Monstrous Compendium Ch8 bit – Berserker Aftermath

There’d been screaming. A lot of screaming.

Which would have worried him a lot more, Klein knew, if he hadn’t been in a few horribly tight spots with Kirito. The guy liked stealth. Heck, if they were outnumbered the way they’d been in the psiwasp nest, he was all in favor of sneaking up on a bunch of mobs and opening with a flurry of throwing pikes; or even cutting throats from behind, one by cautious one. Kirito wasn’t here to play fair. He was in this game to live.

But when the chips were down and it was do or die? Yeah. Kirito had a berserker streak.

Thank god he’s not a lycan. Kirito as a werewolf would be a bad, bad mess.

But the screaming had stopped. Meaning the fight was over. One way or another.

Alive, the quiet warmth of his fang told him, as Schmidt swore and yielded the duel. Kirito’s alive.

Alive, but not in one piece, if that dull throb in Klein’s jaw was any clue. Ow. “C’mon,” Klein got out, still feeling as though he ought to be breathing hard, whatever his avatar was doing. “Let’s go get him….”

Black on black, a lone figure trudged out of snowy woods.

He looks like hell.

Not so much physically; though his fur-trimmed coat looked like it’d been tossed to a litter of bakeneko kits with a grudge against leather. But that blank stare, the way Kirito was just wandering their general direction, as if he barely noticed there were people at all….

Whatever it was, it was bad.

Face empty, Kirito tossed him a blue crystal pendant.

<<Stone of Returning Soul. Unique. Revives player if used within 10 seconds of HP bar exhaustion.>>


A/N: Think about it. Beniryuu is unwilling to risk divine interference. You think he’s going to play around with souls Amaterasu and others are very, very cranky about, given they were killed before their time by something out of this world?

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47 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Ch8 bit – Berserker Aftermath

  1. He really should have been more worried about the people he drew into his trap. I mean even if Kirito wasn’t there you can bet that there would be /some/ people not only capable of putting the pieces of the puzzle together, but also being driven enough to carve him up in order to express their sheer /loathing/ of his very existence.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. >
    Think about it. Beniryuu is unwilling to risk divine interference. You think he’s going to play around with souls Amaterasu and others are very, very cranky about, given they were killed before their time by something out of this world?
    >
    Huh. That would imply that the Japanese Kami actually have enough power/influence to make Beniryuu think twice about the matter.

    So presumably they’ve been taking a vacation (SAO-Earth has gotten to the point where the gods feel that humanity can stand on their own without the gods holding their hands) only now they’re looking around and going “Hey, who swiped a few thousand of our people?”

    Liked by 4 people

      1. >
        *EG* That’s a problem with doors. They open both ways….
        >
        Better hope it doesn’t open too wide. Because if various elements of the outer planes that Eberron has to deal with gain access to SAO-Earth, things could get nasty.

        The Magic Comes Back is not always a good thing. Particularly when it’s in an uncontrolled fashion and/or entities hostile to humanity come with it (and Earth has no idea they exist/how to deal with them).

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Actually the “Magic Comes Back” trope is typically something that happens during/as part of an apocalyptic scenario. Meaning that it is, by definition, a bad thing. And even when it isn’t explicitly it’s typically implicitly that as the hero/protagonist’s journey and adventure is typically caused by the magic coming back and you get to see all sorts of badness throughout the lands as he or she goes through their adventure and the adventure ends with several unresolved plot elements to leave it open for a sequel.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Sure it’s never good, but the scale of the upheaval can vary.

        It could the background magic levels rising so that you have the innate magic-users showing up again (it was noted that Kazuto apparently always had the talent for magic, it just never woke up before the game).

        A right mess, but not civilization ending.

        However if manifest zones started forming and the paraelementals appeared, we’re talking massive amounts of damage.

        And heaven help the world if even a couple of rabid lycanthropes ended getting ‘ported into a major city.

        Liked by 3 people

      4. >
        There are some safety measures. Hopefully enough….
        >
        There are NEVER enough safety measures when dealing with this kind of thing.

        The situation that Beniryuu has created is the sort of thing that makes the Dread Lord Murphy rub his hands together and cackle in glee like a B movie villain.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I would think the easiest way to prevent souls from tattling on Beniryuu would be to trap all souls in the machine so they can’t run into an angry god.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. it strikes me that if I was making the hardware to connect to a magical death game simulator i would be adding a connection so i could remotely use spells on the real bodies of the players in the game.

        so if I needed blood to make clone bodies i could get it with a spell.

        or if i wanted to teleport them to another world… oh, btw. are we sure that the SAO players are still in hospitals?

        Liked by 3 people

    1. I understand that there are D&D abilities that can kill with no afterlife or possibility for resurrection. From a security perspective…

      What security cost to get access to such abilities?

      Like

      1. Generally fairly high; Even on an individual basis; and even for Kayaba. And it’s not perfect. An equally high-level counter can reconstruct the souls in question and even resurrect them, though it may require the person pulling the souls back to be equal or even higher level than the effect that originally destroyed said soul.

        What this ends up meaning is most such effects – that would be theoretically accessible to Kayaba – would list specific counters, usually Wish or Miracle, sometimes alongside True Ressurrection.

        In high level campaigns you’ll occasionally see epic artifacts sometimes tied to major dieties that can permanently destroy souls, but even then it’s more likely to be imprisoned forever in eternal torment and forever beyond saving than actually destroyed.

        The easiest (and most easily countered) is actually a Soul Trap effect where the individual can’t be resurrected as long as their soul is imprisoned in an appropriate container (usually a gemstone of some sort… which now gives me all kind of worries and questions about just what youkai bloodstones are and how they’re made..).

        If I were Kayaba and was worried about this I’d go Soul Trap backed by something where the individual also has to overcome my caster level to counter the effect.

        Of course, all of this assumes that’s the tack Beniryuu’s taking. Impression I had was less that he thought he could hide MCO from the various gods, than that he was trying not to knowingly tread on divine toes anymore than he had to and hoping that the gods in turn would keep to their usual hands-off policies and let the mortals figure it out for themselves.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. See, what I’m now wondering about is this: Eberron has some of the most hands-off gods of any DnD setting. Looking at our world’s history it’s actually reasonable to assume our gods are also fairly hands-off by DnD standards.

    But in Eberron it’s implied to be because the gods are busy with higher realm god-tier stuff and don’t really have time to pay attention to individual mortals. Even dragons.

    Our world though… Most religions I know of, if you ask why divinities aren’t more hands-on (anymore) then you’re told that Divinity is active in daily life, it just works in very subtle ways. This implies our gods are actually​ more active than Eberron’s.

    So what happens when the two sets of divinities both gain access to what it looks like is a two-way door.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. From a Race of Omnicidal Space Whale-worms that erased every version of a world that they could access.It says something when the closest human mentality is a Serial killer with a MINIMUM 5 digits of direct fatality. Indirect is minimum 10 cities/trillions.(Party killed Iron Man with the kindness/charisma of Clark Kent)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Talked with a few friends, and we came to the conclusion that the Kami were aware and looking at SAO inside of a month.

    Active about it is debatable, but there would be prayers going up from almost every shrine and temple in Japan.

    This would be national and even international news, under the headlines of a disaster or terror attack.

    The Kami might not be poking SAO in any way visible, but if they have a hold on that Earth, it has their attention.

    One does not ignore thousands of followers out of hand like that.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. >
        and, possibly, why some idiot hacker hasn’t crashed the whole system!
        >
        They probably called in a favor or two from Anansi to help. That guy’s all about trickery, misdirection and webs. Even ones that spread across the entire world.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. >>And/ or Grandmother Spider. 😉

        Keep this up and I’m going to start getting the impression that MCO Earth-deities function like the various supernatural beings in American Gods (specifically the books, I haven’t watched the TV series).

        Further, since it’s been brought up, I don’t even want to think about the havoc someone could wreak by hacking an Eldritch Machine. The thing’s coding language is probably based in Draconic, Celestial, or Abyssal – though the language of the Giants of Xen’drik is also possible – with actual magic running through it. God, any hackers getting into that… accidentally killing players is probably the least they would end up doing.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. American Gods is a fairly fun novel – and very recently a live action TV series – by Neil Gaiman. I don’t remember when exactly the book came out, but it wasn’t new when I read it back in highschool which was about a decade ago, give or take.

        Basically takes the idea of ‘Gods Need Prayer Badly’ applies it to our world, and then asks: so what does that mean when the gods stop being worshipped? Or when you have a place where nearly every god has been worshipped by one group or another at one time or another – y’know, like the cultural melting pot that is the US. Or, what does that mean when people start treating various aspects of modern life with idolatry and worship?

        There’s actually a faction of ‘Modern Gods’ who receive more prayer – even if it isn’t formalized ‘prayer’ – than many old or ancient gods. Only two or three such ‘Gods’ are really reoccurring characters through the book, but there’s a throwaway line about the now faded God of Railroads who had so much power during the Industrial Revolution. In another scene there are several Modern Gods described, including the God of Cars who’s notable for being one of the few modern gods to have regularly fed on human sacrifice, specifically the bloody sacrifices of everyone that’s died in car accidents.

        On the other side you have the main character being introduced to and guided through this new part of the world by a prayer-less Odin who’s basically a travelling con artist, and Anansi the Spider is another reoccurring character.

        Point is, the great Kami of Japan calling on outside help from other gods of other religions… it just makes me think of the American Gods Aesthetic™.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. … Not a fan? If you aren’t I can’t say I blame you. But still, if you’ve read him you probably have a half-decent idea of the general feel of the novel.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. I either disappointed or hate most Gaiman books. (By disappointed, it’s rather like Stephen King. Love where he’s going for 3/4 of the book and loathe the ending.) American Gods is the best book of his that I’ve read and I wasn’t disappointed with how it ended.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Hackers coming in over the internet can only hack the Eldritch Machine if Kayaba left interfaces exposed for them to work through.

        I’m not seeing why he had to.

        Yeah, the current SAO is running at least partly on a machine that probably owes something to Earth engineering. That doesn’t mean that MCO Kayaba can’t have done essentially the same thing that was done in WtAS.

        1. SAO Beta runs on Earth equipment, as known to the authorities. 2. Production SAO uses gimmicked headsets that connect magically to the real SAO server. (Which could be on the far side of the moon. I think with enough batteries and solar panels, it’d be able to last long enough.) 3. The real server connects magically to the Eldritch Machine on Eberron, but over a carefully specified interface that limits the ability to arbitrarily run code on the Eldritch machine merely from having compromised the SAO server.

        My understanding is that in software engineering, you want to break a complex project into modules that do simple testable things, and which communicate with each other over a defined, measurable interface. Yeah, this way Kayaba has a lot of engineering work duplicated doing both a purely mundane ‘chimp model’ for show and for the beta and an extremely different magical model for production. But does it make sense for Kayaba to do everything on the Eldritch Machine, given that he has already got certain portions working on other equipment?

        Counterargument is that about half the userbase is in Eberron interfacing via an apparently different set of headsets, so if he has a hidden server somewhere on Earth, he has something in addition to the Eldritch Machine somewhere secure on Eberron.

        I dunno. Maybe trying to fit this to sensible engineering practices is outside of genre?

        Liked by 2 people

    1. >>One does not ignore thousands of followers out of hand like that.

      Heh. The funny thing is I’d had a similar thought but came to the opposite conclusion. That that was part of how Kayaba-ryuu was hoping to get away with it. 20 thousand is… a lot of people, but how many is it actually from a Modern Divine perspective?

      A quick Google search puts the population of Japan at just over 120 million. 20 thousand is a large number, but is it really outside what could be expected of a disaster event? Especially when the individuals aren’t dead right away, but still struggling for their lives. I had figured that might buy Kayaba some time.

      I pretty clearly wasn’t fully following that train of thought. I forgot the ‘6 Degrees of Separation’ rule. You’re probably right, with all the prayers from family, friends, and even compassionate souls who don’t personally know someone who knows someone… Yeah, the kami probably knew before the first month was up.

      Because maaaybe one can lose track of a few thousand individuals. Several million voices is something else however.

      The question now becomes what the deities of Earth think is more important: the now open doorway, or the souls trapped within it?

      Liked by 3 people

      1. It’s maybe ten thousand per each world’s set of entities. The twenty thousand is probably split fifty-fifty for each world. Eberron’s entities may start out much more aware of Eberron natives, and vice versa.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Um… Looks like CrossOverCreativeChaos beat me to it (and much like Aku, her word is law) but I would have been (and am, actually) surprised that there are more than a thousand Youkai of Aincrad mixed amongst the players.

        I figure, even beyond that this was set up for recruitment and you want as much ‘New Blood’ as you can get in such scenarios, that it’s bad to have too many ringers in because that’s how they get caught. It’s a lot easier for the spies – because technically? The Aincrad-native players are spies – to cover up the inevitable mistakes they will make due to different cultures and not originally having been human when there are plain less of them and the mistakes are spread out over lots of different humans.

        Plus, if players know ’20 Thousand copies of MCO’ and then distribution failed that number by 50% but there were still the 20 thousand players present on opening day? Players would’ve been suspicious even before the Ilfang was cleared.

        Liked by 2 people

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