Blindly dart to the side with all your strength, grazing any projectiles and flanking her immediately, causing her to hesitate in confusion before striking her exposed sides with Brawler’s Buckler.
A head on attack would be inadvisable. It is simply a matter of her twitching her hand to the side.
You will be hit.
Your shield will only deflect one shot before dissipating, and the angle is too great to reflect the spell back.
You will be hit.
Desperation is the last resort. But there are other options.
Your only chance is to get either behind her or to her flanks.
Leaping above her is out of the question, as your legs are far too useless at this point.
Sliding below her skirt is an option, given that there is enough distance between the legs to slip through. However, risks of potential post-spar beatings, should you take this course of action, seem high.
Thus, leap to the side, out of direct line of fire.
As falling, engage shield to protect sternum from stray star, deflecting into Marisa’s face.
As she stumbles backwards to avoid star, roll into crouching position for strike.
Strike to the lower torso, sending her flying.
Your breathing is ragged, and your body aches all over as you slowly collapse into a small heap, face first. As your fingers twitch gently, feeling the cooling afternoon grass under them, you can taste the leafy matter as you struggle to get air into your body.
There is a series of sharp prods at your back.
Rolling over as slowly as you can, you can see Reimu kneeling over you, tasselled staff in hand, a most curious twitch in her eyebrow,
“You don’t really know how to play danmaku, do you?”
“... n-no... buh... but I wuh... w-won, right?”
She helps you to sit up, directing your attention to a hatless Marisa, who is currently struggling to stand up as she too, breathes hard and heavy. You can’t lift your arms, and your legs stubbornly refuse to budge as searing pain burns across your entire consciousness. Marisa slowly stumbles over to where she stood, just moments ago. She bends down very carefully, as to not aggravate her chest, to pick up her hat.
You both meet each other’s eyes. Marisa speaks up first,
“That was, pretty painful,” she manages, nursing her bruised ribs with a genuine smile, “You’re pretty... okay at this.”
“Lots of spells. Never felt under more pressure myself,” you reply,
The silence between you three is deafening, interspersed with some whispers and giggles from the forest canopy as Marisa plonks herself down next to you and Reimu.
Reimu slaps you on the head with her sleeve,
“What am I going to do with you two idiots?” she sighs,
You try and get a glimpse of your watch.
It is now 3.32.58 PM.
You feel incredibly drained from today, and as Reimu drags you into the cottage, you quietly muse on your small victory against Marisa. It was exhilarating. You feel so alive. Although your body despairs at the foolishness of your actions, you can’t help but smile as you feel the beating of your heart, the dull twinge in your chest and the slowly steadying breaths you take.
Reimu dumps you into a chair to recover, telling you to stay put as she helps Marisa with her bruise. You are all too happy to oblige her, watching as Marisa trots off to her room again, throwing her hat onto the table as she begins humming a cheerful little ditty.
Your eyes begin drooping...
“... A strong man carries a shield to protect him and strikes down his enemies in one blow. A stronger man carries a shield to protect others and needs only to strike once, if at all.”
Ambrose is 11 years old, and has woken up, just in time to catch his master’s speech in a lecture theatre,
“I hardly think that any wizard, warlock or magician can get by with using just lasers and fireballs. This destructive, highly aggressive style of magical combat is untenable for today’s increasingly complex world. As our numbers dwindle, we must cease our needless squabbles and begin trying to open a peaceful dialogue-“
“You are still suggesting we talk to them, Alders?!” a voice cuts in, “The Pan-Asiatic Magic Association is making audacious movements into Eastern Europe, and month by month, they gain a foothold in the region. They refuse to negotiate and we must answer!”
A chorus of excitable people all nod to themselves, murmuring their agreement,
Ambrose’s master merely shakes his head in exasperation,
“Gerhardt, you know that is not true. Just last week, I was able to meet with a much respected sensei of theirs, and he agreed in principle to end the violence. Why, he even complained of the way your 'envoys' assaulted his-“
The chamber explodes into commotion as a younger man rises from his seat, a thin cane pointed squarely at Master Alders, crackling menacingly as he begins to shout his counterpoints back to the old man. Alders has merely drawn his watch, holding it up to face Gerhardt, composed and quiet as he listens intently, ready to pick out the truth as it appears.
Ambrose quietly pockets his own watch, deciding to slip out of the chambers to wait out the maelstrom of magical politics, sneaking through the crowd of magicians as they stand, enraptured at the battle of wits within.
Having made his escape from the debating chambers of the small college building, he pauses for a moment, his eyes darting between two sets of gigantic wooden doors, one set at each end of the corridor. Deciding to head to the closer one, he is rewarded with the sight of a beautiful, well maintained park as he pushes the oaken doors apart.
After finding a suitable bench, Ambrose removes his blazer and waistcoat, hanging them on the back rest. Checking around him, he makes sure there is ample space, before he begins moving through the motions of blocking with his watch, letting his mind wander again.
By now, he has practiced for several months, and the improvement in his technique is obvious in the way his arms jitter less than before, flowing smoothly from stance to stance as he shuffles slowly across the manicured lawn. His even, measured breath does not stutter as his wrist flicks outward, a small pulse of energy striking out.
A gentle cough interrupts him, and he turns mid-sweep.
There is a girl standing before him. About his height, clad in apprentice robes, her slim face framed by short brown hair. She leans in closer, before prodding him in the chest.
“Your legwork is sloppy.”
She points at the grass underneath his shoes. If you looked hard enough, you could see the faint impression of patterned heels.
“You’re putting too much weight on your feet, and you’re dragging yourself across the grass.”
She moves a short distance away from him, pulling her skirt up slightly, so that he could see her feet gliding noiselessly across the lawn.
Ambrose watches intently for the next thirty minutes as the girl demonstrates her way, carefully explaining it as best she could. Soon, he is trying to emulate her, stumbling slightly as his feet struggle to adapt to the subtle new movement.
“I see,” he concludes, raising the balls of his feet experimentally, “It’s in the ankles, you say?”
The two of them stare at each other for a while, before Ambrose offers his hand,
“I forgot to introduce myself, Ambrose.”
The girl takes his hand, shaking it firmly,
An unfamiliar voice calls out, “I see you two ‘ave met on good terms.”
The two children jump slightly, as both Master Alders and another old man make their way towards them, their lively discussion now abandoned in favour of the two children.
“Master, I didn’t hear you coming,” Ambrose says, standing to attention, “Is your speech over?”
“Cool yer heels lad,” the unfamiliar man begins, doffing his flat cap at the boy, “Your teachy here just finished ‘is speech to the assembly. Good ol’ Gerhardt loves ta hear ‘imself though, sa I don’t fink we’ll get anywhere today.”
“Ambrose, this is Master Walker,” Alders says, waving a hand cordially at his companion, “And you’ve met Elsa, I see.”
Elsa curtsies to Alders, before quickly rejoining her master.
Alders checks his watch, before giving a small groan of annoyance, “I’m afraid Boyce, there is no time for a proper introduction. It’s a great pity.”
“No matter Ald. We’ve got time next week. Pop on by if you could.”
“Very well. Ambrose, get your coat and jacket, we must head back.”
As the two older men shake hands, Ambrose wanders over to the bench, replacing his waistcoat and blazer, before running off after Master Alders he leaves at a brisk pace through the park, whilst Elsa and her master return into the stone building behind.
He quickly takes a look back, and sees Elsa waving at him at the door of the building.
He waves back, before chasing after his master once again...
“Hey. Hey, Ambrose. Wake up.”
You blink half-heartedly, feeling the stiffness in your shoulders and legs as you stretch. But that is nothing, compared to the urgent throbbing in your head.
Reimu is tapping her feet to a slow, steady beat as she waits for you to sit up.
“C’mon, it’s past 5 o’clock. We should be heading back soon.”
You check your watch. It is indeed past five o’clock.
5.02 in the afternoon to be precise. Wow.
As Reimu drags you out of the cottage, Marisa waves goodbye from her doorway,
“Come back soon, okay Reimu? Oh, and bring Ambrose over as well, I want a rematch next time!”
You feel slightly dizzy at the moment, unable to make a coherent reply.
Reimu just sighs, guiding you back to the path out of the forest as the two of you begin making your way back to the shrine. She looks a bit... frustrated right now, and you are increasingly aware of the way she seems very tense. Did something happen whilst you were asleep?
You feel like saying something...
 “Long day?”
 “Is something the matter, Reimu?”
 “So, what did you two get up to while I was asleep?”
 “I think I may have overdone it today...”
 ... you think silence would be best, actually.