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170178 No. 170178
This is my first time writing a story. From the title, you could probably guess that I am writing a story that links EoSD with PCB. Opinions are very much welcome.

Indeed, that is my plan for this story, though eventually the plot with expand to IN, PoFV and MoF. I shall be depicting spellcard battles as largely physical combat than anything, so please do not be upset about the lack of bullets.

Without further ado, here is the prologue.
________________________________________________
A lone girl sat at the porch of an old, traditional Japanese house as she looked into the winter landscape in the midst of the surrounding darkness. It was the fifteenth day of the third month. She craned her neck forward, to see when the falling flakes of snow would finally stop.

Just then, a ray of light shone over the horizon and cut through the dark shade of blue in the skies. The girl stood up, and heaved herself back through the doors of her room.

No. 170180
It looks like you screwed up. To delete your thread, tick the little square beside the subject line and hit the delete button at the bottom of the page.

Unless you're putting the rest in another post?
No. 170182
Yes, I am sorry that the prologue is really that short.
It was just to give an overview of what was pretty much happening in Gensokyo through my protagonist's eyes.
No. 170183
One point of note: leave the e-mail field blank. It's not necessary and can invite spam.
No. 170184
Thank you for the advice.
No. 170185
>>/gensokyo/6052/

Read this and drop the email next time you post.

Why separate the chapters into different threads ? It would be much easier if you would stick all of them into a single thread.
No. 170190
Ah, thank you. I shall do that now.
No. 170191
Author's note: I apologize for causing inconvenience. Rest assured that I'll be careful from now on.

"Right, Children. Please return back to the classroom. Outdoor class is over."

A group of children huddled around a girl with pale blue hair in a dark blue dress, with strange, interloping patterns hanging by the base of her dress and the sleeves of her dress.

"But, Miss Keine, we still want to play in the snow!"

The girl fought back her urge to allow the children to continue playing in the snow. As much as she enjoyed outdoor class with her students, she just could not allow them to get sick for playing so long in the snow.

She gave a reluctant look to the children. The children immediately picked it up, and keep pestering the teacher, knowing that she'd yield in due time.

"But Miss Mokou always plays with us! Please, Miss Keine?"

The girl hesitated still.

However, her mental dilemma was to be prematurely ended as a white-haired girl jumped into the school compound from a high branch on a tree adjacent to the school yard. Performing a double somersault in the air, she landed perfectly on the snow-covered ground.

Keine stared at the white-haired girl, who had red, talisman like ribbons with white outlines tied to her hair, and wore a buttoned shirt and a pair of overly baggy trousers held by a pair of suspenders.

Meanwhile, the children stood, awestruck by the girl's dramatic entrance.

However, the girl with pale blue hair was not at all impressed. She snapped.

"How many times, Mokou, have I to tell you not to jump in like that in front of the kids? If they learn to do that, they might just injure themselves! How immature must you be for a person who has lived a hundred times longer than the twelve-year-old children here?"

Mokou took a step back, as if she was staggering backwards from the teacher's outburst. Then, she put on a nonchalant look and spoke in a sarcastic tone.

"Yes, Miss Keine."

Keine picked up the sarcasm immediately and shot a cold gaze towards the white-haired girl. The girl immediately stood in attention.

"So, why did you come here? I thought you were in the Bamboo Forest of the Lost, running your food stand as usual?"

Mokou hesitated for a moment and replied.

"Well, business is not good lately due to the lack of people traveling outside the human village in Gensokyo-"

"You mean, it was never good."

The girl in red pants took the remark harshly.

"Well, fine, it's not that good, okay?"

The blue-haired teacher chuckled.

"Well, so, I was tending to some flowers just now-"

The girl suddenly cut her sentence, then knitted her eyebrows for a moment before speaking.

"Oh, yeah, I think Hieda no Akyuu was looking for you. She said that it was something about this red mist she saw while she was out on a walk. A frail thing, that girl..."

Keine paced around for a moment, then, as if hit by a sudden realization, she tapped Mokou on the shoulder before rushing out of the school's gates, looking backwards while shouting at her white-haired friend.

"Take care of the kids for me!"

Mokou could only stare in shock. Then, she just shrugged, and turned towards the children, which were all gathered around her. As she tried to come up with an idea as to how she would manage the children, a child asked a question.

"Miss Mokou, how do you stay so young even after living so long?"

"Well, you see, I'm a Hourai Immortal."

Immediately anticipating the children's next question and not wanting to answer it, she tried to change the topic. She needed a distraction.

Just then, an idea came to her mind. She poised her hand, as if she was holding a paper card, and flames engulfed her hands as a few talisman-like objects appeared in the flames. The flames then extinguished themselves, and the talismans remained, held by her fingers.

"Miss Mokou is always so cool!" The kids said in unison as they clamored for the best view of the act.

The girl wondered about what to do after diverting the children's attention. Perhaps she could make the children count them, but that would be for kindergarten kids. Pausing to think for awhile, she came up with a more interesting plan in mind.

"Anyone wants to watch some fireworks?"
No. 170193
Note: This is chapter 2 to Falling Scarlet Cherry Blossoms. Prologue is 0 and Scarlet Mist is 1.

"Akyuu, are you are saying that you saw mist that was red in colour by the Misty Lake?"

The short girl with purple hair in a traditional Japanese dress answered almost immediately.

"Yes, and I remember seeing the plants in the Scarlet Mist show signs of withering too. This means that it is dangerous to the wildlife. I suspect that the mist may be harmful to humans. Also, since the wind is blowing towards the human village from the lake--"

Something hit Keine, and she cut off Akyuu's sentence.

"You mean, it is very possible for the human village to come into contact with that mist?"

The purple-haired girl sighed.

"I fear that it is so."

The girl with pale-blue hair started becoming fidgety.

"By when would the mist come?"

Akyuu fetched a piece of paper and her brush, scribbling some things in illegible handwriting before giving a reply.

"At most, two days."

Keine sat wide-eyed for a moment. She definitely could not let the humans come into contact with that mist, but she did not have any counter-plan nor was the human village prepared against that. Just as she sat in a mental dilemma, thinking of what she could do, she remembered a girl dressed in red and white.

"Isn't the Hakurei Shrine Maiden supposed to do something about this incident? I mean, if that mist reaches the human village..."

The girl in the Japanese dress shook her head.

"Reimu is renowned for her laziness. It is only natural that she would do something only when she starts to see serious consequences unfold before her eyes."


The girl in the blue dress looked into Akyuu's eyes hopefully.

"But we cannot possibly leave the humans like this, can we?"

The girl thought for a while before replying.

"Well, I would recommend moving to higher ground, since the mist happens to linger near to the ground... It is rather dense, so we should be clear should we move to higher ground."

"Yeah, let's do just that. Though, where can me move to? We can't possibly evacuate the whole village to Youkai mountain, can we?"

Akyuu did not hesitate to answer that question.

"Let's get the people to go up the mountain path to the Hakurei Shrine. The shrine grounds should be large enough to serve as a place of refuge for the humans from the scarlet mist. Then, we can work on solving the incident. Though, I am not sure if Reimu would do allow that, though."

Keine replied to that confidently.

"I am sure she would understand. After all, as the Hakurei Shrine Maiden, she is obliged to help the humans.."

Keine stood up, bowed to Akyuu, and walked off.
No. 170201
Hue. Clever. Pushing the townsfolk into Reimu's shrine forces her to get off her lazy ass and fix the incident.
On a writing related note, you keep reusing phrases and have some issues with wordiness.

"A group of children huddled around a girl with pale blue hair in a dark blue dress, with strange, interloping patterns hanging by the base of her dress and the sleeves of her dress. "

You used "of her dress" a bit too much in proximity of each other. Repetition is a bit of a problem through out actually. It's fine to reuse phrases and similar sentence structure in a story, but it should be spaced out. Never close. Together. It's also really unnecessarily wordy. One way, though not the only way to solve both:
"A group of children huddled around a girl with pale, blue hair the locks contrasting with the strange, interloping patterns hanging on the pleats and sleeves of her dark blue dress."

These are mostly style issues though. Don't worry. You'll get better with practice.
I'm not perfectly sure, but you may have some coma splices in there. Your grammar seems well off otherwise.

Oh, and welcome to THP new writefag. If you need some one to review a post, help with writing, editing, ask around on #thp or #eientei. Ofri-helpdesk is usually around and willing to help
No. 170202
Never thought of it that way, that it would be a way to force Reimu to get out and solve stuff.

Anyways, thank you for being the first to review my story and give me constructive comments! I will take note of them.

Anyways, I'm not sure if someone of Reimu's personality would submit to that easily, and Keine is going to have to ask for permission first.
No. 170204
So I was to put a vote as to how the actions would go! Well, I just learned of it, so do excuse me!

Vote:
[ ] Ask Reimu nicely for permission, for you are a teacher

[ ] Danmaku Battles are the way to go for Reimu's attitude.

[ ] (Write your own course of action! If it gets popular, then we'll do as you wish!)

Well then, go and vote~

(Note: Keine is *supposed* to be the protagonist of this run, though I'd be fine with writing according to everyone's ideas. Have fun~)
No. 170205
[x] Offer to donate to Reimu's shine.

Reimu has it hard enough to solve incidents withou t being paid.
No. 170207
[x] Offer to donate to Reimu's shine.

why not.

PS, as an addendum to >>170201
>>blue is a good board to get proofers and writing advice/help if you're scared of/do not want to go to #THP on rizon.

Good luck new writefriend.
No. 170222
[x] Offer to donate to Reimu's shine.

>>170205

I've heard she drinks the blood of her fallen enemies for sustenance. Don't go up to her evil spirit possessed shrine at night man.
No. 170260
[x] Tell her that more people at her shrine means more donations.
No. 170267
Well, the poll has closed (I was aiming for three votes anyways, exceeded expectations).

Gonna write in the next chapter now.

Winning option: [x] Donate to Reimu
No. 170283
The sky was dyed a light hue of scarlet and the sun was on the verge of dropping off the horizon. The teacher was walking back to her school with a hastened pace, remembering that she had yet to dismiss her students, her having been too engrossed in her conversation with Akyuu. Although she knew that the students would probably be safe with Mokou, she was sure that the children's parents would not forgive her negligence towards the students if they found out. She retracted her mental remark about her white-haired friend when she saw multiple flashes of flame coming from the school yard. Picking up her pace, she pushed past the gate at the archway to the school.

The flames on Mokou's hands were doused by her fear of her friend. The girl with the squared hat was not about to praise her for teaching the children about setting slips of paper on fire.

Keine clenched and unclenched her fist, hoping that her anger at the thoughtless immortal would subside. It did not help much, but at least it allowed her to regain her composure.

Fine, I'll let it slide for now. I won't punish her, not in front of the children. Dismiss the children, punishment later.

Squeezing her eyes shut and taking a deep breath, she forced a smile as she held open the school gates. The children knew what to do, greeting the teacher with a "Thank you Miss Keine!" before they flooded the exit.

Mokou recognized that smile. She was not looking forwards to what would happen next. Mentally preparing herself for a lecture, she walked towards her blue-haired friend with a look of innocence on her face. Hopefully, she could divert Keine's attention to her present anger.

"Ah. . . hey, Keine! So, what happened at Akyuu's?"

The white-haired girl mentally brought her head into her hands at the weak attempt that she made. It was never going to work. Much to her surprise, though, it did.

Keine turned herself to lock the school gates before replying to the question. "Akyuu told me about some Scarlet Mist that was floating around misty lake. It seems to be rather dangerous, considering that the flora around the lake was wilting in the mist, but it should not reach the human village until two days later--"

The Hourai Immortal cut in, "So, you mean that there is this dangerous mist out there and we do not know its source or possible detrimental effects to humans other than the fact that 'It seems to be rather dangerous, considering that the flora around the lake was wilting in the mist'," the girl paused to take a breath, "and we have no counterplan to it other than acknowledging the fact that it will reach the human village in two days?"

Keine was impatient. Her friend was definitely not good with timing, considering that she had lived so long and probably had conversed with many more people before she was born. Taking a deep breath, she spoke, "Why can't you wait for me to complete my sentence? Repeating everything I know is not going to help me in coming up with a counter-plan anyways."

Mokou parted her lips, hesitated for a moment, then closed her mouth, not wanting to admit defeat yet having nothing to rebut with. The teacher, seeing that the girl before her had been thoroughly subdued, continued.

"I am going to the Hakurei Shrine tomorrow at dawn to have a few talks with the Hakurei Shrine Maiden. She has to do something about this mist, or at the very least aid with the protecting of the Human Village Populace as they evacuate there."

Just as she was about to end her sentence, an idea came to mind.

"And you are coming with me, Mokou. As punishment, of course. If you thought that I had forgotten about your playing with fire with the children, you are wrong. Teachers have good memory after all."

The white-haired girl flailed her arms in protest, but it went unseen by Keine. Resigning to fate, she bade goodbye to her friend with the square hat before retiring for the night.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Snow lined the roof of the Hakurei Shrine. The yard outside the shrine was piled with snow, the result of a constant snowing that has carrier on for five months. Needless to say, the trees had snow piled on top of them, with some snow falling off the leaves of the trees periodically. Broken branches and detached leaves strewn across the shrine grounds also greeted its visitors -- not that the shrine had many visitors to begin with, even more so with the prolonged winter. As such there was barely any signs of maintainance visible on the shrine grounds.

A young girl dressed in a red, sleeveless shirt, two oversized white arm warmers and a red longskirt manuveured her arms in a sweeping motion as she held onto a broom. She stood contented as she swept the last of the piles of slow into a huge pile settling by a corner of the shrine grounds. It was a temporary solution to how her shrine kept collecting the snow from the long winter, however it was all she could do for now.

Leaving her broom leaning by a tree, she walked back to the shrine. After working out so hard, trying to sweep the snow that has collected for the past three weeks, she decided that she definitely needed a reward. Perhaps she would prepare some tea and get some biscuits from the cupboard. Being frugal was a must in times where offerings have hit a minimum.

Proceeding into the kitchen, she attacked the many cupboards hanging from the walls.

The first cupboard yielded nothing, while the second presented a box of mouldy biscuits.

I forgot that this box of biscuits was from half-a-year ago. . .

Trying her luck with the third cupboard, she was greeted with a single box of tea leaves. She reached for the box, though she snapped it back after hearing the almost-alien sound of footsteps that she had not heard in a long time.

"Finally, someone has come to visit my shrine!" The excited shrine maiden exclaimed to no-one in particular.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The teacher bowed before the shrine before walking towards the donation box with her purse in her hands and two boxes of biscuits. The white-haired girl besides her walked before the teacher and blocked her with an outstretched arm. Opening her mouth, she started to speak.

"You do know that this shrine does not receive many donations because the shrine maiden is lazy, don't you." The girl spoke monotonously.

"Still, it is common courtesy to bring offerings along when you visit a shrine. After all, they are in charge of rites and rituals relating to the gods. It is only right to fund them for the services that they have done."

The Hourai Immortal threw her hands in the air, knowing that she would not get through to this girl. The blue-haired girl dropped the contents of her purse into the donation box that sat in the middle of the porch of the shrine. The moment the first coin hit the base of the box, the red-and-white shrine maiden rushed out from behind the shrine.

"Ah, hello! Are you here to ask for blessings from the Hakurei Shrine?"
______________________

Here goes the next poll!

I really have no options to provide you guys now, so just write any option you wish! If it gets popular enough, I'll write according to your choice!

[ ] (Write your own choice!)
No. 170306
From Mokou: [X] "Hell no you Red-white hobo. We can to tell you to get your ass in gear and fix this shit. I'm trying to run an honest business here.

-or-

From Keine: [X] We have some business to discuss with the one charged with protecting this little slice of paradise. Might you be her?
No. 170316
[X] "Hell no you Red-white hobo. We can to tell you to get your ass in gear and fix this shit. I'm trying to run an honest business here.
No. 170324
Keine, making it rain!

<<170306 both respectable options, but this one feels more colourful.
[x] We have some business to discuss with the one charged with protecting this little slice of paradise. Might you be her?
No. 170342
Mokou: [X] "Hell no you Red-white hobo. We can to tell you to get your ass in gear and fix this shit. I'm trying to run an honest business here.

and

Keine: [X] We have some business to discuss with the one charged with protecting this little slice of paradise. Might you be her?


This should make for an amusing situation.
No. 170346
Thank you for your votes! I am really glad that people actually paid attention to a newbie fic. Nice choices you guys provided me, too.

The poll has now closed, and it seems that there were two winning options! The two options will be incorporated into the next part of "A Visit to the Shrine". I'll go write it now. . .
No. 170356
Cutting off the red-and-white's excitement with an outstretched arm, the white-haired girl took a step forward. The shrine maiden immediately took the cue and stopped herself mid-sentence, hoping perhaps it was just a gesture to express that the girl in pants wanted to talk. However, her courtesy was only rewarded with abuse.

"Hell no you red-white hobo. We can to tell you to get your ass in gear and fix this shit. I'm trying to run an honest business here," Mokou snapped. However, almost immediately, the girl slapped her forehead with her palm.

What did I just say? Was I even thinking? Would she even listen with my attitude?

The shrine maiden blinked, clearly trying to process what the girl before her just said. A mere moment passed before she grasped the full meaning of what was said, understanding that she was insulted in three different ways along with being abused in terms of language. Her excitement quickly faded and anger took her over, with her brandishing her purifying rod with her right hand while pulling out three talismans with her left.

"Repeat," the red-white seethed, "the words you have just said," hissing now, bringing the tip of her purifying rod up to the face of the offending girl, "to me now."

The teacher walked forward calmly and, using the tip of her finger, lightly pushed the tip of the rod away from her friend. Making sure she pushed to such that it had returned to a non-threatening position, the girl spoke.

"Please forgive my friend for acting so rudely, and being so out-of-character. Perhaps she breathed in too much of that Scarlet Mist down at Misty Lake, so her mind is a little -- now, how shall we put it, yes, hazy right now."

Real nice save, Keine, the Hourai Immortal completed the thought with a gesture of her hands signalling "lame attempt".

The girl with the hat did notice her friend's gestures, but pretended to ignore it anyways. She continued.

"With that out of the way, I believe we have some business to discuss with the one charged with protecting this little slice of paradise. Might you be her?"

The shrine maiden kept an ice-cold stare at the white-haired girl as she stowed away her talismans and returned to a normal standing position. Speaking with a hint of discontent while still forcing some courtesy into her reply on account of the blue-haired girl's kind donations, she answered.

"I would be the person in-charge of Gensokyo's safety alright. I am Reimu Hakurei, the Hakurei Shrine Maiden," she paused for a short while before continuing, "Now, what may be the business that you wanted to discuss with me?"

"I believe we can talk that over a tea, while sitting inside a warm room," answered Keine.

While the shrine maiden turned around to lead her two visitors into the room at the back of the shrine, an audible "Piack!!" followed by a yelp echoed throughout the shrine grounds in the quiet of winter. The red-and-white turned around immediately to investigate and noticed nothing abnormal, save the reddened hand of a teacher and the cheek of a white-haired girl being redder than what would be rosy.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The three girls walked into a small room with a single table. The teacher and the shrine maiden sat at opposite sides of the table while the Hourai Immortal opted to stand by the doors, her right palm rubbing her cheek.

The shrine maiden snapped impatiently, "What is this important thing that we had to so urgently talk about in private? I am just gonna tell you first -- I do not have the spare tea leaves to make you all tea."

"The urgent matter I was trying to talk to you about," Keine sighed in disappointment at the shrine maiden's supposed-to-be-examplary attitude, "is that you are not taking action even though there is an incident unfolding before your very eyes."

"What do you even mean? There is no incident, the Youkai are not running rampant--"

"Stop feigning ignorance," Keine spoke sternly. "You very well know what went wrong and you are not doing anything about it. From up here, you can clearly see red mist near Misty Lake."

The teacher continued, "So, what are you going to do about it? Considering the fact that you are the Hakurei Shrine Maiden, you are supposed to take action against incidents, no?"

Pausing for a brief moment, words seemed to be about to flood through Reimu's lips. However, the girl swallowed, as if she were taking back what she was about to say, and replied almost monotonously.

"I express my regrets," her eyes looked away, not daring to meet with the teacher's. However, it was not in shame -- she sat upright, she did not hang her head in remorse. "I cannot help you with this."

The teacher almost regretted dropping her coins into the donation box. She breathed in deeply, ready to lash out at Reimu before deciding against it. It was better if she had settled it without conflict. Maybe there was a way to get Reimu to help out.

Maybe I can bribe her.

Taking out another purse, she placed notes amounting to three thousand yen on the table. Pushing it to the middle of the table, she spoke.

"Look, I am not asking you to help for free. Here's some money--"

The shrine maiden pushed away the money.

"Do you think I am the sort of person to be easily taken in by money? Do I look that materialistic a person?" As if hitting a sensitive spot, the shrine maiden retorted in a way that could only be described as an outburst.

"Well, what do you want me to do then? You do not want to go out to solve the incident, you do not want to get paid to solve the incident! So what do you want?" Keine breathed heavily, her rage visible.

Silence.

Not a word was exchanged for two minutes as the girl dressed in blue and the girl dressed in red and white stared at each other in the eye.

The girl in pants looked at the two girls. Though none of them moved, she was sure that the two were mentally in combat.

Ah well, it's probably my cue to come in.

Walking towards the two, she slammed her hand on the table.

"Stop it you two," berated Mokou, "you people are disgracing yourselves as a teacher and a shrine maiden."

The two girls turned towards the white-haired girl.

"Finally," the white-haired girl said, "alright, Reimu. If you are not going to do anything, I propose that you allow us to evacuate the people of the Human Village to the shrine."

Reimu hesitated before giving an answer.

"I am sorry, but I will not be able to do that. Please leave."

"Why so?" Keine questioned.

"I said that I would not be able to help you. If you must know, I was told by someone to not help you."

The shrine maiden stood up.

"I do not care what you say now, but this discussion is over."

______________________________________

I thoroughly enjoyed writing this update for some reason.

Alright guys, it's polling time again. This time, I do have some routes in mind but the ever-present (write your own response!) will still be there.

[ ] There is only one way to settle things in Gensokyo. Duel against Reimu.

[ ] Leave, but still bring all the humans to the shrine tomorrow in an attempt to force Reimu to abide to majority.

[ ] (Write your own choice! If it becomes popular enough, we'll go with your choice!)

*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Scarlet Incident Resolving Team -- 2 members
Keine Kamishirasawa
Fujiwara no Mokou
No. 170369
>being so out-of-character

Well jeez bro If you didn't want to write the write-in, you could have just said so.
No. 170379
No no no no, what I meant was that Keine knew Mokou was somewhat rude, but didn't know she was that rude. Besides, any normal person who is having her business affected by the negligence of the authorities (in this case, the way Mokou is complaining to Reimu) is natural. As for why Keine commented on Mokou being out-of-character, she was merely trying to save her. Also, Mokou has never, at least throughout this story, spoke like that before. As such, it is only that Keine felt it was unnatural.

Please do not be offended. I really thought Mokou would have a real interesting yet humorous situation the moment I saw the write-in and writing the first half of this update was pretty much why I enjoyed writing this update.

Thank you for the feedback.
No. 170380
So yeah, she would be understandably angry and would pretty much throw her courtesy out of the window. Basically, if you were to ask someone to help you, you would probably ask nicely in fear of being rejected. However, Mokou in this case accidentally let what she thought just flow out, thus her reaction.
No. 170381
Well...
[X]Leave, but still tell the humans to evacuate to the shrine. (Just screwing the miko.)
[X]Go somewhere else for potential recruits.
-[X]A Certain Witch and Her Neighbor for potential loots.
-[X]Flower Fields since wilting flora.
-[X]Goddess of Harvesting since crop damange.
No. 170517
>>170380
The thing with CYOAs is that character MUST have a in-story reason to act like they do. Otherwise, they're just lunatics (heh) Only those act without thinking.

Also, remember that characters aren't one dimensional. Mokou can be polite, Eirin can be furious and Satori can cry.
No. 170523
File 137218730931.jpg - (28.71KB , 200x200 , Alice-Margatroid-Touhou-fandoms-30966309-1200-900.jpg ) [iqdb]
170523
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?"

"Yes."

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.

"Duel!"

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.

"What?!"

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.

"Cold Inferno!"

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?"
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Author's Notes:
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
Keine Kamishirasawa
Fujiwara no Mokou
No. 170529
File 137219312631.jpg - (119.61KB , 450x467 , 408bb232dd886d0e02ae8ac6726a2ed8.jpg ) [iqdb]
170529
This update's quite a bit better than any of the previous ones, I'll give you that. However, there are still a few issues you should iron out, such as:
You constantly describe actions in the past tense. Why? Are we looking at someone's memories?
Some of the dialogue feels a little odd. I'm not the best person to advice you on this, but keep working on it.

Also, somewhat unrelated, but have you ever seen snow? Blooming flowers and snow don't really get along.

I also strongly suggest you to get a proofreader. That'll let you pick out the typos and general oddities you still have left.

That being said...

[x] Marisa and Alice join the Scarlet Mist Incident Resolving Team, however act as a team separate from Keine's.
-[x] Since Marisa and Reimu are close to each other, why not ask Marisa if she knows why the shrine maiden isn't acting?
No. 170531
[X] Marisa and Alice join the Scarlet Mist Incident Resolving Team, however act as a team separate from Keine's.
-[X] Since Marisa and Reimu are close to each other, why not ask Marisa if she knows why the shrine maiden isn't acting?

Split up, we'll cover more ground that way.
No. 170540
>>170529
Noted. I will consider getting one soon since indeed there have been many people commenting on my English.

>>170531
That's two votes to that now, then~
No. 170567
[x] Marisa and Alice join the Scarlet Mist Incident Resolving Team, however act as a team separate from Keine's.
-[x] Since Marisa and Reimu are close to each other, why not ask Marisa if she knows why the shrine maiden isn't acting?

I like your style. It seems like you improved since the first update. It is clear, shows the situation and a bit dry. But overall it is a good and solid updating!
No. 170570
File 137226854430.jpg - (21.48KB , 180x200 , yuuka.jpg ) [iqdb]
170570
The girl in the monochrome dress walked through the wooden door, holding it open for the two girls carrying an injured puppeteer. After ensuring that Alice's legs have entered the room completely, the witch closed the door, then attempted to clear the books strewn all over the floor. Keine attempted to raise her fatigued arms, which were having a hard time trying to support the injured girl's torso from beneath her arms.

"You know, you are very heavy for a girl your size," the white-haired girl complained, struggling to keep her hands at waist level as she dug her fingers deeper into the puppeteer's calves.

"Ouch! Can't you be gentler?" Alice yelped, then bit her lip to keep herself distracted from the iron grip the girl holding onto her legs applied. The white-haired girl applied a harder grip on purpose, eliciting another yelp from the injured girl.

"You know, you can always try carrying yourself."

It was not long before Marisa cleared the room adequately enough for a path clear of random clutter to be formed. Though narrow, it was just enough for two people to walk in single-file. Marisa pulled a sofa towards the center of the room as the two humans carrying the puppeteer managed walk past the mountain of junk. Making sure that the injured girl is directly over the sofa, the duo carrying her settled her down softly, then removed their hands carrying her. The monochrome magician fetched another two chairs for the teacher and the immortal, in which they accepted quickly.

Propping herself onto the table, she started, "I am sorry for having you guys wait outside there for so long. I was doing some experiments, you see," the girl pointed at the charred floor before her before continuing, "and I did not notice you guys knocking at the door until you told me a while ago. So, I believe you guys said that you had something to do here?"

Mokou responded, "We discovered this Scarlet Mist at the lake, and although we are not sure what it does to humans, it does cause plants to wilt. Even if it doesn't harm humans, if it kills what little crops the people in the human village have for food, they could all be in danger."

Keine added on, "Not only that, your friend, Reimu, is unwilling to help us--"

"Hm? Reimu, not willing to help?" Marisa questioned in disbelief, almost to the point which made it sound like suspicion. "Did she tell you the reason for not willing to help? Reimu isn't the sort to not respond to incidents."

The Hourai Immortal placed her hand over her forehead, trying to recall the exchange Keine and herself had with Reimu.

"She did say something about 'someone told me not to help you', but she cut the conversation short before we had a chance to ask any questions. Would you happen to have an idea as to why Reimu doesn't want to help?" the white-haired girl questioned.

The magician reacted to that statement with only an incredulous stare. She took a moment to process the statement before speaking. "She really doesn't look like the sort to simply listen to another person to tell her not to resolve incidents. To be honest, I really have no idea why Reimu would ever listen to anyone. She pretty much just does what she wants."

"Yeah, I thought that too," the teacher mused."From what I know about her, she hardly refuses to resolve incidents. However, since she does not want to help us, nor borrow her shrine for us to evacuate all the humans to for time being, we have lost our strongest lifeline," she finished off her sentence, dejected. However, the girl before her grinned mischievously instead. Her eyes opened wide, her two brown orbs staring at the girl before her.

"What's so funny?" the teacher questioned.

"It's funny because, y'know, nobody ever told you that you can't evacuate the villagers there anyways," Marisa swung her hand in an arc and snapped her fingers, "Reimu only said that she would not want to receive the villagers, not that she could not receive the villagers."

At this point, both Mokou and Keine raised their heads to look at the witch. Crossing her left leg over her right, she pushed her hat such that it was now above her eyebrows. "I could always help you guys out," the girl in the monochrome dress smirked, before continuing. "My old man is there after all."

The teacher's eyes' lit up, clearly hopeful. "You are saying that you'll help us in resolving the incident?"

"Why not? I have nothing to do, so does Alice. I'll form a team with her, then we can split up and cover more area," Marisa spoke confidently, as if she had a plan in mind. Alice immediately sat up, going through a series of yelps and cries of pain before managing a normal sitting position. Protesting aloud, she spoke, "Nobody ever said that I was free to help you with your foolish errands!"

However, much to her chagrin, Marisa seemingly waved her comment away with a wave of her hand. The puppeteer continued protesting, though whatever she said after was completely disregarded by the trio that was discussing on their own. Giving up, she allowed her body to go limp and crashed herself back into the sofa.

Reaching and agreement, the teacher stood up and bowed towards the monochrome witch, who quickly corrected herself by getting off the table and standing at attention. After straightening herself, the teacher spoke, "I am sure that having you and Alice to aid our efforts would be a great help." The magician immediately waved away the comment, quickly replying, "Do not mention it, I am doing this in place of Reimu, after all. Just tell me what you would need me to do."

"Well, I suppose you can come to the village tonight, maybe around 8 in the evening," the Hourai Immortal suggested. "After all, we should begin to evacuate the villagers to the Hakurei Shrine as soon as possible. Furthermore, what better time to force the duty to take care of the people upon the Shrine Maiden could we ever have other than approaching her at night? She'd be caught off-guard then."

The witch slapped her hand against Mokou's before replying. "Sure, I'll meet you guys there later on--"

Marisa suddenly turned to look towards the left of her room. Mokou and Keine turned too, but nothing was to be observed, save a low, chiming sound echoing from behind three stacks of books ranging from waist high to ceiling tall. The magician walked towards the piles of books, puzzling her two visitors as she stuck her head behind a pile, seemingly looking at something out-of-view before walking back towards the duo left clueless at her actions. The monochrome witch pointed towards the stack of books, further confusing the two dressed in red and blue respectively before her, before speaking.

"It's already four O'clock. You might like to get back to the human village now to get everyone prepared for the evacuation. Considering the fact that you had to evacuate everyone, there must not be much time left, no?"

Revelation hit the two people standing before Marisa as they finally realised that a clock was behind the books. Although surprised by their finding, they had more pressing matters relating to the time they had on hand.

"Is that so?", the Hourai Immortal asked the question to no-one in particular, in which the magician nodded. The white-haired girl continued, "Well then, let us meet at the Human Village at eight O'clock sharp. Keine and I will make our leave now. Thanks, Marisa."

The witch merely waved as her two visitors stumbled their way through the sea of clutter that covered Marisa's room, thankful that the earlier path that Marisa cleared for them was still there. The blue-haired girl pushed the door open, allowing her friend to walk through before following her white-haired friend through the door, then closing it from the outside.

The girl lying on the sofa turned her head such that her magician friend was in the field of her vision. "Marisa," the girl managed, still recovering from her previous injury, "what are you going to do now?" The blonde-haired witch picked up her Furnace, holding it in the center of her hand,"I'm going to thrash it out with Reimu tonight," then, reaching out her left hand for her broom before continuing, "and get her to help out, that's what."

"Now, if you don't mind, would you send me back to my home now, such that I can prepare myself first before going with you on your crazy errand?" Alice managed the line with such strength in her voice that it almost surprised Marisa.

Marisa set her broom on the air beside the sofa, and the broom started floating of its own accord. Heaving the doll maniac onto the broom, she muttered a few lines of incantations to her broom before lifting her head to face the girl. Tilting her head to the side in a seemingly innocent manner, the magician in black-and-white smiled. Alice immediately picked up the sarcasm in her expression. However, before she could shout 'Stop!', the broom took off, pushing through the closed door and flying out of the house, leaving a trail of the puppeteer's screams. Marisa's smile soon changed into a devilish smirk.

"Have a nice trip home, Alice!"

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
The teacher and the immortal repeated a dreaded journey through the dense undergrowth of the Forest of Magic, encountering a screaming girl being flown to an unknown destination on a broom on the way. However, there was nothing much Keine and Mokou could do to get the girl off, and the broom traveled so fast that it disappeared within the thick flora of the forest.

To pass the time while finding the way out of the forest, the girl in the blue dress tried to start a discussion. Searching for a suitable topic to talk about, she arrived at one soon enough. She tried, "Hey, Mokou," she waited for her friend's response, which came in the form of a "Yes?" before continuing. "You know, doesn't it feel strange that the winter has lasted into the third month of the year already?"

The white-haired girl burned a hole through wall of vines, stepped through the newly burned opening, then answered, "I do think that way too. In fact, it even seems as if the Scarlet Mist had something to do with this extremely long winter." The girl waited on the other side of the hole for her blue-haired friend.

"Well," the girl started as she lifted her long skirt slightly to allow herself to raise her leg high enough to cross through the opening created by the flames, "if the two cases were linked, then the person must have something against us. It is essentially a two-pronged attack on both our food supplies and our health, with the winter killing off most of the more fragile crops and the Scarlet Mist being potentially dangerous to humans."

Mokou proceeded to walk in front, burning down an obstructing branch. "However, it does not make sense. To cut off food supplies and try to attack with a mist that would be like how wars are fought in the past by burning the crop and poisoning the water source. I can't think of anyone who would wage war on us, though."

The girl with the square hat walked forwards to the white haired girl before giving her thoughts, "You know, it could be any Youkai. Considering how the humans are now protected by the Spell Card Rules implemented by the Hakurei Shrine Maiden exactly five months ago, I can expect any of those monsters to want to attack us through a loophole in the rules out of spite."

The Hourai Immortal crossed over the last of the many low brushes, walking out into the open and out of the Forest of Magic. The teacher followed soon after, in which the Immortal turned to face her. "You must know that not all Youkai are as evil as you think. Trust me, I have lived long enough to know that." The blue-haired girl strongly rejected her friend's logic, "If they are Youkai, then they are nothing good. They aren't humans, they cannot understand us."

"Well then, you, yourself, are a half-beast, no? That makes you half-a-Youkai by default. Doesn't that mean that you are supposed to be 'nothing good' too?" Mokou ended her sentence in a half-joking tone before turning away to face the direction of the Human Village, then walked away.
Silence. The blue-haired girl opened her mouth as if she had something to say, but closed it.
The Hourai Immortal knew that the teacher still needed time to process what she had said. Leaving her alone was best.

Keine quickly caught up with her friend, and started to walk to the Human Village on foot. She opted not to fly.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
No exchange of words was held throughout the journey to the Human Village. The scenery passed by unnoticed, with Mokou walking in front, leading the way towards the village. Keine followed close behind, progressing with slightly slower steps. The village fence was finally in sight after the long walk that was from the Forest of Magic. However, what greeted them was the scene of panicking people.

A group of people that gathered at the village gates quickly approached the duo, bringing them around the Village. The sounds of children crying was everywhere, and adults rushed from one home to another, with some calming the children, while another group tried to hoard the food items in the shops. However, only a group of people did not join in the rush. Holding onto hoes, they were apparently farmers, they sat by the roadside.

Huh? What is going on? Why are the people in such a chaos! More importantly: Why are the farmers sitting by the roadside?

Keine ran towards the group of farmers, all looked weak and defeated. Tears flowed down the cheeks of the people present in the group, each exchanging words with another person. The teacher arrived, kneeling down in front of an old man with a straw hat, who was one of the farmers. She spoke in a soft voice towards the villager.

"What happened? Why are you sitting here by the roadside?"

The villager fetched a piece of cloth from his pocket, wiping his tears from his face before replying, "Our homes. . . they are destroyed. . . I tried to salvage what I had. . . there was nothing left. . ."

The blue-haired girl probed further. She tried, "What destroyed it? A sudden snowstorm? A fire?" She provided the two most common causes of loss of property in the village as options. However, the old man gave a reply that she would not have imagined.

"This green-haired Youkai holding onto a parasol blasted the village with a huge beam of light. My house was completely gone. I can't even see its remains. There's nothing to be salvaged."

Another man added on, "It was lucky that his wife and his grandchild had not been at home at that time like all of the others. Everyone was at the theater watching a play you prepared while you were away, put up by the school-going children. Nobody was hurt, however, the children cried when the Youkai with the checked skirt walked in and randomly blasted the place. They are really scared."

The man pointed leftwards. The teacher walked forward to a junction, then looked left. Indeed, the whole town looked ravaged, with parts of a house ending up in smoke, and another home with a hole blasted cleanly through it. Worst of all, she noticed a long stretched of scorched earth extending from the East of the village all the way to the West end, destroying the whole line of the houses and shops that were there. Turning around to face the farmers, she was about to speak when she noticed a girl talking to the farmer she had conversed with previously.

The girl had shoulder-length yellow hair concealed by an orange hat, decorated with a string of grapes bunched together at the right of the hat. She wore a collared blouse with arm-length sleeves, covering all but her hands in the light brown fabric. Her black skirt was covered by a red apron with two black straps holding it in place, going over her arms and rejoining the apron from the waist. Intricately sewn patterns bearing the likeness of wheat plants decorated the red apron with their gold thread.

The girl extended her hands, grabbing hold of the old man and helping him up. Keine soon found the farmers surrounding the oddly-dressed girl. Out of curiosity, the teacher joined the crowd. Taking a closer look at the girl, who was busy listening to the farmer's complaints, she came to a realisation: That girl is Minoriko, God of Harvests.

"It's supposed to be spring now! We are not able to plant anything in this weather! We are going to die of hunger at this rate," a woman dressed in simple farming clothes complained. The Myriad God only responded by nodding patiently.

Another farmer added on, "Then, this flower Youkai walked into the crop field outside the human village and blasted at all the crop! Now we really have nothing to harvest, much less even the remote hope of having things to eat! How are we going to survive this harsh winter?"

As more complaints were fired at the God of Harvests, more people gathered around her, resulting in even more complaints. However, the girl stood patiently, hearing out every single person's complaints. Finally, when there were no more, the yellow-haired girl addressed everyone.

"I know this harsh winter has lasted for way longer than it should," the girl managed her tone with no less majesty than one would expect from a god, " and that the crop fields have been destroyed by a Youkai." The girl paused, waiting for the uproar in reaction to the word 'Youkai' to stop. She continued, "However, I shall make sure that justice is delivered to the Youkai in charge of this incident. As the God of Harvests, I will ensure that everyone will not go hungry."

The crowd cheered for the yellow-haired girl before quickly dispersing to manage their own matters. It was then that Minoriko noticed Keine standing before her, not too far away. The teacher waved towards the God of Harvest, who responded by walking towards her. When they were face-to-face, the teacher started, "Minoriko! How glad am I to see you here! What brings you here today?"

The harvest goddess replied almost immediately, "I sensed by crops being destroyed by something, however I had no idea what it was being destroyed by."

"Wait," the teacher put on a look of disbelief, "you can feel the crops being destroyed?"

The harvest goddess chuckled, "Since I had to cultivate those crops by hand, I had this telepathy with them, you see. Just a little thing I get for dealing with crops often--and being a god, of course." Minoriko waited for the blue-haired girl to completely process had just said before continuing, "If all of them had suddenly died while it was not harvesting season, I would know. And if that happens, that must mean that a problem has occurred. So, I came running from Youkai Mountain the moment I sensed a problem with the crops."

Keine responded with a thoughtful nod, before asking another question, "So, how are you going to solve this then? Since you are responsible for the crops the humans that worship you grow and all."

"I will just have to find the culprit to this problem. Whoever destroyed the crop field will have to be brought down and brought to the humans to apologize." the harvest goddess stated matter-of-factly.

Just then, Keine arrived at an idea. She immediately started, "It so happens that you will have another incident to settle, too." The teacher waited until she had gained the harvest god's attention. "There has been this Scarlet Mist down at Misty Lake that was discovered just yesterday, and it would be floating towards the human village soon, with the winds that we are getting. Apparently, the mist has caused the plants within the mist to wither and die, so if it were left alone, all the crops would die after the humans have planted it again. Since you are the god of harvests, it is your job to do something about it, no?"

"Do you know the person who has created the Scarlet Mist?" Minoriko asked, with an audible tinge of tension.

"Well, we do not know," Keine admitted. However, she added on a proposal, "Although it is so, we do have a team consisting of me, Mokou, Marisa and Alice that are on the case. If you would, we could always use the help of a god. Think about it -- I can help you with subduing the flower Youkai, while you can help us with resolving the Scarlet Mist Incident!"

The goddess of harvest had nothing to lose. "Sure, I will help out. However, I will only help with the parts of the incident pertaining to my duties as a god to ensure that there will be bountiful harvests, and nothing more. Can we agree on that?"

The teacher gave her word. "Agreed."

"Now then," Minoriko spoke, "what is our plan?"

The white-haired girl cut into the conversation. "The plan is that we follow that whole long trail of scorched earth right over there," the Hourai Immortal, obviously displeased, stared into the blue-haired girl's two brown orbs. She continued, "While you two were busy talking to each other, I have already traced the source of the massive laser -- the scorched earth was similar to that created by Marisa's laser -- to a nearby flower field. Apparently the flower Youkai is blasting away at random due to being in rage that her flower field has encountered the Scarlet Mist, and everything has wilted."

On the mention of "flower Youkai" and "flower field", Keine had already a mental image in mind as to who the offender was.

"Would that Youkai be Kazami Yuuka?" the teacher questioned.

The Hourai Immortal answered curtly, "Yes."

"I told you all Youkai were nothing good," the teacher spoke with a tinge of triumph in her tone. "At least I have half the humanity of a human, that a Youkai would never have."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
The trio walked in a tight group towards the flower field that was further down from the crop field, but much nearer to the Misty Lake. As such, all they could see was a woman standing within a graveyard of withered flowers petals, all shed from the dying -- or dead -- flora. Even the petals on the ground lost their vivid colour, them being a shadow of what beauty they formerly had. The green-haired woman stood within the garden, her red checked vest and skirt being in stark contrast with the browning plants that remained beside her, enveloped within Scarlet Mist.

Minoriko was the first to approach the parasol-wielding Youkai. She started the conversation with a question, "Why did you destroy the crop fields, you terror to mankind? You have destroyed what little they had for food for the whole of this winter!"

The green-haired monster emerged from the mist, holding up her closed parasol before opening it and placing it above her left shoulder. The Youkai known as Yuuka Kazami walked slowly yet elegantly, in a way which almost made her seem as if she were floating towards the offending god. Placing her right hand onto the handle of her umbrella, along with her left, she spoke, "Oh, don't accuse me of doing something that heinious and absurd!" The flower monster twirled her umbrella, while bringing her right palm before her mouth, presenting an expression as if she were shocked at the accusation. "I was merely returning the favour -- they should consider themselves lucky that they were not my darling flowers which had to take in this horrendous Scarlet Mist --" Yuuka paused, before closing up her parasol with a loud "Snap!" and bringing her right arm up in an upwards motion, with her fingers pointing in a "C" towards the palm, poised like a claw.

Almost immediately, vines sprouted from the ground, climbing speedily up the the body of Minoriko, running rounds around the hapless harvest god's legs, then progressing up to her torso.

Mokou immediately noticed the danger, and shouted to the harvest god, "Run for it, now! These vines are going to --"

"Ensnare you?" the flower Youkai pointed her closed parasol at the Hourai Immortal. Roots of the grass below Mokou shot upwards, constricting themselves around her arms and legs. Although they were merely roots, they felt like chains of metal, restraining the movements of the girl's limbs. Even as she conjured fire, her hands were unable to move, completely held still by the roots.

The vines ran up to the harvest god's arms, binding it to her torso even as she struggled. As if the vines were made of iron, it was impossible for the Myriad God to break free.

The teacher could not allow her allies to be restrained like such. "Let go of them now, Yuuka Kazami! Or else --"

"Or else? Oh, that must be the most threatening phrase I have heard in ages!" the flower Youkai faked an exclamation, clearly sarcastic. "Well, well. Entertain me. What are you going to do?"

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Author's notes:
Not the most exciting chapter by far, and it took six hours just writing this. Hopefully I wouldn't take more than two days to deal with longer scenes.
Would have sent it for proofreading, but since nobody was available, I tried to make do with my own proofreading. Hopefully the mistakes would be cut down to a minimum this time around.

Alright, voting time! Keine's actions will be affected by whichever choice you choose, affecting whether Yuuka would be recruited (as requested in the previous votes).

[ ] Duel against Yuuka. Prove to her in a match of strength that you are indeed not to be messed with. Hopefully impress her with your strength.

[ ] Reason with Yuuka. It is time to set aside your prejudices against Youkai for a brief moment for your friends. Attempt to appeal to her reasoning.

[ ] (Write your own choice, and if it becomes popular, it will be the course of action Keine will take.)

With that said. . .
__________________________________________________
Scarlet Mist Incident Resolving Team

Humans Team Magician Team
Keine Kamishirasawa Marisa Kirisame
Fujiwara no Mokou Alice Margatroid
No. 170575
[X] Reason with Yuuka. It is time to set aside your prejudices against Youkai for a brief moment for your friends. Attempt to appeal to her reasoning.
-[X] Inform Yuuka that instead of blasting random humans for perceived grievances she should focus her wrath on the source of the mist incident - before all of Gensokyo becomes a lifeless desert.
No. 170579
>>170575
I was going to use
[ ]It's little inferno / It's little inferno just for me / I've got the fireplace / That burns at a hundred point degrees / It's little inferno just for me

But that one is just clearly better.
No. 170586
[x] Reason with Yuuka. It is time to set aside your prejudices against Youkai for a brief moment for your friends. Attempt to appeal to her reasoning.
No. 170603
File 13723455869.jpg - (20.71KB , 200x150 , Rumia_600_1215273.jpg ) [iqdb]
170603
The flower Youkai's words echoed through the teacher's mind. It was an obvious provocation on the parasol-wielding monster's part, acting as a spark that ignited the fuel, the Youkai-hating part of Keine. The hatred burned in the girl's mind, her left fist clenched and her right hand outstretched. Manifesting an image of her card in her right palm, she crushed it, causing the light to disperse. The dispersed light quickly reformed in her right hand, forming the Kusanagi. Shifting her right foot in a quarter-arc to the back, she put her left hand on the hilt of the blade before holding the blade at shoulder level, with her left arm crossing her right. Her pupils dilated, causing her eye to turn a lifeless black, her breathing slowed to form long, deep breaths. The flower Youkai chuckled, however silent, and brought her parasol before her.

The Hourai Immortal quickly reacted to the girl's actions.

"Stop! Keine, don't lose your reason! Don't fight with her--" the white-haired girl shouted at her friend, before meeting with a hand gesture from Yuuka. A vine promptly wrapped around the offending girl's mouth. The girl, now silenced, let out a series of "Mhhm!" and started flailing.

The words that entered Keine's ears acted as bolts of electricity that shocked the reason back into her head. Shaking her head twice, as if she were waking up from a trance, she blinked hard. She allowed her reason to slowly flow back, and the scene before her blur back into focus. Dropping her sword, which quickly collapsed into light and infused itself back into the teacher's hand, she walked forwards towards the Youkai in the checked dress. The green haired woman took a step backwards, half in caution and half in mild surprise, however still with her parasol pointing towards the blue-haired girl.

"What are you doing? Aren't you going to fight me, human?" the Youkai took another step back, holding out her parasol to keep some distance between the teacher and herself.

Keine continued to step forward as the flower Youkai continued to thread backwards through the flower fields, careful not to step on any flowers, clearly intimidated. The vines holding onto Minoriko and Mokou weakened as the blue-haired girl continued to cause the green-haired woman to step further away.

What is with this girl? Why is she approaching me without a weapon? This. . . This must be a trap.

Yuuka finally refused to move back any further, taking on a defensive stance. Holding her parasol diagonally, as if she were ready to parry a blow, she questioned.

"What are you doing? If you don't make a move, I will," the Youkai threatened, holding her left, empty hand at the teacher, fingers outstretched. Upon witnessing the human not ceasing to move towards her, the woman in the checked dress clenched her open left hand. Almost immediately, Keine ended up held to a wall of vines from her back, with vines securing her limbs to the mass of vegetation behind her. However, she did not struggle.

"Look, Yuuka," Keine started in a dry tone, completely emotionless. This was the best she could manage to keep her anger in check. "I don't want to fight you. There is no need for us to fight." The Youkai in the checked skirt almost let her feelings of amusement be betrayed by her facial expression. She did not understand why her enemy approached her undefended. However, she did recognize the person before her as her enemy. "Tell that to your beloved humans, those who have released this Scarlet Mist." This surprised the teacher, however. she did not allow herself to be read by the flower Youkai. She maintained her expressionless face.

"Why would my people want to release the Scarlet Mist?" the teacher questioned.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
The Myriad God and the Hourai Immortal moved towards the teacher held down by the flower Youkai with quick, however soft footsteps.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The Youkai took a heavy step forward, stamping the ground. "You despicable humans," the parasol pointed towards a dead flower about five meters away-- or what it formerly was, for the flower had already dropped off the shriveled stem. Only now had Keine noticed how near she was to the Scarlet Mist. The Youkai continued, "Releasing the smoke to kill my flowers in the flower field so that you can take its remains and use it as another crop field, no? All of you are selfish beings."

So, this is why she attacked the crop field and the Human Village! It was all a huge misunderstanding!

The teacher attempted to explain the situation to the Youkai before her. "Well, in truth, none of the humans in the Human Village bar me, Mokou and Akyuu no Hieda know of this mist." However, the Youkai was not willing to believe her. holding up her parasol, she pointed its tip at the teacher's throat, now that the teacher is restrained and within two-arm's length. The tip of the pink parasol the Youkai possessed had a sharp, bladed end attached, astonishing the hapless teacher. However, there was no place for fear in this conversation. Restraining her fear, she continued, "I have a proposal for you, Youkai of flowers."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
The white-haired girl moved towards the back of the flower Youkai, signalling the harvest god to follow up quickly. Crouching low, trying to conceal as much of themselves in the part of the dead flower field that is behind the woman in the checked skirt but yet well away from the Scarlet Mist, the duo lay in ambush.
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The green-haired of the two raised an eyebrow. "You are in no position to negotiate with me now that your kind has massacred my flowers. If it were an accident I would have considered forgiving your kind, however, what you are doing is waging war with me. You should be content with the fact that I did not reduce your village to ashes--"

"Can't you just shut up and stop your egotistic attitude?" Completely losing her patience, the teacher lashed out at the Youkai, causing her to step back in shock. Despite being an experienced and wise Youkai of much power, Yuuka Kazami was still taken aback by how feisty the human girl before her was. "I am not asking you to believe me for no reason. I am willing to use my life as my guarantor -- feel free to take it as you like. So, JUST LISTEN, WILL YOU?"

The Youkai was impressed with the bravery of this girl. Although she had the fortune to enjoy a long life as a flower Youkai and had met all sorts of people, this was the first time she was ever told to 'shut up' and 'just listen'. She lowered her parasol before speaking.

"Very well, human. Present what you have."

"Right now, the Human Village is in trouble, partly from the Scarlet Mist, and partly from winter -- misdirecting your wrath to the village didn't help much either. The Scarlet Mist is not only killing off more --" for lack of better word to not offend the flower Youkai that her flowers were weak, "-- delicate flowers and other vegetation. We have no idea what the mist would do to humans -- though we could find out what it does to us in a short time if we keep standing around here. Although it is none of your concern as to what happens to humans, I believe that, with your powers as one of the more elder Youkai in Gensokyo, you would be a great help to the incident resolving team that I have constructed. For one, you could take revenge on behalf of your flowers and direct your wrath towards the real culprits. Also, you could help prevent the many flora of Gensokyo from withering like that, and prevent it from becoming a lifeless desert," the teacher struggled to point at the dead flowers around her with her restrained arms, in which the Youkai took notice and released the teacher from her bind, receiving a "Why, thank you" in return.

The girl continued, "With your firepower and wisdom, the team could really go far. So, please, trust me and accept my proposal." The girl put on her most sincere expression, looking hopefully into the Youkai's eyes. Sensing the indisputable sincerity of the girl, the Youkai closed her eyes, turned her head, and forced herself to reply.

"I will join you in this and help you as much as I can," Yuuka settled her parasol into the soil, allowing the bladed tip to sink into the ground before continuing, "so, just give me your instructions--"

The teacher before her raised her hands all of a sudden, before manifesting a blade from yellow light. "You betrayed my trust!" the Youkai exclaimed, bringing up her umbrella in a combat position. However, she received an unexpected push from the human girl as she ran behind the Youkai herself, sending her stumbling two steps forward directly behind the blue-haired girl. Her eyes which were fixated on the girl witnessed her swinging her blade twice, parrying jump-kick from a white-haired girl with the flat plane of the blade and blocking a sweet potato thrown by the harvest god which detonated upon coming into contact with the blade.

"Stop it, you two!" the teacher berated at the Myriad God and the Hourai Immortal. The two promptly halted their assault. The girl in the orange hat questioned the teacher, "Why are you stopping us? The culprit behind the destroyed crop fields is that Youkai. We have to exterminate her!" The Hourai Immortal shifted back into an offensive stance before adding on, "Has the Youkai cast a spell upon you? Why are you taking her side?"

Keine recalled her sword, which dematerialized into bright yellow light and infused itself into her hand. "I thought you were the one who told me that 'not all Youkai are bad', Mokou." The teacher continued, "Yuuka did not destroy the village because she wanted to terrify the people of the village, nor did she damage the crop fields just to terrorize us. She thought we humans were the ones releasing the Scarlet Mist to kill off her flowers so that we could have more land for crop growing."

"So, it was all just a misunderstanding?" Minoriko stood weary, conjuring another sweet potato in her hands. She fixed her eyes upon the flower Youkai.

"Your friend here has guaranteed that the humans were not the one that done it with her very life," the green-haired woman stated, "and I believe her. I am part of this incident resolving party now. It seems that we have a common enemy now." The flower Youkai paused to take a breath before continuing, "Come to think of it, why do you people have to resolve this incident yourselves? I am pretty sure that the Hakurei Shrine Maiden would have been on the case by now. Where is she?"

"Apparently, she has been told by someone to not help," the white-haired girl took the initiative to reply to the question, "and she just plain refuses to resolve the incident no matter what we say." The reply elicited a puzzled "Oh?" from the flower Youkai, however no more questions regarding the Shrine Maiden came from her. Instead, she asked, "So, what would you need us to do now?"

The Houai Immortal replied to Yuuka, "For now, we will have to evacuate the humans to the Hakurei Shrine. Considering the fact that you have destroyed their food supply by accident, Yuuka," the white-haired girl fixed a stare at the Youkai, "you will have to help out with the evacuation. With your sort of power, you would be the best escort we have." The teacher gave a pleading look at the Myriad god before she added on, "Minoriko, I am sorry to trouble you, but we will have to ask of you for a favour." The harvest goddess only replied to that coldly.

"I have already stated that I will help with only the problems related to my duty as a god of harvests."

"Ah, but you have said that you would supply the people with food, yes?"

"Why, yes. There is no need to ask me of this favour. It is my duty to cover for the loss of crop of my worshipers, for they have trusted my to aid them in giving them a good harvest," the god replied matter-of-factly.

"Right. Now we will only have to prepare the humans for evacuating to the Hakurei Shrine," the girl looked towards the horizon, spotting the sun nearly sinking below it. "Let's get to the village and inform the villagers to pack up and go."

Just then, an idea stuck Mokou. "How about I go to my food stand at the Bamboo Forest of the Lost and grab my food cart from there? Surely that could help with the food supply problem a little," the white-haired girl left in the opposite direction of where the other three girls were going, without waiting for a reply whatsoever. "I'll meet you all at the Hakurei Shrine!"

"Is she always like that?" asked a curious harvest god asked, before getting ready to go back to Youkai Mountain for the potatoes at her food stand.

All the response she received was a shrug of shoulders that the teacher gave.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
As expected, the villagers panicked after being told of the news of the Scarlet Mist. Men and Women alike ran for their belongings. People attempted to plunder stores for supplies. Some people just ran off to the Hakurei Shrine in sheer panic and fear. Precious time elapsed as the teacher and the harvest god attempted to convince the villagers that the flower Youkai was not dangerous. The Youkai in the checked skirt also went around trying to bring back the people who have ran off alone back -- with a bit of force where necessary. Taking out a name list, Keine ticked the names of the people in the village off a checklist.

As the last name was checked, Akyuu approached Keine. "Have you managed to make the Hakurei Shrine Maiden comply to your requests?" The teacher replied, "Actually, no. What we are doing now is that we are trying to evacuate everyone there anyway, forcing Reimu to comply. We visit her this morning, but it was a wasted trip. She did not want to help us." The purple-haired girl of short statue thought carefully, "Why would she not want to help us, though? The Shrine Maiden is supposed to be a protector of humans." "Really, I have no idea. I am not even sure if she is the Shrine Maiden," then, the girl said jokingly, "maybe I am the Shrine Maiden after all." Akyuu chuckled a little, however, it soon turned into a coughing fit due to the girl's weak constitution. She managed an "Excuse me" as she brought out a cloth handkerchief to cough into before she walked away.

With all preparations done, the group was ready to move off. As the teacher turned around, she took a step back in shock.

"Hey, Keine."

Before her stood her white-haired friend, already back from the Bamboo Forest of the Lost.

"How many times, do I have to tell you--"

"I get the message," the Hourai Immortal and food cart operator cut off what the teacher was about to say. "Let's get going already."

Yuuka walked down the line, ensuring that everyone was lined up in threes in an orderly manner. With the arrangement settled, she walked to the back of the line, waiting for the people to depart. Not long after, the group of people consisting of a teacher, a food cart operator and a flower Youkai started moving uphill, towards the Hakurei Shrine.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Keine carried the frail writer of the Gensokyo Chronicles on her back while she remained at the front of the group, leading the evacuees towards the Shrine while the pyrokinetic girl distributed random, thick branches lighted with fire as torches to various families. The flower Youkai at the back of the group walked slowly, making sure she was the last man.

As the night came, the endurance of the group wore thin. Unable to use flight, the journey to the Hakurei Shrine that would have took a mere hour became a trek that would probably take four hours. Just a mere hour had passed since the group had left the village at the brink of dusk. The pace at which they walked dropped from moderate to slow, bar the fitter humans and the flower Youkai.

The green-haired Youkai, who had walked notably slowly from the start noticed an elderly couple falling behind the main group. Noticing the elderly couple carrying a child, she walked forward to offer help, as it was her duty to take care of humans due to her earlier rampage. Although confident of herself, her confidence wore thin when it came to her first conversation with a normal human. Extending a hand to the couple, she tried.

"D-do y-y-you need h-help?"

Although the lines came out smoothly in her mind, she stammered badly as she spoke, unbecoming of one as confident as herself. She brought her palm to her face almost immediately as she noticed at the old man carrying a cloth bag and the elderly woman carrying a child looked at her with incredulous expressions.

Perhaps it is because I am a Youkai, thus they do not trust me.

The flower Youkai tried to explain herself, "I-I noticed that you two have fallen behind the others, and so I am offering to h-help you carry your bags. It is my first time talking to normal humans like you, you see." Although better than her first attempt, she still stuttered as she spoke.

Surprisingly, however, the elderly lady responded with a friendly smile. "Why, yes, thank you young lady. Although you are a Youkai, you do look pretty fine a lady for one." The elder Youkai stood shocked at the comment, realising that the human before her had complimented herself. The elderly lady continued, "Though, I really do not understand why you went on a rampage throughout the crop fields earlier today. You do seem like a kind person."

"I-I, uh, it was due to a major misunderstanding. However, Ms Kamishirasawa has already sorted it out with me," Yuuka managed, happy with the fact that she was not stuttering like an idiot any more. Reaching out her hand towards the old man, she asked, "May I help you with that? You look tired."

The old man handed over the heavy cloth bag to the flower Youkai, who slung it around her shoulder, carrying it with little effort. It was then her sight fell onto the baby that the elderly lady was carrying. Out of curiosity, the flower Youkai asked a question.

"Is that baby yours? You two look a little too old to have a child."

The old man replied this time, "Of course it is not ours, silly. We are way too old to have a child. This child belongs to my son and his wife. It was a pity they died young. Apparently they were killed by Youkai. We never saw them again after they left to gather some herbs unique to Youkai Mountain some 7 months ago."

That was when the Youkai were rampant and the Spell Card Rules were not established, Yuuka thought. How sad of them to have died so young.

"My condolences, and sorry for asking," the flower Youkai responded out of courtesy. However, the elderly couple did not seem to mind. Instead, the elderly woman offered, "Say, young lady," after a quick "What's-your-name", she continued, "would you want to try holding onto my grandchild? You do resemble my deceased daughter in a way, perhaps we are fated to meet. I can recognize that green, short, wavy hair from anywhere."

The flower Youkai took a step back in shock, breaking her forward momentum. A human child! She's giving me a human child to hold!

"Here," the old man told Yuuka, "pass me the bag and your parasol and try holding onto her." The old man gestured towards her for the bag, then pointed at the baby. The flower Youkai obliged, handing over the items to the old man temporarily. The elderly woman gave her a quick instruction as to how to carry a child before passing the baby to the Youkai's hands.

"Here, hold onto the neck and head gently. Make sure that you are careful, because children are most weak there -- they are still developing, after all." The Youkai held out her arms, allowing the elderly woman to place the baby gently into her hands. The soft skin of the child settled onto the flower Youkai's arms, her hands almost trembling as the glass-like object was placed in her care. She tried not to move a muscle -- she was afraid that her strength as a Youkai might accidentally hurt or kill the child. She took few moments to look at the child -- it had an extremely delicate body, and her face looked so innocent, along with the cute, short limbs it had. The child smiled as Yuuka looked at her, an innocent, happy smile. Perhaps she did resemble the child's deceased mother. It looked like an existence worth protecting -- worth protecting for the angelic innocence it had.

Almost like her flowers.

Humans are worth protecting too, almost like my flowers.

The flower Youkai was jolted out of that thought as she heard shouting from the front of the group.

"Yuuka! Where are you! I can't see you! Is everybody at the back fine?"

The flower Youkai put the child back into the cradle of the elderly woman's arms before turning to look towards the front of the group.

A pitch-black enveloped whatever was in front.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Darkness, the teacher thought, with a magical property that does not even allow fire to light up the surroundings.

Keine attempted to calm the people who were currently also in that very darkness she was enveloped in, where nothing can be seen. She could only hear the cries of children and the efforts of the adults trying to pacify said scared children. It was a chaos of noise and lack of vision, to the point where it was extremely disorienting and did not allow the teacher to think straight. However, a shout soon resounded through the area, silencing the panicking people.

"KEEP QUIET AND STAY DOWN!" The Hourai Immortal bellowed, "OR ELSE, THE YOUKAI WILL FIND US THIS WAY! She knew who the Youkai behind this was, but couldn't hear where the Youkai was.

The following silence left nothing to be heard but the chirping of crickets and various other nocturnal animals. The Hourai Immortal ignited her hands with flame, and although she could not see her target (nor herself, for that matter), she could hear her target.

North-East.

The Hourai Immortal turned herself towards the origin of the sound of rustling leaves. It was clear to Mokou that a person had passed through a brush. Turning slowly, as the rustling become louder and sounded closer, she stood up from her crouching position, getting ready to shoot flames at her target.

Almost, just a little bit more. . .

Thump.

Right before the pyrokinetic girl could fire at her target, she heard the dull thud of an object banging into a tree. The rustling of falling leaves was heard, and soon the pitch-black magical darkness vanished, and the fires lit up the dark of the night, as if someone flipped a switch. Normality soon resumed, as everyone stood up and prepared to carry on.

Lying before Mokou, however, was a blonde girl of short stature, wearing a black vest over a white blouse along with a black skirt. A small ribbon--, no, a talisman, decorated simply with a red and bordered with white was tied to the left of her hair in the fashion of a ribbon, slanted slightly to the side. The little package of terror soon woke up, getting onto her knees and looking around while using her palm to rub her slightly red forehead. It was not long before the the young girl in black and white turned around to look at the Hourai Immortal. The innocent look on the girl's face belied the true nature of what she was.

"Rumia is hungry," the Youkai of a child muttered to no one in particular.

The white-haired girl looked at the Youkai. She did encounter the darkness created by her once, but she never did expect the Youkai to be just a young girl. Taking pity on the hungry young girl, she fetched a box made of transparent material and apparently named a 'tupperware', courtesy of a trip to Kourindou, and opened the box. Fetching out a piece of Yakitori, she placed it into the Youkai's hands. The Youkai quickly relished the piece of Yakitori, chowing the large piece down in two bites despite how small her mouth was.

She doesn't look too dangerous, does she, Mokou thought.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Author's Notes:
I really, really tried to make Yuuka seem more. . . 'motherly' in a way, and will remain the more 'motherly' one of the four-man-band that we have for now in Keine's team. I also tried to leave a plot point that would help her get serious in a . As for Minoriko, I tried to display her as the no-nonsense, duty first character of the group. Keine will be the somewhat level-headed protagonist while Mokou will be the hot-blooded co-protagonist.

I believe that everyone is wondering where Marisa went. However, that would be a story for the next chapter, and the basis for the second fight scene I am going to write.

So, here goes voting time, both written in Mokou's perspective.

[ ] The Youkai girl that called herself Rumia doesn't look that dangerous at all, and she's cute. Can I keep her, please?

[ ] A Youkai is a Youkai. She is dangerous to humans after all. Who knows when she'd eat a human? Let this box of Yakitori be my last gift of kindness to her before moving on.

[ ] (Write your own choice! If it gets popular, your course of action may be chosen!)


One more thing: If you can think of suitable names for Keine's current team and Marisa's team, go ahead and post them along with your vote.

Opinions about my story writing are welcome, too.

With that said. . .
______________________________________________________________
Scarlet Mist Incident Resolving Team
Keine Kamishirasawa
Fujiwara no Mokou
Marisa Kirisame
Alice Margatroid
Minoriko Aki
Yuuka Kazami
No. 170612
[X] The Youkai girl that called herself Rumia doesn't look that dangerous at all, and she's cute. Can I keep her, please?

Seems like there are a couple words/letters missing here and there, but nothing major.
No. 170620
[x] The Youkai girl that called herself Rumia doesn't look that dangerous at all, and she's cute. Can I keep her, please?

How can I not vote for this.

The story is picking up and I really hope that more people would find their way here. I am not someone who writes long comments and can say that this story is good.
No. 170660
File 137240618835.png - (70.25KB , 128x200 , url.png ) [iqdb]
170660
This girl. . . she doesn't look dangerous at all, the Hourai Immortal thought. Oddly enough, she couldn't bring herself to see the girl dressed in black in front of her as a Youkai. Feeding her another piece of yakitori, she looked on as the childlike Youkai took a bite out of the piece of meat. Perhaps she could bring this girl along -- she is quite easy to tame, after all. However, it would be harder than ascending to Nirvana if she wanted Keine to accept this Youkai girl into the group.

I'd better perish that thought, I guess, Mokou looked down at the girl. There was nothing much she could do. The group was already ready to go, and as much as she would like to take the little girl under her wing, she could not.

"Big Shister is nicesh to me," the young girl known as Rumia looked up along the human hand which extended to feed her, her vision tracing up along the arm until her twin ruby orbs met with the Hourai Immortal's eyes, speaking with her mouth full. Mokou looked into the girl, who sat there adorably looking at herself.

She recognised me as her big sister? Right! That's it!

Perhaps there was a way to keep the girl. She asked a favour of one of the villagers beside her to help her take care of the food cart before turning back towards Rumia. Kneeling down with one leg, she enlosed her arm around her newly recognised 'younger sister's' waist, then heaved her up. The girl dressed in black was oblivious to her movement as she was busy polishing off what was left of the piece of meant in her hands, and when she had finished linking the remains off her fingers, her eyes that looked through the gaps in between her fingers found the dusty ground one meter away from her. Turning around, she found herself looking directly into Mokou, who had gritted her teeth and knitted her brows. She placed her arm below the young girl, forming a ledge for her to sit on. Her muscles tightened visibly from the strain of carrying the petite girl, who was rather heavy for her size.

Perhaps Youkai were heavier than humans due to their internal makeup?

She carried the blonde girl and walked towards her human friend at the front of the group. Try to get her attention, she started, "Hey, Keine."

The blue-haired girl noticed her friend, turning around before stepping back in shock. "What are you doing with that little girl? Put her down!" The Hourai Immortal replied with a rehearsed line.

"Oh, but Keine, this girl is my younger sister--"

"Mokou, don't try to fool me. You are over a thousand years old, and you are trying to tell me that you have a sister this young and she lived that long maintaining her youth?" the teacher spoke exasperatedly, "Please, Mokou, you are too old for these jokes."

The white-haired girl immediately corrected her previous sentence, "No, no. I meant that she is my adopted younger sister that I took under my wing when I visited Eientei. I found her with a broken arm within the Bamboo Forest, the poor girl. So I visited Eirin's and got her fixed up. Since she did not have a family -- or at least she doesn't remember having a family -- she started calling me her elder sister and I just played along." The blonde girl let out a "Big Sister is nice to me!", in time with her act. She silently thanked the Youkai Girl for having inserted that line at a nice timing, and continued, "I left her in the Bamboo Forest at Eirin's before I left with the food cart, but apparently she found her way to me. . . hahahaha!"

The girl with the pale blue hair raised an eyebrow, somewhat in suspecion and disbelief, but did not question further anyway. Mokou let out a sigh of relief as the teacher did not suspect a thing, and congratulated herself on her successful lying. "Mokou, say, can I touch your little sister?" the teacher asked, and was quickly replied to. "Sure!" before adding on. "Her name is Rumia, by the way." The Hourai Immortal put on a huge grin and held out her 'younger sister'. The teacher reached her hand towards the girl. Whatever happened next caused the white-haired girl to curse her luck.

The youkai girl quickly shrunk back in response, visibly afraid of the blue-haired human before her. Before Keine and Mokou, the figure of the blonde girl was soon enveloped in a sphere of darkness. The teacher immediately recognised the darkness.

"Mokou! Put her down!" the girl held up her hands in an offensive stance, fully wary of the black sphere before her. "She's the Youkai from before!"

The Hourai Immortal immediately put her nearer to herself, and the darkness soon vanished as the scared youkai girl placed her arms around her 'elder sister', trying to seek comfort in the person she trusted. Mokou took a step back, making sure her arms were shielding her 'younger sister' before replying.

"She's not a Youkai -- she has had this ability since the day that I have found her. I can vouch for her that she is definitely not a Youkai, even Eirin has proved it to me!"

The teacher still held her hands in position to attack, not believing her friends words. The white-haired girl just waited for her friend's eyes to meet her's. Simply looking into her eyes, she waited as the blue-haired girl's determination softened, then eventually put down her hands by her side.

"This girl, even if you do not believe Eirin's verdict on what species she belongs to," the white-haired girl was surprised that she was able to lie with such firmness in her voice, "would still be a valuable asset to us. Think about it: she blinded the whole village's people, she can blind our enemies too." The white haired girl loosened one hand from Rumia and reached into the left pocket of her pants for the 'tupperware'. She held up the transparent box, in which the blonde girl took off the cover with her hands and picked up a piece of yakitori and indulged herself in it. "This girl is my younger sister and I am still going to take her along even if you do not want it to happen." Completely absorbed into her role as the 'elder sister' of Rumia, she gave a serious look to the teacher. The teacher did not reply, and just turned silently away.

Mokou knew her friend well, and realised that she just gave her consent in the form of silence to her friend. The white haired girl walked back towards her food cart.

Making sure she wasn't in earshot of her teacher friend, she put the tupperware onto the food cart that the villager returned to her. Bringing up her now-empty palm, she struck her newly-gained little sister's comparatively small hand with her outstretched palm.

"Who's my cute little sister?" the white-haired Immortal posted a question at the girl dressed in black sitting on her right arm, and she soon received a reply as the youkai girl turned around to face her adoptive older sister,

"Rumia is!" the blonde girl answered with an innocent smile.

The group continued to move to the Hakurei Shrine, with a flower Youkai puzzled about her own feelings, a Hourai Immortal who has gained a younger sister and the ever-determined human teacher.

The teacher, however, started wondering about the absence of a monochrome magician and her colourful puppeteer friend.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Holding onto her broom, the magician summoned a pentagram, with each point coloured with a different colour of either red, blue, green, violet or yellow below her feet. She looked upwards at her friend dressed in red-and-white, standing atop the roof of the shrine and summoning a red pentagram of her own below her feet.

"Spell Card Set! Three Lives in Stock!" the monochrome witch shouted towards her friend, who merely took out three talismans before allowing them to dissipate into red light.

"Spell Card, Set. Three Lives, Set." the Shrine Maiden replied coldly. In the dark of the night lit by only the two oil lamps on either side of the shrine grounds, the magician of black and white stood against her Shrine Maiden friend.

The rainbow-coloured puppeteer released the buckles of her grimoire, ready to open it. However, the magician turned around at the sound of the unblucking, and turned to point thr tip of her broom at her fellow magician. "Stay out of this. This is between me and Reimu Hakurei, Alice," she spoke dryly. Her puppeteer friend reapplied the buckles around her book, then stepped aside to a corner of the shrine grounds. "Don't regret this," the blonde haired girl warned her monochrome friend, who just waved her away.

"Reimu, I don't want to fight you," the magician spoke loudly, making sure her red-white friend could hear her, "but you really leave me with no choice! What is wrong with you today!" The magician finished exasperately, and was replied with a cold voice.

"I told you, I cannot help and I will not help. There is nothing you can do nor I can do."

"Who," the magician questioned, "who caused you to become like this? Why are you like a different person completely? You never reject to help the humans with incident resolving! Who is the person who did not allow you to help?"

The shrine maiden answered by jumping off the roof of the shrine, repeatedly manifesting amulets and throwing them with deadly accuracy as she flipped through the air. Marisa brought up her broom, spinning it in an effort of block the amulets as she ran to the left, leaving the amulets hitting the ground behind her, buried in the ground from the force they were thrown with. The magician stopped parrying the shots with broom as many amulets stabbed into the handle of it, instead using her hand to fire bursts of magic, shooting down the white pieces of divine paper inscribed with red. She dropped her broom, moving her hands in a flurry as her eyes moved in twitch moments, tracking down every single amulet as the pupil darted from one amulet to another. The fingers reacted spontaneously, firing green-coloured missiles. The sky was soon covered in little, individual flames as each amulet burned up before they reahed the ground, turning into ash that fell like snow, adding grey to the pure white snow that fell from the skies. The Shrine Maiden landed on the ground, brandishing her purifying rod on her right hand. Running her index and middle fingers of her left hand on the purifying rod, it started to glow with a red aura.

The magician picked up her broom, plucking out the amulets from it and dropping them on the ground. Taking out her Eight-Trigrams Furnace, she muttered a few magical incantations, and rushed forward with either weapon in her hands. Taking a heavier step onto the ground to push herself into the air, she sidesaddled upon her broom, rushing towards her opponent. She held the Furnace towards her opponent as she fired a laser from it. However, the Shrine Maiden ran towards the laser with the purifying rod held in front of her, intercepting the laser.

She casted a barrier on the rod! So that was what she was doing!

With a half-circle turn of her wrist, the purifying rod directed the blue beam of light towards the ground diagonally towards the right, and the beam detonated when it hit, causing a large, bellowing cloud of snow in the area. The figure of the girl in red-and-white soon disappeared. The witch sitting on her broom recited another magical incantation, and the broom stopped moving, levitating in the air. She turned her head, scanning the area for signs of the girl. However, she saw nothing.

"Marisa, behind you!"

The blonde puppeteer's shouts were in vain. The Shrine Maiden jumped from behind the magician, and while the monochrome girl turned around in time to block the impact of the jump kick the girl delivered, the broom rolled from the impact, causing Marisa to fall over. Thankfully, she landed on her feet, however she staggered from the blow. The girl dressed in red-and-white soon delivered a cross-check with her purifying rod to the girl, resulting in a direct hit to her chest. A blue spell flash blinded the Shrine Maiden, and she held her purifying rod in front of both her palms to block the force of the resulting blue wave that deployed from the witch's right hand.

"I declare my Spell Card! Magic Cross 「Grand Cross」 !"

A card, lined with astrological markings and start signs appeared in Marisa's hand as she held it between her index and middle fingers with an outstretched arm towards the Shrine Maiden, standing firmly on the ground in a declaration pose. The card dissipated into blue light, then infused itself into the witch's hand.

"Reimu! What is wrong with you? I don't understand why you wouldn't want to help. Tell me the truth, Reimu!" The magician tried to elicit and answer from her friend, but the Shrine Maiden simply rushed at the her with her purifying rod, taking quick, hastened steps on the surface of the snow.

She's using her powers to float above the snow, raising her speed. Quick, think of something. . .

The red-and-white Shrine Maiden did not allow the magician time to think. The purifying rod crossed with the handle of a broom as Reimu took yet another leaping attack at the witch, with both her palms holding the purifying rod before them. The whole body weight of the Shrine Maiden caused Marisa to shift her right foot behind her left in an 'L' shape as she, too, placed both her palms onto the handle of the broom to provide extra support.

Quick, think! You won't be able to support Reimu for that long! The monochrome magician's body literally screamed at Marisa as she felt her arm starting to buckle from the force of the continuing assault. She forced herself to ignore the pain as she tried to think. In a split-second, an idea flashed before her.

Momentarily letting one hand away from the broom, she fired a red bolt of lighting at her opponent, forcing her opponent to release the magician from the lock, and dodging the attack with a somersault to the right. Marisa took advantage of that movement, and immediately gripped her broom with two hands as soon as she was released from the lock and did a horizontal slashing motion with her broom.

"Magic Cross 「Grand Cross」!"

The Shrine Maiden was hapless against the attack as she went through the motion of dodging the previous attack. A horizontal line, drawn with pure magical energy flashed blue as it appeared before Reimu, with another line, albeit vertical, intersecting the former as the magician brought down her broom vertically. Four points of light appeared at the ends of the two lines, with another four lines instantly forming, joining all the points with each other. The monochrome witch muttered one line of magical incantation, and almost immediately, the cross detonated into a brilliant yellow, the lines flaring with magical energy.

Immediately, a flash of red left a talisman on the Shrine Maiden's hands as she clenched her hand, crushing said object. Not expecting a Spell Card Counter, Marisa was thrown backwards, hitting herself against the exterior walls of the shrine as a red spell circle deployed from the Shrine Maiden.

"Declaration: Divine Spirit 「Fantasy Seal --"

The Shrine Maiden disappeared before Marisa's eyes as she felt a hard blow to her back, sending her crashing against the snow-covered ground, cutting a path through the snow.

" -Blink-」"

Reimu finished, fading into reality, standing before the downed Magician as she lost a 'life'. Opening her mouth to speak, she said dryly, "There are some things better off not known. Just. . . leave. I do not want to fight you, Marisa." The Shrine Maiden bent down towards the Magician, holding her head up forcefully, "Besides, you should be well aware of the fact that you are not strong enough to beat me in a duel." The human dressed in red-and-white let go of her hands, allowing the magician to fall, back into the snow.

"Reimu Hakurei, I'll teach you a lesson!" the puppeteer deployed a spell circle as she attempted to open her grimoire. The grimoire was left on the ground as the shrine maiden appeared point blank in front of Alice's face and threw it aside. The magician stumbled backwards, half from the shock, half in sheer horror from how fast the Shrine Maiden was.

"I would advise you two to get back home now. It is late, after all." The Shrine Maiden returned to Marisa, speaking wistfully. "I wouldn't want to hurt you more, would I?"

The magician lying on the ground disappeared into a mere circular white object.

"Love Sign!"

The Shrine Maiden turned around, only to witness various coloured rings forming in a straight line, with her being sandwiched between two rings.

"「Master Spark」!"

With that exclamation, a huge, multicoloured beam of light deployed from the Eight-Trigrams Furnace, blasting towards the Shrine Maiden. The snow in the shrine grounds instantly vapourised from the intense heat energy of the blast of light, leaving behind nothing but the scorch tiles that lined the shrine grounds as it ended. The puppeteer immediately stood up and picked up her grimoire, running towards her magician friend.

"What have you done? Reimu is not there at all! You know that you are not supposed to kill her, yes? Why did you use that attack on her?" the blonde puppeteer threw the barrage of questions at the offending magician, completely shocked by the outcome. However, the Magician merely walked where she formerly was as she picked up the broom.

"She was never Reimu."

The puppeteer gave the magician a puzzled look, so the magician explained further. "Reimu never fights by setting up a barrier on her purifying rod. She never, ever does that. Besides, her speech patterns totally do not fit her. The Master Spark wouldn't have killed her anyways." The monochrome magician continued to speak, "I set up my "Test Slave" familiar to take the place of me while the 'Reimu'," Marisa brought up her two hands, bending her index and middle fingers of both hands in a signal that meant 'inverted commas' before continuing, "was busy dealing with you, and prepared my Master Spark. I think I saw the fake Reimu drop into the ground before my Spark hit her. Not sure of it, though."

"So, you mean that the person we just fought is behind this?" Alice fired another question at her friend.
Marisa lifted her hand up to her hat, pushing it upwards a little before she replied, "That person who fought me just now, she must be it."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Author's Notes:
Well then, now that I am done with the second fight scene! I really have nothing much to say about this update myself, it was mostly to update the situation as to what Marisa and Alice were doing instead of going to aid the humans that were evacuating.

So, here comes the next vote! Both are written in the Magician Team's perspective.

[ ] Let us stay in the shrine and wait for Keine's guys to come. Meanwhile, we can search around the shrine to see if the real Reimu is still here. Even if she is not, we can make ourselves useful by preparing the shrine grounds for the huge amount of people that are going to come in later on.

[ ] Let us quickly go to find Keine and report to her on our findings. Then we can help them to escort everyone here. Perhaps we can see if they have seen the real Reimu on the way here.

[ ] Write your own choice! If it gets popular, your choice may be used in the next update of the story!

With that said. . .
______________________________________
Scarlet Mist Incident Resolving Team

Keine Kamishirasawa
Fujiwara no Mokou
Minoriko Aki
Yuuka Kazami

Marisa Kirisame
Alice Margatroid
No. 170663
[X] Let us stay in the shrine and wait for Keine's guys to come. Meanwhile, we can search around the shrine to see if the real Reimu is still here. Even if she is not, we can make ourselves useful by preparing the shrine grounds for the huge amount of people that are going to come in later on.

Check the shrine for clues first, we can talk to Keine when she arrives.
No. 170665
[X] Let us quickly go to find Keine and report to her on our findings. Then we can help them to escort everyone here. Perhaps we can see if they have seen the real Reimu on the way here.
-[X] Something fishy IS going on... perhaps you can drag the paparazzi into the mix.
--[X] Send someone to the tengu village and broadcast the scoop material. ("Reimu doppelganger on the loose" or something similar)
No. 170666
[X] Let us quickly go to find Keine and report to her on our findings. Then we can help them to escort everyone here. Perhaps we can see if they have seen the real Reimu on the way here.
-[X] Something fishy IS going on... perhaps you can drag the paparazzi into the mix.
No. 170669
[X] Let us stay in the shrine and wait for Keine's guys to come. Meanwhile, we can search around the shrine to see if the real Reimu is still here. Even if she is not, we can make ourselves useful by preparing the shrine grounds for the huge amount of people that are going to come in later on.
-[X] Something fishy IS going on... perhaps you can drag the paparazzi into the mix. After the refugees arrive, of course.
No. 170671
Let's compare the options.
Leaving now:
+The rest of the crew gets to know what happened an hour earlier or so.
+The humans will be better protected from possible attacks - they already have Yuuka and Mokou, though.

-The shrine will be empty; anyone may come and perhaps erase the evidence which may be left behind.

Staying behind:

+ When the rest of the crew arrives, Alice and Marisa will have already investigated the shrine for whatever is in there, saving time.
+ Perhaps the "reimu" left some kind of a magical afterglow behind. It should be easier to investigate while it's still fresh.

- If whatever is behind this all shows up, Alice and Marisa have to face it on their own.


Summing it up, I'd say it's better to stay.

[X] Let us stay in the shrine and wait for Keine's guys to come.
No. 170675
[X] Let us stay in the shrine and wait for Keine's guys to come. Meanwhile, we can search around the shrine to see if the real Reimu is still here. Even if she is not, we can make ourselves useful by preparing the shrine grounds for the huge amount of people that are going to come in later on.
-[X] Something fishy IS going on... perhaps you can drag the paparazzi into the mix. After the refugees arrive, of course.
No. 170676
[ ] Let us stay in the shrine and wait for Keine's guys to come. Meanwhile, we can search around the shrine to see if the real Reimu is still here. Even if she is not, we can make ourselves useful by preparing the shrine grounds for the huge amount of people that are going to come in later on.
No. 170702
[X] Let us stay in the shrine and wait for Keine's guys to come. Meanwhile, we can search around the shrine to see if the real Reimu is still here. Even if she is not, we can make ourselves useful by preparing the shrine grounds for the huge amount of people that are going to come in later on.
-[X] Something fishy IS going on... perhaps you can drag the paparazzi into the mix. After the refugees arrive, of course.

Just caught up, I'm liking the story thus far. I enjoyed both your Alice and Yuuka characterizations.

That said, you need a proof-reader. Some of these errors are rather jarring. Try the IRC channels and/or the writer's thread in /blue/.
No. 170720
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170720
Marisa continued to speak, "Now that we know the culprit's ability, that should narrow the amount of suspects in Gensokyo! We should go tell Keine that now--" The puppeteer cut in, speaking, "Yes, except that," she raised one finger in a fashion as if she were counting before continuing, "for one, we are supposed to be with Keine and Mokou at the human village two hours ago, Marisa." The monochrome witch turned her serious expression into an sheepish smile, and the blonde girl reacted by raising another finger before speaking, "Secondly, the Hakurei Shrine would be empty, and the 'Reimu' you fought just now could come and clean up whatever evidence she may have left behind."

"Perhaps we should stay behind," the girl with the capelet added on a suggestion as her final sentence.

Marisa nodded in agreement. She would not have any idea of where the evacuation group is, and even if she and Alice found Keine, there would not be much point. It is around eight O'clock at night now, and it would be too dark to use flight to find the teacher and her white-haired friend. The two would have to walk to find them, and the message would most probably arrive, at most, one hour early than if the evacuation group had arrived then received the information of her encounter. Finishing the little reasoning session she had with herself, she asked a question, "So, what should we do now?

The Youkai magician replied, "For starters, we could try and search the shrine grounds to find more clues to the fake Reimu we just fought. We could also start to prepare the shrine to take in that many evacuees."

"Yeah, I think I'll go to prepare the stuff first. You can go and find the clues," the monochrome witch walked towards the back of the shrine. "I'll see what I can do to create accommodation for the villagers. They can't just sleep in the open." The puppeteer only replied with a wave. She was only left with the duty to look for clues.

Walking to the spot that 'Reimu' was last seen before she disappeared, she kneeled down, examining the tiles. There were no obvious markings on the tiles to show that it has been tampered with other than the scorch marks that were all over the tile from Marisa's intense attack. The blonde girl lifted up the tiles, revealing flat, untouched soil underneath. If the doppelganger had physically dug the ground to escape, she would have seen, at least, upturned soil.

What if the imposter had the ability to just move really, really fast or has the ability to stop time completely? That would have allowed her to place back the soil after she had made her escape.

However, the girl perished the thought. Even if the imposter could move fast, she would still be unable to place back the soil she removed so perfectly and replace the tiles back. Besides, Marisa did say that she saw the false Reimu drop into the ground, not dig herself into the ground.

Thinking hard, she arrived at another possibility. Sinking downwards. . . it must be spatial transference magic! If she had done it, there must be a trace of magic around here! Since each magic user leaves behind different amounts of magical energy, I could see if magic was used by the doppelganger to transport herself. The girl closed her eyes as she concentrated hard, trying to 'feel' the residual traces of magic around her.

This magical energy is definitely Marisa's. Her magic leaves behind a heavy amount of residual energy. The puppeteer tried harder to sense other traces of magic around her. This air is laden with Marisa's magic. Either accidentally concealed the traces of the residual energy the fake Reimu left behind with the sheer density of magic that she she had used to attack the fake Reimu, or the fake Reimu used something other than magic to transport herself. At her failure to arrive at a conclusive idea of what the true nature of the enemy's abilities other than an 'either, or' statement left her annoyed, in which she vented the frustration by gripping at her hair and pulling it. However, a loud, distant scream soon diverted her attention. She turned around towards the source of the scream.

"Reimu, what the hell are you doing here?" came a second exclamation in Marisa's voice.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Alice removed the red-and-white's cloth gag as Marisa undid the multiple knots on the heavy cord of tightly intertwined hemp that bound Reimu. The Shrine Maiden refused to stay still, trying to struggle herself out of the bind. Her effort was rewarded with abraded skin from the friction between her moving limbs against the thick, rough rope. "Stop moving, Reimu. At this rate, I'll never be able to untie the knots!" the monochrome magician's words were spoken in vain as the Shrine Maiden continued to try and struggle herself free. The puppeteer noticed that, and by way of deploying dolls and using them to hold the Shrine Maiden still, she immobilized the girl. Marisa soon undid the ropes that bound the red-white's arms to her torso. The thick cord around the Shrine Maiden's legs together also came loose as the black-white managed to undo them as well. As soon as she undid them, however, the Shrine Maiden collapsed onto the ground, limp and defeated.

"What happened, Reimu? Why was there another Reimu out there fighting us just now? More importantly, why were you all tied up and in the storage shed of the shrine?" the monochrome magician started her question immediately, momentarily forgetting the condition Reimu was in. When her sensitivity to her friend's condition set in, she finally realised that there were multiple injuries all over the red-and-white Shrine Maiden's body, with scratches mostly on her left arm and an abrasion the length of the whole arm on her right, with even more abrasions on her right leg. The arm warmer that the Shrine Maiden wore on the left was tattered, with the one on her right completely missing. The right side of the skirt had holes in in, with individual ends of the fibers sticking out from the torn areas of the fabric.

"She probably fought someone, and was hit with a strong attack towards her left, and sent crashing through some rough ground. It is reasonable that she would probably be too injured to answer," the puppeteer mused. Marisa acknowledged the conclusion Alice had arrived at, for all the evidence she has seen points to that. "For now, our priorities should be changed to accommodate the fact that Reimu is injured. I shall tend to her first, and you should go and see what you can do to create covered shelter for the refugees," the blonde puppeteer proposed. Marisa merely fetched a canvas sheet from the shrine storage and and walked out of the room, leaving Alice to tend to her friend's injuries. After all, the puppeteer would most probably be more skilled with healing injuries than the offense-based magician she was would.

Getting out of the storage shed, the magician with the witch's hat walked to area of the shrine grounds in front of the main building. Laying down the canvas sheet in front of her, she started to spread it out.

Right, now, I just have to get some steel poles. . .

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The puppeteer raised her grimoire and put it in front of her. The thick book showed signs of natural aging on the pages, however the cover was well maintained, bar the words "Grimoire of Alice" printed in faded, gold text. Unbuckling the two straps of fabric that held the grimoire closed, she opened the book. Examining the Shrine Maiden's wounds again, she flipped the pages, running the index finger of her right hand through the lines of text inscribed on the pages in black, she attempted to find a spell that could be used in this situation.

Ah, this is it. A simple curing spell for superficial wounds. . .

Holding up the book, she placed her left hand over the page with the spell, and started to mutter a magic incantation. The wounds on the skin of the Shrine Maiden started to heal, the flesh starting to mend and and the skin starting to pull itself together. A thread of blue, made of pure magical energy went into the skin and out again in a manner as if it were sewing the wound closed. Alice watched as the red-white's expression slowly livened from the lethargic look she had displayed earlier on. It was not long before the Shrine Maiden could stand on her feet, and the puppeteer shut her book. The moment she was able to move properly, however, she attempted to rush out of the storage room, only to suddenly collapse to a half-kneeling position from the strain, and the individual wounds started to bleed from the sudden motion.

"What are you doing, Reimu? My magic isn't true magic: it just seals up the wound for time being and promotes recovery. If you keep moving like that, the magic won't help you, it'll harm you instead!" The red-white stopped moving as told by the puppeteer, not that she could move much from the pain anyways, and spoke, "That woman. . . she actually tried to put me out of commission. I shouldn't have listened to her!" The wounds soon sealed shut from the magic applied to it, though the blood stains from the earlier bleeding continued to exist on her skin. Alice immediately processed the content of the sentence, and asked a question, "What woman? What has she done?" The red-white only widened her eyes, mostly in shock, before managing a sentence.

"GET DOWN, ALICE!"

The puppeteer stood stunned, and before she knew it Reimu had jumped over her and forced her to get down. When she had came to her senses, she found herself under the Shrine Maiden, looking at an amulet dive its way into the wall at the further end of the storage room.

Alice could only stare as Reimu stood up, moving her arms before her in a position to defend herself as she manifested three amulets into either hand and hollered at. . . another Reimu outside the storage room?

"You tricked me, you Youkai! I shouldn't have trusted you!" The true Reimu stepped forward as she shouted at the imposter before her, who simply took out her purifying rod, running her index and middle fingers along it.

It's that move again!

The imposter chuckled, before revealing an evil smirk, "Well, what can I say to the Shrine Maiden who even lost her own purifying rod? I might as well take your place, Reimu," The false shrine maiden flew towards the real Reimu, deflecting every amulet shot with her reinforced purifying rod before attempting to grab her by the shirt, lifting her off the ground, into the air. "Come with me, Reimu Hakurei," the doppelganger told Reimu, who kept on struggling.

Alice watched as the Shrine Maiden was carried by the imposter. The doppelganger flew straight, crashing Reimu into the further end of the wall before flying through a hole created by the impact. Alice panicked. She knew that she has to quickly stop Reimu from being taken away by what she apparently called a Youkai, but had no ideas in her head. Just as she reached the point of freaking out, she felt a moment of calmness where her vision became grey-scaled, and time seemed to stop.

A voice rang in her mind.

Quick, Alice!

Alice stopped to listen. It was a childlike voice, somewhat like that of a young girl who was nine years old.

You have to stop that! Just find that spell on the hundred and forty-seventh page of the grimoire!

With that said, colour started to flood back into the Youkai Magician's sight, and she regained her senses.

The blonde puppeteer did not know what hit her, however she had no time to doubt the advice which she just received. Running out of the storage room, she could just barely see the imposter of Reimu in the sky, with her captive Shrine Maiden. She flipped the book frantically, in search of page 147. When she found it, she ran her fingers by the text, trying to find 'that spell' which the voice had talked to her about.

Not this, not this. . .

Drops of sweat formed on the girl's forehead as her eyes darted from sentence to sentence, skimming through the contents of that page.

It had to be somewhere here!

Running her finger through a few more lines, she found the spell.

This spell involves transporting a human through both spatial and temporal coordinates! How am I supposed to carry out this spell with my level of power?

With time running out, the blonde haired girl started to recite the chants to the spell. Ten lines of incantations would probably take thirty seconds, which was more than enough time for the imposter to bring Reimu out of the range of the spell. However--

Alice! I'll do it with you. Just recite the every odd numbered line and I'll do the rest!

The puppeteer felt a slight headache as the voice entered her mind again. However, being in no position to question the voice's words, she could only comply.

As she started to close her eyes and focus her magical energy into the grimoire, reciting the first incantation, a figure of a young, blonde girl, in a white blouse and blue short skirt held to her by straps that went over the shoulder, materialized from light. Adjusting the plain blue ribbon tied to the side of her head, she pointed her left hand at the magician known as Alice Margatroid. Almost instantly, the girl froze in the midst of chanting her spell, her lips forming the shape of the last word that she had managed. The young girl walked towards the puppeteer, gently taking the book from her hands.

I'll take over from here, Alice.

Placing her hands on the page of the book, she muttered a few lines before an elaborate blue decagram appeared below her feet. The book started levitating of its own, and the girl in blue and white brought up both her hands, framing the imposter and her captive Shrine Maiden within a rectangle formed by her hands. The book flared a bright blue as she completed the magical incantation.

Only three seconds had passed.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
The captive girl carried on struggling, resulting in thin streams of blood running down the sides of her arms and legs from her earlier injuries. She did not mind aggravating her injuries as long as she caused her captor to lose her grip on her. "You Youkai! I knew I couldn't trust you! Let me go!"

The imposter started to laugh, "It was only a safety precaution to make sure that you wouldn't betray me, Reimu. You know, I can see you from everywhere, and I wouldn't want you breaking you promise."

"So you had to beat me up, throw me into the storage all bound and gagged, attack my friends and steal the Hakurei purifying rod?" the questions that the Shrine Maiden asked only caused the doppelganger to stop.

The familiar of a shrine maiden before Reimu started to blink, before it became distorted. However, it was merely the appearance of the imposter that started to change. Her left hand still held on firmly to the Shrine Maiden's shirt's collar, while the image of a hand holding onto a parasol appeared. Long, flowing golden hair waved with the wind as the face of the Youkai turned towards the Shrine Maiden. She started to speak.

"You do know that for one, I like to make sure that my plans go uninterrupted. Besides, I made sure that I did not turn that Spell Card Duel I had with your friend into a lethal one. You are my friend, Reimu, and I acknowledge and respect you for that. Hence I am bringing you to a safe place to wait until the incident is over."

The red-and-white Shrine Maiden struggled even more as her mind rejected the reasoning that the parasol-wielding Youkai gave. "If you had respected me," she turned her head towards the eyes of the Youkai, directly staring into her, "you would have told me every implication and every action that you have taken."

"Reimu, listen," the Youkai signaled the Shrine Maiden to remain silent as she raised her index finger over her lips. Speaking in a soft voice, she started, "Look, you have friends, I have friends too. I am doing this for a friend of mine who has been with me since she was young. . . she gave me her whole lifetime's worth of friendship, Reimu." The Youkai then pointed her closed parasol towards the direction of the Human Village before continuing, "However, Reimu, those humans are easily replaceable, and are not even related to you. So why bother? Or is it that--"

The Youkai paused suddenly, then stared into the Shrine Maiden with stone-cold eyes, "that you do not respect me as a friend, Reimu Hakurei?"

Reimu continued to struggle. Upon hearing that question, she replied without hesitation, "Who needs your sort of friendship?!" The Youkai, taken aback, dropped her from her hands. However, before she could answer, the girl whom she held captive was gone without a trace.

"You'll understand," the Youkai thought aloud, speaking to no one in particular, "when you become like me eventually."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
The Shrine Maiden stood shocked as she witnessed the surroundings starting to warp around her. Although she wasn't moving at all, the scenery continued to play out as if it were moving in distorted lines around her. A sinking feeling soon played, and the girl dressed in red-and-white felt herself losing her consciousness. . .

Only to be jolted back into awareness as she landed on hard ground. Turning around, she noticed Alice kneeling by her, with Marisa by the side.

"Alice told me whatever that had happened. What is going on with you, Reimu? You never side with the Youkai!"

The Shrine Maiden, reluctant to answer the question, looked away from the monochrome magician.

Marisa was not about to give up. She parted her lips as she was about grill Reimu further, however her mouth was promptly covered with a hand. The witch looked at the puppeteer, who simply raised an outstretched hand to signal a 'stop'. Seeing that the monochrome magician was not about to comply, she faked a yawn, then started to speak.

"Ah, it's rather late now, and I believe both me and Marisa are feeling sleepy." Noticing that Marisa was still not complying, the blonde-haired puppeteer brought her other hand down onto the offending magician's head with a heavy blow. Taking the cue, the monochrome magician shot her magic-using friend a stare before turning around and playing along. "Y-yeah, sure, would you mind showing us the way to a guest room or something around here?" The Shrine Maiden stood up slowly, her left hand clasping onto her right arm to try and misdirect her pain by way of gripping her arm tightly.

"Here, come with me."

Just as the Shrine Maiden was about to lead the two magicians to another shed by the front of the shrine, she started to hear the sound of footsteps.

It was not just the footsteps of one person, however. Walking towards the edge of the shrine grounds, she looked downwards. What lay before her was the scene of what seemed like countless individual lights ascending the stone steps of the shrine. Taking a closer look, she noticed the lights to be flickering, like fires upon a torch, carried by people marching towards the shrine. She took a step back in shock as in finally sunk in to her.

There's a whole, huge group of people moving towards my shrine.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
It took a little more than a hour for the refugees to completely settle in the shrine. With little building material meant that it was harder to build shelter, and all they could do was set up a simply shelter by tying a large canvas sheet that was found in the storeroom to the branches of trees at either side of the shrine grounds, pulling the canvas sheet taught and forming a somewhat waterproof shelter, at the very least. With the flower Youkai's help, walls of vines burst out of the soil below the tiled shrine grounds, rising high enough just to hit the height of the canvas sheet to act as the walls of the shelter they had constructed. Filing in the people took about thirty minutes alone, and although there was about enough distance between each person for adequate elbow room in the temporary shelter, it was nevertheless a tight fit. Distribution of food came in the form of one Minoriko Aki that had rushed to the shrine from Youkai Mountain and one Fujiwara no Mokou handing out food items, namely sweet potatoes and yakitori to tide the villagers over for now.

The seven members of the incident resolving group soon gathered at the room behind the shrine, along with Reimu Hakurei and Hieda no Akyuu. Upon reaching the room, Akyuu kneeled down in a sitting position to roll out an old map with various writings on it, and Keine, Minoriko and Alice and Reimu took their seats respectively. Yuuka opted to stand by the side, while Mokou tended to her newly gained sister. Although with heavy protests from the teacher about the moralities of allowing a child get into fighting, the Hourai Immortal simply waved the concerns away, stating that her sister was coming along no matter what. The short trifle was quickly resolved and the meeting was started by Hieda no Akyuu.

Taking a bow towards the people in the room, the purple-haired young girl started, "Good evening. I have gathered you today because the Humans -- no, the whole of Gensokyo -- is facing an impending crisis due to the appearance of the Scarlet Mist around Misty Lake." The speaking girl waited for the people in the room to nod in acknowledgement, bar Reimu, before continuing, "As we speak, the Scarlet mist has already arrived at the Human Village, and has probably turned it into a lifeless desert. With the flora withered, the base of the food chain is lost, and the animals that live there would have had died."

The teacher took over, "With that said, we know nothing about what this mist can do other than causing vegetation to wither and die. If we do not find the source of this calamity soon, there would be nothing stopping the annihilation of all life that we know now, for even if we could figure out a way to make ourselves immune to the mist, we would still face death if we run out of food."

"The food we have will only continue to supply the human population for fifteen days, however, so we do not have much time nor energy to resolve this incident. The only thing we can do is to deliver ourselves to the dragon's den and defeat the culprit behind this mist," the god of Harvests added.

Taking out her brush, the writer of the Gensokyo Chronicles circled out an area on the map, close to Misty Lake before speaking, "Our best bet right now would be to try and confront the culprit in this area, for this is where the first sightings of the Scarlet Mist started."

"However, Akyuu," the Hourai Immortal stepped forward, "if that is the wrong place, it would be at least half-a-day wasted, and fifteen days to solve this incident isn't exactly the most comfortable amount of time to have."

"Try coming up with a better idea, then," the writer challenged. Receiving no response, she continued, "It's settled then, our next destination will be the Misty Lake."

Reimu stood up then, banging the table as she did. "What do you mean 'we'? You grabbed me here, put me through this meeting, then used my shrine without my--"

"Tell me, Shrine Maiden of this little slice of Paradise," the flower Youkai stepped forward, lifting the tip her parasol towards the girl before she continued, "would you just stand by after having your pride stolen from you?"

The Shrine Maiden opened her mouth as if she were going to retaliate, then closed it. Yuuka knew that she hit her hard where it hurt.

"Reimu, a Shrine Maiden without her purifying rod is like a tiger without its stripes. It will be disrespected, just like you," the flower Youkai took a page out of the teacher's book, "So, why not join us? We can help you get that Youkai who took the Hakurei purifying rod. You might as well direct your frustration at our common enemy, rather than just welling it up like that."

The flower Youkai lowered her parasol. There came no reply from the Shrine Maiden, which was just as well. The green-haired woman was content with the silent answer, for she knew it was the young Shrine Maiden's way of saying 'yes'.

"Well then, I'll take it that our little Shrine Maiden of Paradise is now with us in this," the flower Youkai gave a subtle grin to the red-and-white, who responded simply by looking away.

"So, what should we do now, acting Chairperson of the Scarlet Mist Incident Resolving Group, Hieda no Akyuu?"

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Voting time:

[ ] The night is still young. Let us make the most we can out of it right now and proceed to the Misty Lake immediately.

[ ] We should retire for the night. With rest comes efficiency. We can proceed to the Misty Lake tomorrow morning, after a good night's rest.

[ ] Write in your own response! If it gets popular, it will be used.

______________________________
Author's Notes:
Sad to say, the daily update routine will have to be ended with this update. I no longer have the time to update every day since the school holidays are ending. Rest assured that this story will still be updated at less regular intervals.

As for this chapter, I tried to get the story going towards its eventual conclusion. Now that they have a direction, things should be going in smoothly.

Opinions are welcome, as always.

With that said. . .
_______________________________
Scarlet Mist Incident Resolving Team

Keine Kamishirasawa
Fujiwara no Mokou
-Rumia
Minoriko Aki
Yuuka Kazami

Marisa Kirisame
Alice Margatroid
Reimu Hakurei

Akyuu no Hieda
No. 170721
[x] We should retire for the night. With rest comes efficiency. We can proceed to the Misty Lake tomorrow morning, after a good night's rest.

Better to be rested than tired.
No. 170728
[X] We should retire for the night. With rest comes efficiency. We can proceed to the Misty Lake tomorrow morning, after a good night's rest.

Better rest up first, and Reimu's still injured.
No. 170760
[x] We should retire for the night. With rest comes efficiency.
-[x] Then we should make up a plan, cause things are becoming more and more complicated.
[x] Someone who posed as Reimu? But the only shape-shifter is... no, it can't be.
-[x] I'd hate to say it, Mokou, but looks like you have to "recruit" a rabbit from Eientei.
--[x] You know which one.
No. 170774
[x] We should retire for the night. With rest comes efficiency. We can proceed to the Misty Lake tomorrow morning, after a good night's rest.

A sensible plan.
No. 170786
>>170760

I am sorry, but I do not get what you mean. Could you please specify?

On another note, thank you all for your votes so far. Your continued support keeps me going.

Also, I have not forgotten about the Tengu Corps. So, yeah. Just saying.
No. 170787
>>170786
I guess he meant the Reimu imposer may be Nue or Mamizou ,and wanted Mokou to kidnap force recruit Reisen since she can detect fakers.
No. 170788
>>170787

Oh. However, Nue or Mamizou do not yet exist in this stage of Gensokyo, so. . .

Well, do you still want me to recruit the rabbit?
No. 170789
Voting has closed already, and our winning option seems to be:

[x] We should retire for the night. With rest comes efficiency.

And this

[x] Then we should make up a plan, cause things are becoming more and more complicated.

Thank you all for your participation, and anticipate the next chapter!
No. 170790
>>170788
Well, I'm not the one who wrote down the option, but if that option doesn't complicate things, I'd like to see Eientei cast mixed in for shits and giggles.

Just a personal opinion.
No. 170791
>>170790

Well, it is a problem, because I do plan to have the IN casts as antagonists for the sequel to Falling Scarlet Cherry Blossoms.

However, I'll see if I can mix in an encounter as a hook to the sequel. No promises, but I'll try.
No. 170901
File 137293011849.jpg - (18.32KB , 200x141 , Hieda_no_Akyuu_240_412394.jpg ) [iqdb]
170901
Now with better vocabulary, more content and hopefully better proofread. The previous version was real bad, and was a WIP accidentally posted, so I apologize to the people that had read that version. Now, without further ado. . .
______________________________________________________

The girl with the brush stammered as she realized her leadership being recognized by the flower Youkai. "W-well, i-if you address me as s-so. . ." Akyuu stopped before attempting a pathetic attempt to clear her throat, in which caused Marisa and Alice to giggle, and Reimu to stifle a laugh. The petite girl turned towards the three girls, shooting them a stare.

Marisa immediately looked away, pushing her hat up with her finger and pretended to be deep in thought. The puppeteer placed open her grimoire on her lap and ran her finger through the lines as if she were reading it, and the Shrine Maiden simply corrected herself and stared back. The purple-haired maiden quickly looked away.

"R-right," now fully absorbed into her role, the petite girl tried to speak in the most majestic voice she could manage, "as the acting chairman of the Scarlet Mist Incident Resolving group, I propose that we get a good night's rest for today."

The expected positive response did not come. The purple-haired maiden turned around, looking at the girls around the room.

Silence.

Not a single word was exchanged.

Even the young blonde Youkai girl in the black dress was silent, obviously confused with what was going on. However, her innocent question soon diffused the awkward situation.

"I thought we were trying to solve an incident, Miss Akyuu," the blonde Youkai asked. "Why are we sleeping?"

"Well," the human girl of petite nature burst with a fiery temper, "we do have humans on our team, you know! They need rest, so do I! I can't record down all the events that you all go through if I am tired!"

The god of harvests stood up stepped forward. "Well, I guess that does it. She's a non-combatant, she's trying to be a dead weight by going with us on our team and she is attempting and she's trying to put us backwards by about eight hours on the schedule just because she wants to come along and note down things into her little book of Gensokyo Chronicles," the Myriad God stopped to take a breath before continuing, "I suppose even I would make a better chairman of this group."

"Actually, Minoriko, I beg to differ," the puppeteer stood up before continuing. "First of all, I am sure everyone is tired after a day's worth of work," the blonde girl looked around for public opinion, speaking after receiving a consensual nod from everyone in the room bar the Youkai of Darkness, who was more energetic than she was in the day, and the harvest god, "and it would benefit us more than harm us if we had a night's worth of rest before we continue the investigations." She stopped to take a breath, then started again, "Furthermore, with rest comes efficiency. We would need to think of our fellow human counterparts with us too. We would be severely disadvantaged if we have lose the help of Keine, Mokou, Marisa and Reimu to excessive fatigue which would mean we have lost four people's worth of manpower for searching and four people's worth of firepower during possible encounters."

The Myriad God stepped back, visibly unhappy with the turnout, but unable to do anything against the general consensus of those in the room. She simply walked to the wall with an uncontented frown, then, deciding that she had better things to do, walked out of the room.

"I'll inform her of what happens here later on, so let us continue, shall we?" the girl with pale blue hair and square hat suggested. The monochrome witch soon stepped up to speak, "I believe we should review our strategy first." Marisa picked up the map with her hands, then stood in front of the whole room, "Right now, our 'strategy' simply involves the whole lot of us rushing to the Misty Lake and combing the area. Not only is it tactless as it leaves us all open to focused fire from enemy attacks, we also sacrifice the area we could have covered individually. After all, we have eight people who are capable of combat--"

However, the purple-haired maiden questioned the new plan, "So, I would assume that you are implying that we split up and search different areas?" After receiving a prompt 'Yes' from the monochrome witch, Akyuu continued, "Do you know how dangerous that is? It would equal to suicide if we meet our enemy. We don't know how strong she is, nor what she can do. Furthermore, as you have told us about your previous encounter with her, she was even able to take you on."

The puppeteer countered, "Well, Marisa wouldn't be that stupid to let us go alone and vulnerable. We are going to form teams, so even if we encounter our enemy, we can deal with her, or at least defend long enough to get away. After all, we cannot put all our eggs into one basket, but we cannot split up everyone too, so we have to take the option with the best of both worlds."

"So," the flower Youkai tapped her parasol on the wooden floor of the room lightly, drawing the attention of the girls in the room to her, "how shall we organize ourselves into teams? We have eight people so far."

The purple-haired girl questioned, "Even if we do have two teams, why would we need them? We only have one place on the map that we know of to search--" The girl was soon interrupted by the Hourai Immortal, "Well, first of all, having two individual teams cover Misty Lake would mean it could be covered more systematically, since we can have one team sweep from the left to the center and another from the right to the center. We would cover the whole area in the time it would take to cover half if we traveled in one huge group. Essentially, it would take only half the time needed of the original plan."

The monochrome magician continued, "We can figure out the groupings out now, too. Miss Kamishirasawa, Mokou, Rumia and," the girl stopped for a moment before continuing, ". . .Miss Kazami can be our first group, and I. along with Reimu, Alice and Minoriko will form the second team. Since I get along with Reimu and Alice well, and will probably be able to communicate with Minoriko too, I'll go with this group."

"Right, now that our strategy for tomorrow is already drawn out, we can start operations at first light tomorrow, no?"

The acting chairman received a nod to her question, and she continued.

"Well then, you all are dismissed," then, her vision fell onto the Shrine Maiden and Alice. She added on an instruction, "Let us vacate this room and go to the shelter. We'll leave this room to Alice for her to help cure Reimu's injuries. After all, she is badly injured."

The teacher made her way to the door and slid the door open. The flower Youkai raised her parasol to her shoulder and settled it there before moving towards the door, declaring an "I'll take the storage room" before she walked out into the open. The monochrome magician walked out next, finding the Youkai with the checked skirt nowhere to be seen. She shrugged, and simply started to move towards the impromptu shelter, soon followed by Akyuu, Mokou, Rumia and Keine.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
"Now then, Reimu. Keep still, or the magic I am going to use will not be effective. So don't be stubborn and move about again." The girl unbuckled her grimoire for the forth time of the day. She hardly ever used the thick book, but circumstances for now were indeed different. Holding out her book, she recited a few magical incantations off it, the first one mainly to immobilize the hurt areas completely.

That resulted in the Shrine Maiden being unable to move her limbs at all. The next incantation started to cause the torn flesh beneath the skin to regrow, and the contracted blood vessels to open momentarily as the two ends on either side of the torn flesh attempted to join itself together. Blood gushed out from the wound for about a second, however quickly stopped as the blood vessels pulled themselves together and reformed into one, with the flesh regenerating over it.

A numbing feeling coursed through the Shrine Maiden's limbs as she went through the recovery process.

"It is normal that the regeneration process will make you feel strange sensations," the puppeteer spoke in a reassuring tone as she concentrated her magical power into the injured girl. "My healing magic works differently in that it forces your cells to rapidly divide and restore the lost area rather than actual magic that just 'restores' you to health like as if your injury had never happened. After all, we magicians don't actually use 'magic' -- it involves a lot of science too." The magician recited another incantation, and the skin above the flesh began to regrow, covering up the newly regenerated area. The areas that healed appeared visibly whiter than the lightly tanned skin that was around the injured areas.

". . .Thank you."

However. The facial expression on the Youkai magician changed completely upon the Shrine Maiden's recovery. Her previous friendliness became that of a penetrating stare, as if she met an enemy.

"Oh, no need to thank me, Reimu," the puppeteer changed her tone to that of a cold, unforgiving one as she started to grill the girl before her for information. "Now, tell me, who was that 'Youkai' you spoke of that took your form?"

The only sound in the room that followed was the buckling of the heavy grimoire that the puppeteer was holding.

Alice took a look at the Shrine Maiden, who simply looked away and rejected to answering the question. The blonde magician repeated her question in the same, emotionless tone.

"Just in case you did not hear what I said, I will repeat what I had said once more. Tell me, who was that 'Youkai' you spoke of just now in the storage room?"

The girl dressed in red-and-white continued to have her lips sealed, unmoving. However, the patience of the doll maniac was running out. She raised her left hand and pointed it towards the Shrine Maiden before her.

"I shall ask you for the third and last time. Tell me what you were conspiring with that Youkai against Gensokyo before she betrayed you." Receiving silence, she raised herself from a sitting position beside the offending girl to a kneeling position, rearing up to half her height. She opened her eyes wide, staring into her two brown eyes with her own. Her right arm put side the thick book she carried and grabbed the collar of the Shrine Maiden.

Reimu simply grabbed the magician's offending arm by the wrist with her hand, and threw it to the side.

"I don't like being threatened, Alice Margatroid," the Hakurei Maiden spoke in a monotonous voice, her face expressionless. "I will not speak when I choose to not speak and nobody can force me to speak when I do not want to speak. I express my gratitude to you for helping me recover," the girl turned to her fingers and flexed them before giving her attention back to the magician before her, "however I will not hesitate to use my regained health against you, Youkai Magician."

The Shrine Maiden turned her head to the side, expecting her visitor to leave, only to find a flash of silver before her eyes. It was then she realised the multiple glints of silver coming from the thin threads that lay before her field of vision. Looking to her sides, she only found more thin strands set up throughout her room in a complex manner, covering every single square inch of her room bar the area she sat on and an allowance of one whole body length behind where she sat. The shrine maiden fixed her gaze back on Alice. The girl merely stood up and turned towards the door.

"Have a good night, Shrine Maiden of the Hakurei Shrine."

The girl walked through the strings as if she were a ghost, leaving Reimu surprised. However, the Shrine Maiden maintained her emotionless front, undaunted. However, the Youkai Magician detected that slightest bit of shock in the human girl still. She turned her head back and spoke.

"Don't be surprised. These strings are made from my magical energy, and will reject the magical signature of all other beings. Naturally, your magic and my magic are vastly different. Thus, the strings will solidify and trip off if you even touch them so much as one bit," the magician revealed a doll, and snapped her fingers over the short fuse of the vine, causing a small burst of red magic energy that ignited the fuse. The fuse burned down until the last centimeter remained before the blonde witch blew out the magical flame, "the strings of prana will start to combust, and the flame will travel along the lines like fire burns fiber and light up this explosive-filled doll."

The doll maniac set the figure she had in her hands on the table, in direct contact with the strings before walking towards the sliding door.

"Oh, don't bother even removing that doll I set there Shrine Maiden. Even if you do, I have set more." The girl swept her arm in a semi-circular arc with her index finger pointed, "Perhaps it is there? Or there, Or there? All I know is, if you making one false move as an 'ally' of ours, you will end up with lots of pain." The puppeteer let out a devilish smile, holding out her hand, then clenching it into a fist, creating a small explosion of magic. While the explosion did no harm, the magician still maintained a malicious tone in her voice. "Don't worry, I wouldn't kill you, Reimu," however, the girl's wistful voice soon changed into a serious one, "betray Gensokyo one more time, Shrine Maiden, and I will make sure that you shall be stopped. You may have gained their trust, but you shall not be able to lie to me."

The Shrine Maiden watched the doll maniac walk out of the room, sliding the door shut.

Lying down in the small area that was free from the strings, Reimu closed her eyes.

I will get you for doing this to Gensokyo. Just wait, you Youkai.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
As the pale-blue-haired girl walked towards the entrance of the shelter, she felt a tap on her shoulder. Turning around, a girl in orange hat greeted her sight. She looked towards the side, visibly embarrassed, however she continued.

"So, what did you all talk about in the room?"

"Well, we'll be setting off at first light tomorrow." The teacher replied.

"Are there any other plans?" The Myriad God tried to keep her questions short, after memories from the outburst she had during the meeting still making her feel bad about talking to the human.

The teacher tried to recall her conversation before continuing, "Well, we shall split into two groups, however you are grouped with the magicians and Reimu. Please do try and get along with the Youkai Magician--"

Just as her name was called, a blonde puppeteer appeared around the corner, causing the orange-clothed girl to step away in disgust and anger. The doll maniac watched as the Myriad Goddess entered the shelter, however she did not follow her. Instead, the doll maker walked towards the farthest end of the shrine grounds.

Curious, the teacher asked, "Miss Margatroid, why are you not coming into the shelter? It's rather late now--"

The teacher was rather surprised with the curt reply.

"Precisely because it is late," the puppeteer swung her arms in an arc to either side before continuing "that I am setting up traps against the Youkai."

Dolls immediately lunged out in eight directions from the blonde girl, forming a rectangle that enclosed the perimeter of the shrine. The teacher ducked in reaction as a doll grazed where would have been her head should she have not ducked.

Standing up after the dolls had passed her, she realized multiple glints of silver around the perimeter of the shrine, apparently strands of string that linked one doll to another as they floated there. Keine watched as the doll-maker Youkai severed the strings that linked each doll to her hand, however, the sentry dolls still maintained their position.

“These dolls should hold for three days, at least. Hopefully we would be back before then,” the blonde magician muttered to herself.

Then, she unbuckled her grimoire and started to mutter magical incantations. A huge blue pentagon soon appeared over the snow-covered Shrine Grounds itself, and started rotating slowly in a clockwise direction with a fading glow before it disappeared.

“That is a barrier spell that guards against sources of magical energy not recognized by it, no?” Keine asked the girl, who closed her grimoire before turning to her.

“What about it, Miss Kamishirasawa? To be honest, why do we even need a barrier spell if we don't even suspect the Shrine Maiden?” the doll maniac continued with a half-jokingly tone, “Is this just to fool myself into thinking that we are safe?”

Keine gave a puzzled look to Alice, who replied with a question.

“I mean, don't you even feel suspicious about her? She has conspired with the enemy before, after all. She could always stab us in the back if she wanted, with the amount of trust you gave her!”

“Alice, I doubt she would do that.”

“What couldn't she do,” the Blonde Magician flailed her hands exasperatedly, “when she has admitted that the Youkai betrayed her? She must have some secret agenda going on!” At that moment, the puppeteer realized that she had broke her composure, and tried to calm herself back to her normal demeanor before speaking.

“I mean, look, the Reimu we have may not even be the Reimu we used to know anymore. I have lost my trust in her already.”

The blue-haired girl replied to the puppeteer's statement, “Alice, just because you are paranoid about Reimu doesn't mean that she must be scheming something behind our backs. In fact, even Marisa thinks that the Shrine Maiden is too honest to lie. If she lies, she lies badly, and is probably too straightforward to be scheming.”

“Besides, if she did want to sabotage our attempt, she would have killed us single-handedly. She is renowned for her prowess in Youkai Extermination, and is probably good enough to take the life of a regular human with her powers.”

The Youkai Magician wanted to counter her statement, but could not come up with anything, so she just turned away from the teacher. She walked towards the highest step of the stone steps before the shrine, overlooking all below. The moonlight was sufficient enough to show the light red mist floating in the still far-off horizon.

Knowing that it was no use talking to the magician for now, the blue-haired girl decided to catch some sleep in the temporary shelter, leaving the blonde magician to sit by the stone steps.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
"Alright, let us go through our instructions again. My team will start searching Misty Lake from the right side, and your team will start from the left, Miss Kamishirasawa. Alice has applied a spell to you all that should be able to ward off the mist, however should anything happen to you when you approach the Scarlet Mist, immediately come back to the Hakurei Shrine. Is that agreed?"

As first light came, the members of the incident resolving team gathered in front of the shrine. The instructions that had been discussed during the meeting the day before were quickly re-briefed to everyone. Everything was going according to plan except for one thing: Akyuu arriving with a brush and a very thick book, fit to be an atlas. Almost immediately she was questioned.

"Why are you here," the harvest goddess questioned, "and what are you doing with that thick book?"

The purple-haired girl of short stature answered without hesitation, "As the Child of Miare of the current age, I have the duty of collecting and compiling the historical events in Gensokyo. As such, I have to come along."

Well, this girl is going to be troublesome. . .

The teacher came up with an idea just as she finished her honest mental comment about the girl.

"Say, Akyuu, why not you pass me the Gensokyo Chronicles," the blue-haired girl fetched the book from the petite maiden's hands before continuing, "and you stay here? Being one of the important people in the human village, having you stay with the population would have a reassuring effect on the people. Furthermore, being an authoritative figure in the village, I am sure that the people will listen to you."

That should have done it!

"Well then," having coaxed the girl out of the thought, "I'll help you note down whatever happens, and you can go ahead and rest easy about your duty for now and help us take care of the people, okay?"

Receiving a silent nod from purple-haired maiden, the teacher took a heavy step in the opposite direction forward, pushing herself into the air. Her white-haired friend followed suit soon after, with the young blonde Youkai girl in her arms. The flower Youkai simply stepped into the air and strolled along with the group at a pace faster than most humans could run, and followed up with Keine, Mokou and Rumia.

The monochrome witch simply side-saddled her broom and muttered a magical incantation before it started moving of its own, and the doll-maker Youkai grabbed hold of her friend's flight instrument as she heaved herself onto the handle of the item her friend sat on. The harvest goddess lightly tapped the air with her feet, allowing herself to soar forwards along with her two teammates, with the Hakurei Shrine Maiden simply floating into the air, with her hands to the sides of her.

Akyuu watched as the eight people floated towards the mist-covered horizon.

Hopefully they come back safe. . .

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
“Hey, Keine, can you go faster? I'm gonna overtake you by a mile at this rate!”

The girl looked forward at the monochrome magician and her party, who were rushing towards the horizon at mach speed. However, the teacher ignored the comment by the black-and-white, since she did know that her group was not exactly full of the light and fast types like her counterpart's party.

However, deep in the teacher's heart, she knew that that was not the reason as to why she was traveling slowly.

“The village. . . it's now covered in that red mist. I wonder how the things are like there right now. . .”

Picking up the human girl's mutterings, the flower Youkai gave the air she 'stepped on' a hard push, and caught up with the teacher. Turning to her, she spoke.

“Keine, what is lost is lost. The human village is already engulfed in that mist. As much as I know that you consider yourself a guardian of that village and losing that pains you, you should take comfort in the fact that you have saved the people,” Yuuka pointed her parasol towards the now-deserted village as she continued, “look, no-one is even there now, so why not we just--”

“Look, look! There is a girl in a blue dress down there!”

An exclamation by Rumia brought her three other companions to look down towards where the little Youkai's finger was pointing. Indeed, a tiny figure of a female in blue was moving through the deserted remains of the human village.

The white-haired girl scratched her head as she spoke, “There shouldn't be anyone around here now, since everyone has evacuated to the shrine, no? We even did a count – I am sure everyone was evacuated.” However, after an instant's worth of thought, she blurted out another sentence, “Perhaps that girl is a plunderer, trying to steal the things left behind during the evacuation?”

Indeed, the miniature figure of blue was moving from building to building, as if she were in a frantic search for something.

“Maybe we should check it out. If she is indeed a person trying to steal things, we can simply kick her out of the village, no?” the white-haired girl asked.

_________________________________________
Alright then, voting time (for things that they would do on the way to the village, written in Keine's point of view.

[ ] Hm. . . Maybe I should go down and investigate. Strange occurrences have been happening ever since the incident started.

[ ] It is probably not an important matter. It is more important that we catch up with Marisa and search Misty Lake first.

With that said. . .
_________________________________________
The Scarlet Mist Incident Resolving Team

Team 1
Keine Kamishirasawa
Fujiwara no Mokou
Rumia
Yuuka Kazami

Team 2
Marisa Kirisame
Alice Margatroid
Minoriko Aki
Reimu Hakurei

Chairman
Hieda no Akyuu
_________________________________________
Author's notes: Not the best update, since school has started and I really do not have much time to do the updates. Maybe I will be doing updates of lesser length but making it more frequent, or making longer updates but take about a week to release.
No. 170910
[X] Hm. . . Maybe I should go down and investigate. Strange occurrences have been happening ever since the incident started.

It might be worth a quick look.
No. 170950
[X] Hm. . . Maybe I should go down and investigate. Strange occurrences have been happening ever since the incident started.
-[X] If she is a plunderer, well, you can do your today's first target practice.
-[X] If she isn't, kindly ask if she can help your investigation.
No. 171056
File 137311671026.jpg - (54.68KB , 200x140 , 0cc71930fa6b2c7a02cfdc9560885e51.jpg ) [iqdb]
171056
Indeed, that does make sense. Just checking it out for a moment wouldn't affect the plan.
The teacher accepted Mokou's proposal, and started to descend, her feet touching the ground. The white-haired girl followed soon after, with the flower Youkai close behind. Before them, a girl, about sixteen years old, moved from one house to the next, opening doors and peeking through windows. Behind the girl, the homes of many people lay unlocked and apparently broken into, with whole metal locks lying on the snow-covered ground in pieces. It was not surprising that there would be people trying to plunder the unguarded houses, though.

What surprised the party of four was the fact that the silver-haired girl donned a dress that looked like that of a French maid's. The blue-haired teacher observed the target girl for a while more.

"Keine, who would you reckon that girl to be? She appears to be breaking into the houses and shops, but she apparently took nothing with her," the white-haired Immortal mused, looking at the girl with the white maid headband step out from other home she broke into empty-handed. It was then that the Hourai Immortal had a frontal view of the silver-haired girl.

She had blue eyes that neither sparkled nor were dull. Her silver hair was worn in long braids on both sides of her face, with the ends of the braids, tied with green ribbons, meeting with the red woollen scarf she wore. Worn below her blue dress was a white, short sleeved shirt with apparently no use whatsoever, and ended with white gloves over her hands. Before her dress, a white apron with intricate embroidering of roman numerals in gold thread decorated the plain borders of the piece of fabric.

However, being able to see her front profile meant that the team of four that were previously observing her had been discovered too.

Since we have been discovered, might as well.

Approaching the silver-haired girl, the Hourai Immortal left her 'younger sister' behind her teaching friend before speaking.

"Who are you and what are you doing here?"

However, the reply she received was not in the form of words but in action.

With amazing dexterity, the maid in blue dress drew a silver knife with a red hilt from a pouch tied to her thigh with a leather strap, and held it within her index and middle fingers of her right hand. As if performing magic, she crossed both hands. Every silt between her fingers was promptly occupied with the one bladed object she held on to.

"Beware, here she comes," the flower Youkai warned, as she took a few steps forward, strolling towards her target.

Flashes of silver shot through the air as the propelled silverware left the maid's hands with incredible speed. However, the green-haired Youkai simply raised her parasol, and then opened it, stopping the daggers short with her shield-like parasol, and then closed it as she swung her held object in a wide arc, knocking away another four of the deadly projectiles. A horizontal torrent of blades soon invaded the space before Yuuka and the silver-haired girl, the maid's actions becoming a blur as her frontal limbs moved even faster.

The parasol was swung towards the right, deflecting the arc of projectiles. Opening the parasol, whatever that was formerly travelling towards the Youkai promptly deflected off to the surface of the structure, acting like a shield. Closing the parasol, she deflected another wave of projectiles before swinging it vertically, 'cutting' through another wave of projectiles.

Inching forward towards the knife-throwing maid, countless bladed objects found their place of resting on the snow-covered surfaces of the town as they ricocheted from the parasol as if the parasol were made of steel. With the storm of knives deflected, the maid could only stop as the last of her knives found itself between her fingers. Amazed at the manoeuvres the woman before her hand executed, she asked.

"Just what are you, and why can't my knives piece through that parasol you are holding onto?"

"You see," the green-haired Youkai explained, "my parasol isn't just any parasol. It is the only flower that is ever-blooming in Gensokyo. It is only befitting that this strong flower becomes my parasol, with its nigh-indestructible petals and hardiness to whatever the environment may be." After thinking for an instant, she added, "If I told you that the title conferred to me by the other Youkai was 'Flower Master of the Four Seasons', it might ring a bell."

Upon hearing the declaration, the girl in the maid outfit took a step backwards, but no expression showed on her face. She immediately corrected herself, holding her final dagger with a backhanded grip.

"Well then, tell me what you have been trying to steal from this village."

The maid answered the question with more questions, "I was breaking into houses, wasn't I? Maybe I was stealing money? Or maybe jewelry? Or simply items that I took a fancy to?"

"You can't lie to me. Besides, I can see traces of spring in the pocket of that little apron of yours, girl," the flower Youkai spoke as she raised her empty hand to point towards the pocket on the maid's apron. "May I enquire as to how you managed to acquire that small fragment of spring you have in this long-lasting winter? You do appear like a normal human to me."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
A normal human? Nobody ever refers to me as that! I'll be sure to. . .

No. Compose yourself, Izayoi Sakuya. That is just another Youkai. Assess the situation, now.

I am dealing with Yuuka Kazami, the legendary Youkai of flowers. Now that she has figured out what I am doing, I have to report to Milady at once. There is no time for me to stay here. I cannot compromise the situation.


*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
The reply that came did not answer to the question.

"Don't put me together with the humans of that calibre, Yuuka Kazami," the maid held her palm out, and a yellow poker card bordered with black outline formed in her hand. Immediately, a white pentagon formed below her feet. However, instead of fighting, the girl focused on running away instead.

"She's heading for the village exit! We have to stop her before she runs away!" Keine exclaimed as she manifested a spell card as yellow energy bolts congregated between the index and middle fingers of her right hand. An amber pentagon formed below her feet before she rushed towards her enemy.

The hand of the Hourai Immortal combusted into flames before leaving a smothering fist, grabbing onto a talisman. A red spell circle formed as she pursued the maid. Striking her open palm into the air, a burst of flame formed, missing the silver-haired by a centimetre. Her enemy turned around to face her as she found burn marks on the right sleeve of her dress.

"How dare you attempt to attack me with your inferior abilities," the silver-haired girl kept on running as she held out her spell card on her hand towards her two pursuers, turning back to look at her persuers as she did. "Very well. I shall show you the difference in power between us!"

The card glowed blue, then burst into a faint white spell circle that rotated slowly below the girl's feet.
"Can you deal with my illusion, even? I declare! Conjuring 「Misdirection」!"
With a haughty declaration, the spell circle closed around her feet, and she disappeared.

"What?"

Given only enough time to speak a single word, the human teacher felt a strike of a palm to the back of her, making her lose balance and fall onto the ground. She lay a good five meters from where she was hit, with the snow removed from the path she drove through the white element that covered the ground.

The Hourai Immortal was displeased with the outcome. She jumped a step forward before delivering a flaming kick to the offending silver-haired girl, clearly coming into contact with the figure of the body that appeared before her. She looked as her feet came into contact with the waist of the girl, sending her flying to the side.

However, the figure disappeared.

"Watch out, Mokou," was the last thing the white-haired girl heard as a circular shadow descended on her. Turning around, she noticed the green-haired Youkai removing a knife that was stuck to her parasol.

"Well, well. Aren't you a powerful being for a human," the flower Youkai palmed the red-hilted knife that she acquired, passing it from one gap of her finger to another before tossing it to the side. The knife soon found itself resting within the cracks of a wooden house nearby. "You've even managed to send one piercing through the petal of my flower."

The maid retracted her hand from the throwing movement that she had performed as she reappeared on the opposite side of the Youkai and Human, returning to a neutral position.

Mokou soon followed up with the Youkai's remark, "How could you continue to move after you have been hit? You are going against the Spell Card Rules!" However, the silver-haired maid only stifled a laugh before she replied, "Nobody ever said that I had to follow any rules of yours. As such, I will not stop even if you hit me just once." The girl brushed away the flames that burned her dress, revealing the charred blue fabric and exposing the white blouse she wore underneath her dress. Then, she continued, "All is fair in war, and you are naive to believe that your enemy would simply abide to the silly rules that the inefficient Shrine Maiden drew up."

" Land Sign 「Three Sacred Treasures -Sword-」!"

A strong gale lifted the carpet of snow that covered the ground, sending a miniature blizzard driven by the strong winds that came from behind the maid. Yuuka opened her parasol in response to the mixture of wind and snow sent flying towards her, and Mokou stood her ground as she blocked her head with crossed arms, coating herself with flames to melt the snow sent at high speeds. The flurry of white were sped up by the wind, turning them into sharp projectiles. The blur of white cut multiple holes in the blue dress that the silver-haired girl wore, along with leaving numerous cuts on the exposed areas of her arms and legs. Snow piled upon the buildings standing against the direction of the wind, leaving half-a-village in white. As the girl in the torn dress turned around, the sight of a blue-haired female greeted her, both hands gripping the hilt of a sword that was about half her height.

"Now," the teacher spoke, "will you still consider our abilities as inferior?"

However, the injured girl laughed at the statement. "You all. . . are inferior in both intellectual ability and power." The figure of her body disappeared, only for a scream to follow.

"Big Sister! Help me!"

Keine, Mokou and Yuuka turned around as the blonde girl in black dress stood with the maid, a knife held to her throat. An arm wrapped around the young girl's waist, lifting her off the ground just high enough for her other arm to be able to comfortably hold a knife in a position that can threaten the Youkai girl she held hostage.

That's right! I forgot about Rumia during the fighting!
The pyrokinetic girl threw a punch at the air before her, gritting her teeth in obvious discontent. Yuuka turned to the white-haired girl and reassured her.

"Let me handle this. We can't attack her now that she had taken Rumia hostage." The flower Youkai raised her hand as if she were performing an uppercut, however nothing happened. She tried clenching her fist to no avail, and then raised her parasol with no result. The flower master knitted her eyebrows, half in frustration and half in thought.

"How come. . ."

It was only then she came to a realisation. However, the silver-haired girl had already started to speak.

"Don't you see it, Yuuka Kazami? The moment you told me your name, I knew you couldn't use your abilities against me. Just look at the whole area before you: Do you see even a blade of grass or a stalk of a flower?"

The flower Youkai brought up her parasol as she produced a card in her hands. Holding up the densely patterned card filled with elaborate decorations of vine-like green lines, she spoke.

"Phantasm「Master Spark」."

Multiple lines of light gathered to the tip of the parasol, forming a violent blue glow as she spoke. "Young lady, I shall have you know that I can very much blow you till you exist as ash that will fertilise the soil. I will have you serve penance for the sins that you have committed against nature if you would very kindly let go of the girl you are holding on to."

"You think," the silver-haired maid let out in a mocking tone, "that I will be easily taunted by your words?" She stepped backwards, towards the nearest exit of the village before continuing, "If you wish to see your friend alive, don't you even dare to attack me, much less even move towards me."

The flower Youkai lowered her parasol, releasing the energy stored into the ground, instantly causing the ground to burst into flames before extinguishing.

Keeping her vision fixated on the three opponents before her, the lone maid maintained the grip of her arm on the Youkai Girl in her arms as she stepped backwards into the open, away from the village. She found a comfortable distance out in the open, away from her three opponents, before she turned to her left and sped through the air with her captive girl in tow.

"Damn it, we can't let her off like that! We have to give chase!" The Hourai Immortal turned towards the exit the silver-haired girl had headed off from, ready to give chase. However, a palm soon landed on her shoulder and pulled her back. "Mokou, listen! You cannot just go out there and chase after her like that. Rumia is still with her, remember? After all, with that being the only bargaining chip she has against us, she will keep her alive as long as we do not give chase."

The white-haired girl soon turned towards the teacher almost pleadingly, "Look, she's in danger, I have to do something about it. Who knows what that silver-haired female dressed up like some maid will do to my little sister!"

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Voting Time:

[ ] Give chase. Time runs out as we speak, and nobody knows what is happening to Rumia right now. Besides, Mokou will surely make a huge fuss if we do not go after her.

[ ] Don't give chase. What Yuuka said is right, and we should go and report to Marisa's team about what happened first.

[ ] Write in your own options/sub-options. If it gets popular enough/is a good option, it may be used in the next chapter.
_________________________________
Scarlet Mist Incident Resolving Team

Team 1
Keine Kamishirasawa
Fujiwara no Mokou
Yuuka Kazami

Team 2
Marisa Kirisame
Alice Margatroid
Reimu Hakurei
Minoriko Aki

Chairman
Akyuu no Hieda
_________________________________
Author's notes: And so, a character from the SDM debuts in this chapter. This wasn't a really long update, but I had branching ideas so this was mainly something to allow you guys to choose what you guys want to do. And no, I have not forgotten about Marisa and co. and the Tengu Corps. Feel free to comment, ask questions and vote.
No. 171124
[X] Give chase. Time runs out as we speak, and nobody knows what is happening to Rumia right now. Besides, Mokou will surely make a huge fuss if we do not go after her.
-[X] She's probably retreating to a safe place, so even if we can't retrieve Rumia, we can find out its location and plan a rescue later.
No. 171541
File 137364504725.jpg - (20.89KB , 200x141 , hong_meiling_hat_girl_red_hair_dress_chinese-hd-wa.jpg ) [iqdb]
171541
Selected options are:
[X] Give chase. Time runs out as we speak, and nobody knows what is happening to Rumia right now. Besides, Mokou will surely make a huge fuss if we do not go after her.
-[X] She's probably retreating to a safe place, so even if we can't retrieve Rumia, we can find out its location and plan a rescue later.

Keine rested her forehead on an open palm while her other arm found itself attached to her waist as the girl realised that she caught between two logical statements made by her companions.

Yuuka is right about the situation: We should go report to Marisa's group about the situation, so as to have more people help out with the pursuit, the teacher ran the fingers of the hand that was formerly on her forehead through her hair, squeezing her eyelids shut as she thought. However, if we don't chase after Rumia -- and that girl -- now, we may just lose the opportunity to get her back forever. Weighing her options, the vexed girl opened her eyes and came to a conclusion.

The teacher felt compelled to let out a sigh as she began to walk towards the direction of the village gate. The Hourai Immortal understood her friend's decision right away, running in front of her friend; the flower Youkai could only raise her arms in a manner which spoke "Whatever goes" before lifting her feet and following the footsteps of the former girl.

Rumia, I'll get you back. I can't live out my remaining eternity bearing the fact that my younger sister has been taken away from me forever. I'll make up for my negligence, alright.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
The Scarlet Mist was cleared temporarily courtesy of the human teacher's wind-based attack blowing away some of the dreadful scarlet hue that hung suspended in the air. However, the three girls soon found themselves seeing red (at least, slightly red) in a lifeless open field of snow as the mist, seemingly discontented with being blown away, started to, once again, diffuse in the surroundings. A regular winter would have seen children running about, playing with the white material that lay on the ground; a regular winter would have seen trees decorated with the snow that fell on its branches. A regular winter would have still held some hint of life, some inkling of the life that was about to burst forth in spring.

However, what lay before the group was a scarlet-and-white wasteland. The branches of the trees collapsed under the weight of the snow and whatever low-lying vegetation was either wilted or at the border of death. There was no sign of life.

The pyrokineticist bent down, her vision fixated on the snow-carpeted ground before her before turning to another direction in a semicircular arc. The green-haired woman observed as said pyrokineticist scanned the ground covered in pure white, scratching her head in confusion. Then, the Hourai Immortal turned to face the parasol wielding woman standing before her. Her two eyes stared squarely into the flower Youkai's eyes.

"Thanks to you, Yuuka," the white-haired girl spat, "we have lost track of that girl. She used flight, after all. I can't even find a single imprint of a footstep in this snow. That girl was smart enough to erase it."

Yuuka put on a smirk, walking towards the offending girl with her parasol resting on her shoulder. Instinctively, Mokou raised her hands before her, clenched in fists and ready for combat.

The pyrokinetic girl started, "What are you trying to do? Trying to pick a fight, are you?" This elicited the action of her friend, who produced an amber card in her hand. However, the green-haired menace merely bent down, until her head was only inches away from the Immortal's feet.

The Hourai Immortal started to tense up as her veins showed from under her arms, even more tightly-clenched fists forming. However, this did not cause the Youkai to act any indifferent. Said Youkai extended her free hand towards the pyrokineticist's right foot, and then placed her hand on it.

As if the winter cold did not bite into the Hourai Immortal enough, the girl was treated to even more cold as she was tossed like a paperweight into the air and crashed onto the ground carpeted in white; she landed unceremoniously onto the snow-cushioned earth on her left arm, clearly thrown off balance from her right.

Keine rushed to her friend's aid, helping her out of the snow and brushing the white material off the victim's shirt and pants as said victim picked herself up. The flower Youkai merely chuckled as she raised herself back to a standing position; her fingers held onto a pink petal-shaped object like it were a trophy. The flower Youkai was, however, quickly met with confrontation.

Rubbing her pained shoulder with her right hand, Mokou approached the offending Youkai with an offensive stance. The flower Youkai simply kept her smirk as the white-haired girl before her exerted a pulling force by way of grabbing the parasol wielding woman's collar.

"What were you aiming to do by attacking me like that?" The green-haired Youkai could hear the roaring of the flames coating the free hand of the girl that confronted her, fist poised to strike, but she stood her ground. The teacher walked forward, trying to break the two confronting parties apart by way of pushing them away from each other. Neither person budged.

Stifling a wicked laugh, the Youkai lifted her hand holding onto the petal in front of the girl threatening her. The enraged Immortal's vision was soon presented with the pink object, and with a knit of her brows she questioned the Youkai's intentions.

"Condensed spring," the lady of flowers snapped. "It was under your right foot all along. If you weren't so hostile, I would have kindly showed you in a more gentle way." With a strike of her petal-holding hand, Yuuka opened up a comfortable distance between herself and the aggressive Immortal. The Immortal simply spat towards the ground, and the parasol-wielding woman maintained her smirk at the silent admission of defeat that the white-haired girl had given her.

With her personal space restored, the flower Youkai held up the fragment of condensed spring she held on to a level where both her companions could see clearly and spoke.

"This pink petal -- a cherry blossom petal, by the way -- is a highly compacted form of spring," the flower master explained as squeezed the petal, evoking an aura of dark green that enveloped her hand. The object between her fingers started to swell as the magical energies were channelled into it by its wielder, then burst into a blinding light.

By the time Keine and Mokou's vision had been cleared of the white spots that obstructed their sight from the explosion of bright light, they were greeted with a small field of green, with dense blades of grass covering the ground and stalks of flowers sparsely allocated in the small oasis of green the party of three stood in. The flower Youkai gathered from her two companions a look of disbelief before continuing.

"This small petal contained a grass patch's worth of spring in one tiny container. Rather impressive, isn't it," she swept her parasol in a wide arc, pointing at the flora that grew underfoot as she spoke, "However, to drain spring and store it within these small containers -- I can't think of any reason for someone to do it."

As she spoke, the patch of green within the white wasteland soon started to wither; the flora wilted in the presence of the Scarlet Mist, which has reached high density since the time it had been blown away.

"Transient and fragile, isn't it?" The flower Youkai turned towards her right as she spoke, "Just like how Rumia's existence will end up being if we do not hurry." As if by some divine revelation, the lady of flowers started to move in the direction she was facing as she brimmed with confidence overflowing. "Let us move on now: these fragments of spring were dropped by our assailant, courtesy of the cut that Keine had left on her apron. I see the next fragment of spring already."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Rumia flailed her arms in a desperate attempt to scratch her captor; however it only served to make the maid increase the force in her grip. The blonde girl winced, and then bit her lips hard as she tried to distract herself from the pain that was inflicted upon her from the silver-haired girl's offense. Tears brimmed from the Youkai girl's now-reddened eyes, banks ready to burst at the signal.

I am scared. . . I am scared! Mokou, where are you. . .

Moist tracks soon glistened as the mist-filtered sunlight hit the young girl's face, revealing the beads of fluid that slid down her reddened cheeks. She did not know how many times she had cried ever since the silver-haired girl had lifted her off the ground at the human village's entrance. She sniffed as newly formed tears continued to roll down along her flushed cheeks.

The maid picked up the crying. Although she sympathised with her captured girl, she was not about to jeopardize her mission by allowing her cargo to escape. After all, it would mean that more information would be leaked to that Youkai she encountered and her stronger-than-average-human friends. The only thing she could do was to coldly console the child if she wished to not silence her.

"Look, I am going to take you to a place where you would not have to worry about the mist nor your friends. Just stay quiet and stop struggling and we will be there sooner."

The blue-clothed maid pulled her apron upwards with her free hand as she fought against the young girl's futile efforts to grab hold of her captor's clothes. Like how a prey defeating its predator is unheard off, the maid simply slapped the blonde girl's hand and ended the pointless struggle; the blonde girl was left to cry off the pain.

Time was passed during the travelling with the cries of a blonde, young girl and her captor’s pain-inflicting efforts to stop her load's crying.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
The descent was fast, and Rumia could not remember anything about the process of the landing. She was too afraid to open her eyes to do so, at the altitude that the maid landed from. A near-vertical drop was too much for the young girl to take with her eyes open. It was only when the momentum of the fall had stopped before the blonde Youkai dared to part her tightly shut eyelids. Her cherry-red eyes took in whatever was to see in front of her.

A gate of black metal stood in the middle of two sides of a long wall of dark red, tiled with too many bricks to count. Seemingly expanding infinitely in either direction, the blonde monster-girl gave up trying to find the edge of the wall and instead focused on what lay beyond the gate. Towering before her was a massive scarlet building of exquisite build, with carvings and stone statues and various other intricate decorations to add to the grandeur of the construct. To add the proverbial icing to the cake, in the middle of the scarlet building was a gigantic structure that expanded vertically, ending off with a roofed top and an oversized clock face built into said structure about a half-a-dozen meters below the top. The young blonde monster-girl could only keep her eyes on the wondrous construct before her, forgetting all about the various finger marks that were left on her arm by her captor, and the tracks of tears that rolled down her face.

Rumia only regained her senses as she felt her legs give way under her, causing her to fall into a sitting position on the neatly paved path before the gate as she was set down onto the ground with not much care from the maid that was carrying her. As she stood up, brushing the dirt off her legs, she overheard a female's voice calling out to the blue-clothed girl.

"Welcome back, Sakuya!"

Looking upwards, Rumia noticed a girl with long, blazing red hair give a cheery greeting to the blue-dressed maid as she approached her. Taking a closer look at the girl that went to greet her captor 'Sakuya', she noticed the girl having two long braided sideburns that ran down to below shoulder level, ending with a black ribbon on each side. Touching the black ribbons was the white, puffy-sleeved blouse that the red-haired wore beneath a green vest secured by two white strings. A green skirt ran from the girl's waist to her ankles, with a split that went all the way up the left side of the dress. To complete the outfit, the red-haired girl wore a beret on her head, with a golden star and a strange character carved onto it in some foreign language. The blonde Youkai's attention was soon brought back to herself as the red-haired girl reached who was apparently called 'Sakuya'.

Pointing a finger towards the young girl in black dress, the girl in green dress brought forward a question to the maid. "Is that little girl you have there a guest called in by Lady Remilia?"

The girl named 'Sakuya' replied with a wave of her hand that meant 'No' and walked past her acquaintance. "Take care of her, Meiling. I cannot bring her into the mansion. Make sure she doesn't run away." With what orders she had in mind given, the silver-haired girl walked towards the scarlet mansion as the metallic gate parted into two of its own accord and allowed her in.

The red-haired girl soon approached the parted gates and pulled it shut before turning around to look at the blonde Youkai that was in tow with her. Taking wide steps towards the young girl, she soon allowed her left knee to touch the ground as her right foot supported her in a half-kneeling position. Lowering herself such that the young girl's cherry-red orbs met her azure eyes, she maintained eye contact as she extended her right hand towards the young girl in the manner of a handshake.

"Well, well. What do we have here?" the girl that Sakuya had called 'Meiling' asked, a smile forming.

"Oh, my, I forgot my manners. I'm Hong Meiling, Gatekeeper of the Scarlet Devil Mansion. Nice to meet ya!"
__________________________________________
Voting Time: (In Rumia’s point of view. These questions will affect the course of action of the team later in the story. Pick any number of options.)
[ ] Introduce yourself
[ ] Ask where this place is
[ ] Ask of what is causing that scarlet mist you are seeing now
[ ] Ask of the girl if she could bring you into the mansion
[ ] Bite the red-haired girl and try to escape
[ ] (Write-in, any number of choices as long as it gets popular enough)

Second Vote: Perspective Switch (Will affect whose team the next chapter is going to be focused on)
[ ] Let’s save Rumia! (Keine, Mokou and Yuuka’s perspective along with Sakuya, shorter update but crucial choice coming up. Choice will drastically change the battle plan and alter whether the two routes (Keine and Marisa) will intersect earlier or later in the story)
[ ] Let’s check on Misty Lake! (Marisa, Reimu, Alice and Minoriko’s perspective.)
With that said. . .
______________________________________
Author’s Notes: Heya, it’s me, Ran-Rii. This story is not dead yet, don’t worry. I have tried altering the way I write for a bit, hopefully it would be better than the last few updates. As usual, comments, opinions and questions are all welcome!
No. 171589
[X] Introduce yourself
[X] Ask where this place is
[X] Ask of what is causing that scarlet mist you are seeing now

[X] Let’s check on Misty Lake! (Marisa, Reimu, Alice and Minoriko’s perspective.)

Story looks pretty good to me. I wonder why so few people are voting.
No. 171597
Wow, the author is surprisingly productive. I stalled at 4 posts for a while but didn't realize how much you had written. Good work.

Ok let's lay this straight out.

Number one.
The story premise isn't ground breaking. Considering this site, it's probably better than X is Gensokyo, but those have the advantage of having the "ooh this interaction/style catches my fancy, time to vote". In the back my mind, when I first see this story, I'm worrying if it's just going to be a portmanteau retelling of the two incidents.

Number two. Technical writing.
You use pronouns extensively. Like insanely intensively. Part of this is neccesary and even good, to avoid confusing between a growing cast, buy this is too much. I think the deeper reason, is that you aren't varying your sentence structure, and aren't conscious of any alternate ways to link dialogue and actions.

Also, too much stating what happens. With a growing cast, it feels like a response and reaction, a turn based play. Like here.

>The pyrokineticist bent down, her vision fixated on the snow-carpeted ground before her before turning to another direction in a semicircular arc. The green-haired woman observed as said pyrokineticist scanned the ground covered in pure white, scratching her head in confusion. Then, the Hourai Immortal turned to face the parasol wielding woman standing before her. Her two eyes stared squarely into the flower Youkai's eyes.

Mokou bent down, her vision fixated on the snow-carpeted ground before her before turning around. She scanned the earth, scratching her head, as a certain flower youkai looked on <change to "Yuuka" for a more familiar address, without the emphasis>. Then, she turned around to face the parasol wielding woman standing behind her. Her two eyes stared squarely into the flower Youkai's eyes.

Just say A is the topic of your sentence, like this: Mokou searched the ground.
Try to keep Mokou as your topic, and not switch too often. Otherwise you get (I believe) "A did B, C looked at D, E turned towards F. and so on." In the previous example, you switch from Mokou to Yuuka and back to Mokou in three sentences.


>With the storm of knives deflected, the maid could only stop as the last of her knives found itself between her fingers. Amazed at the manoeuvres the woman before her hand executed, she asked.
>"Just what are you, and why can't my knives piece through that parasol you are holding onto?"

Could just be
> With the storm of knives deflected, the maid could only stop as the last of her knives found itself between her fingers. Her eyes widened.
>"Just what are you, and why can't my knives piece through that parasol you are holding onto?"

itself should also be themselves.
The base principle is "show, not tell". Don't say she was suprised, show it. Uh, don't feel the need to add description to plain nouns in all cases, especially when you've already described them already (e.g. snow covered ground). "X scanned down at the snow covered ground" sounds like the focus is on the snow covered ground and describing the environment. So don't use it in a sentence like "She slammed into the snow-covered ground.". In this made-up sentence, the focus should be her hitting the ground hard, not the state of the ground, unless that is somehow relevant or you haven't already made it clear that there is snow.

>I am scared. . . I am scared! Mokou, where are you. . .
I am --> I'm. It definitely sounds more natural.
No. 171599
I saw you post in blue before, but try going and posting again, asking for grammar or technical writing advice. I don't know personally how to tackle writing an engaging scene with many characters in it. There are better writers there that can help you with that. The pace of events is fine.
No. 171733
Closing the votes and writing now. The options were:
[X] Introduce yourself
[X] Ask where this place is
[X] Ask of what is causing that scarlet mist you are seeing now

[X] Let’s check on Misty Lake! (Marisa, Reimu, Alice and Minoriko’s perspective.)

Not that I am complaining, but I am seriously wondering why the number of readers/voters are so low. I suppose it is because the OP turned away most readers, since the story only really picks up after the 6th chapter.
No. 171822
>>171733
Make the choices clearer maybe. It kinda confuses me and that is why I do not vote. But I read the updates. And lay off the write ins, those are a big hurdle even for popular writers.
No. 171844
File 137405797821.jpg - (137.85KB , 420x297 , Broom Air.jpg ) [iqdb]
171844
Selected options are:
[X] Introduce yourself
[X] Ask where this place is
[X] Ask of what is causing that scarlet mist you are seeing now

[X] Let’s check on Misty Lake! (Marisa, Reimu, Alice and Minoriko’s perspective.)
_____________________________________

Rumia only blinked at Meiling’s greeting.

She's the gatekeeper of this mansion, and is friends with the girl who treated me badly. Why would she greet me?

Meiling held out her hand, waving it in front of the girl in a bid to get her attention. When that elicited no response from her little guest, she started moving her hand in a faster waving motion. Still no response.

She’s spacing out, alright. With that thought, the red-haired girl attempted to snap her out of her daze with a hard hit to the shoulder.

"H-huh?" was the reply from a staggering Rumia that was still recoiling from the wake-up call by Meiling.

“Good to know that you are still with me.” Meiling extended her hand towards Rumia, who grabbed at it with her own hands to pull herself up. "Now that you're back up, would you mind telling me more about yourself? I've introduced myself already; it’s common courtesy to respond with a self-introduction of your own, you know."

The girl parted her lips, struggling with an “A-ah. . .uhm…” before closing them firmly.

"Hey, go on. Don't just open and close your mouth without saying a word: it makes me feel like I’m watching a mime,” Meiling encouraged.

With a few more seconds of waiting, a reply finally came. "I-I'm Rumia," the young girl managed.

“Go on; Say something about yourself, hmm?”

Meiling watched as the stammering girl’s eyes darted from side to side in between hard blinks. It didn’t make sense to the gate guard as to why the girl looked so nervous, but she didn’t bother to ask anyways.

“Hey, take your time kid. No-one’s going to get you for not replying fast enough.”

“Ah, uhm,” Rumia closed her eyes again in one hard blink before opening it, hoping that inspiration would come to her naturally. Indeed, it did: in the form of the mansion just behind the gate. “What is that place?”

"Well, this is the Scarlet Devil Mansion. Grand, isn't it? It feels just like one of those palaces back where I came from," Meiling stood up and raised her hand, pointing towards the blood-red mansion. She was practically beaming with pride.

“What’s so special about it? It’s just another huge building, isn’t it?” Rumia raised her hand as she asked the question.

"Oh, you haven’t seen anything yet!” spoke Meiling with an enthusiastic tune. “You should really visit here sometime, especially during the full moon. When the moonlight shines onto the mansion, it gets all glowy with red," kneeling down, she pointed her index finger at the two scarlet eyes that the blonde girl had before continuing, "as red as those two eyes you have there.”

"Really?" Rumia’s eyes opened wide for a moment. “That sounds special. Is there anything else about this Mansion?

"Yeah, if you were a guest here that is. There are fairy maids to wait on you and stuff, and the Chief Maid would personally serve you breakfast, lunch and dinner. The lady of this mansion is European, after all. They like to show off their wealth to their guests." The gatekeeper sighed, slumping. "If only I was as lucky as that lady with the fancy parasol – six months ago, she stayed here for a day to have tea with my mistress and was treated like an Empress. Could you believe it? She had multiple fairy maids pouring tea for her, fetching her cup, serving her cake. . . the list goes on."

Receiving multiple "Ooohs" and "Aaaahs" from the captive girl, the gatekeeper smiled. It had been some time since a visitor had come to the mansion, and to have one willing to listen to the stories of a lowly gate guard -- it was a one in a million chance. Wanting to entertain herself and her little guest further, she decided to probe her for more questions. "What would you like to know about?

The reply came in the form of a low-pitched growl.

Silence. An awkward, long silence.

Rumia looked at the red-haired girl as she hugged her stomach, cheeks flushed. The gatekeeper started with a stifled laugh which soon turned into a chuckle before it burst into an uncontrollable guffaw.

“Ahahaha. . .! Forgive me f-for lau-laughing,” placing her hand over her mouth, she tried to suffocate her convulsion, “but it was really, really funny. Haha. . .”
“Please stop laughing at me, Miss Meiling! I’m just hungry!” An angry protest was soon delivered by the young girl.

“O-oh, k-kay,” the redhead managed, trying to be as coherent as possible while restraining her giggling. She reached a hand into her pocket, fishing out a sandwich wrapped in an unknown, clear material. Pulling off the clear wrap, the gate guard broke the sandwich into two and offered a half to the short blonde. "Here, my apology for being insensitive. I haven't eaten yet, so I'm taking half of the sandwich. You can have the other half: this is the standard-issue sandwich that I've been receiving as the workplace meal for being employed here. It's made by the chief maid. Unlike the fairy maids, she can actually cook, so it's marginally more delicious than what you'd think two slices of bread with egg and ham would be."

Chomp, nom, om. In three large bites, the sandwich was wolfed down and ceased to exist in the world. To a hungry girl who hadn't eaten from dusk till afternoon, the sandwich tasted heavenly. The ham was soft and tender and the scrambled eggs were not overcooked nor runny; It was as good as the gate guard had put it. The only thing that prevented Rumia from giving what she ingested a perfect score was the aftertaste of what seemed like rust.

Rust?

Rumia paused at the thought, turning to Meiling who was in mid-bite. Lowering her half-eaten half-sandwich, she lowered her eyes to the girl.

"What? You’re not going to tell me that you want my piece of sandwich too."

The answer was a fervent shake of head. "There's rust in the bread. My tongue feels funny."

"Oh, that taste," the gate keeper raised her sandwich to finish off the last bit before continuing. "Well, the taste has been there for quite a bit now, ever since the Scarlet Mist appeared. Apparently the mist that my Mistress released was used to block out light, but it also leaves a rust-like blood taste in the food it comes into contact with. I got used to it since about five months ago, so it doesn't really affect me much."
It was only now that Rumia noticed the floating red particles in the air.

Scarlet Mist? I think I remember Miss Mokou's friend with that weird hat talking about that.

Stumbling upon another topic to talk about, Rumia asked, "Who caused this mist?"

"Well, I know it's my Lady's doing. However, I really don't know much about this matter. Maybe Lady Patchouli, Sakuya and Lady Remilia would know.

"Patchouli? Remilia? Who are they?" the girl probed deeper.

The gatekeeper stood up, walked off and came back with two metallic contraptions. Opening it up, she settled her young guest onto its seat before continuing.

"Sit tight now, this could be a long story. . ."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Radio silence had been the standard for the past ten minutes that Marisa had been riding on her broom. The sound of the wind wasn't exactly entertaining, and no-one responded to the random questions she threw out. Stealing a glance at the three girls behind her, she noticed killer stares being directed from Reimu and Minoriko towards Alice. The puppeteer returned the favour, sending daggers back with her icy glare. The monochrome magician knew better than to trifle with the girls in this silent but violent warfare and evacuated from the battlefield, looking back towards the front.

I mean, what's up with these girls? It's like they are trying to use their stares to kill each other or something.

Realising that they had reached the Misty Lake, she attempted -- for the umpteenth time -- to defuse the situation by saying something.

"We are now at altitude 50 metres above ground. The weather at our destination is going to be perpetually misty, and the temperature is going to be as low as twenty degrees celsius. Thank you for travelling with Broom Air and it has been a pleasure serving you ladies."

Silence.

Marisa felt as if the surrounding air had condensed into a giant block and crashed onto her shoulders. She felt stupid, embarrassed and afraid as she realised that her puny attempt to act like an idiot with her little skit had only served to make the trio behind her stare at each other more intently, with an even more penetrating gaze fit to bore holes in rocks. There was no away around that.

Reimu was first to touch down, with Minoriko landing soon after. Alice simply loosened her grip on the broom and fell as she manipulated her dolls with quick swipes of her hands to cushion her fall. Marisa recited a chant, and the broom lost its powers of flight instantaneously, resulting in the monochrome witch falling about two meters through the air. Reimu and Minoriko were able to establish eye contact while the puppeteer turned away from the two, facing Marisa.

"So, what do we do now?"

The witch replied with a laid-back voice, "We should just stick together and search this area. I mean," Marisa raised her broom and swept it through the air, as if to prove her point, "it's all mist around here, every dead tree looks the same and the scenery just seems to tile itself over and over again ad infinitum."
"I would just like to point out, in case you haven't noticed, that I cannot work with those two over there. If you insist on going together, I shall take my leave: I have a search party of more than thirty with me anyways. My dolls get along with me far better than I would get along with them." The puppeteer raised her hand majestically, and out of nowhere came a whole legion of the same dolls dressed in a European-styled black-and-white doll dress. The blue threads of magic became visible, each seemingly linking the many dolls her fingers. With another sweep, all the dolls promptly disappeared from sight.
Alice's actions drove the point home for Marisa. "Well, alright. We'll split into two teams, one consisting of Reimu and Minoriko and another consisting of me and you. Would that satisfy you, Miss-I-cannot-work-with-others?"

The puppeteer replied dryly, "Very much so, thank you oh-kind-soul." Changing her tone of voice, she continued, "However, to prevent those two fools from getting lost in this maze of wood and water, let me propose that each of us carry one of my many dolls. Since each is connected by a thread of magic to my fingers, they're able to find their way back to me or lead me to any of you at any time. In times of emergency, these dolls can also be used as messenger dolls or even for firepower support in a pinch, so they are highly versatile for helping out the weak like you people." Muttering a few magical incantations, three dolls appeared. However, these dolls were not dressed in the same black-white scheme the other ones had, but rather in red dresses.

"These are renaissance dolls. I've given them a different dress scheme for easy differentiation. These are specialized in collecting information and have worse combat abilities when compared to my normal dolls. They will follow you around as long as you are appointed as the person to be tracked." Flicking her fingers, it seemed as though the dolls were pushed by an invisible force, with one landing in front of Minoriko, another in front of Reimu and a third in front of Marisa.
"Now that it is settled, I suppose we shall be going our seperate ways. You two search the North of the lake, while I'll search the Southern side with Marisa. We'll meet in the middle of Misty lake once we are done."

The two groups of girls soon moved in opposite directions. While Marisa and Minoriko started looking around for evidence and perhaps the culprit, the counterparts of the witch and myriad god turned around. Keeping each other in range of their vision, Reimu and Alice exchanged steely glares fit to freeze the air between them.

Make one false move, Reimu, and I'll make sure that your corpse will not be whole
Try anything funny on me, witch, and I will make sure that you are sealed for all eternity.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
"Hey, Alice," Marisa lifted her hand to pull down her hat further, blocking out the intense glare of the afternoon sun, "I'm pretty sure I've seen this clearing at least three times now."

"How'd you know if we've been here?"

Marisa bent down to point at the ground, not bothering to speak. A pink ribbon laid there..

"Right, so you left a marker here," Alice forced, keeping her usual smirk. Her conversation partner saw through the facade immediately, however did not tear through the false front that she was putting on.

"I'm sure we're still on the right track though, so there's no need to worry aboutgetting lost."

Marisa lifted a finger, "The fact that you even added the word 'lost' to your dictionary, Alice, completely your credibility."

". . ."

Wordless, the puppeteer simply looked into her friend's eyes.

"You could be less. . . blunt about it," was what Alice was able to come up with after Marisa's remark. "To be honest, I have no idea why we cannot walk out of this area. It doesn't make snse. My dolls are reporting that they cannot 'see' anything, even after I verified the mana feedback from the dolls to be fine. I'm sure that something is behind--"

"Spare me the details, Alice. In short, we are lost, and we have no idea how to get out of here.

Alice's response came quickly, "Well, we still have to option to use flight. There's nothing stopping us from trying to find our way out from above."

"True. Let me do it, then."

Picking up the ribbon and reattaching it to her hat, Marisa then held out the broom. Closing her eyes and concentrating her thoughts on the image of a floating broom, she started to mutter various incantations as the broom started to leave her hands. She heaved herself onto it and snapped her fingers.

"Stay here and wait for my good news."

Alice watched as her companion rode into the air, disappearing by the edge of the sky.

What should I do right now? Maybe I should. . .
_____________________________________________
Voting time, from Alice’s perspective.
[ ] Survey the area. Although you can’t go too far from the clearing, going around making some observations shouldn’t hurt.
[ ] Try to find the problem behind your dolls. Why aren’t they working as they should?
[ ] Stay put and read your Grimoire to pass the time. Reading never hurts.
[ ] (Write-in. However, do not make Alice do absurd things like ‘find the Misty Lake and jump into it’, please.)

With that said. . .
_____________________________________________
Scarlet Mist Incident Resolving Team
Team 2
Marisa Kirisame
Alice Margatroid
Reimu Hakurei
Minoriko Aki

Team 1
Keine Kamishirasawa
Fujiwara no Mokou
Yuuka Kazami
(Rumia)

Chairman
Hieda no Akyuu

______________________________________________
Author's Notes: Perspective switch. Right now, we are with Marisa and co. as they were before the route split with Keine. This time, I had asked a proofreader to help me with the writing, and hopefully this change would help (have no doubt that I learned a lot from his comments). I also tried to add in more dialogue, so let's see if this works out.
No. 171847
[x] Survey the area. Although you can’t go too far from the clearing, going around making some observations shouldn’t hurt.

This probably sounds the best.
No. 171848
[X] Try to find the problem behind your dolls. Why aren’t they working as they should?

Better make sure your main weapon's working properly.
No. 171872
[X] Try to find the problem behind your dolls. Why aren’t they working as they should?
No. 171937
Closing the votes now.
Chosen option is:
[X] Try to find the problem behind your dolls. Why aren’t they working as they should?

Have fun guessing which five characters that the crew could possibly meet in Misty Lake.
No. 172040
File 137441090243.jpg - (72.19KB , 800x514 , Infinite Corridor.jpg ) [iqdb]
172040
Picture somewhat related.
Selected option: [X] Try to find the problem behind your dolls. Why aren’t they working as they should?

. . . Maybe I should try to find out what is going on with my dolls. There is no reason for them to be unable to 'see'.

Alice nodded in agreement with her thoughts. Taking action when one is alone is never wise, and idling around was not an option. "Might as well solve the matter at hand," she thought aloud as she curled a finger inwards instinctively, beckoning one of the many dolls she had. However, instead of her expected doll appearing in front of her, her finger met with an invisible force.

"Hm?"

The puppeteer tried again, lifting her finger against the pull of the unknown force in a futile attempt.

"This doesn't make sense at all. . ."

Deciding on the need of a more drastic measure, Alice muttered a magic incantation. The thread of magic linking the doll to her started to turn from a pale blue to a more opaque colour, solidifying as it did. Removing the string from her finger, the puppeteer grabbed the string and started tugging at it.

An answer came in form of a pull in the opposite direction.

Alice narrowed her eyes as she met with the opposing force. "Very well, I'll beat you in your own game.Wrapping a length of string around her hand, she delivered a hard jerk to the string. A frozen doll flew through the air before landing in the clearing, shattering as it did. Proceeding towards the doll, the blonde girl picked up a fragment of it.

"So, the enemy also has the ability to control the formation of ice," Alice concluded, fingering a piece of broken doll within her hands, "no wonder they couldn't feedback what they saw. The ice that froze over the eyes stopped them from being able to see things properly. Whoever he or she was must have been pulling onto my doll to stop me from finding out abou--"

The girl cut her sentence short. The enemy could be near any time now, and letting them overhear anything would not do. With that in mind, she restricted her thoughts to her mind.

That would definitely narrow down the list of suspects. However, a person who could instantaneously vanish, pose as Reimu and manipulate the formation of ice? I don't think I know anyone who could do that.

With her newfound information, the girl sat down and unbuckled her grimoire. Running her finger on the side of the grimoire, she stopped on a page and opened it. A simple unthawing spell, the girl thought as she found the paragraph she was looking for on the page. Placing both hands onto the grimoire, she started to recite the magic incantation. Almost immediately, a burst of warmth travelled from the grimoire to her hands before travelling along the many strings of magic that linked the dolls to her.

Right, the dolls should be unthawed now. Better retract them before they get frozen by whoever it incapacitated them.

The dolls flew in from all directions, assembling themselves in front of the puppeteer. Performing a headcount, the puppeteer nodded in satisfaction before sweeping her hand before her; the parade of dolls immediately vanished as she did.

Marisa should be back any time now. . .

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"Reimu, it may interest you to know that our search has been very much FRUITLESS."

"Minoriko, it may interest you to know that you are getting on my nerves, and that I have no qualms to exorcise gods if need be."

"A shrine maiden threatening to attack a god? What impudence!" Minoriko shot a glare towards the offending red-white as she spoke, to drive the point home.

The shrine maiden merely stopped, then turned towards the myriad goddess.

"Try me."

"Fine, I get your message. I'll stop complaining," the harvest goddess turned away, making sure that her eyes didn't meet with Reimu's. "I've been meaning to point out that we have been walking down this straight road for ages now, and I highly doubt that the Misty Lake is large enough to house such a long road. Just look: this road stretches to the horizon from in front of us, and the back simply fades into mist. As such, it is fruitless."

The shrine maiden turned around. Indeed, all she could see was the path they were walking on disappear into mist.

"Trust me on this one. We must have been walking in circles all along."

"What do you suppose we do, then? Walk off this path and potentially get lost?" Reimu questioned.

With a shrug, Minoriko answered, "Still marginally better than staying on path and walking in circles."

"If it is so, I suppose we could--" the shrine maiden paused. "Minoriko, why are you giggling?"

Minoriko immediately turned around to prove herself, "No, why would I do so? Are you hearing things?"

"Really, admit it if you did so. I don't like people lying to me."

The same childish giggling resounded through the quiet of winter. Having found the evidence that undid Reimu's accusation, the harvest goddess gave the 'I told you so' look to her; She elicited the red-white's irritated stare.

"I told you, not me. I'm not a ventriloquist, and I was in plain sight of you, so how would you expect me to have done--" Minoriko found her mouth sealed by a hand of the shrine maiden. Immediately protesting with a muffled 'mmmh!", her muffled voice fell on deaf ears as the shrine maiden held her hand even more firmly to her mouth.

"Shut up, Minoriko," Reimu hissed into her partner's ear, "she is right there, behind that tree. Listen!"

"Just look at them go around in circles like that! They must be stupid to not realise that we were behind it!" spoke a childlike voice.

Pushing away Reimu's palm, Minoriko spoke softly to Reimu. "There must be at least two of them. I say we take them now -- that girl that is speaking sounds like a child."

The answer came in the form of a hard knock to the head. The harvest goddess silenced herself, having the point driven home.

It was then a second voice came, albeit that of reproach and generally softer than that of the first. Straining her ears, Reimu tried to pick up the voice.

"Aren't you afraid that they will find us? I mean, they look very strong. I think that I heard them say something about either of them being a goddess and a shrine maiden. We should stop playing around with them, really."

"Nah, we'd be just fine. They look too stupid to find out." replied the confident yet childish voice.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Okay, this doesn't make sense. Where'd that clearing disappeared to?

Marisa squinted her eyes as she bent her body as low as she could, leaning on the body of the broom as she did. Using one hand to hold onto her hat and another to hold onto the broom, the girl flew above Misty Lake.

Darn that mist! I can't even see what's down -- wait, there is something down there. Is that Reimu and Minoriko?

Reciting a magic incantation, the broom started to hover in place as Marisa rolled to the side, causing herself to hang from the broom by a hand. Placing another hand to the side of her mouth, she took a deep breath.

"HEY, REIMU! MINORIKO!"

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Pushing Reimu's hand down from her mouth for the second time, the harvest goddess whispered into the shrine maiden's ear.

"Is it just me, or am I hearing someone call us?"

"Really, stop calling me for unimportant and unrelated things. I had enough of your nonsense." The shrine maiden simply turned around, looking at Minoriko impatiently.

Minoriko simply pointed upwards, which Reimu's eyes reflexively followed. It was then she noticed the faint voice from the miniature black figure in the sky, hanging from what seemed like a thin, black horizontal line.

". . .ey, mu, noriko. . ."

Isn't that Marisa? Why is she here?
___________________________________

Voting time. I apologize for making you guys read through a 1k word update, for I have been stuck for ideas ever since the last update, which is about five days ago. Voting from no one’s perspective in particular. The options will decide who you meet first and who you meet later. I really do not want to railroad you guys, so story suggestions and write-ins are welcome.

[ ] Let’s go and meet up with Marisa in the air. We can tell her about what we have found. (Leads to 'To Stop Winter')

[ ] We can’t let the troublemakers get away with it, can we? Furthermore, they could have been the ones behind the Scarlet Mist Incident! (Leads to 'Fairy Mischief')

[ ] Write in.

[ ] Opt for a recap on the mission (optional add-on choice)

I will also open another vote as to whether you guys want me to switch from third-person perspective to first-person or second-person perspectives.

[ ] Stay as it is.

[ ] First-person

[ ] Second-person

Once again, I apologize for my lack of quality for this update. Rest assured that I have a plan for something interesting for the next update.

With that said. . .
__________________________________________

Scarlet Mist Incident Resolving Team
Team 2
Reimu Hakurei
Minoriko Aki
Marisa Kirisame
Alice Margatroid

Team 1
Keine Kamishirasawa
Fujiwara no Mokou
Yuuka Kazami
(Rumia)

Chairperson
Akyuu no Hieda
No. 172052
[X]No, fairies are too stupid to cause such big incident. We'll just flew up to meet Marisa.
-[X]But not before we blast one BIG shot at those troublemakers to show who's the boss.
-[X]And don't lower your guard. That doppler is still around. Maybe you should Spy-check that Marisa, too.
No. 172066
Heya, closing the votes for this one. Not that I am ignoring the others, but I really think that no-one will be voting for now.

Look forward to 'To End Winter'.
No. 172123
I started reading this just now, and I must say I like the overall tone of the story.
I'll definitely be following it from now on.
No. 172159
File 137458807747.jpg - (790.72KB , 1240x865 , Team AyaHatate.jpg ) [iqdb]
172159
This chapter shall prove that I have not forgotten about Aya and Hatate.
Selected Options:
[X]No, fairies are too stupid to cause such big incident. We'll just flew up to meet Marisa.
-[X]But not before we blast one BIG shot at those troublemakers to show who's the boss.
-[X]And don't lower your guard. That Doppler is still around. Maybe you should Spy-check that Marisa, too.
_________________________________________

Whatever it is, if Marisa is here than we should go meet up with her. Besides, from the looks of this, the two behind the tree are probably fairies. Fairies aren't powerful enough to start an incident of this calibre.

Turning around, she met with Minoriko. The harvest goddess stopped her hastily, pointing towards the two in hiding. "Reimu, you are not going to tell me that you are going to let those two off after they had made us their fools for the past few hours."

"Might as well," the shrine maiden swiped her hand behind her, leaving four trails of red shooting from her hand at light speed. "They should at least have some punishment for what they have done."

The sound of grinding wood echoed as the dead tree sheltering the two offenders found amulets dug deep into its trunk, caught firmly within the thick wood. A fairy dressed in blue peeked out from behind the tree, noticing the amulets that the antagonising girl threw at her, and laughed. "A shrine maiden who can't even hit her mark? What sort of shrine maiden is this?"

Reimu merely chuckled in return as she snapped her fingers.

"Amulet: Spread."

Almost immediately, the tree exploded. Shots of blue exploded from the tree, drawing blood from the two girls formerly behind it. Yelps of pain ensued, in which the shrine maiden revealed a contented smile. Turning around, she looked at the duo, casting a wistful look upon them.

"Here's the simple answer: I am a shrine maiden who gets things done."

Looking back at her companion -- who found herself hiding behind an oversized potato -- she questioned, "Minoriko, why in the world are you hiding behind that?" The answer came in the form of the harvest goddess' hand plucking one of the blue amulets that embedded itself into said huge potato.

"Reimu Hakurei, remind me to tell you to warn me before you do crazy things. Those amulets were NOT FIRED UNDER SPELLCARD RULES and could probably kill me, or at least cause me a great deal of pain." The oversized potato then degenerated into orange energy, forming into a card between the harvest goddess' fingers before disappearing. "Well, good thing I had declared「Sweet Potato Room」fast enough, or I'd end up a pincushion," she then turned towards the remains of the tree, sighing. "At least the two fairies seem to be gone now. They probably got away, though."

"Never mind them, let's just meet up with Marisa. She seems to be hanging on for us for quite the while," Reimu jumped off the ground, floating a few inches in the air as she spoke, "we should really get going. At this rate, she's probably going to either fall from the broom, lose her voice while shouting at us, or both."
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
"Reimu, do you even have any idea how long I've been hanging from that broom?" Marisa practically shouted at Reimu and Minoriko, pointing towards her torn dress as she did. "Can't you guys come up here any faster? I am sure there was no need to go and plant a Spread Amulet in a tree, blow it up, almost cut me with the fragments -- you can see my black jacket torn up already, can't you -- as a welcome, ya'know? I ain't no newcomer to Gensokyo; there is no need for that!"

"Marisa, we were just teaching some fairies a lesson. Apparently they have been pulling tricks on us, making the road seem as if it extended indefinitely forwards," Minoriko raised her hands, put them together, then separated them, seemingly showing the length of the road. "We have been walking on that same path since we started the search, and we just thought that it would be proper to exact some vengeance on the troublemakers--"

"Let's do away with the earlier incident and move on to the reason why I'm here", the harvest goddess came to an abrupt stop as the monochrome witch raised a hand from a broom, signalling 'Enough', "I am here because Alice is missing."

The red-white, previously unconcerned with what her monochrome friend was saying, immediately turned around.

"Say what?"

"I said, Alice is missing. Can't find her anywhere, the mist is too thick up here to even see anything below," Marisa pointed towards the lake below as she gave her answer, "I only found you guys as the mist cleared."

The shrine maiden looked down, and indeed the Misty Lake was covered with a thick layer of mist. The Scarlet Mist only served to make visibility even worse.
"Well, that can't be helped, can it? I suppose that we will just have to go and search for--"

As the shrine maiden spoke, a spark of suspicion caused her to stop short of completing what she wanted to say.

Isn't this too much of a coincidence for Marisa to have found us in this mist? I doubt she would have found us just as the mist cleared. What are the chances of the mist suddenly clearing as Marisa flew by? If she is trying to put me out of commission, this would be her chance! As such, whoever that person is in front of me must be her!

"Hey, Reimu, weren't you saying something?" The monochrome witch raised her hand, signalling for her friend to continue speaking.

The shrine maiden took a step towards her friend before replying.

"Well, yes, I was going to say that. . .," her voice trailed off as she took another step forward, then delivered a hook at the witch. "YOU ARE A DAMN FAKE!"

"Wha-- what the heck are you doing, Reimu?" Ducking down, the red-white's fist grazed her. However, the shrine maiden was not about to give her target a break. Clenching her fist, another blow was delivered to Marisa, causing her to reel through the air in pain.

The girl clutched her abused abdomen, holding up her other hand as a means of protection. "Why are you even hitting me? I'm Marisa Kirisame! How am I a fake?"

"Prove yourself!" the girl seethed at the witch. "Haven't you done enough damage? Have you no shame to pose as my friend?"

Prove myself? Wait, how did she even get the idea that I am a fake? Was it that incident from yesterday night? I'd better get this straight with her, then.

"Reimu, listen! I am no fake, I am Marisa! The same magician you befriended years ago from that incident years ago! Remember the first time we fought?" the magician waited for a reaction from her friend -- which came in a response of a 'Huh' -- before continuing. "If you need more proof, I also know that you have a box of expired biscuits in one of the cupboards in the Hakurei Shrine. I know it because I gave you those biscuits last year!"

The harvest goddess walked forward to Reimu's side before offering her opinion, "From how fiercely she's defending her identity, I highly doubt she is a doppelganger. I doubt whoever that Youkai is would care to explain so much and fight so hard to prove herself."

The shrine maiden clenched her fists, then unclenched it before looking down; she avoided meeting Marisa's gaze directly. "Sorry I mistook you for a fake," the girl took a deep breath -- apologizing was never easy -- before continuing, "but she has gone too far that time for me to not suspect everyone I meet. I suppose, at this rate, I'd even suspect Minoriko sooner or later if she leaves my sight even once."

The witch merely gave a smirk; the signature smirk of confidence she always had.

"Heya, at least we have gotten it straight for now. No need to be so down, really. Though, I am sure that this is going to hurt for awhile." Although she continued to wear the bright smile on her face, it seemed forced, with her hand still clutching tightly onto her stomach. "You really have some sort of monstrous strength to be able to hit me that hard." Taking a moment to breathe deeply, trying to ease the pain from the hit, Marisa continued, "Now, where was I?"

Minoriko quickly answered, "Something about you losing Alice. I suppose the only thing that we can do now is to stick together and search for her; we have already learnt enough from what happens when we split up."

"Yeah," Reimu added, "it would be wise to go and comb the area for her as a three-man group. That way, we wouldn't get lost easily, and we can reunite the team earlier."

"Alright then, let's start from here and search the area all the way till we are there. We'll fly lower, so that we can spot her easily. She's supposed to be in a clearing -- at least before I left -- so keep your eyes peeled for that place."

With that said, the monochrome witch took off, leaving the shrine maiden and harvest goddess trailing after her, with all of them in search of Alice.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
"It's been quite a while now," Alice thought aloud as she flipped another page of her grimoire, with nothing better to do. Since I am on my own now, I can't go and hunt down the enemy. However, the enemy doesn't seem to be moving, either. Something's off about this, I'm sure.

Rubbing her hands to fight off the chill, she continued to read her grimoire. However, even her appearance was part of her plan.

I have to make sure I do not look as if I'm on guard, or the enemy would most likely see through my plan. I have to make sure I lure him or her into my trap. . . if Marisa doesn't find me by the time I meet her, of course.

With that thought, the puppeteer ran her hand down her exposed arms as she tried to warm herself. Silently cursing herself for not having worn a dress with longer sleeves, she continued to try and read her book.

Wait, what? Cold?

Alice shot up, closing her book before scanning the area.

This doesn't make sense. It was not this cold earlier, at least not as cold as this.

Looking around again, her quick search revealed nothing that could have caused the sudden drop in temperature.

Maybe it was just me. Probably a result of not having moved around for so long. What I need is just to warm my body up a bit. I think I'll just pace around the area or something.

Settling on a reason, the puppeteer walked round the perimeter of the clearing, hoping for her body to warm up now that she started to move. However, she only found the cold biting even more harshly at her skin.

I wonder if someone had messed with the temperature-control system around here. It's getting way too cold for comfort, unnaturally cold at that.

Alice walked under a dead tree, sat down, then huddled herself. The cold was too much to bear, even for a Youkai magician. Keeping her legs close to herself, she hugged her books near her chest.

Oddly enough, it is getting colder even when there is no wind. Something must be wrong, somewhere.

As she hugged herself even tighter, she felt her senses become numb as the cold continued to assault her. Squeezing shut her eyes, she made a futile attempt to shut out the cold from her senses. However, her hearing was still sharp -- she could not allow the enemy to get the initiative strike.

Wait, what is that faint crunching sound?

Alice attempted to turn herself, facing the direction where the sound came from. The faint sound only started to get clearer as time passed.

Footsteps, definitely footsteps. The sound of the feet crushing the snow.

Forcing her now-numbed-by-cold legs to move, she heaved herself up, making sure her frame was hidden behind the dead tree trunk. She only allowed as much of herself to be revealed for peering at the source of the sound.

A blue-and-white figure, huh. Whatever he or she is wearing, though, is a really smart choice of wear. It camouflages her in the snow almost completely.

Bringing up her almost-frozen hand, she waved it in front of her, signalling for her dolls to lie in ambush. Almost immediately, silver-white strings covered the area before her. Contented with the layout, she withdrew the exposed area of her body back behind the tree, making sure she couldn't be spotted.

Come what may, I am ready.

However, as time passed, the cold only became worse. The chilling air only became even colder, with pain attacking her system. Although so, she could not possibly run from the person closing in on her, nor could she allow the possible threat to come unopposed -- staying became the only option.

As soon as the corner of a blue dress emerged from the side, the puppeteer forced herself alert.

Here's my chance!

"Got'cha!"

Raising a hand, Alice pulled on the puppets' strings. However, she only found herself face-to-face with her target.

Lavender hair. Lavender eyes. Blue dress.

Alice's brain quickly registered a mental portrait of the woman before here. The woman before her only stared down at her coldly, emotionless from the earlier attack. Raising her hand, she brought a bundle of thin silver before the still-motionless puppeteer.

"You tried to attack me, didn't you?" the voice was as emotionless as winter was cold. "You know, gunpowder doesn't really work that well in the cold. You would have done better against me if you hadn't announced your attack. I wouldn't be able to cool off the heat that would ignite the gunpowder if you didn't do that."

What in the name of. . . I've been seen through!

The woman in blue only leaned nearer to Alice.

"I didn't want to attack you at all, really. Even if I found you, I would most likely leave you alone. However, I have reconsidered my course of actions after you attempted to strike me," the blue-clad girl dropped the puppet strings from her hand, manifesting a card between her fingers. "Prepare yourself."

The cold presence of the woman before her ate at her flesh. Before her, it was as good as feeling the concentrated essence of winter -- no, being within the essence of winter itself. Steeling herself, she questioned, "It seems that you have control over the cold. You must have caused this long winter, have you not?"

"The only way to find out," the woman brandished the snowflake-decorated spell card within her hands, holding it towards her opponent, "is to duel me."

"Do you seriously think that you can exact any form of revenge in a spell card duel? I mean, it is non-lethal," Alice remarked, passing a sarcastic reminder to her opponent.

Her enemy merely laughed.

"Well, you see, the loser has to agree to any condition the victor may have, no? As such," the lady clad in blue cast a gaze towards her opponent, a look of vigour burning within her cold eyes, "I will make you agree to the condition that I freeze you to death if I win."

"You do know that it is against the rules to kill the opponent, even as the victor's request, yes?" the puppeteer questioned.

"Not if the opponent is a Youkai herself," the opposing girl shot back. A pentagram formed below her feet, the faint image tracing itself into a bold, thick line of blue.

The puppeteer merely laughed as a response, before drawing her pentagram and outlining it in blue as well. "A mere Youkai of Winter like you isn't going to beat a magician of my calibre. I hope you are prepared for a crushing defeat." Creating a spell card between her fingers, she started the declaration.

"Spell Card, set! Life, stocked!"

"Spell Card set, life stocked. We'll play by sudden-death, so one hit and you're gone," the Lady of Winter replied. "Don't worry, though, I'll make sure you have a nice, eternal rest."

"What makes you so sure?"

"From the fact that you are all fatigued from fighting off the cold."

Right then, the lightning of realisation struck the puppeteer. She has the advantage against me! Why didn't I realise that?

However, the revelation had come to her too late.

"Duel!"

With the declaration from both parties, the battle had begun.

I'll have to make sure that I cover for my mobility. Holding that thought, Alice swiped a hand to the left, revealing three spear-wielding dolls. Seemingly appearing from nowhere, the team of dolls plunged their spears into the Youkai of Winter, only to be grabbed hold of and frozen in place.

Clenching her fist, the frozen dolls broke into pieces. Raising her hand towards the blonde girl before her, she taunted.

"You aren't going to hit me with that speed, not when you are so slow."

"You will come to realise that speed isn't everything."

With another swipe of her hand, three sword-wielding dolls spun at the lavender-haired woman’s legs. The Youkai simply jumped over them, before extending her open palm at her opponent. Sidestepping to the right, the puppeteer grazed the icy winds blasted at her as she returned fire at the offending woman, landing a dozen explosive dolls around the her opponent. Instantaneously, the dolls were frozen on the verge of exploding by a simple fling of hand.

"Do I have to tell you twice that these dolls will not work?"

Alice merely unbuckled her grimoire as her enemy spoke, flipping to a page.

"Fulgor Maximus."

Holding up her free hand, a focused stream of flame shot towards a frozen doll, causing it to detonate. Multiple explosions destroyed the very land her enemy stood on, with the dangerous light show cumulating in a huge cloud of snow.

Alice only chuckled as she admired her handiwork.

"I meant to warn you about the incoming attack, but you did teach me that a magician shouldn't forewarn her audience of her next trick, didn't you?"

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
"HEY, REIMU, MARISA!"

The loud call from Minoriko elicited a "Huh?" and "What?" from the shrine maiden and monochrome magician respectively, causing them to turn towards the harvest goddess in the process.

The harvest goddess pointed towards the ground below as she spoke, "Look, down there. There's this huge cloud of snow, and I saw bright flashes of light. Could it be Alice?"

"Not just an explosion," Marisa pointed out, viewing the multiple explosions that happened below. "There's even a spell circle, not just any spell circle too. It's the same frosted spell circle that Alice uses. In other words, she's may very well be in danger."

Minoriko waved her hands exasperatedly at her two companions as she spoke, "Then, what are we waiting for? We should be there right now, so get moving!"

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
"Is it just me, or is the air getting colder the more we descend?"

The trio descended from above, right into the battlefield where the puppeteer fought her opponent. Scorch marks enveloped the ground, evident that potent explosives have been used. As soon as Marisa landed, she ran towards Alice.

"What happened?"

The puppeteer buckled her grimoire as she replied.

"It's over, for now. I think I've got her."

"Who's her?" the harvest goddess questioned. "[/i]Her[/i], as in the same doppelganger that you met at the shrine last night?"

Alice shook her head, "No, I don't mean her. I meant this Youkai I was fighting. She should be lying over there, I just beat her--"

"Declaration! Cold Sign 「Cold Snap」!"

The wave of energy resulting from the spell declaration blew Alice head-first to a dead tree, resulting in a sickening "CRACK". Marisa anchored herself to the ground with her broom, while Reimu and Minoriko braced themselves, having seen it coming.

Raising her hand, the Youkai summoned a huge gust of icy wind. Said gale proceeded to blow everyone off their feet.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
As Reimu got up from her earlier fall, she noticed Marisa walking towards a pile of snow. In curiosity, she approached her friend, firing a question.

"Marisa, what are you doing?"

The monochrome magician turned towards her friend as she replied, "The gale from just now was too strong. The spell that the Youkai used must have buried the others under the snow. We were lucky to be on the surface, somehow. I think Alice should be around here, so I'll take care of this area. You take care of Minoriko; she should be buried somewhere around there."

Reimu proceeded as told, digging at the snow with her bare hands. After some snow have been shifted, the hole in the white material revealed a single hand.

"Minoriko!"

Grabbing onto the hand, the shrine maiden pulled the girl attached to the hand out of the snow. However, it was not the orange-clad girl that she was looking for.

"Who are you?"

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Alice and Minoriko could only sit down in fatigue from the earlier experience of being buried under the snow, and Marisa collapsed in fatigue from digging the two girls out. Fortunately, the two victims were a Youkai and Goddess respectively, so there was cause for concern of their well-being, even after being buried almost six-feet under the snow.

However, Reimu found herself tending to the girl that she dug out. The girl wore pigtails, with purple ribbons secured to the brown hair on either pigtail.

Well, I can't tell if this girl is a human or Youkai. Maybe she's an outsider, considering that weird yellow box-like thing she has in her hand.

Tapping the unconscious girl on her shoulder, the shrine maiden called out to her ward.

"Hey, miss, how much longer are you planning on sleeping?"

The girl blinked hard, eyelids fluttering a few times before they shot open wide.

Reimu found herself picking herself off the ground soon after, having fell down in reaction, "Do you have to scare me like that? I plucked you out from the frigid grave that you were in, and you give me the shock of my life. What a nice display of gratitude!"

The shock that Reimu was thrown into was soon replaced with a bright flash of light and temporary blindness. The shrine maiden looked up towards the source of the flash, fighting off the white spots that remained in her vision still, and squinted her eyes, slowly having her vision fade into focus. She could only make out a white-and-black figure fanning herself with something orange, perched atop a tree.

"My, my, Hatate Himekaidou. At the rate you are going, you are never going to catch up with me. As much as I hate to admit it, you are still my teammate assigned by the Tenma. I guess I'll have to rescue you, no?"

The white-and-black figure swooped down the tree, grabbing hold of the semi-conscious girl named 'Hatate' below her perch as she continued speaking.

"You'll owe me a big one, having me save you from a stray attack by that Youkai of Winter. However, I shall exact toll from you in the form of a write-up on your astonishing failure. I suppose the Tenma -- and all the other Tengu -- would be amused to find out of your misconduct."

Having her sight cleared of those white spots created by the flash of light, Reimu witnessed the girl in white shirt and black miniskirt lift Hatate into the air. However, it was the fact that the stranger from above had two black wings that surprised the shrine maiden. Immediately, she fired questions.

"What do you mean 'Tenma' and 'Tengu'? What are you two?"

The girl of black wings simply laughed in response, before replying proper.

"Some things are for me to know and for you to find ou--"

However, the reply was cut short. All of a sudden, the girl named 'Hatate' started to struggle, causing the winged girl to lose her grip on her. Flying backwards to make sure that she was out of the black-winged's grasp, she started to speak.

"Aya Shameimaru, you despicable dog! Just because you envy the fact that I am viewed more importantly than you by the Tenma when I was chosen to tail this group doesn't mean that you could sabotage me to gain favour from the superiors!"

Reimu watched from below as Hatate seethed at Aya.

Internal strife, and something about tailing my group. This might be amusing.

The girl named Aya simply stowed her fan by a holder to the back of the black miniskirt as she held up a black box with silver outlines around it, as if she were brandishing it towards her opponent. Hatate, similarly, held up her yellow oblong object, pointing it towards the winged girl.

"If you truly think that you are the superior reporter, then duel me in a spell card duel while we photograph our target over there! If you have more photos than I by the end of five minutes, or if you shoot me down before that, you win. Vice versa," Hatate challenged, pointing her finger towards the shrine maiden.

Wait, what. Why am I being used as a 'target'? And what is this 'photograph' they are talking about?!
___________________________________
Voting time. This time, we are voting from Reimu’s perspective.

[ ] Let’s stay and watch what happens between those two. Might be amusing.

[ ] Run while you can. Who knows what they are trying to do with that ‘photographing’ thing they are talking about and using you as a target.

[ ] Let’s move along now. Leave the two to go sort their bad blood out, we have an incident to resolve here.

[ ] (Write-in, but as per usual, don't try ridiculous stuff, and I will try to incorporate it in. If I can't, I'll write so during vote closing, okay?)

With that said. . .
____________________________________
Scarlet Mist Incident Resolving Team

Team 2
Reimu Hakurei
Marisa Kirisame
Alice Margatroid
Minoriko Aki

Team 1
Keine Kamishirasawa
Fujiwara no Mokou
Yuuka Kazami
(Rumia)

Chairperson
Akyuu no Hieda
No. 172168
[X] Let’s stay and watch what happens between those two. Might be amusing.
-[X] "Using me as a target, huh... we'll see about that..."
-[X] Do your best to avoid having your picture taken.

The rest of the group probably needs a moment to recover anyway.
I wanted to make a write-in with Reimu counter-challenging them both for information, but I guess that's a bit improbable.
No. 172179
[X] Let’s stay and watch what happens between those two. Might be amusing.
-[X] "Using me as a target, huh... we'll see about that..."
-[X] If they are trying to "graph" you, use large obstacles (like orbs) and lots of light to counter. You already know they can outrun you easily, so act wisely.
No. 172215
[X] Let’s stay and watch what happens between those two. Might be amusing.
-[X] "Using me as a target, huh... we'll see about that..."
-[X] Do your best to avoid having your picture taken.

>>172168
Reimu could join their duel, and if she manages to be the last one standing (with both of them knocked out of the duel before the 5 minutes are up), they have to answer some questions.
No. 172245
Closing the votes. Option to be written:
[X] Let’s stay and watch what happens between those two. Might be amusing.
-[X] "Using me as a target, huh... we'll see about that..."
-[X] Do your best to avoid having your picture taken.

I'll incorporate the part about using stuff to block and Reimu counter-challenging the tengu. Expect the next update within 3 days.
No. 172441
File 13751835816.jpg - (1.45MB , 1920x1200 , Reimu vs Aya.jpg ) [iqdb]
172441
Selected Options:
[X] Let’s stay and watch what happens between those two. Might be amusing.
-[X] "Using me as a target, huh... we'll see about that..."
-[X] Do your best to avoid having your picture taken.

Whatever it is, I'll stay and listen for now. That girl with the black wings. . . Aya Shameimaru, was it? She said something about tailing me and being sent by this 'Tenma' person, so she must have some information I do not know.

Reimu paused at that thought. Information?

Looking up the two girls in the air, an idea flashed before her.

That's it! They did say something about using me as a target in their spell card duel, after all! Although that 'Aya' girl refuses to tell me what they are, who exactly they serve and what they are doing tailing us, I can challenge them to a spell card duel and beat them for the information they have! Observing that one of the girls started to speak, she stopped her train of thoughts. I'd better listen -- the more information I have the better it is for me.

"So, Shameimaru, I suppose you would accept my challenge," the Hatate questioned, before taunting her opponent. "Of course, you could always hand me your camera right now and allow me to delete the images. That way, no harm will be done to you."

Receiving no immediate reply from her opponent, Hatate walked up front, grabbing the black device the opposing girl had. The moment her hand came into contact with the device, her hand was slapped away by Aya.

"Himekaidou, nobody is going to touch this camera of mine."

"Say what?"

"What's with the incredulous look, Himekaidou?" Slapping her camera on her outstretched palm, Aya continued. "You are kidding me, aren't you, Himekaidou? Five minutes?" the black-winged girl sniggered, raising her hand before she lowered two fingers. "Three minutes. In three minutes I will ground you -- face first into the ground, of course -- and your attitude. I would never give up from such a good chance to humiliate you. I'll beat you down, alright."

"Tch," Hatate held up the yellow contraption in her hand before turning her attention back towards her opponent. "So, that is all you have to say, huh. I expected more of you, considering that you pride yourself on your speed."

"I only chose three minutes because you would need the handicap," the girl shot back. "After all, I wouldn't want to tarnish your image too badly, would I?"

"I'll be sure to break your pride real good." Hatate brought up the object that was in her hand to eye level, and in a matter of seconds, a purple pentagram expanded from below her feet. "Spell card, set! 1 Life in stock!"

Similarly, a faint green pattern appeared below Aya's feet as a thick, bright green wave traced the pentagram. Holding up her camera, she replied, "I'll make sure to take lots of pictures of your fall from grace when I defeat you. Spell card, set. 1 Life stocked."

Reimu's eyes opened wide at the exchange. Wait, what? So, they have things that can take 'photographs' called 'cameras'? Furthermore, how are they even setting spell cards when they don't even have spell cards in their hands in the first place? Shaking her head, she forced her thoughts to not digress from the matter at hand. If they are about to start, then I should join in while I still can.

"Hey, you two up there!" Noting the lack of response, she repeated herself, clapping her hands to draw attention. "You two up there, yes!"

"Whatever'd you call us for?" the girl in white and black replied.

Good, they are looking at me now. With that thought, Reimu continued. "So, you said that you were using me as a target, no?"

Both of the opposing girls nodded.

"Well then, since I am a stakeholder in this duel as well, I would like to propose a modification to this duel."

Delivering an incredulous look towards the shrine maiden, the black-winged girl questioned, "What makes you think that you are in a position to do that?"

Sighing in annoyance, Reimu replied. "For starters, you can't just grab anyone off the road, use her as your target for this 'photography' thing and expect the person to not mind. I have no idea what this 'photographing' is, and whether it is dangerous. I would also like you to explain what that 'camera' you are holding onto is," Reimu stopped mid-sentence, noting the black-winged girl in front of her start to chuckle. In both curiosity and anger, she questioned, "What are you laughing at?"

Aya only carried on laughing, "You think that I care about what you think? What do you think you are to me? Stop viewing yourself as such an important person. Why would I care about what you think when you can't do anything to stop me from doing as I please?"

Silence.

She knew that she had the shrine maiden at a loss for words. Knowing so, she purposely reiterated, drumming in the fact into the red-white's head, "Look: I am not going to do as you say just because you think that I should do as you say s--"

"Shut up, Shameimaru."

"Say what?" Aya turned around, finding her facing the Hatate. "Are you telling me to shut up? Have you forgotten your place in the Tengu hierarchy?"

Chuckling a little, Hatate answered, "You know, I am trying so hard to surpass my laughter. What a hypocrite, you. What happened to your 'I am not going to do as you say just because you think that I should do as you say so'? You really expect me to listen to you, huh. “ Shouting now, she continued, "Hypocrites like you should shut up and listen!"

However, the girl in white-and-black only snorted as she delivered her reply.

"I see no reason why I have to listen to a junior Tengu."

"What's stopping you from listening to me? Besides, a simple proposal by that shrine maiden is not going to kill you, no?" Hatate shot back, before adopting a more provocative tone. "Of course, it could also be that you have absolutely no confidence in your abilities and can only play by what favours you." Making sure that the opposing girl fell silent, she raised her hand towards the shrine maiden, "Go on, I would like to hear of this proposal of yours."

That'll teach you to shut up, prideful Tengu.

Reimu directed a glare at a defeated Aya, herself gloating over the opposing girl's crushed ego. Clearing her throat, she spoke, "Alright, back to where I was. I was going to propose a modification to the duel by means of having me participating in this duel."

Aya shot back almost immediately, "I see no reason as to why we would allow you to participate in this duel. Furthermore, this duel is purely a duel to settle personal matters between me and Miss Himekaidou. I find no need to allow you to partake in this."

"If I am not allowed to partake in this, who would be your target? Am I not a player in this duel if I am used as a target?" the shrine maiden snapped back at the black-winged girl who recoiled, then snorted in discontent. Noting that the antagonising girl had been subdued, Reimu continued, "Anyways, I am participating in this duel for the 'information' that I heard you two have."

"For information?"

Reimu nodded. "For information. I overheard you two saying something about tailing us, after all. So, if I win this duel, I expect all that information to be given to me."

"You do know that you are at severe disadvantage, don't you?" Hatate questioned with a puzzled look on her face. "It is a two-versus-one situation after all.

"Well, two-versus-one it is," Reimu replied. Reaching for her talismans, she brandished two within her fingers. A red pentagram expanded beneath her feet, rotating slowly as a wave of bright red energy coursed through it. "Spell Card set, One Life stocked. The last one left standing will win."

Aya reacted to Reimu's actions instantaneously. "I still see no reason as to why I would allow you to join in this duel. As I said, this is between me and Miss Himekaidou--"

"We have nothing to lose, Shameimaru," Hatate cut in, stopping Aya short.

"We don't have anything to gain, either, do we?" Aya looked at her counterpart, who found herself only able to nod in response. Indeed, there was nothing to gain. "As such, deal's off."

Reimu raised her hand as she spoke, "Hold it. I will not be so cheap as to make this a one-sided deal." Tapping her foot, she waited for a few seconds before she continued. "Tell you what, I'll allow you two in on all the information that I have and allow you to tail us as well if I lose. Unopposed, of course. After all, this is your best chance to get my agreement." Reimu turned around, pointing towards the three girls formerly behind her. "I'm sure that you wouldn't want to deal with my possibly less. . . for lack of better word, genteel friends."

Reimu watched the two girls as they hesitated. Offering them a two-on-one situation against a two-on-four situation would most likely get them to agree.

It was then Aya gave the reply that broke the silence.

"To be honest, there is still nothing that makes your proposal any more attractive," the girl made a deliberate pause before continuing, "but I will accept it. After all, your chances of winning are next to nil. Besides, beating both the Hakurei Shrine Maiden and the Tengu who runs the Kakashi spirit news -- but more of the former -- will show my abilities to the Tenma." Raising her camera before her, she asked, "So, shall we get this duel started?"

The three parties exchanged glances for one last time before thrusting themselves forward, towards their respective enemies.

"Duel!"

Multiple flashes of light were exchanged between the two reporters, the incessant clicking of their cameras easily heard in the silence of winter. Although they were focused on 'exchanging fire' between each other, they kept on moving towards Reimu as they waltzed through the air, dodging each attempt to shoot down their opponent with expertise.

So, that's how those cameras work! Anything caught in that flash will be considered hit! Propelling herself through the air towards the two Tengu, she found them preoccupied with shooting each other down.

"Himekaidou! Is that all you've got?" the winged girl taunted her counterpart Tengu, who simply replied with a click of the button on the device she was holding. Applying a burst of speed, Aya kicked off what was seemingly a wall of air, performing a back flip behind her opponent and dodging the telegraphed attack. "You aren’t going to hit me, considering how half-baked your skills are!"

"Snapshot 「Fast Shot」!"

A red reticle appeared on Hatate's back as Aya turned around mid-motion through her back flip as Aya held on finger on the trigger, another turning the shutter speed dial at high speed. Locking the dial, she slammed her finger on the trigger.

The resulting fraction of a second lasted an eternity for the Tengu being targeted, frantically rushing towards the left. Aya simply tilted the camera in response to the attempt to run.

Go on, run, Hatate, I'll see if you can deal with my shutter speed--

"What the heck!"

Aya dropped that thought, physically making a sharp drop to the ground as she did. A barrage of needles tracked her as she swept the ground while in flight, striking the ground behind her. Licking her lips, she turned her body around to face the needles. Rapid flashes were fired from the camera, causing the needles aiming for her to dissipate into red energy as they came into contact with the flash. With the incoming threat cleared, she skidded to a halt as she landed on the ground.

"That was easy."

Aya immediately regretted her actions.
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Hatate turned around as the crisp click of Aya's camera sounded -- however, Aya was not there. Looking down, her eyes tracked her opponent, who had ducked down and flew along the ground, shooting down numerous projectiles before stopping on the ground. A figure in red-and-white followed in hot pursuit, hands moving in a throwing motion as the ground around Aya exploded into clouds of snow. Stalling her flight, she took a nosedive towards the ground as she followed the shrine maiden from behind.

"This is the perfect chance to take out all of them!"
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Thank goodness that my reactions are as sharp as ever. Those amulets the Hakurei girl shot actually exploded into spread shots. Just photographing all of her shots took up my whole roll of film.

Holding onto her camera, she waited for the clouds to clear. There's no way to know if there will that girl -- no, both of them -- are waiting outside for an ambush attack. I have already fell for one when I got too engrossed with fighting Hatate. Reaching for a button on her camera, she tilted the camera a little, causing the roll of film to drop into her hands. Placing the expended film into a pocket by the side of her skirt, she fetched another roll from said pocket, placing it into the camera.

"I'll ready this spell card and get that shrine maiden good, alright."
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Hatate held her distance, staying well away from the shrine maiden before her. She knew that she couldn't take her on in a direct duel from the front -- the fact that it was a three way duel helped in taking away attention from her. Landing softly, she held up her phone slowly, making sure the target was within the reticle on screen.

I'll take her out from afar with this spell card!

"Far-Sightedness 「Tengu Psychography」!"

A huge white reticle appeared, locking onto the shrine maiden and slowly tracking her movements from behind her as it did. As Hatate looked at the display of her phone, she found within her the instinctive urge to yell at it. "Shutter speed be damned, it would take five seconds for my ability to work with this camera phone!"
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

This girl. . . I'll get her the moment the cloud clears. Reimu shifted her eyes to the side. That girl behind me, too. Pausing the thought for a moment, she attended to another. However, if both of them have the ability to erase my projectiles just with a click of that 'camera' thing, trying to take them out with the spell cards I have available would be as good as suicide. I can't even use my Fantasy Seals after losing the purifying rod. The only things I have now are Hakurei Amulets, Persuasion Needles and Yin-Yang Orbs.

Realisation struck Reimu as she went over the final three words. Yin-Yang Orbs! Of course! Why didn't I think of that! I could just cast a Sanctifier Orb to block the view of one while I take out the other! It should be large enough to block me from the one behind while I attack the one in front of me.

With that, she reached for her talismans, taking one out. Said talisman started to glow a deep red as magical energy was channelled into it.

"Holy Relic 「Yin-Yang Sanctifier Orb」!"

Turning around to face Hatate, she held out her other hand outstretched a huge sphere of light forming before her. The sphere solidified, nevertheless still glowing with blue energy.

Here's what you get for trying a sneak attack!

Delivering a flip-kick to the object, the orb started to roll towards its target.

That should buy me enough time to quickly beat down Aya!

Turning back to face her enemy, her eyes were quickly blinded by a flash of light. The snow had already cleared, and Aya held the camera before her, triumphant.

"Snapshot 「Fast Shot」!"

"Treasure Sign 「Yin-Yang Orb」!"

Aya held both hands before her, reeling from the wave of energy that hit her. She must have noticed and bombed my spell card! Channelling energy as she flipped back from the force that pushed her, she activated her flight magic a fragment of a second before she fell, breaking her fall -- and breaking the hells of the geta she wore as she landed.

"Damn it!" Aya swore reflexively.

"Well, you don't expect me to be easy prey, do you!" the shrine maiden replied, four spherical stones with a black-white colouration in orbit around her.

"I'll take you down first, and then take out Hatate!" Aya kicked off the ground, rushing towards the shrine maiden. "I'll show you the abilities of the one crowned as 'Fastest in Gensokyo!'"

Sidestepping to the left, a Yin-Yang orb flew past the girl as she did, narrowly missing her by an inch. Delivering a hard thrust to the ground with her foot, she jumped over another two before landing in front of her target. A contented smirk formed as Aya looked at the slack-jawed shrine maiden. It was no surprise to her that the shrine maiden would be this shocked -- she did cover five hundred meters in two seconds, after all. All that was left was to hit the shutter.

Aya pressed her finger on the trigger -- an action that required a fraction of a second. However, in that same fraction of a second, the look of fear and astonishment on Reimu disappeared, replaced with a confident smile.

"Spell Break! Dream Sign 「Duplex Barrier」."

Instantaneously, fear surged into the Tengu's senses as the image of the shrine maiden disappeared, replaced with Hatate's figure.
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Reimu watched from a distance as both Tengu hit their respective counterparts with the flash from their devices. Instantaneously, both Aya and Hatate fell onto the ground, seemingly paralyzed.

Reimu let out a silent laugh at the scene before her. Those two don't even know that I had done them in. A simple manipulation of barriers and convincing acting, and viola! The two Tengu who attempted to photograph me photographed each other instead. They didn't even notice that I swapped the vision of the space over there with the space over here. Slipping out of her reverie, her mind came to more pressing matters. Well then, time to take them in for questioning.

______________________________________
Voting time. This time, you pick the questions you want to ask Hatate and Aya.
[ ] Who are you two?
[ ] Tengu?
[ ] What do you mean, Tenma?
[ ] Why were you given instructions to tail us?
[ ] Do you know who had started this mist?
[ ] Have you two perhaps sighted another team?
[ ] (Questions, any questions. Write-in.)

If you remembered my promise, you would know what question to ask those two in addition to the ones asking for information. (If you want a hint, check the name of the picture of the previous update.)
Of course, the choice to ‘[ ] Leave them alone and move along’ is always open.
Also, I am opening a Q&A section, so feel free to ask me anything that you are confused about the story and I will try to answer it to the best of my ability.
So! With that said. . .
_________________________________________
Scarlet Mist Incident Resolving Team
Team 2
Reimu Hakurei
Marisa Kirisame
Alice Margatroid
Minoriko Aki

Team 1
Keine Kamishirasawa
Fujiwara no Mokou
Yuuka Kazami
(Rumia)

Chairperson
Akyuu no Hieda
No. 172472
[X] Why were you given instructions to tail us?
[X] You have seen anything/anyone worth noted?
[X] Do you have any idea/guess who started the red mist?
No. 172473
[X] Who are you two?
[X] Why were you given instructions to tail us?
[X] Do you know who had started this mist?
[X] Have you two perhaps sighted another team?
[X] Are you interested in solving this incident?
No. 172550
Cutting the votes now. I will write in all the options.

To be honest, I am not sure if I want to continue this story. It feels meaningless, somehow.
No. 172714
>>172550
That would be kind of sad. I thought it is(/was) very interesting.

But if you don't want to write it, then don't. Nothing ruins a story worse than the author being forced to write something they don't want to.
No. 172725
Taking 2 weeks hiatus to try and sort things out. Then I will decide if I want to continue this story or just move on to my next one.

There's just this huge mental block when I realised that I do not enjoy my style of writing at all, and I do not know what to do to correct that.
No. 173255
This story will be remastered somewhere in the future. Look forward to it after I complete 'The way home'.

There are a lot of problems with this run which I wish to correct in the 'Take-2' version that will happen after I am done with my second story. So, those who have liked this run, please bear with me and perhaps check out my second story for time being. I promise that Falling Scarlet Cherry Blossoms will come back soon, re-done.