Monstrous Compendium – Black Cat

Sachi let herself breathe again, and took another cautious glance around the edge of the woodland pond. Dragonflies, cicadas; a violet-spotted frog hopping off a Sawtoothed Lily pad into dark water. Otherwise their little swampy clearing was as quiet as the black-clad swordsman perched on a cypress branch somewhere over her head.

If he is a swordsman. Sachi frowned, and tried to shake away the thought. Kirito knew how to use a sword. And had, well enough to be one of the Black Cats’ main offensive fighters. That was what mattered, right? “Aren’t you bored? Everyone else was happy to head for town….” She tried not to worry about that. The guild needed some supplies – and this was a low-level encounter area. The two of them should be fine. Just fine.

“I don’t like towns much.”

Quiet words. A human a few feet away wouldn’t have heard them.

But I’m not human anymore.

She still didn’t know how to feel about that. It was… it was kind of nice to be pretty, even if it was so different. She loved soft fur. And all her senses were so rich. It was as if the world was jeweled in colors and scents, just for her. Best of all, healing spells had become so much easier to cast after the cougar youkai had adopted her. If she could heal the others, she didn’t have to make herself fight. She didn’t have to be so scared….

But a lot of players still jumped when they looked at her. Claws. Tawny furred ears, twitching at every sound. A tail almost as quick to twitch, though in town she kept it under her skirt. Other adoptees weren’t weird about it, but some of the human players… the way they looked at her was scary.

Kirito never looks like that.

But then, Kirito didn’t act like most people. Ever.

Sachi put the filled vial into her Inventory, and looked over the clump of irises again. Maybe one more vial. “Why don’t you like towns? Everybody does. They’re safe.”

“Check Argo’s Guide to the first level again.” Kirito shifted on his perch, a shadow in green needle shadows. “Some of the beta testers said there was an event in the first month of testing. <<The Harpies’ Midday Raid.>> For twenty-four hours, the City of Beginnings’ guards were missing. Higher-level encounters swarmed the city. A lot of players were overwhelmed and had to respawn.” His breath caught. “That’s what the guide says.”

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36 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium – Black Cat

  1. Double uh-oh. Oh please, let the killed players only be on standby, don’t you want all the people you can get you asshole dragon…

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    1. There’s all the people you can get. Then there’s all the people you can get that will be //useful//… And I’m guessing the dead players… Aren’t useful.

      Why hello there sinking feeling.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Beta. They weren’t perma killed. He has trauma because he experienced it himself, is uncomfortable trusting the guards, and thinks being around other players puts a target on his back.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Sachi wasn’t dead at four months in, when this story started. This might not be a flashback, and she might not end up dead. The cast listing on AO^3 includes Sachi, and I think the story might be moving past this game very soon.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I didn’t trust my memory enough, so I just checked the timeline on the wiki. He joins the black cats early April, and the deaths are in June. Which fits my vague recollections.

        This story started around February. Before the 25th level boss, which was a disaster in canon, and before Asuna joins the newly formed knights of blood.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Evil? Maybe. Fanfic writer who knows how to use cliffhangers to dangerous effectiveness?

        Yes.

        Also, see Murphy, tempting of, Schmuck Bait, and related TV Tropes.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. I think this is a time skip forward. I have a vague impression that meeting the black cats was a far bit after the earlier part of the story.

    Leaving the analysis aside:

    Hee. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Huh, maybe the Black Cats will live in this story as a cat people guild? Poor Kirito has enough trauma, let them all survive! Guess I’ll put it on my wishlist along with “Kibaou turned into a petrified statue and stuck in a museum”
    (I feel a “rabid were-something party member kills and/or eats everyone” coming on if this is pre-Stheno. I really want to be wrong)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Chapter one is fairly explicitly set in February 2025.

      “Four months ago,” Kirito began, “we were invited to a grand tournament. A place where we could… play… at being brave warriors and mages….”

      If following canon, the game started in November of 2024, four months is February 2025. Also, it happens prior to some events (25th and 26th boss fights), that happen in that month in canon. The first part of chapter two, given that they are speculating about what dangers may be posed in by the 25th boss, probably should be in that month also. Per canon, he doesn’t join the black cats until April of 2025.

      Boss Rumors Snippet
      “Somebody posted a screenshot of what they said was the dev team’s tease for the 25th floor boss fight. Darkfire – the caption looked like it was on some kind of player spell or effect a lot like what you had. Only bigger.” Dale rubbed the back of his neck above his armor. “I’m kind of hoping it was just a tease, and they went with some other boss. Lycans are bad enough. The last thing we need is a vampire.”

      This should be post Stheno, and he should be concealing his Warlock and Moonsword abilities. With Moonsword and Sachi’s healing, they may be prepared to handle other players who have contracted Lycanthropy. This probably isn’t the canon disaster. Warlock mobility might prevent some of the failure modes of the canon disaster.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. No, not a museum. Somewhere outside near a tavern, where any drunks that stumble out of the tavern looking for… relief… will have a new non-urinal target.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. >I think this is a time skip forward. I have a vague impression that meeting the black cats was a far bit after the earlier part of the story.>
    I agree with you there, bit of a scene and location jump. Also previous snippets had Ch1 or Ch2 in the title while this one specifically doesn’t……..

    Though fortunately in this version of SAO, Sachi’s got a better deal as the healer. She did not have the mentality needed for a front-line fighter.

    What I would really like to see is the youkai’s reasoning for adopting her. Because those bloodstones are considered rare and valuable with presumably real Youkai like Stheno logging into the game selecting the adoptee.

    This means that adoptions aren’t going to just be for simple reasons like ‘meh she’s cute’ or ‘why not?’. The factors that I can think of are innate magical talent (they want the cream of the crop) and/or mentality/personality (people who will be loyal to the clan etc).

    Of course there’s also Stheno’s rant towards the ‘Damn fool of a dragon’ ™.
    >But the wisps of emotion in his aura were all wrong for a child despairing of ever finding a place in his own world.>
    I don’t have enough of a read on Sachi’s personality on this aspect so who knows if she fits that bill.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. >She did have a lot of despair, canon. >
        Not surprising. It’s noted that she never wanted to leave the City of Beginnings in the first place. She was utterly convinced that she was going to die in SAO and never see the real world again.

        She simply wanted to go home, and never got attached to the world of SAO.

        Of course that could be the trick the cougar pulled when adopting her:
        >it was kind of nice to be pretty>
        >And all her senses were so rich>
        >just for her.>
        >She didn’t have to be so scared>

        The youkai gave her what she wanted. To be pretty, to feel special, to have that sense of safety.

        What’s that classic line about drug dealer tactics, “The first hit is free.” I think?

        If she survives, she’ll associate this strength, special feeling etc with this state of a cougar youkai. And then when the game ends, she’ll turn back into little plain forgettable scared Sachi. She’s going to run back to the youkai for IRL adoption as fast as possible. Game. Set. Match.

        Now these aren’t the methods every adopter would be using (others are more honest about it) but there is nothing saying that youkai won’t try these sorts of tactics to help ‘ensure’ the players stay. As has been hinted, their backs are getting pretty close to the wall and they want to ensure that this hair-brained dragon-hatched scheme pays off.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. >Very, very possible. Don’t think Kirito hasn’t caught onto some of that… as have some other players, I suspect, but staying alive often overrides sober thought.>
        They’d have no reason to. These are NPC quest-rewards after all. Or at least they are supposed to be.

        I imagine this topic is going to be part of the freak-out when the whole ‘this is not a game’ breaks.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m…honestly a bit surprised it’s a cougar youkai. Mainly because I know far too many cougar legends, and they tend to be rather different.

    Which mean my brain is putting together the one about the cougar wife and not looking forward to where this one might go.

    (That said, if Old Man Coyote shows up, all bets are off!)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s actually a pioneer story that I’ve heard three different ways(I’m from Oregon, one of those areas that got settled pretty late, though the first time I heard the story, it was set in Wisconsin.) One was basically a kind of horror story(the cougar killed the wife, stole her voice, and lured people out into the woods with each proceeding voice, until they got together to kill it and it finally died screaming with a woman’s voice), one where it was a pretty straight substitution (Guy found his wife dazed and wandering at the edge of the fields, and brought her home, though she could talk she seemed to suffer an odd amnesia. As the year went on, she got better, but the farms around got hit badly as their cattle were torn to shreds. He got suspicious, faked falling asleep, and saw her head out, she got shot, and turned back into a cougar. They found his wife curled up in a cougar den, back to human form, but mad from being forced to spend months and raise cubs as a cougar.) and an older one that’s more likely then not, originally a selkie/swan wife situation. (Though when she gets uncovered, she murders the husband, and takes the kids to live with the Indians.)

    Now that I’m older, it kind of amuses me how much those are basically old world fairy tales with a New World animal(though hearing a cougar scream is…an experience, I do rather like them. And the Native stories are much more mixed.)

    Liked by 2 people

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