Monstrous Compendium Ch4 bit – Facing Fear

“Hey, everyone.” Argo’s voice carried up the path; half teasing, half serious. “Room for one more?”

Kirito straightened, seeing the tall redhead stalking behind the information dealer, emerald cobras ducking in and out of her hair. “Lady Stheno!”

I was right!

Theoretically, the game designers could have planned for this. The Psiwasps’ Nest might be an unmarked part of the quest, intended to trigger an NPC’s help. Vincent showed up on multiple levels; there was no reason other youkai lords couldn’t do the same.

Only theory needed to have its eyes checked, because an NPC intended to help should have been striding tall and confident, boosting the morale of faltering players. Stheno stalked, claws clenching and releasing at her sides, all too ready to flee back down the path and away.

She’s afraid. She’s so afraid.

Kirito stepped forward to bow to her, while Agil and the rest were still gaping. “Milady. How can we help?”

“Come back alive.” Stheno’s voice shook. But she straightened her spine, and flashed the assembled mini-raid a stark glance from obsidian lenses. “Hear me, defenders of Aincrad. You face an evil our kingdom has not seen in five hundred years. A scourge upon the world we all thought dead and dust. For I… I suffered at their claws, and….” She shuddered, and dragged in a breath. “And my sister, Euryale of the Thousand Blades, took her ghastly – final – revenge.”

Agil nodded, obviously listening hard. As were they all, Kirito knew. When an NPC, a youkai lord, offered you information before a boss fight – none of them had lived this long by not paying attention.

Even if some of what they were hearing made Kirito want to grab someone and shake them until answers fell out. Defenders of Aincrad? When all the youkai lords knew they weren’t from this land?

33 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Ch4 bit – Facing Fear

  1. >Defenders of Aincrad? When all the youkai lords knew they weren’t from this land?>
    Stheno, you’re slipping.

    Well assuming that was a slip and not an intentional hint.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Alternately the threat they’re about to face is so terrible, so /existential/ that regardless of origin anyone taking it on is, by default, defending all of Aincrad and as such is deserving of being named /Defender of Aincrad/.

      Kirito is not likely to miss that even if it doesn’t come to him until after the fight.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. So, hey! I’m new! *waits for the dad joke* :V

    I notice we’re up to Chapter 4, but Chapter 2’s not up yet, so I assume it’s not done and we’re working out of order – just generally curious how you do things, and wondering if there’s some place I can look to see next-chapter-estimates or what would be most accurate to estimate from myself?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It was mentioned that there was a bit in chapter two that needed to be written. It waits upon bunnies about Asuna and some boss fight. It hasn’t been tackled yet, because NaNoWriMo output is still being converted to something salable.

      Usually Chapter two would have been posted to AO^3 a few or so updates into three here. So two and three would’ve been posted, except vital chunks are missing.

      WtAS, MCO, TtC were known incomplete when we were asked if we wanted to see them anyway. (Near the end of posting TtC, some of us suggested that we were at a good place to break things between TtC and the sequel.) I think Ghost Touch may have had the same caveat. Kotodama did. Similar warnings about Sanzo vs Aliens, River of Stars, and Whispers of Fire.

      *mumble, mumble, mumble*

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ack, don’t worry, I think everyone understands that. I hope it does get better for you, sometimes all you can do is get through, with whatever way you can. Hopefully we’re not stressing you out?

        Liked by 3 people

    2. I forgot to mention the original stories on Amazon. A Net of Dawn and Bones and Count Taka and the Vampire Brides. The current WIP, Seeds of Blood, is a sequel to Net.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. You also forgot to mention that people need to read them.

        And buy them.


        Just got my husband to download Count Taka to his phone, hopefully he’ll love it as much as I do and he’s a LOT better at getting people to read stuff.

        Liked by 3 people

  3. Oh, and to actually reference the *snip*, if only vaguely – it’s interesting how many myths make the medusa’s gaze a “meeting her eyes” thing. Even in the original, Perseus gets around it with a shield polished mirror-bright, which you’d think wouldn’t count. I think the only one who *doesn’t* do it that way is the Nasuverse, where it’s a Mystic Eye that imposes 「Petrification」 on everyone with in the “gaze” that doesn’t have the raw magic power to resist.

    Well, I mention it because true “gaze attacks” are the natural counter to things like the psi-wasps – fast and mobile they may be, they can’t move faster than your field of view, and they don’t have the mystic weight to resist much in the way of curses either. In that regard their other natural enemy is usually area-effect and boundary lines, since it doesn’t much matter if the effect is weakened by the spread.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Actually, in the original I read(with the caveat I don’t read ancient Greek and am completely spoiled by having a friend who has a Master’s in it.) it wasn’t so much Medusa’s gaze as it was her appearance. Which is why it worked after her death.

    Amusingly, one of the reasons I heard for that fits in a remark from here, the Gorgons were actually related to the gods through the Titans, so given that viewing the gods directly was so lethal, it’s actually an expression of semi divinity turned to lethal beauty.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Well, mortals see the gods without dying (…. immediately) fairly regularly – hell, Orion’s problem was that he saw Artemis *naked*, and then proceeded to get stag-ified because the Greeks had no concept of “disproportionate retribution”. I think one version of the Medusa myth actually had her be cursed by Athena for her beauty, but I don’t think that version had Stheno and Euryale in it… well, it’s been a while.

      Anyway, it can’t quite be that, because Perseus gets away with seeing her in the mirror. Though maybe it’s her face in particular?

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Except that mortals see the gods in forms that are specifically designed to only show an aspect of the god’s Divine Glory.

        God’s are big crazy powerful things and spend most of their time when not on Olympus or when interacting with mortals intentionally in the Ancient Greek equivalent of ‘A Form You Are Comfortable With’. One of Zues’ affairs actually ended when a jealous Hera informed the mortal woman that she could not truly know Zues because she had never seen his true face, convincing the woman to demand to see Zues’ true form. Zues warned her multiple times that doing so would kill her, but at her insistence did just that – which, yes, killed her instantly.

        The Artemis that was seen bathing naked? Was her Divinity veiled so mortals could look upon her without dying.

        As for the mirror shield, the impression I was always left with was that the reflection is but an imitation of the real thing, and so doesn’t hold that fatal effect.

        Liked by 3 people

  5. I’ll note here that what occasionally gets translated as “mirror” is actually Athena’s brightly polished divinely crafted *bronze* shield, so not only is it less of a mirror then most people think, it would actually distort her appearance a lot. Plus the shield itself means protection.

    As for god’s appearance, I was mainly thinking of Dionysus’ mother and several other minor stories that indicate that most of the time, mortals don’t see the gods fully. Also, Orion? Titan descended too. (Though I heard that particular myth applied to a mortal king)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. On top of that Perseus was also a demigod anyways. Maybe for a fully mortal hero the distorted reflection would’ve still​ been fatal?

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Ah a clue, Sherlock . . .

    Dropped due to a combination of intention and scared-out-of-my-mind stress.

    But as Kirito mentioned, no one of them have survived this long by letting details like that pass by their ears unnoticed . . .

    I can only imagine just how blistered and blue the air around Kirito is going to get when he realizes that Kayaba hasn’t just trapped them in a death game . . . made worse when he stops cussing long enough to pay why to people like Klein . . . who also start calling Kayaba very unprintable stuff . . . especially if they stop and think about certain other details like that ID change mentioned earlier . . .

    If this was one of those shows where people sneeze when people are talking about them, someone might be inquiring about Heathcliff having a cold or something?

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m assuming that it starts with ‘Bastards’ before being told by the GM that’s too broad a category of Favored Enemies. It probably gets refined to ‘Bastard Programmers’, ‘Bastard Tricksters’, and ‘Manipulative Bastards’, before Kirito and the GM reach neutral ground with ‘whatever the hell that Bastard Kayaba is’.

        Liked by 3 people

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