Anonymous 2013/10/06 (Sun) 01:38 No. 1232 ▼
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The air had cooled. Summer's warmth had begun to fade as fall settled itself into the harvest god's hearth. Even as the land changed, from the the shrine, it seemed as if nothing did. From atop the mountain, I could stand on the torii, and trace the weathered stone steps down to the human village. The forests were alight, dressed in their fall robes. The gold colors spread, rolling in brown and yellow hues as the Forest of Magic cut away into the valley river, rushing down from Youkai mountain. Even so far away, I could see the outlying farms, the fields of rice and grain that spread in their own wandering paths around the village walls. If I squinted, I could see farmers loading their wagons, pulling out preserved stores in preparation for the fall harvest. Guards patrolled as the farmers went, acting as the early defense for the village. I felt sorry for Kotomine's men; the villages most prominent officers were also the butt of the fairy's jokes, especially those who's routes took them by the Misty Lake. The cooling air must have excited Cirno. Even from my perch, I could see on the lake, a giant crystal the fairy had erected for her fun. Hopefully, it'd resolve it's self. I didn't need the fairy invoking the anger of the merfolk or Suwako. Rather, maybe I should thank her. Trouble for the rivals is never unwelcome. I took a deep breath, letting my senses reach into the border, scanning the country. I felt nothing amiss. She wouldn't be returning to me today.
I floated back to the shrine. As it changed, it was no different from the year before. Incidents came, factions arrived to the land, and arguments brewed, but as she oft said, the land, our land, was the paradise it had always been. Gensokyo. It was our paradise. And it would be so as long as I lived. I spared a glance towards the donation box as I passed by. The days when I relied on the donations alone were far in the past. She'd always see to that. Yet it still held a place in my heart. Even now, I still felt my heart jump when the sound of coins or paper bounced in it's core. A little extra spending money was never bad, though, if I were to be honest, money was something we had far too much of. A running breeze ran by me, bringing with itself a fresh arrival of leaves, leaving the shrine grounds a mess once again. I sighed, reaching for the broom; I had yet to sweep today.
The setting sun set the valley ablaze. The light spilled over the forests, drenching them in soft shadows as it broke the curves between the mountains. Far off, the Fall of Nine Heavens glimmered as the rays bounced off its rushing stream. I poured my self tea, pouring it slowly from the pot, making sure the flavor would properly settle. It was a peaceful moment and I savored it, knowing it'd be soon broken. I could feel in the border, the fairy brats moving around the shrine's forest. The leaves, I had gathered them into a large pile in the afternoon. And then the magic popped and I heard Sunny Milk cry out as she fell to the ground, ofuda slapped on her forehead from my trap.
"Stupid Reimu! I just want to hug your leaves!" The sound of gibberish floated my way, as Sunny's sisters dragged her away. I smiled. Today was another peaceful day.
The morning light filtered through the window, sun beams warming my cheeks as they fell on me. My body felt warm, my hand especially so. I turned fruitlessly, wishing for sleep to reclaim me, only to find it had flitted away. Reluctantly, I sat up, and huffed, blowing my bangs out of my eyes. The sheets were a mess, the half next to me haphazardly strewn about. I sniffed the air. Even now, I could taste her faint perfume, lingering - I wrapped the sheets around me, and giggling, let my self fall, lips curved in contentment. It felt nice, surrounded by her warmth, enveloped within her lavender scent.
The cold air emptied my thoughts as it rushed around me, carrying my worries away as I flew. Nothing could touch me as I flew, the sun kindly telling the cold air to, "fuck off," as it graciously warmed my back. I let go of my self to the magic holding me afloat, meandering from side to side, before scooping over the misty lake. I laughed as the merfolk raised a rabble as I passed by, leaving wakes in the formerly still lake. I giggled at Wakasagihime's indignant rage, and blew her a raspberry before I looped back into the clouds. She'd tell me I was being childish with my antics, and I'd have to agree. Then again, I admonish her plenty for her own mischief. If she were here with me, she'd join in. No, she'd make it worse to relieve her boredom. Yet, even alone up here, I could feel Gensokyo speaking below me, telling her stories; I let her tales take me, meandering through the sky in lazy arcs.
"Yes, let's begin. Secretary, please read us the minutes of the previous meeting."
"Of course Chairman. A regular meeting of the Village Committee of our Town was called to ord-" I let the droning speakers wash themselves out, different frequencies of boring colliding and meshing into an anti-tone that warped time itself. The Hakurei served as peace keepers and diplomats, working with the human and youkai factions. Though, if mother's journals were of note, most of the "diplomacy" took place with her fists. A seat on the Village's committee was reserved for my family; it had been since the village was founded.
"Seconded? We move to vote on resolution R-13-201, description of which is recorded by Lady Heida," I smiled at the young historian. The girl was bored, eye twitching as the elders went through resolution after resolution. I turned to my own notes. Mother would have been dismayed. Fancy scribbles adorned the page, sketches of flowers and landscapes interspersed through the pages. Boredom had set in far long back. Nothing I could do but suffer through the meetings as the council debated on the village's yearly budget, as usual, to no avail.
I found my self wandering the town square after the council meeting. Akyuu had bolted the moment the meeting ended. I wished the young girl luck in escaping her retainers for the moment. She had looked exhausted as the meeting ended, half asleep on her scroll table. Around me, the village had entered its peak. I flicked my parasol above, letting its shade shield me from the afternoon sun as I walked.
Villagers were streaming in to the market. Shopkeepers set up stalls along the square, selling their goods beneath colorful tents. A spinner sat quietly, tending to her needles, as her neighbor boasted about the quality of his woodwork, his painted masks on full display for the upcoming festival. I spotted Kosuzu over at her library's porch, animatedly talking to Akyuu in between stacks of her favorite books. Byakuren was tending to her disciples, mothering over one pink haired girl as she helped her meditate. Further off, Cirno was half-fluttering, half dying of laughter next to Keine as the teacher yelled at her boyfriend. He seemed to be doing the best he could to hide himself within his fancy hat and robe. A few months back, he had begun to write about his stories in the Bunbunmaru but it'd had been months since he last published anything. I hoped this admonishment was over that. The village had been clamoring for more of his writing for weeks now.
Nearby, Mokou stood out as a sore thumb at her teriyaki stand, her silver hair tied up in a tight bun as she worked. The cart was parked near the wealthier and established stores. Maybe it was appropriate. The woman had been nobility for over a millennia. The tailors, the clothing shops, even the jewelers were open and drawing a fair crowd but they were dwarfed by the numbers the newest shop was bringing in. Meiling's adopted daughter and her fairy had a knack for business it seemed. The girl's life seemed to be righting it's self around under gatekeeper's care ever since her father had disappeared. Around the corner, Marisa's father had opened up shop as well, his doors open to the fall breeze.
"'lo there, Reimu. You be free fo' a moment?" He called out to me as I strolled by.
"Of course Mr. Kirisame, do you need help with anything?" I stowed my parasol as I walked into the store. The large man was jovial and good natured, but as stubborn as his daughter. The two had butt heads more than once in the village, over some trivial spat or the other. Such was fate when a parent wished for their child to follow their own path, and the latter was determined to decide her own fate in life.
"Yes, I've been meanin' to ask, you seen my daughter 'round? Somethin' been goin' on in the village and the supernatural has always been her speciality." His voice was hushed as he led me through the isles. "Been an erie feelin' the last few nights. People been findin' them selves sleepwalkin' at the oddest hours and not rememberin' what they were doin' before."
"Think it's a specter or the sort? If you have any clues of its whereabouts, I could seal it now." My mind quickly settled into its business track. I made note to look into the village, maybe Keine would have more information.
"I've been discussin' it with the Fujiwara gal. She ain't too worried yet but she reckons there isn't enough a trail to find the source of it yet. She's got a tight eye on the forest though. Said she'd rope the werewolf into helping her sniff around." He disappeared behind the counter as he rummaged around. Mokou's involvement eased my worries a bit, I could rely on the immortal to help keep the village safe. "Ah, and if you've be headin' that a way, mind deliverin' a letter to my kid?" I accepted the thick envelope he had fished out, putting it away in my bag.
"I'll visiting them in the afternoon. You want me to drop of anything for her?" The man fidgeted, fighting the urge to smother his daughter and send a large care package. The last time he had done so, Marisa had turned red as Koakuma's hair and socked him in the face with a book, before hugging the man and running off. He thought it over, before heading to the back of the store. He returned with a pair of books and a small bag of cookies.
"Here, mind givin' these to her too?" He said, passing over the items, "I found her mother's old recipes in the back storage. I hope I remembered how to make 'em as good as she did. The other's for you, a thank you for all the trouble."
The Forest of Magic was unique in its ability to change it's self over night, rearranging it's terrain to suit its mood. As of late, the woods had been pleasant, a far cry from the impassible forest they were when Remilia kicked up a fuss with her mist. Trails developed themselves too, meandering through hills and across rivers. Even with all the relative peace, the core of the forest remained uninhabitable. Not even Marisa or Alice dared venture in there for too long, despite the rare bounties it guarded. Gensokyo found ways to balance itself, and deep within the forest, the wildest of youkai, and that giant doll Alice lost control of, lived, preying on each other in their habitat. But at the outer rings, life flourished. The path to Alice's home was one of the nicer ones. I suppose it was the forest's way of thanking the magician for dealing with the feral youkai that tried to leave for the village. Wild flowers littered the path as I walked, twirling my parasol. Blue bonnets mixed themselves with dogwoods and primroses as they created a meadow near the old, english styled house.
I knocked on the door, and it swung open to reveal Shanghai. The little doll invited me in, bobbing in excitement, before fluttering away to find her master. I set my sandals aside in the foyer and sat down in a recliner near the fireplace in the den. The sound of boots clacking on the floor gave away Alice as she joined me.
"Welcome Reimu. What brings you about?" She asked me. Shanghai and Hourai were floating at the back, seemingly arguing with each other, as they left for the kitchen. Alice looked disheveled despite her attempts to look prim. The make-up couldn't hide the the bags beneath her eyes, or the fact her cape and dress hadn't been ironed as of late.
"Delivery! Is Marisa around? Or has she disappeared to God knows where once again?" I pulled the grimore-like book and cookies out of my bag, handing them to the puppeteer. "Speaking of which, what's kept you up? It looks like you haven't slept in days."
"Marisa? I'm not sure where she is. She was home a week ago, moving her things in, but she grabbed Reverie and rushed out the door muttering something about 'I found her! She'll be back in the next installment!' after finding an old journal in her boxes" Alice said, running her finger along the spine of the grimoire. "A Study in the Theoretical Applications of Evocation by Madame Patchouli Knowledge, dated 1653, original edition." She laughed to herself, looking pleased, "I wonder, exactly how it is he was able to obtain an original of the one book Patchy refuses to lend."
"Mind if I ask why Patches refuses to let anyone read it?" The sisters returned to us, carrying a tray of pastries and a pot of strong coffee. They fluttered between us pouring us our drinks. I reached for an eclair, as I talked, "And you still haven't answered as to what you've been so enthralled by as of late."
"Oh, that's because it's terrible. Patchy was barely older than Marisa was when she wrote her first grimoire. Seventeen year olds don't write very good magical texts. Especially love struck and boy-crazy, anemic magicians." Alice laughed, taking a sip of the strong drink. "I apologize for not serving tea, Reimu, but I'm need of something strong and I still have a bag of the Moroccan blend Marisa managed to find… Steal? I'm not sure how she got that off Kourin." She flipped through the grimoire, settling on a page. "Here, let me read you a passage. She scribbled this into a margin. 'Oh my, I must have this one. A traveling merchant named Lawrence visited us at the French estate, hoping to gain a contract with Remi. He. Is. Fine. A shame that dratted wolf goddess seems to be into him. It'll take a bit of effort, but soon, I'll have my dear merchant under my spell and he'll be with me forever. It cannot fail. I've practiced talking to men a dozen times in my magical simulations. I've conquered the hearts of over a thousand male arcane constructs designed for training sorceresses in social graces!' If you're wondering, she failed spectacularly. Remi says it became a… Noodle incident of a sorts, literally and figuratively, one Patchy could carry around in her pocket."
I chortled on my coffee, the bitter drink burning my tongue as I tried to cough and laugh at the same time. Across the table, Alice was busy trying to control her laughter. Even Shanghai and Horai had paused stirring the pot with a comically large spoon to silently giggle.
"That's not the only gem Reimu. Patchy wrote some amazing Altria-Mordred fiction in here." Alice continued; that statement brought about another round of laughter. "You were asking what I have been researching as of late, yes? Not all trespasser into Gensokyo come through the border. The appearance of Toyosatomimi no Miko and her followers is proof that there are many legends sealed within our country. Marisa and I were looking into it before she ran off to do what ever it is it she needs to do."
"It must be hard. Marisa never seemed to the type to settle down." I said, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt."
"No, it's fine." Alice said, "It's simply one of those things I've come to accept about her. She'll always be the one drifting in and out of our home. I'm rather the opposite. Marisa's keeps trying to drag me out to the village when all I want to do is my research. But you know how it is. We find ways to make it work. She's gone for now, but I know she'll always come back to me. You're the one who said, 'What use is to lock a bird within a cage? If she loves you, she'll return to you. If she doesn't, she never was yours to begin with.'"
"Don't remind me." I blushed in embarrassment as Alice had brought up memories from our childhood. "I used to say such silly things. All those trashy romance novels I borrowed from Rinnouske gave me such inane thoughts."
"Hey now, doesn't make them any less true!" Alice seemed intent on defending my younger selfs naive views on love. "Regardless of your belief, I visited the Taoist's mausoleum. Marisa recalled seeing a collection of masks when the two of you broke in. They are most definitely missing now. And I highly doubt they were moved until recently. The seals on the mausoleum were broken. From the inside."
"So we got a youkai of sort wandering around the village." The pot was empty and Alice had taken the last of the pastries. I glanced at the clock. I still had to perform rituals at the shrine. "Thanks for the tip Alice. I'll keep a close eye on the border the next few days. See if I can find and exterminate this incident before it really starts up"
"Of course Reimu. I'll let Marisa know when she shows up again. Hopefully, things will resolve themselves." The puppeteer saw me to the door, the dolls fetching my parasol and sandals, and I left the forest for my shrine.
"And I'm telling you that the Bhudda was a jovial old Chinese guy!"
"And I'm telling you that he was thin, old man with unmatchable kindness who helped every soul he could!"
"And I have a sneaking suspicion that the both of you are loony old hags who are both wrong." I shouted at the bickering religious leaders behind me. "And arguing with each other over such trivial things isn't the best of choices when we're surrounded!" That part was most definitely true. We were boxed in by the villagers, all adorning haunted theater masks. Off to the side, Ichirin and Futo had collapsed into a heap after slugging it out to defend the honor of their respective sister figure.
"You're right shrine maiden." The Crown Prince seemed more smug than usual, her cape fluttering around behind her. "Let us rather question how much dye our dear nun uses. Tell me Byakuren, is that gradient natural?"
"Hey Owl Hair, wanna take my fist in your mug?" Byakuren had a dark look on her face, her body glowing with dark magic. I sighed. Here we were, mysterious youkai right where we could grab her, and these two were busy snarking at each other. I could feel the sexual tension in the air.
"Lets just get this over with." I said, and threw a charm into the crowd, aiming for the villager with the strongest aura. It smacked her straight on the forehead and a part of the illusions was revealed. A young girl with pink hair and poofy pants lay rubbing her forehead before me.
"Oh! Kokoro!" I heard Ichirin in the back somewhere. "There you a-"
Anything she might have said was drowned out as Reverie shot by, carrying her master. A giant shark made out of danmaku followed her. "Out of my way! Out of my way!" I heard Marisa scream as she kept shooting down the street, leading the shark. The witch blasted past the Kokoro, only to double back and float at eye level with the girl. "Hey, you, mask girl, I've timed out a bunch of freakin spells before but I have to say, that shark thing is the most bullshit fuckin card ever. Like seriously. Fuck you. Now if you'll excuse me." And she was off, cursing out the angry shark hot on her tail. As for Kokoro, she seemed confused.
"Hey you bitch! Don't talk to my daughter like that!" Two voices behind me were besides themselves in synchronous, parental anger.
"Your daughter? She's my daughter!"
I sighed for the thirteenth time that hour. I trained for many things but child custody was something I left to the village court.
The two women were about to go all out. In the middle of the village no less. Paternal wrath and jealousy were forces I did not want colliding in the square. Their followers egging them on from the sides did not help the slightest.
"The Myouren temple has adopted Kokoro into our family! She's converted to our faith and she belongs to us."
"That's fuckin bullshit nun! I made her! I crafted her Mask of Hope! She's my kid!"
I looked over to the girl, still completely confused as to what was going on. I didn't blame her. If these kind of things didn't happen with regularity in Gensokyo, I'd be as lost as her.
"Hey kid, are those your parents over there?" She nodded. "Well, mind getting them to settle down so we can all go home? And let these villagers go too, while you're at it." Kokoro complied, walking over to Byakuren and hugging her.
"Mother." Miko was aghast. Her face was mix of absolute horror, betrayal and sadness. Her cape dropped in sadness, piling at floor.
"Father." Kokoro reached over and pulled Miko into the hug. Now both of the women were giving each other dirty look as they tried their best to keep a smile for the young girl.
"Well, this is their responsibility now." Marisa reappeared at my side. "Timed that card out too! It was a doozy, ya hear me!" She waved the captured card in my face, bragging about her achievement. The villagers were thankfully beginning to disperse.
"All's well that ends well I guess." I said "Have you seen Alice yet? She's been missing you. And mind telling me what hair-brained adventure you were up to before tonight?"
"I'm headin' home right after this Reimu. I'm not that mean to her! And as for what, or rather who, I found." She wagged a finger in my face. It annoyed me. "It's Mi-"
I punched her in the face.
The sun fell scattered spots round the shrine patio. A tea kettle hummed happily beside me, leaves freshly stepped. The day was an amiable one. I lounged on the porch, book set aside for the moment. The mask the young girl had given me still sat on a table within the shrine. It's empty eyes somehow radiated with emotion. I hoped the best for her. Her family was bound to be a clashing one. A eagle soared over head, light glinting off its white dome. The bird circled around the lake behind the shrine, searching for its meal. I couldn't help but follow him, watching as he soared. And then he dived, skimming over the water and stealing Genji's trout out of the old turtles mouth. I laughed. The turtle replied with a look. That look. The "I'm going to lecture you about this later and there's nothing you can do to stop me" look, before he floated off after the thieving bird. I felt the border ripple as he left, a slight shimmer-
"Welcome home, Yukari." I smiled at the faint sound of a gap opening itself behind me. Arms wrapped in silken gloves wrapped themselves around my waist; A large bosom weighed upon my back as she buried herself into the nape of my neck, golden hair tangling its way around me in long, fluttered tresses.
"I am home, Reimu." Yukari hummed as she nuzzled my neck, tracing her way up to my ear. I took her hand in my own, and a felt a longing squeeze back, as our fingers intertwined.
"Hey, Yukari, tell me, how did your trip go? Were you able to secure the treaty?"
"mmmmmhmmmm, Reimu, business later~ The Pantheon was very accommodating as always if you must ask. All you can eat nectar and ambrosia too~"
"Oh, is that it Yukari?" I poured her a cup of tea as we sat in our haven. "Doesn't it taste different for every individual? You said it carries the same taste as what you crave most, right Yukari? Tell me." I leaned into her, rubbing my cheek against her own. "What. Were. You. Craving. The. Most?" I felt the woman's face light up, heat radiating from her cheeks. It felt warm, like the lazy morning a week past.
"Uh,uh, like tofu. Yes! Tofu, Reimu, it tasted like tofu!" Yukari said, her voice toned with embarrassment.
"Is that so? I'm glad to know you love tofu so much Yukari. I'll make sure Ran prepares tofu with dinner every night! Tofu fried rice, tofu sushi, tofu tempu-"
The color seemed to drain from her cheeks as quickly as my words are brought it in. The horror of bland tofu every night had sent her pupils wide in fear. "No, how about no, Reimu. Not in this lifeti-"
"But Yukari~ Think of Ran! She'll be so happy to know we'll be having her favorite every night."
"Reimu." The Youkai Sage pulled herself out of her gap, turning me to face her. "Reimu. Listen to me. No matter how much I love Ran, not even for her, will I suffer tofu." I laughed, pulling the vain woman into my embrace.
"Speaking of which, where are the shikigami?"
"Oh?" Yukari fidgeted beneath me. "I, uh, there was still work to do with at the conference and the treaty is important and my name should grace it but I thought of hopping a gap and coming back here so I could see you again then we could… and, I, uh, and eat dinn…" I watched as her she settled into a ramble, "but I kinda already signed it without them knowing and I know Ran can handle the negotiations without me and I mean Chen's a lot of work and I'm terrible for leaving her like this but she's a shikigami and duty to her mas-" I shut her up with my lips, taking her in a soft kiss, before letting go, only to take them again, massaging her lips in delicate touches. I could feel Yukari smile as I withdrew, her blush returning at full force. I touched my nose to hers, enjoying the warmth of her heavy breathing.
"Miss me?" I asked her. She replied by locking her lips with my own, pushing me back with her need for contact. Our hands intertwined as she brought us closer together, angling herself above me. Her tongue flicked over my lips, begging for entrance; I complied, letting her enter, and felt a shiver run up my spine as she deepened the kiss, her tongue locking itself around my own. I moved a hand to her waist, taking a hold of her curving hips and pushed ourselves tighter together, relishing the feel of her skin touching mine. The other hand snaked its way to her derriere, giving it a firm squeeze. Yukari moaned, breaking the tongue play as she arched her back. I hummed in pleasure as Yukari kissed back, nipping at my lower lip and begging to gain entrance to my mouth again. I suckled back, drawing her lips tightly as I could, before letting her go with a pop.
"Reimu! So mean!" Yukari pouted at me, unhappy over breaking the kiss she had so desperately craved.
"Later." I turned around, letting my self fall once again into her arms, looking back over our land. "Paradise never changes, love, watch it with me."
"Yeah… Paradise," she said. I let my self sink into her embrace, letting worries go. The forests kept turning and fall was running its schedule. The golden colors waved through the country in painted shades as song birds chattered in the evening light. Even incidents couldn't change Gensokyo, our home, our paradise, forever the same. I wished in my heart this moment would never change.