Thread 1: >>123033
Thread 2: >>124226
Thread 3: >>124917
Thread 4: >>125518
Thread 5: >>126187
Thread 6: >>126955
Thread 7: >>127594
Thread 8: >>128755
Thread 9: >>129398
Thread 10 >>130134
Thread 11 >>131167
In which another
mind will be shattered. Holy Hell, Part 2/2
Pushing open the doors of the main dining room, you see Remilia and Flandre bent over a large checkered game board. Flandre’s brow is furrowed in concentration. Sakuya quietly ushers the rest of the crowd into the room, and you stride closer to the table to see what your hostesses are up to.
You notice one of the game pieces milling about idly, and do a double take. They’re all tiny fairies, dressed in extravagant outfits. Remilia’s “team” is white, and Flandre is playing black.
“Knight to e-four,” Remilia says coolly, and one of Remila’s fairies, dressed in a little suit of armor and carrying a stuffed horse head on a stick, makes a great show of “galloping” over to the indicated square. She taps Flandre’s fairy, dressed like a little footman, on the shoulder, and the vanquished ‘piece’ sulks off the board to sit with a few others on the sidelines.
Flandre leans forward, scowling at the board, before a truly frightening grin spreads across her face. “Queen to e-four!”
Flandre’s fairy, clad in a gown and wielding a scepter, imperiously strides over to the ‘Knight’ and shoves her out of the square, taking a moment to pose haughtily. Remilia’s knight stumbles and falls on her rear. Springing to her feet, the fairy winds up with her stick-horse and smacks the daylights out of the ‘queen,’ who is still preening when the blow sends her sprawling. Remilia’s knight pumps her fist in the air twice to celebrate her victory, before one of Flandre’s footmen connects with a flying tackle. The captured pieces on the sidelines begin cheering boisterously as the entire game board dissolves into a fairy-fighting furball.
“Oh well,” Remilia says, smiling a bit at the commotion. “I think you get the point, though.”
“Yes,” Flandre whispers eagerly. “Yes.”
Remilia slowly turns her gaze on you.
glad you could join us,” she says, her voice dripping with sarcasm. “Seems you had a busy night.”
“Yuff,” you confirm past a mouthful of bagel, and carelessly flop into a chair next to Flandre.
“I didn’t expect you to be a romantic...” Remilia muses, and you see Keine throw a glare at the back of Remilia’s head.
“... long walks in moonlit woods, and all that,” she finishes, raising her teacup placidly.
“Mmm, dryads. Redefines ‘getting wood’,” you say. Your timing is perfect, and Remilia sputters into her teacup. Sakuya glides up to proffer a tea towel. You notice Keine biting her lip to restrain a grin as she takes a seat next to you.
Remilia slaps her teacup down with a sharp clink!
, and dabs at her chin with sharp little jabs of the towel. You refill your own teacup, and with deliberate malice, bring it to your lips. Siiiiip.
Remilia frowns at you. As she opens her mouth to make a retort, a blonde head appears behind her.
“Remilia~” Suwako sing-songs.
Remilia’s jaw snaps shut with an audible click.
“Suwako,” the vampire fairly growls, her eyes still fixed on you.
“That’s me!” Suwako fairly bounces into the chair next to Remilia, daintily filling the teacup at the place setting laid out before her. “And how have you been, Lady Remilia?”
The “Lady” cuts her eyes sideways at the diminutive goddess, her irritation clear. “And just what brings you
down from the mountain?”
“Sanae’s a cruddy cook,” Suwako says matter-of-factly as she liberates a scone from the hovering tray. You whisper a quiet command in your own language, and the Unseen Servant
sets the tray upon the table gently. “All she’d ever do is stuff a hot pocket in the microwave before leaving for school.”
in a what?
” Cirno asks.
“A tasteless little pre-made sandwich you heat with a magic oven for a minute or so,” Suwako explains, smearing some jelly onto her scone. “Awful stuff, really, but Sanae has never been the patient type. As you
learned yesterday,” she concludes, nodding at you.
“You met Sanae?” Flandre interjects.
“She enthusiastically assaulted him,” Keine’s voice says from behind you. Her hand alights on your shoulder. “He trounced her quite effectively.”
“Hmph,” Flandre snorts.
“She mentioned that,” Suwako agrees between bites of her scone. “Did she try fishing for compliments afterwards?”
Your jaw freezes mid-chew. Suwako smirks knowingly.
“She’s good, isn’t she?”
“But, uh, I did make fun of her,” you point out hastily. “It’s not like she was baiting,
“Mmm-hmm,” Suwako hums through her mischievous smile. “Probably. But sometimes I do wonder about that girl.”
Keine’s grip has tightened a bit on your shoulder. “Sanae has no guile within her soul whatsoever,” she says firmly. “Unless you and Kanako have rubbed off on her...”
” Remilia interjects. She’s drumming her fingers on the tabletop slowly. “So you paid us a visit just for Sakuya’s cooking, hmm?”
“I wanted to ask Lady Patchouli something, too,” Suwako replies. “And visit you, of course.”
“I would have preferred you enter by the front gate,” Remilia says, her voice grating.
“I didn’t want to wake up Meiling,” Suwako says sweetly. “Besides, what’s a little trespassing between neighbors?”
The Scarlet Devil is indeed turning scarlet, one little balled fist gripping her tea-towel. Her face is entirely impassive, but her fiery red eyes betray her wrath. Suwako just sips her tea and favors the vampire with a cute smile.
Remilia cuts her eyes at you, calculating, and then turns away from Suwako, reaching for the breakfast tray sullenly. You go ahead and load your plate with scrambled eggs and sausage, having the Unseen Servant
pass the tray down to Keine and Cirno when you’re set. Suwako had a point with the crack about breakfast; Sakuya certainly was a fine cook. There’s some amiable chatter about the weather, the youkai, and the ‘price of tea in China’ (this last is mentioned by Suwako with a smirk,) but nothing of substance. Flandre joins in surprisingly amicably, but Remilia remains reserved. You suspect she’s waiting to interrogate you over your forest jaunt out of Suwako’s hearing, and you’re just as eager to discuss the ‘Great Summer Youkai’ with the goddess without Remilila’s eavesdropping. Cirno is unusually taciturn as well.
After everyone has eaten their fill (except Remilia, who doesn’t seem to ‘eat’ much,) Sakuya rises and-
-the plates are gone, table clear and fresh brew in the teapots. You let Keine offer the route pleasantries for your whole group, not really listening to it. A slight air of smug amusement has lingered about Suwako’s smirk through the whole meal, and Remila is still shooting the goddess cold glances and tapping the table with her spoon a little too hard for idle fidgeting.
“Well?” Sakuya asks you. You start.
“She just offered to lead you to the library,” Remilia says dourly, rising from the breakfast table. “Or perhaps Suwako could show you. She certainly knows her way around.” The Scarlet Devil shoves her chair in rather roughly and quickly takes her leave, Flandre trailing close behind.
“I believe you have vexed her,” you comment to Suwako.
“Indeed,” the diminutive deity agrees, twisting her dress in her hands. “Whatever did I do?”
Sakuya heaves the sigh of the long-suffering and shakes her head. “If you’re quite done, can we go?”
“Quite,” Keine replies. “He’s been lusting for that library ever since he heard of it.”
Sakuya leads you, Keine, Cirno and Suwako back to the main hallway, then down a side corridor you hadn’t noticed before. It’s narrow and dim, and it seems too long
somehow, though you can’t quite say why. Sakuya turns around another corner, pushes open a glass door, and you find your party back in the huge courtyard. It’s a beautiful day outside, and a few butterflies are lazily drifting from shrub to shrub.
You squint at the large space, taking note of the main hallway you, Keine and Cirno used for your uninvited entrance yesterday. Running through the mental map of the Mansion in your head, some things don’t seem to add up. You twist your spatial reasoning inside out, trying to puzzle it out.
” Sakuya’s voice breaks through your reverie.
“What?” you ask again.
Sakuya sighs again. “Are you even listening to me?”
“I, who have heard the Divine Chord that was strummed at the beginning of creation, which has thrummed ever since... I, who have heard the soft whispers of the dead, and the sullen counsel of demigods on distant planes... I, who have heard the sound of a silent scream, am now asked if I was listening!?
” Your chin has risen of its own accord, and you glare down from beneath the brim of your wizard hat with sudden menace.
Sakuya hesitates a moment, taken aback by the abrupt transformation. Then she firmly crosses her arms over her slight bust, fixing you with her cold blue eyes.
“You can take that ‘Zuul’ act and stuff it right up your extra-dimensional pocket,” Sakuya says sharply. “You’ve had your fun with it, but I’ll tolerate no more. You’re not that mysterious and we both know it, so stop!
” She fairly shouts the last word.
Before you can say anything, there’s a muted pop!
from directly behind Sakuya accompanied by a brief stir of wind. The maid takes a step forward and leans in a bit.
“And I’ll not be duped by any parlor tricks,
Somebody behind her clears their throat, and Sakuya abruptly whirls about to find Duke staring down at her from two feet away.
“EYAH!” she fairly screams, lurching backwards, a knife appearing in her hand instantaneously. She brandishes the weapon at the Hound Archon, her eyes blazing furiously. “Wha- what- what!”
Duke, for the first time you can remember, disregards the opportunity to introduce himself. He gently steps around the incensed maid, and plants one big hand on your shoulder.
“Uh, hi, Duke,” you say uncertainly. “I, uh, I didn’t mean to...” You trail off as Duke leans in and pulls you close to stare into his golden eyes.
“You. Fucking. Owe me,
” Duke strains out, his deep baritone voice betraying a tremor. Releasing your shoulder, he shakes his head wearily and strides over to a nearby bench, slumping onto it.
Sakuya still has her knife out, not sure who to point it at, and she’s giving you a truly astonished look.
“You were saying something about his mysteriousness?” Keine says from behind Sakuya, slipping you a wink and a grin behind her back.
[ ] Postpone your library visit to debrief Duke – in private, away from maids of all sorts.
[ ] Postpone your library visit and discuss matters right here, in the open. You wanted Suwako’s take on the Great Summer Youkai, after all.
[ ] Castigate the author’s shitty vote options and
proceed to the fucking library already.