A Chapter Ends, but the Book Remains Open

I have the feeling many of you were expecting this ever since the slowdowns began, but what I say next may be unfortunately obvious. Sadly par for the course of 2020.

Though the plans and curiosities for what lay ahead exist, the motivation to write had been steadily dying. Recent entries felt more like a chore to write as my focus was given to two larger projects. FoC grew like I never imagined, but its greatest boons were doomed to become its downfall: Endless potential and casual design. At the end of it all, there’s simply too much potential content to get through and not enough time, especially for a casual hobby. It was fun for a time, but it was too much of a pipe dream to keep building.

I know to those loyal readers this is disappointing news, but I believe it’s time for me to call an end to this endeavor. I can’t muster the time or motivation to continue building this universe when the scales are weighed unfavorably. I enjoyed writing what I could, and two million words is certainly nothing to blink at. But if continuing means forcing content out that’s only a shadow of its former self, I’d rather just let the series come to an end here. It’s not news I wished to deliver to those looking forward to more, but there’s no getting around the elephant in the room.

Throughout this journey, FoC brought a lot more surprises than I expected. A short-lived VA, fanart, and even a Discord community. I liked when I had the proper time and focus to respond accordingly to any and all messages. It was a fun project I obviously won’t forget, but it was fleeting. To keep going on when even FGO still hasn’t ended was futile, but to have gotten this far was a hell of a ride.

However, if there is any good news it’s that I will be releasing the ‘roadmap’ as an apology I can’t go on with this: A rough and malleable outline of things that were to come. It won’t go into heavy detail, but it’ll be enough to get the brain thinking and provide one final insight into how I saw branching parts of the work. You’d obviously be free to do with it as you will, and maybe even adapt it if you feel that invested. Credit would be nice if you did it, and you’re more than welcome to share the work with others (Discord being the best bet).

The final gift that should appear by Christmas will be one last shard while I still have the energy to push something out. Its contents will be revealed when it releases.

And, of course, to address the inevitable question: I’m releasing the theorized roadmap for the readers to do as you will. I’ve laid sprawling foundations, and maybe you wanted to make things otherwise or envision your own occurrences within this quaint AU. Who says you’re not free to do so? The roadmap can act as a guide or suggestion of what I wanted to make canon for my work, but you may very well do as you please. In the hands and imaginations of others, FoC may very well continue in its own designs. If some do, I’ll remain honored it’s moved you to such an extent, and apologize I couldn’t have brought it to fruition myself.

Until then, once more, save for one or two more shards, I’m sorry I couldn’t continue this further, but I’ve gone as far as I could without brute forcing content into being. I can’t say thank you enough to all those who’ve followed over the years, and can only hope this adventure helped make your day even a little bit. Time is valuable, and to spend even an ounce of it on this series was very kind of you.

Best wishes and good health to you all!

~GhostXavier

P.S. – The Tumblr will be going down before the years end since its use has come to an end. The official website and Discord will remain online. The Discord will also be changing a bit to include more things for its small community to enjoy, and you’re more than welcome to join in. I’m only putting down the pen, so it’s very likely you’ll see me and can chat in that community. There’s been some bumps and learning but the community tries to find a nice spot for people to hang out and relax.

Fragment 115 Insight

I revised this fragment more times than I can count. Honestly never had this much issue writing an entry before, but Skyler was a thin line of success and a miss. He’s not supposed to feel cliché, even if everything created these days is probably a cliché at this point. He’s supposed to feel real, as all the other OCs were. Shining highlights and faults alike. Delaqua’s stupid strong but she’s also not the brightest bulb in the house. Naomi’s an overworking tailor who grew into a pretty capable magus.

Skyler’s the veteran who’s managed to hold himself together despite all he’s seen. Not drinking himself under the table for regrets, but to celebrate with comrades. Not letting those inner demons get to him. Humble yet skilled, his personal skillset is impressive if he wasn’t surrounded by supernatural powerhouses. It’s no wonder he sees his own shining spots as relatively useless as a master, yet time will tell as he says. He’s cynical about what the world will offer, but optimistic he can help forge a brighter step forward however he can.

Seems straightforward, but endless cycle of “head in the clouds” I wanted to make a hallmark of his character was where things got difficult. One misstep, and anyone could claim he’s just another edgy “I’ve seen too much shit” kind of guy. Too much in the other direction and it’ll feel like he looks past all the difficulties he’s lived through way too easily. The line between was very fine but I intended to make it, even if this wound up being a ridiculously long entry as a result.

That did allow for plenty of servant showcasings. I wanted to show how he gravitated towards those who accepted him, but that he was also willing to go to those willing to discuss why they’re neutral or disinterested. The Knights for one, who aren’t perfectly content he’s a sparkly clean master like the other three. I wanted to show more but this would’ve just dragged on further to make the same points I could’ve on Skyler’s own refinement journey. This is only the beginning of his real endeavor to find his mark as a Chaldean master. That’s why some of the background stuff is still a bit vague.

As a final note (since I believe the fragment nailed mostly everything), I’m sure there are many who are a bit disappointed the summoned servant was a three star. It’s planned and meaningful though. A bit of a tip of the hat to the gacha not giving everyone a five star, but also a very much needed set piece. It should be pretty damn easy to tell where this master-servant bond is going from a reader’s perspective.

P.S. – If you want a better visual on the Stitch Witchs’ new uniform, it’s pretty much just recolorings of Lisa’s outfit in Genshin Impact. First time I saw it I thought it looked like an amazingly fashionable witch outfit. Something the fashionistas would absolutely approve of for them.

Author’s Note – 20 OCT

I’d like to keep this brief, but let’s be honest: Brevity isn’t my ace of spades. That said, there’s also a lot that needs to be addressed that I’d like to get off my chest.

Despite how many times I apologize for recent delayed communication or thank you for your patience, the fact of the matter is I will never be able to convey it potently enough. I absolutely mean it when I’m sorry, and it grates my nerves when I’m so exhausted with my other large projects that I can’t respond fairly & accurately. It’s irritating because there’s likely thousands who’ve grown to like this fanfiction on some level. It remains stunning to me how many show interest. More so that so many of you still stuck around hopeful despite these massive delays.

I honestly wish I could deliver content like the old days. I wish I could properly respond to everyone as I did before. I feel awful that communication has lagged so terribly, and I’d rather not use a rough year as an excuse when the delays started in late January. I honestly believe fans of any enterprise, no matter how large, deserve better treatment, thus I feel awful I wasn’t able to keep my chosen standard up.

Even those on the Discord I’ve gotten to know barely get a fleeting glimpse of me these days. It’s disheartening really. There were a bunch of recognizable faces that have since left, and I’d never spite them for it. I only wish them well on wherever they go next, and only sigh that I couldn’t give a personal goodbye. For what it’s worth, I apologize for dropping the ball severely on the communication front to everyone.

Delays are still continuing. To be blunt, besides juggling two other hidden projects and a suddenly chaotic career I’m also dealing with motivational roadblocks. It’s not writer’s block; Creativity flows endless. The problem is the sheer content before me while FGO still releases rapid content. Keeping up before was a struggle. Now it’s active drowning despite the admitted shortcuts I’ve had to take. There’s simply too much content to do and I’m one person.

That said, I still don’t want to retire the work. Many still stick around, and many more are still surprising me by starting their journey of two million words. I’d like to keep delivering a new possibility to imagine when I can despite delays. So when I often say I’m glad you liked what you read, I mean it. I’m honestly content someone else found enjoyment in what was presented and wouldn’t mind seeing more. Hopefully I won’t keep you waiting too much longer.

So thank you for putting up with the delays. Thanks for even giving the series a simple peak. Thank so much to everyone who’s come and gone throughout the years and allowed this story to keep them company for many hours. Two million words brought some joy to someone’s life, and that’s payment enough for me.

P.S. – Still aiming to release the next fragment before Halloween. Shards were on hold as I try to push it through.

Fragment 114 Insight

Slowly but surely the fic advances a bit further. Mostly slowly.

D’Eon was a bit of a curveball in terms of how I got to focus the fragment. I really wanted to capitalize on their spying attribute to offer a showcase of all the sights they’d gotten to witness. I hope after reading it it’s safe to assume very little happened in Chaldea without them finding out about it.

In regards to their gender, I realize it was likely a prominent topic for some who may be disappointed how rather casually I handled it. Obviously I didn’t choose the gender depiction in any disparaging way but rather the idea D’Eon chose how to be addressed for ease of conversation. But they still don’t mind if others choose to see them in the other way unless it’s used in a demeaning form. If in the future there’s a time their gender is swapped, I’ll switch the pronouns accordingly to display that.

That aside, on completion of the first draft took a long time. I could definitely feel the rust writing this, but it was also partly because I was second guessing whether I blended D’Eons character depictions well with his presented scenes. Part of me felt like this was a sort of voyeur situation and little was being done in favor of the focus servant in question. At worst, I pondered if this was feeling more like a large shard collection and not truly a look into the current normal life of D’Eon. Another conflict of interest between wanting to showcase a character while simultaneously advancing several of the dozens of subplots. Making this living world only gets rougher with time and character bloat.

Which brings up another topic of curiosity: The amendment to a firm rule Sita broke previously. As stated in some Q&A and a topic post to the main website, the rule has been adjusted in favor of allowing non-gacha servants with significant character development to enter the fic. This was mostly due to certain rewarding characters being locked out, but I’m not sure many were expecting the necessary servant to be Archimedes. Surprise or not, he’s a rather helpful pivot into what I need developed by a certain time frame. As slow as the fic is going, it’s still on schedule.

That said, I tweaked a bit of the ‘to be summoned’ lineup because of the long delays between fragments. It meant Voyager was allowed to enter far sooner than any probably anticipated, but some familiar faces are still promised to arrive soon. This fragment introduced a bunch, but next fragment will also see a few more. The character bloat grows, but it’s my hope everything written thus far provides a solid framework for what previously featured servants are probably doing while another focuses on their days.

But every now and then, we have to focus on someone else to build up a foundation for what’s to come.

Teaser: His cousin always joked he never knew what to call his luck. Terrible was a start. Maybe not as terrible as he’d always claimed, but no matter what he did, he was always dragged into something else. But what could he say? Even if someone far more capable should’ve been chosen to be the fourth, he’d put forth his double best despite what little he felt he offered.

FoC status Update – July 5

Nothing terrible, but unfortunately nothing to get really excited over either. I’ve been very bad on the communication front for a good portion of the year, and while I hate making excuses, 2020 hasn’t exactly gone according to plan.

That aside, I am making steady progress on the next fragment while trying to push out new shards. Despite all the real world complications, my other projects (the ones that sapped my time from FoC) are still proceeding. One is getting closer to a deadline and I’ve entered a three month crunch to finish it in time. It may very well wind up being for naught if the event’s deadline winds up being pushed back until next year. Obviously the reason I bring that up is if news drops the yearly contest is cancelled, I’ll have more time liberated to improve my upload speed.

The days of weekly updates are long gone, but hopefully sometime in the future I can do bi-weekly updates again. Heaven knows there’s a ton of content people would like to see implemented, but I’m only one guy.

If you’re a new or veteran reader, thanks for sticking along despite the turbulent year! FoC isn’t on hiatus. It’s just growing slower while other priorities keep my free time limited.

Possible Series Rule Amendment

I’ve been doing theory-crafting and extra planning over the past few months. One of which was one of Fragments’ core rules that keep everything organized and flowing smoothly. Namely, the one Sita broke: A servant must be available to play/select in FGO before they are allowed to be summoned.

It’s a fair rule, and its entire purpose is to prevent servants who had been shown in other Fate works but lack the context as to how they’re summoned into FGO. As example, if said servant needs to die in the story or arrives at certain circumstances, then their summoning is more viable.

That said, often FGO just throws a servant into the gacha. Add to that, a servant doesn’t necessarily need to have the memories of certain past summonings for them to arrive. The circumstances surrounding availability can vary, so while I don’t want to abolish the rule outright, it’s definitely proved to be a roadblock I put down long ago.

So as the amendment, I was going to use that rule as more of a guideline so servants with ample character development in another work can make their way to FoC Chaldea without needing to be in the gacha.

Obviously this can be abused, but since I’m the only one writing this series the trigger discipline would reside solely with me. So, if I were to decide to amend or abolish the rule, that doesn’t mean I’m about to throw every single non-gacha servant into the roster (and definitely no OC servants). They’d merely get added to that priority lineup I’ve never revealed, placed accordingly as determined by their circumstances, subplot viability, overall world-building necessity, and other factors.

As the readers, it was only right I inform you of this consideration. If I decide to go through with it, you will know as early as next fragment. Whenever that manages to squeak out.

There will be a shard or even two in the coming week if all goes smoothly. Thanks for your time, and hope you’re all staying safe and healthy!

Fragment 113 Insight

Fic is hardly dead. Just chugging very slowly.

Before the usual thought input, I’d like to raise a note about something that irks me with the story. Because of the medium, and my background in filmmaking, the clash over setting a scene and word count continues. I like painting vivid scenes before I execute them, but that inevitably pushes the word count and limits my space for dialogue. As evidenced by this fragment in particular, I’d love to go into aimless talks that embody absolute slice of life, but it comes into conflict with pushing reveals, descriptions, actor blocking, etc.

Just a tiny exasperation of mine. If I could draw, FoC would definitely have been a comic series instead. But it is what it is.

So to address the big elephant in the room: It was my intent to introduce the Hakunos for years, as SKYS was well aware of. The introduction changed and shifted over time, and it was a decision weighed very heavily because of the sheer influence they carry for Moon Cell servants. In the end, every decision about them was solidified, and though many will probably hope for a bigger role, they will get one that fits this fanfic universe appropriately. As stated many times before, this is a story for ‘new’ masters.

To be honest, I was a bit ‘meh’ about writing two romance-centric fragments back to back, but it was inevitable because of the nature of the servant in question. Though it was a small joke in the entry itself, Tamamo’s character and romantic/devoted ideals go hand in hand. That’s not to say she doesn’t have other aspects to her vivid character that wasn’t shown and explored, but it plays a big part.

The real trouble was the same with the other major protag servants: It’s hard to really make anything new with someone so fleshed out. All I could do was offer a big reveal, fun foreshadowing, and plenty of relaxing moments in her current life. There were several more interactions I wished to jump on, but I felt it was necessary to touch upon the bigger ones to further flesh out some of the dynamics. I’ll have to slip in other ones in the background somehow.

Teaser: To serve one’s ruler was a high honor, no matter how mundane nor impossible the task. To do so elegantly, flawlessly, and precisely was a balance long refined. The chance to do so again was not missed, even as a mere server, and occasionally a spy once more. For the sake of their loving queen’s smile, they’d be whatever she wished them to be.

Author’s Mid-April Update

Hey readers!

I know it’s been a crazy time for most, and I hope you’re staying safe and healthy. Even with my main career currently on hold, the sidework and other assorted projects have been keeping me relatively busy. Still healthy and kicking too.

That unfortunately meant FoC fell further to the wayside than I had intended, but my tendency to focus/drive hard on the current task usually means something gets hit in the crossfire.

That said, there’s a few notes I’d like to make here to bring some things up to speed:

1. The website has been brought completely up to date to have the proper information the series has provided thus far. This includes additions to several of the lore pages found under the series’ information tab. If there’s anything else that seems amiss, please inform me and hopefully I’ll spot it in a timely manner!

2. Shards will be coming out a bit more frequently again now that the turmoil of the past few weeks has settled into an unsettling normalcy.

3. A new fragment will be dropping within the hour.

4. The discord links should all be working properly. I’ve been pretty damn bad at communication and getting back to everyone’s messages during the past months compared to my norm, but hopefully I can fix that once this weekend passes.

5. I’ve received a lot of well wishes, compliments, and more over the past few weeks that I can’t respond to directly on the tumblr (due to anon). To do so would also mean flooding the blog with well-meaning messages that would make reading questions/answers more than an easter egg hunt. I apologize, and would like to thank you directly, but I’ll have to compromise by placing it on the website too:

Once more, thank you all for the support you’ve shown throughout the years on this rather surprising endeavor of mine! 

I wouldn’t have gone as far as I have if it wasn’t for the tremendous show of fascination and interest many of you have shown, and it really does make me smile seeing how satisfied my fic has made many of you. It may just be a bunch of non-canon words that no one should take too seriously, but if it brightens someone’s day or helps another get through tougher times, than that’s more than I could’ve asked for. Even if it were to ground to a complete halt in the future, I hope the (at least) 2,000,000 words would help others long into the future.

Stay safe, optimistic, and healthy everyone! Thanks again for sticking around!

Fragment 112 Insight

A second entry for Caesar and Cleopatra, by virtue of the original being split and robbing both of them of a full fragment. Now they both ‘have’ one fragment each.

Event fragments usually wind up feeling a bit wonky. This one in particular felt jagged as I was doing the checks, but so long as it held the overall feel I was aiming for, I was fine letting it be. It wouldn’t be the first unconventional fragment that follows a ‘day in the life’ concept rather than looping subplots together while a chosen character goes about their day.

On to the whale in the living room: The wedding. I didn’t want to make it to read like a giant replay. A mostly romance fragment won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and with how rather ‘ordinary/human’ I designed it to be, it wasn’t going to have the flare of other fragments either. So based on plenty of behind the scenes interactions I’ve had with grooms and brides, I’ve went for another angle: Chopping it up into segments. It helps things move along quicker while skipping lengths of meandering content. There’s plenty as is without the fragmentation.

But that’s also partially the point. Many guests don’t get to see it, but those in the bridal party, immediate family, and special staff (photographers) glimpse many things behind ‘the magic’ of the big day. One is how rather human and non-chalant everything is during the whole process while you can sense the underlying feelings of nervousness from the big two. Most also don’t get to see how contrasting it is to see the bride and groom getting ready at different times, mostly because men usually don’t receive a ton of prepwork compared to the women.

There were a lot of references and interactions, but they were all limited mostly to the bridal party themselves since they’re the closest. It’s a shame I couldn’t open up new avenues and shed light on other connections they may have, but the most important ones take the spotlight on anyone’s wedding day. And, as usual, for the sake of some brevity in lengthy fragment entries, I wanted it shorter rather than brutally long.

Teaser: New Years Eve was a time of festivities and joy to bring in a hopeful future. With all the time she’d spent on earth or the Moon Cell, alive or as a spirit, she’d seen the years pass in many different colors. Her second one in Chaldea might not look to be the most spectacular yet, but it was a better one for certain. Whatever 2016 may bring, she’d at least count her blessings… and continue to groan over some unfortunate companions…

Fragment 111 Insight

An odd pick for Christmas, but we’re so often used to seeing it from our point of view that I thought an Oni’s take would be just as interesting. Not too far off either since Ibaraki enjoys festivals, but she’d have her own blend of Scrooge/Grinch mixed in for flavor. Plus she was a key pick to help forward the obvious subplot advancement for another character. Sometimes you just need to give a forceful shove to move a difficult rock into an upright position. Or nudge it in that direction, at least.

As much as Ibaraki could’ve been played with as a sweets-loving Oni the whole time, she’s still an Oni. I tried to tie all her loose ends together and outline her reasonings for not doing what she wants. Obviously all she cares about is Shuten at the moment, but there are other reasons she’s unknowingly giving more weight to than she realizes. I wanted it to walk a fine line that she’s both aware and unaware just how much others, and Chaldea, honestly mean for her.

What made her a bit more difficult to write is the lack of potential companions. Despite being accepted and ‘forgiven’ for what she did in the pre-TGL singularity, the Oni wasn’t about to try and make friends. Only a select few would bridge that gap, so I selected the one she’d likely care about for one reason or another. Save for the drinking team, Robin, and those with Oni Blood, I feel Nobunaga would be an instant click, so I capitalized on that. There were a few more I considered bolstering, like BB, but ultimately, I didn’t it getting too bulky. Sometimes a simple nod is enough to set an anchor.

Above all else, I wanted Ibaraki’s fragment to be more confrontational-minded than most. She’s there whether she likes everything that involves or not. So I made sure her interactions felt right and colorful, while also showing she’s not one of the better residents if one were to make a rank ladder. That was made obvious enough, or at least I hoped with how many anvils were dropped.

Teaser: There’s no teaser, rather an explanation instead. As I said earlier, Caesar & Cleopatra were partially robbed of a true full fragment since I combined the both of them earlier on. So instead of ruining the old one or granting them one each, the fair answer is to give them one more shared fragment. Caesar and Cleopatra are next, and it should be an obvious guess what that entails.