[Ask First] Monkshood at the Shrine

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[Ask First] Monkshood at the Shrine

Postby Reimu Hakurei » 21 Jul 2012 21:42

Once in a while, you wake up with the birds singing and the sun shining, with a rainbow in the sky and a skip in your step. You look outside your house and find somebody has coincidentally dropped a bottle of the finest bourbon on your doorstep, then you drink it in broad daylight and it feels great. You find money on the way to wherever you need to go, and all the food you buy is both discounted and fresh. Also it's your birthday.

And some days are absolutely nothing like that.

Reimu's was closer to the latter, from the very start. She awoke that morning with a crick in her neck and an unbearable heat in the shrine, courtesy of a certain strange box she had borrowed from Rinnosuke breaking down sometime during the night. Either that, or those fairies that lived nearby had snuck in and tampered with it...they weren't usually malicious, but she wouldn't put anything past them after some of the strange things they'd done. It was probably easier to blame them, anyway.

Thinking to console herself - and ideally, cool down a little bit - she wandered out in her sarashi and skirt, hair still a mess from her overheated, mediocre sleep, to retrieve the wine she could typically expect as an offering. Sure enough, as she expected simply from the start of her day, it was gone. This was almost definitely the work of those fairies, and any uncertainty she felt in her determination to punish them for inconveniencing her vanished.

She still had sake, of course - she always had sake - and she downed a small jug of it in one big gulp (not unlike a bachelor hunting wild orange juice in his kitchen). A little dribbled down her chin and onto her body, soaking into her sarashi, but she didn't care; it helped to cool her a bit. As she'd hoped, it took some of the edge off the morning, and she was more than a little grateful that nothing was wrong with it. Perhaps the day was just off to a bad start.

It seemed to get better and better - her broom didn't even break as she began her morning sweep, and while it didn't cool off any, no strange mists or false moons or new gods/annoying bizarro-mikos appeared. Reimu was genuinely surprised. It didn't even seem like the youkai were all that active...

...In fact, there were few sounds around her shrine at all today, if any. No tittering of fairies, no birds chirping...even the wind seemed to be afraid to rustle through the trees. Reimu's grip on her ever-present broom tightened. It didn't feel like an incident - no scent of wirepulling hung in the air - but it was hardly good news. Even among the powerful youkai she was used to, very few quieted the air like this.
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Re: [Ask First] Monkshood at the Shrine

Postby Yuuka Kazami » 28 Jul 2012 10:10

The maiden and the murderess stood in the middle of the ruined shrine, remnants of shattered magic and energy curling around them. Rain slashed in a miserable flood, thick enough to obscure vision, hissing against smoldering stone and burning wood.

Above the rain, the only audible sounds came from the two figures; one human, the catching, gurgling rasp of someone breathing into bruised lungs; the other a quiet, hissing chuckling, seemingly coming from two throats, one of them low and guttural, interlaced with the other in a strange cacophony that could almost be described as daemonic.

"This is for revenge, isn't it, Kazami? Just how petty can you be?" The maiden's voice is beautiful, delicate, despite the obvious strain in her words, each breath filled with prickles of pain. "What were you setting out to do? What did you hope to achieve? Are you that much of an idiot? Answer me this, youkai." It's then that her voice, divine and angelic, rises to a scream.

"WHY DID YOU COME BACK HERE?!"

The murderess doesn't answer. She spits acidic blood onto the cracked stone floor, drawing in another ragged breath. The parasol in her hand is a cleaved ruin, its shaft severed halfway along its length. The necklace Parsee had given her had long since been snapped apart at the first few heartbeats of the duel, the petal-thin shards of amber scattering everywhere. A smile creeps across her split lips as she feels an instinctive tug of guilt. It was surely a sin to lose such a precious thing.

"Yuuka." The maiden breathes painfully again, her siren song laced with anger. Such hatred given form was remarkable, only for its absence of mockery and malice. In their place, indignation, a sense of betrayal, and...pity. "You know I can't let you go, after this. You're too dangerous. I have to..." Her voice catches in her throat, and she speaks again. "You have to be destroyed."

The murderess sinks to one knee, blood trickling from her many wounds. Her attempt at speech leaves her lips as a grunt of pain. The only thing she smells is the copper stench of her imminent death, measured in moments. A pity - in the pitched battle, she had converted the forest surrounding the shrine into a lush flower garden, the scent of ambrosia thick in the air. The maiden comes closer, even daring to rest the talisman-wrapped tip of her gohei on the wounded youkai's shoulder.

"I never wanted it to come to this, Yuuka. But you're...you're a danger to Gensokyo. I can't let this by, never again."

Yuuka spits blood again, and hisses two words. A name. Meaningless to anyone else but her. The name of a weakling, hiding in a forgotten cavern. Imminently forgettable to anyone else other than the ruined Flower Master.

Reimu Hakurei tilts her head as she looks down at Yuuka. Her robes are torn, dyed crimson with blood where it was supposed to be white, one sleeve all but burned away, the ribbon-ensnared cinch hanging loosely over her elbow. The plaits of her hair is undone, the ribbon torn loose, ebony strands plastered to her face by sweat, by the rain, by blood. Justice given form. Murder given form.

"I can never understand what the hell you're thinking." The maiden spits. "But that's...that's the bridge princess, isn't it? Your only friend that should have kept to herself in her hole in the ground, instead of coming up here?" A laugh. "You call out to the dead, in the hopes that they'll save you? Or even forgive you?"

The parasol falls from her grip, too heavy to hold any longer. She stares at it, lying on the shattered stone, bathed in the downpour, the white material shining as clean as the day she'd bought it from the shop.

Slowly, Yuuka lifts her head and smiles at her executioner. Shakily staggering to her feet. Rain showering the blood from her face, salty on her lips, stinging her eyes. She wonders if the maiden sees her - sees her smiling, smiling the smile that she'd always worn.

Her fingers curling into claws, the Flower Master of the Four Seasons raises a hand towards Reimu Hakurei.


It was supposed to be just a visit. A social one. She had brought the things she knew the Shrine Maiden would appreciate, even though she knew full well Reimu had nothing towards actual gratitude and manners, being a low-born cur. A bag of expensive tea. Two bottles of sake, fresh from the market. Those disgusting sticky rice cakes filled with red bean jam. And of course, the purpose of her visit - a silver pocketwatch, specially made for one Mizuhashi Parsee. To be blessed and warded, to provide its bearer good luck and protection. A blessing that only the Shrine Maiden herself would be able to bestow.

Yuuka had made it to the steps leading to the Shrine before it overtook her.

She had felt its presence her entire life. It had always been there, a splinter in her mind, obstrusive but easily ignored. She feels it pulse each time she brings to fore her...affinity to flowers, every time she tapped into the reserves of magic that was bountiful as it was hard to control. IT would always try to worm into her thoughts, pulling at her restraints, tempting her. And always she had managed to brush it off, block it out, or simply quash it. She was Kazami Yuuka, beholden to nothing and to no one. Not even to the presence that took root in her mind.

It has been becoming worse in recent times. The last time she had felt it rise so strongly was during a visit to the Forgotten Hell - no longer a simple, feeble voice, it had been a chorus of bloodthirsty throats, crushing and overpowering, demanding tribute in blood and carnage. They wanted her to kill Parsee. To reduce her into nothing more than meat and blood.

Had she let it, she would have slaughtered everything else in that realm. Until she herself died.

She had managed to stop it then, at cost. She had thought it had finally been quelled, tamed.

Yuuka was not expecting for it to bide its time, to wait until she was at her weakest.

And it had. Reducing the dignified, peerless Flower Master into her base form - a bloodthirsty youkai, seeking only murder and slaughter. The basket dropped like so much refuse, the parasol clattering to the floor, discarded. Her eyes shrinking to mere pinpricks of blood.

And her smile the widest it had ever been.

She raises her hand and cackles two words. At this range, directly in front of the Shrine Maiden, Yuuka laughs as a pure white orb of roiling energy blasts into existence at her fingertips, throbbing in front of her oustretched hand. As the last word leaves her lips, the orb explodes into a pillar of energy. Striking with the force of a battleship broadside.

"MASTER SPARK."
Yuuka Kazami
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Re: [Ask First] Monkshood at the Shrine

Postby Reimu Hakurei » 04 Aug 2012 14:43

'It's only Yuuka' is a thought that few others in Gensokyo would ever be able to have, and during the all-too-short pleasant moment before the storm, during the half-wave she'd offered the youkai, Reimu treasured that phrase deeply. To say that the two of them were friends would be an exaggeration, but Yuuka was someone she knew, and someone she was fond enough of. Better the monster you know, after all, and certainly there were worse.

Something was...Off. Something subtle, something in the way the youkai moved, even before the basket she carried left her hand. A flash of something dark and primal flickered on the sunflower devil's face, and at the same time, Reimu felt like a rabbit that had just been spotted by a circling hawk. But this was nothing new. This was what she felt every time she met a vicious, drooling youkai that wanted her delicious flesh inside its stomach. This was what she felt every time she had tea in the Netherworld, every time she dined with a vampire, every time she saw a wisp of blonde hair under a pointed hat.

It was not fear.

Fear was not something the Hakurei Miko could afford. Because of her position, the privilege she held, she feared no human nor any god. She feared no ghost or spirit, no nuclear holocaust, and most importantly...

Most importantly, Hakurei Reimu feared no youkai. No, that emotion was not fear - it was a deep understanding. An instinctual knowledge of what she must do.

"Nooo." As Yuuka's smile widened, Reimu gripped her broom tighter, knuckles turning white, and she glowered at the youkai, drawing her word out as though scolding an ignorant child or a beloved pet.

"Don't." Her eyes narrowed as two awful words escaped the Flower Master's lips, her second warning cracking out like a peal of thunder.

This was no spellcard. Yuuka knew better than this. She was more civilized than this. This was a woman that would bring herself down to Cirno's level in a fight simply to avoid boredom. Something was wrong here, and though that was Reimu's immediate concern...this was also a declaration of war. It was probably a mercy toward Gensokyo that it was a glove thrown at her feet and not some defenseless human's, or at the feet of someone who would show no restraint at all.

"YUU-" Her third and final warning was cut off sharply, both by the sound of the Spark hitting the air and the immediate movement she was forced to take. The white-hot blast of energy left nothing in its wake but the scent of ozone, the very air torn asunder by the full strength of Kazami Yuuka. Where once there had been a shrine now stood a few smoldering planks, still white-hot, oddly-shaped as though the wood was not only burnt away but partially-melted. The forest behind it was well-ruined, too, a path of smoking void carved clear through it.

The maiden herself escaped by the skin of her teeth - a hastily-constructed barrier had prevented most of the heat's damage to her as she dodged, but even so, the burning light of the Master Spark had reduced most of one of her sleeves to something even less than ash. The needles hidden within had sparkled and crackled beautifully for one shining moment before becoming one with the aether. Even with her barrier, her left arm was scorched visibly and severely.

No. This was no spellcard.

She took no notice of her shrine nor the untimely death of Mister Lovely Donation Box - or if she did, she gave no indication. Her eyes were locked onto Yuuka, her face frozen in an expression that was neither anger nor sadness, but some mix of the two. Her left fist clenched once, then uncurled, then clenched again. Arm was still working. Good.

The maiden whispered a quiet prayer to a nameless god, a summons for the familiars of the Hakurei, orbs of black and white that appeared from nothingness. They hovered around the miko for a moment before flying out in formation, drifting in front of her as she leapt to the air and failed utterly to fall down again. There was no show of preparation, no taunting or jeering or casual dismissal, merely a small gesture and another prayer as the air around each of them began to ripple and distort. Her orbs began to spin, then from each erupted a stream of projectiles. Her battle-worn family heirlooms became two spinning cannons of sanctified needles and two of blessed ofuda bearing down on the berserk youkai, filling the air with metal and paper and the rustles and whistles thereof as she began to seal the shrine grounds in her own Border World.
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Re: [Ask First] Monkshood at the Shrine

Postby Wriggle Nightbug » 04 Aug 2012 18:20

It was the perfect afternoon for Wriggle's visit to the Hakurei shrine. Birdsong mingled with the chatter of insects - audible only to her in all the forest - while the scent of wildflowers and grass drifted through the air, all set to the shining midsummer sun. She could not have asked for a better day. It had been a little over a week and a half since Reimu's visit to her home, quite long enough to merit checking on her. In her hands, she carried a jar of honey, brought from her home. Knowing the shrine maiden, she had already finished her previous supply.

She walks between the trees and through the fields towards her destination, without a care in the world (as much as that was ever true for her), a smile on her face.

She couldn't have known, of course.

The shrine comes into view for only a few moments. Reimu sweeping the grounds, and a familiar figure at the steps. Kazami Yuuka, a basket at her feet. A strange visit if she had ever seen one. At this distance, she notices none of the small details, nor can she make out any of the words in the conversation, if indeed there was one between the two. Still, meeting two friends in one visit - particularly one that she had not seen in some time - was a welcome surprise.

And in the next instant, there was nothing in all the world but a single flash of white. She barely avoids being knocked to the ground by the sheer force of the shockwave alone, the searing heat all too clear even from this distance, ears ringing, almost blinded by the Master Spark, light that could humble a sun. Power almost beyond anything she could imagine, anything she had seen before.

In the aftermath of the spell, the miko flies skyward, orbs spinning around her. Wriggle would have liked to think of it as a familiar sight, one she had seen and faced before. She was beginning to understand, moment by moment, that she had only seen a fraction of Reimu's power, on that endless night. Even what she saw right now was far beyond that, worse than anything she had seen before. And every ounce of that power was now directed at Yuuka. Anyone could tell what to do. Even a fairy would know what must be done, here. Run, before her chance is lost. Leave, while she still can.

The jar hurtles backwards, propelled by momentum, striking a tree and shattering against it as Wriggle swings one arm back, sprinting forward into the midst of the unfolding battle. There would be no time, at this speed, to prepare any sort of protection. Nothing would stand in the way of the way of the incoming barrage. It was not that this, in itself, could hurt Yuuka - even she knew better than that - but a single blow from the shrine maiden would escalate the battle to even greater heights. It fell to her to see to this madness before any further harm was done to either Yuuka or Reimu.

Not a moment too late, the firefly finds herself between the Flower Master and the hail of magic that had been prepared for her. She has no shield, no strength, and though she has speed enough to move out of the way if need be, instead she focuses that agility in ensuring that every single projectile strikes her rather than the taller youkai directly behind her. Not one of them would be allowed to pass. Each seal saps her strength, each needle pierces her skin, weakening her little by little before fading into smoke. And yet she stands, in a moment of perfect focus and clarity, barring the way until the deluge of sacred magic pauses, ever so briefly.

She needs no shield. She can serve the part for now.

"Stop," she croaks, even a single syllable burning her throat. Still riddled with needles, burning paper adhering to her, she turns slowly, facing the flower-queen that still towered over her. Reimu's attack was never meant to cause so much harm, no doubt. But then, no one was supposed to be struck by every single projectile, and of course, it was intended for one far more powerful than Wriggle. The crushing weight on her shoulders, the strength leaving her legs, the blood that seemed to pool in her throat, the constant shaking, the pain in her head... none of it mattered. They would have to wait their turn to drag her down. This was no time for it. She stares up at Yuuka, and weak as she is, she still manages to bring some anger into her eyes, some words to the monster's ears, broken up by wet coughs.

"What have you done, Yuuka? You're better than this. Why?"
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Re: [Ask First] Monkshood at the Shrine

Postby Yuuka Kazami » 12 Aug 2012 09:05

A low, guttural growl rises deep from within the Flower Master's throat in reply to Wriggle's strained query - one that escalates to a rusty, grinding chuckle. Twinned with Kazami Yuuka's own soft, mocking laughter, the effect is disconcerting in its perverse discordance. Two souls, cackling from the same mouth. Giving voice to the same twisted amusement of seeing such a stunningly idiotic display of well-meaning nobility. Such worthless, laughable selflessness.

Better than that? You thought I was better than that, Wriggle Nightbug? The words leave Yuuka's lips in an undecipherable series of growls and snarls, the vowels slurred through bloody saliva trickling down her chin, the consonants bitten off harshly by blood-pinked teeth, each one seemingly filed into points. Forgive me, Mistress of The Flies, but I have no memory of ever perpetuating such a loathsome untruth. I am as I have always been, as I have always been known. I am no better than some skulking predator, preying upon anything and everything in its path. I am no better than the low-born oni, born to consume and rape whatever it can sink its diseased claws and teeth into.

A rustle of cloth as one of the Flower Master's arms snap forward, the motion so quick, so violent, that it seemed as if she had never moved at all. In one moment, she was standing in front of the stricken insect youkai - and the very next, she had Wriggle by the throat, lifting her up off her feet and into the air. Slowly choking her. Slowly killing her.

I am and have always been a monster. What do I have to do to convince you people of that?

Yuuka grins up at the slowly-asphyxiating girl in her grasp, her crimsoned tongue licking her teeth. It's then that she spots the still-airborne Shrine Maiden - and her grin grows wider.

Ah. Of course. What I came here for. How easily I forget, nowadays. Embarrassing. I thank you for reminding me, Wriggle. She cackles as she gives Wriggle an almost playful shake. Perhaps people will remember now, after I tear the Shrine Maiden in half and feast on her flesh. People will remember the name Kazami Yuuka after I gnaw on her bones and reduce her name to a long forgotten memory. Perhaps, then, they will remember who it is they should truly be afraid of. You have my gratitude.

It's then that Yuuka discards Wriggle. But she does not simply drop her to the ground, no merciful release. Instead, the Flower Master of the Four Seasons flings her, contemptuously, to the side - and she would have made quite the impressive furrow in the forestry surrounding the path towards the now-ruined shrine, had not a giant venus flytrap caught Wriggle in its maw at the final moment. The carnivorous plant, rendered sentient and grotesquely engorged into gargantuan proportions, seems to have clawed its way out of the earth, uprooting several trees and shattering through ancient tiling. Bristling and shivering with the same insane life force that stabbed out from the cackling flower youkai that now had Reimu in her sights.

Yuuka turns away from her prey for a moment, however. Looking at the now-imprisoned youkai through the openings between the flytrap's thorn-teeth, each one as thick and brittle as an elephant tusk.

This is no place for a weakling, Queen of the Swarm. But you can, at the very least, watch as I take my place once more in Gensokyo.

A moment more, and she turns back to Reimu. This entire altercation seemingly having taken ages, but in reality, had taken no more than a few moments. In a span of heartbeats long enough for a Shrine Maiden to make peace with her Gods before she breathes her last.

Barely enough time for a forgotten youkai to ask forgiveness for all the wrong she'd ever done, and the wrong she was about to do.

Yuuka takes a step forward - and it's then that the ground around her leather-encased foot suddenly collapses inward, dimpling, as if a great and insurmountable weight had smashed into that space rather than just a simple step. Masonry shattering and earth cracking in that one simple motion, with a noise akin to mountains breaking in half.

She takes another step, and this time the entire ground underneath them trembles. The hard-packed earth fissuring, splitting, being torn apart by forces unseen. A moment exposes the culprits, however, as they breach through loam and sand and dirt and dust, each emerging with the deafening reports of cannons. Huge, thick vines, infested with thorns, caked with the very earth they had been tunneling in, rippling with barely-kept rage and hunger. Each one rising, boring into the air, the sunlight gleaming off their glistening verdant membranes.

Yuuka raises her chin towards Reimu. A simple gesture.

And five of these vines rise up to enact her will. The tendrils raking into the sky, streaking upwards like giant arrows flung by ancient siege machines, tethered in their flight. A whispered word from the Flower Master and they wrap around each other, twisting tightly into one braided pillar while still pursuing its airborne prey.

The moment it comes upon Reimu is the moment that the vine pillar suddenly frays apart, exploding into five seperate strands once more. Four of these seem to catch on fire and wither away, shrieking, as soon as they manage to come in contact with the Shrine Maiden - but one wraps around her ankle, cinching tight, its spines digging into Reimu's flesh as well as its own. Locking in, hard and deep.

It is joined by three more of its brothers, wrapping around that successful vine, braiding themselves around it. Strengthening that one strand. Turning a thread into a rope. A noose.

And it's with a cackle that Yuuka raises a hand straight into the air--

Die, Reimu Hakurei.

--before she rips that hand downward, cracking an invisible whip.

The motion repeated by the vine snapping outward and sending the Shrine Maiden crashing back down into the wreckage of her destroyed Shrine with an earth-shaking impact.

There will be no more peace in Gensokyo.

With this, the Flower Master of the Four Seasons have all but declared war.

There will only be death and murder, and the laughter of thirsting youkai.
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Re: [Ask First] Monkshood at the Shrine

Postby Wriggle Nightbug » 12 Aug 2012 17:59

Her shock only lasts for a moment as Yuuka lifts the broken firefly into the air, choking the life out of her. Wriggle does not struggle. There would be no point, against a youkai of such strength. Instead, she watches, listening intently. To a human, it would be nothing more than growls and hisses. Youkai were different - each and every one of them had a language to share, and for the most part, the flower master's words, which she so desperately wished to shut out, were crystal clear to her.

Just as a picture is said to be a thousand words, one look tells her more than anything she had heard: What she sees in the eyes of the monster that now holds her aloft carries a radiance all of its own. The mind within was not unlike a shard of glass, sharp enough to cut, shining brightly if there was the slightest bit of light to reflect, but ultimately still broken. What she sees in those eyes is a strange, twisted, dangerous thing; above all, it is not Kazami Yuuka.

In the next instant, she is cast aside, sent hurtling towards the forest at a speed not even her flying can halt. The battlefield rapidly retreats from her eyes at first, accompanied by whistling wind and the memory of a single contemptuous look. Even this quickly vanishes as, to her confusion, she finds herself snared in the mouth of a colossal plant. A few moments are lost to surprise, disoriented as she is, before she regains her bearings.

The plant is a familiar one - it only takes her a moment to assess her new surroundings. "A fly? Is that what you see?" She murmurs to the empty air, all but spitting the words out, each one tinged with disgust. Here, cut off from the battle, she was trapped. Immobile, completely blind and deaf to the outside world. Yuuka thought that this would render her helpless. Another might wish to make this her last mistake - Wriggle harboured no such hopes. She had no intention of harming Kazami.

As she lies in the wreckage of her home, a cricket lands at Reimu's side, holding perfectly still. Though she is nowhere to be seen, Wriggle's voice soon comes from near the insect, in a tone the shrine maiden has never heard from her. "Run," she pleads, her voice sounding as if she is almost begging. "I... I'll think of something. Just run for now. Please."

At that point, the vine's grip slackens. All that grows falls sooner or later; all plants, sooner or later, feed the swarm. The Flower Master's creation is no exception, as worms and beetles gnaw through the bonds in seconds before burrowing back into the ground. The larger vines soon follow suit, devoured at the base, not completely, but enough to cause the plant's own weight to tear the rest apart as it crashes down to the ground. It was nothing but an attempt at stalling, of course; Yuuka could doubtless conjure more in the blink of an eye. But hopefully, this would be enough for now. Time enough for a quick escape.

With the attention she had almost certainly drawn to herself, she could not use her insects to open an escape route from within her cage. That would put them at too much risk. Still, there was hope: The way above was closed. She might have been open to pry it open - after the initial snap, these plants still took some time to tighten their grip - but not with the strength that was left in her arms now. The rest of the plant, however, provided an easier path.

A moment later, a curved, serrated blade bursts through the side of the venus flytrap; a scythe, much like that of a praying mantis. Another slash, then a third, and a hole is carved out of the plant mass, providing an exit even as the insectile blades rapidly fade into nothing, revealing the humanoid arms of Wriggle Nightbug in their place once more. She steps out from the gash, covered from head to toe in the plant's drying sap, once meant as bait for its prey, its smell mingling with the scents of blood and burning wood.

"No," she mutters under her breath, advancing, in defiance of any sense of self-preservation, towards Yuuka once again. "Not just me. None of us belong here right now." She stares directly at the taller youkai, resignation overriding fear; what point was there in fear, when the chance to turn back was long gone?

"I don't know who you are," she begins, raising her voice now so that the Flower Master might hear her. "I don't care any more. All I know is that you're nothing like the face you wear. You've hurt Reimu, and at this rate, it's a matter of time before you do the same to miss Kazami." It's then that she delivers her ultimatum, completely unwarranted for one with as little strength as her, supported by little more than hope and the wish for one last try at ending this quickly.

"Stop your attack now, and return miss Kazami. You still have one chance; please, don't waste it." I don't think I could live through a second time if you refuse.
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Re: [Ask First] Monkshood at the Shrine

Postby Reimu Hakurei » 17 Aug 2012 19:08

The cat's blood-red eyes crossed at the maiden's palm as she held it in front of her, cutting short the kasha's delivery on a stygian promise.

"Whad'ya mean 'stop'? I tagged ya three times, so now you gotta get in the cart." There was hardly any malice in the voice; it was that of a child (albeit something of a crude one) whining, a child that got a cheap dollar-store knockoff of the most popular toy of the season.

"Under the spellcard rules, even if you win in a spellcard duel, you aren't allowed to kill a human," the corpse-to-be, Hakurei Reimu, chimed. "So I want a do-over."

"But...I...but...corpse..." Of course, when Reimu wanted a do-over, then that was that, even if she had to fight someone a hundred times to get where she was going. It was a perk of being one of the pillars of Gensokyo, a rule that, ultimately, applied equally across Heaven or Hell, the Netherworld or Makai.


-----

Reimu felt a tiny pang of regret, followed by a somewhat less tiny 'crunch', as a vine grasped her and hurled her quite furiously down into what was left of her own home. Her only thought in that split-second was her old, childish standby:

I want a do-over...

Despite this, Wriggle had, with her body and her small act of defiance, bought the maiden enough time to do what she needed to do: the shrine was sealed off. The air shimmered and waved unnaturally around the three of them, space twisting and distorting in ways that only Reimu and Yukari could perceive (not that the latter was helpful enough to show up when she was actually needed). Any attempt any of them made to leave would simply mean emerging on some other edge of the grounds. Likewise, anyone attempting to intervene, even with danmaku, would find their efforts lost to the lake of trees around the shrine.

There would be no more intrusions, and more importantly, Yuuka wouldn't be able to get away (not that she expected the elder youkai would turn tail at this point). Not until Reimu was dead, anyway, and if that happened everyone would already be ribbons-deep in trouble.

The shrine maiden lay there for a few moments that seemed, to her, like an hour. Not a long-enough hour, of course; every sensible part of her brain wanted to let the bones that broke rest a bit, maybe go to sleep for a while. By the time she'd wake up, those parts of her said, Marisa would probably have this whole thing wrapped up already. It was a warm day, and the sunlight really did feel good all of a sudden.

But that was not, of course, really an option.

It would be nice to say that Wriggle's act of bravery stirred Reimu to new heights of power, that the brave little bug gave her the energy to stand again. In truth she barely heard either youkai over the sound of the blood pounding in her head (and maybe out of it, in places). What forced the shrine maiden to clear her mind and pull herself back to her feet - with the aid of a handy yin-yang orb - was, in the end, a human's determination, though certainly Wriggle had bought her the time she needed to get up and act, and this was more important than improbable rushes of power brought on entirely by friendship.

She was dimly aware her shrine had been destroyed, and somewhat more prominently aware that most of her ribcage and a number of her limbs and gone with it. She knew Wriggle had been hurt badly (which certainly wasn't her fault at all) and she knew that somewhere in the monster that had appeared before her, an old friend waited as warmly as she could. Although she was apparently forced down by a brutal, bloodthirsty youkai with, Reimu suspected, no appreciation for fine liquor, let alone tea.

Knowing Yuuka, actually, she was probably still smirking in there, idly wondering whether it would rain today, as well as which of them would walk away and which would become a fine mist of atoms on the breeze.

Yet what anger she felt was cool. There were no threats or jeers or commands. The maiden looked resolute, if not quite so remorseful now. In a flash she was in the air again, and then she was gone. She was the Mysterious Flying Shrine Maiden. She needed neither bones nor blood for an exorcism. Flashes of red and white and the occasional dark brownish-purple flitted throughout the barrier as Reimu began to race between stop-gaps, accompanied shortly by her orbs.

More and more orbs seemed to appear as they flew from stop-gap to stop-gap, though really, they were only afterimages, moments of fleeting fantasy frozen by Reimu's barrier. The maiden herself quickly became hard to place, though she feared not briefly passing near Yuuka. It was cheeky, really, almost as if she were taunting the youkai.

After a few long seconds of flitting about, It happened. A wave, no, a tsunami of ofuda, poured from each and every orb that had been left there, both the real orbs that were still flying and the fantastic orbs frozen in space. They were not fired as bullets, as before, but flew as if guided by a stiff, uncanny wind. It was as though burying the Flower Master in holy talismans was a certainty that required no particular effort to achieve.

"The world as Reimu sees it is quite different from your perspective. It feels like you have been sealed in the Reimu dimension." - The Hakurei Kannushi
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Re: [Ask First] Monkshood at the Shrine

Postby Yuuka Kazami » 01 Sep 2012 11:16

"She's broken," is all the monster wearing Kazami Yuuka's face whispers, her words leaving her lips in a blood-stringed snarl. What follows is a harsh, guttural laugh, each breathless gasp of hilarity having the unclean rasp of fleeing sanity in it, a celebration of madness. "I...I can taste it. I can taste her blood in the air. I can taste her pain, and her suffering. The Shrine Maiden is broken, and...and it will take only a little more to shatter her." She draws in a deep, shuddering breath, before laughing again. "I did not think it would...it would be this easy..."

Her laughter continues unabated, even as Reimu herself rises out of the ruins of her shrine - the shattered wreckage of what was once her home that Yuuka had unceremoniously smashed her into. She continues to laugh, even when her prey takes flight, even when she senses how their battlefield was now cut off from the rest of Gensokyo. Like some sort of gladiatorial arena from some bygone era, where death - absolute, final, and violent - was not simply a possibility, but an inevitability. A place where two souls must enter, and where only one soul will be able to leave relatively intact.

Wriggle's new ultimatum is all but unheard now - no, it does not look like as if the Flower Master had even heard her words, nor sensed her escaping from the monstrous venus flytrap she'd tossed the insect youkai into. No, Yuuka is too far gone for that - she does not even notice her death, the justice she deserves, having taken form of a veritable tidal wave of blessed, enchanted parchment. All the monster notices is that her victory is so close at hand that she can savor it trickling down her lips - like the black, clotted blood stringing her smile.

She growls a single word, and the world around her breaks apart in an explosion of murderous rage.

Reimu and Wriggle could not have been more correct in their assumptions that it is not Yuuka at all that they are fighting. No, the Flower Master of the Four Seasons had much more respect for life - at least, the sort of life that grew from Gensokyo's earth and sprouted flowers and fruits and leaves - and would certainly think twice before bending every single living plant, tree and sapling surrounding the Hakurei Shrine to her will. Brute-forcing into each and every cell of creation the same killing intent that blasted out of the youkai in choking, crushing waves. The same insane, maddened, roiling insanity that took hold of a gardener that simply wished to grow her flowers and be left well alone.

As the very ground underneath Yuuka crumbles - it's then that the Flower Master is borne up into the air by a pedestal made out of a perfectly-circular chunk of temple road tiling, carried by beastly vines erupting from the earth, each one as thick around as a giant stone pillar, each one riddled with half-grown sprouts, blossoming petals and barbed thorns. The earth itself seems to scream, to roar in protest, as more of these vines converge from every single corner of the Shrine, punching out of the ground or worming their way out through fresh, jagged fissures splitting open in what was once hallowed, sacred ground.

Converging upon Yuuka, twisting and braiding themselves around her in a protective cage. One vine in particular lifting her parasol to her trembling, palsied fingers - and it's with a shaking hand that she aims the unfolded umbrella directly at Reimu, like a sword. Like a weapon.

Blinding white fury sparking brightly at the tip. Gathering for one massive, ruining blast.

Curse you, Hakurei. Curse you. I have despised you ever since I laid eyes on you, ever since you shot me out of the sky, ever since you inflicted your presence upon me, ever since you sacked my home and garden. I hate you to my very core. I hate you more than the plague eating away at my mind, at the sickness consuming my very thoughts.

If you have any mercy left in your pitiful body, if you have any compassion left in your low-born, pathetic existence--


A sunflower petal, solitary, featherlike, brushes almost lovingly against Reimu's cheek.

--you will kill me like you had, a thousand times, in my dreams.

Please.


A wordless growl, and the rest of the world grows dark as the most ruinous spell that Yuuka could ever cast is unleashed.

A Master Spark powerful enough to kill an entire world.

And the one casting it.
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Re: [Ask First] Monkshood at the Shrine

Postby Wriggle Nightbug » 01 Sep 2012 17:13

Not a word from the Flower Master. Not one addressed at her, at least, but the senseless babbling of a maddened, bloodthirsty creature. Wherever Yuuka might be, for now, she was gone. There was no one to speak to here. No peace to be found today.

Only what peace she made herself.

The battlefield is no time for revelations: Wriggle quickly finds that her maneuvering has brought her directly in line with Reimu's seemingly endless barrage. Looking forward, towards whatever remained of Yuuka, she is almost blinded by the glare of the incoming spell. A Master Spark, far more powerful than the one before it, one that would obliterate anything in its path.

Like any fool might do, instead of leaving - if indeed there was even time for that - she crafts a shield for herself.

A shield is the simplest of all invocations for anyone with the slightest ounce of magic in them. Youkai, ghost, celestial, magician or oni, anyone could create one. Even her.

Already, hairline cracks creep all across its surface.

Positioned correctly - in front of her and behind her back, in this case - it will prevent any attack from reaching the caster, blocking any harm that might come flying her way.

Cracks become fissures and, in some places, holes, allowing deadly magic to flow through. She was never ready for spells of this magnitude.

Even a weak magician could, if they reacted in time, fuel the shield with enough magic to stop an avalanche of raw magic in its path, staving off all but the deadliest of spells, and with some skill, even those could be stopped.

The shield at her back shatters, and she is immediately struck with a thousand seals and needles, each one another piece of agony added to a growing, near-endless heap. Still she perseveres.

Strength of magic was not the only way. Where the mind failed, the body could step in. A portion of one's strength, a piece of one's life - though nothing so large as to cause permanent harm - could improve a barrier's resilience immeasurably, turning a weak defense into an indomitable bulwark.

Both shields are gone now, and the first instant of their absence is marked by burns spreading across her body from the blazing light ahead, the force of the incoming blast twisting her left shoulder completely out of place. Two weeks of recovery.

An oni would have little difficulty with this method. A great youkai, likewise. Or a powerful warrior, like the gatekeeper of a certain mansion. This would come naturally to any of them.

Blood flows from endless cuts and gashes now, but the fluid evaporates almost instantly, leaving nothing but a series of red stains on burned skin. Three months.

There were any number of others who could have done this, had they found themselves in her place. A pity, then, that she was none of those, but only Wriggle Nightbug, a lowly firefly. She is no mage or brute, neither hero nor legend. She takes a step forward, only propped up by the constant impact of the needles at the back to prevent Yuuka's spell from knocking her down. Seven months.

She was never meant for this. She should not be here. This was no place for her, an insect between titans. Only utter self-delusion could ever have convinced her that she could make a difference. And the firefly will not allow any of that to stop her; she could not stand idle and let Yuuka bring harm to Reimu or herself. This was the most natural thing in the world, to her.

She advances now, little by little, as the light brings, even more than the pain, the terrible thirst of one who has walked through a desert for days on end with no water in sight. Hair, skin and flesh alike is set alight by the unrelenting ray, and Wriggle watches pieces of herself fly behind her as ash, smoke and embers. Her right side is largely gone now, ribs and arm bones exposed in places.

Years, should she survive at all, and only with a youkai's health, even then.

You're going to live with it a lot longer than a human. Reimu's words from a few weeks past come to her unbidden, and what remains of her face is dragged into a wry smile at the irony of it. "We'll see," she mutters, her voice snatched away by the maelstrom of magic about her.

A moment later, the Flower Master sees something entirely different absorbing the full force of her spell. What stands there now is the same height as Wriggle, wearing the same clothes, sporting the same injuries, and yet it is something else entirely. A mantis's scythe blades replaced her arms, as before, with gleaming, bloodsoaked chitin in place of skin, a wasp's wings sprouting from her back, already too charred to be of any use. She retains a human's legs, surreal and out of place against the rest of her form, while an ant's mandibles have replaced her mouth, though her voice has not changed. She stares at the maddened flower-queen now with the many eyes of a fly, surrounded by an overwhelming emerald glow to match the Master Spark itself.

"No one home. No time for just another pathetic youkai." Somehow, her voice cuts through the din, through the blazing light, as she advances step by step. "I understand. You won't listen to anything but another monster, will you?" Her soft voice, distorted by the blood in her throat, stops momentarily as she coughs it out, only to rise to what is almost a roar.

"Here I am. I am the queen of the swarm. I am the heart of the night. I am the soul of the hive. I am the spider's bite and the scorpion's sting. I am the shepherd of locusts. Crush me and I will stand. Kill me and I will walk still. Burn me and I will bask in the fire. I am the midnight sun."

She quietens herself soon, resignation and determination mixing in her next words. "...And heaven help me, I won't rest until both of you are safe."

Soon, the Master Spark, bravado or not, will reduce her to so much ash and dust. Speed is her only weapon here, charging through the murderous light to reach the source before it can destroy her and its caster. One might think that she could simply move to the side, but there is no such choice. She would not allow it to pass her and strike Reimu. A single leap sends her flying forward, hurtling through the air as the spell burns away any remaining scrap of air in her lungs.

If nothing else, she still has the advantage of simple, effective surprise. The green-haired youkai has surely noticed her by now, but her past behaviour stands: She is, in the would-be killer's eyes, weak, harmless, utterly beneath her notice. A non-entity. Even if that were not the case, Wriggle has proven, time and again, that she would rather do anything than harm her.

Desperation brings a breaking point to everyone, sooner or later. There was no longer any other choice.

One might think an insect weak. Insignificant. Beneath notice. And yet, an ant's strength will carry far more than anything but an oni would dare to attempt. A flea's legs will allow it to leap an unparallelled distance, a speed that, at a human's size, is almost outmatched over such a small range. There was power enough, even in those who were trampled underfoot daily.

A physician's knowledge - albeit only enough to give some first aid - had taught her how to strike to incapacitate rather than harm. This would not harm Yuuka in more than the most temporary way. Hurtling towards the crimson-eyed killer, Wriggle prepares for a single strike that will, with any luck, incapacitate her target; should it fail, it will be far too late for anything more.

It only takes a moment for her to reach her mark. Only a short distance away, Wriggle twists herself in the air, positioning herself for the only strike she has the time to make, before bringing her right foot crashing into Yuuka's side.
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Re: [Ask First] Monkshood at the Shrine

Postby Reimu Hakurei » 01 Sep 2012 19:34

The air shifted in an instant, or so it felt from the shrine maiden's perspective. Hakurei Reimu heard no words - not at first, and none from the Flower Master. It was possible she'd just tuned her out at this point, knowing it was nothing but the babbling of a psychotic youkai. No, what gave Reimu pause as she flew in and out of pockets in her own barrier was something else, almost like a prayer, a desperate plea that touched her somewhere deep in her heart. The miko's blood chilled in her veins, and she paused her rampant, careless barrage.

---

"Sheesh, you're so noisy... Who are you...?" The owner of a mysterious and shady mansion ambled out at Reimu's presence - or more precisely, at the violent, tumultuous commotion she'd been making. There was a certain dignity in the way she'd carried herself, as though the world belonged to her. And, Reimu supposed, it did, being that this was her house, and the miko was here mostly out of a combination of childish obstinance and unnecessary concern.

"I'm Reimu, a shrine maiden! I've come to completely seal this mansion. You're the cause of all the fuss, right?" Of course, she had every right to be there, so far as she saw it; once again, her shrine had been overrun with loitering ne'er-do-wells, a pattern she had not yet gotten used to (but one she'd come to welcome, for the most part). Nobody else would deal with it for her, naturally; there was nobody else TO do it, aside from a certain unreliable witch. In truth, she was grateful even then for the opportunity to stretch her legs, so to speak.


---

Only because she fell from her danmaku haze did Reimu realize that Yuuka's parasol had been leveled at...everything. That was the only way she could explain it; as the magic built up in the elegant youkai's hands, in her parasol, in her entire body, the red-white knew. This was going to be immense, something that would devastate all of them, even (and perhaps especially) in her barrier. At best, the whole confined space would be filled with laser - the ground beneath them, the remains of the shrine, the vines, and all three of the girls there would be reduced to a cloud of atoms.

In a split second, the beaten, bleeding maiden froze completely, her orbs flying to her side and circling her, and yet...she couldn't bring herself to move. The sight before her was both odd and captivating, something she felt like she may only see once in her lifetime.

Wriggle, broken but standing, was still defiant. Wriggle, who she could barely make out through the needles and ofuda that had coated her body. The tiny youkai, the one that This Yuuka likely thought nothing of, stood in the way of the blast, letting only the errant beam of white death through. And even as she stood against an impossible current of pure energy, Wriggle became something else entirely, something that the maiden found almost...majestic, in a way. Something more than the skittery insect she'd come to know, something that would strike fear into the hearts of normal humans.

She was the ruler of all the small, insignificant things that humans shook aside, that they tread upon without a second thought. She was every laughing fly that buzzed around the room for hours and every beetle that you smashed and smashed and still couldn't quite finish off. To look upon her was to feel the cicadas' cry and to know the ants' strength.

She was also being rapidly dismembered by Yuuka's Master Spark.

---

"I'm the master of this mansion, Yuuka. Nice to meet you♥" Even then, Reimu could recognize easily the monster hiding behind the sickly-sweet smile this woman bore. Good. A mastermind without a smile like that was barely worth the exercise, let alone the exorcism.

"Too bad we part here, though." Even then, the Hakurei Shrine Maiden knew no fear, though her understanding of her title was shaky at best. The turtle under her feet quaked, as Genji often had when she would throw out such casual threats. He was such an old fuddy-duddy, no fun at all. Youkai extermination was just a game, after all.

"Don't think you'll have it easy because I just woke up♥" And even then, just like today, the woman's eyes flew open and glowed a vicious, terrifying red, a hue Reimu thought may swallow her up then and there. Yet, it was that feeling that awakened something in the shrine maiden, something pure and primal and honest. She loved these brilliant, deadly lights, these beautiful displays of power, the essence of humans and youkai burned into her eyes, into her memory. Maybe even burned all the way into her soul.


---

The maiden took flight once more, though it was not nearly so majestic as before and a good deal more...human. She was once again a broken girl that felt all too small for this sort of thing, now tumbling haphazardly through pseudo-gaps, acting purely on instinct with the few scant seconds the insect queen was buying her. What Wriggle was fighting for wasn't to defeat Yuuka, and though it hadn't clicked immediately, now Reimu Understood that. It wasn't something she wanted either, and damn it, it wasn't something she would accept. This was Gensokyo, her Gensokyo. This wasn't a place where she had to kill anyone anymore, least of all her friend. That was why they had rules, why she had MADE rules.

---

"Putting all the jokes aside...Not bad, making it all the way here."

At that moment, each of them Understood.

"To be honest, it was a piece of cake."

Through the colorful lights, through the hail of bullets...

"Well then, I guess I'll start being serious♥"

...in rampant, naked destruction, in unnatural ecstacy...

"That's the way it should be. It wouldn't be fun otherwise."

...they were the same. Friends, through a ritual of violence and beauty.


---

And the mighty Flower Master, as she was assaulted with all of the strength and courage and fear and love that the Midnight Sun could muster, fell just slightly to the side. It wouldn't have been enough, on its own. That was the limit that a youkai like Wriggle could achieve in a contest of sheer force. But it was enough. Enough to save Yuuka, or so Reimu hoped. At least, it was enough to propel the Beauty of Everlasting Darkness into something soft and, at least relative to her, small. Shattered, scorched arms wrapped around her midsection, and a pale cheek buried itself between her shoulderblades.

"Please, Yuuka...no more," the shrine maiden pleaded quietly, not even loud enough for her to hear herself over the hum of the laser. She could feel her other sleeve burning away on her arm; the heat of the Master Spark, even at this distance, seared her flesh to the bone. Tears soaked into the checkered red of Yuuka's vest, though they were no tears of pain. At least, not entirely. At the rate the spark was burning her arms, she barely felt it after a few seconds anyway.

"This isn't beautiful. This isn't fun. This isn't you, Yuuka. Please..."

---

Did you think that ignoring the events back then would bring everything back to normal?

Everything went back to normal when I defeated you, back then.
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Re: [Ask First] Monkshood at the Shrine

Postby Yuuka Kazami » 08 Sep 2012 07:56

Perception fades for Yuuka as it is wont to do in such circumstances. Time stops being continuous, no longer a broken line - rather, she perceives it as snatches of sensation, brief flashes of sight, sound, taste, touch, scent.

The searing, blinding corona of a newborn sun filling her vision as it is spat out of her rapidly-disintegrating parasol. Her Final Spark, destroying everything it touched--

--the insignificant Wriggle bearing down on her, screaming unheard words and epithets, her twisted form a mangled, charred wreck, yet giving the monster destroying her a show of complete and utter defiance in the face of disintegration--

--the smell and taste of her own blood, in her mouth, tainting every breath she took. Too rich, too clean. Heartsblood. She was dying. The cloying, biting cold creeping into every cell in her body as the spell continued to drain each atom of warmth from her was proof of that--

--the dim sensation of her ribs buckling from an impact to her side; then crunching as they finally snap like kindling. The pain is slight, a distant memory, and despite the damage caused it would not have been nearly enough to break the Flower Master's concentration. But Yuuka was not the one fighting now, it was something twisted, something evil, and something that had never felt pain before. She stumbles--

--bitter, all-consuming hatred, overwhelming anger, eclipsing all the pain, the hurt, the shame-

--"This isn't beautiful. This isn't fun. This isn't you, Yuuka. Please..."--

The monster closes her eyes.

Yuuka opens them again.

And she pulls the crying Shrine Maiden into her arms as everything explodes.

- -


The Flower Master tears herself away from her prison of tangled vines and barbed thorns, amidst the frustrated howling of the bloodthirsty youkai. Slowly, meanderingly, she slips out of her confines, paying no heed to the spikes tearing away at her clothes, at her flesh. When she is free, she is nothing but a ruined shadow of her previous self - scraps of crimson plaid and starched white cloth hanging on her bloodied frame, cuts and gouges furrowing into once-pristine, perfect flesh. Her umbrella is a cleaved, smoking ruin, a tangle of twisted spines and fused metal.

And yet, Kazami Yuuka had never looked more imperious as she stood in front of the raving, growling, hunched youkai clawing at the ground in front of her.

WHY. The filthy, green-haired beast howls, in confusion, in rage, in frustration, through gnashing teeth and blood-stringed lips. Two crimson eyes, blazing with fury, stares wildly from behind a matted mop of green hair. WHY DID SHE STOP. WHY DID SHE MEDDLE. THE MAIDEN SHOULD HAVE GIVEN YOU THE DEATH YOU SO DESERVED. THE MAIDEN SHOULD HAVE SET US FREE.

"Frustrating, isn't it?" The Flower Master murmurs after a moment, her smile curling her lips. Another moment, and she sighs, her shoulders shrugging. "I'm not going to even try and explain it; I am just as confused and as vexed as you are. It's maddening, isn't it? How you can't even trust someone like her to do what she's supposed to. What she was meant to do."

Another sigh leaves her lips, and it's a wistful one, this time. "There is really no accounting for taste, I suppose."

FOOLS. IDIOTS. NOTHING BUT CARRION--

The youkai's rabid howling is suddenly cut off by two hands suddenly clamping on her neck, and the filthy, demonic beast's eyes grow wide as it tries to draw breath that would not come. It trashes around, wildly, as it is lifted into the air, grubby fingers clawing at the vise-like grip slowly choking it.

"Now, now. I allowed you to go on this little charade, but that is no reason for such dreadful language." The Flower Master's voice is soft, polite, uncolored by the seeming effort of holding up the trashing, flailing creature with her own hands. "It certainly does not warrant such insults being lodged against those I seek to associate myself with. Pitiful, low-born and filth-ridden they may be, I will not let you harangue them in my presence."

THEY--GHGK--THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND--

"They don't." The Flower Master replies, nodding slightly. "And they never will. For this is the first - and last - time that they will suffer your presence." Her hands squeeze tighter, cinching in harder, and the youkai all but quakes in her grip, trying to fight for what precious few seconds of life it has left. "You had your chance. You chose to waste it by laughing and acting the fool." Blood starts to drip down, raking crimson lines down pristine skin, forming a puddle underneath the dying youkai. "You should have killed them when you had the chance."

YOU CANNOT--KILL ME--

"No. But I can certainly try."

There is a snapping, gurgling sound. Followed by a sick, wet crunch.

And then another sound, akin to wet meat slapping apart.

"Messy work." The Flower Master reaches up with a bloody hand to brush a few strands of verdant green hair from her eyes - staining her face with gore and crimson, as she stands in the middle of the organic wreckage that was once the youkai. She wipes her hands on her skirt after a while, before shaking her head. "Once again, you have disappointed me, Hakurei." An annoyed, exasperated huff. "Why do you do this to me? What am I supposed to do, now that you have given me practically no reason to hate you?"

The umbrella snaps to her outstretched hand, whole and new once more, just like her clothes.

"You're going to drive me crazy one day."

- -

The spell winks out of existence. Yuuka's concentration all but broken, it dies, stopped just before it could complete itself, before it could leech every molecule of life left in the one who cast the spell in the first. Leaving behind a ruined, scorched landscape - and an unconscious Flower Master - in its wake.

The maiden and the murderer fall from the sky, still in each other's arms. Plummeting towards the ground, motionless, seemingly uncaring of what awaits them at the end of their descent.

It is only then that a colossal plant bursts out from the ground underneath them, punching through the earth with no preamble whatsoever. Like a giant wurm about to swallow its prey, it opens its bulbous tip, vibrant leaves unfolding, followed by soft white petals still glistening with dew. The two women land right into the mouth of the giant flower, among the pillar-sized stamen, cushioned by the massive petals.

The gargantuan lily blossom dips down to the ground, settling there. Ironically enough, it is just in front of the ruined Hakurei Shrine that it rests.

And Kazami Yuuka opens her eyes blearily to frown at the broken Shrine Maiden in her arms. Frowning a bit more deeply as she sees the tracks of dried tears on Reimu's cheeks.

"I assure you this is unintentionally symbolic," The Flower Master of the Four Seasons murmurs hoarsely, before leaning forward and placing a soft, warm kiss on the Shrine Maiden's lips - just before she herself falls unconscious, again.
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Re: [Ask First] Monkshood at the Shrine

Postby Reimu Hakurei » 27 Oct 2012 05:47

The world around her lay in ruins, an oasis of scorched earth in a desert of trees. Reimu's head was swimming, nearly everynerve in her body screeching at her that this was the worst day she had ever had in a life quite full of broken bones and savage monsters. Her shrine lay in ruins, something that she dimly realized as she and Yuuka fell, something that even then sparked a tiny flash of anger, and yet somehow made her want to cry even harder.

Wriggle lay down below them, too, in...in worse shape than she'd ever seen a youkai. She wasn't sure the insect would ever be alright after a wound like that. Reimu would have to do everything she could to thank her for what she did here.

Yes, the world around her had returned to her, as her Duplex Barrier faded from existence. Everything was still, all of a sudden, no longer a blur of violence and anger and fear. Even the scent in her nostrils had changed in just a moment, from the sickly metal tinge of blood to...the sickly metal tinge of flowers soaked in blood.

It was still an improvement.

The maiden began to speak as she and the murderess landed. Every flower seemed to have some kind of meaning to Yuuka, but of course, just getting a straight answer out of her-

The bloodied miko made a tiny noise as the scent of flowers and blood was replaced with a brief moment of softness and a sweet taste, one that reminded her vaguely of honey, one that she would later suppose Wriggle was familiar with - it must have been what bees tasted when they visited flower fields. Everything in her mind froze as what blood she had left rushed to her face.

There was nothing straight about that answer! Nothing straight at all! Before she had even the time to protest - to react - to even process what had happened, Kazami Yuuka was nothing more than a heavy weight falling down onto her, sending her toppling off the lily with Yuuka in tow.

It was ironic that her own unconsciousness was not brought about so much by exhaustion or by combat as it was by her head hitting the ground in the wrong way as she tumbled. Or maybe her body simply seized that small opportunity, that tiny respite, to steal the rest it could, with the flower master laid out on top of her almost like a dreaming lover.

---

Slowly, Yuuka lifts her head and smiles at her executioner. Shakily staggering to her feet. Rain showering the blood from her face, salty on her lips, stinging her eyes. She wonders if the maiden sees her - sees her smiling, smiling the smile that she'd always worn.

Her fingers curling into claws, the Flower Master of the Four Seasons raises a hand towards Reimu Hakurei.

The girl that stands before her is no longer a savage warrior, born of anger and shining with justice, with a voice that is sharp like tinted glass. Instead, it is a young girl with an old face, one tainted with weight that nobody could know and years lived far earlier than they ought to have been. Tears drip from tired eyes onto bloodied cheeks, sparkling like the echoes of rain on the petals of a rose.

Wordlessly she drifts toward Yuuka, her delicate hands closing around the youkai's, and she smiles. Despite her weary features and the venomous words spat only moments ago, her smile is clean and bright, a smile that any sunflower would revere.

"You forgot, didn't you? ...Gensokyo...My Gensokyo...accepts everything."
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Re: [Ask First] Monkshood at the Shrine

Postby Wriggle Nightbug » 27 Oct 2012 12:25

With both the wounded - Wriggle did not, in defiance of all evidence, consider herself among them - having taken their leave of consciousness, the firefly slowly pries her broken body off the ground, blood leaking from a multitude of wounds, struggling to draw her next breath. Her ears hear little now, aside the cracking of broken bones and her miraculously still extant heartbeat.

It could have been worse, of course. Yuuka, at least, had the foresight to cauterize the better half of her wounds. It didn't make them much less deadly, admittedly, but at least this would inconvenience her less for the moment.

As she slowly staggers towards the edge of the petals, the realization comes to her, not for the first time today, that these wounds would kill a good number of youkai, perhaps even her. Her entire right side was largely gone, after all - perhaps including the face, but she had yet to check - enough to make her pointedly avoid looking into anything that might show her a reflection. Yes, this could well kill her.

If she had enough air left in her lungs for it, she would have laughed at such a suggestion. First, the wounded needed to be brought to safety. Tended to. The hive needed feeding, of course, preferably twice a day. She couldn't neglect her brews at the moment, and she had her weekly - well, they would have to be weekly at most until she recovered, at least - runs to the village. And... oh, yes, Star was coming over in two days, perhaps with a few other fairies besides. Not the best timing, but what could she do?

Die? Now? No, no, that wouldn't do at all. There was simply no time for it.

She looks down on the two at her feet, sleeping soundly. Alive, if not well. A job well done? No, not nearly well enough, but they had survived. Under the circumstances, it seemed a little naive to expect anything better of the day's events. Yes, this would have to do. She bends down to tear a few large strips off the colossal petals, using them as makeshift bandages to dress their injuries. Yuuka would have her head for this later, no doubt, but that too would have to wait.

With the most basic stage of first aid completed, she prepares for the long trek back to the forest of magic and, of course, her home. A long trek in her current state, at any rate. She slings the Flower Master across her good shoulder, before laying Reimu down, with no small amount of wincing, across her forearms - one charred, the other reduced to little more than bloodied bone with the odd bit of flesh clinging to it.

Just as well, she muses, that Reimu was no longer awake. Bare bone was no doubt uncomfortable, to say nothing of how unsettling her corpse-like appearance might be. And worse, she might insist on walking or flying there herself. Quite unacceptable in the shrine maiden's current condition. Yes, it was, without a doubt, better this way.

The walk to her house takes almost three hours, though fortunately, she reaches the door without being seen. The temptation to simply collapse on the spot, having reached safety, is almost overwhelming. Almost. Resisting it for the moment, she drags out a pair of mattresses and deposits her new patients onto them, then does what she can, under the circumstances; tinctures, disinfectant and fresh bandages, for the most part. While something more serious might be required (stitches, for instance), such things may well be best left for Eirin.

Speaking of which, fortunately, the house still contained some of the medicine she had bought from Reisen a good while ago. Some of it, at least, would numb the pain enough to keep her going for a little longer. There was work to be done, of course. Her own wounds are dealt with in a few minutes, albeit in a rather half-hearted manner. Enough to stop them from worsening and avoid staining the furniture. It would do for now.

She soon leaves the room, only to return roughly half an hour later with two plates, placing them on the table - much too large for one, but then, she was rarely alone in the house - in the middle of the living room. Rice and scrambled eggs, soon joined by chopsticks, glasses, a jug of cold water and a few pills, the last part split between two cups. With this done, she sets about scribbling a note in uncharacteristically (though few would blame her given the state of her hands) shaky handwriting.

---

Good morning. Or evening, if you end up sleeping a while longer; I think I might. With any luck, you'll be feeling a little better by now. I've brought both of you to my house to rest for the moment; feel free to stay for as long as you need.

I've left some food on the table, if ether of you think you can handle it. Make sure you at least drink either way, and take the medicine I put there. They should help with the pain, and a couple other things besides. If you think Eirin should handle this, I've written a note for her and left it with the beetle outside. Just take the blue cloth under this note, show it to him, and he'll deliver it.

Whatever you do, make sure you rest, and don't strain yourself. And yes, Yuuka, that means you too, even if you can walk this off faster than Reimu. The flowers will wait, look after yourself for now. I'll know if either of you decide to push yourselves again, believe me.

I think that's all for now. Wake me up if either of you need anything.


---

She places the note on the table, then drops right into a high-backed chair she had prepared earlier. No more than ten seconds later, Wriggle is fast asleep, looking as peaceful as a burned and half-skeletal firefly ever could, secure in the knowledge that she had done all that was possible.

It had been a long day, after all. She could use the rest, now.
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Re: [Ask First] Monkshood at the Shrine

Postby Yuuka Kazami » 03 Nov 2012 15:41

"Disgusting." Yuuka murmurs as she lets the hastily-written note drop back onto the table from her bandaged fingers, shaking her head in mild reproach at the thankfully-somnolent queen of insects. "Absolutely disgusting. Not even a pot of warm tea for your guests, Wriggle? Even Mizuhashi Parsee in her little dung-cavern is gracious enough to boil a clump of weeds at my arrival - and she's the unwashed cave-dweller, here. You have no excuse."

She tuts at the nearly-skeletal remains of the Midnight Sun weakly wheezing away on her chair, most of her body having been disintegrated by Yuuka's own version of a world-killing cantrip. "Oh, well, I suppose there's no accounting for good manners among such base, low-born youkai." A rustle of cloth as she slowly rolls up the ruined sleeve covering her right arm. Revealing more wounds, more injuries, more crusted blood underneath fresh dressing. "We will just have to make do."

A flick of her wrist, a small exertion of focus, and Wriggle's small kitchen comes to life, utensils, pots and pans quietly and carefully moving about, manipulated by unseen hands. A teapot finds itself sailing through the air, one moment empty and the next filled with crystal-clear water. Tea leaves hover about, as do the individually-wrapped cubes of sugar, the silverware, the ceramic. Flitting about in a graceful dance, puppets borne on invisible strings.

And all while Yuuka looked down at the Shrine Maiden she had failed to murder. Yet again.

She contemplates making another attempt, right here, right now. When the girl herself lay vulnerable in front of her, oblivious to everything. Her lips half-open as she breathed slow and deep, trapped in the healing embrace of slumber. It would only take a moment; her hand closing upon Reimu's neck. A squeeze, a neat twist. Death.

Yuuka banishes the thought almost as soon as it sprouts, instead lowering herself into a kneel beside Reimu's mattress, before carefully reaching out to gently brush a few strands of hair from the young woman's face.

She was a murderer. That much was obvious.

A thug, however, she was not.

The Flower Master of the Four Seasons had woken up only a few moments ago. A slight puzzlement clouding her senses as she rose slowly from the bed, the old aches and pains layered with a strange numbing sensation. She had started idly picking at her bandages when it all came rushing back to her - her trip to the Shrine. Her...momentary weakness. Her defeat. Wriggle. Reimu.

...Well, that at least explained the bandages. And the Shrine Maiden, snoring gently at her side. And the unfamiliar furnishings.

It felt oddly nostalgic. Waking up in strange places was something that had happened long ago, not so much now. The only difference now was that she did not wake up amongst the bodies of those she'd slaughtered the night before.

"Amazing." Yuuka murmurs, her voice not as quiet as before, but not as loud, either. "You actually resemble something of a proper Shrine Maiden when your mouth is unable to spew the garbage you usually vomit." Almost playfully, she traces the young woman's lips with her fingertips, finding them...well, much too soft, much too warm. "Perhaps if you kept your mouth shut more often, I would despise you much less."

This almost innocent molestation continues as the teapot begins to quietly whistle.
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Re: [Ask First] Monkshood at the Shrine

Postby Reimu Hakurei » 10 Nov 2012 11:57

Who knew how many thousand-year-old youkai had traced those lips, just like this? At least one, now. Probably two. Possibly three, if you counted evil spirits. It wasn't like Reimu knew, but the feeling, though odd, was somehow familiar. Familiar enough to cause no loss of rest. Or, perhaps, the poor human was simply exhausted, given how hard she had pushed herself just to keep up with Yuuka.

Given how much of her body now had a baconesque consistency, any rest she could get was probably a violent insistence on the part of her mind more than anything like a restful sleep. And still, there she lay, breathing softly, face free of worry.

A small trail of drool escaped the side of her mouth as her head shifted slightly, and with a small murmur, her body did the same, placing altogether too much weight on one of her arms. And with a graceless snork, she shifted violently to the other side, expecting the gentle caress of not laying on a heavy laser burn.

She was immediately disappointed.

After another quick toss and a half-asleep confirmation that yes, the first arm was still scorched beyond belief, Reimu's eyes shot open, quick to meet the eerie red gaze of the youkai staring down at her. And she stared back, feeling a little...awkward. Was Yuuka watching her sleep? That was...a little odd.

It took her all-too-long to look anywhere else. The two had shared something strange, again...though Reimu could barely remember it through the white-hot pain and the anger and the worry (that were also white-hot). "Are we...at Wriggle's?" And true to form, a half-moment later: "Is that breakfast?" With a gentle wince she pushed herself up onto her rear, a small twang of regret surfacing in the back of her mind as she licked her lips.

They were tingling a little. They felt warm...it was nice. ...A little too nice. A little too strange. She avoided even risking another glance at the flower youkai, eyes shooting instead to the delicious-smelling breakfast left out for them, then to the delicious-smelling crispy halfbug resting in a chair.

Delicious-smelling...maybe she spent too much time with youkai, after all. "...Ah, she looks like she's okay, probably." Her medical expertise was second to none, of course. Look at all those bones that were still very clearly there.
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