IN WHICH I ACCIDENTALLY THE WHOLE GUILD
Previously: Don’t Ask
Themesong: We Are Young by FUN.
“Fairy Tail…. Not Tale?” I asked, staring at the VMoD’s artwork. The words were printed in tall blocky letters with weird serifs that looked a little like the eaves of a house. In fact, the FAIR looked like a row of brownstones to some extent. Then the Y came, and it dipped down below the other letters, then the T, which looked like the top of an Anchor… only to end with an L that had a barb like a fishhook. It was stylized, but weird… and weirder still was this logo that looked like a phoenix chick on skis… or maybe a toboggan. I really had no idea what to make of it.
“Great… Another blind jump… This one blinder than the last,” I remarked to Zane, bringing up the blurb and giving at a once over, emerging no less confused. “Well… the basic intro makes this world seem a little more goofy, a little more cheerful than Japanese Mythopornotopia, though, so there is that,” I pointed out.
Zane, who’d been reading over my shoulder, added, “Earthland, Wizard Saints, Guilds, a currency called Jewel… Is this an Anime? It has the feel of one, but I don’t see a bunch of Japanese names… A kids book?”
I pointed to one of the drawbacks. “Kids books don’t usually have fan service,” I said.
He grunted, but nodded. “Soo… there’s no way to know, it seems.” He paused, then added, “You know, until we get there. That Flore place.” He pronounced it like ‘Floor’.
I snorted a little. “Not Flore… Fiore,” I pointed out, pronouncing it ‘fi-OR-eh’. “The Kingdom of Fiore.. population seventeen million… Maybe it’s French animation. Fiore sounds French… or Italian… and one of the local Wizard Guilds is apparently called the Oracion Seis… that could mean the Oracion Six in French. I’m going to guess French Animation.”
As I looked through the literal fuckton of massively expensive and not at all discounted powers, Zane whistled, “Hoy! Check it. Another companion import option that covers everyone! I love these!” He said, then noticed what I was looking at.
“Damn! The top tier has some nice stuff, but it costs 1000 CP to pick… 900 to get a random one. Ouch!” He said, leaning in a little closer. “Well, you might as well grab one.”
“Agreed,” I said. “None of the gear interests me… but these perks are called “Magics”… I wonder just how many of them I’ll be able to gank with Copycat Technique… and how much trouble that will cause me if I demonstrate that power?”
“No way to know until it happens, but I’m willing to bet that, with this many magics floating around, most people are fairly proprietary about their power-set,” Zane said. “You should be… circumspect.”
I nodded at his advice, then grinned. “I will. Or at least I’ll give it a try. Depends on how the world plays out in practice. I can do stealth if I need to,” I pointed out, then scooped up the dice to roll for my starting location and my starting location. I ended up seventeen years old again and in a town called Onibus for the first time.
Onibus was, at least according to the single sentence description, a theater town with a train station… At least I assumed that’s what ‘rail-enabled’ meant. Not much for a claim to fame, but the amount of information I had to compare it to wasn’t much. The other potential starting locations were the merchant town of Magnolia (home to Fairy Tail, which, it turns out is Fiore’s strongest Guild… I wonder what, exactly, they do? Are guilds production associations in this world, as they were in the real world, or adventurers, as they are often depicted in fantasy fiction?), Crocus (capital of Fiore and home to an arena for magical games… they probably mean combat and not some kind of formalized sport), Balsam (a spa town with ‘jumping nightlife’… I hope that’s not a euphemism for chinese vampires…), Hargeon (an old and beautiful port… and apparently the starting point for what must be the MC, a girl named Lucy Hartfilia… at least, she’s the only person mentioned in the intro by name), Oshibana (a town so boring it’s known for its central rail station… seriously, it’s apparently the kind of town that people spin conspiracy theories around because it’s that dull IRL), and Acalypha (which, despite a name which sounds like Apocalypse, seems to be only remarkable because the local guild is a merchant guild instead of a wizarding one.
Apparently, being a Wizard was what this story was all about (how very Harry Potter… not that it was the first story like that… but certainly the first jump I’d been to where every option was Wizard (or Witch… and I cannot tell you how much I despise that gendering of those titles. A Witch can be either, as can a Wizard… thank you very much, Miss Rowling… anyway).
Anyway, no matter which of the four Identities I picked (Drop-In, Guild Member, Citizen, or Starting Guildmaster), I’d get one C-Class (the lowest listed on the Machine’s screen) Magic for free… or I could trade it in for a hundred CP discount on a Magic from a higher tier. I could also get another hundred CP off the price if I rolled for a random magic inside a given tier, which was lovely, especially since I didn’t really have much idea what the limits of these magics were. All I really knew were that the list included eighty-five magics spread across C, B, A, S, and X-Classes and that, while some of them sounded silly and or useless, many of them sounded quite powerful… like God Slayer and Satan Soul.
There were even two different versions of Copy Magic, one of them A-Class, the other X-Class. Both allowed the user to copy someone-else’s magic, with the lower level one copying the target’s form as well, and the higher tier power allowing one to instantly copy, master, and then nullify an opponent’s magic. So, yes, it was possible. Didn’t tell me how unpopular it was, but the fact it was a known quantity meant that I’d be able to pass my ability off as, perhaps, a variation of the lower one. I certainly didn’t think I could afford any of the 1200 CP, undiscountable X-Class Magics. That would be stretching the budget a bit too much… and (to be honest) the all sounded extremely circumstantial and or broken… or both. Hell, the Great Fairy Magics promised ‘Infinite Magical Power’… at the cost of taking 700 CP worth of Drawbacks (one of them a six-hundred pointer)… for no points. I didn’t even want to consider what the in-setting and personal cost of using Fairy Heart (the infinite magic thing) would be.
As for the other X-Classes? Etherion was a nation buster magical attack, Face was a wide area magic eraser, and Greater Copy Magic I’ve already covered. That was the only one that was tempting… but again… too broken to be any fun.
Still, I’d be a fool to pass up a chance at such power entirely, so I settled on an S-Class Magic (where things were given names like ‘Time Magic’, ‘God Soul’, ‘Rules of the Area’, and the aforementioned ‘God Slayer’), especially as most of the lower level ones sound fairly… limited…. I confirmed that I was trading in my C-Class Magical Power to get coupon, fed the machine seven-hundred Choice in fifty-choice increments, and gave the fourteen-sided die that dropped into the machine’s hopper a toss. “No whammies, no whammies!” I called as I waited to see which S-Class Magical Power I’d end up with.
“Looks like you got Dragon Slayer,” Zane said, examining the screen as it displayed what the result of the roll was… which was good, since the actual dice was pounced by Ziggy and batted across the cobblestones. Got to admire the silly-boy’s restraint. He sometimes forgets the rules and uses Hyper-Beam in the house.
“Huh… not that I have anything against Dragons in general,” I commented, looking over the magic in question. “Apparently there are two types of this thing. Direct draconic tutelage… odd for Dragons to teach others how to kill dragons, but okaaaay?.. or you can have something called ‘Dragon Lacrima’ implanted in you. Dragon Tears? Odd.”
Zane nodded. “Lacrima Creator says that they’re crystals of solidified magic power. Lacrima. Crystal Tears I guess. Anyway, looks like Dragon Slayer lets you pick a magical element to become immune to.”
“Not just immune to it,” I said. “Looks like a Dragon Slayer can consume the element in any intensity less than Dragon Strength and recover expended stamina. That’s nice.”
“Less nice is the mandatory drawback that comes with it,” Zane pointed out. “Motion Sickness. Bleh. What kind of defensive power comes with a drawback like that.” I grunted in agreement. “So? Which Element you gonna pick, sprout?”
“I am not a plant-type,” I muttered, considering. “And it’s not defensive. Well, not purely. The description says that Dragon Slayer magic is highly destructive… so it must also include some hefty offensive abilities as well. Dunno what, exactly, since it doesn’t say, but must be something that can be used to take down a dragon. Maybe elemental power opposite the dragon type you’re meant to be fight?”
“Maybe. So? More Ice?” I shook my head. “Naw. Might as well pick up Fire. I’m already immune to Ice / Water attacks from being a Conduit and Lightning from being a Lightning Bender… but oddly Firebenders aren’t immune to Fire… just ask Zuko’s face.”
Toph, sitting on the couch nearby, said, “Ooo…. burn!”
“Exactly!” I replied.
“Oh no she didn’t!” Toph laughed.
“Oh yes I did! Take that Sokka!” I punched the air several times, then smirked at my own idiocy. “Wow… I’m lame… anyway… Immunity is better than raw power… I think. Soo… yeah. Fire Dragon Slayer it is.” I wondered what element(s) the canonical Dragon Slayer(s) might have.
“You are buying ‘Because I Have My Friends’, right?” Zane asked, pointing to the Companion Import option. It would cost me all my remaining CP, but it would grant each and every one of my companions a free C-Class Magic and four-hundred CP to spend. It even came with a discount on anything I personally had purchased… which at this point was Fire Dragon Slaying? or was it S-Class Magic? Hmmm… Either way, I would be needing Drawbacks if I was going to be anything other than a Drop-In in this strange and unfamiliar world… something I really didn’t want to do. Worldly knowledge seems like it would be key… otherwise we’ll end up wandering around going ‘Ummm…’ and getting into trouble. Not that we wouldn’t get into trouble anyway, but it’s nice to walk into trouble with eyes wide open than stumble in blindly.
The first drawback I settled on was the ‘Fanservice’ one I mentioned earlier. It was only a hundred, and (quite frankly) I can cope with the sudden and inopportune disappearance of my clothing once a month or so. A little embarrassment for enough CP to cover the cost of the Guild Membership Identity. That would get me some discounts, but more importantly, a background knowledge of this world’s particulars (and possibly languages).
The Motion Sickness from Dragon Slayer would also have been worth a hundred if it hadn’t been required. It essentially meant that being in or on anything with wheels would make me want to hurl… ditto for watercraft. Thankfully… I can fly and teleport, so vehicles weren’t a serious concern for me… but I had problems with actual motion sickness as a child back in Origin Earth… I suspected this was going to bring up those memories, whether I wanted them brought up or not… ditto my lunch.
There were others that I considered and discarded. Specifically the six-hundred pointers. I didn’t really know who Acnologia the Dragon King was, but apparently he could solo the entirety of the Fairy Tail Guild… you know, strongest in the land?… without a scratch. I didn’t need him gunning for me. Ditto Zeref, whoever he was, but he had an entire empire on his side and was considered worth as much as an enemy as Acnologia. That counted out two of the three, and the third would seed Lacrima-copies of all my abilities all over the world…
“What’s on your mind, not-sprout?” Zane asked, looking up from the tablet that had generated the moment I locked in the purchase of the Companion Import option.
“Zane… you’ve looked through the list of powers on offer here, right?”
“Does this world strike you as a place where even my most powerful abilities will really stand out? I mean, we’re clearly talking about elemental magics, eye-lasers… stuff like that. Tech Tree, Truth Speaking… There are a lot of them… but it doesn’t say they can use them at my skill level. Most of my abilities aren’t exactly world breaking.”
“You’re thinking of taking that Rain of Lacrima thing? The one that means the more powerful of your stuff is more likely to end up in enemy hands?”
“Yeah. I mean… it’s not ideal… but there’s already Ice Magic on the list… plus it looks like probably Ice Devil, Ice Dragon, and Ice God magic. How much more is a Conduit or a Bender?”
“History rewriting,” he pointed out.
I rubbed my chin, then nodded. “Yeah… I thought about that. Retcon is a powerful thing, but it can’t kill and it can only go back a month or so. Mmm… I’ll consider it.”
“Just as long as you don’t take Obsession, Outlaw, or Fairy Law,” Toph yelled from the couch. “Or Evil Twin!”
“Agreed,” Zane said. “We don’t need you in creepy stalker mode, hunted by the law, or, you know, picking fights with the biggest baddest Wizard Guild around. And an Evil You with an Evil one of us would be… weird.”
“Wasn’t planning on taking them. Was thinking of Bounty and or Ill-Adjusted,” I replied. ‘Ill-Adjusted’ would make me confused, shocked, or just weirded out by the magic of this world… that was worth a hundred. Bounty, worth three hundred, would stick a Dark Guild (read outlaw guild, apparently) on my tail… I didn’t mention that I was considering Evil Twin, which would only have the abilities I got locally… and only in magical item form, rather than in actual magical ability… and they’d be ignorant of my other powers. If I took that, I would be, perhaps, foolish to take ‘Rain of Lacrima’… or would I?
“She’s laughing,” Petra pointed out.
“It’s an evil laugh,” Francine added.
“She’s got a terrible nasty wicked idea,” AJ said, nodding sagely as if he’d known this was going to happen.
I burst out laughing harder, eyes twinkling. “It’s time to make some cheese, cats and kittens,” I said, licking my lips. Mmm… cheese. Taking Rain of Lacrima and Evil Twin and Bounty would grant me a total of eleven-hundred extra Choice to play with… and, if I played my cards right, I could minimize the risks from the worst of that combo fairly simply. If I needed one last hundred pointer, I could always get Ill-Adjusted… but I doubted I’d need it. Still, there was a certain humor in IA… heh… “I can use magic? Holy Shit! You have wings? Aaaaack! What’s wrong with you people?”… tempting… sooo tempting.
“Are you certain this is wise, oh fearful leader?” Kendra commented. “Remember what happened last time?”
“I do, and I do. Look, it’s simple. Rain of Lacrima doesn’t even rise to the level of a scaling enemy unless someone actually manages to get all the Lacrima… and I have so many powers, perks, and abilities that they’d probably be immobile trying to use them all. And even if they just have a few of the best? Well, we’ll cope. Because the Rain doesn’t include your abilities. And the Evil Twin only includes a superficial copy of one of you… at random maybe. At worst, an evil Ziggy.” I patted his tummy. “That said, there’s a really really good reason to take it.”
“And that is?” Velma asked.
“It specifically says that they’re everywhere… waiting to be implanted. Not already implanted. It also doesn’t say that they go away once the jump ends.”
“Yeah? So?” Cirno asked, missing the point even as everyone else (besides probably Ziggy) got it. There was general laughter as they realized the implication. “It’s not like we can use them, right?”
I flicked her forehead. “It’s exactly like that. They’re nothing more than tools… and copies of my own stuff… stuff I know how to use better than anyone in this world will. I have centuries or millennia of experience with some of these powers… complete with growth. I don’t know what their power level will be for the scaling abilities like Conduit, but Conduit can’t really be used against me. I’m not even certain how Cole and Kessler even managed to hurt each other.” I shrugged. “We shall see. Perhaps this is a bad idea, but I doubt it.
I navigated away from the drawbacks, confident that I had enough CP to cover my bases. See, the jump pretty much offered everything I needed to deal with the Evil Twin & Bounty… even with Rain of Lacrima’s added annoyance value. Guild Membership costs me a hundred, which meant that, between my new S-Class Magic, my Companion Import, and my Identity, I’d spent half the twenty-two hundred Choice… it was time to abuse drawbacks a bit.
Guild Members got discounts on five perks… six if you counted ‘And I’ve Made So Many New Friends’, which was a mostly unlimited group companion purchase… and six-hundred CP before discount. Thankfully, Guild Member had a second, much better capstone. It was called ‘Power of Friendship’… and for the discounted price of three-hundred Choice, it meant that the more allies I had fighting alongside me, the better my chances of victory would be. Can you say score? Even if it wasn’t a 100% chance, it could get damned close. (Resourcefulness, Fighting Spirit, Thought Projection, Combat Experience, Power of Friendship)
I tossed out ‘Fighting Spirit’ because it had a wonky price and wasn’t really worth having to spend the left over 50 Choice, and ‘Combat Experience’ because I had that in spades. And ‘Thought Projection’ was a significant step down from, you know, telepathy. But I did buy ‘Resourcefulness’. It was only a hundred, but it was the ability to make do with whatever was available in almost any given situation, or (at the very least), never have to worry about finding some way to survive in a hostile environment. That ate four-hundred, leaving me with seven-hundred… six of which was already earmarked for stuff that would make things sooo much simpler… and probably be useful down the line.
The first of those was the four-hundred pointer, ‘Second Origin’. No, it wasn’t another background. Rather, it appeared to be an entire secondary… I dunno what to call it. The document called it a ‘Magic Container’ or ‘Origin’; it was essentially (apparently) the thing inside you, the metaphysical whatever that sourced the magical energy a Wizard used to cast magic. I didn’t know if everyone had a Second Origin or if it was rare… but buying meant I had it and had it unleashed… unlocked… whathaveyou. An unleashed Second Origin grants the possessor a massive boost to their magical power, both in capacity and strength, which was hard to say no to. It could be used either in always-on mode to give a general increase all the time, or held in reserve and suppressed to save it for a trump-card in an emergency. It also, though I had no idea what this was, protected me from forcibly using ‘Third Origin’ against me… on me? I dunno. Was probably a bad thing.
The other earmark was for ‘Absurdly Lucky’… which wasn’t really that absurd, but it was nice, especially for the cost of two-hundred Choice. All it meant was that I’d tend to luck out in interesting ways… all the time. Getting missions that turn out to be more important than they should have been, getting a better reward than expected, running into important or interesting people… whatever the situation… things would have a tendency to just end up paying off for me better than they would have for other people. It was a luck perk I could get behind, a soft form of plot armor that guaranteed nothing besides making life a bit more interesting and rewarding.
So that left me one last hundred, and I considered spending it on a magical item called ’18x Gale Force Reading Glasses’… which, as the name suggested, allow one to read and comprehend text eighteen times as swiftly… you know, in 1/18th the time. A pair of them could be really helpful… assuming they weren’t something I could buy in jump or even make once I’d studied the local enchantment system.
After a few hours deliberation, I decided that the glasses were almost certainly the kind of thing that were readily available for purchase in setting. Nothing in the description suggested they were any different from a normal pair of what seemed like the kind of thing a magic rich society would turn out. That settled, I decided to opt instead for Magic Identification, which promised me insight into what type of magic was generating any observable effect… i.e. were my shots missing because the enemy had precog or because they’re slowing time or because they were moving at super speed. That kind of information could be very very handy… especially if, in future jumps, it scales to super-powers as well. While the general effect of each would be similar, countering each relied on different tricks or techniques.
Out of coins, I hit finalize on my build… only to get a pop-up on screen that said, “Due to a pricing change, you have 100 Choice remaining. Alternatively, you may choose a single C-Class Magic for Free.” I blinked, then checked what was going on. Somehow, during my build process, the price of an S-Class Magic had dropped, meaning that the 700 CP I’d spent on it was now the value for a random roll without out having to use the discount for trading in my base magic. I quickly checked over the document, looking to see if there was anything that I wanted at a hundred Choice… but there wasn’t.
Of course, I could have just turned off the Fan Service drawback, but I actually found that one funny, so I simply shrugged and bought ‘Writing Magic’, which would allow me to embed secret messages in books… messages that could last for decades and be read only by specific people. It wasn’t much, but it seemed amusing… and also like the type of thing I’d be very unlikely to actually witness someone using, and thus be unlikely to be able to Copycat. Plus, me buying (even for free) a C-Class Magic would discount any that my companions bought past the first… if any of them bought one.
And speaking of Companions… aside from the Pokemon Crew, most of my companions were still a little… umm… not quite talking to me after the events of the last jump. Zane seemed unphased by the whole process, in fact I’m pretty sure he enjoyed himself. The Mons seem to have taken it all in stride. Dyna especially… what with the tentacles and all… but the rest… umm… there was a lot of awkward silence and embarrassment and recrimination. Of the humans, only Toph and Uriel were speaking to me on anything like a reliable basis. Everyone else had retreated in on themselves. Kendra especially was speaking only in short snarky comments if she spoke at all.
Dunno what their problem is, or why they were specifically blaming me for what went down. It wasn’t like deeply embarrassing, humiliating, or down right creepy things didn’t happen to me too. Anyway, I promised them adventure and power, not safety. The universe is full of a great many unpleasant things and experiences, but it’s also full of amazing things and mind blowing experiences. It’s a trade off, and by following me, they gain abilities that help them cope with and fight off the darkness… even Kendra, who, let’s face it, would be dead if I hadn’t intervened. Being alive… and all but impossible to keep dead? Much better than the alternative. At least no-one got vored. Right? So, why the cold shoulder?
Okay, okay… I do know what their problem is… but it’s less trauma and more embarrassment, and that they’ll just have to get used to. If being embarrassed is the worst that happens in a jump, it’s been a relatively good jump.
Still, cold shoulder or not, one by one, they turned in their request forms, then vanished back into the depths of aggressive training, violent video gaming, or sullen drinking. I looked the reports over… Bloody hell, this jump could be a gamechanger. I’d asked each of them to supply a ‘nom de guerre’ for this jump, an idea of what kind of persona they’d like to have upon import, since there wasn’t much in the way of guidelines and it seemed like these Wizarding Guilds were more a collection of adventurers with a specific magical schtick than the Elminster style of all rounder.
Of course, I’d helped Ziggy with his build, getting him ‘Phasing Magic’ which allows the user to pass through solid objects without harming themselves or the object, but only worked over short ranges (like a couple meters maximum), as well as the ‘Strength’ perk, which meant that, even without magic, he’d be able to lift more and hit harder than those around him. To go with the boosted musculature, I also got him ‘Fighting Spirit’ perk, because the idea of the Zig just keeping going no matter how strong his opponent was was appealing and very in keeping with his mindset… in as much as he had one. As long as he had the will to stand and fight… you know, as long as he wasn’t actually KO’d, his body would respond to the imprimatur to keep on rockin’.
Sure, I hate to see him get hurt, but Ziggy is my stalwart little buddy; he likes gnawing on my enemies. I named him Ghost Thief Zig, of course and decided that he’d be a Siberian Wolf-Ferret this time. I had no idea if there was a Siberia in whatever world this was, or if there were Wolf-Ferrets in it either… but the system accepted my data input without a blip and displayed a truly impressive image of a speckled black-on-white ferretoid about the size of a cougar with a big fluffy wolf-tail and somewhat shaggy fur that looked like it would be a pain to brush… then again, that’s half the fun of pet ownership.
Zane had taken his chances rolling for two B-Class and one C-Class Magics (well, technically, he hadn’t needed to roll for the C-Class, but apparently, most of the Companions who’d taken C-Classes had drawn from a hat to minimize duplication among the eighteen C-Classes… well, seventeen, since absolutely none of them had thought my Writing Magic sounded like fun. Heathens.) For his C-Class, he’d gotten ‘Heaven’s Eye’, a magic that allows the user to zoom in their sight on objects or people up to five kilometers away, or to see through up to roughly fifty meters worth of solid material at a time.
The first B-Class he’d gotten was called ‘Sand Magic’, which allows the user to create and manipulate (big shock here) Sand, forming it into structures like castles or walls, or simply sandblasting the enemy. Since it could create sand, rather than merely controlling ambient sand… hell, just restoring and buffing beaches could be a valuable skill, depending on how fine of control on the type and grain size he creates he has… I wondered if he could create different material sands, or simply silica. White coral sand is valuable and volcanic obsidian and basalt sands have all sorts of interesting uses.
The second B-Class was, of all things, some lunacy called ‘Jet Magic’. I had to read the description five times before I actually believed what I was reading. Since rephrasing it would lessen the impact somewhat, I will quote it in full. “Using a magical jetpack, the caster either rockets around at high speed in the air or launches the jetpack at an opponent, latching it onto them and forcing them in a path determined by the caster.” Do you see this madness? A magical kidnapping jetpack… not an item… but a spell… somehow. I don’t even… I can’t… I am out of… words fail me.
Zane, of course, thought this was hilarious. Thankfully, he hadn’t made it part of his identity. Zane, the Sharp-Eyed Sandman he called himself, with a drawing of himself using a reiki finger gun… except generating sand bullets instead of spirit energy. He also pointed out that his sand could be a shield against damage… yes, thank you Zane, I have read Naruto. Well… some of it… and Toph was a top-class Sandbender. I’d seen her make recreations of entire cities out of sand with a single stamp. Girl was good… and now, I guess, so was Zane… or he would be once he practiced for a few decades. Maybe she’d tutor him… but then again, she was a really really bad teacher. Or at least spectacularly unmotivated most times. As for fifty meters of solid material? That’s about a third the long axis of an American Football Stadium… not the field… the entire stadium. Most buildings aren’t even close to that far across.
AJ had snatched up the B-Class ‘Sword Magic’, probably as soon as he saw it was offered, giving him the ability to channel magical power through any sword he could influence. Yes, I said influence, not hold. Sword Magic granted him telekinetic control of numerous swords at a time, and though the number of swords started at four or so, it was guaranteed to grow with time and practice… not to mention storage space.
His free C-Class was, of all things, something called ‘Twirl-Twirl Magic’, which allows its user to spin a single target around in a dizzying manner… or to spin the user like the Tasmanian Devil, all without making the user dizzy. I guess it might be useful… especially if he was wielding two (or more) swords as he spun. A built in protection on the spell limited the discomfort to the target to keep them from being killed or becoming nauseated, but that limitation could be overcome with enough practice or power… and intent to cause harm… though that would boost the effect to B-Class at the very least. He also picked up Resourcefulness, for fairly obvious reasons.
We’ve been together since the very beginning, him and me, through flush times and lean times…. what was the line? “Good times and bum times, I’ve seen them all and, my dear, I’m still here! Plush velvet sometimes. Sometimes just pretzels and beer, but I’m here!” Gotta love Sondheim. And gotta love AJ. Always nice to know one has a skilled swordsman to get your back.
He called himself ‘Sword Arm Ajax’, which implied a defensive mindset… or maybe I’m reading too much into the name Ajax. I don’t monitor my companions’ reading tastes so I’ve no idea how much Greek mythology AJ knows… He could have chosen the name simply because it starts with AJ. But he does like to stand between me and danger. Maybe AJ is short for Aegis. I wonder if Sword Magic can be modified to work with shields instead… but then again, would AJ be willing to use shields instead of the more Gallade-like swords? Probably not. I figured I wouldn’t ask. He’s a good kid… even though at this point he’s fundamentally the same age I am.
What’s a few decades difference over almost exactly 13,000 years. Oh… yeah. I’d passed my 13,000th birthday sometime in Touhou. Yay? Sometime in the next jump or two, I’d enter into my fourteenth millenium as a jumper. Ha. My perspective doesn’t seem to have changed much… or maybe it has and I don’t realize it. Regardless, like a child to its mother, AJ will always be a good kid to me… though I try to treat him with as much respect as he’ll let me. He’s precious to me… but the whole family is. Even when I’d lost my memory of who they were exactly, I still gathered them up and kept them close to me, protecting them and keeping them out of trouble as much as I could. The effort is what counts, right?
If AJ and Ziggy were the least changed, Francine was probably the most changed from what she originally was. Of all the Mon, she liked her mon-form least, reverting only seldomly… But then, the body of an Alakazam would eventually kill them, the frailty of the physical form coupled with an ever expanding brain meant that they suffered for their incredible intellects more than any other living pokemon did. Which is a shame… and makes her tendency to remain in human form, even if her age reverted when a jump ended or she died, understandable.
But the change wasn’t just about prefered form. Most of the Mon stayed in humanoid form most of the time. Dyna and Zane almost never changed back outside of a fight, AJ and Petra almost never changed back unless goofing off, and RayRay and Ziggy usually only changed back in their sleep or when fighting or trying to scare someone. But they all tended to act like they had as Pokemon. Ziggy was a goon, RayRay slept a lot, and the other four were combat monsters. But Francy? Deeply cerebral though she was, she took every opportunity to turn convention on its ear, to redefine herself as something other than a brainiac kobold-thing.
She used TK as seldom as she could, rejoiced in mindless activities, and was deeply athletic, despite her slender frame and monstrous intellect. Case in point? She took Dancer, a magic that allowed the user to act as a kind of cheerleader, boosting the fighting capability of allies within a ten meter radius by use of magical dance moves. It also boosted the user’s own agility, allowing them to dodge almost any attack that might come their way.
That said, she still enjoyed being an obnoxious know it all whenever she could. That part was too deeply ingrained in her genome and psyche. I guess that’s why she took ‘Thought Projection’, the ability to use a D-Class or E-Class spell to transmit a sort of hologram of herself to speak with friends or taunt enemies remotely.
Thanks to that combination, she named herself Mind Dancer Flora… which was very interesting. I wondered if she’d been reading my Amber books… Of all my mon, (save Zane), she seems to have become the most human… but then again, the psychic Abra start out among the most human of mon as it was, even more so than the equally psychic Ralts or the fighting types who mimicked human martial artists. Of all of them, the Abra was the smartest, and I had to wonder if their fascination with spoons reflected much the same desire as Ariel’s fascination with forks… a desire to understand the strange creatures that they share their world with.
Hard to say. Then again… sometimes it’s hard for me to think of myself as human any more. I’ve spent too much time as other things; Asari, Vulcan, Elven, Cat, Spirit, Tengu… God… But maybe Human means more than just race… ask me again in another 15,000 years.
Dyna, by far the least human to begin with and, by any metric, still the least human, also took two magics… The first was ‘High Speed’ which allowed its users to go fast. How fast? Very Fast… somewhere around ‘jet plane’ Fast, but didn’t allow the user to fly… but thanks to Soar from Touhou, Dyna didn’t exactly need it to. Combining the two should easily allow her to keep up with low mach fighter-craft… and she’d be much more maneuverable. ‘Thread Magic’ was the second, and allowed the wizard to create all manner of magical threads… many of which could replicate the threads of a spider for tensile strength and stickiness… only scaled up to human or even monster-size, but could do many other things as well, such as lassos, garottes, or bungee jumping.
Still, she called herself ‘Hyperspider Dianna’, which was in no way creepy (warning, the previous contains sarcasm)… especially after what ‘she’ pulled in Touhou-land. No, I’m not going to talk about it. Use your imagination… I can almost guarantee whatever you’re thinking of, it’s not nearly extreme enough… Except for you. The one in the fedora. Yeah… you? Too far. The fact that she also had bought half a dozen Magic Sealing manacle-shackle-collar sets with the last of her points (yes, that was all a hundred CP for them… though they wouldn’t work very well on the most powerful of mages… or anyone with lockpicking skills) was just a bit creepier than I was entirely comfortable with… But at least she was on my side, right? My very own Dragon… i.e. a BBEG’s enforcer, not the big flying lizard.
My other dragon… the big flying lizard kind this time, RayRay, never one to settle for less than the best, spent almost all her points to get a single random roll from the S-Class table… (I don’t know why she rolled instead of picking… maybe she didn’t have a clear picture of what she wanted). The funny thing was that the same thing that allowed one of my companions to get an S-Class magic (the discount from me having bought it) made S-Classes cheaper than A-Classes, got to love insanity like that, right? Anyway, her roll had snagged her ‘Gravity Magic’, the ability to control and manipulate gravity in a variety of ways, useful for pinning multiple opponents to the ground, increasing or decreasing the effective weight of anything in line of sight that the user is aware of, crushing weaker magics, or even suspending things like people and rain in midair. She named herself ‘Skyfisher’. Somehow the idea of her manipulating such a fundamental force to get a meal fits. It’s scary as hell, but it fits. Gravity Dragon RayRay, floating her meals up to her in real time. There is no escape… unless you like plummeting to your doom to escape the jaws of the skydragon.
She’d had fifty Choice left over, thanks to randomly rolling, and had picked up the Wardrobe item, which was (of course) bigger on the inside, and contained a copy of every outfit or armour set that had ever appeared in Fairy Tail. Sure, it was only cosplay copies, rather than fully enchanted, but it was a surprisingly cool thing for the giant (often annoyingly aloof) sky-leezard to buy that I sought her out for a noogie and to give her some Scooby-Snacks (she freaking loves these things. So weird.)
Her free C-Class Magic was, obviously, Sleep Magic. It did exactly what you think it did, allowing the user to put one or more individual targets to sleep, if they failed their saving throw versus charm… or however it worked in this world. Somehow, I doubted we’d be getting a crunch-complete copy of the rules any time soon.
Petra followed suit in the raw power category, clearly hoping for Machina Soul (the power to absorb technological items) but ended up with Devil Slayer, the power to kill powerful demons. It was a variant or relative of Dragonslayer, and like Dragonslayer, it allowed the Devilslayer to consume and utilize a single magical element, in Petra’s case ‘Darkness’, as well as rendering her immune to elemental Darkness attacks. Talk about covering weaknesses… a Steel Psychic immune to Dark. Get her immunity to Fire & Ghost and she’d be untouchable… almost.
When I asked her why she hadn’t just bought Machine Soul instead of rolling, she simply shrugged and said that ‘Resilience’ (a hundred point perk that would allow her to shrug off blows that could level a small house with only a little dramatic blood loss) was more important. She’d also bought a pair of magical headphones that could play any song stored in its unlimited magical database, which was important because sometimes she went through five heavily reinforced headphone sets a week if she was being aggressive… which she almost always was. What can I say, she likes her music… and fighting people taller than her. Did I mention she’s super short in human form?
She hadn’t given herself an identity, leaving that part filled in with a drawing of a crab holding a fork for some reason. Sometimes the logic of other beings confuses me. I guessed she might mean ‘Devil Crab’ as a play on ‘Deviled Crab’… which she eats, shell and all, with no hint of irony. They can’t all be winners. Still, I filled in the spot with actual words.
Uriel’s choices were a strange, almost whimsical blend of useful and gleeful. From the perk trees he snagged Resourceful and Pragmatism (Some people are all about standing their ground honorably, no matter what comes. That’s fine and dandy for them, but you always seem to know when it’s time to just get out while the gettin’s good.) That was the intensely practical side. For magic… he picked ‘Aera’, the ability to sprout wings and fly. Having passed up ‘Soar’ back in Touhou, I guess he felt the need to make up for it. Unlike Soar, the flight speed of Aera could be increased at the cost of expending more magic power, and Aera’s user could carry another person without noticeable strain.
It all seemed a bit whimsical and carefree to me, but maybe I was projecting a vision of the angelic Uriel… the Flame of God… but my much less angelic Uriel had chosen to name himself ‘Battlecrow’, which was probably more in the Valkyrie / Odin line than the Judeo-Christian model. He had a note attached to his build. It said, “The wings I generate with my magic will be a chromatic black, the kind that has an almost rainbow effect as light plays over it, and will constantly shed feathers that scatter themselves behind me almost at random. The system accepts that the effect can be suppressed or deactivated with a little concentration for those times where discretion is warranted, but I will otherwise not be turning it off.” He further noted that he planned to be quite elderly for the duration of the jump, in keeping with the Odinic theme I warranted.
I was, perhaps a little surprised by that, since although he wasn’t the only one of my companions who had been elderly when recruited (Toph had been in her nineties by the end of the second Avatar Jump… or second part of the Avatar Jump… either way, she was the eldest of my companions besides the immortal and functionally ageless RayRay.) he was the one who disliked being old the most. All of my companions that had been with me in Avatar had experienced prolonged aging. The twin jumps had taken just about nine decades between them, after all. Some had even died of old age. Uriel had not.
He’d begun the first jump as a one-hundred and thirty-year old Air-Nomad and ended it well over two-hundred years old and exceptionally cranky about it. I should point out that a member of the human race of the Avatar world should not have been able to live anything like two-hundred and twenty years. I have no idea how he managed it, especially without access to the med-bay. But he had. He had found refuge in the home of Bao’s family, and had become the tutor to the young man, and the two had remained close until Bao had died in his mid-sixties, a victim of the violent crime that had routinely plagued the still young Republic City.
Uriel, known in that lifetime as Dechen Champa, had become a fixture of the city, preaching compassion and forgiveness alongside passive-resistance and obedience to the law… for which he had been beaten multiple times by the criminal element for rousing the public to resist them, and then daring to refuse to back down in the face of their intimidation tactics.
But moving on… and speaking of Bao… Bao, clever, scholarly, always eager to prove himself useful, Bao… picked up the C-Class magic ‘Archive’… a strange little magic that gave the Wizard the ability to store information in a magic database and identify other magics that were used around them, but in a more analysis less intuitive way than the ID Magic Perk, which was fine and dandy and made a certain amount of sense. What made less sense was that ‘Archive’ also allowed the user to create solid-like UI Screens… and when I say solid, I mean as in defensive forcefield solid… that was a bit odd… but useful. An actual command console in the middle of a battlefield. It was, however, not a mobile system as we were to discover, so it was definitely more an overwatch type ability… but that was fine for our warrior-poet.
He also picked up the S-Class ‘Enchantment Magic’ (there was also a perk ‘Enchanting’, but it was all about making little utility magical gadgets that were, apparently, good for making pocket money, but not really on par with the rest of the magic available in-setting.) Enchantment Magic allowed the mage to bind their own magic into someone or something in order to boost or alter the target’s attributes. A skilled enough enchanter could, in theory, remove or transfer the magic of one being to another… or even rearrange the landscape of an entire continent. Apparently, in canon, Enchanters had granted items like swords human forms and emotions, and the Dragons had created the Dragonslayers via Enchantment. The only downside to the magic was that if the Enchanter was killed, every active effect that relied on them for support would automatically end… unless already made permanent by some other method.
He named himself ‘The Spellbroker’… Which I guessed meant that he was planning on playing the mercenary analyst. For a moment, I hoped this wouldn’t come back to bite us… then realized that, in all likelihood, everything we did was likely to do exactly that, no matter where we went or what we bought or did. Such was the nature of existence when one jumped from reality to reality at narratively important moments.
Speaking of wandering disasters… Ryoga (as expected) went for the most powerful and destructive thing he could find, the S-Class ‘Crash’. It was a perfect complement to his blossoming God of Destruction motif, as it was was billed as ‘The bane of the works of man.’ According to the description, With but a touch, the user of Crash forces gates to fly open and skip like rocks through the estate, castles crumble to dust, and weaker spells simply shatter into so much nothing. Bones Shatter… Towers… Shatter. Used carelessly, the strongest iron fortresses or greatest battleships could be reduced to scrap metal. Great… more human wrecking machine. ‘Ruddigore, The Living Calamity’ he named himself… and I had to agree. Then again, he still blushed when a pretty girl talked to him, so that’s something.
Thankfully, Crash was so powerful that it actually included its downgrade, the A-Class ‘Disassembly’, which could turn a target into many smaller, weaker copies of the original, or dice a large structure into cubes. Either way, after a short interval, the pieces would reform into the original without suffering any lasting harm.
For his free C-Class, he picked up ‘Transformation Magic’ which would allow him to change his appearance. As a beginner, that meant his body only, but an intermediate user could change their clothes and or voice, while a master could use it to gain other features such as wings or gills… or even use it to change sizes. It was, far and away, the most powerful of the C-Classes, in my opinion, but also quite possibly the hardest to master. It wasn’t the least combat useful however, since that dubious honor went to Writing Magic (yay me!).
Yoiko, being slightly more sane than her big brother, took the ‘Haggling’ perk, which made her more apt at spotting the quality of goods and thus determining the optimal price to pay for them, resulting in an average decrease in the cost of everything she bought by at least 10%. She also took ‘Agility’, which boosted her already formidable physical grace, and ‘Charisma’ which did a similar number on her social graces, where she had been (to be honest) a little lacking.
I love her (and her brother)… but they’re still Hibikis… i.e. a little dense, well-meaning but bonkers, and prone to wild over-reactions. The two of them once spent nearly a year refusing to talk to each other over the matter of a stolen bagel… which, it turned out, Ziggy had stolen… though of course they’d blamed each other… and destroyed several priceless works of art… ah well. I had all the bits in storage until such time as I found a form of magic that could reconstruct them flawlessly.
Yoiko also took ‘Binding Magic’ as her free C-Class… which is not nearly as useful as it sounds, and (in a way) far scarier. Rather than being a general use set of compulsions and gaeases and binding wards, it would allow her to generate soft tubes that capable of stretching and constricting so as to bind opponents or be used much like whips. I wondered if I should be worried about what ‘Yara the Lash’ might be plotting. Soft things are only soft until you apply ki and or accelerate them to the speed of sound.
Kendra, apparently sick of bullet hell battles, took the B-Class ‘Slowing Magic’ which allows the user to slow down opponents that are within a certain radius of them when they cast it, simply by altering their targets’ perception of time. However, anything not caught in the radius would be completely unaffected by the spell, even if it enters the radius later while the spell was still active, the C-Class ‘Celestial Spirit Magic’ (which allows the user to form summoning contracts with Celestial Spirits that they bring forth into the material realm through the use of Celestial Spirit Keys… and unlike other Celestial Spirit Mages, buying the CP version (instead of just buying keys, which were on sale in a different part of the document) meant that her Spirits would level with her… so to speak… Magic Shoes.
Those last were a pair of Lacrima-powered shoes that increase the wearer’s running speed to that of a cheetah. Slow and Speedy, the ultimate rope-a-dope, was clearly her intent. To anyone caught in the radius of her magic, she’ll become all but unhittable. If only she hadn’t made her report into a paper airplane and nailed me in the head with it from the top of one of the warehouse stacks. Good aim though. She called herself ‘Kay, The Unshadowed’, which spurred memories of Jet Li using ‘No Shadow Kick’ in Once Upon A Time In China… the idea being that it was so fast it didn’t cast a shadow. Since Kendra was a big fan of martial arts movies, I’m certain it wasn’t an accidentally comparison. Still, I felt she was making a bit of an error in her purchases… and that meant talking with her, despite her not wanting to talk to me.
“K…” I began, holding up my hands to show that I came in peace… and brough fresh triple chocolate fudge brownies. “Don’t give me that look… and please listen before you storm off like you’ve been doing all week. I think you might want to reconsider the shoes.”
“Why?” I could feel the bite in her words as I spoke to her through the door.
“Open the door please. You know you want some of these. They have mini-marshmallows that have been caramelized with a blow-torch.” That was her favorite. I do pay attention.
She opened the door, eyed the brownies, then snagged the plate. “You have twenty seconds to make your case,” she said tersely.
“They sound like something that can be bought in setting for cash,” I pointed out.
“For how much cash?” she asked.
“I don’t know. But if I can find them for sale, I bet I can make you some… If not, I’ll apologize… but buying things with CP that can be stole, bought with currency, or made… it’s… sub-optimal,” I pointed out.
She glared at me, then snarled, “Fuck optimal.”
“At least ask the system what the fastest race is… it’s a fantasy world… maybe there are supernaturally fast people around?” I suggested.
She blinked. “The Jumptree doesn’t say anything about races.”
I nodded. “You’re right. It doesn’t… but can it hurt to ask?”
She glanced between me and the brownies, then opened the door and moved to where her tablet was, setting down the plate and opening up the search dialogue in the help menu. After several seconds it spit out an answer and she muttered, “… it says Weretigers are noted for their ferocity and speed.”
“Will it let you be one?” I asked.
“Yes…” she said slowly, “For 50 CP. But it warns that they’re uncommon and not well liked. And somewhat unpredictable.”
“Something to consider. And it’s half the cost of the shoes. That’s two more keys if you pay CP for Corvus and Pictor.” Celestial Spirit Mages got three keys for free and a discount on any others. She’d already selected Corvus (a thieving raven to harass her enemies) and Pictor (a near perfect artist that could paint flawless images of anyone described or seen), as well as Aquila (a massive eagle-harpy that was strong enough to carry an adult human and (in the immortal words of Penny) ‘Combat Ready’). The problem was that Corvus and Pictor were as cheap as Spirits came (Fifty Choice) and the freebies from Celestial Spirit Magic allowed up to three two-hundred Choice keys.
She eyed me suspiciously for a very long moment, then said, “Twenty seconds are up. I’ll send you the revision.” I knew that was my cue to leave.
When I got back to the kitchen, I found the revision waiting for me. She’d bought the weretiger… and moved the keys, freeing up their slots for Monoceros (a teleporting and incredibly paranoid unicorn with healing powers) and Noctua (an owl capable of using low-level wind magic). For celestial beings, these spirits didn’t sound particularly powerful… but then again, she’d gotten five of them for the low low price of a freebie and fifty Choice. And, though I hadn’t mentioned it, there was a very good chance that these Keys could also be bought in setting as well… It just wasn’t worth the hassle. That’s the problem with being all but immortal… sometimes your personal feuds can last literal ages. Then again, we also had practically all the time in the world to make up, now didn’t we?
I moved on to Joy, who, as a disciple of the gun and preparation, had signed up for the ‘All the Guns Ever’ club, taking the C-Class ‘Gun Magic’ which allowed its user to create various types of magical bullets (usually with elemental enchantments, but also such weirdness as candy bullets or bubble bullets). When those bullets were loaded into the mage’s guns and fired, whatever effect was on the bullet would be triggered, effectively turning a gun into a magic wand that did something other than merely cast ‘Bullet’.
Of course, ‘Gun Magic’ by itself wasn’t enough for the AtGE club. No, for that one needed look no further than her second purchase, a strange sounding magic called ‘Requip’ which allowed the user to summon equipment they owned from a handy pocket dimension (i.e. the cosmic warehouse) while in battle. And of course, if you could summon equipment from that dimension, the corollary was that you could banish it there as well. That was cool enough, but hardly worth the title of ‘Requip’… because that was exactly what it did. In the heat of battle, a Requip Mage simultaneously summoned new equipment and banished old equipment, all but instantly swapping their current loadout. Stronger users could even switch equipment many times during a single battle.
While it wasn’t infinite ammo, we do have thousands of guns in the Warehouse’s arsenal. If Joy started magicking up bullets, she could load dozens or hundreds of different mission specific loadouts and just summon the gun she wanted at any given time. In fact, Requip was so interesting that I even (briefly) considered swapping out something from my build to buy it, but didn’t for two reasons. First off, I don’t have a lot of weapons that are anywhere near the power of Soul of Ice or armors that rival VIctoria… maybe I should start working on that. And second… with Joy to study, I was absolutely certain I’d be able to duplicate the magic she was using. It was, after all, my Warehouse she was tapping into. Joy named herself ‘The Shooter Saint’… I probably would have gone with ‘The Sniper Saint’ myself… but Joy’s a bit more close combat than I am. Her idea of a gunfight is one where the combatants can see each other’s eyes. My idea of a gunfight involves orbital mechanics… and possibly history manipulation… oh yeah… that’s a thing. Can’t actually kill someone directly, but if I fire a bullet and then shift history just enough so that the target is standing exactly where the bullet will hit? Blamo. In Touhou, I’d only ever done it with non-lethal attacks (everything in Touhou is pretty much non-lethal)… but the principle should work regardless of killing intent.
If Joy was almost eager to combine her old techniques with magic, Ahab seemed a practically leery of the whole magic thing… even after all these years, so he took the ‘Leadership’ and ‘Read the Atmosphere’ perks, settling for the fairly mundane ‘Body Restriction Magic’ to round out his build. Why did he take that one (aside from the fact that it was free?). When I asked, he claimed it was because BRM seemed more like a combat technique, than a magical effect since actually utilizing its effect (it caused a target’s limbs to fall asleep, effectively immobilizing them briefly) required actual physical contact with the target. It could also be shrugged off with strong enough magic or an indomitable enough will. I had the feeling he’d be applying it via the vehicle of CQC and wondered if his eschewing the potential range effectiveness of it would make the relatively weak magic more potent. Things tend to work out that way, I’ve noticed. Self imposed limits often magnify the effectiveness of magic. I’ve wondered why multiple times, but never heard a convincing theory on the subject that didn’t boil down to ‘Because reasons!’
As for his perks, ‘Leadership’ was about what one would expect, a straight up boost of about 25% to his ability to take charge of situations and boss people around in an effective and not asinine fashion, while ‘Read the Atmosphere’ was a global boost to communication based on his knowledge of (I kid you not) dialogue scripting. Seriously, it gave him a better sense of how tense a situation might be and how to respond accordingly, either to exacerbate that tension, or ease it. The first seemed to be an odd metric… how do you get 25% better at something almost immeasurable like that… I guess by raising your skill total from 8 to 10. Thanks Gygax. You’re welcome EssJay. The second… wow… that was meta. It essentially assumed that every conversation was being actively scripted in real time. Deep… and disturbing. Were we characters in a story? Wasn’t that always the question? Or did it matter not the slightest? Regardless, for an identity he simply drew a smiley face… with one horn. Oh, good lord… he was going to resurrect the identity ‘Venom Snake’, wasn’t he?
I checked the system… I was 80% correct. He’d psyched me out and gone with ‘One Horned Viper’… which was something of a blending of One Winged Angel and Venom Snake… I liked it. I added a note into the system to give his local incarnation the skin pattern of the Horned Viper… but with the scales varying in smoothness depending on his mood… spiky when angered, smooth when enjoying himself. The system asked if I wanted to give him a snake’s nictitating membrane (the second sideways eyelid) and I confirmed, then added in Viper Eyes to complete the picture, though I did send the whole thing to Ahab’s PDA for confirmation… what, you thought we were doing this on paper? Please… this is the… never mind… Human Epochs are a meaningless distinction inside the Warehouse. Leave it so say we are a tech-savvy bunch. I was certain he’d not have a problem with the eyes… he’d had them for a decade in RWBY.
Toph, ever one for simplicity and a classical touch, took ‘Palm Magic’, which was, by far, the most martial-arts-like of the magical abilities on the list. The Palm Magicienne could channel magical power into the palms of their hands, allowing for potent strikes capable of smashing boulders, among other effects. While it wasn’t the legendary ‘Buddha’s Palm’ technique, nor even the lesser but still impressive ‘Infinite Hedron Palm’ (also known as Boundless Forms Palm), it had the major advantage that, since it wasn’t a martial technique, it could (in theory) be combined with one of the above… if we ever got our hands on the manuals for them.
She’d actually wanted ‘Earth Magic’ (naturally), but as it was A-Class, the only way she could have gotten it was by blind luck… or by giving up her free C-Class and spending all her points. The reason she hadn’t was because she’d wanted ‘Green Magic’, a non-combat magic that allowed its users to greatly accelerate the growth of plants (especially small ground-cover types, but also trees) and to halt desertification. I approved of her sense of balance… Atura doubly so… shame more of the Magics weren’t non-combat in nature. Slap the ground, make grass grow!
In the box for identity she’d put ‘I am Toph.’ Of course she had. Sigh. Sometimes she was such a… stick in the mud.
I sent her a PM. “Toph the What?”
“What?” she replied.
“I mean,” I typed back, “What version of Toph do you want to project to the world we’re going into?”
Frowny face, nostril puff, hand with single finger raised. “There is only one Toph.”
Laughing face, panda face, old woman, police badge. “Au Contraire. There are many.”
Tongue sticking out, red slashed circle. “Nuh huh.”
By that time I’d reached her location in the Lifestream garden where she was planting rice. “Yes, huh,” I said, ticking off on my fingers. “There is Toph the rebellious child who became master of the arena and invented metalbending; Toph the creator of her world’s first police force and mother; Toph the reclusive swamp hermit; Toph the Magi goddess; Toph the sarcastic dragon; Toph the amateur detective; Toph the badger girl who beat up giant monsters with a pair of fans… even Toph the dominatrix. There have been many Tophs. As long as you travel with me, there will always be more Tophs. It’s part of the package as both a companion and as a living being. We are never who we used to be, only who we are becoming.”
“Baaah!” she snorted, glaring at me. “Too much thinking, not enough punching.”
“I’d say you need to get laid, but…” I shrugged my shoulders and smirked at her.
“Hahah!” she wagged a finger at me, looking very old woman-like despite her youthful form. “I didn’t have nearly as much sex as you did, slut!”
“I wasn’t slutty!” I protested. “I was being punished for being a thief!”
“So you say,” she snorted. “You certainly got caught a lot!”
“Regardless…” I said, bringing us back to the topic at hand. “Toph the What?”
“You’re changing the subject!” she accused, which was, rather tellingly, the pot calling the kettle a cooking device.
“No, you’re trying to change the subject and trying to shift the blame to me to cover it.” I grinned, then began that most deadly of all tactics… pop-psychoanalysis. “I know your tactics, bitch. You don’t like introspection and you’re trying to avoid picking a name for yourself. If you don’t pick in the next twenty seconds I’m going to name you Lotus Head and you’re going to have to live with it for a decade.”
She frowned, thinking hard for about half the time limit, then just shrugged and said, “I… huh… okay.”
“What?” I asked, a little confused. “Okay what?”
“I’m calling your bluff,” she said.
“You want to be Lotus Head Toph for a decade?” I asked, incredulous.
“No,” she shook her head. “Just Lotus Hat.”
“Like that Buddha guy.”
“That…” I considered the effort needed to explain that in Buddhist symbology the Crown Lotus of Enlightenment wasn’t a hat… then shook my head and said “Fine. You got it, Lotus Hat it is.”
“I am Buddha Palm!” she anounced, doing her Blind Bandit Victory Pose (legs spread wide, hands on hips, head thrown back like a rooster crowing).
I grumbled, “You are a git with dirty toes.”
“That too,” she agreed, then turned back to her planting.
“You’ve also got a hundred Choice unspent,” I pointed out.
“Meh,” she said.
“Meh? Does that mean you don’t care what it’s spent on?”
“Not really?” she half-asked. “Why? Do you?”
“I typically prefer my companions to make informed and wise decisions. But for you, oh flora chapeau, I think I’ll just give you Resilience and be done with it… unless you protest in five-four-three-two-one-too-late!” I counted off really rapidly.
She flipped me off. She’s very fond of that gesture.
I laughed as I wandered off. Good to see at least one human who wasn’t letting the events of the last decade weigh them down.
If Toph was the least affected among the humans, Velma was the most, though not by the perversity. In fact, she’d taken to that like a duck to breadcrumbs. Rather, she was still feeling powerlag at being so far behind all the rest of the companions (and essentially on par with Cirno, who is one very powerful little ice fairy) and had been shaken by the appalling power level of the residents of Gensokyo, barely contained as it was by the nature of the Danmaku Battle System. So, it was not at all surprising that she wasn’t at all certain she’d be able to deal with this new and, quite obviously, similarly overpowered setting. So much so that nearly two more weeks passed and she still hadn’t done her build. We only had four days left.
It took Zane, oddly enough, to calm her down and reassure her that, even if the world was against her, she’d have us behind her. I think she responded to his essential dogginess because she eventually submitted her form, though she, unlike any of the others, went for a single specific A-Class magic rather than any of the perks on offer. The magic she picked, ‘Dark Ecriture’, was one of the highest forms of ‘Writing Magic’ and combined that technique with another called ‘Solid Script’ to produce a rune-focused form of magic that could be written on any surface, or even in thin-air, and could be used to produce an almost unlimited number of effects, from traps and barriers to wings and weapons, or even less tangible things such as pain, fear, or bravery. It could be used to buff or debuff, or even to teleport and transform the user. The limits of Dark Ecriture seemed to be set not by any fundamental cap, but rather on the magical reserves and skill of the user.
It could, of course, produce the C-Class effects of the far weaker ‘Writing Magic’ with ease or (with a bit more difficulty) the B-Class effects of the rather odd ‘Solid Script’ which allowed the user to cast spells by writing words corresponding to the effect… for instance writing the word ‘FIRE’ (or in the case of Dark Ecriture, the rune for ‘Fire’) in the air would create an image of the word or rune ‘FIRE’ made out of fire that could be launched at opponents. It couldn’t be used to bring about any spell more powerful than the caster could otherwise use, and wasn’t nearly as flexible as Dark Ecriture was, but it wasn’t nothing.
Solid Script sounded weird to me… but then again, a magic GUI that doubled as a shield was pretty weird too. SS sounded highly flexible too, since it pretty much allowed almost any effect that could be summed up in a simple word or phrase, but DE was a better choice. I’m not certain what the limits of a master of that strange magic would be, but I suspected Velma’d find out.
She also included a dozen potential identities, asking me to pick one. They included ‘Red One’, ‘Groupthink”, and ‘Mother’, but none of them really spoke to me, nor did they really capture her essential Velma-ness.
I suggested “How about ‘Vera Truth’?” which got me a sour face in reply.
“Vera?” she huffed, which made her sweater do very interesting things. “What am I, grandma?”
“Short for Veritas?” I suggested, defending my position and trying not to be distracted by the bouncy-bouncy… down girl.
“So I’d be True True?” she frowned, thinking about it and not liking the implications. Finally she snorted, “At that point, I should be Trueheart.”
“Verity Truehart?” I offered, by way of compromise.
“I… sure. Better than Vera. Oh… I had a thought. Can my Script Ogham rather than Futhark?”
I blinked at that, then shrugged. “I don’t know. I’m not even certain this world’s runes are Futhark. But you’d have to check the system. Why?”
“Because no one knows Ogham… well, no one living in our world… well, on Earth… I think. I mean, I guess it’s possible some one on my Earth knows it… probably less likely that anyone on your Earth did… does… is it always this confusing to talk about? Anyway, I figure that, if I’m spelling things out, some people are bound to know Futhark, and spelling things out first gives people an idea of what’s coming if they’re fast enough. Much better to use a language they don’t know. And anyway… how can runes not be Futhark? Runic script only comes in Elder Futhark, Younger Futhark, and Anglo-Saxon Futhorc.”
I laughed at that idea, but not mockingly. “Dear heart… You’re thinking of runes like a linguist or scholar. While, yes, on Earth, the Germanic alphabets were runic… there were actually others that predated the Elder Futhark and probably some other lost contemporaries of the others… they did descend from Phonecian by way of Greek and Italic, just like the Latin Alphabet. But that’s only true on some Earths. In fantasy settings, runes are magical symbols, letters of power that form the basis of many magical systems. As for Ogham? I can’t say as it would make a particularly deep symbol set. The variations of symbols are very slight… too easy to make a mistake. And yes, trans-reality trans-temporal tenses can give even Francy a migraine. But to get back to the topic at hand, wouldn’t it be better to use a language with a reasonably large symbol-set that’s also not typically found in fantasy literature?”
“I… I guess. But I don’t know any of them. What would you suggest?”
“Well, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean culture produces a huge amount of potential settings, so let’s discount them. Let’s also discount Devana and Arabic. Cyrillic and Greek are possibilities, as is Hebrew. But you want something fluid yet powerful looking… how about Tibetan Uchen script? Some very dangerous people are likely to know it if the setting is right, but aside from them, I think very very few people in most settings will know the faintest thing about it.”
“I don’t even know Tibetan.”
“Yeah… me either. Consider it a learning exercise. Harry Dresden postulates that using a language you don’t know to cast magic helps shield your mind from the strain… I don’t know if he’s right, especially in worlds that lack the horror of the DresdenVerse’s magical system, but I bet it will make your magic more potent to be written in words you only know as vessels of power, words you can fill with personal intent independent of their normal meaning or usage.”
“I… guess that makes sense. Also means I’ll need to practice each new word carefully.”
“It does at that, yes,” I agreed, then left her to face a crash-course in Urchen from VIvian. She’s much much more advanced a teacher of languages than Rosetta Stone… even the Mass Effect Universe’s edition 80.
With less than a day remaining before insertion, I did a headcount and realized that Cirno, who’d spent her time pouting that Icemagic wasn’t on the list, then pouting that she couldn’t afford Molding Magic (Ice) once it was pointed out to her, then pouting because she actually could afford it (she’s not good at maths) but we pointed out she could already do that and we were being mean…. had not actually finalized her build.
What she had done was write down the name of the C-Class she’d specifically requested, rather than drawing it out of the hat (‘Flattening Magic’, which allows the user to flatten their bodies to a paper-like state, which can be useful in slipping through tight spots or dodging attacks) on a piece of paper, then half a muffin recipe, a picture of a fox with three ears fighting what looked like a space-heater. She’d stapled that page to her tablet, cracking the screen, then left the entire thing in the kitchen sink with the dirty dishes from breakfast.
I figured that taking ‘Flattening Magic’ made sense from a Danmaku (Bullet Hell) perspective… you know, minimizing one’s hit box and all that… though she’d missed the point that FM only worked from one direction of course… I checked in the VMoD to see if it had actually recorded her purchase, only to discover that she’d actually made two random C-Class picks and ended up with Wool Magic and Smoke Magic… which, sure, had cost her fifty CP each after discounts from me and the randomness… But I had to wonder if the others had tricked her into taking the last two slots, since that actually meant that every single one of the eighteen C-Class magics had been taken exactly once. I consulted AJ, who explained that, rather than Cirno being stuck with what was left, Zane had suggested that the Ice Fairy get first pick… which was pretty decent of him.
Still… she’d only spent a quart of her points and all she had to show for it was the ability to create and control fluffy, comfortable pink wool so as to distract opponents or break falls and the ability to shape pipe smoke (of a color of her choice) to form fragile decoys of oneself or to strike enemies with smoke fists.
When I found her, asleep in VIvian’s upper branches, and asked her about the powers (which sounded next to useless to me), she seemed… strangely pleased with the situation… and pulled out a bubble pipe… baka. Well, maybe she’d be able to make something useful of them… but since this was Cirno, I doubted it intensely.
I doubted it to the point where I hadn’t even bothered asking her for a nom-de-guerre because I honestly wasn’t certain I could explain to the self-proclaimed genius what one was or why she might want it. Unfortunately, she’d clearly heard about it from one or more of the others and so she’d decided that she was going to be ‘Flatsmoke Woolbottom’… which as names go just made me want to hurt something. Still, she would not be dissuaded and imposing my own vision of how she should be in a jump wasn’t the behavior of a reasonable entity… it would be a form of spiritual tyranny and I couldn’t do that. Autonomy is to be treasured, not quashed… especially if I wanted to avoid any potential ‘Revolts in Heaven’ as it were. She did throw a tantrum when we told her she had to be human… after the system rejected her assertion that she was a fairy.
I did end up making her other purchases for her, as getting her to focus on the list was proving functionally impossible. Well, okay, I didn’t really make the choices. I just explained what each of the perks available was and why she should take it. She wanted to take more magic, of course… but her choices were, in order, Sound Magic, Guitar Magic, Perfume Magic, Fortune Telling, Light Magic, Clone Magic, and Changeling… all of which were B-Class.
The first three were rejected on behalf of group sanity. The idea of Cirno making auditory or olfactory mayhem at all hours of the day or night did not appeal. The next two were rejected as being essentially useless at Cirno’s level of skill. and the last two were were rejected because the idea of Cirno with either was frankly terrifying. Clone Magic would make more of her… and Changeling would allow her to swap people’s minds between their bodies… and if a swap wasn’t reversed in thirty minutes, only another use of Changeling could fix it. And yes, the magic stayed with the body.
Frankly, I’m not certain I’d trust anyone on my team with Changeling… myself least of all. I’d be far too likely to start swapping the oppressed into the bodies of their oppressors… which might be karmic justice, but was also existentially wrong and ethically unsound.
But back to Cirno. In the end, she picked ‘Magazine Material’ which gave her pin-up looks… when she didn’t revert to her smaller juvenile state. Apparently that was as mature as fairy bodies got. The choice I all but tricked her into taking was called ‘Wily Wizard’. It probably wasn’t worth it, but it promised that she’d have greater understanding of and finger control with her magic… hopefully heading off the worst of the chaos… though I was certain one of the others would make up for the reduction almost immediately. Le sigh.
And that was that… or almost. “Atura? You coming?” I asked, turning my voice and attention inward.
“Indeed,” she said, sounding intrigued… I think. If Fairies are hard to cope with, Spirits are even more inscrutable and alien. “I believe it would be best to take my pick of one of the high level S-Class magics, rather than chance an unfortunate roll on the A-Class list. That is, since we cannot afford Lacrima Creator, obviously the best choice from it’s price tag among the perks.”
I sighed. “Not everything is about cost. Just because something costs more, that doesn’t make it automatically or axiomatically better. Individuality and personal choice matter a great deal. You could take something you find interest instead of going after pure power,” I pointed out as gently as I could, not really knowing if Atura even understood the concept of rudeness or personal affront.
“I find everything interesting,” the Spirit said.
“Oh,” I said, thinking hard.
“While balance dictates utility over randomness… in this case, utility and randomness combine in one perfect package. With frugality tossed in for good measure.”
“I… see your point,” I allowed, wondering what she’d want to spend the remaining Choice on. “Is there any one of them you are most interested in?”
“Rules of the Area seems nice,” she said.
I thought about that, then asked, “You mean the one that allows you to just make up rules that have to be followed and can cover an area the size of a small city? Yeah… I can see that. I think you’d be scary with that, personally. But you could just take it outright. You don’t have to roll the dice.”
“Not rolling the dice means the cost of an S-Class is four-hundreds,” she pointed out pedantically. “Rolling the dice means the cost is two-fifty. Much more reasonable.”
“But do you have a plan for how to spend the remaining points?”
“I do not,” she admitted. “Still, I find the uncertainty of result and the anticipation of a serendipitous discovery or fortuitous outcome most appealing… even the potentiality of disappointment has created a certain… frisson? I guess you’d say.” Her voice (which was also mine, but with entirely different inflection and cadence) carried with it a strange, otherworldly blend of emotions, like an excitement-contentment-resignation swirl.
“Is there anything on the list you’d rather not end up with?” I asked.
“The Take Over line does not appeal to me, and R.I.P. seems excessively grim and final.” Since the three Take Over magics in the S-Rank (God Soul, Satan Soul, and Machina Soul) were all about transforming oneself in various ways, I could understand her reservations, and R.I.P., which could put someone into a permanent sleep state… and which did nothing else apparently, was tantamount to just being a murder machine with no other purpose.
“Understood. I shall attempt not to roll any of them,” I scooped up the die and asked, “Shall I give them a toss?” As soon as I got her pulse of agreement, I let the semi-spheroid fly. Ziggy watched it go by and didn’t so much as twitch. He was in his ‘I am speedbump’ mode, not even moving when I walked by to check on the result. “Let’s see what the number says… 3. That’s ‘God Slayer’. Not plotting against me, are you?” I teased.
“I assume that was an example of sardonic humor?” she asked. “But no, I am not. I think… Chaos God Slayer… is that a magical element? Or perhaps Death God Slayer… or Evil God Slayer?… All such entities seem like they’d be unlikely to maintain the Balance… at least those who would revel in the use of their element. A proper Death God should not bring about death, but merely oversee it… Unless there is too much life… what is it that you call such things… Cancer?” I realized this was her version of rambling and just let her run. From Chaos Gods to Cancer… seemed about right.
“Er… yes,” I confirmed. “I can’t say disharmony is an element… but Chaos as it is often depicted is, in fact, considered The Primordial Element from which all others arise… Order out of Chaos, Balance out of Imbalance… so I’d think Chaos would be a good choice. If not now… later perhaps.” I considered certain universes and nodded. “Yes… very good choice.”
“Should I choose a name to be known as?”
I could not tell from her tone if the idea appealed to her or not, so I merely responded, “I… don’t know. In either of the two jumps you’ve been imported to, have you gained any memories or persona… no form obviously…”
“Not per se. A… sense of the local spirit world perhaps, but that seems to be the limit of it. Then again, memory is even more identity for us spirits. My… our nature… could be changed. You mortals… or whatever you are… are the sum of your experiences and memories, but they do not define you. That is… less true for us spirits. We are who we are. To change that would change me forever. Humans can be other than they believe themselves to be. They can do things that are out of character or are surprising.”
She paused for a very long moment, but I could sense she had more to say. There is something to be said for sharing your existence with another discrete being. Granted, I was doing it with two of them, but Atura was always inside me, while VIctoria was more external. Finally, she asked, “Do you… there is a story of a venomous insect and a small mammal and a river…”
“I know it,” I confirmed. “The Scorpion stings the Fox as they are crossing the river, even though it means both will die, and when the Fox asks why, the Scorpion explains that it is merely its nature.”
“Indeed. While we spirits do have free will, it is more constrained than corporeal life’s free will, and every time we exercise it, it changes us on a fundamental level. What do you call them… Fallen Angels? These are messenger spirits who rebelled against their nature and became something else? Fundamentally defined by the choice they made… as Raava, once the spirit of Peace and Harmony, became ‘The Avatar Spirit’ when she bonded with Wan.”
“Ah… yes. I understand now. Then giving you another name… that changed you, didn’t it? By doing that, I have already done so, haven’t I?”
“Yes. I was the Origin Spirit, Twilight, Balance… now I am the Manifest Spirit… but I am also Atura. Because you think of me as such,” she said. “Do not fret. I cannot be other than I am, but unlike you mortals, I cannot dislike that which I am… though I think, thanks to contact with you, I could, perhaps, regret becoming something else… if I did not like the new me. But that is merely supposition. Please, continue to think of me as Atura.”
“I shall continue to do so,” I assured here.
“I thank you. Though I do worry,” she said, introspection flavoring her communication. “There is an implication that I would, should I use this, be consuming Chaos, making it part of myself. Should that worry… why are you laughing?”
“Allow me to show you something,” I said, scooping up the Ziggy and hoping over the back of my favorite sofa to land in the main family room. “VIvian! Main Screen, Mandlebrot Set, keep expanding it slowly.”
“W… what are we looking at?” Atura asked.
As the swirls of colorful madness whirled around the appalling dark and foreboding abominations of darkness, I explained. “This is Chaos, in Mathematical terms.”
“It is… for lack of another word… lovely,” she said, sounding stunned.
“It is,” I agreed. “It is also infinitely recursive. No matter how far you zoom in or out, the pattern it creates repeats infinitely. And the line around the black bug shape… it has infinite fractality. It is a 1 dimensional shape with a fractal dimensionality of 2. There are no end to the ramifications and kinks of the line,” I explained, running my fingers through Ziggy’s soft belly-furr.
She considered for several repetitions, then asked, “How does this address my concerns?”
“Because, Atura, my friend… all Order is Chaos taken far enough to reach Equilibrium… and what is Equilibrium but Balance? Chaos is change over time. When the system has too much chaos, it unbalances itself one way… when it has too little, it cannot adapt and an outside force unbalances it. To consume Chaos is to use it as a fuel for Balance. You reduce the Chaos in the system until it is at an acceptable level, a state of Balance between the destructive and the constructive… perhaps a bit more towards the constructive… progress is good, growth is to be encouraged as long as it isn’t harmful.”
“I knew I liked you,” she said.
“Yes well… I like you too… now I have to get everyone ready. Any idea what else you’d like to purchase?”
“I think that Resilience would be a good purchase, assuming it will have any effect on something like me that has no corporeal form. And perhaps the Magical Identification perk that you have… thus I will not have to ask you to explain quite so often,” she said after a time.
I hmmmed, then shrugged, “Don’t know about Resilience, but I doubt it could hurt. You ready?”
“I was born ready,” she confirmed. It did not sound like a brag, but merely a statement of fact. I doubt she even knew she was quoting a movie.
“You were born?” I asked, wondering how that worked.
Her ‘glow’ was almost smug. “All things have a beginning, all things have an ending.”
“So they say,” I replied, but I had to wonder if that was, in fact, true. “Just don’t go picking fights with any Gods without consulting me first,” I asked. “We share an existence. If you piss off a God, I’ll probably have to fight it.”
“I shall do my best to not pick fights I do not feel I can win,” she said.
“I… it’ll have to do.” I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the prospect… but realistically, if I actually ran into a Chaos God, odds were that I’d have to fight it. I don’t even know how one runs from a Chaos God… or any God, really.
I looked around at my crew, gathered for a sullen pre-insertion peptalk. I’d modified the jump to start three months before the story start, rather than three years, and now everything was as ready as it could be. “Look,” I said to my people, “We’ve had a rough go of it these last ten years… and we’re jumping without a map here. But we are a team, we’ve got the skills… hopefully the Drawbacks I’ve taken will mostly target me, so if it seems like someone’s gunning for me, let them through. I can take more punishment… but try and help me out if it looks like I’m being swarmed… If I’m being tanked, don’t try and fight whatever’s tanking me, just grab me and go. I guarantee, I’m not going to try and lure anyone into a false sense of security.” That got a few chuckles.
“If the enemy starts using something that seems to be something I’d use, look to see if they’ve got a crystal imbedded in them… but don’t get too hung up on it being from the Lacrima Rain. Odds are, there will be people who can do all sorts of things that I can do in this world. Big thing, if you notice that any of your memories have been changed, I want to know immediately. If you remember something differently than everyone else does, I want to know immediately. Especially if it happens right around the day of the full moon… assuming this world has a moon… or only one moon.”
I looked around at them, making eye-contact with each that would let me do so. “Clear?”
They responded in a rag-tag way, but I didn’t push them.
“Good,” I nodded. “I have faith in all of you,” I lied. No group that included Cirno would that actually be true of, but I can lie without any tells, so eh… “We have no map of the territory, nor any idea what the future history might hold… besides probably some very large battles… so there’s no point in making plans to deal with it. We’re not good enough at planning for that to be a thing. Just try and make it through this with your sanity and ethical code largely intact. Okay?”
That got a few more ‘ayes’.
“Excellent,” I said, and (since there was no point in wasting any more time, seeing as how we weren’t going to be any more ready than we already were) I hit the confirm button and we dropped.
You know the story of the people one town over from that one town that keeps getting flattened, attacked, and invaded? The story of people who hear all about the great big insane adventures going on elsewhere? That was me and my companions for the first year. See, Onibus is just across the desert from this town called Magnolia, home to this balls out crazy group of moronic overpowered children called Fairy Tail… Yes, as in the butt appendage of a pixie or something. Clearly, from the name of the Jump, they were the de facto heroes of this story… and supposedly they were the most powerful guild, though it didn’t really show.
Still, we weren’t in that guild. We were in Guild Jumpstar. Our Guild Leader, Quicksilver, was on something called a Millenium Job, a job so hard it would take a millennium to complete, and no one knew where he was or if he was a she or what. His/her powers were legendary… but no one living had ever met him, nor could anyone say what, exactly, those powers might be. He/She was simply ‘Sir Not Appearing in this Story’.
The economy of being in a Guild was pretty simple. People brought us contracts, a senior guild officer ranked the contracts on how hard our seers said they’d be, then guild members volunteered (or sometimes were voluntold to volunteer) to take on these jobs. Essentially it was bounty work or adventure for hire or fetch quests… except the quest givers came to you. Guild Jumpstar tried to get things done in a professional and restrained… if sometimes a little flashy… way. By comparison, Fairy Tail was more than likely to destroy half your town to save a kitten.
Being who I am, I scouted out Fairy Tail, finding out who was who and what was what from the townsfolk and from the minds of some of the… let’s not beat around the bush here… mental midgets who made up that team of thundering dunderheads. Christ.
They’d fight anyone, including their own friends, at a moment’s notice for any damned fool reason… and the Dragon Slayer was clearly the Protagonist of this circus of Shonen Anime Lunacy… it was definitely not French, not with a character named Natsu Dragneel who possessed a shockingly pink mane of hair that had more spikes than Sonic the Hedgehog despite a total lack of hair gel. He also had a brain slightly softer than overcooked cabbage. Lots of Fighting Spirit…but very little Brain-Power to go with it. Made Ranma look like a Chessmaster and Monkey D Luffy look like a Genius. Even Naruto would have thought Natsu the Salamander (that’s what Fire Dragon Slayers are called apparently) was a hotheaded dunce…. Still, at least he out-scored Goku in the thinking department. Though I will give him credit for being fiercely, uncompromisingly loyal to his friends… even the newest and least proven of their number.
In fact, that seemed to be Fairy Tail’s schtick, loyalty. No matter how hard they fought, they… most of them at least… remained almost fanatically loyal to their comrades… and even seemed to have the ability to make some enemies into allies.
After dealing with the majority of the Lacrima Rain by the simple expedient of casting global range Accio X Lacrima… I did have a comprehensive list of all my perks and abilities, after all… and storing the potentially useful crystal rocks in my warehouse, I considered quitting Jumpstar to join Fairy Tail, just to get close to the action, but after seeing them nearly get wiped out by a rival Guild for no good reason… I decided against it. I also decided against infiltrating them using one of my alternate forms…. I just didn’t have any information to go on and there were clearly plots afoot… too many of them to track down in time.
The biggest of these, to me at least, was the fact that, according to my memory, the dragon who’d trained me, Igneel, had decided I was too dangerous and had shifted his attention to Natsu. And then vanished… along with all the other dragons. Natsu had been searching for Igneel for years… as, apparently, had I… though for less savory reasons. It was strange having a motivation in my head that I just didn’t feel, but thankfully, those memories were just that, and I swept the desire for revenge out of my head. So what if the past me had been cast out? I was dangerous and had absolutely nothing to prove to Igneel… or anyone really.
But if I couldn’t join Fairy Tail… maybe I could beat them. Once the first three months were up (signalled by the arrival of Lucy Heartfilia, who seemed to be the Audience surrogate rather than the MC, in Magnolia) I developed a hobby while my companions ran make money missions (we needed to eat and pay rent and build up a sizable fortune with which to buy the various souvenirs this world had to offer… many many interesting toys… and that meant building a reputation.) I decided to build my reputation by appearing outside of Fairy Tail every day at noon and challenging one of their members to a fight. Every Day. For two months straight. It did double duty as practice and exposure to new magical techniques… most of which I copied at least for future reference.
I’ve been to worlds with magic or things very much like it before, don’t get me wrong. Pokemon had some, Harry Potter had more, the Elder Scrolls had it in spades. Ranma even had some, as did Swat Kats. I’d been to Buffy, Lord of the Rings, Final Fantasy VII, and Disney Princess. I’d been to Samurai Jack, Song of Ice and Fire, and RWBY. I’d even been to Touhou… but all of those worlds had had relatively few supernatural abilities, and when they did have more than one, most of them all worked on the same basic principle.
In this world, Earth Land… that did not appear to be the case. There were hundreds, thousands perhaps, of different magics and they seemed to lack any fundamental groundwork, any unifying system, as far as I could see. Some were conceptual, others object oriented, still others a weird twist on traditional thaumaturgy or theurgy. And so the scientist in me felt the need to analyze the magic of this world, to figure out how it worked and what made it tick. Or go mad in the attempt.
Not for the first time I regretted buying Flight in Buffy instead of the Watcher Handbook… though I’d used the flight to excellent effect later, so it hadn’t been wasted… simply something I could… and had… picked up elsewhere… unlike a guidebook to all the magics of any given jump… hindsight eh? But to figure out the magic I didn’t have a guide to, I had to test myself against the Protagonists… since I had no bloody clue who the Antagonists were… they seemed to show up just in time to get their asses handed to them by the Fairy Tail. Some of them were even members of Fairy Tail itself! Or ended up becoming part of Fairy Tail after their stint as Bad Guy of the Month had ended. This show must be such fight porn.
And so I gave it fight porn. I made my way through the lower ranked members of Fairy Tail, never being cruel or dismissive, (though sometimes I did use insults to get them to attack me in the first place), and never going for a kill… I didn’t want the entire guild to attack en masse… I wasn’t sure I could take their best yet… I certainly wasn’t going to try and take them all on at once.
Each fight I used only as much force as needed to achieve victory, and I ramped up slowly, seeking to understand the limits of those I was fighting… as well as to gage how far my own abilities had grown… it had been a while since I fought like this, all energy and joy of the fight instead of a scrabble for life or limb (or to keep my precious stolen thing and my clothes and not to be punished). I wanted to force myself to grow into my new abilities, so began to consciously suppress my old ones.
If Natsu could be the MC of this setting based upon his Dragon Slayer Magic alone, I should be able to do so as well… though I knew from experience that without something to push me, I wouldn’t master it. I had certainly struggled to unlock my Semblance in RWBY as I used too many other non-aura abilities and very seldom went even close to all out.
Regardless, it soon became a bit of a game slash spectacle. I’d show up, challenge the Fairy Tailers to send out their Champion of the day, I’d get a good workout, repeat the next day. And so it went until this lunatic with the head of an owl and a rocketpack (yes, the canonical owner of the Jet Magic… what a tool) showed up and tried to kill me… I learned only later his name was Fukuro… but I prefer to think of him as Owlhead Rocketboy.
The lunatic fucking ate me! Swallowed me whole. I could feel him trying to drain my powers as the digestion process began to kick in… but the surface of a stomach makes a damned fine surface for a portal and I dropped into the warehouse, then tossed out a couple plasma grenades and damped the portal down to its smallest aperture and reinforced the forcefields over that spot.
A minute later I opened the portal just a bit… guy must have had a fucking stomach of adamantium… or had somehow absorbed the blast… so I did what any good doctor would do… I pulled water from the pool and fed it out into his stomach in a torrent.
Riding out of a bird-headed assassin’s belly on a flash flood of pool water and magical bile… weeee… also yuck. I might have limited myself against the Fairy Tailers… but that was training… this was my life… I froze the water solid around Rocketboy, then dived deep into his birdy little mind.
He was part of a trio of S-Ranked Assassins calling themselves ‘Trinity Raven’… part of a Dark Guild called ‘Death’s Head Caucus’… both decent names… and they’d been hired by some lunatic religious group calling itself ‘The Church of Zeref’ to kill me. There was the bounty… glad to see they were taking me seriously and sending their top team to get me. I also learned from his mind that his partners were Gothrock Hairboy and Swordmiko von Slashgirl (AN: Not their real names)… and they’d gone after my companions.
I left Owlhead frozen in the middle of town and ported back to Jumpstar’s guildhall, to find that Kendra was down, Velma was deadish, and Francine and Petra were both KORT (AN: Knocked Out Right There)… The others were holding their own, collectively, against the duo of assassins. As it turns out, the reason why four of my team were down is because Hairboy’s Guitar gave him the power to take control of people and he’d been using my people against each other. I watched with growing annoyance as he took control of Toph and turned her against the others.
I… well, let’s just say I’d taken some damage in my fight against Owlhead and my limit bar was full. My flaming fist might have managed to cook Gothrock’s spleen before it exited his mouth, I’m not sure.
I drew Soul of Ice as I stepped between Joy and Ikaruga… Slashgirl. “Let me handle this… see to the others,” I told she who had been part of me for one of the worst decades of my life. She nodded and stepped away.
There is little to compare with a duel between masters. Ikaruga had Sword Magic, a magical sword, and decades of training and practice in its use. I had sword perks, a magical sword, and more centuries of practice than Ikaruga had years of life. My in-field active combat time with the sword probably exceeded her lifespan… and it was still a close run thing. Sword Magic is no joke, and I treated her with respect, not pulling on any other powers… this was a duel between swordswomen and I honored that.
I wasn’t even going to let her hit me if I could avoid it. My defenses might be top notch, but who knew what kind of enchantments were on her sword. I doubted very much Reactive Nano-Armor was proof against a vorpal blade.
We fought through a change of day to night and night back to day again. For eighteen hours we traded blows magical, physical, and spiritual. Her aura was a thing of beauty and her motions full of grace… unfortunately her heart was full of darkness and she would not relent. Oddly enough, I had no real desire to kill these people. They were assassins true enough, but they weren’t motivated to attack me out of anything other than professionalism, and had been set on this path essentially because I’d hired them to kill me. It was a somewhat strange realization.
Still, I didn’t think Energy Bending would work, since I didn’t know her well enough, and Spirit Bending wouldn’t work because she wasn’t possessed. That left Redemption by Defeat…. And so I gave her an opening, a tiny one, something that might have been born out of fatigue or a transitory breeze… and she struck, as I’d hoped she would, her sword biting into my side.. And I tried to do the impossible… The perk ‘Cut At Will’ had given me the ability to cut only what I want to cut… assuming I could cut it in the first place. And way back in the mists of time I’d learned the ability ‘Shehai’, which allowed me to manifest a spirit sword… and with energy and spirit bending I could actually cut… in theory… what I wanted to cut.
I let Soul of Ice keep her blow from bisecting me, then (with my off hand) I formed a Shehai Blade and, with a cross body thrust, plunged it into Ikaruga’s chest and gave the intangible blade a sharp twist. As she fell, I caught the swordswoman, my side burning in agony even as the wound healed almost as fast as it had been made. Good, no regen blocking enchantments.
“W… what… what have you done?” she asked, breathless.
“I have cut away the darkness in your heart,” I said, trying for maximum cool… or as close as I could get without some sunglasses and a wah-wah machine.
“Th… that’s n… not ho… how it… it works. T… that’s a metaphor…” she gasped, flinching away from my words as much as from my hands as I laid her down on one of the low walls surrounding the guild hall.
“I am a creature of metaphor,” I half boasted. In many ways, it was true. “The world is shaped by words and ideals. I simply made them my reality… and yours.”
“You cheated!” she accused, trying to sit up.
“I did,” I agreed. “I’m bad like that. Such dishonor, seeking not to kill a worthy foe. Anyway, I believe I’ve bested you and spared the lives of you and your team… your choice where this goes next,” I bowed, partly to hide my smirk. “Anyway, I have to go fight Fairy Tail now… so you be good.” I left my team to watch the downed members of Trinity Raven and ported back to Magnolia Town, knowing I hadn’t seen the last of Death’s Head Caucus.
That was the day I finally got to fight Gray Fullbuster, Fairy Tail’s resident Ice Wizard. It was an interesting fight. He couldn’t have defeated me in a century of Sundays, of course, but finding new ways to use ice magic was more important than winning… and anyway, I am a combat grade telepath, anyone without mental shields is going to have a hard time beating me. Gray had effectively none. Hell, he barely had social filters… and he was constantly stripping off his clothing for no damned reason!
Of course, while I’m telling you, dear reader, about my wondrous powers, rest assured I almost never feel the need to gloat about my powers mid-fight like a comic-book character. When I do, it’s usually just before I deliver a finishing blow… if not after that.
Which is not to say I didn’t show off against Gray. Chucklehead von Ice Make had to preface every creation by yelling ‘Ice Make Floor!’ ‘Ice Make Cage!’ ‘Ice Make Cold!’ etc… No wonder Natsu always wants to punch him. But that aside, he did have some subtlety, being able to freeze things to the shattering point and to create intricate ice-forms… But he was slowed by the need to to speak… as were most of these people. It was a challenge not to yell ‘Ice Makes the Grass Grow, Kill Kill Kill!’ or something equally inane. His Ice Bazooka was actually a thing of beauty, but ultimately no match for my Snowflake Boomerang Blizzard or Thermal Vortex or… well, to be honest, I have a lot of different ice magic attacks. The full list of them would take several hours to read, and that’s without explanations.
By the end of two months I’d fought most of the low level guild members… and none of the S-Class mages: Laxus, Erza, Mystogan, Gildarts, Mirajane, or Makarov. Sure, these were in the nature of friendly fights… I certainly wasn’t killing my way through the ranks… and I think that’s part of the reason the big kids hadn’t come out to play… well, that and Mystogan almost never showed up, Gildarts was off on some Decade Quest, and Mirajane had lost her mojo. As for Makarov? He was old… really old… for a local at least.
But Laxus and Erza were both relative hotheads and getting Laxus to fight me shouldn’t be hard… especially since he was apparently planning on taking over the guild by force and kicking out the weaker members (I told you one of the BBEGs was a member of Fairy Tail!) His personal team within the Guild was called ‘The Thunder God Tribe’ (Such hubris, much fall), consisting of Freed Justine (a ward-maker via Dark Ecriture), Bickslow (a doll mage), and Evergreen (a walking medusa with killer fairy dust)… I also hadn’t faced any of them… since they’d been off adventuring for those first couple months that I’d been doing actual challenges. I mean, I knew where they were, but they hadn’t exactly been showing up for my daily fights.
Laxus himself was a Lightning Dragon Slayer… though apparently that wasn’t public knowledge and everyone just thought he was a Lightning Magic user… he was the kind that had Lacrima embedded inside his body, rather than having been trained by an actual dragon… as opposed to Me or Natsu or this turkey named ‘Gajeel’ who was an Iron Dragon Slayer. There was also this kid ‘Wendy’ who was a Sky Dragon Slayer. We’d all been trained by dragons.
Gajeel had started as a member of the ‘Phantom Lord Guild’ but after they were forced to disband for being eeeeeevil, he became a member of Fairy Tail. Wendy I’d meet later in my stay, the junior-most member of a Guild called ‘Cait Shelter’… which would also eventually disband (willingly this time… well, for certain definitions of willingly… there was only one other member from Wendy and he was a ghost who’d fulfilled his purpose. All the other members had been illusions, though apparently self-aware ones), leaving her to join Fairy Tail as well.
But that was the future. Back in the present, Laxus, who was also Guildmaster Makarov’s grandson, was pretty sore that Gramps had banished Ivan (the father/son that lay between them) from the Guild for being a Grade-A Asshat… something Laxus seemed keen on repeating. Regardless of Laxus’s motivations and their justifiability, I was there primarily to test myself, and Laxus was the first non-Fire Dragon Slayer I’d run into. I really wanted to throw down, if you know what I mean. Sure, he was focused on taking control of Fairy Tail, but I figured taking out his goon squad might provoke him… so I made it personal.
I sowed the rumor of a strange forest temple (amazing what people with Earth Elemental Control and Plant Magic can throw together in a relatively short period of time), which contained a rare magical creature guarding a magical item related to a Lightning Dragon… then made sure Laxus heard about it. The rumor was that a lightning lion (based on a Luxray (a lightning lion pokemon… not that I actually had one… Man, it’s a shame I didn’t have a Luxray from Pokemon… I bet the two of them would get along great!) was guarding a lightning caster.
Of course, being chuckleheads, the Thunder God Tribe fell for it hook, line, and sinker. I set Toph to take care of Evergreen, AJ and Francine to take care of Freed, and Yoiko and Ryoga to take care of Bickslow… and Zane pretending to be the Luxray while I faced off against Laxus. Long story short… we trashed the temple… Easy come, easy go… And I got my scan data on the Thunder God Tribe… I hope they liked their Starfleet Lightning Phasor… damned thing’s impossible to aim.
The Dragon Slayers were particularly impressive sorts. Natsu and I couldn’t hurt each other with our magics because we’d just trade energy all day… well, strictly speaking I could easily out last him in the manna field and as long as I didn’t give him any fire to eat, I could run him, eventually, to exhaustion. Which I did. It’s not bragging to point out I’m smarter than Natsu… so is the average housecat. Laxus could hit hard and fast… but his lightning couldn’t hurt me either. Gajeel, made of iron, was a formidable foe, but not particularly bright either… and he was far from unbeatable, even by local standards. I didn’t fight Wendy… she was a kid and primarily a healer at that. Unfortunately, defeating Natsu and Gajeel meant that they were now constantly hounding me for a rematch. Then again, so was Gray.
Since I really didn’t want to fight them every day for the next six years, I told them that if they could convince Erza to fight me and if she won, I’d give them a rematch. And to make the pot sweeter for Erza, I even offered her a magical sword if she could beat me… We both collected them and I had several duplicates. I wanted to see what the so-called best there was at Requip, the Fairy Queen Titania Erza, could do.
We held the fight on an artificial island I raised in Magnolia Bay… I promised the town I’d sink it again… only to be asked if I could make it a bit bigger and give it a hill… and move it a little northwest… maybe two-hundred meters or so… strange people. Apparently there’s money in raising off shore real estate. Who knew? (Actually I should have… one of my favorite novels, ‘Diamond Age’ by Neal Stephenson, mentions it. I wonder if that will be a jump?)
Erza’s magic isn’t powerful in and of itself. It’s pretty damned simple really. I’d seen how Joy did it, and was fairly certain I could replicate the effect. All the various magics of this world were either Holder… i.e. item based or Caster… i.e. spell based… and that means all you had to do was learn the spells…. And then master them. Sure, there was a third category, ‘Ancient / Lost’ but even those mostly fell into Holder or Caster as well. My point was that the magics of this world were, almost to a one, learnable techniques rather than innate abilities, and that meant I could copycat them… except Gajeel, Windy, and Laxus… all of whom had something extra to make them what they were. There were probably other magics that had biological requirements, but Requip? Not as such.
Essentially, all Erza did was draw on the massive collection of magical arms and armors that she kept in a pocket universe, summoning them at need. The Requip Magic just allowed her to do so nearly instantly… and summon the armor already equipped and the weapons right into her her hands. It was equal parts preparation and practice… but then came skill. She was a brilliant fighter with tons of magical energy and liberal doses of Fighting Spirit and general Kick Assness.
She was most impressive and I found that the subtle goading I’d used on the others to make them fight me at full strength was not needed to make her to fight me seriously. Erza Scarlet had one setting… ’11’. It was a glorious fight and I would have ended it by declaring her to have beaten me, had I not sensed that she’d know if I pulled my punches. Still, I did limit myself. I fought without Victoria or Soul of Ice, using only a pair of magical shortswords I’d crafted called Freezerburn and Waterlaser… two guesses what kind of enchantments they had on them. Just because Natsu only used one type of magic didn’t mean I had to limit myself.
About a week after my fight with Erza, while I was still trying to figure out how to find Mystogan or Gildarts… or how to get Makarov to fight me (he was one of a group of so called Wizard Saints, the ten most powerful living Wizards supposedly… As tests of strength go it doesn’t get much better than that)… my agents brought me word that Erza had been kidnapped and the Wizard Council was preparing this superweapon called ‘Etherion’ (yes, clearly what the X-Class Magic was named for) to take out this absolutely obscenely tall tower in the middle of the ocean… and that Trinity Raven had been dispatched there to slow anyone who might rescue her.
I thought about interfering, but I had a feeling everything would turn out… if not okay… then with lessons learned… this had all the earmarks of a Shonen Manga after all… And also… what the hell did I know about what was going on. But still, I wanted to see the fireworks, so I went there in person. It wasn’t hard to find… the giant sky runes covered a sixteenth of the planetary surface.
Team Natsu managed to rescue Erza, Trinity Raven escaped, two members of the Wizard Council turned out to be traitors… and I learned a new trick. When Etherion was fired at the tower (it was a trap) the tower turned into a huge Lacrima… And Natsu ate some of it. Turns out it gave him a huge jolt of power… and knocked him on his ass for three days after that. I stole… a very large chunk… of that tower for further study. I also ate a few small pieces of it… can’t say it tasted very good, but it had pure elemental energies infused into it… all sorts of goodness though I couldn’t exactly use even half of those elements directly. It was like a magical sugar rush… on steroids.
I also ate one of the Lacrima that copied my Conduit Power… yeah, I hadn’t anticipated that there would be multiple copies of each, but there were, on average, about half a dozen for each perk and power, and about a dozen for each skill. Oh… good lord… the rush… it was… there aren’t words. It was like mainlining essence of me. Unfortunately, it also made my Conduit powers go haywire for several weeks, turning my skin blue and causing me to emit an arctic chill that I had a very hard time limiting. The second one I ate was even worse, and the haywire effect was both more extreme and longer lasting. I stuck the rest back in storage.
Not long after the Tower of Heaven incident (as it was being called), Team Thunder God put in motion their idiotic coup to take over Fairy Tail… it faaaailed… but there was redemption and no one died… then Fairy Tail sent Team Natsu (consisting of Lucy, Natsu, Gray, Erza and Happy the flying cat… and why the hell is Natsu in charge? Erza outranks him and everyone else on the team including the cat is smarter!) to team up with three other guilds (Lamia Scale, Blue Pegasus, and Cait Shelter, enter Wendy as I promised) to take down one of the Big Three Dark Guilds (The Oracion Seis… the other two being Grimoire Heart and Tartaros)… Funny how only two S-Ranked Mages were sent on this ‘vital’ mission (Erza and the Lamia Scale’s team leader, Jura Neekis, one of the Ten Wizard Saints). Definitely a Shonen…
Again I tagged along, me and mine trying to find some hint as to what the bigger picture was. Officially, Jumpstar was volunteering to assist… you know, out of a sense of civic duty or something.
That turned out to be almost disastrous, as the Oracion Seis activated some kind of ancient superweapon called Nirvana which possessed the power to turn anyone possessed of depression or doubt from light to darkness… or vice versa. Fighting evil Ryoga? Not good. Fighting evil Ahab and Joy? Sooo not good. Thankfully I managed to bring them around once they were subdued with a bout of Spirit Bending, but oy…. No fun. Missed the takedown of the giant walking Good/Evil Reversing spider… and by giant, I mean easily fifty stories tall. Which might have been a good thing, since the Motion Sickness that is part and parcel of being a Dragon Slayer made even being on the mega-mecha a bitch and a half… that better wear off at the end of the Jump or I’ll want a refund.
Anyway, the defeat of Nirvana and the Seis signalled the end of Cait Shelter’s existence in this realm and Wendy, now an orphan for the second time, joined Fairy Tail… I even let her hug Ziggy, that’s how sad she was.
A few weeks later, I arrived in Magnolia for my routine fight… only to find that someone had stolen the whole fucking city. There was a portal in the sky and bubbles floating up to it. Lead to a place called ‘Edolas’… fucked up version of Earth Land, where magic was a finite resource and was running out. That’s where my Evil Twin came from… Evil Ziggy too. Evil Ziggy and Good Ziggy are very hard to tell apart. They are both psychotic and prone to very long naps and total illogic. Thankfully, Evil Ziggy couldn’t shapeshift into a linoone, so telling them apart was easy.
Less easy was the fact that the insane King of Edolas, Sir Faust, had stolen Magnolia to power the magics of the kingdom’s warmachines… and the Exceeds, a race of flying cats (yes, like Happy or Wendy’s cat Carla) were worshipped as angels… and everyone had a kinda weird anti-them. Not so much Evil as just reversed. Gajeel’s counterpart was calm and reasoned, Natsu’s was a coward, Erza’s was fucking psycho…. Mine… who actually was Evil was more Eeeeeevil than actually wicked. Also a lazy bum who made her minions do everything for her and never shared her candy. Thankfully, as promised by the drawback, she didn’t have any of my Jumper abilities natively… though she did have a large criminal organization… and a fairly decent collection of the Lacrima of my abilities. Turns out a lot of them had fallen in Edolas… and my Accio X Lacrima had only covered Earth Land. Well played, Banker-San. Well played.
I still had no interest in messing with Fairy Tail’s story. Too easily I could make things worse, and even though they’d lost their magic… and so had I… they were doing pretty good. I still had my psionics and spiritual abilities, like bending, so I wasn’t too limited, so I stealthed it up and watched, doing little besides thwarting Evil Me and removing her Lacrima… Up until Sir Faust brought out this giant magictech mecha, the Dorma Anim. I just had to fight that… how many chances do I get for Mecha v Mecha battles?
I summoned the newest generation of the Mega-Dragonzord and we threw down, me and my companions piloting the six-person supermech against Edolas’s finest artifact. It was one hell of a fight, but it was the most fun I’d had in decades. We emerged victorious… but Bao and Vivian would be doing a loooot of maintenance. Did steal whatever bits of the Dorma Anim were left… reverse engineering goooood. Of course, it turned out that a lot of the power cells for the big thing were Me Lacrima. Those too went into the Warehouse.
Shortly after that, all the remaining magic in Edolas was drained and sent into Earth Land where it would be barely noticed. That also sent back Magnolia, all the members of Fairy Tail, all the winged cats, and me and mine. Poof.
It also sent back Mirajane’s baby sister, whose disappearance had transformed Mira from tomboy punk fighter to soft and sweet den mother. With the family restored, Mirajane got her groove back and I was finally able to fight her. She used one of the Full Body Take Over Magics… in her case Demon Soul (another one of those biological requirement powers. No idea how to get the ‘demon particles’ that specifically allowed it, but I was definitely curious)… Sweet, nice, compassionate… flying fury. Such a massive boost in attack power and ferocity. Good fight. Closest I’d come to defeat, though neither of us were fighting to the death.
Then Gildarts returned (though Mystogan had gone missing apparently for good), giving me a chance to fight him… ouch… Turns out he’s the one with the Crash magic. If I’d fought him without having practiced against Ryoga, I might have lost. Still, dude was tough as nails and, if anything, even less good in the self control arena than Ryoga… as in can’t walk through town without breaking… the town. Had the same respect for walls that Shampoo did but on a grander scale.
A couple weeks after that fight, something utterly fucked up happened… Fairy Tail was having its S-Rank trials to find a new S-Ranker… supposedly happened every year but S-Rank Mages don’t grow on trees. And no, being S-Ranked in one guild doesn’t transfer over. Juvia (Gray’s Girlfriend / Stalker) and Gajeel were both S-Ranked in their old guild, but not when they joined Fairy Tail… Anyway, everyone with any standing in the guild went off to their hidden island to decide who would be elevated to the purple or whatever they call it… and then they vanished… whole Island gone poof, taking with it the Guildmaster, all the S-Ranks, and all the potential S-Ranks too… although they seem to have taken the second of the big three dark Guilds, Grimoire Heart, with them into oblivion.
In one moment, Fairy Tail went from being one of the most powerful guilds around to… a collection of B-Rankers with no leadership and no heavy hitters to protect them from their enemies. And me? I hadn’t followed the Fairy Tailers because I was involved in my own private war with Death’s Head Caucus…. Hunting them before they could hunt me again.
So I show up outside FT’s Guild hall after a fortnight’s absence, expecting to maybe fight whoever’s been promoted, or maybe finally to get Makarov to fight me… and instead of the normal bunch of rambunctiousness and idiocy… I find a bunch of worried people sitting around looking lost. And they see me as their salvation.
A group of them, Macao, Wakaba, and Reedus, three of the elder low rankers, were waiting for me when I arrived. They had a proposal. They needed an S-Ranker, someone they could trust, someone that had prestige and weight, to step in as interim Guild Leader. And I’d be perfect, according to them.
I pointed out that I belong to a rival guild, they shrugged and pointed out that Gajeel and Juvia had belonged to an actively hostile guild. I pointed out that my main means of interacting with members of Fairy Tail was fighting them… they returned the point that that was their main method of interacting with each other. I pointed out that I had several teams within Jumpstar that followed me… they weren’t just willing to accept them, they felt they needed to… they had a lot of enemies and there is strength in unity.
I had to admit that Fairy Tail’s hall was nicer than Jumpstars… and Magnolia was a bigger city than Onibus… and it would be cool to run my own guild… So I took them up on their offer. Me and my crews rolled to the FT, trading one magical tattoo for another, and I assumed wardenship of the nuthouse.
It took four years for the Magic Council to recognize that Fairy Tail, under my leadership, was becoming a threat to their hegemony. Makarov had been a compassionate but largely laissez faire leader… I was much more hands on, and I encouraged those I led to improve their skillsets… and I had a suite of capable tutors. We operated as teams, assigned missions based on profiles and talents, and expanded our brand recognition. Yes, I kept a tighter leash on the hotheads, but I made a real effort to encourage a ‘Think before you Destroy’ mentality while still encouraging a free and open collective. This was a Guild, and I wasn’t so much the boss as the den mother…
Our major clash with the established powers of the Magic Council came in the sixth year of the Jump, when the Council sent its trained magical police, the Rune Knights, to arrest me for ‘Usurping control of a Guild and transforming it into my private army.’ We sent their attack dogs back to them gift wrapped and told them where to stick it. By that time I had enough allies to move against the Council and we took them captive and explained that they’d no longer be allowed to use their positions to enforce politically motivated rules they’d made up on the spot. The Council was abolished and a Guild Council established in its place, something each of the established guilds would have a voice in.
Two years into the Magical Presidency of Velma the First, the missing members of the guild returned, having apparently been flung forward in time and looking no older than they had when they’d vanished 7 years earlier… and I finally got my fight against Makarov. To say he was less than thrilled with what I’d done to his guild and the Magical Council was to put it mildly. I told him he could have Fairy Tail back if he could… teach me the errors of my ways.
Did you know the dude could grow to the size of a fucking skyscraper? Cause no one else I’d scanned did. Fuuuuuuck….Dude got big… and buff… and suuuuper angry. Told the others to stay out of it and whomped me. Seriously… ouch… I’ve spent centuries practicing and collecting powers, and I don’t know how long Makarov’s been at this, but he’s had all that time to work on a very small set of abilities and to do hone them to a fine edge… and as it turned out… he had not one or two, but four aces in the hole!
As Legit Guild Master, he could call upon the three secret magics of Fairy Tail… I’ve mentioned them before in the build part of this log, but let me cover them again, in greater detail… from the perspective of someone who has actually faced someone using them. Fairy Sphere was an incredibly powerful defense spell, and one that was all but impossible to bypass. By the time I figured out how to get passed it, I’d faced multiple shots from the general attack spell called ‘Fairy Glitter’, which was like being nailed by a nuclear snowball. I’d also barely avoided getting tagged by ‘Fairy Law’, a spell that could wipe out everyone that the caster views as an enemy. But more worrying than all that, than the overwhelming attacks or the nearly impenetrable defense? Makarov could draw on ‘Fairy Heart’, the functionally infinite source of magical energy… something I, as a mere usurper, invited or not… could not. It was a practical and abject lesson in humility, getting my ass ever so completely pwned by a wizened old midget… of course, he was cheating and it wasn’t exactly a duel to the death… but that’s how Makarov regained leadership of his guild. Which was fair enough… I’d only taken the post as an interim measure.
The last two years were mostly dealing with an invasion from a nation across the sea called the Alvarez Empire, led by some evil demonomancer / necromancer named Zeref… Never got the whole story on him, but his followers were pretty completely batshit lunatics. They included the third and last of the big three Dark Guilds, Tartaros, most of whom turned out to be demons from the so called ‘Books of Zeref’… oh, and Zeref turned out to be Natsu’s brother… or rather, the brother of the original Natsu, who’d died and been resurrected as our Natsu… you know, typical Shonen nonsense.
Tartaros tried taking out the Guild Council, partly to disable Etherion and partly to seize control of the Council’s other Mega Weapon, the continent wide magical draining weapon called Face… it’s shaped like 3000 face statues… still a stupid name. Unfortunately for Tartaros, Magical President Velma called in reinforcements before she went down and the rest of my companions showed those demons exactly why you don’t fucking mess with Fairy Tail. (Makarov had made us full guild members after his return… though he’d tried to bust me down to normal guild member until I’d given him ‘The Look’… Oh, and he’d let Laxus back in. Kid had had a change of heart.)
All in all it was a most satisfactory jump. I was in it for the training, having no idea of the plotline, and although I managed to master Second Origin, I was never pushed close to the need to use ‘Third Origin’ (a way to tap into your future magic and use it all at once… thus stripping away your ability to use that magic ever again). I also never got anywhere near as good at Requip as Erza, but I could use it in a pinch without having to open a portal to my warehouse and Accio something. One step better than two…. Or three if I need to find/make a surface.
I also managed to learn Fairy Law… Kinda had to modify Etherion to fire it… much easier to fight an empire if all the top brass take targeted mega-damage from your godweapon just before the enemy shocktroops land. I may not like the Rune Knights, but if you’ve got a bunch of blue-robed magical stormtroopers, you might as well use them against your enemies. Did you know you can (with enough power and enough casters) cast Requip on an entire city? If everyone’s wearing the same uniform, who do you attack? What happens if only one side can see the difference between the fake uniforms and the real ones. As Oppenheimer once said, “I drink to the confusion of our enemies.”
Well, I certainly did that. All in all, I give Fairy Tail a solid 7 of out 10, not great, but would Jump Again. Natsu on the other hand… him I give a 3/10… fucking chowderhead. I admit, my last action in this world was to douse Gray, Gajeel, and Natsu with Jusenkyo Curse Water… just for lolz.
Next: World 29 – Turn Turn Turnabout
Resources: Build, Document
If you like what I do, please consider supporting me on Patreon.