Author Topic: Forsake the Future, Pursue the Past  (Read 7015 times)

Esifex

  • Though the sun may set
  • *
  • It shall rise again
Forsake the Future, Pursue the Past
« on: September 18, 2009, 06:52:06 AM »
This is my first attempt at writing a story using already-established characters in a well-defined universe. To make things easier on myself, I have introduced a plot device to allow me to take a few artistic liberties without stomping all over the accepted pecking order. Please forgive me for this arrogance, but go into the story with an open mind, I beg of ye. I'd especially be grateful if anyone with an artistic hand and lots of free time decided to try sketching out a storyboard for my story. I hope with all my will to be able to find someone who can project my story into a more visual medium than just text, and together work on doujin/manga/whatever the accepted term really is I honestly can't keep track of it.

And so, let it begin.



Overture: Act 1

       Nightfall in Gensokyo. Direct your attention, if you would, to the Hakurei Shrine.
       Unfortunately, this is not the same Gensokyo that we are familiar with, as our heroine is about to find out.

       With a sudden start, Reimu woke up to a clattering noise, followed almost immediately by a dull explosion. Dust fell from the ceiling.
       ?I?ve got it, Milady!? a voice called out in the darkness.

       Who?? Why is someone here at this hour? Reimu thought, sitting up from her futon. She put her hand to her head.

       The door to her room slid open, and Yukari was framed within it. She looked down at Reimu. ?Good, you?re awake. Get up; I didn?t think they?d be attacking so early, but they?re here.? With that, she turned and strode off, leaving the door open.

       Shaking her head to clear it, Reimu tossed the blanket off of herself and climbed to her feet.
       She froze.
       What?s going on?

       Sleep burned away from her mind, leaving her with stark clarity to drink in details. Her body felt unusual, different. Like it wasn?t hers.
She looked herself over and was startled. She was clearly several inches taller than she remembered, and her bust size had increased. Her hair was the same as she remembered it, although mussed as it was from her pillow, she?d have to comb it out to be sure. Unfortunately, judging by the sounds coming from outside, she wouldn?t have the time to do that.
Her clothes and hiragushi were laid down next to her futon. She dressed herself quickly and gathered her rod before charging through her door, following in Yukari?s footsteps.

         There was something off about the whole night. Something felt wrong.

        A bright flash of light illuminated the courtyard of the shrine, shining through the thin walls and small window slits. Another dull thud sounded, but this time a sharp hiss followed it. More lights, subdued this time, answered back in time with the hissing.

        As she breached the threshold between indoors and out, a very alien sight welcomed her.

        A cloud of faeries dotted the sky, each glowing luminously with energy. Yukari was standing ? not slouching in a boundary tunnel like she normal was ? without her parasol on the stone pathway directly in front of the shrine. She had her hands fanned out in front of her at waist height, with several boundary gaps dotting the air around her. Her shikigami, Ran, was a few yards away on the grass beyond the pathway, tails furled about each other and tucked safely behind her. One of Reimu?s Hakurei Artifact orbs was slowly rotating in the air next to her, spitting out bolts of light at the faeries in the air.

        Small fires dotted the field in front of the shrine, but the most upsetting sight to Reimu was the fact that the gate to her shrine had been decimated. Only a single pillar stood, and the beams going over the pathway at the top of the stair were broken short. From the looks of it, it had been that way for a while; no wreckage littered the yard.

        ?What?s go?? she started, but stopped in surprise at the sound of
her own voice.

        What?s going on? she completed mentally. Yukari glanced over her shoulder at the sound of Reimu?s aborted sentence, and then turned her attention back to the cloud of aggressive faeries.

       ?Come up here and support us. Some of those damned dolls are mixed in up there, so one of the wretches is here tonight,? Yukari said. She gestured forward slightly, and the boundary gaps surrounding her began to spray out lines of light towards the faeries. Several scattered, but many were pierced by the light and fell from the sky, no longer glowing.

       Reimu nodded and swung her rod horizontally in front of her torso, and called out two more Hakurei Artifacts. These began to hover about her, and she slipped her hand into a pocket sewn into the back of the waist of her skirt. She drew out a handful of the seals that she used in her danmaku duels, and on the rare occasion that she went out on youkai exterminations. Uttering a small prayer and tapping into her holy power, she began to flick them rapidly into the air. Guided as they were by her divine blood, they were unaffected by air currents or gravity, and flew straight.

         As they pelted the faeries, they stopped glowing and dropped to the ground. Unlike Yukari?s beams of light, however, the faeries pulled themselves upright and retreated into the trees surrounding the shrine.
?What are you doing, Reimu? This isn?t danmaku! Kill them!? Yukari barked. Ran glanced over at the two of them momentarily before turning her attention back to the cloud of faeries.

        The glow from the collected faeries began to swell, and they bunched together. Scant seconds later, a massive bolt of energy shot down towards them.

        Yukari flicked her wrist, and the boundary gaps around her vanished, replaced by a larger one that swallowed up the huge blast. Before the faeries could scatter, a white boundary tunnel opened up within their collected mass, and the very bolt of energy they shot exploded outwards at them.

        Ran was suddenly alongside Yukari and Reimu, with the floating Hakurei Artifact bobbing lazily in the air after her. Her signature cap was absent, leaving her shocks of light hair and pronounced ears exposed. ?It?ll take them a moment to mass up enough energy to do that again, but with their reduced numbers now, it won?t be as dramatic an effect. I estimate a good forty-percent of them were claimed by their own attack, thanks to Mistress Yukari?s redirection.?

        Yukari nodded. ?Problem is, I didn?t see any of the dolls take part in that attack. They?re still up there, somewhere, and they?re not giving away their position by glowing. Keep a sharp eye out for them.?

        Reimu watched the third Hakurei Artifact as it waddled through the air alongside Ran. Ignoring how foreign her own voice sounded to her, she asked, ?Why do you have one of my orbs??

        Yukari and Ran both turned halfway to look over their shoulders at her in shock. ?What?? they asked in unison.

        Before anyone could elaborate further, however, two figures ? taller than faeries, but shorter than the three of them ? smashed into the stone path. Without hesitation, they drew themselves up to their full height and began to stalk towards them, long glaives held at the ready.

       ?Those are Alice?s dolls? Why are they so much bigger?? Reimu wondered aloud.
        Yukari turned fully and stared at her in horror. ?You?ve got to be kidding me? Ran, this is up to you for now. Reimu, stay behind me, and do what I say ? don?t question me in any regards until we?ve warded them all off, got it??

        Ran crouched down slightly before bounding towards the two constructs. She moved incredibly fast, as to be expected from a divine fox. Reimu blinked as the shikigami came up to the first doll and ducked the thrust from its glaive, following up with a brutal smash in the face with her palm.

       ?What?s going on?? Reimu asked Yukari. The Boundary Youkai grunted and turned her attention back to the night sky. ?Just do as I tell you to,? she said.

        Clutching her hiragushi with both hands, crumpling some of the seal cards against it, Reimu glanced about uneasily. Ran was still in melee with one of the dolls, and her own shikigami ? the cat familiar, Chen ? had been summoned and was sparring with the second doll. The defaced shrine gate still upset Reimu to look at. The shrine itself seemed to be scarred; her offertory box was missing.

       Creeping from the trees behind them, around the shrine, came a few of the faeries she had tagged with her seal cards. As soon as she spotted them they rose up off the ground and began to charge at her.

       Focusing her anger at the downtrodden shape of her shrine on the faeries, she whipped her rod through the air again. The Hakurei Artifacts spun in place on either side of her, and the faeries that hadn?t pulled the seal tags off of themselves burst into flames. Only two were left, one of which was startled by the sudden conflagration and took to the skies, fleeing.

        Reimu slid her hand back into her pocket, and traded the deck of seals for a single card. This, she tucked into her palm and held it there with her thumb, and she brandished it forward.

        ?Mosou Fuinn!? she declared.
        The radiant bursts of colorful light that she was expecting didn?t shine forth. She looked at her hand in surprise; the manifestation of her divine power wasn?t coming forth like it was supposed to.
Upon hearing Reimu try to declare her spellcard, Yukari spun around and caught sight of the faerie bearing down on Reimu.

        The Boundary Youkai shoved her hand through a gap, the other end of which opened up directly in front of the flying faerie. Her fingers, held rigid in a dagger-like fashion, smashed into the faerie?s face. Backed by her youkai strength, sheer power, and the delicate nature of a faerie?s body, Yukari?s hand was shoved clear through the back of its skull.

        Yukari had a look of grim determination on her face as she extracted her arm from the boundary gap. She locked eyes briefly with Reimu before the young miko caught sight of her bloodstained sleeve and stared at it in shock.

        ?Reimu, I really hope you make yourself useful very quickly. I don?t know what?s going on with you, but I have an idea. I just pray I?m wrong. We?re going to need your help.?

         Yukari turned back to face the stairs leading away from the shrine, watching as Ran and Chen double teamed the last doll. Just as they finished pulling the arms off the torso and scattering them across the yard, four more of the stocky dolls slammed into the ground. Each one brandished a short, curved sword and a small disc of a shield.

        ?Look for one of the bitches in the air, Reimu. I?ve got to help my shikigami.?

        Confused now more than anything else, Reimu turned her attention to the sky. She could see shapes moving against the stars, but because of the brilliant fighting that had just been going on, her eyes weren?t adjusted to the darkness yet.

        I really don?t know if I can use my seals to kill ? maybe I can use that fire trick again? she mused to herself. At the very least, the cards will be hard to see flying up at the dolls?

        While Yukari proceeded to force multiple boundary tunnels halfway upon the four dolls surrounding her shikigami, scattering their pieces across the yard, Reimu began to sling more of her seals with pinpoint accuracy at the shapes in the air. Just as she had reckoned, the dolls didn?t react to her cards until they were stuck with them. The dolls began to swarm about in an agitated fashion.

        Just as Reimu brandished her hiragushi again, igniting the cards on the dolls, the remaining faeries began to glow again.

        Yukari, now finished with the four grounded dolls, turned back and looked at Reimu to see what she was doing. ?A good effort, but it won?t be very effective. Where?s that spellcard you tried to use??

        Reimu offered it up. ?Here. I don?t know why I can?t get it to work.?
        Yukari plucked the card from her hand. ?Ran, here. Use it.?
In a fluid motion, the fox shikigami pulled the card from Yukari?s proffered hand and spun back around, using the momentum of her turn to help propel the card into the air. It flew as straight and rapidly as one of Reimu?s thrown cards, right into the cloud of glowing faeries.
Ran clenched the hand that she had thrown the card with into a fist. A massive sphere of brilliant colors ? what looked to Reimu like one of her own Dream Seals ? dwarfed the cloud, swallowing most of the faeries. Reimu shielded her eyes against the bright light.

        Yukari put her hand on Reimu?s upraised elbow to announce her presence, and plunged her other hand into Reimu?s pockets. Just as she found another card sitting alone by itself, fiery comets smashed into the yard again.

        Reimu realized it was some of the dolls she had ignited. She lowered her eyes from the sky, and her arm from her face, and glanced about nervously. None of the dolls were getting up, though.

       ?I?ll be damned? you burnt through their strings. I guess it was more effective than I thought it would be,? Yukari admitted. She turned the card she had taken from Reimu over in her hands. ?Perfect.?

        Suddenly, numerous dolls smashed into the yard, leaving impressions in the dirt or cracking the stone pathway where they landed. An austere woman wearing a shawl and a wide-brimmed hat joined them.

       ?My children! You?ve killed my precious children!? she shrieked.
       ?Alice?? Reimu gasped. Yukari shook her head.
       Ran and Chen had rejoined the two of them and were standing at the ready, waiting for the dolls to charge them.

        Yukari snapped her wrist at the delirious woman, flinging the card at her.

        Two of the dolls standing next to her leapt in the way and took the hit; the card was lodging in the chest of one of the dolls.
Yukari mumbled to herself under her breath. She had a small grin on her face, though.

         Four orbs sprang into life around the woman, who was now clutching the edges of her hat, worrying it with her hands and sobbing hysterically. The orbs were each a different color ? and Reimu recognized them.

       Isn?t that the Orrieres Armorie? That?s not in Alice?s bag of tri ?
Suddenly it clicked. Alice was a youkai; she didn?t age as fast as humans did. Even if some time had passed and Reimu?s body had aged, Alice would?ve still looked the same. She should?ve been able to recognize her.
Marisa, on the other hand, was human. She could age. She could look different enough to be unrecognizable.

        ?What the hell? Why is Marisa using dolls?? she asked.

        Yukari let out a gasp of exasperation. ?Damn it, I was right. Reimu, stay down!?

        All hell broke lose. Yukari had set off the spellcard that was lodged in the chest of the doll and yanked the four defenders of the shrine through a boundary tunnel.

Hawk

  • Babababa~
Re: Forsake the Future, Pursue the Past
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2009, 07:48:37 AM »
Interesting read.  A combination of the somewhat silly idea of actual physical spell cards being thrown about with a grimdark, bloody Touhou world will be intriguing to watch evolve.

And I swear, every time you use the word "Hiragushi", my mind transplants it as "Higurashi".  "Why is Reimu wielding a cicada?"

Esifex

  • Though the sun may set
  • *
  • It shall rise again
Re: Forsake the Future, Pursue the Past
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2009, 04:06:03 PM »
I do the same thing, myself. It took me a while to find out what they were really called; in the beginning, I was just calling it a 'rod' a lot. Without even having to think of the Fruedian/phallic connotations, that bothered me because of the lack of variety. After that I was afraid I'd accidentally call Reimu Remilia.

The differences in the spellcards is explained in this segment.



The other end of the tunnel was in the Voile Library. Reimu barely recognized it; it was stripped of all its books and the shelves were scattered around erratically, and none of the lanterns were lit.

?You don?t remember anything.? Yukari didn?t ask.
Ran groaned lightly, and pulled Chen closer to her protectively.

?I remember things. Who you are, who I am, where we are.?
?What?s the last incident you remember trying to resolve?? Yukari asked.

Reimu pondered for a moment. ?Those weird flying discs. I remember seeing those around. But that was a while ago.?

?You?ve lost about ten years of memories, then. I was afraid that spell had done something worse when you got hit by it.? Yukari produced her fan and tapped it to her chin.
?What spell?? Reimu asked.

Ran looked over to her. ?It was a new one, apparently from the collected mind of Alice and Marisa. They declared it, which was odd; the spellcard system had been dispelled when all this started happening. Now everyone is just firing off his or her desired spells, and the danmaku effect is gone.
?Anyways, the spell was called ?Malice Sign, Mittenacht.? It was aimed at Chen, but you intercepted it before I could.?

Reimu held her hand up, halting any further explanation. ?The ?combined? minds of Marisa and Alice? What do you mean, did they actually move in together and start researching magic??

Yukari shook her head and flicked her fan open. ?No, it?s a literal combination of the minds. Marisa forced her way into Alice?s Grimoire. The book seems to be everything that Alice was, is, and will be; she is technically the only one who should be able to open it and use it. When Marisa got into it, the book absorbed her and at the same time, deposited itself into her. Neither one ? human or youkai ? were meant to have more than one persona in them; they?ve snapped, and are now technically the same person. Everything one can do, the other does just as well.

?And, one more thing; when this happened, Marisa had already worked her way past you in terms of power. Both her and Alice now are able to conjure up more sheer magical energy than you are. It was through their actions that the spellcard and danmaku system was destroyed.?

Reimu felt lightheaded. Alice and Marisa both were her friends; each was a bit annoying to her, but flaws in a friendship were necessary. To have them suddenly snap and essentially go insane was a mighty blow to her.

?So, the larger dolls must be an influence of Marisa, then? Alice made them to entertain herself primarily, not to fight with? Everything was a quest for more power, more knowledge to Marisa, so I suppose it was through her that they?re bigger and more inclined to combat now? better
able to acquire things?? Reimu trailed off, fighting back tears.

?What else is wrong with Gensokyo?? she asked. If too much had changed, she knew the tears that were threatening to pour forth would win, but she had to know.

?The Moriya Shrine was attacked and destroyed. Kanako, Suwako, and Sanae managed to escape, but we haven?t heard from them in about two years. Not sure where they went. The Youkai Mountain suffered a lot of damage in the process, and the tengu were scattered almost ironically to the winds that they command. As you can see, there?ve been some changes in the Scarlet Devil Mansion ? the librarians, the door guard, and the maid have recently gone missing. Remilia and Flandre are out there somewhere with each other, and last time I saw them, they were railing against the Eientei border. All the faeries that used to help the head maid have joined Malice ? the only faeries that didn?t are the ones linked to the seasons. The Netherworld border has been strengthened; only through my power can we get through to Lady Saigyouji. They don?t want Malice to get in and screw things up. Shinki of Makai fell into a deep depression at the loss of Alice ? again ? and Yumeko sealed the border there, too. The exposed human village was destroyed, but we managed to relocate the survivors to Keine?s village. She?s got them protected.?

?Where?d Suika and Mima go? Why weren?t they at the shrine??
?Mima went to the celestials to try to get some aid. Suika went to the oni for the same reason.?

Ran let out a harrumph. ?I honestly don?t see the oni being of any aid to us. They?d have no reason to help until Malice decided to invade the Underworld, and by then it?d be too late. Besides, they?re not exactly powerful. Some of the oni are, yes? but not enough of them.?
Reimu grabbed a chair that had been knocked over and set it upright. This was too much.

?So, why are you able to command one of my artifacts?? she asked the fox shikigami as she sat down.

Ran blinked, and slid her hands out of their opposites? sleeve slightly in surprise. After she regained her composure, she said, ?It was Mistress Yukari?s idea. She took Chen on as her own shikigami, and you took the two of us as well. As long as you conjure the artifact for me, I can use it.?

Reimu looked at Chen. ?How about you? Have I given you one of my artifacts before??

Chen shook her head and worried her hands together. ?No, not yet. I?ve only been allowed to fight things I can scratch and tear apart with my hands.?

Yukari paced about. ?This memory loss couldn?t?ve come at a worse time?? she mused. Reimu turned her attention to her.

?You?re telling me? I?m not used to being woken up in the middle of the night. I?m not used to my body being this developed. I?m not used to my voice sounding the way it does. I?m used to you being a laze-about. I?m used to people fighting for fun and for conflict resolutions, not for killing. I?m used to living by myself. I?m used to Marisa and Alice being my friends. I?m used to my shrine being intact like it has been for generations. I?m used to this library having books and recluses filling it. I?m used to my offertory box being empty. I?m used to everything that?s gone now!?

With this outburst, Reimu finally snapped. Tears started flowing without restraint, and she began sobbing into her hands. Her wailing echoed through the empty library. Ran wrapped an arm around Chen, pulling her into a one-armed hug that conveniently covered the girl?s ears.

Yukari kept her hands to herself, but was determined to watch every second of her friend?s suffering. She would not hide herself from Reimu?s torment. She refused to pretend there was nothing wrong. As Reimu had just said, things were different now. Not only was Gensokyo itself still in danger, but now one of her close friend?s sanity was at stake.

But standing and watching was different from supporting. She knelt down in front of Reimu. ?Hakurei, I can?t even pretend to know what sort of torment you?re going through right now, but know this; I?m here for you. And I will help you get through this. If we can find a way to restore your memory, I will pursue it. If not, I will teach you everything you need to know now.?

Reimu wiped her cheeks off and sniffled lamely. She nodded in response to Yukari?s words and sat there in the chair, feeling lightheaded and weak.

Yukari procured a handkerchief and offered it forward, which Reimu used to dab at her rapidly reddening eyes.

Chen pulled herself out of Ran?s arm and stepped towards the shrine maiden. ?I think it would?ve been best if that spell had actually hit me, wouldn?t it? I mean? considering how much stronger Reimu is??
?Chen!? Ran exclaimed. Reimu looked at the cat shikigami and let out a choked laugh.

?Nonsense. We had no idea what it would?ve done anyways, and I?m sure that since I made you a shikigami, I would?ve jumped in the way regardless.? Reimu contemplated standing up, but still felt weak in the knees from her hysteria. Instead she just slumped herself back in the chair.

?Where should we go for the rest of the night?? she asked. Yukari snapped her fan shut.

?We?ll be fine right where we are. Malice already cleaned the library out and has no reason to return. You and Chen can get some sleep,? she said.

?Hah. Sleep. I?ll try.? With a wave of her hiragushi, Reimu swept away
the thin layer of dust on the ground and lowered herself from the chair to the cleaned patch. She patted the floor next to her and beckoned Chen over. ?Come here, we?ll keep each other warm.?

                            ?                 ?                    ?

Shortly after Reimu had finally passed out, Ran stepped up alongside Yukari, respectfully staying just behind her.

?It really would?ve been best if Chen had taken the spell. Ten years isn?t as much of her life as it is Reimu?s, and we really need the miko at her best to handle Malice. No point really in musing about it unless we could undo the past, but ??

Yukari held her hand up, silencing Ran mid-sentence. She looked over her shoulder at her shikigami with a fierce look of determination on her face.

?Don?t bring it up. Just? don?t, okay??
Ran nodded, and closed her mouth.

Yukari could barely handle the stress herself; after Yuyuko had sealed the Netherworld off from Gensokyo, her contact with her only other close friend had dropped to a ridiculous level. Losing Reimu as well would likely shatter Yukari?s resolve. Already, tears were threatening to flow.


Esifex

  • Though the sun may set
  • *
  • It shall rise again
Re: Forsake the Future, Pursue the Past
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2009, 08:29:16 PM »
This is the second, and middle, act. I'm trying to keep this story fairly short, and it shows with this segment.

Observant readers will notice that Tewi has been given implied dialogue but I've never written it out. I just don't know enough about her personality beyond 'silly trickster' to know how to portray her when she's serious... and I couldn't bring myself to tag her dialogue with '~usa' :C



Bridge: Act 2

The next day found them without incident.

?I posit that if anyone can help you with your memory, it?d be Eirin Yagokoro, or Kiene. I don?t think we should return to the shrine yet; there?s no reason for Malice to destroy it, and there may still be faeries prowling about. Unless we could reliably kill all of them, odds are one of them will escape and report our whereabouts back to the wretches.?

Reimu shook her head. ?Don?t call them wretches. It was stupid of Marisa to force her way into Alice?s Grimoire, but if she had known what would?ve happened she wouldn?t?ve done it. It was an accident.?

Yukari nodded. ?Regardless, I think we need to speak to that pharmacist, see if she can come up with anything for you.?

No objections were raised; Yukari promptly opened up a boundary tunnel that led to the inside of the barrier of the hidden thicket in the Bamboo Forest.

Ran looked back out towards Gensokyo proper. ?Perhaps we should check on the other side of the barrier, see if the Scarlets are still in the area. If they wanted to get in here, we could let them in. Otherwise, I fear Flandre may do something regrettable and punch a hole through that even Cirno couldn?t miss.?

Reimu chuckled. ?I take it the little dim-wit is still fluttering about??
Chen nodded and giggled. ?Every winter. She hides otherwise.?

Yukari looked about, making certain that no one had spotted them. The bamboo thicket was devoid of intelligent life for the moment. ?Very well. Ran, do you want to go alone? I?ll summon you back in five minutes, you?ll report if you?ve spotted them or not. The less of us out there, the less likely we?ll be spotted. I still want to get to Eientei proper, see about getting some help for Reimu. If you get in trouble, summon Chen and I?ll summon the both of you.?

Ran nodded, and Yukari opened a tunnel. Ran stepped through it and vanished.

Yukari gestured beyond the thicket, in the general direction of the large estate.
?Let?s get moving. Chen, stay in my sight; I want to know the instant Ran summons you off.?

It was only a short walk before the thicket began to thin out. The barrier wasn?t extended very far out from the territory of Houraisan, and she apparently wasn?t interested in protecting the forest.

Only three minutes after sending Ran on her way did the grounds of Eientei present themselves. A few moments after that, the group spotted the first of the rabbit guardians.

As the group raised their hands in greeting, Chen popped away. Immediately, Yukari had summoned her two shikigami back.
?What?s wrong? What happened?? she asked of Ran.

Ran waved her hand, swatting the concern aside. ?Nothing happened. I found the Scarlet sisters asleep in the shadows of a particularly thick stand of bamboo. They had tied some of the stalks together to give themselves a little hut. I figured the best way to let you know was to summon Chen, of course.?

?Understandable. Well, the rabbits just spotted us; you and Chen stay with Reimu, I?ll get the Scarlets. I?ll return shortly.? Without waiting for a response or any objections, Yukari pulled herself into a gap tunnel and vanished from the group.

Reimu led the way down the gradual hill towards Eientei. The group of rabbit-types that were watching them scattered a bit, composed themselves, then regrouped in front of the doors. Two disappeared inside, no doubt reporting the intrusion.

The collected group of guardians did nothing to faze Reimu. She strode right up to them and stopped just outside of arms-reach. Eyes locked between both parties, she stared them down until one of the rabbits broke eye contact.

?As you can see, we?re not here to fight. I have business with Eirin. I will wait here until the two that left return, unless you?d rather escort me in yourselves.? She planted her hands on her hips ? a familiar, comfortable pose ? and waited for a response.

The rabbit guardians watched her carefully, and one slipped back through the door. Chen looked back and forth between the remainder, watching their ears bob. Her split tails flicked about, matching her gaze.
?Easy, Chen. It?s not like a watership down or anything. We want them to help us, anyways.?

The three rabbits that had disappeared into the estate came back to their post with the lead black haired rabbit in tow ? Tewi, her name was. Yukari appeared at the same time, with the petite Scarlet sisters in tow.
Tewi raised her hand in greeting, studying the outsiders intently. She opened her mouth to speak, but Yukari cut her off. ?Reimu, we need to go. Tewi, the Scarlets need to impose on Houraisan?s hospitality for a while. Their mansion has been attacked and overrun by Malice ? they lack the expertise to put up barriers like Yagokoro and Houraisan.?

Remilia gestured for Reimu?s attention. She had her eyes squinted against the sunlight, and had one of her wings extended over Flandre to give her some semblance of shade. ?Malice is trying to get out of Gensokyo. Your shrine is vital to the security of the border, miko. You need to get it back, soon.?
Yukari nodded at the short vampire. ?We?re going.?

Before Reimu could even consider thinking up an objection, she was standing in front of her shrine.

Esifex

  • Though the sun may set
  • *
  • It shall rise again
Re: Forsake the Future, Pursue the Past
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2009, 10:49:26 PM »
The next sections aren't quite long enough to stand on their own, nor are they finished yet. So, please, I would like to take this opportunity while I continue working on it to gather opinions so far?

I hope to have the entire story finished within the next day or so, and posted shortly after that.

Esifex

  • Though the sun may set
  • *
  • It shall rise again
Re: Forsake the Future, Pursue the Past
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2009, 10:50:09 PM »
Conclusion - and here we find the last piece of that artistic liberty I took and slathered all over this story. I do hope you don't mind.
Oh, what the hell, I'll warn you now, what I've done will piss a bunch of people off, then it'll piss off the other bunch, and then Kaguya and Mokou will have a thumb-war.



Crescendo: Act 3

Two doll sentries were facing her, but hadn?t started to move yet. Before they could react, several tunnel boundaries flicked open around them. Yukari?s mysterious swarm of hands ? armed with various bladed weapons ? thrust forth, piercing the dolls in multiple places.

A shrill cry pierced the air. Reimu blinked in surprise; it was echoing.

?They?re here!? Alice?s voice rang out behind them. The shrine?s maiden and resident turned to face her, a feeling of hot rage spreading through her. Though Alice and Marisa were her friends ? or had been, at least ? no one defaced her shrine without reparations.

Without even willing it, several Hakurei Artifacts spun into existence around her, orbiting her rapidly. She didn?t pay much attention to them, and was instead focusing on the magician standing in front of her.
Instead of her typical shawl and dress, she was wearing a white scarf and a robe similar to the style that Reimu remembered Marisa as wearing.

A small, threadbare magician?s hat rested atop her head. Despite her change of outfit, she was still physically the same. Hair length and color, facial structure, it was all identical to the Alice living in Reimu?s intact memories.

Alice smiled at her and twined her fingers together in front of her waist as Marisa landed next to her. Together, they spoke.

?Reimu, I need your help. Can you open the barrier to the outside world? I can?t seem to get it open without the shrine gate intact, and I need to get out.?

Yukari was watching intently as Reimu stared at Malice. To her credit she wasn?t showing sorrow over a lost friendship. Instead, she seemed offended. Yukari glanced up at Malice; they seemed to be stationary, with their mad smiles plastered to their faces. Despite her evisceration of the sentry dolls, they weren?t on the offensive.

Yukari jumped; a resounding gong sound rang out. The source of the sound, and the actual reason the Gap Youkai was surprised, was a pair of Hakurei Artifacts flashing across the yard and smashing into Malice?s heads.

Another pair of Artifacts followed almost immediately in their wake, crashing into their chests, driving their sternums back to match their recoiled heads.

Reimu recalled the original Artifacts while sending another four to pummel the magicians. Yukari took the opportunity to conjure out her Tunnel Boundaries and jab with her lances and glaives. Most of the blades were redirected or simply bent aside as they came in contact with Alice, but Marisa was pierced in multiple places.

As hope welled up in Yukari, Reimu cried out. ?No! I wanted to save them! What are you doing??

Yukari shot a glance at her. ?This isn?t the first time I?ve done this, Reimu. The Marisa half is still human; she doesn?t heal as fast. The more we can harm her without outright killing her, the more we delay Malice altogether.?

The color drained from Reimu?s face. ?You didn?t see what you did, then??

Yukari looked back towards the fallen figures of Malice, with the spears still needling the ground, and Marisa. As she drank in the details, she turned ashen.

One of the blades that were redirected away from Alice had instead pierced Marisa through the throat; it was clear her carotid artery had been pierced, and her lifeblood was spilling free.

Alice began to writhe about, clutching at her own throat and screaming madly. Marisa was still for the most part, one arm slowly curling up to her throat, twitching slightly before dropping to her chest and remaining there.

Reimu squeezed her eyes shut, and sent all the summoned Hakurei orbs sailing towards Alice, intending to pummel her.
Instead, dull thuds sounded, and she felt the presence of her divine heirloom artifacts fading away one after the other. She opened her eyes.

A trio of small dolls ? typical of Alice?s original designs ? had sprung out and was channeling a shield, protecting Malice. The Hakurei orbs shattered away into nothingness as they smashed into the shield.

Behind the protective barrier, Alice had gotten upright and produced her Grimoire of Alice. She worked the clasp on the belt sealing it shut, and snapped the book open. She cast it free of her hands, and it began to hover over Marisa?s form.

A wan yellow light began to shine forth from Marisa?s body. The Grimoire seemed to attract this light, pulling it into the open pages. As though a wind were blowing fiercely across the book, the pages began to flip and whirl along.

After just a few scant moments the light faded, and the pages of the Grimoire stopped turning. The tome slowly clapped shut, and began to drop back down towards Marisa?s now-still body. Alice reached out to take it.

Her hand found empty space; Yukari had pulled the book through a gap and was now holding it in her hands. Alice whipped her head up and glared at the barrier maidens.

Instead of returning the stare, Yukari smirked down at Reimu. ?Finally, a win in a long streak of losses.?

As Alice rose to her feet, Reimu felt the ground start to go out from under her. Yukari had opened another tunnel beneath them and they sank away from the desecrated Hakurei Shrine.



As soon as they were dropped back onto the ground in Eientei, Reimu collapsed to her knees. Ran started to reach out to catch her, but the miko held herself mostly upright.

The rabbits of the estate were gathered back outside, around them. Tewi was still there, and had apparently been talking to the Scarlets before Yukari and Reimu returned.

Remilia stood up from the bench under the awning she and her sister were seated on. ?You were barely gone a minute, what happened?? she asked.

Yukari held up the Grimoire. ?Through their own admission, Malice can?t get to the outside world without either Reimu or I helping them. Also, I? managed to kill Marisa.?
Remilia blinked at her, but said nothing.

Tewi pointed to the door of the estate. ?Why don?t we all move inside, then? The Ladies need to be brought up to date, then.?

Reimu reached out and grabbed onto Ran?s arms, laced into their opposites? sleeves as usual, and used the divine fox to help herself back to her feet. She didn?t let go, but she didn?t lean on the shikigami, either.
Yukari followed directly behind Tewi, Grimoire tucked under her arm. The Scarlets followed immediately after her, while the two shikigami stayed behind Reimu as she drifted in their wake.

As they wound their way through the elaborate manor, Reimu turned her focus inward. A crushing sense of grief was starting to work its way around her throat, her stomach. Perhaps, if her memories weren?t warped, she would?ve felt triumphant over the defeat of a powerful enemy. As it stood, however, the now-dead Marisa was a friend, someone to be mourned. Even as aggravating as dealing with her could be sometimes, there were just too many memories; exploring Makai. Recovering the missing essence of spring. Resolving the issue of the flowering event. Competing to uncover the culprit behind the unending night and the twisted moon. Helping put Suika into submission when she first declared her presence. Getting that blasted celestial to stop screwing with her shrine. All those many days sharing tea with her at the shrine. The eccentric experiments she tried with magic, many cultivating in unexpected results ? shrinking the Moriya shrine maiden to a child?s body, sucking a gift music box that Alice had gotten through a small rift (which ended up sending it right to Reimu?s shrine), among other strange tests. The times when Flandre went on a rampage at the Scarlet Devil Mansion, and Marisa had to pacify her each time. No matter how hard she tried to scour her mind, Reimu just could not recall anything of the past ten years. There was nothing she could think of to cast Marisa in a sinister light.

And now, she was gone. Killed by Yukari?s hands, indirectly and accidentally as it were. But, at the same time, she was also technically still alive, if she had everything figured out properly. The entirety of her existence had merged with Alice?s, and the two of them were now in Alice?s body. That last act she saw Alice do with the Grimoire over Marisa?s body didn?t seem to be healing the witch, but rather taking something from her. Perhaps the differences in their experiences since becoming one entity? A sort of ?update? to her memories?

Reimu turned her focus back outward. The Grimoire of Alice was still firmly held in Yukari?s hands, closed but not bound by the strap wrapping around it.

Wait a second? what?s wrong here? Reimu thought. She slowed down, and the shikigami almost bumped into her. Ran stopped and looked down at Reimu, then followed her gaze.

?Yukari!? both of them shouted in unison. The entire entourage stopped and turned to look at the Boundary Youkai. Yukari herself glanced back at the two.

Reimu pointed at the Grimoire. ?There?s something wrong!?

Yukari looked down at it. The strap that was normally holding it shut ? except for when Alice willed it ? wasn?t bound into its place. Instead, it was pointing straight upright alongside the cover of the book, twitching slightly.

Yukari opened a gap alongside her, abreast of the hallway?s wall. She went to go fling the Grimoire into it.

As soon as it left her hand, it snapped open and rotated once, pages popping loudly in the disturbed air. It only made it halfway to the tunnel boundary Yukari had opened before a brilliant flash of light obscured everyone?s vision.

Reimu crossed her arms in front of her chest to shield her eyes. A brutal impact slammed her own forearms into her face, and she felt her nose pop under the force. She staggered back into Ran before falling to the floor.

Blinking her eyes clear, and nursing her bleeding nose, Reimu forced her eyes into focus to see what had just happened.

Alice was standing where the Grimoire had been, clutching it in one hand and holding her other hand out, covered in her puppet-master rings. A veritable cloud of her smaller dolls were swarming about; looking up, Reimu saw that the doll that had almost smashed into her face had been snatched out of the air by Chen before it could continue attacking Ran, who was saved only because of Reimu bumping into her. Chen slashed the strings giving the doll motivation with her free hand.

Two dolls had lanced out and struck Yukari, pinning her hands to the opposite wall with their glaives. The boundary Youkai looked at them, and flexed her arms and hands. Through sheer force she ripped the glaives ? still embedded through the palms of her hands ? out of the wall and smashed the dolls together.

The moment of hesitation from her was all Alice had needed, though. She released the Grimoire, which hovered in place next to her, and brought the now free hand up. In it, she was clutching Marisa?s magic reactor, the miniature Hakkero. The eight trigrams on it were glowing fiercely.

Yukari spotted the glowing octagon, and her eyes bugged out right before Alice released the fire.

A brilliant beam, looking like a cross between Alice?s Shanghai Doll beam and Marisa?s Master Spark burst forth.

The two shikigami joined Reimu in screaming for Yukari. The rabbits however, scattered, leaving only Tewi with the residents of the Shrine.

With the ringed hand, Alice gestured, twirling her hand and twitching her fingers ever so slightly. The cloud of dolls began to arrange themselves around her ? spear dolls further away from Alice, and unarmed ones near her. The unarmed puppets began to glow with a purple light, and points of energy began to focus on them.

My God, that looks just like the Hourai Doll spellcard? but there are so many of them!

The massive beam of energy raging forth from the Hakkero was slowly petering out. That did nothing to assuage Reimu?s worries over the Hourai Dolls staring emotionlessly her way, shrouded in crimson-purple light.

Ignoring the burning pain caused by her broken nose, she pulled herself to her feet and wobbled upright. She pulled out four seals from her pocket and flicked them out in a practiced motion, one she?d done countless times before, and could easily do by reflex. She had done it many times by reflex, including now ? she hadn?t even thought to put out the glowing blue barrier, but she did anyways.

Just as the Shanghai Spark completely died out, however, there was a distinct pop.
Alice twitched, just barely, at the sound.

Eirin?s arrow narrowly glanced off the wrist holding the Hakkero, slicing through the magic thread connecting the dolls to Alice?s rings on her other hand. The arrow slammed into Reimu?s barrier and froze in midair, quivering against the barrier.

Further down the hallway, Eirin stood holding her longbow, nocking another arrow to the string with a thimbled hand. With just a moment to orient herself for her next shot, she drew the string to her cheek and let fly.

Alice, having already looked to the source of the interruption, jerked back towards the wall to try to dodge the arrow. The shikigami behind Reimu dove in the opposite direction, scrabbling towards the scorched wall that Yukari had disappeared in front of.

Reimu didn?t move.

Eirin said something as she fired, but the pop of the arrow launching off the string and the distance between her and the miko muffled her.
The second arrow slammed into the side of Reimu?s barrier, and the impact obliterated the shield.

Instead of the first arrow ? which was still stuck to the barrier at the time ? falling to the floor, it just disappeared. The second arrow continued down the hallway, barely losing any momentum.

Reimu coughed, sending blood spraying from her broken nose. She noticed just a second later that a fine mist of blood sprayed from her mouth, as well.

She looked down. The first arrow didn?t disappear; it had never lost its momentum upon hitting the barrier. Once the barrier was gone, it continued on its merry way, which Reimu had been obstructing. In retaliation to her rudely blocking it, it decided to punch into her ribs.

Reimu wheezed. The sound of air whistling out of her lungs around the arrow protruding from her chest frightened her.

Alice barreled past her, leaving her fallen dolls behind as she fled from Eientei at blinding speeds.

Eirin lowered her bow, and began to stride down the hallway ? not walking, but not running, either. She was saying something again.
??Reimu? to get up? there?s? en a mist??

Reimu slumped to her knees before falling to her side. The vibration caused the arrow to jerk, and she whimpered. Fuzzy blackness began to creep around her vision, and a dull rushing noise filled her ears.

The fuzzy blackness surrounding the edge of her vision came together to meet in the middle, and the dull roar ended in a deafening silence.



?Reimu, it?s time to get up. You see, there?s been a mistake.?
Reimu jerked upright, clutching at her ribs. She held her breath, trying to hold in any sobs. Her chest was soaked.

Eirin spoke again. ?Reimu, calm down! It?ll be alright, just settle down!?
Reimu forced her eyes open. Tears were obstructing her sight; everything was fuzzy because of this. Beside this, though, there was little Reimu could make out, because it was dark again.

She ran her hands over her side. The arrow was gone.
She froze. Her shrine-maiden outfit was gone, replaced by a lighter fabric.
Her breasts were gone, too.
Huh? Just when she was getting used to them, too.
She blinked away the tears, and finally spotted Eirin sitting over her.

?Good, you?re awake finally. Calm down, it?s alright.? The pharmacist sat back, and rose up from her kneeling position next to Reimu?s futon.

The miko patted herself down. The moisture was simply a night-sweat soaking her, not blood.

She mumbled and groaned, intending to speak, but failing. She cleared her throat, and felt a slick of phlegm pass through her lungs. She spat it out as a reflex, disgusted at it and herself for actually spitting it.

Eirin cocked an eyebrow and watched as the phlegm sailed across the room in the relative darkness. ?Well, that?s good news. You?re moving out of the worst phase of your fever.?

Reimu, now with a clear airway, leveled an annoyed stare at the doctor. ?So, you seem to know that somehow this was your fault. How so??

Eirin answered Reimu?s stare with her typical all-knowing grin. ?Not entirely my fault, but, yes I should?ve caught it sooner. Tewi was left unattended in my lab for just a few minutes, and replaced the Kochoumugan with the Nightmare Types that were being packed with your prescription. I?ve already gathered the Nightmare Types and have brought the original Butterfly Dreams.?

Reimu pulled her gaze away from Eirin and just stared into space.
She sighed and flopped back down onto her futon.
It was just a dream? What the hell. That?s such a let down.



I feel like a bastard for ending it like that. I think I'll tattoo to the inside of my forearms a vow to never end a story with 'it was all just a dream' again.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2009, 06:48:25 AM by Esifex »

Esifex

  • Though the sun may set
  • *
  • It shall rise again
Re: Forsake the Future, Pursue the Past
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2009, 06:55:02 AM »
Completion. Please judge this without restraint. Like I said, I don't plan on making any more 'it was just a dream' stories (unless this one is popular, in which case I'll have Reimu ask for more of the Nightmare Types and dive into wierd Wonderlands). This will NOT be my leitmotif - I like to think I'm perfectly capable of typical story resolutions, and if put into a collaboration, I hope to make truly epic tales of whatever.

If anyone is interested in the doujin I was referring to during Reimu's little reminiscence scene, just ask and I'll go through my Toujin. Teehee I made a punny.

Hawk

  • Babababa~
Re: Forsake the Future, Pursue the Past
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2009, 01:03:30 PM »
Oh damn it.

Seriously.  I was intrigued--on some level--only to have it end like that.

If you really must do an "it was just a dream", let me put forth a piece of advice, keeping in mind that this is purely my opinion.  These kinds of stories would be okay if you only told us beforehand.  Obviously I don't mean as an auther-spoken preface, but perhaps as an initial scene with Eirin (in this example).  She could be wiping some sweat from Reimu's face, letting the audience know, right off the bat, that this isn't real.

Dreams are a wonderful way to delve into the psyche of a character.  Free of restrictions, a character's true essence shines.  It's also one way of showing memories without resorting to flashbacks (not saying those are bad).  This is what's interesting, not some "gotcha" moment that only serves to make the entire series of events pointless.

And, based on your comments, you already know this.  Which begs the question: why?



Content aside, the writing is technically pretty good.  I got the impression that there was a bit too much telling and not enough showing, though.  That is, the difference between the sentence: "She was angry." and showing in via her actions or just having someone say "You're angry, aren't you?"  Narrative is there for a reason, and sometimes stating facts is unavoidable, but it's something to always keep in mind.



So, I guess, write moar plox?

Esifex

  • Though the sun may set
  • *
  • It shall rise again
Re: Forsake the Future, Pursue the Past
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2009, 03:06:44 PM »
Appreciate the advice, and I'll keep that in mind. This is actually the first time I've done a dreamscape story, and I only decided to do it after I'd read that Eirin makes the Butterfly Dream Pills as well as the Butterfly Nightmare Types.

I'm not exactly certain what that last bit meant, though I think I have an idea. Too often I get into describing stuff instead of saying so and moving on. This is why I'm looking for an artist to pair up with; once things are in a visual medium, you don't need to waste time describing it. You can just look, and see that she's angry, or upset, or whatever. In the meantime, part of me feels obligated to describe the scene to the best of my ability, to paint a picture that's true to my intention.

Thanks for reading :D