Monstrous Compendium Ch7 bit – More Fluff

Stepping farther into shadow, Kirito vanished.

Shaken, Asuna reached for the shadowed wall. And touched only air. A secret tunnel?

She ghost-stepped her way inside, doing her best not to leave any trail to the entrance. Kirito said their host liked her privacy, and Asuna meant to honor that. “The mobs we ran into were all small. And you kept changing direction.”

“I didn’t want to meet anything big,” Kirito nodded. “It’s not polite to keep a youkai lord waiting.”

You’ve known a youkai lord since level twelve? Asuna wondered. What kind of youkai lord keeps cockatrices… oh.

A thousand hues of green surrounded the tunnel exit, splashed with fruits and blooms in all the colors of the rainbow. The air shimmered with brilliant shades of a tropical rainforest, yet it was no warmer than it should be for Aincrad’s summer fading into fall.

“Stay still,” Kirito advised, materializing handfuls of Roasted Crickets from his inventory. “They know me by scent and sight. I don’t want to startle them.” He poured some of the crickets into her hand. “Here, chick chick chick!”

Silence. Even the insects stopped buzzing.

Chirring feathers swarmed them.

“Just remember, most of the rumors are wrong,” Kirito told her, letting stern, quail-sized hens land on his shoulders to sniff him over. “The Compendium had it right; it’s their venom that petrifies people. And only the adults can do that. If a chick bites you the site will go numb and gray, but only for a few hours. You can actually build up a tolerance.”

“Good to know,” Asuna managed, wide-eyed. The Compendium had said wild cockatrices were mostly green, the better to blend into the jungles of their native Xen’drik. But here she saw black, white, bronze, spotted and striped – all the metallic colors of the rainbow. The chicks were even more colors. And fluffy.

One pale-blue chick with a head-tuft of black like a punk rocker landed on her wrist, talons catching on cloth as it walked right into her hand. Wing-claws gripped a cricket a third its size, as the chick cheeped and gobbled.

Soft, and small, and… all they want is some food and petting….

Asuna’s breath hitched; she blinked as the world went blurry. Her throat felt tight, and she almost thought she was sniffling. Except field leaders of the KoB didn’t sniffle.

Kirito let her lean on him as she bawled.


25 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Ch7 bit – More Fluff

  1. It can be really relaxing to sit and listen to the bir- er, cockatrices. Are they different colors because they’re domesticated and Stheno breeds them?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I think he brought her there not just to meet Stheno but so she could decompress a little bit. The cockatrices, especially the chicks, are good for letting someone relax and just . . . . let it go.

    Through I’m pretty sure Kirito also plans to see what Stheno knows about recent and not so recent events because step one to throwing a spanner in the bad guy’s evil plan is gathering intelligence about what, exactly, said evil plan is . . . or at least your best guess from piercing toward various sources (one of which might even be the bad guys since some of them like to monologue . . . Kayaba is the monologuing type too).

    Liked by 2 people

      1. This now REQUIRES a future scene where Kayaba/Benny pulls the “You sly dog, you got me *monologuing*!” line from “The Incredibles” at some point. Probably to Kirito.
        …who probably responds with some variation on “I’m not left-handed,” and then the entire scene devolves into a pop-culture reference duel while the rest of the cast watches agape, facepalms, or sneaks past the duelists to commit Sneaky Plan-Wrecking Kayaba-Screwing Mischief unnoticed….

        Liked by 3 people

  3. …IO’s scales, now I have D&D ninja/warlock Asuna stuck in my head.

    Class Ability: Ghost Step
    Spend a Ki point to become invisible for one round. Later upgrades to being able to become ethereal as well.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My thought was something assassiny with full BaB and max speed.

      Though the Yuuki, an old banking family, as secret ninja is amusing me now. (Yeah, yeah, it works better with it being Asuna’s mother’s family. The funny bone wants what the funny bone wants.)

      Liked by 3 people

      1. The Worm/Valdemar multicross is telling me that its version of SAO can easily accommodate secret ninja Yuuki. It tells me that the changes involved actually improve the worldbuilding, and do not make the story significantly more difficult to execute.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. …this sent my mind straight to that one scene in “Jurassic Park,” for which I forgive the movie its myriad cinematic sins: the “we have a T-Rex” scene. Specifically, the moments just before that, when the Paleontologists get their first look ever at Real Live Dinosaurs, and turn into awestruck children. That, and the “vegi-sarurs” scene later. Those scenes where, despite all the Survival Horror elements of the movie, you still get to see that the Park really *is* a magnificent accomplishment, and for all the terrors there are also *wonders*.

    Asuna encounters a new “monster,” discovers it’s not a trap, quest item, or Xenomorphic horror in sheep’s clothing, but just a reasonably-friendly animal that responds well to treats and headpats, and her reaction is to *break down*? Yeah…she’s been stuck in Foxhole Mindset for *way* too long. She needed someone to see that there are wonders in Aincrad that *aren’t* part of Kayaba’s House-of-Horrors everything-is-a-trap setup.

    Of course, when Asuna encounters Yui, I wonder which one of them will melt(down?) first? Bets on how long it takes for Asuna to have a lapful of sleepy chibi-Medusa, anyone? 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

      1. That… just lead me to a potentially unpleasant speculation. Where is Yui *native* to? B/c in canon, she was “native” to SAO, and in MCO, Stheno certainly has no idea where she came from (but also has no apparent doubts that Yui is what she appears to be). But if MCO-Yui is “native” to SAO, rather than “real” Aincrad… that means that KayaBenny is dabbling in all-out creator-god stuff (or his creation is taking on a life (lives?) of its own). So if/when the Eldrich Machine get flipped on, and the human players get (I assume) pulled into real!Aincrad… what happens to Yui? Or the NPCs?
        Or… the psi-wasps? (shudder) Maybe Euryale really did manage to render them extinct, and KayaBenny is simply pulling his *own* “Jurassic Park Gambit” (did NOT see that coming when I wrote my previous post).
        Just how much fine print was there (not) in that agreement the Lords made with KayaBenny?

        Liked by 2 people

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