If Luka had a second to think about it, he would realize how strangely good it felt to, for once, actually being able to talk and explain why he was here, rather than being attacked on sight and being forced to defend himself. In his world such thing was rarely possible, and even then most of the times his words fell onto deaf ears, making them just a waste of his breath. Yet, here the girl was listening properly, and while certainly he fully knew how dangerous she was going to be if he angered her, he was relieved that at least she didn’t bring it all already to fisticuffs, even if he invaded her grounds, weapon in hand.
Even more unexpected was the girl’s reaction to his weapon, the grotesque Angel Halo. Since he possessed that weapon, pretty much whoever managed to catch a glimpse of it quickly made sure to point how much disgusting the design was even for something so powerful; Even him himself had the same reaction, but as it was either to use that blade or give up in his travels, he slowly ended up growing used to it. The praises the weapon and his mother’s craftsmanship received, though, brought a smile onto the boy’s face, his pride showing a bit more at every little compliment the other girl gave to the sword. Ugly or not, it was something that his mother made, and having someone that called itself an exterminator [and with that ‘fire’ proving that it was no mere lie], praising it just made him happy, enough to be able to tackle her next question without shuttering too badly.
“I…get what you mean, Miss, but as for what I wanted to accomplish, I couldn’t just kill monsters who in the end attacked me in search of a prey. They needed food as much as I did, and they couldn’t simply feed on weed or normal meat, thus they attacked me. I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same if I was in their situation.” It was complicated, to say the least. While most of the Monster girls he crossed paths with were in par with humans regarding intelligence and ability to talk, they were also different, a lot so. With their…particular needs in regard of food, they couldn’t hunt something else than humans, but Luka couldn’t either just let them turn him into their next meal, so the Angel Halo was perfect in that situation. Certainly, him moving a lot also helped, as even if certain monsters plotted to get revenge on him, they hardly would had a way to predict where he would travel to next, and certainly it was easier to simply change target.
As the subject was turned for a second to Luka’s half-blood, a negative remark almost escaped his lips. While he didn’t disliked being such, knowing that half of it belonged to that kind of person…No, he shouldn’t think about that right now, especially as it was already a close matter, in the end.
With a nod, Luka took in mind the other’s rules. It wasn’t too strange that someone didn’t want someone who was armed too close to their back, nor he was against anything that allowed him to keep a safe distance. The tone of the girl was surely softer, but both knew that were strangers to each other, and both didn’t want to take too many leaps of faith, thus that proposal was perfect for both of them.
As his guide described where they would be going and what expected them, Luka couldn’t help but wonder if these ancients youkais would look anything like the Monster girls of his world or if they would be more feral looking, like the giant creature of before was. Whichever it was, thought, Luka knew well that from now on, his guard would have to stay up, lest he wanted his adventure to end here in a probably gruesome way, probably not much unlike in his own world. Ah, if he could answer the questions Mokou was thinking about, she would probably understand why that poor boy was so unnecessarily tense even now that she claimed that she had no intention to lay a finger on him; After all, once you end up growing a phobia out of the sheer number of times you’ve been tricked, trusting people you randomly meet isn’t easy, even when you try to do so. The fact that Luka was quite sure, through how oppressing was her ‘fire’, that her power would have easily matched those of the most powerful angels didn’t help, either.
Finally, after a few second to muster the right words to answer the girl in the best way possible, and making sure to do so while maintaining the distance she required before, Luka began to speak again
“You’re right, I’m not. I…wish I could explain exactly how I got in here, but I can’t help but find it strange myself. I was exploring in my own world, until I reach one of the main cities and I am called by the king to check out a strange…hole in the air in which people entered but never returned. I tried to enter it myself and I reached this place, but when I turned I noticed that there was no hole anymore.” It was a risky move of Luka to just enter that portal into a new world, but he couldn’t just stay put with his arm tied while he was aware of people already trespassing into that other world themselves and never able to return.
“Though, given where the hole was…It’s kind of rude, but I doubt that anyone of the city would have been strong or brave enough to even attempt to enter a forest as thick as this one. Unless it wasn’t the only one, I doubt that it comes from my world-”
A pause, as a shiver trailed across Luka’s spine, forcing him to stop in his tracks, as a realization finally came to his mind. Wasn’t there an angel actually capable to eat through time and space? The though of having to fight it again made his grip onto the sword’s hilt tighten, as he tried to convince himself that such thing was impossible. “—-I have a bad feeling about this.”
Twigs being crushed and the song of shrubbery being tossed aside for ease of movement quickly became the main background noise for the two adventurers. Not a woman for many words, or words at all, she would give plenty of time for Luka to answer at his own leisure, giving no pressure for a quick answer. Mokou dislikes talking, but she is quite the avid listener, and the value of words that aren’t rushed, but rather, that come natural, are something worth the patience and lenience needed to evoke them out of other people. The boy wasn’t noisy or overly chatty, so it was perfect for her. It helped that, again, she didn’t need to babysit him.
"Hmmm… Now, let me tell you outright that, while I disagree with yer views on this, I can understand them. If you are adamant about not endin’ lives, for very good reasons such as their inherent need and how it’s only natural to look for prey, then, heh, yeah, I suppose you have a point. You… You’d fit well in this Gensokyo. Given that you need that masterpiece to not kill, I assume that things get pretty lethal in yer homeworld. Gensokyo is a sealed-off section of a planet called "Earth", and in this little patch of sunshine and rainbows, we have a strict a rule to maintain the balance. Youkai don’t kill humans too often, and humans don’t kill Youkai too often, either. Ah, Youkai are our "monsters", born from the things humans fear and/or ignore. Outsiders are an exception; Youkai are free to feast on any wanderer from the "Outside World", which is why we gotta "officialize" you in this here land as soon as we can if you don’t wanna get attacked by hungry assholes. About your philosophy… I agree to disagree, but I must say that only the strong can afford to merciful, and I expect you to be fully prepared to face the consequences of kindness. There is such a thing as reckless mercy, Luka.”
"An opponent you let live is an opponent that will come back fer yer neck. I’m not sayin’ this out of mockery, but rather, so you understand that, maybe, one day, you’ll be sittin’ in peace, havin’ a hearty meal, and then you’ll drop dead when you realize it was laced with a potent neurotoxin. The path of the warrior is harsh, and it branches off into several sections, kid. One of them is the merciful warrior, that which you are. It’s easily the hardest path, so please be wary of that. In any case, it seems you got real unlucky about that hole in the sky or whatever… Though the way you describe it… It sounds very similar to the abilities of a certain pissbaby I know from these parts. I suppose you could go ask her later.” Somewhere, in the Yakumo residence, Yukari sneezed.
As the duo walked further and further into the forest, it was as if the weather itself changed. Everything was illogically beautiful, as if everything until now had been merely the walls of a bastion protection inconceivable beauty inside of them. Is this was pilgrims felt when they first laid eyes on the Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Surely, this had to be a fantasy. Fertile soil, the scent of earth, fresh and pure air and pristine water in certain, small bodies of water that dotted the surroundings. “This, Luka, is somethin’ I recommend burnin’ into yer retina, as few, few have ever seen this. and few ever will: The Inner Heart of the Lost, one of the deepest places in the Bamboo Forest of the Lost. Keep your voice down, we are bein’ watched and being overly loud will be rude to our hosts” — Mokou grinned — “Look, over there.”
The immortal pointed for Luka to look somewhere to the left of them, where, among an ocean of bamboo stalks, stood a silent and bizarre silhouette, staring at the duo with eyes that seemed like gold sinking in oil.
"Relax. He is here with me, he won’t bother ya. We came to address the irregularity. Do you know anythin’ ‘bout it?"
”.̧̛.̴̀.̧̨̛T̶̡̛h͡è͜ ͝͏w̵ea̢͜k͏ ͢͏w͘il̸le̛͝d̨͢ ̨͝c̶͟͡ḩ́͟í̡҉ĺdr͏e̕͡͞n̛ ̧̢arè ͘͡b͏̵̨ęì̶̶n̨͡g̡͘͢ ̀͞le͏̀d̸̀͡ à҉s̛͜͡t́͘r̀͞͡a̧y̷ ̨bý̶ ̨th͘̕͡eiŕ̨́ ̶m̕e҉̡ŕ́e͟ ̸͏̨p̸̕ŕ̨es̴͜҉en̢c͘͜e͟҉.̛ ̵̡͞No̷t ͝͠f̧͘a̢r̛ ̀͘̕fr҉҉҉o͞m҉̨ ҉̨h͘̕e̡͠r͘e̵̛͟, ̛̀t̶҉h̸̛e ̷̀̕p̀ư͟s͟-͝͏f͟i͟͠l̶̨l̸͜͞e̛̕d͢҉̴ ̴͠w̷̨o͘͝ų̛ǹ͢d͜͟ ͢g͘r̴͞o̡̕w̵̷͞s ą͜nd͜͝ g̶̨͝ro̸ws͜.̴͜ ̕҉It̛ ͘͝m̶̨҉ų́͠s͞t ̨b̢e d́is͢ì̡͟n̨f̶̶̧ę̸̸c̛͠t̴͝ed̛.̷̵͜ ̀Şh̨a̸͠l͟l͡ ̧I̕͟ ͡͠ļé͞n̴͞d y̷̛͜o̡҉u̶ á́͞ ͘h͟a͘nd͝, ̢̀͜F҉ư͜͞j҉̴i̸͜͡wa̶r̛͝a̵͟ ̸̕no̢҉ ̡͜M҉҉o͡k͠o͟u.̶̢͞.̶́҉.̡͡?͟”͠
"Nah, just go back to sleep. That helps us plenty, thank you. We’ll take care of the rest."
With that, the Youkai slowly phased away into the bamboo stalks, becoming one with them and disappearing soon enough. “Even she is awake… That, Luka, was an Ancient Youkai. She is immensely strong, but she dislikes fightin’ now, and has come to this forest where no one can escape or even remotely know where they are to drown herself in silence and sleep. Such is the nature of the Ancient Youkai that live in the forest. This is why I make sure no one gets here to disturb them: They are not malign, and they only wish to spend their days sleepin’ and being in surrounded by silence. When I ask you to keep your voice down in these regions of the forest, it’s so their rest is not disturbed. It’s a side of the forest nobody knows. I guess you could consider it a retirement home for youkai that have grown tired of fightin’ and huntin’. Let’s get a move on, we are near, if her words were anythin’ to go by.”
The more they walked, the more rigid Mokou got. From soft words to strict warnings, it was apparent the phoenix’s sharpened instincts were telling her that conflict was very, very close.
"A bad feelin’, huh…? Luka, stance up and—!"
Mokou fell dead silent. Raising her hand, Mokou signaled to Luka that their prey was behind the bamboo stalks in front of them, down a steep slope. “…I feel… An incredible pressure. Whatever is causin’ this ruckus, is right there. I’ll swoop in and deal with it as fast as possible, then we can get out of here.”
Mere seconds of silence followed before the silver maned woman, with the ferocity of a boar and the grace of a panther, crashed straight through the bamboo stalks, divine fire coating her entire being, the very embodiment of the Heaven’s wrath given flesh. She held nothing back.
"It ends here, ya bastar— What the hell!?"
And thus is how, in the words of those in our realm, dear reader, the fecal matter hit the rotational device with might unprecedented. In front of Mokou was an equally startled being of prodigious size, disgusting in appearance and no doubt purpose. It would be accurate to describe this creature as a jumbo sized mound of flesh, tentacles, and nightmares with the body of a woman smack in the center, its eyes locked with Mokou’s. Wormiel laid in front of the Crimson Watchguard, defiling her precious, beloved forest. "Wh…What are you!? You are almost as disgustin’ as Kaguya!"
”How— Vanguard! We have been found out! Charge her!”
Opening several holes in the ground, an innumerable number of creatures burst forth, all confused as well, assailing an equally confused Mokou. This was less a battle and more a festival of bedlam. “What?! How did she find us!? She’s a mere human, get her!”
Instantly jumping into a defensive stance, Mokou took flight and caught a charging angel by the arm, instantly melting her hand and using her hold on her arm to swing her at another group of charging angels, swatting them out of the air. “Bah! What the hell is with these numbers!?”
But this little moment was all the angels needed to set off their trap… Those few angels just now were a distraction! From above and below, a horde of warriors lunged at Mokou, with seemingly no way out of the attack!
"…These are no rabid dogs, they are well organized. Too well organized… But you’ll need more than that to trap me!"
In a swift move accompanied by a horrible sound, Mokou shoved her own hand inside of her chest and, to the surprise of everyone, threw her own heart directly upwards, darting past the charging angels. “What…!? Did she kill herself!? Wait, the body…! Fall back!”
Mokou’s heartless body exploded, taking out the angels that didn’t pull back in time. Meanwhile, the heart, still traveling directly upwards, began expanding slowly but surely, generating lungs, a thorax, more bones, muscle… Soon enough, Mokou had been regenerated around her heart, her clothes, notoriously, regenerating around her as well.
"You bastards are one thousand years too young to fight me on equal footin’! Come and break your bodies against mine, for you shall not bar Fujiwara no Mokou’s path! Witness my brutality, unchained from the dark Samsara!”
Who were these mysterious beings? She had no idea, nor she cared. But Luka would soon shed some light and some much needed information into the subject and battle at hand. What Mokou believed to be yet another brawl was about to become more than she could ever imagine…