I wonder how the hell we're going to convince Sakuya not to skewer us and let us stay.
I think she'll throw us out with the garbage and Meiling discovers us in a garbage can in front of the SDM and nurtures us back to health.
A long day of slacking off and playing Perfect Cherry Blossom has left you feeling somewhat unsatisfied. Only your lumpy mattress, squeaky bedsprings and unwashed sheets greet you when sleep starts to beckon. You sigh and rub your eyes.
There is a knock at your bedroom door.
"Yeah?" You ask.
"S'me." Your boring flatmate calls through the door. You open it and he hands you a small box.
"The game I told you about." He says in response your dumbfounded expression.
"Oh, right." You say, not actually remembering the conversation you must have had with him. You spend a lot of time mentally tuning his words out.
"Thanks." You say, shutting the door.
You glance down at the title, partly obscured by the cover art of a grinning skull.
'Castlevania: Waiting for a Bloody Mess.'
Tossing the box onto your desk, you forget about it and climb into bed.
In your dreams that night, you feel a pull, like a hand gently guiding you through a gap in a wall. A gap so small and angled so that it can only be seen from a direction unreachable by human means. You glance back over your shoulder, hoping to catch a glimpse of the wall or the guiding hand, but there is only a lock of blond hair, vanishing into nothing. A wall of trees is on the horizon, cleared grassland all around you. You turn your head, taking in your surroundings. A vampire hunter must always be aware of the conditions of his prey's abode. Wealth suggests the possibility of hired human guards. You ignore the lake off to the side and concentrate on the Mansion in front of you. A huge edifice, protected by a high wall. A worthy challenge.
Once inside, you creep along the wide, candle-lit corridors, hand on your whip, tensed and ready to react to danger.
Suddenly, as you round a corner, there is something wrong with your sight. Like you blinked, but you didn't. A missing frame. You wave a hand in front of your face, confused.
A loud cough comes from behind you.
"Excuse me?" The voice is high, feminine. Pleasant on the ears if it wasn't so full of tension and barely concealed anger.
[ ] A vampire! Use your whip, attack without warning.
[ ] Turn and confront your foe with words.
[ ] A fair lady, trapped in a vampire's lair! She is in need of assistance, obviously.
[ ] Perhaps it is a thrall, question it about its master while you have the opportunity.
You turn, relaxing slightly when you see the woman standing behind you. She doesn't look threatening at all, certainly not a member of a Vampire's household guard or an enthralled warrior. She's dressed in a Maid's uniform, skirt short enough to show off her slim, toned legs. You let your gaze linger on them for a second, then trail up, over her folded arms and her modest bosom, to her unimpressed expression.
"What are you doing?" She asks. "How did you get in here?"
You can't answer for a moment, merely studying her face. She's rather a welcome sight, certainly good looking, but you can't allow yourself to get distracted right now. You have a job to do.
"My lady." You say, bowing your head to her. "Are you in need of help? The dark lair of ... of ..." You words trail off for a moment and you blink, something not feeling quite right.
The woman raises an eyebrow, looking at you like an escaped mental patient.
"The dark lair of unholy creatures is no place for so fair a woman." You say, your confidence returning once more.
Much to your surprise, she sighs and unfolds her arms, pressing a hand to her face in a gesture of exasperation.
"What is it?" You ask.
Another frame vanishes from your sight and the woman is suddenly holding a long silver knife of fine workmanship. The blade glints in the candle light as she turns it over in her hand.
"I'm very busy at the moment." She says, expression turning angry again. "You can either get out, or I can throw you out."
You just stare at her, open mouthed. There is a throb of pain in your head, but you do your best to ignore it.
"But ... do you not wish to come with me?" You ask. "Surely you have been waiting for rescue?"
Now it is her turn to stare at you, stunned.
"Well I never ..." She mumbles, rolling her eyes.
[ ] The woman is in shock! Best take her to a safe place as quickly as possible.
[ ] She must be in league with the Vampire! Attack!
Taking your hand away from your whip, you step towards the woman.
"My lady, you have to get out of here." You say, frowning with the gravity of the situation.
"What?" She seems more bemused than angry, the corners of her mouth almost twitching upwards as she speaks. She points the knife at your chest. "No, I think you have to get out of here." She says.
"No." You shake your head, slowly moving your hand up to take her knife away. "You."
You shake your head and blink, repeating the words you just said, under your breath. "No, you."
Something doesn't feel right, the throbbing in your head intensifies. Seeing your intention, the woman jerks her knife back out of your reach, scowling.
"Nice try." She says. "Playing the idiot."
"Wha-" You start, but there is a missing frame, swallowing up your words as the woman vanishes, to be replaced by a single knife, whizzing towards your face.
Instinct takes over and you twist to the side, letting the knife thud into the wall behind you. You stumble as you turn, not balanced properly. You blink the pain away from your head again. Damnable headache! During a fight is no place for a migraine.
You can see the woman, standing further away from you now, near the end of the corridor, expression bored. She hurls another silver knife at you and then vanishes, the missing frame producing another three knifes, slicing through the air, all from the same direction.
[ ] Drop to the floor.
[ ] Dodge to the side.
[ ] Deflect the knives with your whip.
[ ] Try to spot the woman.
[ ] Ignore the woman, focus on the knives.
You don't allow yourself to think. Conscious process is never as fast as muscle memory. You grab the handle of your whip, unhooking it from your belt. No time for theatrics, no time to look flashy. You thrust it forwards, using the motion to both unfurl the whip and catch the knives in flight. You hit three of them, sending them off-course, tumbling harmlessly to the floor. As they fall, you unfocus your awareness, looking around for the woman.
As you turn your head, the final knife slides past and into the wall next to you with a soft thunk. A shiver goes up your spine, good thing you kept moving.
You spot the woman, standing at the other end of the corridor now, a look of shock on her face.
"My lady! What are you doing!" You call. "You are enslaved to the vampire, let me help you!"
An angry frown crosses her face and she flicks one arm upwards, a missing frame of your sight revealing her flicking her other arm downwards. Light glints off a shower of silver points as two waves of knives rush towards you.
You've seen this ...
As the knives arc through the air towards you, your head throbs with pain, making you grit your teeth and wince. Then it suddenly stops as recognition washes over you. The woman standing at the other end of the corridor, arms folded and looking at you with an expression of both boredom and satisfaction, is Sakuya Izayoi. Your mind reels as you realise where you are, where you must be. This doesn't feel like a dream at all.
But you have no time to think, to pinch yourself or scream. No time to ask how the hell you got here. The unfurled whip feels limp and useless in your hand as the two waves of knives meet and cross, heading for you.
[ ] Plead for mercy.
[ ] Dive between the two waves of knives.
[ ] Run away.
[ ] Hold shift for focused movement.
[ ] Faint.
You take a split second to watch the arcs of the knives. You've done this plenty of times before. Never in three dimensions though, and never in real life. Looks like the same skills serve you well though, you can see the paths the knives will take, where they will hit and when there will be the biggest gap between them.
You hop backwards, forgetting about the whip as you drop it on the floor. The movement gives you the extra second you need before the knives hit. You focus on the gaps between them, convince yourself it's wide enough to fit yourself through.
You jump and dive forwards, closing your eyes. You can't change direction in the air, so there's no point in doing anything but waiting.
Waiting until you hit the ground and roll, leaping to your feet and looking up at Sakuya. Behind you, the knives slice into the walls and slash up the carpet. Sakuya frowns, as much with confusion as with anger. She holds another knife, poised and ready to throw, but she pauses.
"What the hell are you?" She asks, eyeing your dropped whip.
"I'm just a normal human!" You say, putting your hands up in a gesture of surrender.
"Bullshit." Sakuya says, a slight smile creasing the corners of her eyes but leaving her lips untouched. "You just used a danmaku technique to dodge my knives."
"I ..." You pause and nod. "I suppose I did."
Sakuya's lips curl upwards, smile finally reaching her mouth. You wish it hadn't. She lowers the single knife.
"It's been a long while since I had a danmaku battle inside the Mansion." She says, a missing frame producing a knife held between each of her fingers.
"Wait, I don't-" You say.
"You want to go first or shall I?" She asks, ignoring your protest.
[ ] Insist you can't fight with danmaku.
[ ] It's non-lethal, right? Let her go first, maybe you can dodge fast enough on foot.
[ ] Tell her you'll go first, then run before she realises you don't actually have any spell cards.
You shut your mouth and consider for a moment. Sakuya just challenged you to a danmaku battle. You can step up and lose without looking like a coward in front of her. Sure it will hurt, but danmaku is non-lethal, right? Running away will just make you seem weak and useless. Fighting a duel without actually being able to fire danmaku? She'll either think you're stupid or very brave.
Wait, why do you care what she thinks? You still don't know why you're here, or how to get home. A glance at her legs as she shifts her weight answers your question. Even if she's hurling knives at you, maybe because she's hurling knives at you, Sakuya is intensely attractive. You imagine the feeling of one hand trailing up her exposed, milk-white thigh, before snapping yourself back to the present and looking at her none-too-pleased expression. You're thinking with your groin, not with your head.
You raise an eyebrow at her, lifting your head high.
Then again, if you're stuck here, perhaps it would be a good idea to impress her.
Nothing else for it. You sigh inwardly.
"Okay." You say. "You go first."
Sakuya's smile widens into a grin and she takes a step back, widening the gap between you.
"I knew it." She says, almost licking her lips with anticipation.
"Knew what?" You ask, mentally measuring the width of the corridor and how fast you can move along it.
"That you would give me a proper fight." She swings her arms wide, bringing the knives around over her head. "Whoever you are, you're good."
"I'm not." You mutter to yourself, eyes glued to the knives as she lets go of them, sending a wave of silver metal arcing through the air.
Sakuya raises her voice as the daggers spiral outwards, words somehow stilted, automated. "Strange Art ｢Misdirection」" She says.
"Oh, fuck." You say involuntarily as Sakuya raises more knives, seemingly out of nowhere, sending them spiralling after the others. They move out from her in two overlapping, twisting waves, vanishing where they touch the walls of the corridor.
You have to move.
[ ] Stay where you are, concentrate, let it time out.
[ ] Focus, try to reach Sakuya.
[ ] Let yourself get hit, end this now.
You breathe deep, filling your lungs and clearing your head. You can do this if you concentrate. You only have to last half a minute, when Sakuya stops and it's your turn, you just tell her you don't have any spell cards. Skin saved, Perfect Elegant Maid suitably impressed.
Side-stepping as the first wave of knives reaches you is easy.
Glancing down and noticing that the spread of knives extends to the floor shakes your nerves somewhat, no escape by hitting the deck. You don't let your attention waver for more than a moment, making sure you keep your eyes on the knives, not your feet, not Sakuya's legs as she moves back and forth opposite you, not your hands as they shake with the concentration of keeping away from the blades.
The overlapping waves aren't too hard to avoid, requiring only quick thinking rather than lots of forward planning.
You find that you can step back and then weave yourself forwards through the widening gap between the knives as they slip past you.
Even if it's easier than you expected, it's still a physical trial, you can't stop moving even for a moment. Counting with the rhythm of your own quick footsteps, you estimate you only have a few more seconds to go. You grin, this is amazing! Scant hours ago you were eating micro-waved soup and feeling tired in your shitty bedroom, now you're playing danmaku with Sakuya Izayoi. You must be in Gensokyo, got to find out how you got here in your sleep. Got to-
As you let your thoughts drift, you step back too far and hit a solid wall. You twist reflexively, there shouldn't be a wall here! Behind you is only the corridor, stretching away. Right in front of you is a hazy, blurred barrier.
"Oh shit." You say, twisting back as fast as you can.
You can see Sakuya grinning madly at you as the knife you were about to dodge slices neatly towards your chest, too close.
[ ] Drop.
[ ] Jump to the side.
[ ] Side-step.
[ ] Bomb.