Chapter 1: Day 1: Awakening
~A Fresh new Day to be Happy and Gay~
"Aaauuuun..." Aunn's yawn sounded much like her name as she sat up and stretched, curly green hair flowing down over her tummy. "Good morning, world!"
It was cosy in the nest of mismatched pillows and colourful quilts, and the still-slumbering Mike was a warm presence beside her. Aunn leaned over, brushed a strand of white hair off Mike's face and kissed her soft, pale cheek.
Mike's nose twitched. She groaned softly, blinked herself awake and shut her eyes again. "What time is it?" she mumbled, her voice strained and weary.
"Just gone..." Aunn yawned again. "Sunrise," she finished, sliding out of the covers and standing up. The tatami mats were rough under her feet. "What's for breakfast?"
"Too early..." Mike arched her back, stretching her arms over the pillows. Her arm hair was thin and patchy, but Aunn could see bands of white, orange and dark red stretching down from her shoulder to curl past her elbow.
"I'll make breakfast, then. How about that?" Aunn retrieved her baggy shirt from Mike's dresser and pulled it on. "D'you want eggs and bacon or bacon and eggs?"
"Both, please," drowsed Mike.
Rolling her eyes, Aunn slid her shorts up over her plump thighs and padded into the kitchen. "I'll surprise you! Don't sleep too long, though, or I might eat it all...!"
Mike stayed silent for a few seconds, then she sat bolt upright in a flurry of blankets. "Aunn, don't touch the cooker!" she screamed. "They haven't come round to fix the gas yet! It might explode if you-"
Chapter 2: Day 2: Ashes
~A New Flaming Temple~
"There's just one thing I'm missing," said Seiga, regarding Kasen and Miko with cool indifference. "What part of this is my problem?"
"Well...!" Fuming, Kasen gestured to the blackened ruins of the Myouren Temple, which were still breathing wisps of smoke into the foggy air. "The part where all that happened in the middle of the night?!"
Seiga scoffed, smirking an infuriating smirk. "Oh... That. Surely you can't think I was responsible, Kasen?! It was Futo! That chick sets temples on fire to the beat of her own drum- Yeee!"
Miko grabbed Seiga's shoulders, making her flinch. "Don't you dare try and pin this on Futo, you wicked hermit!" she spat. "Futo was in the garage fixing her shopping trolley all night! No, it could only have been you."
"...Oh, dear." Seiga laughed condescendingly, almost hiding the worry in her eyes. "Don't you remember? She who shouts first has lost the argument! Do try and find a little evidence next time, Miko-"
"FURTHERMORE, Yoshika told me you bought a bucket of lamp oil and fifteen extra-long matches yesterday," Miko cut in. "She also saw you setting the temple on fire."
Seiga said nothing, her expression turning from derision to horror. "Well," she finally whimpered, "I thought it would be a nice surprise, removing some of our rivals from the scene! Less competition for worshippers and donations, fewer glory hounds trying to resolve Incidents before we do... You should be thanking me, Miko- LOOK OVER THERE!"
Seiga spun out of Miko's grasp and made a run for it, but Kasen moved like lightning, interceding with a bandaged fist. Seiga fell like a sack of potatoes with stars in her eyes, mud and grass stains on her dress.
Miko clapped her hands. "Good one, Kasen! We should have you round more often."
"Having fun?" Tojiko was wheeling over in a silvery metal shopping trolley pushed by Futo. Apart from a squeaky wheel it was as good as new, ploughing laboriously across the damp grass like a fork scraping a cheesecake.
"Have to fit it with... Caterpillar tracks..." groaned Futo, pushing very hard with her cloth boots sliding.
"Oh, brilliant timing!" said Miko, patting the vehicle's metal side. "We need the trolley for cement and packed lunches. To help with rebuilding."
Seiga angrily regained consciousness. "You're going to REBUILD their TEMPLE?! Why?!"
Miko glared down at her. "For starters, because Byakuren would do the same for us. For continuers, helping people in need is what we do. For furthermorers, you’re one of us, which makes your nonsense our responsibility. And for finishers, how do you want the wider world to feel about Taoism, exactly?!"
Seiga stared in open-mouthed dismay for a few seconds, then she put her head in her hands. "If you're in your late six hundreds and your circle isn't discussing vengeance, cruelty, selfishness, sadism and how to take advantage of your rivals' every misfortune, get a different circle."
Chapter 3: Day 3: Sport
The Outside World’s most popular sport has gained a sizeable following in Gensokyo...
~Princess of Hopscotch~
The second annual Northern Youkai Village hopscotch tournament had begun. First to approach the flowery chalk grid was Tokiko of Team Clumpy Boots, giving the photographers a cheery wave before she readied the small grey hopscotch stone.
"This one's for all my youkai sisters out there who love books and don't like being told they have a 'lot in life'!" Tokiko yelled, whirling her arm around in a blur. She hurled the stone down the grid and watched it clatter onto square six.
Scowling in concentration, Tokiko hopped and scotched her way down the court and picked up the stone. The crowd went quiet. Tokiko stood there for a moment, straddling squares five and six, and jumped.
Tokiko spun through the air and landed right back on the squares, facing towards the start. Smiling, she scotched and hopped her way back. A cheer rose from the thousands-strong crowd on the hillside. Tokiko whooped with joy, jumping around like a triumphant sportswoman.
"Tokiko Jiyuta of Team Clumpy Boots, six points! Congratulations, please stop milking the moment and return to your team." Eiki, the referree, shouted through her megaphone. "Team Massive Ribbons, call your first player!"
After some conversation, Cirno stepped towards the field and caught the stone Tokiko threw her. Poking her tongue out in concentration, she took aim at square nine and threw.
The stone slid onto square ten. The crowd went wild but Cirno stomped her feet in anger, furious to have missed her favourite number. After a few moments she began, still pouting a little, to hop down the grid.
"One for sorrow, two for joy," she chanted, skipping with wobbly agility. "Three for a girl and four for a boy. Five for bloomers, six for a sarashi, seven for kimi and eight for watashi. Nine for love, ten for whatever, eleven for strawberries and twelve for forever- What? What's wrong?!"
The crowd were groaning in sympathy and derision. Cirno looked down and realised she'd hopped clean off the end of the scotch.
"Cirno doesn't-have-a-surname of Team Massive Ribbons, I'm afraid you have stepped outside the court, which means your attempt is disqualified!" declared Eiki. "Please return to your team. Reimu, I'm watching you, do not beat the fairy up over a simple mistake!"
Reimu scowled. "This game's no fun..."
Chapter 4: Day 4: Friends Old and New
~Mentors' Tea Time~
"Tell me," Mima said one afternoon over wine and platters of cake, "what are you most proud of your shrine maiden for?"
"That's an unusual question." Misumaru mulled it over while she chewed a yin-yang-shaped chocolate and vanilla bun. "Reimu definitely has made her mark on history over the years, but what's most impressive has to be defeating the Lunarian forces."
"Really? That's more impressive than getting Marisa for a girlfriend?" smirked Mima.
"I don't mean any disrespect," said Misumaru severely, "but Marisa would go out with any woman who asked nicely. No, taking on Sagume, Junko, Doremy and even Hecatia has to be her best accomplishment."
Mima took a sip of wine. "I see. But I didn't ask you what Reimu's best accomplishment was, did I? I asked what made you most proud of her."
"Proud..." Misumaru's brow furrowed. "I'm not the sort of person who needs to be proud of her. She isn't 'my' shrine maiden; I was never there while she grew up." Her expression softened. "Come to think of it, she's done a lot, incredible things, with only a turtle for a mentor. How much Reimu has grown, all she's accomplished... I think I'm proud of her for all of that."
Mima smiled. "No need to pick and choose when you put it like that!" They drank and ate cake until they were completely stuffed, then Misumaru broke the silence. "I wonder, Mima, for what are you most proud of your own protege?"
"Aside from winning Reimu's stony heart?" Mima's eyes twinkled. "Honestly, much the same. She's gone further than any human, mostly thanks to me, but we can't discount Marisa's hard work and struggle entirely...!"
"I see." Smiling, Misumaru turned and gave Kanako a nudge in the ribs. "You've been awfully silent this afternoon. I wonder, what are you most proud of Sanae for?"
Kanako didn't hesitate for a second. "Making these moon cakes," she said, gesturing to the large platter she'd almost polished off by herself. "They were an absolute delight!"
Chapter 5: Day 5: Cooking
~Too Many Cooks Flavour the Noodles~
Byakuren was wearing her nice apron, which said "NICE APRON" in wide purple letters, making dinner in the newly-rebuilt Myouren Temple kitchen. She turned away from the steaming pot of noodles and dug out a large wok.
"What's this? A stir-fry?" Shou approached in a long apron with pictures of orange kittens.
Byakuren's expression brightened. "Yes, something like that. If you want to help, we need a lot of vegetables chopped," she suggested.
"All right. Oh, but first!" Shou opened the fridge and took out a butter dish. "Bishamonten told me a little butter in the wok really improves a noodle dish." So saying, Shou cut off a knob of butter. Byakuren moved aside for her to drop it into the wok, then she turned on the heat and let it melt into steaming, savoury-smelling yellow grease.
Byakuren slid a plate of diced onion into the wok, adding a little ginger, some sesame seeds and a pinch of chili flakes. Shou retrieved a knife and chopping board. Concentrating intensely, a fierce look on her face, she hacked into a large daikon.
"Something smells delicious!" Ichirin wandered into the kitchen, following the smell of ingredients in hot butter. "Ah, is that a stir-fry?"
"It will be," said Byakuren, stirring the noodles with a loud, steamy slosh.
"One thing with stir-fries," said Ichirin, "is that you really mustn't skimp on the salt. However much salt you think you need, you need another half teaspoon." So saying, she reached up, took a salt shaker from the cupboard and shook some salt into the wok.
"You're welcome!" Ichirin said brightly, skipping out of the kitchen while Shou and Byakuren stared.
They carried on in silence but for the roar of the burner, the thumping of knife on the chopping board and the occasional burst of sizzling. Byakuren seared the vegetables one batch at a time until it was time to fry the noodles.
Shou handed her a slotted spoon. Byakuren began scooping bunches of noodles into the wok, which sizzled and steamed as it received them.
"Wow, you're cooking up a storm!" Minamitsu came clomping along in her inside boots, looking with admiration at the laden wok.
"Er, yes, they'll be ready in about ten minutes! Give me some elbow room," said Byakuren, continuing to spoon in the noodles.
Minamitsu leaned over and sniffed the wok. "Needs more chili flakes."
Before anyone could say anything, she plucked a pot of chili flakes out of her pocket and sprinkled some into the noodles. Byakuren looked on, open-mouthed and amazed, as the captain wandered back out of the kitchen.
"I'm sure they mean well."
Byakuren spooned in the last few noodles and set about stirring the wok.
"Stir-fry tonight, is it?" Shou and Byakuren both jumped. Nue was padding into the kitchen, an innocently happy look on her face.
"It looks lovely," said Nue, "but it needs more garlic." Before they could grab her, she took a clove of garlic out of her stocking, a knife out of her other stocking and a plate out of her sports bra, then peeled and chopped the garlic finely and tipped it into the wok. "No need to thank me!"
"Wow, this is-! Wow, it's really good!" Kyouko squealed with delight as she devoured her veggie noodles.
"It's just packed with flavour!" Nazrin declared during a short break from chewing. "How did you manage it?!"
Byakuren froze with her chopsticks halfway to her mouth. "Er, well," she said diplomatically. "We did have a little help..."
"Cooking by committee," Shou piped up. "It went surprisingly well, I'd say!"
Chapter 6: Day 6: Scary
Today, I am proud to present a creepypasta. A silly one.
~Is The Pasta Scary?~
My name is Raylene Compton. I'd wanted to try one of the early Touhou games since I got into the series, but I refuse to pirate video games after my father was murdered by a torrent client, so I stuck to the games I could buy on Steam until one fateful day.
It was a warm Tuesday in April. I was thrilled when I found an old Embodiment of Scarlet Devil CD-rom in the charity shop, even more thrilled it was just two Australian Dollars and fifty Australian Cents. I ran home, eager to try it, but little did I know what an experience I was in for...
It took me most of the afternoon to find my external CD drive, sit on my external CD drive, buy a new external CD drive, install several Japanese fonts and old versions of DirectX and finally download the English patch, but the game ran just fine. I was greeted by the familiar tones of "A Dream More Scarlet than Red" and a lovely picture of Reimu sitting down, her legs outspread and tears on her cheeks.
I'm a Marisa main to the core, so I was going to be her for my first run, but when I went to choose my character Marisa was greyed out. Instead I found a third playable character, none other than Rin Satsuki. I was stunned, but I reasoned whoever gave the disc to charity must've modded her in. Thus, I played as Rin.
I'd watched a few let's plays of Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, so the first stage was pretty familiar. Rin's shots were some kind of magic fire; we ploughed through the early waves of fairies with ease. There was no Rumia, though. I didn't notice the Rumia-shaped hole in my life until the stage ended, sans Rumia, and stage two started.
Rin and I fought through Misty Lake; during a tight spot with a couple of whirly things I discovered her focused bomb, a giant cross. It felt great to use; perhaps this Rin was some kind of vampire hunter?
Cirno showed up on schedule, but her scene was weird. She was bleeding from some wounds on her neck, talking very woozily, and she only had one spell-card after which she ran home for a nap. This was weird, but I assumed whoever added Rin had changed the story as well.
Stage 3 was where things went off the rails. The fairies at the start were tricky, but there weren't that many of them. Then dead, bloodied fairies started showing up in the background, among the flower beds or lying on the path. That was morbid, but fair enough, it was a mansion owned by vampires. I kept going and got to the end of the stage, but instead of Meiling, the boss was Flandre!
Flandre's sprite was different; smears of hyperrealistic blood on her cheeks, hands and everywhere else. She told me- not Rin, me, the player- that she'd killed Marisa, eaten Remilia and taken her rightful place as queen of the vampires! Furthermore, if I couldn't beat her, she was going to consume my blood and turn me into her thrall!
To my amazement, two bloodied white fangs emerged from the top of my computer mouse! However, because my hand wasn't on the mouse at the time, I was fine! I just Alt-F4ed out of the game, took out the CD and stomped on it a few times.
I was fuming. If Flan and I had enjoyed a friendly chat before she dropped the bombshell that I, not being from Gensokyo, was fair game for eating, that would've been great! Quirky, lore-friendly, and more importantly respectful. But no, it was Vicious Maniac Flandre. I just can't stand it when evil modders go for stupid cliches! Don't they have any shame?!
Chapter 7: Day 7: Not the Intended Use
~Much Ado about Mochi~
Reimu and Sumireko were strolling through the Bamboo Forest, talking about cute boys and relationships.
"...So I may have disguised myself as a goddess of love and had a word with Taro's parents. To cut a long story short, they're fine with him and Shinjiro now!" Sumireko proudly recounted. "Sort of. It's more that they know what the consequences will be if they try to interfere again."
"Wonderful," said Reimu, not quite understanding the situation. "If that's what we're talking about, I saw Rinnosuke having tea with an umibouzu last week."
"Oh, nice! You mean Kagura's dad or-"
Reimu and Sumireko jumped at the sound. Reisen was sprinting towards them, her buckle shoes skidding on the dusty path.
"You have to help me! We're down thirty rabbits and desperately low on mochi!" gasped Reisen, falling to her knees in front of the magical girls. "Please, you have to help pound our mochi! Oh, please, please, please, please, please, cherry on top, please, pretty please and thank you in advance..."
Half an hour later, Reisen watched Reimu and Sumireko pounding a tall barrel of mochi. Her eye twitched. "Um, excuse me, Reimu?"
"...Fantasy Seal! Oh, what is it?" asked Reimu, an innocently curious look on her face.
"Er, well?" Reisen watched the yin-yang orbs rhythmically pounding the sticky white dough while Sumireko sat reading a science magazine and psychically kneading the mochi. "I'm just a bit curious about your methods. They're... unusual."
"Ah," said Reimu. "You don't mind vaguely Shinto mochi, do you?"
Chapter 8: Day 8: Classical
It can be tiring to write a short story every day, but sometimes I get a brilliant idea and bash it out in just an hour or two. And sometimes, fabulous secret powers are revealed to a shrine maiden...
~Haku-Rei and the Mistresses of Makai~
"It's such a nice day for a walk in the forest!" Tall, muscular and animated as cheaply as possible, Sanae strolled across a sunny clearing.
"It certainly is." Once Sanae had walked off the right edge of the screen, Reimu came in from the left. "What would you say to some ice cream once we get to the village?"
Behind Reimu, Cirno clapped her hands and somersaulted in the air. "I'd say that's the best idea I've heard all day!" she squeaked in a heavy New York accent. "Wait a minute! What's that I see on the path?!"
A tree had fallen across the path. Our heroines approached it, unreadable expressions on their faces.
"It looks like a tree has fallen," said Reimu. "Such a shame. Still-"
Suddenly, a spray of glowing stars struck the ground in front of them, exploding with blinding flashes of light.
"What the-?!" cried Reimu.
"I wouldn't know about ice cream," grinned Marisa, stepping forwards in plenty of goth make-up. "But I, Marisa the Ordinary Dark Apprentice, shall make you scream! Hey, Reimu."
Reimu's cheeks went red. "I told you, you mustn't talk to me that way until we get a new series in a more socially progressive age!"
"You won't get away with ambushing us, Marisa! Taaaaake THIS!" yelled Cirno, casting bolts of shimmery blue ice at Marisa.
Marisa jumped, the ice shattering harmlessly on the ground beneath her. "Nice try, but you'll have to work harder to get one over on me! Now taste my Non-Directional Lasers!"
Reimu and Sanae reacted with considerable shock. Marisa raised her glowing hakkero and fired out four rays of light.
"Oh, no! Quick, behind the tree!" yelled Sanae, diving behind the fallen tree. Reimu grabbed Cirno and followed her.
"This is bad," Reimu declared while the lasers wheeled overhead, not doing anything that threatening or difficult to animate. "I can't touch her... But perhaps Haku-Rei can!"
"Do it, Reimu! Show her what you're made of!" yelled Cirno encouragingly.
"All right, then!" Reimu pulled a yin-yang orb out of her pocket and began her stock footage. "For the honour of Gensokyo!"
Red sparks poured out of the orb and swirled around Reimu. Her hair turned purple, her dress turned into a hakama and three more orbs flashed into existence beside her. "I am Haku-Rei, Priestess of Power!" she shouted, her voice echoing.
Haku-Rei vaulted over the fallen tree and stared Marisa down. The non-directional lasers bounced harmlessly off her orbs.
Marisa laughed evilly. "At last, you and your shapely biceps show yourselves! Prepare to meet your end, Haku-Rei!"
"I'd much prefer to meet yours, Marisa- N-no, I mean, um..." Haku-Rei cleared her throat. "I'd much prefer it if you went away and left us to enjoy our walk!"
Marisa shook her head. "Sorry, Reimu. Ordinary Dark Apprentices don't leave people to enjoy their walks, we walk all over people!"
Her face red, Haku-Rei tried not to stare at Marisa's tall leather boots. "Er... Um... What about if we just fight without talking?"
Marisa shrugged. "Very well. Feel the power of my Orreries Sun!"
Four coloured orbs sparkled into life by Marisa's outstretched hands and surged forwards. Haku-Rei sent forth her own orbs, batting them aside in four exciting scenes slightly more drawn-out than they needed to be.
Before Marisa could react, Haku-Rei threw a gleaming persuasion needle and knocked the hakkero out of her hand. Marisa stumbled backwards in shock.
"Curse you miserable, curvaceous do-gooders!" growled Marisa, angrily shaking her fist. "I'll be back someday and have my revengeeaaaAAAARGH!"
The ground crumbled under her feet. Haku-Rei ran forwards to grab her, but Marisa was already plummeting into the miles-deep ravine, a dwindling scream on her lips.
"SEE YOU LATER!" Haku-Rei shouted after Marisa.
"That was intense," commented Sanae, emerging from behind the fallen tree. "I wonder where that cavern came from..."
"Well, I know one thing for sure; we're lucky Marisa came along!" Cirno commented. "Otherwise it could've been us plummeting down there like a pack of lemmings!"
And everybody laughed.
"In today's story, Marisa and I were once again prevented from expressing our true feelings for one-another." At the end of the episode, Reimu addressed the viewer directly. "This is because of something called 'homophobia', a prejudiced belief where it's seen as unnatural, weird, dangerous or even sinful for two women to love each other."
"While we may be separated by different goals, Marisa and I truly care about each other as much as any boyfriend and girlfriend do. There is nothing dirty or shameful about our feelings, and I hope someday the world at large will recognise that," Reimu continued. "If you or one of your friends is gay, don't be ashamed; love is still love no matter what form it takes."
"Right on!" Cirno piped up, bursting into the frame. "My love for ice cream is as valid as any, and don't let them tell you otherwise!"
Chapter 9: Day 9: Feisty
One of the main principles of feistiness is never backing down from a challenge. So here we are.
Byakuren and Miko were enjoying a leisurely walk after a night of heavy rain.
"Bet I can make a bigger splash than you!" Miko abruptly declared, stepping over to a large puddle in the grass. She jumped in it, splashing muddy water as high as the end of her coat.
"Oh, it's on!" Byakuren ran to a long puddle on the path and jumped in, making an even larger splash.
Miko laughed. "The size of the puddle doesn't matter! It's all in the ankles!" So saying, she leapt into a small, gravelly puddle and landed violently, launching up a wave of cold water.
"You're naive if you think the volume of water doesn't affect the splash! Watch this!" Byakuren stepped over some flowers and hopped into a small, deep puddle, splashing high enough to soak her dress.
"Not bad, but there's more than one way to splash!" Miko floated into the air, took aim and swooped towards the long puddle, pointing down with one foot. Her toe tore across the water's surface, throwing out two white waves of spray.
"Very impressive," said Byakuren sweetly, "but I'm done playing around. Eat my d-" Byakuren stumbled as she tried to step out of the puddle. A brief tug-of-war with the mud allowed her to continue. "My dust," she mumbled, her cheeks turning pink. "Eat my dust!"
Bright flowing rainbows danced around Byakuren as she ascended into the air. She launched herself in a long arc towards Misty Lake and smashed head-first into the rippling blue water, from which a plume of spray exploded right into the sky.
Miko whistled in appreciation as a fine, chilly spray pattered on the fields around her. She had to hand it to Byakuren; that woman could jump in puddles like nobody's business.
Chapter 10: Day 10: Transformation
~Stand By Me~
"Guess what?" shouted Jo'on, standing on top of the dragon statue. "I've learned transformation magic! Does anyone want to help me try it out."
Marisa nudged Reimu. "Oh, this'll be good. Hey, over here! Reimu wants to volunteer!"
"N-no I don't! You do it!" Reimu took Marisa firmly by the shoulders and pushed her towards Jo'on. "Go ahead, I insist!"
"Wonderful! Our first volunteer!" crowed Jo'on, leaping down off the statue in a billow of cape and a clatter of platform boots. "Let's have a little bet to make things interesting. If I can successfully transform you, Marisa, you have to give me a reward! Let's say... One freshly-baked New York cheesecake and a bottle of amazake."
Marisa nodded. "Will one from my private cellar be all right?"
"Of course," smiled Jo'on. "All right, hold out your arm!"
Reimu observed in mild confusion as Jo'on manipulated Marisa's arm, bending it up and to the side. She took off her tiny top hat, sat it on Marisa's outstretched hand and stepped back in proud admiration.
"Ta-da!" yelled Jo'on. "Marisa has now been transformed into a hat stand!"
Reimu burst out laughing. Marisa's look of excitement gave way to confusion, then anger. "You mean... That's it?!"
"That's it," said Jo'on sweetly. "When can I expect my reward?"
"I've got half of it right here." Marisa reached under her hat and pulled out a large bottle full of cloudy liquid. "Amazake, brewed twelve years ago! Now, as per our agreement..." Gripping the bottle by the neck, she raised it over her head. "I'LL LET YOU HAVE IT!"
Marisa chased Jo'on all the way up Youkai Mountain. Eventually they agreed to share the bottle and call it a day.
Chapter 11: Day 11: What If?
What if Touhou was a heroic jidaigeki fantasy about samurai, monsters and a dash of political intrigue?
~The Legend of the Dichromatic Lotus Butterfly~
"Youkai, so close to Daimyou Yasaka's castle... It makes no sense!" Reimu wiped Akashiroken's long, curved blade on the kuro bouzu she'd just finished slaying. "Her guardswomen patrol the lowlands for miles around, for these creatures to get so close to Umansatou should be impossible."
Marisa whistled in appreciation. "Neat exposition, Reimu! You really established today's setting."
Reimu gave the sorceress a look. "What was that?"
"I said 'I don't fully know, but it's bad news'!" lied Marisa. "Kuro bouzu are so dark, the guards wouldn't have had much chance of seeing them at night, but there were five of them with a tako nyuudou in tow! If we rule out crawling in secret, they could have used tunnels, flight or magic of some sort."
"Or perhaps someone smuggled them in," Reimu said darkly.
"Not likely with the guards searching shipments night and day!" scoffed Marisa. "The province might as well be a fortress now. No, these youkai could only have come here in secret, unless they had an invitation..."
Reimu's eyes widened. "Invitation... Hasn't the daimyou been bringing in wine and furniture for the shogun's visit?"
"Um, yeah?" Marisa said, tilting her head in confusion.
"We know she's going to ask for more funding for her army," Reimu pontificated. "Perhaps she wanted there to be a few youkai attacks to show that she needs the money. The guards have been searching every transport, it's true, but what if the daimyou herself ordered some youkai by post?"
Marisa gasped. "Reimu... What are you saying?!"
"I'm saying, Lady Yasaka, that the youkai incidents Umansatou suffered over the last few weeks have all been your doing." Reimu met Kanako's steely gaze without fear. "You wanted to exaggerate the threat to your province to make sure Lord Ota would grant you more funding, so you had your women import wild youkai and release them in secret."
A ripple of amazement passed through the ranks of courtiers and officials gathered in Kanako's hall. Marisa took Reimu's gauntleted hand and squeezed it.
"You dare to come before me with these outrageous accusations?" Sitting cross-legged in an alcove flanked by miniature onbashira, Kanako glared down at Reimu. "I have done nothing but fight and work tirelessly to protect Moriyato, the greater Lake Suwa region and all my people! That I would knowingly bring youkai into my own province is... unthinkable."
"Yet we thought of it," said Marisa. "And when we invited some of your soldiers for a little chat over a cup of sake, they told us the orders had come straight from the top, from you, my lady. To bring in oni, jidiao, even a wa nyuudou!"
"That's a lie!" Kanako leapt to her feet in anger. "I told them to bring safe youkai, ones which could only make a little mischief, not kill! I would never endanger-" She froze, her face turning white with horror. "I- I mean..."
"That sounded like a confession," Reimu said calmly while the courtiers panicked politely. "Now, you asked my companion and I to help solve your youkai problem, Lady Yasaka. And I can accomplish that now, by politely asking you to stop letting youkai into your province. How does that sound?"
"I... I..." Kanako's eyes narrowed. "I will allow no more of this foolishness. Guards! Kill these arrogant fools in the name of your daimyou!"
A dozen guards stormed over in a jangle of armour and a whisper of blades, forming up in front of Kanako. At their head was Sanae, a glint in her eyes and green froggy sabatons on her feet.
"You'll still fight for her? A liar who lets youkai lick her own people in their sleep?" said Marisa disgustedly.
"Daimyou Yasaka is my master and my mother. To betray her would be to die twice over," said Sanae, just a hint of regret in her voice.
"So be it, then," said Reimu, drawing her sword.
"So be it," agreed Marisa, readying her twelve-bladed naginata Houkiyari. Then she sighed angrily. "Did you have to put that little titbit right here?! Me going 'So be it.' would've been powerful line, but no, you had to make it complicated. Anyway, violence!"
The guards charged in like windmills of steel, but Reimu and Marisa cut them down with ease. Sanae moved in for the attack, slashing as fast as the wind, until Marisa hooked her sword out of her hands and bashed her onto the floor.
Reimu stepped forwards, trampling the frog-booted samurai without a care. "This is a battle you can't win, Lady Yasaka. Against liars and fraudsters I am sworn to fight until my last breath. Give up now, or pay the price for your double dealing!"
"I don't appreciate your using my daughter as the floor," said Kanako, sliding off several layers of robes and letting them fall behind her. "I wondered for many years when this would happen. To fight the Dichromatic Lotus Butterfly herself would be an honour, and to kill her the crowning glory of my career!" Sparks flashed around the daimyou's fingers as she drew her sword. "Fall, Reimu, and rue the day you defied me!"
Chapter 12: Day 12: Exchange
~Reposition the Priestess~
"Reimu, it's almost nine o'clock in the morning! Why are you still in bed?!"
"Stomping Celestials, give me a moment, Kasen..." Reimu had a stretch and yawned magnificently. "Oh, you aren't Kasen, are you?"
"Well noticed," sighed Kanako. "I'll have steamed vegetable and mushroom rice for breakfast, and Suwako would like omurice with grilled wasps. I'd hurry up if I were you!"
"Why, oh am I doing this...?" groaned Reimu. Last night was foggy in her mind, but she remembered opening a lot of bottles after an exciting samurai-themed LARP. She'd been drunk, Sanae had been drunk and Kanako had been stone-cold sober, and they'd all agreed to a shrine maiden swap.
"Good morning, Hakurei Kami!" Sanae skipped into the sparsely furnished front of the shrine, carrying a large tray of food. "I don't know what you like, so I made you a continental breakfast. Is that all right?"
"Why, it would be most excellent, my child!" With a serene, unnatural grace, the green-haired goddess took the tray and tucked in. "Ah, what a delightful croissant this is. Reimu only brings me cheap, stale ones."
"For shame," sighed Sanae. "Um, if you don't mind my asking, ma'am, why haven't I ever seen you here before? Is it that only the shrine maiden can see you or something?"
Mima giggled through a mouthful of ham and cheese on a pain au chocolat. "Something like that!"
"This is just plain rice..." Suwako pouted over the austere breakfast Reimu had placed in front of her.
"Is it?" Reimu blinked. "Oh, look at that, it is plain rice! How about that?"
"I wanted bugs and an omelette..."
"We didn't have any eggs, unfortunately." Reimu neglected to mention that she'd gorged herself on scrambled eggs before she started making the goddess's breakfast.
"And what about my breakfast? I made it clear that you were to serve me steamed vegetables and mushrooms with my rice!" said Kanako archly.
"Well, what are you going to do about that? Spank me?!" snapped Reimu.
Kanako glared daggers at her. "You should be so lucky."
Wearing a green and white maid outfit over froggy Mary-Janes, Sanae came skipping into the shrine. "I've run you a bath, Lady Hakurei, and sorted out your appointments for the day. Was there anything else you needed?"
Mima spat out a mouthful of nihonshu and hid the magazine she was reading. "Er, n-no! My, you certainly are enthusiastic..."
"It's my job to take care of you and the shrine today!" In truth, Sanae didn't like housework much more than anyone, but she was determined to make a good impression. "Are you feeling all right? Reimu gets her sake from unusual places sometimes."
"Oh, fine!" said Mima, climbing back onto her dignity. "I'll go and enjoy my bath now, thank you. Would you mind preparing the yin-yang orbs in the meantime? I have a ritual I need to perform."
Sweep, sweep, sweep, sweep. Reimu drifted into something halfway between sleep and wakefulness as she rhythmically swept the shrine stairs.
Kanako approached her, not looking impressed. "I can't help but notice you've been sweeping up for the last two hours, Reimu. Don't you have other chores to take care of? Cleaning the windows, for example, and mending Suwako's socks?"
Reimu sighed angrily. "And that's my problem? You aren't children! Clean your own windows! Suwako can sew her own socks!"
"Sparking hell, how does anybody put up with you?! Everything's too much effort!" snapped Kanako. "I wonder, should we pray to ourselves as well? Perform our own sacred dances? Do our own shopping?!"
"Right now, I need to get on with my own sweeping," said Reimu. "So if you wouldn't mind..."
"Reimu? Reimu, are you home?!" Kasen gave another knock on the door of the Hakurei Shrine. "Aunn and I made lasagne!"
"With fish and shredded cabbage!" declared Aunn.
The door slid open a crack and Sanae peered out. "Oh, that's very kind of you, but Reimu isn't here today! It's actually a bad time, the goddess wants to do a ritual in private..."
"Goddess?" Kasen's eyes widened. She slid open the door and pushed past Sanae to find Mima, surrounded by yin-yang orbs and dark fire.
"Ah..." Mima cleared her throat. "Hello. I was just, um..."
Aunn growled. "You're no goddess! Put this in the fridge, Sanae, we'll handle her!"
"A-all right, but-" Sanae accepted the warm baking tray of layered pasta Aunn thrust into her hands. "But what's going on?! I don't understand!"
"Mima's going on," said Kasen, whipping off her dress and taking a martial arts stance. "Going on the floor twelve seconds from now, that is! Charge!"
"Where did you get the black eye?" Sanae asked, taking tea with Reimu the next afternoon.
"Ah... Kanako punched me in the face after I punched her in the face," said Reimu. "What about you? How did you break your wrist?"
"You punched Lady Kanako in the face?!" Sanae gasped in horror.
"Only because of what she said about my mother! Anyway, what happened to your arm?"
"Oh... This?" Sanae gave her bandaged wrist a rueful look. "I stepped on a yin-yang orb after the fight and went flying, and your donation box caught my arm. Mima just laughed at me even though Kasen was sitting on her!"
"Mima was there?!"
"Yes, pretending to be the Hakurei Goddess."
"Oh, she would!" scoffed Reimu. "Do you want some lasagne?"
"In that case, do you want to help me make another lasagne? I had the last one for breakfast."
Chapter 13: Day 13: Betrayal
~Dancers in the Soup~
"Here's your luncheon, Lady Okina!"
"It's oxtail soup and sticky rice with pickled veg, as requested."
Mai and Satono approached the goddess of back doors, each holding one side of an ornate wooden tray.
"Ah, thank you. I was getting quite hungry." Okina took the tray, took a pair of chopsticks from the porcelain chopstick rest and tucked in.
Okina chewed her rice for a moment, took a sip of soup, then spat it out. "Aaaugh, what are you trying to do to me?! This is poison!"
Mai froze with one foot off the ground, halfway through a dance. "Eh? Poison?! What's wrong?!"
Satono froze with both feet off the ground, balancing on her nose. "But we made exactly what you asked for!"
"This," Okina said venomously, "is oxtail soup! I wanted FOXtail soup!"
"Fox tail...?" Satono said weakly.
"As in from an actual fox?" Mai said weakly.
"As in not from an actual cow," Okina pouted. "Traitors."
Chapter 14: Day 14: Hobbies
~Puddle Splashing: Gensokyo's Newest, Most Unexpected Pastime~
We live in a very sporty world, with danmaku and martial arts both popular among women aged between eighteen and five thousand. Over the past few years, however, one niche hobby has seen an unexpected explosion in popularity. Jumping in puddles, formerly seen as a children's pastime, is now Gensokyo's sixth most popular hobby, ranked between flower viewing and cosplay.
A Season 136 study by the Lake Suwa and Environs Society for Illogical Science revealed that 96.3% of Gensokyans born after the Hakurei barrier have jumped in at least one puddle. Interviewees cited a variety of reasons for jumping in puddles, including "It's fun", "I wanted to", "I was drunk" and "Marisa kind of dragged me along with her".
The history of puddle-splashing in eastern fantasy began long before Gensokyo, and the hobby's origins are lost to time. However, Konohana-Sakuyahime and Iwanagahime are believed to have jumped in some of the first puddles created when the gods were testing rain. Susano-o no Mikoto was noteworthy for jumping in puddles with the reasoning of "[Swear word] off, I can do whatever the [another especially bad word] I want!"
Among humans, Prince Shoutoku was an early adopter of puddle-splashing. When interviewed in the present day under her current identity she said, "[...] Back in those days, as emperor of Japan, I was under a lot of pressure to be something I wasn't. A Budhhist, a man and whatnot. Once, when I was walking in the palace grounds, I came upon a puddle... So I jumped in it. It felt silly, but also freeing."
Toyosatomimi continued, "Now it doesn't feel silly any more. Nothing feels silly! Not my hair, not these earmuffs [...] and definitely not puddles! It's just clean, innocent fun that costs nothing. Who wouldn't want to?!"
Walking past at a convenient, local religious leader Byakuren Hijiri remarked that "[Jumping in puddles] isn't that clean!", referring to the wet, mud-splattered state of Toyosatomomi's clothes. Hijiri was silent when questioned about the cleanliness of her own attire.
Jumping in puddles is not without its critics. Some people describe it as messy, unladylike and without a rational purpose; an accurate statement, but one which could be said of every popular hobby. Others critics, however, paint a worrying picture of the circumstances behind puddle-splashing.
"It seems completely unnatural for a whole ninety percent of the population to like jumping in puddles," doctor and general stuff-knower Eirin Yagokoro commented. "Fair enough, it is fun for some. And fair enough, puddles are readily available. But ninety percent of us?! No, there must be some outside force influencing us, causing more of us to jump in puddles than would naturally partake."
"For the gods' sakes, even I jump in puddles!" Yagokoro elaborated. "As few as two hundred years ago, I wouldn't have been the slightest bit interested! Kaguya and I do have fun, but it feels as though we're being... Written out of character? If that makes sense. Actually, I suppose it is in character for her..."
Yagokoro expressed the possibility that a "god of splashing in puddles" could be exerting some influence over Gensokyo. These hypothetical kami could further be categorised as "gods of splashing", "gods of puddles" or "gods of play". We reached out to the Hakurei shrine maiden for comment, but at time of press she has not responded.
If there is such a deity involved, we hope they will continue to promote healthy puddle-splashing as per their nature, but not allow it to get out of hand for financial gain, spiritual gain or the cuteness factor. If, on the other hand, the financial and spiritual gain are something they want to share, my door is always open...
-MEGUMU IIZUNAMARU, reporter and editor, Mugimeshi Herald
Chapter 15: Day 15: Sticky
~The Asphalt in our Tars~
The villagers had decided it was time to resurface all their roads. Reimu found Marisa, in a frilly hi-vis apron and quite a large hard hat, smoothing out the steaming hot tarmac with a rolling pin.
"Wow, that's so much..." Reimu wrinkled her nose at the pungent smell of tarmac. "Did you make all this?!"
"No, Rinnosuke did that half. He had a plank instead of one of these." Marisa laid down her rolling pin and pointed to a nearby stretch of dark grey surface, broken up with rectangular imprints where it had been bashed into shape.
"Oh, good. And are they paying you for this?" asked Reimu.
Marisa nodded. "Mm-hmm! A thousand five hundred yen," she said happily.
"Is that per road or per village?"
Reimu's hair flew up in astonishment. "That much?! But that's unbelievable!"
"Oh, no, qualified construction engineers are very in demand! Not to mention the fact that tarmac stinks and no-one wants to touch it," explained Marisa.
"Where can I buy a rolling pin?!" squeaked Reimu.
"You need a degree first," Marisa pointed out.
"You don't have one either!"
"Details!" Marisa went to carry on flattening, but stopped with a worried look. "Um, my rolling pin's stuck. Reimu, have- have you got a crowbar?"
Chapter 16: Day 16: Colourful
~Size Doesn't Chimata~
Clomping down compacted earth roads in bright pink leather boots, Chimata strode along the edge of the bamboo forest with a spring in her step. Of course she always had a spring in her step, but today's was especially springy. Today, Chimata was on her way to the first annual sculptors' convention at Chen's country chateau.
Chateau Chen wasn't actually any bigger than the rest of Mayohiga's houses, but it had a garden, a pear tree and a nice knee-high wall. Chen was standing by a long table alongside Cirno, Misumaru, Kogasa and a couple of other nekomata.
"Yo!" shouted Chimata, running over to the group. She was greeted with an enthusiastic chorus of "Oooooiiiii, Chimata-chaaaaan!" and words to that effect.
"Perfect, we can start now!" said Chen, clapping her hands in delight.
"I can't wait!" squeaked Cirno.
"I'll go first," decided Misumaru. "Behold!"
Misumaru grasped the yellow and pink tartan towel she'd draped over her sculpture and whipped it off, revealing a reddish-brown clay centaur with a thick, curved longbow. Her muscular human torso was smooth and curved, holding the bow perfectly, and her large horse body had the delicate texture of hair.
"Oh, wow!" cried Cirno, staring at the centaur's flowing hair in awe.
"Cool...!" breathed Chen, gazing upon the four slender legs that held it up.
"It's so lifelike!" gasped Chimata, paying close attention to the centaur's hefty bosom.
"I'm glad you're enjoying it," Misumaru said with a knowing smile. "Kogasa, would you care to go next?"
"But of course!" Kogasa turned to a tattered tent of purple cloth next to the centaur. A shiny metal octopus, gentle and round with big, friendly eyes, emerged when Kogasa pulled off the cloth.
"Oh, wow," breathed Cirno, awestruck by the octopus.
"It looks delicious!" gasped Chen, licking her lips in tandem with the other two nekomata.
"Cute!" giggled Chimata.
Kogasa's cheeks went red. "I forged it myself. Thank you!"
"Now, how about you, Hanako?" said Misumaru, gesturing to a cat-girl in a dark blue suit with lots of make-up, tattoos and piercings.
"Ah, but of course," Hanako said in a deep, sultry voice, approaching the long table. "I present to you my latest piece, representing my great fondness for goat's milk!"
She whipped a white cloth off a rough concrete edifice, big and heavy enough to bend the table under its weight. It was a statue of a hairy goat being milked by a farmer in loose overalls and a wide cone-shaped hat.
"Oh..." Cirno looked disheartened. "Wow."
"It's huge!" cried Chen.
"The detailing...!" breathed Chimata. "And the thighs on that farm girl!"
"Do you need a moment to yourself, Chimata?" smiled Misumaru.
Chimata giggled. "Just saying..."
"Well, moving on," said Misumaru. "Cirno, what about you?"
"I- I didn't bring anything." Cirno looked down at her feet, pouting heavily. "But you go on ahead! I'll be here, watching..."
"Eh?" Misumaru looked concerned. "But Cirno, we all saw you bringing your sculpture! It's right there, under the, er... Isn't that the skirt Letty was looking for?"
"N-no! It's just a lump in the tablecloth!" Cirno moved in front of the big lavender skirt draped over an unseen sculpture. "Nothing to see, just a, um..."
"Cirno, you clearly don't want us to see your sculpture for some reason! What's wrong?" asked Chimata.
Cirno looked timidly up at her and Misumaru. "W-well, um... You see... It's... It's no good! It's stupid!" She burst into tears. "I'm a rubbish artist and I can't sculpt for toffee and no-one's even paying in toffeeeeee! Y-you're all so good and I'm just a circle-nine..."
"Oh, Cirno, don't say that!" Chimata bent down and patted the trembling fairy on the head. "It's just a sculpture! It doesn't have to be amazing."
"B-but yours are amazing..."
"I'm a goddess of crafting, Cirno! Kogasa's a blacksmith! Hanako is also, I presume, er...?" Misumaru gave Hanako a wordless glance.
"I'm a builder! You might know me from my work on the Human Village roads, as well as exposing a shrine maiden who forged her degree in construction engineering," said Hanako.
"Builder! You see, she's a professional too!" said Misumaru triumphantly. "And you're a child... Well, sort of a child, doing handicrafts for fun! You don't have to be ashamed if your work doesn't hold up against ours, Cirno."
"But I'm rubbish..."
"Everyone does things badly before they learn how to do them better. Seriously, it's a vital part of the learning process," said Misumaru firmly. "I made at least four hundred hopelessly misshapen magatama before I got used to them, and Chimata..."
Chimata nodded. "It's true. I used to take hours doing up all my zips."
"My first brick wall was just a pile of bricks," said Hanako. "It wasn't until my fourth or fifth that the bricks started lining up properly."
"R-really?" Cirno sniffled. "So this could just be the first rung on the ladder to my artistic mastery or something?"
"Yes, exactly!" Chimata wondered briefly where that metaphor had come from. "Now why don't you show us your sculpture, Cirno?"
"All right." Cirno wiped her eyes, took a deep breath and pulled away Letty's skirt.
What emerged was a lumpy, multicoloured mass of papier mache, shaped into something like a girl with blue bananas coming out of her sides. Her skin was as pink as Chimata's boots, her little dress was several shades of blue and there were streaks of red on her face and chest.
"Is that...?" Chimata giggled. "Is that you?!"
Cirno's cheeks reddened. "It was supposed to be..."
"I think it's cute!" said Misumaru. "Very... Very Cirno."
"Is that your tie on there?" asked Kogasa, pointing at the red streak on the sculpture's chest. "Nice little detail!"
For a brief moment Cirno smiled. Then she burst into tears once more, spilling her happiness on the grass until Chen took her inside for some tea.
Chapter 17: Day 17: Time to Act
~Call to Orbs~
"I put a little tonic in Reimu's sake last night," whispered Kasen, crounching beside the bed with Marisa. "If I got the dose right, she's going to be a LITTLE more on the ball today."
"Awesome." Giggling a little, Marisa stood up, leaned over Reimu and shook her gently. "Reimuuu, oh Reeiiiimuuuuu! We may or may not have an Incident to deal wiiiith! Something's been eating all the villagers' shoes, Reim-"
"ACTION STATIONS!" Reimu leapt out of bed, headbutting Marisa in the nose. "To the battlements! Red alert! All hands, stand by to repel boarders! Appoint a select committee! Release the kraken!"
Reimu spun around like a red and white whirlwind as she put her clothes on.
"Aaugh... Reibu, calb dowd!" groaned Marisa, bleeding a little from her nose.
"How can you say that at a time like this?! They're coming from all sides! Kasen, I want you defending the sacred crystal! Marisa, make us a packed lunch! Hoshiro, secure the second batallion in the caves! Aya, drown yourself in Misty Lake! MOVE, people!" screamed Reimu, grabbing her gohei and sprinting out of the door.
Kasen bit her lip. Was it meant to have been a tablespoon or a teaspoon?
Chapter 18: Day 18: Growing Up
"Commentaries on the Mysterium Xarxes was so exciting! I must've read it three times!"
"Wow, you really made a good choice, then!" Laughing nervously, Marisa took the thick book handed to her by a chubby fairy in red robes. "Do you want to borrow another one?"
The fairy shook her head. "I have to go and hunt down the last of the Septim bloodline now. Tamriel ae Daedroth!" Piercing the sky with her sword (a stick), she ran off into the woods.
"Are you sure that was a good idea?" Reimu was leaning on the porch, observing the proceedings with some concern.
"It's fine! Broad horizons never hurt anyone," Marisa reassured her.
"Well, I hope not." Reimu shrugged as if telling the subject of conversation it was dismissed. "You know, I never expected to see you lending out books like this."
"Oh, you know... Books are meant to be shared."
"Did you ever think about giving them back to Patchouli?"
Marisa's face darkened. "No, that wouldn't do at all! She hoards her books because she likes having books, so she can say she has the biggest library in the world. It isn't right to treat books like a vault full of gold!"
"I thought you hoarded books because you liked having books!"
"Maybe the old Marisa did, but not any more. The new Marisa only steals for the good of fairykind!"
"All right, New Marisa, whatever helps you sleep at night."
Chapter 19: Day 19: Technology
This is for anyone who’s tried to use a printer within the last ten years and is perhaps a little bit worried about the future of technology.
~The Future is Now, Please Choose a Subscription Method~
"Where d'you want your chocolate milk, Professor?"
"Just there, please- Wait!" Yumemi stood up. "Hold it there. I want to see if the E-Coaster works as well as the adverts said."
"Er, all right!" A little nonplussed but happy to take part, Chiyuri hovered there, holding the tall glass of chocolate milk a short way above the table.
For a few seconds all was quiet, then a beep and a gentle whirring signalled that the E-Coaster was in business. The tiny disc-shaped robot skittered across the table, scrambling over a couple of books and pencils, and stopped directly underneath the glass.
"Wow...!" Giggling a little, Chiyuri lowered the glass onto the e-coaster's grippy purple surface.
Straining a little under the weight, the E-Coaster stood up and began its journey back to Yumemi's computer. Halfway across a treatise on unified physics it stopped.
"Hm? What's wrong?" said Chiyuri.
"GPS services unavailable," the E-Coaster said in a tinny synthesised voice. "Please input a valid IPv18 number, genetic ID, hyperreality bit code or fax address to confirm your identity."
"Oh, for-!" With an angry sigh, Yumemi dug through her wallet for her ID card. "Professor Yumemi Okazaki, she/her, JP-SCEA-219-006-198-AP."
After mulling over the ID for a further twelve seconds, the E-Coaster spoke. "ID confirmed. Since you are right-handed, I will deliver your beverage to the right side of your current chair. Right-handed computer mice are currently half-price at Hitomi's House of Computer Hardware. Bon appetit, Professor!" So saying, it scampered the rest of the way to Yumemi's computer.
"Finally!" sighed Yumemi.
"Teething problems?" said Chiyuri sympathetically.
"Oh, no, I just LOVE new technology. Now, if you don't mind-"
"Third-party beverage container detected."
Yumemi froze with her hand halfway to the glass of chocolate milk. "What NOW?!"
"Infinitech E-Coasters are designed to work with Infinitech smartcups," the E-Coaster declared. "The use of third-party beverage containers may cause unexpected issues, for which Infinitech is not liable."
"I don't care," said Yumemi heavily.
The E-Coaster bucked violently, sending the glass flying. Cold chocolate milk slopped everywhere, coating Yumemi in brown from her hair to her elbows, while the glass shattered at her feet.
"Aaugh, Professor!" Chiyuri grabbed a handful of tissues from the smart tissue box, but it refused to cooperate.
"New user detected. Please input a valid IPv18 number, genetic ID, metaverse passport or-"
"Oh, for rainbows' sakes! Chiyuri Kitashirakawa BSc, she/they, JP-TSEA-230-562-944-BN!"
"Welcome, Oh for Rainbows' Sakes Chiyuri. As a guest, Mirai Denki offers you one free tissue per day. In order to receive more tissues, please watch an advert, purchase a subscription scheme, or complete three quests in Clothes Shopping Legend, Sugoi Multimedia's new metaverse experience-"
Chiyuri threw the tissue box to the ground and stomped it into a pile of rubble. They pulled some slightly mangled tissues from within and passed them to Yumemi.
"Thank you," smiled Yumemi, putting down her hammer and leaving the pile of E-Coaster to smoulder forlornly on the floor. "We've made a bit of a mess in here-"
"You have exceeded your weekly limit of free bashes," said the hammer. "If you would like to upgrade your subscription, please spin your Valkyrie Industries Bit-Peen Hammer to the left three times. Otherwise you will be billed thirty-six yen for services rendered."
"Aaaaaaargh!" screamed Yumemi.
Chapter 20: Day 20: Clover
~This One could Just as Easily Have Been for Day Fifteen, But What the Heck: A Lay of Bunnies and Hydrocarbon Peril~
Tewi looked over a small four-leaf clover
Beside it stood Reisen knee-deep in a tar pit
"Excuse me," said Reisen, "but won't you help out?
"This stuff feels so icky I really can't bear it."
"Now how did that happen?" said Tei with a smirk
"Don't you watch where you're putting your poor little toes?
"I'll go and get help, just stay there, don't move!"
Poor Reisen was forced to obey by the ooze
She stood there for hours, the smell was unkind
Her feet were too cold and too clammy at once
Why hadn't she checked? Why hadn't she looked?
She'd blundered straight into the tar like a dunce
With anger she looked on the clover so green
What luck had it brought her? Misfortune for sure
She reached out towards it and grabbed the poor sprout
And out of the soil that clover she tore
She crushed its four leaves betwixt cold sweaty hands
And threw the green remnants on shiny black slime
She wondered when Tewi would come back with help
That roustabout never had been good with time
But then came Rinnosuke, two buckets in hand
"Excuse me, but can you get out? We need more
"Of this tar for the roads in the village," he said.
"I'm sorry," said Reisen, "I'm stuck something sore."
"I see," said Rinnosuke, "that is quite a pinch.
"Perhaps if I aided you. Give me your hand."
With effort and swearing, five minutes in all,
He hauléd Udongein back onto dry land
"O thank you sincerely! I hated that tar!"
Gushed Reisen, still dripping with bitumen black
Her legs were all sticky, dark footprints did trail
Behind as she staggered on long woodland tracks
Once he had collected his buckets of gloop
Rinnosuke walked Reisen back home to the hospice
She left her poor boots and her tights at the door
Woke Tei from her nap, bit her ears hard for justice
In tears did Tei go and run her a bath
She used a black bath bomb, the water made pitch
Udongein came in, took one look and just screamed
"Is this all a joke to you, Tewi, you dog?!"
Chapter 21: Day 21: What's In a Name?
Today, we have a special guest. The chapter of The Legend of Hoshiro where Hoshiro first meets Kasen isn’t ready yet, so consider this an early preview of their, um, charming friendship.
~Strict Literal Interpretations are a Mug's Game~
"A nobiagari is made of shadow, so it should be able to be defeated by light." Wearing a dramatic scowl, Kasen paced up and down and stated the obvious. "But this one is too big even for a Master Spark. Where does that leave us?"
"Where does that leave us?" sighed Hoshiro, watching the strong, beautiful, dynamic Kasen with flushed cheeks and dreamy eyes. "Good question."
"Er, well, it leaves us..." Kasen bit her lip. "You and Amaterasu still aren't on speaking terms, are you?"
"No. So for a light as powerful as the sun..." Hoshiro gasped. "I have it! To the Forest of Magic!"
Kasen had barely processed the sentence when Hoshiro took her by the hand and sprinted away.
They arrived twelve minutes later at the colourful European chateau in the eastern forest. Hoshiro ploughed a furrow through the garden path. Kasen landed more gently behind her.
"Can you please tell me," said Kasen, "what we're doing here?!"
"Getting what we need to defeat her! The sisters have devices that strengthen light beyond even the Mini Hakkero's power!" Full of eagerness, Hoshiro stomped up to the front door and gave it a firm knocking. "Hello?! Anyone in?!"
"What devices?" Kasen's curiosity was piqued.
"They're called-" Hoshiro broke off when the door swung open. "Hi, Lyrica! Or Lunasa!"
"Good afternoon," said Merlin, a mildly amused look on her face. "What can I do for you?"
"We need your help! In order to beat the nobiagari, you have to give us a prism," Hoshiro said urgently. "From your river!"
Merlin blinked. "A what? From our... what?"
"Ohhh, for sunflowers' sake!" Kasen put her head in her hands.
"Y-you didn't think we had an actual river full of prisms?!" gasped Merlin, laughing her head off. "No, that's just our surname! The only actual prisms we have are in Lyrica's kaleidoscope."
"Oh... Thanks anyway." Hoshiro's face fell. "It looks like I boobed again."
"This may be the boob of the century," sighed Kasen. "Why do I bother with you? Everyone knows the Prismrivers are musicians, not... Not... THE TENGU!"
"Tengu? What about them, Senpai?!" cried Hoshiro.
Kasen's eyes were shining. "They might have- Don't just call me your- They use cameras, so they have to have whole piles of lenses!" she cried, taking Hoshiro by the hand.
Hoshiro's heart began to beat faster. "K-Kasen...!"
"Fly with me, my overenthusiastic sidekick! To Youkai Mountain, home of the photographer maidens of Eastern Fantasy!" yelled Kasen. “We fight for love, freedom, hope and peace, unto the end of time!”
“Y-you’re everything I ever wanted...” Hoshiro wept with joy.
Chapter 22: Day 22: Precious Moment
~Still Happy and Gay~
"Aaauuuun..." Aunn's yawn sounded much like her name as she sat up and stretched, curly green hair flowing down over her abdomen. "Good morning, world!"
The grey morning sky shone dimly through the patchwork curtains. A long, slow creak sounded every few seconds as the wind shifted Mike's treehouse, swaying the two youkai in their bed.
Aunn blinked the sleep out of her eyes and yawned again. Mike was a warm presence beside her, sleeping front side down with her face buried in the pillow, shifting slowly as she breathed. Aunn smiled and have her hair a gentle stroke.
"I'm awake," Mike mumbled sleepily. After a few seconds she spoke again. "Is this starting to feel familiar to you? Like we've woken up like this before?"
"Familiar?" Aunn lay back and pondered. "I think so. It's been a few weeks since I moved in..." She smiled. "Now I get to wake up with you every morning!"
"You're really good at it, you know. Waking up." Mike rolled over in a rustle of blankets and gazed up at the ceiling. "You yawn so cutely and..." Mike offered a yawn of her own. "So cute."
Giggling happily, Aunn wrapped an arm around Mike's narrow shoulders and snuggled up to her. "I love you..."
"I love you too," sighed Mike.
She kissed Aunn on the nose, making her squeak delightedly, and for a few minutes they lay there in warm contentment.
Chapter 23: Day 23: Teamwork
~Let's Shelve That Idea For Now~
Ran was straining to reach a butter dish high up in the highest cupboard, but her fingers could barely get above the granite countertop. She sighed and turned her back on the counter in defeat.
"What's got you down, Miss Ran?" Chen stomped into the room, eating an apple like she just didn't care.
"Oh... It's these cupboards," sighed Ran. "See how unreasonably high they are? I have no access to any of their contents!"
Chen put the apple under her hat and stepped up to the counter. "Here, you can stand on my shoulders."
"Perfect! Thank you." Ran clambered up onto Chen's shoulders and reached up as far as she could, but the butter dish was still tantalisingly out of reach.
"Mmrf... Heavy..." groaned Chen, shifting her weight slightly. "Any luck, Miss Ran?!"
"Aiyeeeee!" shrieked Ran, falling with a soft, heavy thump.
"The shelves again?" Yukari padded into the room in her pyjamas, stopping just short of stepping on Ran. "I don't know why you go through this every time when there's a simple, obvious solution to reach the top shelf! Something every woman in Gensokyo can do! Just shrink the room."
Chapter 24: Day 24: Competition
"Ladies and gentleladies, judging for the first annual Eastern Wonderful Bake-Off will now commence!" Through a pastel orange megaphone, Reisen addressed the small crowd gathered outside the Hakurei Shrine. "Please present your bakes to the judges in an orderly fashion! That means you, Seija."
Seija stuck her tongue out, picked up her upside-down cheddar and jalapeno cake, and skipped towards the long table. She plonked the cake down in front of Reimu with a flourish.
Next came Eiki, presenting a tall, moist chocolate sponge cake decorated with flowers. She slid a rolled-up guide to portion sizing out of her pocket and tucked it under the plate.
Letty followed with a mint cheesecake, pale yellow with flecks of green and white, wreathed in frost. Kasen shivered behind the table.
Then came Aya, carrying a blocky red cake shaped like a pair of geta. They were a lot bulkier than the ones she usually wore, but the thick fondant icing and heavy vanilla cake held their shape well enough.
Staggering under the weight of her creation, Kosuzu tottered up to the table. Her cake was an entire bookshelf, bent under its weight, its multicoloured buttercream icing dripping down and mixing together in several places, and the table shook as she deposited it
Shinmyoumaru floated down between Aya and Letty's cakes with a tiny lemon meringue tart on a little blue saucer. Seija moved to shove her face in the tart, but Letty got there first, dragging Seija out of reach in a headlock.
Once things had calmed down, Minoriko came over with a ham and mushroom pasta bake. After a brief but spirited discussion, the judges agreed that it counted as a baked good and was fit for entry. Minoriko glowed with pride as she laid it down on the tablecloth.
Last to approach was Chimata, carrying a huge lattice-lidded pie full of fruit: raspberries, apricots, bananas, kiwi fruit, blueberries, blackberries and finally grapes, a sweet rainbow peeking out through the pastry.
"Wow, what a spread!" Reisen looked over the eight delicious bakes and tried not to salivate. "Thank you all once again for coming here and taking part. We will now begin our judging and... Um, Kasen, does- does something seem wrong to you?"
"Wrong?" Kasen's brow furrowed. She looked down at the eight empty dishes scattered with crumbs, scratched her head and peered at her chopsticks. "Well, it's strange... I do have a vague feeling that something’s off. Reimu, what do you think?"
"Hmm?" Reimu brushed some crumbs off her apron. "No, nothing's wrong, they were delicious! I think I'm going to need eight more cakes, though, to really get a sense of how you stack up."
Kasen looked at Reimu, then at the empty plates, then at Reimu's round, full tummy, then at the empty plates. She blew on her fingers, adjusted her apron, picked up the icing-smeared platter Kosuzu had used and smashed it over Reimu's head.
Chapter 25: Day 25: Rough Terrain
Aya has a lot of different geta, some of which are suited to rough terrain. Which pair is your favourite?
~Aya's Catalogue of Geta Variants~
For formal and day-to-day use: Chunky red geta shoes, one short tooth.
"My favourite pair of shoes! These are so comfy and fit perfectly with my look."
For day-to-day use, at least in theory: Red and white laced training geta, rubber soles, one short tooth.
"These were probably a better idea on paper. The teeth won't stop bending, so if I'm not careful I go flying..."
For rainy days: Calf-length red "getaloshes", i.e. geta wellington boots, wooden soles with one medium-length tooth.
"I am particularly proud of inventing getaloshes. Before I came along, tengu had to choose between dry legs and traditional fashion, but not any more! They also come in blue for our more discerning, cucumber-prone clients, and I've been fielding requests for a froggy version as well."
For day-to-day use: Laced leather ankle-high geta boots, red wooden soles with one long tooth.
"Ah, these ones are very warm, so I wear them when the weather isn't."
For cold weather: Calf-high insulated geta snow boots, wooden soles, one medium tooth.
"These boots are so warm I could probably hike to the north pole in them!"
For hopefully never wearing again: Red wedge heeled geta slingbacks, one long tooth and one short.
"These so-called shoes of mine were a mistake. Never again, that's all I can say."
For formal use: Cross-laced red geta shoes, wooden soles with one long tooth.
"I think I wore these yesterday."
For formal use: Pink geta court shoes, one short tooth.
"I've never actually worn these to anything. Why did I get them?"
For snow and ice: Wooden geta skis, five short teeth.
"Now, it isn't exactly possible for me to ski in these, but they do have quite decent grip and balance! They drag a bit, though, so it isn't perfect."
For formal and everyday use: Buckled leather monk-shoe-style geta, one long tooth.
"I suppose I do have a lot of shoes, but these ones aren't very comfy, so I don't wear them much."
For everyday use: Rustic wooden geta with red straps, one medium tooth.
"Hatate got me these for my birthday. There more like the sort of geta she wears, though, too hard underfoot for me."
For hopefully giving back soon: Rustic wooden geta with long purple straps, one long tooth.
"Oh, these ones I stole from Hatate. She still hasn't worked out it was me!"
For dangerous adventures and day-to-day use: Calf-high laced combat boot geta, wooden soles with one medium tooth.
"Ah, now these bad girls might be my sexiest... Um, is this going out to the public? ...Ah. Okay, moving on!"
For day-to-day use: Short steel-toed geta work boots, wooden soles with two medium teeth.
"Ah, these are for... Well, I try never to do DIY, but sometimes it can't be escaped. They're also good to have in case someone steps on my foot, which can be VERY damaging in geta."
For normal day-to-day use: Calf-high black geta boots which may or may not have laces, one medium tooth.
"Oh, these ones. I genuinely can't tell whether these boots have laces or not! They're so dark, all my portraits in Hidden Star in Four Seasons make it look ambiguous."
For formal and day-to-day use: Red T-bar doll-style geta, one long tooth.
"I'm not sure when I bought these."
Chapter 26: Day 26: Oh, no!
~Aren't You Forgetting Something?~
Mystia was out shopping, fluttering over the meadows with a wooden basket in hand. She shivered when a cold wind blew past her.
"How's it hanging, Mystia?" said Meiling, approaching from the other side with a larch tree over her shoulder.
"Fine! It's chilly today, though," said Mystia.
"Is it? I didn't really notice," said Meiling. "You're going clothes shopping, then?"
Mystia blinked. "No, just food shopping. Why?"
"Oh, well..." Meiling giggled. "It just looks like you need a few. But I'm sure you know what you're doing."
"All right, then... 'Bye!" Mystia was more than a little mystified, but she waved goodbye to Meiling and carried on, eager to stock up on rice.
It was only when Mystia landed on the Road of Liminality that she realised something was wrong. People were staring at her, laughing or hurriedly turning away, and when she saw her reflection in a puddle she immediately knew why.
"OH, NO!" screamed Mystia, staring in horror at the rippling image before her. "I wore my Himeji Castle costume instead of actual clothes! Aaaugh, I'll never recover from this embarrassment!"
Sobbing and rustling loudly, Mystia ran home in her five-tiered paper and cardboard edifice.
Chapter 27: Day 27: Daily Life
~Another Boring Day Like Any Other~
Reimu was sitting on the shrine decking, buckling her shoes.
"Helloooooo~!" trilled Aya, fluttering down to join her with notepad in hand. "Are you going somewhere today?"
Reimu spent another ten seconds on her shoes before she looked up. "Oh, good morning, Aya. I didn't see you there," she said heavily. "I'm going to meet Marisa for lunch, then I'll get my new bow from Raiko."
"Very interesting," said Aya, scribbling down a note. "What's the story behind this new bow, then? Raiko isn't a clothier as far as I know."
"Er, well..." Reimu folded her arms in a slightly huffy way. "We worked out a sponsorship deal, if you must know."
"Ooh, tell me more!"
"Goodbye," said Reimu, rising abruptly to her feet.
Aya followed Reimu through the fields, talking about her work and being doggedly ignored. Halfway to the Forest of Magic they heard a scream.
"Is that...?" Reimu peered into the distance. "Is that Alice?!"
It was Alice, sprinting across a cabbage field with tears in her eyes, mud and cabbage debris on her boots. "Help! Help!" she screamed as she ran. "The furniture are attacking! Run for the hills!"
"Furniture...?" breathed Reimu.
Aya gasped. "Furniture! Look!"
A herd of wooden tables, chairs, dressers and more were galloping across the field, kicking up a great cloud of dust and mauled vegetables. There seemed to be no end to them, more and more furniture pouring over the hill as the column surged forwards.
"We have to do something!" Aya whipped out her camera, gave Reimu a kiss on the cheek and shot out over the cabbage. "Alice! Please give me an exclusive interview!"
"Go away!" screamed Alice, still running for her life.
Reimu stared open-mouthed for a few seconds. Scowling, she whipped out her handkerchief and attempted to wipe off Aya's minimalistic pale pink lipstick. The nerve of that tengu...
As she approached Marisa's house, Reimu could tell something was unusual. She could smell sugar, sparkles and pastel colours, the familiar aroma of Marisa's danmaku, and hear shouting further down the road. There was also a platoon of beast warriors storming past her with Yachie at their head.
"Ex- excuse me! Excuse me!" Reimu grabbed a small narwhal youkai in chainmail and padding. "What's going on?!"
The narwhal puffed out her chest and stared Reimu down. "Unhand my elbow, human! Our war game against the Eagle Clan must not be interrupted, else the damage to international relations could be... Unpleasant."
"War games?! What about my lunch with Marisa?!"
"The woman who lives in that house over there!"
"Ah, the witch! You're out of luck, red and white interloper; she's the prize our leaders are fighting over. A slave to create magical weapons and armour!" The narwhal roared with laughter, showing a personality rather too big for her stature.
"Marisa, taken as a slave?!" Reimu's eyes widened. "No, don't you dare!" A yin-yang orb materialised in her hand, which she brought down on top of the narwhal's head in a devastating strike. The narwhal's chainmail jangled as she fell.
"What's going on, Reimu?" Marisa wandered up behind her, bemusedly observing the narwhal.
Reimu whirled around. "There's no time to talk! The beast spirits are- I don't know what they're doing, but they're trying to capture Marisa and force her to work on their... Weaponry...?" Reimu tilted her head in confusion. There was something familiar about the small, blonde, pointy-hatted woman in front of her, but she couldn't quite put her finger on-
"MARISA?!" Reimu stared for a few seconds, then she fainted.
"All right, I've worked out what I'm going to tell the insurance company."
"Oh, have you?"
"First of all, I'm covered for animal attacks, so I'll tell them most of the damage came from animals. That ain't even technically a lie, and it also explains..." Marisa had planned out her excuse down to the letter, and she took pride in explaining every detail to Reimu as they strolled up the mountain road.
"It sounds like a great plan so far," said Reimu. "There is one problem, though. What if they ask for a picture of the mokele-mbembe skeleton?"
"I'll stick Remilia in the x-ray machine."
Reimu burst out laughing, making her official Raiko and the Prismriver Ensemble hair ribbon flop around like petals in the breeze. "Whatever you do don't remind Aya about that!"
"Oh? Remind me about what?"
Reimu's good mood vanished instantly. Aya was striding towards them, arm in arm with a tall, slender hat stand.
"Hiya, Aya!" shouted Marisa. "What's that you've got there? New furniture?"
The hat stand bristled. "Furniture?!" she said in a creaky voice.
"I should think not! Don't listen to them, Haya-chan, they don't know what they're talking about," Aya said in high dudgeon.
Reimu looked at Marisa. Marisa looked at Reimu. "Haya-chan...?" they both said, deeply confused.
"Hayami, my girlfriend." Aya put an arm around the hat stand and snuggled up to her, smiling adoringly. "I met her today. She's wonderful!"
"Oh, stop! You're making me stain," Hayami laughed, nuzzling Aya tenderly. "Ahhh, I'm so glad I met you..."
Marisa looked at Reimu. Reimu looked at Marisa.
"Right, here we go," Reimu said quietly. "One, two, three-"
Hand in hand, they toppled over backwards in a dead faint.
Chapter 28: Day 28: Mystery
~What's In the Box?~
Sanae ran across the Myouren Temple courtyard, her froggy wellies clomping on wet flagstones. She held a plain wooden box in her arms. "Guys! Guys, look!" she cried, halting in front of Ichirin and Minamitsu. "You have to see this!"
Minamitsu frowned in confusion. "See what? A box?"
"No no, what's inside the box!" Sanae clarified. She flipped the open and held the box up to their eyes. "See?"
Ichirin's jaw dropped. "Wow...!"
"I don't believe it! One of those?!" gasped Minamitsu. "You have to show everyone! Hey, Byakuren! Shou! Nazrin! Sanae's got a-!"
"Excuse you, some of us are trying to meditate here!" Jo'on glared at her from beneath an expensive umbrella in the zen garden. "What could be more important than inner peace and stuff?"
"Look!" Sanae held the box so Jo'on could see in side.
Jo'on squinted towards her. "Is that...? Oh, my gods!" she gasped. "One of those?! But it's- it's in perfect condition! Where did you find it?!"
"Lady Kanako dug it up in the abandoned clay mine!" said Sanae proudly.
"Just lying there..." breathed Jo'on, shaking her head. "It could've fetched such a vast sum at auction!"
"Is something happening?" Byakuren emerged from the temple, a curious look on her face. "An auction? Oh, good morning, Sanae!"
"Morning, Ms Hijiri! I was just showing this to everyone." Sanae held up the box for Byakuren to admire.
Byakuren gasped. "No way...!" she whispered, a hand over her heart. "One of those, and a big one at that! But how?! They haven't made any more since-!"
"Surprise!" Nue came skipping up the temple stairs, a black raincoat on her shoulders, a large pie and a tanuki in tow. "Mamizou and I made a salmon and dill pie for lunch. I hope you're all hungry!"
"Oh, a... a pie? That sounds lovely!" Byakuren was sure they were up to something, but it wouldn't do to accuse her without evidence. "Leave it in the kitchen for now. Sanae was just showing us her, um..."
Sanae nodded. "You're never going to believe it, but Lady Kanako found this in the old clay mine! Look!"
Mamizou and Nue (and the pie) crowded in around Sanae, who held the wooden box up to their eyes. They gasped when they beheld the small object inside.
"One of those?!" breathed Nue. "But- but it still has all the liquid! How old is it?!"
"Why, there's hardly any discolouration! The long thingy and those little pieces look as good as new!" breathed Mamizou. "Did she really find it in the old mine?! I can't believe it!"
"Oh, yes! I watched her dig it out!" Sanae confirmed.
"Well, all right. You'd better be careful, anyway. A lot of collectors are going to want to get their hands on that wonderful little item," Mamizou warned her. "Don't lose it, now!"
Chapter 29: Day 29: Quest
There may be a quest on offer, but Alice doesn't want it.
~Chronicles of Anar Themariel Book 1: The Lay of Light and Shadow~
Alice woke up to a fierce banging on the door. A couple of minutes later, she swung it open in her nightgown and greeted the stranger with a scowl. "Yes, can I help you?!"
"The amulet... You must deliver it to the Council of Four before the full moon!" A tall, bearded old man pushed past her and staggered inside, bleeding from several nasty wounds. "You are our only hope, o sorceress of dolls. You must not allow Lord Zanvargon to take take the amulet..."
The stranger collapsed in a terrible fit of coughing, holding out a small silver necklace inset with a pale blue sapphire. It glowed softly in his trembling hand.
Alice bent down and picked up the amulet, regarding it with mild curiosity. "Does it do anything interesting?" she asked.
The stranger gave her a look. "Only if granting its bearer the power of a god while slowly driving them mad as interesting."
"Oof." Alice bit her lip. "Well, I'd better keep it out of the way until somebody can deal with it."
"Weren't you listening?! You must take the amulet to the Council of Four! We have only a few weeks, Zanvargon's forces could be here in a matter of hours..." The stranger groaned. "But first, perhaps you might put the kettle on?"
"Oh, very well, since it'll probably be your last meal!" Alice stuffed the amulet inside her pocket. "You do have a nerve, though, dropping something like this in my lap."
"Believe me, sorceress, you were far from my first choice," coughed the old man. "But Zanvargon leaves us little choice."
"Yes, yes..." Alice busied herself with the kettle. "Who is this Zanvargon person, anyway? Can he read Japanese?"
"He is the son of Iliataria, goddess of light, a foul sorceror who profanes her sacred gifts! Zanvargon craves power at any cost, up to and including his mother's overthrowal and devourment of her sun!" The stranger frowned. "By 'sun', I of course mean the celestial body in the sky, not a brother of his."
"Iliataria would be another name for Amaterasu, then?" said Alice, pouring the tea into round china cups.
"Amate-what-now?" The stranger coughed in confusion. "Is the one of the dwarvish gods, or...?"
"All right, never mind," said Alice. "You're clearly a lunatic. I'll let Reimu look after the amulet; my grimoire's enough to be going along with, and she can surely take care of any profane gods who show up. Do you take sugar?"
Chapter 30: Day 30: Rest and Relaxation
~Yuuma Sleeps Off a Big Meal with Friends~
"I don't feel good after that tar pit," groaned Yuuma, rubbing her full stomach at the side of the path.
"I did say there'd been a rabbit in it," Yuyuko pointed out. "Besides, you really need to cut down on tar. You know how it makes you feel."
"Stupid cut stupid down on makes me confounded feel mrrmglnmzfsmp..." grumbled Yuuma. "Ooough, it really hurts! Help."
Yuuma stretched herself out like a cat, grimmacing from the dull but constant agony.
Youmu bit her lip. "Should we do something, Lady Yuyuko?"
"Of course! Well..." Yuyuko beckoned Youmu closer and whispered in her ear. "We don't particularly want Yuuma to start feeling at home in the surface world, do we? So we'll allow her a few more hours of suffering first."
"Oh..." Youmu contemplated the idea, then her face brightened. "I know! If I cut her open, it should relieve the pressure!"
"Ah, let's not be hasty, Youmu." Yuyuko laid a hand on Youmu's shoulder before she could take any drastic measures. "Perhaps we'll just lie here with her for a while. A solidarity snooze, if you will."
"I can hear you, you know," said Yuuma. "Aaargh, ahhowww... Why me?!" she sobbed.
"Budge up a little, will you?" Yuyuko lay down beside the tormented taotie, making herself a bed among the grass and flowers. "Come on, Youmu, it's lovely down here!"
"Er, well, all right!" Youmu lay down beside Yuyuko and tried to get comfy. "This really isn't how I thought today would go."
Yuyuko wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Isn't it nice to get a chance to slow down, though?"
"Well, yeah..." sighed Youmu, snuggling up to her. "Having a nap with a monster who eats everything is definitely what I'd call relaxing."
"I can hear you!" snapped Yuuma. "Pair of pricks," she sighed. "Owww..." she whimpered.
Chapter 31: Day 31: A Memorable Day
Writing a Gensokyo Festival entry every day has been quite “full-on”, but I’m getting a handle on how I tend to work and how much I can reasonably do in a few hours. With that handle, it’s been an enjoyable challenge. My last entry involves Flandre.
~Let's Raise a Glass to a Blazing Lass~
It was a warm, sunny day, and Flandre was getting quite sweaty under three layers of frills and a pink parasol as she wandered through the gardens. There were still some things to get used to about going outside, and the worst of them could well have been temperatures.
"Come back at tea time, young mistress, and we may have a little surprise for you!" Sakuya had said with a wink. According to her watch, it was getting quite close to tea time, so Flandre turned back.
It was a five-minute walk between colourful flower beds and rustling green trees, her buckle shoes clapping on the path, before Flandre reached the mansion's front door. She kicked off her shoes, pulled on her inside combat boots and wandered in.
The hallway was dark and empty. Flandre looked around in amazement; there were always lights on, fairy maids running up and down and music playing on the radio, but not that afternoon. Frowning in confusion, she padded along the carpet, calling out to whoever might me listening.
"Hellooooo?!" shouted Flandre. "Sakuya? Big Sis? Patchie? Marisa? Anyone home?!"
The lights came on at once, revealing a cheering crowd with a huge strawberry cake. Remilia, Sakuya, Meiling, Koakuma and Patchouli were all there, Okina, Yuyuko, Youmu, Reimu, Marisa and Sumireko too. Flandre gasped and stared in amazement as a big pile of confetti flumped directly on top of Remilia.
"Aargh, you stupid-! I told you to pour it properly!" snapped Remilia, glowering at the fairy maids wrangling the confetti bucket. "Well, never mind. Happy combativersary, Flandre!"
"Combativersary?!" cried Flandre.
"As of today, it's been one year since you defeated Yuuma in battle!" explained Sakuya, glowing with pride. "She was supposed to be here for a rematch, but unfortunately she seems to have come down with food poisoning, so she's in hospital now."
"I tried to warn her about the tar pit," said Yuyuko regretfully, "but she simply had to tuck in! Don't you find it annoying when people can't think about anything other than food?"
"Er, yes." Sakuya's face was set in stone. "In any case, this party is to celebrate a charming young Incident-Resolver whose phenomenal power has enabled her to accomplish what most would call impossible! Flandre Scarlet, slayer of Toutetsu and defender of the surface world, would you care to say a few words?"
"Um... Do you do this for everyone?" Flandre could still scarcely believe her eyes.
"Only when Remilia's funding the cake!" giggled Marisa, giving Reimu a nudge. Reimu folded her arms and stood on her dignity. "Usually we take a new Incident-Resolver out for a drink, but in this case, your sister wanted a proper celebration."
"Well, er." Remilia's face reddened. "Aside from dealing with meteors, I never really thought you would, um. I mean, I'm proud of you, Flandre! We all are."
"Oh, it- it was easy!" Flandre waved her away, blushing vividly.
"Don't be so modest, Flandre! The combat system in Submerged Hell of Sunken Sorrow is almost impossible to get the hang of," Okina chided her.
"W-well..." Flandre laughed nervously. "Do you really mean it? You've never been proud of me before, Big Sis."
"I know, it is a very unusual experience! But yes, I do mean it."
"Oh!" Overcome with emotion, Flandre ran fowards and gave Remilia a hug.
"A-all right, no need to be soppy!" Remilia half-heartedly tried to push her away before she could kiss her on the cheek.
"Come on, everyone, be soppy!" Sakuya dove in and squeezed them both as tightly as she could. "My little Incident-Resolver!"
"Augh..." groaned Remilia.
Reimu cleared her throat. "So, about this cake."
A chorus of groans and knowing laughter arose from the crowd.
"I-I'm just saying!" Reimu just said. "We should have the cake while it's at its best, not leave it to get stale. People make food so it can be shared and enjoyed, not locked away behind glass panels and admired until it rots! Leaving this gorgeous, beautiful cake alone would be to deny it its purpose, and wouldn't that be a shame?"
Meiling laughed. "She does have a point. Do you want to cut it, Flandre?"