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Thread: Grail Works, Ltd: A Royal Mess (F/SN, P5R, E3E)

  1. #121
    Master of Hermione Alter Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xamusel View Post
    I hear that... and I sincerely hope it's not COVID. I've had it, as a matter of fact, so I know how bad it is.
    I don't think so - it's just A), a "Christmas tradition" that I wind up sick, and B), about time for my twice-a-decade "so sick I need to take time off," it seems.
    “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. #122
    Master of Hermione Alter Kieran's Avatar
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    As an update: the current chapter is about 60% complete (best I can do, sorry) - barring interference, I'm hoping to have it up by next week . . . Of course, "interference" includes the urge to play in the Trinity sandbox that's been nagging at me for the last week, so I don't know for sure - especially since it's been a bit of a holiday tradition to do stuff in Trinity, and I really don't have many holiday traditions left . . .
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




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

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




  3. #123
    Kamen Rider fan-writer Xamusel's Avatar
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    Play in the Trinity sandbox for this coming Christmas time, then, before you come back to this. We'll wait.
    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?

  4. #124
    Master of Hermione Alter Kieran's Avatar
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    Chapter 9 – (Varying Shades of) Quiet Desperation

    DISCLAIMER: Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Kinoko Nasu and the staff of TYPE-MOON. Persona 5 Royal, the Persona series and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Atlus. Exalted, Scion and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of White Wolf/Onyx Path Publishing.

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



    Writer's Note: Certain dialogue sequences in this story are lifted from Persona 5 Royal, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the game) to recognise them when they see them.













    Bar Crossroads
    Shinjuku, Tokyo
    March 8

















    Lala sighed. “Seriously, Ohya—wandering around without a jacket in this wind and damp . . .? You’re going give yourself pneumonia.

    “Not if I drink enough to kill all the germs in my body first!” the reporter retorted blithely. “. . .Besides, he came in without a jacket, Lala-chan,” she whined, pointing towards the bar. “Why aren’t you yelling at him, too?”

    She dropped her hand quickly as he spun around with a smile. “Welcome to Crossroads, Miss—what would you like?”

    As the low, near-rumble of his voice swept over her, Ohya took in his height, his muscles, and the tousled, windswept look . . .

    “I withdraw the question,” she murmured to Lala, even as she leaned forward. “I’ll have my usual, big boy”—she grinned—“and make it flashy.

    “Coming right up,” he said with a nod, turning back to snag a glass from under the counter—and twirling it over the back of his hand before slamming it on the bar, just in time to catch a ball of ice which had suddenly arced up from beneath the bar on the other side.

    It tinkled as it landed squarely in the centre of the glass.

    Without looking, he tossed the liquor bottle up, leaving it to twirl in mid-air as he picked up the glass, before it landed, neck-first in his open hand. A quick twist poured it into the glass, before another twirling toss sent it to land bottom-first into his waiting grip—and bottle and glass, in opposite hands, were set gently atop the bar.

    “Your drink, Miss,” he said smoothly.

    “I never get tired of the show,” Ohya giggled, picking up the glass to salute the bartender. “Cheers!”

    “It does bring in the customers,” Lala admitted. “Even if I still want to have a heart attack watching him juggle my glassware like that.”

    Turning back to the reporter, she continued acerbically, “And I didn’t hassle him about wearing a coat because he gave his to a poor girl stuck out there without one and ran less than a block to get here—whereas you, I’d bet, never bothered putting one on in the first place.”

    “You’re so mean, Lala-chan,” Ohya pouted. “And after I came all this way just for your hospitality . . .”

    The hostess arched an eyebrow and gave her a Look.

    “. . . OK, I came for the booze and the free show,” she admitted blithely. As the bartender continued setting things with speed and grace, setting muscles to flex and ripple under his white shirt with each flourish, Ohya added in an undertone, “And I’m not just talking about the ‘flair bartending’ stuff.”

    Don’t screw things up by sleeping with my new bartender, Ohya,” Lala sighed. “For starters, I haven’t finished breaking him in yet, and he is bringing in money with his novelty act. Besides that, I don’t think he could handle you—”

    “I think it might be fun finding out . . .” the reporter muttered, before shaking her head and continuing, “but that’s not what I mean.”

    Ohya leaned in closer. “Do you really buy his ‘lost tourist’ story, Lala? I mean, look at him—what’s a foreigner, and one who’s built like that, doing just wandering around Shinjuku? And if he’s really lost, or out of options, why not try to go for the American Embassy for help?”

    “He says he’s Canadian, actually,” Lala corrected. He’d been polite about it, but also clear.

    “Whatever,” Ohya snorted. “What I mean is, what’s he doing tending bar, instead of trying to get his life put back together, or just to get on with it?” She shook her head. “There’s a story to him—I can feel it.”

    “Maybe so,” Lala allowed. “Or maybe you’re just bored with doing stories in the entertainment section . . .?”

    “Yeah,” the reporter agreed sourly, scowling as the word left her mouth.

    There was certainly more than a little truth to that idea. And the fact that her boss kept piling on the assignments was keeping her from looking for Kaho, or into what had ultimately happened to her—and just who was responsible for it. It was getting irritating, for sure . . .

    Am I going looking for more trouble, just because I’m frustrated?

    Ohya admitted to herself, while she was still sober enough to consider it (a state she fully intended to fix PDQ), that maybe she was . . . But there was still something about the guy and his situation that wasn’t adding up, and it set all her internal alarms jangling

    “Maybe you should cut back on drinking so much,” Lala observed, “and focus more on getting laid, or something—it’ll be a lot better for your health.”

    “But Lala-chan!” Ohya protested with mock-scandal, “if I do that, what happens to your profit margin?”

    “The same thing that happens if you drop dead after drinking until you black out, all seven nights a week, for months on end,” the hostess fired back. “If I don’t know when to cut a customer off, I don’t deserve to be in business. You’re not there yet, but you’re pushing it.”

    Ohya pouted. “Mean.

    The two locked eyes in a battle of wills . . . And Ohya finally sighed. “All right, all right, I’ll try and cut back.”

    Lala nodded approvingly.

    A devilish idea occurred to the reporter, and a leading tone entered her voice as she pitched it to carry. “I suppose that means I’ll have to find something else to do . . . Like, say, your new bartender . . .?”

    A surprised exclamation caused both her and the hostess to look over, and see said bartender, half-stumbling and reaching out with far less than his usual grace—but no less speed—to snatch a bottle in mid-fall. Snagging it, he straightened up smoothly, and attempted to resume his work with an air of obvious nonchalance.

    The hostess and the reporter traded looks. Yeah, he wasn’t fooling anybody with that little show.

    A wicked smirk crossed Ohya’s lips at her success in unsettling at least one of her targets. The other seemed unruffled, still, so she twisted the knife a little deeper by asking, “Whaddya think, Lala-chan . . .?

    “I think you’re either too drunk to think clearly, or not drunk enough to forget this little plan,” she replied drily. “I can’t decide which, so I’m going to warn you while you’re possibly still sober enough to remember it to keep your hands off my help—I’m still breaking him in.”

    By the look on her face, the hostess meant it.

    Lala sighed. “And having said that, I’m going to pour you another drink—because I think you forgetting the whole idea is just the best thing for all involved.”

    Ohya grinned. Free booze!

    “Thanks Lala-chan—you’re the best . . .!
















    Borrowed Apartment
    Shinjuku, Tokyo
    March 11

















    Not for the first time, Frid blessed the fact that he could still read—especially given that Japanese wasn’t his native language in any sense—and that he’d somehow retained his capacity to locate a bookstore anywhere within a three-block radius. He further thanked Luna that the Hinokuniya Bookstore was both close to Crossroads and stocked with useful things. Newspapers, as he’d hoped before, yes—but also maps, and books on any number of subjects . . .

    The ABCs of Crafting was, admittedly, more about refining techniques than gaining them. When combined with How to Karakuri, however, it gave him a pretty good idea of the nuts and bolts (ha!) of how to build mechanical devices—like the kind of lock that would require a pick, making reverse-engineering a lockpick easier. More complicated devices, too, like a smoke bomb’s casing; the chemical element of it, he thought he’d worked out from Flowerpedia, of all things. Certainly, it made realising what the Plant Balms and Cork Bark the flower shop sold could be used for much easier.

    Granted, acquiring neither books nor materials was cheap, so it was slow going; even hunting Shadows and items in the Metaverse wasn’t exactly extravagantly complementing his bank account—even if it was refining his combat skills. Still, Frid kept plugging away at it, aiming to at least be able to look competent when Joker arrived in town. That this kept him up late reading, or working, and running on minimal food—also letting him train his Resistance at the same time, which was a nice bonus—was immaterial. The work needed doing.

    . . . And besides, it’s not like I have anything else taking up my time.

    Having to trot out his “be social” persona in order to serve customers was exhausting, but it was part of trying to sell them booze, as was listening. The reverse, however, could not be said to be true. In terms of people to talk to, he had Lala-san, but while the hostess was amiable enough, Lala was also his employer; there were clear boundaries. Really, the closest he’d gotten to socialising since he got here was conversing with Chihaya—and in the final analysis, even that was a case of her trying to sell him something . . .

    (She had returned his coat, along with his paid-for “Holy Stone”; they both knew it was garbage, though he knew that Chihaya was trying to convince herself otherwise—but there was unlikely to be much he could do about it. That was part and parcel of Joker’s interactions with her, and he’d already decided it was better to err on the side of caution when it came to rocking the boat there.)

    Still if all it came down to a lack of human conversation, Frid probably could’ve coped—but this apartment, as grateful as he was for it, was awfully quiet at night.

    At this rate, I’m going to make friends with the Phantom Thieves just because I miss human companionship, missions and contracts be damned.

    And that was dangerous. Frid needed to be their mentor, their ally—all right, their friend—but they were teenagers, and he wasn’t. He was younger now than he’d been, yes, but not that young. And given his sentimental attachments to certain characters . . .

    No, it was a bad idea all around. Which left him the trouble of working at building his own social circle—which he’d never been good at in the first place—in a foreign country, when he had no real legal status, and likely wouldn’t be present for longer than the year. After all, surely, he would find a way to contact the Works—and/or vice versa—by then, right?

    Right . . .?

    (The silence, even from the normally snarky and impossible-to-shut-up voice in the back of Frid’s head, was telling.)

    Sighing, the Exalt put his experiments away, even as part of him noted that he really needed to see if he could source mechanical parts somewhere for the bomb’s trigger mechanism (and bits for lockpicks wouldn’t hurt, either). How to Karakuri suggested Akihabara, but from his maps that would be an all-day expedition, and thus, best left until Sunday, when he had the full day off. Once everything was cleaned up—or at least, set such that he wouldn’t trip over it—he pulled out the tour guides and started looking for ideas. He speed-flipped through pages, stopping on one at random.

    “Penguin Sniper”—billiards and darts . . . There’s a temple there? Might be fun just to look at the place, but that doesn’t scream “socialising,” does it . . .? “Jazz Jin” . . . Huh.

    Frid always had liked jazz music. As long as the volume was kept to a low level, he’d probably enjoy it. Whether or not there’d be people there to talk to . . . Well, there was no evidence one way or the other—but this looked like a bar, so probably.

    (And there was no harm in finding a bar to drink in that wasn’t his workplace, either.)

    He glanced at the location of the place—“Kichijoji.” Not a name he recognised, much less found familiar, but going by the subway map . . . OK, again, it was liable to be a long trip—and that was definitely a “con” on the “pros and cons” list. Then again, he had no real idea of the speed of the trains around here, and his own experiences with subways said that a “long” trip wasn’t really all that long, either . . . Besides, he’d need to get used to travelling that way, working with Joker and the Phantom Thieves—not every trip could be undertaken by jumping into the Metaverse and using Stormwind Rider.

    . . . All right, Frid resolved. Tomorrow, we’ll take a trip and check the place out—hopefully, it’ll be fun.

















    Kichijoji, Tokyo
    March 14, 2004

















    Kasumi walked down the street warily these days.

    . . . At least, she did whenever she was in this neighbourhood—which, given her gymnastics practices, was several days a week, which had quickly turned a nervous habit into a compulsive one. She found herself hyperaware of both her sister and her surroundings (the traffic), until they’d reached the subway station (and safety).

    All right,
    Kasumi admitted to herself, maybe Mom and Dad had a point when they were saying that I might not be as well-adjusted as it looked about the whole traffic accident . . .

    It infuriated her, because she should be able to deal with this herself. Nothing upset her more than seeing people refusing to be self-reliant enough to handle their own problems—because it was too easy to become dependent on other people, rather than developing the strength and abilities to solve their issues.

    (Sumire was an exception to that, of course—after all, she was the elder sister; she was supposed to look after Sumire!)

    It was part of why she’d resisted her parents’ offers to see Doctor Maruki, and thus far, Sumire had been alone in her visits to him—the other part being their scholarships. While Sumire wasn’t precisely getting a free ride to Shujin Academy, their previous interviews had made it clear that Kasumi was the one that the school placed high expectations on. She knew that she could meet them, and she believed that Sumire could exceed their expectations for her—but in the event that both girls underwent counselling for mental health issues?

    Well, if that was the case, it was quite likely those scholarships would evaporate—it would reflect badly upon the school, after all, to have mentally disturbed students. One could be regarded as showing charity towards the “less fortunate,” perhaps, but two was the beginning of a disturbing trend . . .

    No, it was far better that Kasumi learn to deal with this herself, without outside help. And her own beliefs insisted that she be able to do that, anyway, so it wasn’t like she’d have expected any less of herself if her high school education—and Sumire’s—had nothing to do with it.

    Now if only I could stop flinching when an engine runs too loud . . . But I’ll get used to it eventually, right?

    Right—I’ll just
    have to get used to it.

    Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Sumire’s form withdraw from sight; she’d slowed down, or stopped entirely, for some reason. Concerned, Kasumi turned in place to face her sister.

    “Sumire? What is it? Are you O—?”

    As her eyes swept over the surroundings in mid-turn, on their way to locking on to Sumire, the question froze in her throat.

    “—can’t be . . .”

    The blood drained from her face.

    HEY!” Kasumi called out. “HEY, YOU! BIG GUY!”

    He was either deaf as a post or didn’t speak Japanese—

    (Or he was a ghost, or a figment of her imagination)

    But still, she knew that face, those eyes. She’d gotten a very good, if brief look at them, when she was sent tumbling through the air—

    (Her back twinged in remembered pain)

    —before the crunch of the truck’s impacting things (the blood) had blocked her vision.

    Kasumi was already in motion by the time she’d made a conscious decision to move, only vaguely aware of Sumire’s cries of confusion, and calls for her to stop—and completely blind to the irony of it all. Even if she had realised their role reversal, it wouldn’t have mattered; she had to see him, she had to know that she had seen him . . .

    (That she wasn’t going crazy.)

    That a total stranger hadn’t died saving her life.

    It was hard to say which pounding was louder in her ears: her footsteps on the pavement, or the thundering of her heart. Her after-practice exhaustion had fled with the adrenaline surge in her veins, but her sore limbs and muscles were not as eager to resume hard use after what she’d already put herself through. Still, they gamely attempted to respond to her desires as she heedlessly powered through, almost to the corner he’d vanished around . . . And when she got there—

    Nothing.

    Kasumi stared in disbelief, her eyes searching this way and that along the street, to no result. A blue-eyed, pale-skinned man who stood head and shoulders above anyone else on the street had seemingly disappeared into thin air.

    (Assuming that he was ever really there to begin with . . .)

    SIS!” Sumire’s cry, half-wheezed out of her panting lungs, seemed even louder as it came from behind her, almost but not quite drowning out the flutter of feathered wings as some bird passed above their heads. Kasumi turned again, to see her younger sister stop and lean against a wall, panting.

    “You scared the life out of me!” Sumire snapped, and Kasumi blinked. Then she blushed in embarrassment, as she realised how truly upset her twin had to get in order to scold her like this.

    “What did you think you were doing . . .?!” Sumire demanded, and for a moment, Kasumi marvelled at the change in her little sister, as she forgot or set aside her perceived weaknesses, and just let the passion that Kasumi had always known she had drive her on. Then her actual question registered, and the elder twin glanced at the ground.

    “I thought I saw—that guy . . .” she admitted.

    Sumire looked at her, before her eyes sank towards the ground as she admitted in a despondent tone, “. . . I didn’t see anybody like that, Nee-san. Sorry.”

    Kasumi bit her lip. Maybe I really am cracking up . . .

    For Sumire’s part, she merely noted how desperate her sister looked, and guiltily reminded herself that it was all her fault.

    Neither girl noticed a shadow flitting over their heads as each stewed in their own thoughts. Their lapse in awareness was understandable—after all, the source of the silhouette travelled in utter silence; moreover, it would have done so even without the ambient noise of Kichijoji to cover its passage. Nor would either girl have attached any significance to a bird flying overhead, even if they had spotted it . . .

    But had the aforementioned bird, as it looked down, paid more attention to the people in the area rather than the signage on the surrounding buildings, perhaps a great many future problems could’ve been avoided . . .
















    Jazz Jin
    Kichijoji, Tokyo
    One hour later















    The “Jazz Jin,” as it turned out, was a basement club with red brick walls adorned with posters, and a haphazard arrangement of wooden chairs and tables. Some of them were on the same level as the entrance and, others were in the “orchestra pit”—a wide depression three steps down, surrounding a small stage and an accompanying dais with a piano on it.

    There was a cover charge of 3 000 yen as Frid entered (meaning this would be a very rare treat if he made a habit of it, at that price), taken by a deep-voiced man at the bar who was dressed somewhere between a 1920s American gangster and a beatnik. Being fairly certain the bartender was Japanese, it was an odd look: black fedora and suit, Van Dyke beard and sunglasses (the last being even weirder as it was indoors and dimly lit to begin with), but it fit with the atmosphere, the Exalt supposed.

    The overall impression of the place, to Frid’s mind, was “roadhouse”—or maybe “coffee house, circa 1960s America”—but it fit his own sensibilities when he thought “bar” or “club.” Depending on the quality of the drinks (and the volume of the music), he actually could see himself making a habit of coming here—

    The dim lights of the place suddenly seemed to darken further, but it was an illusion; the stage lights, it seemed, had been turned up, instead. A quick glance at the piano saw that the seat before the keyboard was occupied, but the shadows were such that Frid couldn’t get much more than “male” out of the silhouette . . .

    And as a woman who bore more than a little resemblance to Disney’s Maleficent stepped out on stage, he had to wonder if that was by design.

    She was a tall, pale woman, at a glance, with angular features. Her eyes were deep-set, judging by the thick layers of eyeshadow surrounding them—though it might have been a feature of her makeup. Certainly, the way her hair was slicked back and pulled away from her face into two trailing “horns” made her forehead look quite large; the white streaks bisecting both masses of her, a la the Bride of Frankenstein, gave her dark tresses an even more striking look than their shape. And her garb was no less bizarre, seeming to combine the puffy shoulders and grim hue of a mourning dress with the slinky, leg-revealing split of a cocktail dress . . .

    As an attention-grabbing gimmick, Frid could hardly fault her—she looked like a lounge singer in a Tim Burton film. But she was definitely very different from the overall tone of the bar, and he had an uneasy feeling that either her repertoire wouldn’t mesh well with the place’s aesthetics at all, or that he had badly misread what the “Jazz Jin” was meant to be . . .

    Then the spotlight illuminating her turned blue, abruptly, and the pianist began to play a familiar tune—which the singer accompanied with an equally familiar refrain . . .

    What the
    HELL . . .?!

    Baffled, Frid looked around—and noted that everyone else was either held rapt by the act, or outright frozen. He was tempted to try knocking over the table, just to see if it would fall, but held himself ready, instead. Normally, he would trust the Velvet Room and its inhabitants—which this had to be connected to, even if he wasn’t sure how—but with circumstances as they were, there was every possibility this was a trap.

    (Though again, the how of it all, and why this way, made no sense given what he knew—the Enemy was anything but subtle, more or less by nature . . .)

    “Hmm,” said a woman’s voice, “So you’re the one . . .”

    Stepping into view was a woman who shone like moonlight; not simply the effect of the room’s blue light on her white hair and skin—though that was certainly part of it—but an inner radiance that sprang from her innate beauty. Upon seeing her, for the first time Frid actually experienced the old saying of having his breath taken away.

    The reaction surprised him, honestly. In his brief time with the Works, Frid had encountered attractive women of almost literally all kinds. His experiences ranged from the “girl next door” beauty of Sakura and the twins, to the high-class elegance of Akiha Tohno (and Rin, to some extent), the outright supernatural loveliness of Arturia and Arcueid, and the literally divine beauty of Medousa. . . By all rights, Frid would have thought himself well and truly inured to such things.

    Nevertheless, it was with no small amount of surprise that he could say with confidence this woman outshone them all.

    Even the expression on her face—an openly contemptuous frown—couldn’t mar her attractiveness completely. Rather, it highlighted how lovely her face could be, like clouds partially occluding the Moon.

    Swallowing in an attempt to moisten his suddenly dry throat, the Exalt took a deep breath before even trying to speak.

    “Would you care to sit down, Miss?”

    Smooth, sneered his inner voice. You managed a complete and coherent sentence! First time that’s happened . . .

    Her frown intensified. “I would care to meet a far better specimen, in a much more opulent setting—but I suppose I have little choice.”

    Rising from his seat, he pulled out the opposite chair for her; some instinct told him that manners would be appreciated—or at the very least, the absence of them would not. Once she was seated, he resumed his original place.

    Looking at her close up, it was possible she was even lovelier, with wide, liquid eyes—albeit ones that were presently narrowed in disdain. Still, they seemed deep and dark enough to drown in . . .

    Wait, that corner of Frid’s mind remarked, she has dark eyes? Attendants of the Velvet Room have gold eyes, which would show up as pale in this lighting . . .

    The Exalt found himself experiencing a second shot of adrenaline since her appearance, albeit for entirely different reasons than the first. Still, it cleared his head and restored some of his natural caution.

    (Some might call it paranoia, but in this situation, was it really . . .?)

    “So,” Frid said leadingly, “What can I do for you, Milady?”

    “. . . I suppose that fulfilling your end of the contract immediately is too much to ask for,” she allowed dismissively, after a moment’s thought. “But doing so as quickly as possible is all I care about.”

    “And what, may I ask, is your interest in all this?” he asked carefully.

    The woman stared at him with the kind of expression reserved for someone who’d spotted a particularly loathsome insect.

    “You hold a contract that outlines responsibilities which, at present, its signatory is unable to fulfill,” she said in an annoyed tone. “As such, executing those tasks has been defaulted to me—and just to make it clear to your mortal brain, I am not pleased to be ordered to grant you my divine favour.” Her scowl deepened, and she glanced away. “Unfortunately, I’m not presently in a position to protest . . .”

    [Scent of Midnight Dweomers]

    Her eyes snapped up to him again, narrowed to angry slits.

    “I’m not certain whether to be more insulted by your impertinence, or your arrogance in thinking that you could penetrate my concealment where the Enemy has failed,” she snapped. “Try that again, and you won’t live to regret it, boy—contract or no contract.”

    “I apologise for the insult,” Frid said politely. His Charm’s failure did even more to imply a power disparity than her attitude—and pissing off whatever she might be, as tempting as his own temper might find it, was undoubtedly a bad idea.

    However,” he said firmly, “I will not apologise for being cautious, given that you’re speaking obliquely, and have yet to so much as introduce yourself.”

    Did we not just decide, his inner voice demanded, that pissing her off was a BAD idea? What the fuck are you DOING, you idiot . . .?!

    The woman did not smile so much as she showed teeth; they were as perfectly white as the rest of her.

    “I have many names,” she said. “Most of which would attract the attention of the Enemy, among other things, if uttered aloud—and few I would care to hear pass your lips, in any case. As I am to instruct you in how to use the magic your contract grants you, I suppose ‘Teacher’ or ‘Mistress’ would be appropriate; however, such common titles bore me. If I am to go about with my true glory unappreciated, then I suppose that ‘Filia’ will simply have to do . . .”










    Writer's Notes: Almost a month later than I planned - and after the better part of twelve hours trying to write three pages - here we are at last. My sincerest apologies, and Merry Christmas.
    Last edited by Kieran; December 25th, 2022 at 04:27 PM.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




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

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




  5. #125
    死徒(下級)Lesser Dead Apostle
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    Well worth the wait, what a lovely present

    Ohya's on the prowl, in more ways than one. Lala's use of "breaking him in" also definitely has... connotations.

    Godafrid's concern about isolation makes sense in a foreign country, and I like it being highlighted. His worry about the rest of the Phantom Thieves seem like a mix between needing a certain level of professional detachment in the mentoring role, but also shades of Galen angst about getting too attached/clingy. I'm sort of hoping he develops a good relationship with Sojiro.

    Kasumi/Sumire are exciting to see, and I definitely feel that
    perhaps a great many future problems could’ve been avoided...
    Ominous. Keeps things on-track in some ways (similar survivor's guilt), but man it would be easier for her if she had caught up to Godafrid.
    Minor typo
    [I]“—can’t[/O] be . . .”

    Now what in the heck did we just run into in the Jazz Jin? Huh. The over-the-top beauty description strongly implies Margaret, Elizabeth, or some relative, though you mention the eye color doesn't track, and I'm not sure about speech pattern either. Most attendants have that sort of arrogance, but usually it's tempered by devotion to their duty resulting in some amount of patience/leniency. This person is very impatient, though that could be related to Godafrid playing a different role from the Wild Card. The eye color can be explained perhaps as disguise, but... mysterious.
    Filia isn't a name or alias of any attendant I know, though Philemon is quite well known, and fits apart from appearance. Does have brown eyes though.

  6. #126
    Kamen Rider fan-writer Xamusel's Avatar
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    I'm curious about the woman, too, Kieran. Who is she?
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    Master of Hermione Alter Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    Well worth the wait, what a lovely present
    Thank you - I'll try to have the Trinity snippet (and the next chapter) up in a more timely fashion.


    Ohya's on the prowl, in more ways than one.
    Going by her scenes, she is the type . . .


    Lala's use of "breaking him in" also definitely has... connotations.
    True - though in this case, it has more to do with training him.


    Godafrid's concern about isolation makes sense in a foreign country, and I like it being highlighted.
    Thank you. It's somewhat more obvious when he's not drawing on a supernaturally-wise persona, or associated with people he knows of and likes (to say nothing of idolises) on a regular basis, I thought.


    His worry about the rest of the Phantom Thieves seem like a mix between needing a certain level of professional detachment in the mentoring role, but also shades of Galen angst about getting too attached/clingy.
    Which is 100% accurate.


    I'm sort of hoping he develops a good relationship with Sojiro.
    It'll be an interesting day when they interact, I'm sure . . .


    Kasumi/Sumire are exciting to see, and I definitely feel that

    . . .

    Ominous. Keeps things on-track in some ways (similar survivor's guilt), but man it would be easier for her if she had caught up to Godafrid.
    Well, Sumire couldn't fall down the rabbit hole a la canon with Kasumi to keep her on track (presumably) - certainly, she'd have noticed things that would've made the storyline quite different, eh? But apparently she's not firing on all cylinders, either; what that might lead to . . . Well, we'll see.

    Minor typo
    Typo here
    Thank you - fixed.


    Now what in the heck did we just run into in the Jazz Jin? Huh. The over-the-top beauty description strongly implies Margaret, Elizabeth, or some relative, though you mention the eye color doesn't track, and I'm not sure about speech pattern either. Most attendants have that sort of arrogance, but usually it's tempered by devotion to their duty resulting in some amount of patience/leniency. This person is very impatient, though that could be related to Godafrid playing a different role from the Wild Card. The eye color can be explained perhaps as disguise, but... mysterious.

    Filia isn't a name or alias of any attendant I know, though Philemon is quite well known, and fits apart from appearance. Does have brown eyes though.
    Quote Originally Posted by Xamusel View Post
    I'm curious about the woman, too, Kieran. Who is she?
    . . . Really! You've no idea who she is . . .?

    *Chuckles* I have to admit, I am surprised (and very amused) at you both - and after she deigned to introduce herself . . .!
    Last edited by Kieran; December 25th, 2022 at 04:49 PM.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

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    "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."

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  8. #128
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    (/)_-) I can't believe I didn't put two and two together. I'm an idiot!! DX
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran View Post

    . . . Really! You've no idea who she is . . .?

    *Chuckles* I have to admit, I am surprised (and very amused) at you both - and after she deigned to introduce herself . . .!
    I can see I was off in the wrong context entirely, and really need to read Strange/Fake. That definitely explains how over-the-top that appearance description was, and the attitude certainly fits. Yikes. I presume Queen of Cups, given her imperious nature. Amusingly, she's also the Ultimate Persona of the Lovers Arcana, but if we get too far into the overlap there, we'll have Cu running around in no time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    I can see I was off in the wrong context entirely, and really need to read Strange/Fake. That definitely explains how over-the-top that appearance description was, and the attitude certainly fits.

    Well, I figured if she could conceal her nature well enough that no one realises it in canon, then hiding from, say, the Enemy and the Counter Force wasn't too big a stretch - and given that the Velvet Room/Persona users technically command beings like her anyways . . .


    Yikes. I presume Queen of Cups, given her imperious nature.
    It's the obvious one, yes. I'm looking to see if Wands or Swords are more appropriate - elements of her can apply to any of the suits.


    Amusingly, she's also the Ultimate Persona of the Lovers Arcana, but if we get too far into the overlap there, we'll have Cu running around in no time.
    Oh, it goes well beyond that, actually - the "Ultimate" Personas of the original game (Royal adds a third tier) include Anat (Makoto) and Astarte (Haru) as well - which are all acknowledged as being alternate identities of hers . . . So she absolutely has a stake in this fight, even if only by proxy.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

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    "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."

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    So... how long do you think it will take for us to get the next chapter of this?
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    Apologies - I did not see this last night. In answer? The holidays, my latest COVID booster, and a bit of writer's block have slowed me down a bit - hopefully, next week.

    . . . If I can get all these bloody Trinity impulses to leave me alone, anyway.
    “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




  13. #133
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    I feel you, man, I really feel you.
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  14. #134
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    So, after running across this, I am tempted to alter some of my plans - because incorporating Extrin into things would be ridiculously complicated, but it's too good not to be tempting . . .



    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




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

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




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    That would involve Extra-verse Rin? Why not the regular Rin?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xamusel View Post
    That would involve Extra-verse Rin? Why not the regular Rin?
    Well, if nothing else, it would SEVERELY screw with the Works' timeline if I did . . .
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

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

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




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    True, I get that, Kieran. So... I hope that was inspiration enough to work on this story again.
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    "Ridiculously complicated" seems accurate. I can imagine a few ways the Moon Cell might interact with Persona 5, but that seems like it invites BB interference, and at that point things get messy.
    Oh no, now I'm imagining Kiara true ending.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xamusel View Post
    True, I get that, Kieran. So... I hope that was inspiration enough to work on this story again.
    Possibly - but even if so, it'll be a couple of weeks before anything's finished.



    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    "Ridiculously complicated" seems accurate.
    To put it mildly . . .


    I can imagine a few ways the Moon Cell might interact with Persona 5, but that seems like it invites BB interference, and at that point things get messy.
    Wholeheartedly agreed - and yet it occurs to me now that, if I get as far as Persona 5 Strikers in the story, it might be appropriate . . .?


    Oh no, now I'm imagining Kiara true ending.
    There's a mental image I didn't need first thing in the morning.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




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

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




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    Apocrypha (probably): A different kind of Persona

    Spaceport of Greed
    Kunikazu Okumura’s Palace
    September 15, 2004









    The Phantom Thieves weren’t entirely sure what to expect upon activating the MetaNav; the keywords leading to an individual Palace were always relevant, but not always obviously so. Futaba’s “tomb” hadn’t indicated the Egyptian motif it had ultimately manifested, for example, and the “bank” used by Kaneshiro had ultimately been an airship, which was not nearly as straightforward as Madarame’s museum or Kamoshida’s castle.

    As such, the fact that Okumura’s location keyword had been “outer space” filled them with no small amount of trepidation . . .

    Much to their relief, they didn’t appear in outer space proper—rather, they seemed to be in a sort of futuristic-looking airport terminal. A rotating holographic sign took up the centre of the room, advertising Big Bang Burger. It was supported by a series of columns—which were themselves surrounded by archways—that buoyed up a central cylinder, with a sort of glass observatory dome, like those associated with designs for underwater cities, forming the perimeter.

    . . . The fact that they appeared in full Phantom Thief garb, however, did nothing to alleviate their unease.

    “We’re already considered threats?” Ann—no, Panther—exclaimed.

    Queen turned from her contemplation of their surroundings to address Ann’s remark, her tone grim. “President Okumura must already be on guard, what with everything that’s been in the news.”

    Even beneath his mask, Skull’s scowl was obvious. “That bastard—he’s just causin’ more trouble for us!”

    Joker was about to say something, when Oracle dashed forward to stare at the view from the dome. To the Thieves’ surprise, showed the Earth as a distant object in the “sky”—he guessed this Palace, then, was meant to be some sort of moon base.

    Oracle might’ve been able to clarify it for them, but she was too obviously entranced by the view, only uttering a breathless “Whoa.

    Yusuke seemed similarly mesmerised. “This view—it’s like we’re in a film . . . I wish I’d brought my sketchbook.”

    Once again, Joker opened his mouth to say something—and once again, he found himself interrupted.

    “Tsk, tsk,” chided a voice that both was and wasn’t familiar. “Shame on you all, letting your guard down in what you know is a dangerous area—”

    Joker wasn’t the only Phantom Thief to turn (though he thought he made it seem more natural than startled, at least), and then find himself abruptly looking down, as the speaker was barely more than half his height. That wasn’t the most astounding thing, however—in addition to being short, the speaker was also apparently some form of bipedal bird, dressed in a green shirt and red cape, of all things, while wearing what looked like a salad colander on his head, with some kind of springy cat toy atop it.

    “But worry not, my young friends,” the bird said grandiosely. “For no matter how wary our enemy, he shall soon find himself outmatched by the superior strategic brilliance and two-fisted derring-do of—”

    The bird leaped and somehow hung in mid-air finger pointed skyward with a dazzling light haloing him as he exclaimed in full voice “DUCK DODGERS, IN THE 24 ½TH CENTURY!

    Silence greeted this pronouncement as the bird landed back on the ground.

    “. . .OK, what the”—Skull caught the glare that Queen suddenly flashed him, and paled as he scrambled for a different word—“ah, heck?!” He glanced at Joker. “You got any ideas, man?”

    “. . .” Joker contemplated his response, before finally deciding on, “I’ve got nothing.”

    The caped bird performed the first face-fault that any of them had ever seen outside of an anime, before almost immediately springing back up in outrage.

    “Oh, come on—Duck Dodgers in the 24 ½th Century?!” At the continued confused silence, he tried indignantly, “Uh, Daffy Duck, star of film, television, comic books and video games . . .?”

    Faced with persisting blank looks, he added in a small, pained voice, “For almost as long as all of you put together have been alive . . .?

    If possible, the silence got even more profound.

    The duck scowled—an impressive feat, considering his beak and overall lack of human facial features. Nevertheless, its beady eyes put out a positively scathing glare that had Oracle moving to hide behind Joker. Even Queen looked at least momentarily cowed.

    “All right, all right, have it your way!” he growled, before muttering balefully to himself, “Kids these days—no respect for the classics. Sheesh . . .”

    The duck’s form warped abruptly, expanding and twisting with such suddenness that they all took a step back, tensing for the expected fight as the Shadow assumed its true form . . .

    And suddenly, Nemo smirked at them from where it had been standing, his voice amused as he drawled lazily, “Howdy, kids—miss me?”










    Writer's Notes: I recently acquired The Complete Series on Blu-Ray, obviously - though yes, I used the uniform design from the original 1953 short - as I said, respect for the classics.
    Last edited by Kieran; April 14th, 2023 at 09:21 PM.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




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

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




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