The Great Seal
It’s been a long time since I first became the Great Seal.
Before then, it was just me (Minato Arisato, in case you want to know) and my friends – collectively known as the ‘Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad’ (I suspect the name probably has something to do with Mitsuru). With our Personas, we fought against the Dark Hour – a hidden 25th hour in the day – in order to prevent the resident Shadows from causing Apathy Syndrome worldwide.
Although our struggle was long and arduous, we eventually managed to triumph over the Dark Hour. In order to do so, I used the power of the Universe Arcana to seal away Nyx – the goddess of the night – in order to prevent her from kickstarting the end of the world.
And here I am, acting as her physical barrier, forever doomed to endure an eternity of nothingness so humanity has a chance to heal from the Dark Hour. Unable to live out whatever semblance of a normal life I may have been able to have. But, you know what? I don’t really mind.
Throughout my ‘journey’, as Igor liked to put it, I made countless bonds between a myriad of different people, including each and every one of my teammates. They’re what gave me the strength to create this roadblock in the first place. I, uh, actually used to be a pretty apathetic and uncaring person myself, but together they taught me what it really meant to live life. And I’ll stand here, as Nyx’s Great Seal, for however long it takes so that humanity can grow past their grief.
So long as my friends can live on for the rest of the days… I don’t really mind being here.
…though admittedly, it does get a little lonely up here.
I can’t exactly move, or eat, or drink, or… do much of anything, actually.
And it doesn’t help that I’m being constantly ravaged by Erebus.
Who’s Erebus, you ask? According to Elizabeth, he’s the physical manifestation of all of humanity’s grief, or something. In order to start the end of the world (we call it the Fall), he needs to make contact with Nyx. Which is why I need to act as a Great Seal – so that Erebus can’t do that.
Of course, that means that I have to endure his Final Boss-worthy attacks because the damn idiot doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘give up’. I mean sure, it’s not like I ever gave up on my goals either, but still. I may be a giant stone wall and I can’t actually die, it’s not very fun for me to go through. I can’t even fight back with any of my Personas, anyway.
Luckily, I usually don’t have to wait this out for too long.
A familiar Almighty explosion lit up my surroundings (which is very, very ‘space-y’, for lack of a better term to use) and Erebus roared in pain, as it had a number of times before. Casually walking behind the demon was Elizabeth (though I like calling her Liz) – my attendant from when I was a guest of the Velvet Room, and one of my ‘best friends’, to put it lightly.
She’s a platinum blonde, yellow-eyed woman clothed in velvet blue. She’s what one might consider to be fairly quirky – not to mention upbeat, a little oblivious, and very curious about a lot of human nature.
In the year I had before my ‘death’ of sorts, we spent quite a lot of time with each other – me fulfilling her quests, taking her out on dates, even just chatting in the Velvet Room every now and then… and eventually, we developed a very close bond together.
Yeah. A very close bond.
…okay, so maybe it was a lot closer than just that.
…like, bedroom closer.
A-Anyway, she often comes about every few months (or years, time kinda flows wonky in this place) in order to give me a little bit of company. I do really appreciate the time she takes to come over, curb-stomp Erebus, and just talk a bit. She’s actually been searching for a way to try and free me from this prison – and though I’m pretty sure she won’t be getting there any time soon, I know she will someday, and I’m glad she’s trying so hard to find a way.
(Though, a part of me hopes it’ll be before I won’t get an opportunity to see the rest of my friends again. That’d… really suck, especially after all I’ve done for the world.)
“You know, it’s getting harder to come up with appropriate places in which to defeat you,” she nonchalantly taunted Erebus. In her hand, her Persona Compendium opened up, flipping through several pages. “Maybe this time I should take you to Jupiter? Or perhaps Saturn?”
Erebus turned and just growled incoherently at Elizabeth. As usual, her words were as sharp and carefree as ever. That’s what I love about her.
“Don’t worry, Minato,” she called back to me. “I’ll be back in a bit. I just have to take care of this nuisance again~”
A large, blue magical circle appeared under Erebus, and it fell straight into it. Liz being Liz, she dramatically hopped in after the disoriented final boss, shouting “Tally-hooooooooo!” as she did so. Right after, the glyph disappeared, once more leaving me in total silence.
You know, I remember when my friends came here once, seeking answers for why I had to sacrifice myself. It took them quite a while to even get here and take down Erebus, if I do remember ‘seeing’ myself. (Though I don’t know why there was a second Anti-Shadow Weapon with them. They activated more after Aigis?)
I wonder how they would feel about Elizabeth just showing up without any trouble and one-shotting it.
Then again, I’m pretty sure they also know how ridiculously strong Liz can be (hopefully), so maybe they wouldn’t be too offended.
The bout of silence continued on a little bit longer. Again, it can get pretty boring up here. It’s usually just me and my thoughts up here (and sometimes my Personas, though not often), counting sheep or reminiscing or otherwise just dreaming. I’m sure that if any other guy was in my position, they’d have gone insane very, very quickly.
Which was probably why I’m best suited for the position. I’m not exactly ‘any other guy’, after all. I’ve got the power of the Universe to keep me somewhat protected, my Personas give me some semblance of company, and I’ve got a loving girlfriend who tries her best to keep me comfortable (as best as I can be when I’m a door, anyway).
If I’m honest, though… a part of me kind of wants to see the blue sky again. To feel the warm air against my skin again. To frolic around with all my friends again, just like the good old days.
Heh… Those days feel like they were an eternity ago, I thought. I only wish I could experience them again.
Hmmmm… This is giving me some ideas for poetry. Due to the lack of any physical activities to do, I’ve taken to mentally writing a few pieces of literature – poems, for example – in order to keep myself entertained beyond talking with my Personas and Elizabeth’s visits. Maybe, it’d go like…
Remember the times,
How we laughed and joked around?
Yeah, the soul is unbound!
Yeah, that sounds just about right. Nice and catchy, too. You could use it as a verse for a dancing game’s opening song, or something.
The magic circle opened back up, and Liz jumped back out, exclaiming “Woo-hoo!” in classic Elizabeth fashion. She landed right in front of me, raised her arms in the air, and declared “Ta-daaaaaaaaaa!”
I would have smiled if I could physically do so. “Hey, Elizabeth,” I mentally greeted.
“It has been quite a while since my last visit, no?” she casually commented. “I’ve learned quite a bit in that time, and seen a lot of places. I must admit, the whole ‘stowing away’ tactic is a very thrilling one indeed, especially with what it teaches you! Did you know that people put their content in boxes? I wonder why. Surely, humans are strong enough to carry it all themselves. Don’t you think so?”
I chuckled. Even after all this time, Elizabeth was still very much the same. And I don’t really mind, to be honest. “I’m more interested in why you decided to stow away, to be honest. It doesn’t seem like an action you’d really need to take.”
“I thought it would be fun!” Liz replied cheerfully. “I may be on a journey of my own, but who says I can’t indulge myself here and there? But enough about that. I have some great news!”
Oh? This is new. Normally we just talk about general things, what’s been going on with my former teammates, and where she’s been to since last time, and watching as she finds new and creative ways to beat up Erebus. I wonder what type of new developments she’s made since the last time she came?
“You see, sometime ago another Wild Card went on his own journey! There was something about some supernatural fog and a burger spree. Order spree? Murder spree? …yes, I think that last one was it. I believe it was caused by a mythical goddess, if what my sister says is correct.”
“A goddess?” I asked, a little surprised. “You mean, like Nyx and Erebus?”
“Why, yes. You’re as perceptive as ever, Minato,” Elizabeth said. “In fact, it was even Izanami – one of the original Japanese gods. Apparently, it was a bid by her to understand the true desires of humanity, and the end result involved her being defeated by the new Wild Card and his group of friends. Interesting, no?”
That caught my interest. There were more deities willing to test humanity for whatever dumb purpose? Admittedly, that kind of… unsettled me. A lot.
I mean, look at what I already had to sacrifice in order to save the world. I… I don’t want to see others have to be in my position, too.
“…did the new guy at least survive his own journey?” I found myself asking. I had to know, at least. I mean, the only threshold I had for Wild Card journeys was my own, and considering how that ended…
“It was a fairly close incident, Margaret tells me—“ And it was here where my breath metaphorically hitched. My mind automatically started to stress out, a stream of possibilities welling up and running through my head. Please, don’t tell me…!
“—but yes, he and his close bonds lived through their ordeal, and in fact, they seem closer than ever.” I mentally breathed a sigh of relief. That was good. I wouldn’t be having more doors joining me.
…man, that sounds a lot weirder when I think it out loud.
“Well, I’m happy he’s fine,” I said sincerely. Really, at least he’d be able to live life the way I couldn’t. “But, uh… What exactly does this have to do with your ‘good news’, Liz?”
“Oh, right! Well you see Minato, Izanami was using her powers a great deal over, so it left quite a bit of residue over all of Inaba. Using my own status as a ruler of power, I managed to collect all the excess power into my Compendium.” And I’m not gonna even question how she managed to do that. “And studying it has shown me a large number of possibilities with which to do with it!”
A large number of possibilities, eh? I honestly wonder what kind of opportunity she’s found here.
“You see, part of Izanami’s power involved being able to split herself into multiple bodies, along with the ability to create some form of life. So I figured, if we combined the remnants I gathered with your own Universe Arcana, I think we can create a new body for your mind to inhabit while still guarding the Great Seal!”
A veritable amount of shock went through my crucified body. “…R-Really, Liz?” I said, feeling a glimmer of hope for the first time in a long time. “Y-You actually found a way?”
“That I have!” Liz confirmed with gusto. “Of course, there might be a few side-effects from doing so. I believe this may come as a result of the differences between Izanami’s power and yours, but I’m certain it won’t be anything too bad.”
Despite Elizabeth’s statements, that sounded kind of… ominous. Like, what kind of consequences could result from this strange fusion? Gods and deities are nothing to trifle about, after all – and I’m not certain how Izanami would react to her power being used like this, if she catches wind of it somehow.
But… this was Elizabeth. I trust her. And I can tell she really wants me to try, at the very least.
And despite whatever consequences may come from this…
…I’ll face it head on.
After all, didn’t Igor tell me all that time ago to ‘take responsibility for the choices that I make’ (or a similar phrase, anyway)? This won’t be anything too different.
“Alright, Liz,” I decided to agree. “I’ll give it a shot.”
“Wonderful!” Liz’s face lit up with glee. It was a look that I’d forever treasure. “Let’s get started, shall we? Just imagine the card of your Arcana appearing before you, and we’ll begin from there!”
I concentrated hard, focusing my mind upon calling up the combined powers of my Personas. In front of my body materialized a familiar tarot card, its number reading XXI – ‘The World’. Or, in this case, ‘The Universe’.
Elizabeth walked up to the card, opening up her Compendium right beneath it. “This may or may not tingle!” she casually warned, that smile still radiating off her face.
On cue, the familiar glyphs of Persona fusion appeared in the air. Particles of varying sizes emitted from the grimoire’s glowing pages, all coalescing toward the form of my tarot card. Soon, the card began to glow whiter and whiter, spinning rapidly as the particles moved even faster.
Finally, my tarot card flew high into the air before diving straight down toward the Compendium’s open pages. The second the card hit the book, a white, blinding light filled the entire region around me.
My last thoughts before I was completely engulfed were, I hope this turns out well.
Unbidden, a groan emitted from my mouth.
I froze. Wait… I groaned?
My eyes opened up, and I experimentally brought my hand to my face and wiggled the fingers. It reacted exactly as expected. All the feeling in my body had been restored, as if I had never been dead for any period of time.
Pushing myself off the ground, I stood up and analyzed myself. I looked the same as I had been before I had died. My Gekkoukan uniform was perfectly intact: a black suit, a white dress shirt underneath, and a black sort-of-tie around my collar. My belt, dress pants, and shoes were there too. I guess creating a new body comes with all sorts of bonuses, like your own clothes back.
Unfortunately, my headphones and MP3 player were nowhere to be seen -- but that’s probably because they were more personal accessories than actual clothing. That was a bit… depressing, but I can always get another pair when I return to the real world.
…speaking of the real world, where am I? This doesn’t exactly look like the Great Seal, or anywhere I’ve ever been before.
My eyes darted around. I was standing on some sort of pathway made out of the fabric of a red, regal carpet, a black outline hanging off both sides. Four red square gateways lay in front of me, with a circular platform at the end of said path, along with three large arches standing away from the platform. To the sides were an endless encompass of clouds, and I knew walking off would lead to a long, long fall.
The location of the place suddenly sprang up in my mind, unbidden by my own thoughts.
“Yomotsu Hirasaka, huh?” I muttered. I remembered that name, having heard it once while I was studying some textbooks for information on my Personas. The place in mythology represented the entrance to the underworld, where Izanami herself resided.
It didn’t take a genius to figure out why I had been sent here. So, Izanami wants to see me, huh? Whatever the goddess wanted, I could only pray that it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle.
I started walking forward. This place was unsettlingly empty – in both appearance and sound. I could hear my footsteps somehow echoing loudly as I went. “You gods really know how to make places as creepy as hell,” I grumbled. Like, was that a requirement for being a deity, or something? Nyx had the top of Tartarus, Erebus had the Abyss of Time (or so Elizabeth says it was called)… I swear they just really get off on making the evilest final dungeons around.
Eventually, I reached the end of the path, and saw a figure standing in the middle of the platform. Said figure turned around, revealing a beauty that was almost otherworldly to look at.
It was a red-eyed woman with wavy gray hair and skin as pale as a corpse. Her well-endowed body was covered by a long, flowing white robe, adding to her ethereal appearance.
Based off recent contextual events, it didn’t take long for me to figure out who this woman was.
“Hmm… Another Wild Card, are you?” the goddess (Izanami) stated, her eyes having a questioning spark within them. “Yet, I can sense that you are not like the one I tested myself. You have already found your own truth, long ago. So why have you persisted in coming to this realm, if it is not to judge your own worth?”
I need to make sure my answers are succinct and respectable – this is a goddess we’re talking about, after all. “A friend sent me here,” I answered, “in order to see if I could send my consciousness to another body while my real one is… indisposed.”
“Indisposed?” For a moment, her confusion seemed to deepen, until understanding lit her eyes. “Ah, that’s right… You are that human; the one that made strides within our little community of deities. The one who sacrificed himself in order to prevent the destruction of the lower world. The one who managed to seal away Nyx herself in an unpassable gateway.”
“Yeah, that’s me,” I confirmed, looking a little sheepish. Gods and goddesses themselves know of my deeds? Huh. That makes me both proud and a little worried. “Minato Arisato. It’s… nice to meet you.”
“Likewise. I believe you know my true identity already, but for the sake of politeness, I shall tell you anyway. I am Izanami, one of the original gods of Japan. I must say, it is certainly a wonder how your friend managed to send you to me. I do not recall giving my location out to anyone.”
“Oh, uh, my friend—Elizabeth—managed to gather residue bits of your power from Inaba, and we combined them with my own power to see what results it’d give us.”
“Residue power…? Hmm… Perhaps I should have been more careful how I handled activating all the latent Persona abilities,” Izanami lamented. “Judging by how this… ‘Elizabeth’ was able to gather my power, she must be one of those Velvet Room attendants. How… troublesome.”
I chuckled a bit. That’s Elizabeth for you. Always finding an efficient way to irritate those unused to her presence, even if it’s not on purpose.
“In any case… so Elizabeth seeks a new body for you to use? That is well within my power to perform, though I usually do not do it for free. However, I must admit: You do interest me, much like the other children I encountered earlier. So I will grant you this one gift, with a price.”
I deadpanned, “I won’t have to fight you for it or anything, will I?”
“Oh no,” she answered. “I am-- what’s the word… a little exhausted from my recent excursions, so I am not too keen on giving another challenge at the given moment. Besides, you have gone through much hardship already, so I believe this present will be very much obliged.”
Well, she’s not exactly wrong. It’d be cruel to have an opportunity to live again just to have it yanked out of my grasp. Still, though… “What kind of ‘price’ are you asking for, anyway?” I inquired. Best to ask now, before I get any unwelcome surprises.
“It won’t be too much,” she dismissed, waving a hand in the air. “If I am to give you a new body to use, it must be one that suits my tastes as a goddess.”
Suits… her… tastes? And here I was hoping I could just have my normal body back without worry.
“You see, your rather haphazard combining of powers means that you have the potential to be my avatar figure of sorts.”
“Your… ‘avatar figure’?” I wondered aloud. That sounded something akin to what Ryoji was to Nyx, but it wouldn’t hurt to get a deeper explanation. “C-Can you explain that?”
“Hmm… I thought such a topic would need no explanation,” Izanami chided, “but I suppose it cannot be helped. Since you now hold my own power within you, your body needs to truly be representative of its ownership, in order to take full advantage of it. You have been rather lucky so far that your Universe Arcana was so accommodating to the blending of powers.”
Heh… I… really did dodge a bullet there, didn’t I?
“So… what kind of body will you be giving me?” I asked, unable to stop a nervous look from appearing on my face. “I, uh… want to be sure it isn’t anything too bad…” Gods and goddesses are known to be rather… finicky, at times, so it was only right for me to be concerned for my own health. What kind of caveats could this come with?
Izanami laughed heartily. “Oh, do not fear, Wild Card,” she assured me, a smile on her face. “There won’t be any debilitating effects for you to worry about. Rather, you’ll just have to get used to some more… different changes.” Well, excuse me if that statement doesn’t really assure me in any way. “Consider it a look on the distaff side of life. After all, I know you males love to concern yourselves with the desires of us women…”
And that basically told me all I needed to know. A furious blush lit up my face, my eyes carefully avoiding Izanami’s gaze. “U-Uh, I-I don’t really think—“
Before I could speak another word, the goddess approached my form, her robes still billowing brilliantly behind her. She put a hand on my shoulder, and I felt a surge of power well up through me again, my body even glowing a bright white.
Without warning, my clothes were swept away in the blink of an eye, disintegrating into various particles as if they had never been there. This had the side-effect of leaving me utterly naked – right in front of Izanami.
“H-Hey!” I stammered, losing my stoic composure. S-Seriously? This is how she planned to do this!? “Y-You couldn’t have kept my clothes or anything!?”
“You have no need to look so flustered,” Izanami continued as if she hadn’t just disintegrated my clothes. “There is nothing there that I haven’t already seen in all of humanity.”
I felt a little offended at that. Just a little.
That dissipated the second the second I started feeling a tingling feeling in my hair. Smiling, Izanami summoned a gargantuan, ornate mirror to the side of me, directing my attention toward it. “Don’t look so worried,” she said to me. “Just sit back and enjoy the show.”
Before my very eyes, my hair began to shorten, the bangs moving away from my face and no longer covering my eyes. (Damn, I could’ve gotten several more ‘left eye’ jokes, too…) In the mirror, I noticed the pigments in my hair darken, turning a solid shade of black.
The tingling feeling moved to the rest of my body. Similarly to my clothes, all of the body hair on me disappeared. “Can’t have any ugly hair on my avatar now,” Izanami stated. My skin complexion lightened too, showcasing a brighter, shinier texture on my body as a result. Of course, it wasn’t just for show; my whole body felt a lot more sensitive now. I could practically feel the cold breeze against it now, and let me tell you, that was pretty uncomfortable.
“W-What kind of changes are you going to make?” I couldn’t help but ask.
Izanami simply smiled again, enigmatically saying “It won’t hurt. Trust me.”
I felt my face begin to morph. A shrinking feeling came over my nose, and in the mirror I watched as it became more petite. My chin similarly caved in, leaving my face much rounder. A plump feeling descended on my lips, and I noticed they had become fuller with lipstick that had not been there before.
Finally, I felt my eyes accumulate some sort of stressful feeling. On instinct, I closed them and rubbed them with an arm. When I opened them back up again, the irises had widened, transforming from steel blue to a vibrant green. My eyelashes had similarly become more elongated, consequentially drawing much more attention toward my admittedly beautiful eyes. My masculine appearance, I realized, was quickly becoming a thing of the past, judging by my increasingly more feminine expression.
I watched my face reflect a worried expression. It almost seemed unreal – where I expected myself, now there only showed a teenage girl’s face. Instinctively, I gulped, feeling something recede down my throat. “You’re… You’re actually turning me into… a girl…?” I asked, before bringing a hand to my mouth in shock. My voice was plenty more girlier, going up several octaves.
“It wouldn’t do for my avatar to be a male, after all,” Izanami stated. “No, my avatar must have beauty that rivals my own. You won’t even need to put on any of the ‘make-up’ you humans use so much.”
That was so the least of my concerns, but it was too late to try to get her to back out now. When goddesses get going, it takes a lot to make them stop – and I currently didn’t have the strength to do that. “A-At least t-there’s that,” I stammered, unused to the way my voice was now intoning.
The tingling feeling returned, this time rummaging through my hands. I zoomed my hand out a bit, examining the changes as they happened. My fingers slimmed down, becoming fairly daintier, and I wiggled them around in faint fascination. The sensation moved on to my arms, applying the same effect to my arms. (Great, I was pretty proud of the muscles I had built up.)
As my arms felt much lighter and more athletic, I felt my masculine physique sink back into my body. At the same time, my thighs caved in and my hips grew in tandem, giving me a sort of hourglass figure fit for a woman. Looking back in the mirror, I witnessed a halfway confused, flat-chested girl from the waist up, the white-robed goddess still hovering to her side.
While my legs became curvier and shapelier, with my feet due to follow, a swelling sensation suddenly surged from within my ass region. I clasped both my hands against my cheeks, and flushed as they swelled and pushed against my palms. “T-This feels… w-weird,” I muttered.
Looking back in the mirror, I saw a virtual lightbulb visibly going off in Izanami’s head. “Ah, I almost forgot,” she suddenly said, snapping her fingers in realization.
Right after, I felt my insides practically start tumbling around and rearranging themselves, forcing me to bend over in order to try and contain my nausea.
“W-What did… you d-do?” I gasped.
“Oh, I merely reorganized your organs and reproduction systems,” the goddess nonchalantly explained. “You should be feeling some of the after-effects right about… now.”
Another feeling went through my body, directly targeting my… ‘pride and joy’, to put it lightly. Immediately, my head dropped down to stare, and I watched in half-fascination, half-horror as my crotch began to dramatically shrink in size. It was… actually pretty interesting to both witness and feel, trust me on that – it was almost sensual in nature. (Which… made sense, considering what was happening.)
As my manhood shrunk to a tiny nub, it finally regressed entirely into my body, making weird slushing noises in the process. In response, a fresh slit formed up where my crotch used to be, sending waves of pleasure down my spine. Just to be sure, I prodded the general region where my vagina now resided, and the near-orgasm I had confirmed it. I was officially a girl.
“Hmm, you’re coming out quite fine,” Izanami noted. “Only one more step remains to be completed now.”
My own common sense directed me to look at my currently flat chest, and I knew that in just a few seconds that was going to change. A sensation spun around beneath my chest, and before my very eyes, I watched two breasts begin to inflate like balloons at a festival. I could feel my growing breasts spring around too, being unbound by my lack of clothing (thanks Izanami).
When these supple mounds of flesh finally stopped growing, I went and cupped them in my hands, bouncing them up and down. I felt a little sexually pleased by this action, actually. While they weren’t as huge as other girls I’ve seen (Mitsuru comes to mind), they still made me blush with excitement. Was… was this how other girls felt like, every day? If so… I don’t think I ever want to let it go.
Izanami walked around me, her eyes sternly analyzing every bit of my transformed body. Without warning, I notice her face light up. Evidently, another idea had popped into her head. Without any words, she snapped her fingers again.
A flurry of sparkles spun all about my form, and following afterwards were a collection of accessories materializing onto various parts of my body. Surprised, I looked back into the mirror to see what had shown up.
A blue officer’s cap had been placed on my head, adorned with a yellow badge. Some sort of red choker lay around my neck, a small yellow lock hanging off of it. The lock didn’t feel like it was holding my collar in place… so was it just decoration? I didn’t really know.
Fingerless gloves striped black, white, and red covered my arms, reaching almost to my shoulders. The rims of the gloves were tightened by black laces, automatically tied together through magic. They were… actually rather comfortable to wear, despite the strange fashion choice.
My stockings were no slouch, either – they alternated between black and white colors, and reached far up my thighs. On my feet were also the longest pair of high-heeled boots I had ever seen, showcasing a subtle checkerboard pattern that was actually rather pleasing to the eye.
Overall, despite the fact that I wasn’t wearing any lingerie, I have to admit – I looked good.
After staring for a while, Izanami leaned back, a satisfied smile appearing on her face. “You look perfect,” she praised, looking truly pleased with herself and me. “You truly are deserving of being the avatar of my own powers now.”
“Y-You really think so?” I stammered, my face once more flushing bright red, my eyes looking off to the side in slight embarrassment. “T-Thanks, I guess.” I shivered a bit – there may not have been any wind, but having no clothes on meant that I was going to be cold anyway. “C-Can I at l-least some c-clothes now, a-at least?”
“One thing at a time, my avatar,” Izanami said. “First off, I need to explain to you the new powers you have been given, next to your already existing power of the Universe.”
Oh, right. Her and my power were combined. Obviously, that would’ve given me something new.
“As my avatar, you will find you have been given a goddess’s level of strength, defenses, and energy reserves,” she began to explain. “Your physical and mental strength can be compared to that of several deities, which is no small feat.” Mmm, that sounds a lot like what Elizabeth can do. I guess we’re basically kindred spirits now.
She continued, “You can now command every element – including Almighty spells – at your whim, and similarly resist the elements that can be thrown back at you.” Mass resistance to everything? And Curse spells? Sign me up! “There are plenty of other abilities you now possess as well, several of them able to distort reality to your likings. I believe you will find them quite interesting to experiment with.”
That really didn’t sound all too bad! Sure, I have to deal with being a girl now, but hey! I get to be free, and I get free ultimate power out of it to boot. It’s a small price to pay, honestly.
“Wow,” I said, genuinely amazed. “I… I don’t really know what to say.”
“I don’t need any acknowledgements. I merely need you to go out and simply do your duty as my avatar. Give to humanity the true fruits of their desires, and show them the happiness we all know they can achieve. That is all.”
“Right.” I nodded, a determined look on my face. “Don’t worry. Humanity can live up to their full potential. Just watch. We’ll make it happen.”
Izanami smiled. “That’s what I’m counting on.”
And with that, white lit up my surroundings again, and I found myself being transported away.
The Great Seal
I found my body transported in into… wherever it is Izanami transported me to, and I made a grand entrance by triumphantly flumping onto the ground face-first.
…well, that was peachy, I thought sarcastically.
Gee, Izanami. You couldn’t have ported me in standing up?
“It worked!” I heard Elizabeth’s voice ring in my ear. “For a moment, I was afraid all my hard work would have been for nothing.”
I groaned, steadily lifting myself off the floor. “Elizabeth?” I muttered. “You there?”
“Minato!” Suddenly, I was yanked off the floor, feminine hands gripping my arms with excitement. I unwillingly yelped in surprise, turning my face to look at an ecstatic Elizabeth. “Oh, it really is you! I can always recognize the expressions on your face. They’re quite a vision!” Her face looked a little questioning, then. “You look quite different, though. Much more feminine, too. Did something happen?”
“You could say that,” I replied. “Izanami was rather… interested in me, so she gave me a body she designed herself so I could be her ‘avatar’, or something.”
“Hmm… Well, I must say, she most certainly knew how to craft a feminine body. I could definitely get used to this in our own ‘sessions’, if you know what I mean.”
“L-Liz!” I exclaimed, blushing red. “Y-You d-don’t have to p-put it that w-way!”
“Why not? It is not as if you are… unused to our sessions, after all. Will this really be all that different?”
“Well, I was a male for our make-out experiences,” I muttered embarrassed. “It’s gonna be weird getting used to being a girl for that…”
“I’m certain you’ll have nothing to fear!” Elizabeth said joyfully. “After all, I am a female, too! My many amounts of experience will be plenty enough for you to learn from. Plus, you are very attractive, too – you truly look worthy of being a fellow ruler of power.”
I looked down at myself. Luckily, Izanami seemed to have saw it fit to give me some actual clothes, though they did seem mismatched in some way. My hat, gloves, stockings, and heels remained the same, but now I wore a sleeveless white shirt, a black tie with various pins hanging around my collar.
A belt was attached to my waist, featuring a heart-shaped buckle with wings adorned to it. Beneath my shirt was a plaid skirt with checkered red-and-black colors. Finally, a velvet blue bag hung off my waist, and it was pretty heavy too, indicating that there were items inside already.
Sure, my outfit was halfway an affront to fashion, but again, it just really… suited me. I don’t know how or why I feel that way, I just… do.
And Liz likes it too, so that’s another positive point.
“A ruler of power, huh?” I said, smiling. I drew my attention toward my new bag. Seems like I’m already holding plenty of items, I thought. I wonder what’s in here?
“Oh, you have a bag!” Liz stated the obvious, equally as curious as I am. “They must be gifts from Izanami. They must be important. Maybe we can use them as target practice for Theo?”
I rifled through the bag, peering in to see its unknown contents. Inside were a few notebooks, a pencil pack, a wallet, some documents, a hefty hardcover book (with the binding reading ‘Being a Goddess for Dummies’), some sort of folded paper, and – the items that truly brought a smile to my face – a pair of headphones and an MP3 player.
“Ooh,” Liz cooed. “It’s like a starter pack specifically designed for you! Maybe I should get one too; it looks like a fun experience to go through.”
I chuckled. “You don’t really need it though, Liz,” I remarked. “You already know how to use your powers and live in the real world without… much trouble, anyway.”
“Much trouble?” Liz playfully pouted. “And what is that, pray tell, supposed to mean?”
I took out the paper – it seemed most important to look at – and unfolded it. I read its contents.
You should be receiving this letter alongside the other contents within your bag – which you may notice as being more spacious than a normal bag.
Because you have been the Great Seal for so long, I saw it fit to give you a few ‘welcoming back’ gifts so that you can get accustomed back into the world below. This includes several documents for identification and an instruction manual for your new powers. In addition, there are other gifts that are relevant to your interests – such as some notebooks and a music player. While I myself have no need for such things, and know not the reasons behind your interest in them, I have included them anyway for your convenience.
“Aw, look, Minato! How nice of her!” Liz commented, reading over the letter by my shoulder. “She seems like a nice individual when she’s not testing humanity.”
“It makes me wonder what other gods and goddesses are like off-duty,” I admitted. Izanami may have been that other Wild Card’s ‘Final Boss’, so to speak, but she did seem very accommodating too.
You will also find all your monetary resources from prior to your journey’s end restored, along with a little extra. This should allow you to get refamiliarized on Earth. Your documents should comprise of your new identity, a falsified history, graduation papers, and copious amounts of other important documents.
Hopefully, you should be able to perform a remarkable job as my avatar on Earth. I have faith that your actions will result in the betterment of humanity, even if it does not look that way at first. Also, please inform your friend not to take excess amounts of my power again without warning, at least. We do not want any unwelcome surprises, after all.
Idly, I pulled out the wallet inside – and true to Izanami’s words, my wallet was still bursting with over ten million yen and counting. (Tartarus was practically a money-making machine. I don’t think I’ll be going broke for a while.) Sifting through it, I eventually found my new ID, featuring a photo of my new appearance (I don’t know how Izanami got that) and my new name: Mariko Kusumi.
…it’s a nice name, I must admit.
“It certainly does suit you, you know!” Liz repeated my earlier thoughts. “I think I’ll call you Marie, though. Much more catchy on the tongue! Or is it snappy? Hmm…”
While Elizabeth continued her pondering, I thought over her proposed nickname. Marie. I like it. I’m probably never really going to be Minato Arisato again, that’s for sure, seeing as how I’ve been declared legally dead… but I think being Mariko Kusumi wouldn’t hurt at all.
It’s a new opportunity, after all. I finally get to live again.
And with Elizabeth by my side, I’m certain that everything will be all right.
“…well, it doesn’t really matter,” my faithful attendant concluded. “There’s so much that we can do now, now that you’re finally free! We can go shopping, dance, karaoke, mess with Theo – oh, the possibilities are just never ending!”
I smiled – Liz’s happiness was just so infectious, and I didn’t blame her at all. In fact, I could feel a poem coming on already:
Dreams lift us up and carry us around,
Always making sure to leave us unbound.
Through our desires, be them fleeting or deepening,
We’ll find that they’ll be for the taking.
…so maybe this poem’s a bit amateurish. I don’t care! The heights of my glee can practically reach the heavens, if you couldn’t tell from the way I worded my little verse.
You’d probably never understand unless you had to deal with this (and trust me, you really don’t want to).
I glanced back at my old body for a moment – it was still there, crucified to that massive door… but no longer did I need to be physically chained to it. It was… liberating.
I started, “So, we’ve got the whole world at our fingertips now. Where to first, Liz?”
“Oh, I already have an idea!” Elizabeth stated. “We just need to pick something up and we’ll be good to go!”
“Pick something up? Can’t wait to see what you’ve got,” I vocalized. Whatever she does, I’ll go with it every step of the way.
This is going to be great.
This is going to suckkkkkk, so baddddddd.
“Come on, Marie~!” Elizabeth sang again to me. “You can come out! It won’t be toooooo bad~!”
“Easy for you to say, Liz,” I expressed, my face furiously flushing red. “You’re not the one who was just recently turned into a girl.” I was pretty sure Liz couldn’t see my expression right now, but I’m certain she was imagining it in her head perfectly.
Turns out that the ‘something’ she wanted to pick up was swimwear that fitted me perfectly. Oh, you better bet I tried getting out of it, but Liz proved herself to be… very persistent. (Not a lot unlike me, actually.)
So here I was, in the dressing room at Miura Beach, clad in nothing but a black summer bikini, with Liz trying to get me to work up the nerve to come out. I know that there’s a lot of things she wanted to do together now that we were able, but did this have to be the first thing on her list?
I felt as exposed as I had been with Izanami!
And I was far more naked then!
“Oh come on, Marie!” Liz crowed, clearly enjoying my discomfort. “I remember you were fine with this when you want to Yakushima that one time. You remember, right? You, in your swimsuit, trying to pick up other girls…” Her voice was just so cheerful; I don’t even know how she does it all the time!
“T-T-That’s d-different!” I stammered out, my blush growing steadily worse. Liz really knows how to lay it on me… “I was a boy then, w-w weren’t dating, t-there’s a l-lot of d-different variables there!”
“I’m pretty sure some of the same principles still apply. You were pretty courageous then, why can’t you come out now?”
I groaned loudly and dramatically. I really don’t want to go out, but… I suppose I was going to have to deal with a lot of situations like this now that I’m a girl. So…
…let’s do this.
Reluctantly, I opened the door and awkwardly shuffled out, holding my breasts under my arm in stark embarrassment. I had no doubt that I looked very attractive right now – which only added to my reluctance.
Elizabeth cooed with joy. “Aw, look at you, Marie! You look gorgeous!” Similarly to me, Liz was wearing a pink bikini that was actually kind of smaller than her breasts themselves. Clearly, she was well experienced in drawing people’s gaze (including mine’s, if I actually have to admit it).
“Y-Yeah, I guess I d-do,” I muttered, trying my best to avert my eyes toward a nearby wall. “Y-You’re not t-too bad, y-yourself.”
“Well, of course!” Liz grinned. “Is it not normal for humans to desire a virtuous appearance for others to see?”
“S-Some people,” I acknowledged, “b-but—“
“Then everything’s fine! Now, let us be offffffffffff~!”
And just like that, Elizabeth took me by the hand and dashed out of the dressing room. I yelped and tried to utter a protest, but it was just lost in the rushing winds. The two of us were quite the sight to look at; Liz bouncing with joy blindly toward the general region of the beach, and me just trying to hang on from Liz’s eternal reserves of boundless energy. (Like, seriously! She can move like hedgehogs, I swear!)
“S-Slow down, L-Liz!” I shouted.
“Why? This is fun!” came the predicable response.
Eventually, we both arrived at the beach, standing ankle deep in the middle of the sea. I clattered for a moment, unused to the cold bouncing against my skin after so long, but it didn’t take me long to get used to it. Elizabeth, meanwhile, looked barely winded (if at all) from the rush, and she still seemed very much lively.
“Look how beautiful today is!” Liz cheered, putting a hand on my hip and directing her hand toward the entirety of the beach. “The sun is shining bright, the sky is clear of clouds, and there’s just so much life here! Coming to the beach was a great decision!”
My nervous levels may still be through the roof, but I could tell Liz was ecstatic with being able to spend time with me, which did admittedly mitigate that a bit.
“You like it too, right, Marie?” Liz jolted me out of my thoughts. “I know you’re happy about this even if you don’t want to show it. Come on, show a smile!”
Liz’s enthusiasm, despite myself, rubbed off on me, and I found my lips twitching in response. Eventually, a full-blown smile did come onto my face. “I-It’s alright, I’ll admit…” I whispered.
“There you go!” Liz proclaimed, beaming in appreciation. She clapped her other hand on my shoulder. “Now, how about we go out swimming? I’ve always wanted to try that skill!” Letting go, Liz once more ran deeper into the waves, splashing all around as she went.
I let my smile go a little wider, feeling much calmer than before.
That’s my Elizabeth, I thought.
Well, like I said before… I suppose this won’t be too bad.
After all, I’ve got a lot ahead of me now. I can’t let worries define me now.
“Hey, wait up!” I called, running in after her.
Watch out, world… Marie’s here to live life her way!