fairies can forget about things all the time, but my flowers…My flowers never will. As long as a single petal remains, my flowers will never forget. And this flower,” she added as she pointed her parasol out towards Cirno like a sword, “this flower never withers.”
“So what do we do?” Cirno asked, knowing full well what Yuka expected of her.
“Do? We fight of course!” Yuka raised a finger to her mouth and looked up at the sky wistfully. “Now, if we do it this way, over much too quick. And that way’s no fun at all, not nearly enough payment for my poor flowers you slaughtered. Soooo…here’s what we’ll do!” She held up four fingers for Cirno to see, ticking them off one by one.
“First, no danmaku. Faaaar too inconsequential. Second, no magical abilities at all; you won’t control cold, and I won’t control my pretties. Third, one weapon only. I’ll use my parasol—“ she snapped the umbrella back into a folded position, “—and you can use, I don’t know, whatever it is you use. And fourth…” Her eyes grew bright and sadistic, folding her hand into a vicious fist. “The winner will be whoever rapes the other first. You know what ‘rape’ means, don’t you little girl?”
Cirno’s brow furrowed. So, it was going to be like that, was it? “To abuse, violate, defile, penetrate, or otherwise dominate in every meaning of the word.”
She clapped her hands together speedily like a little child. “Good girl, such a smart little girl! I can see we’re going to have a lot of fun together.”
Cirno picked up a sword-like shard of ice from the ground and held it in her hand, studying every molecule of water within the object. She altered it, reformed it, strengthened it, infused the cold blade with all the energy she could spare. There were strong metals in the world, both real and imaginary: steel, titanium, mithril, adamantium. Cirno had never heard of these metals before, but if she had, she would surely have said that the ice blade she held in her hands right now was stronger than they. The blade was angular and efficient, long yet light, sacrificing pure crushing power for finesse. She would need every inch of range she could muster against Yuka; one wayward strike from her brutal parasol would be all it would take to decide the battle.
Cirno drew her sword into a ready position, unwilling to attack first. Without any real combat experience to go upon, she wouldn’t rush in until she knew how Yuka fought. She would have to dodge, dodge and defend, defend and parry, until she saw an opening, an exploit, something she could use to her advantage. Waiting, watching, waiting—
Yuka dashed forwards with wicked speed, her parasol sweeping forwards in a violent arc. Cirno drew up her sword just in time to block, and almost wished she had dodged instead. The force of the impact sent shivers throughout her entire body, especially the sword, and brought her to her knees immediately. So this was her power! Yuka wasted no time, however, and drew her off-hand forwards to grab Cirno’s head and hurled her into the air.
“Three dimensions!” the green-haired woman pealed. “Yes! Everything’s more fun in three dimensions!” With an ice-cracking leap she jumped into the air and began twirling like a spear towards her target, who quickly regained her bearings and dashed out of the way. Yuka took mere moments to fix Cirno’s position in her fiery eyes and immediately gave chase.
(Little Cirno is preparing…)