18th January 2017
AN: Woah it's been a few months. I hope people haven't lost interest after the long wait. The story's not dead and my plan for it is still intact. I would love to say that the next update would come swiftly, but I'm about to step into the 'real world' and go job hunting. So expect the updates for this story to be slow.
In other news, I've posted my story on the spacebattles forums as well as suggested by Pietersielie. I've got a larger audience and different feedback now because of his suggestion, so now the story's got better potential. Thank you Pietersielie!
I hope you enjoy the chapter.
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Chapter 09 – An Uneasy Agreement
A 'ding' sounded as I pinged the last two towers, indicating to my team-mates my suggestion to attack them. As an added measure to ensure the clarity of my intent, I quickly typed in the team chat box: "nexus towers, go".
I wanted to quickly rush to the enemy base, take out the towers and destroy their nexus, ending the game in our victory. It was a tactically sound choice, given that the whole enemy team was chasing down two other members
Another two 'ding's sounded as two other players on my team pinged the same towers in agreement.
Of the three lanes in the game, I navigated Thresh, the champion I am controlling, through the bottom lane. I pushed the offensive with my partner of the lane, Vayne, and together we made it to the entrance to the enemy base.
Vayne immediately shot at the last inhibitor structure that was inside the enemy base. I added my measly fire-power to hers in hopes of speeding up the process, but kept a cautious eye on the mini-map for any signs of trouble from the enemy team.
Another character was coming our way, but I was relieved rather than worried, he was on our team. The character Lee Sin was traversing through the jungle area and closing in on our position to assist us with our offence.
However, my relief was short lived. The enemy team had gotten wise to our strategy. Three of them were able to break off from chasing down my remaining two team-mates at the top lane and had recalled back to their base.
Now in front of us, they hurried to position themselves to defend their base. I quickly made a note of who they are, their abilities and their general play-style.
Caitlyn, the enemy's back-line marksman. Long ranged. Deals high amounts of sustained damage. Uses traps and nets for snaring movement as well as extra damage. Can do a long range sniping shot from a long way away if you're still in her sights. (1)
Rengar, the enemy's choice of champion in the jungle (2). Melee ranged. Assassin. Has a huge burst of power. Can become invisible, but we will know when he's in the area via an exclamation mark above our heads. Can leap to his target from stealth.
Lux, the enemy's back-line spellcaster. Long ranged. Spells and abilities does damage in big bursts. Can root you to a spot or slow your movement speed down if you don't dodge her abilities. Also have a shielding ability to aid her team-mates and herself.
All three of the enemy's champions are high damage characters, and are built (3) as such for this game, meaning they are scary if they get a chance to attack. But it also means that they lack any sort of defences and health, so if my team and I play our cards right, we may be able to come out of this fight alive to finish the game.
My champion, Thresh, is built tanky, buying all the defensive items (3) to fill my role as a tank-support character. Lee Sin, also built himself with a lot of defences and health so we will likely be able to survive the fight. We don't have any sort of damage though, but that's where the last member of our group comes in. Vayne will be our glass cannon, our only source of sustainable, high-end damage at the cost of having virtually no defence whatsoever.
Lee Sin and I position ourselves between the enemy and Vayne, while Vayne stays close enough to us, but far enough away from the enemy's reach. Standard tactical positions.
The enemy's assassin, Rengar, ran straight towards us, but before he got within our range of attack, he faded from view. Exclamation marks popped up above our heads, and Lee Sin and I hurried closer to Vayne to protect her. All the while the enemy back-liners took pot shots at us, trying to poke us down.
Lee Sin and I ignored them completely, trusting in the beefiness of our defence. Instead, I kept my eyes solely on Vayne and readied to activate my spell of choice at a moment's notice. I kept my position between Vayne and where Rengar should be from his last visible location. My prediction is that Rengar will jump straight at Vayne from his stealth. While mid-jump, he should cast a spell that roots his target in place to easily get within attack range. From there it'll only take a second before our damage dealer's health vanishes.
As expected, Rengar reappeared suddenly, leaping over me to get to Vayne. Reacting immediately, I cast my spell. Thresh swiped the ground from Vayne's direction to Rengar's and the spell pushed him back mid-jump.
The assassin, having not expecting that, accidentally casted his rooting spell toward me instead of Vayne. Rengar's bola rooted me to the spot at point-blank range, ensnaring me.
My team-mates reacted. Lee Sin sent a ball of energy at Rengar, dealing damage and marking him as a target. He then flew at the assassin with a kick, homing in at his target via the mark.
Vayne shot and rolled away before shooting again with her wrist mounted crossbow. I myself was adding what little damage I had into the mix, but was only able to land two hits before Rengar was out of my attack range.
Luckily, Rengar was close to dying already, but refused to give up hunting his prey. He threw another bola at Vayne, this time he had a clear shot after taking a few steps.
The bola neared Vayne's feet but she rolled away at the last second. Returning fire immediately, she quickly melted Rengar's health down to zero.
We turned our attention to the two remaining enemies and advanced on them. We held the advantage in numbers now, even if Lee Sin and I were at half our health from all the constant damage the two back-liners were doing. The flow of the battle is in our favour. I've read the enemy correctly, and my aptly timed spell had paid off.
The hardest part of this fight was over, but we still had to be careful if we don't want to throw our game off track. We're the ones chasing now, and that, paradoxically, is when we will be more vulnerable.
It's more dangerous for us because, while we are the aggressors, chasing down our enemies, they still have some distance between us. The fact that they have long range means that they can continue to shoot at us even while retreating, albeit more slowly.
The enemy did just that, running and shooting our health down. Lee Sin's and my health dropped even lower. However, we are gradually getting closer to them each time they slow down to attack us.
As our health neared fatality, our opposition grew more complacent, still shooting while running, believing that they can kill us and turn the tides.
That was a mistake on their part, or perhaps a highly risky move from us, but we kept chasing until I was sure I am in range for my abilities to work against them.
I had already memorised their pattern: walk two steps, stop and attack, walk two steps, stop and attack. Just as they took another two steps, I threw my hook and aimed at Lux, the spellcaster, rather than Caitlyn, the marksman. The reason is because Caitlyn's net shot can propel her backwards while simultaneously slow her target down if it hits. This makes it very easy to miss her. Lux on the other hand, have no such mobility options.
The hook landed easily on Lux and I threw down my lantern, giving myself a shield, and a way for Vayne to travel quickly to my location if she was attentive enough to activate it.
The moment my hook landed, it had stopped Lux in her tracks, giving Lee Sin a window of opportunity. He cast his ball of energy at the vulnerable Lux, marking her before flying through the air and delivering a kick.
I yanked on my hook to send myself flying towards Lux as well, and a moment later, Vayne too flew to my position having enough awareness of the situation to activate the lantern I left behind. The lantern's ability gave us all a small shield which disappeared as Caitlyn took desperate shots at us to save her team-mate.
In a panic, Lux and Caitlyn both used their summoner's spell "Flash" (4), and blinked out of existence. They reappeared a little further away from us, nearing the safety of their nexus towers.
If they made it there, it will spell certain doom for us if we chased them into the range of the towers. The towers will be able to provide them with quite damaging fire-power and at a good range, too. Luckily we all had our summoner's spell "Flash" as well and we used it instinctively to close the distance.
The next part of the fight happened in a blur. Lux's health dropped as Lee Sin executed his ultimate ability, kicking her towards Caitlyn. Vayne also activated her ultimate ability, gaining more fire-power and becoming invisible every time she rolled to close the distance, all the while shooting at Lux.
Lux died not long after knocking into Caitlyn, and while Caitlyn was knocked up into the air by a flying Lux, I activated my own ultimate ability. Five walls of ethereal texture rose up around me, forming a pentagonal prison. It caught everyone within it, trapping my target, Caitlyn with us.
Vayne immediately rained her silver bolts on Caitlyn. The enemy panicked and shot her net at us in order to escape. Her shot propelled her backwards, away from us and through my wall. Her health dipped a bit more as my wall dealt damage, but more importantly, my wall also slowed her to a crawling pace.
Our marksman quickly caught up with a roll, ending Caitlyn's life just as she made it within the tower's firing range.
Our minions were already at the nexus tower, soaking up damage from the tower's shots while dealing a bit of damage themselves. Lee Sin, Vayne and I wasted no time in attacking the towers ourselves, destroying them and then destroying the enemy's nexus afterwards.
We won. Even through all the verbal bashing and harsh language from the other two members on our side, we won. Through perseverance and tactical skill. I would say it was through team work, but that would only apply to the three of us who ended the game. The other two are still spewing toxic in the chat box even in the post game results screen.
I never lost myself into the whole blame game and the never ending contest of ego. I may be serious when I play the game, but ultimately, it wasn't something my pride was concerned about.
Still, it was a good feeling, predicting the enemy's moves and watching as everything fell under my control. I always make it a point to manipulate the battlefield through utility rather than raw power.
Raw power granted to me as claws raked my face, tearing away my identity along with my skin. I can't move away from the claws. I didn't. I'm already dead. I didn't move away. I'm already dead. I'm already-
/* - */
I flailed wildly as I scrambled to get away from the claws. No matter how far backed myself up against the wall, the claws were still there in front of me, weaving in and out of my vision.
I felt a dull thud against my hand and out of the corner of my eyes, I saw a puff of feathers floating through the air.
I was brought to my senses from my nightmare induced panic, and I shook my head to clear my mind. The claws I was running away from were my very own. Right, I'm Rek'Sai. I'm in another world. A world full of magic.
I looked around for Raven who I've no doubt accidentally clipped with my claws.
On a table across the room lay Raven, unmoving.
I moved quickly to her side and examined her. It doesn't seem like she's breathing. What's more there was a large gash across her body and her left wing was all mangled.
"Raven!" I whispered loudly. Why I was whispering, I had no clue.
The bird gave no response.
Shit, shit, shit, shit!
"Raven! Hey!" I tried again, this time nudging the bird very gently and carefully by it's beak.
She stirred and came to, much to my relief. Good, at least she's still alive.
"Guuuh…my wing…my body…my everything…" Raven moaned.
"It's alright, it's alright." I assuaged. "Just, stay conscious and I'll go get help. Healing magic, okay?"
"Uuuh…W- no!" She cried in a sudden burst of energy. "Healing magic doesn't work on me! Believe me I tried! The only way to save me is to let me inside you!"
"As in eat me!" She clarified. "Come on! Priorities!"
"Okay, how does that work?" I asked, suspicion creeping into my voice. For all I knew she could be lying and trying to take advantage of the situation to take over my body again.
"Is this really the time?" Raven cocked her head to the side to look me in the eye. "Okay, when you absorb me, I'll become magical energy, in which I'll be in a stable state. Now I know what you're thinking. I'll be able to control you then and shit will hit the fan like yesterday. But no! I'll be too weak to be able to do that. So hurry up and EAT ME! I DON'T WANNA DIE!"
I guess I'm convinced. I mean it is a life or death situation.
"Okay, okay…uh," I hesitated, not sure how to proceed. "So, how do we do this?"
I know I've eaten her before, but that was an accident. Now that I have to do it deliberately, it feels kind of weird. And not exactly something within my comfort zone; eating a live bird whole.
"Dude, put ketchup on me, barbeque sauce, whatever. Just eat- Ooow…My head…" Raven groaned again.
"Okay, alright. I can do this," I said to myself.
I gently scooped her up in my claws and she hissed in pain.
"Sorry! Sorry!" I repeated worriedly.
"Don't 'sorry' me! Just eat me!" Raven cried with a pained voice.
I nodded, more to myself than to her. I mean it is my fault that she is in the condition she is in now. Even if it was an accident. If this is the only way to help her, then I'll do it.
I took a steadying breath through my mouth and tilted my head back, bringing Raven to my open maws.
Trying my best not to think about how wrong this felt, I focused on gulping and swallowing without chewing. I nearly choked as my breath hitched thinking about how disgusting it must be from Raven's perspective.
I refrained from feeling how Raven travelled down my gullet. A bulging, alive, thing squirming as she tried to ease her wing into a less painful position.
Two heart beats later, I felt it; magic. A growing sensation within my core. It's not a warm sensation, or a tingle as typical fantasy would have you believe magic felt. It's more like…pressure. Not like it's bloating me up from the inside, it's like a presence, like you know it's there. Almost like someone placing their hand on your shoulder gently. It's not the impact of the contact, but the contact itself. Your nerves sensing the touch. Magic is like that, except with non-existent nerves.
My point of perception changed. To me it felt like flying backwards a meter and dropping down a little. My arms and legs lost feeling before I felt myself in a kneeling position, as if before royalty. I lost my vision, but hopefully that will return soon.
I waited for my vision to return to me. But as I held my breath, I saw pinpricks of light pierce into my eyes. I realised that my Xer'Sai body was actually a shell around me, sort of like husk. More light filled into the shell as more and more flakes of my former body dissolve into magic. They glowed in shades of purple and blue before burning up like paper, surfing the air currents. It was a enchanting sight to behold.
As the shell unravelled more of the outside world, I glanced down at myself. Even if I can feel the familiarity of the humanoid form, I wanted to confirm with my own eyes. I saw my naked form, my clawed hands, my taloned feet, and my purple hair.
I sighed, I guess even this form is close enough to who I was, to what I was. Even better is that I still have full control over my body. I hardly want to experience the traumas from yesterday again.
Oh please, don't be such a drama queen.
Raven? Are you alright now? Does it still hurt?
All I can feel right now are what you can physically feel. So all's well!
I let out a breath of relief.
Although, I still feel much weaker than before. So there's that.
I am sorry, Raven. I didn't know I hit you. I-
Yeah, yeah. If you really want to make up for it then agree to what we discussed yesterday.
Yesterday? About…this world being an anime? And instead of the original protagonist, I showed up in his place?
Yup. And also about how I want you to follow the anime's canon.
All of what she said was still simply too absurd for me to trust. Alternate dimensions I can stomach, because there's somewhat explainable science behind that. But bringing in a TV show?
I ran my hand over my face, though it was made slightly awkward as I was wary of my sharp claws. I got up to my feet as the last of the Xer'Sai shell crumbled into the air.
Look, what's the harm? Just run with it a little and see how it goes. You can still research ways for getting back to Earth. My magic is weak right now so you can run around freely in that form. Plus you will be able to fit into smaller spaces now.
Okay. I guess I'll give your idea a test run. I've never seen this anime before so I'll be relying on you to tell me where I'm supposed to be.
Deal. Pleasure doing business with you!
I grunted my agreement and took stock of myself once more.
Well first things first, I got to take care of my lack of clothes. Different gender or not, it's still my body.
It's really…obtrusive, for lack of a better word, to look down and see such glaring differences.
You know, now that I think about it, this body might just be me when I was human. Minus all the monster bits of course.
Oh. Sorry for looking. We should probably get some clothes.
Yeah, let's. It's getting kinda awkward.
Raven's voice fell silent and I didn't have anything to say either. I couldn't leave the classroom to go ask for spare clothes, so I waited until Louise comes to get me for whatever she had planned today.
We were supposed to go see the school's headmaster this morning, and later, if we aren't in too much trouble, we are to sit down and have a proper chat with each other. I'm actually looking forward to that. I have some questions I want answered.
Actually I always seem to have questions that need answering. Not surprising given the situation I'm in, but I am glad that the list of questions seem to be shortening somewhat.
/* - */
Really, Louise should have at least learnt that black haired maid's name so she could request her next time. Having this random maid who had no experience in what to expect of her familiar complicated the situation somewhat.
It seems this maid was quite skittish and the abnormal appearance of Louise's humanoid familiar was enough to trouble the maid. She second guessed everything she said and did, and took too long to do anything.
Alas, the maid managed to procure some spare commoner's clothes for her, yet again, transformed familiar. Albeit needing a few round trips to get the right size. This maid's inability to adapt and cope with unique situations had Louise appreciating the convenience of the original maid, who tended to Rek'Sai, a lot more.
Before she dismissed the maid, she asked for the black haired maid. Black being a very rare as far as hair colours are concerned, so asking for the maid by that description yielded instant results. The maid told Louise that the original maid's name is Siesta, but unfortunately she was not available today as she had already been requested to attend to another noble.
It was unfortunate, but Louise knew that the early bird gets the worm. She'll request for this 'Siesta' as a personal maid later. Her allowance from home should be able to cover the cost. It wouldn't leave her much, but she never had the need to go shopping for anything save the essentials.
Once her familiar was decent, they had breakfast in the Alvis Dining Hall. Rek'Sai was ordered to wait outside and had no food as punishment for her misconduct yesterday. After Louise had her fill, they walked in silence to the headmaster's office. Rek'Sai silently accepting her punishment while they walked. At least, it seemed that way to Louise.
To any passers-by, they look to be a mage master leading her dutiful servant. Internally, however, Louise's mind was getting impatient with her many questions for her familiar. She wanted a familiar that could make her stand out, be respected, and finally shake loose of her mocking moniker: Zero.
She got what she wanted, but not quite as she expected. Her familiar was a mystery. Sometimes a monster, sometimes a woman, or an imitation of one. Guiche's exclamation of 'Demon' and 'Succubus' almost makes sense, but Rek'Sai's attitude doesn't normal seem malicious. Louise would describe her familiar's personality as 'wild'. As in always in flux. She couldn't really pin a mood or attitude that defines her familiar.
Sometimes Rek'Sai would be receptive to instructions, sometimes she would be a mischievous troublemaker, another time she would be filled with cold fury, and sometimes she would become beast like, feral and wild.
That chaotic nature boded ill for what her familiar actually was. A demon from Utangard seemed a more and more likely explanation for her familiar's nature.
Louise's heart skipped a few beats as she realised what that could imply. If and when the church catches wind of a demonic summon, she will very likely be taken in for questioning. Her family name would be in jeopardy and the only way to save their name was if she was disowned. Her life would be in ruins!
Louise kept her outward appearance calm and collected as she climbed a set of stairs with Rek'Sai in tow. She breathed deeply in order to calm down and reminded herself that it was all speculations for now. Nothing was concrete information yet, although the seed of doubt had already been planted.
However, brief moment of mental stillness was quickly replaced by frustration. An emotion felt so often it was almost like a friend to Louise. It stems from her failures, her inability to do anything right, not just magic. At times she would even sink so low as to ask if this was her fate in life; to be a failure, to be Zero.
Louise would always slap herself after a few moments of thinking that way. She promised her mother, she promised herself, that she would strive to become an accomplished mage no matter what difficulties lie in her way. If she didn't have this drive to move forward, she doubt she would have lasted until now, the second year of her studies here at Tristain Academy.
She's a daughter of the Vallière family for Brimir's sake! She had been sent to the most prestigious institution for the magic arts! There was no way she would fail when she had been put on a path with so much opportunity!
With her resolve set straight, her walk became a march. She slowed her pace as she reached the long hallway before the office, adjusting her clothes and checking her hair as she went. By the time she reached the large set of doors, she was confident her appearance was well presentable.
She looked back at her familiar, who looked back neutrally at her. Louise thought the plain commoner clothes were unfit for meeting the more esteemed nobles such as the headmaster, but she wasn't about to go buy Rek'Sai proper servant's clothes just for the occasion. She shouldn't spend so much on the care of her familiar if Rek'Sai was going to be this much trouble. It was Rek'Sai's fault that they were going to see the headmaster in the first place. Another problem was that if Rek'Sai decided to morph back into her monstrous form, the clothes will be torn in the process, much like the gardening clothes she had been wearing yesterday.
Still, they were about to see the headmaster himself, Old Osmond as most people call him. So Louise turned back to adjust her familiar's clothes.
"We're about to see Headmaster Osmond. You should have made yourself as presentable as possible without anyone telling you." Louise admonished.
However, she chose to fix her familiar's clothes herself as she thought Rek'Sai maybe didn't know how clothes were worn normally, being a beast and all.
The beast-morph looked a bit surprised at first, but stayed silent, offering a nod in acknowledgement. Her vibrant, purple eyes trained on Louise's hands as she tucked her shirt in and combed her equally vibrant and purple hair back neatly. Rek'Sai had to kneel a little and bend her head down awkwardly for Louise to reach.
When Louise was done she stood back and nodded to herself.
"Thank you Master." Rek'Sai said.
"I hope you were paying attention. This is how you should present yourself when meeting anyone. I will not have you lower the standards of my family. Am I understood?" Louise asked sternly, arms crossed.
"…Yes Master." Rek'Sai intoned after a slight pause.
"Good." Louise certainly hoped one lesson would be enough. The unspoken threat of more missed meals should encourage Rek'Sai's behaviour to be more obedient.
Louise turned her attention back to the doors and knocked.
Time to accept responsibility, Louise thought a little bitterly.
/* - */
(1) - Caitlyn's sniping shot is different to her other basic attacks. While she does have a long range for her basic shots, this sniping shot can aim at a target that is several times farther. It requires her to stand still and aim for a longer time than her usual shots.
(2) - The League of Legend's map consists of three lanes: 'top', 'middle', and 'bottom' lane. There are five players, so in terms of the 'meta' of the game, two players go to the bottom lane, one goes to the middle, and one to the top. There will be one player leftover, and he/she will go into the 'jungle' of the map. The jungle is set between the three lanes. It consists of jungle monsters which give different buffs for the jungler to better ambush the lane players for his team.
(3) - Every player has six slots for storing items that they can buy. Items bought in the match do different things depending on its properties, some boosts armour, health, magical damage, etc. Through the choice of the items (items cannot stack upon itself to occupy the same slot), the player can specialise their character to have specific builds such as heavy physical attack champion, a defensive champion, a supportive champion, a heavy magical attack champion, etc. The optimal build depends on the champion selected.
(4) - In the lore of League of Legends, Summoners are us, the players, and the map, Summoner's Rift, is a place where diplomatic disputes are settled by the Summoners. The Summoners will choose a champion, the characters in League of Legends, to battle. Champions and Summoners will communicate through some sort of magical link to coordinate their movements. Summoners have two spells that can be used in every match to aid their champion. Spells can be chosen before every game from a list. The most common spell that most players will pick is 'Flash'.
/* - */
AN: The chapter turned out to be a more characterisation chapter than a plot chapter. I know the Louise here seem a lot more subdued than the anime portrayal but that's intentional. I wanted to write more realistic characters rather than the Japanese anime archetype derived version. So the 'over-the-top' reactions found originally in the characters will be toned down. Characters actually reason. Not saying that they will be completely unaffected by their emotions, but their actions will be more reasonable.
Until next time.