Saga of Soul
My name is Watanabe Eriko. I'm thirteen years old. I am also, I suppose, a magical girl - not the term I'd have chosen on my own, but Junko's right in that it kinda fits.
It's been four days since we met Mother Aurora. I have to admit, I was not expecting that. In a certain sense, Junko and I may have established first contact with an alien lifeform - though Aurora doesn't come from another planet. She said something about fairies coming from "Feyland", which she called "a spiritual plane of existence separate from this one". Figuring out what the hell that means is now on my to-do list, because Mother Aurora has been... frustratingly slow at giving away information.
I shouldn't get too critical. The fact she's willing to share information -at all- is a godsend - even with my abilities, I might never even have figured out that she and her kind existed. Besides, it looks like she's under a lot of pressure - apparently, something linked to "magic" (she insists on calling it that way. Tradition?) can be a threat to all of mankind, and even the universe. It turns out that she wants me to help her counter this, due to my own "magical" abilities.
Now, you might be wondering why she doesn't handle the problem herself. I asked her as much, especially after seeing a couple of small samples of her abilities (and even if that was the full extent of her power - which wasn't the impression I got - she's -light years- beyond me). Her explanation was that there was an "extension" (of what?) on Earth. Whatever this extension is (and Aurora seems to hate it. Possibly fear it.), it's blocking fairies out of our spatial continuum. She was only able to enter Castle Nexus because it's in a pocket universe (she says they were working on an alternate way of contacting me, but Castle Nexus made it simpler for them).
Long story short, there's some bad stuff coming to Earth, and I agreed to help Aurora deal with it (as did Junko). Aurora also requested that I keep magic a secret as much as possible - in the wrong hands, it can apparently be far more dangerous than I can tell.
I still intend to publish my findings, mind you - once I've learned more about the dangers and how to circumvent them. For now, I should probably be worrying about those upcoming problems... but it's kind of hard when I don't even know what they'll -be-.
Not that it has stopped Junko from taking a surprisingly proactive role.
"<You'll need a costume, and a... well... name. I mean, you're not planning to go out there fighting evil under your real name, are you?>"
"<Well, no. If the public at large knows about my... our secrets, that could get us in trouble. Full disclosure will have to wait a little. But why a costume? Just because they wear frilly, over-the-top clothes in the anime, it doesn't mean I have to do it too.>"
"<Well, you don't have to follow tradition... but I figure it might help, no?>"
"<Well... Actually, the costume might help conceal my identity. Maybe a mask...>"
"<A mask?! Magical girls don't... OK, I know, it's not a TV show...>" Though Junko nevertheless seemed bothered by the idea.
"<Well, maybe not magical girls, but what about superheroines?>" Of course, Junko doesn't really share my love for American comics. "<But... to think of it... A mask might actually be the wrong way to go about it. It could fall off, and it tells people I have something to hide. Better to protect my identity with a fake face.>"
"<Beg your pardon?>"
"<Well, I could use magic to modify the plants, remember? It should be possible to do the same to my own body.>"
"<The Cutie Honey route... You wouldn't just be dressed differently, you'd actually look different in your civilian and magical persona!>"
"<Something like that. Heck, a costume might even add an air of mystery to throw off investigators... so long as I don't go overboard with it. It will still have to be practical.
That face-changing magic will take work, though.>"
"<You're pretty good at creating and modifying matter. How hard can it be?>"
"<Harder than you seem to realize. A face isn't just matter - it's living, biological matter. Every cell is an incredibly complex structure all by itself.
See, I can create an anvil, no problem. An anvil is just a lot of iron atoms organized in a pretty simple form. I know what to create, so I use common magic for that.
But a cell? I wouldn't know where to put which kind of atom. An entire face? I'd have no clue where to put the blood vessels, the nerves... So instead, I use noble magic. I go from the template of the face I already have, and modify it by thinking of the end result I want to get. The magic fills in the blanks.>"
Mother Aurora taught me just a little bit of the relevant nomenclature. "Common magic" is the name of what I used to call "basic manipulation" - the direct modification of matter, energy and space. "Noble magic" is using abstract concepts and willing them into reality - what I called "abstract manipulation". Mother Aurora suggested that "common magic" is, ultimately, a pretty limited tool compared to "noble magic", and said that the former was only good for situations where you didn't have the time for complicated manipulation.
"<All right, we'll need to work about your appearance and name. What about your attacks?>"
"<Junko, we don't even know what I'm going to have to deal with.>" Although combat situations might not be too unlikely - Mother Aurora did insist on teaching me that shield technique. "<All I can do is train my repertoire of abilities.>"
"<I guess. But, you should still probably get started on those magical girl anime and manga I brought.>"
"<You realize that this is real life, right?>"
"<Sure. But it's not like there's a real-life manual to being a magical girl, so...>"
"<Right, right. I'll see if they have any useful ideas. I'll start watching "Sailor Moon" this evening.>"
"<I'm still amazed you've never watched it. It's a classic! The classic!>"
"<I'm not really into shojo. And I did watch Nanoha...>"
My name is Junko. I'm thirteen years old.
It's been a week since I learned Eriko's big secret. A week since Mother Aurora, the Fairy Queen, revealed that she needed Eriko's help to save the world from whatever.
So many things I have trouble wrapping my head around, I don't know what to begin with. But I know this much: Eriko told me her secret, made me her confidant. It now falls to me to help her as much as I can.
Easier said than done. She's the one with the magic powers, the brains, and the courage. My only contribution here is my decent knowledge of magical girl anime.
It's not really a big surprise that Eriko isn't too familiar with shojo stuff. She's one of the least girly girls I know, and half the stuff she does like is foreign. So I try to contribute by picking material for her to watch and read.
I'm not stupid. I know there's a difference between anime and real life. Eriko isn't going to pull a magic stick, aim at a big ugly monster, shout "LOVE FOUNTAIN GALAXY ATTACK" and make the monster disappear in a big lightshow... Heck, the only thing she needs to cast her spells is to -think-. No magic sticks. But still... the whole thing falls pretty neatly into the genre, I think. Might as well take some cues, and it's the only help I can provide anyway.
Well, that's not -strictly- true. My other contribution is helping Eriko maintain her secrecy. We just tell her... our... Mr and Mrs Watanabe that we're hanging out together after school. Which we do - at Castle Nexus, where Eriko gets trained by Mother Aurora.
I can tell Eriko isn't too hot about keeping those secrets from her parents. But she agrees it's probably for the best.
I look up from the manga I'm reading to see how Eriko is doing with her training.
"<Put more effort into it>", Mother Aurora said impassibly. "<Without the shield spell, you will not last long. A single attack, even non-magical, would have the potential to kill you.>"
"<I know that! I'm trying!>" And knowing it doesn't make it easier.
"<Then do succeed. This is simply a matter of combining noble and common magic - common magic to generate energy, and noble magic to control when and where this energy is to be generated.>"
"<Yes, yes. Use noble magic so that whenever high-energy objects get too close to my skin, they get some kinetic energy going opposite of their movement's direction, thus slowing them down. I understand that.>" And it's still crazy-hard.
"<Then try harder. Magic is the imposition of one's will upon reality. Your will shall need to be as strong as humanly possible.>"
"<I understand.>" Drill sergeant Aurora.
In a different part of reality - one that had not been born of the Big Bang in the same manner as our universe - the entity prepared for the teleportation.
The entity was sentient. It had self-awareness, and an intelligence that would not have been out of place among humans.
Its emotions, however, would have been considered chilling in any human society. While humans were capable of the level of hate present in the entity, they rarely ever reached it.
That hate, accompanied by knowledge of the incoming teleportation and what it would allow, filled the entity with sadistic glee.
"<The time has come.>" The entity looked at the source of the words. They had not been conveyed by sound; there were more efficient ways of communication. The one who had uttered the words was another sentient being - the one that the entity, and all the others surrounding it, recognized, for now at least, as their leader.
"<Yes! The time has come!>" the leader went on, "<The time for Righteous Vengeance!>"
"<Righteous Vengeance!>" echoed the cries of all the others, including the entity.
"<Man is the source of our plight. Man is the spiritual pollution. Man is the enemy!>"
"<Man is the enemy!"
"<The enemy will be crushed!>"
"<The enemy will be crushed!>"
"<The enemy will know sorrow and destruction!>"
"<The enemy will know sorrow and destruction!>"
"<The time has come, for the Endless Ravage, to unleash Righteous Vengeance upon humanity! The time - has come!>"
"<The time has come!>"
With the shouting done, the entity readied itself. It did not go through; not yet. A spell that would send it to another reality altogether required immense effort over large periods of time to fully activate, even for a single passenger.
The leader, along with all the other minions, pooled all their magic together. For a long time, they had worked at casting the spell; now, at last, they gave it the final push. The next instant, the entity winked out, landing in the middle of a human city.
The entity looked around, watching with satisfaction the terrified reactions of the human vermin.
"I am Downfall. I am a demon eight centuries old, and I will destroy your world!"
Mother Aurora twitched. "<Something is going on.>"
"<Huh?>" Eriko looked up from her attempt at reinforcing her shield.
"<See for yourself.>" Mother Aurora opened a portal, allowing Eriko and Junko to see through it - an aerial view of downtown Tokyo.
What caught their attention was the monster rampaging through it. Its build made one think of a cross between a gorilla and a bull, with the upper/front half of the body far larger than the hind one. It mostly ran around on its four massive legs, but showed every once in a while that it could perfectly well stand up on its hind legs, using the fingers at the end of its front legs to grab and throw cars. Its skin was rugged, colored with deep brown, black, and some red streaks. Its expression suggested that it greatly enjoyed leaving a path of destruction in its wake. Also, it was surprisingly fast and agile, considering it was the size of an elephant.
Junko's jaw was getting acquainted with the floor, and was just about to ask for its phone number, when Eriko finally managed to utter the obvious question: "<What... What is that thing?>"
"<A demon.>" Mother Aurora said matter-of-factly, though with a slight note of disgust. "<I suppose this will be the first crisis you face.>"
Junko's jaw, having been told by the floor that things wouldn't work out between them, was coming up, heartbroken, hoping to rekindle its romance with the upper jaw.
"<A demon.>" That short sentence didn't fully express Eriko's thoughts, but she was too busy assimilating information to focus on verbalization.
"<An evil spirit from another world.>" Mother Aurora's patience was being tested, but it barely showed through her self-control. "<As a general rule, his kind hate yours with a passion. The whys of it are not our immediate concern. The pressing matter is that it is rampaging through the city, and it is up to you to stop it.>"
"<Stop this... thing.>" Eriko was struggling to put her thoughts into words. "<You want me to stop this huge monster. Shouldn't this be handled by, I dunno, the police?>"
"<The rest of the human race are not equipped to deal with such matters. Demons are magic users...>"
Oh, better and better! So not only is it big and strong enough to step on me like a bug, it can also set me on fire with its thoughts?!
"<...and I assure you, shield spells are extraordinarily unlikely not to be in this one's repertoire. So do you intend to do your duty and protect your people, Watanabe Eriko? Or do you intend to stay here in the relative safety of your castle, while your fellow humans die like flies?>"
Yeah, yeah, I get it. Sheesh. "<All right, I get the point. Any advice for beating this thing?>"
"<Not much, I'm afraid, beyond "don't get killed". Demons are a rather heterogeneous lot.>"
My name is Suzuki Takeshi. I'm 28 years old. I work as a waiter at a restaurant my wife's uncle owns. Right now, I'm paralyzed with fear inside my car as I see a huge monster lunge at me -
Takeshi's train of thoughts - as well as his life - came to a brutal, early end as Downfall grabbed his car with his "hands", lifted it high up in the air, and slammed it against another nearby car. The demon smiled as he watched the humans get out of their cars in the middle of traffic and run away screaming.
"Ha! Is that the best you've got?"
It was then that he heard several gunshots, and felt the impact of half as many bullets on his shield. He turned around to see the terrified policeman who was desperately shooting at him.
"<Stop! Monster, stop! In the name of the law!>"
"Sorry, mortal..." said Downfall, giving a mock apologetic look, "...I don't speak Japanese." The demon then focused, magically causing some kerosene to appear...
...which was when a portal opened 15 meters away, allowing a girl through it...
...which was when Downfall used his magic to set the kerosene on fire and project it at the policeman.
My name is Watanabe Eriko, and I'm not ready for this.
Junko and Aurora helped me prepare. The disguise spell is perfect - it makes me four inches taller, increases the length of my hair so it reaches the middle of my back (I considered changing its color, too, but that'd be the wrong way to go about it - I want people to think this disguise is my -real- look), modifies my facial features until my own mother wouldn't recognize me, and even changes my fingerprints (couldn't change my blood type and DNA, though). It also replaces my regular clothes with this costume - Junko and I eventually compromised on an all-white uniform that could practically be used in gym class (I'm going to need the mobility, after all). As for the magic, I'm getting the hang of shields, portals are no problem, and I can do energy blasts (which aren't actually energy... just high-density, high-energy, high-velocity particles).
None of that made me ready for this. The moment I crossed the portal, I saw this... -demon-, whatever that term means, use the magical equivalent of a flamethrower to -fry someone alive-. Those screams... The -end- of those screams... Ye gods, what the Hell am I doing here?
The demon looked at her. "Ah. I guess you're the new magic-user."
"Ah, you speak English. Good, I was worrying that there'd be no final talk before the showdown."
"...You don't speak Japanese." It wasn't the most important thing to note at the moment, but Eriko's mind defaulted to it as it desperately tried to repress the welling panic.
"Bleh. You know how many languages you humans have? I couldn't be bothered with all of them. English and Spanish are enough."
"The two most commonly spoken languages. Makes sense."
"Glad you approve. So, who exactly are you?"
"...Soul. Call me Soul." It was the codename she and Junko had ended up agreeing on. She felt Junko had wanted something flashier, but hadn't insisted. She didn't really insist on anything these days.
The demon laughed. "Soul! Ha! Well then, little girl, know me by my name - I am Downfall!"
She shuddered. Not at the name, but rather at the fact he looked even scarier when he stood up on his legs and roared like that.
"I am glad you came", Downfall went on, having come back down to stand on four legs again; "I was hoping I wouldn't need to look for you. After all, I can't afford to have a human magician around to oppose my plans. But I knew you were from around this area, so I figured I'd begin my rampage here.
And now, Soul... you will die."
She saw him twitch. She saw the flames appear. She saw them erupt, rushing at her at great speed. She barely had the time to remember that the shield wasn't good at blocking this type of attack. She screamed as she threw her arms in front of her face and fell backward.
The flames never hit her. Instead, they went through a portal that had opened between her and the demon, and came out the other end of the portal, hundreds of meters above the area.
From her sitting position, she withdrew her arms and looked up. MAN, am I glad I worked on that move.
Downfall looked at her. Then he roared and jumped forward.
"<Unbelievable.>" the cameraman commented to himself, as he did his best to film the scene from the news helicopter that was flying above the disaster area. The monster had just thrown fire at the girl in white, but something had blocked the fire (he couldn't see the redirected flames from that angle); now the monster was lunging at her, and she... wait did she fly out of the monster's grasp, or was that a leap?
Eriko was well and truly panicking as she kept zapping her own body with enough kinetic energy to zip from one position to another, trying to keep away from Downfall. He began throwing more projectiles at her - fire, plasma, rocks. Finally, she managed to make a portal and fling herself through it, ending about a hundred meters away from Downfall.
That didn't accomplish much, except for giving her a couple of seconds to think while he tried to locate her. I can't run forever, he'll kill me. I need to stop him.
When Downfall found her, he immediately made his own portal right next to her and jumped through. She managed to fling herself out of the way at the last second, then send an energy blast at him. She hit him right in the middle of the torso.
To no visible effect.
He kept attacking, she kept desperately dodging. A different attack! A different attack! She focused, creating a two-meter-wide anvil five meters above the demon. He looked up, surprised, as the heavy object fell on him.
For a moment, she thought she got him. Then he got back up. He... He didn't even look scared when he saw it falling on him. But it -did- hurt him a bit, I think. Is he... fearless?
More dodging. For a few seconds, she lost him. She turned around to see him picking a car and throwing it at her. This time, she failed to block it.
Downfall looked at the girl. That car had hit her hard, he could tell. Probably a nice mix of broken bones, but was she really down for the count?
I'm bleeding. I'm hurt all over. I feel like my entire body is one huge bruise. I don't even have the strength to yell at the pain anymore. But she still managed to moan. I'd be dead if the shield hadn't lessened the impact. But, Downfall...
The demon stood in front of her, a triumphant smile on his monstrous face. "Any last words, you pathetic failure?"
I'm going to die here. But I can't. I already put mom and dad through this once; I can't do it to them again. Junko still needs me. My research still needs me. The world still needs me! "Only this much: I can't die yet."
With that said, she sent the most powerful plasma blast she could muster right into Downfall's face.
He flinched a bit, and his face did look a little charred, but he was still there. "Just for that, I'm going to make your death slow, you pitiful wretch!"
No. NO! I have to... somehow...
She noticed the power lines.
Downfall was making his move.
She focused hard. A copper wire, the result of her magic, appeared out of thin air - one end wrapped around the power line, the other end right above Downfall. It fell down and connected.
Downfall screamed. A blood-chilling scream of shock and pain as he threw his arms in the air and began rolling on the ground, the wire still electrocuting him. She took that opportunity to fly up in the air (while being very careful with her body. It hurt.), and send more blasts at him.
Finally, the electrocution stopped. He looked up, only to be greeted by a large anvil falling on his face. Finally deciding that he'd had enough, he somehow managed to get back on his feet, then generate a portal to escape through. A moment later, his head reappeared through the portal: "Don't think it's over, Soul! You surprised me this time, but I'll be back for round 2 - and this time around, there won't be any miracles, you little worm! You have not seen the last of Downfall!" Only then did he pull his head back behind the portal and let it close.
Eriko looked at the area. So much damage and destruction... but she couldn't deal with it. She felt she could fall unconscious any moment now. With her remaining strength, she opened a portal to Castle Nexus right beneath her body, and allowed herself to fall through it.
"<Oh God oh God oh God. She's alive. She has to be alive.>"
"<She is.>" Mother Aurora reassured Junko. "<Her shield, while it still requires much improvement, prevented the attack from being truly lethal.>"
"<She... She needs to go to the hospital. Or... Can your magic help her?>"
"<I am the Fairy Queen. There are few things my magic cannot do.>" Over the next minute, more noble magic than Eriko had ever used was applied to her body, causing a healing process that would normally take weeks to operate fast enough to be seen by the naked eye. She opened her eyes, seeing Mother Aurora hovering in front of her, and Junko watching from behind, looking both terrified and hopeful.
"<You did well, for a novice>" said Mother Aurora. "<While you failed to destroy Downfall's physical form, you put a halt to his rampage, and that is a good start.>"
"<His... physical form?>"
"<He is a demon, an evil spirit. Destroying his body might merely force him to create a new one, though that would be a good start.>"
"<He... can't be killed?>"
"<Not that easily. Permanently disposing of a demon is... probably outside of your competence, I'm afraid.
But that is not the issue. Manners of dealing permanently with the threat to the universe, while outside your scope, will be discussed as soon as is reasonable. For now, rest - one cannot guess when the next crisis will rear its ugly head.>"
As Mother Aurora portalled out of Castle Nexus, Junko hesitatingly stepped closer to her friend. "<You... You were amazing back there, Eriko. Fighting off that huge monster, and winning... You're a real heroine. You...>" She paused when Eriko looked at her, tears streaming down her cheeks and her teeth clenched in anguish.
Eriko forcefully hugged Junko and began crying.
"In retrospect, it is amazing that you survived your first fight with Downfall, inexperienced as you were."
"Bite me, El Douchebaggio.-"
"In hindsight... It's hard to believe how scary Downfall looked back then. These days, knowing more about the dangers out there... For that matter, realizing how Downfall really is... Well, he just doesn't seem as impressive anymore. But back then, he was this huge monster who almost killed me."
"Cut the creepy silence already, will you?"
"I speak when I have something to say, Soul."
Author's Notes: Well, there you go - Soul's first villain, first battle, and first public appearance! I hope people enjoyed it.
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