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Monsters on Stage

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(See the bottom of this chapter for anyone marked with a symbol for an explanation of what they are. They’re not necessary to read, as it will likely be explained throughout stories, but if you’re curious, the information is there.)

Karen- doggirl
Hikari- catmoth (literally a fusion of a cat and a moth)
Mahiru- mermaid
Junna- elf
Nana- experimental magical construct*
Futaba- western dragon
Kaoruko- kitsune
Claudine- vampire
Maya- kitsune

Tamao- celestial spirit (underdeveloped)**
Ichie- trickster fae
Fumi- werewolf
Rui- demon
Yuyuko- dream collector***

Aruru- half elf
Misora- werewolf
Lalafin- living plushie bunny girl
Shizuha- demon
Tsukasa- fire elemental

Akira- celestial spirit**
Michiru- human (monster hunter)+
Mei Fan- eastern dragon
Yachiyo- fallen angel
Shiori- vampire

Koharu- human (monster hunter)+
Suzu- mermaid
Hisame- ghost

 

*Nana was an attempt to create a being purely of magic, with minimal physical substance to anchor her at first. Due to her creator being human, she ended up taking on a humanlike form, although she’s not completely stable in it. And since she’s almost completely made of magic, her powers are pretty insane, although she rarely uses them. (Lalafin is something similar, although she is magic put into a constructed body (hers being a plush doll about the size of a human child), and does not possess the same level of power.)

**Celestial spirits are extremely rare magical creatures (rarely more than three will exist in a world at a time) who are born as an ordinary being on a planet that sustains a large amount of life, in order to observe and learn about what makes their future duties important while also giving them time to develop their powers (which, during their lifetime, will typically be some level of emotional perception and extreme durability, as well as a variety of unknown abilities that vary between every individual). After they have lived out an ordinary length life, they will shed their physical form and take on a role of protecting and raising a new planetary system. When given the time to grow fully, they take on a semi-humanoid form, with many fins, wings, and a massive tail, vaguely resembling if you combined merfolk with dragons, but even more otherworldly. Akira is naturally progressing, but due to a rough past, Tamao’s growth has halted, and she will never fully turn into what she’s meant to be.

***Dream collectors are beings with powers over sleep, allowing them to put almost anything to sleep with ease, and during the night when people are asleep, they will collect their dreams to use as a source of magic to return to the world. They’re very humanlike, except for the blank eyes, dream storage orbs, and the occasional other unusual trait. Yuyuko is relatively young for one, and mainly just uses her friends for collection.

+Monster hunters rarely actually hunt monsters in the present, but rather work to handle hostile or out of control monsters before they become a danger to others. They also have a tracking system in place with magical tags, but these are exclusively used to identify who they’re dealing with when someone is out of control (assuming it’s a humanoid monster or one that can take enough of a humanoid form to live among standard society).

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There’s a feeling of something, someone, familiar nearby, a rare magical signature carried by only one variety of existence. Even the magic of the stage and the many other powerful beings around her can’t hide this feeling.

Nana hums softly as she senses another magical construct.

It’s not the exact same type of signature as her own, but it’s too full of a similar magic to not be another one.

She turns to the elven girl at her side and asks, “Junna-chan, do you feel that too?”

Junna nods. “Another construct.”

“Yeah. I don’t think they’re my kind, though.”

They keep walking, into the stage proper. Facing them down, the stage girls of Frontier, an unusual array of beings. And the source of the magical signature is... one very small girl with bunny ears.

Nana almost laughs with relief. Even at this distance, she can tell that’s an animated plush, especially since the patches on her cheeks and fluff-lined ears are easy to identify. She’s a creation that takes a lot of magic, especially considering the amount it takes to create something with that depth of emotional capability and physical stability with soft materials, but generally speaking, is unlikely to possess any actual powers.

The tall, blue-haired demon is staring right at Nana though, before she leans down to talk to the plush girl. Hopefully, it’s just about the same fact Nana has realized.

The plush girl comes bouncing over excitedly, and once she gets close, her tiny size becomes very apparent. She’s relatively child-sized, even shorter than the smallest member of the Seisho group. But there’s a wide smile on her face, and she doesn’t even remotely seem intimidated by Nana. Or Junna, but an elf is significantly less unusual than an experimental magical construct.

“Hiya!” she says. Nana is sure that if her eyes weren’t stitches, they’d be sparkling right now. “Shizuha said you might be like me?”

“If you’re referring to me being a magical construct, that’s right,” Nana replies.

“Awesome! I’m Lalafin Nonomiya! And you are...?”

“Nana Daiba.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Nana!” Lalafin bounces in place, her long ears waving with every movement she makes. “It’s not easy to find anyone else like me, even if you’re... clearly not for the same purpose as I am. But that’s still cool! Really cool!”

Nana laughs. “It sure is. I don’t think I’ve actually gotten to meet one of your kind before, either! And I’d love to talk more but...” She gestures to the spotlights beginning to shift, “I think our revue is about to begin.”

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There’s a monster in the lounge. A former friend, out of control.

Rui is trying to restrain her, taking advantage of her demon strength to keep Tamao from trying to attack anyone else. But Tamao is huge, angry, and isn’t recognizing anyone around her. And Rui can’t contain Tamao’s massive tail, either.

Yuyuko charges up magic in her hands, a power she hasn’t used for something this serious in a long time. Rui pushes Tamao to the floor, locking her in place long enough for Yuyuko to get close. Magic flows from the dream collector’s hands into the celestial spirit.

And then Tamao stops struggling, slumping completely to the ground.

“I’m so sorry,” Yuyuko whispers, gently rubbing Tamao’s snout. She knows her girlfriend doesn’t hear her, the magical sleep is too deep for that, but it’s reassuring to do it anyway.

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What is it like to live without a purpose? When your reason for existence has been lost, leaving you without your reason anymore?

Lalafin knows how that feels all too well. Her child died young. Far too young. She only knew her child for a year, only had a purpose for a very brief time of her existence, before her child succumbed to everything against her life and passed away at the age of six.

Lalafin has existed for eleven years since then. She is a living plushie, twelve years old with the mentality of someone who is seventeen and yet still a young child at the same time. She was made for a sick human child, made to be a friend and companion who would not be a danger to the child.

Lalafin’s purpose was to make her child happy. But what can she do when her child has been dead for so long?

It’s simple.

She follows what her child told her to do.

Take what she was made to do, and bring it to anyone who needs it. Make the people around her happy.

Of course, Lalafin is not bound to it. She’s just as independently thinking as any other person. But she enjoys her new purpose.

It doesn’t fill the hollow void in her heart where her child was meant to fit. Nothing ever will.

But seeing the smiles of those around her, and knowing she succeeded in making her child happy for the brief period they were together, she’s glad to do something to make everything better.

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Fumi glares at Claudine. She’s sitting in a tree, well above where either of her sisters can climb to normally, and laughing. Shiori is flapping her ruined wings aggressively, trying to generate any sort of lift off the ground, despite having not reached the age where her wings would be able to carry her normally. She’s not really getting anywhere with this, but she still wants to try and fly up to Claudine.

“HEY, KURO!” Fumi yells up the tree. “Get down from there!”

“And why should I? It’s safe up here!” she yells back.

Shiori flops to the ground, defeated in her quest to fly. Fumi points to her, and replies, “That’s why.”

“I’m fine, onee-chan...” Shiori mumbles. “Just gonna take a nap here in the grass...” She closes her eyes.

The werewolf huffs, and returns to glaring at the vampire in the tree. “If you aren’t coming down, I’ll get up there myself.”

It’s a good enough reason to practice controlled partial transformation anyway. She only wants to switch just enough for her claws to help her grab the tree better without ending up with full paws either. So she takes a moment to focus, and forces her hands to start switching for a brief moment, until she can feel claws.

And then she starts up the tree.

“Fumi, you’re gonna get stuck,” Claudine calls. “You can’t get down as easily as you can get up.”

“I don’t care.” She just keeps climbing.

It’s the highest she’s ever gone, but before she even gets particularly close, the vampire just slides off her branch and spreads her wings to glide to the ground. She doesn’t land very gracefully though, sliding as she touches down and falling backwards as she stops moving.

And Fumi finds herself in a very uncomfortable position. She can back down relatively easily if she goes slowly, but she can already feel the itch to continue transforming. But she has to ignore it. She can’t turn into a wolf in the middle of a tree, that’s weird for a lot of reasons. So she continues going down, trying to avoid giving into transforming.

Once she’s low enough to get down normally, she shifts her hands back to completely human and goes down the rest of the tree how she would any other time. It doesn’t get rid of wanting to go wolf, but it helps suppress it.

Claudine has joined Shiori laying in the grass. Fumi walks over and puts her foot on Claudine’s chest. Not forcefully, but enough to annoy her.

“Hey!” The older vampire squeaks.

“That’s payback for what you did,” the werewolf shoots back.

And the younger vampire just laughs at her sisters.

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“Hey, Michiru-senpai.”

“Hm? Do you need something, Yachiyo?”

“How do you deal with being mortal? How do you live knowing you’re fragile and on such a short timer?”

“I try not to think of it like that. We humans might seem like we’re barely alive for a blip of time compared to most other sentient creatures, but for us it’s a plenty long time. More than enough to accomplish what I’m here to do.”

“Huh.”

“Besides, we’re more durable than you immortals give us credit for!”

“Well... I’m not exactly immortal anymore either~. I guess I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that I’m likely to die just as quickly as you are. It’s weird, that’s for sure.”

“You’ll get used to it.”

“Probably~.”

“And if you’re really desperate to live for a ridiculously long time, I’m sure Shiori could turn you ♪.”

“Pfft, seriously, Michiru-senpai, you’re gonna put Shiori on the spot like that? I’m certainly not worth that effort, and I don’t even know if I can be turned.”

“You never know~. Besides, with the way she looks at you sometimes, I’m sure she’d be willing to do it.”

“...”

“Hehe, I guess I found the way to break you, Yachiyo ♪.”

“Why are you like this.”

“Shiori isn’t as subtle as she thinks when it comes to watching you.”

“...”

“Seriously though, you’ll get used to being mortal eventually. It’s really not a bad thing. And there are always ways out of it if you really manage to make the right connections~.”

“Yeah. Well, thanks for the... advice, I guess. Seeya later.”

“Bye!”

Chapter Text

Camille Saijou holds back a sigh of frustration as the werewolf puppy tries to wiggle out of her arms and run away again.

Fumi is shifting rapidly, wolflike traits popping up and then merging back into a human form again. She’s not really aware of what she’s doing, too upset to have a full grasp on reality. But she’s also tired and injured, so her protests are slowly calming down.

If only she’d relax enough to turn mostly human again. Luckily, there’s someone quite good at helping with making Fumi stop shifting.

Shiori looks up at her sister, and with surprising force, says, “Onee-chan, calm down,” before reaching up to try and pat her. It only reaches Fumi’s leg, but it’s enough to get her attention.

There’s still a small growl coming from her, but she stops everything else, snapped back into reality.

“Thank you, Shiori,” Camille replies, gently ruffling the young vampire’s hair with one hand.

She leaves the room, but Camille knows she won’t go far in case Fumi gets upset again. She’s too worried about her older sister right now to leave.

Fumi continues growling, but combined with words this time, “I still don’t wanna do this.”

“I know you don’t, but it’s for your own good. You’ll be alright.”

The werewolf huffs. “I like my hair long though.”

Yep. The entire struggle, all because Fumi is upset about the fact that having long hair while she can’t control her transformations is a bad match. Her fur in her wolf form is extremely long right now, to the point that it’s been interfering with her movement. And when it comes to recently turned lycanthropes, things like this are affected by factors in their human form.

Camille understands it’s a lot to handle at once, but she really wants her new daughter to be more comfortable until she learns to fully control it. She doesn’t want to force it, but there might not be another option. Fumi’s shifting is too uncontrollable right now, and she keeps getting stuck in wolf form for hours on end where she can barely walk around without tripping.

“If I get you something special afterwards, will you do it?”

A pair of wolf ears suddenly pop out of the top of her head, sticking up straight in excitement at the idea of getting whatever she wants (within reason, of course).

————

Although she complains further in the process, by that night, Fumi’s hair is much shorter, only partway down her neck. She keeps pawing at it, messing with the waves that used to be only at the ends but now make up the entirety of the length. But she doesn’t seem as mad about it anymore.

That may just be the fact that she’s getting some of her favorite ponzu as payment for tolerating it though.

Claudine and Shiori are both very sweet about it, complimenting their middle sister. Fumi ends up getting shy about it when they do that, wolf ears and tail popping out, only for her tail to droop and her ears flatten against her head.

The decision ends up paying off well though, as the next day she wakes up fully wolf again. And while she’s still a clumsy puppy, she isn’t tripping over incredibly long fur anymore. It’s a fairly ordinary length for a monster wolf now.

She’ll have to keep the short hair until she has enough of a grasp on her transformation to control fine details of her wolf form. But it isn’t long before she’s used to it and gets adjusted to keeping it that way.

It will be over ten years before she can control her transformation enough to think about changing it, anyway.

————

Fumi looks in the mirror and smiles. For the first time in almost eleven years, her hair touches her shoulders again.

It took eleven years to develop enough control over her wolf form, so now even an uncontrolled switch won’t affect her appearance. She wasn’t sure she wanted to try again with longer hair, but really, it wouldn’t hurt, so she let it happen. Rui said she wanted to see it too.

Speaking of the demon, she walks up behind the werewolf, gently pats her on the head, runs her clawed fingers through Fumi’s hair, and then laughs softly when Fumi’s tail and ears still pop out in excitement.

Some habits she never quite got rid of.