“Cmon, why not! Youve got nothing to lose!”
“Why must I even turn into a monster in the first place!”
“Stop being cheap! Keep that up and Ill rip your tongue off!”
“You fool! Do that, and Ill put a paw stamp of these glasses!”
“Okay, I mightve gone too far with the tongue! Youre still cheap though!”
“Yeah, I mightve gone too far with the glasses, too! Youre still a fool, though!”
Did Pochi just… tone down her rebuttal because the value of its severity didnt match my rash remark
She sure knows how to cut a deal, huh
“Just hear me out here – It wont even change how you look, just your powers! Its not that bad of a deal, right”
“…Did you even explain that during the few minutes we spent arguing, sir”
Welp, what a blunder.
“…Bah! Youre such a fool, Master!”
An angry Siberian Husky has appeared.
She seems quite riled up about it, too.
Lets wait and see what shell-
“Ow-! Damn it, you actually bit into my meat there! Good God, that freaking hurt-!”
Pochi bit my leg as hard as she could.
In return, I spun my body around and flung her far away… was what happened only in my imagination.
She didnt budge away from me at all.
Goes to show just how much my Familiar likes me, eh
“Ah – wait! Pochi! Theres a monster behind you!”
“You cant fool me with such a blatant lie, sir!”
Pochi bit even harder; only right before I let out a scream at the bleeding of my leg did she let go.
“Of course I am! That doesnt mean Im letting you off the hook, though! Hmph!”
Pochi, now gigantified, towered over me.
“What the-! Hey, the monster behind you is gonna-“
“No, its not! Hmph!”
“OUCH! WHAT THE F- I thought we banned that move five hundred years ago! Violating an agreement is a crime, you know!”
“I dont even know what youre saying!”
I do, actually…
It was –I dont remember something from that far back.
“H-hey, Im bleeding here! Let go! Let go, damn it!”
Pochi released me from her mouth, and as I fell down, stepped on my c.h.e.s.t.
All the while, the monster behind Pochi was still there; it prepared to rush at her.
“Watch out, Pochi! Rise, Fire!”
Pochi dodged my blast, making way for it to annihilate the Frilled Dragon behind her.
She then turned around to see the monsters remains, now a pile of charcoal.
“…There actually was something there! Why didnt you tell me, Master!”
“Ive already warned you twice, birdbrain!”
“But it didnt sound like I would be in danger! Thats why I didnt get the message, sir!”
Bah, shes still trying to paint me in a bad picture just to justify herself.
Thats it – Im going to rub a whole lot of chili pepper extract onto her toothbrush tonight, then erase the trace right after she uses it…
Pochi proceeded to disengage her gigantification.
We sat down, facing each other.
“Hmm, I think the taste of your blood mightve changed a bit, Master”
“Are you seriously saying that so casually Were not in a restaurant, for Gods sake…”
“Its… more acidic than before, I guess But this is just how I like it, sir!”
“Stop talking about that already, damn it.”
Right after saying that, Pochi instantly turned her face away.
What in blazes is wrong with her this time Is she… blushing Why
“Bythe way I like it, I mean the taste, sir! The taste! I wasnt talking about you, Master!”
“…Whatre you even embarrassed about”
“N-nothing! Just explain the Archetype Changer already, sir!”
With Pochi threatening me with the nails on both her front paws, I nodded in agreement.
“A-all right, fine.
Well… First of all…”
I pulled out my knife and started writing on the dirt with its handle.
Pochi read along, occasionally pushing up the glasses she wore… Hey, hol up a minute.
“Hey, its about time you gave back my glasses.”
“Oh, just let me hold on to it for now, sir.
Its not often that I get to play with this, you know – focus on writing that, Master!”
“That things not a toy, you know… Oh well.
Here, this should do it.”
ARCHETYPE CHANGER INFO: SIMPLIFIED ARCHETYPE BREAKDOWN
Dragon Archetype: High offensive ability and life force.
Increased body resilience, but somewhat reduced agility.
(Example: Dragon, Lord Dragon)
Avian Archetype: Increased agility and offensive ability.
Low life force and defensive ability.
(Example: Harpy, Gryphon)
Beast Archetype: Decent offensive ability and high body resilience.
Average agility and life force.
No noteworthy advantages, but also no glaring flaws.
(Example: Minotauros, Murder Tiger)
Ogre Archetype: Extremely high offensive ability and life force.
Fine defensive ability, but disappointing agility.
Undead Archetype: Improved physical abilities across the board.
Bad breath and body odor.
Demi-human Archetype: Lesser physical enhancement compared to the Undead Archetype, but doesnt stink.
(Example: Goblin, Kobold)
Giant Archetype: Greater enhancement compared to Ogre Archetype, but agility is much lower.
(Example: Cyclops, Troll)
Plant Archetype: Tough body and high life force.
Greatly increased weakness to fire.
(Example: Trent, Raflessia)
Lifeless Archetype: Improved abilities across the board except for agility.
Greatly increased weakness to arcane energy.
(Example: Slime, Golem)
Pochi pondered the information over, resting her chin on her front paws.
“Id recommend the Undead-“
“NO! Anything but that! What were you even thinking, suggesting that to a lady like me!”
“H-hey, just food for thought…”
The Undead Archetype offers such a good balance of enhancements, though…
“Hmm… First off, I wouldnt want to lose any speed, sir.”
“Which leaves us with Avian, Beast, Demi-human… and Undead- ow! Hey, you didnt need to punch me for that!”
“Its a PAW STAMP, sir! And yes, that did warrant a punch from me!”
Bah, no need to be that petty, doggo.
I crossed the discarded choices off the list; Pochi scanned over the remaining ones, giving them serious thought.
Right, this IS an important decision.
The time was almost midnight; I planned to wait a long time for Pochis answer.
But then she broke the silence faster than I had expected.
“So… even if I become an Avian, I wouldnt be able to fly, would I”
“Well, yeah, you dont have any wings.
Like I said – it wont change how you look.
Besides, I wouldnt recommend the Avian Archetype anyway.”
“Why not, sir”
“Its because we havent had many sightings of Avian monsters.
The Archetype Changer can only give you the ability modifiers of monsters that the Appraisal Glasses have scanned, you see.
The best one we have right now is the A-ranked Gryphon, but youd like the modifiers to at least come from an S-ranker, right”
Pochi, nodding in agreement with my explanation, crossed the choice off with her nail before I did.
“What would you recommend, then”
“Its already been crossed out, so sorry about that, but Id say the Dragon Archetype.
The Chaos Lizard is pretty awesome, and Ive scanned the Kiryu when we first got to this era, too.”
“Dragons, you say…”
Well, she doesnt seem to like the Dragon Archetype very much.
And that dislike had been worsened by her recent fight with Dīnō, too…
Pochi blurted out, seeming to have realized something.
Whats going on
“If it works that way… Shouldnt it be fine if the modifiers werent scanned from a monster, sir”
“What do you mean”
Not beast-type monsters, but plain old beasts.”
“Yeah, of course that can work, but even wolves are already high on the tier list of animals, you know If you want better modifiers from animals, then – Ah…”
“Thats right, Master.
You shouldve gotten a look at it.
The strongest Avian ever… in the Regalia Ravine…”
“Oh! OOOOHHHH! The Shishichou! The Violet Phoenix!”
In a show-off gesture, Pochi crossed her arms and snorted.
Of course – the Heavenly Beasts! Id completely forgotten that they were even a choice; their potential certainly was an important thing to consider.
Pochi seemed on board with the whole thing, and going this route meant she wouldnt have to turn into a monster.
That was a wonderful alternative in and of itself.
“Youre a genius!”
“Man, I cant believe I missed that!”
“All right, gotta hurry and build that Craft Circle!”
“Eh-heh-heh-hem – Hmm Dont you think you should praise me some more, Master”
“Dont worry – I can already imagine what youll say after that.
So Ive praised you a whole lot in my imagination!”
“How can you be so sure of that, Master!”
“‘Eh-heh-heh-hem! Hows what, sir! Have you now realized the power of Master Pochi! Oh, the lights are still on at Kugg Village, arent they I wouldnt mind you treating me to a midnight snack at the bar, sir! – Thats what youre going to say, isnt it”
Pochi held both her cheeks with her front paws, unable to hide her excitement; I started drawing the Craft Circle.
Silently and indifferently…
“Ngh… I never knew that you could read minds, Master!”
“Nope, I didnt do that.”
“Hmm, a Craft Circle on the ground… so its a fixed-position type, sir”
Pochi stepped onto the Circle and scanned over its formulas.
“Changing your modifier to that of the Heavenly Beasts will probably eat up a lot of arcane energy, you see.
Thats gonna be hard to manage with the usual air draw… All right, Pochi, you ready”
I should be saying that to myself.
“Bring it on!”
“I can just turn you back when we deal with the Devil King in our era! Dont worry!”
Will she really be alright
“Just bring it on, sir!”
“It wont change you physically nor mentally! Just stay calm!”
No, YOU calm the hell down, Asley!
“…Master Dont tell me… youre chickening out”
“Ahaha… Dont worry about it, Master – I believe in you.”
Pochi whispers to me, her expression calm.
Having received encouragement from Pochi at the last second, I steeled my resolve and supplied the Craft Circle with energy.
Just like the Familiar Contract, this craft needed the agreement of the other party to take effect.
I uttered the words out, while also trying to keep the trembling of my voice in my throat.
“I shall not alter thy appearance.
Doth thou swear to taketh the effect of the Archetype Changer”
Look at that – she barked just like she had back when we had forged the Familiar Contract.
“I hereby calleth this one the Violet Phoenix, my Familiar, my friend, the contracteth of which seald with a bond of Drynium Steel.
May our bond eternally unbroken, our friendship everlasting… I asketh thee once again: Doth thou swear to taketh the effect of the Archetype Changer”
“Ahaha, whats up with that contractual language, sir …Woof!”
Shut up, furball.
“-! Here, I invoke the Archetype Changer!”
Arcane energy swirled to form a giant vortex, wrapping Pochi within its dead center.
Its light penetrated the dark clouds into the sky above – the beam wouldve reached the sun if not for the fact that it wasnt visible now.
Illuminating the sky with what seemed almost as bright as daylight, those particles congregated, then poured down on Pochi again.
When the beam of light disappeared, the Craft Circle on the ground faded away.
Looks like its done now.
The owner of the voice was, without a doubt, Pochi.
Why had it come from behind, though I brushed aside the fear of looking back, turning my whole body in the direction of that voice.
There, I saw Pochi, holding my glasses in her paws.
Shes all right.
Just as I had thought, her physical appearance was unchanged.
But what was up with the tone of her voice Was it just me, or did she just sound… apologetic and deeply troubled!
Could that have an effect on her mental health, then!
“The frame of your glasses… got a little bent, sir…”
I crumbled down to my knees, holding my face in both my hands, eyes glaring at the earth visible through my fingers.
Then I took a deep breath.
And THEN I look up at the dark clouds above.
What should I do with this air thats filling my lungs
Ah, thats right, I can shout with it.
Im going to let it all out, along with all the resentment Ive built up day after day.
…At my friend, whos now scrambling to fix the frame of my glasses to no avail.
Whats my first resentment on the list, one might ask
That answer is clear as day.
Its practically self-explanatory under this situation.
Oh, but you have no idea, Pochi…
Now, the air in my lungs wants to get out.
Its pushing out with all its might.
Its going to blow everything away, so as to hide away these streams of water from my eyes.
No, Grand Philosopher Asley.
You can do it.
Blow it up.
“YOU HAD ME WORRIED OVER NOTHING!!!!”
Pochi rolled her eyes; I knew very well what she would be saying after that.
Im a mind reader, after all.
Only works on a certain stupid dog around here, though.
“Shut up, you fool!!”
“YOU shut up, furball!!”
See, nailed it.