Author Topic: Three Days Bright  (Read 4723 times)

IcedFairy

Three Days Bright
« on: February 12, 2010, 08:12:09 PM »
I bring new stuff!  Well after a chunk of old stuff (for some people).  No point in posting Chapter 6 here if Chapters 1 through 5 are locked away somewhere else.

The downside of this being I have to post CHapter 1 first.  And it remains the weakest of the Chapters...  Such is the brutal force of chronological progression.  In any case I present:

Three Days Bright

Stage 1

The moon shone brightly on the earth that night.

It seemed unfair for the moon to be unchanged, considering what had happened that week. Perhaps the moon was unwilling to exert itself for those who had betrayed it's inhabitants. Or perhaps it refused to alter it's cycle for anyone, no matter how close they once had been. So it was the same moon as always that shone down on the grave of Eirin Yagakoro.

It had been such a stupid death in retrospect.  A tiny error had occurred.  One that was almost impossible, but no less fatal for it.  But maybe that was the only way death could catch someone as well prepared as Eirin.  And when you lived until something killed you, the chances of an accident like that happening became a certainty.  All stories truly end with death.

Well, most stories end with death.

Fujiwara no Mokou stood in a clearing in the bamboo forest. She wasn't expecting anyone to appear, but these meetings had become almost a ritual at this point. So she would wait, even if no one was coming by.

It seemed, however, that her guess had been wrong. A shift in the wind heralded her rivals entrance into the moonlit clearing. The princess was still garbed finely, but her eyes were red from crying. She was obviously on the brink emotionally.

Mokou almost decided to leave right then and there. But Mokou had been caught by the pull of ritual so very long ago. She would follow it to the bitter end.

Mokou gazed at her rival calmly. ?I was expecting you to send assassins today.?

Kaguya simply replied, ?Let's get on with it.?

Without further warning she sent out a massive burst of deadly energy, incredibly powerful, but easy to dodge for those who had been engaging in danmaku play for so long. Even with the other stray bullets that completed the pattern, Mokou had no problems.

Mokou retaliated with her own flames, which the Lunarian grazed past, flying in close to take a deadly swipe at the other immortal. Mokou parried, then retaliated, and the fight began in earnest.

Mokou quickly noticed Kaguya's attacks weren't up to par.  It was to be expected really.  The woman had just lost her closest friend. Perhaps they had even been something more. At this point Kaguya's shots and strikes were more blind fury then skill.

Admittedly the lack of any style would disorient most people, but Mokou was an expert in battle, knew her foe better then any living being, and had a lot of experience with fury. The next exchange left Kaguya cratered on the ground.

Normally their fights lasted a lot longer. They had memorized each others techniques over the years so well that, without the brutal physical strikes mixing things up, they could probably dodge each others danmaku all night. The last time the fight had been this short was another night of sorrow. That night long ago it had been Mokou who had been overcome with emotions, but it was still Kaguya who had payed the price. Mokou always suspected her foe had held back that night.

Mokou didn't. She slammed another spell into her foes broken form to make sure the princess stayed down. Then another, just to be certain, before floating down to her rival.

Kaguya weakly raised her head to gaze at her immortal foe. At this range Mokou could see the princesses eyes clearly. There was pain, grief, hate, and yes, betrayal in those eyes.

The princesses mouth moved. ?Why??

Mokou knew what the princess was asking, but the question still twisted something deep inside her. ?Why what? You came here to fight.?

?Is winning that important to you?? Kaguya's eyes sharpened in anger. ?Or do you still hate me because you had your pride wounded so long ago??

Something buried inside Mokou snapped. ?I hate you.? Mokou took a deep breath. ?I hate you because you always treated me as an annoyance, or a sparring partner, or a toy. You never tried to understand my feelings. Never gave a damn about anything other then how I affected your life. That's why I hate you. That's why I could never just let the damn thing die.? Mokou closed her eyes. ?But that's okay. I don't hate you anymore,? she said.

Then she ripped out Kaguya's heart.

?Because now you understand what it's like to hate someone with all of your being.? Mokou tossed the organ back to her rival. Then she flew back into the bamboo thicket. The rabbits would come help Kaguya back home now that she'd left.

Mokou flew unsteadily back through the night. She had no intention of going home just yet. No real idea of what she wanted to do at all really. There was definitely no joy to be found in her victory. In fact she felt hollow, like something had bled out.

In the end she found herself at a different grave then the one that she was certain Kaguya had come from. She sat beside it in silence for a long time. The moon continued it's course and finally set, but Mokou still couldn't gather her thoughts. Living through so many changes didn't make the pain any less.

In the end she could only say, ?I'm sorry Keine. I'll try harder.?

The moon rose and set again before Mokou moved from her seat and went back to her work.

IcedFairy

Re: Three Days Bright
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2010, 08:23:02 PM »
Stage 2

Kaguya frowned as she looked up at the moon. No matter how many years passed, she couldn't get used to it's new face.

She wondered what the real cause of the accident that had shattered the near side of the moon, and ended humanities last attempt at leaving their solar system had been. If the humans trying to achieve interstellar travel had just failed, or if there had been sabotage. But Moon rabbits didn't talk to Earth rabbits, and the Lunarians were pretending not to know where she was. At least Kaguya hoped that was the explanation. She didn't want to think of the other alternative, even if the moon was no longer her home.

She shook her head free of those thoughts and closed the ledger. It was funny, but in the end the job she ended up taking was running Entei itself. A task that was far more difficult then it had looked when she had left it all up to Tewi, Eirin and Reisen. Especially now that she didn't have their help. But she had gotten very good at it. The rabbits still helped, though she had to trick them into it, and she still gave medical aid to people passing through, though it was more first aid work then actual doctor's work. She was learning more and more as time passed though.

However, she was finished with that for today. Now she had something personal to attend to.

She activated one of the floating lanterns, and walked out into the halls of her mansion. One of the rabbits noticed her and bowed, sorta. ?Are you retiring Kaguya-sama??

Kaguya smiled and shook her head. She had trained them pretty well for rabbits. ?No Saki-san. I'm going out for a bit. I won't be getting into a fight tonight though, so there's no need to disturb the others.?

The rabbits ears twitched. Kaguya was certain the whole house would be aware of her exit as soon as she was out the door. ?Um, isn't that dangerous?  There's been a lot of outsiders coming in recently.?

Kaguya laughed at that. ?Random youkai aren't a problem for me Saki-san. Besides the unintelligent youkai have spread out more, so I'm probably safer then before.? Spell card rules didn't matter if a tiger wanted to eat you, and many youkai weren't much smarter then that. Officially the spellcard rules no longer applied, but the youkai that stayed behind when the barrier vanished had taken a liking to them. And of course, Kaguya couldn't die.

?I should be back around moon set. Tell the others not to break anything while I'm out.? Kaguya walked past the rabbit 'servant' and out the doors of Entei. She locked them, then began to fly towards the lake.

Kaguya had to fly the long route, to make sure her actions weren't mistaken as a challenge by that girl. Long ago she had gotten used to Mokou's games, even once finding them amusing. But then, the other immortal had done something unforgivable.

It was extra annoying because this whole expedition was because of Mokou. Or rather something her actions had caused Kaguya to suspect.

She ran across one bit of trouble on her journey, but it was a local youkai and she didn't end up having to kill anyone. Soon she reached the shores of the lake and began looking around. After a bit of flight, she spotted what appeared to be a makeshift shrine. One that had been torn down and put back up again, over and over. She floated down towards it.

Immediately a freezing wind stirred up. A mighty voice boomed over the dark waters of the lake. ?Who dares approach the shrine of the ice goddess of the misty lake? Bow supplicant and grant an offering to my majesty!?

Kaguya adopted an air of confusion. ?Oh dear. I seem to be in the wrong place. I'm looking for the ice fairy, not the ice goddess. I'll move along then.?

?Drat! Oh well, I wasn't really expecting it to work on anyone out this late.? The wind stopped and a fairy stepped out of the darkness. While this fairy also wore a blue dress, she had hair and wings of green. ?So why are you looking for Cirno, Ms Immortal??

Kaguya's blinked as she felt the fairies magical presence. It was an odd aura. Something she hadn't run across ever before. This wasn't what she had been expecting or looking for, but she had time. There was always time to satisfy her curiosity. ?I wanted to ask her some questions, but I guess she isn't here. Who might you be? You seem different from the other fairies.?

The fey creature giggled. ?Everyone calls me Daiyousei. Well everyone who isn't cursing at me that is. Though I don't do pranks all that often.?

Kaguya raised an eyebrow. ?Than what was that just now??

?Oh that?? She shrugged. ?Cirno needs to lighten up a bit, so every once in a while I convince her the humans are trying to make her a deity again. Or I convince the humans that she is a deity. One of the two. Then she stops reminiscing and thinking about things too much, and pelts people with snowballs or something. Normal fairies aren't supposed to have that kind of power and memory, so I fix it.? Daiyousei placed the sake ?offering? back upright as she spoke.

?Hm? That seems like a lot of work for a fairy to bother with. Especially for someone else's comfort.? Kaguya watched her carefully, both to see if she could catch any more information, and to make sure the little girl didn't steal anything.

?It's not that bad. She actually does most of my normal work. It was a little annoying when she was growing up, but then again, at that point I really didn't have a lot to do. Since everyone was playing nice.?

A few half remembered, half understood conversations came together in Kaguya's mind. ?You're the fairy of fairies aren't you. That's your life source. Most people seem to think you're a rumor. Since fairies aren't entirely natural things.? This nights mistake had been very interesting.

Daiyousei bowed. ?As you can see I'm quite real. Though I'm only in charge of Gensokyo. Those that came into being after the barrier fell or who drifted away are other people's problems.? She shrugged. ?I imagine I'm not the only great fairy anymore, now that people outside believe in us, but I've gotten used to the name so...?

Kaguya smiled then bowed formally, switching her speech patterns as well. ?Well then great fairy of Gensokyo, the princess of the moon would ask you a question. At your convenience of course.?

The fairy looked suitably flattered by the pomp. ?I am free right now, though I fear my knowledge is mostly limited to things I find interesting. If you want a perfect memory you'll need the blue white one.?

Kaguya asked the question ?Is there another immortal like Mokou and I in Gensokyo??

Daiyousei shook her head. ?Nope.? Kaguya merely kept her gaze on the fairy. ?The one you are asking about is unlike you two. She is the goddess of Immortality who resides in the mountain, which makes her truly immortal, but not like you two. I forget her name. Your fiery human friend mentioned it.?

Kaguya's voice grew icy cold. ?She's not my friend.?

?From what I've overheard, she regrets what she did that night.? Daiyousei's voice was carefully calm. Not judging, yet sympathetic.

?That only makes it more infuriating. I know she would make the same choice even if she could take it back. That's why she can't apologize.? And why Kaguya couldn't forgive her. Kaguya stood there a moment lost in the bitter memory. Then she put on a impressively good fake smile. ?Well I thank you for the information Ms. Daiyousei. Perhaps we'll meet again when I go to visit this goddess. Assuming you've thawed by then of course.?

Daiyousei turned to find Cirno floating soundlessly behind her. Kaguya flew off as the two fairies faced each other. ?Oh hi, Cirno. How long have you been standing there?? Daiyousei's actions seemed completely normal, as if nothing that had been mentioned during the conversation could possibly have been about the other fairy.

Cirno smiled back. ?Not too long. Just long enough to hear something about a snowball fight.? The ice fairy began spinning her arm, forming a ludicrously large snowball in almost no time. ?How about a round. I'll show you the techniques Suika taught me!?

Daiyousei was very glad she had mastered teleportation.

The ensuing scuffle made the tabloids. Surprisingly only Bunbunmaru news got the actual series of events correct.

IcedFairy

Re: Three Days Bright
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2010, 08:43:05 PM »
Stage 3

It would be wrong to say there is an argument among historians over how many active gods there are around the village of Gensoukyo. For one, there are only 2 true historians in area, the Hakutaku and the Librarian. And no one argues with them, because they know all the answers, and that would take the fun out of it. It might also be wrong to call it an argument. Usually it's more idle speculation to pass the time.

One must also remember that when they speak of gods, they mean true gods. Not the various powerful spirits who have obtained quasi divinity, but those beings that feed on faith and reward that faith with miracles.

In any case everyone agrees there are at least two gods. Some claim there are three. A few claim there are four.

The two gods everyone agrees on are Kanako Yasaka and Suwako Moriya of the Moriya shrine. They are widely regarded as the reason Gensoukyo still exists. The youkai and humans who stayed after the Hakurei barrier fell were more social then most, but even then they were loath to band together to face outside threats. Only Kanako's blessings in battle, and occasionally a Tengu army at her command, kept attrition from destroying the village. And only Suwako's calming of the curses left by such slaughter kept the lands from becoming impure. Even now, as Gensokyo follows the rest of the world into twilight, the two god are called upon to grant blessings to those who protect the land from scavengers.

Many claim there is a third god. The Black Sun Beneath the Earth, Heir to the Yagatarasu. A mighty crow that uses her powers to keep the land eternally warm and fertile, despite the changes to the climate, and the slow fading of the sun in the sky. They claim the goddesses of the mountain share their faith with her, so that she can focus on tending the cities underground.

The more foolish claim that the spirit of the frozen lake is a god. One that balances out the fires of the black sun with her own powers over ice. Those who are too vocal about this usually find their laundry frozen in interesting ways, or are caught in freak July snowstorms.

Amusingly those that claim there are four goddesses are correct. However the fourth goddess isn't the ice fairy. It is instead a quiet goddess who moved here after getting tired of being compared with her sister. A goddess who doesn't need faith to live, but only because she cannot die. Iwa-naga-hime, daughter of Oho-yama-tsuna-kami, goddess of eternal life.

She was not, as some tales claim, hideous. She was in fact very plain looking. Her house was a lava cave, marked only by a frayed sacred rope, one that she made herself. She neither collected faith nor performed miracles, except when she was visited by one of the two people that knew of her existence. Like today.

Today she summoned her godly powers and, with great effort, conjured up a fine green tea, which she then prepared as the presence of her visitor approached.

Fujiwara no Mokou clapped twice at the entrance to the cave. ?Shitsure Shimasu.? Then with the proper rituals followed she entered in, bowing politely to her host while placing a dish of mochi on a rock that could serve as a table. ?Sorry I haven't dropped by in a while.?

Iwanaga smiled, ?It's alright, I know you're busy these days. How has my favorite niece been?? She poured two cups of tea and produced plates for the mochi.

Mokou looked tired. ?I'm okay, I guess.? She lightly sipped the tea. ?I've been helping the Child of Miare with her work. She told me that this was the last Gensokyo Chronicle. The Hieda line has ended.?

?I see.? Iwanaga sampled some of the mochi. There wasn't much faith in the offering, Mokou wasn't exactly reverent, but it was enough for the tea. ?I was actually surprised that she reincarnated again. With all the intermarriage you two are the only pure blooded humans left in the village. Did she seem happy to complete the work of so many lifetimes??

Mokou paused and thought about it. ?Yes. Perhaps a little sad as well, but she seemed happy it was all done.? Then Mokou smirked. ?She seemed happiest when she said she was going to go play as much as she could this lifetime, since she didn't have to petition the Yama for reincarnation any more.?

Iwanaga chuckled. ?I imagine she'll spend most of that time in your library. The Child of Miare is just that sort of person.? She took a sip of her own tea. ?How many tomes do you have now anyway??

?Two billion, seven hundred twenty three million, eight hundred and ninety four thousand, nine hundred ninety six.? Mokou recited. ?Of which about one thousand ever get used. Mainly those books on magic. Which are of course the hardest ones to keep in good shape, since they can't be stored in any other medium.? Mokou sighed. ?Keine would have been annoyed that the history section gets completely ignored.?

?Well to be fair it's much easier to ask you then hunt for the items themselves. You were there after all.? The goddess smiled. ?Besides, I think she would have been happy seeing you find another purpose to your life.?

Mokou looked slightly embarrassed. ?Well the Hakutaku who moved in after she passed away didn't need written works, and I thought it would be a waste if all the histories she wrote just got thrown out. Then people just kept bequeathing me books over the years.? She grimaced slightly. ?Though it's a little annoying that people keep forgetting my name. I should find another stand in for a couple of centuries so people stop calling me 'Librarian-san.' I almost look forward to my fights with her just because she calls me by name, even if it is a curse.?

On that thought Mokou glanced around the cavern. On another ledge she saw a masterfully constructed and sealed envelope. One that emulated a style few in Gensoukyo remembered, much less bothered with. ?I see Kaguya's still sending letters.? Mokou said.

Iwanaga nodded. ?It seems she doesn't want to visit at the same time as you.? She paused to consider the matter then continued, ?I know your situation is complex, but I think things might improve if you apologized. The moon princess is far more willing to forgive then you or I.?

Mokou sat silently for a while. ?I can't. It was the only way I could deal with the matter. Any apology I could make would be a lie.?

Iwanaga's eyes turned very cold. ?That sort of honesty can hurt people a whole lot. You may regret it.?

Mokou winced. ?Kaguya knows anything I said would be a lie, so I really don't have a choice. Besides, as much as I dislike pointing it out, you aren't exactly good at forgiving people yourself, aunt.?

After a pause the goddess laughed briefly. ?True. Though I don't get angry as often as most.? Her eyes softened once again. ?You know, it was because of that that I learned of your ancestry. Your friend, Keine, asked me to removed the curse I placed on your bloodline from you. She thought perhaps with that gone immortality would weigh less heavily on you.?

?Tch. She always did mess around in other peoples affairs.? The immortals soft tone and light smile belied her harsh words.

?I had to explain that wasn't how the curse worked.? Iwanaga sipped her tea. ?Of course the Hourai Elixir is beyond even my power at it's fullest, much less now. Truly a terrible item.? She frowned. ?Though my little sister could have thought of a better plan to be rid of it.?

Mokou said nothing, her eyes distant.

?Is it that terrible to bear my gift instead of my sisters??

Mokou shook her head. ?No. It's not that. It's another mistake I made in the past. Iwakasa.?

?Ah.? The goddess nodded her head. That had been the first story Mokou had told her after all. ?I see.? The two sat in silence for a while.

In the end it was Iwanaga who broke the silence. ?I believe I told you once before to not let things slip by you just because of your immortality. If you follow that advice I think you can make amends.?

Mokou smiled slightly. ?Which part of the conversation should I apply that advice to aunt??

?Why all of it of course.?

The two's conversation drifted then to less serious matters. The state of the islands, the volcano itself and minor events in the village. After a long while Mokou departed, leaving the small mountain cave silent once again.

Iwanaga sat and closed her eyes. Time passed. The void of faith gnawed at her a little, but it couldn't kill her. She had sat like this for centuries.

This time though she she decided to try something different. Tomorrow she would visit the other gods she decided. It would be interesting to see the old rituals in play if nothing else.

Not listening to the advice you give others was more of her sister's trait after all.

--

(Authors Notes: Iwanaga-hime is referenced in Cage in Lunatic Runegate, so I didn't completely make her up. I did Zunify her, as to fit the setting. Both her and her sister Konohana-Sakuya get a few chapters in the Kojiki (though her sister gets the lions share), which I referenced in some of the dialog.

The abridged version is that Konohana-Sakuya bumped into Ninigi and they fell in love. Her father gave them permission to marry and proposed his older daughter Iwanaga as well, but Ningi sent Iwanaga back because she was ugly. Thus he and his people were cursed to have the short life of the cherry blossoms instead of the long life of the stones.

She refers to Mokou as 'niece' because Ningi and Konohana Sakuya's descendants were the imperial line, which the Fujiwara family heavily intermarried with. Their relationship is actually even more distant then Suwako and Sanae's, but I thought Iwanaga might enjoy having a relative.)

IcedFairy

Re: Three Days Bright
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2010, 08:45:41 PM »
Stage 4

Mokou sat on the hill and watched the Sun set. She idly wondered if the sun was really getting more red, or if it was just a trick of the light today. Some of her books said that the oceans would boil before the sun actually turned red, but since physics was slowly packing up and breaking down along with everything else, that might not be true anymore. Maybe Utsuho would know. She'd have to ask the next time she went to the underground. It was still a beautiful sight, and Mokou enjoyed the brief moment of relaxation.

As the sun finally disappeared behind the mountains Mokou's eyes turned towards the other heavenly body. The scarred face of the moon still glowed as brightly as it used to. That was the real reason she was out tonight. The full moon called out to the Youkai blood, just as it entranced the human mind. The village would be bustling tonight, but more importantly those who saw the village and it's surroundings as easy pickings would be energized as well.

Which meant that while the village bustled, it's protectors would be out in force. The mountain was of course guarded by the Tengu, who while reduced in power and number, were still stronger then any force of scavengers. Besides they could call upon the Goddesses to aid them. There was no army on the island that could survive their fury.

The Forest of Magic was less deadly, but far more treacherous, as the fairies still lived in great numbers there. Those that bypassed the myriad illusions, forgotten experiments, and just plain bad terrain found themselves at the frozen lake, and that battle would draw the attention of Gensoukyo's other guardians. Assuming they were needed. Cirno was not, as she claimed, the strongest in Gensoukyo but she was still powerful and incredibly skilled from years of duels, lethal or otherwise.

The rolling hills opposite offered no cover from the eyes of the young Youkai of Flowers. And while she had little to do with the village, those that crossed her soon found death. For while her base strength could be defeated by numbers, there was no defense against the poisons she wielded. Unlike some lines the Kazami only increased in power with each generation.

And Mokou guarded the Bamboo Forest, though few could find their way through the maze. Actually she guarded the edge of the Bamboo Forest, since there was no way to see anything once you entered the thicket. Her wards however, learned very slowly over the centuries from various books of magic, covered the forest thoroughly.

So Mokou sat and waited. Others would have done something to pass the time, but Mokou was used to just waiting. She sat and waited, and waited, and waited... then stood up abruptly as one of her wards shattered.

Mokou reached out with her mind. Feeling where each one of the spells were and finding from there which one had been disturbed. She frowned when she found the spot. It was one of the far ones fortunately, which meant there was still a good chance the culprit would be lost in the grove. But the ward had broken, not just reported back, so the chances of it just being a lost traveler or wandering merchant were slim.

It was also very close to the one area Mokou hadn't set up wards at. The Mansion of Eternity that the forest concealed.

Mokou had no desire to bother Kaguya today, and she was certain Kaguya would be less then pleased with her presence. But if whatever broke the ward moved past Entei if could reach the forest edge undetected. Mokou wasn't going to take any chances with that. She flew into the Bamboo Forest, taking the familiar trail past the grounds where they dueled all the time straight to the front of Entei.

Arriving at the gates, Mokou was greated by the smell of burnt wood and flesh. The incident was seemingly over. The surrounding wall on the North East side had been shattered, as had the building next to it. Small fires were still smoldering, though none were likely to reach the forest and set it ablaze. Whatever had happened, it had been quick and brutal.

In the midst of the devastation was a mass of flesh and metal, a long escaped biotech experiment most likely, though some youkai were foolish enough to consume technology and integrate it into their form. From the damage it had suffered it seemed Kaguya had brought some of the artifacts of the moon to bear. Not a good sign, as the princess preferred to use her own magical skills.

Mokou landed nearby and saw some of the other scars of battle. She noticed the bodies of at least three rabbits lying about, each with fatal wounds. In addition there were signs of weapon damage on other buildings as well, and the lights seemed dimmer.

There were no signs of life.

Mokou moved into the building carefully. She couldn't die, but a bolt through her lungs would be both unpleasant and would force her to take time to heal. Moving past the devastation of the outer hallways, she inspected the floor to see if she could get any clues, and was rewarded with a trail of blood. Very light, but very fresh. She followed it a short distance, where it ended at a shoji door. Mokou considered announcing her presence, then shrugged and opened it.

Kaguya whirled at the sudden sound, power forming at her fingertips. She then stopped when she saw it was Mokou, her look changing to one of confusion. The Lunarian was obviously exhausted, and the back of her dress was torn and red with blood. Probably her own. The rabbit on the pallet in front of her was also in poor shape, though Mokou's practiced eye could tell the rabbits bandages probably only covered flesh wounds. Whatever had hit Kaguya had technically hurt her worse, meaningless as such damage was.

?Why are you here?? The princess asked coldly.

?That thing outside disturbed my routine. I came to get rid of it.? Mokou shrugged. ?Didn't realize it'd be stupid enough to mess around here. Are the rest of the rabbits looking for other intruders or did you send them to fix up the buildings??

Kaguya's face froze. She sat silently for a moment gazing at nothing in particular, then said in a hollow voice, ?There are no other rabbits at Entei.?

Mokou was speechless. No other rabbits at Entei? Three dead was quite the loss, but Entei had always had rabbits....

However as Mokou thought about the matter, it began to make a certain amount of sense. There had been a lot of rabbit youkai marrying into families over the centuries. She just hadn't thought how it would affect Entei.

The two immortals stood there in silence.

Mokou didn't really know what to do now. The one skill set she had never really picked up over the years was people skills. The fact that Kaguya was the other person didn't help either. Words bounced around her mind, old grudges, explanations, questions, but nothing seemed right for the moment.

In the end she settled for what she knew best, no matter how stupid it seemed. There was someone in trouble, and she'd help, youkai or no. ?Can she be moved??

?What?? Kaguya's surprise shook her out of her reverie. And with that her suspicion returned. ?Why does it matter??

?Rabbit youkai are social. She'll need people around to recover well.? Mokou leaned on the door frame. ?She can stay at the library until you grab a spare house.?

?Do you think I'm just going to send her off with you??

?You can stay in the Library too. In fact I was expecting you to, since I doubt you trust my healing skills more then yours.? Mokou couldn't help smirking. ?Don't worry, I have my own house so you won't have to deal with me for long.?

Kaguya looked torn, but only for a second. Then she looked down at the sleeping girl and sighed. ?She can move. Her wounds aren't that bad, I just drugged her to keep her out of shock. She's still young, only eighty, and her family....? Kaguya carefully stroked the girls hair. Then she straightened up and bowed to Mokou. ?I Kaguya Houraisan thank you for aiding my servant in our time of need.? Mokou was impressed. If she hadn't known Kaguya so well she wouldn't have noticed the resentment in the words at all. Apparently she had learned something in the Lunarian decorum classes.

Kaguya's next words shattered that gracious image. ?Well, we'd best hurry so I can wake up early tomorrow and do all the things I need to do. Grab that box there.? She pointed to a medium sized chest by the wall.

Mokou scowled at the princess. ?I'm not your porter. Why do I need to carry your stuff??

Kaguya sniffed and began placing vials in a different pack. ?Because I'm carrying Tei and the other medicines.?

Mokou muttered a few curses, but Kaguya was right. As much as Mokou wanted to let the princess carry her own luggage she wouldn't risk the rabbit girl's life for that. She was halfway to the trunk when something else caught her attention. ?You named her Tei? After that terror? Did you want to be pranked every day??

Kaguya shrugged on the pack and looked down her nose at Mokou. ?I don't know what your talking about. Tewi was a wonderful girl and great helper. I expect her to prank someone else every day.? She had a smug smile as she explained her 'plan.'

?I have a bad feeling about this.? Mokou muttered as she lifted the chest. At least her rival still had spirit. It'd be boring otherwise.

The two once again lapsed into awkward silence as Kaguya put away all the medicines she had out and then carefully lifted Tei from her sleeping spot. The young rabbit youkai muttered something in her sleep, but seemed unaware of her movement. Exiting the room, the two moved down the broken corridor, carefully picking their way through the damaged areas until they could see out into the moonlight. Then they both froze.

The thing that had assaulted the compound was moving again, it's refused mass an ugly mix of greenery and splinters. It had absorbed the debris lying about and it looked like it was trying to integrate the corpses into it's mass. Whatever it was it obviously had good senses too. In the moment that it took the two immortals to recover from the sight, the beast shifted one of the fused weapons towards the two.

Mokou reacted purely by instinct, dropping the box and throwing herself between danger and the humanoids to her left. The beam left a smoldering hole in her shoulder, and took a chunk out of her left lung, but she was used to pain. Her right arm lashed out and a stream of fire washed over the monster, followed by a laser of her own.

Then she remembered exactly who she had just saved. Briefly glancing over her shoulder she saw Kaguya looking from where she was shielding the young rabbit in astonishment. Before either of them could make further sense of the matter the thing began moving again.

Mokou turned back towards it. ?How annoying? she muttered rolling her shoulders to make sure the left one had healed right. She began to walk further into the gardens to draw the creature away from the wounded. She was fairly certain she could beat the thing solo, and knew she and Kaguya could destroy it together, but doing so without anyone else getting hurt was a whole different matter.

She was thinking up a plan to engage the beast when the world exploded.

As Mokou landed smoldering back into the hallway she heard Kaguya muttering. ?Why the hell did that spell survive the millennia?? The words gave Mokou enough focus to recognize the particular burns and the spell that had preceded them. ?Fucking Master Spark? she groaned. She made a mental note to check the library again and restrict any books with that cursed spell in them. That amount of power shouldn't just be casually tosssed about.

After she regenerated, she stood up to see the flower youkai drifting down over the crater, her strange flower umbrella making her look like a genocidal Mary Poppins in blood red clothes. Of the other monster there was no trace. In fact a fair amount of the ground was missing.

Kaguya didn't stop shielding Tei. ?Kazami! Why are you here??

The Youkai frowned. ?How rude. You should show more gratitude princess.? She poked at the stain in the middle of the crater with her umbrella. ?I came here because something was disturbing my sleep. You should be glad I went to all the trouble to get rid of it. That spell takes a while to charge to full. Ah, one second.? She then reached out her hand and sent a miasma over the stains, causing them to darken even more. ?Anyway, since it looks like you're moving out, I was thinking of taking over the mansion.?

Kaguya stared daggers at the youkai. ?We'll talk later.? She picked up Tei, carefully started flying then headed towards the village. Mokou shrugged, picked up the box and followed after, pausing only to ask ?Are you really going to take the mansion? Your mother didn't seem to bother with them.?

?I don't know. Maybe. Maybe I'm just pushing the issue to have a good fight. You two are the only ones who I can go out against anymore. But I imagine you don't want to play tonight.? Deadly eyes met the immortals. ?Oh and don't worry about more intruders human. Gensoukyo is my home too, and those that don't play by my rules die.?

Mokou nodded in gratitude. She could argue the details later. Besides she imagined tomorrow was going to be less then pleasant. Having someone else take over the watch, if only for tonight, would be a welcome reprieve.

As the moon set that night the Librarian, the Princess of Entei, and one sleeping rabbit flew into the village of Gensokyo. They were met by a Tengu, who quickly returned to the mountain, and then entered the library. While no one would be caught eavesdropping, some of the villagers with better hearing heard a loud argument before the lights went out. Rumors immediately began spreading.

Some of them were closer to the truth then the participants in events were willing to admit at the time.

IcedFairy

Re: Three Days Bright
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2010, 08:46:42 PM »
Stage 5

The Library was a unique structure, even in the architectural kitchen sink that was Gensoukyo village. It was three stories tall, while all but a few buildings in town were only one. It was fully enclosed, with small glass windows, unlike most buildings which had large open doors and windows to catch the light. There were several pipes going into the building, though no one knew what they carried or where they came from. And strangest of all, it had what could only be called a shack attached to it, like a remora attached to a shark.

At the moment Kaguya wasn't interested in architecture. She mainly noticed the lights, which had to be electric, coming from the windows. They signaled a place where young Tei might be able to start her recovery.

That place also happened to also be the home of the person she had hated for countless years.

On arriving at the double doors at the front Mokou quickly unlocked the door and stepped inside, Kaguya followed, squinting at the sudden increase in light. She was surprised. She expected to see just rows and rows of books, keeping with Mokou's spartan lifestyle. Instead, while the rows of books were still present of course, there were several other areas. One section was obviously a sitting room. Another contained workstations of an archaic design. Kaguya recognized them as simple ones that were easy to maintain, which explained how they had survived this long. And the back had several totally enclosed rooms. One of which Mokou had unlocked and opened.

The room inside was a 6 tatami room, though it also had a closet and small washroom attached. It had a few hangings and a small table pushed to the side. It actually looked more like a tea room or inn then the inside of a library. Especially when Mokou opened the closet and produced two futon. ?This was supposed to be a cultural exhibit or something, but now it's mainly for travelers that can't stay at the inn.? She laid down one futon carefully and Kaguya happily placed the sleeping rabbit on the mat before checking the young girl for any reopened wounds or other injuries. She had hoped her rival would just leave at that point but Mokou continued speaking. ?By the way that door locks automatically behind you, so if you need to leave you'll have to go through my place.? She gestured to a door opposite the one they came in. ?The inn tends to be 'full' for people who don't seem trustworthy, so I find it best to limit their movements.?

Kaguya simply gave a nod while finishing her checkup. It seemed that both the bandages and the sedative had held. Which meant there was little else that could be done but wait until morning. However, Kaguya was still possessed with a burning need to do something. The adrenaline from the fights was going to burn off eventually, but until then she was wide awake.

So the princess moved to the trunk she had asked Mokou to bring and opened it carefully, hoping the spell of eternity she had placed on it had held. She had stopped using her power on all of Entei many centuries ago, but she still used it to guard certain sentimental objects. It was less effective if the area wasn't suffused with eternity, but it protected from minor accidents just fine. Fortunately while the events of the night had shaken up the contents, nothing had been destroyed. She set a few items in order, then pulled out one large book and a ink brush.

Mokou who had been standing around spoke up again. ?Oi! I thought you said that box had medical supplies! Don't tell me you had me carrying around your luggage just for the hell of it, because I'm not your porter, princess.?

Kaguya shot her a vicious glare. ?There's medicine in here too, fool. Besides I wasn't about to leave everything I own to random scavengers like Kazami. Now leave me be.?

?Some grati...? Mokou's angry retort stopped mid sentence, and her eyes shifted to something in the chest. She then turned away and walked to the far door. ?Fine. Whatever.? She opened it and stepped through into the dark room beyond. She paused while halfway through the door and said, ?You should know better then to worry about the flower youkai though. She's not her mother, or even her grandmother, but she still has the same pride.? With that she closed the door behind her.

Kaguya felt better the moment the door closed. Turning back to her possessions, she noticed the item that Mokou had glanced at. Sitting at the top, a picture of Eirin Yagokoro smiled out at the world from within it's simple frame. Kaguya carefully picked up the photo and gazed at the face of the person who had sacrificed her position just to look after a spoiled Princess who had let curiosity override good judgment.

After gazing at the picture for a while, she moved to put it back in the box. After all she wasn't going to stay here long. But then she remembered the weight of the book she had removed. Instead she placed the photo on the small table. Kaguya knew she was going to need all the support she could get tonight.

Opening the book she began slowly and carefully writing the epitaphs of the rabbits who had fallen this day, pausing occasionally to wipe away her tears. Millenia of existence hadn't made the deaths of those close to her any easier, and she knew that she was also writing the epitaph for Eientei itself. The end of the one place she had been able to call home since the moon had banished her.

It was a long time before she closed the book, turned off the lights, and gave Tei a reassuring pat on the head before falling asleep.

--

Mokou awoke from her rest to the sound of a slamming door. She opened her eyes, then immediately closed them. *I must still be asleep. I hate those dreams where you're tired.* After a pause she heard the door to the library open and shut again. Then she remembered last night. Which meant the sight of Kaguya standing over her with a disdainful expression wasn't a dream. Mokou groaned and opened her eyes again, just in time to see Kaguya burst back into her small home.

The princess was wearing her usual attire, but carrying a bag from which a few vegetables protruded. The scene seemed somewhat surreal in Mokou's mind. ?Oh. You're up. Where's your kitchen?? Kaguya asked.

Mokou stood and stretched. Today was going to be terrible she guessed. ?There,? she said, pointing to the wood planks in the floor that would reveal a small fire pit when removed. ?I can get some pots out of storage too.?

Kaguya looked at the designated space uncomfortably and then back at Mokou. ?You have the most advanced building in the village, complete with electricity from who knows where, and you don't have a kitchen??

?It's a library, not an inn.? growled Mokou.

?Well where do you eat?? shot back Kaguya.

?We don't need to eat. Remember Princess?? retorted Mokou.

Kaguya stared at Mokou in silence, then actually took a good look around the room she was standing in. It was actually better then any place Mokou had lived since her childhood, in that it possessed a real floor, a futon and even a dresser. Mokou hadn't intend to bother with those things, since she really didn't need them, but it seemed stupid to just throw out these items. Even if they weren't good enough for the library they still had some use. From the look on Kaguya's face though the Lunarian obviously considered living like this pure insanity.

Finally Kaguya sighed. ?It's worse then the bamboo cutters house, but I'll have to make due. If you could get those pots...?

Mokou happily left before her rival could think up more insults for her living style. The guest room looked much like she had left it, though the picture of Eirin was now sitting on the table instead of lying in the trunk. The young rabbit girl had shifted a bit in her sleep, but seemed unconscious still. Thus Mokou did her best to be quiet while opening the closet and removing the boxes that contained the little used cooking utensils.

When she passed through the door again with the pots in tow she found Kaguya frowning at the firepit. The princess had managed to get a fire going, but it was fairly obvious she had only a faint idea as to what to do past that. Kaguya was apparently used to much better materials, assuming she knew what she was doing at all. As much as Mokou found the thought of her rival blundering through cooking over a normal fire, she was unwilling to condemn the girl in the other room to the attempts of an amateur. Especially since Kaguya had included eggs in the groceries she had acquired.

?I'll cook.? Mokou said. She held a hand up as Kaguya turned to speak, ?I know what I'm doing here. You'd be better off checking on the girl. You're a better doctor, and she knows you.?

Kaguya looked mildly annoyed and offended, but she nodded after Mokou was finished. ?Yes I should be there when she wakes.? Kaguya stood and walked through the door to the library. Before she closed it behind her she took a deep breath and looked directly at Mokou. ?Thank you,? she said.

Mokou shrugged as the door closed. Then she put a few more small logs on the fire before increasing the heat with her magic to get the fire to the proper level for cooking. She then started sorting out what she'd need to cook first. As she placed the first set on the cabinet she noticed the one decoration in the room was out of place. Mokou carefully shifted the picture back to it's original position before kneeling down. ?So Keine, what do you think I should do?? She stared at the picture of the smiling woman, but all it offered was the comfort of it's presence and a few memories.

--

?It's done.? Mokou said opening the door. This time two heads turned towards her. It seemed the young girl had awoken while Mokou had been cooking. ?Good. I just finished Tei's checkup,? Kaguya replied.

The words were a lie, as the rabbit girl had been crying recently. With such light wounds the actual rebandaging couldn't have taken as much time as it did for Mokou to finish cooking. Obviously Kaguya had broken the news about Tei's family as well, something Mokou was privately glad she had missed. Intruding on others grief was always awkward, and there was enough awkwardness already.

As she moved the table to the center of the room and began to place the meal on it she took a better look at the young rabbit. The girl did bear a startling resemblance to the Tewi that had annoyed Mokou when she first arrived in Gensoukyo. The main differences being straighter and longer hair, red eyes, and a less cheery disposition, though the last was probably due to recent events. She noticed the girl was watching her in return, ears twitching in thought.

She finished ?Well I'll leave you alone then.?

?Wait.? Mokou turned to the princess, who had balled her hands into fists. ?You cooked it, so it's only right you should eat as well,? she said. Tei stopped studying Mokou to give her boss a questioning glance.

Mokou paused. She didn't need to eat, but she could get really hungry. And cooking didn't help. ?Sure.? She sat at the table and motioned to Tei. ?Serve yourself first kid. You need it more then us.?

Kaguya gave the other immortal a sour look then nodded to the rabbit youkai. Tei grabbed a large portion for her small size, then began eating. She obviously sensed the tension in the room, but it probably was pretty low on her list of things that were bothering her. Kaguya took most of the rest, probably since she cared about eating for some reason. Mokou ate her own portion slowly, because it always hurt more if you rushed eating after fasting for two months or so.

?Um....? Mokou looked up to find Tei looking at her. ?Thank you for allowing me to stay over Ms...??

?Fujiwara no Mokou,? the immortal said.

The rabbit girl dropped her chopsticks and slid backwards a bit. ?Not the Mokou who kills the princess every month??

?Yeah.? Mokou smirked. It was good to be recognized.

Kaguya frowned. ?Hey! I kill her too!?

Tei's eyes widened at the confirmation. ?The Mokou who eats rabbits who are caught lying??

This time Mokou frowned ?What? I'm no Youkai.?

?She's too lazy to eat most of the time.? Kaguya sneered.

Tei blinked, but continued on. ?The Mokou who stole the fires of hell to power her library and sends the souls of those who don't return books on time to eternal torment??

?I didn't steal... Hey how did you know I got my power from the hell crow?? Mokou's eyes opened in shock, while Kaguya seemed thoughtful at the revelation. ?So that's where your electricity comes from.?

?The Mokou who raised an army of werecreatures to conquer the moon but who was stopped by a cowardly moon rabbit and two knife wielding maid twins??

The two immortals looked at each other. ?How did that story get so muddled over time?? Mokou asked. Kaguya shrugged.

?The Mokou who slew one of the four devas of the mountain by shouting bad words at her through a megaphone crafted from solid...?

?Now you're just making things up,? Kaguya and Mokou said in unison. Tei looked annoyed that she had been found out.

?I guess the soul thing is a lie too then?? Tei asked in a disappointed tone.

Mokou shook her head. ?You sound as disappointed as that crazy underground miko when I shot the idea down in the first place.?

The girls ears twitched again. ?So it was in the planning stages? I see....?

Mokou looked straight at her rival. ?I blame you for this.?

Kaguya snorted. ?You blame me for everything.?

Further commentary was cut short by a knock on the door. Mokou frowned, then stood and opened it. Standing there was a very young girl, who looked slightly embarrassed. She bowed and said, ?Um, I'm sorry to disturb you Mokou, but it's a little after opening hours, and I really wanted to get started on the next book in the series....? The girl paused on seeing the other two people there. ?Eh? Ms. Houraisan? Here?? She looked back and forth between the two immortals in confusion.

Mokou sighed. ?It's a long story. I'll tell it later.?

Kaguya blinked as she studied the girl in turn. She didn't think they had met before. Especially since a young human would have stood out these days. Then she realized who it must be. ?You're the Child of Miare aren't you? I remember speaking to you a few times over the centuries.?

The human girl bowed. ?Yes. I'm Hieda Sen. Pleased to meet you again.?

Mokou bowed in apology to her guests. ?Sorry, I've got to open the library. I'll be back soon.?

Kaguya just sipped her miso soup. ?Don't worry yourself. Feel free to take your time.?

Mokou unlocked the door leading into the main library then moved to unlock the front door. ?Sorry about that. Kaguya's probably going to be here for a couple of days until she finds somewhere else to live, so it's going to be a mess around here.?

The child of Miare looked up at Mokou. ?She still seems to dislike you.?

?I don't think much of her either really.? Mokou stated. ?But she's got more of a grudge then me right now.?

Sen blinked and turned away. ?Right now? Are you planning on switching again??

Mokou didn't really have an answer for that. So she simply unlocked the front door. Turning back to the room a thought crossed her mind. ?Actually, would it be alright if I asked you for a favor??

?Eh??

?Two favors actually, but one won't be all that hard. Kaguya and I both want her gone as fast as possible, and that means I'm going to need to help her clean out Entei and find a new place. If you could I'd like you to watch over the library...?

The eleven year old leaped to attention. ?You can count on me.?

?...and keep an eye on Tei.?

?Um, you mean that rabbit girl?? Sen looked a lot less enthusiastic. ?I'm not that good at keeping people entertained.?

?Just tell her the various rumors you've heard over the centuries. Play a game or something. She's had a rough time but she seems to perk right up when people are around and talking. However, Kaguya's going to be running around trying to fix everything else, which means no one else is going to be around. I don't know if rabbits can actually die from loneliness, but I don't want to find out.?

?I guess I can try.? Sen seemed unconvinced.

?I'm sure you'll do fine.? Mokou said. She didn't add 'because you're great at rumors and half truths,' since the girl was helping her out a great deal.

?Anyway I probably should see to my other guests. I leave the library in your care.?

--

Sen hesitated slightly before opening the door. It wasn't like she was an antisocial shut in like many of Gensoukyo's scholars. In fact with her memories she had become quite used to dealing with people. However, remembering how to do things from a past life wasn't quite the same as doing it yourself, and it had been awhile since she had been free enough during her brief lifespans to sit down with other children for any length of time.

Still she reflected it would be nice to talk to someone who didn't treat her as a curiosity. Or at least treated her as a different curiosity.

Sen opened the door quietly. Tei was sitting quietly in the room, her eyes dull. She seemed to not notice Sen's entrance. ?Um. Hello.? Sen said. The rabbit girls ear's twitched but she remained silent. ?I'm Heida Sen, chronicler of Gensoukyo. Nice to meet you.?

Tei looked up and nodded. ?Hello. I'm Inaba Tei.? Her eyes seemed to brighten now that someone else was with her. ?I didn't know princess Kaguya had a magician friend.?

Sen blinked. ?Um, I'm not a magician. I'm a human. And we're more acquaintances really.?

Tei seemed confused. ?But if you're a human how would you know the princess? Aren't humans short lived?? She lit up a bit ?Or perhaps you....?

?Actually my power is to remember all my past lives.? Sen interrupted before the rabbit could devise too strange a theory. ?So I've run into Kaguya and Mokou a lot, over time.?

?How boring,? Tei sighed. ?You sure you aren't actually the history of the planet given living form??

?Certain.? Sen wondered where exactly Tei got her odd theories. Maybe Entei had a library she didn't know about. ?Isn't perfect memory over 1,000 lifetimes interesting enough??

?Well the Princess has pretty good memory and it's all been the same lifetime so...? Tei shrugged to attempt to take the sting out of the words. ?But she never told us much about this Mokou, or why they hate each other.?

Sen couldn't resist the unspoken invitation to speak on the matter. ?It's the longest running feud in existence, except for perhaps Izanagi and Izanami.? Sen replied. ?It started when Kaguya snubbed Mokou's father, though I don't think anyone knows what it's actually about anymore.?

?Huh? Tei's ears twitched again. ?That's kinda sad. I wonder what everyone else would have thought about that.? Sen noticed the rabbit girls expression seem to darken again.

The young chronicler decided to try to change the focus of the conversation around. Sen drew out two packs of cards. ?Do you know how to play hanafuda??

Tei's eyes seemed to glow for a moment. ?Oh my. You'll have to teach me how.?

--

Mokou wandered the halls of Eientei once again. The place was already feeling empty and abandoned, despite the fact that it's occupants had left less then a day ago. She imagined it was worse for the Princess.

Fortunately the operation hadn't been further complicated by others. The Youkai of Flowers had left a beautifully handwritten note challenging Kaguya to a duel over the mansion. In the blood of some other creature that had tried to take up residence. That had apparently worked as a deterrent, though both Mokou and Kaguya were wondering exactly who had taught her how to write a letter of challenge in perfect Kamakura era style. While Mokou couldn't help but consider it a young style, it was still older then all but about 5 people in Gensoukyo.

In any case Mokou found herself with a problem. She had no idea as to what was valuable in the place. Kaguya was busy shutting down everything that was still dangerous, which meant she wasn't any help. So Mokou was mostly wandering at random. She found a few servants rooms, and tidied those up. She also found a medicine storehouse, but she left that alone because Lunarian medicine was one field she hadn't been able to just pick up over the years.

Finally she wandered through a covered walkway to an outside building. Sliding open the door she found several plants, mostly bonsai. But her eyes were drawn to the one plant in the center. A plant she knew all too well.

The Hourai tree, it's jeweled branches shining in the light let in from the roof, sat in the center of the room.

Mokou had seen the jeweled branch repeatedly over the course of her existence. First the fake that her father had created, then the actual branch in the hands of her rival. She had never really liked the plant. The jewels were pretty, but the branch itself made the whole thing seem dead to her. The ?tree? wasn't much more impressive, being little more then two branches stuck together. When it came down to it, Mokou would place the humble snowdrops that grew just outside the village above that bonsai.

?How stupid.? she muttered to herself. It had taken her some time to admit to herself the branch her father had brought before the princess was a fake, even after she had seen the real thing. It took even longer to admit to herself that most of her initial hatred had been fed by her jealousy. She had envied the attention her father had lavished upon the princess. She hated how he had abandoned her and her mother, even before Kaguya appeared.

Of course Kaguya herself hadn't helped matters, refusing to explain or defend anything and treating the whole thing like a game thought up by an annoying younger relative. By the time Mokou had worked through her own issues she had gotten a new laundry list of reasons to slam Kaguya's face into the ground. Like her (however many times) great aunt had said, Mokou was really bad at letting grudges go.

In a way that tree seemed to represent her grudges. No, their grudges. Dead at it's core, but neither of them were willing to look past the shiny jewels to admit it. Just like the fools the Lunarians had handed the plant to before, they fought over a meaningless scrap. A symbol of impurity.

Mokou stepped forward and picked the plant up carefully. She and Kaguya would probably never see eye to eye, but maybe they could go to merely disliking each other. Both Keine and Iwanaga-hime, had told her to strive for that. Maybe now was her chance. Mokou had never been good with breaking patterns, or with forgiveness. But she wasn't going to give up without trying.

Besides Mokou figured Kaguya probably liked the stupid plant. It was probably going to have to be moved anyway.

Mokou took the plant and retraced her steps through the mansion. It wasn't long before she arrived at the lab where Kaguya had been working on shutting down the last of the Lunarian artifacts. She found the princess still there, pouring over a scroll next to an orb in the far corner. Mokou smiled, then worked at making the smile seem less biting and more friendly. ?Hey,? she called out. Kaguya turned in surprise.

?I heard you were looking for this a while back. Is that still true?? Mokou said presenting the tree then placing it on the shelf beside her.

Kaguya's frown twitched downward a little but she simply said, ?Yes I'll want to take that as well.? She then turned away.

Mokou sighed. *That didn't go as well as I hoped.* she thought to herself. However Mokou wasn't one to give up easily. ?I know you don't like me, but can we pretend to get along for a little? If nothing else to keep from upsetting Tei any more. Just let the matter rest??

Mokou looked up to see Kaguya already halfway across the room. Mokou started to sidestep but Kaguya quickly slammed her foot down on Mokou's and started choking the other immortal. Mokou ignored the pain and struck the pressure points on Kaguya's left arm that forced her grip to loosen. Before she could break away however Kaguya took them both to the ground. Luck wasn't with Mokou and she hit her head hard both against Kaguya's head and the floor, dazing her.

Kaguya's hands tightened around Mokou's neck. Mokou's vision began to waver, but she swore that the princess was crying as she screamed, ?How dare you! How DARE you! You force your way into my life, drag me into your stupid vendetta, have the GALL to punish me for not paying enough attention to your problems, and then you say it's over? Now that you've dealt with your problems by hurting me as much as you could, it's all fine and we can go about our business? You told me I never gave a damn about you except how your affected my life. When have you ever cared about ME except how I affected you? WHEN??

Mokou raised a shaking arm to blast the Lunarian off her, but the familiar words struck home. Or maybe it was the lack of oxygen. But for a second, just one, Mokou was confused. Then her sense of pride kicked in and she prepared her counter attack.

Around that point Mokou's neck snapped.

--

Kaguya had finished wiping the tears from her eyes by the time Mokou had recovered. The whole experience seemed surreal. Mokou had never fallen that easily in any of their fights. Even when surprised she quickly turned the shock into rage. There seemed only one explanation for how easy this had been. ?Did you just let me win??

Mokou frowned then closed her eyes and massaged her aching neck. ?Maybe.?

?You never let me win.?

Mokou simply shrugged and stood up.

It was at this point Kaguya decided, based firmly on her years of sporadic medical training of course, that she needed a drink. Admittedly this had been medical advice she had heard from the Oni, but it seemed like sound advice right now. She walked to one of the supplies cabinets, grabbed a bottle of ethanol (marked as acid to keep the rabbits out of it) and took a swig. It was terrible of course, but far quicker then working through a bottle of shochu.

?What the hell!? Have you lost your mind?? The bottle was rapidly ripped from Kaguya's hands. She looked up to find Mokou looking at her incredulously. The victim rushing to ?rescue? the murderer. It was too ridiculous. She couldn't help but start laughing. The resulting look on Mokou's face only made her laugh harder. When Mokou smelled the alcohol fumes and started blushing over her mistake Kaguya had to hold on to the shelves to keep standing.

After she had regained her breath Kaguya waved at the bottle. ?You can have some if you want.?

Mokou's frowned and placed the liquid back on the shelving. ?I'm fine. Thanks.?

Kaguya snickered again. ?I suppose with your refusal to stoop to eating, drinking after a battle would be something you would have stopped over the years. Though I suppose that there wasn't pretty enough to be a real danmaku fight.?

Mokou managed to smile a bit at that. ?Also I prefer to drink actual drinks, not medical supplies.?

Kaguya chucked. ?Ah well for that we'd need to go to the kitchen. This way, this way.? Kaguya stepped out the door and began to walk down the long corridors of Eientei. Thee kitchen was another outlying building, more due to tradition then because of any fire worries of course. Kaguya entered it with slightly less grace then usual and grabbed a bottle of shochu and two glasses. ?Here,? she said, placing one glass at the other end of the table and filling it.

Mokou was still looking at Kaguya oddly. ?Is this an apology for killing me??

Kaguya snorted. ?That wasn't much of a death. Clean break, no lost organs. I bet you can't even feel it anymore. We've done worse to each other at parties.?

Mokou frowned then sighed, shrugged and poured Kaguya a cup. ?Yeah. I suppose we have.? She took a drink. ?Though to be honest I mainly went along with those ideas because I thought I'd win.?

?I've noticed you don't like losing much,? Kaguya said. She didn't feel as bitter about that as before. The alcohol was probably kicking in. ?So when did you become so over protective? When we first met you really only seemed to care about killing me. Later I remember you bringing humans in from the forest who had gotten hurt or lost, and now...?

Mokou drained her cup to try to hide her embarrassment. ?What? I need a reason to act like a decent person? And why do you suddenly care??

?Didn't you complain about how I never cared about your thoughts or feelings? Well that means we have to talk to each other. And more then polite insults and jibes before a bit of murder.? Kaguya waved her arm about for emphasis.

?Tch, fine.? Mokou slammed her cup down next to the bottle and angrily indicated it should be refilled. After a second cup was tossed down she spoke. ?I'm sure you can guess it was Keine who got me out of isolation.?

?Ah let me guess. Took you in after a fight and nursed you back to health??

?Well, that happened a few times, but it really wasn't the start.? Mokou seemed pensive. ?I met her before we ran into each other again actually. She came hunting me after I scared off some human by accident. I was just living day to day then so we didn't get in a fight. She said a whole lot of stuff about understanding how I felt being human but not human.? Mokou gave a self deprecating smile. ?I wasn't exactly receptive to the speech at the time. But it brought me back to reality. So I started wandering around more, which is when I found Gensoukyo.?

Kaguya sighed. ?And immediately decided to set yourself up in the Bamboo Forest for some reason.?

?Yeah. Bad luck for you there.? Mokou shrugged. ?I was still hiding from the world I guess. But as time passed, well you know Gensoukyo.?

?Yep. Violent, rude and strangely egalitarian.? Kaguya chuckled remembering the events that led to her opening Entei up to the world. ?That I understand.?

?So I started helping people I found, and I enjoyed it.? Kaguya noticed Mokou was rapidly emptying the bottle so she grabbed another one, despite her lack of balance. ?After a bit longer I found I didn't really care about the whole youkai-human thing so I started helping youkai too.?

?And it became so ingrained by now you'll do it even if you hate the people involved.?

?Sure if you want to put it in the most unflattering terms possible.? Mokou smirked at her. ?Besides you were forcing yourself to keep acting like the perfect house guest, and you were more pissed off then me at the time.?

This time Kaguya had to drink to cover a blush.

Mokou focused her gaze on Kaguya. ?Now it's your turn. When'd you decide to start doing things other then just running the manor? I know you didn't have any skills as a doctor before, and I'm still surprised you have the faintest idea on how to cook.?

?Hey I'll have you know cooking is an important skill for a lady to possess, even if it can be left to the servants most of the time.?

Mokou seemed to accept the point. ?Okay. And the rest? You can't have just got bored.?

Kaguya snorted. ?I was that bored! I mean sure Eirin's plan to hide us from the moon worked almost perfectly, but it was incredibly dull. That was Eirin's flaw. Everything was more fun when her plans messed up. Otherwise we'd talk to a few people and move the furniture and nothing would happen.?

?Huh. I thought you would have taken up the doctor stuff because you wanted to understand her better.? Mokou mused.

?Well yeah. But that was futile. Even the other master craftsmen of the moon didn't understand Eirin when she got into her theories.? Kaguya sighed. ?Took me a while to get over that.?

?I can understand that. Lady was scary when she put her mind to something. Only people that held a candle to her were the Ghost Princess and Sukima, and Sukima only because her mind didn't work right.?

Kaguya noticed Mokou's gestures were becoming quite exaggerated. Which was good because she was having trouble focusing.

?Tewi occasionally managed to pull off some really impressive tricks. Those were real fun days. I think even Eirin liked fixing broken plans more then just winning all the time.?

Mokou nodded. ?So that's why you named the girl after her eh? Trying to get back some of the fun times.?

Kaguya drank a bit more and thought on the matter. ?Maybe. Though the best times always seemed to come and go.?

?Yeah?

The two sat in silence for a while. Kaguya was certain they were forgetting several things, but that didn't really matter. They could always do it later. Besides a more important though was working through her mind.

?It's because we don't have a shrine maiden around.? Kaguya declared. ?Whenever we had the shrine maiden things were exciting. You'd kick over the donation box and people'd start falling all over themselves to get in on the fun.?

?Yeah. Yer right. That's what all the great times had in common.? Mokou seemed struck by Kaguya's reasoning ?We've gotta shine maiden but she's just too serious. Bet she doesn't even drink half as much as the other tengu.?

Another thought straggled into Kaguya's mind. ?Ya know, we could break out the old spellcard rules and when we beat her FORCE her to do some drinking.?

Mokou waved down the suggestion. ?No way. She'd refuse. 'Can't let my vigilance down.' Way too serious.?

Kaguya sighed. ?Guess not. We'd have to get her to challenge us. And the only way we could do that is to set fire to the shrine or something....?

Mokou paused then set down her cup. ?I can set fires.?

Kaguya stood using the table for balance and raised a fist in the air. ?Then lets hurry up and get this stuff to your place so we can get started!?

?There's no way we'd get all yer stuff back in one trip.? Mokou protested.

?We don't need all. Just most. Yemme show you the power of the moon's technology!?

--

?Riichi!? Tei said as she grabbed the sake cup and blue ribbon chrysanthemum cards. The rabbit girl smiled even wider when the next card flipped into play was the Moon, with the Sakura banner card still on the field she had 2 possible instant wins on her turn.

?Ah! I can't believe I missed that! What's wrong with me?? Heida Sen cursed. She had been making small mistakes throughout the games. Even after they took a break she still kept making mistakes. She wondered if this Tei could steal luck instead of grant it.

Well she wasn't going to slip up on this play. She had to take the moon. She slapped down a matching card and placed the moon into her pile, then flipped the new card and smiled at the Crane. She slapped it down on a matching Pine card and placed it next to the Moon and Phoenix. ?Game. Three Days Bright. 5 Points.?

?Feh.? Tei dropped her cards, revealing another sakura card. ?So close.?

There was the sound of a door being slammed open from the cottage. The two young girls looked up to see Kaguya and Mokou burst through the second door. ?We're back!? They shouted, before tossing a strange looking box onto the floor. Sen immediately noticed they were drunk even by Gensoukyo standards. Tei did too by her look of total shock.

Mokou gave Sen a wave while Kaguya went and hugged Tei. ?I'm sorry I left you so long. But don't worry! We thought a somethin' fun to do.?

Mokou smiled. ?We're gonna burn down the shrine. You can be a mid boss.? She turned to Sen with a stumble. ?You don't got cards so you can't play. Sorry.?

Kaguya seemed offended. ?Mid boss? Tei's gonna be a Stage 5 boss. Least Stage 4.?

?Sure. Sure.? Mokou accepted the rebuke with calm.

?Um I don't think Ms Kochiya will be happy about that.? Sen tried to point out.

?Yep!? Mokou's voice tried to drop to a whisper. ?It's an incident.?

?But Princess Kaguya, I haven't made spellcards. Ever. Danmaku's purely for training now.? Tei protested.

?No worries!? Kaguya help up a set of cards. ?You can use these, cause your powers are alike.?

Sen looked over at the cards Kaguya was waving around. ?Hey those aren't Tewi's old cards. Those are Reisen's.?

Kaguya smiled and patted the rabbit girl on the head. ?Yep. Tei's got moon rabbit in her so she has the hypnosis eyes.?

Sen blinked. ?Hypnosis eyes. So that means those bad plays were....?

Tei quickly waved at Sen. ?Thanks for playing with me. It was real fun. I have to go for midboss training. See you later. Promise.? Then grabbed Kaguya by the hand and ran out the door. Mokou merely laughed.

?Mind if I close early?? She asked stumbling in the direction of the door.

Sen just sighed. ?Not really. I'll grab the book I need and lock up behind me. You go have fun.?

Mokou smiled even more. ?Thanks. I'll see 'bout calling you out for dinner after training.? She then flew out the door.

Sen sighed again, then smiled. It seemed like just maybe things might be getting better for two of Gensoukyo's oldest residents. She began to clean up the room, putting the table to the side, and picking up the cards. She stopped however when she reached her 20-point cards. The Phoenix, the Moon and the Crane of Longevity.

As she left the room she looked back on the table. Next to the picture of Eirin Yagokoro sat three cards, her personal prayer for the future.

IcedFairy

Re: Three Days Bright
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2010, 09:02:29 PM »
Stage 6

Once again the full moon rose over Gensoukyo, and once again Mokou wandered out to the hills between the village and the Bamboo Forest to stand vigil.  It was probably safe to leave guarding the forest to it's new inhabitants, but Mokou wasn't the type to let go of traditions easily.  Besides it gave her some time alone to think, something she'd not had much of with the guests that had moved in.

Admittedly things were going better then they had any right to.  Despite living for all intents and purposes under the same roof she and Kaguya had only killed each other five times in the past six months.  Their mutual desire not to break their own house, and a desire to keep Tei from seeing the worst of the violence, had stopped a couple more fights from breaking out of course.  Still they actually managed to go most days without an argument, much less a brawl.

Maybe the incident they had started together had something to do with that.  Far more likely was how similar the two were in certain ways.  They both were incredibly lazy outside of their personal interests for example.  Which was probably one of the reasons why Kaguya was still living in the guest room.  Moving again would be a real pain.  Especially since the Library was the building closest to what Kaguya would consider inhabitable.

Still there was a lot of conflict between the two.  And not all of it was just minor grudges from the times when they were just killing each other because that was tradition.  So it was still refreshing to have some time alone.

Leaning back, Mokou stared up at the broken full moon.  It seemed more fitting now.  Just as there was no rabbit pounding mochi on it's face, there were no rabbits pounding mochi here on earth.  Tei had quit the practice after she had moved into the library.  Perhaps it brought back bad memories.

Mokou idly noted that rabbits pounding mochi was going to become another thing that no one living would remember.  A wave of nostaligia washed over her and she found her mind drifting to the past....

--

Keine carefully put the brush down, making sure her trembling hands wouldn't send any drops back onto the manuscript she had just finished.  It was pure vanity at this point, much like the spells that prevented her age from showing.  She already could feel the presence of a true Hakutaku in Gensoukyo.  One that had no need for scrolls and written tomes.  Undoubtedly it was already creating it's own history.

Still Keine couldn't help having a human desire for people to appreciate her work.  That someone would one day read her history and be touched by it.  Luckily for her she already knew one person who had been affected by her works, even if the girl steadfastly refused to read them.

?Damn it Keine, you shouldn't still be up.  It's bad for your health.?

Keine chucked at the angry words.  She turned to find Mokou standing in the doorway staring at her disapprovingly.  Keine carefully stood, while thinking on how such little changes meant so much.  When Mokou had first moved in she would have simply been annoyed quietly in another room.  And for a long period she would have been leaning against the doorway, pretending to be unconcerned.  But now the two had become close enough that Mokou cared enough to openly admit she was worried.

Still the immortal was overreacting a bit.  ?Now now, Mokou.  It's far worse for me to be sedentary all the time.  I have to get some exercise in.?

Mokou frowned even more.  ?Well you should get it in during the day, not in the middle of the night.  Besides writing scrolls is hardly exercise.?

Kiene smiled apologetically.  ?I suppose not.  But it's bad enough I'm going to stop when I die, I'd hate to let something as minor as old age stop me.?  She started heading back to the sleeping room.

Keine barely had time to realize she'd tripped on one of the sitting cushions before she found herself halfway to the floor in Mokou's arms.  The were Hakutaku clung to the young woman's body while trying to regain her balance.  ?Sorry Mokou.  Maybe you were right about it being late.?

?Idiot,? Mokou muttered.

Keine found herself being lifted, then Mokou began carrying her to the bed.  She considered trying to convince Mokou to let her make her own way, but it was too comforting to just cling to the other woman and listen to unceasing beat of Mokou's heart.  She frowned as the sound went away while Mokou set her down in the bed, then smiled again when Mokou laid down beside her and allowed her to snuggle up next to the woman.

Her smile faded in concern as she felt a drop of moisture run past her cheek.  She pulled Mokou closer with one arm while brushing the tears away with her other hand.  ?Shh.  You shouldn't...?

?Don't.  Don't ask me not to cry.?  Mokou's voice caught for a moment.  ?Ask me anything else.  But don't ask me not to cry.?

Keine closed her eyes at the pain in Mokou's voice.  ?Okay Mokou.  I won't ask you.?  She put her other arm back around Mokou's body, trying to comfort the immortal with her presence.

The two lay in silence for a while, each trying to cling to the moment.

Finally Keine whispered.  ?Mokou.  The cherry blossoms bloom tomorrow.?  Mokou's grip tightened almost painfully.

The 60 year cycle.  The eternal cleansing ritual of the world.  The memories of youkai and humans alike would fade.  And with that the final connections the were hakutaku had would be broken.  Keine had always considered it a fitting end.  But now as the moment approached she wanted just a bit more time.  For her and for the girl by her side.

?How can you stand it?? Mokou whispered harshly.

?How can I stand what?  Growing old?? Keine quietly asked in return.

?Not that.  How can you stand everyone forgetting you?  How can you stand dying because they can't remember you enough to keep your history alive??

?This is how it ends for all were-hakutaku.?  She cupped Mokou's chin and softly kissed her.  ?Besides, I know that someone will remember me.  Remember me for all eternity.?

Keine felt Mokou nod as more tears streamed down the woman's face.  Once again silence overtook the room.  Kiene once again was entranced by the solid beat of Mokou's heart.  She heard it change slowly over the night; as Mokou's tears stopped and started, as they kissed in the dark, then as Mokou finally collapsed into sleep.

The steady rhythm so entranced Keine that she didn't even notice when her own pulse stopped.

---

Kaguya nodded in satisfaction as she found the scroll she had been searching for in the vast library.  She picked it up carefully, knowing that even with the many layers of anti aging magic on the scroll it would still be very delicate.

She casually looked around to see if anyone was about, but that seemed unlikely.  The visitors had gone home, Mokou was on patrol, and while Tei had skipped the full moon mochi today, Kaguya had been certain to make sure she got the same amount of sedatives in her normal food.  It would be a while before Tei learned all the tricks her predecessor had.

Certain now she was alone, Kaguya carefully unrolled the scroll that probably contained her own story.

Kaguya wasn't quite sure what she was searching for.  Bias perhaps, though the Hakutaku didn't seem the type to twist the truth.  Information maybe?  That seemed most likely.  While the conversations the two immortals had shared weren't as bitter as they had been over the previous millenia, there was one area they never could manage to speak about.  The first incident where their lives had crossed.

Kaguya unrolled the scroll slowly, quickly moving past passages.  She probably could have skipped more if she knew more about earth history, but that hadn't really been one of her concerns before she arrived, or for that matter immediately after she began her flight from her lunar pursuers.  Finally she stopped at a familiar passage, one that started with an old woodcutter chopping open a bamboo stalk.

It was odd reading the passages.  Keine's history text didn't work on readability like the stories had, but instead focused on the facts of the matter.  She did frown again at the failures that those lords had been.  Only lord Abe, who she had sent to find the fire robe, was worthy of his title at all, and even he had given up far to easily to be considered worthy of her.

The only mention of Mokou so far had been the sentence stating that Lord Fujiwara had dismissed his concubine and child before setting off on his ?journey.?

She skimmed through the surprisingly accurate account of her escape with Eirin from the lunar emissaries, then past the part where the Emperor ordered a samurai named Iwakasa to destroy the Hourai Elixer at the top of the tallest mountain in the land.

As she opened the scroll past that two envelopes fell out.  Kaguya looked at them in surprise.  Both the notes looked very new, yet she was almost certain this scroll hadn't been opened in some time.  She reached down and found one was addressed to her, written in the same hand that drew the history text.

The other was addressed to Mokou, in a stylized hand that Kaguya still recognized.  On a hunch she sniffed the letters.  Sure enough, the strange smell of the Hourai Elixer still clung to the parchment.

Kaguya smiled slightly.  ?Seriously Eirin.  Telling me the Hourai Elixer isn't a toy, then using it as a cheap preservative.  What were you thinking??

She wondered when these letters were from.  When exactly the two had begun conspiring together.  If it had been before or after that night...

--

Eirin raised an eyebrow at the young girl before her.  ?What else would you want to know about the Hourai Elixir??

?Just curious,? Kaguya stated innocently.  Eirin knew better then to trust that voice though.  That was the same response that the princess had given when she had asked about it the first time.  The question that had led to her sin and banishment.

Kaguya continued, ?My question is admittedly more tangential.  How many others have taken the hourai elixir??

Eirin pondered the question for a bit.  She really should have expected Kaguya to ask that question much earlier.  Then again Kaguya seemed to be a blind spot for her.  Eirin never exactly understood why Kaguya could surprise her again and again.

The answer of course was fairly simple.  ?I can't say how many have been granted the elixir after my defection, but before I left the moon eighty seven people had drank the Hourai elixir."

"Of those, twenty one of those have been granted something close to death by their patron deities, sixty four have been sealed away by various forces, and there are two who are somewhat sane and free.?  Eirin smiled at Kaguya's surprised look.  ?Did you really think that we Lunarians would make people unkillable without keeping an eye on them?  They are a source of impurity that can't be stopped my normal means.  This is what led to your exile in the first place.?

The exile princess frowned.  ?So they would still be looking for me.?

Eirin laughed slightly.  ?I told you that you were far too calm about your fugitive status.  But to tell the truth, you shouldn't need to worry.  The moon is slow to act, and they probably don't trust their agents to act against me.?  She chuckled again.  ?Besides, even if they did act there are two immortals here, not just one.?

?Hmph.  I suppose she's the one you were talking about when you said 'somewhat' sane.  Well I suppose she would act if someone were to deny her 'vengeance.'?

Kaguya looked directly at her oldest friend.  ?So why not three immortals Eirin??

Eirin's breath caught for a second.  This conversation she'd been expecting for some time.

?I will never take the Hourai Elixir myself princess.  Even though that means the Earths impurity will kill me some day.?

Kaguya sat and stared at her, waiting for her explanation.  Eirin continued, ?I didn't leave the earth because I wanted to be immortal.  I left to continue my work away from Earths impurity.  Away from those who would seek to try to use me for their own ends.  That was what I left behind.  I've never desired the endless life the Hourai Elixir provides.?

Kaguya's face fell.  Eirin had always suspected the princess had held onto the idea that Eirin would take the Hourai Elixir and stay with her forever.  Kaguya had been maturing though, much like Reisen.  Corrupted by earths impurities, she had become something more then she had been before.  Eirin mused that perhaps her desire to see how she herself changed was one reason she was willing to lose her life on the world that she once fled.

Kaguya shifted slightly in her seat.  ?I see.  Well then I need you to help me Eirin.?

Eirin was curious.  ?How can I help princess??

Kaguya slowly and carefully moved forward.  ?I need to know how to get someone who's known me for a long time to see me as a woman.  Not as a spoiled little girl, or a child trying to impress their guardian, but as a woman.? She stopped just far enough away that Eirin could feel her presence clearly.   ?I need to know how, before I lose my chance forever.?

Once again Kaguya had managed to surprise her.

She cleared her throat before replying, ?This... This would be a good start.?

--

Mokou stood from where she had been laying as she felt someone approach.  She of course knew who it was approaching.  ?I didn't expect you to come here,? she stated simply before turning to see Kaguya land softly on the ground.  ?Bored??

The lunar princess held up a letter.  ?No, just delivering this.?

Mokou frowned at the letter then gaped when she saw the name written on it.  ?Wha?  A letter from Eirin?  Where were you keeping that??

?Actually you were keeping it.?  Kaguya held up another letter.  ?With this one.?  Mokou blinked in astonishment when she saw the name on that one.  ?They were sitting in the history scrolls that you complain about no one reading.?

Mokou coughed in embarrassment.  ?Yeah, well I don't read the ones I lived through.  It always seemed like it would be arrogant to look up where you stood in the eyes of a historian.  The one time I checked I was a footnote anyways.?

?Still though.?  Mokou shook her head while smiling.  ?She always did interfere when she didn't need to.  I wish I knew how she roped Eirin into this.?

Kaguya laughed lightly.  ?I have no idea.  Eirin was always a meddler, but I thought she'd be slightly more restrained.?

Mokou took the letter and sat back down on the hillside.  Kaguya sat down next to her with Keine's letter in her hands.  ?You bring a lamp princess?  I don't want to set the hillside on fire today.?

Kaguya summoned a small globe of light and they each opened their respective letters.

Mokou studied the letter in silence for some time.  It wasn't all that long, but Eirin wasn't the type to use small words when a bigger one would suffice.

In it it detailed the princesses history, from her noble birth to her fall and exile.  As she carefully read the letter, Mokou noticed that Eirin's hand became stilted at some points.  She wondered how much guilt Eirin felt for Kaguya's fall from grace.

Mokou considered the letter for a while.  She really couldn't say if her opinion of the Princess had changed at all by reading it.  Perhaps it wasn't meant to change anything at all.  Still there was one thing she wanted to say.

 ?Most Lunarians are jerks aren't they??

Kaguya looked up from the letter she had been rereading.  ?What?  What gives you the right to say that??

Mokou waved the letter in the air.  ?Seriously, executing someone who you know can't die over and over is pretty messed up.?

Kaguya gave her a questioning look.  ?And killing someone you know can't die over and over again isn't??

Mokou frowned and growled out, ?That was revenge.  It's different.  If they were trying to punish you, they could have just skipped to banishment.?

Kaguya seemed caught between annoyance and amusement.  ?I see.  Well I guess I should say your father seems like a jerk as well, in addition to being a failure as a prince.?

?Yep,? Mokou agreed.

Mokou chewed on her lip.  She didn't want to say the next part, but the one thing she prided herself on was honesty.

?Kaguya....  I'm sorry.?

The princess looked at her in surprise.  ?What?

Mokou sighed then snapped out.  ?You treated my father fairly.  Everything that happened to him was his own fault for being a lying bastard.  I shouldn't have blamed you.?

Mokou took a deep breath and turned to face Kaguya, who was still sitting there shocked.  She forced a smile.  ?And I fogive you for sending assassins after me instead of killing me yourself.?

Kaguya managed to gain her composure at that.  ?Forgive me?  I didn't do anything wrong.  'Do what it takes to win' right??

Mokou chuckled.  ?Eh, that's close enough to an apology.?  Kaguya laughed as well.

The two looked up at the moon again in silence.  After a light snow began.

Kaguya smiled.  ?Snow from a clear sky...  A rabbits wedding, eh??

Mokou stretched then began gathering twigs.  ?I suppose a fire might not be a bad idea.?

Within seconds the Mokou had summoned her fire powers to create a little blaze.  Kaguya reached down to warm her hands opposite Mokou.

Suddenly there was a flash of light and a loud click.  The two swore and began looking for the source of the light with blurry vision.

?Sorry about that, but Shameimaru's spirit demanded I take the shot!?  The two saw through blurry eyes a familiar ice fairy fleeing into the distance.

?Cirno!?

The two immortals dove off in swift pursuit.

--

Tei waited a few more seconds before popping out of her hiding place.  She began running quickly towards the mountain.  She had a lot of work to do before her princess and the librarian finally caught and defeated the ice fairy.

As she ran she checked the photo that Cirno had passed off to her after taking it.  When it was fully developed she slipped the picture into the frame that she had personally designed for it.

The frame was actually three smaller frames hinged together.  On the right side her mistresses photo of Eirin looked out at the world.  On the left the Hakutaku's smiling visage was held.

In between Tei placed the photo of Mokou and Kaguya sitting opposite each other. 

Kaguya hadn't been the only one to read the histories.  Tei had looked up her namesake as well.  And there she'd learned an important lesson.  The most fun you could have tricks were with tricks that made the subjects happy.

The picture now complete, Tei increased her pace.  She had to make it to Iwanaga-hime's cave and back before the two immortals returned.  The goddess of immortality would be the only person who would return the photos before Kaguya and Mokou realized the photos in their rooms were facsimiles.  And the only other person who might consider such a prank.

After all, just because someone would laugh at your prank later didn't mean you should be caught now.