All right. When I consider the situation, things don't look that good. Rinnosuke is clearly a great deal stronger than I am. You don't need to be brilliant to see that. He's also got a very deadly look in his eye, making it clear that my death is at the top of his list of priorities. Rinnosuke is a total sociopath, he wants me dead, and he may as well have arms ending in sledgehammers.
Good news: I have weapons.
Bad news: They're mostly makeshift weapons, and I don't think that they'll do much against someone with his strength, Furthermore, I am completely alone. I don't think that Parsee will be of much help, given how slow her movements are.
Good news: this man clearly has an ego the size of a mountain. And me? I'm a butler. I practically specialize in tearing down egos.
Time to get to work. Carefully.
Rinnosuke takes a another step towards me, eyes smoldering with hate and hands bunching into white-knuckled fists. Heart pounding in my chest, I nonetheless manage to appear calm as I pull out and extend my spear. The half-youkai stares at it in disbelief. "Are you joking?" he scoffs, "You're using some cobbled-together weapon against ME?"
"It's about what I feel you deserve," I say simply. Rinnosuke snarls at this and leaps forward, seizing the end of my spear and crushing it in his hand. He pulls it out of my hands and tosses it away before seizing me by my hunting vest and hurling me across the room into the kitchenette.
It's more than a little bit painful.
"Afred!" Parsee calls out, frightened. Rinnosuke himself leers at me, clearly pleased at being able to show off his great strength. And therein lies the key. Yes, this man is incredibly dangerous to me, and if I give any sign of the fear currently gripping my heart, he's won. I will not give him that satisfaction.
Instead, I pick up a particularly large cleaver from the kitchenette, pondering Rinnosuke over the edge of its blade. He pauses, waiting to see what I'll do. I consider him carefully for a long moment, long enough for my muscles to stop aching and my breath to return to normal. "...Yes, that's about what I was expecting," I say out loud.
"Absolute terror?" Rinnosuke chuckles.
"No," I reply, and set the cleaver down. "Utter disappointment."
He stares at me blankly for a moment. "...Sorry?" the half-youkai asks me, looking startled.
I sigh and stand up. "This whole thing. You had an amazing set-up, I have to admit. A secret network of tunnels, surveillance equipment, the whole nine yards. You were in the perfect position to do whatever the hell you wanted, and we simply wouldn't have been able to stop you." I stare at him. "But when it came to the execution, you were a total amateur."
Rinnosuke flinches as though slapped, and he charges me, fist raised high. At the last moment I leap out of the way, as his fist crushes the kitchenette.
but he's strong.
Okay. Stay calm. Don't panic.
"That's exactly what I mean," I tell him simply.
"Me almost crushing your skull is a disappointment?" Rinnosuke spits at me, "Because I can correct that-"
"No," I interrupt him in a flat tone. I cross my arms, deliberately not reaching for any of my weapons. "You had the opportunity to act like a complete mastermind. You wound up showing yourself to be a total fool. And at the very end, you choose to act like an angry gorilla. THAT is what I find disappointing." I sigh again. "Please, if you're going to try and kill me, at least ACT competent, will you."
Rinnosuke whirls on me, and I pull out the hunting knife, its edge gleaming in the light. There is no sound in the room other than the hum of the generator; everyone is transfixed by our encounter. Rinnosuke's eyes are focused on the blade; he obviously sees it as the main threat here. I take a step away from him, two, three. Now I'm standing next to the shattered remains of the desk.
Then, with slow and deliberate motions, I put the knife away.
Rinnosuke watches, confused, as I toe around the remains of the wooden construct. "Such a waste," I note.
He shrugs. "It's just a desk. I can get another."
"Why did you destroy it?"
"I told you, I can just get another-"
"No." I interrupt him again, causing him to growl. He's about to lunge again. Have to stop him, make him think. "Why did you destroy this desk? What was the point? For someone who wants to go on about how he's in control, you were very quick to destroy it. Why?"
Rinnosuke actually hesitates, and I continue nosing around the shattered remains, near the drawers. "You made me angry," he said simply, "And I didn't appreciate that. People shouldn't make me angry, Alfred, especially when-"
"Enough," I say coldly, and Rinnosuke actually knashes his teeth together in anger. "Stop this at once. I want to make this clear, Mister Morichika. You do not impress me
." There! Next to a few spare darts, a pair of bottles, one empty, one full. The full bottle is much smaller, and is clearly labelled as an antidote. I sigh deeply and look up at Rinnosuke, then glance over at Parsee, holding her gaze just until her eyes widen ever so slightly. "Do you have to deal with this sort of thing in the underground?" I ask her.
"All the time," she sighs. "There's always a bunch of dumb brutes who like to show off how tough they are, and it's always a pain in the-"
Rinnosuke lunges at me, and kicks me in the stomach, knocking the wind out of me and launching me across the room. Should have seen that one coming. Fuck
, but this guy's strong!
"Alfred!" Parsee cries out, but it's clearly all for show. At least to me. With Rinnosuke distracted, she slowly and painfully begins to push her way across the ground, trying to get to the desk. I have to keep his attention.
Which I clearly have, given by how the man suddenly looms over me and picks me up by the vest, holding me high in the air above him. Fighting down panic, I lock eyes with him as I finally regain my breath. His face is a mask of barely controlled rage. "You know, that is enough. I have you right where I want you, and you still refuse to take me seriously? That is very... annoying, Mister Westcastle."
I stare back down at him with a dispassionate look. "You're doing it again," I tell him.
"Doing what?!" he demands.
"Proving yourself to be a complete and utter fool," I reply.
With a snarl of utter outrage, Rinnosuke hurls me across the room, causing me to slam against the wall. I barely manage to maintain my footing. "Explain to me how I look the fool when I have complete and utter control of the situation!" he shouts, stalking towards me. It's a real question. He honestly doesn't know how I can remain so cold and blase when I'm supposed to be cringing before his might. Time to give him what he wants. An answer.
"Correction: you HAD control," I say icily. He actually pauses mid-stride, staring at me blankly. I begin to creep along the wall, stroking one of my weapons meaningfully but not going for it. Have to keep his attention."You very much had control at the start of the night, It's true. You started to lose control very quickly, however. Starting with when you decided to play your game. Did you not just admit that capturing Iku gave you problems? And she was only your second capture. With things going wrong so early, how can you claim to have had control?"
Rinnosuke actually pauses and looks uncertain, his confidence faltering in the face of his mistakes. "...It doesn't matter, " he says at last, "I still grabbed her in the end. And I certainly gave you a run for your money afterwards, now didn't I?"
"That's the point," I tell him coldly, "You gave us a 'run for our money.' If you were in control, why was there a competition to begin with? Why were we able to resist at all, when you supposedly had everything just as you wanted it? Why did you have to use guests as projectile weapons," Lyrica snorts at this, "when we were supposedly helpless before you?"
"...It doesn't matter!" Rinnosuke shouts after a moment's hesitation, "In the end, everyone is still here, and you can only babble on, hoping I'll spare your life for another moment." Which is true, thanks to his desperate desire to have everyone see him as a genius. Thank you ever so kindly, egotism.
Parsee has managed to slide over to the desk, and is carefully reaching for the bottles. Got to keep him talking. I reach the axe which was knocked out of my hand earlier... and very deliberately step over it, instead taking a step towards the man who has circled me this whole time. Rinnosuke's eyes flash to the axe, then back to my face as he frowns in confusion.
"Fine," I say, "Leaving behind your awful execution of a brilliant setup- which you needed help for, by the way- let's get to the heart of the matter: now what?"
He rolls his eyes. "Are you dense, Mister Westcastle? I am going to kill you, and I will-"
"No," I interrupt yet again. His eyes flash, and he nearly leaps at me again. Got to talk fast. "Obviously, your plan is to kill me and then set yourself up as a king or whatever. But say you kill me. Then what?"
He blinks, now honestly confused. "I don't follow."
Parsee is fiddling with one of the bottles now. I have his attention. I sigh heavily, not taking my eyes off of him. "Allow me to be clear," I tell him evenly. "It's quite obvious at this point that I was the fly in your ointment, so to speak. Without my presence, things may very well have gone precisely as you hoped. Yet all it took was one man who wouldn't be frightened by the loss of powers he never had in the first place to turn your lovely, well-thought-out plan into a near-debacle. Fine. Let's leave aside the question as to why you were so damned arrogant as to make such a misstep and move on to another, more pertinent question." I lean forward and fix Rinnosuke with my gaze. "What do you do when the others get here?"
Rinnosuke is utterly baffled now. "What?!"
I continue to speak. "I alone was almost your ruin," I continue. "What happens when Eric and Sylvia get here? Because knowing them, they were awake as soon as the storm started, shouting into the phones to get dump trucks full of dirt up here to restore the road so that they can attend to their guests. Did you honestly believe the staff would just give up and call the whole thing a wash? They'll be here within the hour, I'll bet. And then they'll see the mess. Within ninety minutes, every police officer in the state will be here
. What do you do then
Rinnosuke stops cold finally looking worried. "Well..."
I don't give him time to think. Got to keep up the pressure. "Do you run back home?" I press him. "Do you leave everyone here? Of course not, you have to take them with you. Where do you hide them? Where do you go? And furthermore, many of these women have powerful friends, and resources who will miss them. What do you do when they come looking? How long until they find you? What then?"
Yukari takes this moment to speak up, watching our showdown with fascination. "Ran, my servant, will already know that something is wrong through my bond with her," she says calmly. "And Eiki's colleagues will definitely come searching for her. Do you honestly seek to defy the entirety of the celestial courts? Do you think you can?"
Rinnsosuke remains silent, face bearing a troubled expression. He licks his lips and his eyes move rapidly in their sockets. From time to time, he glances over at his arch, then at the rest of the guests, then back at the ground. He's trying to think. I can't let him.
"You don't know, do you?" I ask in a cold voice. "You never really thought this through beyond kidnapping powerful women. And now here you are, with a prize you cannot keep, facing consequences that you cannot escape from. You declared yourself a victor in your note, Mister Morichika. Allow me to congratulate you." I give him a slow, mocking round of applause. "Enjoy your 'victory.' Enjoy it until the servants and colleagues of those you harmed come to exact retribution on your hide. I suggest running, you might last twenty-four hours then. Maybe."
The sudden twist of hate in Rinnosuke's face makes it quite clear that my last mocking comment was a bit too much. In a flash he is upon me, hand like a crushing vice around my neck, lifting me into the air. "There is one thing I can do for myself," he hisses at me, "I can silence your aggravating tongue once and for all."
I glare down at him, an icy calm coming over me. With quick movements, I pull out a glass dagger in each hand and stab downward. His left arm catches one of my wrists. His right arm is otherwise preoccupied, and my dagger stabs hard into his arm. Rinnosuke shouts out in pain, but does not release me. I twist the dagger in his flesh, but his grip only grows tighter. He glares up at me, eyes tearing up with pain.
Yet his gaze is only filled with death.
And it is at that moment that Parsee brings her axe down on his shoulder. "LET GO OF MY MAN, FUCKER!!!" she screams. Screaming in agony, Rinnosuke drops me, scrambling frantically for the axe blade stuck is his shoulder. With her free hand, Parsee jabs a glass dagger of her own into his back, causing him to fall to his knees.
I take my chance. In one rapid movement, I pull out the hunting knife, slam it into his stomach, twist, and pull
. The wound it makes is horrific. Rinnosuke's eyes go wide as his face goes pale, and he clutches at the wound desperately. Choking, unable to speak through the pain, Rinnosuke keels over to the side, curling up into a ball in a slowly spreading pool of his own blood.
I breathe heavily, adrenaline making my heart beat a mile a minute. I look up at Parsee, who scowls down at Rinnosuke spitefully. The bridge youkai then looks down at me, concern etched into her features. "You okay, Alf?" She holds a hand out to me.
I take the hand and let her pull me to my feet. "You certainly... took your... sweet time," I get out, panting heavily.
"Hey, I had to get at that antidote. Give me a break!" She protests. I just laugh, allowing all of the fear and panic to flow out of my system. Parsee just smiles and places a protective hand on my shoulder. After a moment, I manage to get my breath back in full.
Rinnosuke is still crumpled on the ground, broken and immobile, and the rest of the guests are cheering their approval. It looks like we've won. This horrible night is finally over.
[ ] Well, what do you do first?