You weren't really on the high end of the oni pyramid. If you were placed anywhere, you were pretty sure you'd be on the bottom if it wasn't for your treasured possession shackled onto your right hand. Although, you always thought the parties got too wild sometimes. Taking a big sigh, you think to yourself. Why did you feel so bitter about it...? You didn't even like being with the others. You throw a stone down the underground bridge's pit. From the bottom, it responds with a small 'clink.' You feel a tap on your shoulders. A small oni with two protruding horns on her head gives you a wide smile. It's Suika, one of the Four Devas. She'd be on the top of your figurative pyramid. She boasts a strong winning percentage against the other oni - a whopping one hundred percent. Not to mention she parties. Hard.
“Whatcha doing here? It's awfully lonely to be here all by yourself!” Suika grins mischievously, a twinkle in her eyes. She can barely stand still, stumbling around a bit as she attempts to reach for your arm. With a fumbling tug, she latches on.
“Come on, let's get wasted!” Not waiting for the rest of your answer, she drags you out of your sitting position and moves you over to the oni bar. With a determined look in her eyes, she yells out, “Two of your strongest whatever you have, please!” A moment later, she passes you some clear, transparent alcohol. She chugs it in one go, slamming the empty glass on the table. “You next!”
Still unsure of the suspicious liquid, you contemplate drinking it or not. Not really caring, you decide to drink it anyways, gulping it down and burning your throat. But it feels good, and you think it's worth it to have a few more shots. You look over to the little oni. She wobbles from side to side, almost losing her balance.. You feel just a tad inebriated after drinking a few more cups of whatever the heck the clear stuff was, but you remain alert. In order to keep this treasure, you had to be.
Maintaining the facade of drunken cheeriness, you keep a good watch, particularly at one oni looking at you, sneering. Suika is apparently telling a story, a bit slurred in her speech. She brings her arms up dramatically, moving them frantically as she speaks. “So I sed, 'That was my sake!' and just chucked him! Can ya believe that? Hellooo, you there? You seem a bit distracted.” She reaches up, almost falling, and taps you on the forehead.
“Y-yeah....just feeling a bit woozy after drinking so much,” you lie. Suika just peers at you quizzically. You feel a little nervous, like she had pierced through your deceit. Sitting down, she clutches the small cup.
“Heh, you a light drinker?” Suika laughs it off, smirking as though she has seen through your antics.
“Nahh, probably just something in the alcohol.”
Still, you feel the others' eyes piercing through you. Just play it cool...and get the hell outta here. But by the time you stand up, it's already too late. A few oni surround you, laughing menacingly. A few crack their knuckles.
“So, I heards you got a good thing on ya. Wanna let us check, hm?” A few people behind the oni in the middle snicker. He quiets them, obviously being the leader of the group. “If we can have it, just to inspect it, that'd be great!” He smiles, baring his teeth.
Play it cool...play it cool.
“You know what else would be great? If you bastards would kindly fuck off, yeah?” Well, shit. You didn't mean to say that. But the oni quickly restrain you, grabbing your arms. The leader smacks you on the cheek, quickly dropping his grin. Bending down, he snorts in your face.
“Now, that ain't real nice. And boy, you're fucking around with me. I don't like that.” You seize the moment to kick him in the stomach. He crumples to the floor, but manages to sit up, glaring at you intently. As you're pulled back by the crowd, a familiar voice emanates from the back.
“Hooooh, a ten on one doesn't sound so fair.” You felt the excitement creep up in Suika's voice. “Why not even the odds?” She clears the half the crowd of oni around you with one swoop. As you fall from the mob's grasp, she offers you her hand. “Now, let's get up and run the hell away before they do something stupid!” She dashes away, you being pulled along by your joined hands. The group of oni come out of the bar, the leader yelling obscene curses. However, they don't chase you too far, and you manage to lose them after a good two minutes.
“Thanks for saving me, by the way...” Stopping to catch your breath, you barely manage to blurt out a thank you. As you regain your composure, she winks at you, giving you a cheeky smile.
“For your gratitude I want one thing!” Fighting and running away seemed to sober her up a bit, but Suika retains that wide grin plastered on her face. “It's nothing important, but you have to tell me!”
“Tell you what, exactly...?”
“What the heck were those punks talking about?” Excitement has creeped into her voice again, but she seems to show genuine interest. She slows down to a walk, moving backwards so she can face you. She clumsily keeps on tripping, constantly stumbling around. “It seems like you have something crazy!”
“My treasure. It's a never ending gourd of sake. I hold one of the sacred oni's possessions.” You point at the thing strapped to your wrist. She walks up to it, saying nothing but shocked with awe. You feel a little stupid like this. Suddenly, she snaps the moment of silence.
“That sounds freakin' awesome! Imagine all the alcohol you can have in one day!” She doesn't seem to realize that she can just take it from you. Or maybe she does, but chose not to. Either way, she's lost in her own reverie, almost drooling at whatever she's imagining.
“..That's exactly why I prefer to stay anonymous in these parties and bars. I've been chased around by too many oni for me to count now.” But she.... “Except you, that is. And for that, I'm really grateful.”
She snaps out of her daydream instantly. “Any time. You looked fun to be around, and after that, I know you're worth hanging out with! I haven't been chased around like that in a while!” She laughs heartily, gesturing at the far-off bar in the distance. The two of you stop walking at the same bridge where you initially met.
“We're back to where we started. Again.”
“So we are, huh?” She doesn't even mention your gourd again. Wasn't she even the slightest bit tempted? Still, you're glad that she isn't. You guess she is your first real friend after you received the gourd. All of your other 'friends' seemed to hang around for the alcohol only.
“This bridge connects the underworld to the surface, right?” Suika says nonchalantly, almost as if she's in a short trance. She stands straight up, looking at the view under the bridge. A steep cliff of nothing, fading away to darkness.
“I'm thinking of going there again. And maybe go up to the mountains, like the old times of the Deva, y'know?” She flashes you a wild look. “You thinkin' of coming with me? If I go, that is.”
“Eh...I'll pass. I'm not too fond of humans. One in particular, but that's not important. I can't go up there anyways; I'm basically bound to the underground. I have a debt I owe to Yuugi. An unusual assortment of events led to me owing her my life, basically. It's a very stupid tale.” You smile weakly.
“Well that's too bad, hahaha. You woulda made a fun companion!” She gestures to your gourd, reaching for it. She takes a small swig, then caps it again, resealing it. Suika gives you a thumbs up.
Suika's been visiting more and more now. After your first encounter with her, she seemed intent on you being her right hand man, dragging you out to events she happened to stir up. A troublesome little oni, isn't she...?
“Hey, you still sleeping? Get your lazy butt outta bed and hurry up!" Clutching your treasure chained to your arm, you groggily mumble and flop down to the ground. Impatient from waiting, she rolls you out of your home and pulls you up once you're outside. Looking down at Suika, she seems eager, fidgeting every once in a while. “Well what are ya waiting for? Come on!” She giggles like a little kid, running with your hand firmly grasped in hers. You do your best to keep up, but you end up nearly being dragged, anyways. You fall on your face when Suika suddenly stops, releasing her grip on you. When you look up, all you can see is a blinding light.
“Ugh....what is this, Suika?”
You can almost feel the happiness from her voice. “It's the outside!” As you blink your eyes to adjust the sudden brightness, you faintly see Suika, a serene face different from her usual cheery self. She stays like that until she realizes that she's spacing out. Her normal sunny disposition returns, and she plops herself down on the entrance to the underground. She faces towards the sun, steep banks of snowy hills glistening softly on the grass. A new world, covered by a blanket of white. She raises one arm up and simply points. “This. Is the outside.”
“It's....quite beautiful,” you have to say. The cold wind bites at your neck, and you sit down on a small patch of snow, still frozen from the night. Suika sits next to you, readjusting her position a few times before she settles down.
“Isn't it?” She speaks softly, almost as if she's being careful not to disturb the spectacle. “It's exactly why I want to stay in the outside. It's a wonderful place, energetic and full of life all the time.” Her voice almost shrinks to a whisper. “I want to know how it feels again. I miss it.” A small cough emerges from her throat, and she starts sniffling very quietly. Feeling very awkward, you pull her close to your chest, not saying anything. You feel Suika bury her head in your chest. The two of you stay like this for a few minutes. As her grip on you weakens, you release her. She leans back, and you hear a soft snoring coming from Suika. Different from her usual drunken stupor, she looks so vulnerable like this... it makes you feel protective of her. Shifting your position a bit, you gently press your lips on top of her head. She stirs for a second, but remains unperturbed.
Realizing what you did, you feel a little embarrassed but also giddy. Not wanting to disturb her, you hoist little Suika onto your back, giving her a piggyback ride. Although still sleeping, she clasps her arms across your body immediately. You take your time reaching the center of the underground city.
“The outside...huh?” you say to nobody in particular.
How long has it been? Suika coming over to your house is no longer a surprise. A little alarm clock with horns, she is.
“Nnngh.” You shuffle around in your bed, feeling a slight discomfort on top of you. As you groggily open your eyes, Suika's sitting upright on top of you, leisurely enjoying a sip of her drink. Upon noticing you have arisen, she downs the rest of her drink, and adopts a serious face immediately.
“Can I help you...?” you ask her.
“Hmmm...no.” She just sits there, placing her small hand on her chin, presumably contemplating something. Sighing, you flip the covers off, throwing Suika off of you. “Waaaah! You didn't have to be so rude!”
You say nothing, but pour Suika some sake from your treasure. “Isn't it considered more rude to waltz into someone's house, then sit on said person, drinking?” Oblivious to the fact, she only shrugs, confused at your statement.
“Ummm, no? I'm not sure.” She remains on the ground, sprawling out her arms. “And besides, aren't ya used to this by now?” She stands up and pushes you off the bed. Your hands catch the ground before you can fall on your face.
You dust yourself off, like it was nothing. “Trust me, every day is a new experience, Suika. If I was used to it, then it wouldn't be so interesting.”
She laughs loudly. “Ahaha! I love the way you think!” She fumbles around your house, moving around throughout the rooms. Smoothing out your night clothes, you slip on a shirt and pants before following Suika out. As you exit your house, something tackles you with a great force. Suika snickers, pinning you to the ground. “I win!” Resisting, you throw her off of you.
“We weren't even playing! I wasn't prepar- wha!?” She pushes you back down onto the ground. With a resigned smile, you surrender to her. She grins victoriously, as if she had won the battle.
“I gave you a second chance, too!” She parades around you, pleased with the turn of events. Her ecstatic face makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. What an adorable little oni. “Now come on, there's no time to waste! Let's gooo!” She brazenly takes your hand and pulls you along, humming along the way, her other hand holding two small cups.
...and once more, you stand in the outside next to Suika. Her long, orange hair billows as the cool, spring breeze hits the opening of the cavern. She plants herself down on a small hill, motioning for you to sit next to her. She hands you one cup, and expectantly waits, her bright eyes staring directly at you. Sighing, you open the gourd, pouring some sake into Suika's cup, and then yours. She sips it slowly, savoring its every taste. You quickly drink the whole cup in one go, and pour yourself some more. The chains hanging on the gourd lay loosely on the ground. The little oni gulps down the rest and sets the cup on the ground. She lays down on the soft grass.
“Heeey.” She looks up at you, reaching for your lap. She pulls herself up and rests her head on your legs. “I've been seriously thinkin' about going to the outside again. And I decided that today's gonna be the day. Let's leave the underground city and stay here, on the surface! Just you and me, how 'bout it?”
“I...can't. I still owe Yuugi a few things. I really would for you, but...I have promises to keep. And I don't break my promises.” You look away from Suika, not wanting to see her face. She sits up in front of you, and moves your chin with her hand, forcing you to look at her. She faces you with a red tint on her cheeks.
“You keep your promises?” She says with great fervor. Her hand seems hesitant and shaky, her eyes averting yours for a second. “Then you gotta keep mine! Once you're able to, find me on the surface. Promise me this, okay?”
“...Okay.” You say, unsure of her erratic behavior.
She then brings your face closer to hers and kisses you on the lips. Suika's arms wrap around your neck, bringing her closer to you. Not expecting a kiss, you're too shocked to do anything. Yet you don't resist, and close your eyes. Her hair brushes against your cheeks, leaving a soft scent. When she breaks off, she uncharacteristically blushes. “You can't go back on your word, alright?” She smiles unabashedly, like the kiss never happened. Only the blush betrays the fact that she actually did it.
You touch your lips. “Y-yeah.” You aren't too sure on what to do now, but you feel really blissful. That small fragment of happiness soon leaves, though. “But you'll leave me for now, won't you...?” Feeling a sense of abandonment already, you want to hold Suika back, but you don't.
“...Yeah.” The little oni says it with a weighted tone. “And I hate sad goodbyes. You'll come back up here soon enough, won't you? So stop looking so down!” She tries her best to laugh, but now it sounds more forced than anything. Even her smile seems a bit weary.
“Then take this.” You break the shackle free, leaving only the cuff intact on your wrist. You hand her the gourd, the precious treasure. “I'm not much of a crazy drinker, so do me some good by giving you something to remember me by.” You grin stupidly.
She laughs halfheartedly. “...As if I'd forget you.”
You wake up lazily, half-expecting a tackle from Suika. However, nothing jolts you out of your half-slumber. You sit up in your bed and stretch your limbs. Although you had a peaceful rest, you can't help but think that it doesn't feel the same as being stirred awake by the little oni. Starting the day off with breakfast, you prepare yourself some eggs. While lifting up your hand, you move it too swiftly, forgetting that the gourd isn't chained to your hand anymore. It feels weird eating breakfast without your treasure in view. The eggs are quickly finished, and the dishes and set next to the tables. Still, something feels very wrong.
Deciding to take a walk, you move throughout the underground city. The streets, now sparsely populated, shine with the dull glow of the lanterns nearby. Most of the people are probably still sleeping, or suffering a hangover. Walking through these empty streets make you feel lonely. You feel a pang of sadness wash over you; the place feels so quiet without Suika around.
Trying not to dwell too much on Suika, you shake your head to clear your mind of any thoughts. The small hum of the lights keeps you occupied for the moment. Passing by a few stands, you see a certain oni slouched drunkenly over the stool. Blond hair adorns her head, and a single red horn pokes out of her forehead. She notices your arrival, and swings around, spinning on the stool to face you.
“Yo.” She smirks coyly. “Care to share a drink with me?” Before you could answer fully, she already starts pouring sake into two cups. For her, refusal wasn't a valid answer. And like most oni, you'll only be dragged into unpleasant events if you were unwilling to cooperate. So you sit down on the adjacent stool, taking the sake she offers.
“It's been a while, hasn't it, Yuugi? Since we drank together like this?” you say. She nods in response, refilling her cup again. You take a small sip of the sake. It tastes strong and leaves your mouth parched, going down dry.
“Yep, and I'm fully aware that you want something outta me, right? Otherwise, we wouldn't be drinking like this.” Despite never being sober, Yuugi was always sharp in reading people's motives. “Now tell me – what do you want?” She smiles knowingly.
“I want to get rid of my debt.” As you say that, she starts to laugh like it was the funniest thing in the world. Yuugi grins toothily. The sake swishes in her cup as she moves around.
“Sure you can! All you had to do was ask, good man.” Her eyes twinkle as she talks. “But, there's one catch. You see, I haven't had a good match in a while, and that's where you come in. You only have to beat me once in a true fight. That's it. You can have as many tries as you want.”
“...You're kidding me, right?” Yuugi's amused expression doesn't falter. You expected her to chuckle and say it was a joke, but instead she cracks her knuckles. It seems like she was completely serious about this one. She motions to leave the stand, walking briskly into the empty street. Then she turns around and lifts up three fingers. Two fingers. One.
She takes a big step and swings with great force. Barely managing to duck in time, you're still pushed back a few feet by the sheer power. Stepping back, Yuugi takes out a spell card, unleashing her danmaku. A sea of purple overcomes you, as flying projectiles fall like rain. You weave in and out of the pattern, and manage to reach Yuugi. You almost get hit by one ball of danmaku, but you move close enough to raise an uppercut to her chin. The spellcard breaks, removing the border seals. She readjusts her chin.
“Heh, that was real good! Nobody has ever gotten that close, except for Suika.” She grins reminiscently, giving no notice to the fact she had received an uppercut to the face a few moments ago. “This'll be a fun fight. Maybe I'll lose!” She brings her arms up to her chest, feigning a ready stance.
“No offense, but I hope you do. I need to win this battle.”
“Suit yourself. You'll win if you win.” Yuugi glances around, expecting something. After a few seconds of surveying the ground, she shrugs. “Huh....where's Suika by the way? She'd usually be here for a big fight like this.” You offer her no response, but clench your fists, signaling that you're ready to resume the battle.
She floats up, taking to the air. “How about we make it more interesting? Fighting on the ground only is kinda boring.” Yuugi patiently allows you to move up into the heights. “Alright, now here's the rules. If someone falls while flying, or has to readjust their position, hits are fair game until ya surrender.”
“Alright, I'm ready. Let's start now.” Immediately, you fling yourself towards Yuugi, aiming for a punch. However, she moves across, dodging your attack swiftly and counters with an elbow to your face. It makes contact directly with your nose, disorienting you. She returns with another jab to the stomach, and a kick to the back of your head. You stop yourself before you hit the ground. Looking up, you barely avoid a stomp from Yuugi's foot. The impact of her kick on the ground is enough to make her get stuck for a while. As she pulls her leg out of the ground, you take a big swing. It connects, pushing Yuugi back and giving you a chance to float up and get better distance from her.
“Not bad at all...You have good movement. But what happens when you can't move?” She channels one more spellcard. A spiral of danmaku stays around her, followed by another wave. Before you realize what's going to happen, a large cloud of danmaku suddenly bursts over you, knocking you off balance. You struggle to remain focused, but don't see anything coming. You hear a noise from behind, and turn around to see Yuugi drive her fist downwards, sending you plummeting from the air. Your eyes go fuzzy, and your back is screaming at you in pain, but you manage to stay conscious. You assume Yuugi is closing in for the final blow, but she lowers her hand to you, pulling you up.
“Good fight. It was pretty close! No one's ever managed to make me use that card yet. Maybe next time, you can beat me!” Yuugi dusts off your shoulders, patting off the gravel. You try to shake off the pain, brushing some dirt out of your hair.
“Thanks. I'll train myself to get better. And then I'll fight you again. ” You still feel a little disappointed that you lost, even though you knew she was a much stronger fighter than you. All you have to do is to be prepared next time, and use a bit of cunning. Maybe then you can do it.
That hell raven of Satori's has been going in and out of the underground for a while. Because of that, a commotion's been stirred up in the surface, or so you hear. People have been coming down from above ground to check out the incident. You've already seen one, clad with flowing, blond hair and donning a witch hat and broom to match. She had already passed by before you could challenge her to a fight. You lounge around the city streets, waiting for nothing in particular. You just wish that you had something fun to do. Just then, you see some danmaku pass by through the air. Getting what you wished for, you hurry up and move yourself off the ground.
“Speak of the devil! I knew something exciting was going to pass by this way!” As you gain air, you see a girl dressed in red and white clothing. She greets you with some danmaku. Dodging swiftly, you move over and throw a few lasers at her before retreating back. Once she catches up to you, you allow her to talk.
“The moment I step into the city, I get assaulted with danmaku. A cheery place, isn't it?” She talks low, as if she were having a conversation without you.
“It's nice that you're holding up such a lively chat with yourself, but we need to battle!” You wait patiently for her to ready herself, but she crosses her arms.
“Oh, really? What for?” She raises one eyebrow, questioning you. You knit your forehead. She seems a little impatient right now. The way she's not staying still, moving around in the air brings an attitude of hastiness.
“To train myself, I guess.” You shrug, stating your intentions. She looks at you questionably. “I have to get stronger, so I can beat another oni. I have to, or else I'd break a promise! Now no more talking, let's fight!”
Starting with a few danmaku rounds, you spray some covering fire to disguise your real shots. Swaying around the bullets, the red-white woman lithely moves throughout the patterns, not fazed by the hidden danmaku. Keeping the pressure on you, she keeps up her steady rhythm of danmaku flowing in your direction. You declare a spellcard, forcing her to back off.
“Oni Sign: Merciless Frontal Assault!” A red and blue ring covers the area around you, sending out a channeled flow of magic. A dark aura emanates in the surroundings as you charge your spellcard, leaving yourself vulnerable. As soon as she flies too close, you send out a wave of danmaku, a layered assortment of blue and white bullets slashing forward. She takes a direct hit on her arm, but manages to stay up in the air. You charge your spell again, but this time the girl weaves through your initial danmaku burst and moves to the side. Your scattered bullets barely manage to touch her this time. You attempt to charge once more, but she breaks your spellcard, shattering the aura.
You go straight into the next spellcard. “Onmyoudou Sign: Northeast Blowing Wind!” You focus your energy onto the spell, sending a slow storm of danmaku, leisurely moving across from the northeast. She easily dodges it, moving across the pattern without breaking a sweat. The speed increases as you add more power into the card, and another set of danmaku appears, coming in from twelve directions. The red-white's movement grows more rapid and her breathing becomes more and more ragged. In the end, she manages to barely defeat your spellcard, breaking it at the last second. You're on your last spellcard now, moving left and right, shooting a zig-zag lane of danmaku as you pass by. She follows your movements, staying within the boundaries of the lines. You call up your last spell card.
“Lost Treasure: Curse of Ibaraki!” The danmaku flows out from the sides in an upward direction. As time passes, more danmaku flows in and out of the zone, encircling the girl. You clutch your shackle, but the spellcard instantly fades. You retreat, allowing her to pass.
“Huh... what was that?” She catches up to you, in a non-combative position. “I thought your last spellcard would have been challenging!” She folds her arms across her chest, expectantly waiting for an answer.
“Let's just say I didn't prepare. Or remember, if you want to be specific. By the way, what's your name? You seem pretty strong for a human.”
“Reimu Hakurei. Just a normal shrine maiden.” She laughs inwardly, stifling her giggle. “I don't really know this place; do you mind leading me towards the center of the spirits?”
“We're already heading there. And somehow, I doubt you're a 'normal' example of a shrine maiden.” She adopts a hurt expression, feigning shock, but recovers from it quickly. Instead, she starts muttering to herself. You can't really hear well, so you slow down, concentrating on what she's saying.
“...You've been really quiet, what's up? How unusual of you to stay so reserved.” Reimu nods once in a while, and occasionally says replies back. She continues on. “Hm, why are you speaking so softly?” She pauses for a bit, and breathes in, sounding surprised. Then she stares at you intently, with an unknown look on her face. The two of you don't say anything. But then, a loud voice interrupts the moment.
“Oho, who's this?” Yuugi flies closer towards the two of you. “A new person underground? Looks like a fun person!”
“Hey, Yuugi!” You wave over to her. “Perfect timing. If you don't mind, can you show her the way to the mansion?” She takes a sip from her usual bowl of sake, and thinks for a bit. Then her eyes light up.
“Sure! Anything, as long as I get to see some action! You are going there to fight, yes?” The way Yuugi's enthusiasm grew tenfold when discussing a battle almost makes you laugh out loud.
“Kind of. You see, it's complicated.” She smiles weakly, looking neither Yuugi nor you in the eye. She regains her composure quickly, and is about to speak when another voice speaks up.
“While we're on the subject of favors, can ya help me out, Yuugi?” The voice that came out was unmistakable. You knew exactly who it was.
“S-Suika?” You haven't heard that voice in a while. You missed that enthusiastic cheer of hers. “It's been a while.”
“Yeah.” Devoid of her usual cheerfulness, she sounds a bit sober. “A long time right? But anyways, I want to talk to Yuugi.” You can't see her face, but you felt a bit of sadness in her voice.
“I'm listening, Suika. What is it?” Yuugi, however, doesn't sense the mood and remains in her drunken happiness. Reimu, muttering softly to Suika, reluctantly comes close to Yuugi, leaving you out of the conversation. Curious, you start to wander towards the group, but they've already finished talking.
“Hmmm, I see. So all you want me to do is to set that guy free of charge?” She goes over and points to you. She has a mildly interested look, gazing over at Reimu.
“Yep, that's it!” Suika straightforwardly says.
“That's all? Nothing else? Heh, I can do that. It was no concern of mine anyways. I just wanted someone interesting to fight with.” You glare at Yuugi with dismay, but she seems to be unfazed by it, still grinning widely.
“You're free to go!” Suika says exuberantly to you. “Now all you have to do is to keep your promise!”
“Hm, not so fast, Suika. Let's wait until this little incident's over. I want to have one last drink with him.” Yuugi smirks, waiting for her response.
“But why?” The impatience in Suika's voice almost oozes from Reimu's yin-yang orbs.
“Because I want to tease you.” Yuugi laughs playfully.
“That's no fair!”
Yuugi just points one finger at you. “For what reason, really? Why do you want him to be free so badly? Hmmmm?” She feigns innocence, questioning Suika.
For a while, Suika says nothing. Then she speaks, hiding her embarrassment. “B-because he promised me he'll come up for the surface. For me.”
Reimu butts in. “That's nice and all, but can we just get on with the incident? I'm feeling really cramped in this underground city.”
“Alright. I'll show you the way.” Yuugi winks at you when Reimu's back is turned. She mouths the words, 'You owe me one again' jokingly. She motions for you to stay while she “ferries” Reimu away to the mansion. So you wait. And wait. Then wait some more. Feeling a bit uncomfortable, you rest yourself on a particularly empty town center. A good thirty minutes pass before Yuugi comes back alone. She apologizes innocently.
“Ahaha, sorry. I guess I got carried away! That miko got some skills! I woulda sparred her, but she declined. I was looking forward to it, too! But that's not the reason why I brought you over here.” She throws you some spellcards. “One last time. No spellcards. Just power.” You take away your own spellcards, placing the pile of cards on the table of a nearby stand.
“Gotcha.” As soon as you said it, she positions herself towards you. She walks closer, leaving her vulnerable spots widely open. Gritting your teeth, you make a dash towards Yuugi. You land a soft blow on her left side, barely grazing her. She returns with a straight punch to your head, arm curving downwards. Swiftly moving aside, you make a clean jab to the stomach, and then sweep her legs with a low kick. Falling down to the floor, she grabs your arm and pulls you down to the ground also. You crash into the ground but quickly get back up. Yuugi's already up, and takes the chance to knee you. Knocking the air out of your breath, you stumble back, gasping. A cold kick to your back sends you back down onto the underground soil. You grab onto her arm, dragging her into the force of the kick.
“Hck...” She must've hit you with a great deal of strength. Provided that your back suffered the brunt of the blow, you shouldn't be rendered unmoving. Shouldn't being the key word. Struggling to get back up, you strain your arms and legs to move. Standing up, you're weary and in pain, but at least still able to fight. Yuugi shows no fatigue, but her attacks are slowing down. Neither of you can land any more shots at each other. She's leaving herself well-protected, but lacks the position to get free from a grasp. As she steps forward, you seize the chance. Feinting to the left for a hook, you motion your right hand. She moves to the side to dodge any feint. Expecting that, you dash behind her, and lock your arms together around her waist.
“Wha...!?” She puts on a look of confusion. Now, you lift up your arms and bend backwards, letting gravity do the work. The ground crunches as you slam her into the gravel. You release her, and she slips forward, falling into the mini-crater.
“Ow ow ow....” She moans inside the hole. “Okay, you win. I guess you can really beat me in a real fight.” She pulls herself out of the hole, wincing as she climbs over to the ground.
“Maybe. But I want to know. Did I really win, or did you let me?” She gives you no answer, only rubbing the back of her head in pain.
Instead, she gives you a simple response. “You can go now. No debts, nothing. Have fun on the outside.” Not needing to be reminded, you take the bridge to the surface. Stopping in the end of the opposite side, you throw one last rock into the “abyss.” Then you move out to the entrance of the surface. The cold breeze that you felt so long ago now feels warm as it passes by. Instead of seeing snow, nature has bloomed into a lush green that envelopes the trees and hills. You breathe in some fresh air, a faint scent of flora seeping into your nose. How many years has it been since you've seen the outside? You always told yourself you would from time to time, but you didn't want to remind yourself of old memories. You move on up to the sky. Now would be the perfect time to go meet Suika.
...You forgot to ask her where she was living on the surface. “Crap...” You curse to yourself. However, you do remember that she was with that shrine maiden....Reimu, was it? Yes, you'll just ask the surrounding humans where she was. Hopefully, she's strong enough to be well known on the surface. Dropping back down to the ground slowly, you greet the nearest human. A woman with blue hair and an even bluer dress returns your bow formally.
“Ah, hello! I don't believe we've met. A-ah...” She stares at your horns, but tactfully regains her composure. “Do you need something?”
Ignoring her lapse of mind, you get straight to the point. “Yes, actually, I do. If you could direct me towards where Reimu is staying, that would be great.” You forgot her last name, so you just said her first.
“Oh, Reimu? I haven't seen her in a while, but I could show you the general direction.” She points to the south of the village. “The shrine is obscured by a hill, but it should be clear enough once you fly.” Giving your thanks, you wave goodbye. You fly a good distance before a compact shrine moves into view. It protrudes out on top of a lone hill, plainly in sight. Floating down, you land on the last few steps of the stairs leading up to the shrine. Resting on top of the donation box, rests Suika. She's sprawled out on top of it, casually sipping from her gourd. As you take the last few steps up, the little oni turns in your direction. When she sees you, Suika almost drops her sake and charges towards you. Tackling you to the ground, she nuzzles her face against your chest.
“You're baaack!” Hugging you tightly, she doesn't even try to contain her enthusiasm. Nestling closer, she brushes her lips against your cheeks once. She closes her eyes for a brief moment. “I missed you, do you know that?”
“I missed you too...but first, can I get up?” Suika's face flares a soft pink, but she smiles. Slowly getting off of you, she picks up her gourd and pulls you up.
“Come inside. We needa talk!” She waves you over to the shrine. Entering the place, it seems to be quite spacious on the inside. The interior looks a bit old, but gives off the impression of an antique house. The rooms are kept unusually tidy, except for the main room, where empty dishes and cups lay around the sink. The shrine maiden comes out of one room, almost ready to leave. Suika moves towards the table, resting her chin on top of it. You follow suit, sitting on the adjacent spot.
“You're off to go resolve another incident, Reimu?” Suika questions. The shrine maiden, sorting out her spellcards and charms, only gives a brief nod.
“See ya Reimu. Good luck with the incident!” You call out to her before she leaves. Suika waves while pouring a bowl of sake for both you and herself.
“Yep.” Reimu replies curtly, not wasting any more time. About ready to fly, she's poised to take to the sky. “H-hey wait, why are you here?” She stops herself mid-air, floating half-way up in the sky.
“Hmm...” You think to yourself. Do you think she'll let you stay here? It feels really homely. “Reimu! I have a proposal! Do you mind if I stay here with Suika? I won't be much of a bother.”
“Let me think about it. But wait until I get back, alright? My accommodations may not be able to support three people who need to be fed.” Not saying anything more, she leaves the shrine grounds and takes off. Hmm....
[ ] Go along with her. It could be something interesting! -[ ] Equip Take Suika.
[ ] Stay here. She did tell you to wait, after all. -[ ] But what should you do? (Write in)
[ ] Go explore around the area. Maybe go to the village?
[x] Stay here. She did tell you to wait, after all. -[x] Catch up with Suika, possibly sharing some tales on the front steps. -[x] See who might stop by. I was expecting the MC to die horribly in the way up. Dunno why.
[x] Stay here. She did tell you to wait, after all. -[x] Catch up with Suika, possibly sharing some tales on the front steps. -[x] See who might stop by.
You find the surface interesting. It seems that the people above ground have been growing stronger. But as much as you wanted to go out and explore, you didn't want to disobey your future landlord. Besides, you had something more important to do at the moment. Suika scoots over, moving closer. Her body warmth feels nice...
“Mmm...I'm bored.” She yawns, stretching her arms out. Still leaning on your side, she nestles into a comfortable position. “What do you wanna do? We can't really do anything because Reimu's out.” She sighs lazily. It's been a while since you last met Suika, so why not catch up with her?
“Why don't you tell me about what you've done since you left the underground? It seems like you've been the same as always, starting catastrophes and whatnot.” You stand up, making a motion towards the stairs. Suika, however, remains lying down. “Come on, Suika, let's go to the stairs. I want to look over at the scenery again.”
“It's too faaaar.” She groans, resting on the table. Arms up, she reaches for you. Sighing, you take her and hoist her up on your back. Suika rests her body on yours, wrapping her arms around your neck. It takes only a moment to reach the ever-rising stairs. After you let go of Suika, you sit down on the top stair. She places herself next to you, taking a sip of her gourd.
“So what have you done since then?” You question. She hands you her gourd. Drinking some, you savor the alcohol in your mouth.
“Nothing much. I had a few wild parties, trying to gather people to a banquet, but it ended up a disaster.” She chuckles to herself, closing her eyes for a moment. Reopening them, she retells her tale. “I used my powers to gather people around to have parties and banquets, but quickly people started to realize that parties every day were outta place.” She shrugs helplessly, like parties were meant to take place once a day. “People challenged me to fight after fight, so I gave them what they wanted. Eventually, Reimu came and beat me. So here I am now!” She spreads her arms across the whole shrine area, smiling while kicking her legs lazily on the steps. “After I lost, Reimu invited me over to tea. So I decided to stay.” Repositioning herself, she lays down on the front steps of the stairs. “Nowadays, I don't do much, but I help out Reimu once in a while. When Reimu went down underground, I decided to aide her. But I didn't know she was going underground until later.”
“Good thing helped her out then. Otherwise, I'd probably have never found you once I came up to the surface.” You scoop Suika up into your arms. “Doesn't mean I wouldn't have tried. But if I had to try to find you, a shrine wouldn't be on the top of my search list.” Sitting back on the steps, you lay Suika down on your lap. She doesn't seem to mind at all, keeping her silly grin.
“Yo, Reimu! Did you see some unusual stuff in the air? Shit's crazy!” A voice comes down from below. Looking over the steps, you see a blond woman garbed in a witch's hat and who knows what else.
“Oh, it's her!” Suika exclaims.
The shrine maiden said nothing about greeting a guest.
[ ] Go over and greet her normally. [ ] Ask Suika about her. [ ] Greet her with a scare or a surprise. [ ] Do something original. (write in)
Reimu did say to stay and wait here, but there's nothing wrong with giving someone a good thrill now and then. Channeling some power, you allow yourself to release your skill. Shifting yourself behind the blond, you lightly tap her on the shoulder. Just as she's ready to turn around, you shift back instantaneously towards your initial position. Bewildered, she turns around in a full circle, unaware of your position nearby. Once more, you repeat the procedure. And again. The last time, you do it especially quick, as she's prepared to turn around. However, she doesn't catch you, and you try your best to stifle a chuckle. Suika just nods solemnly, fully aware of your true intentions. For the finale, you allow her to walk up the stairs. The black and white garbed woman looks around suspiciously while she does so. Then, you concentrate on moving yourself under the shrine ground. Under the dirt, you wait until what you assume to be from under her. Your hand punctures the stone floor, and attempt to grab her legs.
You hear what seems to be a muffled, “Ah, shit!” and a scrambling to get your hand off. Success! But what happens next came upon you unexpectedly. Just then, a stream of bright colors disintegrates the soil around and nearby you, a concentrated beam blowing what's under you to debris. You feel yourself get singed, but you pay no attention as you dodge the gigantic laser shooting towards your direction. You shift yourself somewhere else, to avoid any other laser-like obstacles. Dusting yourself up, you regroup with Suika to greet her, normally.
“Hey, Marisa! What's up?” Suika says casually with a straight face.
“I dunno...I went'ta go solve a problem with UFO's, but weird things have been happening. First, a mouse assaults me, then an umbrella, a tiger, and now zombies are crawling up in this shrine. Shit's really weird.”
“Hmm...that really does seem to be a mess.” You respond seriously. Though, you feel like the edges of your mouth are betraying you.
“Yeh, wait, who are you?” The girl known as Marisa asks. “I haven't seen you around.”
“Let's just say I'm a future freeloader of the Hakurei Shrine.” You grin and give her a thumbs up. She bobs her head up and down, examining you closely. Seeming to give her approval, she grins, satisfied. Marisa looks like she wants to ask more, but a call from the sky interrupts her. Reimu floats deftly down to the ground.
“Ah, I'm bac– W-what the hell!?” The shrine maiden exclaims.”What happened to my outside flooring?”
“Ahaha...” Marisa laughs nervously. “Well, funny story, I gotta tell ya. Y-you see, there were zombies coming out of the ground, so I had to exterminate them. One even got a hold of my leg, see?” She points to it. Reimu shakes her head angrily.
“No good. Now, en garde!” She draws her danmaku out, and shoots a flurry at them towards Marisa.
Pondering to yourself for a moment, you wondered if you should've surprised Marisa in the first place. You were starting to regret you did that. Since you started it, you should probably stop the fighting. You felt a little remorse when you used your power stupidly like that. Wait – you should've used your power when fighting Yuugi.
Smacking your forehead with your hand, you sigh. “I'm a dumbass.”
Wait, that's not what you wanted to think about.
[ ] Stop the conflict. Tell the whole truth and what happened. -[ ] Well, you don't necessarily have to tell the truth... [ ] Let them fight. It's how people solve their problems. -[ ] Cheer both of them on.
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[x] Let them fight. It's how people solve their problems. -[x] Cheer both of them on.
You see Marisa brandish her own spellcards, and a bright light followed by a haze of vibrantly colored stars make way towards your host. The donation box lays still on the front porch. Moving up to it, you take your seat on the top of the case. Suika stares for a good three seconds before making her way next to your spot. The two of you stare off into the spectacle of danmaku spouting across the sky.
“Ahahaaa...the view's good!” the little oni laughs. “It's nice that they're getting along so well! They usually aren't this lively after a good incident. They usually settle down for some tea.”
“It's good to watch but somehow, I don't understand why you say they get along fine...” In the sky, you watch the two dance between each other's bullets. Faintly, you hear Reimu spout insults, and in return Marisa yells out obscenities. “But secretly, I'm rooting for Reimu.” You wave at her, but the shrine maiden doesn't notice.
“Yeah, you could say that looking at the two of them fight it out is kinda romantic, right?” She smirks slyly.
“Not at all.” You say. Looking over to Suika, you notice her lip quivering noticibly. “Err...umm...” You shouldn't have put it so bluntly! The wind blows as you scoot yourself over closer. Then you take your hand and place it on top of her hair, patting her head gently. Suika smiles again, looking absolutely blissful. Leaning down, you whisper into her ear. “It's still not romantic.”
“Heeey!” She whines, pouting. Suika attempts to bury herself in your chest, but she falls and almost stabs you in the face. Everything seems to fall in slow motion, but you reflexively grip her horns and move them away from goring you. A clatter breaks the easygoing calm, and Suika manages to land on top of you. She grins devilishly. “Although, this position isn't bad too!”
“Aren't you going a little too fast? You're being a bit much here.” As she moves closer to your face, you tap her on the forehead lightly. “Are you even listening?” She stays silent, then nods. You readjust your position a little. “Good. Now––“
Before you could finish your sentence, Marisa and Reimu come back tumbling to the front porch, still latched onto each other. They loosen their grip on each other, as they take a look from you, back to Suika. The little oni on top of you starts to blush.
“Sorry, Reimu. The donation box fell.” You shrug as best as you can from under Suika. “I was sitting on it, but it toppled over.” You nudge Suika gently. She gets up and raises her arm towards you, giving you a hand. Standing back up, you dust yourself off.
Reimu sighs, sounding irked. “It's alright, none of the money fell out, at least. Just don't be so careless next time.”
“Next time? So that means...!” Suika blurts out, excited.
“Tch, I didn't really mean that.” She covers her mouth, as if she could hide what she had just said. Marisa laughs wholeheartedly and slings her arm around Reimu. The shrine maiden only mutters a few words, then continues. “Fine, you can stay. What's one more oni around the house?”
“Thanks.” You say. Reimu goes ahead and shoos you away with Suika. You can see her smile warmly, despite acting stoically before. She goes ahead and drags Marisa back outside.
Suika takes you to the back part of the shrine, before exiting out the behind. “I feel like going around today. Where do you want to go?”
You recall the places you went around before you arrived at the shrine.
[x] The forest. [x] The village town. [x] The manor over at the lake [x] Maybe someplace else?
To Bhava-agra, let's go. We can mess with the uptight celestials, pulling whatever hilarious pranks we think of, and it's canonical too! Or if shooting the shit and pulling pranks isn't in order for today, it'll be a great place to have a romantic outing with Suika. I mean, what better place to take someone out than a literal heaven.
“Hey, what about going to Heaven? I haven't visited there for a while.” True, you haven't visited the place since the last time you appeared on the surface. It really has been a while. “We can just relax there. No celestial will bother us.”
“Hmm, sure! I haven't bothered returning Tenshi the portion of land I claimed, so we could always go there.” Suika jumps, apparently excited to go already.
“Huh? You claimed a portion of Heaven to yourself? And one of the Hinanawi's, no less?” You ask in surprise. What did she do while you were underground?
“Yeah, you didn't know? How else would we go through? The celestials there are really stingy and a pain in the ass. Except some.” She suddenly clasps her hands in realization. “Oh, do you know Tenshi?”
“It's a long story. In fact, if we can meet up with her, I can tell you the whole thing.” You didn't want to press more on the details, but she nods her head in satisfaction.
She lifts herself off of the ground. “Don't worry, I'll make sure we'll meet up with Tenshi! After all, I do own her part of heaven.” She smiles brightly. Chuckling, you take her hand and use your momentum to send yourself floating through the sky. You turn and let Suika lead the way, heading in the direction of the mountains. Through the forests you see a white wolf tengu with a red tokin hat sticking out conspicuously from the greenery. Alongside her, there's another woman with a similiar tokin hat standing next to a man with an axe. The wolf tengu stares at your person before shifting her gaze back towards the others. Before long, you can see the clouds around the gates of Bhava-agra.
Landing before the gates, the two of you enter seeing as it is already open. A few celestials stare your way, but pay no further attention as Suika waltzes in with no shame. Moving towards The Hinanawi clan's portion of the Heaven, she looks over to a woman with blue hair, fishing on the clouds. “Yo Tenshi!” She yells out.
Turning around, Tenshi Hinanawi smiles sarcastically. “Well, if it isn't my favorite oni–“
“You really think s–“
“–and Suika.” Retaining that sarcastic smile, she doesn't bat an eyelash at Suika. Tenshi lays her fishing pole down and crosses her arms.
“Meanie.” Suika pretends to be upset, but keeps a big grin on her face.
“So.” Tenshi directs this at you. “What's up? You need me for something, right?”
“Nothing in particular.” You glance at the fishing rod. “I just came up here with Suika because we were bored.”
“Hmm..? So you two are living together with the shrine maiden?” She lifts an eyebrow at your explanation.
“Yeah, but it's only a temporary thing, she says. But I don't see myself going anyplace else for the time being.”
“If you say so.” She skeptically answers. “But since you're here, we need to have a talk. It's important, but not important. But we need to be alone, with nobody overhearing.” Tenshi eyes you, and then Suika.
[ ] Sure, why not. [ ] No, it's alright.
“Mine.” Suika wraps herself on you. Not resisting, you let yourself be grappled by the little oni.
Tenshi giggles, putting her hand to her mouth. “No, it's not like that. But if you want, Suika, we can talk after we chat for a while, hmm?”
She deliberates for a while, looking around for an answer. After making a final verdict, she concedes you over to Tenshi. “Fine. But only after we talk.” Loosening her arms around you, she reclines on the clouds of the land.
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[x] Sure, why not.
“Okay, I don't see any problem with that.” But Tenshi looks around the area suspiciously, like she's wary of listeners. After she presumes the coast is clear, she nods. She leads you away from the main grounds of heaven and into a more secluded place.
“Now, what I'm going to do next requires your complete cooperation. You will need to be completely still for the moment, and please do not hit me back. Agreed?”
“Agreed–– Hey, wait, what do you mean by 'hit me back'?” Tenshi only flicks her sword up in the air, jumps almost gracefully down, and smacks you upside the head with her Sword of Hisou slapping you bluntly.
“O-ow...what was that for!?” Rubbing your forehead, you try to ease the pain by shaking your head. Which only makes it worse. “You can't just hit me out of the blue like that...”
But Tenshi only frowns, looking only discontent. “That shouldn't have happened...” Scratching her head, she mutters to herself. “I thought it'd work out with no errors or anything like that. Huh.”
“Err, so mind explaining to me what's exactly going on...?”
She hooks her sword back into its sheath. “I guess so, but I'm not sure if I'm supposed to tell you yet or not. Umm....” She seems perplexed, walking back and forth. “But I can't really talk to the person who gave me orders. I mean, I can, but I can't really, do you understand what I'm trying to say?”
“Not a clue.” You answer honestly. “But spit it out! You're making me anxious when you're being all vague like that.”
“You're that boss.” She snickers. “I mean really, you are the boss. I was placed by your order that I was supposed to apply blunt force to your forehead the next time you visited me.”
“...I don't remember asking for that ever.”
“Really?” She says, sounding inquisitive. “Oh, it must've been somebody else, then!” She says with such invigoration that you're clueless on how to tactfully respond to that.
“...Who would ask to be beat on the forehead anyways?” Tenshi only gives you a shrug, apparently not remembering who it was. “Oh!” She acts like she remembers something else. “Let's go back to Suika, then. I'd like you to be reacquainted with my dad! It's been a long time since you've seen him, and he'd be happy to see you now!”
“Aha, alright then. It's been a while since I saw him.” You respond casually. Tenshi's father was someone that you remember clearly. His attitude and high status reminded you of a compassionate king ruling over his subjects. But as you're dragged along with Tenshi, you can't help but reiterate yourself. “...But couldn't we have done this before you whacked me with your sword? Why did we even move out of sight from Suika?”
“Dunno~” She responds carefree, skipping along the clouds. The two of you quickly reunite with Suika, who has been lounging around and drinking leisurely. Her face brightens up as Tenshi and you arrive.
“Finally you guys are done! I was getting bored just waiting around here.”
“Yeah, sorry for the wait Suika, but it was an important prospect I had to discuss. It couldn't wait.” Tenshi smirks at you.
“Important prospect my as––“
“But anyways,” Tenshi interrupts, “we're going to go around my palace for a bit. You can go and drink there Suika!”
“Yaaaay!” She immediately goes along with her plan.
“Let's go right now then!” Tenshi hops along a few clouds before stopping with a pout on her face. “...I'm tired. Why don't we just fly there?”
“And we've been walking less than a few seconds. You need to suck it up.” You remark.
“Nope, let's go and fly there. It'll be faster anyways!”
Suika adds in, “Yeah, if we get there faster, then we'll be able to drink sooner!” She laughs jubilantly and takes off to the air first.
Tenshi grabs Suika by her leg. “Hold on there, do you even know where the palace's direction is?”
“Not at all!” The oni says, dangling in the air.
Now taking the lead, the celestial moves up first, acting as a guide. “Now, we'll need to fly in that direction.” She points north bound....where a gigantic castle protrudes out in the distance. You resist covering your face with your hands and follow Tenshi grudgingly.
Tenshi does a few loops in the air, moving around sporadically to keep herself from boredom. You imitate her, going around and spinning through the sky. Suika just lazily floats in a straight line, reclining like on a couch. But as Tenshi does a twirl in the air, a hazy object drops to the ground.
“....Ah, crap.” She stops her acrobatic routine. “I dropped my sword...you guys go on, I'll be there in a bit.”
“Okay!” Suika gives Tenshi a wave, and sends her off. Tenshi plunges down to the ground. She seemingly disappears through the clouds.
[x] Go ahead and help Tenshi [x] Wait for her here. [x] Reach the palace first.
It's been around three weeks since I last updated, but fear not (whoever is still reading this story), as I will return eventually. I'm just trying to consistently update my /at/ story shameless advertising, as well as being really busy over the last few weeks. Hopefully an update this week will come.