Kuoh Town. A quaint, delightful small town near Kyoto, known for its prestigious all-girls academy. Which recently became co-ed. Kuoh Academy. It is surprisingly big for such a small town, having many different divisions, encompassing the entire schooling system. The prospective students only needed entrance exams to enroll, and then no longer. And it had excellent staff as well, who knew what they were doing, what they were teaching, and clearly cared about the students.
And of course, it was teeming with supernatural beings.
Yokai. Devils. Onmyōji. Magicians.
Coexisting peacefully in the Academy… As peacefully as they could, anyways.
There were obvious tensions. But to those inclined towards the mundane, so would these tensions be interpreted as similarly mundane.
And of course, that was how a friendly rivalry seemed to a rather mundane Third-Year known as Kibou Mirai.
Mirai was somewhat of a high-profile student, being the only male in his class, combined with his exotic red hair and golden eyes. But the constant attention was not something he enjoyed, leaving him quite creeped out.
Which was why he made sure to try and always avoid it.
He wasn't always successful.
His stealth skills left much to be desired, and his red hair was rather noticeable.
But regardless, if there was something his classmates were known for…
Was that they were unredeemable gossips.
"Have you heard? Shitori-kaichou and Gremory-san are having another stand-off in the cafeteria!"
"Their rivalry is really something to behold…"
"Bah, if you ask me, they're definitely fucking behind everyone's backs!"
On one hand, keeping his ears open ensured Mirai knew everything that happened in the school. On the other hand, some of his classmates were irredeemable perverts. In fact, he would place good money on the entire student body being some sort of pervert. It made his life much harder, since he knew quite a number wanted to get into his pants.
Yeah, no thank you.
The Academy may have been filled to the brim with attractive girls, but they unnerved him too much for him to truly be attracted to any of them more than physically and aesthetically. He was unashamed of the fact that he found more than half the student body hot, but he was definitely not going to date any of them.
But he digressed.
Peeking into the cafeteria, it was clear that the crowd had long since dispersed, and his fellow Third-Years most likely retreated to their classrooms. Seeing as some girls had started to notice him, he promptly decided to follow their example.
And well, what do you know, he was right.
Mirai blinked, shaking his head to clear his mind. "Shitori-kaichou." He greeted back, sitting down on his desk. Which, conveniently, was right next to the Student Council President, who was looking at him with a calculating look over her glasses.
Shitori Sona was one of the very few, perhaps the only girl in the Academy that he would consider going out with. Her strict, no-nonsense attitude had endeared her to him, compared to the flighty, perverted, and gossip-fueled shenanigans of the rest of the student body. Her being attractive certainly didn't hurt.
She had a slim figure, with black hair styled in a bob cut, and violet eyes. Who were currently staring at his own with a slightly narrowed gaze. Yes, he wouldn't mind dating her. But they had a mutual, unspoken understanding, that she wasn't looking for a relationship anytime soon.
"...I assume you are thinking about the confrontation in the cafeteria?"
Her voice snapped him out of his thoughts, and he smiled sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head. "I wasn't there for it myself, but I heard some stuff. I know it wasn't as dramatic as the gossip implied, but well…"
He trailed off, and she nodded in understanding, softening her look slightly. "It is uncharacteristic of us."
"Yeah." Mirai confirmed, leaning his chin on his hand. "Your tennis matches are the only time you really let it show."
Sona coughed, a tinge of pink dusting her cheeks. "Kindly do not mention them, please."
He shrugged, giving her a teasing grin. "As you wish, Kaichou."
"Regardless," she continued, pointedly ignoring his grin. "It was merely a… Disagreement. Nothing serious, mind you, but certainly something that took place in the heat of the moment. Rest assured, Rias and I don't really have "stand-offs"."
Mirai gave her a deadpan look that screamed 'Really!' "I know you pay attention to gossip and rumors. You and Gremory-san are not as subtle as you think."
The black-haired girl angled her head, so her eyes became hidden by her own glasses. But try as she may, she couldn't hide the embarrassed blush. Check and mate.
"...I'll get you that strawberry cake you like if you keep silent."
A few hours later, and Mirai cheerily hummed as he closed the door to his apartment behind him, a package in his hands holding the promised strawberry cake. "It's fun to tease Kaichou." He commented, walking into the kitchen and placing down the cake on the counter. "Even if I have to do so sparingly."
He blissfully ignored the rumors about them both, since they knew very well where they stood with each other. There wouldn't be a relationship there anytime soon. Sona had made it very clear that she would only consider a relationship, and even then it would be a big maybe that she would consider him, once she was finished with college.
He was fine with that.
He was content with their sorta-friends relationship. It was nice to have someone like that in a school where he was either idolized and fawned over (A good portion of the female population) or ignored and outright despised (The entire male population).
Mirai had something else to be concerned about.
Like the glowing blue door in the far wall of the living room.
It had been there since he woke up, and he had elected to ignore it until classes were over, upon which he would have time to properly process it. Which he currently was doing, if staring at it with a frown and crossing his arms was called "processing".
"Okay, door." He began, jabbing the air in its direction. "I don't know where you came from or who put you there. Nor do I care how you're glowing. I'm definitely not scared of you. But where did you come from, goddammit!"
He made sure his entire apartment was locked when he went to sleep. Doors, windows, everything. Even the stairway to the roof, which was the best feature of it. There was no way someone had put that thing inside his home without waking him up, unless they straight up teleported the door in there!
He paused. Was magic real?
Well, whatever. That was a secondary concern over the door.
He should probably try to touch it. But there was also the possibility that he would trigger some sort of trap and be splattered. Either with paint, blood, or into the wall, it didn't matter. The blue door gave off a really ominous feeling, and the last time he felt that feeling…
Oh god that smile get him away from her-
There was a reason he avoided Himejima like the plague. And it had entirely to do with his gut feelings, which he trusted over his head. The brain may be logical, but even logic can suck instinct's dick.
Mirai blinked, and he was touching the door's really, really old handle, and in the motion of twisting it. Fuck you, instinct!
The door opened to complete darkness. Inward. It was not supposed to go inwards. It would have led into open air. Not complete darkness. He looked out through the window, and sure enough, it was still day outside.
"Too late to back down now, I suppose…" He sighed, and stepped through. The moment he crossed the threshold, the door shut itself behind him, and plunged his world into complete darkness. "I should have trusted my gut feeling!"
A blue butterfly suddenly appeared in the darkness, glowing a beautiful blue. "Welcome," an ethereal voice spoke. "to the Velvet Room."
Out of nowhere, a spotlight shone down, revealing a polished wooden table and a comfy-looking swivel chair. "Please, take a seat."
The voice invited him. It was very unnerving, but at the same time, it was very polite. Mirai didn't trust politeness. It was just a mask to hide the dagger that would stab you in the back. As Himejima had concretely proved, that she-devil.
But on the other hand, his gut feeling wasn't that this was dangerous. Just ominous.
…He probably shouldn't trust his gut that much.
He walked over to the chair, and sat down. As soon as he did, he instantly relaxed. Holy shit, the chair was so comfy.
And right on cue, the butterfly fluttered down and transformed into a tall, brown-haired man wearing a white and orange mask.
"What the fu-!" Mirai yelped, but his movement to stand up was halted by a single gesture of the man.
"Greetings, Mirai Kibou." The man spoke, and his voice had a slight echo-y effect. One hand was raised in a halting gesture, and his eyes had nothing but kindness on them. "I've been waiting for you."
Flabbergasted, the red-haired teen could do nothing but sit back down and listen. It was as if the man's mere presence compelled him to do so. But it was a choice he had made of his own free will. It gave him a path. But it was his responsibility, his choice, to tread it.
"And what do you mean about that?" He asked instead, leaning back and crossing his arms grumpily.
The man smiled. "My name is Philemon. But I am better known by many other names. El, Elohim, Shaddai, Tzevaot, Ehyeh, Adonai…"
The first name struck a chord in Mirai, and he wracked his head, trying to figure it out. He had heard it before, but where! Worst part is, he wasn't even sure if Philemon was speaking in Japanese at all. He just… understood.
Let's see… Channel, parallel, pumpernickel, wheel, megapixel, scoundrel, cockatiel, becquerel, archangel- His eyes widened, as his jaw slowly dropped open.
Philemon smiled sadly. "YHWH, Allah, Yahweh… God."
Mirai swallowed, his throat suddenly drier than the Sahara. "What…?"
"You have many questions," Philemon- no, God, continued. "And you may refer to me as Philemon, it has always been one of my favorite names."
"Well, of fucking course I have many questions!" Mirai exclaimed, sinking back in the chair, rubbing the bridge of his nose.
Philemon just chuckled, before letting out a weary sigh. "As I said when I welcomed you, this is the Velvet Room. A place between dream and reality, mind and matter. And its purpose is to guide a certain kind of people, to reach their full potential."
He gave a mournful look to their surroundings. "But unfortunately, it was never fully realized. Very few Guests have been received, with the last one being a certain Arthur Pendragon, over a thousand years ago."
His gaze was now distant, as if envisioning a far-off place that now existed only in memory. "I had to confront a dangerous foe, which greatly weakened me and led to the slaughter of the Velvet Room's inhabitants. Only one survived, and she was so greatly injured that I had to take drastic measures to preserve her life."
"I had to use my Clairvoyance to look into the future." He continued. "And what I saw was you. Taking over my dear Igor's place, as the Master of the Velvet Room. In more than one timeline, in the vast majority of them, I saw you saying "Yes". And that's when I decided to place my hopes on a boy that had yet to be born."
"I… Don't know what to say." Mirai's mind was going a kilometer a minute. God, fucking God, was asking him to take over what seemed to be something very important. It was… Humbling, to say the least. That in so many timelines, he had accepted. And in others, he had rejected.
"I assume you don't." Philemon smiled. "Take your time. This is not especially urgent, and currently, time in the Velvet Room does not pass as it does outside."
The red-haired teen blew out a gust of air from his mouth, leaning back and staring at the source of the spotlight. Strangely, it did not blind him. But rather, it appeared as a simple circle of white, in the middle of the endless darkness.
He took a deep breath. He needed to be calm and think properly. Rash and poorly-thought out decisions are something he does not like. Damn you, Himejima. He took another deep breath, because thinking of her was definitely not conducive to being calm.
This was… A heavy burden. To be responsible for the guidance of a certain kind of individuals, helping them reach their full potential… There had to be more than that. Philemon wasn't telling him everything. "...I want to know more about what this entails."
"I assume you do." God smiled, waving his hand. Suddenly, a deck of Tarot cards appeared on the table, startling Mirai slightly. "Are you familiar with the Fool's Journey?"
He was. Despite that she-devil's… actions, his fascination with the occult remained. In fact, it was only what happened between him and the she-devil, and Sona's constipated reaction whenever he mentioned his interest in it that prevented him from joining the Occult Research Club.
"The Journey of a lifetime." He said, looking at the cards as they rearranged themselves on the table. "A journey to learn lessons in life, meet many, experience much, and go through trials and tribulations in order to successfully complete your life and the purpose of your soul."
"Everyone goes through their own Fool's Journey." Philemon continued, as the cards settled and the first one flipped up. Zero. The Fool. "But the Arcana can be used to indicate a person's place in their Journey, and what they mean for someone else's Journey. It is fluid, and not at all concrete. One person may be the Fool of their own Journey, and simultaneously be someone else's Star, or Tower."
"But some special people resonate especially well with The Fool." God touched the card gently. "They are what is called a Wild Card. And these people are the ones the Velvet Room was created to guide. To provide support as they travel through their Journey, until they reach The World."
"I see…" Mirai muttered, the picture forming and getting clearer in his head. "But how can I help them?"
The man smiled. "Come with me."
Sona sighed as she made her way to the Student Council's room. Interacting with Mirai was a chore at times, especially when away from the school. "That stupid, charming, handsome, devious, idiot." She grumbled under her breath. For a mundane human, he was really good at penetrating her walls in just the right spots to weaken it.
If he wanted, he could make her crumble with the right words, but he refrained from doing so. And for all that she thanked him for it, it also made her incredibly frustrated. And rather unfortunately, she had duties to attend to, and she didn't enjoy others witnessing her moments of weakness, so she would have to wait until she was alone in her bedroom to properly relieve her stress.
It usually consisted of casting a silence barrier and screaming his name.
"Careful there, Kaichou." A familiar voice reached her ears, and she turned a gaze full of venom at the source. The red-haired menace had managed to corrupt her prim and proper Queen, and she now delighted in teasing Sona as well. Lucifer forbid the two teamed up and ganged up on her. She wasn't sure she would be able to handle it. "Or else people may think you are infatuated with Kibou-kun."
Sona glowered. Between the two, they would be able to hit the perfect chinks in her amor and bare her self to the world. Tsubaki, due to sheer familiarity and having been at her side for so long. Mirai, the most perceptive mundane human she had ever met.
"How was your date?"
"It wasn't a date." Sona denied stiffly, attempting to recollect herself. With each passing day, Mirai's barbs tore chunks that were harder and harder to close. "It was me fulfilling my end of a bargain we made today."
"By buying him cake?" Tsubaki smiled one of her exceedingly rare smiles. "We all know that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, Kaichou."
"We are not talking about this." The Sitri heiress ordered, opening the door to the Student Council, her stoic mask firmly back in place. Her Peerage promptly turned back to what they were doing, with no indication of if they heard them or not. Her eye twitched for a moment, before striding to her desk and sitting down.
"Right." She began. "Tsubaki, any updates on Saji?"
Her Queen hummed, knowing that it was time for serious matters. "We were able to confirm it. He does have a Sacred Gear, albeit dormant. He also has displayed a remarkable work ethic. I don't foresee any complications in bringing him into the fold."
Sona nodded, pensive. "Continue observing him. We'll be interviewing him next week. But don't let him know why he's being observed, nor that he is."
"Yes, Kaichou." Tsubaki nodded. "If I may ask…"
She trailed off, but they all knew who she wanted to ask about.
As Sona had noted, he was the most perceptive mundane human in the school. And with each passing day, it was getting harder and harder to keep the supernatural side of the world hidden from him. And as much as Sona liked having him as a friend… She didn't want to take that from him. For all that she would delight in having him in her Peerage, she didn't want to bring him into this side of her life.
It was her guilty pleasure. With him, she could just be Sona. Not Sona Sitri the Devil, Sona Shitori the Student Council President, Sona Sitri the Heiress. But Sona the girl. Who enjoys baking cakes, playing tabletop games, watching the birds fly through the sky.
She took a deep breath. And by bringing him into this side of her life… She feared it would end. "It is getting harder to keep this side from him." She stated, and didn't elaborate.
She knew what went through everyone's minds. But why not ask him to join her Peerage?
She was afraid.
She, Sona Sitri, was afraid of potentially losing a dear friend.
"What is this place?" Mirai breathed, a look of pure awe in his face as he looked around. The location they were in looked like outer space, with countless stars dotting their surroundings. Behind them, the blue door shone faintly. He reached out for one of the stars, and it danced around his hand. "It's beautiful."
"This is the Sea of Souls." Philemon explained, crossing his arms behind his back. "From where all souls come, and to where all souls return."
The red-haired teen stilled, his hands gently cradling the star. "You mean this is…"
"A soul? Yes." The man nodded, gesturing at, well, the Sea itself. Mirai privately wondered how they were not drowning, if it was a Sea. The invisible "ground" where they stood certainly rippled like water. "This is also the deepest layer of the Collective Unconscious. It was originally meant for humanity, but as time passed…"
He trailed off, and held out his hand. Two souls broke off from the Sea and swarmed around his own hand. One was black and tainted, but still held a small core of white in the center. It had six pairs of wings, one half demonic, the other half angelic, and it also had a pair of horns.
The other was a pure white, with six pairs of angelic wings and a halo. "The First Devil, and my Voice." Philemon spoke, his voice tinged with wonder and amazement. "They were not supposed to be here. And yet, they are."
He released them, and they swarmed around Mirai's head, as if scanning and judging him. The titles were familiar to the teen, who alongside the occult, had interest in the religions of the world, modern and ancient, dead and alive. "Lucifer and Metatron." He breathed, before his eyes widened. "Wait, if they're here, then-!"
"They are dead." Philemon spoke sadly. There was an ancient, unimaginable grief in his voice, and though he could not see it, the man had certainly shed a tear. "In the end, Death takes all of us. It is merely a matter of time. Some waste away, some go peacefully, and some go out before their time. but Death's grasp can even reach a God."
Mirai gulped, and followed Philemon as he walked back to the Velvet Room, but as he did so, both Lucifer and Metatron slammed into his back, and he sucked in a breath as something- no, somethings, formed inside of him. "What…" He staggered.
"So they approve." The man merely said, waiting at the threshold.
The soul Mirai had cradled floated up and flitted erratically, before doing the same thing and slamming itself against his heart. The same feeling came and went, and the redhead hissed in shock. "What the hell-"
Their piece done, the three souls floated back into the Sea, as Mirai stumbled through the door to the Velvet Room, and collapsed on the chair. "Philemon, what the hell was that!?"
"In the Collective Unconscious, there are several layers." The man said, as if ignoring the teen. "Those layers are part of a realm called the Cognitive Realm. It exists underneath Reality, which is where humans live."
"That doesn't answer my question."
"One of these layers records the legends and myths of humanity. And many more, it seems." Philemon kept going. Mirai was starting to feel annoyed. It was as if the man wasn't even hearing him! "And right above it is the layer where Shadows reside."
Mirai paused. What? "Shadows?"
"A Shadow… It is the suppressed portion of a person's psyche, the parts of their being they don't want to acknowledge. When manifested, Lesser Shadows take generic forms, while Greater Shadows take the form of beings of legend and myth." God continued. "And each person has their own personal Shadow. Once that Shadow has been made peace with, or the person displays sufficient resolve in a location with sufficient Cognitive Energy, they can manifest that Shadow into something called a Persona."
"You have a Shadow yourself." His gaze pierced straight through the red-haired teen. "But at the same time, it is weak. Your psyche does not have much suppressed. I believe you won't need to confront your own Shadow in order to acquire a Persona. In fact, I'd wager you have already accepted your worst traits, and are true to yourself."
"That…" His throat dried. What could he say to that?
"Now, what these three Souls did was merely grant you access to their Cognitive counterparts. Should you wish to do so, you may call on the powers of Lucifer and Metatron as humanity sees them."
"I see…" Mirai covered his mouth, before taking a deep breath. "Well, I accept. I'll become the new Master of the Velvet Room."
"I imagined that would be your answer." Philemon smiled, as the Velvet Room slowly morphed into an office room. The man started to dissipate, startling Mirai. "Behind that door you'll find the last remaining Attendant, Lavenza. But her grievous injuries have caused a… Curious coping method. I believe they call themselves Caroline and Justine."
Mirai glanced at a thick wooden door, brown in contrast to the blue leading outside. When he glanced back at Philemon, the man was almost gone. "And what about you?"
"I will be ending this message here." He said. "Mirai Kibou, I hope this, ah, what do the people in your time call, recording, answered your questions. And I'm sure you're wondering how I have been able to seemingly reply to your words."
A dawning sense of realization settled on Mirai, incredulity rising from the depths of his new heart of velvet blue.
Philemon smiled. "Clairvoyance is quite an excellent tool, especially from beyond such a huge barrier between life and death."
And with that, he vanished, as the red-haired teen felt a bond snap into place, tying him to the Velvet Room. And the revelation of what exactly Philemon had been dropping hints about, and now outright confirmed.
God was dead. And the fucker's last act had been to dump a lot of information, a job, a title, and someone to take care of. "Motherfu-"
Hi. It's been three thousand years, but I have returned to this website. If you wish to know, I am more often found in Archive of Our Own, AKA Ao3, and Spacebattles. Coincidentally, I will also be crossposting this fic in these places.
Anyways. This fic. It is a recent brainchild of mine, but one I allowed to nurture properly. Don't expect regular updates, I write when I feel like it. You have many questions, I presume. Well, I hope you enjoyed this.