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

  1. #4261
    Spoilers, spoilers everywhere!

  2. #4262
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Choice 346: [X] Cast a spell on the door - perhaps Alohomora might work?




    With Zelkova returned to him, Matou Shinji felt a powerful sense of relief, which almost - almost - overcame his concern with what this place was, and how badly he imagined that exploring must have gone for him last time if just remembering fragments of it nearly incapacitated him.

    But not quite.

    'I can't stay here.'

    The boy didn't know much about where he was now, save that everything about it felt ominous, what with the runic arrays, the pool of blood, what seemed like an altar up against a wall, with a bowl and a knife and all.

    '...don't tell me. The pool...is that the blood of countless sacrifices?'

    Had he stumbled upon the chamber of some ancient death cult? Or...was this more recent? Had some of the Centre for Alchemical Studies personnel been corrupted by the insidious whispers on the island? Was that the true reason that Sokaris had asked him to investigate the goings ons here?

    'If I try...if I try and I fail to escape, will I be driven mad? Will I find myself willingly immersing myself into the pool, surrendering my consciousness and flesh to the powers that be on this isle?'

    The boy didn't know, and he didn't really fancy finding out. What he did know is that there was a door, at least, and that it was locked - but then, he had a spell meant to help him unlock doors, didn't he? He might as well use it while he was in spirit form, and thus protected from most physical hazards, right?

    "Alohomora!" he chanted, and much to his surprise, the door opened, with the boy seeing light as it slid open.

    Light that washed over him, burning like the cold fire of the stars themselves, searing away everything - mind and spirit alike - leaving no trace that Matou Shinji - or his familiar - had ever existed to begin with.

    BAD END




    "Matou, a word of advice. When you are in what seems to be a ritual chamber in an ancient ruin, opening the door without going through the prescribed steps is rarely the right thing to do."




    Continue?
    [ ] Yes
    [ ] No
    Last edited by alfheimwanderer; July 9th, 2018 at 01:41 AM.
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  3. #4263
    [x] Yes

    . . . Uh, that turns out to be the most dangerous option from seemingly simple action.

  4. #4264
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Continue: [x] Yes




    Chapter 85. Lull before Destruction

    All in all, what had been meant as a week of rest for the Champions after their overnight ordeal, allowing them to recover and prepare before they were thrust into the wilderness for two weeks, proved instead quite trying for Matou Shinji. While he couldn’t speak for his fellow Champions, and the tasks they found needful, the boy had his hands full getting acclimated to his new limbs, attempting to arrange an alliance or at least a non-aggression pact with some of the other Champions, and rebuilding his depleted ofuda stockpile.

    ‘Not that I even managed the last one. Not since I used up everything I had in one day. I don’t have enough prana to put it all back together again on short notice.’

    Well, or even the time, really.

    Ofuda were quite useful for extending his reach and giving him more options in combat, so that he wasn’t limited to the single action he could take with a wand at any given time, but that was because he paid the cost for those actions (in materials, energy, and time), beforehand.

    Much like when one brewed potions, really.

    ‘But I guess most practitioners in Europe don’t find either of these investments worthwhile, since they can get by just by waving a wand around, and the world isn’t as dangerous – as wild – as it is for those at Mahoutokoro, Uagadou, or Koldovstoretz.’

    Based on that, it was easy for him to see why those schools could consistently send talented Champions to the Potions Championship, where others failed to: because their schools – nay, their very environments – engendered the right mindset for them to pursue excellence.

    At Durmstrang, what was valued were the more martial disciplines, as evinced by the Banners being organized like mercenary companies in competition with one another, and the most honored position a student could earn being Field Marshal, a rank which in times of crisis, held the authority to lead their comrades on the field. Still, even their most valiant and skilled warriors took a turn in the greenhouses where the foodstuffs for Institute were grown, and potions were known to be useful for physical enhancement, healing, and other such.

    At Beauxbatons, what were valued were the social graces, diplomacy and the like, with everything else as secondary. True, the school did turn out a number of talented potioneers, with a number going on to work for the Centre for Alchemical Studies, but that was mostly because there was a certain cachet to being known as an alchemist, not, for the most part, because people had a passion for the Alchemical Arts. (Some exceptions existed, naturally).

    And at Hogwarts, what was valued, prior to the incident at the cup, were…sports and academic prowess, as was the case at most non-magical schools. Though of the core subjects, potions had never been the most popular topic, because of the time and effort it took to become competent in it compared to other courses, and the few professions which required advanced study in the discipline. (The same logic, incidentally, could be applied to Herbology, which was quite unpalatable to most outside of Hufflepuff).

    ‘Which is probably why someone like me stood a chance of becoming Champion in the first place…’ he mused as he finished a stack of binding and flow ofuda, wiping his brow as he looked out the balcony door to the island outside.

    It was the last day before the Championship began in earnest – the true Championship, not the preliminaries that he had participated in thus far – and the boy was...tired.

    ‘I’ve been working hard this entire week, sleeping only when I physically can’t move any longer, pushing myself each and every day.’ He chuckled mirthlessly. ‘Is this really it? Is this all I have to show for it? A few stacks of paper?’

    Certainly, he’d gotten Elesa to agree to be his partner for exploring the island – though it was more that he’d agreed to be her partner/assistant for the exploration phase of the competition, having signed a magical contract that bound him to assist her for as long as she needed it, and had learned the basics of how Thought Acceleration was performed from Lestrange, but it wasn’t as if some information and a brief demonstration were enough for him to replicate the skill.

    ‘This too, is going to need time.’

    Time he didn’t have.

    ‘And on further thought, the contract doesn’t compel Elesa to aid me, does it?’ the boy mused, something he’d realized sometime after their conversation – when it was too late to do anything about it. He’d sworn to assist her, but there was no guarantee of reciprocity, meaning that if she tired of him or found his aid a nuisance rather than a boon, she might well get rid of him. ‘And how useful I’ll be, well…’

    Zelkova hadn’t yet recovered from his ordeal, and without the kodama’s willing and active participation, fusion – his trump card –was not available to him.

    He seized up and was effectively rendered useless for a time if he tried to remember – or if someone prompted him about – what had happened the last time he’d gone exploring.

    The Book of Potions was gone, without which he had almost no chance of creating a masterwork potion.

    And in the limited time he’d had this week, he hadn’t been able to make much headway into understanding the mirror smooth shield he could summon to his hand, or the Fairy Eyes that the puppeteer had spoken of.

    ‘…you know, at this point, I’m not sure that I’ll get much done if I use up today training too. Maybe I’ll take the day off – I haven’t spent much time with Luna, after all, with all my running around, and I’m sure she’d appreciate it.’

    She was always worrying about him, after all, and it pained him to see how his recklessness hurt her sometimes.

    ‘Right. Let’s do that.’




    That night, soaking in the hot springs with Luna snuggled up beside him and aches he hadn’t even realized that he’d been carrying melting away, the boy had to admit that taking some time to decompress had probably been the right thing to do. Luna had been…happy when he’d told her he was planning on spending the day with her, her face lighting up in a way he hadn’t seen in a while.

    It dawned on him that he always asked so much of her, yet rarely gave much back in return, perhaps
    Because she asked for little and was always there for him when he needed it.

    ‘…which, now that I think about it, is how I am with other people too.’

    It was a mindset worthy of a magus, as opposed to a human.

    ‘…perhaps I learned too well from the example that grandfather set.’

    Today had been an attempt to make up for some of that, with Luna being the focus of his attention has he’d joined her on a walk around the village, enjoyed a picnic by the sea with her, and practiced dancing on the water with his new prosthetics.

    Today, he hadn’t once left her side, despite a number of mysterious occurrences that would, under any other situation, have prompted him to investigate.

    One of these had been the case of the two Sajyou Ayakas.

    Early in his walk, as they’d passed by the wall of the village, he’d seen Sajyou-senpai in the distance, her unyielding figure standing atop the battlements as she looked out at the forest, her attention focused entirely elsewhere.
    Yet, when he arrived at the sea, he saw her emerging from the waves, her kimono perfectly dry, a softly glowing stone clutched in the fingers of one hand. She’d seemed to pause for a moment, looking at Luna – or more specifically – at the pendant around Luna's neck (the one gifted to her by Lockhart), before nodding at the two of them and walking away, in the direction of the dorms.

    At the time, he’d wondered what that had been about, and why the Japanese Champion had seemed so distracted, though…

    ‘What if that wasn’t her?’

    If he remembered correctly, her familiar was a (if not the) three-legged crow, which shouldn't be able to mimic her form, so perhaps…perhaps someone was pretending to be her for some nefarious reason? But why?

    Still, he’d held his tongue, choosing not to say anything, since this was supposed to be a day with Luna, not one spent chasing dead ends and investigating strange happenings.

    Another strange thing had been seeing what looked like Professor Slughorn sitting with what looked like the Russian Champion at the Isle’s café, with the older man’s expression utterly blank, as if he was nothing but a doll of flesh, without a will of his own, and the other one clanking around in a sheathe of metal, his face a mess of scars worse than that of Mad-Eye Moody.

    And yet he’d ignored that too.

    It wasn’t really his business, and he didn’t want to deal with the Russian, as that bastard had gone after Lestrange, something which still stoked a cold fury in his heart. Truth be told, he didn’t want to see Mischa’s face, as he didn’t know what he would do: even now, seeing the man so pitted and scarred, he just wanted to put him out of his misery.

    Or at least that was his excuse for the murderous impulse flowing through him.

    ‘If we see each other out there, only one of us is going to leave alive…’

    He was certain of that, more certain than anything.

    Recognizing that, he’d chosen to skip the seaside reception being held for the Champions and their guests, no matter what information he might be able to acquire there, as he didn’t want to be tempted to…do something rash, and more so, did not want Luna to see him in such a state.

    “Today’s the last day before I go off into the wilderness. I just want to spend it with you,” he’d said to her, in response to her question of whether they should go to the reception. “Did you already forget?”

    Her smile had been dazzling.

    …and yet, when she’d offered to send Pandora to the reception in their place, to gather some information, if Shinji would like, he’d accepted it.

    “Gladly, but…why do you offer?”
    “Because you’ve been distracted ever since we saw Sajyou-san come out of the water, shortly after we saw the one on the wall. You’ve had an odd look on your face, like there’s something you want to ask – or know – but were trying to hide it.”

    “Urk.” The boy had stiffened.

    …had he really been that obvious? He really had to give his girlfriend more credit for being perceptive about these things.

    Truth be told, he had been curious. And if Zelkova were about, he would have dispatched the kodama to trail one of the possibly fake senpais, but….

    "Well, yes…,” he’d admitted. “It was bothering me. If someone is pretending to be her…”

    "The one who came out of the water just now was real," she’d murmured quietly.

    "How can you tell?"

    "What she was holding. It reminded me of a hoshi no tama." In other words, it’d seemed like one of the balls that kitsune were said to carry around, in which they invested their power. "Only this one seemed to be what was left behind by something else. Something much older. It glowed in her hands, showing that she was one who could draw its power."

    "...not that there aren't other people who might be able to draw on the power of something like that," Shinji had mused aloud. Labelle, given the elements she liked to use, was likely one of them. "But...why in the water? And why did she look at you? Or maybe…at the pendant you were wearing?"

    "It was the pendant."

    The silvery-gold item shaped like a dragon's head, with a pale blue stone set within, said to have been recovered from the seafloor by a woman who'd traded it for a bottle of rare wine.

    "How do you know?"

    “Because the metal grew warm when she walked by.”

    “Ah.” The boy had sighed. “In that case, if you wouldn’t mind sending Pandora to the reception and asking Kaiduka about this, I’d…appreciate it. Thanks, Luna.”

    “Mm. And you wouldn’t mind if she listened to what the other Champions discussed, hm?”

    “…well, no, admittedly not.”




    When Pandora arrived at the sea-side reception in Zelkova’s form (as that one had previously been seen, and so would not provoke alarm about unauthorized access to the island), the first thing she did was look around for the elder kitsune her Master asked her to talk to.
    But she didn’t see them, as they were not on the shore, partaking of the food and drink that is freely available to the guests and Champions attending.

    Oddly, Professor Slughorn, the man who smelled of odd vapours and lard, was there, (not so) discretely inquiring what some of the Champions thought about Matou Shinji, with some being willing enough to talk, some wanting little to do with him, and one – the still injured and scarred Stukov – going out of his way to say that Slughorn made the alcohol taste bad.

    'Lord Kaiduka? Lady Yamato? Where could they be?'

    She could not detect the presences normally associated with greater youkai, though that meant little, given that most of the higher ones also gained some sort of skill to conceal their nature, one which grew more effective depending on how desperately someone was seeking them.

    The name of the skill translated to something like “Desire Sensor”, though she, as a young youkai, had no ability to make use of it.

    She did know what she had to do to get around it, however, as she took a deep breath, clearing her mind of emotion, of preconception, of duty, opening herself to the world as it was.

    After a few minutes of breathing and accepting, she noticed something out of the corner of her eye: two shadows standing on the water, looking up at the moon.

    When she turned to look directly, there was nothing there, though this did not dissuade her, as she imagined she knew why that was there. Doing as her Master would do, she simply made her way out onto the surface of the sea, walking further and further out, with prana keeping her from sinking, until she reached the place the two figures had stood, and the two became clear – though only when she wasn't looking at them.

    "You have found us, little one," the elder kitsune greeted her, perched atop the water in an effortless display of elemental control.

    "Yes," she noted, with a glance confirming that yes, the elder kitsune's companion was indeed Lady Yamato. "You let me find you."

    "I did. I take it your Master's lover chose not to attend tonight?" the messenger of Inari questioned.

    “Yes, my lord.”

    "And you are called Pandora, yes?"

    "That is correct, my lord," the kitsune in Zelkova's form answered. "If I may...?"

    "Ask."

    "Why are you and Lady Yamato out here?"

    "Because I miss being out on the sea, and the Second Owner of Kyoto was kind enough to hide me from sight while I stretched my legs, so to speak," the tsukumogami said blandly. “I was born from a ship, after all.”

    "Ah." In her short existence, Pandora had not really interacted with many tsukumogami before, and so knew very little about what drove them, compared to most youkai. Kitsune, after all, were simply foxes that had lived long enough to gain some degree of sapience and magical power. Tsukumogami, on the other hand… "You were...a ship once?"

    "Once the flagship of Japan, yes,” Lady Yamato confirmed with a sigh. “And today I am an admiral."

    "I see."

    The three were silent for a while, or rather, the two kitsune were as Lady Yamato danced and leapt upon the waves, graceful and effortless, as if she was born to it.

    ‘Which she was, I suppose.’

    "You have a question, young Pandora?" Kaiduka asked eventually, knowing that the young kitsune must have some reason for coming out here.

    "Ah, my Master's lover was troubled by seeing several copies of Sajyou-san this morning," she explained, deciding to be up front with the elder youkai. “With one of them staring at my Master.”

    "Mm." The elder kitsune acknowledged. He was silent for some time, before he spoke, apparently changing the topic entirely. "What do you know of dragons, young one?"

    "Little, my lord."

    "You know only of the wyverns of the West then?" the messenger of Inari questioned, to which the kitsune in Zelkova’s form nodded. "Such beasts possess power, yet lack wisdom. They could not shed their mortal flesh and pass over to the Other Side, as there was nothing that could pass." Something like a sigh escaped the elder kitsune's lips. "Yet though the wise ones of the East passed over, much was left behind."

    "Left behind?"

    "In the art of the East, the great ones always held great jewels in their claw, though the names differed by culture – yeouiju. Tide Jewels. Cintamani. Dragon orbs. These things – of the great ones, but removed from them – did not pass over with them."

    "Orbs?” Pandora echoed, blinking, before realization hit. “Ah, balls like hoshi no tama?"

    "In a sense. It is said that creating such allowed the great ones to use their power safely in this world, that their overwhelming might need not be a force of devastation.” The elder kitsune seemed almost wistful as he related these things. “Such jewels are even said to be able to grant wishes for those less powerful, though they cannot do something like resurrect the dead.” There was a brief pause. “Well, not alone anyway."
    Then the elder kitsune chuckled.

    "If that is all, then tell your Master and her lover that there is no cause for worry, young one. My apprentice can handle herself, after all."

    Pandora, recognizing a dismissal when she heard one, bowed deeply.

    "As you say, my lord," she said, grateful to have been granted an audience by one so powerful, before heading back to shore, fading from sight as she approached.

    Strangely, only a couple of the Champions – Labelle, who felt like a spirit, and Ahgeak, who seemed to commune with a number around her – seemed to notice her arrival, with the latter even nodding to her, while the others were engrossed in their conversations and drinks.

    The African Champion, for example, was on one knee in front of the French girl who looked like an older version of her Master, offering up her a golden chalice filled with strange oddly shaped shards that shimmered with the colors of the rainbow.

    “If I am not being too forward, mi’lady,” Olu Akindele’s voice rumbled. “I offer you this cup, and the ingredients within – gathered from the depths of the isle itself.”

    “Vy?” the young woman questioned, her silver gaze fixing him to the spot. “I am a competitor to you, non? Vy give me a gift?”

    “…because I should have been faster to protect you when…” and here, Olu paused, glaring at the distant form of Mischa Stukov. “When that bastard tried to kill you. He had no right.”

    “Zere are few rules on ze island, Monsieur,” Lestrange commented quietly, her expression almost demure. “But Monsieur, should you not offer zis to Sophie. She is ze one who ‘as captured you, non?”

    “Um, that’s…” the young man looked away. “I…I thought she was you.”

    “I am not as tall as Sophie, Monsieur Akinele, nor as pretty as she.”

    “No…but then you’re not pretty at all,” Olu murmured, his voice husky with desire. “You’re beautiful. More so than anyone I’ve ever seen. And I…I…”

    “Oui?”

    “…this ingredient,” the youth said after some time. “It is something that I have only read about, only heard whispers of. Crystals formed of dreams and wishes, not some base mineral. An ingredient on the level of the fabled Thaumatagoria.”

    “And vy…”

    “Why do I offer it to you? Because mi’lady, you alone can grant my wishes, or destroy my dreams forever,” he whispered, meeting her eyes with his soulful gaze. “I know…I know…that you and Matou, that you – “
    “Matou and I are…friends, monsieur. No more.”

    “Wha—?”

    The African Champion’s eyes widened, his expression frantic.

    “But I…I saw him, saw him leaving—”

    “We needed a place to talk, Olu,” the French Champion said almost warmly. “Zat is all.”

    “Then…then nothing—"

    “Not of what you imagine, no.”

    Had the heavens opened and shone a light down on Olu at that very moment, he could not have glowed any brighter, nor have been filled with any more joy.

    “I…thank you, mi’lady, I…” he trailed off, unsure of what to say. “I, uh, we might die out there, you know.”

    “Oui?”

    “And well, after what nearly happened, I thought I should say…er, that is, if you want to, perhaps you might give me the honor—”

    “You vill live,” Lestrange’s fey voice interrupted him, with the young man looking up at her, before losing himself in the mysterious smile on her face. To him, it seemed dazzling, more dazzling than the light of the sun itself. “So, if you can, monsieur, save a dance for me after we both come back?”

    “Y-yes, of course,” the man whispered, offering her the chalice in his hands once more. “Please, take this. If only to help you safe.”

    “Merci beaucoup,” the French girl murmured as she accepted the cup, her slim fingers brushing his as she did so. “Rest well tonight, monsieur. You vill need it for ze morrow.”

    “Y-yes. And you as well.”

    So he called after her as she disappeared into the crowd, with Olu watching as she walked away.

    “Did my heart love till now?” he whispered to himself, as he rose, his heart pounding in his chest from how close she had been, from how she had brushed his fingers in taking the cup. “Forswear it, sight, for I ne'er saw true beauty till this night.”

    Pandora turned away, astounded that no one else had stumbled on the scene or interrupted – or at least, she was astounded until she noticed traces of prana from what seemed like runes dissolving away as Lestrange departed.

    ‘A bounded field…?’
    Curious.

    The other subject of interest her Master had designated was engaged in behavior that was rather less romantic, at least in as far as the word was used to refer to love and devotion, as the one he was whispering to was not some attractive young woman, but the portly Horace Slughorn, with the two of them discussing the fate of one particular Champion quite intensely.

    “Then we are agreed?” Slughorn was asking. “The Championship, in exchange for a certain task?”

    “Da.”

    “So long as you return the book to us afterwards, and give us a copy of the recipe you used,” the old Potions Master noted, “we don’t particularly care what you have to do to obtain…what you have to. Understood?”

    “Da.”

    The two shook hands, with Pandora having an uneasy feeling that her Master might want to know about this, but after a moment, thinking that it could wait, since her Master was finally spending some time with her lover.

    ‘I will find a chance to tell Master, when she is free. Until then, I would be a poor familiar to distract her.’




    So it was that only after a long night of talking, rambling, and enjoying the company of his young lover had passed did Matou Shinji learn about the conversations that had gone on at the reception, while he and Luna were standing on the balcony of his room, watching the sun beginning to creep towards the horizon.

    “I…Slughorn said that?” the boy said incredulously.

    “So, Pandora tells me.”

    “I knew he was upset at me but…”

    …wasn’t this pretty much an assassination attempt? What had he done that Slughorn wanted him dead? He’d only…

    ‘…well, ok, maybe I don’t have to think too hard about it.’

    “I didn’t expect this. If I’d been there…”

    “What could you have done?” Luna questioned, with Shinji stopping before launched into a tirade of self-recrimination. “All you can do is face what is still to come. The past is the past, and last night was…nice, in its own way, wasn’t it?”

    “I…well, yes,” the boy admitted as he squeezed her hand. “I…I needed it more than I realized.” He sighed, shaking his head. “Look, when I get back, let’s do something nice. Get away from the politics and wild adventures and everything. Let’s go somewhere. Together.”

    “I’d like that.”

    She smiled then, and seeing her expression, Matou Shinji thought that everything must finally be right with the world.

    “Shall I leave you to get ready?” Luna questioned, looking down. “The sun is rising, and you need to prepare. Or should we get ready together?”

    “…let’s do it together,” he replied, matching her smile with his. “I’m sure the environment would appreciate us saving some water and all, you know?”




    Whatever the reasons, though Matou Shinji found himself arriving at the arena just before he would have been disqualified for being a noshow, he had a rather soft smile on his face. The others had all gathered, of course, with some of the other Champions looking as if he really doesn't belong among them, others looking at him with expressions of studied neutrality, and perhaps one or two nodding to him.

    “Now that you are finally with us, Mister Matou,” Tomas was saying, as Shinji took his place among his colleagues. “It’s a good thing the start of this phase is a private affair, as opposed to being one for the press, or you would embarrass more than just yourself.”

    “Sorry,” the boy mumbled.”

    “Well, you’re here, so we can continue. Before you arrived, I had been discussing the safety precautions for the Championship. Namely, the emergency return portkey.”

    “Ah, the one that I can activate if I think I’m in over my head, or which can take me back to the village if I am knocked unconscious or grievously injured?”

    “Yes,” Tomas confirmed. “Then, will you be needing one?”

    “No,” Shinji responded immediately. “No, I don’t think so,” he repeated.

    “Excellent,” the automaton Tomas noted, marking this on a scroll he carried. “Since the others have already given me their responses, that takes care of everything I needed to know. With that said, please remember that the Centre takes no responsibility for any death, dismemberment, or disability incurred during the course of the competition, and that although this isle is not technically subject to the law of nations, your actions may be judged by your countries of origin.”

    Eleven nods. One from each Champion.

    “Wonderful.”
    The automaton gestured, as a section of the stage slid aside to reveal a rune-inscribed platform, glowing with swirls of power, and surrounded by what looked like roots.

    “In that case, if you would kindly step into the platform, we will scatter you across the island.”

    “…we’re not leaving through the gate, then?” Elesa Labelle spoke up, seemingly confused, though Shinji was all but certain it was an act.

    “No. In the interest of fairness, you will all be sent to random places on the island.”

    “Safe places?”

    “Safe is such a…relative word, isn’t it?” the puppet questioned, with the Champions exchanging a look among themselves.

    Some chuckled, while others shook their heads as they looked uneasily at the platform, which looked familiar, very familiar to Shinji, but wh—

    The boy nearly found himself on the ground, clutching his head as agony shot through his skull. He kept from screaming, barely, though his resolve was gravely tested when Lestrange’s slim hands took hold of his sleeve, steadying him until he could keep himself upright once more.

    “Mister Matou, if you find my presence unpleasant, perhaps you would like to go first?” Tomas inquired solicitously. “Just to show everyone that it is safe, no?”

    “…fine.”

    Shaking his head, the boy did as he was instructed, walking unsteadily to the platform, before stepping gingerly onto it.

    Only nothing happened.

    “Hey, wasn’t this supposed to se—”

    And then the boy disappeared mid-sentence, with a flash of light carrying him to somewhere far, far away.




    When he came to, the boy found himself laying on a platform of weathered stone, covered in runes that had nearly been worn away by the elements. From what he could tell, he was deep underground, with stone above him, water surrounding the platform, and faint, faint light coming from luminescent moss that grew all around the cavern.

    Down here, the air stirred, a chill passing through him as a thousand voices whispered in a thousand forgotten tongues.

    ‘…where the hell am I?’




    Choice 347: What does the boy do?[ ] Take Elixir of Fading - Shift into Spirit Form and find a way out
    [ ] Sit down on the platform and meditate - maybe he's in range of a flow ofuda he left behind - or one near one of the other Champions
    [ ] Strip down and try swimming - how bad could it be?
    [ ] (write-in)

    A/N: I'll be along with a Touko dojo soon.
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  5. #4265
    Ah Bad Ending...wonderful. Well it not like lethality of a blood pool area's doorway is surprising, so no complaints here. Just hate taking week plus of votes and starting over. Oh well, not like we really got anywhere.

    [X] Take Elixir of Fading - Shift into Spirit Form and find a way out.

    Still important to explore. Just maybe let's not explore towards a blood trail. I am not convince this platform is the best place to meditate, especially since we know that there is a Selma like creature near by.

  6. #4266
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    In fairness, it was possible to avoid the bad end, if you'd figured out what the mechanism and array did. Just casting a spell to open the door triggers a failsafe...
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  7. #4267
    [X] Take Elixir of Fading - Shift into Spirit Form and find a way out.

  8. #4268
    B-but I wanted to vote [x] No... Damn the railroading!

    Also, no Kariya's Worm Pit of Learning for us? Or at least Tohsaka's Miserable Apprenticeship? For shame, Alf.

    On a serious note, I don't see a reason not to retrace our steps a bit. We have managed to stumble upon a really nice mysterious ritual site of death, blood and despair. I love that stuff.

    [X] Take Elixir of Fading - Shift into Spirit Form and find a way out.

    Alf, can you make a vote to skip the next few steps?
    Last edited by Malorius; July 10th, 2018 at 12:53 PM.

  9. #4269
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malorius View Post
    Also, no Kariya's Worm Pit of Learning for us? Or at least Tohsaka's Miserable Apprenticeship? For shame, Alf.
    Rin will be having a nightmare about some things far far away very shortly. Thankfully, her Shinji hug pillow helps. A bit.

    But fine...

    Return to the ritual chamber?

    [ ] Yes
    [ ] No
    Last edited by alfheimwanderer; July 10th, 2018 at 03:14 PM.
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  10. #4270
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six Malgos's Avatar
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    If the votes lead to Shinji deciding to take the potion of fading again then yes, otherwise no.

    I'd prefer to meditate.

  11. #4271
    Hmm... I am rather iffy in returning to ritual chamber. It seems 'fresh' and i rather not tangle with zealous occultist or whatever they left behind.

    I am all in to skip to that point between following trail of blood and other 2 routes

  12. #4272
    The reasons not to throw ourselves at others are still valid.

    Also, adventure. How can you ignore it's call? Less annoyingly magnificent women with overarching allegiances, more mortal danger and inescapable despair.

    Priorities.

    [X] All of my yes! Back to the real bloodbath adventure

    But regarding this vital information... How decent is Shinji's image on the pillow, Alf? Is he even clothed? The public deserves to know!
    Last edited by Malorius; July 11th, 2018 at 02:19 PM.

  13. #4273
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Interlude. Nightmarish Visions

    Stars exploded in Tohsaka Rin’s vision as a blow to the head sent her sprawling, the weapon in her hands clattering to the ground and rolling away as her opponent walked over to her, the other’s silhouette looming heartlessly over the magus’ fallen form.

    “Ugh…” The groan escaped her lips involuntarily – and how could it not, when her entire body felt like one giant bruise? “I…” she began, before her voice failed her, as her throat was far too dry. “I…” Her opponent paused, waiting for her to finish what might be her last words. “No more,” she croaked, her body slow to respond to her will. “Please. No more.”

    “As you say, magus,” the other replied, in a voice as clear as a bell.

    Her opponent – a slim blonde girl wearing a pink and fuchsia Taisho-style Kimono, complemented with a hakama and long leather boots – lowered her weapon and leaned down to offer her a hand. Rin, for her part, blushed but took the other’s hand, as she didn’t think she’d be able to get up without help.

    ‘She’s…strong…’ was all the magus could think as her opponent pulled her unsteadily to her feet, letting her feel the power in her slim fingers and arms. ‘She beat me…so completely. Even when I resorted to using reinforcement to make myself faster and stronger...’

    Her every effort to seize victory from the jaws of defeat had been in vain.

    Every feint had been seen through.

    Every strike had been countered.

    Every opening she’d (unwittingly) left had been ruthlessly exploited, with the enemy’s shinai striking her over and over again without mercy, using enough force that, were it not for the healing abilities conferred by her Crest, she was sure that she would be black and blue all over.

    “You fought well, for your first time,” the blonde swordswoman commented gallantly, lifting her blade in a respectful salute.

    Rin herself could only groan, though she managed a nod towards the woman who had thrashed her so soundly.

    ‘She noticed that too, huh…?’ the Japanese magus sighed, managing to nod at Miss Drake as she limped over to retrieve her fallen weapon. ‘Ugh…if that’s how hard she can hit with a shinai – and how much mercy she shows, I’m glad I’ll never have reason to face her valiant, heartless figure on the battlefield with steel in her hands, no matter how beautiful she is.’

    She paused, frowning as she considered her choice of words.

    Not her thoughts on how beautiful the westerner was, though she couldn’t keep her cheeks from heating up as she thought about how gracefully the woman had moved, how her movements had been…perfect in a way the girl never seen before, and how much strength could be found in such a slim form.

    Not those on how powerful the other seemed, since Rin knew full well that her inexperience and being so recently overwhelmed might be leading her to misjudge her opponent, much as she had once held some misguided sense of pride in her own abilities before her…Master had made her aware of just how weak she was.

    Neither of those – but the part about facing her on a battlefield.

    ‘It’s not like she’ll be in the Holy Grail War or anything,’ the girl told herself, shaking her hand. ‘I mean, this swordswoman probably has no idea where Fuyuki even is on the map, if she’s from somewhere in the West.’

    “Ara, Tohsaka-san, is something the matter?” a voice interrupted her thoughts, with Rin glancing towards the door of the dojo to find a smiling Fujou Kohaku standing there. “Did you perhaps challenge Drake-sama?” the pinkette questioned, as the magus winced.

    “Something like that,” she said vaguely. “I needed the exercise,” Rin continued, making an excuse. While had recently become acquainted with how insignificant she was, and how talentless at magecraft, courtesy of her Master, being beaten in something purely physical by someone was…a novel, and frankly, fairly unwelcome experience.

    After all, growing up, she’d always excelled in sports, with the sports clubs of every school she’d attended trying their best to recruit her. She’d always declined, of course, given that time spent at practice would mean time away from magecraft, as well how her performance was due in part to her surreptitiously using reinforcement to boost herself beyond what her peers were capable of, no matter how much or how hard they practiced.

    It wouldn’t have been right for a fraud to stand on the same stage as someone who’d come honestly to their abilities through honest work, after all.

    “Perhaps you would be willing to help Kohaku with her lesson then, magus?” the cool voice of Asa Drake questioned, with Rin looking up, puzzled.

    “Eh? Help? With her lesson?” the Japanese magus repeated.

    How could someone who had just picked up a sword for the first time only a few minutes ago possibly help teach someone else? Especially an older girl who had already been taking lessons for a time.

    “Yes,” the blonde confirmed. “I believe that at this point, it would be more proactive for her to face someone with a different combat style than mine, especially as you are capable of varying your speed and strength.”

    “Huh.” Rin took a moment to digest that. “You’re training her to fight against magi?” she questioned, raising an eyebrow.

    “Or other supernatural beings,” Asa Drake noted, with Rin grimacing at how she’d jumped to conclusions. “Your use of reinforcement was splendid, magus.”

    “Ah. Y-you think so?” Rin questioned, shocked that her abilities had been praised by someone for the first time in a long while.

    “Yes,” the swordswoman confirmed. “You may use other – non-lethal – techniques as well, if you wish. But if you are too tired or would prefer just to watch, I understand,” she noted, observing how haggard the Japanese magus seemed.

    “No! No, I would be happy to help!” the Japanese magus exclaimed, almost jumping up in excitement, only to nearly fall over as her muscles howled in protest. “Ow…”

    “…perhaps you could start with helping Kohaku practice her evasion?”

    Rin swore she saw the pinkette’s smile slip out of the corner of her eye, but when she looked over at the older girl, the kimono-clad Fujou’s expression was intact.

    “...at least it won’t be swords this time,” she thought she heard the other mutter, though she dismissed that as her hearing things.

    After all, it wasn’t as if anyone reasonable would throw swords across a battlefield.

    Arrows, she could perhaps see in this day and age, but swords?

    ‘Psh. No one would do something that absurd.’




    For Tohsaka Rin, ending up at the Fujou estate in Kyoto and encountering the swordswoman who called herself Asa Drake was not something she could have anticipated in a thousand years.

    Oh, she’d known since before the winter holidays that she would be heading back to Japan for a while, given both Aozaki Touko, the puppeteer who served as her Master, and Professor Lev, who oversaw her instruction during her Master’s frequent absences, would be out of the country on business. Exactly what sort of business she hadn’t bothered to ask about, as she figured it was none of hers, and their being away meant she had time to spend on other concerns.

    Namely, finishing her Mystic Code and dealing with various matters surrounding her role as Second Owner of Fuyuki.

    —or rather, preventing her Ownership from being challenged by ambitious magi who lacked spiritual lands of their own to administer, on the grounds that as an absentee Owner who left her territory without an appointed representative to oversee things in her stead, she had effectively abandoned her claim to it.

    (Before she’d left, she’d assigned temporary Second Ownership to Matou Zouken to prevent this very turn of events, but in the wake of his assassination by the Einzbern, followed by the fake priest being recalled to Rome, meaning that there was no one from the Moonlit World even in nominal charge of the city. And without some sort of supervision, who knew what Japan’s native supernatural elements, rogue magi who happened to be passing through, or whoever else might get up to?)

    So, one very long and circuitous flight later, the young magus had found herself back in Japan – back in Fuyuki City – where she’d been hit by a powerful sense of nostalgia and relief.

    Shinto – the commercial district – seemed much the same as ever, just as when she’d left, with its assortment of buildings, people, and streets. A veneer of polished modernity atop the ruins of the past, following the devastation of the Fourth Grail War.

    Though more than those things, it was the intangibles that touched her:

    The language being spoken around her – and that on all the signs – was Japanese, not English, with all its quirk and particularities.

    When people passed her on the street, they didn’t look at her as if she was anything out of the ordinary, as opposed to how she was treated nearly every day as an Easterner studying at the Tower.

    The culture was one she knew, could touch, was part of – here she wasn’t an outsider looking in, or at least, not as much of one.

    Perhaps that hint of nostalgia was why she’d found her footsteps carrying her to the small chapel on the hill, even though she knew that the fake priest wouldn’t be there. Idly, she wondered if the Church had sent a replacement for him, though that notion was disabused when she’d arrived at the chapel – and found it locked.

    ‘And to think I almost miss him being a terrible person.’

    Standing before the doors of the chapel, she’d remembered being made to attend services every week (and during holidays), with the fake priest’s words often causing his parishioners to breakdown in tears – for which they’d thanked him. She’d remembered learning how to cook Chinese food from him, with the man never having a word of praise for her, just a slowly decreasing pile of complaints until the glorious day he’d finally pronounced her Mapo Tofu acceptable enough.

    ‘But those days are long gone.’

    Well, perhaps a year or two gone, but for someone her age, even a year was quite a length of time.

    One year ago, she’d just arrived in London, unsure of what to expect, intimidated and dazzled by everything and everyone around her.

    And now she’d returned to in Fuyuki, with her British adventure (if one could call it that) seeming a world away, both the fleeting moments of joy it had brought her, as well as the deep-rooted frustration of never being good enough. Here, she was Second Owner. Here, especially in the absence of the Church and any rival magi, she was the authority.

    ‘I should be happy about this, shouldn’t I?’

    But she hadn’t been, and as she’d mused about why that might have been, she’d let her feet carry her back down the hill and through Shinto towards the great bridge leading back to Miyama Town, where her mansion waited.

    ‘What kind of shape is it in? I haven’t been to it in over a year, and I’m not sure when was the last time the fake priest came over.’

    She’d have to clean, she supposed, or work to make it habitable again somehow.

    As she’d walked, her footsteps had carried into the park at the center of Shinto, with the girl stiffening as she braced herself for the unclean sensation she’d often felt when passing through here.

    Only…she’d felt nothing, and when she’d paused to look around, she saw children playing, and older people out on a walk.

    ‘…what?’ She’d blinked, her mind unable to comprehend the sight before her. ‘This…the park has never been like this.’

    How could things have changed so much in just a year? This park had never attracted people to it, given the grudges gathered there after so many died there during the Fourth War, yet now, it was if all that had been forgotten.

    ‘Someone came through here.’

    She’d been certain of that, though not knowing who it was, what they’d done, or why, left her wary, her senses keen to seek out any other unexpected changes, no matter how small.
    But she didn’t see any, not in the rest of Shinto, not in Miyama Town. She’d known from one of the priest’s letters that the Matou estate had been leveled, after all, so while the sight inspired a surge of grief in her heart, it did little else.

    Tired after her travels and her wandering about the city, the girl had returned home, only to stop cold when she reached the front door, as there had been an origami crane sitting in front of her door, full of prana. The little shikigami had unfolded itself as she drew near, revealing a formally penned letter welcoming her back to Japan, with the gist of the message being that the author of the letter would be along on the morrow to pay their respects to the Second Owner of Fuyuki and provide her with an assessment of the spiritual land’s current state.

    Tohsaka Rin had not slept particularly well that night, partially due to jet leg, partially because she didn’t know who would be visiting her, only that whoever it was, they had apparently been watching her closely enough to know who she was, where she lived, and that she was out of the country. Not to mention that by presuming to present her with an assessment of the land’s state, they were effectively claiming that they had administered the duties of the Second Owner in her absence, and well, possession was nine-tenths of the law.

    That night, she’d dreamed of battle, of an army of storybook goblins rampaging through the streets of a city she didn’t recognize, metal whirring as silvered weapons sliced through the air, biting into the flesh of wolves and giants, with people – humans – screaming as they were caught in the middle.

    Trampled. Burned. Slaughtered by this clash of monstrous beasts.

    Stress. Just stress, she’d told herself when she’d woken up, jump starting her mind with a mug or two of coffee so thick with sugar the stirring spoon stood upright in it.

    And then she’d waited.

    And waited.

    And waited some more, until shortly before noon, a hooded figure arrived at her door, seeming the very picture of some foul necromancer or black mage.

    She’d steeled herself for battle, clutching a brace of gems in her hand as she went to answer the door…only the moment she did, she’d found herself unable to move, stunned to stillness by a pair of bright amber-colored eyes and the beauty of the face they were set in.

    That was her first meeting with Fujou Kohaku, a practitioner of the Eastern Arts who not only had apparently been involved with whatever had happened in the park, but was well acquainted with a certain Matou Shinji, speaking of him as her family’s benefactor.

    Apparently, due to some great service he’d done for the head of the family, he had been offered a boon, with the boy refusing wealth or power, only asking they lend their aid to her.

    “W-w-why?” Rin had asked, utterly baffled by this. “And what did he do to earn something like that?”

    A good set of questions, those. Why would a powerful family need Matou’s help – and why would he give up some grand reward for her sake?

    …unless perhaps, he really did intend to marry her one day?

    “Fufufu.” Kohaku had chuckled, but said little, with a hint of amusement in her eyes as she took in Rin’s confusion. “You will have to meet Kirie-sama and Shiroe-sama, if you wish to know that.”

    “Ah.”

    “Fufu, incidentally, Tohsaka-san, they wish to meet with you as well.”

    The pinkette had proceeded to invite her to the Fujou estate in Kyoto, and Rin, seeing little choice but to do as the older girl said, had agreed, hoping that things wouldn’t turn out too terribly, and that this wasn’t the beginning of some eastern plot to strip her of her status.

    ‘If it is, I’ll fight.’

    Happily, for all parties involved, it hadn’t.




    Which brought things to the present, where the magus stood at one side of the dojo, launching a storm of gandr bullets towards Fujou Kohaku, who Rin found could both dodge the compressed curses and cut them apart with her blade.

    ‘What.’

    That…such a thing, shouldn’t be possible, and yet it was happening before her eyes.

    ‘How—’

    But she was unable to finish the thought, as she threw herself to the side as a trio of cursed fireballs tore through the space her head had once occupied.

    She launched another wave of gandr shots, redoubling both the quantity and the power she poured into each.

    ‘If she’s going to stand in as Second Owner while I’m gone, she’ll have to beat me first!’

    That had been one of the conditions she negotiated with the Fujou family – that one of their number would handle the duties of Second Owner while she was away, without seeking to claim her spiritual land for themselves, or any other sort of competition, and that the person selected must be able to beat her in a duel, since neither Kirie nor Shiroe had expressed an interest in it.

    ‘They’re probably going to have Kohaku do it, aren’t they?’

    The idea that they thought that her duties were something that one of their underlings could handle so easily rather rankled, and so she’d vowed that when the time came to duel whoever they put before her, she would do whatever it took to test them and make sure they were worthy.

    Her pride demanded no less.

    …which was why seeing the pinkette advance into the hail of curses she was hurling forth without so much as a trace of fear or unease unnerved her, especially as the other’s blade flashed again and again, disrupting her spells.

    ‘This can’t be…’

    Yet it was happening before her eyes. A second-rate eastern practitioner armed only with a wooden sword was facing down a magus and winning.

    ‘…Master was right. I overestimated myself…’

    The pinkette broke through to melee range, the wooden sword arcing down at her with enough force to break bone – only for Rin to barely, just barely, block the weapon with speed born of desperation.

    This Kohaku didn’t move as quickly or as surely as Drake, but she moved as precisely as a machine, for all that, every blow measured, every strike calculated to strain her opponent’s body as much as possible.

    ‘I should be stronger…’

    She was using reinforcement, after all, speeding up her reaction time, strength, twitch speed, and yet the truth was, when it came to wielding a blade, a complete novice, no matter how excellent her physical abilities, would find it difficult to face someone long practiced in the art. If this was simple hand-to-hand combat, Rin was certain that she could win quickly and decisively, but with this…

    ‘How is she doing this? Any of this?’

    Granted, this wasn’t properly a duel, with Rin officially just helping Kohaku practice her sword arts, yet it had the feeling of one, and given that she was already winded and sore and—

    “Men!”

    Stars exploded in Tohsaka Rin’s vision as her opponent landed a crushing blow to her (thankfully covered) head, with the shinai falling from her fingers as she slumped to the ground, and everything finally, mercifully, went dark.




    ‘This dream again…’

    When she opened her eyes, the young magus found herself trapped once more in the nightmare she’d seen last night. A nightmare where Matou Shinji, having already lost an arm and a leg in a vicious battle, was forced to press on despite his injuries.
    In her dream, he couldn’t see her, and she could only watch as he acted, rushing in recklessly when caution was called for, throwing himself at danger upon danger, until at last he could no longer defy the odds.

    Once in her dreams, he’d died from falling from a great height, his head bursting open like an over-ripe fruit as flesh and bone met unyielding rock.

    Once, he’d been ripped to pieces, with the pieces incinerated by some great monster that she couldn’t find the words to describe.

    Once, he’d been petrified by a magus, with the resulting statue shattered by a titanic blow.

    And in this dream…

    ‘No…’

    In this dream, the boy was standing upon a platform of weathered stone, covered in runes that have nearly been worn away by the elements. From what he can tell, he was deep underground, with stone above him and water all around, and faint, faint light coming from luminescent moss. The air stirred all around him, a chill passing through him as a thousand voices were whispering in a thousand forgotten tongues.

    'Where am I?' What is this place?’ he seemed to wonder, to her eyes, as he squinted, his expression one of puzzlement and concern. 'I can’t see. I can’t see anything.’

    She waited for him to call upon his familiar, or create a light of some kind with the wand he carried, yet the boy did none of that.

    ‘Did something happen? Did he lose the nature spirit somehow?’

    For that matter, why didn’t he just use his ofuda to freeze the water and make a path for himself?

    …unless there was something in the water?

    Before she could consider things in more detail, the boy seemed to materialize some great shield on his arm – and where she had the idea that he had one of those, she didn’t know – perhaps it was because it fit her image of a knight? – and hefted it, looking at something on its back.

    It seemed to show him something, perhaps that there was something under the water, if his glance down at the water was any clue, though she wasn’t sure, as she wasn’t standing in the right place to tell, and it wasn’t as if she could view things from another angle.

    The next moment, she saw the shield vanish, with the boy bringing a vial of some sort to his lips and downing the contents. His form faded shortly thereafter, and the world with it, with her seeing what looked like spirits all about – some humanoid, some of alien and eldritch dimensions, some no more than shimmering balls of light, glowing silver in the darkness.

    And more, she could hear whispers, murmurs, a torrent of half-words and broken thoughts rambled in forgotten tongues.

    Escape.

    ‘Escape, Matou!’ she willed, and for once, the boy seemed to obey, throwing his spectral form into the dark waters, where the voices ceased to babble.

    Yet in the darkness, greater horrors awaited, with a massive form of sinews and teeth swimming by the boy’s spectral form.

    ‘A…a dragon?’

    Could it be? Why was she dreaming of such a thing?

    She didn’t know, and tried to put it out of her mind as she saw his faintly glowing form move slowly through the water, towards what seemed to be a channel of some sort, heading into it and up.

    Up he went, and up she followed, up into darkness, up into gloom, with the water rich with prana – filled to bursting with it all around them.

    ‘Where is this, even…?’

    After some time, she didn’t know how long, they reached the end of the winding tunnel, emerging into an underwater reservoir into which water flowed from hundreds of tiny cracks and crevices through which water flowed, each different in the level of prana they carried, some of which seemed pure – some of which seemed somehow tainted – somehow.

    Water flowed out too, through the tunnel from whence they had come and an outflow channel on the other side, but the boy didn’t seem interested in going down again.

    Instead, Rin watched as he made his way towards one of the tainted crevices, his face taking on a slack expression as he neared it, because of—

    A song.

    She could hear it, singing to him, calling to him to surrender his essence to it, and could only look on in horror as he followed, like a rat led on by the Pied Piper, willing his spirit through the treacherous cracks it seeped through. Onward he pressed, onwards, onwards, the song growing ever stronger until he was surrounded by it.

    She was looking from above now, and her stomach fell as she realized that Matou-kun had somehow stumbled into

    'Blood. A pool of blood...'

    A crimson liquid rich with prana, which sang a seductive melody, inviting him to simply materialize and bathe himself in it.
    Rin found herself reminded of the legend of Sigurd, after all, and how the slayer of Fafnir gained invulnerability from bathing in the true dragon's blood. And yet...she didn’t think the outcome would be the same if Shinji were to immerse himself in this.

    Somehow, the boy managed to resist, emerging from the pool and looking around at the chamber in which it was located.

    A chamber covered with runes and odd writings, seeming to glow with hidden power.

    “ARGHHHHHHHHH!”

    She heard him scream then, and tried to move towards him, only to remember too late that she could not – that this was a dream.

    Matou – this vision of Matou – collapsed to the ground, his body flickering in and out of spirit form as he writhed and twisted, distorting as his agony laced his voice. How long it lasted, she didn’t know, only that it seemed like a small eternity, with the boy all but begging for someone to help him, and her only being able to watch as he suffered.

    Being unable to help, being unable to do anything – it felt like someone had stabbed her, run her through, countless times, as if all those voices about how powerless and weak she was had been right along.

    Eventually though, the screaming stopped, with the boy mumbling something and getting up slowly, his physical and spiritual forms much the worse for wear.

    He turned towards the door, pointing his wand at it, saying "Alohomora" or some such, and to her surprise, the door opened, and—

    A wave of light spilled forth, coruscating, brilliant, blinding, searing away everything - mind and spirit alike – and when it was gone, there was no trace that Matou Shinji had ever existed to begin with.

    “No…” Rin whispered, her eyes wide as this nightmare sequence played out once more before her eyes. She’d seen it this morning – which was why she’d challenged the blonde swordswoman in the dojo to a match, since she wanted something to get her mind off what she’d seen, and now she saw it again, saw Matou-kun die, saw, saw—

    “NOOOOOOOOOO!”




    “NOOOOOOOOOO!”

    Tohsaka Rin woke screaming, bolting upright as she glanced around, her breathing and expression completely out of control.

    ‘Why? Why am I seeing these things?’

    As if it wasn’t bad enough that people told her she wasn’t good enough, did her own mind have to try and tell her that she would never be able to stand at Matou’s side, that all she would be able to do was watch helplessly as he did daring deeds, and one day…died?

    ‘No…no…nononononononono!’

    The girl flinched as a thermos was pushed into her hands, her head jerking up as she noticed that someone had been sitting beside her bed.

    ‘A…girl?’ she observed numbly, her thoughts slow to react. ‘About my age?’

    No, a bit older, but…

    “Drink,” the other told her, and so she did, because having something to do distracted her from those…from seeing…

    She swallowed, and as she did, her emotions leveled off.

    ‘Huh…’

    “Calming draught,” the girl beside her explained, with Rin noting that she was a pale, refined beauty, with lustrous black hair that fell to her waist and amber-colored eyes. And unlike the others at the Fujou compound, she was not dressed in traditional Japanese clothing, but was wearing robes of blue and black. “I find it helps after nightmares.”

    “Who…?”

    “Tsuji Miyuki,” the other spoke, her voice regal and clear as a bell as she regarded the Second Owner of Fuyuki impassively. “Written with the kanji for ‘crossroads’ and ‘beautiful snow.’”

    “Ah.” Rin took a deep breath, shaking her head. “I am Tohsaka Rin.”

    “As in ‘cold, distant hill?’” the other girl asked.

    “…yes, actually.” Rin was silent for a moment, not having expected the other to discern the kanji so easily. “You are not of the Fujou family.”

    “Indeed.”

    “…so why are you…” But the magus didn’t finish her sentence, thinking it would be rude.

    “I was by your bedside because I volunteered. Miss Drake mentioned that you seemed troubled by something, and people apparently find me to be a good listener,” the other offered, the corners of her lips tugging up ever so slightly. “So, if you wish to speak of your worries, or perhaps, practice your English, as a fellow returnee from Britain…”

    “No, I think I would prefer Japanese,” Rin cut in quickly. She’d had enough of English for a while now. “And I’m not one to share my troubles either.”
    “Fair enough.”

    Though… “You said Tsuji, just now.”

    “Yes.”

    “As in…that Tsuji?”

    “You mean as in the Tsuji conglomerate?” the amber-eyed girl asked, with Rin nodding warily. “Yes. I will be inheriting the family holdings when I come of age.”

    “Then—”

    “As for why I am at the Fujou estate, is it not normal to visit one’s fiancé?”

    “Oh.” Rin blinked, her face going slack with realization. “Wait, your fiancé? You can’t be much older than I am.”

    The other gave her a measuring look.

    “I am not, but such matters are not your concern, Tohsaka-san,” Tsuji Miyuki rebuked her gently.

    “Sorry.”

    “Do not be. We all have our troubles, and things we can and cannot do.”

    Tohsaka Rin was silent for more than a minute before she found something to say.

    “You said you were in Britain,” she noted eventually.

    “Yes.”

    “…by any chance, were you at Hogwarts?” Rin asked, hoping that perhaps this strange might be able to shed some light on Matou’s odd adventures, and the life he lived that she did not know.

    “I was.”

    “What was it like?”

    Tsuji Miyuki chuckled.

    “Now that, Tohsaka-san, is a rather long story.”

    “…I have time.”




    Choice 347: Matou Shinji is standing on the platform in the great cavern...what should he do?

    [ ] Repeat the choices of branch 2, until he arrives at the chamber with the pool of blood
    [ ] Go into spirit form and head towards the sea
    [ ] Use his wand to create a path of ice over the water to the shore - and the tunnel likely there
    [ ] Sit down on the platform and meditate
    [ ] (Write-in)
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  14. #4274
    Oh...rin, you raise so many flags and is that rin's talent in 2nd magic showing up? I wonder what connect the two of them that rin is seeing shinji's bad ends.

    [X] Repeat the choices of branch 2, but follows the ourflows.
    Last edited by sileaf; July 13th, 2018 at 02:52 AM.

  15. #4275
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sileaf View Post
    Oh...rin, you raise so many flags and is that rin's talent in 2nd magic showing up? I wonder what connect the two of them that rin is seeing shinji's bad ends.
    Well, it wasn't exactly the same as the bad end. Maybe a nightmare is just a nightmare...
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  16. #4276
    *Alf whistles innocently*

    Suuuuure. Now that we have confirmation that Tohsaka's Educational Torture's connection to Shinji's Bad Ends is indeed a thing, that's something to look out for. I am watching you Alf.

    The mystery of dakimakura remains, however.

    [x] Repeat the choices of branch 2, until he arrives at the chamber with the pool of blood

    Come on guys, what's a little true death before the grand possibility of exploring the Darkest Dungeon?
    Last edited by Malorius; July 12th, 2018 at 04:10 PM.

  17. #4277
    [X] Use his wand to create a path of ice over the water to the shore - and the tunnel likely there

    Blood pool is great and all...if you want to die again. Maybe you won't but I rather just get somewhere safe, get Zel awake and then look for a way out. If I can do that without wasting the fading potion, even better.

    I am willing to try the dangerous ice bridge.

  18. #4278
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malorius View Post
    Come on guys, what's a little true death before the grand possibility of exploring the Darkest Dungeon?
    I'm not sure Shinji having a little death during his explorations of this dungeon is entirely appropriate. Maybe if this was Rin's fantasy world or something.
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  19. #4279
    Had you planned Miyuki-senpai being here for quite a while, or did you decide to use her since you'd already created her for the AU? Just wondering how fleshed out the world is beyond what we see.

    [X] Repeat the choices of branch 2, until he arrives at the chamber with the pool of blood


    We're here to explore the island and find out its secrets, after all. What's a little danger, compared to what Sion asked of us?
    Last edited by apsalar; July 13th, 2018 at 03:06 AM.

  20. #4280
    . . . A little danger? Surely you jest, shinji just got killed there.

    The isle has more than that chamber, i think, so i prefer to go and look at what else is out there than wasting time and resources and chancing getting wounded so early.

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