Author Topic: A New World (book 2) Complete  (Read 21093 times)

Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #30 on: December 31, 2010, 01:32:14 AM »
And next year is the end of a 60 year cycle?

Aw, damn. Damn.
I have...a terrible need...shall I say the word?...of religion. Then I go out at night and paint the stars.

Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #31 on: December 31, 2010, 01:49:46 AM »
And next year is the end of a 60 year cycle?

Aw, damn. Damn.
Well, on the one hand, at least there'll be two additional shinigami with good work ethic to help Komachi. On the other hand, just the fact that Shikieiki thinks that she'll need those two additional shinigami... >_<

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Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #32 on: December 31, 2010, 02:26:05 AM »
?Ran Yakumo!?

Ran looked up in surprise at the call.  She quickly arose from her kotatsu and strode into the night.  She looked up at her uninvited guest.  ?I never expected you to come here.?  She looked at the shrine maiden quizzically.  ?In fact how did you get here?  I'm pretty sure I never showed you.?

?I learned a lot of things you should have taught me on my own,? Hitomi said as she landed.  ?But that's not important right now.  There were two Lunarians killed by a Lunarian assassin in the Bamboo forest.?

Ran stared at Hitomi.  ?Are you certain?  Perhaps it was a shape shifting youkai.?

?Well the man tried to fight a god.  And the banished one, Eirin, seemed to know who it was,? Hitomi frowned.  ?He escaped before I could finish him off so I can't be certain myself.  He was very hurt though.?

?I see...?  Ran thought over the matter.  ?How bad would you say??

Hitomi thought for a moment.  ?His right arm was effectively useless, and he had burns on his chest and leg.  He must be good though, because he didn't seem impaired by the pain at all.?

Ran nodded.  ?Lunarian medicine isn't good enough to fully recover from that in a day, so we should have a reprieve.  If there is some internal conflict they'll probably target Eirin, but we should still be cautious.?  She turned her gaze fully on Hitomi.  ?You should perform a strengthening ritual on the barrier tonight, just in case.?

Hitomi didn't look pleased at the order, but she simply nodded.  ?Very well.  And tell me what you learn from Eirin.?

Ran folded her arms.  ?Indeed.  In fact I think I'll grab Maribel and Renko as well.?

Hitomi blinked.  ?I understand Maribel, but why Renko??

?In addition to her connections to the SDM she's just clever,?  Ran looked up at the sky.  ?And given we don't have a clue what's going on we'll need someone clever.?

---

?Sometimes I think it should be a rule of war that you have to see somebody up close and get to know him before you can shoot him.?

Lord Tenshou sat uncomfortably on the throne.

In truth he didn't want to rule the moon.  He knew, on some level, that he lacked the temperament for a supreme ruler.  He believed in his skills as an organizer, a diplomat and a general, but the raw charisma required to keep a group of nobles in line was something he lacked.

He'd never actually wanted to replace Tsukiyomi.  He'd hoped that the war would start on its own.  But it seemed that wasn't going to happen.  Years of relative peace had sapped the will of the Lunarian people for war.  Even Lord Tsukiyomi himself had chosen to run away.  Lord Tenshou would only have been mildly irritated by their cowardice, if it were not for the fact that they were taking most of the best warriors with them.  He could still win of course.  But it would be more time consuming.

A better ruler would have been able to unify the moon without stepping on toes.  The best ruler would have been able to get Lord Tsukiyomi to abdicate in their favor.

He shook off that feeling though.  In time someone with those abilities would come to replace him.  Until then he would rule.  For the sake of his cause.

He turned to his new general.  ?Jiyuwan, how many people have stayed??

?Slightly less then half of the moon, as expected,? the swordsman replied without expression.  An impressive feat given his arm was still mending.  ?However, I fear that the number of combatants we have is only about 150.?

Tenshou frowned at this news.  ?I see.?  He allowed his voice to carry to the nobles in the court.  ?I had hoped that more people would be willing to defend their home, but it matters little.  So long as we use purification weapons there will be little actual battle.?

?Still it means that we must secure our home first.  Lord Shimeri??

His co-conspirator bowed.  ?Yes??

?I assume you have the plans the Watatsukis developed for the elimination of the human menace?? Tenshou asked.

?I do.  They can be implemented within the hour.?

Lord Tenshou nodded.  ?Then unless there is a reason to hold the matter??

He scanned the faces of the crowd in front of him.  There was no dissent.

?You may begin.?

----

Humanity is surprisingly resilient.

For years they've had the ability to eliminate themselves from Earth with the simple press of a button.  The weapons involved have changed, from crude fission bombs, to fusion weaponry, and then on to satellite beams and other devices which have ?minimal long term environmental impact,? but they still are immensely powerful, and they're still easy to call.  The people involved usually made pressing that button somewhat difficult, but it was never as hard as destroying most of a planet should be.

And they seemed to take a perverse pleasure in holding their fingers over those buttons.  Even without outside intervention the 'Cuban missile crisis' nearly wiped the slate clean on humanity.  And humans have continued their brinkmanship on and off until the present day.

However, every time the world stand ready to destroy itself, the human mind seems to suddenly kick in and people start actually thinking.  The buttons that are so easy to push physically seem to be much harder to push mentally.  It seems that when faced with utter annihilation, people suddenly want extra information and clarification about their orders.  A tiny little voice speaks up and says, ?Maybe I should check that before setting civilization back to the stone age.  Just in case.?

Which is why the Lunarians assault targeted so many people worldwide.

To their credit, some of the moon rabbit emissaries refused to act on their orders.  A small few refused to go at all and were, sadly, executed for their defiance.  More just couldn't bring themselves to kill billions, and hid on the earth, knowing that even if they survived they'd be hunted down later as traitors.

Still most completed their job.  Rabbits aren't known for bravery when it comes to other's lives, and quite frankly, it's unlikely humans would have done much better.

Thus all over the world computers started seeing threats that didn't exist, attack satellites showed their neighbors activating weapons, submarines received launch orders out of nowhere, and radar started showing missiles in flight when they were in fact on their platforms.

Most of the owners of these systems did the right thing, calling to confirm the situation and warn their commanders.  Across the world, the leaders of humanity began calling each other, trying to find out what was happening.

However there were a few commanders, and a few countries, that didn't react as rationally.  They saw the threat, and they saw their enemies on alert, and they assumed the worst.

No one knows who fired first, or if they each decided on their own to attack, but that really didn't matter in the end.  Once the first shot was fired it was over.

As actual attacks started, and casualties rolled in, people stopped hesitating.  Retaliations went off, alliances came into play...

And the world of man disappeared in flames.

----

Alice sent Shanghai to grab one of the library books and put it back on the shelf.  Technically she should let Juri do that, but it seemed weird to have your daughter picking up after you.  Especially since everyone was in the library this evening.

She was about to pick out another book when suddenly there was a pop and her head started ringing.  Like she'd flown too high and her ears had readjusted to the pressure.

For others the effects were more pronounced.

Koakuma staggered drunkenly then crashed to the floor.  Dinah slumped in her seat.  And Alice's blood turned to ice as Flandre hissed, her eyes glowing blood red.

Then it stopped.  Flandre blinked and looked around curiously, her wings tinkling.  Koakuma sat up and  shook her head and Dinah grabbed a glass of water and downed it.

Marisa said what they were all thinking.  ?What the fuck was that??

----

Elly grabbed her friend Kurumi as the vampire reeled.  ?Kurumi, are you alright??

The vampire shook her head.  ?So much fear.  So much power....  And the disbelief is fading....?

Elly was about to reply when the massive doors to the mistresses chambers opened up.  The two lesser youkai stood straighter as Yuka Kazami wandered out and yawned.

?Ah, I thought you weren't going to wake for another year, mistress,? Elly said.

?Something interesting has happened,? the powerful youkai replied.  ?And I think I want to see it in person.?

----

Hitomi was staring moodily outside.  They'd collected the ingredients for the barrier sealing ritual but it had to start exactly as a double hour began.  With the double hour of the Dragon halfway done she'd have to wait for the double hour of the Serpent to start to begin the ritual.  Thus all she could do now was wait and brood.

?Ah, are you worrying about the leaves too, mommy??

Startled from her reverie she looked back at her young daughter, who had thoughtfully grabbed them both some tea.  ?Leaves?? she asked as she took the proffered cup.

Kanon nodded.  ?Well the leaves will be turning soon, and that's always pretty.  But then they start falling off and we have to sweep....?

Hitomi blinked then laughed.  ?Ah, well that's not as big a deal.?  She sipped her tea.  ?I'm afraid my trip didn't go as well as I would have liked.  I couldn't help some people.?

Kannon frowned.  ?But it wasn't your fault right?  I know, because you always try your best.?

Hitomi smiled.  ?Thank you Kanon.?

She sat there for a moment thinking of a way to explain events to her daughter when the world rippled before her.

She had her amulets out in a second, but there was nothing to fight.  Just a new space that had replaced the back of her shrine.  A landscape of strange gutted buildings and silent machines.  There was little sign that greenery had ever existed there, and no signs of life.

At the same time the ripples finished Hitomi felt a great emptiness run through her.  As if a piece inside of her had vanished.  Kanon whimpered and grabbed on to her arm.  ?Mom, something bad's happened....?

Hitomi nodded.  Then slowly stood.  She carefully walked to where the barrier's field should begin to confirm her suspicions, while Kanon trailed along with her.

Just as she thought there was nothing where the Hakurei barrier was supposed to be.

Hitomi shifted her guard as the space beside her ripped open and Ran and Chen jumped out.  However the two youkai gave her only the barest of nods before staring at the city before them.  ?Chen, go run and try to confirm what happened.?

?Right on it!? Chen said before zooming off.

Hitomi moved to face the kitsune.  ?Ran, what's going on!??

?You know as much as I do.?  Ran pointed at the world outside.  ?The Hakurei barrier is gone.?

?But how!??  Hitomi yelled.  ?That shouldn't be possible.  The barrier falls if my line ends, the dragon's power fades, or if someone breaks it.  I'm still alive.  The dragon is right there,? she said pointing to where the big dipper was in the sky, ?And I didn't feel anyone attacking the barrier!?

?You missed the most important part,? Ran said.  ?The barrier is the boundary between belief and disbelief.?  Ran looked over the ruined city.  ?I fear that something happened to the outside world that would make them find a world of monsters and gods believable.?

?Which means the Hakurei Barrier no longer has a purpose.  It's gone for good.?

The emptiness in Hitomi's chest filled her whole body. 

She felt Kanon tug on her sleeve.  ?Does that mean we don't have a shrine anymore??

Hitomi looked at the building that had been her home for most of her life.  The 'secret' had always been that the shrine was dedicated to the spirit of the barrier itself.  Now its power was gone.  What happened to gods of places that no longer existed?

She slumped down.  ?Damn it.?

Then she stared at Ran.  ?Damn it!  What have I been doing with my life then!?  What's been the point of the last thirty years!?  All those deadly fights.  The years with only occasional visitors.  It was all a waste!?

Ran looked shocked, then her expression turned to fury.  ?Thirty?  Try three hundred!  I've sacrificed my pride, my reputation and my friends to protect this damn barrier!  And you humans manage to break it all in a second!?

?We humans!  I didn't do a damn thing!?  Hitomi drew herself up.  ?And why are you here at this abandoned shrine anyway youkai!  Our....?

?Stop it!?

The two turned to where Kanon was standing in tears.  ?This was our barrier right!  Both of ours.  So that means someone else did this.  We should find them and punish them, not fight each other!?

Both Ran and Hitomi's faces fell.  ?I don't think it's going to be that easy honey,? Hitomi said.

Ran nodded.  ?She's right.  I'm afraid this can't be fixed.  And... it's not really anyone's fault.?  She sighed.  ?I'm sorry for blowing up on you though.  I should have been prepared for this.?  Ran sighed.  ?Anyway, I'm going to go make sure nothing in the area is dangerous.?

?More dangerous then the youkai normally are?? Hitomi asked.

Ran smiled weakly.  ?Probably not, but I want to make sure.?  The kitsune flew off.

?Be careful Aunt Ran!? Kanon called after her.  Hitomi felt a tinge of pain at the familiar words, but she wasn't going to correct her daughter.  Especially not now.

So instead she said, ?Kanon why don't we fly up and look around?  That way we can see what's changed.?

?Sure mommy!?  The little girl focused intently and slowly began hovering up.  For some reason Kanon wasn't all that good at flight yet, but Hitomi was sure she'd learn soon.  She followed her daughter up, then looked over the new landscape.

There were other mountains all around now though Youkai mountain seemed incredibly tall in comparison.  To the West Gensoukyo looked relatively unchanged, though Hitomi was sure she could see a few spots where a building had appeared from the outer world.

To the East everything was different.  It was a ragged set of buildings that looked to be about twice the size of the human village, and it was obviously only part of the city.  It looked like the center had been to the west, where Gensoukyo now sat, and the burn marks across the city indicated something had hit that center hard.  Hitomi was very glad they hadn't been around for that.

?Do you think anyone's still alive in the city?? Kannon asked quietly.

?I don't know,? Hitomi replied.  After a moment she added.  ?But if there is hopefully Ran or Chen will find them.?

?Damn.  What a mess.?

Hitomi looked up to see another flier approaching.  She recognized the black and white outfit immediately.  ?What are you doing here??

Marisa winced at the greeting.  ?I came to see what happened.?  She paused a safe distance off and scanned the broken landscape.  ?Looks like Patchouli was right.  But how the hell'd that happen??  She sighed and turned to where Hitomi was still watching her warily.  ?You two going to be alright with the barrier down??

Hitomi kept herself between Kanon and the witch, no matter how much her daughter tried to worm around her.  ?I can still summon other gods.  And the power over boundaries is innate to our blood.  Don't think we're easy prey.?

?That's good.  Doubt anyone will mess with you over this but I'd hate to see your family lose everything,? Marisa said while moving forward to poke at a partially melted bicycle.

?Haven't lost everything?  Sure, we've still got a magic power no one needs, the ability to summon gods we can't repay, and a shrine that's situated in such a poor location that no one goes to it,? Hitomi realized Kanon was looking at her worriedly and tried to calm her voice.  ?We'll probably have to close down the shrine in fact.  The only reason it was staying afloat was because Ran was giving 'donations' to keep us afloat.?

Marisa looked sheepish.  ?Um, actually that was me.?

Hitomi blinked.  ?What??

?But aren't you supposed to ring the shrine bell when you donate?? Kanon asked.

Marisa shrugged.  ?Yeah well....  I made a promise to Reimu.  And I want to keep it.?  She looked away, but Hitomi could tell the witch was blushing.  ?Anyway that's not important!  The important thing is I'm wondering if you need any help.?

Hitomi frowned.  ?If you want to make donations that's your own business, but I'm not a charity case.  Give to the shrine, not to my bloodline.?

?What's the difference mommy?? Kanon whispered to her.

Hitomi frowned a bit.  ?We're supposed to serve the gods, not ourselves,? she said quietly while keeping her eyes on the magician.  Then she sighed.  ?Though I suppose now we don't have a god.?

Marisa laughed at that.  ?How times change.?  The witch shrugged.  ?Well seems to me we still owe the barrier some respect.  After all it did its job.  It kept magic safe until the world accepted it again.  I think it deserves a break.?

?I like the shrine too mommy,? Kanon said.

Hitomi looked back to the weather beaten shrine.  ?I suppose it has been a good home.?

?And if you ever need help keeping it up you can give me a call.  I've got a lot of memories here,? Marisa said.

?We can take of ourselves,? Hitomi replied.  She didn't want to end up further in this woman's debt.

The witch sighed.  ?Alright.?  She then took off and started heading towards the devastation.  ?Anyway this place looks like a mess.  Feel sorry for all the poor bastards who lived here.  Might want to say a ritual for their souls.?  The witch tossed a gold coin behind her.  ?On me.  Don't want them angry as I inspect the place for artifacts.?

?Proper rites don't give you the leeway to go grave robbing!? Hitomi shouted after the witch, but she was ignored.

She sighed and turned to Kanon.  ?She's right in that we should do rituals for the departed.  We can use the incense from the barrier ritual for it too.  I'll grab that, you get the gohei, alright??

She'd do her job now and worry about the shrine later.  Maybe sometime along the way she'd have an idea on how to live life as a miko of a godless shrine.

?Yes mom,? her daughter replied.  The little girl's wonder was starting to give way to sorrow over the lost lives.  Even though neither of the miko had known anyone who had died.

?It's a good thing this is mostly academic to me,? Hitomi muttered as she headed back inside.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2011, 12:50:47 AM by IcedFairy »

Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #33 on: December 31, 2010, 02:46:24 AM »
Aw, damnit. I hate Lunarians: even while dead, the Watatsukis still manage to piss me off by being a bunch of broken cheaters. >_< Plus, you know, there's that whole thing with me (or, apparantly, my descendants) being murderlized by those extremely dirty Lunarians using their cowardly, dirty tricks.

EDIT: And dear god, Komachi's going to need more than just the Watatsukis now. How many billion is that?

EDIT EDIT: Saw a UN report with estimations on the world population in the next three hundred years. I can't remember when exactly this takes place, so I'm going to use the numbers for 2200, with a medium estimate of 8.2 billion and a high of 21.2 billion. So... I'll just throw 12 billion out there as a rough guesstamation. (Generously) assuming that 50% of the humans in the world survived, that's a death toll of 6 billion. Numbers are probably higher, considering that a good portion of the damage would be done to major population centers, which at that point would probably be where the majority of people in the world would be. Granted, I imagine that several of the world powers would at least try to target military centers and government infrastructure rather than population areas, but...
« Last Edit: December 31, 2010, 03:03:01 AM by Sect »

Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #34 on: December 31, 2010, 03:22:58 AM »
I should probably mention this: I'm not criticizing how you did this. In fact, as far as Lunarian human annihilation plans go, this is probably the best and most feasible route. I'm curious as to how the rabbits were able to hack into or fool the systems (I'm guessing manipulating radar or satellite waves or something), and I guess, in this version, America never had the cold war with the Lunarians in the 60s.

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Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #35 on: December 31, 2010, 06:35:50 AM »
Bam. What a huge update. I'm largely indifferent towards the Lunarians, but they can indeed be selfish brats, can't they?

Watching for more, as always.

Iced Fairy

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Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #36 on: December 31, 2010, 07:22:45 AM »
Hm...

As for the numbers well, as painfully ironic as it is, "One death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic."

The deception occurred on multiple levels.  Think Wargames, Crimson Tide, the Soviet Radar incident and Dr Strangelove all going off at once.  To every country on the planet.  That's why it was so effective.

As for the Lunar Cold war... well CiLR pretty much states that the "war" was the Americans landing, planting their flag and going home while the Lunarians and Moon Rabbits panicked about impurities.  The Americans never figured out anything.

Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #37 on: December 31, 2010, 09:10:22 AM »
Ah, my bad. I think I got my memories mixed up with some of Muffin's stories, then.

As for the tragedy/statistic quote, there's a point where it's just plain monstrous, especially when genocide is concerned (and not a game, which it's apparantly about to be now that Yuka's waking up). But no, I was mostly concerned about the huge workload come the next year for Komachi and Shikieiki. It'll make the Flowering Incident look like a mild bloom in comparison.

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Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #38 on: December 31, 2010, 03:15:04 PM »
Bloody hell.

Renko and Maribel aren't gonna like this...

Apparently, Thomas the Tank Engine isn't one to take crap from anyone.

Iced Fairy

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Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #39 on: January 05, 2011, 02:54:45 AM »
Maribel dropped the glass she was holding with a dull clunk on the table.  Renko looked up at her in surprise as her friend stared into space.  After a moment she quickly stood and moved to Mary's side.  ?What's wrong??

The words seemed to snap Maribel out of her daze.  ?The barrier.  It's gone.?

Renko's eyes widened.  ?What!??  She tried a simple spell, but felt none of the resistance that she should have in the outside world.  ?But magic's working just fine, Mary.?

Maribel shook her head.  ?I just know it's down.  I can feel it.?

Renko frowned.  ?Okay let's fly up and take a look.  We should be surrounded by city if the barrier is gone, right??

Maribel nodded.  ?Right.  Let's take a look.?

Renko followed Maribel out of their house and then took to the sky.  The stars were still clear, and as they got above the height of the shrine there were none of the lights that would indicate a city.

?See Mary, there's no way that the barrier is do....? Renko's voices caught in her throat as she stared in horror.

The false dawn of a nuclear explosion had appeared over the horizon.

?Oh god....?

The glow was slight.  Hidden behind the mountains that surrounded the valley of Gensoukyo still.  But there was no mistaking that horrible light.

As it slowly faded Renko began to realize what that meant.

?I don't believe it,? she choked out.

Maribel nodded.  Then she gasped.  ?Mom and Dad!?

Renko swore and dove after Mary as she ripped a hole in reality and moved through it.  There was a moments disorientation as they moved through the gap then the two burst back into reality over Okaya.

The city was in ruins.  Some parts still burned.  The lake that had separated the town from its sister city smoldered as well as if it had been brought to boil.  'Satellite weapon' the last analytical part of her brain remarked.

Maribel gave a thin wail and disappeared.

Renko was too slow to follow her through the gap but she knew where her friend was going.  She quickly flew down to a place she'd visited often, but never enough.

Maribel was there. 

The black ruins stood in silent tribute to the fact that there had once been a house there.  It had been a beautiful house, with flowers in the windowsills, and a western style porch.  There was no sign of the rocking chair that once sat there.  Next to her was a blacked tree trunk, a poor marker for where a once proud Jacaranda had spread its leaves.   Across the street a twisted swing set creaked and popped as it cooled in the breeze, behind the burnt line of a fence.

Mary was on her knees rocking back and forth, sobbing so hard she could barely breathe.

Renko moved to her love and embraced her as tightly as she could.  ?I'm here Mary.  I'm...?  She sniffed and tried to start again.  ?It's...?

Then she couldn't take anymore.  She began crying.

It wasn't alright.

Their old world was gone forever.

The two sat there, in the light of guttering flames until a explosion of a distant refinery shook them out of their stupor.  They managed to pull themselves up, but Mary couldn't seem to turn away from the house.

?I can't find them,? she said in a weak voice.  ?I can't even find their bodies.?

Renko looked around at the devastated neighborhood.  ?I'm sorry Mary.  We don't even know if there were here...?

Maribel shot up.  ?That's right.  Maybe they were out driving.  Or took a vacation.  I can find them!?

?Mary, it's...!? but Maribel was off again.  Following some boundary only her eyes could see.  Fortunately this time she was flying, so Renko could follow behind.

Maribel was pursing whatever she saw frantically.  Renko almost told her to slow down, but she caught a glimpse of smoldering figures on the streets below and sped up herself.  She felt sick.  Maribel didn't need to see that.

Their hurried flight took them to the edge of town where a strangely familiar shrine sat.  In the courtyard were two figures.  Living figures!  The two women swooped down towards the scene.

Then they stopped as they got close enough to see.

The mountain god Kanako was holding an old woman on her lap.  She looked mostly unscathed but Renko could see that Kanako was holding the woman's hair in place.  Radiation poisoning.

Kanako glanced briefly up but turned her attention back to the woman just as quickly.  ?There.  Do you feel any more pain??

?No Princess Yasakatome.  The pain is gone.  Thank you.?  The old woman let out a few rasping breaths.  Then fell still.

Kanako sighed then put the body down.  Standing up she turned away from the girls to look at the broken down shrine.

?Why??

Renko turned to Maribel.

?Why couldn't you have done something?  What's the point of gods if they can't help people?? Maribel asked.

Renko expected anger, but Kanako just shook her head.

?What use is a god who no one calls for help?? asked Kanako softly.  ?What is the point of a god who no one needs until after everything is gone??

Renko saw tears drip down the goddess' face.

As the goddess walked towards her old home she called back, ?Go back you two.  There's nothing for you here.  Leave Suwako and I to grieve for our people.?

?Besides this place isn't safe.  The radiation has probably already affected you.  Go see Eirin.?

Renko's gut churned.  She was a fool!  Of course there would still be radiation.  ?Maribel!  We have to go, now!?

Maribel seemed confused, but she immediately followed Renko's demand.  Space tore open once again and the two stepped through.

The journey was rough.  Renko's stomach lurched as they moved between spaces and she threw up into the void.  Then they crashed into the bamboo forest in front of a large stately building.  Two rabbits and a woman with silver hair were standing there in surprise, right as Maribel lost the contents of her stomach.

?What in the world...? the woman asked before seeming to make some connection.  ?Radiation?  Quick come inside.  You two, help them!?

The two rabbits moved to help Renko and Mary keep standing, and started leading them into the building.  Renko was grateful for the assistance, because at that point the world started swimming....

-----

Renko opened her eyes.  Apparently she'd fallen asleep at some point.  She sat up on the hospital bed and immediately moved to take Maribel's hand.  Mary started at the touch, then cupped Renko's hands in her own.  Her best friend looked like she was still in shock, but at least she'd stopped crying.

?You should be more careful with yourself.?

Renko looked over to find Patchouli entering the room.  ?I'm sorry.  I guess I just wasn't thinking.  I should have known it wouldn't be safe yet.?  She closed her eyes briefly.  ?We're lucky radiation poisoning is easy to cure magically.?

 Patchouli sat down across from them.  ?I can understand how you'd forget something like that, given the situation.?  The magician sat their silently for a while.  After a few false starts she said quietly, ?I did something just as stupid myself when I lost my family in the Great War.?

Renko started with surprise, and Maribel looked up.  Patchouli coughed.  ?Well that's not what I came to talk about.?  She looked back to the two girls.  ?I did a scan based on your genetic data.  I'm afraid I only found one of your cousins Maribel.?  Marbiel just looked down at the bed again.  Patchouli took a deep breath.  ?Renko we found your parents, alive and mostly well.  Apparently the village in Hokkaido that they were visiting escaped the war.?

Renko sat there speechless.  My mother and father are alive?  My mother and father are alive!  Her eyes began to tear up, then her mask finally broke.  ?Thank you!  Thank you!  Oh thank god.?  She wiped at her tears as relief washed over her.

Her mood darkened as Maribel embraced her weakly.  How unfair was it for Maribel to lose everything, while Renko had gotten a miracle?

It seemed Maribel had guessed her thoughts.  ?It's not your fault,? Mary said.  Renko gripped Mary tighter none the less.  She needed the support.

Patchouli coughed again from behind her book.  ?Anyway Aya checked the village personally.  She said they should be safe for the next couple of weeks.  They have food and fuel to boil water, so they should be fine, along with the other 150 or so people who were there.?  She coughed lightly.  ?Apparently there are small villages and farmsteads like that scattered all around Japan and the nearby nations.  Not much in the way of power though.  And all the cities are gone.?

She paused for a moment.  ?It shouldn't be hard to bring them down to Gensokyo.  But right now might not be the best time.?

?Why not?? Renko asked.  She began to worry.  Was the war still going on?

Patchouli shook her head.  ?We'll explain later.  Don't worry.  We should be safe in the short term, and you need the rest.?

?But-? both Mary and Renko said in unison.

?Sorry, but this was the doctor's orders,? Patchouli said, before rapidly chanting a sleep spell.

Renko fell back against the pillow and rapidly drifted off again into a dreamless sleep.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2011, 02:56:43 AM by IcedFairy »

Iced Fairy

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Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #40 on: January 05, 2011, 02:55:11 AM »
When Maribel awoke again she was in the same bed as Renko.  She could almost pretend that the horrible night hadn't happened, but the ache in her heart and the makeshift hospital's walls prevented her from escaping reality.

They'd had a large, if generally uninteresting breakfast, when the woman who had met them at the door walked in, ?Are you feeling better??

?Physically,? Maribel said.

?That's something at least,? Ran said as she entered, followed by a woman with long black hair.  ?You two really worried Chen and I.  We didn't have a clue where you were until Marisa told me.?

?We weren't really thinking about that,? Renko admitted.

?Fortunately you came back quickly.  The radiation levels you were exposed to were probably fatal within 48 hours,? the silver haired woman said.  ?Ah, by the way I'm Eirin Yagokoro, as you might have guessed.?

The black haired woman bowed.  ?And I'm Kaguya Houraisan.?

The devastation of the past day's events dulled most of the interest Maribel had in meeting the fairy tale princess.  ?Thank you for treating us.?

?Don't worry about it,? Eirin said.  ?After all, even as exiles I feel a duty to correct the wrongs committed by my fallen countrymen.?

Renko choked at that.  ?You mean someone did this intentionally!?? Maribel screamed.  To think that someone, anyone could do this....

Eirin winced.  ?I'm afraid yes, this was due to lunar influence.  We can't seem to get messages too and from the moon anymore, but it seems likely there was a coup d'etat.?

Ran growled.  ?Chen found a deserter from the emissaries who survived.  The rabbit said that there's a new lunar government dedicated to wiping out any possible annoyances on earth.?

Maribel looked at the three women in front of her.  ?Who?  Who murdered my family??

She met Eirin's gaze.  The woman stared into her eyes then nodded.  ?You'll be meeting them soon enough.  After all, they'll be coming to remove the impurity of the youkai.?

The words only fed the burning in Maribel's chest.  ?Impurity!?  How do those bastards have any right to talk about impurity!??

She felt Renko's hand on her shoulder but her anger wasn't abated.

Eirin shrugged.  ?Purity is a very vague concept.  Gods are usually pure, youkai are always impure.  Such is the way of things.?

The thought that youkai like Byakuren and Keine were somehow less ?pure? or less ?righteous? then those who could ignore the deaths of millions burned her mind.  She hated the thought.  It wasn't right.  It shouldn't be allowed!

Such is the way of things.

?Not. Any. More.?

Her vision blurred and cracked.  Before her she saw lines, no threads.  Threads of words, of thoughts, each connected to thousands of others.  One glowed with a bright painful light.  A light that sickened her to her very core.

She reached out and ripped that thread to pieces.  It hurt and stung, like she was ripping off a scab, but after the pain came a feeling of release.  As the strands fell away she grabbed a few of those, then a few loose strands from elsewhere and she pulled together a new thread.  One that shown twice as bright, and left her feeling calm and secure.

She found herself back in the hospital.

Then pain ripped through her chest and she sank to her bed.

?Maribel!? Renko yelled as she pulled Mary upright.  The pain started to be surrounded by numbness.  She couldn't seem to answer.

Eirin just stood there in open mouthed shock.  ?What did you do?? asked Kaguya in wonder.

Ran on the other hand jumped into action.  The kitsune stepped forward, aimed for a second and then punched her in the chest.  The pain worsened, then faded away.  ?I told you not to be so careless with your powers Maribel!  If reality wasn't so fragile you'd have just killed yourself instead of going into cardiac arrest!  Dammit, you just escaped death by radiation poisoning!  You need to learn to control yourself!?

?You idiot, Mary, take better care of yourself,? Renko said hoarsely, wrapping her up in a hug.

?Sorry Renko...? she returned the embrace before looking up at the three visitors.  ?But I really can't remember what I did.?

Eirin shook her head then laughed.  ?Oh those two really should have killed you when they met you.  You're far too dangerous Ms Hearn.?  The laugh made it merely insulting instead of rage inducing, but Maribel's opinion of Eirin dropped a bit.

?Please explain, Eirin,? the princess said.  Her voice was friendly, but still somehow a command.

Eirin smiled and nodded in return.  ?She altered the definition of purity.  Not really necessary, but I imagine there are a lot of...?

?Problems she's created,? said an authoritative voice.

The entire room turned to look at the person who entered.  It was a woman of fair height, with a elaborate crown/cap and a flat wooden rod.  One that she was pointing straight at Maribel.  ?While I don't care about your issues with the Lunarians, the roles of the gods and Celestials are an important part of the bureaucracy.  Your meddling can't be allowed to stand.?

Maribel waited for one of the others to speak up, but Eirin and Kaguya were looking at the woman cautiously and Ran's tails were bristling.  Renko just looked confused.

?Your mentor has stated you need to be more cautious with such power, but you have refused to listen.  In addition to the sin created by your possession of that power, your willingness to use it in rage and anger are not proper.  You must show more responsibility,? the woman said.

?Who are you to judge me!?? Maribel finally snapped.

Ran and Eirin turned to her in disbelief, while Kaguya started laughing uproariously.

?Shikieiki Yamaxandu, chief judge of hell,? the woman replied.

Maribel's stomach abandoned ship.  She really wished she could follow.  ?Oh,? she managed to squeak out.

?Indeed,? the woman said looking down at her.  ?Wrath can be a powerful sin.  It consumes the mind and can prevent you from following the proper path.  I suggest you learn to control it before it causes you to do something you will regret.?

?Sorry,? she managed to mutter.

Shikieiki nodded.  ?I'll want to speak to you more in depth later, but for now take this warning.  And don't touch the underpinnings of reality again, do you understand??

?Yes ma'am.?

?Good.?

The woman disappeared and Maribel fell back onto the bed.  Renko and Ran gave her the 'I told you so' look, while Kaguya went back to laughing.  Eirin just shook her head with a rueful grin.  ?Well that will perhaps confuse our foe.?  She stood a little straighter.  ?As for your original question...?  Maribel and Renko both turned their full attention to the exiled Lunarian, ?the people responsible are the world governments of earth.  But this new Lunarian leadership must be the ones who pulled the strings.?  Eirin's eyes narrowed.  ?And the one who's in charge of them is Lord Tenshou.  Which means they WILL be coming for you.?

----

Shikieiki watched from beyond the veil of death as the women agreed to meet with the other representatives of Gensoukyo's houses and finish putting the pieces together.  Komachi and her newest ferryman Toyohime stood behind her.  Shikieiki had noticed a slight glimmer of recollection in the woman's eyes when Eirin walked in, but the new shinigami had easily set that aside.

?I didn't expect you to take it so easy on her,? Komachi remarked.  ?She did quite a number on reality there.  And making it so that the celestials and gods are always pure again took a lot of energy.?

?Remember it's our duty to judge the dead Komachi,? Shikieiki replied.  ?She will be judged properly and fairly at the end of her life, like everyone else.  To tell the truth I would have normally had her change things back herself to fully remove the sin, but I could not let the world stand like that if she killed herself in the attempt.  In fact I would not have acted directly at all if it weren't for the fact it intruded upon our work.  The judgments of hell should not fall upon the living.  An unfortunate necessity.  Still, she can repent for her foolish actions later.?

Toyohime coughed.  ?Um, excuse me your honor, but if we aren't supposed to interfere with the living beyond speeches why did you leave her other alterations in?  Her tweaks won't affect many Lunarians, but won't some youkai being pure affect the coming battle??

Shikieiki shrugged.  ?True it will.  But then to change those back would also be to interfere with the living.  Sometimes inaction and action alike will change the course of history.  At those points one should choose the path that allows the living the most choice.?  She smiled slightly.  ?Besides, I admit I approve of those changes personally.?

?That's all kinda confusing,? Komachi said with a yawn.

?Hm... all you need to take away from that is don't get involved in the fighting Komachi.? Shikieiki said.  ?Now you two should get to work.  There's a lot of souls to ferry.?

As the two shinigami faded away Shikieiki nodded.  And there would be more souls to come.  Ones that she was looking forward to judging....
« Last Edit: January 05, 2011, 02:57:14 AM by IcedFairy »

Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #41 on: January 05, 2011, 03:38:41 AM »
I'm actually a bit confused on what Maribel even did. I assume that she had done some alteration of the border of "purity" and "impurity", though what exactly purity is to begin with is already fuzzy, if not completely undefined. Plus, Shikieiki's comment "making it so that the celestials and gods are always pure again" makes it even more confusing, since we still have no idea what Maribel did or what purity even means (just from Shikieiki's comment, it shouldn't mean "good", because gods aren't always "good", if they ever are).

I'm guessing, judging by the fact that Shikieiki is actually somewhat pleased by Maribel's altering of reality, it has something to do with creating a tie with "purity" and "fulfilling their intended purpose": if gods are doing what they are suppossed to be doing (such as Okuu creating power, or Hina gathering misfortune), then they are "pure". Though, trying to attach that to Celestials, Lunarians, or humans seems to be a headache, since, as far as I know, they don't have a role to fulfill like gods and youkai do (I'm probably misunderstanding what Celestials are, though Tenshi doesn't give me much hope, and humans seem to have their "resolve incidents" thing, but Lunarians... sit on the moon).

Also, I wonder where Yorihime is.

EDIT: Also, Maribel is totally Chaotic Neutral, with Good tendencies. Just throwing that out there.

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Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #42 on: January 05, 2011, 03:45:28 AM »
Did Maribel just--

Oh yessssss. Suck on that, Lunarians! :*

On a more serious note, I was once sitting in Immigration and Ethnicity in American History class, and saw my professor move to write something on the board. He asked us what reasons people had to start up ethnic conflict, and the first one that came up was... well. He wrote "PURITY" up on the board and looked up at us in our seats, and said, "that single word has caused and excused more wars than any other word in history."

That moment just came back to me as I saw just how far the Lunarians were willing to fall in order to preserve their ridiculous concept of purity. This is probably why Maribel's screwing with the definition of purity made me smile. Karmic justice, indeed. No wonder Shikieiki personally approves.

Keep on writing. This gets better and better with each passing post. Kanako returning to the old believers who still had faith in her to make their last moments less painful was especially touching.

Iced Fairy

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Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #43 on: January 05, 2011, 04:14:09 AM »
Thanks for the encouragement.  Always good to hear people are reading and enjoying.

On purity: Maribel's little twisting made purity defined solely by actions, not by their position or bloodline.  It used to be that the Lunarians could get away with more because they were pure and their opposition wasn't.  Likewise, a youkai could never become pure due to their tainted blood.  Neither is true now, though it only affected one current Lunarian.  However as pointed out earlier, gods and celestials occasionally are required to be dicks, and thus Shikieiki had to fix that a little.

With Kanako...  I actually drew inspiration for Kanako's comments from Tetragammon Labyrinth.  Being a responsible god has got to be a pain a lot of the time.  Oh yes, and expect more from her the future.

I've kind of canvased over my work and the plans, and book one seems to be a setting, book two part setting and part political piece, and book three will be a whole lotta violence.  Hopefully I can keep doing each well enough to keep people despite the shifts.

Iced Fairy

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Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #44 on: January 08, 2011, 12:44:16 AM »
I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.

It was obvious Eintei had taken out the walls of two rooms to get the space to seat everyone here properly.  Eirin was sitting at the head along Kaguya, who was currently exchanging dark glares with Mokou across the table.

Behind Eirin were three Rabbits.  Renko knew Reisen and Tewi, but there was a third rabbit as well, who was heavily bandaged, and looked almost as traumatized as Maribel had last night.

Ran and Chen were also at the table along with a fourth rabbit who was staring at the floor with all her might.  Ran moved some cushions out to give them seats.  Maribel took the one next to Ran while Renko sat next to her.  To Renko's right were Flandre, and Alice, with Juri and Marisa sitting behind them.  Marisa was obviously preoccupied, and Alice's expression was dark.

Keine of course was here with Mokou, and Hitomi was sitting next to them.  There was another open empty space on that side of the table, but as Renko and Mary sat down Eirin clapped her hands lightly.  ?I've received word that Byakuren and her followers are too busy attempting to grant aid to those villages and individuals who survived the war outside to attend.  However Shou said that she offers the blessings of Bishamonten to us.?

Flandre shrugged.  ?That's not the important part.  The important part is whether or not those stupid moon people are responsible for this.?

Eirin nodded.  ?We've confirmed it beyond a shadow of a doubt.  It seemed likely because Reisen, er the younger Reisen, and Hitomi said the assassin who killed the Watatsuki sisters was Jiyuwan.  Then Chen found a deserter who survived the incident who confirmed that the traitors that ousted Lord Tsukiyomi are responsible.?  She inclined her head at the rabbit next to Chen.

The rabbit sat there for a few moments before Chen said something in her ear.  ?Y~yes.  After Lord Tsukiyomi left Lord Tenshou told us to exterminate the humans.  He said was going to destroy Gensoukyo after that.?

Keine frowned.  ?Any chance he'll change his mind??

?No.?  Kaguya shrugged.  ?Lord Tenshou was arrogant even from a Lunarian's standards.  And he's better at holding a grudge then Mokou.?

The immortal made a rude gesture across the table.  ?Die in a fire, princess.?

?Not this week Mokou dear.  Maybe next,? the princess said sweetly.  Her expression turned serious again as she continued, ?Anyway, as I said he bears a grudge because during the lunar invasion an invading youkai killed his father.  In any case if he gets it into his head that he's going to do something it would take quite a bit to stop him.?

Eirin raise her hand.  ?Forgive me princess, but there's one thing that might be able to stop him.  Politically anyway.?  She looked across the table.  ?Apparently Precia here,? she indicated the cowering rabbit girl next to Chen, ?overheard something interesting.  The Lunarians found out Yukari was behind the youkai invasion of the moon.?

?Normally that wouldn't matter, since Yukari is dead, but like any demagogue he's managed to find a way around that little problem.  His justifications all hinge on getting revenge against Yukari, and thus, he's mobilized the moon against her successor.?

All eyes turned to Maribel.

Eirin continued, ?Thus if Maribel here turned herself in to the moon they'd lose their excuse for war and be forced to drop the matter for a couple of centuries.?

Maribel took a deep breath.  She hadn't even considered that.

?Like hell!? Marisa said.  ?They're the ones at fault!?

?Any self respecting youkai would die before paying tribute to those scum,? Ran spat.

Mokou raised an eyebrow.  ?Your call kid, but don't worry about hurting our feelings here.  I'm not looking forward to a fight, but I like you more then I want peace with them.?

Finally Renko squeezed her hand and said, ?You aren't going anywhere without me, Mary.?

Strangely the angry declarations helped calm Maribel.  She turned back towards Eirin.  ?They murdered my family because some human, somewhere, was in their way.  I'm not going to sacrifice my life to salve their ego further.?

?Good,? Kaguya said.  ?You'll need that resolve.  I don't want that bastard to achieve any of his goals.?

Eirin looked shocked.  ?Princess...?

Kaguya returned her servant's look.  ?What, Eirin?  I'm almost as angry as the rest of Earth at how much those traitors messed things up, and I know you're furious at them for murdering the poor Watatsukis.  We're part of Gensoukyo now, regardless of our differences.?

Eirin blinked at Kaguya for a few seconds, then smiled darkly.  ?I suppose that's true.?  She turned back to the table.  ?Then let me give you all our information.?

?Please,? Alice said.  ?Information will be the most important part of this war.?

?Indeed.  Then let's begin with troop strength.?  Eirin looked around the room.  ?The average Lunarian is about as strong as the average Oni, though of course we all know how meaningless 'power levels' become at that stage.  Still this will be a battle between the strongest and most skilled.  Numbers won't be as important as a few strong warriors.?

?In addition there are those people beyond the 'average.'  For example Jiyuwon has already shown his swordsmanship to be the equal of a god's.  On the other hand many of the younger Lunarians have no battle experience, and might be killed by a cunning trick from someone like Rumia.?

?Rumia doesn't exactly do cunning,? Chen stated.

Eirin shrugged, ?True, but you get the idea.?

Marisa sighed in relief.  ?So then most of them aren't as skilled as those sisters right??

?I'm afraid I won't know until the invasion happens.  But it is unlikely.?  Eirin frowned.  ?Still while we know they only have about 200 citizens left, I can't say whether the strong or the weak left.  Only their numbers.?  She rested her hands on the table.  ?So what about our numbers??

There was a rustling around the table as the various people looked about.  Maribel looked about herself.  She had no idea about the number of youkai around.

Ran was the first to speak.  ?Well you can count on the fairies to play around when the war starts for a little while, but they're only going to be distractions.  As for actual numbers...? Ran frowned.  ?It's not like we can just get together a youkai army again.  I think Yukari had Suika help the last time, and that turned into a complete disaster.  It won't happen again.?

?Hm... What about that little oni?? Flandre asked.  ?Will she show up??

There was a sudden swirling of mist and the oni dropped out onto the table.  ?Yep!  I'll be fighting for sure.?  She frowned, ?But the other oni don't seem interested.  I tried to talk Yuugi into it, but she was a no go.?  The oni shrugged, then vanished again.

There was a brief silence after the Oni's departure then Keine shook her head.  ?I'm afraid I can't help.  I'm going to be protecting the village, and while they're likely to attack on a full moon, my powers can only do so much at once.?

?And I'll be making sure no one gets to Keine,? Mokou said.  ?Not that I won't burn anyone that crosses my path, but I'm not going to be actively hunting unless something goes wrong.?

?I have to take care of my daughter,? Hitomi said curtly.  ?I'm not going to leave her alone in a warzone.?

Maribel had to admit she was glad to hear that.  Marisa and Alice seemed to be relieved as well.

?So do we actually have an army?? Juri asked.  ?I am certain Eientei's rabbits will help, but the moon has their own rabbit army.  And none of the rest of us can bring in troops capable of making a difference.?

Eirin nodded.  ?As Ran's pointed out we can't just tell everyone to join forces.  Really there are only three groups of youkai who can help.?  She ticked off the groups one by one.  ?The kappa, who won't fight alone.  The oni, who aren't coming, and the tengu.?

She turned to Ran.  ?What are our chances of getting the tengu to join us??

?I don't know.  The Great Tengu and I haven't spoken often.  I can only hope Aya has enough pull as a senior tengu to help my argument.?  Ran sighed.  ?I'll get on that right away and inform everyone of their response.?

?So we need the tengu.?  Flandre shrugged.  ?Or we could just fight them piece meal.  They can't win.?

?Don't get overconfident,? Reisen said quietly.  ?You're very strong Flandre.  But most youkai can't compare with you.  And you have a number of weaknesses that come from being a vampire.  Most importantly those Lunarians born on the moon tend to have powers that seal or disrupt other people's powers.  People with attack powers like my former masters and myself are in the minority, though some have even more esoteric powers as well.  There's a good chance someone can either attack your weaknesses or negate your strengths.?

Eirin and Kaguya both nodded.  ?Well said Udongein.  In addition there's another problem there.?  Eirin frowned.  ?Lord Tenshou's power.?

?What's that?? Maribel asked.  She wanted to know what the man she planed to kill could bring against her.

The thought seemed strange.  She had never thought about using her power to kill before.

Things had changed though.

?He has the ability to know exactly where people need to be in order to maximize the success of a plan.?  Eirin replied grimly.  ?Sadly that power gives him a great advantage against small groups of dispersed enemies.  Fortunately he's terrible at it.  He'll always ask for something too general and get a plan that only works to the letter of the request.  Which is a damn good thing, because if he's ever direct he usually succeeds.?

?Hm...  Sounds a little like my sister's power.  Which means if he doesn't have enough forces, he'll still be split too thin.  And we already have a plan that'll confuse him,? Flandre said with a sadistic grin.  The three magicians nodded in agreement.

Eirin shook her head.  ?I hope it's good.  Is there anything else I should mention??

?Weapon wise I know they'll have guns and shields to make them the equal of youkai.  What about things like that damned purifying fan?? Ran asked.  ?I don't much look forward to being instantly purified at the atomic level.?

Eirin laughed.  ?Ah that?  That shouldn't be an issue.  Even if they didn't all function differently now, my fail safe will keep them out of enemy hands.  You see when I originally designed them we hadn't left for the moon yet, and I didn't want someone to grab that and start purifying all his enemies.  So it only works for a pure wielder.?  Her smile grew wider.  ?I imagine Lord Tenshou is swearing about that right now...?

----

Lord Tenshou swore at how poorly things had turned out.  As the noble began to fiddle with his go board Jiyuwon began to guess what had gone wrong.

?Are you certain?? his lord asked the man.

Shimeri nodded.  ?None of the mass purification weapons work.  At all.  In fact many of the purity based defenses seem to have gone offline as well.  Our more conventional weapons and magic still work of course, but nothing beyond that.?

Lord Tenshou swore again.  And well he should.  Their weapons didn't work, they had less people then they should.  And Jiyuwon would bet money that all his lord's plans had been built around destroying Gensoukyo.

A place that, due to the barrier's collapse, no longer officially existed.

Truth be told, Jiyuwan had seen this coming for some time.  However his lord wasn't listening to his advice much these days.  But still Jiyuwan had to admit that he'd focused more on trying to stop his lord's bad ideas rather then fixing them.  A flaw of his.

Shimeri cleared his throat.  ?My lord.  Why are you so worried?  Surely our normal weapons will suffice.?

Jiyuwan could see his lord repressing the desire to call his ally a fool in public, so he spoke up.  ?While we are stronger then any normal youkai, they have more experience in battle.  Also we are outnumbered approximately 20 to 1.  Purification weapons would have allowed even the weakest of us to sweep legions of powerful youkai away.  Now we must rely on their unwillingness to band together to find victory.  If, say, the oni and tengu were to unite as an army to oppose us, we would likely fail.  We likely will have to mount several assaults to claim victory now.?

Lord Tenshou finally relaxed a little.  ?Fortunately that will not happen,? Tenshou said.  He sighed and began rearranging the board.  ?Jiyuwan, what's our combat strength??

?All the Lunarians who desired to leave have left.  We currently have 70 non combatants, though some of those are old enough to bear arms, 151 people who seek to fight, and one unknown,? the warrior said.  He continued because he knew his lord would ask, ?The unknown is Sareseno Watatsuki.?

Lord Tenshou raised an eyebrow at that.  ?I see.?  His lord thought for a moment then said, ?You should speak to him in the autumn gardens after this meeting.  That would be the best.?

Jiyuwan nodded.  His lord had not indicated he was supposed to kill the man, so his blade would not be further tainted.  He allowed himself to feel relief for that.

Lord Tenshou thought a few more moments then said, ?It seems to me that we might be able to remove two of our foes from the fight before entering the field.  Both the Scarlet Devil Mansion and the Temple of Myouren were 'out of play' during the Lunar Invasion right??

Shimeri nodded.  ?Yes, they were.?

Tenshou nodded and began filling the Go board.  ?Then we can afford to be magnanimous.  Find two rabbits to carry messages to those houses.  Pick ones who are supposed to be punished but who you're certain won't run away.?

?It shall be done Lord,? Shimeri said before exiting.

His Lord turned to him.  ?I'll be returning to my estate to reevaluate my plans.  Jiyuwan, speak with the Watatsuki, then get a full accounting of those who are going to war with us.?

He bowed.  ?Yes Lord.?

Then he left to speak to the husband of the woman he murdered.  It was unfortunate that nothing he said to the man would affect the battle.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2011, 03:00:01 AM by IcedFairy »

Iced Fairy

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Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #45 on: January 08, 2011, 12:49:48 AM »
Sareseno stood in the autumn gardens.  The trees here had been bred specifically to have all the colors of autumn without the leaves actually dying.  In the past he'd found it beautiful and had spent many hours under the branches.

Now he was here because the display was one of the few things that seemed more hollow then he did.

His mind drifted back to when he made his decision.

?Brother... do you really plan to stay here??

Sareseno looked over at his brother, wondering what he planned to do.  Plans seemed beyond him really.

?I don't know.?  Sareseno looked over the gardens again.  ?How can I trust myself to make a choice?  I didn't even realize I was in love with the woman I was married to until she died.  What kind of fool does that make me??

Miyari frowned.  ?You're definitely a fool Sareseno, but it's not because you find yourself in love.  It's because you're letting your survivor's guilt get in the way of rational thought.?

?Hm... rational thought.?  Sareseno looked at the leaves.  ?Tell me Miyari, do you find this place beautiful??

His brother looked at him questioningly.  ?I'm not the one to ask about such matters, but I do think it's pretty.?

?I see.?  Sareseno closed his eyes.  ?I find it something of a farce myself.  I can't see the beauty any more.?

?What are you talking about Sareseno??  He felt Miyari's hand fall on his shoulder.  ?You've written poems about this place's beauty.?

?I was a fool.?  He opened his eyes, and plucked one of the leaves from it's tree.  ?Do you know why the leaves changing color is beautiful?  It's the color of course, but the essence of the beauty is the death of the leaves, the passing of that color.?  He waved his hand at the forest that was eternally autumn.  ?There's none of that here.  Just colors.  No different from painted leaves.?

?There's beauty even in paintings brother.?

Sareseno turned away.  ?I know.  But I'm tired of only seeing that reflected beauty.  I want to see the real beauty.  The beauty of struggle, impurity and death.?

?There's no place for me among the true Lunarians anymore.  Goodbye Miyari, and live well.  I promise to do the same.  But in my own way.?

He snorted as his words.  He was always good at waxing poetic.  But he was hardly living up to them was he?

He was learning of pain.  Of sorrow.  Of hopelessness.  But he couldn't find any meaning there.  Or perhaps that was what he was supposed to learn?  Still it didn't bring him any closer to an answer.  Or even a question.

?Forgive my intrusion.?

Sareseno slowly turned in surprise.  ?Are you here to kill me too?  I thought that would be too blatant.?

Jiyuwan bowed.  ?No.  I was not ordered to take your life, so you will not come to harm.  Even if you choose to take revenge.?

Sareseno gaped at the man.  He'd wondered what he would do if he faced his wife's murderer, but all his thoughts had involved the man denying the action, or confronting him violently.  Not, this....

Finally he asked, ?Why??

?It was my lord's orders,? Jiyuwan replied simply.  ?I swore long ago to serve regardless of my personal feelings.?  The swordsman paused a moment.

?I'm uncertain if you will draw any comfort from it, but your wife not only avoided my ambush, but wounded me severely.  Because I had to rush healing I've permanently lost 3% of my arms strength.?

Sareseno wondered if he was supposed to feel rage or pride at that.  However he still just felt empty.

?Tell me about death, swordsman.?

The man shrugged.  ?Death is nothing.  Duty is everything.?

Sareseno rubbed his eyes.  ?Don't lie to me swordsman.  I know you would not be so flippant if we were speaking of your son's death.?

The mans eyes widened slightly, then he bowed.  ?Indeed.  Perhaps that is another failing of mine... or perhaps that is my one virtue.?  Sareseno saw the man's eyes turn to the painted leaves.

?I can not tell you about death poet.  But I can tell you, life is defined by death.?

There was a silence.

Jiyuwan turned to bow to Sareseno.  ?I fear I have no words for you, Lord Watatsuki.  But perhaps I can give you something else.  I know the power you possess.  The power to see, and to remember  the sagas of those who give you leave.?  He stood up straight.  ?I give you permission to tell my story, in its entirety, as you see fit.  I give you my legacy.  Destroy my name, or leave me to be forgotten.  It is your right now.?

Sareseno felt a rush, as knowledge seeped into his mind.  He knew if he closed his eyes and concentrated all the years of history the man before him embodied would flow into his mind.  For that matter he could watch history unfold around the man if he wanted to.

A thought came to his mind.  He raised a hand to stop the swordsman from leaving.  ?I ask one more thing of you.  Please ask Lord Tenshou to allow me to record the war.?

Jiyuwan looked mildly surprised but nodded.  ?I will ask.?

The swordsman left, but Sareseno didn't care.  He'd found a purpose.  A temporary purpose perhaps, but perhaps in action he would find understanding.

He left the autumn garden for his home.  The path seemed to fly by, and soon he found himself at his table, brush, ink and paper ready.

He closed his eyes and called upon the story Jiyuwan had given him.

As the images swam through his head, he began to write.

The swordsman waited.  He knew that the two generals of the moon were formidable foes.  His only hope of victory was in surprise....

----

Eirin weighed her options as the meeting broke up.  She had no faith in the tengu.  To be honest she didn't really have much faith in herself.  She fully expected the tengu to look after their own interests first, just as she was doing now.

First she had to define what that meant though.  What were her goals, and how could she accomplish them?

First was to keep the princess safe.  Kaguya was immortal, but Eirin knew several ways to make an immortal's life unbearable.  She'd designed most of them in fact.  It was folly to hand out the Hourai elixer without a backup plan to stop an angry immortal human.  So letting them capture the princess was unacceptable.

Secondly was her own life.  She liked living.

Third was Reisen, Tewi and the other rabbits of Eientei.  Reisen of course deserved a number all to herself, but the moon rabbit had changed.  She was unlikely to abandon her comrades again.

Tewi on the other hand could look after herself.  And would.

Last came the rest of Gensoukyo.  She had a fondness for the place after all.

Unfortunately matters weren't as simple as saving one or the another.  Hiding would protect Kaguya, herself and the rabbits at the expense of Gensoukyo.  But the Lunarians would surely return later, and without the rest of Gensoukyo to aid Eientei, they'd be doomed.

Fortunately she had a guess as to her opponent's plans.  He'd be doing the exact same thing she was doing, but he wouldn't be putting the pieces together and figuring out how to attack the whole.  Lord Tenshou would just guess at her weak point and target it.

The only difficulty was guessing how he'd get it wrong.  There's only one right answer, but there are an infinite number of wrong ones.

Eirin had always worried about her ability to be cold blooded.  It was not a positive trait morally.  But it was incredibly useful.  And right now it allowed her to guess her opponent's plans, and to triage things appropriately.

Even if that cut might mean her own death.

She stood up and walked to where Reisen was working on organizing the earth rabbits into patrols.  They'd started listening to her when they realized their skins were on the line.  The fact that Tewi had been the soul of obedience had probably scared them into following orders as well.  Princess Kaguya was of course watching the whole affair, trying to keep her spirits up.

?Udongein, could you spare a moment?? Eirin asked.

?Ah yes master!  What do you need?? Reisen replied.

Eirin smiled at her student.  ?I want you to take over the distribution of the army.  In full.  You'll be in charge of the Princess' defense.?

?What!??  Everyone in the room was staring at her now.

Kaguya stood, ?What are you doing, Eirin??

Eirin steeled herself for the fight ahead.  ?I trust Reisen to lead the rabbits in war.  She can hold back the Lunarian's moon rabbit armies easily, and if they bring in more people she can organize a fighting retreat with Tewi's help.?

Kaguya shook her head.  ?I know I can trust Reisen.?  Reisen perked up immediately at that.  ?But I can't trust you Eirin.  You'll do a lot of stupid stuff just to keep me out of a fight.?  Kaguya's expression softened and Eirin felt some of her willpower weakening as the princess moved close to her.  ?I'm truly immortal Eirin.  And I'm skilled in combat now.  Mokou's seen to that.  I don't need to be hidden away.?

Eirin sighed.  ?I understand princess.  It's just I don't want to see you hurt.?  Then she smiled.  ?But I'm afraid I have a good reason for this.?  She turned to Reisen.  ?Udongein, if you were Lord Tenshou how would you use your power to plan your assault on Eientei??

Reisen thought for a moment.  ?I'd either ask how to position people to keep Eientei from disturbing the battle, knowing I could finish them off later, or I'd ask for a plan to eliminate you master.?  She thought another moment.  ?He wouldn't know that Princess Kaguya and I are both as dangerous as we now are, and he wouldn't know about Tewi at all.?

Eirin nodded.  ?So you see, if we want to avoid his plans we have to make it so both his most likely options are flawed.  Either he ignores Eientei and gives you a chance to attack him, or he tries to contain Eientei and allows me to take him by surprise.?

Kaguya gazed deeply at Eirin's face, then embraced her tightly.  Eirin's gut twisted as she felt Kaguya's tears start falling.  ?Eirin you idiot.?

Eirin folded the princess in her own arms.  ?Kaguya...  I don't want to leave you all here.  But this is the best plan....  Please believe in me.  I'll make it back, I promise.?

Kaguya's grip just tightened.  ?I hate it when you lie to me.?

Eirin closed her eyes.  ?I promise I'll do everything I can.  I'll use every trick I know.  If that's not enough... then staying here won't change anything.?

Eirin felt Reisen embrace her from behind, and her heart twisted again.  ?Master.  Be safe.?

?You two take care of yourselves,?  Eirin said.  ?I want to have a home... a family to return to.?

Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #46 on: January 08, 2011, 07:53:57 PM »
*fangasm*!

Keep up the good work, this story is amazing. If some Lunarians have powers to negate other's powers, how can any of the youkai present be useful? I'm worrrriiieeedd~  :ohdear:

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Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #47 on: January 11, 2011, 04:02:25 AM »
?People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them."

He had born many names over the years.  Lord Tenma, the Tengu God, the Great Tengu.  Currently Great Tengu was the most popular, though the other tengu elders knew he was more a living legend then a pure youkai at this point.

He had led his people to safety when the human world turned against them, and he had kept them strong and safe in their mountain abode.  They'd weathered the various storms of history largely untouched, continuing their millenia long way of life.  Some things had changed.  The old gossip mills being replaced by newspapers, and the faces of those around him.  But the tengu were strong.  Like the crows of the outside world they survived.

Thus he had already been thinking about how to turn the most recent situation to his people's advantage even before the former guardians of the land came to him.  He already knew what his answer must be.

Still it couldn't hurt to hear their case.  He was not such a fool as to ignore information when it made itself available.

There was a clap outside the shoji door, and his personal guard Momiji called in, ?Great Tengu, forgive the intrusion but Aya Shameimaru is here with emissaries.  Ran Yakumo, Chen Yakumo, Renko Usami and Maribel Hearn.?

The Great Tengu was mildly surprised at that.  He'd figured Ran would have used Maribel as a front.  Perhaps Aya had cautioned them against that?  Or perhaps there were other factors in play.

?I have been expecting them.  Please bring them in.?

Momiji opened the door and led the five supplicants into the room, then moved to his side to stand guard.  A formality, but one earned by the wolf tengu.

Aya sat in front of the group, but slightly to the side, indicating she was here simply because she thought her lord should hear the other supplicant?s words.  To the Great Tengu's surprise both the humans sat alongside Ran, with her Shikigami sitting behind both Ran and the woman that, if the pictures were to be believed, was Maribel.  They each bowed before sitting.  Not as deeply as perhaps they should, but he didn't really care, and making a fuss about protocol wouldn't benefit him right now.  No, given the serious looks and smoldering rage in Maribel's eyes, pleasant conversation would be best.

?Thank you for bringing me these illustrious guests, Aya.?  The Great Tengu put on his best smile.  ?I apologize for not speaking to you personally when you started your tours of Gensoukyo, Maribel Hearn, Renko Usami.  I thought I would have more time to learn about you before a formal meeting.?  He paused and allowed a concerned frown to show.  ?However, it seems events have conspired to force me to reconsider that.?  He looked out the window over the new lands that had been revealed.  ?I assume you came to speak to me about the barrier's collapse??

Ran spoke first.  ?No.  We came because Gensoukyo is about to be invaded.?

Straight to the point.  They were very concerned then.  ?I see.  It's the Lunarians I suppose??

Maribel opened her mouth, frowned and kept her silence.  Still the Great Tengu noticed.  Apparently she was taking this war personally.  Then again perhaps she had a reason to.  Her friend, Renko spoke instead.  ?Yes.  A faction of them apparently.?

?I've heard rumors,? the Great Tengu said, leaving silent that the 'rumors' had come from Aya herself.  ?Still why do you think the Tengu would be involved in this war??

?They're willing to kill an entire planet full of humans because they annoyed them.  What do you think they'll do to someone they find dangerous?? Maribel snapped.

The Great Tengu nodded at the point.  ?Hm... True.  Still groups are more likely to strike out at the weak then the strong.  Momiji, your opinion??

Momiji maintained her watch over the room while stating, ?They're almost certainly right.  The Lunarians have never known defeat.  And they know we can mitigate any gains they make.  If they wish to humble the youkai they must defeat us.?

He nodded.  Nothing he hadn't already thought of, but it was good to have it confirmed by another who he trusted.  ?Then it seems that we will be part of the war whether we choose to fight or not.?  Now came the hard part.  ?I thank you for your warning.?

?Then you'll gather your army and join with us?? Chen asked happily.

He sighed.  He didn't want to dash that hope, but he had to.  ?No.  The armies of the tengu will gather, but we will not march.?

?Why not!?? Maribel yelled.  ?You said yourself they'd be coming for you.  Why do you think sitting in one place is going to help you win??

The Great Tengu's smiled thinly.  ?Do you know what the tengu nation's biggest weakness is?? he asked.

?You're arrogant?? suggested Renko.  Somehow, she managed to take the bite out of the insult though.  In fact the Great Tengu almost thought he saw Momiji's lips twitch.

?Hm, no.  Our confidence can trip up individual tengu.  But as a group?  Well...?  He turned to Aya.  ?Who's my successor Aya??

Aya blinked and stared at him.  ?You don't have a successor.?

?Exactly.?  He sighed and turned to Ran.  ?The tengu don't base inheritance off bloodline, they base it off worthiness.  Far superior to the human model,?  He chuckled wryly.  ?However, some unique circumstances has led to my current problem.  Aya, which living Tengu has seen the greatest number of battles??

Aya looked confused.  ?Momiji has seen 17 battles.  Amuro has seen 13.  Only Momiji has fought in a war past the creation of the barrier, and then only as a partial combatant.?

The Great Tengu smiled.  ?Now now Aya.  I know you've fought in 21 battles.  Admittedly you claimed to be reporting, but I know your desire to meddle is greater then your reporter's integrity.?  The four visitors all looked at Aya with varying levels of surprise at that.  ?In addition I know both you and that Hatate girl defeated an Oni in danmaku.  An impressive feat, even if it was a game.?

?Still you two both lack the political capitol needed to rule.?  Which was the nice way of saying Aya was almost considered an outsider despite her elder status, and Hatate was barely into full adulthood, and still unmarried.    ?And I find that those who have the connections to rule successfully have equally well connected enemies who have equally dull resumes.?

?That's the long and short of it.  No living tengu other then myself has had the opportunity to show the skills required for leadership.?  He looked out the window again.  ?Especially not in a time of exploration and growth like this era will come to be.  I could make a good guess as to who would be suitable, but the other tengu wouldn't just follow them.?

He turned grimly to Ran.  ?In short if the Lunarians kill me there will no longer be an army of tengu.  Just several squabbling clans who will most likely retreat to their homes to protect their own families.?

?Are you saying you don't trust your people to not abandon their posts in the middle of a war?? Maribel asked.

?Not if 'their post' needs to be constantly coordinated with headquarters,? the Great Tengu said sternly.  ?This isn't a human war, with two armies meeting on the field of battle.  This will be a series of skirmishes.  Youkai and Lunarians hunting each other through Gensoukyo, each hoping to find someone weaker then themselves.  If the armies know that there's someone guarding their families while they hunt then everything will be fine.  But without a leader...?  He shrugged.

?I don't get it,? Chen said.  ?How does sitting around doing nothing help??

The Great Tengu turned to the Shikigami.  ?Because with my armies concentrated they can't eliminate me easily.  I can lure them into traps as they try.?

Ran looked like she'd swallowed something bitter.  ?That might work against a normal foe, though I pity those of us stuck outside while you slowly trap Lunarians.  But we have good information that the leader of the enemy army has the ability to know how to disperse his forces perfectly.  'To know where people need to be to maximize success.'  A trap won't work against him unless you cause them to think irrationally.?

The Great Tengu turned around to conceal his reaction.  THAT he had not heard.  His mind spun rapidly as he considered what that meant for his plans.

He did not like the answer he received.

Without turning he replied.  ?That news makes the trap my only option.  Out leading the troops I would be too far from reinforcements.  Here I can avoid being ambushed by a great number of troops.?

There was a shuffling behind him, then Renko's voice.  ?That doesn't seem quite right.  Wouldn't you do better with more variables in play?  Sitting here away from the chaos of war makes you an easy mark.?

?And there's not much stopping the Lunarians from just wiping out everyone else and getting to you later after a rest,? snapped Maribel.

The truth of the words stung the Great Tengu.  But his path remained the same.  Or at least similar.  He managed to hide his emotions and turned back to his guests.  ?I'm afraid my path is set.  We will form our armies here, and attempt to lure as many Lunarians in as possible.  I'm sorry if that harms your personal plans.?

?You id~,? Maribel's outburst was cut off by Ran putting a hand on her shoulder.  The fox looked at him with narrowed eyes, then nodded.

?We're sorry for wasting your time then.?

The Great Tengu bowed.  ?You did not waste it.  I apologize we couldn't come to a closer agreement.?

The five rose to leave, but he raised his hand.  ?I will say this though.  Any Tengu who wishes to fight in the rest of Gensoukyo has my permission to do so.  If you want to battle at your friends' sides Aya, you have full leave, as does any one who joins you.?

?Thank you Great Tengu,? Aya said before exiting with the others.

He sighed and sat down again as the door shut behind the crew.  He sat in silence for some time, occasionally looking out the window, wondering if his calculations were correct.

After a few minutes he noticed Momiji was silently watching him.

?You do not approve,? he said.

?No.  I do not understand the choice,? Momiji replied.

The Great Tengu liked Momiji.  She was admittedly a little young, but she was the most faithful and skilled wolf tengu on the mountain.  The reason for that annoyed him admittedly.

Wolf tengu, unlike their crow tengu cousins, didn't do well in small spaces.  There were always less wolf tengu then crow tengu.  This had been fine in the days of yore when the tengu lived all along the islands of Japan.  But as their territory shrunk to the lands of Gensoukyo it had become a serious problem.  Their numbers were tiny.  Perhaps 28 families.

The wolf tengu of course had instituted a series of arranged marriages to make sure their species survived.  Bloodlines were traced and the pairings were designed to keep them healthy.  There were hiccups here and there but it worked out well.  For most people.

The problem was that there were always more girls then boys.  One of those quirks of nature.  Boys just had a slightly higher fatality rate during childhood.  Which meant there were always four or five women who were never going to have a suitable partner of similar age.

As time passed those fighters tended to either set off as lone wolves, or turn completely to their duties.  Those that stayed with the rest of the tengu had become something of an elite fighting force, willing to give their lives to protect their fellow pack mates.  In many cases perhaps overeager to do so.

Momiji was one of those women.  The eldest now in fact, which was why she was guarding the Great Tengu personally.  He approved greatly of the woman.  She was as fanatically loyal as her predecessors, but considered death to be a sign of a failed strategy.  And she was willing both to state her opinion and admit that she might be wrong.  These were all excellent qualities in his mind.

Which is why he gave in to that stare and admitted what he could not to the outsiders.  Not even to loyal tengu like Aya.

?There is more to the matter.  If I die without a clear successor, invasion or no, then the tengu will scatter to the winds.?  He pointed at the sky of the outside world, no longer behind a barrier.  ?We are creatures of the wind.  Most of my political power comes from the fact that there was nowhere else to go.  I imagine several young tengu, and perhaps a few older ones, are starting to realize they can pack up and take their family out into the world.  To a place where they don't have to listen to the Great Tengu's boring speeches and annoying edicts.?

He moved to where his writing table was.  ?In fact we'll lose some families anyway, just because we tengu are curious.  And that is a good and just thing.  But if I die, and there's a leadership gap... well then everyone will think of leaving.  After all, why fight the Lunarians to defend those other youkai?  The ones that pester us almost as much as the humans??

?I see,? Momiji said slowly.

He nodded to his guard then picked out a brush and a piece of paper.  It was time for a final decision.

The words came to him easily.

The leaves turn once again
Bare branches fall to the floor
New life arises


He nodded.  Poor, but sincere.

?Call in Aya, I have a proclamation to make.?

----

Aya shook her head as they left.  ?I'm sorry.  Something must be up that I don't know about.  I've been running around the rest of Gensoukyo too much.  I'll see if I can find people to help but...?  Her shrug indicated what she thought of her chances.

?Not your fault, Aya,? Ran replied.  Her bitter expression hadn't vanished however.  ?Still that's a serious blow to our plans.  We'll have to try to spread their forces thin and confuse them now.?

Renko sighed.  ?Didn't we just say that wasn't going to work??

?As Flandre pointed out, knowing how to split your forces doesn't matter if you don't have enough forces to split,? Ran said.  ?We have to try to make them overextend.?

?Isn't there anyone else?? Maribel asked.  She seemed to be slipping back towards her depression.  Not too surprising considering how anger and determination were probably the only things keeping her up Aya thought.

Chen shook her head.  ?Not any armies.?

?But there are a few more people we can ask for help,? Ran said.  ?And we'll want to confer with our known allies as well.  I think we should split up now though.  I should go with Maribel to see Chireiden and the Netherworld.  Chen and Renko should check in with the SDM and see about some of the stronger youkai out there.?

Chen's tailed lashed a bit.  ?Aw... I was hoping to try to make that rabbit into my shikigami.?

Ran rolled her eyes, ?She's better off at Eientei.  Rabbits need groups.  And you should get to know someone a little better before making them a shikigami, Chen.?

Renko frowned.  ?Why that split??

?Because you'll need a guide, and I need to stick close to Maribel so she doesn't break the laws of reality again,? Ran said with a mild glare.

Maribel brightened a little at that.  ?Well it turned out for the best, right??

Renko pushed her friend's nose.  ?That doesn't mean you should ever try something like it again.  You could have died!?

Maribel winced at her friend's vehemence.  ?Sorry Renko.  I promise to be more careful,? Maribel replied.

?We'll meet at the temple of Myouren,? Ran said.

?Why not the Hakurei shrine?? Maribel asked.

Ran smoothed her tails, ?Because I want to see if they're willing to fight,? she sighed. ?And because I want the Lunarians to forget that the Hakurei shrine exists.?

?We can only hope,? said Renko.

Iced Fairy

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Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #48 on: January 11, 2011, 04:03:17 AM »
?He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good.?

Alice's dolls fluttered about the massive dining hall where her family had gathered, arranging things here and there.  Normal people would have fidgeted, but to Alice making the dolls pace nervously in her stead was as natural to her as breathing.

Finally Patchouli and Koakuma sat up.  ?There.  Could you check the work Alice??

Dinah also stood from where she was reading, and came to look over at the spell.  Most of it was fiendishly complicated on a conceptual level, like a lot of Patchouli's spells, but Alice had gotten used to the style over the years, so she knew where to look for the runes that needed to be part of the spell.  After a few checks she nodded.  ?You've got the symbols perfect.  I'm not sure exactly how the mansion transfer works, but since that's a duplicate of a spell that pushed through the Hakurei barrier the jump should work just fine.?

?I don't know why you're talking about running away,? Flandre said sharply from the head of the table.  ?They aren't going to leave the basement alive.?

Juri frowned at the vampire.  ?My Lady, what if one of the intruders has the ability to summon rain, or sunlight?  It would be best to be prepared so you aren't hurt.?

Flandre sighed and put her head on the table.  ?Hmph.  Like I'd lose to some stupid failed humans....?

?Ah excuse me, Lady Flandre??  Everyone turned to see Huian enter the room and bow.  ?We have an emissary here to see us.?

Alice raised an eyebrow.  ?An emissary??

Huian motioned behind her and a shaking rabbit stepped forward.  ?I ah!  I, um.  Iwassenthere to bring you an offer of pardon from the moon,? she finally squeaked out.

There was a brief silence as everyone stared at the rabbit.

Then Flandre snickered.  ?Pardon?  For what, scaring them??

The rabbit gaped, ?Um, I don't, that is to say... here's the letter!?  She held forth a sealed note with trembling hands.

Marisa cast a quick spell to check for traps.  ?Looks clean.?

?Well, I never expected that spell to actually have a good use,? Patchouli said.

?Hey, I don't see you complaining now that books are being added instead of removed,? Marisa replied.

Alice sent one of her dolls to grab and open it.  ?Check it again.  Best not to take chances.?  Marisa shrugged and complied, then Alice moved to where Flandre was sitting with the doll trailing behind.

Flandre grabbed the note, leaving Alice and Juri to read over her shoulders.  ?Let's see... 'Not guilty of crimes against the moon.'  Hah!  Isn't existence a crime according to those jerks?  'Tolerate your continued presence.'  Like they've got a choice.  'Offer of safe passage to other locales.'  Tch.?  She turned her gaze to the rabbit who jumped backwards.  ?So basically the head jerk of the moon says we can run away and he won't chase us??

The rabbit just stood there and shivered.  She was looking around for escape routes and wasn't finding any.  Flandre tended to worry people, Alice mused.  However, it seemed this girl arrived scared.  That could be useful.  She still didn't like using fear as a negotiating tool.  It was uncouth.  But then so was blowing up the Earth because you thought the humans were lowering your property values.

?Talk little rabbit!? Flandre said, her movements setting her wings tinkling.

The rabbit tried to jump back, only to be caught by Huian.  It struggled briefly for a moment, but there was no escape from the youkai's grasp.  After a bit of futile struggling the moon rabbit broke down and started crying.  ?Uuuah!  Ple~, please don't kill me!  I taste bad.  I don't like the new people in charge!  I~ I didn't do anything!  They sent me here to die, just because my father didn't go through with the plan to kill the humans!  Please don't eat me!?

Everyone in the room winced at that.  Though Alice admitted for some people she couldn't be sure if it was from guilt or because of the racket the rabbit was making.

?Silence,? Juri said calmly and coldly.  The rabbit girl shut her mouth instantly, though she was still quivering in fear.

That handled her family all looked around at one another, judging what their next course of action should be.  ?So what's the proper way of saying 'I hope you all die, and I'm going to try to be the one that kills you?'? Marisa asked.

Alice shrugged.  ?Well the first question is do we want to even send them back a message??

?Oh we want to send back a message,? Flandre said leaning back.  ?After all, we want to kill as many of them as possible to help our friends right?  So we want to make them angry.?

Alice considered for a moment.  ?Then we probably don't want to be proper anyway.  If our goal is to insult them as much as possible....?

?Oh, I can do that!? Marisa said with a smile.  ?Let me start on something.  Should probably add unnecessary profanity too...?

?Don't overdo it,? Patchouli said.  ?There are plenty of ways to insult them without resorting to crass language.?

As the two began working on the best way to declare war on someone Alice turned her attention back to the rabbit.  ?So what should we do with her?  We can't send her back.  That would be showing weakness on our part.  They'd be more likely to ignore us.  We need them angry and a little scared.?

The rabbit whimpered, but kept silent.

Flandre rubbed her hands together.  ?Hm... and the Lunarians don't care about prisoners.  Still they don't need to know what happened to her.  And it might be fun having a pet rabbit.?

Huian nodded.  ?We could use more staff I suppose.  Though we'd have to keep her under key until we'd destroyed the lunar army.?

?Ah, while she's kind of pathetic, I do remember that moon rabbits can communicate over long distances with those ears,? Dinah said pointedly.

Juri raised an eyebrow.  ?I see.?  She drew her sword.  ?Well that's unfortunate.?

The rabbit's eyes grew wide, but Huian struck a pressure point, rendering the youkai mercifully unconscious.

Alice nodded at her daughter.  ?Messy.  But that gives me an idea.?

---

Byakuren smiled slightly as Unzan moved Ichirin to a open futon at the side of the room.  The woman could use the rest.  Really they all could, but Byakuren was adept at altering her bodies limits.

The smile faded as she turned back to her work.  Eirin had taken in a number of the wounded they'd found, and the villages scattered about had taken in a great number more, but there were only so many that could be healed.

And so it was the temple's duty to take in the dying.

Byakuren carefully checked the last two patients in the room, making sure the survivor was comfortable, and carefully drawing a white sheet over the one that had passed away.  She then walked out back to the well, to purify herself before checking in on the rest of the temple and starting the rounds again.

The moon shone brightly on the white rocks of the garden.  Byakuren moved to the solitary well, carefully drew the bucket out from the well by hand, then poured the cold water over her body.  Fortunately she could dry herself magically, so she didn't have to waste time changing between outfits.  She repeated the process twice more, before returning the bucket and turning towards the presence that had been cowering in the corner of the gardens.  ?You can come out now.  Violence will only come to those that bring violence with them in this temple.?

The creature that slowly stepped into the light was a rabbit youkai.  ?Um, are you Byakuren Hijiri??

Byakuren put on her most comforting smile, and stepped back to give the youkai some room.  ?Indeed child.  Forgive me for not finding you earlier, but we are busy with the wounded here.  Do you have a message from Eirin??

The rabbit shuddered and shook her head.  ?Forgive me, but I'm a rabbit in service to Lord Shimeiri of the moon.  I come bearing you an offer of peace.?

Byakuren paused.  So this was the face of their enemy?  The moon rabbit seemed to shrink from her gaze.  Perhaps their foes wanted to present a less aggressive face?  Or maybe they sent this one as a sacrifice?  Or maybe they just didn't care?

Still there was no reason not to hear their request.

?While I'm glad to hear about a possible truce between the Earth and the Moon, Toramaru Shou is still the leader of this temple.  I will lead you to her.?  Byakuren turned and headed into the temple, her heightened senses allowing her to easily make sure the rabbit youkai followed her into the temple.

She deliberately slowed as they passed the rooms where the wounded and dying lay.  Glancing back she tried to read the youkai's face for any sign that the rabbit noticed the pain and suffering it's masters had caused, but the youkai seemed focused entirely on Byakuren.  The fallen nun sighed, and continued down the long corridor of the grain silo turned ship.

As she entered the main temple she found Shou already there.  The woman was sitting and meditating in front of the statue of Buddha, the fires and reflected light giving her almost a halo of light.  Shou had been spending a lot of her free time in meditation after the barrier collapsed.  Byakuren was a little worried that the tiger youkai might be obsessing over something, but Shou had seemed merely contemplative when she was working, so Byakuren was unwilling to press the issue.

She reached out magically and rang the gong lightly to summon the rest of the temple.  Ichirin would probably still be sleeping, and Unzan would stand watch over her, but Murasa, Nazrin and Nue should be present as well.

Shou's eyes opened at the note from the gong.  She stayed in the lotus position but nodded to Byakuren before turning to the rabbit youkai.  ?Are you a supplicant??

?Um, I'm a messenger...? the rabbit youkai said, backing up again.

Her movement took her to the door, where she nearly bumped into Nazrin.  ?Oi, there's really only the one door, so could you please move?? Nazrin asked.  The rabbit jumped forward at the sudden voice, then stood looking around nervously in the middle of the room.

They'd definitely sent a paranoid messenger, Byakuren decided.

Nazrin walked up to where Shou was sitting and flopped down next to her.  The mouse youkai looked attentive, but irreverent.  Which was actually one of her jobs.

Nue flew in the door shortly after.  She'd abandoned her disguise when the barrier fell, though she still pretended to be a bird when she gave out her cry over the morgue.  Some things were just part of a youkai's nature.

Murasa was the last to appear, walking though the wall grumbling about missing her sleep.  The ghost set her anchor down and leaned on the wall across from Nue.

After Nue moved off to the side Shou spoke again., ?So what is the message??

The rabbit pulled out a piece of parchment.  She took a deep breath and attempted to read it as smoothly as possible.  ?It reads as follows: To the Myouren Temple.?

?I Lord Tenshou, now the ruler of the Lunarians, have unfortunately found myself in conflict with the people of Earth.  The Humans who intruded on the moon have been dealt with.  However there are those among the youkai who are even more guilty.?

?We are uncertain if you know, but several youkai invaded our beloved home, and slew many of our citizens in an unprovoked attack.  We thought we had punished those responsible for the action, and dropped the matter despite the injuries given to us, but we have learned that the instigator of those events, Yukari Yakumo, has made plans for her resurrection, and that several youkai groups are aiding in it.?

Byakuren narrowed her eyes.  This sounded a lot like propaganda.  Nue shifted, indicating she wasn't impressed either.  Nazrin was doing a good job of looking bored, while Shou's face had remained strangely impassive.

Murasa openly sneered.  ?Yeah right.  Avoiding the trip is easy, but the yama doesn't let anyone back.  She may be less then 10,000 years into her reign, but she's no slouch.?

The rabbit fidgeted at Murasa's comment but she didn't have a response.  After a moment she continued.  ?We understand that your temple is both a honorable place of worship, and favored by the deity Vaiśravana.  And we know none of the youkai here are responsible for the attack against the moon.  Thus we extend to you an offer of peace, so long as you neither actively support the youkai armies, or hide their warriors in your temple.?

Byakuren frowned.  ?What of the wounded??

The rabbit twitched, ?Um, I don't know.  That's all the message says.?

?I see.  Well, I have our answer.?

Shou stood and Byakuren's eyes widened.  The tiger youkai's halo wasn't off of the lights behind her.  She was radiating divine power openly!

Shou slammed her staff on the ground and the crackle of lighting filled the chamber, followed by the boom of thunder.  Only Nazrin didn't take a step back.

?Hear my words and repeat them to the dogs that claim to rule the moon!  I am Vaiśravana, ruler of the North, leader of the yassha!  I am Bishamonten, fortune of strength, god of warriors!  You have burned my temples, murdered my priests, and scorned my name.  Then you have the audacity to come to my house and speak of 'peace'?!?

Shou swung her staff to point at the emissary, who fell backwards in fright.  ?There is no peace between us!  You should have begged for my forgiveness, but you are too foolish and arrogant to even ask for my blessing!  Well, I have not been asked, but I shall give you my curse instead.  Know this Lunarian!  Your war will fail.  Your nation will die.  And though the skies may seem to rain with blood, your plans will come to nothing.  And I shall be there ensuring your defeat.  And I would say you will regret ignoring my words, but I know you are too arrogant to listen to them.?

Shou raised her staff.  The glow around her faded slightly, though it still was visible to the naked eye.  ?Did you hear all that??

There was a stunned silence for a few seconds, then Nazrin snickered.

Finally the rabbit managed to stammer out, ?Y~Y~Y~Yes!?

?Then get going and tell those chumps!? Murasa yelled.  Murasa watched the rabbit scramble from the room, then turned to Shou, ?Uh, sorry.  Didn't mean to steal your thunder there.?

Shou smiled.  ?It's okay Murasa.  I shouldn't get all the fun lines after all.?

?So, who are the yassha anyway,? Nue asked.

?Indian youkai,? replied Nazrin.  ?Also, took you long enough to figure it out boss.?

Shou laughed lightly, ?Well you know how dense I can be sometimes.?

Byakuren finally recovered enough to bow.  ?I hadn't realized the post was open so soon.  Well, I guess you really are officially the owner of the temple now, Lord Vaiśravana.?

?Ah!  It was all thanks to you Lady Byakuren.  Please don't bow so low!?  Shou waved her hands as if to brush off the praise.  Byakuren giggled at Shou, while Nazrin shook her head.

?Seriously, you've got a reputation to uphold now Shou.?  The little mouse gave an exaggerated sigh.  ?I'm only going to be around for another 30,000 years, so you've gotta get on your game.?

Shou just sighed deeply and looked at the ground.

Nue coughed lightly.  ?Sorry to dampen the mood, but we probably ought to work out a battle plan.  Since you did kinda declare war here.?

Murasa nodded.  ?I'm fine with just breaking the face of any Lunarian who comes in here, but there's probably a better strategy then that.?

Byakuren looked at Shou.  ?You seemed to have a moment of prophecy when you spoke to the emissary.  Any suggestions??

?Yes.  I don't remember the details, but I think I remember what we were supposed to do,? Shou looked at Nue first.  ?Nue you're the best of us at stealth and deception.  You're also a strong fighter.  You're going to go out and help the other youkai.?

Nue frowned, then reluctantly nodded.  ?I don't like going off on my own while you all fight together, but you're right.  I'm really good at sneaking places and confusing people.?

?Thank you Nue,? Shou said.  ?Everyone else should stay here and guard the temple.  We'll offer it as a refugee center to any human or youkai that wants to stay out of the battle.  Ichirin and Unzan will have to tend the wounded, while everyone else stands guard,? Shou continued.

?Eh?  But I wanted to get in on the fighting.? Murasa said.

Nazrin stood.  ?And what are you doing?  Just because you're officially my boss now doesn't mean you can ditch me whenever you want.?

Byakuren help up a hand.  ?Nazrin, we'll all be needed to guard the temple, won't we??

Shou nodded.  ?I think if there are enough of us they'll ignore the temple.  We don't have room to gather an army after all.  However we need to contribute to the battle as well.?  She patted Nazrin on the head.  ?I'm sorry Nazrin, but while Hijiri and Murasa have the strength, they just can't keep watch over enough places on their own.  They need you, your mice, and your dowsing abilities to be able to keep the place safe.?

?Yeah, hard to hit someone if you don't know they're there,? Murasa admitted.

Nazrin frowned deeply but nodded.  ?Alright.  But you be careful Shou.  Your power hasn't increased much, since Bishamonten's faith was mostly blown up.  You can still die.?

Shou lifted the jeweled pagoda.  ?I'll be careful.  But my enemies should be the ones fearing for their lives.  Sadly I think they lack the wisdom to even pay attention to me.?

---

Lord Tenshou frowned as Shimeri approached.  The man had the look of someone who was expecting to have to think quickly.  This did not bode well.  People who had succeeded rarely needed to search for explanations.

Still he had to ask.  ?What news??

?I fear our diplomacy has not born fruit,? Shimeri said.  ?The Myouren temple refused rather dramatically, and well...?  He pulled out a box and opened it.  ?This was found where our messanger was supposed to return to.  It bears the seal of the Scarlet Devil Mansion.

Lord Tenshou looked into the box and saw the severed ear of a moon rabbit, along with three scrolls.  'Disgusting,' he thought.

?Is there anything of worth on the scrolls,? he asked, ?or is it just more barbaric threats??

?The first is more barbaric insults My Lord.  I wouldn't suggest reading it unless you dislike your mother, and desire knowledge on the breeding habits of farm animals.?  Shimeri frowned.  ?The second scroll is a recipe for rabbit stew.?

Lord Tenshou knew he shouldn't ask, but he did anyway.  ?And the third??

Shimeri winced at that.  ?Another stew recipe, but with a... different main ingredient.?

Lord Tenshou pondered the meaning of that for a few seconds then unconsciously stepped back.  He shook his head.  ?While this will make our plans more difficult, it's perhaps a good thing we're going to destroy those devils.?

?Do you want me to prepare a detachment to assist with the attack there?? Shimeri asked.

?No.  Rabbits would just be a waste against them.  Was there anything of note in the Myouren temple's refusal?? 

Shimeiri shook his head.  ?The tiger youkai there made some claims to godhood, but nothing that should be considered of worth.?

Tenshou consulted his power again and nodded as the results returned unchanged.  ?Then your target remains Eientei.?

Iced Fairy

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Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #49 on: January 11, 2011, 04:07:04 AM »
My update size was going to be either long or short.  I chose long.

And since there's no way to explain this without an Authors note: In Buddhist mythology the gods are usually actually humans granted a position.  Positions like that of Vaiśravana (and likely Yamakandu) are held for 60,000 years.

I've, of course, also blended in some of Bishamonten's theology, recognizing the oddities that Shinto/Buddhist fusion creates.

Kasu

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Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #50 on: January 11, 2011, 10:12:48 PM »
Relieved that things got a bit better after Lord Tenma refused to aid with his army.

Can't wait to see where things go. :3

Apparently, Thomas the Tank Engine isn't one to take crap from anyone.

Alfred F. Jones

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Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #51 on: January 11, 2011, 10:52:05 PM »
Ran Yakumo waited. The lights above her blinked and sparked out of the air. There were Lunarians in the Gensokyo. She didn't see them, but had expected them now for years. Her warnings to Lord Tenma were not listenend to and now it was too late. Far too late for now, anyway.

... ahem. I do love the SDM's letters to Tenshou, especially the one about his mom. :P

Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #52 on: January 12, 2011, 01:45:58 AM »
To be honest, I don't blame Lord Tenma about his decision: it at least makes the tengu a viable fighting force rather than a group scattered to the wind. It does look like he's going to try to do something to help the war effort, though. I'm a bit worried about Shou heading out to battle, though, especially with Jiyuwan still out there.

Speaking of Jiyuwan, I thought it a bit odd that he expressed his loss of strength mathematically: it didn't strike me that he would think in such a way. Then again, it's actually kind of a relief and interesting, since it implies that his strength in finite, and has levelled out at that point.

Also, Chen wants rabbit. Yum.

Iced Fairy

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Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #53 on: January 12, 2011, 02:33:20 AM »
Speaking of Jiyuwan, I thought it a bit odd that he expressed his loss of strength mathematically: it didn't strike me that he would think in such a way.
He's just repeating what the people who actually know medicine told him.

Quote
Also, Chen wants rabbit. Yum.
Sadly this plot arc was cut for brevity.  And because raising a shinigami really deserves a full stand alone story.

Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #54 on: January 12, 2011, 02:45:19 AM »
Sadly this plot arc was cut for brevity.  And because raising a shinigami really deserves a full stand alone story.
Then the obvious solution is to make a stand alone story about Chen raising a shikigami. Hey, don't cry about having even more stories to write, blame yourself or God.

Though, now, the typo of "raising a shinigami" has me thinking of Shikieiki or Komachi having to raise the sisters a la "Princess Maker" before they become full fledged shinigami...

Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #55 on: January 15, 2011, 01:44:57 AM »
This thread isn't on first page anymore! What a blasphemy! This story is great :D

I kind of foresee Lord Temna dying, wars come at a great cost, there's already been huge losses for the humans, and I imagine the tengu will also be affected in a similar manner.

Iced Fairy

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Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #56 on: January 15, 2011, 01:51:37 AM »
Maribel looked around the huge antechamber.

She wished she could have come here earlier.  Right now she was impressed by the massive stained glass windows and huge pillars, but she couldn't enjoy them.  She sighed then looked at Ran.  “So where's the person in charge?”

“I don't know.  She doesn't exactly have a throne room or anything.”  Ran looked about.  “Ah, just a reminder, the ruler of this place is a satori.”

Maribel nodded.  “Right, so she can read hearts.”

“It's more then that.  She can read your thoughts, and she can't really help but blurt them out or answer them directly.  This is going to be an annoying conversation for you,” Ran said.

That did sound annoying to her.  Maribel glanced at Ran, “Why not annoying for you?”

“Well, I'm a fox, so I don't care if I talk when I communicate.”

Maribel wasn't sure if that explained everything or nothing.

“Oh, hello there aunty.  What are you doing here with a human?”

Maribel jumped at the sudden sound behind her while Ran's tails bristled.  Spinning around she saw three young girls in dark dresses staring at her.  Each had a set of cat ears in addition to their normal ears and they were all staring at Maribel with curious, predatory eyes.  They seemed like the feral equivalents of Chen.  Still none of them looked older then Kanon, and they weren't overtly hostile. 

Ran smoothed out her tails.  “I see you've gotten better at sneaking up on people, girls.”  The three grinned at Ran's rebuke.  “Maribel, this is Io, Hiso, and Sanso.”  Sadly Ran made no indication as to which was which.  Maybe she was afraid of getting it wrong?  Ran turned back to the trio.  “We're here to see Satori.  Or your mother if she's about.”

The triplets nodded.  “Mama and Satori are with Lady Reiuji,” Io (?) said.

“When the barrier went down Utsuho went a little crazy.  Apparently she got overwhelmed with faith,” Hiso (?) added.

Ran's eyes opened wide at that and her ears flipped back.  “She's alright now though right!?  She's not planning on scouring the surface world again, right?”

“Again!?” Maribel asked.

“Nah, she was able to give most of the faith to the goddesses up top,” Sanso (?) said.  “But mama and Miss Satori are helping her still.  She said it was like having a million people screaming for mercy in her mind.”

Maribel shuddered at the girls calm explanation.  She could barely begin to imagine the horror that must have gone through people's minds.  To have a million of them blaming you personally....

Then a thought arose from her mind.  Perhaps she could find a way to make the person responsible for this hear that before he died.

She shuddered and hid that thought away.  She didn't like what it said about her.

Maribel started again when one of the girls spoke up.  “Anyway, do you want us to bring Miss Satori here?  It's gotta be kinda important if you didn't send Chen.”

Ran nodded.  “Yes, thank you.  We can go to them if they need to stay with Utsuho.”

“Nah, the bird brain is probably sleeping now.  We'll go find out.”  The three girls took flight and disappeared down a hallway.

“We should go find a room to sit in,” Ran said, heading down another corridor.  “It's a fair distance to the reactor.  They'll be a little while.”

After a little while they found a sitting room with a fireplace going.  A dog in the room looked up but went back to sleep when Ran yipped politely at it.

After the first five minutes Maribel reached into a gap and grabbed a book.  She wasn't sure how much she'd be able to read, but it would give her something to do other then sit and be miserable.

About twenty minutes later the door opened.

Maribel immediately guessed this was the satori.  While the body of the youkai was that of a short woman or girl, the strange heart eye that floated around her looked almost exactly like the pictures of the legendary monster.

She walked in and bowed.  “Nice to meet you Ran, Maribel.  Utsuho is doing fine now, and yes Maribel we Satori can't be killed unless the person empties their mind.  But we can still be hurt very badly.  So please don't try it.”

And now Maribel began to understand what Ran meant when she suggested the conversation might be annoying.

“Ah sorry.  It's been awhile since I talked to anyone except my pets.  I'll try to let you get in a word edgewise,” Satori said as Maribel opened her mouth.  Maribel sighed.  Clearly this was going to be a very one sided conversation.  Satori looked over at Ran.  "Ah, yes please do."

Ran nodded.  “This is a formal meeting so I need to speak the words.”  Ran closed her eyes as she often did when focusing on a spell, then said, “As Gensoukyo no longer officially exists our pact between the members of the underground and the Yakumo family is hereby complete.  You may walk about the surface as you see fit, though we will not protect you on your necessary journeys.”  Ran smiled.  “I'd offer to help guard the city of the ancients, but really now that the oni are here that'd be an empty gesture.”

Satori smiled in return.  “Indeed.  Anyone who can get through the entire oni race will not be stopped by force of arms alone.” 

She turned to Maribel.  “Yes, that's right.  We were banished down here for being 'disturbing.'”  Maribel flushed as she realized that her thought had once again been picked over.  “Oh, don't worry.  I don't find that insulting.  And your embarrassment speaks well for you.”

Maribel shook her head to clear it.  “We should probably get back to business.”

Satori nodded, “Yes.  So what brought you here?  A war?  Hm....”

Ran sighed.  “A war against the moon.  I know you can't really force the oni to fight.  But you, your sister and your pets are all fairly strong in unique ways.  Your help would be invaluable.”

Satori stood and began to pace.  “You aren't sure if you're going to win.  But you bear a lot of hatred for them.”  The sight on Maribel's burnt home appeared in her mind.  “Ah.  I'm sorry to hear that.”

This time Maribel was glad she didn't have to put her thoughts to words.

Satori sighed.  “As you said, I can't force any of the other underground youkai to fight.  I'm no real ruler.  The only reason I 'own' this place is because no one bothered to move us from our sleep when they relocated hell.  And no one but the oni are powerful enough to get me and my pets to leave.”  She looked at the two again.  “In fact I don't really have a reason to fight for the surface.”

“But because my pets have friends up there, I'll let them join you.  I'm a combat liability, and Utsuho shouldn't be allowed to fight directly right now.  But Orin can help.  And Koishi will join in even if I tell her not to.  Perhaps a few of my other pets will be interested as well.”  Satori shrugged.  “That's all I can offer.”

It didn't sound like much, but Ran seemed pleased.  “Good.  Those two should each be able to fight a Lunarian solo.  Just warn them not to underestimate their foes.”  Ran's confidence boosted her spirits a little.  Still Maribel wondered if there was some other way to get help.

Satori sighed.  “I'll try.  You know how those children are.”  She turned to Maribel again.  “And I'll put out word in the underground of the battle.  Some people may come out just for fun.”

“This isn't fun for some of us,” Maribel stated.

“I know,” Satori said with a sympathetic glance.

Ran stood, “This might be about justice, but you can't be picky about your allies.  Especially given a lot of us are, well, monsters.”

Satori nodded.  “Still, even most monsters find destruction on that level mildly disturbing.  These fallen Lunarians seem the equal in malice to any youkai.”

---

Renko was worried about Maribel, but hopefully being active would keep her friend's mind off things.  Chen set a quick pace to the Mansion, and soon they found themselves at the gate, where Huian was standing.

“Hello, Renko, Chen.  What did the tengu have to say?” the gatekeeper asked.

“They aren't going to leave their mountain,” Chen said with a bit of disgust.

Renko nodded grimly, “They said they'd try to help, but....”

“It won't be much,” Huian sighed.  “In that case I'm afraid we'll have to go on the defense too.”  She smiled a bit.  “Fortunately, I think we've managed to draw their attention.  I think we'll get our fair share of attackers.”

“Huh?” Renko looked at Chen, who seemed just as confused as she did.

Huian turned towards the front door.  “It will be easier to explain after I show you.  Besides, I believe Marisa wanted to speak to you about something, Renko.”

“Really?”  Renko wondered what that was.

The three headed to the main dining hall.  All the residents of the mansion seemed to be there, as well as a new girl.  Small with black hair and a bandage on her head.  Currently it looked like Juri was giving her instructions on how to polish silverware under Flandre's supervision.

The rest of the mansion, however, looked like they were preparing for battle.  Alice was inspecting a full contingent of armed dolls, checking every weapon.  Dinah and Koakuma were labeling potions and and other trinkets, and Marisa had acquired an ancient straight bladed sword, and a passel of wands.  Patchouli was just reading, but Renko recognized the book as one of the magician's more powerful grimoires.

Juri of course was focused purely on the silverware.

“Yes.  That's it, Flopsy.  Now, please demonstrate how to set a place properly.”

The girl winced and reached towards the bandage on her head, but Koakuma lightly slapped her hand away.  “Don't scratch it or we won't be able to regenerate your ears later.”

“Sorry Miss Koakuma,” the girl said returning to the silverware.  “But could you not call me that name?”

“I'm your master now, so your name is Flopsy,” Flandre said from the opposite side of the table.  “If you wanted a different name you should have asked your previous owner for one.”

Flopsy groaned but continued trying to place all the forks and spoons in their correct order.  Koakuma shrugged and said, “It could have been worse.”  Patchouli gave the little devil a look, but Marisa snickered.

“Wait, so is that a moon rabbit?” Chen asked.

Dinah nodded.  “They sent her here to demand our surrender, because they thought she was expendable.  We offered her a change of employers.”

Renko wondered how voluntary that change was, especially given the missing ears, and the rabbit girls obvious fear.  Still, she wasn't going to question a vampire in their own house.  She liked her blood to stay inside her.  And she trusted Huian and Marisa to keep people from being too hard on the girl.

Looking up from her book towards Renko and Chen, Patchouli asked, “I take it the tengu remained stubbornly isolationist?”

Chen sighed.  “Yeah.  I guess no one's gonna be surprised.”

“No, but I was hoping they'd be more reasonable,” Alice said.

“Still, we'll do our part,” Flandre said cheerfully.  “If there aren't enough of them fighting here, we'll go hunting outside for sure.”  She looked over at the magicians.  “Unless you people will change your minds and let us attack the capitol while they're out....”

“We've been over that.  That only works on opponents who have good communications.  It'd just be a waste for us,” Patchouli said.   “Besides I don't have a rocket ready.”

“Any word on the kappa?” Marisa asked.

Chen shook her head.  “They're in lockdown.  I bet Nitori's probably cooking something up, but she's pretty brave for a kappa.  The rest will probably just leave weapons out for the tengu.”

That drew a smile from Marisa.  “Well Nitori's sure to surprise someone.  Ah, speaking of surprises.”

The black white magician walked up to Renko.  Renko saw something pass over Marisa's face, before the woman reached into her hat and pulled out an octagonal box.  “I was gonna wait until you'd gotten a little better to give this to you, but, well....”  The woman looked away.  “A lot of things might happen soon.  So here you go, an early graduation present.”  Marisa dropped the little box into Renko's hands.

Renko stared down at the small box, easily recognizing the symbols carved into the metal.  Chen took in a deep breath beside her.  “That's...”

“A mini-hakkero,” Renko said in wonder.

“Marisa...”

“Mother.”

The magicians all seemed to be stunned by the item.  Even Flandre had stood and was looking over Renko's shoulder.  Marisa laughed weakly.  “It's not the original of course.  That's the one I made when I was figuring out how to repair mine, after Kourin passed away.  Still it'll add a whole lotta kick to your magic.  It's how I managed to fight people like Flandre when I was still a human.”

“That and being good at dodging,” Flandre said with a smile.

“I, I can't just take this,” Renko said.  “Isn't this an artifact?  I mean, it holds the undying flame.  It had to have taken years to make.”

Renko winced as Marisa rapped her on the head.  “Hey, didn't you learn anything from me?  Borrowing is an important skill for being a magician.”

“You're mistaking magicians for thieves again Marisa dear,” Alice said.

Marisa waved the comment off.  “Anyway if you're worried about it, you can give it back to me after you die.”  Marisa closed Renko's hand around the magical reactor.  “... and I don't want this back for a long time.  Okay?”

Renko looked at the faces around her, and for the first time she actually realized this was probably the last time they'd all be there.  This might be goodbye for all of them.  Tears started to sting her eyes.  She sniffed and brought the Hakkero up to her chest.  “Be sure,” she wiped her eyes quickly, “be sure that you're around to get it back it okay.  Make sure you're all here.”

There was a tinkling of crystals, and Renko felt two tiny arms fall on her shoulders.  “Don't worry about us, fate is on our side.  This time, anyway.  You just focus on taking care of yourself.  You're fun to have around.”  Flandre turned to Chen.  “And you should try to stay alive too little cat.  Ran would be no fun to taunt without you.”

Chen laughed as she wiped away some tears.  “Don't worry about me.  I've still got nine lives left.”

---

Suika'd appropriated a skyscraper for her drinking tonight.  The view was nice, if you didn't look down, and the concrete didn't really bother her much.  It would have been nice to see the city when it was all lit up though.  Maybe she could draw enough of the surviving humans in the area to pull that off.  She wasn't really sure how they generated the electricity however.

As the thoughts passed through her mind she took a long pull on her gourd.  She'd gotten into another fight with Yuugi.

She wondered which one of them was more messed up.  Yuugi for underestimating the Lunarians, or Suika for constantly fighting for other people's causes.

“'We'll fight when they attack our city, and not before.  We gave up on the surface world remember?'  Then what's the point of our strength?”  Suika sighed.  “Seriously, just because they can't beat us now doesn't mean it won't change in a couple generations.”

Her thoughts were interrupted as a girl flew out of the sky and landed next to her.

She looked over at her guest.  “Hey, is it alright for someone like you to be here?  After all heaven isn't supposed to interfere with mortal affairs unless it's 'necessary'.”

Tenshi shrugged.  “We're in charge of heaven, so if we do it, it was necessary.  That's why we're celestials.”  The girl sat down on the broken concrete of the roof.  “Besides it's not like anyone would notice and complain.  Heaven doesn't need so many celestials for so few humans, so the hunting shinigami are doing overtime.  Everyone's busy worrying about their own skin right now.”

“Hm?”  Suika laid back and stared up at the starry sky.  “So why are you out here?  I thought you liked the fighting?”

“Eh they're only allowed to attack me once a week, so most of them show up, swear, and then go somewhere else.  It's boring, so I decided to hide out for a bit.”

Suika chuckled.  “More like you don't want angry death gods around your family.”

Tenshi was silent.

Suika looked up at the moon.  She remembered the last time she'd gone there.  The event that had caused her to leave Gensoukyo for a time.  “So are you going to wander around and beat people up?”

Tenshi shrugged.  “Eh, I thought I'd hang around you.  I shouldn't be picking on weaklings.  And I'm not gonna mess around with the final conflict.  That'd piss off the Yama, and then I might get in real trouble.  I hear she got a new ferryman and a strong hunter shinigami just for this mess.”

Suika took another long pull from her gourd.  “You can do that if you want, but only if you promise me something.”

“Huh?  Promise you what?”

Suika closed her eyes.  “If I tell you to stay out of a fight, you stay out of it.  Understand?”

The celestial loomed over her, “Hm, why so serious all the sudden?”

Suika ignored the girl's confusion.  “Not gonna explain.  That's for them to do.  If they want to.”

Suika started as Tenshi grabbed the Oni's gourd and took a drink out of it.  “Fine,” Tenshi said, “but if I get bored I'll go play somewhere else.”

“Fine with me,” Suika said with a grin, causing Tenshi to bristle in annoyance.  The oni laughed.  She occasionally worried that Tenshi might be growing up, but obviously that wasn't the case.

----

As soon as Maribel entered the room Yuyuko moved to hug her.  She allowed herself to droop in the ghost's chilly but supportive arms.  “I'm sorry for your loss,” Yuyuko whispered.  “I wish I could have spoken to you earlier, but it seems you're very busy.”

“Yes,” Maribel managed to choke out.  There were no tears.  She was too tired for that.  But she let herself relax for a while.

Finally she sighed and pulled herself upright.  “Busy is one word for it.”

“I suppose you've heard?” Ran asked.

“Yes.  We're already starting to get some souls in already,” Youmi replied.

Maribel's gut twisted.  She wanted to ask but....

Yuyuko apparently saw her look.  “I'm sorry, but I can't tell you that.  The judges have become more strict now.  And to tell the truth, I don't think it would do anything but hurt you more.”

Maribel nodded.  She hoped her parents were here in the netherworld now, but Yuyuko was right.  Knowing that wouldn't make her feel better.

Right now she had to focus on her own survival.  And vengeance.

“They aren't going to leave Gensoukyo in peace either,” Ran said.  “We could use any help we could get.  I know your power Yuyuko....”

Yuyuko frowned and the chill around her increased.  “That power is best left dormant.”  Maribel was surprised.  She'd never seen the ghost look that agitated.  It passed quickly though.  “Besides the yama are all cracking down on rules.  Heaven isn't happy that the number of celestials is being reduced.  Thus any infractions from the lands of the dead will be judged harshly, to avoid people claiming favoritism.”

Maribel sighed.  “So you're saying you can't help either?”

“I'll help!”

The three all turned to Youmi who was starting to blush.  “I'm alive, well sort of.  At least I'm allowed in the world of the living.  So if I fight it's alright!  Um, if you'll let me Lady Yuyuko.”

Yuyuko pulled out her fan and pouted.  “But Youmi, I've arranged an omiai with a nice young man that day.  It would be so difficult to reschedule.”

Maribel's eyebrow twitched at the Yuyuko's hurt expression, and the half ghost's confusion.  Then she chuckled.  “Is being mean to your bodyguards a tradition?”

“Of course not,” Yuyuko replied.

“Probably,” sighed Youmi.

“Yes,” stated Ran.

Yuyuko folded her fan.  “You're no fun.”  Her expression turned serious again.  “But you have my permission to do as you see fit Youmi.  However you have to wait until the attack begins before venturing out.  I don't want Heaven knowing about our actions until it's over.  That way it will stay legal.”

Youmi nodded.  “As you demand Lady Yuyuko.”  She smiled at Ran and Maribel.  “Don't worry about that.  With my speed I'll be in the fray as soon as the battle starts.”

Maribel sighed in relief.  Another person who was actually on their side.  And probably for the right reasons.  “Thank you, Youmi.  And thank you, Yuyuko.”

“Thank me after the battle,” Yuyuko said softly.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2011, 05:09:52 AM by Iced Fairy »

Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #57 on: January 16, 2011, 03:50:31 AM »
The suspense! It burns! :ohdear:

I wonder what Renko will pull off with the mini-hakkero, and I wonder if we are going to see any of the Hakureis before/during the battle. And I assume Reimu just died and let the succession go to the next Hakurei? Right?

And I still wonder what was Yukari's original scheme.

Iced Fairy

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Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #58 on: January 17, 2011, 02:21:06 AM »
As Lord Tenshou spoke Jiyuwan looked around the assembled nobles of the moon.  He tried to get a sense of what they all were thinking.  His lord was lacking tenure, and Jiyuwan imagined there were several people in the crowd who might want to kill the man to take the throne.

However, it seemed those people were willing to wait to achieve that goal.  Most of the faces in the crowed were servile, bored, or eager.  There were but three exceptions.

Sareseno sat quietly in the upper seats writing his story.  His eyes were filled with grief and anger, but his focus was only on his writing.  He was no threat physically, and Jiyuwan was willing to ignore his threat politically.  He'd promised after all.

His lord's sister, Shoutoku, was far more more difficult to read.  She'd alternated between fiery rage at the earth and rage at her brother for no real good reason.  Jiyuwan was inclined to believe she was insane in fact, but this was a fairly recent occurrence.  The swordsman wondered if Lord Tenshou had revealed something that had set the woman off, but it was not his place to ask.  And he wouldn't get an answer anyway.  Strangely today she seemed to be looking at everyone with an expression of disgust.  Herself included.  Still, her posture was passive which meant she wasn't going to act now.  Jiyuwan kept an eye on her in case that changed.

Finally in the back his own son, Akiyoshi, stood presenting an impressive aura of confidence, but Jiyuwan could see from the boy's stance that he was uncertain.  However, it was not the uncertainty of an assassin, but the stance that the young man had when he was afraid he was going to disappoint someone.  It worried Jiyuwan, but he could not deal with that problem publicly.

Lord Tenshou finished his speech and most of the nobles applauded.  Jiyuwan hadn't listened to the speech closely, but he started paying attention now.

Now was when the plan was going to be discussed.

?I know you all would like to simply end this matter in one fell swoop, but I fear Eirin's sabotage has taken away our most potent weapons,? Lord Tenshou sighed.  ?Thus we must plan for a multi stage attack on the youkai of Gensoukyo.?  He pointed at a crude map of the new environs of Gensoukyo.  ?Our first attack will focus on making sure that a barrier can't be raised against us.  Lord Shimeri will lay siege to Eientei with most of the rabbits, preventing Eirin from sealing off the moon.  Meanwhile our main force will be deployed to remove the Yakumo and their lackeys.  I will lead that force personally.?

?However we need to make sure Gensoukyo's other forces don't interfere.  Thus I've assigned you drop points that best match with your abilities.  And I have a few special orders.?

There was some muttering at that, but everyone waited to see what those orders were before complaining too loudly.  After all, Lord Tenshou's power was well known.

Lord Tenshou pointed at the Youkai mountain.  ?First my personal bodyguard, Jiyuwan, will interfere with the Tengu.  He shall keep their army locked in place.?

The murmuring increased though it was more impressed now.  Jiyuwan had to admit he was slightly impressed as well.  Sacrificing your most loyal piece early in the game required courage.  It would make the rest of the demands more palatable.

Admittedly his Lord probably believed that he would simply strike the tengu and retreat after dealing some serious damage.  But Jiyuwan wasn't planning on retreating.  Unless he was ordered to of course.

His Lord continued  ?Chamaka, I need you to keep the fairies from running rampant.?

The man frowned.  ?I can understand how I'd be good at that but shouldn't that be a job for everyone??

?The youkai already outnumber us 40 to 1.  Adding the annoyance of a group of undying cannon fodder will only make the situation worse.? Lord Tenshou explained.  ?However you might be able to get the mindless creatures to actually understand fear.  That will take the pressure off of everyone.?

Chamaka sighed and shrugged.  ?Very well.  With luck my actions will draw the attention of a worthier foe.?

Lord Tenshou nodded.  ?Akiyoshi, I want you to...?

?Forgive me, but I will be acting on my own,? Akiyoshi said.  ?I disagree with your actions.?

Lord Tenshou started as if struck, but Jiyuwan had to fight to keep a smile from forming.

Akiyoshi straightened his posture and continued.   ?While I seek to find the traitors who murdered the Watatsuki sisters, I have no interest in this war against the youkai.  However I understand that it will, for better or worse, decide the fate of the lunar empire.  So I shall stand at the gate of the netherworld and guard it from both sides.  The honorable dead should not be leaving, and there will be no enemies attempting to hide there.  Anyone that attempts to pass the gate will face my blade.?

The boy then turned and left as the crowd called out after him.  Lord Tenshou looked over at Jiyuwan sternly, but all he could do was shrug.  He'd always told the boy to follow his own path.

Perhaps Akiyoshi would succeed where he had failed.

Lord Tenshou closed his eyes and rubbed them.  Obviously he was trying to replan things.  After a moment he nodded.  ?Very well then.  Taruma, Takiko.  I need you to guard this path here.  Lord Roun, I need you to take your forces and attack the Scarlet Devil Mansion.  After 15 minutes have passed.  One of our other attacks will likely cause the mansion to split its forces.  You will find them to be easier prey when split.?

The three people he named all looked confused, but it was Roun who spoke.  ?My Lord, I have 4 warriors.  Does a simple band of youkai really need 7 Lunarians to kill them all??

Jiyuwan decided it was time for him to speak.  ?These youkai are feared even by their peers.  The other youkai tried and failed to eliminate them.  While the attack was mostly by lesser youkai, they certainly have planned to fight off powerful invaders, and have practice in executing those plans.  You should consider them almost as dangerous as Eirin Yagokoro.?

Lord Tenshou waited for the three Lunarians to nod their understanding before continuing.  ?I have a few more select targets for some of you, and I want the rest of the army to drop where I indicate.  Remember your goal is to kill as many youkai as possible.  Do not worry about collateral damage either.  The Earth is tainted.  None of it's creatures are worth your life.

?Brother.?

Everyone turned to Shoutoku.  Jiyuwan once again noticed a fire in her eyes.  Finally he could place it.  It was the fires of revenge.

?Will I be placed near the oni?? she asked.

Lord Tenshou smiled.  ?Yes sister.  You will attack here.?  He stabbed at a location in the ruined city outside of Gensoukyo.  ?And here, you will kill Suika Ibuki.?

---

The shrine was bustling when Aya dropped onto the well swept grounds.  She shouldn't really be surprised, she supposed.  After all there was going to be a war.  And with the Great Tengu's proclamation....

She shook her head.  She could worry about that later.  First she cleaned her hands and mouth, then got in line for the offertory box.  Most of the tengu moved quickly, so she didn't really need to wait long.

Aya tossed the coins into the donation box then clapped twice and bowed her head.  She wasn't really sure if this was the best shrine for her prayer, but the gods here were a little better at service then most other shrines.

?You will find it more likely that your prayer will be answered if you don't think of us like a quick mart,? came a regal voice to her left.

Aya stepped to the side and bowed to the goddess.  ?Sorry, but it worked right??

The war goddess had obviously pulled out her old regalia.  Gone was the snake rope.  In its place was some solid looking chest armor, and the goddess was carrying the daisho as well.  Aya also guessed the large fan opposite the paired swords was a tessen.  Aya privately admitted she was a little impressed.

Kanako sighed.  ?Only because you have slightly more faith then the average supplicant.  And because I wish to change the outcome of this battle.?

?So will you give me an idea where I can help out most?? Aya asked the war goddess.

?Given that your army will not march at my command, normal tactics will be useless.?  The goddess pointed towards the forest of magic.  ?There is someone you know there who can answer your question better then I can.  The one you never wrote a story on.  Her prophecy holds your answers.?

Aya raised an eyebrow at that.  ?How did you...??

Kanako smiled.  ?Goddess.?

Aya doubted that was the truth, but she couldn't really argue, especially not in the god's own shrine.  So she simply bowed.  ?Well then I'd better get on it.  It might take her a while to remember the spell.?  She waved and took flight.

She took her time moving down the mountain.  The place seemed oddly quiet for a future battlefield.  Only the occasional kappa sealing their homes up or grouped tengu patrol showed how close war was.

Soon Aya was out of the mountains, into the forest beneath.  After a few moments she sighed and stopped.  ?Come out, Hatate.?

?Tch, you're getting too good at this.?

Her 'rival' reporter walked casually out of the shadows she was hiding in, cellphone camera out as always.  ?Don't bother asking me to go back, I'm getting a piece of this story no matter what.?

Aya considered pulling out her fan and making the other tengu mind her own business.  ?Aren't you more interested in the duels?  I mean, it's not every day that the Great Tengu proclaims he's going to fight an entire invasion force one on one.  And if he loses, he's offering his title to the tengu that beats his killer.  That'll be news for some time right??

?Exactly!?  Hatate pointed at Aya.  ?There's no way a reporter like you would ditch that unless there was something bigger going on!?

?Something bigger??  Aya looked at Hatate, then laughed bitterly.  ?Something bigger?  Of course there's something bigger going on!  All Gensoukyo is under attack!  This war will decide the fate of everyone left on earth, and we Tengu have chosen to be a very small part of that.?

Aya took a breath before barreling on.  ?So yes, there's something bigger going on.  Something so big I can't just sit it out and be a reporter.  The 'great tengu army' will be a diversion at best.  Ran is going to be the one on the front lines, and I'm going to find a way to help her and the rest of Gensoukyo out!?  Aya turned around and started stalking through the forest.  ?So there's no scoop here.  It's just another random youkai getting into a fight.  Nothing the tengu should care about.?

?Aya!?

Aya continued through the underbrush for a few minutes, Hatate doggedly pursuing her.  Finally she stopped and looked behind her.

The younger tengu stood their fidgeting.  ?Aya, I don't know why the Great Tengu is doing what he's doing.  And, well even if I'm not as close to the rest of Gensoukyo as you, I don't want to see them hurt.  But... I'm not good at fighting.  All I have is this camera and the ability to dodge danmaku.  That won't work long in a real fight.?  She started flipping her camera open and closed.  ?But I want to try to do something....?

Aya paused.  Hatate was right.  The younger tengu couldn't stand up to any foe who was capable of fighting, say, Momiji.  The kappa's camera could protect her from magical assaults, but not a sword between the ribs.

Aya turned around and sighed.  ?Fine.  Let's find out where I'm going first.  Then I'll see if I want you tagging along.?

The two were silent for the rest of the journey.  Finally Aya reached her destination.  A small house in a clearing, with smoke rising from the chimney.  That was a good sign.  It indicated that it's owner hadn't forgotten where she lived again.

?I don't remember ever seeing this place,? Hatate said as Aya knocked on the door.

?The magician here doesn't make a lot of waves,? Aya replied.

After a few moments the door opened.  The short magician there wore an outfit similar to Marisa's, but in red and white instead of black.  On her shoulder was a white cat, and instead of a witches hat she had a red ribbon tied in the rabbit ear style.  ?Oh hello!  Who are you two and what brings you here?? she asked.  ?Oh, and do you remember my name??

Aya ignored Hatate's snicker and simply replied.  ?We've met before, Ellen.  I'm Aya.  The girl behind me is Hatate.  And I'm here to get a fortune.  A real fortune.?

?Oh thanks!? Ellen replied.  ?Come in, come in.  I'll get some tea.?  Ellen waved them into the cluttered sitting room and cleaned off three chairs.

?Who is she?? Hatate whispered to Aya as the magician cleaned.

Aya smirked.  ?The best fortune teller in Gensoukyo.?

When the sudden cleaning was finally done and a pot of tea was acquired, the three women sat down, while the cat inspected them.  After it determined that Hatate was the most likely to be annoyed by cats, it jumped up on her lap and started purring.

?So you wanted a fortune from me?  How do you feel about tarot cards?? Ellen asked as she poured tea for her guests.

Aya picked up her cup and took a sip, smirking as Hatate found the cat was keeping her cup just out of reach.  ?Sorry Ellen, but like I said, I wanted a real reading.?

Ellen frowned.  ?Are you sure?  No one's ever happy when I give one of those.?  She smiled brightly again.  ?I could do tea leaves perhaps?  Everyone likes tea leaves.?

?No.  I need a real fortune,? Aya repeated.  ?Lives are at stake.?

Ellen sighed.  ?Well, I'll do it.  But only because you paid me.?

?Uh, we haven't paid you yet,? Hatate said.

Aya quickly put a bag of coins down, ?But we really need the fortune.?

Ellen nodded then stood up.  ?All right.  I hope it's worth it.?

The magician pulled out a grimoire from one of the many bookshelves around and started flipping though pages.  Hatate tried to shoo the cat off her lap a few times, then gave up and turned to Aya.  ?Shouldn't we tell her what we want answered??

?Hm... The best fortune tellers answer the question you should have asked,? Aya replied.  ?Not the one you wanted to ask.?

Ellen began reciting the spell.  The soft words began to blend together in the air, forming an almost palatable flow of magic in the room.

?Hmph, you'd think that it would be able to at least tell us who the great tengu will be,? Hatate muttered.

?It doesn't matter to you, for you cannot change it tengu.?

Aya and Hatate both stared at Ellen.  The small magician's eyes glowed with blue energy, and her posture had completely changed.

?The future has been decided.  Your foes' plans are inescapable.  When the war ends only the house of eternity, the shrine and the temple will remain in Gensoukyo.  This is unavoidable.  The rest of the great houses will be swept from the Earth.?

?What?!  Your answer is we can't do anything?? Hatate asked her mouth agape.

Aya shushed her.  ?What of our futures??

?There is only one future you two can change.  You two who know the power of truth and legend shall battle for the fate of a race, while twin moons look on.  There you and your allies will either shatter a moon, or the spirit of nature will die.?

Ellen's eyes shifted back to their normal color, and her shoulders slumped slightly.  ?So, do you regret it??

Aya shook her head.  ?I didn't like what I heard, but now I know where we need to go.?  She frowned.  ?I just hope Ran and Momiji can take care of themselves.?

Hatate looked over at Aya.  ?She said that only those Lunarians, the Hakurei shrine and the Myouren temple were going to survive this mess!  Then she told us to go fighting... somewhere!  How is that helpful?  Shouldn't we be trying to save our homes? ?

?No, the fortune was that those buildings would be standing.  Not that they'd survive, or that anyone else would die.?  Aya's eye's narrowed.  ?And I know where we need to go and what we need to do.?

Hatate sighed.  ?Well would you mind explaining it to me?  Since apparently I'm going there too.?

Ellen nodded.  ?I'd kind of like to know as well.  I never get to see these fortunes myself.?

?It's actually very simple.  There's only two places in Gensoukyo where there would be twin moons....?

-----

Hitomi checked the wards around the shrine again.  She wished she could do more, but her enchantments were more use against generic youkai, not whatever the Lunarians were.  The best she could hope for was that the wards against evil and bad fortune would turn eyes away from the shrine.  Honestly she was just checking in order to pass the time now.  She had done everything she could to prepare.

She wished she could do more.

She wanted to be out there fighting for Gensoukyo's future.  Even if there wasn't a barrier anymore, even if the Hakurei shrine didn't mean anything, she still felt a sense of duty to the land.  It was her home after all.

?I finished warding the shrine, mom.?

But Hitomi had someone to look after that was just as important as her home.  Maybe even more so.

Hitomi looked up and smiled at Kanon.  ?Good job.  Now we wait.?

Kanon looked up at her with a frown.  ?Um, mommy, why can't we fight like everyone else?  I can use the yin yang orbs, just like in practice!  I promise I won't slow you down any.?

Hitomi's heart twisted within her chest, but she managed to keep a straight face.  She carefully took Kanon by the shoulders and looked the young girl in the eye.  ?Kanon, I know you want to help me, but you haven't finished your training yet.  I want you to stay out of all the fighting, alright?  If people come to the shrine you're to stay inside.  If they enter the shrine you're to run to our safe place, okay??

Kanon bit her lip, but eventually relented under Hitomi's stare.  ?Alright mommy.  I promise to stay out of your way.?

Hitomi pulled her daughter close.  ?Understand, this is for both of our sakes.  If someone does attack, I won't be able to fight properly if I'm worried about you.  I know you want to be strong, but now isn't the time.?

?Now let's go inside.  The moon won't rise for a few hours yet.?  Hitomi held her daughters hand as they entered the godless shrine.

----

Mystia checked one last time to make sure all of her stall's stuff was packed away before pulling down the shutters and locking them.  She enjoyed her business, and she wasn't about to lose it just because she needed to move.

?So, you're taking off are you??

Mystia turned at the familiar voice.  ?Hm?  Of course I'm going!  That Keine woman is going to be banishing the village right??  Mystia turned back to her cart and started checking the ties.  ?I'm a youkai.  If I'm still here I'll be out in the open.  I'd be better off in the forest.?

Mokou sighed.  ?Mystia, even if you are a youkai the villagers consider you one of their own.  You don't need to run and hide in the forest.?

Mystia's wings twitched.  ?I don't care what the villagers think, I'm not one of their own.  I'm a youkai!  I eat humans.?  She finished tying things up and turned back to the immortal.  ?I kinda like some of you humans, and I'm glad you helped me when my wing was broken.  But I'm not going to become everyone's pet.?

They stood there glaring at at each other for a few long moments.  Then Monou closed her eyes and shrugged.  ?Fine whatever.  Do things your own way.  If you change your mind the village will be here.?

Mystia opened her mouth to reply, then turned around and moved to grab the eel cart.  She still had her pride.

She wouldn't admit that she liked the village enough, that being sent away with it would bind her to the village forever.

And while Mystia had changed a lot, she was unwilling to be bound to anything.  It was a pretty cage.  A large cage.  But a bird had to be free, to fly and sing as she wanted to.  Even if that meant danger.

-----

The interminable meeting finally done, Jiyuwan headed home.

He found Akiyoshi in the dojo, meditating.  The young man's eyes opened and he bowed to his father.  ?I'm sorry for causing you to lose face over my selfish actions.?

He bowed in return.  A bow for equals.  ?No.  I apologize for my position forcing you to chose between filial piety and the path of righteousness.?  He walked forward and placed a hand on the young man's shoulder.  ?I am proud of you my son.?

Akiyoshi was still young enough to blush with pride at that.  Or perhaps Jiyuwan was wrong, and blushing was the correct response, superior to the stoicism he'd developed.

?Thank you father,? Akiyoshi replied.  ?I only hope it doesn't come back to hurt you later.?

?It will not,? Jiyuwan said.  ?You should worry about yourself more my son.  You will probably have to find a new place to live soon, and while I am certain you will do well on your own, I would not wish this to be a surprise to you.?

Akiyoshi nodded.  ?I understand father.  I have a temporary house planned out.  And... as for after the war, we shall see how the war progresses.?

?Indeed.?  Jiyuwan turned and headed to the dining hall.  ?But for now we should eat and rest.  The battle will not be for another three days.?

Iced Fairy

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Re: A New World (book 2)
« Reply #59 on: January 17, 2011, 02:24:12 AM »
Renko and Chen flew down and waved to Murasa.  ?Hey,? the ghost sailor called out.  ?Your friends just dropped in a couple of minutes ago.  They're in the garden talking to Shou.?

?Thanks,? Chen said as she shot off, Renko slowly following after.  The cat Shikigami always moved in dashes when she was excited.

When Renko caught up, Ran was scratching behind Chen's ears, while Maribel, Nazrin and Shou were watching with varying levels of amusement.

An idea worked its way into Renko's mind and she flew down.  ?Hello Mary,? she said before petting the blond girl's head.

Maribel squirmed, ?Hey, I'm not a cat!?

?But you like it anyway right?? Renko asked with a grin.

?Seriously Renko you're embarrassing me...?  Maribel blushed but didn't move away.  Renko was glad to see an happy expression on her face again.

Renko's teasing was sadly interrupted by a cough.  ?We probably should get through all the details so you lot can go off and find rooms,? Nazrin said.

?Hey!? Maribel and Ran both glared at the mouse youkai, while Renko stifled a chuckle.  Shou just dropped her hand on Nazrin's shoulder.

She then turned to Ran.  ?So is there anything specific you need our help with?  I have some plans, but I'm willing to work together with the rest of Gensoukyo if you need us.?

Maribel looked up at the fox youkai as well.  ?What is our plan anyway??

?If we'd gotten more people willing to stay with us I'd have asked you to join us, but now...? Ran thought for a moment.

Renko sighed.  ?I hate trying to plan based on our enemies making mistakes.?

Ran nodded.  ?Yes it is annoying.  Shou, when the invasion comes could you try to link up with us??

Shou nodded.  ?Simply call for Bishamonten's aid and I shall come.  I haven't learned to appear in multiple places yet, so I'll have to fly there though.?

?We're trying to force the Lunarians to spread out right?? Chen said.  ?So that should actually help us more.?

?And the ones that run into you aren't likely to realize they're fighting a youkai god,? Nazrin said cheerily.

Shou smiled at that, then bowed to the group.  ?Alright.  Well if you change your mind, or if you need sanctuary, come here.  Our doors are open to all who desire peace between youkai and humans after all.?

As Shou and Nazrin walked away Maribel looked over at Ran.  ?You know, if they just decide to kill us they'll have a much easier time of things.  Help won't arrive in time.  Is that really your plan??

Ran closed her eyes.  ?That is my plan.  Even if all our friends and allies stood with us, against the combined might of the Lunarians we'd be destroyed.  If we had the tengu it would be different but...?  She sighed then opened her eyes.  ?We're doomed if they do this right.  In fact if they do this wrong we still might die.  We're their primary target.  If they overestimate on anyone it's likely to be us.?

Maribel's eyes narrowed and Renko took her hand.  ?I see.?

Ran smiled wryly.  ?Sorry this isn't like how wars are supposed to go.  I'm afraid that the old maxim, 'Victory goes to the side that, at a crucial moment doesn't make a mistake,' is far closer to the truth.  This is going to be a series of blunders and missed opportunities.  We can only hope they miss a big opportunity and we don't.?

?Which is why, even though I know you're going to complain about this Chen, I need you to try to organize the other youkai during the battle,? Ran said.

Chen looked shocked, her tails bristling in agitation.  ?But Miss Ran!  I'm a stong shikigami, even if I'm not borrowing your power!  You know I can fight by your side,? she cried.

Ran leaned down and hugged her Shikigami.  ?And I'll need your strength finding people who can support us in battle.  You can find me instantly.  Someone like Medicine can't, and once they realize the scope of the invasion you might be able to finally get them to help us.?

Chen's face fell.  ?I get it, but....?

?I understand Chen,? Ran said giving the Shikigami another squeeze.

Maribel turned to Renko but she held up her hand.  ?Not a chance Mary.  You aren't leaving me behind.  Besides, I'm a better fighter then you are.?

Maribel looked down at the ground.  ?But...  I don't want to lose you too.?

?What about my feelings you dummy??  Renko ruffled Maribel's hair again to take the sting out of the words.  ?I'm not going to abandon you.?  Renko gave Ran a look, and the fox youkai nodded and stepped away.

Renko leaned forward.  ?Hey Maribel.  Do you remember when you first dreamed of Gensoukyo??

Maribel looked confused but nodded.  ?Yes.?

?When you brought those treasures back, when I realized you'd found Gensoukyo, I thought there were only two choices for me.  To throw them away and keep you with me in my world, or to let you realize that you were actually a part of this world and to lose you forever.?  Renko felt embarrassed admitting it, but she pressed on, ?I worried about it all night.  I didn't want to let you go.  I wanted to go myself.  Would I let you go to this world that you seemed to love, or would I hold you back to stay by my side??

Maribel's mouth opened in surprise.  ?You never told me Renko...?

?Yeah, I didn't really like myself back then.  I honestly didn't know what I would choose,? Renko looked up.  ?But do you remember what I did say, when I met you the next day??

Maribel smiled slowly.  ?You said, 'Let's wake up! Change the world of dream to that of reality!'?  Her smile faded though.  ?But I don't have a dream anymore Renko.  Or maybe I have a dream, but it's not what I want to base my life around.?

Renko pulled Maribel's chin up.  ?Then let's search for my dream Maribel.  A dream where the village is peaceful, where the children still smile, and where we can meet with all of our friends.?

?I believe we can find that dream Maribel.  Maybe the scenery will be different then we expected, and maybe some old friends won't be there, and some new ones will.  But I believe we can find that dream together.  Just like we did before.?

?Renko!?  Renko fell backwards as Maribel threw her arms around her.  She could see Mary was crying again, and maybe she was crying herself.  But these weren't tears of sorrow.

They lay on the ground for a while.  Finally Maribel said, ?Let's go find your dream, Renko.?

Renko smiled.  ?Well, we've got all the Sealing Club members, so I guess we should start.?

Mary smiled in return.  ?I suppose if you're with me, I won't have to be worried about you being late this time.?

Renko chuckled.  They stood up and walked hand in hand to where Ran and Chen were standing.  Ran tried to pretend she hadn't seen the whole thing, and Renko tried to pretend she didn't notice Chen staring at them.

?So where should we go next?? Maribel asked.

?I think Mayohiga would be the best place to wait.? Ran said.  ?We should have two days before the assault, but we've been surprised before.  Consider tonight the last safe night.  After that?  War could begin at any time.?

----

-Epilogue-

I can see all the players now.  So many souls, each unique, each searching for their own place.  It both dissociates me from their realities, and binds me closer to them then anyone has a right to be.

I see Lord Tenshou sitting in his throne room.  Still convinced he's doing the right thing for his people, as he continues to seek vengeance against a woman he killed three hundred years before.

I see the man who murdered my wife sitting in meditation.  He dreams of death, knowing it to be the result of his path, yet he still follows his duty to the end.

I see another soul down below, shining brighter then all the ones left here in our once pristine capitol.  She dreams of death as well, but it is neither a goal nor a fear.  Simply another obstacle to overcome.

I see two lovers, each wondering if this will be their last night on earth, holding each other tightly.  Their thoughts are perfect mirrors, each putting the other before themselves.

I try to pull back, to see the broader picture, but that is a meaningless sea of emotions.  I know that we Lunarians are the villains of this story, but I see the same thing when I look at both sides from afar.  There is love and hate, sorrow and eagerness, fear and courage, and a desire for justice, or at least vengeance.

I wonder what someone would think, if they knew they were going to be the villain of a story?  Perhaps they would want to be seen as sympathetic?  A tragic figure.  Or perhaps they would wish the mistakes and flaws that led them to the role buried.  Let history show them to be a monster, so that their goals will not be tarnished by their reputation.

I no longer believe in our quest for purity.  I no longer wish to hide from death.  For it is in death that I began to understand the value of life.  Win or lose, when the war is over, I will leave this city.  Forever.

But out of respect to those who try to follow that dream.  Who fled the Earth so long ago, and who fled the moon when it too was tainted by blood.  Out of respect for my brother, and my beautiful wife, who fought for the dream of a perfect world, I shall make our society the villains of this story.  With no excuses, no understanding.

I make an exception for Jiyuwan.  This is my revenge you see. I will show his flaws and his virtues, so that he can be judged for who he truly is.  That is all the punishment my heart can stand.

I shall now sleep.  For when I wake again, the war will begin.