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Reika Hakurei

"I don't care how others see me. I only wish to protect everybody."

0 · 398 views · located in Gensokyo

a character in “Denouement of a Fantasy Era”, as played by Lloyd999

Description



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"No life is without purpose, some people just have more unfortunate purposes than others. Mine is to change those fates."



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PERSONAL INFORMATION





ImageFULL NAME
      Reika Hakurei

TITLE
      The Fierce Shrine Maiden of Hakurei

AGE
      32

GENDER
      Female

SPECIES
      Human

ETHNICITY
      Japanese

OCCUPATION
      Shrine Maiden

GENERAL APPEARANCE
      If there is one thing that Reika is most known for, it is her size. She's over six feet tall, towering over nearly everybody she knows. Combined with her hard muscle tone, Reika is often compared to an Oni. As well as being very muscular, she also has a rather curvy figure, which is most obvious when she's in her combat wear. Scars cover large portions of her body, mostly around her arms and hands, due to her long experience of physical combat against Youkai. Reida has a narrow face, brown eyes and, unlike her daughter, she has long black hair.

      Reika's clothing tends to vary. When she is doing shrine-related rituals, she wears a red hakama, a white kimono and sandals like a shrine maiden typically would. When she has to deal with Youkai, instead of the kimono she'll wear a sleeveless red top, detached white sleeves and a tight black leotard underneath, as well as combat books. Typically, she'll have her bangs in hair tubes which occasionally have ceremonial bells on them (depending on the occasion.)



PERSONALITY TRAITS




ImagePERSONALITY

      Most would think of Reika as a cold and unthinking fighter, always retaining a stoic expression and a soul-piercing glare as she pummels Youkai to a pulp. Yet, while she certainly appears that way when she's in a bad mood, in reality, Reika is a very caring and compassionate woman. She might not be the most social person, as she doesn't often interact with other humans other than while she's fulfilling her duty as a Youkai hunter, and is usually very serious and somewhat frightening when doing so. Reika adopts this face in front of both humans and Youkai as she does not want to show any sort of weakness.

      When among family, she also attempts to retain a strong expression, not wanting to disappoint her predecessor (her mother) or her successor (her daughter). She might be a strict mother, but she's always has her daughter's well-being in mind. That said, it isn't as if she can't be unprofessional in front of them. Reika and her mother may take their duties very seriously, but her mother's occasionally casual nature does rub off on Reika, who often acts in false irritation toward her. Reika also tries to be an encouraging and strong figure toward her daughter and is always teaching her the ways of the Hakurei shrine maiden. Everything she does is because she cares for her family, even if she isn't quite doing it right.

      As caring as she might be under her cold exterior, Reika does have some negative traits. Reika tends to hold grudges, and when she holds a grudge, she will not let it go. Reika also hates Youkai, even without having any justification for her hatred. She merely believes that all Youkai, by nature, attack humans, and she tends to blame them for any and all of her problems. While she has no qualms against brutalizing Youkai, she absolutely refuses to harm humans, regardless of any quarrels she may have with them. Though some humans may think of her as monstrous, she justifies that only monsters attack humans. Still, she fears being considered as such, as she wishes to do nothing but good for the sake of her family, her friends and all humankind, and her method of doing so is to fulfill her duty as the Hakurei Shrine Maiden, to exterminate all Youkai. A world without Youkai is a better place after all.

      Isn't it?

LIKES DISLIKES
Humans Youkai
Her family Her sister-in-law
Mockingbirds Heights




COMBAT ABILITIES




ImageABILITIES
      The Hakurei are among the most gifted humans in all of Gensokyo. Their bloodline and their continued service of their deity grants them many blessings, especially in the girls of the family. Different shrine maidens tend to have slightly different blessings, but Reika inherits many of the traits of her predecessors.

      The ability to fight Youkai ~ Reika's unique blessing is quite unlike that of all her ancestors. Reika was born with a lot of spiritual energy, even for a Hakurei, but her energy is quite unstable. Although it is difficult for her to use typical spiritual attacks or effectively use a weapon such as a bow, Reika is able to transfer her energy into raw power, giving her supernatural strength and stamina in battle, comparable to that of a Youkai. Ordinarily, physical attacks aren't all that effective against Youkai, but Reika is gifted with the ability to severely harm Youkai with her punches and kicks to the point where it is difficult for them to recover. Although her battles tend to be long and drawn out, Reika will maintain as much stamina as her will to fight. Her will it the source of her energy, and as long as it stays strong, she will be strong. That said, whenever she doesn't have the will to fight, she weakens, so until she gets into a fight, her supernatural abilities aren't as active. That said, rigorous training does make her about as strong, if not stronger, than ordinary men. Still, using constant or strenuous usage of this power will put strain on her body, and she may have trouble recovering from both wounds and fatigue.
      The ability to manipulate the Yin-Yang orbs ~ The Yin-Yang orb is a sacred jewel to the Hakurei family and a shintai to the god that inhabits the shrine. Therefore, it holds the power of the god within it, and it takes a lot of training to be able to handle it properly. Reika hasn't entirely mastered it and thus, can only use it in a limited amount of ways, such as manipulating its size and launching it toward enemies, as well as use it as a shield. If not properly controlled, it could harm Reika as well. Reika's mother, Chiyoko, has full mastery over the orb's usage and can do a variety of things with it, such as multiply it, control its movement with her will and make use of its true power, a power that Reika desperately wants to master, just as any woman would. It's true powers include;
        1. The ability to eat sweets and not get fat
        2. The effect of giving its user whatever scent they desire
        3. The ability to turn into a cat whenever the user chooses
      The ability to channel gods ~ Reika is still training in this ability, but as a shrine maiden, Reika has the ability to channel gods within her own body and she may make use of their blessings for whatever purpose she needs, as long as she can perform the rituals correctly and retains enough focus. While Reika has no problem doing so in rituals such as Kagura dances (as well as with the help of sacred sake) she hasn't completely mastered how to do it in the middle of a combat situation.
      The ability to manipulate barriers ~ While the Hakurei are known commonly for their ability to deal with Youkai, they're original blessing was the ability to manipulate magical barriers using techniques that had been passed down between generations since ancient times. It is said that the original blessing of the Hakurei deity was that of barrier manipulation. Using their affinity with magical barriers, the Hakurei had access to all sorts of abilities such as the ability to seal Youkai into objects, and even the ability to seal away powerful Youkai by opening the barriers to Hell or Makai (the demon realm). Both Reika and her mother are knowledgeable in the techniques of barrier manipulation, but Reika rarely ever makes use of it, as she relies not on sealing Youkai, but on either exterminating them or beating them within an inch of their life. Reika's spiritual energy is also too unstable to make use of barriers within combat for defensive purposes.
[/list]

WEAPONS/TOOLS
      Gohei ~ A wand commonly used by shrine maidens for rituals, offerings and exorcisms. It's not really a weapon, so Reika doesn't really use one in combat as she relies more on her physical abilities anyway. Nonetheless, she commonly carries one around for the sake of rituals, as well as exorcising spirits that can't be dealt with using one's fists.

      Ofuda ~ Another tool commonly use by shrine maidens, ofuda are inscribed slips of paper used as talismans or amulets. They tend to be used for purification and exorcisms, but they are also key to the barrier manipulation techniques of the Hakurei. Some Hakurei shrine maidens are known to use them for combat usage, where they can lock onto evil presences and attack, but Reika does not use them this way. Nonetheless, she is skilled at making them and often carries many around for any purpose.

      Persuasion Needles ~ Long needles commonly used by the Hakurei specialized Youkai combat and extermination. Most commonly, they are thrown at enemies and can prove to be very harmful toward Youkai, seeing as they are charmed for purification. Reika uncommonly uses these in combat, although her accuracy isn't perfect. She has developed a technique, however, where she can use ofuda to attach them to her fists, effectively acting as deadly claws.

STRENGTHS
      - Reika is physically stronger than ordinary humans and some Youkai. She also has great speed and stamina.
      - Reika is a stubborn as a mule and would never give up against a Youkai.
      - Reika inherited and learned many talents from her predecessors as the Hakurei shrine maiden, who are considered to be one of the strongest families against the Youkai in Japan.

WEAKNESSES
      - Reika refuses to harm humans, even if another's life is in danger.
      - Reika tends to have a one-track mind and when she's set on something, she may not listen to reason against it.
      - Constant application of her powers can leave her physically drained and make it difficult for her to recover.



BACKGROUND




FAMILY
      Chiyoko Hakurei||56[|Mother
      Chou||8||Daughter

ImageHISTORY
      From birth, Reika was clearly special. The Hakurei were quite well known for being a spiritually strong family, but somehow, Reika was born with an unusually high amount of spiritual energy, just about unstably so. That said, as a child, Reika grew up learning the Hakurei way, being strictly taught in the various techniques and rituals essential for a Hakurei shrine maiden to know. Reika had a lot of difficulty doing so, it seemed, due to her high spiritual energy being very unstable. Yet, while she was no good at rituals which required concentration, nor was she any good with using Youkai extermination tools such as a sacred bow or staff, Reika did at some point unlock her true potential, her absurd physical strength. It only became apparent whenever she had any sort of outburst, but over lots of time and training, Reika's mentors were able to get her to learn how to control her power. As Reika matured, it was quite apparent that not only did she have a lot of spiritual power, she was also very tall.

      As a teenager, Reika would participate in many rituals and even join her family in Youkai extermination, not that incidents were all that common when Reika was a child. By adulthood, Reika's family had grown awfully small, the many older members of her family all either dying from age or falling prey to the Youkai. Reika, on the otherhand, had been a skilled fighter, and was often considered a prodigy among Hakurei. "The Dragon King's Blessing" is what they called her talents. Indeed, she had gained quite the reputation among the humans, but while she was often hailed as an ultimate weapon against the Youkai, there was also a sort of a bad stigma attached to her. Being tall, unusually powerful for a woman and absolutely ferocious in combat, humans tended to be uneasy around here. What with many of the Hakureis having passed away and Reika mainly being in charge of the shrine, worshipers that came to the shrine became fewer and fewer. Reika never took it personally, however.

      At about the age of 23, due to an agreement between the Hakurei clan and the the Takeshi household, the resident Samurai clan of the village, Reika was arranged to wed a man from the house, Koizumi Takeshi. She was against it at first, perhaps out of pride as well as a sense of independence, but eventually, she agreed to go through with it. The nature of their relationship isn't truly known as they rarely went into public together, Reika more so than Koizumi. Rumors definitely spread among the village people, although nobody knew for sure what went on. The two did, however, conceive a child, Chou. Part of the agreement was for them to have at least two children together, yet they never had a second.

      A period of months after Chou was born, the two had went into public together for the first time for the sake of resolving an incident. It was said that although they stood together, they seemed indifferent and stoic. Nonetheless, the two traveled deep into the forest toward Youkai Mountain. They were gone for two days. Reika returned with her husbands corpse in her arms, her hands bandaged and soaked in water and her sleeves stained with blood. They say she still had the same stoic expression when she carried to the courtyard of the Takeshi house, but she didn't say a word. It wasn't uncommon to see people who've went out into the woods come back, mangled, slashed, crushed, burned, frozen, drowned, dismembered, gutted or drained of their souls, yet it was more common for them to never come back at all. Naturally, the rumors picked up again, and where the accusations were made, Reika was scarce. The accusations have more or less faded today, but that bad stigma of suspicion still hangs over Reika. Those unaware are quick to be made aware.

      Ever since, however, Reika has been raising her Chou with care. Reika often enforces strict teachings upon her and tries to mentor her just as her predecessors did before, although Reika's mother, Chiyoko, isn't nearly as strict on her granddaughter as she was (and still sort of is) on her daughter. Chou had been taught many things such how to perform rituals, make ofuda and even knows a vast amount of folktales about Gods and Youkai from both her guardians, but while Reika has taught her a lot about various types of Youkai, their weaknesses and how to repel them, Reika had unconsciously avoided teaching her about how to properly combat and exterminate Youkai. Reika even refuses to bring Chou along whenever she's performing an exorcism. Typically, Reika avoids taking Chou with her whenever she is away from the shrine. Chou only occasionally goes to the village with Chiyoko and thus, doesn't really have any relationships beyond that of her family. Reika is not entirely happy about it, but she believes it's for Chou's own good. After all, she doesn't want Chou to ever have to see the stares.

      [That Hakurei, she has the look of a Youkai.]



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So begins...

Reika Hakurei's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Reika Hakurei Character Portrait: Kiyoko momoe Character Portrait: Fujiwara no Mokou Character Portrait: Marran Yanada Character Portrait: Rumiko Lumikko Character Portrait: Suika Ibuki Character Portrait: Yukari Yakumo Character Portrait: Rin Nyasai
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Within Gensokyo,
The land is painted pink
With cherry blossoms.
The valley folk celebrate
How fleeting life truly is.

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With the arrival of spring comes the well-anticipated blooming of the cherry blossoms. Throughout the country and throughout it's history, people have been mesmerized by the sight of cherry trues in bloom, as temporary as they may be. Perhaps it's their fleetingness that draws people to them. Some people look at them and think of death, whereas others just admire they're beauty without thinking too deeply. Indeed, there must be something supernatural about them that draws people to want to do nothing but sit under them and just allow themselves to be mesmerized.

The land between the mountains, almost forgotten by society, was definitely one of such mesmerizing sights. The pink and white treetops stretched out over vast tracks of land, most heavily clustered around the high ground where only a single shrine sat. The shrine was not the only place in bloom. Thousands of flowers bordered the Misty Lake, where fairies sung and danced. The Forest of Magic was somewhat lacking in terms of blossoms, with the exception of some notable clusters, yet rare flowers that only grew in the darkest jungles could be found within these shady woods. The various fields that sat between the forests of Gensokyo were covered in flowers as well. Even the Bamboo Forest of the Lost was in full bloom, an exceedingly uncommon event that only ever occurred once every sixty years.

It seemed as if the flowers were going to take over Gensokyo. Perhaps they were making up for the disappointing blooms of last year, when consecutive heavy rain quickly ruined the cherry blossoms in a period of a few short days, leaving no time for any decent flower viewings. Perhaps it was for this reason that the humans of the village were especially rowdy this year. In times of relative peace, the village people tended to host festivals that lasted as long as the cherry blossoms did, where they'd sing, dance, recite, act, drink and have a great time while viewing the cherry blossoms. There was no real meaning to these celebrations other than to simply forget all the bad things in life and have a good time while being surrounded by a breathtaking environment, and to admire the cherry blossoms, of course.

Still, even amidst all this festivity is that unshakable feeling of suspicion and dread that one gets used to when living in Gensokyo, the feeling that at any moment, a Youkai may appear and attack you. However, thanks to recent triumphs in Youkai extermination, such as a complete clean-sweep of all Tsukumogami within the village, the villagers have been able to enjoy some peace of mind.

The Youkai, however, are in a period of unrest. With the security of the village increased, attacking the village directly seems unthinkable for any lone creature. The Youkai, for the most part, are scattered and unorganized, none of them possibly brave enough to try to cause any real incidents. The organized powers are also in unrest. In secret locations, the Youkai leaders meet to discuss their concerns for the future of Gensokyo, but it seems as if such a future is going to be a grim one.

Among disunified Youkai, festive humans and a suspicious spring does our tale start. Let us all spin the tale that puts a close to all folktales. Let this denouement begin.

The setting changes from gensokyo to Hakurei Shrine

Setting

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Character Portrait: Reika Hakurei
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"Hold... and up... Reika, straighten up! Chou, fix your fan dear... Out, and down... Reika, your knees! Bend your knees, not your back! Up to level position... Very good, Chou. Bow, stand. Leg up. Too quick, Reika! Leg down again. Close your fan. You got it Chou. Crouch, out, up and- Reika! Fix yourself!" Reika tensed up and brought her fan to a level position with her eyes. "Now open. Too slow, Reika! Bring it up! Higher! Wrong way, Reika! Chou, dear, your fan's backwards again... Turn, down, now face to the left. Reika!" Chiyoko got up and approached Reika and snatched the fan out of her hand. "Look here, Reika. This is how you turn." Chiyoko did a gentle sweeping motion with her arm as she turned. "Notice the feet. You have to sli~ide your feet, you don't raise the knees. You're waist needs to be level." She closed the fan and whacked Reika's hip with it. "Level!" Reika pursed her lips.

"Alright," Chiyoko handed her fan back with a dissatisfied expression and returned to her seat upon the deck of the shrine, "Let's go back from the top, this'll be the last time. We have to get going soon." Reika glanced at the sun, and indeed, it was high noon. The Hakureis had spent the entirety of the morning going over their dance routine for their Kagura dance presentation of which they were going to preform at the festival within the village. The Hakureis didn't usually preform publicly, much less at the village, but with all the festivities occurring, it seemed to be the best way to receive of a lot of attention, and with attention came donations. They were going to perform multiple times, once for every day of the festivities (of which, starting that day, would occur for a week) and they would be performing in front of potentially large audiences, which would almost guarantee that they would receive generous donations. Donations were their main source of income, after all.

Reika's mother used to perform Kagura dances quite often during festivals at the shrine. Reika would remember watching her mother and her aunt dance gracefully together when she was younger, dressed in patterned robes and decorated crowns. The grounds used to be absolutely filled with people, more people than one would imagine the relatively small clearing to handle. Those huge events, however, didn't exactly occur too often anymore. Now, the shrine only hosted small events such as marriages or Miyamairi. However, every now and then, the Hakureis be called to participate within festivals that occurred within the village, such as this one.

Chiyoko watched the two girls dressed in red and white, Reika and her daughter, as they went over the whole dance routine. Miko Kagura was a very slow and controlled dance, filled with gentle, graceful movements with a lack of any form of theatrics. Dances often included various tools, which in this case consisted of fans and bells. This particular dance began with the two presenting their fans and waving them around in controlled, synchronized movements, opening and closing them constantly, and in the middle of it, they switched their fans for wands covered in bells. The movements were very careful and slow, as even the slightest noises created by the bells were part of the routine and needed to be controlled. The purpose of this dance, at least in ancient times, was to call upon the gods within the bodies of the dancers to convince them to dance along. However...

"It'll do," Chiyoko said, although she was clearly unsatisfied, looking at Reika. Reika wasn't all that happy either, for different reasons.

"Did we do good?" Chou asked in her sweet little voice of a wind chime. She couldn't help but rattle the bells in her hand, now that she had the opportunity to do so freely.

"You were great, Chou," Reika said, putting her hand over her head. "Great?" Chiyoko pitched in, "She was beautiful, dear. Chou's a natural at this. Her movements are perfect and her balance is just as expected of a Hakurei. Chou, you nearly brought a tear to my eye." Chiyoko brought her finger up to her eyelid to wipe off invisible tears. Chou giggled and ran into her grandmother's lap. "Your mother," Chiyoko's eyes darted to Reika, "could learn a lot from you. Reika, what ever happened to everything I've taught you as a child, about balance. You're movements are much too erratic, you've no sense of pace."

"I understand," Reika said, crossing her arms and mustering up a stoic expression. Her mother was always right, after all. Reika always had difficulty mustering up that sense of balance that everyone else in her family seems to be born with. Her mother's sense of balance must have been even more extraordinary, seeing as she was great at detecting imbalances. "Chi-Chi needs to train you harder," Chou teased. Chiyoko nodded in agreement. Reika couldn't help but grin. "Chou, when I was your age, Chi-Chi used to train me in this dance routine in the middle of the night, in winter, under a waterfall, while I was naked." Chou broke into a giggling fit.

"That was to train your focus," Chiyoko responded, "and that was your aunts idea. Mine was for you to do it over hot coals. Your father thought her idea was cheaper, though..." Chiyoko seemed to be considering something, hopefully not over the current viability of that sort of training. "Well, the level you're at right now should be alright for the festival, but we need to perfect you're ability to dance if we're going to move onto the next phase of your training; to be able to channel the gods at any time." Reika bowed in acknowledgement. Chiyoko began to stretch.

"Well, I'd say we better head off to the village now," she said, "A half an hour walk means, if we walk now, we should still be at least an hour ahead of time, and it would be best if we all got there together." Chiyoko glanced at Reika, who was stretching her shoulders. "As long as we don't run into any problems," Reika responded cryptically to a hidden question. Chiyoko patted Chou's shoulder. "Chou, dear, why don't you go get the snacks we packed," Chiyoko asked, "Your mother and I will be waiting out here ready to go with the things." Chou nodded in compliance and gave Chiyoko her bells before heading into the shrine's main building. Reika gave her own bells to Chiyoko before picking up both their fans off the ground and placing them within the breast of her kimono.

"When are you going to start teaching her about Youkai extermination?" Chiyoko asked this question very suddenly, it caused Reika to flinch for a split second. "I'd rather she grew a little first," Reika responded with her arms crossed. "What's wrong? She's at about the same age as you were when you caught your first Tanuki Youkai. She may not have your power, but she's got a talent for focus that even I didn't have. Why, when she gets older, she might even outsmart a Satori. In fact, it might just be possible for her to handle old Genji's power."

Reika shook her head. "That's absurd. The power of flight? For a human? Unthinkable. Not even a machine could do it. And besides," she lowered her voice, "I'd rather she have nothing to do with Youkai extermination until she's mature enough to handle it." "Mature enough!?" Chiyoko raised her voice more than she meant to. She spoke in a more controlled tone, "How does she need to be mature? You were able to handle it just fine, even eager to. It's not like she's a, a sympathizer." Chiyoko had trouble with the word, as if it was even taboo to say out loud.

"That's... not what I meant. It's not that I'm worried about whether she can handle doing it. It's just..." I don't want her to become like me, is what she felt like saying, but she couldn't muster up the courage to say so in front of her mother. "... I don't want her to become distant from people. She already has lived with us all her life, away from other children her age. I just feel... I feel she'll lose sight of what's important if, if she doesn't quite understand it yet."

"Rei," Chiyoko said in a serious tone, "I understand that you may think this kind of training will be too difficult for her, but if she doesn't begin anytime soon, her true powers may never blossom. She's got so much potential that is only found in one of a million. With the right training, she could be the most talented Hakurei Shrine maiden that ever lived and a great Youkai exterminator. Yet every day that she is unprepared to combat the Youkai is another day where she is in danger. She might become a huge target for enemies both infamous to us and unknown. There may come a time where her life will be in danger and neither of us are there for her, possibly soon, possibly never. As difficult as you may think this is, it will be easier for her than it ever was for you, and it will be for her own good. We trained you at such a young age for this very reason."

Reika stood in silent consideration. "You need to consider what's best for her," Chiyoko concluded. They both sat in silence as they took a few seconds to think as they waited for Chou.

"Chou," Reika called, "What's taking so long? Let's go!"

The setting changes from hakurei-shrine to Gensokyo

Setting

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Character Portrait: Reika Hakurei
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In the middle of the town was a wooden stage, with a bridgeway that extended from the left side of it and a curved roof on top. At the very back of the stage was a wall with the design of a tree on it. It was a stage for Noh plays, one that had been built the day before. The audience, which sat in front and on the right side of the stage, had been small at first, but was steadily increasing. A chorus sat in a section that extended out from the right of the stage. A stage assistant sat at the very back. On the stage were two male actors, who had been on the stage for the entire play. They're movements were gentle and controlled, but were extremely slow. Yet, despite the fact that they were moving way too slow to be interesting, the audience seemed to be mesmerized.

The play itself had a strange premise. Two men, Didi and Gogo, were waiting for a mysterious person by the name of Godot. They engage in meaningless banter, philosophize, argue, sing, dance, attempt suicide, encounter a passerbyer named Pozzo and his servant Lucky, attempt to remember the past, receive a message from Godot's servant that Godot is unable to arrive, and do the very same things the next day. The entire premise seemed absurd. Absolutely nothing moved on, time never moved forward and everything repeated itself. Yet, despite being a play where nothing happened, the audience seemed to be glued to their seats, waiting for more.

As the play ended, Reika and Chiyoko sat in silence, thinking. Chou, however, seemed bored out of her mind. The three of them were sitting near the back of the audience on their knees. They'd missed half of the play by the time they got there, but it didn't seem to matter. Their presence was mainly unnoticed for that reason.

"I didn't get it," Chou declared, "Why are they waiting for that guy anyway?" Chiyoko and Reika closed their eyes, deep in thought, trying to reflect on the absurd nature of the play. In the end, the mysterious Godot never appeared and the play ended just as it began, with two men waiting for somebody who never arrives.

"Perhaps," Chiyoko hypothesized, "Godot is supposed to be a god, and the men are non-believers. They want Godot's help but Godot never comes for they provide him with no faith. Didi even doubts the ultimate truth of the legends about the gods, and Gogo constantly wants to leave. Godot's servant must be a priest who is able to channel Godot's will. Remember that the first time he appeared, he mentions that Godot beats him, yet the second time he appears, claiming that he's a different servant, he mentions that Godot is nice to him and the person who he beats is his brother, the other servant. This is a clear representation of the positive and negative sides of gods. Without faith, Didi and Gogo are confused about their direction in life, and thus their lives cannot go forward, not without the guidance of Godot." Chiyoko seemed rather confident about her explanation, although she wasn't smiling, as if still in thought.

"I don't think that's completely true," Reika interjected, "Didi never outright says he doesn't believe in the gods. He was just trying to understand why people told the same tale different. Also, if the two men were non-believers, why would they be waiting for a god's guidance anyway? The way I see it, the two men are strong believers in Godot. They wait so desperately for Godot because they strongly believe that he will answer their problems. As time goes on, they have plenty of doubts, but their faith is still strong enough to wait for him. The non-believers would have to be Pozzo and Lucky. Pozzo is a rich master, yet despite being rich, he never seems to be happy unless he is recognized, as if he was mocking the gods. Lucky perhaps was once a believer, but his beliefs were shattered, making him an empty shell of a man who has lost all hope. Thus, he puts his faith, and his freedom, in Pozzo, and blindly follows him, despite being treated like livestock. That outburst he has when he thinks is him letting out all his stress about living in a materialistic world, like that of the west. Yet, Didi and Gogo still continue to put their faith in Godot. When whenever their faith began to waiver, they contemplate suicide, yet when they are unable to, their thoughts go right back to Godot, who they believe will save them. Godot never arrives, however. The servant always comes with some excuse or another as to why Godot is unable to arrive, which Didi questions, but in the end, Godot never appears because he doesn't even exist. Didi and Gogo are believing in a false god. So, Didi and Gogo continue to wait for a god who will never answer them." Chiyoko and Chou, amazingly, seemed to be attentively listening. Chiyoko seemed to have a look of suspicion, but Chou appeared confused.

"But," Chou asked, "why do they wait so long for him? If he won't come, why don't they just stop waiting? ... Shouldn't they just ask another god?" Chiyoko seemed rather interested in hearing Reika's answer, glaring at her. Reika felt uneasy because of it.

"Maybe," Reika guessed, "maybe Godot is the only god they believe in, like from one of those monotheistic religions from the west..." Chiyoko seemed to be frowning, one of those frowns that told Reika that she was doing something wrong, a signal to rectify her own mistakes. Reika tried to come up with a different explanation, but nothing could come out.

"Or maybe," Chou interjected, "they tried asking other gods, but they wouldn't help them because they weren't giving them any faith," Chou moved over to sit in her grandmother's lap, "Right, Chi-chi?" Chiyoko smiled and ran her fingers through Chou's hair. She apparently had met her approval. Chou asked her, "When are we going up there?"

"After the next play," Chiyoko explained, "will be the intermission, the Kyogen play. During that time is when we will be getting ready for our performance. That shouldn't be too long from now." Currently, it seemed there was a rather short break before the next play was going to be performed. Reika was beginning to get somewhat unnerved. While the play was going on, the presence of the Hakureis was hardly noticed, but now, Reika could feel their glances. Nobody was really paying them any mind, but being looked at made her feel anxious. Reika wasn't wearing what she typically wore whenever she had to go to the village, she was merely wearing her shrine maiden robes, but it wasn't too difficult for people to recognize her from her figure. Reika wasn't comfortable with drawing attention to her family.

Although, there was something that made her more anxious. Reika couldn't put her finger on it, but it was like there was some sort of tension in the air, like a malevolent presence. Reika had felt it ever since the three of them had entered the village, but now, it felt as if the presence was exerting some sort of force, like a pulling. There was no other way to describe it. Reika thought she'd mention it to Chiyoko.

"Reika," Chiyoko called in a low voice, bringing her away from her thoughts, "Upwind, there seems to be a commotion. Perhaps you should take a look." Reika considered her mother's words attentively. Reika thought she heard some shouting further away, although she wasn't entirely sure. Chiyoko probably had better hearing, or maybe she used her stronger intuition. Whatever it was, Chiyoko seemed to be able to sense some sort of unrest happening elsewhere in the village. Didn't she notice the strange presence as well?

"I understand, I'll take a look," Reika responded, before patting Chou's head, "I'll be right back, so stay with Chi-Chi, alright?" "But Noh is so boring," she whined, "and I don't get it at all." This wasn't the first time she made this complaint. She'd asked to play on her own multiple times throughout the performance and would be quickly hushed by Reika each time. Reika pursed her lips and glanced at her mother for a response. "Then perhaps we should take a break," Chiyoko suggested, "Why not we find a place to sit and have our snacks now?" Chiyoko picked up a bundle of cloth that sat at her side, in which a couple of rice balls were wrapped in. Chou seemed rather happy with this idea. With that settled, the three of them stood up and parted ways. Reika made her way toward where the commotion was being caused.

Just uproad was what seemed to be a party of guards escorting a norimono. Villagers crowded on either side of the road, some of them crying out at the escorts. Apparently, they were calling for the removal of a Youkai. The guards made no response to their calls. They merely continued to escort their transport further and further into the village. Were they transporting a Youkai? Upon further inspection, it appeared as if the norimono was covered in paper talismans, a very typical practice for keeping a Youkai trapped within something. Didn't they have any idea how dangerous it was regardless? Bringing a Youkai this far into town was just asking for trouble. Reika wondered exactly who in the world could possibly consider such a thoughtless action.

Reika's question was answered pretty quickly, however, when she locked eyes with the person who appeared to be leading them. A woman with long, purple hair, and a detestable scowl. She dressed in long white robes and a red vest, and carried two swords by her side, the obvious indicators of a samurai. The two of them stood still, several meters away from each other in the middle of the path, both with their arms crossed in their sleeves. The escorts were somewhat confused as to why they had stopped.

"Reika Hakurei," the woman called, "what brings you here?"

"What brings me, Meiko Takeshi," Reika responded allowed, "is word that you are harboring a Youkai."

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"Jumping to conclusions as usual, I see," Meiko said in a condescending tone. Her brow was furrowed deeper than Reika's was, and although she seemed calm, it seemed as if she was suppressing some kind of irritation. "As expected of a Hakurei, turning hostile immediately without a single thought toward a second of investigation."

"I did not stop you to have you criticize my means of incident resolution," Reika announced in a controlled tone, approaching the samurai woman, "I came because you are causing wide unrest to the people, and you will resolve this issue. If you are bringing a Youkai into our village, I will stop you." A small crowd began to create a circle around the escorting party and Reika. The guards preventing them from getting close, with their naginatas in hand. The two woman stood face-to-face, although Reika towered over Meiko.

"Well then," Meiko retorted, "I suppose you have no place here, for there is no Youkai here. There are none. Our 'spring cleaning' has made absolutely sure of that, so you may all keep your peace."

"Then identify who or what is within that transport," Reika requested immediately, "so that I and these people can keep their peace." Meiko scowled.

"This person is a special guest of the Takeshi household," she responded sharply, "who's identity and reason for summons is strictly confidential, and we would prefer that he remained undisturbed during his transport." The crowd broke out into an uproar.

"They arrested a Youkai," a man called, "and that Youkai's in there right now! A thief and a Youkai!" Several of the bystanders called out in agreement and shouted at the guards, demanding that the Youkai be seen or taken away. One even called out, "That woman sleeps with Youkai!"

"I'd hate to go against the wishes of the Takeshis," Reika explained calmly, "But I will have to go against your wishes when I say this. I demand to be able to identify the passenger myself." Somehow, that demand seemed to visibly hit Meiko, as she flinched.

"You will not," Meiko hissed, "As the acting head of village security, I do not allow you to disturb this child." Although she was facing somebody much taller than herself, Meiko was defiant and unshaken, her hands firm on her hips. Reika only met her with her stoic, stone-faced expression she used everywhere, devoid of emotion beyond a seemingly cold and calculating mind.

"As a woman of the Takeshi household," Reika responded, much to Meiko's dismay, "you have no power over myself, a shrine maiden of the Hakurei clan who bears the child of Koizumi Takeshi. Now, as the Hakurei shrine maiden, I demand that I be allowed to confirm the identity of your transport." Meiko was completely shaken by that statement. Her teeth were bared as she attempted to respond.

"Y...You-" she cried, but caught herself. She was visibly shaking. "You hag," she said under her breath. Reika's stoic expression retained, neither mocking her nor scowling at her. Meiko hesitated for several seconds, looking between Reika, the bystanders and her entourage before wordlessly signalling them. The two carriers set the norimono down carefully and Reika approached the side of it. Meiko signaled a guard to open the door, which he complied. Reika crouched to take a look inside.

Within the small carriage sat what appeared to be a young, teenage boy with short silver hair and tattered clothing. He stared back at Reika solemnly with golden eyes. For the most part, he seemed very ordinary. Youkai, however, loved to take on human appearances, and there was something peculiar about this child.

"Identify yourself," Reika demanded. He did not speak. "Give me your name," Reika ordered, not changing her tone, "Any name will do." He looked away, as if to consider it. He said it in barely a whisper; "...R-Rinnosuke..." "Is this your given name?" The boy nodded. Reika eyeballed the boy up and down. Reika wasn't from the village, so she couldn't identify him or his family personally, but she did imagine that the boy didn't want to expose his own family. In a village, unlike the cities of outside, everybody knew who everybody was, so a bad reputation tended to stick, sometimes for generations.

"Rinnosuke, where are these guards taking you?" Rinnosuke averted her gaze for a second, trying to find something elsewhere, before considering the answer himself. "I don't know," he said more steadily, "I'd imagine it'd be someplace nicer... Her house, I think." Reika glanced at Meiko, who averted her gaze. "By 'Her'," Reika questioned the boy, "Are you referring to the samurai woman, the acting head?" "Yeah, I guess." Reika began to wonder exactly what was Meiko's relationship with the boy.

"Why do you believe you're going to the Takeshi residence?" Reika asked. "Well, maybe because I heard them, the guards, say it," Rinnosuke responded, somewhat haughtily, "although, it could be because she has stuff... Things." Reika felt that sounded suspicious. "What sort of things are you talking about?"

"I don't know, samurai things I guess," Rinnosuke answered, before elaborating,"Family treasures, I'd imagine. Hopefully weird things and not just ancient things. I like new things better. I guess I like things in general. She said she'd show me things, and by she I'm referring to Ms. Takeshi... I guess." Reika felt something was off. His speech seemed strange, inconsistent. He seemed to talk like a boy sometimes, yet sometimes he'd use more formal speech patterns and phrases one expected from an adult.

"Can you read?" Reika asked. He shook his head. If he couldn't read, that meant he must have come from a poor family, which would explain the tatters. He was probably also uneducated, which made his speech even stranger. Did he simply pick it up from adults? "Rinnosuke," Reika asked, "why is it that you like 'things'?" "That's confidential," Meiko interrupted. Reika ignored her. "Rinnosuke," she ordered, "answer the question."

"I guess it's because they have names. Every 'thing' has a name somebody gave to it, and a purpose. That's it's nature, I guess. I like looking at those. Names mean a lot, I guess. Like this 'Norimono'. It's purpose is to transport people. I guess it's name is pretty simple. Nori means 'to ride' and mono means 'thing'." Reika grew tense. Rinnosuke continued. "But, sometimes, I don't know what things mean and I guess they're interesting because of that." Reika took a moment to think. She knew she felt something and she may have had an inkling of what it was.

"Rinnosuke, I'd like to ask you," Reika said, "do you know the names of the weapons that Ms. Takeshi wears?" Rinnosuke pondered it. "I guess one of them is a katana," he answered, "but I don't really remember what the other one is." "What if you saw it?" Reika asked. "I guess," Rinnosuke replied, "I might know then." Reika looked over to Meiko, who scowled back at her. Nonetheless, she complied and walked over beside Reika and displayed her hip, where her two weapons were sheathed.

"The long one is a katana, and the short one is a wakizashi. The former is used for fighting typically while the latter is used for fighting indoors." There it was again. That power. Reika could feel it. This child had a strange ability. Some humans had strange abilities, but plenty of Youkai did as well. This child, however, was something different. His power was something in between.

"Alright, Rinnosuke," Reika said, "I have one last question. Listen well." Rinnosuke gazed directly at Reika. "Give me your hand," she ordered. Hesitantly, the boy outstretched his left hand to Reika, who grasped it within her own, feeling about his wrist, palm and fingers. "Rinnosuke," Reika asked, "are you a Youkai?" Rinnosuke seemed hesitant. "...Not really," he answered, "no..." His voice was shaky and is gaze was diverted, looking at his own hand. Reika's thumb was pressing down in his palm. "How does this feel?" Reika asked. Rinnosuke gritted his teeth. "It stings," he answered, "a little." "Just a little?" He nodded. Reika released the boy's palm and stood.

"You may let him go," Reika told Meiko, "and keep him secure at your residence. Do not allow him to be bothered." Meiko exhaled before calling off orders to the escorts. The norimono was closed and was carried off. Meiko also declared that anybody who continued to protest against the escorts would be arrested immediately. The crowd gave way and the transport was taken away. Some people lingered around Reika and Meiko, however.

"So you were misled all along, weren't you?" Meiko told to Reika. Reika shook her head. "No, that boy is not human," Reika declared, "not entirely that is. Neither is he entirely a Youkai." Meiko grit her teeth and the bystanders began to speak up. It seemed as if most of them already knew the answer. "That boy is of both human spawn and Youkai spawn. He is a half-Youkai." The small crowd of people began to shout again, some at Reika, some at Meiko, and some among themselves.

"And therefore," Reika continued, speaking above the crowd, "He should be executed as promptly as possible. Just because he is part human does not mean he is exempt from our code. Should he be kept alive, an issue like this will only occur in the future, perhaps to greater extremes. It is the best option for the sake of order. If this boy's human parent is still living in this village, we will not persecute them or say ill of them. They should be kept anonymous. Nonetheless, this execution should serve as a warning for our people as to the dangers of associating with Youkai."

Reika turned to Meiko, who's scowl had the look of a demon. "Meiko Takeshi. You have done well in identifying and detaining the Youkai-spawn, but you have brought dishonor upon your family with how you carried through with this event. Due to your secretiveness, you are currently being regarded with suspicion. Therefore, to clear public suspicion and to give our people a peace of mind, as well as to regain honor, you shall personally carry out this execution in public." Meiko made an audible gasp. She clenched her fists and brought her eyes closed.

"Reika Hakurei," Meiko said with a shaky voice, opening her eyes, "mark my words; some day, all of your crimes will come to light, and we will all be there to convict you. Mark my words." With that last remark, Meiko turned and walked in the direction the escorts went in. Reika watched her all the way with crossed arms. Quickly, the small group of people around Reika dispersed. Not once throughout that entire ordeal did the expression on Reika's face change. Reika believed she did the right thing, just as her mother would have done. Personally, Reika felt nothing but pity for the boy's existence, but she was steadfast in her decision.

She was sure Meiko would carry out her duty as Reika had told her, as she would have been ordered by her own family. After all, nobody, not even the Takeshi's, went against the word of the Hakurei. The Takeshis were only responsible for upholding law and order within human society, whereas the Hakureis were responsible for all relations between the humans and the Youkai. In theory, their clan were the experts on Youkai, but Reika's only knowledge came from her mother.

Speaking of which, Reika needed to find where her mother and daughter were. They did say they were going to have their snacks, although they didn't say where they were going to eat. Reika wasn't really all that familiar with where Chiyoko and Chou went whenever they went to the village, as Reika rarely ever went with them. In fact, Reika wasn't even familiar with the entire village besides the general layout. Chou probably knew more storefronts than she did. Still, they probably didn't go far from the place they had separated, unless they found a better place to sit and eat.

"Oh, sigh," Reika said aloud, without actually sighing. It was time to do a little bit more walking.

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A silver haired teenage girl walked through the village, her hands folded and hidden within the seemingly connected sleeves of her green kimono. Her silver hair swayed as she calmly made her way across the village. It was a beautiful day, and the village had a series of plays going on. Kioku was interested in many things, and the plays did peak her interest. She was late, however, as her family wanted her to get through with some errands (her father was too busy to do them himself, and her mother was ill). Kioku was certain that she missed the beginning performance, but she might be able to arrive in time for the second one. However, a noise began to draw her attention out of the way from her path to the stage in the center of the human village.

There was a crowd surrounding a norimono, escorted by several guards and a woman. Is that Ms. Takeshi? Kioku thought to herself. She had a glimpse of the head of the familiar person, but she could not confirm that it was Takeshi Meiko. The crowd was too busy paying attention to the small incident to move and allow the silverette to get closer. Because of the crowd's boisterous response to whatever was happening, Kioku also couldn't hear what was going on. Eventually, the crowd dispersed, and Kioku could see that it was Takeshi Meiko escorting the norimono alongside the armed guards. However, Kioku also saw someone that she didn't think she would see until later. Judging from the clothes... Isn't that the Hakurei Miko? Kioku thought to herself as she noticed the towering woman walk past with a small mutter. From the expression on her face, the Hakurei Miko seemed to be troubled. So, with her curiosity leading her actions, Kioku walked over to the woman. "Is there something wrong, Ms. Hakurei?" Kioku asked, tilting her head up to the woman. Kioku was not short by normal standard. Rather, it was the insanely large height of the Miko that forced the girl to look up so much.

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Reika was heading in the direction she believed she had come, when she felt, perhaps heard, a person's approach, causing her to halt and turn. A young woman had walked up to her. Reika kept her arms crossed in her sleeves, as she always did when she was among people, keeping that stern, distant expression she always had. Reika felt people could trust her, as long as she kept herself distant from others. After all, people expected all Hakurei shrine maidens to be this way, serious, wise and professional.

The girl asked; "Is there something wrong, Ms. Hakurei?" Reika was expecting to be asked something else, such as an issue that needed resolving or perhaps something about how she handled the half-Youkai issue. People hardly ever payed attention to Reika's problems, and those that did, Reika would give them assurance. After all, people trusted Reika, and Reika was not going to break their faith by exposing flaws.

"No, there isn't anything to be worried about," Reika assured the girl, "as the incident has been resolved. However, I thank you for your concern." Reika bowed. "I was just-" Reika caught herself,"...contemplating. Anyhow, is there anything you are concerned about? Is something that matter?" Something twinged at the back of Reika's mind as she looked at the girl, but Reika couldn't fathom what it was. Was it the tension in the air that Reika felt earlier?

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"No, there isn't anything to be worried about, as the incident has been resolved. However, I thank you for your concern." The shrine maiden replied with a bow. "I was just.... contemplating. Anyhow, is there anything you are concerned about? Is something the matter?" Kioku smiled at the Hakurei shrine maiden, seeing her care for the silverette, duty or not.

"No, it's alright Ms. Hakurei." Kioku bowed in reply. She looked at shrine maiden in red and white. However, as the silverette would make eye contact, she had this faint feeling. It was a small realization, though she couldn't put a finger on it. Whatever the feeling conveyed, Kioku thought that it was connected to whatever the shrine maiden was 'contemplating.' Deciding to press on and satisfy her curiosity, the girl asked the shrine maiden, "If there is anything you need, Ms. Hakurei, please tell someone. I'm sure that they would be happy to oblige as thanks for what you've done." Kioku smiled warmly at the shrine maiden. She just thought of something- she had never been near a shrine maiden before. This was her first conversation with a shrine maiden, let alone one of the Hakurei maidens. Her smile slightly widened at this thought.

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Kiyoko and Dream were wandering around the town, mostly around the Noh stage area, hoping to see a play. Kiyoko noticed two people fighting about something a short ways away, but they were too far for their words to reach. "We do not get into their buisness. They do not get into ours." The wise words of the wolf echoed around in Kiyoko's head. Around the area were a lot of mats around, there was a grandmother eating snacks with her grandaughter. There were also many kids playing games around as well. When they saw dream, they all ran to pet her. The large wolf sucked it all up, just not the noise. "Can she do tricks?" one child asked. Dream then stood up, and jumped six feet in the air, doing a backflip and landing in the same area.

"Chi-Chi," Chou exclaimed with a part of her riceball in her mouth, "did you see that? That dog jumped in the air!" Chiyoko turned her head toward where Chou was pointing and saw what the large wolf. The wolf proceeded to perform the trick a second time. Then Kiyoko told the kids, "Hey, watch this..." and Kiyoko climbed on Dream and then, Using a wind rune, made them both levitate. Chou was mesmerized.

"Chou, that isn't simply a 'dog'," Chiyoko corrected, "we must give our respect to deities." Chou pleaded, "I wanna go pet it!" Kiyoko heard chou's words. "You can, She loves it." The young girl then walked over to the wolf and sunk her hand into the long, thick fur.

"We give you our most sincere gratitude," Chiyoko said, placing her hands on the ground and bowing to the young woman, "as it is a great honor to bear witness to a living god. Please accept our most honest respect." Chou didn't seem to care for respects as she happily ran her hands through the large wolf's white fur.

"Oh, it's nothing. If she wants to ride with me, its fine. I need to get out more anyways." Then the other kids started pleading to ride with her. "One at a time, for safety, maybe" Dream forgot about the dangerous 'war' and just relaxed and played. Being a god in wolf form wasn't bad, it was fun!

"Can I?" Chou asked her grandmother? "It is bad practice to refuse the blessings of a god," she said, "but when accepting a blessing, one must give an offering to their deities." Chou looked somewhat troubled as she didn't really have anything on her to offer. "Here Chou," Chiyoko offered, holding a riceball in her hand, "give her your mother's snack. I'm sure your slowpoke of a mother won't mind." Chou giddly ran to Chiyoko and accepted the riceball in her hand, before beginning to sprint back.

"Hold it there, Chou," Chiyoko called, "you must offer it to her properly. Remember, slowly now." Chou bit the corner of her lip as she went over the proper stance from memory. She straightened herself up and slightly bent her knees, riceball cupped in her hands near her stomach. Then, she began to walked slowly, keeping her body level and her footsteps even. Approaching the wolf, Chou got a nervous feeling. She stopped and brought her cupped hands out. Chou hesitated, before remembering something. "Please accept my offering," she said in a clear tone.

Kiyoko was a bit confused at this but went with it. "Thank you, and may your teachings be very well recieved." she said as she looked Chou in the eye. Kiyoko put it in a basket she purchased while wandering. "Come now, we may float!" and dream rolled on her side. Kiyoko instructed Chou to grab a clump of fur and hold it tightly. Once that was done, the wolf layed like she usually did. Kiyko climbed up like she usually did so she could get Chou into a comfortable position. She pulled the wind rune out of the bag and wrapped her arms around Chou. "Now, this might be a little scary.." "Don't worry," Chou assured, "Mom is scarier than anything!" And then they went up! Dream went in a circle, Just one as to not make them dizzy (or herself for that matter), and then back to solid ground. Then they dismounted, sliding down the fur as if it were a modern day fire pole.

"Chi-Chi! Did you see that?" Chou called, running toward her grandmother with her arms out, "I was flying! I was flying really high!" Chiyoko chuckled as Chou flew into her lap. "You weren't flying, silly," Chiyoko told Chou, patting her head, "You were on the back of a flying wolf. Did it feel like you were flying?" Chou nodded her head. Chiyoko ruffled up her hair affectionately. "Hold onto that feeling Chou," Chiyoko said, "that's an important feeling."

Kiyoko gave the other childeren a ride, all of them screamed when they went up, unlike Chou.

After all that, Kiyoko asked Chou if she really wanted to fly. "Flying is really fun, I really like it" Chou answered, "There's this pond behind the shrine that Genji lives in. Genji's a turtle, a big one, and he can fly! Chi-Chi sometimes calls him for help, but Mom doesn't. Chi-Chi says Mom's afraid of heights. I wanna fly like a turtle!" "Then watch me." Kiyoko told the young Chou in a low, excing voice, and began to float on her own, without Dream. And then she made Chou float a bit as well. 'You have full control. But, there is a limit, and that is a few miles just before the heavens."

Chiyoko whispered to Chou, "Do you want to try flying?" Chou nodded. "Then there you go!" Chiyoko released Chou and Chou instantly began to leviate, as if gravity had completely lost it's hold on her. Chou began to squirm about in every direction as she slowly drifted up. She moaned in anxiety."Try thinking about were you wish to go." Kiyoko instructed.

"I wanna come down now!" Chou called nervously. She had drifted about 5 meters in the air now. Her long, flowing robes twisted and turned about in relation to gravity as Chou flailed about. Chiyoko stood up. "Don't worry, dear," she assured, "I got you."

"Okay," Kiyoko said and she gently willed Chou down before realeasing the effect on her. Chiyoko caught the nervous little girl in her arms and held her tightly. "My same reaction when I first learned." Kiyoko told them as she herself floated down, about an inch off the ground before putting the rune in her pouch, releasing the effect on herself and anything else that might of had the effect. "My teacher." Kiyoko said, motioning to the large wolf, fast asleep. Chiyoko nodded in acknowledgement.

"Am I to understand that she," Chiyoko motioned to the wolf, "is your patron deity? Yet you yourself have become a living god. It's not unheard of, one's blessings being mistaken for another. How does she feel about it, I wonder?" Kiyoko turned to the wolf, still half asleep. "They must not know, what I really am, I am okay with it..." Dream told the girl, the only one that could hear her besides humans that are under the influence of gods. "S-she is okay with it. But she seems sad to me all the time. This is the happiest I have ever seen her today. I do remember, though, falling from the sky, into a lake. ANd she brought me ashore and took me to the local herbalist. I grew up with him, and now I work for him." Kiyoko said, staring past Dream, at the sun high in the sky. Suddenly, Kiyoko remembered. "Have you heard?"

"Heard what?" Chiyoko replied. Kiyoko told the old woman what the Herbalist told her. Chiyoko pursed her lips. "Here, Chou, why don't I put you down, so you can go have a seat" she said, "you're getting awfully big for me." Chiyoko gently placed Chou onto her feet, who proceeded to run back to their mat compliantly.

"If that's true," Chiyoko responded to Kiyoko more sternly, "then we will have to be cautious in the near future. I have no doubt in my mind that the Youkai are plotting for trouble. Are you absolutely sure these rumours are true?" "The town sounds very serious. And I found the maker of the rumors. He had not told a lie for some time." Kiyoko replied. "I looked through his soul." Chiyoko closed her eyes and took a deep breath, crossing her arms.

"We'll look into this issue as promptly as we can," Chiyoko told her, "As soon as tommorow, perhaps. We'll figure out what they're plotting." "May I be of assistance?" Kiyoko asked, "you are of the Hakurei family, correct?" Chiyoko nodded.

"If a god could possibly gain insight on what the Youkai are doing," Chiyoko explained, "that would be greatly appreciated. We would be sure to present you with great offerings if you were able to accomplish that, both of you that is." Chiyoko bowed respectfully. "Oh, no need for offerings. I am meant to make peace, and if peace fails, I can be destructive. But only if needed." Kiyoko replied, making herself invisible with the air rune. "I'm going to Youkai Mountain soon." and then she reappeared.

"A thousand blessings of gratitude for you," Chiyoko told her, "and a thousand prayers for your good health, your untainted soul and your safe return!" "And the same for you and your granddaughter." Kiyoko responded, with a big smile. She as just about to head home, she went to Chou.

Kiyoko always had extra runes, along with messed up ones that were just as powerful with what they did, but they only did one thing, and she handed Chou an air rune, but it was messed up so it could only make you fly. "On the back are the words to you need to whisper to levitate, or fly. It with make it easier for you to learn how to fly. But do it in a roofed area for starters untill you can make yourself go down." Kiyoko squeezed Chou's hand a little, "Be carefull, dont break it. I advise you get a small pouch for it and keep it with you at all times." Kiyoko knew that Chou was going to like flying once she got used to it. And if she learned how to do it, it would help her a lot in the future.

Kiyoko said her farwells to chou and Chiyoko, and went home with Dream to prepare for the hike to Youkai Mountain tonight. They would pack a lot of food to take, for it was going to be a long journey.

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Character Portrait: Reika Hakurei Character Portrait: Kioku Nakusu
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Reika was somewhat intrigued by how insistent the girl was. Reika felt that it was good practice to remain humble, but her mother would probably have told her not to refuse the offers of others, if she were there, that was.

"Well, if that is the case," Reika asked, "could you possibly direct me to where the stage for Noh theater is?" Reika had forgotten exactly what directions she took to get to where she was now and was somewhat hazy on how she had to get back. A lot of things were on her mind, but Reika couldn't entirely pick them out individually. One thing that did come to mind, however, was the time. Reika glanced toward the sun, which was getting lower in the sky. Her Kagura performance would be occurring soon, and she had to get back to her family and prepare. Another thought did come to mind when she remembered that.

"And on that subject," Reika added, "In about half an hour, there will be a performance there in which I will be participating. I ask humbly that you consider staying to watch it.

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"Well, if that is the case," The Hakurei shrine maiden asked, "could you possibly direct me to where the stage for Noh theater is?" Kioku blinked, somewhat surprised that the miko does not know the village's layout like everyone else, especially considering the fact that said miko lived so close to the village her entire life. However, she shrugged it off as stress getting to the shrine maiden. After all, how stressful must it be to be a shrine maiden, solving incidents with youkai and humans? Especially when the latest incident involved the shrine maiden's sister-in-law. "And on that subject, in about half an hour, there will be a performance there in which I will be participating. I ask humbly that you consider staying to watch it."

"I would be honored to guide you to the theater, Miss Hakurei!" Kioku excitedly stated. "I was going to go over there to watch you and your family perform!" She smiled brightly at the shrine maiden. Now was her chance to do something for the shrine maiden! It was good that her memory was perfect! Only.... it sometimes isn't.

"The theater is over there, so..." Kioku paused, looking down at the ground to concentrate at remembering where she was and where the theater would be. "Uh...." The silverette scratched her head, her mind not being able to figure out a route. Eh?! Where was the theater again?! Kioku gulped, unable to remember where the theater was. In fact, her mind can't even draw where SHE was in the village!

"Aah..." Kioku placed a hand on her forehead. "It happened again... I completely forgot, Miss Hakurei..." She sighed, her first opportunity to help the shrine maiden completely failing because of her poor memory skills. "I'm sorry...."

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Reika pursed her lips. It was nice of the girl to try to assist her, but she seemed to be unable to remember the location of the stage, and appeared rather troubled by it. Was it due to stress, perhaps?

"No, that's fine," Reika assured her, "You tried to help. That's quite alright with me." Reika glanced around a bit. Somehow, she seemed to remember where the stage was precisely, and how to get back to where she was. Was she merely distracted until now? Or did the memories just somehow pop up? Reika paid no mind to it. "Although," Reika added, "I believe I'll be able to find my own way back. Please excuse me." Reika gave a curt bow, before walking off.

Thankfully, Reika's mother and daughter were just where she left them. It seemed as if they had already finished their snacks (seemingly all of them, as Reika's was nowhere to be found) and where waiting patiently for Reika's return. Chiyoko was seated, but Chou was walking about and had quickly spotted her, running up to her.

"Mom," Chou asked, walking alongside Reika as they approached Chiyoko, "what took you so long? You didn't get lost, did you?" Reika shook her head. "Hardly," she answered, "Mom was just busy resolving an incident." Chou replied, "An incident?" She sounded rather interested. The world 'incident' held a special sort of meaning within Gensokyo. Youkai were well known for causing 'incidents', which ranged anywhere from creating simple mischief to great calamities of meteorological scale. Naturally, it was the duty of the Hakurei shrine maiden, or whomever else was capable, to resolve these 'incidents' and return balance and order. Incidents worthy of the name have been recorded throughout both history and folklore, but in Gensokyo, these were a fact of life. That said, the last huge incident worthy of recording had occurred under a decade age, yet overall, incidents were much less common during Reika's time than they were during her mother's. Perhaps it was evidence that the humans were finally driving the Youkai back.

"The incident was resolved," Chiyoko inquired, "correct?" Reika nodded. "Good," Chiyoko responded, "you can explain it later. Come, sit. Something has come to our attention." Reika complied, sitting on her legs to face Chiyoko. Chiyoko proceeded to explain to Reika what she was told before by the living god, Kiyoko. Reika listened attentively. Chou listened as well, but only partially, standing and walking about the two.

"So the Youkai are gathering tonight, for a meeting," Reika responded. Chiyoko nodded. Reika closed her eyes to consider it. She scratched at her callused fingers with her thumbs. Reika tended to pick at her scars when she was anxious. "We must declare a state of emergency," she declared, clenching her fists.

"Hush, Reika," Chiyoko responded, "we mustn't be reckless about this. For now, we must simply wait for the arahitogami to tell us what they are doing, and what they are planning. If we were to raise an alarm under the wrong circumstances, the mountain Youkai may take it as an act of aggression. Naturally, it would be far to reckless to simply barge up there ourselves, which I imagine would be one of your ideas. Patience is key... And besides, Youkai hardly get along with each other well enough to work in masses like that, discounting Fairies and Tengu." Reika frowned and scratched a pink scratch on her wrist.

"Quit that," Chiyoko quipped, smacking Reika's hand. Reika recoiled, placing her hands back on her thighs. "Come," Chiyoko told her, "we're running out of time. We must get ready for our performance. We've only fifteen minutes."