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Calling Card (Psyren x FSN -Nasuverse): Arc 5 – Chapter 22

Chapter 22

Ughhh… why do we have to do this stuff?

As the autumn sun was slouching over the horizon, the soft whines of a somber panther fill the air.

The former captain of the Track Team was miserably carrying a set of steel poles along with Gai. They were meant to be used building the different stands for the sake of the upcoming cultural festival. The collective weight wasn’t light by any means, but since we were the only ones left on the campus there was no reason to hold back using Rise.

The Cultural Festival would be within the first week of November. That wasn’t too far off from now and there was still a lot of work to be done for certain clubs. Hence the reason we were still here at this hour.

I roll my eyes at her complaining before turning my attention back to my own assignment. Manual labor is beneath me in most cases, but I treat it more as rudimentary training to master the form of telekinesis that suits me. By brushing a finger across a nail and infusing it with my PSI, I can program them to drive themselves into place with no physical effort on my part.

It’s a simple program at the end of the day—requiring a set amount of energy to carry out a simple routine at a specific distance. Not the flashiest uses of PSI, but driving the sharp end of a weapon into the head or core of the target is a practical and efficient method of killing. It also requires no extra effort on my part once its set into motion aside from the implementation of a return function.

“It’s not fair that we have to suffer alone when we can’t even run or participate with the Track Club anymore,” the loud one continues to whine. But, like how a broken clock was right at least twice a day, she has a point. None of us would even be here under normal circumstances, since only current club members are required to construct their own stands and displays.

Then again, her mouth is the reason we’re here now.

Even I could tell the Student President was in a mood after his return from… wherever he and his brother ventured off to. But she lacked that ability apparently. So here we were, pitching in with helping the clubs that were dragging behind—Archery and Track Club included.

I have a barb on my tongue ready to go and remind her that she’s the reason we’re here. But then I see Himuro looking up from sketching out a design that’ll later be shaped and painted into a sign and hold my tongue. It’s more fun to watch sometimes.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t this because you were the one who kept egging on Ryuudou about the training camp?”

Himuro’s opening salvo starts out with a factual reminder and a pointed stare. Caught unaware by the sudden assault Makidera recoils as if she’s been slapped. But Himuro doesn’t relent as she continues her verbal assault.

“And didn’t you also come up with this needlessly elaborate design and theme for the Track Club? Despite the fact that everyone else in the club pointed out it wouldn’t be practical?”

“Bu… But…”

“And, after you insisted that we still do it, rather than having everyone work on it bit-by-bit each session you said we’ll just leave it alone until a few days before the festival so we can concentrate on practice—and then let whoever had the worst time on the field hammer it out, which is the qualification that you now meet?”

I grin when the realization that she ultimately dug her own grave blossoms on her face. It’s like a work of art. If only I could capture the moment on camera…

“Matou-kun, you shouldn’t smile at Maki-chan being scolded.”

A gentle chastisement in a soft voice courtesy of Saegusa breaks the moment. She has a small, disproving frown on her face that a pre-school teacher wears while scolding a child for laughing at another hurting themselves by being stupid. Yes, they have it coming but you shouldn’t make fun of them because of it.

I’d probably take more offense to it if not for the fact that it came from… well, her.

The mousiness that comes naturally to her makes it hard to take her seriously. Really, the fact that she’s gotten comfortable enough in the last week to actually call me out on it is more of a surprise. But it also serves to further a theory I’ve had for some time now.

“Just now… you addressed me rather informally, didn’t you?”

A brief look of surprise crosses her face. It’s genuine too. The moment she realizes the implications she starts to get flustered like one would expect.

“Oh, I didn’t… I’m sorry if—”

I shake my head and quell her worry before she gets too worked up about it. “I don’t really mind. You can even just call me by my name like Mitsuzuri does occasionally if you want. I just noticed you never did the same for her or Gotou.”

Saegusa isn’t nearly as formal as Himuro, but the number of people she addresses casually can be counted on a hand. Even if I don’t consider it that big of a deal, for her it’s a huge leap that shouldn’t be happening so fast. It’s most likely because she’s unaware of how her powers are starting to influence her.

Mental Interference can easily be obstructed by Magic Resistance. That is why Physical Interference is the preferred method of dealing with an enemy magus. But there is also another risk—the risk of losing oneself in the process of working the mind of another.

To affect one’s mind as a magus and change their thought processes pulled their own along that same path depending on the means and methods. To get around that other means were utilized, such as psychology, artificial Mystic Eyes that work like projections, and so on.  But there is a difference between suppressing a memory to forget an event or hypnotism compared to linking minds together like we do.

It breaks down the separation of self and leaves us malleable to a greater degree—at least that’s what I believe.

Saegusa has no safeguard for her own thoughts and emotions inside her own head. She lacks the mindset to separate one identity from another with self-hypnosis that I do from my misspent years. How long until she changes because of that without realizing it?

Then again, even preparation and mindset aren’t perfect. Touching one’s mind can make you consider things. Make you reflect on yourself in ways you normally wouldn’t be able to.

Touching the emotions woven into the memories of both that woman from the future and Saegusa left a mark on me. I’ve been considering just what familial affection is because of them. How it relates to Sakura and myself.

Saegusa’s affection towards her younger siblings was something…warm. Light. It’s like a gentle breeze that caresses the heart, or so my sixth sense interprets.

Yet… I can’t relate to that when I think of Sakura.

I’m trying to make amends for everything I’ve done. But I just don’t have the same depth of emotions for Sakura that Saegusa has for her younger siblings. Otherwise, I don’t think I’d still be relatively sane after everything I did to her.

Not just to her body, but her mind.

I never shied away from reminding Sakura that her purpose was to be a plaything. I enjoyed bringing up that someone like Emiya would never want someone as dirty as her. That the only thing she’s good for was… things that I enjoyed at the time.

I could see it in her eyes that Sakura honestly took it to heart at some point too.

That’s why she never once made an attempt to be happy with Emiya after the war. Realistically, she’ll probably never seek out a lover. Even without looking into her mind I can tell she believes she’s been too dirtied to deserve such things it.

Did I even care that I ruined her in such a matter back then? Was I going to take care of her for the rest of her life as my toy, using her in the same way my own mother had been used to sire a heir? Or was I going to throw her away?

…Either way, the damage has been done.

I can’t take it back. I can’t even say that I’ll be alive or sane enough to take responsibility if things keep getting worse for me. Once I’m gone she’ll be alone with that burden.

Any chance of a normal sibling relationship is long gone. I’ve already crossed too many lines with her to even attempt that. There’s no going back.

But then I recall the warmth of Saegusa’s affection for her own siblings. The happiness she finds in being part of their lives. It feels… nice.

I can’t help but wonder if it that’s the way I’m supposed to feel about Sakura. I think at some point I even might have felt that way when we first met. But once I found out she was replacing me as heir all of that vanished.

Part of me wants more of it. To let down my guard and just feel the warm touch of Saegusa’s emotions as our mind’s meld. Just so I can reclaim a bit of what was lost.

Just as a little happiness to balance out everything I was dealing with. The Grail’s curse. The ruined future. All of it.

But I can’t take that risk with her.

Ayako still gets nervous when she feels my thoughts brush her mind. Everything in her body still rejects the brief glimpse of horrors in my head she witnessed. She’s a lot of things but frail isn’t one of them considering everything she’s gone through as a Drifter.

The same cannot be said for Saegusa. For a girl who lived an ordinary and happy life until now to be exposed to even a fraction of the mire in the back my mind… for someone whose thoughts and feelings are so easily exposed to experience those things …

The image of glasswork shattering comes to my mind.

Her psyche would break into too many pieces to really recover. Even if she did, she’d never be the same. The warmth she holds for her family. The guilt she bears from nearly getting her friends killed the last trip. All those things that make up the mousy, innocent girl in front of me would be no more.

I can’t be responsible for that. I can’t let those things be tainted and defiled because I let her into my head just to savor the feel of them. I can’t make the same mistake that I did with Sakura again…

‘Is everything alright?’

I realize I lost myself in thought the moment Saegusa’s warmth touches my mind like a cloud drifting on the wind. Her brows are folded in and her neck is tilted ever so slightly as she observes me. I pull my head back slightly and force a small smile as I lie.

Just coming up with a new training regimen. I think you need to practice with the others more often so you can use your powers more frequently. I’ll try to convince the sadist to lay off you until then.

The Student President wasn’t any softer on Saegusa than he was with me when he got back from his trip. Or any of them really. But the difference was that while the other two were no strangers to physical work, she was and often ended up the most exhausted. She just isn’t suited to using Rise in an offensive capacity like them.

You don’t have to,’ her mind whispered to mine. ‘I know it’s hard. But I need to be able to do everything I can to help everyone. That includes taking care of myself.

And despite it all Saegusa never once complains about the training. She doesn’t even harbor ill-will towards Ryuudou, even though every night so far she’s needed to be carried home from exhaustion. She just keeps forcing herself to get up and keep trying because she wants everyone to be safe.

‘…You’re pretty amazing, you know that?’

I’m pretty stingy when it comes to genuine praise, but it’s deserved. The fact that it coaxes a blossoming smile from her face shows she appreciates it as well. I have to say it suits her nicely.

“Hey, quit flirting in each other’s heads over there and get back to work!”

Unfortunately, Makidera ruins the moment with her thoughtless accusations. The warm expression turns to one of fluster. She avoids my gaze and tries to justify how happy she looked just moments ago. “I…it’s n-not like that…”

Makinoji…” Himuro’s voice came out a bit more frosty than normal. The light of the evening sun obscures her eyes behind her glasses. But I can imagine she’s glaring at the thoughtless monkey. “Please think carefully before you speak again tonight.”

She catches on she might have botched things from the expression on her face. But it’s too little and too late. We call it an evening a little later and put away everything before heading home.

Or at least the others do.

I stay behind just a little longer to make sure everything is in order. I didn’t want to have the sadist in my ear about a misplaced screwdriver or anything. Then I grab my bag and make my way out of the gates.

“May I have a word?”

That’s when Himuro calls out to me. She’s standing next to the wall on the outside of the gates, arms crossed.

“I thought you left with the others to escort Saegusa back to her home?”

“Since Maki was hungry and Saegusa wanted to get some snacks for her family, I told them I would catch up with them in Miyama. I didn’t want them to wait for me while I spoke with you in private.”

“Oh really?” I cross my arms and stand a little straighter. “Talk to me about what?”

She adjusts her glasses and meets my gaze. “I won’t defend what Maki did, but we’ve been friends for a long time now. She does tend to speak tactlessly, but in this case it’s because she picked up on how strangely Yukika acts around you. I’m sure you can understand that with everything going on, it’s somewhat worrying to us.”

“And she somehow interpreted that as us being lovers?” I nearly laugh. “A bit of a stretch, don’t you think?”

“I suppose it might seem that way to you, but…” She brings her hand to her chin and closes her eyes for a moment, as if in thought. “Before I say anything more, I would like your word that you’ll not utter a word of this to her. Agreed?”

I arch a brow. She approached me and now she wanted my word to keep silent about it. There should be a limit to how self-entitled you can be. But I humor her.  “Fine. Now spill.”

She opens her eyes and then takes on a firm expression. “The way she looks at you at times is really incomparable to how she was even a month ago. You were quite a notorious person during our Second Year and onwards. So much so that even she couldn’t help but hold some disdain towards the mention of your name.”

I clench my teeth for a moment at the thought of that happening. It’s a complete contradiction when she doesn’t even hold an inkling of hatred towards the one who worked her over during training. I barely even talked to her back then.

…But then I remember Blood Fort Andromeda and that they were among the victims. I can’t claim it’d be undeserved. Even if those memories were locked away or removed.

I let out my frustration with a sigh. “Your point being?”

“Even though there were rumors that you’d become upright or at least less abrasive, the impression from before remains so firmly entrenched that it’s hard to be shaken. Yet, there are moments when she looks at you and simply smiles like before. Since you saved her from that monstrous dog it’s like she has an… admiration for you, at the very least.”

I scratch my head and realize what she’s getting at. “…Listen, you don’t have all the facts so you’re piecing together a conclusion that isn’t right because of that. It isn’t love or admiration or whatever you think it is.”

“Then what is your perception of things?”

I payback her own entitlement with a demand of my own. “Do I have your word that this won’t reach any of the others?”

She nods without hesitation. “It would only be fair.”

I give a heavily abridged version of my thoughts on the matter. That I’ve had my own suspicions about how our powers might influence our personalities. That they are too far removed from what is normal to not have any drawbacks. That powers that aren’t purely physical might have a greater influence on the behavior.

I use the Student President as a reference. That he doesn’t pay consideration to pain because he believes he can heal anything short of death. He doesn’t empathize with it easily anymore or has at least seen and experienced wounds so egregious that anything short of that will be met with little concern.

She understands well enough. “In summation, you believe that she’s being nudged by her own powers because you two share a similar affinity with the same categorization of PSI. That it’s influencing her to an extent?”

I nod. “I’m lacking complete hard evidence, but the reason she was acting flustered earlier was because I made a note of her referring to me without honorifics. She hadn’t realized that she did so.  It’s not a big a deal for most people, but—”

Himuro picks up on the train of thought instantly. “She doesn’t refer to others so casually unless she’s well-acquainted with them. She’s a polite girl so it goes against her ingrained behavior. The fact that she did so unknowingly means that she regards you as being someone she can be comfortable with.”

Another nod. “I only brought it up so she’ll start thinking on any other things she might have done differently or open up a little more to the others. The only reason I haven’t shared this with anyone else is because we cannot have them being afraid of their own powers when it could mean the difference between life and death. More so when the circumstances can easily explain away these changes as well considering it is a rather perilous one.”

“I see…” She removes her glasses and looks down at the lenses in silence for a moment. “I can’t say I’d thought it out to the same depths as you, but I had considered that not everything was as clear as it might have been. There are so many uncertainties about everything else and now we can’t even be certain if any changes we make are of our own will.”

I remain silent to let her process everything. Someone who runs off pure emotion won’t handle it well. But Himuro is logical to a greater extent than the majority of people in the school. She’ll take that into consideration and put that before her emotions. Or so I hope.

“The best we can do is survive first and foremost. And to do that we must change, knowingly or unknowingly. Willingly or unwillingly. As long as it doesn’t completely take away from who we are, I believe we can at least claim that we are the sum of our own decisions.”

Settling on that conclusion she replaces her glasses. “So be it then.”

I sling my bag over my shoulder. “That should settle things then. I’ll leave it to you to explain to the loud one there isn’t anything romantic between Saegusa and myself. I don’t have any inclinations to seek out a lover with everything going, and even if I did, she doesn’t deserve to be stuck with a guy like me.”

That done, I start walking back home in silence. Himuro doesn’t say anything to acknowledge the discussion any further. Then again, nothing to be said now that she has reached her own resolve about how to approach things: To survive we’ll have to change, knowingly or unknowingly. Willingly or unwillingly.

In hindsight, I suppose we can only blame ourselves for what happened a few days later. That was when we returned to that future where the vampire awaited us. That was when we did something we’d regret for the rest of our lives beneath the ashen sky. It was…

The sum of our decisions.

 

Fanfic Recommendation 96

 


My Fanfics


 

A Lily Blossoms In Kanto 18

Summary: Lillie’s adventure in Kanto to become a Pokémon trainer begins with an attempted kidnapping. Not the best start, but she’s still determined to become a great trainer even as things left in Alola start following her into the wider world.

 

 


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Summary: A Prisma Illya spin-off centered around Shirou Emiya receiving the Archer Class-card, only it syncs him up with the EMIYA Alter spirit.

(Pokemon Sun and Moon Fanfic) A Lily Blossoms In Kanto: Chapter 18

Chapter 18: Doubles and Triples

“Heh, you took some time coming back after your last match,” said a young boy as he stood on his end of Nugget Bridge. Youngster Cole was the current third-in-line of those who served in the challenge, meant to be the opponent that Lillie would face. “Been a while since we had any new blood, so I’ve been waiting for this.”

“Sorry about that,” she told him with an apologetic gesture. “I wanted to train everyone a little more before I came back.”

Indeed, it had been about three days now since Lillie had come to the bridge. She couldn’t say they’d made immense progress in learning their new moves, but they needed practice against actual opponents too. That, and the fact that Snubbull was getting antsy to prove himself while Koko wanted to see if her Icy Wind would work in an actual battle.

“It’s fine. Let’s just get going with a Doubles Battle!” The eager Youngster held up a pair of pokéballs before tossing them into the air. “Come out, Don and Bron!”

The balls burst open and light spilled forth, giving shape to two different pokémon. The first was a Kantonian Geodude. Unlike the Alolan variant, it didn’t have the metal-like skin or protrusions but looked more like a large rock with two arms. It gave an eager smile that could match its trainer as it slammed one fist into its other’s palm.

The second pokémon was one Lillie hadn’t seen before, flat and round and rimmed by six dark blue orbs on the perimeter of its metal body. Rotom floated over toward it and began to fluster the metal pokémon with a snap of its camera, leaving the yellow, round eyes to blink rapidly for a moment. Then it spun around in a quick motion and batted Rotom away before it floated off the surface of the bridge next to the Geodude.

Rotom,” Lillie said in a reproaching tone as the Living Pokédex bounced upon hitting the bridge and then righted itself in the air, holding one of its appendages to its frame. “I thought you learned your lesson already?”

Zzt… first time seeing a Bronzor, Rotom said, trying to justify its actions as it floated back over to her relatively unscratched. At this point, she could only be thankful those pokédex cases were built to last. It’zzz a Steel and Psychic type, for the record.

Well, at least knowing that makes it easier choosing who to send out then, Lillie thought to herself as she pulled out her choices. “Bellamy, Snubbull, you’re up.”

“Sprout?” Bellamy inquired after emerging from the confines of his ball. The Flower Pokémon took a moment upon being released to take in the sight of the bridge and tried to grasp the situation, his bulbous head shifting back and forth.

Snubbull, meanwhile, stood proud as he immediately faced the pair opposite them and pointed his stubby little arm at them. “Snubbull! Snub!”

In response, the Geodude chuckled. Then it gestured towards itself with its arms before extending them out to its sides. “Dude. Geodude.”

“Remember, work with Bellamy, Snubbull,” Lillie gently reminded the puppy that had fallen onto all fours and was bristling. “It’s a Doubles Battle, not one-on-one.”

His answer was to look at his nervous, willowy partner and give him a gruff bark. “Snub!”

“All right, we got this Don and Bron,” Cole said, his rousing speech filled with passion and youthful energy before he pointed to Lillie. “Now, make your move challenger!”

Lillie obliged. “Okay, then. Bellamy, use Vine Whip on the Geodude while Snubbull goes for the other one!”

The Bellsprout released his sinuous vines from the buds between his stalk and leafy appendages, shooting them out across the gap towards the Rock Pokémon as it hovered there while Snubbull darted forward to sink his flaming fangs into solid steel. The Bronzor that had been floating next to Bellamy’s target was grabbed and used as a shield to intercept the blow, a gong-like sound ringing out as the tips of the vines slammed against the leaf-like marking upon its back. He retracted them as Snubbull lunged, fire popping into existence around his fangs as he prepared to bring them crashing down on the makeshift shield.

BOOM!!

Fire erupted and obscured Lillie’s vision for a moment before a breeze wafted and blew away the smoke to reveal that the Bronzor was being held behind the Geodude by one of its hands, while the other was between Snubbull’s jaws. It had pulled its partner pokémon out of the way and substituted its arm, wearing the same grin it had previously as Snubbull snarled while his teeth were still wrapped around the stone limb. Then the Rock Pokémon brought its partner down on his head.

THONG!

Lillie winced at the resounding metallic sound as he was knocked away. “Snubbull, are you okay?”

The puppy sat up on his rear, lightly rubbing the spot with his stumpy little arms. “Bulll…lll…

Can you even use another pokémon as a weapon, zzt? Rotom inquired.

“No rule against it!” the Youngster shouted back. “This is just how our teamwork is!”

Snubull managed to regain his senses, shaking his head vigorously and snarling at the pair. The Geodude grinned, spinning the Bronzor on a finger like a disk with one hand and gesturing for him to come again with the other. Riled up, the puppy got back onto all fours and rushed back in to confront the pair. “BULL!

It was predictably a trap as the Geodude flipped the Bronzor around so that it was facing Snubbull as its eyes shone with psychic power. Hypnotic waves rippled out and made the Fairy Pokémon go from a charge to a sluggish crawl before falling over, asleep. Then, tossing the Bronzor up into the air, the Geodude clasped its hands together before pulling them apart to reveal a sphere of light that transformed into a stone that began to grow until it was the size of Geodude itself.

“Bellamy, help Snubbull!” Lillie called as the Geodude then raised its hands and made a throwing motion that sent the stone flying towards Snubbull. The Flower Pokémon did so by sending his vines across the distance and snatching the sleeping puppy out of the path of the rock that shattered into fragments on impact with the bridge. “Good, now wake him up!”

Frantic in lieu of the pace of the battle, Bellamy then tried to wake his partner up by using his leafy limbs to shake Snubbull awake. But he couldn’t before the Bronzor released a Confusion attack, bundled as a ball of telekinetic energy, towards the pair. The blast knocked them apart, leaving Bellamy to land on his back while Snubbull rolled onto his feet and snarled as he woke up grumpy at taking the bulk of it.

“Snubbull, Bellamy, are you both okay?” Lillie asked. Bellamy made a slight waving motion while as he managed to get back on his tiny roots. Snubbull, meanwhile, bristled at the opposing pair and then ran in again to attack.

Sighing at his brashness, Lillie opted to try to work around Snubbull’s inability to sit still for the moment. “Bellamy, I want you to use Growth like we did in practice. I have an idea.”

The Flower Pokémon bobbed his head before looking up to the morning sun and drinking up the light.

“Rock Throw!” Her opponent bellowed, focused on the immediate threat of the Fairy Pokémon closing in with fire licking his teeth. Geodude clasped his hands again and conjured not one large stone, but three smaller ones. He then flung them towards the puppy with the intention of halting his charge.

But Snubbull proved deft on his feet this time. Even before being picked up by Lillie, he had been fighting for weeks against other pokémon and trainers before he ran out of luck—hitting and running. He dodged the rocks, bouncing from side-to-side as he closed the distance, eyes fixed on the Bronzor as flames licked his teeth. “Bull!”

“Hypnosis!” ordered the Youngster.

The Bronzor’s eyes grew luminous again as it prepared to release slumber-inducing hypnotic waves. The Geodude was already preparing to take advantage of that by clasping its hands together for another Rock Throw—

“Bellamy, now!”

—but a pair of sinuous vines shot forward from behind Snubbull like arrows, sparkling beads of light gleaming off them from Growth. The empowered vines slammed into the Bronzor hard enough to release a metallic thong and knock the floating Bronze Pokémon astray. That left Geodude staring down a vicious pair of teeth wreathed in flames right before the jaws snapped shut.

BUUULLLLL!!!

Then flames erupted and consumed them both in smoke.

The two pokémon were hidden from view until a meaty thump was followed by a pink bundle of fur emerging from the smoke. Snubbull was thrown out of the lingering veil, having taken a retaliatory punch that hit hard enough he bounced once more on the surface of the bridge. Yet there was a grin on his face as he came to a stop and brought his stubby little paw to his cheek.

The reason why was made clear when the smoke cleared away and revealed the Rock Pokémon shaking in place as flames seeped from its body.

Don was burned!

Gee…oooo…” Its voice came out strained as it writhed in pain. Fire-types weren’t common around these parts and, for the first time, its shell of stone had become an oven as the flames took root deeply, sinking into the muscles beneath its hard exterior as the Bronzor floated over to check on its partner.

Snubbull had never been one to pass up an advantage. While the Rock Pokémon was battling against the heat searing at its muscles, he eyed the floating Bronzor that turned its back onto him. Then he immediately fell onto all fours to lunge for it a second time with fire licking his fangs in a surprise attack.

But no sooner than he was within biting range did Geodude act in defense of its companion. It brushed aside the vulnerable Bronze Pokémon and crossed its arms to take the hit, a second explosion of heat and smoke coming about to engulf them. This time Snubbull immediately hopped out of the smokescreen and put distance between them.

Lillie took in the sight of the puppy as wisps of flames escaped his mouth. His breath was coming out heavier and it looked like a bruise was forming where he’d been hit. He needed a Potion at the very least, but he was still better off compared to his competition given scorch marks scoured Geodude’s stony exterior as it held one eye open and its arms drooped down.

It had taken a beating. And Bellamy was still in the process of using Growth while Snubbull insisted on throwing himself in front of them. If they acted now, they probably could end things. But Lillie still wanted to offer him a chance to back down before any excess damage was done.

“You’d better call back your Geodude,” she told her competition. “It can’t take another hit like that and remain conscious.”

Her offer was rejected. “Shake it off, Don! You’re not going to let a few flames snuff out your fighting spirit, are you?”

The words roused Geodude’s spirits as it eyed Snubbull and let out a sound. The Bronzor flew into one of its hands and it reeled that arm back, holding its other one out with the fingers spread as if measuring the distance while Snubbull snarled. Then it gestured for the puppy to come with a grin on its face that Lillie felt was meant to bait him in on purpose.

SNUBBULL!

Unfortunately, he bought it. He charged for them as a shroud of energy seemingly blanketed the Bronzor until it was as white as a discus and then flung it at Snubbull mid-lunge. The moment it connected there was a surprisingly bright explosion that engulfed the two of them.

Don used Fling!

A Critical Hit!

Lillie brought her arm up to keep her eyes shielded until she heard a thump hit the bridge and then peered past her sleek arm to see the puppy struggling to stand up once more. “Ah! Snubbull, are you okay?”

Sn…bu…” he groaned softly, little arms shaking as he slowly got back onto his hind legs. There he swayed, looking pretty beaten from the blow despite the fact that the heat gnawing at his foe’s muscles and the typing alone should have stemmed the worst of the throw. “Bull…”

Who turnzzz their pokémon into ammunition for Fling, zrt? Rotom inquired, limbs moving at odd angles.

“There’s no rule against it after all,” the boy insisted. “It’s like having your pokémon use a move on its partner pokémon that will help them out. Besides, Bron is tough enough to take it.”

“Even if you say that, your Geodude can’t fight anymore.” Lillie pointed to the Rock Pokémon that drooped down onto the bridge as the flames that’d continued to ravage him from the inside-out finally took their toll. It collapsed onto the bridge, unconscious.

Bu…ll!” Snubbull huffed, victorious. Then it raised a shaking arm towards the remaining pokémon, as if to say it was its turn next. “Sn…Snubull…

The Bronzor, having recovered from being used as live ammunition, narrowed its gaze towards Snubbull as azure light radiated from them. A ball of psychic energy built up in front of it, the Confusion directly aimed at the puppy that was barely on its feet. It released the blast with a metallic sound.

“Bellamy!” Lillie called out. Sinuous vines speared out across the distance, scooping the Fairy Pokémon up before the bundle of psychic energy hit the surface of the bridge and then came unbounded with enough force that it would have definitely knocked him out.

“Snub!” Snubbull barked towards the Flower Pokémon as it dangled him over his head, supported via his Growth-imbued vines. When Bellamy tilted his bell in confusion, the puppy made a slight circle with his arm and pointed towards the Bronze Pokémon. Bellamy made an inquiring sound, but another bark led to him abruptly spinning Snubbull around in circles with his vines before suddenly chucking him at the Bronzor while he used Fire Fang.  “BUULLLLL!!”

BOOOM!!

The resulting explosion lit up with space between them before the Bronze Pokémon hit the bridge with a loud noise, unconscious. As for Snubbull, he stumbled on his feet for a moment as the smoke cleared and let out a victorious half-bark… before suddenly falling over onto his face.

“Snubbull, you’re not supposed to copy them!” Lillie said as she ran over to check on him. He was coughing out tufts of smoke as he huffed, his flesh bruised from throwing himself headfirst into a pokémon made of solid metal. Yet, as she cradled him in her arms, he let out a proud chuff. “Ah, just rest for now, okay?”

She couldn’t help but sigh as she returned him to his ball. Then she looked over to her Flower Pokémon as he waddled over while looking like he expected a scolding for such recklessness. Instead, she gently patted him on his bell. “I can’t say I approve of that plan at the end, but you still helped him as best you could. Good job, Bellamy.”

He accepted the praise with a delighted sound. Then the Youngster came over and stamped her card. It was her third step in completing the bridge challenge.

Lillie received an Orange Stamp!

Since Bellamy was relatively unharmed and she had her other pokémon wanting the chance to go, Lillie decided to press on to the fourth section of the bridge. This time there was a young woman who looked to be about Lillie’s age, if only a year or two older. She was dressed in a camping scout uniform that seemed native to the region.

She gave Lillie a slight wave and smile. “Good job making it this far. Not many people get here in such a short time. I’m Misa, by the way.”

“Well, I can’t say it’s been easy,” Lillie said, lightly brushing her arm while Koko flicked her tail and chilled the air around them. “Uh, anyway, the battle format is three-on-three for you, right?”

The Picnicker nodded her head as she held up a pair of balls in one hand and a third in her other. “Yep. No substitutions, and we’ll go until one side is unable to battle or the trainer surrenders. Agreed?”

“Sure.” Lillie consented before releasing the Mold Pokémon between Koko and Bellamy. Then she crouched down and smiled.  “Win or lose, what matters is that you three remember to work together, okay?”

Koko yipped. Bellamy nodded. Shuckle bobbed his head. That agreed upon, they all turned to face their opposition when the sound of three Poké Balls bursting open reach their ears gave way to light taking shape.

Two of them were small, rodent-like pokémon that had blue and purple fur with darker spots in certain places, larger buckteeth, and spines running over their bodies. It gave the impression of them being different variants of the same species. The last was a yellow duck that stood upright, clutching its head between its paws and had a somewhat blank stare as it quirked its head.

Nidoran (Male) and Nidoran (Female), the Poison Pin Pokémon, Rotom began. The male has a larger horn than the female and is quite powerful, but the female has a more potent poison. Psyduck, the Duck Pokémon. Despite being a Water-Type, it possesses latent psychic powers. However, using them gives it a headache, so it normally passes time doing as little as possible.

Lillie took that information into account against her current team, but felt compelled to ask, “If it gets a headache when using its psychic powers, will your Psyduck be alright in a battle?”

“You’re sweet, but you don’t need to worry about him,” Misa said as she gently patted the Duck Pokémon on his head. “Psyduck trainers usually buy medicine that helps keep the worst of their headaches away until they evolve. So, you’d better treat him as a serious opponent, or you’ll regret it.”

That said, she took several steps back and pulled out a coin. “Now, to determine who’ll go first we’ll use the flip of a coin. You get heads, I get tails. Agreed?”

Lillie nodded. “Sure.”

“Here we go.” The Picnicker proceeded to flip the coin into the air before catching it and then slamming it against the back of her opposite hand. “Heads! Your move!”

MATCH START!

“Okay then, Bellamy use Vine Whip on Psyduck!” Lillie ordered, pointing towards it. The Psyduck would be a problem for both Bellamy and Shuckle if it had access to both Psychic and Water techniques. Taking him out first while Bellamy had the advantage would be more prudent.

“Bell-ell!” The Flower Pokémon reared his sinuous body backwards and then swung forward as the little buds near his arm released the lengthy vines. They flew across the distance like lunging serpents, slithering in the air as they made for the vacant-looking Water-Type—

““NIDO!””

—when both were snatched out of the air by the Nidoran pair. Moving in near-perfect sync, both lunged to catch the vines between their mouths as they crossed one another in front of Psyduck. That left the vines crisscrossed down the middle as the pair then held the vines in place, the lengths going taut as Bellamy struggled to pull them back.

“Good job, you two~” Misa praised with a cheery tone before addressing her third pokémon. “Now, use Disable on Bellsprout!”

The Psyduck focused its vacant gaze down the vines and towards Bellamy before they were made to glow with the hue of psychic power. “Psyyyyy…

Bellamy went rigid as that same color coated his body from root to bell. The vines that had been pulled taut then went slack, drooping down the center and eventually laying sprawled on the ground as the two Poison Pin Pokémon let go. He couldn’t retract them, which caused him to begin fidgeting with them using his leafy appendages. “Sp-sprout!?”

“Don’t panic, Bellamy,” Lillie told him. It was no different than what the Venonat had done before, meaning it would wear off. “Just give it a little time and you’ll be fine.”

She then looked to Koko as her body shone briefly, recognizing it as Snow Warning triggering to boost the power of her Ice-attacks… except the light faded out and the sky above remained clear, leaving Koko to let out a small whine of uncertainty. “Koko, what’s wrong?”

“That would be Psyduck’s Ability at work,” Misa chimed in, diverting their attention towards the Duck Pokémon as a similar shroud to Koko’s faded from his body. “It’s called Cloud Nine, and because of it the area around Psyduck is shielded from moves that change the weather. That means your cute little Vulpix’s Ability and Sunny Day, if your Bellsprout has it, won’t trigger.”

No sooner than the battle had begun Lillie was at a tremendous disadvantage as the sun and the snow that her pokémon would benefit from were denied to her. And the situation only got worse when her opponent began her counterattack with the Nidoran pair. “Use Double Kick on the Vulpix and Shuckle!”

““NIDORAN!”” The Poison Pin Pokémon broke into a sprint towards Lillie’s group of three with surprising speed. As one they both leaped forward to deliver a set of flying kicks towards their targets, an Ice-Type and Rock-Type respectively, with their legs aglow with power to deliver the Fighting-Type attacks.

Still flustered by having her Ability suppressed for the first time, Koko was ill-prepared to avoid the hit being sent her way by the female Nidoran. The hit would have caught her head-on, had Bellamy not put himself in front of the blow haphazardly. As a result, the glowing kick caught him straight in his bell-shaped head and promptly sent him sailing over Koko until he flopped on the ground.

Ironically, in contrast, Shuckle was the only one who hadn’t been slow on the uptake as he quickly wove a Protect to shield himself from the attack. The male Nidoran’s kick slammed against the fragile barrier and shattered it easily, as he hadn’t mastered the technique, but it dulled the strength and speed of the kick enough that he could Withdraw into his shell that shone in time for him to take the little damage that bled over relatively unharmed.

“Koko, push her back with Powder Snow! Shuckle, try using Constrict on the other one!” Lillie called out. The Alolan Vulpix hastily breathed out a plume of white and blue frost that forced her opponent backward towards her side of the field, while the Mold Pokémon’s own fell back to avoid the sinuous and sticky limbs that began to writhe and stretch. “Bellamy, are you okay?”

Koko gave him an inquiring poke as well. “Pix?”

Sp…sprout…” The Flower Pokémon waved a leafy appendage upright as if attempting to say he was fine. But it was clear that hit hadn’t been soft from how he swayed in the process of rising back up.

“Don’t strain yourself,” Lillie told him before addressing Koko. “Try to catch them all with an Icy Wind!”

Koko nodded and then turned back to her opponents, inhaling deeply enough that the fur on her chest seemingly puffed out. Then she exhaled and what came out was a surging wave of white and blue frost, air chilled so deeply that it would seep past the flesh and gnaw into the muscles. It rushed down the retreating pair of Nidorans and the vacant-looking Psyduck, intent on washing over them all—

“Bunker down with Light Screen!”

—when suddenly a wonderous wall of light appeared in front of the Duck Pokémon as his eyes shone once more with the psychic hue. “Psyyyyyduck!!

The Nidoran pair jumped over the wall and above his head before quickly hiding behind the Duck Pokémon. The bulwark forged of psychic energy strained like glass under pressure as it blunted the force of the attack, leaving only the fringes of the Icy Wind to lap at the fur of the two Poison Pin Pokémon until it petered out. The wall then shattered into motes of glowing light that hovered around them all, coating and clinging to their fur even as the Nidoran pair shook off the icy particles that did manage to catch them.

Zzzt, Light Screen will weaken any non-physical attackzzz used against them, Rotom warned. Koko’s attacks won’t be as effective until the light fades, zzrt.

Even Icy Wind won’t work now… Lillie’s lips pursed as her mind ran through the opening exchange. This is really bad. We’re at a complete disadvantage.

Those Poison-Type Pokémon were naturally strong against Fairy-Types like Snubbull, so they’d resist Koko’s strongest attack on top of most of Bellamy’s attacks. And they knew Fighting-Type moves too, which Koko and Shuckle were weak against. Add that with the fact that Psyduck’s Ability meant neither could take advantage of their own, and he knew Disable on top of Light Screen…

“The battles up until now were to teach newer trainers lessons on the different aspects of the battles,” Misa said, wearing a smile as if she’d read her mind. “Luka teaches the timing of attacks, Amaya teaches working under pressure, and Cole teaches teamwork. I bring all of those lessons together to see how well you manage when the odds are stacked against you.”

It wasn’t simply a Triple Battle between the Pokémon. It was a battle of strategy and coordination that relied on how well a trainer could adapt. Misa had the advantage of typing, experience, and even techniques. If Lillie was going to prevail, she needed a way to tip the scales back in their favor.

“Now, attack them again with Double Kick you two!” Misa ordered her pair of Nidoran. The Poison Pin Pokémon darted forward on the command, splitting apart in order to strike from the left and right of the two pokémon that happened to be weak to Fighting-Type techniques. They both lunged with their legs aglow—

“Sprout!”

—when the sinuous vines that had been lying limp on the ground abruptly flared out and caught the two midair, where they couldn’t avoid it. The Disable had worn out just in time for Bellamy’s Vine Whip to catch them both, smacking them to the side and throwing their attack off before they retracted back to Bellamy.

“Nice save, Bellamy!” Lillie cheered. “Shuckle, try to pin them down with Sticky Web!”

The Mold Pokémon’s cheeks swelled before it spat out globs of bug glue that stretched out into webbing as it met with the air friction. But both of the Poison Pin Pokémon were deft on their feet as they avoided the two bundles of webbing. They bounced around, holding the attention of the gathered until Misa gave the order to the Duck Pokémon to go on the offense.

“Water Pulse!” While she hadn’t said which one to attack, there was really only one viable target: Shuckle.

“Shuckle, Protect!” Lillie shouted as Psyduck opened its bill and water began to pool in front of it into a sphere the size of its head. The Mold Pokémon immediately began to weave its defensive shell, the air seemingly crystalizing in front of it. He barely finished just before the cannonball of water slammed into it, shattering the defensive bulwark while leaving water splashing over him uncomfortably.

“Disable!” Misa commanded. “Nido, Leer! Nina, Double Kick!”

The oppressive psychic shroud veiled Shuckle, leaving him to frown as he felt his ability to use Protect being suppressed by Psyduck. Then came a baleful glare from the male Nidoran as its eyes took on a crimson hue that meshed with the cerulean of the Disable. He shook his head at the unpleasant feeling as the female Nidoran rushed in with her legs aglow before he could shake off having his defenses compromised—

“Koko! Bellamy! Help him!”

—that was when snow-white fur darted in-between them as Koko rushed in and braced herself to release a frost-laden gale with a deep exhale of Powder Snow. Caught in a sudden snowstorm, the Nidoran faltered as it began to drape her in a blanket of encroaching ice. Then came the sinuous vines as Bellamy lashed out to rebuke her, knocking her aside.

“Pin her down, Shuckle!” Lillie ordered and the Mold Pokémon obeyed. Whipping his head around, he spat out another glob of Sticky Web and it splashed over the female Nidoran, leaving her flailing in it but unable to move. With one tied up, the odds were a little more even. “Koko, Moonblast on Psyduck now!”

The Alolan Vulpix was wreathed in a pink aura that pooled in front of her mouth before being let loose as a pink orb towards the Duck Pokémon. Psyduck stared at the incoming attack with a slightly tilted look on its face, seemingly without any intention of dodging the hit. Instead, the male Nidoran threw itself into the attack before it could hit the intended target and the pink-hued explosion wrapped him in a veil of smoke…

Then he emerged through the smoke only lightly singed, taking her strongest attack and still able to stand due to a combination of typing and the lingering glint of the Light Screen. “Nido!”

“Good boy!” the Picnicker praised. “Now, Double Kick on her Vulpix!”

Without hesitation, he rushed for Koko with his legs aglow. Koko tried to let loose a Powder Snow and bury it in the cold winds. But it bound off to the side at an angle, getting off the line of the attack, and then whipped around on its forepaws to throw its hind legs forward before she could react.

It’s Super-Effective!

The impact was hard enough that Lillie could practically feel it when Koko was batted aside. She could only watch as her small frame hit the ground and bounced off the surface of the bridge, before tumbling to a stop next to Shuckle. Her legs curled as small tremors ran across her body and she whimpered. “Koko!”

“Sorry, but I can’t go easy!” Misa said. “Finish her with Double Kick!”

He moved to do so when the sinuous vines danced. Bellamy waddled over with his root-like legs, his vines flailing about in an effort to keep him from getting close enough to deliver the finishing blow. There was little rhyme or reason to it beyond the panicked efforts to keep her safe, but it served as a deterrent as the Nidoran focused on avoiding them.

Lillie let out a sigh of relief.

“Don’t breathe easy yet,” Misa warned. “Nina, Poison Sting and keep it coming!”

The female Nidoran trapped within the Sticky Web aimed her opened maw towards the downed Koko and let loose small needles that were a deep shade of purple. The spray was meant to be wide, weak in itself but more than enough to finish off Koko in her injured state. And Bellamy couldn’t keep the male distracted and cover her.

So Shuckle did it instead. The Mold Pokémon stretched its limbs out, wrapping Koko within his grasp and pulling her against his shell as he covered her. The rain of purple needles battered and broke where they met his tough shell, but several found the appendages and then sank in deep, coloring the points of the impacts the same shade of purple. “Kle!”

He’s been Poizzoned! Rotom exclaimed. He won’t last long, zrt!

Vul?” a muffled sound from Koko, sheltered from the attack and out of view as the female Nidoran continued her attack between breaths.

Shuuucklle,” he cried as more of his exposed appendages were being shaded purple while reddish wisps began to escape from his body. “Kllle!”

Shuckle is storing energy!

“Ohhh, it’s trying to use Bide before the poison can knock it out,” Misa said in recognition. “But in its current state, it can’t take a solid hit to something its weak to. Water Pulse!”

From its position, at Shuckle’s unprotected flank, Psyduck readied another sphere of compressed water and let it loose. Shuckle was sturdy enough that he could last a little longer against the spray of poisonous needles. But between the earlier attacks and his Protect being disabled, he couldn’t take a hit from that.

So Bellamy took a page out of the male Poison Pin Pokémon’s book and flung his willowy body bell-first into the attack, intercepting it. The sphere ruptured, sending Bellamy flying overhead only to plop down on the bridge, where his head struggled to rise up again.

But after a moment, it lost all strength. The collective damage had been too much. He passed out.

And with the only obstacle in his way removed, the male Nidoran moved to complete his original objective by bounding towards the turtled Shuckle with the intention of delivering its own finishing blow before the blood-tinged aura around it could be unleashed. He threw himself into a kick with both hindlegs present when a gap in-between Shuckle’s purple-stained limb appeared.

Koko used Powder Snow!

What emerged was a nearly point-blank burst of condensed frost, a wintry breath that slammed into the Poison Pin Pokémon full blast. The white veil swallowed the Nidoran’s small body as a crackling sound filled the air. And when it finally petered out, what was left was a frozen statue positioned in front of the snout of the Alolan Vulpix.

Nidoran was frozen solid!

“Pix!” Koko barked. It was a signal from what Lillie could tell, because Shuckle didn’t hesitate to act. He unleashed the built-up power he’d accumulated as he lashed out with the remainder of his strength.

Shuckle unleashed the energy!

His appendage wreathed in red shot forward, slamming into the frozen male Nidoran. The impact was so hard that the ice encasing him shattered and sent him flying. Then he crashed into his bound partner, causing the battery of Poison Stings to cease.

“Nido!, Nina!” Misa called out, but neither responded. Both had been knocked out.

Shuu…shu…” Panting, Shuckle coughed out some purple bubbles before Koko crawled out from beneath him. Then his head drooped to the ground. The poison finished its work, robbing him of his consciousness at last.

Bellamy… Shuckle…” They had both given their all to protect Koko when she was injured and, because of that, she was the last one standing. More than that, Lillie realized from around her mouth was what looked to be frozen berry mush that Shuckle must’ve let her eat to heal up a bit. “Come back, you two.”

She returned them to their balls as Misa did the same to her unconscious pair, leaving only Koko and Psyduck on the field.

“It’s been a while since I lost two pokémon in a Triples battle,” Misa said. “But that doesn’t mean that we’re any worse at one-on-one. Confusion!”

PSSYYYY—” Not deterred at the lack of support from her Nidoran pair, Psyduck’s eyes shone with a cerulean hue as it bundled up into a ball of telekinetic energy. Then launched it towards the Alolan Vulpix with a quack. “DUCK!

Koko avoided it by bounding to the side, her hackles raised as a pink aura began to build around her—

“Koko, don’t!”

—the aura faded as she looked back and let out an inquiring, “Vul?”

“Focus on just dodging for now while I think of something,” she said. Koko’s expression made it clear she didn’t understand why. But she obeyed as Psyduck released another telekinetic cannonball towards her.

We’re in a bad spot, Lillie couldn’t help but think as Koko avoided the next Confusion attack. Psyduck was a Water-Type, meaning it had an advantage against Koko’s Ice attacks. Outside of that she only had Moonblast to use, but it could always put up a Light Screen to blunt their collective attacks, and then Disable to stop her from using it again. But… that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still affect it.

Nodding to herself, she addressed her Starter. “Koko, keep using Powder Snow on Psyduck!”

The Alolan Vulpix’s crystalline blue eyes narrowed as she inhaled until her tiny chest swelled. Then she let loose another stream of the frost-laden gale. The breath of winter ran forward and blanketed the Psyduck, who stood there and let it wash over him as a Light Screen appeared and caught the bulk of it before shattering to leave glimmering particles covering it.

“You’re faster than it, so just keep running circles around it and using Powder Snow!” Lillie pointed out. Speed was the one definite advantage that they had over Psyduck, allowing her to release the chilling breath as she closed the distance and left its glimmering yellow body covered with flakes of frost.

“That won’t do much of anything to Psyduck!” Misa said as her pokémon shook off the first flurry and its eyes shone with psychic power. Then it released another Confusion attack, sending yet another telekinetic bundle of energy sailing towards Koko.

The Alolan Vupix managed to hop to the side as it crashed into the bridge, retaliating with yet another blast of Powder Snow. As the frost-laden gale washed over the Duck Pokémon yet again, it was a little slower in shaking it off a second time.

“Once more!” Lillie said.

PIXXXXX!” breathed Koko as she strained her ice pouch to let out an even strong breath until the sound of crackling ice filled the air.

Psyduck was frozen solid!

Koko stirred. “Vul?”

“Resistance isn’t immunity,” Lillie explained. “Even with Light Screen, a constant series of ice attacks would eventually give it enough grounding to freeze so it can’t use Disable or refresh the Light Screen. That’s why Lynn used Sing to get around Bellamy’s immunity to Sleep Powder, and why Pieri used Safeguard with Lynn.”

It was fortunate they had that training match after all. It was only because she remembered how Lynn had outpaced Snubbull that she opted to even thought to keep going in circles until it stuck. “Now, ready your strongest Moonblast before it thaws!”

Snow-white fur was shrouded in a veil of pink as Koko amassed her most powerful attack, a swirling orb that building up in front of her. The orb swelled until its size surpassed that of the Alolan Vulpix herself, a dense concentration of energy that she fired forward like a cannonball.  “PIX!

A Critical Hit!

The moment the swollen orb connected, it ruptured violently and sent shards of ice flying in all directions. When the pink-hued smoke cleared, Psyduck was laying on the ground while still holding onto his head. He stared towards the sky unflinching as smoke wafted off his yellow coat without making a singe movement.

“…Ahhh, he’s out cold.” Misa said after a moment, pulling out his ball and returning him. Then she sighed. “Looks like we lost this one.”

Match End!

The tension holding up Lillie’s body fled her with the admission, leaving her to let out a heavy breath and slouch over as her mother’s Lilligant patted her on the back and Koko scurried back in her direction. “That was nerve-wracking…”

“If it wasn’t then I wouldn’t be doing my job,” Misa said humorously as she strolled up towards them.  “But look on the bright side: you just have to beat one more pokémon to pass the challenge.”

Lillie received a Green Stamp!

“You mean the final trainer only uses a single pokémon?” Lillie asked after Misa applied her stamp.

“Let me call him so you can see for yourself.” Misa went over the side of the bridge, looking down towards the under-bridge that ran beneath the large one they were on. “Kado! Come introduce yourself!”

Lillie tilted her head in curiosity as she picked up Koko, only for a young man who was maybe a few years older than her to suddenly rise into the air from over the edge of the bridge. He was wearing what looked like a Fisherman’s vest, but with no shirt beneath it, and a pair of swim trunks. There was a pair of goggles on his head as well.

Climbing over the side of the railing, he gave Lillie a bright smile as whatever hoisted him into the air sank back down to the water. “Finally, someone made it past Misa. I was getting bored.”

“You’re the final bridge trainer?” Lillie asked.

He nodded. “I used to be a Gym Trainer, back before Leader Misty got married and went off to join the Elite Four. Not too long ago the Mayor asked me to head the gauntlet and I agreed since I wanted to keep the spirit of it alive.”

If he was a Gym Trainer, then there was no doubt in Lillie’s mind he was talented. The man who gave her the stamp card mentioned earlier that the bridge would act more like an actual Gym by the end. That meant Kado was likely on par with a Gym Leader then—at least relative to her.

“Anyway, the final match will be 1-on-3 the next time you come by,” he continued. “The conditions of victory will be to the knockout or surrender. If you can beat my pokémon with even one of yours still conscious by the end, you get the final stamp and win the challenge.”

Zzzzimple enough, Rotom chimed in before floating in a circle around the former Gym Trainer. What pokémon will you be using, zrt?

To that, Kado only chuckled and then snapped his fingers. Then the water behind him exploded upwards in a spout as a long figure leaped from depths and over the railing of the bridge, streamlets cascading down its serpentine form as the blue scales along its back glistened in the light. A pair of furrowed eyes cast its gaze down upon them, reminding them all that they were very small as its shadow loomed over them and a rumble left its throat.

“Meet my Gyarados,” Kado said, resting a hand against its underbelly. “You’ll have to beat him to win.”

[-A Lily Blossoms in Kanto-]

“Here you go,” Bill said as he set down a cup on a saucer atop the kitchen table for his guest.

In turn, Lusamine’s emerald eyes peered up from the tablet that was in front of her. “Thank you.”

The researcher nodded and then took a seat across from her. “Was the data different than that of the Aether Foundation’s?”

“Not quite,” she said. The screen had the data and reports about her current condition now that the man had finished examining her using the equipment within his home. “I was hoping that the diagnosis would be more positive, but it seems as though I really will have to go through the treatment you suggested.”

“It’s unfortunate, but it’s the only way that we’ll be able to completely remove the remainder of the neurotoxins within your body.”

Her merger with the Ultra Beast when she’d tried to do the unspeakable had left her body in its current condition, but the toxins from that point and time had largely been removed. What was most problematic was the fact that she’d been infected from her previous contact with it, back around the time her husband disappeared. That was so long ago that her body had come to consider it something native and would require… drastic methods to remove it.

“With the teleporter and the DNA map that was provided from before you were infected with the neurotoxins, we can remove them safely. But if we were to do it all at once, your body might vehemently reject it to a potentially fatal degree.”

“Which will mean doing it systematically,” she assumed. “Treatment followed by periods of convalescence and observation. Depending on how my body reacts to the process, it might even take longer than originally predicted.”

“Yes,” he agreed. “I hope it won’t be a problem that you might have to stay here with us for a while longer. I know my facilities aren’t quite up to the standards of your own.”

A slight shake of her head was accompanied by a small smile. “On the contrary, I’ve been finding my stay here to be quite… soothing.”

The Aether Foundation had been a technological marvel, a citadel of chrome and sterilized white. The only landscapes within the artificial island were only those that had been crafted by the hands of artisans, to make the pokémon feel comfortable. It had been her home for such a long time that she considered it as much.

Yet, this inlet was gorgeous in its own way. Quiet and spacious with rich greenery surrounding them, a mountain to the north and a river to the south. A little walk to the east would bring them to a coast, and to the west was a forest.

“In addition, both yourself and your pokémon has proven to be quite welcoming,” she finished. “I could think of no better company or place for my convalescence.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” he said, relief threading his voice. “Still, if there’s anything that you need to get through this, don’t hesitate to tell me. I want to make your stay here as comfortable as possible considering how stressful it’ll be once we do start.”

She stared into her reflection in the tea when she considered that and her smile dropped. To be honest, while Lusamine still had her good days, she still felt horrible and it was hard for her to wake up most of the time. Those neurotoxins in her body had been pepping her up more than she realized, and she wasn’t under the illusion that she could still present the strong image that she had when her daughter was around.

“Then…can we put off starting until once Lillie leaves for her journey?” Her voice held a slight tremor in it. “I don’t imagine it’ll be longer than two or so weeks at this point, and I don’t want her to see me in that sort of state before my gift to her has arrived.”

“Of course,” he answered. Then he took a moment to register the last portion of her request. “Ah, by gift, should I take it that you had luck in finding a Ponyta?”

“Somewhat…” She lightly blew at her tea. “Tell me, are you familiar with a region known as Galar?”

“Not very,” he admitted. “They have a storage system in place, but I didn’t personally oversee it and direct trading via the Global Trading System isn’t functional.”

“Well, there’s a regional variant there that caught my eye,” she told him. “I’d like to give it to her at an ideal time to make it a truly unforgettable memory, but I don’t think anything I can manage will be similar to when she received her first pokémon.”

Hmm… an unforgettable memory…” Bill murmured under his breath. “If that’s the case then, I might have a suggestion.”

Lusamine’s eyes perked up. “Oh?”

“Most people know there’s a colony of Clefairy and Clefable in Mt. Moon,” he began. “But what few people know is that there’s a small, hidden square where they have a sort of ritual dance every month under the full moon. They usually stay out of sight, but perhaps yourself, your daughter, and your Clefable could bear witness to it with Cecilia as a guide.”

“That sounds perfect!” A truly earnest smile blossomed across her face at that suggestion as she reached over and grabbed his hands still on the table. “Thank you for telling me.”

He only gave her a somewhat modest smile as he met her gaze in silence when the sound of Glacian barking and getting a yip back reached their ears through the pet entrance to the door. “Oh, it seems they’re back.”

Lusamine withdrew her touch as she rose from her seat and opened the door, where she spotted her daughter being ringed by the Fresh Snow and Fox Pokémon as they both ran around her. Her Flowering Pokémon was only a step away and waved upon noticing her, an act mirrored by Lillie.

Her heart quivered. It was what she wanted so much. Her family, her pokémon, all together with smiles. It was only possible because she was going through this treatment even knowing that it would be so much harder than what she was going through now.

Lusamine didn’t want to lose this a second time.

So she’d see it through.

 

Fanfic Recommendation 95

 


My Fanfics


 

Rabbit of the Moon 18

Summary: In a different world, Bell Cranel died at the hands of the Minotaur on the Fifth Floor. The Moon Presence, searching for a new Hunter to bring the long night to an end, just so happened to stumble across his soul on the way to Heaven. Thus a contract was established.

 

 


Fanfics that I have found interesting and have recently been updated


A Fate Grand Order x FSN Fanfic

Summary: In between being a hero and searching for a way to get to Saber, Shirou Emiya got a job as a technician at Chaldeas Security Organization. What is not to like? Very good pay, help save the world, and use his abilities as both a repairman and a magus. It has all the advantages he could want. Too bad his Spiritron Dive ability is too low to be a Master while others fight in Fuyuki.


A Pokemon Fanfic

Summary: Time travel, based on the Anime. So, the world ended. That’s bad news. Who best to get to fix it? Well, there is this guy with a track record in world saving… Not entirely serious. T rating may be overdoing it.


 

Rabbit of the Moon: Chapter 18 [DanMachi/Bloodborne]

Chapter 18: The Blacksmith and the Swordswoman

 

The sun was setting over the horizon of a grassy field.

The green carpet was only split by a dirt path, carved out by countless feet tracking over the same path until it became a road. The evening breeze was cool and refreshing as it gently caressed the cheeks of a young boy with hair as white as the moon in full and eyes as crimson as blood.

Bell Cranel was just a boy. He was short, adorned by a plain shirt and baggy pants that hung off his frame. His tiny fingers that weren’t even large enough to grip a hoe instead clung to the pants of the tall figure next to him, his only family in the world.

“I hope today wasn’t too hard on you, Bell,” said his Grandfather, tone wrapped in a gentle voice. “I know you aren’t used to working on the land just yet.”

The tiny boy shook his head. “It was fun helping you, Grandpa.”

The aged face bore a smile before the thick fingers came down and rustled his hair affectionately. “That’s good. How about I tell you another story tonight?”

The smile that came across his face was like the blooming of a flower under the sun. “Can you tell me about the Argonaut again?”

“You really like that one, don’t you?” When Bell nodded his head like an excited puppy, his grandfather only chuckled a bit more before hoisting him onto his shoulders. “Let’s hurry home then.”

As Bell clung to his grandfather’s head, he looked back towards the setting sun. The light suddenly grew brighter. It swelled with radiance until it became so bright that it devoured the world…

And then the light dulled to become the glow of a magic stone lamp. Bell Cranel woke from his dream to find himself once more in the confines of the space beneath the Church. The place the Hestia Familia called home.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Grandpa lately, Bell realized as he sat up, causing the sheets clinging to him to slide down and pool around his waist as he looked down at his hands. The imagery of blood painting them flickered in his mind for a moment before the pale hue reasserted itself.

It had been a few days since he’d returned from Yharnam and fought the Silverback. Since then he’d been laying low, so to speak. He’d been so focused on the fight that he’d been ignorant of his surroundings and a large crowd had borne witness to his battle when he really didn’t want the attention right now.

Eina had visited to apologize for the incident after the first day and offered compensation on behalf of the Ganesha Familia for destroying the monster before it could cause more collateral damage and kill civilians. They were apparently taking responsibility for the incident and were working on reparations and repairs to the damage caused by the monsters, including Daedalus Street. They weren’t sure how all the monsters got loose, or why that one in specific had managed to slip away unnoticed until it attacked him, or even the identity of the thief who’d led him to that place. But they were still grateful he went above and beyond what was expected for an adventurer of his Level.

The goddess residing there called Penia also asked that her thanks be extended to the ‘Hero of the Street’ as they were apparently calling him. Bell wasn’t aware of that goddess, but Hestia seemed to know her from the reaction she gave. The moniker made his stomach turn and it took all the effort he could not frown when the two of them were watching him at the time.

After all, how could anyone at all call someone like me a Hero?

He hadn’t been thinking of the people around him when he fought the Silverback the second time. He was only thinking about how it stood between him and returning to his Hestia’s side. Not to mention how he’d left that Little Girl in Yharnam with no one else in the world to call family after plundering the echoes of her grandfather just so he could return to his family.

Maybe the dreams were meant to be a punishment for that. To have the memories of simple times when he had been at his happiest with his Grandpa, only to wake with the knowledge that those times were now gone forever. To never forget the pain his absence brought and be reminded of what he could never regain.

It’s probably what I deserve. He brought a hand to his head and let out a soft sigh as he gathered his thoughts. Then he looked at the clock, pulled aside the sheets, and stood up to stretch his body.

Even with the sins on his back weighing him down, Bell couldn’t keep hiding away in the Church. Even with the generous consideration of the Ganesha Familia, their finances were still tight. He had work to do and today was going to be a busy day given everything that he needed to do.

He had to go thank Syr for helping him get away that time. Then there was a meeting with the members of the Hephaestus and Takemikazuchi Familia that Hestia arranged to see if they had good enough compatibility. The news about the Silverback had likely given both a little more consideration of his talents, which would probably be the only good thing that came out of it.

Once he was limbered up and dressed, Bell left the confined comforts of the Church behind with his broken armor in his bag. The sun’s rays touched down and heated the stone streets while its radiance lit up the sky. The air was crisp as it whistled through the buildings that made up the cul-de-sac. Not a bad morning all things considered.

Yet, as he walked the path there was a slight sense of wariness in his stride. He found himself feeling more alert than before. The streets of Orario should be safe, yet that had been proven not to be the case.

The sense of unease he felt made him realize just how much he’d taken for granted the sense of safety he felt during the days prior to the Monster Feria. He wondered if this was how the people of Yharnam felt every day and night. Never knowing when a beast or giant rodent would pop out of the shadows to end their lives even before the night of the Hunt.

Calm down. He took a deep breath to try and rid himself of the tension he felt. That incident with the Silverback was probably just due to some unusual circumstances at the time. Even if it wasn’t, Bell wasn’t unarmed even if he didn’t carry his weapons with him at the moment.

The Messengers could retrieve his Hunter’s Pistol, Saw Cleaver, Saw Spear, Kirkhammer, or Gascoigne’s Axe from the Dream with a thought—no matter where he was. It was undeniably a convenience that he couldn’t exactly ignore.

But it did little to comfort him as he finally reached the Hostess of Fertility and walked through the doors, whereupon the ladies greeted him on sight.

“Bell, it’s been a few days,” Syr said, wearing her uniform that was a pale-green skirt and white blouse. There was an empty tray in her hand from delivering a plate of what looked to be sausages to a dwarf. “I was starting to worry I scared you off.”

“I was just laying low for a bit until things settled down,” he said. “I wanted to thank you for helping me get back home.”

Syr shook her head. “It was the least I could do since you only got caught up in it doing me a favor.”

Mya, but who would have thought little white-hair could make a mess like that,” Arnya spoke up, leaning over his shoulder with a cheshire smile on her face as she gently poked his cheek. “You know they’re still talking about how brutal you were even now, meow~?”

Bell flinched slightly at that. “I… didn’t really have a choice at the time.”

“No one is questioning your actions, Mister Cranel,” Ryuu assured him as she walked past, having finished busing a table. “How you won doesn’t change the fact that you adapted to an unforeseen circumstance and prevailed against an opponent that was stronger than you, all while keeping those around you safe. It was admirable considering your short time as an Adventurer.”

Mama Mia nodded in agreement. “You fought. You won. Hold your head up with pride.”

“…Thank you,” he said, feeling a weight somewhat lifting off his shoulders.

“So, Bell, what are you up to today?” Syr asked. “Are you heading back to the Dungeon?”

“I plan to after handling some other things like getting my armor repaired,” he said. “I’ve been gone from it for a while now, so I don’t think I’ll go that deep inside. But I’ll probably be there until nightfall.”

“In that case, how about I give you a lunch to eat later on?” she offered. “Just give me a moment and I’ll get it from the back.”

Before he could say anything, she was already gone and came back with a basket that she held out for him with a soft smile on her face. He couldn’t find it in him to exactly refuse, while either willfully or blissfully ignorant of the pitying look that briefly crossed some of the girls’ faces as he accepted it. “Thanks. I’ll bring it back later tonight.”

That done, they bid him farewell and he set back out towards Babel from West Main.

Eventually, Bell made it to Central Park just outside of the white tower that rose to the sky. The cultivated greenery of the park, along with the numerous fountains that were constantly spouting crystalline water, made for a refreshing spot to take moment to relax. The westernmost fountain would serve as the meeting place.

Hestia had told him that Hephaestus mentioned one of her children would meet Bell here, but it’d be up to whoever it was if they wanted to form a party. Same with Takemikazuchi. It hadn’t been long since he’d arrived in Orario and, despite all of the horrible things that happened after the Minotaur, he was grateful for the chance to meet so many new people and interested in seeing just what it’d be like to fight alongside others.

Still, Bell honestly had some reservations about working with others due to the secrets he and his goddess shared about his status. He could pass off being able to retrieve his weapons and items from the Dream as a form of magic. It was rare for those who only recently obtained a Falna to have access to magic, but not unheard of.

But he’d need to avoid letting them know about the fact that blood was something that could mend his wounds or revitalize him if he could help it. No matter how he thought about it, there was just nothing good about how it looked. Besides, he shouldn’t take on any wounds if he could help it.

I’ll probably have to be careful with the Quicksilver and Blood Bullets too, he thought to himself with a sigh. The Hunter’s Pistol allowed him some range when it came to dealing with more annoying monsters that hovered out of his range. But… what if he shot a monster and didn’t kill it?

In the end, his blood was the same as that of the Hunters. There was a Beast dwelling deep inside of him as well, just like Gascoigne and Henryk. If he was careless and let someone else consume or come into contact with it, was there a chance that it’d turn whatever it flowed through into a Beast as well?

A shudder ran through his body when he thought back to the Minotaur that had killed him once before.  If it had ran back into the depths after he’d shot out its eye, would it have become an even more terrifying blood-slathering monster? An Abnormal?

Deep in thought, Bell only realized that someone was closing in on him when their shadow offered shade from the sun. He looked up to see what looked to be a young man, at least a few years older than himself, with hair that was red like flames while being dressed in black. There was also a small box under one of his arms.

“You wouldn’t happen to be from the Hestia Familia, would you?” he asked. “I mean, Hephaestus mentioned I’d recognize you from your hair and eyes. But…”

“Y-Yes—” Bell stood up and nodded. “I’m Bell Cranel, part of the Hestia Familia. Are you, um, here to form a party with me?”

“Well, I’m hoping that’ll be the case,” he said. “When my goddess mentioned someone with white hair and red eyes killed that Silverback, I kind of pictured someone a little older. But it’s not like age matters much to Adventurers, right?”

He had a point. The Falna was the great equalizer. Even a child with one could, in theory, kill monsters five times their height with ease if their stats were high enough.  Then he extended his unoccupied arm and held out his hand. “I’m Welf Crozzo.”

“Welf… Crozzo?” Bell froze for a moment. Then his voice picked up a notch. “Welf Crozzo, the blacksmith?”

Welf let out a sigh. “…Yeah. That one.”

[R-M]

“I can’t believe my luck!” the white-haired boy said with a smile as he slung off his bag. “I’ve wanted to meet you if I could!”

Hearing how ecstatic Bell sounded, Welf couldn’t help but feel a sense of apprehensiveness building up in his chest that was tinged by expectation. He had some hope that, with Bell supposedly being new to the city, he wouldn’t have heard of the Crozzo name. That cursed name that had more than once drew ire and expectation towards him that he hoped wouldn’t rear its ugly head once more.

Yet, it seemed that he wasn’t so lucky. The next thing he would do would be to ask for a magic sword no doubt. Better to get it over with now than drag it out. “Look, I’ll tell you right now I’m not making any Mag—”

The blacksmith’s words were cut short when Bell set the bag down on the edge of the fountain. The sound of rattling betrayed the contents that glimmered with dull-toned steel and battered metal. He recognized it, because what blacksmith couldn’t recognize their own work, and a lump formed in his throat as he swallowed the rest of his previous words and hesitantly asked, “Is that…my armor?”

White hair shifted as the younger boy nodded. “I wanted to see if I could get it repaired or replaced by more of your work later today, because of how beat-up it got during the fight against the Silverback. It helped me out a lot before that too.”

Welf set down the box he was holding on the edge of the fountain before slowly reaching into the bag next to it. He pulled out the chest-piece of the armor set and found that it had been put through no small amount of damage. It had only been a few days since the armor had been sold but it had seen more use in that time than some armors had seen in years.

“…This was literally the second armor that I sold,” Welf began, running his thumbs over the ragged and battered chest-piece. “I made it out of Metal Rabbit Hair, so it would be both durable and light. It was as high-quality as I could make it, but the price was set so that a beginner could afford it while covering the costs of manufacturing it. To see it like this is…”

Since the armor was sold through the storefront no names were exchanged, so he wasn’t privy to any information about the customer. He couldn’t ask them what they thought about it, or if any adjustments could have been made to make it more comfortable, or any special considerations.

The fact that it hadn’t been immediately returned had given him something of a sense of elation, but also sparked his curiosity as he’d wondered who it was that bought his armor and why they’d done it. Was it by chance or after some serious consideration? Was it because the quality was just right for the price range or the aesthetic of it?

It had to be Fate that the one who bought it was standing here in front of him to answer those questions. “Sorry I ruined it so soon. I…”

Bell trailed off when he noticed Welf slowly shaking his head.

“You used it in the battles you fought and came back alive,” he said. There was always a single question every blacksmith dreaded thinking about as they worked the forge: would this fulfill its purpose and keep the one who bought it alive? “That’s all that matters.”

Welf couldn’t guess that the chest-piece had saved Bell’s heart from being gouged out by a spear backed by inhuman strength. Or the fact that it caught some of the explosive fragments of fast-flying quicksilver that scoured the pristine surface. Or how it’d stopped him from being opened up from shoulder-to-hip by the fangs of a Saw Cleaver.

Likewise, Welf couldn’t even fathom how the forearm-guards had warded away claws that had shredded away half of the young adventurer’s innocent-looking face prior. Or how they kept him from losing his head to the axe of a Beast clad in the flesh of a man. Or even the fact that they’d held out against the steel teeth of a maddened Old Hunter.

The only thing he could tell was that the armor he’d crafted had saved the life of this adventurer more than once. It had held up as best it could until he was in a position to get back with his life intact. And it still hadn’t crumbled to dust despite all of that—a fact that brought a soft smile to his face.

The boy looked as though a weight had been lifted off his shoulders before asking, “So, you think it’s possible to get it fixed?”

“Honestly, with it being in this condition, it’d be easier to just replace it,” Welf said after assessing the cumulative damage. Then he set the chest-piece down and reached over towards the box he’d brought with him. “I guess you really are in luck considering I was just going to put my latest version in the armor series on sale after the meetup was done.”

He removed the lid to show off his latest work. Since the armor Bell had bought was the first one that wasn’t returned right away, he’d decided to make a similar model one to it. The Pyonkichi Mk III was a little more durable than the first due to the composition of its materials making it thicker, with a few embellishments  on it to make it somewhat more aesthetically pleasing.

Bell picked up the armor pieces and turned them in his arms. He seemed drawn to the pieces, pulled into the silvery glint of the morning sun being reflected off the polished surface of it. The blood-hued rubies on the wrist guards matched his eyes upon looking into them, almost like staring into a mirror.

“How much?” he asked, looking up to Welf with eager eyes.

The blacksmith struck a deal. “You can have them for free, if you’re willing to make a Direct Contract with me.”

Upon seeing the boy’s head tilt quizzically, he remembered that Bell had only been doing this for such a short time he likely wouldn’t know. So Welf explained the notion to him that in a direct contract the drops and loot from the Dungeon would be brought back to Welf, who would then use them to make things for Bell at a reduced cost. For adventurers at a low-level, the reduced price made armor and weapons more affordable so they could go deeper into the Dungeon, where they had a better chance to Level Up.

“Oh, that’s convenient,” Bell said. “But would it really be okay to make a contract with me? I haven’t gone that deep into the Dungeon, so the items I can bring back aren’t really that good.”

“And I’ve only gone down to the Tenth Floor and haven’t even unlocked my Blacksmith Developmental Ability yet,” Welf told him. “You’ve been down to the Fifth Floor at the very least, despite having been here only a little while, so from my perspective you’re moving pretty fast even though we’re both low-level Adventurers. Even so, we still have room grow and I think that’s part of why our Goddesses agreed to let us meet like that.”

Part of that was due to the fact that he wasn’t a dedicated adventurer. He was first and foremost a blacksmith, so his time was mostly spent in the forge rather than the depths of the Dungeon. But he had trouble joining parties because of his name and had reached the limits of what he could do alone, which was why when his goddess told him about the offer instead of the others in her Familia he’d jumped on the chance.

And he was rewarded by meeting the very person who bought his armor and used it to its fullest. More than anything Welf wanted this battle party to work out. “By the way, do you know who the third person we’ll be partying with will be?”

Bell looked up from the armor pieces that he was fitting onto himself. “It’s a member of the Takemikazuchi Familia. Their god is on good terms with Goddess, even though they both work for different potato puff stands. I think they’ll be here soon too.”

Welf hadn’t heard of the Familia before, so it was likely a small one. More so if their god worked in such a place. Even so, the prospect of being able to form a three-man cell was something he was looking forward to, so he tried to spot their potential ally when he saw a pair of eyes staring back at them.

It was a young woman approaching them. She had raven-black hair tied into a ponytail that contrasted her milk-white skin, the front of which draped and parted over eyes that were a shade of blue and purple. Her choice of clothing and weaponry reminded Welf of a little of Tsubaki’s, only with it being somewhat more modest and painted a shade lavender with a red shoulder-guard that had the emblem of a sword planted in the ground.

Her eyes settled onto Bell’s hair and she hesitated for a single step before walking towards them. Then she came to a stop in front of them and asked, “Are you Bell Cranel of the Hestia Familia and the member of the Hephaestus Familia?”

“That’s us,” Welf said. “And you must be our last party member?”

She nodded and gave a slight bow. “My name is Yamato Mikoto. I am of Lord Takemikazuchi’s Familia.”

[R-M]

Mikoto came at the agreed upon meeting place at the appointed time with her back straight as she took in the appearance of the two adventurers in front of her. It was at the behest of her Lord that she agreed to at least see if the formation of this party would be to the benefit of them all.

“It’s nice to meet you, Miss Mikoto,” said Hestia’s child as he looked up to her with a smile. The formality of his speech, the curvature of his face, and the brightness in his eyes gave her the impression of him being far less…imposing than the recent stories floating around would tell.

“I’m Welf Crozzo,” said the other adventurer. He flashed her a grin as he extended his hand. “Pleasure to meet you too.”

As she shook it, she felt how calloused and rough they were. Not surprising given he was part of a Crafting Familia. It was a clear sign of his dedication to his craft at the very least, but she didn’t believe it was a perfect reflection one’s capabilities as an adventurer.

Even without forming a party, relationships between adventurers were fickle things at the best of times. But there was a reason mixed parties were complex things to form even in the short-term after all. You had to factor in the relationship between the gods and goddesses. Then there was the imbalance in experience. Last was the dispositions of their Familia members.

In the case of their deities, Lord Takemikazuchi held a friendship with the Goddess Hestia despite the fact that their potato snack stands were rivals. He did not seem particularly close to the Goddess Hephaestus, but there was no animosity. Hestia was seemingly close to her if the story about her staying with the former for a time after her arrival was true, and all three ultimately consented—so there wasn’t a problem there at present.

Next was the question of experience and disposition that Mikoto herself had to address as she broached the topic. “Forgive me for asking this abruptly but, since we are not familiar with one another very well, may we discuss matters like how long we have been exploring the Dungeon, the deepest floor we’ve explored, and our previous experience with parties?”

It was somewhat blunt outright asking them. But she felt it would be the best way to judge them. Since she’d arrived in Orario she had seen many kinds of adventurers. Those that boast of their strength and accomplishments, those that embellished their abilities, and so on. Letting them speak before she made judgement was paramount.

Hestia’s child spoke up first. “Ah, well… I’ve been an Adventurer for less a month now since I arrived in Orario. Since then I’ve only made it as far as the Sixth Floor. And this will be my first party.”

“You’re really selling yourself short,” Welf said. “Most people don’t make it that far down in months, let alone weeks.”

Bell only shook his head at the compliment and his tone of voice shift slightly to a somber one. “I think I was mostly just lucky. Both my advisor and Goddess warned me, but I didn’t really understand until a little while ago how reckless and dangerous it was doing that alone.”

…Neither were wrong. Most adventurers, or at least the ones who tended to live longer, paced themselves. Exploring the Dungeon was a gradual thing and so it was best to acclimate yourself towards becoming familiar to its habits while gaining experience during the earlier period, when the growth was accelerated.

That being said, going that deep after a few days was indeed reckless. More so when you were alone. Especially if he had no combat experience prior to arriving in Orario, as his goddess mentioned. Luck might have played a part in that, but the fact that he was still alive and whole after going that deep said something of skill and dedication as well.

The blacksmith scratched the back of his head. “Well, in my case, I’ve been here for seven years but I’ve only made it as far as the Tenth Floor. I’d like say that’s because I spent most of my time working in the forge since my Goddess only allows for us to put the best of our things on sale, but part of that’s due to an issue with forming a party.”

“Why’s that?” Bell asked. “From what I heard, most of the larger Familias form a party with other members, right?”

“That might be the case in Exploration-Type Familias, but with us it’s different…” He went silent as he closed his eyes and grabbed his chin in thought. “You probably don’t know, but we lower-level blacksmiths tend to have our work cut out for us in getting customers. It’s no lie when I say that sometimes we have to steal and undercut each other because there are so many of us and so few customers. Because of that forming a party between members of our Familia can be difficult at times, so we have to group up with people outside of it…”

After a moment, he opened them and looked to Bell. “I’ve been with a lot of different parties, but none of them has ended well. They would ask me to do something that I wasn’t comfortable doing. And when I refused, they’d try to leverage my status as a member of their party to get it. Because of that we would break apart on bad terms, but I honestly want this to work out for us.”

In other words, he was a serial party-jumper. It wasn’t strange for one person to move between them occasionally, to see if there was good compatibility. But doing so consistently and leaving on bad terms often meant that there was some kind of problem with the individual.

“Will whatever it is that caused the animosity between yourself and the others interfere with us while venturing into the Dungeon?” Mikoto asked.

He shook his head as he faced her. “It was centered around my role as a smith, not an Adventurer. I can pull my weight in the Dungeon.”

Were they perchance trying to get him to make them free equipment? Mikoto silently wondered. Equipment cost was a heavy expense for a smaller Familia and larger ones would have their own dedicated smiths to maintain their gear.

Regardless, he looked frank and firm in his gaze. The implication of what he told them was clear enough and he had to know how it sounded. Yet, the fact that he was openly admitting it when he didn’t have to meant he deserved the benefit of the doubt.

“I cannot judge your relationship with other groups in the past,” she said, crossing her arms. “I have no right to comment or pry into what happened with them either. Instead, I will look to contributions in the Dungeon.”

Bell agreed. “You don’t seem like a bad person and I doubt our goddesses would let us meet up like this if that was the case.”

“Thank you,” he said with a look of relief on his face. “Both of you. I won’t let you down.”

Next, it was Mikoto’s turn. “As for myself, I have been exploring the Dungeon since my Familia relocated to Orario two years ago. We are small with only six members, so we often partied with one another. But one of our members has achieved Level 2 and so we were able to go as deep as the Thirteenth Floor consistently.”

“That’s incredible,” Welf said earnestly while staring at her. “I’ve known Familias that never make it that deep despite being more than twice the size. Honestly, you can live relatively comfortably at that point without going much deeper as a smaller group.”

Mikoto only shook her head. Perhaps they could, if they simply kept the valis they earned for themselves. But it wasn’t just themselves they were supporting. “Leaving aside our financial circumstances, we have our own reasons for going as deeply as we do. ”

Perhaps out of respect for them not pressing him for further details, the blacksmith didn’t press further either. He merely nodded. “Either way, you’re probably the most experienced of us from the sounds of it. Are you going to be the party’s leader then?”

“So it would seem,” she settled on. If it was based purely on experience, Welf had the greatest in terms of years. However, he admitted that he was more dedicated to his craft and he often left parties because of incompatibility. Plus, he didn’t seem to want to call the shots so much as he simply wanted to be part of a party.

Likewise, Bell had less than a month’s worth of experience diving into the Dungeon and had only gone as far as the Sixth Floor. Plus, he had no experience with fighting in a group. That lack of experience was something that couldn’t be overlooked.

“Bell Cranel, I have heard that you managed to slay a Silverback,” she said. “But if we are to commit to this battle party we need to know the measure of your abilities personally, as well as demonstrate our own. Are you aware of what a three-man cell formation is?”

Bell shook his head.

“It’s a standard formation where one acts as the vanguard, the other covers them, and the last one provides rear support,” Welf explained. “The Vanguard would deal the initial offense, drawing the enemy aggression while their support prevents counterattacks and look for the opportunity to end the enemy as quickly as possible. The rear support usually brings up the rear using long-range weapons, preventing surprise attacks and holding onto healing items, but they need to be able to defend themselves and contribute.”

“Oh, that makes sense,” Bell said. “So which role are we all going to be?”

“We will determine that by the end of the day,” Mikoto declared while looking over to Babel. “For now, prepare yourselves. Before we take a risk that would dishonor my Lord, we’ll go down to the last floor that you ventured to so that we may see what you are capable of—the Sixth Floor.”

 

Fanfic Recommendation 94

 


Fanfics that I have found interesting and have recently been updated


A Fate Grand Order x FSN Fanfic

Summary: Naofumi Iwatani was summoned to Melromarc as the Shield Hero. Everything looked great… until he overheard Itsuki and Motoyasu talking about parties sharing experience from kills. He then finds out some stuff from his help guide that Malty hadn’t told him about. In going to Malty to ask his questions, he eavesdrops on her conversation with a nun from the Church of the Three Heroes and learns more than what he wanted to hear. Not wanting to stay and wait to be arrested and tried unfairly, he runs away from the Capital. Now a criminal on the run, Naofumi has to do his best to avoid the Church and the King outside the waves. And find someone who, slave crest or not, will help him to overcome his own trials and pains past and present, and restore that which he thought he lost long ago. Hope.


Intrepid: 21-08 Sophia –  21A Foil
A Worm Fanfiction
Summary: In the wake of the Locker Incident, Taylor goes comatose. Wracked with guilt, Emma and Madison trigger. Things spiral from there as they quickly go different routes, both seeking redemption in a different way.


Symbiotic 28 – 32

A Pokemon Fanfiction

Summary: In a different life Ash looks on his world from an unique perspective.


A Pokemon Fanfic

Summary: Time travel, based on the Anime. So, the world ended. That’s bad news. Who best to get to fix it? Well, there is this guy with a track record in world saving… Not entirely serious. T rating may be overdoing it.


A Future Tied by Fates 46

A Fire Emblem Awakening x Fire Emblem Fates Crossover Fanfiction
Summary: The war is over, Nohr has won, and Corrin, ridden by guilt and grieving the loss of Azura, is a broken man. Yet the threat of the Invisible Dragon remains and now he moves against the weakened kingdoms. When a mysterious tactician and a princess appear, can Corrin rise past his grief and work with them to save both their worlds? Continues story of “A Future Broken”


 

Fanfic Recommendation 93

 


Fanfics that I have found interesting and have recently been updated


A Rising of the Shield Hero x Yakuza Crossover Fanfic

Summary: Post Song of Life Kiriyu is summoned through a ritual with the Vassal Weapon to become the Gauntlet Hero. With nothing left for him after faking his death at the end, how will the dragon rise to the defense of the Shield Hero.


A Rising of the Shield Hero Fanfic

Summary: Naofumi Iwatani was summoned to Melromarc as the Shield Hero. Everything looked great… until he overheard Itsuki and Motoyasu talking about parties sharing experience from kills. He then finds out some stuff from his help guide that Malty hadn’t told him about. In going to Malty to ask his questions, he eavesdrops on her conversation with a nun from the Church of the Three Heroes and learns more than what he wanted to hear. Not wanting to stay and wait to be arrested and tried unfairly, he runs away from the Capital. Now a criminal on the run, Naofumi has to do his best to avoid the Church and the King outside the waves. And find someone who, slave crest or not, will help him to overcome his own trials and pains past and present, and restore that which he thought he lost long ago. Hope.


Intrepid: 21-06 Madison –  21-07 Emma
A Worm Fanfiction
Summary: In the wake of the Locker Incident, Taylor goes comatose. Wracked with guilt, Emma and Madison trigger. Things spiral from there as they quickly go different routes, both seeking redemption in a different way.

 


Fate Reach Out 43

A Fate Kaleid AU Fanfic

Summary: A chance decision leads to an unlikely discovery. The mention of a rumor leads to an unbelievable mystery. And the connection to a long forgotten family leads to an unforgettable experience. Welcome to Inaba, Yu Narukami… or should I say Shirou Emiya? (Co-Authored by Nameless Flame Wielder up to Ch.21)


The Hero Nobody Knows 9

A Fate Kaleid AU Fanfic

Summary: A Prisma Illya spin-off centered around Shirou Emiya receiving the Archer Class-card, only it syncs him up with the EMIYA Alter spirit.


Symbiotic 23 – 27

A Pokemon Fanfiction

Summary: In a different life Ash looks on his world from an unique perspective.


A Pokemon Fanfic

Summary: Time travel, based on the Anime. So, the world ended. That’s bad news. Who best to get to fix it? Well, there is this guy with a track record in world saving… Not entirely serious. T rating may be overdoing it.


 

Fanfic Recommendation 92

 


My Fanfics


 

Busi goes Blue (or How To Be a Blue Mage In Eorzea) – Role Action: Addle

Summary: What can the magic of blue do for you? Well, for Cocobusi it offered a chance to become a mage like he’d always wanted. Even if it wasn’t the same magic that his brothers could use, it was still worth a shot… right?

 

 


Fanfics that I have found interesting and have recently been updated


A Rising of the Shield Hero x Yakuza Crossover Fanfic

Summary: Post Song of Life Kiriyu is summoned through a ritual with the Vassal Weapon to become the Gauntlet Hero. With nothing left for him after faking his death at the end, how will the dragon rise to the defense of the Shield Hero.


A Rising of the Shield Hero Fanfic

Summary: Naofumi Iwatani was summoned to Melromarc as the Shield Hero. Everything looked great… until he overheard Itsuki and Motoyasu talking about parties sharing experience from kills. He then finds out some stuff from his help guide that Malty hadn’t told him about. In going to Malty to ask his questions, he eavesdrops on her conversation with a nun from the Church of the Three Heroes and learns more than what he wanted to hear. Not wanting to stay and wait to be arrested and tried unfairly, he runs away from the Capital. Now a criminal on the run, Naofumi has to do his best to avoid the Church and the King outside the waves. And find someone who, slave crest or not, will help him to overcome his own trials and pains past and present, and restore that which he thought he lost long ago. Hope.


Intrepid: 21-04 Taylor –  21-05 Sophia 
A Worm Fanfiction
Summary: In the wake of the Locker Incident, Taylor goes comatose. Wracked with guilt, Emma and Madison trigger. Things spiral from there as they quickly go different routes, both seeking redemption in a different way


Symbiotic 23 – 27

A Pokemon Fanfiction

Summary: In a different life Ash looks on his world from an unique perspective.


A Future Tied by Fates 45

A Fire Emblem Awakening x Fire Emblem Fates Crossover Fanfiction
Summary: The war is over, Nohr has won, and Corrin, ridden by guilt and grieving the loss of Azura, is a broken man. Yet the threat of the Invisible Dragon remains and now he moves against the weakened kingdoms. When a mysterious tactician and a princess appear, can Corrin rise past his grief and work with them to save both their worlds? Continues story of “A Future Broken”


In Time’s Flow 13

A Fire Emblem Three Houses Fanfiction
Summary: Sothis made a mistake, for mortal hands could not wield the powers of a Goddess. Byleth stands alone, stagnant against the inexorable march of time, doomed to fail again and again.


 

Busi Goes Blue (or How to be a Blue Mage in Eorzea) – Role Action 1: Addle [FFXIV Fanfic]

Summary: What can the magic of blue do for you? Well, for Cocobusi it offered a chance to become a mage like he’d always wanted. Even if it wasn’t the same magic that his brothers could use, it was still worth a shot… right?


Addle

<-><-><-><-><->

Cocobusi had been mildly concerned about potentially learning the next spell

The day after dealing with the King Wespes, Cocobusi returned to the Drowning Wench. Not for the ale or food, but because there was an Independent Arms Mender. His outfit had gotten quite torn from the constant battles, and his cane battered up from his use of it as a blunt instrument.

“I’m honestly surprised the fabric ‘eld out this long,” said a Hyur woman named Leofrun as she inspected them. “I’ll repair it for ye at a low cost since the materials are little better than those used to make a ‘empen ‘alfrobe set. But, considering the nature o’ your business, you’d be well off purchasing more durable armor for yer adventures.”

“I suppose you might be right,” the neophyte Blue Mage conceded. The soul crystal did the majority of the work when it came to casting his spells, but the cane itself was useful in its own way. It didn’t need to be replaced at all, in theory.

But the clothing was a different story, given that through the use of crystals and other techniques it was entirely possible for them to be more durable than steel, provided they were properly attuned to the wielder. What he had now wasn’t good enough for future endeavors. “What would you recommend then?”

“A visit to ‘awker’s alley,” she said. “Old Iron Thunder will set you up with a proper attire, if it suits yer fancy.”

Heeding her advice, he left the Drowning Wench through the nearby lift, dropping him down into the Bulwark Hall that led to the Octant. The area around the massive aetheryte in the center of the plaza happened to be crowded with adventurers of all shapes and sizes, chattering and such. For some reason the number of adventurers in Limsa seemed so much larger than the number in Ul’dah. He could only presume it was because the sea afforded access to lands beyond the horizon as he ventured past them through the lower level of the city-state towards—Hawker’s Alley.

There he found the merchant that the mender had mentioned, who just so happened to have reasonable articles of clothing in stock that would be more suited to him. He ended up purchasing a Hempen Cloak, along with a set of Leather Ringbands, a Hempen Sash with matching Gaskins and Leather Boots. He even ended up being roped into talking to a nearby Jeweler and purchasing a Copper Wristlet and Bone Necklace to go with them, claiming they would be an improvement over what he had before.

And they weren’t wrong.

Cocobusi didn’t understand a lot of how Weavercraft and Goldsmithing worked, his trade was Alchemy after all, but he could feel the difference. He felt just a bit more protected. A little bit more clear of mind. It probably wasn’t too much better than what he had before but, considering how dangerous his search for spells had been so far, he should at least take the time to improve his chances of survival.

I may as well get the color dyed while I’m at it, he couldn’t help but think as he took all his newly purchased equipment with him towards the West Alley. There was apparently an individual known as Unsynrael the Dyemonger, who kept blue dye in stock. Though it wasn’t strictly necessary, Cocobusi felt that somehow his identity was tied to the color of the school of magic he found an affinity with, so he at least wanted the clothing he wore to carry that on as he upgraded his equipment.

It was when he passed through the small plaza that separated the East and West Alleys that he spotted the familiar bed of pink hair. The Plainsfolk Lalafell who he’d been partnered with more often than not was standing on a small stool in front of one of the stands, allowing her to reach the countertop as she had what was seemingly a heated conversation with a very large Sea Wolf Roegadyn.

Between the hustle and bustle of the foot traffic, he couldn’t make out what they were saying from a distance. But once he got closer it seemed like she was trying to negotiate a deal with him. Though, once he got close enough, they noticed him and the conversation stalled.

“What are you doing here?” the Arcanist asked. “Eavesdropping now?”

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I just happened to hear your voice on my way to the dyemonger and wanted to ask what was going on.”

“My grimoire needs to be replaced,” she explained somewhat curtly. “Yesterday’s events burned though all my pages, and the wear and tear on it have gotten to the point where simply binding new pages to it won’t suffice. But the merchant here won’t give me a suitable deal and I won’ t be able to afford new garments if I do buy it.”

“If I gave you a discount when I haven’t others, it would be a disservice to the other adventurers who come to me,” he said in a somewhat exasperated tone. “More so if word gets around. I can’t risk my business because you want to scrimp by.”

“Well, it would be unfair if he simply gave you a discount and word got around,” Cocobusi admitted, causing the Roe to nod in approval while the Lalafell scowled. To assuage her temper, he quickly added, “But I can make you one if you’d like—as a thank-you for your help until now. That way you can focus on getting more durable clothing.”

She didn’t keep the skepticism out of her voice. “You? Make one?”

“I’m an Alchemist by trade,” he explained. “In fact, the entire reason I originally came here was to deliver a new grimoire I made for the acting guild mistress. Blue magic was something I happened to stumble upon, but it seems like the one who was selling the soul crystals is gone now.”

“Considering your so-called method of acquiring spells, I imagine he was either run out of town or thrown in a cell by the Yellowjackets. Still, if you say that you can do so, I shan’t refuse your offer to make me a Maple Picatrix then—the best you possibly can, in fact.”

He mulled it over, recalling what would be needed to make one. “I believe I have the necessary crystals in my room at the Mizzenmast Inn to work with, and I spotted a merchant in the East Alley with the lumber and log and yarn I need as well to make it. The biggest issue will be procuring the Enchanted Copper Ink. It requires Copper Sand to properly make, along with Beastkin Blood. If we were in Ul’dah, I could procure it from the Guild Supplier, but I don’t believe I’ve seen it sold here.”

“You’re scant out of luck there,” Faezghim said. “Such products are so narrow in use that most merchants won’t keep it in stock. Suppliers would rather sell to guilds for something like that.”

“I suspected as much…” He brought his hand to his chin in thought until something came to mind. “Oh! But I could extract it from the Weathered Grimoire you had through desynthesis, if you’d be willing to part with it.”

She tilted her head at that. “De…synthesis?”

“Ah, I suppose it isn’t common knowledge unless you’re a Disciple of the Hand. Basically, it’s a technique created by a well-renown Goblin with his own workshop in Thanalan. It allows us to break down things into the parts that make them up and sometimes the crystalized spiritbond energies of the crafter if they were really talented will manifest. Those are pretty rare though.”

The Arcanist just stared at him in silence as he finished, at a loss for words.

Faezghim sighed. “In short, he takes your old grimoire and breaks it down to get you the ink needed to make your new grimoire.”

“I-I understood that,” she claimed. “Still, is this ink really that important?”

Cocobusi nodded. “Yes, the ink acts as a really good conduit for aether. Not the best, but it does make it easier for those who are getting a feel for the flow of their magicks. Because of that, it’s actually integrated into the construction of the entire grimoire through when we use crystals to work the materials. So if I desynthesize your old grimoire, I can obtain enough ink to make your new one.”

She seemed almost hesitant, contemplating the offer silently for a moment. But she ultimately consented with a nod. “You aren’t the type to lie from what I’ve seen so far. And you have been somewhat helpful since we have worked together, so I am willing to entrust that you know what you are doing so long as I may watch.”

“That’s fine, though it won’t be very interesting,” he said. “Just let me take my clothes to the Dyemonger and then I will go purchase necessary materials. After that I’ll take the lift back up to the Drowning Wench.”

“It’d be faster to take the Aethernet Shard network given the amount of people,” the Arcanist pointed out. The foot traffic made it fairly easy for the smaller folk to have trouble getting around in the middle of the day.

“I haven’t attuned to any of them,” he said.

This time she sighed. “Even if you weren’t planning to stay long, its common practice for Adventurers to attune to every single one they can find. Next you’ll tell me you haven’t even attuned to the main Aetheryte.”

He looked away at that.

“Oh, for Twelve’s sake. You really are new at this, aren’t you?” She huffed before grabbing him by the wrist and pulling him along towards the Octant. “Going out into the field without attuning to the local Aetheryte is practically suicide.”

“It’s not that I don’t know that. It’s just that I don’t have the anima capacity to attune to them!”

“If you lacked the ability to attune then you wouldn’t have been able to cast those spells of yours,” the Arcanist replied, pulling the neophyte Blue Mage as close to the hovering crystal as possible before sticking his hand out. “Now, focus on the crystal. Feel the energy coming off it and then feel yourself becoming one with it.”

He was hesitant to do so. But the entire reason for him testing Blue Magic was to see if it could improve his anima capacity to an extent. The surest way to see if it was working would be if he was finally able to attune to one of the Aetherytes.

Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes and focused on the crystal in front of him. There was a sensation in the air that seemed to pulse surrounding the crystal. Like a heartbeat. He reached out to it, matching his breath to the beat until he felt his body begin to thrum to it. The sensation grew faster and deeper until it felt almost like he was a part of it, hovering above a fast-moving current that surged just beneath the surface.

If he wanted to, he could just fall into it and… vanish

His eyes snapped open before he followed that train of thought. Looking down at his outstretched hand, he said, “I think I felt a pull just now.”

“Then it was a success,” the Arcanist noted. “Aetherytes act as a beacon for traversing the Lifestream—”

“I did it!” He jumped up for joy and then embraced her. “I can finally attune to Aethertyes!”

Flustered, the Arcanist stumbled across her words until she finally demanded, “L-Let go of me already!”

Belatedly realizing he was invading her personal space, Cocobusi did so in a hurry. “Oh, I-I’m sorry. I was just so excited.”

She huffed. “As I was saying, consider this a sort of a lighthouse on the aetherial current of the Lifestream since your body’s aether now resonates with its frequency. If you have the fortitude to withstand such travel in the future, you’ll be able to focus on the frequency of it and your body will naturally be drawn to it from the great flow. In other words, Teleportation will become available to you.”

“That’ll be amazing,” he said, picturing himself blinking from one city-state to another in only a few moments. “I could travel all over Eorzea like that, couldn’t I?”

“Before getting any funny ideals in your head, I’d suggest getting a feel for how taxing it is before you try to go too far and end up taking a permanent swim in the Lifestream,” she warned him. “Regardless, let us hurry and get the materials you need. I expect that grimoire to be the absolute best I have laid my eyes on as compensation for having to explain all of this.”

“Sure thing,” he told her with a blooming smile on his face. “I’ll make you the best Maple Picatrix possible.”

True to his words, once he left his new garments to the Dyemonger to be painted a proper shade of blue and bought the materials, he took her back to his room where he had his tools. Even while traveling a Disciple of the Hand would carry the tools they needed, no different than an Adventurer would carry their weapons or foci. While minimal, the ability to manipulate aether allowed the usage of what would be considered techniques that could be used in the process of crafting.

“I can see you really did put in a lot of practice with this,” he said while turning her Weathered Grimoire in his grasp., before nodding to himself and then proceeding to hold it with both hands as he began threading his own aether through it. “The spiritbond you have with it is perfect.”

“What do you mean?” she asked from her perch in the chair that was in his room.

“Basically, you’ve used it so much that part of your own spirit has flowed into it,” he explained as he began to tug on that bond. Aether was the source of many mysteries, including the crystallization of experience. By gathering up that residual bond and forcing his own aether to compact it, it began to take on a solid shape until there was a bright flash. “Done!”

It was a blue sphere that was a bit rough around the edges, somewhat unrefined but it still had a radiance within it. He turned it over in his palms before brushing it against his sleeve and then handing it to her. “Here you go.”

“This is… a Materia, isn’t it?” she asked. “Some of the more accomplished Arcanist have them in their grimoire.”

He nodded. “Most people don’t know it, but Materia are essentially the crystalized essence of certain attributes found in the bond between oneself and their equipment. In other words, it’s proof that you’ve been trying hard with perfecting your craft and were attached to that grimoire. Since I have to destroy it to make you a new one, I figured I should at least crystalize that bond so that you’ll have something to remember it by.”

The Arcanist slowly reached out for it before taking it into her grasp. Her dark eyes softened as she looked down to it and she found herself perplexed before looking back up to the Alchemist as he prepared an empty bottle to gather the ink before he began the desynthesis process. Taking a deep breath, she asked a single question:

“Why are you being so nice to me?”

“Hm?” He looked up at that and tilted his head. “What do you mean?”

“I am aware of how I come across to other people and how demanding I can be,” she explained. “And I know I have trouble controlling my Carbuncle, and that has endangered us both. Yet, you have done nothing but assist me since we’ve been acquainted. Why is it?”

“Oh… that’s because I understand you’re trying your hardest,” he said. “I get that it can be frustrating when you start with something and seem to hit a wall. It was the same for me when I started out as an Alchemist. During times like that you need someone to offer you a helping hand, so I did.”

It was the same when he started out. His brothers supported him even though he couldn’t join them in thaumaturgy because of his deficiency. Even though his reasoning was to find a way to increase his aptitude through the alchemy, he still wouldn’t have made it that far without help.

“And besides, it’s not like you didn’t help me,” he continued. “I probably wouldn’t have been able to learn as much as I had if not for you helping me. So just consider this all my gratitude for everything before I return to Ul’dah and proof that I believe eventually you’ll be able to master your Carbuncle.”

That said, he proceeded to continue with the process. She watched as the Weathered Grimoire that she had been given starting out as an Arcanist disappeared, broken down while leaving behind only the ink. Then she lost track of time as he took the materials and shaped them using the crystals, fusing them together through synthesis until the new Maple Picatrix was done. “Finished!”

Her pink hair shifted as she handled it with stunned silence upon brushing her fingers against the surface. Sending her aether through it was smooth and fluid, leaving her to acknowledge it was probably one of the highest quality grimoire she’d handled in her life. “I… can’t accept this without giving you something else in return.”

“Why?” he asked.

“Because it wouldn’t be right,” she insisted, tapping her head in thought as she tried to decide on what she could do for him. “Uh… oh, you don’t have a formal mentor when it comes to your magical studies, correct?”

“I suppose not,” Cocobusi said. “The spellbook gives me the basic understanding and method of acquiring the spells, and the soul crystal does most of the work.”

“Then, at the very least, I can share with you a standardized technique passed along to students of offensive magic,” she said. “It isn’t something that would require arcanima learning, but a relatively simple technique to use aether to hamper one’s ability to focus their spells and weaken their concentration—to Addle them, effectively.”

“I think I’ve heard my brothers mention something like that,” Cocobusi said. “I didn’t think that it’d be one of the standardized techniques, but if you’re willing to teach me I’d be happy to learn it.”

“Then let’s begin since you don’t have much time before you depart.” She hopped out of her chair and offered him her hand. “Also, I don’t believe we’ve been formally introduced to one another in spite of working together so often. I am Litata Lita.”

“That’s a nice name,” he said, extending his own hand. “I’m Cocobusi. Cocobusi Lolobusi.”

The two shook hands before her lecture began…

 

Fanfic Recommendation 91


Fanfics that I have found interesting and have recently been updated



A Rising of the Shield Hero Fanfic

Summary: Naofumi Iwatani was summoned to Melromarc as the Shield Hero. Everything looked great… until he overheard Itsuki and Motoyasu talking about parties sharing experience from kills. He then finds out some stuff from his help guide that Malty hadn’t told him about. In going to Malty to ask his questions, he eavesdrops on her conversation with a nun from the Church of the Three Heroes and learns more than what he wanted to hear. Not wanting to stay and wait to be arrested and tried unfairly, he runs away from the Capital. Now a criminal on the run, Naofumi has to do his best to avoid the Church and the King outside the waves. And find someone who, slave crest or not, will help him to overcome his own trials and pains past and present, and restore that which he thought he lost long ago. Hope.


Intrepid: 21-01 Sophia –  21-03 Emma
A Worm Fanfiction
Summary: In the wake of the Locker Incident, Taylor goes comatose. Wracked with guilt, Emma and Madison trigger. Things spiral from there as they quickly go different routes, both seeking redemption in a different way


Symbiotic 20 – 22 

A Pokemon Fanfiction

Summary: In a different life Ash looks on his world from an unique perspective.


A Pokemon Fanfic

Summary: Time travel, based on the Anime. So, the world ended. That’s bad news. Who best to get to fix it? Well, there is this guy with a track record in world saving… Not entirely serious. T rating may be overdoing it.


A Future Tied by Fates 45

A Fire Emblem Awakening x Fire Emblem Fates Crossover Fanfiction
Summary: The war is over, Nohr has won, and Corrin, ridden by guilt and grieving the loss of Azura, is a broken man. Yet the threat of the Invisible Dragon remains and now he moves against the weakened kingdoms. When a mysterious tactician and a princess appear, can Corrin rise past his grief and work with them to save both their worlds? Continues story of “A Future Broken”


In Time’s Flow 12

A Fire Emblem Three Houses Fanfiction
Summary: Sothis made a mistake, for mortal hands could not wield the powers of a Goddess. Byleth stands alone, stagnant against the inexorable march of time, doomed to fail again and again.


Shattered Reflection 26

A Fire Emblem Awakening Fanfiction
Summary: In one world, Robin died abandoned by those she thought friends, with the sword of her lover driven into her chest. In another world, a young man with no memories of his past was trusted to guide Ylisse in war. Given a new chance, the broken queen will make sure this young tactician survived, no matter the cost.