The Daily Life of a Devil's Maid
"Here. Take this, Sakuya."
"Milady, this is..."
"It's a pocket watch. And it's yours."
10 years ago, Gensokyo—
11:00:00 - Morning shift starts
I looked down at my golden pocket watch, smiling widely as it shined on the morning sun. Oh, sorry for—no, wait. Ahem. Pardon me for not introducing myself earlier. My name is Izayoi Sakuya. It's been five years since I started working here, in this deep red mansion governed by the blood-sucking devil, and yes I might be small, and a human on top of that, but I am the CHIEF maid of this infamous Scarlet Devil Mansion. Why? No, I was not abducted; it was my own decision to live with the youkai instead of my own kind. Another 'why', I see. Fu fu, of course I have my own issue.
Oh no! One minute had passed already! I had to start my work!
I exited my room and scanned through my mental notes. First task: Taking the leftovers cup and plate from milady's previous midnight snack; be extra quiet and don't disturb her sleep. With that in mind, I skipped down the mansion hallway, humming a tune to myself. Soon enough I reached my destination, and I took a deep breath in anticipation. Here I go!
I opened the door to my master's room gently, almost tiptoeing myself to her bedside table, then slowly, quietly, I started to collect the tableware one by one. Plate, then another plate, fork, cup, teaspoon—ah! My left hand shook from the weight, and the elegant porcelains cluttered, falling from the tray that was supported by my small hand; my eyes widened as the scene unfolded before me in slow motion, and I opened my mouth.
The white cup paused mid-air, a hair's-breadth away from hitting the floor and shattering into pieces. I let out the breath I'd been holding, wiping my cold sweat. That was close. I mentally scolded myself for being careless and started to put the disarrayed set back to the tray, in a more orderly manner this time. Hm? Are you shocked about something? Ah yes, the time just stopped. Don't worry, it's just my power coming into effect. That's right; even if I was a human, I had the power to govern over time. Then why I didn't stop time from the start, you say? Well, you see...
A loud tick echoed from the watch in my pocket, and right after, time resumed itself. Fortunately I had finished my previous task before any casualties happened, and once again I sighed in relief. As you can see, I couldn't control my power completely yet, or more precisely, the duration of its activation was still very short. But of course I'm getting better and better at it! Puffing my cheek childishly, I turned toward the door ready to finish my job, but before I could even take a step, a voice entered my ears.
The voice was muffled, almost gibberish, and it caught my attention; it sounded so much like a sob. Instinctively I turned toward the source, and found something that I thought I shouldn't have seen. My vampire mistress was there, hugging herself into a ball, her body shivered as she cried in her sleep. I froze from the unlikely situation before me, unsure of what I had to do; it was very different from the usual image I had of her whenever she's awake, so I could only stand there in shock, eyes wide and mouth agape. Was she having a nightmare? My curiosity perked and I edged closer to her bed, trying to get a better hearing at her sleeptalk; they were mostly inaudible, and barely above whispers, but finally, I caught a glimpse of some words.
"It's all my fault... I'm sorry... I'm sorry...Flandre..."
Flandre? Who is—
DONG! DONG! DONG!
I yelped as the loud sound of the clock tower startled me and I promptly stopped time; without looking back, I hugged the dirty dish to my chest and ran as fast as I could from the room, only stopping my dash once I reached the kitchen, trying to catch my breath as I fell to my knees. I didn't even realize when time started to resume, but I hoped the other maids didn't catch any sight of me panicking. But rather than that, what have I done? I just eavesdropped on my master! That was a very unproper behavior for a maid. I tried to calm myself and reformed my posture, putting the dishes on the sink.
I replayed the previous event in my head as I turned the water faucet, lost in thought. Flandre... Who is she? Why does that name...sound familiar? I'm sure I haven't heard it before, but... Drip, drip, drip—wait, what's that sound? I blinked back to reality only to found the sink in front of me had overflowed; I instantly reached for the faucet and turned it off, before sighing to myself. I should really stop spacing out.
12:00:00 - Afternoon shift
I walked down the identical, yet now easy to distinguish, red corridor of Scarlet Devil Mansion, a cup filled with black tea in hand. Next task: Bringing lady Patchouli her afternoon tea. This time, I would finish my job perfectly and with elegance; I took a deep breath as the entrance to the great library came into view and proceeded to knock on it. There was no response, as usual. One, two, three; after three seconds I opened the huge double oak door and stepped inside, a silly little rule I made myself. So far it always worked, but today seemed to be full of surprises.
"SA~ KU~ YA~ CHAAAN~~"
I stood there, a clearly unamused look plastered on my face. Now then, who is she? There was a girl, about the same age as mine, red hair and black little wings sprouted from her head, lunging herself at me; if I didn't stopped time just now she would have crushed me under her weight by now. Is she an intruder? I reached for my knife, but then quickly stopped myself as I caught the look of a certain witch sitting at the round table behind her, peacefully reading a thick book. Hmmm. Lady Patchouli didn't seem troubled by her appearance. Maybe I'll let this strangers off for now. I walked passed the frozen little devil and stood in front of the table, before resuming the time once more.
A loud thud could be heard from behind me, followed by a yelp; I ignored them and put the tea down the witch's table.
"Oh, Sakuya. It is time for an afternoon tea, already?"
"Yes, Patchouli-sama. Today I brew some Earl Grey—"
"Don't ignore me..."
I paused mid-sentence and turned to the source of the voice that was the strange girl, her face red from the impact from her previous outburst. I blinked once, then twice, oblivious of her intention. In accordance, her expression turned from a pout to a full out bawling. I flinched.
"Uwaaah, don't just ignore me after I greet you!"
She cried and ran toward lady Patchouli, burying her face on the witch's long robe, earning a sigh from the purple magician.
"Stop crying, Koakuma."
"But, but, lady Patchouli.. I greet her and welcome her but she... She's such a meanie!"
Since when it became my fault? I puffed my cheek again and crossed my arms, glaring at the crybaby imp; looks like on top of being a maid, I was still a child at heart. Lady Patchouli nudged her temple as she observed our behaviors, clearly wasn't accustomed to dealing with little kids like us. Still, she tried her best.
"Sakuya, this is Koakuma. She is my familiar that I summoned to be your playmate."
I whined a bit too loud for myself.
"Yes. For now I let her growth to match that of a human so you can develop social awareness around creatures with similar physical and mental capacity as you. Besides, Remi told me to help you feel at ease around here, so I guess socializing with friend from the same age group is the best way; at least that's how I read from a book."
"But lady Patchouli, I don't need a playmate! I'm not a kid anymore!"
She raised a brow at me, giving me a skeptical look, and I pouted. Okay, maybe I am still one. But I'm the chief maid of Scarlet Devil Mansion! I have no time playing around! The magician didn't seem to take any interest in arguing with me, so she returned her attention back to her book.
"What is happened, happened. Now Sakuya, I have an errand for you. Koakuma, if you please."
The little devil rubbed the tears off her face, a determined look replacing them. She nodded and ran to the deeper end of the library; I took her action as a cue and followed her half-heartedly, but tried to put my childish ego after my job. I saw her climbing one of the huge bookshelves, disappearing into it, before returning back outside with a piece of paper. She climbed down and showed me the paper.
"Um, this is... a list of items Pathouli-sama need. She want you to go to the human village and get it."
I took it from her hand and she jumped, quickly retracting her hand away from me, as if she was scared. I gave her a strange look, before I noticed the red mark on her face, and I sighed to myself. Maybe I was a bit too harsh just now.
"Are you okay? Did you hit your nose when you fell?"
She seemed to have taken aback by my sudden kindness, and she shook her head frantically.
"No, I... Um, I'm a familiar so this much is..."
"It's alright, it was my fault. Will you forgive me?"
"No, no, I was the one that suddenly jump at you! I'm the one that should apologize, so—"
We both grew silent, staring at each other, before breaking into a laugh at the same time.
"I guess we're both at fault."
"Ha ha, yeah. Um, so, Sakuya-chan... will you... be my friend?"
I stared at her for a while, before finally giving her my true smile.
"Of course, Koakuma-san."
"Um, just Koa is fine."
"Okay. Nice to meet you, Koa. Let's do our best together."
We shook hands and gave each other our best smile. I guess, maybe having a playmate wouldn't be bad afterall.
12:30:00 - Lady Patchouli's errand
I sighed loudly as I reached the edge of the human village, suddenly feeling irritated for no reason. Well, I had a lot of bad memories here, so that's to be expected. Let's just hurry up and go home. I tread down the village's road with a frown, avoiding people as much as I can, taking another glance at the list of items. Hmmmm. Eye of newt? Earth-spider's webbing? What are those? Well, there's some herbs that I knew, but most of them were...unusual. What store sold such things? The only one came into my mind was the Kirisame general store I once visited long long ago, since from what I remembered they have the biggest variations in term of products, so I tried my luck there.
The shop was still the same as how I remembered, simple and had a traditional look to it. I entered the store and asked for the shopkeeper, but who answered me wasn't the same old man I met five years ago, but a little girl around my age, with messy blonde hair and a bored look on her face.
"Yeah, yeah, Kirisame general store here. Whaddya need?"
What an attitude. I tried not to put another scowl on my already bad mood and handed her the errand paper in silence; the girl took it roughly and read it, before suddenly her eyes lightened like she just found a treasure. She jumped down the counter she was sitting on and grinned, eyes still glued on the paper.
"These are ingredients for witchcraft! Whoa, you're super lucky I'm watching the shop today! I can get them from my collection—"
She stopped herself, excitement suddenly drained from her face, and I blinked at her strange behavior. The blonde girl sighed and ruffled her messy hair, before handing me back the paper.
"Sorry, we don't have 'em at our store."
"Huh? But you just said—"
"I said don't have it!"
She roared and returned to the counter, taking a book to hide her face behind it, probably pouting by now. That was one incredible mood swing. I actually wanted to shout back at her but I held myself; a chief maid had to be elegant at all time, so I simply coughed to get her attention.
"So, you don't have these items?"
"No. What do you need 'em for anyway? Strange; I can't have missed an oddball like you at school."
I almost snickered at her statement, but once again, I resisted. Remember: Elegance.
"A friend of my master need them for her witchcraft. Oh, and of course you won't notice me at school, because I DON'T go there. I work at a devil's mansion outside the village."
The girl dropped her book and stared at me with wide eyes, and oh how hard for me to hold myself from giggling at her shocked expression.
"You... You're a youkai?"
"No, I am a human."
"Wha—a human!? And you live with youkai?"
I nodded, and she sank on her seat, dumbfounded. After a while, she suddenly laughed, ruffling her hair once again. Her mood swing was indeed very amazing. I waited until she finished her fit before speaking again.
"Was something funny?"
"Nah, it's just— you see— ...oh well, maybe I can tell you."
She gave me a troubled look and I simply stared, waiting for her to continue.
"You see, I'm... interested in magic. I have a friend, a shrine maiden friend, and by the way she's hella strong. You may not believe it too but we've gone through many adventures, kicking some bad guy's ass and saving the world. All those time I was getting more and more obsessed in magic, but you see, magic is a youkai thing. And my pops don't like it. The villagers don't like—hell, every humans I met don't like it! But I... I love magic! So I... I don't know what to do..."
I tried to process the girl's outburst, filtering what's real and what's not, but all I got was a simple temper tantrum. So I sighed, and turned away, proceeding to exit the shop.
"Oh well, thanks for your time. I'll be leaving then."
"Wait, you don't believe me? You don't believe me, right?"
I stopped on the doorway, giving her another glance.
"Frankly, I don't know how much of your talk is real, but if your love for magic is real, then I don't know what's your problem."
"Wha—how can you say that! You don't know how it feels to be different! To be looked down because of your strange power; to be seen like a monster even though you're just a human like them!"
Oh, I've known that feeling. Maybe a lot more than you. I held the urge to say those words, instead, I gave her a smile, a fake smile I started to learn lately.
"That's not of my concern. And well, if you really hate the village that much, why don't you just left? But once again, this is not my place to say anything. So, if you please excuse me."
With that I left the shop, somehow feeling so satisfied. I had said what I wanted to say, now, back to my errand. Where else could I probably get these things?
What now? I gave another glance behind and saw the magician wannabe clutching the door to Kirisame store tightly.
"I have them."
"..can you make up your mind already? Unlike you, I'm very busy."
"Today's special; I'll sell them to you. Just...to you."
I sighed. Well, maybe I'll give her one more chance; she better be serious, before my hand got itchy for knives. I turned around and handed her the shopping list that she once again glued her eyes on. But then, she offered her hand to me, a cocky grin on her face.
"The name's Marisa. Kirisame Marisa; just your ordinary magician, well, 'gonna be' for now."
I smiled and took her hand in mine, returning her handshake.
15:00:00 - Back to Scarlet Devil Mansion
I stared. I stared and stared and stared. And then, I glared. But the scenery didn't change. I just returned from an errand, and what did I find?
Aah, there's a slacker... A slacker's sleeping in front of mansion's gate... I wonder what punishment should be given? I snickered and reached for my knife, my smile stretched from ear to ear.
I called the gatekeeper's name in a sing-song voice; as if feeling my killing intent, or maybe she did feel it with her chi detector thingy, the chinese youkai woke up, and jumped as she was met with my glaring blue eyes. She stuttered.
"Sa-sa-sakuya-chan~ Welcome back! What a nice weather today—uh, what's that knife for?"
"Nothing. I thought I just found a perfect target for my practice. You see, maybe something like a log sleeping in front of the mansion's gate?"
She let out an awkward laugh, before bowing deeply.
"I'm very sorry. I won't slack off again."
I let out a simple 'hmph' and proceeded inside, catching something like 'Boo-hoo, Sakuya-chan has become so scary...' and ignored her. It's her own fault! While I worked hard inside the mansion, she kept on slacking outside. Hmph. I was the one who got disappointed! She was nothing like the image I looked up to when I first met her!
Putting my little rant aside, I soon found myself back in front of the library's entrance and did my usual 'wait three seconds after knocking before entering' ritual, but this time, Koakuma opened the door for me. She looked delighted to see me and promptly dragged me in, telling me to wait near lady Patchouli's favorite reading spot; I took note that the purple magician was nowhere in sight and took the liberty to sit on a chair, taking a little breather. I gave the little familiar a curious stare as she took the 'grocery' bag away and disappeared into library's depth, before returning in a flash, all the while with a huge excited grin on her face. I knew that look; I had seen it a lot whenever I was with the mistress. It was the look of mischief.
I chuckled despite myself. Looks like timid or not, devils would always be devils. Well, knowing their traits, they wouldn't be satisfied before their mischief being fulfilled, so I'd play along. I still got a lot of time until the mistress wake up call anyways. I tried the 'feign ignorance' approach.
"So? You seems so excited."
"E he he, you see, Sakuya-chan... I found a secret room!"
A secret room? Now this is interesting. Of course as the mansion's chief maid I could say I had known almost all of the mansion's nook and crany, but still, the library was always out of my territory, so this discovery perked my curiosity. We huddled close, whispering despite they were nobody else but us in the huge library.
"You see, there's a stairway leading underground. The entrance was blocked with Patchouli-sama's magic, but since I'm her familiar I can probably slipped through it. And this is a great opportunity since Patchouli-sama is currently asleep. But I guess exploring alone won't be fun, so..."
"Alright, I'll come along."
"Really? Oh, this is gonna be fun! Go get some candles so we can start exploring; it's pretty dark down there."
15:05:00 - Dungeon exploring
Just as Koakuma said, deep in the library and hidden behind bookshelves, was a stairway leading underground. Nodding at each other, we lit the candles and began our exploration, climbing down the old stony ladder with excitement pounding in our heart. The air was damp, even a lot more than the library, and the atmosphere was eerie; it was just like that test of courage I'd heard from Keine-sensei, where humans would go to haunted place at summer and test their courage, it's just that I'm not with a human now and it's not summer, but that's fine. At least I could understand their thrill.
The stairs went very deep underground, around two stories below I suspected, until a huge metal door blocked our path. I nudged Koakuma and she timidly inspected the door.
"Hmm... This is very amazing. It's a seal, and a very strong one too."
"What is it sealing? What's behind the door?"
"I-I don't know, Sakuya-chan. But to use this level of a seal... m-maybe we better return to the library..."
I grabbed on her wrist, earning a yelp. No way, we've gone this far! What is this place? What kind of secret do lady Patchouli hide? I needed to know. Especially if it turned out to be something dangerous for milady, I needed to investigate! But in reality I was just curious, and somehow, something inside me told me to open that door, despite the strange uneasiness I faintly felt.
"Come on Koa, just a peek?"
The little devil muttered to herself for a while before she gave up, putting her hand on the metal door.
"I might be able to neutralize it for a while, but just for a while! But no entering, okay? I just...have a bad feeling..."
"No entering. Got it."
She let out a sigh and started to chant some spells, where I could see magic circle started to glow on the metalic surface, but then suddenly, the light just died out. Wait, is that it? I took a glance at Koa but she seemed puzzled, too.
"What happened? Did it fail?"
"I don't know. The procedure should be right—"
She didn't get to finish the sentence as suddenly a strong gust of wind blew the door opened, so strong that it pushed me stumbling to the cold ground, the candle on my hand intanstly died out. I raised to my knees, inspecting my surrounding. Where am I? Where's Koa? Everything around me was pitch black and I started to panic. No, calm down Sakuya! You're the chief maid of Scarlet Devil Mansion! Your mistress is a vampire and you've served blood in her meal everyday; there's nothing to be scared of. Yes, there's nothing to be—
"I spy a human~ A delicious looking human and an itty bitty imp~"
I flinched, taking out my knife from its sheath, holding it in front of me in defense. Out of my own accord, I started to shiver.
"W-who's there? Show yourself!"
"U fu fu, okay~"
There was a giggling voice of a girl echoing from all around me, followed by some jingling sounds, but then they just stopped, ceasing into total silence. I gulped, steadying my grip on my knife, ready for any sudden attack. All of a sudden, a chill ran down my back and I turned around.
Hidden behind the darkness was shining red eyes and long fangs, but even more apparent than that, was an abnormal bloodlust so thick in the air. Out of habit I stopped time from shock, and I fell to my butt, dropping my knife, staring at the terrifying being before me; I was rendered frozen with fear for I didn't know how long, before I gathered my courage to run.
"That strange power... I see, I see now~ It's you~ It's been 200 years since I killed you, but it IS you~"
I ran and ran and ran, but the scenery didn't change; it was pitch black wherever I go.
"So that's why Onee-sama didn't come down anymore, she already got her favourite old toy back~"
Finally I reached what felt like a door, and I pushed on it desperately. Why? Why won't it budge? Wait, this texture...it's metal? It's that huge sealed door? The previous gust of wind pushed me inside?
"Hey, hey, tell me! How are you? How are you after I KILLED you?"
A flicking sound, then suddenly the room lit up and revealed its blood tainted walls; I took a quick breath and turned around, my back against the cold metal door, trembling like a cornered little rabbit in a hunting game. The deep red figure in front of me sneered from ear to ear, and I looked on in horror.
Why? Why did this monster know my name? I couldn't even think anymore, only cowering in fear as it drew closer and closer.
"Hey, hey, do you remember? It's me; Flandre."
It was a feet away from me, and I could almost feel its cold breath on my face. Aah, I'm gonna be killed.