THE STRANGENESS OF THE MUNDANE.

Sunday evening, command room.

"Where and when did you acquire those...Revival Beads, Yuki?"

After Junpei and I had recovered from the effects of the horrifying concoction that Yukari and Fuka had made for us (medicine is so convenient when you need it to be), Mitsuru dragged me to the command room to interrogate me on the origins of the Revival Beads. Ikutsuki and Akihiko were in the same room, interrogating me on the matter of the Beads alongside Mitsuru.

All the while, Junpei and Yukari were busy helping Fuka get settled into her new room. So, none of them could help me. It was all up to my wits.

Question was, were my wits up to the task?

"...I..."

My mind was a complex maze at the moment.

Alright, Yuki. You can do it. ...Come on. Think. You've lied before. You've pulled it off before. You can do it. I know you can. Do it. Do it. Do it!

"I-"

"Take note, Yuki," Mitsuru interrupted me, "that I am fully aware when someone is lying to me. I've been trained to take note of people's expressions and verbal tics whenever they make use of subterfuge. That is what comes with the privilege of being the heiress of a company as massive as the Kirijo Group."

...Well, that'd just screwed me over. Something in her eyes told me she wasn't bluffing.

Besides, that kind of skill was expected for someone who was going to end up negotiating business deals with other companies in the future.

But what should I tell them? That I'd enter a blue room stuck in a realm between dream and reality? That I'd meet up with a hunchbacked old man and a grey-haired woman who could fuse my Personas together and would regularly give me stuff when the situation would call for it?

Sure, they'd believe me then.

"If I told you the truth," I began, "I doubt you'd believe me. For one thing, it makes no sense and may only pile on more nonsense into what is an already out-of-control situation."

"Sorry for saying this, but spare us the 'you wouldn't believe me anyway' excuse," Akihiko said. "Do you think, with everything we've been through, there's honestly something that we think isn't possible? If anything, we might be the only ones who'd believe you."

...He had a point. Not a very good point, but a point nonetheless.

"What if I told you that someone gave the Beads to me?" I asked him.

"Do we know this person?" Mitsuru asked.

"No," I said. "No, you don't. He only speaks to me. He only ever speaks to people like me."

"What do you mean, 'people like you?'"

"People who can control multiple Personas," I said. "He calls them 'Wild Cards.'"

"Interesting," Ikutsuki said. "What is this person's name?"

"...Akira." Most believable choice-

"You're lying." Dammit, Mitsuru. "What is his real name?"

"...Igor."

Everyone gave me looks of outright disbelief.

"His name is Igor. He lives in my mind, in an elevator with this young woman named Elizabeth, and together they allow me to fuse my Personas together and they give me items to help me on my 'journey' or whatever they call it-"

Ikutsuki laughed like a wild hyena on steroids.

...Yeah, should have seen that coming.

"Mr. Chairman!" Mitsuru exclaimed.

"I-I'm sorry...I'm so sorry...mmph..."

Akihiko just looked dumbfounded, although I don't know if it was because of Ikutsuki's sudden burst of laughter, or my blatant not-lie.

"I told you that it was unbelievable," I said over Ikutsuki's continuing chuckles.

"Yuki, I told you to tell me-"

Ikutsuki let out another "hyenic (that should be a word)" laugh. No – actually, it was more of a manic laugh than anything.

"Mr. Chairman, this is a time to be professional!"

"Ahahahah...haha...now...now, Mitsuru...," Ikutsuki was trying to catch his breath. "I...I think we should believe him..."

"...Excuse me?"

"Huh?"

"What?"

As you can tell, Akihiko, Mitsuru, and I were pretty much questioning Ikutsuki's sanity at this point.

"I-I mean...," he breathed in deeply, "hear me out..."

This was unsettling. Just how backwards was this guy's mental state if he believed that story?

Was he joking? Was he just joking?

I don't think so, considering he didn't have some horrible pun to back it up.

"Now...now...," Ikutsuki cleared his throat. "Think... Ask yourself this...would anyone in their right mind make that up? Would anyone be so desperate as to make such an explanation up out of thin air? Ask yourselves that, Mitsuru, Akihiko."

My senpai just gave Ikutsuki a blank stare. I'm sure they were wondering if he'd smoked something the night before.

"Besides," the bespectacled insane man continued. "If he's desperate enough to make such a ridiculous lie...then he must have a very good reason to keep it a secret from us, doesn't he?"

...Everyone gave me ominous looks.

I gave everyone a look of my own.

This was so weird. Did Ikutsuki just justify the weirdness of my answer with a relatively reasonable and understandable conclusion to it all? That either I was telling the truth or I was deliberately keeping it a secret from them for a very good reason?

Either he was mentally ill or just really, really open-minded.

*SMASH!*

What!?

"Thou hast established a new bond..."

Come on! I didn't even like the guy! What the hell was up with these Social Links...?

"Thou must take heed of the danger of the bond thou hast forged..."

Huh?

"...for, from this moment onward, thou shalt be cursed with the darkness of the Jester Arcana..."

...I needed to talk to Igor about this.

Mitsuru sighed. "What do you make of this, Akihiko...?"

"I...don't know," Akihiko said, filled with wonder and bewilderment at the ridiculousness of it all.

Ikutsuki smiled, the glint in his glasses giving him a bit of a sinister aura.

Mitsuru and Akihiko had both seen the truth in his words. I was sure of it.

But I was also sure that they were too dumbfounded to go on.

I'd be, too, in their situation.

"Now, it's getting late," Ikutsuki said. "You all have school tomorrow. I suggest you all tuck in for the night."

"Mr. Chairman, we can't just-!"

"Now now, Mitsuru, you have your grades to think of," he said. "I don't think it would be healthy for you to keep on debating at this time. You can do so another time."

"But Mr. Chairman-"

"No buts."

"But-!"

"Off you go."

There was something off with this guy.


"Who is it?" Fuka asked in response to the knocks on her door.

"It's Makoto," I told her.

"Yuki-kun?" Fuka opened the door, smiling a bit once she saw me, "What are you doing here?"

"I just wanted to make sure Yukari and Junpei did a good job with helping you settle in," I told her. "Sorry I couldn't help sooner. Our senpai and the chairman had some business with me."

"Oh, it's alright," she said. "I understand."

I smiled in wonder at all the boxes in her room. "Do you need help unpacking?"

"Oh no," she replied, "I'll do it myself. I told Yukari-chan and Junpei the same thing. I don't want you all to trouble yourselves."

"It's no trouble, I can assure you that," I told her. "We're all willing to help you. Especially because of what you did for us last night."

"It really was nothing much..."

She was still rather shy about the entire thing.

"Yamagishi, it wasn't nothing. You did something good. Something amazing."

"...Actually, Yuki-kun, I was scared the whole time...I...," she bit her lip, "I really don't think I did that much. In fact, I was amazed at you the whole time."

"Me?"

"Yes!" she exclaimed. "You fought those Shadows so bravely and you just kept on fighting, even with all the odds stacked against you...you even scared me a bit..."

"...I'm sorry for scaring you," I said. "But you shouldn't praise me. I wasn't really myself at the time."

"What do you mean?"

"Never mind," I told her. "It's nothing important."

"Oh...alright then," she replied. "A-anyway, Kirijo-senpai told me that in the case you'd want to go to Tartarus, you can just ask me and we'll be off."

"Really?"

"Yes," she replied. "I'm ready when you are."

"...You seem eager to go back into that place," I noted.

"I do...? Well...it is my duty as a member of S.E.E.S., after all," she said, attempting to sound proud of herself. "I'll do my best to help you and the group during battles."

I chuckled.

"Wh-what is it?" she tilted her head, curious.

"I just remembered...after Yukari and Junpei's first time in Tartarus, it took them a while before they came around and decided to fight again, and even then I had to bargain with them."

"You bargained with them to fight the Shadows?"

"Yes. Can't say I blame them for how they were acting, though."

"I wouldn't blame them," she smiled. "When would you like to go back to Tartarus, though?"

"Well...obviously, tonight wouldn't be any good. We do need rest from last night, after all. What about Tuesday?"

"Tuesday?"

"Yes. I think by then, we'd have already fully recovered. It seems to be our best bet."

"Alright, then. Tuesday it is. I wish you and the team good luck, and I promise to help you to the best of my abilities."

"I know you will," I chuckled. "You told me you'd help us several times now."


After the school day had ended, I marched on to Paulownia, heading straight for the Room.

The fight with the Emperor and Empress, along with Hamuko's intervention, was more than enough to get my head on straight and off off-kilter.

I had to plan ahead. Bigger and deadlier Shadows were going to storm Iwatodai again in a few weeks, according to the lunar cycles. I needed to get more strength by then. I needed more power. And I couldn't wait for my Social Links to give me strength, either. I needed a faster solution.

I decided to have a word with Igor about all this, but after I casually strolled into the Velvet Room, my Personas – almost routinely – tried to get in my way.

"Hello, Master."

"Apsaras," I said, "you can talk now?"

"Well, after you'd advanced your Priestess Social Link, I was given the ability of speech. So far, I like it."

"That's good," I said as I tried sauntering over to my seat, prepared to have a talk with Igor. "I hope I'll be able to speak to you later, though. I need to have a word with Igor right now."

"Okay, but I think you should say hi to Angel first,"Apsaras told me. "She can speak now, too."

"She can?"

"Yes, Master,"Angel said, floating behind me with an elegant, royal air about her. "I've been able to speak for quite a while now, but I haven't had the time to speak with you yet."

Oh right. I'd managed to have a lengthy chat with Chihiro about manga. She'd recommended to me an apparently good shojo manga called Boku wa Minato. I'd yet to buy it...

Wait. Focus.

"Sorry Angel, but I got to have a talk with Igor. I'll be happy to talk to you after, though."

"Very well."

Remember why you were here, Yuki. Remember your mission. Remember why-

"Master!" It was Pixie this time. "I am so sorry for not being there to heal you that night! I-I don't know what came over me, I..."

"It's alright, Pixie." I told her. "It's completely fine. You're forgiven."

"R-really? Thank you so much!"She then pecked me on the cheek with very small lips, lips so small I could barely even feel her kiss. "I promise I'll do a better job of healing you next time!"

"I'm sure you will," I said. "Now-"

"Hiya, Master!"

"Hiya, Master!"

The Jack Brothers. Of course the Jack Brothers.

"You kicked that Shadow's ass! Way to go, hee-ho!" Pyro cheered, shaking and rattling in excitement. "You're more of a monster than I thought!"

"Yeah!" Frost interjected.Remember when you got blown up and then you got better, then you freaking punched that Empress in the gut and blew her up?! That was awesome! Ya gotta do that more often, hee-ho!"

Honestly, these two were like children. Which was good. I had a soft spot for kids.

"Calm down," I chuckled. "I've to talk with Igor right now, sorry."

"Aww, come on, Master!"

"Don't be such a workaholic! Spare some time for us, would ya?"

"Sorry, but not right now."

"Pipe down, you two!"Forneus roared. "The Master is trying to have a conversation! Do not hinder him from his duty as an agent of Philemon."

Again with that name. Was Igor Philemon? Was that his real name?

"Master," Orpheus said as he floated over to me, "Igor's waiting."

"Thank you."

"The pleasure is all mine."

"Greetings, Master Yuki," Igor chuckled after having bore witness to my interactions with my Personas, "what brings you here?"

"I...I need your help with something."

"Oh? And what that might be?"

"...I...need to establish a firmer connection with my Personas. I can't afford to wait for my Social Links to give me that sort of connection." I said. "I...have a plan that could work in regards to it, but...I need your advice concerning it."

"Tell me of this plan," Igor said.

"...Could you...I can't believe I'm saying this...could you directly implant my Personas into my psyche?"

"...Excuse me?"

All my Personas were looking at me as if I'd gone mad. They said nothing. Their dropped, hanging jaws did all the talking for them.

"Look, let me explain," I said. "I don't quite know how to properly say this, but...okay, Igor, you once told me that I have an imperfect connection with my Personas, as opposed to normal Persona-users. Normal ones have a more natural connection with their Personas. They can talk to them directly, converse with them, etc. But I can't. Not in the real world, anyway."

Igor clasped his hands. "Continue," he said.

I did so. "The thing is...I'll need to be able to talk with them in the real world, especially since the Shadows are just going to get stronger and stronger. I have a time limit to work with now. Stronger Shadows are going to keep on coming and if I continue doing what I've been doing, mainly just advancing Social Link after Social Link, I'll probably end up behind in terms of progress. I need to be able to converse with my Personas during combat to help come up with more strategies and more tactics, so I can use their skills to my advantage."

"And so, you want me to implant them into your psyche directly, even though your bonds with both your Social Links and your Personas haven't fully developed yet."

"...Is that dangerous?" Of course it was, you idiot. Why else wouldn't he have done it sooner?

"Half dangerous," was Igor's simple reply. "In regards to the positive outcomes of this...yes, you will be able to directly speak to your Personas and they will be able to aid you in the real world, especially during conflicts with the Shadows."

Yes.

"But there are many dangers to this as well," he continued. "Recall how, when your Personas had been stricken down in battle, you'd felt the exact same pain they had felt."

"...What about that?"

"Now, if I complete your request, you will not simply be limited to just feeling their pain," Igor said, with a warning tone of voice. "The wounds your Personas will receive in battle, you shall receive as well; in correspondence to the wounds of your Personas, your body will receive physical wounds. Actual, tangible wounds. You will bleed. You will feel your flesh rip apart. In short, your body will be permanently linked to your Personas along with your psyche."

"...Why?"

"Your bonds with your Personas, while not fully developed as of yet, are strong enough for you to at least feel their pain when they receive injury. However, if I were to implant them directly into your psyche without them having fully developed their respective bonds with you yet, I would have to link them to your physical form as well to grant them the strength needed to cooperate with you as per your conditions. Can't you imagine the risk?"

...Ugh.

"Alright," I said. "Don't do it. I can't afford that. It's far too much of a gamble."

"How wise of you, Master," Igor said. "Do you have another request?"

"No, but I have a question...I established the Jester Social Link last night," I told him. "What does that mean? The Jester is the reversed version of the Fool. So...what does that say about Ikutsuki?"

"...Do not advance that Link," Igor said. "A Link with a reversed Arcana will bring you nothing good, I assure you. Do not advance the Jester Link, and do not trust the person who holds said Arcana. I implore you."

"...Alright."

I'd always known there was something up about Ikutsuki...

"It's good that you heed my advice. Now then, do you have any more questions?"

"...How about a new Persona?"

"Splendid."


A ferocious lion appeared before me, not unlike the one that I'd encountered in Tartarus (and destroyed without any sort of problem whatsoever). However, it was different in that, as opposed to dragging a massive ball-and-chain around, it had the shaggy, frazzled head of a goat sprouting out from its back, with a green-scaled serpent for a tail.

"From this day forth, I shall be you, and you shall be me,"the beast growled, bowing down to me like a pet to its master. "From the sea of your soul, I join the hunt; I am Chimera, Animal Offspring of Horrors."

How fitting. In a good way, that is.

"Alright," I began. "Forneus, Orpheus, come out-"

"Wait!" Elizabeth suddenly exclaimed, interrupting me. "Pardon me for asking...but I have a request for you, Master Yuki."

"Another one?" I asked, genuinely curious. I saw Igor facepalm as Elizabeth drew closer to me.

"It's just...," she held her hands behind her back and swayed childishly from side to side, as if trying to figure out exactly what to say, "I've been interested in seeing more of the wonders of your world. If I could be so bold...I would like you to take me there again."

Oh. "I can do that. Where would you like to go?"

Elizabeth's face immediately brightened up at the sound of my approval.

"How about...the place you call 'Iwatodai Station?'"

"Sure. When would you like me to take you?"

"...As soon as possible. Perhaps..."

"Perhaps tomorrow?"

"T-tomorrow?"

"Yes. Tomorrow, Tuesday."

"A-are you certain I'm not taking up your time in doing so?"

"Oh, it's no rush," I assured her. "It'll be fine. I don't have that tight a schedule."

"...Thank you." She smiled the most adorable smile. Even more adorable than Fuka's blush.

Now then. "Forneus, Orpheus, come out of the Compendium."


One hour later.

"Oh, hey!" Yukari greeted as I entered the dorm.

"Good to see you," I said. "Where is everyone?"

"Junpei went out to the station, Fuka decided to study, and the senpai had to stay behind at school. They've got work to do, apparently."

"Not surprising," I said. "It is their final year in Gekkoukan, after all."

"That's true," she chuckled. "Anyway, I thought you had Kendo today."

"…Oh yeah. I forgot," I admitted. "Damn, Kazushi and Yuko are gonna chew me out for this…"

"Oh, it's alright," Yukari assured me. "People tend to skip clubs now and then. Besides, you can just tell them you were busy."

"Well, yeah, but I don't feel good about it," I said. "It'd give Kazushi another excuse to keep on training."

"What do you mean? You don't want him to keep on training?"

"No. It's not that. His leg is injured and he, for some insane reason, wants to keep on training in spite of it. I told him to take a breather, but he refused to listen."

"Did you tell Yuko about it?"

"…Oh yeah." Damn, I am such an idiot. "No, I didn't."

"Well then, I think you should," she said. "It would do the both of them good."

"Both of them?"

"You know she has a crush on Kazushi, right?"

"...She does?" I'd honestly forgotten.

I should speak to Yuko again…, I noted. Wait…that reminds me, I haven't spoken to either Satoshi or Tomoya in a while now. Nor have I spoken to Hidetoshi, or Kenji, or… Just how many Social Links have I established already, again? I'll need to keep track of them.

"I'll get right on telling Yuko about it tomorrow," I told Yukari as I climbed the stairs to my room.

"H-hold on," Yukari ordered, stopping me in my tracks, "where are you going?"

"…Back to my room?" I replied timidly.

"U-um…could you stay here for a little bit longer?" she asked me. "I…have something to tell you."

"What is it?" I inquired, genuinely curious.

"…I'd like to apologize."

"Apologize? For what?"

"…I'd like to apologize for getting us into trouble back in the alley," she said, eyes downcast.

...Oh, man.

"I…I was being rash and reckless," she said. "I should have admitted I was wrong from the start…but I was just being stubborn. I was sick of not getting any answers…and I was sick of being afraid all the time."

"What do you mean by that?"

"…I remember how I'd always hold the team back during group expeditions because I would get knocked out or I'd be too afraid to summon Io…and I remember the attack on the dorm, how I could have just summoned her sooner, to stop that Shadow sooner…"

"Look, it's not wrong to be afraid," I said. "Like I told you back at the hospital, anyone would be afraid if put in your shoes at the time. If anything, you're braver than most people I've met."

"What…?"

"You've been fighting Shadows all this time. Any other person in your situation would have fallen under pressure by now. But despite your fears, you've kept on fighting. That's bravery in a nutshell."

"…But I…I still should have done a better job…and I shouldn't have been so stubborn that night in the alleyway," she told me. "You were right. If not for Shinjiro-senpai, we'd probably have been done in. So…I'm sorry for lashing out at you. I tried to make it up to you by helping Fuka cook the curry yesterday...but I guess it didn't help that much, did it?"

...That was curry?

"…I forgive you," I said. "But I'd like you to do me a favor."

"A favor?"

"Yes," I told her. "Don't beat yourself up over being afraid. No one would blame you for being afraid, and you shouldn't blame yourself. You've done more than enough already, and you've proven yourself to be a much more capable person than how you make yourself out to be."

"But I-"

"And don't think for a second that you're acting like dead weight," I cut back. "Because you're not. If anything, you're one of the most important members of the team. We need you. You're pretty much the best healer out of all of us here. That, and you're quite the archer, if I do say so myself."

She was…stunned, to say the least, at how much I had to say.

"…I…I…thank you," she said, looking at her feet nervously. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," I told her. "Anytime you need me, I'll be there for you."

She smiled, facing me again. "I'll be holding you to that."

"I know you will."

"…When are we going back to Tartarus?" she asked me. "I want to do my best against the Shadows…we've another full moon in a few weeks, after all. I'm not going to let my fear stop me anymore."

"I was planning to have it tomorrow," I said. "Sorry for not telling you sooner."

"It's alright. I'll be waiting," she smiled.

I smiled back, heading back up to my room.


Tuesday, the next day.

"Makoto!" I turned my head to find Junpei walking towards me, Yukari in tow. "What's going on? You looking for something?"

"Someone. I'm looking for Yamagishi," I told him. "Have you seen her?"

"She left earlier," Yukari said. "She told me she had to go to Tatsumi Memorial."

"Why'd she have to go there?" I asked.

"She said she wanted to check on Moriyama."

Huh. Logical.

"She said she'd meet us back at the dorm," Junpei said. "Why do you need her anyway?"

"I'm planning to have us go back to Tartarus tonight," I said, "and I was wondering if she was ready for tonight."

"And you didn't tell me about this because...?"

"...Sorry," I said. "I forgot."

"It's alright. Still though, why'd you pick Tuesday for the day we'd get back to Tartarus?"

"It seemed to be our best bet. I wanted to get us back in the game as soon as possible, and today seemed to be the-"


Oh. "I can do that. Where would you like to go?"

Elizabeth's face immediately brightened up at the sound of my approval.

"How about...the place you call 'Iwatodai Station?'"

"Sure. When would you like me to take you?"

"...As soon as possible. Perhaps..."

"Perhaps tomorrow?"

"T-tomorrow?"

"Yes. Tomorrow, Tuesday."

"A-are you certain I'm not taking up your time in doing so?"

"Oh, it's no rush," I assured her. "It'll be fine. I don't have that tight a schedule."


...Oh, crap. "I-I just remembered something! I have to go!"

"Wha-? Makoto, what-?"

"Sorry!" I took off, heading straight for Paulownia. "I'll meet you guys back at the dorm! I've got something to do!"

"Makoto!"

"Sorry! I promise I'll be back by seven or so!"

Thirty minutes later, after Elizabeth and I had gotten out of the mall, we headed off for what she'd requested of me.

Thankfully, the station was still open, so Elizabeth and I were able to have our date (if you could call it that). However, as I treaded down a staircase which was right next to the escalators, the bellhop had escaped my sight.

Where was she?

"Master Yuki, please wait for me!"

She was going down the 'up' escalator. Or at least trying to.

After she'd made a few failed attempts at charging down the escalator like a raved psychopath out for blood- like a child trying to get a balloon, she made a face which basically said "Screw this," and leapt off it, gracefully landing on her heeled boots and flitting her hair once she was done, as if it was an easy task for her.

I just looked around and hoped that there weren't any stupid kids trying to do the same thing.

"Flowing stairs that must be mastered by those who would try to pass...so this is an 'escalator,'" Elizabeth mused, staring at the mechanical moving staircase with much naivete and curiosity. "It looks simple, but one false step...and challengers will be mired in an exhausting ordeal. Unless they decide to jump off, at least."

"Actually, this kind of escalator was made for people to go up. There's another one over there," I pointed to the one on the opposite end, "that allows you to go down-"

"W-what's this!?" Elizabeth exclaimed, interrupting me. "Please watch your step, there's a pitfall just ahead!"

"...A pitfall?"

And Elizabeth, grabbing me by the arm, charged straight for...a manhole.

"Here it is, in the center of this fenced-off area," she said. True to her words, there was a giant hole in the ground. It wasn't really a danger though, since there were caution fences surrounding the thing. "These barriers are marked in eye-catching signs which state in bold print, 'do not enter!' Humans frequently crave that which is forbidden to them...do they not? This is a crafty snare, one which goes against the common notion that pitfalls should be hidden..."

"Elizabeth, it's called a-"

"A stairway that tests one's wits and a pitfall that tests one's inner strength..." Elizabeth continued to fawn over the mundane things surrounding her. "Human authorities have a great deal to contend with in their quest to defend the town's law and order. I'm very moved by their plight."

"...Yeah. That's...that's good...," I had no idea how to deal with this woman.

But she is cute, I admitted.

"Let us continue forth, our thoughts dedicated to the unsung heroes who love this town so very much...," Elizabeth smiled, walking along her merry way.

"Alright then," I said, following her. "Where would you like to go next?"

"Well, I would - wait...," She sniffed the air for a few seconds, bedazzled by what had caught her nostrils. "This...this fragrant aroma...it can't be!"

Aaand she immediately went running.

"Elizabeth, wait!"

For someone in knee-high boots/heels, she was actually pretty fast.

Eventually, I caught up with her at a takoyaki stand.

The owner of the stand, while caught off guard by the sudden appearance of a silver-haired, yellow-eyed bellhop/elevator attendant, seemed pretty eager to treat a new customer.

"Whoa, you can figure out our secret ingredient just by its smell?" the owner wondered, amazed. "I guess you don't wear those funky clothes for nothing, lady."

"Secret ingredient?" I questioned, raising an eyebrow. "What's so secretive about takoyaki?"

"Well...think of it this way," the owner began, "it's not like there's a law against takoyaki shops cooking stuff besides octopus."

...Okay, well, that was kind of intriguing. And kind of foreboding.

But Elizabeth seemed to be having fun. She was bewitched by all the dishes displayed, all the options available to her, and all the delightful scents and aromas.

"Wanna buy one?" I asked her.

"You are willing to purchase one of these fine dishes for me?" She had one of the biggest smiles I'd ever seen.

"I think I can get a few," I chuckled, amused at how glad she was.

"Trust me lady, it'll make you smile so wide your cheeks will fall off!"

The owner's words were what really got Elizabeth hyped for some takoyaki.

"Cuisine so luscious that one's cheeks fall off...!" Her cuteness level reached beyond a thousand. On a scale of one to one hundred. "Such a result would definitely cause havoc in reality, but I would definitely like to experience this!"

"Alright then," I began reaching for my wallet, "two tako-"

"That won't be necessary, Master," Elizabeth interrupted me. "I'm sorry for not telling you this earlier, but...I've brought my own wallet."

Oh no.

She brought out that blue bulging purse that she had with her back when I'd taken her to Paulownia.

And it looked thicker than how it had been last time.

"Please don't tell me you're buying that many..."

"I've never actually seen a person who has actually lost his or her cheeks," she reasoned. "This must mean that the ordinary citizen cannot easily buy these cheek-dropping meals."

"One package costs only 400 yen," I bluntly told her.

"...Oh. Really?" She darted her eyes over to the price listings. Then back at the owner. "W-well then...two packages, please."

This development was hilarious in so many ways.

Thirty minutes later, Elizabeth was still in wonder over the takoyaki, even as she continued eating it.

"This distinct texture...the firm, chewy outer skin...there's no doubt about it."

"Hm...?"

"I'm surprised to come across this used as an ingredient in food..."

"Are your cheeks okay?" I asked her.

"They seem to still be in place," she replied. "And in any event, there are many other delicacies where I feel I must try. I must take care not to lose my cheeks before sampling each and every one of these meals."

"You do that."

"There appear to be several dining establishments around...I wish to try them all." Elizabeth smiled at me. "Unless you have something to do, that is..."

"I think I've still got some time," I assured her. "We'll go when we're finished with our takoyaki packages."

"I'll be waiting eagerly for you, then."

It was at that moment I noticed that Elizabeth had already finished her meal...and I wasn't even halfway through.

...I'm a slow eater, I know.

I'd better pick up the pace, I reminded myself.. I've got to be back at the dorm by sunset. It's 5:00 PM. I think. I hope so. I've got another two hours. Hopefully, I'll be able to treat her to all these places in that short amount of time.


Thirty minutes later, we were at Wild-Duck Burger.

I'd never known a woman could eat so much and yet stay so...for lack of a better word, slim.

Yet there I was, simply sitting at the counter of a fast food restaurant as my compatriot from an elevator that existed inside my mind ate burger after burger after burger.

But I wasn't alone in my amazement over how much food Elizabeth could shove into her gullet. The lady at the counter chuckled at the bellhop's antics as well.

She had silver hair, much like Elizabeth's, but with a duller tone. She even had silver eyes to back up her appearance.

"Your girlfriend seems to be having fun," the counter girl chuckled.

"She's not my girlfriend," I said.

"Then why'd she come here with you?" she asked. "And why is she wearing...whatever she's wearing?"

"She wanted to hang out," I replied. "And that outfit she has on is just how she operates."

"Strange girl."

"You don't know the half of it."

"I guess I don't. By the way, would you like to order anything?"

"No, I'm fine," I replied. "But I doubt it would make a difference with all the burgers she's buying."

"True," she said. "Then again, all Persona-users are pretty big eaters..."

...Huh?

"Didn't you know?" she asked. "I thought you would have known about this stuff to begin with."

"Wh-what are you talking about?"

"Don't play dumb," she said. "You know what I'm talking about."

What in the-!?

"...How...? How do you even know about-?"

"As for me, I'm not a Persona-user...well, technically I am, and so were my parents, kind of."

"...Who are you?"

"My name is Yuka Narukami," she said. "And you're a Persona-user too, aren't you?"

...Wait, how did she know that? "How do you know that?"

"I've been so exposed to them that I can pretty much tell the difference between a normal guy and a user."

"How does that...even...?"

I needed to talk to Igor about this. I was sure he knew a thing or two about this.

"So...anyway, do you know about that big tower thing that comes out every midnight, or about how everything turns green and bloody at midnight as well?"

Of course she knew about Tartarus and the Dark Hour. "Well..."

"You know about it. I'm sure you do."

"Yes," I spat. "I know about it. And I suppose you know about the Shadows, too."

"I know about the Shadows, too. Never really tangled with them, though," she admitted. "Seemed like too much of a hassle."

Hmph. "Why are you telling me all this, though?" I asked her. "How do you benefit from it?"

"...Well, I've never had many friends around this place. And I thought it would be a good start, getting a Persona-user, a Wild one, at that, as my first friend in this place."

This woman was so weird.

"In case you wanna chat again about this kind of stuff, I'll be here. If you want, you can bring more of your friends here along with, like that girl over there."

"Okay, what's your deal?" I got up from my seat, staring her down with the sternest stare I could muster. "You say you're a Persona-user, but most of the ones I know can't even sense other people's Personas. They judge it from information and analysis they gather from a person with the potential to do so. Just who are you?"

"Like I said: my name is Yuka Narukami. What I didn't say, though, is that I'm a Compendium user."

"...A...what?"

"Well-"

"Narukami! We need your help over here!" a voice cried out from behind Yuka.

"Coming!" She turned to me. "Sorry, but I'm going to have to cut this short. I've got lots of work tonight. My shift ends at seven! We'll continue our talk then!"

"W-wait a minute...!"

"Laters!"

"Hey! Get back here-!"

*SMASH!*

AGH!

"Thou hast established a new bond...
Thou shalt be blessed when thou chooseth to imbue thyself with the Angel Arcana..."

Another Link from someone I didn't even like? Another one!?


MAKOTO YUKI'S PERSONAS:


Orpheus
ARCANA: Fool
SKILLS: Bash

Pyro Jack
ARCANA: Magus
SKILLS: Agi, Absorb Fire, Sukunda

Jack Frost
ARCANA: Magician
SKILLS: Bufu, Absorb Ice, Power Strike

Forneus
ARCANA: Emperor
SKILLS: Bufu, Bash, Tarukaja

Pixie
ARCANA: Lovers
SKILLS: Dia, Garu, Magaru

Chimera
ARCANA: Chariot
SKILLS:
Agi, Bash, Auto-Tarukaja

Angel
ARCANA: Justice
SKILLS: Hama, Patra, Sukukaja

Inugami
ARCANA: Hanged Man
SKILLS:
Zio, Poisma, Single Shot

Thanatos
ARCANA: Death
SKILLS: Mudoon, Mamudoon, Tempest Slash, Megido


MAKOTO YUKI'S SOCIAL LINKS:


Fool (S.E.E.S.)
RANK: 3/10

Jester (Shuji Ikutsuki)
RANK: 1/10

Magus (Junpei Iori)
RANK: 4/10

Magician (Kenji Tomochika)
RANK: 3/10

Priestess (Fuka Yamagishi)
RANK: 2/10

Emperor (Hidetoshi Odagiri)
RANK: 4/10

High Priest (Shinjiro Aragaki)
RANK: 2/10

Pope (Bunkichi Kitamura and Mitsuko Kitamura)
RANK: 1/10

Hierophant (Tomoya Kitamura)
RANK: 2/10

Lovers (Yukari Takeba)
RANK: 2/10

Chariot (Kazushi Miyamoto)
RANK: 4/10

Justice (Chihiro Fushimi)
RANK: 2/10

Strength (Yuko Nishiwaki)
RANK: 2/10

DEATH (Hamuko Yuki, Thanatos)
RANK: 2/10

Tower (Satoshi Himuro)
RANK: 2/10

Star (Akihiko Sanada)
RANK: 2/10

Angel (Yuka Narukami)
RANK: 1/10

WORLD (Elizabeth)
RANK: 2/10