The shrine maiden turned her back towards the two visitors. Slapping her purifying rod twice on her palm, she spoke. "Since there isn't any more to talk about, I trust that you people would kindly leave the shrine grounds now, no?" Reimu turned her head slightly, just enough to be able to have a clear view of the two girls.
"Besides, it is getting rather late," Reimu turned around completely now, slowly stepping towards the door, "and you might like to hurry back to the Human Village lest you don't make it there before dusk."
The shrine maiden pulled aside a panel of the sliding door, creating a path outside of the room. She lifted her arm in what would look like she were ushering her guests.
The teacher did not wait to stand up and head straight for the exit, putting her hand on her accompaniment's arm and dragging her out of the room with herself.
The door promptly slid shut upon their exit.
The girl in the dress walked down the steps of the Hakurei Shrine, sighing. Their strongest lifeline was gone, and yet she could do nothing about it. Even though she was walking downwards towards the base of the stairs, each step felt heavier than the last. The white-haired girl put her hand onto the teacher's shoulder. Keine felt it almost immediately, jumping a little before she turned herself towards her friend. In a tone with little more than annoyance, Keine spoke, "Stop doing that, Mokou. Don't frighten me like that when I am thinking about how we should solve this problem."
"You know, we could always solve the incident ourselves. Besides, nobody ever said that we had to have others with us," Mokou stated matter-of-factly.
"Yes," the girl acknowledged. However, she continued, "but have you spared a thought for what the humans would do when the mist comes while we are resolving the incident? Not every human is a half-beast or a Immortal, you know. They could suffer more detrimental effects. Besides, there are not many notably strong humans in the Human Village with special abilities like us, except maybe Mr Rinnosuke, Miss Kosuzu and perhaps Miss Akyuu, if she can be considered to have a special ability. Then again, they are all non-combatants."
The white-haired girl nodded in agreement. There indeed were not many people who were like Keine and herself. However, she did know another human who had power, lots of power, and also resolves incidents as the counterpart to Reimu with the power she obtained from magic.
"Say, Keine," she waited for the teacher to turn around again, giving her attention to herself, "you know of Mr Kirisame's daughter, no?"
"Mr Kirisame's daughter? Hm. . ." the teacher paced around for a while before she arrived at an answer, "Oh, you mean Marisa Kirisame!"
"Yeah. Why can't we just go to the forest of magic and ask her for help? I doubt she will reject us."
The girl in the blue dress looked at her watch. It was about half-past twelve, so making a sidetrack to the forest of magic would probably take about three hours by foot, and thirty minutes by flight.
"I know what you are thinking," the white-haired girl spoke in a voice that seemed like a warning, "so I'll just tell you that you can't enter the forest of magic with how dense it is if you fly. We'll have to walk through the understory when we reach the entrance of the forest."
Keine nodded her head to signal that she understood, then readied herself for a jump. Leaping into the air, she traveled forwards, as if an invisible force was supporting her body. The white-haired girl followed soon after.
Two humans carefully stepped through the interior of a dense forest. The two girls journeying through the dense undergrowth witnessed the many flora and fauna on the forest floor, ranging from oddly coloured, apparently parasitic flowers to mushrooms with an abnormal exterior and only recognizable from the weak resemblance they have with the standard mushroom to the countless vines that seemed to pour from the high branches of the emergents to the ground, forming dense, complex patterns that looked as if it were flowing water. Trapped in a space of low lighting in the understory, the teacher and the Hourai Immortal threaded gingerly over the dense system of roots and vines. Occasionally, a fallen tree would block their way -- however, with no direction whatsoever, there was not a 'way' to speak of.
The surrounding scenery seemed to keep moving in a loop. The blue-haired girl just could not find anything not familiar around here after trekking through the forest for thirty minutes to no avail. She knew she was running out of patience.
"Hey, Mokou!" Keine called out to the friend that was moving far faster than her in front, "Are you sure this is the right way?"
"Do I have to keep telling you that the forest of magic is a large place and it isn't easy to navigate through it?"
Thinking that she had caught Mokou admitting to her apparent being clueless of the direction they had to head in, she spoke in an accusing manner, "So you do not know where Marisa is, then."
"Well then, come to where I am now and I show you proof that we have not been walking in circles for the past half-an-hour."
The Hourai Immortal tapped her feet repeatedly while waiting for her slower friend. When she had caught up, she looked away in both defeat and embarrassment.
"Fine, you win."
The two girls ended up in a clearing with a single western-styled house. A simple dirt path cleared from the carpet grass that was grown in the clearing lead to the entrance of the house. The house's exterior had concrete walls painted with beige paint with elongated rectangular windows with a semicircular finish at the top lining the outside of the walls at small intervals. Plants also grew on the walls, and even grew on top of the black-tiled roof, obviously showing that the owner did not bother to maintain her home. A wooden door with two black hinges formed the entrance of the house.
Mokou took the lead, walking at a fast pace than Keine. She approached the wooden door and knocked twice, then waited from a response.
Not even the sound of footsteps were heard.
"Let me try," the teacher tapped Mokou's shoulder, and she stepped back automatically. Taking a step forward herself, the door soon met with a barrage of attacks from the knuckles of Keine's clenched fist.
The sound of hard knocks against wood resounded throughout the clearing.
"Maybe she isn't home," Mokou mused, ready to turn around and walk back. "You know, I heard she hangs out at another magician's home a lot so we can try her home instead. Her name was Al--"
The white-haired girl watched as a blonde girl in a blue dress with a white caplet walked through a dense brush onto the dirt path. Turning towards her friend, she reported, "Oh, there she is."
The girl identified as Alice walked towards the duo standing before before the door. Raising her arm that was not keeping the thick black book she carried to her side, she pointed at the two humans standing before her.
"Who are you two," the blonde girl spoke in a soft voice, barely audible, but somehow managing a threatening tone, "and what you are two doing here?"
Keine turned around, walking towards the girl who questioned her, and tried to explain herself, "Well, you see, we are here to ask of your friend, Marisa, for assistance in helping us with resolving this incident of a Scarlet Mist down at Misty Lake that is heading for the Human Village." Taking a few more steps forward, she continued, "And it just so happens that--"
A burst of flames came before the teacher, causing her to take two steps back. The white haired girl stood at the side, her outstretched left hand still smothering from conjuring the flames.
"You would've been dead if you had taken one more step forward," the girl in pants lowered her head, eying at the thin, silver, string-like flash before the blue-haired girl. Keine looked downwards, and indeed there was a barely visible string, pulled taut, that acted like a tripwire.
The girl with the heavy book took a step forward.
"You should be thanking your friend, human. One more step," Alice moved her hand in a wide arc, and the ground before the teacher burst into flames, "and you would've been part of the scorched earth right there."
"What do you mean? We are just here to ask of Marisa for help!" The teacher flailed her hands in exasperation.
"Well then, you are free to be gone from here now that you have finished what you have to say," the girl took three more steps forward to the teacher, her breath easily being felt by Keine.
"I would like to meet her myself," demanded the teacher.
"But I don't trust you." The girl before the teacher spoke matter-of-factly, before continuing in a sarcastic tone, "Ah, whatever shall we do?" The girl named Alice finished off her sentence with a sweep of her hands, revealing two intricately carved dolls, donning black dresses and white aprons. Both dolls were so well done they looked almost alive, to the point where even the breathing of the dolls were simulated. Five strings from each doll linked itself to their owner.
The Hourai Immortal walked towards the offending girl, staring her square in the eyes.
"You see, however," the white-haired girl spoke, "it is a situation of two-against-one, and at this rate you are easily going down."
The blonde girl burst into laughter.
"Are you saying that the two girls before me, human
girls at that, that do not know anything about magic are about to challenge a magician to a duel?" The girl manipulating the dolls restrained her laugh to a chuckle, then regained her composure.
"Try me," Mokou declared. Enveloping her fist in flames, she threw a punch at the girl. The girl turned her head towards the side, narrowly grazing the flames.
"I'll take that as a declaration of the intent to do battle." The girl held out her hand, manifesting a blue card within the gap of her index and middle fingers from a burst of pure white light. Holding out the card towards the two girls before her, she taunted.
"Well then, since it is a two-against-one, I'll go easy on you two humans and use only one spell card."
"So," the teacher held out her hand, likewise manifesting a brown card from thin air, "you are going to duel the both of us?"
The Hourai Immortal engulfed her outstretched hands in flames, then extinguished it, revealing a talisman with red-and-orange outlines. Soon after, a faint red outline of a pentagram enclosed within two circles formed. Red light slowly traced through the symbol on the ground, dying the outlines a dark shade of scarlet.
"You asked for it," Mokou responded. Holding up the spellcard, she spoke. "Spell Card, set. One Life, Stocked."
Keine followed soon after, creating a yellow pentagram below her feet before holding up her Spell Card. "Spell Card, Set! One Life Stocked!"
The girl with the grimoire did not wait, already having drawn a blue pentagram. Levitating her spell card from her hands, she started speaking, "Spell Card Set, One Life Stocked," before returning the spell card to her hand.
The two girls stared at the antagonising girl, the pyrokinetic keeping her spellcard, making it vanish it flames, then stood with fists clenched and the teacher holding tightly onto her spell card. The three girls declared in unison.
Keine held up her Spell Card before declaring towards her opponent.
"I declare! Spellcard: Land Sign 「Three Sacred Treasures -Sword-」!"
Almost immediately, the card flashed a bright yellow before deforming into pure white light. The white light gathered around the teacher's hands, forming the shape of a calamus before dissipating, leaving a sword about 84 centimeters in length fashioned in a white metallic colour. Holding up the sword, the blue-haired teacher charged at her opponent.
"Using a Spell Card so early? Oh, my, I seem to have overestimated you." Alice faked a sigh, before flexing her fingers. A third doll seemed to appear from nowhere, and with a swipe of its master's hands, flew towards the the blue-haired girl while brandishing a spear.
"You," the teacher swung her blade in a wide arc slicing the doll cleanly into two, receiving an "Oh?" of amusement from her opponent, "are completely underestimating the might of the first of the three treasures of the Yamato Kingdom." She stood before the fallen doll, stepping on its remains. "You have no idea how powerful this sword is."
"Is that so?" the blonde girl forced a reply, "Show me."
"Kusanagi no Tsurugi," the teacher called as she held her blade with her hands in a ninety-degree angle before her chest, with the tip pointing towards the sky. Clouds gathered in the air, seemingly closing in at the area of the sky the sword points to. The girl continued, "In the name of the Son of Heaven, I call forth the winds!"
Alice stood still and observed the girl, trying to understand how the sword worked. However, the sword soon disappeared. Her lips opened of their own accord, letting out an exclamation.
Keine maneuvered her hands in a motion akin to holding onto a sword and cutting air, and almost immediately a wave of compressed air hit Alice, sending her flying backwards. However, a white, frosted spell circle exploded from within her hands.
"Declaration! Spellcard: Magic Sign「Artful Sacrifice!」"
The girl with the caplet immediately returned to a neutral standing position, however with her Spell Card dissipating from her hands into blue energy before infusing itself into the girl.
"See?" The white-haired girl, who hasn't started even using a single move, started to speak. "You are really too confident. You need to learn to put down your overconfidence! You lost a bomb to your foolishness."
Keine added on, "This sword, in case you didn't know, would be the Kusanagi no Tsurugi, the sword that is part of the Imperial Regalia of Japan. As to why it disappeared, you can see for yourself." The surrounding grass bended away from the direction of the sword as strong gusts of wind dispersed themselves. The sword blurred into focus in a matter of seconds.
Alice's eyes flashed as she came to a realisation, So, it was the movement of the compressed air that made the sword invisible!
The teacher planted her sword into the ground, driving it into the soil with her two hands. She leaned against it as she spoke, "Now that I have proved what a 'mere human', as you have said, can do to you, you might like to consider fighting my friend. To hammer the fact that you have lost to a human, of course."
"Well then, it's my turn." Using her feet to kick herself forward, the white-haired girl sped towards the puppeteer. Her opponent retaliated with a series of jabs with her dolls from the right, forcing her to sidestep twice. The instant she did that, she regretted what she has done.
"Magic Sign「Artful Sacrifice!」"
Her opponent conjured a doll within her hands and, infusing it with her magical power, threw it not at the Immortal, but at the ground before her. A gigantic pillar of fire burst from where the doll landed, causing the dust on the blast radius to be blown into the air. Creating a dust cover for herself, the puppeteer moved her index fingers, causing her two accompanying puppets to spray countless bullets at Mokou, taking advantage of the dust cloud caused by her explosive doll.
"I told you, your powers are nothing comparable to mine," the blonde girl spoke in a condescending manner. Conjuring one more doll, she infused it with magic, lighting the fuse on the doll.
"This will show you the difference in power between us! 「Artful Sacrifice!」"
The girl threw the doll towards the dust cloud, which detonated upon reaching its target. There was no way that her opponent could have escaped the barrage, especially when it has blown up the the whole of the area grown with grass to the right of the dirt path. The teacher immediately corrected her posture, recalling her sword into card form, causing the sword to deform into light and solidify into a card. Although she was sure a strong human like Mokou would be able to advert the attack, she was still worried due to the sheer amount of explosives the puppeteer had used.
The blonde girl turned around to look at Keine. Proud of her own apparent victory, she spoke proudly, "Now, human, do you realise the extent of my powers?"
A blonde girl stood in the middle of the room amidst the mountains of assorted junk, with her hands on a test-tube with two centimeters-cubed of quicksilver in her hands. Making sure as to not contaminate her clothing with the dangerous mercury, she poured it with both of her hands onto another test tube sitting on a test tube rack on the table before her. The mercury sunk below the colourless liquid and settled at the bottom of the test tube. Lifting up the test tube from its rack with her left hand, her right reached for the book on alchemy beside the test tube rack. There is only one step left, I'll just have to--
A sudden tremor hit the room, causing the girl to step backwards. Unfortunately, a badly placed book happened to be in the way and the girl, thrown off balance, hit the book with the heel of her foot and fell backwards. The test tube flew out of her hand as pain shot into her system from her injured heel, and she fell backwards into a stack of books. The stack of books gave way, and the girl fell onto the hard, wooden floor while the test tube hit the ground in front of her and exploded into flames.
Spending nary a moment to regroup herself, she grabbed her broom by the side of the room and repeatedly beat the broom against the fire, trying to extinguish it.
However, chemical fires were not that easily put out. The broom quickly caught fire, and the girl immediately reached for the octagonal block of wood on the table. Aiming the Eight Trigrams Furnace at the fire, she channeled magical energy into it before calling out her spell.
A blast of cold ice was shot at the fire, quickly starving it of heat and rendering it unable to continue burning. Bending downwards, she picked up the remaining pieces of the test tube and placed it on the table. However, almost immediately, the girl was knocked down by yet another tremor.
"Who is that causing all those tremors? I'll be sure to exterminate her good. . ."
Alice staggered backwards as the Hourai Immortal attempted to land a strike to the left of her body. The searing heat from the flames on the white-haired girl's hands was felt by her as she dodged a second strike, this time a punch to her right. The girl did not even wait before going for a roundhouse kick, in which the last of the blonde girl's dolls blocked for her -- and was smashed into pieces. With no more weapons on hand, the puppet-less puppeteer carried blocking the physical strikes with her bare arms. She definitely did not expect the attacking girl to have been able to escape the explosive dolls' assault, much less dodge the curtain fire that she created.
A sweeping kick, followed by a punch then an uppercut. Three hits came into contact with Alice, however, she blocked them all. The signs of pain were visible on the defending girl's face, with her gritting her teeth and knitting her eyebrows. The relentless assault continued. A fourth strike grazed the blonde girl's shoulder, while a fifth hit her square in the stomach. The injured girl staggered a few steps backwards from the pain, then half-kneeled onto the ground.
"I-- I give," the defeated girl submitted, breathing heavily while keeping her eyes to the ground. Blood mixed with saliva dripped from her open mouth, but she did not care. The pain was too much to bear.
"There. You have lost your only 'life'. So let us see Marisa," Mokou demanded, speaking coldly towards the girl. Keine immediately rushed over, kneeling beside a thoroughly defeated Alice. Turning towards Mokou, the teacher pleaded, "Can't you see that this girl is hurt really badly? I mean, she's going through internal bleeding although she would recover from it easily since she's a Youkai--"
All of a sudden, the white-haired girl turned her head. The teacher, in curiousity, followed suit. What greeted their sight was a single human, dressed in a monochrome theme with a black vest, white undershirt and black skirt. Putting a black witch's hat over her blonde hair, she held out a octagonal block of wood. Blue coloured particles seemed to be drawn from the surroundings into the center of the structure.
There was buzzing sound. A loud, humming, buzzing sound.
The duo need not be told twice. Carrying the puppeteer in their arms, they ran for cover from the deadly laser that emerged from the centre of the furnace the girl with the monochrome dress scheme was holding. The gigantic laser blew a hole clean through the forest, and when it ended, all that was left was a long trail of glowing red scorched earth.
The witch walked towards the trio that hid behind a brush, demanding a reply from the cause of the incident. "Now, whoever you are who has caused those tremors around here, GET OUT HER NOW."
The three girls walked out from behind the cover of the brushes, heads hung as if they were children being reprimanded. Before Marisa could have lashed out at the three, she realised that she recognized all of them.
"Miss Kamishirasawa, Mokou and Alice? What in the world have you three been doing?"
Man~ If only Alice went harder, then she would've been able to hold her own against Mokou and Keine. She shouldn't have underestimated her opponent's powers. . . >>170517
Thanks for your comment. I will note that in my further writings.
Anyways, welcome to the next poll! For those who are wondering why Yuuka and Minoriko + Shizuha haven't appeared yet, it is because I have managed to tie them in to the story that would occur either in the next update or the second-next update. For now, however, your choice will decide how the story will play out.
[ ] Marisa and Alice join the Scarlet Mist Incident Resolving Team as team members of Keine's team ('immediate' teammates)
[ ] Marisa and Alice join the Scarlet Mist Incident Resolving Team, however act as a team separate from Keine's. ('extended' teammates, I'll call this team team Marisa if you choose this option. Rest assured I will still cover their actions and they will rejoin the main team in the long run)
[ ] Write your own option! If it gets popular enough, then your option may be used!
With that said. . .
Scarlet Mist Incident Resolving Team
Fujiwara no Mokou