[x] Turbulence Sign 「Violent Storm That Splits the Earth and Heaven」
[x] Sword Skill 「The Teachings of Sojobo」
[x] 「Delusionary Cage」
“Okay,” you place your mask on your face before drawing a single slip of paper. “I’m ready to start, Miss Aya.”
“Okay then!” she replies with a grin, flying back to put some space between the two of you. She waves her hand at you, her precious camera resting in her other hand. “Give it your all, Miki! Don’t be afraid to hit me!”
As if you’re expecting to be able to hit her. Nonetheless, you swipe the spellcard across the air, holding it up above you as you declare its name.
Turbulence Sign 「Violent Storm That Splits the Earth and Heaven」
Putting the card away, you unsheathe your sword, holding it horizontally in front of you. Taking a hold of the flat of your blade with two fingers, you slide them across its surface, and as you do, the metal begins to glow with a haunting green tint.
Spinning your sword, you hold it out in front of you. You concentrate, bending the current of the air to your whims. From the ground below Miss Aya emerges a tremendous force of wind, visibly tangible yet so far harmless. Ready your blade, you slash the air, shaping the blasts of wind into crescent-shaped blades, converging around Miss Aya.
“Your control’s gotten better, Miki!” she yells as she clicks her camera, taking a picture of the many crescent waves surrounding her.
You do your best to ignore her as you focus on the blades around her. Splitting apart, they swerve and loop around, their movement serving to confuse and render themselves unpredictable. And then, with a sudden jerk, the crescent blades of wind rush in, attempting to surround Miss Aya completely as they home in on her.
Click. Another photo taken. She’s managed to dodge every single blade, too, diving through, under, and to the side of the barrage. Well, you figured she wouldn’t fall for something as easy to see through as that. Still, this is just warm up, after all.
The blades swerve from their course to resume their attack on Miss Aya persistently. But this time, you reach out with your free hand, clenching your hand and then unclenching it. With that motion, the blades split apart into many smaller blades, each moving much more erratically than before.
“Oh, nice move!” Miss Aya says with delight as she readies her camera to take a picture and herself to dodge the oncoming attack. Even though the bullet swarm is thicker now, she has no problem weaving through them all. “Okay, this one’s clear! Next one, please!”
You dismiss the current spell, ending it. Reaching into your shirt, you produce and second spellcard, holding it up into the air and loudly declaring the name of your next attack.
Sword Skill 「The Teachings of Sojobo」
“Ah, a spellcard based on the tengu king, huh?” Miss Aya grins. “You’ve been doing your homework, Miki!”
Ignoring her, you bring your sword in front of you again, holding it vertically this time. With two fingers on the hilt, you charge the blade with lightning, giving it an eerie purplish-blue glow. Then, holding your sword with both hands, you dig deep into the air beneath you, standing as if your feet were planted on the earth.
You take a tremendous leap forward, somersaulting in the air as you hop over Miss Aya, and as you pass by overhead, eight bolts of lightning strike down from the blade of your sword, crashing to the ground and becoming like a pillar of light forcing their way towards her.
“Lightning magic, huh?” she notes as you turn back to look at her, weaving through the pillars of lightning you sent at her. Having failed to hit their mark, the pillars fizzle out into the air, leaving only a slightly burnt taste of air. “That reminds me: you used to be scared of thunderstorms, didn’t you?”
“Yeah,” you say simply as you charge your blade with electricity once more, leaping over Miss Aya and sending the same barrage of lightning pillars in your trail.
She takes a picture of your lightning-charged hop, not even needing to look to dodge the pillars. “Ahaha, I remember, whenever there was a thunderstorm, you’d cling to me or Momi and bury your face wherever you could. I thought that was adorable, you know.”
“Please don’t drag up embarrassing memories like that, Miss Aya,” you say as you jump once more into the air. But this time, as you’re situated just above her, you stop your momentum and bring down your sword at the air as hard as you can, calling down only a single bolt of lightning.
“It’s a rather fond one for me, though,” she says as she sidesteps the bolt. But the bolt swiftly fragments itself, into a circle of eight separate pillars of lightning, spreading itself out. It seems to take even Miss Aya by surprise, as she just barely manages to squeeze between two of the pillars. “Whew, that was close,” she says, sniffing the air as if she smelt something singed. “Okay, I’m done with this one!”
Letting out a heavy breath, you release the spell. Just one more ought to be enough for her, right? You draw your third and final spellcard; your ace in the hole, as someone might call it. It took a lot of practice to be able to consistently pull this one off, but you’re confident that you’ve mastered it by now.
You place your sword back in its sheath. You won’t need it for this one. You reach for the sky, palm facing up. Manipulating the breeze around you, you mold it into the shape of a long, rough spear. Grasping its shaft with both hands, you begin to spin it around, scattering bullets to surround the field around you and Miss Aya.
Stage one of the spellcard: limiting the area of the battle. With the bullets surrounding the two of you, there’s no way she can escape the next stage of the attack; you needed narrow space to use it effectively, after all.
Stage two: the serve. You hold your spear in one arm, taking careful aim at Miss Aya, who’s already taken a picture of the bullets surrounding her as well as of you in your ready position. “Hah!” you grunt as you chuck the spear with all your might.
“What’s that? Only one bullet?” Miss Aya laughs, easily dodging the thrown spear.
The moment you throw the spear, you give a burst forward, speeding around Miss Aya to the exact point where it will end up. Your hand drifts to the hilt of your sword, and you draw it in a flash in the instant that the thrown spear is within striking distance. The blade repels the spear, changing its trajectory completely. Without losing its momentum, the spear turns around and shoots at Miss Aya.
“Eh?!” she’s completely taken by surprise, but impressively she manages to get out of the way in the nick of time.
But you had already begun to move the moment the spear had changed directions. You give a burst of speed, circling around Miss Aya and deflecting the spear towards her again, and each time you reflect the spear, it not only retains its original speed, but also gains additional momentum from each blow you inflict on it.
You’re forced to pick up the pace as well. The environments become a blur as you strafe around Miss Aya, but you manage to it the spear toward her each time; practice had paid off, and it feels natural to be able to hit it around without even thinking of where it will head next.
“Eeesh!” you hear Miss Aya yelp. You can’t be sure, but you think you can see her figure dancing around the air frantically, dodging each pass of the spear by a hairbreadth.
But your body can’t handle going this fast for so long. You’re out of breath. You grip the hilt of your sword with both hands as you prepare to deal the final strike. The spear shoots straight at you, so fast that you would definitely fail to react to it if you hadn’t knowingly moved to that position.
“Hyah!” you yell as you swing your sword down; the spear changes direction one last time, changing its shape into something much larger and wider. That’s it. You’re done. You don’t even care if it hits Miss Aya or not.
You release the spellcard, placing your hands on your knees and panting hard. That spellcard might still be too much for you right now. Miss Aya might be able to go that fast all day, but you certainly aren’t.
“Well done, Miki!” you raise your head to look up as she floats up next to you, rubbing her cheek. “You actually managed to hit me with that last attack, kinda. I’m impressed!”
“Just a nick?” you say, a little disappointed. You’re still out of your league when compared with her, you guess.
“Hey, that spellcard actually had me break a sweat. That’s more than I can say for a lot of other youkai, you know,” she says, beaming proudly. “But anyway, thanks for your cooperation.”
“No problem,” you say, still trying to steady your breathing.
“No, really. I’d say you deserve a little something special,” she says with a grin. “Be right back!” she takes off, into the distance. But she’s not gone for long; within fifteen seconds, she’s back and holding something in her hand. “Here, a present.”
She gives it to you, and you accept it with both hands. It’s… a camera? “Huh?” you raise an eyebrow, holding it up to take a better look. It’s… brand new.
“I noticed you investigating the flower incident by yourself,” Miss Aya explains. “And seeing you discover your own inquisitive nature and the desire to uncover the truth moved me deeply!” she says with a serious expression, before winking at you. “… And no self-respecting journalist would be found without a camera to call their own, right?”
“But Miss Aya, this looks expensive…”
“Oh, believe me. It was.”
“I would have been just fine with one of your old cameras…”
“But then it wouldn’t be a real present, don’t you think?” she says. “And… ah…” she averts her gaze, sheepishly scratching her cheek. “I figured I kinda owe it to you. I’ve given you a lot of trouble, haven’t I?”
You can’t disagree with that, but even so…
“Ahaha…” you laugh, rubbing the back of your head, feeling a bit embarrassed. “Thanks, Miss Aya. I’ll be sure to treasure it.”
“Guard it with your life if you have to,” Miss Aya says solemnly, before breaking into a lighthearted laughter. “Now, come on, it’s almost time for lunch.”
You smile, tightly holding your new camera in your hands as you follow after her.
“Hello! Is anyone in there?” you call out as you knock at the door of the shabby looking building in front of you. Situated in the outskirts of the Forest of Magic, the building was small and there was quite a mess left outside of it. Above the door was a large sign that read in large characters: “Kourindou.”
Without warning, the door suddenly opens. A bespectacled face cautiously peers out from the slight opening in the doorway. A tall man with silver hair. “Yes? What is it?” he says curtly.
You hold out the rolled newspaper in your hand towards him, not deterred by his rather rude tone of speaking. “The newest edition of Bunbunmaru Newspaper,” you say.
“Oh, I see. From Miss Shameimaru, correct?” he asks as he opens the door just a bit wider; enough to take the newspaper roll from you. “Strange, though. She usually delivers it herself.”
“She said she was busy today, so I offered to run it for her,” you say. There weren’t really many subscriptions outside of the tengu, though, so it didn’t take too long to distribute them. “She said you’re a dedicated subscriber.”
“Well, I suppose I am,” he says, unrolling the newspaper and taking a glance at the front page. “I do live a little isolated from the rest of Gensokyo, so I don’t mind if the news is outdated.”
“I see, that’s good,” you say, smiling. “Do you like the articles?”
“They’re interesting,” he says, his eyes scanning the page. “I particularly enjoyed the article where she accused me of “double-timing” the Hakurei shrine maiden and the black-white witch.”
… What does “double-timing” mean?
“Well, thank you for your support,” you say, bowing.
He nods, rolling up the newspaper and giving you a brief wave before closing the door again. He’s not exactly the nicest guy in the world, you think. Oh well.
You lift yourself up off of the ground, turning your back to Kourindou as you float up into the air. Intending to return to the mountain, you begin to jet over the sea of trees in front of you.
w h o a r e y o u t o G E T I N M Y W A Y
You suddenly lose control of your flight, dropping out of the air. Painfully, you fall through the leaves and branches of the woods below you. You hit the ground, scattering grass everywhere. You feel sore, but you don’t think you broke anything in that fall.
Damn… was it another one of those attacks? No, your body feels fine, except for the parts of it that will surely be bruised next morning. You get up off the ground, dusting yourself off. That was strange. You jump into the air, expecting to be carried up by the wind as usual.
But instead, your feet hit the ground again. Why can’t you fly? You still remember how to do it, but your body refuses to rise into the sky. How frustrating. But you need to get out of this forest fast; you’ve heard rumors that strange things can happen to you if you breathe in the spores of the mushrooms here for too long.
Unfortunately, you’ve never exactly had the best sense of direction, so you have no idea where to start. It would be so easy to find a way out if you could fly, but if that was an option, you wouldn’t be stuck like this.
You lift up a foot to begin walking. As you take a step, however, the surroundings change. The trees are gone, the grass is replaced instead by barren earth. Two paths present themselves to you; one leading to the left, and another to the right.
But before you can take another step, something grabs your ankles.
You fall flat on your face as that something drags you back by your feet. With great strength, that something tugs at you, and you desperately attempt to claw at the ground, to cling to it to stop yourself. But it’s futile, and soon you’re enveloped by complete and utter darkness.
The feeling of your feet hitting the ground again jerks you back into reality. You shake your head, feeling dazed. What was that, a hallucination? Well, whatever it was, you’re back in the forest. You haven’t moved at all.
Ugh… you’re starting to feel nauseous. Your eyes are burning. They’re itchy and painful, and it hurts just to keep them open. You want to rub at them, to claw them out; anything to make the constant pain stop.
You take two wobbling steps forward before crumpling into a heap and passing out.
Tick, tock, tick, tock.
You wake to the rhythmic ticking of a large grandfather clock. Blearily opening your eyes, you take a look around you. A small, impressively tidy room greets your blurred vision as you sit up. Looks like someone’s put you in a bed.
You reach up and touch your face. Your mask is still on. That’s good. Taking another cautious look around the room, you make sure the coast is clear before you take off your mask, setting it on the bed before running your hands over your face. You rub at your eyes with the back of your hands. They’re still irritatingly itchy, though not as much as before.
Placing your mask back on your face, you sink back into the pillow, still feeling tired.
[ ] Head out of the room.
[ ] Rest.