A goddess she might have been, but Shion Yorigami could not consider herself lucky. After all, what use was having great supernatural powers if you constantly had to bathe in their negative effects without any immunity? Even her sister Jo’on, whose divine domain was as vile and awful as her own, had been granted a better lot in life.
For as long as she could remember, the only relief she could obtain from her own misery and misfortune was to spread it to others, particularly when her sister dragged her along on her schemes to swindle others out of their money. But the schemes always fell through after a while, and the relief was only a temporary distraction from her essential state of being. Still, she had gotten used to it, since she had never known anything else.
Then, quite recently, Shion had come across the celestial Tenshi Hinanawi, and everything changed. Not because of the kind of person Tenshi was, or anything like that – Shion did not really know how to form a meaningful opinion on anyone’s personality in the first place. Besides her sister, no other goddess or youkai had ever spent any length of time around her, and she knew exactly why: they had less misfortune that her, and they didn’t want any of hers. Too bad for them; Shion would share her poverty with them anyway. Really, if she put a bit more effort in, she might have been able to accumulate enough envy and resentment at everyone around her to turn into a hashihime, but she could never be bothered. Besides, would being a hashihime even be an improvement to poverty godhood? Probably not.
No, the reason Tenshi was so important was because of her powers. Thanks to her celestial nature, she had so much innate good luck that she cancelled out Shion’s misfortune when she was nearby. She even tolerated the poverty goddess’s presence, calling her “a funny weirdo” and “cooler than all those boring rule-obeyers”. Shion had no idea what that meant, but she didn’t care. When she was around Tenshi, she could walk without stepping on sharp rocks and bathe without the water turning to mud. She could even eat without the food rotting before her eyes! That must be what living in heaven was like, she decided.
Alas, Tenshi was a fickle being, often flitting about Gensokyo and beyond in search of some new source of entertainment. On many occasions, Shion could not keep up with her – one such time being right now.
Once, she would have considered feeling like this “normal”. But now she had had a taste of something different, she could not just let it go, like those humans who kept crawling back to their strange bottles of misery. But what could possibly compare to Tenshi? No other celestials ever came down to Gensokyo. Shion had heard of a goddess who collected misfortune from other beings, but that misfortune also ended up in her surroundings, so she probably could not help her the way Tenshi could.
Eventually, the plan Shion decided upon was to seek a blessing from the god that tended to prove the most powerful in Gensokyo: the one in the Hakurei Shrine. She was presently walking towards the shrine in the mountains on the edge of Gensokyo, holding in her hands an offering consisting of one meat bun. She had cooked it herself, and so it had ended up half-burnt and reeking, but it was not as if anyone was going to be physically eating it. After all, it was the effort that counted, right?
As she reached the top of the steep path and the shrine’s torii came into view, Shion breathed a sigh of relief. Her brief moment of contentment, however, was cut short when she felt drops of rain beginning to fall on her head. She threw her head back and saw the skies had turned a turbulent grey that was slowly getting darker. How appropriate, she thought, that this was the weather that should greet the arrival of a poverty god at a holy place.
She continued staring upwards in half-hearted contemplation for a few more seconds, until she was struck by the thought that exposure to the thickening rain probably wasn’t good for her meat bun. She launched into a sprint towards the shrine, holding the front of her sweater over the offering to keep it dry. It was a pretty unwieldy way to run, and before long her feet slipped in one of the patches of mud that were rapidly forming along the well-trodden path. As Shion fell on her bottom, the meat bun flew out of her hands and landed in a puddle with an elegant “plop”.
‘No!’ the miserable goddess cried out, reaching out a hand in vain towards her fallen creation. She crawled closer to inspect it, but her conclusion could have been seen from a mile away: while the bun was still mostly intact, it had just gone from a mediocre offering to an utterly abysmal one. No, if she wanted a blessing from the Hakurei God, she would have to find something else.
Her one stroke of luck in this situation was that, knowing that with her poor cooking skills the meat bun might turn out a failure, she had already thought of a plan B. It was just one she was rather more reluctant to use. Shion reached for the waistband of her tattered skirt – the only place she could actually store items on her person, considering her clothes had no pockets – and pulled out a gold coin. She had stolen it from Jo’on’s purse a little while ago after Tenshi had urged her on, saying it would be a “funny prank”. Jo’on never even noticed the loss of the coin, but Shion was pretty sure the whole thing would have gone terribly if it wasn’t for the celestial’s presence. Her sister’s temper was not fun to get on the wrong side of.
All in all, the coin was not something she was eager to let go of, but at the moment she didn’t have anything else to use as an offering. And, as evidenced by her present luck, the coin clearly wasn’t cutting it as a talisman. So, she reluctantly brushed herself off and slowly walked towards the main building of the shrine.
As she climbed the steps at the front of the building, Shion looked around, but the shrine maiden was nowhere to be seen. That in itself was not too surprising, considering that she was often out and about picking fights with youkai for the sake of “saving Gensokyo”. Shion didn’t have a particularly high opinion of condescending know-it-alls like her – and Jo’on and Tenshi definitely didn’t, either – but there was no denying that her god was powerful, and that was what mattered right now.
The shrine maiden might not have been in sight, but what most certainly was, front and centre on the shrine’s porch, was the donation box. Shion stared down at the box, which consisted of a large wooden chest with a grilled lid that allowed people to put money in but not to easily take it out and steal it. With a quiet sigh, she took one more look at her treasured coin and then tossed it into the donation box.
Or rather, that was her intention, but instead the coin, which should have easily fit through the gaps in the grille, happened to land precisely on one of the bars and bounce off. It sailed sideways with enough force that it cleared the box entirely and reached the floor, where it promptly disappeared in a narrow gap between two floorboards.
Shion stood unmoving. Did that count as an offering? The shrine had the coin, she supposed, but it was not exactly going to be useful to the shrine maiden like this. Was she really so misfortunate that she could not even obtain a blessing to get rid of her misfortune? She briefly considered whether she should try to crawl underneath the building to get her coin back, but she heard something scuttling around under the porch – a large rodent, maybe – and that made going down there seem like a recipe for further disaster.
The poverty goddess slowly clenched and unclenched her fist. Without anything physical to offer, she was going to have to just beg for Reimu’s pity in order to get a blessing. Not ideal, but it wasn’t like she had much dignity left to lose, anyway. But that plan required the shrine maiden to actually be there.
She looked around and spotted, hanging underneath the roof of the porch, a large spherical bell. That ought to be able to get Reimu’s attention if she was anywhere nearby. Shion walked over to the thick, braided rope that was attached to the bell and shook it side to side. The bell clanged loudly, a sound that could be heard clearly despite the still-increasing patter of rainfall and the howling wind of what was shaping up to be an autumn storm.
However, once the ringing died down, there was an odd cracking noise. Shion looked up, only to be greeted by the bell, which had broken free from the ceiling and was now falling down directly above her. Before she had time to react, the bell struck her with a force that would surely have knocked a human out cold – and damaged their skull, besides – but Shion, as lousy a goddess as she might have been, was still a goddess.
And so, the blow only dazed her for a few seconds. When she came to, she found herself in a rather peculiar situation. The floorboards she had been standing on must have collapsed under the bell’s weight, and now she was half-hanging, half-stuck in a hole in the porch. A sheet of rice paper was wrapped around her neck, resting on her shoulders, and she eventually realised that it was the shrine’s main door, which must have been knocked off its hinges by the bell after it bounced off her head.
Just as she understood what had happened and began to try to climb onto the porch and extract herself from her strange predicament, Shion heard a ferocious scream from the direction of the path. She turned her head, tearing the paper of the door further in the process, and found that she had, in fact, managed to get the attention of the shrine maiden. Reimu Hakurei stood underneath the torii gate, her gohei clutched in her hands and her body trembling with rage.
‘What have you done to my shrine?!’ she screamed. ‘Answer me, you foul poverty-spreader!’
To be honest, Shion wasn’t entirely sure herself. ‘Um…’
’How dare you attack this holy place and damage my property! Wasn’t causing one incident enough for you? The shrine is already low enough on money without having to pay for repairs!’ She strode forward, a deadly glare in her eyes, and a line of glowing ofuda appeared in front of her. ‘If you want a beating that badly, I’ll give you one!’
Reimu swept her arm in an arc and launched her danmaku towards Shion, who could do very little to dodge them in her present situation. However, at that precise moment the shrine maiden suddenly lost her footing, and her projectiles went off target, tilting upwards and smashing into the roof of the shrine. The building rattled, and Shion saw several roof tiles get swept up by the gale-force winds after presumably being dislodged by the blast.
Meanwhile, Reimu could not regain her balance and fell onto her back, revealing the cause of her accident: she had stepped onto the remains of Shion’s ruined meat bun which still lay on the path. Her offering had actually managed to save her from getting barraged by danmaku, Shion realised, but she was not given any time to process this thought. Barely a second after Reimu landed on the ground, there was a particularly hard gust of wind, and with a violent cracking sound the torii toppled in the direction of the shrine, coming down mere inches from the shrine maiden’s head.
‘That was close!’ Reimu yelled as she leapt up in a rather delayed reaction. She moved into a combat stance, an uncharacteristic fear writ large across her face while she held out her gohei in front of her. ‘What have you done? It must be a curse! A curse has taken hold of my shrine!’ She took a deep breath, pointed her gohei over Shion’s head at the shrine building and shouted at the top of her lungs: ‘Begone, curse! Leave this shrine!’
For a moment, there was no response other than the continued roaring of the storm. Then, a series of squeals of bending wood turned into a clamour even louder than the falling torii, and the wind tore the roof off the building.
As the roof of the Hakurei Shrine tumbled through the air and landed in a nearby stand of trees, scaring off a handful of sheltering fairies, the shrine maiden could do nothing but fall to her knees and scream in despair. Shion, meanwhile, remained in the hole in the porch. The ceiling above her head being gone, the rain soaked her hair and her clothes, but the poverty goddess nonetheless found a small smile coming to her face. Spreading misfortune to others proved once again to be a good way of relieving it, and so her trip to the shrine had been a productive one after all.
>>2799 Well spotted, it was an intentional homage to that scene! When I saw that Nichijou scene, I thought "since the Hakurei Shrine getting destroyed is such a memetically common theme in fanworks, maybe this series of events could happen there too" and that formed the starting point of the story.