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    Hey, I ain’t no lizard! Draconic's Avatar
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    Post Astolfobending

    Author's Note: This had to be done… There was never any escape, and no way to avoid it. I cannot be blamed for this. The whole Fate/ fanbase has always been on an irreversible collision course with this moment ever since Apocrypha came out. I just happened to be the one to give it that one final push.

    Not into the abyss, of course: Off the deep end.

    When you think about it, the fact that it was me makes a lot of sense considering what I do. In fact… it may be the only thing that makes sense about this entire fic.

    But then again, this is an Astolfo story. Only a gratuitous loon like me could possibly create this atrocity. It is difficult to read, because it is written as Astolfo would have written it: tangentially, without any consideration for the consequences.

    * * * * *

    Astolfobending


    When it came to Chaldea, there was never any shortage of weirdness. Clashing egos, patently incompatible Servants, and premature Noble Phantaculation we're just the tip of the iceberg. Adorable demonic video game enthusiasts, Nobunaga outbursts, Chibi-Nobus that could never be guaranteed to be entirely harmless, the sight of Tesla and Edison duking it out all over the facility for hours on end, Gilgamesh being driven up the wall by his mischievous younger self, Chibi-Nobus, the constantly depleting bandages in Cú Chulainn's bathroom that somehow never seemed to run out, Kiyohime (just in general), Chibi-Nobus… In fact, there was an overabundance of absurdity at times.

    Nowhere however, was this more apparent than around one person: Weirdness seemed to gravitate toward Astolfo as though he was a magnet for nonsense.

    And today, things were only about to get more bizarre.

    A few days ago, after he'd accidentally blown up a mill in the remains of the Orléans singularity, Ritsuka and Mashu had decided to find a way to mellow him out. Or at least slow him down. As such, they got one of the least pleasant books out of the library and gave him an assignment to read it. The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka.

    Astolfo didn't feel any different the following morning as he woke up. Everything seemed to be in order. His room was clean, his nails were perfectly manicured, his clothes were folded and ready to be either worn or hung up and he hadn't found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin. He brushed out his hair, tied it back into its usual braid, and got dressed.

    He was eating breakfast in the cafeteria when he noticed something was off.

    First off, he was getting weird looks from Servants and staff members alike. Or rather, weirder than usual, ranging from deeply unsettled to appreciation.

    Second, his shirt felt oddly tight. He passed that off as just feeling really full. No one would argue that he'd eaten way too much last night. Of course he would put on some weight. He took a deep breath, squirming a little at how constricted he felt while doing it and…

    Hold on a minute, he was a spiritual entity. His body was a static construct: He literally couldn't gain weight.

    "Okay… so… this seems pretty strange," he said to himself, tugging at his shirt. "Did someone change my Saint Graph while I was sleeping?"

    He blinked, looking down at himself to check if his usual attire looked any different.

    Then he did a double-take.

    "Oh my god…"


    * * * * *

    Cleopatra awoke to the sound of someone rummaging around in her room. From the sound of things, whoever was attempting to pilfer her belongings was in her closet.

    "If I were you, little mouse, I'd run while I still had legs," she said, slinking out of her bed—a four-poster with translucent silk curtains, and handwoven sheets with a thread count so high that Arachne herself would sputter with envy.

    She slowly treaded closer to her closet, "I'll still let you go if you leave now. I don't care who you are. If you choose not to steal from me, I may yet grant you mercy."

    "Not stealing from you, Cleo," the thief answered? "I mean it! You have my word, and though I may be appallingly unreliable, I always keep my promises. And right now, I really need to borrow a dress, more than I ever have in my life!"

    "Astolfo…" Cleopatra sighed, putting a hand to her head.

    It said something about him that she had heard that line before.

    It said something entirely different about her that she could make flannel sleepwear look as good as a sequined cocktail dress, but that was only relevant until she got changed, which she planned on doing post-haste. Getting to chuck the stylish paladin out of her room by the collar was just a bonus. She strolled cheerfully into her closet and made to grab him…

    Except that her arm stopped the moment she got a better look at him.

    "What in the name of Ra are you playing at?" she demanded.

    "Honestly? No idea, but this is too cool an opportunity to pass up!"

    "I should have expected that answer, but on the other hand, this is ridiculous. Did Merlin sneak into your room last night?"

    Astolfo tilted his head to the side, not understanding.

    "Don't you remember? He can't do that anymore, not after what happened last time."

    "Oh, right. Last time… the less said about the following morning the better…"

    "I still have nightmares," Astolfo nodded, shivering. "But that's beside the point, I need this dress!" he held up a beautiful, ivory off-the-shoulder piece that left very little to the imagination. On any other day, Cleopatra would have questioned the paladin's sanity (more than usual at least), but considering what she was looking at, she had to reconsider.

    "Why are you able to fill up that dress in the first place?" she asked, suspiciously.

    Astolfo shrugged.

    "I dunno. I woke up this morning and I was a C-cup with curves that could topple civilizations."

    Cleo nodded only to be startled as yet another uninvited guest made herself known.

    "Did somebody call for me?" asked Altera.

    "Huh? No… we… oh! No, sorry Altera, no civilizations to topple today," Astolfo giggled. "I was just using a metaphor to describe this killer bod I'm totally rockin' all of a sudden!"

    "Oh, yes, I see. It seems you are female now," the Hun responded politely, completely unfazed. "I bid the both of you a pleasant morning."

    Astolfo and Cleo both watched Altera leave in quiet bemusement.

    "Gosh, she really took that in stride, didn't she?" said the paladin, shrugging his her shoulders.

    "Yes. She did. Why are you still in my bedroom?! Out!"

    It was her right as a pharaoh to dispose of invading effeminate Frenchmen. So she picked up the paladin, and tossed him out of her room.

    Unsinkable to the end, Astolfo simply jumped to his her feet, brushed herself off, and continued on her way to the next room with fashion potential.

    * * * * *

    Nero opened her door to the sound of frenetic knocking.

    Seeing her visitor, she looked Astolfo up and down appraisingly, and after about a half-minute of consideration, exclaimed, "Marvelous! I know not how you did it, but you look even better as a woman than you did as a man!"

    "Gosh, you're making me blush, Your Majesty."

    "But I simply cannot get over it. You're a work of art! Not a finer specimen than I, of course, but I can see the beauty itself radiating from you as light from the sun!

    "Aww, I'm sure you tell everyone that."

    "Doubt not the sincerity of my words, sir knight! You have become a finer lady than many girls could ever dream of becoming.
    Umu!
    Indeed!
    Now, what reason have you for this visit? What can the Emperor of Roses do make your life shine ever brighter? Not to say that I would reject a social call, should that be your intention."

    "Well, you see, I don't know how long this is going to last, so I wanted to make the most of it."

    Nero nodded.

    "And from the looks of things, we're about the same size."

    Nero nodded.

    "So, I was wondering if you'd let me borrow a dress?"

    The door closed with a whoosh.

    "Aww, fiddlesticks… " Astolfo ran a hand through his her hair and thought about who [s]he could ask next. [S]he figured that he and Kiyohime probably had similar measurements, but… that was Kiyohime. He She was all for ignoring the proverb about letting sleeping dogs lie, to the point of banging equally proverbial pots and pans around them. And sometimes real ones, but that was beside the point. But there was something to be said about sleeping demons. More importantly, Astolfo didn't know why she was a girl now. If the burning princess asked her about it, her lack of knowledge could be interpreted as a lie. And she knew exactly how that story would end.

    "For those who don't know, that story ends with me, a bell and more fire than I'd know what to do with!" [s]he said enthusiastically to…

    * * * * *

    The narrator stopped and checked his script to make sure he hadn't missed anything, but no, he could confirm that no one else was in the hallway, and could only determine that Astolfo must have broken the fourth wall without even considering how the writer felt about it.

    Rude!

    * * * * *

    She skipped off, along the winding path that her aimless epic journey through Chaldea would take her.

    A few minutes later, Nero's door slid back open. In her hand was a startlingly official-looking document written in script so decorative as to be nigh unreadable.

    "Hello?" she asked, poking her head out the doorway. "Rider? Are you hiding somewhere out here?" she stepped out into the hall. "Where are you? I have composed a referral for you to a talented seamstress!"

    She looked around in mild bewilderment.

    "The Emperor has not given you permission to leave!" she called out, tears welling in her eyes, abruptly and unbidden.

    "Everyone leaves you eventually…" said an unfamiliar voice. "You should read doijins. Friends are temporary. Waifus and husbandos are forever."

    "Yes, I know," Nero answered despondently. "WAIT A MINUTE!"

    She whirled around to see what looked like a giant origami fox with some sort of text on its sides that Nero only recognized from her rivalry with that… real fox. But this wasn't Tamamo's voice, and Tamamo didn't do obscurely large, magical origami projects. That was a different Servant's hallmark. So Nero hunched over to look the paper fox in its weirdly blank yet profoundly expressive face.

    "That is a lie, and you are most certainly well aware of such an immutable fact!" Nero declared with as much regality as she could muster while crouched on the ground like a gargantuan squirrel in unseemly expensive clothes. "Your friends the fox and her psycho-dragon cohort have been trying to get you to come to the beach with them for weeks but you are the one who turns them down, Osakabehime!

    "WE COULD JUST HANG OUT IN MY ROOM! IT'S EASIER AND HAS AIR CONDITIONING AND I WON'T HAVE TO CHANGE OUT OF MY FAVOURITE SWEATPANTS OR EXPOSE MY DELICATE SKIN TO THE UNFORGIVING ULTRAVIOLET RAYS OF THE SUN!"

    "I don't even know how you can bear to stay in one room all the time after that thing Merlin did."

    "Oh, I heard about that from Kiyochi," said the paper fox. "…those poor dinosaurs…"

    "
    Umu.
    Indeed.
    "

    They sat in silence for a moment.

    "Okay, I'm bored. I'm going back to playing League."

    "You never even stopped, did you?"

    "Of course not! Why would I do that just because I'm talking to someone?! It's like you think I'm a sociopath!"

    * * * * *

    Astolfo wasn't entirely sure how [s]he'd found
    Oh god, this has to stop!
    himself herself
    in Elizabeth's room. She was most certainly not hisher size. However, [s]he couldn't deny that it was very hard—nigh-impossible in fact—to avoid her for any extended period of time. There were, after all, only three certainties in life: Death, taxes, and encountering Erzsébet Báthory anywhere, no matter how unlikely she was to be in the vicinity.

    "So, pinky, what brings you to my lovely Castle (in-progress) Csejte mk. 2.0 this evening?"

    "Honestly? I'm looking for a dress. Or are you asking why I'm specifically in your room? Because I was hoping you could tell me that."

    [S]he looked around. Liz might have called her room a castle, but jeez, even if she had tried to pack her entire Halloween singularity into this dorm, there was a lot of stuff in here.

    "So, uh, not to be nosy, but where'd all this stuff come from?"

    Liz's expression soured.

    "Ugh, my stupid older incarnation moved in as part of her reformist policy."

    "You mean her decision to change her ways from being a deranged serial killer who revels in her own carnage?"

    "No, I mean her reformist policy!" she huffed.

    "But aren't we talking about the same thing?"

    "Yes, but it's a reformist policy!" Liz insisted, balling her fists at her sides.

    "But that would imply actual politics. And we don't really have a lot of politics here at Chaldea. It doesn't make sense to call it a policy."

    "Shut up you dummy!"

    Astolfo really had to wonder why the girl was being so stubborn about the subject. After all, it was Carmilla's problem not hers.

    Unless…

    "Oh, I get it, you came up with the name!" [s]he snapped h[er] fingers. The blush on Elizabeth's cheeks was more than answer enough.

    "It doesn't matter to me!" she stomped her foot, pouting like the child she was. "That cow is just doing it so that the puppy—I-I mean our Master—will let her leave the facility with the rest of the Servants who are getting leave! It's not like she's actually changing who she is!"

    A tiny dot of seafoam-blue caught Astolfo's attention, prompting her to stand up and look into the wastebasket by Liz's desk, both no less cluttered than the rest of the room, wherein [s]he found…

    "Are those Carmilla's claws?"

    "You mean her metal fake nails? Yeah, so?"

    This warranted actual thought.

    "Have you considered she actually might be trying to change for the better?"

    "Not for even a second."

    "Do you think you could try?"

    "I'd rather drown in a swimming pool of my own tears."

    The door opened and Robin Hood peered inside, before letting out an immense sigh of relief.

    "Uh… what's with you, Mr. Producer?"

    "Oh, thank god," he breathed, "for a moment there I thought I heard you arguing with yourself and was worried there might have been—"

    Click

    "…a… second… one of you… oh god, I forgot there are already five of her anyway."

    Click

    "Can you stop doing that?!" he shouted at Astolfo, who was holding a small, but obviously very loud handheld speaker.

    "Okay, okay, fine. Spoilsport."

    Robin Hood just rolled his eyes and left the room.

    That aside, this interruption had reminded himher that [s]he had actually asked Elizabeth a question a few minutes prior and hadn't gotten an answer.

    "Right, I just remembered. Liz, I meant to ask you, why am I here?"

    "Why are you here? Why are you coming to me for that? I mean… it's one of life's great questions, isn't it? You really have to find the answer for yourself."

    Astolfo stared at her quizzically for a moment before responding.

    "Oh, what? You're totally overthinking that! I just meant why am I in your room?"

    "How should I know?!" Liz roared. "I just got out of the bath, I left the bathroom wrapped in a towel, and there you were, sitting on Carmilla's throne with a glass of cranberry juice! And then you smashed it and shouted 'What is a man?! A miserable little pile of secrets!' for some reason that I can't even begin to imagine!" She pointed at a conspicuous red stain on the floor. It was one of many, but obviously this one was special. "You're paying to have that cleaned out!"

    Astolfo cocked her head to the side, then raised one finger.

    Liz waited.

    Astolfo opened her mouth as if to say something.

    Liz tapped her foot impatiently.

    Astolfo looked around the room, as though seeking a distraction.

    "GET ON WITH IT!" screamed Liz.

    Astolfo took a deep breath.

    "I have no memory of… any of that," [s]he said after an unseemly length of time.

    For a moment, Erzsčbet just frowned. Then she let her lance materialize in her hand and pointed it at Astolfo.

    "Get out of my castle right now, or I'll see you disembowelled! With God and Satan as my witnesses, I swear I will hang your intestines from the ceiling like party streamers if you don't get the hell away from me! NOW, LEAVE ME ALONE!"

    She spun around, catching the paladin on the broadside of her weapon and chucking him her out the door.

    "Never come back!" she added before slamming her door closed. As much as one could slam an electronically operated door controlled by a button.

    Robin Hood was standing there, as though he'd waited for the accidental hero.

    "I'm not really one to belittle others," he said, "but you were kind of asking for it."

    "Eh, you win some, you lose some," [s]he shrugged.

    Erzsčbet's door reopened suddenly.

    "Unless you receive a formal invitation!" she added petulantly before closing the door again.

    "I will! Byee~" Astolfo called through the door.

    "Look, I'm not actually her producer, but in the interest of avoiding unnecessary bloodshed, massacres, or–God forbid–concerts, please stop antagonizing her."

    Astolfo seemed confused.

    "How am I doing that?"

    Robin Hood didn't answer, choosing instead to merely shake his head and walk away. As a trapper, and a guerrilla fighter, he was a very patient man, exceeding most people's expectations by far. At least in the field. Here, however… in this place, with this [wo]man… he didn't have the patience to deal with this shit by a long shot.

    * * * * *

    "Mashu!" Astolfo called, knocking on Shielder's door.

    To his surprise, it was not Mashu Kyrielight that answered the door, but their Master.

    "Hi there, is something…" he trailed off, looking at Astolfo.

    Ritsuka hurried back over to Mashu, who was busy organizing her room, placing a variety of different objects collected from various singularities. Whispering something in her ear, she suddenly went wide eyed.

    "You're kidding, right?"

    Ritsuka shook his head.

    "I must see this for myself!"

    Mashu hurried to the door and looked at his shirt.

    "Oh my goodness, it's actually true. Did Merlin turn him into a girl while he was asleep, Senpai?"

    "I haven't asked."

    "It couldn't have been him, remember? You used a command seal."

    "Oh, that's right. Then how…" Ritsuka trailed off.

    "I am drawing a blank, Senpai," Mashu responded.

    Astolfo listened to a few more minutes of the Master and his first Servant going back and forth over possibilities in how he had turned into a girl that ultimately led nowhere.

    "So, Mashu," he said when there was finally a break in the conversation, "I was just wondering if I could borrow a bra and a dress. I don't know how long this is going to last, it I really want to make the most of it."

    Mashu and Ritsuka looked at one another, nodded and then asked him to wait for a minute or two before closing the door and backing into the room.

    "Is this a good idea?" Ritsuka asked.

    "I really don't know," Mashu answered. "My offhand answer would be 'probably not,' but at the same time, I can't think of a good reason not to let him borrow a cute outfit… not that I have many…" she looked away downcast, only for her Senpai to shake his hands frenetically.

    "Th-That's not true at all!" he stammered, "You look good in anything! Actually, I've seen you make… let's say 'unusual' clothes nicer just by wearing them."

    Mashu blushed and looked away.

    "Um, so, should we let him?"

    "I feel like it's a mistake, but I can't think of a reason to deny him this when he's so excited about it."

    "I would feel inconsiderate," she agreed.

    "I guess that's our answer, then."

    They went back to the door and invited the Paladin inside to browse through Mashu's closet.

    She only realized that there were a few things in there that she would rather he never find when he came upon her Dangerous Beast Halloween costume. His reaction was about as shocked as she expected of him.

    "I didn't realize you had the confidence to wear something like this," Astolfo gasped.

    "It took four beers before I was able to put it on, and I still felt less embarrassed naked," she cringed, blushing down past the collar of her shirt."

    "Uhh, did you at least, you know, have fun over the course of the night?" he asked, as tactfully as he could manage.

    Mashu's blush darkened further as she nodded.

    "Aww, congratulations, you've always looked adorable together!" he hugged them both. "By the way, you probably shouldn't wear it again though. It's kinda Shuten-y in how risqué it is."

    "You can have it if you want," Mashu squeaked.

    "Really?! Wait, no, I can't do it."

    Mashu actually looked kind of disappointed as she asked him what the problem was.

    "Well, I was just wondering if maybe it was too sexy."

    "How so? I mean, it's fetishy," the Master conceded, "but it's just a costume."

    "And it's not like you'd have to wear it every day," Mashu added.

    Astolfo shook his head with sudden urgency.

    "Sure, you think that now, but then you start getting used to it, and the next thing you know, you're having sex with the milkman!"

    "He's right, you know," said Nobunaga as she walked past the room, earning flabbergasted looks from Ritsuka and Mashu.

    It was pretty clear to everyone involved that Nobu hadn't heard a word of their conversation. Her statement was basically a verbal hit-and-run.

    "Did you notice that she was wearing a big button that said, 'I run with scissors' on it in all caps?" Astolfo asked delightedly. "Should we be worried?"

    Before anyone had a chance to answer, Okita Souji raced past them, hooked her arms under the Japanese warlord’s shoulders, and started dragging her back the way she came.

    “I’d say yes, but I think Okita’s worrying for us,” Mashu shrugged.

    “She’s really fast,” Ritsuka nodded with clear appreciation. It wasn’t just that it was cool, it had a lot to do with the undeniable fact that Okita had probably cleaned up a very big mess before it had even been made.

    “Unhand me! This is discrimination!” ranted Nobunaga, “I haven’t even done anything! With treatment like this, you’d think I was Merlin sneaking out of someone’s room!”

    “You might as well be, and for the record, ever since that day, I’ve been too afraid to open another box,” Okita huffed, doing a cursory frisk and coming away with a surprising amount of gunpowder in ziplock bags. “And this is contraband.”

    “CURSE YOU, SHINSENGUMI!”

    And as interesting as this sideshow was, Astolfo really had to get back to looking for a good dress. She had no idea how long this would last, after all.

    “I think that someone has to put a stop to this,” sighed a young boy with blond hair and piercing red eyes.

    “Oh, Shota-Gil, hi~! How are you?”

    “Not good. There’s been nothing but chaos all over the facility ever since you woke up, and while I’m sure it’s not by intent, it is entirely your fault for spreading it around…” he paused. “And don’t call me that.”

    Opening the Gate of Babylon, he pulled out a flask of multicolored fluid and tossed it at the Carolingian hero. Astolfo made a valiant attempt at evasion but tripped over an imaginary duck, resulting in the potion hitting him her square in the face. Almost instantly, her body was enveloped in a sparkling prismatic effect that Ritsuka and Mash were more accustomed to seeing when Illya transformed. When the light faded, it seemed as though nothing had happened. Kid Gil looked terribly satisfied with himself though, so…

    Ritsuka looked carefully at Astolfo and realized that there was a very good reason for things to have appeared unchanged. After all, Astolfo looked exactly like she did the night before. Put plainly, he was no longer female.

    Kid Gil let out a sigh. “It’s a relief to have that sorted out. Have a good day everyone.”

    Astolfo on his part, looked terribly dejected, with tears welling in his eyes, but only for a moment.
    GODDAMMIT!
    SHe
    bounced back with mind-boggling ease and skipping off to do something else.

    “Should we go after him?” asked Mashu, tapping a finger against her lower lip. “I can’t help but feel as though there are questions that have been left unanswered.”

    Ritsuka couldn’t deny that he had the same nagging sensation, but on the other hand, if they chose to pursue it, that could mean somehow turning Astolfo into a woman again, which would just make things too confusing to keep track of.

    “I think we should leave things as is.”

    “Smart move,” said Kid Gil.

    * * * * *

    Author's Note: As you may have surmised, the entire writing process was determined by his most prominent Skill: Evaporation of Reason. I let Astolfo take the reins almost completely, only putting a cap on things when they started to change the subject matter, derail the entire scene, or get potentially racist or political enough to get me banned six times over because I really did make a point of being poorly focused while writing this. Beyond that, I just let this whacked-out Paladin do whatever he pleased. Also, I rushed the ending, and that shows, too.

    Notable topics that were removed due to being wildly offensive included but were not limited to:

    Racism
    Sexism
    Extinction
    Asphyxiation
    Thunderstorms
    Shiny objects
    Tarantulas
    Involuntary autodefenestration
    Powerlessness
    Terrifying conspiracy theories involving Rasputin
    Kangaroos
    Non-consensual defenestration
    Having unprotected sex after being told not to
    Creating a fantastical Jeanne d'Arc who seeks revenge against those who burned her
    Too much barbecue sauce
    Serial defenestration
    Lethal spoilers
    The horrific moral ramifications of being a Zebra
    Grabbing men off the street, yanking them into your chariot, and allegedly having sex with them
    and
    Quitting Fate/Grand Order

    It is better to buy a luxurious raccoon than a poor quality mink.

    So, do I ever get tired of being random?

    I'll have to answer that question with a question of my own: Why is there a large man in a big, fancy blue hat hiding in your closet?

    (In all honesty, it's harder to control than you'd think, and it's freakin' exhausting. I'm gonna go lie down)
    Last edited by Draconic; August 5th, 2021 at 01:13 PM.

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