Magical Juggernaut Heather Crunch versus Magical Ascetic Valentina Tenko II: The Shoutening

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For the first time since I’ve arrived here, the rays of the sun wake me. A light STRICTLY INFERIOR to the INFERNO that BURNS within me, however! For now that Heather Crunch has opened her eyes, the RADIANCE of my SOUL ITSELF shall OUTSHINE said sun’s light!

I stretch a few times before LEAPING out of bed. And then… I POSE against the backdrop of the rising sun!

Hold it…

Hold iiiiiit…


I am just not feeling it this morning. Ugh, it’s too damn quiet! I’m actually starting to -miss- those noisy maids.


Were it only so simple to do so, and yet I am POISONED with thoughts about HER. The faint, fruity fragrance of her shampoo; the gentle sounds of her breathing; the curve of her back as I held her… How could such a slight, slender body feel so warm and soft? Was it her? Was it the silky fabrics she wore? Or was it how her arms draped around me, before slowly caressing my back and wrapping me in a tight embrace?

…Dammit, it’s worse than I’d thought. I hope that some breakfast will give my thoughts focus towards IMPORTANT matters.

I move along to the kitchen and seat myself. And then unseat myself when I realize I have to make my own breakfast once again. Which is ABSOLUTELY fine, since they didn’t do it right anyway.

That means the usual spread: meat, pancakes, meat, hash browns, meat, orange slices, meat, baked beans, meat, eggs, meat, milk, meat, sausage, and meat! A feast that is ALMOST WORTHY of me! If I could just get the hash browns and pancakes to stop tasting so floury, then TRULY it would be the Heather Crunch of breakfasts! As it stands, however, it is SORELY LACKING in that regard!

Nakajima did good hash browns and pancakes. I should ask- No, no, NO! I am NOT thinking about this again!

As it turns out, breakfast is NOT enough to alleviate oneself of unwanted thoughts. Nor is a comprehensive workout. Or a shower – the latter actually WORSENED things because of the lingering smell of Nakajima’s shampoo.

But I will NOT allow myself to fail the Soul Temperer’s trials again! Once is one time too many as it is! And to PROVE to her that I am taking her lessons to heart, I shall undergo her tutelage WITHOUT invoking my transformation! I may have failed the meditation, but I shall still… Whatever it is she said!

Even though it means wearing the only outfit the Nakajimas prepared. And now, standing in front of the bathroom’s full-length mirror, I can see the costume in its entirety.

There are the polished black leather dress shoes, with a little black bow done up near the tongue. The inside of them was actually quilted; I’m amazed they were able to make shoes like this in the time allotted. The pure white socks are NOT as glamorous as my favorite stockings, but they fit like a glove.

The black dress itself is… black. Except for the collar, which is white. Its sleeves are short and puffy, only reaching up to the elbows, and the skirt is knee-length. The apron frills at the shoulder belts and at the bottom. It was somewhat of a challenge to tie the waist belts, but the perfect ribbon they form resting on my hips is testament to my skill! I didn’t even –need- your help with THAT, NAKAJIMA!

Speaking of bows, the blue ribbon over my chest looks like it’s missing something. On a whim, I brush my fingers across my soul gem, causing it to jump in a spark of light onto the ribbon, and reform as a gilded brooch. HA! I HAVE IMPROVED UPON YOUR ORIGINAL ENSEMBLE, NAKAJIMA!

And of course, the little frilled hair band to complete the look.

I twirl, do a curtsey, and pose for the mirror, concluding that I ROCK the maid outfit. WEEP AT YOUR FORSAKEN OPPORTUNITY TO GAZE UPON MY SPLENDOR, NAKAJIMA!


Kicking down the sliding door, I announce to the room at large, "SOUL TEMPERER! I HAVE ARRIVED!" For NOW Heather Crunch graces this humblest of halls with her MAJESTIC MAGNIFICENCE!

Standing with her back to me, Soul Temperer Valentina Tenko muses aloud, "the Seeker of Wisdom returns to pursue atonement.” She glances over her shoulder to address me directly, inquiring, “and yet, are you really here at-" The Soul Temperer trails off, facing me directly with her eyes wide and her jaw dropped.

I stare at her with bemusement."What?" I KNOW I'm a sight to behold, but your reaction is SEVERELY delayed, Soul Temperer. You should have shown such reverence LAST TIME!

Tenko brings her hand up to her cheek, her face flush and a trail of drool leaking from her mouth. That's... Not the reaction I was hoping for. I wanted AWE, not this. "I see the leopard has changed its shorts!" she exclaims, lips twitching into a smile that make me feel VERY, VERY UNCOMFORTABLE! AND I REALLY DON'T THINK THAT'S HOW THE EXPRESSION GOES!

"Yyyyes," I cautiously reply, though I remain UNDAUNTED! "I TOLD you I was serious about... you know..." I push up my sleeves, then shout, "CLEANING UP MY ACT!" while wearing the cheekiest grin I can manage.

This brings the Soul Temperer to her senses, and she is INCREDULOUS. "Perhaps you are, perhaps you are not," she muses, arms behind her back as she walks towards me. "It remains to be seen, and talk itself is cheap." Her eerie leering returns when she gets close enough. "Also the clothes are displeasingly conservative," she observes, causing me to pull the skirt down lower. "The neckline and hem are too high. Could you-"

"NO!" I adamantly refuse! "FOCUS!" Admiration is fine, but your slimy stare is sending sickening shivers down my spine and making my skin crawl! SO STOP IT!

FINALLY the Soul Temperer seems to be taking things SERIOUSLY again. "Very well, then," she announces with a brief cough. "On to the task at hand."

Now that the Soul Temperer has focused on her duties once more, there will be NO FURTHER DISTRACTIONS from my goal! THAT’S RIGHT, NAKAJIMA! YOUR STRANGLEHOLD ON MY THOUGHTS ENDS HERE! WAIL AND GNASH YOUR TEETH ALL YOU LIKE, IT WILL DO YOU –NO GOOD WHATSOEVER-! YOU CAN LOOK AS PITIFUL AND HELPLESS AS YOU LIKE… AS, AS FRAIL AND DEFENSELESS AS A PUPPY SOMEBODY JUST KICKED… SHE’S the one who told me to keep holding her, dammit, it wasn’t –my- fault things were so awkward!

"Are you clear on your objective for today?" The Soul Temperer abruptly asks of me. Was… Was she talking to me just now? I didn’t hear a thing she said.

"It was something about peaches, wasn't it?" I hazard. The Soul Temperer frowns and shakes her head.

"That was merely one strand of the caterpillar's cocoon," she... explains? Does that mean that I was partially right? "Were you not listening?"

"I was in contemplation of things!" I tell her - it's not exactly a lie - then hastily shout, "VERY IMPORTANT THINGS!"

"And still you seem unsatisfied," she observes, her stare stern and concerned.

"I, uh, haven't reached an answer yet," I say, but then BOLDLY PROCLAIM, "But I will! I SWEAR it!" I EMPHASIZE THIS by POUNDING my chest with my arm - which unfortunately draws her lurid gaze again.

"-Now- you're showing the fire I knew you had inside you!" she says to my bosom, and then gives me the eye contact she should have made from the beginning, her eyes burning with zeal. "Come, Seeker of Truth, shed your cocoon and emerge as the radiant butterfly once more!"


The Soul Temperer smiles sadly. "That is truly a pity, but not what I asked you to do,” she insists. She reaches to her side and unsheathes her blade, a gout of flame erupting from the scabbard. “As before, Seeker of Enlightenment - show me your heart!"

HA! GLADLY!" I bellow with great enthusiasm! A clash again an equal! Like I could turn down such an opportunity!

"While I did specify that you should not engage your powers, it is necessary to do so now,” the Soul Temperer explains, looking sadly at me – or my body. I can’t tell. "You are wound up too tight and liable to break.” Walking away from me and motioning for me to follow, she makes a grandiose gesture towards the sky. “Until we cross this fjord in the river of your life, Truth-Seeker, we shall also cross blades!"

Her metaphor doesn’t work, but it doesn’t matter! "BRING IT ON, SOUL TEMPERERRRR!" I roar, hand clasped over my shining red soul gem! An EXPLOSION of light engulfs me, as I am clothed in my mighty garments once more! I CHASE after the Soul Temperer, jacket BILLOWING, ribbons TRAILING, mind and body FILLED WITH PURPOSE! Yes, truly THIS is what I am GRATEFUL for, Miss Marigold! THIS is what my roses symbolize! A chance for ATONEMENT and BETTERMENT of myself, and NOT some chance meeting with a red-haired rival with KISSABLE LIPS and GREAT LEGS-

…You know, I don’t –need- the ribbon and roses to emphasize my greatness! Thus, I remove the offending object and stick it in my inventory, before catching up with the Soul Temperer. She seems curious about the lack of flowers, but tactfully says nothing for once, leading me outside to a small clearing.

Driving her blade into the ground, the Soul Temperer instructs me to stand close. Immediately, the earth surrounding us breaks away from the ground as it begins to float, carrying us with it. “I need to assess your spirit as we fly, Seeker of Truth,” she says with complete seriousness, her hand suddenly squeezing my ass.

…I’m not convinced, and smack her hand away.

“Please, Truth-Seeker, this is important,” she insists. I GLARE at her in response, and she returns my glare with equal intensity. Then, slowly, she reaches around and squeezes again.

“Welcome, Seeker of Enlightenment, to the Valley of Eight Million Gods!”

The Soul Temperer proclaims this after we set down in a large clearing. I take a few steps away from her, finally afforded the opportunity to do so. ‘Spirit assessment’; what nonsense!

“I see no gods,” I point out to her. Indeed, nothing here resembles any sort of god. There are scars of battle, such as scorch marks, dead clumps of plants, craters, and broken, rusted weapons scattered here and there. I can almost SMELL the blood and sweat shed through countless skirmishes. Nevertheless, there are no gods here.

The Soul Temperer grins at me, blade removed from the ground. Pointing it at me, she inquires, “Have you seen the face that looks back at you from the water’s edge?”

I cannot help but smile at that. “HA! Flattery won’t save you, you know!” I warn her! At LEAST she acknowledges that my GREATNESS is COMPARABLE to divinity!

“I wasn’t counting on it!” she assures me! “Do not fall upon me like a light shower, Seeker of Wisdom, but come at me with the force of a mighty typhoon!” Even I can understand that!

“TO ME, EVERSWORD!” I cry out, my voice ECHOING through this desolate place! WILLING my MIGHTY WEAPON into existence, my Eversword pieces itself together in my hand as I feel its handle in my grip!


"Your blade shines a gold more brilliant than the sun, Truth-Seeker!" lauds the Soul Temperer, already poised for battle! Sure enough, the Eversword glows a deep yellow today! Not blue, nor red, but GOLD! Or perhaps more of an amber color-



“Then come, Seeker of Truth!” the Soul Temperer reminds me, bringing my focus back to IMPORTANT things! “Prove that the fire inside you is not merely a transient, flickering ember!”

Letting loose a howl WORTHY of the Sixth Officio, I grip my blade and charge her!

The Soul Temperer of the Seventh manages to BLOCK my attack with her own blade, the FORCE of the blow kicking up dust and dirt. I quickly spin about and hit her with ANOTHER slash, but AGAIN she parries the strike. However, I am DRIVING her back with the strength and ferocity of my attacks, and have YET to show any opening for her to use her weapon to attack! She seems to sense this as well, and disengages from me, leaping back a few feet. Before I can make another strike, she mightily stomps the ground, and a pillar of earth ERUPTS beneath my feet, LAUNCHING me further back!

After I come to a stop, a BARRAGE of BOULDERS ASSAILS me from what USED to be that earthen pillar! BUT THIS WILL NOT EVEN SLOW THE CRUNCH TRAIN! I POWER THROUGH AND CHARGE DOWN THE SOUL TEMPERER, POISED TO STRIKE! She has RAISED a GREAT WALL OF STONE between us, BUT THAT IS NOT ENOUGH! “STONE-CLEAVING STRIKE!” I SHOUT, AND DEMOLISH THE WALL WITH A SLASH FROM MY BLADE! Pressing onward towards my opponent, SPRINTING over the ruined remnants of rock, I fail to find her.

A SPIKE of STONE STABS at me from below, DETACHING from the ground as it HURLS me back! The Soul Temperer now occupies my previous position, and is poised to prepare another powerful assault! I can SEE her sword starting to simmer as FIRES fan forth from it!

I REMAIN UNDAUNTED! I rush in, sword at the ready, as it GROWS BIGGER AND BIGGER! The Soul Temperer sends a TIDAL WAVE of FIRE at me, but NOT EVEN THE FIRES OF THE DEEPEST HELLS BURN HOTTER THAN MY WINNING SPIRT! Compared to that, these blazing flames are LUKEWARM AT BEST! WHIRLING around, I make a GREAT SWEEPING ATTACK with my blade! Through the flames, I see the hazy outline of the Soul Temperer STRUCK by my giant Eversword, UNABLE to erect any defense in time! It sends her TUMBLING over the ground for a CONSIDERABLE distance before braking herself with her blade. Standing up and dusting herself off, she seems mostly unharmed. TRULY A WORTHY OPPONENT!

“Truth-Seeker!” she calls out to me, her voice reverberating across this barren battlefield! “I am certain that I told you to not toy with me! Is that the best you can do?”

“HA!” I proclaim, thumping my chest, “I have not yet BEGUN to fight!” Indeed, THAT was merely a WARM-UP! A PRELUDE to a PROPER CONFRONTATION!

Pointing my blade at her, I exclaim, “Enough with the banter! NOW we clash for REAL!” and rush back into the fray!


You’re exaggerating, an annoying voice in the back of my head states. THAT VOICE SHOULD SHUT UP!

Hah! Nakajima is really missing out -- Stop thinking about that!