Hey there @incorrectkhrquotes! Remember that headcanon I shared a while back? The one that evolved? Well it evolved again. This time into a one-shot. I do hope you enjoy.
It should be noted that Mukuro was never taught to read when he was young.
(“Subject M67-11215 has accepted the serum. Begin the next experiment”)
(No. Please. Make it stop make it stop make it stop AAAAAAAHHHHH)
He had tried to teach himself at times. On the days that he wasn’t being cut open and observed, the days when he wasn’t lying on his bed, either in agony from the day’s experiences or his mind afloat from drugs, he would look at the papers that hung by his holding cell. Those papers held his subject number, the experiments that he was apart of, and various other information that pertained to him. He liked to stare at them and wonder what they said, the meaning of the words upon those pages. He didn’t know what was written there, the letters were nothing more than lines on a page to him.
But he wondered.
The days went past and the experiments got worse. He died. Mukuro died and lived and experienced lives that weren’t his own.
(“Who am I?” he whispered to himself, tremors shaking a body that felt unfamiliar. It was constricting and freeing and too large and too small all at once and he couldn’t tell what was real anymore.)
He remembered flying through the sky with wind in his feathers. He remembered fire and pained howls, holding a weapon in their hands. He remembered the days they had spent lounging in the shadows of alleys, messing with the humans who wandered by. He remembered growing up with chains around her feet, long limp hair shadowing her face and the misery of being a slave.
He remembered his past lives.
(“No no no NO!” Maria reached out for her children with desperation, “NOT THEM! ANYONE BUT THEM! TAKE ME INSTEAD!”
“SHUT UP, WOMAN!” A man, the one who claimed to her owner, hit her and she fell to the ground. She glared up at him, hate poisoning her mind and boiling just under her skin. She hissed at him and rushed again, determination running alongside the lifeblood flowing through her veins.
The last thing she saw was the glinting metal of a knife.)
And then he broke free. Mukuro called upon the abilities he had known in his previous lives, the ones that had been carved into his eye by the scientists after they had forced him to remember. He called upon his illusions, upon the magic he had onced relished in as a spirit, and he used it with all the viciousness of a mother scorned. He slaughtered them and painted the walls crimson with their blood, laughter escaping his lips as he did so.
(Should I be worried? Mukuro wondered to ….himself? Herself? Theirself? Did it even matter?)
There were two boys who wandered in on the gory scene Mukuro created. They were so small, so fragile looking. How was it that they had lasted as long as they had under the tender care of the Estraneo?
(“Kufufu. Are you afraid?” They shook their heads. That pleased him so he smiled, lips spreading outwards and mimicking the expression of a darker faerie, “Then join me. I’m leaving this place.”)
It was only after they had left the Estraneo in ruins and found another Italian Famagilia that Mukuro started to learn how to read. It had been Lancia that noticed Mukuro staring at the books on the shelf, tracing the golden lettering on their spines. Lancia had told Mukuro that if he wanted to he could read whatever he wished. Mukuro had then confessed that he didn’t know how.
In none of his lives had such a skill ever been available to him.
So Lanica had told the Don and the Don had gotten them a teacher. Mukuro learned from them and he found it fascinating. Those pretty symbols were finally making sense.
(It made Mukuro almost reluctant to carry out his plans of destroying the mafia, the rotten world that had caused him to suffer so. He had only managed to learn the basics of the craft of reading during his time spent there, but he refused to put his revenge on hold.)
The Vindice had captured them after that. So easily as well. And it was as they fought, struggled to stay free (“One day..” Maria murmured as she tugged on the chains around her feet, “One day I’ll be free.”) that he could feel the sense of wrongness that surrounded the bandaged figures of the Mafia Enforcers.
Later, when he was locked in a cell and left alone once more, he had laughed. The Vindice were humans once, but they clearly weren’t anymore. Their souls were rotting, slowly decaying and turning into something else. It sent the blood he inherited from their life as a spirit boiling at the thought of such a thing being possible in a place not the Realm of the Other.
It took several years, but eventually Mukuro escaped. He danced away from the undead avengers, taking with him a group he had begun to call his own. It sent the part of his soul that lived for fun and games giggling and laughing and cackling at having bested the Vindice.
(No one has ever broken out? There wasn’t a part of Mukuro that didn’t take that as a challenge.)
Mukuro’s plans steadily progressed. His group arrived in Japan, the place rumored to be home to the Vongola Decimo, and he started hunting them down. He used every trick he had and finally, finally he sat before the man (boy. He’s so young, his eyes so wide. He doesn’t know anything, does he? He’s so white and unstained. The part of them that was Maria wanted to reach out and hold him, to tell him everything would be okay. The rest of him pushed her back, locking her behind a mental cage as the thing that was Mukuro pushed forward and forward and forward) who would inherit the seat of Don of Vongola.
He lost. Against all expectations, he lost. But he found he didn’t mind all too much even after the chains of the Vindice locked around his neck and he was dragged away.
(Maria looked wistful after they had been put back into their cell, wondering on what had happened to the boy. Shining Shadow had laughed, still giddy and in awe of the skylark they had fought who spoke of chaos and order in the same breath. The rest of him- the angel, the demon, the owl, the ghost- all sat back and waited)
They broke out again- or rather Ken and Chikusa had. Mukuro had been dragged back to their prison, resigned to being tied down so what was his could be free. They put him in a prison of water- made his body go to sleep. But that was foolish of them, they who didn’t know what he could do, for it opened the paths that lead to the forever. Putting him to sleep did nothing but allow him to walk the road Between again.
He let go. Mukuro closed his eyes and withdrew into his soul, pulling on the parts of him that wasn’t human. He dragged that power out and pulled something else with it. That other power, it burned him, a beautiful indigo flame not unlike what the young Tsunayoshi had used.
(The power of humans, he had breathed, childish curiosity blooming as he played with the fire within his mind. It felt freeing and unreal, solid and not. It was deceiving and truthful and wonderful and hateful all at once, fighting furiously and snarling all the while being docile and submitting to his every whim. Mukuro loved it.)
He let his soul wander away from his physical form, walking along the road Between as all spirits could. He revisited some of the stranger places he knew, unseen by all eyes he passed. He kept going and wandering, checking in on Ken and Chikusa on occasion. It was on one of these trips, when he was walking from the realm of the Other into the realm of the Physical, that he found her.
(Such a sad girl… they mused as they stared at her dying form. Her soul was so pretty, too. So new and unstained by any other cycles. They heard her thoughts and they spoke out, more on a whim than anything else.
“An ending… Is merely the beginning of another cycle.”
What they didn’t expect was that she would speak back.
They welcomed her, bound her to him. To Mukuro. They changed her name to do so, using the power that there lay in such a thing to give her new life, to coax breath back into her lungs and her heart to keep beating despite some of her organs not being there.
Chrome Dokuro was who she became.
(No one could say that he wasn’t a bit possessive. And Chrome was his, bound to him by a name that was created from his own.)
Chrome was quiet. She was shy and uncertain but she had so much potential. There was power that lay in her soul and Mukuro was determined to make it bloom. And in turn, she surprised him again.
(“You don’t know how to read Japanese?” Chrome asked, eyes curious as they rested together in the safety of Chrome’s mind, “I can teach you if you’d like.”)
All of a sudden the world of words was open to him again. Chrome was happy to teach him, Ken, and Chikusa how to read. She loved books herself, a fact she had confessed to Mukuro time and time again. So she taught them. Chrome taught them to read, insisting upon doing so even after Ken complained that it was boring and questioned her ability as a teacher.
She continued to teach him as time slowly passed them by. She taught him during the time the Varia spent in Namimori. She taught them until the day she disappeared into the future. (“Chrome? Chrome? Where are you? No… Don’t leave… Chrome….”) She started to teach them again the moment she came back.
It was as she was teaching him the art of writing that Mukuro found something he loved to do. He was skeptical of the worth of it in the beginning, of putting one’s thoughts on paper. Chrome insisted that he try it and Mukuro hadn’t regretted it once.
(“You should start a diary,” Chrome murmured one day when Mukuro’s spirit rested alongside Chrome’s and they were so closely intertwined that it was difficult to tell one from the other, “Just to have a place to put all the things you write.”
“All the things I write?” Mukuro murmured with Chrome’s voice, their hand running across the covers of the notebooks that were out on display in the store they stood in, “That… would be nice…”)
Time continued to pass onwards and the dying days did nothing to stop his interest. Mukuro filled up the notebook with poetry and ideas. He filled it with descriptions of his dreams and his past. When that first notebook was full, they bought another and soon enough it was filled up too.
Mukuro was eventually released from the Vindice. He is freed from his watery cage and allowed to roam wherever he wished. The arcobaleno battles came to pass and the reason for the Mafia Enforcer’s twisted souls comes to light. Mukuro gained an apprentice to teach Illusions too, one who annoyed him to no end.
He kept writing through it all, fondly creating poetry and short stories. He kept most of it to himself, never showing it to anyone.
(Chrome was the exception. Because Chrome was a part of Mukuro and Mukuro was a part of Chrome, two souls bound by a name)
“These are really good,” Chrome told him one day after all the battles were done and everything had settled down. Tsunayoshi and the others were slowly making their way through highschool now, their middle school days long gone. She held one of his notebooks in her hands and smiled softly at the poems written inside.
(It begins with a tree
It is a world tree, a god tree
One that stretched higher than anything else
Devouring the world with its roots)
“You think so?” Mukuro asks her, resting his head on the palm of his hand and absently writing down a few more ideas into a new notebook.
(Demons are crawling under her eyes.
“I thought I lost you.”
They stain her skin like tattoos.
“I do,” Chrome closed the book and handed it back to Mukuro, “You should try publishing something. I think it would turn out really well.”
“You do?” Mukuro took the book from her hands and looked at the worn cover of it. He thought about it for a moment, turning various ideas around in his head, before smiling to himself, “Maybe I will.”
(A novel called Graveyard Songs was published less than a year later. The author’s name was Maria)
Mukuro continued to publish various things he created after that first story turned out to be a success. He published love stories, horror stories, mystery novels, poetry collections, and short stories. He created fantastical tales of mythical beings, often drawing inspiration from the many lives he lived.
No one ever found out that Mukuro was the author called Maria, even after Tsunayoshi officially took the seat of Decimo and the whole lot of them moved to Italy. Chrome was the only person who knew Mukuro’s secret, and Mukuro was perfectly okay with keeping it that way.
(He suspected that Tsunayoshi knew, if only because of his knowing smile and his bright orange eyes. But Tsunayoshi never said anything about it, even if he owned every book that Mukuro had ever published)
if youre trying to get over your fear of bugs mantids may be a good place to start. like theyre pretty adorable and they have features that are naturally appealing to humans (big eyes, having (the illusion of) pupils, can turn their head unlike most bugs, very cute grooming behavior, etc) so theyre a good way to desensitize yourself to the creepier aspects of other bugs.
but like on another hand they eat their prey alive in horrifying ways and are known for sexual cannibalism, so their appeal is. hit and miss
So these are some custom Link Monsters i made up to push the potential of the new mechanics and I’m actually pretty interested to see where the official game goes with it. (Card frames not made by me, card art not by me either. Most of them are anime card arts).
Here’s a short description of each card:
Blue Eyes Ultimate Link Dragon: All the monsters linked to it get double piercing damage. 4500 ATK.
Dire Dial Spider: Every time a monster is summoned, its Link Marker shifts clockwise. At the end of each players turn, the turn player has to tribute a monster or else they lose the spider. I really like this one because it encourages both players to think tactically on how many monsters they summon and where they summon it. 100 ATK.
Illusion Reflector: Once per turn, if Reflector has 2 monsters linked to it from both sides of the field, once per turn, you can switch control of the two monsters until the turn’s end. 1500 ATK.
Pendulum Link Statue - Purple Crystal: While in the Pendulum Zone, you can summon an Extra Deck monster to the Main Monster zone linked to Crystal. And that linked monster is unaffected by Traps. While in the monster zone, you can target another Link monster for it to gain an additional marker until the end phase. 0 ATK.
So yeah this is a very complicated mechanic but once you figure it out, this can be pretty fun!
Existence is random. Has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long. No meaning save what we choose to impose. This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. It’s us. Only us. Streets stank of fire. The void breathed hard on my heart, turning its illusions to ice, shattering them. Was reborn then, free to scrawl own design on this morally blank world.
Relinquished ———————————————— You can Ritual Summon this card with “Black Illusion Ritual”. Once per turn: You can target 1 monster your opponent controls; equip that target to this card. (You can only equip 1 monster at a time to this card with this effect.) This card’s ATK and DEF become equal to that equipped monster’s. If this card would be destroyed by battle, destroy that equipped monster instead. While equipped with that monster, any battle damage you take from battles involving this card inflicts equal effect damage to your opponent. ———————————————— Can Be Found In: Dark Beginning 1 (DB1-EN015), Spell Ruler (SRL-EN029), Master Collection Volume 1 (MC1-EN003), Legendary Collection 3 Mega-Pack (LCYW-EN113), Millenium Pack (MIL1-EN008), Starter Deck: Pegasus (SDP-001), Dark Legends (DLG1-EN055), Retro Pack (RP01-EN054)
One of the biggest flaws arround Ritual Monsters is how resource dependant are compared to other types of monsters. Even compared against the most expensive monsters from the Extra deck, Rituals are at a big disadvantage that take them quite a while to compensate their flaws. While there was various Ritual Decks that gained reputation on the competitive scene, it wasn’t until recently that obtained not only tools to cheapen their arrival, but also powerful effects that makes setups arround them worth it.
“Relinquished” is one of the oldest and most popular Ritual Monsters out there, and still remains a menace to work along with. This is in part due its Level 1, being the cheapest Ritual Monster to summon with low to no effort. Despite its low Level “Relinquished” carries some powerful effects to rely on. It can target and equip an opponent’s monster on itself (One at a time), stealing its stats and fixing its lack of them. “Relinquished” gains other abilities while has a monster, as in case is attacked it will remove the equipped monster to avoid destruction, as well deal any damage directed at us during battles. With just the effect to steal monsters for its own benefit “Rellinquished” is a big menace for even the most recent Decks nowadays, and along being the cheapest Ritual Monster available shouldn’t be underestimated.
It might be Level 1, but “Relinquished” still needs a few preparatives for its arrival as any other Ritual Monster. “Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands” is as always the best way to start a Duel with, as will search for either “Relinquished” itself or a Ritual Spell to be used on its summon. Similarly, both “Preparation of Rites” and “Pre-Preparation of Rites” will search for both Ritual Monster and Spell non their respective ways. When it comes to materials “Relinquished” has an inmense advantage to other Ritual Monsters thanks to its Level, specially since can use “Relinkuriboh” to draw a card in return, or “Sphere Kuriboh” becoming its material from the Graveyard. Speaking of the Graveyard, we can also use monsters like “Djinn Releaser of Rituals” or “Djinn Demolisher of Rituals” to not only cheapen “Relinquished” arrival, but also restrict the opponent’s options in the process. “Advanced Ritual Art” is a popular Spell as can use Normal Monsters from the Deck as materials, quite efficient arround monsters like “Skull Servant” which works better in the Graveyard as soon as possible. FInally, a properly summoned “Relinquished” can easily be revived in later turns with cards like “Limit Reverse” and “Graceful Revival”, completely skipping any extra work to summon a new copy.
Despite its many years in the game, “Relinquished” remains highly effective on its own as well taking advantage of some exploits arround its abilities. Its effect to equip enemy monsters can easily bypass a lot of effects arround removal, becoming highly effective against monsters such as “Stardust Dragon” or “Elemental HERO Absolute Zero”. If the opponent doesn’t try to remove “Relinquished” equipment we can do so ourselves with cards like “Tsukuyomi” or “Scrubbed Raid”, to immediately afterwards target a new monster to clear the field from. On the other hand, “Lava Golem” and “Jizukiru, the Star Destroying Kaiju” are wonderful allies to follow “Relinquished” with as will tribute any threats for their summon to then become equipment for the Ritual Monster. “Relinquished” can still take advantage of its low Level on the field, with cards like “Level Limit - Area B” restricting attacks and “Opti-Camouflage Armor” allowing the Ritual to direct attack the opponent. Finally, a revival method we didn’t mention before is “Kinka-Byo” due will banish “Relinquished” when the turn ends, but can become quite useful to get rid of any threats to afterwards Xyz Summon a Rank 1 monster together.
“Relinquished” is a very rare example of a very old card still staying efficient to current times despite lack of personal support compared to other classic monsters gaining their own archetype. Is the cheapest Ritual Monster in the game, yet carries a terrifying effect with a big list of combos to take advantage from. It also gains some protection against battles, so all we have to worry about is negate any effects against it. But although all arround “Relinquished” is benefits and exploits, its status as Ritual Monster still can slow down its arrival while we gather on the least three cards for its summon. We also be careful of its original stats, as once its equipment leaves the field leaves us open for any incoming damage. But regardless, “Relinquished” might be the easiest Ritual Summon available, but carries a lot of potential even against today’s standards.
Personal Rating: A
+ The cheapest Ritual Monster available thanks to its Level 1 + Steals an opponent monster to take its stats on itself + The equipped monster will destroy itself to protect it from strong attacks + Redirects battle damage as long has a monster equipped + A lot of tools and combos to work arround its effects
- Requires resources for the summon despite its low Level - Effectless and lack of stats when not equipped with a monster
[Is he dreaming? Is this a prank? Illusion? He turns off his screen and back again. The text remains such. He takes a breath. Pinches himself hard. “Ow!” Rubbing the tender skin, he sees that in fact, Quinn has sent him the text. His befuddlement slides into bemused. Could this be? Could Quinn be in love. Heraldic chorus of angels seem to be converging in his imagination, he sees downy feathers and bright halos in his eyes as he texts.]
Quinn, nothing would bring me as much happiness as to talk love with you.
I knew that you would know, that you would understand. It's beautiful! I've never been this happy.