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

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    後継者 Successor RanmaBushiko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xamusel View Post
    That makes sense, RB. Thanks for the heads up, man.

    Yeah, I need to read your story in full, I get that... gimme a couple days to do so?
    No worries, not trying to pressure. Just giving you ideas on what to do while waiting. I'm curious too, after all. He's not sharing everything with me, except what parts he wants to make sure reads well, now.
    I'm starting to suspect that talking with Kieran influences my rolls on Fate/Grand Order Heavily. How else can you explain me talking with him, then rolling for 30, only to get 3 Archer of Shinjuku on my second ten roll?

    I write like Douglas Adams. Proof: http://iwl.me/s/696f37bd

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    Kamen Rider fan-writer Xamusel's Avatar
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    That makes sense to me. Thanks for clearing that up for me.
    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?

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    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Chapter 7 – Two (Too-)Early Mornings

    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.








    Shinjuku, Tokyo
    March 3

















    Banking hours in Japan, according to the sign on the door, ran from 9 AM to 3 PM—that struck Frid as annoyingly short, but it also meant that by the time he found one, it was open. If he’d not stopped for breakfast, instead going to look for one immediately upon getting up, it would’ve been closed; score one for listening to his stomach for once, he supposed. Being hungry and forced to wait would not have improved his mood . . .

    Straight currency exchange (meaning American dollars to Japanese yen) was straightforward; sadly, he had no way to exchange the silver coins in his possession (the currency of Exalted, and apparently reality’s way of translating “Resources 1”) to anything usable. They were pure silver but lacked any of the typical stamps that denoted a legal currency; trying to do anything with them in a bank was liable to get him arrested. And while Frid absolutely could break out of a jail cell, or evade arrest with his shapeshifting abilities, it would be so detrimental to his mission to have to that it was better to avoid that possibility altogether.

    Didn’t Ryuji say he sold Kamoshida’s Treasure at a pawn shop? If the place was willing to buy an Olympic gold medal (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) from a teenager without authenticity or ownership paperwork, maybe I can get rid of it there . . .

    It was worth a try, Frid thought. Fifteen ounces of pure silver, whatever the actual price of the metal, would undoubtedly amount to a fair chunk of change; too useful to ignore, at least. And if he could find a numismatist to sell them to, or maybe a museum, he might get more than just the material value for them—again, not a possibility to ignore. The Exalt really didn’t have a good handle on the cost of living in Shinjuku, or Tokyo at large, or any idea what Lala might actually pay him. Raiding Mementos for extra cash was definitely an option, but the more he could supplement his reserves, the better.

    After all, he mused, subway rides aren’t terribly expensive—up to 600 yen per round trip, depending on the distance—but it will add up, even if I shell out 800 for a day pass . . . Not to mention everything else I’ll need to buy, either on a one-time or semi-regular basis.

    Wandering around had allowed him to locate Crossroads, by way of tracing his route of the night before from memory, as well as the flower and book shops of the game’s canon. These were important, both as locations of Joker’s other potential part-time jobs, as well as important meetup spots for certain Confidants—not to mention, in the case of the bookshop, a potential research repository for the Exalt himself . . . If nothing else, the place sold newspapers; and without regular Internet access, he’d need some way to keep up on the daily news that didn’t really on being home at prime time to catch the TV broadcasts.

    After all, Frid reasoned, it’s unlikely that Joker’s trial will make the news for this area, and the “mental shutdowns” aren’t covered enough in-game to really be predictable—but Akechi’s movements, as a celebrity figure? Those will make the news, and just because I can’t kill him (immediately), it doesn’t mean I can’t screw with the little bastard . . .

    There was also a “general store” that also marketed itself as a “furniture store”—or maybe it was the other way around. Whatever it was supposed to be, the place sold trinkets like pens and hand mirrors, and called itself Mran Mran, which was a nonsense phrase no matter how he looked at it, so what should he have expected . . .?

    Those, along with several vending machines, comprised the player-accessible shops and places of interest in Shinjuku. By going off the proverbial beaten path, however (for example, the immediate area of his borrowed lodgings), Frid found other points of interest. Most immediately important was a convenience store: this allowed him to stock up on food. Mostly junk food, true, but there were some staples, as well, including COFFEE . . .!

    Really lousy
    coffee, it had to be admitted—he nearly spat it out rather than swallow. But then again, if anything was likely to make him fully break the habit . . . So maybe it was a good thing?

    (His tastebuds absolutely disagreed.)

    More critically, they stocked basic toiletries. As such, a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant and an umbrella were among his first pickups. Also, a wristwatch—he needed to be able to tell time.

    (Honestly, it felt weird on his wrist—he'd had to give up wearing watches when he started wearing carpal tunnel braces . . . Hopefully, it wouldn’t take him long to get back into the habit.)

    They also carried laundry soap, Frid discovered, but seeing as he didn’t actually have clothes to wash aside from what he was presently wearing, it wasn’t currently relevant; still, it was good to know, nevertheless. Then again, where to wash them was another matter—he recalled Joker having to use a laundromat, but whether or not he needed to, or if there was a communal laundry in the building he was staying at, he didn’t know.

    And where the hell am I going to find anything sized for me, anyways . . .?

    Drawing on decades-old cultural trivia about Japan, he resolved to have a closer look at the vending machines on his way back. Just thinking about it made him feel ridiculous, but he did remember hearing about ones that sold lingerie . . . Also beer. And pizza, in at least one memorable instance—so who the hell knew what he might find that wasn’t covered “in-game?”

    On further inspection, the “canon” vending machines mostly sold drinks; largely copyright-friendly “name brands” which he knew had restorative properties when used in the Metaverse but were far less useful here. The ones “off the beaten path,” on the other hand . . . Well, the one Frid found was out of order, according to the very elegantly scripted apology sign on its front, but he couldn’t tell what it actually sold, because the sign covered the displays.

    This annoyed the Exalt, and the impulse crossed his mind to exercise his newly acquired Larceny skill to attempt to reach in and snag an item just to get an idea of what was inside. If he was good enough, after all, he could actually leave money inside to pay for it, so it wouldn’t technically be stealing—and if he actually damaged it further in the attempt, it wouldn’t really matter, would it?

    After all, it is already brok—

    The Exalt stopped dead as the thought crossed his mind. A distant corner of his mind could almost hear a “click” as the pieces slotted into place, but the majority of him was too absorbed in the revelation . . .

    OF COURSE! That’s why—and like always, they told us the reason outright, but it was so damned subtle that I missed it . . .!

    It was a much-joked-about truth among fans that the collective TYPE-MOON franchises had so many rules solely so that Nasu could create exceptions to them, and then logically explain their existence within its cosmology. However much that was based in fact, Fate/apocrypha proved, despite Frid’s earlier doubts, to be no different in that regard . . .

    As an Anti-Hero, Jack the Ripper was supposed to be impossible to summon by the rules of the Fuyuki Grail system, much like deities. Trying in the mainline universe had netted the Einzberns the Avenger known as Angra Mainyu—as close as the wish-granting Grail could get to the God of Evil known as Ahriman—whose subsequent corruption of the Grail had allowed for summoning Anti-Heroes like Bluebeard in later Wars. In the Great Holy Grail War of Trifas, however, Avenger hadn’t been summoned, Ruler had, which should mean summoning an Anti-Hero like Jack the Ripper remained impossible. But Ruler had been summoned as a protective response to the efforts to undermine the Holy Grail War’s protocols; that was the reason for Jeanne d’Arc’s presence as a Ruler-class Servant, and the existence of the “Great Holy Grail War” as it was run in Trifas.

    Which all made sense, and logically held up—until the late-game revelation that Ruler, the impartial moderator, had also been summoned in the Holy Grail War of Fuyuki, in the form of Shirou Amakusa Tokisada—as the Einzbern Servant of that War. And the very fact that either a Heroic Spirit that wanted the Holy Grail could be summoned into the Class of an impartial moderator, or worse, that the moderator could be compelled to fight for a competitor . . .

    Well, it was a flat-out proclamation that many if not all of the ritual’s normal “safeties” and restrictions were disengaged—and all the Great Holy Grail War did was indicate that the Grail itself was unable to fix it. Hence, elements like the canonical presence of the Anti-Hero Jack the Ripper, and Jeanne d’Arc’s condition as a Pseudo-Servant; not as overtly explained as Nasu usually did with such elements, but perfectly logical within the presented framework.

    And I should have worked it out a hell of a lot sooner! Frid berated himself. All the evidence was there! Hell, I summoned an Extra Class that didn’t exist in the standard Grail War system myself—TWO of them, technically! And Erik had AMATERASU playing Koyanskaya!

    He hadn’t thought anything of it at the time; being too used to the vast array of potential Servants in Fate/Grand Order, he hadn’t really considered how irregular the presence of a Foreigner or Alter Ego was in anything close to a “standard” Holy Grail War. Nor had the use of those Classes, specifically, seemed unusual, given “compatibility summons” and his own nature—but in hindsight . . .

    Everything we
    did just confirmed the facts! As crazy as it is to believe, we were actually playing by the rules . . .!

    It was, when Frid considered everything that had happened in that mess, a fairly horrifying thought—but it paled beside the realisation that if he was right, then the Works was operating with a basically unrestricted Holy Grail.

    Oh, Luna—that means that nothing is off the table, doesn't it? One wrong move, or ill-spoken phrase, and Rin gets possessed by Ishtar, or Cthulhu moves in . . .!

    Granted, he liked Ishtar, but Rin would doubtless like to keep possession of her body and explaining why she floated off the ground to all and sundry (or brainwashing them not to notice) would be a pain . . . Likewise, Hokusai seemed friendly enough, and his daughter was cute, but again, Cthulhu; and given Oei’s hostility to “western barbarians,” it seemed unlikely they’d get along—and those were two of the semi-reasonable possibilities. If, say, Kama, or any form of BB-chan got summoned . . .

    Well, the Exalt would pray to Luna to save him, but suspected it would be a lost cause. Instead, his mind threw up the proclamation, “EVERYBODY OUT OF THE UNIVERSE—QUICK!

    By comparison, the possibility of unleashing Elizabeth Báthory on the world, in any form, seemed almost pleasant . . .

    “OK,” he muttered under his breath. “Calm down—it can’t actually be that bad, or Darnic would’ve gone for something a hell of a lot stronger than Vlad . . .

    The Slavic pantheon might not be as universal as the Greco-Roman, Norse, or others, after all, but Servants of any kind got boosts from being summoned on their home ground. And the Gorgon sisters proved that even weak gods could be devastating under the right circumstances—Medousa had managed to hold her own against seriously puissant legends, and her elders had a few tricks up their proverbial sleeves, too . . .

    If Darnic had known that he could, anyway, the thought finished in his head, causing Frid to freeze up all over again.

    Crap . . .” Frid hissed.

    If the only reason the Great Holy Grail War, to say nothing of Fuyuki’s Fifth, hadn’t devolved into a literal holy (forget the Grail) war was because no one had realised summoning deities was now an option, then the Works’ home reality had to have at least some gods actually looking out for it—

    Frid stopped.

    “Gaia and the Counter Force, duh,” he answered his own unasked question, reaching up to smack the back of his head. “They threw a hissy fit over Fafnir—no way in hell would they let a deity roam around without a fight . . . And stop talking to yourself!

    Annoyed as he was about slipping into old, bad habits, the Exalt did feel some relief as the idea sunk in. It meant that the Grail wasn’t a complete free-for-all; probably, he admitted, a lot of the usual divine Pseudo-Servants could be summoned in Servant Classes, but not without an appropriate reason (like, say, the impending incineration of humanity).

    And going by Jeanne’s example, it would still require the host’s consent—and while that might’ve been a problem if, say, Kama had reached out to Sakura as a child, there was no real reason to think any of the ones he knew about were liable to show up . . . Well, not unless specifically summoned, anyway—and as he was the only one who knew about them, that wasn’t liable to happen. Even then, most of the deities involved likely wouldn’t be motivated to bother, having neither a connection to nor interest in him—so unless he got a really strong catalyst, somehow, it wasn’t happening.

    So, short of that old curse of Ishtar’s activating because Gilgamesh and Enkidu are reuniting, we’re probably safe from being suddenly overrun with goddesses of antiquity. Which, given that almost all of them are in Shirou’s harem, he’d likely appreciate it, as it means less collateral damage potential.

    And even then, Frid realised, doing anything out of the usual range of a Grail War’s summoning scope will summon Ruler—that protection is still in place, and has been demonstrably deployed. And as we’ve seen, the Grail will try to summon a Ruler with the ability to do the job.

    Granted, he personally didn’t see summoning Astraea to deal with Ishtar, for example, actually de-escalating matters, given their usual hosts—but he suspected that even the Mesopotamian goddess of Venus might find herself stymied by Caren C. Hortensia.

    Luna knows, she scares the hell out of
    me when she’s a bloody mortal . . .

    His immediate panic subsided. Granted, this was still an issue, and made getting back into contact with the Works a priority—there was far too much potential for things to unknowingly go very wrong—but the situation, while volatile, was as stable as it could be, right now. And, again, there was nothing he could do about it from here, at this point in time.

    Frid paused as an idea occurred to him. Well . . .

    If he actually made an effort to summon some form of Elizabeth, it was possible that whichever Ruler was called in response could find him—certainly, they would be motivated to, at least. But more likely, Ilya would find it much easier to get a fix on him by tracking where the host went, if he tried to summon Ishtar, Ereshkigal, Parvati or Kama.

    On the other hand, most of any of those options results in a Chaotic Evil Servant running around—some of whom are self-sustaining, and almost all of whom are liable to be pissed at me for doing it in the first place.

    Dryly, that voice in the back of his head remarked Uh, yeah—let’s file that plan under “Things to Do When It’s Already All Gone to Hell and Everyone’s About to Die Horribly,” eh . . .?

    Frid agreed wholeheartedly with the bastard for once; he did kind of want to see Ishtar or Kama’s reaction to the Holy Grail of this universe, though. Neither deity, after all, was really a fan of being told what to do, and the resulting fireworks would no doubt be something to see—from a safe distance, anyway.

    Like, for example, Mars orbit, perhaps . . .

    Shaking himself out of the thought, the Exalt decided that he’d had enough paradigm-shattering, soul-terrifying revelations for one day, and that it was time to head to Crossroads to learn his new trade—and a strong drink sounded really good right about now, too.

    And it’s not even fucking NOON, yet . . .
















    Bar Crossroads
    Twenty minutes later

















    Lala noted that her newest hire was still wearing the same clothes he’d had on last night and frowned inwardly. It wasn’t actually unusual behavior for her clientele (a certain reporter coming instantly to mind, not to mention the guy whose apartment the newbie was borrowing), but it did reflect badly on Crossroads if he made a habit of it as an employee.

    Admittedly, the kid had been something of a pity hire—Lala swore she was going soft—but she hoped she hadn’t been making a mistake here . . .

    “Did the airline lose your luggage, kid?” she asked.

    “More or less,” he sighed. “I was lucky to have my wallet and passport on me.”

    “But not your cell?” she prompted. She’d never seen him pull one out last night, and he was wearing a wristwatch, of all things, when most people would just turn their phone on to check the time.

    “Gave up owning one years ago,” he replied. “I just had no use for the damned thing at all, and I refused to pay a monthly fee for a paperweight.

    He was either braver, crazier or sadder than anyone Lala had ever met before, then—and that was saying something.

    “Well, you’re going to need something other than this in order to work here,” she stated.

    “. . . Are we talking about a dress code, or a uniform?” he asked seriously, looking her over before he added, “And what kind of uniform . . .?”

    Relax, kid,” Lala said smugly. “You don’t have what it takes to pull this look off, so there’s no point in forcing you to try.”

    “. . .”

    He didn’t say anything, but Lala caught a flash of something in his eyes—like Ohya when she was bragging about a big scoop that wasn’t ready for publication yet. It essentially read as “I know something you don’t,” but as he didn’t say or two anything to expand on it, she left it alone for now.

    “A big guy like you is going to have issues with most off-the-rack stuff, I know,” Lala said instead. “I’ll make some calls, see if I can point you in the right direction for shopping.”

    He bowed in response—and again, didn’t do too badly at it. Overcompensated a bit, actually, but she suspected that was because he was actually trying to be polite, rather than because he didn’t know what he was doing. Unusual, for a Western tourist; if it weren’t for the fact that his accent sounded wrong, she’d suspect he was British; they had the right reputation for it.

    “In the meantime,” she continued, leaving that train of thought behind, “what you’re wearing will do for now. We don’t actually open until six, and we stay open until midnight, so if you learn what I’m about to teach you fast enough, you’ll have time to try and find something fresh—if not, I expect you to have something by tomorrow. Crossroads has a reputation to maintain.”

    Another bow. “Yes, Master.”

    Lala fixed him with a glance. “You seem pretty familiar with a lot of our customs.”

    Otaku,” he offered, without a hint of shame.

    She sighed, feeling the headache start to form. “Which probably means that at least half of what you’ve learned is wrong, or is missing vital context . . . Still, it means you won’t look like a complete idiot, and I won’t look like one for hiring you.”

    Lala shook her head.

    “All right—let’s go over what I expect you to do . . .”

    He visibly listened attentively, and Lala suppressed a smile.

    She could learn to get to like this kid.
















    Yoshizawa Residence
    Kichijoji, Tokyo
    March 7, 2004

















    NOOOOO!

    Kasumi bolted awake—but it wasn’t her who had screamed. As the realisation of that, and the familiarity of her surroundings, sank in, she fell back into bed with a groan.

    Not again, she groaned, just managing not to say the words aloud.

    Multiple impulses warred within her at that moment: firstly, to go to Sumire, and comfort her. And secondly, to leave her sister be, because Kasumi believed very firmly that people needed to learn to solve their own problems, rather than becoming reliant on others to do so for them . . .

    And thirdly, there was a rising urge to take the pillow under her head and smother her twin with it, because this made almost a solid week of night terrors—and after that long with a disrupted sleep schedule on top of her gymnastics one, Kasumi had genuinely had enough of this.

    With a sigh, however, Kasumi pulled herself out of bed and opted for the first option—it would help her get back to sleep faster, going by past experience.

    Sumire latched onto her like she was drowning, murmuring “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry . . . over and over.

    And who, the girl wondered, was she apologising to? Kasumi herself? Their family as a whole? Or the man she seemed to hold herself responsible for killing? Even though, aside from Kasumi’s own experience, no one seemed to believe that anyone else was ever actually there . . .?

    (And Kasumi would almost believe that she’d imagined him, except that the bruises on her back had formed handprints . . .)

    “This can’t go on, Shinichi,” her mother said to her father, fully audible even through the walls, and apparently in full agreement with Kasumi’s thinking.

    “I know,” he said heavily, “and I’ve had a thought about that. We interviewed someone on the show recently—a Doctor Takuto Maruki. Perhaps he can help her.”

    Therapy?” her grandmother exclaimed, sounding genuinely horrified—not that Kasumi blamed her. There was a definite stigma attached to mental health problems in Japan; the idea of dealing with the reputation of having a sister who’d needed therapy was not one that pleased her.

    Then again, the teenager considered, if I meant I’d get a good, full night’s sleep again . . .

    “What else can we do, Mother?” her father said helplessly. “She was obviously badly traumatised, and she either won’t or can’t get better on her own. We have to help her, and if that’s the sort of help that she needs . . .” There was a pause in which Kasumi could imagine him shaking his head helplessly. “Sumire is in no condition to maintain her academic or athletic performance, and Shujin will have expectations after granting her that scholarship—for that matter, none of this will do Kasumi any good either. And just because she seems to be handling the accident all right, that doesn’t mean she actually is, either.”

    Kasumi felt indignant at the insinuation, but was too tired to actually get up and argue her case—it was two in the morning, and she really wanted to just go back to sleep . . .

    “Call him in the morning, Shinichi,” her mother said firmly, overriding her grandmother’s attempt to respond. “Better we deal with the fallout of trying to help the girls than this.

    Nothing more was said, but the adults looked in on the two girls and gave Kasumi a nod before going back to bed.

    For her part, the gymnast was just relieved—much as she didn’t like the idea of Sumire undergoing therapy (and she would argue loudly if they attempted to make her go, as well), she did want her sister to be well, and happy.

    Especially, mused a sleepy corner of her mind, if it keeps her from suddenly running off and out into traffic again . . .

    Sumire’s breathing abruptly started evening out, and Kasumi realised that her sister was falling asleep in her arms, if she wasn’t completely out already—apparently, she was just that wrung out. Not that Kasumi could really blame her, as she was hardly alert and daisy-fresh, herself.

    With a sigh, the teenager cast around for a blanket. Finding one within reach, she lifted it up to her shoulder and wrapped it around the pair of them as best she could, before guiding their collective weight down to the floor.

    Good night, Sis, she thought. Let me sleep at least until the alarm goes off, would you . . .?

    Hopefully, this “Doctor Maruki” really could help her sister—but deep down, however Kasumi feared it would take some kind of miracle-worker to really pull it off, and what were the chances that he could actually do that . . .?










    Additional Writer's Notes: My wrists will probably make me pay for this (8 pages in one day!), but I'm on time, for once . . .!
    Last edited by Kieran; November 7th, 2022 at 11:08 AM.
    “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




  4. #104
    Kamen Rider fan-writer Xamusel's Avatar
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    I see what you mean... sorry to rush you on this, Kieran.

    In any case, I hope that Doctor Maruki is given the treatment he deserves, especially if he's a villain.
    Xamusel's Fanfiction Profile

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




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

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




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

  5. #105
    死徒(下級)Lesser Dead Apostle
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    (Honestly, it felt weird on his wrist—he'd had to give up wearing watches when he started wearing carpal tunnel braces . . . Hopefully, it wouldn’t take him long to get back into the habit.)
    [...]
    Additional Writer's Notes: My wrists will probably make me pay for this (8 pages in one day!), but I'm on time, for once . . .!
    Oof. One of the reasons I'm not entirely surprised when these go late.

    Godafrid's preference for coffee makes me think we're going to have a very satisfying cup at Leblanc at some point. And we finally get an answer to the Trifas Grail, which seems fairly reasonable. Glad at least one of those ideas was sufficiently satisfying, though I feel like Godafrid may be giving Nasutoo much credit here. I also have to agree that his "just summon a Divine Spirit and get a Ruler hunting me down" plan seems like a very bad idea unless he wants to be suplexed with prejudice.
    He probably is going to need a cell phone at some point. They're a fairly integral part of communications in Persona 5.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xamusel View Post
    In any case, I hope that Doctor Maruki is given the treatment he deserves, especially if he's a villain.
    He has snacks! How can he be a villain?
    Though that does kinda make me wonder how his treatment plan will differ, given the changed circumstances.

  6. #106
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xamusel View Post
    I see what you mean... sorry to rush you on this, Kieran.
    I do try to keep to a schedule - but as I've said, this story is winding up needing a little longer to do properly, as I go along . . .


    In any case, I hope that Doctor Maruki is given the treatment he deserves, especially if he's a villain.
    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    He has snacks! How can he be a villain?
    ^ What he said.


    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    Though that does kinda make me wonder how his treatment plan will differ, given the changed circumstances.
    I am wavering to a point, because what happens should be at least somewhat different (if it happens AT ALL, really), but the vast majority of both Sumire's and his own development depend on things going as they did . . .

    My current thought is that Sumire's personality will be changed to be like her "perfect" sister - she won't actually think she is Kasumi, but she'll behave like the girl in the game (allowing the plot and Confidant to progress as normal). Which will make the difference in this case being how Kasumi herself reacts to the changes in her sister . . .



    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    Oof. One of the reasons I'm not entirely surprised when these go late.
    Yeah - with the formatting thing, I've effectively doubled my page count per chapter (even if most of it is blank spacing), so . . .


    Godafrid's preference for coffee makes me think we're going to have a very satisfying cup at Leblanc at some point.
    Yup. Still, breaking the coffee habit isn't a terrible idea, given that he's living in a country of tea-drinkers - and with the Toxin Immunity Merit, it's not like caffeine is going to have much effect anyway . . .


    And we finally get an answer to the Trifas Grail, which seems fairly reasonable. Glad at least one of those ideas was sufficiently satisfying, though I feel like Godafrid may be giving Nasu too much credit here.
    Quite possibly - maybe the light novels explain it, but as Nasu himself didn't write them, I'd doubt anything they said anyway . . . But if it was planned that way, it's a hell of a masterstroke.

    Still, I nearly banged my head against a wall when the realisation actually hit me; over a month of trying to work it out, and the actual explanation was both so simple, AND explained IN the story itself! It was just, as Frid noted, just so subtle (compared to the franchise's usual efforts at making a point) that I'd missed it . . . ! And, in hindsight, everything both Frid and Erik had actually done only confirmed those circumstances!

    *Shakes head*[ I]Crazy -[/I] and it took RB back a bit when I pointed it out to him, too . . .

    Still, I'm glad that you think it holds up, as well, and are pleased with the outcome. It opens up some interesting possibilities, no?
    I also have to agree that his "just summon a Divine Spirit and get a Ruler hunting me down" plan seems like a very bad idea unless he wants to be suplexed with prejudice.
    Oh, absolutely - but it seems like either good omake fodder or a great "final fuck you" revenge plan if the final boss(es) seem like they're going to end up winning. . .



    . . . Still, as with the Trifas' Grail's 14 + Ruler Servant capacity, this opens up options for other potential writers in the Works' setting - they can now, "legally," basically summon whichever Servant they want to use. With, of course, the caveat that Ruler WILL appear the moment a summoning that goes outside the Fuyuki Grail ritual's rules is made - so everyone keep that in mind (and I'll probably repeat it in the Dossier Thread, as well).

    Especially since said Ruler is NOT likely to be happy . . .


    He probably is going to need a cell phone at some point. They're a fairly integral part of communications in Persona 5.
    Fortunately, this is Japan - there are smartphones that are sold in vending machines (I checked) . . .!
    “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




  7. #107
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    No chapter this week, sorry - my wrists have been acting up for the last couple of days, and work has not been helping . . .
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




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

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




  8. #108
    Kamen Rider fan-writer Xamusel's Avatar
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    Uh-oh... sorry to hear that, Kieran, really.
    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?

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    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    I appreciate it - I'm cheating, a bit, by folding a prior snippet into the next chapter (I'll leave you to guess which one, of course) to save myself the typing - but I hope to have a chapter by next weekend, just the same.
    “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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    Kamen Rider fan-writer Xamusel's Avatar
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    That works as well. I hope you get over the issue of your wrists killing you.

    Speaking of which, have you tried using dictation software?
    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?

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    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xamusel View Post
    That works as well. I hope you get over the issue of your wrists killing you.
    Me, too - this is literally aggravating, on multiple levels . . .


    Speaking of which, have you tried using dictation software?
    Thought about it, but even if I could get it to work (no guarantees, in my experience), with the number of Japanese names and unique spellings I use or have to use, odds are it wouldn't be nearly as useful as I like . . .
    “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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    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Chapter 8 – Raging Conflicts

    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.








    Within Boundless Time
    Yet long ago, and worlds away









    There were no defining features to the land; merely an endless desert of grey sand, whirling about like the flowing of an hourglass marking the passage of time.

    Periodically, landmarks would appear in the haze—the silhouette of a building, the shadow of a mountain, the impression of an ocean, the swaying outline of a forest—but they were ultimately swallowed behind the curtain of sand, as obscuring as any fog. The sole constant within all of this was the stars, ever-visible in the velvet-black sky above, glittering like diamonds . . . And yet, even they were fluid, constellations rearranging themselves seemingly at random, as the points of light swept across the heavens in their endless cycle.

    Still, they burned in the sky, bright or dim, yet omnipresent—for the stars were the beacon of time; thus, to Time, the Stars were inextricably linked in Fate.

    No one could escape Fate, in the end. Its grip could be altered—they’d proven that much, at least—but never without cost, and even then, it held them no less resolutely for it. They were all bound to their roles, be they the merest of mortals, or the vastest of Titans; thus, he strode across the plains of Zurvan, Greater Titan of Time, eager to execute his own.

    It was not easy, for the Titans were worlds unto themselves; primordial concepts given form, from which the World and the Gods had ultimately been birthed. Each was as vast as the totality of the cosmos, for their natures were reflected within it, and they each perceived themselves as the rightful whole of existence, rendering them inherently hostile to all else—including other Titans. All of them were thus indescribably dangerous, but some were easier to reach and traverse than others. The Fire Titan, Muspelheim, held little inherent danger to those who were immune to heat and smoke. Its denizens were another matter, of course, but the environment could be endured.

    The same could not be said of other Titans—Zurvan among them. Embodying the concept of “boundless time,” age and causality were scattered hither and yon by its whimsical winds. Every moment might be a second, or a year, ahead or backwards; travellers might find themselves at their proper ages in one moment, a child the next, then a withered husk. The risk of finding oneself aged to dust or unbirth was ever-present in the shifting sands of Time, and not even Gods were immune . . . At least, if they were unprepared.

    First, he was of the Aesir, and thus had acquired several Golden Apples of Youth; a single bite would restore the consumer to their prime. Further, he had specimens of both their mythos and that of the Dodekatheon. The Greek variant was weaker—it was not, on the whole, quite as broad in its effects as that of his own pantheon—but the base result was the same. Acquiring them had not been easy, but far simpler than Herakles’ own effort: he’d asked for them, and the Queen of Olympus had been gracious enough, after understanding his aims.

    Zurvan was the Greater Titan of Time—but the Titans’ Avatars were their guiding intelligences. And the Dodekatheon did NOT want Cronus to reclaim primacy among them.

    The Apples were vulnerable to the time-shifts, of course; but he’d stored them separately, in the hopes that one might survive when and if he needed it. Beyond that, he had his own stamina to draw on and he had built himself into someone renowned even among the Aesir for his ability to endure—and, in this case, resist.

    It would surprise most he presumed; he was a new God, and thus, in the eyes of most, lesser. Even among mortals, his Legend was tied to folktales that had only recently gained any sort of prominence in the World at large; in that, he had as much or more in common with the eldritch being Jack Frost as with the Aesir proper. Certainly, his titles seemed far in excess of the renown of his name.

    Scion of Vidar. Consort of Hel. Breaker of Fates. Leader of the Wild Hunt. The Doom of Lost Souls. The Cruel God of Due Punishment. The Shadow of Saint Nicholas.

    Krampus.

    The God’s visage was no less terrifying than his queen’s, if more overtly demonic. His massive body was covered in coarse hair, his legs terminated in cloven hooves, and a long, probing tongue emerged from within his fanged maw—part of a horrific face crowned by spiralling horns. Nevertheless, his steps left no trace upon the sand; despite his looming presence, he stepped with a nimble lightness which made him seem as intangible as the spirits over which he ruled, and which hinted at a terrible capacity for swiftness, despite his bulk.

    He was accompanied by only the eldest of his retinue, the most ancient of the Hunt, whose deaths had passed long out of human memory. So long were they ghosts that the random shifts of time within Zurvan affected them barely, if it all; most of the shifts went back decades, at most, where millennia would be needed to undo their existences as members of the Wild Hunt.

    Those Hunters, too, dealt with the minor nuisances of the realm; those aionic creatures native to Zurvan that served its will. As with the Titan itself, they too emitted auras of corruptive time—but these lesser echoes affected the Hunt not at all, and they found themselves run down in multitudes, leaving Krampus to concentrate his energies on the greater threat: the Titan itself.

    Normally, he would enjoy the hunt—inflicting smaller cruelties to pay back the lesser sins of his targets, until the final reckoning—but there was far more at stake. With Ragnarok averted through Surtr’s defeat and the turning of the Fenris Wolf, the Aesir were able to prosecute the remaining Titans far more actively. By the same token, however, the overthrow of Muspelheim’s primary Avatar had left the others in a battle for dominance; and whether it be Prometheus, Kagu-tsuchi, Meretseger, or Camaxtli-Xocotl who won, the shift in leadership would undoubtedly lead to increased pressure on the associated pantheon.

    The Aesir couldn’t afford to have any pantheon fall, whatever their ultimate relations with them—lest the same issue affect them. After all, Jord was an Avatar of Terra; if Olympus fell to an alliance between Gaia and Prometheus, they might find themselves soon facing the same force. Nor was she the only Titan with a Norse Avatar . . .

    Zurvan, to Krampus’ knowledge, had no such thing—but the Greater Titan of Time’s mastery of its element could prove a significant force multiplier, and that couldn’t be afforded; worse, it could make the flow of time such that even if Krampus emerged victorious, the war would be long over, no matter how quickly he won. And even that failed to address the other members of his Band—and his queen—being at risk . . .

    Krampus’ grip tightened on the ashen rod he held: the “wounding twig,” Laevateinn. One of the two weapons he’d won from Loki, he used it less often lately than the Sword of Atli—it was focussed more on magic than battle—but the latter had been requested by Erik for his mission, and he’d been so pleased that the God of Mecha had requested a practical weapon that he’d allowed the other deity to take it. Besides, Laevateinn was just as useful against the weaknesses of his intended foe; perhaps even more so.

    “. . . Are you done?” he asked. “Every action has consequences—and while you may evade them, deflect them, even hold them in abeyance, even your mastery of causality cannot unmake them. Once the decision is made, the act performed, the effects are written in Fate; every evil earns its punishment . . .

    You have chosen to be incarnated as the greatest of all evils,” Krampus pronounced direly, yet with a gleeful hunger infusing his voice, “and here. I. AM.

    The sands swirled then, into a terrible storm, howling with the malice of all storms, combined—of all things. It swept all lesser things aside—the spectres of the Hunt, the denizens of Zurvan, even the landscape itself, consuming all in a featureless blank of grey . . . The relentless fury condensed, into a humanoid form that was no more human than that of Krampus; less, truly, for its source had never been human in the first place.

    Ahriman, otherwise known as Angra Mainyu, greatest foe of the Yazata, as the Persian pantheon was known—and Avatar of Zurvan, had arrived.

    “Foolish godling,” the demonic entity sneered. “Legend itself proclaims me the equal to any two pantheons, and matched by only one being in all the World—and still, you would dare to face me?”

    The God’s sneer was no less contemptuous. “Legend also proclaims me a breaker of Fate—

    “A title shared among three—and yet, I see only one, Ahriman scoffed. “Do you truly believe you can threaten me?

    Krampus bared his teeth, in an expression no one would call a smile—and yet, it was.

    “I know it.”

    On the surface of it, the matchup was ridiculous: one of the newest of the Aesir against one of the most powerful and ancient beings in existence. And yet, on a symbolic and conceptual level, the struggle was far more even—Krampus was consequence to Ahriman’s causality, punishment to his evil. And the divine Purview which enshrined Time, that Zurvan represented, was the Stars—which, by definition, could only be seen at night, and Krampus was a being of night. Christmas night specifically, granted, but the Wild Hunt roamed on any night, and he had been granted its leadership by Odin All-Father.

    In theory, certainly, Zurvan could reverse his personal time beyond the point Krampus had become a God, but thanks to his own time manipulations, Krampus had existed as a God at the time of the Titans’ release from their prisons; briefly, true, but he had. In fact, he had been partially inadvertently responsible for their release—thank you, Erik—which meant that to undo him would be to shove Zurvan and its brethren back into the Underworld, possibly eternally . . .

    No, Ahriman didn’t dare try that method, which meant relying on brute force. And Krampus was of the Aesir—this was exactly the kind of fight he existed for.

    Plus, the God had a trump card: he knew Ahriman’s secrets—his weaknesses—and he had an answer for them. For all his power, Ahriman was weak to powers of fire and magic.

    The Sword of Atli would have served for the first—but Laevateinn wielded the second just as well.

    Krampus brandished the length of ash. “Shall we begin?”








    The battle was long, and hard-fought. Ahriman was weak to certain powers, yes—but he was unique among Titan Avatars in possessing nearly all others, to some extent. More than once, Krampus was forced to rely on the Apples of Immortality for healing, rather than simply to counter a temporal attack. But his own Legend, though newly forged, was no less puissant; and it spoke deeply of his relentlessness, and his ability to defy certain death—to the point where certain tongues among the Aesir claimed that Hel had chosen him as her consort simply to hold him in her thrall somehow . . .

    Ultimately, however, Krampus had a weapon in his arsenal that Ahriman—indeed, no Titan—could counter. Those who reached the pinnacle of power could, like the Titans, form Avatars—living personifications of a concept. And Krampus’ one success in this area was in his primary Purview.

    The Arbiter was literally Justice given form; implacable, impartial, and a force to which even Titans were subject. It was the Arbiters’ decrees which had sent the Titans, unresisting if unwilling, into their prisons in ages past—and while the feat had required all deities capable of such to accomplish, it was not Krampus’ goal.

    Zurvan could not be killed; Ymir’s death and the flood which had followed had proven that to do so would undo the World itself. Nor could Zurvan be imprisoned; the cells which had once held the Titans had not yet been suitably repaired or replaced. But this, Krampus could do—issue a single order, woven throughout Fate, which the Greater Titan, or at least its Avatar, would be bound to obey.




    [BE CAST DOWN.]





    This was Krampus’ judgement—the greatest punishment he could devise for the greatest of evils: failure. To forever be overthrown, come in second, in all its endeavours. Never would its plans ever come to full fruition, no matter how the odds were stacked in its favour. Always would it come so close, only to stumble at the last moment.

    For the greatest and most high, what deeper hell than could there be, but to be lesser, always . . .?

    In a swing of the Arbiter’s gavel, Ahriman was forever neutered—and as Zurvan’s primary Avatar, the Greater Titan stymied. As with Muspelheim, an internal struggle would be waged in the ensuing power vacuum; one which Ahriman would never truly win but would undoubtedly fight hard enough to frustrate his potential rivals for a considerable period. Fate might decree his ultimate failure, after all, but he still possessed sufficient power to, theoretically, match any two pantheons—said failure would not, could not, come easily to him, even when predestined.

    It would be some time before the Titan of Time would prove an active threat, once more. Time enough, hopefully, seal one or more of the others, so that the combined pantheons could begin turning their attention to doing the same to Zurvan, and the rest of its brethren.

    Yet as Krampus departed, the God of Due Punishment failed to consider one important facet of those who wove the strands of Fate: they were inevitably bound to the one whose Fate they altered, in some fashion.

    And on that day, Fate was written: wheresoever Krampus walked, in whatever guise, Ahriman, in whatever guise, would fall . . .








    Borrowed Apartment
    Shinjuku, Tokyo
    March 8
















    Frid bolted upright in bed, the remnants of the nightmare feeling like a shroud wrapped around his skin. No, that was the blankets—

    Warm.
    The apartment was warm, not the chill of the infinite void of the Stars, nor frozen stillness of Darkness, or the bitter depths of Frost. The desperate breaths in his ears were from gasping human lungs, not the hungry panting, like a massive, leathery bellows, of a demonic tormentor eager to begin his work . . .

    “Essence Fever,” the Exalted rulebook called it. Based as it was on things like the concept of chi, using and containing Essence wasn’t a static state, nor as simple as flipping a mental switch; the power of life and Creation seethed, even its potential state, and wanted to be used. The way the phenomenon manifested it varied between the types of Exalt, but the drive to do things with their divinely empowered gifts existed no matter what they were.

    And in Frid’s specific case, the fever took an all-too-familiar form: like the Garou of Werewolf: The Apocalypse, who had inspired the original concepts of them, the Lunar Exalted ran on rage. It wasn’t quite as comprehensive as in the case of the Garou; there was no “Rage” mechanic empowering and defining him, nor was every Lunar Exalt a homicidal berserker to be set off at the slightest provocation. No, the Essence Fever drove Lunars, instead, to act upon all the injustices and slights, real or perceived—whether fighting to avenge a past defeat, even if it was centuries or incarnations ago . . .

    Or to use their powers, for example, to seek out those who brought suffering, who revelled in it, and who thought themselves above reprisal, and tear them down—literally, if at all possible.

    Kamoshida Sugumiya, Madarame Ichiryuusai, Kaneshiro Junya, Okumura Kunikazu, Shido Masayoshi . . . Such very public, and easily-researchable figures—and so VERY unprepared for what a motivated Lunar can do . . .

    There was no doubt in his mind that he could (kill them) take them all down. Easily, in fact—he knew their names, their faces, and more or less where to find them. The Metaverse didn’t even need to be a factor in the whole affair; he’d thought as much with regards to Akechi previously, hadn’t he . . .? And as repugnant as Frid found the smug little shit, he was ultimately only a pawn that believed himself to be the strongest piece on the board—the others weren’t even prepared to deal with him, let alone what Frid could, and really wanted, to do to them. . .

    They would deserve it. They were responsible for untold suffering—innocents who were suffering right now, because of them. Who would continue to suffer, at least until Joker showed up a month from now, if not for many months longer, until the Phantom Thieves finally got around to dealing with them—and those were only the ones he knew about. How many other effects of their actions had the games and other media never documented—and even without that, did Shiho Suzui, for example, deserve to be abused to the point of attempting suicide, simply because “the plot says so . . .?”

    Or I could deal with them
    now—and no matter what I did to them, they would deserve it . . .

    And that, Frid realised, was the point of the nightmare—that was Krampus’ way of thinking.

    The Exalt collapsed into bed with a sigh. My subconscious is fucking WEIRD . . .

    Contrary to a certain Norse God of Mecha’s expectations, Frid was not, and never had been, a Scion—much less the Bandmate he was under the impression Frid was—and thinking otherwise was way too meta to even begin contemplating as a genuine possibility.

    (Even if what he did know about Scion’s Second Edition rules teased the possibility more logically than he’d care to admit . . .)

    He had created the character that became Krampus, though; and while the guy’s origins and pantheons had shifted wildly over the course of the saga, the intended end result had almost always been Krampus, so Frid had a fairly clear idea of the God’s nature, backstory, and “future history”—the little details that had never made it into the game proper, like his relationship with Hel, and position as the leader of the Wild Hunt. The battle with Zurvan was another—a plan for if they’d ever returned to playing Scion with the same characters, with an effort at doing a full-scale Titan War.

    Luna knows that that Mars colony stuff Erik was talking about is EXACTLY the kind of bullshit I’d expect his player to pull . . . Probably accomplished through the use of an army of Mecha Sonics, piloting Metal Gears, to boot!

    . . .

    Shaking his head, the weary Lunar dragged his thoughts, with an effort, back to the relevant point, right now. Krampus had been designed as a walking, breathing, instrument of divine vengeance that reveled in his calling. A demonic deity that was only slightly better than Hel in that he had rules and standards he adhered to: that those without sin, he would not, could not, punish—and unlike Hel, would therefore ignore.

    (Of course, that wasn’t to say that he wouldn’t attempt to trick someone into doing so, or subtly encourage them in their sins so that he could make the punishment worse . . .)

    Krampus had been meant as Frid’s every dark impulse for wanton violence and bloody retribution made manifest, all the terrible aspects of himself gathered into a literal monster. He was intimately familiar with Krampus and his way of thinking, because it was in many ways his own, and those terrible impulses whispered to him now—

    “And you are trying to be better,” he reminded himself in the dark, his whisper seeming deafeningly loud in the emptiness. “You promised, remember?”

    Maybe to Astraea, maybe only to himself; but the point was to be more than just the apathetic, borderline nihilistic asshole he’d grown into. The powers he had helped him to do that—the Works’ and their cause inspired him to be that—but the impetus, he’d realised, had to come from himself.

    And with no Great Curse to labour under, you really will have no one else to blame for your mistakes . . .

    Frid closed his eyes, and with a sigh, reminded himself that that really wasn’t the issue here; none of this, ultimately, was about him, and believing otherwise went contrary to both the Works’ mission and the circumstances here. The idea behind the former was to act subtly, in order to protect the identity and nature of both the Works and the omniverse at large. There were things that really shouldn’t EVER learn of either—besides, subtler, softer changes had a better chance of lasting, overall, compared to just violently overthrowing whatever they didn’t like . . . And he’d had enough trouble convincing Shirou and the others to go along with it without being a hypocrite about the whole thing.

    And as to the latter idea . . . Joker was the one on trial here—literally, in more than one sense. Whether it was Philemon or someone else, that was who had been chosen as the representative of humanity in this, not him. And who knew what penalty might be levied if he interfered too much . . .? And Frid knew he’d had that thought before, but it bore repeating, if only to help the concept sink in . . .

    I mean, I could
    probably kill the final boss, the Exalt reasoned. They’re a god, and powerful, but not a Primordial in the Exalted sense—


    (But still a god, and based in humanity’s collective unconscious, so it would remain unnamed, even in his thoughts, because the risk of drawing its attention was too high . . .)

    —so an army of Exalts probably won’t be necessary, he mused. If I build myself up enough, I could likely pull it off . . . But that would also risk the possibility of incurring my own version of the Great Curse, since MegaTen deities are a bit more flexible than some—and none of that accounts for whatever twists this being the Royal storyline is liable to throw up . . .

    No, it was far better to stick to the main plotline as much as possible and let Joker handle what he could; he needed to, in order to be ready for the endgame’s challenges. And honestly, there was every chance that Joker’s presence would resolve, or at least mitigate this feeling for him. After all, if there was ever a natural candidate for a Solar Exalt, the kid was it, and Lunar Exaltations were designed to work as a mated pair—

    OK, PHRASING, damn it . . .!

    Once Frid had sufficiently buried that particular line of thought, and all associated concepts, he was exhausted, but still not quite enough to fall back to sleep. The potential issues with his temper and impulses was just too concerning; after all, Joker couldn’t do what he’d need to if Frid castrated Kamoshida on sight, or literally ripped the smug smile off Akechi’s face . . .

    Hell, given some of the stupidity that comes out of Ryuji’s mouth, the urge to put him through a wall might be too much to resist.

    Luna knew, he’d had that impulse more than once, watching the playthrough videos—and that was with the enforced distance of a screen, not being literally face-to-face (and within reach, more importantly) of the kid . . .

    Resignedly, Frid concluded that all he could do was try to work to improve his willpower, somehow; it could be trained, like anything else, but he was at a loss, in this moment, to figure out a means to do it. Barring that, however, what else could he do? It wasn’t like there was an easily available channel for his anger that wouldn’t affect the “main storyline,” or at least not one he knew about. Nor was there exactly an expert on the subject of “deserving stress-relievers” that he could ask without arousing suspic—

    Frid bolted upright again.

    IDEA!
















    Outside Bar Crossroads
    Shinjuku, Tokyo
    March 8
















    Chihaya shivered, despite her thick underlayers. Growing up in the country, she was used to it being cold this time of year, and it was honestly a bit milder here than she’d have expected—but the tall buildings around here seemed to funnel all the winds into a single gust of surprising, and icy, fury. Worse, it was that damp cold that just seemed to seep through any and every kind of barrier, and it made her miserable, never mind her would-be customers . . .

    She glanced around, trying to conceal her hope—but everyone around her was busy hunching themselves against the blasts of not-quite-spring chill, hurrying to wherever they were going, or at least, shelter. No one was interested in her little fortune-telling stand, barely giving her colourful garb and hair a glance, though they’d been designed to draw attention. It was all she could do not to sigh in despair as they rushed by her without so much as acknowledging her existence.

    Still, she persisted—because on a night like this, Chihaya believed, only the truly desperate might seek her out, and those were the sort of people who’d need her help.

    As another roaring gale set her hair to whipping around and threatened to send her long, layered (and deliberately heavy) skirt flying upwards—along with her table—the fortune-teller shrieked, and desperately tried to hold both pieces down with a single hand each. And as she strained against the angry wind, Chihaya silently amended her thought.

    Anybody out in this is either desperate, or a total loony . . .!

    The surge of wind was short-lived, thankfully, and as it died down, it brought with it a surprising snatch of song.



    “I’m a shapeshifter
    At Poe’s masquerade,
    Hiding both face and mind
    All free for you to draw.
    I’m a shapeshifter
    What else should I be?
    Please don’t take off my mask
    Revealing dark.”



    Chihaya knew some English, since she’d been coached to deal with tourists, but a lot of the words were gibberish to her, never mind what they meant in the song itself. Still, the tune they were sung to seemed both pretty and sad at the same time, and the voice singing them was surprisingly pleasant—even if it sounded like the song was meant to be sung in a higher pitch . . .

    “I’d wish you ‘good evening,’ Miss Chihaya,” said the singer, “but we both know I’d be lying.”

    Chihaya blinked, realising that it was the big foreign guy from a few days ago—the heavy raincoat made it hard to tell, but the speaking voice was more familiar than when he was trying to be appropriate to a song.

    (Well, that, and Tokyo wasn’t exactly drowning in big, pale-skinned, blue-eyed men that knew her name . . .)

    “I feel like a drowned rat,” she admitted, before realising she’d slipped into her native accent again as she’d said it.

    “Not the nicest opening night,” he agreed, not seeming to notice. “Pardon my asking, but have you had any luck tonight?”

    “Some, before the weather turned,” she said glumly.

    She’d sold a few readings, but no Holy Stones—and she knew perfectly well that that was what the NDP was really interested in moving. They’d be disappointed that her first night was a disaster, but it wasn’t like she could’ve done anything about the weather, was it. . .?

    “And how much do you charge per reading?” he asked, peering at her intently.

    The fortune teller blinked, not used to someone being so close to her—she supposed Americans had a lousy grasp of “personal space,” despite coining the term. Though, she reminded the blush rising to her cheeks, it was windy; he had to be close, if she was going to hear him through all the racket!

    “D – depending on the reading,” Chihaya answered, trying to sound both professional and not like a hick, “between five thousand and ten thousand yen. I also sell Holy Stones for one hundred thousand—they’re powerful spiritual objects!” she assured him hastily.

    “OK,” he said. “I will buy one of those right now if you close up shop and get yourself warm and dry—you’ll catch pneumonia staying out here.”

    Chihaya blinked. “Really?

    He must really not have a good grasp of the exchange rates . . .

    She blinked, and his wallet was in his hand, being opened and bills being pulled out.

    “Eight . . . Nine . . . Ten!” He shoved them into her hand and closed his own around them to tighten her grip before releasing her to shove his wallet back into his jacket.

    “Go home,” he said firmly, “go to a bathhouse and warm up, go to a restaurant and get a hot meal into you—something! Just don’t stay here, OK?

    “And here—”

    He made a sudden movement, and when Chihaya finished blinking, a heavy weight had settled across her—the coat he’d been wearing had been draped over her shoulders.

    “Wait, what are you doing?” Chihaya stuttered, as her mind struggled to catch up to what was going on. “What about you?”

    “Work’s not far—I can manage,” he said firmly. “Go.

    Before she could even begin to protest, he spun around and began running.

    Chihaya blinked as the wind began tugging at the bills in her hand, and realisation struck.

    “WAIT!” she cried in panic. “YOUR HOLY STONE—!“

    “TOMORROW!” came the answering roar. “GET GOING!

    He was too fast—and too far away—to argue with, so Chihaya stuffed the money into a pocket, and began snatching up her things. It was cold, she was miserable, and it would be stupid to waste such a nice gesture, even if she had no idea how to respond to it.

    Still, she found herself smiling at one thought.

    Until tomorrow, then . . .





















    Thou hast acquired a new vow.
    It shall become the wings of rebellion that breaketh thy chains of captivity.
    With the birth of the Damosel of Cups, you have obtained the winds of blessing that shall lead to freedom and new power . . .







    OK,
    Frid thought, seriously,WHAT is that about, and WHY DOES IT KEEP HAPPENING . . .?!










    Additional Writer's Notes: Let's hear it for Advil . . .
    “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. #113
    Kamen Rider fan-writer Xamusel's Avatar
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    That was rather good, Kieran. I'm glad you got this out, man.
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  14. #114
    死徒(下級)Lesser Dead Apostle
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran View Post
    [BE CAST DOWN.]
    Ah, it's canon now. Nice. I don't think it counts as cheating when you have two full scenes alongside it; I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the second.

    “Essence Fever,” the Exalted rulebook called it.
    It's been 5 days in-universe, so this is also after the Kasumi segment earlier. Since nothing notable happened during that time, being supernaturally antsy seems plausible. I didn't know about Essence Fever, but it's apparently more emphasized in 3E, and quite plausibly applies here. Not being able to do anything plot-relevant for a few more weeks does seem like it would be irritating.

    Hell, given some of the stupidity that comes out of Ryuji’s mouth, the urge to put him through a wall might be too much to resist.
    For real?!

    “I’m a shapeshifter
    At Poe’s masquerade,
    Visualizing this in a deep baritone is fun.
    I suppose this gets more information about Mementos targets; Chihaya has a lot of missions to "change fate", and as we saw at the start, Godafrid has a bit of experience with that.

    Damosel of Cups seems fitting. I'm not sure on which layers I should read the "emotion, romance" elements there; Chihaya as a fortune teller tends to provide romantic advice a lot, and that may suffice.

  15. #115
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xamusel View Post
    That was rather good, Kieran. I'm glad you got this out, man.
    Thank you, glad you enjoyed it.



    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    Ah, it's canon now. Nice.
    Yeah. The level of canonicity is questionable - whether it's simply his subconscious prodding at him, or Frid is actually a Scion who discarded the Mantle of Krampus to try and adopt a different, more positive divine identity - I leave to you (for now, anyway) . . .


    I don't think it counts as cheating when you have two full scenes alongside it; I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the second.
    Thank you.


    It's been 5 days in-universe, so this is also after the Kasumi segment earlier. Since nothing notable happened during that time, being supernaturally antsy seems plausible. I didn't know about Essence Fever, but it's apparently more emphasized in 3E, and quite plausibly applies here. Not being able to do anything plot-relevant for a few more weeks does seem like it would be irritating.
    Yeah - it's also a reminder to myself that this is not SUPPOSED to be "The Frid Show." He's meant to be the mentor, not the hero - but at the same time, his power set and nature isn't inclined to being relegated to the background. Likewise, I need to work more of the Works into this, because that's why this story is here - it's just taking work because timeline-wise, it's too soon . . . But by the same token, ignoring them defeats the point; so I'm repeating it as much to myself so that it sinks in.



    For real?!
    He lives down to every possible social expectation and complains that no one listens to him or takes him seriously, rails against "shitty adults" as a blanket group, and reveals the group's identity as the Phantom Thieves no less than THREE times across the series because his mouth works faster (or instead of) his brain. . .

    Now admittedly, he's a teenager, and going through his Confidant may reveal more depth to him (I never have), but the traditional animosity between Ryuji and Morgana will not be hard to fake here, because I really do think he needs a smack upside the head periodically. It's just that with Frid's current build, it's literally possible for him to take Ryuji's head off in the process - which, as the (theoretically) more mature of the two, he's concerned about.


    Visualizing this in a deep baritone is fun.
    Yeah - for better or worse, I have a habit of getting into songs better sung by sopranos than my actual vocal range . . . And the fact that this song could basically be Frid's theme music is a bit of self-amusement on his part.


    I suppose this gets more information about Mementos targets; Chihaya has a lot of missions to "change fate", and as we saw at the start, Godafrid has a bit of experience with that.
    Well, when looking for guidance, why not consult the actual psychic . . .?


    Damosel of Cups seems fitting.
    Yeah - I'm going to use "Damosel" in place of "Knight," when dealing with a female personification. Hopefully, I can manage an even split . . . In any case, my biggest issue was deciding where she fell in the rankings - Chihaya is presumed to be in her early 20s, which doesn't quite track with the "mature woman" the Queen traditionally represents. On the other hand, as you noted earlier, Caren is also a shoo-in for this suit; and possibly not quite young enough for the "Page" position . . .? Still, it looks like she might end up there by default, assuming she doesn't somehow qualify for a different category altogether.




    I'm not sure on which layers I should read the "emotion, romance" elements there; Chihaya as a fortune teller tends to provide romantic advice a lot, and that may suffice.
    Hard to say, for now. Everyone he connects with has at least one element in common with their corresponding Arcana; Lala, for example, is a businesswoman and Frid's employer, and thus connects to Coins/Pentacles through the concept of "material wealth/possessions." For her part, Chihaya is a psychic, obviously - which Caren could also connect to Cups through, but as the Cups suit also represents "the clergy," she's got an in there, as well.

    And insofar as the romance element applies (assuming I'm not misreading your meaning) . . . I've talked before about Frid's potential romantic options (or lack thereof), and I'm still vacillating on the idea - but part of any final decision I make is contingent on Joker's chosen romance path. Is there any particular pairing that people prefer, in that regard . . .? Sumire is, admittedly, theoretically the canon pairing as of Royal, but we all know there are ways around that - and I do recall somebody making a joke about Joker aiming for the "harem" Valentine scene (intentionally or not).

    . . . Still, on reflection, I really should've asked sooner - live and learn.


    In other news, I think I'm going to have to officially go to a 2-week update schedule. I don't want to, because it makes justifying putting it off further MUCH too easy, but between the complexity of writing this one, and my wrist (which the Advil helps with, and I think I've identified what set it off, but really fixing the issue will take a while), I think I'm going to have to - sorry.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




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

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




  16. #116
    Kamen Rider fan-writer Xamusel's Avatar
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    I hope you have a chance to give us an update on what's going on with you now, Kieran. We want the best for you, man.
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    Hmm... this is a bit of a surprise these days.

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  17. #117
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xamusel View Post
    I hope you have a chance to give us an update on what's going on with you now, Kieran. We want the best for you, man.
    Wrist has been flaring on and off all week - I've got about 20% of the next chapter written. I'll get it done when I can, sorry.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




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

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




  18. #118
    Kamen Rider fan-writer Xamusel's Avatar
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    Ouch... sorry to hear that, man, really.
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    Hmm... this is a bit of a surprise these days.

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  19. #119
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Appreciate it. And now I've caught a cold - so no chapter today, either, because I'll be in bed, sorry.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




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

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




  20. #120
    Kamen Rider fan-writer Xamusel's Avatar
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    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.
    Xamusel's Fanfiction Profile

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

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




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

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