- (242.36KB, 850x1201, ruffling time.jpg)
[x] See Flandre. You hope she’s doing okay.
Thoughts of that faded brown door come to mind, with the lock dangling helplessly over the handle. The stairs, the dim lights, the red eyes, the scarlet Scarlet. Flandre Scarlet. Hmm, you wonder how she is doing. You can’t say that you fancy the thought of leaving her all alone in that dark, spacious floor. You should remedy that! But before you take off to the lower floors, you feel like you’re forgetting something. Ah! The grimoire! You won’t forget this time – Miss Patchouli will definitely get mad if you leave it in the room again. So you take the time to go and secure your grimoire. All set!
Off to the lower floors you go. You’re in no particular hurry. It’s a bright and beautiful morning and these kinds of things need to be appreciated. Taking a leisurely stroll through the hallway, you absentmindedly look through the large windows. The lake is rather calm today. Only do the fairies who veer too close to the waters disturb the lake’s serenity. A flurry of light blue reflects off the surface of the great lake, but the window disappears and the hallway ends. The stairs cascade down and down and down. As you tread down the steps, you imagine the light-blue lights twinkling off the lake. Most likely Cirno. You immediately dismiss it as the usual fairy affairs.
Finding the large brown door is easy enough. Opening it is another matter. The door desired not to be opened today, looming over your person with an unsteady air.
Flourish. Ah! You turn around to see Miss Sakuya, raising an eyebrow at you. “Oh?” Blink. She vanishes and re-enters almost immediately, squeezing your face with her hands. “So it’s just Leo. How are you?” She lets go of your face.
“I’m good, Miss Sakuya. My face hurts.” Facing the door again, you stare at its handle, polished crudely yet crafted finely. The lock even more so, even though the old thing’s so rusted that you doubt it’s much use anymore. A stupid ol’ un-lock. “Why place a broken lock on a door that has no reason to be locked?”
“Because it used to be a door with plenty reason to be locked with a lock that was anything but broken.” Miss Sakuya taps the lock playfully, making it swing by its shackle. “So, my good Leo, what brings you here to the broken lock and its unbroken door? Exploring the vast world we call the Scarlet Devil Mansion?”
“The person who resides behind the door!”
“Then I wasn’t mistaken.” Miss Sakuya bows to you, giving you a knowing smile. “Still, it’s a surprise that you are already acquainted with the young mistress. She is a shy one.”
“Can she not exit the basement?”
“She most definitely can. Out of her own volition.”
“Then why does she stay?”
“Because she wishes for it.” Miss Sakuya clicks open her pocket watch, jumping back with a little spring in her step. She bows, but this time it’s one of an actor’s bow. Like the kind you’ve read about in your books. She winks at you before she turns. “But it’s never as simple as that, is it?”
Unflourish. She’s gone without a sound. So many questions, but not enough answers. The door still stands before you. It doesn’t seem as ominous as before. Pushing it open, you return to the stairs that lead downward into the darkness. The dim lights provide some vision, but not much. You open the second door at the end of the steps. Immediately, a wave of cool air brushes against your face. Your mana suddenly reacts, sending out magical energy in preparation. But for what?
For nothing, apparently. The entire floor is idle. But your magic refuses to calm itself, making it really hard for you to concentrate. Luckily, walking is no big deal! In minutes, you can barely even feel the crushing amounts of mana flowing out and about around you. Thank you, sensory adaptation! But before you can praise the wonders of psychological theory, you bump into something. Your mana streams out with renewed vigor. It’s an enemy! It’s something vicious! It’s a dangerous, horrible...!
Couch. Why is a couch here, in the middle of nowhere? Well, whatever! It’s here now. You take a big dive into the fluffy cushions.
“Hya!?” Hypothesis. Someone is on the couch. That’d most likely be you. Someone was on the couch. That’d be the owner of the mysterious voice. Someone recklessly threw himself onto the couch, causing quite a scare to the person that was there before. That’d probably be you again. Two wary red eyes peek out from behind the armrest.
“Oh, Flandre.” The large red eyes gave it away. You wonder how good – or bad – she is at hide and seek. Probably bad. “How are you?”
She nods indistinguishably before muttering, “...Good.” Flandre pauses for a second before eliciting another response. “Welcome back.” Her bright eyes duck under the armrest again, but you can see her little wings flapping, the colorful crystals flying about helplessly.
“Thanks~” Your mana starts to dissipate. Or perhaps re-uptake? Anyway. Whatever the process, it lets you stretch around more. Seems like your mana physically impedes your movement. “I’ve been good too. Mostly. I accidentally struck Miss Patchouli and Marisa with a tower of inferno, but they ended up okay. I was scolded for it.”
Flandre inches out from behind the armrest. “Marisa?” She props herself up with the couch’s cushions. Seems like your story caught her attention.
“Yeah. She even helped me out a bit with my magic.”
Flandre murmurs an acknowledgement in the form of a quick nod but she focuses her eyes on you. Expectantly. Her gleaming, no, shining eyes. They’re rich in color of maroon and curiosity. They’re waiting.
“Hmm?” You try to figure out what she’s doing, but you have no idea. She takes off her hat and leans forward a bit. All the while, her eyes are completely glued on you. You ask her again, more directly this time. “What is it?” She answers, but only in the form of leaning dangerously close to your side of the couch. She’s leaning down so much that she could be bowing. The non-theatrical kind.
Flandre’s left her head so defenseless. She’s just asking for a ruffling, isn’t she? Quickly, you reach over and give her hair a good tousle! She giggles and squirms around, sending her side ponytail to and fro, but she won’t escape your grasp! Your hands assault her hair, a ruffle here and there. Flandre smiles, a small but sincere one, which redoubles your efforts to muss up her hair! But you overreach and fall off the piece of furniture. Now that you’re on the floor, you wonder again, why is there a lone couch in the middle of the room? You wonder if she uses it as her bed. That’d be... not too bad. The couch is definitely plush, a grand thing. It’s comfortable enough to act as a bed. Flandre pokes her head out worriedly from the top of the couch, kneeling on top of the cushions. Her hair is still disheveled.
“Are... are you okay?” Flandre asks hesitantly.
“I’m fine. It’s just that the couch caught me off guard.” Always the worrywart, that Flandre. You think that, but you’ve only known her for a day. Only a day, huh? You’ve got an idea. “Hey, Flan.”
“...Flan?” She questions. Flandre blankly stares, those red eyes shimmering slightly.
“Flan.” You reaffirm. “How about we play a game to get to know each other? It’s only natural.”
“What game is it?”
“Isn’t it obvious? Danmaku!”
Flandre sinks deeper into the couch. “Danmaku...”
“Danmaku.” You reiterate. Leaping back on your feet, you run to the side for a bit to gain some momentum.
“Ah. Where are you going?” Flandre seems concerned.
But you have to keep running, so you can fly! “Just a moment!” Once your feet leave the ground, you flip yourself back around and face Flandre, who is still sinking into the couch. “I challenge you to a danmaku duel!”
“Non-negotiable!” Already preparing a spellcard, you take the offensive!
Water Sign「Celestial Torrent」
Once you declare the spellcard, Flandre floats up to face you. So the battle begins.
The world fades out of view, the darkness enveloping you. Blue. Blue erupts from below. The gentle seas splash, splash, splash, roar. The once calm seas rise twice, thrice churns. A tempest in waiting. Downpour. But the rain is none too kind. Patter patter patter. The drizzle, the rain, the storm. Waves of sea rise, waves of rain fall. The sea crashes against the invisible walls, slowly flooding the little world. The rain, swayed only by the wind, lands on more rain, and more rain falls on the sea.
Blue orbs of danmaku slowly rise from behind, under, below Flandre. The orbs sway left to right harmlessly. The calm before the storm. Then, white. White lasers start randomly flying towards no particular direction. She slides through, dodging every single shot with apparent ease. But the danmaku floods the area, slowly but steadily. Truly a celestial torrent. The blue orbs rise, closing in on Flandre. The space between the sea of orbs and the younger vampire lessens, dramatically impairing her movement.
Stuck between the clashing seas and the falling downpour. Falling danmaku. The lasers only increase in volume, leaving Flandre to be more precise than agile. But Flandre is able to break through before she can drown in the sea of danmaku.
Ah! Your spellcard ended! The world fades in again, as with your incessantly flowing mana. Flandre’s quick! And strong! Despite her shy personality, she can really danmaku. Now’s her turn to declare a spellcard.
“Are you ready, Leonotis?” Flandre shakes her head vigorously. She corrects herself. “Leo?”
Then, she swings a gigantic sword. Arcing the sword around her body, she slashes it in a circular fashion, releasing bullets of red from the blade. You follow the circle, avoiding the stray bullets that are in the air. It’s amazing how she can even swing that huge thing. This time, Flandre holds out the sword straight forward and rushes towards your direction. The blade moves strictly horizontally, leaving a trail of danmaku in its wake. The red bullets form a wide trail, so you easily slip through the opening. As you near her, Flandre swings the sword in your direction once... twice. She’s able to swing the sword twice! Incredible! The resulting red bullets that fly around aimlessly are harder to dodge, forcing you to sway to the side and re-enter the fray. Despite the menacing sword, you’re able to end her spellcard. It’s only a huge, deadly weapon! Not too crazy. But before you can declare another spellcard, your mana just... floods. And not in the celestial torrent sense. Whoops. You fall straight down, the mana impeding your movement and all.
You upright yourself, but it’s too late to try and slow your fall. You brace for impact, but the cold, cruel ground never comes. Your mana is so dense it’s literally blocking you from hitting the floor. Hurray! You could almost hear the gravitational theorists complaining.
“Leo?” Flandre’s voice echoes in your ear. It’s so calming to hear her soft voice. But you’re so cloudy right now. You’ll have to talk to her later.
“Dear Flan, one moment. I have to pass out really quick, okay?”
“Eh!?” You hope you didn’t shock her too much but it’s too late now.
You wake up in a simple bed, covered with plain gray sheets and two white and fluffy pillows. The first thing that comes to mind is that you’re glad that Flan doesn’t have to sleep on the couch. Couches are couches, but beds are beds.
“Leonotis.” Flandre becomes silent again. “...Leo.” She corrects herself. “Are you okay?” Two teary red eyes enter your vision.
“I’m okay!” To prove your point, you sit up straight on the bed and stiffly wave. Flan’s such a worrywart. You only passed out, no big deal! You make eye contact with her, but she ducks under the side of the bed and hides herself. She seems to do that a lot.
Your magic’s starting to cool off, finally allowing you some breathing room. You stretch your arms, swinging them around a couple of times. Good, they’re still attached! Jumping off the bed, you land right next to Flandre. Her face is a clear mix of surprise and concern.
“I’m not going to die, if that’s what you’re wondering. I feel fine now. Really!” You hope she doesn’t think it’s her fault. Your mana seems to have a mind of its own. It did save you. Then again, it caused the problem in the first place. It’s rather hard to explain. And she’s being all teary-eyed again! Maybe she knows you’re weak to this kind of thing. So you answer in the only way you know how.
“Here.” You gesture to your hand, extending it towards her. After some deliberation, Flandre finally grabs your hand. You drag her along, mindlessly wandering around the bottom floor. She doesn’t resist. Flandre is so frail, so weak, yet so very strong. You wonder about that. So many questions you want to ask. But you don’t – not yet. Maybe when Flandre feels more comfortable answering those questions. Or maybe when you feel more comfortable asking. Either way.
Flandre, being dragged along all this time, remains silent. Silent but happy – she has one of those special wordless smiles. You’ll bother her another time with your questions.
There are no clocks on this floor whatsoever. You wonder what time it is. You’d say that you have a good sense of time, but the dim lights and magical disturbances are really messing with you. You even had a lapse in consciousness. It could be mid-afternoon for all you know. The only measure of time that you follow right now is the little skip in Flandre’s step, her shoes going tap, tap, tap in a steady rhythm. It’s soothing to listen to. The spacious area echoes, every tap of her shoes re-tapping far away.
Somehow, you and Flandre end up right at the entrance of the bottom floor. She gently pulls at your hand, loosening her grasp on it. You oblige her freedom and let go of her hand. So you go for her hair instead! She even forgot her hat – it’s ruffling time. A slight pang of remorse enters your mind. You’ve messed her hair up enough. Maybe it’s time to stop?
No. No, it isn’t. But you reach a compromise with yourself and decide to pat her hair. Gently. Nicely. Her blond hair is rather curly, even more so after you decided to mangle it earlier. It’s rather soft to the touch and makes patting Flandre’s head pleasant. Ah, what bliss!
Instead of running away this time, Flandre smiles. A small one. One that you have to look really hard to even realize that it’s a smile. But it’s progress nonetheless! She does a little twirl and a curtsey to bid you farewell. “See you later?” She says it with such hesitation that it becomes a question.
“See you later,” you reply back as an answer. In that moment, Flandre’s small, curious smile widens and her red eyes shine with a warm light. It’s a happy sight and it makes you happy. You give her one last wave before you turn around to open the door.
The door... hmm. You didn’t notice it before, but there are locks on the door. Many locks, bolts, latches, levers, restraints, hindrances, obstacles that all decorate the door. And they’re all well maintained too. None of them are locked, so it’s no problem. You open the door and enter, closing it softly behind you. On a whim, you decide to check the other side of the door. No locks there. Anyway, the familiar stairway greets you again. Each step you take makes the mansion brighter and brighter until the faded brown door blocks your way. You open it and return to the mansion back up above.
Now then. What to do?
[ ] There still might be time to visit Miss Meiling!
[ ] Go to the library. Some quiet time would be nice.
[ ] You remember something happening around the Lake...