Disclaimer: I make to claim to own either of these properties and make no profit from this work. I'm just playing in their sandboxes.
A View From The Other Side
By: Mage-Alia (Auraion)
Summary: Taylor awakens a different kind of power. A magic that lets her walk the border between worlds. Though at first she struggles with the mysteries of the world, it opens doors to new opportunities when all she's ever done is look through the windows.
Everything had consequences.
Life, death, powers.
There were many influences on the world.
But then again, there always had been.
Long, Long ago, before para-humans were a thing, gods, spirits and magic existed in all corners of the earth. Although these days spirits and gods were forgotten, magic users had slipped between the cracks, but if you knew how to SEE, one could find them in the most mundane of places.
As such, the laws of magic decided that blood and family were the strongest link of all. So when Taylor triggered in the locker her magic, her blood, threw
off the alien connection and opened her eyes to that other world. She spent weeks praying for someone to help her, to stop the spirits haunting her. Monsters that linger where humans gather leap out of the dark corners of her world, Winslow has turned into it's own special hell she dreads returing to.
But then, finally, something answers in her dreams.
A woman, blatantly tall, with long thin limbs and dark straight hair. With a wide smiling mouth and a rather modest bust. She's all the things Taylor is and more, but she is beautiful in a way that is both attractive and terrifying.
"So you're me one that has been calling through dimensions. Hmmm, I suppose I can take on another student, You have much to learn."
And that was how Taylor came to be apprenticed to The Witch.
Her home appeared in the middle of downtown, in an empty lot that was so out of place there HAD to be a stranger effect in play. For the most part she ends up playing house keeper. Yuko had a multitude of chores and busy work to keep her mind off the monsters both real and imagined until one day, she begins to realize that the work, in conjunction with Yuko's stories were lessons in their own right.
She absorbs the knowledge, and slowly, she finds control.
And the monsters that she sees aren't just monsters anymore.
Their first customer was a multi dimensional one.
A man in need of help is from a fantasy world and he begs for aid from the great witch Yuko. From his request Taylor learns the consequences of using her own power to help and how she can balance the scales.
"The world is full of mirrors and reflections, there is a natural give and take. Our ability to see both worlds holds value in the aspect that we can broker an exchange among both mystical and mundane." Yuko instructs.
The man, a knight, needs a cure for on illness, he gives up his sword in exchange for the medicine that would save his friends. He leaves, happy with his decision even as Taylor stores it away in Yuko's collection. The blade, a finely honed and often used, is a living thing that apparently approves of the exchange.
The knight is relieved, he's done great and terrible deeds, but now he'd rather be a healer than to hurt.
And so it goes, she serves Yuko, learns at her side, spirits come and go, curious about her as she learns their games.
The asian communities in the dock side area of town became her new frequent haunt at night.
Since kyushu sank the people weren't the only ones displaced.
A yuki-onna here, a kitsune there.
They treat her with wonderment and respect and she does the same. She's dressed for a festival that humans have forgotten. A long kimono borrowed from Yuko, a wide flat hat with veils and a cherry red flower patterned lantern in her hand, trotting along the foot path. Hanging from her other arm is a Tanuki. It followed her home one evening after she'd fed it, not realizing that it wasn't a racoon. Yuko had laughed for days as she'd tried to get it to leave, but eventually she'd decided that if it was going to hang around it could make itself useful.
He'd been her familiar ever since.
It's late and she's still full of wonder from the parade of monsters she'd been invited to attend when a fight, spills over into the street.
She stops to watch as a group riding a trio of big mutated dogs run from an angry rage dragon.
As the fight progresses Lung sees her standing on the street corner, unconcerned. It's just enough of a surprise that he blinks and gets knocked out by a lucky hit. The Undersiders beat it as a roar of an engine sounds in the night and Armsmaster, the local protectorate leader, arrives. Seeing someone in clear Japanese garments standing over the downed asian cape, he immediately mistakes her for an enemy.
"You gonna Fight me?"
He can't see her face, but it's clear to anyone watching that there's a raised eyebrow in there somewhere. She shakes her head in mute silence and watches him go to tranquilize the dragon. He wouldn't have woken. The first thing she'd done was have Tanuki use his illusions to keep him out. The hero tries to question her but she merely gathers her familiar and lifts her lantern, strolling with deceptive calm into the suddenly misty night and out of sight.
She breaks into a run after she turns the corner, going back to Yuko's house with all due haste to gush to her teacher about the wonder's of the parade and
the footnote of the cape fight.
She learns that she is allowed to act on her own, in the little touches and ways that are considered loopholes. Acting with the blessings and aid of others lessens the strain, but when she does go out of her way, payment is also due. For services in distracting Lung, Tanuki vanishes overnight and appears by her side the next morning with a dog's chew toy, a boxing glove, a paper heart a razor blade and a screwdriver. They're seemingly inconsequential, but each item has an aura around it.
(Simple joy, heavy history, trauma, melancholy loss, a distracted drive.)
They're relics of their owners and Yuko takes one look at them and presents her with a box in which to keep them.
It's the beginning of her collection.
The excitable Japanese woman gifts her the kimono and the hat, if she's to meet with her clients when the needed to put on the right airs. She wasn't a parahuman but if she was going to set up shop she was going to need to look the part.
Her new place of residence is nothing but a small shrine, she learns warding spells, how to banish bend and gift. She learns magic and one day Yuko decides she's learned all the can. Taylor is sad to see her go. But with her shrine sitting in the place of Yuko's house and a small nest egg she's given her the best possible start. Besides when the walls between worlds are thin she can visit her master in those distant realms. She'll miss her Master, Mokona and the twin girls that live with the eccentric caster, but she's got her Tanuki and her Friends among the spirits, she'll be fine.
Few people see her shrine. Spirits and creatures visit regularly though, feeling safe to be themselves behind her wards. She don's a working garb and tends to it like a caretaker, forfills spiritual requests, plays with her familiar, and life is oddly peaceful.
Until a woman finds herself in her yard. There's, cape fight outside, members of the ABB and the empire if she's not mistaken and the young mother carries her child, looking around with wide eyes, she's upset and afraid.
But Taylor knows a customer when she sees one.
She dons a hakama over her shrine maiden garb and grabs her veiled hat. She collects her lantern and makes tea while Tanuki turns into a small boy who opens me door.
"Miss! Miss! come in Mama made tea." The woman's face is the picture of discomfort looking at the obviously asian property, but the fight outside is worse and she chooses to enter. She comes up short at the sight of whom she thinks is a cape, but somehow ends up seated at the low table set with high tea pouring out her life story, while the odd little boy in the strange tailed uniform plays with her child. The baby is happy and calm and utterly enchanted.
She admits then, that she's terrified for the safety of the sweet little girl. Taylor listens, without judgement, empathizing with her plight, and ponders how she can grant the woman's request for safe haven, a new start, when the wards on the other entrance activate. A desperate looking young man drops out of a portal in the yard beside the porch where they'd been taking tea. He begs her help in bringing light back to his world and breaking the curse on his line
Taylor listens, wonders if it can't be that simple, casts a critical eye over the woman who had started glowing when the intruder had dropped in, and smiles.
Its wide and unnerving and neither Man nor Woman need to see it to know it means trouble.
Where better to hide a princess. Than another world entirely.
Kayden Anders isn't sure she likes the sudden cat and canary air the woman has, but the is strangely aware of how handsome the man on the other side of the table is.
Months later the shrine gets a package via the spirits.
A letter, a photo of an older Purity beside a King with a new baby and a preteen princess, and a piece of wedding cake.
Taylor and Tanuki split the cake as they read about years of adventures that lead to her falling in love with the prince and using her powers (ultimately losing them) to restore light to his world, but she's remarried, happy and glad she stumbled into her shrine.
At the bottom is a mask. The note says she doesn't need it any more and it's with ritual air that she and Tanuki, place it on the shelf of her storeroom.
All they'd done way give her an opportunity, the young mother had taken it with both hands and brought happiness to herself. )
Tanuki takes a liking to looking like a child.
His kind traditionally take human appearances but being a little boy is fun and even those jaded by life in the bay still play with him while Taylor goes to school.
She still goes home to awkward conversations and to sleep, but her life in the shrine has become the norm rather than the exception. The trio have stopped being a thing. They still try to torment her, but the sting has faded, they are unchanging and Taylor is now very different. When she uses her powers on them, it's the one and only time she uses her power for herself. She gives them a karmic curse, any honest kindness upon others will be returned upon them, while harm intended will only bring misfortune.
It's effects are subtle and out of all of them it's Madison that understands first. Given that of all of them she is the least invested, she still acts kind in her time away from the others. The quieter girl realizes something is fishy and changes, the whole school watches with her as misfortune is visited upon Emma and Sophia over and over again.
And then one day she appears at the shrine.
Her Feet have carried her and she doesn't know how or why, but she's there with her phone in hand and a thumb drive, she no longer has her curse, she turned it into a blessing.
Madison hands her the phone and thumb drive and it's like her shoulders have released a huge burden. The girl gives her sincerest appologies to the masked woman like it's the most natural thing in the world, she's so much more aware of her impact on the world and honestly wants to do good for it. Taylor invites her for tea. She takes off her hat and Madison wonders who this Beautiful, unearthly, long limbed woman is.
But she doesn't care. She has a new friend to talk to about her hopes, dreams and capes, Especially capes. A part of Taylor's burden is eased too. She no longer has to maintain the curse on one of its recipients and her own forgiveness eases her own karmic imprint. She volunteers at a shelter and while self serving to a degree, the act of helping others without her powers is keeping her own in balance.
Even when she doesn't need to keep going any more she still goes twice a week and Madison sometimes joins her. She still doesn't notice the link between Taylor and the woman introduced as Mahou, but she has long since moved on and Taylor doesn't mind at all.
Her reputation as a witch comes when Lung accuses her of causing his capture.
"The witch distracted him." he says and the protectorate make that her codename.
With no idea what she can do besides having an animal companion and vanishing into thin air, she's given a stranger rating and her file is left blank.
A day later Armsmaster finds the creature deep within his Lab on the rig with a screwdriver in hand. It vanishes before he can grab it and he adds Master to the assessment just to spite them. It takes him weeks of searching among various crisis to track her down and eventually discovers the anomaly in the middle of down town and wonder's how he didn't notice the place before. Its wooden fence, carved with stars and moons, sticks out like a sore thumb as he drives down the busy street.
He pulls over but when he crosses the threshhold onto the property it's like he's stepped into another world.
The busy city around him falls away and even though he hadn't really heard anything he knows now that he was always bombarded by noise because now it is silent. He'd never even realized how much sound existed just in his own mind. The creature from his lab hustles out of the small house/ temple? and in a puff of smoke becomes a small boy.
The changer still wears ears and a tail, he's wearing a pristine white shirt, black shorts, ankle high black boots and a waist coat. He all but dances up to him and grabs his hand, dragging him inside.
"Hey! Come in already! Mama made tea! " It's practiced to be cute, he can see it plain as day now that the noise is no longer distracting him, but he follows, allowing the changer to guide him and even setting his Halberd into a stand that holds a dozen other weapons by the front door. He's pushed onto a cushion at low table and on the other side is the cape. She's dressed down but clearly the same person. Her hair is longer, her hat and veils hide her face but they don't hide her expressions in the least.
Patience, amusement, they radiate off her while she serves tea in a small delicate cup that is dwarfed by his armored hands.
"I was looking for you." he admits, frowning because he can't for the life of him remember why. He has to think about it, without the voice whispering answers to his mind.
"I wanted to find you because it would help me. Help my career to bring in a new villain, or a new cape. " He keeps going and his frown grows deeper "I thought you worked for Lung because your costume is Asian, but you haven't been seen since then. Not even when Lung escaped."
He frowns because for me first time he can hear himself, And he wonders if he always sounded like that. The silent cape's head tips to the side before the sets the cup in her hands on the table and stands, he follows her toward the back of the room because he's not sure what else to do. She leads him to a store room and vanishes inside coming back out with a box. It's full of random objects but his breath catches when he sees it. His First screwdriver is there. She hands it to him, wrapping his gauntlet around it and he remembers. Remembers the kid with the fascination for machines and the parents that were rarely there, of the boy who wanted to make his parents proud so they'd pay attention to him.
Where had that boy gone?
In the silence the woman speaks, her voice low, but she may have been shouting for how loud it seemed in the absence of anything else.
"Over time we grow." She starts, "New experiences shape us and memories Fade. But a mask is just a mask and you are still a man beneath it. Sometimes even the mightiest of heroes need to remember where the man finishes and the Mask begins." He stares at it for what feels like an eternity before he holds it back out to her.
"Would you remind me if I lost my way?"
She takes it and it goes back into the box of trinkets that he now knows are memories... no, not memories.
These are the memories of what made them who they are. She's smiling as she puts the box back on the shelf beside a white mask that Looks passingly familiar
"It would be my pleasure." he's smiling too as they go back to the tea, it's cold but as she makes a fresh pot he's happy just remembering himself.
(He doesn't realize he's left his most recent Halberd in her coat rack until he's back in his lab with the light and the noise, and he curses.)
Taylor isn't sure when she added extra rooms to her shrine home, but it's a new thing to pass through a small labyrinth to reach the bathroom, she picks up her lantern and with a twist of magic she and Tanuki are strolling behind a light that points to the heart of the maze. When she gets there she finds a young woman that's only half awake, but no less distressed.
"I'm trapped here," She says, sounding lost. "I don't know how to get out. "
Her name is Ellie.
Her cape name is Labyrinth.
"So you wish to leave? or just learn how to find your way?"
The girl curls in on herself.
"I don't want to be lost anymore." Taylor looks at the lantern and hands it to the girl.
"Where do you want to go?" She asks and Labyrinth locks perplexed.
"Home?" She asks more than says.
"And where is home?" Taylor probes further and the girl thinks.
Where is home?
Once she might have said with her parents, or the asylum with Mimi, but closer still is a warm bed, food and friends.
Home with the others in the Palanquin.
She jumps when the lantern glows brighter, she nearly drops it but catches herself and Taylor nods at the lights.
"Shall we see where they go?"
So with her familiar twining between her feet, one hand in Taylor's and the other holding the lantern high, they follow the lights.
Soon grass become floors and the ruins become walls and they pass under an archway that leaves them blinking in sunlight outside a large modern looking building with a large sign above the door.
Labyrinth no longer holds the cherry red lantern, but a crystal on a string, a divination pendulum usually used to find people, places and things.
It points right at the club's front door where a strangely dressed woman stands.
Labyrinth turns and hugs her strange savior.
Taylor pats her head awkwardly until the girl has an epiphany of sorts and runs past Faultline, who's still frozen in the doorway, before charging back out. Her crystal guides the way as she all but throws a book at Taylor. The book was one given to her long ago and it's part of her past that's managed to stay with her all this time but the woman in the hat, the witch that gave her a guiding light, has done her a blessing that no on else can rival, she can always find her way now, just as long as her lantern shines.
Taylor accepts it with a gravitas that the young parahuman approves of and grants her one last hug before she's bowing and walking away, leaving an overjoyed Labyrinth and and a confused Faultline behind.
It's not until she looks at the book as shes placing it on the storeroom shelf in her blessedly normal home that she realizes what it's called.
"Through the looking glass,"she murmurs. "How appropriate."
She sets it on the shelf and puts on her hat once more. She wants to visit the kitsune's noodle shop for dinner and she needs to visit the paper maker's shop in the asian market.
After all, she needs a new lantern and the old ways of making them are the best.
It's a well known fact to the spirit communities that the Endbringers are not natural, they are machines, constructs, they have no real place in the world, but that doesn't mean they don't influence the spirits, Ame Warashi, otherwise known in English as rain sprites, float ahead of Leviathan like heralds of sorrow. Fluttering coats, kimono and dresses soar beneath sombre umbrellas as they carry out their self appointed charge, forewarning others that it's time to move, to escape.
One young boy drifts to her doorstep his warning a whisper, his eyes downcast. Its bucketing down and Taylor stands under her own large wax paper umbrella in the gateway of her shrine as he leaves, her mind going a mile a minute.
Her shrine will survive, its wards are strong. She and Yuko constructed them in such a way that they take a step away from reality, she could disconnect it and wait for Leviathan to leave, but Taylor has long been one to stand firm in the face of her challenges. It's only a matter of what extent, Defending herself from an attack has no real backlash, she can do that, defending others is likewise acceptable and she's confident in her wards. But the attack is another story. She can see all the ways to harm, but they all come with dramatic costs she's not strong enough to pay or unwilling to do in the face of such an enemy. Still, as she thinks she battons down the hatches, draws her wards and charms and retrieves her father or at least tries. She can't convince him to leave the docks, but he does go to the shelter. The ogres among the dock workers recognize her and solemnly decide to look out for him.
She and her father have done them many good turns one way of another and their loyalty is humbling but welcome all the same. Her last act is is shunt her shrine out of reality before she raises her Lantern and with a determined Tanuki in stride she walls to the nearest PRT building. They're wary at her approach but it's not until Tanuki loses his patience, pops up and shouts that they react.
"Hey! Don't you know? Leviathan is coming!" Everyone in the lobby stops dead.
"Where's the gathering point?" she asks and the building descends into chaos.
Taylor just sighs. It's been raining for two days, by this point it really should have been obvious.
Still, she twists her magic again and looks for the place where they'll gather. Given how excited the PRT are after Tanuki's announcement it seemed easier to stay out of their way. So she finds a quiet bench in the lobby of the grand hotel and waits. It's enough prior warning that word gets out ahead of the PRT and Independents and villains show up first.
They're all wary and nervous, the rouges and independents take shelter close by her seat and everyone is preparing in oddly comfortable silence by the time sirens go off. They're all waiting expectantly in areas that Tanuki helpfully marked out with tape on the floor. When the heroes arrive and find them they're gobsmacked at the turnout and Taylor is rightfully smug as the out-of-towners organize themselves into her arrangement, not realizing that the Protectorate hadn't had the fore thought to do it ahead of time. Armsmaster is incensed at first but calms down quickly and nods in greeting before focusing his attention elsewhere. Plenty of others give her odd looks as she drinks her tea. A rain spirit brings her snacks at one point while she waits and she's a lone sea of calm until she sets down her cup and vanishes the tea set home.
Legend is making a speech so few notice when she ups and leaves, they do notice however, when she uses her wards to redirect the force of the tsunami around the building. With enough energy bleeding through to shake its foundations.
It gets busy after that and she's all but flying across the battle field.
She doesn't have an armband like the others and Tanuki is banished to help the hospital but she does get help from one of the flying heroes to move around. It's a pattern of dropping into clusters of champions, shielding them from waves until the water receeds and she's picked up again to wait the next turn, but it's on one frantic occasion she sees it. A brightly colored umbrella, a spirit trapped by rubble and a small animal she was trying to protect sheltered beneath her. The rain spirit tries to get the animal to go to Taylor, but she can see what the young spirit can't.
It spots her and it's eyes shine brightly.
Before she can think about if she raises her fan, a weapon she's used as a channel for the entire fight, and with the very tip she catches the reaching claw, wards redirect the force and Leviathan flies on on a wild tangent. There are squawks of surprise all over as Leviathan uses its hydrokinesis to right itself and comes back at her. She sidesteps and redirects him again. She can't move with the spirit and its charge sheltering behind her, but she can do what she's been doing the entire time.
The wind generated by the clash catches her hat and flips it off her head, her hair spills out of it's binding and her mouth is stretched wide in a vulpine smile. There's very little karmic return in defense. And try as he might, the can't pierce her barriers. Not for a safe Lack of trying. He's so fixated on her one point of defiance that he doesn't notice the others getting into place.
He doesn't notice a Tanuki delivering Armsmaster's spare halberd.
He does notice when it's fired by an out of town Fletchette into it's core.
And as the core hemorrhages water, Taylor the Witch of the Bay takes her prize.
She wades to where the shattered shell lies split open and are reaches inside, withdrawing a tiny spirit that fuses itself to her fan. A wave pattern appears on the cloth.
Satisfied with the result, she tucks it into her obi and with all the grace of queen, picks up her sodden kimono and walks out of sight.
She became known in earnest then, as The Witch That Orchestrated The Defeat Of Leviathan.
But the girl called Taylor merely hid behind her wards and didn't come out as Brockton bay went to hell in a hand basket.
And the next time she has a client it is the spirit from the battle.
The Rain sprite brings her cat with her and dotes on it as she thanks her profusely. She brings with her a food offering for Tanuki and a bouquet of flowers that when they seeded would make for some lovely seasonal blooms. She honestly saved her life that day, but Taylor accepts the gift for what it is and waives the debt.
There were times when nothing could match the price and this was one of them.
A/N: So yeah. That was a thing.
I figured of all the character that would fit Taylor's basic description Yuko was a pretty close one. The way she's animated is with a mouth so wide you just know she's gonna say everything and anything that crosses her mind. The alternate powerset revolves around keeping a karmic balance that's kinda... Shaker-ish? and it's often displayed in the Anime XxxHolic that Yuko avoids using her own magic when she can just use other people and tools to do the job. (that and it's a lesson that Watanuki seems to fail to take to heart.)
Either way, this is just a oneshot. It's not going to be continued. It was also a pain in the butt to Edit. I kinda had to this time. I found an App that reads my handwriting and puts it into a word document so I can post it but I spent the better part of the day fixing it's blind guesses as to what it was saying. My handwriting is super tiny, so I guess that's really my own fault there. XD
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