Monstrous Compendium Ch8 bit – Breakfast

The kitchen was quiet, outside of the teapot steaming on a cooler corner of the woodstove, and a few muttered swears from a Black Swordsman trying to get wild boar bacon to cook without charring.

“You still haven’t leveled your Cooking.” Smirking, Asuna moved in to rescue crispy bits, slice in more bacon, and deftly stir batter a few more times so Kirito’s attempt at journey-cakes would come out a little less like chewy bricks.

“It’s easier to cook for one person on the trail.” Kirito materialized a half-dozen green-speckled eggs, and cracked them into another pan.

That was actually true. Cooking for yourself had a lower difficulty than trying to make a guild-sized batch of anything. Asuna had found that out the hard way trying to make mochi.

She eyed the fragments of shell before they lost durability and vanished. They looked oddly familiar. “Were those cockatrice eggs?”

That surprised a chuckle out of him. “Vincent says they’re one of the best things to happen to Aincrad,” Kirito admitted. “Raising chickens is a disaster. Too many things will eat them.” He stirred the cooking eggs, which seemed to be turning a proper yellow even if they acted heavier than scrambled eggs in the Otherworld. “Youkai can let cockatrices roam their farms, as long as they’ve got a fenced run to come back to every night. They can take care of themselves.”

Like a certain Black Swordsman. The kitchen was mostly lit by a glowstone lantern he’d set in place, but there were enough hints of dawn creeping through the window to pick out feathery glints in his hair. And shadows under his eyes. “Bad dreams?” Asuna said softly.

Black eyes dodged her gaze. “Everyone has them.”

His hand hadn’t quite strayed toward the feathers. But Tournesol had known another Moonsword ranger, and Asuna saw echoes of that same tight self-control cloaked in black. He won’t talk about it. Not unless I ask first. “Are you sorry you got those grafts?”

“…I don’t know.”

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24 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Ch8 bit – Breakfast

  1. Behold – another block of rambling text!

    I get the feeling that Kirito doesn’t know what to think or feel about a lot of what has happened.

    Like on the one hand, Aincrad is a beautiful world filled with interesting stuff that in almost any other circumstance he would be thrilled to spend all of his time in it. But the circumstance is that he has been snared in a trap that could kill him, has killed people – some of which he cared about. There is no real way to tap out if you are overwhelmed – because a choice between killing yourself and total apathy that will kill you eventually at the hands of something is not a choice.

    There is also the factor that he doesn’t have his Otherworld family there and he’s realized just how much he wants and needs them – very much a situation of not appreciating something until you didn’t have it any more. But he also forming connections with people in Aincrad – people it would be just as painful in some ways to never see again.

    Also I think he empathizes with the people like Asuna who in many ways might be better off in Aincrad – who in some ways would rather not leave. But know that staying trapped in the game is not a option.

    Stuff about him that keeps changing – the magic, the grafts, etc . . . on the one hand, anything that helps him survive he likes. Because he is very determined to see his family again and he won’t if he gets killed. On the other hand, you can only take so many changes . . . and he knows that the more he changes, the harder returning to life on Earth as plain old no magic no swords Kazuto Kirigaya is going to be (while the author has hinted that things are happening on Earth, well Kirito doesn’t know that).

    It also wouldn’t surprise me if part of him feels a little guilty every time he thinks something was kinda of cool or awesome. Like This is a death trap that is doing its best to kill me and everyone else, I shouldn’t be enjoying any of it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I really wish SAO had spent more time on the mental aspect of transitioning between death-game and everyday life. Instead we get half a minute of awkward over attempting to sheath the sword on his back and a whole sub-plot of ‘technically not incest so it doesn’t count unless you want it to.’ Very disappointing.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Shoving it all under the rug like that would be a plausible reaction from the rest of society. Not a good reaction, but plausible. I did like it coming up in the GGO arc – Kirito has very plausible reactions to bad flashback triggers, and there’s a lot of overall oof.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Yeah, it would be nice if series that deal with this kind of trauma actually dealt with it . . .

        It doesn’t surprise me that reaction in-universe was to ignore it as much as possible. Sticking one’s head in the sand is a time honored tradition of society. People always willing to assume that because someone looks fine and sounds fine and says that they are fine that everything is in fact fine.

        However, I think we can all name at least one person IRL and in fiction who will say that they were fine if they were bleeding to death.

        Part of that tendency to ignore trauma might be society’s bad habit of treating people with said trauma as if they are whinging if they are struggling with it. There is more than few with the attitude of aren’t you over that by now?

        No, they are not “over it.” I don’t know how someone is supposed to just “get over” the fact there is a person-shaped hole in their life or that someone very nearly killed them or they had to take another person’s life. It was’t a paper cut or something minor like that. Learn to cope with it, learn to accept that yes, this happened and it was awful, that needs to happen. But telling someone to get over something major like those things seems like you want them to forget it ever happen or pretend that it didn’t or that the people who died never existed. I’ve heard of some people giving others crap because their fresh pain and grief was ‘bringing down the mood’ or making them uncomfortable.

        Yes, I can understand getting compassion fatigue – it happens to the best. And you as the support person are allowed to tap out and have a break when you need it. Can’t help someone if you don’t take care of you. Or just not knowing how to help the other person and messing up when you try – at least you tried to help.

        But there is a difference between getting compassion fatigue, not knowing what to do, and someone being a jerk because the grieving, traumatized person is being inconvenient. And sometimes, people encounter a lot of jerks. Which does not help them learn to cope with their trauma.

        Oh look at that, another wall of text . . .

        Liked by 2 people

      1. How much does Kirito realize his internal definition of ‘family’ is… sliding, maybe? Definitely expanding, anyways
        Because whether he realizes it or not Klein, Fuurinkazan, Asuna, and others are working their ways in there. Part of what made the loss of Black Cats so painful for Kirito was that they were doing the same for him, no matter whatever their guild leader might’ve said afterwords when he was also in the pits of despair.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Not too surprising. People are social animals. Meanwhile Kirito (and I get the impression sometimes even SAO’s own writer) seems to buy a little too much in to the myth of the ‘Lone Hero’ to understand that it doesn’t work. Lone Heroes are never really happy and usually will eventually hit a wall and be unable to keep going on their own, because people need people.

        I think in hindsight a lot of the last third of SAO’s Aincrad-arc was Kirito figuring that out. Though he pretty clearly hasn’t come to terms with it being a mutual need. Nor has he come to terms with other people – or at least people he cares about – not only being just as willing, but also having just as much right as him to put their necks on the line for a cause or for others. Kirito still doesn’t seem to have figured that out by the end of GGO-arc.

        I think in GGO he figured out it was okay to forgive himself for what he did to survive in SAO. We see his unresolved survivors guilt – something he shared with Sinon – at much of the root of his characterization for that arc. But in both Fairy Dance and Gun Gale we also see him make the same mistake of thinking he’s got to handle everything on his own.

        Kirito’s Lone Hero syndrome is actually one of the reoccurring problems I have with the series, especially since he’s such a Magnetic Hero himself. Not that it doesn’t make sense as an issue for Kirito, but it would be nice to see one of those arcs end with a ‘and you didn’t tell us about this why?’ that felt like it actually got through his stubborn skull.

        Sorry, at this point I’m just ranting. Fortunately most of the AUs you written for SAO seem pretty damn antithetical to Kirito having much in the way of opportunities to go off and Lone Hero like an idjit. (He lives much too tightly with the rest of the cast to get away with solo adventures of GGO’s scale in the Flying Thantas; Stargate has their own problems with individuals and teams getting isolated but the the Gate Team system and military model are all about biting Lone Hero tendencies in the ass; and hopefully adding Stheno’s divination and Vincent’s tracking abilities to the mix means he’s got authority figures willing to adult at him in ways Klein and Agil can’t as personal friends when he tries that shit in the future of MCO.)

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Awww, cute domestic fluff! Loved it. 🙂 Cockatrice eggs…how did they even get those? Were the cockatrices gone from the nest or something?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s… an excellent question that breeds even more.

      Kirito’s got that magic ring of his, and Argo, Stheno, and Yui are all obviously immune as Medusae; But Vincent’s line implies they’re farmed by lots of Youkai, many of whom probably aren’t naturally immune to Petrification – unless Cockatrices are only farmed by Medusa and Gargoyles and other similarly already-made-of-stone/natural-DR Youkai – so how do they do it? Now I’m wondering if that ‘immune to Petrification’ effect on Kirito’s ring isn’t commonly found on farming/animal handling equipment in Aincrad? Maybe every Cockatrice Farmer owns multiple pairs of thick workgloves that grant Immunity to Petrification, with scrolls of Stone to Flesh kept in with emergency medical supplies just in case, the same way real-world farmers want thick gloves for some animal handling and every farm should have a first aid kit. I dunno, it feels like it fits the Eberron Aesthetic™.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. What is the other product of raising poultry? Folks who grow up on a diet of cockatrice nuggets may develop a fairly strong resistance at an early enough age.

        Stheno may have had Kayaba artificially restrict access to petrification resistance for reasons of safety.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Okay, after David’s comment down below I feel like I should amend the above to ‘Kirito’s got that magic ring of his and Ex: Animal Empathy’… Bu~uut I’m not prepared to assume that every Farmer in Aincrad has a level or two (or whatever it actually is) of Ranger (or Druid). That’d be ridiculous.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. drop item i’m guessing. The cockatrices have a Kirito to shield them from anyone they can’t take.Or they can sense the dud eggs and give them to the nest protector.

    Liked by 3 people

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