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“Something must be done about Gensokyo! Once again, the seasons have been disrupted from their usual cycle. I understand that the abundance of youkai living in the area might cause some chaos, but I never would have assumed that there would be this much chaos in this land.”
“Suzaku, I understand your anger. However, we must be patient about this. After all, isn’t it Seiryuu’s seasons that have been altered? As of now, nothing has happened to the other seasons and I don’t believe we need to resort to drastic action.”
“Your mind moves too slow, Genbu! Spring has been altered twice! How long will it be before Autumn is changed? Or perhaps your beloved Winter might be affected? As I recall, you weren’t protesting much when Winter lasted far longer than it should have. Perhaps you don’t want to do something about it because you are afraid you won’t get any more advantages like that.”
“Calm down, Suzaku. The fire in your soul is useful, in occasion. Stoke it too much and you’ll have an inferno in your hands. However, I must agree that some action must be taken on Gensokyo. Our cycle, our existence, depends on order and constant cycles. They have disrupted this cycle one too many times for them to go without punishment.”
“Byakko…Very well. If Seiryuu too wishes for action, then I shall go along with the rest of the flow. I can only move with the shifting of the waves, I cannot stop their motion.”
“I control the element of wood. My heart is filled with life, with the pure essence of nature. I cannot wish ill on Gensokyo without wishing ill on myself. While the residents of that land have been causing trouble, I do not wish to condemn them for a few mistakes.”
“Mistakes?! Are you crazy, Seiryuu? Did you not notice the fact that your precious trees were drained of your essence last year? Did you not see the massive overgrowth of flowers that occurred this Spring? And yet you don’t believe that chaos like this should be punished? You are weak!”
“Suzaku, you insult one of your own? Don’t forget, you aren’t the master of all seasons! We are all equals, with our own respective strengths and weaknesses. Do not suppose that you are stronger than us. As I recall, water will overcome fire. I would advise against taunting the ocean, for one day it will envelop the world.”
“I grow tired of your talk, Genbu. It is either action or nothing. I warn you though, if you don’t do anything, don’t come crying to me when you discover your beloved Winter has dwindled to almost nothing.”
“Yes… When you disturb order, you create anarchy. We are the Heavenly Beasts, watching over the world to make sure the seasons pass without error. What are we if we do not do our jobs? Nothing more than glorified animals.”
“Then let us leave our final decision to our Empress. After all, while we just govern the seasons, she is the one who causes the change of seasons. If anyone is affected the most, it must be her, for it is her powers that have been blocked the most.”
“A wise idea, Seiryuu. Then, great Kirin, what is your decision? Shall Gensokyo be punished? Or shall they continue to roam without our judgment?”
“…I think the inhabitants of Gensokyo will need to learn a hard lesson. They shall see what their antics will entail. Let them act as they will. Let their Springs be short. Let their Winters be long. Let the elements roam free without any restrictions. From this day forth, Gensokyo will be out of our protection. We shall not monitor their conditions nor shall we restrict what happens in that land. From this day forward, Gensokyo is free of the protection from the Celestial Beasts.”
“Yayoi! Yayoi! Where the hell are you?!” A girl walked through the forest path, her expression showing more than just mild irritation. She paused, letting out a huge sigh as she scratched her blackish-brown hair. This was the third time in the past two days that Yayoi had gone out by herself to goof around. She was getting very irritated at the behavior and even a slightly bit worried. Suddenly, a hand reached out and grabbed the end on her wolf tail and yanked hard. She let out a shocked scream before falling to the ground.
“Hee hee, Shiwasu! I was wondering when you would find me.” The person, no, half-demon, in question popped out from behind a couple of bushes and skipped up to Shiwasu’s prone body, an impish smile on her face. Her lightish-pink hair fell across her face and Yayoi moved it to the side so she could enjoy the wolf youkai’s expression for a bit longer.
“Damn it, Yayoi! You know how much that hurts!” Shiwasu climbed up to her feet, one hand massaging her injured tail. She glared angrily at the half-demon, wanting to do nothing more than ripping the girl’s head from her shoulders. Her anger quickly faded, however, and she let out a tired sigh as she looked seriously at the younger girl. “And why are you playing tricks like that anyway? You’re a grown girl. You should be going out on your own.”
“Aw, but you know I want to stay with you, Shiwasu. I need to repay you for saving my life, remember?” Yayoi grinned cheekily as she pranced up to the wolf youkai’s side.
“And I regret doing so every day of my life.” Shiwasu muttered. Yayoi knew she didn’t mean it, though, and continued walking by her side, humming to herself. Finally, Shiwasu gave up on her cold attitude and patted Yayoi on the head, ruffling her pinkish hair. “You little minx. I should kick you out of my home. You’re ruining the silence.”
“You secretly like it, I know.” Yayoi retorted jokingly, smiling. “How long have I been living with you?”
“Ten years too long, ever since I found you wandering in my forest. A small, young girl…Mmmm…I was so hungry that day, I would have eaten you in one bite. You didn’t even scream, though, just asked me if I wanted to be friends. I should have eaten you instead of taking you in. Just imagine how many naps were broken because you wanted to do something fun.” Shiwasu sighed, remembering events from long past.
“Aw, come on, Shiwasu. You’re being mean.” Yayoi complained, looking up at her friend with wide, teary eyes. Her thin, pointed tail looped around her waist and Yayoi grabbed it for security, as if she was clutching a baby blanket. “You honestly wouldn’t eat me, right?”
“Sigh…No, I won’t. Now stop being childish. We have to return home before nightfall.” Shiwasu scolded, heading off to her cave in the mountains. Her black-brown tail swished majestically behind her, making Yayoi want to pull on it again. She managed to tamp down on the impulse, however, and ran after Shiwasu, who quickened her pace when she heard the half-demon shouting at her to stop.
When Shiwasu finally reached the caves, she discovered two things that were extremely wrong. First, it had taken her approximately two hours to return yet the sun was still high in the sky when it should have been setting. Second, the lake near the entrance to her cave was on fire. And to her knowledge, water does not spontaneously explode into flame.
“Hey Shiwasu, why have you stopped?” Yayoi walked up behind her friend when she noticed the burning lake. She scratched her head nervously as she watched the fires burn higher and higher. She was completely speechless, a fact that Shiwasu reveled in for the short moment that it happened. It wore off in a couple of minutes, however, and Yayoi regained her wits. “Um…Did you redecorate?”
“Of course not!” Shiwasu said angrily, irritated at the idiotic question. “In all my years living in Mt. Shuuyoujo, I’ve never seen anything like this. Not only should it be evening, but the lake is on fire. Something is wrong here.”
“What could it be?” Yayoi mused, a finger at her chin. “Someone put oil on the lake and set it on fire?”
“Why would somebody do that? And that still doesn’t explain why it isn’t night right now.”
“Somebody collected a lot of time orbs?”
“…Please stop offering answers, Yayoi. I might really eat you if you continue to do so.” Shiwasu muttered irritably, wincing as she felt a headache creep into her skull. It was bad enough that her nice, solitary lifestyle had been interrupted for ten straight years, but now someone had decided to ruin her nice, remote haven. She had no doubt that soon sightseers would come to see the flaming lake and ask her incessant annoying questions. She already had one person who did that all the time.
It was then that she noticed that the lake wasn’t the only thing that was out of place. The dry earth under her feet was slowly morphing into mud, even though there wasn’t any sign of rain or water. Some of the trees around her were slowly crumbling into dust. All these phenomena were frightening and Shiwasu hated being frightened. It made her want to tear something to shreds with her claws. Even now, her nails were lengthening themselves as her youkai powers began to manifest themselves.
She abruptly tamped down on her powers, not wanting to go into a rampage. “I’m going to find out what’s causing this. Yayoi, you stay here.”
“What? Why?!” Yayoi shouted. “I want to help too.”
“It’s just going to be something simple, okay? Just ask a couple of questions.” Shiwasu said irritably. “I’ll be done in a day or something.”
“You’re lying! Besides, it’s not going to be simple at all. From what I’ve read from Bunbunmaru Newspaper, all the people fight almost every day! It’s going to be anything from simple. Come on, let me go! I need to repay you for your generosity anyway.” Yayoi protested. “You know I can fight.”
“It’s nothing special! Now stay here!” Shiwasu shouted back. She felt her anger growing as Yayoi gave an empathetic no. She curled her hands into fists and glared at the half-demon. “If you won’t listen to me…If you can beat me in one round of battle, I’ll let you come along. If you lose, you’re staying here, you got it?! And I don’t want to hear anything about how you need to repay your debt. That’s a stupid excuse for just sticking around.”
“Fine! It shouldn’t be too hard, anyway.” Yayoi said, stepping back and opening her palms wide. Before she could even react, however, Shiwasu was at her throat, her long nails reaching up to claw it out. Yayoi just barely managed to backstep in time, the claws leaving red scratches at her neck. Shiwasu paused in her attack, a feral grin on her face.
‘Oh man, she might actually eat me. How mean…we’ve been living together for ten years.’ Yayoi thought to herself as she looked at Shiwasu uneasily. ‘But I don’t beat her, I won’t be able to come along! And I know she’ll need my help. She always does.’
Yayoi steeled her nerves and started on her attack, bringing up a curled fist to connect with Shiwasu’s stomach. At least, that’s what would have happened if Shiwasu hadn’t sidestepped and driven her claws deep into Yayoi’s side, causing the younger girl to gasp out in pain. She staggered backwards, feeling her blood well out of the wound, trickling down the dress she wore.
“Had enough?” Shiwasu mocked, licking the blood off of her claws. “Mmm…It tastes so good. It’s making me hungry again.”
“No…! I’ll beat you…Just you watch!” Yayoi said, ignoring the pain to attack again. This time, she managed to land a glancing blow across Shiwasu’s chest, only to be rewarded with a deep gash straight across her stomach. She retreated once again, collapsing on one knee as the pain overwhelmed her.
“Come on, girl. This hunt is too easy for me. You’ve got more power than that, I’m sure.” Shiwasu laughed, her tail thrashing with unconcealed adrenaline. “There’s no fun in eating a weakling!”
“Fine…If you’re serious…” Yayoi staggered upwards. She opened her palms again, now slick with blood, and soon her nails began to glow with reddish-white balls of light. The orbs of light floated off of her fingers and morphed into miniature devilish pixies, all of them looking just like her. The pixies swarmed all around Shiwasu, launching small multi-colored lasers at her body. Shiwasu flailed at the pixies haphazardly, just wanting them to stop with their stinging shots.
When the small horde of pixies faded away, Yayoi was right there behind them, her own claws swinging down in a slash that drove straight from Shiwasu’s shoulder to her leg.
“Hahahaha! This is a real battle! That is the strength I’ve been looking for!” Shiwasu laughed manically, ignoring the pain running through her body. She went back onto the attack, swinging her claws so fast that blasts of air knocked Yayoi back into one of the trees, which immediately crumbled into dirt the moment she hit it. Shiwasu immediately leapt to her advantage, diving down to plunge her claws into Yayoi’s chest.
When she landed, however, all her claws hit was a mound of dirt. A shadow fell upon her and Shiwasu spun around, surprised. Yayoi was floating there, her leathery wings keeping her aloft. The younger girl flicked back a strand of her pink hair and grinned at Shiwasu.
“I think I win.” Yayoi said, pointing down at Shiwasu’s feet. The wolf youkai looked down and grunted when she found her feet stuck in a thick patch of mud. Yayoi just laughed at her efforts and lifted one of her hands, more colorful orbs of light appearing in front of it. With a flick, she launched the projectiles at Shiwasu. Shiwasu brought up her arms to help defend herself, but it proved useless as the projectiles exploded in front of her, knocking her out of the mud and onto the dirt that Yayoi had been in minutes earlier.
“Ugh…” Shiwasu groaned, shaking her head. She opened her eyes to see Yayoi standing in front of her, her hand held out and that stupid, happy smile on her face. Shiwasu grimaced and accepted the proffered hand, lifting herself off of the dirt. “I guess you get to come along after all.”
“Yay, I can’t wait to see what’s waiting out there!” Yayoi cheered. “Don’t you think it’s going to be fun?”
Shiwasu brushed the dirt from her clothes and looked up at the sun, which was shining brightly in the sky at eight o’clock in the evening. “No, I don’t think this is going to be fun at all.”
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