Monstrous Compendium Ch4 bit – Too Quiet

Dynamm gave Tae a determined smile. “So how did the Mistfeathers take you in, anyway? I know the system changes your ID when you get adopted. A lot of NPCs seem to know Issin’s supposed to be from Mousedeath Village, and now Klein’s showing up as from Snow Springs, and Shaman Tetsutora says she’s responsible for him. But she said you were Lusliat’s daughter.” He spread a curious, worried hand. “Are you okay with that?”

“I guess I have to be.” One finger rubbed her bow when she held it. “It’s happened to some people I know in the Siren Sisters, and a few other guilds. Maybe the game just thinks we fit the story, or something.” She tried to smile back. “It’s good, really. Now there’s always someplace I can go and be safe… Issin?”

In the middle of Fuurinkazan, the shaman’s fangs pressed on his lip. He blew out a breath, and shook his head. “Everybody, stop.”

Kirito raised a startled brow. Traded a glance with Harry One, and faded a bit off the path, where mist and tree-shadows would let him hide if he had to.

Klein’s hand ventured near his hilt, but he kept his stance loose. “What is it?”

“Don’t know.” Black-furred ears lowered. “I just have a really bad feeling.”

“Oh, that’s never good,” Kunimittz groaned.

“Got it.” Klein frowned at the path ahead. “Any particular kind of bad feeling? A don’t go there? Maybe a big bad monster twitch? Anything?”

“Don’t know. It’s weird.” Issin had his eyes half-closed, lips moving in a soundless incantation. “It’s like… whatever this is, the firebird doesn’t know it.”

Kirito suppressed a shiver. Issin’s firebird was a wise spirit, not an all-knowing one. There had to be some monsters and traps it didn’t know about.

“Or doesn’t want to know it,” Issin whispered. “Something that shouldn’t be.”

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37 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Ch4 bit – Too Quiet

    1. I think at first he would not care much about it. After all, all it can be is a link in the database. However, as he learns more about the game, he will be far more worried.
      And as I see it, some Eberron players need help fitting in, and I would not put it past Kirito/Argo to develop a quick test to see who is from Earth and who from Eberron.

      Liked by 4 people

  1. Now, this is just too intriguing. It’s sounding like Tae is not just a mechanical Turk like Stheno but a player. I never would have seen that coming.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wit the change in ID, it’s telling people who’s responsible for you, who they could expect retaliation from if they start trouble with you, and who to talk to if you start trouble. And to go back to a comment a few snips ago, about Sachi, that sense of belonging, of ‘I am always welcome’ that’s something we crave. Someone was very clever

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Interesting . . . and ominous.

    First there is the thing they know is ominous – the thing they don’t know what that the firebird doesn’t like . . . and the players don’t like just from that . . . and I have the feeling that when they find out what exactly it is, they all will like it even less.

    The other is the ID change.

    On the surface, it looks harmless. Just an simple game mechanic. And having a place where you can rest and get help has a lot of appeal for obvious reasons. Not just the safe haven thing but the feeling of community / home / family – something the players probably miss dearly as I bet many of them feel rather alone.

    Something that compared all of the stuff that will kill you doesn’t rate that much attention.

    But since we know that the game was started to get Eberron more people to fight, something tells me that changing one’s ID means that when the game is over, those people will not wake up on Earth but on Eberron. And I’d bet good money that someone in the Powers That Be is going work very hard to try ensure that people like Kirito who make a point not to be adopted but would be very useful back on Eberron still end up there regardless of remaining human.

    They might (probably) will fail but . . . can you imagine, after all that work to get back home, if Kirito opens his eyes on Earth only to discover that friends like Klein aren’t there . . . they are on Eberron? Do you think he’d just abandon them there without at least trying to find a way to save them? I don’t.

    Of course, that does sound a lot like what happened in the ALO part of the series if Wikipedia is to be believed . . .

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Sounds like it . . . and getting complicated was probably inevitable once more than one Cunning Plan became involved . . . of course, methinks that Kayaba and Kirito might not be the only ones who came up with or will come up with a Cunning Plan . . . and well some of these Cunning Plans are at cross-purposes, some of them have basically the same goals . . . but their creators aren’t necessarily fully honest with their Cunning Plan-making allies.

        Just saying that I don’t think the Dragon(s) involved in this mess are leaving all of the Cunning Plan stuff to Kayaba.

        Maybe I’m off but I cannot help but think that the characters might not be able to describe that particular Thirty Xanatos Pile-Up without using the word “cluster.”

        Liked by 2 people

      2. And presumably it will get even more complicated due to Recon’s well-meaning but ‘By all the gods in existence, you’ve killed us all’ screw-up/plan/magic spell that you hinted about some time ago.

        Kirito is going to be mighty conflicted and pretty stressed.

        On one hand he’s reunited with his family.

        On the other hand, they’re all in Eberron instead of back on Earth.

        On the third hand/prehensile tail, he’s very likely the only human member of his family left. Well depending on how human he considers himself considering how twitchy he is about psionics, magics, warlock contracts, sorcery etc.

        Fortunately he knows a perfectly acceptable target (to him) to take said stress out on. Cue Fuurinkazan, Asuna and a few other people dog-piling him while Recon runs for the hills.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. I defy anyone to find a Thirty Xanatos Pileup that does //not// have the sentence, “Things might get complicated,” attached to it in some form or fashion.

        Liked by 3 people

      4. Nope. I take back my earlier statement. This is ominous. Cunning and desperation and bunnies and complications. Kinda sounds like the beginning of a ‘straight from my nightmares’ version of the Favorite Things song. Of course, that doesn’t mean that any of these things wouldn’t belong on a list of my actual favorite things. Because contrariness, I guess.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. >>I defy anyone to find a Thirty Xanatos Pileup that does //not// have the sentence, “Things might get complicated,” attached to it in some form or fashion.

    Xanatos was a complicated guy. My favorite kind of villain, and you can’t deny that Fox and his son don’t provide for some Pet the Dog moments for him. What still gets me is how calm and charming he is! You know he’s the bad guy, unrepentant bad guy, but he’s so charismatic, I love it.

    Contrast with Kayaba, and with PoH. PoH is just, flat out Kill It With Sacred Fire and Douse the Ashes With Holy Water. Kayaba is much more complicated. Ironically, if he did survive the upload, he seems to have become more empathetic. He’s still playing favorites. (And is being the literal Ghost in the Machine.)

    Liked by 3 people

      1. If for no other reason than a good display of Even Evil Has Standards.

        Because, if I’m remembering Gargoyles correctly and my understanding of Laughing Coffin is correct, Xanato might be willing to hurt or kill people to achieve something but at least there was always a goal beyond because I can or it just amused me.

        It might have been selfish goal but at least he wasn’t trying to kill or actually kill just for the sake of killing.

        You know, maybe the reason we all like the thought of crossing SAO with Rurouni Kenshin is simply because, in many ways, some of these PK guilds like Laughing Coffin are an unholy mixture of Udo Jin-E (for obvious reasons) and Shishio Makoto (they definitely have his “the weak are food for the strong” mentality . . . sounds like Kayaba does too) AND we love the idea of them getting their behinds thoroughly killed. And it would be hurt for them not with only Kirito, Asuna, and such after them but Kenshin, Saitoh, and Aoshi . . . almost feel bad for them. Almost. Except not really. Because I know what they are and what they’ve done.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Further on Xanatos: It’s been quite a while since I watched Gargoyles, but one of the important bits for Xanatos characterization was that Xanatos goals weren’t necessarily evil in themselves, if memory serves. They were frequently​ selfish, and he was willing to use extreme methods if that was what it took, but at worst they were pretty much always about power.

        Power for power’s sake in the hands of a man willing to go to the lengths David Xanatos was is always something to be worried about. But the fact he does have standards – believable ones even! – also makes him a better person, more well rounded, and more interesting character than a lot of other villains not just mentioned here, but in general.

        One can argue that Sugou Noboyuki from the Fairy Dance arc had the same end goal of accruing personal power, but Sugou made it clear over his arc that he’ll do anything – and I do mean anything – to get it. Sugou was willing to cross lines that Xanatos would find objectionable, and that was why Xanatos is the more Noble Demon even as they’re both bad guys, and that’s one thing that makes Xanatos a more interesting character. (The other reason Xanatos comes off better than Sugou is because Sugou also had the side-goal of basically wanting to rape Asuna, but that’s more the creepy-as-hell-cherry on top of the monster-sundae. Also, side note: now I just imagine Xanatos virtual avatar confronting Sugou’s ALO avatar in a cyberspace battle and Xanatos snarking a few cheap shots about how Sugou ain’t nothin’ but nothin’ compared to the real Oberon.)

        As for Laughing Coffin, Kayaba, Shishio Makoto, or Udo Jin-e… Oye.

        Laughing Coffin are more scary boogeymen than actual characters, because their entire motive is reckless sadism for the fun of it. This makes them look like Shishio Makoto on the surface, and both would probably get along with Udo Jin-e, but that surface similarity was about as a far as it goes.
        Death Gun is the closest we get to seeing the actual PoH, and he’s actually got a lot in common with Jin-e, which I could see for Laughing Coffin’s upper ranks. Jin-e and Laughing Coffin kill for fun. Because they enjoy it. But they have no motive beyond that. And the only time the ‘why?’ is interesting for them is when it’s revealed someone hired them to do what they love, and that question of who directed them is more actually important. They’re scary, they’re dangerous, but they’re not very deep or very interesting in and of themselves. The thing that gives them the most class as villains is their sense of fair play. Jin-e kills himself because that’s his job to deny the enemy information, and Death Gun has the murders all set up, but only actually kills if he gets the shot in-game. Before Death Gun our image of the rank and file Laughing Coffin is Kuradeel. Not a whole hell of a lot of a fair play to that guy, he pretty clearly just wants to kill because he was shown up and made to look like a fool.

        Shishio would mostly approve of Laughing Coffin and maybe also of Udo Jin-e, because Shishio actually had a full philosophy behind his actions. Shishio was an interesting villain because he’s not a casual sadist like Laughing Coffin and he does have a sense of fair play, like Jin-e. Shishio believes in his philosophy that the weak are food for the strong and that the world should be ruled and determined by one’s personal strength. He’s wrong obviously, but his belief is earnest. To the point that he decides if he loses to Kenshin then that’s fair. He’ll still think Kenshin’s philosophy is wrong, but he’d accept that Kenshin was stronger than him. Laughing Coffin reflects the kind of world Shishio would want to build. But what makes him an interesting character is that he’s not doing it out of a desire for personal power or to indulge his own tastes but is instead acting from a place of very genuine belief. There’s only so much complexity it to it. But it gives him depth and makes him interesting as a villain and character.

        Kayaba weirdly ends up between Xanatos and Shishio. Kayaba just… wants to make Aincrad real, for whatever reason. And genuinely fails to care for however much blood that’ll cost. His goals don’t actually have much of a philosophy, and he doesn’t have some of the complexity of other villains mentioned. But. But within that structure he is scrupulously fair. He plays by and accepts the rules of the game. One of those rules is the narrative that sets him up as the final boss. But once he’s explained the rules to you he is utterly fair about them. This makes him feel more well rounded than, say Jin-e or Laughing Coffin, but leaves him with less depth to analyze than Shishio. Shishio has a philosophy, Kayaba has a goal, Xanatos has both.

        So, to sum up: Xanatos is best villain but probably falls under Lawful-Evil or Nuetral-Evil. Shishio is second best villain but is Evilest villain, and while Shishio works with lots of Chaotic-Evil villains, Shishio himself is actually more a Lawful-Evil kind of guy. Kayaba is probably third best villain, but manages to somehow be also the least traditional villain and is Lawful-Evil, and an argument (that I will disagree with) can be made for Lawful-Nuetral. Jin-e is just barely Lawful-Evil and ties with Death Gun who’s frankly probably more Nuetral-Evil or Chaotic-Evil. Laughing Coffin is next and they’re overall Chaotic-Evil​. Then we get Sugou, at the bottom of the pile, probably Nuetral-Evil, but maybe with some Lawful leanings, after all he justifies himself by referring to existing power structures and seeks to (using some illegal methods) work his way up this power structures from the inside.

        Liked by 2 people

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