Author Topic: 陰と陽 -Border of Light and Dark-  (Read 113 times)

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陰と陽 -Border of Light and Dark-
« on: February 29, 2020, 01:10:34 AM »
Hello avid readers and Touhou fans,

This is a major rewrite of the ongoing fanfic I had on the previous forum which I put on hiatus after running it up against a wall. Now of course I have the original posts saved locally, so I've started piecing together various parts and making something that's more manageable and in accordance with the original storyline I had. Inspired by Japanese horror games (Corpse Party, Siren, Fatal Frame, etc. should come to mind) as well as the overall literary genre of psychological horror, this probably isn't what you're after if you prefer a brighter portrayal of Gensokyo. Furthermore, if you're the kind to attach yourself to characters you might find them dead (or worse). If at this point you're still with me read on and discover the story of a lost girl and a young woman's quest in uncovering the very foundation of the world she lives in. Along the way you'll find references to things from anime, manga, and video games I've (hopefully) combined in a way that makes sense.

Speech will look like "text in double quotes with emphasis where necessary". Inner monologues and recall of spoken words will be rendered as "italicized text in double quotes", onomatopoeias as italicized text, and literal text (what you see is what the characters see) as <<plain text in double angled brackets>>. Just like in the Touhou games declared spell card names will be enclosed in ⌈square brackets⌋, and in the same vein as the media I draw inspiration from I will provide biographies for significant characters in a collapsible spoiler block at the end of the chapters in which they are mentioned. You'll also find in separate blocks information about the setting and plot at that point in the story, akin to a commentary track containing major spoilers you may wish to come back to after they are dealt with in-story.

Expect violence, blood, and occasional use of coarse language. At no point will there be portrayals of sexual acts, as nowhere in the plot is that called for.

Sit down, buckle up, and enjoy the ride. You won't find brakes on this train.

Re: 陰と陽 -Border of Light and Dark-
« Reply #1 on: February 29, 2020, 01:31:33 AM »
- Chapter 1 -

Stuck in time, without a past and future, she was nothing more than a reminiscence in the minds of the unfortunate...



"Why? Why are you doing this? Didn't I tell you to leave me alone?"

Tears roll down her eyes as she embraces the girl in her arms. Her warm skin against her own, her quiet breaths the only thing she wants to hear.

"You don't deserve this. Not now, not ever. Nobody is going to die today... xxxxx."

"It's not your fault. You don't need to suffer for what I did. Just leave me here and promise me you'll never end up like me."

Though she can get up and walk away Marisa couldn't find it in herself to do so. At least one of them would die and she was going to spend their last moment together.

"Tell me what your most important desire is."

With a childish smile, the youkai responds "Ohh~, it's nothing big. Don't worry about it."

"Please. Just tell me, I promise I won't-"

"Are you done yet? I don't have all night to listen to the two of you."

Her whisper is cut off by a shrine maiden she met two years ago. A shrine maiden responsible for the death of Makai's goddess and the complete destruction of her kingdom. She had single-handedly killed her, and if it wasn't for Marisa's daring feat her daughter would have met the same unfortunate fate. As these thoughts overwhelm her conscious mind, Marisa Kirisame looks Reimu Hakurei in the eyes and spits out words of pure anger:

"Go to hell, you murderer."

Marisa is pushed back by an intense force. As she comes to her senses, xxxxx is pinned against the wall by countless sealing needles, scarlet blood forming a pool on the wooden floor beneath her. Without a word the girl in black and white grabs her broom and dashes toward the girl in red and white who rushes forward with steel needles clutched between her fingers, their eyes staring death into each other.

----------

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, ...

Marisa Kirisame woke up with her heart pounding and mind spinning.

"Why is this happening again?"

Before Marisa moved, she blinked a few times and let out a quiet groan. Her head hurt more than ever.

"Who are you?"

It had been several years since it happened, and to this day she still wish she hadn't been there to see it.

"Promise me you'll never end up like me."

For some time, Marisa didn't know what to make of that. xxxxx was a frequent face in the Human Village and unlike typical youkai she was welcomed by most of the them. However, her methods were unconventional and that drew suspicion from more than a handful.

Though she had forgotten everything else, in the weeks leading up to xxxxx's demise there was a gathering of prominent figures. This included her father, who owned a store in Gensokyo's largest settlement of humans and played a significant role in its development. He had convinced -- with great difficulty and effort -- Reimu as well as a sizeable amount of the attendees that xxxxx be spared for her contributions to the human race. For the first time in recorded history it seemed that human and youkai could finally attain cooperation and trust, but in the end it wasn't the youkai that brought this fantasy to an end. Losing faith in the gods and turning to xxxxx, the human population no longer feared youkai or even death itself. Shortly after, the Hakurei shrine maiden demanded that xxxxx be exterminated on the account of several gods claiming it went against the very foundation of Gensokyo. Every trace of xxxxx's existence was erased from written records, and those who had contact with her were to forget everything through an "enlightenment" ritual that took place over the span of three days.

Though it would still be some time before the sun would rise, Marisa got up out of bed and lit a lantern. Warm light flickered in her tiny house as she reached under her bed and retrieved a box.

Thump-thump, Thump-thump, ...

Marisa clicked open the clasps holding the wooden container shut to reveal a strikingly small stack of Spell Cards. She took them into her hands and fanned them out, idly staring at the cryptic glyphs that adorned them.

"Promise me you'll never end up like me."

After the incident, Marisa was traumatized. Not only had she lost one of her best friends, she also developed a sense of inferiority. She had dedicated her life to become Gensokyo's most proficient magician, all to end up mere seconds away from becoming a human pincushion. In the days following xxxxx's extermination, Marisa vowed to avenge her demise. With great confidence and equally strong determination she challenged Reimu to a deadly duel that ultimately ended in a stalemate. It was this duel that led to the creation of the Spell Card Rules, a never-before-seen method of dueling where no one would have to die.

Marisa focused her attention back to the Spell Cards in her hand, taking one last look at them before letting her mind drift to the origin of those cards.

"These cards, they aren't your typi- never mind, those cards you've made are nothing compared to these..."

After losing her (and Gensokyo's) first battle under this new system to its creator, the feelings of inferiority that kept Marisa up for nights following the xxxxx incident came rushing back. It was during that time that Mima gave those cards to her. Naturally, with a name like hers attached to them, anything would be outright dangerous. In this specific case the cards she held in her hands were magical incantations with tremendous destructive ability. There was just one catch, that no human could withstand the tremendous stress put upon their body.

"Promise me you'll never end up like me."

Marisa placed the cards back into the box, locked it up, and placed it back in the place it came from. From the day she was given them, she vowed to never use them. No, she vowed to treat them as the mere pieces of paper they were, not even thinking about deciphering them in the first place. She was a human, and she had finally understood the meaning of those words she couldn't even put a name to.

----------

The sound of insects were the only thing that could be heard regularly in this area of the forest. Inside her house there was the solid tick and tock of the rather fancy clock standing between wide shelves, occasionally drowned out by the rustling of leaves outside on this rather windy night. Three knocks upon the hard wooden door woke the magician up. Still in her nightgown, she brushed aside her light golden hair and made her way toward the source of that sound in the moonlit interior.

"Marisa, what are y-"

Taking a look at the young woman before her, Alice Margatroid was confused and slightly shocked. She had traded her black-and-white dress resembling a Western witch's costume for a thick cowhide jacket enhanced with high-level protective spells. Cases full of Spell Cards were attached to her belt, the broomstick she flew on was in her left hand, and with her right hand she held her signature weapon, the mini-hakkero.

"Is... something wrong?"

Marisa didn't know what to say. She had made her way to Alice in the darkness for several reasons, one of them being that the two were friends made as a result of the Mystic Square incident. At the time, the aspiring magician thought of it as an opportunity to put herself to the test and joined the fight against the Makai invasion. Less than halfway into the war not only did she realize the true intentions of the humans, but also that she couldn't do anything to stop it. From the moment she enlisted she saw that the visitors from Makai were not acting with malicious intent, and that was the reason why the magician opted to knock them out with sufficiently effective yet harmless spells.

"My, my, what a weak attack," said the shrine maiden as she tossed an amulet that shot through the air with enough force to tear straight through the dazed man's body. "I expected more from Gensokyo's strongest magician." What started out as an operation to stop Makai's residents from mostly harmless tourism had turned into a full-fledged genocide campaign. As the remains of Makai were reduced to ashes and cinders Marisa snuck Shinki's daughter away to the Forest of Magic, using what she had earned from her enlistment in addition to a significant portion of her own savings to build her a house for her. They spent the next two months together, practically becoming sisters, with Marisa telling herself it was the least she could do to apologize for the fact that she indirectly caused the loss of so many innocent lives.

"I've been having those dreams again. Her face is becoming clearer, as if she's snuck into my soul."

Like Marisa, Alice had been subjected to a process that removed any and all traces of xxxxx's existence from her mind. Because she was nowhere as close as Marisa was to xxxxx it proved highly effective in erasing those few memories she had formed. All she could do was shake her head in confusion.

"Have you been getting enough sleep lately?"

"Of course I have! But every time I fall asleep I see her again, and the moment that happens I wake up with a terrible headache. I can't even think too much about it or I'll begin feeling lightheaded. My vision fades, and it feels like I'm about to faint."

This marked the sixth time Marisa told her about it. Alice no longer had any reason to believe she was lying to her, but that only made it more of an issue. As a magician Alice was well aware of spells that sealed away memories and often used them on herself as a means of clearing her mind of unwanted thoughts. She was certain such a spell had been cast on Marisa at some point, but one that imparted discomfort and even loss of consciousness upon an attempt to recall those memories was beyond the ability of a magician. A greater force was at play here, and she knew better than to mess with it out of concern for her friend's safety.

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, clunk-ding... ding... ding... ding... diiiinnngg...

With less than an hour before sunrise there was no point in trying to sleep.

"I already told you before: telling me about it isn't going to do you any better. However if you really want to figure it out you should ask others about it. Maybe they'd know something that could uncover whatever it is you can't remember."

If the mysterious spell that had been cast on Marisa was like similar spells the ability to form related memories wouldn't be affected. All she would have to do was expose herself to sufficient evidence such that the spell undid itself, just so as long as what she took in became known to her as the truth. While this wouldn't undo the spell it would hopefully keep her unconscious mind away from those sealed memories and put an end to her troubles.

"If you say so," said Marisa on her way toward the door.

"Wait. I'll come with you, just give me a moment."

Alice disappeared into her bedroom, closing the door shut behind her to leave Marisa alone in the hall.

"Why's she so interested all of a sudden?"

A great majority of the people she could get useful information from belonged in the only major gathering of humans in Gensokyo. Referred to it as the Human Village, it was often shortened to simply "the village." It was there that Marisa was born and spent the first eleven years of her life before opposing viewpoints broke the bond between her and her father. It was one-sided, however, and the man preferred if his only child returned to live by his side. Next up on her list was Keine Kamishirasawa, a half-beast with a rather powerful ability giving her the ability to conceal history in her human form and create it in her youkai form. For Marisa what was most important was neither of the two, but rather that her control over the past also allowed her to peruse the entirety of Gensokyo's history at her leisure. Finally, at last but not least there was Akyuu Hieda, the ninth Child of Miare, a living prodigy gifted with the ability to not only remember everything she committed herself to remembering but also recalling each and every experience live through by her previous incarnations. Naturally, with such a talent she was given the highly-coveted position of Gensokyo's Chronicler and dealt the ability to write the de-facto history book of the land sealed away from the rest of the world.

A click sounded as Alice opened the door, stepping out in her usual winter attire consisting of a long-sleeved light blue dress and red headband that kept her hair from obscuring her vision. Though it was not snowing she retrieved from the cupboard closest to the door a pair of long black boots to cover her legs with, pulling its laces tight before looking up at Marisa. She surveyed her friend's coat, and after determining it was sufficient to keep her warm opened the front door. Marisa walked out first, positioning her broom between her legs while Alice locked the door.

"May I?"

"When did I ever say no?"

Not long after the two were airborne Alice regret not lending a headband to Marisa, her hair blown into a mess by the strong opposing wind.

"At least the fairies are still asleep. Easier for the two of us that way."

Marisa maintained her altitude, cruising at a rapid pace toward the northeast.

"Is he still doing fine?" said Alice in an attempt to strike up a conversation.

"How did you know?" replied Marisa without shifting her view.

"Just a hunch."

"Well last time I checked he's all well. Seems like his place has gotten quite popular."

"Hmm, is that so? What's he selling now?"

"Beats me. It's nothing I'd be interested in anyway."

"Well you'd never know. It's not like you go there often."

Marisa had distanced herself from the Human Village after making it clear she had no future living among them. Magic, while an object of admiration, was well beyond the comprehension of the typical human and few people bothered studying it. Those that did were quickly turned away by more profitable occupations set up by others' needs and wants, so there was no real incentive to go above and beyond what she saw as a boring life. Besides, the prospect of becoming strong enough to stand toe to toe with youkai tens of thousands of years old and even Reimu Hakurei herself as a plain, regular human was too good to pass up. If anything Marisa was jealous of the shrine maiden, often boasting of her divine bloodline and unrivalled abilities. Not only that, she was also an object of desire for more than a handful of men her age, receiving attention whenever she visited the village to the point she disliked being by her side when walking those streets.

"What's the damn point? It's not like she'll offer herself to any of them."

If looks weren't enough, she'd use raw strength to her advantage, and in the end she was seeing a return. For over a decade her name was as known as Reimu's, often paired together in the context of solving incidents that arise all too often. This, however, was the extent of her popularity as anyone having issues involving spirituality or unexplained occurrences still requested assistance from the Hakurei shrine maiden. In the end she was still inferior to her in the eyes of many, and every time she thought of that she vowed to change it.

"Hold tight!"

Upon confirming the location of her destination from above Marisa entered a sharp dive, straightening out only a few seconds before landing. Though dawn wouldn't break for at least another twenty minutes light was already coming out the first-floor windows of the two-story taller-than-wide storehouse which bore the name of "Kirisame Shop". Alice stood behind Marisa, who knocked the door twice. The shuffling sounds on the other side stopped before giving way to footsteps. A look of surprise spread over the man's face upon looking at his visitors.

"Oh! Marisa! Come on in."

Marisa stepped in.

"Alice, is it? Long time no see.

"Good morning, Kirisame-san. How have you been doing?"

"I'm fine, thanks for asking."

He turned to Marisa

"So what brings you here this early?"

Marisa looked at Alice, who gave her a look of anticipation.

"What's the matter, dear?"

"Did something happen when I was young?"

"What do you mean?"

"I've been having strange dreams lately. In those dreams the same girl keeps showing up. Almost as if she's trying to tell me something."

Sudden pulses of pain erupted in Marisa's head, causing her to fall to her knees.

"Don't push yourself!"

Alice caught her before she could fall forward. Marisa, ears ringing and vision a blur of white, could barely feel the pressure against her shoulders.

"What happened to her?! What happened to my Marisa?!"

"I don't know," Alice stammered. "It's as if she's trying to recall something that's been sealed away by some kind of spell."

"Since when did she start acting like this?"

"About... two weeks ago."

"And she's been telling you about this?"

The magician nodded.

"Marisa? Can you hear me?"

"I'm sorry, father," she said between deep pants. "This happens to me every time I think hard about it."

The man thought to himself for a moment. Just when it looked like he was about to say something he stopped. His eyes blinked for a moment, and seemed to skip a breath or two.

"Father?"

"Huh?"

He shook his head as if snapping out of a trance.

"Sorry, my age must be getting to me."

Alice couldn't help but notice something very strange. Could he have had his memories sealed away in the same way Marisa's were?

"Ah, Kirisame-san, if I may?"

"What is it?"

"Marisa's been losing sleep lately so she might have trouble staying awake. Don't worry about it too much, I'll be sure to look after her until she gets better. We're actually here to check up on things, so if you'll excuse us we're going to be on our way."

The man looked at the two with a blank stare. Still slightly dazed, Marisa followed Alice as she carried her outside onto the path. She closed the door shut behind her, leaving him in a slight shock over what had happened.

"You saw it too, did you?"

Alice nodded.

"What in the world happened?"

"At this point I want to know just as much as you do."

Keine Kamishirasawa had just started preparing for class when Marisa came into the schoolhouse.

"What are you doing here at this time of day?"

"We're wondering if you know anything about a youkai girl that was exterminated around, uhmm, 118?"

The number 118 was of high significance to Alice, being the season she witnessed the destruction of her place of origin followed by her settlement in Gensokyo. She figured whatever Marisa was after took place sometime around her arrival so it was at the very least a good starting point.

"I probably do, but I'd have to wait for the day to arrive before I can delve any deeper into that. What's the matter?"

"I've been having dreams about her. Every time she appears to talk to me... I'm sorry I can't say any more or my head will start hurting even more."

"Do you know what could cause such a thing?"

"Marisa, you need to go to Reimu and tell her what's happening."

The delay -- or lack thereof -- before her response sent a chill through Alice.

"Whatever it is you shouldn't try to uncover it on your own. Tell Reimu about it and she'll do what she can to fix it."

"I see, I'll be on my way now."

"Thanks for the tip."

"What now?" whispered Alice after taking a few steps.

Reimu was the last person Marisa wanted to see. In fact if she disappeared and never showed herself in front of her she would be perfectly fine. The fact Keine suggested that she would be able to "fix" whatever it was that bothered her made her slightly uncomfortable, as if she knew she was at a point where she had to rely on her assistance to solve a problem involving her to begin with.

"There's one more person I can ask. After that we'll talk about what to do next."

The Hieda manor was distinctly different from the rest of the lots flanking it. Though it had the same look as the rest, plots of land enclosed within a brick wall about one-and-a-half times the height of the typical human, the Japanese-style house behind the barrier was set far back behind a rather large courtyard where cherry blossom trees stood. As if to make up for its distance from the entrance it was a whole three floors tall, giving it a most luxurious appearance. At the entrance was a placard with the name "Hieda" engraved upon it in fancy script that reflected the distinguished clan it represented.

"Are you here to see the mistress?" asked one of Akyuu's many servants as she entered the courtyard.

"Yes. Can you please lead us to her."

"Of course, right this way."

The manor was just as massive from the inside as it seemed from outside, with sprawling hallways leading to large rooms and even a library. Music playing from a gramophone. Off-limits to even the most wealthy of families, this device had the amazing ability to capture sound and recreate it on demand. The melody, though quiet, was incredibly soothing along with the accompaniment of concordant tones reverberating throughout.

"Do you have a moment? You have visitors here to see you."

Though a few years younger than Marisa, Akyuu radiated an aura of maturity unlike most women her age. With her well-kept hair, pale face, and traditional attire that perfectly fit the archetypical "Yamato Nadeshiko" look it was no surprise young men kept her image in their hearts while those older aspired to raise a daughter with even a fraction of her status.

"Good morning, Marisa. Good morning, Alice."

"Good morning," said the two in partial unison. Marisa spoke first, quickly taking the lead.

"I've been having strange dreams involving this girl that..."

"Why? Why can't I say it? If I can think about it why can't I just say it? What's happening to me?"

"This girl that-"

Marisa's voice trailed off into a slurred mess as she fainted, falling onto the floor with a thud that startled Akyuu.

"I don't know what happened to her," said Alice upon Akyuu looking back up. "As she said she's been having recurring dreams where a youkai girl speaks to her. The problem is she gets massive headaches and in extreme cases like what just happened she completely loses her consciousness."

"Horrible," she murmured. "Absolutely horrible."

"What?"

"There's no other way to describe what she did."

"Who? Did what?"

Akyuu knew many things forbidden to anyone else. Things she was trusted to keep a secret, things that could put her in danger if heard by the wrong people, things that could undo not just her work but the work of her every ancestor.

But today she could no longer resist.

"The Hakurei shrine maiden sealed away her memories."

Such an act was the very definition of disgust. To go as far as scrubbing a person from existence for the sake of removing any and all opposition toward her leadership over Gensokyo's human population was an evil she only recently began to understand.

"She probably did the same to you, me, and everyone else she knew about at the time it happened. There is no record of it in my notes because I had been commanded to omit it."

Keine's response now made complete sense.

"Of course she would. Of course that red-white would."

"Is there a way to undo it?"

"Not that I know of. Furthermore, she tells me attempting to remove it by force will only lead... to the erasure of all memories."

Akyuu finished her response with terror in her voice. To lose a few memories was bad enough, but wiping one's mind clean was no different from killing them. Alice was still thinking about the obvious alternative Reimu had for those who refused to go undergo the procedure when Marisa let out an incoherent groan.

"Don't tell her," Akyuu warned. "She's not in a state to hear it."

Alice nodded before helping Marisa up.

"Come on, Marisa. Let's get you some breakfast."

With Marisa leaning on her shoulder she gave one last glance at Akyuu.

"Thanks for your hospitality."

"No worries."

It wasn't until the two were far from the manor did Alice speak.

"She doesn't know either."

Marisa sighed. Something was very wrong and her attempt at figuring out what and why only made it worse. More importantly there was a certain emptiness in her stomach more pertinent that the hole in her memory, prompting her to make toward the nearest source of food. Alice knew better than to leave without currency, bringing more than enough for a serving of warm vegetable stew for the two of them.

"Looks like I owe you another one," said Marisa as she licked her lips dry. She couldn't help but notice a man sitting across the still sparsely-populated road looking straight in her direction, clearly observing her with intent. She got up while Alice counted out her payment to the manager. The man in his middle ages smiled as if inviting her to him, but she simply ignored his gesture. What little anticipation she had was completely gone and she could only look forward to her next dream.

"What do you want?"

Alice noticed him upon turning around to place herself by Marisa, her inquiry catching him by surprise.

"Come here. Come here and I'll tell you."

Marisa had no choice but to follow her toward him, still sitting down.

"Who do I look like to you?" he said with a rather flat tone of voice.

"A human."

"Then you must be one too?"

The magician shook her head.

"Then you must also know what I am here for."

"If you're an informant for the Hakurei shrine maiden I assure you there's nothing you want from us."

"Oh? You know about them? I don't suppose many youkai do."

"That's where you're wrong," she said in a quiet voice. "Spend more than a few days here and even a fairy will take notice."

Like most humans he knew who Marisa was, but he felt that now was not the time to reveal his identity.

"Follow me," he said. "If you want the truth you're after."

He stood up, waiting for a response from her. She kept behind him, Marisa following aimlessly. They continued on the path for a while before being led toward the left into a narrow alley barely wide enough for two to stand side by side. Shortcuts like it were commonly taken by those who knew the layout of houses well enough to develop a mental map of the place, forgoing visual aids in exchange for a faster arrival. Beyond the opening stood a multitude of single-story dwellings separated by wooden planks. They crossed the road to find themselves in front of his place of residence, following him in through the opening. The small front yard was devoid of life, without even furniture suggesting people gathered there. Heavy silk sheets behind the windows covered up everything from prying eyes, and to top it all off there wasn't even a lock on the entrance door.

The interior of the house, though not too different from the conclusions one would come to from considering the exterior, had a slight semblance of being lived in. Compared to either of their places of residence it was still alarmingly empty, bare wooden walls adorned with only a few scrolls and paintings. Shelves holding silverware stood next to the kotatsu that had on it a tea set. Next to a single bed was a dresser, and written on parchment scroll hung above it was the phrase "every day is a new beginning" in feminine print that clashed with the lack of anything suggesting a woman lived with him. Alice did appreciate how the floor was clear, unlike that of a certain someone's house, bending over to undo her shoestrings.

"How's your old man been doing?" he asked Marisa.

"He's fine. You must be one of his friends?"

He nodded.

"Also a frequent customer."

"I guess you have something to tell me?"

"Many things," he corrected. "Things that I doubt you'll want to hear. But will be glad you heard."

Marisa took a deep breath as if getting ready to say a mouthful.

"I've been having dreams about a girl. A youkai girl. I can't recall her name but I remember her face and voice as if I saw her just yesterday."

The man thought for a moment, running his hand through his hair.

"Her name... her name is..."



Character Profiles:
Marisa Kirisame
The protagonist of our story. A human girl who gives it her all when it counts. Straightforward and informal, her goal is to become known as the strongest magician in Gensokyo.

xxxxx
A mysterious girl who repeatedly appears in Marisa's dreams. Little is known about her aside from the fact she is a youkai that once lived alongside humans.

Reimu Hakurei
The 13th shrine maiden of the Hakurei Shrine. Though well-regarded by humans and youkai alike, she is merciless when it comes to carrying out her duties and enforcing the rules set upon Gensokyo's inhabitants.

Mima
A vengeful spirit that once wandered Gensokyo. Marisa's one and only idol, who taught her most of the spells she uses. Though they have not met in a while Marisa still remembers much about her and longs for her to return.

Alice Margatroid
A close friend of Marisa. Formerly human, she became a youkai through the use of spells on herself, which is why her actions are nearly indistinguishable from a human's. In addition to proficiency with magic she is also an adept dollmaker.

Shinki
Alice's mother and the creator of Makai. She disappears along with most of Makai civilization following a massive invasion led by Reimu.

Marisa's Father
The owner of a large second-hand shop in the Human Village. Due to a disagreement between him and Marisa she no longer lives with him.

Keine Kamishirasawa
A were-hakutaku acting as the guardian and schoolteacher of the Human Village. Much to the shock of those close to her she has on multiple occasions put herself in danger to defend it. Due to her genuine caring for humans she is one of its few nonhuman residents.

Akyuu Hieda
The 9th Child of Miare, gifted with the ability to remember anything she witnesses. With a memory spanning over a millennium she is highly protected by the Human Village, and though her lifespan is relatively short she undergoes an endless cycle of reincarnation.



Dreams:
I wrote Marisa's dream sequence in the present tense to give it the feeling of happening in this very moment. After all dreams are an in-the-moment phenomenon, fleeting experiences that often disappear as quickly as they appear. This is in contrast to waking moments which I'll write in the past tense to convey what has happened.

xxxxx:
If you read my previous version of the story you'll know who this is. In addition if you know your fanon you should also have a pretty good idea of who I'm getting at. She's shrouded in mystery and I think it's only appropriate to cast a fragment of that into this first chapter.

Marisa's Headaches:
As Alice guesses and Akyuu mentions, Marisa's headaches come from her trying to undo the seal on her memories. There are multiple examples of this in related media, but the most recent example I took inspiration from was the "Seal of the Right Eye" in Sword Art Online's Alicization arc. This time the stakes are even higher.

Spell Cards Under Marisa's Bed:
Marisa keeps a selection of extremely powerful spells under her bed as a last resort. She can't use them because she's human, but if she becomes a magician (the youkai) the same way Alice does she would be able to cast them easily. A major plot point of this story is Marisa fighting with herself over her priorities, whether she should maintain her title of "Ordinary Human Magician" or obtain truly unlimited potential.

118 (and time in general):
Gensokyo's epoch is defined as 1885, the year it was isolated from the rest of the world. 118 is therefore 2003. The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil was released in August 2003 and in this story Mystic Square takes place in the beginning of that year. Story of Eastern Wonderland (where Marisa is first introduced) takes place in 2001, hence the "two years ago".

Mysterious Man:
The first non-Touhou character in the story. He serves as a reminder that even in a Gensokyo where knowledge is restrained there exist those who manage to defy the situation. Aside from that he's just a regular powerless person doing what he can to survive.
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