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

  1. #3661
    [X] Call for Zelkova - he can't do this alone, in these conditions

    There seems to be a misunderstanding when it comes to Zelkova, at least in my opinion. Zel is more than just useful for Shinji in a combat sense. No he is far more useful outside of combat as Zel opens Shinji's eyes to the supernatural if far more important if Shinji is going to go out into a storm. Without Zel, Shinji will be blind, but with Zel, the two can become more than their sum. Heck Harry lost against Shinji last year because he lacked the ability to see in the rain. I find it someone stupid of us if have Shinji leave the base without taking Zelkova with him, no matter how much the little guy needs to recover.

    Either take Zel or tell Shinji to wait until Ku is ready. Those are the only option here that makes bloody sense. Shinji can not go into a storm and find anything of value if he is hindered by his lack of vision.

    Since I picked Zelkova, I guess I forfit the other choice set, but I do want to comment on that bunch. Ask Budge is usually a good idea but I think it would be better to not use him during this trial run as its not the main event. We have already showcased almost everyone of Shinji cards, but the book is still being kept a secret (other than Ayaka of course). I do not care if Shinji thinks no one is around him, we still should not use the book at this time. You never know who might be watching outside of your ability to detect.

    And as a second minor point against using Budge, is that its currently a storm with lots of rain. Budge is grumpy as hell on a good day, I doubt that the rain will improve his mood, especially if his book is getting soaked.

    Since the Zelkova choice does not really answer the where Shinji should go, I would like to also put in (if that is ok) [X] Walk in an ever expanding spiral from his position after first walking away from the base.

    The purpose of my amendment to the spiral choice is that Sprialing around the base seems like a bad idea if someone is watching Shinji from the air or stumbles on Shinji and/or his tracks. If someone where to notice the spiral pattern and Shinji was spiraling outwards, then logically they could deduce the point of origin. We do not want to signal where our base is so we should have Shinji walk away for a km or two. A small bonus of this change is that Shinji can make four circles each in cardinal directions away from the base and never overlap his sprial. Heck at some point the spiral would run right back into the base. Or he could just flow back at some point if he is really paranoid so that someone could not track him back to the base.
    Last edited by Skull Leader; March 4th, 2018 at 08:31 AM.

  2. #3662
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skull Leader View Post
    Since the Zelkova choice does not really answer the where Shinji should go, I would like to also put in (if that is ok) [X] Walk in an ever expanding spiral from his position after first walking away from the base.
    The reason you don't get to choose where he goes in this vote if you call for Zelkova was that Shinji would be consulting his familiar for information/advice, and making a decision based on the new information/abilities he has available to him.

    As for the Budge thing, you'd basically have him hanging over your shoulder as a spirit advisor re: potion ingredients and what could be used with what, since he would recognize a lot of the western stuff on sight.

    In either case, it seems we have:

    [1] Ask Zelkova
    [1] Walk in an ever expanding spiral from his position.
    [1] Undecided
    Last edited by alfheimwanderer; March 4th, 2018 at 01:09 PM.
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  3. #3663
    I've committed my vote to asking Zelkova.

    We really just need to safely and quickly gather some starting ingredients for Ramona. Zelkova will maximize our scavenging abilities and our team is completely dependent on them at the moment.

  4. #3664
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Choice 280: [X] Call for Zelkova - he can't do this alone, in these conditions




    Choice 281: Right. He had volunteered to be the one to get ingredients from around the isle while Ramona made some basic preparations using what ingredients she could find in the clearing outside the shrine, set up her equipment, and otherwise made sure that Ka'aukai recovered from his ordeal. The team was relying on him, and despite his intensive studies of the Catalog of Ingredients back in the CAS Archives, that knowledge was no substitute for the natural abilities of a tree spirit like Zelkova.

    'Most plants used for potions ingredients would be magical - probably more magical than the other plants around, but in this...white-grey rain, its hard to tell.'

    Oh, it wasn't as if the weather was as great an impediment to him as it might be to others, as he had learned to extend his prana into the earth and into water, but for some reason, the rain felt almost opaque to his senses, with his prana unable to find purchase in it.

    'Is it because there's so much ambient mana in the air and ground?' he wondered, frowning. Or was it a sign that the storm was not entirely...natural in its origins, perhaps conjured up by some great beast that dwelt here.

    Either way, he didn't think his limited abilities would be enough.

    He needed help - and who better to ask than the being who had accompanied him through every one of his challenges for the last two years.

    'Zelkova, can you come join me?'
    the boy asked, with a sense of acknowledgement coming over the link he shared with the kodama. 'If you're not too out of sorts to help out after dealing with...that thing.'

    'I will not be able to fuse, or control the earth without some difficulty, but it would not overtax me to accompany you, Master,'
    the response came. 'I assume you wish me to help augment your senses?'

    'You know me too well,'
    Shinji noted warmly. 'Still...are you alright?'

    'I will recover, Master. The aftereffects were less unpleasant than being hit with what practitioners of Witchcraft refer to as the Killing Curse,' the
    kodama
    noted, not that this was particularly reassuring for Shinji, as he remembered that his familiar had needed quite a bit of time to recover from the spiritual shock of having the fusion forcibly interrupted. 'In any case, I remain functional.'

    'Then let's go find some ingredients, shall we? I doubt any will be in handy caches, but...do you think there might be anywhere with somewhat higher concentrations of prana?'

    There was silence for a moment, as Shinji felt the presence of his familiar approach.

    'The prana-rich waters of this storm interfere with my sensing abilities to an extent, but there are some spots with greater concentrations, with the nearest patch being about a kilometer from here. The trees also recall a small grove that many have stopped in over the years somewhat further along the isle, two kilometers away. You may also consider asking the spirit of the book for advice.'

    'Good thinking. I hadn't thought of that,'
    Shinji noted sheepishly. Though... 'He won't be happy about the weather though.'

    'If you desire, Master, I can muster the strength for a bounded field to ward off the rain,' the familiar offered. 'Though that will require that I remain by your side.'

    What will Shinji do?

    [ ] Go to the nearest area with a higher than usual prana concentration
    [ ] Go to the place the trees spoke of
    [ ] Just explore, while asking Budge for advice

    And what does he have Zelkova do?

    [ ] Keep a bounded field up so he - and the Book of Potions - remains dry
    [ ] Explore one of the sites in question
    [ ] Remain invisible and on standby for now, keeping an eye out for danger
    [ ] (write-in)
    Last edited by alfheimwanderer; March 6th, 2018 at 02:29 PM.

  5. #3665
    What will Shinji do?
    [X] Go to the place the trees spoke of

    I'm tempted by the closer place for the sake of speed, but magical ingredients aren't the only things to release prana. The grove has a high likelihood of containing useful ingredients and is less likely to be found by those that don't speak tree.

    And what does he have Zelkova do?
    Write-in: Stay close in the form of Ka'au and keep an eye out for danger.

    Zelkova is not combat ready and we're going to avoid confrontations, so having "Ka'au" with us should act as a deterrent to any that might want to ambush a lone champion. I almost want a "Lestrange" or a "Sajyou" for added deterrence, but if they saw us then they'd try to kill Zelkova and/or it would reveal another one of Zelkova's abilities to anyone watching the cameras or knew where they were.

  6. #3666
    [X] Go to the nearest area with a higher than usual prana concentration

    [X] Remain invisible and on standby for now, keeping an eye out for danger


    Tree site sounds like a place others would go to, I would rather avoid that. Prana rich site sounds like it would have something great enough to warrent the risk of going there. Zel being in a form of someone for tricky purposes might work (but hey we also have the Polyform potion to take someone shape), but really I want Zelkova to do what he does best watch our backs and be the complete surprise to what ever force messes with Shinji. If Zel is around and visible as someone else, then attackers would assume that he would be a threat and act accordingly.

  7. #3667
    The grove would normally be a place that you'd expect the competition to find, but I don't think it's as likely at night in this weather and a prana-rich site might be easier to find under these conditions. I think we should go to the prana-rich site once we recover a little more or with Ka'au in about an hour. A delay in going there does come with the risk of it getting raided before we can get to it and possibly drawing unwanted attention close to our base.

    Zelkova is in really rough shape so I figured that him acting as a deterrent outweighs a possible surprise attack and he shouldn't even fight unless absolutely necessary. Remaining invisible was my first choice, but I like to expand the choices with write-ins when I get an early vote.

  8. #3668
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Perverse Transcriptase View Post
    It would reveal another one of Zelkova's abilities to anyone watching the cameras or knew where they were.
    Funny thing - those camera drones don't work well in pretty terrible weather. After all, with such violent winds and rain, its difficult to see much, much less maintain position.

    And for this trial, none of the Champions are wearing the tracker/emergency portkey.
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  9. #3669
    This thread feels oddly... empty. How has this come to be? Hopefully not over mountains of salt and betrayed expectations.

    I had taken a break somewhere around the beginning of Year Four, hoping to return to the complete story of Broken Chains, because suspense was killing me. (And frankly binge reading exhausted my interest somewhat.) It will take a while to catch up...

    Not voting because of a desire to make informed decisions.

  10. #3670
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Apologies, though you'll find this particular volume has a good bit of meat on it. We've finally gotten to Shinji at the Potions Tournament, though there was a lot of triwizard lead-up (among other things).

    Hope you enjoy, and if you have questions or comments, I can often be found online at #fatehg, on IRCHighway.




    Choice 281: Given the tie, and the paucity of votes, I am breaking it.

    [X] The Grove
    [X] Remain invisible and on standby for now, keeping an eye out for danger




    Choice 282: Given that the trees had said that people often stopped in a small grove some distance away, he thought there might be something of interest there, whether ingredients, shelter or something else.

    'Best case, I find a rare plant. Worst case, it's a beast.'

    Or one of his competitors, but that went without saying.

    'Zelkova, stay invisible for now,' he commanded his familiar. 'And no bounded field.'

    It pained him to add that last part, though since he didn't know how sensitive the supernatural senses of his foes were - or that of the beasts on this isle - he figured it was best to keep his kodama on standby.

    'Making him take someone's form won't do much good. The rain means no one will see me unless they're right on top of me anyway.'

    And no one in their right mind would be out on a night like tonight, he thought to himself, smiling a wan smile as he imagined what that must say about his sanity.

    'Keep your senses sharp, Zelkova.'

    'Yes, Master.'

    They moved slowly through the isle, deliberately, with Shinji using reinforcement to make himself heavier so he wasn't lifted so easily, and Zelkova stretching his senses as far as he could as they made their way towards the distant Grove - which appeared in Shinji's vision with something like a marker.

    As he moved, the temperature seemed to drop, and Shinji found himself taking cover as hailstones the size of grapefruits came crashing through the forest canopy.

    Just a little more...just a little more and they would arrive at...

    'Master. There are people present in the Grove.'

    Shinji suppressed the urge to curse.

    'Who?'

    'Two males, Master. They are within a transfigured shelter, with enough prana laced into the structure and the area around it that I cannot tell you more than that.'

    Does Shinji...?

    [ ] Fuse and attack the shelter, trying to incapacitate two of his competitors in one fell swoop
    [ ] Enter the Grove but stay away from the shelter
    [ ] Send Zelkova into the Grove
    [ ] Approach the shelter; Pretend to be wounded and in need of help
    [ ] Go somewhere else
    Last edited by alfheimwanderer; March 11th, 2018 at 03:10 PM.
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  11. #3671
    Both groups of male contestants have at least one member quite hostile to us. We're just after the battle, had insufficient sleep, openly demonstrated our trump while not knowing the hand of opponents. I'd say - mark the location and

    [x] Go somewhere else

  12. #3672
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Does no one else wish to vote on the issue?
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  13. #3673
    Really. This place used to be much busier. To hell with it...

    [x] Enter the Grove but stay away from the shelter

    Other people have much worse senses, the chance for stumbling into any possible trap or being ambushed by the people in the shelter is quite low thanks to Zelkova - if we move fast (more or less), we will be able to deal with this and get some necessary rest for both Shinji and his Familiar.

    It's a risk, true. But we have an advantage of range, so let's do it.

    Edit. Still catching up. The characterization is truly sublime, it was the main draw for me from the start. Hopefully, it will remain important for the story even as Shinji gets more and more swamped in action, competition and politics.

    Thanks for all your hard work, alf.
    Last edited by Malorius; March 13th, 2018 at 02:50 AM. Reason: Wanna

  14. #3674
    [x] Enter the Grove but stay away fro the shelter

    If save scumming was a thing here, I would totally attack. Heck it is still tempting as I would love to take out two of the guys in one fell swoop. But it really needs to happen fast and without being seen to work out. Anyone else finding out blows Shinji's image out of the water. Its likely not worth the huge risk of attacking and having one of them get away and then tell the world about the true danger of Shinji.

    Rather not start a small war at the moment. Plus I thought that Zelkova was not ready for fusion or heavy work so I am not sure an attack from Shinji would be full power to actually work. But I don't want to end up with nothing. So I would rather get in, grab something and get out.

    If it was not horrible weather I would just walk away but at this point we need to stop wasting time and find something to make a potion with.

  15. #3675
    [X] Enter the Grove but stay away from the shelter

    (Sorry for not being here as often, I've been dealing with a lot of schoolwork lately)

  16. #3676
    Quote Originally Posted by Skull Leader View Post
    the true danger of Shinji
    ...That sounds far more ominous than anything Shinji amounts to for now.

    Well, I've decided to actually reread the story from the start because, apparently, I hate free time. Go figure.

    So, one of the most glaring things that I've noticed is that somewhere along the way the story stopped being about Shinji, his challenges and triumphs in the constantly changing world around him. It turned into a story about the world which is influenced by Shinji. A bit. From time to time. And while it sounds good in theory, my, how many chapters I have apparently barely read! All because the exposition and curious character development from the point of side characters - like Fred, George, Rin, Kohaku, Shirou, Pancy and so on and so forth - while informative and sometimes important, doesn't really interest me. Because they are not the main character I have grown to empathize with, the one I have embraced as the focal point of my perception of the world, the one I've enjoyed to learn the stories of intriguing characters and unravel mysteries with. The one, who was mostly reduced to the role of side character himself by the sheer amount of text written from the perspective of whoever author felt like inserting into the spotlight at the moment. By the chapter 25, when I had decided to quit, the devious fiends hogged to themselves "only" half of all the storyposts, but it certainly felt like more!

    Predictably, that influenced my appreciation of the story in the past enough to drop it. Can't speak for anyone else, but it turned out to be a huge problem to me. It felt like author was endlessly wasting his time and talent on telling us how intense was Pancy's training, how cool it was that Fred finally got into Fleur's pants, how characters realistically had their own life - when the whole world of dramatic side quests, action, mysteries, insightful inner monologues and actually good stuff was being denied for the protagonist. When we could discover that very same information by just, you know, interacting with them. Like normal people do.

    Unless it is a vital information necessary for the understanding of the plot and creating dramatic tension, it doesn't deserve a full dedicated interlude, certainly not several dealing with the same issue. Or unless it's Lockhart, he fills the disastrous lack of shounen with the sheer (meta) awesomeness.

    Just a heads up, alf.
    Last edited by Malorius; March 13th, 2018 at 06:23 PM.

  17. #3677
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Choice 282: [x] Enter the Grove, but stay away from Shelter




    Matou Shinji and the Broken Chains

    A Harry Potter / Fate Stay Night Story

    Disclaimer: Though I wish it were otherwise, I do not own or in any way, shape or form hold a legal or moral claim to elements of either the Nasuverse, the Potterverse, or other works I may reference in the course of this story.

    Summary: It is a time of seeming peace, as the British Ministry prepares to host the Quidditch World Cup - the greatest sporting event in the Wizarding World. But unbeknownst to them, a grand army of Giants and Werewolves is gathering in Eastern Europe, under the leadership of the vicious Fenrir Greyback, their sole objective - revenge. In the East, Matou Shinji and his comrades have arrived at the hidden bastion of Mahoutokoro to hone their skills, given that they are likely to become Champions of the two Tournaments this year – the Tri-Wizard and the Potions. And if their struggle against the Acromantulae has shown them anything, it is that only through power can they gain victory - and only through victory can their chains be broken.




    Chapter 76. Sturm und Drang

    ‘I really wasn’t ready for this…’

    So Matou Shinji thought to himself as he was slammed against a tree, his world going white as back of skull met unyielding wood. He struggled, trying to escape the grip of his invisible assailant, but no matter how he thrashed, how he fought, he could not win.

    Not against the fury of nature itself.

    “Damnit…”

    The word came out as a whisper – not that it would have mattered if he’d shouted, as the rolling thunder of the tempest that had engulfed the island drowned out any attempt at speech. But then, that was to be expected on a night where the winds raged violently enough to lift a grown man off his feet, with heavy raindrops crashing down so closely together they formed something like a wall.

    Everything – the ground, the trees, the very air – was painted a strange grey-white, bleached of all color, save for a hint of azure or purple now and then in the flickering heartbeats when the sky was set ablaze in the aftermath of lightning shooting from ground to cloud, and cloud to ground somewhere near the center of the island.

    ‘Well. When there still was any lightning…’

    He realized then that he hadn’t seen the effects of any such in the last few minutes and found that he was…worried.

    'Huh. That's weird.'
    Well, the whole situation was weird, really, with the storm coming upon them so quickly and growing to something of this magnitude, but it was really what he had seen earlier that had disturbed him.

    Lightning coming down in thick coils and knots, lightning that moved through the air like some kind of divine serpent.

    What kind of natural phenomenon would cause such a thing? Was there some kind of rare element towards the center of the island? Some structure? A concentration of prana so dense that it affected the world around it? Was it the work of some magical beast?

    Shinji didn't know.

    'And I probably won’t find out unless I manage to get to the center – not that I think that would be a great idea.’

    The boy shook his head slowly and turning his head so that the wind wouldn’t rush down his throat and leave him sputtering, took a deep breath as he sought to center himself.

    ‘I guess… at least wandering about in a rainstorm is familiar?'

    He'd done something like this in his final Potions Challenge at Hogwarts, when he'd faced off against Harry for the privilege of representing Hogwarts in the Championship. He'd won, too, and without the benefit of fusion, though admittedly, he'd had Zelkova harry Harry for the duration of the challenge, keeping the Boy-Who-Lived off balance and only able to react.

    ‘My victory then wasn’t because I had power. It was because I kept my foe off balance. I should remember that, since the same applies here.’

    Yes, with all the water around him, he could probably do something ridiculous like rain down a hundred spears of ice on someone, or unleash a torrent of black sludge that could consume a person and leave nothing behind, but well…

    ‘None of it matters if I can’t move.’

    The moment he’d stepped beyond the protective circle of trees surrounding the ruin, the full force of the elements had crashed into him, slamming his frail human form against a very solid trunk.

    ‘Though I guess I should be grateful. With weather like this, no one is likely to stumble on us. Everyone has probably taken shelter and won’t be leaving it unless the storm dies down – or they have no other choice.’

    Well, unless they had some ability to control the local weather or was in possession of some talisman that would protect him from the wind entirely, but there were only a few people like that he could think of, and they didn’t need such an advantage to utterly crush him.

    ‘I should ask Lockhart if he has any experience with this sort of thing,’ Shinji mused, thinking that an item that would allow a person to ignore the effects of weather was something the adventurer likely knew about or had access to.
    'Heh. It would explain why Lockhart designed these robes in a way that lets the wearer fade away into the fog or rain like some grey phantom.' He had wondered about that, since his current outfit was rather less outlandish than what he’d seen the History Professor wear, but maybe that was the point. The man was an Assassin, after all, and the very fact that he wore such outlandish robes most of the time only made it more likely that someone would overlook him if he was dressed in something plain, say a dark grey robe at night, robes in off-white when he was wandering in a desert, or something grey in a storm. 'I could stand to spend more time learning from him. I mean, just look at how he trained Pansy.’

    If someone had asked him before this year if he saw Pansy becoming his equal in combat, the boy would have said that such was impossible, especially after he’d unlocked the secrets of fusion, but now…

    ‘Guess it means I just have to keep on pushing myself if I don’t want to get left behind, no matter how easy it would be to get complacent. Or to just think that I’m in some no-win situation so I shouldn’t even try.’

    If he stopped growing, others would surpass him. And if he simply accepted that…well, then he wouldn’t be the Matou Shinji whose chains had been broken through victory.

    ‘I’m here on this island. I’ve survived everything its tossed at me so far. And I won’t give up now.’

    Yes, his foes outclassed him, but…he hadn’t lost yet, right? And it wasn’t as if he was the only one hampered by this weather.

    ‘As far as I’m concerned, if my chance of victory isn’t 0, that means I should strive to make it 100, right? And well...someone needs to get ingredients. I told Ramona I would, since Ka'au wasn't awake yet, and I don’t like breaking promises.'

    Which meant that the boy knew what he had to do.

    He didn’t particularly want to, but since Ka’au was still injured…

    ‘Zelkova, I need some help.’




    Half a world away, Pansy Parkinson, too, was learning what it felt like to be pinned down by an implacable enemy, though this one was somewhat more substantial than the winds which trapped Matou Shinji.

    ‘You’ve reached the next stage of your training, he said. You should take on a new challenge, he said. He never said that I would be fighting singlehandedly against Mad-Eye Moody!’

    Granted, it wasn’t the real thing, just a simulated version of him brought into being by the Book of Spells, and she didn’t necessarily have to defeat him, just to reach the Room of Hidden Things without him following her, where a hidden vanishing cabinet would allow her to escape to a safehouse, but…

    Whirr! Fzzt!

    The girl threw herself to the side as an explosion tore through the space she’d stood, silently casting twin shield charms to deflect a brace of spellbeams aimed unerringly for her head.

    ‘It’s like he can see through my movements, predict what I’m going to do.’

    Disillusionment was useless – the man’s artificial eye let him penetrate magical disguises with contemptuous ease. Neither did conjuring smoke do any good, as his eye could see through that to what lay beyond.

    ‘I can’t even summon his eye out of his socket!’

    Then again, if it was that easy to stop Mad-Eye Moody, he wouldn’t have survived the Great War, or become a name that Dark Wizards hated and feared.

    ‘At least the battlefield is Hogwarts, so it’s a place I know well, and one Moody isn’t willing to tear down around me.’

    That said, the virtual Hogwarts in which she fought was no friendly place either, given that most of the students in the simulation, while not willing to fight her wand to wand, were willing to alert the implacable Auror to her current location.

    In some ways, it reminded her of one of the Kobayashi Maru scenarios the Ourea faced each year, where victory was theoretically possible, but one’s chances of reaching it were so slim it might as well be a no-win scenario.

    ‘Just like here, to win, I either have to evade this fake Moody or beat him.’

    Neither of which were exactly something that she, just about a year into her training, felt able to do, given how fast the old Auror was for a crippled old man. With just one good leg, he was able to keep pace with her on two, and the sheer power behind his spells was something terrifying.

    ‘I can match power with power if I cast with both wands, but…’

    That meant sacrificing speed and flexibility, and whatever else she did, Pansy Parkinson couldn’t afford that. Not when…

    Whirr! Whirr!

    A trio of green bolts came around the corner, flying unerringly towards her – an attack she barely managed to deflect with a hastily cast shield spell, with the bolts veering off towards a wall, before slowing in mid-air and shooting back towards her.

    ‘What in Merlin’s name?!’

    Once again, she deflected the bolts, and once again, they came back towards her, even as Mad-Eye Moody himself came around the corner, his wand moving in a certain—

    ‘Oh SHIT!’
    Pansy almost lost consciousness as she was hurled into a wall by an explosion, with the green bolts slamming into her while she was helpless, sapping her of her strength.

    The only reason she didn’t drop her wands was that she’d used the sticking charm to make sure she wouldn’t lose them earlier.

    Still, merely her wands meant nothing if she couldn’t muster the strength to use them, and as a bright red bolt tore through the air, flying at her exposed face, she could only think of one thing.

    ‘Hilde…help.’




    In the wake of the nuckelavee's defeat, Shinji and Ramona had set to work ensuring that the rest of the shrine really had been cleansed of the demon's influence, with the Champion of Qausuittuq using rainwater that was somehow glowing with the faint echo of golden flames to thoroughly scour the walls and floor, and the boy placing a number of ofuda on the walls in the wake of her cleaning.

    "You don't need to do that, you know," Ramona had noted mildly, though she hadn’t bothered stopping him as he laid a few around the doors and ceiling, manipulating the prana within them so they would not react to his teammates – and so he could seal any breaches if necessary, or teleport to a place at need. "We're not likely to be attacked."

    "Better safe than sorry," the boy had replied, shaking his head. "If anyone else knows about this ruin, they might decide to come seek shelter from the storm here."

    "Don't you have your familiar asking the trees to hide the pattern of this place from prying eyes?" Ramona had asked, with Shinji blinking.

    "...admittedly yes, but such a thing might not defeat someone...with abilities like mine," the boy had said, choosing his words with care. And it was true. Someone like Sajyou Ayaka wouldn’t be deterred for more than a moment by whatever defenses they set up – or someone like Elesa Labelle, for that matter.

    "Not that I think that the Japanese Champion would particularly need shelter from the storm," Ramona had noted after a moment. "She doesn't seem the type to be inconvenienced by a bit of inclement weather."

    "True," Shinji had conceded, with something of a wry smile. "Unlike us."

    "Heh. People like us are limited compared to those without limits, it’s true," the Champion of Qausuittuq had admitted. "But that just means that we turn our limits into strengths. Perhaps we don't have the raw power others might, or the sheer array of abilities. That doesn't mean we can't triumph with skill and using what we have to our advantage."

    "...speaking of raw power," Shinji had said, glancing at Ramona as they reached the entrance of the shrine. They had found themselves looking out upon the sky, where towards the center of the island, a vortex of...no, coils of azure lightning bridged ground and sky - one of the only things they could actually see, through rain so heavy it was almost a solid wall. "...you know, I've never seen lightning act like that before. This island is...strange."

    "Well, it could be there is something special about the ruins at the center," the Inupiat girl had noted with a shrug. "There's an ancient serpent that guards it, they say, centuries old at least. And not so easily beaten as what we fought."

    "Not as easily beaten, huh?” Shinji had snorted, shaking his head. Whatever that thing was, it had managed to break through the defenses of fusion. No. It was more accurate to say that it had stripped away his defenses. “That reminds me, how did you beat that thing?" the boy had asked, raising his eyebrows. "You were suffering pretty badly until I opened a hole through the ceiling—"

    "—thank you for that, by the way."

    "—and then after that, you stood up and threw...something like a feather at it. And it just burned up.” The boy had some trouble processing just how a feather was enough to beat such a powerful beast. “How...?"

    "At a high enough level, magical combat isn't about how much power you can bring to bear, but the concepts you employ. Just as the Nuckelavee was decay given form, bringing death to all living things, the phoenix is a symbol of life after death, of rebirth and purification. Against its power, even death may be defeated, and so it was."

    "Huh. Conceptual warfare, huh?" Shinji muttered. He knew concept well enough. His former Master had often spoken of it, and it wasn't as if onmyouji – even those like him who used a variant of the craft – didn't use such things against spirits. Though... "But you're not a phoenix, and that wasn’t a talisman exactly, so how...?"

    Ramona chuckled.

    "I am what some would call a shaman," the young woman had noted. "One who touches the world of spirits and borrows their power."

    "...so that's what happens when your...when your patterns change. You borrow their power – and that changes you, doesn't it?"

    "Yes. My body is a vessel for spirits," Ramona had explained. "I gather the fragments of their inchoate powers and bind them for a purpose. In the fight, I took in the power of the air and channeled it into a phoenix feather I carried, awakening the echo of a phoenix's might it carried within it. Things remember what they were once part of, after all, and with a strong enough...stimulus, that memory can be brought to the surface." She had smiled then, a faint expression that Shinji found most curious. "Not that high-quality phoenix feathers are exactly common – or cheap – given how wand-makers like to snap them up, so I would prefer not to have to do something like that again. I have a very limited stock in my pouch, after all."

    "You have anything else that might be useful in there?" the boy had inquired.

    "I do," the brunette had agreed, but said no more. After a moment she’d sighed. "Let's go back inside and check on Ka'au. He'll probably be waking up soon, after sleeping off the strain of entering tanifa form."

    "Tanifa?"

    "I guess you could call it a guardian or a monster, I suppose. Not that either are exact translations, but they’ll will do."

    "How...?"

    "We both borrow from the world. We just have different ways of doing it. Different ways of expressing our abilities," the girl had explained, before changing the topic. "So, are you feeling a bit better now? I know that you took the miasma of that creature head on..."

    "I'll be fine," the boy had said brusquely. “I mean…yes, it hurt, but we were all hurting. My familiar got the worst of it, honestly."

    "He is a rather powerful spirit, with an affinity for the trees."

    "Yes. He doesn't particularly fear death, but neither does he like being surrounded by it."

    "Few things do, Matou."

    There had been something of a beat as they lingered at the entrance.

    “One of us should probably go outside. Gather some ingredients,” Shinji had said. “I don’t think the remains of those trolls are going to be much good.”

    “Well, maybe if you wanted to make a poison or something. Or something that would disrupt the effects of curses,” Ramona had mused. “But yes, one of us should. Are you volunteering?”

    Shinji had opened his mouth to suggest something, but then closed it, remembered that Ka’au was still unconscious, for all that he’d been treated with Ramona’s healing magic, and that Ramona was likely better off making basic preparations for brewing using what ingredients she could find in the sheltered clearing outside the shrine and otherwise making sure Ka’aukai recovered.

    “…I guess I am,” the boy had agreed.

    Granted, he still hadn’t completely recovered, but he was probably the most…expendable of the three if it came down to it.

    And well, if he was lucky, maybe there wouldn’t be combat involved.

    Maybe.




    Pansy had never thought she’d be so happy to see her tanuki familiar appear before her, shifting from being her belt into well, a copy of her. Her doppelganger tried to take hold of her wands so that she could use them against the enemy before her, only to find that the wands were stuck fast – and that the enemy was already attacking once more, with those sinister green bolts.

    ‘Huh…why…?’

    Pansy wondered why it wasn’t another explosion before she realized that the Auror was trying to take her alive. Her mind though, was too fuzzy to let go of her wands so the tanuki could take them, or to remember the command to release the sticking charm.

    So perhaps she shouldn’t have been surprised that the tanuki, refusing to go down without a fight, just draped her over its back while grabbing on to her arms, to use the wands she still held.

    Avada kedavra!” her doppelganger intoned, the emerald-green beam leaving one of the wands, bouncing off a purple spell-beam that she had silently cast from the other, and striking the trio of green spell-bolts, erasing their existence, along with its own.

    ‘Huh.’

    And while the simulated Moody dealt with whatever the purple beam was, the tanuki was already casting again, this time with a dualcast Confringo, its destructive power amplified tenfold by the brother-wand effect.

    Even a legendary Auror like Mad-Eye Moody couldn’t just endure something like that unscathed – not without something like the Elder Wand, at any rate – though Hilde didn’t expect a mere explosion to kill the man.

    That and it wasn’t like she could stand her ground after casting it, since that particular spell was not exactly something one wanted to be anything close to. No, the moment the spell was away, she had taken the form of a troll and had begun to run – well, lumber – away as fast as she could, her steps thundering on stone as she sought to outrace the blast wave, with the groaning form of Pansy carried before her protectively.

    She raced for one of the stairwells that would take her higher up – they were only on the third floor, where they had successfully navigated a series of traps in a hidden corridor to retrieve a shiny red stone, and they needed to reach the seventh to escape with their stolen treasure, hoping that Moody wouldn’t recover before they reached the next level.

    ‘Ugh…’ Pansy groaned, watching the next floor come closer – closer – closer, as they ascended – before all of the sudden, their ascent came to a sudden halt as— ‘The stairs. Moody took out the stairs.’

    They were falling.

    Rather, the whole stairway was falling, the magic which kept it aloft no longer active thanks to the enemy wizard’s spell – whatever it had been.

    “Hilde! Jump!”
    The tanuki, having no other options, raced up what was left of the stairway, and trusting in her adopted form’s muscles, took a leap of faith.




    The boy’s initial call for help was met with silence, leaving Shinji rather worried.

    'Zelkova, can you come join me?' the boy asked again. 'If you're not too out of sorts to help out after dealing with...that thing.'

    This time, a sense of acknowledgement came over the link he shared with the kodama, accompanied by the sensation of bone-deep weariness.

    'I will not be able to fuse, or control the earth without a good deal of difficulty, but it would not overtax me to accompany you, Master,' the familiar responded via their mental link.

    ‘Thank you, Zelkova,’ Shinji thought warmly. ‘Still…are you alright?’

    'I will recover, Master. The aftereffects were less unpleasant than being hit with what practitioners of Witchcraft refer to as the Killing Curse,' the kodama noted, not that this was particularly reassuring for Shinji, as he remembered that his familiar had needed quite a bit of time to recover from the spiritual shock of having the fusion forcibly interrupted. 'In any case, I remain functional. I assume you wish me to help augment your senses?'

    'You know me too well.'

    Shinji waited patiently against the tree – not that he could do much else – until he felt Zelkova’s presence nearby, with new strength flooding into his body from…

    ‘From the tree?’

    ‘I hope you do not mind, Master, but I spoke to the trees on your behalf, asking them to grant you a blessing to endure the storms as they do.’

    ‘…thank you,’ the boy communicated – and he truly was thankful, for his strength seemed to be increased now, and his sense of mass, such that the wind could no longer just pick him up. It wasn’t anything like what he could do with fusion, but…it would do. ‘You also had the trees hide the ruins from sight, right?’

    ‘Correct.’

    With his newfound range of motion, Matou Shinji turned around, curious what effects Zelkova speaking to the trees would have, only to find himself more than mildly surprised when all he saw was a dense, unremarkable copse of trees, with no sign that there was anything past them but yet more trees.

    'A simple illusion, but it’s one people would expect to see. I might even be fooled, if I didn't know better.’

    Since he did – and had ofuda back in the shrine that he could flow back to – it was a bit of a moot point, but regardless, he felt relieved knowing that others wouldn't be inclined to come here, if they didn't already know it existed.

    ‘Right. Then we should look for ingredients.’

    The team was relying on him – them, and despite his intensive studies of the Catalog of Ingredients back in the CAS Archives, that knowledge was no substitute for the natural abilities of a tree spirit like Zelkova.

    'Do you have suggestions, Master? While I am a tree spirit, I cannot easily tell the effects of one plant from another, if you wish to use them in potions.’

    Shinji sighed.

    He’d forgotten about his familiar’s difficulties in that area, and how the kodama had found it trivial to look for a certain type of tree, if he knew what to seek out, but otherwise had troubles.

    ‘Well, most plants used for potions ingredients would be magical – probably more magical than the other plants around?’ the boy hazarded. It wasn’t as if he could tell himself, since the white-grey rain itself was laden with prana, serving as a sort of signal interference to his spiritual senses.

    Under normal circumstances, the weather wouldn’t be as great an impediment to him as it might be to others, as he had learned to extend his prana into the earth and into water, but for some reason, the rain felt almost opaque to his senses, with his prana unable to find purchase in it.

    'Is it because there's so much ambient mana in the air and ground?' he wondered, frowning. Or was it a sign that the storm was not entirely...natural in its origins, perhaps conjured up by some great beast that dwelt here.

    Either way, he didn't think his limited abilities would be enough.

    Sadly, Zelkova, the being who had accompanied him through every one of his challenges for the last two years, didn’t have a great deal of luck either.

    'The prana-rich waters of this storm interfere with my sensing abilities to an extent, Master,’ the kodama reported, with Shinji biting back a curse. ‘However…there are some spots with greater concentrations, with the nearest patch being about a kilometer from here.’

    ‘Huh. A kilometer, that’s not too far.’

    Though…a prana source that one could detect even through this sort of interference had to be pretty strong, and was it necessarily a set of plants?

    ‘The trees also recall a small grove that many have stopped in over the years somewhat further along the isle, two kilometers away from here,' the kodama added.

    Shinji smiled as he heard this piece of actionable information.
    “Well, then we make for the grove,” the boy stated confidently. If other people had stopped there, it was likely there was something of use in that place. “Let’s be off.”

    'If you desire, Master, I can muster the strength for a bounded field to ward off the rain and wind,' the familiar offered. 'Though that will render me unable to support you in battle, or to enhance your senses.'

    Shinji was tempted – sorely tempted – by the offer, but…

    ‘…no. I need you to remain invisible and keep an eye out for danger. Other people might detect a bounded field, and I’d rather we keep that as a surprise, just in case.’

    ‘As you wish.’




    Thanks to judicious mid-air shifting to a less…massive form, allowing their existing velocity to carry them further than it otherwise might, Hilde and Pansy made it handily to the fourth floor, leaving a furious Mad-Eye Moody behind.

    There were some others on the way to the seventh floor – mostly army trainees, who they were confident they could beat, but neither chose to engage in any unnecessary aggressions, with Pansy going disillusioned, wearing Hilde – who was in the shape of an invisibility cloak – for good measure.

    It wasn’t that they thought the trainees were a threat, not after facing down the greatest Auror of Britain, so much as if they fought, they would give away their location, since she was sure that Moody would be coming up soon enough when he found a broom.

    ‘And if we fight, if we alert others we are here, that would leave us trapped.’

    Since no one else knew of the Room of Hidden Things in this scenario – or at least she assumed they didn’t – no doubt if she kept quiet, she could reach her destination unmolested, with any pursuers thinking she must have taken refuge in a classroom or be seeking to escape from a classroom with a window.

    In the end, she was proven right, as she made it to the Cabinet in the Room of Hidden Things, and the scenario ended, leaving her facing her Mentor, who for once was dressed in simple, black robes.

    “An impressive performance, my apprentice,” the Assassin intoned.

    “Thank you, Mentor. It was an…interesting challenge,” Pansy replied, with Hilde once more taking her form. “Though I have to wonder, why a scenario like this, with me taking an artifact out of Hogwarts? Why not have me fight a Dark Wizard or something?”

    “Miss Parkinson, you would have expected a Dark Wizard,” her Mentor replied coolly. “And with your training, and your familiar, you would have found little challenge in that. By and large, Dark Wizards are not…especially creative. Nor are they especially numerous, meaning that a competent population would have little trouble dealing with an outbreak.”

    “…are you calling Magical Britain incompetent, Mentor?”

    “In the case of Voldemort and his Death Eaters, I suppose there may have been extenuating circumstances, given the man’s personal power, and how at first he limited his attacks to those who were clearly combatants or affiliated with them.”

    “But by the end…”

    “By the end, Voldemort was not truly in control of the forces he unleashed,” Lockhart explained, shaking his head. “Yes, he was a symbol of fear, and would tolerate no disobedience in those he directed personally, but there were who sought his favor but who did not report…directly to him.”

    “…ah.”

    “We have that lack of control to thank for his eventual defeat,” the Assassin commented. “After all, had a band of…overzealous followers not murdered a goblin family in the 1970s, it is possible that the goblins would have aligned themselves with the Dark Lord, much like the werewolves and a number of giants. Had they joined the war on his side, the Ministry and the Order of the Phoenix may not have had a chance to fight back.”

    “I see. But what about Dumbledore? Wasn’t he the only wizard the Dark Lord ever feared?”

    “That is what they say, but as powerful as he was, he had…issues that prevented him from using his power effectively.”

    “You mean…what happened with Grindelwald.”

    “Indeed. There is a saying among the non-magical that generals fight the last war. Albus Dumbledore was revered for being the hero of what some call the Global Wizarding War, but few remember is how he delayed, refusing to intervene until it was nearly too late because of his hidden sympathies to Grindelwald and his ideals. With Voldemort, Dumbledore could have acted much earlier, but…he did not, once more delaying. And so Magical Britain nearly fell into ruin, with the Order of the Phoenix only established in the 1970s, after the Ministry had begun its counterattack.”

    “So, if the goblins had allied with Voldemort…”

    “There would have been force that could have stopped him. Not even the vaunted Albus Dumbledore.”

    “…so why is it, Mentor, that even today, the goblins are ignored? Considered second class citizens? Savages?”

    “Because wizards – like the muggles they so denigrate – dismiss what they do not understand as insignificant, not realizing that to do so is the sheerest folly. Did the Ministry truly understand the course of history, they would not have sealed themselves away from the world, seeking strength in division, but in unity. They would have reached out to the goblins and the other downtrodden magical races, and perhaps together, a new nation might have been forged. A stronger nation. A nation of equals under the law.”

    “But Mentor, there will always be inequality, whatever the law says,” Pansy pointed out.

    “It is true, but that is no excuse to perpetuate generations of oppression for the sake of tradition and short-lived unity,” Lockhart stated after a moment, smiling sadly. “Even if one believes it is for the greater good.”

    “…things were tense at Durmstrang, especially after Miss Delacour and Mister Krum were attacked,” Pansy admitted. “Some have tried to defuse tensions, but…”

    “I am aware of the tragic consequences, and the innocents that have suffered,” the Assassin noted grimly. “And I wonder how much more suffering will be caused when the students of Hogwarts at Durmstrang return to Britain, only to be indoctrinated further.”

    “It might be better if they didn’t get the chance to return at all,” his apprentice quipped, shaking her head as she glanced over at her Mentor, who looked singularly unamused. “Mentor?”

    “What an…interesting observation, Miss Parkinson.”




    With the blessing of the trees, Matou Shinji had little trouble making his way through the raving wind and waters, especially since Zelkova helpfully indicated where he needed to go with something like a marker in his vision.

    Still, even if he didn’t have trouble moving about, it didn’t mean he was exactly comfortable in the weather, especially not as the temperature began to drop and hailstones the size of grapefruits came crashing through the forest canopy.

    Taking a vial from his belt, the boy downed doses of girding and pepper-up potion, which at least let him feel warmer, though it did nothing against the hailstones.

    He was tempted – very tempted – to ask Zelkova for one of those bounded fields after all, but managed to dismiss the temptation as folly.

    ‘After all, if I’m discovered out here, it will be for naught.’

    He might be able to freeze enough water to conjure a shield of ice as well, but that too would be noticeable, so he simply soldiered on, moving from tree to tree, trying to take advantage of natural cover as much as he could.

    ‘Just a little more...just a little more and we will—'

    But his thoughts were rudely interrupted.

    'Master. There are people present in the grove ahead.'

    Shinji suppressed the urge to curse.

    'Who?'

    'Two males, Master. They are within a transfigured shelter, though there enough prana laced into the structure and the area around it that I cannot tell you more than that.'

    The boy sighed.

    Two males.

    That meant it was either the Brazilian and African Champions in there or the Indian and Russian Champions.

    ‘Well, I guess I won’t be approaching them, not after that…manly picnic disaster.’

    Still, they’d come too far to turn back, and with the weather getting worse, if that was even possible, if he didn’t act now, there might not be another chance to grab ingredients.

    ‘Master? What is the plan?’

    ‘We’re still going in, we’ll just avoid the shelter. I doubt either will be coming outside anytime soon, so it should be perfectly safe.’

    ‘As you say, Master.’

    Though he did indeed discover interesting plants in the grove, including Niffler’s Fancy and Wiggentrees – the latter being presumably why someone had sheltered here – the boy would come to regret his words when, in the process of harvesting ingredients, an oversized bear attacked, tearing his head clean off.

    …or at least, it would have, had Zelkova not bisected it with a bounded field, whereupon it transformed into two smaller bears and pressed the attack.

    'Master! These enemies are transfigured. They were part of the shelter!'

    Choice 283: What does Shinji do?

    [ ] Blow the bears away with explosive ofuda (his trusty old standby, if the least subtle)
    [ ] Have Zelkova try to hold them off with bounded fields while he collects the ingredients (reveals nothing, but Zelkova is still weakened)
    [ ] Use his corrupted water ofuda to disrupt the magic holding these magical bears together (Possibly dangerous if he loses control, but more subtle than explosives)
    [ ] Try an untransfiguration (The most subtle option, though he's a bit out of practice - and his current wand doesn't boost the skill)
    [ ] Call down spears of ice to destroy the shelter and all those within (Prana intensive, but doable with the ambient water. There's no hiding this - it will definitely provoke a response if the enemy survives. If.)
    Last edited by alfheimwanderer; March 15th, 2018 at 01:22 AM.

  18. #3678
    [jk] Burn it with fire! All the fire.

    The "part of the shelter" plan seems pretty convoluted. Who even does that? How is it even possible to turn a person into an object? Oh, wait. "Wizards. No sense of right and wrong."

    OOC, how does Shinji's modifier to untransfiguration look nowadays, asid from his current exhaustion? It was pretty neat years ago, but it must have degraded a bit from lack of practice. Skill is a skill tho.
    Last edited by Malorius; March 14th, 2018 at 02:03 AM.

  19. #3679
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malorius View Post
    [jk] Burn it with fire! All the fire.

    The "part of the shelter" plan seems pretty convoluted. Who even does that? How is it even possible to turn a person into an object? Oh, wait. "Wizards. No sense of right and wrong."
    More like the bears were once just prana-infused earth, that has been given form and purpose. Similar to, but more sophisticated than, a desk into pig transfiguration. Though yes, you can do living being into object as well, and if you have the spellwork, rig it to transfigure something in response to an intrusion.

    OOC, how does Shinji's modifier to untransfiguration look nowadays, aside from his current exhaustion? It was pretty neat years ago, but it must have degraded a bit from lack of practice. Skill is a skill tho.
    He is using a different wand as well, which was destroyed in Chapter 3. In general, he's never been a transfiguration specialist. His untransfiguration is quite advanced, and he did make some use of it in duels over the last couple of years, like when he fought the Weasley Twins to get them to help him. Consider him effectively an average 7th year level in that skill back in 2nd year, though due to lack of practice and a smaller wand bonus, its back to being around 6th year proficiency at present.

    (Skill generally unlocks at a base of 5th year proficiency, if you're untransfiguring other people's stuff)
    Last edited by alfheimwanderer; March 14th, 2018 at 02:44 AM.
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  20. #3680
    [x] Use his corrupted water ofuda to disrupt the magic holding these magical bears together

    Probably this. Explosive ofuda would inform all the island that we're here, and I'm still not inclined to kill other participants. Let's check if our chuuni Dark Side Affinity is of any use.

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