Monstrous Compendium Ch6 bit – Golem

Kirito looked the draconic girl in the eye. “You’re a player. You have as much to lose as any of us.” Black eyes softened. “Maybe more. No one’s going to attack our families in Japan. But if the Five Nations decide to invade Aincrad again….”

Wrapped in Dynamm’s arms, Tae crumpled, tears flowing free.

“Hey,” he whispered. “Hey, it’s going to be okay.”

She tucked her head against his cheek, shivering. “I’ve been so scared.”

Dale blinked, and reddened. “Seriously? You think – but people don’t just go around killing other people! Not when nobody started a fight-” He cut himself off, jaw clenched and grim. “But Tinctoria Village threw us out. We were there to help them. They were marked as friendly NPCs. They could have called for a healer. They could have done something!”

“No, they couldn’t.” Tae scrubbed at her tears. “They don’t… humans don’t h-have shamans. And farmers don’t have strong clerics. They’re all in the cities. If there’s no forest with a druid nearby….” She wrapped a wing around Dynamm, and shuddered.

“Then they don’t have anybody who can treat someone who’s infected,” Issin said heavily. “All they can do is protect themselves.” He eyed Klein. “Guess we should count ourselves lucky all they did was chase us out.”

“I don’t think luck had anything to do with it.” Kirito tapped fingers on one knee, brows drawn down in dark contemplation. “They knew Fuurinkazan was strong enough to kill the monsters attacking their village. And they knew you wouldn’t kill a bakeneko youkai. It doesn’t take a high-functioning program to calculate that trying to kill Klein would go… badly.”

“No shamans. No high-level healers at all?” Kunimittz closed one hand around his other fist, thinking. “And no Moonswords.”

Tae nodded, swallowing her tears. “They’re just legends, now,” she said, voice ragged. “My father says they almost all died driving the daelkyr back to the Plane of Madness. The last one he’d heard of was a medusa, Connlan of Swiftwater Pass. And….” Her shoulders slumped. “The Karrnathi killed them all.”

Dynamm held her. “So Lusliat really is your father?”

“Sometimes.” Her voice was soft, even to Klein’s ears. “Other times he’s just a golem. A… programmed NPC. Is that the right word?”

Klein winced. “That’s got to be awful.” Though he guessed awful didn’t come close. Something that looked like your father, but part of the time it wasn’t… horrific sounded a lot closer.

“That’s not the worst.” Pale, Tae rubbed her hands over each other. “I’ve asked him. If we’re really dying.” She gulped. “He won’t tell me.”

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39 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Ch6 bit – Golem

  1. One, yeah that is nightmare fuel.

    Two, it sounds like the PC youkai are as stuck as the human SAO players, only youkai lords can log in and out.

    Three, If I’m right that would put people like Tae in the ‘players’ category, as far as those that entered SAO as humans. If all dumped in Eberron, instead of joining existing clans, it might be one giant clan of survivors of various human and youkai races. And not particularly well inclined to their ‘sponsors’, to varying degrees.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Refresh my memory, Beniryuu promise to refresh the population of their clans, or their species? I get the feeling Dragons play by Jedi ‘exact words’ truth.

    And would they consider the “Monkey’s Paw” from the same story a cute hatchling effort?

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Well. “Exact words,” eh? Cue up the ominous music!

        I don’t know enough about D&D dragons to say much here… What’s the difference between a red dragon and any other color? Is there maybe a Paladin color type who could be convinced to sit on Beniryuu and/or offer patterns for making the maximum number of boots, handbags, etc out of Beniryuu’s hide?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. meep

        Which makes me curious about what these Prophecies are… Doom and gloom or avoidance of rocks fall everyone dies?

        Liked by 2 people

      3. In most versions of d&d, and related rpgs, dragons are color coded for convenience. “Metalic” colors (gold, silver, etc) are generally assigned as “always good” dragons, and “chromatic (color-like)” colors (red, black, etc) are generally assigned as “always evil” dragons. Within those categories, each different color is additionally often used to denote type of personality and goals, with red dragons being the proudest and most blatantly destructive “I’m powerful and I’m gonna show off just how powerful I am by stealing or destroying all your stuff”. Other colors focus on other things, tho they all share some of those traits.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Red Dragons are specifically Chaotic Evil, which in those versions of D&D mean that they aren’t going to keep deals they make.

        Eberron explicitly relaxes some of the alignment rules, and races/monsters that are normally of one alignment are explicitly stated to have exceptions and variation.

        So it isn’t as stupid as it sounds for Aincrad to hear Beniryuu out. Aincrad is basically built around monsters which might be assumed ‘always chaotic evil’ in other settings and listings having capacity for good and law.

        That said, I’ve just now caught that his name implies origin in part of Eberron that is currently ruled by evil dimensional aliens. So one may have possessed him, or he might be in league with them. Or maybe he dislikes them, and that is why. I dunno.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. There were also optional neutral-aligned dragons in gem colors – amethyst, sapphire,etc -, at least in one of the Dragon magazine articles from back in the day.

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  3. Hm.

    On a side note – Connlan, huh.

    The sad thing is I’m pretty sure this is actually a nicer end than his canonical one. Assuming there isn’t a certain berserker spearman running around on the Karrnathi side…

    Liked by 2 people

      1. So, wait… Is the character Connlan here actually based off of a character from Eberron proper? Or is this another FFVII cameo?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah, that’d make sense. Probably for the best in that case, no matter how hard you try I don’t think Cuchulan ‘s Warp Spasm can be fit under Cute Monster Anything.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Alot of your story bits recently have made me want to leave a comment simply stating “oh dear”. Or stock up on popcorn. Or both. I feel like I should be suspicious of this for some reason but have not yet figured out why. *squints suspiciously/mildly confusedly at everything*

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hm… “welding” the players of two different worlds together, in the same way as katana were classically forged (metaphorically speaking). Given how K!B’s set this up, that part of it’s liable to work. That’s the hell of dealing with Kayaba in any SAo-based story — he’s a Highly Competent Magnificent/Maleficent Bastard.
    This reminds me of a plotbunny I spawned once, where Kayaba was a Well-Intentioned Extremist: he created true sapient AI, realized that he was liable to create a Bugglegum Crisis/Blade Runner situation, and decided the “fix” was to plop a bunch of his “children,” and an equal number of humans, into SAO… with their memories tweaked just enough that nobody knew who was _homo_sapiens_sapiens_ and who was _homo_sapiens_cyber_. The idea being that, once Aincrad was cleared, the human players would be too invested in their friends/comrades/lovers who turned out to be AIs to stand idly by and let the Boomer/Replicant style exploitation to happen (and the surviving AIs likewise unwilling to go for the Skynet Solution).
    Basically, imagine Kayaba engineered a situation intended to create the Kirito/Asuna/Yuki dynamic across the entire playerbase.
    The nastiest part of the whole concept was… his solution could, arguably, have been the lesser of many evils.
    (fridge horror version: the human players who died… got “overwritten” in meatspace by Kayaba’s “children.” Extra horror points if the poor AIs had no say in the matter…)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. … That actually sounds pretty awesome and I’d be super curious to read it.

      Though – for all it being published across multiple difficult to access separate platforms – wasn’t there something similar going on in the backstory for Dot.Hack// (god even knows if I ‘spelled’ that correctly) franchise? …Really wish I had more reliable knowledge/access to the Dot.Hack story to be able to play Spot the Difference with your idea; ‘Cause your idea’s definitely different, just… related (I dunno what the word would be)?

      (Also Bonus horrifically painful option for your fridge horror addition: post-SAO Yui wakes up in Sachi’s body… because Kirito needs to see the friend he failed to save – who forgave him – every time he looks at his adopted daughter.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely zero familiarity with DotHack (not even going to try for that weird textual-title thing it has going on), I’m afraid.
        And… Yuki in Saschi’s body? Holy crap, dude, I thought *I* could imagine some grimderp scenarios. That’s 100% high-octane distilled Nightmare Fuel right there.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. …Thank you? (Your use of ‘grimderp’ leaves me uncertain if my idea is being made fun of for being too much or complemented for sheer pain.)

        I like happy stories. Where the good guys win and the bad guys lose and nobody dies.

        I’ve also come up with what some of my players in a role-play focused tabletop game described as ‘three of the most monstrous and horrifying reoccurring villains ever’. One PC actually had to be retired not due to death or physical incapability, but because after the illusion/dream shenanigans my villain pulled the character could basically no longer be certain what she was experiencing was real or a hallucination and couldn’t function in the field without suffering a stress breakdown. I did not set out to do this intentionally. My game did not include a SAN meter. The player came to this conclusion after everything her PC had been through.

        I like and encourage happy endings though, so she’s been getting treatment and is still part of the cast. The character just doesn’t actually go out on missions anymore. Once she’s had enough time and distance the character may choose to take up fieldwork again.

        I think it’s because my response to conflicts in fiction is “These are all the pieces of this scenario. Am I in charge? If yes, do I have a solution planned out? Good. In that case what’s the first thing that occurs to me to use up all available other pieces on the way there so we don’t have too many loose plot elements lying around.”

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      3. Dark is dark, grimdark is darkness concentrated for its own sake, grimderp is the perception that darkness has been concentrated to the point of parody or improbability.

        I like interesting scenarios.

        I’ve read LeBlanc’s Constant Battles, and think LeBlanc more correct that Margaret Meade.

        One of the parts of Mahouka’s backstory that I fell in love with was that horrific world war. It is refreshing to see a world war, in a Japanese story or in general, which has a social impact on the wider society. I’ll forgive a lot of the other issues of verisimilitude for that. (I’ve a mild obsession with thermodynamics and his biological world-building really shows the seams.)

        One of my favorite fanfictions is Sic Semper Morituri, which literally translates to Thus Always We Are Going To Die. It is a Lovecraft/Evangelion set in an alternate post WWII 1947. It establishes early on that certain characters are going to die just before the end, and certain characters will survive the end.

        So what I see as a complete society, an interesting scenario to test and display character can easily be described in ways that do not work for other people, especially across cultural gaps like favoring or disfavoring Meade’s alleged fraud.

        A current WIP, spoken of here and elsewhere, can be described in terms of collection of unpleasantness. I have instead been focused on the part of the core design intent that overlaps with the core sales pitch. (Sales pitch is hard for me, so I’ve been working.)

        Today I started worldbuilding a project from the beginning. I have no plot, no fixed idea of character, so I have no sales pitch yet. The best description I would have yet is a simple recitation of elements. The obvious response to such a list is ‘what makes that work?’ If mostly dark elements are listed, grimderp is an obvious expectation. I am only feeling my way towards what could make it work. As with all writing, the important elements do not always make it to the reader’s page.

        The fun we have here is partly brainstorming. Brainstorming is never meant to withstand what final product is. Sometimes the early ideas other people leave here have me hot, and sometimes cold. This does not match the other reactions to the same idea. People differ, tastes differ, what people get out of a piece of writing differ.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That was the basic premise of .Hack//sign, an AI that was programmed to think it was a human player in a VRMMORPG finding out that it was an AI. Also finding out that its creator was a Kayaba level genius programmer, but a _nice_ one, who created a VR/AI SEED, only to have it taken from him by Evil Corporate Bosses. The creator managed to build in some backdoors and hidden messages, and release his “daughter” (the AI in question), before he had a convenient “accident” at the hand of the Evil Corporate Bosses.

        Other parts of the story in other media deal with other factors in the same setting, other characters, other questions. But the background to it all is the creator’s plans for the future of AI and VR SEED despite the efforts of the Evil Corporate Bosses to shoot everyone in the foot. (at least, as far as I can tell from the few parts that I was able to see)

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Okay. I knew part of it was the creation of powerful AIs, and further treating those AIs as people. But the main focus of the first anime was a side effect of the whole conflict causing various people to become comatose and trapped in the game. The video games I think more fully explain WTH is going on in the overarching plot.

        I was amused when it was revealed in a sequel series that one reoccurring enemy/occasional ally from the first games and anime was such a troll/jerk because he was literally a child (like 8 or 9), under the age limits whose (mildly neglectful) parents were letting him play the game anyways, and that he didn’t have the context/understand when other characters tried to explain ‘No, we’re not talking about the game. Players are falling into commas and we’re investigating why/how to help them.’ The fact that that sequel series has a great deal of plot and character development about his trauma/repressed memories of what he went through when he ended up in a coma trapped in the game the first time around, and his responses as a teenager when this shit starts happening again actually did a great job Saving an otherwise annoying character From the Scrappy Heap for me. Plus, it did a good job of pointing out the underlying idea that online we judge and respond to people based on what they tell us and our assumptions, and that that is not necessarily an accurate reflection of who we’re dealing with, not just scammers, but everyday people wandering in to places that maaaybe they shouldn’t be. How it’s important to remember not to assume things online and approach from trying to build understanding. I didn’t get (access to) much of the core of the series, but that plotline felt very well done.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. >>That said, I’ve just now caught that his name implies origin in part of Eberron that is currently ruled by evil dimensional aliens. So one may have possessed him, or he might be in league with them. Or maybe he dislikes them[…]
    >>*EG* Ah yes. You noticed that little detail…

    See, this just makes me think of one question I’ve been wanting to bring up for a while now: If they keep describing SAO as a ‘dream’ – not an inappropriate description – how does that tie in to the Quori and Dal’Quor the Plane of Dreams? Because for all that the Giants of Xen’drik somehow permanently placed Dal’Quor so it could never again be in convergence with Eberron, it’s still the Plane of Dreams and any creature of Eberron that dreams still comes into contact with Dal’Quor whenever they sleep.

    I know you’re a fan of the Quori as bad guys (which, fair enough. I’m personally pretty attached – no pun intended – to the Daelkyr as bad guys. But that’s because I think their loot’s really cool, and I’d love to Helm-of-Opposite-Alignment or winning-over-through-debate a whole bunch of Good Daelkyr Symbionts for my various PCs to wield in battle).

    So. Now I’m even more worried about a Quori connection. Especially since traditionally Yui is a sub-system of Cardinal and here she was previously held and experiment​ed on by the Quori’s agents in The Cult of the Illuminated Whoops confusing my fantasy worlds there, sorry ’bout that The Path of Inspiration.

    See previously I was just worried that might give the Quori a way in. Now I know there’s a chance of a connection.

    Liked by 1 person

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