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Thread: The Grail Works Mission Dossier (Discussion & Ideas)

  1. #6841
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    The really interesting part to me is definitely that people develop bonds by sharing information about themselves, and Godafrid's nature and knowledge is a big thing. The temptation to have a "ah, but did you ever really know your friend" moment seems overwhelmingly strong.
    Especially since, at least in Persona 3, it was possible to reverse Social Links . . .


    Ooh, or Shadow Godafrid. Limit Break-analogous things are delicious. That seems like it could be really satisfying late in a story, but would need a ton of setup to make it work.
    Which would be part of the payoff for writing it, of course.


    But yeah, in more common bonding sorts of interaction, Frid tends to fumble a bit on the side of gallantry, which works for him, but isn't really emotional vulnerability, and makes him a bit... different. That might suffice, given how Persona protagonists behave.
    It'd be interesting to see - particularly in, say, Persona 5, where certain members are all about taking it to the "shitty adults," whereas being one, Frid's inclined to cut some of them a bit more slack . . .


    I was WONDERING why that name was different and didn't realize.
    And it sounds similar enough that Frid either ascribed the difference to her pronunciation, or he was identifying her as "Utsumi" in his head at the same time and didn't catch it.


    And the angrish, right, and you specifically pointed out "similarities to Marie", and I forgot which Marie was contextually relevant. And I think I read things, sheesh.
    No harm done. It happens to me, periodically, too - but you can understand why I found your initial response quite confusing . . .?


    That definitely puts a completely different spin on what we expect to happen during the main Persona 4 plot. Oh goodness.
    Precisely - and it would be interesting to write. Especially if Yu Narukami still shows up . . .

    I admit, when it comes to Persona 4 in terms of canon love interests, I'm torn. Just focussing on the game's story as written, (and thereby leaving aside my personal attraction to Yukiko), Rise is so obviously interested in the protagonist and adorable with it (while being very demonstrably a fifteen-year-old girl) that I can't help but root for her - and the fact that she's basically the lead of Dancing All Night more-or-less confirms her status. But Marie is so obviously intended as the protagonist's partner throughout the story (and equally adorable, in her way) that it's hard not to see them together - and neither girl really seems to have an alternative possibility available (whereas Chie, Yukiko and Naoto each have at least one potential paramour somewhere else in the game; if you read Yukiko as potentially bisexual, anyway).

    And if I was going to pair Frid with either of them, Marie is slightly less squicky, since the age difference is harder to quantify, unlike Rise; Marie could variably be read as 16 - 17, "however-many-weeks her current incarnation's existed" (Margaret does say she has a "young" soul), or thousands of years old . . .
    Last edited by Kieran; April 27th, 2021 at 09:54 AM.
    “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

  2. #6842
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Persona 4 Idea, Part 2

    Tatsuhime Shine, Inaba
    Time still unknown









    Pain retreated as consciousness returned. It didn’t vanish, not entirely, but what had been what felt like the time he’d thrown his back out to the point it took ten minutes to put on pants dulled itself to something more like his usual chronic aches; something that he hadn’t felt since dealing with the Works, but familiar enough to deal with. The sudden cold (and wet) nose against the side of his neck, on the other hand, was surprising enough to send Frid up bolting upright with a yell.

    The answering yip of surprise as he did so nearly caused enough panic in Frid to drown out the sudden surge of pain from moving way too fast; the absolutely last thing he ever wanted to do was hurt some poor animal; much less a—

    “Fox?” Frid asked, almost to himself, before automatically murmuring in a “baby talk” voice, “I’m sorry—I didn’t mean to scare you. Are you hurt . . .?”

    Carefully, Frid looked over the animal, trying to remember not to hold eye contact, lest it think it was a challenge. He’d been thinking [“small dog” or “puppy” from the tenor of the noise, but it was a fox, and one far larger than the sound had implied; not so tall (about the height of his knee), but long—on hind legs, it would probably reach his chin. It had no visible injuries but was also obviously used to roughing it—there was a nasty scar running vertically down the middle of one eye, and hints of a few more on its sides from his current angle. At the same time, however, it also wore a bib . . .?

    No, it was a red apron, worn as a bib—and a bib with ruffles and pink hearts on it, no less!

    “. . . Somebody loves you, don’t they?” he murmured. “Or they did, at least.”

    Frid could think of several reasons for a human to be stupid enough to try and put something like that on a wild animal—but a lot fewer for the animal to allow it; or keep it, for that matter. On the other hand, he remembered reading abour and seeing video of attempts to keep pet foxes; and of at least one “fox village”—a sort-of sanctuary in Japan where the animals were in no way domesticated, but at least somewhat used to humans . . .

    Are you a feral former pet, maybe . . .?

    A sudden wind caused him to blink, turn his head—and abruptly take in the dilapidated structures around them. The penny dropped, as they said in Britain; he’d barely interacted with the Social Link in the game, but the Fox of Tatsuhime Shrine had been a focus of one of the sweeter, funnier episodes in the Persona 4 anime. This was not a pet, turned feral or otherwise; or if it was, it had either been intended as a stand-in for, or since become, the guardian spirit of the now-abandoned shrine.

    Slowly and carefully, he bowed from the waist as deeply as he could from a sitting position.

    “You have my sincerest apologies for both the fright and the intrusion—neither were intended on my part,” he said to it.

    The Fox regarded him wordlessly, head tilted slightly to one side.

    Frid could, he supposed, invoke a Charm or two to see exactly what he was dealing with—but the Essence expenditure and/or the resulting anima flare that was liable to result could be taken as a hostile act. It would be a poor repayment to a spirit who, so far as he could tell, had been checking on him in concern. And while he was worlds away—both metaphorically and literally—from the Bone Shadow Tribe of werewolves, he agreed with their philosophy of “Pay Each Spirit In Kind.”

    Well that, at least, should be simple enough . . .

    Getting up took more effort than Frid would’ve liked. The enervation was more mental than physical, but he hadn’t felt this bad since he’d first stumbled through the Door to the Works . . . Or maybe since the Seldarine had decided to metaphysically flay him alive and graft an ersatz Spark of Exaltation onto what they’d uncovered before stitching a new covering over it—the two experiences weren’t entirely dissimilar. Still, he’d always been a stubborn sort, and Lunar Exalts were survivors; bulling through pain and/or (and, it was definitely “and”) exhaustion wasn’t anything new for him. In a moment (or maybe two . . . Or five), Frid was on his feet, and scanning the grounds.

    The Tatsuhime Shrine was abandoned, he knew that; still used a bit, by the locals (he’d seen a “festival date” in videos of some of the romantic Social Link routes that took place there) but a video screen couldn’t really convey the depths of the neglect. The paint on the torii—the big red “gate” structures iconic to Japanese shrines—was faded and cracking, with paint peeling or totally gone in some spots. The whole place seemed to be covered in a layer of dust that caused old allergy memories to surge up despite not having them anymore . . . It wasn’t a complete loss, yet, but the level of sheer neglect was disheartening.

    The offerings box and its associated “wishing tree” (where petitioners hung plaques of prayer) were relatively untouched, though. That even made sense, in a symbolic sort of way; that the last thing to crumble would be the hope of communion between the material and the spiritual.

    Frid wasn’t religious, much less Shinto or Buddhist; but the Exalts of his caste were the sages, sorcerers, lorekeepers, philosophers and priests of Luna; bridging that gap was part of what they did. As such, he felt some obligation to at least try to help fix things, even beyond the spirit’s apparent kindness—and from his limited memories of the Social Link involved, the Fox was at least trying to earn money for the shrine . . .

    Frid reached into a pants pocket and drew money from Elsewhere. Tori might’ve (literally) eaten up a lot of funds in their time together, but he’d managed to squirrel away more than she ever saw him pick up. And Tamamo’s little talisman was handy for making sure he had legal Japanese yen on hand, whatever the original denomination of the funds he collected. She’d laughed, of course, in that “amused noblewoman” way of hers—as much, he was sure, because of his insistence on being honest about things as for the absurdity of the request itself, given his usual modus operandi.

    But the peace of mind that came with knowing that he and those he bought from wouldn’t be arrested for counterfeiting had been worth it, and it paid off in circumstances like this.

    What greeted his eyes was a stack of—he rifled through them quickly—ten 10 000-yen bills. Less to work with than it sounded like, with Japanese pricing schemes, but he could live on the streets if he had to, better than most humans or animals could. The money was nice to have, but it wasn’t really a necessity, at the moment; that being the case, Frid quickly forked six of the ten bills into the offerings box.

    “For the trouble,” he told the Fox, who immediately walked over to the box and began counting.

    That actually didn’t surprise him—he’d seen Tamamo like that, after all—and he immediately dismissed the behavior to focus on the tricky part. Frid bowed his head, clapped his hands, and . . . It wasn’t quite prayer. It also wasn’t quite a prana transfer, as a magus would do it, either; but it had elements of both, combined with an instinct etched somewhere in the core of his ersatz Exaltation.

    (A core, a distant corner of his mind noted, that seemed to be both smaller and yet producing more Essence, somehow—and how was that possible?!)

    . . . Regardless, Frid thought he’d managed to offer up at least a portion of his Essence Pool; certainly, the wave of light-headedness that struck immediately afterwards implied it—as did the smoky haze of soft twilight, edged in silver light, that was surrounding him. The circle of burning cold on his forehead indicated that his Caste Mark was glowing brightly, and his tattoos were visible under its light.

    Spent enough Essence to flare my anima banner, Frid noted uncomfortably, grateful that no one other than the Fox seemed to be in sight to notice. Still, he’d best hide until the effect faded—until he had a better idea of what was going on, unobtrusive was the way to go here . . .

    Only after he’d had the thought did the Fox’s second startled yelp penetrate his thoughts. Alarmed, he looked up to find the guardian staring at him in a way no normal animal ever would.

    “For the kindness,” Frid said, finding his words slower and thicker than he expected. He spent more Essence than he’d meant to, but not much, given that his anima banner was only “glowing,” and not a pillar of light visible for miles; how little had he had in the tank . . .?

    “For the kindness,” he repeated, more carefully, “of being concerned for me, not simply about me.” He took a deep breath, feeling the worst of the symptoms pass. “That deserves rewarding, too—I don’t know if you can use that, but you’re more than welcome to it . . .

    “And if it’s all right with you,” he continued, “I’m going to linger until this dissipates—no point in freaking out the mortals, eh?” He sighed, looking at the ground. “I shouldn’t be more than half an hour; again, I’m sorry for the troub—”

    There was suddenly a face filling his vision, a cold, wet nose bumping his own as the weight and momentum of a leaping fox sent him staggering back against one of the shrine’s pillars.

    The Fox barked, in a reproachful tone—but its tail was wagging excitedly.


    [Thou art I . . . And I am thou . . .
    Thou hast established a new bond . . .
    It brings thee closer to the truth . . .
    Thou shalt be blessed when creating Personas of the Hierophant Arcana . . .]




    What. The. HELL . . .?

    Again, Frid wasn’t a Persona-wielder, much less a Wild Card; he had absolutely no use for “blessings,” Social Links, and so forth! So, what in the bloody hell had THAT been about . . .?!

    The fact that it was for the wrong Arcana was unnerving, too. . . But with a little thought, that was almost understandable. People weren’t just one thing, and rarely related to everybody the same way—children treated their parents different from the way other adults, or other children, would, for example. The Fox might correlate to the Hermit so far as Yu Narukami was concerned—a distant and mysterious sage of great wisdom—but for someone with a closer link to the supernatural, it was just another spirit, albeit an elder one to be respected.

    But why did it happen in the FIRST PLACE?!

    Something
    was pushing him to be involved, here—and it wasn’t brute-forcing him down the canon path—or he’d have woken up as Yu Narukami at the train station, or at least made the Hermit Arcana Social Link with the Fox . . .

    Now frustrated (and more than a little unnerved) Frid sat down against the pillar and began mentally inventorying his resources; whatever was coming, he intended to be as ready as he could be to meet it—though he felt a nagging certainty that it wouldn’t be enough . . .

    Just
    how, exactly, did I get myself into this mess . . .?








    Avalon Castle, Phantasmagoria Island (Grail Works. Ltd. Headquarters)
    Beyond the boundaries of time and space









    Ilya stopped, suddenly, as a horrible possibility occurred to her. “Um—Onii-chan, I have a silly question . . .”

    Shirou smiled. “I don’t think any question you could have is silly, Ilya—what is it?”

    “Did you remember to ask them to tell Frid-san that he’d been volunteered for this . . .?”

    “O—” Shirou stopped in mid-syllable, and then looked blank. “Um . . .

    Ilya sighed. “Darn it, Onii-chan . . .








    Writer’s Notes: I was all set to give a Persona 5 version a shot while I wait for RB to finish his stuff (so I can help add to/refine it), but it turns out there’s at least a little more in the tank for this one. And, of course, an omake to go with it . . .










    Omake – The Other Joke (?) “La-” . . . OH, CRA—!








    While he was well aware of them, Frid hadn’t given much thought to the oddities of his time in the “TV World.”

    After all, the realm of Shadows and Personas was connected to the collective human unconscious—and while he very much was human, for all his abilities, he wasn’t exactly local. Why would he expect to cast a Shadow, in a world that wasn’t his . . .? As for his lack of a Persona—well, he had Charms and spells meant to bind demons, the dead, elementals, gods, and other such spiritual beings—it wasn’t exactly a loss, all things considered . . . But right here and now? At the end of the road, with all allies down and running on empty . . .? It would’ve been comforting. Having a Persona he’d built into an Ultimate form would’ve been a big confidence booster at this particular moment.

    Strategies flashed through his head, desperate options that would result in anything, any way, to stop this—or him dying, really, though if he had to do the latter to achieve the former, there wasn’t much of a choice . . .

    What Frid had heretofore failed to consider, however, was the fact that the games of Persona were interconnected; past elements and events carried on into future ones—sometimes simply for a laugh, sometimes as continual plot elements—but their individual presence did not invalidate the others.

    . . . And that while the expression of it varied from game to game, the gaining of a Persona through trauma and resolve was a constant.

    Ears attuned to literally ephemeral sound (meaning, sounds that did not physically exist) heard the shattering of glass—the breaking of barriers, in more than one sense. From behind Frid rose a silhouette, a form being cast upon the world; and with it, in deep, resonant tones, came the familiar words . . .

    “I am thou, and thou art—”







    “M̵̬͓̞͙̺̠̜͔̯̆̏͒̌̒͂̽̄͊̈́͑͝Į̷̝͙͇͔̲͉̝̘̲̟̺̓̉͒̔̌́N̴̛̅̾̚ ̡͈̲̟͙͍̮̣͙̯̤̭̮͉ͅE!̴̛̼̀̑̀͑̎̌͋̉̀͆́͌̕”











    The word was shrieked, with a sound like a chill autumn wind scraping dried leaves across a gravestone, and yet the voice was even more resonant than before, like the tolling of a funeral bell. The half-formed being of the Persona split, impaled from within by a golden spire; it was joined by several more, which began drilling their way out of it, lightning crackling between the ends, as they flew apart to rearrange themselves to form a tight, seemingly impenetrable cage around the lingering, burning remnants of the Persona . . . And then that cage flew, shrinking as it went—

    To fit comfortably, like a watchman’s lantern, into its creator’s waiting hand.

    Against the almost-entirely shielded glow of what was, in many ways, his own soul, the icy mien of the blonde seemed to soften, for an instant; what might have been a smile crossed her face, but it could equally have as easily been a trick of that light. In less time than it took to blink, any imperfections in the imperious cast of her face were erased, leaving only the stern and uncompromising sovereign.

    “My, my,” she said lightly, in a brittle tone that crackled like the ground threatening to give way under one’s feet. “I turn my back for a moment, and this happens . . . You’re nearly as bad as Ritsuka-san.

    She shook her head, sending those familiar blonde twin-tails flying in a gesture that would’ve been cute if the situation wasn’t so terrifying . . . After all, Ereshkigal sounded calm, but her eyes were gold, which was meant that she was both very serious, and extremely unhappy. But—and this was more important—it wasn’t Rin’s face she was wearing.

    “Rise . . .?”

    The voice was so weak that even Frid wasn’t sure who’d asked the question; and at that moment, he didn’t actually care. his entire focus was on the goddess clad in gold and silk, knowing that Ishtar in a host that wasn’t Rin—a host who, in fact, had no personality to speak of to filter the goddess through—had been a heartless bitch . . .

    And that Ishtar, relatively speaking, was the nice one.

    “I knew I should’ve kept you to myself . . .” she murmured. “But later—first, I want a word with you.

    Izanami-no-Okami started at being abruptly singled out.

    I? You demand to—

    “I can do that, too,”
    Ereshkigal said coldly, her voice suddenly possessing the same odd reverb effect. “But I find it a waste of effort. Instead, I’ll make this simple: you just attempted to take something of mine.

    And you are an intruder in My realm, seeking to make demands—what authority do you think you have here . . .?

    Ereshkigal frowned, her eyes narrowing to slits. “I have a contract—and better still, a loophole.

    The giant eldritch abomination twitched, giving the impression of blinking despite being eyeless.

    “Loophole . . .?”

    Now the Sumerian Queen of Night bared her teeth, in an expression that no one could call a smile (and which looked disturbingly at home on Rise Kujikawa).

    Yes . . . The Skill, after all, is called ‘Protection of the Underworld’—not ‘Protection of Kur.’

    Dropping into a kneeling position, Frid offered up his weapon, placing it in Ereshkigal’s hand before it had even been fully extended—for the goddess’ part, she grasped it without looking, rightly assuming that it would be there when she wanted it.

    “I,” she announced brightly, “will kill as many death goddesses as I have to in order to get the message across—HANDS OFF, HE’S MINE . . .!










    Additional Writer's Notes: Amusingly, I could see this working in Persona 5, as well; while Ann has the obviously physical resemblance, Haru strikes me as remarkably compatible with Ereshkigal, personality-wise . . .
    Last edited by Kieran; May 2nd, 2021 at 09:43 PM.
    “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

  3. #6843
    吸血鬼 Vampire
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    Interesting. Heirophant fits the fox, as you pointed out. Normally Dojima has that link, so I have no idea what that means for other Social Link re-mapping. That seems like a powerful tool to illustrate or inform the different ways Godafrid relates to people relative to Yu.
    A talisman of "converts currency to legal currency of whatever denomination is legal at the time" seems incredibly fitting for Tamamo to make, and is just the sort of useful yet not fraudulent tool I'd associate with a more spiritual view on "the value of money".

    Possessive Ereshkigal is cute yet scary. She just stuck his Persona into a lantern? Yikes. I wonder if we're treating her like Hel was an alternative guise, or Eresh just killed her previously. I'm a bit unclear on what weapon Godafrid is offering, though it may not actually matter.

    (Haru is ALSO scary)

  4. #6844
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    Interesting. Heirophant fits the fox, as you pointed out. Normally Dojima has that link, so I have no idea what that means for other Social Link re-mapping. That seems like a powerful tool to illustrate or inform the different ways Godafrid relates to people relative to Yu.
    Which makes it almost worth using even without the Persona aspect. (And I have found Charms, so far, where a Lunar can eat spirits to temporarily fuse them/their attributes with himself, so I suppose there is a way to use that mechanic . . .)

    As for the Links - just off the top of my head, he might see Nanako as the Star Arcana, given his association of innocence and joy with small children; or even the Moon, if he realises she's not as happy and cheerful as she seems. Others would require careful though, but that's an obvious one that springs to mind.


    A talisman of "converts currency to legal currency of whatever denomination is legal at the time" seems incredibly fitting for Tamamo to make, and is just the sort of useful yet not fraudulent tool I'd associate with a more spiritual view on "the value of money".
    Yes. Handy for the Works as a whole, too - it means they're not defrauding anyone, and have usable resources available (assuming they have any in the first place, of course).


    Possessive Ereshkigal is cute yet scary. She just stuck his Persona into a lantern?
    Well, a Persona does come "from the sea of thy soul," and his is VERY CLEARLY spoken for. That's exactly the point she's trying to make, in fact. Stupid foreign death goddesses trying to kill him on their turf, thinking that means they can claim him afterwards . . .


    Yikes.
    Well, Eresh is popularly noted for having some yandere tendencies, naturally; it seems that Rise, as a host, isn't quite the restraint on those tendencies that Rin is. Whether that's due to her own passionate nature, or something else, I leave to your imagination (for the moment, at least) - but it's just possible that she's a little ticked off about the whole "Marie" thing . . .


    I wonder if we're treating her like Hel was an alternative guise, or Eresh just killed her previously.
    Probably the latter - although it's possible he's run into another death goddess, somewhere. I'm just not sure who or how that might be, at the moment.


    I'm a bit unclear on what weapon Godafrid is offering, though it may not actually matter.
    Presumably something designed to really hurt.


    (Haru is ALSO scary)
    Yes, she is - which would make her perfect. (Also sheltered, remarkably shy, has an interest in gardening - all things that also match Eresh.)
    “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

  5. #6845
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Omake (of an Omake) – Outside Perspectives (AKA, I Got Bored)

    Yomotsu Hirasaka
    Path 9










    “I AM MERELY TRYING—TO GRANT THE WISHES OF HUMANITY—”

    “NOT MY HUMAN, YOU’RE NOT!”

    “. . . So, let me get this straight,” Kanji said uncertainly, not sure he wasn’t hallucinating due to a concussion. “He finally awakened a Persona—without having to go through all that ‘facing your Shadow’ stuff—and it somehow ended up possessing Rise-chan?”

    “Yup,” Yosuke said. “Then she went all Super Saiyan and started beating on that thing calling itself ‘Izanami’ like it insulted her idol career, her fashion sense and her weight all in the same breath.

    Eldritch screams of agony punctuated the truth of that statement.

    “That’s . . .” Naoto hesitated a beat, before continuing, “a colourful summation, but not entirely inaccurate.” She paused to consider the scene. “Also, I somehow find it strangely cathartic watching a girl of Rise’s age and build so thoroughly prove to be the superior combatant—”

    An oddly crystalline tinkling heralded the sudden appearance of a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton erupting from the ground—and all those who witnessed the subsequent chomping couldn’t help but compare it to the ringing of a dinner bell. The addition of a Triceratops skeleton to impale the eldritch abomination like an errant piece of sushi only heightened the resemblance.

    “—Even though I can’t even theoretically explain what’s going on any longer, never mind rationally doing so,” she finished flatly, a defeated look on her face.

    “That’s easy, Naoto—it’s called ‘girl power for the WIN!’” Chie cheered. She jumped in place, fists waving excitedly. “GO, RISE-CHAN! KICK ITS ASS!”

    “My, my,” Ereshkigal said in a tone like poisoned honey, and all the more unnerving coming out with Rise’s natural cheerfulness. “I do believe that humanity just MADE A WISH . . . !

    So!” Yosuke said brightly, turning away from the increasingly graphic carnage (and even more graphic and enthusiastic descriptions of oncoming carnage), “I’m terrified of Rise-chan in a whole new way, now—and should we be worried? I mean, what’s she liable to do, exactly, once she’s finished with . . .?”

    He waved in that direction without looking back—the sounds were bad enough, and the screams were only half the problem.

    “When she’s finished,” he repeated lamely.

    “To you, probably nothing,” Frid assured him. “Now me, on the other hand . . .”

    “Um, I have a question . . .” Yukiko said shyly.

    “Just ONE?” thought more than one member of the team.

    “Yes, Amagi-san?

    Yukiko blinked, taken aback. “Amagi—?

    “Her hearing is better than you’d think, even occupied as she is,” Frid said bluntly. “And while Ereshkigal’s normally admirably rational and even-handed, she’s feeling possessive right now. I’d rather not give her a reason, however spurious, to even think you’re a threat.”

    Yukiko went an impressive shade of pale for a Japanese girl; she resembled a porcelain doll.

    “Yeah,” the Exalt said with a grimace. “In any case, go ahead and ask your question.”

    “Oh!” Yukiko blinked, visibly startled. “. . . Uh, right.” She hesitated a moment, and then said, “If you had a Persona this powerful, why didn’t you use it before now? It looks like you could’ve ended all this months ago, going by . . . Well, that.

    “Because as you might’ve guessed, Ereshkigal isn’t actually a Persona, and she’s not ‘mine,’ exactly—though I’m certainly hers . . .

    “YOU HEAR THAT, YOU MISERABLE PILE OF—?!”

    . . . Wow, either Rise’s exerting more influence than I thought, or she was holding herself back a lot before in order to appear dignified.” After a beat, Frid cleared his throat. “OK, you’ve noticed that your Personas tend to manifest as mythological figures, right? And that those manifestations are described as a ‘summons?’ She hijacked mine in order to appear like this—probably under the loophole that she’s been allowed to do something similar before—but even so, she needed a compatible host to sync with; it’s a different way of restraining her power than by channelling it through a psychic projection, but it’s still a restraint.

    “I have to say, though, I’m surprised at her choice,” Frid admitted. “Kujikawa-san always struck me as closer to her sister’s type, as far as preference goes—if anyone, I’d have expected her to go for Amagi-san.

    EXCUSE ME?!” Yukiko burst out, shocked and finding herself more than a little offended.

    “Ordinarily, Amagi-san, Ereshkigal is very reserved, professional, and quiet to the point of being shy—it’s just that right now, describing her as absolutely furious is probably understating things.”

    “I’M GOING TO TAKE ALL THOSE STUPID BUTTONS AND SHOVE THEM—!”

    “. . . Yeah, that sounds about right,” Yosuke agreed. “I don’t think Rise-chan was even that angry over the hot springs . . .

    He winced at the angry glares from the other three females among his friends, and Frid decided to forego saying “I told you so” (for the umpteenth time), and instead try to explain.

    “That’s probably less Rise than Ereshkigal,” he said contemplatively. “See, if Izanami had decided to just wipe my memory about all this, or imprison me for the remainder of my natural life span, she wouldn’t have cared; even just killing me via proxy, like by burying me under an army of Shadows, she probably would’ve ultimately ignored . . .”

    Ignoring the looks of dawning horror on the teens’ faces, Frid continued, “However, Izanami is a goddess of the dead who tried to kill me personally, on her own turf, which could her give her a claim on my soul—right of conquest, and all that. But my afterlife has been very thoroughly planned out, thank you very much; and she doesn’t tolerate rivals any better than her sister does—they wouldn’t fight so much, otherwise. That’s the driving reason she’s here.”

    “Phrasing it like that, however,” Naoto prompted, “implies that you think there are other reasons she’s here, as well.”

    Frid winced, but reluctantly admitted, “Well, it’s just possible that she’s a little ticked off about Marie . . .

    “Huh,” Yosuke noted. “That would explain why she picked Rise-chan, I guess—”

    “It’s mostly that she was the only one of them still conscious at the time!” the blonde deity called back—offering further proof that yes, she could hear them, even at a conversational volume, and was paying attention, even as thoroughly engrossed as she seemed to be in her macabre task.

    Then she turned back to Izanami. “AND I’D ALMOST FORGOTTEN ABOUT YOUR LITTLE HONEY TRAP—!

    “. . . Huh,” Frid remarked after a moment. “Looks like Ishtar wasn’t the only one to pick up some bajiquan from Rin.”

    “. . . Is that what that is?” Kanji asked. “They are nice moves—very graceful.”

    “Yeah,” Chie agreed. “Think I could get her to teach me?”

    “Are you crazy, Chie?” Yosuke spluttered. “You seriously want to go up against that?!

    Chie glared at him. “I said want to learn from her, not spar with her . . .!”

    The boy shook his head, turning to Frid, “You always struck me as being a little weird, but you seriously dated HER?!

    “Almost the first words out of your mouth when you met Marie was an attempt to hit on her,” Frid countered flatly. “In other words, you made a pass at an avatar of that.

    Grk!” Yosuke stiffened, involuntarily turning towards the (now-mutilated) deity in question, before going several very unhealthy-looking colours at once.

    Further discussion, however, was cut off as the entire area began shaking violently—and not, as one might expect, because Ereshkigal had gotten herself especially worked up, but because the entire dimension was collapsing. Naturally, most of their time and energy was spent escaping, with a tiny portion of Frid’s consciousness devoted to worrying about exactly what this new incarnation/fusion of Eresh would end up doing to him—or to Rise, for that matter.

    As it turned out, upon returning to Inaba proper, before he or anyone else could even really ask questions, Frid found himself getting tackled by an unexpectedly affectionate glacier . . .








    Tatsuhime Shine, Inaba
    After Izanami’s defeat









    She felt him tense as the chill of her nature connected with his living warmth, but he relaxed, even as she greedily nestled against him for more of it. It wouldn’t heat her being, though even clothed in mortal flesh, she didn’t truly feel the cold any more than mortals were aware of the activity of every cell in their bodies—it was simply who and what she was, always. No, she clung to him because beyond the initial shock of her touch, he was troubled no further. No muscles tensed in reaction to her freezing arms wrapping around his neck, her icy thighs against his hips; no magics shielded him from her cold, though she knew he possessed such—she was simply welcome, as she was.

    Queen of the Great Earth, she was named; supreme goddess of the Underworld, and absolute monarch over all who ventured within—yet Ereshkigal had discovered that even she, cold as the death she ruled, was not wholly immune to the meaning of a campfire, of the warmth provided by hearth and home and friendship. Here and now, beneath her fingers, burned her flame; offered willingly and without fear, only the promise of welcome, always . . .

    And she touched him, and he did not flinch; she buried herself against his body and stole the heat from his skin, and he only smiled and asked if she was comfortable—and the promise was upheld.

    “I’m feeling very improper right now,” she admitted. “It must be my host . . . You’re right—this child would be more suited to Ishtar.”

    “Rise is nothing if not passionate, in everything she does,” he admitted. “It just sometimes takes her a while to figure out what she wants to do.”

    “And this new host is so tiny,” Ereshkigal complained. “My eye level is off from where I expect it to be.”

    “Are you about to complain that she’s a vessel unsuitable for your grandeur?” he asked dryly. “That is an Ishtar sort of complaint . . .”

    Her eyes widened. “Oh, no—you’re right! It’s worse than I thought, I’ve made a terrible mistake . . .!”

    “So, why Rise?

    His tone was inoffensive, but the question made it clear—he’d seen through her tiny fib. She was a bit surprised that none of the others had worked it out (one of them was supposed to be a solver of puzzles, weren’t they?), but not that he had, even as her cheeks reddened at being caught. After all, why wouldn’t someone closer to death be easier for her to contact? Why not, as he’d suggested, choose the girl closer to her own self as a host, rather than one that was more suitable for her sister . . .?

    “Because she is more like my sister,” Ereshkigal admitted. “Impulsive, passionate, more likely to dive into things without worrying about things like consequences, or how it might be seen . . . Things that I thought might help me go through with this plan.”

    “Plan?” he asked, in the same tone that some mortals might say “Bomb?”

    Ereshkigal smiled in self-satisfaction. She did so love explaining the intricacies of her work . . .

    “Well, after all,” she said slyly. “You have done a heroic thing in saving this place—this town, and perhaps and this world—and it is traditional for a hero to be rewarded, and for a goddess to reward her followers. And if that chosen reward is beneath the dignity of a goddess, then obviously, it’s the influence of my vessel . . . And unlike last time, there can hardly be an argument that my vessel is an innocent bystander in all of this—you did turn her down earlier, did you not . . .?”

    Of course I did—even if you weren’t a factor, she’s only fifteen, and I’m—”

    ‘Literally old enough to be her father’—which is true enough,” Ereshkigal admitted. “I, on the other hand, am as old as civilisation itself; your argument is no longer valid. I can certainly prevent any long-term consequences, and she is quite eager to reward her hero, Sem ~ pai . . .

    She ran her fingers across his chest, and his heart rate indicated that the shivers they provoked had nothing to do with her inherent cold—

    “You are definitely Ishtar’s sister,” he hissed—before all his muscles suddenly locked in place.

    “My Queen, did you deliberately set all this up, just so that you could have sex and I’d have no real excuse to refuse . . .?”

    Ereshkigal threw back her head and laughed, as she could never remember having laughed before.

    Finally, I made a plan that worked . . .!








    Fin
    Last edited by Kieran; May 6th, 2021 at 12:34 PM.
    “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

  6. #6846
    吸血鬼 Vampire
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    I love this. I love so much of this. I am slightly uncomfortable at the end, but it fits really well, and I think this omake is better for having it.

    The casual conversation as an absolutely brutal beatdown is going on is one of my favorite sorts of framing that only works in omake or other mediums that don't take themselves too seriously. The pauses are absolutely hilarious to imagine.
    I also really enjoy your descriptions of trust. There have been a few of them over the years, but they're always fuzzy and evocative, and uniquely tailored to the character. You do really satisfying work with emotional intimacy, and I could read those all day.

  7. #6847
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    I love this. I love so much of this.
    Thank you.



    I am slightly uncomfortable at the end, but it fits really well, and I think this omake is better for having it.
    I admit, it was a spur-of-the-moment decision to go in that direction with the last scene, but one that, in hindsight, made everything make so much sense . . .

    The original idea was simply "twin-tailed goddess possesses twin-tailed mortal," in my head. That Rise, as a navigator, has no combat skills simply meant she'd have an outlet for her frustrations at watching her friends get hurt; that she shares a seiyuu with Nobunaga was tempting, but the ruined the whole "Lancer" joke. Likewise, Ishtar might've been more appropriate, given her (and Rise's) connection to the Lovers Arcana, but again, ruined the joke.

    (The fact that Ereshkigal isn't part of the SMT series, but her husband, parents and freaking messenger - her son, in fact! - ARE was also freeing but an injustice I saw an opportunity to correct here.)

    In refreshing my memory where Rise is concerned, however, I found more. As previously noted, Rise is passionate. While she accepts being turned down just fine, she flirts with the protagonist whether or not she ends up dating him, and regardless of if he's dating someone else. And it's not just her Shadow that's prone to innuendo; the end of her dialogue during the New Year's shrine "date" makes it fairly clear that she's anticipating sex; she brushes it off in one dialogue option as a joke, but is honestly annoyed in the other that you're not thinking the same way - and this is after deciding to resume her idol career, which makes the idea a cardinal sin . . .

    Now granted, this is after reaching a maximum - or fairly high, at least? - intimacy level; Rise's not easy, by any means. But it did point to an influence that was very much more like (mythological) Ishtar than Ereshkigal (barring certain myths about her tempting Nergal deliberately), and led me to consider how that filter might affect our favourite goddess of the dead. Eventually, I realised that it might be the point, in fact - to nudge Ereshkigal into doing something she would normally be too responsible to do, no matter how tempted; and thinking that led me to make a connection that maybe that was the point - which would finally explain WHY Frid was in Persona 4, with just enough railroading to make it happen: it was all part of Ereshkigal's elaborate scheme to finally get laid.

    (Admittedly, it's also an attempt to handwave dealing with anime crushes, which gets harder as I get older - a Persona 5 version of this would note that Makoto's sister is almost half a decade too young for me, under the "half your age + 7" rule - but Rise cares about being with the one she loves, and Eresh, as noted, has that counter to the "my body might be young, but the mind is way too old for you" argument. It's another part of why the coupling worked for the pair of them.)



    The casual conversation as an absolutely brutal beatdown is going on is one of my favorite sorts of framing that only works in omake or other mediums that don't take themselves too seriously. The pauses are absolutely hilarious to imagine.
    Me, too - and this was really fun to write.



    I also really enjoy your descriptions of trust.
    In honesty, I blame at least part of it on growing up with dogs, and spending a lot of time around other dogs and cats (and rabbits, thanks to my sister ). You really get a sense of that from dealing with them - they ask for so little, are so happy to get it, and can be so excited or relaxed, just because they're dealing with you . . . Hear an animal sigh because you're petting them, and feel their muscles relax under your hand, and the knowledge that all is right in their world is like nothing else.



    There have been a few of them over the years, but they're always fuzzy and evocative, and uniquely tailored to the character. You do really satisfying work with emotional intimacy, and I could read those all day.
    Again, thank you. I can't immediately put into words how much that means to me; and I'm not sure that taking a few days to ruminate on it would help, either.
    Last edited by Kieran; May 6th, 2021 at 09:40 AM.
    “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

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