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Thread: [FF] Reign of Winter I - Lost in the Snow (Grail Works, Ltd.: Type-Moon/Pathfinder/Multi-X-over)

  1. #21
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Chapter 2: Awkward Introductions

    DISCLAIMER: Lunar Legend Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Kinoko Nasu and TYPE-MOON, along with whomever they’ve happened to license them to, such as Geneon and Funimation. The Pathfinder RPG and the “Reign of Winter” Adventure Path, along with all related characters and concepts, are the creation and property of Paizo Publishing and its employees. Disney’s “Frozen” and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Walt Disney Animation and its employees.


    This is a not-for-profit, just-for-fun project.




    The Kingdom of Arendelle
    Now









    Once, there was a boy who had yearned since childhood to be a hero. To bring help to those who needed it, and justice to those who deserved it.

    But despite his noble goals, his ability to reach them was stunted as a child; and as he grew older, he became disillusioned by his failure to achieve his former ideals. He continued on a path of self-destruction (one he’d already been set upon, some might say, by his childhood dream) until its eventual fruition seemed all but certain — at least, if the frostbite and hypothermia didn’t kill him first.

    . . . Emiya Shirou? He wished.

    “It figures,” he muttered, more in an effort to keep himself awake and thinking than anything else (though he’d made a habit of complaining, too). “I give up literally epic powers and levels of skill — including immunity to cold and truly prodigious wilderness survival skills — in order to save a world, and where do I end up next? Somewhere I could really use — you guessed it — an immunity to cold and truly prodigious wilderness survival skills, naturally!

    He glared at the sky. “You know, I was kind of hoping that having the universe out to get me would stop once I was actually out of my universe! I should’ve known better!” He fumed a moment, and then sighed. “Ilya, I could really use a Door . . .”

    As had happened every other time he’d invoked her, there was no response — and frankly, that was terrifying. The Grail spirit was supposed to be able to track any of the Works’ agents, no matter where they were. The fact that she didn’t seem able to hear him, or at least, wasn’t able to respond, implied that she was being blocked by a power equal to or greater than the Grail — the last time something like this had happened, the Moon Cell had been involved . . .

    Worse, Ilya was responsible for maintaining the paradigm shields that prevented Works agents from being altered to fit the realities they were sent to. If that shield wasn’t functioning, then chances were good he’d already been changed — but to what degree? And would he even realise that there was a difference in how he was now from what he’d been before?

    And that didn’t even get into the fact that he was lost in a wintery forest landscape. Frankly, his only hope at the moment was that someone saw the plumes of steam from his breath and came to rescue him, because at the moment, he was just past ankle-deep in snow, and dressed for summer. It was obvious that he wasn’t a half-drow any more: his skin was too pale (though it was gradually turning an alarmingly cyanotic shade of blue).

    That said, however, there was a certain level of muscle on him now that hadn’t been there before, so he wasn’t a beanpole again, either (and why had that changed? What else about him had?) If he had been, he’d have frozen to death already — as it was, that possibility still wasn’t too far off.

    And if he was badly off in terms of being able to endure this weather, then the kid he’d found in the woods was even worse. Sure, her body could fit more or less against his torso, held in place by both his arms and shirt, so she wasn’t getting the bulk of the wind and leeching off his own body heat, to boot, but she was so tiny — and naked. The cold had to be getting to her worse than it was him.

    . . . And he was trying really, really hard not to react to the most intimate physical contact he’d ever had.

    He was not a pedophile, damn it, he just had a terrible weakness for cute things. Over the years, it had made him a walking doormat for dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, stuffed animals, dolls — and little girls with big, sad eyes. Sure, this one’s eyes were closed, but the alternative was letting her freeze to death!

    “Not that it won’t happen anyways, if I don’t find some shelter soon . . .” he muttered. “A cabin with a fireplace and some stored wood, for preference, but I’ll settle for a cave, at this point —”

    He was rambling, in part to keep himself focussed and awake. Canadian he might be, but being used to cold didn’t mean he had to like it, and when you weren’t dressed to deal with it, hypothermia was a genuine danger . . . All of which made him wonder what the hell a little girl was doing out here, with no clothes?

    And no tracks, either, he recalled suddenly. He was no woodsman (anymore, at least), but he could spot footprints in snow as fresh and unmarred as they’d been lying in — and the only ones around her had been his, as he’d approached. Which implied that, like him, she’d appeared out of thin air . . . But from where, and why?

    White hair, dark skin — if I didn’t know better, I’d say she was a drow, but that would be even more absurd — what would a lone, naked drow child be doing on the surface . . .?

    Nevertheless, he felt compelled to check, and shifted his grip to brush her hair aside. To his surprise, the girl’s ear was pointed, but not elongated in the manner of a full-blooded elf’s.

    “All right, so you’re a half-drow, maybe,” he conceded. “It would almost explain it, I suppose — but if you were cast out from your community, why do this to you now, and not when you were an infant . . .?

    His modified grip on the girl began to weaken, causing her weight to sag in his arms, so he readjusted his hold. Somewhat mortifyingly, that meant inadvertently squeezing her buttocks as he hauled her upwards, to resettle her head against his shoulder properly.

    As he frequently had since finding the girl, he silently prayed that she wouldn’t regain consciousness until long after this situation was resolved.

    . . . So, naturally, she chose that particular moment to wake up.








    She found herself in someone’s arms, being held against their chest; specifically, it was a male someone, from the pectoral definition and general scent. Those warm hands were still there, though on her back rather than clasped in her own, holding and supporting her as she was carried — somewhere.

    To be honest, it felt . . . Well, it felt nice. She had plenty of memories of being carried around when she was small, but that was when the fake was in control. This was the first time that she could recall since she was an infant, before the seal had ever been placed, that someone had honestly held her.

    Almost unthinkingly, she burrowed closer against the other body, relishing the feel of its warmth against her bare skin . . .

    Wait — bare skin?

    Her eyes shot open as she abruptly registered that the fact she was naked, and cuddling against a man whom her even a token glance confirmed was not her father or brother — and that being the case, there was only one possible response.

    AAAAAHHH!” she screamed. “LET GO OF ME, YOU PERVERT!

    She was abruptly released and falling before the last word was fully out of her mouth, and landed hard on all fours, butt-first, in snow-covered ground that rose up past the level of her wrists and ankles.

    “ACK — COLD!” she exclaimed.

    “No kidding,” said a sardonic voice, in thickly-accented Japanese. “That’s why I was trying to keep you warm.

    She looked up, and beheld a Westerner who looked to be about Shirou-niichan’s age, with thick brown hair and blue eyes. He was wearing a short-sleeved shirt that hung loose on his frame, and was of the “button-down” variety; or at least, it was supposed to be. At the moment, they hung open, and she realised that he’d been holding her against his own bare chest, which was currently exposed — and so was she!

    Don’t look!” she cried, bringing up her arms to cover herself and trying to scrunch into a ball before demanding, “Where are my clothes?!”

    “When I found you, you didn’t have any,” the boy said, his eyes focussed above her head. “And I’m not dressed for this, either — I was trying to get to some kind of shelter before we both froze to death.” He paused. “And why do you speak Japanese?”

    Blinking in surprise, she countered, “Why wouldn’t I speak Japanese?”

    “Because,” he answered, “I’d have expected you to speak the language of the People.

    She blinked. That last phrase hadn’t been in any language she knew of, but she’d understood it all the same. What the heck . . .?

    The wind chose that particular moment to start blowing, causing her already-freezing body to stiffen in pain as it stripped away the little warmth her body was generating.

    The boy sighed. “Look, you’re in no state to walk, and neither of us can take it out here much longer. If you don’t mind, I’ll just continue carrying you until we can find a village, or a cave, or somewhere out of the cold. At least with you awake, you can hold on to me yourself.”

    As much as she didn’t like the idea, she was unable to refute his logic, particularly in the face of another wind-gust that set her teeth chattering. Still, she blushed, mortified, at the sudden realisation that she’d have to cling to him like a baby or a monkey — huddling skin-to-skin . . .

    Ahem. It was sheer mortification, and that was all it was.

    Red-faced, she grumbled, “All right — but watch where you put those hands!”

    “Don’t worry — I don’t have a lolicon complex,” he said as he scooped her up again, wincing as her snow-numbed hands and feet found purchase on his bare back.

    She scowled into his shoulder, not liking the implied insult even as she noticed a particular irritation in his tone at the statement. It sounded like it was an old, sore subject — and that gave her an idea for some payback for this humiliation . . .

    “Oh, really?” she said, in an arch but innocent tone. “You’re sure about that?”

    To punctuate her question, she wriggled a bit, like she’d always wanted to do with Shirou — and drawing a yelp from her would-be rescuer.

    “Cut that out!” he cried. He pulled her back to stare. “I thought you were worried about being molested!”

    In a prim tone that Sella would’ve been proud of, she quoted something she’d heard almost every adult female she knew say at one time.

    “It’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind.” She flashed him a feline grin before adding, “Besides, if you really don’t have a lolicon complex, then I don’t have anything to worry about, right?”

    He made an exhalation that was halfway between a sigh of frustration and an angry growl. “You little imp — I should’ve left you to freeze . . .

    She buried her face against his chest, both to smother the chuckles that threatened to escape, and to make sure that he couldn’t see any hint of calculation in her expression.

    Having the programmed training of a magus, plus ten years of experience in observing people (and nothing else, part of her added sourly), let her know to do things like that occasionally, so she could test his reactions. So far, they matched his surface appearance: that of a young man with little experience with the opposite gender, making him remarkably easy to tease. And that he hadn’t dropped her in a snowdrift in response to her teasing, in addition to sheltering her as he was, implied that he was kind.

    Now for the second test . . .

    She widened her eyes deliberately, doing her best to make them glisten (not a skill she’d had a chance to practice, so it was largely ineffective, but she tried), and thrust her bottom lip out slightly.

    “I’m sorry,” she said, willing herself to blush even as she copied the tone the fake used to wheedle things out of Onii-chan. “I was only trying to distract us from how cold it is.”

    His expression softened, and she lowered her face again to conceal a smirk of triumph. There might be no physical resemblance beyond age and gender, but this guy was exactly like Shirou in the way that counted most: she could twist him around her little finger, if she needed to. That realisation caused her to let out a breath she hadn’t realised she’d been holding, but it was understandable. After all, she was in a strange place, with a strange man, and no clothes, in the dead of winter . . .

    And worst of all, there was something wrong with her magic circuits.

    She wasn’t in a position to conduct a proper self-examination right now, but she’d attempted to open them up, in case she needed to defend herself against him (and frankly, to warm herself a bit), and they hadn’t responded the way she expected. It wasn’t that her prana flow was blocked, exactly, but it seemed to have been rearranged, somehow. And worse, there was a lot less of it than there should have been; less than even the fake used when wielding that Mystic Code. Was the mana in this place that thin, that this was all her circuits could generate?

    “Oh!” she said abruptly, as a sudden realisation struck her. “We haven’t introduced ourselves, have we?” She cleared her throat. “My name is Ilyasviel von Einzbern — and you are?”

    She felt his muscles tense as the first two syllables of her name left her mouth —tense in recognition, and alarm. And she suspected that, on hearing her full name, the only reason he hadn’t come to a complete stop was because if he did, in this cold, he’d never bring himself to move again.

    He knows my name — why would he know my name?

    Knowing her family name was one thing — all her information on the Einzberns indicated that they were an accomplished lineage among magi. But he’d recognised her name, her given name — and there was no reason in the world for anyone she’d never met before to know it . . .

    No reason that she knew or could think of, except the Grail War.

    Now she went tense, though she did her best to conceal any physical reactions from him and kept her turmoil internal — and turmoil it was. If this youth was one of the magi meant to serve as a Master in the Grail War she’d been supposed to take part in, then she was in about as much trouble as the Saber Class Card had put her in. More, really; after all, she had neither Class Cards nor Ruby this time, and with her magic circuits messed up —

    “Well, up until recently, I was called ‘Kurai,’” the young man admitted, “but I don’t suppose that makes sense anymore, since I don’t look as Asian as I did, so I’m not sure what you should call me. In any case, it’s nice to meet you, Miss von Einzbern — but so I don’t end up getting you confused with the other Ilyasviel I know, I think I’ll just call you ‘Kuro.’”

    . . . WHAT?








    The source of the familiarity that had nagged at him since seeing the girl’s face (particularly once she was awake) was cleared up the moment she said her name. She did resemble Ilya, in the sense of being a living photographic negative of her. At least, in terms of her colouring, she was — why the girl had elven blood, to say nothing of drow blood, was another mystery altogether. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Ilya was popularly referred to as a “snow fairy?”

    Regardless, he knew who he was holding now: Kuro, from that “Prisma Ilya” series — the one that did to “Fate/stay Night,” using Ilya, what “Magical Girl Pretty Sammy” had done to “Tenchi Muyo,” using Sasami. Except that Ilya had actually managed a TV series out of the deal, rather than a one-shot special . . .

    Tangent, his mind warned him, and he refocused on the topic at hand.

    As he understood it, Kuro was the dark clone of the magical girl version of Ilyasviel von Einzbern, wielding powers akin to the Emiya Shirou version of Archer. As a result, this had led to the character being named “Dark Ilya,” “Archer-ko,” and various similar things.

    From what he’d heard, her back-story was that she resented Ilya for having had a normal existence or something like that, and wanted to kill her, or replace her, or — he wasn’t sure, honestly. He wasn’t aware of an official, translated release of the source material (at least, not as of 2013), and he generally didn’t go in for fansubs. One, because it was illegal; and two, because the errors that were often made could be migraine-inducing.

    Regardless, it was clear he wasn’t dealing with an entirely canon version of Kuro here — if he was, the girl would’ve Traced herself some damned clothes by now, even if it had to be Archer’s mantle and armour. She wouldn’t be trembling against his chest, and pressing a little harder against him every time the wind rose . . .

    Tangent — and it’s really not one that you want to follow . . .

    Whatever her origin, personality, or flaws, as of right now, she was a helpless little girl and he’d deal with her Ilya issues if and when they became relevant. Honestly, it was becoming more and more likely that they’d end up as frozen corpses first —

    A step brought him suddenly out of the forest, surprisingly, and onto a wide, driven path. Walking through the woods at the angle they had been, the gap had been concealed by the screen of trees, but now . . . This was a road, which meant that civilisation lay in one direction or another, and he quickly glanced to either side, hoping to spot a sign that would tell him which way it was.

    And in the distance, he spotted a log cabin (or maybe it was a hut) with a sign out front, and firelight burning cheerily through the windows. It looked like some kind of store, but at the moment, all that mattered was that it was shelter.

    “Hang on tight, kiddo — I see a building up ahead, and they’ve got a fire going. With any luck, we’ll be thawing in minutes.”

    Her answering chuckle surprised him, almost as much as the fact that she responded with, “Whatever you say, Minion.”

    That caught him up short. “What?”

    “If I’m ‘Kuro,’ then you’re ‘Minion,’” the girl explained, looking at him an expression that was too earnest and innocent to be entirely genuine. “Because I’m dark, and you’re my servant.”

    “I beg your pardon?” he demanded sharply.

    Her eyes widened, glistening with unshed tears, and she asked in a very small voice. “. . . Aren’t you?”

    It’s a trick, warned the voice in the back of his head. It’s a trap — you know it is. Remember the “Please, just for baby sister” stuff we went through as a teenager? It’s the same thing here, and this is Evil Ilya doing it. Don’t fall for it —

    She sniffled, and he sighed. “All right, I’m your servant.” He’d argue over his exact name when his brain cells weren’t half-frozen, and he therefore had a chance to actually win.

    . . . Damn it.


    That voice in the back of his head seemed to sulk, as much as half-invented personality fragments could. Then, after a beat, it piped up with an entirely new grievance.

    Does that sign actually read “Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post and Sauna?” Seriously — are you kidding me?








    Avalon Castle,
    Phantasmagoria Island









    “Is there anything at all, Ilya?” Shirou asked anxiously.

    The Grail spirit (who was currently far more physical within the spiritual plane of their base, though not so much as she’d like to be) hummed in response. Her eyes were unfocussed; or rather, they were focussed on a distant horizon that eyes not attuned to the Second Magic were unable to perceive. Eventually, however, she shook her head, sending cascading waves down the veil-like length of her platinum blonde hair.

    “Rin says there are just traces, Onii-chan,” she said softly, “and nothing strong enough to constitute an actual trail. There’s just too much magic echoing around that spot to pick up anything clearly — and if even Ruby says that, then . . .”

    It was an open question as to whether she was praising the Kaleidostick’s capabilities, disparaging Rin’s, or merely commenting on the Mystic Code’s ego. Ilya preferred to think of it as doing all three at once, not that she had any plans to say so out loud.

    “They do say,” Ilya offered quietly, “that it seems to involve the same magic that brought him to us in the first place.”

    Shirou blinked. “I thought we got rid of that curse?”

    “We modified it,” she clarified. “Completed it, in a sense, but it was still a part of him, or he would’ve been just a measly, non-magical human — and it still had some teeth.” She thought of how close she’d come to ending up like the original Grail, and shivered at the recollection.

    “Can you search for it, specifically?” Shirou questioned. “If it’s still a part of him, then it ought to be traceable, at least.”

    “I can,” she allowed, “but searching for a specific magic signature through the Kaleidoscope narrows the search down the same way that ignoring all the quartz fragments narrows down a search for a specific grain of sand. It’s still a lot to go through.”

    “Just try, Ilya-chan,” he pleaded. “Please.

    Her cheeks coloured — which was annoying, because it was entirely indicative of her emotional state. She didn’t really have blood any longer, so any change in her complexion was only there because she instinctively thought it should be, and because the proper trigger had been set off.

    “Of course,” she assured him with a bright smile. “Anything you want, Onii-chan.” She subtly emphasised the “you,” and then paused, before tilting her head inquisitively and asking, “Why are you taking this so personally? I didn’t think you knew him that well.”

    “I don’t,” Shirou admitted. “But he’s only in this mess because we helped him, and he wanted to pay us back. And if he’s gotten hurt, or worse . . . It’ll mean we failed, Ilya.”

    And that would break something in him, she finished silently. Thus far, the Works hadn’t undertaken many missions, but the salvation of the one who became the druid they called “Kurai” had been a success, until now.

    “It’s not completely hopeless, Onii-chan,” she assured him. “Between that magic trace, and that girl we saw him with, the search filter has a fair bit to work with — it’ll just take time.

    “Right, the girl,” Shirou said with a sigh, fixating on the other problem. “There’s still no clue as to who she is? Or where she came from?”

    Ilya shook her head. “No. But she does seem familiar — I would swear that I’ve seen her before . . .”
    Last edited by Kieran; March 16th, 2015 at 09:28 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. #22
    死徒(上級)Greater Dead Apostle
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    HAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Kurai has officially become Kuro's Minion! I loved this, Kieran. Thanks for the update.

  3. #23
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Thank you for the comment (and compliment) - I could see that people were looking at it, but after thirteen hours of silence, I was beginning to get depressed . . .
    “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




  4. #24
    Kamen Rider fan-writer Xamusel's Avatar
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    My excuse? Distractions (plus Church was supposed to happen soon after I had finished reading the chapter earlier).

    Now, if only Ilya can see the irony of Kuro being your SI's Master, since Kuro's her clone.
    Xamusel's Fanfiction Profile

    For those that don't necessarily care if my fics aren't all Type-Moon related.




    Hmm... this is a bit of a surprise these days.

    An archive of my works on the forum that's pretty accurate.




    Note that I don't wish to be seen as an idiot any longer. I can't always promise better works than before, but I can sure as hell try, alright?

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran View Post
    Thank you for the comment (and compliment) - I could see that people were looking at it, but after thirteen hours of silence, I was beginning to get depressed . . .
    Sorry about that. Was grinding my FFX HD characters so I didn't check the forum. Still haven't gotten the Venus Sigil. Dodging lightning for 200 times is a pain in the ass! I only managed 79 times so far.

  6. #26
    Kamen Rider fan-writer Xamusel's Avatar
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    ...why I'm still up, I have no idea, but I do want to add something of an addendum to what I said earlier.

    You must either have the weirdest of luck... or Sehanine (or someone that explicitly is not Baba Yaga) is giving you a helping hand every once in a while.

    Now if only you had money on hand that would be useful.
    Xamusel's Fanfiction Profile

    For those that don't necessarily care if my fics aren't all Type-Moon related.




    Hmm... this is a bit of a surprise these days.

    An archive of my works on the forum that's pretty accurate.




    Note that I don't wish to be seen as an idiot any longer. I can't always promise better works than before, but I can sure as hell try, alright?

  7. #27
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xamusel View Post
    My excuse? Distractions (plus Church was supposed to happen soon after I had finished reading the chapter earlier).
    Quote Originally Posted by fsnfan View Post
    Sorry about that. Was grinding my FFX HD characters so I didn't check the forum. Still haven't gotten the Venus Sigil. Dodging lightning for 200 times is a pain in the ass! I only managed 79 times so far.
    Oh, I understand - it happens to me, too - but you can understand why I was beginning to think I'd made a mistake.



    Quote Originally Posted by Xamusel View Post
    Now, if only Ilya can see the irony of Kuro being your SI's Master, since Kuro's her clone.
    For that, you want the "Trinity" version of Ilya.


    Quote Originally Posted by Xamusel View Post
    ...why I'm still up, I have no idea, but I do want to add something of an addendum to what I said earlier.

    You must either have the weirdest of luck... or Sehanine (or someone that explicitly is not Baba Yaga) is giving you a helping hand every once in a while.
    It can't be both?


    Now if only you had money on hand that would be useful.
    Well, it is a trading post, so . . . *Shrugs* Either that, or the aforementioned luck will strike again, somehow.
    “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




  8. #28
    Kamen Rider fan-writer Xamusel's Avatar
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    Personally, I'm of the opinion that luck has to run dry every once in a while, if only for the sake of believability.

    Maybe you have some extra Gil that can be used somehow?
    Xamusel's Fanfiction Profile

    For those that don't necessarily care if my fics aren't all Type-Moon related.




    Hmm... this is a bit of a surprise these days.

    An archive of my works on the forum that's pretty accurate.




    Note that I don't wish to be seen as an idiot any longer. I can't always promise better works than before, but I can sure as hell try, alright?

  9. #29
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xamusel View Post
    Personally, I'm of the opinion that luck has to run dry every once in a while, if only for the sake of believability.
    . . . Being stuck with Kuro - and as her "Minion," no less - isn't enough to prove it?


    Maybe you have some extra Gil that can be used somehow?
    Now that, I hadn't thought of . . . Hm.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




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

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




  10. #30
    Kamen Rider fan-writer Xamusel's Avatar
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    Hmm... good point regarding Kuro.

    Also, happy to be of assistance, Kieran.
    Xamusel's Fanfiction Profile

    For those that don't necessarily care if my fics aren't all Type-Moon related.




    Hmm... this is a bit of a surprise these days.

    An archive of my works on the forum that's pretty accurate.




    Note that I don't wish to be seen as an idiot any longer. I can't always promise better works than before, but I can sure as hell try, alright?

  11. #31
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Chapter 3: Gearing Up for Adventure

    DISCLAIMER: Lunar Legend Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Kinoko Nasu and TYPE-MOON, along with whomever they’ve happened to license them to, such as Geneon and Funimation. The Pathfinder RPG and the “Reign of Winter” Adventure Path, along with all related characters and concepts, are the creation and property of Paizo Publishing and its employees. Disney’s “Frozen” and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Walt Disney Animation and its employees.


    This is a not-for-profit, just-for-fun project.




    Outskirts of Arendelle
    Base of Rohkar’s Raiders









    Over the years, Anna had longed to get out from behind the castle walls, and meet new and exciting people — but she would be the first to admit that this was not what she’d had in mind.

    Bad enough I was coming back from my parents’ funeral — I had to have this happen to me, too?

    Her current quarters were basically a cellar, or they had been up until she’d been thrown in here. There were a bunch of barrels and boxes around, but it was mostly too dark for her to see much of anything, so she couldn’t really tell what she had to work with. The only time she did have enough light was when the trapdoor in the ceiling was open, and there were always guards around, then — big guards, with lots of weapons.

    Anna sighed, and asked the empty air, “Where’s a frying pan when you really need one?”

    After all, according to the tales coming out the kingdom of Corona, that was the weapon that Flynn Rider had used to rescue Princess Rapunzel from captivity, one that had proved sufficient to disarm any opponent he’d come across. Or at least, so it was said. It was one of the things she’d asked her parents to find out on their trip, since they were going to Corona . . .

    Pain stabbed her chest, and Anna choked on a sob that suddenly rose in her throat. It wasn’t supposed to have been this way — they were only supposed to have been gone for a couple of weeks, not forever!

    And Elsa wasn’t supposed to spend all your lives hidden away in her room, pointed out a bitter voice in the back in her head. And you sure as heck weren’t supposed to be kidnapped. Since when has anything gone the way it’s supposed to in your life?

    Anna hated to admit it, but the voice had a point. Still, things could only get so bad before they had to get better, right? After all, she’d seen the one guard get away, and he’d promised to get help — Elsa would send out search parties for her, wouldn’t she? Maybe even come out of her room?

    The bitter voice pointed out that their parents’ funeral hadn’t brought her sister out of her room — so why would Elsa come out for her? Or do anything at all, for that matter?

    Anna chose to firmly ignore that thought, however. She and Elsa were sisters, and the only family either of them had left. Surely, Elsa would come looking for her . . .

    “. . . But in the meantime,” she added to herself, “maybe I ought to get working on that escape plan — just in case.”








    The Kingdom of Arendelle








    After barely half an hour in the saddle, Elsa was already certain she’d regret climbing into it when her feet were on the ground again. Ten years of voluntary confinement in her room had done nothing for her physical conditioning or her equestrian skills – in all honesty, she supposed that it was lucky she still remembered how to ride at all.

    Regardless, the crown princess urged both herself and her steed onward, repeating the mantra “Anna’s in danger, Anna’s in danger” under her breath. To save her sister, she’d do anything, and so Elsa urged her mount onward, prodding it to go faster —

    And then its hooves slid out from underneath it.

    Horse and rider both screamed as the world tumbled away from them, a whirl that turned even faster as Elsa’s panic conjured a burst of frost that spread itself into an impromptu ice slide. The pair was propelled even faster along its length, streaking downward some distance before Elsa desperately hurled her power outward. She was hoping to create a snow pile, or at least something that would stop their momentum — but the ice curling in itself into a crude sort of ski jump was not what she’d had in mind.

    The crown princess barely had time to realise what was coming before she found herself being hurled into the air with another scream, this one even louder and more terrified than before.








    Yoo-hoo!” called the man behind the counter. “Welcome to our trading post and sauna — we have a special today on sunscreen and beach towels!”

    Well, he assumed that’s what the man said, at least; he had a fairly thick accent. And given that the proprietor looked to be built as thickly as his accent (he was wearing a multi-coloured sweater that hid his muscles, but anybody with shoulders that broad probably had muscles on top of muscles) . . .

    No, giving into his first impulse and asking what kind of idiot tried to sell summer stock with the weather outside being what it was probably wasn’t a good idea.

    Fortunately, Kuro seemed more inclined to shiver and luxuriate in the heat of the fire-warmed building than make her own caustic comments — and as she definitely seemed the type, he was glad of it. For himself, he took a moment to absorb some of it himself, even as he wondered at what kind of accent he was hearing: Swedish? Or German, maybe — it sounded something like that. Listening to the counterman reminded him of an IKEA commercial . . .

    “I don’t suppose we could convince you to part with any unsold winter stock, instead?” he asked hopefully. “I found this little one out in the cold, with no clothes at all — she needs something warm to wear, or she’ll freeze . . .

    So did he, for that matter; but he was bigger, better-proportioned, more accustomed to the cold — in any case, he had a better chance of surviving the weather than a naked eight-year-old, or whatever her actual age was. The priority was to ensure that she’d survive; his problems were a secondary concern in this situation.

    Fortunately, the counterman seemed sympathetic. “The sauna is through there — you go ahead and take her inside, and let her warm up with the family.”

    Yoo-hoo!” called a crowd of voices, and he saw a number of individuals clustered inside the sauna through the small viewing window.

    “Thank you,” he said fervently, before Kuro could open her mouth — and from the look on her face, he’d probably pay for that later. Though whether it was because he’d treated her as a child, managed to get her sealed in a room with a bunch of strangers, or something else entirely, he couldn’t be sure. He barely had an understanding of Ilyasviel’s quirks — how would he fathom her evil twin’s?

    It’s times like this that I really wish I’d paid more attention to the fan translations, or unbent just a little and downloaded a few fan-sub torrents to watch . . . But honestly, who in their right mind would’ve expected to be stuck in a strange place, in the middle of winter, with her? I mean, I’m nowhere even close to my right mind, and I got surprised!

    Tangent,
    warned that far-off corner of his mind again — and he could already tell that having lost Kieran Holt’s mental focus was really going to be a pain. . .

    With some effort, he divested himself of his shirt without looking at Kuro, allowing her to have something to preserve her modesty as he shooed her towards the sauna. Of course, now bereft of that warmth himself, he moved closer to the fire, even as some of the changes to his physique quietly registered.

    Oh, yeah — definitely not a 120-pound weakling anymore. Maybe not Schwarzenegger big, but there are definite muscles where there didn’t used to be anything but bones . . . Focus! What have you got that you can trade this guy for winter gear?

    The short version was, probably not much. He didn’t see any obvious signs of the twenty-first century, or even the twentieth, but he couldn’t simply assume this was a medieval place, either — it could be deliberate, for tourism purposes. The fact that the proprietor spoke English, however accented, was a point in the idea’s favour . . . But then again, English was a trade language, and Kuro looked anything but native — he might’ve tried it out just on a hunch.

    The simple fact was, without knowing where or even when they were, it was difficult for him to conceive of what might be thought of as valuable here. Nevertheless, he searched his pockets, hoping he had something, even as he began explaining to the proprietor.

    “I don’t think I have any of the local currency, but in the worst case, I’m willing to work off the cost of anything you have, of course,” He didn’t have any particular skills, mind you, but he was accustomed to menial labour when he hadn’t been built for it, and he knew the basics of retail, having volunteered at a coffee shop. If it got Kuro clothed, at least, it’d be worth it. “And if you know a coin collector, I’ve some samples of my own country’s money that you might be able to sell . . .”

    He paused, feeling an unusual texture in his left pocket. Normally, that was where he kept his house keys, nametag, tissues, and things like lozenges if he had a sore throat or a granola bar if he needed a snack for later. As such, feeling a certain heft to the pocket was hardly unusual, so he hadn’t really paid it any attention . . .

    As such, the handful of gemstones he pulled out of it came as a complete surprise — not so much in the fact that they existed, so much as the fact that he’d been allowed to keep them. As Kurai, he’d been taking his share of the Gil that Yuna’s company earned and converting it into gems — diamonds, moonstones, whatever he’d been able to find and afford.

    His reasoning for the move had been that Gil wasn’t a currency that was accepted on many worlds (even though it was at least gold-plated, if not outright pure), or at least, it was one whose provenance would be difficult to explain. Gems, on the other hand, though variable in value, were more universally (or in this case, multiversally) prized. And if nothing else, the gems would be valuable to Rin, for her magecraft — much more so than a pile of alien coins.

    But why do I still have them? I thought the Seldarine said that I’d have to sacrifice everything . . .? Then again, I thought I was going have to die to save Spira, so obviously I misinterpreted what I was told. Either way, it hopefully means I’ve got some buying power now.

    “. . . Or maybe these?” he offered weakly, after suddenly becoming aware that he hadn’t said anything for several seconds.

    Apparently, however, the proprietor hadn’t noticed — mainly because he was doing an imitation of Wile E. Coyote after seeing the Road Runner go through the tunnel painted on the wall with no problem whatsoever.

    I didn’t know people’s jaws actually could drop like that . . .

    The counterman’s sudden cough refocused his attention (and no doubt the man’s own). “Er, yah! Buying clothes is no problem with those. You can buy summer clothes, winter clothes — the entire trading post . . . Anything your little heart desires! Let me just check the overstock, yah?

    With that, and surprising speed for someone of that size, the big man vanished into some unseen back space. A muffled “Woo-hoo!” in the same tonal range as the previous “yoo-hoos” made him wonder if it was less because of a need to check the overstock as it was to disguise the fact that he’d be hearing “We’re in the Money” if the big guy knew the song.

    How valuable are these . . .? He glanced down at his hand, noting a ruby, a diamond, a sapphire and a moonstone before shaking his head. Doesn’t matter — I can afford what I need, the girl won’t freeze, and neither will I. Glancing around the shop, he noted produce and added mentally, Or starve, which is also a good thing.

    Muscles that he hadn’t even realised were tense suddenly relaxed. Sure, it solved only one problem out of many, but it was a start — and it had been a big problem, needing an immediate solution. As problem-solving went, it was encouraging way to begin.

    And now all I need to do is figure out our exact location, how to get in touch with the Works — and maybe work on this “winter” thing while I’m at it. If this guy’s selling summer stock, I’m guessing that the weather isn’t normal for this time of year . . .

    What he might be able to do about it, exactly, he hadn’t a clue, but the Works would no doubt expect him to do something. Maybe, if he was really lucky, they’d send an actual operative here to deal with the problem, and he could re-establish contact that way. It was unlikely, sure, but his luck had always erred on the side of bizarre, when it could.

    And if I’m not that lucky — which is, admittedly, just as likely if not more than — then there’s always that something in the back of my brain . . .

    He didn’t know what it was, beyond “not a werewolf,” but there was something lurking in the back of his mind; a switch that was waiting to be thrown. The only reason he hadn’t done it in the snow was that if it involved shape-changing, it was liable to wreck his only set of clothes. And as for doing it inside . . . Well, no doubt the proprietor and his family would take it poorly if he suddenly sprouted fur and fangs, or wings, or whatever the switch involved.

    The fact that it was even there, though, implied that it involved something dramatic, and best invoked away from fragile things and impressionable people. Running from an angry mob brandishing pitchforks and torches was not his idea of a fun time — besides, it had never worked out well for Karloff or Chaney.

    Let’s try and focus on the positive, just for a change of pace, he reminded himself.

    You haven’t frozen to death, you’re not about to, and at least you’ve got a few mysteries to solve while you’re waiting to come up with a better idea of what to do. You really could be a lot worse off, you know —

    His train of thought stopped abruptly, or perhaps it was more accurate to say that it came to a screeching halt; almost to the point of derailment, to extend the metaphor as far as it could go.

    Because no sooner had that particular phrase crossed his mind, than he suddenly remembered the fact that every time he’d previously reached this particular set of circumstances in his life, it was usually when Fate decided to drop a bomb on him. Usually, in fact, it was “bombs,” plural — and the big bombs, just to add insult to injury. So what had he gotten himself into now, or what was he about to get himself into?

    “Oh, bloody hell,” he whispered.








    There was nothing an ice-harvester hated to see more than winter, because it meant that his business opportunities had dwindled to nothing. After all, who wanted to buy ice in the winter? For that matter, who needed to buy ice, when it was practically everywhere to be found?

    Similarly, there was nothing an ice-harvester expected to see less than winter when it was July — and yet, no matter how many times he rubbed his eyes, there it was before him.

    “How long were we on that mountain, Sven?” he asked his best friend in the world.

    The reindeer made a confused noise himself, before moving to lick a clump of ice off some low-hanging tree branches. He pulled back — and stopped, finding his antlers interlocked with the branches. He tugged, twisting this way and that in an effort to break free that proved ultimately futile. Defeated, Sven sagged, before lifting his head as far up he could to gaze at Kristoff with piteous eyes.

    Aww,” Kristoff said in the crooning falsetto he used to make Sven “talk” to him. “Could you help me out here, buddy? Please?

    “Well, of course I can,” Kristoff answered the reindeer confidently. “And of course I will — just hold still for a minute, OK?”

    The reindeer nodded, at least as far as the branches would give in order to let him do so, and held obediently still as Kristoff withdrew his pickaxe and chopped the branches free of the tree.

    Released from his impromptu bindings, Sven shook himself like a dog to shed the branch fragments. The reindeer then proceeded to pounce on Kristoff, tackling him to the ground, and lick enthusiastically at his face, prompting gales of laughter from the beefy man.

    Finally, however, Kristoff managed to manoeuvre himself out from under the affectionate animal, and climb to his feet, wiping the reindeer saliva off his face before it froze there — and the thought of that made him sigh.

    “Well, Sven, I guess we’re not going to sell a whole lot of ice today,” he admitted, “or tomorrow, for that matter. Or maybe not even for the rest of the week. I suppose we could try resuming guide work . . .”

    He had to do something to earn money in the off-season, after all, and as much as people tended not to travel in winter, there were people who didn’t have a choice in the matter.

    Sven grunted in response to the suggestion.

    Or we could just go and ask Grand Pabbie what he knows about this weird weather. That’s a great idea, Sven. After all, it’s not like answers are going to just fall out of the sky —”

    A screaming woman chose that exact moment to fall out of the sky, and land in a massive pile of powdery snow.

    Kristoff was so bewildered by the coincidence that he didn’t stop to question where the pile had come from, because otherwise he would’ve sworn that it hadn’t been there before. Besides, he and Sven were too busy digging themselves out of the small avalanche that the woman’s impact had created to bother with silly things like asking questions.

    The woman herself seemed occupied with that for a moment, too; and while she was coughing, she didn’t seem too terribly injured by her fall (though where she had fallen from was another matter — Kristoff didn’t remember seeing her on the mountain).

    That,” she announced, “was absolutely terrifying, and much, much too close . . .” She glanced around, and then said frantically, “Oh, no — I lost my horse! How am I supposed to get to — oh?

    The woman’s large eyes widened as she suddenly registered Kristoff and Sven’s presence, allowing him to see that they were ice-blue in colour. Given that there was a hood and heavy scarf wrapped around her face, there wasn’t much else to discern about her. Frankly, if not for the scream, he might not have realised that she was a woman at all.

    “Are you all right?” he asked, abruptly remembering the lessons in manners Bulda had tried to teach him — particular where girls were concerned.

    “Aside from being lost and stranded on foot, I’m fine,” she said irritably. Then her voice softened slightly, while somehow becoming more intense, as she asked, “Are you all right?”

    Kristoff attempted to mimic her earlier tone. “Aside from having my ice-harvesting business suddenly being put out of business, I’m fine.”
    It didn’t get the laugh from her that he was hoping for, but there was a twitch under her scarf that implied he’d managed to make her smile.

    “Anyways,” he added, “I can do something about your being lost — I’m also a guide. And as for being on foot . . .”

    Kristoff glanced at Sven, and the reindeer understood his cue. With an impressive display of strength, Sven hauled the sled out from where it had been buried under the snow, to stand proudly harnessed to it.

    “Of course,” he admitted, “we’ll have to dig the snow out of it before we can actually ride in it.”

    “That’s — that’s very kind of you,” the girl said hesitantly, “but . . .” She trailed off, her eyes narrowed as if in thought — or maybe in pain, by the look of her — before she finally released a sigh that caused her whole body to sag.

    “I . . . I need to go to the Valley of the Living Rock,” she admitted.

    “The valley . . .?” Kristoff repeated in surprise, before blinking in realisation. “You’re trying to get to the trolls?”

    The girl cringed slightly. “It’s important . . . I — I need their help.” Her voice caught, and lost its icy edge as she added, “My sister needs their help, and I have to help her. Please.

    Despite being raised by a bunch of beings that could be mistaken for rocks, Kristoff wasn’t as dense as one (despite what some people might say). He knew desperation when he heard it, and the girl’s voice was so raw with it that every word she said should’ve cut deep enough to draw blood.

    “Sven and I can get you there before you know it,” he assured her. “No charge, even — just tell all your friends that I’m the best guide around. Until the weather changes and I can go back to ice-harvesting, I’ll need the work.”

    “If you can help me save Anna, you’ll get a royal commission,” the girl muttered under her breath. More loudly, she added, “It’s a deal.”

    Not that Kristoff could make out the second part, as he was busy digging snow out of the sled. He just caught the first part of what she said, followed by “It’s a deal.”

    “Great,” he said. “Then hop aboard, princess — your chariot awaits!”

    She froze suddenly, and he looked at her, puzzled. “Did I say something wrong?”

    “No, not at all,” she said quickly. “I just — never mind, let’s go.”

    “Your wish is my command,” he assured her, and so they did.
    “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




  12. #32
    Kamen Rider fan-writer Xamusel's Avatar
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    Okay, that was pretty lucky of you, Kieran. Please tell me you'll have some unlucky things to happen to you during this story at least....
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    Hmm... this is a bit of a surprise these days.

    An archive of my works on the forum that's pretty accurate.




    Note that I don't wish to be seen as an idiot any longer. I can't always promise better works than before, but I can sure as hell try, alright?

  13. #33
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Being about to get forced into rescuing an evil Witch Queen from her even more evil daughter, while babysitting Kuro, isn't enough . . .?

    . . . Fortunately, I had a thought occur to me this afternoon - which will no doubt occur to him, at the appropriate time - and the paranoia he'll develop once he meets Elsa and Anna is going to drive him mad . . .
    “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




  14. #34
    Kamen Rider fan-writer Xamusel's Avatar
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    It's probably enough for most people, but not quite for me, so to speak.

    So... who's the fourth party member?
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    Hmm... this is a bit of a surprise these days.

    An archive of my works on the forum that's pretty accurate.




    Note that I don't wish to be seen as an idiot any longer. I can't always promise better works than before, but I can sure as hell try, alright?

  15. #35
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    You can't guess?
    “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




  16. #36
    Kamen Rider fan-writer Xamusel's Avatar
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    Is it Elsa's guide?
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    Hmm... this is a bit of a surprise these days.

    An archive of my works on the forum that's pretty accurate.




    Note that I don't wish to be seen as an idiot any longer. I can't always promise better works than before, but I can sure as hell try, alright?

  17. #37
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Yup.

    Say hello the party ranger - complete with animal companion!


    EDIT: One complication that's come up - almost by accident, really - is that this is essentially going to be a party without magic. Kuro's tricks are entirely limited to what she can do with her blade(s), Elsa's mainly a "blast it to death" type of mage (though "Frozen Fever" implies that she has some skill with non-ice conjurations, as well), and neither of the other two use magic at all.

    They have no healers, no fancy utility spells, no detection, protection, or counterspells . . . Kuro, at least, can use wands and such, but they have to get their hands on them, first. When going up against witches and their ilk, that could make this story very difficult.

    It's not a complication I was planning, but it's interesting to contemplate, now that it's come up.
    Last edited by Kieran; March 30th, 2015 at 08:03 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




  18. #38
    Kamen Rider fan-writer Xamusel's Avatar
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    I laughed at that... no, seriously, I did.

    Please tell me the Ranger will get some spells as well!
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    Hmm... this is a bit of a surprise these days.

    An archive of my works on the forum that's pretty accurate.




    Note that I don't wish to be seen as an idiot any longer. I can't always promise better works than before, but I can sure as hell try, alright?

  19. #39
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Maybe - magic is (obviously) rare in Arendelle, and while I can hand-wave it to a degree by having Kristoff having been taught lore by the trolls (and the fact that ranger spells aren't exactly earth-shaking), I'm not sure I want to.
    “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




  20. #40
    Kamen Rider fan-writer Xamusel's Avatar
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    Makes sense... just make sure that, if you do have him learn, you go with your gut on this.
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    Hmm... this is a bit of a surprise these days.

    An archive of my works on the forum that's pretty accurate.




    Note that I don't wish to be seen as an idiot any longer. I can't always promise better works than before, but I can sure as hell try, alright?

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