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“Is it?” said Alice, wearing not-quite a smile as she nursed her bruised knuckles.
“Yes,” said the vampire.
“And Miss Elly is your aunt?”
Kurumi caught herself before the word slipped her tongue. “I think,” she said instead, turning to the Elly in question, “I’d remember if I knew someone like—”
“You don’t,” said Elly.
Kurumi blinked, and voiced—
“It was a joke,” said Elly, firmly.
Kurumi glanced to the magician—
“It was not her time,” said Elly.
“Don’t play at the cowl of Death with that ridiculous hat of yours,” Kurumi muttered. She was struck with an unjustifiable feeling, then: that the words had already been spoken, and she had only just acknowledged the fact.
“It’s not as if I wear it for your sake,” Elly murmured back, a hand coming faintly to her mouth as if to prevent the words from spilling out. She coughed then, quite deliberately, and pretended to compose herself, before sweeping her scythe round her back and sitting up on it. “I suppose I shall be brief about it.”
Vampire and magician each kept her silence.
“A wind of change blows our way,” said Elly, “and while I cannot help you brave it, I can provide you this piece of forearming.” She produced two envelopes, then, and distributed them. “These will tell you all that which you need to know.”
They were of aged flax paper, and signed with a flourish Kurumi couldn’t quite read, but left unsealed.
“Rest assured all this is or is to become public knowledge in short order. I do you only the courtesy of informing you.”
“You are a courier?” said Alice all of the sudden, a note of disappointment colouring her voice. She was taken offhand, then, when a spool of fine, silvery wire was thrown her way, and barely caught it in both hands.
“I,” said Elly, “am your dearest Aunt Elly.”
She turned to Kurumi next, and presented her with—
—a living wrist, attached to a living arm, and anything further disappeared behind Elly’s back through impossible angles. She held it out as if leading it in a dance, though its withered form seemed in no condition for such indulgences: living said the whole extent of it.
Kurumi heard the call of blood nevertheless.
[ ] She bit the arm.
[ ] She bit Elly.