At the house of the Yakumo, which location is unknown, Yukari calls Ran, in quite the demanding tone. "Ran Yakumo, I am CALLING you!" shouted Yukari. From the other side of the house, an annoyed Ran shouted back "I'm coming, I'm coming." Kneeling by Yukari's door, Ran opens the door saying "excuse me for taking so long. Chen was having some trouble with her math." Yukari waves her hand left and right saying "never mind that, and cut the formalities. It's creepy. Ran, I need you to keep an eye on the Hakurei Shrine for me." Ran looks surprised and asks "the Hakurei Shrine? Is there something wrong?" Yukari smiles saying "after that excess of dark energy discharge, I've been getting a very bad feeling. I want you to go there and tell me if anything out of the ordinary is happening. Anything at all, got it?" Ran, looking quite serious now, nods and closes the door, but just before she finishes closing it, Yukari adds "and make certain to look after yourself while out there. You know what I'm talking about, I hope?" Ran says "of course. I'll be careful, lady Yukari." and then Ran closes the door then heads to Chen. "Chen, I have to go out for a while, try to finish your math work and take care of lady Yukari while I'm gone." Chen stands up and salutes Ran saying "leave it it me, Ran-sama!" Ran shrieks and grabs hold of Chen, hugging her tightly, making her laugh. "Chen you're so CUTE!" Ran's nose was bleeding as the hugs Chen, then from behind her, a gap opens up, followed by a quick punch from Yukari. Letting go of Chen, Ran rubs her head then says "argh! Alright already, I'm going! See you later, Chen." As Ran leaves, Chen goes outside waving at Ran shouting back "see you later Ran-sama. Come back soon! Have a safe trip!"
At the Hakurei Shrine, Ran finds cover behind the leafless trees, and is able to conceal her presence. She looks around the back of the shrine, but no one was there. She suddenly hears voices from inside the shrine and immediately hides. When she peeks again, she sees Ail and Reimu. She hears Reimu saying "alright, let's begin the training. First, give me everything you got!" Ail starts to shoot at Reimu, but she dodges all his shots as if it were mere child's play, then shoots back. Ail dodges quite skilfully and starts to shoot at Reimu with his focused shots. Reimu dodges the shots, but forgot the explosion on impact and is sent flying toward Ail, however, she used this chance to shoot at him from point blank, but as if expecting this, Ail moves away. "Very good. You have done pretty well so far. Let's see if you can keep it up." Reimu pulls out a spell card and shouts "Divine Spirit, Fantasy Seal!" Various orbs of light home in on Ail. He couldn't dodge them and was soon lying on the ground, coughing up smoke. Reimu helps him up. All Ail could say was "Ow, ow, ow. That really hurt." Reimu scoffs and says "you are lucky I wasn't using my full power there. Right, we need to work on your defenses, they're pathetic." Ail rubs his head and chuckles. During the course of the day, Ran continued to watch them train, however she soon realizes she wasn't alone. Rumia, Mystia, Sanae, Suwako, Kanako, Keine, Mokou, Alice, and even Marisa, were all hiding, watching them train. Pretty soon, all of them got together to watch the fight. Ran was in complete disbelief, then Reimu shouts "HEY, what are you all doing there!?" Ail calmly says "they probably want to see us train." Reimu smiles that bloody smile only she can smile and says "well, you shouldn't be hiding. Why don't you come closer?" All, but Ran and Marisa, quietly get closer, Rumia saying "is that so~?!" Suddenly they all became targets for Reimu, and Ail who was ordered to attack, or be punished. Happy, Reimu dusts her hands saying " well, that's it for today. It turned out to be a REALLY good training session, wouldn't you agree?" Ail hesitantly says " err... yeah. Um, is it ok to just leave them all there?" Marisa and Ran, who were still hiding looked at each other, then Marisa says "geez, I can't believe them. Even Keine fell for that, ze." Ran laughs saying "we got lucky she didn't see us..." Suddenly they realize that Reimu was right behind them, her eyes glowing bloody red, smiling and chuckling she says "and who says I didn't, heh heh he~!"
Arriving back home, her clothes in tatters, her face full of bruises, and one of her tails was missing a chunk of hair, Ran limps inside and drops on the floor. Chen runs to her worried "Ran-sama, Ran-sama! What happened!?" Chen was about to cry when Ran pats her on the head and says "it's okay Chen. I'll be ok." A small gap forms in front of Chen and form there Yukari's voice came, saying "Ra~n, I want a repo~rt." Ran limps to Yukari's room, kneels in front of the door, then opens it. Inside, Yukari was already signaling her to get closer with a smile. Ran struggles getting up and limps to her master, then kneels next to her. "Ran, didn't I tell you to take care of yourself?" asked Yukari then Ran answers "circumstances arose, and the shrine maiden found me." Yukari pats Ran on the head and says "at least it was her, and not that thing. So, tell me. What's going on at the shrine right now?" Ran perks up and says "Reimu is training Ail, although I don't understand exactly why. I did hear them talk about spell cards and talking about Ail's barrier powers. Although Reimu's reason for training him seems to be just a favor, Ail's reason for the training is..." Yukari stares into Ran's eyes then says "yes, go on..." Ran looks down and says "I felt urgency in him. I think he might be forcing himself for a very powerful reason. His eyes... I saw despair." Yukari smiles a little then says "Ran, I want you to rest for the next five days. After that, I want you to head to the Hakurei Shrine and help Ail train. Teach him how to use those gaps as if it were me using them, understand? He needs to have mastered the power of barriers by spring." Ran looks a bit puzzled then asks "but why not let Reimu?" Yukari giggles and says "she'll get tired of the training and leave him on his own. I know he has Kyo there as well, but his friend can only help so much." Ran nods then struggles to get up again. Just before she limps out of the room, Yukari tells her "take Chen with you every two days, when you go train Ail. She's got one of the keys." Ran looked at Yukari quite confused, but she knew Yukari meant something by it.
Two days later, Yukari wakes up from her hibernation one more time, this time she heads outside to look for Ran. "M-Miss Yukari!? What's the matter, why are you awake!?" Yukari yawns and signals Ran to stop, then takes out three letters and gives them to Ran. "I wasn't sure if I should do this, but I think it would be appropriate." says Yukari as Ran just stares at her. She places her hand on Ran's and says "One is for Kyo, another for Ail, and one for Reimu." Ran noticed that one of the letters were from the two girls from the outside that wanted to enter Gensokyo. "Lady Yukari! Since when-?" Yukari glares at Ran then says "I got them a little while ago. Got them before Reimu did... it wasn't easy; specially that last one... the one for Ail. Tell them you didn't know about these... although I would suggest you step away from Reimu. As far away from her as you can. Oh and tell Ail he won't have to become my apprentice after all. There won't be need of it." Yukari pats Ran on the head, then Chen who had just entered the room and asked "Lady Yukari? Are you ok? You're not sick, right?" Yukari yawns again and says "I just had to talk to Ran for a bit. Now be a good girl and take care of Ran while I sleep, ok?" Chen nods, her eyes sparkle, then Ran's nose bleeds as she hugs Chen, calling her cute. Yukari floats back to her room, then goes back to sleep. Just as she fell asleep she mumbles "Ail, don't be an idiot now... use it to your heart's content."
Snow started to fall and the winter fairies came out to play in the snow. The five days of rest had passed and Ran was leaving to go to the Hakurei Shrine. "Che~n, take care of the place while I'm gone, and make sure Lady Yukari isn't disturbed." From the kitchen Chen shouts "Oka~y. Have a safe trip." Just as Ran left, she screams loudly. When Chen comes outside, she finds Ran suspended in mid-air, her body looked as though it was being squeezed hard. Chen panics "RAN-SAMA!!! What's the matter!" Ran's face was turning blue. She was being suffocated. Chen desperately looked everywhere to see how she could help, but she saw on Ran's eyes, how she was slowly losing consciousness. Chen starts to cry calling out for Ran. Just then, a gap opens, followed by a string of danmaku that was aimed toward the sun light. The shadow of the danmaku impacted the shadow of Ran, or more accurately, the shadow that was killing her. Ran drops down on the snow-covered ground, coughing violently and gasping for air. Chen immediately checks on her then notices a large snake-shaped shadow wriggle away. Yukari comes out from another gap looking angry to the direction of the shadow. "Ran, speak to me, are you ok!?" shouted Yukari, sounding very angry. Ran, gasping for air wheezes out a "yes". Yukari calms down then says "change of plans. RAN, take Chen and STAY at the Hakurei shrine. Tell Reimu EVERYTHING that happened here just now. Every single detail, got that? Chen?" Chen nods then Yukari continues "this cold is making me fall asleep already. Ran, Chen, fly above the trees, do NOT let your shadows touch the ground, not even for a second. Is that understood!?" Ran recovers and gets up, staggering a little. She looks at Yukari and says "Understood. Chen, let's go." "But what about lady Yukari?" asked Chen sounding terribly worried. Yukari smiles and rubs Chen's head and says "just take care of each other, and I'll get you when it's spring, alright?" I'll send your things ahead of you with a note for Reimu. Go, NOW! Remember, don't let your shadows touch the ground, not once!" Ran grabs Chen and lifts off, then hears her master's thoughts saying "be careful, both of you!"
Characters and scenario belong to ZUN -Team Shanghai Alice-
Ail and Kyo were created by Willie G.R.
JUN 29 2009