Monstrous Compendium Ch7 bit – Storytime

“Once upon a time, there was a bored, evil red dragon….”

Asuna listened. And swallowed. And finally hugged herself, chilled to the bone.

It’s SAO.

Kirito never mentioned any names. No Kayaba, no Klein; no players or level bosses by name. But the Flame-Haired Samurai and the Sky-Blue Rapier and the Merchant with an Axe….

And, of course, the Scruffy Swordsman. Who didn’t seem to think he was a hero at all.

“So the stolen heroes reached the stairway to the Shakudo Castle,” Kirito said quietly. “But there they had a choice to make. Ninety-nine mazes they’d traced. Ninety-nine monsters, each more horrid than the last. This would be the hundredth. And what do we know about a hundred, in magic? Especially with dragons.”

“It’s ten times ten,” Yui nodded. “The only thing stronger is thirteen times thirteen. That’s when older dragons pay attention to young dragons, because they might be old enough to have good ideas.”

“Ten times ten, and a spell is woven to an end,” Kirito agreed. “So the heroes had to choose. If no one defeated the red dragon, all of them would be trapped forever, withering away in magical chains. But if they ventured onto the hundredth floor, if they pitted their spell-wrought strength against the spell’s master… then for them, the curse would be complete. They would have saved the others.” Black eyes were shadowed. “But they could never go home.”

Asuna couldn’t move, even when Yui sniffled. She almost couldn’t breathe.

That can’t be true. This is a computer simulation. It’s a game.

But there were so many odd bits popping up in Argo’s Guides and the various player newsletters. Background information on eldritch machines, and the rules of curses, and anonymous stories of what it would have been like to be a youkai-turned-human on Opening Day. And on top of everything else, there was Argo’s standing reward for information on things that just didn’t fit.

What if it’s not a game?

“I’d like to think the faerie lords snared by the red dragon’s charm had more honor than that.” Stheno hugged Yui to her, stroking small snakes. “If their assistance was required to cast the curse, then they would still hold some power within it to break the chains. Even those heroes they would wish to keep with them, out of friendship… no lord should hold a hero as a prisoner.”

21 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Ch7 bit – Storytime

  1. “Should” being the important here.
    “Can” they? Yes.
    “W i l l” they? …bit of a toss up, sure some would refuse, like Stheno, due to possessing a functional moral compass, but there are undoubtedly others ‘not bound by such an inconvenience’.

    There’s also another question: how many of the Youkai Lords involved actually see the players as *p e o p l e*? Rather than convenient pawns as Kayaba likely does?

    Then there will be those ‘the end justifies the means’ and ‘sacrifices must be made’ preachers, oi…

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Though I imagine that even the lords who think every human (no matter their origin) deserves to die in a fire, have at least some reservations about all this.

        Mainly due to the fact that they have been suckered into a deal with a dragon. That is never a good thing.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Good on you, Kirito, for using children’s stories for what they’re meant to be: ways to impart truths that you can’t yet tell someone.

    And good on you, Stheno, for telling Kirito (and Asuna) to his face that you can be trusted. That you have lines you refuse to cross.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. >
      And good on you, Stheno, for telling Kirito (and Asuna) to his face that you can be trusted. That you have lines you refuse to cross.
      Along with warning them that her colleagues might have somewhat different lines then her.

      Take Euryale for instance. She is not the most enthused about this whole venture even before the ‘we’re making deals with a dragon’ aspect.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. >
        She may be warming up to the players when she hears about the “must kill Kayaba” reaction.
        Well he did drop a psi-wasp nest on them with the reason of ‘why not?’. At that point most beings start going “I might not really like you, and you might not really like me, but we both agree this guy needs to die.”

        Liked by 2 people

      2. AKA “We both hate him more than we hate each other, let’s do something about that.”

        “Afterward, we can go back to sniping at and/or trying to kill each as before . . .”
        “In other words, back to normal?”
        “Agreed. Now, let’s make a plan. Sneaky, sneak dragons don’t go down easy . . .”

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesomeness by Analysis, thy name is Kirito. Hee hee… Curbstomped Beniryuu, dead ahead.

    With Stheno, Euryale, Tetsutora, Zack, Cloud, Aeris, (and by proxy and wildassed guessing, Tifa, Barret, Yuffie, Nanaki and co.) gleefully lining up to help.
    …Popcorn, anybody?

    …Scary thought just now: is there a certain redheaded Hanyou in the real Aincrad? Kitsune, quiet guy, usually harmless, cross-shaped OHCRAP

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Likely . . . through the image does bring a smile to one’s face.

        *Dramatic Entrance!*
        “This one is sorry for their tardiness.”
        “What took you so long?”

        The bunnies think the only reason would be he was somewhere very, very far away from the main action, this place was very isolated so getting news could take time and/or he was very, very preoccupied with stopping another world-ending disaster and only just finished saving the world from that. With the help of few friends.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It would be nice (and no, I don’t think we are vicious for wanting as many people as possible to kick annoying and deadly dragon behind . . .)

      Especially since that one seldom comes alone after awhile. And the people he tends to drag into these sort of things also like sharpy, pointy things.

      Liked by 2 people

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