109: Serce

“Gdzie skarb twój, tam i serce twoje.”

Seized with fear, Victorique looked down. There were footprints in the snow.

Not just footprints: at their end was a clump of men all wrapped in black. In the middle of the clump was that idiot, waving stupidly, happy as a stupid rat in a trap. His voice was borne up to Victorique on the frosty breeze. But Victorique wasn’t looking down; she was a thousand miles away, pinned under a suffocating block of ice. She barely heard or saw that hazy image of Kujo, reflected and refracted and distorted and distended a thousandfold through crystal. She mumbled something – it sounded like his name – but couldn’t hear herself speak.

Grevil’s hair seemed to stiffen, though the library was air-conditioned. “Silly baby squirrel. I mean, rabbit,” he said blandly. Kujo kept waving excitedly. “He was just looking for you, unaware that he’s become a hostage.”

Victorique wrenched herself to lucidity. “You mean … you’ll harm Kujo?”

“That depends on your answer.” Grevil couldn’t bring himself to look down, neither at his sister nor her friend. Victorique whirled away from the window and glared at him. But she was small and he was big: she had only her intellect behind her rage, and he …

Kujo turned to the men. “Do you think Inspector Blois will be coming out soon? Can I go up now? I’m anxious to see Victorique’s face – ” he stopped midsentence, looking blankly into his escorts’ eyes.

Victorique’s look dimmed slowly until there was only a sad reproach flickering there. Grevil stood as a poker, still avoiding her gaze. “I understand,” she said dully. “I’ll assist the Ministry of the Occult. But don’t touch a hair on Kujo’s head!” She shook as she forced the words out.

Grevil paused a moment. “A favor for my little sister?” he stepped to the window. “Yes, I’ll grant that request.” He gestured with a finger at the men below.

Victorique heard Kujo now, his voiced tinged with panic, screaming her name again and again. She did not face the window. She had worked so hard to harden her resolve, and if she looked now –

“The rabbit is the Monstre Charmant‘s heart.” She clasped the pendant, Kujo’s gift to her, with shaking hands. “If the rabbit dies, the monster dies, too.” She took a breath to steady herself.

Victorique! This isn’t goodbye! I’m not leaving you!”

Victorique gasped, and Kujo’s name rose unbidden to her lips. She turned and ran to the window, wanting to believe his words, but dreading the tone of finality in his voice.

Seized with fear, Victorique looked down. There were footprints in the snow.

Victorique, Kazuya, Grevil and co. are copyrighted by Kazuki Sakuraba and (the publisher) Fujimi Shobo. This extract, a favorite of mine, is drawn from the anime created by Bones.

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