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|The Fall [Complete] - A Gensokyo Collapses ReiMari Story|
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(Just in case the image above isn't working, please be aware that this fic includes suicide references, binge drinking and slight injury detail.)
There'll be a new chapter every 4-5 days. Enjoy!
Chapter 1: Collapse
The explosion lit up the night sky, and Yukari Yakumo laughed within it. Her clothes were torn and dishevelled from the battle, but the light in her eyes gleamed brighter than ever. Her remaining bullets fizzled away like dying fireworks. The fight had been long and hard, but its victor was finally decided.
The shockwave ended, and Reimu?s body trembled with every breath. She held her purification rod out in front of her, and grinned from ear-to-ear. It?d taken four rematches, but she?d done it. She?d resolved the worst incident Gensokyo had ever faced. ?There!? Her arm shook as she spoke. ?Now change everything back!?
Yukari looked at her, and changed her mad laugh into a gentle smile. ?I suppose you wouldn?t consider another rematch??
?Absolutely not!? Reimu had been in the air for over twelve hours now. She was running on adrenaline alone. ?I won fair and square, now change it back!?
?A shame, I was enjoying it.? Yukari?s smile grew wistful. ?I suppose I shall make do with the memories.?
?Cut that out.? Reimu flew closer, annoyed now. She was here for a reason. ?Do you have any idea how much trouble your stupid announcement caused? There was a riot in the Human Village, and a bunch of youkai started going around trying to eat people!? Marisa had to drop out to deal with the riot, and Sanae and Sakuya teamed up to fight the youkai. ?If this is supposed to be a joke, then it?s gone too far.?
Yukari raised her eyebrows. ?A riot? Then I suppose I?ll have to make further announcements later, to clarify a few things. The youkai of Gensokyo are still bound by contract, and are not allowed to eat any humans from the village. Even,? and her voice gained a hint of sadness, ?when Gensokyo is scheduled to close down.?
?It?s not closing down anymore. I?ve won, so change things back to how they were before. Or is there someone else I need to beat up first??
Yukari shook her head. ?No, I am the one who made that decision.?
?Reimu.? Yukari?s voice softened. ?I cannot change anything back. There is nothing I can do.?
?Of course you can change it. Don?t give me that.?
?You?ve noticed the barrier weakening, haven?t you??
Reimu had. ?Wasn?t that just you fooling around, poking holes in it and stuff??
?The Great Hakurei Barrier isn?t just a fence separating Gensokyo from the outside world. It was conceived as a way of holding off the inevitable.? Yukari pointed south-east with her parasol, towards the Hakurei Shrine. ?Gensokyo is unsustainable. It was unsustainable from the very beginning. I was young, and a fool, and misjudged my power. Around the late Meiji era it became too much for me, so we erected a barrier that would allow the Hakurei family to carry half of the burden. Not that you?ll find that written down anywhere. Officially we were simply sealing Gensokyo off from the outside world.?
It sounded preposterous, but Yukari?s tone of voice sent a shiver down Reimu?s spine. ?...Come on, you can?t be serious.?
?Unfortunately I am completely serious. And as it turns out, even sharing the burden with you isn?t enough. Gensokyo requires too much power. I was faced with the choice of turning a blind eye and letting it simply implode one day, or giving everyone advanced notice and closing it down on a set date. I think you can agree that the latter is more practical.?
Reimu waited for Yukari to smirk, to twirl her parasol and laugh. This was all one long joke, it had to be.
But the gap youkai just stared at her, with eyes so honest they hurt.
?Isn?t it a bit early to decide that? I mean, surely there?s another way.? Reimu broke the silence, trying not to let the fear show in her voice. ?Can?t you get more people to share the burden, or just grab someone with a convenient power and make them fix it? The Moriya Shrine has an unlimited energy source, what?s wrong with that??
But Yukari shook her head again. ?I have been looking for a solution for centuries. I have altered hundreds of borders. Gensokyo is unsustainable, and will close down in exactly one month. That is a fact, and there is nothing any of us can do about it.?
Yukari?s voice quivered towards the end, and she hung her head. Her sinister aura was gone, and she looked almost human.
Reimu lowered her purification rod, the truth finally sinking in. She tried to think of something to say, some kind of protest that would open up another alternative, but Yukari?s expression told her not to bother. For the first time in her life, Reimu found herself against an insurmountable wall. A cold, hard barrier that stretched up for all eternity, and couldn?t be demolished with mere human strength.
And terror crept behind her, intending to crush her against it like an insect.
?Hey Reimu! Reimu!?
Marisa hovered over the Human Village, waiting for her. Reimu had taken her time coming back from Mayohiga, and the sky behind them was now a cool morning blue.
?Woah,? said Marisa, once they were facing each other. ?You look like a corpse.?
Reimu made an effort to keep her voice level. She didn?t want to break the news just yet. ?You don?t look much better. What happened to your face??
?Oh this?? Marisa touched her cheek. The left side of her face was streaked with blood. ?Some kid threw a rock at me. It?s no big deal.?
?So you sorted out the riot??
?Yeah, I told them you were going to beat up the culprit.? Marisa narrowed her eyes. ?You did beat her up, right??
?Obviously.? Reimu didn?t have the energy to glare back. Yukari?s words were still at the forefront of her mind. ?Where are the others??
?Just follow me.? Marisa turned. ?Everyone made it back fine. Well, kinda.?
Marisa led her to a small soba shop near the centre of the village. The owners were nowhere in sight, but the door was unlocked. ?They?re letting us use it, as thanks,? she explained as they went inside. The interior was dark, lit by a single gas lamp. Someone was sobbing gently. Reimu could make out three figures.
?Oh, the Hakurei Shrine Maiden returns,? said Sakuya, looking as perfect as ever as she sat at a table. ?Any news??
A large phantom floated past. Reimu glanced down, and saw Youmu kneeling on the ground, wrapping Sanae?s leg with a bandage.
Sanae was covering her face with her hands, moaning softly.
?One of the youkai took a bite out of her leg,? explained Sakuya gently. ?We let our guard down too early.?
?Her leg?? Reimu was horrified. She stepped closer to Sanae. ?Hey, are you okay??
Sanae didn?t say anything. She didn?t even move.
?Okay.? Youmu finished wrapping the bandage. She got up, and snivelled. ?It?s my fault for arriving too late.?
?It?s nobody?s fault, these things just happen sometimes.? Marisa shook her head, and looked back at Reimu. ?Anyway, don?t just stand there Reimu. Tell us what happened.?
Everyone looked at her. Even Sanae removed her hands from her face, and stared at her with wet eyes. Reimu tried to say something, tried to say the speech she?d mentally rehearsed on the way there, but her mind had gone blank. Her legs shook.
Marisa tilted her head to one side, worried. ?Reimu??
Reimu forced herself to focus. She was the Hakurei shrine maiden of Gensokyo. This was a part of her job. ?I found the culprit, the gap youkai,? she said, ?and I fought her. But she says there?s... there?s nothing anyone can do. Gensokyo will close down in a month, and she?ll make further announcements later. Youkai are still not allowed to eat humans from the village. That?s all.? Reimu clenched her fists, feeling even worse than before. She couldn?t pretend it was a lie anymore.
You could hear a pin drop. Nobody knew what to say.
?Ah well,? said Marisa at last, putting a cold hand on Reimu?s shoulder. ?If you can?t do anything, then I guess that?s it, eh??
Sakuya gave a sad smile. ?It was fun while it lasted.?
?I?ll have to ask Yukari-sama about the Netherworld,? said Youmu.
Reimu had prepared herself for disbelief, more tears, maybe even threats, but not meek reactions and passive sighs. Even Sanae wasn?t crying any louder than before. Maybe they?d expected this from the very beginning.
?Did they have that little faith in her?
?Oh yeah, maybe we can all move to your place,? said Marisa to Youmu, sounding hopeful.
?How is that any different to suicide?? Sakuya gave a hollow laugh, then stood up. ?Either way, I should go inform Milady. The next month will be quite busy for us.?
?I should update Yuyuko-sama as well.? Youmu picked her sword, Roukanken, up from the table. ?Umm... I really am sorry. If I?d arrived earlier, then...?
?It?s fine...? Sanae spoke this time, barely louder than a whisper. ?I was careless.?
?You can make it up to her later,? said Sakuya, and the two of them left.
?Can you fly, Sanae?? asked Marisa afterwards, moving to pick up her broom. ?Do you need a lift??
?I?ll carry her.? Reimu wanted something to do. Anything. ?Shouldn?t you tell the Village Leader about this, Marisa??
?At five in the morning? All the rioters got arrested. There?s nothing to worry about anymore.? Marisa tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. Reimu saw dried blood splashed down her neck.
?Fine,? said Reimu, ?help me carry her then.?
They took turns carrying Sanae, Marisa balancing precariously on her broom during her sessions. They made an effort not to touch her injured leg, but she still winced and cried as they flew through the air. The sun rose behind Youkai Mountain, and the sky glowed with cheerful pastel colours.
Nobody said anything until they reached the Moriya Shrine. Kanako was waiting for them, pacing frantically in front of the torii gate.
?Sanae!? She rushed over immediately. ?Oh Sanae, you?re all right.?
?Kanako-sama...? Sanae reached out as they landed, and clasped hands with her god. ?Kanako-sama, I?m so sorry!?
?Come on now, don?t cry.? Kanako lifted her out of Reimu?s arms, cradling her like a child. ?We?ll work out what to do next.?
Reimu looked at the ground, too embarrassed to watch. The god?s solemn expression made her feel terrible.
?Thank you for bringing our Sanae back.? Suwako came over, looking deathly pale. Kanako and Sanae were already heading indoors. ?You?re welcome to stay for a while, if you want.?
Reimu was exhausted, but she shook her head. ?I need to get back to my shrine.?
Suwako understood. ?You?re right. Your god?s probably worried.?
I doubt it, thought Reimu. ?Thank you for the offer. I appreciate it.?
?I would?ve liked some tea,? mumbled Marisa as they left.
?You can stay then.? Reimu?s chest felt hard and hollow as she rose through the air. ?I?m going home.?
?Hey, slow down.?
Reimu was expecting Marisa to head for the Forest of Magic, but she was still trailing behind her when the Hakurei Shrine came into view. Reimu touched down on the grass, and without warning her legs gave way. Her knees slammed into the ground.
?Woah, watch out.? Marisa landed behind her.
?I?m fine,? said Reimu unconvincingly. She thought of Kanako rushing towards Sanae again, and felt even worse. ?Why are you here, anyway? Don?t you want to go home??
?I?m too tired. Your place is closer to the mountain.? Marisa poked her with her broom. Reimu resisted the urge to snatch it off her. ?Need any help??
Reimu shook her head, and pushed herself back up. Her clothes were already stained with sweat and grime. A bit of dirt wouldn?t make a difference. ?Fine, do whatever. I need a bath.?
Reimu took her time soaking in the tub. She stared at the wall, and listened to the birds chirping outside. It felt good to finally be alone, sitting still in a place she could think clearly. It was probably around mid-morning now, and the horrors of last night felt like a distant dream.
It didn?t last. The sharp sunlight accentuated her bruises. Unknown cuts and scratches stung all over her body. Her joints ached, and she?d pulled a muscle around her right side. This was hardly unusual; the first bath after an incident was always the most uncomfortable, but for some reason her injuries felt more noticeable this time. Reimu lifted her hands out of the water and glanced at her fingernails. They were chipped, and a few had even broken.
Her injuries had been caused over nothing. Gensokyo was unsustainable, Yukari had said. Unsustainable from the very beginning. Reimu had been powerless to save it from the moment she was born. No amount of training would have made a difference in the end. Her shrine could have been bursting at the seams with worshippers and it wouldn?t have changed a thing. There was no culprit to exterminate, no grand youkai scheme to foil, just the sad, hollow truth that Gensokyo didn?t work. Their paradise was a complete failure.
Reimu bit her lower lip, trying to stop the tears welling up in her eyes. She didn?t want to bawl like Sanae did over her leg. Marisa would be able to hear her from the main room. But her mouth already tasted of salt, and her breath came out in sharp gasps. All the terror and emotion from the last few hours finally broke through, and she didn?t recover for a long time.
Marisa was fast asleep, sprawled on the tatami with her legs under the table when Reimu came out of the bathroom. She was using a floor cushion as a pillow, and her hat covered the top half of her face. Her chest rose and fell gently as she slept. Reimu ignored her, walked over to the table and helped herself to some tea. It was lukewarm, but she couldn?t bring herself to care. The drink tasted of normalcy, and that helped her relax.
The clock ticked towards eight o?clock in the morning. Reimu had been awake for over twenty-four hours now. Marisa slumbered peacefully beside her, murmuring in her sleep every now and then. Reimu watched her for a moment, hoping that she might say something funny or embarrassing. It wasn?t like her to snooze with her hat on. She reached out and pulled it away.
The material felt different. Was it a new hat? She looked closer. The frills and bow were brown with... mud? No, it was blood. Definitely dried blood. It was caked into the black fabric too.
A chill ran through her. Reimu tossed the hat aside, and reseated herself above Marisa?s head. The blood on her friend?s face was mostly gone, but there was still some in her hair; stiff streaks that stretched down to the tips. It was especially dense near the front-left side of her head. Gently, so as not to wake her, Reimu parted her hair with her fingertips, and took a closer look at the wound.
It was long and horrible.
?Ow...? Marisa winced, and opened her eyes. Reimu couldn?t move away fast enough, and they found themselves looking at each other. ?What are you doing??
Reimu moved away, embarrassed. ?Just checking your wound. What kind of rock did they hit you with??
?A huge one.? Marisa sat up, and put her hand to her head.
?Shaped like a blade?? Reimu could tell she was lying now.
?Maybe, I can?t remember.? Marisa removed her hand and looked at her palm. ?Crap, it?s still bleeding.?
?Anyway, the bath?s free, if you want it.? Reimu got up, and poked the cushion with her foot. ?You?re paying for anything you bleed on.?
?Oh come on, that?s unfair.?
Once Marisa was done washing, she let Reimu dress her wound, and after that the two of them sat on the porch. Reimu wanted to sleep, but talking to Marisa was a better distraction from reality.
?And then, about thirty of them ran at me!? Marisa waved her arms around in exaggeration. ?One of them had a pitchfork, and he thrust it at me, like that.?
Reimu wondered if that was where the wound came from. The large bandage on Marisa?s head looked almost comical in the morning sunlight. It was setting out to be another bright, cheerful day.
?But I dodged it easily, and flew up in the air. They were so funny, shaking their fists down on the ground.?
A day that should have been like any other. Reimu?s eyelids were drooping. She placed her cup back on the tray, and yawned.
?Oh come on, my story isn?t that boring, is it??
?Me too, but my head hurts like crazy.?
?That didn?t stop you sleeping earlier.? Reimu sighed, and lay down sideways. ?I?m taking a nap.?
?All right, suit yourself.?
Reimu closed her eyes, and fell still. Once Marisa was sure she was asleep, she let the smile drop from her face and winced. She gingerly touched her bandage, and ran her fingers over the gauze. Then she glanced down at her sleeping friend, her expression a mixture of warmth and concern. She thought her suspicions were confirmed when Reimu almost collapsed earlier, but she seemed back to normal now. Marisa could probably rest easy and head home soon.
She had a lot to think about, after all.
When Reimu opened her eyes, Marisa was gone. The sun was high in the sky, and the air fragrant with a warm autumn breeze. The main room stank of blood, and there were little red specks on the tatami mats.
Oh boy, this is on its way already? I've been getting pretty psyched watching you describe your progress on the Tumbler.
Finally got a chance to read this. Was not disappointed. I probably won't comment again until it's done being posted, but I'm indeed looking forward to the rest.
--- Quote from: Kilgamayan on September 02, 2014, 09:23:04 PM ---Oh boy, this is on its way already? I've been getting pretty psyched watching you describe your progress on the Tumbler.
Finally got a chance to read this. Was not disappointed. I probably won't comment again until it's done being posted, but I'm indeed looking forward to the rest.
--- End quote ---
Thank you! I hope you keep enjoying it!
Wow, this is pretty heart-wrenching. It's always enjoyable to see Gensokyans have to confront real emotions and crises, but this has the potential to be a well-constructed tragedy (one that's already off to a great start). Thanks!
This is very good, however a tiny bit depressing.
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