In the vast, limitless domain, where the darkness is peppered in stars for as far as the eyes could see and curtains of light reminiscent of the far north, rested a boy, tied to the fate which he had chosen. Powered by all of his strength and some more, the final frontier between life and destruction of humanity.
Only a select group of valiant and hopeful humans ever reached the area. They too were the same people who stood by him in his final moments, a time where he couldn't have been more grateful for their presence.
A couple of beings frequented the place every now and then. Erebus, a ghastly, two-headed beast constantly trying to break the creation, was always met with far greater resistance from Elizabeth, a governor of power assuming the form of a woman voyaging through the ends of the world and time to free the boy from what arguably could be called his real tomb. A proverbial one had also been raised in his memory in the tangible outside world, but even the same people who fought alongside him knew of the truth.
At the present moment, though, Elizabeth had companions. Those she left behind had come back to be of assistance. It was also the first time they met after a while. However, they didn't come to seek her for the purpose of small talks. For they managed to accomplish the goal she had been striving for.
Minato Arisato's grey iris met a pair of glistening yellow ones. Short, platinum blonde hair draped over the face of the woman providing her lap for his face to rest on. Tears fell onto his face as he blinked in quick succession, enhancing his vision with each.
"Welcome back…" Elizabeth struggled to let her words out as the tears kept falling. She took it upon herself to lay his head against her lap, waiting for him to open his eyes again. She rubbed her gloved hand all over his face, wiping away all the tears falling onto his face and tried her best to stifle hers.
Minato opened his mouth, but soon felt words would fail him. Instead, he let out a soft sigh. He turned his head away from the still sobbing Elizabeth, to the view of two people assuming apprehensive posture to the creature beyond his immediate vision. It plunged back into the ever-expanding darkness, releasing a scream that began as deafening before fading into the background.
Shortly after their body language relaxed, they turned around. Elizabeth noticed Minato using his hand to push against the ground and laid her arms across his back, helping him sit up.
"What's…going on?" Minato spoke for the first time, finding his hoarse voice surprising as he watched the two people approach him.
A man and a woman, carrying grimoires in their hands, clothes fitting for many formal occasions. The most notable detail that immediately jumped out, however, was their colour palette.
Platinum blonde hair complemented with headwear and clothes of the same hue of velvet blue as Elizabeth's. Gleaming yellow irises accentuated with trails of thin black rings. Fair complexion.
"It's a pleasure to finally meet you." It was the woman who spoke, exuding a much more mature aura. While Elizabeth had a sense of maturity herself, the woman in front of him both looked and spoke as if she was her elder. "My name is Margaret, Elizabeth's elder sister. This is Theodore, our younger brother." After bowing, she gestured to the man standing beside him.
"Pleased to be an acquaintance." Who in turn exercised the same gesture.
The one visible grey eye of the human darted back and forth between the two, from head to toe. Margaret laid her eyes on the younger sister providing the temporary back rest before breathing a sigh of relief.
"As you may assume at first glance, we are residents of the Velvet Room." Theodore continued, noting Minato's darting eyes. "Although, we think you might remember us from somewhere, as we have met before, in the middle of your own journey." Then pointed out a small yet likely important detail.
"Even for us, this is a special occasion. It's outside our regular policy to revisit past guests who have fulfilled their contracts, let alone one overseen by different attendants." Margaret instantly picked up on Theodore's exposition, filling the blanks Minato didn't know existed. "Even rarer for one in your condition." And then some more, within the first few minutes of the encounter.
"I think I remember…though, it's kinda fuzzy, like everything is right now." After giving himself a moment to gather his thoughts, Minato rubbed his temple. He then placed one hand on his leg, and pushed up, still with the help of Elizabeth who wrapped her arm around his shoulder. He could feel his nerves firing but not enough to put weight onto his feet, as he would have limped back down if it wasn't for her support.
"Velvet Room residents, right?" For the first time, Minato got a good look at the two attendants before him. One piece of detail from the meeting Margaret had alluded to sprung into his mind out of nowhere. He didn't know how, but it just did. "Is this just like the time when Igor was out, which caused a disturbance?" He wasted no time articulating it, the voice still carrying a slight tinge of hoarseness.
Upon the name drop, Margaret and Theodore stiffened, and their face went sullen, as if a ton of bricks just hit their heads. The atmosphere became dark, as if following suit to their whereabouts.
"What's wrong?" Naturally, this made Minato frown, along with a strange feeling rising from within.
Theodore stared at Margaret in silence, who sighed as she noticed the glare. The words appeared to be stuck in his throat.
"I'm afraid it's a little more…complicated than that." Which prompted Margaret to take over, delivering the news. "An unfortunate circumstance has befallen the Velvet Room. We're denied entry, and our master, along with our youngest sibling have been imprisoned."
Nobody missed Minato's visible eye immediately widen by a considerable amount and his pupils slightly shrinking, along with sensing a mild shudder. "…How?" He had unconsciously raised his tone with the one-word question and skipped the detail about another sibling.
"It was an unprecedented turn of events." Margaret lowered her gaze, and her tone. "However, on top of it all, we concede full responsibility for it."
Taking in the news, along with gaining his senses back, made Minato's head throb. It was as if something nobody other than him and Velvet Room residents could see had taken over.
"We're aware of how devastating this news is, and how overwhelming everything-"
"Sister! Give him a moment to collect himself, please." Elizabeth had to step in at the sight of her guest's sudden bewilderment. "It's unfair to deliver the full brunt of the situation in his current state." She placed a hand on his forehead before wiping the sweat away while using the other to rub his back, hoping it would provide some relief.
Both Elizabeth's decision to interrupt on behalf of the guest and her caressing took Margaret aback. The eldest sibling heard all about how the two became close, but it was the first time she witnessed it in person.
"I see…" Guilt rose from within Margaret and she took a step back. "I apologize for my crudeness." She said nothing else and gave time for everything to just simmer down.
Elizabeth had been quite worried since she detected what could possibly be the signs of acute anxiety, nursing Minato back to a much more acceptable mental state, all the while not letting go of him in the slightest. It was only when her gloves had become covered with sweat that she had to wipe off did he finally calm down.
"I've been meaning to ask…" She spoke on behalf of her guest again. "What's stopping you from trying to wrestle back control of Velvet Room by yourself, sister?" She believed the question would come out of his mouth sooner or later, and chose to get it out of the way herself.
"We can't simply wrestle it back." Margaret sighed, though appreciative of the inquiry, and the directness. "While we rule over power, it's not complemented with subtlety. The confines of the Velvet Room allow its residents to watch over the outside world. A showcase of our strength wouldn't go unnoticed."
"Again, what's stopping you, sister?" Elizabeth, not entirely convinced, challenged Margaret's reasoning. Maybe rightfully so. "What about the perpetrator makes you this cautious, on top of going through the lengths of coming here?"
Margaret sighed in exasperation, feeling as if fingers were being pointed at her. Although, she had prepared for the eventuality of the question. Not a pleasant feeling regardless of circumstances.
"They're highly likely to be quite knowledgeable about the Velvet Room, which includes its history of guests." The sisters exchanged gazes, before Margaret laid her own back at Minato. "Just a small mishap on my part might send the world into ruin. And although we as Velvet Room residents are sworn to not interfere, I'd hate to see it fall."
Elizabeth felt a chord being struck gently in her subconscious after hearing those last few words. Still, after glancing at Minato, who had calmed down, she shot another glare straight at Margaret's very own yellow irises.
"We only get one shot at this." Margaret pressed a proverbial finger onto a proverbial desk, returning the glare Elizabeth gave her. "And it needs to be perfect."
While Elizabeth started to understand the current state, and how much hers and Margaret's intentions actually aligned, something still didn't sit right with her. For that, she had to look back to the time when they last met.
"So, it's the reason you forgo the choice to request assistance from your guest, who even I would deem capable enough…" Meeting Margaret's guest wasn't one experience she could just forget, for it taught her a valuable lesson. She also had a chance to gauge his abilities, after all. "And instead choose to relieve Minato from his voluntary slumber just to put him through what could very well be another ordeal!?" Which lead to the real reason why she even challenged Margaret's way of thinking.
"We're afraid you'd refuse on his behalf if we tell the whole story before releasing him." Instead of Margaret, Theodore answered the question.
Hearing that made Elizabeth grew more enraged, feeling she had been lied to. On top of that, it came from the same Theodore who used to cower before his siblings, regardless of hierarchy.
"As arcane as we might be with our guests, we don't withhold crucial information from them, let alone from each other!" One of the things she learned during her own tenure as an assistant, watching over Minato's life for the duration of his contract, was that doing so favoured nobody. "I might've considered it then, but now I won't accept it! I demand you return-"
"Elizabeth, I understand your feelings. And I admit we should've further consulted with you." Margaret cut Elizabeth off, trying her best to not let rage consume her younger sister. As for Theodore, it just couldn't be helped. "I too was initially reluctant to take this step. But with our options quickly dwindling, it became apparent to us that this is the only option left." She too felt a great deal of guilt for having stuck with the decision.
"Elizabeth…" In the midst of all that, Minato had come to. His hoarse voice gained everybody's attention. "Can I have some water?"
Without saying a word, Elizabeth snatched a bottle of water Theo just brought out and poured nearly all of it into Minato's open mouth. "Thank goodness..." With his thirst quenched, she breathed a sigh of relief. "Are you alright?"
All she received in return was a nod. Nevertheless, it brought a stream of relief, as fear mixed with rage led to the confrontation which might continue had it not been for his interruption.
"Though you weren't a stranger to intense conversations, we apologize for making you witness ours." Margaret and Theodore realized Elizabeth wasn't the one they should be apologizing to. "We didn't consider how overwhelming all of this is for you." Perhaps without Minato cutting off, the bickering would've continued.
"So that's why I'm here right now…" Minato's bewilderment didn't bar him from catching into the siblings' heated moment, and it helped him put things into perspective.
"I'll cut to the chase." With Minato's mental state stabilised, Margaret could finally get to it. She straightened her posture, directing her gaze at the bluenette trying his best to stand straight. "The nature of the Velvet Room combined with the perpetrator's knowledge makes you our only available option. Your presence is crucial, as it should allow us to fight back to regain control of the Velvet Room quietly."
"If you could help us… Well, you'd be drawn into a bitter conflict." Although it would go without saying, Theodore still delivered the warning of what might lie ahead. "Still, the truth is, we don't have a lot of hope without you." He finished, his face seemingly gleaming with the said hope.
Feeling the need to address her younger sister, Margaret looked at Elizabeth, whose embrace of her guest hadn't wavered in the slightest. "And Elizabeth, I know the ship has long sailed…" Margaret tried getting Elizabeth's best attention by alluding to the decision she made long ago. "But if it's for him, the one you're in a relationship with, will you join us once more?"
Just after a few minutes being with them, Margaret had taken a fair bit of notice of their closeness. Perhaps spending some time with them would allow her to understand more about Elizabeth's infatuation with her guest in the first place.
"Yes, I will." After a lengthy pause, Elizabeth gave the answer.
"That makes the two of us." Followed by Minato, having steeled himself before firmly grasping Margaret's outstretched hand and gave it a gentle shake.
"Thank you." The heavy feeling over the possibility of rejection subsided in Margaret's consciousness. Had it come true, she might not know what to do with herself.
With the new piece acquired, they all looked forward to what the foreseeable future might bring. First, though, they need to leave the place. The threat had been dealt with, for the time being.
"What now?" Minato promptly asked, having examined their whereabouts.
"We start by leaving this place…" Margaret swiped her arm, spawning a door. "It'd be some time before Erebus returns. We'll shoulder the burden of looking after the Great Seal and make sure it stays untouched." She turned the handle, letting blinding white light shoot through.
Minato then tried to walk, only to find his legs going limb again before he could even make the first step. Luckily, Elizabeth managed to catch him before he face-planted himself. She threw his arm around her shoulders, making sure he had support.
"Guess I gotta get used to this again…" He made a light chuckle, despite Elizabeth's worried look.
Elizabeth threw her tome right into Theodore's hands, then snaked her arms around Minato's back and legs. In all of a sudden, she lifted him off the ground, with obvious ease. His slight confusion turned into surprise, with his cheeks slightly reddening. A more expressive person would have grinned from ear to ear, but all he could muster was a light smirk and a giggle.
That aside, he couldn't help but feel something similar had happened before, with him also at the receiving end.
Elizabeth began carrying Minato towards the door. Margaret and Theodore followed closely before shutting it. The threat might appear again, but they'd be on hand to deal with it.
In the light of P5R, along with unearthing a few things about both this game and P3, I've decided to redo this all over again. I had a long look at my 18-chapter work and that's the decision I came to. However, I won't delete it, as I worked hard to get it to where it is, and I want to make it a reminder as well as a source of comparison.
Among other things, I decided to replace, add, as well as remove some things that existed in P5: Another Player in the Game in the construction phase of this one. Some of which will appear in the next chapter. The reason for these changes is simply due to developing a headcanon backed by some research. Some of that can also be contributed to the change in the way I write as I go about constructing these chapters.
When it comes to P5R, I definitely thought Atlus were past that practice, as technology has progressed to the point where you can just fix, add, and remove contents on the fly. While I think the first edition of P5 is a complete game that deserved all of the applauds and needed little changes, the stuff they put into P5R basically makes the first edition obsolete to me. Even though the release came three years removed from the first edition, I felt deep in my heart that it didn't have to be that way anymore. It makes me wary of enhanced releases in the future. Even if that doesn't happen, and it leaves me years late to the party, then so be it. I completely understand that I'm in the overwhelming minority who feels this way.
Anyway, this is a double-header. The next chapter will be released in conjunction to this one. Then I pray to God I don't run into any problems, both in writing this and my other works.
I deeply appreciate all the support you guys give me. I couldn't have mustered all the courage to do this without you guys, even though I always have the mindset of just writing as if I'm the only one reading it.
I also want to extend all the prayers to everyone out there working their asses off in the middle of this pandemic, and hope there really is light at the end of the tunnel. Until then, be sure to follow all the health and safety protocols and stay safe.