When Light Descends to Madness
"Let's play a game."
Those were the words Nodoka heard from the two vampires standing in front of her. Of course, she found herself not liking those words one bit. "Wh-what kind of game?"
"Yay!" Flandre sung happily. "We get to play a game, we get to play a game!" She stopped, however, when she didn't get the details. Tilting her head in confusion, she asked, "What kind of game?"
"A game of spellcards, or whatever ruleset that is!" Evangeline bellowed. "Two on two!"
Nodoka panicked. "Awah?! Bu-bu-bu—"
"Yay, danmaku!" Flandre cheered. She immediately swooped by Nodoka's side. "I pick her as my teammate!" If she noticed the angry faces that showed up from that choice, she did not care.
"Miyazaki is my meat popsicle, toots," Evangeline snarled at the girl. "You side with your failure for a sister."
"Make me," Flandre stuck out her tongue at the icy vampire, but Nodoka felt something truly nasty lurking behind her words.
"Flandre, I'll let you have this Miyazaki girl if you help me teach this upstart a lesson," the elder Scarlet Devil sneered. This seemed to resonate with Flandre's thinking, so the younger sibling happily joined her side. "I will show her what it means to fear the name Remilia Scarlet!"
"More like double over in laughter!" Evangeline taunted. "Let me show you how awful your jokes are!"
"Surely you jest," Remilia Scarlet jibed back. She pointed a hand, fingernails gleaming, and began to draw a pattern in the air with scarlet colored magic. "To think you even had a chance to stand up to me."
A red mist exploded in front of Remilia, shimmering for a second before an incredible number of similarly colored shapes burst out of the mist. Nodoka only caught a glance of the projectiles, crystals a shade of red so bright they seemed to glow, before she warped out of the way. The crystals ripped through her afterimage and sliced it into ribbons of water that fell to the floor. Nodoka reappeared several feet away, out of the immediate line of fire.
She braced herself for another attack, only to find she wasn't being targeted. Flandre hovered in the air above the battle watching with glee, but otherwise doing nothing as if she was waiting for a signal. The full force of the Scarlet Devil's magic was pointed at Eva.
Instead of getting out of the way like Nodoka had, the dark mage had called up a wall of ice that was barely an inch thick. But to Remilia's anger, the red crystals bounced off its surface like sticks against a wall.
"Is that all you've got?" Eva shrugged. Remilia growled, but this did nothing to intimidate her. The dark mage just smiled innocently and said, "Shatter and scatter."
Doing just that, the wall of ice split into countless shards that twirled lazily for a second before they turned to point at Remilia, quivering in the air. "Pretty," Remilia said, and then flew forward in a blur.
The needles responded immediately, converging on her from all sides, but Remilia seemed find spaces between needles that hadn't been there before. Twirling and spinning through the packed needles, she laughed, "What a poor display when compared to my Perfect Maid."
Nodoka didn't think the display was poor at all, but she didn't comment. At this point, it was smarter to stay out of sight and out of mind for as long as possible.
"Sister, I'm getting bored," Flandre pouted from her perch in the air.
Clearing the last needle, Remilia flipped in the air to avoid a spike of ice that had thrust up from the ground beneath her. "She's right," Evangeline said. "This is boring. I still haven't moved yet, and my body is getting stiff. Give me something that'll make me move." A line of spikes erupted from the floor at her command, pushing Remilia back into the middle of the room.
"You impatient younglings, do I have to do everything?"
"For once, I can't call someone else on their age," Eva grinned and snapped a finger. A trio of spikes formed a pyramid around her flying foe with a loud screech. "And, I'd like to point out you're only a few years older than me."
"Ha, you counted? Then respect your elder, and I'd really love it if you'd stop damaging my beautiful floor." Remilia waved a hand negligently and the pyramid of ice evaporated with a hiss. Ghostly metal chains materialized around her, revolving around her with soft clinks. Though they ended in sharp, bladed tips, Nodoka couldn't tell where one began and one ended.
Remilia smiled, "But I know you'll ignore me, because that's your Fate."
"Still spouting that nonsense, old friend? Immortals have no fate."
"Sister…!" Flandre whined.
The Scarlet Devil gave a lenient sigh, and said, "Go play with your girl for now. Sister's still not warmed up. My old friend isn't as vigorous as she was when I last met her."
"Oh, now you've really made me mad," Eva laughed, her power growing ever stronger.
She said something else, but Nodoka didn't have time to pay attention, because Flandre had taken Remilia's command very literally. Diving towards her with her dreaded spear, Flandre giggled, "Yay, play time!"
Nodoka gulped and ducked as Flandre flew overhead. The deadly spear nearly clipped her head, but she had no doubt that a clip would be more than enough to send her home in a coffin. Scarier was the thought that she wasn't sure if being alive was such a good thing now with three blood-sucking vampires flying about.
"Whee!" Flandre yelled as she wheeled around for a second try at jousting. Except Nodoka had no spear..
"P-P-Please wait a second," Nodoka cried out to no avail. Flandre closed in for another charge. "Wait, time out!"
To her surprise and immense relief, Flandre stopped mid-flight and waited with an expression of curiosity while she hovered in the air. Nodoka gulped again as the vampire's glowing red eyes fixated upon her with a childish intensity that was frightening and unnerving. Slowly, she asked, "Can't we play a less… dangerous game?"
"Dangerous? What's that?"
The question threw Nodoka off balance, but she recovered quickly. "Something… that will kill me?"
Nodoka chose her words carefully. "When I'm dead," she explained word by word, "I can't play."
"Oh, why didn't you say so then?" Flandre smiled charmingly. Nodoka felt warmth flush through her body from her success, but that warmth quickly turned cold when Flandre pointed her spear at her and intoned cheerfully, "Danmaku it is!"
"Eep!" Nodoka yelped in fright at the wave of red that washed over vision. In the spray of scarlet bullets, everything was tinged red. Even as she ran for her life, she admired the effect it created. Suddenly, the red lights disappeared and the permeating smell of smoke and fire replaced it.
"Why aren't you playing?" Flandre sulked, feet touching the ground. "You chose this game!" She let out a flare of anger in the form of a rippling red flame that spread from her toes and around Nodoka until it circled the human. The crystals hanging from her wings began to glow with a bright white intensity. Flandre looked down. "Why won't anyone play with me…?"
Though Nodoka found Flandre's childish disappointment both moving and disturbing at the same time, she wisely decided to hold her peace on the subject. But there was no doubt that she had to do something.
Suddenly, the vampire's lifted her head and locked eyes with her. The force of the gaze nearly blew her off her feet, and the surge of rage that followed did bring her to her knees. Flandre's power sent the circle of fire roaring up like writhing snakes. Nodoka cringed from the nightmarish flames as they slowly turned in on her.
Do something! Do something now! she screamed at herself.
And then, she did.
"Aut Aqua Aut Exitium." A burst of magic energy burst from the point where she kept it tightly bound away. As if tethering ropes had broken, as if a tall dam had broken, the magic came rushing out, raw and almost uncontrollable. When she felt its strength, Flandre faltered; her rage was shaken, anticipation replacing it instead. The aura of magic was strong enough to create a multi-colored mist around the mage.
"Stagnet," Nodoka whispered, and the waves of power from the wild magic subsided, but the magic hadn't disappeared. It still hung around her as mist. As if grabbing a handful of this mist, Nodoka moved a hand through the air. "A mirror of crystal, a sword of water, a shield of ice… Toyotama-hime, Watatsumi-sama, Mizuchi-sama. Remember our contract and grant me thy blessings!"
The mist glowed brightly and completely enveloped Nodoka. Shadows that could not exist danced within the mist in graceful lines that resolved into three distinct shapes. For a second, Flandre watched in rapture.
Then, she got bored and made her ring of fire collapse inward. However, when the fire touched the mist, it was immediately put out. "What?" the vampire pouted, but before she could complain anymore, a spear shot past her face. Her innate reflexes reacted with an involuntary flinch, which would have placed her head out of the way of the spear had it been aimed at her. Instead, it flew harmlessly past with an arm's length to spare before it degenerated back into water. Flandre swiveled around and examined the wet, distorted line before turning back to face Nodoka. "Now that's what I call playing!"
Nodoka gave her a weak smile. To her left hung a frozen half moon that shone an ethereal blue despite the red theme that surrounded it, while to her left floated a long, thing, and very flat cylinder of water four times the length of her arm. The water, despite the absence of a surface, flowed constantly in a circular pattern, first following the edge down as it tapered until the water reached the blade point, went around it, and then flowed back up in a cycle. Finally, a little circular mirror hung from her neck, much less grand than either the shield or the sword. Through this all, the cloak of mist remained, gathered around her like adoring little faeries that, unlike the ones in this world, would not attack her.
"Does this mean we can play now?" Flandre asked anxiously, bouncing up and down with energy.
The answer was never answered—or at least, not now—because a giant pillar of ice hit the ground between the two "playmates" with a horrid screeching and a violent shake of the floor. Nodoka almost toppled to the floor, but the mist around her cushioned her fall. Flandre was not so lucky and hit fell back onto her bottom with an undignified yelp.
Kind of suits her, Nodoka giggled to herself despite the danger of both the moment and the thought.
"Oops, sorry," Remilia voice rang out idly. From her seat atop a similar block of ice, she spoke amiably, almost as if she was speaking about the weather. "I almost crushed your friend."
"She's not my friend," Eva corrected, "just a subordinate." Nodoka's former classmate still stood in the same spot, shattered crystals and ice littering the ground around her like a debris field. Still, there was a sizable circle around Eva that was completely debris free.
Remilia floated horizontally, chin resting on folded hands. "So she's dispensable then?"
"You catch on quickly," Eva said.
"Just stay out of our hair and you won't get hurt," the Scarlet Devil advised her, the air around her growing the color of her title. Nodoka bristled at the vampire's dismissive tone, and would have said something had Flandre not beaten her to the punch.
"Didn't you say I could have… have…" the girl trailed off, eyes furrowed in concentration until she suddenly pointed at Nodoka and exclaimed, "Oh no!"
"W-What?" Nodoka stammered, aghast, expecting to find her doom bearing down on her.
"I forgot to ask you your name!"
There was a moment of silence in respect for Nodoka's shocked relief before she broke it by saying, "Miyazaki… Nodoka."
"So I call you Miyazaki?"
Flandre shrugged. "Okay, Nodoka! Let's go back to playing! And sister?"
"Yes, Flandre?" Remilia sighed.
Before Nodoka had the chance to puzzle out that particular comment, Flandre lunged forward with her wicked spear held in front as if in a joust. This time around, Nodoka did more than dodge. With a twist of her hand, her water sword parried the spear thrust. However, as it made contact, the water exploded into a cloud of steam as if boiled away by some sudden, immense heat. Still, it was enough to knock the spear off target enough for her massive ice shield to deflect its point instead of take it from the front, which Nodoka knew would have been a bad choice.
"Waaaah," Flandre gasped, knocked off balance. Nodoka took advantage of the situation and launched a stream of mist that solidified into spears of water, but even so, Flandre's reflexes were too inhuman for her to be done in by such a simple trick. She plunged her spear into the ground and swung around it like it was a pole, out of the way of the water spears. The air around her glowed with red sparks. But more menacing to Nodoka were the spears of red that hung in the air to point at her.
"Right back at you," the little troublemaker giggled, and Nodoka was forced to move quickly or be impaled on scarlet energy. The spears punched holes the size of a fist into the mist around Nodoka, but she was otherwise unhurt. As if skating on ice, Nodoka maneuvered around the lines of red magic that had suddenly spawned in a swirling pattern around her. Only the tips of her shoes touched the marble surface of the floor.
Time to turn the tables, Nodoka decided, focusing on the crystal mirror hanging from her neck. Immediately, words flowed into her mind, words of power and meaning that she had stored away for just this purpose. Even as she slashed away crackling fireballs with her reformed sword and parried Flandre's agile spear strikes with her shield, she formed the foundation of a spell with her mouth.
"Above the earth: rain, sleet, hail. Below the earth: geyser, glacier, sea. Fall with calm, erupt with rage, and fill the realms of Susanoo, your lord."
At that moment, Flandre's spear struck her shield and pierced it until only the shaft was left free of the ice. Flandre struggled to pull it out, but to no avail. A flash of bright blue light came into existence underneath the two girls. A giant magic circle decorated with neat letters and a symmetrical pattern appeared under their feet, overlaid with a complicated pattern of lines and swirls. Nodoka gave Flandre a smile, and yelled,"Earthen Riptide!"
A white ring rose up from the circle, hung around them for a tenth of a second, and then split to let a torrential flood blast out. As the water reached Nodoka, they split around her, but there was no such protection for Flandre. With a yelp of surprise, the wave enveloped her and pulled her under.
Nodoka stepped back until she was out of the magic circle, out of the water contained within the circle.
Slowly, the water ebbed, disappearing into thin air, leaving behind a sodden Flandre, the only evidence that the water had ever been there. "I'm sor—" Nodoka began to apologize, but a red mote floated across her vision, distracting her. At the same moment she saw Flandre's smile, the vampire snapped her fingers, and the world exploded in red.
It was a sensation of burning pain, and the next thing she knew she had her back on the floor. However, she was still conscious. Despite her loss, she was still awake... and alive.
"I win!" Flandre cheered. Happily, she scooped up Nodoka from the floor and flew over towards the edge of the room. Examining the fallen Nodoka, her face contorted to one of concern. "You're not dead, are you?" She poked her in the cheek lightly.
"No..." Nodoka said weakly.
"You're certainly fun to play with for a human! When you get better, we should play more! You'll get stronger, too!" Flandre said happily. Nodoka shivered at the thought, but she couldn't help but admire the girl's playfulness.
"Your 'meat popsicle' is out of commission, Evangeline," Remilia smirked arrogantly. "What will you do now?"
"I told you... she was expendable," Evangeline shrugged, despite holding an equally arrogant grin. "But I'm more than enough to toast you." She summoned a row of ice spears. "Die." She swept a hand forward, and the spears of ice shot towards the elder vampire.
"You shouldn't telegraph such obvious and slow attacks!" Remilia reprimanded. The girl extended her wings, smiling devilishly before shooting forward, easily skirting past the icicles before forming her own attack. "Midnight—Dracula Cradle!" She took to the air and spun like a devilish top. With all her force, she crashed into Evangeline, forcing the blond vampire to block the blow as best as she could rather than attack.
"Finally!" Evangeline grinned, her eyes glowering with madness. "We can play for keeps!" She swiveled her hand up, and at once a swirl of ice arrows burst from her hand. The first two immediately swung around and crashed into Remilia. The girl nearly floated to the ground, landing almost too gently for that kind of attack.
More ice arrows shot towards her—but they hit thin air instead.
In seconds, Remilia was back in the action, easily and gracefully swirling past the assault. "I suppose that's not bad... still, you're way too slow!" She swung up a hand, and several beams of red energy shot toward the blond vampire. Evangeline glided sideways to evade the attack, but a red beam managed to pierce her side anyway.
Evangeline sank downwards... for all of five seconds. "Heh," She righted herself.
Slowly, she raised her right hand. Suddenly, a vague energy sword formed from her hand, and swept forward, attempting to slice Remilia in two. However, the elder vampire easily twirled about, evading her attack. A second slice still missed as Remilia moved upward.
"Two can play that game," Remilia bared her teeth. Drawing in her scarlet magic power, the girl bellowed, "Spear the Gungnir!" A powerful red spear formed. Twirling it deftly, she charged forward, meeting Evangeline's phantasmal sword with equal fervor. Both demons clashed repeatedly, twirling about in the air in a deadly, graceful dance.
"I don't think that's spellcard rules anymore..." Flandre observed. However, she easily shrugged this off. "Oh well, the fight was pretty much between them anyway."
"So why did they make us fight?" Nodoka asked.
Three superpowered vampires think it's courteous to pick a fight with a human?! Nodoka winced inwardly.
Evangeline suddenly flung her hands back. "Why not finish this? I'll tear you apart with one last attack."
"Fine by me, but you'll be the fool in pieces," Remilia countered. There was much sinister chuckling as both vampire girls hovered in the air. Nodoka could feel the turbulent chill of magical energy rushing towards them.
"Lic lac luc lilac..." Evangeline chanted. "Spirits of ice and darkness, gather unto me!"
"Scarlet Sign..." Remilia kept her words simple, instead, holding just one card, burning bright with power.
"Nuis Tempestas Obscura!"
A combined blast of ice and darkness crashed into the ever-consuming red magic, fierce explosions rocking the entire house. The blast was so great Nodoka felt it necessary to put up a barrier, though Flandre did nothing but continue to stare in awe. Explosions continued to burst upon each other like a fireworks show.
With one final explosion, the room shrouded itself in smoke. When it cleared, Evangeline and Remilia stood at opposite ends, both somewhat exhausted.
"Feh, you're still not dead?!" Evangeline huffed.
"What a disappointment," Remilia remarked, her voice feigning irritation. "You're not dead either."
"It's obviously a waste of our time to fight each other like this now. We might as well have tea," Evangeline sat down.
"My Perfect Maid is, unfortunately not here," Remilia muttered. "Thanks to that Sakurazaki brat. And my other maids are incompetent at fixing good food."
"Then just have Miyazaki do it," Evangeline waved off her concern. "Oi. Miyazaki. Go fix us tea."
"What?" Nodoka blinked at the audacity of the vampires.
"You heard me, Miyazaki."
"...Why?" Nodoka still asked. "How am I supposed to know where the tea is?"
"Flandre, I know you haven't been out in a while, but you know where the tea is, don't you?" Remilia asked her sister.
"Yeah!" Flandre cheered. "I remember! I'll show her the way." With frightening speed, Flandre happily carted off Nodoka out of the room and downstairs, despite the young lady's protests.
"Subordinates are so easy to manipulate!" Evangeline remarked, and the vampires shared hearty laughter.
There only stood an uncomfortable silence as Yue stared at Kaguya while they both waited. The princess of the moon coolly sipped on tea, never letting up her gaze on the purple-haired girl.
This wait came to a stop when the massive doors opened once again, with Reisen returning. Following her was a maiden in a wheelchair, her silver hair short with two locks on the front, her face still showing elegance despite her weakness. Curiously enough, she wore a maid's headdress. A much taller silver-haired woman, pushing the wheelchair, peered curiously inside the room. She held herself much like a super-intelligent doctor would—but maybe Yue reached that conclusion due to the doctor's cap on her head. "Princess?" This taller lady said. "What is the meaning of calling us out here?"
"Ah, Eirin," Kaguya greeted the doctor. "We have a new guest here," She gestured towards Yue. "She lost a game of Go to me, so now she gets to stay here and drink tea with me. I might consider making her do tricks..."
Eirin looked somewhat amused by this. Yue already did not like this sensation.
The maid in the wheelchair, on the other hand, was not amused. Between her fingertips, she produced a silver knife, and, like lightning, threw it at Kaguya. However, the lunatic princess easily caught the knife in her right hand, with no ill effects. "Getting better," Kaguya smiled. "Eirin's a good doctor, isn't she? Nevertheless, you won't be leaving here until you can stab me right... between... here..." She slowly traced the area between her eyes.
Despite this failure though, the lady in the wheelchair simply returned that smile, though Yue detected an edge to it. "I will see Milady soon enough. When I'm fully recovered, you won't stop me." The woman took a glance at Yue. "She bears a strong resemblance to Lady Patchouli..."
"Who bears a strong resemblance to me?" The final person to walk into the room nearly drove Yue into a shock. She was looking at... herself, if a bit older, her hair thicker, and dressed in a nightgown. A crescent moon adorned her nightcap. Apparently this had to be Patchouli. Upon seeing Yue, though, Patchouli expressed more awe than shock. "A doppleganger, perhaps? She really does resemble me. So," She directed her voice at Yue. "Where do you come from?"
It took a moment for Yue to answer—being addressed directly for the first time since this began was nearly a shock, but she gathered her bearings. "I come from the outside world. I'm looking for information on an old friend of mine... Konoe Konoka."
The room grew dead silent. When she felt tension choking nearly everyone inside, especially the woman in the wheelchair, Yue realized her mistake. She opened her mouth to apologize when Kaguya proved to be faster, "See, I told you coming out here would be worth your while."
(Hey guys, our apologies... Seraph was in NaNo, and I myself got struck by heavy inspiration to rewrite Scheme!? (which is now completely rewritten.) I know this is sparse, but this is the last update you'll see for this story in 2008. Don't worry! This will return! (As soon as I can find Seraph)
In the meantime, for those of you that followed Scheme!?, the next in the I Am Negima!? saga has been up for quite a bit. And for bonus points, go check my website link for additional author's notes!)