Dearest Louise and Henrietta, residents of Halkeginia,
You have been cordially invited to partake in tea and snacks at the majestic Scarlet Devil Mansion in Gensokyo. It is proper for residents of our land to enjoy a lighthearted get-together after the conclusion of some terrible incident, and we would be glad if you would honor our customs and attend.
I promise it's not a trap. Transportation has been arranged, if you decide to join us.
The Scarlet Devil
The table was completely silent. Henrietta and Remilia were staring directly into one another's eyes not even taking note of the slew of delicious food sitting between them. I had prepared pastries, cakes, cookies and tea, but they were going completely to waste.
"Er," Remilia started. "Thanks for showing up..." She was a little off her game, but the silence was broken at last.
Henrietta scoffed. "Louise told me of this custom of yours, but I don't get it. Am I supposed to just forgive you for everything because you treat me to tea?"
The silence continued a bit and Remilia took a sip of the tea I had prepared her. She made a sick face though and handed it to me. "Sakuya, this is cold."
"Forgive me mistress, I'll brew a fresh pot." I said, and begun to do so. We were in a large room in the Scarlet Devil Mansion dungeons. It was just as regal as the rest of the mansion, even if it was underground. Red tapestries lined the walls and fluffy red carpet stretched from wall to wall. And thanks to my spacial manipulations it was no smaller or cramped than anywhere else, albeit the air was a bit stuffy. I kept the tools to brew tea nearby so I could still participate in the discussion.
"To be perfectly honest, I didn't even realize it would be possible." Remilia said while she waited for me to finish brewing the tea. "With magic gone from Halkeginia, we shouldn't be able to contact each other. But then this woman..." Remilia cut a glance to her left, where Yakumo Yukari sat happily munching on a butter cookie.
Yukari just smiled and continued eating. However this woman's ability operates is clearly beyond my understanding. Our little tea party was a bit smaller than usual, only my mistress and I, Yukari, Reimu, Louise and Henrietta showed up. This incident seemed a bit different than Gensokyo's usual, and a large festival wouldn't be appropriate.
"How's life without magic, anyways?" Remilia asked, and leaned on her hand.
Henrietta did not respond right away, and kept the cold look on her face. There were burn scars along her cheeks from her fight with Remilia that only hardened her serious expression. Louise sat next to her shyly, and seemed a bit ashamed of something. Finally, the former queen spoke.
"Hmm?" Remilia perked up. "What do you..." My mistress covered her mouth with her hand in shock. "Oh god. I didn't even think of that."
"Wait," I said. "If Albion crashed, wouldn't that be-"
"Extremely bad." Henrietta interrupted. "That's not to mention all of the magical creatures that depend on magic to survive. Griffins, dragons, and...elves..." She looked down. "Our world truly is a different place now."
I finished the tea, and walked over to pour my mistress a fresh cup. I poured more for everyone else as well and myself, and then sat down next to my mistress. I focused on Louise and saw her hands trembling under the table. She was clearly fighting to hold back tears.
"I-I..." Louise could hardly get her words out. "I d-didn't think...I mean...at the time...I was just so caught up in the..."
"...drama?" Remilia finished for her, sipping the fresh tea I poured. She smiled softly after drinking it, and set it back down on the table. Louise looked up at her. "It was oh so very dramatic, wasn't it?" Remilia said. "The big bad evil vampire takes over the world, and the brave heroes storm her lair to save it. The story will be told for generations."
Henrietta slammed her hands onto the table and shot out of her chair. The dishes and cups rattled at the sudden force. "It's not a story," she shouted at Remilia. "Thousands died because of you. Men, women and children slain by your hand. How dare you just call it a story."
"IDIOT GIRL!" Remilia roared, rising from her chair. The rest of us fell back in shock at the sudden intimidation. "Did you ignore everything I said that day? I am Remilia Scarlet, the manipulator of fate. Everything that happened to you was written by my hand. I wrote your role as queen, I wrote the roles of your people and your soldiers, I wrote Albion into my service. I crafted myself as the villain and you as the hero, and I turned Louise to make sure nothing could go against me. You were all manipulated, you had no say in what happened. It was exactly a story!"
Henrietta's hands were shaking. Louise looked over to her friend, and laid her own palm on the back of Henrietta's shaking hands. "H-Henrietta, it was me who canceled magic. Regardless of circumstance it was my decision..."
"But if Remilia-"
Louise shook her head to interrupt her friend, and pulled out a notebook from her bag. I recognized it as the Founder's Diary. She placed it in the center of the table. Everyone leaned in to get a closer look as Louise turned it to the last page, although I couldn't make heads or tails of it.
"Umm, what does it say...?" I asked.
Louise pointed to the top of the page where some runes were written. "This part here says simply 'When all else has failed.' The rest of the page is an incantation for the spell I used. There's lots of warnings that this will kill the user and probably not work, but it was meant for a human so..." Louise looked a bit sad after uttering that last bit.
Henrietta looked a bit shocked, actually. This must be news to her. "T-The founder...crafted that...?" She said. "But that means he..." Henrietta looked over the page for a minute before she raised her eyebrows and pointed to a spot on the page. "This part says the cast time is a month of constant chanting..."
"Ku ku ku," Remilia chuckled. "The power output of a vampire truly is terrifying, is it not?"
"So despite all of that," I said to interrupt everyone, "how is Halkeginia doing?"
Henrietta brought a pastry up to her mouth and took a bite instead of answering. Louise answered instead. "It's slowly recovering..." she said. "The grass is growing and civilization is re-establishing itself." She looked like she wanted to say more, but sipped her tea instead and looked down.
"What's wrong, Miss Louise?" I asked.
She turned her head to the side. "I...because of the sun, I can't really..."
Oh. Since she's a vampire she can't properly participate in the rebuilding. She can't go out in daylight, and anyone who saw her would probably associate her with Remilia. It must be lonely for her.
"Miss Louise, I-" I started to say, but choked before I could choose my next words. "What I said in the palace that day, you can still-"
Louise shook her head back and fourth. "It may be hard, but I'm staying in Halkeginia." She said. "I can't go out with the rest of society, and I can't go out in sun, but it's still my home. It doesn't matter that the entire world would kill me on sight by my likeness to you alone—I want to be there."
Remilia placed her cup heavily on the table. "Your punishment has yet to really begun though, Louise. You're going to live a long time. A long time."
Louise looked down. "Maybe...but I'll cherish the time I have now. With Wardes...and Henrietta..." She smiled and turned to Henrietta, who smiled back. My mistress and I watched them, then turned to each other.
Yes—how could either of us expect any different?
Henrietta stood up from her chair. "I can't say I will ever forgive you for what you have done to us, Remilia." She said. "But the future of Halkeginia...perhaps it will be a bit brighter without magic to oppress us. It's the start of a new era, and those of us left can craft our own futures."
"Ara~" Yukari commented, who had been silently listening with Reimu up until this point. "That's right. Time always marches forward, or at least for most of us." Yukari cut me a quick glance. "It's best to think ahead, not wallow in the past."
Reimu clapped her hands twice loudly to gather attention. "With that," she declared, "you all better get whatever closure in you need right now because after this Halkeginia and Gensokyo will never cross paths again." At the conclusion of Reimu's speech a purple portal appeared on one of the walls of the room.
People started to stand up and it looked like the tea party was concluding. It was really short—barely any of my snacks were eaten.
"W-Wait!" I shouted. Everyone around the table turned to me. I awkwardly maneuvered around the table and approached Miss Louise. She was still much shorter than I, so I knelt when I got close. We stared at each other for a few moments, and her face blushed slightly.
I then wrapped my arms around her slim figure, careful not to bump her wings, and drew her into a final embrace. In a soft motion, I lightly kissed her cheek. I could tell her face was going beet red, and I'm fairly certain mine was as well. But I didn't care.
We pulled away from each other.
"Miss Louise, I will miss you."
Louise shuffled her feet and looked down.
And then she and Henrietta held hands, turned to us all one final time, and stepped into Yukari's portals. It was less than a second, and the portals snapped shut. Isolating Halkeginia and Gensokyo from each other for good.
Now it was just us residents of Gensokyo. The warm smiles slowly withered from all of our faces. It was my mistress who spoke up first.
Reimu held up her hand to stop Remilia from speaking. "I don't want to hear it, Remilia. You went way overboard in this whole thing. This could have ended up in another war."
"You're blowing it out of proportion," Remilia complained. "Youkai eat humans, there's nothing wrong about that."
"There's a huge difference between Rumia eating the odd wanderer and what you did over there. Was that your plan for Gensokyo when you first arrived here?"
My mistress glanced down and clutched her forearm defensively. She didn't respond.
"You're even more dangerous than your sister, Remilia. You were just better at hiding it." Reimu said coldly, and gestured for Yukari to open a portal. Reimu walked through the portal without looking back. Yukari made an apologetic gesture but then followed her out and closed the portal behind her, locking us in our very own dungeons.
Remilia stood tall for a minute, but then crumpled to her knees. I quickly went to her aid.
"Mistress, what's..." I started, but when I knelt down I saw there were tears coming from her eyes.
"S-Sakuya...do you think Reimu hates me now...?"
I hugged my mistress and brought her face close to my chest. "Don't worry mistress, I'm sure she's just in shock from getting a glimpse of the real you."
"Ha ha..." Remilia laughed halfheartedly. "The real me, huh." Remilia rolled her head on my chest until her eyes were looking up into mine. "Sakuya, maybe she's right though...because the reason I killed and oppressed so many humans in Halkeginia...I mean, I just did it because-"
"I know, mistress." I responded with a smile. Her eyes widened.
I stared into my mistress's large, red eyes. My lovely little mistress who I will gladly serve until my death. My mistress who spends days lounging around her mansion just praying for something interesting to happen. Who throws parties to desperately inject some action into her long and leisurely life. All of it takes root in that one quality I so admired in her above all others, the one quality I could never obtain. The simple, elegant and monstrous reason that explains all of her actions.
"...it was fun, wasn't it?"
The silence lasted awhile, but Remilia smiled warmly in my arms. We sat there on the red carpet of the mansion dungeons, completely alone as my pocket watched slowly ticked the hours away.
After some time, Remilia started to cry. "Sakuya," she said between sobs. "I'm trapped down here, but you don't have to be. Reimu will let you out..."
I shook my head and hugged my mistress tighter.
"There is nowhere I would rather be than with you, mistress."
Thank you for reading.