Çhäpťęř IV: Whëřę Ťhę Näťîöñ§ Węřę Ťŕäppęð
“Oi! Veneziano! Come back here, you bastard!” Instead the familiar blue figure ran further away as he yelled. Romano smashed his fist on the cold, stone ground in frustration, before standing up. “That's it, I’m jumping down.”
“Wait, there’s a ladder here.” The Spaniard exclaimed, gingerly placing a foot on the sturdy rope ladder. The nation grinned. “Alright! Let Boss Spain handle this.”
“Chigi. Just hurry up.”
He started going down the ladder. The other nation watched, before noticing how dazed the ghost princess looked. Snapping his fingers in front of her, he asked gently. “Hey, are you OK?”
Shaking her head as to clear the raging thoughts, she gave a strained smile at him.
“Yes, I’m fine. Once again, it appears that I was overwhelmed by many lives were taken due to this mansion.”
“You can go on, right?”
“Do not assume that I’m a delicate flower, Roma-chan. I assure you, I can handle myself just fine.”
“Alright. Just making sure.” The Italian smiled in relief before frowing lightly. “‘Roma-chan’?”
“Of course! Why, I give nicknames to all my friends! Yukari-chan, Youmu-chan and.. I’m afraid I don’t have much interaction outside of Hakugyokurou.” She was about to continue when she saw what Spain was doing, running there without noticing how the other had a light pink dusting his cheeks. “Er... Spain? I think you should know that in the time loop where I was involved in this scenario, the ladder is always-”
A yelp cut off her words as Romano ran to Yuyuko’s side, peering down the ledge to see the brunette groaning with his back facing the ground. The pink haired ghost finished, a rather sheepish smile on her face. “-burned.”
“Oi, tomato bastard.” The dark haired man yelled, followed by the youkai question, a faint worried line appearing on her forehead. “Are you well, my friend?”
“Just great!” The Spanish man gave a thumbs up, beaming as he stood up. “Thanks for asking, chica!”
“I wonder if it hurts...”
“Fuck it, I’m going down.” Romano started going down the ladder, this time with the ghost watching him. “I don’t have time for this bullshit.”
“Don’t we all? Though, I find it very fortunate that I don’t have to feel pain as much as these two.” She murmured to her spirits, wincing as another yelp echoed throughout the cave. Spain glanced up as the grumbling nation stood, grinning happily.
“Jump, chica! I’ll catch you!”
“Now, isn’t that adorable.” The pink haired woman giggled, amusement twinkling in her maroon eyes. “That is very gentlemanly of you, but unfortunately...”
The two watched as she floated down to them gracefully, landing with one shoe on the ground followed by the other. She smirked at the expressions they gave, an amused glint in her eyes. “I must emphasise the fact that I am a ghost. The natural laws of the world does not apply to us youkai.”
“You could’ve at least said so.”
“I did, didn’t I? Mere moments ago.” The other opened his mouth to retort before the dark haired Italian spoke, gazing down the dark tunnel.
“Enough chit chat. We need to find fratello.”
The trio ran down the cave tunnel, Romano leading them. Just as they reached the door to what it appeared to be a basement, a glinting object in the dark caught the princess’s interest. She stopped, calling for the other two to pause as well.
“Roma-chan, Spain. I see something there.”
“What is it, chica?” The brunette knelt down and picked up the object, olive green eyes inspecting it. “A key?”
“Does it have a label?” Romano snatched the key, squinting his eyes to read properly. “It’s so fucking dark here.”
“If I may, Roma-chan?”
He showed her the label. She hummed, reading it rather easily.
“‘Cell door key’. Why does Italy-chan have this with him?”
“You mean you don’t know about this, chica?”
A shake of head. “Not to my general knowledge, no.”
“Unless... That bastard.”
The two glanced at him, looks of confusion written on their features. Then, realisation dawned upon the the youkai as she paled, gasping softly. Romano nodded, a serious look on his face.
“My brother wants to keep the others in a cell so that-”
“-So that he may find the escape route by himself...” Yuyuko closed her eyes, the spirits turning purple. “That fool... That stupid, reckless fool.”
Spain broke the silence that heavily embraced them, standing up from his position.
“We should find the nations first. Who knows how strong the monster is now. Yuyuko?”
“Ah, so you do know my name. Follow me, I think I know where the cell is.”
Reimu sighed as she floated down to the ground. The silver haired half human landed next to her, the same impassive expression on her face as the phantom circled around her at a relaxed pace. “I cannot thank you enough, Red-White, Blue-White. I would like to thank the Prismrivers as well, but...”
She gestured to her side, where the three ghostly sisters lay collapsed on the grass behind them, their musical instrument scattered about. Above them, Sakuya Izayoi, the maid who served the Scarlet Devil Mansion, landed next to them, holding her knives between her fingers. The shrine maiden shook her head, and crossed her arms.
“It’s whatever. So, care to tell me what happened to Yuyuko? As far as I know, the spirits never acted this way with her around.”
“Yes, it was an act of rebellion.” Youmu sheathed her sword. “Other than the flower viewing festival, Yuyuko-sama never been interested on leaving Hakugyokurou.”
“Until now, apparently.” Sakuya finished, keeping her knives as she spoke. “Am I right? Where did she go?”
“Youmu-chan. I will need you to keep Hakugyokurou at peace.”
“You know how it is. The two of us can’t afford to be out for too long. These spirits have a life, after all, even afrer death had claimed them. I do have a favour to ask of you.”
“Tell Red-White about our situation. I have a feeling that Yukari-chan will be unwilling to put Gensokyo’s residents at risk. This matter... It will need all of us. The Outside World doesn’t have people like Reimu, Marisa, or even the Lunarians. The enemy is strong, Youmu, and a single me nor even eight nations will be enough to stop him.”
“...Understood, mistress. What do you suggest me to do?”
“Ah.. Give her hints about what we will do. Allow the Shrine Maiden of Paradise’s curiosity to rise, it’s more fun watching her fly around.”
The gardener went silent, complementing her words. The two humans watched her expectantly, waiting before she answered.
“The young mistress went out to take care of some... business.”
“Oh?” An eyebrow was raised at this statement. Reimu unfolded her arms, tightening her grip on her Purification Rod. “What kind of business?”
“I’m afraid I don’t have the means to tell you, but... She told me you can find answer with Yukari-sama.”
“That old hag, huh..”
“If you’re going there, can I come?” The maid asked, silently cheering. As it turned out, she did not have to work hard to find a lead for the mistress. “I will need materials to report to Lady Remilia anyway.”
“So that’s why you’re here, huh? That vampire sent you here?”
She nodded. Once again, Reimu sighed deeply, closing her eyes and turned her head towards the ceiling.
“You can come, I guess. This is turning out to be way more complicated than I expected.”
“What did you expect? There hasn’t been an incident for six months.”
“You’re right. Ahh..” The shrine maiden rolled her shoulders as she floated upwards to the entrance of the Netherworld, the Elegant Maid trailing behind. “I just want to drink tea and listen to the birds for the whole day.”
“Otherwise known as lying around like a sloth. As expected from someone like you.”
“Shut up... Don’t you dare spread that.”
The nations stood back as they watched Japan attempting to cut the metal bars with his katana. As it would seem, there was little success other than making whitish scratch marks. Tired and frustrated, the Japanese man stood back, sheathing his sword.
“It’s no use.” He said, huffing ever so slightly. “My katana can’t cut the bars.”
“And we can’t just use brute strength.” Out in the back, Russia lowered his head in disappointment. “Too bad. I do not know what he is up to, but we have to go after him quickly.”
At the left of the Asian nation, a soft voice was heard as Canada told them, reminding them. “We can’t get out though. Unless, someone opens it from the other side.”
“Uh... Guys? There’s also another thing I want to tell you guys.” Besides the Canadian, America broke into the exchange, scratching his head in something akin to confusion as he furrowed his eyebrows. “It happened when we broke the clock earlier.”
“What is it, aru?” Walking to stand next to Japan, China asked, crossing his hands. “We’ve got all the time, since we stuck here.”
“W-Well... I’m not exactly sure on how to explain this...” He took a deep breath, and began explaining. “There’s another person in this house. I dunno why, but I’ve seen her in this... vision when the clock broke.”
“But how? We haven’t run into anyone else besides us.” Germany said, the others nodding in agreement. The Japanese nation asked, frowning in deep thought.
“America-san. How does this person looks like?”
“Well, she looks like-”
He was about to continue when he was broken by a deep but sweet voice, shouting in urgency as footsteps thundered closer to the room they were trapped in.
“It’s here! This is where the nations are!”
The door burst open, and three people ran in. The trapped nations could identified the two of the men as Spain and Romano but the third was unfamiliar to them. She wore a pastel blue kimono, with white cherry petals designs on the sleeves and the bottom half of the kimono, wearing black shoes with ribbons. Her wavy pink locks were worn by a blue cap, which held an insignia of some sorts on top, with a thin white veil covering her hair. Maroon eyes gazed at them, an unreadable expression on her face.
What made them stepped back in shock were the fact that there were four glowing orbs hovering behind her, and that her feet were not touching the ground, like a normal person would. The reaction was instantaneous. The American clung onto the person closest to him, who unluckily turned out to be England, and screamed.
“IT’S HER! IT’S THE GHOST! SAVE ME, PLEASE!”
“Get off me, you bloody wanker!”
Meanwhile, Spain, surprised to see them as well, could not help in a tease as he tried to grab the princess’s hand, only for it to pass through. It did not faze him though as he continued to wander their side of the room.
“Whoa! What’s going on here? Chica, I think we’ve found a zoo!”
“A... what? I fear that I am foreign to modern concepts of the world.”
“You don’t know what a zoo is?” A shake of head caused the Spaniard to grin happily, looking like an excited puppy. “Never mind, I’m showing you right now! This must be the world zoo, right? ‘Do not touch or feed the nations’?”
“Is he serious, aru?” China whispered to Russia, shaking his head in slight frustration. “This is irritating. Westerners are always like this, aru.”
“Tomato bastard!” Romano, who stood next to the ghost, growled and smacked his head. “Remember why we came here, damnit!”
“Oh, that’s right!” Spain held out a familiar gleaming key. “Looking for this?”
“The key!” France exclaimed. “Mon dieu, how did you get?”
“We found it in the cave.” The Spanish man walked to the cell door and unlocked, letting out the trapped nations. Prussia, who came out after his brother, noticed the odd thing that the Italian had. Right after they finished explaining their side of the story, he decided to ask.
“Wait! The awesome me has a question! Why do you have a flower in your hair, Italy’s brother?”
“What?!” Romano growled before his hand touched the flower that the pink haired ghost placed, giving him a sense of calm when he remembered the conversation they had. He grumbled under his breath and looked away, refusing to answer the question. America chose that time to join in the harassment.
“Dude, where did you get that flower? It looks girly on you!”
The two laughed together, ignoring Romano’s yelling. A unknown aura crept up between the then nations, causing them to stop their happy moment, glancing around to find the source of it. Yuyuko had her eyes narrowed, red irises glaring as she smiled sadistically, concealing her smile with her red-purple fan. They began to tremble in fear as she spoke.
“Why, it was I who placed the flower there. What’s the matter? Do you two have a problem with that?”
“Nein! W-why would you think that, clearly awesome frau?”
“Y-Yeah, dudette! It was just a joke! Just a joke... haha...”
The other nations watched, some even steeping back in caution, though Russia seemed pleased to find someone who could clearly scare people as much as he does. The youkai turned to the Italian, red fading back to maroon. She smiled softly, appearing to be guilty. Reaching out a pale, ghostly hand, she took the flower from behind his ear.
“Could you, perhaps, open your palm, please?”
Not wanting to cross her, Romano opened his hands, and the princess could see a small tinge of fear in his honey brown eyes. With a motherly concern, she gently placed it in his hands, and for once, he could see the hurt in her eyes.
“I apologise you had to see that. I admit, I have a side of me that can be rather... frightening, I’m afraid. Why don’t you keep this in your pockets instead? Perhaps it is a much safer place for a fragile flower such as this.”
She stepped back, smiling sadly once more as he did what she said. Sensing that Yuyuko needed a cheering up, Spain walked to stand next to her, and tried to hug her, though once again, succeeding in almost tripping in thin air. He beamed at her though, oblivious to the looks of fear the two nations gave.
“Why don’t you cheer up, chica? It’s not like you to be so sad.”
“Indeed. Whatever happened to calling my name?” She giggled, playing with a lock of hair as she turned to face the nations. “I don’t believe I have introduce myself yet. Konnichiwa, my name is Yuyuko Saigyouji, Ghost Princess of Hakugyokurou.”
She bowed politely, noticing how Japan returned her gesture. The others, though, merely nodded and glanced at each other, as if determining whether she was a friend or foe. Once again, a heavy silence descended upon group of nations and youkai before a soft voice broke it.
“What are you?” Canada asked, tilting his head in curiosity as he hugged his polar bear closer. He did not seem afraid as some of them. “And what is this ‘Haku’-whatever you call it?”
The pink haired woman, feeling grateful that someone decided to break the ice, opened her mouth to answer, but was beaten by someone else. Everyone’s attention went to said nation.
“Hakugyokurou. Tower of the White Jade. I remember this legend, aru.” China placed a hand on his chin, looking thoughtful. “It was said to be the afterlife for artists, aru. Does the place have cherry blossoms?”
“Why, yes, indeed. Rows and rows of cherry blossom, surrounding my home, turning it into a beautiful paradise. Anyone who wish to see the cherry blossom after they passed can do so anytime.” Her eyes glittered brightly, pleased at the thought of being remembered. “As for the other question, it is fairly obvious, isn’t it? I am a ghost, or if you want a more technical term, a youkai.”
“And what is this youkai?”
“A youkai is a term that represent all supernatural. Legends, myths.” This time, it was Japan who answered the German’s question, closing his eyes as he remembered the definition. “However, it is also known to be just stories, as none of it is real.”
“Stories, huh...” Yuyuko chuckled softly, shaking her head. “Such a shame to see how much we have faded into history. Am I just a story to you, Japan? The kappa, the Shinto gods, the exiled princess who hailed from the moon. Is that monster you saw, perhaps, just a story too? Why don’t you take a good look at the spirits behind me?! I’ve realised how much the world have expanded since my time, but the thought of being forgotten? It sickens me. I’ve seen youkai die because of their lack of belief from the humans. Gods are fading because they rely on people’s faith, at which what a miracle is called nowadays are just works of science. ”
“I beg of you, please wake up.” She brushed past the Japanese nation, almost reaching the door as she finished. “If you still think that they’re just bedtime stories, then forgive me. If only there was a way for you to recall those times.”
With those last words spoken so quietly, she left as the remaining people pondered on what she said. Romano clicked his tongue in annoyance, leaving as Spain followed him behind. America spoke up, a sullen look on his face.
“Dude, if you ask me, I’d say that was pretty deep.”
“And no one did, America.” England replied snarkily before turning to face the Japanese man. “As a nation who still highly believes in the superstitious, most of her words rang true. Japan, you should try talking to her when you have the chance. Do try to find out how she come to know you when we didn’t even introduced ourselves.”
“Hai..” Japan nodded as the nations began leaving the room, concluding the discussion. As he began to follow though, his vision swam as a memory violently assaulted him, forcing him to stagger backwards. Faint voices of the nations were heard as he collapsed, falling deep into unconsciousness.
So, uhh... I really need that reference point, guys.
They meet up with the gang, yay~! Poor America, lol. Considering that Yuyuko is a ghost, I’d say the reaction is completely natural. Sorta. And don’t blame her for lashing out at Japan like that. She’s just sad that-
Ah, what am I saying? Spoilers, and as Yukari said, all will be reveal in due time.
Btw the way, by the time I posted this, I will be facing my March test the following week. At which I won’t have any time to do anything other than study. And yes, that includes writing, posting and fooling around, essentially.
Such a shame, I wanted to write more, actually.
Find out in the next chapter!
Did you enjoy my ongoing story so far? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, WinterSparkWrite a Review