...One month had passed. The quiet days made the chaos that descended upon Gensokyo seem like a distant memory. Some were enjoying the peace; others were wallowing in the boredom.
The shrine maiden of the Hakurei Shrine, Reimu Hakurei, started to recall the events of the incident as she was sweeping the shrine grounds, as if it happened just yesterday. She looked back on the events nostalgically.
Hey hey, why do ya look like all your happiness ran away?
Marisa was lying at the porch and looking up at the sky, when she finally asked about Reimu's constant sighing.
Oh shush, there will always be times of happiness and times of sorrow. My happiness has ran off, and now I'm just waiting for it to come back.
Ya should stock up on your happiness for these rainy days then...Why do ya look so unhappy anyway? Nothing's been happenin'. It's the peaceful days you dreamed of.
Marisa's comment made Reimu pause, and she leaned on her broom and looked up at the sky as well. The whiteness of the sky was an omen for the forthcoming autumn and winter.
It's just that...now that it's over, it feels kind of weird. Like a sort of lonely feeling.
Seriously? After how unmotivated ya were throughout the whole thing?
Since when? Well, it's true that I wanted to get it over with quickly...After all, we were more or less pushed into it by force.
I've had my fill of that too...In the end, it was all for nothin'. Ah-ah, if only I got somethin' worthy outta it.
Ever since then, the surveillance all over Gensokyo had increased tremendously, forcing Marisa to retreat more often than before. Her wish hadn't come true; in fact, it got even worse.
It's the same for me. After all that fuss, it just ended like that and...
???: You gained nothing, correct? Dear me.
They looked at the direction of the sudden and weary voice to find Shikieiki walking towards them solemnly. She was probably the one person that they least wanted to see.
...What do you want?
Eiki: That is quite an offensive way to speak to someone who is your senior.
Well yeah, but I figured you're off-duty, since you came here to visit.
My work does not give me this free time that you are imagining.
...Then why are you here?
Uh, I've got some things I gotta do...so, uh...
Ah, I have heard that you are not only telling lies, but engaging in compulsive thievery recently. Perhaps I need to teach you another...
Ahh, I'm fine, really, don't worry 'bout me!
...In any case, that is not why I am here today. You believe that you have gained nothing from that experience. However, that is most certainly untrue.
Trying to rerail the topic, huh? Even if you say that it's untrue, it's not very convincing by itself.
Do you not have any good memories of the incident?
...Well, I can't say I don't. But more importantly...
Reimu did not know what she really felt deep inside...So she purposely turned away, aimed for a certain point in the air, and fired one of her symbolic anti-demon needles in that direction.
The needle became stuck in the air with a dull sound accompanied by a shriek of pain that echoed around the grounds. A few seconds later, a crack appeared in the sky, and a figure emerged from it.
Yukari: How violent...You could've ruined my clothes, you know...I've said this before, haven't I?
Probably, since you're always eavesdropping on other people's conversations.
Hm...You could say it's my hobby.
Good grief...You may have your everyday behavior, but since we have important business today, you could try to be more dignified.
...There's definitely something going on.
Reimu kept her guard up. The Yama coming for a lecture may not be unusual, but with Yukari added to the mix...Reimu knew that this couldn't possibly be something she would like.
Yes, we dropped by today in order to give you your final test.
...Huh? A test? And final? When were all the others?
Now, that's not important.
Yes it is!
...Reimu, you are the shrine maiden that inherited the power of the Hakurei. And I believe you are aware of what the meaning of that name entails.
Ahh, now that you mention it...
Suika: You are...Hakurei. Your duty is to protect the barrier that preserves Gensokyo. On the surface, that means you can't let yourself be influenced by others. And that's natural. The Great Hakurei Barrier is the lifeline of Gensokyo. If its custodian got too close to someone, others would find it unsettling. In short, what you think has been your own will, has actually all been the will of the Hakurei blood that flows within you.
Suika said something like that, if I remember correctly.
We would like to see you become the Hakurei that ends and overcomes the duties of the older generations to bring forth a new era. That is our final test.
Hm...I still don't really get it. If you want me to become someone like that, how can I show you all that I already am that person?
Shikieiki answered Reimu's question by revealing her personal mirror. The mirror showed Reimu's reflection without any abnormalities.
This is called the "Cleansed Crystal Mirror". It reveals the past of whoever it is reflected on...And it is not just something that can only be seen. Reimu, I will not force you to do this...But if you are prepared, use the power you have gained to defeat the Hakurei of the past.
Hold on a second. So you want me to take this test or whatever, fine, but...What exactly do I have to do? Fight and defeat something?
Mmhmm. I should let you know that you don't really get anything for winning, and it's game over if you lose, so be careful~.
What are you talking about?
I suggest you ignore her. Now, what shall it be? I will entrust this final decision to you.
I still don't really get it, but I hate running away...So I'll do it.
Are you sure? Very well. Stare deeply into this mirror.
Eiki brought the mirror to her chest and pointed it towards Reimu. The mirror showed Reimu's reflection normally for a while, but the mirror suddenly flashed a bright white light which pierced right through Reimu.
The light that shined on Reimu formed a long and narrow shadow. The shadow continued to extend, and a certain portion of it was separated from the actual shadow. The separate part slowly rose, taking the form of a person.
...When the shadow eventually became a complete person, the light from the mirror vanished, leaving the single person standing there.
Whoa, another Reimu!?
Oh, you were still around?
I was hidin'...But this ain't the time for such questions!
...This may look exactly like Reimu to you, but it is actually the one known as the Hakurei. The guard that has protected Gensokyo for generations.
...So this is the thing that had been manipulating my actions and thoughts up to now?
You may think of it as the will of the Hakurei that operated deep in your subconscious. The generations of existance has given its will a corporeal form.
So I need to defeat it, right?
Yes. With the thoughts of all the allies that you have built up and the great power of your heart, I am sure that you will win.
...You may be the will of the Hakurei or Gensokyo. However, what I know is that I am myself. I have my feelings, my thoughts, and things that I want to do. Carrying the Hakurei name means nothing to that, and I will prove that right now...Let's go!
(Unfortunately, the game's soundtrack that I have does not include this battle's theme for some reason. It's suppose to be a remix of "Maiden's Capriccio ~ Dream Battle", and is unlocked as track #42 of the Extra menu once the battle is cleared.)
And so we begin the longest and most difficult battle in the entire game. Like previous boss battles, your fallen characters will be replaced by a randomly selected member of your army. Choose wisely who you start with, though, as you must try to keep as many characters alive as you can before the bloodbath that is the last few phases of the battle. As for me, I bust out my secret weapon: Koakuma.
Koakuma's Cute Trickster ability lets her randomly rearrange the order of turns. This normally isn't worth the battle counter cost, but in boss battles where counter cost is irrelevant, it can be an enormous boon. For best effect, I pumped as much SPD into her as I could manage: I raised SPD for every one of her affection bonuses, gave her all the SPD pills I could get, and topped it off with a Hurricane Wing for another +2 to SPD. This allows Koakuma to pass her turn over and over again until she gets to go just before the boss, giving me the best chance at messing with the boss's turn.
This battle is an absolute marathon. With many different phases to plow through, it's unlike any other battle in the game. Keeping characters alive will be a hard task. With a bit of luck, Koakuma can handle much of the burden, but I'm also using a generic unit with Healing Light to keep the rest of my attackers healed. Why am I not using Eirin? Well, you'll see...
During the first phase of the battle, the boss will trade normal attacks with your party. Her attack power is staggeringly high; it's enough to OHKO most characters without significantly above-average DEF or WIS. Keeping important characters like Koakuma at Medium range to avoid getting killed is crucial. Once the boss drops below 6,666 HP, she'll automatically recover back up to 6,666 HP and declare her first spellcard.
For every 1,111 HP she loses, the boss will declare a new spellcard and start spamming that special. First up is Evil Sealing Circle, a group attack that hits for about 400-500 damage to each of my characters. While the damage isn't too threatening, it does come with about a 50% chance of stunning each character, which can seriously cripple your team and leave you helpless while the boss casts it over and over again. As planned, I use Koakuma to minimize the number of turns the boss gets to wreak me, and our remaining three attackers get enough turns to slowly hammer the boss's HP down to below 5,555 HP.
Next up is Duplex Barrier, a much stronger single-target spell that also carries a high chance to stun the target. Thankfully, the fact that it hits only one person at a time means that my dedicated healer is able to keep up with the damage it inflicts. This one is typically the easiest phase to deal with, as the attack isn't quite as strong as the boss's normal attack, so it won't be one-shotting everyone left and right. It gives you plenty of opportunities to heal up, mess around with Koakuma, and even wait for the stun effects to wear off. At 4,444 HP, the boss will declare her 3rd spellcard.
In case you're wondering why the screen is shifted over, it's because the screen shakes erratically every time the boss declares a new spellcard, and I'm having difficulty capturing the images. Anyway...
The 3rd spellcard, Fantasy Seal, is actually two separate attacks that the boss will alternate between. Fantasy Seal -Spread- is a dangerous multi-target attack that will hit your party for about 800-900 damage each and debuff everyone's stats at the same time. Fantasy Seal -Concentrate-, on the other hand, is an extra-strong single-target spell that may or may not debuff (I don't know because the target typically doesn't survive for me to find out). In my experience, the boss will always start with Fantasy Seal - Spread, and I was able to drop her to 3,333 HP before her second turn thanks to Koakuma, so I only had to suffer the mass damage + debuff move instead of also losing someone. With that, we move on to the 4th spellcard.
This is perhaps the most bizarre phase the boss has. On each of her turns, the boss will declare the Fantasy Seal spellcard, but nothing will seem to happen. However, at the beginning of each of your character's turns, there's a chance that they will get hit with an attack from out of nowhere for about 700-800 damage. The chance for this to happen starts off at about 20-25% after this phase first starts, but will increase significantly each time the boss re-declares the spellcard until it reaches 100%. This is a phase that you will want to end as soon as possible, because anyone who dies gets replaced by someone new who starts at Medium distance. Given one turn to change positions before attacking, that costs you about 1500 HP before you can make your first attack if you're unlucky (unless you both approach and melee attack, but the boss's counterattack can do 4-digit damage). This is also the part where I typically lose Koakuma, as her high speed leads to many turns and damage triggers. However she and the rest of the gang miraculously survive here and move on to the next phase. (Yes, this is my best run ever thus far.)
At 2,222 HP, the boss will declare Fantasy Seal -Blink-. This is an attack with an exceptionally low delay, allowing the boss to cast it multiple times in between the average character's turns. The attack doesn't deal that much damage (about 200-400?), but it does hit the entire party. The worst thing about it, though, is that it completely scrambles each character's distance, usually putting your ranged attackers up close and vice versa. The best characters to use here would be ones that can ignore distance to some degree with their specials, such as Suika, Youmu, and Aya. Or, alternatively, you can luck out like me and delay the boss's turns so often with Koakuma that she only gets to cast it once before dropping down to 1,111 HP.
And here is typically where the proverbial fecal matter hits the air cooling unit. While the boss is declaring her 6th spellcard, Fantasy Heaven, none of your characters are ever given a turn (game-wise, every character is stunned and the boss's attack has pretty much no delay). Fantasy Heaven is a multi-target attack that does somewhat variable damage (seems to go from 300-1,000 depending on the character, but can vary widely even with the same character). Since your characters can't act, you can't help but sit there and be destroyed by the onslaught (even abilities like Resurrection won't active here). Each time the boss casts Fantasy Heaven, though, she loses 185 HP. After six consecutive declarations, she'd have lost 1,110 HP and you'd have lost pretty much your entire team. I still can't believe Keine survived this phase with 14 HP remaining; I've never seen any character survive all six hits prior to this.
With the boss at 1 HP now, you'd think you've got this even with a fresh random party, right? Oh, so very wrong.
Now things get really serious with the 7th spellcard, Illusion of Absolute Order. The boss bumps herself back up to 1,500 HP, then buffs all her stats to max. Meanwhile, you're still going to have to figure out what to do with a completely random party that's starting at rather disadvantageous distances. Of course, this being the most awesome run ever, I was blessed with some extraordinary options here. Okay, so a level 9 Wriggle isn't intimidating anyone (not sure why I haven't dismissed her yet on this playthrough), but the two generics and Eirin were just what I wanted to see. One generic had Rally to buff up my entire team's stats, and the other had...
Aw yeah, the best buff removal spell in the game. Stripping the boss of her buffs will usually double the damage she takes from your attacks (although her attacks are often OHKOs even without the buffs on). Lastly, Eirin got to take her turn before the boss, which let her heal Keine back up to full health. The reason why I wanted Eirin for my healer is because her healing spell's formula is not based on her own HP (unlike Healing Light/Prayer), and I needed her to be able to heal others even when she herself was at low health. As long as she remained at Medium distance, there was little chance of her getting KO'd, although she'll probably remain at low health for the entire time.
With these abilities on our side, we're prepared to match the boss on a much more even playing field. Oh yeah, I still haven't even explained what this spellcard does...
At the beginning of every one of your character's turns, a random detrimental effect will trigger. That character can have one of their stats drop down to 1, or have attacks or specials sealed off, or have their distance either scrambled or frozen, or lose half of their HP, or even just have their turn skipped entirely. During this entire sequence, the boss will be using regular attacks again, and they seem even stronger than they were at the beginning (although that may be because of all the debuffs flying around; another reason why Eirin's special's drawback doesn't matter as much in the long run). Expect a lot of OHKOs there, even to your stronger characters.
But you know what's awesome? Resurrection triggering no less than FOUR times in this battle. Sure, Mokou was taking close to 1,500 damage in counterattack damage each time she attacked, but getting a clean bill of health each time she died allowed her to do some major damage all on her own. At full health her melee attack hit for about 200 damage, and with only 1,500 HP to fight through, that's quite a contribution.
Eventually, as some characters fell and more took their place, we managed to wear the boss down. The final blow was struck by Yukari with an advancing melee attack, which did 59 damage in return for her taking a counterattack for over 3,000 damage due to her DEF getting debuffed to 1. Of course, that didn't matter, because the boss was out of HP and-
Oh, yeah. Of course.
Eight phases later, and the boss STILL has one last trick up her sleeve. This final spellcard, Flawless Heavenly Victory, not only heals her for 2,400 HP, but it also follows up with an attack that hits all of your characters down to exactly 1 HP.
But just when all hope seems lost...
Reimu mounts an epic comeback with her own spellcard declaration. In one swift move, she fully revives and restores all of her allies, while simultaneously delivering the finishing blow to the embodiment of the Hakurei bloodline itself.
With that, the most epic battle in the game comes to an end.
BGM: Quiet Morning ~ Tranquility
The "Hakurei" that Reimu's group defeated dispersed into particles and was swallowed up by the Cleansed Crystal Mirror. The area became silent again, as if nothing had actually happened.
Reimu: Whew...It's kind of difficult to have to fight yourself.
W-What's going on? Why are you two looking at me so strangely?
...Ah, please excuse me. To be perfectly honest, I was shocked that you had actually won.
...You were the one who got me to do this in the firstplace.
The person you were before surely would not have been able to win. It seems you have grown far beyond our imagination.
We can safely leave Gensokyo to you now, Ms. Hakurei shrine maiden.
Even if you say that, I'm betting you have no plans on retiring.
...If you had not changed at all, then things would have had to be settled between you and me. Although I can't say it won't happen in the future either.
You're always so whimsical, then you decide to get serious now? We don't know what will happen in the future anyway. Just take it as it is now.
...Heh, perhaps I am the one being irresolute this time, mm?
Those who will decide the future of Gensokyo can be none other than the two of you. It fill sme with hope. Well then, I shall see you all another day.
Eiki bowed deeply to Reimu with a beaming smile brighter than the sun, and silently left after. Reimu could no longer feel her usual coldness and dignity, but instead felt a strange warmth.
...I hope that it will be a long time before I see you, I'm afraid.
I'll be heading home as well...My work is all done, how wonderful~!
Your work, huh?
Someone has to fulfill the duty of focusing everyone's power as one. I've accomplished that, and now it's your turn. See you again~!
Yukari left the same way she came, through a gap in the air. The ability to easily move anywhere is truly something to be envied.
My...duty, huh? Hey Marisa, what do you think my duty is?
Marisa: Huh? You're askin' me?
Who else could I be asking?
You'll find out eventually, won't ya? Keep everythin' as it is, stay the way ya are. If ya do the things ya think ya should do, I'm sure it'll turn out alright.
...Yeah, it's not like me to get caught up in silly things! Thanks, Marisa.
Well, you showin' gratitude for such a simple thing feels oddly creepy.
...You get no food with your rice today.
The protection of the Great Hakurei Barrier and the resolution of incidents had been the Hakurei's duty for generations. Reimu had followed that without question. But to Eiki and Yukari, that could not continue. Reimu had now begun to think of herself, her way of life, and her relationship with the others. She now had a mind that did not belong to the "Hakurei" bloodline, but to the person named "Reimu" instead.