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Thread: Matou Shinji and the Broken Chains (HP/FSN CYOA)

  1. #2901
    Alright [x] Kaiduka it is, then.

    Quote Originally Posted by alfheimwanderer View Post
    Too bad for young Miss Delacour, huh?
    Not everybody can win.
    Last edited by Daiki; July 26th, 2017 at 01:49 PM.

  2. #2902
    Ok Malgos you have convinced me that we need to do this.

    Change my vote for both sessions to
    [X] Write in: Explain his motivation as a champion in honor of his past friend Sokaris.

    Some do it for the honor, some do it for the fame. Others are in for their country, but for Shinji he is here for one person and one person only. Just not in the way they all will think. French media will eat this up about their knight. Course I am assuming that Shinji will be willing to talk about this subject as it hits a little close to home for him, but really this story should get people on his side, in the Jamaica bobsled team sort of way.
    Last edited by Skull Leader; July 26th, 2017 at 03:03 PM.

  3. #2903
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six Malgos's Avatar
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    I prefer to to only use the general session for talking about Sokaris as I don't think there's all that much to say that it warrants two sessions as most of it is classified. Anyways I guess I'll change my vote for the group session to talking about Sokaris.

  4. #2904
    Quote Originally Posted by Malgos View Post
    I prefer to to only use the general session for talking about Sokaris as I don't think there's all that much to say that it warrants two sessions as most of it is classified. Anyways I guess I'll change my vote for the group session to talking about Sokaris.
    Fair enough. Makes perfect sense, as much of the real details are locked away or classified. How about for the Individual sessions we stay in the theme from the general write in and modify it to something Shinji would have more to talk about. I have a hard time believing that we will be able to talk about something at the general without people probing him during their individual session with him.

    [X] Individual: Talk about how during the short time of knowing Sokaris inspired him to be a better magic user

    This pivots the talk that bound to happen if we go general with sokaris so that Shinji avoids the problem of not being able to talk about things. I am not sure about the last word in the write up as shinji would not say publicly Alchemist at this point (not after comparing himself to real Alchemist), or wizard (as he magus in a lot of ways).
    Last edited by Skull Leader; July 26th, 2017 at 05:02 PM.

  5. #2905
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six Malgos's Avatar
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    Personally I prefer mentioning Sokaris in the group session, because most people who care about the championship will be paying attention to that even if they don't care about him, because they may care about another person. This way it reaches the most people and grabs more attention than simply thanking his mentors here or something else. I feel that someone wants this to be said and heard then that would be the time. Also it's not like he's got that much that he's allowed to talk about here so I don't think it needs the focus the individual session offers.

    Meanwhile the individual session will probably just reach the people that have some sort of interest in him anyways so thanking his mentors feels more appropriate there. Sure, they wouldn't get as much attention, but in the end the primary reason he's doing this is because Sion requested this of him.

  6. #2906
    [x] Tomas

    As we've already missed a meeting with the lad, this might be a good time for us to make up for lost time (or bite the bullet as it's better we get is ire for us out of the way as soon as possible), and perhaps even apologize for missing our previous meeting.

    I'll admit to still not being sure about any of the choices for Choice 188, so I'm holding off on that for now while observing further discussion (if any occurs).

    [x] Kaiduka

    While it's true that the party is a good time to socialize, now might be the best time for us to consolidate our contacts while gathering as much information or advice as we can in preparation for the event proper. Kaiduka as one of our mentors ─ limited though the degree may be ─ might be a good person to approach.

    In all honesty, I feel like Ayaka might be a better option, but I would like to confirm with Alf that she is actually in attendance at all seeing as she isn't one of the options Shinji had considered.

  7. #2907
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mr_Trickster View Post
    In all honesty, I feel like Ayaka might be a better option, but I would like to confirm with Alf that she is actually in attendance at all seeing as she isn't one of the options Shinji had considered.
    She is present, and is currently playing beach volleyball with the Tsuchimikado heiress.
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  8. #2908
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Choice 187:[x] Check in with Tomas

    Choice 188: Public -[x] Motivations (Sokaris); Individual - [X] Give credit to his mentors

    Choice 189: [x] Kaiduka

    Just so you know, btw, Slughorn doesn't show up to the press conference. He is apparently feeling quite unwell after dinner, and couldn't get out of bed.




    Chapter 60. Potions and Petitions

    Under most circumstances, working on Potions in the Room of Requirement – much like working on ofuda – was rather calming for Matou Shinji, a way of bleeding off excess frustration through sublimation, watching as his efforts created something that was greater than the sum of its parts. Granted, he was usually alone during these exercises, which wasn’t the case today, but rather than being a distraction – as could all too easily be the case at times – the presence and closeness of Luna Lovegood was helping him to focus, with his lover using her yang prana to soothe away his tenseness and aches, calm his frazzled nerves and otherwise remove the distractions of fatigue, annoyance or fear.

    Basic potions tended to be hard to completely foul up, but with some of the advanced ones – especially ones in which he was experimenting with a given recipe to try and increase the potency of the result or decrease the brewing time needed, a tremor at the wrong time, a slip of the finger, a misplaced ingredient could all be quite fatal.

    Many students did not realize this, or understand the need to watch their cauldrons, instead of talking with a partner or playing around – and so would never become more than passable brewers in the eyes of a true potioneer. For someone who had dedicated his life to the study of potions, that distractions could be deadly should be a fact they were intimately familiar with.

    …which was why Matou Shinji half suspected that Zygmunt Budge, the spirit bound within the Book of Potions, wanted him dead.

    “…serviceable, perhaps, but hardly exceptional,” a voice called out, as the smoky silhouette of the long-dead potioneer sneered at the cauldron of Draught of Peace that the boy was brewing for himself. “But I suppose that is what I expect from a Champion of Hogwarts, especially one who would rather take lessons from that lump of lard who calls himself a potions master than study at the feet of the greatest potion-maker ever born!”

    “Is there something wrong with Hogwarts?” Luna asked, her silvery eyes turning to look upon the disgruntled shade as she sought to draw his attention away from Shinji – who was trying not to have a concoction blow up in his face.

    Again.

    “Only the over-inflated egos of its Headmasters and Potions Masters, who through the ages have sought to stifle the brilliance of young potioneers!” the silhouette groused. “With the exception of Severus Snape, who I find passable” – which was, by his exacting standards, very high praise indeed – “the rest are mere….mere…amateurs. Calling themselves masters because they can follow a recipe, the nerve of them! And their students, slavishly following in their footsteps, even worse. Why, at the tender age of fourteen, I was able to correct the halfwit they hired on the proper use of Mackled Malaclaw tails, among other ingredients…”

    And yet he had been denied a spot in the Wizarding Schools Potions Championship, because his headmaster couldn’t countenance someone so young participating, while this…this…child whose brewing was barely acceptable even by Hogwarts standards had simply been handed the position.

    “He’s trying his best…” Luna said, trying to pacify the shade, but the spirit of Zygmunt Budge would have none of it.

    “Trying his best?” the voice of the ghostly potioneer echoed incredulously, the green mist issuing from the Book of Potions growing in volume. “Trying his best, you say?” Budge all but spat. “Perhaps he was – in the summer – but the last time he opened this book in all of the last month was to store a tray of leftovers. Leftovers, the nerve of it!”

    Matou Shinji, who had just finished putting the finishing touches on the Draught of Peace he had been brewing for himself, felt compelled to reply.

    “With all due respect, I had more important things to do,” the boy said quietly, but firmly, frowning as he looked at the silhouette of the long-dead master potioneer. “Duties that I could not put aside.”

    Duties such as protecting Fleur from whatever malcontents might try to target her, or dealing with the tanuki, who had been raising havoc at Durmstrang. And as much as he trusted Rachelle Lestrange, he hadn’t been at all sure he wanted to leave the Book of Potions within her reach, given the great temptation the living tome would have posed to any Potions Champion aware of its abilities.

    Had to do?” the spirit scoffed. “Hardly. You chose to do them, ignoring the responsibilities and duties that you had been entrusted with as a Potions Champion! Wasting your time on things that were not your concern, instead of honing your craft and try to live up to the role you were handed.”

    Shinji put down his tools slowly, his every motion an exercise in control, as he struggled not to snap at the shade, or to throw something at him, neither of which would go over well, he suspected.

    “As a Champion, it is my responsibility to represent Britain,” Shinji commented softly. “And to stand up to what I see as injustice, even if – no, especially when – it is committed by others from Britain. The Tri-Wizard Tournament was established to aid with international cooperation. If those tossers from Hufflepuff had succeeded at assassinating two of the other Champions—”

    “It would have been none of your concern,” Budge cut in, his silhouette looming ever larger in the mist. “Your responsibility, as you put it, is to represent Britain in the Wizarding School Potions Championship and not be a complete embarrassment, not to make a spectacle of yourself as if you wanted to become head of the Wizards’ Council! I doubt any of your fellow Champions feel compelled to do as you have done.”

    …an accusation that struck quite close to home, as Zygmunt Budge wasn’t actually wrong.

    “Sokaris would have…” Shinji began heatedly.

    “Sialim Sokaris was an exceptionally talented potioneer, even at her age,” the voice of Zygmunt Budge interrupted. “She would have easily become Champion, and might even have surpassed me as the greatest potioneer in the world! With her skill, of course she has the privilege of choosing what else she will work on or care about. You, on your best day, and her very worst, could never even begin to match up to her, or hope to be worthy of her memory!”

    Matou Shinji lurched, physically staggering as the shade’s hateful words tore through him, only managing to keep from falling over entirely because of Luna supporting him.

    “Struck a nerve, did I?” Budge pressed, his voice almost vicious now. “Feeling a bit upset? Good.

    ‘…good?’

    “Do you know what it like to spend over four hundred years, trapped in this book, ignored by the ungrateful wretches at Hogwarts in favor of books by absolute nobodies? Left in the Restricted Section, forgotten, squeezed in between other tomes to tightly I could not even open myself until an unusual first year with an appreciation for the most mysterious and misunderstood branch of magic plucked me from the shelf?” the ghostly potioneer thundered.

    “I…” But Matou Shinji trailed off, not knowing what there was to say in the face of Budge’s tirade - in the face of the sheer rage the spirit possessed.

    “In life, that idiot of a Potions Master and his even more idiotic Headmaster cheated me of what was rightfully mine. In death, I gave them everything – the secrets of my art, distilled for new generations – an enchanted tome, to lift students to new heights – and still they cheated me, refusing to read what I had sent, or credit me for what I invented. Letting all that I discovered go to waste because they could not stand that I had gone further than any of them in the pursuit of knowledge.”

    The master potioneer fell silent after that, with Matou Shinji’s head left spinning by this revelation. The spirit had never mentioned this before, or…

    “I thought that after I had been discovered by such a promising potioneer, that things would be different,” Budge said, his voice far more subdued, almost…despairing. “That maybe in this generation, someone would appreciate me. That maybe after four hundred years, a potioneer might finally use the secrets within this tome to secure themselves victory at the Championship. But…”

    “But?” Luna asked quietly, her fingers rubbing Shinji's shoulders as she tried to soothe him.

    “But the best candidate I knew died, leaving me in the hands of a distraught little girl who was utterly mad about the boy in this room. She had some skill, but was obsessed with following the instructions others had written down – and allowed herself to become too easily distracted. I told her to brew a love potion and be done with it, as opposed to wasting her time pining over what otherwise would never be hers, but she didn’t listen.”

    Shinji stiffened, not having known that part of the story. Hermione…had been offered the chance to brew a love potion and refused?

    “I was co-opted by Severus Snape after that, and we came to an understanding – that I would be given to the Potions Champion of Hogwarts, pairing my genius with…the fact that whoever was chosen as Champion would have a body and something that resembled a functioning brain. And when the dust settled and the Champion was chosen, I was tasked with working with you.”

    The boy from the east swallowed.

    “At first, I thought you were another prodigy like myself, since you were only fourteen when you were made Champion, though after we began working together, I found that I was mistaken. That you, if slightly better than the average student your age, were not the genius I had hoped you would be. Still, as you seemed hard-working enough, I was willing to swallow my pride and make do with what I had been given.”

    “I…”

    “And then you, like all the other ingrates I have known, shelved me,” Budge growled – all but spat, really. “Put me aside. Dismissed what I had to offer, all I had to teach, in favor of so-called more important things that occupied your time.” The silhouette shook his head sadly. “Your brewing is little better than it was this summer, really, and with very little time to improve before the Potions Championship. I thought once that you would do, but after hundreds of years I am not willing to partner with someone who is an embarrassment of the title of Champion.”

    Shinji cringed, folding in on himself under the verbal onslaught of the master potioneer.

    “Please…” he whispered. Without the book – without the knowledge it possessed, he knew he stood no chance among his fellow competitors, given that he was the youngest and least prepared. The least trained. “I…give me another chance. I don’t…”

    “You don’t deserve one,” the spirit of the book stated bluntly. “Not after you’ve squandered the chance you were given. It’s as if you don’t want to win the Potions Championship, as if your reason for going is something else entirely!”

    Shinji couldn’t keep his naked shock from showing on his features, as the air grew heavy and cold. It was true that Sokaris hadn’t asked him to win, just to do his best – and to investigate the ruins on the Isle, which she considered more important, but how—

    “…it is, isn’t it?” the spirit of the master potioneer realized, sounding utterly betrayed. “All this time, I had hoped to accompany a great potioneer to victory, but you were never even seeking to win to begin with!”

    “I…”

    You will be quiet and listen to what I have to say,” Zygmunt Budge rumbled, as Shinji could only nod. “You will either improve drastically by the time the Potions Championship begins, something I will assess for myself when you go to the isle, or you will give me to a deserving Champion, like Sajyou Ayaka of Mahoutokoro, so I can fulfill my lifelong ambition. Is that understood, Champion?

    “Yes…” Shinji squeaked. “I understand.”

    “Good,” came the reply, as the mist began receding back into the Book of Potions. “I do look forward to working with Miss Sajyou again,” came the potioneer’s parting comment. “It will be quite a pleasant change to work with someone who appreciates what I have to offer, and who isn't...what was the term Severus used? Oh yes, a dunderhead.”




    Later that day, after taking a sample from the Draught of Peace he’d brewed (which he’d needed, even with Luna’s help, given the emotional trauma Zygmunt Budge had put him through), Shinji found himself at the door to Gilderoy Lockhart’s office, with a gift for the man in his right hand, and Luna’s hand in his left, mostly for reassurance.

    Not for the first time, it stuck him how lucky he was that his girlfriend was a skeptic of the Daily Prophet veracity. That she had been for years, really, even before the current madness, given that her father was both editor and publisher of the Quibbler.

    ‘Or really, I’m thankful that she trusts me…’


    Perhaps more than was reasonable, if he was being honest to himself, but the fact that she did – and supported him, no matter what others said, was something he deeply appreciated, especially when it seemed that all of Britain had turned against him.

    ‘I only did what was right!’


    Or so he told himself and everyone who would listen, though he found that most were less than receptive, especially confronted with what seemed like photographic evidence of his misdeeds.

    ‘Pansy…why?’


    When he’d seen the headline – and the name under the photo credit – Shinji hadn’t understood. He’d helped Pansy. Let her obtain a familiar who was versatile and powerful, so why had she betrayed him so?

    Why was everyone…?

    He took a deep breath, steadying himself as calming yang prana flowed into him, and knocked on Lockhart’s door, knowing he wouldn’t find any answers from just standing in the hallway and doing nothing.

    (The last thing he needed was to be caught lurking in a hallway outside a professor’s office, especially the one who was known to be Pansy’s mentor, as someone might think he had something nefarious in mind.)

    “Enter,” the man called from within. “I was wondering when you would stop by, Mister Matou. I trust you had a good evening, or so the daily paper tells me?”

    As Shinji and Luna filed into the room, the first thing they noticed was while the room was decorated rather more festively than the last time he’d seen it, the man was dressed as plainly as he usually was when he wasn’t teaching, this time in simple black robes which lacked any hint of decoration at all.

    The second thing, of course, was the Boxing Day edition of the Daily Prophet on the man’s desk, where he sat, writing notes as he referenced what looked like a map of Wizarding London with certain points marked on it.

    “Mister Matou. Miss Lovegood,” the man greeted as he finished and put his notes aside. “It is good to see you both again.” He gestured at the two chairs in front of his desk. “Please, have a seat. I suppose I know why you are here, Mister Matou.”

    “First off, sir,” Shinji began haltingly, wanting to get this part out of the way. “I’d like to say that what was in today’s paper…”

    “No need to explain yourself,” Lockhart said, waving away his explanation. “I know perfectly well that the Prophet has been…less than reliable…as of late. And given that the lovely Miss Lovegood has not seen fit to separate herself from you over these accusations, I can surmise that they are either false, or she is remarkably forgiving.”

    The Assassin smiled thinly.

    “Or both, really,” he said after a moment’s consideration. "That's always an option as well."

    “Well, Luna is more forgiving than I deserve, its true,” Shinji acknowledged with a nod. “I’m lucky to have her in my life.”

    “That you are,” Lockhart noted, opening one of his desk drawers and removing two pouches, one of which he slid over to Shinji, and one to Luna.

    “What are…”

    “Presents,” the man explained. “For the aid that you have given my apprentice over the last year. Open them, if you will.”

    Inside his pouch, Shinji found five vials of what looked like thick, dark mud, bubbling slowly.

    “Is this…?”

    “For you, Mister Matou, five doses of almost finished Polyjuice Potion, lacking only the essence of the person – or people – you seek to transform into,” Lockhart confirmed. “These have been brewed to the most exacting standards, and may last up to twelve hours.”

    “…very generous of you, sir,” Shinji murmured. He could well imagine how such a potion could be quite useful to him during the competition, or in other situations.

    “My apprentice briefed me on what actually happened during that excursion,” Lockhart noted diffidently. “Given what you helped her to obtain, it was only appropriate that you receive something worthy of it.”

    Luna, for her part, found a silvery-gold pendant in hers on a delicate chain, resembling the head of a dragon as seen from above, with a pale blue stone set into the center. To her senses, it felt almost alive and so she glanced at the Assassin questioningly.

    “Not goblin silver, actually. The work of a Master Alchemist, which I purchased some time ago during my travels,” the man noted with a trace of a smile. “In its most basic form, Miss Lovegood, it is an amulet of protection, improving one’s willpower and offering a defense against most mental attacks or effects.”

    “Even the effects of dementors?”

    “Even those,” Lockhart confirmed. “Of course, it also serves a secondary function, provided you have the magical energy for it?”

    “Oh?”

    Shinji looked over, curious as to what the amulet might be.

    “I’ve been told that it becomes a weapon – a spear that doubles as a particularly potent focus of the water element,” the History professor explained. “I have never seen this, of course, but perhaps it is true. I have seen stranger things in my time, after all.”

    “Told by who?” Shinji asked, unable to help himself.

    “The woman who sold it to me,” Lockhart said after a moment, his lips quirking into a faint half-smile. “Or rather, traded it to me for a few bottles of Shiraz wine, some of the finest, and rarest in the world.”

    “Shiraz wine?” Shinji echoed, blinking. “I’ve never heard of Shiraz before.”

    “Shiraz is a city in what is now Iran, and was once known as the city of poets, literature, wine and flowers,” the man noted. “Since the revolution some time ago, it no longer officially produces wine, but for those who know, there are certain villages…”

    “Ah…I wasn’t aware that Iran produced wine at all.”

    The boy from the East knew about France and Italy as producers of wines, but Iran…?

    “You should study your history, Mister Matou,” the Assassin said reprovingly. “Iranian wine – or I suppose Persian wine, as it was known then – was the finest in the world. Indeed, at one point, there was said to be a vintage so powerful that it could bring hope to the despondent and new life to those mortally wounded.”

    “Oh?”

    “In an old legend, wine was discovered by a girl despondent over her rejection by the king, who chose to commit suicide by drinking the spoiled residue of rotting grapes, thinking it would poison her,” the history Professor related. “Instead of killing her, however, it merely intoxicated her, with the girl waking up the next morning with the realization that life was worth living and reporting this discovery to the king.”

    “And then what happened?”

    The man smiled thinly.

    “The king rewarded her, of course,” came the reply. “Not only by accepting her once more into his harem, but by decreeing that all grapes in the land be devoted to winemaking. But yes, it once fetched quite a price, and so it did again.”

    “Do people really trade wine for magical items?” Shinji questioned, his eyebrows furrowing together. “The wine you provided wasn’t…enchanted, was it?”

    “No, but it was exceedingly rare, and she had little use for an amulet of protection, even though she found it on the floor of the Mediterranean Sea,” Lockhart noted. “Besides, if a lovely woman wishes me to provide her with wine, who am I to say no?” Then, he turned back to the petite blonde sitting beside Shinji. “Now, while I understand that you are proficient enough without a wand, Miss Lovegood, it is never a bad thing to have something at hand that an enemy will not expect.”

    “Mm…a good point,” Luna acknowledged, nodding her head. “Thank you.”

    “No need. It’s the least I can do after you’ve spent so much time helping to train my apprentice,” Lockhart said mildly. “Shall we move onto business then, unless there is something else you wish to discuss first?”

    “Well, I did want to give you something, Professor,” Shinji broke in, handing a small parcel over to the man, with Lockhart opening it to reveal a small basket full of bezoars.

    The Assassin looked over at the boy, a questioning eyebrow arching as he considered the gift.

    “…I’m only permitted to go between Hogwarts and Durmstrang,” Shinji protested, even though the older man had said nothing. “So, I thought as an adventurer, you would like something practical.”

    A soft chuckle escaped the History Professor’s lips, as he gently pressed the basket back into the boy’s hands.

    “Keep it,” the man said. “I dare say you will find yourself needing more than I, given your tendency to make quite a few people…unhappy.”

    Shinji shivered not quite imperceptibly as he remembered the angry mutters and looks following him after his return from the Yule Ball, the accusations of treason and espionage that had been hurled at him in the Prophet, and what Harry had said about the Wizengamot being rather...displeased with his actions.

    “…hopefully not including you, sir?” the boy questioned, swallowing as he hoped he hadn’t inadvertently caused the…Assassin any inconvenience.

    The long pause that followed was not in any way reassuring.

    “Matou, you have to understand that while I admire your strong sense of principles, it is not always necessary for you to take matters into your own hands,” Lockhart responded eventually. “There are usually ways in which to ensure what you wish comes to pass, without exposing yourself to the spotlight. In the rare occasions when public exposure is unavoidable, however, I expect you to weigh the consequences – both to yourself and to the others you involve – before acting.”

    Shinji winced.

    “I…uh…is this about the…expedition I went on?” he inquired, not entirely at ease with where this conversation was going.

    “In part,” Lockhart confirmed, the smile on his face vanishing entirely. “Though it is rather more about your as a whole, since you seem to have gone out of your way to make an enemy of the British people.”

    “I—“

    “I am quite aware of what your intentions were – or at least, what I hope they were – but you need to be aware of how your actions will be perceived, especially when faced with a hostile press,” the man continued, the displeasure on his face now quite obvious. “In previous years, your…bold statements and brashness were welcomed by the press, as they were well disposed towards you and the other Stone Cutters. This year, those advantages are gone. This year, the fact that you are a foreigner is a mark against you, and the further you distance yourself from Britain, the more you will be seen as a traitor – and a target.”

    “…at least no one’s tried to kill me yet?” Shinji offered weakly, but Lockhart’s expression, if anything, only grew more severe. “Over my recent actions, I mean,” he amended, remembering that there was likely at least one Dark Lord after his blood, not to mention Tomas using the Killing Curse on him, the tanuki doing its level best to end his life, and that onikuma that had almost ripped his head off.

    “Mister Matou, if you were to make an enemy of…certain organizations, then I assure you, you would not know they were after you. You – and likely entire family – would simply be dead,” Lockhart stated bluntly, as Shinji jerked backwards, remembering that the Einzbern did hold something of a grudge against him over the business with Ilya. “While I concede that you can certainly be quite dangerous when you are aware a threat is upon you, you are just as vulnerable when asleep as any one of us.”

    Then the man smiled, a cold, terrible expression that had little mirth in it whatsoever.

    “Indeed, I hear one of your classmates learned that lesson at Durmstrang. A certain Zacharias Smith, who…froze to death in his sleep, the official story goes,” the Assassin noted, as his eyes froze Shinji in his place. “How unfortunate for him, going to sleep in such an open...vulnerable...place. At the mercy of the elements – or whatever came his way."

    “…I get it,” Shinji grumbled, rubbing his neck uncomfortably. “If the press could get pictures of me and Fleur in the Great Hall, then anyone who wished…”

    “Could have taken the chance to do you harm, yes,” Lockhart supplied. “In fact, I imagine that one did, and just happened to be stopped by any security at the event.”

    “…Smith?”

    “Indeed.”

    “But why…?”

    “Hufflepuffs value loyalty above all else, Mister Matou,” the Professor answered simply. “Logically it also means that what they detest most is disloyalty. Treason. Being unfaithful to your role and your obligations.”

    “So that means…”

    “It means that if he tried to kill you and was slain for his trouble, then his blood is on your hands, Mister Matou,” Lockhart said with finality.

    “I…” Shinji’s words failed him, as he looked down at his hands, as if he could see them covered in blood.

    “If you’re about to apologize, don’t bother,” the voice of the Assassin broke in. “That isn’t why you came here, is it?”

    Shinji just shook his head.

    “You came here, because you wanted my advice on how to fix your image, and how to prepare yourself for the upcoming Potions Championship, yes?”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “For the first, I would advise that you remain at Hogwarts these next few days, at least until the new year, visibly working on preparations for your event and not causing…trouble,” the man said quietly, steepling his fingers. “Preferably in the company of Miss Lovegood, which will throw off some of those more…salacious rumors of you being seduced by Miss Delacour and enjoying her amorous embraces.”

    Shinji grimaced, but nodded.

    “It probably is too late to deal with that entirely, given the photo, but I suppose I can also arrange for you to be interviewed by Rita Skeeter, so you can attempt to set the story right, if you wish,” Lockhart suggested. “I warn you that dear Rita is out for a story first and foremost, but you should know that, having spoken with her before, yes?”

    “Yes,” the boy from the east said reluctantly. “But…sir, why did Pansy…?”

    “Because if she hadn’t, someone else would have,” the man supplied. “Taking her on your expedition cost her dearly in her internship with the Daily Prophet, so she wanted to do something to make her position more secure.” The man smirked, ever so lightly. “Besides, as I said, you were out in the open.”

    The British Potions Champion sighed, but nodded.

    “With regards to the Championship, is there anything in particular you wished to know about, or did you just want an overview of how to survive in an unknown land?” Lockhart inquired. "Not, of course, that you don't already have some experience, given your expeditions to acquire familiars.”

    “Well…”

    “Though that is another thing…”

    “Yes?”

    "Would you like to tell me what you and your familiar are capable of, so I can better tailor my advice and training to your needs?" the man inquired. "I would rather not waste my time - and yours - by having to assess you first, as I know you've been holding back during our sessions."

    Despite all the time-saving measures he had put into place over the years, and the markedly reduced amount of travel he was permitted to do these days, given the situation in Britain, the History Professor of Hogwarts was a very busy man. By any measure, preparing lectures, grading assignments, and arranging for the more motivated of students to take part in interesting learning opportunities such as Insurgency was a full-time job in and of itself - and that didn't take into account the time he spent on his writing, on training particularly talented students like Pansy Parkinson and Matou Shinji, and on the many other activities he was involved in - including a weekly column on practical self-defense that he authored for the Daily Prophet and other publications.

    Thus, he wanted to know what Shinji’s weaknesses were, so that he could better train the boy, especially as they only had a week.

    Feeling rather worn and defeated from everything that had transpired, Shinji only nodded.

    "Well, I figure if anyone knows me - especially my weaknesses - it's Luna," Shinji replied to the man's unspoken question. "She's more experienced than I am at surviving in the wilderness, after all. Even taught me how to cook."

    "That...and you trust her. Especially after she was willing to lay down her life for yours, yes?" Lockhart inquired softly.

    Shinji nodded.

    "...that’s right, mentor," the Boy from the East replied, nodding his head.

    "More than you trust me, of course."

    "Of co--"

    Shinji's reply, which he'd begun to voice almost automatically in response to Lockhart's matter of fact tone, died in his mouth, as he felt a shiver go down his spine.

    "Such is not unexpected, given who we are, Matou. Even so, given why you are here, I'm afraid I will have to ask for you to be upfront about what you are able to do. I have seen some of it, and know more from what my apprentice has mentioned, but I suspect there are some things you have yet to reveal, yes?"

    Matou Shinji was silent.

    "You are a person who enjoys secrets, who enjoys knowing what others do not, Matou. Yet in this place - in my office - if you seek my help, you will have to reveal some of what you have hidden."

    "...I know, mentor," Shinji finally answered.

    And, so in response to Lockhart's query, the boy laid out what it was he was able to do - and how it was, with Zelkova's help - he had accomplished most of his feats, with Luna supplying what he could not.

    Admitting it was hard - and made him feel more than a bit like a fraud, given how he'd misrepresented himself to so many people over the years - yet Luna's presence, and the fact that she knew who and what he was, yet accepted him anyway, gave him some reassurance.
    Not enough reassurance to mention the Room of Requirement or to tell Lockhart about his mansion, and his secret link to the school (which was how he disappeared so often), but some, all the same.

    "I see. I can think of a few things that would be immediately useful, given your situation. One, of course, is improving your combat abilities - learning to stay in fusion for a prolonged period of time and unlocking the ability to flow-walk in combat, as you Easterners put it. Another would be intensive practice at surviving in nature - with only a wand. A third would be experience fighting against a number of different foes - I understand you often spar with Miss Lovegood, but a bit of...variety would be useful, given that your foes are likely to use quite different styles. I can help facilitate that, given the many styles I have seen over the years."

    He chuckled.

    "Alternatively, if you would care to try a game of Insurgency, we can help identify what your weak points might be when it comes to situations where you are outnumbered and as the Americans might say, outgunned."

    “Let’s just go with improving my combat abilities,” Shinji decided, hoping he wasn’t making the wrong choice. “I need to be able to flow-walk reliably, and to hold fusion for longer. The rest – the other things – they’re nice, but…”

    Not essential.

    “So be it then," the man intoned, seemingly pleased by his choice. "We’ll begin on the morrow, and work until New Year’s Eve, where I expect you to dine with the Ourea. After all, it has been such a long time since you’ve talked with members of the organization you hoped to found, hasn’t it?”

    “It has,” Shinji agreed, wondering what they thought of him now, and hoping – hoping they didn’t see him in the same light as the rest of Britain.

    “It has, indeed,” the Assassin agreed. “The Eve is an interesting time, with quite a few revelations to be had, and choices to be made about…old friends. Wouldn’t you agree, Miss Lovegood?”

    “Mm,” the petite blonde agreed. "I suppose."

    “Luna? What does he mean?” Shinji questioned, glancing at his lover, but the girl only looked at him serenely.

    “You’ll know soon enough,” she said, leaving him wondering what it was she wasn’t telling him. But he didn’t resist when she took his hand. “Come. There’s work to be done.”

    After all, there most certainly was.




    Choice 190: How does Shinji intend to respond to Budge's ultimatum? (choose one)

    [ ] Work hard & try to impress the spirit - the Book of Potions is his only chance at victory
    [ ] Give the Book of Potions to Ayaka - with her eastern potions knowledge and Budge's mastery of the west, she'd be almost guaranteed to win
    [ ] Give the Book of Potions to Rachelle Lestrange - best to build positive relations with an up and coming Alchemist
    [ ] Take his dose of Felix Felicis before the demonstration Budge demands

    Choice 191: Day 3 of the Potions Preliminaries dawns, with a melee combat demonstration (using wooden weapons to prevent excessive amounts of damage), and a brewing competition, followed by free time that night. Does Shinji choose to participate in the melee combat demonstration, and if so, who will he choose to challenge?

    [ ] No, best he stay out of it
    [ ] Yes, challenging Rachelle Sondrol, since she, like he, uses something like a polearm
    [ ] Yes, challenging Mischa Stukov, who seems interested in assessing his abilities with a rod
    [ ] Yes, challenging Libatius Muller, who seems competent enough, but not exceptional
    [ ] Yes, challenging Rachelle Lestrange, since perhaps he can ask her to go easy on him

    Choice 192: What would he like to do in his free time?

    [ ] Spend time with Luna
    [ ] Work on ofuda
    [ ] See what the other Champions are doing
    [ ] Seek out (insert Champion Name here) for a talk
    [ ] (write-in)
    Last edited by alfheimwanderer; July 28th, 2017 at 09:05 AM.
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  9. #2909
    [x] Work hard & try to impress the spirit - the Book of Potions is his only chance at victory.

    Time to get serious.

    [x] Yes, challenging Rachelle Sondrol, since she, like he, uses something like a polearm.

    It's a demonstration so it's better if the two parties know what they are doing. Not so much about winning but offering a decent exhibition to the audience.

    [x] Experiment with original decoctions.

    If we want a shot at winning the competition, it's best to give a try with something original in order to secure as much points as possible.
    Zygmunt said it himself, he doesn't want someone who simply follows recipes.

    We will need the experience anyway, as well as having already a list of ingredients to seek on the field.

  10. #2910
    [x] Work hard & try to impress the spirit - the Book of Potions is his only chance at victory
    [x] No, best he stay out of it
    [x] Work on ofuda

    Man I really love this chapter, love how the book just insult shinji for being a Idiot and spend his time in something so stupid like wanted become Fleur's bodyguard.
    Last edited by skulkidcachi90; July 28th, 2017 at 05:36 AM.

  11. #2911
    Choice 190: To Felix or to not Felix that is the question. We all know that Shinji will need the luck potion for the competition if he wants to survive and create a brand new potion that worth anything. Heck, at this point he would have to swim in the stuff for him to have a chance at beating Ayaka if she seriously tried to stop him. But all that means nothing if Buldge does not work with Shinji and the luck potion would help on that front. But I can't help but feel that even if Shinji took it and got lucky and impressed him, Buldge would soon figured out that Shinji 'cheated' by taking the luck potion and would lose all respect for Shinji.

    At the same time, have we made enough pro-potions choices, from now to the time for his test, to please the hard to please book? We certainly have refocused on potions since his trip, but even in the pre-game week Shinji has a lot of stuff to do outside of working on potions, such as meeting champions, exploring the island's mysteries and pleasing the people back at home and his teachers. Its not like he can lock himself in a room the entire time to cram in every gram of knowledge he can to reach good approval levels. I am starting to think that Budge would be himself a bad potions champion as he might be great at potions (brilliant if you listen to him), but he would have been pants at the political games as well as the combat part. Budge himself I doubt could beat Ayaka in this when it comes to things more than who is the best with potions.

    Choice 191: Lestrange would never go easy on Shinji, not her style unless Shinji gave her one hell of a good reason to go easy as it makes her look weak. Picking Sondrol, the best staff user in a war school is not a great idea but would have been ok had we spent the year with her and not Fleur, and Sondrol helped Shinji get better with a staff. The other two seem like Shinji is heading towards a beat down as let's face Shinji on pure skill alone with no power ups clothing or familiar is not that great of a weapon user. I can see no benifit in having Shinji showcasing his melee skill, to show the people better at it that he is weaker than them to impress the people that do not have weapon skills at all. Best to stay out of it and have it be an unknown so that Shinji can focus on something else that day.

    Choice 192: I think Daki's write in is a good one but I think I would prefer Shinji spending time with Budge imparting his knowledge onto Shinji brewing potions, then Shinji just working on new decotions on his own. Base skill first. But I really think we need to go talk with a champion to start a ball rolling on that front. Either Ayaka or Elesa would be fine choice in my opinion. Heck in my mind I think we could fit in both activities if we turn down watching the melee competition.

    [X] Work hard & try to impress the spirit - the Book of Potions is his only chance at victory
    [X] No, best he stay out of it
    [X] Seek out Elesa for a talk
    Last edited by Skull Leader; July 28th, 2017 at 11:34 AM.

  12. #2912
    Choice 190:
    [x] Work hard & try to impress the spirit - the Book of Potions is his only chance at victory

    Choice 191:
    [x] Yes, challenging Mischa Stukov, who seems interested in assessing his abilities with a rod

    Why don't make a new acquaintance - in the relatively safe, supervised environment?

    Choice 192:
    I'll second Daiki's write-in - it's Potions Championship, so let's do potions.
    [x] Experiment with original decoctions.

  13. #2913
    Change my vote to:
    [x] Experiment with original decoctions.

  14. #2914
    Quote Originally Posted by neophyte View Post
    Why don't make a new acquaintance - in the relatively safe, supervised environment?
    Because he is out for blood to prove himself as the top dog in melee because he is aggressive person from a military style school, that would beat Shinji black and blue. And this is the event that Mischa has the best chance to impress/intimated the competition. And when he wins he will have confirmed Shinji as being weak and not just suspecting it since Hogwarts is a weak school when it comes to fighting. Thus promoting the case for him to go and target Shinji during the PC to eliminate him when its not a safe environment. Shinji has no hope against him when he can not use fusion, ofuda or his stat increasing cloths/armor.

    It is royally stupid to challenge him in the field that Mischa holds all the cards in. Let's someone else be his punching bag. It will not do any favor to Shinji's PR. The only good I could see coming from this would be when Shinji snaps and fuses to put him back into his proper place. But that comes with its own headaches.
    Last edited by Skull Leader; July 28th, 2017 at 12:13 PM.

  15. #2915
    Quote Originally Posted by Skull Leader View Post
    Because he is out for blood to prove himself as the top dog in melee because he is aggressive person from a military style school, that would beat Shinji black and blue.
    Uhm, we still don't know anything about him - or Koldovstorez as the school. Besides, if we follow this logic, shouldn't Rachelle - the blonde one - be weak in the direct confrontation, yet cunning and manipulative mastermind type?

  16. #2916
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six Malgos's Avatar
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    He's doomed if he doesn't impress the book anyways so might as well drink the Felix potion.

    Don't challenge anyone. No clue how else he's going to spent his time, but it might be better spent elsewhere.


    I like Daiki's suggestion, but I think it would be better to explicitly state in the write-in to do this experimentation with Budge as he just complained about being shelved. I suppose this could be interpreted as over reliance by him. Furthermore since this is at the competition where someone may see him he should experiment with Budge on potions in his room. I know this may or may not be obvious, but I prefer to be on the safe side with the wording of write-ins.

  17. #2917
    The write-in is intended with Shinji using the book, yes.

    At this point, we want to keep a focus on improvement & preparations all the while approaching champions or increasing their approval whenever we can.

    Sondrol makes for the better exhibition partner because she has heard of Shinji through Lestrange, and thus is in a rather good disposition with all he did at Durmstrang. She is good so it will not be a one-sided demonstration like it might be with Libatius. We don't want Shinji to look like he would go after the least apt though. Mischa might enjoy it, and maybe even think Shinji has guts to challenge him in such an open fashion so it could result in a positive approval on that front. Though, I would prefer not to have Shinji get a serious wound. Libatius isn't noted to be the best fighter, so it's preferable to leave him alone. As for Lestrange, she will never go soft on us because we asked for it. On the contrary, she would make a point for him not to grow complacent and kick our butt so hard it would be hard to recover from the humiliation.

    So the three choices here, as I see them are;

    Sondrol > If you wish to get some back and forth without getting too serious. Still get owned but since your intent was to give a demo with someone using the same type of weapon, it might not end up so bad.
    Mischa > If you want to prove you are not afraid to die, at the risk of getting some serious wounds and look like you're too confidant.
    Libatius > If you want to win. It could leave a bad taste to pick on someone not as familiar with a polearm though. Then again we could still get owned after picking the "weakest", leaving us with a rep decrease as well.
    Last edited by Daiki; July 28th, 2017 at 06:59 PM.

  18. #2918
    Quote Originally Posted by Daiki View Post
    (Sondrol) is good so it will not be a one-sided demonstration like it might be with Libatius.
    It would be one sided, assuming that Sondrol did not pull back her skill for Shinji's benefit. Sondrol is the best staff fighter in her entire school as noted by the Raven Lord before; a school that trains everyone in this art. Shinji can not hope to hold a candle to her if she showed her full skill against him. Lockhart training makes him not useless with the staff but he is not a master of it after a few months of training to someone that spent at least seven years learning the skill.

    Libatius isn't noted to be the best fighter, so it's preferable to leave him alone.
    Just a note from my talking with Alf, Libatius is not actually a bad melee fighter, he is just not a weapon melee fighter, in a similar manner if one fought canon Rin hand to hand. He would not agree to a match if he had no ability what so ever.

    So the three choices here, as I see them are;
    You are ignoring the fourth option of saying out of this by not fighting. If you might of noticed many of the champions are not an option as they do not wish to be in it.

    I am not convinced that Shinji gains anything of value by fighting. He has to showcase his skill level to others, risk losing to (likely) better melee fighters. We already have three people that have a fairly good idea where Shinji stands in a fighting ability that we do not really need to show everyone this card to gain respect. But if we had to fight this your reasoning seems sound to me. But who are we trying to impress in the hopes that it will benfit us later that does not have a semi-clue to Shinji's fighting skill.

    But I am convince on the potion training write in now, with Malgos's additions just to be safe.
    Change my vote to [x] Experiment with original decoctions.
    Last edited by Skull Leader; July 28th, 2017 at 07:40 PM.

  19. #2919
    Quote Originally Posted by Skull Leader View Post
    It would be one sided, assuming that Sondrol did not pull back her skill for Shinji's benefit. Sondrol is the best staff fighter in her entire school as noted by the Raven Lord before; a school that trains everyone in this art. Shinji can not hope to hold a candle to her if she showed her full skill against him.
    I'm telling you she is the one who would have the least incentive to become serious against Shinji.

    Haven't mentioned Shinji being a match for her.

    Just a note from my talking with Alf, Libatius is not actually a bad melee fighter, he is just not a weapon melee fighter, in a similar manner if one fought canon Rin hand to hand. He would not agree to a match if he had no ability what so ever.
    Again, I'm saying that he is likely the least skilled out of these guys.

    Haven't mentioned him being shit. It's like you don't want to read me.

    His specialties are poisons and potion making. Those wouldn't help in a melee demo when using wooden rods.

    If it was a formal engagement using blades, for example, things would be different.

    You are ignoring the fourth option of saying out of this by not fighting. If you might of noticed many of the champions are not an option as they do not wish to be in it.
    Or simply have no interest. Or are busy doing something else. Or suck at it. It doesn't matter much.

    I am not convinced that Shinji gains anything of value by fighting.
    But who are we trying to impress in the hopes that it will benfit us later that does not have a semi-clue to Shinji's fighting skill.
    Who, indeed... Why, any champion who might find the support of a good fighter useful? An edge against a rival is still one, no matter how little.

    If your goal is to ally with Ayaka, fine. I can understand wanting to abstain, since you would rather not reveal your hand. However, it likely means dropping the competition, which I do not agree with.

    They are people who have expectations of us. We are not only in there for the sake of investigating ruins. Think of those who spent time training us, place their hope in Shinji, defended him and his position, those who lost credibility because of him...

    Shinji has to deliver. Simple as that.

    If that means gaining appeal by having to display some of his skill with a polearm, so be it. I'll take the risk on the sole chance it might increase his rep a bit. Show that you have guts even if you get your ass handled to you. Winning is out of the question anyway, and it is not the point here, as I have stated.

    What he has to lose exactly? Oh, a fourth year got owned by a seventh year!! Contact the Daily Prophet, it will be a scoop?! The only thing he will reveal is that he knows his way around a wooden staff. You think hiding that fact would make a significant difference against these guys were we to engage them in a direct fight?

    If you prefer to stay in the shadows and not make this choice count, feel free to do so.

    I would rather not waste an opportunity.

  20. #2920
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    There will be one more combat trial. That one will be a free for all, with whatever abilities the combatants choose to display.
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

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