Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/09/04 (Fri) 01:30
The story will start in some hours, this is just a mood-setter.
To any unfamiliar, Make a fist./Make a fire. is inspired by certain games: the first story took notes from Hotline Miami, this will be inspired by Persona 5 and will take Shin Megami Tensei and newer Persona elements into account. First question:
 Bring me up to speed.
 No summaries!
This is a sequel. The first story isn’t very long, but IS an entire story. Anyone want a rundown of what happened to the protagonist (Joon) in the first tale?
an irritating little god of pestilence ran out of luck and had the shit kicked out of her.
She had come to the Land of Oni, Old Hell, and had lied too much for the ruling race’s liking. After they left her battered on they alleyway ground, she picked up her last grip of dosh, looked out into the brilliant city lights, and reflected.
Her name was Yorigami Joon, and though she denied it she’d come there to find her vanished sister on rumors of a “god” slavery ring.
Her pride made her tell herself that she was merely there to profit off of the truth-loving (and so, “dumb”) oni but when she found one in particular, connected to an old crime family, she couldn’t deny herself on hearing his word of trafficking. In exchange for his devotion, and information, she had to perform a miracle to earn his trust. She challenged Hoshiguma Yuugi to that end.
But this wasn’t a story of Joon’s natural and flawless power. She started at the bottom, smoldered and smoldered until she could burn brightly. When she challenged Hoshiguma Yuugi, a golden flame appeared at her heels to speed her. After pantsing the oni and getting a face full of her other head of hair, during the resulting horrific chase, that fire appeared at the fleeing god’s back.
Joon managed to start picking herself up then. She forged a bond with Hoshiguma Yuugi despite what she’d done to the ancient oni, learned how to fight, and began to slowly make herself known in the Underworld. In her searching she eventually found herself in the Palace of the Earth Spirits, to confront and try to get information from its master and mind reader: Komeiji Satori. In exchange for her help, Joon mentioned that she could use her powers as a pestilence god, and therefore a god of “hope” – if only for a moment – to possibly recover the mind of Komeiji’s thoughtless sister who she’d seen during Gensokyo’s Religious Wars topside: Koishi. Satori agreed, and Joon went to do just that, feeling the satisfaction of a proper exploitative scheme coming to fruition.
She did not exploit Koishi, however. The younger (and “blind”) satori read her unconscious thoughts and caught her off guard. Feeling a little kinship with the girl, somehow, Joon changed her plans and tugged the girl along for a night on the town. To her surprise, any emotion filling the empty-headed girl seemed to bring back her old, conscious self. The Koishi she discovered that night was timid and caring and – when they went to stop by someone Joon knew (Kurodani Yamame) – apparently becoming attracted to Joon.
Teasing this shortly became heartfelt concern. Joon fell for Komeiji Koishi that night, and the younger satori formed a bond with her as well. She vowed to let Koishi see the world once again through her third eye, without fear. Though, she wouldn’t be able to do so in this adventure...
Time passed and Joon found herself still unable to confirm where her sister was, if she was down in Hell at all. After a string of failures, ending with the immolation of a building and the disruption of a god-trafficking setup that did not involve her sister, eventually Joon found that a year had almost past with no sister—no Shion to show for it.
After asking for Yuugi’s help, the oni ruined a part of the underground city... and still they had nothing. On a bridge overlooking the ruins her mentor had created, Joon told Koishi how she’d gotten there, and of her past as a poor human on miserable streets in the Outside World, and of the scumbag she was... of the scumbag her sister was. There she honestly admitted to loving her sister, and let go the entire fortune she’d accumulated in the Land of Oni over its baffled citizens, burning it all in golden fire. Under the light, she saw a mark she knew to at a glance to be a member of a second ring of god-slavers. They chased him. They didn’t find Shion.
But, they did find out who had her.
At the end of their journey, Joon and Koishi went to the palace of another noted and ancient oni: Kane no Kinshi. This oni, Kane-douji, had bought Shion, who was a god of misfortune, intending to consume her and take the miserable goddess’s divine blue flame for himself. Joon fought intending to sacrifice herself for Koishi and Shion; Koishi fought intending to sacrifice herself for Joon and Shion. Shion refused their idiocy, and revealed a plan to curse the scarily powerful oni.
It went off, though not without a hitch. Ending in the mouth of the volcanic Youkai Mountain, Joon finally knocked the oni down and in the resulting, small eruption all three escaped. They witness the sky before dawn in Gensokyo, and collapsed with relief.
But Joon’s story wasn’t over, and they still had things to do underground. Her ambition and greed had never really vanished, either. She smiled. With her fist to the risen sun, the risen god swore that she would never change.
A golden god, with a gorgeous face... She’s dressed in sunset, and her hair’s like... well, honestly, like “amber waves of grain”, just bathed in early morning light. She’s a mature, proper-looking god in a dumb-looking hat. On the tabard over her front, she’s got the seven stars... the asterism of Gensokyo’s “Dragon”. Her flames... She’s got four different colors. You can do that...? I don’t know, but, the seven stars... four divine flames...
She’s some hot shit, then...
I take a seat. I’m not gonna test my luck.
She beams at me. Blech...
“Let’s get started,” she declares, and she waves a hand over the table between us. I look down at it.
“... Tarot cards?” I say. She spread a few out when she did that move with her hand, I guess. “You’re doing that scam? I know it.”
“This is no scam, my child: this is true power and ‘telling’. I will discern your past, present, and future.”
“Uh huh.” Yeah right.
She just smiles.
The god, Okina, puts her hand over a card. She turns it over, but only shows it to herself. Her eyebrows rise.
“Your past,” she says. “The Magician. What would you guess? Is it upright, or reversed?”
I fold my arms again. Well...
“Honestly, it could be either one,” I tell her. Huh... look at her, all happy with my answer.
She vanishes the card and takes up another. You’re not going to tell me?
“Your present. The Lovers,” she says, showing me, Guess not. “Upright.”
“What an adorable sentiment.”
“You been spying on me, old lady?”
“Yes,” she says without hesitation, she puts the card to the table, and it disappears too. “Lovers, hm...? I find it interesting... That satori you say you love, I suppose you like her quite a bit, hm?”
“... ‘Scuse me?”
I narrow my eyes at her.
“You know what I mean entirely, don’t you? Let us see your future...”
... This mother f—
“And there it is,” she says, ignoring my gaze and again hiding the card, “The Fool, upright. Endless possibilities, like the number zero it is given.”
“What...? It’s not the reversed Hang Man or something?” I ask, ‘cause that’d make more sense. “Reversed Fortune? Reversed Judgement?” Heh. “Or maybe it’s the Devil? Erected—I mean, upright? Pffheh, get it?”
“Crass,” she judges, still smiling. She then shows me the Fool card and says. “Unfortunately no, your future is uncertain. But, in so being... that is where I see your potential, my girl.”
“... Alright, if you say so,” I tell her, sinking in my chair. “But, if you’ve been watching, you do know I’ve been spinning my wheels in Gensokyo, right?”
“With a Lovers Arcana in your soul as you move ahead, I’m sure you will start drawing others like moths to flame, and when that happens... Well, I have high hopes. For now I will give you this gift, and ask that you do your best with it.”
“What’s the gift?” I ask.
“I can’t reveal it all to you just yet, sadly... You have to wake up; we’ve just about run out of time.” She’s smiling, with pity... “For now, just this:” she holds up a finger— “The first part of my gift is that I will reveal a special secret only to you. When you’re awake, and you understand what it is, come and see me again.”
Uh huh... “... How?” I ask.
“You’ll understand, my girl. After all, I don’t choose just anyone.”
I pat my girl’s butt over her bloomers and coax her off of me, swing my feet over the bedside and start toward the bathroom, making sure to avoid our clothes and some of the other stuff on the floor. We’ve gotta clean up.
Once I’m in front of the mirror, I take up my toothbrush from the cup on the sink, grab the toothpaste, and get to work. I don’t have to do this, but... Koishi kept giving me shit for just relying on the Fire to stay clean.
Makeup too... ✓
Throw a kiss at that cutie in the mirror, mwuh ♥ ✓
I throw on my clothes and jewelry, pick up my bag, head to the main area—
Yep. Sis is awake. I wait for her to tell me “good morning”...
“Good morning, Joon,” she says, lifting up from the couch (she has a bed—why does she keep falling asleep on the couch?).
“Morning!!” I answer with a bright smile.
“Going out already?” she asks.
“Got to. Tell Koishi for me, ‘kay Sis?”
I buckle up my boots, put my hand on the door.
Looking at Shion again, I wait for her to say, “have a nice trip”.
“Have a nice trip,” she says.
Yeah!! “I’m off!” I call back with a grin and wink, pulling down my shades—
—and I slide the door open.
The sound of birdsong explodes in volume, in a good way.
Wind tosses around my clothes, in a great way.
The Sun matches the color of the fire at my back (gold): and that’s hot (me).
I move smooth and swift down the dirt road.
Bad Bitch, Yorigami Joon: setting off!
Almost three years ago I ended up in Gensokyo, and quick I found myself in Hell.... eh, Old Hell.
I had to find my sister...
A lot of shit happened, but long story short: I saved her.
—We... saved her. Me and Koishi, together. We’re a couple. Yeah it’s been... nearly two years.
We saved Sis and then took care of some other stuff for a while down there. Took down some slavers—some oni yakuza, no thang. HA HA YES IT WAS A THING, THERE’S NO DENYING IT: I’M A FUCKING BADASS!!
I stop to laugh to myself on the road, cackling to the sky.
Then I look at the sky, through my sunglasses, light sliding off it fine.
A lot of stuff happened...
And now, I feel alright. Not perfect... no one’s perfect; but I’m good. A good bad girl.
—‘Kay! So! Today I’ve gotta make a bit of money, I think! Got a few places I could go... I’m not gonna “scam” people, I won’t! The Shrine Maiden... when we moved up here for real she seriously gave us so much shit...
“Where’s it, where is it...” I mutter to myself while digging through my bag (CHANEL: GENUINE).
“There it is.”
I pull out a little map I got from Moriya Shrine, closing one eye and gripping tight as a gust tries to take it from me.
“O... kaaayy... I hung around the kappa yesterdaaayy... soooo... today is, hm.
“Aight, the village, the... ‘Road of Liminality’—what—uhh... or the Temple. Hm.”
I poke the map in the locations as I name them, tracing through my notes. Then, I close it up once I’m done.
Well! First to—
 The Village, duh! It’s close by!
 The Myouren Temple is close by too, I guess. Place sucks, but... lots of suckers there.
 I don’t know what this Road of Liminality is but I think I heard it’s busy, so... Why not? It’s behind Youkai Mountain.
>>201658 This actually also uses background elements from stages 5 and 6/Extra (the Land of the Back Door) in HSiFS. Also, the (MASSIVE) original resolution, non-animated version of this is in the Make a fire. folder on mega ( ) if someone wants that. It’s “back door.jpg”; size is 4572x5234. Lastly in case anyone missed them, a few other neat things I whipped up are >>.underground/16543 and >>.underground/16544, from the first story thread. Alright, moving on:
[X] The Myouren Temple is close by too, I guess. Place sucks, but... lots of suckers there.
Our house is kinda out of the way, on a road between the Myouren Temple and the village. We moved in around the start of the month... seemed like a good place to set up. The village and Temple are both full of humans, which is helpful. Humans tend to have money.
Shouldn’t surprise anyone I get by and get some for Sis and Koishi by being... too charismatic. “Donations”... to the cause that is “one very charming lady, who just wants some spare coins—a little paper”. We got in trouble when we first came in and I went wild, haunting a buncha hearts so the three of us could have a blast for our surfacing debut. Someone told the Shrine Maiden, and that got her on our asses. Since then I’ve been careful-er...
“... There’s the scent,” I mutter while floating down a paved road. The smell of incense: a Buddhist temple. I wanna get there pretty early, while people are groggy and out of it. I squint as I get closer. This March feels like summer...
While I’ve got my head bent down, I start hearing the scraping of a broom over dirt and stone. I look up, and see a youkai sweeping at the temple’s open gates. A green-haired, fluffy-eared dog-lookin’ youkai: a small yamabiko girl named Kasodani Kyouko.
I holler at her, “Yo, morning,” and she perks up, her eyes sparkling.
“YO!” she repeats loudly, and I quail under the volume. “MORNIIING!!!” God damn!
“Yeah, hi,” I say, slouching now.
“Yeah, hi!” she repeats, beaming at me. Cute echo pup... “Oh!” She hops in place, surprised amd looking into my face. Like, real close: she leans in and I frown, backing away a bit.
“You’re wearing them today!” the kid says. “Your sunglasses!”
“I always have them on,” I tell her, touching one side of them and putting my hand on my hip. “What about it?”
“Over your eyes! Your eyes!” she exclaims. “So COOL!”
“Anyway, what’s up kid?” I ask. “Everyone awake yet?”
“You’re coming to hang out!?” Ohh... she looks excited.
“Nah, I’m here to work,” I tell her. “Maybe next time, alright?”
“Please! Please, Miss Joon!” Agh... a sweetheart...!
“Yeah,” I say with a smile. I pat her head. Kyouko’s a cool brat. I should definitely hang with her more. When I first ran into her she flipped at my coat and jewels. I guess she does dress real plain out here... I tell her, “See ya, then,” and start skulking into the Temple. She nods and wags her tail. Seriously... damn: what a temptress.
While I walk in a few other people greet me. It’s not busy, though. Let’s see... who around here looks like a chump? Myouren is (stupidly) a Buddhist temple with a mixed congregation of youkai and humans, so most of the humans are chumps. The youkai usually join because of the humans. I think I heard Kyouko’s in it for the teachings, but y’see the teacher...
“Hey!” MMgwha—!? Ah that’s... her... Not the teacher, one of the temple’s layabouts.
I stop my procession and turn to look at her while she marches over: Murasa Min... Mina, maybe? A sailor, or something, given her digs.
“What are you here for!?” she demands to know. I look up behind her, at the temple’s grand bell, sitting pretty near the entrance. Then I look at her. Her green eyes gleam and she narrows them. I slouch deeper, plucking off her sailor’s cap from her head as I go. Her hair shifts and falls around her face. Good ol’, luxurious black hair. Pretty! She should grow it out!
I twirl my hat around a finger. Anyways... “I’m thinking of joining,” I tell her.
“I don’t think we take gods,” she says, glaring at her spinning hat. “So shove off. You think anyone forgot what you did last time!? You’re awful for our reputation!”
Oi oi oi...
“Isn’t that tiger that lazes around here a god or something? Bishamonten or something? S’what you say at least. And another thing—” I let her cap go mid-spin and toss it at her chest. She catches it and frowns while I smirk. “—‘Your reputation’? It’s garbage, Mina.”
“Minamitsu,” she hisses and I roll my eyes. “To you it’s ‘Miss Murasa’! Or ‘Captain’!”
“I’m serious,” I lie, shrugging at her. “I want to join. Gimme a tour or something?” I may as well get her off my back. Maybe I’ll slip away from her while she shows me around...
“Really?” she asks with suspicion, crossing her arms.
I smile, very pleasantly, and “Really,” I tell her.
“... Fine, I’ll show you around,” she says, and I glow with false happiness. “It’s better than letting you walk around on your own...! Seducing the acolytes and—” Whoa.
I’m taken; I don’t do that sorta stuff anymore. That bit of bullshit nearly made me make a face at this bitch. But, I manage to just smile and nod.
“THEIR money isn’t YOUR money!” she tells me. Right. Until they give it to me... “If you’re promising to be a good pestilence god, then we’ll start now!”
Sure. I promise. Breaking promises is no big deal. With that, I straighten my back, put my hands in my coat pockets, and follow behind her.
= = = =
The Hell else can I say about Myouren Temple...? It smells like monks and sounds like madness. I mean, I don’t hate it... I know damn well how nice it is to give up everything and just live with nothing. Then again, burning money for shits and giggles isn’t quite the same as becoming an ascetic, I guess.
The teacher here is an idiot. I basically just came from a land of numbskulls and she’s probably the most “brute”-like bastard I’ve ever met. I’m glad she didn’t find me first when I walked in. Last time, she fuckin’ SOCKED me! On the BACK OF MY HEAD, GOD DAMN! Like, cool it! Was Buddhism a religion of violence!?
Anyway, that hag isn’t here...! And I can’t slip away from this ship bitch!
She keeps prattling on about whatever. She’s talking about... prayers, now. God...
“Heh... you look unhappy,” she says all of a sudden. I flinch and turn my eyes to her, pulling my sunglasses up and into my hair. “You don’t want to join, then?” Ugh... she looks smug...!
“Introduce me to some people!” I shout at her. “I know what Buddhism is, damn it! Show me some of the followers.”
Putting on a sad face, she asks, “So you can scam them...?”
“Not so I can scam them!” I say, holding up a hand. “It’s like, customer satisfaction! Questionnaires or whatever!”
“What are you talking about?” she looks confused. Right: this is Gensokyo.
“I wanna know if people are enjoying the place,” I tell her, looking away and returning my hand to my pocket. “Like, is it really that nice? Dedicating your mind to a philosophy or whatever?”
“You could just ask me,” she reminds me.
“Aren’t you still a cunt? Why would I ask you?” Like, seriously.
“Cu—!? I’m not a—” she sputters, totally taken aback.
I shrug, only glancing at her.
“You drown people, right? I think I heard that. That makes you a see-you-next-Tuesday.”
“Sh—Shii yuu...??” she repeats.
“EN-TII. ‘Cunt’. You know the word but don’t know how to spell it? Nuts.” I grin.
“Some of our followers came from the Outside World...” she explains, looking embarrassed. Hah. “But I haven’t learned English just from that. I only know what I know. Whatever! You’re from the Outside, too, right!?”
“Then I’ll let you meet Mamizou! She can deal with you! I’m done with you!” She mad.
“I didn’t say anything wrong, right?” I remind her.
“... I’ve gotten better,” she tells me, blushing red and looking away, “about who I drown... God damn it! Leave it alone! Come on!”
She reaches over and grabs the top of my ear. Hey, what—!
She tugs me forward and I nearly fall following her.
“St-Stop!” I yell. “I’m a... special guest!”
“You’re a punk who’s been given way more time and patience than she’s worth! Now shut up and come along!”
“Frrgh...!” I groan, following her despite not wanting to. Man, just last year I woulda been able to shoulder toss her or something...! Without faith, I’ve really been slipping lately...
I get pulled along by the angry ghost, frowning as she desperately explains how good she’s gotten since she met “Hijiri”.
It’s annoying. She’s loud, and I’m annoyed.
But, I do listen.
= = = =
“Eh? Just Kokoro?” says the ghost after opening the door of a small building and walking in. Rubbing my released ear, I follow behind her.
A standard five-tatami room. I’ve gotta say I’ve been digging the classic Japan aesthetic since coming back up. Down below it’s all ostentatious everywhere; extra...
So, who’s Kokoro?
When I step in and look around, my eyes eventually fall on a pink-haired youkai sitting against the same wall bearing the door, like she was hiding here or something. There’s a lamp in here, and windows but... lamp’s off, blinds are drawn. It’s dark... The youkai girl is hugging her knees and staring into the woven floor. Her face is frozen, and it looks like there’s a mask on her head, but from here I can’t see “of what”.
Minamitsu checks the room as well. Eventually she looks at the youkai and asks, “Did Mamizou have to do something?”
The quiet chick nods.
Minamitsu frowns, and glances back and forth. She looks at me. What, dude? “Hey...” she whispers.
I skew my eyebrows like, uh huh?
“This kid’s been feeling down lately, could you stay with her? Must’ve been urgent for Mamizou to leave her like this...” ... she says. Excuse me?
“Me? Don’t you hate me? Why the hell would you trust me with a kid?” You that desperate? You lose it?
She says. “We were talking about English earlier... there was an American who talked about getting people you don’t get along with to do you favors.”
... Ben Franklin?
“He said if you do that, you can end up friends. So, do me a favor?” she asks, smiling apologetically.
... Fuck! I wasn’t expecting a Ben Franklin pull and a face like this! Damn... Damn it...!
“Fine,” I hiss with my eyes shut. I hear a puff of breath from her nose, and feel her hand pat me on my shoulder.
“Thanks. I’ll be back ASAP. Heh, see? I know a few things!” she says.
I glare at her.
“Get!” I tell her, and she laughs and leaves, closing the door behind her.
I’m not... a babysitter. Well, this youkai chick’s not a baby though I guess. Is she a kid? How old is she...? Non-humans; it’s always hard to tell with ‘em... us...
She looks familiar.
“Uhh... hi,” I greet her.
She turns her eyes on me, and I raise my brow seeing them.
“Hi...!” she greets me back with surprising energy. “I am... Hata no...! Kokoro...” She deflates, and turns her chin back onto the tops of her knees.
“I’m Joon...” I say, walking further into the room. “Yorigami Joon. You’re a youkai, huh...?” Heck am I saying...
I stand at the wall across from her and lean into it, looking at her.
“Yes,” she says. “I’m a youkai... Menreiki...”
The mask on her head... or actually, it’s floating just beside her head, with a pair of long red tassels off its side... anyway: it’s of an old, crying woman.
“Menreiki”, huh... Ah!
She’s the one who gave Koishi hope! Or uh... the one Koishi went and took hope from...
... Shit, Koishi never apologized to her.
I hope she doesn’t know I’m her mask-thief’s girlfriend...
Whatever, I shouldn’t be thinking about that.
Yeah, I recognize her. Long pink hair; spooky, near-white eyes that are pink too... She wears an orange pumpkin skirt with cut out comedy and tragedy faces on it, showing her legs. Green-plaid shirt with cut buttons on it, and a bowtie. Yeah, I definitely remember seeing her... during the “Religious Wars”, when I was first scoping the place out. And Koishi’s mentioned her a few times when we talk about getting that eye back open...
“You’re a god, Miss?” she asks, picking up her head. Her face barely moves. I wonder what’s up with that... s’kinda creepy.
“Yeah,” I reply, folding my arms. “A pestilence god.”
“A pestilence god? What is that?” she asks. Hm... Her voice is... It’s nice. Really nice. It’s like, clear...
“I’m just a scumbag who lives off of others. I don’t uh... do... What do you do, kid? You scare people or...?” I mean, that’s the youkai standard.
“I...” she starts, but never continues. She sighs, heavily, letting out a “Haaah...”
“... What’s wrong?” I ask. I mean, I could tell she was in a funk just ‘cause I can always tell when there’s someone around who’s down in the dumps. S’how I find easy marks, but...
“... I can’t bother you with it, Miss Joon,” she says. “I have to carry this by myself.”
Ehh...? I frown at her, and bend a little. Strong kid...
“Eh,” I say, “I don’t know you so you can just vent at me if something’s got you down in the dumps, kid,” I tell her, leaning forward real casual and cool. “I got no one to tell. You ain’t gotta worry about it.”
“Hmmm...” Looks like she’s considering it. “H-Hmmmmm...” Uh...? “Mmg... hick... khh...” Eh?
Eh!? She’s cryin’! She’s cryin’! Oh, crap!
I didn’t notice it comin’ on ‘cause her face is so damn stiff!
I hurry over to her, bending down with my hands up and hovering over her. “Hey, hey! Chill, ki—Uh, Ko... Kokoro! Sorry! I wasn’t tryin’ ta... Ah, jeez...!”
She ain’t stoppin’...! Water just plips, plips down from her eyes and she keeps sobbing.
Quick! Look around the room...!
... Okay, no one’s coming...!
I reach out, and pat her on the head.
“There, there,” I say. “There, there, it’s alright, kid.”
She grips her skirt and hides her face with her knees. Khh...! Fuck it!
I take the back of her head with my other hand and pull her to my breast.
“Shh! Shh! Come on! We’re alone here, nothing’s gonna happen!” I don’t know what the hell I’m saying, man...! “Okay...? Okay...”
I hold her close. She cries onto my shirt. Gonna have to summon the flame for a cleaning after this...
It takes a few minutes but she calms down. I pull away and look into her blank, but red-eyed face, grimacing. I’ve gotta ask...
“... What’s the matter? Is it uh... ‘Hijiri’?” I guess. This is that monk’s temple, after all.
She shakes her head, her swaying pretty. “Reimu...” she says.
—!? The shrine maiden...!?
“What’s she—!?” I start to ask, but Kokoro shakes her head again. “... Okay, I won’t ask.”
But I wanna know...
I’ve got this rotten feeling. The Shrine Maiden’s a shit to youkai, sure, but she doesn’t make them cry, usually, I don’t think... While rubbing this mask-youkai’s head, I look down at her and think. If it’s the shrine maiden...
... I’m not afraid of her. I’ve had my back against the wall facing way worse. I might just confront that bitch myself and see what this shit’s about—Mhm, ‘cause, uh... ‘Cause if she’s acting up then that means I gotta worry about me, Sis, and Koishi, yeah!?
Then again bringing the youkai along to the source of her problems might be a bad move...
 Let’s just cheer her up. Run amok at the temple and try to make her smile (or at least put on a different mask).
 I’m taking her to the Shrine. I gotta, like... confront Reimu about this.
The Sun was sitting high over the Temple of Myouren, bearing down mercilessly on those acolytes who had decided to live on the temple grounds. Breakfast had begun, and as always(?) youkai and humans sat together. Surely they – the youkai – felt a second hunger rise upon seeing those humans plump themselves up! Eh, wot! ‘Twas a feast of decadence under the pseudonym of peace!
I’m still here by the way.
On my own I don’t have any powers particularly useful for pranking people. With me, I can cause a little non-discriminating misfortune (hits me too) but that’s about it: hardly reliable. But, hey, I’ve got a brain. A cool. cunning brain.
Anyway, I’m a god so I don’t get anything direct out of screwing with people, but that isn’t going to stop me from enjoying what’s about to go down. Plan and execution: perfect. My hiding spot: perfect. I’m on a roof, behind a huge decoration and overlooking the main area of the grounds. I’m rapt with attention. I really want to see how this plays out; it’s gonna be a goddamn blast.
On days when the weather’s alright the monks eat outside. That’s today, and they’re all having some sorta soup... broth or something. Willing to bet: vegetable soup. Sounds about right, for a buncha monks...
I look out across the way, at the building opposite mine. Across the courtyard, sitting on that roof is the youkai lynchpin here: little Kokoro. She looks my way, probably sensing my gaze. Can’t tell what mask she has on from here, but... everyone’s seated and ready, also, so she’s probably waiting for the signal. Maybe she’s excited.
Hijiri is out here too, of course. That gradient-haired, wrapped-tits witch is seated at some unremarkable place at a table, not at the head. There’s no “head” seat at all, actually... and yeah, I’ll give her that. Hijiri’s congregation is about a hundred youkai and humans strong, and they’re all seated at four tables down below. Now that everyone’s in the swing of things I give Kokoro a pair of thumbs up and nod. It’s on, girl! Let’s do this thing!
Instantly, I hear, “Wh-WHAT!?” from below and look down quick. Alright, so...
Kokoro is a Menreiki—a tsukumogami youkai, and she said she was made from sixty-six masks. She... “lost” one, though, so right now she’s made of sixty-five. Regardless it’s way more than enough for the hoodwinking we’re gonna have done.
So: that first scream. Kokoro and I both slip behind our chosen rooftop flourishes as we observe.
“What’s the matter?” Hijiri asks the young man who has now fallen from his seat down onto his ass. She looks ready to act. The youkai who was seated beside him – some wolf-type one, by the looks of him – gazes into his bowl. Aaaand: he’s perplexed. Didn’t find anything, eh?
Then someone else leaps from their seat. and another, and six other students. Soon people are hurrying from the table and chaos is buildin’ up fiiine. I smirk. I wanna hear it...! Someone say it...!
And someone cries, “A f—... A face in my soup!” There it is!! I start laughing silently, and super hard. Across the way, Kokoro is huddled into herself, balling her fists and unblinking at the scene.
“Head priest, you haven’t...!” an appalled human gasps at Hijiri, who’s now standing and looking crazy concerned.
“No!” she answers immediately. A bunch of youkai, with interests piqued, are gazing into soup bowls now.
“It was a woman’s face...”
“I saw an old man!”
“A smiling man...”
Hijiri yells, “It was just vegetable soup!” I KNEW IT! “Wasn’t it, Shou!?” She looks over at a decked out youkai with yellow hair, black lines running through it. The girl looks confused... Honestly it’s pretty goddamn cute.
A curious student (what looks like a jorogumo, maybe, from her outfit) picks up one of the human’s abandoned bowls and looks ready to take a sip...
“There was a youkai’s face in mine!” some other student calls. The spider girl spits out the mouthful she’d taken in. Oh god...
Whole thing is in shambles. About no one’s still sitting down: it’s a mass freak-out, and the youkai are trying to get a taste of those mysterious soup faces.
When someone else yelps while the congregation runs this way and that, Hijiri flies to that person and quickly peers into their bowl. She then – crazy, really – she fires her hand down into the wooden thing. When she does, Kokoro flinches. Uh oh.
I straighten my back. Hijiri pinches the face in her hands. Kokoro holds both her cheeks. I make an X with my forearms at her.
Jig’s up! Leg it! Leg it!
Suddenly, sixty-three bowls burst and flip over, and people start hollering as what looks like fox fire, pale and blue, starts flaring up over their tables. Fire burns in Hijiri’s hands too. The torches fly up high and vanish... then Kokoro’s body flares with the same phantasmal flame. Most of the torches: the one in Hijiri’s hands, she holds on tight to. Also, everyone saw Kokoro lighting up.
Uhh... going south fast!
Hijiri then bellows, “KOKORO...!” Ah shit...!
I hitch up my Chanel bag. I see Kokoro covering her mouth and, obviously, doubled over with laughter. I, uh, guess she didn’t notice that everyone’s noticed her... and they’ve definitely figured out what that was all about.
I spin my bag around my wrist a few times, then let it loose—hurling it down at the table in front of the head priest. My own fire gets up, and I will myself down to retrieve it, appearing before Hijiri in a golden flash.
Still clutching the last of Kokoro’s masks, she hops there, startled, and looks down at me, who just landed over someone’s breakfast. She says, “You...!” I just look at the mask Hijiri’s got. It’s a red oni, I think...
Anyway, I let my flames run wild and Hijiri fumbles for a second at the light. Through the fire I reach out and take back the mask, telling her, “Uh... gotcha?” before I jump from the table—with like most of the congregation in pursuit.
I fly to Kokoro and shove her mask against her chest. The monkey appears over her head again and she says, “What? What?” while turning her head this way and that.
I say, “Up!” jump over her and grab her shirt by the shoulder, pulling her with me.
She apparently sees the, like, sixty plus youkai and a few humans on my tails, because she soon shouts, “Oh no!”
I feel her turning over. She quickly gets to my side as we try to escape.
“They found out!?” Kokoro asks me, that monkey still over her head. I nod once, telling her:
“That Head Priest has crazy reflexes...”
We both drop to the ground and enter a building backward, probably throwing off a good number before they can notice. I grab the youkai girl’s sleeve and pull her into a room, over a table, and then through a window, reversing and winding to some other building. I look over my shoulder and see that a few noticed what we were up to.
We end up slipping through more rooms, kinda making a mess and losing a few more with every weird slip we make. Eventually, I think we actually manage to lose them, and I allow myself a look at Kokoro, smiling at her. Now a mask that looks wild with laughter is over her head: anyone could tell what that means. We close our eyes and beam at each other.
And I feel something slap against my face. I crash down in the dirt. I hear Kokoro falling too. I get up on a knee and grab at my face, pulling off a... It’s paper?
Something flies into my vision, stopping before my eyes. I stay firm, and glare at it: a staff.
... No: a gohei.
In front of me, dressed in traditional red and white, but not quite “dressed like a shrine maiden” (her sleeves are detached, and shrine maidens don’t wear skirts or uh... “hair tubes” or bows...) is who else... The Hakurei. And she doesn’t look happy with me.
“You again,” she says. Her dark hair blows with a passing breeze.
“You mess with Myouren?” I ask her, smiling at the rod aimed at my face and glancing now and then at the paper tassels off its end. “I thought you left them to their own devices or somethi—”
“Not when I hear about humans being eaten so near to the village.” Ugh... she cut me off. “You’re lucky it was just a prank, but I’m still going to punish you.”
“Uh huh... Well...”
I glance at Kokoro. The monkey has returned, and she’s fumbling with a seal that landed right across her eyes, forcing them shut.
 Throw Kokoro under the bus. Technically, you didn’t do it!
 Preemptively cover for Kokoro. Say it was all you.
“Yeeaaah I figured I’d help her out out of the kindness of my heart when I spotted her laughing on a roof,” I cut Kokoro off, and she starts flapping her lips uselessly. So, I go on, saying, “Just, figured I’d help save her even if she did wrong. It wasn’t all that wrong so it’s right, right?”
Closing my eyes, I start thinking to myself: this one’s in the bag. Then, something thwacks down on my head—hard. I buckle, and collapse onto my bent forearm. Fuck... Why’s it feel like I got slammed with a hammer...? My brain’s on fire...
“Wh-Wha—” I try to say, and then I feel paper falling and sliding across my ears. This has... gotta be her gohei again...
“Shut your mouth,” says Reimu, and I do shut it—into a grimace. “Why would you say, ‘gotcha~’—” she puts on an impersonation of my voice for that “—if you weren’t involved? You’re definitely a culprit, I’m just not sure how yet.”
“You really acted fast, huh... I heard you were lazy,” I mock her.
“Didn’t I tell you to shut up?” she says, and I hear the clink of metal against metal. My clothes all shake, and I turn my eyes to my sleeves. What the... she... stabbed me down!? With needles!? Huge friggin’ needles—I’m friggin’ pinned! I think she stabbed up my skirt, too!
“I had a feeling it was Kokoro acting up, so I came over as soon as I could...” saying that, at a sorta low volume, she takes the gohei from my head and I watch as she turns to face Kokoro...
Again, the tsukumogami jolts with surprise. “R-Reimu, I wasn—” she tries to say, but Reimu just throws a hand out forward. I pair of heavy-looking orbs appear at her sides, and a flurry of seals leaves her sleeve. Every one of those seals hits Kokoro, who falls down to the ground again as the paper binds her in place. Her mask switches over to the old, crying face.
“So you’re a screw-up and you’re being a nuisance to people on top of that? You know I’ve exterminated you before. You want me to make it permanent?”
Kokoro shakes her head quickly.
“You’ve got a mouth, right? USE it!” Reimu yells, and the orbs beside her flash.
The seals binding Kokoro start to shine, too, and then... then she just starts screaming. Watching it—hearing it, I go cold fast.
“Not like that, not like that...” says Reimu. sounding exasperated. She raises another ofuda in her left hand, and promptly throws it down, covering Kokoro’s mouth with it. This doesn’t stop her from screaming... but does muffle it. “Tch! Now you have to nod or shake your head, like some broken mute...” Reimu puts her hand on her hip, and the orbs flash again. The seals glow brighter, and Kokoro starts bending into herself, her stoppered screaming getting louder behind the gag. “Your face doesn’t work right, your mouth doesn't work right, your head doesn’t work right... We got this all fixed years ago, didn’t we? God, you’re such a disappointment... Stop YELLING already!”
Kokoro goes quiet, shutting her eyes and enduring the pain.
“So embarrassing...” Reimu mumbles, looking toward the main temple building. “I don’t need weird gossip spreading.” She flicks her wrist and most of the seals disperse. Kokoro remains on the ground, tears streaming sideways down her face. The needles leave my clothes and Reimu points her gohei at my forehead again. I look up at her, holding back an expression of defiance. “Put your hands behind your back,” she orders. I do it... I’m not going to ‘cause any trouble with THE exterminator of Gensokyo. A couple seals fly down and bind my wrists together. Glancing, I see a couple more do the same for Kokoro. Reimu rests her gohei on her shoulder and puts her other hand on her hip again, looking down between the two of us. “Both of you get up, I’m tired of making a scene,” she says. It’s hard to do that without hands... but, we both managed.
I guess I’m under arrest? The shrine maiden seems like she’s got a particular beef with Kokoro, though...
Keeping quiet, I (and a sniffling Kokoro who’s trying to hide her face) start to slowly fly, following Reimu to hers: the Hakurei Shrine.
= = = =
And damn it... she locked us up.
She said that she needed to think about what to do with us and said that it was too much of a pain to think about it now: she has stuff to prepare for some festival.
So, she locked us up: in her storage shed... She put a barrier in front of the door and stuffed us in a room full of gardening tools and old newspapers...
I’m standing against a wall; Kokoro is sitting on the floor. She stopped crying about a minute ago.
I should say... “So... uh... I’m sorry. I didn’t think that, uh... that would... happen.”
Kokoro shakes her head in silence.
“Sorry,” I repeat.
“You didn’t know...” Kokoro mutters. “I didn’t say. Though... you made the plan, Miss Joon. You should have taken responsibility as well.”
Pf... righteousness. “Yeah,” I say. “Sorry. Anyway, has she always treated youkai like that? It seemed really... harsh,” I observe, leaning forward a bit and looking concerned. I am concerned, like... That’s bad news.
“She’s treated me like that,” says Kokoro, “lately.”
“Seriously...? It’s really just you?” Why? Wait—I should ask that. “Why?”
“I don’t understand it... She’s been getting angrier and angrier with me over the last few months...” Kokoro whispers, still looking at the floor.
“Sure, but... what for?” I ask.
“Anything...!” Kokoro snaps, and a red, demonic mask appears beside her head. “Anything I’ve done! Anything I don’t do! Sh—... She started hitting me, and... being mean to me...! She keeps yelling at me, and telling me I’m worthless! And it... It feels like... I am...”
Tears start falling from her face again. I straighten my back, and listen. “She wants me make more shows—I... I make... shows: Noh plays...” she explains. “I made one and it did really well, we were all happy, and excited... I was happy...”
“But Reimu wanted more, and I can’t just make more, and every time she told me to it felt like maybe... I never can. I can’t do anything, and maybe my first play was um... ‘lucky’. It wasn’t ‘me’, it was an accident and, really, I’m just broken—” she points at her temple and slouches into herself, “—in here,” she says.
“What the ff...” I speak without thinking, stopping before the curse. I shake my head quickly. “She’s been torturing you like that? That’s...”
I thought I was a greedy shit, but this is crazy...
Well regardless I’m not sticking around here. I didn’t even earn any money today, myself...
 Get out of here now. Escape (easy enough to do).
 Wait until Reimu comes back before escaping. Got a bone to pick with her.
Yeah I'm backed up on all of my stories right now. But worry not! I'm also behind on everything else in my life right now. I don't know when precisely I can write more, but I definitely will... Best, BEST case scenario is after next week (assuming I don't find the space to write before then). If things are alright after next week then I'll have no problem picking up slack.
[X] Wait until Reimu comes back before escaping. Got a bone to pick with her.
“... I got you into this mess, I’ll get you out of it.” I tell Kokoro that. She lifts her head and tilts it, confused.
“But... Reimu sealed us up,” she says. Just as she finishes saying that, I burn away the ofuda around my wrists. She flinches from the flash and I pull my hands, unbound, out from behind my back. With a new mask over her head – a golden one, that looks like it’s yelling (I think it’s... “Raiden”?) – Kokoro yelps. “How’d you do that!?” she goes.
And, I grin. “Weeeell, I’m special,” I tell her, and I hold up a hand, showing the golden fire burning, translucent, around it. “I can cheat,” I say.
I move toward her. While I’m going she asks, “What? What, what—what is that?” I grab the seals around her hands and burn them away, careful not to burn her too. “Fire? Like this?” With her hands free she points to the—ah: it’s the monkey again. She points to that mask and notes the light blue fires consuming it. I shake my head.
“That’s just... I don’t know what it is but as a god I can feel: it’s different. Some gods can summon up divine flames from their backs,” I tell her, pointing at the three fires burning behind mine with the thumb of my free hand. “Mine’s got a lotta benefits... Alright, I think that’s everything. Get up.”
“We’re escaping?” she asks, holding her hands together. What the heck? She looks shy or something. I shake my head, and tell her:
“Go toward the Village... off to the side. You know the Youkai Trail? Head along there and take the side road with the blank sign. That’ll get you to my place,” I tell her.
“You’re hiding me out?” she asks.
I look at the door.
“Consider it payback,” I say, “alright? Like I said, I got you into this mess. I don’t want you hounding me over it once all this is over.”
“Huh...” she breathes. I walk over to the door and poke along the separation with a burning digit. Dragging along the edge, I break the barrier. I push the door open and look back at Kokoro over my shoulder.
“Get lost,” I say. “I’ll stay back; I’ve got something I want to say to the Shrine Maiden.”
Kokoro nods, and trots out after me. With the doors open, I lean on the outside wall beside them and start waiting. Kokoro stares at me for a little while, and I just stare back. Eventually, she takes low flight, and heads into the woods.
And I’m left alone. I glance into the shed and notice a stack of papers—newspapers, and magazines. I step over and take one out from the pile: a magazine. I don’t know when the Shrine Maiden will be back, I may as well pass the time.
“A resort, huh...” I mutter, looking at the cover. Fire flickers over my shoulder. Huh... it’s pretty much been an age since I was Outside, eh? I grunt an “Mm...” and open the rag up.
I got bored of the rag quick and tossed it on the floor of the shed, got back to loitering.
When I took out a cigarette... just a second ago... that’s when she showed up.
Fuckin’ perfect timing. I pull out my lighter from my inner pocket, gonna get this thing lit...
“... You’re kidding me,” she says as she approaches, looking at her broken seals and open shed.
“Nope. What you see is what you get,” I tell her. My lighter sparks, and the end of the cigarette burns.
“You’re going to smoke at a shrine on top of everything else?” she asks, assessing if her property’s damaged while I cross my ankles and take a drag.
I open my mouth and let out a cloud that glows gold.
“Shouldn’t matter much,” I say. “You’re stinking up the place plenty already.” I look over to the main building. Then, I look at the shrine maiden and clarify: “With those crap antics you’ve been pulling.”
“Since when were you into torture? I heard you were a more straight-shooting type. Like a gorilla or something,” I remark.
“You sure like running your mouth,” she grumbles. “What the hell are you even saying? ‘Torture’. What do you mean?”
“With that Menreiki,” I say. “That wasn’t torture?”
“Every? You basically put her on the rack in front a’ me. I didn’t need to see that shit first thing in the morning.” Seriously.
Reimu shrugs, holding her hands up.
“I’ve got no idea what you’re talking about. Since when did knocking your tools around to fix them become ‘torture’? Hammering them back into shape, breaking them apart, throwing them away—that’s what you do with tools.”
I stare at her with my eyes narrowed. She can’t be for real.
—Actually, wait: “She isn’t yours,” I tell her, slouching.
“She may as well be mine. I’ve given her a job, I saved her life a few years ago, she keeps going because of me. She’s a troublemaker, too. Weren’t you in the village at the time? You should know.” What the fuck is this bitch saying?
“Are you kidding me, Miss Shrine Maiden?” I ask, luminescent smoke curling between me and her.
“That’s my line. If you know what I’m like, you should know you’re already a minute past when I’d just get fed up and beat you down. Do you think it’s a good idea to push your luck?”
“Well, about luck... I’m not really a gambler unless I want to burn my cash away,” I say. Reimu straightens her back and crosses her arms. “Otherwise, I only work with guarantees.”
“Let me put it this way...”
I push back from the wall to stand up in front of her, my head bent. I take the cigarette from my mouth and lift my chin back up to meet her eyes again.
“I didn’t come out here to the Surface to have to watch my ass from the Law. I came here to get along without trouble, even if you pegged me for otherwise when we first had words, Shrine Maiden; that’s the god’s honest truth—and hey, I am a god. Even today was just a prank, really...
“But... let me tell ya this:”
I raise my knuckles up, and clench my hand shut.
“If you’re gonna keep fucking around with people for minor indiscretions... I can guarantee that I’m gonna beat your face in with my fist.”
“What?” Reimu growls. She even snarls at me.
“I said what I said. Consider that an open warning, alright human?” I reply.
She comes back at once, “Who the hell do you think I am? Who do you think you’re talking to? I could turn you into a memory with just a few seals, you know?”
And I say, “You... don’t know me. Where I came from, a little angry dog barking at you’s about as frightening as a flower waving around in the breeze. You don’t scare me at all, Hakurei. And if I don’t scare you, I guess this is what you call mutually assured destruction.”
“... Pfhaha, so, so—” she laughs, in disbelief, her eyes shut for a moment, “—you? A pestilence god? You’re telling me you’re going to protect some youkai? Gods like you don’t protect anything.” She meets my eyes.
“Don’t get it wrong, it ain’t even about her. I said what I said—so I guess your ears don’t work...” Hmph... Guess I’ll have to repeat myself. “It’s because I’m a pestilence god that I’m gonna be on your ass, ‘cause I know you’re gonna be on mine, or my sister’s, or my girlfriend’s if any of us slip up even once. Am I wrong, ya fuckin’ maniac?”
“I’ve totally had it with you, Yorigami Joon. I’ve had it with that tongue of yours,” she says, darkly. “I’ll pull it out.”
“Try it; I’ll bite off your fingers.”
“Eating flesh, huh. That’s more of a youkai thing.”
“You probably know: gods like me aren’t far off.”
“I exterminate youkai.”
“I don’t give a shit.”
We lock our gazes, both of us folding our arms and standing tall (uh, she’s taller than me).
Hmph... I haven’t felt tension like this in a while, huh...
I caaaan’t deny it: she’s kinda freaking me out.
But, I’m not gonna buckle under pressure.
Puttin’ the Menreiki aside... I have people I have to protect. Despite what she said, that’s the truth, and I won’t hesitate to stand up for them, no matter what.
My family... my loved ones...
I can’t stay quiet in a world where they’re not gonna be safe.
So I’ll stand up to this asshat, right here and right now.
And I’ll tell myself: I’ll be fine.
Because those two are always with me.
“So it’s a fight, huh...” ... she says.
“If that’s what you want, let’s go.”
“I’m the one who makes the rules around here, and you... you’re an outsider. If I want to... I don’t have to play nice, you know?”
“You saying you’ll drop the spell card rules for me?” I ask. “... It wouldn’t be the first time I met a corrupt power-tripper.”
We keep our eyes on each other.
... Well, here we go.
—Reimu suddenly yanks a fan of seals from her sleeve; I flare up with fire at once—
—and Kokoro lands between us.
Startled, I yell out, “Menreiki!?”
She suddenly flashes bright, blinding both me and Reimu, and I feel a hand tugging at my coat. I start running since I’m getting pulled. As the light clears from her fire, I see that she’s dragged me down the side of the small mountain where the shrine sits. We keep dashing through trees, too thick to easily follow us through. We go for a solid two minutes before I whisper, sharply, “Slow down! You’re messing up my clothes!”
And so, she slows down, and looks at me uh... “sheepishly” (well, that’s the impression I get). “... Are you alright? Joon.”
Where’d the “Miss” go?
“... I’m alright,” I tell her, feeling exasperated. I look around ourselves. “... Why the hell is it so dark...?” I remark, because seriously... “It’s like night fell or something. It’s not even twelve yet, right?” The forest isn’t that dense, is it?
“Mm,” Kokoro grunts, dismissively. “But, really, are you okay?”
“You got traumatized, huh. I’m totally fine. I’ve had to deal with a lot worse than a pissed off human before,” I say.
“That’s good...” No, it’s not good: it sucked. 2014/15 was fucking awful, a whole fucking lot of the time. “She didn’t do anything, huh.”
I nod. “Mhm.”
“So, I saved you...” she mutters. I frown, and glare.
“I don’t owe you anything,” I pre-empt her.
“That’s not it,” she says. We start walking through the brush and I notice her mask is a happy one. “I’m kind of a hero, huh.”
“Oi, oi, I was the one being heroic back there,” I tell her.
“You said it wasn’t for me.” Tcheh!
“Why were you even hanging around!? Didn’t I tell you to go to my place!?” I snap at her, animated.
“I was worried,” she said. “And now... I’m cool.”
“Ugh,” I groan. “What the hell did I get myself into, letting you tag along with me...”
“I can protect you if anything happens...” ... so says this gung-ho youkai.
I answer, “Nothing will, and if anything does I’ll be fine.”
“Because I’m here.”
“You’re testing me, girl.”
She laughs, but I’m not looking at her face. I wonder what that face looks like laughing...
... But, really, this chick is tough, eh? I think most people out there would’ve fallen to pieces by now from the stress... Almost especially a youkai—I mean: they’re weak to spiritual and mental attacks. Even I was a little off-kilter just standing in front of the Shrine Maiden. Jeez...
... Whatever, we keep wandering...
For real... where are we? Where’s the out? We should’ve found an exit by now. Did we hit the Border and start walking around it? I’ve heard space gets freaky when you reach it.
Shit... that’s a pain.
Eventually Kokoro ends up getting ahead of me, and she suddenly stops. She asks, “Joon, what’s this?”
I ask, “Where’s the ‘Miss’?” while stepping over to where she went.
So... Kokoro went and found this huge pair of metal doors. Like, just here: in the hillside.
... A shelter?
“Let’s go inside,” she says, and she reaches out.
“Hold up—we don’t know what this shit is about,” I caution her.
“Joon, you don’t have a sense of adventure?” she asks, glancing at me. Her eyes shine a bit through the shade. “Reimu can’t be following us anymore. Maybe this is a secret place for her. Maybe there’s treasure.”
“Well, if it’s hers and we can steal her shit,” I say, “bust it open. Go ahead.”
She nods. Then, she reaches out again and touches the right door.
At once, both doors open, sliding apart fast and with a scraping, sharp sound. Of course, we both get startled.
“That’s...! Uh...” I stammer. “Kappa!? This something some kappa made!?”
“Reimu wouldn’t let that happen....” Kokoro remarks. We both look into the opened way. It’s not pitch black—there are faint lights at distances juuuust too far apart to give a satisfactory, consistent visual within. “Okay, let’s enter,” says Kokoro, and she steps forward.
“Wait!! Why the hell are you so...!? F—Fuck...!” I can’t leave her alone, damn it! I end up following her in, and the doors shut behind us just as fast as they opened.
Unngghh... Bad memoriesss... Bad memories, man!
I keep my eyes shut and follow her footsteps.
I just keep thinking about Kane-doujii...
That asshole’s still alive, I think.
He basically let us go. I don’t know if he’s really given up, though...
And I really don’t want to have to come across him again.
But, I keep following her.
I open my eyes to a wince.
You know, there are actually a bunch of entrances to the Underground; it’s not just the hot springs out in the mountains. Not just Youkai Mountain or the geysers, either. How else do you think the spiders get out to help out the wolves and crows with building stuff? There’s a bunch of ways in and out... I’m saying I’m worried. I left that shit, I don’t want to go back. This move topside was basically supposed to be like retirement...
“I think I hear something...” Kokoro mutters.
I whisper, “What? Like, cave noises? Are we in a cave?” That’d be bad.
She shakes her head. I watch her pink hair sway.
“Music,” she says.
“You’ve got good ears, then,” I say. I keep following her. This place really is a lot like Kane-douji’s lair. Same stone floors, same stone walls...
“... That sounds like EDM,” I say. There’s a beat, pumping from somewhere else—from behind the walls. Heavy bass, driving rhythms... A dance party or something but—there’s the lowest chance that EDM would’ve made it to Gensokyo. Like, I guess some artists put stuff on records and some record players are here but like...
“EDM?” Kokoro asks, glancing at me slouching behind her.
“Electronic Dance Music. It’s in the name. Computer music...”
“This isn’t the place or the time for a lecture, Menreiki,” I snap a bit at her.
“Mamizou said there’s always time to learn...” ... she says.
“Okay that’s like the fourth time one of you Buddhists said ‘Mamizou’. I don’t fuckin’ know who ‘Mamizou’ is,” I growl at her.
“I’m not a Buddhist,” says Kokoro.
“Neither am I!”
“Neither is Mamizou,” she says.
“You’re something else...” I grumble, exasperated.
We turn left and keep going. The sound was coming from the left. Wait—was there a turnoff? Why’d we actually turn—did we have to?
We keep going. Honestly I’m a little curious now. Maybe this is a way into the Outside World? Like I said, it’s been a long time since I was back... but it might be a nice surprise if we can just turn back around and return to Gensokyo. The Shrine is like the gate between the two places, right? I could see it working out like that.
After studying the walls for a minute or two (‘cause there’s about nothing else to study) I glance at Kokoro again.
“How in the hell are you so carefree? Is this a youkai thing or are you just stupid?” I ask.
“I’m really smart,” she says, looking back at me with her hand under her chin, thumb up and finger pointed like a gun. The mask over her head is of like... an absurd, lips-puckered, whistling guy (Hyottoko?). I say:
“I think we’re near an exit,” she says.
“Yeah, maybe,” I admit. After all it is getting louder.
“What do we do if it’s really EDM?”
“You don’t even know what EDM is.”
“I know about computers. I was joking. They’re shikigami, right?”
“It’s Outside World magic,” she says. She’s begun to sway with the groove...
“Close enough,” I guess. “So you’re asking ‘what if we end up in the Outside World’?”
“I’ll know what to do, just follow my lead,” I say. She nods again.
And in not so long, we reach another pair of doors.
“... Are you ready, Joon?”
“Ugh... sure.” I’m still kinda apprehensive. This is pretty nutty. I think we’re actually somewhere up though, like on the Hakurei Hill? We were inclining—this might exit to the Shrine on the other side. I never went there—don’t know what it’s like. Yeah, I’m anxious.
“Hey, hey, hey! It is a party!” I shout, a smile winding up on my face involuntarily, real quick.
This place is, like, golden. Where is this!? I can’t tell! I think we came in through some service area or something. I wasn’t paying attention—were there side paths back there?
But yo yo, hey, this is a real fuckin’ scene! I haven’t been in something like since... I don’t even know! Aw shit, aw man—makes a girl want to go wild!
“This is... the shrine isn’t it!?” Kokoro yells, to be heard over the music.
“The shrine!?” I repeat, cocking an eyebrow. Is it the shrine? The Outside World shrine though, right? I look around.
There are massive buildings around us and rave lights from the distance—uhhh... old Japanese-looking buildings mostly (there’s glassy skyscrapers too, though) and like I said, gold lights mostly. There are trees too—like, this is a weird sorta dance spot in the middle of some wilderness. This is definitely the Outside World, though... I mean, it looks like that at least, though it’s sorta...
It’s intense. Like the idea of the Outside World, if I had to put it another way. It’s bombastic.
Also, I think it’s night time.
That doesn’t make a lick a’ sense though. Eh... was time between the Outside World and Gensokyo off?
“What should we do!?” Kokoro asks me.
 If this is a shrine, let’s go find the maiden.
 It’s a party! Let’s get to the dance floor!
 I’m a little worried. Let’s keep sneaking around, just in case.
Hell had something a little close, but it was more like a mirage...
This is real!
This is a CLUB!
The place we entered through the mountain pass is a real mess of good times. This is a place to sing, dance, and fuck around. I can feel it almost bleeding through my fingertips... Honestly, before finding the dance floor, I want to find the bar...!
“We could get lost in here...” Kokoro remarks while I’m pulling her through chattering crowds.
“What are you, twelve?” I ask.
“I’m a bit younger than that,” she replies, looking at me blankly.
“Uh...” Umm... “Whatever!”
I look ahead again, and ignore her.
“By the way, what’s a ‘dance floor’?” She says that, and I stop. I turn and stare at her.
“You can’t figure it out from hearing the words?”
“No, no,” she denies, and shakes her head. “I can. I’m a very erudite set of masks.”
“But I haven’t heard of ‘dance floors’ being in shrines,” she remarks, looking around the area.
“What the hell are you saying?” Seriously.
“Look.” With that, she points up with her free hand. I look.
Tall over our heads, real dominating and red is... well... what else but a torii.
Honestly I already forgot. This is the other side’s Hakurei Shrine, right?
But would any shrine really look like this...?
I shake my head.
“Aren’t you stressed out?” I ask Kokoro, quickly. “I’m stressed out! I wanna dance! Come ON!” Come on, come on!
“Okay,” she says, and we head in further.
It’s weird though... It’s weird.
Was that seriously the entrance? Is this a shrine?
This place... the more I look at it the more it reminds me of a festival but...
This is weird. It’s... big word: anachronistic, kinda. This place is a little messed up.
Who would smash together ideas like this...?
I shake my head again.
I’m bumming myself out with anxiety, here. That ain’t right!
The beats are pounding and the crowd is wild.
I can smell alcohol in the air...
The way these buildings and stands and lanterns and lights are all packed together is really taking me back.
There’s someone shouting announcements overhead. What’re they saying, I wonder?
All the people around us are dancing or cheering.
And all the people around us are just standing shades.
“Oh! Is that it!? Joon.” Shouting this, Kokoro tugs me out of paying attention.
“Miss Joon,” I hiss. Looking at her, I see she’s pointing. Under an array of lasers and spotlights, cycling through every intense color of a proper ravebow, is a square of people dancing for real.
I nod, and fish out my fan from under my coat. The orange feathers on it shiver in the breeze. “Ohhh yeah,” I tell her. “That’s the spot.”
Kokoro lets go of my hand and takes out a pair of fans herself. Some light blue ones. “You dance with fans too, Joon!?”
The mask over her head is smiling...
I nod, and give her a strong-ass “Yeah!”
And with that, we both spin onto the dance floor.
Let that groove kill...!
I swirl around her, and she stands in a mad pose, like in sync with my bullshit. I stomp a foot down and she changes posture dramatically, hiding her face behind a fan. The colors shift, shift, shift, and we start rocking.
I tap and slide and swish my hips, moving my fan around too. The crowds circle us and start clapping to our moves. Kokoro’s got hot ones. This chick is just goin’ off...! She’s spinning those fans and feeling that beat. Got to! FUCK THE HAKUREI! LET’S DANCE, DANCE, DANCE!!!
I let myself go and just roll with it.
Going through this with her...
Really having a blast, while a mask of elation falls over her face...
“It’s great having fun like this again!” I tell her, not even thinking about it; beaming as we slide left and right in tandem, and parallel. “I’ve been pretty bummed out lately, honestly!”
“Yes? Why?” she asks, taking folding a fan away and taking my hand so we can work together.
“It’s been tough,” I tell her. “Changing,” I clarify.
We both lean back, holding out our fans and balancing in a crazy V. The crowd goes wild. Kokoro looks into my face.
“I get you,” she says.
“Let me help you. Joon,” she says.
“Ehhh? Can you really help me out? I dunno, you seem kinda goofy, Menreiki,” I tease.
“I’m goofy, and amazing,” she says. Ahaha!
Ahh... Ah fuck it, I like her.
We step back and, fix ourselves and stand up together, almost chest-to-chest. I smile down at her.
“Eh,” I say with a shrug, “why not?”
“Ladies, may I see your passes?”
We both look up to see what looks like... an oni?
The lights make it hard to see his face. He kinda just looks like a suited shadow with two long and vertical horns. He’s tall, and looking down on us, and he’s wearing chains.
... Oni, though? Nah, that’d mean...
“Can I ask you a question first?” I start, and don’t really wait for an answer. “Those horns real?” I grill him a bit.
But, he doesn’t really care I guess, judging by what he says. But, what he says is...
Uh... that’s a...
He says: “They’re real. I am a slave of the Hakurei, after all.”
“Heh heh... Wh... What?” I ask. “Ehh... Gensokyo?” I ask.
“This is Gensokyo,” he says. “The Hakurei Resort. I am a slave. That is enough questions. Where are your passes?”
Wait wait wait I’m still hot from dancing...
What? What’s going on here? What?
Kokoro picks up my slack while my brain’s shorting out. She asks, “Why are you a slave of the Hakurei?”
And he replies, “You are a slave too, aren’t you Miss Kokoro? All youkai are slaves to the Hakurei.”
“N... No,” she answers back. Her mask changes.
Ah... Ahhh, seriously hold up hold up. What’s happening? What is this? IS this a joke? This place is real, right? Did we find a path into the dream world or something? I’ve heard there’s like a few of those. We gotta get the fuck outta here if it is. But, if it’s real... No no, if it’s real that... that doesn’t make any sense, Joon! Why would it be real? Ehh, but it feels like it is... Eh... Ehhh...
“Ladies, your passes? I will have to call security at this rate.”
I turn my head a bit. I mutter to Kokoro, “Get ready to scatter if this goes bad.”
Out the corner of my eye, I see her nod.
I beam at the bouncer, close my fist, and clock him across his jaw.
It all happens under a trio of flashes. I mean literally: the party’s still going on.
At the end of the arc of my punch, I can feel a grin tugging at my cheek. I can feel it in my teeth.
Nice. It’s been a damn long time.
As my coat falls and the rush of air subsides past the action, I glance up. And, my eyes go wide.
He’s totally unfazed...!
Then... those really are real horns!? But this is the Outside World! He wasn’t bullshitting!?
I stand up straight and look at him, colors dancing over my pale face. I kept down my flame just in case he was human. If he isn’t human... then I guess I’ve got to—?
I answer Kokoro while turning my head and realize I’ve gotten grabbed by what’s definitely a human. There are definitely people in this shrine too, then...
Wait I... I can’t shake him off! He went and grabbed me under my arms and has got me in a lock. Kokoro’s been grabbed too.
This is bullshit...!
I flare up.
A wave of shock rolls over the crowd as everyone realizes there’s a scene now. The force of my flames push back the guy who was grabbing me, and while he’s reeling I take his right arm and throw him forward—straight into the bouncer. It doesn’t drop the guy but it’ll distract him. Kokoro... Kokoro’s a youkai but... she’ll have to use her strength to get rid of the guy grappling with her. No way around it. At least, she should be able to break out.
I turn to her again, and I shout at her: “Kokoro!”
Judging by her mask, she’s completely baffled.
“I can’t move...!” she says. Huh!? What do you mean you can’t!? It’s just a human!
“Tch!” With a sound of annoyance, I dash toward her on fire and crush the face of the guy holding her with my knuckles. He crumples, and I grab Kokoro’s hand.
“Come on!” I shout again, tugging her forward. We enter the crowd and start going toward the exit. I think my flames’ll give me away though... should I put ‘em out?
Some more... it looks like humans—some more people come out and block our way.
“You’ve got a weapon, right?” I yell back at Kokoro while we’re moving. “A spear or something!?”
“My naginata!?” she asks.
“Whatever! Just take it out!”
“And hurt those people...!?”
“Just use the staff! We’ve gotta get outta here, shit’s weird!” I let go of her hand and flare up again. Let’s go!
I leap at two of the guys and knock their heads together with my hands and rings on fire. Once they drop I blink out the way of a guy swinging at me with his arm. I appear underneath him and punch him there in the gut. He drops, too.
I glance over to Kokoro.
She smashes the staff-end of her naginata (guess she can spawn it from youkai magic, or something?) into the head of a guard. The dude is unfazed. She backs off and uses a line of bullets pointed at this chest. Nothing.
How the fuck isn’t it working?? Kokoro took out the Hakurei, muscle priestess, and Crown Prince Toyosatomimi no motherfuckin’ Miko together all by herself! This shit doesn’t make any sense...!
One of the guy’s she’s fighting takes out a baton.
Crap, I’ve gotta save her...!
I rush forward and guard. Out the corner of my eye, though, I see other people moving in and... more youkai!? Monstrous-looking fuckers.
I might have to go all out—but even if I do do I even have the kind of power that I used to anymore? Shit shit, fuck fuck fuck...! I really fucked up...!
I shake my head.
No. NO! I fuckin’ said it!
I have to save her...!
I turn up the fire. I get Kokoro at my back. No messin’ around, no holding back! Let’s fuck shit up!
Just then a snap echoes out over everything, and just like that the music stops. The pursuers stop too.
... Aaaahh that’s fuckin’ embarrassing. That’s embarrassing! I just got all riled up for nothing...!
“WEEEELL WEEEELL well well wellllll....”
Uh, is that...
Still guarding Kokoro, I straighten up and look up: to where I heard that snap.
To the main building... and the donation box.
“You punks ran away, and now you ran right back? But you’re running away agaaaiin? Come on, come on...” ... she says. She said that last bit in English.
The Hakurei Shrine maiden starts walking down toward us from a tall staircase where the donation box sits: past the grounds and with about ten spotlights on her. The sight is total bullshit... Hakurei Reimu, in this farce-looking outside world-looking blinding fuck of a... there’s no doubt in my mind now.
“This is the dream world...” I mutter, for Kokoro to hear.
“Eh...?” she whispers.
‘No it’s not.’
A chill runs up my arms.
The fuck was that!?
“You look scared...” Reimu says while still coming down. “You should be. You really got on my bad side.” Ugh... shut up.
She gets closer. I squint to see her through all the light beaming down on her. I sigh. Does she think she’s a star in her drea—? Ah, right, it’s no dream.
“What are you thinking with those glasses?” I shoot at her.
“‘What are you thinking with those glasses~?’” she mocks me, lifting her hands daintily while her... followers(?) part the way for her. “What are you thinking? Huh?” she asks.
Oh what... her collar’s popped too.
“It’s part of my outfit...” I say. “It’s fashion. It’s together. You look ridiculous.” She waves me off.
“I am...” she starts, putting her hand to her chest and puffing it out, “the shrine maiden of PARADISE! And this is PARADISE! Beautiful PARADISE! So come on, admit it: I’m beautiful too!”
“Wow, shut up...” I breathe, slouching. She’s smirking like such an asshole... Is this really Reimu?
“Kokoro!” she fires at us, and the Menreiki flinches. She points at the youkai behind me and I follow her aim with my gaze. “Where are your chains?” Reimu asks. “You shook those off when you got away?”
“...” Kokoro’s silent.
“Didn’t I tell you to drop that shit?” I tell Reimu, turning back to her. “And what chains? Honestly, what’s going on? What is all this? When’d you set this up?”
“Wow, shut up,” she says. Huh!? Bitch!!! “What are you saying? I don’t have to answer dumb questions, right?” What? “Kokoro. Chains.”
A pair of bouncer youkai, also in shackles, approach with cuffs and chains for Kokoro. I put up my fists and feel a bead of sweat on my cheek. The crying old woman mask appears over Kokoro’s head. She whispers, “No...”
“What!? Did you say something?” Reimu challenges her while standing with her hands on her hips. “Speak up if you are. The music isn’t playing and I still can’t hear you.”
Kokoro shrinks, hiding behind me more.
“Well if you’re not gonna say or do anything, that’s fine by me...” saying this, Reimu lifts her right hand. She snaps her fingers and after that, turns around with her hand back on her hip. She starts walking away. “I don’t wanna deal with you myself, anyway. This guy can take care of it.”
An oni walks out. No mistake: a red-skinned oni, and he looks tough.
I feel queasy...
Did I get that messed up by Kane-douji...? I can’t even look at another oni like him...?
I need to get it together...!
The oni, dressed in blue and in chains, has two black horns—though they’re small. I guess he’s young. He’s wielding a giant, almost sword-shaped kanabo—like about as tall as he is. Black. Iron. Can I break it with my fist? Seriously, where are we anyway...?
I flinch. Kokoro shouted; and hearing that, Reimu stopped.
“I’m no slave, Reimu...!” Kokoro shouts. I widen my eyes. Her red mask of “rage” is sitting over her head. Damn...! She found her spine? “I’m alive!” she says, standing firm behind me and pointing at the shrine maiden. “Nobody owns me anymore! Look at me.”
Reimu turns around, and does just that.
“I may not be human,” says Kokoro, “but my emotions are still true! My life is true and my thoughts are true! You can’t deny them, Reimu!”
“... Excuse me?” Reimu bellows. She pulls her sunglasses off, slowly, and glares at us. “Holy shit you’re annoying.” I shiver. Her delivery is frigid. She sounds like...
... Honestly, she sounds like she’s ready to kill us.
I swallow. I’m officially freaked out. Kokoro, though... Kokoro keeps up her hand. Look at her... she isn’t even trembling.
“... Oi,” Reimu grunts, nodding up at the oni who was walking toward us. “Forget about taking them in. Put them in the dirt instead.”
Reimu turns back around. “Quit ruining my good mood,” she growls, almost to herself. “Seriously.”
Wow... she’s really—Wh-whoa! Eh!?
I turn my head.
“You devil in human skin...” Kokoro growls, while I feel energy building within her. “A mockery with a black heart, a person no more—a villain in red and white garb.”
“What?” Reimu fires back.
“Hear me, Hakurei,” Kokoro bellows; she’s... starting to shake now. “Even if my body is ruined, on my path to do so... I will strike you down. I swear it, under any name. I swear it on my soul.”
“You tools don’t even have real souls,” Reimu says. “I saw you earlier anyway. You can’t do anything to my men, so fuck off.”
“NO!” Kokoro roars. “I WILL do something! I will topple you, Reim—gh!!?”
A wave of power shoots out and I shut my eyes from the force. It ripples my clothes, and it came from Kokoro. Opening my eyes, I see her grabbing her skull with her left hand, and for the first time I see her face making an expression: one contorting in agony.
I stop. Something’s approaching—through everything, and soon over our heads we can hear something: emanating through the air and reverberating deeply. We can all hear it: an otherworldly voice, announcing—
O Youkai, riddled with sin...
Although you have sinned, do you still wish for retribution...?
What... What? Is that her— No, what the hell is that?
With her back slouched, Kokoro’s face is hidden. Is she still in pain? Why, even? What the fuck is happening?
If so, then let the embers of your passion ignite.
Burn it all away in your anguish...
Around Kokoro’s body, fires arise. I’ve seen them before but...
Don’t they feel... different?
Actually, that’s definitely...
Kokoro clenches her fist, and her naginata appears in her grip once more. She starts to stand. The flames flicker, and begin to glow. They start to blind us with their intensity, and a warmth starts to bleed into my chest. But—underneath it is something volcanic. That’s... anger. It’s loathing, and hate.
It’s the need to do something, manifesting from her heart. It isn’t the fox fire that she usually summons; not at all.
And rise. Take up your lance once again.
Rise, and be welcomed into divinity.
The fires’ colors shift. Instead of blue: rose starts to envelop her. Fire burst and tears out of her skin. A sleek fox mask has set up over her face. Behind it, I see her left eye: bright and pointed.
From henceforth, the flame of justice shall be with you.
No doubt about it... That’s a fucking Divine Flame, burning out of a youkai...!
And, know this:
Kokoro faces Reimu from behind me, determination flowing out of her and shifting my heart. I swallow again. What the hell... my awakening wasn’t like this at all—and I’m a god.
Finally, her flame has its last words. As Reimu disappears into the crowds and the oni raises its weapon, Kokoro raises hers back.
She didn’t even eat a god to get it... Shouldn’t she be dead!?
Kokoro stands surrounded by a pink fire, burning and still. Only her skirt and hair are flowing. The crowds fled, leaving us just with Reimu’s oni guard.
... Kokoro looks sick. I wish I had a camera.
“Joon.” Whoa! I straighten up and listen. Kokoro looks back at me and says, “Bring up your hands and fight!”
Ah! Ah, ahh... “Y... Yeah!” I say that with a nod, and get beside her.
Time to fight...
I think whatever we face in here can only get hurt by the Fire. It’s the only shit that makes sense after what I’ve been seeing. That said I don’t usually throw down with other people... just Koishi, and even then—
While I’m thinking to myself, Kokoro launches forward and slices into the oni’s stomach with her blade. Fu—! Shi—I’m getting shown up!
“Two little ‘gods’ is it?” the oni mutters, sounding like the blade means nothing to him. But, he’s wincing. “The Shrine Maiden can tame any breed of those.”
“Sorry to say I’m not tamable,” I fire back. I get into my fighting stance, my fists low and ready. “I can’t speak for the menreiki, but at least I’ll kick your ass.”
“Come and try it,” he says, and he lifts his weapon. Kokoro backs off and throws out her free hand. While I’m moving ahead the color green envelops me, and I feel even more mobile than usual. The heck?
The oni swings down and I dodge it. I’m surprised I did though. I mean, that went down faster than I could see it. He cracks the stones below us. In the aftermath, I clench my fist and throw it at his jaw. This time, it’s gonna hurt. I hear a pop and he stumbles. I glance at Kokoro and see her twirling her naginata overhead. A red light envelops her... and me. Fuck is she up to?
My arms and gut feel strange.
“That’s enough of that...” the oni growls. Lame line, dude!
He stomps down and slices across with his kanabo. That hits. I fly back after it smacks my guarding arms. Daaaamn—God damn that smarts, ow. On a knee, I squint up at the guy.
Kokoro points her naginata at him, and he gets set on fire. He also immediately falls on his ass.
“You’re a magician!?” I shout at her. That wasn’t danmaku, either!
She ignores me. “Let’s get him while he’s down. Joon,” she says. I get onto my feet and nod. The two of us go in on him – me with my fist back and her with her spear raised. She thrusts down on his shoulder, I connect my rings with his teeth. A smash and a slice. This douchebag definitely felt that. The air felt that.
With a blast, he rolls over and ends up with a bleeding neck. Actually, is that blood...? I think it’s good to question anything I see in wherever this is.
He gets up, roars, and swings his club again. Just... sheer wind pressure—but it fuckin’ hurts like he hit me!? I fall over and swear, and Kokoro... flickers? Are we playing danmaku here? I don’t see any bullets! And why does she look like she knows what’s going on!? Someone give me a fuckin’ tutorial here!
“Joon, he’s weak to fire,” Kokoro says. Hah? “Weak to”? I slump forward and look at her like she’s nuts, because I swear she’s fuckin’ nuts.
I mean, even if only the Divine flame works, I wouldn’t use the word “weakness” to describe that susceptibility and anyway—
“Does he look like a yuki-onna to you!?” I snap, pointing at the oni.
She tilts her head. “You don’t have agi?” she asks.
Whaaaat the fuck are you saying?
I hold up my hands in confusion and annoyance.
“Fine. Keep punching him,” she says, and she starts spinning her naginata again.
“Don’t have to tell me how that works...” I mutter under my breath. I lift my fists up.
This oni is definitely tough but not anywhere near some of the toughest I’ve had to go at. Unfortunately it’s for sure: I’m not as strong as I was a year ago. Fortunately: I ain’t alone.
Me and Kokoro keep at it. I think she’s using magic to make me just overall ‘better’, and she keeps burning the oni to the ground. After punishing him for not too long, I have a chance to get him with an uppercut, and I knock his head off.
... I mean literally, I punched his head from off his neck. Black gushed out and the skull fell about ten meters behind while the body fell forward. He died.
I stare wide-eyed at the decapitated corpse and I’m stunned. I look over at Kokoro. A mask of shock is over her head so... she wasn’t expecting that either.
Holy shit I killed a dude—
Kokoro and I both suddenly have to cover our ears and buckle nearly to the ground... Some crazy ass whistle is blasting over the shrine.
I squint up, and see other youkai coming down from the surrounding buildings and out the surrounding alleys.
I really don’t wanna test my luck—
Kokoro and I look over our shoulders. Behind us, hidden between two buildings, is presumably someone. Their arm is waving, but that’s all we can see.
“Hurry!” it says. “She” says? Sounds like a girl, whispering loudly.
Well it’s staying behind and getting screwed or running now.
I look at Kokoro and she looks at me.
We both look at the oni’s bod—What!?
It’s fading away!
“L-Let’s go,” Kokoro says, finally sounding panicked. I frantically nod my agreement. We turn around, and run toward the arm.
While youkai chase us, we dash into the alley, and fall outside into a forest, tripping over each other and tumbling over four times before we try to get up, trip again, and I realize we’re falling down what I hope is just a small mountain. Kokoro and I end up like a terrible, gaudy snowball wildly flailing and bouncing over twigs, leaves, and logs. We smash through a spider web and slip up off a mudslide, and drop. Just drop. God. At the end, I’ve got a fuckin’ headache and I’m draped over Kokoro, whose face is in the dirt. It’s daytime again I think...? Oh shit, we got out....
I hear a door creaking, but my eyes are still too fucked to see. It’s close by though.
 Maybe it’s the savior trying to get away? Get up, and get them; I want answers!