The Hakurei Shrine was rife with impetuous activity from the many citizens of Gensokyo, all joined together in celebration of the debacle surrounding the inhabitants of hell being quashed.
A tenebrous evening had settled upon the land as the commemorations continued well into the night.
Both new and old denizens were mingling, melding into each others presence as was the subconscious idea of these post battle get-togethers.
The multitude of conversations was floating along with a range of entertainment ongoing, courtesy of Kokoro's rakugo performance with a guest from the Outside World. Raiko and the rest of the musically inclined individuals of Gensokyo were fuelling the ambiance with their talents so all in all, it was a normal night in the illusionary land.
Reimu, on the other hand, was not in any form of joviality.
"I'm getting too old for this" she complained in a desultory manner whilst resting her head on Alice's lap, "And still too sober".
"Seems like Reimu's wisdom is settling in considering she is not inebriated despite a party going on".
The priestess shot Sakuya a half hearted glare, "Trust me, it isn't that. It's all of these damn incidents. This one takes the absolute pi-".
"Language, sweetheart" Alice chuckled and brushed back a few of the brunette strands on her lover's forehead.
She relented to Alice's request, "Sorry, this one takes the absolute cake" Reimu rectified, "I'm not about the whole being possessed business. I can still hear the wolf at times".
"Not to worry, Reimu. The sensation will fade soon. We do thank you for your hospitality" Keiki offered with a wry smile, "Gensokyo truly is an extraordinary location, surely you can understand the underground's fascination with it".
"It is what lured us all here" Alice added in a bid to quell the almost permanent frown between Reimu's eyes, "I can vouch for that".
The gentleness in the coruscating blue eyes staring down at her made Reimu's form halt in its entirety, wondering what would have happened if Alice had never moved to Gensokyo.
She was engulfed with a brief sensation of emptiness at the simulation going on in her mind.
Alice's fingertips aired over her cheeks as she smiled down at her, bringing Reimu back as the glare from the moon behind them highlighted the magician's angelic silhouette.
She couldn't refute Keiki's statement without shooting down Alice's so Reimu ended up grumbling in agreement, much to the humour of her guests.
"I can remember when Reimu would have argued that till she was blue in the face" Remilia laughed, "My, how times have changed".
"Shut it you" Reimu warned the vampire whom was lounging against Sakuya.
"I'm only saying the truth" she said before turning her gaze on Keiki, "Little Reimu was far more feisty than this".
"It may have had more to do with Remilia's personality" Alice stated, "You too, were quite difficult when you arrived in Gensokyo and created many problems for Reimu".
Reimu grinned at that and squeezed Alice's hand that was resting on her stomach, "That's my girl".
The blonde smiled at her lover's smug countenance and Remilia's unamused one whilst waiting for Sakuya to interject on Remilia's behalf.
"Alice is correct I must say".
Keiki muffled her own chortle whilst sipping her sake and observing them.
The maid merely provided her haunting smile at the vampire, "It isn't a negative trait, Mistress. We have all adapted and changed under Gensokyo's existence, just like Reimu has and we know the same will occur with those we've encountered" she finished whilst glancing at Keiki.
"I'm not opposed to it, Reimu. I like it here and despite my initial goal, I am happy that you intervened" the goddess said in an earnest tone, "No hard feelings?".
Reimu, apprehensive as always, eyed the woman precariously before sighing, "Don't worry about it. Just no more schemes".
Keiki bowed in her seated position, "You have my word".
"That being said, it seems like our biggest trouble maker has yet to show her face" Alice noted.
"Knowing her, she's probably staring down at us on some hill and doing a monologue about how great she is" Reimu smirked to herself, "With Eirin obviously".
"Ah, is that this Yakumo I have heard of? And the lunar goddess?".
Remilia nodded whilst shifting against Sakuya's shoulder, "Until you've been bothered by her, you won't truly feel at ease here".
Keiki wasn't sure what to make of this, her face contorted in curiosity which Reimu noticed.
"She isn't that bad, Remilia. Yukari is annoying as every single hell to exist but Gensokyo wouldn't be here without her".
"Not to mention she is a lot less incorrigible given Eirin's presence".
"Who'd have thought that such a thing could calm Yukari down" Reimu wondered at Alice's statement as her eyes became heavy under the blonde's comforting touch.
"You mean like Alice has done to you?".
With a red eye opening, Reimu frowned at Remilia's complacent face, "You're just asking to be exterminated tonight" she retorted in a fulsome tone.
Keiki merely watched on with merriment as Alice and Sakuya offered her a wary smile with their expressions, one of apology yet understanding since this was the embodiment of Gensokyo in a nutshell.
Enemies reaching an obscure understanding to become friends and in some cases, something more.
A rapturous applause turned the groups attention to the stage where Kokoro and her guest had finished performing their noh production.
Flandre had quickly bound up and engulfed Kokoro in an embrace, lifting the woman up, "You did a great job, Kokoro! You were both amazing!".
Kokoro clung onto her lover's shoulders, am elated smile on her lips when Flandre put her down. The blonde's scarlet eyes were glowing in an alluring way to a point where she found herself getting lost in their lure, foregoing her surroundings.
That was until she realised a few whistles had cut through the air, along with a chuckle coming from her side.
"Thank you, Flandre" she mumbled beneath her blush, "We are glad you enjoyed it".
The guest performer grinned at the couple, "Performing rakugo with a pro, I'm living the dream. Though I still think I am asleep" she answered after a yawn, "I'm seeing way too many wings and ridiculously tall women to be awake in Tokyo".
Flandre chuckled, "Ah I get it" before giving a knowing glance to her lover, "Well, the night is still young so enjoy yourself!".
"Yes, we can continue with another play after a break?" Kokoro asked hopefully.
"I would love to".
Kokoro was ecstatic as the woman waved back whilst walking towards a napping Sanae and a few of the lunar rabbits she was curled up around, "Seems like a good place to sleep" she deduced, "Strangest but best dream world ever".
The two on stage shared a laugh before Flandre led Kokoro back to where Byakuren was seated with Kanako.
Okina and Yuyuko were there with them and the blonde voiced out something most of them had in mind.
"Say, doesn't she have a striking resemblance to you, Yuyuko?".
"That has come to my attention" Yuyuko agreed and eyed up her doppelganger with a perspicacious glance, "I believe we also have the same name".
"Seriously?" Flandre questioned.
"Indeed, her name is Tanaka Yuyuko. She's a renowned rakugo performer from Tokyo in the Outside World".
"Yukari just happened to borrow her for the night" the priestess added to Yuyuko's statement, "Though she really should refrain from making this a frequent occurrence".
"I need to thank her again".
Flandre looked at Kokoro whom was all smiles and she too would have to thank the meddling youkai for making her lover's night.
"Welcome to Gensokyo" Kanako laughed, "A land where bizarre is an understatement and spiriting humans away is the norm" she included beneath her breath, earning a chuckle from Byakuren whom was resting against her chest.
"The population is increasing, isn't it?" Okina mused, "Word has spread to every side of the globe".
"That isn't a negative thing" Kanako replied after sipping her sake, "The more here, the better it is in the long run of ensuring Gensokyo's longevity".
"I can't deny that, though one has to wonder about what Yukari has in mind in terms of expansion".
"Do you believe it has come to it?" Yuyuko asked, tilting her head up closer to Okina's neck from where she was nestled on her lap.
Her arms were woven around the goddess’s neck, keeping the vicinity between them a minimum as she revelled in the other woman's firm form.
It was a thought which had certainly drifted from one higher power to the other in Gensokyo.
Whether the current land could maintain the inexorably rising population from both humans and youkai.
"It's a possibility considering the number of new groups that join us now" Okina answered and ran her fingers over Yuyuko's hip soothingly, "But that'll be a discussion with Yukari and Kasen for another time. Tonight, we celebrate and drink".
"Which is just another day for you" Kanako quipped.
Okina returned the smirk, "You mean like yourself, much to Byakuren's dismay".
"I can't say I will ever yield to the temptations of alcohol, however, I do not mind others enjoying it" the priestess voiced whilst angling her head slightly to see Kanako's deep crimson eyes, "This one surprisingly has built up quite a tolerance away from drunken disasters".
"A surprise? Really? You are taking me for a novice drinker and I don't know how to feel about that".
The barely visible pout on Kanako's mouth was far too endearing, making Byakuren giggle before placing a chaste kiss against her lover's alcohol tainted lips.
It was enough to alleviate Kanako's ruffled feathers as Byakuren pulled away to see the additional blush on the other woman's face, more so when she noticed Byakuren tasting the remnants of the alcohol on her own lips.
"I'm sure this is exactly how the urge to drink begins" Yuyuko grinned beneath her sleeve when their friends snapped out of their amorous haze, "Doesn't it taste far more sweeter on the lips of the woman you love?".
"I second that" Flandre agreed as Kokoro was doing everything she could to remain stoic, though these days it was certainly more difficult to do so.
Playing hostess, Okina refilled their empty dishes as the talk of their drinking had ignited another round of a celebratory toast.
Despite Gensokyo's fragile balance between species, rivalries and relationships, the underlying seed of mutuality was ever present.
A blooming land which boasted the title of being home for whomever sought it, with intent or by a fugacious accident
This thought was the point of discussion for the two individuals on the roof of the shrine.
Saki was surveying the rambunctious energy of those below her with mild amusement, pondering the strange yet enchanting lull Gensokyo provided.
Her companion was doing the same, albeit with a more disconcerting motive which Saki had already figured out.
"Whatever or whoever you're planning on messing with, I probably wouldn't do it. Dealing with Reimu was difficult the first time round" Saki noted as she placed her hands behind her on the roof, "Who would have thought a human could wield that much strength".
"You sound like it's the best fight you have ever had".
Saki grinned, "You mean other than the fights I have with you?".
"Obviously" the blonde sighed, "Unless you're getting bored of this little thing between us?".
"Far from it so you don't have to worry about being replaced".
Yachie elbowed Saki's side "I wasn't worrying! Besides, it isn't like we're short of people to use for our own gains. They could be useful".
She eyed up the numerous groups scattered around, fascinated with the array of beings present in a Shinto shrine.
Considering how Reimu herself appeared, Yachie wasn't entirely surprised by how laid back things were above ground. It definitely opened up her contacts into acquiring what she required. But Saki wasn't responding to her proposal of utilising this goldmine of a land.
"Hey, where did you go?".
Saki smiled at the peering orange eyes trained on her, "Still here. I don't think we have to do anything for a while. If we cause trouble, one, we'd have to deal with Reimu and the others. Two..".
"Apparently there is a sage even more dangerous than Reimu so we have to be careful" she revealed.
"I'm sure we could take her" Yachie said and whipped her tail with a tad more ferocity than intended which almost knocked off Saki's hat.
She grabbed the sides and gave her companion a levelling look, "Calm down. Sometimes you're worse than me when it comes to fights".
The blonde scoffed, her fulcrum response following the sound, "Not shocking considering our own history. You are the fuel to the fire in me, Saki" she mocked whilst batting her lashes at the woman next to her.
Saki merely rolled her eyes at Yachie's antics before focusing on Urumi, Nemuno and Aya in deep discussion. The reporter had made herself prevalent after the incident ended so seeing her there seemed befitting.
"That aside, make sure you do not start anything. I think being here might help us".
Saki mulled over her answer all the while scanning the crowd.
She'd noticed some notable figures lounging around and the differing levels of strength between them yet, there appeared to be little friction. Gensokyo lacked the usual sententious air she'd associated with many species but here, the haughty attitudes were non-existent.
Just watching the interaction reinstated those thoughts.
Miko, a devout Taoist, mere centimetres away from a Buddhist priestess.
A vampire and a human in close cohorts.
The priestess of a Shinto shrine cuddled up with a magician youkai.
A Lunar princess with a celestial, a lunar rabbit with another and what appeared to be a half hakutaku with Kaguya.
"You'll see" Saki replied ominously which didn't bode well with the blonde.
"That sounds like a threat you know" Yachie refuted with a raise of a brow before a chill made her shudder.
"You're reading way too much into it, Yachie" Saki chuckled, noticing the blonde squirm around, "I think we will be fine here, at least for now so let's not bring our war into this".
She instinctively wrapped one of her wings behind Yachie to keep out the blast of cold air surrounding them. The lustrous feathers brushed over the blondes shoulder, pressing against her arm which provided instant warmth.
Mumbling her thanks, Yachie averted her eyes slightly before moving closer to her counterpart.
She knew Saki was right in her observations as she too had picked up the uniqueness of Gensokyo.
It would be a waste to start a fray so soon before getting a chance to immerse themselves into the culture here, along with its aggregation of unique characters.
Perhaps the need to take over could be quelled by the desire to simply settle.
The feeling of settlement was prominent for the next group of Gensokyo's past adversaries.
Keine was mortified by the ongoing events, "I hope Eirin is near by, though I am sure she is tired of patching people up given the recent incident".
Yorihime agreed, "My bet is on Tenshi ending up with a bullet in her head".
"Wouldn't she just enjoy that?".
"Now now, Kaguya, bullet play is something she isn't into so let's refrain from stirring the rumour mill".
"I can't believe that that is your concern, sis".
Toyohime wasn't phased at all by the sight of her lover with a peach resting on her head and Reisen stood on the opposite side, fingers aiming precariously at the peach.
Both women were drunk so even missing an inch off the target would not end well.
"You could stop Reisen and she would listen" Toyohime answered and bit into a peach, "But you just won't admit that you are curious to see whether she can pull this off or not".
Kaguya snorted, "Morbid curiosity at its finest. Yorihime hasn't changed a bit".
The youngest princess was lounging next to the teacher, her arms slung down the woman's chest as Kaguya was kneeled behind her. She poked Yorihime to accentuate her taunt much to the annoyance of the other lunarian.
"That isn't the point".
"Indeed, Kaguya, please don't encourage this" Keine added as Reisen grinned.
"Tenshi, are you r-ready?!".
"Bring it, fluffy!" Tenshi hollered back, "Let's see you lousy lunarians lose as usual".
"Uh, excuse you, you're sleeping with one of my masters who happens to be a lunarian!".
The celestial blinked rapidly for a few seconds before erupting into laughter, "Oh, right".
"Also, if Reisen fails, you get shot in the head" Yorihime voiced out to the others that could hear her.
She was shaking her head and drank her sake swiftly to dull the drunken stupidity around her.
"Don't worry, she won't die" Kaguya not so helpfully stated, earning a grumble from Yorihime.
"I blame Reisen's folly into the hedonistic lifestyle on you, Kaguya".
Keine concealed a light laugh at the feign indignation being sent to Yorihime's way from Kaguya, "Me? I'm innocent!".
"Right, you're the poster girl for innocence" Toyohime winked, "But you know, I am glad Reisen is relaxing. She has been working hard, has been for a long time so it's fine for her to be self-indulgent now and then".
Yorihime couldn't deny that as she watched Reisen do the best she could to focus herself considering her inebriated state. She had transformed into a completely different woman after her departure to earth and it was evident in everything she did.
Gensokyo's unusual yet charming attributes clearly had an effect on her, on them all.
Yorihime herself had noticed the changes whenever they visited, how her rigid aura reduced and tranquility took over.
So she allowed her worry to dissipate temporarily as her lover procured a shot of danmaku, the tip of her fingernail igniting to red.
"Here they go.." Toyohime commentated as the surrounding lively crowd cheered them on.
She did hope if Tenshi was to become inflicted with an injury, it wouldn't be too severe so Keine's statement of Eirin needing to be local came back. But she had an inkling that that would have been the case anyway and Yukari would most likely be right there with her.
In a passing of a heartbeat, Reisen unleashed the single danmaku.
Yorihime was up on her feet as Reisen and Tenshi's victory cheer permeated the air.
The bullet had easily sunk into the fruit, a clear hole notable as it toppled to the ground.
"Nailed it!" Tenshi laughed as they high fived each other, the crowd around them going wild.
They then hobbled over to their respective partners, Tenshi practically diving onto Toyohime and knocking her back against the blanket whilst Reisen jumped in mid air and was caught in an embrace by Yorihime.
She was instantly scolded but it was easy to tell Yorihime's words were more out of concern as opposed to annoyance, something Reisen knew since she had a serene smile forming on her lips when she cuddled against Yorihime to assuage her.
The celestial too had a few words of caution from the blonde below her with Toyohime's hand twirling in the blue locks. Tenshi was less coherent than Reisen was so it went over her head as she plopped down against her lover with a childish giggle.
Kaguya felt the relief flood Keine's system and tightened her hold around her, "See, Keine, nobody got hurt".
"Perhaps not this time" she stated as Tenshi was in her own world snuggling against the older lunarian, "Sensibility goes a long way here in Gensokyo".
"Somebody should tell Seiga that" Reisen grinned whilst pointing at the hermit's direction, her words slightly slurred, "J-junko looks murderous".
Reisen was being fully held up by Yorihime who gently lowered them to the ground, facing the way to look at what the others were now enjoying a laugh at.
The divine spirit towered over Seiga with an expression that warned her how excruciating her death would be should she go near one of the new arrivals.
Narumi was keeping Eika occupied as Junko continued to admonish the wicked hermit until Kasen intervened and ensured Seiga wouldn't dare to act on her impulses.
But if there was one thing Gensokyo knew about Seiga, she rarely ever heeded to the threats.
"I think we are still going to need Eirin here it seems" Kaguya chuckled.
Meanwhile, on the outskirts near the Hakurei Shrine.
"What are you grinning at?".
Yukari's eyes remained on the active location, watching people come and go as the party started to pick up.
The rich voice from behind her lulled around her form as she adjusted the red bow on her neck knowing that it would be in vain. Eirin had left her marks prevalent enough that anyone could see it but Yukari certainly wasn't concerned about that.
Not needing to see her lover's face, Eirin had become inured to the blonde's body language well enough to know that her signature smirk was indeed plastered on her radiant countenance.
"Apparently, you and I are engaged in a long winding monologue regarding our home" she replied with a canorous lilt in her seductive tone, "Isn't that endearing".
Eirin could only scoff playfully whilst adjusting her hair back into its place, somewhat grateful she had opted to style it in a high ponytail. Yukari had made swift work undoing the silver locks the moment they left their home and appeared at the hills.
Yukari's voracious appetite hadn't diminished, not that the goddess had any complaints.
Eirin made her way to where the youkai was stood at the edge of the cliff, lowering her face slightly to kiss the back of Yukari's exposed neck. With her blonde tresses in a bun, the simmering action was smooth to carry out and Eirin relished in the way she could see the shiver emit from Yukari's skin.
"We were engaged in something since a certain woman cannot keep her hands to herself" she teased as Yukari turned to face her, "I think everyone has an inkling as to what happens when you are late now".
"Well, at least they can't complain about me oversleeping" the youkai joked.
Her gloved fingers made work of buttoning up Eirin's dress, fixing her collar and making her appear a tad more presentable.
"I suppose not..".
Eirin watched with warm eyes at the fingers making deft work of restoring her state of partial undress, the care in the action palpable. She couldn't help but to wind her arms around Yukari's waist just for the contact and Eirin knew she was just as bad when it came to distancing herself from her secretive lover.
She was curious as to what the youkai made of the recent encounter and the range of individuals it had brought along. This was the first time she was meeting them cordially though the lunarian knew Yukari had already dished out her introduction to the newcomers without needing to have met them at all.
Word spread fast of the sage who had Gensokyo by the reigns.
The incidents ringleader seemed sensible enough, which Eirin hoped for considering what her ability consisted of so the threat to Gensokyo had been nullified.
Yukari's fingers brushed the curve of Eirin's jaw, retrieving her lover from her reverie.
"Seems like there is an internal monologue going on so Reimu wasn't completely wrong" she chuckled as Eirin collected her thoughts and glanced down at the hazy violet eyes she adored.
"That is constant for us to be fair" she tried to justify her spacing, "Considering the influx of the incidents which are accruing. Well, the none orchestrated ones".
"Are you worried, Eirin?" Yukari questioned, half teasing whilst bringing her arms behind the goddess's neck, "There is always some unrest after any incident".
Eirin smiled, "Yes I remember quite well. In terms of being concerned..I won't deny that I am not wary of the goddess and her feuding cohorts".
"Believe me, darling, it is all a ruse to a certain extent for the latter. As for Haniyasushin, we will simply have to keep an eye on her".
"Oh, just the one eye you say?" Eirin replied, amused at the curtain of eyes that had opened behind her lover.
The gap was widening, overlooking the entirety of the shrine, reminding her of the force Yukari was and held in the palm of her hands. Her equivocal and reticent personality paved the way for Yukari to be an entity to be reckoned with.
It was true, nothing evaded the youkai.
There wasn't an impending threat that the youkai couldn't dismantle and it was something she knew from experience.
Gensokyo was Yukari's stage.
The entirety of it composed, arranged and directed by her for the duration of its existence, birthed by the sage herself.
If there was a factor to be outright concerned about, then Yukari would share it with Eirin without a second thought.
So the nonplussed smile which morphed into one only reserved for Eirin made itself present, soothing the goddess instantaneously.
It was one which conveyed unadulterated warmth wrapped around a bud of adoration, neatly tied with Yukari's tell tale smirk which Eirin loved.
"I only ever need one to keep an eye on the events of Gensokyo".
A textured laugh rose from Eirin's chest and Yukari could feel it melding with her own, "And the rest, Yukari?".
Pretending to mull it over, the blonde tipped her head to the side slightly before reaching up to Eirin's face so that she could capture her lips.
"They prefer to be on you" she whispered against the mouth she didn't want to part from.
She felt Eirin smile against her lips as they continued the chaste yet passionate profession between them. Before it could escalate, Eirin halted the wondering fingers caressing the curve of her neck, letting her teeth release Yukari's lips.
"I believe that, and no, it isn't necessarily a good thing since it allows you to become lax and distracted" she chided, "Shall we go? I could do without Kaguya and Toyohime's guessing game regarding us and why we are late tonight ".
"It's fine, they seem fixated on watching Junko reign in Seiga for some reason" the blonde laughed knowingly at the hermit's unhealthy fixation on Eika.
Eirin could only shake her head at the disaster waiting to implode as she took Yukari's hand and made their way to the gap.
"I reinstate my many observations of you thriving off of carnage".
Yukari said nothing, though her enticing expression revealed all as she pressed against the taller woman innocuously.
"Just like Gensokyo does".
The late autumn night sky was littered with starlight as the moon enveloped it all in the elegant manner that the satellite was.
Gensokyo's end may be inevitable but under Yukari's guidance, the moment for that wasn't going to happen anytime soon.
With the influx of energy and belief stemming back into the supernatural, legends and folklore, it would be enough to sustain the Illusionary Land long enough to take back what was once eradicated by logic.
Every incident was a new chapter added to the fruitful history of a mythical location bound by magic and rationality, a paradox like no other.