By the time we drew close to the forest, the sun had already begun its long decent toward the horizon, the shadows growing long and the light dimming slightly as we approached. A thin mist of sorts hung over the mysterious place, giving it an ominous look and obstructing any identifying features that might make navigating such a place easier.
I'm not ashamed to admit that I did kinda shudder as we headed deeper into the forest. During the day this place wasn't so bad as one could at the very least see where they were going, but at night, it was a whole other story. Not helping matters is that some
Youkai and other creatures might have used the dark as a way to get the drop on us.
The bamboo stalks stood a good twelve feet in the air, their grassy leaves spread out like a half-finished tapestry that allowed the occasional beam of light to pass through and light the interviewing paths through the forest.
"This place hasn't changed in the slightest," Reimu huffs, "Just as creepy as ever." The dull silence that hung over the forest only helped to add credence to Reimu's observation.
"That, I can agree with," I blew on my hands and rubbed them together as we kept moving, "Say Reimu? I don't suppose more Youkai come out during the night and are more aggressive?"
"Sure, more youkai will come out when the sun sets, but at least its not a full moon tonight," Reimu shrugged, not looking particularly concerned about the youkai that might happen upon them, "You should have been here during the full red moon... This place was literally swarming with youkai." She didn't bother answering whether or not the ones at night were more dangerous than the ones found during the day, which in my eyes spoke leagues about just how confident she was.
Whether that counted for arrogance was an topic I would rather avoid touching.
"The mist is a bit thinner during the day, but I suppose there's no helping it," Marisa ran her finger along the edge of her hat, "I'll blast anything that moves, so don't worry James, we'll get to Eientei safe and sound, da ze!" It was a little odd hearing that line from a girl, but oh well...
We kept going for some time and before long, I started to wonder if we were walking in circles as all the paths eventually seemed to start blending together as one. Just as we passed by what appeared to be the very same bamboo stalk stump for the fifth time, Reimu tripped over something huddled by the side of the path.
"Reimu!" I ran to her side and helped her up,"Are you alright?"
"I'm fine!" Reimu stood up and brushed herself off, turning to the culprit whom had accidentally tripped the shrine maiden. Before her stood none other than Wriggle Nightbug, one of the many youkai inhabitants of the Bamboo Forest. Wriggle was a girl with blue eyes and short teal hair and bug-like antennae on her head. She wore a white shirt with stylized long sleeves, a black and red cape and blue baggy shorts with brown shoes.
"You have a lot of guts attacking me again after I beat you so badly last time," Reimu pointed her purification staff directly at the girl's forehead, "But after pulling a cowardly stunt like that, I'm not gunna go easy on you!"
"I didn't attack you!" Wriggle protests, "I was just minding my own business when you bumped right into me!"
"I won't listen to any of your excuses!" Reimu flew up into the air, spreading out a large number of talismans in front of her.
"Uh, Reimu? I think we got bigger things to worry about than someone tripping you over!" I shouted out to her as I ducked behind a tree as I figured I knew what was about to happen,"...She's not gonna listen to a word I say is she?"
"Nope, probably not," Marisa shook her head and sighed, "You know how Reimu is. She never stops once she's made up her mind about something, da ze~"
"If you think you can just kick me around, then you've made two mistakes!" Wriggle turned and whirled her cape as countless insects of various sorts came to her assistance. She waved her hand and divided them into groups before directing them toward Reimu, using them as bullets against the shrine maiden. Despite her strong words, however, the outcome of their fight had already been decided.
Reimu dodged and weaved between the waves of insects, throwing her own talismans back at the firefly youkai in return. Time after time they pounded away at each other, with Reimu having the clear upper hand the entire time. Bamboo stalks shattered and were blown apart as the two girls clashed until, at last, Wriggle gave up, falling to her knees despondently.
"Another annoying pest dealt with..." Reimu brushed her sleeves off.
I gnarled my teeth at the sight of this. Yes, I knew this was just Reimu being Reimu but in my eyes this was the equivalent of bullying, especially since she was doing this to someone smaller than herself. "Alright, Reimu, I think that's more than enough.." I walked out with my hands raised and slightly annoyed with her,"You've had the chance to vent your anger, now let's at least get Wriggle's side of the story.."
"You wanna talk with the pest, go right ahead," Reimu crossed her arms in front of her chest, "Thanks to her, we've lost sight of the path, too..." I was honestly quite tempted to give a snappy remark to her, but I had more important things to worry about right now.
I knelt down beside Wriggle and helped her to sit properly while I got out a first aid kit."There we go...so, Wriggle, right? You gonna be ok? And what were you doing just lying there on the road like that?"
Wriggle looked up timidly, her wide eyes large and round, gleaming in the dim light. They welled up with tears, but she somehow managed to keep herself from crying, "Why are you being so nice to me, human? Don't humans hate youkai?" The firefly youkai did not look badly injured, just slightly bruised and battered from taking some direct hits from Reimu's talismans.
She sniffed, "Well, I set out from my home this afternoon to find something to eat and I found a nice tuft of grasses by the side of the road. I bent down to gather some when the shrine maiden bumped into me." Wriggle's antennae bounced up and down, "I guess she couldn't see me crouched down in the mist..."
"Are you implying something?" Reimu cast an irritated glare in Wriggle's direction.
"Wriggle, would ya happen ta know da way ta Eientei?" Marisa asked the youkai, possibly trying to make sure another brawl wasn't started over simple misunderstandings or the like.
"Eientei?" Wriggle blinked, "I don't know what you're talking about..." She turned back to me, still looking as nervous as ever, "You didn't answer my question, mister..."
"Hmm?" I glanced up at her as I got out the ointment for her,"What does you being a Youkai have to do with anything?" That made her eyes widen a little as I started packing up,"I can't speak on behalf of other humans but I don't need a reason to help someone in need, especially when they're hurt. Besides, you didn't mean to trip up Reimu, did you?" She shook her head, "Than you got nothing to apologize for,"
I applied the ointment for her, ,"There we go...also, I trust you know of the earthquakes that been happening lately? We're trying to figure out what's causing them and we think Princess Kaguya can help us. Do you think you might be able to help us find a way through this mist?"
"I like you, Mister," Wriggle smiled, her cheeks flushing slightly, "By Princess Kaguya, do you mean that person that's always fighting with the fiery girl every morning and afternoon?"
"I can't think of anyone else who'd match dat description other than Princess Kaguya, da ze~" Marisa nodded, "Would you happen ta know where she lives?"
"Hm... Does she live in that big mansion?" Wriggle blinked, somewhat unsure.
"Yes, that would be Eientei..." Marisa sighed, "Talking with idiots like her makes my head hurt..."
"Only idiots call other people idiots, idiot!" Wriggle stuck her tongue out at the witch, then turned back to me with a friendly smile, "In that case, I can show you the way, Mister..."
"Is it just me, or is James being hit on by a bug?" Marisa turned to Reimu.
"I don't know, but if she doesn't cut it out soon, I'm gunna kick her butt again," Reimu huffed.
"I heard that!" I called back to them as I helped Wriggle up to her feet,"That would be appreciated, thank you. By the way,the name's James White...or you can just call me James, Jimmy, Jimbo, any of those names will do."
"I'm Wriggle Nightbug, A Bug of Light Wriggling in the Dark," Wriggle introduced herself as well, "Pleased to meet you, Mister James." She waved her hand and tiny lightning bugs began to glow in the distance, forming a line for the group to follow, "This way... I leave some of my bugs behind so I can find my way back in case I get lost, see?"
Me, Reimu and Marisa followed after Wriggle, who guided them through the seemingly endless rows of bamboo by simply walking toward the next lightning bug. As they passed by, Wriggle gathered them up, presumably so she could use them again later.
You know, some people really underestimate the usefulness of certain powers. I mean, Wriggle's ability to control bugs and insects may not seem like much on paper...until you stop and REALLY think about it.
I mean, she could have Black Widows and Scorpions suck the life out of you or poison you altogether. She could have termites tear down a building from the inside out. Even these lightning bugs were great for finding your way through pitch darkness. Her control over certain insects means she could be one heck of an assassin. Kill her target with a dangerous bug bite and practically nobody would ever figure out it was you.
The more I thought about it, the more scary such an ability seemed to be...I guess I should count my lucky stars she's on our side for now, and that she doesn't know the full extent of her abilities...Or maybe she DID know and simply kept quiet out of respect for the Spell Card Rules. Yeah, best not to touch that topic with a ten-foot pole."So, Wriggle, right? What you make of these earthquakes that been going on lately?"
"It doesn't feel natural in origin, so I think its a powerful youkai of some kind causing a fuss underground," Wriggle mused, "Power is everything for youkai, you know, so its probably some kind of challenge to another youkai, or perhaps to all the other youkai in general... I haven't heard anything for certain from the others, so that's just what I think it is."
"It doesn't feel natural, you say?" Reimu's interest peaked a bit.
"Mhm... When the ground shakes, it feels a bit off, you know?" Wriggle replied, "Its like when you drink an artificially-flavored soda instead of a naturally-flavored soda."
"I don't see how soda has anything to do with this," Reimu's shoulders sagged with disappointment.
"Hey, Mister James..." Wriggle fidgeted nervously, "Do you... Like bugs?"
Reimu reached for the firefly youkai, but Marisa held her back with her arms, "You can't just take out our guide, Reimu... At least wait until we arrive at Eientei."
I ignored those two in favor of answering Wriggle's question, "Me? Like bugs?" If this were an anime, I'd be sweatdropping right now,"Uh...well..bugs are kinda hit and miss with me. There are some I like and some I don't like. Butterflies are probably one of my favorites, especially the whole growth and maturation they go through from caterpillar to cocoon to a butterfly.."
"I like them because well...they kinda represent freedom for me. Being able to go wherever they please and not have to answer to anyone's authority...I like the way you used the lightning bugs to guide our way too. The way you use them is kinda cool."
"You think I'm cool?" Wriggle's blush deepened. She held her hand open and a large butterfly flew over to her, its brightly-colored wings fluttering as it stood upon the palm of her hand. I won't lie, that was a pretty nifty trick there.
"You're quite the lady's man, aren't you?" Reimu remarked with a hint of distaste lacing her words, "Stop distracting the guide or we'll never get out of here... Where is that darned Mokou when you need her?"
"It is a bit odd that Mokou hasn't shown up, now that you mention it, da ze~" Marisa glanced about, noting how silent and still the forest was at the time.
"Come to think of it, you're right.." I acknowledged Marisa's comment as I glanced around the forest,"I mean, isn't Mokou suppose to be like a guide for people lost in the Bamboo Forest? Doesn't talk much but generally likes people but if you come upon Kaguya, you best run to the hills before Mokou whips out the phoenix wings?...That Mokou, right?"
"Definitely the same Mokou, da ze~" Marisa nodded, "But she don't seem ta be around at da moment... P'haps Kaguya knows something 'bout that."
We kept going deeper into the forest until, suddenly, we stepped into a clearing. Even the fog simply vanished as we stood at the front entrance of a massive Japanese-style mansion complex, Eientei. The interconnected buildings had an old-timey sort of feel to them, an aged elegance that blended well with the rustic surroundings and endless lines of bamboo stalks. Youkai rabbits scurried about on the grounds, looking up from their work to give curious looks to the travelers. One of the rabbits, easily identified as Reisen by her timid appearance and distinctive clothes, approached.
"Excuse me..." Reisen held up her hand, "Would you happen to have business with the Princess?"
"Yes, so let her know we're here before I barge in and let her know myself," Reimu barked, clearly not in the best of moods.
"Princess Kaguya is resting in her room," Reisen tried to maintain control of the conversation, "But I'll let her know that you are here and you wish to speak with her."
"Stop making excuses and tell her already!" Reimu waved her staff in Reisen's face, and the lunar rabbit sighed and turned back toward the house without further ado. I felt kinda sorry for the poor girl, especially considering Reisen is among the most reasonable
and kind-hearted characters in my eyes so I can't say I approved of Reimu snapping at her.
"That was uncalled for, you know," I quipped and to which Reimu only snorted. I leaned against a tree with my arms folded,"So...you guys sure Lady Kaguya can help us figure out this riddle? Because while I would like to go after Yukari, she's kinda napping right now...and basically said I won't be seeing her again for a couple of days, so until than we're on our own.."
"If anyone can figure that riddle out," Reimu shrugged, "Then it would probably be Kaguya..." She turned to Wriggle, "You can go back to plucking weeds or whatever it is that you do all day."
"I'll do that," Wriggle nodded to Reimu then turned back to me and gave a small bow, "Thank you for your kindness, Mister James... I won't forget it, I promise!" With that, the firefly youkai hurried off back into the bamboo forest without a trace.
"With one troublesome person gone, another is sure to take her place," Reimu sighed as Reisen returned from speaking with the princess.
"Princess Kaguya would be happy to speak with you. Please follow me," Reisen gave the group a polite nod before leading them inside the front entryway. The interior of Eientei was much as one would expect it to be. The paper walls were richly decorated with drawings and ink prints all along the main hallway. Reisen directed them down the left wing, around the edge of the lush interior courtyard gardens, until they reached the wide double-doors that stood between themselves and Kaguya's personal quarters. The lunar rabbit carefully slid the doors open and allowed them to pass inside.
The lunar princess Kaguya herself sat at a low table, under a kotatsu as expected. She wasn't eating tangerines, though, as she seemed to have been reading a newspaper instead before her guests had arrived. She had an other-worldly beauty and elegance, her smooth, ivory skin and pleasant smile could have captivated the heart of any man she wished. It was no wonder that so many men had vied for her affections in the past.
"Hello," Kaguya motioned for her guests to join her around the kotatsu, "Please make yourselves comfortable..." She folded her hands in her lap after giving her guests time to take their seats, "Tell me... You must have some reason for coming to see me, because I know you would not come all this way just to pay me a social visit."
Wow, so this was princess Kaguya in the flesh...like, the REAL Kaguya. She was...well, to put it bluntly, very beautiful. Yeah, if she hadn't gotten a guy before, what chance did I possibly have?
No, the best thing to do is focus on why we were here,"Thank you for allowing us into your home on such short notice, Princess Kaguya.." I bowed my head to show some respect to the princess,"Our apologies for the suddenness of our arrival, but we're in need of your help..."
With that, I set about, once again, with help from the others, explaining what was going on and about that blasted riddle I'd been given.
"So you came here to ask me something like that?" Kaguya's voice conveyed a sense of amusement rather than annoyance. She held her sleeve up in front of her mouth and laughed, "Well, if that's all you wish to know, then its a simple matter, really... The riddle is talking about the one most important thing in the world. Can you guess what that is?"
"Money?" Marisa interjected herself into the conversation, "Power?"
"Love, silly," Kaguya could barely contain herself, "Why would you think either of those things would even make sense in the context of a riddle such as this?"
"Love, eh..." Reimu shrugged, "What does love have to do with anything?"
"Its quite simple if you think about it..." Kaguya smiled, "She said that she wants you to meet someone who wants to meet you, but doesn't know it yet? That's clearly referring to your future lover, whoever she might happen to be. Yukari is trying to tell James that he needs to fall in love with one of the girls here in Gensokyo. How exactly this has anything to do with this incident that you're convinced is right around the corner, I really don't have a clue..."
Love? Seriously? Something so cheesy and cliched was the answer to the riddle? This puzzle had just gotten even more confusing for me, and judging by the face Reimu was making, we were pretty much in the same boat.
"Hm... In that case, there's something else I'd like to know," Marisa spoke up again.
"What might that be?" Kaguya asked.
"Where did Mokou run off to? We didn't run into her in the Bamboo Forest, da ze~" Marisa shook her head.
"Oh, that... I killed her earlier today," Kaguya replied in a nonchalant manner, "She probably just hasn't regenerated yet..."
I cleared my throat, "Um...Princess?" She looked over in my direction with a warm smile, "I need to ask...Yukari mentioned Gensokyo was lacking in something...but how can that something be Love?"
"Perhaps you have not realized this yet because you are new to Gensokyo, but the concept of love is not exactly well-established here," Kaguya explained, "The girls here are all so busy fighting each other over petty differences that they put little or no thought to romance. Even marriages here are more firmly rooted in establishing family ties rather than out of love and affection between the two persons involved."
Kaguya shrugged, "Yukari probably noticed that love is more important in your world than in ours and thought that she could transplant some love from that world to this one as a way of remedying the situation."
"You must realize how ironic it is for you of all people to point all of that out, don't you?" Reimu looked over at Kaguya with a cynical eye.
"Hmm..." I could only nod along to her explanation,"I suppose you have a point...that's very much how a lot of marriages worked even in my own world up until...well, maybe not even two centuries ago, if even that..."
"More often than not, marriages were used mainly as a way to make a family stronger or wealthier, or just more powerful in general. It was less about genuine love and affection, and more about what you or your family could get out of it. It was less about love, and more about duty and commitment..." Kaguya looked over to me.
"I've looked at enough history books in my life to know that, while marriages out of love weren't the thing of fantasy, they weren't exactly common either. Often times, one member just wanted an heir to their fortune, or to "keep the family's bloodline going"...heck, many unions fell apart just because the woman couldn't produce an appropriate heir for the husband. Those folks forget there's much more to life than just power, wealth and status...and lose sight of what's really important.."
I than realized I was rambling,"Oh, um...sorry about that, didn't mean to go off on a tangent like that.."
"I suppose I'm not the only one who is a hopeless romantic," Kaguya gave James a pleasant smile.
"Hopeless romantic? The girl who sent men off on impossible tasks when they asked her hand in marriage?" Reimu remained firmly critical of the moon princess.
"How would you like to be constantly pestered by hundreds of men who you have never met relentlessly asking you to marry them?" Kaguya countered, "I did not even have the chance to get to know them... Perhaps my methods in dealing with them were not entirely kind, but I really did not have many options available to me."
"I guess you have a point there..." Reimu sighed, "That would be incredibly annoying."
"So, James... Is there anyone in particular that you have taken an interest in?" Kaguya asks in a completely innocent manner, "Perhaps I can help pair the two of you up!"
The sheer suddenness of being asked such a question startled me so much I recoiled and fell over backwards,"Ack!" I could
hear the girls laughing and chortling above me"T-Taken an interest?" Geez, did all the girls around here love pushing my buttons?
"Uh...well..I can't say for sure...I mean, I've only been here for like one day. I'd...like to get to know the people before making any big decisions...what you need to understand, Miss Kaguya..is I'm not the kind of guy who likes to rush into a relationship and what not...I hope that's understandable?" I sat back up, feeling like I was about to turn into a pumpkin.
"Of course," Kaguya laughed, "I was just teasing you, James. You need not get so worked up over a little joke... You have almost three entire weeks to make up your mind, so there is no need for you to rush. Take your time and get to know a few girls, and I'm sure you'll find your answer before long."
"That's just dandy, but what about us?" Reimu slammed her hand down onto the table, "Are we just supposed to wait around while Romeo here makes up his mind on what girl he fancies?"
"You're all welcome to stay here for as long as you like," Kaguya smiles, "As long as you don't steal anything, of course..."
Marisa stiffens up slightly, "Ha... Ha... I wonder what she means by that..."
"Yes, I wonder what indeed..." I rose an eyebrow in Marisa's direction before turning back to Kaguya, "So, I assume you know of the earthquakes that been going on lately? Apparently, we found out from Wriggle that other Youkai have been hearing them too.."
"Yes, but they have been rather weak earthquakes, so far at least," Kaguya nodded, "They really aren't anything to worry about just yet. I have no idea how you getting a girlfriend could help a youkai underground change their mind, either. Perhaps you should talk with someone who lives down there? I'm sure they would have a better idea about what is going on than I do."
"We can work the details out in the morning," Kaguya turned toward the door, "Reisen, would you kindly prepare some rooms for our guests? Oh, and do make sure that Marisa's room doesn't have any valuables in it. We would not want to tempt the poor girl, now would we?"
Reisen peeked her head in through the doorway and nodded, "I'll work on it right away."
"Thank you, Reisen," Kaguya smiled then turned her attention back to those seated around the table.
"Not that I ain't grateful, but are you sure you have no problem letting us stay the night, Miss Kaguya?" I asked politely,"I just want to make sure we're not intruding on you or anything.."
"Of course not," Kaguya giggled, "I love having guests. It gets a little boring around here at times, so I appreciate the company. Besides, it sounds like you're about to get involved in something interesting in the near future. I would not want to miss out on something like that."
"There is just one thing that I'm still confused about," Marisa spoke up once again.
"What might that be?" Kaguya asks.
"Where are the tangerines?" Marisa says in a completely serious tone.
"Its not the right time of year for tangerines," Kaguya replies.
"I see..." Marisa nods.
"Now if you'll excuse me I really should be getting ready for bed," Kaguya stands up from the table, "I'll chat with you all more in the morning. See you tomorrow." With one last smile, she left the room.
Figuring we should share a few more words before turning in ourselves, I looked to the others, "So...we may've finally figured out what Yukari's riddle was all about..the question now is how does that apply to the situation we're in? What's your feelings on this, girls?"
"I feel like we've been had," Reimu crossed her arms indignantly, "I should have known better than to trust Yukari's riddle to actually shed some light on the situation."
"I think Kaguya pointed us in the right direction," Marisa suggested, "We should go to the underworld tomorrow and pound some answers out of whoever we happen to come across."
"We could also try talking to Tenshi," Reimu considered, "She might claim that the earthquakes aren't her doing, but I get the feeling that she's trying to hide something in the very least... My instincts aren't off the mark very often, either."
"It's always good to trust your instincts," I nodded in approval,"But let's try not to jump to conclusions either. I feel we should do both though, cover more ground that way...what you guys feel more comfortable doing first? Going to the Underground, or going to Heaven?"
"I think we'd better pay Tenshi a visit first," Reimu said firmly, "Otherwise, we might have to go to the Underground again if she tells us something worthwhile."
"She's probably had a good smack-down coming her way for a while now either way," Marisa shrugged. However different Reimu and Marisa's personalities may have been, they often agreed when it came to beating people up. Somehow I knew arguing with them was out of the question when they got in the mood.
"Excuse me," Reisen tried not to interrupt the conversation, but felt it was necessary, "But your rooms are ready, so please let me know when you want to be shown to your rooms."
Upon hearing Reisen, I turned and nodded in thanks to her,"Thanks, Reisen...well, girls, it's been a long day, for some more than others...I think it's time we got some sleep."
"Alright," Reimu stood up from the table along with Marisa, "But I'm going to take a bath before turning in... Might as well, since I'll be staying at a place with its very own bathhouse, right?"
"Wait for me, Reimu!" Marisa followed right after her, leaving Reisen a bit confused when the two of them ran down the hallway by themselves.
"Right this way please," Reisen turned to the young man instead and walked slowly to the right wing of the mansion, stopping in front of one of the guest rooms. Inside there was a fresh futon rolled out in the center of the room, with an extra change of clothes and a bathrobe folded nearly beside it.
"Thanks.." I turned to Reisen, now feeling a bit embarassed,"By the way, I...must apologize on Reimu's behalf. I don't think she meant to be so rude. It's just...well...I guess her job as the Shrine Maiden of Gensokyo takes priority over everything else."
"Don't worry," Reisen waved her hand dismissively, "We have met a few times before and I know how unreasonable she can be at times, but she doesn't mean anything bad by it..."
Reisen continued, "I feel like I should also apologize on behalf of the Princess. She can take her jokes a bit too far at times, and I hope she did not say too much to you today that made you uncomfortable."
"You seem like a kind young man and I feel bad about you being caught up in all this mess," she sighed, then smiled, "Reimu and Marisa often deal with things like this, but you're a bit different from them. You're just an ordinary human, aren't you?"
I let out a nervous chuckle,"Hehe...that obvious, eh?" I set my bag down on the floor,"Well...more or less. Honestly, I have next to no idea how exactly I'm suppose to contribute yet since it looks like for the most part everybody else is far, far more better equipped and capable of taking care of things..." Before she could speak, I put up my hand,"I'm not being pessimistic, more like realistic,"
"For now, the closest thing I have to protection is these.." I pulled out one of my Bomb cards to show her,"I managed to convince Yukari to give me three of these, but I need to be extra careful with them because once I use up all three, I can't get anymore..."
"So unless I start spontaneously calling forth supernatural powers like some cheap Shounen Hero bullshit or such...well, it's probably best I just duck and hide and let the real heroes take care of things."
"There are many kinds of heroes, James, more than the kind that fly around and blow things up," Reisen smiled, causing me to lift my head and look at her.
"I'm sure you'll find some way to help," Reisen offered a word of encouragement, "Even if you are just an ordinary human right now, it doesn't mean you have to stay that way." She bent down and took a look at the Bomb card.
"Well, if you can use those, then I don't see why you can't do more than just duck and hide," Reisen blinked, "You can't use those sorts of cards without at least a little magical aptitude... Didn't Yukari tell you that?"
It took a moment for her question to sink in,"Actually...no..she didn't. She just told me that if I ran into some sort of jam I couldn't get out of to use one of these and they would protect me from any sort of harm.."
"Technically that's true," Reisen nodded, "Assuming you know how to use them and that you have at least a small amount of magic to activate them."
She reached out and took the card, looking it over carefully, "These bomb have been modified slightly to use an alternative source of magic than the user's... Most likely Yukari's instead of your own. That makes things simpler."
The lunar rabbit then held the card above her head, "To use them, you simply hold them above your head like this and snap your fingers, and they should activate on their own... I wonder why she didn't bother to tell you about it on her own." Reisen held the card back out after she was finished.
"My guess is she wanted to troll me a little.." I took back the card and put it away,"Honestly, it wouldn't be Yukari if she just came out and said what was going on. Nope, gotta dance around the issue and give a bunch of vague hints...and judging by what little I know of her, she's had a very long time to get good at that art.."
Gosh darn it, Yukari. Not even bothering to tell me the rules to this particular game, "But enough about Miss Border Youkai for now...Reisen, right? Have you heard of any strange happenings going on around Gensokyo lately?...you know, weirder than normal anyways?"
"Hm..." Reisen thought for a moment before replying, "Not really. I've run a few errands back and forth over the past few weeks, but none of the human villagers seem to have noticed anything amiss..."
Her ears perked up, "But now that you mention it, I have been picking up some strange waves on occasion. I'm not sure where they are coming from, but they aren't particularly strong or concentrated in a specific location. Given that waves generally start at one point and travel to another while spreading outward, this is rather odd."
That last thought piqued my interest a bit,"Strange waves? How exactly are these strange?"
"Well, they were waves intended to influence some sort of behavior, but they were far too weak to even effect the weakest youkai," Reisen replied, "If someone was trying to cause an incident of some sort by using waves in that way, why would they use such weak ones that they would not even be noticed? At first, I just thought it was just another one of Tewi's pranks, since she knows I'm the only one perceptive enough to pick up on those sorts of waves."
"Hmm..." I scratched my chin,"Maybe whoever set off those waves was just giving them a test-fire? You know, performing a bit of trial and error? Testing them out to see what problems there are and then fine-tuning them from there? It's like taking an engine and giving it a jump-start...than you twist a few bolts, re-align some wires and you fire it off again..."
"Or...maybe the waves weren't meant to be noticed at all...maybe it's the kind that's meant to be so faint you don't even feel it burrow into your subconscious...until it's too late.."
Reisen seemed more interested in the second option, "That's possible, but on such a large scale it would take quite a while before there are noticeable effects. They were so faint that even I couldn't figure out what the waves were intended to influence people to do, exactly."
"I'll let you know if I find out anything," Reisen smiled, "Just get some rest, James. I'll come wake you up when its time for breakfast." The lunar rabbit stood up and turned down the lights before stepping over to the door, "Sleep well."
"I will, and thanks again.." Once she was gone, I slipped into my robes and huddled under the blankets, letting my mind wander over all that had happened,"Oh man...what a day..."
Let's see, in the run of one single day, I had: Met a fictional lady from another dimension, accepted an offer that sounded too good to be true, gotten teleported to said lady's home dimension, met a whole slew of other Touhou characters, got to to view TWO Danmaku battles up close and personal, figured out a rather bizarre riddle, and I got the sinking suspicion I was now involved in something a million times greater than myself...I just had yet to figure out what exactly I was involved with.
Yukari is up to something...and one way or another...I'm going to find out what it is. Somehow, I knew she wouldn't make it easy...but this was the path I had decided on, and I needed to follow it through and shape my own destiny. This was no
longer a game. This was real.
I let out a sigh,"Story of my life.." I figured I should get some rest. Something told me that I would need it if we were going to pay the Celestial Princess a visit,"1 day down...20 more to go.."
With the thought of what tomorrow might bring still lingering, I closed my eyes and was out like a light...
End Of Chapter 2