Summary: Derek is an ace guy working at a sex shop, and he
has a bit of a crush on one of the regulars (who he might have come out to,
Notes: Written for the Aro/Ace Wolves Mini Bang! (On AO3)
I forgot to add that this fic now has some lovely art! Check it out!
Derek looks up from his calculus textbook when he hears the
bell jingle, and he has to suppress a smile. This guy’s a regular. He usually
comes in every couple of weeks, awkward and overly-enthusiastic. He gets in to
animated conversations with other patrons, flails a lot, and almost always
manages to knock something off a shelf.
I was… musing today, and I realized something about my storytelling tastes.
While I love the “enchanted forest” trope, I can’t help but notice its many flaws. I can’t help but take issue that they almost always follow the Mirkwood model: dark, dreary, misty, almost definitely dying or sick in some way. Now, don’t get me wrong: a swampy, fungal forest of near-skeletal trees and perpetual darkness is nice. I like the idea of a necromantic wood.
However, here is one thing that the Mirkwood model doesn’t take into account: death might corrupt life, but more often, it feeds it. Nature thrives on death. Decaying things fertilize the soil so roots can stretch larger and stronger than ever. Rich moss grows over the corpses of old trees, spreads its carpet over bones. Nature is the ultimate recycler for the old and unwanted. Life and death - growth and decay - are so delicately intertwined, you can almost never have one without the other.
So here is my question: Where is the forest that is just… too green? too verdant? It doesn’t reek of death; it’s not choked with mist and whispers; the trees aren’t half-dead and leering. There’s nothing obviously wrong with it. If anything, this forest is brimming with life, with mighty, moss-covered branches, green leaves glowing with sunlight, plush carpets of ferns, the twitch of a deer in the underbrush. It’s rich. It’s living. It’s beautiful.
But then: should trees really be that big? the vines on that treetrunk: you could swear it’s thicker than it was yesterday. And the deeper you get, the greener the forest gets, until you start to wonder if this really is right, if this is normal of even a happy wood. It’s as if the forest itself - not the individual parts, but the whole - is alive and breathing. You wonder.
Until, one birdsong morning, you wake with your ankles wound with ivy. You shake them off and move on;you must’ve entangled yourself in your sleep.
Until a lone cougar attacks. After a fight, you kill it. But, as you sigh relief, it stands back up and flees into the ferns. You could’ve sworn you killed it. You must’ve been wrong.
Until, the next morning, the cougar’s clawmarks are replaced by lines that might be greener than flesh should be, and slightly too wood-like in texture. The bloodstains on the moss have been replaced with pale trillium.
Until you take a terrible fall - one that should have broken each of your bones. A rock opens a gash in your side. By all rights, you should be as dead as the cougar. But, the next morning, you stand back up. Oh, you’re stiff, and you ache: but you can move, and the hole in your side has been replaced with the same woody almost-flesh as your cougar scars. It’s tougher than it should be, but it works.
Until, one day when you’re in the wood, your foot unexpectedly breaks through that carpet of moss. You free your ankle from what you expect is a rabbit hole, but instead it’s a
You prod the mossy lumps around you. The moss takes more force than it should take to break, but one by one, you confirm your suspicions: each of them is a ribcage or skull. Moss and roots have spread over a field of bones.
Because this forest - this forest is feeding on necromancy. It is literally living on death.
A stem grows from your side - the same place that was split by the stone - and begins to bloom.
Bughead prompt: A little sweet he can't resist, often leads to being kissed! - Veronica Lodge
I had to go and look up where this quote was from! Fudge to give him the final nudge, ay Ronnie? I was gonna make this cute and fluffy but then oops angst happened! Enjoy my loves.
(I wrote this on the notes section of my phone, and am currently sitting on a wall to get wifi, the things I do for you lot, huh? ❤)
“Hey, B!” Veronica beamed, strutting down the hallway towards her friend. Betty looked upwards in acknowledgement, the small smile she offered grim at best, not even close to reaching her eyes. “What’s wrong?” Veronica asked, tone switching to concern instantly. Betty began to shake her head, unusually askew ponytail swaying as she looked down dejectedly, fingers playing with the frayed edge of her sweater sleeve.
“Come on, B, I know you. And I definitely know when something is up? Tell me, maybe I can help,” Veronica coaxed, resting a reassuring hand on her arm. Betty bit her bottom lip as it began to quiver, blinking quickly in an attempt to dissipate the tears gathering along her waterline.
“Jughead and I had a fight,” she got out with a shaky inhale. “Our first fight.” Veronica’s eyes hardened at the pain she saw settling on Betty’s face.
“What did Edgar Allen Poe do?” she all but demanded, shoulders moving back as she prepared for some classic Lodge confrontation. The colour drained from Betty’s face.
“No, it was my fault,” she whispered, Veronica having to lean forward slightly in order to catch the words. She blinked in surprise. The idea of Riverdale’s very own Perfect Polly (and yes, she was aware of the irony) doing anything to anger someone - let alone the boy that fawned over her like she hung the stars - was unimaginable.
“Oh… what happened?” she asked, too curious to be sorry about prying. Betty sighed, shoulders curling forward in defeat.
“It’s stupid, I don’t even know why…” she cried, hands gesturing futilely. “He just caught me at a really bad moment, Mom is still a wreck about Polly, and I had an awful headache and he wouldn’t stop talking about how we weren’t getting anywhere with the investigation anymore and I snapped!” Her breathing hitched as she closed her eyes against the memory of her outburst. “I said that maybe…” she paused, shaking her head, unable to repeat her words. “I implied there were more important things than our investigating and his novel, in more unkind words,” she whispered, voice cracking as the tears finally started to spill over. Veronica grimaced, unable to stop herself from picturing the way Jughead’s face would have fallen at his girlfriend’s outburst. Betty swiped furiously at her face. “You should have seen him, V, he looked so sad but he just nodded and left. I-I didn’t mean it, I wanted to take it all back straight away but he…” she had to pause to catch her stuttering breath.
Veronica’s heart ached for the crestfallen girl before her. Sure, she’d been surprised when she’d first learned of their secret tryst, but she couldn’t deny the good they had done for each other. Betty had a glow that radiated from her very core, lighting her up even on her darkest days. And she’d never seen Jughead so… comfortable, like he finally felt at home in his skin, like he wasn’t waiting for the other shoe to drop. And Betty had gone and knocked over the whole damn display rack just because of the wrong thing said at the wrong time. Veronica ran her eyes over Betty one last time, mouth dropping open slightly as the pieces fell into place.
“You love him.” It wasn’t a question. Betty’s eyes snapped up to meet her own, shining with fresh tears, but their depth of verdant green crystal clear. Betty sniffed, running her sleeve under her nose.
“Yeah,” she said, voice cracking, as if it were the simplest statement in the world. “And now he won’t even look at me.” They stood, face to face in the hall a while longer before Veronica straightened up, chin lifting into the air slightly.
“Well, if my girl is in trouble then it is my duty as designated best friend to help her out,” Veronica announced, hoping to pull a giggle from Betty’s downturned lips. The reluctant smirk she offered was good enough. “Every woman knows that the fastest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and given that I suspect Jughead is secretly harbouring at least three stomachs this should be an easy feat,” she quipped, eyes sparkling mischievously. Betty couldn’t hold back her laugh, breath stuttering still on her inhale. Veronica’s eyes softened. “I know it’s hard, but I can say without a doubt that the frustrating enigma that is Jughead Jones the Third is head over heels in love with you too,” she said, tipping Betty’s downturned face up with a delicate finger under her chin.
“You think?” The hope in Betty’s voice was enough to melt the iciest of hearts. Veronica nodded firmly.
“I know.” The creases in Betty’s forehead smoothed out slightly as Veronica linked her arm through hers. “Come on, Julia Child, we’ve got work to do.”
When she tried to leave her spot next to Betty on the worn out couch in the Blue and Gold office she’d yelped in surprise as tight finders dug into her forearm, keeping her firmly in place. She raised a sharply arched questioning eyebrow.
“I need you here, in case…” Betty trailed off, unable to bring herself to think of the alternative. Veronica nodded in understanding, resting a reassuring hand over the one still tightly clinging to her arm.
Jughead was cautious as he stepped over the threshold, into the office he considered a second home. Betty’s heart stopped before picking up again in double time. She stood up on shaky legs, nervousness coursing through her veins. Veronica took a moment to look closely at Jughead’s face, the faintest traces of red rimmed his suspicious eyes as they flicked around the room, determined not to meet Betty’s head on.
“Hi, Juggie,” her barely audible voice still rung out loud and clear across the stiflingly still air in the room.
“Hey, Betts.” His voice was thick and gravelly with unshed emotion. His eyes finally landed on the box on his desk, gaudy and bright, tied with an elaborate bow that Veronica insisted had to be the look they went for. “What’s that?” he asked cautiously. Betty’s had came up to run through her ponytail, an action of comfort.
“They’re… I made you brownies,” she shrugged, the gesture seeming silly now that he was standing in front of her. How could sugar and chocolate possible make up for the hurt she caused? Her heart stuttered at the disbelieving chuckle he let out, eyes beginning to glow with classic Jughead mirth once more. Betty felt her confidence grow. “I’m so sorry, Juggie, I didn’t mean any of the things I-” she stopped, feeling her words start to pour forth wildly. She pointed to the delicately folded paper tucked under the ribbon. “I wrote everything down just in case,” she mumbled bashfully. His heart swelled at her gesture.
Veronica watched with apprehension as Jughead gingerly picked up the note and began to read. Betty hadn’t let her read what she had written, placing her hand over the page as her cheeks dusted with pink. Veronica smiled sheepishly at her nosiness, lifting her hands in apology as she left Betty to her declarations. Jughead’s breath hitched audibly as his eyes fervorously scanned the words written in Betty’s sloping hand. He looked up at her suddenly, eyes wide and gleaming.
“Really?” he asked, tone wistful. Betty nodded, smiling through quivering lips.
“Yes, I love you,” her words were just a breath as he reached for her, cupping her cheeks with shaking hands and pressing his lips to hers with an undeniable fire. Her hands fisted in the soft fabric of his sweater. He pulled back to rest his forehead against hers, heart pounding under her palms.
“I love you, Betty.” Veronica smiled in satisfaction as she slipped out behind them unnoticed as they remained wrapped around each other.
“Betts, these are the best brownies I’ve ever tasted. Seriously,” Jughead mumbled around a mouth full of cake from across the booth at Pop’s, crumbs falling from his lips. Veronica scrunched her nose up in disgust at his lack of table manners, turning to look at her best friend, expecting to see Betty’s face mirroring her own. But instead she was greeted with that glow, the one she’d been missing for those few dreary hours they were apart. Betty giggled shyly, reaching up to wipe away some of the mess on his face before pressing a tender peck against the corner of his mouth while he smiled at her with that expression he saved for her eyes only.
Betty glanced over at her best friend over the tabletop, mouthing a ‘thank you’ when she caught her eyes. Veronica nodded in acknowledgment. She hadn’t experienced much love in her lifetime yet, but she knew that the story unfolding across from here would be one for the ages.
Note: I joined some wonderful people in CampNanoWriMo in April. The story didn’t follow as well as I would like but I reached my goal and I manage to tell the story as I intended from the start. Hope you all like it.
Summary: Oliver Queen, the recently returned from the dead rich playboy, and Felicity Smoak, newly arrived at Starling City, find themselves unknowingly living parallel lives. What happens when parallels clash together…
had done it. Verdant was Club of their own, every detail thought taking
advantage of the knowledge both Oliver and Tommy had earned through years of
clubbing and nightlife. Everything from the DJ to the bedroom upstairs was a
joint decision but there was a detail Tommy was totally unaware of. Verdant was
nothing more than a cover-up and an excuse. A cover up to his base of
operations as city protector in the basement and an excuse to all the nights he
had been missing from home.
you won’t believe the queue outside.”
was the happiest Oliver had ever seen him. For the first time in both their
lives they were building something together. No matter how much Verdant was
needed as a cover up to his other activities Oliver was happy to see Tommy so
great Club. With great owners.”
checks the watch and his smile doubles.
watch as the doors open and people begin pouring in. The music pumping giving
rhythm to the lights. It doesn’t take more than half an hour for the space to
be crowded. It’s then they move up to the small stage and address the crowd.
Oliver that welcomes everyone struggling to get over the sound of people
to Verdant. A first night the all city will remember.” He makes a pause that
could be considered dramatic if one didn’t know Oliver enough; he was taking in
the crowd amazed by how little excited he felt of being back into this life.
But a glimpse to Tommy and his own feelings were sponged and he couldn’t help
but smile “ Let’s party.”
last word was pure happiness to which everyone reacted as the DJ starts the
music up again.
and Oliver split up to receive the compliments from the various friends and
acquaintances. Most of the faces are familiar but older than he recalled, a
fact he was getting used to.
had come rescuing him from a particular clinging woman.
least half of QC is here.”
finds himself searching the room. It takes him a moment to understand what he’s
searching for, and the conclusion surprises him.
department seems to be there enjoying themselves and the free drink that came
with the invitation he and Tommy had distributed through QC and Merlyn Global,
but not her. He was surprised by his own curiosity about a woman who clearly
had no idea he even existed. And then maybe that was exactly what set her
apart. But she wasn’t there.
news from Lyla?”
should ask you that.”
was still a bit uncomfortable by the fact Oliver and Lyla were in touch when he
didn’t even knew if his ex-wife was alive or dead.
search is going nowhere.”
have all the IT department here. You could ask one of the women, they look eager
to meet you.”
looks back to the group. There are some provocative looks, none he would follow
smiled. In the time that they underwent the building of Verdant he had come to
understand a bit more of this man, a man that wasn’t anything people thought he
will get something. She never fails.” Diggle couldn’t help being protective and
true to Lyla.
kind of… “people” are the more challenging to me. I can’t tackle them, I can’t
even see them as they keep themselves on the shadow, working far away from any
will get him.”
would, that he was sure of but would it be too late?
in a blanket Felicity was chatting away with an old acquaintance on the Web. It
had been months since they talked on line they had tackle one or two
systems together and she was no hacker but she knew how systems worked and Real
life things and connections that were mysteries to Felicity. She had offered
her invitation to Verdant opening thinking she would make good use of it, and
now here she was, online.
you go to V?”
A close friend is in a bit of a hard spot and I’m helping him.”
anyone can it’s you.”
this time. He needs to find someone. Someone on the web.”
you don’t know?”
crossed paths with that handle.”
just an illusion, Felicity knew it was, but somehow it looked like the letters
on the name were brighter than the rest.
fingers stopped short of the keypad.
did she do?”
liberty to give that information.”
use to secrets, everyone had them, even her.
you know her you can help us.”
won’t betray her confidence in me.”
figured as much.
more than yourself.”
felt a cold seeping in. She feared as much but she wasn’t sure. Come to think
of it a line of text from an unknown handle on the screen wasn’t much of a
proof. A new message comes through.
understand you need proof. Would you meet me In Real Life?”
knew someday this question would come and she had already considered how to
phrase her refusal. But the words didn’t come out and a minute passed. A new
message shines on the screen.
got better but Felicity was still a bit weary of meeting people she
didn’t really know. No matter where or how many people were around.
don’t feel comfortable doing that.”
he’s really in trouble and a great friend of mine. You pick the time and
still wasn’t comfortable and she desperately wanted to say no but as she
recalled what the woman on the other side had done for her these last months
she knew she couldn’t.
me at V. Midnight.”
all her colleagues from work would be close enough even if they hardly know her
they would be there close enough for her to at least feel safe.
closes the laptop already weary of what she agreed on. The fact she had picked
the busiest Club in town gave her some reassurance still she felt uneasy as she
dress one of the dresses her mother had made her bought. Felicity smile at
herself in the mirror, she usually didn’t wear dresses but she knew how good
she looked on them. This one was especially fitting and as bright red as her
long black coat she took the train to The Glades. All she had heard about the
area was not comforting. It was the unsafe part of Starling and everyone had
warn her not to go there, but things were different, the street outside had
people dress in party clothes and moving on to an invisible point. Engulfed by
the stream of people it didn’t take long for her to see the bright green of
Verdant sign. The queue was long and she waited her turn always looking out for
small print on her hand was invisible to her eyes but not to the blue light.
the world was reduced to sound. The music dominated every conversation. She
admires how people could talk in here. She was use to the Las Vegas Casinos low
energetic sounds of the machines and coins, this was over powering to the
checks her phone. No messages. She sent one herself, giving a general run down
of her appearance.
take your coat?”
attentive to her phone Felicity took her coat and got a chip back. The silence
of the phone made her weary, it was past Midnight already, where could she be?
look was enough to Oliver to get close.
sent a message. Blond, glasses, red dress, expecting company by midnight.”
could something so detailed be so unhelpful. Verdant was filled with women; it
was almost an impossible task to find a specific one. And she must be inside
we should probably add anxious and… checking her phone repeatedly.”
follows Diggle’s look to check the person he’s watching. Still up stairs the
world didn’t exist around her, only her phone existed.
guessing that’s her.”
is probably guessing right as her eagerness looking over the all Club grows in
Oliver and be your wonderful self.”
that to that girl in pink. She looks quite smitten.”
check’s the woman Diggle mentioned, lingering on the high table to his left,
and smiles, it would be an interesting way to pass a few hours. But his
eyes go back to the issue at hand as the woman green eyes focus on him before
moving away. Like struck by a lighting Oliver feels the sting of her inquiring
wants to evert his eyes away as much as he wants to see her eyes again, he wants
to feel it again.
works at QC. IT Department.”
will make things easier.”
doesn’t even notices I exist.”
looks back to the woman.
me to go?”
had to smile at the sudden rush that made Oliver move towards the woman.
The long and winding driveway that led to the Woods’ estate crept along the creek that slithered its way along the property, connecting inland with the ocean in the distance. The trees fought the good fight against the impending autumn, still lingering in verdant greens while their tops and farthest leaves began to catch fire, flickering with the flames of reds and yellows and deep, deep auburn. In the distance, atop the small hill, the peaks of the roof could be seen every so often, nearly glowing with their lights in the dusk.
I am so proud to be owned by the man who gave me my collar. You’ve heard a few things about him these last couple months. I’ve written with love and praise of his virtues. But I have yet to tell, properly, the story of how we conquered a mountain together.
There were many highlights to having Master with me here in January, so many wonderful moments - even just the small act of cuddling up together an unforgettable memory to treasure. But the real centerpiece of the visit, the thing that will forever define those days, was the story of how we tackled the challenging and breathtaking Tongariro Crossing. This is that story.
There will be blue skies Above the green and verdant plain Churns will swell with fresh butter There will be an abundance of sweet grain And we will rise from our sleep We won’t have time to choose what things we’ll keep
And rivers will all turn to blood Frogs will fall from the sky And the plague will rage through the countryside La la la la La la la la La la la, la la la, la la la
There will be cotton clouds Above the fields as white as cream There will be loud singing in the churches As we all come out to take one for the team And all our great schemes and plans Will slip like fishes from our hands
And rivers will all turn to blood Frogs will fall from the sky And the plague will cover the country with its anger La la la la La la la la La la la, la la la, la la la Hey
Akiba’s Beat - Localization Blog #2 - The Delusionscapes
With the release of AKIBA’S BEAT for PS4 and Vita alike less than a
week away (or just over a week away, if you’re in Europe), we thought it might
be nice to take a closer look at the game’s “Delusionscapes” – the
dungeons created within the Tokyo district of Akihabara that make up roughly
one half of the game’s playtime. Some fans have been unclear as to what these
are and how they work, so we figured we’d show you some of the original concept
art from several choice Delusionscapes, along with providing thorough
descriptions of how each one – and the delusion that spawned it – fit into
the game’s setting and overall story.
For a brief moment in time, Akihabara was an audiophile’s dream, with
stereo equipment plentiful and knowledgeable staffers on every corner. But
when’s the last time you saw someone excitedly buying a several thousand-dollar
boffo stereo setup with amp, subwoofer, big honking speakers, etc.? I’m willing
to bet it wasn’t anytime since the turn of the millennium, and Akihabara – its
finger ever on the pulse of current technological trends – reflects
that, with the audio niche being all but gone from the Akiba streets of today.
One of the central themes of AKIBA’S BEAT, however, is that sometimes,
people simply cannot accept change… and in the Akiba depicted here, those who
have a strong affinity for the way things used to be can actually change
reality to make it that way again.
One music hipster dude, who runs one of the few surviving audio
specialty stores in Akihabara, did exactly that, and created this Delusionscape
full of the most amazing audio equipment you’ve ever seen (with perfect
acoustics, no doubt!). And where did he create it? Why, at the heart of Akiba,
of course: Akihabara Station, where all those heading to or from the district
inevitably must go. From the outside, it just looks like the station’s got a
larger-than-life sound system attached to it, but on the inside, it’s a maze of
graphic equalizers and top-of-the-line gear.
The key part of this delusion, however, is the effect it has on the
people of Akihabara, unconsciously causing Akiba residents and tourists alike
to have a strange desire to go out and buy new audio equipment…
Cuteness, pinkness, and bunnies rule the day here, as the site of a
simple concert fronted by up-and-coming idol singer Riyu Momose turns into an
absolute idol paradise. Throngs of adoring (and rather creepy) fans flock to
the site, guided to it like a beacon in the night, leaving our heroes with a bit
of a conundrum: who among this crowd of hundreds – nay, thousands – could be
the “deluser” responsible for dreaming up such a venue?
On the inside, the Idol Delusionscape shares its outer appearance, but
dials it all up to eleven with neon color-changing lights and whimsical designs
around every corner. One can only imagine the Grand Phantasm (read: boss) that
awaits at the end of such a high-energy labyrinth!
The Idol Delusionscape is when the story of AKIBA’S BEAT really starts
to kick into gear, presenting players with a large list of suspects as to who
might be responsible for its creation, and forcing them to do some true
sleuthing in order to find the answer. Is it the jovial yet overbearing Chunk
Widebody? The scrawny, sweaty, and devious Twiggy Slims? Or perhaps it’s the
shy, awkward Megane Taro, who seems – by all accounts – to recognize that
something isn’t quite right about all of this…
As with the Audio Delusionscape, this one represents a period in
Akiba’s history that’s only just now starting to come to a close: the maid
boom. Maid cafes are a staple of Akiba culture, allowing reclusive
“otaku” (read: nerds) not only to eat lovingly prepared food full of
hearts and flowers and frills, but to have cute girls in maid outfits waiting
on them hand and foot the whole time, calling them “master” and doing
everything in their power to cheer them up with song and dance routines, magic
shows, games… whatever it takes!
Maid cafes are still abundant in Akihabara today, with locations like
Maidreamin and Granvania serving as landmarks to travelers in the district, and
girls in full maid outfits still handing out sale flyers to passers-by on a
daily basis. However, if you went back in time only a few years – roughly to
the period when AKIBA’S TRIP: Undead & Undressed was released – you’d find
maid culture to be more of a dominant force than it is today. In other words,
it’s still going strong… but it’s noticeably waning, losing ground to idol
culture and other otaku whims.
This is where the Maid Delusionscape comes in. From the outside, it
appears as a beacon of maid symbology (frilly lace, rice omelettes with ketchup
hearts drawn on them, etc.) at the site of an in-universe branch of the
“Maidiators” cafe – and this carries through to the inside as well (albeit with more imagery of bars and chains, suggesting the “deluser” responsible for this delusion might feel a bit trapped).
But it’s the effect the maid delusion has on Akiba that’s most noticeable,
essentially restoring the maid boom in full… and then some. As long as the
Maid Delusionscape exists, maids will be more popular in Akihabara than ever, surpassing
their peak numbers from the early-to-mid 2010s. And if that happens… well, it
doesn’t sound all that bad, does it? But one could argue that it’ll cause the
district to be thrown out of balance, losing its propensity for change. And
without that, Akiba just isn’t Akiba anymore!
As such, the Maid Delusionscape chapter is the first time the game’s characters
really start to ask: is it right to destroy someone’s delusion, even when it
doesn’t seem to be doing any harm? Should delusions be condemned simply for
“defacing reality”? Or should they, under certain circumstances,
perhaps be embraced?
There are numerous Japanese terms that come up so regularly in the
anime fandom, they’ve basically become adopted into the worldwide “anime lexicon”
at this point. “Baka,” for example, is a word most anime fans know
means “idiot,” and “tsundere” is a word most anime fans
know refers to someone who’s mean and abrasive on the outside to cover up her
(usually her) inner emotionality.
One that doesn’t come up as often, however, but is absolutely key to
understanding the story of AKIBA’S BEAT (and is thus left untranslated, but
clearly outlined to players during the course of the game, even in the original
Japanese), is “chuuni.” Literally “junior high sophomore,”
it’s an abbreviated version of the larger slang term “chuunibyou,” or
roughly “eighth-grade sickness.” This somewhat derogatory term refers
to people who are obsessed with the types of “edgy” things typically
associated with fiction targeted toward eighth-graders: large unwieldy swords,
characters with mysterious pasts, pretentiously poetic dialogue that obscures
the meaning of crucial passages, heroic acts of self-sacrifice, focusing one’s
power “over 9000,” etc.
This Delusionscape, then, is fairly low-key and personal compared to a
lot of the others in the game. Its effects on the district are minimal, but
those who dare to enter it are met with a unique brand of opposition in the
form of a dark-cloaked man with a large axe who speaks in riddles. The key to
passing by him is solving his riddles, and the key to that is finding the
source of the delusion – the person who dreamed up this den of tired anime
stereotypes in the first place. But can that be done before the power of the
Chuuni Delusionscape collapses in on itself like a neutron star?! Find out next
time… on AKIBA’S BEAT!
This is one of the more surprising Delusionscapes in the game, I
think. When you hear “electronics,” you probably aren’t picturing quite what
you get here – verdant green grass and moss, with a general feeling of nature
encroaching upon everything around you. How does this relate to electronics?
Well, if you look a bit closer, you’ll see: mixed in with all the foliage
(indeed, almost camouflaged by it) are air-conditioning units, fans,
microwaves, washing machines, refrigerators, and all manner of other home
appliances (you don’t actually have to look THAT close in the concept art image, but in-game, these appliances are a bit fewer in number and more well-hidden). These aren’t the electronics that first spring to mind when
most of us hear the word, but make no mistake: these are the electronics that
made Akihabara what it is today. And here, they’re shown as being forgotten… abandoned… left out
for so long that they’re overgrown with moss and vines, likely never to
This is the delusion of someone who controls a vast empire of home
appliances, but either regrets that he’s still living in Akihabara’s past, or
is afraid his goods will be rendered obsolete by newer, more advanced
inventions. It’s the delusion of an insecure store owner – the
hidden underbelly of a “home appliance boom” that’s happening on the outside, with people
suddenly snatching up home appliances in droves like never before… when in
reality, one rarely goes to Akihabara for home appliances these days. The
meaning of “electronics” – indeed, of “Electric
Town” in general – has changed into a completely different beast
over the last few decades. And there are clearly some who would prefer not to
change with it, and will fight tooth and nail to keep things the way they once
Represented in one of the more emotional chapters of AKIBA’S BEAT, the
events surrounding the Electronics Delusionscape hit pretty hard, and may be
some of the more memorable and intense moments found in the entire game.
They are also, sadly, very easy to spoil, so I shall speak no more on
In fact, to talk about any of the other Delusionscapes at this point
would be virtually impossible without spoiling crucial story scenes, so suffice
it to say we’ve only just scratched the surface here – there are many, many
more in this game, each with their own story to tell!
If you could make any delusion into reality, what would your delusion
be? Where would it be located, and what effect would it have on your
town/city/village/trailer park/biodome? What would the inside of its
Delusionscape look like, and what “Grand Phantasm” – representative of the
core concept from deep within your soul that spawned this delusion in the first
place – would await at the end of it?
We’ve been asking ourselves that very same question here at the XSEED
offices, and if you’re lucky, maybe we’ll share a few of our answers with you
in a future blog. Because let me tell you, we’re all delusers, baby (though
please don’t kill us!).
In the meantime, you can join Asahi & co. on their delusion-filled
journey May 16th in North America or May 19th in PAL
regions, on PS4 or Vita, both versions containing dual voice and dual text (so
you can play with any combination you’d like of Japanese or English
voice-acting or text). And in fact, although we previously stated that players
would have to download the Japanese voices as free DLC for the Vita version, it
turns out we were able to include them as part of the base game after all, so
all users on both PS4 and Vita will have all voice and text options in all
English-speaking regions, right from the start.
His hands were stained a shocking vermilion by the time he’d finished grinding the chalk-soft stone from the Approach. The resulting pigment had worked its way under his nails and settled into the folds of his palms, a familiar and welcome sensation, smooth and powdery against his skin. There was always a need for that particular hue, he thought, mouth a thin line.
Solas tapped the red orange into an envelope of waxed paper and set it amongst others of its kind, lined neatly in a simple wooden chest. Each square of folded paper a different pigment, each pigment a souvenir from months of travel. Cool blues and verdant greens from the Graves, earthy browns from Hinterlands, a melancholy ochre from Haven - even a rich violet he’d purchased from Val Royeaux - an experiment, really, to see if he could reproduce the color with his own recipe.
Above him, high in the tower, the usual sounds - the scrape of a chair, purposeful footfalls against stone, and higher still, in the rookery, the rustling of indignant feathers and the low reassurances of the bird’s caretaker.
He sighed, lowering the lid of the chest, letting the heavy latch fall into place with a satisfying metallic click.
Niles had found it quite amusing when small bean sprouts would form atop Leo’s head when he studied too hard, or when he left pink, possessive marks on the flushed skin of his thighs he swore he could smell peonies hanging in the air, like an aphrodisiac. It was a quirk he had come to adore, no matter what setting.
It wasn’t funny anymore.
a mainly leoniles drabble about a head canon in which flowers grow whenever leo’s upset.
Prompt: You bring my grandmother a basket of homemade candy every Christmas and she keeps dropping hints about how great you are so we should probably go out at least once—you know, just to make grandma happy.
The first time that he tasted them, they melted on his tongue with an unknown gentle sweetness, and he thought that if heaven could be found in food form, it had to be in the form of those caramels.
His grandmother had offered them to him on one of her gaudy snowman plates, the homemade wrapping only adding to their charm as he’d raised an eyebrow at them. She’d stated that the young girl from down the street had delivered them the other day, and to wish him a Merry Christmas.
Obi had scoffed. Seriously? Who did she take him for?
His grandmother had puttered around the kitchen, trying to find her cookie cutters. “You remember Shirayuki from the Fourth of July picnic, don’t you?”
He hummed his response as he tilted his head at the plate of homemade goodies. Of course he remembered. Not that he’d ever tell the old meddler that. In fact, he didn’t think it’d be possible for him to ever forget her. He’d never seen another human being with eyes that vividly green or hair so vibrantly red. She’d smiled and offered him a cherry tart, and something in his chest had pulled.
His fingers reached for the candy, unwrapping a piece with gentle care, his mind replaying the way that her hair fell over her shoulder as she’d knelt down to hold a sparkler with the rest of the neighborhood children, her eyes reflecting the golden lights like emeralds.
Obi’s eyes fluttered as he chewed, the confectionary treat dissolving into a buttery, creamy, delectable texture. Wow. He’d never had anything like them before. So soft and golden, honeyed and decadent.
“Yes, sir,” the old woman sighed, seating herself beside him at the kitchen table. “That Shirayuki sure can bake.” His grandmother had lost her stealth-mode years ago but refused to acknowledge it, her soft hands unwrapping her own piece of blissful candy while shooting him a not-so-subtle sideways glance.
Obi shook his head with a small smile while reaching for another piece. “Pretty sure I came over here to help put up decorations, old woman- not get the third degree.”
The next time that he tasted them, he was untangling a ball of lights on the living room floor while an old record played carols in the corner. She’d only listen to the timeless holiday tunes on vinyl, because they reminded her of the times that she’d spent with his grandfather, of Christmases long since passed. It was charming in a way that was uniquely her, and Obi had come to cherish the crackling sound that accompanied the melodies.
He’d ponder on it later, though. It was currently taking everything within him not to snap.
Obi was getting annoyed and about to start spouting off his favorite curse words when tender hands placed the plate of heavenly sweetness upon the coffee table beside him, and his mouth watered instantly at the mere sight of them.
He hadn’t been able to get them out of his head; not since last year, and he’d been secretly disappointed when he’d learned that she only made them at Christmas time, which was something that she’d told him at the neighborhood Easter Egg hunt. She’d set the lemon cupcakes upon the table before offering him one, her smile as bright as the floral print of her dress as he’d complimented her on the frosting.
“It’s infused with blackberries!” She’d piped, tiny hands reaching out to brush a crumb off of his dress shirt with care. Verdant eyes as green as the fresh spring grass around them had shone up at him as he’d tried to remember how to swallow. “I’m glad that you liked them, though!” At his befuddled look, she’d clarified. “The caramels, that is!”
He’d caught the look that his grandmother had shot him over Shirayuki’s shoulder, and had made a mental note to have a talk with the meddler about things that didn’t concern her.
Grandma sat down in her recliner, a sly smile curling her lips as she watched Obi glancing at the caramels longingly out of the corner of his eye, fingers still valiantly trying to untangle the mess of lights sprawled out in his lap. He vowed to never again throw them into the box haphazardly, no matter how cold it was or how hungover he was.
"That sweet little Shirayuki dropped those by again,” she softly crooned, leaning back in her chair and rocking as she watched him struggle. “Nicest little thing…I tell ya, any woman who can bake like that will never be lost for good company.”
Obi sighed as the lights finally began to relent and resemble a straight line once more. “Because the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach?” He decided to reward himself for his hard work and couldn’t ease the flutter of excitement in his chest as he pulled apart the homemade wrapper; a wrapper that had been touched by her own hands not long before.
No- because if everything else she makes is half as good as those candies, I’M moving in with her!”
The third time that he tasted them, they mixed with the anxious uncertainty dancing upon his tongue, his fingers twitching nervously and toes tapping in his shoes as he shifted his weight from foot to foot.
The snow was quiet as it fell, blanketing the surrounding neighborhood in a sheet of soft white fluff. The flakes resembled down feathers, big and floppy as they floated down from the night sky. He’d be able to appreciate its beauty much more if he wasn’t so busy shoveling it off of the damn driveway.
Obi’s breath plumed out and hung in the air before dissipating, his back beginning to ache and fingers tingling from the cold eating its way through his gloves. The concrete surface was deemed good enough in his book at long last, and he couldn’t wait to get back inside so that he could thaw properly. Maybe have one of the caramels that were waiting on a plate in the kitchen?
He grimaced as he recalled how smug his grandmother had looked when he’d walked into the kitchen, freezing at the sight of his favorite treat sitting before him in the cozy light of the kitchen. Was it worth listening to the old woman hound him about the red-headed girl when it was taking everything in him to think about anything but her?
He was still trying to decide, which was why he’d pulled on his winter coat and boots and stomped outside to shovel snow. Busy hands would help to take his mind off of the way that she smiled, and just how badly he wanted to see it everyday, not just around the neighborhood or on the holidays.
He stood upright in order to adjust his hat more tightly over his ears, and that was when he saw her approaching.
Shirayuki trudged through the snow in her fur trimmed boots, snowflakes sticking to the wool of her black coat and stocking cap. She carried a basket in her mitten covered hands, her own breath curling around her as she smiled and called his name with a wave.
It was the cold causing the twinge in his chest. It had to be. It definitely didn’t have anything to do with the fact that he hadn’t seen her since Thanksgiving, when she’d fed him a bite of one of her pumpkin cheesecake bars, her thumb reaching out to swipe away some of the graham cracker crumbs from a corner of his mouth with a delicate laugh. It hadn’t been on his mind at all how her touch had lingered near his mouth, their eyes locking for several seconds before she’d blushed and ducked her head in order to avert her gaze back down to her lap.
Shirayuki came to stand before him and he offered her a smile, leaning against his shovel. “Isn’t it a bit late for you to be out and about, little lady?”
She scrunched her nose up at him with a playful huff before lifting up the cloth covering the contents of her basket, homemade wrappers peeking out at him through the falling snow. “Well then maybe I’ll just take these back home!”
Obi made to grab for one but she yanked them out of reach at the last second, sticking her tongue out at him and backing up a step. “Grinch,” he teased lightly before trudging up the driveway to lean the shovel back up against the house. “Droppin’ off more of those? Thought maybe you’d bring the old woman some of those cranberry cookies that she’s always talkin’ about…”
Obi turned around and tilted his head slightly at her blush, watching her fidget with the handle of the basket as she shifted her weight from foot to foot. Her voice was so soft that he almost missed it as she murmured, “But caramels are your favorite, right?”
Obi couldn’t deny that the tightening in his chest had to be due to his hammering heart, his breath catching as he watched her reach into the basket to pluck one from the rest, golden eyes noticing how her hand shook slightly as she extended it out to him with a timid smile. “Merry Christmas, Obi.”
She’d made them for him. All of this time, they were for him.
Christmas only came once a year, and seeing as how it was a time for miracles, maybe he could give it a shot?
Obi accepted the treat tentatively, his gaze never leaving hers as he twisted open the wax paper wrapping. Popping it into his mouth, the buttery smooth texture was as perfect as he’d remembered, almost as perfect as the sight of the new fallen snow clinging to crimson strands as she watched him chew the candy and swallow.
Obi tugged on his hat, clearing his throat as he noticed her small frame shivering. “Do you, uh-” Damn, this was hard. “Want to come inside and see Gran? Maybe go get some coffee?”
Her eyes were evergreen as she blinked up at him, her voice as soft as the whisper of the falling snow as she murmured with a smile, “Okay.”
The fourth time that he tasted them, she offered one to him herself, small hands extending out a snowman plate and giggling at his excited expression.
Long fingers plucked one off of the top of the pile, winking at her and delighting in the small blush dusting along her cheeks. He’d never get tired of the look in her eyes as she watched him twist apart the wrapper and pop it into his mouth, her giggle lighter than air as he hummed his appreciation and closed his eyes to savor the taste. Nothing beat the flavor of a freshly made caramel candy.
Christmas carols played in the background, the record old and crackling slightly from years of wear and use. It was cozy in the kitchen, Shirayuki smiling at the sound of his grandmother humming along to the familiar tune, hands wise with age stirring the large pot with a wooden spoon.
Shirayuki stood from the table and went to stand beside her at the stove, administering praise at how perfectly the batch was coming along, Obi smiling at the sight of both women watching the thick mixture bubble merrily, the buttery smell clinging to his tongue as he breathed deeply.
The air of the Forest had begun to bare its deceitful treachery upon the joint fates of the two most unlikely companions. Rank upon rank of bark and bough had begun to seep away in the distance, and the further the eye pursued their folds did they sink into an unsettling, murky gloom, laden with a ghastly, silvery mist. Breath availed them not and catered less so to them–their lungs would feel the Shroud’s bosom constrict, as the recline of pure air had come to hint at. It had been an atmosphere accustomed to regions hosting a rich palette of lichen upon unkempt barks–breathing became stifling, the air infatuated with moisture and subtly robbed of clarity, deviously robbing the pair of both sight and comfort. It had not depleted too direly, though. Slipstreams of wind still coursed through the fibers of grass both verdant and murky–under the great, harrowing crowns of boughs did the green carpet grow bolder, held captive by an audience of darker hue.
Draping the hind of his knuckles against the fine, bulbous peak of his nose, the Sea Wolf would struggle to make aught out of the play that took center stage before that very selfsame snout–a moderate, silenced gasp chanted from his lips as the terrible form of the Shroud-daughter yielded to release, yearning to incur a wrath of her own conjuration–she fended for another cause, that much would not elude his perceptive keenness. His best guess lingered with the idea of assertion–dominance. Rivienne was not wont to bend knee and heel before a militant authority–and less so in the face of adversity propagated by no face indeed. Rhotdornn’s breath grew stale, and his orbs gave away a lulled, swayed portrayal. Hers was a wrathful, sundering form–one outfitted with looming terror and not found at a lack of terrible luster, either. An icon of horror, both divine and awe-inspiring. Her fear was become fled before her divinity, and even the Shadows themselves reeled and trembled like brittle twigs in the righteous gust ripping from a striking gale. From her palm sprung reflections of gleaming bright, and the air had come to be restored–even if to last the couple for but a breath’s respite, before equally, once more, whittling away abandoning them to the mercy of the Twelve–and whatever phantom harried the trees on that eve, to boot.
The raven greeted her newfound gown of aether and splendor with a craning of its head heavensward. It knew its part–and it knew to play it to perfection in these negotiations and under the decree of these circumstances. Stubbornly would its feet crave the coolant ground, an act of paralleled need of imposition. However, not much of the same could be rehearsed for its brethren–the curtain speckled with many-a-green began to extinguish, the dots in the bloated, blackened wall of the Forest’s wooden folds gradually depleting, one after the other–the swarm of emerald counted lower and lower, until, at last, the final pair of orbs only lingered atop them from a high-vaulted, remote crown of swaying leaves. Far less avian were they introduced to the two, if looks were a feasible judge to go by–a greatly humanoid trait shaped their pupils in an elegant round, their glow protruding through attentive lids–far from closed, yet not maliciously agape, either. They watched restlessly. Tirelessly laboring to cater to the pair’s curiosity–and destiny, respectively.
At a sudden notice, a hollow breath began sneaking into the luxuriant earlobes of the juvenile nymph. If senses could betray her, they would alert her to the lack of an external voice–but one that almost took onto the suit of appealing to her from within her mind.
“What crave you? What twisted malice do you ride through these woods, driving it through every stump and splinter? Harrowing these grounds with the taint of blood you’ve soaked your fingers in the past?”
Time did not lend assistance to the maiden, either–’twas as if the chronoveil had become stuck in its loop, a plane bereft of time’s passing–and still was it that only she could remain privy to the lush murmurs of the ghastly choir, hushing and gently tickling her earlobes with a chilled, fresh breeze. The woods to her had gone quiet, the surrendered to the strings of wind that caressed the strings which lulled them into dance, which robbed them of nimbleness and equally so which ripped them from their brittle twigs and battered branches.
The allure in the voice had served but one goal–one purpose. A speck of brilliance fell unto the beak of the raven, and from its nest upon the spears of verdant-green had it begun radiating, breaking through string and string of grass anew. A weak pulse had stemmed from it–and warmth it bequeathed upon the crust of the earth below. Without fail would the raven wind its neck past the obtrusion of grass and blade most emerald, securing the source betwixt the clutches of its keen beak. It’s wings drove in bold arcs apart, for wide they were, and wider still–their full length could stand even with the span of the Shroudmaiden’s shoulderblades were one attentive to such detail. Claps of its wings saw it pushed into the seams of air, yet not too far would it elevate, nor too high would it yearn–steering clear of her companion, the raven sought the heavens, until its flapping of wings could be heard a head above the Shroudmaiden’s own, thin earlobes. From the clutch of its beak hung an elegant, silver chain–the way it soaked and drank in the moonlight betrayed the rings that lined its links immediately, for only one metal gleamed so brightly, so lively, so mysteriously in the eye of the Moon–mithril.
And from such loose chain an even more so loose opportunity–offering–teetered upon the precipice of her attention. A soft, simple, golden ring. No markings had it borne, no letters encrusted upon its flesh, no gem crowned its splendor–no. Absolutely nothing had it brandish any redeeming, unique traits–no plethora of virtuous designs, nothing save the vibrancy of the golden hue that coveted its span, and the perfect fit it matched for the digit of her own proportion.
“And now, at last to it we come. I will give you this ring freely! In place of this dreadful abyss that harrows your heart you will set up a splendid harmony. And no longer in it shall there be dark, but beautiful and terrible shall it come to be as the Morning and the Night!
as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm
and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the… Earth.”
The final word streamed fluently from the enigmatic source, and great succor did it find in its utterance–a hollow pause would have the forest suffer the blight of anticipation. From the trinket itself stemmed a coat of challenging dread–and great would it grow indeed, for if it were gazed through its circlet, the maiden would suffer a flash shroud her own mind–and a split second would unravel before her a myriad, tome’s worth of pictures–a burning, crimson slit, shaped like a circle. And from it would vigilance spread, and dread would haunt and herald dominion. Far in the skies was it vaulted, concealed by bough and riddled with a buzzing cocoon of ripe aether.It willed her forth, seeking nourishment in the streams of her courage’s well–to gnaw away at her hope, happiness, life.Swiftly would these images snap like a tense band from her mind, and back unto the frozen standstill of a reality would she be delivered once more.
At length it once more chimed, passing forth its final query.
“Your dread for harmony, your choice for his suffered existence. The same blade that clings to his sheath, freshly sharpened for your hand only… Will be his demise should you choose poorly.”
“To live is but to choose, Shroudmaiden. Now, yet, you command the fate of another with your own choice… Whatsoever will you choose?”
Upon closer inspection back within the Sea Wolf’s coat had the blade long fled its scabbard, and now the pieces were accounted for–and revealed. From any vantage point of the woods could an emissary of death issue their strike, easily dispatching either under the nocturnal gown and the stealth of mist that slathered the Wood in a deathly, sickly-grey odor, welling with thickness and density.
Triangular shawl in vibrant green shade. Stripes move from dark to light and from light to dark. Tasseled fringe topped with wood beads. Has I-cord stitching around neck for an even and smooth edge. Measures 60” wide x 30” long.
80% acrylic, 20% wool
Hand wash, lay flat to dry.
Use INFAMOUS20 at checkout and receive 20% off this item or any item over $25.
Did anyone ask for cheese? No? Well, here you go anyway. Unofficial follow up to “Two Can Play This Game” because I love writing fluff without plot. SFW.
Rain tapped against the window, a dim, droning tune that mixed in with the sounds of one of Gabriel’s favorite movies. Water streaked down the windows. It was midday, but the sky over the ocean was a canvas of mottled black and gray. It reminded Jack of a lot of things, but when lightning flashed, all he could see was Gabriel’s sudden smile. Thunder purred in the distance like the way his laugh rumbled deep in his chest, so much like the storms in Indiana that it made Jack’s heart ache. Gently enough not to rouse him, Jack shifted a hand over Gabriel’s brow, pushing long, gray-streaked curls out of his eyes. Soft wisps of smoke followed his touch.