One final relaxing entry in a row before we start rolling alongside some feels again. It’s the season to be merry, but to get there, some pinches of the opposite always help to brighten the highlights even more.
December is finally back in Chaldea. This is but the first of many fragments to feature it since there’s plenty of holiday material to reference and enjoy. To start it off (mostly because of some last foundations I needed to lay), I figured it’d be decent to begin with a perspective of the season from an outside view: An Oni’s. One who loves pleasures in excess, for a season that often revels in good cheer, festivities, and the kindest emotions.
As an Oni, Shuten’s impulses and reactions should evidently swing to the extremes. The difference is Shuten seems to pursue pleasurable excess as a focus. What helps the most is she usually indulges in alcohol, which by its nature is a depressant with sedative effects. That would feasibly make her mood swings far less common and her impulses a bit dampened… by virtue of almost constantly being drunk/tipsy.
That said, the extremes would still be pretty evident, and I tried to show it through both her and Ibaraki. Their vastly different mannerisms also help to convey that Onis, like people, can be wildly different and can’t simply be blanketed as “demonic beings”. There’s a bit of humanizing to them, but at the same time, I hope I made it pretty damn clear they’re still something else entirely.
That made the interactions a lot more diverse, I feel. Those the Onis would get along with. Those who’d be acquaintances by circumstance. The list goes on, but their actions and decisions would be very unusual by human standards. Ibaraki just taking entire trays and going all out against Rama. Shuten being so dangerously flirtatious and suggestive to Kintoki to toy with him. To interact with an Oni is to expect something in excess, and I hope many parts showcased that.
As noted, there was one final scene where I wanted to both relate Shuten towards similar ‘morally questionable beings’ (whether still or reformed) while also finalizing the biggest parts of a closing arc. Again, an issue with writing fragments where every entry is from someone else’s perspective, plus no repeats, means some scenes may inevitably be unfairly shown. The scene for Omar and Kiyohime is one heavy example where showing it feasibly through a vision orb would rob it of much of its emotion.
…But that’s why Lost Shards exists, right? The rightful perspective of that scene can be found there. Complete with permanent author’s note to point the way.
And, as I said, it’s time for the feel trips to begin anew.
Teaser: Despite her personality, so many were nice to her… Too many. It was ridiculous, really. Some even treated her well because of what she supposedly did in that future singularity. But she remembered none of it. Why would she need to? There was no way something like her would have done any of that. Saved these three masters, befriended them… loved them… No. There was no way, or so she so adamantly believed.
Another sort of relaxing chapter with some hidden undertones. I wish to give readers that flavors they wish to taste before I start pouring on the feel trips that are coming soon. In fact, it’s practically one after the other, which is quite a strange thing to anticipate considering Chaldea is now in December.
That aside, the focus for this time is Paracelsus. At his core, he is a scholar and a man in pursuit of how best to gift knowledge to others. As expected, it was best shown in his dealings with the controversial Clock Tower team and Janice. In the pupil, he gets to provide that continued trickle of taught wisdom to another. For the Clock Tower, it’s his benevolence and willingness to look past what happened for the sake of making a better future.
That’s why I found it interesting that despite his pursuits, he was willing to stain his hands during Fate/Prototype timeline. With that angle, it set the stage for his willingness to help very early in the series as many recall (and this fragment touches upon again). He wishes to do good for the world, but rarely are decisions actually pure black and white as my series often underlines in passing arcs.
As such, despite his wish not to, Paracelsus can’t help but see himself stain his hands for the sake of a result. “The Ends justify the means.”
It would help make even the little slips, like Janice’s attempt to juggle alchemical ingredients, seem that much more glaring to the caster. He’d still handle it his own way, which includes bottling up his true feeling on the matter. That also wouldn’t stop him from committing to another act even if he knew the method was wrong, as shown in the very last scene. It’s a sad cycle for him, and it could even be said he does it because he believes wholeheartedly in the end result. At the same time, he also wouldn’t dare repeat what happened in a certain other timeline.
Just like with Vlad’s fragment, we get a second reinforcing glint of Chaldea’s current state. Good vibes fill the facility because of the holiday, but Paracelsus still picks out the glass floor they walk on. Despite that, he picks out the beauty of what is a bit more than Vlad’s fragment did through other interactions. In the end, it’s still his fragment, so each bit of this character-analysis style piece had to help color him in different ways.
To no one’s surprise, that meant his bar flaring hobby was going to make a reappearance. I didn’t make it as detailed as I could have, but I’ve shown it a few times before. I didn’t want to harp on it too much, but decided to finally showcase why it was interesting to him. Hopefully the calculations, timings, and so forth gave a new glimpse at just how impressive bar flaring can be (servant or not)
As a final point, this is actually the video that first inspired Paracelsus’ bar flaring venture (Complete with music track):
Teaser: Monster. That was a word the humans used to describe her best. It was fitting by their perspective. She wouldn’t deny it either, but those scared humans merely didn’t understand why they acted how they did. It wasn’t their fault their kind was stronger, but unlike her kin, she often didn’t use that strength unless she really wished to. No, if she had any wish at all, it was to play around and enjoy the many pleasurable offerings life could provide. Chaldea just happened to provide that bounty.
I had to fix the viewpoint of this fragment heavily because it was split evenly between Mordred and Iskandar. The latter still gets a tiny few perspective shifts, but they were by necessity as final paving stones for the supplement.
The intent of this fragment was to show multiple sides for Mordred. First and foremost, she has her memories from Apocrypha, which includes that final conclusion she came to when spending her last moments with Kairi. That viewpoint goes a long way to shifting how she acts, but I made sure she wasn’t entirely off base with her lingering frustrations and angers. In the end, even if she realizes what is, she’s still a childish and rough servant.
At the same time, she’s arguably a child at heart. Emotions can get to her, but heaven be damned if she shows it to anyone. That doesn’t mean it can’t slip out if the right servant is present. To me, I always thought her and Iskandar would get along strangely on some level. He also had a lot of possible insight to offer since he fought against Arturia, which included that tense reveal over how he viewed her. All of it made for great setup for things to come.
Save for the usual grammar corrections and refinements, only the perspective needed to be fixed. Nearly every part of the fragment remained intact, which was a far cry from the state of the following supplement. Nevertheless, it served as a great launch point.
Which brings up one last point: I was initially very hesitant on actually doing a supplement. I realized something big needed to be done in order to shift viewpoints and develop characters (and their relations), but I was concerned about purposefully redirecting others towards a related work in order to get the full story. It wound up working out well in the end, even if the supplements were discontinued completely after the fourth one.
Obviously community event fragments would remain without a focus: The focus is the community. That made it great grounds for using scenes to set up future developments while also offering a sampler platter of different sights.
Initially, this fragment was pretty rampant with inconsistencies and design oddities. I fixed many things like costumes to interactions in order to make it feel more streamlined and viable. At the same time, I wanted to retain exactly what I wanted from its initial conception: That the community was starting to grow a little more united visibly. They may still have many differences, but it should be clearer to the audience how things are developing.
The Halloween fragment gave me an opportunity to also address some of the costume servants. I wasn’t about to have Caster Elizabeth become a Memorial Essence, so a costume change was the obvious route. There’s a few other curious costumes presented too, both for laughs or outright simplicity. For the overall mood, I wanted to ensure tension remained almost non-existent.
Clearly the only exception is Gawain’s entrance, which is far more aggressive than what canon lines would infer. However, it was a curious angle I wanted to work with to help flesh out the incoming singularity more. It felt like missed opportunity that Gawain wasn’t being at least a bit more confrontational with certain servants (depicted in FGO and Extra), so that was definitely something I doubled down on. He also wasn’t the last arrival dispositions I shifted, whether with the help of memorial essences or not.
Finally, there’s yet a third scene that toes the line between raunchy and passable for the rating. That’s all the series will ever get to, though; I don’t write explicit stuff. All that mattered was what is about to or what could have happened, which either raises emotional tension or gives a satisfying payoff for build up. In this case, just another stepping stone from Chaldea’s often pushy master.
Mashu’s fragment wound up being a strange way to explore her friendship with others. We get light glimpses of it throughout Season 1, but I didn’t quite make a solid statement over how others servants come to see her. This little sick episode was made to hopefully remedy that while giving a few first reveals on who Gudao was going to end up with. By now, I was set on what was going to pan out, and even had some of Season 2 mapped out accordingly.
There was still a supplement to get to though.
One interaction I wanted to cement before then was Mashu’s relation to Arturia; Jeanne too for the FGO Trio poster reference. The King’s inklings were far more vague before, but with more precise translations, I shifted any Camelot viewpoints about her to knowing exactly which servant saved her. It was a rather easy revision, and it even allowed me to add more introspection for her.
Those two were far from the only ones to visit Mashu. With the smorgasbord of visits, I intended to show many have come to see her as a dependable ally and friend, even if she has so many reservations herself. I was careful not to overly establish what readers already knew, but I had to reiterate for the sake of making everything clear.
Originally, there were a striking number of scenes that shifted perspective away from her. Astolfo’s remains a culprit, but it wouldn’t have made sense if I shifted Mashu’s perspective completely over that scene. I figured some exposition or a slight perspective shift here and there could slide without being too jarring.
Looking back after the small changes, it’s a little ironic. I try to limit the number of focuses a character can get, but technically, Mashu has a fragment and co-stars in two supplements. That’s far more than most, but I think being FGO’s star demi-servant means she can roughly get away with it. She did have one hell of a journey that only continues in the Lostbelts.
This fragment was originally inspired by watching that related Prillya episode where Kuro and Illya had a cook-off. I realize that, yes, it can be roughly assumed Illya and Kuro see each other as close sisters by the time Chaldea rescues them, but I believed there’s still that often expected thorn of sibling rivalry/jealousy. Emiya might not by the Shirou they remembered, but he’s still their current older brother.
So that’s the angle I went with, and was content to leave. With the help of Jack and Nursery Rhyme, Illya was going to try and win newfound respect from her brother. The competition just happened to have all different flavors of spectacle, from eyebrow-raising to light comedy: A community event that later took out more perspectives while retaining some reveals.
In the revisit, I amped up Illya and Kuro’s interactions because the latter admittedly got pretty gimped and hand waved due to growing length. Now it feels far more in line with what I intended with their feelings.
I made sure Blackbeard’s little reveal remained intact. I found his true depiction in FGO to be disappointing, so back then, and even still, I do what I can to ensure that he remains a cringey otaku yet still shows those clear signs he was a ruthless cunning pirate feared around the world. Cooking was a strange way to do it, but it served its purpose from a different angle.
In the end, Illya’s fragment could have possibly done more to bloom new developments, but it happens later in the series anyway. Again, just a matter of balancing through revisions to bring the early works closer to the line.
By the time it was Sasaki’s fragment, the lone-character spotlight was a mandatory design. From here on, I found myself making very little corrections to get rid of multiple viewpoints. One or two remained by necessity.
This one was a return to the standard norm of living that was seen in the earlier fragments. Simplistic interactions, run-ins, and musings would form the foundation for many ‘mundane’ fragments that help level the series’ overall tone. As such, the only thing I needed to add when revisiting this fragment were a few teasers, brevity on descriptive introductions, and dialogue flavoring.
Back then, I wanted to bring out his character as Chaldea’s literal first servant. He’s seen it all. He’s grown a routine and stuck with it. There wasn’t very much change in his disposition save for being mellow, so the intent was to show how he gets along with everyone. That included Medea, who he still teases and ribs as his way of ‘getting back’ at her for their grail war. By all means, it’s a much more subdued response compared to what canon infers.
The series does take note of some fanon and other popular ideas, but I make it a habit not to let it influence the work in general. In the end, I’m still the one who has to forge the path ahead where every choice has repercussions. Relationships were the big ones. That’s why, even though Martha and Sasaki are a pretty popular thing, I decided to just leave them as friends. That still persists to the end as a staple to the idea not everyone needs a relationship. I still aim for balance.
It was around this time I started doubling down on the series’ own in-house designs. The rooms and staff were already a clear indication this was a divergence, but I decided to adapt some game mechanics besides just saint quartz. The most notable was using multiple copies of a servant to upgrade their noble phantasm, but this had diminishing returns. This game design became the foundation for a very important world concept: The Memorial Essence.
With it, I was able to explain why duplicates don’t appear because of what happens when someone to similar to an ‘original’ is summoned. It opened a lot of avenues that would have likely remained closed off otherwise. The Emiya family, without any doubt, is the poster child for what sort of avenues could be opened. Without it, only vague recollections of feelings would have been viable, but I used it as a means to make the targeted Slice of Life possible.
Of course, that led to a lot of introspection on Kiritsugu’s part. It’s the first glimpse of how Memorial Essences can completely shift how people view the world, so there was a lot of room for refinement. I did add quite a few lines and made some paragraphs more precise, but I left some reveals from future fragments where they were. The important bits were covered so that was enough for me.
Arguably, Kiritsugu’s FGO personality was lost as a result. It’s very apparent he’s now far more aligned to his Zero self. It was one of those first decisions that influence everything else to come, but by now, I was adamant on picking a course for the world and going through with it. My choice was to rebuild the Emiya Family and give them a second chance, and so I went for it, with the inclusion of Illya and Kuro arriving as the prominent statement of direction.
Little had to be touched to bring this one back into line save for some perspective shifts. For the most part, it was like Anton or Dante’s fragment. It was another of the growing number of sole-focus fragments that would be the series’ staple.
As you may have noticed, I will be taking the time to remake and upload new insight pages that have been missing for months. Fragments 9 through 15 have already been reuploaded, leaving only six more to go. I should have the rest of them done by the weekend.
As a result of this, there may only be one new shard for the next weeks since these soaked up some time. However, the fragment will remain on schedule.
This entry was one of the last ones I made where focus was split between multiple groups, but wasn’t a holiday or special fragment by design. Its overall theme remained the same: Gudao has a day off now that Gabrielle is a fellow master and can tackle some awful paperwork. Mashu accompanies for him, and together they share a sampler platter of many different activities.
Of course, when you have Mashu being so close to Gudao, it was only bound to attract attention from those looking to be with him. At this point in the series, it’s still Kiyohime and Tamamo. As a mark of development, their little day together reminds them of how it used to be as penpals. They just happened to be fighting over the same master this time.
Like most other later fragments in Season 1, this one only needed to be revisited and not revised. The overall premise and design was comfortable and focused, but just needed tweaks to reach the raised standard. The trick is ensuring the original remains as is without knocking anything over.
A lot of scenes still remain where they have a bit of point of view, but I dialed it back a fair amount without jeopardizing the little sideshow. In its place, you got a bit more of Gudao’s perspective and thoughts and some additional dialogue/interactions with others. All of it was further refined to ensure Gudao gets portrayed as a different, calmer master who’d experienced a lot (and almsot opposite of Gabrielle), but remains another human who wants to enjoy his time accordingly.
As usual, it also introduces a bunch of new servants who had already been there. Character Bloat is best dealt with in minor increments.
While it didn’t do anything as direct as Anton’s fragment, I had more drops of inferred feelings for both Mashu and Gudao. I did it back then as a setup for the first supplement, which was already being planned and designed accordingly. Of course, it too got a revamp to its current state, but I’m glad many designs and decisions still remained great foundations despite showing their age.
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