Black Cat's Luck (II)
That afternoon, while he was busy doing repairs on the floorboards of a secondary corridor, Illya came up to him with her hands clasped behind her back and a smile on her face.
"Take me somewhere nice, Onii-chan," she said out of the blue.
Shirou's hammer stopped halfway down to the floor.
"Like where?" he asked, puzzled.
"I don't know. Somewhere interesting. What's there to do for fun in this city?
"You never did anything for fun since you came here, did you?" she asked rhetorically.
"Except cooking, training and doing chores," she added. "Those do not count."
"But I like doing them," he objected.
"Right, what was I thinking? Have you done something fun that wasn't also productive in some way?"
"That's what I thought. Hence, I'll let you have the privilege of taking me someplace fun, where we'll waste our time the entire afternoon," she said hauntingly, like a woman of noble stock granting a plebian the pleasure of her company. Which was pretty much how things were.
"That doesn't sound like you're giving me much of a choice," he observed, though not at all upset by being pushed around.
"That's because I'm not. Now, go get yourself cleaned up and get changed in something appropriate. I'll be waiting for you right here."
"I still don't know where I should take you," he told her as he got up from where he was kneeling on the floor
"Well, then you better figure it out rather quickly, don't you?"
"Eh, I guess so. Alright, I'll be right back."
He left for his room. If he took a quick shower he could be done in twenty minutes. Of course, that was not counting running into interlopers on the way.
"Bwah!" shouted Shirou, as he nearly headbutted Kaolla, who was hanging upside down on the ceiling right around the corner.
"Amusement park!" Kaolla reiterated enthusiastically.
"Suu-san, what are you… oh, you heard us. Are you suggesting we go to the amusement park? That's… a rather good idea actually. Thank you."
"You are supposed to say you are welc- Oh, you mean you want to tag along? I'm sorry, but I think Illya wants to be just the two of us, this time. She'll be quite upset with me if I were to take someone else too."
"Mou," she pouted and then she dropped down from the ceiling landing on her feet like a cat.
She brushed past him with a sour look on her face, which made Shirou almost reconsider.
"I'll take you some other time, I promise."
"Huhhh~" she bemoaned without raising her head, disappearing behind a corner without looking back.
Shirou watched her go, wanting to call her back. However, knowing Illya she would be just as put off as Kaolla was if he invited someone along. He would have to make good on that promise soon. He didn't like when people were sad after all.
With that decided, he went to fetch fresh clothes and made his way to the shower room. Fortunately these were divided between men and women, unlike the onsen. A remnant of its days as an actual inn. As such he saw no reason to hang up a sign that he was using the facilities. He just went in, undressed and got under the water, leaving his clean clothes in the main area.
The sound of running water was enough to cover the sound of the door opening and that of naked feet pattering around.
A few minutes later, he stepped out of the shower to find that his clothes were gone. All of them. Only the towels had been left untouched. More importantly Rin's pendant had also disappeared.
"What the…?! Whose brilliant idea was this?" he asked to the empty room. Now, how was he supposed to get out?
Motoko and Kitsune were sitting in the lobby, which now served as living room of sorts when Kaolla walked by, wearing clothes that were obviously not her own, considering they were several times her size. In fact, they were so much bigger than her that the only thing actually poking out of them was her head.
"Kaolla? Whose clothes are those?" asked Kitsune. "Wait, are those Shirou's? Where'd you get them? You didn't go sneaking into his room, did you?"
"Nu-uh. I found them in the shower room."
"The shower room?" asked Motoko. "Sensei was probably about to take a shower, then. Kaolla, bring them back right now."
"He was not," she replied.
"He was not what?" asked Kitsune. "About to take a shower?"
"Yes," she confirmed.
"Then why were his clothes there?"
"Because he was in the shower," she replied innocently.
"But you just said...," started Motoko. "You left him in the shower room with no clothes? Kaolla!"
"Good job, Kaolla!" praised Kitsune instead.
"What do you mean good job? Sensei is-?"
"Stranded naked in the shower room, right?" said Kitsune, wiggling her eyebrow. "Sounds like he's in need of an helping hand. I might have to fetch him some fresh clothes, yes. Though that would mean going into the shower room with him. Hmm… I wonder what could happen while we're both in there..."
"Kitsune!" Motoko protested indignantly.
"What? Do you mean to tell me that we should leave him in the shower room forever, or until he spontaneously grows clothes?"
"No, but that doesn't mean you should-"
"Oh, so you are the one that wants to go in there with him, uh. Motoko, I'm impressed."
"I did not say anything of the sort!" she denied.
"That wasn't a no."
"Will you cease putting words in my mouth?"
"You just have to straight up tell me that you don't want to walk on him naked."
"What's with the ruckus?" asked Naru as she popped her head into the room.
"Motoko says she wants to peep on Shirou in the shower!" replied Kitsune.
"Wha- I never said anything like that!"
"You didn't say you wouldn't want to either," Kitsune insisted.
"Why must I defend myself from baseless accusations?"
"Kitsune, stop teasing her already," warned Naru.
"Oh, easy for you to say. You already saw everything."
"What!" Motoko nearly shouted.
"Kitsune!" Narus shrieked, red faced and with a look of betrayal in her eyes.
"Na-Naru-senpai?" stuttered Shinobu, whom had also come upon the scene.
"It's not like that. It was an accident. Tell them, Kitsune!"
"Well, of course it was an accident," Kitsune confirmed. "That didn't mean you saw him any less naked."
"She what?" hissed Kanako.
"Where the hell did you come from?" asked Naru.
"That is unimportant. Explain yourself now."
"Like I said, it was an accident," she reiterated.
"A happy little accident, I bet," added Illya, looking none too amused.
"Wh- Not you too! Why are you all coming out of the woodworks now?"
"What did you expect when you encroach on my domain while I'm around?"
"Your domain?" asked Kanako. "I thought we were discussing things that actually happened, not the product of an overactive imagination."
"Look at what you have done," sighed Motoko. "Was your entertainment worth the bickering?"
"Heck yes. Shame I don't have any popcorns," she replied
"You are impossible," groaned Motoko.
"And you don't know the best part yet," said Kitsune.
"What? What are you talking about?"
"Shirou is still without clothes and the way back to his room is through here. How long do you think he's going to wait for someone to come to his help before he gives up on the idea and takes his chance?"
Motoko's eyes widened and she stood up from the armchair with every intention of preventing such a thing. That was when the door opened and the man of the hour walked in with naught but a towel around his waist to protect his modesty.
All conversation died down immediately, as the room plummeted in a stunned silence. Everyone's face had turned of an interesting shade of red, even the usually oblivious Kaolla's. Weirdly enough Shirou looked impassible and perhaps even a little bit angry.
Then again, he had his clothes stolen while he was in the shower and he had to come out wearing only a towel in front of a crowd of the opposite gender. Being mildly upset was the least anyone could expect.
"Kaolla," he said, using her first name without any honorific, looking down at the much shorter girl.
"Y-Yes!" she yelped, looking somewhat scared.
He reached out with his hand inside the collar of the stolen shirt.
"EMIYA!" Naru called out in outrage.
However, Shirou paid her no mind and pulled out from the shirt a red pendant.
"Touching this is forbidden."
That wasn't a tone of voice that brooked any argument. There were lines with Emiya Shirou that were not to be crossed, for he was a meek man right until he was not.
He was scary enough when he decided to be mildly confrontational and they had no wish to see him angry. Particularly not at any of them. He put the pendant around his neck and turned around, marching out of the room exactly like he had marched in.
The first to break the silence was Shinobu, as she passed out and fell on the floor with a thud.
"Shinobu!" called out Naru as she rushed to her side.
"Hot damn," sighed Kitsune, with her eyes unusually wide open. "What do I have to do to make him jump me?"
"Please voice your indecent thoughts where there are no children to overhear them," warned Motoko.
"You face doesn't match your words, though it probably matches your thoughts."
"S-Shut up!" stuttered the sword maiden.
"What was that pendant anyway?" asked Kitsune. "It looked kind of girlish."
"It's a Tohsaka family heirloom," explained Illya, whose face was getting back to its usual complexion. "It's just a worthless trinket, but it something that has great emotional value to Shirou. I would recommend not touching it without permission."
"Yeah, no shit," Kitsune agreed. "Still, doesn't that mean that he favors Rin if he wears it all the time?"
"Miss Konno," said Illya.
"Shut that trap."
Kitsune cackled. Riling people up was so darn easy and so darn amusing.
"In any event, Kaolla, you shouldn't steal people clothes... or anything else for that matter," admonished Motoko. "This isn't like you. What brought this on?"
"... I want to go to the amusement park."
"Uhm... so?" asked Narusegawa. "Why steal his clothes?"
"He's taking her," Kaolla explained pointing to Illya, "but he won't take me along."
"He's taking who, where?" asked Kanako.
"Illyasviel. Amusement park," summed up Kitsune.
"Isn't that for kids?" sneered the Black Sister.
"Also for couples," beamed the White One.
Although a bit cliche, amusement parks were often the place of choice for a first date.
"Then I'm coming too," Kanako decided.
"He didn't ask you," Illya objected.
"Knowing you, he was probably strong armed into it."
"You of all people have no grounds to accuse me of that."
"You aren't denying it, so that means I'm correct," concluded Kanako.
"Alright! Enough! You two stop that right now," said Naru, who was still nursing an unconscious Shinobu. "I can't believe it would come the day when I'd have to pry not one but several women off a guy. What the hell!"
"Yesh, it's almost like women are just as bad as men, uh."
"Kitsune, shut up already!" hissed Naru, whose patience was running short.
"What? I'm just telling the truth. Just like I'm telling the truth when I say that the amusement park is a public place and that everyone can visit whenever they may want. Speaking of which, it's been a while since I've been there. Might as well take a trip there myself too."
"What? No you don't," said Illya and Kanako in sudden agreement.
"Uh-uh. You are not the boss of me," she declared. "Come on Kaolla. Let's get ready."
"Yaay!" cheered the foreign girl, throwing her arms up and waving about the sleeves of Shirou's shirt. "Let's go! Let's go!"
"Ah! I'm coming as well!" said Kanako.
Motoko sighed. "I should tag along as well, just to prevent Kitsune from doing something crazy again."
"M-Me too!" declared Shinobu, who promptly returned to full consciousness and sat up so fast that she nearly headbutted Naru in the process.
"Wah!" shouted Naru, as she dodged. "Has everyone gone crazy? Am I the only sane person left in this building?"
"In a world of crazy people, a normal person is the insane one, isn't it?" said Kitsune.
"You shut up! Fine, I'm coming too, damn it!"
"That's the spirit!" cheered a laughing Kitsune.
"It was supposed to be our date!" complained Illya instead.
Thus, much to the snow-maiden chagrin, her supposed date turned into a group event. So much for that plan.
Hinata City amusement park was neither too small or too big. However, it was still very crowded despite it being a week day. All of the rides and attractions had long lines of people waiting for their turn. There was a cheerful atmosphere, with countless families with children dotted by the occasional teenage couple.
Despite that, the group composed by the residents of the Hinata-sou was so varied that it attracted everyone's attention. A gaggle of pretty girls of various ages and nationalities led by a towering man with partially white hair were sure to turn the eye of everyone passing them by.
They looked like members of a circus, and Kaolla hanging upside down from Shirou's shoulders didn't really help in that regard.
However, everyone was having fun, even end especially Illya.
"Onii-chan, I want to try that ride. That one too. And that one. Oooh, that one looks great as well."
Although her date with Shirou had been ruined, she had long since forgotten her disappointment and she was currently enjoying herself to the utmost. She seemed every little bit the teenage girl she very much wasn't.
It was a sight to behold.
Although her health had improved a lot, she didn't really have that many opportunities to experience a regular life. She was still an Einzbern, and she spent most of her time in their remote European castle, far removed from civilization. This was her first time visiting a place like this, so even if she was above the target age her eyes were shining in wonder and amazement.
"Is she really twenty-five years old?" muttered Kitsune.
"Illya's had a very sheltered life," explained Shirou. "Things that other people take for granted are totally new for her."
"Yeah, she told us a bit about that," confirmed Naru with a chagrined expression.
Illya's circumstances had been quite difficult, to say the least. Having lost both her parents to different circumstances, she had been born with a difficult condition and she had been discarded by her other relatives because of that.
The home life of the girls at the Hinata-sou was less than stellar, each in their own way, but when compared to Illya's they almost seems trivial. Yet, she looked like she she had accepted them with much more grace than they ever did prior to meeting Shirou.
Which begat the question, how messed up had she been before running into him?
If their own experience was anything to go by, meeting him had changed them for the better with different degrees. Therefore, they all suspected that Illyasviel had gone through a similar shift in life. It appeared that Emiya Shirou had every intention of changing things for the better wherever he went.
Shirou was not privy to their thoughts, of course. He was more interested in watching Illya's smile. Despite being outwardly cheerful, his pseudo sister was more often than not very melancholic and her smiles were almost invariably of the sad sort.
To see her smiling sincerely like that was a balm for Shirou's soul and a confirmation that all things he had done were worth it. The good as well as the bad ones.
The things he had done for Illya's sake... he wasn't proud of many of them. He didn't regret doing even a single one, but they were not something he would have done otherwise.
Shirou actually sympathized with Seta more than he was letting it show. Under different circumstances, he would have taken his side. However, he did prioritize people over inanimate things and thus he chose his side fairly easily. However some things still left him with a bitter taste in his mouth.
Because of that, he treasured Illya's smile a great deal. He was glad that she had come visit, even with all the shenanigans it had caused.
Although he had plenty other things to worry about, between doing maintenance on the inn, studying for university and practicing Magecraft, Shirou did not consider this lazy afternoon a waste of time, no matter what Illya said about it.
"It is rare, you know?" said Kitsune.
"Dare I ask what are you talking about?"
"You are smiling."
"Don't I usually smile?" he asked.
"No. Not like that, you don't."
"O... kay? I'm sorry, I'm not sure what you are trying to tell me," he confessed.
"That you have a different smile for the people you love. I mean, it was pretty clear but you really do love Illyasviel."
"She's my sister," he said with a furrowed expression. "Of course I love her."
"If being your sister was enough of a reason, you'd smile like that for Kanako as well."
"... It's not the same thing."
"Of course it isn't. You and Illya have been through a lot together, right?"
"Just like with Rin and Rider, correct?"
"I... guess so?"
"You guess? Is it like that or is it not like that?" she inquired further.
"No, it's definitely like that," he conceded. "What is your point, exactly?"
"Oh, nothing. Just trying to figure out what does a woman have to do to make you look at her that way."
"Do you enjoy poking fun at me all the time?" he asked with a sigh.
"I thought it was obvious," she grinned. "I can't stand it when a guy can just ignore my charms, you know?"
"Just because I don't fall for it doesn't mean I'm not aware of it."
"Maybe, but it's not good enough for me, sorry;" she said. "I have my own pride."
Shirou snorted. "Yes. I figured it was inversely proportional to your sense of shame."
"Ha ha. Very funny, you jerk."
"I aim to please," he joked with a small bow of his head.
"Well, you should aim better then. How about you go get me something to drink?"
"Sure. I'll be right back. Kaolla, do you mind waiting here?"
"Alright," the dark skinned girl agreed, switching ride by jumping like a monkey on Motoko's shoulders, who didn't seem to be fazed by the younger girl's antics.
"Alrighty then. Does anybody else want something to drink?"
He quickly took everyone's order, but it soon became apparent that he would not be able to carry everything unless he grew another set of arms.
"I'll help you, Emiya-san," volunteered Shinobu.
"Thank you. I think we passed a food stand a little while ago."
The two of them departed, leaving the other girls to their own devices.
"Make it quick! I'm thirsty," shouted Kitsune after them.
"Yes. Yes you are," sighed Naru.
"Hey!" protested Kitsune, slapping her friend's shoulder, who just laughed in response, while Motoko looked between the two of them knowing she had missed something, but without understanding what exactly.
Regardless, they were all having fun. None of them paid any mind to all the people staring at them, and even if they had, they wouldn't have begun to imagine that it wasn't just merely because of curiosity at the peculiarity of their group.
They would not notice until it was too late.
He noticed almost a moment too late. There had been no warning sign, no giveaway. Nothing at all.
Shirou and Shinobu were returning to the others after buying their drinks. Their hands were both full and moving through the crowd without spilling them wasn't precisely an easy task either.
It was only because he possessed superlative reflexed and decisiveness to match that he reacted in time to save his life.
The drinks fell to the ground, splattering their colorful contents all over his trousers. In a way, that was fortunate. That way no one from the crowd would notice Shirou's blood pouring out from where the small blade had broken through his flesh.
His hand had been pierced front to back, as he used it to stop the knife from reaching his vitals. The would-be murderer, an inconspicuous looking man in his forties, looked more surprised that his target at having been intercepted.
He looked even more surprised when Shirou's other hand decked him squarely across the face, pushing him away and forcing him to abandon his weapon.
"Emiya-san, what-?" asked Shinobu, who had yet to realize what had transpired.
The assassin took a step back, having rolled with Shirou's punch and having come out of the confrontation with only his pride wounded.
'A professional,' Shirou realized, as if sneaking up on him without giving out any killing intent until the moment he struck wasn't proof enough.
"Execute plan B," the assassin said, melting into the crowd, his words betraying that he wasn't alone.
"Emiya-san, your hand. What happened?"
Rather than answering her, Shirou put his good hand around her shoulder and pulled her close to him.
"Wa-wa-wa-wa?" she stuttered, red faced.
"It's dangerous. Don't move."
Shirou scanned his surroundings, but he couldn't tell between normal people and trained assassins. It was why they were so dangerous. Who were they? Why were they after him? The people who'd want him dead were more than he could recall on top of his head.
Seconds trickled by without anything happening, until a familiar scream tore the air.
Nobody except him paid it any attention. The amusement park had plenty of loud noises and people shouting from the rides, but Shirou knew that voice well enough to distinguish it.
The girls were in danger.
Shinobu found herself suddenly lifted from her feet, while the world around her disappeared into a blur of acceleration. She didn't even managed to let out a noise of surprise that they suddenly stopped again.
Kanako was sitting on the ground, clearly having been pushed down, with Kaolla next to her trying to help her stand. Motoko was on her guard, though barehanded, and nearly attacked Shirou when he arrived. Naru, Kitsune and Kaolla looked more surprised than anything. However...
"Sensei, you're back," said Motoko.
"What happened?" he asked.
"Some guy just tried to kidnap Kanako-san," she explained. "I fought him off, but he managed to get away."
"She's over there, she... she was right there a moment ago. Oh, goodness... Do you think she was...?"
"ILLYA!" he called out. "ILLYASVIEL!"
But there was no answer. The snow haired maiden had disappeared into thin air.
"Nobody move," he told the other girls. "Motoko, someone's after us. Keep your guard up."
"Sensei, your hand is bleeding. Were you attacked?"
"Yes. They might still be here. Don't worry about me."
"Emiya, what's happening?" asked Naru, as and the other girls huddled closer to him.
"I don't know yet, but Illya has disappeared."
A moment later, a beep from his cellphone warned him that he had received a message. He pulled it out of his pocket while a cold hand gripped his heart. He already knew who could message him with this timing.
'Don't call the police or she dies.' it read. 'More instructions will follow.'
The photo attached was of Illyasviel, laying unconscious in the back of a car with her mouth gagged and her hands tied behind her back.
"Shirou, what is it?" asked Kitsune, seeing his expression change.
"Illya was kidnapped," he replied. "Let's go back right now. Motoko, watch out. These people are trained and dangerous."
"Shouldn't we call the police?" Kitsune asked. In response, Shirou handed over his phone to her. "Oooh, fuck. Fuck. What are you going to do?"
"For now, we must return home. It's not safe here. Too many people to watch out for. Stay close and don't get separated no matter what happens."
"Are… are we going to be fine?" asked a fearful Shinobu.
"I'm not letting any of you be harmed," he promised.
Together, they slowly made their way out of the amusement park. It took them less than half a hour to extricate themselves from the crowd, but it felt like a week, especially for the frightened girls.
Shirou's guard was up at all times, ready to reach at the first sign of hostility. However, nothing else happened and they successfully got out of the park. They avoided the dangers of public transportation by crowding a single taxi. The driver tried to protest, since he couldn't legally carry that many people but a single glare from Shirou silenced him up.
The return trip was short, and the taxi sped away as soon as they got off, without even bothering about the money.
However, rather than going back to the inn, they stopped midway at Haruka's tea house, which was void of customers as per usual
Shirou unceremoniously slammed the door open, making Haruka jump in surprise and nearly drop her cigarette.
"Shirou, what kind of manners are… Whoa, what happened? You look ready to kill someone."
"Illya was kidnapped," he said shortly, as he ushered the girls inside.
"Wait, what? Did you call the police?"
"Of course not. They already threatened to kill Illya if I do. I don't doubt they'll follow through if I did."
"Why are you so certain?" she asked. "A dead hostage is not a good way to get a ransom."
"Because it's not money they are looking for. It's me they want," he said, holding up his wounded hand. "They only took Illya because they failed to kill me on the spot."
"Hot damn," said Kitsune. "Who are these people?"
"I don't have clue," he replied.
"What do you mean you don't have clue? You must have an idea of who you have pissed off enough to make them come after y… oh."
"What? What is it?" asked Naru.
"He's on too many people's shit list to know whose hit list he's also made it on."
Shirou did not refute that statement since it was accurate. Too accurate for comfort. However, he felt that something was off.
"This isn't right," he said. "I mean, you are not wrong, but it's not that simple."
"What do you mean?" asked Kitsune.
"They failed," he said as if it explained it all
"I'm not sure I follow," said Haruka.
"The people who'd want me dead know all too well how difficult it is to put me down. That's why they don't try it. More importantly, they took Illya. The Einzbern have connections. Anyone who'd put a hand on Illya now that she'd the head of the family would find themselves dealing with more pressure than they could hope to deal with."
"Well, they still took her, didn't they?" objected Naru.
"That just means they don't know who she is," said Kitsune. "And I assume that if you were trying to kill someone as tough as Shirou, you'd want to know which is the best way to do that. That includes figuring out through whom they could get to him."
"Precisely. That means it's not Emiya Shirou who they were trying to kill," concluded Shirou.
"But you just said…"
"Urashima Keitaro," concluded Kitsune "That's who they were after."
"Yes, that's the conclusion I got to," agreed Shirou. "Which begets the question, who has it out for a man who has been out of the picture for twenty years? Do you know the answer to that question, Haruka-san? Kanako?"
The two dark haired woman did not look at him. Haruka was staring out of the window and Kanako was firmly looking down at her feet, while she twisted her hand.
"I'm sorry, I…"
"Does it have something to do with the reason why you want to marry me so badly?"
"Shirou," intervened Haruka. "Kanako is a victim in this."
"I'm not blaming her. I don't care about blaming anyone. It's fine if she doesn't want to explain either. I just need to know if I'm right. Is this about me being an Urashima?"
"Yes," admitted Haruka. "With your passing, the matter of who would inherit the fortune of the Urashima conglomerate had become a… matter of contention. Over the years things had been more or less resolved but…"
"But I came back from the dead."
"Yes. And someone clearly thought it would be better to send you back to them."
"I don't give a damn about the Urashima inheritance. They can have it for all I care."
"Unfortunately, that's not for you to decide," said Haruka.
"If not me, then who?" he asked.
"Granny Hina," answered Haruka.
"Then let's just tell her that I give up on it!" he protested.
"Wonderful idea. Too bad that she disappeared."
"What? When? Where?" asked Narusegawa, slamming her hands to the table. The other girls too look even more alarmed then they already were.
"I don't know. Nobody in the Urashima family seems to know. She boarded on a plane during her trip and didn't come down when it landed."
"Are you telling that she's disappeared mid-flight?" asked Shirou.
"Either that or she made her tracks disappears. Security footage, custom records… all gone."
Shirou rubbed his face wearily
"Alright. Alright. This matter can wait. That's not important right now. What I need to know is if you have any clue as to where they might have taken Illya."
"What are you going to do if you knew?" asked Haruka. "Would you go get her back?"
"You already know the answer to that question. Do you know where she could be or not?"
"I don't... I don't, but I could try to find out. If these people are working for someone inside the family, I might try to pull a few strings. The problem is that I don't know if I'll make it in time for it to be of any use."
"Well, in any case," he began, only to be interrupted by his phone ringing again. Another message had arrived. He quickly opened it. It was an address, followed by a single line.
'Midnight. Come alone or she dies.'
He didn't read it out loud, but there was no need to.
"Shirou, if you go, they'll kill you," said Haruka, surmising what the message was about without even reading it.
"I know. Still, I have to go. If I don't show up, they kill Illya instead."
"I'm coming along," said Motoko. "I'll get my sword."
"No, you'll stay put," he replied. "I don't need to put another life at risk over my own."
"I'll knock you out if I must, Motoko. You are not good enough to stop me, yet."
"Are you just going to walk into a trap with no backup and with no plan?" asked Kitsune.
"I didn't say anything about not having a plan, did I?"
"This is crazy!" said Naru. "We really should call the police."
"I… I agree with Naru-senpai," said Shinobu timidly.
"That's not good. If we do that, they'll know right away," said Kitsune.
"Yes, that's probably the case," agreed Shirou, now eyeing the brunette with a different look. "These people got away with kidnapping a girl from a crowded amusement park. They must have someone inside the police covering for them.
"This… this is ridiculous. Ridiculous," shrieked Naru. "I didn't come to the Hinata-sou to be involved in these things. I… I… don't want to have anything to do with it or… or with you," she said, pointing her finger accusingly at Shirou.
"Yes, that's probably for the best," agreed Shirou amiably. "But I suggest you don't return to the inn for the time being. Haruka-san, do you mind keeping them somewhere safe until this matter is resolved? I'd hate it if I rescued Illya only to find that someone else was taken."
"Of course. There's a safe place they can stay until you come back, but Shirou…"
"What is it, Haruka-san?"
"Even if you manage to rescue your sister, they'll keep coming after you."
"It's okay. I've just to make sure they won't involve anyone else ever again," he replied.
"And you've got ways to do that?" she asked.
"I can be pretty convincing when I put myself to it."
"... alright. I'll look into finding where they keep Illyasviel."
"Thank you. That's all I could ask for."
"Just like that," she sighed. "You are not going to ask anything else about the Urashima? About the reason why Kanako wants you to marry her?"
"Would that help finding Illya sooner?" he asked.
"I don't think so," Haruka answered.
"Then it can wait until she feels like telling me. I don't need to know why someone needs help for me to give it."
"It's fine. Just stay put until this issue is over. We can talk later."
Having said that, Shirou headed back to the door.
"Wait a minute. Where are you going?" asked Kitsune. "It can't already be time to meet the kidnappers. It's still day outside."
"You are right. I've got until midnight before I have to show up."
"Then where the heck are you going?"
"... I need to know the layout of the place before going in. Also, I have my own contacts to call upon. If these people think they can just put their hands on Illya and get away with it, they've got another thing coming."
"Shirou, what do you plan on doing?" asked Haruka.
"Only to make a point that some things are off limits" he answered, before walking out of the door without looking back.
Shirou marched down the stairs like a man with a purpose. A line that no one was allowed to step upon had been blatantly crossed. It appeared that his reputation wasn't yet big enough to keep safe the people around him.
That was something that needed fixing without a moment's delay.
Once he got far enough from the teahouse, he pulled out his phone, dialing a number from memory. It rang several times before the person on the other side picked up.
"Hey, Rider. Something happened. Would you like to go on a hunt? … The prey? They prey is human, this time."
Some people simply didn't know how much of a mess they were getting themselves into, but they would find out very soon.
AN: Shit is about to go down.