~Hakurei Shrine~ > Kosuzu's Grand Bookstore
Thought's End & Embodiement of Dreams (2nd Ignition)
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Yep, I'm still around. As one may have guessed, I'm reposting/continuing Thought's End and Embodiement of Dreams here. This may be a good thing, because if the better portion of the story is all in one place, it may be easier for those new to the story to get into it. I payed a little attention to the Terms of Agreement, and "Profane" was one of the big no-nos when it comes to posting here, so for this reposting, I'll replace all the F-bombs from the original with other words (actually, part of me felt like doing this from the start). If there are other words that are unacceptable, just say the word and I'll see what I can do about fixing those too. One final thing, since it's going to be just story for awhile, any posts I make that are non-story in this thread will be in brackets [like this,] so it will be easier to tell, though that won't be for awhile. Only with new installments.

At any rate, enjoy!

At an initial glance, everything appears simple, but behind all that, there is a much deeper meaning.

What is the true nature of ?life?? What is the true nature of ?death?? What is the true nature of ?existence??

Are we who we think we are? Do you know who you are?

Do the things we believe we see, hear, taste, feel, and smell truly are what we believe? Are they what we think they are? Is there a grander meaning behind all the things we take for granted?

What is the universe? What are the possibilities?

                TOUHOU PROJECT Episode ?: THOUGHT'S END

I?m flying on my broomstick at roughly 45 miles per hour across a lake to an island; an island I have visited many times before, all for the same reason, save the very first time, and this time is no different.

My blonde hair blows in the wind and I keep my large black pointed hat from flying off by holding it down with my left hand.

My name is Marisa Kirisame, magician extraordinaire! The world I live in is known as Gensokyo. It is a land that was originally inhabited by youkai until humans started living in it as well. Youkai come in many forms. Most of them are unintelligent creatures that try to live by eating humans, but there are others that are very intelligent and sometimes can?t be told apart from humans in any easy sense. My best friend Reimu, a miko, and I used to live by hunting youkai that endanger human lives, but since then, we?ve befriended quite a few of the stronger youkai in Gensokyo.

I am on my way to Scarlet Devil Mansion, a castle-like building, which is the home of one of those said youkai, a vampire named Remilia Scarlet. Besides Remilia, however, there are also a number of other residents that live there: Aside from its staff of maids, composed purely of low-level youkai, there is Flandre Scarlet, Remilia?s younger sister, who is insane and can cause horrifying amounts of destruction when she gets angry or wants to have some sadistic fun. However, she is usually spoiled, and thus, docile. She also seems to have a crazed crush on me, much to my dismay. Another resident is Hong Meiling, who guards the mansion?s front gate, who is an expert martial artist and can control her chi. There is also Patchouli Knowledge, who lives in the mansion?s library and spends most of her time reading, which makes sense, considering she?s not in the best of health. She can cast powerful elemental spells, however. Lastly, there is Sakuya Izayoi, the sole human in Scarlet Devil Mansion, who works as the head maid. She?s good with knives and can control time to a degree. Even though she?s generally viewed as Remilia?s loyal dog, Reimu and I have a better relationship with her than anyone else in the mansion. Remilia once tried to cover Gensokyo in a red mist, blocking out the sun, which is fatal to vampires like her and Flandre. Of course, this caused crops to stop growing and everything to become cold. Reimu and I fought through the mansion and convinced Remilia to recall her mist. Later, Flandre escaped the mansion and attacked a village. After a rough battle, Reimu and I stopped her and brought her home. Since then, Sakuya had been an ally of ours in stopping subsequent disasters that befell Gensokyo.

While I?m on generally friendly terms with Scarlet Devil Mansion?s residents, Patchouli doesn?t like me stealing books from her library. She?s very protective of them, so it?s probably useless to ask to borrow them. Well, that?s what I plan to do. Sneak into the library and steal some books without getting caught. No big deal. After all, she?s a youkai and I?m a human, so between us, I?ll probably die first, at which point, no one is going to stop her from taking her things back? Of course, considering Patchouli?s resistance to diseases, or lack thereof, I just might outlast her, at which point, her books will be all mine!

The island shortly comes into sight, along with the mansion, which always surprises me by how big it is, even though I?ve been here many times before. Within minutes, I?m close to the front gate. Standing in front of it is a red-headed girl wearing a green Chinese dress, the door guard, Hong Meiling. She?s a youkai, even though she looks exactly like a human. In fact, there are quite a few youkai that are hard to tell from humans. Even though she?s pretty tough as youkai go, she?s pretty easy to get past. From a distance, I observe Meiling?s posture. She?s leaning against the wall next to the gate. I pause for a few seconds and I hear her snore. Bingo! She tends to take naps on the job, which makes things easier for me. I fly over the gate and slowly open the front door. I sneak across the vacant lobby, which is the closest location leading to the library. I made it this far. It would be bad if I get caught now?

?EEEK! You?re?!? A fairy maid comes out of one of the guest rooms to the side. Shit!

?Sorry,? I say as I extend my hand toward the maid and fire a small blast of magical energy from my hand, knocking the fairy out cold. I hope her scream didn?t alert others in the mansion. I run to the door leading down to the library.

After descending a long flight of spiral stairs, I?m in the mansion?s basement, where all the books are kept. It has a ton of tall bookcases, making the place feel like a maze. Without them, however, you could make an underground gymnasium out of the place. I tiptoe around, trying to remain silent. Patchouli rarely leaves this room, so she?s here? somewhere? I just have to get what I?m after and split. After a few minutes, I find what I?m looking for: a book entitled ?Elemental Spells.? I?ve wanted that one for a while, but it?s so deep in the library, that there?s a high risk of getting caught. I must be lucky today. I remove the book, which is about 1,638 pages thick, from the shelf, but suddenly, I hear a high pitched noise, which makes me flinch upon hearing it. Suddenly, all the bookshelves lower into the ground, completely blowing my cover. In front of me, beyond where the bookshelf was, there is a girl with long purple hair and pale skin, wearing something that looks like a nightgown: Patchouli Knowledge herself. Behind her, there is a red-haired girl with bat-like wings extending from her head, wearing a black dress: Patchouli?s assistant, Koakuma.

Aware of my situation, I mutter, ?Oh shit??

Patchouli says, in her one-tone voice, ?Marisa Kirisame. That alarm indicates one thing: you tried to steal my book on elemental spells.?

I shrug and say, ?Yes. Why is there an alarm for that one??

Patchouli?s eyes narrow, ?I?m sure even you can figure out that book, which I read seventy years ago, taught me the magic I wield today. I take it you had the goal in mind to mimic my spells??

I answer, ?Well, yeah. That was kinda what I was planning??

Patchouli says, ?I may be a sickly girl who spends 95.8% of her time in this basement, but even I have pride in my abilities and I intend to be the only one in Gensokyo who wields elemental magic. I shall keep that book from entering the outside world? through force if needed. Koakuma.?

Koakuma steps up, ?Yes, Miss Knowledge??

?Stop Marisa.?

?Understood,? Koakuma pulls a piece of paper with a complex character painted on it out of her pocket. It?s a spell card. Among Gensokyo?s higher-level residents, those are a common tool in combat. There is only so much someone can do on their own, so spell cards are used to extend that limit. They provide their users with extra energy, so they can cast high-level spells or techniques. They require a degree of the user?s energy too, however, so overusing them can be disastrous. ?Cold Sign!? She makes her initial declaration. The spell card turns into blue energy, which fills Koakuma, which indicates that?s she can make the actual casting of her spell at any time. She extends her hand toward me, ?Icicle Mist!? Several tiny blades of ice form around Koakuma out of thin air and fly toward me.

I jump back, throwing the book to the side and pulling out a spell card of my own, ?Magic Sign!? My card turns into gold and violet energy, which flows into me. I feel more powerful and energized. The first time, it was the greatest sensation in the world, but it became a regular feeling every subsequent time. I extend my hand toward Koakuma, ?Stardust Reverie!? The energy in my body converts into a flurry of blasts of magic in the shape of stars. I feel a split second of dizziness, but recover instantly, with only a slight decrease in my physical stamina. My stars intercept Koakuma?s icicles. I jump to the side, dodging the icy blades that got through my counterattack, but Koakuma isn?t as fast and she gets bombarded by my attack. She gets knocked off her feet and hits the floor back-first, defeated. Well, since I?ve been caught and I?m being fought by two librarians, I might as well enjoy this. I look at Patchouli, ?C?mon, Patch! Are you gonna have your little bitch fight your battles for you??

Patchouli responds, ?I was merely trying to wear you down so I can defeat you easily.?

I grin, ?Well it didn?t work very well. I?m good to go for several more rounds.?

?We shall see?? Patchouli draws a spell card, ?Metal & Water Sign.? Gray and blue energy fills Patchouli, ?Mercury Poison.? A terrible smell fills the room as a shiny green blob of liquid metal appears in front of the librarian. A spiked tentacle shoots out of the blob and toward me. I roll to the side and take to the air on my broomstick. It will be bad of that thing touches me! ?There is no escape, Marisa.? Patchouli?s blob sends several tentacles lashing at me. I stay ahead of most of them, but one intercepts me, knocking my broomstick out from under me. I plummet down toward the blob.

Shit! Not good! Not good at all! In a ditch effort, I thrust my hand toward Patchouli?s face and fire a white laser. The librarian staggers back and her blob vanishes as I distracted her enough to break her focus on her spell. With the spell broken, I hit the wooden floor with a thud. ?Owwww?? Damn! That still really hurt!

?Ahh! Marisa?? Patchouli covers her face with her hands, trying to regain her proper vision. I take advantage of her stunned state and draw another spell card.

?Love Sign!? Golden energy flows into me. I jump toward Patchouli and thrust my hand toward her at point-blank, ?Master Spark!? I fire a large beam of magical energy, which sends Patchouli flying toward the back of the library.

?AHHHHHH!? She hits one of the large bookshelves on the edge of the room (those didn?t lower into the floor) and become buried in books.

?Miss Knowledge?? mutters the weakened Koakuma.

I grab my broomstick and Patchouli?s book, saying, ?Well, I?m gonna get going now! Better luck next time, Patch!?

Patchouli?s voice, muffled from her burial under the books declares, ?Metal Sign: Metal Fatigue.? A few metal blades shoot out of Patchouli?s pile and toward me. Luckily, there is enough distance between us for me to see them coming, so I turn my body and dodge them with ease.

With a victorious smile, I turn toward the exit. However, from my destination?s general direction, I hear a voice asking, ?What is all the commotion down here?? Oh shit! That voice belongs to Sakuya! While we are generally friends, she doesn?t take kindly to uninvited visitors. I?m predicting one hell of an escape?

A girl with semi-long silver hair, braided down the side of her face, wearing a maid?s uniform arrives. As you probably figured, this is Sakuya. She is the head maid of the mansion and Remilia Scarlet?s closest servant, even though there had been some rivalry between them recently, ?Marisa??

Another figure enters the library beside Sakuya. She has semi-long light-blue hair and wears a pink dress and hat. Most noticeably, however, are the two bat-like wings extending out of her back, her blood-red eyes, and the fangs among her teeth. She is Remilia Scarlet, the mistress of this mansion. Remilia glares at me, ?What the hell are YOU doing here uninvited??

I take a couple steps backward, ?Well??

Behind me, Koakuma slowly gets back on her feet and Patchouli pushes some books out of her way and gets out from under the pile. Four against one. I don?t stand a chance. I close my eyes in defeat .

?Did someone say ?Marisa???  I hear a very cute voice coming from the upper floor and upon hearing it, defeat is probably the better thing I'm feeling! Within seconds, another girl, with similar youkai attributes to Remilia?s, only with steel wings with prism-like shards dangling from them, blonde hair tied in a ponytail, wearing a red dress comes running toward me excitedly. She?s Remilia?s vampire sister, Flandre: the last person I wanted to run into here. My mission has officially become an utter failure? She leaps to hug me and probably suck the blood out of my arm, because that?s her twisted way of expressing affection.

?Shit?? I close my eyes, preparing for the impact? but I don?t feel anything. I open my eyes and look ahead, but Flandre isn?t there. I turn around and see her on the floor. Did she pass through me or something? Out of nowhere and for no reason I can figure out, her form starts to become transparent. "Huh?"
Apparently, Flandre realizes this and she looks toward Remilia fearfully, ?Onee-sama? What?s going on? What?s happening to me??

?Well?? As Remilia is trying to figure out Flandre?s predicament, she notices the same thing is happening to her.

?Remilia-sama? Remilia-sama! What is happening to you?? Sakuya tries to grab her mistress? arm, but her hand passes through.

?I don?t know?? growls Remilia ?? I?m fading? I can?t touch anything??

I look at Koakuma, who is also fading, who asks Patchouli, ?Miss Knowledge! What is happening??

Beyond her, Patchouli is also fading, ?I? I? I don?t know!? Okay? if Patchouli doesn?t know, then we are all completely stumped. She?s oftentimes had an answer to every question that?s arisen in the past.

I yell, ?Just what the hell is happening to everyone?? I look at myself, but I?m as opaque as I always have been. I turn toward Sakuya, who is the only one in the room who isn?t crying out at the sudden and unknown occurrence. Sure enough, she isn?t disappearing either. What is happening all the sudden and why are Sakuya and I not affected by this?

Sakuya looks toward Patchouli intensely, ?Are you sure you don?t know??

Patchouli, now practically blending in with the background, says, looking like she?s about to cry, ?I really don?t know? I?ve never heard of anything like this before? I?m scared? What?s happening to us? Why aren?t you or Marisa vanishing like the rest of us??

??? Neither of us have an answer for that question.

A terrifying minute passes as Remilia, Patchouli, Flandre, and Koakuma continue to cry out at their situation as they continue to fade more and more as Sakuya and I are helpless to do anything. Finally, they completely vanish, their voices gone with their bodies. ?REMILIA-SAMA!? Sakuya and I are left with eerie silence, which makes sense. Neither of us knows what the hell just happened. Remilia and the others just disappeared. It?s like they don?t exist anymore. Sakuya breaks the silence, ?Marisa? What_? FLASH! There is a sudden flash of white light. It didn?t seem to come from a particular source, but rather it came from everywhere. Both Sakuya and I cover our eyes to the unexpected happening. This whole situation is messed up! As my eyes adjust, there are a couple more flashes, followed by shaking, like an earthquake. The ground shakes violently, especially since we are in a basement. I open one of my eyes, squinting as a result of the flashes, just in time to see an overhead beam of wood fall down toward Sakuya.

?SAKUYA!? Wasting no time, I toss the book to the side, as it is now a moot concern and hop on my broomstick, approaching the maid as quickly as it can take me. Within mere seconds, I reach her and tackle her out of the way of the beam.

There is a long pause and we both sigh with relief. ?Thank you, Marisa,? says Sakuya gratefully.

I say, ?We gotta get out of here! If the earthquake continues, we?ll be in big trouble.?

We both want to try to make heads or tails of why everyone disappeared and the sudden flashes, but it?s dangerous here. ?Yes,? nods Sakuya in agreement.

We move to the spiral stairs as the earthquake continues. The quake had already knocked some steps from the staircase, so Sakuya and I fly up through the middle, dodging chunks falling from the ceiling. I can fly using my broomstick as a flight tool, but a lot of people in Gensokyo, like Sakuya, can fly using a basic form of magic to carry them.

Finally, we reach the top and enter the lobby. All around us, there are fairy maids in the process of vanishing, just like Remilia and the others had and chunks of rubble from the crumbling mansion. A chandelier (which is unlit. It?s just there for show) loses its grip on the ceiling high above and plunges toward one of the maids. I doubt it would harm her, as she?s vanishing, but it doesn?t feel right just to let it fall on her either. However a sudden blast shatters the chandelier to pieces, which fly everywhere, forcing me and Sakuya to shield ourselves with our arms. Meiling had fired a blast of chi, ?saving? the fairy maid. She too, is in the process of vanishing.

Sakuya rushes over to Meiling, ?Meiling! You?re disappearing too!?

Meiling says, trying to make the situation seem less serious than it really is, ?Looks that way. So are the fairy maids, but it looks like you and Marisa, however the heck she got in here past me, are alright.?

I point out, ?Remilia, Flandre, Patch, and Koakuma have all disappeared.?

Meiling?s eyes widen, ?All of them??

??? I nod without a word.

?I see?? mutters Meiling, her form becoming more transparent as the maids vanish completely. ?I don?t know what the hell?s going on, but it looks like it?s not much longer for me, either??

Sakuya slumps to her knees, ?Meiling? not you too??

Meiling instructs, ?Get out of here. Both of you. I saw the mansion from the outside and it?s worse than it seems from here. The clock tower had completely crumbled and? I just have a bad feeling??

?You have to escape with us!? Sakuya tires to grab Meiling?s arm, but, like with Remilia, her hand just passes through.

Meiling smiles nervously, ?I don?t think I?ll be worth worrying about in a few seconds. Just escape. Please?? With that, Meiling?s form vanishes completely.

?Meiling?? Sakuya sobs.

The ground shakes again and several more chunks of debris fall from the ceiling. I tightly grab Sakuya?s arm, ?Sakuya, we gotta get out of here NOW! If what Meiling said was true, there?s no telling when this whole building will become rubble!?

The two of us run out the front door and away from Scarlet Devil Mansion as fast as possible. Behind us, there are loud noises of the mansion?s foundations breaking. We run past the gate and to the outer wall, which is a far enough distance away. We turn around and see the mansion collapse to the ground, reduced to a massive pile of debris. Sakuya slumps to the ground, her eyes agape with disbelief. I can understand. Her mistress? her friends? her home? all in a matter of minutes, all those things disappeared from her life. Honestly, I feel like crying too. Scarlet Devil Mansion, the place where Reimu and I had so many adventures, is now destroyed, and the friends we made there, save Sakuya, have vanished mysteriously. Are they gone? Are they dead? Will we ever see them again? With these thoughts plaguing my mind, I slump to the ground as well. We stay this way for a half-hour. The earthquake stops, but the flashes become more consistent.

?Marisa! Sakuya!? A familiar voice comes from in front of us. A ?portal? opens and inside, there is a girl with golden hair, wearing a white and purple dress and a white hat with a red ribbon. She?s Yukari Yakumo, a youkai, also hard to tell apart from a human, with a WEIRD power. She has the ability to control boundaries. That means she can freely venture through the dimensional fabric of Gensokyo and other places. Thanks to her, we learned about parallel worlds that exist alongside this one. She once tried to trap Gensokyo in an eternal winter and revive her long-lost best friend. Don?t ask. It?s a long story. Anyway, my friends and I defeated her and she learned the folly of her ways. Now she?s a friend whose powers have come in very handy to us.

??? Sakuya doesn?t respond.

I ask, ?Hey, Yukari? Do you know what?s going on? There are these flashes? these earthquakes? and people are disappearing??

?Disappearing? like this?? Yukari extends her arm to the outside of her portal and it starts to become transparent. I try to touch it, but, as expected, my hand just passes through, like it was nothing but air. She withdraws her hand back into her portal, where it solidifies once again.

?Yeah?? I answer, ?It?s so weird? It all happened so fast, but? it?s almost like it?s the end of the world, or something??

?It just might be?? says Yukari softly.

?Huh? Do you know what?s going on?? I ask.

Yukari closes her eyes, ?I?m not 100% sure, but I might. Could the two of you do me a favor? Find Reimu.?

Sakuya breaks her silence, ?Reimu? What might she have to do with this??

Yukari says solemnly, ?It?s possible she is a central figure in these occurrences.?

I demand, ?What the hell are you talking about, Yukari? Why would Reimu do this? HOW would Reimu do this??

Yukari answers, ?If it?s what I think, then I?ll tell you. For now, I want the two of you to go to the Hakurei Shrine. I?m going to investigate something else that might be connected to this.?

I shrug and say, ?I don?t know what you?re talking about, but I guess I?ll do it. What the hell??

Yukari throws something at me, which I catch. It is something that looks like a blue ball. ?This will open a portal to a ?safe place? for five seconds. Just drop it on the ground when you're ready.?

?What is the meaning of this?? I ask.

Yukari answers, ?Gensokyo is becoming a dangerous place. I don?t know how much longer it will last, so if things get bad, escape to that ?safe place.? I?ll meet you there later.?

?Wait! Yukar_? Yukari disappears into her portal before I can ask any more questions.

Sakuya whispers, ?The end of the world???

There are a few seconds of silence. I put a reassuring hand on Sakuya?s shoulder, ?C?mon, Sakuya. Let?s go to Reimu?s. I don?t understand what?s happening, but maybe we can reverse this whole thing. Maybe we can stop what?s happening. Maybe we can get everyone back??

Sakuya smiles slightly, ?Yes, you may be right??

We take to the sky and fly in the direction of Reimu?s shrine. Along the way, we see wild youkai disappearing and villages crumbled to the ground, along with cries from people who are vanishing. Both Sakuya and I are helpless to do anything, and along with the mysterious flashes and the sky that had suddenly turned dark and the temperature around us becoming uncomfortably cold, it feels like a horrible nightmare. It has that apocalyptic feeling in many ways I can imagine.

Along the way, Sakuya points out, ?Yukari? when she reached out of her portal, her hand became transparent, but when she withdrew it, it became normal. Obviously, Yukari is subject to the things that are happening to everyone else, but perhaps it only affects things that are inside Gensokyo??
?But why aren?t we disappearing?? I ask, ?We?re still here, we aren?t fading, and I feel fine. Why the hell are we exempt from this??

Sakuya points out, ?Well, we are both human. Might that be it, perhaps??

I sigh, ?Maybe. This is weird??

After a half-hour, we arrive at the stairs leading up to Reimu?s shrine and we dash up to its front walkway, hearing a very creepy laugh, ?Tee hee hee!? Ugh! That laugh gives me the creeps!

We reach the top of the stairs and find out who that laugh belongs to: A girl with long black hair and brown eyes, wearing a red dress with white sleeves separate from the main portion of the outfit, and a red hair ribbon, namely, my long-time best friend, Reimu? or at least that?s what she LOOKS like. The thing is, she?s not acting like herself. She is skipping around, laughing that spine-chilling giggle. Normally, she is fairly unenergetic and lazy, despite being a talented miko. But here, she is the opposite from how I know her. She looks like she?s having the time of her life as Gensokyo is crumbling around her.

Nearby, Reimu?s student (more or less), a short girl with orange hair, with long horns extending out of her head, wearing a purple dress with chains, and carrying a large purple gourd around, Suika Ibuki, is disappearing, and seems to be just as surprised by Reimu?s behavior as Sakuya and I are. Suika is an oni, a top-level youkai, who LOVES having wild and drunken parties. Her gourd contains a limitless amount of sake, which she CONSTANTLY drinks out of. As a result, she is usually drunk. In spite of that, however, she is a powerful youkai, who can turn into mist, alter her size, and split into several smaller versions of herself. She once tried to make Gensokyo into a big endless party zone, but me, Reimu, and my friend-slash-neighbor, Alice Margatroid managed to stop her. Afterward, Reimu took her under her wing as a student.

Suika cries, in her drunkenly slurred voice, ?Raymoo! Wye ar yoo aktin? dat way? Whut?s hapnin? ta Gensohkeeyoh??

Reimu looks at the fading Suika with a smile you?d expect a pedophiliac rapist to have, ?Silence, child! You are but a mere figment! Now begone to the fiction that you are!?

?RAYMOOooooo!? Suika vanishes from existence, just like so many before her.

?REIMU! Just what the hell is going on? What?s happened to you?? I yell, outraged.

Reimu laughs, ?HahahahaHAHAHAHA! It?s happening at last, Marisa! It?s time! It?s time to leave!? She looks straight at me. Her eyes are void and empty, like she?s missing her soul.

?What are you talking about?? asks Sakuya.

?It?s time!? yells Reimu, ?It?s almost here! Our goodbyes draw nigh!?

I run over to Reimu, grab her by the shoulders, and shake her, ?What are you talking about? Snap out of it!? Suddenly, there are several flashes of light and a pulse erupts from Reimu?s body, knocking me back. When my eyes adjust, I see that Reimu?s clothes had transformed into a completely white outfit. The sight makes me depressed somehow.?

Reimu smiles creepily, ?My friends and family await! Enjoy this while you still can! Teehehehehehehehe!? With that, Reimu vanishes into thin air.

Sakuya and I are left to the hell that surrounds us. Sakuya says, ?Yukari was right! Reimu does seem to have some involvement in this??

?But what?? I ask, ?She wasn?t herself! She didn?t speak the slightest iota of sense!?

Sakuya sighs and says, ?I hope Yukari can fill in the blanks. At least we now have a lead??

I whisper, ?Reimu? what?s happened to you? Why have you become so? deranged?? My train of thought is derailed by a loud noise right in front of me. I look at the Hakurei Shrine and realize it had just burst into flames. However, that is secondary to something else I?m seeing.

A figure materializes in front of the burning shrine. It?s a girl with long green hair and green eyes, wearing a blue dress and blue hat with blue ribbons, holding a staff with a shape that looks like a crescent moon at the end of it, ?The time has arrived, it seems??

I glare at the mystery girl, ?Just who the hell are you? What?s going on??

The girl answers, ?My name is Mima. You can think of me as a harbinger of the mere thought that is Gensokyo is about to end.?
Behind Mima, the Hakurei Shrine, the home of my best friend, who had fought to save Gensokyo on numerous occasions, burns down, as to symbolize that all will be ruination. The girl who was once a savior appears to have become a destroyer for reasons that are still beyond my understanding. As the shrine casts a large flame, other disasters occur all around. Besides the flashes, the dark sky, casting a depressing shadow over the once happy and beautiful land, the acute decrease in temperature, and all, but a few vanishing, all the plants start to whither too. Having seen at one point first-hand where the souls of the dead go and what happens, I thought the idea of death wasn?t so bad for awhile, but for everything to end like this reconfirms the fear. However, I try to maintain a strong front in front of Mima, so I can get some answers and possibly find Reimu and end this disaster, ?What do you mean ?thought???

Mima says flatly, ?That?s a way of describing what Gensokyo is. Something temporary. Something that ends. Something that disappears. This is the thought?s end.?

Sakuya asks, ?Why did Remilia-sama and the others disappear??

Mima answers, ?As befits this ?thought,? there are ?figments? of imagination. That?s all the residents of Gensokyo are: figments. They never truly existed and they faded into the inexistence that they are.? Just a couple minutes ago, Reimu referred to Suika as a ?figment.? Now Mima is doing the same. Just what does it mean?

Sakuya yells, ?That?s not true! Remilia-sama? Flandre? Meiling? Patchouli? They were real living people!?

Mima chuckles, ?To you, it sure seemed that way, didn?t it. But they were actually figments of the fleeting imagination. Pure fiction.?

Sakuya persists with her position in the argument, ?No! My mistress was real! When I was confused and depressed, approaching a dead-end in life, Remilia-sama gave me a new purpose! She changed my life! What she taught me, what she gave me, how I felt! It was real! Remilia-sama was a real person!?

Mima pauses, then throws her head back, laughing, ?HAHAHAHAHA!?

?Gr?? Sakuya?s eyes narrow. I have a feeling this is not going to go over well, but I understand why Sakuya is so pissed. I find it hard to accept that my friends, like Alice and Cirno didn?t really exist. I spoke to them, I laughed with them, I cried with them, they gave me encouragement when I felt down, and in return, I cheered them up. Cirno trying so hard to become a powerful youkai and Alice trying so hard to teach Cirno! It was real! I can?t accept what Mima is telling us! Sure enough, I silently share Sakuya?s feelings.

Mima says, as if she had just heard the funniest one-liner ever, ?Oh, this is TOO good! ?Remilia-sama taught me!? ?Remilia-sama gave me a purpose!? Sorry, maid, but ?Remilia-sama? was nothing but a character. You might as well mourn a cartoon!?

?Damn you!? snarls Sakuya, as she tosses a couple knives at Mima.

?Vengeance from inexistence. How absurd.? Mima swings her arm, causing an invisible force to deflect the knives.

I could debate all day, but I doubt Mima will change her position. Instead, I ask, ?Just what the hell are you, Mima? What are you doing here at this time??

Mima smiles, ?Finally, an intelligent statement. I?m here? only for THIS?? Mima extends her hand toward me and fires a thin laser.

?Marisa!? At the last second, Sakuya shoves me out of the way, though the laser still manages to graze my cheek. There is a slight burning pain and blood trickles down, but no major damage was inflicted.

I glare at Mima, ?What? the? hell??

Mima says, ?THAT?S why I?m here: to take your lives.?

?Why?? asks Sakuya.

Mima spreads her arms, ?Look around you! This thought is ending! It?s horrible! Eventually, all that will remain is a black void. Everyone left over will be damned to float in that hellish solitude? and even then, there is no relief. The void has no boundaries. It is nothing but inexistence. Even after death, the souls can?t leave the void. All that remains is the despair? the impending insanity that will be heard by no one. My mission is one of mercy: to ensure that those who can?t vanish, like the two of you, will depart this realm, to the afterlife, before the thought completely ends. Once my mission is finished, I too will find my eternal rest. Now hold still and let me kill you. Do you want to be lost for eternity, even after your death??

Sakuya says, ?It?s fairly irrelevant to me?? One thing I forgot to mention: Sakuya is immortal. Yup, a long time ago, she drank an elixir that gave her eternal life, or so I was told, according to what she was told. She will stay young forever, and if she dies, she will shortly return to life. However, she drank another potion that would erase her memories if she died again. She would return to life, of course, but she?d be nothing more than a vegetable? for eternity. That sounds like a fate worse than death, although it seems to beat what Mima said. At least Sakuya wouldn?t be consciously aware of it ?? However, do you know why Marisa and I didn?t disappear like everyone else??

Mima says, ?You don?t need to know. Now just surrender your lives. Time is running out, and I have a steep workload ahead of me!?

I say, ?Normally, I?d accept your offer, Mima, but I feel like all this can be reversed. All I need to do is find Reimu and get shit straightened out.?

?I won?t accept that,? says Mima, ?I have a duty I?ve been entrusted with by Princess Yuyuko Saigyouji of the Netherworld. I?ve waited patiently, and the time has arrived. I will complete my mission and go home!?

?Yuyuko?? Yes, I know her. She?s a ghost princess that rules over the gardens of the Netherworld, Hakugyokurou. She has power over death? and she?s had that, even in life? at which point, she went by the name, Yuko Saigyou. According to her best friend, Yukari Yakumo, people feared and rejected her because of that. Eventually, there was a youkai tree called the Saigyou Ayakashi, which sucked the life from Gensokyo. Yuko sacrificed her soul to seal the tree, and moved on to the Netherworld, as a spirit without a soul, thus she wasn?t subject to being sent to Heaven, Hell, or reincarnation. As a result, she became an eternal resident of the Netherworld and she was given her position by the Yama, Sikieiki Yamaxanadu. Yukari once gathered spring essence, which makes seasons possible in Gensokyo (without it, there is only winter), in order to unseal the Saigyou Ayakashi, (which she moved to Hakugyokurou) and become reunited with her friend, Yuko, trapping humans who rejected her in an eternal winter at the same time. Luckily, I, Reimu, Sakuya, with a little help from Yuyuko and her gardener-slash-protector, Youmu Konpaku, fought back, but it was Yuko?s soul which convinced Yukari of the folly of her ways.

Sakuya says, ?With people like me, your efforts will be in vain. Even so, I?d have no intention of dying when I can set things right.?

Mima?s eyes narrow, ?I will kill you whether you like it or not. It?s largely a matter of the time it takes and the pain you?ll feel. En garde!? Mima points her staff at me and fires a blast of magic, which I duck under while running toward her. I attempt to hit her, using my broomstick as a staff, but she blocks with her own staff.

Sakuya backs me up by tossing a couple knives at the ghost, but she repels me and deflects them with her staff. Mima draws a spell card, ?Magic Sign!? Rainbow-colored energy flows into her staff, ?Twinkle Star Wave!? She points the staff at us and a flurry of star-shaped magic blasts (like the ones I used against Koakuma) flies toward us.

Sakuya jumps back, as do I, as she readies a spell card of her own, ?Blade Sign!? Several knives materialize around Sakuya and fly toward the blasts, cutting through and dispelling them. Sakuya directs her arm in Mima?s direction, ?Beginning of Trembling!? The knives left over suddenly home in on the surprised Mima. They cut through her, her wounds producing silver smoke. She loses her focus and the remaining blasts vanish.

I draw a spell card to take advantage of Mima?s weakening, ?Magicannon!? Rainbow-colored energy flows into me. The surge is exhilarating! ?Final Spark!? I fire a massive beam of magic, of various colors, at Mima, larger than the Master Spark. Final Spark is my second strongest ?spark? spell, surpassed only by Magicannon: Final Master Spark.

However, Mima recovers faster than I expected, and draws another spell card, ?Magic?s Might!? A ton of golden energy flows into her staff, ?Twilight Spark!? Huh? Before I can comprehend, she points her staff at my beam and fires a magical beam of magic of her own, as big as, or maybe even larger, as mine.

Our two ?sparks? clash. Even though I got the initiative, Mima?s attack is holding out quite well. We both pour some extra energy into our attacks. Sakuya tries to provide me with backup and tosses a knife at Mima, but the force of our spells release energy, which knocks it away.

Our power struggle lasts for about a minute, but my stamina starts to reach its limit and Mima overpowers me. I?m knocked back, feeling like I was hit by a flying boulder, and fly back so far, I land on the middle of the staircase.

I slowly rise back to my feet, feeling like shit. Up above, I hear Sakuya picking up where I was beaten. I slowly run up the stairs and reach the top. Sakuya and Mima are about even, but Mima is breathing faster. I guess her struggle with me took a lot out of her too.

Mima draws a spell card, pauses to catch her breath, and then declares, ?Flash Sign!? She?s using a spell card in her condition? She?s got to be getting there? Several magic circles appear above, pointing downward. Magic circles are like portals: they are two-dimensional and they are like a gateway for things to go through. They are white circles with a star-shape in the middle. Almost everyone in Gensokyo can use them. Everyone has a personal ?subspace? in which energy (like the case with me) or objects (in Sakuya?s case, for example) are stored, and they are released through the magic circles. ?Earth Light Nova!? The magic circles fire a number of large lasers downward at Sakuya, who dives forward, though the force of them hitting the ground seemed to have knocked her a bit. Another magic circle forms while Sakuya is on her belly after dodging the first attack and fires its laser, scoring a direct hit.

However, Sakuya manages to endure the blast and draws a spell card while she is on her hands and knees, ?Illusion Existence!? Several magic circles materialize around Sakuya, ?Clock Corpse!? The circles fire out knives, which home in on Mima. However, she sidesteps the knives without breaking her focus. Several more magic circles appear above Sakuya.

Mima yells, ?This is_ Huh??

A voice from out of nowhere declares, ?Immortal: Fire Bird ?Flying Phoenix-!? Suddenly, a flame in the shape of a bird swoops down and tears through Mima, breaking her focus, causing her magic circles to vanish. Sakuya and I turn around to see our sudden ally hovering in the air, a girl with aqua hair, extending down to the back of her knees, and red eyes (though not as bright as Remilia and Flandre?s), wearing a brown shirt and red overalls. She?s Fujiwara no Mokou. Like Sakuya, she drank the immortality elixir, so she is also immortal, though she won?t lose her memory if she dies. She also has the ability to control fire. Mokou lives in a bamboo forest, close to a village populated by humans. She has a fairly antisocial lifestyle. She once tried to erase the moon to prevent an alien invasion, but me and my friends defeated her. We?ve been? neutral since then. It seems like she hadn?t disappeared, nor is she in the process of vanishing, so I guess she?s like me and Sakuya.

?Mokou!? Sakuya yells out, relieved.

Mokou shrugs and says, ?I don?t know what the hell?s going on around here all the sudden. Keine, Akyu, and all the human villagers disappear mysteriously. Gensokyo becomes weird in general. I go to ask Reimu what?s going on, only to see her shrine burning down and the two of you fighting some weirdo. What an unusual day. Oh well, at least I did my good deed.?

Mima, who has probably reached her limit, rises into the air, ?Ugh? Looks like I can?t do much more. Very well, I shall leave you to whatever business you are trying to conduct, but remember that you brought this on yourselves, and for what? Beings that don?t exist. Don?t regret this later!? With that, Mima flies into the distance.
Sakuya says to Mokou, ?Thank you. She would have had me if you didn?t show up when you did??

Mokou folds her arms in front of her as she descends to ground level, ?If you guys really want to thank me, you?ll tell me just what the hell is going on around here. What is this, the apocalypse or something??

??? Sakuya and I silently nod.

Mokou puts her hand over her mouth as she gasps in surprise, ?Oh my god!?

I explain to Mokou what we?ve learned. About the occurrences around Gensokyo, about Reimu, and about what Mima said about Gensokyo being a ?thought? and everyone being ?figments.?

Before Mokou can respond, however, another voice comes from the general direction of the stairs, ?So it really is the end of Gensokyo, huh? Funny, I always thought I would be the cause of it. Not that damned miko?? The owner of the voice comes into sight: a girl with short green hair, wearing a red dress and white blouse. She?s Yuka Kazami, a mad youkai that can control flowers. She once covered Gensokyo with poisonous flowers. She calls herself Gensokyo?s strongest youkai. While I don?t know if she?s really the most powerful, she?s definitely up there. She?s half-faded.

I say solemnly, ?Yuka? It seems not even you could resist what?s happening to everyone??

Yuka looks at the ground, depressed, an emotion I didn?t even think she was capable of, ?So I don?t really exist, huh? Right now, my whole definition of ?existing? has gone straight to hell. Everything that I?ve done and worked for? in the end, I?m regulated to the status of inexistence. What a way to live? and end??

Even though Yuka?s an enemy to me, and even Gensokyo at times, I can?t help but feel a little bad for her right now. I take a few seconds to find the right words, ?Yuka, no matter what you are, you are real to me. I refuse to acknowledge you as anything less than that.?

Yuka blushes slightly, ?I? I don?t want or need your pity, witch. After all? I? I am? the strongest?? She tries to act tough, but she?s scared, just like everyone else. I wonder what happens to the consciousness of those that vanished. I find it hard to imagine they just disappear like they never existed in the first place. Yuka vanishes? there goes another one?

There are several minutes of silence between myself, Sakuya, and Mokou. Mokou asks, ?So what are we gonna do? How are we going to get Gensokyo out of THIS situation?? She points at the area at the bottom of the hill we are standing on. Dead plants and ruined buildings as far as the eye can see. Yeah, I can understand why she?s so skeptical.

I answer, ?Well? Yukari said she would meet with us. I guess that?s the first thing to do. The thing is, Reimu just disappeared. I don?t know where the hell she went, but wherever she is, we gotta get there. Hopefully Yukari knows, because I don?t know shit right now??

?Huh? You haven?t disappeared either?? Three more people approach.

One of them has very long black hair and wears a pink shirt with many white bows down the front and a dark red skirt. She?s Kaguya Houraisan. Believe it or not, she used to be a princess from the moon, but she was exiled to our world, where she eventually found her way to Gensokyo.  She drank the same elixir that Sakuya and Mokou drank, thus she?s immortal as well. She has power over eternity and has a past history with Mokou, which had caused the two of them to become bitter rivals. They patched up some of their differences, but they keep on fighting. I guess it?s just their nature?

The second person has long silver hair tied into a large braid in the back and wears a dress which is half red and half blue, split down through the middle, and wears a blue cap. She?s Eirin Yagokoro, one of Kaguya?s servants, and she also came from the moon. She has a genius IQ and can make any kind of potion? including the immortality elixir. In fact, she was its original creator, so naturally, she?s immortal as well.

Lastly, there is a girl with long lavender hair and red eyes, wearing a black business suit over a white shirt and red tie, and a pink skirt. More noticeably, though, are the two rabbit-like ears extending from her head. Her name is Reisen Udongein Inaba. Like Kaguya and Eirin, she?s also from the moon and came to Gensokyo looking for them. She?s a moon rabbit, a type of youkai from the moon, of course. She can inflict mental stress on someone, just by looking into their eyes and create illusions through a similar nature.

Being from the moon, Kaguya, Eirin, and Reisen are called Lunarians? and one more fun fact about Sakuya: so is she, although she didn?t find that out until recently. They are hiding in Gensokyo, in the bamboo forest, in a castle they built, called Eientei, in order to escape from their fellow moon people. They don?t want to return to the moon, which is apparently locked in an unending war with one of Gensokyo?s parallel realms. We learned that the Lunarians are planning on invading Gensokyo as well, so we?ve been trying to prepare for them, although under these current circumstances, that?s the least of our problems. Kaguya tried to delay their arrival by replacing the moon with one that will never become full, since Lunarians can only plane-walk when it?s full, which also emitted a light, causing almost everyone to obey her wishes, all as a means to prepare for war. Me, Reimu, Sakuya, and Youmu managed to stop her though, and since then, we?ve decided to prepare without disrupting Gensokyo?s way of life.

Mokou looks at Kaguya, ?It seems that whole disappearing thing didn?t erase you, princess. Joy.?

Kaguya smiles slightly, ?I should say the same to you, Fujiwara no Mokou.?

I ask, ?What brings the three of you here??

?I think it?s rather obvious,? states Reisen, ?Gensokyo is falling apart, the bamboo forest is withering, Tewi and all the other earth rabbits have just?? Reisen snaps her fingers, ?? vanished into thin air, and finally, there were some violent earthquakes, which reduced Eientei to a pile of broken wood. We were wondering if Reimu knew anything about what?s going on, hoping she didn?t disappear either??

?Welcome to the apocalypse!? says Mokou sarcastically.

Eirin?s eyes widen, ?The apocalypse? It?s the end of Gensokyo??

?Apparently,? answers Mokou, nodding her head slowly.

?How could this happen?? asks Kaguya.

Mokou explains the situation in a nutshell, ?Well, we were told that Gensokyo is a ?thought? and everyone is not real, so they disappeared. Apparently, Reimu is in the middle of all this and she acted weird, or so I was told. Everyone left over, namely us, are doomed to be a part of this crumbling world and float for eternity in a black void. To prevent that, some weirdo came and tried to kill us, but we sent her packing, so here we are now, the six of us standing in a disappearing world. This dream world has officially become a nightmare, people.?

Kaguya looks at me and Sakuya, ?Is this true.?

I nod and answer, ?Yeah. It?s the end of the world. I think we might have a chance of undoing this if we can find where Reimu went. Unfortunately, I don?t have a clue right now. Yukari might, though, so we should wait for her, after she?s done doing her investigating.?

We wait. I look out at the land from the hill. Under the dark shadow, everything is brown. Nothing but a wasteland. I look in the direction of the bamboo forest, where Eientei was barely visible on the horizon, but of course, it?s gone, just like Reisen said. Looking in another direction, a number of distant mountains had crumbed, including the Mountain of Faith, formerly known as Youkai Mountain, which had a massive shrine built into it. The world which held so many memories is facing complete destruction. Yukari, where are you?? Suddenly, I notice something else at the foot of the hill: the ground is starting to cave into itself, forming a dark hole, which rapidly spreads. A frigid wind blows through, which hits me like several needles.

?AHHH!? The patch of ground Kaguya is standing on suddenly caves in. She manages to grab the ledge, however.

?Kaguya!? all of us yell.

Sakuya asks, ?Can you fly back up??

?I can?t!? yells Kaguya in a strained voice, ?It?s sucking me i_ Ah!? The ledge Kaguya was holding onto crumbles and the princess starts to get sucked into the void. Before any of us can react, however, Kaguya?s arm is grabbed by the most unlikely savior: Mokou.

Kaguya?s eyes widen, ?Mokou! Why???

Mokou answers, ?If anything?s gonna do you in, princess, it will be me, not the freaking apocalypse! It doesn?t end here!? Mokou pulls Kaguya out of the hole.

I realize the hazardousness of the situation has now reached a whole new level. Is this what Yukari meant by ?Gensokyo becoming a dangerous place?? I recall that ball-thing she gave me. It definitely looks like we?ll need a ?safe place? now, especially that Gensokyo is crumbling in many different places. I pull it out of my pocket and tell everyone, ?Yukari gave me this. It will take us to a ?safe place.? However, there?s six of us and she said the portal will be open for five seconds, so we?d better be fast!?

Sakuya, Mokou, Kaguya, Eirin, and Reisen come closer to me as I drop the ball. As expected, a portal, blue in color, just wide enough for a person to fit through, opens. Wasting no time, I drop in first, followed by Kaguya, then Mokou, then Sakuya, then Eirin, and finally Reisen, as I imagine it closes. We all made it through and that?s what important.

I look around where we are now: We?re in the middle of a field, which is covered in snow. There are several icy mountains in the distance. In spite of this, however, the temperature is about 50 degrees. Pretty pleasant. Up above, it is nighttime, with the sky completely clear with a crescent moon and enough stars visible to see the various constellations.

?What is this place?? asks Kaguya.

Eirin adds, ?It seems so cold, yet it?s so nice. Beautiful, even??

Mokou says, ?Well, the important thing is that it?s not a mess like Gensokyo? and that?s IF there?s anything left of it...?

I mention, ?Yukari said she?d meet us here? but I wonder what ?here? is??

?Marisa?? Behind me, I hear a familiar voice saying my name. I turn around and see two familiar faces in this unknown land.

The first one has semi-long blonde hair, managed with a red headband and blue eyes, wearing a blue dress with white highlights. She is accompanied by a doll with yellow hair, wearing a blue dress. She?s Alice Margatroid, she was the only other resident in the area of Gensokyo I called home: the Forest of Magic. She is a magician like me, but also a youkai. She has the ability to control dolls, like the one with her, Shanghai. She?s intelligent and had taken five other youkai under her wing as students. We used to be rivals, but we?ve gotten to be very close friends.

With Alice is a much shorter girl with short light-blue hair with a blue ribbon, wearing a blue dress. She has two light-blue wings extending out of her back. She?s Cirno, one of those five students of Alice I mentioned, the first one, in fact. She?s not very bright, but she has potential to be elite among youkai, which is Alice?s goal with this girl. Ironically, Alice considers Cirno her star pupil. However, lately, she has shown improvement and even some surprising smarts.

Surprised, I say, ?Alice? Is that really you? How did you get here? What is this place??

Alice answers, ?I?ve had some past connection with this particular realm, and I?ve managed to escape here with Cirno when it was clear that Gensokyo won?t survive, not to mention that we were starting to fade. This is Makai, the demon world.?

Cirno smiles cheerfully and says, ?Isn?t it pretty? I like it here!?
I take a few steps back, ??De-demon world?? Aren?t demons merciless killers that destroy things for fun? kinda like Yuka??

Alice shakes her head, ?You shouldn?t think like that, Marisa. Demons are greatly misunderstood. They are a lot like you and me, except they live here. That?s the only difference between us and them.?

Sakuya asks, ?You said you have a connection to this place. May I ask what??

A soothing voice with a slight accent, which I can?t identify, comes from a distance and draws closer, ?Alice Margatroid used to study this realm and its inhabitants for about seven months. During that time, she practically became one of us. She?s special to me?? A figure materializes out of thin air behind Alice, a woman with long silver hair, partly braided into a small pigtail, gray eyes, and wears a flowing red robe. She wraps her arms around Alice from behind as a hug ?? like a daughter??

?Who are you?? I ask the mystery woman.

She introduces herself, ?My name is Shinki. I am the queen? no? the goddess of the demon world that surrounds you. All born here are my children??

Cirno?s eyes widen, ?She?s your mother, Alice? You didn?t tell me that!?

Alice says, ?No, you got it all wrong. Shinki-sama is not my mother. She had just been a mother figure to me!?

Shinki lets go of Alice and laughs, ?Don?t be so modest, Alice. You can call me your mother. I accept you as one of my own.?

?If you want? mother?? Alice quickly changes the subject as if she?s embarrassed, ?So? um? Marisa? Sakuya? Mokou? Lunarians? How did you get here??

Mokou starts off, ?Marisa used something, like a ball, to open a portal, which led us here.?

I pick up, explaining in a more specific fashion, ?Yukari gave me that ?ball.? She said it would open a portal to a ?safe place,? which just happens to be here. Now, Alice, let me ask you the same question: how did YOU get here??

?It was? rather sudden,? explains Alice, ?All kinds of disasters occurred around Gensokyo and people were disappearing. My students vanished one by one. Wriggle, Rumia, Medicine, and finally Mystia. Cirno was about to disappear and I started to fade myself??

Shinki picks up, ?Makai has a boundary link to Gensokyo, and I can open a gateway here as I see fit. I managed to get Alice and her remaining student here just in time.?

Alice looks at the ground, ?Just what is happening to Gensokyo? and everyone??

Sakuya explains what we learned from Mima, ?We learned that Gensokyo is coming to an end. The one we learned this from compared Gensokyo to a ?thought? and everyone within it as ?fragments? that didn?t truly exist, fading away. This had happened to everyone: Remilia-sama, Meiling, Patchouli, Koakuma, Flandre, Yuka? However, Marisa, Eirin, Mokou, Kaguya, Reisen, and I didn?t disappear at all for some reason??

Shinki suggests, ?Perhaps there is something all six of you hold in common??

We take a few seconds to think.

?We?re all human?? guesses Sakuya.

?I?m not,? says Reisen.

Mokou adds, ?The people of the human village disappeared too.?

Sakuya puts on an embarrassed smile, ?My mistake??

Mokou makes another guess, ?We?re immortal??

?I?m not immortal,? I respond.

?Neither am I,? says Reisen again.

?Um? um?? Kaguya tries hard to come up with an idea, ?We?re all Lunarians??

Another wrong idea, as I point out, ?I?m not a Lunarian.?

?Neither am I,? says Mokou.

Eirin, who was silent the whole time, takes a shot, ?We?re not from Gensokyo??

There?s a long silence between us.

?Let?s see,? says Alice, ?Kaguya, Eirin, Reisen, and Sakuya were all from the moon in a different realm??

Mokou adds, ?I wasn?t, but I came from another realm too.?

?But I lived in Gensokyo my whole life!? I say, ?That can?t be it!?

Shinki says to me, ?Even if that?s so, it seems like the most logical conclusion. If Gensokyo and the residents born there are all part of the same thought, then outside elements may have a different set of rules.?

I?m getting confused. Just where do I fit in? ?That makes sense, but I?ve lived in Gensokyo for as long as I can remember. How did I not disappear??

Shinki closes her eyes, ?That I do not know??

Sakuya mentions, ?And just WHAT exactly is Reimu? How could she cause all this? Sure, she saved Gensokyo on many different occasions, but she was just as human as all the others! Why that change??

?What are you talking about?? asks Cirno.

Alice?s eyes widen, ?Reimu? What do you mean she ?caused? this??

I explain, ?Yukari asked us to go to the Hakurei Shrine and see Reimu. Apparently, she had some suspicions about her? and while I didn?t want to believe it, those suspicions were right on. She said some weird things, and then disappeared.?

?I can?t believe it,? says Alice in disbelief.

?So everything was confirmed on your end?? Suddenly, Yukari appears from out of a portal.

Relieved, I say, ?Yukari! You made it, just like you said!

?Hello, Yukari,? greets Shinki, ?What brings you here??

Yukari greets back, ?It?s been a long time Shinki?? I guess when you go from one realm to the next, you meet plenty of people ?? I?ve come to speak to the individuals that have come here.? She turns her attention back to me, ?From what you just said, Reimu was acting strangely??

?Yeah,? I answer, ?What about you investigation??

?It?s just as I thought,? answers Yukari.

?You know something,? says Sakuya, ?So what?s going on? Why did Reimu act the way she did? What did you research??

Yukari opens a portal, ?I will show you. Follow me.?

?Certainly,? responds Alice as she walks toward the portal.

Cirno cries, ?But I wanna stay here! And I want to be with someone from Gensokyo!?

Reisen says to Cirno, ?I?ll stay with you. I know little about what?s going on and I agree, this is a pretty nice place.?

?I?ll stay too,? volunteers Eirin, ?I?m curious about the materials I can find here to make potions with, but I want to know what you?ll find out.?

Kaguya and Mokou stare at the portal. Kaguya says, ?I?m? curious? All this time, Gensokyo was not what it seemed. I want to know more??

Mokou responds, ?Strangely enough, this is something I want to look further into??

?Okay,? says Yukari, ?Beyond this portal awaits the absolute truth; the reason behind Gensokyo?s existence. The reason it began and there reason for its impending end.?

I step forward, ?It could be the key to saving Gensokyo. Count me in!?

Alice turns to Shinki, ?I?ll be back again. I just really want to know the truth behind what I?ve known for so long. Please take care of Cirno for me.?

?I understand,? acknowledges Shinki, ?I?ll see you again. I?m happy to have seen you again, Alice.?

?Let?s go!? Sakuya, Alice, Kaguya, Mokou, Yukari, and I jump into the portal.
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