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Thread: Skipping all the Steps [Exalted/FSN]

  1. #81
    Venus Swordman Ergast's Avatar
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    Akasha should be translated as the same, as far as I know.

    Spoiler:
    Quote Originally Posted by shiningphoenix View Post
    Rin: "I wanted Saber..."
    Archer: "What? But Archers are all insanely OP, it's like a rule or something, why would you think Sabers were better?"
    Rin: "Sabers are more molestable..."
    Quote Originally Posted by Vigilantia View Post
    AC!Rin. Fixing problems one moan at a time.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sage of Eyes View Post
    Denizens of another dimension, meet Rin Tohsaka, Tsundere of Mass Destruction
    Quote Originally Posted by Christemo View Post
    I dont even know what Lunatique is. I assume it's terrible for the sake of argument.

  2. #82
    夜魔 Nightmare
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    This is pretty interesting.

  3. #83
    First Priest of the Urobutcher Golden Lark's Avatar
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    On my arrival the forest was indeed gone. Burned, no less. As expected, evidence of another fresh 'hatching' was blatantly left at the scene. The nearby lake was dried, and something is written out on it in an unknown script with copious amounts of blood. A sketch is attached.

    What worries me most is that none of the common (insofar as this has been common) environmental warpings have occurred. No basalt or brass, besides the brass coating the inside of the 'petals' of the 'egg.' No crystals or sand or unusual creatures of darkness lurking nearby. The ground around the egg was barren but for some flowers, which might have pointed to a scouring wind, but on closer examination I found unregistered deposits of iron and coal under the surface. Further away the burned vegetation begins as expected, excepting the yellow flowers. Again, I have attached sketches.

    I am summoning some elementals posthaste to regrow the forest and restore the lake; this little patch of Creation should be repaired soon enough. The underground resources cannot be destroyed, so I am personally writing them into the Loom to prevent any loose ends.

    [In a different handwriting]

    Rudbeckias? Why the hell are there rudbeckias everywhere? Those don't even grow in Malfeas! I swear, if some half-asleep wood elemental danced all over my crime scene before my agent arrived I will personally come down there, find it, and fling it into the maw of the Tseng O myself!

    -Swirling Amber Robes, Chosen of Journeys, annotated by Column of Air, Chosen of Secrets, in a field report.[/I]

    [****]

    After some time had passed, Senbrek broke the silence.

    We need to move.

    Shirou blinked.

    What's the hurry?

    All I know is that we need to be as far from the chrysalis as we can get before people come here to investigate it.

    Shirou frowned and stood up.

    I guess that makes sense. He glanced down at his body. Crap, I'm naked.

    Yeah, that happens. We can get you something to wear later; better to be naked in the countryside than caught freshly popped as a Chosen of the Yozi.

    Yozi?

    Long story. Get moving.

    I need to bury the kids.

    He could feel the ape's exasperated snort.

    It doesn't matter. They'll be taken care of. The ones that hate us hate leaving bodies to rot too.

    Shirou looked around for anything useful.

    Where's that bracelet you had?

    Went back home. I didn't need it anymore.

    Ah. I'm sorry.

    You're an odd one, kid.

    Said the thousand year old monkey, Shirou couldn't resist.

    Blood Ape. And how did you figure that out?

    Saw it the first time I laid eyes on you. Magic.

    Huh. Well, as I was saying before, the name's Senbrek. And while the chat's nice and all, you need to move.

    Shirou sighed and stretched.

    Well, clothes aren't an issue, at least.

    He closed his eyes, and relaxed his mind.

    "Trace, on."

    Nothing happened.

    What are you doing?

    Quiet for a moment, please.

    The ape obliged.

    Shirou sat down, crossed his legs, and flushed his mind of unnecessary thoughts. The battle, the girls, the children, everything. Only himself, only the target. The ideal. The goal. He had done this thousands of times.

    "Trace, on."

    No burning. No feedback. No response whatsoever, metaphysical or otherwise.

    Only after the second failure solidified in his consciousness did his heart skip a beat. He stood up quickly, mind shifting into a very neglected gear.

    Panic.

    Oy. What's wrong? It's not the best situation but it's nothing to get this scared about.

    My magic is gone.

    Huh? What, the crap you were doing before? The swords?

    Yes.

    Shirou didn't mince words. He looked around, deciding on an escape path.

    West. Away from the sun since it's morning. Safer wildlife, easier to avoid humans.

    Thanks.

    Shirou took off at a dead run.

    [***]

    As he ducked behind trees and other obstacles while looking ahead, he had been having a running conversation with Senbrek.

    So you're saying you used to be able to do your tricks by forcing Essence into your, uh, magic whatsits, which really hurt?

    More or less, yes. Magic Circuits, and it was Prana, not Essence.

    Sure, kid. Well, now's as good as ever. Try skipping all that crappy painful business and just start at the part where you push your power into what you're doing.

    Uh, I don't think it works like that-

    Trust me, kid. You got the package, and it re-wired you. You work like I do now. Did. Better than I did.

    Sure.

    Shirou tried to manifest Kanshou and Bakuya, his favored twin black and white short swords. Instead of their heavy grips appearing in his hands, he got two bursts of green flames.

    Yeah, like that. Perfect.

    Uh, that's not exactly what I was going for.

    You'll get better. Or so the script assures me.

    Script?

    Yeah. Part of this whole package was popping a bunch of crap in my head before they popped me in your head. So I have a general idea of how you are supposed to use your power. For the most part it will be easier when you need it.

    I need clothes.

    Easy. Get into the sun.

    Shirou stepped out into the light.

    Now channel the power through your shadow.

    Shirou blinked, then tried. Nothing happened.

    Easier said than done.

    Eh. I'm just working with what I have. Says something about the lie being the important part.

    Oh? Sounds familiar.

    Years of practice at self-deception allowed Shirou to shift mental gears so as to reinforce delusion. The same iron will that kept him believing the weapons he used to create were real could be easily repurposed.

    Now, uh, grab it and pull it up over you and look different.

    Shirou closed his eyes and as such didn't see his shadow retract under him, swirl up around him for a moment, then deposit itself back at his feet in its normal position. He felt, rather than thought, the information that flooded into the liquid darkness as it ran over him. When he opened his eyes, his old 'business suit' was on; complete with the red holy shroud he had chosen not to wear before the incident. A black sleeveless vest with armor plating, long black pants tied down flush to his legs, and heavy boots that could endure the abuse he put them through by kicking with reinforced legs.

    However, it all felt very light and ephemeral, and he didn't think it was actually going to serve as proper armor in a pinch.

    Looking himself over in detail, he noticed his hands were distinctly paler as well.

    Wait a second . . .

    Looks like it worked. Boring, but useful for you hairless types. Guess it's how you all don't die from cold.

    Ah, I guess.

    Next is, uh . . . crap, I dunno. Says to go take care of whatever business you had before reporting for duty. Slaughter enemies, satisfy grudges, get anything that's bothering you out of your system. Basically have fun.

    Right. I'll get right on that.

    Shirou didn't try to pry regarding the ape's idea of fun, instead turning his focus to a plan. First he'd need to find civilization, then he'd need to get real clothes and probably real armor . . . and weapons, reluctantly.

    He was naked, and without his normal powers. All he had of value was his cooking skill. That would have to do. Cooking wasn't the most lucrative profession, but with some time and dedication-

    Wait.

    He doesn't speak the language.

    What language were you speaking?

    Realm. The first language. A pause. Apparently it's called 'Old Realm' now here in Creation. How quaint.

    So can you translate for me?

    The ape was quiet for a second.

    I don't think many people you'll find out here will speak it. That bracelet had me ready to talk to anyone speaking any language in Creation, but then you showed up with your gibberish.

    Thanks.

    No prob. Anyways, you'll be really suspicious running around speaking Old Realm. Unless you come up with some really great bullshit as to why.

    Shirou waited for more.

    Hey, don't look at me, I just break stuff. Lying's too much trouble. I just punch bad things until they stop being bad, or they stop being things.

    Considering your performance against those skeletons, I guess that approach has its merits.

    Damn straight.

    So, Shirou considered how to best approach getting that he needed as being a strange guy in a strange land that didn't speak the language.

    You could always just kill people and take their stuff, I guess.

    Shirou sighed. It was going to be a long day.

    [***]

    Eventually he came to a road, and decided to take his chances following it. He wasn't overly feeling the pangs of hunger yet, but that was probably more due to his own not-inconsiderable training than anything the new power did to him. He kept heading west, or at least west-veering as he followed the road.

    I had to avoid roads on my way to you, so I can't help with landmarks or anything. I came from more north. I think it's north. Back home we don't really use those directions.

    No problem. Roads mean people. People can be generous or bad. If they are the bad sort, then we might do things your way after all.

    Shirou was no stranger to random thuggery, and encountered plenty of it in his time traveling the world with Rin and Saber.

    Usually, he avoided unnecessary bloodshed and got out of trouble with his possessions and body intact.

    Usually, he could call upon a vault full of infinite magical (and non-magical) swords.

    Eventually, he glanced back and noticed motion on the road far behind him. He kept walking until he found some shade, and waited. When they were close enough to identify as a likely caravan, he got up and started walking forward again; if he was going to let them overtake him it would be best to do so in a place clear in the open, so they didn't mistake him for a bandit.

    As evening drew closer, they were in audible range, and he could make out that the beasts of burden pulling the carts in more detail, and realized they were not the mammoths he had initially taken them for. Taking everything new and strange in stride, he adjusted his expectations accordingly; while he had seen familiar plant and animal life in abundance, he had seen plenty of odd flowers and other things he couldn't name as well. Any animals in the wild were too canny to let him get close.

    When he could make out the riders on mounts to either side clearly, his mind's eye image of their threat level was suddenly as clear as day; mundane, mortal, and non-magical.

    He moved off to the side of the road and kept walking, allowing the caravan to pass. Nodding to the guards at the front, he purposefully did not 'check out' the various wagons or their contents, leaving his back open and his gaze ahead.

    Eventually the caravan overtook him completely, and gradually pulled into the distance. As the sun began to set, he crested a hill and saw them stopped ahead, drawn up and ready for the night just off the road.

    As he walked past he was beckoned over by some of the caravaners and they tried to strike up conversation.

    Some of the words are sort of familiar but I've got nothing. Try this:

    Senbrek pronounced some sounds clearly in Shirou's mind, and he reproduced them.

    The caravaners glanced at each other, then after some quiet consideration one yelled at a boy, who ran off deeper into the camp. A few placating gestures kept Shirou from walking off. Soon an irritated-looking older man in fancier robes than the rest strode over to the group. The caravaners directed him to Shirou, and Shirou repeated his phrase.

    He says "Of course I speak the tongue, fool. Why aren't you talking in a normal language?" What do you wanna say?

    "I can speak no others."

    Senbrek translated, and Shirou recited.

    Eyes wider, the man asked something else, and his expression changed during Shirou's hesitation while Senbrek translated.

    Ah, it's extra big words. "How many planks could a boreplank bore if a-" Ah, shit, he's on to us.

    The man nodded smugly and spoke to the others, then ushered Shirou back to a bigger wagon-tent. Incense and musty books assaulted Shirou's nose, and he could swear he heard Senbrek sneeze, mentally.

    Senbrek went into pure translation mode for a bit as the man opened conversation.

    "So, boy, how did you manage to get your languages stripped away and still manage to convince a demon to translate for you?"

    Shirou shrugged.

    "Bad luck and talent, I guess?"

    The man laughed.

    "Talent! That's one word for it. I'd ask what manner of demon it was but it would probably take the time to inflate out a bunch of titles for itself-" Not likely. "-and waste our time. Obviously your languages were stripped from you by the Fae. Or even if not, that is a wonderful excuse. So! This caravan is heading back to Greyfalls. If you have something to pay with to join up you could travel along. Or I could probably get you some work if you had any skills of value. In exchange, my finder's fee would be a couple hours every day speaking with your assistant, if that is acceptable. As an added incentive I can let you look at some of my language books to see if you can kick-start your memories. The Fae are fickle and inconsistent; they may very well have stripped you of merely your memories of the spoken word, not your ability to speak a given language at all. In that case you'll be back talking to regular folk in no time. "

    Shirou tried not to get lost in the man's endless stream of words.

    "Uh, thanks. I can cook, I guess."

    The man nodded.

    "Then we'll see if that will convince the caravan's master to let you stick around for a bit. By the way, I am known as Spinner of Ropes. I am the . . . occult specialist on this caravan. It's my job to note things of particular value that are not obvious to the untrained eye."

    Shirou tried not to glance around the tent, now that he was aware of the sobriquet. Indeed, in his immediate vision, ropes and cords of all sizes and thicknesses seemed to be draped over or wrapped around various furniture; never mind the colorful ones visible just inside Spinner's robes.

    He repressed a resigned chuckle.

    "Things of particular value, he says."

    Spinner smiled wide, more than one tooth glinting with gold.

    "Oh yes, good sir. Anyone that can walk away from having their very words torn away and still manage what you have is of particular interest. People that have your knack for survival tend to become involved in things. Things that make you not just potential customers, but potential repeat customers."

    Shirou smirked. "The best kind."

    "Indeed! And even if I never see you again, wherever your travels take you, a kind word about Spinner of Ropes and his arcane wares will pay me back a thousandfold in due time. I am far from the only practitioner of my art, but I have learned that one's name is as important to the sale as the actual product itself. It is this wisdom that has me here on a caravan rather than somewhere more sane or safe, like Great Forks."

    Shirou nodded, using a decade of dealing with Tohsaka to prevent the full scope of his ignorance from showing through. Since Spinner didn't have the equivalent decade of seeing through his facade, he won that little contest easily.

    Oy. Can you wrap it up? He talks too fast. I didn't know I could get tired without a body to exhaust.

    Shirou nodded mentally.

    "I'm Shirou. I know that much, at least. I guess the first problem is learning how to talk again," he said.

    "Indeed, honorable Shirou! And do I have the book for you!" A deceptively compact volume was pulled out from a shelf.

    "The local language is Riverspeak, where this caravan is heading. This book is a guide for those in the area to deal with spirits, and spirits all speak Old Realm; though not in the particular dialect you employ. Over the next two weeks, as you earn your keep, I want you to study this book. Call it an investment; beyond the experiment itself and the learning, seeing how quickly you recover from what was done to you should be informative in and of itself."

    Shirou nodded his head in thanks and took the book. He then followed Spinner out to the camp for formal introductions to the caravan owner and a short-term contract of employment.

    [***]

    In two weeks the caravan finally had made sight of the city of Greyfalls, and Spinner quietly advised Shirou to vanish once they had gotten inside the city walls. As his 'contract' espoused no payment in cash or further obligation to the caravan, it would offend no one and save him the potential notice from local associates of less scrupulous members of the caravan's party.

    Shirou waved over his shoulder at the pleasantly helpful man as he left, planning to make good on his promise to seek his wares by name if he ever found a need for them. It was the least he could do, after all.

    That guy was shadier than the Dragon's armpit.

    Huh?

    No one is that nice or that helpful without a reason.

    He gave us a reason. Future customers of 'great destiny,' or something.

    The reasons they give are never the real reasons.

    Okay, maybe he just wanted to help.

    Oh? Well, watch your back. He probably sold you out to his own buddies on the street here, and sent you off so you'd be isolated when they came for you.

    That's rather cynical.

    Where I'm from, that's Marsday.

    Shirou didn't comment further, mentally parsing the fact that in very Earth-Western fashion the days of the week were in fact named for the local celestial bodies. Bodies that, if the pictures in the book he had read were at all accurate, were perfect analogues of their Earthly counterparts.

    Shirou had not ruled out the Kaleidoscope completely from his concerns about how he arrived here, but he rather doubted Rin had done anything in that direction before the fight without warning him, first.

    Rin.

    He stumbled in a step, and slipped up against the wall of the building he was near, out of the way of foot traffic. No one gave him as passing glance as he momentarily left the flow of civilization, finally allowing himself to slip out of the moment for a bit.

    Even Senbrek seemed to be at peace, his regular coarse commentary easing off as he borrowed Shirou's senses and absorbed the sights and sounds and smells of a city. Feeling his passenger's attention focused elsewhere, Shirou let himself think about Rin and Saber a bit- but not in excess. Not yet.

    Before he would mourn his loss, he would do them the respect of running his situation and actions through their filters. It was the least he could do, and it was a refreshing exercise to boot; thinking of their complaints and appropriately snarky counters before they could even voice them in the first place.

    First, Saber.

    His actions immediately on his arrival were probably honorable and just. His handling of the children was beyond her reproach. Agreeing to the ape's deal so hastily would have been unwise, but it would have been his nature to do so. If he had failed at the fortress, it would have been in gaining any intelligence on the owner; despite his unintentional and accidental trespass, the nature of the place seemed to betray the presence of a dark and evil ruler. One that would become his enemy for the sheer sake of it once they learned of his intrusion and theft of the children. It would have behooved him to gather what knowledge he could about an inevitable future foe. As for the final fate of the children, there was no stopping it. Perhaps with more knowledge he would have understood what had happened to the boy before it was too late, but that was impossible.

    A tragedy, but one he could not blame himself for.

    Rin's likely perspective was shorter, and harsher.

    He should have gone full Robin Hood and robbed the necromancer jerk blind on his way out. Other than that he was good. Creepy kid, though. He was an idiot for taking the deal, but that goes without saying and nothing would have stopped him from taking it.

    Well, nothing short of a Gandr curse or five knocking him out, but she wasn't present to provide.

    He stepped back out onto the road and started to make his way deeper into the city.

    Finally, some action I can relate to.

    It's time to look for some paying work and a place to sleep at night.

    Find some sucker, crack some skulls, and - wait, what?

    Apparently the two of them still had some misunderstandings to clear up.

  4. #84
    Great chapter.

  5. #85
    Ahahahahahahaha! Hymn of Ragnarok's Avatar
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    Nice. I like where this is going, and the banter between Shirou and Senbrek.

    That said, Senbrek seemed to be a lot chattier this time around. Before he didn't speak much and when he did he was short and to the point. More slang, colloquial feel here too. Bit more rambly. I get that talking is essentially all that you have left to characterize him, but I'm not sure whether this is revealing a new side to his character now that he isn't hauling the Exaltation or if it's inconsistent characterization. He's still kind short and to the point, but he does so with a lot more words.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hymn of Ragnarok
    I refuse to believe that any eroge scene with Taiga would not make allusions to her Christmas Cake status, and this being Nasu, include references to making a cake. Stirring the batter, whisking the eggs, swirl the mixture around....
    Quote Originally Posted by RadiantBeam
    ....

    IS THIS REVENGE, HYMN? REVENGE FOR ALL THE ABUSE I PUT YOU THROUGH?
    That's all, folks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy, Vlad_the_II (3 times), Radiantbeam (5 times), YeOfLittleFaith, Ars Poetica, The Curious Fan, Raven2785, zhead
    Damn you Hymn.
    Quote Originally Posted by Spinach, KAIZA (2 times), Old_Iron, YeOfLittleFaith (2 times), Trevelyan, ianmuff, ZidanReign, Sage of Eyes, legoguydude, KooriRenchuu, Break, Keyne
    Bless you Hymn.

  6. #86
    First Priest of the Urobutcher Golden Lark's Avatar
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    Senbrek's speech patterns and his mental monologue sort of blur together for him now. He's not so much chatty as his thoughts and what he'd say out loud are slowly getting harder to keep apart.

    He has essentially been re-purposed into a devil on Shirou's shoulder, and has to re-learn how to think. At this time when he thinks about something relevant to Shirou, Shirou tends to hear it. He'll soon get the hang of knowing when to purposely communicate or not, for their mutual sanity.

  7. #87
    Ahahahahahahaha! Hymn of Ragnarok's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Golden Lark View Post
    Senbrek's speech patterns and his mental monologue sort of blur together for him now. He's not so much chatty as his thoughts and what he'd say out loud are slowly getting harder to keep apart.

    He has essentially been re-purposed into a devil on Shirou's shoulder, and has to re-learn how to think. At this time when he thinks about something relevant to Shirou, Shirou tends to hear it. He'll soon get the hang of knowing when to purposely communicate or not, for their mutual sanity.
    Okay, that makes more sense. So Senbrek essentially has no filter between his brain and his mouth for the time being? Or less of a filter at any rate.

    Interesting concept, I have to admit.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hymn of Ragnarok
    I refuse to believe that any eroge scene with Taiga would not make allusions to her Christmas Cake status, and this being Nasu, include references to making a cake. Stirring the batter, whisking the eggs, swirl the mixture around....
    Quote Originally Posted by RadiantBeam
    ....

    IS THIS REVENGE, HYMN? REVENGE FOR ALL THE ABUSE I PUT YOU THROUGH?
    That's all, folks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy, Vlad_the_II (3 times), Radiantbeam (5 times), YeOfLittleFaith, Ars Poetica, The Curious Fan, Raven2785, zhead
    Damn you Hymn.
    Quote Originally Posted by Spinach, KAIZA (2 times), Old_Iron, YeOfLittleFaith (2 times), Trevelyan, ianmuff, ZidanReign, Sage of Eyes, legoguydude, KooriRenchuu, Break, Keyne
    Bless you Hymn.

  8. #88
    First Priest of the Urobutcher Golden Lark's Avatar
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    Senbrek, at his end, was far from a typical Blood Ape. He did not reach his advanced age by being reckless. His amorality and brutality were practical, effective, and refined. He intimidated, assaulted, and sacked as needed. Far more importantly, he kept his head down and refused to become engaged in affairs outside of his single alleyway avenue. This last point, more than any feat of strength, is what prevented the greater misfortunes of the Demon City from raining down on him like so much acid from the skies.

    Unfortunately for his sense of self preservation, Emiya Shirou shared little of his caution, moderation, and restraint.

    -Coelica, the Frozen-Light Chronicle, seventh soul-progeny of the Unlimited Bladeworks

    [*****]

    I’m telling you, it’s easy. Plenty of demons down on their luck squatted in my territory and downright thrived for years sometimes before I caught them. Eventually I learned all the tricks and how to spot them, but that doesn’t make them useless.

    They just up and shared with you?

    Well, no, I thrashed them once I caught them, and the smart ones shared tips and sometimes made a living for themselves under me afterwards.

    And the dumb ones?

    There were no dumb ones by the time I was done with them.

    Charming.

    Shirou had been mentally debating Senbrek on the merits of his unique approach to life in the city as he walked through Greyfalls. The gorrilla apparently lived in a somewhat depressing-sounding city, from what Shirou could parse of the flood of contextless details. A brutal social caste system, an overall dog-eat-dog society, and some sort of glaring all-penetrating light that couldn’t simply be the sun. As Senbrek lacked frames of reference for sizes and scales that Shirou was more familiar with, the new Exalt decided to attribute “buildings as far as the eye can see in all directions” as “being surrounded by skyscrapers and never actually leaving the area they enclosed around you,” or something.

    Senbrek’s public works resume was more or less summed up as ‘beating the hell out of all trespassers until they provided value to the public.’ In this case, he was the public, and the only value he seemed to seek was ‘reduction in trouble in his alley.’ On pointing out that Senbrek himself sounded like trouble, the ape quickly dismissed the notion. “First circles don’t count. Trouble means trouble for citizens. No one cares who I thrash so long as it isn’t anyone important. And in my alley, no one thrashed anyone important.” The demon paused for a moment. “Usually.”

    Further inquiry on this topic was tabled for a time as Shirou had entered a drinking establishment of sorts. He spotted a sign soliciting kitchen work and slipped inside along with the evening crowd. A quick word with the bartender had him sitting off to the side as the cook was busy with the dinner rush and couldn’t evaluate him yet.

    Various types filed in, apparently fresh off work. Mostly rougher looking men, Shirou assumed they were blue collar types and relaxed. Senbrek saw fit to quiet down for a while, and so they sat in silence until the doors opened to admit a couple women. Other than seeming slightly out-of-place, Shirou didn’t really note anything worth mentioning about their arrival. This lasted until Sebrek apparently tapped into his sense of smell.

    You wanted to avoid trouble, right? Then you should leave.

    Huh? They don’t look like trouble at all.

    Well, of course not. But they’re scared. They’re not comfortable, and the horny types are going to- here we go.

    A few patrons turned to the ladies and began speaking.

    What? They’re getting hit on in a bar.

    This isn’t the kind of bar you go to to get hit on. Well, not that kind of hit on, at least. And those two don’t smell like whores. At least, they don’t have a dozen other scents on them. Humans all smell the same.

    That was rude.

    Hey, whoring is a perfectly respectable and lucrative business back home. Entire races do it!

    Shirou didn’t quite know how to respond to that line, so he ignored it. Instead, he watched the women get less and less comfortable with the attention they garnered, and finally acknowledged that he didn’t like the direction things were going.

    After a few dismissive words were flung around, the crowd was made aware that they were waiting for someone. When one man reached out to grab the taller of the two regardless, Shirou stood up. When she reared back for a slap, he started forward.

    Oy. You’re not just going to - you said you’d avoid trouble!

    Instead of responding, Shirou walked up behind the man getting slapped. As soon as he pulled back his fist for a strike of his own, Shirou grabbed it and held it back. Chatter went quiet. Before the man could speak, Shirou opened his mouth first.

    “Get out,” he growled.

    Mentally, he recoiled a bit. He didn’t mean to say exactly that or use that tone, but the damage was done. He was apparently a lot angrier than he gave himself credit for.

    The man’s friends had started to surround him, and he quickly went down his mental list of ways to diffuse the situation nonviolently. Surprisingly, Senbrek’s opinion was succinct and accurate.

    The only way you’re dodging a fight is by scaring them shitless, and for now you don’t look like much. Your new power would work, but that would just bring even more trouble.

    So, he ignored the man’s retort, he dismissed his friends’ threats, and focused solely on the inevitable incoming strike. It came from the side, and he flexed the right muscles at the right moment to all but nullify what would have been a good sucker punch.

    Now that he hadn’t thrown the ‘first punch’ he began acting in self defense. The man whose arm he held tried to twist away, and was flung into one of his approaching companions. A few brutal punches intended to knock out the man who hit first landed true, and Shirou didn’t even bother to watch him fall before turning to the final one.

    Or, well, what would have been the final one, but a full-fledged bar fight seemed to be breaking out.

    Why doesn’t anyone ever accept that they’ve lost? Rejection, fights, it’s all the same. Jealously, petty vindictiveness. People are always the same, and always create more victims.

    He was almost operating on instinct now. All people in the tavern were either aggressors or bystanders. Bystanders took priority over aggressors. An aggressor about to take a hit took priority over the one hitting him. Shirou had mentally tagged and prioritized the whole population of the establishment and launched himself into the fray, already determined to end this conflagration without fail. Depressingly few patrons stayed out of the fight, and in a few short minutes Shirou was the last man standing. Catching his breath, he looked around.

    Broken chairs, tables, and dishes littered the room. Virtually all the fallen men were at the ends of the trajectories Shirou had put them on, groaning or simply unconscious. As his mind replayed the fight, he realized that the majority of the men had eventually zeroed in on him, and he methodically put them all down. He was not proud to note that as he inched closer and closer to being overwhelmed, he had been gradually more brutal in his methods.

    It . . . it was like when he was a kid all over again, beating up bullies in alleys on the way home from school. Rage and single minded determination won out over his decades of swordwork, archery, and magecraft. Suddenly he felt sick.

    Ah, boss, we’re missing those girls and a couple of the guys that bothered them.

    And the sickness was dismissed as Shirou blinked and verified Senbrek’s words. By this point the owners had come out and started yelling, but he paid them no heed as he ran outside and looked around. If he was lucky, he’d see the girls running away in terror, or they’d be long gone, and that would be fine. If he was unlucky . . .

    He rushed down the road a bit and ducked into the closest alley. Sure enough, both women were on the ground and two of the less injured men that started the fight were bearing down on them, their intentions clear. Their heads jerked around to face Shirou, and he could see tiny motes of green light reflected in four pairs of eyes.

    Why?

    I beat them.

    I saved people from them.

    They were already utterly defeated.

    What is it going to take to stop them from doing this again?

    He clenched his fist in frustration, and blinked as he felt a pop.

    He looked down.

    He was at the back of the alley, kneeling down.

    To his left, slumped over, was the barely-breathing body of one of the two men. In front of him were the two women, pushing themselves back against the wall in abject terror. At his feet was the second man, and in his hand was the mangled and pulped ruins of the second man’s elbow. The entire scene was lit by hellishly green light, and he could barely make out the details of the injuries he apparently inflicted in the wildly moving shadows.

    He looked up at the terrified women, then back down at the- his victim.

    “No.”

    Boss?

    “No. I won’t let this happen.” He immediately began tearing a strip of the man’s shirt off for use as a tourniquet. Frisking him revealed a knife and a flask. A sniff confirmed it was strong alcohol.

    “Good enough.”

    Pouring some on the knife and wiping it would have to do. He looked at the remains of the arm and chose the best place to cut, severing the limb cleanly with a concave swipe of the blade, allowing him to pinch spare skin shut over the stump of bone. He idly noted that it should have been much more difficult to do so with just a knife and his bare hands. Tying around and around, he cut off the bleeding as best he could with the cloth and eyed the actual wound. He had no needle and thread for stitches.

    Cauterization, then.

    One problem. He needed two hands to hold the wound shut. He glanced up at the women. They looked more confused now than terrified.

    “One of you come here and hold this shut, please.”

    Startled at being addressed, they gaped at him for a moment. The shorter one recovered first.

    “Wh- what are you doing?”

    “Saving his life.”

    “Why?”

    The taller one was pulling on her companion’s sleeve, apparently trying to awaken her to the questionable wisdom of speaking to the monster in front of them. Shirou shoved those thoughts aside and replied.

    “Because it’s the right thing to do.”

    “But you just-”

    “I know. I was angry, and then I woke up. Will you help me, or not?”

    No threat in his words or tone. A surreal calm filled him. He would deal with the details of whatever just happened in good time. For now, there was a life to be saved, and he would not, would NOT, break down just yet.

    The shorter one hesitated, and just as Shirou decided it was a lost cause the taller one moved forward. She splashed her hands with some of the liquor from the flask and grabbed onto the man’s arm. At Shirou’s mildly surprised look she glanced away and mumbled.

    “Pa- Father always said that a good hard drink would clean wounds, hands, and souls, at home or on the battlefield.”

    Shirou just nodded and let go, allowing her to secure her grip. Grabbing the flask, he poured the rest on the wound carefully, making sure not to get any on any clothes or the bandage. He tossed it aside and sighed.

    Green fire, eh?

    Senbrek didn’t respond.

    He looked each woman (girl? he couldn’t tell) in the eyes deliberately.

    “Do not panic, whatever you see.”

    Then he held up one hand and forced power through, and flames answered his call.

    [***]

    It took focus, but eventually he reduced the flame to a single finger. If he had to describe it, back when he pushed prana out of his hands to make (or more accurately, draw out) a sword, he used his whole palm and all five fingers. What he was doing now was like trying to project a dagger balanced on one fingertip, so with his ‘new’ power he managed a single jet of flame from one finger.

    He then looked the taller woman in the eye and she nodded, and he dragged it across the wound, searing flesh shut with a single motion. She let go and let the stump rest on the dying man’s chest, and backed away to her friend.

    The other man’s breath caught short, and Shirou turned his head. He made eye contact, and hardened his expression as he stood up. He loomed over the second man and frowned.

    “You know a doctor?”

    The man returned his stare without moving. Shirou’s gaze ran over the body. Bruises and abrasions, but nothing lethal. Nothing keeping him from walking beyond the shock of being slammed into a wall.

    His options were all bad. However, he was still pragmatic. If he was a monster to these people, he could use that to save a life without flinching. He grabbed the man’s shirt and lifted him up without effort.

    “Stand up.”

    He let go and the man stayed standing. However, the shifty eyes and balance told Shirou he was about to run at the first chance he got. So, Shirou punched the wall next to his head and let green fire scorch the wall a bit. Suddenly he had the man’s full attention.

    “You will pick up your friend. You will take him to a doctor. You will do these things, or else-”

    He slowly backed up and knelt down, picking up the severed arm. The man did not take the opportunity to run, probably because doing so would bring him closer to the glowing embers on the wall than he wanted to be.

    Shirou held up the arm and flared the fire from his hands, melting and burning the limb in front of the man’s eyes.

    “Do you understand?”

    Nodding. Rapid, terrified nodding.

    The women looked on as the ruffian picked up his fallen friend and limped out of the alley. Shirou spared them a glance and waved past him to the exit.

    “Go. You don’t want to get caught near me.”

    They edged around him without a word and made haste to leave.

    Only once he was certain they were gone did he finally fall to his hands and knees and throw up.

  9. #89
    Tiger Dojo Can't Stop Won't Stop Nephirin's Avatar
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    Oh hey, this is back. Good to see it again.
    Quote Originally Posted by You View Post
    That's too simple and clear. It definitely can't be the right answer.
    It has to be something that makes no sense at all so we can say that Nasu is wrong.

  10. #90
    Drunk Anime Is The True Path. Mattias's Avatar
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    Oh, right this was a thing. I had completely forgotten about it. More adventures of Demonic Shirou is always appreciated.

    Gundam-a-thon Status: 0079 Zeta ZZ Char's Counterattck War In the Pocket F91 Stardust Memories Victory G Gundam Wing Endless Waltz 8th MS After War X Turn A SEED 00 Unicorn AGE Reconguista The Orgin Thunderbolt IBO

    DONE!!!!!! 4 years, 1 week.

    Bonus Rounds: Gundam-san Escalflowne Build/Try/Divers

  11. #91
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors
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    Took a long time for this update.

  12. #92
    It's back? Hell yeah!

  13. #93
    Venus Swordman Ergast's Avatar
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    Oh, yeah. Shirou new instincts and power, combined, are going to be a bitch to rule, at least for some time. I'm actually surprised that there isn't (yet) a corpse.

    Spoiler:
    Quote Originally Posted by shiningphoenix View Post
    Rin: "I wanted Saber..."
    Archer: "What? But Archers are all insanely OP, it's like a rule or something, why would you think Sabers were better?"
    Rin: "Sabers are more molestable..."
    Quote Originally Posted by Vigilantia View Post
    AC!Rin. Fixing problems one moan at a time.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sage of Eyes View Post
    Denizens of another dimension, meet Rin Tohsaka, Tsundere of Mass Destruction
    Quote Originally Posted by Christemo View Post
    I dont even know what Lunatique is. I assume it's terrible for the sake of argument.

  14. #94
    祖 Ancestor
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    I fogot to ask what is a "soul progeny"?

  15. #95
    Never quacked for this Kyte's Avatar
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    It's a bunch of exalted talkery I don't remember but it boils down that at some point the really cool exalted level up and become something else and get to split off sub-souls that represent aspects of their self.

  16. #96
    Unpromised Victory, isn't it sad? CG-3m1y4's Avatar
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    I was one of the people who instafollow this story as soon as it entered FF.net, and for my sadness hasn't been updated ever since.

    Glad to see it back.

  17. #97
    夜魔 Nightmare
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    Oh yay this isn't dead. I look forward to more of this :3

  18. #98
    First Priest of the Urobutcher Golden Lark's Avatar
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    To be Senbrek was to be a ghost. In this case, he was a ghost haunting a dark room with one window. He could see the world through Shirou’s eyes, smell through Shirou’s nose, et cetera. That his senses were still sharper than the fledgling Exalt’s despite this was a mystery he chose not to ponder too hard. Shirou’s surface thoughts occasionally echoed in through vents on the walls, and his direct addresses to Senbrek boomed down from the ceiling.

    Senbrek’s own mind was in flux; he found himself speaking out loud instead of thinking silently, which then triggered conversations with Shirou he might have tried to avoid for the sake of expediency. Slowly he was learning how to filter private thoughts from ‘public’ thoughts, and his dream-like self image in the dark room behaved accordingly.

    In the back of the room was a single lever. He had been very thoroughly instructed on when it was appropriate to pull that lever, and his promised punishment should he fail to follow those directives was beyond imagination.

    When the brawl in the bar began, Senbrek kicked back to enjoy a good show. While less bloody than he had been expecting and utterly nonlethal, it was still a decent rumble. He hadn’t thought too hard about the fact that Shirou allowed the women to get away, but when he pointed it out and his host charged out into the street after them, he was confused.

    When the Exalt zeroed in on what was obviously a rape about to happen, things got . . . weird. A familiar searing green glow suffused the dark room, and it became nostalgically hot, if not comfortably so. Shirou’s voice was echoing from the vents in his native language, some degree of rage and frustration seeping into every crack along with the light. The window became fogged, blurs of motion and flashes of color giving poor context to the familiar sounds and smells of blood spilling. With a final crunch, the fog vanished, and Shirou looked around at the witnesses.

    His verbalized “No.” came through the ceiling as “NO!” - shaking the metaphorical room and Senbrek with it.

    “Boss?” the Blood Ape ventured, cautiously.

    No. I won’t let this happen.

    Senbrek watched in silence as Shirou went about stabilizing and saving the life of the man he had effortlessly crippled. He chose not to question it, because his earlier conversations betrayed just how gentle his new host strove to be. Assuming Shirou wasn’t lying to himself, the man cauterizing the wound was real, and the berserk avatar of rage was a product of the exaltation.

    Probably.

    After the women fled and Shirou finished vomiting, Senbrek decided once again it was a good moment to egg his host on.

    “Boss. You need to move.”

    I know. I know, but I can’t trust myself yet.

    “Better to work that out somewhere else. Anywhere else, really.”

    Senbrek watched the green glow fade as Shirou finished cooling down.

    If I hurt any more people by accident, the deal’s off.

    “Uh, what?” As far as Senbrek knew, this whole Exaltation deal was a one way street.

    Apologies to your masters, but I will kill myself without hesitation if I continue to be a risk to people outside of my control.

    Senbrek’s mind went into brawling mode, but instead of fists and knuckles, he had only words and feelings. This train of thought was dangerous, was antithetical- was the very type of thing he was sworn to direct his host away from. He considered the logic, the emotions, and the reasoning Shirou was probably using, and moved to crush it utterly as was his style.

    “Don’t be an idiot.”

    Shirou apparently hadn’t expected that tone.

    What?

    “You have new power, crazy power. It went to your head. You said before your old magic was all intent and crap, right? Filtered through your whatsits and then swords happened. Spin that around.”

    What do you mean?

    “Maybe some part of you got really pissed at a couple scumbags about to rape some girls. Why not? But unlike your old power, which was all about swords, this power is all about rage. Or at least, part of it is. You have a new whatsits now, and you’re not used to what in your head sets it off.”

    The temperature in the dark room dropped, tangibly. Senbrek ignored it and kept talking.

    “You need control? You’ll get control. Get to the City, and you’ll be taught everything you need to know. You want to choose exactly who to hurt, and how much? Keep it in mind.”

    Now he was walking on more shaky territory, but he pressed on, because Shirou needed a big fat dose of hope. Usually Senbrek only doled out hope in small portions directly after an almost-lethal beating, but there was a first time for everything.

    “Your power is drawing from different places. To simplify, you’ve done shadow crap and green crap, right?” He shuddered at the slurs’ horrific blasphemies, then powered through. “The green crap is angry, wrecks stuff, doesn’t give a damn. The shadow crap is all tricky and sly. You also have other flavors of crap to call on, but they work different.” Verbal jousting was not Senbrek’s strong suit, and he continued to find his intent being expressed more eloquently than he would have phrased things when he was still alive, filtered through Shirou’s vocabulary.

    Something tells me there’s no sword crap. The temperature rose a bit, to Senbrek’s relief. He wasn’t sure what was up with the chill, but he was sure it was bad.

    “Not that I know of yet. One thing you should know, though, is there are five main kinds of crap, and everyone like you is primarily linked to one of them.

    Let me guess, I got green crap.

    “We have a winner.”

    So. Anger, wrecking stuff, not giving a damn. Yeah, that about sums up what just happened.

    “Right. So just keep that in mind, and you can adjust for it.”

    In other words, don’t get mad unless there’s no one around to be collateral damage.

    Considering that Shirou’s actual targets shouldn’t have been counted as collateral damage, Senbrek let that one pass.

    “Sure. And, um, there’s a guy that knows . . . exactly what you’re going through right now, and might have some advice.”

    Referring to the Green Sun as ‘a guy’ and implying he had anything so mundane as Shirou’s problem was yet another blasphemy, but speaking in terms of abject glorification would get him nowhere, so Senbrek kept it pedestrian. Ligier had personally told him that Slayers tended to display tempers comparable to Malfeas himself, to Ligier’s own occasional annoyance. That Ligier was the only being in all of existence that could disrespect or belittle Malfeas to his face and not be punished for his gall, also granted him the freedom to express his dissatisfaction publically with the King of Hell as he willed.

    Apparently the last Slayer to bear this particular Exaltation was something of a problem to manage, and had caused Ligier some very familiar headaches. The end result of that was Senbrek being given some very special education (unlike his predecessor had) to potentially account for those problems, as well as dispensation to freely blaspheme, lie, or betray state secrets once he was safely ensconced inside his host so as to keep that host on task, if not completely sane or happy or conveniently ignorant.

    That said if suicide was on the table, happiness suddenly shot up to the very top of his priorities. Most Chosen of the Yozis got chosen in the wake of some terrible personal tragedy, and he suspected Shirou was no different, despite his refusal to even think much about those people Senbrek saw him with since he fell through the Well of Udr.

    That said the last thing Shirou needed was to be reminded of his recent personal losses, so the demon in his head shifted gears again to his original goal.

    “So. Get moving, don’t panic, and think of what you’ll be able to accomplish once you get your new crap under control. Hell, while you’re moving, why don’t you clue me in? Hard to give advice if I don’t have your side of things, and about all I could glean from our chatting earlier was that you were just a big softie.”

    Dark chuckling echoed down over Senbrek’s head.

    “Not that’s there’s anything wrong with that, mind, as long as we’re clear that sometimes you gotta thrash a guy or two when it’s right and proper.”

    As long as I’m the one deciding when it’s right and proper, and not this ‘crap,’ or you . . . no offense.

    “None taken. Far as I see it, you grew up somewhere you could afford to live soft. In the City, where I’m from at least, you give someone a chance and they’ll knock you out and take your stuff without blinking; and if they have the appetite for it they’ll eat you, too!”

    Can’t say I had it that hard nonstop, at least.

    For a second, Senbrek thought he smelled smoke, but shrugged it off.

    “Right. So, give it to me straight. What are you in it for? What do you want out of life? Because the Demon City can provide damned near anything, and Creation holds just about everything else free for the taking.”

    The smell of smoke flooded Senbrek’s nose again, and this time he was sure he wasn’t imagining it. Before he could bring it up, Shirou responded.

    To save as many people as possible. To save everyone, without fail, wherever I can. I’ll take any power that will help me towards that goal. I’ll reject any power that threatens it.

    Senbrek was quiet for a long moment.

    He considered the Reclamation, and the motives behind it. He considered the personality of Shirou’s patrons, Yozi and Fetich alike.

    “Just to be clear, how are we defining ‘people,’ here? Because we’ve got a huge variety of just about everything-”

    I don’t care about social conventions. As far as I am concerned, I failed to save seven people when I first arrived here, including you.

    Senbrek sighed, which was something he wasn’t really used to doing. Weighing in the plight of first circle serfs equally with everyone else?

    Trouble.

    Pure trouble.

    Hopefully Shirou could be convinced to let go of his concern for first circles, because if he didn’t, he, and by extension what was left of Senbrek, weren’t going to be long for the world.

    Well, that, or the Slayer would go mad from his powerlessness in that matter.

    Shirou had the presence of mind to invoke his shadow once again and change his appearance before leaving the alley, once again resuming his search for shelter and food as the sun set in the west.

  19. #99
    Ah, poor Senbrek. You had a good run, for a sinister
    slaughter simian, but now you're stuck in the head of a big damn heroan idiot. Better hope you can coach the rules and mechanics into his head, quick.
    Last edited by Chicago Ted; November 21st, 2014 at 05:02 PM.

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