Page 72 of 73 FirstFirst ... 22626770717273 LastLast
Results 1,421 to 1,440 of 1442

Thread: Melancholy of One (A Grail Works. LTD. Story)

  1. #1421
    Drunk Anime Is The True Path. Mattias's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Where AM I?
    Posts
    7,554
    US Friend Code
    156,137,657
    Blog Entries
    1
    I don't know if "A thousand a day" and "Iz-" count as hints so much as signposts.
    Atlus: Just Make an Eroge Already.


    Gundam-a-thon Status: 0079 Zeta ZZ Char's Counterattck War In the Pocket F91 Stardust Memories Victory G Gundam Wing Endless Waltz 8th MS After War X Turn A SEED IGLOO 00 Unicorn AGE Reconguista The Orgin Thunderbolt S2 IBO


  2. #1422
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors pureauthor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Age
    29
    Posts
    1,196
    Hahaha. I'll admit as an author it can be difficult to judge how much foreshadowing is too much, too little, or just right. Hope the clues don't lead to too much being taken away from the actual reveal!

  3. #1423
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    According to most, my own little world
    Age
    38
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    7,487
    Blog Entries
    193
    For those unfamiliar with Japanese mythology, it still would've been a surprise - and in my case, it'd just been so long since I read those particular clues that I'd completely forgotten them. So, total surprise.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette

  4. #1424
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors pureauthor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Age
    29
    Posts
    1,196
    Chapter Seventy Five: Dea/Th/rone

    *~*

    I am going to finish this story, and I am going to finish it soon, darn it.

    Also this is going to be a pretty long update.

    Disclaimer: I own nothing.

    *~*

    Dark World – vs. Avenger

    Did he just say... Izanami?

    Kara blinked, and looked at the swirling pool of darkness that lurked in front of her. The blade that she had been holding in a ready position fell to her side as she glanced back at Twice.

    “That's... impossible!” she blurted out after a moment. “Izanami is a true Divine Spirit! She can't have been summoned as a Servant!”

    “Do you think so?” The voice that replied sounded tranquil, but some unknown quality in the voice seemed to seep into her bones, weighing her down and making her belly squirm. “Yes, it would be quite unusual for a Divine Spirit to be called as a Servant.”

    From the darkness, a woman emerged. Skin so pale it looked almost as white as her robes. Eyes the colour of blood. Her expression was calm and unperturbed as she looked down at Kara.

    “In fact,” the being – Izanami – continued, “almost as unusual as an amalgation of deaths forming itself into an anthropomized concept. And then serving in the War. Wouldn't you say?”

    Now that she was looking at her, Kara a clawing sensation at her chest. As if a thousand tiny, invisible hands were tearing her apart from the inside. As if everything she was, everything that comprised her, was being gnawed away at the edges.

    But of course.

    I am Dying.

    I am the Moment where one passes beyond.

    And before me... a goddess of death. One who holds dominion over those who perish.


    Despite herself, Kara felt a grim smile tug at the corners of her lips. No wonder I feel as if I'm fraying apart, merely standing in her presence.

    Suddenly, from her side, movement.

    A blur of white. Almost faster than she could register, Arcueid had charged forward.

    “M – Miss Arcueid!?”

    One clawed hand slashed down.

    A burst of light and crackling energy. When it faded, Kara could see Arcueid, sparks flaring off a barrier projected by Izanami. After a moment, she jumped back, apparently preparing for a second assault after her first one had failed. Izanami shifted her gaze over to Arcueid, her expression unperturbed.

    “True Ancestor... no doubt you wish to see me defeated. And who knows? As I am now, you might even be able to succeed.” A thin smile split Izanami's face. “However... you are not allowed.”

    “Allowed?” And Kara could sense the anger simmering under Arcueid's voice, and the grip on her sword tightened.

    “The Holy Grail War is not yet over,” The enemy's gaze was calm as she turned to regard Shiki. “There are still two Masters... and the rules are very clear.”

    “Only one Master may remain, to claim the Grail.” It surprised Kara, how calm she herself sounded as she took a step forward.

    “Indeed. And until that point...” Izanami shook her head once, a slow pitying gesture. “There can be no outside interference. Not unless... you wish for the Master Shiki to be disqualified at the very end, after he has fought so hard?”

    “But... you have to be bending the rules too!” She could hear Illya's annoyed voice from wherever she was sitting. “An Avenger class, in the Moon Cell's Grail War? There've never been any records of this!”

    “The rules matter only insofar that the Moon Cell will enforce them.” Izanami closed her eyes and shrugged. “I am here, a Servant of Twice Pieceman. The Moon Cell allows that. You too, exist as an anomaly of a Servant, little shade. And the Moon Cell allows that.”

    “... But the Moon Cell won't stand for an outside interference in a Holy Grail War battle.” Illya finished, her voice tight with anger.

    “You may feel free to continue your assault on me, True Ancestor... if you care nothing for the life of the Master Shiki Tohno. I leave that decision in your hands.”

    Arcueid stood as still as a statue, but Kara was sure she could feel the anger radiating off her in the form of heat. Finally though, her arms lowered, and her fists were clenched and trembling.

    “I shall take that as your answer then.” And Izanami's face looked impassive, although Kara thought she could detect the hint of a smile on her features. “And now, little shade...”

    “Don't waste time, Avenger.” She could hear Twice's voice, cool and dispassionate. “Get rid of them.”

    “Very well,” Izanami flaoted lower, until she was barely above the water's surface. “Come on then, little shade. Show me the might that allowed you to progress so far.”

    And as Kara summoned her blade and stared up at her opponent, she found her thoughts racing.

    Fight a Divine Spirit? Was this some sort of cruel joke? No matter how she had limited herself in order to fit into a Servant container, there would be no contest between herself and an actual divinity.

    Of course, it's not like I had any right defeating some of the opponents I'd fought already. And regardless, there was no other option.

    Ahead of her, and behind Twice, lay their goal. The core of the Moon Cell, glowing with azure light.

    To claim the ultimate prize... to save her Master's life...

    There was no other way.

    Old Iron flashed crimson once more, in the form of the Emperor Nero's beloved sword. And Kara moved forward into battle.

    *~*

    Shiki stood watching as Kara charged, slashing at the enemy Servant. Avenger did not move to attack her, instead using her energy to create barriers that would ward off Kara's wild assault.

    It almost looked as if Kara were forcing Avenger back, but Shiki could tell from his Servant's assaults that she was growing more frustrated – and meanwhile, Avenger had yet to feel the need to retaliate.

    Another slash – but as it clashed against the barrier Avenger had summoned to block it, a bolt of black lightning lanced out, catching Kara in the shoulder with a sound like an explosion, and as the smoke cleared, Shiki's eyes widened as he saw the charred stump where Kara's right arm had been.

    “Kara!” He took one step to her, only to watch as Kara thrust her hand out.

    “Stay back, Master!” Before his eyes, she changed forms – into a younger man clothed in eastern garb and now holding a knife. Swiftly, she brought the blade to her neck-

    Crimson stained the digital sea as Kara's body collapsed.

    And a moment later she was whole again, jumping to her feet and brandishing her blade once more.

    “I see...” Avenger nodded once. “That which is Dying cannot die. It seems you have grown into understanding your nature and powers more. You would bring the cold pain of death onto yourself, merely for the chance to continue.”

    Kara didn't respond directly, save for the grip on her blade tightening.

    “Still,” Avenger shook her head once, “the mere ability to survive is not what makes one a victor in the Holy Grail War.”

    Shiki could see naked alarm come across Kara's face, and her gaze involuntarily flitted to him. And he felt his own jaw tighten.

    If Kara could not be killed, then...

    “Ah... you are frightened on behalf of your Master... but you need not worry.” Another shake of the head, another tiny smile. “I will not target any Master in this war. At least, not directly.”

    “What...?” As Shiki took a moment to process this information, he could see Kara panting and lowering her blade. “You won't? But why?”

    “Well, for one thing, it would have made things entirely too easy. For a death goddess such myself... sentencing a single mortal to pass beyond would end things all too swiftly. For another...” the robes around Avenger billowed, and Shiki could see all of a sudden that her body was bound and restricted under them, much like a straightjacket.

    “You're restricted, too.” Arcueid's voice cut in. Still tight with anger and outrage, but Shiki could see the cold gleam in her eyes. He'd seen in before. The look of a hunter trying to decide how best to corner her prey. “Like you said, a Divine Spirit becoming a Servant is a tall order. However you managed it...”

    “You needed to give some things up.” Illya's voice now. “The ability to target Masters is one of those things, isn't it? Will your status as a Servant be revoked if you do that?”

    “I see no reason to confirm all your suspicions. Now, little shade. Shall we return to our match?”

    Kara swung her blade up in a loose arc that ended it in a ready position, pointing it at Avenger. “But what then? You've acknowledged that you cannot kill me and you won't target my Master... but I'm not likely to be able to defeat you, either.”

    Avenger's crimson eyes flashed with something akin to anger, and then another lance of black lightning surged forth, striking Kara square in the chest and sending her hurtling backwards to the ground.

    “Kara!”

    “Do not get ahead of yourself.” In contrast to the violence of her response, her voice remained even. “I may not be able to kill you... but there are still ways to force your defeat.”

    “Gh... kah! Hah...” Gasping for air, Kara began to pull herself to her feet, leaning heavily on her sword even as she did so. Just as she finished stumbling into an upright position, Avenger created another blast of power, sending her crashing to the ground once again.

    “The simplest way, of course, would be for you to surrender. Otherwise, you would instead suffer the slow agony of a being that cannot truly die. Do you desire that?”

    Shiki watched as Kara slowly pulled herself up, once again. She didn't stand up. Perhaps she simply lacked the strength. Instead she kneeled on one knee, once again using her sword to prop herself up.

    “Don't... be stupid.” She finally gasped out. “You think... I'd do that? Just give up? With... my Master's life... on the line?” Another deep breath, and when she raised her head again, her eyes burned with renewed resolve. “You may be a goddess, and I may be a shadow, as you say. But you will not belittle my devotion to my Master, Avenger.”

    “Indeed?” Avenger sighed. “You have a great bond with your Master then. I could expect no less from someone who had surpassed the many trials of this Holy Grail War. And yet, what is a strength can be turned into a weakness, if only one is willing to see all sides of the issue.”

    “... What?” Kara began to struggle to her feet. “What do you-”

    At that moment, Avenger turned her crimson gaze onto him, and Shiki felt a liquid ice travel down his spine.

    “Master Shiki Tohno.” Avenger's lips quirked up into a smile. “Do not look away.”

    Thousand Curses: O Izanagi, Behold Your Sin

    And before Shiki could react, the ground beneath Kara erupted. A black pool formed, much like the one that Avenger had first emerged from. From within in dozens, hundred of spectral hands reached up from the ground seizing onto Kara, as if to drag her down.

    And drag her they did. As each one seized onto Kara's body, it seemed that a fragment of her broke away, like scraps of paper torn from a notebook. As each hand seized its prize and vanished back into the darkness, more and more reached up, latching onto Kara, and continuing to tear away at her.

    And Kara screamed. A long, continuous wail of agony, louder and longer than anything Shiki had heard from her before. She collapsed to the floor, writhing and twisting in a futile effort to shake off the hands that grasped at her. And even as she cried out in pain and fear, the number of spectral hands reaching up to seize her only increased.

    “Kara!” Shiki's muscle tensed, preparing to rush over, but then-

    “Do not approach her. I told you I could not target Masters directly. But there is no protection for you should you foolishly wander and stumble into your own death.” Avenger's voice was cold. “I promised, did I not? One thousand deaths, for every day. And if there is one being who is fit to suffer all those deaths over and over... well. What am I to do about it?”

    “Stop that! You're just torturing her!”

    “Indeed I am.” A slow nod. “And if you wish me to stop, then it's simple, is it not? Destroy your Command Seals. End your battle, and her suffering with it.”

    Shiki pursed his lips, as he glanced down at the two remaining magic seals on his hand.

    “Or perhaps... the cold specter of death looms too large in your mind to accept defeat? Understandable. Mortals fear that threshold so very much.” Avenger's gaze shifted over to Arcueid. “You could simply leave. And never return. You will survive. And your Servant's torment will end.”

    “Shiki...” he could hear Arcueid's voice, the clear question in it.

    Should they bail now? After everything he had fought through, and everyone he had sacrificed... would it be okay just to leave it like that? It seemed wrong. So utterly, utterly wrong.

    And yet, if he stayed, Kara... he glanced at her, now lying in a heap on the floor. Even if stayed, was there any chance at victory?

    Was he forcing her to suffer, out of stubbornness and pride?

    “I...”

    “Mas... ter...” Kara's voice now, forcing out through clenched teeth as she struggled to sit up, craning her neck against the hands that tore at her and seized their pounds of flesh. “No... don't... listen... to her...”

    And only then did Shiki notice. The pool of blackness was changing. Now, it was no longer simply the black fog of Izanami's attack. Now, mixing in with it was a black oily substance that spread out through the pool.

    A substance he had seen once before.

    “I see...” Avenger nodded once. “You lack control over your own dying. I suppose that was to be expected of an aberration's existence. Well then... Kara. Let us see your limits.”

    Abruptly the darkness of the pool billowed up and out, covering both Avenger and Kara completely.

    Shiki looked into the darkess, his heart hammering in his chest.

    Whatever was going on in there, Kara would have to face it... alone.

    After a moment, Shiki raised his gaze to where Twice was standing there, his features impassive. He took a deep breath, and his fingers tightened on the knife, still in his pocket.

    Kara... you're fighting for both of our sakes now, aren't you? Then...

    It's only fair, that I fight too.


    *~*

    Forevermore – Vanishing World

    Where...?

    Her attention captured by the pain of dying again and again, Kara hadn't been able to focus properly on what was going on. But she had heard Izanami's offer to her Master – simply leave, and she would be spared.

    She knew, if push came to shove, what decision her Master would have made.

    And then... death. Constant, unending death, again and again. Just before she had been swallowed up by the darkness, she could feel her consciousness begin to fray.

    “You lack control.”

    Kara had to laugh. She supposed when it came down to it, that was certainly true.

    But now she was lucid. The pain was gone. And she was in complete darkness.

    “Little shade...” A voice, like rusty nails scraped across a metal sheet.

    Izanami's voice. Kara twisted, trying to see – and her eyes widened.

    A vast skeletal being loomed over her. Twisted and decayed, it looked as if someone had tried to construct a skeleton atop half the body of a giant one. Bones of deep maroon and crimson, a dozen skeletal, grasping hands. And perched on the very top, a decayed, rotting body that stared down at Kara with empty eyes

    “Iza... nami...” She was vaguely aware, from some forgotten scrap of knowledge, that Izanami's true form was hideous to behold. That it had caused her husband to flee in terror once he'd caught sight of her.

    Well, it wasn't difficult to deduce the identity of the person in front of her, then.

    “You still insist on struggling? You still insist on fighting? Most curious. But if so, I shall at least show you the power you are standing against.”

    Slowly, Kara pulled herself to her feet. This time, Izanami made no move to strike her down again. Kara supposed there wasn't really any point. They both knew who the stronger one was.

    A long tense moment of silence. And then Kara took a deep breath.

    “... Why?”

    “Why?” It appeared she had caught her by surprise with the statement, if only for a moment.

    “You... seem so surprised by a Servant's loyalty... towards their Master. That tells me... you feel no real loyalty... to Twice, don't you?”

    Izanami did not respond. And that was all the answer Kara needed.

    “So... why? Why fight for him? Why continue killing Master after Master, for his sake? Why help him in his insane goal to start a war?” She took her deep breath and straightened her back, to stare Izanami in the face. “Tell me! Why?”

    A moment of deep silence. And then a creaking, rattling noise that might have been laughter.

    “This is not the first time I have tested humanity before. Back then... I sought out champions. Representatives of mortal's worldviews and ideologies. I thought it would help me understand mankind. And what they truly desired.

    But my understanding was flawed. In the end, all I understood of humanity was contradiction. They would so willingly avert their eyes from the truth – yet they seek it out. So many of them would give in to despair and emptiness – and yet so many struggle to seek out meaning in life, and if they found none, to create it instead.”


    Though it was difficult to read the body language of a giant skeletal monster, it seemed to Kara that Izanami looked contemplative.

    “I found myself at an impasse. What is it that humans truly desire? What is it that drives them on? And so... I found my way here. To the Moon Cell. To the Holy Grail War. Here, I can see what it is that spurs humans on. I can see what they value enough to risk everything for.”

    One skeletal hand swiped down. Kara raised her hand to parry the blow, stumbling as she did so.

    “And so, I found my way here. As long as humans refuse to accept Twice's wish, the Grail Wars will continue. And I will be able to observe them. I will be able to influence the wars. And one day, I shall at last understand the mortals whose influence I can never fully escape. That is why I work with Twice. Our goals are not the same, but our paths intersect. That is all.”

    The strength behind the blow was incredible. Kara strained against the single limb of Izanami, digging her heels into whatever passed for the ground of the murky darkness she was standing on.
    “You're... wrong...” she finally forced out.

    Izanami did not respond. But the skeletal hand lifted away, although for all Kara knew she was merely preparing another strike.

    “You want to know about humans? You want to understand mortals?” Kara shook her head. “Then – watching from afar will never give you full picture.”

    “You presume to lecture me on understanding? You, who have spent less than two months of your life in the company of others?”

    “I know! I know my time with my Master is short... but! But still! I know him now! I know what he wants. What he likes. What he hates. The kind of person he is. I know because... I talked to him. I stood by him.” Thought she stood before Izanami, Kara felt her mind wander, back to the past few weeks. “I... refused to trust him, at first. I was a fool. It was only when I opened up to him... that I truly understood. When we could talk as... equals.”

    Yes... that's what Master sees me as. Even if I'm a Servant, even if I'm ultimately just a glitch... he's never treated me as a tool or beneath him.

    “So, don't think that watching on high and treating people as tools or things you can play with will ever allow you to understand humans. You want to learn about people? Then spend time with them and-”

    The clawed hand lashed out at her, almost faster than she could see, and certainly faster than she could react. And then more now, all swarming up at her, clutching her tight, so tight she swore she could feel her bones crack inside her. And explosion of pain in her chest, and her vision went white for a moment.

    “Grow bonds, you mean? With others?”

    And then Kara was being lifted up, close to the scarred visage of Izanami.

    “I. Was. BETRAYED.” The last word was a shriek, so loud that it physically hurt Kara to hear. “By the one I held most dear to me! Have you ever seen the one you loved look at you with nothing but horror and disgust? Have you seen called out to your husband, only to see him flee into the fog. And you would ask me to lower myself to humans? To let myself be open to being hurt by every last one of them?

    “Gah... ah...” Kara struggled to form words, struggling past the stabbing pain of the hands crushing her chest. “I... know.”

    The hands stilled, though they did not relent in their grip on her.

    “I know... that fear. That once... people realize... who you are.... what you are... they'll reject you.” Kara gasped for breath. “I won't deny... I was lucky.”

    Master. Shiki.

    If it had been someone else, they might have rejected her. If not for her being lucky and escaping danger time and time again during the first few weeks, their time would have been cut short.

    But it hadn't. They had had these seven weeks together.

    “For me... this seven weeks... was everything.” Kara managed to gasp out. “This one chance... once gone... who knows... how long, if ever... again.”

    She lapsed into silence, gasping for breath. After a moment, she willed herself to move past the pain that wracked every inch of her body.

    “But for you... with all the... eternity... of the divine... are you saying... you couldn't find... any better way... than to toy with lives... in challenges like these?”

    Silence. A long moment, stretching into infinity.

    Then, “This is what you believe.”

    Kara nodded.

    A blur of motion.

    Yet another hand. Impaling her chest.

    Kara let out a choked gasp.

    Yet when the hand withdrew, the fiery pain went with it. The skeletal hand that loomed in front of her was clutching something. A glowing... orb?

    Abruptly the hands holding her in midair released her all at once and Kara fell black down to the inky darkness of the floor. Coughing and sputtering, Kara pulled herself to her feet, whirling to face-

    Herself. Staring at her with empty eyes.

    Kara faced Kara for a long moment, blinking in surprise and confusion.

    “Behold. You, who are Dying. What you see before you is death. Your death. All the deaths that you experienced, all the deaths that became you over eons in the digital sea.

    As for what I left for you... seven weeks. Seven weeks as a Servant. Less still as someone called Kara. Which do you think will prove the stronger?”


    Kara couldn't help it. She chuckled once, even as she summoned Old Iron. Ahead of her, her copy did the same, although her expression remained blank and empty.

    “Another test?” She said. Her voice was soft.

    Crimson covered her robes. Old Iron shifted and warped, taking the form of Aestus Estus. Once more. One last time.

    Her copy did likewise.

    “Perhaps. But this time... you know the stakes.” A pause. “Show me. Show me the strength of your convictions... and the bonds you have as a Servant.”

    No other way, huh?

    “... Fine.”

    A moment of silence. Absolute stillness.

    And then-

    Kara leaped into action, just as her copy did likewise. Two blades, the mirror of each other, swinging through the air.

    A single note, metal upon metal, ringing through the infinite dark.

    Silence, once more.

    And then Izanami's voice, calm and sedate once again.

    “Little shade... no.”

    Perhaps it even held a hint of a smile in it.

    Kara. … Well done.”

    *~*

    Chapter End

    *~*

    Author's Notes: So yeah. Izanami was always intended to be the end boss of the story. Because, well, anthropomorphic personification of Dying and goddess of death. This is also very much intended to be an Izanami that went through the events of Persona 4 and I incorporated some of her combat style from the game here, such as her black lightning and her Noble Phantasm/ultimate attack.

    Only now does it kind of occur to me that not all my readers would know Izanami's backstory, at least in brief. Oh well. If anyone needs a primer, I've attached a link to the wikipedia article, which covers her story without going into too much detail.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Izanami

    Hope you enjoyed this chapter. We're almost at the end, everyone!
    Last edited by pureauthor; March 22nd, 2018 at 01:20 PM.

  5. #1425
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Flere821's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    1,542
    Blog Entries
    13
    Hope you enjoyed this chapter. We're almost at the end, everyone!
    Been quite a ride, hasn't it? Thanks for writing all the way to the end, it's not often I see good fics get to this point
    Quote Originally Posted by Elf View Post
    Elf, dealing fanfic crack for Beast Lair since 2007.
    Quote Originally Posted by Radiantbeam View Post
    Elf: Crack Dealer. Story at eleven.
    'Fae is Foul' - My SAO/ZnT Crossover fanfic (SB Thread) (FFN Link)

  6. #1426
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors pureauthor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Age
    29
    Posts
    1,196
    Yeah....honestly seems a little weird to be at the very end after so many derails and delays.... but here we are!

    I just hope the conclusion will prove a satisfying one!

  7. #1427
    Drunk Anime Is The True Path. Mattias's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Where AM I?
    Posts
    7,554
    US Friend Code
    156,137,657
    Blog Entries
    1
    So, not to distract from the peak of Kara's character arc (a Karacter arc?), but Izanami can't attack Masters, Twice is right there, and Shiki is an insta-kill wallbounce ninja. He already did it against... Julian, I think, so it's not like he hasn't done it already to someone way more capable than a megalomaniac scientist.
    Atlus: Just Make an Eroge Already.


    Gundam-a-thon Status: 0079 Zeta ZZ Char's Counterattck War In the Pocket F91 Stardust Memories Victory G Gundam Wing Endless Waltz 8th MS After War X Turn A SEED IGLOO 00 Unicorn AGE Reconguista The Orgin Thunderbolt S2 IBO


  8. #1428
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors pureauthor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Age
    29
    Posts
    1,196
    Quote Originally Posted by Mattias View Post
    So, not to distract from the peak of Kara's character arc (a Karacter arc?), but Izanami can't attack Masters, Twice is right there, and Shiki is an insta-kill wallbounce ninja. He already did it against... Julian, I think, so it's not like he hasn't done it already to someone way more capable than a megalomaniac scientist.
    Well his insta-kill doesn't work right now, and hasn't since he entered the Moon Cell. And I was sort of planning to cover Twice and Shiki facing off against each other in the next chapter, but I added a few lines at the transition to make to come across more smoothly. So thanks for the comment, or I wouldn't have thought of it!

  9. #1429
    Drunk Anime Is The True Path. Mattias's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Where AM I?
    Posts
    7,554
    US Friend Code
    156,137,657
    Blog Entries
    1
    I kind of figured that would be the case, it's just a bit jarring in an incremental story like this, where if it was all one chapter (or two chapters back to back) it wouldn't even be an issue.
    Atlus: Just Make an Eroge Already.


    Gundam-a-thon Status: 0079 Zeta ZZ Char's Counterattck War In the Pocket F91 Stardust Memories Victory G Gundam Wing Endless Waltz 8th MS After War X Turn A SEED IGLOO 00 Unicorn AGE Reconguista The Orgin Thunderbolt S2 IBO


  10. #1430
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    According to most, my own little world
    Age
    38
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    7,487
    Blog Entries
    193
    Quote Originally Posted by pureauthor View Post
    Yeah....honestly seems a little weird to be at the very end after so many derails and delays.... but here we are!

    I just hope the conclusion will prove a satisfying one!
    I know that feeling all too well - but honestly, you've yet to disappoint. This chapter is just another example of that. So I truly doubt you'll falter at the last . . . Though I would understand if you never fully felt satisfied by your ending; it's an occupational hazard.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette

  11. #1431
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors pureauthor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Age
    29
    Posts
    1,196
    Quote Originally Posted by Mattias View Post
    I kind of figured that would be the case, it's just a bit jarring in an incremental story like this, where if it was all one chapter (or two chapters back to back) it wouldn't even be an issue.
    Yeah, that's one of the differences between an updated story and a completed book, I guess. (And my update times certainly don't do me any favours, hah.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran View Post
    I know that feeling all too well - but honestly, you've yet to disappoint. This chapter is just another example of that. So I truly doubt you'll falter at the last . . . Though I would understand if you never fully felt satisfied by your ending; it's an occupational hazard.
    Thanks! And yeah, after I do my work I always want to go back and revise parts of it... what to change and what to let stand is always a struggle.

    And since I don't mention it enough, thanks to all you guys who stuck with me for so long. I really appreciate it!

  12. #1432
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors pureauthor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Age
    29
    Posts
    1,196
    Final Chapter: Vict/Or/igin
    *~*

    Well, here we are.

    Disclaimer: I own nothing.

    *~*

    Last Battle

    “Shiki!”

    Arcueid's voice came from far away as he charged, footsteps leaving traces in the water as he raced towards his target.

    Twice stared at him, his face impassive. And just as Shiki was about to get Twice into range of his knife, a blue barrier rippled into existence before him, and Shiki felt the jolt travel up his arm as a his attack bounced harmlessly off.

    “I'll admit it's rare to see a Master who is as willing to enter the front lines as you are.” Twice's face was impassive as he held his hand out. A green light flared around his outstretched arm, and Shiki dodged to the side, a moment before a bolt of green light lanced out from his hand, smashing into the watery ground around him and throwing bright flashes through the arena of the digital sea.

    “Kh!” In a test of reflexes and agility, Shiki would be more than willing to pit himself against Twice. But fighting Leonard had shown him that the arsenals of spells a magi could bring to bear would create its own set of problem and unexpected circumstances.

    It's been nearly seven weeks I've lived without the use of my Mystic Eyes... He resisted the urge to crack a grim smile as he circled Twice, senses alert for any other spells the enemy Master might try to cast. At times like these, I can't help but miss it.

    He still had little to no idea of how Kara was faring in her battle against Avenger, but he couldn't afford to be distracted while pondering that. Shifting his grip on his knife, Shiki prepared to dodge again as he saw Twice preparing to cast once more.

    From below! He burst into action a moment before more streaks of green light blazed out through the air. He twisted, pivoting on one foot – and saw that Twice had already created another barrier in front of him, preventing him from advancing.

    Not getting anywhere like this... Of course, facing down opponents in a wide, relatively featureless area such as this was never going to be to his advantage. But still.

    “So tell me, young Master.” Twice's tone was conversational. Well, he could probably afford to be, given that he was simply standing in place, ready to shut down any of Shiki's attempts at an attack. “I must admit to being curious. Why was that little shade granted to you as a Servant?”

    “What, you mean Kara?” Shiki raised an eyebrow as he paused, to take a deep breath.

    Twice shrugged in response. “Not how she was able to survive and surpass the other Masters, of course. I've been able to keep a close eye on the proceedings of the War. You've had your fair share of fortuitous streaks, have you not? But I still don't understand why she was called to you.”

    Shiki took a deep breath, dodging another bolt of green light as he did so. “I don't know,” he admitted even as he moved to evaded another shot – they seemed to be coming without any apparent exertion of effort on Twice's part, and Shiki found himself wondering how long he could keep up the barrage of magic attacks.

    Probably longer than Shiki himself could keep dodging, probably. He knew his own capabilities well enough to know that he wasn't suited for long fights.

    “Indeed?” His opponent raised an eyebrow. “I suppose one might make a hypothesis that you are being that has a close relationship with the nature of death, young Master Tohno. After all... it is true that I myself was a cyber-ghost when I first called her.”

    Shiki chose not to respond, instead shifting his gaze over the area, glancing at the stone coffins strewn all about, and a new plan of attack formed in his mind. If he could just come at Twice from an unexpected angle, catch him by surprise...

    He pivoted on one foot, waiting for the next sign of an attack coming from Twice...

    There!

    Three more green darts, coming at him at speeds almost too fast for him to follow.

    But as the light of the spell sparked across the digital ocean, Shiki leaped, through the air, targetting one of the stone coffins that stood at a more upright angle. Kicking off it, he propelled imself through the air in an arc that easily cleared his opponent.

    Twisting even as he landed, he could see that he had moved fast enough to catch Twice by surprise – he was still looking at the spot Shiki had been in a moment ago.

    His knife lashed out-

    Code 17; web]

    Tendrils of energy lashed out all across the space between Twice's back and Shiki's knife. Resisting the urge to curse, Shiki tried to jump away-

    Only to stumble, and he looked down to see one of the thin lines had seized upon his leg without his noticing.

    “I told you a Master attacking me was 'rare', not unheard of.” Twice turned and now he stared at Shiki with a cold gaze. “I have had plenty of time to prepare for any such eventualities.”

    “Kh!” Angrily, Shiki tried to jerk away, but the magic spell held him fast. Well, Twice wasn't about to use a spell that an ordinary person could break free with, after all.

    “Shiki!” He could hear Illya's cry of alarm, but at the same time Twice was already raising his hand, and he could see the sparks of green flaring on the man's fingertips-

    There was no doubt that whatever spell twice would strike him with would prove instantly fatal.

    He had but a second to save himself.

    Maybe less.

    He clenched his fist, and felt the Command Seal on his arm surge with power.

    “Kara! To me!”

    A Distant Union

    A spark of light.

    And then a small, dark shape appeared right in front of him, and Kara was there, already moving her arms in front of her as the spell took place to absorb the blow.

    “Gah!”

    “What?” He could hear Twice's incredulous demand even as Kara stumbled back, wincing in pain. But she turned to face Shiki, and she could see the relief mixed with worry on her face.

    “Master! Are you all right?”

    “I'm fine.” He shook his head. “But Avenger...”

    “How?” Twice demanded, and Shiki could feel the restraints around his foot fade away as Twice's attention was captured by the returned Servant. “There's no way someone like you could have withstood Avenger's onslaught! And her power should be enough to restrain you, even through a Command Seal! So, how?”

    “...” At this, Shiki could see an unreadable expression cross Kara's face. “She and I... we... came to an understanding.”

    “An understanding? What could someone as insignificant as you-”

    “Master. Now.” Kara took a step back, so that her back was almost pressing up against him. “Go.”

    “What?”

    “The Moon Cell! You're the victor, so go! Make your wish! Don't worry! I'll cover you!”

    And Shiki paused for a moment, wondering if it was truly all right. But something about the way Kara was moving...

    “Kara, are you...?” One hand reached up to brush against against the ragged edges of her cloak.

    He knew by now that she needed to take on the form of someone else before she could fight properly. Yet, if she was standing here, now, but still in her default mode that she disliked showing anyone else...

    The thin blade that she could have summoned with a thought would be of no use here.

    “Master,” Her eyes were clear, and there was an expression of resolute steel on her face, “I'll be fine. I promise. Please, go.”

    “... All right.” A nod, and he reached over to grasp Kara's hand for a brief instant before he turned to observe the giant hovering cube of the Moon Cell. And then he was running for it, legs pumping as he strove to make it there before... well, before anything happened.

    “Don't you dare!” And from behind him, he could hear Twice's enraged shout.

    *~*

    Even as Twice had raised his hands to create another codecast that would forestall her Master, Kara had anticipated this and rushed forward.

    It felt odd, now. After so many weeks, growing so much stronger... To be near her base, again.

    Barely stronger than an average human.

    “Twice!” That was odd, too. Referring to the man in front of her by name, and not as her Master.

    But that contract had been broken, long ago.

    As she neared him, she took on the guise of the Emperor once more, and he crimson blade flashed up-

    And Twice stepped back, easily avoiding her strike, and his expression shifted.

    And Kara felt a shudder go through her body and her disguise faded away.

    So that's how it is. I don't even... have enough left to maintain my illusions.

    “What is this? You're weaker now?”

    And Kara had to suppress a grim chuckle. It was true she was at a mere fraction of her strength.

    “I suppose most of it remains with Avenger.” The command spell that had called her here... well, she had been able to fulfill its demand, after all. But at a price.

    But now Twice's face had turned into an irritated glare. “I have no time for your nonsense! As you are, even I could strike you down!”

    And then, he had fired a volley of spells at her, one that she tried, and failed, to dodge.

    “Gh!” His strength had been enhanced by his own spells, of course, and as Kara stepped back he lunged at her, one arm reaching out to push her aside.

    Likely he had calculated. With her unable to even maintain her mimicry, Old Iron would be useless in combat. She wouldn't be able to hurt him that way.

    But there was also an element of haste in his decision. Her Master had almost reached the Moon Cell's core. If he entered, he would be granted his wish.

    And so Twice was focused on stopping him before it came to that.

    Too focused.

    As he charged her she reached up, and her arm swung up in a wide arc.

    She felt the shudder run through both of their bodies at the point of impact.

    “...What?”

    His voice was slow, unbelieving, as he lowered his gaze, to see the silver blade of a knife embedded in the middle of his chest.

    The last of her strength exhausted, Kara fell to her knees, fighting for breath.

    *~*

    Shiki was vaguely aware that there was still fighting going on behind him, but as he sprinted forward, he found his gaze on the shining core of the Moon Cell.

    So close. He was so clos-

    A set of stairs shimmered into existence as he approached.

    He sprinted up as quickly as he could, trying to fight the the sensation of lightheadedness. And then-

    He was in.

    The world around him was a blaze of brilliant blue. All at once he found himself floating, in what appeared to be a featureless void.

    And he knew, without putting it into words, that he had been acknowledged as a Master.

    All right, then...

    And now, at once, he was again confronted with the reality of making a wish for a world he knew almost nothing about.

    Whatever Rin, and Rani, and even Leonard had told him about this world, he was still an outsider here, who had never seen it for themselves.

    And so of course, he would want the best for the world, if possible.

    And yet... what wish could he make that would be able to fix a place he did not even know?

    “I don't suppose you've thought any more about this than I have, Illya?”

    He was answered with silence. Most likely the Moon Cell didn't allow anyone other than the victor to claim his wish.

    Figures.

    He thought of Kara, for all he knew still locked in combat outside the core that he was now floating in.

    A single deep breath.

    My wish...

    And he opened his mouth to speak.

    *~*

    For a moment, silence, but for the ragged breathing around the arena.

    Finally, Twice raised his head, to catch Kara's gaze. “You... that knife...”

    Kara shook her own head, fighting to force air into her lungs. “Master... passed it to me. When he realized I could no longer fight on my own strength.”

    She closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. “Did it never occur to you, Twice? That my Master would entrust me with his own weapon?”

    The man made no reply for a long, moment. And then, a sound that might have been a laugh.

    “It was so longer ago... yet. I remember. You cared only for how I could be of use to you. I suppose your relationship with Avenger was the same.” Kara closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “I will not begrudge you your way of thinking, Twice. But... that is not a Master I would choose to serve.”

    “... Listen to you.” Twice's voice was calm. “I can still remember you... like a kicked puppy. So eager to serve. So eager to do anything I asked.”

    “And... I'm not that person. Not anymore.” With a surge of effort, she pulled herself to her feet. She wobbled, unsteady-

    And she could feel Lady Arcueid's hands on her shoulders, helping to stabilize her. She managed a grateful smile.

    “And so it ends.” Another voice, as Avenger flashed into visibility.

    “Avenger.” Twice did not raise his head to look at her.

    “Twice H. Pieceman.” Avenger closed her eyes and nodded once. “It appears our contract is at an end. It is a pity you were unable to achieve your own goal... but I have been given the opportunity to learn much. About you... and about the people you faced over the years.”

    There was no response. And Kara could now see the black miasma of deletion slowly creeping up over Twice's body.

    “Now come. If there is no one else to do it, then I shall escort you beyond the final crossing.”

    “You? Escort me?”

    “Should I not?” A humourless smirk graced Avenger's lips. “Am I not Izanami, goddess of the dead?”

    A humourless snort from Twice in return. “How very noble of you.”

    And then, he was no longer there at all.

    And Avenger – Izanami – was beginning to fade as well.

    “Wait!” She could hear Lady Arcueid's demand, like a whip crack in the silence. “I haven't gotten a chance to have it out with you yet!”

    “Hm. As excitable as ever, True Ancestor. I have no more time here. And yet...” A smirk graced her lips. “If you truly wish it, it is possible we might meet again soon. Yes, very soon, indeed.”

    “What do you-”

    And before the question leave her lips, Avenger had faded away completely.

    And from behind them, the core of the Moon Cell – the Holy Grail – emitted a brilliant burst of light.

    Kara turned to face it, shielding her eyes from the glare as she did so.

    Finally as the light died away, she could see Shiki again, slowly walking down the steps.

    *~*

    Digital Tsukumihara Academy, First Floor Foyer

    Shiki sighed as he emerged back into the school. With a shake of his head, he started to walk up towards his room.

    There, the pathway back to his world would be waiting.

    And then, to his right, a voice.

    “Hey.”

    He looked over to see-

    “Rin.”

    Leaning against the wall, arms folded, glaring up at him.

    Yup, definitely Rin.

    “What game are you playing at here?” She said as she stood and walked over to him.

    “A 'thanks for bringing me back from the dead' would be nice. But you know, don't feel obligated or anything.”

    “Don't act dumb!” If anything, her glare only hardened. “You fight your way through the entire war, win your way through – and your wish is just to revive all the Masters who got killed in the process?”

    “Well, not just the Masters,” Shiki shrugged, “I mean, I asked it to bring back all those people who didn't qualify during the first couple of days too-”

    “Semantics,” Rin dismissed it with a wave of a hand. “Point is, why did you go through this whole war if the only thing you're doing is to hit the reset button at the end?”

    At this Shiki paused an raised an eyebrow. “The reset button? You think that's all that is.”

    “Well, what else would you call it?”

    “Even if you lost in the end, you still went through those weeks of the war.” Shiki shrugged. “Everyone did. You, Leonard, Rani... even those who survived only a week. You think no one changed through any of that?”

    Rin didn't reply, but she kept her gaze narrowed.

    “Well, I know for a fact Leonard did change,” Shiki took a deep breath. “And I'm pretty sure you did, too. How much, I can't say. But if you have a chance to use what you did learn here, and have it affect yourselves and the world... I'd say it was something worth a shot.”

    Finally, Rin closed her eyes and shook her head once. “Fine. To the end, I still never quite get you, Shiki Tohno. But fine. It is what it is.”

    She turned and walked off, in the direction of the exit of the Moon Cell that had formed in the courtyard of the school. And then she paused, giving him one last look over her shoulder.

    “... Thanks.”

    Shiki merely smiled as he began to walk up the stairs.

    *~*

    A second shot at life, huh?

    Shiki stood under the brightness of the sun, staring at the doorway that l loomed ahead. Most of the other participants had left already. And now here he was.

    “Can't say I saw this coming. But... at the same time, I'm not really surprised either.”

    With a shrug, he stepped towards the gateway.

    He really is another me, after all.

    I guess I'll look for Arcueid again. I wonder if she's still wandering the world, or if she's holed herself up back in Millenium Castle now?


    And with that, he vanished through the doorway.

    The world was waiting for him.

    *~*

    Digital Tsukimihara Academy, Room 3-A

    They stood in front of the glowing tear in reality, the three of them.

    And Kara took a deep breath.

    “Well,” she finally said, “this is it.”

    It's finally... time to say goodbye.

    All of a sudden, she felt small and insignificant, with nothing to say.

    After seven weeks, after so long...

    She still didn't know how to put what she felt into words.

    “Yeah, it is...” Shiki took a deep breath and turned to face her as Kara steeled herself.

    At the very least, let her be the one to say it. Let her acknowledge it as reality.

    “Master... Shiki. Goodb-”

    “This is it.” Shiki repeated, his voice calm and unruffled as he spoke over her. “The start of your new life. As your own person, away from the Moon Cell.”

    And Kara blinked.

    “I... what?” She finally managed after a long moment.

    “You remember the wish I made to the Moon Cell, right?”

    She frowned. “Well, yes. You told me about it. 'All who fell over the course of the Grail War would be revived and everyone is to be allowed to leave the Moon Cell.' But-”

    “Yes, and everyone was brought back.” Shiki nodded. “And... everyone can leave if they want. Kara... you're part of 'everyone', you know that?”

    “Sorry if we didn't make it clear to you just then!” Illya's voice sounded through the room, sounding as if she were trying not to laugh. “But we wanted it to be a surprise!”

    “You might have some trouble acclimating to a world that has so much dying all the time,” Arcueid said next, “but Avalon's about as deathless an environment as you could ask for! So you'll be fine in there for the time being!”

    “Yeah, so...” And then her Master extended her hand to her, a gentle smile on her face. “Kara... let's live on. Not in silence. Not waiting for nothing. As people, able to enjoy ourselves and to live life for life itself. What do you say?”

    For a long moment, Kara didn't move. Her mouth opened, and then shut again.

    All of a sudden, she could feel tears, running down her cheeks.

    “MASTER!” And then she had launched herself at Shiki, clinging on to him as tightly as she could manage, and she was laughing and crying and trying to say 'thank you, thank you' all at once and all that came out was a garbled mess.

    But he seemed to understand, holding her close and laughing as well for a long moment before finally pulling away after a long moment.

    “Well, come on, then.”

    “Yes!” Kara nodded. “Let's!”

    As one, they stepped through the doorway of light.

    Towards the future.

    *~*

    Story End

    *~*

    And that's that! Wow this story took forever.

    Will do another update/writeup a bit later about the story post-mortem and other odds and ends. Unfortunately I can't really do that right now.

    Otherwise, thank you so much to everyone for sticking with me! I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing this!
    Last edited by pureauthor; May 21st, 2018 at 02:46 AM.

  13. #1433
    Kamen Rider fan-writer Xamusel's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    At a computer
    Age
    26
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    5,870
    Blog Entries
    29
    Dude... remind me. Wasn't there supposed to be a sequel where you took Shiki and Sakura to Final Fantasy IX of all places?
    Xamusel's Fanfiction Profile

    For those that don't necessarily care if my fics aren't all Type-Moon related.




    Hmm... this is a bit of a surprise these days.

    An archive of my works on the forum that's pretty accurate.




    Note that I don't wish to be seen as an idiot any longer. I can't always promise better works than before, but I can sure as hell try, alright?

  14. #1434
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    According to most, my own little world
    Age
    38
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    7,487
    Blog Entries
    193
    Seems a tad shorter than your other chapters, though that might just be me . . . (And it's not like I have room to talk. ) I assume your "debriefing" will clear up the feeling, though.

    . . . In any case, so far as confrontations go, the last two chapters have been quite satisfactory - and very much in line with the TYPE-MOON style. Nicely done.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette

  15. #1435
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors pureauthor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Age
    29
    Posts
    1,196
    Quote Originally Posted by Xamusel View Post
    Dude... remind me. Wasn't there supposed to be a sequel where you took Shiki and Sakura to Final Fantasy IX of all places?
    Yeah, that was way back when I was throwing out general ideas. What's to come in the future, though... nothing's really set in stone yet. I have plans, but plans don't survive contact with writing or something like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran View Post
    Seems a tad shorter than your other chapters, though that might just be me . . . (And it's not like I have room to talk. ) I assume your "debriefing" will clear up the feeling, though.

    . . . In any case, so far as confrontations go, the last two chapters have been quite satisfactory - and very much in line with the TYPE-MOON style. Nicely done.
    Well in terms of word count I think it's like 3.5K words, which seems average for me on this story.

    Thanks for your words of encouragement, and I'm also glad you liked the scenes over the last couple of chapters. We'll see more when I have the time to go into the debriefing but... well, life gets in the way more than we'd like.

  16. #1436
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    According to most, my own little world
    Age
    38
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    7,487
    Blog Entries
    193
    Quote Originally Posted by pureauthor View Post
    Yeah, that was way back when I was throwing out general ideas. What's to come in the future, though... nothing's really set in stone yet. I have plans, but plans don't survive contact with writing or something like that.
    *Chuckles* As they say, ain't it the truth.



    Well in terms of word count I think it's like 3.5K words, which seems average for me on this story.
    Like I said, it's probably just me - and I think that's more than I usually manage (I average about 3K).


    Thanks for your words of encouragement, and I'm also glad you liked the scenes over the last couple of chapters.
    You are, of course, quite welcome; you've more than earned them.


    We'll see more when I have the time to go into the debriefing but... well, life gets in the way more than we'd like.
    See initial answer of this post.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette

  17. #1437
    Drunk Anime Is The True Path. Mattias's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Where AM I?
    Posts
    7,554
    US Friend Code
    156,137,657
    Blog Entries
    1
    Glad to see it finally complete. It was a fun ride.
    Atlus: Just Make an Eroge Already.


    Gundam-a-thon Status: 0079 Zeta ZZ Char's Counterattck War In the Pocket F91 Stardust Memories Victory G Gundam Wing Endless Waltz 8th MS After War X Turn A SEED IGLOO 00 Unicorn AGE Reconguista The Orgin Thunderbolt S2 IBO


  18. #1438
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Flere821's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    1,542
    Blog Entries
    13
    Thanks for writing this story
    Quote Originally Posted by Elf View Post
    Elf, dealing fanfic crack for Beast Lair since 2007.
    Quote Originally Posted by Radiantbeam View Post
    Elf: Crack Dealer. Story at eleven.
    'Fae is Foul' - My SAO/ZnT Crossover fanfic (SB Thread) (FFN Link)

  19. #1439
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors pureauthor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Age
    29
    Posts
    1,196
    Quote Originally Posted by Mattias View Post
    Glad to see it finally complete. It was a fun ride.
    Quote Originally Posted by Flere821 View Post
    Thanks for writing this story
    Thanks, you guys! Hope you enjoyed it!.

    *~*

    After Action Report:

    So, first off this will mostly be me rambling about my thoughts about this story in general over the course of righting it. There aren't really going to be any big insights here, so feel free to ignore it unless you want to read about me kvetching about random stuff that showed up on and off over the many years.

    First of, I think I'd like to talk about the length of time I spent writing this. This story was started in Novermber 2011, and while I definitely had a long and involved story in mind, it was certainly never supposed to become the sprawling, 76 chapter behemoth that it ultimately turned out to be. Of course, there was also the fact that I took multiple incredibly long sabbaticals (more on that later) which broke all sense of continuity and, let's be frank, ended up with the story losing a lot of steam over time (as well as the fanfiction section in general slowing down. Oh well.)

    6 years is a long-ass time to carry a single concept, and I seem to have chronic issues with keeping my writing pace at a steady level (as fans of my other multichapter story fics on other sites probably know...). In fact, looking back I'm actually a bit surprised at how much stuff remained from what I wanted to be in the story when I first started out, as well as what ultimately ended up getting cut.

    So, looking back, what do I think worked for this story? If I had to pick the single strongest element from the story out of all my creative choices, I'd say it was my OC, Kara.

    Well, that sounds like tooting my own horn a bit but given that her characterization and journey was supposed to be the main backbone of the story's development, I really did spend a lot more time on trying to flesh out her hangups, her personality flaws and her development, so perhaps it's more accurate to say that the story was crafted to make her come across well. Of course, YMMV on what you think of her, but overall I think I'm happy with how she came across.

    A very large inspiration for Kara's character comes from Xion from Kingdom Hearts, mostly the idea of a character whose own existence feels transient and 'not really there'. In fact as mentioned before, the initial story draft ideas had Xion summoned instead of an OC, but that was quickly discarded because some ideas are easier as intangible 'what ifs' instead of being written down. I was also interested in writing the idea of a being associated with 'death', but instead of being portrayed as some mysterious, otherworldly grim reaper or even someone with a terrifying powerset, it's instead a shrinking violet whose association with 'dying' by and large sucks for her. As an extension of that I had a lot of fun creating her powerset and unique skills, both as a personification of 'Dying' and for how they would gradually fit into the story. It also helped her come across as a perennial underdog in most of her fights, especially after the first two weeks, which is something I also wanted to be an important focus.

    At the same time I do have to wonder if I spent a bit too much time spinning her wheels on her hangups and self doubt, particularly in the first half, since everything was intended to build up to the climatic week 4. I didn't want her self doubt to come across as annoying or overly angsty so I also did my best to have her issues be justified by events in the story.

    Well, the other half of it is that Kara's own story wasn't intended to be completed right here. Her leaving the Moon Cell, being able to join Grail Works, and being able to go on adventures... well, that's a big part of the original plan (and before the story exploded in length...) So there's that.

    Also I think I handled the various Master and Servant relationships well... mostly. I liked thinking up new challenges and issues to throw against Shiki and Kara as the weeks progressed, so that part was fun too.

    So, what about the problems I had with the story? … Strap yourselves in, this is gonna be long.

    Obviously I won't be able to talk about the problems involved in the story without mentioning the incredibly long breaks I took. A year break, and then another one of almost two years... The sad part is that this isn't the first time that happened with one of my stories before, although hopefully it won't ever be quite so bad as that again.

    Why did that happen, though? Well ultimately a large part of it came down to the story structure. Writing the first four weeks was easy. After all, I was able to build each week on the next in terms of Shiki and Kara growing closer, their search for Arcueid, and the ultimate reveal of Kara's nature of existence.

    The truth of the matter is that since, as I said earlier, the narrative was crafted to follow Kara's development, I'm not proud to admit I hit a snag after those 4 weeks, about how to proceed with the Moon Cell war. Shiki cutting and running at that point would have seemed anticlimatic, but at the same time once Kara's issues stopped going to the forefront, I had to struggle with the weeks themselves not coming across as too formulaic or stale. (A criticism I would extend to the original Fate/Extra itself but that's no excuse for my own weaknesses.) So more than once I hit a roadblock in my writing, which led to taking a break... which grew longer and longer.

    On the flipside, once I've stuck with a story past a certain length of time, I usually also compel myself to go back and see it through sooner or later (or even later...). So that's what I did. I came back and tried to work those weeks out, with a greater focus on exploring Kara's capabilities as a being linked with Dying.

    Would I say and succeeded? Well, yes and no. I think I was able to communicate Kara's abilities well, but I didn't connect it into an overarching narrative well enough, probably because the narrative focus had changed from Kara's thoughts and designs to focusing on the Grail War. So that's part of the issue. The second half of the story has individual scenes that I think I handled well, but it doesn't have the strongest narrative arc.

    The other issue I faced stemmed largely from my adherence to the plotline of Fate/Extra. Twice has his place in the narrative of Fate/Extra as a dark mirror to the protagonist, but I never found him that compelling. So it was more difficult for me to write him as the climatic final boss, especially with his relative lack of screentime. I tried to mitigate that issue by using Izanami as someone who would appear more and be personally involved in harrying the protagonists, but in the end they still needed to go up against Twice. A lot of this was because when I started the story I did so with the idea of following the general plot of Fate/Extra, only with Shiki and Kara. So I found myself beholden by my own decisions to include plotlines I myself wasn't too happy with in the first place.

    With the benefit of hindsight, I would most probably have made something to severely derail the Grail War after the 5th week instead of following the standard template, and probably ended up compressing the arc as well. But it is what it is.

    The other thing I ended up being a little iffy about is the foreshadowing and plot threads I littered about for potential future stories. There's fun in doing that but at the same time there's no guarantee that they will fit neatly into future arcs (or that I even write said future arcs...) and if that happens, that will end up hurting the story as a contained entity. But we'll see what I can do.

    And... unfortunately, one thing (person?) I didn't handle as well as I could have was Arcueid. I ended up cutting a bunch of stuff for the sake of expediency, and as a secondary character she lost a lot of stuff she was supposed to do from the original draft. I also won't deny that near the start of the story I wanted to write Shiki/Arcueid as being a lot more overt but later on I decided to dial it way back for the sake of a 'shared' setting like Grail Works and I don't want to step on toes. As a result it sometimes came across that she didn't have a lot to do. If I had a chance to try again, I'd have her more involved with the main plot, or end up reducing her pagetime even more, I'm not sure which.

    So, if I were to sum it all up, if I had to chance to do it again, I'd write the second half pretty differently.

    Hey wait, maybe I could write the CCC version of this story!

    Haha. Nah, probably not.

    But that's how it is. I'll probably take a break (or just write a couple of relatively fluffy Kara oneshots) before I try my hand at another 'major' work.

    Once again, thanks so much to everyone who kept up with this! Thanks for your comments and your advice and suggestions! I'm really glad I was able to share this journey with you.

    *~*
    Last edited by pureauthor; May 20th, 2018 at 11:59 AM.

  20. #1440
    Kamen Rider fan-writer Xamusel's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    At a computer
    Age
    26
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    5,870
    Blog Entries
    29
    pureauthor, I would like to see you work on something to help you cool down from this particular project, just like you want to cool down as well. I hope you have the energy to possibly continue your series of stories in the setting.
    Xamusel's Fanfiction Profile

    For those that don't necessarily care if my fics aren't all Type-Moon related.




    Hmm... this is a bit of a surprise these days.

    An archive of my works on the forum that's pretty accurate.




    Note that I don't wish to be seen as an idiot any longer. I can't always promise better works than before, but I can sure as hell try, alright?

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •