Monstrous Compendium Ch4 bit – Tae

A/N: If you want to know why parasitic wasps come up in my stories, go ahead and Google tarantula hawks. Just… be prepared for the eww. Mother Nature is more creepy than I could ever be.


“Tae.”

A bare breath of a whisper near her ear. The draconic girl almost jumped out of her skin, game-trained reflexes clapping one hand over her mouth before she could scream-

Kirito caught her free arm, helping her steady herself on the massive branch of the nearoak tree she’d perched in to overlook the dark mass of the nest. “Fuurinkazan’s coming.”

Nobody human should be that quiet. Tae took her hand down, still as jittery as if she’d downed a whole mug of that black infusion humans called coffee. “I still can’t believe they’re doing this,” she breathed. “I’m… I’m sorry, I’m just so scared.”

More scared than Kirito could ever imagine. Centuries ago, Mahrak Mistfeather had been rescued from a nest like this. She’d grown up with the old stories of what happened inside, the bleak advice to always, always carry a dose of lethal poison with you, just in case….

Does taking poison yourself even work in SAO? Wolfsbane’s supposed to, but that’s not just a poison

“Tae.” A low, urgent murmur. “Look at me.”

Black eyes. Blacker than an oni’s; black as the obsidian gem-eyes on an earth elemental tearing mountains apart as it roamed free. No human should have those eyes.

He had a trade window open, of all things. “Put on full gloves.”

Tae arched a feathered brow. “You’re not wearing full gloves.” Why was he offering to trade her ordinary throwing pikes-?

There was a darkness on the metal tip, and a star next to their name. The system only did that if there were some kind of… player modification. “What did you do to those pikes?”

Kirito’s smile had an edge like Grandma Tiger about to go put the fear of her into a goblin horde. “Equip some gloves. You’ll need them.”

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37 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Ch4 bit – Tae

  1. Well, if this goes super south Tae can take solace in the fact that whatever is on those pikes will likely kill her megadead
    …not that I expect that to happen. (Grabs popcorn)

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Tea as a youkay spy among the players-Confirmed.
    people here seem unused to Japanese features. as I don’t think his eyes as unique.
    And she is about to get first hand look at Kirito in action. that is often epic.

    though i suspect that by the end all clearers will be.

    i would appreciate Asuna getting some screen time as well at some point.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. No human should have those eyes.

    And how many humans does Tae know? How much does she really know about natural variation of Japanese phenotypes?

    Okay, probably because he is an elemental shadow warlock.

    And I’ve been slow, because I just now put together that the reason MCO SAO has twenty thousand players, twice that of canon SAO, is so that ringers from Eberron can be included.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. So, is Kirito already showing some non-human ancestry coming to the fore, or do Warlocks sometimes experience shifts in how they look? Or is it as some people have speculated merely a lack of exposure to Japanese phenotypes?

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Please tell me that is NOT Black Lotus Extract on those.

    Video game poison mechanics and that stuff is beyond leathal.

    As to Kirito’s eyes, sounds like one of the Abyssal Heritor feats or one of the vision based Invocations could give such an effect.

    Speaking of Invocations, try this mental image on for size. Starburst Stream combined with Hidious Blow.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Well, it is Kirito’s cannon eyecolor. I would not put it past Dragon!Kabaya to have /given/ him that feat /based/ on that eyecolor. Possibly well after ‘game’ has gone live, even. Beware becoming an evil draconic Gm’s favorite. His gifts will probably have …clauses. Possibly including the inclusion of claws.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. More “fast acting” than a contact poison that after a failed DC 20 fort save smashes you with 3d6 con damage as both the initial and secondary effects…

        What in that Nine Fold Dragon’s name is he using!?

        Liked by 3 people

    2. Awesome idea for Hideous Blow + Starburst Stream. Tragically, according to the RAW (Rules As Written) not actually possible though.

      I’ve been trying to think of how to explain this for like the past day and a half without going too much into the fine mechanics of DnD – for the benefit of any other posters who haven’t played DnD or at least 3.5 themselves. I have failed on three separate occasions and deleted my comment before posting, so bear with me here.

      Starburst Stream is a Kata, a formalized attack pattern that can be adapted to a limited degree based on circumstances, and it’s notable in SAO canon for the sheer number and speed of the attacks, combined with multiple attack angles making it a very difficult to interrupt videogame combo move.

      In DnD if you’re hitting more than once (or with the right crazy feat tree, once per held weapon) than the character is specifically taking a Full Attack Action, full stop. Do not pass ‘Go’, do not collect $200.

      If a character takes a Full Attack Action, they’re effectively giving up all their actions for the round for as many Attack Actions as they can make. Normally the character gets a Standard Action – which can be spent on a single Attack Action – and a Move Action. Sacrificing the Standard Action for two Move Actions can be done, as can sacrificing the Move Action for a variety of specific Full-Round Actions. But you cannot gain more than one Standard Action in a round, just Full-Round Actions. Any attack beyond just one requires the character to take a Full Attack Action, or a special Full Round Action or modified Full Attack Action granted to the character via Feats.

      Hideous Blow allows a character to deliver the Warlock signature Invocation – their Eldritch Bolt through a Weapon Attack, but it doesn’t change the casting time of Eldritch Bolt which is still a Standard Action. There are several spells already like this – such as Shocking Grasp – where the spell takes a Standard Action to cast and as a special part of that Standard Action the spell can be delivered through a single Attack Action, instead of the normal Touch Attack granted as part of casting such a spell. But the rules are clear that a character cannot normally cast a Standard Action spell and then perform a Full Attack Action in the same round. This is because that would be broken as all get out.

      A Warlock can pick up the Quicken Spell-Like Ability Feat for Eldritch Bolt in specific or Quicken Spell-Like Abilities for their Invocations in general, but those Swift Action castings granted by Quicken would already have an attack for delivery of the spell as part of the now-reduced casting time. So Kirito could pick that up and spend a full round to hit with Hideous Blow before chaining into Starburst Stream, but that’s about it for combining the two. And depending on exactly how Starburst Stream works mechanically in DnD it might already require the user to spend that Swift Action on the Kata anyways.

      I mentioned elsewhere I played a Ranger/Warlock in 3.5. I actually gave this a lot of thought while looking through obscure rulebooks on how to combine Two-Weapon Fighting with the Warlock’s Eldritch Bolt before giving up and going for a Ranged Combat Style for the character’s Ranger levels instead.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Fair, but this is less about how magic works than physics. DnD’s Action Economy is far from perfect, but it is the game’s best attempt at simulating ‘you can only do so many things at once in a fight when everyone else is also trying to do X many things at the same time.’

        Other Tabletop systems I’ve seen do it better or worse (Exalted 2nd Edition does a great job with its Tick-based encounter system. Meanwhile the system is so vague in parts as to be unplayable, but TSR’s original Marvel Superheroes game has the start of something really clever with their Declaration to Initiative to Pre-Action to Action combat system), but in the end all those systems are about trying to balance that a person can only see, react, and act so quickly and to so many things at once.

        Now, pushing the rules of magic so that one can cast while Fighting… an individual only has so much focus and mental discipline to control and direct their magic, but theoretically people could learn to pick up the main trick of Pathfinder’s Magus or DnD 5th Ed’s Bard, where the class can perform their full attack with their primary weapon and simultaneously cast a Standard Action spell as a secondary attack, and even learn to combine the two… Though for sheer balance that’s not combinable with Two-Weapon Fighting.

        The other alternative was something the Kineticist – Pathfinder’s non-copyright violating cousin of the Warlock – did and have a specific Invocation where you transform your Blast power into a melee weapon the Character then wields, or breaking it down so it appears as a weaker Aura around your fists so you can do a full Monk Flurry of Blows while elementally Punching them, even as the Aura does less damage than a single blast would.

        Personally I’ve been figuring Starburst Stream is probably a special Feat tree off of Two-Weapon Fighting, Eldritch Bolt, and/or Two-Weapon Rend, where it simulates Hideous Blow + a long stream of hard to counter/interrupt Two-Weapon Fighting attacks by not just granting Rend damage if the character hits once with each weapon, but by granting Rend damage for every two hits they land on the target (mechanically it does more damage, but in a way that is balanced around existing Feats, while stylistically Kirito the character is described as hitting with unprecedented speed). I figure the Hideous Blow is either a required prereq for another shape Invocation that specifically does either half or one-third damage of a normal Blast per successful strike, but does change the casting time to be part of a Full Attack Action, or makes the spell lasts until the start of the Warlock’s next turn (originally allowing it to be useful for AoO [Attacks Of Opportunity]), but Kirito picks up Quicken Spell-Like Ability so he can do it as a Swift Action before a Full Attack. Maybe throw in a Spell Rend Feat, where an enemy is dealt Rend damage if you hit them with multiple damage spell effects as part of a single attack, or maybe it’s a custom creation of Kirito’s where he casts a quickened Hideous Blow or Quickens the Shape Invocation where it’s an AoE (Area Of Effect) when Kirito’s chaining between multiple opponents, before going into the Starburst Stream Kata proper?

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh ho! Poison, a scoundrel’s best friend. And a solo’s, too, probably, since poisons in D&D often lower ability scores. Maybe a Con poison, from the way he’s handling it? Hit something with one of those, and if they fail their save, one good whack will do it…

    Also, Vathara, you’re great, I would not take back any of the awesome stuff I’ve seen you put together, but my fear of bugs was nowhere near as bad before I started reading your stuff. Yikes. And ew.

    (Why does reality keep giving me freaky stuff to be bothered by)

    Liked by 3 people

      1. And don’t forget: if the Invaders survive our flora, our fauna, our weapons, and our hijacking of their weapons then the Country Music will surely get them!

        It worked in Mars Attacks! at any rate.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. “What did you do to those pikes?”

    I don’t know but I bet the psiwasps aren’t going to like it very much. Provided they live long enough after exposure to think such thoughts – which given probable numbers and such, something very fast-acting is probably recommended. Something that leaves said monsters dead or done for the count before they realize they need to leery of said object . . . or the person wielding it.

    Of course, said monsters or whatever might not have worried enough anyway. Especially if the weapon it was smeared on looked puny enough. Or their opponent did. Or they were just that arrogant. Which does seem to a common evil problem – being too arrogant to live. Through that does tend to work in the good guys favor that the bad guys rarely treat them as a serious threat. Some heroes have an easier than others at pulling off the Oh, I’m hardly dangerous at all, no need to be your guard with this hopeless, little idiot . . . – come on, how many people who know perfectly well that Battousai is supposed to have red hair or even knew Kenshin was Battousai still took one look at him and underestimated and/or ignore / dismiss even the idea that he was Battousai?

    Mother Nature is more creepy than I could ever be.

    Quite.

    And why make this stuff up when there is more than enough of the real thing running around?

    And when Mother Nature can come up with something 10 times creepier than your imagination could?

    I always say if you are looking for terrible non-humans monsters – look at Mother Nature. If you are looking for terrible human monsters and just how much a bastard one human being can be to another human being – look at history. Just don’t eat before doing this research – and have something pretty or soothing to look at afterward since effective Brain Bleach has yet to be invented . . .

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Being a solo, Kirito has a vested interest in anything that will let him take down multiple monsters in a tearing hurry. Because there’s always one more than you think.

      And yes. Brain Bleach would definitely be called for after some annals of history. Doesn’t exist yet. Drat.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. …Ngl, I’m pretty amused by what I assumed was Tae being surprised/overwhelmed by the level of Intense Kirito can get when he’s serious being directed at her point blank… And half the commenters seem to be reading as something legitimately supernatural. It’s like, c’mon guys, not everything needs to be a sign of the supernatural encroaching on the character, some things are just poetic turns of phrase.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, but before any of that it’s also Kirito. This is the same character in Change of Fate who Vathara had alarm the bejeezus out of a fully trained Jedi Knight through pure Intent when the Intent wasn’t even directed at the Empath in question, just present nearby.

        Liked by 1 person

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