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After The Vacation Ends: Jessie Maye

Summary: Jessie Maye was going through a rough time. Her career was over. Her mistakes were taking their tolls. And her daughter wanted nothing to do with her. She wasn’t sure she could find happiness, but one man felt she deserved it more than anyone else.


Fanfics that I have found interesting and have recently been updated



The Beast of Beacon 27 – 28

A RWBY Fanfiction

Summary: Blake had fled, making it clear she couldn’t trust him to change. She thought him inhuman, lost, a beast. He was going to prove her wrong. Getting into Beacon was hard enough, but fitting in would be harder still. All those… humans. Will a man fuelled by hate truly be able to let go and move on; or is suffering the only thing Adam Taurus can ever bring to those around him?


A Rabbit Among Wolves 34 – 35 

A RWBY Fanfiction

Summary: Jaune wanted nothing more than to become a hero – and in a way he got his wish. One man’s criminal is another’s hero and the faunus of Remnant need a champion. Who better to take the mantle of leader of the White Fang? Not a faunus? Not a terrorist? No aura, training or leadership skills to speak of? Minor details. All hail supreme leader Jaune Arc. Long live the resistance!


Dauntless 102

A Pokemon Fanfiction

Summary:  Lelouch had been quite happy with his life. Sure they were living in obscurity, but he and Nunnally were safe. All of that changes however, when his identity is revealed and Lelouch is forced back into the fold of the Imperial family.



After The Vacation Ends: Jessie Maye [Huniepop One-Shot]

Summary: Jessie Maye was going through a rough time. Her career was over. Her mistakes were taking their tolls. And her daughter wanted nothing to do with her. She wasn’t sure she could find happiness, but one man felt she deserved it more than anyone else.


Jessie Maye stirred awake the moment she felt something trailing along her cheek. A soft, warm touch carrying a gentle pleasantry that spread throughout her head and nibbled at her mind. It coaxed a soft moan from her throat as she opened her heavy eyelids and peered up towards the source of her delight.

It was a young man, roughly a decade and a half younger than her if she had to guess. It wasn’t like she had asked his age, but she had always assumed he was about the same age as her daughter. He was a head taller than her, well-built, and just seemed to have a charm about him that she had missed.

Over the last two years, he had changed for the better. The first time she’d let him take her to bed, he had been charming in a cute way that gave the impression he hadn’t had much experience with women. Of course, learning he managed to bang her friends on their Friday Night bar crawl left some room to the imagination that he had more than that going on.

But now there was confidence just smoldering beneath the surface in everything he did.

“The plane’s landed. Time to disembark.”

“Is it now?” She pulled her head off his shoulder, a task she found far more herculean than she would ever admit before turning her gaze to the window where the slowly fading sun was casting its final rays over the airport. “I can’t believe I slept nearly the entire flight. Some company I turned out to be.”

A soft chuckle pulled her attention towards him once more. She saw his lips were curled into a slight grin even as he stared into her gaze with his stalwart, silver eyes. “To be fair, we did stay up pretty late the night before.”

“Well, you’re not wrong.” It was true that the two of them had a very late evening with Lola before the end of their vacation. But she also knew that wasn’t the only reason.

She had been sleeping later than usual or waking up tired at times. Some days she struggled just to get out of bed, unable to find the motivation. It was a far cry from when she felt ten years younger just two years ago.

Honestly, Lola wasn’t wrong when she said that she needed a vacation to get away from everything that was weighing her down before. She had felt more alive in the last few days than she had in a long time. She was sure that ninety-percent of that was due to him, and it might have been the reason why she’d taken him up on his offer when he invited her back to his place rather than heading back straight to Glenberry.

Seeing him again had been a blessing. But she was sure it was just a fleeting one, a brief break in the dark clouds that would be swallowed in a moment. All the same, if she clung to him then there was a chance he’d lose interest in her or see her as being too needy. She wasn’t fond of the idea of becoming that sort of woman either.

Jessie was pulled from thinking too deeply on the topic when she felt his hand settling on top of hers on the armrest between them. His touch was warm, accompanied by a slight tingle that seemed to sink beneath her skin. It was a pleasant enough feeling that it coaxed her lips into a smile and pushed back the dark thoughts as they disembarked the plane, retrieved their luggage, and caught a ride back to his place.

It was… a far cry from his old place in Glenberry. Sure, she hadn’t paid much attention given that night was a haze of sex and booze. But it was the kind of place you would expect for a young man living on his own.

Now he lived in a loft complex that was on the verge of luxury. It had a modern aesthetic to it with polished hardwood floors that ran from wall-to-wall, a kitchen island that was made of marble, adorned with stainless steel, and had an overhead rack for champagne, martini, and wine glasses.

“You’ve really moved up in the world, haven’t you?”

He smiled as he set his jacket on a rack by the door. “Yeah, the complex has just about everything. A Gym. An indoor pool. And then there’s the view from the balcony.”

“Not bad at all.” It sounded like a great place to live. She had to wonder what job he had to afford staying in a place like this, but she didn’t want to press the matter. “Mind if I have a smoke while I take in the view?”

“Go ahead.” He gestured over to the balcony door. It was a sliding glass one, right by the windows that faced the eastern side. “On the way over I ordered dinner from a decent restaurant, along with Mint Ice Cream and a Red Velvet Cake for dessert. It should be here in less than 10 minutes.”

Her favorite dessert. Jessie genuinely smiled as she walked past him, a sway in her hip. “You’re too good to me, baby. I’ll have to take especially good care of you tonight.”

Sashaying her way to the balcony door, she opened it up and felt the evening breeze on her skin. The sun was already behind the distant skyscrapers and the cloak of night was steadily draping the sky. Soon it would be an ebony blanket strewn with countless stars that glimmered like diamonds in the moonlight.

The flick of a lighter. A string of smoke wafting into the air. Then the familiar sensation of relief slowly spreading over her body as she took it into her lungs and let out a ring of smoke that slowly faded into the backdrop of the cityscape.

For a moment, Jessie just basked in the glow of things. She found comfort in the fact that she was here now, in a nice place with a decent guy. It was just like the island, an extension of the vacation only closer to home…

“Cough! Cough! Cough!”

But then reality reared its ugly head as she found herself coughing violently. Every breath clawed at her from the inside out, a scraping sensation running along the back of her lungs. It left her with one hand pressed against her chest while the other still held fast to the cigarette until it passed and left her panting for moments afterward.

“Damn it all…” She huffed before turning back to the window to look on the inside. She was relieved when she saw he wasn’t there. Maybe had gone to the bathroom or their food had arrived. “Why the hell did this have to happen now?”

Twenty-years.

Jessie had spent twenty years smoking without a problem. Through the good times and the bad times, a cigarette always brought her some measure of relief and comfort. Only when she was at her lowest did she learn the hard way that she emphysema after her coughing had gotten bad enough that her agent practically shoved her into a doctor’s office or else he wouldn’t get her another gig.

Now she didn’t have her work anymore. There had been too many shoots when they would have to stop so that she could catch her breath. The industry wasn’t so kind that they would accommodate her. Especially when she was steadily moving towards a demographic that was less profitable than before.

In the end, the agent had made it clear the only thing that she could do was quietly go sink into the background. Announce her retirement soon. That way she could leave her fans to remember her as she was, rather than let it get out her age and health were catching up to her.

The hell am I going to do now, she thought bitterly as she took another drag of her cigarette and stared out at the cityscape growing dotted with lights, a heavy weight pressing down on her heart. Getting another job wasn’t going to be easy since she had dropped out of High School. And spent the last twenty years in the industry.

Even if she went back to school that wouldn’t change much, since you had to disclose your background at nearly every possible place to get a job. She was damn sure that not a lot of people would be willing to hire someone who once banged a football team while dressed as a cheerleader. And she wasn’t sure she would find anything she really liked.

The doctor had been optimistic at least. He told her the case was mild enough that if she quit now then she could probably make it another twenty years. Maybe even longer if she ate well and exercised regularly. But Jessie had tried quitting before and it was a nightmare.

She shuddered, recalling the time she had tried to quit back when Tiffany had been in Middle School. That was probably when she first took an interest in medicine and tried to warn her off smoking and drinking. She wanted to make her daughter happy and if quitting was one way of doing it then she had been desperate to try—god knows she had tried.

It was Hell.

She faltered before she could make it a month, settling for trying to keep it a secret from Tiffany instead. But she was a smart girl and it was only a matter of time before she found out. Another nail in the coffin, even before the last one had been driven down and left her daughter wanting nothing to do with her.

Now what did she have left without her career or her daughter?

She still had her looks, but she imagined they wouldn’t last much longer. She had her home, but that was an empty nest. She had her memories, but she was afraid those would fade away as well with enough time.

If she had to walk into Hell again without anything waiting for her on the other side, was trying to go another twenty years like this worth it?

She blew out another string of smoke as the haunting thought lingered, leaving her wishing she had a drink until she heard the balcony door open and turned to see that he had returned from wherever he had been. And there were glasses in his hand, both of which had a lemon twist garnish on the edge. Her brow rose as he extended one towards her. “A Martini?”

“You wanted one, right?”

“It’s like you read my mind.” Her fingers delicately wrapped around the stem of the glass and brought the wide rim to her lips. Cold. Crisp. A hint of greenery gracing her tongue before sliding down her throat, like a stroll through a pine forest in the winter. “Mmhmm… that’s damn good. You made it yourself?”

He shrugged. “I took some correspondence courses on barkeeping in my free time. Figured might come in handy for dates.”

“Well, far be it from me to say otherwise.” She took another sip, basking in the taste before turning back to look towards the city. ”The view here really adds to the atmosphere of it.”

“Yeah, it does…” He took a step out onto the balcony and then rested against the rail, peering towards the same skyline. “But it really looks amazing during the winter, when the snow is coming down.”

Jessie took a moment to close her eyes, letting her mind paint a picture of just how lovely it would be. She could imagine just standing behind the chilled windows, nestled by the warmth of the heater as frost crept from the edges and coated the glass that was just clear enough to see as the silver and white flakes slowly drifted from the gray skies above. They would cover the steel and concrete, leaving it a blanket of white as far as the eyes could see.

It brought a smile to her face as she opened her eyes again. “It sounds beautiful. I’d love to see it for myself one of these days.”

“You could always spend the winter holidays here,” he offered.  “It’d give me a reason to deck the place out for Christmas.”

“Careful now. I might really take you up on the offer.” Her voice and tone were teasing, backed by a slight bump of her hip against his. “You wouldn’t want me to show up when you’ve got some adorable girl here, would you?”

His smile folded in a little at that, becoming just a little dourer. “You wouldn’t have to worry about that. Company tends to be scarce around that time of the year.”

I thought he was a little too young to be making that kind of face, Jessie thought to herself. She recognized that expression on his face. It was just a touch of loneliness, spending the one day of the year where everyone else was with their loved ones alone.

She was well-versed with that same feeling, especially these days. Her girlfriends all had other things going on around then, so the best they would do was drop by. It served as a balm for the loneliness, but that didn’t change the fact that her only constant companions throughout the holiday would be the two in her hands at the moment.

And, in his case, she supposed that casual relationships were just that—casual. Sticking around during the holidays would involve commitment, which would defeat the purpose. Not something most girls who weren’t serious would do if they had a social life.

That look doesn’t suit him at all. She knocked back the rest of her martini and set the glass on the railing before looking to him with an amorous glint in her eyes. “Well, I know Santa doesn’t deliver gifts to naughty boys, so I guess I’ll give you a present to unwrap on Christmas Eve.”

The message carried well enough. His dour smile turned to one more carnal, his mind clearly running through just what that would entail. “And just what kind of present would that be?”

“Maybe I’ll give you a sneak peek if you can convince me?” She ran a finger down his chest, adding to the playful tease. She had already decided to sleep with him on the way back unless he really did something to get under her skin. But you couldn’t blame a girl for trying to get going a little before the main event, could you? “What would you do with your present?”

Sure enough, he played into it by setting down his own drink and approaching her from behind. His chest was firm as she felt it against her back. His hands were careful as he cradled her while hovering just over the sweater dress she was adorned in. His breath was warm against her skin as he breathed close to her ear and whispered sweetly into it.

I’m thinking I would take it slow…” He trailed off into a kiss, planted firmly at the crook of her neck and shoulder as his finger glided up the knit sweater towards the swell of her shapely breasts. “Feeling beneath the wrapping to take in the shape of it as I made my way towards the ribbon.

The touch was soft over the fabric, but it sent electricity rushing throughout her body all the same. Temptation began to bubble up in her blood, a familiar and welcomed sensation to accompany the alcohol on her tongue and the smoke in her lungs. Then he reached the peaks and touched them in a way that left her back arching and a moan on the cusp of slipping out of her mouth…

ZZZZZT! ZZZZT!

…Then he stopped as his phone began to vibrate in his pants, muttering a swear under his breath as he pulled away. He pulled out the phone and then practically glared at the screen. A sigh followed as he gave her an apologetic look. “The food is here. I’ll have to run to the front desk to get it.”

Jessie felt the urge to tell him to forget the food and eat her there and now. But reason won out and she felt the familiar itch in her lungs. Better to send him off before she killed the mood even more. “We’ll pick up after dinner. Don’t keep me waiting too long, okay?”

He couldn’t have flown out the door faster.

Which is just as well, considering the coughing fit that followed. This time it felt like her lungs were trying to escape her throat, leaving her nearly to double over. The cigarette she had been holding onto slipped from her grasp and landed on the balcony ground. Jessie swore under her breath before bending down to reach for it…

Then she stood straight and settled for snuffing it out with her heels. She had enough for now to settle the craving. More would just make things worse and she’d be damned before she traded the real fun tonight for a few more puffs. She kicked the butt off the ledge, grabbed the glasses, and went back inside his loft.

Dinner was great. Dessert was even better. But the real treat came afterwards in the bedroom.

Ooooohh… baby, that was just…what I needed…

A satisfied tinge painted her words between heated breaths as Jessie just laid there, adrift in the postcoital bliss. Her body felt so light that she felt like she was floating. The smoldering embers from the fire he stoked inside of her still lingered beneath her skin, a pleasant warmth that ran from head-to-toe.

He laid there alongside her, taking deep and slow breaths that left his chest to rise and fall while staring up at the ceiling. “You’re amazing, Jessie.”

She giggled at that. “Honey, I was a professional. I’m more impressed that you managed to keep me going for so long compared to the island. I guess sharing you meant you couldn’t give me your full attention.”

Jessie wasn’t exaggerating either. Years ago, he had been a foal getting his legs underneath him. She had practically taken care of everything. Now he was a stallion and had shown how far he had come, which she was very grateful for it.

It had been a while since she went at it for that long without needing to catch her breath. He’d controlled the pace to match her perfectly, drawing it out while not pushing her too far too soon. She had a chance to take it slow and really savor it all. It felt almost like she was making love with someone rather than just banging them for the rush of it…

“I kind of had other things on my mind at the time,” he admitted, taking a deep breath before adjusting his posture on the bed. “…Have you thought about what you’ll do now that you’re not in porn anymore?”

The question put a damper on the elation she was feeling. “Sweetie, I really don’t want to think about that right now.”

“I’m just saying, you could be a coach or an agent or something.”

She sighed before sitting up, her good mood waning. “As interesting as that thought is, it’s typically not professional to fuck your clients even in the industry. I’m not sure I’d be able to stand watching younger girls getting to have all the fun on the set and then have to crank it out on my own.”

“Even if you had someone waiting back home more than willing to help there?”

She turned to him with a raised brow. “Are you offering?”

He leaned forward and looked her in the eyes. “Maybe I am.”

For a moment he sounded completely serious to her. She hadn’t clarified whether she was talking about a steadier relationship or even marriage. But it almost sounded like he would have settled for either and she was almost willing to believe it.

Almost.

But Jessie knew better than to believe him. It wasn’t the first time she had been proposed to after they’d gone a few rounds in the sack. But once the high faded and they were in their right minds, it was clear they never really meant it. She’d tease them about it and just brush it off, not willing to even entertain the thought longer than it took for her next drink.

Besides, she had been burned once before she had gotten into the industry. Promises of a wedding coaxing her to keep spreading her legs, right up until the baby bump began to show. At this point, Misty Katz had become synonymous with Jessie Maye and any man who wanted to marry her would probably want the former rather than the latter—if there was a difference between them to begin with.

But… for a moment… just a moment… she allowed herself to just fantasize about it.

She imagined working in the industry from the other side. Helping nervous girls come out of their shells and learning to embrace their sexuality like with Lailani. Teaching them not to make the same mistakes that she had. Maybe even have them plan an exit strategy, so they wouldn’t end up like her.

Then she’d come home to find him there. A welcoming kiss leading to a quick release to burn all the sexual frustration away. Then they would talk and laugh and cuddle in the bliss of the moment. Maybe she could even end up raising another daughter who would love her. Having a whole family for once.

…It was painful for Jessie to open her eyes again and return to reality after picturing all of that.

All of a sudden, she felt a craving for a cigarette. She reached over to the nightstand next to the bed almost reflexively only to realize that she had left the pack in her pants. A scoff slipped out of her mouth and she moved to slip out of the sheets when he grabbed her wrist.

“I really am serious,” he said before she could pull away. “I’m in love with you, Jessie.”

“… You aren’t thinking straight,” she said slowly as conflicting feelings built up in her chest. He still sounded so serious that it hurt listening to him say that because she knew things couldn’t be that way. “I’ll catch a ride home and we’ll just pretend this never happened.”

“I know it might sound hard to believe considering everything but seeing you again after all these years… made me happy. Wasn’t it the same for you?”

Rather than give him the answer he was looking for, she instead resorted to asking him a simple question for which there was no good answer. “…Were you ever going to tell me that you slept with my daughter a few years back?”

His body tensed next to her for a moment, going rigid entirely. Then he looked away from her, not daring to meet her eyes. “…How long have you known?”

“For a while now,” she admitted. She didn’t know whether or not to be happy that he didn’t try to deny it. “Aiko, Beli, Lola… we get together every Friday and talk about things over drinks, so it was only a matter of time before your name came up. There weren’t any hard feelings since none of us were going for anything other than a casual fling back then. But it’s different for younger girls, you know?”

His expression went from guilty to slowly dawning horror as the dots connected. Then he asked the question that she knew was coming. “Am I the reason you and Tiffany aren’t talking to one another anymore?”

She closed her eyes so that she didn’t have to see the look on his face as she drove the knife in. “It was the last straw.”

It was around Christmas then. She wanted to connect with her daughter, knowing that she was getting ready to graduate and move out into the world beyond the dorms. But Aiko had told her that Tiffany’s grades were slipping, she seemed constantly distracted, and about the time she overheard her getting into an argument with one of her friends over a relationship.

Jessie only wanted to help, and men were her field of expertise in contrast to her daughter. Tiffany had strived to be everything she wasn’t, so it was natural she would struggle to cope with the idea that it had just been something casual or that a guy would have multiple partners. But the moment his name came up…

Her eyes opened to get away from the memory of how heartbroken her daughter had been. “She had struggled so hard to avoid being like me, only to find out that we had been with the same man. To her, it was as though the moment she let her guard down she was destined to make the same mistakes. That was why she severed ties between us for good.”

“…I only thought about getting laid at the time,” he admitted, letting her go. No, he didn’t let her go. His fingers simply lost their strength as he fell backwards until his back ended up against the headboard. “And after I succeeded once, I just…”

“Couldn’t stop?” she finished for him. “The pleasure. The thrill. You became addicted to it and could only think about having more and more of it.”

She understood how it was because her first time had been an awakening of sorts as well. She honestly couldn’t get enough, and it was no wonder she ended up conceiving her daughter. But the fact that the guy in question wanted nothing to do with her afterwards had only reaffirmed that sex didn’t make for a deeper relationship, and she couldn’t trust any partner to stick around when things got too heavy for them.

She had entered porn to pay her bills after giving birth to Tiffany, but she honestly loved her work for what it offered her. Pleasure, attention, all of it. The thought of enrapturing the eyes of men and women alike, all of them within her grasp, was just such a rush that it kept her going until now.

He buried his face into his hands, as good as admitting he was the same. “If I had known this would have happened, I wouldn’t have… You must hate me for that and here I am asking you to….”

She didn’t, surprisingly enough. He couldn’t have known they were family at the time. Even if he had, it had been casual and she had distinctly kept her daughter’s name out of it when they had been together. But she needed an excuse so that she didn’t have to tell him that she had felt happier these last few days than she had in a long time.

The moment she saw him back then on the island she honestly wondered if she should get involved with him again. She had accepted her role in how things went with her daughter and wanted to find a way to escape the pain. He was familiar and had a way of taking her mind off of everything, so she took him up on his offers for going on double dates.

She never really considered falling in love and finding someone to just stay with her as anything more than a dream. But as the nights went on, she felt she could overlook her pain and began to think that he really could be her Prince Charming, here to sweep her off her feet. That was why she was so tempted to give his promise a chance.

At the same time, she was terrified about getting serious with anyone because it would mean being vulnerable. If he broke her heart after she opened up to him, then even that pleasant dream would become just another painful memory. Her heart had betrayed her once already.

Walk away. The little voice in her head whispered, telling her it was safer to cling to just fleeting moments of passion while her body allowed her to.  She should just get dressed and get a ride home, leaving the whole thing behind her so she could continue as she was. He would be nothing more than another man walking out of her life, as he had been years ago.

…Yet, her legs refused to move. Could she really leave things like this? Could she leave him like this, full of regret that he had been the one to push her away? That he had torn away the fragile tether she had with her daughter?

In the end, Jessie couldn’t leave him like this. So she climbed back onto the bed and sat next to him against the headboard, setting a hand on his heated, sweat-slicked shoulder. “…Sweetie, if I hated you then the last few nights would not have happened. But asking me to get serious with you all of a sudden was a bit much. What brought it on?”

He lowered his hands, turning towards her. Even with her bare breasts on display, his gaze remained firmly on her eyes. “I was afraid if I didn’t make it clear I was interested… if I let you away, then it’d just end up like before.”

“Meaning?”

“That we’d eventually just lose contact with one another,” he clarified. “It was two years since the last time we spoke to one another. You didn’t call me even once after that first night.”

Jessie pulled back and crossed her arms. “I could say the same about you, sweetie. Phones work both ways.”

“Yeah, I know,” he said. “It was because you didn’t seem to be the type to want to get into a serious relationship back then. If I had called you, I was afraid I’d come out as desperate and you’d simply have laughed it off or saw me as being too clingy, so I settled for just hoping you’d remember me.”

She probably would have. He wasn’t anything too special back then. She also had her work, so she wouldn’t have gone out of her way to make time for him. If he kept showing up at the bar to hit on her then it really would have come off as desperate.

“…You been with a lot of girls since then,” Jessie mentioned, shifting the topic. “Even on the island. What made me so much different than them that’d you’d try asking me for a serious relationship now?”

“I won’t pretend I haven’t had a lot of sex with a lot of women since the last time we met,” he began. “Yet I was never really able to get that same feeling that I had the first time. No matter how many times I slept around, even with some women like you couldn’t believe, nothing quite matched. There was just something there that only returned when I was with you.”

“That’s just probably because it was your first time,” she reasoned. The experience didn’t really stand out to her, but it was a pleasant memory for him. “It was a big step for you, so you’d naturally have good memories and feelings tied into it.”

“I thought the same at first,” he admitted. “The moment I saw you again back there, it rekindled that feeling. I thought it was just sex, so I was more than eager to go out with you and have threesomes left and right. And each time it was like the first.”

“If that’s all then there’s no reason to—”

He shook his head slowly and set a hand on his chest. “But it didn’t end there. Every date, I found myself just happy to listen to you talk to the point that sex wasn’t even on my mind. When you smiled, it was like butterflies fluttering through my chest and left me floating. When I saw your pain and sorrow, I felt miserable and wanting nothing more than to help. Then there was the night before the last when you…”

As he trailed off, Jessie tried to recall then. To be honest, it felt like her head had been in a haze. She couldn’t quite recall what she had been doing, but it almost felt like she had been sleepwalking.

“I was worried that we wouldn’t see each other again once I left the island,” he continued. “That terrified me because I thought you might disappear from my life again. And since you told me about how much your life had changed….”

“You figured it was the time to act,” she finished for him. Over the course of their last few dates, she had confessed how in the past she wanted someone to sweep her off of her feet. That was probably why he had gained the courage to act now.

He looked away from her. “I only thought that I wanted to be there for you, without any clue that the reason you and Tiffany broke apart was because of me.”

Jessie’s expression softened as her own guilt weighed on her heart. He was the last straw, but her daughter had completely severed ties with her because of how she had lived until now. There was no way to make the past disappear and she could only accept that as she went forward.

But when she was with him on the island, she felt so happy. And when she looked back at all those sarcastic comments he made, like traveling the world looking for her and spending every waking moment thinking about her smile, it seemed like he was trying to drop hints.  He had even admitted to having fallen in love with her, but she had simply thought he was playing around so she had never given it any serious consideration.

“I suppose I can’t blame you then,” she settled on, getting comfortable next to him and laying her head on his broad shoulders. “You even admitted you’d marry the right woman regardless of an age gap right in front of me, and I just said I hoped you’d find her. That must’ve hurt so much.”

“It was what made me decide to do all of this…” He let loose a shuddering breath. “I’m sorry for acting like that without knowing anything. I’ll make things right with your daughter. I promise.”

“Oh baby, that ship has sailed.” It hurt for her to admit that much, but it was true. “Anything we can do to connect to her would just make things worse. All I can do now is have hope that one day she’ll look back and reach out to me.”

“But she was part of your world,” he said softly, reaching up to touch her shoulder. It was a gentle touch, soft as it glided down her arm to her elbow. Comforting. “There has to be something I can do. Just tell me and I’ll do it.”

A slight hum bubbled up in her throat at that as the whisper in her head came back. She swallowed her own fear and reservations so that the words they kept chained down could float to the surface. “…Then could you promise to love me for who I am?

She was a woman who had been with more than a hundred men over her career of twenty years. Her body might have looked good on the outside, but she was already facing an uphill battle on the inside. Not to mention everything she had done was out there in the open, where anyone could find it. Her stint to the island had proven that with that girl having practically worshipped the ground she walked on, and she knew that it would never go away.

“There will always be people who know me as Misty Katz, even if they don’t say it out loud,” she said, giving voice to her fears. “I’ve been with more men than I can count, and I’m not as young as I used to be. Even then, could you really be happy with someone like me when you’ve got your whole future ahead of you?”

Just asking him that much was causing her heart to race. Not out of anticipation, but out of fear that by putting herself out there again she’d end up being betrayed. He may be in love with her now, but who was to say that he wouldn’t get bored with her until he left her behind as well. If that happened again, she would never recover…

“I know all of that, and I’ve never been more in love with you,” he confessed, staring into her eyes. “I love you for who you are, Jessie.”

…Forgive me, Tiffany. Jessie felt her heart quiver in her chest and tears escaped the corner of her eyes, as though everything that was being held back came rushing forward. I don’t know if I deserve anything good in my life for not being the best mother to you, and I don’t think anything will fill in the hole you’ve left behind. But…

“You’d better not break your word,” she warned him. “I swear I’ll never forgive you if you do.”

“I promise,” he murmured, placing his hand beneath her chin and raising it up so they were eye-level with one another. “I’ll love you until the day I die, Jessie Maye.”

She was drawn to his lips, pressing hers against them in a kiss. The fears, the sorrow, the sadness, all of it seemed to just be blown away at that moment. Her heart felt like it had wings and hope flickered within her chest anew. Her Prince Charming was with her here and now, a dream coming true.

But I’m going to try to find happiness with him. Jessie silently finished as she fell into one kiss after another. Whatever the future holds, I want to believe that I can with him in my life.

 

[-His Apartment Months Later-]

 

It really is a beautiful sight. Jessie couldn’t help but think as she watched snow fall from the skies and slowly painted the darkness outside with a veil of white. It wasn’t quite so cold that frost had built up on the edges of the glass, but it was still a breathtaking view that added to the spirit of the holidays.

It had been months since that night. Months since she had decided to entrust her heart to the man who’d stolen it, despite being more than a decade younger than her. And she hadn’t regretted it.

He’d been a bright spot in her life, a beacon of hope. He always seemed to know just what to say to pull her up when she felt down. And, because of that, she found the courage to start moving ahead.

Her career as a pornstar might have been over, but Misty Katz now lived on as a coach for girls just entering the industry. She had been working for twenty years, so she was fairly knowledgeable about the latest trends in the industry along with the needs of the girls. And she had a few connections to pull on if need be.

Of course, since she didn’t have sex practically every day, she needed to workout more to keep her weight down. Beli was helpful there. Her classes were easy enough, helped keep her flexible, and were good for exercise. And she was cutting back on smoking and drinking—stopping outright was still beyond her, but she was getting a better handle on it bit-by-bit.

I hope you’re doing well, Tiffany. Her thoughts turned to her daughter once more. She had sent a letter as a birthday gift to her a while ago thanks to Aiko getting her current address from the college’s record. In the letter, she had poured her heart into it and told her of the changes in her life, from her new career to her new love, and expressed that she wanted Tiffany to be a part of it.

But if she chose not to, Jessie would understand. All she could do was wish her well in her future as a nurse, telling her that she would always love her and reminding her that there was always a place in her heart—no matter how Tiffany felt, they were family.

“Now then, I suppose I should get ready to give him his present when he gets back,” Jessie mused as she turned her attention to a gift that she had gotten from Lola. Her business was taking off, so the two did not see each other as often they would have liked. But she had taken the time out of her busy schedule to make what was probably one of the most seductive outfits she had seen.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

However, before she could get started changing, there was a knock on the door. He did mention that he was having a gift for her delivered that was likely coming while he was out. So she sauntered over to the door and cracked it open…

Only for her world to sudden shake as she came face-to-face with her beloved treasure. “Tiffany…?”

Tiffany looked off to the side, trying not to meet her gaze. She was dressed in a beige coat and checkered scarf still that were still covered in melting snow. Her hair had been woven into two long braids while adorning her head were a pair of earmuffs.

…Hi, Mom.” Her voice was soft, just above a whisper as though she was uncertain about her words for a moment. But then she cleared her throat and held up a gloved hand to show the envelope that was addressed to her. “I got your letter.”

Happiness. Confusion. Elation. So many emotions swirled together in Jessie’s chest that she struggled to put words to what she was feeling at the moment. So she settled for just lunging forward and embracing her in a crushing hug, rocking back and forth while just taking in the fact that her daughter was here now. “Baby, you’re here! How? Why?”

“Mom, let go of me.” There was more than a hint of annoyance in her voice, but Jessie could see that her cheeks were rose-colored as she broke the hug. “Like I said, I got your letter. Since I still had his number, we… talked and he managed to convince me to stop by.”

“He did?” Jessie looked around the corners, but she didn’t spot him.

“He promised to wait outside until I came back,” Tiffany explained. “I’m still not ready to see you two together, you know?”

That’s… to be expected, she thought to herself before sighing. “Baby, I know how it probably looks with me being here. But everything I put in that letter was true.”

“Mom… I…. I tried so many times to get you to change, but nothing I said reached you. You always seemed to either be drinking, smoking, or getting it on with some random guy. It’s not easy to accept having someone like that as a mother.”

“I know, baby,” Jessie said. “I wanted to change, believe me. It was so hard before. It still is now.”

“Yet, he managed to do what I couldn’t,” Tiffany pointed out. “It bothered me until I really sat down to think about it for a few days and understood that I couldn’t accept the flaws you had. I always wanted you to be… the perfect mother, I guess. And, because of that, I didn’t give you as fair of a shake as I probably should have.”

“And now?” Jessie asked, hope in her tone that they could finally connect.

Tiffany only shook her head. “Not yet. To be honest, I’m still not really sure how to process all of this. Kyanna helped me understand how difficult it is for a single mother, but it’s not easy to just forget everything. And while I’ve gotten better about it, that guy is still a sore spot.”

“That’s fair,” Jessie said. “It’d be too much to ask that you let those things go right now. But someday, I’d like for us to really be together again.”

“Someday, maybe,” Tiffany agreed before she pulled a small envelope out of her other pocket. “It’s a card with my new number, address, and email. It’s not much, but—”

“It’s the best gift in the world,” Jessie told her, taking the envelope gingerly. It was light and probably just a gift card from a dollar store, but to her it was the most precious thing in the world. Because it represented the very thing she wanted the most in the world—a chance to connect with her daughter.

“Just don’t go back to how you used to be,” Tiffany said before she spun on her boots and made for the elevator. “Anyway, I better get going before your boyfriend ends up freezing to death out there. Merry Christmas, Mom.”

Jessie watched her go, fighting against the urge to reach out and pull her in. As much as she wanted to spend more time with her, she knew that forcing her to try to stay would only sever the new connection they had reestablished.  Even if it was fragile and possibly fleeting, it was still a chance she wasn’t eager to let go to waste.

That didn’t apply to her boyfriend. The moment he popped back up on the floor, she pounced on him with a kiss that stole his breath. Then she dragged him back inside to give him his Christmas present early.

Her future was finally looking bright.

 


Ending Notes:

This was longer than it had any right to be, but as a side-project it wasn’t bad. Huniepop has surprising depth with some of the characters when you think about it. Even little details like how Jessie’s token preferences changed align with her character development. I only regret that at the end we ultimately did nothing to help her.


Fanfic Recommendation 100


My Fanfics


Busi Goes Blue (or HTBABIE): Spell 5- Faze

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


The Beast of Beacon 23 – 24

A RWBY Fanfiction

Summary: Blake had fled, making it clear she couldn’t trust him to change. She thought him inhuman, lost, a beast. He was going to prove her wrong. Getting into Beacon was hard enough, but fitting in would be harder still. All those… humans. Will a man fuelled by hate truly be able to let go and move on; or is suffering the only thing Adam Taurus can ever bring to those around him?


A Rabbit Among Wolves 31 – 32 

A RWBY Fanfiction

Summary: Jaune wanted nothing more than to become a hero – and in a way he got his wish. One man’s criminal is another’s hero and the faunus of Remnant need a champion. Who better to take the mantle of leader of the White Fang? Not a faunus? Not a terrorist? No aura, training or leadership skills to speak of? Minor details. All hail supreme leader Jaune Arc. Long live the resistance!


With Friends Like These 9

A RWBY Fanfiction

Summary: Sequel to My Own Worst Enemy. On all of Remnant, Atlas—the pinnacle of law and order, and the kingdom he committed an open act of war against—is the place Roman least wants to go. So of course, it’s where Ozpin decides they have to go.

Content Warning for M/M.


Dauntless 99 – 101

A Pokemon Fanfiction

Summary:  Lelouch had been quite happy with his life. Sure they were living in obscurity, but he and Nunnally were safe. All of that changes however, when his identity is revealed and Lelouch is forced back into the fold of the Imperial family.


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 48

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”



Busi Goes Blue (or How to be a Blue Mage in Eorzea) – Spell 5: Faze [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?


Faze

 

 

Many practitioners of our cerulean arts are wont to favor the more destructive spells. However, one must remember that the Whalaqee discovered Blue Magic to survive first and foremost. Because of this, there is inherent compatibility in other techniques that were derived to do the same without wanton destruction left in its wake. One such example would be the technique developed by the Qiqirn: Faze.

The members of this small-statured Spoken race lack the inherent technological prowess of Goblins and the raw strength of others, thus leaving them at the mercies of many predators. To survive they developed a technique that condenses aether into their palms and creates a shockwave that sends it rushing through an area in front of them. The sudden rush of aether causes an imbalance with the aether flowing through the aetheric channels and causes leaves the body and mind stunned for a bit—buying just enough time for them to squirrel away to safety.

Now, while Qiqirn can be found around Eorzea, those who would have it impressed upon their aether are those who would more frequently utilize the technique. That leaves those that would settle into a merchant trade a poor, and possibly unlawful, source of learning. Though, there are roaming bands of lawless Qiqirn known to frequent Thanalan and have a taste for flesh…

 

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

 

“It’s good to be back home!”

The nascent blue mage stretched beneath the bright sun casting its rays over the glory of the city-state as he passed through the Gate of Nald. He was surprised how much he missed the dusty, sun-kissed breeze. Limsa Lominsa might have been neighboring a beautiful sea, but the desert jewel that was Ul’dah was his home.

As he strode up the sett-paved roads and around the bustling streets, Cocobusi came to a stop beneath the lamppost on the left corner and just stared at the structure that laid before him. It was one of the finest, affordable establishments for Adventurers within Ul’dah: The Quicksand.

The towering structure had at its front a babbling fountain spouting crystalline water. Folks of all ilk and races moved about, chatting while clad in arms and armor both foreign and native. To accommodate them and make travel easier there was an Aethernet Shard just outside of the establishment, a Chocobokeep right across from it should they need to travel out of the city, and he knew the Aetheryte Plaza was further to the right.

The nascent blue mage crossed the street once a Chocobo passed him by, climbing up the flight of stairs. He made it to the massive set of double-doors and moved to push one in when it opened of its own accord. What greeted him was the glare of the sun, reflecting off a massive female Roe clad in plate armor as she stepped from the shade of the building and into the Ul’dahn sun.

It left him seeing spots, eyes stinging as the woman stepped around him. He stumbled inwards before the door could close, rubbing his eyes with one hand while he reached out for the wall with his other… only to bump into something relatively softer than stone.

“Watch where you’re walking.”

He quickly recoiled as he forced his eyes open, looking upwards towards the source of the voice. It was a Wildwood Elezan woman dressed in linen robes that felt different than usual. There was a brimmed hat perched atop her head, marked with an unfamiliar emblem, while her eyes peered down at him with her lips pulled back in a frown and her arms were crossed. Judging from the ring bands adorning her hands that were affixed with an Eye of Wind in each of them, and the well-used wand on her back, she was a seasoned Conjurer.

“I’m so sorry,” Cocobusi apologized hastily as he looked to the ground, where he could just make out her shoes that were weathered from travel and trade. “The sun caught my eyes, and I couldn’t see where I was going.”

“…Well, no harm done, I suppose.” She lowered her hands and turned her attention back to the board in front of her. “If you’re looking for Leves, the only ones left are slim pickings. You have to be here earlier to get any of the good ones.”

“Oh no. I’m not registered here yet, so I was going to introduce myself to the head of the Adventurer’s Guild.”

“If that’s the case, then go speak with Mistress Momodi.” She pointed a slender finger over towards the counter, where a red-haired, red-eyed woman in a woolen bilaud was amicably chatting with another person.

Cocobusi thanked her before he made his way over and politely waited for her to finish.

“Thanks for being patient dear,” she told him. “I saw you talkin’ to Elviane just now before she pointed you my way. Is there somethin’ I can help you with?”

“Yes. I’m a native to Ul’dah but, on a trip I just came back from, I registered to be an adventurer in Limsa Lominsa. I wanted to place myself on the registry here as well.”

“Then just sign your name here for me.” She pulled out a pen and a registration form for him to sign. When he did so she quirked her head. “Cocobusi Lolobusi … any relation to the boys who run the Thaumaturge guild?”

He nodded. “Those are my brothers. Oh, but don’t tell them. I don’t want them to know I’ve registered to become an Adventurer yet since I want to surprise them.”

“Well, you’re entitled to your privacy unless they come through certain channels, so I won’t say anythin’ unless they come to me that way. That being said…” Mistress Momodi cast her gaze over his sheet—specifically his Job Class. “I don’t think they’ll fancy you copyin’ that new performer by claiming to be a Blue Mage.”

He tilted his head in confusion. “Umm, I don’t quite understand.”

“Oh, right. You said you just returned from Limsa Lominsa, so you probably don’t know about the new guy that has been making waves over at the Celestium. Calls himself the Great Azuro and participates in somethin’ called the Masked Carnivale. See?”

She pointed to a poster that was set on the pillar next to them, separating the tavern counter from the inn-registry. Sure enough, the image on display was that of a man dressed in a regal blue outfit that was adorned magnificently with a cape that fluttered in the wind. In his hand was a different sort of cane that held a white wolf’s head. Opposite him was a depiction of several monsters that he was poised to face against with his cane in one hand and his other arm out in front of him.

Hmm… I think that might be the one who gave my Job Crystal,” Cocobusi said. He couldn’t be completely sure with the mask covering his face, but the goatee and mustache gave him the impression it was. Plus, who else would be better known as a master of Blue Magic than the one who brought it over. “You say this gentleman is at the Celestium?”

“He’s been puttin’ on shows a lot and they tend to be sold out fairly quickly, but I hear he’s seen around the Steps of Thal afterwards. That’ll probably be the best place to run into him.”

“I’ll head there next then. I owe him my thanks for what he’s done for me.”

“Don’t be in such a rush that you go forgettin’ to attune to the Aetheryte and the rest of the Aethernet Shards,” she reminded him. “That way even if you miss him, you’ll be able to just port over to the Miner’s Guild or Weaver’s Guild and head right out another day.”

It was sound advice. He gave her a courteous bow in gratitude. “Thank you for all your help, Ma’am.”

She returned the gesture with a wave and smile. “Anytime. Take care now.”

Then he made his way out of the Quicksand, stopping at the Aetheryte Plaza first in order to properly attune to it. The beating pulse of it felt different than the one that he felt from Limsa Lominsa. Enough that he could feel the difference deep down inside of him as his aether matched its rhythm until he felt the pull.

Once he finished attuning, he took the path towards the Steps of Thal and ventured out into the plaza leading to the Milvaneth Sacrarium. The temple was still undergoing repairs, so few visited the locale. Yet beneath its fountain there sat the two Mamool Ja talking to the very same figure that he saw on the poster with his shoulders hanging low and slouching.

“—I tell you the stuff’s not easy or cheap to come by,” the man finished whatever he was saying with a sigh before one of the beastmen took notice of the approaching figure and pointed in his direction. His head whipped around and, upon noticing Cocobusi approaching, he quickly straightened his back and turned to face him with a practiced smile. “Afternoon there.”

“Oh good, it is you,” Cocobusi said, elation in his voice. “I was hoping to run into you again, Mister Martyn.”

“Err… Have we met?”

“We met back in Limsa Lominsa a short while ago,” Cocobusi reminded him. “I was one of the people that who you sold a Soul Crystal to.”

“Look, if it’s a refund you’re wanting then I should point out that not being satisfied with your purchase—”

“Why wouldn’t I be satisfied?” interjected the neophyte Blue Mage as he pulled out his Soul Crystal. “Thanks to this I can use magic now when I couldn’t before. I wanted to thank you personally, but you disappeared before I could.”

“Uh… congratulations?” The man paused for a moment with a befuddled expression, as if taking a moment to process that. “So, you actually managed to get a few spells under your belt then?”

Cocobusi nodded. Then he looked back and forth between the beastmen, slightly craning his head. “Wait… weren’t these two the Mamool Ja that tried to attack us before?”

“Oh, uh… these two?” He fumbled over his words for a moment before he cleared his throat. “You see, after that display of my majestic cerulean arts, they decided to repent their ways and entered into my service. But never mind them—why don’t you let me see your Soul Crystal so I can see what it is that you managed to learn?”

He handed over the precious gem that had become a prized treasure to him. “I managed to learn Blood Drain from a Cave Bat in the Blind Iron Mines. After that, I learned Sticky Tongue from Cane Toads and Bomb Toss from some Goblins. And before I left La Noscea I felt the Soul Crystal resonant when a Killer Wespe died, but I haven’t tried using Final Sting yet.”

“Best you don’t go practicing with that last one,” Martyn advised as he did something to the crystal, leaving it alight with aether. “Even at the best of times, that one will put an experienced Whalaqee out of commission for weeks from the strain of it. Still, that’s not half-bad for such a short time.”

“Should Gaheel Ja give Totem to small one then?” asked one of the beastmen.

“A Totem?”

Martyn explained as he handed back the Soul Crystal. “Wooden effigies that have aether from creatures from the New World. They contain spells that you won’t be able to get here under normal circumstances, making them even more unique.”

“Oh, can I get one?”

Hmm…” He rubbed his chin. “We’ve only got a select few of them, but given you’re pretty dedicated I might be convinced you’re worthy enough. You’re an active Adventurer, aren’t you?”

“I only signed up to become one recently,” he admitted. “I’m an Alchemist by normal trade. Part of the Guild here, in fact.”

His brows rose at that. “An Alchemist as well, you say. Well then, I think we might be able to—”

“Nice to see you’re making time for your fans,” a third voice interjected. It drew their eyes towards the eastern entrance of the plaza where Hyuran woman was approaching. “But mind spending a few talking with your boss?”

“Ah, sure thing,” Martyn said, before looking over to the neophyte Blue Mage. “Tell you what, meet me at an eating establishment called The Coffer & Coffin tonight out in Central Thanalan. We’ll talk about getting you a totem there.”

Cocobusi nodded his head enthusiastically at the prospect. “Certainly, I’ll be there!”

That said, he left the master of the cerulean arts to speak with the woman and made his way back throughout the city. He had his evening planned out, but he still needed to attend to the matter of visiting his brothers. It had been so long since he had seen them and there was a lot that he wanted to tell them, like the fact that he could use magic now.

He made his way to the gates of the Arrzaneth Ossuary, the temple that extolled the worship of Thal. Those who traversed the hallowed halls often fell into two groups: those who came to pray that the weight of their wealth in the world beyond would be greater than in the world of the living. Or those who had amassed great amounts of wealth and wanted their funerary rites to be worthy of Thal to tip the scales in their favor.

It was also home to the Thaumaturge’s guild, as their art was born from funerary rites.

No sooner than the doors open did he hear, “Leave these grounds immediately!

The heated demand left him to jump as a Hyur hurriedly fled, nearly kicking the Lalafell if not for him getting out of the way at the last minute. He then turned his gaze inwards to see Yayke Yake, the guild’s receptionist. The woman had a furrowed expression as the man fled from the halls, only for her visage to visibly soften when she spotted Cocobusi approaching.

“Is everything alright, Miss Yake?” he asked in a concerned tone, taking note of how uncharacteristic it was of her. She was soft-spoken for the most part, often with a book in hand.

“I am sorry you had to see that shameful display,” she huffed softly. “Since that performer at the Celestium has been showing off, we’ve had all sorts of new applicants seeking to tutelage in the hopes of emulating him. I’ve had to turn away a number of them while dealing with our sacred and time-honored art being compared to that…gaudy showmanship.”

He figured she was talking about the Great Azuro’s performances. “Why would they come here?”

“Because there is no guild for that mockery of the arcane arts,” she said pointedly. “And if it were my choice, there never would be. Our art were born of tradition and teachings of our ancestors of Belah’dia, with the lessons instilled having been refined over centuries through the Order of Nald’thal. It is not for the sake of entertainment.”

He winced at that, knowing full-well how frustrating that must have been for her. She had been the receptionist here for over fifteen years now, having come into the position before even his brothers had ascended to the title of guildmasters. He could argue that there was no one who valued the practices of their art, the intricacies and dedication to mastery, more than her.

Not only that, but she had a record of turning away applicants that she deemed unworthy. She valued the requirements that had been loosened since the need for more thaumaturgist required trimming back the necessary reading materials. Plus, her brothers seemed to trust her judgment in spite of the previous guildmaster’s failings.

“Do my brothers feel the same way about it?”

“But of course.” She adjusted her monocle. “What self-respecting thaumaturgist would feel otherwise? I disapprove of even selling the Celestium the creatures we conjure up as part of our practice, knowing that they would have to be disposed of either way.”

He felt himself deflate hearing that. He wanted to tell his brothers that he had gained the ability to use magic, but if they perceived the method he used in the same manner that she did then it would probably be sacrilegious to them. There was a chance that they might not only deny him anyway, but confiscate his Soul Crystal and strip away his ability to use magic entirely.

Then again, maybe he could bribe them with enough high-quality Ethers…

The receptionist breathed out softly before continuing at a laxer tone. “I do wish there were more applicants with your dedication. If only fate were not so unfair, you would be amongst our numbers… at any rate, if you are here to try to convince your brothers to allow you to practice, now wouldn’t be the best time. There’s been a bit of a situation as of late aside from that annoyance.”

His lips pursed slightly. “What do you mean?”

“My apologies, but it is a guild matter, so I cannot give you the full details,” she said in an apologetic tone. “However, I will tell them you have returned from your journey and that you appear to be in good health once they are free.”

It was all he could ask, so he gave her a bow of gratitude before heading out. He still needed to pay his guild a visit, attune to the rest of the aethernet shards, and then get ready for his meeting with Martyn at the Coffin and Coffer over in Central Thanalan.

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

“Finally made it,” Cocobusi breathed out a sigh of relief as he finished traversing the desert lands along a well-trodden dirt path that ran along from the Ul’dah to the Black Brush Station still some ways off, its distant Aertheryte luminous even with the fading sun lighting up the horizon in softer hues. “So this is the Coffin & Coffer…”

He had never been to the establishment. It was weathered in some spots from the harsh winds that occasionally blew, built in the shadow of a cliff-face that offered it shelter and shade. It was also far more rustic than what would normally be seen within the town, though he supposed it looked sturdy enough despite being a lot rougher than the usual establishments he stayed at when traveling for work.

He approached the entrance, muted chatter leaking from the walls when a man wearing the uniform of the Brass Blade that stood out front gave him a glance over from behind the visor of his turban. “Wipe yourself off a little, will ya? Don’t want any dirt getting into ale or food and sparking a fight.”

“Oh, my apologies!” he said, hastily wiping the dirt and dust that had gotten on his Hempen Cloak Set. He’d worn his garments with the hood up in order to hide his face while on the way out of town, having decided to keep his new occupation from his brothers for the moment. “Some of the local wildlife seemed to believe that I might be an easy meal, and so I had been forced to defend myself.”

“Better a little dirtier than dead,” the man said with a shrug. Then he quirked his head in the direction of the tavern, a gesture for him to continue inside.

He ventured through the doors, the hinges letting out a gritty groan as though sand had been wedged inside of them from the rough winds. The muted chatter turned into a somewhat louder cacophony of voices that mixed and mingled with a modest but rowdy number of individuals. Their garments and arms suggested they were adventurers, though the tan and accent were distinctly Ul’dahn as they seemed to regale the barkeep with some tale while another looked among the casks of ale that lined the wall further back.

Not far from there were a group of Brass Blades who were seemingly off-duty. Their blades and bucklers were set aside, turbans and visors set in the center of the table while a woman dressed in a brown canvas tunic and red cotton turban took down their orders. When they were done, she stowed it in a pouch attached to the belt and gave the Roegadyn a wink before making her way back towards what was assumed to be the kitchen.

He eventually spotted Martyn at a table by the windows. The man was no longer clad in the more extravagant outfit, but instead a popular doublet and halftrews that Cocobusi believed was from the oasis settlement at Southern Thanalan. The name of it escaped him, but he recalled that one of his co-workers intended to visit the springs there. “I’m sorry if I kept you waiting.”

“I arrived only a short while myself, though I have become something of a regular since coming to Ul’dah,” he said. “Here we have more freedom to speak, after a bit of food.”

As if on cue, the Alehouse Wench appeared at their table with a small tray. It had Flatbread that looked rather plain to go along with the gruel that smelled of spices and fruit, and some boiled eggs. She set the plate down in front of Martyn before turning to Cocobusi. “Haven’t seen you here before. What do you fancy here?”

He brought a hand to his chin in thought. “Hmm… I’ve been eating fish for the last few weeks, so I’ve gotten a bit of a taste for it. Would you have anything like that?”

“If it’s fish you’re after, we do have some Tiger Cod caught fresh from Vesper Bay. We salt it and dry it in the sun, giving it a native taste that goes well when washed down with a Mint Lassi.”

“That sounds nice. I’ll have that, along with some Raisins, if you don’t mind?”

She gave him a nod, turned on her crakows, and made for the kitchen. That was when Martyn opened the dialogue with questions about his experience with being a Blue Mage so far. More feedback than anything, like how he learned the spells, his experience with them, and any sort of complications that arose from it.

Cocobusi was fairly open in his answers as well, which sparked curiosity in the elder Blue Mage about his increased anima capacity. Of course, that became a secondary concern by the time the food arrived from the kitchen and he mentioned the overarching opinion on the cerulean arts from the perspective of the Thaumaturge’s Guild. Namely, the low opinion of them.

“I suppose puttin’ on a show with Blue Magic that might not be doin’ it all the honor it deserves,” Martyn conceded with a soft sigh before setting his spoon down in the empty bowl that had been filled with the Frumenty before. “But Blue Magic has grand cultural significance to the Whalaqee. The New World isn’t exactly easy to live in and their ancestors had to effectively learn to harvest the power of the monsters that hunted them to have a chance to survive. Since then that art had been passed down and refined through generations—no different than their own.”

“I think it’s because some members of the guild already weren’t happy that they had to lower the requirements so that adventurers could learn without fully undergoing the same teachings,” Cocobusi said, rocking his feet back and forth as he finished the last of his Salt Cod. “I know better because it’s helped me, but to them it’s different.”

“I’ve got my reasons for it, so that won’t be changin’ any time soon,” Martyn said, one hand on his chin in thought. “But I suppose I can make it a little clearer folks shouldn’t go botherin’ them at the very least.”

“I’d like to give my brothers a good impression of it as well if I could.” Cocobusi set the knife and fork he was using to eat on the plate. “So, for the time being, would you mind if I studied under you?”

“I’m glad you’re findin’ it useful. And I’m curious about the results when it comes to your anima capacity situation as well. But my performances leave me little time as is. Though, we might can reach an arrangement—”

Before he could finish his proposition, wood shuddered and the hinges screamed as the doors burst opened. The chatter of the crowd stilled as their eyes were drawn to the source, the Brass Blade who had been outside standing watch. He laid eyes on the table with the others and pointed at them, “Roundelph, you and the rest get off your arses! The rats are on the move and Babaroon Halfshell is with ‘em. They’re calling in all the local arms!”

“Thal’s balls, I’m supposed to be off!” the man said, dropping his fork that had a half-eaten Marmot Steak as he rose to his feet along with the other two at his table. They were reclaiming their helmets and weapons, the call to arms too great to ignore apparently.

“Tell that to the Rats!” He then turned towards the rest of the patrons of the bar. “As for the rest of you, the Brass Blade are offering coin to anyone willing to sell their sword and deal with ‘em.”

“I’ll throw in a free meal every day for a week,” Roger added. “Those sodding rats have harassed and plundered travelers, and it’s driving down my business. The sooner we’re rid of those bandits, the better.”

Martyn rubbed his chin in thought while muttering under his breath as the other Adventurers began to make their way out. Then he then rose to his feet. “Come on, lad. We’ll go with ‘em and I’ll show you a lesson first-hand of what Blue Magic can really do.”

Given the urgency, the Brass Blades and the adventurers sprinted in a hurry towards what was presumably the camp that the bandits had set up. By the time that they came to a stop, Cocobusi was struggling for breath and covered in sweat. He wasn’t in bad shape by any means but compared to men and women who had been at this sort of a thing for who knows how long he might as well have been.

The area near the train tracks had been made into a ramshackle camp for the Qiqirn bandits, haphazardly strewn together lodgings serving as their base of operations. Flames from the campfire had begun to spread as the wood gathered to serve as kindling was at some point ignited and scattered, creating patches of light where steel gleamed as it was swung. The battle was raging on in earnest now.

There were maybe twenty Brass Blades engaged in combat with the handful of adventurers from the tavern-inn, each one more skilled with a weapon than the bewhiskered beastmen. The Roegadyn alone took a broad sweep of his sword and managed to cut three of them down before using the shield on his other arm to slam another on his flank in the face. It went flying into a tent that collapsed as its body broke the support within it while he tried to push through their ranks.

But the sheer numbers of the bandits placed them at three-to-one odds, those that had been cut down easily replaced as reinforcements poured from the shadows of the camp. They used their numbers to their advantage, allowing two to distract one of the attackers so that a third could get into their blind-spot and performed a technique he’d read up on his way back to Ul’dah.

“That’s Faze!” Cocobusi said as one of the adventurers who had been punching another Qiqirn in the face was clapped from behind. The shockwave of aether drove an influx into the body, causing symptoms akin to aether sickness and leaving them witless. Given that they were in combat and the aetheric channels were overflowing, they would soon purge themselves of it. But those scant seconds would have been more than enough for the Qiqirn to finish off the pugilist if not for one of their compatriots rushing in to protect them.

“They’re going to be overrun before any reinforcements get here.” Cocobusi could tell that there were just too few of them and too many of the Qiqirn to last very long. “We have to help them.”

“If we run off guns blazin’ then we’ll only make things worse,” Martyn told him. “What we need to do is tip the scales so that the others will be able to bring down the biggest target. Without their leader, the rest will scatter.”

His gaze then spanned the battlefield for a pause before settling on a Qiqirn that was seemingly larger than all the others. Whereas most of the beastmen would be lucky to reach the height of a ten-year old Hyur, this one was notably taller. Even so, he was steadily backing away from the Roegadyn cutting a swathe to get through to him, flanked by the other two they’d seen in the tavern as the ranks of bandits closed in upon them.

“Right then, time to show you what a real Master of Blue Magic looks like,” Martyn said, rolling his shoulders before holding out his hand upright. Azure crystals danced around him, the aether in the surroundings stirring before viridian wove itself anew and took the shape of what looked to be a massive seed pod. He then threw it out towards the cluster of Qiqirn Shellsweepers.

It ruptured, the shell breaking apart with far more fragility than its exterior would have led you to believe. The closest thing he could relate it to was his own Bomb Toss spell, a shell housing the aetherial copy of the explosive compound. However, rather than flames and smoke and smoldering dirt, what emerged was a thick cloud of viridian spores that shrouded the horde to the extent that Cocobusi couldn’t see more than their silhouettes as they collapsed onto the ground.

Some kind of soporific akin to the Sleep spell, Cocobusi theorized as the trio of Brass Blades took stock of the fact that they were no longer barred from their target and promptly rushed the large Qiqirn.  Then he spotted movement in the corner of his eyes, turned his head to see that several of the Qiqirn Shellsweepers were approaching them, and drew his cane. “They’ve spotted us!”

Martyn spun on his heel to face the incoming swarm. Azure crystals danced around him once more, supping upon the aether around them as his eyes began to grow luminous while small, crackling streamers began to lash out from the corner of his eyes. He quickly brought his hands to his face and removed the spectacles he wore before leaning forward…

And then a blinding, deep-purple glare illuminated the night around them as a singular crackling beam surged forward like a levinbolt.

A dense concentration of lighting-aspected aether, the rational part of his mind deduced based on both the coloration and the fact that the air immediately around the beam as it cut forward was ionized to the point where purple electric arcs filled the space. Thus, it electrocuted even the Qiqirn who weren’t directly hit by it, leaving their small bodies spasming in place from the electricity worming its way into their muscles.

The neophyte blue mage followed up. His mind shifted to that of the Goblins and crystals danced as the spell took form in his hand, an explosive mimicry of goblin engineering. He chucked the bomb as hard as he could into the paralyzed group, helpless and unable to escape as their muscles seized up.

BOOM!

Cocobusi took a deep breath as scorched black earth rained down. His nose itched as acrid smoke rose into the air, mingling with the tangy scent of ozone. But in the pocket where he kept his Soul Crystal, he felt the telltale quiver of a new spell acquisition.

BABAROON HAS FALLEN!!” a voice shouted across the dark, drawing their gazes towards the Brass Blades.

The Roegadyn from before stood with his bloodstained sword raised, the Qiqirn bandit leader fallen in a pool of its own lifeblood. The remainder of the bandits scattered without any semblance of resistance or direction, now lacking a leader to hold the Rat’s Nest together. The rest of the Brass Blades let loose cheers as they allowed them to run off in whatever way they could to get away.

“And just like that, the matter’s resolved,” Marytn noted, replacing his glasses on the bridge of his nose. “There’s the real key to what makes Blue Magic so special. It’s versatile enough that the right spell can change the tide of a battle before the enemy knows what’s hit them.”

“I’d like to show that to my brothers as well someday,” Cocobusi said in agreement, before shifting back to their original topic. “You mentioned before you wanted to come to an arrangement of some sorts?”

Martyn nodded. “I’ve got my hands tied here in Ul’dah., so I need someone who can do favors for me here and there. You’re a solid fit for the bill and you’ll get a chance to get some new spells along the way. Not a bad deal, I’d say.”

“Mmm… it seems simple enough,” Cocobusi said. “Very well. We have a deal, Mister Martyn.”

The two shook hands.

 

 

 


Fanfic Recommendation 99


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The Beast of Beacon 23 – 24

A RWBY Fanfiction

Summary: Blake had fled, making it clear she couldn’t trust him to change. She thought him inhuman, lost, a beast. He was going to prove her wrong. Getting into Beacon was hard enough, but fitting in would be harder still. All those… humans. Will a man fuelled by hate truly be able to let go and move on; or is suffering the only thing Adam Taurus can ever bring to those around him?


A Rabbit Among Wolves 29 – 30 

A RWBY Fanfiction

Summary: Jaune wanted nothing more than to become a hero – and in a way he got his wish. One man’s criminal is another’s hero and the faunus of Remnant need a champion. Who better to take the mantle of leader of the White Fang? Not a faunus? Not a terrorist? No aura, training or leadership skills to speak of? Minor details. All hail supreme leader Jaune Arc. Long live the resistance!


With Friends Like These 8

A RWBY Fanfiction

Summary: Sequel to My Own Worst Enemy. On all of Remnant, Atlas—the pinnacle of law and order, and the kingdom he committed an open act of war against—is the place Roman least wants to go. So of course, it’s where Ozpin decides they have to go.

Content Warning for M/M.


Fanfic Recommendation 98


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Calling Card 23

Summary: Shinji Matou had been looking to redeem himself after the Holy Grail War, but wasn’t certain how to. Then he learned about a crimson calling card labeled Psyren. Saving the future would be a good starting point.


Fanfics that I have found interesting and have recently been updated



The Beast of Beacon 21 – 22

A RWBY Fanfiction

Summary: Blake had fled, making it clear she couldn’t trust him to change. She thought him inhuman, lost, a beast. He was going to prove her wrong. Getting into Beacon was hard enough, but fitting in would be harder still. All those… humans. Will a man fuelled by hate truly be able to let go and move on; or is suffering the only thing Adam Taurus can ever bring to those around him?


A Rabbit Among Wolves 27 – 28 

A RWBY Fanfiction

Summary: Jaune wanted nothing more than to become a hero – and in a way he got his wish. One man’s criminal is another’s hero and the faunus of Remnant need a champion. Who better to take the mantle of leader of the White Fang? Not a faunus? Not a terrorist? No aura, training or leadership skills to speak of? Minor details. All hail supreme leader Jaune Arc. Long live the resistance!


With Friends Like These 6 – 7

A RWBY Fanfiction

Summary: Sequel to My Own Worst Enemy. On all of Remnant, Atlas—the pinnacle of law and order, and the kingdom he committed an open act of war against—is the place Roman least wants to go. So of course, it’s where Ozpin decides they have to go.

Content Warning for M/M.



Calling Card (Psyren x FSN -Nasuverse): Arc 5 – Chapter 23

Chapter 23

Silence looms within the room at the Temple.

The call came in. The message clear. It’s time to play Nemesis Q’s game again.

Too soon. That thought lingers at the forefront of my mind. It feels too soon since the last time. There hasn’t been enough time to train. Then again, I suppose there’s never enough time when you’re being coerced into fighting for your life—no matter how much you prepare for it.

I look over to see Ayako leaning against a wall with her ridiculous polearm next to her. She seems like the perfect picture of calm just standing there with her arms crossed and eyes closed. But, even without reading her mind, I can tell she’s deep in thought about how to make the best out of this situation now that she has to look after another three people.

Meanwhile, Gotou is pacing back and forth while absentmindedly rolling those oversized knuckledusters in his hands. Ayako said that he can work out his issues with killing the homunculi on his own. But I have doubts he’s made any significant progress on that front.

If he hesitates at the wrong moment it might bite us in the ass…

“Maybe these?” Makidera muses as she plucks yet another weapon from the cabin—a pair of metal tonfa this time.

She wraps her hands around the handles and then moves them around to get a feel for them. The long ends were just past the length of her elbows. The short ends stick out past her knuckles by the length of her longest fingers. They should be simple enough to use that she won’t need to fry her neurons thinking when she has whatever is waiting for us in that ashen wasteland trying to rip out her throat.

In contrast to her, Himuro went with a more complex choice by choosing a sickle and chain. I can’t pretend that I knew what was going through her mind when she picked it out, but I don’t think she intends to make much use of it. Since that discussion a few days ago she’s been focusing on refining her Burst more than anything, isolating herself from both her friends in the process from what Saegusa mentioned to me in private.

Speaking of the mousy one, she finally appears when the Student President pops into the room using his Teleportation Marker. Unlike the others, she insisted that she had to go home first and changed out of her school uniform for something akin to winter wear. Casual but practical at a glance, with lots of pockets.

“Sorry I’m late,” she says apologetically. “I know it was asking a lot, but—”

Makidera quickly brushes off her apology before she can even finish. “It’s not a big deal. You had a lot to do, right?”

“I just had to check my brothers, make sure they knew what would be for dinner, tell them not act too naughty while I was out, and a few other things…” She finishes counting off on her fingers with a deep breath and nods. “But now I’m ready.”

…No one really buys it. Not when none of us are ready to go die in some distant future. Fighting for a cause none of us signed up for willingly. All of us can see she’s just putting on a brave face, but none of us can call her out on it when she still came knowing that there’s a very real chance she won’t be coming back.

That none of us will be coming back alive.

“Don’t worry about anything!” Makidera says boisterously while giving her a pat on the back, showing off the tonfa in her hand. “We’ll keep you safe.”

That was the wrong thing to say. It might have been meant to be reassuring, but she was more terrified of them dying for that very reason given their last trip. Not that the loud one has any way of knowing that as Saegusa puts on a nervous smile before staring down at the ground.

I float a thought her way before she dwells on it too much. ‘You didn’t tip your family off too much, right?

Her gaze turns to me. ‘I… um… just told them I might be a little late. And that my brothers should be good for our parents. And that…

And…?

She bites down on her lower lip and looks at me somewhat guiltily.  ‘And that if anything happened to me… I wanted them to know I love them.

Another mistake. The reason we pretend to have normal lives is to avoid anyone getting suspicious about these little excursions. So that they don’t end up getting sucked in like how I did with Ayako’s situation.

But she just can’t separate herself from her family. Not without at least letting them know how much she cared. Even if she can’t tell them why to avoid wrapping them up in this, it’s just not in her nature to not do that.

Oh well. Damage done. Another matter for another day. ‘You can pass it off as just wanting to reaffirm things after the hospital visit, so it isn’t a big deal. Just remember to apologize for worrying them later, okay?

She lets out a small breath in relief and gives a slight nod. Then she makes her way over to me, leaning against the wall next to me. ‘Umm… what did you tell your sister?

I didn’t tell her a thing,’ I confess unashamedly. ‘I don’t have any intention of dying, and if I came out of nowhere and said something like that Sakura would undoubtedly start worrying that something was up. No sense in winding her up about nothing.

And, even if by some chance something does happen to me… well, the paperwork for her to get everything has been in place well before now considering my condition. She’ll never have to work a day in her life, so Sakura will be just fine financially speaking. Emotionally…

I push the image out of my mind.

Meanwhile, Saegusa looks down to the ground. ‘Oh… I see… I wish I could be so sure like that. Even Maki-chan and Kane-chan are so calm, but I’m still so nervous that my stomach feels like it’s turning in knots.’

Again, not a surprise. But rather than trying to calm her down with empty platitudes, I decide to take a more practical approach. ‘Make a Mind Jack.

My sudden request catches her off-guard. But after a moment she closes her eyes and weaves a Mind Jack into existence. It flows from the base of her skull and connects our minds. ‘How’s this?

It’s well-made,’ I tell her truthfully. While the shell feels thinner than my constructs, so the amount of information that can flow through it might be bottlenecked, it feels smooth. And she constructed it rather quickly.

Despite my praise, she meekly brushes her fingers against her arms and keeps her eyes on the ground. ‘It’s nothing special. I know that Mitsuzuri-san and Kane-chan can make them as well—

I place my hands on her shoulders before she goes on. ‘Saegusa. Look at me.

Her head shoots up and her soft, brown eyes meet my own.

It wasn’t that long ago that you couldn’t even do basic Telepathy. The fact that you can do the same thing as someone as experienced as Mitsuzuri and as competent as Himuro means that you’re just as capable as I thought you were.

But… that’s only because you spent so much time helping me…

True, I might have spent more time grooming her to be a capable Trance-user so she doesn’t get herself killed. But she legitimately did put in the work to get this far despite having obligations to her family, and never once complained. Yeah, she needed the talent to get this far. But she worked to make something of that talent.

I let the sincerity of that paint my thoughts as I continue. ‘Even so, you’ve never disappointed me. That’s why, while I expect you to be terrified and make mistakes, I know you’ll do the best you can and make up for it. So, stop underselling yourself already.

Matou…kun…’ She only catches her slip up after the fact and it leaves a crimson blush that paints her cheeks.

I only give her a small smile before gesturing my head over to the weapons cabinet.  ‘Now let’s get you armed for the trip.

She nods meekly and mutely, following me to take stock of the arsenal. She isn’t suited towards strengthening her body for combat, so heavy weapons are out. She has no practice with anything that requires dexterity or skill, so a staff is out of the question as well. And I don’t trust her not to hit someone in close-range combat if we gave her a long-range weapon either, so we might as well go with the practical choice then. ‘Take this.

Her slender fingers curl around the Tanto within its sheath. It’s the same one I used before, so I know it can get the job done. Ideally, she won’t need to use it. But if she does need it then she’ll have it.

She looks it over for a moment. ‘Won’t you need it?

I’ve got my own packed away, plus I bought a couple of weighted chains and some metal stakes used for camping to serve as ranged weapons. The chains can be used to bind the mouths of any of those damn hounds to keep them from screaming at us. As for the stakes, I can program them to seek out and strike the cores or brains of the Taboo, so it’ll be more efficient to support everyone.’

She winces, probably imagining what the latter would look like. The casual way I mention impaling spikes into the brains of the homunculi probably doesn’t help either. The rest of the preparations are understandably done in solemn silence.

Then we jump back into the future.

[-Break-]

The steel-grey sky welcomes us for the third time with a lonely whisper in the breeze. The chill riding it digs past my flesh and muscle to caress the bones. It’s enough to stiffen my spine as the tang of metal on the wind lines my tongue on its way down my throat.

“Is… it always like this?” asks Saegusa as her small body shifts around uncomfortably in the wind. It’s not the sheer cold she’s talking about. It’s the thrumming going on inside of her from feeling her powers grow stronger.

“Even with forewarning, it’s still an unpleasant thing to experience,” Himuro notes while adjusting her glasses with one hand. To her credit, she hid whatever abnormality she felt with her neutral expression.

The same can’t be said for Makidera, currently rocking back and forth on the ball of her heels, I won’t be surprised if she starts sprinting laps around the half-eroded road that we’re on from how energetic it’s making her feel. Thankfully, common sense seems to be doing its job and keeping her feet still.

“You adapt quicker to it over time,” Ayako states with a shrug. “But it’s best that you wait for it to settle down before trying any PSI. We don’t know what’s out there or what mission we have, so the first thing we should do is find a place to hunker down in for the moment.”

We scan the roadside for shelter immediately. Standing out in the open like this is just begging to get us spotted before we can properly fight back. Not to mention how cold it is. We manage to spot a place among the bones of what were once massive buildings that’ll suffice and shuffle into it.

After slipping on the winter clothes and ensuring the supplies made the transition without any problem, Ayako heads for the entrance with her weapon in hand. “I’ll go scouting for a bit.”

“Alone?”

She nods. “Getting a better understanding of the situation will make things easier in the long run, and I’m used to doing this sort of thing whenever I arrive.”

“Then I’ll make a Mind Jack so we can at least—”

“I can handle that. You just focus on waiting out the adjustment period,” she states before spinning out a Mind Jack. The tip angles towards me for a moment before suddenly swerving and connecting to Gotou. “I’ll let you know if I find anything, but until then don’t broadcast or give away our position.”

I stamp down on the feeling gnawing in my chest as she closes the entrance. The rational part of me can recognize that she’s being considerate considering how little time we had to adjust the last time. We were only a trip ahead of these three and the sensation was still moderately distracting, so not wanting us to attempt even something as simple as creating a Mind Jack is understandable.

But looking at the construct, and whom she chose to link it to, the realistic part of me concedes she’s still wary about letting me in her head after that last time. She has no assurances it won’t happen again when the best I can tell her is that I’m handling it. Gotou is the safer choice at the end of the day.

Whatever. I shift my focus onto helping Saegusa. “Just close your eyes, calm your breathing, and focus on everything slowing down and closing in until you’re in the state of mind we normally practice in during our sessions.”

Her eyes close. Her shoulders relax. Her chest rises and falls in time with her breath, matching the rhythm that we practiced together. Good.

I look towards the others and catch them doing the same. Breathing exercises aren’t exactly foreign to members of the Track Club, so they can copy the physical motions easily enough. And Gotou will likely adapt quicker than them simply due to previous exposure, so there’s no need to worry about him.

So that just leaves me.

I put myself through the motions and mindset. The storm settles within me soon enough. Then I test out my limits by preparing one of the safeguards I have planned for when we inevitably run into Atlasia.

It’s based on the principles of a Mind Jack. Specifically, the exterior shell designed to keep the more sensitive Trance waves inside of it. I use the construction as a foundation and let it expand slowly so that it encroaches over my body inch-by-inch, until it forms a membrane wrapping around me from head-to-toe.

I breathe out and open my eyes once it was done to see Saegusa staring at me with her head quirked to the side. “Has your PSI settled down now?”

She nods. “I should be able to use it now without any problems.”

“Then spin out a Mind Jack and try to connect with me.”

Her brows furrow slightly in concentration for a moment. Then out comes the wired connector in roughly the same time that it took back in the present. Not a surprise since being able to program the process is above her skill level at present—foundation first, efficiency afterward.

It slithers towards me and curves smoothly around to the back of my skull, intending to sink into the base and connect us. Then the tip stops as it catches on the membrane. The familiar touch of her mind remains absent.

Her brows arch. “You… found a way to block me?”

“In light of what happened the last time we came here, I thought I should try out some anti-Trance techniques.”

Specifically, I wanted a method to avoid having my mind read wantonly or my thoughts influenced by an outside force. The simplest method of doing so is to shut them out before they can get to my brain. Ideally, it’ll work on even non-Trance methods of mental interference as well.

“Try to force it in until I say to stop.”

She seems mildly uncomfortable about using her PSI in such a manner, but she ultimately does attempt to force the Mind Jack past my defenses. The membrane manages to hold up, but it feels like it’s being grounded away as her own Trance construct pushes against it. Probably because the Mind Jack has more density to contain the regular telepathic transmissions.

A dense enough Trance construct could simply erase it. Then again, being composed of Trance energy means that it won’t offer any sort of protection from physical interference. But what about regular Trance waves?

“Try with regular Telepathy now,” I instruct her.

She does so. Or at least I think she does by how her expression shifts for a few moments before she gives up. “It looks like you couldn’t hear me.”

No signs of any notable degradation within the membrane. I can only presume that any thoughts she tried to float my way ended up breaking against it—like water splashing against an umbrella. However, if it shuts me out of all thoughts other than my own, it’ll effectively render me deaf and mute to telepathy.

It’ll be a gamble to keep it active at all times in that case. Telepathic transmission happens to be our primary means of long-distance communication. I can probably key it to allow for specific people to circumvent it if there’s a specific frequency or signature to an individual’s Trance waves…

No, I’m getting too far ahead of myself right now. I need to focus on what it can do for me in the short-term. It’s a safety net against having Atlasia and other trance-users getting into my head unwillingly. But if that does happen, I’ll have to resort to the other two methods I have on hand.

But I push that aside for the moment to address the others once I notice them listening in. “You three finished adjusting as well?”

Makidera opens her eyes and crosses her arms. “The shakes have settled down enough. I’m ready to go.”

In lieu of a verbal answer, Himuro holds out her hand with her palm facing upwards. Then something proceeds to take shape, similar to how Gotou created a simple ball to knock down the cards in a demonstration of how Burst could manifest. Only in her case what formed was an almost glass-like octahedron.

It floated above her palm for a moment before her gray eyes peered to the wall on the opposite side of the room we were in. Then it shot towards it as if it was thrown at the speed of maybe a fastball. It shattered upon hitting the wall, but not before leaving a rough indent that was a quarter-inch deep.

“I believe I’ve acclimated well enough,” she finally answers while adjusting her glasses. “It seems like my Burst has more physical substance than when I practiced back home. But it’s still too fragile to be of use against anything with a hard exterior.”

“A simple answer would have been fine, but whatever.” I turn to Gotou last. “What about you?”

He looks down at his hand from his perch against the wall at the prompt. Then he closes his eyes and forms it into a fist. “…There aren’t any problems from what I can tel—”

Gotou’s head snaps up and his words die as he looks towards me. Makidera takes a step back and bends her legs. Saegusa nearly falls off her makeshift seat in surprise. And Himuro grips her weapon tighter.

That’s when I turn around to see what set them on high alert.

And come face-to-face with Nemesis Q.


Fanfic Recommendation 97


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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.


Shattered Reflection 27
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.


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 47

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”



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.

 

 


Fanfics that I have found interesting and have recently been updated


Ashen Oak

A Pokemon Fanfiction

Summary: As the 13-year old Granddaughter of Professor Oak, Gina wanted nothing more than to rush through all eight Gyms to reach the summit of the Indigo Plateau. But the moment she heard about all the trouble that her childhood friend Ash kept getting up to, she decided to tag along to make sure that he didn’t get over his head.


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.


The Hero Nobody Knows 9 – 10

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.


(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.


 


Fanfic Recommendation 90

 


My Fanfics


 

Busi goes Blue (or How To Be a Blue Mage In Eorzea) – Spell 4: Final Sting

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 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.


A Rising of the Shield Hero x Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s Fanfic (One-Shot)

Summary: A retelling of the Sacred Duel and its Aftermath. However, instead of dueling with weapons, Naofumi and Motoyasu duel each other using something else. Monsters, spells, and trap cards. Who will prevail? The Deck of the Spear, or the Deck of the Shield? May the best deck win! Let’s Duel! RaphxFumi. Along with classic moments of Bitch being a Bitch


Intrepid: Interlude 20A – Access –   Interlude 20B – The Vasils
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


The Hero Nobody Knows 8

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 15 – 19

A Pokemon Fanfiction

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

 


Busi Goes Blue (or How to be a Blue Mage in Eorzea) – Spell 4: Final Sting [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?


Final Sting

 

 

Among the spells that a Blue Mage can learn there are some that are more potent than others. Some would say they could surpass even Thaumaturgy in the sheer amount of raw destruction that they can unleash.  However, such spells are usually reserved for the direst of circumstances, due to the fact that they draw upon the very aether that sustains one’s life and thus leaves said caster incapacitated.

One such spell happens to be what we will be outlining: Final Sting.

This spell works to convert the entirety of one’s anima into a concentrated aetherial poison that is forcibly driven into a single target, inflicting a massive amount of damage. Even the most fearsome of foe can be felled should they find themselves on the receiving end of this spell, but the steep price and incapacitation that follows means that it should never be used except as an absolute last resort.

While a number of vilekin of the Giant Hornet genus are capable of utilizing this lethal technique, the most feasible to obtain it from are located in the following region of Eorzea…

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

Cocobusi had been mildly concerned about potentially learning the next spell that he could gain before his time in La Noscea came to an end. He may have been a fledgling adventurer as far as the others in the group he was traveling with were concerned, but he was first and foremost an Alchemist. He had obligations to the guild, and it was only because he’d taken an allowed leave of absence that he could pursue gaining his spells without consequence.

That being said, this spell appeared to be one of the more dangerous ones.

From what he could gather the spell worked by concentrating one’s aether and anima until it reached a dangerous level of density, transmuting it into a potent poison, and then forcibly driving it into a target utilizing pressure from contracting the aetheric channels. He already knew that it was possible for individuals to weave aether into a poisonous substance, and that a sudden influx of a dense concentration of aether into one’s body would cause a violent reaction. But he also knew that if what he was grasping was true, utilizing the spell would most likely leave him in a state that was similar as to what happened with Cocobuki if he used it—on the verge of death.

Having all the aetheric channels contracting at once due to the aether flowing through them being squeezed out would cause the body to go into shock nearly instantly. Even with a transfusion of aether or restorative magicks to get them back on their feet, the body would still take time to recuperate from the sudden shock. And that was for someone with the anima capacity to utilize such demanding spells like his brothers.

All the same, it was still a spell that he could learn—even if he had no immediate intention of using it.

That was why he’d traveled to Three-Malm Bend after he’d had more time to practice with his newest spell. He figured out both the range and casting time to prevent anymore mishaps, which proved wise considering there were a number of other adventurers who’d answered the calls of the Yellow Jackets this time for what seemed to be another seasonal culling. It was Giant Hornets this time.

Apparently there was a large number of vilekin because they built nests in the trees close to a checkpoint here. While they were normally only aggressive when you approached their hive, during this season some were known to grow so large that they could tower over a Hyur. And these “Kings” naturally sought to expand their hives while stirring up the local population of wespes into becoming much more aggressive, meaning that they had to be put down.

What incentivized the Adventurers was that the pay was much better due to the Culinarian Guild financing the reward, as in the aftermath they could harvest Honey from the hives with far less risk to themselves. Cocobusi saw it as the best opportunity to learn Final Sting, and so he’d prepared himself by using the last of his earnings from that cheese quest he took.

Of course, he couldn’t really be prepared for the chaos that it rapidly devolved into as he observed how quickly trouble arose when several parties of adventurers vied for the same prize. The portion of La Noscea they were in was something of a habitat for more passive monsters, but with so many spells and attacks going off haphazardly, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that stray shots would abound. And, once angered, the once-passive monsters had taken to the field resulting in a battle on multiple fronts.

In one such case earth shifted as it was rose from the ground, pooling together mid-air in front of a Conjurer’s Maple Crook. The densely packed soil was bound together into Stone, its grinding weight sent flying towards the upraised claw of a Megalocrab. It hammered into the limb that was in the midst of preparing to crush a Marauder that was trapped within its other set of pincers, fruitlessly trying to hack away at the hardened, green carapace without solid leverage, and knocked its attack astray before it could cave in their skull.

But the beast only responded by spitting out a weave of thick bubbles in her direction that frothed and sizzled as it coated the grass. The acrid scent of the digestive fluids turned hasty weapon was quite poignant, leaving the Conjurer to wisely step back. But in doing so her partner was left trapped between the jagged teeth and crushing finger of the claw, soon to be torn in half once the weave of protective aether around his skin that seemed to act as a Bulwark faltered.

Seeing their plight as he had several others to this point, Cocobusi prioritized helping them and an aetherial replica of the goblin explosive found its way into his hand. Then he gave a shout of warning to the pair before chucking the palm-sized bomb. “Incoming!”

BOOM!

The moment the explosion blew off the rear legs of the giant crab and it collapsed to the ground, they didn’t waste the chance. With a shout, the Marauder was suddenly wreathed in a bloom of aether that seemed to seethe from his skin as he began hacking away with his axe in a rage. The carapace covering the arm shattered with the single swing, cleaving through and severing the limb. Freed, he then proceeded bring the head of the heavy Cloud Axe down on its carapace over and over.

If the slashes before could chop wood, then the blows now would cleave through solid stone. The hard, chitin broke, green fragments and blood spraying as the axe struck the tender meat below. The wavekin let loose a shriek as it came out of its stagger and attempted to crush him with its remaining arm when another Stone slammed into it, finishing it off. Once the monster was dead, the Marauder fell to a knee and the Conjurer ran over to tend to the wounds he’d sustained.

They should be fine now, Cocobusi thought to himself before he caught a flicker of light-pink hair further out. It was the Arcanist he’d worked alongside a few times now, running after her Carbuncle as she attempted to participate in the hunt as well. He hoped the arcane construct wasn’t being too difficult to manage, given things were already chaotic enough as it was. He was tempted to follow after her to make sure, but a brief flash of light in the corner of his eyes pulled his attention elsewhere.

Specifically, towards a trio consisting of a Miqo’te Pugilist, a Hyur Gladiator, and a Lalafell Thaumaturge in the midst of struggling with some of the very Killer Wespes that he’d come to slay for their spell. That Flash he’d seen earlier must’ve been a technique that gathered aether on the weapon and transmuted it into light to blind an enemy. Though from what Cocobusi had heard in passing the Gladiator’s guild had stopped teaching it due to the fact that it could catch allies unaware as well.

The Pugilist, a young woman, was nursing a bleeding wound to her abdomen as she curled up on the ground. The Gladiator, a young man, was using his shield and sword to keep her safe as the Giant Hornets blindly attempted to sting him. As for the Thaumaturge, who looked to be somewhat older than the Blue Mage himself, he was currently being attacked by a Water Sprite.

Cocobusi suspected that they were all fresh from Ul’dah where, due to a shortage of those capable of restorative magicks compared to the other nations, a group of three would center their tactics around piling on a singular enemy and bringing them down quickly. Their original intention was probably to have the Thaumaturge use Sleep on the swarm and from there they would slay them one-by-one. But because of the Water Sprite had begun attacking the Thaumaturge, he couldn’t properly focus on shifting the polarity of his inner anima and so now he was left fumbling with his traveling pack to pull out an Ether while under attack.

His brothers often complained about how neophyte Thaumaturges tended to improperly manage their capacity for destructive spells at inopportune times. Bearing witness to the sprite pooling water-aspected aether into a ball and launching the Water spell hard enough that it knocked the Lalafell off his feet, despite the fact that he tried to block it with his Square Maple Shield, showed exactly why. Either way, he had to act now lest the situation worsen.

The novice Blue Mage cast the Bomb Toss spell once more, flinging it towards the Water Sprite. For a moment he held some concern that the sprite, being a minor elemental of the opposing element on the aetheric wheel to fire, would be unharmed by the explosion. But the explosive force still managed to rattle the sprite, its form undulating around the crystal shard that it used for a heart.

“Hurry and drink your Ether!” Cocobusi told the neophyte Thaumaturge as he then ran closer to the other group to assist them as well, pulling out a Potion. Casting the explosive spell for a third time, he flung it overhead towards the swarm of Killer Wespes as the blindness wore off.

BOOM!

When the explosion dazed the Giant Hornets, leaving them stunned for a few precious moments, the Gladiator took the chance to start slashing away at them. The obsidian edges of his Ash Macuahuitl ripped through one in a spray of visceral fluid before finding the head of another and caving it in. But as the Pugilist spared a glance in his direction and she saw him running towards them with the Potion in hand, she shouted, “Watch out!”

He didn’t get the meaning of the warning until he felt something hard and wet slam into his back, knocking Cocobusi off his feet and sending the Potion flying out of his grasp. Reunited with the sense of pain that he’d become a little too accustomed to since starting his adventuring career, he raised his head to see the cause of. The Water Sprite was drifting his way, having seemingly earned its enmity from the bombing.

He saw the next attack coming, a watery sphere being fired towards him like a cannonball. He barely rolled out of the way before it splashed down where he had been. Then he got back onto his feet and prepared himself for the next one when a bundle of frigid, ice-aspected aether from the umbral polarity hit the Water Sprite.

The Blizzard spell erupted into white ice and blue frost as it smashed into the watery mass. The cold began to subsume it as the Thaumaturge began another incantation and funneled his aether into Marbled Eye of the Copper Scepter that he wielded in his right hand. Not to be undone, Cocobusi dredged up the primal HUNGER for aether that he used to activate his Soul Crystal and proceeded to rip the aether from the Water Sprite.

The elemental was little more than a mass of somewhat aware aether, so Blood Drain took from the whole and rid it of element before flowing into him as the creature strained to keep itself together until the throbbing sphere of fire that had pooled around the Thaumaturge’s scepter was released. The moment the two elements met there was a violent burst of steam as the water that it had pooled together around the shard that was its heart evaporated. The Water Shard fell to the ground, the elemental’s awareness scattered.

That left the real threats, the Killer Wespes that the Gladiator and Pugilist were fending off. The sharpened point of a stinger scraped against his Bronze Hoplon as he parried a thrust for his head before shrouding it in aether and slamming it into the vilekin. The resulting shockwave as it discharged left it dazed long enough for the Pugilist to deliver a Snap Punch that caused it to collapse to the ground lifelessly.

Next, the Gladiator raised his leg and drove a kick into the abdomen of another vilekin, which sent another burst of aether through its body and stunning it. That bought him enough time to spin around with his weapon, cutting it down while the rest of the vilekin that were attacking him backed away to avoid more than a glancing cut from the obsidian points of his weapon.

The novice Blue Mage and neophyte Thaumaturge began casting to further turn the tide, giving a shout of warning that didn’t go unnoticed by the Pugilist. She called out to the Gladiator as incantations from one flowed freely from rote memory as while azure diamonds encircling the other created the aetherial construct of another goblin explosive. The Gladiator gathered aether onto the tip of his sword and released a blinding flash that robbed the compound eyes of their vision, before sprinting to get out of range as the Bomb Toss flew first.

BOOM!

The volatile construct of fire-aspected aether ruptured as it landed amidst the swarm, the explosion swallowing the giant hornets and stalling most of their wings from the shock. The Sleep spell from the Thaumaturge followed, robbing them of their consciousness. They laid on the ground in a deep, yet ephemeral slumber that was soon to be made permanent—with one exception, that was.

A single one escaped from the fringes of the blast, rushing out of the smoke as it sped towards the Thaumaturge in a frenzied haste, eager to claim his life. But the Gladiator sprinted to meet it midway and intercepted the point with his shield, guiding the killing thrust away as it scraped against the metal surface hard enough to scratch the surface deeply. The Pugilist followed up with another punch that was hard enough to knock it to the ground, whereupon the Gladiator stabbed it in the head.

Seeing they had that in hand as they turned their attention to the sleeping swarm to kill them off before they could wake, Cocobusi decided to keep moving to help where he could. Some of the adventurers were faring even worse than the two groups he’d thrown his lot in with so far. Those he attempted to buy time for so they could get away or supplied Potions to keep them alive, before they ended up amongst the dead.

EEK!”

It was only after he finished dispatching another Water Sprite that had gotten too ambitious that the cry of a familiar voice reached his ears. It was the Arcanist he’d worked with before, pink hair and a fiery attitude. Only now she was in a pinch, clutching her grimoire to her chest and her Carbuncle missing while a trio of Killer Wespe fluttered towards her with lethal intention.

Acting quickly, Cocobusi focused on casting the Sticky Tongue spell and let loose the aetherial tongue. In the blink of an eye the Arcanist was crumpled on the ground in front of him while covered in the sticky, aetherially replicated toad saliva. A sound of disgust and frustration slipped out of her mouth as her gaze turned positively venomous when she noticed he was responsible.

He felt bad about getting her slimy, even though it’d dissipate soon enough. But he didn’t have time to really focus on that since the Killer Wespes were still keen on attacking. They were headed towards the pair now, closing the 25 yalms between them rather quickly. “You can yell at me later, but first we need to deal with this!”

“My book ran out of pages!” She held up what was left of her grimoire. Sure enough there were only a handful of pages left that were inside, all of them filled with inscriptions and formulae for her other spells. Since she used the extra pages as a medium for calling out her arcane entity, that meant she couldn’t summon anymore.

“Then get to safety!” he said before he ran forward to put distance between himself and her. She’d need time to get free and flee, and his options were limited as he mentally recounted his stock. I have two sleeping potions left. Will they be enough?

With little time to debate it, he tossed the bottles of Sleeping Potion towards a pair, leaving the glass to shatter on impact. The fluids within splashed over their exoskeletons and seeped in, leave them in a stupor as they drifted down to the ground. But the last one was closing in while preparing to jab at him with its stinger.

Out of other options, he focused on casting Bomb Toss once more and felt the anima pulled from deep within him forming the backbone of the spiraling diamonds as they siphoned and shaped ambient aether. Goblin explosive in hand yet again, he tossed it at the incoming monster right as it entered stabbing range.

BOOM!

The Blue Mage was knocked off his feet from the detonation being so close, bones shaking from the force of the explosion. But the vilekin swept up in the explosion took the worst of it, still on the ground and writhing about trying to get its wings working again. He found it in him to cast Energy Drain once before it managed to get up, ripping the aether out of its body violently before it retaliated by violently flailing about with its stinger.

There was a flash of pain and the sound of fabric tearing as a Sharp Sting caught his shoulder when he tried to parry the incoming stab. Blood seeped from the wound as he lashed out with the cane in his other hand, whacking it twice, only for it to retaliate by slamming into him reflexively. It managed to knock him onto his back while the cane flew from his grasp.

Oww…” In pain, Cocobusi fumbled around for his cane for a moment only to see the stinger on its abdomen swaddled in a dense amount of aether. He realized that the wounded vilekin was getting ready to deliver the fatal sting right as it descended—

Fire!

—when a fireball slammed into the vilekin a moment before it could spear through his chest and deliver the venom into his heart. The flames swept away the burning husk of the Killer Wespe, smoldering bits and pieces raining down all around Cocobusi. He’d barely felt the minor shake in his pocket over the pounding in his chest as the Thaumaturge from before came over, scepter in one hand with smoke wafting off it.

“That was a close one,” he said, extending the other towards the downed Lalafell. “Can you stand?”

Cocobusi nodded and accepted the help getting up. “Thank you.”

“Think nothing of it,” the Thaumaturge said. “It would be ill of us if we left you to die while in aid of another, after benefiting from such ourselves.”

“Leaving a debt as such unchecked would catch up to us in Thal’s Halls when we got there,” the Gladiator from before said, now on his way over with the Pugilist. Their weapons were covered in fresh viscera, the sleeping pair of Killer Wespe slain as the one attacking him was blown to pieces. The immediate threat was over then.

“Not that we were in a rush to get there anytime soon,” the Pugilist quickly added, while bringing her hands together in gratitude. “Thanks for the Potion earlier, by the way. Though it looks like you could use one yourself now.”

She wasn’t wrong. The bleeding wound he had was still running, and he felt his bones aching from the proximity to his own explosion. “I used up all of my Potions helping others today, but they’ll mend in time.”

“A fool’s logic.” The sharp barb was followed by a familiar sensation washing over him. It was the soothing sense of his body mending through the workings of a Physick spell. He turned to see that the Arcanist was once more casting her healing magicks on him with an annoyed expression. “You are lucky that I am feeling generous in spite of what you did to me.”

He supposed she was still upset about covering her in slime. But the fact that she still saw fit to tend to his wounds left him grateful. “Thank you.”

Hmph.” The Arcanist huffed as she turned away from him. “If you have to keep butting in, at least do it properly. There’s no point in playing the hero if you’re going to end up getting killed yourself.”

And with that said, she proceeded to walk off towards the direction of the Yellow Jackets. It seemed that the King Wespes had been successfully culled while they were preoccupied. All that was left was to help the wounded back to the city-state and collect their compensation for participation.

“We didn’t manage to get any of the juicy targets, so I doubt we’ll get much for all the trouble we went through,” the Pugilist said bitterly, ears and tail drooping. “I wanted enough to at least try one of the meals I’ve heard about at the Bismark.”

“As far as I’m concerned, so long as we get enough to fill the belly and a few pints that should be enough,” the Gladiator replied with a shrug of the shoulders. “Anything is better than the days of eating thrown-out scraps just to stop our bellies from aching.”

“I didn’t need the reminder,” she said, ears and tail rising in agitation. “The whole point in us becoming adventurers was to get away from all of that. That’s why we should keep trying something new every step of the way—right up until we make it big.”

“You two can debate on suitable cuisine with whatever our finances after we have replenished our supplies and repaired our equipment,” the Thaumaturge stated firmly, giving the impression that he’d had to do so beforehand a number of times. He then looked towards Cocobusi. “Once more, we thank you for your assistance. But do be a bit more careful in the future, yes?”

“Take care,” the Pugilist said with a cheery wave while the Gladiator gave him a nod. Then the three of them set off.

What a peculiar bunch they were, Cocobusi mused. From what he could gather the Hyur and Miqo’te were likely orphans or inhabitants of the slums prior to becoming adventurers. But the Lalafell seemed almost scholarly. How they’d met and formed a party was beyond him to grasp, but adventurers came in all sorts and from all different lots in life. I suppose I’m not exactly one in a position to judge either.

Besides, he really did owe them his gratitude. They‘d helped him in more ways than one, given the sensation he’d felt when the mage had killed the Killer Wespe attacking him. He’d gotten his fourth spell thanks to that, all that concentrated aether being violently released in such proximity practically guaranteeing it.

Shame I can’t actually use it, he thought to himself while brushing his hand over his pocket where the Soul Crystal was nestled. He would still meditate on it when he returned to his room, as he did the other spells, but chances were he’d never use it. The risk was simply too great for him to consider it under normal circumstances, especially with his low anima levels at the moment.

Still, even if it was a close call, he’d helped some others and earned a new spell.

That was good enough for the moment.

 

 


Fanfic Recommendation 89

 


My Fanfics


 

Rabbit of the Moon: Interlude 2 – Growing Insight of Three

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.

 

 


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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.


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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


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Summary: When Jaune’s forged transcripts were rebuffed, his only option was to return home in disgrace or forge a new life in Vale. Opening a diner was an impetuous decision, being good at it a stroke of luck. Becoming the favourite haunt for students, teachers and criminals alike…? That was neither, but it sure did keep things interesting. Wasn’t the civilian life supposed to be easier?


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Locked Away 67 – 68

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Summary: Follows coma theory: Ash wakes up from a ten year coma to realize that all of his adventures were only a figment of his imagination; but he questions if they were more than that. Everything has changed in ten years, and he must put back all the shattered pieces while he embarks on a new journey to save the world and himself. Pokeshipping.

 


Rabbit of the Moon: Interlude 2 [DanMachi/Bloodborne]

Interlude 2: The Growing Insight of Three

 

For a second time Aiz felt like she’d run straight into a brick wall. She’d been tasked with dealing with the last monster that had escaped—a Silverback—when a pungent scent met her head on. The aroma dug into her mind and clouded her thoughts for only a moment, but that still brought her sprint to an abrupt halt.

“Huh…” The sound of interest came from her Goddess next to her. “You can smell it too?”

“Yes.” Her eyes spanned the street, searching for the source of the scent she knew to be the boy that had killed the Minotaur. Her senses, augmented by her Level, attuned to the noise of the street until she heard a single set of running footfall and heavy pants, along with the moonscent—as Loki had told her—tinged with blood.

Then, once more, Bell Cranel came into view as he burst out of a side alley that was nearby.   The young boy was covered in battle-ravaged leather that had been sheared and scraped to the point where bare skin and battered metal were on display. Sweat from exertion dotted his brow where strands of his white hair clung desperately.

Aiz let out a small groan and held a slender hand to her head that began to pound with his approach. She didn’t know what it was about him that she was feeling. She couldn’t know how to register it. All she could do was wait for him to pass by her without a word as he continued to flee, the pulsing sensation lessening somewhat as his footfalls continued past her.

“Ugh…” Loki was holding her nostrils closed, so her voice came out a bit childish as she said, “It’s pretty thick compared to at the tavern, huh?”

Aiz nodded as they turned and watched him continue to run until a girl emerged from a side-street and grabbed his hand, eliciting a brief look of shock on the boy’s face before recognition set in. Then words were exchanged, an offer to ‘help him escape from sight’ from what Aiz could hear, before she pulled him into the alley. The footfalls that she could hear belonging to them took them away from the Main Street.

“It’s strange,” Aiz settled on after a moment of thought. “But something about it… makes me nervous…”

“Hmm…” Loki crossed her arms and hummed lightly in thought. “Call it a hunch, but I feel it my bones that sumthin’ about its off too…”

As she contemplated that to herself, Aiz picked up on the activity on the street and how it seemed to have blossomed. People were excitedly talking about an adventurer dressed in leather who fought and slew a monster right in the plaza. She had her suspicions that it was the boy they were talking about, so she approached a pair of children that were in the middle of playing.

“Ah, excuse me?” she said, crouching down towards one of the children. “Could you tell me about what happened just now with a monster?”

The child didn’t hesitate. “It was amazing! This big monster went ‘RAAAHHH’ and tried to squish this white-haired mister with its big arms! But he was so fast, and he had this hammer that had a sword in it! He went ‘swish’ and blood flew everywhere, and the monster went ‘GAAHHH’ and then—”

Aiz listened on as he continued on in an excited manner until an adult called for him and he said goodbye. Then she turned back to her Goddess, who was conversing with an elderly woman. When the woman parted way, Loki cradled one arm while holding a hand to her chin.

Suspicious…” Loki mused. “That young lady was kind enough to tell me a bit about what just happened. It seemed that boy killed the Silverback with a weapon that could go between a hammer and a sword, or something that he could call back to him even when separated. I’d say it’d be an enchanted weapon, but Cow Tits can’t afford sumthin’ like that. Could it possibly be some form of magic?”

It wasn’t unheard of that someone who was just given a Falna would have access to magic. Outside of a Grimoire it was something that seemed to happen sporadically, with some species being more likely to manifest it or exceptions like Aiz, who had Aerial since she received Loki’s blessing. For all they knew it was something the boy was capable of since he became an adventurer—he did kill a Monster that Level 2s would struggle against the first time she’d seen him, so a Silverback wouldn’t be that much of a threat.

But from the colorful way the boy had described the fight, it sounded like it had dragged out for a bit. That was strange, considering that someone who could kill a Minotaur should be able to kill a Silverback within mere seconds at worse. But, at the same time, she didn’t think it sounded like he was making a show of it when there was a chance of civilians being caught in the crossfire.

He didn’t seem all that polished when it came to fighting from what she’d seen the last time either. He wasn’t quite helpless and seemed to know enough not to wound himself with the butcher’s weapon he had, but he didn’t seem anywhere near expertise in terms of skill wielding it or when facing off against the Minotaur considering how sloppy his movements were. He’d barely avoided most of the hits and the ones he tried to block had broken through his guard utterly.

That was expected for the Upper Floors—in fact, it was almost what she’d expect from a new adventurer who hadn’t refined their combat skills out of the Dungeon like some of the former soldiers or hunters she’d seen. But against Silverbacks that lived close to the Middle Floors and the Minotaurs that came from the floors below it, that was another story. Simply surviving to the point that you could venture down there would require countless battles, during which you’d build up experience with fighting subconsciously.

So how did he manage to kill the Minotaur then? Her head began to ache as she thought back to it. He seemed almost confused that he’d managed to prevail, or the fact that he had the magic stone. Could it have been that he wasn’t aware of the fact that he’d done it?

Aiz thought back then when their eyes met. She didn’t quite grasp what she heard with the whispers that seemed to give her a headache, but before then she recalled thinking that his weapon was his fangs and his hands were his claws. The primal way he’d cried out as he ripped out its magic stone had been almost…bestial.

It didn’t really suit him at all from how timid and small he looked when not cloaked in tattered clothes, fresh blood, and broken steel. But somehow that was part of what caused her to feel on edge. Not completely, but the sensation that she was staring down a predator for that moment does seem close to how she could best describe it.

“Well, either way, the Silverback was taken care of and no civilians got hurt from the sound of it,” Loki said abruptly, changing the topic and pulling Aiz from her thoughts as the Goddess grasped her arm and pulled it against her smaller body. “Let’s go back to the others, Aizuu.”

“Ah… sure…” She nodded before turning on her heel and following after her Goddess. Bell Cranel was a mystery to Aiz now more than ever, but there were other mysteries she needed to focus on. Other things she needed to do and other people waiting for her.

She’d put the mystery of the Moon-scented Boy to the back of her mind for now.

[R-M]

Freya moaned softly as she cradled her head from the throbbing pressure that nestled itself right behind her eyes, a crystal ball situated on the table next to her. The cloak she normally wore out to avoid drawing the gaze of men and women by the virtue of her sheer beauty laid on her lap, unneeded. She’d rented out the entire restaurant for the moment in order to ensure her privacy while she observed her ploy at work.

It hadn’t been something she’d explicitly planned out. But rather a spontaneous opportunity that crossed her mind the moment that she noticed that Bell and Hestia were out for the festival and in possession of Syr’s Purse. The wheels in her mind began to whirl and she foresaw an opportunity to potentially lure out the one who stole her prize away from her.

After all, many of the Gods and Goddesses were out and about during the Monsterphilia. She was sure that the one who’d tainted his soul with that infuriating color would be too. If they’d come to Bell’s aid when he faced off against a monster within the Dungeon via some unknown means, then she was sure they’d do the same here.

She set the plan into motion within an hour. Her Familia had a collection of many talented individuals, all of whom had captured her eye to some extent. Pickpockets and swift runners among them were perfectly capable of pulling him away from Hestia and the Guild member, baiting him to a suitable stage that would be far enough from any meddling adventurer and freeing the others to act as a distraction—not that she intended for them to harm anyone intentionally.

She’d slipped into where they’d kept the monster and used her Charm to enthrall them after leaving the members of the Familia watching over them senseless. Men. Women. Monsters—the way her beauty ensorcelled them was simply overwhelming and she’d been careful not to be seen while having the monsters act as puppets, keeping the other Familia who would be out and about busy while the Silverback she’d chosen to be her instrument slipped away.

Her headache had begun shortly after that, before he’d engaged the Silverback while donning a coat and wielding a hammer that didn’t seem to suit him at all. For a brief moment, she had a flicker of a scene where he laid broken on the ground and bleeding as his own weapon was left lodged in his chest. It had been faint and fleeting, leaving her to assume it was her imagination of a possible outcome that awaited him.

Really, it would have been expected considering how short his tenure as an Adventurer had been so far. But it wasn’t that she wanted to kill him. After all, it had been so long since she’d felt such a strong attachment to someone at first sight. She should’ve snatched him right up rather than allowing him to pass her by, but she wanted to see him grow from a distance.

Alas, where there was love there was envy and jealousy. For someone to take what she claimed for herself was simply unacceptable. And so, as punishment, the boy would now become the bait by which Freya would find the one that dyed the unblemished color of his soul and laid claim to the one she’d seen first.

She’d use him to find them. Then she would break them. Take everything that was theirs and destroy them for daring to take what she’d claimed for herself while reveling in the carnage—she was a Goddess of Love and War in equal parts after all.

Loki had said that she smelled the scent of the moon on him when they talked the night of the banquet. There were few who descended and held dominion over the moon, thus few who could grace him with their presence—likely being either Artemis or Achelois.

She had her doubts that it was Artemis, even if she knew that the goddess was on friendly terms with Hestia. Not only was she the head of a Hunting Familia that was far beyond the walls of Orario, which Hermes confirmed once she coaxed him into talking, but her Familia’s policies were well-known in regards to men and love. Men were never allowed to join, and those seeking to start a relationship had to leave the Familia behind. The thought that she would somehow bless Bell shortly after his arrival in Orario was too farfetched.

That only left Achelois. She was a minor goddess who had seemingly all but vanished some time ago. Freya hadn’t paid the disappearance any thought until now, given that the woman was struggling to simply find followers and simply wasn’t of interest to her. But considering the circumstances…

Well, perhaps she should put some effort into finding out just where she’d vanished to?

Either way, as her headache began upon dismissing that vivid imagery, Bell revealed he possessed a magic that she had been unaware of. A method by which he could call his arms and items to him. There were magical items that could do so, but she had the distinct feeling that it was magic.

More than that, there as something unique about it. When he called for his weapon, she could have sworn she’d something there. Thin, translucent things anxiously and eagerly groping the weapons from where space seemed to ripple around him.

Her head shuddered thinking about it. And the pressure behind her eyes felt like it was a living thing, squirming softly. She needed a moment of peace and quiet to get herself together and wait for it to pass.

A few hours to settle her head…

[R-M]

Hestia had her suspicions that something was amiss when that silver-haired woman approached both her and Eina by the coliseum.

Not because she was suspicious in herself. But because of the faint trace of a familiar moon-scented fragrance that was on her. It set off warning bells and a sense of dread gnawed at Hestia’s stomach.

Then the young woman pulled out her purse. It was the one that had been stolen from them, only now it was steeped in the scent of the moon. Hestia had realized in that instant that he’d died again, and only learned how once the young woman showed them the a magic stone that had been cleaved in half and explained that Bell had slain the Silverback.

He’d died again. He’d been sent back to that place again. He’d died and returned again.

And she’d failed to notice again until it was too late.

The moment she realized that, Hestia felt her legs lose strength and collapsed onto her knees. Eina had asked if she was okay, but Hestia only wanted to know where her child was. The moment the young woman said that she helped him slip away from the crowd so that he could go back home, Hestia made her way back there without a second thought.

It was there she found Bell.

Light spilled down from the windows to illuminate his white hair that was pattered with dull red from blood. Next to him on the pew was discarded leather clothing and battered armor that looked to be in horrendous condition, silently telling an adventurer’s tale of trials and tribulations. He sat with his face buried in his hands, quietly muttering between labored breaths and sobbing to himself.

She treaded carefully, feeling her heart breaking when she recalled how happy he looked the day he first set out to the Dungeon. There had been a smile on his face that could melt the coldest of hearts not even two weeks ago, sweetly complimenting the young boy eager to answer the call of adventure and become a hero. The moment she came to a stop in front of him and laid her hands onto shoulders, Bell’s arms snaked around her slender figure and he buried his face against her.

Goddess… forgive me…” his voice came out hoarse and worn. His body shuddered as he wept. “Forgive me.”

Feeling the stinging tears in her eyes now, Hestia didn’t allow herself to cry. Not when he needed her to be strong. She wiped away her own forming tears and then forced a smile as she gently brushed his hair to console him. “It’ll be okay, Bell.”

After that Bell took a shower before he confessed what had happened in the confines of their room. He confessed to her of the Little Girl and her request; his attempt to fulfill the wish of a child who was left all alone. He confessed of Gascoigne and Viola; a husband and wife torn apart by the curse of Beasthood. He confessed of the Dweller and Henryk; an attempt to do good leaving a child with no family left in the world.

She’d listened to it all before peering into his Falna as he laid prone in bed, unraveling what he lacked the heart or mind to tell her outright. The foreign words hammered into her mind of a tragic tale writ with blood and regret, images that left the scenes to come to mind with a vividness as if she was there at some point. It hurt enough that she felt pulsing pain in her skull, but it was nothing compared to what Bell had undergone.

She owed it to her child to accept his story and his pain. It was the least she could do for him.  For that reason, Hestia bore with the sensation writhing over her brain, all so that she could learn and could gain the wisdom needed to help Bell.

Taking in his sorrow and grief, his tribulations and triumphs, she immersed herself in his tale. She took in the details that may have escaped his mind, grabbing hold of whatever knowledge he’d taken it and committing it to her own memory. It was only when she’d read his tale from that faithful Minotaur attack until before they’d reunited above that she pulled herself free of the engrossing tragedy…

Only to find that Bell had fallen asleep beneath her.

She looked towards the clock. It was nearing midnight. The entire day had been lost to her, and the moment she realized that the exhaustion caught up to her all at once.

Her mind was weary from the knowledge. Her body sore from sitting in place for hours on end, hunched over Bell’s backside and head angled down to read his story. The allure of sleep was too strong to resist for her as well, another downside to being relegated to a physical form.

Limited as she was to her mortal body, Hestia could only do so little for Bell. How she yearned to unleash her Arcanum and free him from the shackles that bound him to that nightmarish world. But after peering so deeply she understood that doing so would rob him of the solace that her presence would bring him.

Steeped as he was in loneliness and regret, Bell clung to her as family and found meaning in the life they now shared together. He would never forgive himself if she gave up her life here to liberate him from that nightmare. And she would never forgive herself for leaving him in such a state.

There has to be another way to free you and remain together, Hestia thought to herself as she laid next to Bell on the bed and gently brushed his cheeks. I promise I’ll find it for you, Bell. No matter what.

[R-M]

 

Bell Cranel

Level One

Strength: F-392 > C-601

Defense: F-373 > D-592

Dexterity: I-96 > F-321

Agility: E-487 > A-903

Magic: I-0

Skills:
Blessing of Flora

Beasthood

Heir (Murky)


Fanfic Recommendation 88

 


My Fanfics


 

Busi Goes Blue – Spell 3: Bomb Toss

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?

Calling Card: Interlude 4 – Commander of Control Tower #7

Summary: Shinji Matou had been looking to redeem himself after the Holy Grail War, but wasn’t certain how to. Then he learned about a crimson calling card labeled Psyren. Saving the future would be a good starting point. A pseudo-crossover using elements of Psyren, it will contain characters from several Nasuverse works, including Tsukihime. Based on a Challenge by FateOnline.

 

 


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.


Intrepid: 20-06 Madison – 20-07 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


Service with a Smile 59 – 60

A RWBY Fanfiction

Summary: When Jaune’s forged transcripts were rebuffed, his only option was to return home in disgrace or forge a new life in Vale. Opening a diner was an impetuous decision, being good at it a stroke of luck. Becoming the favourite haunt for students, teachers and criminals alike…? That was neither, but it sure did keep things interesting. Wasn’t the civilian life supposed to be easier?


Symbiotic 9 –  10

A Pokemon Fanfiction

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

 


Locked Away 65 – 67

A Pokemon Fanfic

Summary: Follows coma theory: Ash wakes up from a ten year coma to realize that all of his adventures were only a figment of his imagination; but he questions if they were more than that. Everything has changed in ten years, and he must put back all the shattered pieces while he embarks on a new journey to save the world and himself. Pokeshipping.

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 44

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”

 


Calling Card (Psyren x FSN -Nasuverse): Interlude 4 – Commander of Control Tower #7

Interlude 4 – Commander of Control Tower #7

In the heart of what was once the country of Japan was a Siren Tower unlike any other.

It stood far taller than the eight others over the continent, a massive structure whose tip nearly touched the ashen sky. Its circumference spanned a small city, wrought of alien steel interlaced with a crystalline substance and could easily be mistaken for a mountain that one day appeared where before where only flat lands existed. Unlike the others that were also outposts housing detachment of Taboo and Homunculi, designated to scour the ruins for the Resistance and overseeing the terraforming progress, and far exceeded those in size due to the various functions that needed to be carried out.

And unlike every other building crafted by the hands of man, it wouldn’t be subject to the erosion and the changes in the laws of nature caused by the Rebirth.

It was the Control Tower responsible for keeping the ashen sky over Japan in place with the eight smaller ones acting as relays, meant to extend the emission and form a net to keep the skies obfuscated. It not only blocked the sun’s rays from touching the surface, but stimulated the development of PSI and empowered the cores that the Taboo used to function. It was easily the most important tactical structure within Japan—and so naturally you’d presume that the one in charge of it was the most important figure in Japan.

Yet that same figure was left kneeling in the private chamber of the Communications Room located near the top of the tower. The room acted as a hub for personal communication between Control Towers on the other continents, backed by the relay towers with technology that could empower PSI. It even allowed for projections of individuals akin to holograms at vast distances with little strain on the user.

It was before one of these projections that the Head of Control Tower #7 bowed towards one of the Millennial Commander as he finished his report.

I cannot say that I am surprised that you would report only failure once more.

Bitterness stung the back of kneeling man’s throat as the scathing words felt like a weight pressing down on him. There was no surprise in the words, as if it was expectant that he would have nothing to show even before the appointed time to make his report arrived. After all, this Millennial Commander had never hidden the disdain he felt towards those of his race even before the Appointed Date arrived and heralded the arrival of a new age.

Head raised, he spoke up in his own defense. “We nearly had her this time, but the Resistance intervened again. The Traitor has trained them well and their numbers seem to grow by the day. But we’ve already narrowed down her hiding place and my secret weapon has finished its cultivation. We’ll have the Vampire in our grasp soon—you have my word.”

The declaration was met with irritating sound, a cross between a scoff and chuckle. “As if the word of a rat who boarded the ark and is too cowardly to hunt down those who would despoil their future paradise himself holds any weight. It’s only because of your relation to the Council of Elders, and the fact that you were in those backwoods, that you were given governance of that tower—a decision that has proven time and again to be a mistake.

“I… I’ll be heading out myself this time,” he said, bowing his head in supplication and his voice stale. “Eltnam Atlasia will be caught. The Resistance will be crushed. I will gamble my life on it.”

Hmph. You’ll forgive me if I doubt that… but the alternative is that I would have to travel there to intervene directly. And if I must take time out of my own duties to ensure that we have the key to Atlas and dealing with the parasite that hinders the paradise we’ve been chosen to bring about… well, I won’t hesitate to show my displeasure.

And with that the projection vanished, leaving only oppressive silence and oily darkness in the sealed room.

The moment he was left alone in the room, the mask broke. The placid visage gave way to an ugly scowl as the man rose from his bow and spat towards the projector. “How dare he speak to me like that?”

He’d expected to be chastised for his failure given the importance of the task. The Vampire held the key to a tool that would accelerate their plans by dealing with that thing in what had once been South America. The fact that she was in his territory than one of the others dictated it would be his duty to apprehend her while they tended to the other unexpected factors that were not accounted for when they put their plan into motion.

But for the Butcher of the Church to be the one who talked down to him was demeaning. He was not of their family, the ones who’d been chosen to herald the impending change upon the world. How he received the blessing of the star and became one of the Millennial Commanders was beyond comprehension.

“Soon, I’ll show him.” Straightening his suit, he exited the private chamber and entered the main section of the Communications Room, where roughly a dozen set of crimson eyes were in the process of handling communications between the relay towers. Screens and computer systems were linked to tanks filled with oxygenated and amniotic fluids, where deformed homunculus with cerebral matter accounting for 60% of their body acted as the central command of the brainwave network. They filtered the information they received from their counterparts in each of the relay tower, which were linked to those sent into the field and created a network.

Leaving them to their work, he moved over towards the elevator that was at the far end of the room and rode it down towards the bottom floor. That was where his project was currently underway. His secret weapon to finally capturing that Vampire once and for all before hunting down the Traitor.

“…Tch…” He found himself clenching his teeth at the thought of the Traitor. A member of the family closest to the Supreme Commander was arguably the biggest source of his headache at the moment. It was his teaching of the Resistance that was ruining everything here more so than anywhere else.

The loss of the Homunculi was inconsequential as they could always make more of them. But the Terraformer that was killed was a different story, as their role in wiping away the current world and progressing to the next was why he’d sent out the homunculi from the Life Propagation division to guard it as backup. Another could be cultivated to replace it, but it would take time that would allow the Traitor to continue to expand his army against them and hinder their plans even further.

But it also presented an opportunity. If he could capture the Vampire and uproot the Traitor, then he’d be able to solve two of the biggest hindrances to their grand designs. He could even potentially rise to the rank of a Millennial Commander and receive the recognition he deserved, hence why he’d begun his own ambitious plan—despite having only limited resources on-hand because they wouldn’t sponsor his pet project.

As the elevator came to a stop on the bottom level and the door slid open, a shriek rang out from the end of the corridor. It wasn’t an ordinary sound that clawed at only the ears, but one that gnawed at the mind. Like nails scraping against his brain matter, points raking at the creases and tearing out chunks as they drove in knives of pain and anguish like a wailing woman.

He shook his head vigorously as he layered his own mental defense against the telepathic cry until it was quelled and marched down the corridor until he reached the door leading to the chamber where it came from. Striding over to the edge of the railing, he looked down to the bottom floor at the vessel that housed the creation that birthed the cry.

Reinforced, crystalline glass was stained red and bright green fluid that bubbled within the vessel was tinged with the hue of blood as the corpse of a homunculus had fallen into the lid that had been opened to make an adjustment. The white uniform that matched its ivory skin was shredded beneath the breasts as entrails hung loose before the body was mashed against the glass hard enough that it became nothing more than a stain.

An annoyed grumble bubbled up in his throat as he moved over to one of the homunculus operating the control panel and grasped her by the neck to demand, “What fool forgot to administer the sedative before attempting to make any adjustments!?”

“We administered the prescribed dosage,” she claimed. “But it seemed that the last modifications rendered it less effective. In addition, the rampant Trance emissions are making it difficult to transmit the signal to the core and force it into hibernation mode.”

He clicked his tongue before releasing her, leaving the homunculus to fall onto the ground as he straightened himself out. “Flood the vessel with a higher dosage and increase the temperature and pressure so that it penetrates the epidermis. Then make the final adjustments so that we can field it within the next 24 hours.”

The Homunculus tried to tell him that doing so would be ill-advised, given the subject had shown some resilience to the mental conditioning and the functionality of the core not being optimal due to the irregularities, meaning its estimated lifespan outside of the control environment would be drastically short. But he brushed it off.

As long as it lasted long enough to get the job done, that was all that mattered.