The Archer and the Databi — 2


As the archer spoke, her feather duster began to glow. Starting with a faint white light that built to a roseate-tinged incandescent blaze with the final words of her incantation. With a muted roar, the light leapt from the feathers to the defeated Databi. It sparked and crackled, and in the ensuing pyre, faint ones and zeroes could be seen dancing upward in the flames.

The brilliant white flames then reached the black orb inside the corpse. At first, they found no purchase on its surface, but the terrible, purifying heat remained relentless, and the orb glazed and cracked and finally succumbed. When it did, a sucking, whooshing vortex of air pulled the flames and the charred crystalline dust of the corpse inward. The orb sparkled, then shattered, releasing a pillar of pink-tinged white fire, spiraled about with a binary stream of ones and zeroes. Three quarters of the way up the pillar of flame, some dozens of meters above the ground, twin jets of flame shot out parallel to the ground, transforming the pillar into a cross of flame that blazed and faded, leaving a searing afterimage in the vision of the few onlookers.

The archer, Rumielle, had been fortunate. She had been passing through the area when the Databi had materialized, and had thus been able to engage it before it had a chance to attack any of the citizens of Habushi. Thus, as the Databi died and faded away, there was no release of expy or vitae to shepherd back to drained individuals.

On the other hand, there were still the few people around conscious and aware and not cautiously making their way out of assorted hiding places. Spectators presented a problem – not just the possibility of them getting caught in the crossfire, but Rumielle didn't dare not remain in her mahou shoujo identity with them around. She'd have to find a secluded place to transform back to her normal form, otherwise there'd be all sorts of extra complications in her life. And her life was complicated enough already.

The presence of the onlookers became immediately obvious as a scattering of applause broke out as the pillar of flame faded and left no remains of the tentacled terror that the pink-clad archer had fought. Cheeks colouring as she looked around, Rumielle performed an awkward curtsey in the direction of a small cluster of people. Turning slightly, she held out her left hand and the handle of a push broom appeared in a swirl of silver sparkles and white, illusory feathers. The bristles quivered and spread a bit wider as wings of light appeared near the base of the broom. With a faint chiming sound, a silver chain with a stylized bunny-head charm formed at the tip of the handle.

The wings of the broom fluttered, and she hopped on the broom as it took flight. Sitting side-saddle, she directed the broom upwards and away, looking for an overpass, underused alley, or a secluded park grove where she could return to normal, unobserved.

Faintly heard, as she flew away, were a few comments from the onlookers. “Mommy, why does that girl have bunny ears?” “Hey, she's cute.” and “I saw her panties!”

Rumielle's cheeks burned brighter.

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