Disclaimer: Remilia is not a role model. And this is going to be bloody.
Remilia gazed up at the crimson moon from the balcony of her mansion. It had been some time... centuries in fact, since she'd last seen the moon in all it's splendor and madness. The crisp autumn air cooled her body with each breath. The wind shifted causing the leaves to rustle in the same familiar way. Yes, tonight was like that one imperishable night. A night of wonder, and excitement, anger, and above all else...
She shook her head sharply to clear the memories. There were some things she didn't want to remember. Not yet.
"Did a mosquito bite you, big sister?"
Remilia looked across the small table to where her younger sister was sitting. Flandre seemed utterly unconcerned with all the little details that were dragging Remilia into the past. Then again, Flandre's situation had changed a lot since those happy days. In Flandre's case, it was all for the better. Perhaps it was telling that as the world went to hell Flandre found a place in it.
She shook her head again. "It's nothing," she replied. "I merely find myself somewhat nostalgic now and then. I think it's a side effect of torpor." She grinned. "Some snacks should wake me up just fine."
Flandre's smile grew. "Ah right! Snacks! Juri should bring some by soon. And Flopsy should be making some as well."
"That moon rabbit?" Remilia raised an eyebrow. "Has she stopped shivering at the sight of blood?"
"I have no idea!" Flandre giggled. "I really wanna see what she makes!"
"Hmph," Remilia leaned back in her chair. "I hope she provides something of worth. Juri cooks to your tastes. Not mine."
Flandre giggled again. "Because she's my maid." Remilia did her best to ignore the sting those words caused. "Ah, but I did remind her that you liked rare stuff, so she'll probably make some special sweets for you."
"Good." Remilia looked away, out into the gardens. The colors of the leaves weren't visible in the moonlight, but the moon itself glowed pleasantly in the fountain, and several small plants glowed with their own light. After a few minutes tracing the patterns she decided Huian had planted them, probably at Marisa or Alice's request. While the young girl had Meiling's prejudice towards Chinese herbalism, she was more willing to bow to the magicians' requests. She tried to figure out what Feng Shui pattern Huian was creating with the plants, but she gave up after a while. She'd learned a lot from Meiling about martial arts forms, but her vampiric heritage kept her mastering chi where blood wasn't concerned.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the clatter of china. Remilia looked back towards the door to see Juri standing there, with Flopsy standing behind her. Apparently Flopsy hadn't mastered the art of walking silently with silverware. "Lady Flandre, Lady Remilia. The tea is ready."
Remilia raised an eyebrow as two tea kettles were placed on the table. "You let her make tea?"
Juri smiled as Flopsy shuffled nervously. "Just the tea itself. I added your normal mixers." Remilia nodded in understanding. Tea preparation was one of the hardest jobs in the kitchen. Adding the blood properly was a fine art. However before that stage, it was just normal tea.
Still, she grabbed the kettle Juri indicated as her own. She'd let Flandre test the rabbit girls cooking.
Her little sister, on the other hand, happily poured herself a cup from the rabbit's pot, and grabbed one cookie from each of the piles of sweets on the table. Remilia watched carefully as Flandre sipped the tea.
Remilia carefully concealed her smile as Flandre grimaced. "Ugh. This is bad." Flandre casually flung the cup off the balcony. Flopsy held the serving tray against herself as a shield as Flandre's smile twitched dangerously. "Juri, you need to teach Flopsy better. Otherwise she's good for nothing but stew." Remilia was about to comment on the cup when she realized there'd been no sound of it breaking. Juri had probably caught it with one of her dolls.
She decided to adopt an air of disdain. The little moon rabbit's terror was amusing, but she didn't want to break the girl. "I told you the moon rabbits were only one step above fairies. You shouldn't leave anything more important then cleaning to them." She carefully sipped her own tea.
As the flavors hit her tongue she was struck with another wave of nostalgia. The tea was so very close to perfect. She remembered the years spent refining this taste. How they'd tried method after method to get the flavor just the way she wanted it. Tweaking the timing, the leaves, the temperature, even the china it was served in and the spoon it was stirred with. Juri's tea was so close to the perfection they had created together. It was just a touch too salty. The way Flandre liked it.
Remilia set the cup aside and grabbed a third cup from the tray. "What are you doing big sis?" Flandre asked as she began to pour from Flopsy's pot.
Remilia ignored the gazes of the other three women. "I'm trying this tea to see what the fuss is about." When she was finished pouring she sniffed the liquid, then sipped.
It was bad, just like Flandre said. It would be passable for some destitute family on the streets, but a noblewoman expected more from her tea. She could taste only the faintest hint of her old recipe for red tea in it. It was possibly as far away from what Sakuya had once made as you could get while still having drinkable tea.
"Terrible," she commented. "You used boiling water instead of near boiling water, and you didn't clean the pot well enough. In addition you let it cool too much afterwards, and your whisk use is terrible." Flopsy seemed to shrink even more at the commentary. "Given how bad this is I'll leave Juri to test the baking." She grabbed a cookie and began nibbling on it, grimacing every time she sipped the tea. At least she was getting some pleasure off the stupefied looks on the faces of the others.
"Are you okay there sis?" Flandre waved her hand back and forth across Remilia's vision.
Remilia ignored her sister's antics. "Perfectly fine." She sat up a little more as a thought occurred to her. "Though I do think we need more maids. Perhaps start recruiting the fairies once again."
Flandre grimaced. "Those fairies are no fun anymore. I don't want any of em." She wrapped an arm around Juri's waist. "I have the best maid right here anyway!" Juri smiled and patted the vampire girls head.
"Feh," Remilia sipped her tea and frowned again. "Well, I need some servants of my own. I'm willing to share the mansion, but I refuse to share a maid."
"But fairies are useless, sis." Flandre pointed out. "Even the smart ones don't care about serving anyone other than themselves."
Remilia sighed. "True." Then she smiled. "So give me that one." She pointed at Flopsy, who jumped and squeaked again.
Flandre pouted. "The rabbit? But I caught her first!"
"Huian caught her," Remilia stated. "And besides, don't you already have the best maid?"
"Hm..." Flandre closed her eyes and frowned deeply, before looking at Remilia again. "Fine. But you can't break her permanently. If you can't train her I want her back. And Juri's head mead no matter what!"
"A fair deal, sister." Remilia smiled broadly. She drained her cup, choking a bit on the dregs before turning to the little rabbit girl. "Alright then little girl. We're going to teach you how to make tea properly from the very beginning. Screw this up and I'll have your ears again."
The moon rabbit looked like she was about to faint, but she managed something like a bow. "Y-y-y-yes lady Remilia."
Remilai chuckled. This would prove to be amusing. "Right. Follow me, quickly now. If I get hungry again before you cook me a real meal I'll have to settle for something else."
"Yes mistress!" Flopsy replied as she almost ran towards the kitchen.
Remilia finished the last page of the manga novel and set it aside with a sigh. It had been one of Koakuma's collection, a ridiculous harem comedy of little merit. Normally she'd have dismissed the entire concept as beneath her, but to be honest the story wasn't utterly terrible. She'd found herself drawn more and more to different things these days. Besides she wanted something to distract her from how poorly Flopsy was doing in the kitchen, despite her guidance.
She stood and began walking towards the shelf to grab the next volume. Ever since her waking she'd found herself lingering more and more in the library. Flandre preferred the halls quiet and still, with only Juri at her side. Remilia had always enjoyed the bustle of a full mansion, and the library had become the closest thing to that. Voile was still quieter then her mansion had ever been, but Patchouli and her family lent it a feeling of presence. And the occasional visits of that Renko girl really brought the place to life. She could almost forgive Koakuma for stealing away her best friend.
"Oi, Remi. Didn't think you'd be looking at these books," came a familiar voice from her left.
Remilia turned to face Marisa. The magician girl still had her carefree air about her, though her smile was less mocking then it had been back when she was an intruder instead of a resident of the mansion. Of all the three Marisa had changed the least outwardly. It both annoyed and amused Remilia, which was also par for the course with Marisa.
"I wanted to see if they'd improved in the three hundred years since I went into torpor. They didn't, but I find myself very bored these days." Remilia replied. "I'm surprised you aren't bored out of your mind as well, since the world seems to treat your little thefts much more harshly than they did back when we first met."
"Yeah, people are so touchy these days," Marisa replied cheerily. "Still I've gotta lot more land to roam around now. And a buncha new targets that deserve what they get. You should go out and have some fun too Remi. It's a whole new world for mankind, witches, and underage vampires."
"Hm..." Remilia felt a strange tug inside at those words. She felt her eyes warm as she called on her oldest power. "Speak ye of beginnings, youngest of the Norns? Whose fate doth lie on the path ye see?"
Marisa's golden eyes sharpened until they almost reflected the light, while her visage darkened. "You know I hate it when you call me that Remilia. And that's your power. Not mine."
"You called upon that aspect Marisa," Remilia pointed out softly. "It's not my fault you three trigger my ability now."
"Doesn't mean you have to bring it up all the time," Marisa retorted. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and sighed. "Anyway, you know no one can see your fate except Flandre, so that should answer your question. You want more, you'll have to go bounce your power off Alice. I've done my part, which means I don't have to play puppet anymore."
Remilia shrugged as she put the book away. "You're too much of a do gooder to not give me hints like that anyway, Marisa." She smiled. "Still I owe you some thanks. Remind me to tell you where I hid some old items in the outside world. It should be little trouble for you to acquire those treasures with your current skills."
Marisa's face lit up at that. "Hm? Must be some interesting things if you didn't bring them with you. I'll hold you to that." The black white witch waved as she headed out. "Anyway I gotta look into something for a friend so I'm out. Try not to kill too many people, Remi."
Remilia waved the comment away. "Of course, of course." She turned and headed deeper into the library. It was time to talk to Alice.
She found Alice in one of the studies that had popped up in the ever expanding library. As usual, she was stitching together another set of dolls. The puppeteer gave her a polite nod before returning to her needlework.
Remilia had always looked favorably on Alice. While she'd questioned Patchouli's other suitors, Alice had seemed like a perfect choice. Not only was Alice's handiwork impressive to Remilia's refined tastes, the woman's skill in her chosen field was something that Remilia admired. For a human to surpass a vampire in anything deserved respect and Alice's masterful dexterity was something that even Remilia looked on with wonder. Remilia had even decided to learn something of the art of puppeteering herself in her free time, though she was only a dabbler.
In addition the woman had a pleasant temperament. While someone close like Marisa or Patchouli (or much as she hated to admit it, Koakuma) could rile her up and cause her passions to hail down on those unfortunate enough to be around her, normally the woman was polite and refined. Thus, they got along swimmingly. And while both of them had issues with people who were stronger than them, neither of them really felt a need to clash. Remilia was well aware Alice was manipulating the mansion politically, and she was perfectly happy to let the girl do so, so long as Alice acted behind the scenes. That was one of the reasons she felt safe leaving things to Flandre.
She sat down on one of the soft couches and watched Alice work until the magician reached a stopping point. "That's a very nice doll. It looks like you might be able to animate it fully. I heard that you'd stopped doing that though."
Alice nodded again. "Yes. After Shanghai and Hourai left the nest again I decided I wanted to focus on my biological children for a while. When they finally decide to set up their own families I'll look into making more children."
"Hmph. That may take a while with Juri," Remilia noted with a frown. She agreed with Marisa that the Juri's obsession with the head maid position and Flandre was a poor choice.
"Kirisame family curse," Alice replied with a resigned shrug. "Best not to fight it." Remilia snorted but didn't press the point. "In any case," Alice continued, "Gensoukyo wasn't really the best place for children until recently anyway. Now that things are improving maybe I'll reconsider. Still, I have time."
"True. Time is a wonderful luxury." Remilia hesitated as the memory of that last letter flashed through her mind. Shaking her head she quashed the rebellious thought. "In any case! Something is afoot." She felt her eyes heat up again. "I seek that which ye know weaver. The patterns that form and warp."
Alice raised an eyebrow, then closed her eyes. "You are the master of two things. One more then the other. When they align, you shall find your path in this world again, little dead princess."
Remilia chewed her lip at the magician's words trying to figure out the meaning behind them. The first was obviously fate. The second...? "That rabbit Flopsy? How could that stupid rabbit teach me anything?"
Alice shrugged and picked up her needle and thread again. "Sorry. This is your power, not mine. I hope you figure it out though. I've overheard your sister thinking up ideas to break you out of your introspection."
Remilia winced at that. Flandre's help usually ended in missing limbs. "Thank you for the warning." She stood and curtsied. "And for the advice. Though I do wonder why you take this matter much better than Marisa and Patchy do?"
Alice smiled and looked up from her needlework. "Sometimes it's fun to pretend not to be Alice."
Remilia curtsied again and left. She knew what it meant to be someone beyond yourself. It would be nice to have a break.
She wandered towards the heart of the library. Patchy would understand her.
Remilia had nearly slumped all the way out of her chair. Patchouli was her oldest and closest friend now, but the magician girl was her own woman, as always. Never one to leave an experiment, she hadn't even given Remilia a nod of recognition when she'd entered. The only sign that Patchouli had noticed Remilia's presence at all was that she started summoning Koakuma to do the parts of the experiment that required leaving the small work area.
It was comfortably familiar, yet boring. She had half a mind to just bust up whatever Patchy was doing. Unfortunately she needed Patchouli in an understanding mood.
Finally Patchouli stoppered the beaker she was working with, coughed a bit, then looked over at her. "How nice to see you Remi. Did you want to talk about something in particular, or just chat?"
"Yes" Remilia replied shortly. She forced herself to sit upright in her chair. "I came to ask you about an ending, and then annoy you for three times as long as you left me waiting."
"Very well. I can accept that." Patchouli sat down in the chair across from her. "So what ending."
Remilia's eyes burned again. "I seek an ending to the current tale of myself and my servant. Tell me where the thread ends, eldest of the Norns."
"The thread ends in blood, as it always does for you vampire." Patchouli said shortly. "It is your choice whose blood it shall be."
Remilia slumped again. "Damn. This is useless!" She sighed. "I should have known better than to try using my power on myself."
Patchouli blinked. "Do you even know what you're trying to do? Or why Flopsy matters?"
"That was the point of me asking," Remilia whined. "I don't even know anything about the girl other then she was sent here as the worst messenger ever."
"I see." Patchouli picked up a book from a stack next to her and began pretending to read. Remilia sat up. This was when Patchy did her best thinking. "Remi... this really isn't about Flopsy, is it?"
Remilia closed her eyes slowly. She didn't want to say it aloud, but since it was Patchouli... "No."
Patchouli's eyes floated up over the spine of the book. "Remi... you can't change the past. They're gone. You have to rebuild your life without them."
"Rebuild my life?" Remilia opened her eyes and stared up at the ceiling. "I don't know if I have a life to rebuild."
Patchouli lowered her book. "Remi..."
Remilia's gaze fell to the polished floors. "I won, you know. I broke the chains of fate. The chains only Flandre could see. The ones that broke her mind in the end. We were all supposed to die. It was fate." Patchouli nodded quietly. Remilia had never told her best friend straight out the truth that had helped drive Flandre mad, but everyone had guessed it eventually.
Her eyes closed again and she slumped back. "And now I don't know what to do. What path does the All Father have with Loki redeemed and sitting atop Asgard? What truth is there in a world without Ragnarok? Where do I go when the sagas are cut off, when what I had driving me is gone?" She looked straight at Patchouli. "You're the only one left Patchy. And even you have changed. But I'm still the same girl I was before."
They sat there in silence for a while. Remilia felt the gloom between them slowly churn and thicken.
Finally Patchouli hid behind her book again. "Do you have to be the same girl?"
Remilia stood. It seemed there were no answers here either. "I don't know what else to be." She turned to walk away.
"Remi." She stopped. "I don't know what to say about this," Patchouli replied slowly. "But I do have one piece of advice. Talk to that rabbit girl. You're training her all wrong currently."
Remilia shifted her wings and took to the air. "I'll think about it."
"What is this nonsense?! These are worse then you made before!"
Remilia looked down at the confections with disgust. The ratio of jam to blood was all wrong. Even Flandre would find the pastries too bloody. What's worse was that the bread had been made perfectly. The stupid rabbit obviously knew how to cook. She just was messing up on the details.
Even Flopsy's cowering didn't improve her mood, which only angered her further. If she couldn't enjoy bullying lesser youkai what was the point of being awake?!
"I- I'm sorry," Flopsy was out and out shaking now. Tears were starting to form in the rabbit girl's eyes.
Remilia couldn't stand it. This wouldn't be fun even if she was in a good mood. "Oh be quiet." She hopped on one of the stools and sat down. "Pull yourself together and make me some tea. You've at least become passable at that. Nothing like Sakuya, but it's drinkable."
"Y-y-y-y-yes, mistress." Flopsy staggered over to the stove and started shakily reaching for the pot.
Remilia shook her head and groaned. "Never mind, you idiot. You'll only burn yourself like that." She hopped off the stool and started towards the liquor cabinet. She needed something stronger then tea. "I don't understand you. If you're that afraid of us killing you why don't you just run away? I sure that so called prince-"
Remilia froze when she saw Flopsy had fell to the floor. The little rabbit girl was clutching her legs to her chest rocking back and forth while tears streamed down her eyes. Her mouth moved but only tiny whimpers escaped. Mismatched ears twisted and turned on her head, listening for sounds only she could hear.
As Remilia stepped forward the girl froze, eyes looking down at the floor, like a condemned man refusing to face his executioner. Remilia shuddered at the sight. She saw it again. The broken room. The puddles and streams of blood. That one's silver hair, and the light reflecting off tears of rage, helplessness, and betrayal.
The vision passed, and Remilia found herself in the kitchen again. Flopsy's tears had stopped. Perhaps because she was too frightened to cry, perhaps because there were no more tears to be shed. "I see." Remilia blinked as tears started to form in her own eyes. Now she knew where her anger had come from.
Remilia slowly and carefully moved over to Flopsy. The rabbit girl flinched away as Remilia reached over to lift up her chin, but she was too exhausted to resist.
Remilia wished she could do this properly. To say the words that this girl needed to hear. Ask the questions properly so she could understand what was eating away at Flopsy's mind. But she couldn't. A devil could manage sympathy, but understanding... Understanding weakness was not something a vampire did. So she called upon her eyes again to hypnotize the girl.
It was surprisingly painful. Her own scarlet eyes were opposed by the lunar rabbit's crimson eyes. Reisen's eyes were much stronger, but Remilia still found herself with a headache by the time Flopsy's arms finally relaxed and ears stopped twitching.
When Flopsy had the presence of mind to look away from her in embarrassment, Remilia stepped back. She did her best to control her voice as much as possible, keeping it even. "Tell me about it."
Flopsy sniffed and clutched her legs again. Remilia was afraid for a second the girl had relapsed when she muttered. "I don't want to die."
Remilia looked down at the moon rabbit with pity. "Then why not run away? You know we won't chase you. You should know Huian at least would help you escape."
"Where?" Flopsy sobbed. "Where can I run?"
"My parents ran. They didn't want to kill people, so they ran. And, and, and the other rabbits turned them in! They were executed for not following orders." Remilia could only watch helplessly as Flopsy sniffed and panted for breath. "Why? They didn't warn the humans? They didn't try to stop the other messengers. They just didn't want to kill people! Why did they have to die for that?"
"Why?" Flopsy wailed. "And it didn't change anything! They tried to do what was right, and they got killed and no one cares! No one changed their mind, or learned to stand up for themselves or anything! The other rabbits just turned away and went back to following their masters!"
"And here I am, stuck on earth slowly losing my purity and dying because my parents were too pure to kill billions." Flopsy sniffed and wiped her eyes. "So I don't care anymore. I don't care about justice, or truth, or self-respect. I just don't want to die. That's all. That's all I want."
Remilia stood there awkwardly. What was she supposed to do? Her instincts told her to drain the little girl dry right here. To take away the pain and make a useful servant out of the rabbit, but she smothered those. Her heart told her to pet the girl and promise that everything would be okay, but that was a lie. She was a devil, and there was no way she could keep from terrifying someone as broken as Flopsy was.
With Sakuya there had been hate. A rage against the injustice of the universe and the people that named her a monster no matter what she did. Here there was nothing but fear. Flopsy knew she was powerless, both against the whims of fate and those around her.
Nothing but fear... The whims of fate...
An idea came to Remilia. A very dangerous idea, but one that fit her nature perfectly.
She felt her eyes begin to glow again, and she smiled even though her headache increased. "Very well then. We'll get back to your training later. For now take a rest. We'll meet again at midnight to talk."
Flopsy just looked up at her in confusion. Remilia sighed, then reached out with her magic and poked at a familiar mind. Dinah appeared in the room a moment later, the half devil reacting to Remilia's mini summoning. "Yes, Lady Remilia?"
"Flopsy's had a long day," Remilia said. "Could you or Huian tend to her for a bit?"
Dinah blinked at the request, but nodded. "Sure. I don't have any experiments right now so I can handle it." She walked over and lifted the little rabbit girl into her arms. "Come on. I'll teleport you to your room, so you can tell me all about it there, okay?"
Remilia sighed in relief as Dinah teleported out. The only redeeming quality of succubi was their ability to give people the companionship they required. As a half succubi, Dinah was by far the most empathetic of the SDM, meaning Flopsy was in good hands. Now Remilia could relax.
She turned back to the liquor cabinet and grabbed one of the bottles without blood in it. She didn't need to eat that badly, but hopefully alcohol could cure her headache so she could nap before the night's festivities.
Remilia flapped her wings in the moonlight. It was a wonderful night to be out and flying. The moon was nearly full, the wind was pleasantly chill, and the rustling of the leaves made the whole world seem alive, even as it was dying. Even the weight in her arms couldn't take away from her enjoyment.
"Um, mistress, I can fly on my own if it pleases you," Flopsy said. The bunny girl wriggled a little in Remilia's grip, but Remilia ignored that.
"You don't move fast enough to keep up with me," Remilia replied simply. "I wish to handle this quickly."
"Yes mistress..." Remilia could see that Flopsy desperately wanted to know what was going on, but was too scared to ask. Well soon, Remilia would fix that.
As she cleared the next hill the target of her hunt came into view. Six figures on an overgrown trail. "Excellent." Remilia murmured. She dropped down to near the ground so they wouldn't see her arrival, then landed about a thousand feet ahead of them, near a bend in the road. She let Flopsy go, then moved to the treeline.
"What are we doing, Lady Remilia?" Flopsy whispered.
Remilia pulled the rabbit girl into the darkness of the forest before answering. "These six here are bandits. Survivors of the war who heard about a land of rich fields and beautiful women surrounded by monsters. They're here to try to demand some protection money. And probably a bit more."
Flopsy blinked. "And...?"
Remilia smirked. "I am here to hunt. You are here to watch."
Remilia saw a flash of metal as the six rounded the bend. The time for waiting was over. She grabbed Flopsy by the wrist and dragged the young girl to the center of the road.
The six men of course stopped dead in their tracks. Two of them leveled rifles at her, while the rest fumbled with their weapons. Flopsy of course shrieked and dropped to the ground. "Who are you?" One of the men shouted.
"I am the Scarlet Devil." She replied cheerily. "And I've decided this road is mine. You'll have to pay the toll if you want to cross."
"Where's your parents, little girls?" one of the fools in the back laughed.
"Dead." Remilia replied sweetly as she stretched her wings out in the moonlight. "I murdered them about a thousand years ago."
"She's one of those monsters!" The man in front yelled. "Grenade!"
Remilia snickered as the fool next to the leader shakily pulled out a grenade, twisted the cap and threw it at her. She easily dashed forward and slapped the missile up into the sky. "Too easy."
"Shit!" The men all ducked as the bomb exploded in the air. The wind rushed around her as she hopped forward amongst them. Tensing her hand just like Meiling taught her, she aimed a palm trust at the closest victim. She smiled as her hand plunged into his soft belly. With a whirl she brought her other hand around, slamming her hammer fist into his ribs. There was a crack, as if she'd struck a rotting branch, and the man went flying into a tree, leaving his warm steaming entrails behind.
With a laugh she turned and tossed the stinking, greasy handful into the arms of one of the man's friends. The bandit froze in horror, giving her plenty of time to reach up, grab his throat, and rip off his head. Sweet blood splashed on her face, causing her heart to beat even faster.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw the leader move towards Flopsy's form. Perhaps to grab a hostage. Remilia hefted the skull she'd just acquired like a ball then threw it at her new target. The grisly missile struck the man in the back with another satisfying crunch, and he collapsed like a wet rag.
Suddenly pain seared through her body in a lightning flash. Looking down, she saw one of those thrice damned swords the Japanese loved so. This one had been awakened, giving it the power to injure creatures such as herself.
But it was no more than a paper cut was to a human. She reached around and ripped the blade out, then turned. The swordsman staggered back, and Remilia's nose stung with the acrid scent of his fear. She tossed the sword through his foot, then stretched both arms as far back as they could go before letting loose with a flurry of blows that left her arms stinging. The swordsman's upper body disappeared into a fine mist.
The other two bandits dropped their weapons and ran. Remilia considered them for a moment, then drew some blood off her face and flicked the droplets at them. At the touch of her power the droplets formed into spears that raced across the path, cutting the two down.
The wind gusted, sending a rustling hail of leaves over the path. Remilia nodded in satisfaction at her work, then turned and walked to where Flopsy was staring at her in shock. "Do you understand now? The power that a devil has at their command?"
She stood before the trembling rabbit girl, covered with blood and gore. "This is the world we live in. A hell of death and bloodshed. Each day we kill others to live on. God demands we follow justice and honor, then turns his back on those that do, while the corrupt rise to the top."
Once again she reached out to lift Flopsy's eyes to her face. "But we devils offer what the divine will not. We can rip apart the fabric of this tainted world and reform it to our whims. And we give our power to those who are willing to give us what we desire."
"So tell me little rabbit. What is your wish? What do you want most of all?"
Flopsy sank to her knees. "I want-" She closed her eyes tightly. "I want to live! I just want to live! I'll do anything you ask if you keep me alive!"
Remilia nodded. She reached into her mind and called up the power, shaping words and lines into her mind as Patchouli had taught her how long ago to speed up the ritual. As the spell began to form she carefully patted back the young girls hair. "Is that your wish? Will you sacrifice your soul to the devil for it? Are you willing to cast aside the purity of the moon and embrace the taint of the earth to get it? To become a monster for all time? This is your choice. I shall not penalize you either way."
Flopsy sniffed, then looked up at Remilia with the closest thing to determination that the vampire had seen on her face. "If you protect me I promise to serve you with all that I have. Even if it costs me my soul. Even if I become a monster."
Remilia closed her eyes as memories flooded in again. Silver hair, blue eyes. And a simple reply, "I offer you my body. But my soul is my own. I will become a human in death at least." Remilia smiled sadly.
"You two really are nothing alike, are you?"
Remilia turned her thoughts back to the present. With the swipe of a claw she opened up a cut on her hand, then held it over the rabbit's mouth. "Drink this, in service to me." Flopsy shuddered, but obediently caught the few drops that fell.
The young girl cried out and convulsed, but Remilia knew the spell had worked correctly. "That's my blood binding with yours. So long as I live you will share my regenerative powers. In return you must do everything I demand of you, or your very blood will turn against you."
Remilia embraced her new servant. "Your first command, above all others, is to serve me as best you see fit, even if it means disobeying my other commands."
Flopsy blinked then rose and curtsied. "As you wish, my mistress."
"Good." Remilia smiled. She felt more alive than she had since that fateful day long ago, when she'd lost Sakuya.
She straightened up. It was time to get to work building her new life. "Now Flopsy, I'm going to teach you how to clean a carcass."
"Um, won't I need a knife for that Mistress?"
"You don't have a knife on you? What were you thinking? A proper servant should have a knife on them at all times!"
"Ah, I'm sorry mistress!"
Remilia sipped the tea as Flopsy stood next to her. "Hm... Acceptable. It seems to have a certain sharpness I'm not used to."
Flopsy bowed. "Should I change the recipe again milady?"
"Hm..." Remilia considered the matter. "No, this is fine. Though I think I would not want this more than once or twice a week."
Across from her Flandre frowned. "Really sis? It's not bad, but this isn't anything like what Sakuya would ever make."
Remilia closed her eyes. "Exactly."
Sakuya. Dear, irreplaceable, Sakuya. The perfect maid. Her perfect maid. Remilia understood now. She would never find that perfection again.
But she could build a new perfection. So long as she was willing to break with her past and forge ahead.
She opened her eyes again. "I'm letting that stupid ghost borrow Sakuya for a bit, after all. So I need a maid of my own for the next four hundred years or so until I can get her back." She smirked. "Along with Meiling and that naive little gardener. After all, that ghost girl owes me."
She saw Flopsy's eyes darken a bit at that and she smiled wider. The little rabbit was getting jealous already was she? Well the girl had sold her soul to serve as Remilia's personal maid. Talking about other servants around her would annoy her.
She looked back at Flandre. "I think Flopsy here will need some leadership training for then. Why not take in a few fairy maids. Just two or three will do."
"Hm... Wouldn't other rabbits be better?" Flandre smiled at Flopsy. "You can call in some if you want right?"
"Um, I would prefer to remain the only rabbit here, Lady Flandre," Flopsy replied.
Juri nodded. "Fairies would be better for me as well, mistress. I know several charms to handle them. Devils would be best but..."
"No way." Remilia and Flandre replied in unison. The sisters exchanged a nod. Three devils under one roof was enough.
Flandre sighed. "Alright. Three fairies. And Juri has to approve all of them. And if they annoy me I make them go kyuu~!" Flandre said, squeezing her hand and making a tree pop behind Remilia.
Flopsy shivered at that, but Remilia was happy to note the little rabbit recovered almost instantly. "Good. Flopsy, make three rooms for our new servants."
The bunny girl bowed. "Yes Lady Remilia."
"Ah, and take this." Remilia reached into her pockets and handed the bemused rabbit girl a silver pocketwatch. "A badge of your office."
"Thank you, mistress!" Flopsy smiled and bowed again before bounding away.
When Flopsy was gone, Juri cleared her throat. "She seems a strange choice for that gift Lady Remilia. While the idea of a white rabbit with a pocketwatch bounding around my mother amuses me, she's hardly a spiritual successor for Miss Sakuya."
Remilia sipped her tea again happily. "You're right. She's utterly unlike Sakuya. Except for the most important point." She looked up at Juri. "She's mine."
Juri smiled at the reply. "Ah. A perfect answer. As expected from Lady Flandre's sister."
Flandre shrugged. "I don't get it sis. But whatever makes you happy."
"Indeed." Remilia looked out into the garden, unburdened by times weight. Once again the eternal child, looking for her place in the world. "Whatever makes me happy."