For the few seconds that Luka had to think and drink his water himself, a few questions came to mind. They were the obvious one that one can expect an outsider to have, but rather than out of fear, his own thoughts were drawn out by simple curiosity. What exactly was the creature that attacked him? And how many of them lived hidden by that forest? What else did that mysterious, treacherous place hide in itself? Those, and a load more of question came upon his mind, the debate between whenever or not to start a new encyclopedia for the monsters of that world at top of everything else. As he was already here, he might as well do something like that, right? Or maybe did someone do that already?
His own endless supply of questions suddenly came to an halt as a powerful voice invaded his ears, providing a new source of questions that he couldn’t even think to answer, both because of the surprise making him choke on his water, which made a few small coughs be all he could say, and because that voice was of something that he didn’t expect at all to find on a forest like this. Not only was the one that landed behind him an human looking person, but it was a girl.
Now, let us not get things wrong here. Luka wasn’t one of those dudebros which only dream is to have his arms thicker than a whale’s stomach and that considered girls as toys or inferiors beings, far from that. The reason of why the gender of the other mattered that much, was simply because the presence of one was enough to send shivers down his spine.
It was a stupid phobia, he would admit it to himself too, but after you live every day of your life fighting everything that looks even remotely feminine, it just grew on him. Call it Paranoia or cowardice, but he couldn’t help to quickly put back the cork onto his place and grab the hilt of his sword, force of habit remembering him that even the most weak of the Monster girls could easily assume human-like looks, and forcing him to stand up. At this point, two parts of him were once again fighting against each other. One, controlling his voice, tried his best to not sound the slightest scared or to not transpire hints of the phobia into his voice, but the other forced his body to stand in a…not unnatural, but awkward position, like a mix of a defensive stance, with one of his feet slightly behind the other to assist to a quick retreat or dodge and his right hand holding the sword tight, but with the rest of his body assuming a more “comfortable” look, his face being what could be used as an example of the contrast between these two “internal factions”.
Of course, with his words he then tried his best to hide that fact, but if the girl was a careful observer, she could easily see how much on edge that boy was. Yep, all his own security and bravery that he had while fighting that monster? That wasn’t going to be shown to the girl, not right away at least, lest she wanted to have a fistfight right here.
"A-Ah, I’m s-sorry!" He tried to kept his stuttering to a minimum, but it was still easy to hear. Picking his things up as he was told, he then proceeded to follow the girl, albeit at a distance. The stranger-danger bells were still blaring inside his head, and it would take a while before they shut off. "I-I’m here in account of Miss Remilia, investigating on whenever certain voices about a "strange" creature are true or false. I-If it isn’t a bother, may I ask if you know something, miss?" Whenever or not Remilia Scarlet was known in that forest, Luka had no idea. In fact, while he was told the name of her Mistress and to ask questions on her behalf, he had to admit that he didn’t see her either yet. Who knows who she was, or how powerful was she? Not him, not yet.
But for now, the real mystery was what actually was roaming around that forest uninvited. If in a dangerous place as that one a monster alone could gather up enough fame for itself to be picked among the rest…what kind of abomination could have it been?
Fear. In the tip of the immortal’s tongue, there was fear belonging to the boy in front of her. It was palpable and agonizingly delicious, honey-laced panacea that was ever oh so intriguing to taste, chew and digest, and this boy… His fear was not born from something he had heard or fear of the unknown, no, this level of fear was quite the opposite, it was primal, a survivor’s instinct bellowing a forbidden siren that must only be touched when The Worst Possible Occasion is triggered. Would it be lips being bit, or perhaps a twitch on his left arm? One of the immortal’s less healthy hobbies include analyzing and studying people’s fears and their tells. From how quick the boy went from a passive position to one of pure scramble and struggle, as if a gazelle bared its teeth at a tiger, it was intoxicatingly fun. In response to the survivor grabbing the hilt of his sword, however, Mokou’s hands instantly clenched and her eyes fixated on his arm muscles first, to see if he would swing, then on his eyes, throat and solar plexus, the first vital targets that Mokou always aims for. Finnicky and twicthy as they are, luckily, Mokou’s fight instincts and reflexes remained tame, and soon the boy dropped the pose anyways.
It was about to get more interesting for all the wrong reasons for a second, but alas, that is pretty much how all of the phoenix’s fun is had. The clash of bone and sinew could wait until later, and with an opponent that merited the violence, she finally rationalized with a sigh.
As soon as the boy began talking, that was enough confirmation for Mokou that he was mostly pacific; she could tell very well from his muscles and his haphazard stance that he was tense, though it was a very interesting case of tenseness: It wasn’t simply fear of the unknown, as Mokou noted earlier, but as if this kid was deadly afraid of something horrible happening to him, worse than dead, worse than violence… What exactly did this kid go through for him to carry a cross this large and heavy upon his lithe shoulders, when he didn’t even look of age? That thought took away most of the phoenix’s inwards smile. Every person is a book, and every book has terrible parts, after all.
And as if today didn’t have enough surprises, the name of the vampire came out from the mouth he expected it less. "Hold on…"
A flame appeared out of nowhere near Mokou’s hand, tiny, bright and playful. The flame began twirling in the air like a bee before landing harmlessly on the cigarette clenched between her lips.
"…You…" — Mokou turned to face him this time, actually looking him straight in the eyes with her almost-glowing puddles of blood she calls eyes — "…You are here in behalf of Remilia Scarlet?” Well, that seems to have caught her attention… Perhaps a bit too much. “Oh, man, you are slayin’ me here… Ahaha… Hahahaha! Oooh, ahahahaha!”
And just like that, Mokou broke into laughter. A disgusting, venomous and plastic laughter, taking 3 small steps towards Luka before suddenly appearing right next to him, as if time had stopped for a second to accommodate for Mokou’s unreal speed, standing right in front of the adventurer, tall and intimidating, erect back and puffed out chest, hands in her pocket and eyes invading the child’s own. Her face was not smiling anymore.
"And exactly what right or responsibility does that midget think she has, sendin’ a lost kid to prance about my turf, thinkin’ she can do whatever she wants, huh? Is this payback for all the times I’ve broken into her shed she calls a mansion to play with her sister? Hmph, I am doin’ her a favor by lettin’ Flandre release steam, though I doubt she’d…”
Now, at this point, were this Sakuya, or Meiling, even Flandre herself, or any operative under anyone else, Mokou would send them scampering home right about now. But this time, things would be different. That… sword, if we can call it that, it turned the spider bull youkai into a little spider. Mokou could sense abominable, outright disgusting and, most importantly, numerous presences from the item. Mokou lives to satisfy her curiosity nowadays, and this? “This” being everything about this kid? That was worth indulging, now, wasn’t it?”
"…Hmm, so it has become this notorious by now, has this not? Fair enough." — the immortal’s voice was noticeably more cordial, though not softer — "Ok, here’s the deal: Yes, somethin’ is amiss in this here bamboo dump, and I am takin’ care of it. Normally, I would send the hell away both for your safety and my nerves, ‘cause news flash: I hate people, and you are people. Ya’ll have all these voices and noises to you and yer need to talk and… I just want silence. However, this thing is not lettin’ me have my silence and, as you prove, it is callin’ attention to people outside of my realm, this forest. Tell you what, though… Your form, your weapon and your… Hah, your moves… I am interested in learnin’ about a few things. So here’s a deal f’ya: Instead of sendin’ ya empty handed back to that vampire, I let you come with me, but in return, I want to know what exactly is that.. Revoltin’ thing yer carryin’. I would call it a sword, but dear Izanami, I would be offendin’ all swords by doin’ that. You don’t feel entirely human, though you look like a kid… What are ya and how old are you?"
"Now that you know the conditions to our possible deal, if you wish to accept it, you would do well to learn and remember the name "Fujiwara no Mokou", for that is who you stand before. The pleasure is all yours."