From Childhood's Hour, I Have not Been as Others Were

Nobu Shigeru liked to think of himself as a fairly normal man. He knew he ate like his fellow men. He drank like his fellow men, though he may have preferred something without the alcohol, thank you very much. He studied as did his fellow students. Indeed, as far as Shigeru could tell, he should be as all those around him were.

But then, perhaps that wasn't entirely fair to his comrades on the mortal coil. Most of them weren't orphaned at ten, left with inattentive relatives only to be unceremoniously dumped in the city to attend first a prestigious high school, as a transfer no less, followed immediately by its esteemed college.

And again, perhaps it wasn't normal to be financially independent and secure at only twenty years old. Those parents? Quite successful for themselves before their passing. They founded and owned an accounting practice, and quite a successful one at that, if only regionally so. They had even broken into the upper crust of society, though only the lower level of it. They had planned out a wonderful future for their son, with money stashed away for his education and comfort. No, Shigeru would not need to be wanting, and neither would he be simply resting on the trove and trust his parents had left with him.

Deep down Shigeru knew that budgeting and playing the economic circumstances to one's advantage should perhaps have been a touch more difficult than he found them… but they weren't, at least for him. Perhaps not for others though.

One might expect a brash, young, and quite frankly very wealthy twenty-year-old to go… a little overboard on his indulgences. Expensive food, expensive drink, expensive women… but again, perhaps Shigeru did not meet the mold of the common man. While he could have had his pick of the finest restaurants in town, why bother? Home-cooked meals were filling all the same, and they even provided some reprieve from the tedium of life to prepare. As for the drink, what man in their right mind would give up their one advantage over the animals for a moment's buzz? He would pass, thank you very much.

And the women… Shigeru never saw much of a point there either. A woman on his arm, talking non-sense at him day in and day out? What was the point? Warming his bed? Pillows were just fine to hold, it turned out. No, Shigeru didn't see much point in women at all, especially not the expensive variety.

All that to say, for all his wealth, any outsider wouldn't have been able to guess it if they tried. Oh sure, the government knew what he had in his accounts. He filed his permits and had his licenses, all so the spice could flow, as it were. But the people closest to him, in proximity at least if not in relation were none the wiser.

Shigeru could be called quite shrewd, both in finance and in effort applied to maintaining relationships with those around him. Just as one puts their funds towards the investments that will earn a return, they refuse those that will not. And if all those that do happen to be impersonal, while those that do not happen to involve keeping up with the lives of his peers? Well, one might see a clear course develop in Shigeru's mind.

And indeed, it had. Although he may have been the top of his class since his first day at the new High School and maintained his position thus far into his college career, (or so the incessant alert in his email inbox kept telling him) he didn't have a friend or acquaintance to his name. Sure, he could name those that sat around him in his lecture halls and the next few places in the academic rankings. Holding a conversation with any of them on a topic not to be covered in the lecture, though? That was just a bit out of his wheelhouse.

Quite bluntly, Shigeru was a loner, and quite content with that fact. He didn't much see the point in dealing with much of anyone… regardless of how similar he may have been to them, completely normal even.

A completely normal man, with a fragile body, though perhaps not that fragile a mind. With that fragility came the normal fears any healthy man would have developed.

A floorboard creaking in the night would draw a pang of panic, only to be fought down. 'The building's new, it'll settle,' he would reassure himself.

The thought of being mugged on the street would tear at the heartstrings… but Shigeru never had any indication of his wealth on him, with even his wallet and phone being of the last generations. His clothes too were of course entirely designed for his comfort, rather than foolish pageantry. No, he would be absolutely safe in the streets… right?

A fire in the building… now that could be a problem. His life of course would be in danger, but so too would his possessions. Nothing of great value rested in his home, besides perhaps his notes and papers. Still, those did have some sentimental value to him. A worrying thought indeed that they could be lost.

Dying alone. Perhaps a saddening thought to some, but really what difference would it make, having attendants at his death bed? Too much trouble, dealing with others simply for that. No, solitude would be good for him, nothing to fear there.


Ah, the great Spector hanging over the heads of all the wise men. Withering away in your own body as the mind fails, left to watch hopelessly as it all falls apart. Truly the stuff of nightmares. And Shigeru's nightmare it was, proving yet again his normality.

A normal man, with completely normal and reasonable fears of the things that awaited him in his life. So of course, it was completely reasonable that when the




Appeared suddenly in his room, commanding him to care for her… that naturally, his answer was a reverberating "Yes", and to catch her in his outstretched arms.

From Childhood's Hour, I Have not Been as Others Were

Ophis was, to put it lightly, a bit lost at the moment. It would be unfair to expect anything else after all, even from a grand being such as herself. Why? You try having a grip on life when all you have known for eons has been dashed against the stone.

Her forces? What forces. Dispersed to the winds with the news of her recent… incidents. She had no one now. Or rather, she now realized that she had never had anyone. None of her 'compatriots' had ever cared for her… merely her power.

And so, her loyal followers? Betrayers, the lot of them. Sneaking upon her in the night, laying her low, siphoning a portion of herself… they would never again receive her mercy. On sight, they would be crushed. It would not bring any of it back, but the revenge might feel nice… 'what was feeling nice like?' she wondered. She hadn't felt an ounce of comfort in a very, very long time… not since…

Her home. Ophis had for an eternity longed to return to what she considered her home, her sanctuary, the Dimensional Gap, but was the Gap truly her home? 'What was is that drives this mad quest?' she asked herself in doubt.

Long ago, could have answered in a heartbeat, as the mortals were fond of saying. She was drawn to the Silence the Gap had to offer her. Now, it seemed that mortals failed to grasp the true nature of the Silence, but she wouldn't blame them. One cannot love what they have never known. Still, it was a bit irksome that so many fools believed themselves geniuses in offering her protection against sound itself, hoping to gain her favor by bestowing their false Silence.

It seems the fools forgot that she was a masterful shapeshifter. True, audible vibrations could be annoying, but if she didn't want to deal with them all she had to do was eliminate the bones in her ears that relayed the sound. Less than child's play for one such as herself.

No, the Silence was so much more, and so much less at the same time. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to call it the embrace of the void. The comfort of infinite nothingness all around her, no thoughts, no worries, no bothers.

But the Silence in the Gap was dead. After Great Red's long tenure in what used to be her home, the place had been defiled. She supposed it was her antithesis' nature, so she couldn't hold it against him too far. Great Red dreamed, and his dream was brought to life. A shame that the dream consisted of chaos in her otherwise perfect home. Not that it mattered much anyway the state of the décor when there was already another tenant. Great Red himself was a bother and quite an unmovable one at that.

Countless times now they had fought each other to a standstill, with neither ever getting closer to a convincing victory throughout the long course of their rivalry. The pitfalls of both being born at the heights of their powers she supposed. And now, her latest attempt, gathering an army of mortals to assist her, it all seemed so pointless, didn't it? Infinity plus one was still infinity, nothing gained, nothing lost.

The Dimensional Gap would never be her home again.

She knew this. She had known it from the moment she had first ventured forth, even if she had tried to bury the fact within herself, she always knew. So then, again, what was it that drove her for so long to try, to be the unstoppable force pushing against the infinitely unmovable opponent?

Was it pride? Of course not. A dragon always had its pride, regardless of whether or not it had its domain. And besides, Ophis was well beyond being driven by something as simple as pride. Quite an easy thing to overcome when your emotions were as muted as hers.

Glory then? Before what man would her glory matter? Ophis had lived long before the coming of gods and men, the creation of the worlds, and the formulation of the stars in the sky. Born with reality, she was of the first generation of sentient life. And she would outlive them all. All would pass until one day it would be only her, Great Red, and the chaotic husks the mortals left in their wakes, littering the cosmos with their existence. No, glory lived in the hearts of others, and the others would perish. It could not then be a search for glory that drove her.

Fulfilling the purpose ordained for her at the beginning of all things? A tempting choice, a tempting choice indeed. There was a reason that at the coming of this reality its strongest entity was placed at its very edge, in the connection between all things. Great Red filled that purpose now though, whether he knew it or not. He would be a fine gatekeeper, seeing as he could bring even her to endless stalemates. A new steward had taken up her purpose, lifting it from her shoulders. Divine providence did not spur her on.

So then… Home. Finally, Ophis admitted to herself that all she truly longed for was a home. Somewhere to return to. Somewhere to rest. The world, reality itself was all too much for her. Beings of her nature, a void, empty, unyielding, unchanging, they were not meant to act. Her path had been to rest in the Gap, in her Silence… and in her foolishness, she had thrown it away in a moment of fancy. No, she was not meant to see the light of the world until she was called upon. But she had, and she grew weary.

But her home was gone, so now she wandered. Betrayed. Weakened.

Snapping herself out of her musing, Ophis realized that it had grown dark, at least to the mortal sense of sight. The fiery orb they called their sun had passed below the horizon now, perhaps an hour ago. As much as it pained her to admit it, she had to do something, it didn't befit her to wander the streets at night.

The only problem was a more literal version of the one she had just concluded reminiscing. She was lost, and quite badly at that, at least in the physical sense. Oh, she knew she was on earth, the other realms were just a bit out of reach for the moment after her betrayal. Still, it would be useful to figure out where exactly on Earth she had ended up.

Walking down what she believed the mortals would call a sidewalk - the heavy rolling beasts that inhabited what she believed to be called a street, though no match for her own strength, were still quite powerful it seemed – she could spy over one of the huts the mortals had fashioned for themselves a sign, a sign with lettering her wisdom could understand and comprehend…

"Kuoh Meat Mart"

… it proclaimed to the world, in the annoying and bothersome way the mortals preferred. With lights and flowing movement. The sign may have been annoying, but it had provided useful information on where she may be, so Ophis deigned to allow its continued existence.

Now, Ophis may have been naïve, as even she could sometimes admit, but even to her "Kuoh Meat Mart" did not strike her as the name of what could arguably be considered a civilization. At least not one chosen willingly by its inhabitants. That meant that one or two of the words would represent where she was, and another the purpose of the hut the sign adorned she concluded with a measure of satisfaction. Truly, it felt good to solve problems on one's own. Not too often though. Mental exercise was as if not more tiring than the physical version after all.

'Just a few more steps' she thought to herself as she began to parse the strange human speech. 'Then it will be over, and the mind can rest…' Deciding to start with the first two collections of meaning she had seen, Ophis recalled 'Kuoh Meat'. Could 'Kuoh Meat' be where she found herself now? No, that sounded far too much like something one of her former followers would have tried to give her as an expensive gift. As a bribe to win her favor… before turning on her and forcing her to flee and hide.

So no, that mustn't be it. And if it was, well, 'Kuoh Meat' wasn't long for the world. The next groupings of meaning came to her as 'Meat Mart'. Mart? What was a mart… oh yes, the place of exchange, a shortening of Market? How like the mortals to take out two letters to shorten their speech but retain their meaning. Quite commendable really.

'Meat Market' though could immediately be thrown out as a possibility. Even in her reclusion, Ophis knew of Meat Markets - from a pointless fancy reading an encyclopedia one boring, dreadful day -, and they were much too small and unimportant to name an entire gathering of mortals after.

Kuoh then. 'Ah yes, Kuoh,' she thought to herself as a vague memory came to the forefront of her mind. The inane ramblings of one of her… less promising former minions. Kakobiace was it? Some minor fallen had plans for this city if she recalled. Something about reigniting the war between the 'Three Great Factions' or whatever they called themselves. How that would have been useful in building her an army, she would never know. Not that it mattered to her any longer regardless.

Wandering morosely through what she now knew to be called Kuoh, Ophis came to a rather unwelcome understanding with herself. She was, but why? 'What is the point of existence when your one goal is beyond your reach, and all else is below you?' she wondered, annoyed that once again she would need to engage her thinking.

She had to answer for herself, what was it that she wanted? That was easy, she wanted her Home… but she now saw the triviality in that pursuit. She would need to find either a new home, separate from the Dimensional Gap that she had clung to for so long, or perhaps it was time for a new goal entirely. She thought it would take her a very, very long time – even by her standards – to resolve this conundrum. Her answer would come much sooner than she had anticipated, though not before a bit more wandering.

And so, she wandered. First past a magical boundary meant to detect, though she paid it no mind. It would not find her, not when she did not want to be found. Truth be told, she did not even notice the boundary at all. Next came into view a compound of huts, slightly more impressive than the Meat Market. A more astute observer may have recognized it as Kuoh Academy.

Finally leaving the circle of power meant to protect the school, the base of operations for the local devils, wherein another reality the gaze of the world would rest and upon which the fate of the world would turn, she felt it. Him.

An aberration.

An anomaly.

An abnormality.

A divergence, a deviation, an exception, an irregularity…

An i̶̛̻m̶̰̃p̸̖̕ȍ̶̪s̴̰͐s̷̫̕ĩ̷̹b̴̼̄i̷̱̒l̵̯̊i̵̝͐t̸̟̐ý̴̤.

A void, calling out to her own. It would be hers.

Phasing out of reality in one location and back into it in another (in the same realm, of course) was no great burden for the Ouroboros. Barely a passing glance of effort paid its way. There were much more important matters to attend to after all.

For standing before her was her void, and she basked in its glory. Perfection. Nothingness given form.


Reaching for her words to speak with her new treasure, she found only the dryness of her mouth. No issue. Reaching into his mind she gave her command. "You shall care for me" she spoke with the utmost adoration, proclaiming the good news to her salvation… before her exhaustion finally caught up with her.

Yes, she was Home. She could rest now in her salvation's arms. Hearing his acceptance and feeling herself wrapped in his embrace, Ophis allowed herself to finally sleep. It had been far, far too long, but she was Home, and finally, she could rest.

From Childhood's Hour, I Have not Been as Others Were


Well… I'm back…

Looks like my must has taken me for a ride once again. This time with Ophis rather than Koneko, but I think it will be quite an enjoyable ride, nonetheless. I'll mention now that Canon is not exactly going to be a thing in this story. What you have seen so far is happening a short while before regular canon starts. A few months at the max. How Shigeru fits in at Kuoh will be explored in a future chapter.

This idea started out simply as a chance to have some nice Ophis fluff, but it has since ballooned into a chance for… well, you'll see. Just be warned that the M tag is not for show.

Now, I will make the same statement I made for Invisible Man. I will continue writing this as long as I feel the motivation to do so. When I am no longer motivated, I will stop, simple as that. Now, I have a bit more of a plan of what I want to accomplish with this story this time around, which means I can hopefully maintain my interest a bit better this time. I really would like to get this story out in text to some form of completion, even if it is already satisfying to picture in my mind.

I thank you for your time reading this, and I urge you to provide any feedback you may have for me. Even criticism, when it is constructive (canon harem purists can suck it) is absolutely welcome. It is after all the only way for me to grow. Until next time then though, I hope you enjoyed