Family (chapters 23-24)

Chapter 23: Awakening

There was a heavy silence over the whole area. For a short while, no words where spoken as everyone present stared at the girl who, up until a moment ago, had been utterly terrified.
Now, she stood in front of an overwhelming enemy with a straight back, radiating determination.
From where she was laying, Noriko could partially see her sister’s face.
Her amethyst eyes were shining with a light she had never seen before. It matched the light of the spear in her hand, somehow seeming both intimidating and friendly at the same time.

Yukari opened her fan and covered her face, leaving only the narrowing eyes visible.
The bright pink glowing spear that was pointed at her heart made her experience a rather strange sensation.
It was not fear, it was more like puzzlement. She understood that the spear had a special quality, but she was unable to sense what it could possibly be. This feeling intrigued her, so she decided to experiment a little and see if she could figure it out.
“Hohoho, so the scared little rabbit finally decided to act. Fine then, lets see if that little toy of yours is worth anything”.
She moved her hand as if giving an order. The beast in front of her roared and advanced, the girl before it looking little more then an ant in comparison.

Akane watched the beast approach, it’s eyes gleaming and it’s large mouth opening, getting ready to strike. Long sharp teeth lined it’s jaws and saliva dripped in streams down on the ground.
She pulled her spear back and held it over her shoulder in a stance, ready to throw it. Once the beast got a little closer, she put all her strength into the throw and aimed for it’s open mouth.
The beast ducked under the spear, and in doing so it opened a clear path for it to reach Yukari.

Seeing the tip of the spear approach, the youkai suddenly had a very bad feeling. She quickly commanded the beast to shield her with it’s tail, and it was just able to do it in time. The spear impacted the hard scales on the tail in a shower of sparks and bounced back, spinning towards the ground.
As the beast turned it’s attention back to Akane, the girl snapped her fingers. The spear that had been falling lifelessly suddenly straightened itself and shot of in it’s master’s direction. Akane placed herself so that the beasts head was between her and the spear, but still making sure her opponent could see it in the corner of it’s vision.
When the beast slightly shifted it’s head to see what was moving behind it, Akane snapped her fingers a second time and her spear propelled itself forward at an immense speed.
It only lasted a moment, but it was enough for it to reach the creature’s eye.
An unpleasant, squishy sound could be heard as it pierced the gelatinous surface and burrowed itself in the eye socket.
The beast roared and thrashed it’s head around, quickly dislodging the spear and sending it crashing into the hard ground with a clatter. Akane quickly distanced herself from it and made another finger snap, this time catching her spear as it reached her hand.

Although the wound should be much to shallow to do any real damage to a creature of that size, the beast did not stop writhing in agony. Instead, it actually seemed to get worse.
Akane stood unmoving as she watched it, her spear shining in her hand.
The beast thrashed around, scratched at the ground, let out pained roars and swung it’s head from side to side.
Everyone present could do little other then stare at it in amazement as it eventually came to a stop, curled itself up and just laid there, shaking uncontrollably and releasing grunts that almost sounded like sobs.
Once it had stopped moving around, Akane turned her gaze back towards Yukari. Once again she pointed her spear at her enemy’s heart, and the youkai finally spoke again (although with a noticeably less mocking tone).
“So, is that the secret to your strange spear then? It enables you to manipulate the feelings of those you stab with it”.
She looked over at the covering giant beast.
“First you made it feel so much pain that it panicked, then you imbued it with fear to the point where it’s to scared to move or even look at it’s surroundings”.
She shifted her gaze back to the young girl and smiled.
“What an absolutely terrifying power”.

Akane met Yukari’s gaze and opened her mouth.
“Let us go, NOW! If you don’t, I’ll stab you next!”
The youkai answered with a chilling grin.
“If your ability lets you manipulate emotions, then I just need to send something that doesn’t feel emotions to deal with you”.
As she spoke she opened a large hole in the ground, and from it rose a humanoid creature with a slightly odd silhouette.
Once it was in plain view they could all see that it was made of rock, an earth golem.
Akane hesitated a little, her ability would indeed not work on a golem, as they where little more then automatons carrying out instructions. She took a few steps back as the rock creature’s heavy feet shock the ground, beginning it’s advance.

Suddenly, it lifted it’s arm and launched it’s solid fist straight forward like a rocket. Akane, not having anticipated a ranged attack, was caught of guard and tried to hurl herself sideways.
She did not quite make it in time, the large fist impacted her right side and sent her spinning through the air in an unceremonious manner.
Upon impacting the ground it felt like all air was sucked out of her lunges. She grabbed her side that was throbbing painfully and desperately struggled to catch her breath. She had dropped her spear when she was struck, but quickly summoned it back into her left hand and tried to throw it at her assailant. It had little to no effect when it bounced on the creature’s hard face.
The fist it had launched drifted back through the air and re-attached itself to it’s wrist, then the golem aimed it at her again and sent it flying.

This time the fist did indeed impact something head on, but it was not the target it was aiming for. A very loud BANG resounded through the whole area as Izumi’s tiny fist met the golem’s in a pure contest of strength.
The scene seemed like it was frozen in time for an instant, like a painting, before the large stone fist flew back through the air and crashed into the ground, rolling a few meters. During this time Momoka quickly swooped in, picked up Akane and moved her away from the fight.
Izumi stood her ground, fist still raised, and spoke words of red-hot anger.
“Don’t even try it you hunk of junk! I will reduce you to nothing but gravel!”
The golem pulled it’s fist back and started to charge it’s new target. Sachi raised her head slightly and yelled.
“Don’t meet it head on again! It’s got the full mass of it’s body behind the strike now, you wont be able to stop it!”
Hearing this, Izumi sidestepped the oncoming blow just as it was about to hit her, then punched the golem’s leg with full force. The construct lost it’s footing and crashed face-first into the ground. Izumi didn’t let the chance go to waste and quickly jumped up onto it’s back where she began to pummel it with a flurry of blows.
Stone splinters flew in every direction as fissures appeared on the golem’s back, the stone cracking with a sickening noise under the furious assault. Noticing this, it started rolling over onto it’s back. Izumi jumped of and landed a few meters away just as the golem got back on it’s feet and turned towards her again.

Before it could charge again though, Kazehana swooped down on it from the air and engulfed it in a tornado. While it did little to hinder the creature, it did pick up all of the pulverized rock dust in it’s new cracks and made it swirl around it’s head, effectively impeding it’s vision.
She quickly flew back to her younger sister and propelled her forward using another tornado. Izumi landed a solid hit in the middle of the golem’s chest and Kazehana quickly pulled her back, out of reach of the counter attack. She then moved her sister to another side and they repeated the process.
The result was almost a minute of hit and run tactics, the golem lacking the intelligence necessary to adjust it’s tactics to deal with he situation.

Slowly but steadily, more cracks appeared all over it’s body and grew larger. When one attack finally dislodged a large portion of the torso, sending a spray of broken bolder pieces flying, the golem slowed down a little.
They kept the attack going and soon it’s left arm was lost, followed by it’s left leg making it topple over with no means to break it’s fall.
It slammed hard into the ground and Kazehana threw Izumi high into the air. There, the girl gathered all her strength into her right fist as she started to fall towards her target, feeling like it took forever to reach it.
When she finally slammed her fist into her enemy’s body, the resulting loud crack and stone fragments flying in every direction felt incredibly satisfying.
She stood up and observed the result with a satisfied smile on her face.
“I told you I would reduce you to gravel”.

She turned triumphantly towards Yukari and shouted in a loud voice.
“How do you like that? Your stupid rock puppet is all broken now!”
The youkai looked straight at her with a smile.
“Yes indeed, it is broken, but what makes you think it’s harmless just because of that?”
Hearing this, Sachi’s eyes went wide.
“Izumi! Get away from it! Now!”
At that exact moment the remains of the golem all exploded. The area that was covered in it’s pieces was completely engulfed by the deafening blasts, making everyone cover their ears and shut their eyes.
Once the shockwave had washed over them, they opened their eyes to a painful sight. Izumi was on the ground, clearly blinded and deafened, writhing in pain and bleeding from a number of wounds.
Rena let out a shrill shriek and ran to her sister, a flood of tears flowing down her cheeks like rivers.
Yukari’s voice could be heard, speaking in a low tone.
“That’s another one down”.

Momoka and Kazehana were the only ones left besides Rena that could still move properly. Yukari pointed towards them with her fan.
“So, how best to subdue you two then? I’m feeling a little unimaginative at the moment, so I think I’ll just swarm you”.
More holes opened and another pack of wolves emerged, followed by a new swarm of flying serpents.
“Wolfs for hunting the cat and snakes for the bird, yea that should do nicely I think”.

The two sisters looked at each other. This was the same situation that they had started in, except now they where the only two left that could offer any resistance.
Kazehana’s voice sounded very nervous when she spoke.
“W-what do we do? There’s no end to this”.
Momoka’s bright, golden eyes met her gaze. She was also clearly nervous, yet at the same time seemed excited.
“Nothing much we can do other then keep fighting”.
She moved closer and placed a hand on her sister’s shoulder.
“For everyone’s sake”.
Kazehana didn’t have time to respond however, something caught their attention. Turning their gaze towards Izumi, their jaws almost dropped.

Rena, who had been crying the whole time as she held Izumi in her arms, suddenly stopped. As she looked at her sister getting tormented by her pain, a small wish had formed in her heart, ‘I want to make her pain go away‘.
This wish became an image in her mind, and image of multi-colored light that seemed to grow more and more real to her eyes. Then she noticed, it was real.
The crystals on her wings where emanating light of all colors, shining brighter every second.
Rena was only vaguely aware of her sisters staring at her as she slowly extended her hand and touched one of the light beams.
It was a warm, friendly light, calm as a gentle breeze yet warm like her mother’s embrace.
In that moment, she understood what the light was. This was her power that had laid dormant, the power she had sought but failed to find for so long.
As soon as she came to this realization, she tried to command the light to direct itself towards Izumi. The differently colored beams of light bent themselves in elegant curves and aimed themselves at the wounded girl, entering all the parts of her body that where damaged.

Izumi’s pain tormented her. It was as if it was laughing at her, being blinded and deafened but still being able to feel the pain. There was no end to it.
At least, that’s what it felt like right up until that moment.
A strange sensation began to spread through her body, pushing back the pain and replacing it. It felt like a gentle caress at first, evoking memories of her mother’s touch.
Soon she could feel a pleasant warmth engulf her eyes, soothing her pain and calming her down. It was not long before she could see the light again, vague shapes at first but they came more and more into focus as the warmth lingered around her eyes.
Once she was able to focus, she saw Rena’s face. It was wet with tears, her hair was loose and hung down in strands, the skin around her eyes was red, but there was an unmistakable smile on her face and her mismatched eyes were glowing slightly. Izumi noticed that Rena was holding her in her arms. Then she saw the light.

It was flowing in arcs from the crystals on her sister’s wings and entering her body wherever it was hurt. The same pleasant warmth wrapped itself around her injuries.
Izumi blinked in disbelief as her wounds closed, almost as if in reverse of how they opened, her bleeding stopped and she regained her hearing.
She carefully tried to move her arm and noticed that it didn’t hurt to do so anymore. She looked into Rena’s eyes again and tried to speak, but her younger sister stopped her with a smile.
“It’s alright, I finally found it. I found my power, and now I can help you”.

Witnessing this scene caused Kazehana’s and Momoka’s courage to come surging back. As they turned towards the horde of beasts once more, their earlier fear was gone.
Yukari seemingly observed Rena with great interest.
“Hmm, that is a rather useful ability, I’ll give her that. However, it does seem to have a certain limitation”.
She turned to Kazehana and Momoka.
“It seems it needs some time to take effect, which means that if she doesn’t get time to do her thing, it won’t be very helpful”.
At her words, the pack of beasts stirred and began their advance. The two sisters who stood in their way answered the youkai’s challenge in unison.
“Don’t worry, we’ll make sure she gets all the time she needs”.

Chapter 24: A light in the darkness

Momoka and Kazehana blazed through the horde of dark beasts as if performing a dance. Aided by their many hours of practicing chasing each other, they swirled around, twisted and turned through the air, assaulted the enemy with feints, bullet and tornado barrages and exploding ‘ghost orbs’.
The beasts howled and hissed in rage and pain as they fell one after the other. Their black bodies covered the floor and began to smolder, slowly turning into a sticky, foul mist.
Kazehana, remembering what had happened to Izumi, sent gusts of wind to push the foul mist away from them as much as she could. She didn’t want to take any chances in case it was dangerous to inhale or something.

Momoka dodged a serpent lunging for her and retreated a small distance as Kazehana sent a bullet through it’s forehead.
She took a quick moment to glance in Noriko’s and Sachi’s direction. Rena was working on healing them, assisted by a tired-looking but otherwise healthy Izumi.
Akane, still clutching her side, was back on her feet and currently stood in front of them as a guard, her spear shining brightly as she held it at the ready.

Satisfied that her sisters were, at least temporarily, out of harms way, Momoka returned her attention to the horde of enemies swarming before them.
At the sight of the large number of black beasts advancing on them, the corners of her mouth twisted into a joyful grin. She was thoroughly enjoying herself.
Waging her tail happily, she threw herself back into the fight.

Noriko had no real words to describe the marvel that was Rena’s ability. The multicolored beams of light felt so gentle and warm when they touched her, and it was as if all her pain turned to mist and just drifted away.
Had they not been in such a dangerous situation, she would have embraced her younger sister and praised her to her hearts content.
As it were, they still didn’t have any clear way out of this mess, nor did their enemy show any signs of concern as her hordes of beasts all got crushed one after the other. It was a chilling sight to see.

A light tap on her shoulder drew her attention towards Sachi. Her sister’s silver eyes were full of concern as she tilted her head in Rena’s direction.
When Noriko turned her gaze towards her, she saw that Rena’s face was covered in beads of sweat and her mouth was open, drawing ragged breaths.
A pang of guilt stabbed her in the chest, she hadn’t through about how tiring it must have been for her sister to use such an advanced ability to such an extent after only just having discovered it, especially considering her poor stamina.
She opened her mouth and spoke carefully.
“Rena, it’s alright now, I’m all better. You don’t have to do any more”.
Her sister shook her head vigorously, making her colorful hair swing back and forth.
“No big sis, maybe you can’t feel it, but I can. You are not fully fixed yet”.
Sachi, who was already fully recovered, looked at Rena with a pained expression.
Noriko tried a different approach.
“Look, I feel fine enough to stand up on my own. I don’t need to be fully healed to use my dolls properly, and I think Akane is in more pain then me right now”.
She used her doll’s arms to drag herself to her feet, taking care not to show any sings of discomfort, and flashed her best big sister smile.
“See? I can manage. Akane is the last one who needs help so it would be better if you went straight to fixing her now”.
Rena hesitated, unwilling to leave her big sis without fixing everything that was broken, but in the end she she decided that she was probably right, Akane was in more pain and needed help.
She wiped the sweat from her forehead and tried to straighten her back a little.
“Under-, hah, hah, understood sis, I’ll fix Akane now then”.
Noriko gave her an approving nod, then turned to face Sachi’s questioning gaze. When Rena’s back was turned, she leaned closer and whispered in her sister’s ear.
“It was never an option for her to not treat Akane, I just tried to make her do it before she completely runs out of strength”.
Sachi gave her a small nod.
“In that case I understand, now we just need to get out of here somehow”.
“Yea, I think it’s pretty much impossible for us to beat that hag. We need to run, but how? We don’t even know where we are”.

Sachi pulled Izumi closer and whispered in a low voice.
“Have you been able to see any way out of here? I’ve been looking since we awoke but I can’t see anything”.
Izumi shook her head. “It’s like there is a wall of darkness that I can’t see through all around us. The only thing I can see is the floor, I don’t even know where the light in here is coming from”.
Sachi nodded.
“Yea, that’s been bothering me as well. What is illuminating this area that is covered in darkness? It doesn’t make any sense”.
Noriko tapped her chin with her fingertip.
“Maybe it’s like Izumi said, we are simply prevented from seeing anything beyond a certain range. There could be a light source outside the range of what we can see, and since it’s light can make it’s way in here it probably means that it’s not a barrier that surrounds us”.
Sachi turned towards her.
“How do you figure that?”
“Well, I asked mother about the barrier that surrounds our house, and she said that it prevents light from passing through it. The light we see coming from it is from a spell they put on the inside of the barrier that looks like the light from the outside world”.
“So what you are saying is that if there is a light source outside the range of what we can see, it’s light should not be able to reach us if we were surrounded by a barrier. Hmm, it’s not guarantied to be correct, but it’s better then anything else we got to go on at the moment”.
She closed her eyes in thought for a moment, when she opened them again there was a determined look on her face.
“Alright, as soon as Akane can move properly, we launch a combined attack to create an opening, then grab Momoka and Kazehana and make a run for it. If we stay together we at least have a chance”.
The others nodded their agreement.

After quickly relaying their plan to Akane and Rena, and waiting for Akane’s treatment to finish up, they all waited for a good moment to set it in motion.
They waited while watching Kazehana and Momoka continue their mortal dance with their enemies, striking more of them down all the time but never seeming to make any real progress.
More and more dark holes opened up and from them emerged new beasts to replace those that fell, the whole scene was like an unending nightmare to watch.
Noriko could see the fear and uncertainty in her sister’s eyes all around her (Rena in particular, as she was now gasping for breath and leaning limply against Izumi’s shoulder), so she did her utmost to look stoic and unwavering as she stood her ground, hoping that it would help them to at least keep their fear in check a little longer.
She waited for the perfect moment, a wait that felt like torture. Seconds felt like minutes, as if time was mocking her with it’s slow crawl.
Then she saw it, and sprung into action.
As she had her knight doll send a large crescent shaped wave straight into a large pack of beasts she shouted as loud as she could.
“Momoka! Kazehana! Get down on the ground now!”
They were both tired from their fighting and a little surprised, but the large blast from the knight doll bought them the extra seconds they needed to catch up and dive straight down to the floor.
As they did, Noriko had her archer doll release a wave while Sachi directed the bullets Akane and Izumi fired into the closest beast’s heads.
Noriko shouted her second order.
“Now come to us, we are going to run!”
They both dashed back to the group, Izumi picked up Rena in her arms, and they all set of running straight away from the black horde and their master.

While they ran Noriko has her archer doll fire volleys back at their pursuers. She wasn’t really aiming, just hoping to slow them down a little so they could keep the distance they had gained.
It was scary to run straight into the darkness in front of them, but as she had hoped, when they reached the black wall it wasn’t solid and did nothing to hinder their advance.
A sense of relief surfaced in her chest, their gamble had payed of and there was now a possibility of them getting away. A hope that was cruelly extinguished as fast as it had flared up.
Once they got past the dark mist that had been blocking their view, there was a wall right in front of them. A tall wall that led up to a solid ceiling.
They were trapped, they had been trapped from the start and the darkness had simply been put there to conceal this fact.
Now that the full weight of the reality of their situation came crushing down on them, several streams of tears started to flow. Noriko understood that there was little more they could do but put their backs against the wall and hope they could fend of their attackers, but even that was just delaying the inevitable.
Trying to swallow the hard lump in her throat, she looked at Sachi. Her sister met her gaze, and for a short moment it seemed like time slowed down between the two of them.
They saw in each others eyes the same realization, the same sadness and the same desperation. Yet at the same time, there was something else there that was more important.
As their eyes met, they exchanged a small nod. There was no more need for words, they both understood.
Noriko told her sisters to put their backs against the wall, then placed herself in front of them with Sachi at her side. Together, they gazed into the darkness, waiting.

After what felt like an eternity, a familiar head with long blonde hair and red ribbons emerged. She was clapping her hands with a joyful expression.
“Bravo, you figured it out. You actually made it outside my little arena. Not that it did you any good of course”.
Sachi grit her teeth. Listening to this hag mocking their last desperate attempt at escape pissed her of something fierce.
More then that though, it was the whole setup that infuriated her. This hag had been playing with them from the start, never actually giving them any chance to win or escape, and now she was mocking their efforts.
Yukari easily noticed Sachi’s anger.
“Aw, don’t be like that honey. There’s got to be a solid punchline for a joke to be any good”.
The young girl glared back and spoke in a low, dark voice she had never used before.
“Do NOT call me ‘honey’. Only my parents can call me that!”
Yukari opened her fan and flapped it as one would ward of an annoying fly.
“Now now, manners please. I’m not quite done with you yet”.
Noriko, unable to listen to any more, sent a volley of arrows and a shockwave flying straight at Yukari’s face.
The youkai effortlessly waved her attacks away with another flap of her fan.
“Oh my, I had hoped that you would have at least realized by now that attacking me is utterly pointless”.
Noriko lowered her head slightly and spoke sharply though gritted teeth.
“It’s not pointless”.
Yukari put her hand behind her ear and leaned a little closer.
“What was that? You need to speak up a little my dear”.
Noriko raised her head and shouted as loud as she could.
Glaring at Yukari, she continued.
“Even if I can’t hurt you, even if I can’t touch you, my attacks can still hold you back for a slight second. That’s one more second that you aren’t touching my sisters, and that’s all the reason I need to fight you!”

Yukari stayed silent for a few seconds before she replied.
“You really do have her resolve after all”.
She then snapped her fingers, and from the dark wall that had been surrounding them before the large pack of black beasts emerged, waiting for their master’s call.
Noriko and Sachi exchanged one last look, nodded, then readied themselves for the tidal wave that was about to engulf them.

At that exact moment, it was as if everything just stopped.
An enormous pillar of white light came down from the ceiling, burst through and dispelled the dark dome that had surrounded them before, and hit the floor with an excessively large bang.
The impact created a giant surge of wind that washed over them all, and they instinctively shielded their faces with their arms.
After the blast was over and the light pillar was gone, nobody moved. It was as if everyone, including the beasts, were in a trance. All they could do was stare at the crater in the ground where the light pillar had impacted.
Then, a familiar voice echoed through the large room.
“Yo, hope ya all don’t mind the rather flashy entrance, how are ya holdin’ up?”

Noriko, and all her sisters, raised their heads and stared in disbelief. Before them, hovering in the air on her broom, was their auntie Marisa.
She was holding her mini-hakkero and flashing a huge grin.
Then they saw more silhouettes descend from the ceiling, more people they recognized.
Their eyes teared up as they watched all their parents, together with Patchouli and Sakuya, join Marisa where she hovered in the air, all of them bearing angry expressions.
Yukari turned to the new arrivals.
“Oh? So you managed to break through my barrier. That was rather quick of you”.
Marisa tapped a finger against her mini-hakkero.
“Don’t forget that my magic runs on the power of love! It took a little longer then I would have wanted, but after I gathered the love of all those present here and loaded it into my final spark, that barrier of yours crumbled like wet tissue paper”.

Sachi finally managed to take a good look at the room they where in, and she noticed something.
“Hey, isn’t this the danmaku practice basement in our backyard?”
Marisa turned her gaze towards her.
“Indeed it is. Once we noticed you had been taken it didn’t take us long to trace you here. We were able to enter the observation bunker but there was a barrier there that stopped us from going into the basement. We were able to see everything that went on though, prolly one of Yukari’s little ‘favors’ I’d imagine”.
She grinned and continued.
“Now then, why don’t we clean up a little here?”
Moving as one, all the adults attacked. The kids eyes went wide as they witnessed a side of their parents they had never seen before. They moved so fast that it was hard to keep up and eliminated all the black beasts with a flurry of attacks. Howls of pain filled the air for a short while, but they ended as abruptly as they had began.
Before they knew it, all seven of the children were embraced by their parents. Noriko stiffened for a moment when she felt Alice’s warm arms around her body, not sure if she dared to believe her own senses.
She tilted her head back and looked into her mother’s face. It was the face she remembered, the same gentle smile, the same friendly eyes.
Looking closer, she saw small tears at the edges of her eyes. Then she heard her voice.
“You did well Noriko. You protected your sisters, you didn’t give up even when it was hopeless. I am so proud of you”.
Feeling her own eyes burning as her vision got cloudy, Noriko threw her arms around her mother and pressed her face against her chest.
She felt the arms holding her tighten their grip slightly. She tightened her own grip in response and began to cry freely.
Vaguely aware of her sisters crying in a similar manner, the young girl finally let all her built up tension drain from her and cried loudly.
Alice held her and whispered in her ear.
“I love you so much”.

Marisa, Sakuya and Patchouli, having placed themselves between the kids and Yukari, stared at the youkai.
“Sorry, but your games end here gap hag”.
Yukari frowned.
“How rude, one should not call people names you know. Besides, my games are not quite finished”.
Marisa gave a dark grin in return.
“Sorry, but they are now”.
Everyone in the room suddenly felt a strange sensation. The kids looked towards the entrance that had been blasted open, and what they saw was a rather imposing sight.
Slowly descending until she reached the middle of the room, Reimu hovered in the air.
It was strange to look at her. She radiated anger and determination, but apart from that there was an air of hostility and mercilessness around her that everyone, even those who knew her, were surprised to sense.
Her face was set, not showing anger, sadness or happiness, and her glare seemed like it was burning a hole through the air between her and Yukari.

Noriko felt a little weird. Her mother felt extremely scary right now, yet at the same time reassuring. It was strangely comforting to see her like that.
Then the shrine maiden turned to look at her children, and her eyes changed to a much softer tone.
“It’s alright now, you don’t have to be scared anymore”.
She turned her gaze back to Yukari.
“I will now end this”.

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