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

  1. #3361
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neophyte View Post
    Erm... Could we do all this as a single choice? Well, if such a cheat combo is possible, I'll second this.
    I'd recommend choosing two of the things in there, not all three. If you say to use fusion + release the charge, Shinji will interpret what you mean from there. He does have Felix up, after all!
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  2. #3362
    Changing vote as discussed [x] Fusion & Charge.

  3. #3363
    Two things it is [x] Fusion & Charge





  4. #3364
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Choice 230: [x] Fusion and Stored Charge




    Choice 231: In the end, there is only one choice that the boy thinks will give him a fighting chance to do more than simply survive this encounter, and that means using his trump card - Fusion. Despite having often fused in desperate situations, however, this time is more difficult, as he had to keep the staff between him and his enemy even as he transforms, lest the astral form of Zelkova take damage from the ebon flames.

    Normally, he was able to focus on fusing, and nothing else besides, but that wasn't an option this time.

    'It's like I'm facing Fiendfyre, but worse. Whatever this is, it is even more deadly to things of spirit...'

    Which meant that fusion wouldn't be the absolute protection he was used to, though with a beast like this, maybe defense wasn't an option. After all, in addition to its fiery breath, it also boasted monstrous claws and a barbed tail, the tip of which gleamed with something he was sure he didn't want touching him.

    So amidst the noise and destruction, the boy found his center, descending into his mind and opening the door that separated himself from the world, feeling Zelkova's power and thoughts flow into him, feeling the world itself flow into him, carrying to him the whispering of the stone, the weight of his enemy, the sheer power and heat of the cursed flames turning the rock before him to bubbling slag.

    The heat...made it stronger, was healing it of its injuries.

    '...Elemental absorption. The longer I just try and hold it off, the stronger it becomes. If I'm not careful, it will--'

    It lunged then, its fiery breath giving out as it sprang at him, claws glowing with molten power as it struck out at him. The boy had just begun to interpose his staff - now scythe - as a defense, when he realized that actually, he wasn't the target.

    His staff was, as if the Chimera recognized the glowing weapon as an existential threat.

    'It must be sensing the Chimera scales embedded in it, or just recognizing how I'm able to defend against its flames through Absorption - the very ability it uses.'


    Its claws - wreathed in corrupted prana - slammed forward and down, the sheer momentum of the beast staggering the boy from the east, even in his fusion form, forcing him to his knees as it brought up its barbed, armored tail.

    'Oh...shit...' the boy thought out, his enhanced senses allowing him to see the tail come at him almost in slow motion, though there was no way he could avoid it - not without letting go of his staff, and if he did that, he wouldn't be able to stop its fiery followup. 'I can't...'

    There was no way, no way, he could see that...

    'Wait.'

    Time stood still as his mind accelerated, his thoughts racing into the past and leaving the present behind, reaching, recalling something he'd been told long ago. Something he'd been taught. Something he'd been shown.

    It was there, in the tangle of his memories, if only he could--

    'Yes!'

    His eyes opened wide as he grasped it, traced the patterns that would allow him to steal victory from the jaws of defeat.

    'Release,' he intoned, dumping the fullness of the power that the staff had drained into one titanic strike, an acrid, hissing darkness spilling out of it and pouring over the chimera in a corrupted torrent of black rain.

    The beast howled. Screamed. Roared, as the water tore at it, searing it, ripping at its prana - at its very spirit. Any lesser creature would have been destroyed in that malestrom as its spirit was torn asunder, but this one was old and refused to die, even as its fur blackened, its eyes and nose blistered, the corrupted prana sheathing its claws and tail being leeched away to fuel the strike.

    And so it struck back, releasing a gout of corrupted fire not at its assailant, but at the torrent of corrupt water, flashing the liquid into superheated steam. Some of it continued towards the beast, which took less damage from that than water alone, but some - the merest dregs - blew back towards the fusion user, ripping into his skin as he too, screamed, his vision going white from pain.

    '...no, not just from pain,'
    some distant part of his mind told him. 'Everything did turn white.'

    When he returned to awareness some moments later, the boy - still in fusion form - was laid out on his arse, his ears ringing and his vision still spotty.

    The chimera though, was dead, torn apart lengthwise, the two halves of its blackened carcass smoldering upon a stone that had been turned to glass.

    'What on earth?'

    "Are you alright, Matou?" a voice spoke from beside him, with the boy looking up to see what he initially thought was an angel or powerful spirit, before realizing that this beauty, a blonde whose glowing form was wreathed in crackling arcs of azure lightning, was in fact his companion. "Confronting a phantasmal beast in melee is not exactly recommended, after all, even if you have a...secondary form."

    She offered him a hand, but he shook his head. Instead, he propped himself up with the haft of his scythe, using that to help him find his footing.

    "You...was that...fusion? Or...something?" Shinji managed, looking uneasily between her and the defeated chimera. 'Did she...did she rip it apart with a spear of lightning, or something?''

    That would explain why the world had gone white, given that he, like his...less fortunate opponent, would have effectively been at ground zero of the blast. Fortunately, the earth element in his fusion form resisted lightning damage, else...

    'That would have been very bad...'

    "Not quite. Just a temporary release of certain imposed limits," the other explained matter-of-factly. "I can use something like a familiar to help facilitate this, but it is not, strictly speaking, required."

    The young woman shook her head.

    "You are relatively unharmed, Matou?" Shinji merely nodded. "Good. How long can you maintain your fusion?" she asked evenly. "I would prefer not to use my own...heightened abilities for longer than necessary, given that like draws like, and here, in a place dating from the Age of Gods, that could well be...counter-productive."

    "Several hours," Shinji stated, shaking his head and wincing as he felt a twinge of pain - something he was not all used to in fusion form. "After that, I'll need to rest. The concentration needed..."

    "Ah, I see. You have not yet moved beyond dealing with desynchronization?" the other questioned, raising a slim eyebrow. "Your...colleague does not share that issue."

    "...Sajyou-san is also on a whole other level compared to someone like me," Shinji admitted, ducking his head. "Besides, I'm inexperienced, so please take care of me, senpai." He added this last bit impishly, though the other was not quite amused.

    "I'm no one's senpai, Matou," the other replied dryly. "And down here, none of that matters worth a whit anyway, so don't get yourself killed on my account. I can take care of myself, you know. As you should. If you can't, you have no business in this plae."

    "...I know," Shinji voiced, nodding his head with a heavy sigh. "I know. Shall we continue then?"

    The other grunted as she reverted mostly back to her original form, the glow - and the majority of the lightning - fading from around her, though a few azure sparks remained.

    "Indeed we shall," his companion commented, gesturing the Japanese boy forward as a warm golden light enveloped him, knitting his wounds and easing his pains. "After you - you're the one who is a walking tank, after all."

    Shinji shook his head.

    "...fair enough," he allowed. "Just try not to fry me next time, senpai."

    "Heh. No guarantees, Matou," the other replied, as they began walking. "Oh, yes, I nearly forgot."

    "What is it?"

    "That final strike of yours."

    "Yes?"

    "You somehow managed to corrupt the chimera's elemental affinity, changing its alignment to water. An impressive feat, that, and one which certainly made the beast quite a bit easier to kill."

    "...one tries."

    The dream faded after that, with Matou Shinji waking up in a room he recognized as one in Mahoutokoro. The mingled scents of buttermilk and bacon hung in the air, suggesting both that breakfast was being cooked, and that the person cooking was not Shiroe or one of the other Fujous.

    'Luna, probably, though I suppose Kohaku could be there as well.'

    Through the window in the corner, he could see that the sun - or what passed for it here in the City Under Earth - was already high in the sky. How long had he been sleeping? Obviously longer than usual, since he hadn't woken up early to train - and hadn't been woken up when Luna had left his side, if the now-cold indentation on the bed next to him was any indication.

    'What was that dream?' he wondered. 'It felt so...real.'

    Many of his dreams had been since sometime last year, though he didn't know why, or really, what he was seeing. When he'd talked to Illya at Christmas last year, she had suggested that he was seeing events taking place somewhere else or through the eyes of someone else, given that the things he was seeing hadn't been from his point of view. But this time, and a few times before, had been different.

    There had been one where he fought alongside goblins in the streets of what looked like Hogsmeade, with Tohsaka by his side, as they opposed practitioners of witchcraft in rust-colored robes.

    There had been one where he'd...found himself wounded and nigh paralyzed after a battle - apparently one in which he'd been hit by a spell that had induced hypothermia. Tohsaka had been there as well, enthusiastically - if somewhat embarrassingly - offering to warm him via simple skin to skin.

    There had been one where he had been fighting a terrible beast of claws and fur and whirling steel, where in the face of terrible odds, he managed to overcome his foe, only to be consumed by a darkness that exploded from within its corpse. .

    And then there was this dream, where he found himself fighting beside an odd companion who referenced the Age of Gods, who used something like Fusion, and had killed a Chimera with one attack. Whoever this was, it certainly wasn't Luna, so he was left wondering who was she? Where was this? When was this?

    What could it all mean?

    Whatever it did, he needed to get up. He'd spent too much time asleep already, and there was little enough time before he needed to return to Hogwarts.

    Still, maybe a walk before breakfast would clear his mind. Or maybe he could spend some time with Luna in the kitchens, provided she wasn't already sharing it with someone else. Or he could take a cold shower, or something. Something to clear the fog in his mind, and brush away the strange sense that there was something there, just out of reach.

    What does Matou Shinji do? (choose one)

    [ ] Take a walk outside and enjoy the fresh air
    [ ] Go visit The Dust Pile
    [ ] Join Luna in the kitchens
    [ ] Take a shower
    [ ] Chat with Zelkova
    Last edited by alfheimwanderer; November 15th, 2017 at 02:29 AM.

  5. #3365
    [x] Go visit The Dust Pile

  6. #3366
    [x] Go visit The Dust Pile

  7. #3367
    (Newcomer to participating in the quest via vote)

    The Dust Pile seems potentially useful, but I'm not sure it's the best option. Personally, my vote is for chatting with Zelkova - maintaining and/or improving the relationship with Zelkova seems good, given how much he's helped.

  8. #3368
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shade of Tyranny View Post
    (Newcomer to participating in the quest via vote)
    Welcome! It's great to have new people coming in and (hopefully) enjoying the story that we're writing together. It's been an interesting few years so far, with this year being perhaps the most serious of all - or at least, the voters have the most direct influence over what Shinji does and learns, since the usual rails of being a Hogwarts student are largely removed with his appointment as Potions Champion. With the massacre at the Cup, Britain's response, and tensions mounting at home and abroad, it is a tense time for Matou Shinji and those around him. And with the goblins on the verge of another uprising next year, who knows what is still to come?

    If you have questions, comments, or other such, please do let me know, either in the thread, or on IRC. I'm usually on the #fatehg channel on IRCHighway.net, and am more than happy to answer what questions I can.

    Thanks for joining us!

  9. #3369
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alfheimwanderer View Post
    Choice 230: [X] (write-in)
    . . . It doesn't actually matter what he chooses to do, since Felix will make sure he makes the right choice, regardless?



    Quote Originally Posted by alfheimwanderer View Post
    Choice 231: In the end, there is only one choice that the boy thinks will give him a fighting chance to do more than simply survive this encounter, and that means using his trump card - Fusion. Most often he has fused in desperate situations, when he is knocked down with the enemy upon him, or when he has to focus on nothing else, but this time is different, as he must keep the staff between him and his enemy even as he transforms, lest the astral form of Zelkova take damage from the ebon flames.

    [ ] Take a walk outside and enjoy the fresh air
    [ ] Go visit The Dust Pile
    [ ] Join Luna in the kitchens
    [ ] Take a shower
    [X] Chat with Zelkova
    He is Shinji's familiar, and that sort of thing is a familiar's bailiwick.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




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

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette

  10. #3370
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran View Post
    . . . It doesn't actually matter what he chooses to do, since Felix will make sure he makes the right choice, regardless?
    Well, it certainly doesn't hurt, no. Felix is quite powerful - though, of course, the ability to make the right choices may not be a buff that lasts particularly long, depending on the size of the dose taken.

    I'm online again!

  11. #3371
    Btw, wasn't 'I'm no one's senpai' Mashu's catchphrase?

  12. #3372
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neophyte View Post
    Btw, wasn't 'I'm no one's senpai' Mashu's catchphrase?
    Perhaps, though this certainly isn't Mashu!
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  13. #3373
    [X] Chat with Zelkova

  14. #3374
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    [x] Talk to Zelkova




    Chapter 67
    . Ominous Visions

    Silently, he made his way through a subterranean passageway, with scant illumination save for the soft glow emanating from the orb floating above his shoulder. He had been underground before, navigating treacherous caverns and ruins on his adventures, but for some reason, he found this particular passage more unsettling than the others before.

    Perhaps it was because this one, unlike the others, was built to a scale far larger than any human needed, with statues of strange creatures looming out of the dark as he walked on.

    Statues with heads that resembled those of birds.

    Statues with jackal or wolf-like features, with teeth bared and tongue lolling.

    Statues with tentacles in place of beards – or heads – or limbs.

    Scattered on the floor here and there, weathered and worn, were old bones, bleached white as if by some incredible heat. Had others come here before him? Adventurers, perhaps, whose ambition and greed had outstripped their meagre abilities? Or were these bones older still, from the days before this structure had fallen into ruin?

    And if he listened closely, concentrating every bit of his attention on his hearing, he thought he could make out something like whispers, though what they might be saying, or who they might be talking to was something he couldn’t make out.

    “Do you hear that?” he asked, turning to the familiar young woman walking silently beside him. Her name was on the tip of his tongue, but his thoughts refused to yield it.

    “I—“ she began to reply, but only to cut herself off as her head jerked up sharply. “Something’s coming.”

    Moments later, a spike of danger shot through his mind, as a massive multiheaded beast of pure white – a chimeric fusion of many forms and creatures – padded into view no more than a dozen meters away, its glowing golden eyes regarding him balefully.

    Its body was crouched low as if ready to spring forward, closing the distance between them. If it did, he knew, it would be on them in seconds.

    And Matou Shinji would not give it that chance, not when he’d given so much and sacrificed more just to be standing where he was.

    Thinking quickly, he ripped the vial of Felix Felicis he wore from his neck and downed half of its contents, as the world seemed to slow down.

    With barely a thought, ofuda hidden in his sleeves shot forward, striking the ground and remolding the stone of the hallway into great spears that thrust themselves at the Chimera just as it lunged. Unprepared for the rapidity of its prey’s response, the beast smashed into spears with a roar of frustration, slowed – but not injured at all, as stone weapons snapped before it, unable to pierce its hide.

    With his will, the Boy from the East commanded the spears to fall, for the very rock to swallow up his enemy, but—

    “AWOOOOGHHHHHHH!”

    —it simply howled, the sonic assault shattering the cage he was constructing and nearly knocking him off his feet.

    Undaunted, the boy snapped his fingers, as a few of his ofuda which had not been consumed to bend the will of the earth, blinked out of existence, replaced with a number of explosive potions, courtesy of a non-verbal Switching Spell.

    One by one, they detonated, with Shinji trusting the concave hollow of the area the chimera was in to shape the force of the explosions, directing all of it at his foe!

    Whump-BOOM! Whump-BOOM! Whump-BOOM!

    Detonation. Detonation. Detonation.

    His efforts were joined by shining lines of force, as sun-bright runes loosed by his companion slammed into the enemy with incredible force, staggering the beast and blackening its fur - and flesh – with each fell strike.

    "A chimera, huh?" he heard his companion murmur, and glanced over to see a dangerous smile playing across her lips as azure light danced upon her fingertips. "Don't see one of those every day. Matou, you should—."

    Before she could say more, a blast of heat and light washed out, blinding the boy for a moment – just long enough for the phantasmal beast to escape his impromptu trap. It landed before him, its mouth opening wide as it loosed a massive gout of ebon fire.

    ‘Flames hot enough to sear spirit as well as flesh.’

    Were he not under the influence of Felix Felicis, Matou Shinji would have died on the spot, burned to ash – no, less than ash – by the beast’s ire. But under its influence he was, so the boy barely managed to interpose his wand – grown into staff form between him and the flames.

    For one terrible moment, he thought he’d made a huge mistake, since there was no way a mere staff could block a tongue of flame larger than he was – but block the fire it did. No, not block, but drink it in, as the runes and traceries carved into its surface began to glow with an eldritch light.

    ‘That’s right…Matsuo-sama said it could convert fire elemental attacks into raw prana,’ he recalled, remembering all that had gone into the staff’s construction. ‘Which means I have a chance. Not a great one, but one all the same.’
    No doubt the beast would soon recognize that he was somehow rendering its flames ineffective, and would seek to rip him limb from limb.

    ‘What should I do?’

    He could try and fall back to where his companion was, but he’d lost track of her when the chimera had launched its sonic assault earlier, and he couldn’t exactly look for her, as there was fire everywhere except in a small area before him.

    ‘And even if it is stopping the fire, it isn’t stopping the heat…’

    Already his skin was blistering, even through the layers of protection he wore, through the wyvern-hide and enchanted underarmor, and everything else.

    ‘So in the end, there is no choice after all…’

    Indeed, there was only one thing that would give him a fighting chance to do more than simply survive this encounter.

    His trump card – Fusion, though it was rare indeed that he had needed to fuse under such dire circumstances.

    Usually, there was a moment in the fight when he could concentrate only on his inner world, on opening the door that separated himself and the world, usually when he’d been knocked down, or an enemy gave him a chance to surrender – but even now, the chimera was pressing its attack.

    ‘It…hurts.’

    But he had to look past that, had to keep it from his mind, had to keep the desire to rip it apart and make it stop from his thoughts so he could descend into the moment of calm that mastery of earth was rooted in. And if that wasn’t enough, he had to keep the staff between himself and the beast, lest the astral form of Zelkova be destroyed completely by the oncoming conflagration, had to keep his eyes on the monster in case it surprised him.

    ‘I’m…right here.’

    Matou Shinji breathed, eyes flaring silver as he fought a desperate battle within himself, ruthlessly quashing the rage and fear that was bubbling up in his core – for he knew too that Zelkova would already be uncomfortable with the fire all around him, and it would not do to add to that, lest the fusion fail.

    ‘I can’t afford failure. Not now, not here. Not against something that is like Fiendfyre but worse.’

    He breathed, drawing into him the senses of the earth, breathing out the pain of his mortal vessel.

    ‘I’m right here.’

    He stood against his foe, against a creature from the Age of Gods, and did not falter. He stood unyielding, despite what it cost him. He stood, doing what he must, because he could.

    ‘I’m right here.’

    And amidst the noise and destruction, the boy found his center at last, descending into his mind and opening the door. In that moment, everything shifted.

    Zelkova’s power and thoughts flowed into him. The world itself flowed into him. The whispering of the stone, the weight of his enemy, the sheer power and heat of the cursed flames turning the rock all around him to bubbling slag.
    All of it he could feel, could sense, could know, as if it was happening to his own body.

    The might of the flames meant that he could not rely on the innate resistance of his fusion form as some absolute protection, but then with a beast like this, it wasn’t practical to simply try to protect himself. No. Such a beast needed to be ended, before it used its monstrous claws against his staff, or perhaps its barbed tail, the tip of which gleamed with something he was sure he didn't want touching him.

    …before the heat all around it healed it of its injuries.

    '...that’s right. Just like my staff, this Chimera can absorb fire and heat. The longer I just try and hold it off, more it will heat its environment, and the more it will heal. If I'm not careful, it will—'

    It lunged, springing at the boy with claws sheathed in corrosive prana, as its fiery breath petered out.

    Once more, the boy interposed his staff – now a scythe – as a defense, catching the claws before they could rip him apart, only to realize too late that he wasn’t the target.

    His staff was, as if the Chimera recognized the glowing weapon as an existential threat – as an enemy that needed to be defeated.

    'It must be sensing the Chimera scales embedded in it, or just recognizing how I'm able to defend against its flames through Absorption – the very ability it uses.'

    Its weight bore down on him, pressing him back – back – down – down, forcing the boy from the east to his knees as he found himself unable to match it in a sheer contest of strength.

    ‘No…’

    Even as he grit his teeth and struggled to stand, to push back, he could see it bringing up its barbed, armored tail, as if to deliver the coup de grâce.

    'Oh...shit...' the boy thought out, his enhanced senses allowing him to see the tail come at him almost in slow motion, though there was no way he could avoid it – not without letting go of his staff, and if he did that, he wouldn't be able to stop its fiery followup. 'I can't...'

    There was no way, no way he could see, that...

    'Wait.'

    Time stood still as his mind accelerated, his thoughts racing into the past and leaving the present behind. His consciousness sped deep within itself, reaching for something he'd been told long ago. Something he'd been taught. Something he'd been shown.

    Something he’d nearly forgotten amidst the many tricks he’d seen and done.

    It was there, in the tangle of his memories, if only he could--

    'Yes!'

    His eyes opened wide as he grasped it, traced the patterns that would allow him to steal victory from the jaws of defeat.

    'Release,' he intoned, his will shaping the fullness of the power that the staff had drained into a single titanic blast, as acrid, hissing darkness spilled forth from it, spreading over the chimera’s claws and limbs and pouring onto its body in a corrupted torrent of black rain.

    The beast howled. Screamed. Roared, as the water – if it was water – as pure decay tore at it, snuffing out the prana it commanded, ripping at its very spirit as it grew in strength and power.

    DIE.

    So his will commanded, and his magic did its best to make the beast obey.

    Any lesser creature would have been destroyed in the maelstrom of dark magic released in that moment, this chimera was an ancient beast, one that had outlasted many like it, one that had outlasted the turning of the age, and so refused to die.

    It refused as its fur blackened.

    It refused as its eyes and nose blistered.

    It refused as the corrupted prana sheathing its claws and tail was leeched away to fuel the strike.

    It refused and struck back, releasing a gout of corrupted fire not at its assailant, but into the torrent of corrupted water, flashing the vile liquid into superheated, corrosive steam.

    Some of it continued towards the beast, true, but some which took less damage from that than water alone, but some – the merest dregs really – blew back towards the fusion user, ripping mercilessly through his stone-like skin as he, too, screamed, his vision going white from pain as he let go of the staff.

    When he returned to awareness some time later, the boy – still in fusion form, somehow – found himself laid out on his arse, his ears ringing and his vision still spotty, as pain wracked him all over.

    With a thought, he tried to summon his staff to his hand, and was relieved when it came.

    ‘It wasn’t destroyed.’


    Looking around, he could see something glowing, and focusing his attention, he felt a chill go through him as he noticed exactly what it was.

    ‘That’s…the chimera.’


    Well, it was what remained of the chimera, at any rate, given that its body had been torn apart lengthwise, the two halves of its blackened carcass smoldering upon a still-glowing surface that was smooth as glass.

    'What on earth?'


    "Are you alright, Matou?" a voice spoke from beside him, with the boy looking up towards whoever had spoken, and finding his breath stolen away at the sight before him – a beautiful young woman whose glowing form was wreathed in crackling arcs of azure lightning. For a moment, he wondered if he had been wrong – if the Church had been right and there were such things as angels, or if this was perhaps an elemental or divine spirit, but after some seconds, it dawned on him that it was in fact his companion.

    “I, uh…”

    "Confronting a phantasmal beast in melee is not exactly recommended, after all, even if you do possess a...secondary form," the other continued coolly.

    She offered him a hand, but seeing that he wasn’t sure he wanted anything glowing touching his body when pain still ran through him with every movement, he shook his head. Instead, he propped himself up with the haft of his scythe, using that to help him find his footing.

    "You...” he said after he managed to get to his feet. “Was that...fusion? Or...something?" Shinji got out, looking uneasily between her and the defeated chimera. 'Did she...did she rip it apart with a spear of lightning, or something?''

    That would explain why the world had gone white, given that he, like his...less fortunate opponent, would have effectively been at ground zero of the blast. If that were so, then letting go of the staff had perhaps been a good thing. Otherwise…

    ‘I would have been destroyed.’

    Well, perhaps not destroyed, given that the earth element of his fusion form would resist lightning to an extent, but even so, with the damage he’d already taken…

    'Whatever happened wouldn’t have been good, that’s all I can say.'

    "No, not fusion,” the other explained matter-of-factly. "Just a temporary release of limits usually imposed by…common sense.” The glowing figure chuckled mirthlessly. “While I can something like a familiar to help facilitate this, it is not, strictly speaking, required."

    “I see,” the boy said. He didn’t really, but he wasn’t going to argue with someone capable of killing a creature like that with a single attack. Somehow, he thought it might bode ill for his life expectancy.

    The young woman shook her head.

    "You are wounded, Matou," she noted. “Can you still fight?”

    Shinji nodded, trying to hide a wince as he did so.

    Apparently he failed, as his companion made some odd gesture and a warm sphere of golden light enveloped him, knitting his wounds and easing his pains over the course of about a minute.

    “Better?”

    “…yes. You can heal as well?” he questioned, shaking his head. “I didn’t think…”

    “It’s not something I do particularly well in my usual form,” she replied evenly. “Though I prefer it to this heightened aspect, as like draws like, and here, in a place dating from the Age of Gods, that could well be...counter-productive."

    "…I can see how that would be so,” Shinji agreed readily, not wanting to think about what might be drawn by the prana she was emitting. “Thanks, by the way.”

    “None needed. Just answer this, how long can you maintain your fusion?" she asked.

    "Several hours," Shinji stated. "After that, I'll need to rest. The concentration needed..."

    "Ah, I see. You have not yet moved beyond dealing with desynchronization?" the other questioned, raising a slim eyebrow. "Your...colleague does not share that issue."

    "...Sajyou-san is also on a whole other level compared to someone like me," Shinji admitted, ducking his head. "Besides, I'm inexperienced, so please take care of me…senpai." He added this last bit impishly, though the other was not quite amused.

    "I'm no one's senpai, Matou," the other replied dryly. "And down here, none of that senpai, kouhai stuff matters worth a whit anyway, so don't get yourself killed on my account. I can take care of myself, you know. As you should. If you can't, you have no business in this place."

    "...I know," Shinji voiced, nodding his head with a heavy sigh. "I know. Shall we continue then?"

    The other grunted as she reverted mostly back to her original form, the glow - and the majority of the lightning - fading from around her, though a few azure butterflies of lightning remained to light the way.

    "Indeed we shall," his companion commented wryly. "After you - you're the one who is a walking tank, after all."

    Shinji shook his head.

    "...fair enough," he allowed. "Just try not to fry me next time, senpai."

    "Heh. I’ll try my best, but no guarantees, Matou," the other replied, as they began walking once more. "Oh, yes, I nearly forgot."

    "What is it?"

    "That final strike of yours."

    "Yes?"

    "You somehow managed to corrupt the chimera's elemental affinity, changing its alignment to water. An impressive feat, that, and one which certainly made the beast quite a bit easier to kill."

    Shinji only blinked.

    What? He had…

    "...one tries,” was all he said in turn, as the dream faded away, and Matou Shinji awoke in a room with an unfamiliar ceiling.

    As he looked around, thankfully free from pain, he recognized it as a room in the Fujou estate, where they’d all returned to after the meet and greet had turned somewhat awkward. At least, awkward for Asa Drake and Fujou Shiroe, since the swordwoman – who somehow knew the singer, Chloe Ainsworth, had once worked with Shiroe’s adopted father.

    Personally, Shinji hadn’t understood why Shiroe was acting so strangely about it. If she was a mercenary of sorts, and he supposed she’d have to be, if she was taking contracts, then it was quite possible she’d have crossed paths with another. And well, he wouldn’t particularly care if someone had known his father in the past, useless man that Byakuya had been.

    His mother on the other hand…

    Well, every time someone in Wizarding Britain brought up Aisaka Mariko, he found himself unexpectedly affected, as it was a reminder that he did have a connection to that land, even if he didn’t really admit it most of the time.

    ‘Even if I feel like that land has gone mad.’

    He had enjoyed the party the night before, really, since meeting Chloe Ainsworth in person had reassured him that she wasn’t some Einzbern homunculus out for his blood. Not that he’d used his full name, just in case, introducing himself as Aisaka Shinji, though for a moment, he swore she seemed to recognize him.

    ‘Probably just imagining things.’

    After all, as the tanuki had shown, an attractive woman generally had no trouble convincing a man that she was happy to see him, or of much else, really, in the right context.

    ‘She just has one of those voices, I imagine. Even if there is something a bit familiar about it.’

    Was that why he’d dreamed what he had? Who knew, really.

    The boy sighed, breathing in the mingled scents of buttermilk and bacon hanging in the air, which suggested that breakfast was being cooked, and that the person cooking was not Shiroe or one of the other Fujous.

    'Luna, probably, though I suppose Kohaku could be there as well.'

    Through the window in the corner, he could see that the sun - or what passed for it here in the City Under Earth – was already high in the sky. How long had he been sleeping? Obviously longer than usual, since he hadn't woken up early to train – and hadn't been woken up when Luna had left his side, if the now-cold indentation on the bed next to him was any indication.

    'Still…what was that dream?' he wondered. 'It felt so...real.'

    Many of his dreams had been since sometime last year, though he didn't know why, or really, what he was seeing. When he'd talked to Ilya at Christmas last year, she had suggested that he was seeing events that were taking place somewhere else or through the eyes of someone else, given that the things he was seeing hadn't been from his point of view.

    And for the most part, that did describe his dreams, though this time, and a few times before, things had been different.

    There had been one where he fought alongside goblins in the streets of what looked like Hogsmeade, with Tohsaka by his side, as they opposed practitioners of witchcraft in rust-colored robes.

    There had been one where he'd...found himself wounded and nigh paralyzed after a battle – apparently one in which he'd been hit by a spell that had induced hypothermia. Tohsaka had been there as well, enthusiastically – if somewhat embarrassingly – offering to warm him via skin-to-skin contact – when that actually wasn’t that effective of an approach.

    There had been one where he had been fighting a terrible beast of claws and fur and whirling steel. In the face of terrible odds, he managed to overcome his foe, only to be torn apart by tendrils of darkness that exploded from within its corpse.

    And then there was this dream, where he found himself fighting beside an odd companion who referenced the Age of Gods, who used something like Fusion, and had killed a Chimera with one attack. Whoever this was, it certainly wasn't Luna, so he was left wondering who was she?

    Where was this? When was this?

    What could it all mean?

    ‘Whatever it means, I need to get up.’
    He'd spent too much time asleep already, and there was little enough time before he needed to return to Hogwarts, and finish up his preparations for what he need to do before the potions competition began.

    Still, maybe a walk before breakfast would clear his mind.

    Maybe he could spend some time with Luna in the kitchens, provided she wasn't already sharing it with someone else, as that might be awkward otherwise. Maybe he could take a cold shower.

    Maybe…

    …something to clear the fog in his mind, and brush away the strange sense that there was something there he was missing, something just out of reach.

    ‘I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m doing sometimes,’ he admitted to himself.

    ‘That makes two of us, Master,’ a voice chimed in – the voice of his familiar, who had been absent last night. ‘I see you had an eventful evening.’

    ‘You could say that, Zelkova,’ Shinji noted in his mind, as he eased himself from the bed and padded over to the window. ‘I have to admit, ten thousand voices singing together was quite something,’ he recalled, the memory of that night coming to mind. ‘The glory of it. The power of it. You should have been there.’

    ‘I would have, save that the tengu called Shiranui wished to speak with me.’

    ‘Mm. Did you learn anything?’

    ‘That I am not particularly good at painting,’ the kodama related dryly. ‘And that you are a person who elicits very strong reactions from those around you.’

    Somehow, that seemed less than completely reassuring.

    ‘Oh?’

    ‘Shiranui suggested that I wear your form while we walked about the city, as it was one that would not stand out overmuch. Kodama are uncommon, after all, while onmyouji are…less so. And because it would be a way to see what others thought of you.’

    ‘…what happened?’

    ‘I was mistaken for you by a number of the younger students of Mahoutokoro, who all wanted to know what the West was like. They were…excited that someone their age had been chosen as a Champion.’

    ‘Oh?’

    ‘A few wished to know if you were seeing anyone. A few believed you were seeing the Beauxbatons Potions Champion, given the recent gossip. A few know of your relationship with Miss Lovegood, your shiroi koibito, as some called her.’

    ‘…does speculation about my love life follow me everywhere? Why in the name of Makar Zolgen would it…?’

    ‘Humans are odd creatures, master.’

    ‘…I will agree to that. I take it you were rescued from your captivity?’

    ‘Yes. Miss Tsuchimikado was able to separate me from the other students, as few are willing to refuse her,’ the kodama related. ‘Nor your mentor Tomas Peverell, who was with her. They had apparently visited the shrine together.’

    Shinji’s eyebrows shot towards his hairline, as he hadn’t expected for those two to be spending the new year together.

    Though…what exactly was Tomas up to these days, anyway?

    That aside…

    ‘Tomas expressed disappointment that I had not gone to Osaka, as Miss Ainsworth had so been looking forward to seeing “me” again, though I believe he confused me for you, Master.’

    Seeing him…again?

    ‘He had apparently had the pleasure to give her a tour of the City while she was here in Japan, as she was a magus of some power. Apparently, Miss Aozaki was supposed to have been assigned the task, but she was otherwise preoccupied…’

    …a magus…

    ‘Tsuchimikado-san wasn’t fooled as to who you were, though?’ Shinji questioned, noting that his familiar had only mentioned Tomas’ confusion.

    ‘No, but then, she is bonded with a satori.’

    ‘…I thought she did not often use it.’

    ‘It seems that a sighting of you warranted it.’

    Shinji let out a bark of laughter. Was he that unexpected a sight that the granddaughter of the head of the Japanese Council of Magic wanted to check if it was really him?

    ‘She probably knows I was supposed to be with the Fujou, and wanted to know what I was still doing in the city.’

    It was the reasonable explanation.

    ‘Did she say anything interesting?’ he added, a beat later.

    ‘Mm, she did offer a gift, Master. Something to help ease the challenges the New Year holds, she said.’

    ‘Oh? And what is it?’

    ‘I left it on the nightstand while you were sleeping, Master.’

    Intrigued, Shinji turned from the window to the table in question, and sure enough, saw a gold band, set with several small rubies.

    ‘…a ring?’

    ‘A ring that bears a sliver of a fire spirit’s might, boosting the bearer’s resistance to spells of mental domination. Tsuchimikado-san also mentioned it could allow you to launch fireballs, should you have the prana, though if you use it for that, it ceases to provide any protection until its prana is recharged.’

    ‘…I see. Where did she get it?’

    ‘Asplund’s Shop of Horrors, I am told.’

    The place where it had originally been procured made Shinji rather leery, considering his experiences with the man but…

    ‘…could you go and thank her for me? I fear I will need her gift in the coming weeks.’

    ‘I already did, Master.’

    ‘…thank you. What would I do without you, Zelkova?’

    'I do not think it would be tactful of me to answer that honestly, Master.'




    Choice 232: So, we're going to timeskip to the island after this, with me more or less glossing over some of the events we need to take care of prior to getting there. It should be an exciting time on this ancient isle, as we get to meet some of the top potioneers around the world, and even network with the people from the Age of Gods. In the time between now and arrival, however, what's the one thing Shinji wants to work on most? (choose one)

    [ ] Stock up on Ofuda
    [ ] Refine Potions
    [ ] Work on Lockhart's training
    [ ] Dueling with Tomas
    [ ] Spending time with Luna
    [ ] (write-in)
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  15. #3375
    [x] Stock up on Ofuda.

    We really need to get prepared for what awaits on the Isle. Given that we already locked other free periods for alternate stuff, I fear we might end up less than ready if we don't pile up some ofuda asap. We will need enough for the trial session and the first task.

  16. #3376
    [x] Refine Potions

    We really need more potion points.

  17. #3377
    Funny thing about this latest choice set.

    One can argue that Shinji really needs to do all of the options given. Ofuda are always in short supply. Potions has not been Shinji's number one priority this year when it should of been if he wants his results to be somewhat decent. Both Lockhart and Tomas teach skills and tricks that could be super important for the survival of Shinji, in their own way. And spending time with Luna insures that we do not have Shinji exploded at the wrong time from stress overload that he is currently under. At some point we are going to need to spend time with Luna to reset his stress clock.

    Its a toss up for me on what is more important to do at this moment. But since we have not spent time training with Tomas in a while, I am going to go with [X] Write in: Potions with Tomas.

    If potions with Tomas is not going to fly, then I would like this choice changed to Dueling with Tomas. But the reasoning with Potions is that Tomas is good with potions, maybe not Snape level but come on he is Voldemort. He might be better at teaching dueling but I think Tomas could teach Shinji a trick or two about potions. Heck Tomas is the perfect teacher (from hell) for teaching how to brew potions while in a combat zone 101.

  18. #3378
    I am ok with working with Tomas in Potion only if we can learn how blood magic could improve our Potions.

    We already know than boood its an amazing element in Potions, and right know Shinji's Knowledge in blood could his triump card, so improve that area could secure us some unique element in the tournament.

    So I change my vote too:
    [X] Write in: Potions with Tomas, asking and experimenting with him about the possible uses of blood magic in Potions.

  19. #3379
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skulkidcachi90 View Post
    I am ok with working with Tomas in Potion only if we can learn how blood magic could improve our Potions.
    Tomas would be more than happy to instruct his alike (in the same way that Sion was TATARI's alike) in the art of blood magic, yes.

    There would be such a delicious irony in helping the British Champion, and ensuring that Shinji will be making use of the darker arts for the public eye. Why, it may make people think this is what Britain teaches!
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  20. #3380
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    I'll be online to discuss things!
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

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