A Soul Bond was a curious thing. It meant that in some previous life, you and someone else had loved each other enough to create a magic bond that would always connect you two together. Discovering a Soul Bond would often times reveal traits of yourself that had been hidden behind the veil of reincarnation.
Muscle memory would take effect (although it was debatable how much of it was muscle, and how much of it was the soul) and memories of skills you’d never learned could surface again, leaving you a simply ‘exceptionally skilled amateur’ if that Soul Bond were never discovered.
Consequently, discovering a Soul Bond sometimes made your mental maturity skyrocket as you began adapting skills normally learned later in life (Especially if, as was typical, the bond was discovered at a young age). This would lead people into doing things they normally wouldn’t be doing at their current age, or doing things with a relatively complete stranger that they had already turned down with people closer to them.
Things like deciding to ruin a Demonic Summoning ritual.
Shirou Tsubaki had not expected Miri Nori to come at him that day after class. He had not expected her to call upon him and confront him on his grade manipulation.
She was half naked. She was a Lycan and she was only wearing a skirt because it was one of those really hot days when all of the kids tended to forego most clothing, and so she just didn’t care. Her hands were on her hips as if trying to draw his attention down there, but really she was just being dramatic and posing without knowing what that was doing to him on the inside.
Normally when students complained, they usually acted a bit more professional… but even when they didn’t he could at least maintain enough professionalism for the both of them. But this girl. This girl he had to remain distant from. Because of the Ceremony that she didn’t know she’d be a part of…
He repeated that like a mantra.
He couldn’t break pattern even despite the alluring draw that he had no explanation for. She had been drawing his wandering eye ever since she joined his class like a magnet attracted metal.
She had been dividing his focus. He was MARRIED for Alcor’s sake.
He had a DAUGHTER who was this Girl’s FRIEND. (They still wanted her dead, though. Maybe he shouldn’t–)
She yelled something to grab his attention, and he was staring straight into her eyes. She reached out to poke him in the chest with one of those shiny blue claws and he batted her hand aside to prevent a cut on his robes.
And then there was an eruption of a golden aura.
A Soul Bond.
They were bonded?? That was a shock enough until the first hints of past-life memories began to surface. Memories that included a sudden understanding of Pre-Cataclysim writing. He began to understand what they were going to do, and more importantly:
What. They. Were. Going. To. Do. WRONG.
Oh, that… that would cause problems yes, but all of this had caused a whole slew of emotional conflicts for Shirou in that exact moment that weren’t related to those traditional problems.
He was SO screwed… But they’d all be in even worse trouble if he didn’t try to change things… and SOON.
Or things like thinking that sitting around in a room waiting for a trio of student intern detectives to rush out into the Unknown was just unbearable.
“This isn’t right,” Miri declared suddenly.
“Hm?” Tony frowned. “What isn’t?”
“Us. Just waiting here,” Miri elaborated. “It’s like… I feel like we should be out there with them.”
“Miri,” Tony said after a moment, “my arm is scratched up to uselessness because of that harpy and you are pregnant and thus can’t transform. We are simply not risking our lives stopping a demon summoning anytime soon whether we want to or not.”
“I get that but we were the only ones who stayed behind,” Miri huffed. “Even Tsukia got to go…” That was a mistake, Miri could feel it at the base of her tail as the hairs moved outwards from there- standing on end in response to a fear she didn’t quite understand.
“If only to test the theory that if her Mom’s there that maybe the whole thing could end peacefully,” Tony shook his head. “I’ll admit I’m with you in feeling like we should go, but this is too dangerous for us.” He waved his left arm around uselessly, “If I try shifting it could pop the stitches and then I’d start bleeding again and You can’t even shift right now so–“
“I know. I know!! But still,” Miri pouted. “I feel like we should be there.” Or at least, that she should be there. Damn it. Damn it all to the moons and back.
Muiri was sweeping in front of the Moon Shrine when Mikari Yuki and Tyler Obonz came walking up. Immediately, Mikari noticed that Muiri’s hair was no longer completely gray, but had black streaks through it. “Oh, hello dears,” She greeted kindly. “Can I do anything for you?”
“Where are Detectives Mayoi and Kaie?” Mikari asked.
“Why no, in fact, I haven’t seen either of them since you all came by this morning to first question us.” The woman simply wasn’t even bothering to maintain the facade at this point. Muiri’s lies could be smelled almost a mile away, neither of them needed Ayako’s heightened senses to know that.
“Really? So they never dropped by this afternoon before dinner to see a Demon Shrine?” Tyler asked.
“A Demon shrine?” Muiri asked. “I’ve never seen one of those in my life and if you’re insinuating-“
“Flame. Princess.” Mikari spat out each word, “Kyiahlnah.“
Muiri frowned, “How did you- no, I suppose Shirou left notes, didn’t he?”
“Actually,” Tyler answered, “your niece and nephew lead Ayako to the shrine while you trapped and kidnapped Kaie and Mayoi. We decoded which Demon you’re summoning from the runes left on the ground, which was very sloppy of you, by the way.” He narrowed his eyes, “We won’t ask again. What did you do with them?”
“By now they’re half submerged under the tides,” Muiri scowled at him. “Even if you run now, you’ll never rescue them in time.” And then she smirked, “Not that I’ll let you run.” She reached a clawed hand towards the clasps on her shrine dress, preparing to drop it in favor of shifting to her full Wolf form.
Mikari just smirked, “Well that’s just dandy, because we didn’t expect you to come quietly anyways.”
“You’re going to regret saying that, you Mizar-cursed PUP!” Muiri then threw off her robes as she began to shift- violently, especially when compared to Ayako’s earlier transformation.
There was something decidedly wrong to even the most untrained of eyes who had never even seen a Lycan transformation before.
A dark aura flared up from the eyes and the skin on her face simply tore from the suddenly extending bone and muscle. Her grey hair grew into grey fur that then shifted entirely into a pitch black color, like it was coated in some sickly, thick and gloppy lantern oil, and her eyes shone with a burning, violet-blue flame that told a wordless story as she howled a completely unnatural howl.
Mikari whistled sharply in response to this, and instantly, emerging from the shadows caused by the setting sun came Ayako, leaping forwards and delivering a powerful swiping strike to the older Lycan.
The sudden appearance of another Lycan left Muiri surprised enough to the point of being knocked backwards a few steps before regaining her balance. Not letting up for a moment, Ayako delivered an upwards swipe with her claws to Muiri’s chest. Ayako’s blue eyes shone briefly with the light of the moon Mizar, and her claws flashed red with the light of the moon Alcor’s magic. The contact hit, and then as Ayako leaped away, a mere split-second later, a phantom attack appeared, repeating the exact same motion to Muiri’s chest and staggering her for a second time.
The elder Lycan was not happy to say the least.
“Let’s go!” Mikari yelled out, and Lizzy and Tsukia came out from the same hiding spot Ayako had emerged from, rushing towards her and before she led them onward and forwards into the forest behind the Moons Shrine while Tyler stayed behind to keep an eye on the fight between the two Lycans.
[“DIE ALREADY, PUP!”] Muiri roared, bringing her hands up over her head into a formed club, and forced a magical flame into existence around them as she swung downwards towards Ayako.
[“NOT A CHANCE!”] Ayako ducked and rolled to her right, and Muiri’s attack caused the ground to explode on impact. Muiri glared and followed Ayako’s rolling with her eyes.
Ayako smirked as she braced her feet to stop, and then sprung forwards and upwards with a determined growl. With her smaller size compared to Muiri’s demon enhanced bulk, Ayako easily landed on Muiri’s shoulders and gripped firmly onto Muiri’s fur with her left hand before swinging down on the base of the elder Lycan’s neck with her right fist.
Tyler flinched as he heard the sound of actual bone splintering under the impact. Muiri’s zombie like appearance probably hinted that her bones were not as strong as they should have been, but the blow didn’t cause the desired effect due to Kyiahlnah’s influence.
Muiri reached upwards and tried to grab Ayako off of her back, [“GET OFF OF ME, PUP!”] Ayako just pulled sharply with her left hand- yanking out a handful of black fur that made Muiri slap at the spot instead- as she leaped off with a double kick to Muiri’s lower back.
Ayako rolled to a stop and growled at Muiri as the elder Lycan spun around to glare at her.
[“WHAT WAS THAT SUPPOSED TO ACCOMPLISH, PUP?”] Muiri growled. [“YOU CAN’T STOP ME WHEN MY PRINCESS EMPOWERS ME.”]
[“WHO SAID I WAS TRYING TO STOP YOU BY HAND?”] Ayako smirked, and then leaped across the yard in leaps and bounds towards Muiri- then ducked and rolled between her legs and then leaped away at incredible speeds towards Tyler. [“HEADS UP, BONESY!”] Ayako threw her left hand out and shoved the handful of fur into Tyler’s own left hand.
“Got it!” He grabbed the fur tightly and then rabbited away even as Ayako slid to a halt behind where he’d been standing a moment earlier, and then she began bounding straight back at Muiri before the elder Lycan had even finished turning around.
[“I’M JUST THE DISTRACTION, BITCH!”] Ayako roared with a fang-filled grin.
Tyler tried to ignore the sounds of Ayako fighting Muiri as he ran through the Twin Moons Shrine towards the binding circle that they’d planned on using for this contingency. Normally, the binding circle in question was used for restraining a Lycan inside directly. However…
“If Muiri’s made a deal with Kyiahlnah, she might be over powered beyond a normal Lycan,” Lizzy had sketched out a small but significant modification, then the very important addition, to the diagram of the shrine’s normal Binding Circle Miri and Tony had drawn. “If you add these symbols with blood here,” she tapped at the modified spot, “then add the hair here,” the new addition, “then it should transform a binding circle into a demon magic blocking circle centered on the target.” The Center of the Circle- the entrapped Eye.
‘Should’ was the key word, here. Lizzy had no real training in hot wiring runes like this, but Tyler was willing to trust her on this. She just had that quirk. That same quirk that had ended up bringing him to Mystryal.
“This has to work,” Tyler muttered as he took out a small knife and cut a small line across his palm to start a fresh flow of blood to draw with. He worked quickly, hearing the sounds of battle continuing distantly behind him.
It was downright near impossible, Ayako Mayoi knew by pure instinct rather than through learned knowledge, to try to outpace someone whose stamina was being augmented with an Ascended Demon’s magic.
Her senses were both dulled and amplified by the overwhelming sensations of a bond to another living being. Every action she took was being moderated and empowered by a desire to see him alive again.
Muiri Nori, on the other hand, was being pushed past her physical limits by a magical infusion from the Flame Princess Kyiahlnah. She shrugged off damage like it was nothing, and would definitely outlast Ayako in a prolonged match.
Fortunately, neither of them were planning on this fight being one.
Muiri swung her claws- trialing dark flames behind each finger. Ayako flung herself backwards and growled.
They were both beyond “Words” at this point. Every single growl and snarl had no meaning behind it beyond the simple lupine instincts that drove them to fight harder than they had been the moment before.
Spending prolonged time in Wolf mode was an interesting experience for Ayako. While Turned Lycans simply tended to be more aggressive from the get-go, as a Natural born Lycan who had spent a majority of her early life in her full on wolf mode, Ayako had developed a completely different mindset that surfaced once the adrenaline began pumping.
Where others would slowly get mad, rage filled and angry, and base all of their attacks on that rage based power, Ayako simply went silent and became Efficient. It all came down to how quickly could she solve a problem, and would it the most efficient way possible. Words meant nothing when in this state- just as they had meant little to her way back then when she’d culled the sickly sheep that smelled of poison. No words, just “Actions.”
Actions and Results.
Ayako had no clue what Muiri was going through at this exact moment because of that Demon Magic, but she suspected that Muiri’s attacks were still as precise and strong as they were at the beginning of the fight because of that Demon’s backing while Ayako herself was starting to slow down and make sloppier attacks due to a rapid onset of exhaustion.
Muiri probably wasn’t suffering that same drawback at the moment. But maybe in a few moments…? Still, as a trump card, Ayako had her own subtle power boost. Souls Bonds of old were said to have been used by combat couples during the Cataclysm War. Simply activating a bond would allow a larger, increased and shared pool of magic between the bonded parties.
Her stamina may have been waning, but Ayako pushed her attacks to have higher and higher magical damages. A Swipe here- a phantom Kick there. Once Tyler finished the ritual, the magic allowing Muiri to ignore the accumulated damage would stop. And then it would be the same fate that Tyler had deduced as Shirou Tsubaki’s cause of death: Defeat by a thousand cuts.
Still, though, this was one of the longer fights that Ayako had ever fought in her entire life. Stretching upwards towards the second minute mark, now. Previously, these things just ended within a minute. There was very little that could survive a direct assault from a healthy, energetic, young Lycan like Ayako. Especially one powered up by a recently reforged Soul Bond. Muiri just so happened to be one of those immovable walls meeting an unstoppable force. But that was okay, even with her limits drawing near, Ayako just had to hold out until Tyler finished with the rewriting of the–
[“GRAAAHH!! WHAT DID YOU DO!?”] Muiri suddenly clamped her hands to her head as a blinding pillar of emerald light shot out of the ground around her in a quickly forming Binding Circle.
The light just kept on going upwards and upwards before piercing a cloud and disappearing into the almost fully turned to night sky.
–And there was that Binding Circle Ayako had been waiting on.
Ayako bared her fangs in a smirk at Muiri, not that she could explain even if she wanted to at the moment. Her thoughts were still running in the fairly single-minded fashion of “Action = Result” at the moment. Time to remedy that.
Ayako took the reprieve in the fight’s closure to force her mind away from that pure mechanical state of mind, back towards something calmer. With every deep inhale and exhale, Ayako’s normal word-thinking mind reasserted itself as the adrenaline rush slowed to a halt.
That wasn’t the only thing that ended in that moment.
The fire extinguished from Muiri’s eyes in time with the emerald pillar fading away, although the binding circle remained for the moment. Suddenly, Muiri’s black fur began fading to grey again. The exposed bone and torn flesh on Muiri’s face suddenly began to bleed where it hadn’t before.
After a few moments- Muiri’s eyes locked with Ayako’s. [“You Fool,”] She whimpered, [“You don’t know what you’ve done.”]
[“So what?”] Ayako grinned, her tongue lolling out of her mouth for a few more precious pants of breath between growl-words, [“You’re under arrest!”]
The Modified Binding Circle finally transferred itself from the ground onto Muiri’s chest with a flash of emerald light, blotting out all of the Flame Princess’ powers, and allowing Muiri’s accumulated wounds to finally catch up with her.
All of that forced the older Lycan to shift back into her human form with a howl of anguished pain.
Ayako adverted her eyes as she waited it out.
It would be so easy to finish the job, that small part of the Action = Result thinking insisted, but that wasn’t how a detective worked. That wasn’t how they dealt with people like Muiri. That was never how things were done, even back home. To do such would…
Finally, Muiri’s cries of pain faded to whimpers as her body finished turning back, and Ayako looked for a moment only to glance away again, this time in disgust. That Demon Magic had its cost, and that previous face mutilation hadn’t magically undone itself.
Muiri would be very lucky if it would heal properly.
(It probably wouldn’t.)
Tyler came running back a few moments later, “Ouch…” He grimaced upon seeing Muiri’s face. “That… That looks like it hurts.”
Muiri whimpered in pain.
Ayako just sighed dramatically, [“It probably does.”]
“Why don’t you grab her robes for her,” Tyler suggested as he got out his set of rarely used handcuffs. “I’ll read Muiri her rights.”
[“I already started with the ‘you’re under arrest’ part,”] Ayako informed him, not that he understood her due to the full transformation of her mouth. His confused look only intensified when she started snickering.
Tony let out a breath he hadn’t quite realized he’d been holding, and a weariness he hadn’t quite felt started to settle in as his Magicka reserves began to rebuild. It was done. It was over.
“Ayako’s done it,” he reported, almost in a serene way.
“Done what?” Miri asked.
“Aunt Muiri’s down,” Tony answered.
“How do you-?” Miri then stopped as she realized. “The Soul Bond. Right?”
“Yeah,” Tony nodded. “I could feel the fight as it was happening… kinda. It was weird.”
Miri thought on that for a few moments. “I never felt anything like that,” She frowned. And with Shirou dead, she probably never would feel it ever in this lifetime.
Swimming through the incoming tide during sunset might have been considered romantic to some people and races, but Kaie never saw the appeal.
Mayoi just laughed as they swam out around the rocky cliffs towards the nearest piece of shore.
She was enjoying this for sure.
They hit land a few minutes later, just as Cypher started to touch down on the horizon. “Ugh… remind me to take it up with the chief to get our uniforms made waterproof,” Kaie grumbled as he considered stripping down to wring the water out of his clothes.
“Sure thing,” Mayoi shook her wings to get the water off. “So which way do you think we should go to get back?”
“Hmm…” Kaie blinked for a moment, then pointed inland towards what appeared to be an emerald pillar of light shooting upwards into the heavens. “That way.”
“Gotta love those kids and their magic tricks,” Mayoi cracked a grin. “Let’s go!”
“Right,” Kaie nodded, and with that, they set off running towards their destination.