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It was now midnight, Christmas day. Satori arose from her bed with a tired look on her face. Satori liked to sleep with only her undergarments on, as the sweat her third eye expended throughout the day, while miniscule, was enough to cause her usual garments to smell less than pleasant. Her clothes, Satori reasoned, should always carry that air of mystery around her, like the scent of lavender blossoms mixed with cherry vanilla she liked to use, but not be strong enough to detract other people to her by themselves. She already was disliked by so many people that she didn't need to give them another reason.
But her state of dress was the sole reason she banned all of her pets from entering the hallway that led to her room. She couldn't be so close to bare, revealing her body and heart to everyone around her, like everyone else did to her. Satori sighed as she remembered the story she had been telling, and she brought both of her hands over her heart as it touched a string within her. The only way for unity to reign in the Palace of the Earth Spirits was to create an atmosphere of solidarity. Kindness, care, and patience must be thrown into every little thing that she does.
But above all else, Satori wanted her sister home.
After bathing and dressing, both of which could be done in her massive room, she left the hallway, and headed down the two hallways she traversed every day to the main room, where she had set up a Christmas tree. Before she could see what was underneath the tree, Utsuho and Rin appeared in their animal form, floating in front of Satori. After a few moments, which was used up transforming back into their humanoid forms, Rin bowed her head, followed by Utsuho, who did the same. "Satori," Rin began, "we're sorry about yesterday." Utsuho continued Rin's statement. "We discussed things over last night, and we get that you want us to learn a lesson from the story you were telling us. We're ready to listen to the rest of the story."
Utsuho Reiuji. She wasn't as used to her humanoid body as some of her other pets, and thus was rather clumsy sometimes. Despite that flaw, her superior management skills led Satori to name her the master of the Hell of Blazing Fires.
Rin Kaenbyou. Even though she was in control of her humanoid body, she had a tendency to act on the cat's...shall we say, baser side. When she wasn't, though, she was a hard worker, and loyal to boot, allowing Satori to leave her to cart off the evil spirits off to hell.
It was fitting that these two pets of hers, the highest ranking of them all, would soon be listening to a story about a spirit, a human, and a half-breed.
Satori sat down on her favorite rocking chair. Close to the stocking-adorned fireplace, and in front of Satori, the pets sat down as well. "I was going to open some presents underneath the tree with you both, but I think you've waited long enough. So, we're going to finish the story, first, alright?" Rin and Utsuho's fervent nods were rather easy to read. Satori nodded in acknowledgement and after a brief summary of the story she had started yesterday, she continued.
"Over the next few days, Marisa went about her business. It involved 'borrowing' books from a nearby mansion, spending time in the forest hunting for phantasmal mushrooms, visiting her friend at the shrine, and more or less living life how she wanted. In comparison, Youmu was intensely bothered by her mistake, refusing to return or to eat until she had used her swords to finish off her mistake.
"About a week later, Mima came across Marisa. The two had known each other from another time, and Marisa reluctantly greeted Mima, her former master. While things had not been pleasant between the two when they had parted, they greeted each other amicably. What was different about this meeting was that Mima had called her by a different name. Before Marisa was pulled away from Mima in the dream world, shortly after helping her friend defeat the creator of Makai, Mima had called out to Marisa.
"'I hope to see you again, magician.'
"On this meeting, however, Mima had a different tone. 'Nice to see you again, beacon of love.' Mima had only recently found out that Marisa had been the beacon of love in her time of exile, and did not expect that her former pupil had no idea what she was talking about. After a brief explanation, Marisa understood the basics of what it meant. But still, she wanted to know more, and so she begged her teacher to explain it fully to her."
Satori smiled at the two in front of her, then frankly stated, "Marisa became scarred. She had lived life whimsically, not befitting a beacon. After looking at her spellcards, she began to realize that Gensokyo had known, and she hadn't. At that moment, she decided to help others to let love flow.
"The first thing she did was to visit her family. She lived apart from them after a verbal argument escalated, and she hadn't been back in over six years. However, her parents weren't home, only her adopted brother. After catching up with him, Marisa learned he had been wondering about what to do with Medicine, a doll he had been meeting in secret. After a few helpful tips, more than a few sly reminders about what women are like, Marisa flew away, leaving her adopted brother in awe.
"In the clearing near the village her family lived, humans gathered to watch performances by three sisters. One played the violin, another, the piano, and the third, the trumpet. After chatting with them for a while, Marisa snuck off to their place of residence, where she found her next target of encouragement. There was another girl living in the attic, having snuck in there after being lost for a long time. The sisters brought the girl food and water one night after being spooked by her, and ever since then, have been giving her food and water so she wouldn't spook them anymore. But, what that girl longed for was much more than lodging and nourishment. She wanted someone to hold. Someone that would hug her, and never leave her alone, like everyone else had. Marisa sighed as the beacon recognized she too would be one that left this little girl, and she promised her that the next new person she'd see would be her rescuer.
"The next day, Marisa set off again, this time to the mountain she saw Mima fly to that night. What had happened to the mountain, she had wondered. To her surprise, nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary. There was another shrine near the top of the mountain, but that was an incident that had been taken care of smoothly. But as she was leaving, one of the gods of that shrine tapped her shoulder. Upon turning around, she saw a little girl with a sad face. The girl explained to Marisa that the other god of the shrine was dying because she made a contract with Mima, and there was nothing she could do to help."
Rin and Utsuho noticed a tear fall from Satori's third eye at this point, but if Satori knew anything about it, she didn't show it. "Marisa had been waiting for a chance to break free from the contract she had made to Mima when she first started learning magic, and had been preparing ingredients to do so. However, Marisa knew that her selfish want was this girl's need, and after rushing back home and back, Marisa gave the little girl what ingredients she had, a list of what ingredients were missing, and the directions on how to make it. This would break whatever contract the other god had. This meant that Marisa would be bound to Mima forever, as one ingredient in particular she had raised, a purple rose embedded with magic, was a once-in-a-human-lifetime chance. She could no longer make any of those, and while saddened at her lost opportunity, this girl needed it more. Marisa flew away before the little girl could notice the beacon's tears flowing freely and dissolving harmlessly into the air.
"This act caused the beacon some distress, and for a few days she refused to leave her house, haunted by the implications of that selfless act. The battle raged on in her mind." Rin quizzically watched her master pause for a while until Utsuho had the courage to ask, "Are you okay, Satori? You don't look too good." Satori shook her head, then resumed smiling at her two companions. "It's nothing to worry about."
Satori cleared her throat, then continued. "Every week, Marisa would make it a point to barge into the mansion I spoke of earlier, 'borrow' a book, then leave before anything happened to her. This Friday, though, instead of going straight to the library like she always did, she boldly marched down the corridor, straight to the master's bedroom. The master was a whimsical and generally orderly maiden, but crossing her was the last thing one should do with her. So, when Marisa boldly entered the master's chamber, the master woke up in a grumpy mood. Marisa had failed to notice that the master was sleeping until that point in time, so she turned around and decided to flee, knowing that even if she was hit, a protection ward Mima had set up on her would keep her safe temporarily.
"Meanwhile, Youmu had finally found Mima herself, and after a brief exchange of words, a fight ensued. It was the unleashed spirit versus the half-breed, and needless to say, being separated from your essence for a long while makes one's skills rusty. Using a specialized sword she carried, Youmu severed Mima from herself, ending the supposed tyranny Mima had caused." Rin gasped as she realized the implications of that simple kill.
"That's right, Rin," Satori acknowledged, "Marisa's barrier was gone. So too was the work she had done for that little god up on the other shrine. But Marisa had no way of knowing that, and luckily she fled the bedroom and reached the grand hallway, moments away from reaching the front doors and escape.
"It was at this point that a local and powerful youkai, named Yuuka, heard Marisa's magic distress call and went to investigate. Along with Mima and Marisa's friend, Yuuka had been a companion of Marisa a few years ago. While this wasn't her domain, Yuuka felt obligated to help her friend, and readied a spell, targeting the master of the mansion with a spell that would be non-lethal to her.
"As the spell was fired, the master noticed the incoming energy, and used her power to change the fate of that spell to hit Marisa instead. That burst of magical energy was more than enough to kill Marisa, and had it not been for a miracle, she would have died.
"From that point forward, Marisa hid. It was not to implicate Yuuka for her supposed death, but to hide from the master, who now roamed the land freely, looking to destroy what should have been destroyed."
"I tell this story, Rin," Satori said, gesturing at Rin, "and Utsuho," likewise doing the same to Utsuho, "because one small action of hate can bring about a world of change. While the argument you had yesterday may be small by comparison, by allowing it to fester, you can make this place somewhere where no one wants to live. I love you two, and I want you to live with me for as long as you can. But that means you have to work through your faults and my faults, and see each of us for the good each of us brings. Alright?"
Utsuho was the first to nod. "I'm sorry, Satori, Rin. Can you forgive me?" Rin cracked a smile. "Only if you forgive me first." Satori laughed, and following her example, Rin and Utsuho did likewise, with the only other sound in the mostly-abandoned palace being the crackling of the fireplace.
After a few moments, Satori stood up. "Do you want to help me open presents," she asked. Rin nodded fervently. "Of course!" Satori turned to Utsuho, but had no need to ask, as Utsuho's hand took Satori's outstretched one, and as Rin bounded off toward the Christmas tree with glee, Utsuho and Satori slowly walked behind the energetic cat.
Almost all of the presents had been unwrapped in particular, but there was one rather large box still to be opened. Satori hadn't opened any of them, allowing her pets to revel in the celebration even if some of the presents weren't for them. But the last box both pets refused to touch. "Satori, it's your turn. Open this one!"
The master of the Palace of the Earth Spirits timidly approached the box, but before she could undo the bright red ribbon on the otherwise plain-looking box, it sprung open, revealing...
"Hey sis! It's been a while!"
Satori couldn't believe her eyes. Her sister, Koishi, really had come home! Rin and Utsuho looked at Koishi, who nodded back at them, and it was only then that Satori realized those two had some form of help in getting the ever-fleeting Koishi to come home for Christmas in a few short hours.
The day passed by without incident, and because it was a special day, Satori asked the three to share one big bed together. With the help of Koishi, Satori's bed was set up in the living room, and all four tucked themselves into bed, helping themselves to each other's warmth. While Rin and Koishi fell asleep rather quickly, Utsuho had one last question on her mind.
"Satori, you know that story you told us?" Satori nodded. "Didn't that happen two weeks ago?" And Satori nodded. Utsuho realized that Gensokyo was never going to be the same again.
Happy Holidays from their house to yours.