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Offline Last

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Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
« Reply #75 on: July 20, 2018, 07:50:30 AM »
That's probably a way out of it, yeah. Try thinking about it from the point of view of someone who knows absolutely nothing about it. Not in the sense of "I know nothing so I must learn", but in the sense of "I know nothing so I must marvel".

It might not be the best way to put that, but it seems like a more natural way for the usual reader to encounter something magical.

Offline MahluaandMilk

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Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
« Reply #76 on: July 20, 2018, 08:44:12 AM »
Good thing you caught this now as opposed to later when I start working on the fourth level, which is a little heavier on the supernatural element. I guess I was afraid if I just "showed" it, it might seem a little random to those who aren't familiar with the experiences, so I felt a weird need to explain it. Maybe with these chapters having been so heavy, I can drop that explanation later, since there's a precedent. From what I understand, normal people don't seem to like having magic explained to that degree, is that about right?

If all goes well, we can expect a chapter 17 out today or sometime this weekend.
"It is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure."--Marquis de Sade
But yes hello I am the freakier freak than you.

Offline Last

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Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
« Reply #77 on: July 21, 2018, 10:37:43 AM »
I'm fairly confident that your average person's understanding of magic begins and ends with Harry Potter (or whatever piece of pop culture you choose).

Real world magical ideas are ****ing dense. I've looked at it a bit, but that definitely puts me in the minority. If you asked most people, I think you'd get a response about "crystals and candles or some shit right?" Because they saw a local news piece about Wicca or something. They don't have a frame of reference, so you have to start at the beginning, and spoon feed from there until you get to the ideas you want.

Or if you want to skip ahead, then explain concepts in metaphor as they become appropriate. Of course, don't overrun people either. Even if an idea is boiled down, you can ruin the effect by tossing in too many different ideas all at once. Like any good power, you can't give away the whole shtick in the first fight. So to speak.


Offline MahluaandMilk

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Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
« Reply #78 on: July 21, 2018, 10:56:22 AM »
I think I'll stick to the latter form. Having been surrounded by sort of the deeper magical concepts for so long, it's bizarre for me to try to think of the basics as anything but a given. It'd be like going to a foreign country and trying to explain my American mannerisms. "You mean you don't do this?" lol.
"It is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure."--Marquis de Sade
But yes hello I am the freakier freak than you.

Offline Last

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Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
« Reply #79 on: July 22, 2018, 09:50:10 AM »
That is honestly the best metaphor you could have come up with I think.

Offline MahluaandMilk

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Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
« Reply #80 on: July 22, 2018, 10:22:38 AM »
Good. That solidifies the point that I should stick to metaphors. :D

Hopefully I'll get chapter 17 out tonight. Just gotta get in the zone.
"It is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure."--Marquis de Sade
But yes hello I am the freakier freak than you.

Offline Last

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Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
« Reply #81 on: July 29, 2018, 10:09:38 PM »
Hmm....I ended up having an extremely vivid dream about the last chapter of this level last night. Half expected it to be up when I logged in today. Honestly that'd maybe be too much of a coincidence for my poor brain to handle.


dream deets/spoilers if it turns out I'm psychic (if anyone on the planet actually cares)
Long story short: Mahlua comes out a bit chimera-d, a whole bunch of people show up from the village (I was one of them? But also not? Maybe just along for the ride in someone else's body) Drama goes down. Something about not letting contrasting parts of yourself conflict with each other. Very special episode ends along with dream.

Offline MahluaandMilk

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Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
« Reply #82 on: July 29, 2018, 11:36:55 PM »
Hilariously...
While the main reason I'm so behind is due to depression(tm), another reason has been that while I have it written in my plan how Mahlua is supposed to turn out, I've been thinking a lot about whether or not it's the "right" choice--which is kind of silly considering that it's my piece and there can really not be a "wrong" choice about a fictionalized aspect of myself. You seem to have picked up on my personal conflicted-ness, and not necessarily that of the story itself.
"It is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure."--Marquis de Sade
But yes hello I am the freakier freak than you.

Offline Last

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Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
« Reply #83 on: July 30, 2018, 10:05:59 PM »
Well it's not like that hasn't creeped in before.

That's beauty of story telling though. You don't have to make the choice at all if you really don't want to. Lots of ways to have something happen without ever showing it directly.

Offline rubixmaestro

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Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
« Reply #84 on: August 15, 2018, 09:32:01 PM »
Thoughts on Chp.14

Spoiler
1. Savannah left her to sweeping the main lobby of the inn that morning while she went shopping in town. Mahlua took to the task despite her arms’ protest, still tired from the previous night’s work. By the time she made it to the bar area with the broom, the soreness felt less painful—gods bless endorphins.
- Didn't expect Mahlua to be the type to be patient enough to do menial labour. Is it due to her dedication to her task or is she just that humble?

2. “You know, if you ever need a break,” Salem said as she hoisted herself to the bar, tail flicking playfully, “I could help mellow you out.”
- Start smexy music?

3- Salem rolled her eyes. “Oh well. It was worth a shot, I guess. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so direct…” she trailed off, the tip of her tail still flicking from side to side.
- No start smex music. *Sad face*

4-“Yup,” Mahlua said, walking around the bar to put the broom away. As she passed, she noticed that somehow Salem had either gone back to sleep or the tumble hadn’t woken her up at all.
- Too kawaii for words.

5. “Did she try to put the moves on you, too?” Savannah asked as she turned to inspect produce on another shelf.
“She offered to give me a break from work, if that’s what you mean,” Mahlua said.
- No that's not what she meant dammit. Or at least I hope so.

6. “How do you feel about some tomato sandwiches for lunch?”
- I prefer tomatosauce sandwiches personally, but to each their own.

7. “But, Savannah!”
Ignoring him, she kept walking and waved on her way out. “We’ll get it sorted out. Don’t worry about it.”
- Haha, Savannah looks like she has to deal with so much ish that she doesn't care. So aloof. Melike.

8. “And I guess I’ll just have a bottle of cider. None of that crazy alcohol stuff, though,” Max added.
- I'll have you know, ciders are alcoholic too (At least as far as I know).

9. Night had started creeping across the horizon when Savannah finally returned.
- Funny, I never see night mentioned as 'creeping in'

10. Mahlua sat and contemplated. She could go to sleep, but with all that happened in that day, she needed a moment to process. After a few minutes, the witch got up and headed to her own room, where at the very least the stars would keep her thoughts company. A few questions fuddled her mind, but she would save those for tomorrow, before she left on the journey. Surely there would be time.

- Everyone thinks that there is time, but there never is, not really, because everyone spends time thinking they have time for so long that the time runs out and - *cough*
Good chapter!



Thoughts on Chp.15
Spoiler
1. “Now that you’re both awake, let’s get you some food together. Last thing we need is a tarp in case you need to camp out and the weather turns foul,” Savannah said. She passed Marissa and led the way to the back room at the bar. “We have plenty of apples and peanuts, some cheese and jerky, and probably enough carrots and celery to last you.” She grabbed two drawstring bags from the wall and handed one to each guest. “You should only be travelling for a couple of days, and they’ll have food at the shrine for your trip back. Have at it.”
- Always loved travelling snacks in stories. Jerky, cheese and bread, and open air and campfires and rolling hills and everything else in between. Good stuff.

2. It definitely had weight to it, but Mahlua managed to fit it over her shoulders without too much effort.
- Random question, but can Mahlua lift? As in are her physical abilities as impressive as her magic?

3. “Salem…should we be on the lookout for her? You said something about it,” Marissa asked, keeping her eyes on the ground.
Savannah’s shoulders slumped. “I dunno. The girl’s been a mess since she got here, and probably before that. Some of us have been worried for a while that she might go back to the shrine.”
- Dun dun duunnn.

4. “But, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. If you do run into her, tell her to get her tail back here. If you don’t see her, we’ll deal with it,”
- Her 'sweet, sweet' tail you mean.

5. “That’s right,” Marissa said, “Kemonomimi aren’t common where you’re from.”
- Unfortunately.

6. Mahlua gulped. “Well, I suppose my life has been more of a tragedy than a comedy,” she said, turning her eyes to the horizon.
- Oh nooes

7. Mahlua lied back on the tarp, but sleep eluded her for a long time. That thing about Salem’s eyes haunted her. It made sense. It was loneliness, after all.
- Hmmm

Thought: I feel like this and Chap 14 could be one in the end, since not a lot happened, but perhaps all the questions and whatnot shall be answered in the next installment. Solid writing as always.


Thoughts on Chp.16
Spoiler
1. The type of trees began to change, and the altitude caused the air to become lighter as the hike droned on. The environment felt unmistakably clean, and Mahlua found herself grounded with every step. Of course her mind began to wonder if the path formed some sort of meditative sigil, or if perhaps the land itself were sacred, or if the mountain contained massive quantities of valuable ores, such as hematite. Hematite would ground someone like this.
- Googled hematite. Stuff can look really nice. Also descriptions of hikes make me think of hikes and I sort of miss mountain air. I need to get out more.

2.“Are you sure that isn’t just the pent-up excitement?”
Mahlua gave her companion a sly smirk. “Who says the two are mutually exclusive?”
-Indeed

3. Mahlua stepped forward to see who had spoken. She knelt on the floor and wore the attire of a traditional Japanese shrine maiden. Her fox ears faded into her silver hair, and her tail curled elegantly at her side. Marissa also stepped forward.
- I'm nekomimi for life but after Spice and Wolf I'm not immune to kawaii fox girls. They are so... Foxy.

4. “For tonight, the two of you shall rest. Tomorrow, we will prepare for the ritual. Please, bathe yourselves well and let your travels be cleared from your mind,” the priestess said.
- ... Do I see the word... Bathe? *Nose tingles*

5. “It’s how you look to me. Soft lightning circles you,” the priestess said. “Now, a new priestess in training will guide you to your rooms. Please leave your belongings there. Once you are settled, she will take you to the nearby hot spring.”
- *Breathing intensifies*

6. “If you have to wait for us anyway, why don’t you join us?” Mahlua asked. As the words fell out of her mouth, she realized the probability of a ritual taboo and cringed at herself. Salem gave her a blank stare for a few moments, and then shrugged.

“I suppose,” she said, rolling her eyes.
- *Heavy breathing*

7. Salem leaned further into the water for a few moments before she resurfaced. “Good. That should stop them from worrying too much.” She looked between the two visitors, and her face looked tired again. “You two worry too much, too.”
- Salem chaaaaaaan. Mellorinneeeee

8. The rest of the bath went by without event.
- I don't believe you!! *nosebleed*
- Also touching moment there.

9. Mahlua patted her head. “Is it bravery, or foolishness?”
- The important questions

Thoughts on Chp.17

1. Why haven't you written it yet?

General Thoughts

Spoiler
I definitely skimmed more than I should have, though I read every word I couldn't really settle and read, but I do like the build up and slow exploration. Especially love the whole hiking thing. I just felt like things went in circles sometimes. Mahlua is perhaps thoughtful and melanchony, but nothing is truly happening to her - she's not risking or losing anything. Which is pretty close to how real life is - there's not always a grand explosion or life and death situation here and there - but I just kept on thinking 'I love seeing the chillness, but could something huge happen?'

Chap 16 was my favourite on that bit though, and I'm quite impressed at how you can make ecchi situations quite tasteful and wholesome. Serious props on your wordcount (How many have you written by now?). Here's to another bout of inspiration such that you finish the entire story in one fell swoop muhuhahahaha.


real life has sexy graphics

Offline MahluaandMilk

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Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
« Reply #85 on: October 30, 2018, 10:24:36 PM »
Yeah, the writing has been quite slow as of late, and I'm sorry that school and life and depression(tm) totally punch me in the gut and elsewhere, but I assure you, once I finish some editing work and that diddly-darn cosplay show script of mine, Reset will be coming back full force. I just haven't exactly planned the ending, but I am at least two steps (entire levels) ahead in the game. I'm sure once I sit myself down and write, write, write, that it will come to an end eventually. Who knows? Maybe I'll start working on it in the car and on breaks at work and pull a huge whopping wordcount out of my ass. Right now I think it's something close to 30k.
"It is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure."--Marquis de Sade
But yes hello I am the freakier freak than you.

Offline MahluaandMilk

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Ecchiverse: Reset (Chapter 17, FINALLY.)
« Reply #86 on: November 21, 2018, 09:34:14 PM »
Hey, look, I still exist. Sorry for all the delays, and if this chapter is a little rough. I'm picking up the pen again, slowly but surely. I have a lot on my plate lately between therapy, working full time, and another writing project or two. I feel like maybe this chapter is a little shorter than I'd want it to be, but I've kept you guys waiting long enough, and there is enough of a transition happening for it to work. Without further ado...

Chapter 17
Enjoy the small burst of my activity while it lasts, lol.
Dreams are an odd thing to deal with, especially for a witch. Sometimes they can show slivers of the future of what could and might be, and, other times, they simply replay the mundane expectations of life. Being in a holy place, Mahlua expected something more like the former, what with the upcoming ritual, but instead, midway through a bizarre turmoil of dream substance, a path opened to her, vibrating with anticipation. She heard her name and felt the longing of her presence, so she followed it.

The MR Fighter’s Division gym began to come into focus around her. Feelings of awe and pride swelled until clarity snapped her to full, lucid attention. She couldn’t “see,” exactly. At least, not in the normal sense. Rather, she sensed the movement and energies in the room, and “heard” the most intentionally “loud” thoughts and statements made by those around her.

“You sure know how to make an entrance,” Fro teased.

By the time Mahlua figured out that the new class had in some sense “graduated” and received new uniforms, her limbs felt heavy and her senses dulled. She bade a quick goodbye after Fro’s extravagant speech and followed the dream trail back to her body. It was time to wake up.

---

It took a few minutes for Mahlua to stretch into wakefulness. A heavy yawn probed her senses back into the physical world. Warm early-afternoon colors filtered light into the small temple guest room. So they let me sleep in…

The door shuffled to the side with a gentle push, and Mahlua stepped out onto the path connecting the lodgings to the main temple area. Crisp mountain air warmed up under the touch of a bright sun and carried with it the fresh smell of leaves. In the distance, the water wheel kept perfect time as it clattered.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” A voice murmured beside the witch.

Mahlua jumped. Salem giggled at her handiwork.

“Marissa has already gone on ahead, and the ritual can take a long time,” Salem explained, “So you’ll be free to explore this forest’s bounty at your leisure at least until evening.”

Mahlua raised an eyebrow. “Was that an innuendo?”

A coy smile played on Salem’s lips. “I mean, if you want it to be,” she drawled, swishing her tail.

A lazy silence fell as Mahlua droned in an inner monologue. When she returned to the present, she leaned on the railing and turned to Salem.

“Where I come from, it’s common for priests and priestesses to take vows of celibacy to remain pure and clean, which often enhances the power of their rituals. Looks like that’s not the case for you?” Mahlua probed.

This time, Salem let out a hearty laugh. “People from where you’re from are silly. Don’t they realize that sexuality is more important for people than for other creatures?”

Mahlua rubbed the back of her neck. “Actually, they consider it more animalistic. Unclean, even. I think it’s stupid, too, but that’s the taboo.”

“Your people must not have children often, then,” Salem mused.

“It’s kind of the opposite. Because it’s taboo, society is simultaneously obsessed with it and repulsed by it. Sort of,” Mahlua shook her head. She was at a loss for words to explain. “It’s…really weird.”

Salem’s face scrunched up in indifferent confusion. “Sounds like it. I guess that explains why you worry so much.”

It was Mahlua’s turn to look confused. “How do you connect those dots?”

“Easy. You said priestesses tend to be celibate?”

Mahlua gave a blank look.

“Oh please. You’re so repressed, it’s painful to watch. Do you think holding back physical affection will make you stronger?”

Salem’s words cut deep. Mahlua’s gaze found the ground. An uneasy silence heaped on the pressure for her to respond. It felt like ages before words came into focus enough for use.

“It’s more a matter of guilt. The taboo makes most people uncomfortable with exploring sex openly,” Mahlua said.

“See what I mean? You worry too much,” Salem said. She punctuated her statement with a soft laugh. “You put other people’s possible discomfort over making your point.”

Mahlua’s eyebrows knitted together, and she turned to face the priestess again. “If that’s the case…what’s your point?”

Salem leaned in, almost touching nose to nose with the witch. “Would you like to know?”

A searing blush dyed Mahlua’s ears and nose crimson, but she felt a surge of need to prove that she wouldn’t be gotten the better of here. Her voice was more of a whisper than she expected. “I guess.”

Salem turned her head to the side and brought a hand to Mahlua’s shirt collar, pulling her close. Mahlua’s heart squirmed. Against her lips, Salem breathed, “I’m really looking forward to the outcome of your ceremony.” Her breath smelled like fruit.

---

Green tea and a tangled mess of arms wrapped around bodies kept the evening chill away. It had taken a while for Mahlua’s muscles to finally relax into the playful touch of the nekomimi priestess-in-training. In the grand scheme of things, she supposed her current condition was rather anticlimactic. As she inhaled the sweet scent that clung to Salem’s robes, she dismissed the thought. Anticlimatic or not, cuddles were a pleasant luxury she’d almost forgotten.

“It makes sense, now, why so few outsiders make it through to here,” Salem murmured into Mahlua’s hair.

“How so?”

Salem shifted, drawing her face away from the crux of Mahlua’s neck to meet eyes with her. “The whole idea of ‘ecchi’ for you guys is based on restraint, right? For us, restraint isn’t exactly a virtue. For some of the levels, ours especially, acceptance is the key.” Salem’s eyes drifted to the window. The fireflies were starting to come out. “I think you guys expect the rules that ‘ecchi’ has for itself align with your idea of it.”

Mahlua’s head tilted to the side. “Just how much do you guys know about the other levels, anyway? It seems like you’re supposed to be self-contained universes, and yet, you’re aware of the other levels and even their purposes. Isn’t that breaking the fourth wall?”

A small chuckle gave heat to the space between the two sets of lips. Salem’s eyes returned to Mahlua’s as her tail flicked mischievously. “You could say we’re like different functions of the same initial program. It’s not as meta as you think.”

Mahlua groaned. “Now I’m even more confused.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Salem curled her fingers into the shaved part of Mahlua’s hair. “There’s a reason the Twins set this up to be so convoluted.” She punctuated her statement with a dry, chaste kiss. The kiss dulled Mahlua’s mind away from the esoteric questions that fluttered through it and drew her to the material present. Her breathing deepened, and she let out a sigh as Salem pulled away.

Another voice jolted the duo out of their languid comfort.

“Ah, there you are. I see you two found something to do,” the High Priestess said, lips curling into a coy smile. “The time has come for an announcement.”

Salem sat upright, causing Mahlua to awkwardly stumble into her chest. “You mean she went through?”

The High Priestess’s smile turned warm as she stepped aside, extending her hand as if the gesture answered the question. From the doorway, Marissa stepped forward with a grey hood drawn over her face. Under the cloak, a distinct tail hung behind her legs. Salem leaned forward with interest, her ears flattening and rotating back. Mahlua, meanwhile, finally untangled herself from the cuddly mess and adjusted her glasses.

Marissa’s hand drew back the hood with care, a pink blush painting her cheeks and the tip of her nose as she smiled. As the hood fell, it revealed two large, circular ears.

“Child of the mouse, tell us the name your parent has given you,” the High Priestess called.

“My new name is Feta,” she replied.

“Welcome home, Feta,” the two priestesses said in unison.

Figuring it was some part of the ritual, Mahlua nodded and added, “Welcome home, Feta.” That answered the question of where the stereotypical names came from, at least.

“Thank you, everyone,” Feta said. Her gentle smile radiated with pride.

“If you aren’t completely worn out by Salem’s antics, you can also begin your rites this evening, Lightning Child,” the High Priestess said, folding her arms into her sleeves.

“It’s not—we didn’t—” Mahlua stumbled, shaking her head with a furious blush.

Albeit with a laugh, Salem came to her rescue. “Don’t tease the poor outsider. Apparently, in her world, sex is something of a taboo.”

“Oh? How strange…” The High Priestess turned to Mahlua and appeared to reevaluate her. “In either case, when you feel you are ready, join me by the water wheel. There are lanterns by the entrance.”
"It is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure."--Marquis de Sade
But yes hello I am the freakier freak than you.

Offline MahluaandMilk

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Ecchiverse: Reset (Chapter 18)
« Reply #87 on: November 22, 2018, 04:01:16 PM »
Well, I work tomorrow, so don't expect this to go back to daily uploads. But, I had a lot of fun writing this one. There's a lot of self reflection that went on behind this chapter, and maybe some of my depression seeped into some of the scenes. Also yay for vague descriptors. I apologize in advance if some of the scenes are...difficult. I'm still surprised that I even wrote one of them, but...well...FOR LEWDNESS.

I've definitely spent more time in level three than I'd like, but with this, it looks like one more chapter will push me to level four. Finally. Gods. We're almost halfway through, and the word count is 30,607.


Reset Chapter 18
In which animals can talk.
Night had fallen, casting indigo shadows to obscure the dirt path and animal charms that hung, swaying in the chilled night breeze. The water wheel clattered at its trance-like pace, churning a thin mist that made either bank of the mountain river fuzzy. Amidst the foggy glow, a lantern shone by the door of a smaller building surrounded by stone pillars, which had a quartz vein running through them, showing their relation. Under the guiding lantern, the High Priestess stood, arms still folded into her robes. She nodded and ducked inside as Mahlua approached. Mahlua hesitated at the door and pressed her lips together, and then stepped inside.

The interior was more bare than Mahlua expected. No windows, just a few thick pillar candles hanging from the corners for light, or perhaps for ritual. Inside, the droning from the water wheel subsided. In the middle of the room, there was a small pit in the floor for a fire. The High Priestess stood at the wall to the right and gestured for Mahlua to do the same on the opposite side. As the raider did so, the High Priestess pulled a few items out of a pouch at her side and began to light incense with the candles of the four corners. When she came back to her place, she sat.

“Generally speaking,” the High Priestess began, “this ritual, when successful, lasts a few hours. Sometimes the full process takes days, although that is rare.”

Mahlua slid against the wall and sat, absorbing the information and preparing to ground, as per her witch’s instinct.

“There is also the likelihood of failure. Some people have a difficult time reconciling their animal parent possibilities with the future they envisioned for themselves. You may be surprised at which animal spirits approach you, and what they have to say. There may be many, or maybe your parent will be the first and only,” the High Priestess continued. She gave pause, as if anticipating a question.

“Am I right to assume that at the time I was born, a parent had already stepped forward, and that this process is to unite me to them?” Mahlua asked, drawing upon her knowledge of parent deities.

The High Priestess smiled. “Yes. And if others approach, it is because they have some meaning to your life, whether or not you understand why at first. Remember, every animal has its place, and none are insignificant.”

Another pause drifted through the room as the High Priestess began working among the fire pit. The incense started to dull Mahlua’s senses, and the constant beat of the distant water wheel began to feel like the pulse of the world getting stronger with each beat.

“It seems you are already familiar with how to meditate, so I’ll be brief. This ground buzzes with the energy necessary for the primal and human natures to blend and reconnect us to our animal parents. The object of the ritual is to have your own instincts sharpen. That is why so many fail.” The High Priestess closed her eyes and leaned back, then lolled her head from side to side. “The raw emotion of those instincts may prove too much. My job is to calm you if that happens, and remove you, if necessary.”

“So it’s all me,” Mahlua said. Her voice sounded far away, like she was talking through water.

“It’s starting now. Close your eyes and let come what will.”

Mahlua hardly needed the command. Her eyelids felt heavy.

---

It was like sleeping at first, until suddenly a terrible scream ripped through her vocal cords. All around her, nothing but bones. Each one, she felt with every fiber of her being, belonged to someone she once loved or called friend. In that moment, what was left of her heart felt like it shattered and scattered to the wind. Even though her throat was raw, she raised her head to the dangerous grey sky and shrieked again. Grief overwhelmed her, and she tumbled to the ground. She curled into fetal position with another scream threatening to break free of its prison in her lungs. A scratchy voice at her shoulder soothed her.

“Much loss, yes. So much loss.”

Confused, Mahlua turned slightly, trying her best to avoid landing her eyes on any of the bleached-white relics of the past. On her shoulder sat a massive raven, pruning its wings.

“You fight. You die. You survive,” it said, turning its black gaze to the girl. It cocked its head to the side. “Friends die. Hope die. Strength there, yes. You survive.”

“I don’t understand,” Mahlua said, trembling as she sat up. The raven fluttered its wings for balance as she moved.

“Much loss, yes. So much loss. But, still live,” it said. “No hope. Still live. Strength there, yes.”

“Are you saying…I’ve lost hope?” Mahlua asked.

The raven bobbed up and down. “Many time. Many time hope die.” It spread its massive wings. “But, still live, still live. Still live, still fight.”

Mahlua struggled to swallow against the dryness in her throat. “I’m still alive, huh?”

The raven bobbed up and down again, then hopped around Mahlua’s shoulder to face away from her. “Hope die, hope die, but, still live. Strength there. See strength. Live more,” it said, and then abruptly leapt into the sky and flew away, casting its shadow over the field of remains.

Bones turned to dust and swirled upward into a whirlwind, reforming matter into sand. The dust devil thundered and swallowed the unsuspecting raider whole. Mahlua braced herself, covering her eyes. After a few moments of nothing, she peeked past her arm. Before her sprawled a vast plain, and though lingering pangs of grief stung in her heart, her shoulders untensed.

“All this is yours,” a voice growled behind her.

Mahlua turned to find a lioness prowling a hill of giant wind-worn rocks. The beast moved with majestic grace, her powerful muscles rising and falling to her own rhythm. She turned her piercing amber eyes on Mahlua and leapt. Mahlua flinched and took a step back, but the lioness landed a couple of feet in front of her.

“Don’t fear. You have the makings of a great king,” the lioness said, her voice still a low rumble. She lowered herself to the ground and crossed her massive paws.

Mahlua blinked in disbelief. “A king?”

“Not yet, else I would be your mother,” the lioness said. Her tail flicked against the sand. “But, the makings, yes. Let go of fear. Let your anger be righteous. Let your self-loathing burn away with pride.”

Before Mahlua could ask how, tears welled up and spilled from her eyes. She touched her face, confused.

The lioness rested her head on her paws. “It is a lonely place, to be king. No matter how much support you receive, your strength must be your own.” She explained no further, but kept her eyes locked on the girl.

Sorrow tore through the beaten and bloody remains of Mahlua’s heart with force that knocked her to her knees. She couldn’t comprehend the depths of this agony, and the ground seemed to swallow her tears as quickly as they dripped. “H-how can someone this broken ever be king?” she asked. Her voice surprised her. She had only meant to think.

“Erase self-doubt. Turn misery into your ally. Turn it into your righteous anger,” the lioness said. With that, she rose and padded towards the girl. For a moment, Mahlua feared the great beast would have her for dinner. Worse still, the lioness sauntered past her with an expression of indifference.

Mahlua pounded a fist into the dirt. The sobs that caused her to tremble changed in nature. She ground her teeth and her eyebrows knitted together, contorting her face. Her hand shot to where she normally kept her khopesh, but only found air. Seething, she felt her throat brace for pain. Was it that she felt betrayed as the lioness walked away? Or was it that she felt that her self-hatred was a betrayal of herself? She couldn’t tell. In either case, that rage consolidated and erupted as a full cry of fury that emptied the raider’s lungs. The lack of oxygen left her dizzy, and she toppled the rest of the way to the ground, gasping.

It was impossible to tell how long she lied there. Breathing never got easier with her raw throat. The sound of padded paws on the ground caught her attention. She tried to sit up, but found her body heavier than usual. To her surprise, it was not the lioness that met eyes with her. Instead, a pale pink tongue wiped away a dried tear at her chin.

The dog sat and panted, smiling at her with big brown eyes. Mahlua blinked a few times, and then lifted a hand to rest on the dogs head. Its tail wagged furiously. Just watching it, Mahlua felt some strength return. “So, you got something to say, too?” Mahlua asked.

The dog nuzzled closer. “Friend.” His voice was so liminal, neither young nor old, and yet, both at once. “Care,” he added. “Loyal. Here for you.”

Mahlua scratched at his ears. He rolled over in ecstasy, tongue rolling off to the side. Mahlua couldn’t help but smile and indulge him, rubbing his exposed belly.

“Friends. Feel better,” he said.

“Yeah, I guess friends do make things easier.” Mahlua murmured. Her voice burned to use. She found the spot to make his leg thump madly in the air. He squirmed with glee.

“Love friends. Here for you. Forever,” the dog said, rolling back over and shaking his fur free from the dirt.

A smile still painted Mahlua’s lips, even with the dull ache resonating in her chest. “I guess that goes for me, too. For my friends,” she said.

“Yes. Much good,” the dog said, running in a small circle and then sitting again. “Go now. But here forever.”

His words continued to hang in the air as the world shifted and reformed again, this time into the deep greens of a thick jungle. Mahlua sat back against a mossy tree and waited. Fear tickled the back of her mind, but she couldn’t place why. Minutes passed, and the feeling continued to resurface. Mahlua got the distinct feeling of being watched. She waited a minute more before breaking the silence.

“Come on out,” she said.

A low growl rumbled in the bushes next to her, and from their depths emerged a great striped beast, flashing with orange and white fur. The tiger took languid steps and kept its fierce golden eyes on the girl. Behind the fear, something else tugged Mahlua’s senses. Something familiar. As their eyes locked, a deep connection forged, like a bridge suddenly sprung up between them. Heat swelled through Mahlua’s body. She wondered if this was the beginning of the parental connection.

“Not quite,” the tiger said, responding to her thoughts.

“Then what?” Mahlua asked, trying to save her voice.

The tiger paced the width of the path. “You’re getting closer,” it said. “We have much in common. There’s a fire in you.”

The mysterious, familiar feeling started to take shape. Mahlua recognized it, all right. Its warmth prodded her, caressed her from the inside out.

“Still,” the tiger said, with a hint of sadness in its voice, “You fight me.”

“Who are you?” Mahlua said, then she bit her lip. “Who is the me in you?” she corrected.

As if to answer her question, the heat in her body rose to an almost painful degree. She gasped, and a faint tremble took her limbs. The tiger lowered its head and stepped forward, almost coming face to face with her.

“You could tame me, if you weren’t so scared,” it said. “But, you don’t want to be.”

The tremble turned to a shake as Mahlua lifted her hand. It felt like the tiger would bite it clean off, and yet, when she raised it high enough, instead the tiger rested its cheek against her. Under its soft fur, a low purr vibrated the flesh. Thinking became difficult.

“Have you found your answer for who we are?” the tiger asked, almost in a whisper.

Mahlua nodded, and, despite her lingering trembles, rested her forehead against the great beast’s. Its purr crescendoed. To her surprise, a wall of energy rattled her. She didn’t know what she expected, but it wasn’t that. A gasp pried her jaw open, and left no room to contain the strangled moan that escaped with it. Shame colored the edges of her vision gone white.

“Even now, you fight. Relax, and let it be.”

Still recovering from the first wave, Mahlua was slapped with another, and then another. She couldn’t explain where it was coming from, and that made her pull away. The tiger had other plans, and padded even closer, pinning her to the tree. Mahlua’s vision blurred, and the tiger changed form into a beautiful woman. Her golden eyes still held the ferocity, and her long orange hair held just as many black stripes as the tiger had on its back. Her ears rotated back and her tail flicked in annoyance. She took Mahlua’s wrists in her lithe, tough hands. Mahlua couldn’t help but notice the sharp, black, talon-like nails that threatened her skin. The woman pressed her weight down, which was just the same as the fully grown tiger. Finally, Mahlua realized they were one in the same creature.

“Submit,” the woman growled. Engraved in the ridges of her scrunched nose and eyebrows, Mahlua could see the beast within, and she knew this was the embodiment of a tiger-child, its archetypal, primal, original form.

Heat rose again, and this time overtook Mahlua’s senses entirely. She arched back and let out another sharp cry. Her lungs and throat protested, but Mahlua barely noticed them as the world dissolved.

It seemed like an eternity that she was held in that state. The weight of her body tugged and then grounded her. Her chest rose and fall, and each breath cleared a meager fraction of the cotton that clouded her thoughts. She licked her lips and groaned. When she could finally crack open one eye, Mahlua found herself bathed in a white light. She shook her head and willed her body to move. Without the tigress’s mighty weight to stop her, she sat up. In her lap, a small creature flinched and made a little puff of a hiss sound.

Mahlua’s heart swelled. Puzzle pieces fell into place. With great precision and care, Mahlua rested one hand on the creature’s prickly back. It curled into a tight ball, and Mahlua brought her other hand to catch it before it rolled down her legs. She held the tight little ball until it poked its eyes and snout out from its protective quills.

“Hey,” Mahlua smiled. Her voice really hurt, but seeing the hedgehog start to unfurl eased her pains.

“It’s about time,” it said with another flinch and a huff.

“Sorry,” Mahlua said. “It looks like everybody had a lot to say.”

“Yeah, well,” the hedgehog said, poking its front legs out, and then wobbling as it freed its hind legs from its armor. “You actually made it, so it’s whatever.”

Mahlua turned her hands and let the hedgehog crawl along her hand. It turned its snout to her, then stuck its tongue out for a long yawn, rustling its quills in the process.

“I’m tired. Let’s go to sleep,” it said.

“I can certainly agree with that,” Mahlua said, stifling a yawn of her own.

---

Many times, the High Priestess considered stepping in. Screaming wasn’t unusual for those undergoing the rite, and she herself had done so a few times. This outsider, though…there were so many emotions overwhelming her from the inside. But, just as soon as the screaming started, it stopped. Grief. Agony. Rage. Sorrow. Passion. She couldn’t help but wonder which animals possessed the poor child. They met plenty of resistance along the way, regardless.

The fire’s ember’s warmth began to fade, and the High Priestess considered starting another. A thud from across the room caught her attention. The sounds of heavy breathing reached her fox ears, and she smiled. Another presence joined the outsider. It was small, and hard to place at first. Both it and the girl dozed on the floor.

The High Priestess smiled and rose from her place to procure a robe for the trip back to the main temple. She let the girl rest as she did so. The night had been hard for her. Still, it would be better to get her back to the temple to sleep in a real bed.

---

Mahlua roused into wakefulness as a hand gave her shoulder a shake. As she sat up and rubbed her eyes, something felt off about her body.

“Congratulations. Quite a rare parent indeed,” the High Priestess said. “In fact, you’re the first harinezumimi I’ve overseen.”

“Harinezumimi?” Mahlua asked, cocking her head to the side. The word was too foreign, even for her weeaboo ears.

“Hedgehog Child,” the High Priestess clarified, “From harinezumi—needle mouse.”

Mahlua wanted to reply, but yawned instead.

The High Priestess chuckled, holding up the cloak in her lap. “Let’s get you back. We can welcome you in the morning. I’m sure the others are asleep by now.”

Mahlua gave a sheepish smile and nodded.

"It is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure."--Marquis de Sade
But yes hello I am the freakier freak than you.

Offline rubixmaestro

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Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
« Reply #88 on: November 26, 2018, 04:21:28 AM »
Review for Chap 17

Spoiler
1. Mahlua expected something more like the former, what with the upcoming ritual, but instead, midway through a bizarre turmoil of dream substance, a path opened to her, vibrating with anticipation
-I mean, I know its a dream but I wasn't sure what was being shown here. Was she just seeing colour and glowy stuff or any actual imagery?

2. The MR Fighter’s Division gym began to come into focus around her. Feelings of awe and pride swelled until clarity snapped her to full, lucid attention. She couldn’t “see,” exactly. At least, not in the normal sense.
- Oh, nevermind about 1.

3. “You sure know how to make an entrance,” Fro teased.
- I don't think any Raider has ever just walked into a room normally. It's law.

4. She bade a quick goodbye after Fro’s extravagant speech and followed the dream trail back to her body. It was time to wake up.
- Wait she was in dream form and Fro could see her? Is she that coopereal? Also who graduated. Also speech or it never happened! jj. Just curious how it was, but it's not necessary to the story.

5. It took a few minutes for Mahlua to stretch into wakefulness. A heavy yawn probed her senses back into the physical world. Warm early-afternoon colors filtered light into the small temple guest room. So they let me sleep in…
- Not sure if forum's fault but thoughts are usually italicized to seperate from normal text. Something you obviously know but yeh let me be a douchey critic muhuhahaha.

6. Crisp mountain air warmed up under the touch of a bright sun and carried with it the fresh smell of leaves. In the distance, the water wheel kept perfect time as it clattered.
- Idyllic scene is idyllic.

7. “So you’ll be free to explore this forest’s bounty at your leisure at least until evening.”
Mahlua raised an eyebrow. “Was that an innuendo?”
- I didn't see the innuendo but now i do.

8. A coy smile played on Salem’s lips. “I mean, if you want it to be,” she drawled, swishing her tail.
- Now I do even more.

9. Salem turned her head to the side and brought a hand to Mahlua’s shirt collar, pulling her close. Mahlua’s heart squirmed. Against her lips, Salem breathed, “I’m really looking forward to the outcome of your ceremony.” Her breath smelled like fruit.
- Jeez Mahlua there are children here! What if they're reading! *Sees that scene ends here. Is not happy. Is depressed* You know what fine! It's not like I wanted to see a lewd scene or anything!

10.  Anticlimatic or not, cuddles were a pleasant luxury she’d almost forgotten.
- Ah, it was cuddling.

11. Salem shifted, drawing her face away from the crux of Mahlua’s neck to meet eyes with her. “The whole idea of ‘ecchi’ for you guys is based on restraint, right? For us, restraint isn’t exactly a virtue. For some of the levels, ours especially, acceptance is the key.” Salem’s eyes drifted to the window. The fireflies were starting to come out. “I think you guys expect the rules that ‘ecchi’ has for itself align with your idea of it.”
- I mean, spot on with the taboo nature of sex all and all but I think ecchi from at least I, rubixmaestro's perspective is a bit more nuanced than that. As a fully nude bod becomes more anatomical than ecchi and a ruffled shirt makes one's nose bleed, it's all about the play between full on in-your-face stuff and the imagination evocation of true ecchi. It really can get animalistic i.e just-for-the-sake-of-the-biology and of no interest at all to the true conniseur. Without taboo to be broken the Priestesses would be as bored as any conservative opinion on the matter.

12. “Oh? How strange…” The High Priestess turned to Mahlua and appeared to reevaluate her. “In either case, when you feel you are ready, join me by the water wheel. There are lanterns by the entrance.”
- Since your haitus and all I thought you'd have a problem with the output of your chapter but writing is still pretty good, and it made an easy read. It felt actually more streamlined than before and I can divide the scenes up easily in my head (Intro - dream, Middle -discussion with Salem, End - lead up to Mahlua's ritual) so solid chapter here.
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Offline MahluaandMilk

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Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
« Reply #89 on: November 26, 2018, 01:10:38 PM »
to answer your questions 1-4
Go read Fro's story Return of the Drifter. He kind of dragged me into it and canonized Reset, so in turn, Reset has to canonize Return of the Drifter.

Oh, and by the way, "So, they let my sleep in" does show up as italicized when I view the chapter under the spoiler.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2018, 05:09:46 PM by MahluaandMilk »
"It is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure."--Marquis de Sade
But yes hello I am the freakier freak than you.