Ari stared with his huge, green eyes up at the small girl, sensing a certain amount of indignation in the air. She was indeed carrying weapons with her, and he noticed a very faint movement to grab at them; but the girl stopped before her skin made contact with the hilt. She claimed that she was trying to help him, and there was something about a building…
The boy suddenly winced hard, crying out slightly as a stabbing pain rand through his hand once again. This wound definitely wasn’t getting better. He needed to get to medical attention soon- Unless, maybe that’s where this girl was taking him? There was a screech in the fog; more of those creatures were coming, and if he stayed here, he was just a piece of free meat.
“I-I guess I have no choice… I can’t stay here with these things. O-okay, miss… uh… I-I’ll t-trust you, three heads are better than o-one, I suppose.”
Ari nervously let go of his sword’s hilt, and gripped at the girl’s hand. He had to trust her. He could barely trust his own shadow, and here, everything was much more dangerous. Weakly, he pulled himself up to a standing.
“A-alright, let’s go.”
[There was no time to waste. As soon as she felt him accept her hand Youmu bolted towards the building. In order to ensure a speedy arrival the girl ignored any and all indications of monsters lurking in the shadows, trying not to let the horrific noises get to her. She could hear them all around, making their hideous cacophony of grunts and squelches. Just ignore them, just ignore them, just ignore them…]
[Finally the faded image of an ambiguous building became crisp and easier to decipher as they neared its presence. Youmu all-but-dragged the boy up the steps and to the door, hastily letting go of his hands to grab onto the handle. Her breath was heavy and short and her heart beat competed with the loud noises of demons that sill littered the air.
Then she stopped and turned towards the boy, the first time she looked at him since they had joined hands deep in the fog. Her usual serious countenance had begun to crack, her eyes widened to the point they might as well have fallen from her sockets. Swiftly and without warning Youmu thrust the door open and pushed the boy inside just in time for the ugliest monster she had ever seen miss its target and land sprawled out on the steps.]
Stand back—! [As the beast began to rise Youmu grabbed the edge of her sword and swiftly pulled it out to slash at the foreign monstrosity.]
It wasn’t often that the prince was left vulnerable. It’s common sense, right? Protecting something valuable? And what could be more valuable and important than Belphegor, himself? Exactly. Despite his efforts, however, certainly someone must have landed a blow to his head … or something.
He awoke, entirely unsure of the time, in a pile of rubble. Unfamiliar rubble, of course … a prince doesn’t familiarize himself with such trash unless he’s creating it. What was most concerning, though, was the lack of a suitable memory to place how he got “here”, and who did it. As far as he could remember, he’d been finishing up an … assignment. None of the blood staining his clothes was his own, obviously, and just thinking about such peasantly juices permeating his outfit made him want to vomit.
Best not to think about that. First order of business: get out of the garbage. Easy enough; standing up proved to be a simple task … no broken bones or open wounds as far as he could tell. Second order of business: find out where the fuck this place is, and leave a.s.a.p. A little more difficult. Oh well, no harm in making himself known, right?
“Helloooo~ Is anyone around~? The prince might be a little bit looooost~~~” Surely that would get someone’s attention … if there were anyone around to alert.
[Dirty. Everywhere you looked, didn’t matter where, it was covered in dust and other disgusting bits of whatsits. Youmu cringed as she wiped the grit from her skirt for the thousandth time. A scornful expression squelched her features as she scanned the area, not even her broom would be enough to clean this mess… And there wasn’t anyone to help her, either.]
Not like she wasn’t used to doing all the cleaning herself, but still, this was a big job.
Helloooo~Is anyone around~? The prince might be a little bit looooost~~~
[The sudden noise of a human voice caused Youmu’s hands to instinctively clutch onto the sword’s handle as she swiveled her head to search for the source. Out of the corner of her eye she spotted a cloud of dust barely making its way through the air and she turned her attention on that area.
A human, one with bright blonde hair and splotches of scarlet strewn about them was just a few feet away. Youmu was quick to move and in a flash she stood by him, sword extended just a few inches from his neck.]
State your name and business or I’ll slash you so quickly you won’t even have the time to scream.
After a good amount of dragging as Ari was pulled along; the young boy slowly stirred. The pain from the feeling of his back scraping against rugged, monster torn ground pulled him to his senses and caused him to jolt awake and tug at the small girl’s arms.
“G-gah! R-rosalyn, stop draggi-…”
Slowly the redhead realized the woman pulling him was not an old ally of his; a older lady who tended to be a bit more rough than necessary, but still helped him in many bad situations. His arm still bled and ached, which caused him to rear up slightly and try squirming away from the girl holding him out of panic. He didn’t know where he was, but he knew he wasn’t home still. And he definitely didn’t know this kid.
“W-who are you!? W-where are y-you taking me? Please, I don’t know where I am, a-and I really don’t need any more trouble than I’m already in…”
Trying his hardest to get free, the boy jerked his hands away; which caused him to wrench his injured arm even worse, spurting blood a bit from the already soggy and torn gauntlet. Weakly, he set a hand on his sword’s hilt, just in case she would attack him; ignoring the drips of crimson creeping down it’s length. Ari also noted that Stan seemed to be in hiding; glancing down at the small darkened patch that followed him confirmed it. As usual, he wasn’t willing to listen or help in a serious situation. What could he expect? He could only hope this girl wasn’t planning on cutting him with those swords she had with her.
[The corner of the building began to sharpen in Youmu’s view and her brows dipped in determination. They were almost there, just a little more—]
“G-gah! R-rosalyn, stop draggi-…”
[Who the hell is Rosalyn… Youmu didn’t even have time to reflect on that question as she realized by some miracle the boy had woken up. He was understandably delirious but when she felt him squirm underneath her fingers she did not let go. Instead, her grip tightened and she tried to catch his eye.]
Calm down, please, and listen for there isn’t much time. My name is You—
[Before she could finish the boy suddenly jerked away from her and she felt a few drops of warmth land on her hands. He was more discombobulated than she had previously thought. This was a slight problem as Youmu was never used to helping someone out like this. Whenever a lost spirit would come her way her first instinct would be to slash them with her sword.
That same sword now attracted her ready fingers as she noticed the boy reaching somewhere— a weapon, most likely, and this caused agitation within her. Couldn’t he see she was trying to save him!? The impatient young girl had to stop herself from unleashing her sword’s might right here and now.]
I’m trying to help you! Now if you will follow me to that building quickl—-
[Again she was interrupted, this time by a most horrific shriek of something unknown hiding out in their gloomy surroundings. The yuurei wisp that curled around her began to shiver and spazz about as Youmu’s eyes scanned the area.]
[Swiftly a hand pushed forward in front of the boy’s face, swaying in invitation for him to grab it. She could hear the sounds of approaching creatures.] You have to trust me, and we have to go— Now.
Stan was entirely oblivious to the glaring the girl was giving him and kept a smug face at her actions. Even still, he was worried about his servant still, eyeing him warily upon occasion, though his flat expression showed no signs of concern.
“There we go, what a good little girl, complying to her superiors.”
As the small child hoisted up Ari, the much taller and spindly redhead groaned slightly from the pain. His feet dragged behind her, where his form connected to the huge looming shadow’s; Stan was being dragged along too, though he didn’t add any weight. The shadowy creature eyed the wisp that floated around the pale girl, not sure what it was or if it was possibly dangerous. It looked like the spirits back in his homeworld that would spring myriads of colourful monsters upon unsuspecting travellers and set curses. It didn’t concern him much, though; there was worse creatures around this place.
“… What was that? Are you asking for my assistance? Seems that you… Miss Youmu Konpaku, have finally seen my superiority and place as my inferior. Hmm… I’m only agreeing because of my slave’s safety. I do not care if you become injured so long as Ari will survive. Now, get a move on!”
The shadow swung his flat arm forwards, gesturing in the direction she was walking with a wide, cartoony grin. After a bit of walking, he quietly collapsed backwards, falling back into the shape of Ari’s shadow as it stretched slightly in the dull light through the fog.
[It hadn’t been long before Youmu’s feet ceased in their tracks. Too many times she had to stop and shuffle around to position the boy on her back lest he slide off completely. With a careful heave she placed him on the ground and stood back with hands clutching her hips and her head tilted in pensive thought. Suddenly it occurred to her that she could no longer see the demon floating around. Ignorantly she came to the conclusion that he had faded away.]
What… where did he go… Oh, well. That’s one less annoying voice I have to hear.
[Now, back to the point at hand. She could see the shape of a building not too far off in the distance now, hopefully luck would be on their side and they would be at the infirmary without any interference. Youmu bent over and picked up each of the boy’s arms in both of her hands. With a small ‘ok!’ to herself she began to fervently pull and drag him along. It may have been a harsher method but it was quicker!
And the quicker they moved the better it would be, for all around them Youmu could hear the faint cries of unknown creatures that sent shivers down her spine. For despite her half-ghost physique, Youmu had a deep pathological fear of spooky spirits and phantoms of the like.]
Forgive me for this. We’re almost there, please hang on just a little longer…
[The noises grew louder as they neared the building and Youmu gulped, somewhat wishing the boy would wake up so she would at least have someone to talk or help her fight if need be. Even the foul demon with his sassy personality would be better than these heinous foreign screeches.]
“What am I?”
“Consulting detective Sherlock Holmes. And you, an orphan, an albino, I suppose, though you don’t show any symptoms besides the physical—do you dye your hair, by any chance?—an expert swordsman, swordswoman, I apologize, originally Japanese, I’d guess, accustomed to somewhere far more aesthetically pleasing than this—a garden, or temple, of some sort—and certainly not from around here. Begs the question, of course, why ‘what’ instead of ‘who’? Are you not accustomed to human company? No, I suppose not. You’ve got a psychological split of some sort—you belong not to one group nor the other, but both. I’d guess mixed heritage, but an absence of parents while you were growing up would prevent that from having a palpable effect on you. No, whatever it is, it effects you constantly; dissociative identities, perhaps? Which one are you, then, Jekyll or Hyde?”
[Youmu had to take a few moments to let that sink in. She didn’t quite expect getting a full-on speech and analysis for an answer to what she thought would be a one-worded question. Realizing her lips were slightly parted in astonishment she snapped back to composure, fingers curling around one of the swords’ handles.]
…I.. d-don’t know who told you that or where you gathered all of that information from but you have already proved as someone suspicious, Consulting Detective Sherlock Holmes.
[Confusion translated into anger and the girl pulled the sword out swiftly. She extended her elbows and pointed the now-exposed blade towards him.]
I am not a Jekyll nor any kind of Hyde, my name is Youmu Konpaku and if you do not explain yourself my blade will cut through your feeble body like fresh pudding!
Stan peeled up his form slightly, causing him to stretch taller, but move closer to Ari’s unconscious body. He could see he was bleeding a lot, and his breathing was starting to get shallower. If one looked closely, they might be able to see his cartoony eyes shift slightly to a sadder shape before snapping back to a glare.
“I don’t understand why you would care so deeply for one you call a ‘slave’. This feels like a trick…”
“I may be evil, but this is no illusion or sleight of hand! Ari needs medical attention soon, or I fear that he will not survive!”
He noticed, though, how defencive he was sounding. Why was that?, he mused to himself. Was it because he was fearing the loss of his slave and only foothold in this world? Or was he genuinely fearing for Ari’s life?
“… I do not care for my slave, he is my only way of existing in this world at the moment, and I can’t have him dying on me at this time! I carry no affections for him whatsoever!”
“An escort? You, foul insect, would have to carry my servant, since I can not do so.”
As she pointed her small finger in his face, he shoved it away with his free, two-dimensional hand. After a pause of thought, and a few wary glances at Ari’s bloodied form, the shadow set her down roughly. Crossing his arms with a contemplating expression, he eventually nodded and narrowed his eyes at her.
“I shall pull no humorous stunts so long as you do your duty as I request. Now, let us be on our way.”
[Again with the calling her an insect. Youmu inwardly groaned as she rose from the ground and brushed the dust from her outfit. As much as she tried to resist she could not help but steal a few nasty glances towards the shadow. Still, this was no time for personal grudges. She had to stay professional, there was a life at stake.
She turned towards the boy on the ground and bent down, eyes wandering over his body to scope out where the wounds were most severe. Once deciding the best course of action she reached out to gently bring the boy over her shoulders, but just as her fingertips brushed the edge of a sleeve she hesitated.]
[Barely even five feet tall and yet she’s supposed to carry this boy and escort them to the hospital, of which it’s location she isn’t even 100% certain..? Worried eyes flickered over to the shadow and noted its lack of any kind of legs. A sigh pushed through her lips and Youmu started her struggle of maneuvering the male onto her back while trying not to further worsen his wounds.
The large whispy yuurei swiveled around her body as she shakily stood up forward.]
Alright… it shouldn’t be too far away, but there might be more of those— o-of those—ugh [Youmu had to take a second to reposition the boy on her back.] Things out there, and I can’t reach my swords like this..
…So as much as I hate to admit it, I’m relying on you to help me, foul demon.
[And with that Youmu began to walk in the infirmary’s direction. Or, at least… where she hoped it would be… After a few steps she cleared her throat and spoke again.]
And by the way, if you dare choose to address me any more I would prefer it if you would not refer to me as a peasant or a flea, but by my proper name: Youmu Konpaku. Are we clear?
Now this was starting to infuriate Stan. She kept coming even though he already proved he was far more agile than her. A persistent little insect. And she wanted to free his slave from his power? He scoffed at that through his agitation.
“Free my slave? Unlikely, you minicule flea. Bow before my true power before you hurt yourself!”
Once again the shadow collapsed into the ground, merging his shape into his servant’s shadow’s form. He let the girl step on him, which frustrated him, but quickly peeled up an arm and grabbed her ankle from under her and hoisted her up into the air. He chuckled deeply as he held her upside down a few feet into the air, and stared at her through his yellow eyes.
“Hahaha! Now what will you do, useless peasant girl? You shall never stand a chance against my might!”
But as Stan stared at her, he noticed Ari laying before them and the amount of blood pooling around him. His face contorted down into a scowl as he spat bitterly. As much as he hated to care for his young servant, he had to. If anything happened to him, the shadow himself would cease to exist. That wouldn’t be any good for his plan of conquest.
“… I think that I know what to have you do. Take my slave to an infirmary, or tend to him yourself. Unless you wish to face my divine wrath.”
[Miniscule flea?! Rude. Rude, rude! Youmu knew she was young and perhaps she was smaller than the rest of those residing in the temple but she is not a flea! Her face crunched in embarrassment from the taunt and she braced herself all the more to split this jerk in two.]
[But when she threw her arms forward the blade of her sword met nothing but empty air. Again the shadow had deceived her and she felt her feet collide with the ground below. Youmu’s brows knotted together and she looked down.]
You—Ah! Put me down! PUT. ME. DOWN! I’ll slice you into a trillion pieces and scatter them across the Gensokyo!!!
[Youmu swung her blade fiercely through the air but could not reach the shadow’s body, if one could even call it that. Helplessly she dangled upside down, ankle twisting in the demon’s grasp. Her breath was becoming short the harder she fought and wiggled, but it was all in vain. Eventually the girl paused for a brief moment to consider the monster’s words.
Her eyes slipped from his flat and cartoony expression to the blood-soaked boy directly underneath. Youmu scowled, the last thing she wanted to do right now was listen to this thing’s orders. But she couldn’t just let the young man bleed to death… She took a few deep breaths in to calm herself down and looked back up to the shadow’s face.]
I don’t understand why you would care so deeply for one you call a ‘slave’. This feels like a trick… [But hey, whatever would get her rightside-up again.]
…I’ve heard there is an abandoned infirmary that lies somewhere around this area. If you put me down I may try and escort you and your partner as we navigate to it. [A small but accusatory finger pointed towards the shadow’s face.] But be warned, foul creature, if you try anything funny I will not hesitate to split you in half.
Stan was definitely not expecting another attack so soon. But this time, it appeared to be a very agitated human with a sword. His two-dimensional face warped to an expression of panic as she swung towards him.
“Gh! What in the world do you think you are doing, infantile human!?”
As she approached, the shadow folded himself flat to the ground to avoid her incoming sword. He didn’t really know what would happen if she did cut him with it, since he is a shadow. He couldn’t be harmed that way, could he? Either way, once he was flat on the ground and out of harm’s way, his yellow jack-o-lantern like face reappeared to stare critically at the girl.
“Mind your own business, child! I cannot part from my slave, so even if I had the slightest desire to follow your will, I am entirely incapable of doing so.”
[ In an unexpected turn of events Youmu found herself flying right over the creature and stumbling to plant her feet on the ground. She wasted no time in preparing herself for another attack, determined eyes fixated on the looming shadow. ]
Then I will free this boy from your enslavement! If you cannot leave him it will be all the more easier…
My sword will obliterate you from existence!
[ As she said this the girl raced forward, sword reaching behind her to prepare for its deadly arc. Being of half-ghost and half-human, Youmu’s weapons had the best of both worlds in being able to affect both ghostly manifestations and regular people.
Pale but strong elbows stretched forward as she closed the gap between her and the demon, sword swiftly circling towards the beast. She had made her goal to get rid of this hideous thing and god damn her if she didn’t try her hardest to do it. ]
“More of you.”
“Well? What have you to say for yourselves? Just standing there and staring with that vacant look in your eyes. One of you must have something interesting to say.”
[ Sorry, it’s just extraordinarily rare to find any kind of grown man in Gensokyo. Being rather young and naive, Youmu can’t help but stare at such a strange-looking…
…human? youkai? demon? ]
"What are you?”
Usually when the redhead got into too much to handle, Ari was quick to run away as his looming and angry shadow was dragged along behind him. But this time, it was much more serious. The lanky teen was wheezing as he dashed through the foggy streets, clutching his arm tight as crimson blood leaked through his blue fabric gauntlets.
Nothing had gone this wrong so fast before. Ari was lost and dumbfounded as to where in the world he was. If he was in his world, that is. His home was a vibrant place, everything was colourful; The people, the houses, the plants and wildlife. He’s never seen fog this thick and grey, not even in the little bustling machine town of Madril. And the creatures were different here too. Sure, there was monsters everywhere in his home realm, but none were ever so vicious to outright sink it’s teeth into his arm without letting him get a grasp on the situation. These… things were terrifying, hulking grotesque beasts; much unlike the cutesy toads and rabid bunnies back home. He definitely wasn’t home anymore.
But Ari didn’t have much time to think about these things right now; he had several huge beasts chasing him with the intent to kill him, and was bleeding enough to possibly be deadly if he didn’t get medical care soon. He had to keep running. There was no way he could cut them with his already worn sword, and they were too fast to cast a spell. He couldn’t even try using the weak healing spells he knew. He had to keep moving, or be killed. The boy was already starting to lose faith that he could make it.
It was then when he noticed the thick aand blinding fog slowly clear out. Could he still have a chance? Ari could see a large building ahead, seeming to be some kind of place of education judging by it’s structure. Could someone there help him? The redhead’s chest fluttered as he was starting to get close to losing consciousness from blood loss, and he could still hear the scraping of the creatures behind him. He wouldn’t make it. Soon, Ari felt himself hit the pavement just at the edge of the seemingly safe area, scraping himself up and injuring his already wounded arm further. No this couldn’t be happening…
“Rrrrgh! Useless slave, you can’t do anything on your own!”
Right after the boy collapsed, Ari’s huge shadow peeled up off the ground. It warped it’s paper thin form around to face the creatures. Stan, the shadow, hissed under his breath as he formed a huge demonic fireball, releasing it upon the monsters approaching him and his fainted servant. As the orb hit the ground, it burst into a huge hellfire that could nearly cut through the smog and incinerated the beasts hidden in it. Now that they were gone, Stan had nothing more he could do. Ari was passed out, and the shadow couldn’t move independently. Hopefully someone would come across him. And soon.
[ We’re certainly not in Gensyoko anymore. The gardener huffed quietly in the darkness of her corner. She had tumbled into this strange world in one of the worst places she could have possibly entered: right smack in the middle of a monster mixer. It took a while and a few scrapes and bruises but Youmu had made it out alright, fleeing to a nearby building for shelter and huddling herself in the most claustrophobic corner she could find to keep safe.
Her head rested against the wall as she continued to steady her own breathing, focusing on figuring out just where she was. A sudden cacophony pierced through her struggling thoughts and kick-started rapid pulsations in her heart. ]
More of them. Damn it—
[ Youmu’s fingers curled around the hilt of her sword as she steadily got up and walked toward the entrance, peeking just outside the door to see a blazing fire spread across the ground. Her grip tightened anxiously and she squinted to try and make clear of the situation.
A large overbearing shadow stretched upwards to the sky, hovering over what appeared to be a young boy sprawled out on the grass. Youmu’s protective instincts that had been hammered into her over years of training kicked in. That shadow— it was one of them, wasn’t it? And it was about to hurt that poor boy! ]
Get away from that boy, nefarious fiend!
[ Not on Youmu’s watch. Swiftly she unsheathed her swords as her feet pounded into the ground. With the bulbous white yuurei tailing her she raced forward in determination to slay the demon, sword stretched out and poised to deliver a fierce strike to its core. ]