In the A/Ns for Syndicat, I believe I noted that people needed to do more stuff with transformation clichés for Mana Khemia. Actually, it needs more fic in general. And I should finish up Dragon Quest VII so I can get on to Mana Khemia 2. But, to get back on topic, I mentioned that I wanted to do something with a game mechanic item from Atelier Iris 1 & a mana from Atelier Iris 2. When you got that item in Mana Khemia just sealed the deal.

It's even a transformation cliché.

Oh, and the Mana of Light in Atelier Iris 1 is Eital, who is female. And has a tail, if I recall correctly.

In the absence of canon, I tend to give Theofratus the Mana of Time, Luplus, since he traded away Jess' future, which is her lifetime. The Vice Principal, Al Revis' eminence gris, seems to deserve Grupt, the Mana of Power, who is basically the AT1 fire mana wearing boxing gloves. She's kind of the Only Sane Man among the faculty/non-workshop Al Revis people in the final chapters. She really disapproves of Isolde and her methods. Of course, she disapproves of a lot of stuff. Being ticked off by all the nonsense and threatening beatdowns, procedural or otherwise, is kind of her role in the game.

She's very straight-laced and doesn't hesitate to throw her weight around, and among alchemists (powerful, not quite well-balanced people), you don't do that (not for long, anyway) unless you can put your money where your mouth is. The threat of expulsion wouldn't matter to aspiring evil overlords. Although, rewatching her introduction, I kind of got the feeling that Flay...

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What they should be doing, what they should have done after Sulpher's miraculous death and resurrection, was asking Vayne exactly what the hell was going on.

The others had wanted to give him some space after the traumatic events, and look what coddling Vayne had gotten them: A huge fortress-barrier surrounding the school. One that Vayne seemed to feel responsible for but couldn't seem to just wish away. Oh no, that would be far too convenient.

Roxis wanted to shake him firmly by the throat, press him against a wall and force answers out of him, but noooo, everyone was too busy feeling sorry for him to actually try to find out what was going on, and without knowing what the problem was how could they possibly solve it?

"The longer this goes on the more terrified the other students will be," Roxis repeated, trying to convince Flay for the umpteenth time to withdraw his threat to burn all of Roxis' notes, break into student affairs to change all his grades to Fs, and otherwise prevent him from graduating if he didn't leave Vayne alone.

"I know, which is why he needs his friends to stand by him. And hopeless rivals. Vayne is still Vayne." And didn't rate a passing grade as a Mad Alchemist's creation. Too nice and harmless for a hero to fight, so Flay was still going to have to be the villain. Ah well.

"Treating him as though he isn't a mana isn't going to change the truth. By refusing to talk about it, aren't you just going to give him the impression that it's shameful? That we…." Aargh!

"When Vayne's ready to talk about it we'll listen," Nikki assured him, entirely missing the point.

"This is Vayne we're talking about." All too likely to do something stupid. As though the huge demonstration of why people should be terrified him didn't count.

"Once we get rid of that thing he won't be so wound up about it anymore."

Why had he hoped that Nikki would be reasonable? "Have you considered that it might not go away until Vayne has calmed down enough and has enough control of his powers to make it disappear? What are we supposed to do, take it apart piece by piece and drop it off the island?" He flung his hands up into the air with a frustrated growl. "Oh, I give up." He whirled around, leaving the empty workshop that Flay had decided to use for the impromptu council of war and stalking towards their workshop.

He needed to synthesize. To putter around in the workshop until he could focus and ignore all the irritating people and mana. There were all sorts of new recipes available now, sold to the stores or perhaps simply given. Mainly armor and weapons.

Surely it hadn't escaped Flay's notice that practically everyone in the entire campus was preparing to 'defend themselves.' Roxis hadn't spent his childhood traveling with his father without seeing the signs of a lynch mob forming before. They'd even been run out of town on occasion themselves, when his alchemy practice was mistaken for black magic (poppycock) or people got the idea that his father had cheated them instead of winning fair and square.

His instincts were screaming at him to grab his things and get out of town fast, except he hadn't graduated yet, there was a huge black thing in the way, and Vayne certainly wouldn't come. Nor would the workshop be sensible and allow Roxis to drag him off, given the looks Flay and Anna were giving him, just in case he was going to confront Vayne. Since Flay didn't care about graduating, he might have tried to convince him to take Vayne and escape before it was too late if it had been possible to escape.

But no, there was no use banging his head against their thick skulls. He was going to think glorious thoughts of how these new syntheses would allow him to defeat Vayne. Provided, of course, the teachers didn't come to confine Vayne as dangerous, or he didn't take the coward's way out.

Growing up alone, except for a false mana that looked like a witch's familiar, it stood to reason that Vayne had seen the signs of superstitious fear before. The way he flinched from the looks in the halls…

Roxis was not going to feel sorry for him, he told himself as he sorted through the stack of new recipes. The others were doing that more than enough. He was going to… "Oh my."

After the battle, Flay and Roxis had disarmed the unconscious Isolde and searched her for weapons. Well, Anna had, since Isolde was a woman. There had been a recipe scroll among her possessions, which Roxis had pocketed. Roxis didn't want to be expelled for theft so close to graduation, but it was a recipe scroll, and the madwoman had killed him. To get at Vayne. It wasn't a fraction of what she owed him.

Or so he'd thought at the time. "Where did she get this? Theofratus? Or did the school have a copy all along and kept it secret?" Had she stolen it to synthesize the item for her confrontation with Vayne? "Brilliant stone, pentagle," those they had, "dunkelheit or glowing petal? Vayne, give me your… No, I should make one from scratch for this."

"What's got you all excited?" Nikki, glad of the change of subject, tried to peer over his shoulder.

"This recipe. The aroma material is one of the ingredients of the legendary ruby prism." Known to laymen as the Philosopher's Stone. While the aroma material itself wasn't quite that powerful, legend did say that the holy talisman had power over mana, among other things. Perhaps Isolde had hoped it would give her an advantage?

Well, it certainly didn't seem to have helped her any. Personally, Roxis thought the legends about 'holy' and 'evil' elements were just legends. Mana of light were supposed to be related to holy mana in some fashion, for one thing, and his was an unholy terror.

"Are you kidding?" Jess almost tried to grab it from him, and even Vayne seemed to be paying attention. "Oh my god, we have to make this now!"

Re-synthesizing the ingredients almost felt like old times, although it hadn't really been that long since he gave in and began doing cooperative synthesis with Vayne. Obviously he would have preferred to do it himself, but having a partner did allow him to focus on maximizing the ether levels and he certainly wasn't going to trust Jess with delicate processes.

"Worn on the body, it is said to cure any poison, ensure clear sight," he told the horribly ignorant Flay as they waited for the athanor to finish up. "purify all curses…"

"Why don't you try it out first, Vayne?" Jess held it out.

Roxis reflected that he should have felt more annoyed by such preferential treatment, but he was used to it and had brought enough materials to make several so he could run tests on them.

In fact, there was a certain satisfaction in seeing Vayne get special treatment because he was an object of pity instead of admiration, for once. So obscenely talented, so… Wait. If he had been a mana all along, then perhaps alchemy was simply instinctive for him?

He couldn't wait to study him. Well, here was his first opportunity."I wonder if wearing it will have any effect," he murmured to Pamela, who was hovering next to him and watching Vayne with her creepy 'this is going to be great!' smile. Over the centuries, she must have amassed a great deal of knowledge, even if her head was…

"Ooooh, shiny!"

Yes, Vayne was shining, looking thoroughly alarmed. The flash forced Roxis to blink, first to clear his vision and then because he couldn't believe what he was seeing.

"You look so cute!" Pamela squealed, floating up to where Vayne floated, looking dazed and confused.

And female.

A lot younger too, but, but female. What on earth?

"Metamorphosing makes a lot of mana look so much less cute. Eital used to have a little fluffy tail, well, now she's fluffy all over but when she became Paltia she was all tail," Pamela babbled without any care for the various degrees of panic everyone else was feeling.

Anna was just startled, for now. Hopefully she would stay startled and not get any of her usual funny ideas. Flay looked deeply disturbed. Nikki's hair was standing on end, her tail was sticking straight out, and she was practically babbling.

Muppy seemed to be wondering what all the fuss was about. Perhaps it thought people suddenly switching gender was normal, given that Muppy had spawned one time despite being male. Roxis had woken up the next morning really, really hoping that had just been a dream.

Jess was going up and taking Vayne's hand to help him get back onto the ground, cooing over him. Her. There were odd sorts of cloth things Roxis didn't know the names of in her hair. Her dress was also rather strange, not that he knew much about dresses either. White hair and blue eyes had changed to black and purple. She was cute enough, he supposed, but Roxis had never understood why people acted like that around children. Cats, now…

"You knew this was going to happen!" Anna accused Pamela.

"Silly, of course I didn't know. There are a lot of mana who don't metamorphose, like Teddy. You're so lucky, Vayne!"

"But you were hoping something like this would happen?" Nikki looked like she wanted to yell at Pamela, as though that ever helped with her.

"…How do I change back?" Vayne looked like he just wanted this day to be over. Not a 'why me' but resignation combined with a bit of pleading that wasn't actually very hopeful. No: they all knew Pamela would want to milk this for all the amusement she could.

On Vayne that expression had been infuriating, since Roxis generally got it when he refused Vayne's help. Because of course Vayne could solve all of Roxis' problems instantly even though Roxis had been trying for years. It was so incredibly, infuriatingly insulting, and people expected him to be grateful for this condescension?

On a little girl, for some reason, it actually looked rather adorable. It wasn't triggering the urge to talk baby talk, but rather the urge to pat her on the head and make everything better. Then he, not Vayne, would be the savior, the kind soul given thanks and admiration.

"You just do, silly!" Pamela giggled.

Vayne closed his eyes, face scrunching up, clearly trying. It clearly wasn't working. "But… I don't know how. No matter how hard I try, it just won't come to me." Vayne seemed to find this deeply, disturbing. Even on the edge of terrifying. "I want to figure it out, but I can't! It's like it's just not there anymore!"

"You can't have lost your mana powers, you were still floating." Normally Roxis would have prefaced that with an insult, but given who else was here (and they certainly couldn't go to the faculty) he was going to have to figure out how to solve this if Vayne couldn't. "There were references saying that one of the ingredients of the ruby prism could transform mana into more refined elements, as opposed to merely changing their shapes. So perhaps you've lost your power to wish… You were just wishing you would figure everything out?! Don't tell me you just wished you knew the answers to exam questions too!"

He should have felt bad seeing how hurt Vayne was, but Vayne wasn't denying it and it was just so unfair.

"Roxis, leave him-her-leave Vayne alone. And it's not as though exams actually matter." Flay was trying to be his usual overdramatic self and reassure Vayne. It just made Roxis seethe more. Of course exams had never mattered to Flay. He'd never even had to take the entrance exam Roxis had slaved over.

"I might have. I don't think transforming would have made me stupider, but when I try to think, to really think, I just can't. I can't get anything to come to me." Vayne looked utterly lost. Sulpher meowed up at him and Vayne paled even further, face ghost-pale next to now-black hair. "Sulpher?"

Another meow.

"I can't understand you." Now, now Vayne looked like the world was ending, like his best friend had just died. Or he might never be able to speak to them again. In the library, that time, Vayne had said that he envied Roxis' family. Sulpher was all the family he had. When Isolde had caused Sulpher's death, he had been orphaned a second time. Now? "I can't understand Sulpher! Pamela, please!" Vayne was begging her, looking more irresistibly cute than Pamela ever had.

Pamela's pouts were fake, poisonous sugar-sweet, but Vayne's sadness was real. She looked like she was about to cry. All these revelations, becoming hated by the school, and now this?

"Can't you just take it off," Nikki tried.

"It's not there anymore!"

"Do any of your mana know how to undo this?"

The Mana of Wind was the only one to appear. "The alchemist always did it for me."

"In a controlled fashion. While I just let Vayne put it on." To see what would happen. He didn't like Vayne, but he shouldn't have treated a living being as an experiment. "I don't see any alternative. We're going to have to go to the faculty." He shouldn't try to figure it out himself, shouldn't experiment on Vayne or prolong his suffering. "I think we can trust the vice-principal." She was the only one who had spoken up for Vayne. She was also the only sensible one. "We need to discover what your new element is, you may be able to use it. What would be a 'more refined form' of wishes?"

"Never fear, I shall ensure that Madame lends Vayne her full assistance!" The Vice Principal was tied down in meetings over the fate of the school (and surely Vayne's fate as well), but if anyone could drag her back here Flay could, Roxis knew.

Vayne watched him rush off as Sulpher leaped into her arms, mrowing comfortingly. It seemed to help, even though it rubbed in that she could no longer understand him.

"Mana of Wind, what do you metamorphose into?" Since she had spoken up, surely she had at some point.

"Me? The Mana of Lightning. Flame becomes Power, Water becomes Spirit, Light becomes Holy, Darkness becomes Evil…"

Roxis listened to the list, frowning. More refined forms indeed. More powerful, more distant from the physical realm and physical limitations. That offered hope that Vayne could cure herself, but what if Vayne's new abilities were even more dangerous?

More dangerous, more refined than bringing the dead back to life? That was the stuff of legends, a power thought reserved for the gods. Nectar had sometimes been mistaken for something that could bring back the dead, but it required that some thread of life still be present.

Bringing back the dead.. . and killing. Through wishes, Vayne possessed power over life and death. What principle did wishes draw on? Flame was energy, a force, so power made sense. He didn't see the connection between water and spirit, though, so could he reason out Vayne's new power from his old?

Everyone's mana had already manifested. The fact that his own hadn't mocked him yet was suspicious.

"Why don't we take this to the workshop?" It was only when Muppy said that that Roxis and the others realized they had an audience, between the athanor attendant and the people who had heard the commotion and were looking through the door.

They didn't just scatter, they fled when they saw the workshop, saw Vayne look at them. Was it already that bad?

Jess held Vayne's hand as they walked back, thankful the workshop was so close. Roxis stalked ahead, clearing the corridors with glares.

That felt good, but it didn't solve the problem.

"It's strange, I don't know what to do. I can tell they want me to go away, but I have to figure it out from how they're acting," Vayne told Jess quietly.

"Here, why don't we synthesize something else while we're waiting?" Nikki shooed them over to the cauldron.

"We need more pentagles." They were always needing more pentagles recently, but it was almost a relief to hear Vayne pull himself together. He was generally the one who kept track of those things: Flay, the nominal workshop head, certainly wasn't the sort to actually be responsible.

Roxis hovered nearby as Jess helped Vayne synthesize. "How do you feel when you synthesize? If you're not using Sulpher's power, you have to be using your own. Tell me if anything feels different."

"I think I," Vayne put the next ingredient in. "Like this. Like I liked helping people. I mean, I still like helping people," please believe that, "but now it's just because I like it. I want to help people," Vayne realized. "It's so strange. To want things and not have them happen. No, just to want things." There was a frown before Vayne was buried in the act of creation.

The pentagle was perfect, as always. Then Vayne drew out another, and another. "I made them," she explained, softly. "Making things, that's it. I want to make things. I wanted to make that prison because I didn't want to hurt anyone, but I couldn't bear to leave the school. I have friends here, I'm not alone, I couldn't bear to leave you. So, if I were locked here, away from the world, it would be safe and I could keep all of you safe. You wouldn't run away and leave me or chase me away like everyone else did. Except Sulpher."

"Run away?" Roxis snorted.

"We'd never run away from you, Vayne," Jess agreed for entirely different reasons.

They could see those shoulders relax, just a little. "I think it's a good thing I don't have the power of wishes right now," she told them, turning and smiling sadly. "Because when I was wishes it was really hard to have wishes of my own. They were all tangled up with everyone else's wishes so I couldn't tell what they were even if I did have them, most of the time. But now, I wish, I really, really wish, that Ms. Isolde didn't hate me. She loved Father, so she might have been my mother. I really, really, wish, more than anything, that my father hadn't wished to die, and if I wished that I would change everything. All those years would have happened differently, and we might never have become friends. I finally understand what it means to wish for things and not wish for them at the same time. I finally understand what it means, to want things for myself… and to not be able to have them."

Roxis wanted to say something about the human condition, about how now Vayne knew what it was like not to be so very blessed, how he was better than Vayne because he'd actually earned his small fraction of Vayne's blessings.

But he loved his family, mad as they all were, and he knew what it was like to not really be able to have a mother either. She loved him, that wasn't the problem. Or perhaps she had loved her idea of him, if he had stayed with her instead of wandering around like a vagabond with his horrible excuse of a father and abandoned those silly ideas about alchemy and used his brain for something respectable, like the law.

"So it's good that I don't have my powers now, and that I won't be able to really know what I want when I go back to normal. Because Ms. Isolde is right, in some ways. I could do a lot of horrible things, if I wanted to. I wouldn't want to hurt anybody, but it's what my heart wants that matters, not what I know is best. I want the prison to go away, but I just don't want to lose you guys."

Jess and Nikki hugged her, Pamela joining in. Roxis and Anna weren't the huggy type, and fortunately Muppy wasn't either.

They started cooing over her and comforting her, which was a relief to Roxis because there was some vague feeling that those things needed to be done and he was certainly the last person on earth who should attempt it.

He didn't know how to deal with this Vayne. With 'his' Vayne there was the urge to wipe that hopeful little smile off his face… Pummel him into submission… Beat his own head against the wall in sheer frustration…Alright, no, he didn't know how to deal with Vayne in any way, shape, or form.

Vayne had always been simply too nice to be real. That simply couldn't be his real personality, and only an utter bastard would have chosen that as their mask. Oh, everybody loved Vayne.

Until now.

And now Vayne was apologizing for crying, of all things. He looked away to preserve what was left of Vayne's dignity and hoped Jess and Nikki would fix it somehow. Nikki had wanted to have an absurd number of children, so she surely had to have motherly instincts?

He wanted to fix this, but wishing didn't make it so and he seemed to have even less aptitude for this than alchemy. Or was he taking the coward's way out by not at least trying to help? By giving up?

Sending Pamela off to search the library for anything helpful, with Anna to keep her in line, was really just a token effort. He could have escaped by going with them, but although he had died because of Vayne, the mana had still saved his life. He was trying to think of how to say that he didn't actually hate him or regret meeting him without an insult every other sentence to cover up how utterly embarrassing it would be when Flay announced, "I come bearing faculty!"

If drugged, Roxis might have admitted that his role model had once been Theofratus Aurelius. Oh, he'd soaked up the stories of his ancestors' marvels, but he'd been a child when Theofratus was traveling the world, curing impossible diseases, making palaces appear overnight and other amazing feats. While his family's glory days had long since passed, Theofratus had proved that alchemy was still alive today, that it was possible for him to achieve his dreams.

After meeting Vayne, inheritor of that legacy, he had come to curse the name Aurelius, and then Isolde had revealed how he'd gone mad and created Vayne only to force Vayne to kill him (because surely it couldn't have gone any other way), and otherwise cause Vayne to have had a childhood that made Roxis feel like he'd had absolutely nothing to complain about and was an utter bastard for saying he had more right to feel sorry for himself than Vayne did.

And practically all the other alchemists he knew were… Isolde was insane, the principal was weak willed, Melanie was downright scary, and so on.

The vice principal, however, was a woman after his own heart.

Quite possibly literally, at the moment, since had very clearly had enough of this nonsense already today. The school was near panic, the principal was being useless, Isolde should never have been allowed to take things this far, and she was surrounded by idiots.

Then, to top it all off, she had been dragged away from those idiots by their king.

They scrambled to explain the situation as she tapped her foot, arms folded.

Seeing the dangerous mana had become another sort of probably dangerous mana that wasn't even able to fix the last problem it had made seemed to be the last straw. Roxis watched that straw fall gently down onto the load carried by her temper.

And there was absolutely no visible change.

"Since all mana make things through synthesis, we cannot confirm that is your element. Isolde collected Theofratus' books and journals from his workshop. He had information on many rare mana, such as his own. She will also explain why she allowed you to find that recipe."

"But, do you really think she'll help us?" Nikki looked rather doubtful. "I mean, she hates Vayne."

"That woman has already allowed her personal matters to repeatedly endanger this school and its students." And she had the gall to disobey my (indirect) orders to handle this discretely and gather actual evidence instead of attacking.

Ernentraud's theory had been that Theofratus had simply had a bastard child and either not told Isolde or Isolde was in denial about it. If Isolde had been wrong, well, students died all the time despite the infirmary's best efforts. But it reflected badly on her school to have murderers among the faculty.

Isolde would be leaving the school's staff shortly one way or another, the principal's infernal wishy-washyness be damned. "I will personally ensure her compliance. Now, come along." Her hands clapped together firmly, ending the conversation and sending a shockwave through the room, the one sign so far that she was actually angry instead of just her usual level of annoyance.

"At once, Madame!" Seeing the look in Flay's eyes, Roxis realized that he wasn't the only one who admired her style.

Who knew Flay had a thing for older women?

Or perhaps just for powerful women, given the way he pulled Anna's metaphorical pigtails.

A look ordered Vayne to stay next to her, Flay went on ahead to, "Make way, make way!" and Jess and Nikki hung back, whispering to each other. Roxis kept relatively close to them and winced when she took Vayne's hand to make him hurry up without even looking at him. It wasn't her she was mad at, but Vayne always took everything too personally.

Isolde sat bold upright when they entered the room, seeming to recognize Vayne. "But… it can't be."

"Ms. Isolde?" If you would be so kind to explain before I am forced to take steps?

"Theofratus was never able to find the Mana of Creation. He thought that Lilith had been the one destroyed in the experiments. They wanted to be able to make more mana, to have their power. This is his metamorphosis? Vayne, you have to understand, you were dangerous, too dangerous before, when you were just able to kill with a mere thought. Whoever has control over you now will be able to create more mana, gain even more terrible power. Even if you don't try to conquer this world, it will destroy itself fighting over you." She tried to push herself up, driven by the force of her convictions and the need to convince Vayne to die.

"So you did leave that recipe for us deliberately." Roxis stepped between her and Vayne, glaring.

"I had hoped his other element would be harmless," and I would be able to kill him. "Or it might have destabilized him, the way losing his pactmate might have."

In other words, his desire to experiment, the way he'd let Vayne try it on without warning him, could have killed him. Oh, Pamela had known that it could have an effect as well, but that was Pamela, who, having died, didn't view death as something worth crying about.

Pamela was Pamela, but he was no better than those ancient alchemists.

"I won't apologize, I can't apologize." The fanatic glow in her eyes, that he'd seen in many a person who had found a justification for destroying something they hated. Who insisted they were righteous. "You have to die, Vayne. I can't stop, for the sake of this world."

Without looking back at Vayne Roxis put his hand on her shoulder, to steady her and draw her close behind him. Where it was safe. Where she would be safe.

Vayne he'd hated, and even though he'd come to understand that Vayne wasn't really like that he was too set in his ways. Perhaps it was just that she looked so different now, he could treat her as a different person, the gentle one she actually was. "Be quiet."

Because, frankly, he had also had enough. "If it weren't for you no one, not even Vayne, would ever have known he possessed this power." Well, Roxis liked to think he would have figured it out eventually, but that wasn't the point. "The person who endangered this school was you. The person who will be responsible if anything happens is you. Vayne had never hurt anyone…"

"But that's not true."

"You be quiet too. You can't expect me to believe you were responsible for Theofratus' death."

"But I killed him."

"You didn't want to. You were incapable of wanting to. So, who was it that wanted Theofratus dead?"

It took Vayne awhile to admit that, "…He did."

"He could have killed himself with or without you. He should have shown some decency and done so. You always take everything upon yourself, try to say you're responsible for the world's problems as though you were capable of solving every little thing. Mana or not, you are not God. Your arrogant, self-flagellating nonsense is extremely irritating, and I've had enough."

Now, where was he? "You failed to make Theofratus see that life was worth living, and frankly if I had to put up with years of you I would probably make use of poison myself. Vayne wants to blame himself because that implies he had the power to refuse, and he wishes he could have. You blame him because you don't actually want to fix anything, you just want to escape responsibility. You saw Vayne bring Sulpher and myself back to life and don't want to use that power, so clearly you don't want to bring Theofratus back. So you know that he wanted this, and that he isn't worth the effort. So stop lying to everyone.

"As for dangerous, what mana isn't dangerous? The Mana of Fire could burn the world, the Mana of Water could flood it. They are forces of nature, and nature is red in tooth and claw. So if you're going to kill dangerous mana, why haven't you started with your own? But we all know that it's just Vayne you want to kill, you don't care about human lives or you wouldn't have risked the destruction of this school. You said yourself that destroying a mana could cause widespread devastation. Are you jealous that Theofratus spent time on him instead of with you? Or did you just want to force him to kill you the way he did? Joining the man who rejected you in death?"

He stepped forward, keeping his hand on Vayne's shoulder but drawing his deck and shuffling it through the air with the other. "Did you do all this just because you wanted to die? Because if that's the reason you killed Vayne's cat, nearly caused a riot, made a young child cry, and, most importantly, killed me, then I am very willing to correct the mistake we made in letting you live. Just say the word." Bitch.

"Mr. Rosenkrantz! Although the previous occasion was self defense, students may not draw weapons on teachers." If anyone gets to slap her though a wall, it will be me. Rank hath its privileges.

"Of course, Madame," Roxis murmured, putting them away. She sniffed but didn't otherwise object to Flay's nickname for her.

"Miss Aurelius. Do you think you could create something that would get rid of that thing?"

She blinked, partly at being referred to by her not-father's name. "I think so?"

"Good. All of you, continue to work on removing that barrier. Miss Isolde and I will review Theofratus' notes to see if we can discover anything useful." We had better. Or else.

Using 'Miss' instead of 'Ms.' was a subtle barb, a reminder of Isolde's obsession and how it had not been returned. No, she had definitely never been married.

"Erm, Ernentr-" They hadn't noticed the president come in. And they barely noticed him ducking back out the door, with the speed at which he did so. He knew not to go near her without pastries when she got like that. "Someone's taken over the cafeteria."

"Well?" Do I have to do everything around here? Why do we keep a combat instructor around for?

"She looks rather like the young lady with you?"

There was another Vayne. Female as well, and identical except for being a bit older and wearing a school uniform instead of the quaint dress Vayne had transformed into. They found her sitting on a table with a huge bowl of various types of ice cream and sorbet resting on her crossed legs, surrounded by cats.

Roxis tried not to feel betrayed by the presence of the one he'd fed. Cats were cats, and there were all sorts of treats laid out on the floor.

"Oh, hi." She waved, extracting a kitten from her long black hair.

"You're… what are you doing here?"

Waving, probably at the thing surrounding them, she told Vayne that, "I was waiting for you in there as you wished, but then this happened, and I missed Sulpher and wished for some sorbet. You know, this stuff's good. Aren't we fortunate Sulpher wished we had taste buds?"

"You chased everyone out of the cafeteria and created so many kittens because of that?" Vayne seemed sort of disappointed in… herself?

"Well… We never had impulses before. They're actually kind of hard to control. And I'm the one whose job it is to understand our power and nature as mana, so don't worry, I'll be doing lots of research into temptation. Being an alchemist was our first wish for yourself, and we need to be able to understand what drives people to wish in order to do a good job. For the first time, we are able to experience selfishness and what drives people to disregard the wishes of others."

"And your conclusion?" Roxis wasn't sure he wanted to know.

He didn't. "It's a lot of fun!"

"I know!" When had Pamela gotten here? "We're going to be such good friends! Regular Vayne's such a party pooper, he never wanted to do anything fun."

"I've making a list of the most popular wishes. I think we need to experience all of them in order to truly understand human desire. Flay, do you still want to take over the world? I can't tell anymore." She waved the spoon (it was practically a ladle) at him.

Roxis hung his head. "I'm sorry," Vayne said, looking pitiful and meaning it.

"We may only be six, but you should look older than that when we take this form again, otherwise it'll be forever until you're old enough for numbers one and two. But since you're physically a little girl now, will you see what's so great about ponies?"

-

Yep, I love my utter crack.

I was trying to figure out what Vayne would turn into, and someone noted that wishes were similar to prayers. Prayers imply the divine, and the main divine power is creation. Vayne, being a created mana, already had a link to creation, and there was already a Mana of Creation, especially creation of mana, in the Atelier series. So she was the obvious choice.

Lilith & her design are, of course, stolen from Atelier Iris 2. She's in the intro, the cute little black-haired girl with purple eyes. Well, that's her chibi form, anyway. Speaking of which, yes, there was a war over Lilith in AT2's backstory. So Roxis may be being too optimistic. Luckily, lack of impulse control seems to also mean lack of attention span in Lilith-mode Vain's case. Less experience with being human. So she could possibly be distracted from doing anything dangerous with cookies. Or Lolcats.

Oh no, now I've got a Flay muse saying the reason he got a job at the school in 2 is because he slept with the Madame. He would also have said that she was his Mistress of Evil, but she interrupted and was all, what did you say? Flay went n_n and apparently finds women chasing him trying to kill him really, really hot.

Anna muse just heard that, and now he's got two of them out for his blood, and is all, score!

Flay just has way too much fun for it to be legal, doesn't he?

Numbers one and two are true love and sex, not necessarily in that order. Feel free to imagine what you want. I haven't written any actual Roxis/Vayne yet, have I? And all the implications in this are het. I suppose that's because of the crack OT6 I have for this fandom. The workshop is love~

This also ties into my ongoing observations/theorizing on gender.

Having a brain 'disorder' that flat-out refuses to register a lot of societal conditioning, I say X when I mean X, and then find out later that in our society, people don't say X unless they mean Y.

While Vayne's just trying to help (X), his actions are those that would normally mean he's trying to show how much better he is than Roxis by being, well, better than him (Y). Roxis may know by the end of his character quests that Y isn't true, but Vayne's still acting like it is true. So it's a major conflict of signals.

However, with Vayne in the little girl category, Roxis gets to be the big strong one, the chivalric good person and Vayne wanting to help becomes adorable instead of infuriating.