Monstrous Compendium Ch 10 Ficbit – Evil Will

“If the Flame chose one of us as a paladin, then it thinks we’re all worth defending.” Asuna’s eyes narrowed. “That demon may have done us a favor.”

“Oft evil will shall evil mar,” Kirito murmured. And if anyone asked, he’d fob them off with an excuse of obscure Aincrad lore. Beniryuu had stolen from all of Earth’s fantasy to bring new twists into SAO anyway. “If the Silver Flame’s paying attention to SAO now, if any hint of divine power is getting into the system… well, a lot of things could happen. It might be easier to fight undead now-”

“Or heal!” Tae’s wings rustled, pearly feathers half-spread in excitement. “You’re a ranger. The Wild is divine for you, just like it is for druids. You could heal yourself a little before because you’re a Moonsword; battle healing comes from planar energy, like wizard’s magic. Kayaba’s spell couldn’t block that and leave us any magic at all. But now? All the rangers should be able to cure anyone!”

Erk. He hadn’t even thought of that. “We should check spell lists later,” Kirito agreed. “But if divine power is reaching SAO, and one demon already got in-” He had to stop, and shiver. “We’re running out of time. Not for us. For Japan. Maybe the whole planet.”

“Whoa, whoa.” Klein waved his hands, slow down. “What happens in SAO doesn’t hit Earth… it doesn’t, right? I mean, Argo says we can’t even pull off another astral quest.”

And that made Kirito’s blood boil all over again. He’d wanted to see his family again; he’d hoped to at least give a few others the chance to pass messages to theirs-

But a half-hour after he’d scrambled to his feet in Stheno’s garden, a message had shown up in his inbox.

System update: All future quests are to be confined to Aincrad’s Prime Material Plane.

27 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Ch 10 Ficbit – Evil Will

  1. Suddenly I’m thinking that Kayaba’s “reasons” for locking down the players like this, had less to do with the potential threat to his plan(s), and more to do with the blow to his pride and ego that someone – anyone – actually managed to outwit him at all, however temporarily.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Really that’s more like a mad-lib.

        The Red Dragon does __________(asshole action) because someone did __________(action) which insulted his pride and ego.

        Repeat for the entirety of the Red Dragon’s existence.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Did Kirito not tell them about ALO and the upcoming convergence-thingy that would let people in ALO enter Eberron?

    And I’m guessing it would go both ways and let other things come from the real Aincrad/Eberron as well? Or is there something in the bits you’re saving for the actual chapter release that Kirito’s found?

    Liked by 2 people

      1. . . . I. . . Would’ve assumed that at minimum Klein if not all of Furinkazaan fell under ‘people he can trust’?

        Sorry, it’s not clear from your answer if that’s a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ that they were told about the planar convergence.

        I could see him unthinkingly not telling them because… Because he didn’t want to talk about it and presumed that other than Argo and his Aincrad allies there was nothing anyone else could do… But if it was only a matter of trust I’d’ve expected Kirito to tell them. Especially give Kirito told them about his Astral Quest to speak to his sister in the first place.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m… A little late confused by what this has to do with my comment? Or… Are you saying the only people he told about Alfheim Online and the Planar Convergence were people he was certain weren’t Beniryuu or working for him? And he hadn’t been certain of all of Furinkazaan yet? In which case now it’s coming up because ‘demon’ so he’s (partially) throwing caution to the wind?

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      3. Geh. It’s a distracted day, let me try to clarify… At this point in time they still think they’d have at least 2 months to hit the first possible deadline of the planar conjunction.

        A demon showing up means they can’t even count on that long, if they want to survive and get back to Earth.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Just cause Kayaba’s thwarting the players doesn’t mean that tracking down Earth from ‘wherever’ Aincrad is is impossible for Evil Outsiders. And the level of warding of the Earth prime material plane is mostly unknown to players.

    Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I notice that it doesn’t say anything about non-quests. Not that anyone is high enough level in the right classes to try Gate or anything like that on their own, and he’s probably patched that oversight too by now, but that’s not actually mentioned there.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Sending works cross-planar (tho with a small failure chance), and only needs you to be familiar with the target creature, tho it’s a lvl 4 cleric or 5 sorcerer/wizard spell so it’s likely to be difficult to acquire considering the changes in how stuff works here.

        Dream would allow one-way sending of information (nothing comes back), but also allows a much larger message than Sending and ensures the target remembers it all perfectly (better for passing detailed information over). It’s also likely to be difficult to acquire for now, tho it’s available to bards as well as sorcerers/wizards (all as a level 5 spell).

        Astral Projection and Gate are both essentially unavailable, being lvl 9 spells, with Plane Shift only slightly less unavailable at lvl 7 for sorcerers/wizards and lvl 5 for clerics, and Shadow Walk would be nearly perfect for Moonswords, tho it’s a lvl 6 spell for sorcerers/wizards and lvl 5 for bards.

        Find The Path may be a possible workaround, because of its wording, but that’s definitely getting into rules lawyer territory to attempt, and it’s a lvl 6 spell (tho it’s available on lots of spell lists). Still, “I’m not looking for something on another plane, I’m looking for a thing that’ll let me get to another plane” seems like an interesting use for it.

        Basically, it looks like lvl 5 sorcerer/wizard is the earliest stuff starts showing up that’d be useful for this, which means at least floor 45 (given the 5 floors = 1 level rule of thumb), and more likely something like floor 50-60. Dream seems to be the best for getting their story out, with Sending being necessary to get information back, and Shadow Walk being the most likely option for actually escaping. Of course, this is just looking at the srd, not looking through all the splatbooks.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. It’s important to note the language used and the context it’s used in. Specifically, this is a ‘patch note’. And patch notes are not quite as straightforward as you might think sometimes.
        In this case the phrase ‘are to be confined’ does not mean just that you yourself cannot leave the plane. It means that /nothing you use or do during the quest/ can leave the plane. Not information, allies, potions, pieces of paper, dreams etc. It’s a firm no and not an instruction – it’s a notice that that kind of thing isn’t going to be possible anymore;

        You can try, and it just won’t work – as in, In actual game patch notes this would normally be accompanied by reprogramming the game so that it is not actually possible to do it anymore, regardless of what you try.

        But Game Devs try to keep a friendly tone to their playerbase, even when they’re handing out doom (As heaven knows a good fraction of the playerbase will not be friendly with them regardless, no need to encourage that to spread.). So they phrase it as an ‘instruction’ if they remember to.

        At least Benniryuu is trying to stay in character a /little/ bit. (That doesn’t really help, does it.)

        Liked by 3 people

      3. Actually, if it said “patch note” I would argue that you’re wrong on your conclusion, and that the important phrase is “all future quests” (since “quest reward” was the workaround being patched). However, since it actually says “system update”, you’re probably right about it being “the entire system is now changed, so none of the standard ways of achieving this will be possible”.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. >> At least Benniryuu is trying to stay in character a /little/ bit. (That doesn’t really help, does it.)

        To be fair, I’d assumed the tone was less about staying in character than an extra level of twist-the-knife taunt, in this case (tho’ less from a place of smugness than a place of genuine anger).

        It maintains the semi-clinical tone of software updates, but is all about the Wyrm rubbing their faces in his absolute power over their world, options, and environment. Especially after someone had – even for just a moment – broken through that control. It’s as much about reestablishing power emotionally, crushing people’s wills, and damaging morale as it is about actually closing that loophole.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. “But if divine power is reaching SAO, and one demon already got in-” He had to stop, and shiver. “We’re running out of time. Not for us. For Japan. Maybe the whole planet.”

    I wonder how quickly Kikuoka (sp?) will grasp the problem? And perhaps more importantly, his superiors? As much advantage as Japan might derive from being right at the forefront of the Magical/Cosmological Revolution, there is much potential for being at Ground Zero of the Magical/Cosmological Catastrophe.

    The more people start using magic “earthside”, the more “visible” Earth no doubt gets. The greatest threat is bound to be those entities that specialize in subtle corruption. Considering that there are people all over the world who actively try to cast curses and call demons…

    And that made Kirito’s blood boil all over again. He’d wanted to see his family again; he’d hoped to at least give a few others the chance to pass messages to theirs-

    Hmm, what about things going the other way? I don’t know much about the spells available, but if there are spells to talk to someone remotely, or directly to their spirit… The Earthsiders have access to the physical bodies of the SAO Players, that would seem to be quite a bit of spiritual “leverage”.

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    1. Perhaps those that prove to have magical talent in using Eberron sourced rituals can learn to use Earth original rituals. Those might get around Beniryuu’s wards.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Mmmm… *Waves hand in a yes/no/maybe gesture*

        We as readers don’t actually know, but while Earth-side magic is weaker than Eberron magic all Dungeons & Dragons mechanics imply casting a spell on another plane works just the same as casting the spell on any other – aside from modifiers to effects, schools, and effective caster-levels. Point is, some magic is enhaced or suppressed on certain planes – you’re gonna have a hard time casting [Evil] keyword spells on a [Good] aligned plane, for example – but the underlying magic tends to work the same.

        Schools and styles of spells are probably different given the vastly different cultures – so we may see more Psionics on Earth than Arcanists, and the Schools of Magic may differ as might spell keywords – but the underlying mechanics of ‘this is magic, this is how spells interact’ are liable to be the same.

        I’m not talking about how casters prepare and/or cast spells, by the way – Earth-magic may not be Vancian, running off of a Spell Point system instead for example – but how those magics interact. So Spell Resistance probably still applies, (Opposed) Caster Level checks would work much the same, and Wards against spells with the keyword [Planar] probably work just as well.

        So the players who’ve escaped and gotten back to Earth may be able to learn Earth-native magic (…provided they can find willing teachers), but there’s really no evidence those spells have any better a chance of getting through to the still trapped players than any spells they picked up in Sword Art Online.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Definitely important to consider. Especially given that game worlds like Eberron…well, the degree of ‘warded against lower planar evil’ those are is sort of….

      …very very badly. Demons and such /usually/ can’t just show up. Unless there’s a special occasion. But if anybody puts out the welcome mat and puts enough magical energy up to look tasty, oh yes. They can show up. And they can summon. And the things they summon? May or may not be limited to the duration of the origional spellcaster’s spell. Depending on cosmology and possibly air pressure, local desecration index or the phase of the moon.

      Now it’s possible earth is better warded than that! …except the tens of thousands of comotose players and their spirits trapped in shadow magic horror game represent a /big/ hole in that ward. At the /minimum/ you’re looking at opportunities for an unfortunate player to get possessed in Aincrad…and wake up with a demon in him in the real world.

      Which would be subtle, horrible and not at all easy to stop; he doesn’t have a demon’s body at that point, but all of it’s spell like abilities? Oh yes. And a lot of those are all sorts of nasty. And you can’t tell him from anyone else except by how he acts..and since the demon has possesion of the poor soul, he knows how to act. (If he can or not is another story, demons aren’t generally big on self control. Devils, OTOH…)

      Bonus points: Possesed people can still learn to cast spells.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Fortunately the very same safe guards Tetsutora insisted on to prevent uncontrolled Lycanthropes… May stop possessed players – from Sword Art Online, at least – as acting as openings.

        Tetsutora – we’ve been told in comments – insisted on safety measures to prevent the curse part of lycanthopy from spreading, and in-story she referred to the part that goes after someone’s soul as being a fragment of an Akuma, which may mean a piece of a literal demon in this case.

        Beniryuu wanted to make Lycanthropes, but he also specifically wanted to avoid divine attention, both from Good and Evil Outsiders. So Beniryuu’s actually much more likely to have implemented those safeguards very broadly, so people possessed in Aincrad are less likely to have their Earth-side bodies wake up possessed… If their Real World bodies wake up at all.

        At any rate, at minimum he’s liable to be spreading those safeguards now if he hadn’t already, because he genuinely doesn’t want any more fiends getting in. Beniryuu knows that the ones most immediately damaging to Monstrous Compendium Online would be the rampantly destructive ones like the Bebilith, but long-term the subtle manipulator fiends who favour tricks like possession would be a lot more dangerous to the stability of Beniryuu’s plans. It’s smarter to not only ward them all out if he can, but also to make the game as uninteresting a target as possible, and I figure he would recognize this.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I figured the players probably don’t even know about most if any of the safeguards in place.

        The fact is that I think the characters are probably all terrified and considering worst case scenarios. But we as readers have enough information to know the possible consequences aren’t as bleak as the characters are afraid they are. So we readers can… Not afford to relax, but focus on more likely outcomes in our discussions of possible consequences.

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