There were a few good meters between us and the intruder. A sprint could close the distance in an eye blink but it couldn’t guarantee that the intruder wouldn’t react in the meantime. I could feel Kagerou getting worked up, her senses sharpening and focusing solely on the person in front of her. My own perspective on the world changed; outside of the very vivid image of the intruder holding something almost as long as their height, the courtyard lost some of its color.
“Don’t hold back,” I told her, feeling that she might not have listened to me if I had said anything else, “mix it up, take risks if necessary.”
She said nothing, evidently trying to work out a quick plan of action. Though I didn’t really have a body I could feel as such, I could still feel something akin to a rush of adrenaline. I could feel the knife in her hand like I was holding it in my own. Its weight, how hard she was holding it, how she kept her nails from getting in the way of her nimble fingers—I internalized it all. The moment stretched itself out in time and it felt like an eternity before Kagerou made her move.
The moon watched silently as she rushed towards the intruder. The youkai’s intensity was difficult to describe. The amount of energy that she put into every quick step was outright inhuman. I was never an athlete of any kind but I could appreciate just how abnormal it was to be able to accelerate so quickly. Her thoughts seemed singular, focused and utterly alien. And yet, there was an eerie calm that permeated her actions; it was something that confused me to no end. Thankfully, my understanding didn’t really matter.
As Kagerou launched into action, the intruder had some time to react. They dropped whatever it was they held on their hand and took a step back. Their hands moved quickly in a well-practiced fashion. Kagerou focused intently on tracking both their eyes and hands, always aware of what they were looking at and what they were doing. There was something yellow, something gold, something… brown. All three. A flash. Another. Didn’t matter. Danger was coming. We all understood that instinctively.
The werewolf didn’t bother to dodge. On her last bound, when the intruder was barely two or three body lengths away, she did something unexpected. She threw the knife at the intruder. It was a clumsy throw—done with strength more than finesse—and the dagger twisted through the air erratically, arcing away from the intruder. At the distance between us, it would be close but not close enough.
The intruder dodged the knife easily enough by pivoting to the side. Light began to shoot out from their hands, intense as it was colorful. Red, indigo, gold, green. There wasn’t enough time to processes what was what, when. Or how. The intruder was quick on their feet, pivoting back into a ready stance. They stood ready to dodge any more incoming knives.
That, of course, wasn’t something Kagerou could do even if she wanted to. She took a blow from the bullet-like projections without flinching; I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. How did she not feel the same thing? Or react in the same way? I tried to gasp, not understanding what was going on and finding that things were happening to fast for me to process rationally. In what could have only been fractions of a second, Kagerou had closed the gap. More than that, she had made contact with the intruder.
For a moment, all was still.
The intruder, a young girl who wore an expression of utter confusion, lay on her back, stunned. She had expected another knife, a flashy attack or whatever else that was quick and small. She had not considered in the possibility of being tackled by a werewolf. The knife throw from earlier had thrown her off and given Kagerou a chance to be decisive. The brawl was over almost as soon as it started.
“Hey, let go of me!” she complained, short of breath. With her arms pinned, it didn’t seem like she could hurl any more bullets at us.
“Intruder subdued,” Kagerou said with a grin that could only be described as smugness incarnate. In the brief frenzy of action she had worked herself up to the extent that the tiniest beads of began to appear on her brow. Her breathing was heavy, not so much from the exertion but from the electrifying current that still possessed her body.
“You cheated! I demand a do-over,” the intruder squirmed, thrashing about and offering sharp kicks of resistance in retaliation. Kagerou quickly put an end to that, pinning down her lower body with her knees. She smacked her lips, looking at the short intruder as if gazing at a rabbit caught in a trap. “Hey, don’t you dare think of doing anything weird to me! I won’t hold back if you do!” the intruder protested.
“Eating up humans isn’t part of your job description,” I said, thinking of a certain classic fairytale.
“I know it isn’t. I’m just having a little fun,” Kagerou laughed, “you wouldn’t know it but she’s been annoying to me in the past.”
“What? I’ve never acted annoyingly towards anyone in my life!” the girl yelled unconvincingly. “Don’t make me beat you up again, you crazy wolf.”
“As much as I’d love a little more payback, I think we can just talk this out like civilized people,” Kagerou replied, “that is if you promise to behave.”
“I’m always well-behaved!” the girl protested.
“Promise not to run away or to try and fight me and I’ll let go,” Kagerou said softly. She loosened up her grip on the girl’s thin arms as a gesture of good will.
“As if I could trust a cheater!”
“Then do it because you’re so well-behaved,” Kagerou mocked her, clearly not over her almost-frenzied rush.
“…ya drive a hard bargain,” the girl sighed, “fine. I promise. For now.”
“Good,” Kagerou let go of her and got up. She dusted herself off right away, noticing that she had scuffed up parts of her outfit.
“It’ll come out in the wash,” I told her.
The other girl, for her part, did much the same. She stood up and reached for a long, point and wide-brimmed hat that had been knocked off when she had been tacked. It was black with a white bow that matched the rest of her outfit: alternating black and white between skirt, blouse, vest and frilly apron. For all intents and purposes, she was dressed like a cosplayer’s conception of a young witch. The long object she had held earlier turned out to be a broom, adding to the look.
Before putting her hat back on, she quickly combed her hair with her fingers. Not that it did her much good. Her blonde hair looked like it had a hard time keeping itself in place. Save for a single braid that was held at the end with a small ribbon, every shoulder-length strand was at least a little bit messy.
“I thought you were going to shoot at me, they usually shoot at me here,” the girl mumbled, dusting off her hat and patting down her rear free of dust.
“I’m surprised the fairies even try that anymore,” Kagerou said, as if questioning how efficient they’d be at dealing with an intruder.
“Only when the other maid tells them to. Easy-peasy to dodge, same as her knives. Heck, I guess things can’t always be quite so easy, right?”
“I guess not.”
“Say,” the girl said, any hostile intent she may have had fading into an easy-going smile, “where’s Sakuya anyhow?”
“Um...” Kagerou paused, realizing that she didn’t quite know herself, “Al?”
“Al?” the girl echoed, not understanding that I was there.
“Oh, I thought you knew,” I told Kagerou, “she’s away on maternity leave.”
“Really?” Kagerou seemed to think back, if I had to guess to their last meeting. She wrinkled her nose and seemed to have a followup question. Maybe out of respect for Sakuya’s privacy, she didn’t ask.
“Really what?” the girl looked at her with concern, “did ya hit your head or something?”
“Ah, no, it’s nothing,” Kagerou talked to the girl direction, “Sakuya is away on maternity leave. I’m taking over for her while she’s gone.”
“Ah, no kiddin’?” the girl crossed her arms, “that’s big news, can’t believe she didn’t tell me. I should come by more often so I’m not outta the loop.”
“So, why are you here?” Kagerou cut to what was actually important.
“I was invited,” the girl smiled like it would be an immediately credible explanation.
“Guests don’t normally fly onto the roof and try to sneak in,” Kagerou said, understandably skeptical. The fairy staff may not have been an elite bunch of servants but even they would have likely been trained to announce guests properly. Then again, if she had shown up out of the blue then maybe the gate guard would have stopped her instead. It’s odd that Kagerou had to do it.
“And normally I’m not tackled by a wolf girl maid,” the girl laughed, “life is full of surprises, isn’t it?”
Kagerou growled, “how rude. Last time you were like this as well, didn’t even bother to learn my name.”
“I meet a lot of youkai all the time,” the girl shrugged, “but I guess you’re right. I know some people who would chew me out for not introducing myself properly and crap. I'm Marisa, hiya,” she said with a wink.
“...I wasn’t asking you to introduce yourself,” Kagerou sighed, “all the same, I’m Kagerou.”
“’The Wild Wolf of the Scarlet Mansion’!” Marisa laughed at the wholly made-up title, “ally to vampires and cunning enemy of the beautiful ordinary magician!”
“Please, don’t go around calling people such weird things,” Kagerou shook her head, “or calling yourself beautiful.”
“Aw, lighten up!” Marisa beamed, “you’ve changed since the last time I saw you. I feel a weird power inside of you now. It’s kinda interesting, my heart was racing during our fight.”
“Um, thank you?” Kagerou seemed to be strangely embarrassed by Marisa’s comment. She coughed into her hand and changed the subject, “so were you really invited here. The intruder alarm was set off.”
“You guys have one of those?” her eyes widened, weirdly impressed by that fact. I could almost see the racing, wildly imaginative thoughts that were occurring to her. No doubt something ludicrous like a contraption involving fairies, a brass bell and some duct tape.
“Kinda, but you still haven’t answered my question.”
“Yeah, I really was. I’m supposed to go to meet Patche for tea. We had a weird conversation the other day at my place, so maybe she wants to talk more.”
“You haven’t met her yet,” I explained quickly, “probably can be found in the library. Patchouli is Remilia’s longtime friend.”
“Well then, you won’t mind me keeping you company while we look for her then, right?” Kagerou proposed.
“Guess not,” Marisa shrugged, “sometimes those fairies think they can try to play pranks on me, they probably won’t try it if you’re with me.”
“So it’s settled.”
As Kagerou said that, the clock’s hour hand reached the number eleven. A few chimes rang out but not as loudly as the size of the clock had made me expect. The sounds was carried far, more due to the stillness of the night, but it was still quiet enough to not hear if you were in one of the windowless rooms deep within the mansion.
“Hey, by the way,” Marisa said, picking up her broom, “that’s a pretty cute uniform you have. It suits you.”
“...thanks,” it didn’t seem like Kagerou knew how to take a compliment properly since she quickly turned away to lead her towards the stairs.
It was strange. At some point during the encounter I became aware that I could see more than I normally could. It wasn’t until Marisa lagged behind a little that I realized that I could… kind of see what she was seeing. It wasn’t quite like with Kagerou that I could feel her senses directly; the input was too muddled and took some filtering to get used to. All the same, it felt like the range? Perhaps details? Something about my perception was enhanced. It was difficult to judge independently as I had no eyes of my own to compare as a baseline. Memories of senses were frustratingly difficult to compare with the present.
 Ask Kagerou to keep on chatting with Marisa and try to find out more why Patchouli supposedly wants to see her.
 Try to shut out Kagerou and focus wholly on Marisa and her senses to see what happens.
Time remaining: ::
Timer ended at: 2018/11/09(Fri)13:00