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Thread: Matou Shinji and the Price of Victory (HP/FSN CYOA)

  1. #901
    [X] Sit down with her, have her explain what she knows/assumes to be true re: familiars, before sharing your own experience
    [X] Trust in their abilities, go quiet and do not engage unless necessary

    Yeah I can see its best not to go out of our way to eliminate every ghost unless we need to act. Hopefully we will still have time to act even if we hold back a bit.
    Last edited by Skull Leader; July 21st, 2022 at 11:12 PM.

  2. #902
    [X] Sit with Pansy and discuss things, while Zelkova talks to Emilia
    [X] Trust in their abilities, go quiet and do not engage unless necessary

  3. #903
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    [X] Sit down with her, have her explain what she knows/assumes to be true re: familiars, before sharing your own experience
    [X] Trust in their abilities, go quiet and do not engage unless necessary




    There were certain assumptions one had about how the world worked when one was raised in Japan as part of family of magi, Matou Shinji acknowledged, and not for the first time. The boy had been forced to re-evaluate some of these, given his experiences regarding the nature and capabilities of witchcraft - after all, the Association hadn't mentioned anything about a secret society formed by those who practiced witchcraft, noting that though it was powerful, it was an obsolete, archaic art with no place in the modern age. Well, he hadn't found witchcraft to be particularly powerful compared to what he knew magecraft (and Magic) were capable of, but he did acknowledge it was versatile - and that it was efficient enough that one could build a society around it.

    Mostly.

    Well, one could, though the society of Wizarding Britain was perhaps not the best example, as it had been intentionally hobbled from reaching its potential by aping the forms and customs of the non-magical world - perhaps due to such mechanisms making it easier to impose control over its citizens, or perhaps because the constant influx of muggleborns into wizarding society brought with it ideas and assumptions of how the world could - and should - function. But there were other examples around the world which showed the scale and scope such magic could be used at - the great city of Mahoutokoro, for instance - a great hub of trade, learning, and culture that left a certain impression on all those who visited it, since it was no mere village or isolated manse.

    And then there were other assumptions, such as what familiars were capable of, and how one treated them or worked with them - assumptions shaped by Japanese myths and legends, reinforced by his time as an onmyouji, and of course, by having Luna Lovegood as his significant other for several years. Those assumptions hadn't been challenged, as they'd been proven to be true in his experience - and yet that made him forget that not everyone shared those assumptions.

    Something that Matou Shinji found himself reflecting on as he listened to Pansy explain what she assumed to be true of familiars: basically that, as was often the case in Britain, given the "familiars" they sold in pet stores, they were essentially glorified pets, if slightly more intelligent than those not exposed to magic. There was nothing about partnership, or the abilities one could use through a familiar bond or such - and Shinji was coming to realize, with some degree of horror, that this wasn't because the British chose not to use these abilities, but because they had no knowledge such things were even possible.

    He'd assumed otherwise, given Lockhart, but he was forced to concede that perhaps, just perhaps, Lockhart wasn't a typical example of British society.

    '...to be honest, I should have realized this sooner, given that the Mentor of the Assassins is unlikely to be typical.'

    Still, given Lockhart's knowledge, he thought that the man would have taught Pansy the basics of this stuff, given that Emilia was working for him, but...maybe he hadn't had the need, or the time.

    'And so it falls to me...'

    What do you say to Pansy in particular about the familiar bond?

    [ ] The need to trust and open up
    [ ] Explain how it works and what is possible through it
    [ ] (write-in)
    "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." - A.A. Milne

  4. #904
    死徒(下級)Lesser Dead Apostle
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    [x] The need to trust and open up

    I'm good with either choice. This one chosen so Pansy has chance to improve bond and unlock more abilities.

  5. #905
    [X] The need to trust and open up

    Explaining the mindset of fusion/partnership is the crux of the matter. Its the biggest barrier to the skill. You can explain the big picture to her of how it works and what is possible but that not really addressing the how you do it. You have to have a proper mindset to reach the state, which takes trust and opening up.

  6. #906
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    [X] The need to trust and open up




    While the practical mechanics of the technique - how it worked and what one could do through it - were certainly something that would need to be discussed, Shinji felt that the most critical aspect of fusion that he had to get across to Pansy was the need to trust one's partner and let down one's defenses. It was something that he himself struggled with, after all, with the only person he'd ever been completely honest with being...Sokaris. Not that he lied to Luna, but he certainly didn't tell her - or anyone else - everything that was on his mind, as there were many, many secrets he kept, and many things he simply didn't think to share. He made something of an exception for Zelkova, but the kodama had been his companion for what felt like an eternity (even if it had been less than two full years) and well, had been chosen as his partner by the spirit of a Great Tree - forged of an aspect of the Tree that would get along well with him.

    And even then, it had taken a good while before he'd been able to unlock fusion, requiring a life or death situation where the alternative to dropping his defenses was oblivion at the fangs of the giant spider.

    How much harder then, would it be for Pansy to trust Emilia enough to really let down her defenses, given what she knew of the tanuki, having been a participant in the battle where the beast was captured and bound? Especially when Pansy wasn't actually the type who let down her defenses much at all. Still, it wasn't as if she'd really get very far without knowing she had to try - and Shinji explained that much.

    "...linked by blood and fate and fortune," Pansy murmured, not quite replying to his words as much as recalling something, her voice taking on the lyrical quality of someone quoting words that were not theirs. "She said that to me when she became my familiar, forging what she called 'a path of prana and thought.'" She paused, frowning. "I haven't thought about that night in a long time. Not with everything else I had to deal with. And given that I sent her off to Lockhart, I haven't really talked with her in ages." She blinked. "Do I need to give her regular offerings of blood or something?"

    "...she didn't really explain anything to you, did she?"

    "She did mention that you and Lovegood were bonded to your familiars through blood - though I assume it was a bit more complicated that simply being bitten and having your familiar drink your blood?"

    Shinji blinked.

    "I suppose that is one way to form a connection," he said, after a moment's hesitation. "Certainly, less...involved than some of the other methods." Not that practitioners of witchcraft were likely to be able to transplant part of their essence into another being, and while physical intimacy could help to create emotional intimacy, that wasn't something he was comfortable talking about. Then he blinked. "You did form a connection of some kind with her, I hope, given what you said about a path of prana and thought?" Because if a link had never been formed to begin with...

    "She took my blood to seal our contract," Pansy replied. "And I named her, though she seems to have chosen a different name for herself. After that though, I sent her to Hogwarts, thinking that the Mentor would have a better use for her there than I would at Durmstrang, so..."

    "So you've never really acted as master and familiar, though you did at least go through the formalities, and a path between you should exist." Shinji sighed. "Have you ever spoken to her through it? Or has she spoken to you?"

    "She did speak in my mind once," Pansy admitted. "But only once, just after she drank my blood. Never after that. I wouldn't even know how to go about speaking to her over it."

    Shinji blinked.

    "Lockhart...didn't tell you?"

    "It wasn't ever something that came up in the time since I've been back. There has been a lot to catch up on."

    "...right."

    "So. Trust is what I need, is it?" she said after a moment, her expression a pensive one.

    "That's right."

    "How unfortunate. I'm not really a trusting person, Matou."

    "You seem to trust me. And Lockhart."

    "...I used to think the world was far smaller than it really was. That the world of wizards was all there was - and all that mattered. You and Lockhart have both shown me that the world is far greater than that - and my Mentor in particular has given me a place in that greater world. If I don't trust at least him, then I would be completely lost. And well, you seem to know what you're doing, well enough."

    "I do seem to know what I'm doing, don't I?" Shinji said in a self-deprecating manner. "I've always been good at that."

    "Are you saying you're not as confident as the papers make you out to be?" Pansy asked, her voice almost coy. "That you're not the brave warrior they call the Champion of Britain, the Hero of the Ministry, and more?"

    Shinji laughed, but there was a note of fatigue in the sound.

    "You of all people should know that members of the press and public often have an...interesting...relationship with the truth." Then his expression grew solemn. "I will say though that for a familiar bond to deepen, you have to accept your familiar as a partner, and to be willing to trust them and let them in. Is that going to be a problem for you with Emilia?"

    "...I don't know. I've never even really tried, honestly - and as we discussed, I didn't even know what her becoming my familiar really would entail. Given that I don't want to fail the mission, though, I suppose I should see if I can work on it, shouldn't I, in the week we have before we do this..." She sighed. "A week isn't a long time."

    "It is, and it isn't. Trust me when I say that a lot can happen in a week," the boy said wryly.

    "I'll take your word for it. Though do you have any practical suggestions for improving the bond?"

    What do you suggest? (choose up to three)

    [ ] Try spending more time with Emilia and getting to know her
    [ ] Perhaps physical intimacy might help? Say, a bit of skinship, as the Japanese call it
    [ ] Brush up on legilimency and other mind arts
    [ ] Take a few days off with Emilia and try only communicating with one another mentally
    [ ] Sparring - have Pansy and Emilia work on communicating mentally in combat and simulations, because if they can connect there, they should be able to do it in the field
    [ ] (write-in)
    "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." - A.A. Milne

  7. #907
    [jk] Force Pansy and Emilia to stay together 24/7, wearing the small outfits as they act as one, all while playing DDR until they get their retinue down pat

    [X] Try spending more time with Emilia and getting to know her
    [X] Sparring - have Pansy and Emilia work on communicating mentally in combat and simulations, because if they can connect there, they should be able to do it in the field

    Those two for sure. Getting to know each other I think its the very baseline activity needed. Sparring while maybe not the greatest way for these two to bond is certainly the number one suggestion I think Shinji would voice. It worked for him so it must work for them. In fact throw them into some danger. Granted hard to make Emilia feel something dangerous to make her NEED to work with Pansy to survive.

    As for a third pick, ahhh Light Physical intimacy like girls night out or cuddle I think would work rather well when it comes to meeting Emilia halfway but there is also the giant big warning label of things getting out of hand if we pick that route. I am not sure how Legilimency is going to get the two closer, that one seems to me to just be forget the issue and go work on another skill, but I might be wrong there. The mentally communication might work but that feels like jumping the gun cause it you do it too early, no communication happens and its a waste of time. It feels like its the activity to work on only after they connect. Walk before you run.

    So I think I will just leave it to two picks for now so they really dig down on them rather than spreading things out a bit more.

  8. #908
    死徒(下級)Lesser Dead Apostle
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    [x] Try spending more time with Emilia and getting to know her
    [x] Sparring- have Pansy and Emilia work on communicating mentally in combat and simulations, because if they can connect there, they should be able to do it in the field
    [x] Take a few days off with Emilia and try to communicating with one another mentally
    Last edited by Dracueri; August 9th, 2022 at 11:15 PM.

  9. #909
    [x] Try spending more time with Emilia and getting to know her
    [x] Sparring- have Pansy and Emilia work on communicating mentally in combat and simulations, because if they can connect there, they should be able to do it in the field
    [x] Take a few days off with Emilia and try to communicating with one another mentally

  10. #910
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    [x] Try spending more time with Emilia and getting to know her
    [x] Sparring- have Pansy and Emilia work on communicating mentally in combat and simulations, because if they can connect there, they should be able to do it in the field
    [x] Take a few days off with Emilia and try to communicating with one another mentally






    Chapter 15.
    Stay on Target

    At first, Matou Shinji was hopeful that Tohsaka Rin’s collapse during the training exercise he’d assigned her would only be temporary – that sooner or later, she’d wake up, shaken but intact, ready to resume her duties as a member of the squad. It was, after all, a bit galling to have to rely on Mudbutton’s troops to cover the protection duties his subordinate was supposed to be handling, especially as a day became two, two became three, and three became a week, all without any sign of Tohsaka proving capable of returning to duty.

    Oh, she’d technically awoken from unconsciousness in that her eyes had finally opened, yet there was no spark of intellect or intelligence in her eyes. Nor did she even seem to register the presence of anyone or anything in the room, remaining mute and stiff when poked and prodded, her unseeing eyes failing to track…anything at all, really – a situation which did not improve over the next few days, with the magus remaining in a state of complete and utter catatonia, unable to move, to eat, or to interact with the world at all.

    Whatever his feelings about Tohsaka Rin, this was hardly a good situation, and one that he had no idea about how to resolve – or even if it would resolve itself. Somehow.

    ‘Maybe her mind broke when she was pushed beyond what she could bear during her confrontation with her fears?’

    It didn’t seem likely to him, but it wouldn’t be the first time that he had underestimated the fragility of mort…of others. Honestly, how much had he forgotten about what it meant to be human? Not everyone could just keep going and going, as if they were some unfeeling golem. People had limits. He knew that. At least he did in his mind – but maybe he’d forgotten it in his heart, since his limits were so very different from those of most others.

    There was no point in dwelling on this now though, given that the mission was the priority, and that with Tohsaka…indisposed and unable to play her part, alternative arrangements had to be made.

    Granger, after all, had already begun to ask about ‘Lumi Edelfelt's’ rather conspicuous absence, as had the children. So far, he’d managed to deflect any suspicions she might have by merely saying that his colleague was unwell, but that was only a temporary measure at best. If this lasted much longer, there would likely be questions as to why – if ‘Miss Edelfelt’ were truly indisposed – other arrangements hadn’t been made to cover her responsibilities.

    What could be done though?

    While a goblin had been detached to shadow Miss Granger temporarily, that wasn’t a permanent solution, and it wasn’t as if he could have Emilia take Tohsaka’s place, given the very different roles they’d been assigned.

    ‘I was hoping to avoid it, but I will have to write to Lockhart about this…’ he realized, seeing no other option but to contact his superior about this and at least inform him of the situation. Well, officially inform, given that he was sure that the First Citizen already had some idea of what was happening from Mudbutton, though whatever the man knew, writing up a report was still worth doing, as he had no idea what Lockhart knew, or if the man had any advice that might be helpful.

    Who knew? Perhaps the First Citizen might even have a solution to the current issue that would be conducive to facilitating the overall defense of WADA as well as fulfilling his Squad's mission without breaking cover.

    It took him some pains to craft the missive as he’d like, hopefully having managed to get the point across that what had happened was the result of unfortunate events that no one could have foreseen, as opposed to something entirely preventable that he had not only failed to see coming, but had caused, like some incompetent villain with no awareness of the demands of a mission or the state of his subordinates.

    Having sent it, he figured it would take some time to hear back, knowing how busy Lockhart was, but surprisingly, a reply came the very next day, with the First Citizen's secretary informing him that as Lockhart would be visiting WADA for other reasons in several days, the man could set aside time to discuss this matter with him personally.

    Said other reasons included a discussion of WADA's future in Albion (given that Hogwarts, which had been the traditional educational institution of Britain, was in Ministry-controlled territory), possible relocation or expansion plans, and whether they had the space for a rather large number of new students.

    (A number which seemed vaguely familiar. In fact, now that he thought about it, wasn’t that the number of students that had gone from Hogwarts to Durmstrang for the Triwizard Tournament?! Had some accommodation been reached with the Nordic nations while he’d been otherwise preoccupied?).

    A copy of this missive had of course been provided to Mudbutton, of course, as the Spectre was the head of the security detail at WADA - and the goblin had visibly paled on receiving it, muttering about how the campus was not – and could not be – prepared for such an event – especially on such short notice. For that, Shinji did not blame him – he could easily see how this situation could be a bit of a security nightmare, or at the very least, a headache.

    Even more of one than his own mission was turning out to be, what with one member of his team in a catatonic stupor, himself being run ragged on overwatch round the clock, and otherwise generally not having much time to chat with the mission target.

    So when a visibly unhappy Mudbutton asked if he could help out with security for the First Citizen’s visit, Shinji had agreed, volunteering to serve as a part of a VIP protection detail for WADA’s representatives. Given that Miss Granger would be one of said representatives, this wasn’t too much of an expansion of the scope of his duties anyway, and it wasn’t as if the Ministry was actually going to launch an attack, right? They hadn’t so far, so why should that change?




    Alas, Matou Shinji had not considered the realities of the tactical situation. Yes, the Ministry had not attempted to kill Lockhart while he was safely ensconced in Albion’s superbly defended HQ, nor had they gone after Miss Granger so far, given that the presence of a garrison at WADA meant that any force they sent would need to be a significant portion of what they had if they wanted to dispatch it quickly and get away with their objective – and such a thing was not worth it simply to secure Miss Granger.

    After all, most of the army was not well-suited for such a thing, meaning that any operation of this nature would probably result in a high number of casualties.

    If that one strike allowed them to eliminate Lockhart, his secretary, and the former King of the Goblins, however, on top of securing Miss Granger – well, then the cost-benefit analysis changed significantly. In that case, the costs – and risks – of such an operation would be deemed acceptable, even light, as the insurrection could be crushed here and now, before it became any stronger.

    Certainly, if Lockhart was eliminated, then with him would die the rebellion’s chance of seeking or obtaining political or material support from treacherous France, the upstart Americans, and the rest of the ICW to create a nation where monsters were the equal of men, where upstanding wizards cowered in fear of their supposed "allies'" whims.

    The situation as it stood was grim.

    In some ways, it was like the final days of the conflict against Voldemort, with the Ministry on the brink of collapse from the ceaseless machinations of the Dark Lord. The only difference was that Lockhart's message was far more seductive, his methods far more insidious than the Dark Lord's. After all, where Voldemort made people fear the consequences of opposing him, Lockhart gave people hope that under him, their lives would be better. Where they’d cowered from the Dark Lord, they would welcome this new tyrant with thunderous applause, even as he undermined the very foundations of wizarding society, tore apart a system that had given the Isles half a millennium of peace.

    Well, give or take a few decades, and under certain definitions of peace, but why quibble about the particulars?

    Such was the thrust of the Minister’s argument in his speech to Britain’s armies, as he sought to stiffen their spines before sending them off on this daring – but needful – mission.

    "Gilderoy Lockhart - and those who follow him - are not merely criminals, not merely rebels, but traitors to all mankind," the Minister stated, making a point to meet the eye of each and every soldier in the handpicked group of troops tasked with assaulting WADA. "Each and every single one of them have willfully and willingly chosen to sell out their own kind, betraying every principle of civilization for the sake of their lust for power. And in so doing, they have proven themselves monsters.”

    Lucius Malfoy shook his head.

    "For all the power they hold, the glories they have won, or the lies they spin, the truth is that they are weak of mind and weak of will, weak to the whispers of temptation. They have undone centuries of progress, betrayed civilization itself so they might live as Kings among savages and beasts, not realizing - not caring for the consequences of their acts. They have forgotten the essential truth that what we do in life, echoes in eternity. It is the acknowledgement of that truth which allowed men to become more than beasts, which allowed us to build glorious civilizations founded on might and magic, which brings each and every one of you before me today, on the eve of the death of treacherous Albion! On the eve of the archtraitor's death at your hands!"

    The soldiers gave the Minister a ragged cheer, and the man smiled ever so slightly.

    "Tomorrow the world will remember why Magical Britain has ever been first among the Wizarding Nations, why it was our Aurors who led the fight against every Dark Lord this century, why it was one of our own who managed to slay the last madman who sought to destroy civilization as we knew it. We are the nation of Merlin, of Morgan le Fay, of Nimue and a thousand other legends, of Dumbledore, of Newt Scamander, of the Boy-Who-Lived and a thousand other heroes - and I am proud to stand among you who are legends - and heroes - in the making."

    Amidst the crowd, spines stiffened, heads held just a bit higher, people stood just a bit prouder.

    "Heroes, after all, do not rise in easy times, in times free from threat and want. Heroes rise when times are darkest, when men contend against monsters and triumph, just as you, the greatest warriors of Britain, will triumph over the savages and brutes the archtraitor has won to his side! Tomorrow, the rebellion will fall, and we shall restore the proper order of things - a world in which wizards rule over lesser beings, where goblins and centaurs and all others must once more bend their knees to their betters, where the wizarding world will remember that it is Britain who is first among equals, and tremble at our might!"

    Perhaps the man would have said more, but whatever else he wanted to say was cut off by cheers and applause.




    The attack, when it came, was swift and brutal, with hundreds of Ministry-aligned wizards appearing around WADA on the ground and in the air. Broom rider detachments struck from above, launching attack runs on the goblins at the perimeter, pinning them in place and keeping them from responding effectively as the ground troops moved in, taking advantage of the chaos to cut down the already outnumbered goblins and push inwards towards the main administration building.

    Even had they simply rushed the lines, it would not have been a good situation, given that Mudbutton’s detachment only had two-score goblins in it in total. As it was, though the score and a half of goblins on perimeter duty fought as best they could, they were soon cut down, unable to check the enemy’s advance, and there was little hope that the half a score in the administration building serving as an honor guard for the VIPs would manage any better against the weight of such numbers.

    Normally, backup would be summoned at this point, with the garrison buying time for Albion’s army to arrive in force, but the Ministry’s forces had struck too quickly, and worse, had deployed anti-apparition jinxes.

    There would be no help coming.

    Those already at WADA – Shinji, Mudbutton, Lockhart, Miss Suoirtsulli, and the WADA Board of Governors – were on their own.




    As the attack began, Matou Shinji rapidly assessed the situation he was in, with the perimeter guard already down - annihilated by overwhelming force, it seemed. For a moment he cursed that he had not chosen to join them, as he felt he could have slaughtered the attackers here, just as he had crushed the fools who had assaulted the Ministry, but the moment passed. Now was not a time for dwelling on the past but focusing on the present.

    Thinking in those terms, the meeting room - though it held high value targets like the First Citizen, his Secretary, Mudbutton, and others - seemed like a relatively safe location, given that he was already seeing the blue familiars of Miss Suoirtsulli materialize around her, and given what Order Lockhart belonged to, well...

    'Look, if he beat Grindelwald in single combat, I'm not really worried about him.'

    More concerning were the VIPs who had left the room during the short break, with some intending to take a walk around the building to stretch their legs, and Miss Granger having gone off to use "the little girls' room."

    'Well, of those, my top priority is Granger. If she dies - or gets taken by the enemy - I fail my mission.'

    He'd thought of that before, of course, which was why he'd had Emilia slip Granger a charm bracelet, with the charms made from folded flow ofuda, giving him a way to reach her side instantly. He hadn't seen a need to use it thus far (as such a thing could only be used once, and he rather doubted Miss Granger would be happy about discovering that the true nature of the gift), but this seemed like a good opportunity, so he closed his eyes and let himself go, vanishing from the meeting room (with a number of onlookers gaping, as they knew apparition had been blocked)...

    ...only to reappear in the doorway of the girls' bathroom, between a startled Hermione Granger and an even more startled team of Aurors, one of which reflexively cast a stunning spell at him, which he swatted aside instinctively.

    Matou Shinji's dynamic entry has caught the team of Aurors flatfooted, giving him the initiative. Taking advantage of his opponents' shock and surprise, he unleashed a wave of binding ofuda, with the paper slips homing in unerringly on the exposed skin of his enemies' faces. As with every other time he'd managed to use such a thing on mere humans, their bodies froze and went stiff, with his lips curving into a smirk as he saw this.

    ...a smirk that faded in an instant as the Aurors started moving once again, with six lances of crimson light slamming into the Nines' chest a moment later, demonstrating both the effectiveness of their dispel talismans and their ability to provide a coordinated response to hostility.

    ‘Damn you, Potter! This is your fault!’ the boy raged, moments before he was bound by ropes conjured from his opponents’ wands, and a growl escaped his throat. Thinking him neutralized, they turned to secure Miss Granger, only to be bowled over as a wave of dark prana exploded from the position of the unknown, ripping apart the ropes, as slitted golden eyes stared out at them from a now scaled visage.

    Your fight is with me,” he growled.

    To their credit, they started bombarding him with stunning spells once again, but it was painfully obvious that these wretches had never fought something other than their ilk before, that for all their experience, they were not nearly as skilled or as clever as those who had wounded him in the Ministry. Did they think him a mere practitioner of their craft, to be brought low by something as pedestrian as a stunner? Or were they perhaps hesitant to kill in front of Miss Granger, in the belief that something like murder would ruin her impression of them?

    'How droll.'

    Being fair, they had managed to shrug off his ofuda, likely because traitorous Potter had shared a trick or two with them, but that simply meant that they could no longer be easily - and non-lethally - disabled.

    'Well then, the hard way it is.'

    The boy chuckled as he snapped his fingers, and a wall of earth rose up before him, blocking his view of the unsightly savages – and incidentally intercepting several bolts of blue, purple, and green aimed in his direction, as it seemed they had the same idea as he. The wall shuddered under the onslaught, with part of it crumbling away as quickly as he could restore it. In the back of his mind, there was a flicker of irritation at their continued resistance, and in answer to it, several ofuda flew from his sleeves to reinforce the wall – and to ensure no sound could be heard from beyond it.

    Closing his eyes, the dragon let his senses extend into the earth below the building, along with his prana, willing the ground behind his enemies to rise up. Alas that they were so focused on the obstacle before them, trying to blast their way through, it that they didn't notice what happened next - which was that the walls turned from dirt to stone and rushed together at tremendous speed, crushing their bodies into bloody paste - a death quicker than the one they deserved, but then, mercy was the province of the strong.
    "Let's fall back," the boy said to Hermione, who was still looking rather shocked at the sudden outbreak of violence. For a moment, he wondered what she would think if she knew he had quite literally crushed her would be kidnappers, but he thought better of it, as there were some things a delicate young woman had no business knowing.

    "Y-yes. Wha—"

    "In the event of an enemy incursion, my orders are to protect you - and the children," Nines stated firmly. "It seems the enemy is here, so let us get you to safety."

    "Enemy...? The Aurors?" she asked, confused. "But—"

    "There is no time," the boy said, interrupting her. "We cannot apparate to the shelter area, as our enemies have put up anti-disapparition jinxes, but no matter, there are ways around such."

    "I--"

    "Miss Granger, I will answer your questions later. For now, come with me if you want to live."

    Perhaps recognizing the futility of arguing further, or perhaps just confused by what was happening (and here he couldn’t blame her), Miss Granger came along without protest.

    They made their way towards the shelter – one originally built during the Second World War for the building’s inhabitants to wait out a bombing raid – without encountering too much resistance, which honestly surprised the boy – and rankled just a little. Had the ones they’d send to accost Miss Granger in the bathroom been everything they could spare? Why then, was he retreating, instead of taking the fight to them, ripping them to shreds for their presumptuousness?

    …of course, while he could do that, such would leave Miss Granger unprotected, and he had no intention of failing his mission, so he forced down his darker, more violent impulses. Still, it felt like a waste of his talents to be moving through empty hallways and down into an underground area away from the real fight.

    --up until he received twin blasts of red to the face from what seemed like empty air.

    ‘Clever,’ he conceded, giving his invisible opponents credit where it was due. ‘Waiting for your prey to come to you is certainly easier than seeking them out. Let them think they are safe – that they’ve escaped – then strike.’

    Sadly for them, mere stunners meant little to a being such as him.

    Having previously fought a handful of the Ministry's finest, Matou Shinji was not especially perturbed at the presence of two invisible...adversaries. True, he had failed to notice them using his more esoteric senses, but then, he chalked that off to being distracted by the pretty girl he was escorting, as Granger had definitely filled out a bit in the year and a half it had been since he’d last seen her. There was a glow about her that there hadn't been before, a quiet confidence that made the wavy-haired maiden far more appealing than she had been when she'd been pursuing him.

    ...that or it could be the perfume she was wearing, an almost spicy bled of bergamot, amber and sandalwood that hinted of the exotic, a delectable mix, especially in combination with faint notes of well-hidden unease – even a hint of fear.

    Still, she had nothing to worry about – riffraff like whoever these might be were no threat when compared to someone who bore the might of an elder dragon – or even something substantially less powerful, really, and they’d have to get through him to get to her.

    So, he proved as he released a swarm of ofuda in the direction of the twin presences he could feel using his earth senses, relishing their twin spikes of shock as the paper slips homed in on them, even as they tried to evade – to dodge out of the way – to break contact.

    'When will you learn that resistance is futile?' he scoffed, as he pictured how they would move, and some of the ofuda shifted trajectory, heading not for them, but for where they would be going, forcing them to lose their footing as the ground beneath their feet surged upwards. With a thud, the two presences tripped, and several binding ofuda came to rest on what he supposed must be their faces.

    The flash of light that happened next was expected, as they apparently had the same countermeasures to magical ensnarement as their fellows, but he had hoped to trigger that, as the dispel talismans were not particularly discriminate about the spell effects they ended. They couldn't be, given the range of things they had to counter, and so when they dispelled the bindings he imposed, they also dispelled their own invisibility.

    'Checkmate.'

    Without another word, the earth rose up around them, sealing them in nearly skintight cocoons of stone, keeping them from speaking or moving – though he did allow their noses to stick out so they could breathe. He wasn't a monster, after all, to kill when it was unnecessary. Their wands, though, he called to himself wordlessly, since they'd not be needing those anytime soon.

    "How...?"

    "Old mercenary trick for dealing with people in the dark," Nines responded easily, tapping the blindfold he wore. "It's not as if invisibility helps when I don't need eyes to see."

    "You seem used to...all this," she observed, noting how he'd dealt with both groups so...easily.

    "Well, a m…mercenary walks with death, after all," came the response. "This isn't my first battlefield. It won't be my last."

    "Battlefield?"

    "I'll tell you once we reach safety. You're in danger here."

    Safety, in this case, being the underground shelter that could be accessed through the basement - one that Hermione knew about, though him bringing it up only made her somewhat more nervous.

    "If we're in danger, what about everyone else?" she asked. "Everyone back in the room. Shouldn't we be going back for them?"

    "The First Citizen can handle himself in a fight," Nines replied, thankful that the blindfold meant that Granger couldn't see him rolling his eyes at how much of an understatement that was. "He defeated Grindelwald, remember?"

    So the papers said, after all, and one could trust them to be--

    Nines smiled crookedly, not willing to finish that ridiculous thought, even in the privacy of his mind.

    "B...but what of the others, like the First Citizen's secretary and WADA's board of directors?!"

    "I do not think Miss Suoirtsulli is in any danger," the boy replied. "Rather, I pity anyone who rouses her ire." He didn't really want to say more, but... "She is as far beyond me as I am beyond...them," he said, gesturing at the cocooned individuals. "With her and Mudbutton to protect the rest, I am not particularly worried as to the others. Just you, so if you wouldn’t mind, Miss Granger, let us get to shelter."

    "Ok," the girl allowed, heading towards one corner of the basement, where...

    'Ah. Yes. She would know where the shelter hatch is.'

    ...she spoke a few words in his ear and a hatch seemed to emerge from nowhere, becoming visible to him by mundane and esoteric senses - even as he suddenly began to sense a complex underground.

    "The shelter's access point is a Secret, kept by students and faculty, unless permission is given to disclose," she stated, as Nines blinked. "It keeps intruders from being able to find it."

    "...need to know, huh?" the boy noted, his opinion of the security here going up several notches. "Who put this into effect? The First Citizen?"

    "The Founder of WADA."

    "...clever, especially with your limited enrollment," he admitted.

    "I thought you might think so," the girl said with a dazzling smile as she turned the wheel to open the hatch. "Shall we?"

    The two proceeded down into the shelter, sealing the hatch above them.

    On their way down, the boy explained the basics of the situation – how the outer perimeter had been breached, and contact had been lost, with hostiles present in force.

    "Hostiles?" she echoed, somewhat uncertain. "Then...the Aurors?"

    "Likely responsible. If not, then they were acting as opportunistic bottom feeders, taking advantage of the chaos and are no better," the boy replied. "What I know is that the area is locked down, with anti-apparition jinxes in place, and that during the assault, a group of armed and dangerous individuals came to try and kidnap you. Whether or not they were truly Aurors, or just cretins posing as them, I cannot say, merely that it was my duty to protect you. Thus, when they confirmed themselves as enemies by attacking me on sight, I neutralized them as a threat."

    "...if apparition was not an option, how did you get to me? For that matter, how did you even know where I was?" she asked, her eyes narrowing as she stepped off the ladder. "...do you have some kind of tracking charm on me? Like the Trace?"

    "No, Miss Granger," the boy responded. Technically speaking, the bracelet made from disguised flow ofuda was not a tracking charm after all, even if the ofuda were disguised as charms and allowed him to track her location. "I confess I did not know exactly where you were, though I recalled you mentioning that you had gone to the bathroom. Hence I used an Eastern movement technique to go to the nearest washroom, and well, you know the rest."

    "An…Eastern movement technique?"

    "Something equivalent to apparition, though the mechanism of effect differs," he noted. "For a very long time, we did not have wands in the East, and so we developed other tools and other methods by which to use our magic."

    "Oh. That makes sense," she acknowledged, proving herself far more open minded than the Hermione of several years past. "Would it be possible for someone like me to learn some of these techniques?" She smiled, though the expression was somewhat brittle. "Given that I've been in danger once, I can't say it won't happen again, and I don't want to always have to be some damsel in distress."

    That was a notion that Matou Shinji readily approved of, as the more capable she was, the more use she would have as an asset for Albion.

    "It...is not impossible," the boy admitted. "However, you would need to learn some of the foundations of the Eastern Arts in order to do so, including how to craft ofuda, the mindset required, and other such. And with your schedule..."

    "I can make time, as long as I have someone willing to teach me," she responded, her eyes bright with determination.

    “Well, I suppose I can find someone to teach you,” he said after a moment.

    “You wouldn’t do it yourself, when you’re assigned to me as it is?”

    “In the wake of all this, I have no idea where I’ll be assigned to, so I may as well make the introduction. After all, I doubt anyone is going to assault an ambassador from Magical Japan.”

    Hermione blinked.

    “…and how, praytell, do you know an ambassador?”

    “That is a very long story.”
    “I’m sure we have time. That is, if its your job to protect me and not everyone else…”

    Shinji sighed.

    “…so be it.”




    In the aftermath of the battle, one in which the whole of the Ministry strike force had either been killed or captured, with Auror Black and Commander Weasley among the prisoners, Matou Shinji – still disguised as Nines – finally managed to find a moment to have a conversation with the First Citizen and report on what had happened to Tohsaka and his squad.

    “It seems a bit trivial now, compared to what happened just now,” Shinji admitted, with his superior standing before him in a private, sealed-off room. “An attack of this scale - if you hadn't been here, sir..." the boy began, shaking his head. "Or at least, if you hadn't made your visit so public..."

    "...then the Ministry wouldn't have attacked, and brave goblins wouldn't be dead?" Lockhart asked, the corners of his mouth curving up slightly. "You are correct, Mister Matou."

    "If you knew that sir, then why...?"

    "Because when one is laying a trap, it makes sense to use bait that your quarry will find...irresistible," Lockhart responded, shaking his head. "Mudbutton, Commander Peverell, and I all knew that the Ministry was mustering its forces for a coming attack. Such is only inevitable, given that to them, we are rebels against the Ministry's lawful authority – really, it was merely a matter of when and where."

    "And you thought that this...turning a school into a warzone, was a good idea?" Shinji demanded.

    "Mind you, WADA is a school whose students and faculty are all informed about the extensive shelter system underneath – one protected from what happens above by distance and magic," the First Citizen noted. "As well as a place that had a rather sizable garrison of goblin troops. But yes, I did."

    "Why?"

    "Because it was better that they assaulted a place already prepared for them than one that was not," Lockhart explained quietly. "It is true that many brave goblins died today, but in turn, the entire strike force sent against us – all two hundred or so, including most of the Ministry's surviving Aurors – was either killed or captured, dealing a significant blow to their ability to continue prosecuting a drawn out conflict. That aside, consider what this looks like – the optics, if you will."

    "The optics?" Shinji echoed.

    "The Ministry committed a massive strike force against a place of learning, overrunning the brave soldiers placed around it for its protection in the wake of the Battle of London, heedless of any collateral damage, or any of the unwritten rules of the wizarding world regarding consideration for civilians. This force, like the last one that threatened civilians, was stopped by the brave soldiers of Albion, who fought against overwhelming odds to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat."

    "...and so, Albion comes out smelling like roses," Shinji grunted, shaking his head. “And the Ministry like vicious warmongers who care not for the safety of children.”

    "Yes. Already, a representative of the ICW has acknowledged us as the legitimate government of Britain, given that the rump Ministry has become a rogue state using terror tactics against a civilian population," the man stated. "And more, envoys from some of the other Ministries of Europe will be arriving in a week for us to renegotiate agreements they had previously made with the Ministry of Britain."

    "What, is it over already?" the boy asked, blinking.

    "Nothing so convenient," Lockhart noted. "We have secured legitimacy in the eyes of the world, but I fear that the fight is just beginning. With many of its experienced personnel captured or otherwise neutralized, the Ministry will likely grow desperate, perhaps resorting to unorthodox or unsavory methods. Still, none of that can be done right away, so we have time."

    "...and my squad, sir?"

    "You have completed your mission, so as agreed, you may recruit more members." He paused for a moment. "Tell me, are you satisfied with Emilia's performance? Do you wish to keep her on your squad, or would you like me to reassign her?"

    “I am…satisfied,” Shinji allowed. “She played her part – better than I did, if I’m being honest.”

    “Which you rarely are, as I recall.”

    “…I tell the truth.”

    “Just not all of it?”

    “That isn’t really a lie, is it?”

    Lockhart sighed.

    "As for the matter of Tohsaka, we will see to her care, and in the meantime, you are welcome to request a replacement. Did you have anyone in mind?"

    Shinji sighed.

    “Maybe a goblin?” he requested.

    “Oh?”

    “They sacrificed a lot today, and it isn’t as if I’m unfamiliar with them. So out of respect for them and their losses, I’d like to have one of them assigned to fill Tohsaka’s place,” Shinji stated. "That, and if Albion is supposed to be a realm that isn't focused on wizards and what they can do, it seems like a good idea for the Home Guard's First Squad to have at least one goblin," the boy noted, with Lockhart nodding.
    "I don't disagree, but are you certain you are prepared to have a goblin as a subordinate? As you may recall, what they value is very different from many wizards do. In particular, you must take great care not to promise or imply you will do something if you have no intention of doing so, even as a figure of speech. Do recall that one of the things they take very seriously is a person's word. This includes dodges like 'I will look into it', or 'I'm on it,' or pleasantries such as 'We'd love to see you again.'" He smiled thinly. "This is something the Americans in particular tend to have issues with. Europeans tend to be more literal, I find."

    "Ah. So—"

    "Don't lead this one on like your last teammate, or there will be consequences," the First Citizen warned. "Not just for you, but for the Home Guard as a whole. If you are certain, I will make the arrangements to have a goblin transferred to your team – the sole survivor from WADA's perimeter guard, in fact."

    "...there was a survivor?"

    "Yes, one – though he suffered rather severe injuries from the curses the Ministry used, and will be indisposed for at least a week while he is being treated."

    "I see. Then—"

    "In the meantime, Mister Matou, you have earned yourself a break. As Confederation representatives will be coming to London shortly for discussions regarding responsibilities and liabilities we inherit – or did not inherit – from the Ministry – several squads from their Security Directorate will be on hand to assist with matters. Once they arrive, I think the Home Guard can likely use some downtime, given what has just transpired. Emilia obviously cannot be extracted until a settlement is reached, at which point her cover identity will be 'transferred' to France, but there is no reason you cannot take some time for yourself."

    “And my assignment with Granger?”

    “Consider it a success,” the man replied. “She has agreed to join us, with your…sense of restraint and professionalism apparently being a major factor.”

    How the First Citizen managed to make a seeming compliment seem so…biting, Shinji had no idea, only that it was certainly a talent he wished to cultivate for himself.

    …or perhaps he could work on his mental discipline and control, since even if Lockhart was willing to overlook what he’d done to Tohsaka, he himself was not.




    Is there anything you want to say to George or work on with him during the week?

    [ ] (write-in)
    Last edited by alfheimwanderer; September 23rd, 2022 at 09:41 PM.
    "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." - A.A. Milne

  11. #911
    [X] Talk to George about your preparations for the mission. Try to brainstorm and research ways to conceal ourselves from ghosts and wizards, as well as anti-spirit spells. Maybe consult Lockhart or Kohaku?

  12. #912
    死徒(下級)Lesser Dead Apostle
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
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    [x] Talk to George about your preparations for the mission. Try to brainstorm and research ways to conceal ourselves from ghosts and wizards, as well as anti-spirit spells. Maybe consult Lockhart or Kohaku?

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