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Thread: (Bi)Monthly Don't-Create-A-Servant Contest

  1. #201
    邪魔 Spanner Random's Avatar
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    Yeah of course bro, you can read it here

    Fate\last call
    night, dawn, and the birth of stars

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    Recent: Ch. ■
    next arc: Spring 2024

  2. #202
    Local Extra Class Aficionado DelRey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Random View Post
    Yeah of course bro, you can read it here
    "Let's see the color of your coin, my friend."



    Behold my vault of Heroes.
    Where the Heavens and the Abyss breath the Music of Humanity.


    The King's duty is to provide. And provide, I shall.
    University of Formatting | Gallery of Potential | Memorandum of the Extra Class Kings

    Our Kingdom will grow. And we shall know each citizen.
    Create-a-Servant 4 soon.

  3. #203
    هههههههههههههههههههه Kamera's Avatar
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    Total scam. Only 1/3 of the product. Wouldn't recommend.
    Check out the officialTM Create-a-Servant discord server









    Blindfold your eyes, so that the approaching night may strike no fear in you.
    Let it not burden your soul, nor numb your strides.

  4. #204
    鬼 Ogre-like You's Avatar
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    https://apps.atlasacademy.io/db/NA/script/0300100761 [General information about witches]

    Da Vinci Akuta Hinako. She got her start in Yumina, the Botany Department, which is tied to the studies of witches at the Clock Tower.
    Da Vinci She used to be part of Chaldea's engineering team, before her latent talents were spotted and she was added to the pool of Master candidates.
    Woodwose Guh... Gah... Ah... Ah...
    ...Ah...
    Beryl All riiight! Way to go, Lady Spinel! That was perfect!
    Beryl I knew you had the makings of a witch in you! You pulled off my granny's old curse like it was nothing!
    Tam Lin Tristan R-really? I'm glad to hear that, but also kind of...not?
    Tam Lin Tristan Whatever I just did, it felt super gross. I don't think I wanna do that again...
    Beryl Don't worry! You can't! It was a secret art, and you can only cast it once in a lifetime!
    Beryl ('Cause casting it literally rots your soul. If you want to try it out, best to let someone else do it.)
    Beryl Now here, let me have that, Princess. It's still beating pretty strong, right?
    Beryl That's not the kind of thing you should be carrying around with your beautiful fingers.
    Tam Lin Tristan ...Okay. I really like the way this thing feels, but if you insist.
    Tam Lin Tristan What is it, anyway? Woodwose's liver or something?
    Beryl Oh, something like that.
    Beryl Remember when I told you about how Proper Human History witches can turn into animals?
    Beryl There's a lot of pieces that go into that spell, and it's not the kind of thing you can cast in a day...
    Beryl But where there's a will, there's a faster way.
    Like so.
    Beryl It's not easy collecting and eating the parts of the creatures you want to become, but it's definitely the quickest way.
    As the boy told me this,
    he stroked a pendant he wore around his neck.
    Kirschtaria ...Well I'll be.
    Even though I couldn't use magecraft at the time, I could still tell that the boy was holding a Mystic Code of concealment.
    What's more, it was an antique of incredible value:
    A talisman that belonged to a sect of witches who have been living in England's deepest forests since even before the Clock Tower was founded.
    Q: Is Zelretch's name that well known?

    Nasu: Old bloodlines teach their children his name, and even young families have heard that "in the Clock Tower the great magician who led the World of Magecraft into battle long ago is still alive". Those who rise to the rank of Cause may eventually hear of another Magician by the name of Yumina.
    Takeuchi: Is Zelretch still a vampire in Fate worlds?
    Nasu: No, but he's got something along the lines of immortality all the same.
    Q: There are various departments in the Clock Tower, but what department did Zolgen Makiri belong to when he was in the Clock Tower? Since he had written a paper about Ghost Liners, was he in Spiritual Evocation? <Silver Moon Madao>

    Nasu: Likely Botany and Curses. He probably reached the Einzbern as part of the research to reach the Root, and thought he could prove the existence of Ghost Liners which are a permanent and not temporary way for a soul to be.
    Takeuchi: So Heroic Spirit summons are all thanks to Einzbern?
    Nasu: Heroic Spirit summons in itself is Magecraft from the Clock Tower. Einzbern are descendants of alchemists that succeeded just once in the "materialization of a soul". So it all stems from the hypothesis that if you have the Einzbern system (Holy Grail) you can summon a Heroic Spirit which was previously thought to be impossible.
    Takeuchi: I see. That's it. Did you get that, Madao?
    Quote Originally Posted by Heroic Spirit Lore ~Henry Jekyll/Hyde~
    Month ■, Day ■

    The salt I ordered from Messrs. Maw finally arrived. The compounding of the drug that can chemically alter the human mind will now commence.

    Month ■, Day ■

    First phase of compounding, successful. I am much obliged to the Archelot House’s cooperation. I have promised them a check of 20 thousand pounds as well as a detailed documentation of the results of the experiment.
    Judging by the angle of the sun peaking in through the window, it was still afternoon. It seemed like I had dozed off for about two hours. With a deep breath, I began massaging my cheeks.

    "Marks, huh..."

    I wasn't old enough to be truly concerned about it, but the day when I would have to start looking for magecraft to stave off the signs of ageing came was only a matter of time. The skills of those like Maio who we had met earlier, were often in great demand as long as they could put out results, so anti-aging had become a rather significant source of income for the
    Yumina
    Faculty of Botany
    .

    Thinking of that, I realized something.
    Though I couldn't figure out why on earth there needed to be zombies involved in a cooking show, I felt like it was in poor taste to bring that up now. Beyond that, my weakness was more for ghosts or spirits, so zombies weren't something that particularly bothered me.

    At any rate, as I tried my best to absorb this new information, I couldn't help but mutter.

    "A magus, on television...?"

    "It's not like it's impossible.
    Yumina
    The Faculty of Botany's
    Archelot has been playing with the TV Media for a while now, after all."

    As I stared blankly, my master added his own comments.

    Though that seemed to me to be something more fitting for the Faculty of Law, I suppose they didn't have a monopoly on it or anything. Within many different factions, there was a desire to control information with their own hands - and though other magi might consider it only a mundane affair, what resulted was a situation where magi struggled against each other right near the surface of society.
    Quote Originally Posted by FSF 5, Chapter 14: Gold and Lions I
    Dumas flashed a fearless grin at Flat and Jack as he rattled off odd turns of phrase.
    "And most importantly, it's me who'll be doing the cooking."
    Though abandoned, forgotten, and scorned as out-of-date dolls, they continue to carry out their mission, unchanged from the time they were designed.
    Machines do not lose their worth when a newer model appears.
    Their worth (life) ends when humans can no longer bear that purity.


  5. #205
    世はまさにパンテオン Comun's Avatar
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    I just remembered Mahoyo has one important line about witches that I was pretty unsatisfied with the loc's take on.
    Quote Originally Posted by Original
    多くの器物、多くの童話を再現する代償として、魔女は人間を嫌うものなのだ。
    Quote Originally Posted by Aniplex's rendition
    The young witch despised humans, having recreated so many of their objects and fairy tales.
    Quote Originally Posted by My rendition
    Witches hate humans. It's a necessary price to be paid if they want to replicate their many objects and fairy tales.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dullahan View Post
    Some pantheons are depicted as Tamamo, while others are only potentially Tamamo.

  6. #206
    夜属 Nightkin GilgameshKingOfMemes's Avatar
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    The Witch Flower
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Kay Hugues Boissieu



    “You cannot deny, my dear friend, that there are in existence creatures who are neither man nor beast, but strange unearthly creations, born of the nefarious passions that arise in distorted minds….. I often wonder, if such a thing is truly me.

    Gender: Male
    Birthdate: December 7th
    Age: 43
    Height/Weight: 179cm/78kg
    Birthplace: France


    Magical Attributes
    Elemental Attribute: Fire

    Magic Circuits
    Circuit Quantity: B+
    Circuit Quality:B+
    Circuit Composition: Standard


    Background
    Background

    “...And it was summer, - warm, beautiful summer…. The last summer of my life.

    The Boissieu Family

    A noble lineage with a history of around a thousand years, the Boissieu have remained entrenched with the Botany department for numerous generations. Over the centuries they have procured a number of exclusive patents based around the plant life they cultivate, though most of them are of the niche variety. These limitations have made it hard for the family to sustain itself fully on just their original creations, and have thus been known to indulge more common sources of income such as life extension.

    The main practice of the Boissieu family is the growth of plant based familiars which excel in mimicry. Their path to the Fount encompasses cultivating a perfect mimicry of themselves. A transformation into an idealized form that is them in every way that matters, but better in all the ways they seek. Essentially, it would be to overlap themselves with a mimicry of humanity far better fit for reaching the Root than humans are themselves.

    Kay

    The decrepit magus who now oversees the Boissieu estate aligns with his parents' recent passing. A person who brings with them a depressing aura, seemingly unable to see the good in the world any longer. A sunken, frail man who seems to so naturally suck the air out of the room. While perhaps no one’s friend, it doesn’t mean he isn’t well liked. Talented but not a genius, they are someone who still receives notable praise for being a magus of ideal mentality and efficiency. They are able to get far because they, as far as the world of magi is concerned, can always make the right choices as a magus.

    Though it’s hard to imagine that an ideal magus is something someone would truly want to be. Or perhaps Kay simply isn’t meant for the role. It is simply the way things are, and all the contradictions that might entail. Could he really live any other way? The fact that he does not is surely his answer.

    When not managing the business of the family, Kay mostly remains a sheltered academic hidden far out in a deep and snowy forest. A distant little world famous for its magical qualities, not unlike a fairy tale…

    The Witch

    There was once a Witch who lived on a mountain overlooking the Boissieu estate. A creature which with the encroachment of civilization into its domain, slowly mingled with humans. First by necessity, secondly by desire. In the eyes of many it was a disgraceful destruction of the self, like a god falling to mortality, the beings' delving into humanity was a humiliation. Even so the Magi of the land did not despise the fallen Witch, and in turn she could slowly mingle with them.

    A Witch was the most useful kind of mystery the family could stumble upon. A magical being capable of far more than their meager mortality could carry them, their craft was elevated by her presence. It was said this union had saved the family from a slow decline. With the loss of the last heir and the faltering foundation in which the generations had staked their livelihoods, they had expected to fade away in the decades to come, slowly buried under snow. Yet the Witch had saved them. To her, they owed everything.

    Yet to bond with humans is to taint the Witch and rot the soul. Though perhaps lured in by the warmth of civilization, such desire simply burns her. Her time in the world wouldn’t be long, though surely couldn’t regret the day regardless. Her final wish was to thus return to the Earth like the Witches which left her behind before decay had fully taken hold.

    “So let us return you to the Earth.”

    They were Magi to the end. The hunger of their life's purpose weighed more heavily upon them than anything else. When the Witch had become too human and wished to return to the Earth, then will return her to the Earth with the mentality of magi who can never let go of anything. They would take her body and blood, for that was more valuable than her absence.



    Familiar
    Familiars

    “A magus must never lose sight of the goal. They must act with dignity, moving with efficiency towards the one dream we are permitted to carry, handed down by someone else. ”

    Mandrake

    The type of familiar which the Boissieu family specializes in and a kind of homunculus called an Alraune. Unlike other homunculi they are beings which are grown from the ground, a magical plant which mimics humans through blood to the point of becoming “nearly human” in a process that can be described as similar to cloning. This process fundamentally limits the capacity for magic circuits but makes them more malleable and receptive of inhuman traits and characteristics that might be spliced in.

    Unlike regular homunculi they are entities which are active mimicries and whose inhuman nature can bubble forth to the surface if given enough time.


    Mandragora

    Sometimes called a demon, a Mandragora is the form of Mandrake who has strengthened its own existence as a lifeform and garnered enough experience to develop a true ego. The cry which can kill men when uprooted is sometimes said to come from a demon and originates as a curse from the remaining inhuman factors of the plant within the homunculus. A homunculus who grows too far and develops through the natural generation of experience would become an existence far closer to that of a mixed blood and can even experience an inversion impulse. Generally a magus would shorten the Mandrakes lifespan to the point that they would not develop to such a state, but it isn’t impossible to use a Mandragora as a familiar either. It’s all about the risk the Magus is willing to endure for the sake of their goal.


    Alraune
    The Witch Flower




    The masterwork of the Boissieu family, a Mandrake based not on the mere blood of a human, but rather the blood of a Witch. When the Witch who remained with them finally wilted and withered, they were left to mourn their loss and choices through the things that did linger. They had procured the blood of a witch, a seed from which they could grow The Witch Flower Alraune. The witch returned to the Earth, and from the Earth she would be born anew.

    Thus through much labor, a Mandrake unlike any other was cultivated. While it resembled and mimicked the Witch, it was clearly a patchwork monstrosity. A demonic plant which made the foundation, and bits of humanity to stabilize it. Alraune is a hybrid of a very unnatural variety. Still, she is destined to be Witch regardless of the alterations, it is a fate decided by their blood from before they are born. Though artificially created, it can certainly qualify as the next generation of the Witch.

    It is a familiar of exceptional capability, soullessly and emotionlessly carrying out the will of its creator. Like the legends before it, The Witches offspring will have no feelings of love or soul to guide them. A fairy of great power, but no remaining will, becoming malleable and obedient. In many ways it is the perfect familiar for a magus to desire……..


    “I didn’t have the heart for her to hate me. I did not have the will for her to love me. So close to crumbling inwards, I could only bear nothing at all. Yet absence makes a man hollow.”


    Rather than being a familiar which truly has no feelings, emotions are offloaded into lesser homunculi. This keeps the soul of Alraune pure for the actual impact of experience is instead offloaded into another vessel. Experiences are an inherent part of living and in order for a homunculus to be used experiences must be had. So to bypass this inevitably the actual impact of something Alraune encounters will merely be experienced by something else. Many of the Homunculi created in order to hold these experiences will quickly expire once their purpose is fulfilled and their bodies are recycled for magical parts. The pure life of one singular experience or emotion can prove valuable in the right hands and is the industry which fuels the Boissieu family's patents.

    This process also serves to preserve the nature of the Witch that encompasses Alarune’s being. Normally a Witches soul would rot through experiences such as love for human beings, but Alarune’s human components serve as an inherent compromising factor in this dynamic, making such an end all the more likely. Thus the denial of emotion essentially serves as the stabilizing factor, a Witches soul will not decay if it could never experience love to begin with.

    Even so, no transferal project couldn’t prove perfect. Regardless of what they may try, gradually, little glimpses of experiences accumulate threatening the stability of the familiar.


    Mandrake Heart

    The special kind of Mandrake the Boissieu has cultivated to specifically hold another person's emotions. It simply takes the creature's mimicry to another level, stealing the experience or emotions of a target for itself. This kind of familiar can be classified as parasitic, and the Witch Flower is even capable of growing them from herself. The Boissieu family holds the creation under a patent, often serving as means for magi to offload problems like pain into another vessel. They are split into a number of specializations in order to avoid absorbing the wrong feeling.

    As a safety feature they are designed to expire shortly after absorbing the kind emotion they are meant to and if left to their own devices would only last a period of about 2 weeks. While this is mainly to prevent one from potentially evolving Mandragora, it results in high costs for the Boissieu family as an untold number of the creatures are burned through in order to maintain Alraune.


    The Devil's Mirror

    “Never again shall the world look the same. I am just seeing things the way they are.”

    The witches magic of fairy tales, now falling into the possession of Alraune. It is a mirror which reflects a world without good and strengthens all things considered evil and ugly. It is another world which mimics all evil things as considered by the onlooker and can distort the world with the exaggerated evils locked within. It is a biased mirror with a filter that reflects someone's personal perspective rather than the truth of feeling. However, if it is even turned towards the sky, it will shatter into a thousand pieces and launch itself in every direction, with a tendency to hit people. The shattering can be considered the entity's true purpose.

    Those who bear a piece of the mirror will have their entire world distorted and become a vessel for the power of the mirror, filtering their very perception of the world like a mystic eye. However their psyche remains fundamentally altered and they turn into aggressive beasts unlike their original selves. However expressions of love towards an afflicted person will cause the mirror to dislodge itself returning them to normal.


    The Snow Queen

    “The Witch's heart had been Frozen over, never to feel again.”



    The counterpart to The Devil's Mirror, a familiar which traps the area in an eternal frost and can freeze those who come near it. The very snowflakes it generates are alive, and though weak as familiars grow quite powerful through sheer numbers. The Snow Queen lacks a heart and operates as an intelligent and logical being as if it were a computer program, controlling its harsh winter with utmost efficiency.

    The most powerful effect of this entity is that its cold winter denies things its “specialness.” It’s an entity which can be described as the enemy of romanticism and hope and reduces all things to their real and most base parts. In effect the entity could be described as anti-mystery, flipping anything which can be considered unique or special on its head rendering it functionally mundane. It’s the sort of ability which grows in proportion to the strength of the opponent and will often fall victim to the weakest or most mundane amongst us.

    Yet like the fairy tale from which it draws from, its undoing is the very thing it seeks to deny. Only the strongest of loves and hopes can thaw the frozen winter, and with just these feelings alone will the Snow Queen melt away.


    Inevitably.

    “Every time I see the Snow Queen, I remember that one day spring will come and all things will melt away…”

    Inevitably, for its life span is too long, Alraune will become a Mandragora. It is not about if but when, for unless it is terminated it will eventually generate enough gradual experience to start the formation of a self. All the feels which had been subdued will one day blossom despite the darkness Kay has kept them in. An inversion impulse of something like a Witch can only be feared and Kay sees it as merely destiny after everything.

    He is not brave enough to face the look in her eyes after all this time, but one day it will come. And then, all will end.



    Authors Comment
    Authors Comment:

    I wasn't planning on entering this month cause I spent all my Witch content on The Witch and the Dark Forest, but then I got a very quick idea so here it is. Just going pretty simple this time so it's more of a light sheet compared to the others I've done.



  7. #207
    不死 Undead PA270's Avatar
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    Kay Hughes Boisseiu: What a fantastic entry this was! It's definitely on the lighter side compared to your other entries, but everything here is pristine and perfect! And the fairy tale connections were utterly fantastic as well! Thank you so much for writing this, as you helped re-inspire me to get my own entry out there!

  8. #208
    鬼 Ogre-like You's Avatar
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    Stop the Steal

    1 week extension
    Quote Originally Posted by FSF 5, Chapter 14: Gold and Lions I
    Dumas flashed a fearless grin at Flat and Jack as he rattled off odd turns of phrase.
    "And most importantly, it's me who'll be doing the cooking."
    Though abandoned, forgotten, and scorned as out-of-date dolls, they continue to carry out their mission, unchanged from the time they were designed.
    Machines do not lose their worth when a newer model appears.
    Their worth (life) ends when humans can no longer bear that purity.


  9. #209
    後継者 Successor Bugs's Avatar
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    October 11th, London

    I saw her when the tube ran late.

    Something which shouldn’t happen–in theory–given the unending stream of people in and out of Regent’s Park station. A hub of human activity of such constant fervency that a train failing to appear on time is a mistake that affects potentially thousands. Every effort is thus taken by the City of Westminster to keep things running smoothly, as failure is comparable to the loss of a critical organ within the living, breathing organism that is London.

    But still, only so many variables can be accounted for at once. Ask any Brit off the street, and they’re liable to have a personal anecdote relating to a bit of construction underground keeping them from an appointment, or some such. This attitude that bends toward the lackadaisical makes itself most well known round midnight, when the traffic surrounding the station is at its lowest.

    It’s about 5AM when I hustle up the stairs and immediately make a sharp right turn down Park Crescent. It’s a bit annoying that the closest station isn’t very close at all, requiring that I double back and cross several other hectic roads before I’m able to reach my true destination.

    Park Crescent turns into Park Square West after narrowly avoiding death while crossing the A501 section of the Inner Ring Road. Later in the day, this area will become filthy with the usual bustle of tourists and people far too important for me to even dare making eye contact with, but for now the wide sidewalk is almost completely empty.

    Park Square, the little sibling to Regent’s Park proper, sits barely separated and confined on all sides like a trapped amoeba. It would save an enormous amount of time on my walk if I was able to cross through the beautiful slice of nature that is Park Square Gardens, but unfortunately the entire place is privately owned. A neat little wrought-iron sign informs the average idiot that the gardens are for KEY HOLDERS ONLY, and that they should PLEASE CLOSE THE GATE, all courtesy of the Crown Estate Paving Commission.

    But that’s fine. My true destination is on Park Square West anyway. As I jog down to the corner of Ulster Terrace, I take notice of the lighting. Cars flit by my left, while darkness pervades to my right.

    In art study, this is called chiaroscuro. It follows the use of strong contrasts between light and shadow, and originated in the Renaissance. Though the term is used primarily for paintings and woodcuts, it also applies to the film industry as well. Which is what I’m here for.

    Every year in October, Park Square West is transformed from a somewhat ordinary London road into a global center for the arts known as Frieze London. As part of my university’s film program, I’m here to film the goings on of the festival. Permission to film the festival professionally is apparently pretty difficult to come by, so it was lucky that my classmates and I were able to snag a spot. Now if only they’d cut me some slack on being late.

    After putting up with their ribbing and double-checking that all of our equipment was properly covered, as rain was expected later, I found myself leaning on a wall, gazing off to my right at the verdant stripe of Regent’s Park proper. All the b-roll we’d wanted to get filmed of the festival’s setup process was all done by now, but people weren’t expected to start showing up for another few hours. After a brief heads-up to my classmates, I’m off.

    Though half the size of Central Park over in the States, the size of Regent’s Park is still enough to be stunning. 410 acres of lush greenery extends further than the eye can see, the park itself being so massive as to be split between Westminster and Camden. I’m not usually one to spend too much time wandering around parks, but I figure it’s a decent chance for an extra hour of peace before the city really starts to wake up. Besides, a cameraman never shies away from a setting like this. Professors go gaga over “meaningful nature videos,” whatever that exactly means. Silently, I thank Sir Attenborough for the free cheat code to a good grade.

    It’s still quiet out, though a few joggers pass me by on my way deeper into the park. Soon, the rain forecasted earlier begins to drizzle down between the high leaves of the oak trees lining the perimeter of this particular walkway. It’s not like I’m unused to the rain, but still, I turn around and begin picking my way back to the Frieze.

    Finding my way back is more difficult than I would like. Between the utter size of the park and all of its winding pathways, I soon feel as though I’m getting lost. I’m not too worried yet, as I know my classmates can handle any of the festival’s beginning filming without me. But damn it, I’m not going to be late twice in one day.

    I almost ran into her in my half-crazed run back toward what I assumed was the park’s entrance. A solitary figure, a girl about my height calmly strolling along gazing up at the trees. An umbrella shields her from the rain, so clearly I’m the only one in the park who didn’t plan accordingly.

    She turns at the sound of my stomping footsteps, brilliant blue eyes gazing at some distant point behind me before she seems to finally notice my presence. The second my eyes meet hers, I feel every drop of my blood instantly freeze solid. My airways constrict, and I can feel my lungs inflating in protest. What the hell. Am I dying?

    She’s beautiful.

    Like something out of a movie poster. Were they filming something for Hollywood here in London? Crap, I’d better get out of the shot.

    “Uh…sorry.” I mumble, casting about looking for the camera crew that was clearly filming this girl. A few drizzling seconds confirmed I had actually not managed to become an unintentional movie extra, which made the situation all the more baffling. Where was her boyfriend? Girlfriend? Devoted entourage?

    Well, it’d be doubly strange to apologize and then continue to stare at her like a gormless idiot. Sheepishly, I begin to shuffle away. Internally, I curse myself stupid. If she really wasn’t an actress, then she should be. I’d gladly be her manager for dirt cheap. Hell, I’d be happy with just her phone number.

    “Wait.”

    I snap to attention. It feels like cool water that spills out of her mouth, washing over me in a refreshing, steady stream compared to the tat-tat-tat of the rain. I have no choice but to remain where I am. Partially because she’s currently gripping my face with her delicate hands, umbrella tucked under her arm.
    I try not to get my inferior breath on her, but this situation is quickly getting out of hand. Just then, another early morning visitor to the park intrudes on this bizarre scene. A young woman, tanned and wielding a hooded pram, jogs past directly behind me. The girl’s eyes seem to unfocus, thin eyebrows knitting into a scowl as her attention is drawn to the young mother already disappearing further into the mist.

    “It’s no good…they still all look the same.”

    …It should go without saying that I look nothing like a young mother, tanned or otherwise. Could it be that she has weak eyes? Actually, what’s all this “they” business, as if I’m not standing right here?

    No, actually I’ve seen this before. Well, on TV, but it still counts. Face blindness. Also known as prosopagnosia. Apparently, it’s such a specific condition that it doesn’t impact the function of the brain much at all. Just a single hole in an otherwise normal person’s perception. The guy on the BBC show couldn’t even recognize himself in a mirror. It sounds terrifying.

    Ah, crap. She’s making a really concerned face. Well, what am I supposed to do? I can’t exactly help someone’s condition I know nothing about. I’m no doctor, just a cameraman. Still, as a man, I feel like I should say something.

    “Hey, hey. It’s fine. Uh, people say I’ve got a really forgettable face all the time, so…”

    “Quiet.”

    I gulp, once again compelled by some primordial force tickling my bone marrow to comply. The girl’s face is downcast, looking off to the side into the distance. For some reason, I get the feeling that she’s not actually talking to me, but that the words coming out of her mouth are still for my benefit.

    “It’s no good. When there’s one of you lot, it’s easy to focus. But as soon as another rolls along, it becomes so…bloody difficult to keep focus.” An irritated sigh escapes her lips. “But that’s what I get for expecting too much from insects.”

    Whoa whoa whoa. Insects? Did I hear her right? Is this the kind of person she actually is? If so, I’ve seriously misjudged this girl. Not only that, but I’ve seen enough TV to know that scary women like this are likely to pull a knife on you for no reason.

    Instinctively, I throw both of my hands into the air. A step back breaks the girl’s grip on my chin, casting me back into the morning rain. There’s nobody around now, and the nearest call box is out at the entrance to the park. Something about not wanting to dilute the scenery. Typical.

    I’m about to give her a piece of my mind when her laughter interrupts me. Surprisingly deep, the cream cuff of her jacket held in front of her mouth like some kind of posh stereotype.

    “A joke, just a joke! Though admittedly it might not have been very funny.”

    There was no apology and no sense from her tone that she intended one. Even still, I warily lower my arms. Was I the one mistaken? Upper crust humor might as well come from a different planet, clearly.

    “Call it a toll for passing by my front yard.”

    Wait. What?

    Regent’s Park, along with Park Square West, contain a handful of properties worth several million pounds. Mostly, they’re inhabited by celebrities, business tycoons, and even a few foreign politicians. Hell, the only time I paid attention was when David Beckham moved in a few years back.

    Clearly enjoying my discomfort, the girl throws a thumb over her shoulder. Following the direction indicated, I realize we’ve been standing in front of a neat white fence. Several hundred meters in the distance, nestled among oak trees and half-covered in moss, is the biggest mansion I’ve ever seen in my life.

    I’m awestruck, of course, but things are also starting to piece themselves together in my head. She must be the daughter of…well, somebody. Celebrities, as a general rule, can be pretty strange. Thinking of it like that, I can accept her behavior a bit more readily.

    A rather humble sign perched on the fence reads “Roxbrough.” It was my understanding turnover in these kinds of residences was pretty frequent, but the sign and the building itself gave the appearance that this particular family had been here for quite some time.

    “You’re…a Roxbrough?” I tried desperately to keep the fact I had no idea who these people were out of my voice. “What’s your name?”

    She frowned once more, hand on her chin.

    “Witch A was before the time of modern humans. Witch B was a bit more recent, but still far older than your entire bloodline. Witch C was immediately before me…”

    “Therefore, you can call me ‘Dee.’”

    Witch. Uh huh. Sure. Whatever you say, crazy-but-beautiful-lady. This must be another one of her incredibly out of touch jokes, but I have absolutely no idea how to tell her it’s completely nonsensical to an ordinary person like me.

    “Dee. Miss Dee Roxbrough, I should say. It’s surely been a pleasure (I think) but I really should be going…” The sun may be terminally hidden by cloud cover here in London, but it’s pretty easy to tell that early-morning is transitioning quickly to mid-morning. I need to get back to my classmates at the Frieze.

    “Sure. Return to your colony, little ant.”

    Okay. Now I’m starting to get a little mad.

    “Excuse me, milady, but my name is Thomas. I know you never asked, but it’s customary among you pampered lot to at least pretend like the rest of us aren’t scum.”

    “Oh. Milady. I quite like that.”

    This girl…

    Rather than become irritated in return, she looks sad? But that’s quickly wiped away, returning to the same distantly serene expression I found on her.

    “I really thought I might have found my favorite human.”

    She’s turned her back to me, wistfully gazing back at her enormous home. Once again, it’s more like she’s speaking out loud and I happen to be nearby, rather than being actually addressed.

    “I was curious, you see. Curious to see how you lived. Humans share the same curiosity for ants, don’t they? A thousand, million individuals, all milling about their little anthills. I wanted to see what life was like in the land of the insects.”

    “I thought that, maybe, I would be able to discover an ant that would make a particular impression on me. One I could call my favorite. But unfortunately, it’s impossible.”

    “Even were I to focus with all my might on a single ant among thousands, it’s so incredibly difficult to keep track. Therefore, I reasoned that separation from the colony was necessary for proper elucidation. That’s when I happened upon you.”

    “But even then, ants aren’t altogether dissimilar from one another. Mostly, their first reaction is to look for others of their kind. Ants are ultimately afraid. Every action is taken to reduce potential threats to the colony, and thus the individual is insulated.”

    “And that’s why your entire species is incredibly, unavoidably, boring.”



    I don’t know what to say.

    I don’t think there’s anything I can say.

    “Well? Run along. Return to your post, little drone. I’ll forget about you the same way memories of me will fade from your mind as well. That’s just how it is.”

    No, I don’t think there’s anything on Earth that could make me forget this conversation.

    “Does it have to be? I mean, what happens if you were to find your…favorite human?”

    She actually looks thoughtful. Maybe I’m getting through? I still have no idea what kind of mental illness she has, but playing to her delusions might be the smartest move, at least for now.

    “Hmm. A human I could truly tell apart from the crowd? If a human could really occupy my mind in such a way…”

    She steps forward suddenly, pressing her body into mine. My mind blanks as it fills with her scent, her gentle voice whispering in my ear:

    “I would crush it under my heel unequivocally.”

    I can’t breathe.

    “Witches must hate your kind. That is reality.”

    A witch. She’s really a witch, like out of a fairytale? My skepticism melts by the second. The dull ache in the back of my skull is something I’m able to place; it’s the primordial, reptilian part of my brain screaming at me that what I’m standing in front of right now is something unnatural. Anathema to my identity as a human being.

    “...Why?” My voice is little more than a gurgle.

    She laughs at me again.

    “Why? Why do we hate–”

    “Why do witches…exist?”



    For a moment, I think I’m going to die. Instead, she leans her head on my shoulder. We stay like that for about a minute, appearing to the world at large like a pair of mismatched lovers. Only I know how hard my heart is beating.

    “Thomas, was it?”

    Moving like granite, I nod to the affirmative.

    “I meant what I said, you know. For my own safety, I’ll eradicate any human who makes enough of an impression on me. However…if a human can bear the full burden of my hatred, then my soul will remain intact.”

    I accept all of this. I still have no idea what any of it means, but for some reason receiving this kind of information all makes sense now.

    She pulls back, holding me at arm’s length, a hand digging around in her jacket. Gripping my own hand in her thin fingers, she turns it so the palm faces upward, and drops something in my hand. I shiver, automatically assuming it’s something like a bone or some other macabre item.

    Glancing down, I can’t believe it’s something so ordinary. An acorn? I must have stepped on a hundred just walking through the park today. I turn it around in my fingers slowly, looking for something noticeably strange. But no, it’s a completely ordinary acorn, as far as my senses will tell me.

    “Keep that with you. Acorns are kernels of growth incarnate, symbolizing good fortune. If we were to meet again, you’d be nothing but another dull insect to my eyes. That will help me recognize you.”

    I open my mouth in protest, but nothing comes out. I hadn’t agreed to be the subject of this inhuman creature’s hatred. Why the hell would I ever want something like that?

    Ultimately, what angered me the most was the fact everything she said was correct. My own reactions proved her theory within minutes of meeting me, for God’s sake. So maybe it’s my pride as a human being that caused me to pocket that acorn.

    Whatever my personal feelings, Dee looks content with my decision. She parts from me completely with a rather formal pat on my shoulder.

    “Right. Off with you then. This time I mean it.”

    I nod dumbly, still staring at the acorn in my curled fist. I see movement in my peripheral vision, and when I look up, the girl known as Dee Roxbrough is gone.

    The rest of that day was memorable in its own way, of course. The filming session of the London Frieze went spectacularly, everything went off without a hitch. I think it’s likely my group will receive solid marks on the film. My classmates are even recommending I market it around as an independent film entry. I could even win a contest with it, maybe.

    But it’s no use. Even years later, I can only remember that day as the time I met a genuine Witch.


    “If humans be but ants, what does that make me? Myself, and all previous egos who were also ‘myself.’ I think…cicadas. Rarely heard from, we reveal ourselves only to breed. Then back we go, beneath the earth for another 17 years.”

    Dee Roxbrough

    Alias/Nickname: DD, Fallen Scarecrow
    Age: 20
    Height: 5’6”
    Weight: 120 lbs
    Birthplace: East Midlands, England
    Alignment: True Neutral
    Image CV: Ōhara Sayaka

    Likes: Interesting persons, fashion, insects
    Dislikes: Useless glut, unnecessary abstraction
    Natural Talents: Outfit composition
    Natural Weaknesses: Species-wide prosopagnosia
    Natural Enemy: Thomas Alva Edison

    Affiliations: Department of Botany, Clock Tower
    Origin: Harvest
    Elemental Alignment: Earth and Fire
    Bloodline (Crest Location): Roxbrough (Left Thumb)
    Circuit Quantity/Quality: B / A
    Circuit Composition: Significant mutation
    Thaumaturgical Foundation: Witchcraft
    Day of Decisive Battle: Early Spring, as Viewed Through Limited Aperture




    The Earth, Tilled

    Dee is a student of Botany at the Clock Tower, and a descendant of the harvest witches that originated at the dawn of human society.

    Subsistence farming was once the primary method for humans to obtain food. After the end of the last Ice Age, the planet was subjected to long, dry periods which favored annual plants over perennials. These annual plants would leave behind seeds or tubers, resulting in easily storable wild grains for the humans at the time. While “agriculture” as an easily identifiable system by modern standards grew from the Indus River Valley and the annual floodings of the Nile River roughly 10,000 years ago, humans were selectively gathering certain grains further than 100,000 years in the past.

    Along with this transition from hunter-gatherers to a more sedentary lifestyle came the development of culture. The exchange of individuals and ideas had never been as easy or prevalent up until this point in human history. Agriculture, as the cornerstone of daily life at that point in time, was understandably the focal point of human culture at large. This included some of the first stories.

    Stories are usually never written in a vacuum. Even if the reason is as simple as the author wished a certain type of story existed in the world, there is usually an accompanying justification for the existence of a fantastical tale. Many techniques and superstitions related to agriculture and farming began as practical knowledge communicated through aetiological stories. Each seed and its future was so precious to survival that failure on the part of the lazy or uninformed was unacceptable.

    In the shadow of this cultural revolution for an entire species, the harvest witches first appeared.

    A mutualistic relationship (read: parasitic) formed over time between the fairies which germinated in the wake of humanity’s rise to primacy, which included the harvest witches. The name harvest witch itself derives from the season in which they cornered as “theirs.” By selectively antagonizing and blessing these humans which the harvest witches chose, a form of ritualistic domestication was achieved.

    “Offer a piece of the harvest to the witches, or else the next one will be worse.”

    “Leave the door open when baking bread, let the witches enter as they please.”

    “Never purchase a broom in May, it will be bewitched.”

    There was little in the way of shared emotions between the two species. After all, humans were essentially livestock for the harvest witches to exploit at their leisure. With such a relationship, it shouldn’t be any wonder that they viewed themselves as tiny divinities.

    However, this begs the question as to their purity. Regardless of the feelings behind the relationship, the truth that the harvest witches fraternized with humans to an uncomfortable degree can’t be avoided. Witches like those of the Meinster bloodline, though they came into being centuries after the Roxborough bloodline, retain a purity that the harvest witches are incapable of reaching.

    As the witches “domesticated” humans for their own purposes, so too did the witches alter their ways in order to better capitalize on the relationship. From the outset, their behavior was more in line with lesser, simpler fairies than that of true Witches. The benefit was that the souls of the harvest witches were relatively durable. So long as the relationship was maintained at a proper distance, rot could easily be prevented before it took root.

    But this was arrogance. Human beings, as the Primates of the planet, possessed the ability to grow. While they were dutiful to the superstitions planted into their very genetic code by the harvest witches, this was by no means a permanent preventative measure.

    The core desire of every human is to live a happy life. The back-breaking labor of subsistence farming became increasingly untenable as the human population exploded in just a few short centuries. To mitigate this, humans turned to their tools. Up until the turn of the 18th century, even a task as laborious as threshing had been done by hand. No longer.

    The unlucky star known as the Industrial Revolution was beginning to rise.

    The mechanization of agriculture is often credited as one of the main pillars supporting a global increase in quality of life for people at the time. Though intellectuals and artists had been permitted to exist in the past due to an enormous disparity in wealth, the near-certainty of available sustenance allowed the rest of the human race to catch up.

    To the harvest witches, mechanization was anathema.

    It wasn’t the machines themselves that were the problem. Humans and tool use were a package deal, one hardly existed without the other. The problems arose when the relationship with those same tools changed. Agricultural work was no longer the duty of every living person looking to eat, but a specialized trade that required specialized tools. Commercial farming took the burden off of the everyday person, and the harvest witches suffered for it.

    It wouldn’t be accurate to call the aftermath a genuine extinction event, though it must have certainly felt like one. One by one, the harvest witches either fell to ruin among human society, or melded back into the Earth.

    The Roxbroughs endured as long as they could. Natives of the quickly urbanizing Britain, the noose in front of their collective necks seemed to have already been closed by the time they saw the threat for what it was. After contemplating and rejecting concealing themselves among the Witches of the End deep in the forests, the Roxbroughs hit upon a familiar solution.

    To get what they wanted, waiting on the sidelines as mankind passed them by wouldn’t do. Instead, like the freshly born soot witches, they embraced human society and all of the dangers that entailed. From an incredibly early age, the Roxbroughs positioned themselves as the arbiters of all things green.

    The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food.
    The Department of Environment, Transports, and the Regions.
    The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, which succeeded the previous.
    Even the London Green Spaces Commission. All of these and more had their roots in the machinations of the Roxbrough estate.

    Mankind was intent on modernizing? Fine. But it would be at the discretion of the harvest witches, same as it ever was.


    Pomegranate


    More than a magus, yet less than a Witch.

    An existence at odds with both the world of magecraft as well as the world where Witches dwell.

    A young woman balancing on a tightrope she’s hardly aware of.

    Unknown to her, but she’s already merely a human. Maybe she has an inkling, but no more. The harvest witches were barred from being true ladies of eternity from the very outset. The Archelots, the family with the most similar conditions to Dee’s own, already knew this truth. The soot witches faced the future, as they were born from a more recent paradigm shift.

    The harvest witches are the same. Though they had perhaps deluded themselves into believing they were organisms that belonged strictly to the past, were they not also born from a massive cultural upheaval? The only difference is the space and time in which it all occurred.

    With that taken into account, what the Roxbrough have managed to cultivate in Dee should be considered extraordinary. And utterly, utterly cruel.

    Dee’s face blindness–nay, a large part of what she considers common sense–is the product of a curse. Hypnosis applied to the child Roxbrough immediately upon her birth, the conceptions of a human were forcibly changed to something unrecognizable. This was to make room in Dee’s brain for the collected memories of her maternal ancestors; the ability to differentiate humans was deemed unnecessary–even harmful–and thus discarded. All of this was undertaken in the effort to “create” a Pure Witch.

    Of course, that’s impossible. Witches, as fairies, are products of the planet, not people. To the informed outsider, Dee must appear as something utterly loathsome.

    A tainted jewel, imprisoned behind iron bars. She is alone not because she wants to be, but because she must. The world at large isn’t something that rejects Dee on principle, but something that was cut off from her awareness at an age too early to know better.

    Even among the Clock Tower, she has few friends. Magi, recorded in Dee’s brain as a distinct species from mundane humanity, can be properly differentiated and recorded. Among the world of magecraft, then, is the only area where Dee’s “true” personality is allowed to blossom. Well, even then, it’s not particularly good.

    Using arrogance as both sword and shield, Dee’s core is deeply shy. She laughs cruelly at the misfortune of others, while hiding her fear of rejection. As both a magus and a woman, Dee feels unsure of herself as a natural emotion. She can never be what she’s intended to be, nor can she truly return to what she was. Dee exists in a state of limbo occupied only by herself. She will always be the girl staring out of the gate surrounding her Regent’s Park home, unable to touch what lies beyond yet seeing nothing familiar behind her.

    That being said, it’s not all bad. A studious, meticulous person by nature, Dee is at the very least respected by her professors as someone they can trust to pay attention to each and every lecture. Regardless, she stands out whether she wants to or not. She does her best to manipulate this unwanted popularity to her advantage, with some success.

    Dee’s greatest passion outside of magecraft is fashion. Something that doesn’t contradict her nature, she takes great joy in the creative process involved in design and color coordination. Her favorite material is denim. She owns clothing that is only 100% natural fibers. She has a fondness for overalls as a casual outfit, but so far she absolutely refuses to wear them anywhere she might be seen.

    Thomas Lincoln, the boy Dee met on the day of the London Frieze, is someone who occupies her thoughts with more frequency than she cares to admit. As a magus, there's no benefit to an interest in a mundane man. As a “witch,” Dee can only despise humans.

    Yet…and yet…

    A Blade, Self-Sharpened

    Magecraft Keywords

    Dead Fiction: Revenant Phantasm

    Dee is a Witchcraft specialist, of course, but her true worth lies in what’s labeled as Revenant Phantasm. Though she is utterly unaware of the true monsters lurking in the Meinster bloodline, Dee’s art is something that “distantly approaches” the reality-warping might of the Ploy Kickshaw. No, even without a comparison to the descendants of Yumina, it’s still a right of all witches to manipulate fantasy.

    All humans tell stories. All stories have an end. Stories, much like the scythe and the thresher, are just tools. Once an improvement to the current model can be ascertained, these same tools are discarded. But stories are also akin to curses, and the eradication of curses is a rare thing in this world.

    Dead Fiction can be considered thus a specialized form of Necromancy. The old stories told by humans around their fires when the harvest witches were at their peak. The stories that no longer have a reason to exist in the age of electricity and skepticism. That is what Revenant Phantasm means. As humans have abandoned these tales in favor of others, Dee steps in to claim them as her own. However, because these stories have enough weight to be inscribed upon the texture of the world, it’s more appropriate to think of Dead Fiction as a typical magus Foundation that has somewhat escaped its bonds.

    Modrybydaf: Flowering Valkyries

    Original form: Any flowering plant
    Components: Varies with plant, gold coin
    Manifestation: A swarm of bees
    Weakness: Lies

    Dee’s main form of familiar. In the past, the exact taxonomic nature of most insects was still a mystery to prehistoric man. For the most part, it never really mattered to them. That being said, to assume observation never occurred at all would be a fallacy, and an insult to the people’s gentle ignorance of a bygone age.

    For farmers, bees were an everyday part of reality. Yet their genesis was a complete mystery. Observing bees and their close relationship with flowers, humans of this past age came to a conclusion: the humble bee is actually a plant. Specifically, a zoophyte. Zoophytes, or animal-plants, is an obsolete term used to describe a supposed intermediate class of organism between flora and fauna. Many organisms were truncated under this or similar classifications for centuries, including fungi, corals, and certain insects. Akin to the geocentric model used by the majority of those in the Department of Astromancy, zoophytes are a perfectly usable modality for those in Botany.

    Treated as an extension of a flower’s reproductive cycle, Dee alters the shape of nearby flowers into a swarm of glossy, vibrant bees. Used primarily for information gathering, these flower-bees embody an extra dimension to their specialized role. “Telling the bees” is an ancient superstition that requires all major events to be related to one’s beehive, especially deaths. Whether this is due to the belief that bees are creatures of the underworld, or simply because doing so would result in a loss of honey production, Dee’s Dead Fiction doesn’t particularly care.

    The end result is rather simple. Rather than tell the bees of major events personally, Dee allows her hive the freedom to seek sources of information itself. Occupying the role of queen bee, Dee is thus informed of everything her hive system deems necessary.

    They have a particular weakness to lies and secrets. Lies told in the presence of one of the bees will cause it to revert back to a flower, essentially “killing” it. While the bees are capable of recognizing what is and isn’t an untruth, lies can be likened to a “jamming frequency” that interrupts the programming of the familiars. This means, of course, that Dee believes in the truth her hive brings her, to the detriment of any sort of nuance. A self-reinforced naivety.

    Corn Mother: Backstitch Crown

    Original Form: Small straw figure
    Components: Earth, leftover thoughts
    Manifestation: 10-30 times larger
    Effect: Manipulation of heat

    Dee’s secondary form of familiar, and primary combat option. Corn dollies, also known as corn mothers, are a form of straw work made as part of European harvest tradition before the advent of mechanization. It was believed that grown crops contained their own spirits, and that the harvest effectively made these spirits homeless. To remedy this, the last sheaf of the harvest would be taken and fastened into a variety of different shapes. The combined spirits of the harvested crop would then be induced to fill the container–usually a wreath or small humanoid figure–where the spirits could safely spend the winter. Once planting season arrived the next year, the dolly would be buried into the earth in order to rehome the spirits of the crops.

    In Scotland and Ireland in particular, the relationship farmers had with the corn mothers was more antagonistic. The first farmer to finish harvesting would once again create a corn mother from the last sheaf of the crop, usually grain. The corn mother would then be tossed into a neighboring farmer’s property, who had not yet finished the harvest. Said farmer would be expected to care for the corn mother all throughout the winter.

    These corn mothers were associated in particular with the Gaelic Hag-Goddess,
    Witch B
    Beira, Queen of Winter
    , also known as
    Witch C
    Cailleach
    .

    Though the form the corn mothers can take is completely modular, Dee tends toward a pair she calls the Wings of the White King. These take the form of a mighty lion and unicorn, important symbols to her homeland of Britain. The creation and summoning process involves the accumulation of leftover thoughts into the corn mothers, whether in their “inert” form or once buried. After a gestation period, the familiars will crawl from the earth as spontaneously growing stalks of grain. There, they take on properties more familiar to the Phantasmal Species which they mimic.

    Their main abilities involve the replication of the seasons which governed the lives of those ancient humans, and informed the creation of the corn mothers in the first place, by manipulating heat. The lion governs the stimulating heat of spring, and repels ambient heat value. If one were to touch the lion’s own corpus, they would find it cold to the point of freezing. The unicorn, meanwhile, absorbs all heat ambient value, depriving the environment and thus leading it to freeze over. Once more, the unicorn’s own body, should it be touched, would be so hot as to burn the skin.

    Apparently, while Dee can technically use both of them at once, she hardly ever does so. Though each manifestation is powered by unique leftover thoughts the kernel figures take in, somehow there’s a bit of a personality that’s unable to be written over. In a word, the lion and the unicorn don’t get along. Though this too surely has its applications.


    Boggart Moon: Thousand-Hand Reaper

    Original Form: A shiny gardening trowel
    Components: Four iron bars
    Manifestation: Creates a Bounded Field
    Effect: Severing

    An “instant kill” type application of Dead Fiction, and one Dee is quite proud of.

    Boggarts are a subspecies of fairy known throughout English folklore to cause mischief, especially to those living in and around farming communities. Living in the shadow of the great King of Fairies, Oberon, boggarts are unable to properly manifest a definitive physical shell. They are closer to a collection of Wraiths, explicitly tied to certain stretches of land as genii locorum. Boggarts do not have individuality, acting more like a force of nature once enough of them gather together.

    Always malevolent, boggarts are also quite easy to manipulate due to their bestial nature. A famous tale around the British Isles is the story of a particular farmer confronting a boggart, which is presented in the text as a sort of hairy goblin. The farmer intended to plow the land, but the boggart, as the guardian of the land for hundreds of years, demanded restitution. After negotiations, the farmer and the boggart eventually agreed to plow the land together. The crop’s yield would be split up between the two later.

    However, the farmer’s greed was great. He sought to cheat the boggart at its own game. Asking the boggart if it wanted the harvest’s profit from above or below the ground, the boggart replied that he would take all that grew underground. In retaliation, the farmer planted grain, which grows above the surface of the soil. When the harvest came, the boggart was left with useless roots and dirt. For the next harvest, the boggart demanded everything above the soil. The farmer agreed, and only planted tubers and other crops which only grow below the earth. Once again, the adaptive human triumphed over primitive nature.

    Some versions of the story include a third episode, however. After convincing the boggart to give him one last chance, the farmer agreed one last time to plant grain for the harvest. When it came time, the farmer planted iron rods in the field in order to blunt the boggart’s scythe, allowing the farmer to run away with the majority of the harvest yet again.

    Boggart Moon reenacts this story, as well as the global motif of “impossible tasks completed in a single night.” Planting the completed Boggart Moon or its iron bar components into the ground establishes a Bounded Field with a simple rule: everything within the confines of the Bounded Field will be instantly cut by wrathful boggarts. The size and dimensions of both the Bounded Field and the point of reaping are customizable, yet Boggart Moon itself follows additional rules.

    First, the cut will always be horizontal. Second, the X-axis is determined by how far down Boggart Moon is planted into the ground. If six inches of the handle is left above ground, the X-axis is determined as immediately above the handle. Third, Boggart Moon does not reap that which does not live. Stones, buildings, and all manner of metal are all immune to Boggart Moon’s invisible scythe.

    Fen Worm: Dragon of Harvest

    Original Form: Oil
    Components: Horsehair, eels, witch blood
    Manifestation: Varies
    Weakness: Electricity
    Prerequisite: Suitable source of water, time

    The most powerful Revenant Phantasm among Dee’s collection. Its use will undoubtedly rot the user’s soul.

    Dee describes it as a “tool of pure vengeance” against mankind akin to divine punishment. Something so vast of scale that its use may as well be considered impossible, and even then the consumption of the user’s life force is guaranteed.

    Various tales from Northeast England tell of the appearance of dragons…

    [FURTHER INFORMATION LOCKED]


    Author's Notes and Image Sources

    I lied, there are no author's notes. I'm tired.

    In all seriousness, Dee as a character just seemed to write herself. It doesn't detract from the fact that I was planning on playing Mahoyo next month over winter break, so I came at this with LB7 knowledge and the scraps I could find.


    https://twitter.com/yubetoup/status/1520385240396865536
    https://twitter.com/ZhuWeiiiiii/stat...97017469083648
    https://twitter.com/Arch_05x/status/1716932793266233618
    Last edited by Bugs; December 7th, 2023 at 01:01 PM.

  10. #210
    不死 Undead PA270's Avatar
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    Dee Roxborugh: God I love her. She is an utterly terrible person (and also utterly terrible at being a person), but I love her anyway. Not only that, but her Magecraft is deeply fascinating, and that introductory story set the tone so completely perfectly! Fantastic work!

  11. #211
    wwwww Spartacus's Avatar
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    March 11, 2011, Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. A natural tragedy that caused 19,759 deaths, 6,242 injured, and 2,553 people missing in Japan.

    Among the injured survivors is Seiryuu Fuyuno, a 2nd year high school student that studies in Tokyo, but returns to Iwate to celebrate her birthday with her family.

    What is supposed to be a joyous day now doubles as the day of mourning.

    She becomes a girl that lives between the state of life and death.

    Profile
    No matter how one profiles her, Seiryuu Fuyuno is simply an average Japanese girl born from an average Japanese family. She was born in Iwate prefecture, and together with her family often prays to the local gods for blessing and good fortune. Like many aspiring young men and women from the prefectures, she wishes to move to Tokyo once reached maturity. In which, after many arguments with her parents, she begins her high school abroad in the capital city like she always dreamed.

    Her grade is slightly above average, she can only cook simple foods, she prefers to do laundry on her own, and she often spends her allowance money to look good just to impress her friends. The last part makes many boys have a crush on her, while the girls begrudgingly admit she is very attractive, and she has been scouted by an agency before, which makes her consider her career path in showbiz, and starts her own streaming channel. Despite that, the boy she likes doesn’t seem to find her attractive, as he likes Western athletic and tall women the most.

    Regardless how amusing her life can be, none of this shows any indication that she belongs in the moonlit world.

    She isn’t, or at least, she shouldn’t be.

    During her high school second year in 2011, she comes back to her hometown to celebrate her birthday with her parents, which she greatly misses, which also becomes the perfect excuse for her to take a leave in school. However, her birthday coincided with the earthquake and tsunami, in which their house collapsed and crushed them, killing her parents and leaving her severely wounded.

    When search and rescue found her 33 hours after the event, she was pierced by debris in the abdomen. The doctors examined the wound as fatal, with her brain continuing to lose oxygen and her heartbeat continuing to slow down every minute. Although they tried their best, most of them have no hope in her.

    Yet, after being unconscious for 5 days and the doctors continue to give her treatment, she miraculously survived. Once her condition is pronounced stable within 2 months, she is transferred to Tokyo for rehabilitation. After 1 month of extensive rehabs, she was finally allowed to return to school, reuniting with the good friends that missed her and igniting a brand new spirit within.

    Now alone, she approached the idol agency that scouted her to earn money. She also begins to monetize her streams, and aims for the top 10 in school. By the time she graduates, she has managed to star in a TV drama, her video has thousands of regular viewers, and she is ranked 9th in school. She managed to achieve all of these despite living a triple life, making many inspired and touched by her resolve. She even impresses the boy she likes that doesn’t find her attractive, making him fall for her from sheer determination alone.

    Whenever asked the secret behind her perseverance, she always answers in honesty that she simply never gives up despite wanting to rest multiple times. And from observation, she doesn’t seem the type that intentionally tried to balance her diet to stay healthy.

    Her fame as a star continues to rise as she begins to appear in movies, receiving various celebrity guests in her streams, and recently graduating from her university with honor (cum laude). Many start calling her a genius idol with a mind of steel, a perfect person that is capable of doing anything if she puts her mind to it.

    Not to mention she is beautiful, extremely so, as many of her idol peers begin to age, yet she is still as smooth and pristine as she always has been.

    However, as her fame begins to rise, so does her personal information. Many begin to learn about her status being an orphan, and how she lived alone.

    This leads to a burglar attempting to rob her, and as she tries to resist to protect her property, the burglar physically attacks her, in the struggle–

    The man suddenly collapsed. Just like that, she was saved from an attempted assault.

    The police reported that he died of cancer. Something that the man hasn’t shown any symptom of based on his medical data, but supported through an autopsy from his corpse.

    The news about the attempted burglary of a famous idol begins to spread. And while the public and the court is on her side, she announced a hiatus for the first time to process what’s happening to her life.

    And soon, she will learn that this case reached the ears of the magical world. Many magi from Clock Tower try to approach her, with most of them are the members of Botany faculty that she just learned the name from.

    She managed to kill them all, and she began to learn that she was capable of killing someone by touch alone, giving them the same sudden cancer as the burglar.

    One of her attacker, before he died says something that struck to her heart:

    “Playing with the dead, huh? Even in backwater Japan, Fairies like you are nasty.”


    Ability

    Partial Necrosis

    As Fuyuno pieces the nature of her power through multiple encounters, she learns that she is extremely valuable in the world of magecraft. One of the magi informed her that they come for her not for fortune, but they want to kidnap the girl for experiments to research the First. Because she has been favored by a fairy witch, the Iwate Yosei (Fairy of Iwate), which the locals describe as fairies that can resurrect the dead.

    On that day, in 2011, she died with her parents. That’s what she learns from the magi’s babbling as they desperately try to capture her.

    Then how is she standing here? She remembers all the hardworks she put into to change her miserable state, and put all of her efforts into becoming what she is today. She is alive, she is scared, she is upset, there is no way she is not alive.

    Besides, how can she believe all this magic and fairy bullshit? The authorities already said the man died from undiagnosed cancer, who cares whether it is being sudden or not, that’s science!

    But then she heard something speaking.

    Not from nearby, but from within. From her own heart. As if someone directly speaks to her conscience.

    “FuYUNo-cHAn, I AlWAys lOVed yOu tHE MOsT! YOuR bEauTY, yOUr sWeET vOiCe, yOUR dReAM, EverYTHinG! I LoVE EVerYtHing aBOuT YoU! SO WhY yOu gO TO tOKyO aND lEAvE mE aLOnE? WHy yOU dEcIDed tO dIE LIke THaT! THoSE dAYs wERe hORRiBle!”



    “THaT’s WHy, FuYUNo-cHAn. WHeN yOu dIeD, I rEanIMatE yoUR cORpSe.

    A walking corpse, different in nature with vampires, as she retains her bodily metabolism and doesn’t thirst for blood. An advanced form of necromancy that only the Fairy kinds can do, reanimation of corpses not by controlling their joints alone, but also the very cells within her body. With the current technology, science can’t tell the difference whether she is alive or not.

    A power closer to First Magic, a power to materialize a mass from nothing and control it, albeit extremely localized and limited. The Iwate Yosei simply grants her the access of this power for her to continue ‘living’. What Fuyuno did on her attackers was simply an extension of it, she unconsciously controls the victims’ metabolism to rapidly produce cells, giving them fatal cancers in a span of minutes.

    On that day, when she was pierced with debris, her Soul was shattered. Before it was fully gone, the witch combines what was left with their own, carefully picking the parts of themselves that are similar with hers as replacements. With now possessing a stronger Soul than most humans, it can sustain her Body and Mind for days even in critical condition.

    “FuYUNo-cHAn. IT’s OkAY. I aLwAyS kNoW eVErYtHiNG aBOuT yOU! I kNoW deEp DoWN yOu wANt tO sUcCEeD! I kNoW yOu ARe PrOUd oF yOuR bEAuTy! I kNoW yOu tHiNk thE aLlowAnCe YoU hAD fRoM yOUr pArENts iSn’T EnOUgH! I kNoW yOu AlwAYs lUSt fOR tHAt bOY!”

    However, if that’s the case, is the current her still her from before? The fairy witch says she shouldn’t worry about it, because it fully knows her character through their fairy eyes; but that is still their reading of her person, isn’t it? There is no input nor consideration of how she sees herself?

    All this time, all the hardworks she did, all the efforts she put in, the spirits she gained from that tragedy, which one is her own? Which one is not the influence of the fairy witch? If she survived naturally, will she still become the person she is proud of like today?

    Her blood flow, her heartbeat, her brainwave, her beautiful skin, her emotional tear, her tired sweat, every molecule of her being, is now governed from the fairy’s magic. If she doesn’t wills it, if they doesn’t wills it, she will stay the way she is.

    Then… how much the current thought is hers?

    Is she still alive in the first place?

    If the fairy witch no longer loves her, will she instantly die?

    “FuYUNo-cHAn. IT’s OkAY. I aLwAyS kNoW eVErYtHiNG aBOuT yOU! ThErE iS nO WaY I wILL hATe yOU!”

  12. #212
    不死 Undead PA270's Avatar
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    Seiryuu Fuyuno: Well, that was certainly disturbing! And I mean that in a good way, obviously, because she's a wonderful tragedy of a character. Admittedly, I do think the connection to the prompt is a bit of a stretch, but that's really the only issue I have with it. Nicely done!

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    Illicia Gothel Trionfi


    Gender: Female
    Age: Unknown
    Height: 196 cm
    Weight: 91 kg
    Birthplace: Germany?

    Likes: Children, baking, beautiful things
    Dislikes: The passage of time, decay, people who fail to take advantage of their resources
    Natural Enemy: Alice Kunoji, Nursery Rhyme
    Day of Decisive Battle: At the end of the fairy tale, when the dreamers awaken

    Affiliation: Department of Botany, Clock Tower?
    Origin: Sweetness
    Elemental Alignment: Earth
    Circuit Quantity: A
    Circuit Quality: A+
    Circuit Composition: Abnormal

    Background

    The Brothers Grimm. Cataloguers of the folklore of Germany, codifiers of the fairy tale. Among the most famous stories of their collection is that of Hansel and Gretel. The story of two children abandoned in the woods by their parents, stumbling upon a witch living in a house made of baked goods. The witch, an eater of children, begins preparing the children for consumption, working the girl to the bone while attempting to fatten the boy. Eventually, however, she is undone by her own nearsightedness and the trickery of Gretel, allowing the children to take her riches and return to their father. A happy ending, most would say.

    To Illicia, it is a tragedy. But not quite for the reasons one might think.

    Even among the enigmatic members of the Clock Tower, Illicia is a mystery. Her origins are a complete mystery; despite having the triplicate name typically associated with a branch family, neither the Gothel nor the Trifoni have appeared in the registry of Magus families, and no other members have materialized. Ostensibly a lecturer, she has never had a single class, and most students don’t even know she exists. She is a curious being, at once entirely separate from the Clock Tower and yet interwoven into its fabric, with scores of papers to her name; most of them in the Department of Botany, but also Creation, Spiritual Evocation, and even one or two in Mineralogy.

    In short, she is a true enigma: a Witch who has seemingly both vanished into fantasy and yet remained attached to this world. So which is the truth? And does the truth truly matter?

    Personality


    Illicia is a Witch. Witches eat children. Therefore, Illicia eats children. That is the core of her story, the defining element of her personality. She is a being who exists to feed upon children. It is a simple and pure expression of desire befitting a being distant from humanity, and a fairy tale archetype that has allowed her to maintain her existence into the modern age. As such, it is no wonder that she sees the story of Hansel and Gretel as a tragedy. However, it is not for the reasons one might think. Rather than lament the downfall of her brethren at the hands of lowly mortals, Illicia instead views the story as a tale of…wasted potential.

    For you see, Illicia doesn’t feed upon anything as common as human flesh. Why would she contaminate her body with such crude matter, when there are much finer delicacies to be harvested? Human beings are so rich in emotion and imagination, their dreams filled with such potential, that bringing them to an end would be downright wasteful! She looks upon her closest analogue with pity for her shortsightedness, both literal and metaphorical. Fattening one child for consumption while abusing the other? A recipe for failure.

    That is why her methods focus on spiritual harvesting and comfort. She deals in sleep and sugar, keeping her victims in stupors while she feeds upon their dreams. And she will linger over her meals for as long as possible, savoring them until her victim’s hearts give out. There is no reasoning with her, no communication, no mercy. She is a story manifest, and she will continue to tell herself until she can do so no longer.

    Magecraft

    Gezuckerte Märchen

    Ploy Kickshaw. A style of Magecraft derived from the work of Yumina, based on the creation of Familiars kneaded from fantasy itself. Fairy tales come to life, they are the birthright of the Meinster lineage, and in the current generation have drawn from the works of Lewis Carroll.

    Sugar. A plant-based sweetener dating back to ancient times. Originating in various parts of Asia, it was not readily available in Europe until the mid-15th century, and even then it was a sign of the wealthy and influential. Of particular note were the sugar sculptures that decorated the banquet tables of royalty, a display of conspicuous consumption that was unthinkable for the average citizen.

    Illicia has combined these together to create her own unique system of Magecraft, known simply as Gezuckerte Märchen, or Sugared Fairy Tales. Stealing the basics of Ploy creation from the Meinsters and combining it with the Mystery inherent in the art of sugar sculpting enables Illicia to create a variety of Familiars by manipulating sugar crystals.

    These “faux-Ploys” are substantially less durable than regular Ploys, some of which have lasted since the Age of Gods, but in exchange, they are much easier to replicate. With Illicia’s tremendous amount of Magical Energy, she can create hundreds of small-scale Familiars in an instant, or build and maintain a smaller quantity of stronger Familiars for the length of a protracted battle.

    Naturally, as expected for a Witch, Illicia’s Familiars draw upon fairy tales as their base, with particular focus on the stories of the Brothers Grimm. However, she is not opposed to incorporating other stories into her spells, especially when they enable her to capture children more easily.

    Hamelin Piper

    Components: White sugar, flute music
    Manifestation: Musicians
    Effect: Mental domination
    Countermeasure: Block your ears.

    Hamelin Piper: Lullaby of Entrapment is Illicia’s most commonly used Familiar, as well as the easiest to produce. By scattering a handful of sugar dust and playing a brief melody on a flute, the sugar will take the form of miniature pipers, sculpted so immaculately that they could be mistaken for masterwork dolls. What is more, the previously pristine white sugar dyes itself in a variety of colors, becoming the very image of the Pied Piper himself. As they begin to play, their music will echo throughout the area, enacting Mental Interference Magecraft upon all those in the vicinity. Depending on the colors of the musician, the music will have a different effect and a different target.

    Musicians in cool colors (blue, green, indigo) play music only audible to adults, dragging them down into a dreamless sleep. This sleep cannot be interrupted by ordinary methods: no matter what may happen to or around them, they will not awaken. Musicians in warm colors (red, orange, yellow), on the other hand, play music only audible to children, which places them in a trance state. They will become completely subservient to the will of Illicia, following her wherever she goes without question, driven by beautiful dreams that constantly float just out of reach.

    By combining these two types, Illicia can swiftly enthrall entire buildings, trapping the adults in an unbreakable slumber while the children rush to join her. If left unchecked, her range could encompass an entire town, allowing her free reign to harvest her prey. However, not only are these Familiars extremely delicate, they also have a very simple method of defeat: blocking your ears. If the music cannot be heard, the spell cannot take effect.

    Glass Coffin

    Components: Sugar glass, almond paste, rose petals
    Manifestation: 10-20 times larger
    Effect: Preservation and harvesting
    Weakness: Heat


    Glass Coffin: Dual-Sided Crystal s both Illicia’s primary combat Familiar and her storage system. This Familiar, like Hamelin Piper, has two separate manifestations. However, unlike Hamelin Piper, these two manifestations are wildly difference, being based on two entirely separate stories: Snow White and The Glass Coffin.

    The combat application of Glass Coffin, drawing from Snow White, is activated by throwing out shards of sugar glass, which suddenly expand in size and take the form of tremendous mirrors. These mirrors are capable of surrounding and entrapping a foe in a sugary cage, a dome of mirrors reflecting their image over and over again. Inside this dome, all Magecraft will function at reduced efficiency, as the mirrors feed off the Magical Energy of the victim. They then use this energy to form soldiers of sugar glass, bombarding the opponent with a barrage of foes. Between the constant onslaught and the slow drain of power, the enemy will be defeated in short order, giving Illicia plenty of time to make her escape.

    However, the storage application, drawing from The Crystal Coffin is a more intricate process. It requires Illicia to actually build a sugar sculpture by hand, usually a coffin. She then channels Magical Energy into it, causing it to grow to full size. Anything placed in this coffin will immediately be put to sleep, their bodies preserved and their time halted. The sweet scent of the almond paste brings smiles to their faces, as they begin to dream sweet dreams. These dreams will begin to manifest as time goes by, flickering on the lid of the coffin like colored lights, before congealing into a small pastry. This pastry, when consumed, will provide a massive boost of Magical Energy to the consumer, having converted their dreams into pure power. The more vivid the imagination, the sweeter the dream, the greater the boost. And what’s more, these treats are a renewable resource; as long as the victim remains trapped, they will continue to dream, allowing Illicia to harvest from her victims for as long as they remain alive.

    Marchpane Castle

    Original form: A sugar sculpture
    Components: All manner of confections
    Manifestation: 30-50 times larger
    Effect: Creates a world
    Weakness: Awakening


    Marchpane Castle: Sugary Lair of the Witch is the culmination of Illicia’s Magecraft, the ultimate expression of her abilities. Derived from a fusion of the Brothers Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel and E. T. A. Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, Illicia manifests a sprawling palatial complex made entirely out of confections. Gingerbread walls, plate sugar windows, candy and sweets covering every surface, it is an absolutely gorgeous sight, something out of a fairy tale.

    As soon as the castle emerges, it generates a Bounded Field that transforms the environs into a “Kingdom of Dolls”: a fairyland where everything is made of sweets and sugar, much like a Reality Marble. The “Kingdom” will slowly expand over time as the castle draws Magical Energy from the ground, converting the earth into pure confection. And naturally, all of this confection bends to Illicia’s will, allowing her to completely control the environs. Manifesting Familiars, setting traps, reshaping buildings, all of it is within her power.

    But naturally, such a tremendous expression of Magecraft would naturally require a great deal of Magical Energy, far more than Illicia can normally provide. Fortunately, she doesn’t have to provide it, for the floors of Marchpane Castle are lined with her Glass Coffins, all of them that she has collected throughout her long life. The sweet dreams of children are constantly fed into the castle, supporting its existence and expanding its reach. These children have been transformed themselves, their bodies lying in eternal sleep, their spirits held captive. But these children have no idea of their captivity; rather, they wander the halls of the castle in lifelike candy bodies, the royal servants of Illicia, allowed to play and live and dream in an endless childhood.

    However, it is this same freedom that provides the ultimate weakness to Marchpane Castle, and indeed to all of Illicia’s power. For while Illicia allows them the freedom to dream and enjoy themselves, they also have the freedom to awaken, if they should choose. And with each one that awakens, so too does Illicia’s power wane. So much of her life is tied to this castle, tied to her harvest, that enough of them waking might very well cause her to wink out like a candle, fading away with the dawn. For all stories must end with the defeat of the witch.

    Author's Notes

    Woo, got this one done just in time! I had this idea brewing from the moment I got the prompt, and I'm so happy I was able to finally bring it to fruition! And yes, this is a pretty blatant excuse to Nasufy one of my favorite minor Sailor Moon villains, but I hope it turned out well regardless! All images are stills from Sailor Moon SuperS: The Movie. Please let me know what you think! Positive or negative feedback is always appreciated! Thank you!.
    Last edited by PA270; November 28th, 2023 at 09:59 PM.

  14. #214
    Everyone's doing pretty good, favorite so far is definitely Seiryuu Fuyuno. Her deal as inbetween life and death is neat

  15. #215
    鬼 Ogre-like You's Avatar
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    Voting will begin 30th of November 1:00 am PST.
    If there are less than 6 entries by then, I'll extend it out by another week.
    Quote Originally Posted by FSF 5, Chapter 14: Gold and Lions I
    Dumas flashed a fearless grin at Flat and Jack as he rattled off odd turns of phrase.
    "And most importantly, it's me who'll be doing the cooking."
    Though abandoned, forgotten, and scorned as out-of-date dolls, they continue to carry out their mission, unchanged from the time they were designed.
    Machines do not lose their worth when a newer model appears.
    Their worth (life) ends when humans can no longer bear that purity.


  16. #216
    wwwww Spartacus's Avatar
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    Illicia Gothel Trionfi: I say using Ploy is very darring with Alice around, but she managed to be distinct of her own. Very nice!

    Quote Originally Posted by PA270 View Post
    Seiryuu Fuyuno: Well, that was certainly disturbing! And I mean that in a good way, obviously, because she's a wonderful tragedy of a character. Admittedly, I do think the connection to the prompt is a bit of a stretch, but that's really the only issue I have with it. Nicely done!
    I personally don't see it as streching since the prompt only says Witch and Botany, I don't think she need to be part of Botany in itself, just her character involved with it in some form (in this case, being hunted by them). As for the fairy witch, the term Yosei (Japanese for fairy) also means bewitching spirit, so I decided to interpret the fairy of Iwate being a witch themselves. Regardless, thanks for the comment!
    Last edited by Spartacus; November 29th, 2023 at 02:45 AM.

  17. #217
    不死 Undead PA270's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spartacus View Post
    I personally don't see it as streching since the prompt only says Witch and Botany, I don't think she need to be part of Botany in itself, just her character involved with it in some form (in this case, being hunted by them). As for the fairy witch, the term Yosei (Japanese for fairy) also means bewitching spirit, so I decided to interpret the fairy of Iwate being a witch themselves. Regardless, thanks for the comment!
    Totally valid! I think I was just a little hung-up on the Botany element, but you're absolutely right. Sorry for being nitpicky, and thank you so much for your comment on my work!

  18. #218
    後継者 Successor zikari8's Avatar
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    A Dream


    It was a night out of a dream.

    A brisk spring evening, marked by the gusts of May. A glamorous gala, held in commemoration of some VIP’s birthday.

    The venue was packed with only the city’s elite. The most wealthy and the most important. The most famous and the most magical. Using the occasion as an excuse, they gathered from across the city for a night of luxurious libations, chatting the night away to the beat of smooth jazz.

    Weary from conversation, you excused yourself from a heated debate about taxes and found yourself wandering out of the main hall. You headed upwards, hoping for some fresh air, and climbed staircase after staircase until you found a quiet-seeming balcony to rest at.

    But the moment you stepped out onto it, you were greeted with a stunning sight.

    A woman of almost inhuman beauty gracefully playing the violin.

    No, upon second look, there was no violin in her hands. In reality, it was a small branch of wood held softy in the palm of her hand.

    It was just that her movements were so elegant that they seemed like a performance.

    Her long, dainty fingers moved a knife up and down the wood with the graceful finesse of a painter. Shavings of bark fell gently to the floor beneath her, like petals shedding beautifully from a flower tree. It was unclear what the branch was being carved into, yet the sublimity of the act alone assured one that it would turn out splendid.

    The woman’s eyes, a clear lustrous green, were absorbed in the task. The rest of the world did not exist within them – only the branch and its future shape. At that moment, the woman seemed to be in a bubble of her own fixation, yet at the same time, detached even from that. There was no passion in her eyes, no vigor to her movements. Her fingers moved only with artistry alone, like a statue in motion, its skin still cold as stone.

    At times, her focus would waver ever so slightly, and her gaze would turn towards the view beyond the balcony: a dark, dreary night that seemed a world away from the vivacious, bedazzled party within. The garden of flowers beneath, drenched from a sudden shower earlier in the day and lit only by the little light escaping the venue windows, seemed to reflect in her eyes far more than anything else inside.

    Ah… suddenly at that moment, you realized you had been silently staring at her for a while now, your breath entirely stolen away.

    Regaining your wits, you decided to finally make yourself known to the statuesque woman on the balcony with a simple greeting.

    “Good evening.”

    It succeeded in grabbing the woman’s attention, which had seemingly been immutably fixed on the branch, but only for a second. She turned her head to glance at you for a single second before immediately returning her gaze to her knife.

    “Likewise.” She said while not even looking at you.

    “Fine party tonight, wouldn’t you say? Particularly this wonderful venue. It’s my first time attending a party at a museum.”

    “Good for you.” She replied emotionlessly.

    The night’s gala was being held at the Natural History Museum in London. The entire building had been closed for the evening to cater to the event, offering its numerous guests an interesting backdrop for their party within its grandiose Romanesque architecture. Certainly, even for these elite and wealthy socialites, a reception held beneath a giant blue whale skeleton and dinner next to a gallery of priceless historic samples was something rare and fun. That all of this had been arranged for a person’s birthday party spoke volumes of the level of opulence and luxury at play here.

    But all of that seemed not to excite the woman at all, her eyes solely belonging to the branch and the view.

    You wondered for a moment if she was simply so high-class that such a level of extravagance did little to move her heart. Or perhaps it was the opposite and she simply had no taste for high culture. Judging by how well she wore her evening gown, though, you leaned towards the first possibility.

    “Not a fan of parties, then, I take it?”

    “It is what it is. Lively gatherings are not quite my cup of tea.”

    She sighed morosely as she answered, as if her own liveliness was escaping her mouth.

    At the same time, almost as if command, a soft breeze blew through the balcony, carrying on its winds jazzy notes from within. As the wind brushed past her hair, the woman turned back towards the venue with a melancholic resignation.

    “Well, it could be worse. At the very least, the music drowns out all that insipid chitter-chatter.”

    Having her face suddenly turned towards you, even if indirectly, you found your heart seizing up for her moment. Seeing them head-on, you reconfirmed that her features truly were sublime. Her beauty was ethereal, almost inhuman even, like that of a nymph hidden away in a deep forest. Her fair skin seemed so delicate beneath the tender moonlight, yet her sharp eyes spoke of her hidden maturity. She seemed hardly real.

    And yet, that little show of emotion revealed to you that she was indeed human after all, and it somehow made your interest in her double.

    “Let me guess. You only came tonight because your company made you?” You suggested lightly, hoping to connect with her now that she had shown human emotion.

    “No, not quite.” She answered languidly, turning back towards the edge of the balcony and the dim view beyond it.

    “Oh. Then, was it a relative? Or your friends?”

    “No.”

    “Hmm? Then, who invited you?”

    “No one.”

    “Huh?”

    You invertedly gasped at the surprising absurdity of her answer. You had not expected to be thrown for a loop like that on such a simple line of questioning, but you do your best to retain your wits as you process her answers.

    “I’m sorry. I don’t think I understand. Are you… a party crasher?”

    “Of course not. That would be quite silly.” She scoffed, seemingly tiring of the questions.

    As she did so, she lowered the knife in her hand and placed it onto a short table next to her. In its stead, she picked up a bottle of wine from the table and brought it up to her face, taking a moment to just admire her own reflection in the cup.

    “But then, what do you mean by no one invited you? I don’t follow.” You stated, still utterly dumbfounded by her riddle-like answers.

    “It’s simple. No one could’ve invited me to my own party.”

    “Huh?”

    You froze in place for a second, completely discombobulated by her revelation. It even took you a few more seconds to truly comprehend what she was implying.

    “Wait. Y-you’re the host? That means, this is your birthday party?” You blurted out, flustered and in shock.

    “Happy Birthday to me~” She sung solemnly, swishing around the wine in her glass in mock celebration.

    You could hardly believe your eyes and ears. To think that this mysterious and gorgeous young woman before you was the one behind this extravagant event. The mystery patron with the influence and excess wealth to host such a glamorous gala for a simple birthday party.

    But just as that answered one of your questions, it left you with another.

    “I’m sorry if I’m prying too much, but I must ask. If you don’t like parties, as you say, why hold a birthday party?”

    “…”

    The woman remained silent. Instead, she finally brought the glass of wine to her lips, savoring it over a long, gentle sip. As she drank, the world itself seemed to vanish as you were entranced by the sight of her parted lips nursing the glass. Once she lowered the drink at last, she then turned to you and flashed a slightly mischievous, almost childlike, smile.

    “It makes a good excuse for eating cake.”

    How serious were those words? What feelings were hidden behind them?

    You would never know as you lost the chance to ask such things.

    For at that moment, your breath had been stolen away once more.

    Elegant. Eloquent. Enigmatic. Exotic.

    A woman who seemed barely human in her beauty. Her graces were intoxicating, and her mystique was enchanting.

    Countless men before you had been bound by her spell.

    And on that night, yet another had been bewitched by her charms…
    A Fantasy

    This may be a little sudden, but you have just died.

    “Huh?”

    When you open your eyes, you find yourself in a world bathed in bright light. Quickly looking around, you realize you are in a giant room of pure white filled with ornate decorations. A bright blue sky can be seen above you, through a glass dome overhead, yet you cannot spot a sun. Nevertheless, the entire room is perfectly lit as if it were high noon.

    Suddenly, you realize that there is someone sitting in front of you. A woman with long, flowing orange. She looks unbelievably gorgeous, beyond even your wildest imagination.

    “Hello. Welcome to the Afterlife, poor soul. I’m sorry to tell us but you’ve died, friend.”

    “Huh?”

    It takes you a second to process what she says.

    “I-I died? I’m… dead?”

    “Yes. Unfortunately. It seems that you passed after a tragic car accident. I’m really sorry.”

    “An accident…?”

    All of a sudden, it all comes back to you.

    You remember yourself late at night walking down the street. You had just gone through 5 straight days of exhausting overtime and had finally gotten a day off. After picking up a new game from the game shop right after leaving work, you started to head home when you got a call from your boss telling you that you needed to come in tomorrow after all. Just as you were grieving your bad luck, wondering what you did to deserve such a miserable life, you happened to spot an unsupervised child playing next to a street. It was by fortune or misfortune alone that you also saw a truck roaring down the road just as the kid jumped out onto it.

    Before you knew it, you had already pushed the child out of the way and thrown yourself under the truck in his stead…

    “Oh. I… I’m actually dead.”

    “Yes. It was… a tragic turn of events. However, at the very least, I can confirm that the child made it out safely without any permanent injuries.”

    “I see. Hahaha, I guess that means I at least didn’t die in vain.”

    After working through what felt like an expedited wave of the 5 stages of grief, you turn your attention to woman.

    “Sorry, you said that this was the afterlife, right? So… who are you? Are you God?”

    “Haha, close. You could say I am a God, so to speak.”

    With a proud and friendly smile, the woman introduced herself properly.

    “I am the Goddess of Life, Asuka. It is my sacred and honored duty to watch over the Nine Realms of Existence.”

    “Eh? Goddess of Life? Nine Realms? There are 9 realms?”

    “Indeed. The world that you know is just one of the nine worlds, all of them separate and yet interconnected in ways you cannot perceive.”

    “Oh, wow. Huh. I guess there are other dimensions after all… wait, so then if I’m dead, where do I go now? Am I in heaven!?”

    Despite your panicked overblown reaction, nearly jumping out of your chair, the goddess named Asuka just giggles gently.

    “Actually, you’re here because I wanted to discuss that matter of where you’ll be going with you.”

    “Huh? What do you mean? I-Is this like the interview to get into heaven?”

    “Hehe, not quite. But to explain it would take a while… let me just ask you this first. Do you like videogames?”

    She presents this question to you with big, sparkling eyes full of excitement.

    “Huh? Games? Uh, yeah, sure. I used to be a hardcore gamer in my day.”

    “Great! Then you’re perfect.”

    Raising her arms wide in an inviting gesture, she motions towards you with a bubbly smile.

    “How would you feel about being reincarnated in another world as a Hero?”

    “… what?”

    You freeze at the sudden question. Not because you fail to understand but because you understand it a bit too well, for you had always dreamed of being asked something like this.

    “The truth is there’s some trouble brewing in the other realms right now. If nothing is done about it, it could end up causing cataclysmic destruction to those worlds. In the worst case, the damage done may be so bad that it spreads to other realms as well. However, as much as I want to help, my abilities to interfere in mortal affairs is limited. The most I can do is send in some souls from one of the other worlds to help out.”

    “… and that would be me? You want me to be a hero that will save this parallel world from devastation?”

    “Oh wow, you catch on fast. That’s right! I think you’re the Hero that those worlds need right now. After I saw you save that kid at the cost of your own life, I knew you had the heart and courage that it would take.”

    You could hardly believe your ears. You find yourself in utter shock and disbelief at what the Goddess was saying.

    For one thing, the idea of a regular person like you saving the world was preposterous, but…

    “Oh, don’t worry. You won’t be going in alone. I can’t interfere in mortal affairs directly, but I can give you a little support before sending you there. By that I mean, I can grant you a special, super powerful ability that should help you save the world. You deserve it for the heroics you’ve shown. Just pick whatever ability you like from these options.”

    There it was.

    With that, the Goddess causes a number of papers with crazy cheat-like superpowers and items detailed on them to float in the air so that you can peruse them at your leisure.

    “Oh, and about the world you’ll be reincarnated into, as I mentioned, there are actually a few that are in trouble right now. Of course, I wouldn’t expect you to save all of them by yourself. And I don’t force you into anything you don’t want to do. So if you’d like, why don’t you pick for yourself which world you want to be reincarnated into?”

    On top of the papers with the abilities on them, she manifests hologram-like images of a few different worlds which then spawned explanatory text for you when you focused your eyes on one.

    “Of course, no need to rush. Please take your time and consider your options carefully. This will be your second chance at life after all, so you shouldn’t rush into it recklessly. If you have any questions, you can feel free to ask me.”

    “… yeah, I do have one question.”

    “Oh, that was great. Go ahead, what is it?”

    “Am I dreaming, right now?”

    Just as you say this, you pinch your cheek with all of your might.

    “Ow!”

    The sharp pain informs you that your theory is wrong after all.

    In response to your question and action, though, the Goddess makes a puzzles expression.

    “Hmmm, are you having trouble digesting the situation? If so, I understand. This must be a lot to take in just after dying…”

    “No, that’s not it. It’s just… I dunno, this feels too good to be true?”

    “Oh?”

    The truth is, everything the Goddess said sounded really good to you. Too good even.

    Things were just going too well. You’ve read books before. You’ve watched anime before. This is exactly like the stories you know so well. It is exactly like everything you’ve ever dreamed of.

    Which is why you can’t help but be suspicious of it.

    “Is this really real? This can’t possibly be actually happening, can it? Is this like some sort of test or something?”

    “Hehe, there’s no need to be wary. If it weren’t real, it wouldn’t be happening. This is definitely real. I’ve chosen you for this role after being touched by your heroic heart. If you’re happy enough about this situation to think that it’s too good to be true, then that makes happy too. You deserve a happy life after what you’ve been through.”

    What you’ve been through… a life of insipid exhaustion and misery. Day after day of overtime at a job you hate, a boss that doesn’t respect you or your efforts, a meager wage that can’t keep up with continually rising living costs, no friends, no love, no time for fun.

    After all of that, a life of fantasy and adventure where you had a special super-ability… did sound tempting. Wasn’t it what you always wished for? An escape from your miserable life. A perfect fantasy.

    Maybe, maybe you do deserve that. Maybe you deserve better. Maybe you do deserve to be happy.

    “So, let me ask you again.”

    With a bright, divine smile, the Goddess faces you once more and repeats the question.

    “Do you want to be reincarnated into another world?”

    The Witch of Uppsala


    Name: Azalea Ashtyn Solander
    Other Alias: The Ash Witch, Tonelico
    Gender: Female
    Age: 20
    Height: 176 cm
    Weight: 53 kg
    Birthplace: Uppsala, Kingdom of Sweden (?)

    Personal Attributes
    Likes: Greenery, high fantasy, light novels, jazz, sweets
    Dislikes: Humans, parties, couples flirting in public
    Talents: Spending money
    Favorite Food: Mille Crepe Cake
    Favorite Book: Redo of Healer
    Natural Enemy: Sesshouin Kiara
    Day of the Decisive Battle: Return to Roots

    Current Status
    Residence: London, UK
    Affiliation:
    Clock Tower
    Department: Botany
    Rank: Fes
    Relationship: Single

    Magical Attributes:
    Elemental Attribute: Earth and Wind
    Circuit Quality: D
    Circuit Quantity: A
    Circuit Composition: Abnormal
    Thaumaturgical Foundation: Black Magic (Witchcraft)

    Miscellaneous:
    Image VA: Asami Seto
    Image Color: Ash Blonde

    Overview:
    The Witch of Uppsala. The Priestess of the World Tree.

    A classy young socialite who hosts parties and banquets she barely attends. She is a familiar sight to many during London’s social season, yet few are well-acquainted with her.

    Azalea Ashtyn Solander is a distinguished magus residing in London and the current head of the accomplished Solander lineage. Her family are eminent members of the Clock Tower’s Faculty of Botany, having discovered and analyzed the thaumaturgical properties of numerous plants over their centuries of magical research. On top of that, they have poured a considerable amount of their own money into expanding and maintaining the faculty’s botanical collection. Although their history as magi is relatively young and they lack blue blood in their veins, their appreciable contributions to the study of Botany alone have carved them a spot in the Clock Tower.

    The Solanders now stand among the wealthy elites of London, having a seat at the hidden tables behind the curtains at which the direction of the city is truly decided. In addition, the Solander magi have had a very close relationship with the Natural History Museum in London for generations, which has afforded them some influence over the institution. It is said that nary a single leaf or stone be added to the museum’s massive collection without being examined and approved by the Solander’s vast network of connections built over generations.

    Azalea is the latest in this line of esteemed magi. By day, she tends to the Clock Tower or the museum with her keen insight and her elegant decisiveness. By night, she graces galas and fancy dinners with her ephemeral presence. Wherever she goes, all those who see her are left with the striking impression of a mysterious and melancholic beauty.

    Little do they know that the woman of their affections was, in fact, secretly a Witch… and the Goddess of Another World.

    Keywords
    Witch
    The Refuse of the Magical World.

    A race of supernatural beings that have been deemed worthless trash by magi. They are a type of Fairy known for their exceptional prowess with magecraft, a rarity among fairies for whom magecraft is unnecessary as they can naturally perform mysteries.

    While low-level fairies are imperceptible to normal humans, there are also fairies that wear human imagination as shells. Witches can be considered an evolution of this concept, wielding the imagination and fantasies of humans as if it were a force of nature.

    They are deeply involved with the establishment of the First Magic and they were the ones who created the Department of Botany, Yumina, at the Clock Tower. Over time, as human civilization developed, though, their existence slowly faded from the world as they were slowly forced to change their very way of being. Many abandoned humanity entirely, retreating to seclusion or returning to where they came from. Those who stayed along humanity’s side, though, lost their former way of life and degraded, becoming more and more human.

    To magi, these Witches that had become human were repulsive. In their eyes, the beings known as Witches were miraculous existences worthy of reverence. They were objects of both envy and worship for all magi. And thus, those who would willingly throw away such a miracle and lower themselves to the level of mere humans were heretics who failed to appreciate that worth of their own former existence. Such people deserved no respect of compassion. They were not even on the level of other humans, who could appreciate such a gift. They were nothing more than disgusting trash.

    In the present day, there are no longer any Witches in the Mage’s Association. Only those who study them and those who are pale shadows of what they once were.

    Department of Botany
    One of the 12 Departments of the Clock Tower.

    The Department of Botany, also known as witch studies, was founded by the First Magician, Yumina, and their fellow Witches. As its name suggests, it is a department of the Mage’s Association that specializes in botany, dealing with both curses and drugs.

    The Department is known mainly for its pharmaceutical studies. Many of the tonics produced by faculty members, such as anti-aging medicine, can go for high prices when sold to other magi. However, the department also deals heavily curses, which may come as a surprise to many due to the existence of the actual Department of Curses. Nevertheless, curses are a large and integral part of the Yumina curriculum. In fact, nowadays, when one thinks of witchcraft, curses and hexes tend to come to mind first.

    The strong focus on both salubrious medicines and deleterious curses is a sharp dichotomy that characterizes the Department and perhaps reflects the true nature of Witches.

    Of course, there are no longer any Witches present in the Department, but one could say that its members are those still trying to replicate the Mysteries of those lost Witches.

    Natural History Museum, London
    A world-class national museum located in London.

    Dubbed the Cathedral of Nature, the Natural History Museum is home to numerous specimens of great scientific and historic value. It also serves as a center of earth and life science research, specializing in taxonomy, identification and conservation. Over its years of history, it has seen the support of many famous naturalists such as Charles Darwin, Alfred Wallace, and Thomas Huxley.

    Originally, it was a part of the British Museum, created only when the natural history collection at the British Museum grew too large and required its own separate building. Because of this, it has strong ties to the British Museum’s hidden side, the Clock Tower, and the magi within it. Like its parent museum, it too furtively hid many magical facilities behind and under its pedestrian veneer. Even after becoming legally separate, this remains true and the Natural History Museum is still connected to the Clock Tower with many magi having a heavy hand in it, especially those from the Departments of Mineralogy, Zoology, and Botany.

    Like other national museums in Britain, admission to the Natural History Museum is free. Because of this, the museum’s expenses are largely supplemented by the donations of its patrons and sponsors. Consequently, the museum’s biggest patrons have more than a little sway on the affairs of the museum.

    The Solander family is one such patron. Over the generations, they have offered much to the museum whether in the form of monetary funding, donated specimen collections, or talented curators. Azalea’s own mother was once a member of the museum’s Board of Trustees while her father’s company is one of museum’s most generous patrons. As a result of this history of support, the Solander family has no small influence over the museum. Renting the entire building out for the sake of their daughter’s birthday party is just one example of this authority.

    Uppsala
    A city in Sweden. It is a location of great historic and thaumaturgical value.

    Long ago, many centuries before the current state of the World of Magecraft, the Mage’s Association had many prosperous capitals of learning spread across Europe, not just the Clock Tower in London. Uppsala was one of these Magus Capitals, the magical center of the Scandinavian region. The Temple at Uppsala, said to have been constructed by the Norse God Freyr himself, was home and hub to many magi from that era.

    Unfortunately, or perhaps not, the Temple was destroyed and the magi were wiped out by the Holy Church in 1082 just as Christianity swept through the country. Just like that, yet another of many magus capitals was stomped out by the Church. Only a century later, in 1200 AD, the Clock Tower would become the sole center of the magical world.

    Nowadays, Uppsala is a modern city, the fourth-largest in Sweden, and no hidden magus headquarters can be found within it. There is certainly no Clock Tower equivalent and the Swedish branch of the Mage’s Association is located in another city. It is said, however, that there are still some magi in Uppsala who still remember what once was…

    Sacred Tree of Uppsala
    A mysterious tree that was said to have been at Uppsala Temple prior to its destruction.

    Little is known about it. One of the only records of its existence, written in the 11th century, states that it was an evergreen tree with a nearby spring or well where people would perform sacrifices in order to get their wishes fulfilled.

    Historians have noted that the descriptions of the tree greatly resemble that of the legendary World Tree Yggdrasil and the Well of Urd, Urðarbrunnr. It has been suggested that perhaps the connection is deliberate and that the Swedes had consciously created a copy of the world of the Norse Gods at Uppsala.

    Could it be that the Sacred Tree of Upsalla was in fact a magical replica of Yggdrasil, an artificial recreation of the Norse Age of Gods? Or could it have even been a remnant of the actual legendary tree itself?

    Unfortunately, the truth is lost to time. But perhaps there are still magi in the world who may remember this hidden mystery…
    History
    The history of the Solander magus lineage begins in 18th century Sweden, the era of Swedish Enlightenment, where the country’s intellectualism and culture reached its fullest expression. It is among the many legendary thinkers of this epoch that a man by the name of Daniel Solander would make a name for himself.

    Solander was a bright youth with a keen mind for academics. These gifts and his own ambitions would lead him to Uppsala University where he would meet the celebrated Carl Linnaeus, known today as the Father of Modern Taxonomy. It is here, under Linnaeus’s wing and tutelage, that Solander’s talents for studying natural history would blossom. Solander would soon become Linnaeus’s favorite disciple and the two formed a close bond much like father and son. This relationship only furthered when Solander fell in love with Linnaeus’s daughter, Lisa Stina. The two of them became loving sweethearts and Linnaeus himself was more than eager to accept Solander as his son-in-law. As things were, it was only inevitable for Solander to end up becoming Linnaeus’s successor.

    But all of that suddenly changed, when Solander left the country for London and never returned. Although it was meant to be a temporary business trip to help promote his teacher’s work, Solander would choose for some reason to stay in London instead of returning home to his teacher and lover back in Sweden. His marriage to Lisa Stina never followed through and he slowly cut off his connections to Linnaeus, neither becoming his successor nor even sending back the fruits of his research. Instead, Solander would begin working for the British Museum and forge his own path of great accomplishments.

    Solander would go on to go on a number of scientific explorations, from which he would discover hundreds of new plants to science and catalogue even more. He would become known as both the first Swede and the first university-educated scientist to touch Australian Soil as well as being the first Swede to circumnavigate the globe, before dying at the age of 49 from a stroke, having never against set foot on Swedish land.

    That is the story of Daniel Solander, Nature’s Argonaut.

    And yet, this story presents us with a curious mystery. Why didn’t Solander return to Sweden?

    Back home, he had waiting for him a celebrated teacher, a sweet lover, and a primrose future set out for him. Why would he throw that all away to stay in England?

    The answer to that mystery lies in what he found in that rainy country.


    In truth, Daniel Solander had actually been a magus.

    The same could be said of his teacher, Carl Linnaeus, who though a celebrated scientist by day, was a contemporary and relative of the famous mystic, Emmanuel Swedenborg. Linnaeus had gathered under his wing at Uppsala University a number of disciples fervently dedicated to the study of botany, both scientific and magical. These magi had all come together at Uppsala, the former magus capital, not only to learn from Linnaeus but for the sake of a common goal: the revival of the Norse Age of Gods through the restoration or recreation of Yggdrasil.

    The most prominent of these students were known as the Apostles of Linnaeus and they would go on to scatter across the world for the sake of this world. Whether it be the Fushang Tree in China or the Ished Tree of Egypt, they traveled to every corner of the globe to find some thaumaturgy or ideas from these foreign cultures/foundations. Of course, all of this was hidden to history as magus affairs should be and the group are now recognized simply as a group of students who went on grand scientific expeditions.

    And among these disciples was Daniel Solander, Linnaeus’s favorite pupil and apparent successor as a magus. Having the most magical potential among Linnaeus’s students, he was all but chosen to inherit Linnaeus’s research and carry out his legacy. And it was under this context that Solander had been sent to London, the center of the Magical World.

    Solander had arrived in London under hidden business to sort out some matters with the Clock Tower, the main branch of the Mage’s Association, on Linnaeus’s behalf. But at the same time, he had a hidden agenda for coming to the magus capital, one he even kept secret from Linnaeus.

    Solander too was dedicated to the goal of restoring the legendary World Tree, Yggdrasil, believing not only in the revival of the Norse Age of Gods but also that the tree itself held the secrets of the universe and a path to the Root in its roots and branches. That’s why, just like his fellow Apostles, he too sought out new ideas and magecrafts that they had not thought of yet. For that reason he came to England in order to find and consult the experts of botanical thaumaturgy, the race of inhuman beings that founded the Clock Tower’s Faculty of Botany: the Witches.

    And so, after some time searching, he found exactly what he was looking for in a distant forest deep into the British countryside.

    He met a Witch.

    One of the miracles of the World that had still been able to avoid the deterioration caused by human society.

    To this sheltered fairy, Solander passionately entreated for help, slowly winning her favor and approval. In time, the two became close partners working together on his thaumaturgy: one, a naïve princess who knew only nature and magic; the other, a bold adventurer from another country. These two diametric opposites seemingly attracted each other by nature and ended up coming into a peculiar relationship, bridging the wide gap between Witch and Magus.

    It was this encounter that would end up completely changing the course of Solander’s life. For although he wouldn’t realize it until much later when it was too late, he had fallen in love with the Witch.

    It was truly a fairy tale romance.

    Being with her, learning from her, working with her, all those things made him slowly forget the life that he had waiting for him back home. Just as the magecrafts taught him helped him develop a new thaumaturgic theory, the time he spent with her showed him another path in life, different from the primrose one that Linnaeus had paved him. With each passing day, he became more and more hesitant to return to Sweden all that awaited him back home. Even the passionate love he once held for Linnaeus’s daughter seemed to burn quieter in that deep, dark forest.

    This dissonance would reach its apex when Solander reported the results of his discoveries to Linnaeus and his teacher responded with firm disapproval. Linnaeus firmly advised Solander against learning from the Witch. He warned that mingling with one would inevitably result in tragedy, but Solander stubbornly refused to listen, not appreciating the harsh language being used regarding his new friend. This disagreement would cement Solander’s decision to ultimately stay in England and not return to Sweden after all.

    And thus, the two’s new life together in England fully began. Solander would end up finding employment with the British Museum, better known in the world of magic as the Clock Tower, and officially joined the Faculty of Botany there, quickly rising up the ranks thanks to the advice of the Witch. And while he couldn’t bring the Witch to the city with him, he would take frequent trips to the countryside to visit her with gifts and stories of his adventures.

    It was the life that either of that had expected for themselves, but it ended up being the life they wanted. Even if at times they were apart, halfway across the world, as long as they would reunite at that forest entrance, it all just came together for them.

    It truly was a romance out of a fairy tale.

    Which was why it couldn’t have lasted.

    As Linnaeus warned, it ended only in tragedy…




    “Daniel? Daniel!? What are you doing?”

    The Witch cried out in confusion and pain.

    “Ow! Daniel, it hurts. Stop it, what are you doing?”

    She called out to him, the man who had been so dear to her, with panicked pleas. But they only fell on deaf ears as the man continued to drag her by her neck and hair.

    “Daniel…?”

    She called out again, this time out of concern.

    There was something strange about him. Something wrong. This wasn’t him. This wasn’t the man she had come to know so well after years together. This was not her Daniel.

    His eyes. Oh, his eyes. They were cold and fierce. Such terribly frightening eyes were now adorning her companion’s face. That alone confirmed that something was wrong with him. He had never looked at her with such eyes before.

    But what was it? What had come over him? How could she help and free him from this affliction?

    As she pondered that desperately while fighting off the pain, she finally realized where he was dragging her to.

    A small clearing in the forest in which a single tree stood at the center. It was the site where they had both poured their dreams and efforts into together. A place of cherished memories and bright hopes. And hanging from that precious tree was now a noose…

    “… no. No, no, Daniel, you can’t. Daniel? Daniel!?” The Witch cried out desperately as she realized why he had forcefully brought her here.

    She began to struggle, fighting for her life, but the man’s grip remained firm. Slowly but surely, he brought her to the tree, forcing down her pitiful attempts at resistance, and positioned her beneath the roped branch.

    “… why? Why are you doing this?” She finally asked, squeezing out the words from her strangling neck.

    The man seemed not to react to her pained pleas. He simply continued to raise her up as he responded.

    “I finally found my answer.”

    “Huh?”

    “After several years, I’ve finally completed my formula. The preparations for creating the Divine Tree are complete. All that’s left… is to make the appropriate sacrifice.”

    “… no. No, you can’t.”

    “Yes, I can. I have what I need right here.”

    “But you can’t! Why? I thought you… I thought we… Weren’t we going to be together?”

    She cried out in tears, her heart bawling out of her eyes. All of the memories, all of the times they spent together was poured into those words.

    And yet, the only response she got were those same cold eyes glaring back at her unfeelingly as he slipped the noose around her neck.

    Eyes she had never seen before, yet now understood to have been there the whole time. The eyes of a Magus.

    That was his answer.

    How cruel. How unfair. Even though she loved him…

    She loved him. She truly loved him. She had never said it out loud, but she knew that she loved him and he knew it too.

    But even though she loved him… he still looked at her with those eyes. Eyes that told her he saw her as nothing more than a tool to progress his own aims. After all they had been through, that was all she was to him.

    How terrible. How horrible. How regrettable. How… how… how dare he!

    She had given him so much, basically everything she had, including her heart, and this was how he treated her? Was that the kind of person he was? Was that what being a human meant!?

    Her fellow Witches had warned her. They told her that not to have feelings towards humans. They warned her to stay her. But she didn’t listen to them, oh how foolish she was. But now she knew. Now she could see it with her own eyes. The true nature of humanity!

    Treacherous, ungrateful, lying scumbags! Opportunistic manipulating philanderes! How dare he toy with the pure feelings of a maiden and trample upon them so ruthlessly! Such evil shall not go unpunished!

    Never again. Never again will she fall for their lies. Never again will she hold feelings towards humans.

    That was what she promised herself as the noose finally tightened around her neck. Her final resolve and answer after a life of lies.

    That was how their fairy tale romance ended.

    A story of inevitable tragedy.

    For in the end, he had been a human and she had been a Witch. No other ending could’ve occurred between them.

    With that, their love vanished into history, having born no fruit after all. The two never got married nor did they have children. There was no happily ever after. The only things that existed between them were those distant halcyon memories now tarnished with blood.

    Shortly after the Witch met her end at the base of the tree, the man also died from a sudden stroke, as if he had been afflicted by the Witch’s final curse. The two passed into the afterlife together, victims of their own fate…

    Thus closes the story of the Magus and the Witch. A story of romance and tragedy.

    But then, one might ask, if that was how it ended, who is the woman calling herself Azalea Ashtyn Solander?

    Well, as it turns out, their fairy tale romance did in fact bear a single fruit…




    Moments after the death of Daniel Solander, something emerged from the tree where the Witch had been sacrificed.

    A woman.

    Or rather, something that had the appearance of a human woman.

    The Witch’s death had not been in vain after all nor had the magus’s machinations. This was the result of his answer. The fruits of his sacrifice. Daniel Solander’s final magecraft.

    Upon emerging from the tree like a butterfly breaking out of its cocoon, the woman immediately understood what exactly she was and what had led to her creation.

    She was not human nor was she technically a proper Witch either. Thus, lacking a name for herself, she decided to call herself an Ash Witch, a Witch born from the ashes of a burnt-out love.

    And those ashes were now the only memory left of the fairy tale that had ended in that very forest.

    Thus, inheriting the name of the magus and the feelings of the Witch, the Ash Witch headed towards the city with a single purpose in mind:

    To fulfill the dream that the two of them once shared…
    Thaumaturgy
    “What is the difference between mythology and fantasy?”

    The Witch had once cheekily asked him this while they were discussing their theories.

    From the view of a modern scientist, one might answer that there is no difference the two at all. They are both just fictitious stories dreamt up by humans.

    But to a magus, there is a clear difference between the two. Mythology is the result of a past that no longer aligns with reality while Fantasy is a fiction created by those in the present age.

    That is also the same difference between a Magus and a Witch. It is said that while science moves towards the future, magecraft moves towards the past, recreating mysteries that no longer exist in the present day. Compared to that, Witches are things that have no basis in the past or future. They simply manifest fantasies that belong to the present.

    However, in order to accomplish the lofty goal of recreating Yggdrasil, both magecraft and witchcraft were necessary. Neither Solander nor the Witch alone were capable of completely creating a brand-new Yggdrasil in the Age of Man. However, although they were both botanical magi, they each brought something different to table and together they were able to develop a theory for the resurrection of the World Tree.

    Sacred Trees
    The core of the Solander magi’s thaumaturgical research.

    Across both Germanic mythology and German paganism, trees have held a particularly sacred role as objects and places of holy worship. Likely derived from the mythological role of Yggdrasil, these sacred trees were consecrated with spiritual power, functioning similarly to a temple or an altar. There was a belief that spirits, deities or otherwise, dwelt within these holy trees and could be prayed to or appeased with sacrifices.

    Vårdträd or warden trees are one example of this. These trees acted like guardian spirits, protecting the people living nearby from disease or bad luck. The respect for them was so great that even breaking a twig was considered a serious offense and some families even adopted surnames related to the tree they were housing. One such family name was Linnaeus; referencing a sacred linden tree, it represented the Linnaeus family’s special connection to their own sacred tree.

    Under the tutelage of Carl Linnaeus, Solander learned the arcane secrets behind these arboreal mysteries. He mastered the techniques for creating, maintaining, and using the sacred trees all for the sake of one day restoring the greatest sacred tree of all, Yggdrasil.

    To that end, Linnaeus, Solander, and his fellow disciples had worked hard at first creating a magical replica of Yggdrasil. Although they would ultimately come short, their research did show some results. One such example is a Sacred Tree that was capable of pinning multiple overlapping boundary fields at once to a single location and maintaining all of them autonomously – the first step towards a tree capable of holding Nine Realms within itself.

    Unfortunately, their research and efforts eventually reached a limit and they found themselves hitting a wall. Thus, they began seeking out other botanical mysteries and specimens from around the world in hopes they might provide an unexpected solution or inspiration for getting past the obstacles they were facing.

    And in the forests of England, Solander would find such a thing in the form of a helpful Witch.

    Fantasy Tree
    Witches are beings of fantasy. Through their unique nature and abilities, they are able to replicate the many objects and fairy tales of humanity and turn them into powerful illusions. Because of this, they are an exception to many of the rules and obstacles binding magi.

    However, even with that, the Witch alone could not completely replicate Yggdrasil. This was because – putting aside the issues of scale and power – the World Tree was something that belonged to the past. It wasn’t something that humans dreamt about in the present. So even if the Witch managed to create it, an illusion of something that doesn’t exist in the present world will inevitably be crushed by the World itself.

    When used in conjunction with Solander’s magecraft, however, that miracle became possible. Solander’s sacred tree, based on the original Yggdrasil, was used as a base while the Witch layered her fantasies on top of it to fill in the gaps and complete the illusion. At that time in the 18th century, Britain and other parts of Europe saw the rise of an unprecedented interest in foreign, exotic lands. Coming off the end of the Age of Exploration, the common folk had begun to take interest in the other continents of the world. Whereas in the distant past, humans once dreamt of different worlds by looking towards the sky, humans now looked across the ocean, imagining fantastical realms on the other side. These daydreams would coalesce into the emergence of travel literature, records of maritime exploration compiled into stories, and the universally-read classic known as Gulliver’s Travels. This satirical story told of numerous fantastical other worlds just a voyage away and left its impression in the minds of people of all ages and social circles. Furthermore, the story was rife with an underlying hatred for humanity, which made it well-suited for witchcraft. Using this as a basis, the Witch was able to impart the concept of Interconnected Otherworlds to the sacred tree, forming the template for its Nine Realms.

    As for the sacred tree itself, it served as a physical vessel for these manifested fantasies and acted as a lynchpin that tied those illusions to the World. The legendary Yggdrasil had been the center of the world in Norse Mythology, if not essentially being the world itself, and likely served a role in pinning the Norse Mythological Texture to the World, similar in concept to World Pillars like Rhongomyniad. Likewise, Solander’s replica was also able to maintain the Witch’s fantasies and keep the World from destroying them. In other words, while the Witch projected her fantasies onto the tree, the tree itself then in turn projected fantasies onto the canvas of the World.

    This synergistic combination of magecraft and witchcraft was able to bring their joint creation infinitely closer to the original Yggdrasil than ever before. In essence, it was a nearly perfect recreation of Yggdrasil and its inherent sorcery traits. A miraculous replica born from the fusion of sacred trees and fantasy realms. One may even call it a Fantasy Tree.

    However, while the pair had succeeded in replicating the traits of Yggdrasil, nearly to perfection, their tree was still missing something. Simply put, it was hollow. Although the Witch had layered on her fantasies on top of the tree, the insides were still vacuous. Like a cake with immaculate frosting, but was made with cheap, second-rate batter. Because of this, it failed to grow to the level of power and scale necessary for a true World True. All their efforts had resulted in nothing more than a Tree of Emptiness.

    Contemplating this dilemma, the two theorized that the best solution to make up for this deficiency was to provide the tree with a strong spiritual ground. The intense magical energy from the leylines would serve as nutrients for the tree to grow big and strong. But obtaining those spiritual grounds was quite the difficult task for the two of them. Land of that magical importance was hard to come by and mostly monopolized by pre-existing magi like the aristocrats of the Association. Solander tried looking for such convenient land during his expeditions around the world in Australia and Iceland, but the actual environmental conditions of those locales also made them unsuitable for growing their tree. Thus, Solander eventually concluded that the only way to obtain what they needed was for him to rise up the ranks of the Association until he became enough of a big-shot that he could get his hands on some of the Association’s land. And if that was a task too great for himself, he’d leave it to his descendants. In the end, all he could was embrace the humility of all magi and believe in the next generations.

    At least that’s what he resigned himself to, while in the back of his head, he continued to ponder the problem. Deep down, he wasn’t entirely convinced that leylines alone would perfect their tree. Fundamentally, it was still hollow. To become truly perfect, it needed something that could serve as its core, a powerful Mystery that could give life to the Sacred Tree.

    He would spend his last years ruminating on this theory of his until he came up with a solution…

    Blót
    Blót or Blood Sacrifice. A ritual for worshipping or strengthening through sacrifice.

    Throughout history, the concept of ritual sacrifice has been present in many cultures and religions. Norse Mythology and Germanic Paganism are no exceptions to this. More than just a simple practice, blót was said to be central to all ritual activities in Norse sacral structures. The killing of offered animals was a spectacle of blood and the blood itself was considered to have special powers. But animals were not the only creatures that were sacrificed. At times, even humans were known to be offered to the Gods or the spirits of the land.

    Perhaps the greatest mythological example of a ritual sacrifice is the tale of Odin hanging himself on the branch of Yggdrasil. Sacrificing himself to himself, he obtained enlightenment after nine long nights and walked away with the sacred knowledge of the runes.

    Sacred Trees have also had a connection to these sacrifices. Functioning similarly to temples or alters due to their consecrated power, sacred trees were also used as the sites of blood sacrifices. And while slaughter and bloodshed was still a common method of doing so, there were also sacrifices that consisted of hanging the sacrifice from the branch of a sacred tree, perhaps in mimicry of Odin and Yggdrasil. Records tell of the people of Uppsala performing a ritual in which they hanged nine of every creature, including humans, from the branches of the Sacred Tree at Uppsala and smeared its bark with blood.

    Speaking from a magecraft perspective, one school of thought is that the act of sacrificing animals and humans next to a tree would cause the slaughtered creature’s spiritual remnants or leftover thoughts to flow into the tree itself. Over time, as these remnants accumulated, they would coalesce into forming a Nature Spirit within the tree, thereby truly making it sacred and giving it the power to grant the wishes of those who prayed to it.

    Thus, a certain person thought to himself…

    Sacrifice mortal creatures and you get a Nature Spirit.

    Sacrifice a God and you get Runes.

    So, what happens when you sacrifice a Witch?

    That was the answer that Daniel Solander had reached…

    Ash Witch
    A Witch born from the ashes of a burnt-out love.

    A unique existence in the Moonlit World, created from an unprecedented theory. Something that is both a Witch and also not quite a Witch at the same time.

    As it has never been even attempted before in recorded magecraft history, there is no clear definitive explanation behind the mechanics of an Ash Witch’s existence. The magus responsible for it himself had died before it bore fruit, so even he could not confirm what truly happened. However, his theory behind it was thus:

    A Witch is a type of fairy, an extension of the planet itself. In some sense, they are similar to Nature Spirits, spiritual bodies formed from the will of the planet and born from elements of nature such as rocks or plants. As human civilization developed, there were many Witches who chose to return to the earth, becoming one with the planet once more.

    Just like how sacrificing humans to a sacred tree would cause their spiritual remnants to be absorbed into the tree, the sacrifice of a Witch would cause its spiritual core to return to the earth by being absorbed into the tree. In doing so, a completely new spiritual being would be born.

    In Norse Mythology, it is said that the very first humans were created from trees. Odin and his two brothers bestowed on two trees the gifts of Soul, Sense, and Heat respectively. Thus, from the wood an ash tree the first man was born and from the wood of an elm tree the first woman. In sacrificing the Witch to the tree, this process was essentially reproduced. Her own soul became the tree’s. Her nature as a fairy, the planet’s sense of touch, gave it Sense. And the blood she spilled in death preferred to it Heat. Thus, a human-like being was formed.

    This was Solander’s solution to the Yggdrasil’s replica’s imperfections. In order to give the hollow tree the power and lifeforce it required, it needed a strong spiritual core on the inside. For the World Tree, it needed a life equal to the World itself. What better then than a piece of the planet? By obtaining the soul of a Witch, it gained both stability, through the connection to the planet, and a rank of spiritual existence equal to the miracles of the magical world known as Witches.

    Thus, the Ash Witch was born.

    To be clear, the Ash Witch is not simply something born from the Sacred Tree. It is actually in essence the tree itself, having gained humanoid form. In doing so, it naturally also has all of the attributes and sorcery traits of the tree that was a near perfect replica of Yggdrasil.

    Thus, the true nature of the Ash Witch is actually a personification of Yggdrasil itself.
    Background


    The Solander magi family are Ash Witches, a lineage directly descended from the original Ash Witch born from the Witch’s sacrifice. Having adopted the name of Solander for their own, they now pursue the dream he once held as magi themselves.

    Although Daniel Solander’s thaumaturgic theory had proven correct, that did not mean his goal had been completed. Instead, in reality, he had simply laid the groundwork upon which that dream could actually, conceivably be reached. In simpler terms, he had created the perfect seed but the tree itself still needed to grow.

    That is the Solanders’ reason for being magi. To grow a tree, one needs to provide it good soil, plenty of water, and lots of sunlight. Likewise, the Solanders need to feed their tree the nutrients it needs to grow. Thus, similar to how magi spend generation after generation adding magecrafts to their Crest, the Solanders spend their entire lives obtaining the materials that serve as the tree’s nutrients, feeding them to the tree, and then passing on the task to the next generation.

    Of course, in order to obtain the necessary materials, they need influence. Daniel Solander had committed himself to a life at the Clock Tower in hopes of rising up the ranks enough to obtain the spiritual land he needed among other things. The Ash Witches have followed a similar path, rising up the world of magi so that they may have the influence and resources necessary to complete their growth. However, even after inheriting Solander’s position at the British Museum and the Clock Tower, they were still a young, unestablished family with no aristocratic blood. No one would give them the time of day. There was simply no seat open for them at the top of the Tower. So, they needed to take a shortcut to the top: a super unfair cheat code called money.

    By nature, all Ash Witches are born female. And perhaps because they are Witches, they are all born inhumanly beautiful. In order to accomplish their goals, they took advantage of their beauty and seduced men of great power and wealth. They would essentially marry these men, while hiding their true natures as magi and Witches, and use them solely for the resources they could offer. To minimize risk, they never once went after another magus, only instead marrying wealthy civilians with no resistance to their supernatural charms. Thus, while other magi stressed over marriages that would provide their heirs the best circuits and sorcery traits, the Solanders cared only for money and amassed their fortune through marriage alone. They would then use this wealth to buy their way to the top of the Clock Tower, creating a seat for themselves among London’s wealthy elites.

    But even while doing this, their feelings and resolve never wavered. They did not fall in love with their husbands and degrade like many of their fellow Witches. To them, although they acted differently, the men they married and slept with were nothing more than a means to an end. There were no true emotions or attachments towards them. They became the lovers of men without falling in love.

    For generations, this was how the Solanders operated. A young Ash Witch would be raised by the man that her mother had married and spend his money at the Clock Tower. When the time came, she would also use his connections to find herself a good spouse, seduce the man before marrying him and obtaining access to his resources as well. In some cases, though not regularly, the husband might also be stricken with a sudden illness and all of his wealth would transfer to the Witch upon his untimely death. All the while, these funds would be poured into obtaining nutrients for the World Tree, letting it grow over centuries and generations. Then, once the time was right, the Ash Witch would give birth to a daughter and pass everything off onto her.

    While this generational progression is similar to that of magi, the concept of generations is actually somewhat different for Ash Witches. Fairies do not have family in the same way that humans do. Instead, fairy offspring are those who are born with the same purpose as their so-called parents, who have already fulfilled their purposes and passed on. There is no true blood connection between them. Witches are also somewhat similar, with some witches effectively being their own mother and daughter. In the case of Ash Witches, things are complicated.

    When an Ash Witch decides that it is time for the next generation, she manifests as seed from herself and plants it, preferably in spiritually rich land obtained during her lifetime. Over the next nine years or so, this seed will grow into a tree under the nurturing watch of the Ash Witch, infusing the tree with all of the improved magecrafts and resources accumulated through her years of magus life. Once the tree finally reaches a proper state of maturity, the Ash Witch puts the finishing touch on it by sacrificing herself to the tree. Shortly after, a new Ash Witch is born from that tree and it heads out into the world, ready to restart the cycle anew.

    Unlike humans, they do not directly procreate through sexual insemination nor do they pollinate like normal trees. Frankly, they are biologically incapable of becoming pregnant like a normal human woman. Instead, they manifest seeds from themselves and grow a new tree from which an Ash Witch can be born, albeit the seed itself carries some genetic data from the Ash Witch’s husband due to impurifications that emerge from sexual intercourse. But while a new tree from which a new physical body is grown, the actual spiritual core remains the same, being passed on upon the sacrifice process.

    In other words, both mother and daughter are effectively the same being as each as well as to all of their ancestors, just taking a new form with each generation. That said, while they are the same spiritual being with the same spiritual core, they are different people. They not only look slightly different from their predecessors but also have vastly different personalities. They don’t even share clear memories with their predecessors. The only things inherited between generations are their feelings and emotions.

    Thus, no matter how many generations later, the deep trauma they experienced through bitter betrayal and the hopeful romantic dreams they hold remain the same.

    For that purpose, they continue to resolutely march forward, always focused on growing the Sacred Tree that is themselves. As for what exactly the nutrients for growing Yggdrasil are… well, spiritually rich land taking the place of fertile soil is one. Obtaining the rights to better and better spiritual land with each generation is one of the core reasons for them being at the Clock Tower. Another is the use of botanical magecrafts that foster the growth of mystical trees, secrets that they spend their time at the Clock Tower fervently researching. Overall, though, the main ingredient for growing Yggdrasil is bloodshed. Instead of water, the World Tree drinks blood.

    To be clear, they don’t literally drink blood like vampires. Rather, the best to strengthen their Yggdrasil is through ritual sacrifice. Animal sacrifices work too to a lesser degree, but the true optimal resource is human sacrifice. By regularly sacrificing humans to themselves and absorbing their souls, Yggdrasil grows stronger and stronger with every passing day.

    While this may seem to suggest that the best course of option for the family is to go on a murder-spree and power-level the tree, this train of thought has problems. One, it’s too blatant. That sort of wanton bloodshed would draw too much attention to themselves, both from civilians and from the Mage’s Association. Not only would it violate the Concealment of Mystery, but it may also show their hand to other magi who might figure out what they truly are. Second, and more importantly, it’s not efficient. In fact, it’s dangerous even. When it comes to matters like these, souls are not fully intangible things. They have weight, density, strength. Devouring one as sustenance means having to add that to yourself. Now, the Soul of a Witch is far purer and stronger than that of a human, so absorbing them is normally no problem. However, consume too many at once and they may quickly add up enough to start actually influencing the Soul of the Witch. At best, this may cause impurities in the Witch’s Soul. At worst, it may result in an imbalance of power that causes the Witch to lose its complete sense of self. Instead of this, sacrificing souls on a regular schedule that effectively gives time for oneself to digest the souls they consume properly is the safest manner of doing this. Haste will only cause waste, so the Ash Witches have taken a lesson from magi and chosen to do things slowly and steadily.

    It is only a matter of time, very soon, when they will have completed their Yggdrasil.
    Abilities

    Azalea Ashtyn Solander is a unique magus with a peculiar set of a skills. Her family are distinguished members of the Clock Tower’s Faculty of Botany and are likewise very skilled in plant-based magecrafts. Despite their relatively short history as official magi, their special talents and vast resources have allowed them to reach the rank of Fes within only around 2 centuries. Azalea herself is a talented magus with a creative mind suited for developing new magecraft theories. Although her magic circuits are of a lower quality, the sheer quantity of circuits she was born with makes her a treasured magus. Furthermore, in addition to her knowledge of magical botany from her studies at the Clock Tower, her close involvement with the Natural History Museum has led her to become well-versed in scientific botany as well. Her familiarity with different species of plants is near encyclopedic. Easily recognizing any as easily as she would the back of her own hand, one may even be led to believe that she was a plant herself.

    The magecraft Azalea primarily practices is Black Magic (Witchcraft). It is an old mystic art characterized by its use of sacrifices. These tributes are not just supplements for amplifying the power of one’s spells but instead requirements for the use of one’s magecraft. Due to such strict conditions, it is an inconvenient but potentially powerful thaumaturgy. It is said that those who practice black magic require a certain disposition, namely, one who would not hesitate to pull apart living sacrifices. An iron will that suppresses all emotions will not falter nor lose itself in the act of slaughter is a necessity. In that regard, Azalea is a peerless talent, for she already feels nothing from the death of humans.

    In addition to her classical use of black magic, Azalea’s heritage as a Witch also allows her to use her own unique Witchcraft in conjunction with standard witchcraft to create fantastical spells that stretch the limits of what can even be considered magic. As a result of these synergistic arts, she has accumulated a number of familiars and Mystic Codes at her disposal. As she herself is not well-suited to violent combat, these auxiliary tools provide much needed convenience to her specialized, knowledge-heavy skill set.

    Beyond all of this, though, Azalea’s true worth is not in her magical prowess but in the very nature of her existence. She is an Ash Witch. In other words, she is the personification of the legendary World Tree of Norse Mythology, Yggdrasil. When the full potential of that fact is unlocked, she is nothing less than a divine miracle, world-class force of nature.

    Yggdrasil
    Born from the Solander family’s near-perfect replication of Yggdrasil, Azalea has inherited all of the attributes and traits of the World Tree. In essence, she is no different from the tree itself being given a humanoid form.

    Despite that, it should be made clear that while she is essentially the tree itself, she does not have the physical attributes of a tree. For example, she does not have the toughness and sturdiness one would typically associate with trees. In fact, she is actually on the more delicate side as far as humans go. If she were to punch someone, it would not be with the weight and force of a tree falling down on you; more likely that not, she’d probably hurt herself instead. Besides her slightly above average height, there is nothing very tree-like about her physique.

    The true value of being Yggdrasil, besides the inherent worth of a miraculous mystery, comes from her ability to control nature. As an existence very close to Nature Spirits, a Fairy born from a mystical tree, Azalea has the ability to use Marble Phantasm. It is a power reserved for beings that function as the planet’s sense of touch, the ability to reconstruct the world based on one’s will. While all nature spirits should posses it, the actual scale and range of this ability depends on the Elemental. For example, a river spirit would only be able to actualize phenomenon on the level of a river. In the case of Azalea, though, she is the spirit of Yggdrasil, the World Tree from which all of creatures and lands are born. Thus, her Marble Phantasm grants her dominion over all of nature.

    To be clear, though, it isn’t all-powerful. She is just conceptually capable of interfering, altering, and manifesting almost any type of natural phenomenon whether it be plants, rocks, waters, or etc. The actual scale of these manifestations is still tied to her own level as an Elemental. That does, of course, mean that with each generation, as Yggdrasil grows within them, the power of their Mable Phantasm grows proportionally. And after two centuries of growth, Azalea’s use of Marble Phantasm has evolved to be quite considerable.

    In addition to this, as an artificially created extension of nature in humanoid form, Azalea is similar to perfect homunculi in the sense of being a “child of nature”. This means that she is connected to the planet itself and the Mana it holds. Much like a tree sucking up water and nutrients from the soil, she is able to draw mana from the land itself, giving her vast reserves of magical energy at her disposal. Furthermore, it means she ages peculiarly and, in theory, should not be able to die of old age, even if Ash Witches didn’t kill themselves through blood sacrifice.

    Fantasy Witchcraft
    As a Witch, or rather something descended from one, Azalea is able to use magecraft in ways unique to the Witch species. To her, spells are like tales. She condenses the ideas of a book and reproduces them as phenomena. She herself likens the art to creating a live action adaptation of a beloved book series that no one will have any faith in being good, whatever that means.

    With each generation, a Witch tunes and adjust the mysteries she inherits from her predecessor to suit her own taste and uses. Often, this has the added effect of helping Witches keep up with the times, so that they do not miss what fairy tales are currently popular. The shape and flavor that these mysteries may take often reflect not only the Witch’s personal taste but also the spirit of the era. For example, the original Witch that started everything used Gulliver’s Travels as a major basis for her witchcraft while Azalea’s mother used the works of C. S. Lewis.

    In Azalea’s case, she has strayed from the tradition of sing British literature or fairy tales. Instead, the books she draws her spells from are her favorite foreign light novels. In particular, those of the otherworld portal fantasy genre with heavy themes of wish fulfillment are both her personal favorites and comprise a large core of her spells.

    Although Witches typically use fairy tales as the basis of their spells, it is technically possible to use literature as well, as long as the ideas of the book are widespread and applicable enough to match those of oral traditions. In that sense, while her predecessor’s choices were good enough, Azalea’s tastes are a little niche, even with the help of modern globalization bridging the language barrier. To somewhat compensate for this, Azalea sometimes also amplifies her spells by adding magecraft theories based on related mythological concepts as well.

    In such a case, it can be a little risky to draw from multiple disparate works as the differences between them may cause inconsistencies in her magecraft theory. However, according to her…

    “There’re basically all the same anyways. Just the same motifs jumbled around a little and an extra gimmick added on top over and over again.”

    So, she says.

    Some examples of the kinds of spells she can use through this form of magecraft include:

    • A curse that makes its victim get hit by a truck
    • A slime familiar that can devour and digest almost any matter
    • A shield spell that gets more powerful the more hatred there is in your heart
    • A hallucinogen plant spell that makes one hallucinate that they're playing a videogame they like
    • An apple that returns people to zero by granting the one who eats it a limited form of immortality. The moment you consume it, the fruit forces your soul to record its current state as a backup blueprint. Then, the next time you die, your soul automatically reboots itself and forces your body to return to that last backup, thereby effectively reviving you. One-time use and extremely expensive to make.


    Nine Realms
    The Nine Worlds encompassed by Yggdrasil.

    As Yggdrasil personified, Azalea is also connected to nine worlds inside of her. They are not physical spaces that exist within reality but are instead constructed worlds completely cut off from normal reality and exist only within Azalea’s self. In other words, they are all Reality Marbles.

    The taboo of taboos. The innermost thaumaturgy. The pinnacle of Bounded Fields. Reality Marbles are materializations of one’s inner world. It is the Self that exists separate from the World, according to the World Egg Thaumaturgical Theory.

    Based on any metric of common sense or logic, the idea of a single person having nine different reality marbles is absurd. However, that exact absurdity is possible due to Yggdrasil’s concept of Nine Realms. If Yggdrasil represents the World itself and the Nine Realms are all worlds within Yggdrasil, then it is not impossible for Azalea who is Yggdrasil to have nine inner worlds too.

    Being manifestations of her inner world, the Nine Realms are all in some way reflections of herself. However, because the formation of these worlds stems from her existence as Yggdrasil which itself is the result of her witchcraft, they are also somewhat colored by her thaumaturgy and the stories behind them. While normally a user cannot add their own will into the form and rules of the Reality Marble, due to these peculiar circumstances, Azalea has some level of control over what shape they take based on what fantasies she chooses to layer over herself.

    In essence, the Nine Realms are both manifestations of her inner world and fantasy realms constructed from witchcraft. In order to even form the replica Yggdrasil’s ability of connecting and holding different world, spells based on stories that involved other worlds was necessary. For example, in the case of the first Witch, it was the foreign lands described in Gulliver’s Travels.

    In Azalea case, her Nine Realms are formed from the otherworlds written about in her light novels, whether they be parallel dimensions or worlds based on fictional videogames. As such the concepts and ideas commonly present in these works have heavily covered the Nine Realms within her.

    At any time, all nine of these Reality Marbles are active inside of her, operating almost autonomously without her supervision. As parts of herself, she of course has an idea of what’s inside each one and can, in a sense, watch over them from within her own mind. If necessary, she can even project an avatar of herself into one of the Reality Marbles. And when the time comes, it is still possible for her to fully manifest the Reality Marble into the real World. However, it is not possible for her to manifest more than one Reality Marble in the same location at the same time. Furthermore, once externalized, the same usual rules apply to the Reality Marble and it will be crushed by the World eventually.

    As a side note, for some reason, instead of Nine Realms or Nine Worlds, Azalea likes to call hers the Nine Sekais.

    Blood Sacrifice
    Due to her nature as a Sacred Tree, Azalea retains the ability to empower herself by sacrificing things to herself. To obtain many sacrifices and grow stronger is essentially her main objective as a magus.

    The manner of sacrificing something is simple. The sacrifice simply needs to die in a ritualistic manner near her. As long as that simple condition is fulfilled, she will be able to absorb their soul as sustenance. Viable targets for this include any type of living creature, but humans tend to be the best, most valuable type of sacrifice. Over her few years after becoming an adult, Azalea has already killed a number of humans in the name of sacrifice.

    Normally, that would be the end of it, but in Azalea’s case it isn’t. For some reason, after absorbing the soul of the recently sacrificed into herself, she doesn’t immediately break it down into pure magical energy for the sake of sustenance like her predecessors. Instead, she sends the soul untouched into one of her Nine Realms and allows it to live there with a manifested, fantasy body reconstructed from the soul’s blueprints. As long as the soul itself hasn’t been damaged during the death, it is able to retain full body autonomy and mental sentience within her inner world due to the enforced rules of the Reality Marble. In other words, it is almost as if they are able to live out a second life inside of her Reality Marble.

    Azalea herself also likes to take the form of an avatar within her Nine Realms, giving it the made up identity of Asuka, the Goddess of Life. Using this form and using one of the Nine Realms, Asgard, as her own personal mental refuge, she watches over her inner worlds and occasionally interacts with the people inside them with all the prejudice and care of a real goddess.

    All of this is, of course, done in absolute secrecy. To begin with, Azalea is extremely careful to set up the sacrifices so that nobody will link them back to her. Her preferred method of killing her sacrifices is with her signature curse that causes them to be hit by a truck. By additionally weaving in the concept of being sent to another world when you get hit by a truck, it expedites the sacrifice process and basically automatically sends the soul of the victim straight into her Nine Realms as long as she's nearby when the accident happens. And from the perspective of anyone else, it just looks like any other ordinary car accident. Thus, without another Ash Witch aware of her abilities, nobody will ever know what she’s up to. Likewise, no one has ever questioned her as to why she bothers not immediately digesting the souls she absorbs and thus she has never had to give an answer for it…

    Whatever the case, there are now a number of deceased humans living inside of her inner worlds. And from her lofty throne in Asgard, she watches them prance around inside of her for reasons unknown…
    Character


    “If to love is being able to let go,
    then is hatred clinging on for all eternity?”

    Azalea Ashtyn Solander is a mysterious young woman full of peculiarities that border on contradiction.

    At first glance, she is an elegant high-class lady with a melancholic air about her. She carries herself with perfect poise and her delicate long limbs move with an artistic grace. She speaks little but sighs often, as if carrying a terribly somber pain within her. If she were music, she would be smooth jazz playing in a café on a rainy night.

    Many who take notice of her are quickly charmed by this impression of her. However, upon closer inspection, one may find a set of idiosyncrasies to her behavior.

    From the way she dresses and acts, it is clear that she is a woman of high class. Wearing her gown and heels with such natural poise that they might as well be a part of her body, she is a consummate socialite well-suited for high society and frequently appears at fancy events for wealthy VIPs. Despite all this, she remains a reticent individual who shows literal interest in bonding with her fellow elites. She arrives at parties and then quickly skulks away to a quiet corner somewhere. Even when caught by an acquaintance and forced into conversation, one could spend an entire evening chatting with her over dinner and not get to know her any better. One might be wise to conclude then that she is simply a shy introvert who doesn’t handle big gatherings well, yet for some reason she keeps showing up to these A-list parties even with no one forcing her.

    Furthermore, in stark contrast to her classy image, she is actually a complete pop culture girl who is easily drawn to the latest trends and enjoys the entertainment of the masses. Her private quarters back home are just as rife with elegant furniture and cultured decorations as they are anime posters, figurines, and stuffed animals. Despite having a very refined taste and knowledge of high culture, she prefers cheap trashy light novels as entertainment over the best art the world has to offer.

    Generally speaking, Azalea comes across as a solemn and serious individual. Despite her young age, she projects the maturity of one far beyond her years. When she speaks, her insight is always sharp and keen. When she acts, it is always with an unflappable calm that will not waver even under the gravest pressure. Based on this, many think of as mature and cool-headed adult who acts with logic and drive. Yet at times, she does things so seemingly illogical they appear absurd. For example, once when she happened to find a nice looking stick on the ground outside an important business meeting and ended up bringing it into the meeting with her, swinging it around like a sword in the meeting room and nearly hitting some of the others present. Or another time, when she attended a party hosted by someone else and found the food not suitable for her palate, she ended up ordering enough food for all the guests to be delivered to the venue herself without informing the host. If not for the utter elegance and cool with which she did so, such actions would almost seem childish.

    In addition, perhaps the greatest mystery is her treatment of the humans she sacrifices to herself. At first, she seems to show no hesitation or remorse when killing these people, doing so with the cold-hearted will of a true magus. However, for some reason, she goes out of her way to keep their souls intact instead and allows them to live a second life inside of her, one full of fantastical otherworldly fun and adventure. Furthermore, she tends to target victims that seem tired of life and have no people in their life that will miss them. It is difficult to tell if she is a truly merciless magus or a kind person, given how she treats her sacrifices.

    Putting all of these aspects together paints a peculiar picture of Azalea. For any onlooker, it is hard to put a pin in who she really is. On one hand, she seems to be a timorous soul, yet she is an active socialite. She seems like a refined, classy young lady, yet her heart is gripped by pop culture. She is elegant yet careless at times. Mature yet imprudent. Decorous yet rude. Merciful yet cold-hearted.

    The answer to all of these idiosyncrasies lies at the core of who Azalea truly is. It is the one thing above all else that defines her.

    She hates humans.

    There is nothing else that needs to be said. There is nothing else that can be said about it. It is simply who Azalea Ashtyn Solander is.

    She is indeed the refined, elegant and intelligent young woman that everyone assumes her to be. It is just that, on top of that, she also holds nothing but antipathy for the human race.

    Besides having to participate in high society for the sake of her goals as a magus, the only thing she cares about at the parties and social events she attends is the food and the music. Once she has had her fill of fancy delicacies, she casually retreats to a quiet corner where she will not have to deal with anyone. She has absolutely no interesting in socializing with humans at all. And since she doesn’t care about humans, she feels no embarrassment from spending an entire evening at a party only to stuff your face and listen to tunes, whatever others may think of her.

    She will even go so far as to host her own parties and banquets just to have a chance to play around and design an evening with all the food she likes, the music enjoys, and the decorations of her choosing. Once the actual event starts though, she couldn’t care any less about her guests and will just let them fool around while she goes on with her life. As for the money spent on these events and all the other expenses associated with high society, it hardly bothers. After all,

    “Why should I care about money when it doesn’t grow on trees?”

    She has no affection for the concept of money that humans seem to love so much, nor does she feel any inherent value in it. Having never had to work a day in her life to make a living, she doesn’t feel bad about wasting it either. To her, money is nothing but a resource to be spent on her goals, so there is also no problems spending it on things she enjoys. In fact, the suffering that humans go through to obtain money just inspires her to be even more of a spendthrift.

    Likewise, her occasional strange, illogical-seeming actions stem from a general lack of concern for the people around her. She could not care less if humans see her playing with a cool stick; cool sticks are cool and she’ll swing one around indoors even if it ends up hurting a human. If she is disappointed by the food at a party, she’ll ignore the feelings of the host and just order better food for the event. No matter what human’s body or feelings are hurt by her actions, she could not spare a single shred of sympathy for them.

    As for entertainment, she is not a big fan of many of the things that people consider good stories. While she is cultured enough to understand intellectually when such a thing is done well, she derives little enjoyment from lauded stories about human feelings or human struggles. As she doesn’t care about the well-being of other people at all, such tales are nothing but nonsense to her. Compared to that, she much better enjoys stuff like beautiful landscape paintings, striking fashion, and well-played music. More than anything else, though, she greatly enjoys fantasy novels. After all, those who are most drawn to fantasy are often the ones who hate reality the most.

    For that reason, Azalea has taken a liking to the isekai genre of light novels from Japan.

    “There is nothing more delusional than the stories contained within these amateurish scribbles. How lovely~”

    The more wish fulfillment and unrealistic characters it has, the more she tends to enjoy it.

    Given all this, one might be confused about the mercy she shows towards her sacrifice victims. If she truly just hated humans, wouldn’t she just kill them mercilessly? Instead, she chooses people who few will grieve over and then offers these victims a fun second life inside of her, as if making up for their cut-short life. Such actions may seem like a kindness to some, but in truth they too are born from Azalea’s hatred.

    “Why swallow your food immediately when you can take your time slowly savoring its taste?”

    For Azalea, creating these fantasy realms for people to live in and watching them live in those worlds is fun. She does not care at all about the happiness of the people she kills. She’s just using them as toys in her make-believe worlds, reenacting the stories and settings of her favorite novels. They are in essence no different to her than sims in a video game. The reason she picks people that won’t be missed and are not enjoying life is because they are the most likely to immerse themselves in her fantasy and hate other humans too. She enjoys seeing these pathetic dregs of society drowning in their own delusions. Thus, she watches over them living out their cringey power fantasies from above with a sadistic glee.

    Why then does she hate humans so much? What is the source of Azalea’s deep, omnipresent hatred for humanity?

    If one were to ask her such a question, she would respond as such:

    “Allow me to ask you this, then. Why do humans like other humans?”

    Was it because they sympathize with them? Empathize with them? Because other humans are useful? Because they are there to support you? Teach you? Cheer you up? They’re fun to be with? Convenient? Calming? They make you feel loved? They make want to love?

    “None of those answers are things that I feel. They do not make me want to like humans at all. Thus, I dislike them.”

    As simple as she makes it sound, it is the truth. There is no concrete reason for Azalea to hate humans. She does not perceive some great inherent evil in their race. She never experienced being gravely wrong to the point that she hated all of humanity. She was not some starry-eyed idealist that grew jaded from witnessing humanity’s true nature. She simply never felt any affection for humans and thus defaulted to hating them instead.

    The source of this trait stems from her origin. It all began with the Witch and her sacrifice to the Sacred Tree.

    When a living creature is sacrificed to a Sacred Tree, their spiritual remnants and leftover thoughts are absorbed into that tree and form the spiritual body of that tree. But when the Witch was sacrificed, her last dying thoughts were of the betrayal she experienced at the hands of the man she loved. The moment she died, the only thing on her mind was her deep bitter hatred towards the man and the regret she felt for falling in with a human. These leftover thoughts were what were absorbed into the Sacred Tree and gave form to the Ash Witch. Because of this, they seeped into very core of the new being’s Soul and became an unremovable stain on their existence. Because of those dying regrets, the Ash Witches from that moment were all born without the ability to love humans.

    It is not like the Ash Witches themselves strongly feel the utter hatred and betrayal as if they had experienced it themselves. It is just that when the Witch died, she had sworn she would never fall in love with a human ever again and that oath became a curse upon her death that forbid her descendants from doing so. Simply put, it is spiritually and conceptually impossible for an Ash Witch to feel any love for humans.

    It is thanks to this curse that the Ash Witches have been able to live so closely to human society without degrading into human any further. No matter how much they interact with humans, they are literally incapable of becoming one themselves for they will never feel love like they do. This has proven true for generations, even as Ash Witches took men as husbands and spent their entire lives with them. What can’t be done, can’t be done.

    Azalea was born with this curse and grew up in human society without the ability to love any of them. As she could not feel any affection for humans, instead all she experienced from them were their negative traits. Without the good parts to balance them out, Azalea had no choice but to grow to hate them, even if she didn’t want to.

    The curse was absolute. A permanent part of their very existence. Nothing could ever change it… not even learning the truth.

    Yes, the truth of what happened on that fateful day. A young Azalea happened to be the one to discover it when she accidentally uncovered some old notes that Solander had written so long ago. On them was how he truly felt.

    The truth was that he loved the Witch. He truly loved her and wanted the best for her. Which was he agonized over how to save her.

    Upon realizing his own feelings for the Witch, he also recognized her feelings for him. But when he learned the fate of what happens to Witches that fall in love with humans, he fell into despair. He foresaw the future where the Witch would transform and how torturous such an existence would be for her. Whether she transformed into something like a giant toad or even managed to retain her humanoid shape, there would be nothing but suffering and regret in such an existence.

    After much time spent agonizing over this in secret, he came to a decision.

    He had actually already thought of the idea of completing the Sacred Tree by sacrificing a Witch to it long ago, but he naturally dismissed it as he could never bear to kill the one he loved even as a magus. But now that things had come to this point, the plan became his only path forwards.

    The only way to save the Witch he loved was to stop her before she fell any deeper in love. However, even if he ran away and never saw her again, that would not guarantee that she’d stop loving him. In the worst case, it may only result in her to long after him and accelerate the degradation. There was only one method to definitively stop her… He had to kill her.

    A quick death before she was tortured by her own existence. Putting her out of her misery before it happened. That was his only way to save her soul.

    On top of that, he held a hope. Although he had no definitive proof, he hoped that his magecraft would grant her salvation. If by some miracle sacrificing her to the Sacred Tree would cause her to reincarnate from it as a new higher form of existence, it might give her a second chance of life without the fear of degradation. It was nothing than a pipe dream but he prayed for nothing but her happiness.

    And thus, he killed her. Using every ounce of will he could muster to hold back the tears, he brought her to the sacred tree and gave her a quick, painless death.

    That was truth of what happened that day. That was the love of Daniel Solander.

    Upon reading this and finally understanding everything… Azalea felt nothing.

    “So what?” she thought to herself. The truth of the event that filled her being with eternal hatred meant nothing to her.

    “He says that he did it all for her sake, in the name of love, but isn’t he just patting himself on the back? The truth is he did for it himself. He didn’t care about relieving her suffering. He was just afraid that the suffering would cause her to turn on him and decry their love. He just wanted to kill her before their love died out and cherish the beautiful memories of it by himself.”

    She who had never experienced love could not understand the love that Daniel Solander felt. All she could see and feel was the petty selfishness and possessiveness of a human being.

    That is the tragic existence of Azalea Ashtyn Solander.

    She hates humans. If they weren’t useful to her, she would want nothing to do with them. She would rather read a fun book than socialize at a party. She would rather fill the void in her heart with expensive pleasures than fill it with relationships. She would rather retreat into her own make-believe fantasies than face reality.

    How ironic. She’s actually no different from the people she treats as toys and calls pathetic.

    Or perhaps it’s because of that fact that she is able to derive enjoyment from them.

    Maybe, for someone who hates humans, the only person they can feel anything for is someone who also hates humans too…

    How pathetic.
    Author's Notes
    Special thanks to Reiu from whom I stole my best ideas.

    Faceclaim: Druvis III from Reverse 1999
    Last edited by zikari8; November 30th, 2023 at 05:02 AM.


  19. #219
    不死 Undead PA270's Avatar
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    Azalea Ashtyn Solander: Okay, I did not see an isekai/Yggdrasil Magecraft coming, but reading it, it somehow manages to work perfectly. Add that to the phenomenal character you've attached it to, and this entry was truly spectacular! Awesome job!

  20. #220
    後継者 Successor Bugs's Avatar
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    How much time left?

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