The creature in front of you was not there before.

There was no sound that foretold her presence. Nor was there a tree or brush close enough that she could have come out of hiding from.


Just a few seconds ago, you had been wandering in the forest, relying on the moonlight to find your way back home. You didn't know how you ended up in this place, but you were sure this world was not the one you come from. It was somehow evident to you that supernatural forces were abundant. And that did little to console you in your experience of being lost at night.


For a second, you could only gawk wordlessly at the creature in front of you. Blond hair, a red hair ornament, and black clothing. A wardrobe that on its own looked quite innocuous.

A lost child? You had your doubts. The fact that her body didn't reflect the bright moonlight, that she blended so well into her own shadow, and that her eyes radiated a menacing glow gave it away. No matter how much you try to rationalize the situation, there was something off-putting about the girl in front of you. She was one of those. The ones with supernatural strength, enviable longevity, and strange abilities. You, a human, knew you were no match if you had to fight with her.

The corners of her mouth slowly curled into a grin.


Rumia

Heeey. It's a human!


She had a cheery attitude. In a time, place, and situation that didn't strike you as particularly cheery. As her body started to levitate towards you, you instinctively take a few steps back.


Rumia

Why are you running? I haven't had a human to eat in a looong time.


You

No… Leave me alone!


But it was useless. As soon as you started to run, the air around you seemed to have its light sucked away. Before you knew it, you were running in pitch darkness. Your gait slowed as you were more likely to trip over your own foot than to put on some distance. As you witnessed her ability firsthand, you lost all hope of escaping by your own two feet.

You regained your vision as the dark faded. And there she was, only this time she was directly in front of you, within an arm's reach. A scream escaped your mouth.


Rumia

Geez. This one's just like those in the past. Making me use my power for no reason at all.


You

Don't eat me, please…


Rumia

...Why?


Maybe you could talk yourself out of this. Think…


You

I'm… not very tasty!


You knew it was a lame attempt.


Rumia

I know you don't wanna be eaten, but can't you come up with a different excuse?

You act the same as the ones from before. And you all taste the same too.


You

There are lots of delicious things out there besides human beings.

If you eat those instead, that would make many people very happy.


Rumia

Who am I trying to please here?! I do what I want!


You

O...Okay. Uh, how's that working out for you?


Rumia

I'm a ball of darkness that flies around. I was always a ball of darkness that flies around. If I don't eat people, who will take me seriously?

Ugh. Why are you still arguing? Do you not wanna get eaten that badly? Are you saying you're better than everyone else I ate?


As you were continuing to talk to the youkai in front of you, you realize that maybe this one wasn't like the others of her species. You sensed, slightly, this one may have a bit of a conscience. Maybe you could use that to your advantage.


You

N-No, not at all. I'm no different from the others. You're the one who's changed.


Rumia

Eh?


You

Didn't any of your other victims, er… sustenance argue with you too?


Rumia

No. I didn't give them a chance.


You

And yet, here you are talking to me like we're equals. See?

You have changed.


Rumia

Ehh? I never thought of it like that...

So, are you ready to be eaten?


You

A-Are you still thinking about eating someone you're just getting to know? I would feel lonely real quick if I had your kind of lifestyle. What if we just keep the chit-chat going for now?


Rumia

Lonely? Not at all.

Anyway, I'll let you keep talking to me if you want. I'll eat you after I get bored of listening.


Okay, now we were getting somewhere. This youkai, to you, seemed like she can be fooled into thinking you're doing her a favor when you're actually saving your own neck. Any time you managed to buy is valuable time. You started off talking about your family, your hobbies, then your friends, and then finally, school and work.


Rumia

Heyy... Your life almost sounds as pointless as mine.


You

S-Sweet!


You considered giving her a high-five for good measure, but decided against physical contact with your would-be killer.


Rumia

Um, what's going on? I'm not getting the delicious smell from you anymore.


You

I was never delicious to begin with.


Rumia

I better eat you while you still have some flavor left.


You

Haven't you gotten the message that I don't want to be eaten?


You felt your heart starting to race again. As if on cue, some color returned to the youkai's face in anticipation.


Rumia

You're still not getting it!

The whole reason youkai eat humans is because they don't wanna get eaten.


And that was it. This whole thing was just to play out the power dynamic that dominates over human beings and youkai.


You

So if I don't want to get eaten, I have to want to get eaten? That's a horrible Catch-22 situation.


Rumia

...It makes perfect sense to me.


You

What do you get out of imposing your will over me? You're wasting your ego on someone way too trivial.


Rumia

Maybe... But they keep saying that I need a purpose. See? This is my purpose.


You

U-Uh, well… Eating human beings is hardly a purpose.

We live very short lives compared to you. And there are already too many things that our bodies can't survive through.

All you're doing is something that will be done sooner or later anyway.


Rumia

What are you saying? Of course eating humans is a youkai's purpose.

You see, the more afraid you are, the more delicious you become!


You had just about run out of ideas. You had half a heart to simply turn tail and run, again, but you knew it would be useless.

Maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to get eaten after all? Indulge a youkai in her fantasies, and she will be off on her merry way, with an ego boost and a story to tell?

No, that can't happen. No way were you going to let a stubborn brat get the better of you.


You

Use your head, missy!

Think of what will happen if all the humans get eaten. There will be no one left to play your game of cat and mouse.


Rumia

You're just one out of many. I can have one just this once. It wouldn't matter, right?

Letty and Wriggle can do the conservation.


You

Letty and Wriggle are probably thinking the exact same thing! This is nowhere near sustainable.


Rumia

Oh… is that so? Maybe I'll ask them about it after I'm done with you.


You paused.

Conservation. Sustainability.

"The more afraid you are, the more delicious you become."

"The whole reason youkai eat humans is because they don't wanna get eaten."

You could start to see all the pieces coming together.

It was time to mount one final offensive.


You

That's enough…

You can stop your charade with the whole eating thing.

You actually have no intention of eating me at all!


Rumia

I don't?


It was a gamble, but you decided it was worth it.


You

That's how the system is built! That's why we human beings still exist.

You guys are only in love with the idea of eating human beings. But actually, you just live off our fear!


Rumia

...

And to make you fear me, I'll eat you!


You

I…


Your shoulders slumped downwards as you let out an audible sigh. Was it too ambitious of a move? You were too far into the battle to walk back your comments. Yet, your defeated stance spoke otherwise.

The last thing you remembered seeing before the area around you became dim was the outline of her figure rushing towards you. The figure then dispersed into many pieces, each of which melted into the blackness that had surrounded you.


You

Stop…


But she was done responding to your pleas.

You knew she would strike from anywhere, at anytime, and tried to sense the slightest gust of wind for a clue. Your fists clenched. You couldn't see a thing, but you would go down fighting.

...Except that you brought your arms close to your head as you crouched in an unsure, protective stance.

And then, it happened.

As she whispered something into your ear, you jumped.

"Cirno likes girls."


The moonlight shone once again through the forest floor, and you were left in a confused daze, wondering about the meaning of all that transpired.

The youkai simply turned her back and left not long after whispering whatever thing she said.

In any case, you were alive and fine.

Did she never intend to eat you in the first place? Or did you actually convince her to spare your life? Maybe she realized something in the middle of your ramblings and decided that scaring you was enough for her. She did seem to be the lazy type. As if in confirmation, you noticed her ball of darkness wandering aimlessly off in the distance. She did, indeed, lead an existence without purpose. Maybe things would have ended much differently if you had encountered a more diligent youkai.

You breathed a sigh of relief as you continued exploring the area for a way home.

Just then, you thought you could hear the faint sound of a sneeze coming from the direction of a large, misty lake.