This is a fanfiction by Kogata. The main characters are Kogata, Yorokobi, Laurel May, Kurai, Nejireta, Rui, Shiro, Disco, Hinikuna, Onsei, Rina, Romani, Emiko and Narasu.

Now that Shiro is alive again, there is no postponing the battle with Hinikuna. With their best strategist on their side once more, they can begin to make their battle plans, along with help from Rui and Nejireta, who have both promised to assist them. However, Disco is rapidly running out of rooms in his house, so he has asked one of his closest friends, Rina, to house Kogata, Yorokobi, Nejireta and Rui. So far this is going well enough, although the heavy snow outside is becoming a big problem.

“Nyahahaha!” Yorokobi laughed, tearing down the hallway.

“Hey! Wait!” Rui called uncertainly, running after her. “Where are you going?”

“Can’t catch me~!” she taunted, her voice slightly muffled as she ran up the stairs and onto the next floor.

“You idiot, Rui!” Nejireta screamed after them. “You’ll never catch her at that pace! Run faster!”

Rui glanced back. “But then I’ll wear out too quickly!” she complained. “You can’t go any faster than I can, anyway.”

Nejireta leapt to her feet, knocking her chair over. “We’ll see about that!” And without another word, she vanished down the hall, along with the others.

Even from the floor below, Laurel could hear their pounding footsteps and shouts as they rampaged around the house. She sighed. In a house when most of the inhabitants were acting like small children, she was beginning to feel like a harassed mother.

“They really are noisy, aren’t they?” she said to Rina, who was making tea at one of the benches. “Can’t they do that outside?”

“Not in this weather,” Rina replied, glancing out the window. It had started snowing again, and although it wasn’t exactly snowstorm weather, it would almost certainly be far too cold and wet to stay out there for long. “I wonder where all this snowy weather is coming from? It definitely wasn’t this bad last winter.” She smiled and returned to her tea. “But I’m not complaining or anything. Having all this snow is really nice.”

“RUI, YOU MORON!” Nejireta bellowed from the second floor, causing them both to jump violently. “DON’T BE SUCH A WIMP! TACKLE HER!”

“I don’t want to hurt anyone!” Rui insisted, her meek voice barely audible from such a distance. “Yoro-chan is my friend.”

“Stupid, stupid, stupid!” Nejireta raged. “Let me show you how it’s done! CHAAAAAAARGE!”

There was a loud thump and a shocked exclamation, followed by a second thump and a grunt of pain from Nejireta.

“Get off me!” a voice somewhat similar to Yoro’s roared. “I’m Kogata, you idiot! Yorokobi’s over there!

“Sorry, Kogata.” That was Rui’s voice. “You two really do look very alike, though. In any case, Yoro’s getting away.”

“CHAAAAAAARGE!” Nej screamed, followed by the pounding of footsteps as they ran to the far end of the second floor.

There was a loud, frustrated sigh, and the sound of light footfalls as Kogata came down the stairs. “Idiots,” she muttered, stepping into the kitchen and sitting down heavily in an armchair.

Rina placed a tray with three steaming cups of tea on the table. “Well, they are still young after all. Why aren’t you joining in? It sounds like they’re having a lot of fun.”

She sighed. “I just don’t enjoy that kind of thing. It’s kind of stupid, and unnecessarily loud.” Kogata looked down at her shoes. “I’m really sorry for all the trouble we’re causing you. My sister doesn’t like to be kept inside for long, and when there’s no way she can let off energy, she tends to cause a lot of trouble.” She dipped her head slightly. “I suppose I should apologise for the other two as well.”

Rina blinked. “There’s no need to be so formal. Although we still don’t know each other very well, you don’t have to talk to me like I’m demanding respect or something.” She smiled and offered her a steaming cup of herbal tea. “Do you drink tea, Kogata?”

She looked surprised. “Oh, uh, thanks.” Kogata accepted the cup and took a short sip.

Laurel drank a little from her cup and for a moment they sat there in silence, quietly enjoying their tea. After a second, she frowned, remembering something that had been nagging at her for a while now. “Hey, Rina,” she began, setting down her cup. “Since you’re the Goddess of snow and ice, does that mean you can control the snowstorm out there?”

She nodded. “Sure, if I wanted to. Why?”

Laurel leaned back in her chair. “I was just thinking. If you wanted them to be quiet, you could just stop it from snowing so they could play outside, right? So, why haven’t you done that yet?”

“To be honest, I think it’s kind of cute, how they run around the house like that,” Rina answered, glancing at the ceiling above them, as she could see them through the boards. “And the snow makes a really nice atmosphere. I don’t want it to stop any time soon.”

Laurel nodded. She could kind of relate to what Rina was saying, about the snow. And she also could understand what she had said about seeing the younger Goddesses chasing each other. “I guess you have a point,” she admitted.

Kogata shifted in her seat. “Um, if you two don’t mind, I’d like to go and visit Shiro today.”

Laurel shot a sideways glance at her. For the past few weeks, Kogata had done almost nothing but visit Shiro. He wasn’t in as bad a condition as Kurai had warned that he might be in, but he wasn’t at all like Kogata had described him. He was very weak, and could barely stand without help. All that he could do now was lie down and try to regain as much energy as possible. However, whenever he was awake, it became clear to Laurel that he was usually lively, energetic character, and also extremely clever. When he recovered fully, he would definitely be a valuable ally.

“He probably won’t be any different from yesterday, you know,” Laurel warned. “You shouldn’t get your hopes up too much.”

Kogata leapt up from her chair, looking as if she was holding back tears. “I know!” she said, her voice cracking slightly. “But I have to make sure! What if something happens to him while I’m gone? I won’t be able to live with myself if… if…” She took a deep breath and sat down again, her face in her palms. “It’s my fault that he died in the first place,” she muttered around her hands. “If I had thought of looking for him earlier, then maybe we could have found him before the demons tore him apart.”

“Don’t be stupid,” Laurel said, more harshly than she intended. “You and Yorokobi had no weapons back then, so you probably would have been killed along with him. He died to protect you two!”

“And you can’t forget that he is alive again because of you,” Rina added. She turned back to the window. “I’ll come with you, if you like. I can make a path for you through the snow, but we’ll have to be quick. I can tell you now that this will become a big snowstorm later, and although I can make a ‘safe spot’ for us, it’ll be far too easy to get lost out there if we can’t see five centimetres in front of us.”

Kogata sniffled slightly and nodded. “Thank you. I’ll go and get Yoro.”

“Hi, guys!” Disco called cheerfully as they approached his house. “Come in! Did you want something to drink?”

“Can I have some ice cream?” Yorokobi asked. She wondered if it was possible to drink ice cream. Maybe, if she melted it enough. Would it still taste good? “Sis, can I drink ice cream?”

Kogata gave her a funny look. “I guess, if you wanted to. I would suggest just eating it like a normal person, though. You already get it everywhere when  it’s not melted, I mean…”

“I’ll have some ice cream, please!” she answered, stepping inside.

“I’m not really thirsty right now,” Rina said. “Maybe later.”

“Do you have British tea?” Kogata asked. “If you don’t, I’ll just go without it. How’s Shiro doing?”

At that moment, Kurai appeared at the stairs. “Oh, hi,” she said. “Not Yoro again,” she added under her breath. “It’s hard enough to put up with those two when they don’t visit daily.”

Apparently the others didn’t hear, so Yorokobi decided to let it slide, for now. “Is Shiro still upstairs?”

“Funnily enough, he isn’t,” Kurai answered, setting down her staff as she sat. “He’s gone out for a walk.”

“He WHAT?” Kogata yelped. “Kurai, there’s a great bloody snowstorm out there! You can’t let him go out there on his own, not in this state!”

Kurai arched one eyebrow. “Well, someone’s a bit over-protective today,” she said cynically. “Firstly, it’s not up to me to decide on what Shiro does. He needs space to make choices of his own, so technically I didn’t let him out. Secondly, the ‘great bloody snowstorm’ won’t harm him, seeing as he’s a ‘great bloody arctic fox’. Thirdly, I am a necromancer, and I know what I am doing, so you have no right to question me on matters such as this. And lastly, what do you mean by ‘in this state’? He fully recovered overnight somehow, and getting some fresh air will do him good.” She crossed her arms and leaned back in her chair. “Satisfied?”

(pause the music)

Yorokobi was unsure how to react. Just yesterday, Shiro had been almost completely unable to move. How could he possibly get from that to being perfectly healthy in just a few short hours? But undeniably, she was thrilled. They were going to have their old friend back to his normal self.

“Heck, YES!” Kogata shrieked, punching the air. “Shiro’s going to be okay!” Then she proceeded to run several laps around the table, yelling the entire time.

“It’s weird to see Kogata acting more hyper than you usually do, Yoro,” Rina remarked. “Why aren’t you dancing around, too?”

“My feet are sore from running around all morning,” she giggled. “But if I could run, I would. How did he get better so quickly, I wonder?”

“Oh.” Kurai looked sheepish. “Well, uh, you see… For a meaningless experiment of mine… Do you remember that cut in Shiro’s leg? Well, when I was stitching it up, I remembered meeting a kitsune a while back—a real arse he was, too—and I took his soul and stored it in this cute little bag here.” She pointed to an empty-looking sack hanging from her belt. “But he was really powerful and full of life, kind of like Shiro in that sense. So I thought…”

Kogata stopped running and groaned. “Don’t tell me…”

Kurai waved her hands, looking alarmed. “Don’t take it the wrong way! It makes sense if you think about it, and Shiro won’t run into any troubles, because he already has a little magical power, so he’s practically a kitsune anyway—”

Yoro glanced from Kogata, who looked furious, to Kurai, who looked indifferent, to Disco, who looked like he had no idea what the heck was going on. “I don’t get it,” Yoro announced.

“This wanker decided to implant a kitsune soul into Shiro’s cut!” Kogata snarled, jabbing a finger at the necromancer.

What did you just call me?” Kurai growled, her hand edging towards her scythe. “And it worked, didn’t it? He’s all better now, isn’t he? What’s the problem with that?”

“She does have a point,” Disco said, hurriedly stepping between them before they decided to blow up the house. “The kitsune soul has strengthened Shiro, so it doesn’t matter how evil the kitsune originally was. No matter what the kitsune was like before, it’s helping him now, so there’s no way that Shiro will become as evil as the demon.”

Kurai raised one finger. “Um, about that…”

Kogata’s eyes widened and she charged at Kurai, shoving Disco aside. “YOU B—”

“Now, now.” Kurai caught Kogata by the back of her shirt and dangled the considerably shorter Goddess above the ground. “This is no place for language like that. Now let me finish my sentence. I was not about to say that Shiro will become evil. I was actually going to say that since their souls are different, it may cause mild issues with Shiro’s daily life. Nothing big, though. Just things like bringing out his compulsive behaviour.”

Kogata stopped struggling. “Shiro has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?”

(Look it up if you don’t already know what it is)

“Yeah. I’m surprised you didn’t already know.” She shrugged. “I mean, it is pretty obvious.”

Kogata was silent for a few seconds. “Put me down,” she said eventually. “My collar is starting to choke me.”

“Oh, so it is,” Kurai exclaimed, setting her down none too gently on the floor. “Anyway, I think I can sense Shiro’s aura now. Yoro, can you open the door for him? I don’t particularly feel like getting up at the moment.”

“Knock, knock,” Shiro called from outside.

Yorokobi turned around and ran back towards the front door. She extended her sight slightly to the front of the house, and sure enough, Shiro (in his new body) was waiting outside, shaking the snow off his long white pelt. Yoro zoomed in on his eyes. The fox whose body Shiro was in right now originally had brown eyes, but seeing as eyes have a lot to do with a person’s soul, according to Kurai, its eyes had changed to the same shade of blue as Shiro’s eyes.

“Shiro!” Yoro cheered upon opening the door, hugging him tightly. “You’re better!”

He blinked. “I guess I am. Great, isn’t it?” He smiled foxishly and stepped inside. “How is everyone? The snow outside is—” He stopped short, his electric blue eyes wide and startled. “Hold it. This isn’t right somehow. Why is everyone…?”

(pause the music)

Yorokobi suddenly felt nervous. Was something wrong? Could he read auras like Kurai? Did he suspect that one of them had planted a kitsune soul in his body? What would he think about having a demon inside his body? He wouldn’t like it, that was for sure. Yorokobi checked the others with her Sight (as she had decided to call it), so she didn’t have to turn her head and look suspicious. Kurai was looking about as nervous as she felt, Kogata was biting her lip anxiously, Disco was surprised but hiding it well, and Rina had an incredibly convincing pokerface.

This isn’t good, Yoro thought. If he finds out, he’ll kill us, and Kurai will have to bring us all back to life and she’ll be really angry at us for making her do that.

“Can you do something for me?” Shiro asked, his eyes narrowed.

He padded slowly towards Disco, Rina and Kurai, then dipped his head awkwardly. “Each of you move back five paces.”

For a moment, she was thrown. “What?”

Shiro turned back to Yoro. “You see, there are six of us in this room at the moment. This is the third week after my revival, so until I regain the good luck I had before, I have to be extremely careful about what I do. If I so much as miss one tiny detail, it could lead to my demise—my second one this year, actually. I’m not sure if I can handle dying twice in one year, so it is essential that everything around me is perfectly balanced.” He glanced back at Rina, Disco and Kurai. “Why haven’t you moved back yet? Be careful!” he added sharply, making them jump slightly. “Make sure you all step back to the exact same distance, otherwise it’ll be unbalanced and you’ll have to leave the house for three days. And I’m not one to kick a man out of his own house,” he added meaningfully to Disco.

Kurai shrugged and moved back as he instructed, Rina and Disco following her lead.

Shiro nodded appreciatively. “Thank you very much. Now, as I was saying, the reason they must move back like this is so that the room is divided into two perfect halves, with three people in each half. This is a good omen for me, seeing as I have been alive for three weeks and three people in this room have a blue aura, and blue is my favourite colour. Kurai, please confirm that for me.”

The necromancer nodded. “That’s correct. Shiro, Rina and Yoro have a blue aura. Although they are in different shades. Rina’s is sort of icy blue, Yorokobi’s is sky blue and Shiro’s is pale blue. But I suppose it doesn’t matter too much.”

Yoro heard Kogata breathe out, relieved, as Shiro nodded. “I don’t expect you to change the colour of your auras,” he said. “Because… well, because that’s just silly. Why on earth would I want to rearrange your personalities to make them the same shade of blue? I can’t think of a reason. Rearranging people to make them in some sort of pattern is just… dumb.”

“Is that so,” Kogata muttered. Aloud, she said, “Shiro, you should lie down. You haven’t been well lately, you should get some rest after—”

“WAIT!” he said suddenly. “I remember now! The carpet upstairs is off-centre!” Shiro flashed up the stairs, calling over his shoulder urgently, “Come with me, Kogata! Help me adjust this, I don’t have any means of picking this up when I only have paws!”

Yorokobi smothered a snort of laughter. This was far too stupid to be actually happening, but Shiro really wasn’t joking. He did believe that the carpet was a matter of life and death. As the phrase scrolled through her mind, she suppressed a giggle again. Carpets deciding fate, she thought. What next?

This is so stupid, Kogata’s expression said. Yoro heartily agreed, but apparently Kogata wasn’t enjoying the stupidity of the situation.

Oh, come on, Yoro sent back. This is hilarious. Let’s humour him for a while.

Kogata rolled her eyes. Fine, then. But the moment he decides to bulldoze all the houses so he can rearrange them in order of the amount of cobwebs, I’ll be putting my foot down.

Awesome. Thanks, Kog.

“Kogata, hurry up!” Shiro wailed. “It’s getting more asymmetrical by the second!”

Yorokobi couldn’t hold it in any longer. She burst out laughing, knowing full well that the others would be staring, and that she should probably shut up now, but it was impossible. The situation had become too ridiculous for her to handle.

Shiro!” Kogata yelled, stomping up the stairs after him. “There is nothing wrong with the shelves! They do not need to be rearranged!”

“Always strive for perfection!” Shiro said eagerly. “It’s not going to be sitting on a plate waiting for you! Some things, you just need to fix by yourself.”

“Then why are you dragging me into this?” Kogata raged, her voice barely audible from the floor above.

Yorokobi burst out laughing all over again.

Rui glanced at Yorokobi uncertainly. “C-can you, um, can you t-t-tell m—” She shut her mouth, took a deep breath, and tried again. “Can you tell me what we’re doing here, again?”

Disco answered the question before Yoro could open her mouth. “We’re recruiting people who are willing to fight against Hinikuna and whatever forces he may have gathered by now.”

Rina nodded. “Exactly. I know a few people in this area that could make the difference between winning and losing this battle, so we’re going to visit them and ask if they’ll help us. And we’re only going to ask,” she added, glancing slightly in Kurai’s direction. “We’re not going to force them into anything.”

“I didn’t know there were other gods in this place,” Rui said. It didn’t seem like the kind of place where gods would live. It wasn’t made of gold, or silver, or something shiny. She wasn’t very good with naming some things. “I thought we were the only ones here.”

Disco laughed. “No. There are a lot of gods and goddesses in this little town, and for a good reason.”

“What’s that?” Yorokobi asked. “Is it because we’re spiritually anchored here, or something? That would kind of make sense.”

He blinked. “Um, well, I guess that would kind of make sense, but it’s really just because of the scenery. Great place for us to all kick back for a while, right? And there’s also Party Central,” he added as an afterthought.

“We’re here!” Rina ran up to the door and knocked loudly. “ROMANI!” she yelled. “It’s Rina!”

There was a slight pause. “The door’s open!” a girl’s voice called from inside.

What kind of person is this goddess? She wondered. Rui hadn’t come into contact with many gods in her lifetime, but the few she had met had either been very kind or very cruel. She wasn’t very anxious to meet someone new after the unpleasant experiences she’d had with others.

Rina, Disco, and Yorokobi walked into the house calmly, not looking worried about this at all. Rui felt disconcerted that they weren’t prepared at all in case things went badly.

“Yor—” she called, but she was cut off when Kurai gave her a light shove from behind.

“Hurry up,” Kurai snapped, her horrible, dead-looking eyes flashing angrily. “Or we’ll be the last ones in. Did I mention it’s freezing out here?”

Terrified, Rui fled before the necromancer.

(music does not start instantly. Do not panic, just wait a few seconds)

All the beeping sounds were coming from the television, where a girl with orange hair sat, her fingers jabbing the buttons of a small controller. A bead of sweat trickled down her forehead.

“No, damn you…” she muttered, tilting the controller sideways, although it was clearly not motion-sensitive. “Go left… Go left.. Left… Left… No, LEFT! ARE YOU DEAF? GO LEFT LEFT LEFT LEFTLEFTLEFTNOTHAT’SABULLETOHMYGODNOOOOO!” She flung her hands in the air, frustrated. “Why do you do this to me, game?” she muttered, pressing a few buttons, restarting the level. “Let’s do this again… Don’t suicide jump this time, please…”

“Romani, I need to talk to you,” Rina interrupted. “Can you pause that for a second?”

“One does not simply pause Touhou,” the girl called Romani replied. “Please wait for a bit. I just need to finish this level. Then we can talk.” She licked her lips, her eyes focused intently on the screen. “Stupid Marisa… Why doesn’t she just explode the other girl? That’d be so much easier on my poor fingers.” They waited for a few seconds in silence while Romani dodged the bullets on the screen like a maniac.

“This is pretty intense,” Kurai commented. “How do you get this far without dying?”

Romani cursed as her character got grazed by a glowing bullet. “By playing this level multiple times. And replaying. And replaying. And replaying. And— OH, I HATE YOU, MARISA!” she yelled suddenly, flipping the controller to the ground as the little witch onscreen got grazed again and died.

Rina sighed and glanced at the others. “Can you guys give us a second? This might take a while.”

Disco nodded. “Sure. Come outside, you three.”

They followed him back outside into the snow. Kurai frowned and  shivered slightly.  “Do we have to wait around out here? It’s cold! And why doesn’t  Romani just pause her game and listen to Rina? There’s a war coming! Isn’t war preparations more important than some stupid game about dodging water droplets in the middle of a rainstorm?”

“Romani is the Goddess of video games. So war isn’t necessarily that important to her.” Disco shrugged. “And for a good reason. Touhou is certainly more fun than war, in any case.”

“So, will she be much help in a fight?” Kurai asked doubtfully. “I somehow get the feeling that she’ll be in the corner with a GameBoy rather than fighting.”

“Admittedly, she does like to play video games,” he said. “But you’re judging her too harshly. It takes a while to pull her away from her games, but when you do, she’s not one you’d like to pick a fight with.” He grinned. “Have you seen her sword yet? Not sure if you’d be the one volunteering to have that pointed at your throat.”

Kurai still looked doubtful, but Rui guessed that she’d only believe what Disco if she saw her skill on the battlefield with her own eyes. “So, um, who else are you hoping will help us?”

Disco glanced upwards, thinking. “Well, let’s see… You won’t recognise them by their names, so I’ll just give you their titles: the cat goddess, an ice mage, the sorcerer god, the god of the mind, the goddess of poetry and archery, the goddess of weather and archery, the servant goddess, and the rainbow goddess.”

“That’s a lot of people,” Yoro remarked.

“The more, the merrier!” Disco said jokingly. “Besides, we don’t know who Hinikuna has on his side. We have to be careful about the way we do this.”

At that moment, Rina walked out through the front door. “She said okay,” Rina confirmed, “as long as she beats the ice temple on Zelda before then.”

"That's pretty much a 'yes', then," Kurai muttered. "Let's move on, before we all get frostbite."

“This is Emiko’s house right here,” Rina told them, before knocking twice on the small door.

“Why does she live all the way out here in a forest?” Kurai asked, looking ruffled and tired from the journey.

“This is awesome!” Yorokobi squealed, running around in circles, narrowly avoiding crashing into the trees on her way past. “We’re in a forest~! A forest with trees~ Treeeeeeeee~ Hello treeeeeeeee~ Ow my head~ Hello staaaaaaaars~ Ow! Ow! Ow!” She hopped around, waving her hands as though warding of flies. “Rui, a star poked me in the eye!”

Rui didn’t hear this, because she was busy hiding in a bush. She had already been considerably freaked out by Romani, so now that she was sure she was about to be faced with yet another powerful and frightening Goddess, she’d taken action and was not going to come out of hiding until they were home again.

I wish I could be invisible, Rui thought ruefully. Then everyone would stop staring at me and trying to talk to me. I want to go back to living with Nej.

“BOO!” Yoro bellowed in her ear, causing Rui to have a mini heart attack and shriek loudly.

“No!” Rui wailed. “No ghosts! Don’t eat me!”

“Stop messing around, you two!” Kurai snapped. “Rui, what on earth are you doing in there? Come out and meet Emiko!”

“No,” she said stubbornly. “I’m not coming out. Not meeting anybody.”

Kurai dropped the nice act. “Come out before I blast you and that goddamned bush to hell, you whiny brat.”

Rui whimpered in terror and backed out of the bush, drawing a knife from her belt as she did, just in case. I might need to do things the Nej way here, she realized. Without the plans. Remember the knife spell you made? You can use that if you have to.

Then she noticed that the person called Emiko was not actually a Goddess. She was clearly a human, although this was not reassuring in the slightest. Judging by the staff, Rui would say that this girl was a mage, which was similar to a half-Goddess like Nej. The only real difference is that mages get older. Half-goddesses don’t.

“You look nervous,” Yorokobi noticed. “Do you want a hug?”

“Do I want a… No,” she answered, trying to keep calm. In reality alarm bells were going off in her head, warning her that this wasn’t a good idea. “No, I don’t want a hug. Hug someone else.”

“HUGGING TIME!” Yoro squealed, suffocating her in a hug.

Not good, she thought. She’s trying to choke me. I have to act now.

She was about to stick a knife into Yorokobi’s side when she realised that if she did that, Kogata would probably kill her for trying to hurt her sister. Besides, Rui got the impression that Yoro wasn’t actually trying to hurt her. Instead, she wriggled out of Yorokobi’s grip and marched towards the house, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible.

Unfortunately, the one called Emiko noticed her approaching. “Well. This is quite a homecoming party. Who are these guys?” she asked Rina. “Friends of yours?”

“They’re staying at my house until we get a few things sorted out,” Rina explained.

‘Until we get a few things sorted out’? Rui swallowed nervously. I wish people would stop saying things that have double meanings. I’ve learnt the hard way that double meanings are usually intended to mean to opposite of what you expect. So does that mean… they don’t intend to kill me? No, now that I expect that, they may mean me harm after all. Unless it’s a very elaborate double meaning and they don’t want to kill me after all. Rui punched herself in the head. Stop overthinking. Overthinking is too humanly for a Goddess like me. Half of a Goddess, anyway.

Rui remembered that she would probably end up fighting alongside most of these people, which was why she had agreed to come in the first place. These people she was meeting would be her allies in battle, and it was important that she met them before going to war. If she learnt their strengths and weaknesses, then she would be able to devise a formation where they were all able to cover for their allies, should their weakness surface during a battle. Alternatively, if any one of them turned out to be a traitor, Rui could use that information to her advantage.

She smiled to herself. No matter which direction the coming war was led in, Rui would still be the one holding all the cards in the end.

“You want me to fight a war?” the funny cat girl asked incredulously.

“You have cat ears,” Yorokobi told her, just in case she didn’t realise. Yoro was pretty sure that since the ears were above the girl’s sightline, she wouldn’t be able to tell.

The strange cat-lady suddenly seemed to notice that Disco wasn’t the only one on her doorstep. “Oh, that’s weird,” she remarked. “I don’t think I’ve seen these guys before.” Her cat ears were moving again, which looked funny and cute. “I’m Narasu! I’m the immortal guardian of the cutest species in the world!” She grabbed the nearest kitty (which happened to be on the windowsill beside her) and cuddled it. “Zurui, you are so cute!” she squealed happily. “Dawww~ look at your cute little angry face! It looks so cute because you’re a kitty and that’s funny because there’s no way I could take you seriously with that cute face! Hey, where are you going?”

“Um, so can you help us?” Disco asked, looking irritated and amused at the same time.

Narasu turned back to them, looking confused. “What was the question again? I kinda forgot.”

Kurai facepalmed and began to walk away from the house. “I’ll let you guys handle this one. You people are too damn cheerful.”

“Do you want to come in for a bit?” Narasu offered. “I only made enough tea for me, Zurui, Ai, Tsuki, and Kunai, but Zurui just went out and I don’t think the others will mind sharing.”

“Uh, no thanks, Narasu,” Rina said hurriedly. “We’ll be fine.” She quietly added to Disco, “I’d hate to ask why one of her cats is named after a Kunai dagger.”

Good. I don’t want to drink tea that a cat dipped its tongue in. Since when do cats drink tea, anyway?

“You might as well come in,” Narasu said, opening the door wide. “I’m always in a better mood when I’m around my precious cats.”

The inside of Narasu’s house was, by Yoro’s standards, a paradise. Two cats and a small kitten were rampaging all over the place, running up curtains and chasing each other around inside a ten-story scratching post that most likely had been built by Narasu herself. Toys were scattered all over the floor, and she spotted a few  exercise machines tucked away in the corner, most of them looking like they had been recently used.

“Kunai! Tsuki! Ai! Come here!” Narasu called, and the three cats immediately lined up in front of her. “I’d like to introduce you to my two new friends! This is Yorokobi! She is really pretty! And this is Rui! She is quiet and I find that an endearing quality!”

“I’m her… friend…?” Rui muttered.

“Rui, look at the kitties!” Yoro gasped. “They are so cute! Which one is which?”

Narasu pointed at a black cat with a completely white tail and notably long claws. “Kunai.” Her finger moved to a smaller white cat flecked with silver. “Tsuki.” The last in line was a tiny ginger kitten. “And this little cutie is Ai. I found her in the pet shop last week. Aren’t they adorable?”

Kunai glared at Narasu and lashed his tail angrily.

“Oh don’t be so sensitive, you know we all love you. Kunai is such a tsundere,” Narasu added to Yoro, bringing a tray loaded with teacups down from the table. “Here you go. Shouldn’t be cold yet.”

“Hey, Rui, look! A trampoline!” Yorokobi pointed excitedly. “Can we go on it, Narasu?”

She nodded. “Go ahead! Try not to hit the ceiling or anything, I don’t think it can take many more hits.”

Yoro grabbed Rui’s arm and pulled her towards the trampoline excitedly. She’d seen one of these with her Sight a few days before. Two children had been bouncing on it and having fun. Yoro wanted to have fun, too. “W-wait!” Rui stammered. “How do you… What do you use a…” she pronounced the word carefully, “tram-po-line for?”

“Let me show you!” Yorokobi took a running jump and did a belly flop onto the trampoline, then flipped backwards onto her feet. “Wheeee~!” It was even more fun than she had imagined. The sensation was similar to the time that Laurel had whacked her with a branch, except a lot less painful and scary. “This is awesome! Try it, Rui!” she called, her voice wobbling slightly because she was bouncing so much.

Rui shook her head and started backing away, but Narasu gave her a gentle shove from behind and she practically face-planted on the trampoline, almost underneath Yorokobi’s feet. Narasu laughed. “Sorry,” she said apologetically. “I didn’t mean to push you so hard. Mind if I join?”

Narasu bent her knees and launched into the air and executed a perfect triple somersault, landing neatly in the middle of the trampoline.

“That was incredible!” Rui gasped. “Are you a gymnast?”

“You think so?” she giggled. “Why thank you. I used to participate in the Olympics, but then I realized that it wasn’t really fair on the mortal participants, so I quit. Now I can spend more time with my kitties.”

“Not to interrupt or anything, Narasu, but we came here because we need to talk,” Disco said.

Narasu sighed and stepped off the trampoline. “You two can carry on. I’ll talk about this with Disco and Rina.”

“Well?” Narasu asked, sipping her tea. “What did you want to talk about?”

“Have you heard about the business with Hinikuna?” Rina asked.

“Yeah. Cats are always the first to hear stuff like this, and news travels down to me very quickly. It sounds pretty serious.”

Disco nodded grimly. “It is. Listen, Hinikuna’s been gathering an army. We don’t know exactly how big it is yet, but we can be pretty sure that we’re outnumbered.”

“Does he have Gods?” Narasu inquired.

“I don’t think so,” Rina answered. “But we can’t be sure.”

“So what’s the problem? You guys are Gods! You can’t be killed, and your powers far exceed those of youkai. His army will be blasted to dust.” Contented with the way the conversation was going, she leaned back and gently scratched Ai behind the ears.

“Narasu, you don’t understand,” Disco insisted. “Hinikuna is clearly following orders from an entity more powerful than him.”

She frowned. “I never knew that,” she said. “I guess Kunai must have missed that part. And isn’t Hinikuna one of the older Gods? The more powerful ones? Who could possibly have more power than him?”

“Well, a few weeks back Kogata made a list,” Disco said, pulling out a small piece of paper. “There aren’t many that could be more powerful, but after a few trips to the library to read up on all these legends people wrote about us, she managed to dig up a few things. For a start, any trained miko or priestess would hold sway over Hinikuna because they are pure maidens and are immune to his powers of manipulation. This is unlikely, though, because he could kill a priestess without having to manipulate them. There are also a few older goddesses like Akina that are very powerful and could probably do well in hand-to-hand, but she’s not immune to his manipulation like a priestess, so it’s more likely that he would have Akina on his side as a powerful servant. This is not the case, though, because she’s already with us. There were a few others, too but there were various other reasons as to why they wouldn’t be on his side, or why Hinikuna is superior. There are a few others we couldn’t find, but out of the ones we do know, the one that seems most likely is the God of Misfortune.”

Narasu shuddered. “Yurei.” She’d never met the God of Misfortune, but nobody really had. She had definitely heard of him, though, and in every myth and legend that he was present in, there was no happy ending. Nothing good ever came from his presence, that was something she was absolutely sure of. “If both Yurei and Hinikuna are involved, how can we possibly win?”

“You said ‘we’, not ‘you’,” Rina noted. “So you’ll help us?”

“I never said that.”

“Narasu,” Rina began. “We know it doesn’t look good for us. But Yurei and Hinikuna are the only gods on their side. We have many gods on our side, and while Hinikuna is immortal and cannot be killed, he can be defeated, imprisoned, and subdued. From there, it will be a simple matter cleaning up the damage caused by the battle.”

She sighed. It did sound like a pretty good deal. Narasu had been in need of a proper workout for centuries (her old sensei, Mingzhu, had moved to China for a while, so there weren’t any training sessions to keep her occupied), but the involvement of Yurei made her nervous.

This is a new legend in the making, she thought. And Yurei is involved in this legend. There’s no way in hell that this is going to end well. If I become involved in this, then there’s a good chance I’ll be banished to Limbo. And if I survive Limbo, if I manage to not be killed by the lost gods who were defeated in battle and banished, then by the time I come back, there will be no home to come back to. I can’t do this.

“I’m sorry,” Narasu said. “But I can’t do this. I really can’t. You’ll have to win this battle on your own.”

Well, what did you guys think of that? I know I didn’t get through the introductions of all the characters, but I don’t have time to make an interview for all of them, but just say that the life Lord, Calan, Yachi, Minitokyo and Inazuma all agreed to side against Hinikuna. They’ll be properly introduced in the next instalment. Thanks for your support!