Cage in Lunatic Runagate/Last Chapter

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最終話 二つの望郷 Last Chapter: Two Kinds of Homesickness


As always, there was a throng of people passing through the commons known as a meeting place for aged shogi and go players. Even rabbits would come here during their break times, but those who were unable to find an opponent would become irritated.


"What's with that crowd? It seems like there's a fight going on, but it isn't nearly noisy enough for that."


An elder rabbit was talking to a group of other rabbits in the crowd. The usual group of go players.

「喧嘩? 違う違うそんなんじゃないよ。何でも見せたい物があるって話だ」

"Fight? No, no. That's not it at all. They're just wanting to see something."

「大道芸かい? 若えもんがあんまり騒がしくしてると、綿月の姐さんにしょっ引かれても知らねえぞ?」

"So are they street performers? The younger-looking ones are yelling loudly about 'Can't the older Watatsuki sister catch that crook?'"


The Watatsukis are a prestigious family tasked with the security and policing of the lunar capital for nearly 1,000 years. They are in charge of training the moon rabbits who are by nature unsuited to warfare and protect the capital.


The younger sister, Yorihime, is particularly important to the cause, possessing the power to easily call on the power of the gods to deal with any situation.


Their basic operative is to protect the capital from outside enemies, but they also take rabbits of poor behavior and train them into soldiers. Very few rabbits want to become soldiers, and they see the Watatsuki manor as more of a boot camp.


"No, what they want to see are the Watatsuki princesses in person."

「何だって? 綿月様が?」

"What? They want to see the princesses?"


Heads turned to look at something trying to make its way through the crowd. There, a human was doing a strange dance. Standing next to the human were the Watatsuki sisters, Yorihime and Toyohime.


"That dancing human looks like one from Earth who tried to attack the moon. She's the real criminal behind those rumors about a rebellion."


The rumors about a rebellion caused great unrest, as whispers circulated about someone in the lunar capital plotting to overturn the government.


No one knows who started it, but around the same time it did start, strange occurrences began to happen regularly.


First, the flag that the humans planted on the near side of the moon was removed, vanished without a trace. This was seen as a sign that someone from Earth had invaded the moon.


Then, someone was invoking the gods that live on the moon, using them for their own ends. Something like what Princess Yorihime could do.


And there were other reasons why everyone suspected the Watatsuki family.


The Watatsuki sisters' roles were initially performed by someone else. This person was called the sage of the moon, Lady Eirin Yagokoro.


Lady Yagokoro could make any and all kinds of medicine and was highly dependable. But she turned her back on the moon and went into hiding on Earth.


There was an emergency election to fill the vacant position in the lunar emissaries, and her pupils, the Watatsuki sisters, were chosen.


Once appointed, their first order was the search and retrieval of Lady Yagokoro. However, after nearly a thousand years, they have nothing to show for their efforts. They claim that she has not yet earned the right to return to the moon (As the moon sees Earth as a prison, criminals are incarcerated on Earth until they have served their sentence. Therefore, it appeared that Lady Yagokoro had yet to atone for her crime.), but the reality is that the Watatsuki sisters still had trust in their mentor, and did not want to be the ones to bring her back.


Possibly because of this connection, the Watatsuki sisters were not entirely trusted by the rest of the lunar capital.


Traces of an invader from Earth and the inexplicable manipulation of the gods. It was only natural to suspect the Watatsukis.


"All right, that's enough. You've demonstrated well enough that you can summon the gods."


Yorihime spoke to Reimu who was performing a mysterious dance in front of a crowd of rabbits.


Reimu said "That's enough?", and the rabbits broke out into applause for some reason. Some even threw coins like they were giving New Year's donations at the shrine. Reimu waved to the rabbits with a befuddled expression.


"You still need to exhibit your talents in many other places."


"What? Why do I have to keep doing this?"


"You are in no situation to complain."

「というか何か意味あるの? この踊り」

"And what's the point of doing that dance anyway?"


"It's the best way to show that you are able to summon the gods. We don't like killing here so it's the most serious punishment you will receive. Once you've finished, you may return to Earth."


"Hmm, so you dance to summon the gods here?"


Reimu spoke as she collected the thrown coins, then she noticed that the crowd was beginning to disperse. Yorihime pulled Reimu's hand back and chided her. "I wouldn't worry about money right now."


"This is silly. How come I'm the only one who has to stay here? You let the others go back without so much as a slap on the wrist, but I'm being punished like this."

「お咎め無し? そうではありませんよ。地上に落ちる事、それが最大の罰なのですから」

"Without a slap on the wrist? You are mistaken. Living on Earth is the worst punishment you can receive."


"The way I see it, they just left for home."


Reimu retorted.


She looked at the peach trees through a round window from the large Oriental-style manor.


The window was not made of anything like glass. It appeared to be wide open, but bugs aren't able to enter, likely because such uncivilized beings such as bugs did not exist on the moon to begin with, but it also kept the room at a comfortable temperature.


Researchers immerse themselves in their research and debate about what can or cannot possibly exist with others. If they did not have to worry about food or other things to remain alive, they would conduct research for eternity.


Maybe the lunar capital is something like that.


If one lived here, maybe it would be natural to see Earth as a prison.


A gourmet spread was laid out on an antique table.


At this table, Reimu and the Watatsuki sisters were seated.


When presented with splendid dishes the likes of which she had never seen before, her mood improved considerably.


"This is in return for your efforts today."


Toyohime gave her words of gratitude, and Reimu immediately set into the food. Its taste was even better than how it looked.


"I was wondering, how long am I going to have to stay here?"


"That's a good question. At least not until you've helped prove Yorihime innocent, but for now, just make yourself at home."


"Something seems kind of weird though. I thought it'd be a lot busier here. *chomp, smack*"


"Refrain from speaking with food in your mouth. Your Earthling manners are a disgrace here."


Yorihime rebuked her, and Reimu abashedly swallowed her food.


"And there's one more reason why we need you to remain here."




She noticed that Yorihime had yet to touch her food. She was nervous for a moment, but relaxed when she saw Toyohime had eaten the same things she had.


"You called upon the power of Sumiyoshi Sanjin to take you to the moon. I want you to tell me how this came out."

「ん? んー、そう言えば何でこんな事になっちゃったんだっけ?」

"Huh? Hmm, now that I think about it, what exactly happened again?"


Reimu put down her chopsticks and tried to remember the chain of events leading to their arrival on the moon.


The one who wanted to go the moon in the first place was Remilia. It was after they first met the people from the moon who lived in the bamboo forest. She took an interest to the city on the moon, and thought to go there herself. That's why she worked on building the rocket for over a year.


Reimu wasn't nearly as interested, mostly because she didn't believe it would be possible to go at all. However, if there was some method available, that was a different story. She wanted to go see it at least once.


Remilia had come calling often, asking for her cooperation in doing something or another, although it was Sakuya rather than Remilia. One day, she asked about something that could be used as rocket fuel.

「ロケットの材料って訳の判らない物ばかりでねぇ。何か (かめ) の乾いたものとか持って踊ってたりさぁ。あんなんで月に行けるとか思わないでしょ? 吸血鬼も五百年生きたっていっても頭は悪いんだから」

"I don't know the first thing about rocket fuel. Something about doing a dance with while holding a dried turtle. How would that get you to you moon? That vampire's brain must have gone crazy from being alive for 500 years."


Reimu, starting to get caught up in her recollection, asked the sisters if they agreed.


"There are many ways to go between Earth and the moon. First, by travelling through space, like in the rockets you and those other Earthlings did, or the lunar veils the rabbits use."


Reimu was disappointed at Yorihime's answer, being different than what she expected.


"But the people of the moon are different. We can move through a door that greatly decreases the distance between Earth and the moon. It's just as how the Sanzu River separates yet connects the world of the living to Higan."


"Higan... That certainly does seem far away, but if you die, you go there in a flash so it must be close, too."


"And the people of the moon see Earth just as you see Higan, because the nobility here sees it as that. It is unexpectedly simple to go between the two places."

「ふーん。でもさ、私達が居る幻想郷はちっちゃいけど地上はもっと何倍も大きいんだってよ? 月の都なんて幻想郷より小さい位じゃない。それを一部なんて傲慢じゃないの?」

"Hmm, but you know, Gensokyo is pretty tiny. Earth is much, much bigger. But it seems like this place is even smaller than Gensokyo. Just where does that arrogance come from?"


"Size has nothing to do with it. We are simply superior, that is all. Now, returning to the subject at hand, it seems you used both methods of moving through space and contracting distance."


When she said that, Reimu remembered that the distance from Earth to the moon felt shorter than she had imagined.


"How did that happen?"


"We don't think that rocket was built by Earthlings. Maybe there was someone else who lended their knowledge?"


Reimu said that it took a few coincidences for the rocket's completion.


First, someone who had been hiding their knowledge for some time helped greatly advance the progress of the vampire's rocket project.


It was the half-phantom Youmu who had told them about the rocket's driving force.


And then, there was the matter of Reimu training to call upon the power of the gods for some reason.


With these happening almost simultaneously, the vampire's rocket was able to reach completion.


But was this all mere coincidence?


Of course, it wasn't. That was likely clear to everyone. It all had to have been the doings of that youkai, behind the scenes.


This made one wonder if the rumors circulating around the Lunar Capital about someone staging a coup were also a coincidence.

「入れ知恵……? うーん、住吉三神の事を思いついたのは私だしー」

"Lending their knowledge...? Hmmm, but I was the one who came up with the idea of using the Sumiyoshi Sanjin."


"So how were you able to call them?"

「それは、たまたま神様の力を降ろす稽古を付けていて——あれ? なんでそんな稽古をしていたんだっけ?」

"Well, I just happened to be training to call upon the powers of the gods and... wait a minute, why was I training for that anyway?"


Yorihime was becoming slightly agitated with the Earthling's vague memory.


"Weren't you training at the request of someone?"


"Oh, that's right. It was Yukari who told me I needed to train. I really don't know why, though."


"Yukari... Yakumo, am I right?" Toyohime joined in the conversation. It seemed she understood something upon hearing that name.

「知ってるの? あの幻想郷一駄目な妖怪を」

"Do you know her? She's the worst youkai in Gensokyo."


"Naturally. There is no one in the Lunar Capital who is not aware of her. Her ability to travel freely between Earth and the moon makes her quite a nuisance."


"Wow, she's pretty famous. Wait, did you say she could freely travel between Earth and the moon?!"


"Yes, and she used that ability to bring a throng of youkai here long ago. Of course, we sent them back much worse for the wear."


"I don't care about that. So we didn't even have to make a rocket or anything like that to get to the moon? Why didn't she help us?"


Toyohime used a ladle to fill a glass with some variety of magical liquid from a large clay pot. Reimu momentarily increased her vigilance when she saw it.


"This is a special kind of alcohol that has been fermenting for eternity, through magical means. It is not like anything you have ever tasted on Earth."


"You didn't poison it, did you?"


"We dislike senseless killing," Toyohime said as she drank the cup she had offered to Reimu. She offered her own cup in return.


Still pensive as if doubting her eyes, Reimu took the cup. The overly refined fragrance might have felt somehow desolate if consumed on Earth.


"Yukari did an excellent job in pulling your strings."


Said Yorihime.


"What's that supposed to mean?"


"You do not have to completely understand. Just know that we bear no ill will towards whoever came aboard the rocket."


"Now, that's enough talk for today. Let us enjoy the rest for drinking. We shall continue tomorrow."


Outside the circular window, it had completely darkened.


It was no longer possible to view the peach trees through it. However, there were two figures who should not have been there watching.


Something that could never exist on the Lunar Capital, but had been seen by many people on Earth.


In shrines at night, under the willow trees, or in abandoned schools and hospitals. Some people are even able to see them in the middle of the day, out in the cities, or in their own home. They can show up just about anywhere.




The Watatsuki sisters did not notice the figure of a ghost watching them through the window, likely because there are no such things as ghosts in the Lunar Capital.


"Lady Yuyuko, why is Reimu here?"


Youmu spoke in a whisper. She knew Yuyuko was planning something.


Reimu, who was facing the window, told Yorihime and Toyohime of her own war stories, all thoroughly drunk.


Yorihime was interested in the doings on Earth, and listened intently. She might have been hoping to hear about her former mentor.


"I'm so jealous, Youmu."

「え? 何の事ですか?」

"What? Whatever for?"


"How I'd love to enjoy such sumptuous feasts like that every day."


"No, I don't think even you could eat that much. But please never mind that. Why is Reimu here?"


"Maybe she just came calling?"


"I know she came here on the vampire's rocket, but I wonder what happened to the other passengers. That is what I meant."


"I have been with you the whole time, so I have no way of knowing."


"I suppose you're right... Do you believe they have captured the others?"


"But it seems like Reimu is the one they have captured."


"In one sense of the word. However, it appears more like a reception than anything."


Did anyone ever imagine seeing a ghost in the Lunar Capital?


Regardless, as they were meant to be acting in secret, one could not ask for a more convenient form.


Ghosts inherently reside in a Pure Land. This meant they have not been tainted by life nor death, and as a result they were able to act without leaving behind any traces of their presence.


Very few were aware of this fact. Even when youkai invaded the moon long ago, there were only some youkai that noticed by sheer coincidence.


But was it a coincidence that this untainted ghost was here at this mansion?


No, it's clear that this was not a coincidence at all. It was all due to the guidance of that youkai, Yukari Yakumo.


What exactly was the ghost's plan now that they had safely infiltrated the moon?


That would be the final step in Yukari's master plan.


The shrine on the border of Gensokyo.


The trees dyed in red began to lose their color, gradually turning white. As it mimicked white powder falling on the leaves, the trees were eventually came to be called "powdered trees."


At the Hakurei Shrine, the fallen leaves had formed a carpet due to the lack of upkeep, and the leaves from the powdered trees were turning this carpet white.


With its lone tenant absent, the whole building felt desolate. It seemed as the ruins of an old building reclaimed by nature.


As if refusing the weathering state of the shrine, a girl showed up, walking across the leaves, kicking up the newly-fallen white-speckled ones.


"Guess she ain't here today either."


She sat down on the cold offertory box.


"Why didn't those Lunarians let Reimu come back with us, huh? Are they still givin' her the third degree or somethin'?"


Watching for a while to see if anyone else would come, she grew bored of waiting as she expected and left the shrine.


The black magician, then the devil's maid, then the wind-wielding tengu, the shrine had many visitors who came to see if the shrine was still empty in turns, but the shrine's occupant did not return.


While the shrine was silent, the vampire's interest changed from the moon to some other subject. She was unable to forget about the sea that she saw while on the moon, so she said she wanted to make one in Gensokyo.


Making a sea required dissolving sodium into a massive body of water, like a large lake. The surface of the Earth is covered in 70% saltwater. How would it be possible to create such a thing? There was no source of rock salt to be found in Gensokyo. However, it would be possible to collect the salts found in the blood of humans... But salt wasn't the problem.


Even if the Earth would return a sea to Gensokyo, it would not be a host to living things. It would be just like the blue expanse a certain youkai saw not too long ago. It would be a sea without fish or bacteria or anything. There was no need for seawater.


"Can we not widen it a little if you just move those books over there?"


Remilia Scarlet was in the library under her mansion making her own personal sea.


"There is nowhere else to move them, you know," said the exasperated librarian Patchouli Knowledge.


"So we shall move them to an unused room in the mansion."


"What? But then I will have to sort them all over again."


Many of the books in the library had been moved to make room for the massive pile of sand that now covered the floor.


This could not truly be called a sea; merely an indoor pool. It would not be a permanent fixture either.


Why was she creating a space to play in the water in the middle of winter?


It seemed to be how the vampire was planning on expressing her thanks. Her desire to visit the moon was fulfilled thanks to the shrine maiden's power. She thought to build the sea until the shrine maiden returned to Earth, and then invite her to enjoy it.


A sea in a Gensokyo where there had been none. She imagined any human would be pleased by this development.


It wouldn't be until several days later that she received word that the shrine maiden had returned.


"I guess this kind of outfit is okay for a day at the sea, right?"


Reimu Hakurei, returning home after being held for nearly a month on the moon, was preparing for a trip to the beach at the vampire's invitation.

「海ったって紅魔館の地下だぜ? ただの水遊びだと思うが」

"But the sea is under the Scarlet Devil Mansion, ain't it? Seems more like splashin' around at the hot springs to me."


Marisa answered Reimu's question, the usual exchange. The shrine which had many visitors but no residents had appeared to have completely fallen into ruin, but once the resident returned, it immediately returned back to normal. She was vital to the shrine, after all.


"So why are we splashing around in this chill anyway? Ahhhh, it was so warm back on the Lunar Capital. I didn't expect the shrine to get this cold..."


"Buildings with no one in 'em are the coldest. That's 'cause people give buildings their warmth."


"Hmph. They're only cold because of the phantoms that have moved in. Ahhhh, and I still have to clean up and get ready for the New Year ceremonies..." She complained as she continued to prepare for the sea. It appeared her body had yet to accustom itself to the weather.


"I still can't believe they made a sea despite that whole fiasco on the moon. Why don't they think up o' some way to go to a sea here on Earth?"


"Well, that's because that would be even further than the moon."


The seas are further than the moon. That just may be true.


It might be appropriate to make a retort about how the Tanegashima and Kennedy Space Centers float on the sea.


But within the confines of Gensokyo, there were none. For those who had went to the moon yet did not cross the boundaries of Gensokyo, the thought to go outside the boundaries should never have occurred to them. Where there was no sea, all they could do was make one. That's what they believed.


However, the library naturally proved to be too small for the construction of a sea.


The underground library had been submerged, and they took that excuse to further furnish it with palm trees and colorful parasols. A lamp had been placed to imitate the midsummer sun, but the memory of it was too vague to recreate convincingly. It would have been impossible in the first place for a vampire to willingly make anything resembling the sun, but at any rate, it was dim and cold.


The vampire pretended to sunbathe underneath the parasols. Her witch friend read books as always.


"Like I said, it's not right to be playing in the water in the middle of winter!"


Reimu came out of the sea. It seemed particularly cold, not hospitable to the human body.


"Milady, it appears you have a visitor."


The maid at Remilia's side informed her.


Remilia cocked her head and said "Just ignore them," in a tiresome manner. But at that moment, the air was cut by a lukewarm wind that blew across the chilled, winter sea!


An elegant sheet was spread out upon the artificial beach. A figure clad in a bathing suit and a showy parasol sat upon it.


Appearing out of a gap in thin air was the youkai Yukari Yakumo, bearing alcohol.


Yukari had visited to extend an invitation to a party. If one were to receive such an invitation from her, it is only natural to wonder what ulterior motives she may have.


However, upon her forceful appearance, she started her party before anyone could say a word in protest.


Yukari Yakumo had brought her shikigami Ran and her friend Yuyuko Saigyouji, along with her servant Youmu Kompaku. The beach in the basement had suddenly become the scene of a big party.


"Wow, this is an unusual variety of sake." Remilia was genuinely surprised.


Upon hearing this, Yukari replied, "How rude. It is not poisoned, I'll have you know." While nonsensical, Reimu and Marisa actually were suspicious of whether or not it was poisoned, but once the maid partook of the alcohol, they followed suit.

「あれ? この味は何処かで……」霊夢は少し引っかかる所があったが、それが何なのか思い出せない。何故か幽々子が霊夢を見ている。

"Huh? Where have I tasted this before...?" Reimu seemed to be unable to remember, and for some reason, Yuyuko saw Reimu in her puzzled state.


Marisa asked, "This sure is some pure sake. I dunno how they made it, but... where would they make somethin' like this?" Yukari reiterated in response, "It's not poisoned."


Actually, there was a secret behind the sake Yukari had brought. It was sake made in the Lunar Capital.


Ghosts had nothing to do with life nor death. Because of that, they fit in perfectly with the pure nature of the Lunar Capital. During her month-long stay on the moon, Yuyuko's presence there did not raise any suspicions in the least.


This allowed her to brazenly steal the sake, and once the next full moon occurred, Yukari was able to open the way back to Earth.


Yuyuko had simply one reason for her theft.


It was to obtain revenge on the crushing defeat the Watatsuki sisters levied on them so long ago without involving the rest of the Lunarians.


While it was Yukari who led the invasion that had utterly failed more than one thousand years ago, Yukari knew that if she were to attack directly again, it would draw far too much attention.


So she devised a strategy to use the vampire's attack and even herself as decoys. If Yukari was confined to Earth, then there wouldn't be anyone else with the ability to travel between Earth and the moon. That would be the only way to have the Watatsuki sisters lower their guard.


But was the sake heist the true intent of Yukari's Second Lunar Invasion?


"Tell me of what happened on the lunar surface during your assault."


Yukari told the vampire.


"That was so long ago, I have already forgotten. You may harbor thousand-year-old grudges, but I live for the future."

「あら、私が根に持っている? そんな事、誰が言ったのかしら」紫はにやりと笑う。

"Oh my, harboring grudges? Who mentioned anything like that?" Yukari said with a sly grin.

「あれ? 半年前に今年の冬に攻め入るとか言ってなかったっけ?」

"Hm? Didn't you say something about invading the moon this winter six months ago?"


"That was so long ago, I have already forgotten."


Remilia gave a slight laugh and began to recount the time of her trip to the moon.


Despite her nearly incomprehensible explanation of the rocket's construction, her tales of the journey within it, the color of the sea and the defeat at the hands of Watatsuki no Yorihime were amusing.


The surprising thing is that it appeared Remilia felt no particular frustration about losing. She may not have thought she would emerge victorious in the first place, as she knew the combined efforts of Yukari and the other youkai stood no chance either.


So why build a rocket and go to the moon at all?


Yukari's skirmish on the moon was ages before Remilia was born. Perhaps she was jealous.


Of course, their encounter with the group at Eientei was likely a major cause. That is when she first learned of the existence of the Lunar Capital.


To Remilia, that was frontier of her dreams.


"Oh, yes. I have invited other guests today."


At the same time the words left Yukari's mouth, a fairy maid entered the library-turned-sea. Everyone became slightly nervous.


"It appears those you spoke of have arrived to the party..."


Remilia nodded towards the entrance, where two figures had appeared. These rather unusual visitors to the mansion were Eirin Yagokoro and Kaguya Houraisan.

「え? 宴会って聞いて来たのに、温水プール……?」

"What? We heard there was going to be a party, but a heated pool...?"


"It's a sea," said Remilia. "It's a freezing pool," said Reimu, both at the same time.


In the dimly-lit underground was a beach, water, colorful parasols, palm trees and a mixture of human and youkai, some in bathing suits. This scene would likely perplex anyone.


Yukari properly greeted them. "Terribly sorry to keep you waiting," she said as she bowed. Eirin instantly understood the situation and kneeled in seiza on the elegant sheet.


Eirin had a complete understanding of what had happened.


A certain youkai had used the shrine maiden to cause unrest through the rumors in the Lunar Capital.


The shrine maiden did her part by summoning the gods as this youkai had instructed. The only one who had permission to do this was Watatsuki no Yorihime. This made her a suspect as well as her mentor, Eirin Yagokoro. This, too, was plotted by the youkai.


Someone would get the idea to use the power of the Sumiyoshi Sanjin summoned by the shrine maiden to complete the three-stage rocket.


Of course the Sumiyoshi Sanjin, the gods of voyage, would be housed in a tube[1]. Surely, it was the same god of Saturn V, the first American rocket to reach the moon.


The moment Eirin saw the vampire's rocket, she knew that it was built based on a book about rockets from the outside world, but there was no way they were aware of the Sumiyoshi Sanjin's importance.


The only one who would have recognized that need would be someone well-versed in Gensokyo, the outside world and the Lunar Capital. At that moment, it was obvious to Eirin that someone was controlling these events from the shadows.


She was convinced that whomever it was also had the shrine maiden train to summon the gods. So it could only have been Yukari Yakumo.


By using a rabbit that had unexpectedly escaped from the moon, she was able to send a letter to the Watatsuki sisters. If it weren't for that rabbit, she had planned to once again replace the moon with a fake so that only the main perpetrator would not reach the moon. However, that would once again cause unrest throughout Gensokyo so it was a dangerous method...


But Eirin was also uneasy. The one pulling the strings had a vague objective. Even if she felt she had to create a fake moon as a last resort, it was entirely possible nothing would have happened. That alone was ominous enough.


And now she was face-to-face with the mastermind. Yukari was provoking Eirin through an invitation to drink.


"And what strange turn of events led to this?"


Eirin gazed at her surroundings. Given the rocket launch not too long ago and the beach that now occupied most of the library, it could be said this was Gensokyo's very own Cape Canaveral.


"We just thought it necessary to soothe the pain of labor with some sake," Yukari said ominously as she handed some to Eirin.


Eirin's mind moved quickly, but this speed proved to have its weaknesses. Whenever confronted with anything she could not understand, she would pretend to purposefully act composed. It was to prevent revealing she was unsteady.


However, the biggest weakness of wise beings are when they act composed without intending to do so. All wise beings know this.


"Oh, why, thank you," Eirin said as she took the sake.


"How rude. It is not poisoned." This seemed to be a running gag to Yukari.

「? 多少の毒は薬ですわ」

"Hm? But small amounts of poison can be medicine."


Eirin said as she drank the sake.


And the moment it passed through her lips, she froze.


Beside her, Kaguya and a drunken Reimu were talking about something.


"But y'know, the Lunar Capital was a lot more primitive than I thought. Like the, the buildings and stuff..."


Kaguya laughed.

「そう思うでしょう? だから地上の人間はいつまでも下賤なのよ」

"Of course you would. That's why you Earthlings will remain forever inferior."


"What are you saying?"


"Living in houses built out of wood that will never weather away, blessed by nature, quietly playing shogi after finishing our standardized tasks... Is that not the lifestyle humans desire once their technology becomes sufficiently advanced in the far future?"


Reimu took another drink.


"I think we'd like a more fancy lifestyle."


"The only humans who desire that are those who are dead. But it is certain that the lifespan of humans will continue to lengthen. What do you think about that?"

「寿命を減らす技術が発達するんじゃない? 心が腐っても生き続ける事の無いように」

"Invent something to shorten the lifespan, right? It's not like you can keep living after your brain's rotted away."


This answer surprised Kaguya. She truly felt the difference between the pure Lunar Capital and Gensokyo where life and death was a part of their everyday life.


Marisa was talking to Remilia.


"Man, I've had more than enough of all this moon business."


"Why?" asked Remilia, cocking her head.


"Well, I'm glad we got back and all, but that rocket was just a one-way deal, y'know? So wasn't it just a missile?"


"That was because we used the Sumiyoshi Sanjin. On the way there, we lost two parts of it. Since there aren't any six-part gods, we did not have enough to both go to and return from the moon." Remilia waved her finger in the air as if drawing a spiral. It seems it was supposed to represent a six-stage rocket.


"You shoulda done the math for the flesh-and-blood humans like me. On the other hand, you woulda been fine if you were just tied to the thing, bein' a vampire."


"Hmph. If it came to that, I would just fly to the moon myself." Remilia spread her arms out and looked toward the ceiling.


"Better do somethin' about that whole "weak to sunlight" part then."


Marisa laughed as she took another drink. She honestly thought that even Remilia was fed up with the moon.


Eirin took another drink.


There was no doubt about it. Whatever labor they went through to get this sake, it was no ordinary venture. This was not some cheap swill that businessmen would drink after hours, incomprehensible babble spilling from their mouths.


It was an exceedingly ancient sake that had been aging for over a thousand years in the Lunar Capital. Yes, it was likely sleeping even at the time when Eirin fled for Earth.


"Wh-What is this...?" Eirin was clearly shaken. She had shown composure without intending, meaning it was the moment Yukari had been waiting for to strike.


Eirin could never forget the taste of that sake. The purity that was impossible to obtain on the impure Earth, and the deep flavor that came from its millennium-long slumber.


"It must have been centuries since you left your hometown. I thought you were becoming distraught with homesickness, so I had some sake from the Lunar Capital prepared for you."


Yukari grinned.


That ominous smile left a deep scar in Eirin's mind, something she would never be able to forget. To make those who cannot die question the meaning of living. To make them fear the unknown, what they cannot understand.


That was the true intention behind Yukari's Second Lunar Invasion.


  1. 筒 (tube) is in each of the three gods' names: Sokotsutsu no O no Mikoto (底筒男命), Nakatsutsu no O no Mikoto (中筒男命), and Uwatsutsu no O no Mikoto (表筒男命). Naturally, they would be embodied in a (vaguely) tube-shaped rocket.
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