“Lady Hieda, you have a visitor.”
The girl glanced up from her endless writing to see one of her servants standing in the doorway. He had a somewhat glazed expression, and she wondered if he’d been sleeping before the visitor awoke him. Then again, in this summer heat, one could hardly be faulted for a bit of rest, could they?
Still, though… “A visitor?” she repeated. “No-one you recognise?”
He shook his head. “She’s unfamiliar, Lady Hieda. I’ve never seen her before today.”
“And no introduction?”
He shook his head again. “She simply said that she wished to meet you, and that I should bring her to you.”
“Well, then--” she started, then paused. “What was that last part?”
“I said,” came a third voice -- quiet, and somewhat rough -- from behind the man, “that I wanted to meet you. So I had him bring me to you. You can take a nap, now.”
The man dropped like a stone, revealing a pink-haired girl dressed in pale blue. From all over her body, red-and-gold cords trailed together into a floating crimson eye.
Akyuu immediately rose. “You’re--” she started.
The eye flashed, and she went silent. Trapped within that terrible gaze, she once more returned to her knees as the satori approached.
“My name is Komeiji Satori,” the youkai remarked, then paused. “Oh? You’ve heard about me. From that stuck-up mountain goddess who had the audacity to go around feeding strange divinities to my pets. That’ll make things easier.”
Akyuu remained silent, her eyes locked onto Satori’s third eye. Unbidden, memories emerged from the corners of her mind and came to the forefront of her thoughts.
The satori leant over the table, so that all three of her eyes were locked onto her gaze. “You’ve lived for a very long time, Hieda no Akyuu,” she murmured. “I can see it. Nine lifetimes of trauma, nine lots of thirty years of such a tragically short, tragically human lifespan. You’ve taken on such a needless burden.”
Akyuu’s mind began to rebel as the satori fed upon the information of her spotless memory. Her traumas, and her knowledge of Gensokyo, was replaced with every image she could think of -- animals and plants she had seen, people she had met--
Satori smirked, and her third eye shone ever-brighter. “It’d take more than that to stop me. But that said… I don’t care about your secrets.” She shrugged. “I’ve no interest in the politics of Gensokyo. Besides, you and I both know about the truce between this place and the underground. Believe me, I don’t want to harm you. But I want information…” The satori took something from a small handbag. “…about this.”
Akyuu’s eyes wandered from Satori’s third eye to examine the object, and suddenly the spell was broken. It wasn’t simply the lack of eye contact; it was that the object Satori held was the last thing Akyuu could have possibly conceived it to be. The sheer shock of her mind absorbing this new information had destroyed the hypnotic charm.
In Satori’s left hand, she held a copy of the latest volume of ‘Was it All a Youkai’s Doing?’
Akyuu stared at it for a moment, and then glanced back at Satori. “You… you want information about my book…?”
Satori snapped her fingers. “I do. And just because you’ve broken out of that spell, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. I’ll bring the thought I want to the surface manually, if I must!” She grabbed Akyuu’s face with her hands, staring straight into her eyes. “Now, reveal your secrets to me! Tell me the ending!”
“The ending?” repeated Akyuu, and then she realised. This youkai’s true goal was--
There was a pause, and then Satori jumped into the air. “I was right~!” she declared triumphantly. “Oh, Parsee told me that it was too obvious, but I knew it was a double blind! After all, what other explanation could answer everything?”
As the satori celebrated to herself, Akyuu gathered herself, and then asked, quietly, “You really came here… to find out the ending to a book I’m releasing in a month anyway…?”
Satori shrugged. “It was the fastest way to solve the problem.” Then her smile shrank -- going from jubilant to something more conniving. “And besides, I wanted to meet the mysterious Agatha Chris Q. I was sure she’d be an interesting human, and I was absolutely correct.” She pointed down at Akyuu. “You, Hieda no Akyuu, are an interesting human.”
“Th-thank you?” replied Akyuu, baffled.
Satori merely nodded in response, regathering her composure. She began to leave, then glanced back. “I apologise for taking advantage of you in this manner,” she said, her voice suddenly quiet, polite. “After all, I only did it to indulge my own selfish curiosity. I hope you won’t consider the pact to have been broken…?”
“Of course not,” replied Akyuu. “And perhaps in future, you’d be interested in a collaboration?”
Satori raised her eyebrows. “A collaboration?” she repeated. “I didn’t mention that I was a writer.”
“Any aspiring author needs to be aware of her contemporaries,” said Akyuu calmly. “And it seems to me that there were already a few unsigned novels that only existed within Gensokyo before I began writing. I wonder… who could have written those?”
Satori was quiet for a moment. Then she smiled again. “You’re a very interesting human, Miss Akyuu. I’ll definitely have to keep you in mind.”
She nodded once again, and then finally left, stepping over the body of Akyuu’s still-sleeping servant. Akyuu was quiet for a moment, and then carefully put the section of the Chronicle she was writing aside, grabbing for a blank sheet of paper.
Her mind was not merely clear, but buzzing from the encounter. Already, the shape of a story was beginning to take shape within her thoughts.
A youkai detective who could read minds… perhaps there was something in that…
Perhaps it really was all a youkai’s doing?