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alfheimwanderer
July 27th, 2015, 02:01 AM
Matou Shinji and the Master of Death

A Harry Potter / Fate Stay Night Story

100%

Shinji:
[X] Getting a head start on Ancient Runes with Touko
[X] Tapping into your Yin (or yang) abilities

Luna:
[X] Learning more about the inhuman nature of wizards

100%

Chapter 1. A Leap of Faith

Through the chill night air he ran, black robes billowing behind him as his feet pounded the ground, his legs – and lungs – and heart – all crying out for mercy, for him to stop.

But he could not.

Even now, his pursuers were gaining, their howls and snarls and bays coming closer despite his reckless pace, their very presence reeking of wrongness, wounds in the world that had not been – could not be – healed. He’d discovered them in the stronghold of his enemies – but he’d been discovered in turn, for stealth meant nothing to those who were not blinded by patterns and false seemings, but could sense the world as it truly was.

Magic – well, most magic – fed them.

Emotion strengthened them – fear, anger, hatred…despair – and more.

And despite his attempts to dampen his revulsion, he hadn’t fully succeeded. Not when the very ground shook beneath his feet, the cavern around him collapsing as he ran. His wand was in his hand, but no Freezing Charm would stabilize the ground beneath him.

Not that he had time – or breath – to cast such a spell.

They were gaining.

But then, that was natural. After all, this corrupted temple to things long past, lit by eldritch fires that had burned long before the age of man, was their home, and he was an intruder. Humans liked to forget that there were beings on this earth long before they arose, beings that they had intermingled with, learned from, fought – beings that in some cases lingered on in their genetic memories and the blueprint of their souls.

Sch! Sch! Sch! Scht!

The earth was cracking beneath his feet, with molten darkness seeping up, whispering seductive promises of power to distract and waylay him. But he dared not stop, knowing the danger of being consumed, of the things behind him.

He could not even call them creatures, really, even if they took on familiar shapes, like wolves, birds of prey, or vast worms which burrowed through the earth, things of shadow and night which hungered only to destroy.

‘The exit…!’

Yes. There it was.

Ahead of him hung a silver glow that promised some semblance of salvation if he could only reach it, but there was so little time. Everything was coming undone, falling to pieces.

No.

With his heart pounding in his chest from the exertion and the scrabbling of claws on stone echoing behind him, he poured every last bit of energy into his legs, desperate for just a little more speed, a little more distance, before everything fell apart.

There!

With a surge of exultation, he burst into the open – only to skid to a halt as he saw that he was running straight towards the edge of a precipice, below which there was only darkness. The watery moon hung high in the sky above, with a shooting star flashing down into the abyss below.

And behind him, there was a crash, followed by a sibilant hissing, with the hooded figure barely lunging out of the way of a great worm that burst from the ground, rows and rows of vicious teeth dripping with corrosive darkness.

Darkness behind and darkness before.

The decision was no decision at all. With his instincts screaming at him to run, he took a breath, put one foot in front of the other, and took a leap of faith.

100%

Sometime later, Matou Shinji awakened into a world of hurt, with nothing spared or left untouched. His ears were ringing, his vision was a blur, and every inch of his body hummed with pain. And around him, the world was spinning…rocking…swaying back and forth at least.

‘Feathers, falling into darkness…’

That was the last thing he remembered before he’d lost consciousness, but how…?

“You are awake then, Matou?” a voice spoke from behind him. A…female voice? “Good.”

“…ugh…”

He was standing, or at least he thought he was standing, but he couldn’t feel the ground beneath his feet, only something tight around his ankles and wrists, digging painfully into his skin through the fabric of his pants.

“Lower,” the voice commanded. “Gently.”

And whatever ensnared him complied, lowering him to the ground, where his vision began to clear.

“You do not seem excessively injured,” the voice said again, as a bespectacled young woman loomed over him, her black hair falling like silk about her shoulders, as her hands glowed with warm amber light.

Sajyou Ayaka, apprentice to the five-tailed kitsune Kaiduka Shiosai.

His current training partner, since he had chosen to focus on his yin affinity – the part of him more aligned with destruction and decay – as opposed to elemental ofuda in general. Given some of the difficulties he’d experienced when attempting to use water and earth, and the relative ease with which he was able to conjure up darkness, he thought gaining a semblance of control over this power might be advisable, so it wouldn’t bleed into everything else he did.

The kitsune had agreed, and had tasked his less-than-amused apprentice with training the boy in these affinities. Sajyou Ayaka had agreed, working with him in understanding his natural affinities…but it seemed this was the first time she’d had to teach someone, or to duel with someone less skilled, as she hadn’t held back at all.

“…you’re a Witch, right?” he’d asked, wanting to be sure, since he hadn’t ever seen her with a wand, unlike most of the school’s students.

“Not in the way you mean, but yes,” the other had answered enigmatically.

And then the duel had begun, with Matou Shinji quickly finding himself overwhelmed by the viciousness of her onslaught.

Wave after wave of feather-like darts, shredding his ofuda, blocking his spells, and rendering resistance futile.

It wasn’t like how Tomas fought, as the puppet was always disciplined, if more than a little contemptuous of the skill of others. It wasn’t how Kaiduka fought, obviously holding back against an inferior opponent, displaying a skill level just a hair above what a trainee was capable of.

It wasn’t even how Quirinus Quirrell fought.

The other had injured him far worse with a single word, but that had been very, very deliberate, and there was nothing deliberate about Ayaka’s actions. The bespectacled girl’s spells always seemed tinged with desperation, as if every battle was a matter of life and death, regardless of who she faced. It was if she wasn’t fighting him, but something else she saw in his place, something so dangerous that even the slightest hint of resistance needed to be crushed.

“…it’s a good thing you’re good at healing, or I’d be dead by now,” Shinji croaked, though he frowned as the girl flinched at his words. “No, it’s not your fault. I was distracted.”

‘…this time.’

But that part went unsaid, even if it was true.

After being blasted into the ground over and over again by her feathers, he’d begun to employ the darkness against her. At first, he’d tried obscuring her sight with the dark cloud he’d used against the troll, but she’d just increased the volume of projectiles she sent forth. He’d tried bringing darkness to the room and using his ofuda to stop or blind her, but these were consumed by a deeper darkness.

And finally he’d learned to shape the darkness into a shield that could stand a wave of her projectiles, giving him enough time to move and counterattack…

…until he’d been yanked into the air a vine that sprung up under him, with other vines unfurling and pulling his body taut, just before a next wave hit.

“…you don’t just have a yin affinity, do you?” he asked, noting both her glowing hands and the vines which had bound him. “Growth and healing…that’s yang.”

The other’s lips tightened as she finished her ministrations and stepped away from the boy.

“…yes,” she admitted reluctantly. “It is.”

“Rare,” Shinji commented, as he brushed himself off and rose to his feet, retrieving his wand from where it had fallen on the ground. “Most people are one or the other, your Master said.”

“Most,” was the eloquent response.

It was hard to get a response out of Sajyou Ayaka, even at the best of times. She did her duty, sparred and such, but there was little about her that seemed human at all, much unlike Tomas, who definitely had a sense of life to him despite his present inhuman nature.

Though speaking of inhuman beings…

“Where is Kaiduka anyway?” Shinji hadn’t seen the kitsune in days, and the self-proclaimed guardian of the City Below generally checked in on his apprentice once a day, normally, so not seeing him at all was rather odd.

“Okushiri Island, Hokkaidō,” the bespectacled girl answered. “Helping with relief efforts in the wake of the tsunami.”

The tsunami that had struck the north in the wake of a massive earthquake (7.7 in magnitude) on July 12, less than a week after the Tanabata celebration, dealing massive damage to Okushiri island and its surrounds.

“Oh,” Shinji said. It never would have occurred to him that the kitsune would have an interest in humanitarian work. Neither magecraft nor the Witchcraft of Hogwarts taught people to be anything but selfish, after all. Then again, there was a rather large population of foxes in Hokkaidō. Indeed, one of the two species of foxes native to Japan lived only on that northern island. “…helping humans or youkai?”

There was a moment of silence, and Shinji half wondered if the fox’s apprentice would answer at all, but answer she did.

“Whoever he can,” she replied at last. “There may be some new youkai in the city soon.”

“Surprising.”

“Not for a servant of Inari.”

100%

Later that day, Matou Shinji found himself working with his Master on the study of Ancient Runes, given that Aozaki Touko was a visiting Professor at Mahoutokoro. Since he was going to study Ancient Runes and Arithmancy in the coming year, he thought he might as well get a head start on one of the subjects.

That, and he thought he hadn’t spent enough time with his Master as of late.

She’d been kind enough to allow him to go to Fuyuki during the winter holidays, instead of following her to Mifune while she undertook the design of an apartment building, but if he didn’t show more appreciation and interest in her Craft, he feared she would lose interest.
And so far, what he learned had been quite interesting.

The fact that each rune had power of its own, and could be placed into arrays much like ofuda. That runes could be used to strike from a distance by those who know what they were doing, and could be used to raise bounded fields or other such things.

That the faded scar on Harry’s forehead, left behind by the Killing Curse so many years ago was Sowilo – the rune of fire – symbolizing the victory of light over darkness, good over evil. That the one on Harry’s chest, after the defeat of Quirrell, was Tiwaz, the rune of justice – the sacrifice of the individual for the good of the whole.

And that runes were one of the disciplines that could be used by Witches or Magi for the purposes of enchanting or creating, albeit to somewhat different practical effects, even if the Tower found them to be of little value, since they were a fairly well known mystery, with no secrets left to discover, and practitioners of Witchcraft rarely had the prana to use them to their full capacity.

“So both can use them?”

“Correct, Matou,” the magus replied. “Because runes have power and purpose independent of the practitioner. As long as you have prana, you can use them.”

Ah…

“So that’s how you can teach at Mahoutokoro, even though you’re not a Witch,” Shinji said in realization. He’d been curious about that for quite some time now, but hadn’t really found a good opportunity to ask.

“Indeed,” the magus commented dryly. “It provides a nice supplement to my retainer from Atlas.” She smiled very slightly as she regarded the boy. “Incidentally, Atlas does find runes useful on occasion, so it may be worth pursuing in conjunction with your other arts.”

“I-I see!”

It was almost comical to her how her provisional apprentice’s face seemed to light up at this. He might be skilled at deception and manipulation for his age, but she had many years of experience on him, and had once been so young herself, though it didn’t feel like it.

“In any case, Matou, Hijiri informed me that you intend to find a familiar this summer,” Aozaki Touko continued, with the boy nodding solemnly. “And Tomas mentioned that you’ve been avoiding him.”

“…well, he did attack me with a Killing Curse last time we met, Master,” Shinji commented, his lips twisting into a frown. “I wish to build up my skills before I face him again.”

“Hm. Not unwise, I suppose,” she allowed. “As to seeking a familiar, I approve. Be aware, however, that unlike your colleagues who simply buy a familiar from a store, you will likely need to prove yourself to whatever it is you seek to bind – and that whatever contract you finalize is likely to be provisional.”

“…I had gathered that much,” Shinji admitted, though he could resist a surge of curiosity. “Master, what of your familiar?”

“Oh? The Director of Atlas mentioned him, did she?” Touko questioned, withdrawing one of her cigarettes and lighting it.

“…she did, Master. She mentioned that in all your adventures, he was undefeated.”

There was silence for a moment, stretching on into a minute and perhaps yet more, as Touko took a long, long drag.

“All except one,” she commented, with her face going still as stone. “After which he wasn’t perfect anymore, because he knew pain – because he knew defeat. And to think it was a human who defeated him…”

“A mage?”

“No, not a mage. Just a teenage boy.”

Her words were cold, but distant, as if looking far into the past, onto a scene Matou Shinji was not privy to. There was history there, Shinji could tell, but he also knew that it would probably be unwise for him to do so at this time.

So he waited as his Master cycled through her state of reverie, before returning to the present.

“Apologies.”

“None needed, Master,” he said with a bow. Something else came to mind though, a note that he’d received from his grandfather regarding the epic that he had sent the man.

‘Not Wyrms. Worms. Not the Church. Templars.’

A note which chilled him…as did it mean that what was said in that story was mostly true? That his grandfather had been thought of as a Dark Lord and had been driven out of Russia by a grand alliance the likes of which had never been seen again?

…that Matou Zouken had once tried to rid the world of all suffering and evil?

The last bit was perhaps the most jarring of all, given that that wasn’t what magi did. And well, it really didn’t match his image of the man who had thrown his mother to a pit of worms or who had himself become a living assemblage of worms.

And what did the Templars have to do with it? Did that mean that they would one day come after him as they had his grandfather?

The thought was worrying, to say the least.

“I trust your friend will arriving soon, Matou?” Touko asked after some time.

“Yes, Master. Within two weeks.”

“Portkey, I take it?”

“Indeed.”

“Convenient things, those. But I prefer portals and planes.”

“Oh?”

“With those, I can see where I am going,” Aozaki Touko explained. “With a portkey, who knows where the destination might actually be, or what the situation will be like when I arrive. For instance, what if someone hijacks a portkey or has sabotaged it?”

“…that is a good point.”

An uncomfortably good point, in fact, given that if he were a Dark Wizard, one of the easiest ways to cause havoc would be to meddle with the transportation system that people implicitly trusted.

“In any case, Matou, we had best make the most of your time. You’ve made good progress these past few weeks, but we do not have much longer before you seek your fortune.”

“Yes, Master.”

100%

That night, as on many nights before, Matou Shinji dreamed of shadows and blood, of worms and wolves, of shooting stars and leaps of faith.

100%

Choice 3: What should we do in our spare time? (choose one)
[ ] Work on ofuda
[ ] Write to our friends in Great Britain
[ ] Talk to Tomas
[ ] Talk to Shirou

Choice 4: What would you like to find out about if given the opportunity?
[ ] The Templars
[ ] The recurring dreams
[ ] The youkai communities in Japan
[ ] The Matou family's past

100%

Chapter 2: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=1984665&viewfull=1#post1984665
Chapter 3: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=1987854&viewfull=1#post1987854
Chapter 4: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=1993073&viewfull=1#post1993073
Chapter 5: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=1997917&viewfull=1#post1997917
Chapter 6: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2001641&viewfull=1#post2001641
Chapter 7: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2006321&viewfull=1#post2006321
Chapter 8: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2011870&viewfull=1#post2011870
Chapter 9: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2016304&viewfull=1#post2016304
Chapter 10: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2018730&viewfull=1#post2018730
Chapter 11: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2022522&viewfull=1#post2022522
Chapter 12: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2024865&viewfull=1#post2024865
Chapter 13: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2029278&viewfull=1#post2029278
Chapter 14: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2034726&viewfull=1#post2034726
Chapter 15: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2040711&viewfull=1#post2040711
Chapter 16: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2044953&viewfull=1#post2044953
Chapter 17: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2048013&viewfull=1#post2048013
Chapter 18: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2051753&viewfull=1#post2051753
Chapter 19: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2054549&viewfull=1#post2054549
Chapter 20: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2058578&viewfull=1#post2058578
Chapter 21: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2062011&viewfull=1#post2062011
Chapter 22: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2065861&viewfull=1#post2065861
Chapter 23: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2072680&viewfull=1#post2072680
Chapter 24: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2075630&viewfull=1#post2075630
Chapter 25: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2082470&viewfull=1#post2082470
Chapter 26: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2087393&viewfull=1#post2087393
Chapter 27: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2090829&viewfull=1#post2090829
Chapter 28: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2094712&viewfull=1#post2094712
Chapter 29: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2098830&viewfull=1#post2098830
Chapter 30: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2102456&viewfull=1#post2102456
Chapter 31: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2105090&viewfull=1#post2105090
Chapter 32: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2110758&viewfull=1#post2110758
Chapter 33: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2114481&viewfull=1#post2114481
Chapter 34: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2122267&viewfull=1#post2122267
Chapter 35: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2134658&viewfull=1#post2134658
Chapter 36: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2139291&viewfull=1#post2139291
Chapter 37: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2146103&viewfull=1#post2146103
Chapter 38: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2152843&viewfull=1#post2152843
Chapter 39: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2158720&viewfull=1#post2158720
Chapter 40: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2161103&viewfull=1#post2161103
Chapter 41: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2164989&viewfull=1#post2164989
Chapter 42: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2168500&viewfull=1#post2168500
Chapter 43: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2172277&viewfull=1#post2172277
Chapter 44: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2173251&viewfull=1#post2173251
Epilogue: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/6013-Matou-Shinji-and-the-Master-of-Death-%28HP-FSN-CYOA%29?p=2174157&viewfull=1#post2174157

Kuroyuki
July 27th, 2015, 02:12 AM
[X] Work on ofuda

[X] The youkai communities in Japan

My persona instincts tells me to 'Talk to Shirou' but my combat brain says NEED MORE STRENGTH. On a side note, as much as I am curious on Templars and recurring dreams I do think it's best if we prep ourselves for the familiar hunting a little bit.

mangafreak7793
July 27th, 2015, 02:17 AM
[ ] The youkai communities in Japan

[ ] Work on ofuda

EnigmaticFellow
July 27th, 2015, 02:31 AM
[X] Work on ofuda
[X] The youkai communities in Japan

Working on ofuda would likely lead to interacting with Hijiri, who might know a thing or two about familiars. So these two options will maximize Shinji's immediate goal of getting a familiar. The dreams, Templars, and Matou past can be addressed later.

gesalt
July 27th, 2015, 03:00 AM
[X] Ofuda
[X] Dreams

Omida
July 27th, 2015, 03:02 AM
[X] Work on ofuda
[X] The youkai communities in Japan

I would honestly prefer to try and investigate our dreams as they seem pretty dark and foreboding, but we do have familiar to acquire, and as such we need information about our potential companion. And mastering ofuda further is important, while we are in a place where we can find some advice in regards to our studies.

That said, Ayaka is suitably interesting and her fighting style seems interesting, especially given that the only example I know of it is from Fate/Prototype OVA (and it's against Servant). Which means we still got lesson in dueling against different styles, even if it's not our focus. We got another hint at Touko's past, which is fine. I wonder how much of knowledge of ancient runes will we acquire over the summer. Shinji, after all, bases his position in Hogwarts on knowing more than his classmates in certain areas (or was that only at the beginning when he felt the need to stand out?).
And we got another hint (albeit in dream) at us mingling with Hashashin, after Lockhart's self appointed (or is it?) title of Old Man and now leap of faith.

All around, great start.

All That Is Left Unsaid
July 27th, 2015, 05:09 AM
[x] Work on ofuda
[x] The Matou family's past

Vagrant
July 27th, 2015, 06:47 AM
[X] Recurring Dreams
[X] Talk to Tomas

Magus
July 27th, 2015, 07:37 AM
[x] Talk to Shirou
[x] Matou Family Past

Akanzara
July 27th, 2015, 07:42 AM
[x] Talk to Shirou
[x] The recurring dreams

Mint
July 27th, 2015, 08:15 AM
[X] Work on ofuda
[X] The Matou family's past

Geez this is tough all the choice's are great so only choosing one each sucks.

Kelnish
July 27th, 2015, 08:28 AM
[Talk to Shirou]
[Makiri Zolgen]

AZURE
July 27th, 2015, 08:59 AM
[X] Work on ofuda

[X] The youkai communities in Japan

Thedoctor
July 27th, 2015, 10:35 AM
Work on Ofuda.

Matou past.

mangafreak7793
July 27th, 2015, 11:14 AM
I suggest we focus on the youkai communities so we know ahead of time what Shinji can get of time as a familar.

Dreams and Matou past aren't particularly tie sensitive, the familiar journey is time sensitive.

Malgos
July 27th, 2015, 11:29 AM
Let's see what Shirou has been up to and it might be good to know more about the Templar.

mangafreak7793
July 27th, 2015, 11:56 AM
Let's see what Shirou has been up to and it might be good to know more about the Templar.

We have limited time to actually learn one of our main skills AKA Ofuda.

Also do we want to know more about the Templar? That seems like a thing that will end us getting dragged into it which is not needed.

Kishou the Badger
July 27th, 2015, 01:14 PM
[x] Talk to Tomas (He sounds annoyed, so let's see him and hopefully not start a boss battle)
[x] Matou Family History (I like to think there's a reason there was interest drawn here, and why Zouken would send a simple letter correcting only the technical terms).

Velyoukai
July 27th, 2015, 01:20 PM
[x]Talk to Tomas.

Touko actually bothered to bring him up in conversation. They also apparently had their own conversation. By talking to Tomas, Shinji gets both Tomas insight (has been key) and might be able to get some more Touko information for a later event. Working on Ofuda is something that should be done year-round anyway. While Shinji's in the east, he should be taking advantage of the things that are only in the east, like his death teachers or Shirou.

[x]Matou past for sure.

We don't really need to get more data on the youkai communities when it comes to getting a familiar, seeing as Shinji min-max'ing his choices based on that information just pushes things in a direction without any purpose behind it. Not to mention Shinji has (so far) the rest of his life to learn about the eastern supernatural community. Hell, he's living in it for a good portion of his year per year. We only really have outsider records of the Matou and Zouken himself for the good Matou stuff and the longer we wait on Zouken, the less focused on us he's gonna be as anything more than "Byakuya's son who did something instead of being useless."

Matou knowledge should also unlock better darkness knowledge, seeing as we focused on that already. Maybe Gramps knows something about it and might be proud of Shinji!

mAc Chaos
July 27th, 2015, 02:00 PM
[Shirou]
[Zouken]

mangafreak7793
July 27th, 2015, 02:23 PM
[x]Talk to Tomas.

Touko actually bothered to bring him up in conversation. They also apparently had their own conversation. By talking to Tomas, Shinji gets both Tomas insight (has been key) and might be able to get some more Touko information for a later event. Working on Ofuda is something that should be done year-round anyway. While Shinji's in the east, he should be taking advantage of the things that are only in the east, like his death teachers or Shirou.

[x]Matou past for sure.

We don't really need to get more data on the youkai communities when it comes to getting a familiar, seeing as Shinji min-max'ing his choices based on that information just pushes things in a direction without any purpose behind it. Not to mention Shinji has (so far) the rest of his life to learn about the eastern supernatural community. Hell, he's living in it for a good portion of his year per year. We only really have outsider records of the Matou and Zouken himself for the good Matou stuff and the longer we wait on Zouken, the less focused on us he's gonna be as anything more than "Byakuya's son who did something instead of being useless."

Matou knowledge should also unlock better darkness knowledge, seeing as we focused on that already. Maybe Gramps knows something about it and might be proud of Shinji!

However, we have specialists that actually know how to use Ofuda like Hijiri or the guy who sold the ofuda book to him.

Also the same could be said about learning the matou past also no, we is learning the western supernatural community. Also a lot of assumptions.

Thedoctor
July 27th, 2015, 03:09 PM
We need to embrace our inner darkness.

mangafreak7793
July 27th, 2015, 03:11 PM
We need to embrace our inner darkness.

Which we are by tapping into Yin,

Velyoukai
July 27th, 2015, 03:32 PM
However, we have specialists that actually know how to use Ofuda like Hijiri or the guy who sold the ofuda book to him.

Also the same could be said about learning the matou past also no, we is learning the western supernatural community. Also a lot of assumptions.

If you don't adventure by making wild assumptions based on whim and fantasy, how can you expect to enjoy it? Gramps Zouken's obviously on his last years and we should devote as much available time as possible to making a nice old man feel better.

Also, Mahoutokoro is in Japan and is the east I was talking about. It's even odds that Shinji would return there after the ~7 years at Hogwarts.

mangafreak7793
July 27th, 2015, 03:58 PM
If you don't adventure by making wild assumptions based on whim and fantasy, how can you expect to enjoy it? Gramps Zouken's obviously on his last years and we should devote as much available time as possible to making a nice old man feel better.

Also, Mahoutokoro is in Japan and is the east I was talking about. It's even odds that Shinji would return there after the ~7 years at Hogwarts.


.....You don't know much about the Nasuverse do you? or are you being sarcastic.

Kelnish
July 27th, 2015, 04:07 PM
If you don't adventure by making wild assumptions based on whim and fantasy, how can you expect to enjoy it? Gramps Zouken's obviously on his last years and we should devote as much available time as possible to making a nice old man feel better.

Also, Mahoutokoro is in Japan and is the east I was talking about. It's even odds that Shinji would return there after the ~7 years at Hogwarts.

This guy gets it. Zouken did nothing wrong!

Kuroyuki
July 27th, 2015, 04:15 PM
I don't think looking into the Matou past is very pressing. After all, Zouken will still be around for another 4 years at a minimal.

Meanwhile, it's a bit more time pressing to find out about Youkai before we go for a familiar. This might be the difference between accidentally choosing a prankster transformed Tanuki over a Tengu or Kitsune (not that Tanuki are bad mind you). Or even impressing a more powerful youkai to let us contract with one of their similarly blessed but inexperienced children.

Velyoukai
July 27th, 2015, 04:26 PM
I don't think looking into the Matou past is very pressing. After all, Zouken will still be around for another 4 years at a minimal.

Meanwhile, it's a bit more time pressing to find out about Youkai before we go for a familiar. This might be the difference between accidentally choosing a prankster transformed Tanuki over a Tengu or Kitsune (not that Tanuki are bad mind you). Or even impressing a more powerful youkai to let us contract with one of their similarly blessed but inexperienced children.

'accidentally'

Shinji's already bought a statue. He's been locked in Tanuki Route for like a year.

Just remember how we lost our precious S-rank support with Dumbledore, though? Dead before we could break through his tsun demeanor and benefit from his old man wisdom. What if we lost Zouken before we could learn all about worms (true Matou familiars) and how Russia sucked and how to flirt with Einzbern women?!

Omida
July 27th, 2015, 04:31 PM
Yeah, Zouken will be around for quite long, even if he tends to lose bits of body from time to time. He doesn't really travel all that much either. I don't have anything against resident Evil Old Man, but he just isn't that important right now.

Learning about youkai, on the other hand, can only help with our familiar, regardless of what it will be. We don't want to accidentally offend it, right?


Well, I could be interested in those lessons about flirting with Einzbern women. I mean, unless they are locked in ten year old bodies, they tend to be attractive. It just wouldn't be Shinji if he didn't have plenty of interest in girls. And those techniques can probably be used on other women too! Truly, our grandpa knows all useful things (which still doesn't mean I change vote).

Thedoctor
July 27th, 2015, 04:45 PM
We must complete the quest our dear grandfather started.

Banging the grail.

Omida
July 27th, 2015, 05:14 PM
So are we planning to pull Justaeze out of the Grail now? Or do we simply search for Einzbern girl to succeed where our grandpa failed?

Velyoukai
July 27th, 2015, 05:17 PM
We won't know until we go visit Gramps and he gives up all the juicy details.

#VoteZouken

edit:

V - Below is crucial. It's the Headmaster vote that should have passed, but wasn't unlocked.

Kelnish
July 27th, 2015, 05:18 PM
Must get zouken into wizarding britain where he can do the most fun.

Thedoctor
July 27th, 2015, 05:34 PM
So are we planning to pull Justaeze out of the Grail now? Or do we simply search for Einzbern girl to succeed where our grandpa failed?

The answer lies in the black :neco_arc:

mangafreak7793
July 27th, 2015, 05:42 PM
'accidentally'

Shinji's already bought a statue. He's been locked in Tanuki Route for like a year.

Just remember how we lost our precious S-rank support with Dumbledore, though? Dead before we could break through his tsun demeanor and benefit from his old man wisdom. What if we lost Zouken before we could learn all about worms (true Matou familiars) and how Russia sucked and how to flirt with Einzbern women?!


What? it was a christmas gift for hillard, not for shinji? i dont understand how you came to that conclusion.

Velyoukai
July 27th, 2015, 05:59 PM
Much like most of what I've posted, it was written in humor.

mangafreak7793
July 27th, 2015, 06:00 PM
Much like most of what I've posted, it was written in humor.
humor does not translate well on a message board at times.

Nephirin
July 27th, 2015, 06:25 PM
[x] Shirou

[x]Matou History

Edit: All you nerds trying to min max rather than going for the social links. Look how great maxing out Sokaris was.

mangafreak7793
July 27th, 2015, 06:48 PM
[x] Shirou

[x]Matou History

Edit: All you nerds trying to min max rather than going for the social links. Look how great maxing out Sokaris was.

But the Matou history can be done at anytime, we have a familar journey very soon.

Kelnish
July 27th, 2015, 06:52 PM
Acquire worm familiar. Become worm familiars.

You
July 27th, 2015, 06:53 PM
Acquire worm familiar. Become worm familiars.
Best idea ever.

Velyoukai
July 27th, 2015, 07:05 PM
For all we know, Gramps Zouken has just been waiting for any Matou to have the gumption and lack of being a useless loser and approach him about the REAL HISTORY OF THE MAKIRI so he can teach them how to make their own worm familiars.

Think about it; an impressionable, young grandson hears a story about his ol' grandpa's spring-time antics and actually bothers to talk to Gramps instead of cowering in terror. The old timer agrees, the grandson has a good old-fashioned storytime about how Gramps almost brought about paradise until some chumps got jealous of how cool his familiars were and how hot his girlfriend was and chased him out of Russia. There the old man had to squat in some rice-paddy dump for generations, dealing with family that kept getting worse and kept treating him like some kind of shadowy monster controlling their lives. His family gets so bad that he has to adopt some Japanese kid just to keep magecraft running in the family name!

Then comes his favorite grandson—who didn't turn out to be useless after all!—reminding him of his glory days and gosh, you know what?

Maybe Gramps teaches Shinji something cool. Like making worms. And harems.

Vote Zouken.

Kelnish
July 27th, 2015, 07:07 PM
For all we know, Gramps Zouken has just been waiting for any Matou to have the gumption and lack of being a useless loser and approach him about the REAL HISTORY OF THE MAKIRI so he can teach them how to make their own worm familiars.

Think about it; an impressionable, young grandson hears a story about his ol' grandpa's spring-time antics and actually bothers to talk to Gramps instead of cowering in terror. The old timer agrees, the grandson has a good old-fashioned storytime about how Gramps almost brought about paradise until some chumps got jealous of how cool his familiars were and how hot his girlfriend was and chased him out of Russia. There the old man had to squat in some rice-paddy dump for generations, dealing with family that kept getting worse and kept treating him like some kind of shadowy monster controlling their lives. His family gets so bad that he has to adopt some Japanese kid just to keep magecraft running in the family name!

Then comes his favorite grandson—who didn't turn out to be useless after all!—reminding him of his glory days and gosh, you know what?

Maybe Gramps teaches Shinji something cool. Like making worms. And harems.

Vote Zouken.

+1 Kelnish likes this post.

BibliophileGoat
July 27th, 2015, 08:09 PM
[ ] Work on ofuda

We're quite weak (at least, compared to the potential threats we might face in the coming days) at the moment. So despite how tempting it is to go social, this is gonna help later.

[ ] The Matou family's past

As for this, while I almost went for the recurring dreams, seeing the others' thoughts on our dear grandpa tipped my opinion in his direction.

Cassius
July 27th, 2015, 08:46 PM
[ ] Talk to Shirou

[ ] Youkai

EnigmaticFellow
July 27th, 2015, 08:49 PM
Best idea ever.

It worked well for Zouken.

Nanao-kun
July 27th, 2015, 08:59 PM
I think I'll go with this.

[X] Work on ofuda

[X] The Matou family's past

Vagrant
July 27th, 2015, 10:38 PM
Changing my vote.
[X] Tomas
[X] Matou Past

Honestly, why the fuck are people voting for shirou? He's not the fucking protagonist, he's a minor side character we don't even need anything from.

Omida
July 28th, 2015, 12:32 AM
For all we know, Gramps Zouken has just been waiting for any Matou to have the gumption and lack of being a useless loser and approach him about the REAL HISTORY OF THE MAKIRI so he can teach them how to make their own worm familiars.

Think about it; an impressionable, young grandson hears a story about his ol' grandpa's spring-time antics and actually bothers to talk to Gramps instead of cowering in terror. The old timer agrees, the grandson has a good old-fashioned storytime about how Gramps almost brought about paradise until some chumps got jealous of how cool his familiars were and how hot his girlfriend was and chased him out of Russia. There the old man had to squat in some rice-paddy dump for generations, dealing with family that kept getting worse and kept treating him like some kind of shadowy monster controlling their lives. His family gets so bad that he has to adopt some Japanese kid just to keep magecraft running in the family name!

Then comes his favorite grandson—who didn't turn out to be useless after all!—reminding him of his glory days and gosh, you know what?

Maybe Gramps teaches Shinji something cool. Like making worms. And harems.

Vote Zouken.

Ok, I am convinced. This was beautiful.

changing my vote

[X] Work on ofuda
[X] The Matou family past

Nephirin
July 28th, 2015, 09:10 AM
Honestly, why the fuck are people voting for shirou? He's not the fucking protagonist, he's a minor side character we don't even need anything from.

Much like Sokaris when she first showed up, right? :P I don't get why you're so upset about people wanting S-Links with Shirou, it's not like he's another girl to compete with Hermoine, even if Shinji is tsundere for him in canon.

Thedoctor
July 28th, 2015, 09:20 AM
We need the bromance.

Velyoukai
July 28th, 2015, 10:49 AM
I don't know what to say to anybody in this thread who lacks the ambition of having Shinji steal the title of "Shirou's Sheath".

Just imagine Alf bearing the knowledge of one day having to type out that achievement at the end of a "Shinji Matou and X" thread.

Kishou the Badger
July 28th, 2015, 12:32 PM
Sometimes its better to know more about people than just be a close-minded magus and pursue the craft. We've seen what our choices can do, such as indirectly leading to Dumbledore's early death. We're at school level 3 for Ofuda already, so other than a duel with Tomas I don't see much reason to abuse it. And remember Shinji's Book of Magic scenario last year? He was able to win and sacrifice himself because of a close friend, Sokaris. Sometimes it takes a few words of understanding to solve issues that a mastery of spells would never do.

That, and for all the despicable things Zouken has done in recent years, Shinji here has a chance to FINALLY get on his good graces and not be his bitch.

Thedoctor
July 28th, 2015, 12:36 PM
Yeah getting on Zouken's good graces makes the most in character sense for Shinji right now.

Malgos
July 28th, 2015, 02:26 PM
Honestly, why the fuck are people voting for shirou? He's not the fucking protagonist, he's a minor side character we don't even need anything from.

Shinji got one close male friend, I'm not counting the Stone Cutters because he hardly spends time with them either. Also Shirou is a nice guy and he also recently lost his adoptive father. I don't really feel like I need people to be useful (or have something that Shinji wants/could use) to converse with them.

alfheimwanderer
July 29th, 2015, 02:25 AM
Choice 3: What should we do in our spare time?[X] Work on ofuda
Choice 4: What would you like to find out about if given the opportunity?[X] The Matou family's past

100%

Chapter 2. Bleeding Effect

What little free time he had between the regular thrashings-cum-training sessions with Sajyou Ayaka, studying Ancient Runes with his Master, and doing the various other duties required of an apprentice (scut work, mostly, like repairing things his Master didn’t want to deal with, keeping the workshop clean, and such), Matou Shinji spent working on his ofuda.

With everything that had happened in the past year, he hadn’t made much progress in working with his elemental affinities. He had managed to refine the basic non-elemental spells he knew, getting higher yields from his explosive ofuda and the like, and even a few earth aligned spells related to binding and exorcism, but the rest still lay beyond him.

Water-based techniques, in particular, proved quite stubborn, with the flows of prana resisting him at every turn, like venomous serpents writhing and twisting in a bid to break his control. And if they ever did…

…well, that way lay calamity.

Even after a year, the only ones he’d managed properly were either those which froze water or caused it to condense itself from the air. Given how most of the basic water techniques he tried had been corrupted by darkness, he knew better than to try any spells of healing; and as for spells of decay and destruction…well, losing control of any of those would likely be his end.

Touko had suggested last year that his strengths did not lay in healing, but Ayaka had gone further, given her odd affinity for yin and yang, instead of one of the conventional elements.

The girl had determined that his strong yin affinity – amplified by a wand that was itself yin-aligned – was bleeding into the rest of his craft, with an array of consequences across the board, depending how stable or unstable the purpose of each discipline was.

It didn’t affect most charms, for instance, since those had a single, clearly defined purpose, but it would negatively impact his abilities in say…transfiguration, which by its very nature involved inducing a stable system to change and transform.

…as a side effect, Ayaka had mentioned, Matou Shinji might have noticed being able to untransfigure objects with greater ease.

Which indeed he had.

And now that Shinji thought about it, this mirrored his experience with Earth and Water quite well. Earth techniques, due to the stable nature of the underlying element, weren’t affected by his yin affinity, while water techniques, with their inherent complexities and elemental instabilities, were much more easily by any imbalance in a prana flow.

So he found himself in the shop called Root of the Sky, consulting with Matsuo Hijiri, the maiden of the Tree, his original teacher in the Eastern Arts – and the woman who had crafted his wand.

“What do you think, Matsuo-san?” the practitioner of witchcraft asked respectfully, after he had laid out the specifics of the situation.

“Sajyou-san is correct in her assessment,” the other confirmed, regarding him with eyes the color of blood. “And your wand does indeed have a strong affinity for yin, as opposed to yang. This is not entirely unusual for wands made in the East, given that crafters here simply care that a wand matches the natural affinity of a given individual.”

“Oh?” Shinji inquired, noticing that she’d not said anything about wands made in the West. “Is it different elsewhere?”

The woman chuckled dryly.

“Each crafter has his or her preferences and philosophies as to what is best,” Hijiri replied, the ghost of a smile playing across her lips. “Garrick Ollivander, who has supplied Britain with wands for many years now, uses only phoenix feathers, the heartstrings of drakes, or unicorn hairs – all powerful yang-aligned cores – providing his customers with a certain consistency of performance. Others disagree, using what cores are required for a more tailored wand, one that more closely matches the affinities of the wielder. Due to this, the results are less consistent in general, but tend to be better in certain areas.”

“So, say…a wand may be particularly well-suited for binding or sealing – or the Dark Arts, but not say…transfiguration?” Shinji said, holding up the length of cherry she’d made for him two years ago.

“Exactly so, in your case,” Hijiri noted, nodding slightly, “though to be precise, your wand is well-suited for an offensive role in combat. While these are usually classified as the Dark Arts, as opposed to spells used in Defense, in practice the distinction is near non-existent.”

“Is that so…?” Shinji murmured, recalling one of Lockhart’s lectures on how the Unforgivable Curses were not Unforgivable in Japan. Perhaps Hijiri could explain to him why the distinction had been made elsewhere then?

“Quite. In regions that have known much in the way of conflict – Central and Northern Europe, for instance, or Asia, the Dark Arts are recognized as simply another tool for self-preservation. In more sheltered areas such as Britain – whose practitioners of witchcraft were spared the worst of the fighting due to the presence of the Clock Tower, they were seen as a possible threat to those in power instead.”

“…which is why some were banned – and others regulated – after the British Ministry of Magic rose to power.”

“Indeed,” Hijiri affirmed. “And so classes in this style of magic were subsequently named Defense against the Dark Arts, biasing the population against once valuable spells and techniques.”

“…why not in Mahoutokoro then?” Shinji inquired, curious about the differences.

The maiden of the tree was silent for a moment, her expression quite out of place on a face that seemed as young as hers.

When she replied at last, her words were flat and emotionless.

“Because we are not a society formed only of practitioners of Witchcraft, Matou Shinji,” she spoke, each word ringing with a sense of history. “And it has never been our way to simply separate light from dark, given our view of yin and yang as an indivisible whole. Medicine cures, but it does so by destroying that which makes us ill. The offensive arts damage and destroy – but in the process protect. That aside, we know full well of struggle and conflict, and so have a keen interest in ensuring we remain strong.”

That we shall not be conquered.

“Then what of China?”

“They do not interact much with the West, except on their terms,” the maiden noted, shaking her head. “Neither the Tower nor the Confederation have much influence there, given that China boasts its own schools of Thaumaturgy, facilities for training Witches, and the like. To be frank, much of our lore does come from that country, though we do not often admit it. We prefer to learn what we can from the West, however, to blend the best of several traditions and create something stronger than the sum of its parts.”

“Like Yin and Yang.”

“Precisely.”

This time, it was Shinji’s turn to be silent as he mused over what to ask. When he did speak up, he was more hesitant than before, given that it was the true reason he was here. He’d come for advice, after all, and had a bit of trepidation as to how she would answer.

“Speaking of yin and yang, do you recommendations as to my training, Matsuo-san?” he inquired. He knew she was quite experienced with these arts – much more than he – and he was curious what she would advise, given his limited time. “Per Kaiduka’s recommendation, I have begun focusing on my yin affinity to gain some control over it, but…”

“…that is a long-term solution, not an immediate aid,” Hijiri filled in helpfully.

“Well. Yes,” Shinji admitted. “There’s also the fact that I spend most of the year over at Hogwarts, not here, and need something I can work on there in the absence of a teacher.”

“A valid point, Matou,” the maiden noted, regarding the boy with her piercing gaze. “I suppose there are a few options before you, but before I make further suggestions, be aware that Earth and Water are very different elemental styles, and that learning both at once would be quite difficult, especially when greatly disposed to either yin or yang.”

“With water being the most closely tied to Yin, yes?”

“Correct. Still, even for those with a more balanced yin-yang alignment, the general recommendation is to master one element at a time,” the miko explained, a quirky smile crossing her lips. “For you, this is all the more so.”

“I see,” Shinji murmured, though he frowned as he recalled last summer, and how Hijiri had made him work on both. “But after you tested me, you had me work on water and earth.”

“That is because the harnessing the elemental aspect of the craft is difficult,” Hijiri responded with a frown. “There have been many who do not go beyond the basics, using it only as a supplement for their craft. Others only have one elemental affinity, so the choice of what to train is simple. In your case, however, you had two, so I needed to see which you were best at, and how your affinities and your underlying alignment would react with one another.”

“…I can see that,” the Matou scion noted. “You wanted to see which elements I was able to use in practice, and to what extent.”

“Exactly. Normally, this would take one term, after which we would then choose a single element for you to focus on, but in your case, there was no time.”

“Since I study at Hogwarts, you mean.”

“Exactly. Given the lack of a dedicated training period, I thought it would be more useful to allow you to experiment over the course of the year and see if you could overcome your challenges with water, but unfortunately, such was not the case,” the shrine maiden explained, shrugging her shoulders. “And so our conversation today.”

“Ah.”

“As you’ve stated, you find Earth element techniques easy enough to use,” she summarized. “It is one of the easiest to start with, and mastery will enhance your binding and sealing techniques. Unsurprisingly, water, a far more volatile element, is proving more difficult, but then, that is the element of disruption and decay – as well as healing. Thus far, you find that your yin energy corrupts any attempt to use the element, correct?”

“Yes.”

“An effect I have seen before,” Hijiri stated blandly. “The easiest option would be to simply focus on Yin until you manage to control the bleeding effect, but I somehow doubt you have the patience for that. Secondly, you could choose one of your elemental affinities to work with in addition to yin. For that, I would recommend earth, since it is less likely to lead to mishaps without supervision.”

“And if I chose water?”

The miko just raised an eyebrow.

“Then I would suggest finding a very safe place to practice it, so that if you lose control of it, the only victim will be yourself,” Hijiri intoned ominously, the baleful expression on her face causing Shinji to swallow and take a step back. “You come from a family of magi, so I needn’t tell you about walking with death.”

“Ah.”

Her expression softened slightly as she shook her head.

“That and use a different wand,” the miko continued, eying the mystic code she’d crafted for him. “The one you hold is certainly powerful, but it compounds your existing yin imbalance.”

“Any other suggestions?”

“Well…there are rituals through which your affinity may be altered, but those are usually quite painful. In addition, the altered affinity is usually not as powerful as that which it was changed from.”

…rituals similar to those by which Matou Zouken had given the adopted Sakura a water affinity when she had been born with only one for “Imaginary Numbers” and other things of shadow.

“…no, I don’t think the last is a viable option,” Shinji responded quickly. “But thank you for the suggestion, Matsuo-san.”

“True. You wouldn’t want to be left a potential vegetable when your lady love arrives, would you?” Hijiri quipped merrily, her mood seemingly restored. “After all, she’d be quite disappointed if you weren’t there after you so gallantly asked if she could join you in finding a familiar.”

Shinji’s response was to look down, trying to hide a face flushed incandescent red.

“I-it’s really not like that,” he grumbled, refusing to meet the shrine maiden’s eye. “She…she’s just curious about magical creatures outside of Britain, like I’ve already explained.” He sighed, shaking his head. “Her father saw something like a Kirin in the past.”

Hijiri blinked.

“…I was unaware that one had been seen in recent memory. You are aware of how rare sightings are, I presume?”

“I am,” Shinji acknowledged. “Her father publishes a magazine which features odd animals, her favorite of which looks very much like a Kirin, though she calls it a Crumple-Horned Snorkack.”

“Curious,” the shrine maiden noted, regarding the boy oddly. “Do you intend to teach her any of your craft, I wonder?”

“…that I don’t know.”

And he didn’t, honestly. It was true that she knew some of his secrets, but he wasn’t sure about letting any one person know all of them. That and he was pretty sure that if he taught Luna how to use ofuda, Hermione would be quite irritated with him, even if he just wanted someone to spar with, and with hom he could talk about his Craft.

Harry, the only other person who knew something about ofuda at Hogwarts – because Shinji had taught him – was usually too busy for a spar, and too closely watched by most of Slytherin. The Stone Cutters themselves had an agreement about sharing skills, but Hillard had been busy as Watch Captain – and presumably would be Head Boy this year – and who knew the Twins were up to.

…well, he could practice against Peeves, he supposed, which would be interesting, even if the poltergeist couldn’t fight as a practitioner of witchcraft might.

Still, he suspected Luna probably had a yang alignment and would make a good healer, something that the Stone Cutters gravely lacked, and it would be nice to talk with someone who appreciated more of the intricacies and oddities of the moonlit world, instead of acting as if everything was just…normal.

“The decision is yours, of course,” the miko said solemnly, “though I would ask that if you do teach something of our arts, you obtain an agreement not to spread the knowledge.”

“I can do that,” Shinji said quickly. It was a good precaution, after all. Though… “Do you know anything of the ancestry of practitioners of witchcraft, perchance?”

“You mean how your kind is distantly related to fey and youkai?” Hijiri questioned, sending a shiver down Shinji’s spine. Sokaris had said she was aware of the inhuman origins of practitioners, but this was the first time someone had finally said it outright. “What of it?”

‘Ah…so I was right…’

“…is it possible to tap into the abilities of that heritage?” the Matou scion inquired, his expression intent and almost…hungry. If that was a way to reach more power…

“In several ways. The animagus transformation is the most obvious of these, of course, but one may also gain other abilities, depending on one’s specific heritage,” the miko explained. “In some, the supernatural blood is stronger, so they may sense things others do not, or have a more instinctive gift with their Craft. I would caution against exploring this avenue too deeply before you are ready, however.”

“Oh? Why is that?”

“The gift may be awakened in a corrupted manner, such as lycanthropy, or the aspect you awaken may be incompatible with your skillset.”

“…ah.”

…a valid reason to stay away, though if one was to speak of those able to sense things others did not and who had a different common sense than most, Luna Lovegood would certainly fit the bill.

“Is there anything else I can do for you?” Hijiri inquired politely.

“Ah, no. Thank you, Matsuo-san. You’ve been a great help.”

“Hmph, well it is only natural for me to help a former student,” the shrine maiden noted. “Do choose your path soon, Matou Shinji. You, more than the others I teach, have only a little bit of time.”

“That much I am aware of.”

“Hmm, I suppose there is one more thing,” Hijiri noted after a moment.

“Yes?”

Reaching behind the counter, the miko withdrew a small volume that was titled Field Guide to Japan’s Youkai.

“If you do decide to go with Earth, I will lend this to you for your journey – it has some annotations by Kaiduka and Sajyou-san found it rather helpful in securing her familiar,” she said with a thin smile. “If not, well, I suppose I can recommend a good shop for another wand. Or a water-specific catalyst.”

“Oh? You wouldn’t craft it for me?”

“Fufu…you wouldn’t be able to afford the price for my services,” the woman chuckled, hiding her mouth with her sleeve.

Shinji was uncomfortably reminded of that other shop he’d encountered in Mahoutokoro, whose odd shopkeeper had demanded an equal price for whatever they desired, paid not in money, but in trade.

Still…

“Thank you for the offer, Matsuo-san. I will…think about it,” he said, not wanting to make a snap decision.

“See that you do,” she said, placing the book behind the counter again. “But don’t think too long. You of all people know the price of indecision.”

100%

That night, before he went to bed, Matou Shinji wrote his grandfather – if Zouken was truly his grandfather and not a relative far older than that – about the enigmatic reply he’d received. He knew from studying the Matou grimoires that their family’s arts were largely of the water element, with a specialization in decay, but wanted to know more.

Was it related to the dreams he’d been having ever since he started training his yin-affinity? Were the worms there like what his grandfather used to create?

What was the true history of his family? He knew that they had been one of the three Founding Families of the Fuyuki Grail War, but beyond that, there were only rumors – and that odd play, Makar Zolgen.

‘Now that I think about it, why did Lockhart choose that play?’

There were many questions, many choices, many roads.

He needed more information. No, he needed more time.

But both of those were luxuries Matou Shinji did not have.

100%

Choice 5: Given that our yin affinity seems to be bleeding over into our elemental ofuda, Hijiri has recommended that we choose one element to work on first. Focusing only on Yin would be ideal, of course, but given that Shinji has no full-time teacher back at Hogwarts, that is likely impractical. Thus the choice. (choose one)

[ ] Earth
[ ] Water

Choice 6: The offer of a field guide also prompts Shinji to do a bit of early shopping for the trip, given that he doesn't know what to expect. When one is going on a dangerous adventure, one shouldn't just go unprepared, after all. Given that he's squeezing this into his spare time, he has time to look for one of these. (choose one)

[ ] Robe Upgrades (physical and magic resist)
[ ] A spare wand
[ ] An [elemental] catalyst for Ofuda
[ ] A Field Guide to Japan’s Youkai (new)
[ ] A Charmed tent (to travel in style)

Kuroyuki
July 29th, 2015, 02:41 AM
[X] Earth
[X] Robe Upgrades (physical and magic resist)

Any defense to our paperthin defenses would be helpful especially since the years get more dangerous. Also messing around with water without a dedicated instructor is you know... Deadly?

mangafreak7793
July 29th, 2015, 02:49 AM
[ ] Earth
Robe upgrades

Thedoctor
July 29th, 2015, 02:49 AM
Earth.
Robe upgrades.

Basically what kuro said. And the robes Could save out hides one day.

arsdraconis
July 29th, 2015, 02:56 AM
[x] water
[x] water elemental catalyst for Ofuda

we have a good amount of favor to cash in with the ghosts, one might be well versed enough in the arcane to provide us with some guidance in the element. Failing that, the book of spell and room of requirements is always available for use, the first one should be almost completely safe, but less freely available, while the latter would create the most ideal condition to safely practice the art

hopefully gramps would give us pointer on manifesting our bloodline, Shinji's the only true blood Matou that doesn't shun his legacy after all.

EnigmaticFellow
July 29th, 2015, 03:10 AM
[X] Earth
[X] Robe Upgrades (physical and magic resist)

We won't have an ofuda teacher in Hogwarts, so it's best to go with the safer option seeing as there won't be someone around to help him if something bad comes up from a water spell gone wrong. Not to mention the earth choice also gets him a free field guide. Robes should be self-explanatory.

Omida
July 29th, 2015, 03:14 AM
[X] Earth

As we will be in Hogwarts for most of the year, better be cautious with our experiments. While we have the mindset of magus and thus aren't afraid of the dangers our craft presents, it's wouldn't do to kill ourselves by accident. Better to go with something that comes easier to us.

As for what to get before our trip, I vote for
[X]Robe upgrades

Since guide comes with choosing earth affinity, we can get even more defense. Working in group at Hogwarts means we can be excused for not improving offensive capabilities as fast.

Malgos
July 29th, 2015, 04:08 AM
Earth is the safer option so going to go with that, too bad we can't await Zouken reply first would be better to make this choice after his input. Also apparently we get the guide for free and can grab another item on the secondary list so that's nice, too. Although it almost feels like getting the guide when choosing Earth is like a consolation for picking the "inferior" choice.

As for the second option, I think I'll go with a spare wand. That way that is out of the way, if he wants to practice without his yin affinity bleeding into his spells too much. Also opens up the dual wield option for maximum style points, jokes aside having a secret spare wand would be pretty handy in a fight.

All That Is Left Unsaid
July 29th, 2015, 04:33 AM
Hmm, tough choices. The earth/water issue seems like a case of immediate vs. long term benefits. Earth will grant more initial benefits for ofuda use, and access to a tome with annotations from Kaiduka, which will help in selecting and understanding a familiar who may be able to offer further aid in developing the earth affinity. Conversely, water will probably be difficult without an extra catylyst, and my guess is that Shinji will have to sacrifice something to gain this catalyst, given the shop he was thinking of.

Essentially earth allows immediate gains without loss, while water requires immediate loss (catalyst from the trade shop) in order to make reasonable progress, though it will presumably have greater long term gains.

What those gains are however, I cannot guess, aside from water possibly having synergy with Grunka Zouken's Social Link, or developing stronger destructive abilities via the decay aspect.

Still, I think I will go with

[x] Earth
[x] Robe Upgrades (physical and magic resist)

Nephirin
July 29th, 2015, 08:30 AM
You people are terrible friends.

[x] Water

You know, I know she pointed out that we should probably go Earth. But we're a Matou, water's our affinity. Let's get some control over it.

[x] Spare Wand

Seriously, what's with everyone doing robes? We'll just have to replace them as Shinji gets older. Meanwhile the chapter kept talking about how a Yang wand would help Shinji get a lot more control over his craft.

Velyoukai
July 29th, 2015, 08:40 AM
[x]Water
Shinji can't just run away from something just because it's hard(er) and potentially lethal. If he had that kind of mentality, he'd have never went and talked to Gramps all the way in the first adventure! Choose water to keep Shinji's internal fortitude strong and flexible!

[x]Water-Element Catalyst
Completely tied to the Water above. Shinji can't be spreading himself too thin or he's just going to be a jack-of-all supporter! Get a keen, focused head start on Water early on now, while there's still some time left in Mahoutokoro, so Shinji can get past that first big hurdle of his Water limitations in a good environment. The better advantage our boy's got while he's in a home field, the better he can work with it once he's away at Hogwarts.

Mint
July 29th, 2015, 09:35 AM
[X] Earth
This because it may help us more with our apprenticeship to Touko.

[X] An [elemental] catalyst for Ofuda

Thedoctor
July 29th, 2015, 02:51 PM
Awesome Offense Won't Help If Someone Pulls a fast one on us.

arsdraconis
July 29th, 2015, 04:47 PM
you really can't make decision based on kneejerk reaction. Shinji of all people should know the value of playing the long game, especially now that he has insight on his grandfather.

Not choosing water because it's the harder option is just idiotic when it's the focus of his entire bloodline, while also giving him option to try and get in tune with his Yin side

Thedoctor
July 29th, 2015, 04:51 PM
I'm changing to chaos

EnigmaticFellow
July 29th, 2015, 05:06 PM
you really can't make decision based on kneejerk reaction. Shinji of all people should know the value of playing the long game, especially now that he has insight on his grandfather.

Not choosing water because it's the harder option is just idiotic when it's the focus of his entire bloodline, while also giving him option to try and get in tune with his Yin side

I don't think you're exactly understanding what the issue is. It's not so much that learning water is harder so much as learning water is significantly more hazardous to Shinji's health. Without an instructor around, a mishap in practicing could lead him to be incapacitated at the very least to outright death at the worst. Both outcomes are hardly optimal for either living or learning. If we really wanted to go with the hard path, we would have Shinji focusing solely on Yin to get rid of that bleedover effect, but that's not really a choice seeing as Shinji lacks the patience for that.

alfheimwanderer
July 29th, 2015, 05:45 PM
Not choosing water because it's the harder option is just idiotic when it's the focus of his entire bloodline, while also giving him option to try and get in tune with his Yin side

One thing you may be overlooking is that this is a choice on what to work on first - not what you are limited to forever. And if you want to play the long game, weigh all the options very​ carefully

Kelnish
July 29th, 2015, 05:47 PM
Study gun-kata instead. I feel like bullets are faster than killinh curses and wand play.

Mattias
July 29th, 2015, 06:54 PM
[X] Earth. I've been watching Avatar again, and Toph is best.

[X] A spare wand. While Robes are really helpful in buffing our squishy wizard, it always seems like the majority of villains in both series, much prefer to disarm/disable an enemy and gloat for hours, and a spare wand would help give us something to shiv them with when they're distracted monologuing, while robes just make us slightly more durable, in a land where every major threat is already vastly outclassing us, and could blow through that extra +10 in a flash.

Nephirin
July 29th, 2015, 06:55 PM
Upon thinking it over, I'm changing my vote to Earth. Getting the book as a freebie makes it a little too worthwhile, even though I'd prefer Water. Sticking with the Wand as the backup though.

Cassius
July 29th, 2015, 07:02 PM
[ ] Earth

[ ] Robes

gesalt
July 29th, 2015, 07:51 PM
[X] Water
[X] Spare wand

Vagrant
July 29th, 2015, 08:28 PM
[X] Water
[X] Elemental Catalyst

Son, we must follow the family attribute, and we must do it the way a real magus does so, with death ever at his side!

KageX
July 29th, 2015, 09:56 PM
[ ] Earth
[ ] A Field Guide to Japan’s Youkai (new)

He has many, many other things to focus on and it is best to be prepared for them, so getting some new skills sooner rather then later is a good idea.

Shinji can always focus on Water and new robes later on, but establishing a "strong base" first seems like a very good idea.

Plus a new wand would probably set him back a bit if he gets a proper core, and given that the English seem to be "ignorant" of the reasons why he would have a second one this could cause some issues down the line.

BibliophileGoat
July 29th, 2015, 09:57 PM
[X] Water

It's more dangerous than earth, sure, and it might take more effort to get working, but in the end it'll give us the most bang for our buck. Plus, we've already decided to start looking into the Matou family history, and historically, our magic specializes in water. So we'll have some nice synergy there.
[X] Spare Wand

It was made quite clear that a wand that leaned less toward the yin side of things would help us with getting a handle on the water element, while the robe upgrades will just give us a passive defense but. In the long run, a yang wand will help us with our water magic and give us a backup wand to use, expanding our variety of strategies. The robe upgrades, on the other hand, won't give us much at all in the long run.

Though I must admit, the Field Guide to Japan's Youkai is extremely tempting. Dilemmas, dilemmas...

All That Is Left Unsaid
July 29th, 2015, 10:28 PM
I'm changing my second vote from robes to a spare wand, because a second wand might allow more progress with transfiguration, along with the benefits others have listed.

Nephirin
July 29th, 2015, 10:44 PM
[ ] Earth
[ ] A Field Guide to Japan’s Youkai (new)

He has many, many other things to focus on and it is best to be prepared for them, so getting some new skills sooner rather then later is a good idea.

Shinji can always focus on Water and new robes later on, but establishing a "strong base" first seems like a very good idea.

Plus a new wand would probably set him back a bit if he gets a proper core, and given that the English seem to be "ignorant" of the reasons why he would have a second one this could cause some issues down the line.

We already get a used copy of the field guide if we go Earth.

KageX
July 29th, 2015, 11:37 PM
You think two copies would not be useful in the future when he can get the robes and traveling tent elsewhere? With having two on hand he can give one to a friend and have conversations with them about it later on.

I am certainly not hinting that he should give the new one to a sweet young girl who is interested in such things!

No sir not at all! (ends terrible attempt at lying about his motives)

But seriously getting a copy of the book for Luna and keeping one for himself seems like a good idea.

It would certainly improve their relationship, and create many opportunities for them to converse in the future.

Magus
July 30th, 2015, 07:41 AM
[x] Earth - safer for our health

[x] Spare Wand - it would just be like alf to down the line make sure that we're disarmed or that the worm-core wand is destroyed and that we'll wish we had the option of a spare wand. Plus, it would help shore up some of our weak areas.

Nephirin
July 30th, 2015, 08:37 AM
You think two copies would not be useful in the future when he can get the robes and traveling tent elsewhere? With having two on hand he can give one to a friend and have conversations with them about it later on.

I am certainly not hinting that he should give the new one to a sweet young girl who is interested in such things!

No sir not at all! (ends terrible attempt at lying about his motives)

But seriously getting a copy of the book for Luna and keeping one for himself seems like a good idea.

It would certainly improve their relationship, and create many opportunities for them to converse in the future.

Or he could, y'know. Read the book and then lend it out. It's kind of a waste of a slot to get two of the same book.

alfheimwanderer
July 30th, 2015, 04:23 PM
Choice 5: [X] Earth
Choice 6: [X] A spare wand100%

Writing in Progress,but feel free to suggest possible wands for him to try.

mangafreak7793
July 30th, 2015, 05:47 PM
Veela Hair?

Kelnish
July 30th, 2015, 05:54 PM
Hair of a magus.

Like really, a lock of his sisters hair would probably have some inherent juju.

gesalt
July 30th, 2015, 05:56 PM
Something yang related like a dragon scale

All That Is Left Unsaid
July 30th, 2015, 06:23 PM
A yatagarasu feather. Their affiliation with the sun would probably make the wand yang aligned, but might give it a strong fire affinity as well.

alfheimwanderer
July 30th, 2015, 06:55 PM
You know, I thought about giving him a redwood wand, since they are strongly attracted to witches and wizards who already possess the admirable ability to fall on their feet, to make the right choice, to snatch advantage from catastrophe

...but given the choices you've all made up to now, I don't think that's warranted. :P

Magus
July 30th, 2015, 07:16 PM
You know, I thought about giving him a redwood wand, since they are strongly attracted to witches and wizards who already possess the admirable ability to fall on their feet, to make the right choice, to snatch advantage from catastrophe

...but given the choices you've all made up to now, I don't think that's warranted. :P

Well, that's ominous.

Velyoukai
July 30th, 2015, 07:44 PM
Good. A Makiri doesn't need to be favored by luck!

arsdraconis
July 31st, 2015, 12:34 AM
Agarwood wand with Raijuu whisker core? Maybe Tsuchinoko's tail or tongue if you are going more for earth element

agarwood is a type of wood that gained its value and quality through infection from a mold, giving it fragrant quality that is desirable for incense used in meditation. It could represent something like darkness and corruption does not necessarily lead to evil

alfheimwanderer
July 31st, 2015, 05:39 AM
Chapter 3. The Road Less Taken

Shivering in the cold Hokkaido night, Matou Shinji found that he could barely keep himself awake as he sat by the flickering blue flames that served as a campfire. His fellow travelers were already asleep after a long day, and besides, it was his turn on watch.

When trekking through remote regions far beyond the reach of modern civilization – and well within the territories of several youkai clans – it was generally advisable to remain vigilant, even if one was traveling in the company of a powerful witch like Kaiduka’s apprentice.

In the distance could be heard the plaintive howl of a lonely wolf, the mournful sound sending shivers down Shinji’s spine – especially as the Ezo wolf (one of the two subspecies once found in Japan) was supposed to be extinct, even if there had been unconfirmed sightings north of Sapporo.

‘Wolf youkai then…?’

Maybe one of the tengu, fierce, but protective spirits of the forests and mountains – such as that which surrounded them now? Their depictions varied, sometimes appearing in the old tales in the likeness of crows or birds of prey, sometimes like wolves, but always as fearsome creatures of great speed and power, who tore like shooting stars through any resistance.

There was no moon in the sky, and the tapestry of the stars above, mixed with feeble firelight, provided what little illumination there was, with every noise, every last rustle or sigh of the midnight wind seeming magnified – more ominous since he could not see where they came from.

‘Sajyou-san said that in the wilderness, there might be bears. Or youkai about.’

As the one on watch, Matou Shinji felt very small, and very much alone – not to mention, more than a little unprepared, even with a wand in his hand.

But then, the entire trip so far had reminded him of that.

For even with a mentality befitting a magus, and the acceptance of the very real possibility of death, Matou Shinji was coming to realize that he had led a relatively sheltered existence. In Fuyuki, he had had all the modern conveniences of technology available, and all the power of wealth besides. If he wanted something to eat, he could just walk to a restaurant or place a call for takeout. If he wanted to participate in something, his family would make it happen. And he never had to worry about where to sleep, where to wash, or earning his keep – not really.

At Hogwarts and Mahoutokoro, he’d had to do more to keep his place, but the basics, such as food and housing had never been a concern. Mahoutokoro featured restaurants in the city as well as a cafeteria at the school, and Hogwarts, well, it had House Elves that cooked and cleaned and more.

But here, surrounded by the wilderness, not even those basics were certain, especially as he didn’t know – well, hadn’t known – how to cook, or how to apply his knowledge of herbology to feeding himself, and more to the point, had never been camping or trekking before.

In the back of his mind, he’d thought that finding a familiar would be a simple affair, especially with Kaiduka’s assistance. That perhaps the fox would introduce him to some of the young youkai in the City who might want to go on a journey to the West and learn about another land.

Yet it was he who was on a journey – a journey on foot to the Shiretoko Peninsula, perhaps the most remote region in all of Japan. Fittingly, its name was derived from the Ainu for "sir etok", meaning the end of the world.

And it certainly felt like it. Aside from his companions, Luna Lovegood and Sajyou Ayaka, he hadn’t seen another person in days, not since they met with Kaiduka in the small town of Kamikawa, where the fox had outlined the specifics of their itinerary and treated them to a bowl of what might be the most delicious ramen he’d ever tasted.

They’d had the salt ramen – of which only 20 bowls were made each day, with both soup and noodles made using the meltwater of Daisetsuzan (the “Great Snowy Mountains”), with the natural salt of Lake Saroma used in the both, and roasted bird fillet, a pine nut, a fine strips of leek, sesame seeds, and fine strips of red pepper as toppings.

…as advertised, it was delicious.

The details of the trip had been more difficult to swallow, given that he’d never expected to go on a month long trek into the wilds. Luna took it in stride, but then, as he’d discovered, she was used to these kinds of trips each summer, when she and her father would go looking for the Crumple-Horned Snorkack. The only difference this summer was that her father had been invited to give a series of lectures on the magical creatures of Britain at the Mahoutokoro School of Witchcraft, and would not be joining them.

And Ayaka…well, she’d done this before, and knew what to expect.

Both of them had packed accordingly, each with a tent and various supplies, while Shinji had not. With the miko’s words about his wand’s yin affinity amplifying his innate yin-yang imbalance – and hindering his abilities with transfiguration – ringing in his head, he’d focused on finding a second wand that wouldn’t impair him so.

This, needless to say, took a great deal of time.

He’d tried out any number of shops, and a truly dazzling array of wands, but none reacted to him until he visited the oddly named Asplund’s Shop of Horrors.

The shopkeeper, a strange bespectacled man who admitted to being a sociopath born with an empty heart, specialized in things that were…unusual, in curios and trinkets that one wouldn’t find in other shops.

For instance, a thirteen and a half inch wand of Yew with a Phoenix Feather core that had come to him all the way from Eastern Europe, having changed hands many times as it sought to find a worthy Master.

Yew wands were quite rare, of course, and their true Masters tended to be…unusual, sometimes even notorious, with a particularly dark and fearsome reputation in the spheres of duelling and all curses. Combined with a phoenix feather, making it capable of an exceedingly broad range of spells, it was quite a potent instrument…

…sadly, however, this wand did not react to Shinji in any way, but then phoenix feather cores were tricky things and difficult to please.

Next, the shopkeeper had presented him with the one of his more unusual items in his inventory – a redwood wand with a drake heartstring core, eleven inches in length.

As the man related, wands of redwood were strongly attracted to practitioners of witchcraft who possessed the admirable ability to fall on their feet, to make the right choice, to snatch advantage from catastrophe, and he’d always found the concept of fortune an intriguing thing.

But this too failed to react in Shinji’s hands, which he found more troubling.

The shopkeeper had sighed and gave a considering hmm, retrieving a third wand – one that stopped Shinji cold at how much it looked like his late mother’s.

“Ah, you’ve seen a willow wand before then?” the man asked curiously. “Unusual wands, usually made for those with some…insecurity, no matter how well they try to hide it. Of course, they also tend to choose those with the greatest potential as well…”

This wand, unlike the others before, evoked a response, growing warm in his hands, with the proprietor of the shop nodding as if he’d predicted this might be the case.

“Not bad, not bad at all,” the man rasped, taking the wand from Shinji’s fingers. “If this last one doesn’t work, then the willow and unicorn hair wand will be yours…”

And then the last one touched his fingers, and a dense, grey fog filled the room, only being dispelled once the other snapped his fingers.

“…ah, one of the oldest wands in my collection. A Gregorovitch, in fact,” the other mused, eying the boy as if he were a curious specimen that he wished to study. “Hazel wood with a Coral core, 10 inches in length.”

Shinji blinked upon hearing this.

“Coral?” he echoed.

“A creature of transformations and flows,” the bespectacled shopkeeper elaborated, taking the wand and placing it into a box. “Quite an interesting thing to pair with hazel, given how sensitive that wood is to its owner’s emotional state, like the ebb and flow of the tides themselves. What is most intriguing though, is that these wands have the unique ability to detect water in hidden places, and will emit silvery, tear-shaped puffs of smoke if passing over concealed springs and wells.”

“…water, you say?”

“Indeed. In any case, since this wand has chosen you, it is yours,” the man related, his lips drawing back into a predatory smile. “But first…the price.”

Oddly enough, the man hadn’t asked for money or the beads of crystallized prana that served as such in Mahoutokoro, asking for something more than mere wealth. With his experience in the other shop where he'd had to pay an equivalent price guiding him, he thought it would be problematic to run - and well, he needed a second wand, so in the end, he settled for trying to make the best deal possible. In the end, he’d haggled the man down to accepting the Complete Works of William Shakespeare that Hermione had gifted to him – the first gift she’d ever given anyone - and nothing else.

...only, the man had seemed pleased.

“Yes…quite a bit of expectation bound up in such a tome,” the man had remarked after the trade was complete. “The folly of youth and emotion. Innocence, they say. A most interesting source of mystery and chaos. Methinks I got the better end of the deal.”

Then Shinji had been allowed to go, wondering why, even though he’d bargained the man down to a single tome in exchange for the wand, he felt as if he’d lost something…precious.

And why, as he came to that realization and looked back, the man had simply smiled…with Shinji swallowing his question and redoubling his pace.

“…you visited where?” Hijiri had asked after the fact, shaking her head. “Matou, of all the shops…”

“…is there something wrong with that shop?” Shinji had questioned, perhaps a little defensively. “I mean, I did get a second wand…”

“You did,” she allowed slowly. “Just be sure it was worth the price.”

“A book?”

“Matou, you of all people should know that dealings in the shadows are rarely as straightforward as they seem,” the miko remarked. “There are shops here that demand a price in value and things of visible worth. And then there are shops that demand a price more subtle.”

“And yours?”

The woman regarded the boy for a long moment before she answered.

“It depends on what you wish to buy. But as I said, you alone could not afford it,” Matsuo Hijiri responded honestly. “Still, I presume that since you did not ask me for a recommendation, that you are choosing to focus on your Earth alignment for the time being?”

Shinji just nodded.

“Very well,” she noted, reaching behind the counter and handing the boy the annotated Field Guide to Japan’s Youkai. “Then this is yours for the duration of the journey.”

“Hm?”

Hijiri had just chuckled, hiding her mouth with a sleeve.

“Well, you’ll find the details sooner or later. Sooner, rather, since Kaiduka will meet you in a few days,” she quipped, before leaving him to his business.

If he’d only realized what journey meant at the time, perhaps he would have focused on acquiring provisions and some kind of tent instead of spending his time looking for a new wand, or spent the last few days preparing, but he hadn’t.

Even when he met Luna and her father up in Maruyama Park and escorted them to the school, with the young girl telling him of the time they’d spent in Japan so far, and how she’d enjoyed going through Aokigahara – the great sea of trees at the base of Mt. Fuji that was historically associated with demons in Japanese mythology, it hadn’t really clicked for him how difficult it normally was to find a new creature.

Until Kaiduka had met them, briefed them, and left, with Shinji ill-equipped to venture into the wilds compared to his companions.

(Some would say that as long as one had a wand, one was never quite ill-equipped, but one would be wrong, especially given that Shinji had a less than ideal grasp of transfiguration, the art by which most lacks could be remedied).

Shinji had remedied this – partially – by cramming into a mokeskin pouch as much in the way of Spam, processed meats, instant ramen and other things as he could, but that only accounted for a portion of his provisions.

He’d be out in a week, at best.

He hadn’t had too much trouble keeping up during the walk at least, or at least he hadn’t complained as he’d begun to tire, while the others kept walking and walking and walking, discussing the wildlife one could expect to find, the edible herbs in the region, the politics among youkai and some things about Mahoutokoro.

It was a mercy when they finally came to a halt – after one of the most exhausting days of his life – but as it turned out, his misery was only beginning.

They’d set up camp – with Shinji forced to admit that he didn’t have a tent, and didn’t know how to set one up. Ayaka had been somewhat annoyed to hear that, but had been mollified when Luna had offered to share hers with Shinji, since charmed tents tended to be spacious enough for several people, with a desk, seats, even a kitchen and bedding.

…there was only one problem: Luna’s tent had only one bed, and Shinji had no sleeping bag, though as Ayaka was planning on having them sleep in shifts, due to the danger of the untamed lands, it wasn’t that big a concern.

Except for the fact that it would be hard for Matou Shinji to fall asleep in a bed that smelled like Luna Lovegood – like the woods, blended with hints of plum, vanilla, and rainwater, and that would retain much of her warmth when he climbed into it.

The bigger concern was that he didn’t know how to cook at all.

Why, he didn’t even know how to prepare the packaged ramen he’d crammed into his pouches – a fact which left Ayaka somewhat incredulous. She’d demanded that he demonstrate, only to bite her tongue as she saw him flounder in the kitchen.

This…well, everyone had to start somewhere, she rationalized, with both she and Luna moving over and showing him how to prepare (and not overcook) his pre-cooked blocks of instant noodles, how to add things like Spam, chili paste, and canned vegetables to the broth to make the meal more satisfying, and how a few fresh herbs and vegetables could go a long way towards making something taste better than instant.

As they ate that night, the fox’s apprentice had offered to teach both of them a few things about herblore, with Shinji catching a half muttered remark that it was either that or end up being poisoned by an idiot.

…which hurt, quite frankly, since being thought of as an idiot was the last Shinji wanted.

Perhaps that was why, when Sajyou-san asked him to dispose of the trash, Shinji felt he had to do something, even though he didn’t know the Vanishing Charm – and was unwilling to use one of his mokeskin pouches for garbage.

So he’d gone outside, put all the trash in a pile, and drawn up a basic warding circle of runes around them as he prepared to use one of his water spells – his most basic of water spells – to simply dissolve it out of existence.

…but Ayaka had caught him before he even started, and asked him what he was doing. When he explained that he was planning to use his corrupted water spells in place of a vanishing charm…well, the girl pretty much exploded.

Or at least that was what he figured happened when he found himself on the ground, looking up at the sky, feeling like his skin had been burned off, his head ringing and throbbing with pain.

“Selfish…idiot…” he made out, with only bits and pieces of her words coming through. “Do you have any idea what would have happened if you lost control with that wand? Without someone else who can control Yin present to stop the reaction?”

Shinji didn’t answer, since he had a feeling she was about to tell him.

“You would have died at a minimum,” the Witch intoned, her voice deathly cold. “And worse, you might have hurt – or killed your companion.”

Oh.

“Your own life is one thing, Matou Shinji, and it is your choice if you wish to throw it away,” she continued, radiating enough killing intent to freeze him to the spot. “But do not value our lives so cheaply.”

“…I’m…”

Her expression was withering.

“Do not apologize, Matou. Simply learn. Until you do, I will be keeping this.”

With that, she took his Yin-aligned wand – the length of cherry - from his fallen form – and vanished into her tent, leaving him alone in the cold to reflect on his thoughts.

That was how Luna found him sometime later, still laying on the ground, not having moved an inch from the site of his humiliation.

“…why are you laying on the ground, Matou Shinji?” she’d asked, looking down at him with a puzzled expression.

Shinji didn’t reply as the blonde lay down beside him, her grey eyes luminous as she looked over towards him.

“…you don’t have to do that, Luna,” he muttered weakly. “It’s…it’s my fault…”

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s…”

“Hm?”

“Japan is…” he sighed, trailing off. “Magic – what you call magic, isn’t as simple as people say it is at Hogwarts. It can be a very dangerous thing.”

“I know,” came the reply.

Shinji startled.

“You do?”

“My mother died experimenting with a spell,” she reminded him gently, her eyes soft. “Was that what you were doing?”

“…yes,” he admitted, with a long, shuddering sigh. “I should have been more careful.”

“I would rather not join Mum again quite so soon,” Luna murmured. “And I don't think your mother would want you to join her yet. I think they’d want us to live whole and happy lives…right?”

Her smile was a calm, beautiful thing – but it was all the more painful for that.

“…you’re right,” Shinji conceded, closing his eyes. “I’ll be more careful.”

“Good. I don’t want to lose the first person besides Dad who was ever really nice to me. Even if you do experiment with spells, like Mum did.” She paused, looking thoughtfully over at Ayaka’s tent. “She’s your teacher, right? Her magic is like yours?”

“You could say that…”

She wasn’t his Master, or the one who had taught him the art of ofuda, but she knew more about yin and yang than anyone else he knew – Hijiri excepted, probably.

Luna hesitated for a moment, her breath catching.

“Yes?”

“…do you think she would teach me something?”

Shinji blinked.

“…whatever for?”

“To make sure you don’t just die like mother did…”

Shinji’s mouth went dry as he heard those words. To think someone would go out of her way to make sure he didn’t die. He didn’t think anyone really cared if he lived or died, really – well, except maybe Sokaris and Harry.

“It…might be dangerous. And well, Sajyou-san is…not the easiest to get along with.”

“I’m fine with that, Matou Shinji.” That…he didn’t know exactly how her answer made him feel, but for some reason, he was strangely warm in the chill of night.

“Thank you…Luna.”

“Of course,” she murmured, sitting up and regarding the prone boy with a shake of her head. “You’re on watch Matou. Wake me up when it’s my turn.”

“…I will,” he promised, patting himself to see if he still had his other wand – the wand of hazel and coral – with him, which he did. It wouldn’t do to be defenseless, after all.

“And it might help if you sat by the fire, instead of laying on the ground,” she continued, a slight hint of teasing in her voice.

“…alright, alright,” Shinji grumbled, as he forced himself upright, putting out a hand to steady himself. “Good night, Luna.”

“Good night, Matou.”

And then she was gone, and slowly, Shinji moved to a seat beside the fire. Hopefully the first watch would prove to be a quiet one on this cold Hokkaido night, and hopefully too, better days lay ahead.

100%

Choice 7: Since its about time for us to see how things are going back in Britain, who would you like an interlude from? (choose two)
[ ] Lockhart
[ ] Snape
[ ] Lucius Malfoy
[ ] Harry Potter

Choice 8: Since we're stuck using our new wand until Ayaka isn't as annoyed with us, what do we want to focus on to acclimate ourselves to using it? (choose one)
[ ] Dueling - we need to test how strong it is compared to our old one
[ ] Crafting ofuda - we need to have something just in case we run into hostile youkai
[ ] Testing its unique properties, like how it detects water sources
[ ] Everyday use - we'll get used to it gradually, no sense rushing things.

Omida
July 31st, 2015, 06:16 AM
Shinji screwed up somewhat big this time. Well, option to look for a tent should have clued us in how that trip would look. And now we are stuck with new, untested wand. Anyway.

[X] Everyday use - we'll get used to it gradually, no sense rushing things.

Careless use of a wand got us in this mess in the first place, so better if we take it slowly. Better not to piss off Ayaka any more.

Let's see how it goes in Britain, eh?
[X] Harry Potter
[X] Lockhart

Malgos
July 31st, 2015, 06:33 AM
Snape and Harry Potter, would be good to know what Snape has been up to as the Master of Death and I think Harry might get the most info when it comes to the Black case. Lockhart might have been there and would've offered some insight as well, but I'd like to know as much as possible when it comes to Black and I think Harry is my best bet for that. I guess everyday use would be best for now, since Shinji messed up enough already. I was tempted to go with dueling as it wouldn't do to not know his current strength, but I don't think it would be appropriate at the current time.

Also I didn't really think that not going to look for a "special magical tent" would leave Shinji without a tent at all, that option sounded more like unnecessary luxury and vanity than anything else. Then again it might even be harder to find a normal tent in a place full of magical things. Either way whoops, Shinji looks rather silly now because we didn't go look for one. Ah well, guess he just has to deal with it.

Magus
July 31st, 2015, 07:18 AM
Hey, we may have suffered a temporary setback with the wand (and perhaps a more serious one down the road with our relationship to Hermione if she learns that we gave away her gift), but I'm sure it will come in useful later. To obtain anything, something of equal value must be lost in return. That is the first law of Equivalent Exchange...

[x] Lockhart - let's get some insight to his motives
[x] Harry Potter


[x] Everyday use - let's not rashly perform experiments

Aodyssey
July 31st, 2015, 08:13 AM
[x] Lockhart
[x] Snape

Who better to first star in an interlude in a book titled Master of Death than the pair of Assassin?

[x] Unique Properties

If only because I have no idea how it'd be useful, and is interested in finding out.

Velyoukai
July 31st, 2015, 08:30 AM
I don't see how this result could be anything but positive. The narration itself explained how comfy Shinji was and took things for granted, and here we just got a good dose of complacency-destruction to keep him from getting too comfy again! Stomp out all those assumptions and weaknesses and Shinji'll be ready for anything* at all.

*except not anything because then he's complacent again! Constant vigilance!

[X]Lucius
[X]Harry

I want as little meta'ing as possible, so those two seem the better choices.

[/] Dueling - dueling with who? Luna, who we absolutely don't want to make a mistake on with our new wand we're -just- learning about, or Ayaka, who trounces and leaves Shinji on the floor already with everything he's used to? No deal; it'd just be a waste of limited time with an unknown.
[/] Crafting ofuda - I really hope Shinji's already got at least some ofuda already. If not, baby's first steps at trying it with this new wand, while he's already going to be exhausted from the journeying, when ofuda's already been written as a time-consuming process? Another waste of limited time, probably to the point of extra tiredness.
[X] Testing its unique properties, like how it detects water sources - Objectively useful, especially out in the wild in case somebody gets sick. Has the potential to lead to new things and new discoveries. At first glance, seems relatively harmless and not hugely time-consuming, so possibly something Shinji could actually do while hiking. Vote.
[/] Everyday use - we'll get used to it gradually, no sense rushing things - If a single brush with near-death was enough to stop Shinji Matou, he wouldn't be here in the first place! Getting complacent and timid is the first step to becoming mediocre.

Magus
July 31st, 2015, 08:39 AM
Excellent point. Change my vote on the wand to [x] Testing its unique properties. After all, a Magus walks with Death. But I'll qualify that by saying we should do so under Ayaka's supervision so that she can correct us if we are about to make another deadly mistake.

Mint
July 31st, 2015, 09:19 AM
[X] Harry Potter
[X] Lockhart

[X] Crafting ofuda - we need to have something just in case we run into hostile youkai

Vagrant
July 31st, 2015, 09:54 AM
Ugh. Side missions.

Magus
July 31st, 2015, 09:59 AM
Though maybe we could have kept Hermione's gift if we had just bought some pudding for Apslund….

Magus
July 31st, 2015, 10:10 AM
And of course… that was Voldemort's wand in the shop, the one with the Phoenix core.

gesalt
July 31st, 2015, 10:23 AM
[X] Lucius
[X] Snape

[X] Unique Properties

Mattias
July 31st, 2015, 10:41 AM
[x] Everyday use

[x] Harry
[x] Snape

Cassius
July 31st, 2015, 11:00 AM
[ ] Lucius
[ ] Lockhart

[ ] Dueling

alfheimwanderer
July 31st, 2015, 11:16 AM
Also I didn't really think that not going to look for a "special magical tent" would leave Shinji without a tent at all, that option sounded more like unnecessary luxury and vanity than anything else. Then again it might even be harder to find a normal tent in a place full of magical things. Either way whoops, Shinji looks rather silly now because we didn't go look for one. Ah well, guess he just has to deal with it.

Part of is because he only thought of such a tent as something of luxury and whimsy, not expecting to need it for something this long-term. He's never been on a trip like this before, and in the back of his mind, was expecting more of a long stay in another facility - a Mahoutokoro branch or something. As such, he chose to find a new wand instead - which if you get one that isn't custom crafted, can be something of an ordeal, as you've seen now.


And of course… that was Voldemort's wand in the shop, the one with the Phoenix core.

An interesting assumption, I'll grant, but I make no claim of it being so myself. Simply a rare example of the craft of wandmaking, which by some means or other, eventually made its way into the shopkeeper's hands, as a price for something, perhaps.

All That Is Left Unsaid
July 31st, 2015, 11:24 AM
Ouch. Curse you Earl of Pudding

I'm guessing that some of this might have been avoidable if we had chosen to study up on youkai communities as it would have clued us into them being isolated, and that Shinji would have to hike to reach them. This would make the tent option more obvious and maybe allow for focus on some basic necessities of camping.

For wand options I'll say:

[x] Testing its unique properties, like how it detects water sources

Learning the wand's unique properties may not be the most basic choice, but it seems like the choice that shows Shinji isn't just going to do the bare minimum to understand his spare wand, but has instead taken Ayaka's advice to heart and is focused on learning about the wand as a unique tool and how that uniqueness influences what it does, rather than just assuming it is a tool that will work the way he wants it to. After all, testing implies careful study and caution while everyday use can imply a casual attitude even if one isn't rushing things.

Of course, taking extra steps to ensure Shinji is far enough away to avoid hurting others, or better yet, under Ayaka's supervision will be even better.

For the interludes:

[x] Lockhart
[x] Harry Potter

Omida
July 31st, 2015, 11:51 AM
Learning the wand's unique properties may not be the most basic choice, but it seems like the choice that shows Shinji isn't just going to do the bare minimum to understand his spare wand, but has instead taken Ayaka's advice to heart and is focused on learning about the wand as a unique tool and how that uniqueness influences what it does, rather than just assuming it is a tool that will work the way he wants it to. After all, testing implies careful study and caution while everyday use can imply a casual attitude even if one isn't rushing things.

Hmm. Actually, it's a good point. I will change my vote on the issue to the
[X] Testing its unique properties, like how it detects water sources

arsdraconis
July 31st, 2015, 12:43 PM
three chapters in and the shipping Luna and sinking Hermione had already started, without much input from the player

seriously, if I actually care about Hermione, I'd actually be pissed about this

mAc Chaos
July 31st, 2015, 12:55 PM
youre spending summer with her while hermoines at home or wherever, kind of inevitable there

- - - Updated - - -

was surprised the book got given away though

allodat lost innocence

Magus
July 31st, 2015, 02:08 PM
three chapters in and the shipping Luna and sinking Hermione had already started, without much input from the player

seriously, if I actually care about Hermione, I'd actually be pissed about this

Yeah… I do kind of feel that we should have been prompted as to what item of value to offer as payment.

arsdraconis
July 31st, 2015, 02:46 PM
i was under the impression that Shinji is smart enough to just walk away from shady shop and get his "spare" wand for 8 galleons like normal wizards would

hell, considering his first experience on such trade, why didn't he just walk away? do every children that goes to mahoutokoro had to give away pieces of their souls for their wand as well?

if the answer was no, then why the fuck doesn't Shinji just go to that wand store instead?

alfheimwanderer
July 31st, 2015, 02:46 PM
Yeah… I do kind of feel that we should have been prompted as to what item of value to offer as payment.

Small decisions like that I tend to handle, given that Shinji prioritizes things that could help his art, while things like the book don't mean as much to him. Yet the Shopkeeper would not have wanted something like the collectible Albus Dumbledore card - his true price, beyond the worth of an item, has to do with the emotions attached to it. A delicious brew indeed.

mAc Chaos
July 31st, 2015, 02:52 PM
I guess if we interpret this as happening because Shinji himself just cares that little about Hermoine or her gift then yeah it's just a natural consequence of him being near such a guy.

arsdraconis
July 31st, 2015, 02:55 PM
I just don't like this kind decisions being made in the background, and when some shit happens down the line because of it, you're going to say things like "well, you guys made the choice to do XXXXX, this is the consequences"

I also don't buy that Shinji can be so fucking oblivious about Hermione, yet be so fucking aware of Luna that much that he knew her by scent.

alfheimwanderer
July 31st, 2015, 03:00 PM
I guess if we interpret this as happening because Shinji himself just cares that little about Hermoine or her gift then yeah it's just a natural consequence of him being near such a guy.

Not quite. Consider the factors in play - he's found one of the only normal wands that works for him, and the shopkeeper isn't taking money for it. He's also already read through the book, so if one doesn't consider things like emotions, it is actually a decent deal. Of course, when the guy's price is all about emotions, then yeah, he loses out.


I just don't like this kind decisions being made in the background, and when some shit happens down the line because of it, you're going to say things like "well, you guys made the choice to do XXXXX, this is the consequences"

I've said before that your choices are as much about the mindset Shinji takes as much as the action he actually does. You wanted him to spend his effort on getting a wand, prioritizing it above everything else, and he did.


I also don't buy that Shinji can be so fucking oblivious about Hermione, yet be so fucking aware of Luna that much that he knew her by scent.

Oh, he knows what Hermione smells like too. It just hasn't come up since there hasn't been a situation where its relevant, whereas Luna's scent is relevant here because he's going on a trip with her into the wilds.


i was under the impression that Shinji is smart enough to just walk away from shady shop and get his "spare" wand for 8 galleons like normal wizards would

And if the wand doesn't choose him? He went through the normal channels already, and after testing out wand after wand, finally found one that worked for him at the somewhat shady store. Also, considering his first experience, he may not have been aware walking away was an option at that point.

arsdraconis
July 31st, 2015, 03:05 PM
I've said before that your choices are as much about the mindset Shinji takes as much as the action he actually does. You wanted him to spend his effort on getting a wand, prioritizing it above everything else, and he did.

So what I'm supposed to take from all this is that there is no such thing as non-shady establishment that sells magical catalyst in Mahou-tokoro, and that they don't bother with money there, having to part with pieces of their very existence for each transaction?

Pity everyone enrolling there then...


Oh, he knows what Hermione smells like too. It just hasn't come up since he's not going on a trip with her.
You're missing the point. I'm saying it's weird that he can be so oblivious of Hermione to just pretend that her confession never happened and traded away her first gift to him so easily, while he can act like a hormonal boy on that bed with Luna's scent. It shows that he sees only one of them as part of the fairer sex, which is one hell of a bullshit handicap for all Hermione shipper here.

alfheimwanderer
July 31st, 2015, 03:11 PM
So what I'm supposed to take from all this is that there is no such thing as non-shady establishment that sells magical catalyst in Mahou-tokoro, and that they don't bother with money there, having to part with pieces of their very existence for each transaction?

Pity everyone enrolling there then...

Did you not see the line "He’d tried out any number of shops, and a truly dazzling array of wands, but none reacted to him until he visited the oddly named Asplund’s Shop of Horrors" ?

He tried the normal channels - the normal shops that do in fact, take money - already. None of them had a wand that reacted to him, possibly because he's a bit of a different case than normal (given that he already has a wand, and is looking for a second one).


You're missing the point. I'm saying it's weird that he can be so oblivious of Hermione to just pretend that her confession never happened and traded away her first gift to him so easily, while he can act like a hormonal boy on that bed with Luna's scent. It shows that he sees only one of them as part of the fairer sex, which is one hell of a bullshit handicap for all Hermione shipper here.

He felt a sense of guilt and regret afterwards, which for something that isn't exactly a thing that could help his magecraft - and something of relatively small material worth, is a fairly large admission for him.

Right, and he'd be ok sleeping in a bed with Hermione's scent, is that what you're saying? You do recall his issues with needing space to himself in first year, and why he has a study room instead of staying in the dorms?

arsdraconis
July 31st, 2015, 03:34 PM
guess i must've missed that line, just find it weird that every fucking time we go shopping, we end up losing something more and more important, which is hilarious considering how we randomly loses kotodama to an eastern practitioner just like that the first go around.

alfheimwanderer
July 31st, 2015, 03:37 PM
guess i must've missed that line, just find it weird that every fucking time we go shopping, we end up losing something more and more important, which is hilarious considering how we randomly loses kotodama to an eastern practitioner just like that the first go around.

Eh, if you'd went shopping for something else, that wouldn't be an issue. Wands were the most fincky things of the lot this time around.

mAc Chaos
July 31st, 2015, 03:39 PM
pls dont mike this fanfic

hermione isnt sakura

but i think part of it is that it was done so abruptly, if it was drawn out into a dramatic or more tense scene then perhaps it would have felt less random

- - - Updated - - -

also probably that kind of thing would be better done with a choice, ie, "what important thing should shinji give up"

Velyoukai
July 31st, 2015, 03:46 PM
Sometimes you go through life and weird shit happens like some random creep with a shop decides he wants to prey on your delicious teamotions rather than get paid with anything substantial. It's not like Shinji was gonna be able to barter the guy down depending on what he offers; if Alf gave a list of things to give up, then it's implied that the things lost are gonna have a decent impact on Shinji's character more than +Hermy, -Luna or vice versa. It's less of a decision to be made and more of an internalized realization.

From a game-running view, it's one quality-not-changing wand for an item of personal importance. There wasn't a (perceived) need for a choice there because the Shinji up to now was clearly able to part with the book, even if at a registered emotional cost. Maybe if Shinji had spent more time with Hermy in the past 2 years, it wouldn't have been the narrative decision there?

arsdraconis
July 31st, 2015, 04:00 PM
not even miking it, i just wasn't too thrilled that some background decision that may be important in the long run may just be decided without player's input.

it's all fun and game until Sion turns into Dust of Osiris because Shinji missed one meeting with her on one year for one reason or the other, bonus point if that reason just happen to be Luna related

Velyoukai
July 31st, 2015, 04:01 PM
Then it's just heart-breaking fun~

Thedoctor
July 31st, 2015, 04:17 PM
I'm pretty sure the book is gonna come back to bite us down the line. Probably during the grail war for maximum irony.

mAc Chaos
July 31st, 2015, 04:25 PM
not even miking it, i just wasn't too thrilled that some background decision that may be important in the long run may just be decided without player's input.

it's all fun and game until Sion turns into Dust of Osiris because Shinji missed one meeting with her on one year for one reason or the other, bonus point if that reason just happen to be Luna related

Are you approaching this as if Shinji IS you?

If this was D&D and Shinji was our player character, and this happened, then yeah it would be outrageous. Our character got railroaded out of something important.

But this isn't that. We aren't Shinji. We're just an audience slightly giving Alf some direction as he writes a story. Imagine if you read this story as a regular fanfic, you wouldn't be upset by the book situation. (At least, upset at Alf.) It'd just be another part of a story with Shinji acting like Shinji. That's also why I was pushing for Shinji getting Kotomine involved in the story even though it would be bad for Shinji.

You could say that we're indirectly responsible for this by the general arc of choices we made which shaped Shinji's personality so far. Maybe if we worked up more points with Hermione in the past, he wouldn't have been willing to part with the book. He's not us, so a Shinji with this kind of personality so far might do that, even if as the audience we think he's being stupid. Etc.

It kind of reminds me about how people always thought Shirou was stupid for taking the hit for Saber when Herk almost killed her in FSN.

Actually the comparison to a VN is pretty apt. You make lots of simple choices that end up causing the character to do a lot of things that you don't directly choose as the story unfolds.

Kelnish
July 31st, 2015, 04:37 PM
Are you approaching this as if Shinji IS you?

If this was D&D and Shinji was our player character, and this happened, then yeah it would be outrageous. Our character got railroaded out of something important.

But this isn't that. We aren't Shinji. We're just an audience slightly giving Alf some direction as he writes a story. Imagine if you read this story as a regular fanfic, you wouldn't be upset by the book situation. (At least, upset at Alf.) It'd just be another part of a story with Shinji acting like Shinji. That's also why I was pushing for Shinji getting Kotomine involved in the story even though it would be bad for Shinji.

You could say that we're indirectly responsible for this by the general arc of choices we made which shaped Shinji's personality so far. Maybe if we worked up more points with Hermione in the past, he wouldn't have been willing to part with the book. He's not us, so a Shinji with this kind of personality so far might do that, even if as the audience we think he's being stupid. Etc.

It kind of reminds me about how people always thought Shirou was stupid for taking the hit for Saber when Herk almost killed her in FSN.

Actually the comparison to a VN is pretty apt. You make lots of simple choices that end up causing the character to do a lot of things that you don't directly choose as the story unfolds.

If only Shinji had spent more time with his family, maybe he would have run into the caring priest down the road too!

Velyoukai
July 31st, 2015, 04:43 PM
We can only live with our Kotomine-ingless regret.

arsdraconis
July 31st, 2015, 04:56 PM
i'd be inclined to agree with that, but the end of last book was filled with enough "this is the consequences of your choices" that i'd have to do a double take on just how much influence we'd have in the story, and how much shit we are able to affect.

Velyoukai
July 31st, 2015, 05:05 PM
The way I've been seeing it, what we're doing is choosing which direction the Shinji that Alf is writing walks towards. Metaphor goes here.

Gishou
July 31st, 2015, 05:45 PM
[ ] Lockhart

KageX
July 31st, 2015, 06:09 PM
[ ] Snape
[ ] Lucius Malfoy

I for one am interested in seeing how things are at Hogwarts, and to see how Lucius is adjusting to Flickwick.

[ ] Everyday use

Might as well get used to using it for the basic stuff, as we don't know how long he will be stuck with it.

Cassius
July 31st, 2015, 06:43 PM
Guys, remember that every single vote leading up to the familiar will influence which familiar we get so take that into account when voting because we might end up with a less than ideal familiar.

Kuroyuki
July 31st, 2015, 06:49 PM
Choice 7: Since its about time for us to see how things are going back in Britain, who would you like an interlude from? (choose two)
[X] Harry Potter
[X] Lockhart

Why? Boy who lived and who I suspect is a modern Assassin. So I think their tales will be worth noting.

Choice 8: Since we're stuck using our new wand until Ayaka isn't as annoyed with us, what do we want to focus on to acclimate ourselves to using it? (choose one)

[X] Everyday use - we'll get used to it gradually, no sense rushing things.

Guys let's play with the fancier and not too important function of our wand after we can at least use it sensibly. I mean we already irritated Ayaka for trying to use a water spell on trash. Now you want to experiment with our last remaining wand for its unique properties? C'mon. Think a little bit. You don't figure out how to use your car after learning how to use the CD player. So I don't think we should look into the special function until we can at least use it.

BibliophileGoat
July 31st, 2015, 06:59 PM
[X] Snape
[X] Lucius Malfoy

[X] Testing its unique properties, like how it detects water sources

Cassius
July 31st, 2015, 07:22 PM
I'll change my [ ] Dueling to [ ] Everyday Use

Kelnish
July 31st, 2015, 07:50 PM
I'll vote for [attempting to summon demons with the wand as a catalyst]

And snape for interlude.

mangafreak7793
July 31st, 2015, 07:59 PM
[ ] Everyday use - we'll get used to it gradually, no sense rushing things.

[ ] Lucius Malfoy
[ ] Harry Potter

EnigmaticFellow
August 1st, 2015, 04:40 PM
[X] Lockhart
[X] Harry

[X] Everyday Use

alfheimwanderer
August 2nd, 2015, 12:04 AM
Interlude will feature [X] Lockhart and [X] Harry Potter

100%

We have a tie with regards to the wand. Please choose one of these options.

[ ] Everyday use
[ ] Unique Properties

mangafreak7793
August 2nd, 2015, 12:46 AM
[ ] Everyday use

EnigmaticFellow
August 2nd, 2015, 12:53 AM
[X] Everyday use

Kuroyuki
August 2nd, 2015, 12:54 AM
[X] Everyday use

Cassius
August 2nd, 2015, 01:01 AM
[ ] Everyday use

Nephirin
August 2nd, 2015, 01:22 AM
[x] Unique Properties

All That Is Left Unsaid
August 2nd, 2015, 01:29 AM
[x] Unique Properties

Velyoukai
August 2nd, 2015, 02:01 AM
[X]Unique properties

Vagrant
August 2nd, 2015, 02:31 AM
[X] Unique properties

Omida
August 2nd, 2015, 03:03 AM
[X] Unique Properties

Malgos
August 2nd, 2015, 12:08 PM
Everyday use.

BibliophileGoat
August 2nd, 2015, 02:44 PM
[X] Unique Properties

Akanzara
August 2nd, 2015, 02:46 PM
[X] Unique Properties

mangafreak7793
August 2nd, 2015, 03:10 PM
why unique properties?

We are not studying Water, we are studying Earth and if we focus on figuring out the unique properties it will probably cut into the studying time from Ayaka and will leave us useless.

Thedoctor
August 2nd, 2015, 03:28 PM
People might be thinking about this choice by choice and missing the grand picture.

What's with this sudden fixation about being good at everything that's not possible at least not in the time span we have before the war.

mangafreak7793
August 2nd, 2015, 03:43 PM
People might be thinking about this choice by choice and missing the grand picture.

What's with this sudden fixation about being good at everything that's not possible at least not in the time span we have before the war.

Something about being useful or something or unlocking something in which we don't necessarily need.

All That Is Left Unsaid
August 2nd, 2015, 03:43 PM
why unique properties?

We are not studying Water, we are studying Earth and if we focus on figuring out the unique properties it will probably cut into the studying time from Ayaka and will leave us useless.

It was an attempt at everyday use that got Ayaka mad in the first place. Shinji assumed that his wand was essentially a tool that would act how he wanted it to act. Ayaka accused Shinji of not realizing the consequences of losing control with "that wand" in particular and told him not to apologize, but to learn. This, to me, points to telling Shinji to understand the unique properties of his wand as a tool, rather than going back to using it for everyday things which, to me, implies a sense of casualness.

If Shinji doesn't have a grasp of the unique properties of his wands and how they affect his spells (much like how his regular wand gives him problems with transfiguration, and could apparently kill him and several people in the vicinity with his most basic water spell), then in a real fight he could be worse than merely useless: he could be a liability.

Cassius
August 2nd, 2015, 05:18 PM
If Shinji doesn't have a grasp of the unique properties of his wands and how they affect his spells (much like how his regular wand gives him problems with transfiguration, and could apparently kill him and several people in the vicinity with his most basic water spell), then in a real fight he could be worse than merely useless: he could be a liability.

Thats exactly why he should practice with it in everyday use, so he can get a firm grasp on how the wand effects his spell casting as a whole and not just one overly specific use, detecting if water is nearby, which has nothing to do with fighting at all, something we should be considering since Alf has mentioned there will be atleast one fight on this trip.

Velyoukai
August 2nd, 2015, 05:36 PM
What 'everyday use' is believed to be used during or after the day-long hike that is involved in this whole thing? Like, what do people believe will be included in 'everyday use' that Ayaka won't snap at him for wasting time/energy/safety on?

The unique processes at least have a specified focus for Shinji to work on, rather than just spreading his attention wide and seeing what general things can be done. Not to mention that by learning how the wand's specialties work, he has the chance of getting a better understanding of what the wand is good and bad with, which is exactly the defense seen for 'everyday use'.

edit: I don't mean that offensively or anything. I'm just legit curious as to what 'everyday use' folks think Shinji can do on this hike and such.

mangafreak7793
August 2nd, 2015, 06:45 PM
However like with choosing between wand vs robes vs tent vs etc. We have to consider the time allocated to us and what element we are studying. You may have a point about him learning the properties but the one problem you mention and others mention about Ayaka getting angry was because 'HE WAS USING A WATER ELEMENTAL SPELL' Which without supervision is bad. Having a basic foundation of using the want in everyday use will give him and idea on how to use it but not risk him using water elemental spells.

Nanao-kun
August 2nd, 2015, 06:52 PM
[X] Unique Properties

Kuroyuki
August 2nd, 2015, 08:08 PM
Okay. Ayaka was concerned about us using a corrupted water spell and then promptly losing control of it.


Perhaps that was why, when Sajyou-san asked him to dispose of the trash, Shinji felt he had to do something, even though he didn’t know the Vanishing Charm – and was unwilling to use one of his mokeskin pouches for garbage.

So he’d gone outside, put all the trash in a pile, and drawn up a basic warding circle of runes around them as he prepared to use one of his water spells – his most basic of water spells – to simply dissolve it out of existence.

…but Ayaka had caught him before he even started, and asked him what he was doing. When he explained that he was planning to use his corrupted water spells in place of a vanishing charm…well, the girl pretty much exploded.

Or at least that was what he figured happened when he found himself on the ground, looking up at the sky, feeling like his skin had been burned off, his head ringing and throbbing with pain.

“Selfish…idiot…” he made out, with only bits and pieces of her words coming through. “Do you have any idea what would have happened if you lost control with that wand? Without someone else who can control Yin present to stop the reaction?”

She was saying that we aren't familiar enough with our wand. Let alone the ability we were trying to use. So she promptly blew us up for using a Yin-focused wand when we tried to use Water (which Hijiri has expressed that it would be dangerous to learn without an explicit instructor). So the mistake was "we tried to use a dangerous wand with our dangerous element."

Alf has mentioned that wands are hard to use unless expressly created for the user. You can see instances of this in the canon when a person obtains a new wand by dueling and "winning" it. The wand feels very foreign and less useful in comparison to your normal wand. So in order for said wand to actually be useful, you need to get used to all of eccentricities such as "the magic power is harder to flow/manipulate/slower."

In comparison to learn our wand's special properties, we have to devote time to finding water and trying to pick up its cues accurately and effectively. Essentially a more effective dowsing rod. Now that is passive in and of itself. The problem is... We have to assume water is nearby so that the wand can pick it up and not effectively walk aimlessly and waste time.

Vagrant
August 2nd, 2015, 08:19 PM
I just want Shinji to not be a pussy. I wanted to learn water and avoid the safety net of a childish backup wand because True Magus. But nope. Got stuck with a shitty element and an object we don't even need, since we have a wand already. The least I'm going to do is find out what makes this one uniquely different to the one we already have. If it's dangerous so fucking what? Magi walk wuth death. Grow some balls, people.

Cassius
August 2nd, 2015, 08:29 PM
I just want Shinji to not be a pussy. I wanted to learn water and avoid the safety net of a childish backup wand because True Magus. But nope. Got stuck with a shitty element and an object we don't even need, since we have a wand already. The least I'm going to do is find out what makes this one uniquely different to the one we already have. If it's dangerous so fucking what? Magi walk wuth death. Grow some balls, people.

For starters we already know what the wand's special properties are, it lights up if your near water, which isnt that useful, not to mention its a passive ability. Second, walking with death doesn't mean jumping into oncoming traffic, shinji was told that it would be deadly to practice water magic without supervision by an expert mage, so we can wait till we can get supervision. There is a difference between doing dangerous things for no reason and with good reason, that is the difference between being dead and being a mage.

Vagrant
August 2nd, 2015, 08:51 PM
Never getting anywhere with that attitude.

All That Is Left Unsaid
August 2nd, 2015, 09:12 PM
For starters we already know what the wand's special properties are, it lights up if your near water, which isnt that useful, not to mention its a passive ability.

But is that the only property? The main wand has a yin affinity, corrupts water spells, and inhibits transfiguration. This wand might have a similar feature of inhibiting one branch of wizardry due to a strong affinity for another, and such would fall under unique aspects of the wand.

Something else to consider is that a focus of study may not preclude Shinji from using his wand for everyday tasks, but might imply that he will be working on said focus in addition to everyday tasks. In this sense the choices could be read as "everyday use + _________" with everyday use alone as the choice to do the bare minimum training without any sort of extra effort.

mangafreak7793
August 2nd, 2015, 09:33 PM
For starters we already know what the wand's special properties are, it lights up if your near water, which isnt that useful, not to mention its a passive ability. Second, walking with death doesn't mean jumping into oncoming traffic, shinji was told that it would be deadly to practice water magic without supervision by an expert mage, so we can wait till we can get supervision. There is a difference between doing dangerous things for no reason and with good reason, that is the difference between being dead and being a mage.


Not to mention the fact that Ayaka state you can endanger your life but not hers and Lunas. Shinji is working with a group so I rather not having something blowing up in our faces as we adjust.



But is that the only property? The main wand has a yin affinity, corrupts water spells, and inhibits transfiguration. This wand might have a similar feature of inhibiting one branch of wizardry due to a strong affinity for another, and such would fall under unique aspects of the wand.

Something else to consider is that a focus of study may not preclude Shinji from using his wand for everyday tasks, but might imply that he will be working on said focus in addition to everyday tasks. In this sense the choices could be read as "everyday use + _________" with everyday use alone as the choice to do the bare minimum training without any sort of extra effort.


But again, we can do those things another time when we're alone like the come and go room, or the room of requirement. Focusing on that now is dangerous and wasting time when we can focus on the task at hand. Not to mention it focuses on the water aspects of our abilities which we are not investing at the moment.

Cassius
August 2nd, 2015, 09:36 PM
On the other hand it could also be read another way, getting used to how the wand works as a whole and getting used to it in general, and while you may not want shinji to be too general, you do need a grasp on the essentials as a whole, and knowing how to use your wand in a variaty of ways is more important than one specific ability, not to mention it could also not have any other special abilities, not all wands have a bunch of abilities, after all the original wand was specifically made for Shinji out of the familiar attuned to the matou family mage craft and seemingly infused with a bit of the cursed grail by a really powerful mage.

Velyoukai
August 2nd, 2015, 09:42 PM
Really what I'm getting here is we can't trust options that are roughly 5-10 words long to accurately represent the very detailed head-canon explanations for them that we can make!

Especially when we have no means of getting clarification until the update itself~

Cassius
August 2nd, 2015, 10:22 PM
Have you considered asking Alf? or making your own option for people to vote for? Alf does answer questions and has allowed original choices.

alfheimwanderer
August 3rd, 2015, 12:37 AM
[x] Unique Properties it is then

100%

Chapter 4. War. War Never Changes.

“Obliviate!”

So came a whisper from the dark, as a fatigue clad figure stumbled and pitched forward at his desk, spilling his bottle of cheap spirits upon the paper there. His face was a blank and empty mask, lips still wrapped around a smoldering cigarette. He wasn’t dead, no, but he might as well be, with most of his memories erased, leaving him a drooling idiot.

“Incendio.”

A second whisper, and a stream of fire issued forth, igniting the man, his papers, and all in the house he’d taken over. Alcohol-soaked paper, wood, and cloth caught readily, and if flesh did not – well, the insensate man – one of the warlords in the region – wouldn’t be any state to flee.

If anyone has been in that room, listening, he might have heard the sound of fabric brushing against an open window amidst the crackling of the hungry flames, but there was no one. No witnesses. Just a panicked mob that came to a stop outside a raging inferno that had been their commander’s house some minutes later.

But by that time, the assassin was long gone.

100%

In the morning light, a small band of battered refugees appeared on the main road, miles away from the town they’d fled, somehow having evaded the patrols around the town – mostly due to the paramilitary forces being tied up with fires in the town, they thought. They were exhausted. They hadn’t been in the best shape when they left that…place, beaten as they were, brutalized as they had been, forced to do terrible, terrible things by those who wished to break their spirits.

And with the adrenaline that had fueled their escape gone, what were they to do now? Serbian forces would probably find them soon, and then they’d be returned to that place, with cruelty after cruelty visited upon them for being Bosniaks – for being Muslims.

But the ones who found them were not the Serbian paramilitary forces who had captured them in the first place, but a team from the International Red Cross on its way back from inspecting one of the more sanitized concentration camps in the conflict.

And so they were rescued.

Some distance away, an invisible Gilderoy Lockhart sighed as he watched the humanitarian convoy picked up the refugees and disappeared into the distance, a difficult expression on his face. The atrocities in that camp would continue for some time, he knew, and the weight of every life he could not save weighed on him.

Not the life of the brutes who had chosen to be tormentors, to obey a cruel master. But the lives of their captives – the hundreds of them he could not make away with, not even with the confusion of the fire. Well, fires, since he repeated his tactics on the town’s only hotel.

He wasn’t proud of what he’d done, but it provided a good enough cover for the escape of the few he’d managed to save. And yes, perhaps fire was a cruel way to die, far messier and more painful than a knife to the back, but it was more effective and did not invite reprisals upon an already ravaged populace. After all, it was easy enough to blame soldiers for getting drunk and falling asleep after their…exertions, just as a warlord could certainly suffer a stroke.

True, it wouldn’t stop the paramilitary band from continuing their atrocities later, but it had given him an opportunity to help some reach safety and alert authorities that cared about what was going on, so that someone might intervene.

Not the corrupt police, who were perfectly aware of the rapes and murders in their town, and made no attempt to stop it, but agencies that cared only about preserving human rights and human dignity, such as the International Red Cross.

…though he’d made sure to erase from the minds of those he’d freed the memory of a mysterious rescuer, who had given them some strange medicine and bid them to come with him – before setting the hotel where they were held on fire with their insensate guards still inside. Who had found their children and brought them out of captivity amidst the chaos of the town.

For he didn’t want to be known.

Not for things like this. For these purposes, it was best for people to think he was never there in the first place. Which his reputation made easy, given that his books ensured that people thought he was always out on some adventure elsewhere, dealing with savage beasts and dangerous dark creatures that no other wizard dared to confront.

…even if people did not like to admit that the most savage and dangerous creatures on this earth were humans, wizard or no.

Bosnia in 1993, in the wake of the collapse of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, was a perfect example, with militants pouring into the country from across state lines, horrific slaughters of civilians, innocents killed, raped, and otherwise victimized.

“Crimes against Humanity” were the words being thrown around, and Lockhart thought the description was apt, given that they disregarded the human dignity of their victims, and degraded the humanity of their perpetrators.

That was war.

That was the inevitable result when structures built around control collapsed in upon themselves. In the beginning, they might be founded on the quest for a utopian ideal, a place free of bigotry or inequality, so that each person might be provided for according to his need, contributing what they could with their unique abilities.

But such utopias never came to pass on a large scale, because states – groups – founded on that principle invariably sought to centralize power as a means to an end – but found that means an end in itself. The cause became merely a shield or stepping-stone to further the selfish desires of the powerful, as they worked not for the benefit of mankind, but for their own sake.

And when these corrupt men and women fell, the old hates and schisms would manifest themselves once more, with other factions taking advantage of the chaos to try to eliminate others they saw to be a threat, staining their blades with the blood of innocents.

…as they did today, while most of Europe turned a blind eye to it all, though they had had the power to stop it.

He smiled bitterly, thinking that it was not dissimilar to how Britain – and Albus Dumbledore – had turned a blind eye to the actions of Grindelwald, allowing atrocity upon atrocity to be committed while they argued that domestic issues meant more.

There was no expeditionary force sent to stop him. No aid given to the other countries who suffered from the Dark Wizard’s predations. No action taken until Grindelwald had been on the cusp of overthrowing Magical Europe and revoking the Statute of Secrecy.

Lockhart grimaced as he recalled Grindelwald’s belief that Muggles needed order, discipline, and control in order to mask their barbaric nature, and to achieve that, the Dark Wizard had sought to create a new order in which powerful wizards and witches ruled over the world as a new nobility – with Grindelwald as the first among equals as Emperor of Mankind.

He would concede that those without magic could be cruel, vicious, and barbaric – but then, so could wizards, and to a greater extent, given the amount of power they held.

Actually, he thought wizards were worse than Muggles, since so many of their laws and restrictions were backwards and meaningless, meant for no other purpose but to control the populace and keep them ignorant.

One of the major reasons for conflict (leaving aside religion, which he acknowledged to a useful tool for control) among the Muggles was scarcity of resources, as crop failures, ill-planned distribution networks, or competition could interrupt the flow of things like food, water, or oil. And of course there were things like living space too, with population pressures causing major problems around the globe.

But wizards had no such excuse.

True, food was one of the five Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law, meaning one could not conjure it out of thin air, but existing food could be multiplied with the Doubling Charm.

Water or fire could be conjured. Locations could be charmed to add hidden floors and spaces, so they’d be bigger on the inside than they appeared.

One could even conjure up tools when one needed them, chairs, or what have you, or be able to transfigure such, so no wizard should suffer poverty, should lack for any of these basic needs, should need to go around dressed shabbily.

Not when one could simply duplicate a good set of clothing, perhaps using a color-change charm or such on it to add a bit of variety.

True, the duplicates would break down slightly more quickly than the original, but given that the reclusive twins who had invented the Charm, Helixa and Syna Hyslop, had used it to create duplicates of every item inside their mansion, in which they lived together their whole lives, this tendency was clearly not an issue during even the long lifetime of a witch.

So why did the Ministry make laws so that these replicas were considered “worthless”? Why did the Ministry create laws to regulate what could and could not be conjured? Why did any wizard or witch live in poverty?

The answer was simple: control.

When witches or wizards worried over things like pay and money to afford things like education, food, utilities, they wouldn’t think of bettering themselves. By regulating these small, everyday aspects of the lives of everyday witches and wizards, limiting what they were capable of, the corrupt men and women of the Ministry rendered their subjects compliant, especially when the Ministry itself employed over a fourth of the British wizarding population.

They grew used to obedience, to not resisting, to conforming to the social order – which in practice meant acquiescing to the wishes of the powerful, whether that meant the Ministry, Albus Dumbledore, or Lord Voldemort.

So was it any wonder that when Lord Voldemort promised his followers a new world – a new order – with them in power, and a group that was perceived as threatening the status quo because they thought outside the box – Muggleborns – crushed, that they obeyed?

The people were so conditioned to obeying an authority that they didn’t question, didn’t think it was worthwhile to know the histories, to know the truth. Binns’ tenure as History of Magic Professor had made that unmistakably clear.

Truth didn’t mean much to most wizards – even when they had it before them, they refused to look, remaining willfully ignorant because they were frightened of what they would see.

Because they would rather be slaves to the assurances of the powerful, than be free, left to fend for themselves.

And so time and time again, the patterns repeated themselves, albeit with different actors on the stage. Dark Lords, corrupt politicians, and the people refusing to choose for themselves, to stand up for their birthright as humans each special in their own right.

Magic became simply a commodity, nothing special at all. Sometimes a tool, sometimes an excuse, but in the end, just another system to be studied for a grade, not something people really prided themselves on knowing, save for those who were exceptional.

Gilderoy Lockhart had once believed himself exceptional, and in truth, he had once had tremendous ability in the Craft. But that belief had been stripped away over the years, and for a time, he had stopped trying altogether, because he knew he would never be the very best.

…and then on his first adventure, he’d seen the horror of war.

No. Not war – a massacre. Attempted genocide. The slaughter of thousands of unarmed civilians in a refugee camp by a right-wing Christian militia called the Phalanges, on the pretext of “crushing terrorists.”

To this day, the memory was burned into his mind. The sight of dead women in their houses with their skirts up to their waists and their legs spread apart; dozens of young men shot after being lined up against an alley wall; children with their throats slit, a pregnant woman with her stomach chopped open, her eyes still wide open, her blackened face silently screaming in horror; countless babies and toddlers who had been stabbed or ripped apart and who had been thrown into garbage piles.

These were innocents.

People who hadn’t been combatants, who hadn’t fought, whose only crime was to believe in a creed different that of their killers.

For all the memory of Lord Voldemort was hated and feared in Magical Britain, the man had never committed an atrocity on that scale. Yes, there had been some attacks on Muggleborns, but not in any systematic, organized fashion – those were mostly the actions of his followers. Mostly, Voldemort had confronted Ministry forces, seeking to subvert them from the inside and cripple their ability to wage war, to destroy public confidence in their ability to protect. Thus he had specifically targeted prominent families like the Bones and the Prewetts, who were largely involved in the efforts against him, using fear as a weapon to keep his opponents – the Ministry and Albus Dumbledore – off balance, scrambling to hold on to what they could instead of seeking out the Death Eaters and confronting them in open battle.

Seeing the aftermath of the Sabra and Shatila massacre – among the other horrors that humanity was capable of, which he’d been insulated from most of his life – and learning the story of an old man who would later call his mentor, changed him. It made him see how fragile the foundations of society were, how so much of what people believed was merely a lie. It made him see how each human had the potential to be the architect of his or her own actions – if they were free – but how, if they did not, and were enslaved by tyrannical systems of order and control, the result would be tragic.

In that sense, he found a purpose, a light, a creed. He became a seeker of truth and a shaper of stories, an author bringing back tales from the unknown lands.

Was he an adventurer? Oh, yes.

Were the sorts of adventures he went on things people would want to read about?

That…depended.

Magical Britain wanted to see tales of a wizard overcoming terrible beasts, so that was what he gave them. Some, things he’d written on his own. Some, the adventures of others who didn’t want to be known, but didn’t mind if the stories were shared and inspired others. Some, stories that had once been told but had been lost, which he repurposed, like the Muggle author Shakespeare had done once upon a time.

And a few of the things he did, he never published, never told, as they weren’t suitable for public consumption.

Not when he – and others he knew – often worked in the dark to serve the light, with him having seen many battlefields in his time. Many victims. Many warzones.

Places where the thin veneer of civilization had been stripped away, where powerful preyed more directly on the weak, where things like right and wrong often were pushed aside in favor of what people wanted, what people believed.

Worst of all was what happened to the common folk, who often could – and did – disappear without a trace, vanishing into the backdrop of the wars. Sometimes, it was due to predation by paramilitary forces or collateral damage. Sometimes it was genocide. Sometimes it was the harsh reality of nature once food and shelter were gone.

…and sometimes, it was because Dark Wizards too, liked these places, because they were perfect locales from which to obtain experimental subjects or victims for dark rituals.

His journey through the Balkans to Albania, following in Quirrell’s footsteps, was carrying him straight through such a place, bringing to the forefront of his mind memories he had never truly forgotten, memories which drove him forward even today.

‘War. War never changes.’

100%

“…so you imprisoned the wrong man for over a decade?” an incredulous Harry Potter asked of the others in the ornate office - Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, Lucius Malfoy, the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, and Amelia Bones, the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.

“…yes,” Amelia Bones admitted, her solemn features hard as stone. “In our defense, Mr. Potter, Albus Dumbledore did inform us that Black had been the Secret-Keeper for your parents, which matched with reports from the first responders to the scene, who found Black laughing manically.”
Cornelius Fudge coughed then, raising a finger for attention.

“My report, actually,” he interjected. Oddly enough, the Minister was wearing all black today, instead of his usual, more colorful wardrobe, even eschewing his green bowler. “As part of the Department for Magical Accidents and Catastrophes, I was the first on scene. I still remember the sight to this day – Sirius Black, laughing maniacally, his wand in his hand, a crater in the street, and the remains of Muggles everywhere. I remember thinking that that he hadn’t just killed Pettigrew – he’d destroyed him, leaving only a finger. Worse than anything I’d seen before.”

“Yes, the Killing Curse is a rather clean form of death compared to that affair,” Lucius concurred, his lips curving into a frown. “But you are correct. Due to actions of our late predecessors, the Ministry detained the wrong man and sent him to Azkaban without trial.”

“Dreadful affair, really, especially since it deprived you of your godfather,” Fudge added. “My dear boy, if I had any idea that Black was innocent…”

“It’s not your fault, Minister,” Harry replied graciously, his own features barely less masklike. “You did your job. That the Department of Magical Law Enforcement failed to do its job is not something you could have foreseen.”

“…that’s kind of you to say,” the Minister allowed, blinking as he heard the boy’s words. That the Boy-Who-Lived wasn’t threatening to condemn the Ministry for what had happened was a boon in itself, given his influence with Magical Britain.

“The Department still failed, however,” the Boy-Who-Lived stated pointedly. “A murderer walked free for twelve years – and was awarded an Order of Merlin, while an innocent man was imprisoned.”

“The late Bartimeus Crouch was always something of a fanatic,” the cool tones of Lucius Malfoy broke in. “He despised the Dark Arts, it is true, but he was as cruel as any Dark Wizard, legalizing the use of the Unforgivables, and imprisoning many without trials. As Chief Warlock, I am calling for new investigations into the cases of others thus imprisoned.”

“Given that he died with no heirs, the Ministry will liquidate his estate, with the proceeds going to benefit any victims of his so-called justice,” Amelia Bones added, wishing to distance herself – and the Department – from the man who had been responsible for this scandal. “We can also strip Peter Pettigrew of his Order of Merlin, as it would seem his confrontation was not so heroic after all.”

“I trust Pettigrew will be given the Dementor’s Kiss?” Harry inquired, his voice perfectly calm – almost too calm.

The room was utterly silent.

“You don’t wish him simply sent to Azkaban?” Amelia Bones inquired, looking askance at the green eyes of the Boy-Who-Lived.

“Not when escaping the prison is clearly possible,” the Heir of Slytherin pointed out, upon which the Head of Magical Law Enforcement nodded. “And after all he has done, why should he be allowed to die in peace and go to the afterlife whole?”

“Very well. We will schedule a date for Pettigrew to be given the Dementor’s Kiss then, with his body to be incinerated thereafter,” Amelia Bones conceded. “Would you care to witness it?”

“Yes, please.”

“Very well. Any other…guests, Mr. Potter?” the Department Head asked gingerly.

“Professor Snape, my Head of House,” Harry replied, as the Potions Professor was the closest thing he had to a father today, and from his comments in the past, would be happy to see the murderer brought to justice. “I appreciate the consideration, Madam Bones.”

“Of course. We will send you an owl.”

“Is there anything else the Ministry can do for you, Mister Potter?” Cornelius Fudge asked solicitously.

“I think Sirius Black would likely appreciate a public apology from the Ministry,” the Heir of Slytherin answered, with Fudge barely able to keep from wincing. That was what he’d been afraid the boy would ask. “Azkaban is…not a kind place.” So Professor Lockhart had taught him, and well, if a place was guarded by Dementors, of course it was not a good place.

“No, it is not,” Lucius Malfoy concurred. “As a victim of the Dark Lord who was subjected to the Imperius Curse and forced to do terrible things against my will, I narrowly avoided being sent there myself.” He paused. “I believe arrangements for a formal apology would only be appropriate. The man is my cousin by marriage, after all, and if a prominent citizen like himself suffered imprisonment, who is to say there weren’t other victims.”

“That is a good point, Lucius,” Fudge agreed reluctantly. “Very well, I will personally contact the Daily Prophet and arrange for a press conference. For suffering such unjust punishment, and enduring it, I think Black deserves an Order of Merlin, don’t you? As well as a pardon for being an illegal animagus.”

“Naturally.”

100%

The following morning, the headline of the Daily Prophet read thus:

SIRIUS BLACK FALSELY ACCUSED! PETER PETTIGREW TO BE GIVEN THE DEMENTOR’S KISS!
By Rita Skeeter

In a stunning development, new evidence has emerged in the case of Sirius Black, the man notorious for the alleged betrayal of the Potters to the Dark Lord and the brutal murder of Peter Pettigrew, O.M. (First Class). Such evidence, which consisted of a very much alive Peter Pettigrew and his memories, confirm that Pettigrew, not Sirius Black, was in fact, the Potter Secret-Keeper.

Captured by the Department of Magical Law Enforcement after the Pettigrew Incident, he was sentenced to Azkaban without trial – one of a number of individuals to be so condemned, though his was the most serious case.

A statement by Lucius Malfoy, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, describes these cases as “a grave miscarriage of justice.” The Chief Warlock seeks new investigations and proper trials for victims of “Crouch so-called Justice.”

“The laws that govern our realm and protect our rights as citizens exist for a reason,” Malfoy stated. “If we who are charged with enforcing the law simply discard it when it is convenient, how is the public to trust us?”

The Chief Warlock notes that these actions happened with the approval of his predecessor, who never attempted to revisit the cases of any imprisoned during the war, in spite of his record of seeking justice before it.

“That even one innocent man was condemned to Azkaban is a terrible failure of the standards to which we hold ourselves,” Amelia Bones, current head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement added. “While I do not deny the late Bartemius Crouch’s passion in opposing the Dark Arts, I do question how much he valued the laws and principles which have guided our nation for centuries.”

Given that Crouch’s own son turned to the Dark Arts, it is questionable how much of Crouch’s hatred of the Dark Arts was genuine. What is known was that he authorized the use of the Unforgiveable Curses by Aurors, and sentenced many to Azkaban without trial.

Was he fit to act? Is a question that asked many times in the Wizengamot over the last week, with some finding that he was negligent in his duties – and some accusing him of far worse.

“I cannot speak for Bartemius Crouch,” the Minister himself said in a public statement. “But I can speak for the Ministry today when I say that a terrible wrong has been committed against one of our citizens when the man chosen by the Ministry to uphold the rule of law decided that the law did not matter. As Minister of Magic, I extend a formal apology to Sirius Black for all the wrongs he has endured on the Ministry’s behalf.”

Beyond stripping Peter Pettigrew of his ill-won Order of Merlin, the Minister has announced plans to create a fund to compensate victims of Crouch’s so-called Justice.

In response to Crouch’s abuses, Lucius Malfoy urged greater internal oversight of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, stating that these wrongful imprisonment cases were the least of the Ministry’s worries, given its history of collusion on all levels with vigilante organizations with no accountability.

“During the war, sensitive and classified information – patrol patterns, the identities of persons of interest, plans for national defense, and the like – were leaked to the so-called Order of the Phoenix, an organization accountable only to Albus Dumbledore in his role as a private citizen. And while I understand that my predecessor had the best of intentions and wished only to pursue the Greater Good, the fact remains that he created an organization to wage a secret war against private citizens who had not been accused of – or convicted of – any crime.”

As a victim of the Imperius Curse during the First Wizarding War, Lucius Malfoy expressed concerns both about the precedent this set as well as the consequences of data security.

“It is well known that becoming an Auror is difficult, given not only the academic requirements, but the screenings for character and aptitude, and the three year training period in which many candidates fail to advance. Moreover, Aurors can only act within the limits of the law. But vigilante organizations have no such limitations, no such restrictions on membership.”

For the Department of Magical Law Enforcement to have colluded with the Order, he feels, is a scandal of epic proportions.

“Whatever [Dumbledore] intended, the fact remains that instead of aiding the lawful authorities, he subverted them, much as the Dark Lord did. Like the Dark Lord, Dumbledore chose to do what was easy, instead of what was right, raising what amounted to his own personal army and fighting a private war against those he suspected to be Death Eaters. How many good wizards and witches died because of his selfishness? How many Aurors were lost because he believed he knew best?”

How many lives were lost because of the Order’s activities? How many more were ruined?

Would the Potters have died if they had not been part of Dumbledore’s society? Would the Longbottoms have been driven mad? Would the Bones family been nearly wiped out?

We may never know.

What we do know is that Peter Pettigrew betrayed the Order, relaying the disposition of our Aurors directly to You-Know-Who for years, and that Albus Dumbledore never knew or suspected.

And when Sirius Black, an innocent man, was wrongfully accused of Pettigrew’s crimes, Albus Dumbledore and Bartemius Crouch sentenced him to a lifetime in Azkaban without even a trial, ensuring that the Boy-Who-Lived grew up without his godfather.

When asked how he felt about the proceedings, the Boy-Who-Lived had only this to say:

“We all face the choice between what is right and what is easy. I just wish Bartemius Crouch and Albus Dumbledore had seen it in themselves to choose what was right.”

He expressed gratitude that the Ministry was taking responsibility for its actions, and a sense of grim satisfaction that the man who had betrayed his parents would receive the Dementor’s Kiss.

“There are people in the world who make honest mistakes and people who were forced against their will into doing terrible things. Peter Pettigrew is neither of these. Because of him, my parents died, and who knows how many others. He doesn’t deserve to live, and he doesn’t deserve the mercy of death.”

Aberforth Dumbledore and the family of Peter Pettigrew had no comment. Sirius Black could not be reached for comment.

100%

Choice 9: Back to the camping trip then. You're finding it difficult to stay awake on watch, given that so far, things are peaceful. What do you do? (choose one)

[ ] Read the Field Guide to Youkai
[ ] Ask to overlap watches with Luna and Ayaka so you have someone to talk to
[ ] Make ofuda - its a quiet time, nothing else to do
[ ] Keep a journal
[ ] Walk around and patrol the perimeter, with your wand as a light source.

Choice 10: What do you put most effort into outside your magic lessons? (choose one)
[ ] Learning to Cook
[ ] Learning Herblore
[ ] Dueling (with Luna)
[ ] (write-in)

mangafreak7793
August 3rd, 2015, 01:12 AM
[ ] Learning to Cook

[ ] Make ofuda - its a quiet time, nothing else to do

Cassius
August 3rd, 2015, 01:27 AM
[ ] Make ofuda - its a quiet time, nothing else to do

[ ] Dueling (with Luna)

Kuroyuki
August 3rd, 2015, 01:30 AM
[X] Make ofuda - its a quiet time, nothing else to do
[X] Learning to Cook

I refuse to be defenseless with a wand that we don't know how to properly use besides its property to find water. So ofuda crafting it is.

Eating is a necessity that all have to follow. So I refuse to have Shinji be completely unknowledgable in basic cooking. I refuse to accept him as a person until he can cook rice, eggs, and how to make INSTANT RAMEN.

Reasons why not for other choices:
Reading - On watch and reading while drowsy is bad. So you might fall asleep during your watch. Which is extremely bad...
Overlap - I'm sure Luna wouldn't mind... But Ayaka would be pissed.
Journal - No particular gain or loss?
Walk around the perimeter - Okay. This is a very very bad idea. Like let's walk in hostile territory bad. And before people say anything. Running purposely to danger is stupid.

Other choice reasons:
Herblore - Boost to Herblore but Cooking Bias
Dueling - TBH this is a solid choice. However, I don't think we should duel with a wand that we only know the special properties of. Not the general properties and such. So no.
Write In - TBA.

BibliophileGoat
August 3rd, 2015, 01:44 AM
[X] Read the Field Guide to Youkai

That choice's presence implies that receiving the book does not, in fact, imply that we have read it, so I think that needs rectifying. Those Kaiduka notes, going to waste...

[X] Learning to Cook

Same as reasoning as Kuroyuki. Not knowing how to make instant ramen is kind of... Yeah.

Omida
August 3rd, 2015, 02:35 AM
[X] Read the Field Guide to Youkai Last time we got choice that seemed unnecessary, we ended in wilderness without a tent. So better safe than sorry and read it while we have a time.

[X] Learning to Cook - Yeah, it's useful skill to posses. And if we follow Harry further, we may found ourselves on another, ehm, 'camping trip'.

This chapter made me like Lockhart even more than previously and shown that he is far more dangerous than it would seem. Though, I would say by going to Albania to investigate Quirrell, he triggers big death flag. Or at least open himself to danger from Voldemort.

And late Dumbledore's reputation takes more and more hits. I mean, he is slowly turned into Dark Lord in public opinion, what with presenting his deeds in suitable fashion. When Voldemort comes back, Order, if it even bothers with reassembling, might be in greater danger from population than Death Eaters.

Vagrant
August 3rd, 2015, 03:20 AM
"I won't kill you. But I don't have to save you."
- Harry Potter, to Peter Pettigrew

Mint
August 3rd, 2015, 06:06 AM
[X] Read the Field Guide to Youkai
[X] Learning Herblore

Nephirin
August 3rd, 2015, 10:37 AM
[x] Field Guide

Seriously? We're looking for a familiar here, we kinda need to read this shit.

[x] Herblore

mAc Chaos
August 3rd, 2015, 10:51 AM
the EDGE on harry is so sharp now

and lockheart is way more likeable and competent than I remember him

at first I thought the opening scene was him doing his trademark life story thieving

Malgos
August 3rd, 2015, 11:04 AM
Reading the field guide seems like a good choice, since he seemingly didn't read it until now and considering that he's on the look out for a familiar now... Well he needs to hurry up and read the book so it doesn't go completely to waste and was never read by Shinji by the time he gets a familiar.

The other choice is tougher for me, I think I will go with dueling as he hasn't practiced that a whole lot. That being said cooking also seems wise and I wouldn't be opposed to changing my vote to a good write-in. I'm actually hoping someone submits something nice for that as I can't think of anything.

Thedoctor
August 3rd, 2015, 01:29 PM
Lockhart is rapidly becoming my fac character here.

Field guide to youkai.

Cooking.

alfheimwanderer
August 3rd, 2015, 02:08 PM
Lockhart is rapidly becoming my fac character here.

Any particular reason why?

Thedoctor
August 3rd, 2015, 03:08 PM
Any particular reason why?

He's a humanitarian assassin who behaves like he's a Shakespearean actor while dropping high caliber memes.

mAc Chaos
August 3rd, 2015, 03:44 PM
He's the most insightful character. The character that the audience always turns to when they want to find out what's really going on.

Which is hilariously at odds with his normal characterization. It'd be like if Mr. Satan turned out to be stronger than Cell all along behind the scenes.

- - - Updated - - -

Also he's not a scumbag in this.

All That Is Left Unsaid
August 3rd, 2015, 04:11 PM
[x] Read the Field Guide to Youkai
[x] Learning to Cook

I now have to wonder if Gilderoy ever met or worked with Kiritsugu in the course of his adventures. I would totally read a spinoff buddy comedy with the two working together.

"The Forest of Einnashe was on fire, and it wasn't our fault."

Cassius
August 3rd, 2015, 04:27 PM
By the way, Alf mentioned that shinji has already read parts of the field guide while on the trip, the choice is mainly read every last detail, also Alf said we do have some ofuda on us so we arent defenceless even without the wand.

Kelnish
August 3rd, 2015, 06:21 PM
First one i think he should probably rub one out, hes at that age mang.

Second option write a letter to zouke .

Thedoctor
August 3rd, 2015, 06:27 PM
First one i think he should probably rub one out, hes at that age mang.

Second option write a letter to zouke .

I second this.

Velyoukai
August 3rd, 2015, 06:36 PM
[x] read book
[x] herb lore

He has plenty of time for gentlemanly duties when he's alone in Luna's sleeping bag, Kelnish, gosh.

Thedoctor
August 3rd, 2015, 06:39 PM
Why herb lore? We have never had a focus on that before.

mangafreak7793
August 3rd, 2015, 06:40 PM
Why herb lore? We have never had a focus on that before.


It's basically Herbolody

Velyoukai
August 3rd, 2015, 06:54 PM
An inability to cook is just more reason to push Shirou route. Herb lore + study seems globally useful, especially where they are.

Nephirin
August 3rd, 2015, 07:24 PM
An inability to cook is just more reason to push Shirou route. Herb lore + study seems globally useful, especially where they are.

Yeah, we can play the Sakura card and get Shirou to teach us to cook.

mangafreak7793
August 4th, 2015, 01:57 AM
By the way, Alf mentioned that shinji has already read parts of the field guide while on the trip, the choice is mainly read every last detail, also Alf said we do have some ofuda on us so we arent defenceless even without the wand.


IIRC, Shinji went through A-G in the Youkai Handbook.

Vagrant
August 4th, 2015, 05:39 AM
So none of the good or dangerous ones, basically.

Mattias
August 4th, 2015, 09:57 PM
Read the Guide and Heralore. Gotta learn stuff.

Magus
August 4th, 2015, 11:16 PM
[Field Guide]

[Cooking] - it's a useful camping skill.

Harry is getting vicious….

alfheimwanderer
August 5th, 2015, 02:48 AM
[x] Field Guide
[x] Cooking

Just an FYI, all choices do affect what familiar you get, so if you do make stupid choices, you're not going to like what happens.

100%

Chapter 5. Onikuma

The sudden blow tore Matou Shinji’s head clean off the shoulders of his dozing form.

…or at least it would have, had the wand in his hand not discharged a bolt of silver flame that struck his assailant between the eyes, causing his assailant’s first strike to go wild, the heavy paw slamming into the boy’s arm with a crack instead, as it stumbled back with a roar of pain—

“AOUGGHHHHHHHHHH!”

—with the young Matou wrenched from the embrace of slumber by sheer agony, only for his spine to freeze as he was met with an immense black-furred creature out of nightmares looming before him, its golden eyes and wickedly sharp teeth gleaming in the light of the moon.

‘…onikuma.’

Literally translated, the term meant “Demon Bear” – a rather apt moniker, given the creature’s reputation for rock shattering strength and its propensity for violence, as noted in the Field Guide to Japan’s Youkai, which the boy had been reading before he…

‘…I fell asleep on watch. Sajyou-san is going to kill me.’

Well, that was, if the bear didn’t kill him first.

Fwhoom!

It moved with a speed belied by its immense form, with Shinji barely twisting out of the way of a blow that would have smashed him into paste, a volley of Freezing Charms issuing from his hazel wand, only to strike the great bear with no discernible effect.

“AOUGGHHHHHHHHHH!”

It roared once more, loosing a prana-laced howl that flung the boy through the air like a ragdoll, his body landing with a muffled crump some distance from the campsite.

For Matou Shinji, the world exploded into a white haze of agony as he landed right on his broken arm, the jagged ends of his splintered bones tearing through his skin.

‘Seal!’ he begged, with several of his ofuda flying from a pocket to cover his wound – holding the flesh together. It certainly wasn’t healing magic, but at least it would keep the area immobilized. For now.

But the demonic, homicidal bear was coming at him again, intent on ripping the boy apart, or at least taking the marshmallow square in his pocket that he’d been saving for a snack, but had forgotten about.

‘…here goes nothing…’

Levering himself upwards to face the foe, the boy unleashed all the explosive ofuda he had upon the beast making its way towards him.

Paper filled the air, strips of sealed power pouring from his sleeves.

Strips glowing with inner light that homed in on their enemy, surging for the ursine form of the enemy, detonating one after another in gouts of flame, light, and sheer concussive force.

For several long seconds, night was turned into day by the sheer quantity of explosions, but when the smoke and light cleared, the bear was unharmed.

Just very, very, angry.

‘…did it use its shout to block my ofuda?’

But there was no time to think. Not when an angry, two ton, magically resistant killing machine was barreling towards him, his usual countermeasures proving utterly useless against a creature of this caliber.

His wand spells shattered on its hide. The explosive ofuda he’d unleashed upon it – the whole of his arsenal – had been blasted away by its prana-laced roar.

This was worse than fighting the troll during his first year.

Still…he didn’t have to beat it, right? Any moment now, Sajyou-san and Luna would wake up and come to his aid – except he remembered then that he’d used one of his warding ofuda on the tent he shared with Luna to block out all noise from outside.

Well, he could slow it down, surely.

Maybe he couldn’t stop it with his ofuda, but if it stopped of its own accord to ward off what it thought was a threat…maybe he could buy a few precious seconds.

“Bind,” Shinji whispered desperately, as he managed to stagger to his feet, his empowered talismans launching themselves towards the bear with a life of their own. “Bind. Bind. Bind. Bind. Bind. Bind. Bind!”

…seeing the mass of ofuda headed its way, the bear stopped, sat up on its haunches and ROARED, unleashing a torrent of sound and wind so powerful that his ofuda were shredded in midair, and even Shinji was blown away.

‘What…?’

His feeble attempts at resistance scattered, Shinji ran, throwing himself aside to avoid the rush of the oncoming predator.

…but he wasn’t fast enough, as he went sprawling to the ground once more, one of his legs crumpled and twisted.

He could see his bones protruding from his flesh, could feel a shock of what must have been pain. It was as if he was watching from somewhere outside himself, that these wounds were being suffered by someone else. Was this…shock?

This time, there was nowhere to run.

No way to harm it.

‘…wait. There’s still something. I can’t cast a spell on it….but I can still cast a spell on me.’

“WINGARDIUM LEVIOSA!”

The cry issued from his lips with something like desperation, with his wand pointed not at the bear, but at his own form. Nothing happened for a long moment, but then with a jerk, he began to rise up into the air – out of the bear’s reach.

In this way, his use of the Levitation Charm was similar to that of Jarleth Hobart, its creator, who had once charmed his clothes to lift himself into the air – and had mistakenly thought that he had discovered how to fly without a broomstick, a feat that to this day, only the late Lord Voldemort had managed.

“Uro?”

The demon bear growled, rearing up on its hind legs as it swiped at the floating form of the boy, but was quite unable to.

For now, Matou Shinji was safe, and with a moment’s respite, his mind shifted into overdrive, trying to find some way out of this situation - some way to win.

‘Ok. So this is like fighting a magus. I can’t target him directly with my spells. I’m going to have to try something else.’

In a battle against things and beings which resisted the effects of foreign prana, one needed to use nature interference thaumaturgy – abilities which could cause harm to a foe by changing the world around it.

For Matou Shinji, this was his earth elemental ofuda, a number of which shot for the ground – as he knew the folly of targeting the bear directly.

The bear snarled, but ignored these as a threat as the floating form of the Matou boy poured his prana into a dizzying array of spells upon the creature itself, keeping its attention away from his true attack.

The blue streaks of Knockback Jinxes.

The jagged green lightning of Verdimillious Tria.

The red bolts of the Disarming Charm.

‘…Clay to stone, dirt to rock…harden.’

Spell beams flew, tearing apart the darkness with their sheer power, ozone filling the air as cutting curses, severing charms, knockback jinxes and more crackled against the youkai’s hide and fizzled out.

‘…Darkness within become the darkness without…’

He was quickly growing dizzy from the rate at which he was throwing spells around, but he had no choice. Quickly, he loosed more ofuda, letting those filled with the power of spirit and absorption fall to the ground, as he continued his barrage from above.

‘Stone. Ground become spikes. Ground become blades.’

The enemy howled and roared, the resultant shockwaves buffeting Shinji where he hung in the sky, unable to avoid them, unable to move, but he pressed on.

‘The land. My fingers. My wrath…’

His vision was beginning to narrow. Black spots danced before his eyes. Waves of dizziness swept over him…but the foe was still there, and he knew he had to pin it down.

Instinctively, Matou Shinji knew he’d only have chance at this – and if he failed…

‘I won’t fail. Wrath. Blades. Cage…’

He felt something deep inside him fit for the first time, as the ground below him resonated, thrummed with a sense of power. Within the patch his ofuda surrounded, the earth was his to command.

The preparations were complete

“…Release!”

The burst of power caught the bear off guard, as sharpened spikes of stones coated with darkness exploded from the ground below, stabbing into its soft underbelly – and through it.

One spike.

A second.

A third.

A fourth.

A fifth.

Hurt seriously for the first time, the bear twisted, snapping some of these stakes of stone with its monstrous strength and pulling itself free – only for more to erupt from the ground. Spike, claws, a wall of stone.

The onikuma lunged, its paw slamming forward to knock down the wall – only for the wall to open a hole in the paw’s path, with a shackle of spikes bursting from its edges to impale the limb and hold the bear fast.

“AOUGGHHHHHHHHHH!”

Roaring its defiance, the great bear slammed its bulk into the wall, knocking it down – but finding another wall in its path.

It turned.

Another wall rose up.

It turned again.

The earth rose up to trap it.

It blinked, seeing nowhere to go…and then it screamed, a shriek of utter pain and anguish as innumerable spikes shot inwards from the containment walls, piercing it over and over and over with spears wrought of stone.

The onslaught continued, without pause, without mercy, as the creature thrashed and bucked and flailed, and slowly, its struggles slowed and its growls and screams faded into whimpers. The light in its eyes grew dim…and then the great bear’s form shattered into motes of light.

As the presence of the enemy faded, a surge of relief swept over Shinji as he hung in the air, nearly motionless himself. The creature that had tried to kill him had been torn apart, had become nothing more than...

‘Wait a minute…’

Youkai didn’t just…shatter, did they? Especially youkai that were also animals – like kitsune…or onikuma. Tsukumogami, spirits born from objects that had existed and maintained for over a century, might, or some of the various ghost-type youkai, but animals?

He frowned and focused his vision on the ground below, his mouth all but falling open as a small dog-like form crawled out of the prison of spikes, glaring baleful at him with glowing golden eyes.

‘…bakemono…’

Literally meaning ‘a thing that changes’, it referred to shapeshifters, those youkai that were capable of transforming into other things and other beings.

The most famous of these, of course, was the kitsune – the foxes of Japan, but there were others as well, like bakeneko (magical cats), mujina (badgers), and tanuki (raccoon dogs).

…one of the last of which was staring at him now.

‘…a tanuki? That demonic bear was a tanuki? The beast that nearly killed me…was a tanuki…?’

He wanted to laugh, to cry, to ask it why it had done this…but he couldn’t. He felt his body growing weak, as the last of his prana drained away, and as his vision blurred, he could only watch as the creature limped away.

‘I can’t…’

He blinked, his eyes heavy as he hung many meters above the ground, not knowing how to get down.

‘I can’t…’

As he then closed his eyes, and felt himself…

…fall.

100%

A fevered dream. A dream within a dream.

Cruel laughter and the smooth caress of skin.

The pounding of feet upon stone, rushing forward into the darkness, unable to stop, images, feelings, memories flickering past a moment at a time as howls and snarls and bays came closer, ever closer.

A cloying scent, somehow familiar, the woods and mist and blood.

A wand in one hand, and the reassuring weight of a blade secured to the other.

Things he could not fight. Things no one could fight. Wounds, wounds in the world that could not be healed.

Laughter, musical and cheerful. Laughter, cruel and mocking.

Fear. Joy. Rage. Calm. Despair. Hope.

Contradictions. Contradictions.

The world shifted. The world shook. The world was falling apart beneath his feet, collapsing as he ran.

It would not obey. It would not bend. It would not be fixed.

The gnashing of teeth.

A howl of sorrow.

A shooting star.

What did one call those who had come before? Gods? Demons? What age was it that was restrained beneath the might of an ancient spear? What memories did one hold? What memories could be poured between vessels, from one to another?

Sch! Sch! Sch! Scht!

The whispers called to him, but he dared not stop. The earth cracked open, the darkness welled up, and things wearing the shapes of creatures he once knew took form, and smiled.

He ran.

Out the exit, through the arch, into the silver glow.

And once more, at the precipice, he leaped.

100%

In utter darkness, Matou Shinji bolted upright, wincing as his muscles screamed in protest at the sudden movement – as did his head, as his vision once again turned white. His breath ragged, he closed his eyes and tried to focus on where he was and what he knew, finding the solidity of the bed he was in rather reassuring.

A familiar bed at that, just like the comforting scent of the one who he shared it with. He still didn’t sleep well around most people, finding them odd and their casual attitude towards their craft frankly terrifying, but over the weeks, he’d become accustomed to Luna, such that the sound of her breathing, the warmth of her, the closeness of her was almost…calming.

‘Lumos,’ he whispered, as his hazel and coral wand lit up on the nightstand, illuminating his surroundings.

As he thought, he was in Luna’s tent – with the blonde-haired girl herself dozing on a padded chair by the bed, wearing pale grey pajamas that he thought rather suited her.

‘…was it all…a dream?’

But then, if it had been, why was Luna sleeping in a chair beside the bed? Why was he here, and not on watch, since surely she would have woken him up?

Gingerly, he moved his left arm, finding that it was…functional if quite sore, as he threw off the sheets, he found that his leg – which he remembered being broken by the bear – was whole and hale, though he winced and could barely suppress a curse as it hurt when he moved it.

Perhaps he hadn’t managed to suppress it completely though, as with a cute yawn and stretch, Luna Lovegood stirred from her slumber, her silver eyes taking note of him.

“Hullo, Matou Shinji,” she said with a sleepy smile. “I see you’ve awakened.”

Something about the way she said that gave him pause, and he swallowed.

“…was there some doubt I would?” he inquired. Shinji tried to smile, but his expression froze as a flash of something close to grief crossed Luna’s countenance.

“You were unconscious for three days,” came the surprising reply. “We weren’t sure if you would wake up at all.”

Three days?

But how? He remembered some incredibly vivid dreams of shadows and whispers, and beasts in a white realm that he thought might be the Arctic, but…

And then the memories came back to him.

Memories of a demonic bear that had savaged him. Memories of pushing himself to the limit – no, beyond his limit.

Memories of falling.

“The bear,” he whispered, squeezing his eyes shut as he shivered. “So that wasn’t a dream…only it wasn’t a bear, was it?”

“A transformed tanuki, hungry for food scraps,” Luna helpfully confirmed, blinking away any hint of sleepiness as she made her way over to the bed and examined him, her fingers glowing with an all-too familiar amber light as she pressed them against the bare skin of his neck, his arms and other places. “She was surprised you defeated it, though she was rather cross that you fell asleep on watch.”

‘Ah…’

Shinji was fairly certain Sajyou-san would have his hide for that later, but was curious about what Luna was doing. The feeling of her fingers on his skin was quite…distracting, but he forced himself to focus on what it was she was doing, and how the places her fingers brushed felt stronger, the aches fading away when she touched him.

…how he felt a new surge of vitality as she placed her hand over his heart.

“…are you the one who healed me?” he asked, his voice more subdued. The thought of her seeing him so utterly vulnerable bothered him for some reason. “I know Sajyou-san has been teaching you about the yang alignment, but…”

The kind of damage he had sustained during that kind of ordeal wasn’t something that could be repaired so easily. It had taken healers in St. Mungo’s quite some time to patch him up after Quirrell got through with him, as he recalled…

“Oh no, she did the hard part,” Luna answered, her eyes looking as if she was somewhere far away. “Fixing the most serious of your wounds, stopping the bleeding, fixing your limbs. After her familiar stopped you from hitting the ground, of course.”

‘…stopped me from…ok. Note to self, that bird is stronger than I thought.’

“…eek.” So that had happened. He was almost afraid to ask, but… “…how bad was it?”

“Compound fractures of your arm and leg. A fractured jaw. Cracked ribs.” She spoke as if reciting from a list, her singsong voice much more solemn than usual. “Blood loss and bruising to your internal organs. Torn muscles and ligaments. Shock. And…” Luna paused for a moment, her cheeks going slightly pink. “…something she called prana depletion.”

“Prana depletion…” Shinji echoed, his face – no, his whole body flushing beet red. That…was something rather serious, and from what he had read, the ways of transferring prana generally involved…

‘Bodily fluids. Blood being a common one. Or those exchanged in tantric rituals…’

In that moment, he was quite, quite aware of both the closeness and femininity of Luna Lovegood, knowing that she could feel his heart pounding in his chest, under her delicate hand, as his grey eyes looked into hers.

“I…” he said, his mouth dry. “I…how…did she…?”

“She didn’t,” Luna replied in a rather fey voice, her fingers brushing him softly. “I did.”

“You…” Shinji swallowed, his cheeks burning. He was certain he must look something like a tomato at the moment, but he didn’t really care. “Then you and…I…”

“You almost died, so I gave you some of my vitality – my yang,” she said quietly, as her free hand found one of his. “Sajyou-san had already healed the physical damage, but a shell doesn’t matter if there isn’t anything inside.”

“…how?”

“Just like this,” she answered, squeezing his hand as he found it wrapped in an amber glow as well. “And a bit of blood.” Luna Lovegood laughed quietly, a sound like bells tinkling in the night, her lips curving up into a mischievous smile. “Don’t worry, Matou. I didn’t take your innocence.”

Despite everything he’d been through, and the close brush with death, Shinji couldn’t help but laugh. There was something about his companion that was so utterly refreshing after dealing with most other people. In many ways, he was glad she was the one here with him, since in this area, she knew far more than him. Hermione probably wouldn’t have known the first thing about camping, and he doubted she would be nearly as understanding about his Yin abilities – or Ayaka’s. And given his teacher’s propensity for disproportionate responses to aggression, he had concerns that Hermione might not have…well, done very well.

…the other alternative, Tohsaka Rin, coming along on a month long journey…well, she wouldn’t question Ayaka, probably, but he could already see some friction. And well, his inability to cook or do many of these other tasks might diminish him in her eyes, which he didn’t want.

With them, he cared – much – about how he looked, how he seemed, the aura he presented. With very few people – Sokaris, and now Luna, was he comfortable letting them see who he really was – the boy behind the titles.

So he lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it in the way of a proper gentleman.

“Thank you,” he said simply. “For saving my life and for being a really good friend." Then he smiled impishly himself, though his cheeks continued to burn. "Though I wouldn't have minded if you had."

He didn’t have a chance to say anything else before the flap of the tent opened, with a rather frazzled Sajyou Ayaka entering, carrying a tray with a bowl of something fragrant – something that looked and smelled utterly divine.

Some kind of noodle soup made with mostly fresh ingredients. Herbs, roots, and more harvested along the long hike, along with a yogurt with fresh berries and pumpkin spice granola.

“Ah. So you are awake, Matou,” the bespectacled Witch noted, glancing at the joined hands of the boy and his companion, still covered by an amber glow. “And Lovegood is…refilling your prana. That is a pleasant development.”

She walked over and placed the tray on a table near Luna, before turning back to the hapless boy.

“Next time, if you having trouble falling staying awake during watch, inform me,” Ayaka noted, her features hard and harsh as the howling winds of winter. “Doing otherwise endangers not only yourself, but the rest of us, which as I have said, I do not find acceptable.” Her cold eyes met his, making Shinji flinch at what he saw there. “Is that clear, Matou Shinji?”

“…yes. Yes, Sajyou-san,” he said, looking down. “I’m…”

He didn’t know what to say. Choosing to read during his watch might not have been the wisest possible decision, he conceded, especially as he had fallen asleep.

“I’ve said this before,” the other noted. “Do not apologize. Learn.”

“…I will do that.”

“Three days,” Ayaka continued, her annoyance unabated. “You were unconscious for three days, Matou. Do you know that the entire time, your companion waited by your side to see if you would wake up? Do you know how worried she was? That she gave her own vitality to save your life?”

Shinji swallowed, as the air seemed to grow heavy around him, the rest of the tent – the rest of the world – fading, except for the accusing eyes of the kitsune’s apprentice.

“The only reason you are not already back at Mahoutokoro is because my Master – and your companion – both said you should receive a second chance,” the magus noted clinically. “There will not be a third.” She glanced over at the wand of hazel, still aglow on the nightstand. “Beyond the healing, the only reason you are still alive is because of that wand acting on its own.”

“…I…how do you…”

“I examined your memory, and your wand. In that way, I suppose it is fortunate you were so very frustrated about your cooking, as it infused your wand with power that needed to be released – and was, against that tanuki. But then, that is what wands of hazel do – they are sensitive to emotions. Fear, anger, hate make your offensive spells more powerful, but impair healing and transformation; a calm mind allows you to better defend; joy makes repair and transfiguration easier.”

“…yes, I did gather that much. It also casts faster than the wand you took from me, but is less powerful in general,” Shinji noted, looking down. “I have been trying, Sajyou-san.”

There was silence for a moment, before the bespectacled girl’s voice softened ever so slightly.

“I know, Matou. I will say that your control of earth has certainly improved,” she conceded, nodding slightly. “And that you being able to defeat the transformed tanuki was somewhat impressive, since it takes on some of the abilities of the form it borrows.”

“…it resisted the spells I cast on it.”

“Most powerful youkai will,” Ayaka explained. “You were raised in a magus family, so you are aware of mystery, and how potent of a defense it is.”

“Indeed. I’ll keep that in mind.”

With that, the pressure lifted, and the young woman’s palm lit up with amber light. She ran it above his body with a grunt, and let the light flicker out.

“You seem to be mostly recovered – or so it would seem if you and your companion have time to play about,” the bespectacled magus commented, reaching into a pouch and handing Shinji the Field Guide to Japan’s Youkai. “Since you have nothing else to do, finish reading the book. On the morrow we will resume our journey east – and we will work on your training further.”

Shinji felt a frisson of fear at that. Ordinarily, she was a difficult enough taskmaster. How hard would she drive him after this...?

“Lovegood?”

“Yes, Sajyou-san?”

“You may stay with Matou today,” Ayaka intoned, her eyes flicking over to the seated girl. “Ensure that he remains stable and do try not to have him engage in anything too…strenuous.”

Shinji felt himself blush once more, from his head to his toes at the implications of that. Why did everyone tease him about these things?

“Oh, I won’t do anything that Matou doesn’t want me to,” Luna replied reasonably, her fingers twining with that of the boy on the bed. “You can trust me with that, Sajyou-san.”

Ayaka sighed in exasperation.

“...that’s what I was afraid of.”

With that she strode out of the tent, leaving Shinji alone with his odd companion.

100%

That night, after Luna shared a meal with him, he managed to walk over to the campfire with her help. There, Luna introduced him to the concept of S’mores, showing him how to roast marshmallows and sandwich them between graham crackers and chocolate.

His first few attempts ended in disaster, with what had once been marshmallows turning into lumps of charcoal and ash, resulting in peals of laughter from Luna. But she’d shared some of hers with him, and afterwards, they’d read together, talking about the youkai of the land, the year to come, and what kind of familiars they would like to find and see, talking long into the night before they drifted off to sleep, leaning against each other’s shoulders.

Sajyou Ayaka shook her head and covered the two sleeping figures with a blanket so they’d stay warm, before looking up into the sky.

“Watch over them, Yatagarasu,” she said softly. “Keep them safe tonight.”

There was an answering caw from above, and with that, she too retired for the evening. For it would be a long day tomorrow, and for many tomorrows to come.

100%

Choice 11: In the wake of the incident with the onikuma, Shinji is pushing himself harder in his training. He knows that learning the ins and outs of things like yin and his elemental craft are important, but that he can't neglect his wandcraft either, and he also owes a large debt to Luna for helping to save his life. There's also the niggling thought that Ayaka's familiar - who he doesn't see much - must be fairly powerful, and after fighting against one youkai, he wants to know how others compare.

So who does he focus on working with for training? (choose one)

[ ] Luna
[ ] Ayaka
[ ] Yatagarasu, Ayaka's raven familiar


Choice 12: Shinji has reached a point where he must work on building up a combat style of his own. With that in mind, given recent and past encounters, what attributes would he find most appealing, and want to increase in his combat style? (choose two)

[ ] Speed
[ ] Power
[ ] Area of Effect
[ ] Deception
[ ] Awareness

Kuroyuki
August 5th, 2015, 02:58 AM
I TOLD YOU READING WOULD GET US AMBUSHED DURING OUR WATCH BUT NOOOOOOOOOOOOO. KURO IS CRAZY.

[X] Ayaka - Most experienced. While I wouldn't recommend dueling with her, she is probably the best teacher of our group.

Fighting Style
[X] Deception
[X] Awareness

Control the flow of the battle and the battle is as good as won.

Cassius
August 5th, 2015, 03:00 AM
[ ] Yatagarasu, Ayaka's raven familiar

[ ] Power

[ ] Deception

arsdraconis
August 5th, 2015, 03:48 AM
Choice 11: In the wake of the incident with the onikuma, Shinji is pushing himself harder in his training. He knows that learning the ins and outs of things like yin and his elemental craft are important, but that he can't neglect his wandcraft either, and he also owes a large debt to Luna for helping to save his life. There's also the niggling thought that Ayaka's familiar - who he doesn't see much - must be fairly powerful, and after fighting against one youkai, he wants to know how others compare.
This impotent rage is what Snape must've felt that night of full moon years ago.

Omida
August 5th, 2015, 05:43 AM
Since last year lacked in close death encounters, it would seem Shinji is dead set on rectifying it, by starting earlier than usual. And while Ayaka surely chewed us out on our stupidity (again), it seems that focusing on wand's unique properties softened it for us, if only a little.


[X] Ayaka

Better fix our relationship with Ayaka. Besides she has the most experience and is the best suited for teaching us.

[X] Awareness
[X] Power

Awareness is must for Shinji, but he must work on force behind his magic. We nearly died against tanuki/onikuma (aside from being attacked in sleep) because our spells had little effect. Absolute control of fight will be of little use if we keep falling unconscious from trying to harm our opponent and overextending ourselves.

Thedoctor
August 5th, 2015, 06:11 AM
Yataragasu. Might as well learn some more about familiars.

Yes controlling the battle will be of little use if we can't finish it. On the other hand Shinji's ofuda craft have already shown itself to be fairly fast if we focused on speed it might get godlike.
Deception has always been a part of shinji's game seems weird to change that now just because he fell asleep once remember a magus walk with death. No need to overact at failing once.

I'll go with:
Speed
Deception

Most people we'll be fighting wont hacd magic resistence and the ones that do would kill us anyway.

Magus
August 5th, 2015, 08:09 AM
[x] Ayaka

[x] Awareness
[x] Deception

Raw power isn't necessary if we can outwit our enemies, and awareness will help us perceive their weaknesses - as well as our own.

gesalt
August 5th, 2015, 08:38 AM
[X]Ayaka

[X]Power
[X]Speed

mangafreak7793
August 5th, 2015, 08:54 AM
I TOLD YOU READING WOULD GET US AMBUSHED DURING OUR WATCH BUT NOOOOOOOOOOOOO. KURO IS CRAZY.

[X] Ayaka - Most experienced. While I wouldn't recommend dueling with her, she is probably the best teacher of our group.

Fighting Style
[X] Deception
[X] Awareness

Control the flow of the battle and the battle is as good as won.


But Kuro, you can't put logic next to your choices you have to make a big over exaggerated narrative of why to get them to listen to you.

Not even a couple sentences in and I'm already cringing at our result. i'll have to read this late.

Thedoctor
August 5th, 2015, 09:56 AM
But Kuro, you can't put logic next to your choices you have to make a big over exaggerated narrative of why to get them to listen to you.

Not even a couple sentences in and I'm already cringing at our result. i'll have to read this late.

The cringe will go on.

Malgos
August 5th, 2015, 10:34 AM
Eh, the raven familiar as it probably has quite a bit of experience and Shinji knows nothing about it so I'm going to go with that. I feel like Speed and Deception would be a good focus for combat.

Vagrant
August 5th, 2015, 11:04 AM
Hahaha oh my god you guys are fucking up everything during year 3 it's amazing. Holy shit, I fully expect Shinji to be dead by the end of the year at this rate.

Mint
August 5th, 2015, 11:04 AM
[X] Ayaka

[X] Awareness
[X] Area of Effect

alfheimwanderer
August 5th, 2015, 11:14 AM
Remember a magus walk with death. No need to overact at failing once.

There's a difference between a conscious choice to accept a given risk for a given gain, even if it means endangering himself, and then doing something...well, utterly stupid.

Nephirin
August 5th, 2015, 11:25 AM
I feel legit bad for the Hermoine shippers right now. At least they can count on Shinji being a playboy, right?

[x] Yatagarasu

[x] Deception

[x] Awareness

I think Deception is a pretty big part of how Shinji operates at this point. I'm tentatively saying Awareness though. Could we get a bit more clarification on what you mean by that, Alf? Is it just general battle awareness, being able to find weaknesses, or being able to see through deception on the enemies' part?

- - - Updated - - -


Hahaha oh my god you guys are fucking up everything during year 3 it's amazing. Holy shit, I fully expect Shinji to be dead by the end of the year at this rate.

Yeah. Year 1 went so well. Year 2 went kind of well. Year 3 has just been fuck up after fuck up.

alfheimwanderer
August 5th, 2015, 11:30 AM
I think Deception is a pretty big part of how Shinji operates at this point. I'm tentatively saying Awareness though. Could we get a bit more clarification on what you mean by that, Alf? Is it just general battle awareness, being able to find weaknesses, or being able to see through deception on the enemies' part?

Awareness of the environment and awareness of the enemy, both.


Yeah. Year 1 went so well. Year 2 went kind of well. Year 3 has just been fuck up after fuck up.

For what its worth, I'm not disagreeing with you.

Vagrant
August 5th, 2015, 11:37 AM
I'm not even voting anymore. None of my votes are doing shit so I'd rather just watch others plunge Shinji into a world of pain and misery.
Yes I'm spiteful, why do you ask?

Thedoctor
August 5th, 2015, 11:42 AM
There's a difference between a conscious choice to accept a given risk for a given gain, even if it means endangering himself, and then doing something...well, utterly stupid.

I did not expect Shinji to be reading the book during the middle of the night, while on watch, while in dangerous territory.

Seriously this is turning into some twisted game where things do the opposite of what it says on the tin. Im seriously contemplating on voting the opposite of what I think.

Vagrant
August 5th, 2015, 11:48 AM
He was stated to be on watch in the middle of the night. It was obviously a trap.

You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous of which is "never get involved in a land war in Asia", but only slightly less well known is this: "never read a book when you're tired and supposed to be watching your surroundings"! Hahahahahaha-

alfheimwanderer
August 5th, 2015, 11:53 AM
You're finding it difficult to stay awake on watch, given that so far, things are peaceful. What do you do?

I thought that was clear enough, but I suppose I can give a bit more detail in the future.

Vagrant
August 5th, 2015, 11:54 AM
No, it was pretty clear. Don't hand feed them. Railroad as hard as you can behind the scenes!

Thedoctor
August 5th, 2015, 11:56 AM
I thought that was clear enough, but I suppose I can give a bit more detail in the future.

Did not even see that sentence before.

I find all the typos and the parts where you've rewritten a sentence and then forgotten to remove a word but I miss the important one sigh.

Kelnish
August 5th, 2015, 12:21 PM
Train with the magus girl person.

Deception is like the Matou bread and butter so thats a given. Shinji is all about having that big dick too so power.

Velyoukai
August 5th, 2015, 12:34 PM
I have no regrets.

[x]Ayaka
[x]Deception
[x]Power

Shinji has to be the darkest non-dark lord Harry's got so PR can tell Voldemort to fuck off like the old school, non-magus plebe he was/is.

Thedoctor
August 5th, 2015, 12:38 PM
I'm changing to deception and power.

mAc Chaos
August 5th, 2015, 01:09 PM
I thought this was a pretty great chapter. The Luna shipping is through the roof now lol

Vagrant
August 5th, 2015, 01:24 PM
https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/proxy/Z9eJUn9T-xcqqJ6KmNpZhgGF9Wko3wNC0WKMtB5sbpTkaa1-SYej8jHifzQjp9BJui01rqNk=w443-h332-nc

All That Is Left Unsaid
August 5th, 2015, 01:28 PM
...Provided we don't screw things up further, that same tanuki is going to end up as Shinji's familiar isn't it?

...or Luna's.

[x] Luna - Shinji feels he owes her a debt, and he takes debts seriously. He is out of his element and if he is going to keep being a liability, he should minimize the impact on others by helping them develop their skills.

[x] Deception
[x] Awareness

For magi, power is rarely what wins the day. Rather it is the ability to unravel the mysteries of others while concealing your own. Also: Constant Vigilance!

Vagrant
August 5th, 2015, 02:06 PM
Honestly, I'm really just waiting for plot to happen. While seeing shinji constantly almost die is fun, it doesn't feel like there's much progress and now that we're so sharply deviated from HP canon I want to know more than ever what's actually going on.

mAc Chaos
August 5th, 2015, 02:25 PM
Voldemort seems kind of small fry now.

Vagrant
August 5th, 2015, 02:38 PM
Voldemort always was small fry. The magical british world is just very tiny.

Kuroyuki
August 5th, 2015, 03:05 PM
But Kuro, you can't put logic next to your choices you have to make a big over exaggerated narrative of why to get them to listen to you.

Not even a couple sentences in and I'm already cringing at our result. i'll have to read this late.

Clearly I need to write a textwall to describe the intricate present and future consequences of certain actions. I mean surely people will read it if I make so big, long, and boring. Instead of doing something simple like this:


Reasons why not for other choices:
Reading - On watch and reading while drowsy is bad. So you might fall asleep during your watch. Which is extremely bad...
Overlap - I'm sure Luna wouldn't mind... But Ayaka would be pissed.
Journal - No particular gain or loss?
Walk around the perimeter - Okay. This is a very very bad idea. Like let's walk in hostile territory bad. And before people say anything. Running purposely to danger is stupid.

That simply and concisely iterates why certain things seem bad. While I'm not omnipotent and prone to be hit by some of Alf's sleeper choices (I'm looking at you Diary and Tent), it's painful when I see people vote for a strongly in story not suggested or sort of impulse thinking. Like trying to master Water without Teacher Supervision or Reading during Watch Duty.

Vagrant
August 5th, 2015, 04:38 PM
Fuck you i still want to master the family arts. Fuck this spare wand shit too.

The tent was a total joke of a choice though.

Velyoukai
August 5th, 2015, 04:42 PM
Maybe Gramps is setting up the Matou training grounds while Shinji's off hunting! Awed by his grandson's heartwarming letter, he's already getting prepared to train a new, sexy, young Zouken 2.0!

mangafreak7793
August 5th, 2015, 05:36 PM
Clearly I need to write a textwall to describe the intricate present and future consequences of certain actions. I mean surely people will read it if I make so big, long, and boring. Instead of doing something simple like this:



That simply and concisely iterates why certain things seem bad. While I'm not omnipotent and prone to be hit by some of Alf's sleeper choices (I'm looking at you Diary and Tent), it's painful when I see people vote for a strongly in story not suggested or sort of impulse thinking. Like trying to master Water without Teacher Supervision or Reading during Watch Duty.


Try something outrageous. Simple often gets overlooked and thus the situation we are in now.

arsdraconis
August 5th, 2015, 08:33 PM
Yeah. Year 1 went so well. Year 2 went kind of well. Year 3 has just been fuck up after fuck up.

Bad decisions lead to Luna points, it makes so much fucking sense now

She's not the railroaded waifu, she's the penalty waifu

arsdraconis
August 5th, 2015, 08:45 PM
I think I've figured out our problem. Year one had the Sokaris route on the line, so there is a clear goal on what to achieve, and the players were rewarded by Sokaris relationship event for success that culminated on the epilogue. But therein lies the problem. From that point onward, Sokaris route turned from "winning" into "not losing"

And when you're not playing to win, you make suboptimal decisions, and end up with suboptimal waifu

Mattias
August 5th, 2015, 09:39 PM
[X]Ayaka

[X]Deception
[X]Speed

Time to go full Naruto. By which I mean everyone else in that show but Naruto who keep faking each other out with logs and super speed for chapters at a time.

BibliophileGoat
August 5th, 2015, 10:14 PM
[X] Yatagarasu, Ayaka's raven familiar

[X] Area of Effect
[X] Deception

I'm a bit surprised no one's voted for AoE/deception, even after Shinji did so well with it just now. Spending the fight distracting the enemy with feint after feint, while secretly setting up for a large scale spell right under their noses, and then finishing it with a single decisive blow... It feels like it'd fit Shinji really well.

Gishou
August 5th, 2015, 11:10 PM
[X] Area of Effect
[X] Deception

EnigmaticFellow
August 5th, 2015, 11:57 PM
[X]Ayaka

[X] Awareness
[X] Deception

Working with Ayaka may mend that relationship a bit. Shinji needs to work on his awareness given what happened to him. Meanwhile, deception is something that's useful no matter the situation.

mangafreak7793
August 5th, 2015, 11:59 PM
Ayaka

Awareness
Deception

Thedoctor
August 6th, 2015, 03:42 AM
Fuck you i still want to master the family arts. Fuck this spare wand shit too.

The tent was a total joke of a choice though.

We barely even use wands in our combat style so far why would we need a nww one.

Vagrant
August 6th, 2015, 04:07 AM
Because people wanted water with the safety of a less tempermental wand, or the easier earth with defensive bonuses, and becauae of disastrous split voting ended up with the least desireable outcome of practising a stable art with a needlessly safe (and unfamiliar ) wand.

Like I said, a goddamn hilarious shit show basically.

Nephirin
August 6th, 2015, 01:54 PM
Yeah, pretty much the problem this time around. Too many split choices and it's fucking us over.

Thedoctor
August 6th, 2015, 02:21 PM
Because people wanted water with the safety of a less tempermental wand, or the easier earth with defensive bonuses, and becauae of disastrous split voting ended up with the least desireable outcome of practising a stable art with a needlessly safe (and unfamiliar ) wand.

Like I said, a goddamn hilarious shit show basically.

It's actually pretty stupid when you think about it. Let's get a water aligned wand so I can practice earth spells. It's like shinji's IQ dropped 40 points.

We should talk over what we want before we vote next time a choice like this appears, so we can avoid a cluster fuck.

Cassius
August 6th, 2015, 09:26 PM
Its probably because we are just accepting the choices as is, we should add specifics to them like we've done in previous years, that would probably get us less messed up results, it seems as the choices increase in importance the about of details Alf gives in the choice description goes down

alfheimwanderer
August 6th, 2015, 11:23 PM
[x] Ayaka
[x] Deception
[x] Awareness

100%

Chapter 6. Close Encounters of the Deathly Kind

Though she found herself wandering through the sun-drenched lands of Egypt, taking in the sights and sounds of the country with so much history, where witches and wizards had first arisen, according to everything she’d read, Hermione Granger didn’t feel particularly excited.

True, finally seeing the Giza Necropolis in all its glory was something special, given that the Great Pyramid of Giza was the only remaining Ancient Wonder of the World and the mysteries about Great Sphinx had long fascinated her even before she learned that things like magic and magical beasts were real.

In another time, another place, the young Ravenclaw imagined would have felt a sense of wonder at finally seeing this ancient land and exploring its rich past, but as she looked across the sands towards the sprawling city of Giza in the distance, she felt…strangely empty.

Numb, in a way.

Because when she was numb – or at least distracted by reading or work – she didn’t have to feel anything at all. That was how she normally dealt with the small disappointments and hurts of life: she found something else to do, something else to focus on.

Things like making sure she was at the top of her classes.

Things like developing her potioneering skills with the Book of Potions.

Things like the kindness shown to her by Matou Shinji, her closest friend after…

She swallowed, stumbling to a halt as a face flashed through her mind – the image of a sharp-eyed girl with purple hair and bronzed skin who had hailed from these lands.

The face of Sialim Sokaris, her late, first friend.

The first person to truly accept her as she was and find value in her as a person – not just in what she could do, like almost everyone in her life had before.

Being here in the girl’s homeland, on vacation, to boot, there was no escape from the memories.

She kept wondering what it would have been like if Sokaris were here. How her friend might look at her with that odd expression that passed for pride. The other’s odd sense of humor. What the other might have said about the ruins of Ancient Egypt.

“Hermione, dear, are you alright?” a voice called to her – her mother’s voice. While Hermione was more bookish than athletic, she had never had trouble keeping up before, and with Egypt being one of her favorite places since she was small, it was odd she wasn’t more excited about finally coming here. “Hermione?”

“I…I’m fine,” the girl replied after a long beat. “Really.”

Hermione even managed a small smile as she began walking again, but there was something brittle about her expression, as if it were made of naught but sunbaked clay. Her mother knew that smile, having seen it too many times when something had gone wrong in school – someone had been mean to her, or someone she thought was her friend had insisted on copying her homework, or some such.

But she hadn’t seen it in a while, not since her daughter went to Hogwarts and made good friends. Hermione had written about them at length: Sialim Sokaris – the only girl her daughter had ever really been intimidated by academically, and Matou Shinji – a mysterious, but popular Oriental boy who apparently knew much about magic...and studied more than she did.

She’d teased her daughter about having her first crush, which a flustered Hermione had emphatically denied, but she hadn’t missed how happy her daughter was when she received gifts from the two of them – the first time any of her classmates had ever given her a gift, or how Hermione had been so very nervous about her friends liking the presents she got them in return.

Midway through the second term, Hermione had stopped writing home.

And when she came home for the summer, she was as quiet as before she went to Hogwarts, throwing herself into finishing her homework as if keeping something at bay. On questioning, Hermione hadn’t said much, only telling her parents that Matou had ended up in the wizarding hospital in serious condition after doing something heroic – and that she was worried about him.

Besides her work, the young Ravenclaw had been detached from everything – and everyone, only growing livelier as a new year at Hogwarts neared. She’d even started writing again, with her letters talking at length about her lessons with the Book of Potions, the oddness of her severe History Professor, and of course, Matou Shinji. She’d written enough, in fact, that her mother had suggested that Hermione should invite her friends over for Christmas, since they would like to meet them – especially the boy who had captured their daughter’s heart.

She’d mentioned that Shinji had to go back to Japan over the holidays, but had not mentioned anything about her other friend, the girl named Sokaris.

Had something happened? Had they perhaps had a falling out?

They didn’t know, as she’d never mentioned it. She wrote of how the headmaster had died, and the hubbub around that event, how her friend Matou apparently made the front page when he and the Boy-Who-Lived, the latter being effectively Magical Britain’s savior, backed their Head of House as Headmaster, and how excited she was to be chosen as one of the founding members of the Ourea, an elite society of future leaders.

Her parents were quite proud, of course, as they knew their daughter was destined for great things, and in celebration of her accomplishments, had made arrangements to visit Egypt to visit during their annual holiday abroad, since Hermione had always dreamed of visiting that ancient land.

Only now that they were here, Hermione seemed indifferent to everything and everyone. She didn’t talk unless she was spoken to, where she’d normally be the first to share a tidbit – or correct a mistake. She didn’t show much interest in the old ruins she’d written about for many an assignment. She barely touched her food.

Every step she took seemed heavy, as if she was forcing herself forward, as if she could not bear to explore this mysterious land she had once loved from afar.

Being frank, she couldn’t, because every step hurt, reminding her that her friend was no longer with her. Having come to this place that Sialim Sokaris had once called home, there was no more running from that truth.

No work to do to distract her. No Matou Shinji – or his letters – to fixate on, or to provide an odd sort of comfort, as he had been Sokaris’ friend too, and had known her better than she. Or so it seemed, as he’d been there from the beginning of that year, to…to…the incident when Sokaris…when Sokaris…

…when the Dark Wizard attacked.

It had happened without any warning. One day, Sokaris had been in class discussing some concepts of Herbology with her, and the next…the mysterious girl who had accepted her for who and what she was had vanished, leaving behind only a broken wand.

No body. No letters. No last effect she knew of.

Nothing to say goodbye to.

As if she’d never existed at all.

Like a puppet with its strings cut, Hermione Granger collapsed, falling to her hands and knees in the middle of the Necropolis, her body quaking as a cry of utter loss and desolation passed her lips. Gone. It wasn’t about blame this time, wasn’t about the irrational sense guilt that in wishing Sokaris were gone so Matou would pay attention to her, she had caused the other’s death.

She’d cried once in the last year. She’d thought she was worthless, that no one would want to stay with someone like her, someone thoughtless. Someone selfish. Someone crying not out of loss, but out of terror at the thought of a world without limits, seeking someone to cling to so she wouldn’t have to be alone.

This was different.

For the first time since Sokaris’ death, Hermione Granger was finally grieving for her late best friend, her face twisted into an ugly expression she hoped no one could see as she cried out her grief for the world to hear, with hot, heavy tears dripping onto the ground below.

‘…Sokaris…’

A year’s worth of pain, bottled up inside. A year’s worth of denial, finally denied. A year’s worth of bitterness, loneliness, and heartache.

‘…Sokaris…’

A year’s worth of sobs, and a year’s worth of tears.

Free.

100%

Over the years, he’d wondered what it would be like to finally avenge himself on the one who had betrayed the Potters – on the one who had betrayed Lily. For over a decade, he’d believed Sirius Black was the one to blame, that that would be murderer had turned to the Dark Lord after all, like the rest of his family.

…until he’d summoned the shade of Lily Evans with the Resurrection Stone at the close of the last school term.

And she’d slapped him.

Again. And again. And again.

He didn’t remember how many times she hit him, but he didn’t make a move to stop her.

Seeing her again, feeling her touch on his skin – even if it was in anger, even if her touch was so much less substantial than a body, just barely more solid than a ghost – was a miracle enough in itself that he wanted to weep with joy.

But at last, she’d stopped, trembling with something that seemed like fury, grief, and disappointment all at once.

“Why, Severus?” she’d asked quietly, as he simply stood there, looking at the form of the woman he’d loved – still loved, more than anything in the world – as if he couldn’t believe she was there. She looked just as he remembered. Only 21 years old when she’d been struck down. Killed because of that never-sufficiently-enough damned prophecy. Because of a traitor in the Order.

And because of him.

“Why?” she’d pressed.

But he had no answer.

“Was it because I was just a mudblood?” she’d asked sharply, looking at the man before her, a man whose face was lined with cares and regret. “Or because you couldn’t stand seeing me with a man you hated?”

“Lily…”

“James was a good man, Severus! He didn’t deserve to die like that. And Harry…growing up with…my sister…”

“I am sorry about your son,” he’d responded after a moment, his voice bleak and filled with sorrow enough to overflow an ocean’s banks. “But…Potter…” At the mention of his old enemy, his features hardened despite himself. “You never saw his vilest acts. You say you made excuses for me – what about for him? He tried to kill me back at Hogwarts!”

All the greasy-haired potions master could do was shake his head and look away, regretting his tone immediately.

“No. Forgive me. I shouldn’t have…”

“There are many things ‘you shouldn’t have’,” the redhead had said, her voice bitter and cold as she looked at the man who had once been her best friend – until he turned to the Dark. “You shouldn’t have told Voldemort of the prophecy, for one, even if it was Pettigrew who sold us out.”

“You’re right.” With those two words, Snape had interrupted the coming tirade. “I shouldn’t have. It is one of the things I regret to this day.” But then he had spoken further, feeling that he needed to defend himself in some way. “Still, I didn’t know he meant you.”

Whatever sympathy Lily might have had evaporated, as she turned the full force of her glare upon the wretched man who stood before her – the one who had called her from death into the world of the living, where it hurt just to exist.

“…that’s what this is about, isn’t it?” she’d whispered, a mixture of horror and revulsion writ large across her features. “Your obsession with me. You want me to forgive you, even though you don’t regret costing my son a normal childhood. You don’t regret the death of James, or anyone else who you killed. You don’t even regret tormenting Petunia. You just called me into this place, tearing me away from the afterlife and making me feel pain once again, because you want me to say that you did the right thing. Well, I won’t, you selfish, selfish, man.”

Snape had barely been able to keep standing as Lily’s words tore into him, her accusations ripping into his soul like a thousand white-hot knives – because they were true.

If he was completely honest, he wouldn’t have cared about the sins he’d committed, about the cost in others’ lives. He wouldn’t mind if the rest of the world had burned to ash, not if she were safe.

“…yes,” he’d admitted, his voice hoarse and raw and trembling. Somehow though, he found it in himself not to look away, his black eyes looking into hers. “But Lily…you wouldn’t have regretted it if the Longbottoms or some other family had died instead of you and your husband.”

“That’s a damned lie, Severus! I would…” But Lily had found herself unable to continue with that line of thought. “Have it your way then. As I said once, you've chosen your way, I've chosen mine. Reap what you have sown."

“Lily…”

“Reap what you have sown.”

With those last words, the shade had fallen silent and closed her eyes, the edges of her summoned form shaking with pain that could not be suppressed.

“Lily…”

No matter how many times Severus Snape had called her name, the shade had not answered, until defeated, the Potions Master of Hogwarts had let the Resurrection Stone slip from his fingers, clattering to the ground as the specter disappeared to the land of the dead once more, leaving the man terribly, unbearably alone.

100%

In the month since, he’d temporarily acquired the Cloak of Invisibility from the young Harry Potter, in exchange for giving the boy access to the Book of Potions, so he could learn something over the summer without undue attention from the Ministry. But though he now possessed all three of the Deathly Hallows, he hadn’t noticed too many changes.

Well, save for seeing shadows of those who had passed away trailing behind those who had killed them, a visible sign of one’s crimes and karmic debts. He’d become aware of them when he took hold of both the Stone and the Wand, and had seen countless ghostly echoes in the mirror, reminding him of what he had done – of who he used to be.

Reap what you have sown…

The words echoed in his mind, a painful reminder that he could never escape that past, that no matter how hard he tried, those choices had helped to define him. His hands would never be washed clean.

But then, he’d been able to see such echoes around others as well, and had been…profoundly disturbed at the number around Gilderoy Lockhart. Severus Snape had never thought much of the other man, given the stories and desire for popularity that the so-called adventurer seemed to bear, but his new vision gave him pause.

For if he was correct, the Professor of History had taken a great many lives – almost as many as Alastor Moody (who had had a much longer career) or Lucius Malfoy, both of which had fought in Britain’s Wizarding War.

The Potions Master had thought there must be some mistake, that perhaps what he was seeing was not death, given that Quirinus Quirrell’s form did not hang over Potter or the other Stone Cutters, and nor of course, did the form of their late friend. Of course, there was an argument to be made that Quirrell bore sole responsibility for both of those deaths, and thus Potter bore no responsibility for what happened, but he wondered all the same…

At least, until he had been invited by Harry Potter to witness Peter Pettigrew being kissed by a Dementor, and had seen the faces of the Order – of many of those who had died in the war – including Lily – hanging about the maimed wizard’s form.

Proof that Pettigrew had been the traitor after all.

…and that Black had been innocent.

He – like everyone else – had assumed that Pettigrew was harmless, a spineless toady who hung around the…Marauders because Black and Potter had a knack for using people, for committing crimes and never being caught. But apparently, Pettigrew had been his own creature all along, and had used the others, playing on their trust to learn their secrets – and then betraying them all to the Dark Lord.

…a cunning plan, that, and one that Severus Snape might have appreciated, had he remained loyal to the Dark Lord. Only Snape had not, betraying the Dark Lord, turning away from everything he wanted, from those he had called his friends and allies, because he wanted to save one person, while Pettigrew’s actions had doomed that person to death, leaving him hollow.

Even witnessing the traitor receive the Dementor’s Kiss, with his body consigned to the flames, failed to elicit much of a reaction from the wizard. For so long he’d dreamed of vengeance, but in the end, what did it grant him? Nothing. No release. No sense of peace or comfort. Not when Lily hated him, when she would never forgive him for the things he’d done. Not when his heart had been torn into yawning abyss by the fresh memory of grief – and the look of revulsion that had crossed the face of his longtime love when she looked at him.

There was nothing more for him. Nothing but his duty.

So, sometime after the execution, he found himself in his home at Spinner’s End, walking aimlessly across the fields he had once roamed with his first – perhaps only – friend. He’d been alone before then, neglected by his parents, beaten by his drunk father, wanting to escape.

For so long, she was the only one who cared at all if he lived or died. She thought he was special, called him friend, when everyone else – even her sister, thought he was strange. To be fair, he’d never been the best at getting along with others, because he’d never had a good role model for it, but…

If he could do it all over, he would have chosen differently. Perhaps he would have asked the Hat to place him in Ravenclaw instead of a Slytherin, where his odd knowledge of spells might have been appreciated, without the stigma of being sorted into the so-called “Dark” House. Perhaps he would not have called Potter’s choice of Gryffindor one for those wishing to be ‘brawny’ rather than ‘brainy’. Perhaps…

Severus sighed, sitting alone in the empty house.

‘Master of Death…eh?’

So the legends called anyone who was fortunate enough to possess all the Hallows, but Snape hadn’t noticed much of a difference between holding two and three pieces of the set. In the end, he figured that if the legends about Death were real, that he might as well test whether he was indeed its Master, by Resurrection Stone in his hand and turned it about three times.

“Death,” he whispered. “Death.”

And then he knew no more.

100%

When he came to, the Potions Master opened his eyes to find himself standing under a black sky studded with cold bright stars, no sign of anyone else as far as the eye could see, only the barren black sand of an endless desert.

SEVERUS SNAPE.

The voice, if one could call it that, issued from all around him, reminding him of nothing so much as the slamming of coffin lids.

He turned about, reaching instinctively for his wand – only to find it gone – and that there was no one there.

BE NOT AFRAID, MORTAL. YOU ARE PAST THE AGENCY OF SCREAMS.

And as if born from the darkness, a figure materialized before him: a grinning skeleton in a very tattered black robe, wielding a scythe that gleamed in the cold light of the stars. A figure of fear and legend, from whom every mote of essence in his body, every cell, every atom screamed at him to run.

Only he could not, for his legs would not move.

Not in this place that was no place, where things like light, color, sound, and more were only illusion

“…Death,” he whispered in horrified fascination. Merlin. Was it true then? Had the Peverells indeed met with Death?

…and was this all about to become very academic, given that he apparently had not summoned Death – but had been summoned by Death.

Too late, he remembered that the Stone had been requested by the Cadmus Peverell, the second of the brothers, who had sought to humiliate Death – and that for his affront, he had paid dearly.

SO SOME HAVE CALLED ME, came the reply, like two slabs of concrete rubbing against one another. HARRY POTTER BEING THE LAST IN RECENT MEMORY.

Snape blinked.

“…when did Harry cross your path?” he asked guardedly.

The skeletal figure chuckled, or at least Snape thought it was a chuckle, given that it sounded more like a mountain collapsing.

AFTER THE ONE YOU CALLED QUIRRELL DESTROYED THE HORCRUX WITHIN THE BOY. A SPECIAL CASE, THAT. YOU WIZARDS DO LOVE YOUR MESSES.

This further confused him, as he didn’t think Death was so…helpful or talkative. The version he remembered from the Tales of Beedle the Bard was much more sinister – the anthropomorphic personification of the end of all things, who had felt cheated that Peverell brothers had avoided a grisly fate in a dangerous river, and had given them gifts that ended up destroying them.

The Deathly Hallows themselves.

And yet this one did not seem overly bothered by things like Horcruxes, which were specifically designed to keep one’s soul anchored to the mortal plane – out of His grasp.

“Why are you telling me this?” the wizard inquired, suspicious. He’d always believed in the image of thought of Death as a being that was cruel and vicious, so Him giving out information so readily discomfited him. Greatly in fact.

SPEAKING OF SOMEONE’S INTERESTS IS ONLY POLITE, the Grim Reaper explained simply, OR SO I READ IN HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE.

“How to win friends and…?”

A GOOD BOOK. I RECOMMEND IT.

“I…see,” Snape said after a few minutes. This wasn’t at all what he’d expected from the embodiment of the end. “Am I…dead then?”

NO. YOU ARE HAVING A NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE.

“From what…?” The botched summoning, perhaps, or…?

CURIOSITY. YOU HAVE BROUGHT THE THREE TOGETHER, AND ATTEMPTED TO SUMMON ME. MOST PREFER TO STAY FAR AWAY.

“I was…curious,” Snape admitted.

AS WAS I. SO A NEAR-SNAPE EXPERIENCE FOLLOWED.

The Grim Reaper waved fingers of bone, and a table and two chairs, with the former laden with a plain white table cloth, black tapers that glowed with blue flame, and…two bowls of what looked and smelled much like a fragrant goat curry.

CARE FOR A BOWL? The Grim Reaper asked, as Severus Snape just nodded, finding that he was now able to move. If he didn’t know better, he would have thought he had sampled a hallucinogenic potion made by the Weasleys Twins.

Gingerly, he sat down on the conjured chair, not quite trusting it, though frankly, he was more fascinated by the fact the Death apparently could eat food, despite having no stomach, no tongue to taste with, and so forth.

“…what does it taste like to you?” he asked out of morbid curiosity.

LIKE BITING A RED-HOT ICE CUBE.

“Ah,” Snape uttered. It wasn’t usual he was at a loss for words, but this could not be called a usual situation even if one were to stretch the word beyond any reasonable meaning it had. “I do not believe I’ve had curry before.”

SURPRISING, GIVEN HOGWARTS IS IN SCOTLAND.

“I see.” There was silence for some minutes as the Potions Master tried the dish, his eyebrows rising when he found it actually wasn’t bad, with the hint of spice and heat being rather pleasant given the desert’s chill. “You are…different from what I expected.”

NO DOUBT YOU READ THE TALES OF BEEDLE THE BARD.

“…well, yes.”

YOU SHOULD NOT BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ.

Sitting before Death Himself, Severus Snape did not feel like a learned wizard and a master of his craft, but a mere schoolboy just playing with things far beyond his comprehension. Like Death, for example, and what this place was…this place that was no place…

“Tell me the true story then.”

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND HUMANS. THEY BAFFLE AND INTRIGUE ME, ESPECIALLY HOW THEY COMPLICATE THEIR OWN EXISTENCE. BUT YOU MEAN THE PEVERELLS.

“Yes.”

POWERFUL WIZARDS, BUT VERY DIFFERENT FROM ONE ANOTHER. ALONE THEY COULD NOT HAVE SURVIVED THE RIVER CROSSING, AS NONE HAD THE STRENGTH TO CONJURE A BRIDGE AS THEY DID. MANY HAD LOST THEIR LIVES IN STUBBORNNESS, BELIEVING THEY COULD SUCCEED ALONE, AS THERE WAS LITTLE TRUST IN THOSE DAYS OF WAR.

There was a nearly imperceptible shift, and Snape had the uncomfortable feeling that Death was studying him.

AS DIFFERENT AS THEY WERE, THOSE THREE WORKED TOGETHER AND SURVIVED. I WAS…CURIOUS.

“Curious, you say?”

INDEED. IN THOSE DAYS, IT WAS EASIER FOR ME TO APPEAR, AS BELIEF WAS THICKER, AND THE AGE OF GODS HAD NOT YET FULLY SLIPPED AWAY. AND AS BEINGS LIKE MYSELF SOMETIMES DO, I OFFERED GIFTS.

“The Hallows.”

I GAVE TO THEM WHAT THEY ASKED. TO ANTIOCH PEVERELL, A PEERLESS WAND WORTHY OF A WIZARD WHO HAD CONQUERED DEATH - AND SO SOON LEFT HIM AS HE WAS NOT WORTHY OF IT. TO CADMUS, A STONE WHICH COULD BRING THE SPIRITS OF THE DEAD INTO THE WORLD OF THE LIVING. ALAS, TO GIVE THEM FLESH AGAIN IS BEYOND MY POWER, AS HE SOON LEARNED, GOING MAD. AND TO THE THIRD, IGNOTUS, I GAVE HIM A CLOAK AND LEFT HIM ALONE, AS HE ASKED.

“So you…didn’t mean to take your revenge on them for defying you?” Snape questioned, with Death looking at him oddly. “For not dying at the crossing as so many others had?”

I TAKE NO JOY IN SEEING THE END OF LIVES, SEVERUS SNAPE, AND I DO NOT KILL. I SIMPLY COLLECT SOULS AT THE APPOINTED TIME AND GUIDE THEM TO WHERE THEY WISH TO GO. CRUELTY, MALICE, VENGEANCE ARE FOREIGN TO ME, FOR I AM NOT HUMAN. I AM THE ONE ALL THINGS COME TO IN THE END, FOR BEFORE THE ULTIMATE REALITY, ALL THINGS ARE BUT ILLUSIONS THAT WILL ONE DAY FLICKER OUT, LIKE CONJURED OBJECTS RETURNING TO NOTHINGNESS ONCE MORE.

“I…see.”

That was difficult to process, and if it were true, then didn’t that mean that Voldemort, who feared Death more than anything else in the world, would find his quest futile in the end?

EVERYTHING IN EXISTENCE HAS AN IMPERFECTION. HUMANS AND LIVING THINGS, CERTAINLY, BUT EVEN AIR, WILL, AND TIME. ALL THAT HAS A BEGINNING HAS AN END. I WAS THERE WHEN THE FIRST LIFE FADED, AND I WILL BE WHEN THE LAST FLICKERS OUT.

“Then…there is no such thing as being a Master of Death…is there?” Snape muttered in dismay. Did that mean everyone who had sought the Hallows had done so in vain? That there was no benefit to holding all three?

THERE IS NOT, the Grim Reaper confirmed, the skeleton’s empty eye-sockets regarding the wizard before him as if seeing into his very thoughts. BUT BRINGING THE THREE TOGETHER DOES CONFER SOME BENEFITS, JUST AS THE BROTHERS WERE STRONGEST TOGETHER, AND APART, QUICKLY FELL.

“What are they then?”

Snape had lost his appetite, if he’d ever really had much of one in the first place. Dumbledore’s obsession for – quest for the Hallows. His directive. What did that even mean now?

YOU HAVE SEEN THE ECHOES OF THINGS PAST, THE TIES OF ACTION AND CONSEQUENCE. THAT IS THE BENEFIT OF THE WAND AND THE STONE TOGETHER. THE WAND AND THE CLOAK ALLOW ONE TO SEE THROUGH CONCEALMENT INTO THE TRUTH OF THINGS – FOR ALL THINGS HAVE A NATURAL END. THE CLOAK AND THE STONE ALLOW ONE TO SUMMON THE SPIRITS OF THOSE THAT HAVE PASSED IN A MORE SOLID FORM, WITHOUT CAUSING THEM PAIN.

“…and all three?”

A low rumble sounded that Snape could only think was the imitation of a laugh, if far more terrifying.

THEN, SEVERUS SNAPE, THE KILLING CURSE HOLDS NO DANGER FOR YOU.

Snape just blinked, his features twisting into a puzzled mask.

“…but I thought you said all things die in the end.”

INDEED. AND YOU, LIKE ALL OTHERS WILL ONE DAY DIE. SHOULD YOU TRULY OWN THE THREE, YOU MAY RECEIVE AN IMMUNITY TO THE KILLING CURSE, OR OTHER SPELLS THAT IMPOSE THE CONCEPT OF DEATH, BUT YOU ARE NOT IMMUNE TO OTHER CURSES, OR TO DEATH FROM MERE…INJURY.

“I see.”

With that, the table, chairs, meal, and desert faded, with the Potions Master of Hogwarts standing before the embodiment of the end in a strange expanse. A sea of white – no, not white, only what his eyes told him was supposed to be white, as they refused to process what was really there, his mind reeling from the reality of was all around him – the nothing that was all around him.

This was something humans couldn’t comprehend, were not made to comprehend, a place that wasn’t a place, that didn’t wear the illusion of a place.

YOU ARE A CURIOUS MORTAL, WITH REGRET COMPOUNDED UPON REGRET, SEVERUS SNAPE. ONE DAY WE WILL MEET AGAIN, AND YOU WILL REAP WHAT YOU HAVE SOWN.

Severus Snape knew that his time in this strange otherworld was coming to an end, that in a moment, Death would release him and he would return to the place he had left. He knew that he only had one chance to ask further questions.

“Is there justice in the afterlife?” he inquired of the Grim Reaper. “A heaven or a hell?”

THERE IS NO JUSTICE. THERE’S JUST ME, AND THE DESERT THROUGH WHICH EACH MUST WALK ALONE.

“…like life.”

EXACTLY.

In the place that was no place, Severus Snape fell, sinking deeper, deeper, deeper still…

…until at last he awoke, finding himself in the home at Spinner’s End, the world never seeming more solid than it had at that moment.

‘I’m…alive…’

100%

By the time Hermione Granger achieved some semblance of calm again, the sun had set, with the desert winds blowing gently across the sands. Explained to her parents why she had broken down, which entailed a tear-streaked explanation of what had happened to Sokaris and how this had been her home, took longer still.

She still felt pain, still felt hollow, but in admitting it to herself, she’d taken the first steps towards finally healing, though she did freeze up at the sight of a dark-skinned woman in purple crossing her path, especially as the other wore long purple hair bundled in a braid, and moved in a way that reminded her of her late friend.

‘No…it’s not her,’ the brunette told herself. ‘Sokaris wasn’t that old…’

And wouldn’t have been, even if she’d lived.

As she and her parents headed back into the city towards their hotel, she found herself drawn to an odd storefront which was still lit – if one that no one else seemed to notice – and walked in, though her parents did not, seeming confused as to where she had gone.

‘Muggle repelling charms?’

She went outside again, to her parents’ relief, as they thought she had just disappeared. Taking their hands, she pulled them through the doorway into the shop, where an odd storekeeper – a woman with her features concealed by a hooded robe of olive green and gold greeted them.

“Welcome to the Giant’s Pit,” the other said in accented, if perfectly understandable English, waving her hand about. “You have come a long way.”

“How did you know…?” Hermione asked, curious. Was this possibly a Seer or…?

“This is Giza, a place where many tourists come, and you are a foreigner,” the other replied simply, with Hermione conceding that that was true enough. “And a practitioner of Witchcraft at that.”

“What do you sell here?” Hemione’s father questioned, looking about at what looked like an assortment of artifacts, paintings, and even a few pets.

“Trinkets, mostly. Sometimes a wand. Sometimes a pet, depending on what is needed,” the other noted, as cool purple eyes regarded the party. “Was there anything you desired?”

Hermione ended up buying a black cat with strange red eyes, which she named Sy-k-ri, in honor of her late friend, after the anguished cry of Osiris as he was about to slip away into the darkness. Sokaris’ name was based on the falcon god Seker, after all, the great bird of the underworld who moved between the worlds of life and death – of night and day freely.

In this place, this land, she would remember her friend. She would cry, she would laugh, and she would not run from the truth.

Perhaps that was why, with the cat snuggled up beside her that night, for the first time in a long while, Hermione Granger did not feel so utterly incomplete.

100%

Choice 13: Under Ayaka, you learn much how to practically apply ofuda in battle, even as far as using yin energy to enhance one's ability to bind and seal away. It appears that is ideal for dealing with the spiritual side of youkai, given that that was what Onmyoudou was first used for. Deception - feints - and awareness play a large role in shaping and preparing grand scale attacks, but what kind of finishing move does Shinji focus most on perfecting? (choose one)

[ ] Binding - if the opponent is at one's mercy, then one has can finish them off with ease (how to use things like true names, incantations and arrays to bind a more powerful opponent)
[ ] Earth - sometimes, especially against things that resist magic, elemental abilities are more useful, and one may need to go for the kill - like against the bear
[ ] (write in)

Choice 14: There's also the matter of what we teach Luna, since we don't want her to possibly have to go up against youkai with just a wand and underpowered (spoken) spells. She's learning how to use yang-style abilities from Ayaka, but she's still a novice at it. What should she supplement it with?

[ ] Practical potions - like invisibility or the explosive potion
[ ] The basics of silent casting
[ ] Using yang abilities to power up her physical spells
[ ] How to make and use Ofuda

BibliophileGoat
August 6th, 2015, 11:58 PM
[X] Earth - sometimes, especially against things that resist magic, elemental abilities are more useful, and one may need to go for the kill - like against the bear
[X] The basics of silent casting

Hm. Didn't expect Death to be so punny.

Cassius
August 7th, 2015, 12:01 AM
[ ] Binding - if the opponent is at one's mercy, then one has can finish them off with ease (how to use things like true names, incantations and arrays to bind a more powerful opponent)

[ ] Using yang abilities to power up her physical spells