MC (Kay/Fell) dies as a demon, and wakes up in a hospital, surrounded by people and places he doesn't know.
Two people in particular claim to be his grandparents, who will be taking care of him, but they seem to behave suspiciously, refusing to acknowledge that he isn't their grandson, yet behaving in a restrained and uncomfortable manner, as though they were hiding something.
MC is stuck in a hospital ward, where he has been placed for psychological treatment. He is cajoled into human form by the doctors, and the pain the change causes becomes an impetus to not trust them.
MC is eventually taken to a home he's told is his, and told he's free to go anywhere within except the basement. MC tries to find out who everyone is, but is hampered by the lack of written material, finding diaries, specifically, of his former self that someone had destroyed.
Neighbors are no better, with one young man, about his age claiming he's a friend being the only one willing to go into details about the MC's former past.
MC finds out that his self proclaimed grandfather was a monster hunter in his past, which, paired with some of the couples suspicious behavior and his own seed of uncertainty about who he really is, the MC steals some money and flees, looking to return home.
(the road not taken)
While the first two bus stops are normal, things go wrong on the third: The bus veers off on a strange country road, filled with piles of junk vaguely shaped like houses, where human-like shapes peek from every window
People begin getting on, and the MC notices some of them are nearly identical to each other, though dressing and behaving in radically different fashions.
The inhabitants of the road represent possibilities, and the passengers on the bus represent those chances that are now lost to the “real” versions of themselves forever, and are destined to be recycled by the “sea of possibilities,” which is a churning, chaotic mass that lives in the sky above a town that would've prospered, had it been built.
MC has been brought there by the passengers, who all want to be real, and will take real beings in the hopes of snatching their particular reality.
Who's real and who's not is difficult to discern, and each of the passengers begin to fight over who's real and who isn't. The MC manages to disguise himself until the last minuet, leading to the whole bus trying to attack him even as they disintegrate back into raw potential.
MC ends up being saved by one of the bus passengers, a person who looks suspiciously identical to the MC himself.
MC makes it out, but with most of his “potential” gone, such as his money and ID.
MC has managed a few days, but is growing desperate, as without identification or money, he's basically stuck living on the streets, which he has noticed are filled with strange things and odd shapes.
MC decides to make money by doing what Fell devils have always been good at: Making deals and pulling tricks.
The MC begins with card tricks and getting people drunk enough to agree to stupid things: Like giving him money.
MC plans to bolt soon after making bank, but he mistimes it, and is grabbed by people who got scammed, beat up, with his clothes stolen, alone on the streets.
The MC, naked, ends up sharing a fire with the other hobos, who all claim to be former members of celebrity and royalty. MC convinces them to give him some clothes in exchange for listening to their tales.
One man was the presidents' secret backup dopplganger, but was disposed after cloning technology became sufficiently advanced, one is a wolf king cursed by his rivals into human form, one is the wealthiest man in the world, who grew tired of riches and chose to live the way he does now after a great heartbreak, One is an artist so skilled, he could paint whole new realities, but had all his fingers broken beyond repair in a random mugging.
MC explains who he is, but no one in the group finds it believable, and accuse him of making things up. MC ends up falling asleep after talking. He awakes to find himself alone , sleeping on top of a musty change of clothes and just enough money to get him out of town.
the taxi dumps the MC out on a crossroads in the middle of nowhere, leaving him to fend for himself.
The MC finds shelter in an abandoned aftermarket facility, just sitting in the middle of the woods. Once he gets in, however, he finds the building twists itself into a maze to prevent him from getting out.
The phones play recordings of the workers in the facility as they talk on the phone, but whoever speaks on the other end is always muted.
The telemarket facility was once a very profitable operation, scamming people for their money. To make it even more profitable, the owners figured out how to put the employees, and eventually themselves, inside the wires. Unfortunately, when the business went down and electric bills stopped being paid, everyone became trapped in the system and going insane. The echos the MC hears on the phone are the sins they committed, now playing in an unending loop. The ghosts in the lines are convinced he's a new employee, and want him to join.
MC manages to escape only by finishing the plot of the one employee who didn't succumb, who planned and almost succeeded in a plot to kill the bosses of the facility, the ones who did this to all of them.
When the MC makes it to the heads room, he finds a man, seemingly ordinary, making an endless telephone conference. Beside him is his partner, who serves as the jack and a power source for all the phones in the facility.
MC is forced to kill them both to escape, leaving behind a slowly fading dial tone not unlike the tolling of a bell.
Sleep deprived, hungry, and out of money again, MC begins despairing. The fact that he had to kill people, something he had never done before, weighs heavily on him even as a large part of his mind becomes preoccupied with the realization that someone has been tailing him for a while now.
The car tailing him does not come closer, however, and after running away for a distance, MC falls asleep in a ditch.
MC is picked up by a group of hippie/pilgrim types, who invite him into their fold. Being desperate, he agrees to stay for a time.
The leader of the group is a cold demon, who believes his powers were granted to him by god, and uses them to numb any hard feelings or hurts those around him want gone. Unlike the MC, he has no memory or hell or a life before earth.
MC is repeatedly encouraged to succumb to the cold demon's numbing touch, easing his pain. The MC allows it.
MC is roped into using his powers in service to those around him, openly, for the first time, taking the life out of one person and putting it in another. This is one of the things he did not want to do during his time in hell, and becomes uncomfortable within the group, even as he's praised.
The group does protect him from his stalker, an older, dangerous looking man who claims to be comrades of the MC's grandfather, obligating him to them. The leader uses this incident, his nascent friendship with a couple of the members, and some guilt trips into forcing him to continue with the group.
MC and his companions settle for a time in a small town where the cult leader had been before, allowed to stay in an old hotel owned by one of his believers.
The hotel owner, however, is in distress. Every ten years or so, for the last few years, there's been a murder in town, by a different person each time, who often has no history of violence whatever. This time, the person being accused is the hotel owner's friend. One of the reasons so many people converted to the ice demon's cult was in the hopes of being freed from the murders.
After catching wind of the request to help one of his faithful the ice demon convinces MC and some other members to help out.
MC and friends immediately run into trouble: though there have long been rumors that the killings are supernatural in nature, few know anything more than rumor. Furthermore, the lead investigator, and one of the only uncorrupt cops in town, is a non-believer, and is pissed off about the “freaks and hippies” being allowed to ruin his case.
The protagonist's team eventually learn that the early killings were especially similar to a particularly gruesome murder back in the day. A jealous boyfriend, they claimed, was driven to madness by his cheating girlfriend, pushing her off a cliff in a rage after hearing she was pregnant. They believe that because that because the boyfriend was never brought to true justice, the town has become cursed.
MC and friends, blocked from looking into the modern killings, start looking into the past deaths instead, talking to relatives and scouring scattered notes and photographs. They find several photos in some people's houses that appeared to have been either deliberately hidden away or partly destroyed, revealing the past the townsfolk idealized wasn't so grand or innocent, after all.
One of the photographs found is a picture of a young man looking out the window of a house that was famous for having no sons, as well as some of the diary entries of the boyfriend, who was a relative of the innkeeper, who is revealed to have been neither jealous nor insane.
The investigation begins closing in on the woman accused of murder, and the MC spots the car that's been stalking him, or thinks he does. They discover the existence of a hidden madman of one of the town's factory bosses, the offspring of a tryst with another woman who used her son as blackmail to attain financial gain. The hidden madman was the face in the attic and the source of rumors of his house being haunted.
MC and co. discover the madman's own diary's, ironically the most honest in town. The madman was prone t to watching people through the window, which was how he fell in love with the girl. The notes also detail her death, and how the madman felt bad enough about it he deliberately unlocked all the doors in his household, so the monster he thought was coming for him wouldn't be too inconvenienced when it arrived to kill him.
They find the body of the madman beneath the floorboards, but seem no closer to uncovering the truth of the modern killings, which are random. However, they realize a constant theme of later killings is that the victim is always someone close to the murderer, much like the boyfriend was close to the girlfriend, before being accused of her murder.
They manage to cajole the sheriff into looking into it, much to the lead investigator's irritation. However, the town is still rife with rumor and ill will towards the accused.
The monster the boyfriend became ends up being aroused, angered at having his plan stymied. He decides he's going to go ahead and murder everyone, starting with the MC, who has in fact been sleeping in his room this whole time, and was the one to puzzle out critical pieces of the plot.
MC is toyed with and very nearly killed. The car is still watching, but the man inside remains passive, watching the MC's fear and distress. The MC only manages to get away by temporarily blinding him, using the boyfriend's brief moment of recoil to run away from him.
MC manages to awaken important members of the town, who awaken more people, leading to a lynch mob which eventually beats the boyfriend into paste, killing him at last.
The next day, a party is held. The townsfolk are happy that the killings are over and everything will be fine now, disregarding the woman who was arrested had lost everything because of it, that this all started due to the unfounded rumors and smug certainty that they refuse to let go of, or that none of the past victims received any reprieve. It was the fault of the monster, not the townsfolk themselves
the ice demon and the MC are thanked profusely as they head out of town for a job well done. The only one who doesn't is the lead investigator, who is the only one who bothers to write down the truth in any detail, as he ignores the party-goers completely.
----- During the fifties or so, there was a murder at the local lover's lane, done by a killer named Peter Stoll, who was the insane, hidden son of one the boss who ran the town factory. Watching from the attic they kept him locked up in, he became convinced of his own delusions of her being his girlfriend. He escaped his confinement, and ended up confronting her on prom night, where his attempts to hold down his “girl” resulted in her death. The girl's true boyfriend found peter and tried to have him killed, but peter escaped, and the boss, unwilling to have the proof of his infidelity brought to light, locked peter back up in the attic, while he convinced the whole town that the real insane killer was the boyfriend, erasing peter from existence and driving the once respectable boyfriend to insanity himself. The boyfriend, in his grief, hatred, and betrayal, found peter and killed him himself, beating his head in. The boyfriend wasn't done yet, however, as his hatred extended towards the whole town. To affect his revenge, he gladly threw away his humanity, preying upon the townfolk and making them suffer by framing them for the deaths of their friend and lovers.
MC and the group have gone a fair ways, with the MC trying to puzzle out the leader as he goes. He discovers that before becoming a demon and receiving religious inspiration, the leader was a gambler, always chasing the biggest win, no matter what hand he had to play.
The leader, during his human life, gambled the love of his spouse to a lying fell, much like the MC, causing him great guilt, anguish, and rage, all of which he used his powers to numb once he lost his humanity. The relief he subsequently received was a major part of his inspiration to help others do the same.
The group enters an enc apartment in an attempt to proselytize, but are rebuffed on the basis that the people here already have a god, an angry, jealous god at that.
The leader disagrees, and not only claims that his god is superior, but that he'll prove it, too. MC is dragged along.
The god turns out to be a dead cat with two pennies glued to its eyes, which has been placed in a box, in a trunk, in a room, in a mine hidden beneath a sewer, whose voice only a special child can hear.
The cold demon tries to convince the villagers that his god is better, but the people refuse to accept. The cold demon was deprived of his win, the joy of which he could never bring himself to numb, which opens a crack for the suffering that comes from the loss of the desired victory.
The group is chased away by the villagers, who are insulted by their lack of faith in the one true god, and the MC is forced to drag the cold demon away, who is both angry at the insult and still desirous to win the people over.
Things within the group get tense as the cold demon begins to loose his cool. MC, also being a demon and close to the cold demon's girlfriend, is mostly stuck with the agitated cult leader.
The cold demon decides that he needs to study and meditate more on the word of god. To that end, he convinces the rest of the cult to come with him, to settle down somewhere where they can strengthen their faith together.
They choose a small town that seems to be abandoned, but its not: the people simply learned how to live in between and hidden: in the walls, cabinets, furniture, and so forth.
Things seem to go well for the first few days, but soon things begin to go downhill. The sky becomes cloudy and the weather turns hot and muggy, but it refuses to rain.
The group, without anything to distract them, begin to turn on each other and split along social lines. Many also become increasingly upset with the people in the walls, who they can sometimes hear and see, but never prove or catch.
The cold demon on the other hand, is doing well, but at the cost of venturing further into his own world of religious revelations and belief. He also begins pressuring MC into using his power more on members of the group itself, even while suggesting he can 'help' the MC by numbing his feelings of distaste.
MC is found by the man in the car who had been following him, who reveals himself to be a friend of his former self's grandfather. He tries to bring MC back, first by argument, then by force, but the MC runs, and the pursuer ends up caught by the cold demon, who freezes everything inside him, turning him into an ice thrall.
By this point most of the members are in conflict with each other and the “neighbors.” only a few heed the ice demons announcement of his return from self-isolation, while the rest crawl into the walls directly, from which they never return.
As the MC returns to the house he's been living in, he finds it quiet and empty, as though the people inside his walls either moved out or died. Outside, it has finally begun to rain.
The group is much smaller now, and the sounds inside the walls, and the interference from those inside, have become much worse. The cold devil, however, filled with religious righteousness and a desire to win has a plan to fix it.
The cold demon has become more controlling, something made more apparent by the presence of more ice thralls and the fact that all remaining members of the cult are stuck in the MC's house, the only area devoid of “neighbors,” albeit with the increasing stench of decay emanating from the walls.
Stuck mostly inside, MC is forced into close proximity with the old friend, the ice demon, and his wife. MC notices that the wife no longer feels trepidation or distaste concerning the ice demon's behavior, a result of having been effected by his power.
Cold demon, feeling his own power isn't enough, wants MC to help him, specifically by getting people too numbed to care to hand over their souls, which can be used to create one true miracle. MC refuses, and ends up trying to avoid the rest of the group, which has been turned against him, by moving into one of the other houses.
The sounds inside the walls mock him, and holes bored out of the plaster reveal glimpses of eyes and mouths. Driven to the edge of paranoia, MC hallucinates a cat with coins for its eyes, which mocks him, asking him what he's doing and why, questions MC honestly can't answer.
Old friend and the cold demon's wife, now also an ice thrall, capture the MC, taking him to the cold demon, who forcibly numbs MC's feelings, and then orders him to extract the soul from his wife. He feels that since his wife loves him, any miracle her soul creates will reflect that. It's a gamble he feels confident in making.
The miracle the wife's soul creates is of grief, regret, love, and faith and is expressed by a flame that burns and purifies, causing pain to everyone involved and melting the cold demon outright. The numbed parts are allowed to feel again, and MC must flee before he is fully purified, as that would necessitate being killed outright.
MC is punched by the old friend, who takes his leave, and the remaining members of the cult, without the ice demon or their faith to unite them, end up disintegrating, leaving the MC alone once again. He realizes that it hurts.
After his wounds get worse from infection, MC is forced to switch to his demon self, leaving his other side to recuperate . He decides to hide for a couple of days until he's ready to turn back to human form.
MC ends up venturing into the woods, where he finds a chimney standing alone in the middle of a clearing. MC ends up trying to leave the woods, but finds that he can't, persistently getting lost only to end up back at the chimney, which he is eventually dragged into, eaten by the hearth.
Once he comes from the chimney, the trees have dispersed, and the ruin has become a moderately sized building: One of many. Not far from the building, a group of three kids are trying to summon a demon, and the MC is proof they succeeded.
The kids want the MC to kill the ones who hurt them and teleport them away in exchange for their immortal souls. MC, sick of being used as a tool after the cult affair, and frankly tired, says no, and demands to be taken back. Unfortunately, the kids are unable to, and the MC finds himself stuck in the past.
The complex the MC has been summoned to is a home for wayward boys in the early 20th century, an abusive one where the headmaster is vicious, older criminals are mixed with younger innocents, and staff members do as they please. MC is eventually convinced to at least help them escape, using his appearance and guile to scare people off.
The first couple of kids manage to escape, but the rest don't, and one of the kids gets fatally shot. The MC and the kid end up back where they started, hiding next to the chiminy of an old storehouse.
The kid, who turns out to be the ghost supporting what is in effect a pocket dimension, admits that he gives up, and that having someone with him while he dies is good enough. MC tries to stop him, but soon he finds himself back in the present, clutching old, paper thin bones, which crumble to dust as he holds them.
The first time MC runs away to achieve a goal, rather than fleeing in and of itself, as well as the first time he experienced the pain of loosing someone who chose to give up/run away.
Between the disintegration of the cut and watching the ghost child die in his hands, MC has fallen into depression and confusion. He wasn't sure why he started running in the first place, except to escape a place he didn't want to bear, and is now confused as to where or what he should do, if anything.
Hunger and the need for fresh clothes eventually drives MC out of the forest, as he vaguely aims to follow the road he finds to whatever civilization it should be attached to. After several failed attempts to pick up a ride, he is eventually picked up by a truck driver, who promises to take him along for a ride.
Trucker takes him across several miles of road, showing him a great migration of artificial animals and beings, roadside attractions and signs brought to life by the same magic that is in the process of destroying so much of the world.
Trucker finally takes MC to the front of an old house in an old section of the city, claiming his wife lives there, and that the MC can head in while he puts up the truck and follows behind.
When the MC answers, he finds not the wife of the trucker, but his daughter, now an older woman herself. It turns out that the trucker has become a creature of the road, unable to ever venture far or return home. This doesn't stop him from frequently stopping by, however, often depositing whatever strange things he saw fit to pick up along the way on his old family's doorstep.
MC is invited in, despite the daughter's reluctance, and allowed to rest for the night. He is told many stories about the trucker, back when he was human and after he became a monster, as well as some of the guests he dropped by. Her speech, as well as past events, make MC think of the family he ran away from, and considers calling them, at the very least.
MC does call, but it goes badly. The grandfather has heard from his friend, and believes the MC actively conspired to hurt the friend, who he had sent to protect and observe the MC, as part of some demonically driven impulse. The MC refutes this, pointing out how the friend had coldly watched him fall into danger time and time again, and the whole conversation degrades into an argument.
The phone call ends on a bad note, with the grandfather threatening the MC with the idea that he can only run away with his grandson's body for so long, that he he'll do everything he can to retrieve it. The MC sleeps badly that night.
the trucker's daughter does not want the MC staying for too long, and warns him that he would be wise to switch back to human form, no matter how uncomfortable, and leave town as soon as he was able. This particular area of the united states is better coordinated and larger than most, very nearly its own independent entity, and the leaders help keep things orderly with the help of a human first policy, which is aided by an organization of monster-hunters, the same one to which the MC's grandfather belongs to himself.
The MC listens, and manages to get registered by the city as a human after a number of psudo-scientific tests to prove it. He goes into the city looking to get money, shelter, and clothes. He manages to find a gig working for a bakery.
The situation in the city is serious, with a regimented and police heavy social structure doing little to alleviate crime and poverty. The constant fear of monsters, or, more specifically, that a friend or family member might get turned into/secretly be a monster pervades the otherwise ordinary motions of daily life.
MC ends up splitting an apartment with multiple individuals: One, the self-professed greatest artist of all time, who the protagonist has met before, the second is a young man who ran away from home, like the protagonist, the third is a foreigner who just wants somewhere stable to live and die, and the third is a low level criminal, smuggling drugs and other goods between “outside ” and the “wen,” the area where the monsters the city doesn't see fit to dispose of immediately are kept.
Bakery MC works at is only able to afford ingredients because the owner has a deal with the monster hunting organization, feeding them info that they're able to gather from customers in exchange for waived taxes on the food items he imports from outside. The baker is under pressure to deliver good info, or risk loosing his deal to some other informant.
MC finds out that the baker has recently been forced into double agent work the hard way when he's ambushed by some of the guys the baker had double crossed, but who had not yet been caught by the monster hunters or police. MC is only saved thanks to his room-mate, who's part of the gang, but he is forced into helping them in exchange.
MC is now under pressure from the baker, who trusts the MC and wants him to help keep the business afloat, and the gangsters, who use the MC to smuggle goods hidden inside the bread, which he then delivers to designated locations which come under the guise of “orders.” the baker, ignorant of who and what is going on, is happy about the overall uptick in sales.
Things fall apart when one of the persons MC is regularly sent to deliver to has his house raided, and some of the contraband delivered by the MC is discovered, still partly lodged inside its baked container. The MC and the baker are taken in as traitors. The MC and the baker manage to get out, but only because the MC effectively pins all the blame on the gang, the baker forks over an enormous bribe, and they both agree to serve as the personal bitches of the massively corrupt dept. head as pawns in his game against the iron rule of the city leadership.
This incident alerts both the grandfather and the grandfather's friend as to the MC's location.
Trust with the baker is broken. MC, who has lost his grasp on every friend and companion he has so far met, is deeply guilty. He ends up taking the job the baker was supposed to fulfill alone, which involves getting into the wen to release on prisoner in particular. (the prisoner is a political rival of the current leader, one with the potential destabilize the leader's hold on power, allowing the dept. head to exploit both their weaknesses and seize power for himself instead.)
MC convinces his criminal housemate, who has no idea at that the MC has already sold him out, to aid him in his heist. MC does this in part as a desperate gambit to have his cake and eat it too, as he knows that the criminal and his gang are going to be picked up and destroyed whenever the dept. head deems it the most politically opportune time to do so. The criminal housemate agrees, even bringing some of his friends along.
Using the info given to the MC and the baker by the Dept head, they manage to break deep into the facility, and even manage to extract the prisoner before being halted by some unexpected interference. They are caught by some stray guards, who recognize the MC as the son of one of the most famous monster hunters around. They manage to escape, but the criminal housemate and his friends are now suspicious of the MC, believing he will betray them, without realizing he already has.
Just as they manage to escape to safety, the criminal housemate and his friends discover all the comrades they left behind are dead, with their bases completely upturned and rifled through, cementing their conviction that the MC isn't helping them at all, and has been using them this whole time instead. They turn on the MC, and nearly get him but for the help of the prisoner, who kills them stone dead. The prisoner thanks the MC, but warns him against trying to juggle one ball too many in the future.
The MC is able to save the bakery, and take a step in the direction of repairing trust with the baker. The prisoner takes back his power and resumes his campaign of political enfranchisement and greater distance between civilian and military leadership. In exchange, the MC betrayed everyone who trusted him, putting himself and others under the thumb of the dept. head and directly leading to the death of several others. To make matters worse, he sees no easy way to flee the situation, which has been his solution to everything before.
winter has hit, and things are getting bad in terms of raw materials. Very little food is circulating, and what food can be found has either cranked to enormous prices, gone rotten, or been sourced from the magic zones in and around the city. Food from these zones is dangerous and unpredictable, as most of it was created from the hunger and pain of the city residents.
The grandfather's friend makes it to the city, where he gets in with the civilian police, joining them as a double agent against the monster hunters in exchange for them keeping an eye on the MC, and waiting for an opportune time to grab him. The only thing keeping them from doing so straight away is the protection of the dept head, who they want to eliminate anyway.
MC, harrassed by the police partly because he's associated with the dept head, and partly because of their deal with the grandfather's friend, is under pressure. He tries to talk it out with the grandfather's friend, who refuses to listen, claiming he isn't really the kid he appears to be, and is just a body snatching thief. MC has been saying he isn't the same person all along, but between the phone call from the grandfather and the words of his grandfather's friend, MC finds that the statement hurts.
As a result from the pressure from the police, who have been gaining power and harassing monster hunter contacts, the increasing issues with food supply, and increasing competition from other spies, MC and the baker are having a hard time, with the baker nearing the point of shutdown and MC in danger of not making his rent. The question of where the kid he replaced went, which has always bothered MC up to this point, becomes more pressing as well.
The dept head, meanwhile, is under pressure. Aware that the police are gaining more ground, and with the freed prisoner proving less controllable than he hoped, he begins conducting loyalty tests. He also drags MC into the public spotlight, both to advertise his connection to MC's venerable grandfather, and to keep MC close, as he is one of a very select few who holds the dangerous information of the freed prisoner's true nature. The dept head knows someone is feeding info to the police through the grandfather's friend, but he's unsure who or why.
The grandfather's friend thinks MC is exploiting his relations, (which he believes are false,) because he wants to, which aggravates him further.
MC wants the dept head to help out the baker, but dept head refuses, as he has no reason to, and MC doesn't have the leverage to make him. The dept head tells MC that if he wants a favor, he's going to have to earn it, such as by ratting out the mole/moles. During this time, the dept head has kept MC and the baker separate, compounding MC's sense of loneliness.
MC decides to call the Grandfather, who has heard of what's going on through the perspective of the grandfather's friend. They initially get into an argument, as the grandfather believes MC has gone back on his word that he would never imitate someone he's not. MC claims that he wasn't the one who chose to do that, and that if grandfather promises to make the grandfather's friend stop hurting people who aren't the MC himself, to reel back in his attacks on people like the dept head and the baker, MC promises to do everything he can to find the grandfather's son.
The phone call ends inconclusively, as the grandfather is unwilling to trust the MC, but is also alarmed at his claims of how events are going down in the city, which are distinctly different from what the grandfather's friend is claiming, yet in line with some of the other claims he's heard. He is also startled by MC's request for information on how he could get the original owner of his body back, which comes up in conversation at one point, which he is forced to admit uncertainty about. This marks a turning point for the MC mentally: He now has a goal of his own to chase after, separate from what other people or circumstances make for him.
Note irony: The protagonists main goal is now self obliteration in exchange for bringing back what is in fact another version of himself. He is unaware of this, and this goal could be considered not only another kind of running away/escape, but it was the same desire to be someone other than himself that lead the original kid to bring about the MC in the first place. Afraid to keep living, yet unwilling to die, MC is repeating a mistake that he doesn't know he's made before.
The last of fall ends, and winter deepens, with the freed prisoner paying less and less attention to he dept head as he manages to gain in power, which comes at the cost of destabilizing the ruling elite, spitting them into two factions, each of which try to turn the populous against their opponents. The freed prisoner, however, can't just idly turn aside the monster hunter faction, as they're the main opponents against the police, who are firmly allied against the freed prisoner. The freed prisoner can, however, use them as a tool, much to the dept head's utter rage.
With the attempts to get the grandfather's friend to back down a failure, MC decides to try to find the moles inside the organization himself, getting involved in the lives of the ordinary monster hunters. He discovers most of them are ordinary people, that while they dislike the police, the dept head and his cronies are also strongly disliked, and MC is viewed as one such crony, who used the dept head's corrupt system to skip over the hard working rank and file monster hunters.
While MC tries to get in with the regular monster hunters, the relationship between the grandfather's friend and the police start turning sour. The grandfather's friend, agitated by a call from the grandfather, who thinks he's not only going too far, but has totally lost his original goal of watching the MC and determining if he's still enough of his grandson to warrant bringing back. The agitation from this call, combined with his continued inability to lay hands on his target, leads him to push for more action more quickly from the police, whose leaders are fine with taking things slowly.
After some time together, MC gains the trust of the ordinary monster hunters. MC also manages to guess who the group of moles are: 1 secretary, one standard monster hunter, and the dept head's primary assistant, who he relies on greatly. MC is now faced with what he should do, since he knows revealing them as the moles will cause their deaths, but not revealing their deaths means he looses his job, fails to protect the person he cares for, and possibly lead to his own death, once the dept head no longer has the power to stop the grandfather's friend.
During this, MC manages to find a missing person poster with his face on it, apparently issued some weeks back, when he first ran. Indecisive, MC decides to avoid the issue by rationalizing that since he has no firm proof, he should hold off until he's totally certain. Meanwhile, the police dept's harassment of MC and the chef as pair in particular ramps up, and fights in the city begin to break out, with MC involved in encouraging the riots, on the dept head's orders, since the police dept's failure to stop it makes them look bad.
Things hit a breaking point, MC can either betray the people who trust him, again, or endanger his life and watch a person he cares for be ruined, knowing full well he could stop it. MC tries to convince the ordinary monsters to stop, that they're all just being used as tools, but the others believe themselves revolutionaries, and the dept head's assistant is merely ambitious and resentful of his master. The chef, meanwhile, goes completely broke, his store burnt to the ground, leaving him with nothing.
MC makes a decision: In an attempt to keep his conflicting loyalties, and have his cake and eat it too, he attempts to go to the grandfather's friend, intending to offer himself up directly in exchange for the protection and safety of the chef without endangering the traitors in the monster hunter organization. Unfortunately, his attempt lands him in police dept hands, who promptly hand him over to the grandfather's friend, as promised. The grandfather's friend, who was rather traumatized by his time under the thumb of the ice demon, and he intends to make the MC hurt until his own fear is finally assuaged.
MC manages to to turn the tables, taking the grandfather's friend hostage instead, planning to use him to force the police to let them both go, so he can turn over the grandfather's friend to the dept head, and extricate himself from the matter entirely. What happens instead is a shootout, the MC is forced to fight his way out, killing for the first time since he destroyed the two men in the phone company in (knell.) Included in the victims were high ranking and very capable members of the police force.
The chase ends with the grandfather's friend and the MC, outside, in public, with the grandfather's friend holding a gun against the MC's head. The grandfather's friend
(Theme = the importance of accepting change)
1) Protagonist and his siblings were orphaned at a young age when their parents, both tamers, disappeared during an expedition.
2) To pay the rent and help his young siblings and ailing grandparents, protagonist sells the service of his monsters as a freelancer.
3)The protagonist helps a girl, who turns out to be the leader of a local mercenary troop, who hires him on as the latest member.
4)With the mercenary company, protagonist learns that there is great competition for both “ancient technology” and elder beasts, monsters of a superior sort who lie hidden across the land.
5) Protagonist learns that his parents vanished looking for a device supposedly capable of bringing the world “back to paradise, ” and that many others, too, were seeking for the machine that rumors claimed could manufacture an earthly heaven, if only it could be found.
6) Protagonist and his merc troop are hired by a man intent on destroying ancient technology and ensuring ancient beasts keep resting, as he feels both people and the world are ultimately better off and happier if they live facing forward, rather than seeking the kind of power that once killed the past. The protagonist and his friends, however, resolve to take the paradise machine and use it, if they can.
7) The protagonists discovers that the world once was without monsters entirely, and the so-called paradise machine was created to turn the world back to the state it once existed in, bringing back the natural fauna at the expense of the supernatural monsters which now dominate the earth.
8) The good guys fail to reach the paradise machine in time, and it is stolen by the main antagonist, a man whose personal paradise would be one without monsters. The protagonist does manage to find his parents tamer badges, just in time to return to his grandparents before they pass away. It turns out that the paradise machine had already been found once before, and it had only remained hidden so long thanks to his parents, who found a new place to hide it in.
9) The protagonists manage to shut down the paradise machine, but only after it managed to erase the monster-fauna in a ten mile radius. The villain submits to his defeat, but points out the beauty of what was once the old world, doomed to be re-swallowed by the new in a matter of years. The protagonist is forced to acknowledge this, even if he has no regrets about shutting the device down.
10) The protagonist comes back to his hometown one last time, not to stay, but to say goodbye, selling off his old home. The story ends with the protagonist bringing his old family to join with his new one, and together, they set off for the capital, where the protagonist and his team have been hired as royal guards.
MC's parents were world famous explorers, or so he claims, based off the tattered research notes and personal journals he has of them. The MC himself, however, is just a village kid, doing odd jobs for a people who ostracize him due to his distasteful and over specific affinity. His grandparents, who grieve the loss of their children, frequently blame the parent's occupation as the cause of the loss, and are upset that MC is trying to follow in their footsteps, causing tension within the home.
Things reach a critical point when MC finds his sister, who sides with MC's grandparents and worries over the MC's constant exposure to threats in an effort to level up his monster, throws the parents' journal into the trash, hoping it won't be found. MC does find it, however, and is incensed. He starts chewing out his younger sister, and is close to laying hands on her when the grandparents intervene. MC is truly incensed, however, when the grandparents seem to agree with the daughters decision, saying she was only trying to help him for doing what he did, and that he shouldn't be so angry. The MC proceeds to run off to the woods with his monster.
As evening comes and MC has cooled off a bit, he starts to head home. MC is distracted from his task, however, by G1, who has been cornered by an unusually dangerous monster, and is having difficulty fighting it off on her own. The MC intervenes, and saves her. She thanks him, and asks him who he is. Still upset from the earlier encounter, MC claims he is on his way to register officially as a tamer, and describes his plan to find the paradise machine.
G1 acknowledges his dream, the first to do so, and asks him how he plans to accomplish it by himself. When the MC is made to reluctantly acknowledge that he doesn't know, she hands him a leather slip, which serves as a recommendation to enter A company, a commercial group of fortune seekers of which she is a part. G1 reflects that the importance of working together is something they both should've learned today.
MC returns home long enough to pack his things and head out the next day, leaving for the city. Upon arrival, the MC instantly gets lost in the large capital, which has changed enough from his parent's day that the info in their journal is no longer accurate. He manages to arrive at the company headquarters disheveled and with his money stolen.
The manager at the desk is reluctant to so much as acknowledge him, but when MC is finally able to show her the leather slip, she is impressed, saying he must have some talent to get a recommendation by the likes of G1. The MC is troubled, however, to learn that entry exams will not be held until two days later, leaving him stranded in the city, with no money to his name foe 48 hours.
The MC, preoccupied with starting his adventure, realizes he had failed to consider what he would need to do in between all that. As night falls, he wonders through the darkening streets lost and alone. He finally manages to fall asleep by hiding in the underground, wondering idly at the complex traceries still visible in the ancient stonework upon which the city sits.
The next day, the MC still has nothing to do and no money to do anything with, but is still too stubborn to admit he made a mistake. MC manages to come to a solution by thinking, ironically, of the grandparents he ran away from, who were long time advocates of self-help: The MC applies this to his situation, and realizes that waiting around for something to happen, like he did for years before finally seeking adventure on his own, isn't going to cut it. Just like he had to act to get his chance at adventure, he'll have to act to get some money.
After a few failed attempts, MC hits upon the idea of selling street food, cooked out of the smaller monsters he used his own monster to catch. As the MC is fairly good at cooking, and smart enough to fudge the origins of his meat source, he does OK, at least until he gets surrounded by other street vagabonds who accuse him of infringing upon their territory, one of whom is the kid who pick-pocketed him.
MC, after failing to talk his way out of it, is forced into an impromptu duel of his monster vs. each of the street kid's monsters at once. Thanks to the greater level, flying ability, and the exploitation of his monster's parasitic nature, the MC gets fairly far, but very nearly looses, and it is only thanks to the intervention of a retired city guard that he is saved.
The retired guard, however, isn't about to let MC off scott free. The retired guard recognizes him as a country bumpkin, too green to even know the local gangs, much less the fact that street vendors actually need a license from the city to sell their wares. When he learns of MC's aspirations, the retired guard decides to throw him first in jail, then make him go home. It is only when the MC admits that he's not looking for the paradise machine for fame or glory, but to learn about his parents; Who they were, what they were like, the things they saw and loved in their adventures so great that it drove them to leave their family behind, that the retired guard finally relents.
As it happens, the retired guard didn't know the MC's mother, but he did know his father, who was a scoundrel known for being a scamp in his youth, always trying to break into forbidden areas seemingly for the hell of it, and was an accomplished, yet charming, thief. The retired guard chased him devotedly when he was a young man, only to be repeatedly pranked for his efforts, finally giving up when he found his home had been broken into and all his uniforms had been bedazzled, painted pink, and filigreed with lace. The culprit, of course, was never found.
The retired guard lets him go, reflecting that he should at least be grateful “that scoundrel's” son was trying to make an honest living. He returns the money satchel that the MC had previously had stolen, and says while he doesn't really know anything more, the MC's dad was pretty infamous back in the day, and if he asks around some of the older folks and barkeeps might remember something.
The next day, the MC shows up right on time for the exam, which turned out to be a two partner: One being a paper test to judge his competency, and the other being a practical, where his monster fighting abilities are tested in live combat. His combat partner turns out to be G1, who uses her monster to nearly beat him, and would have, indeed, but the MC copies on of the tricks pulled on him by the street kids, which nets him a victory at the cost of G1's disappointment, who hates dirty fighting.
Now boarding at the company's lodgings, MC looks out over the city, thinks of home, the future, and how large the world suddenly all seems. He goes to sleep imagining the kinds of paradise his parents were trying to create.
Arc 2. Company life
The MC is now a part of the adventuring company, but things have not turned out as he hoped. It has been several weeks, and insofar the MC has been mostly tasked with doing support type work: Setting up and taking down camps for the team, paperwork, food prep, and deliveries take up large portions of his time, to the point where he's barely had the chance to continue training his own monster, who is close to a somatic breach.
The MC complains a bit about this to G1, who tells him that he should be grateful, as a company that expects you to earn your place is always more trustworthy than one that hides its prices. Unless the MC is either willing to put in the honest work, or somehow do something amazing enough in his free time to get noticed by the higher ups, he won't get anywhere.
The MC learns a little more about his father, as he manages to come across his dad's old orphanage in the city, which has now been turned into a hotel and bar. As it happens, the orphanage was overstretched, and children were pushed to supplement funds anyway they could. While the managers weren't evil, they were desperate to keep the doors open, and worked the kids harder than they should've because of it. MC's dad was one of the ones who worked the hardest, to the point of loosing a finger on a mechanical loom, but to no avail. The orphanage succumbed to bankruptcy, and the MC's father, disappointed and now without a family, was forced from the only home he'd ever really known.
The MC is finally tasked with something inside a ruin, albeit in a non-combat roll, as the section he'd been assigned had been cleared out by G1's team previously. The MC is instead tasked along with some new hires to copy the markings found in the ruin, as scholars and educational institutions will often pay a lot for such goods. He finds its surprisingly enjoyable, but is knocked out of his zone by one of the other new hires, G2, who is grumbling about the busywork.
MC and G2 hit it off, and G2, who also wants to become a real tamer as soon as possible, confides that she was planning a trip down to the ruins beneath Feltrip which she believes are not completely stripped, and asks if he wants to come along. MC is unsure, but remembers the story of his father, and how his attempt at doing things the hard but honest way failed to turn out. MC also remembers the advice in his parent's journal to never miss an opportunity. With these thoughts swirling in his head, the MC assents.
They head out from the company dorms together, and venture down into the ruins below Feltrip. G2 points out the carvings on the walls, the same ones MC had admired in arc 1, G1 explains that most everyone believes that the markings are a kind of writing or symbology, but she thinks they are, in fact, a puzzle, one that might lead them to hidden depths beneath the ruins. When asked by the MC how she came up with this, G1 becomes coy, and alludes to her monster's skill with thieving. The MC is disappointed, but feels he is in too deep to turn back. They try to trace the ruins that night, but to no avail.
The MC continues working for A company in a minor capacity, occasionally hanging out with G1, in spite of G2's dislike of her, which stems from her knowledge of G2's wealthy background. G1, unaware of what G2 and MC are up to during the night, praises the work MC has done so far, mentioning a lot of would be tamers wash out at this period or worse, try to jump ranks by proving themselves and get hurt somehow. G1 brings up that this was how she lost her friend when she was younger.
MC, feeling both uncertain and a little guilty, suggests to G2 that maybe they should not try getting into the lower ruins of Feltrip, at least not until they're a little clearer on what's down there, and whether or not they can hack it alone. G2 not only disagrees, but haggles MC over the notion, suggesting he wasn't good enough to hack it. She also makes it clear that she will go done one way or another. MC, both worried for G1 and unwilling to be treated as a looser who chickens out because his superior would be theoretically disappointed, agrees to go in the end. MC think back to the words in his parents journal, and how part of risk-taking wasn't just the decision to do it, but the willingness and ability to stick it out until it succeeds, or deal with the consequences when it fails. In that light, backing out before anything had happened at all could be viewed as cowardly.
MC and G2 spend several more days trying to puzzle out the riddle of the Feltrip ruins, not really making any headway, though MC does get to know G2 a bit better, learning that she is an immigrant from the empire of Mer, a civilization that tends to value ends over means, and always awards derring-do. During one of these visits, after a particuarly exhausting day, MC figures out the trick to the ruins: He realizes the lines on the wall aren't a code or even connecting lines, but a puzzle.
They solve the puzzle, in spite of the fact that sections of it were badly damaged over time, necessitating some guesswork on their part, causing a hidden passage to open up into an area even deeper beneath the ruins, which have partly flooded over time. They are almost killed by the monster swarm that inhabit the waters, and in fact find the dead bodies of some adventurers who tried before, a sobering testament to the danger of what they're trying to do.
After going a ways further, they come across another puzzle, this one related to one of the old kingdoms most sacred myths, which, unbeknownst to both the creaters and the later explorers, relates to the fall of modern earth. This particular puzzle is in fact not meant to be solved: The trick is to search around it, and find the hidden doorknob, and step through the letters: Part of the ancient people's metaphore on how to approach myths and legends.
Inside the next chamber is more or less another building, fronted by a large gathering chamber. It is also, unfortunately, mostly empty being devoid of obvious jewels, ancient tech, or other means of wealth, much to G2's frustration. Eventually, they do find a chamber filled with the impressive remains of an elder beast, lovingly preserved. In front of it is a piece of ancient tech, which, once activated, shows a 3D recording of the ancient peoples praise and love to the great, dead creature. The MC notices that as the recordings go on, they become increasingly ragged and thin
G2 is delighted, as this is exactly the kind of thing that could get herself and the MC promoted. The MC, however, is hesitant, recognizing the heartfelt, deeply sacred nature of the recording. G2, however, argues that everyone in the temple complex is dead, and everything they built, if left unused, will do nothing but sit and rot. She and the MC have no obligation to these people, only themselves. She also points out that someone else is probably going to solve the puzzles in the temple, too, and if they leave the good loot here, it's nothing other than booty for some other group of people, anyway. The MC reluctantly agrees, and goes to grab some of the elder beast's bones, which have been ritually carved and could have some value for it. In doing so, he notices damage to the elder beast's body, that looks a lot like the marks of the kinds of weaponry both the Feltrips and the Kellidines were most famous for using.
They manage to make it out with little incident, until, that is, they enter A company's doors, where they find a distinctly unhappy G1 waiting for their return. MC and G2 are unceremoniously relieved of their gains, and ordered to their respective bunks. Before this happens, however, G1 asks who was responsible for this. G2 tries to take all the blame, as she knows G1 and the MC are pretty close, claiming that not only was everything her idea, but she forced the MC into coming along, so he's not to blame. The MC however, corrects her, saying that he was never truly coerced, and is at least equally to blame for what happened.
For the next couple of days, nothing happens, though G1 does more or less cease her regular interactions. The other candidates are split between those who think what he and G1 did was cool, and anger for trying to hop the line. The MC finds another person who knew his father, this time someone who'd been robbed, and he gets a look at the perspective of the victim who has things stolen from them.
Later that night, the MC is called up to the office of the company's boss by an especially stiff G1. In it, the MC finds an old man, and is invited to help him care for his plants, which are rare examples of real plants, not the plant shaped monsters that now dominate the forest, cultivated into bonsai form.
Rather than reprimand or praise him directly, OM (old man,) talks about the origins of plants, how they're from a bygone era, and how important he thinks they are, in spite of their near extinction in the wild. He then asks the MC about his time in the ruins, asking what he thought about the city, now that he knew it was built on the pain and suffering of a people who were wiped out to build it. MC responds that he doesn't know, while reflecting that he had always viewed dungeon diving and monster fighting in the light of adventure and growth, rather than war and tragedy. Echoing this, OM goes on a monologue about how change necessitates destruction. Eventually, he conversation turns to why the MC became a hunter, and the MC admits his desire to search for the paradise machine.
OM is impressed, asking him why, and MC asks who wouldn't want paradise, if such a thing was real. OM asks hims why he chases after a dream, and the MC, having already thought this out, replies that chasing dreams until you catch them is the only way to make them real. OM nods, and comments that he likes the MC's dream, and that he, too, sought paradise, before becoming too old to do so. He tells the MC that so long as he continues to search for the paradise machine, he, OM will continue to support him in doing so. OM hands him two company badges, which mark the mainline dungeoneers of the company, and tells him to give him the second to G2 whenever she wakes up.
After the MC has left, G1 enters, irate that MC and G2 weren't punished, or at least scolded, for recklessly endangering themselves, instead being promoted before they had even learned all the basics. OM replies that he didn't found this company on anything so foolish as safety, that he was reminded of his younger self in them, and that if MC and G2 wish to seek paradise, then he would be a hypocrite to stop them, considering that's why he founded the company for in the first place. G1 accuses him of using new recruits to continue chasing his own, hopeless dream. OM denies this, but does fire back that he took G1 in in the first place because they each saw an opportunity to use each other. G1 is silenced.
the underground ruin is massive, an old temple dating from an earlier period just before the kellidine kingdom – the purpose: ritual in nature, new initiates were to solve the puzzle of the temple as a demonstration of patience and faith, while also enjoying themselves: The puzzle: six squares on each wall, which have been carved out of alignment with each other, each of which form an image of a constellation, which designates both place (the former inhabitants of the ruin, the Etallus, ordered their capital by the constellations) and number, (the constellations had a numbered hierarchy). The way to solves the puzzle is to solve the constellation puzzles, then go to the center of the cathedral, solve the puzzle there, which resolves into a map of the city, then hit the hidden buttons in the order given by the constellation puzzles to get in.
Arc 3: First big job
it has been a couple of weeks since MC and G1's promotion, and MC feels somewhat worn down: His early promotion means he failed to properly work through the basics, which puts him a step behind everyone else. Furthermore, many of the senior staff are deliberately prodding him to test his lack of knowledge, while many of the lower staff he used to talk to are refusing to talk to him. On top of all this, the all the monster fighting company's have seen an uptick in business, receiving more commissions than usual, as tensions between feltrip and Oiske, longtime enemies, are on the rise again, leading them to start pushing for more monsters, materials, and ancient weaponry both within and without their territory. While this tends to happen every decade or so, and nothing so far has happened, most of the citizens are on edge.
Due to most everyone else being away on other jobs, MC, G1, and G2 are sent on a lesser job within the city. G2 and MC because they are the most junior of the crew, and thus kept out of the more dangerous jobs outside the city, and G1 because she is in fact a member of the Kelladine family, a fact she has yet to reveal, which makes her a target to both the feltrips and the brassus. The assignment they're given is fairly simple: To find a remove a group of nuisance monsters who have somehow found their way into the city, which the city guard is currently too busy to deal with.
MC and his companions have trouble with the job right from the start: Firstly due to their lack of cooperation, as G1 is still mad at G2 and the MC, the MC feels awkward and a little guilty towards G1, which makes it hard for him to communicate with her, and G2 flagrantly disregards her attempts at leadership, considering her a know it all bore, which bothers MC. Secondly, the monsters prove harder to find and track than expected: As it happens, no one is sure how exactly they find the things they do or get into even well secured areas, leading to the suspicion that the swarm is being lead by a dangerously intelligent monster. Thirdly, it turns out that it's not uncommon for Feltrip to hire multiple companies for jobs, then give pay only to the one who succeeds as a way to increase the chances of a job's success without increasing the cost. MC and his friends find themselves competing against members of B company, who were already rivals with A company anyway, and have a much more cohesive team.
In spite of the squabbling, they do manage to figure out that there's a logic to which families are hit: All within a radius of one of the many local ruin entryways, one which is known for its good monster habitat, and hasn't been cleared out recently due to an increasingly busy city guard and the declining wealth of the general area, which has prevented them from hiring mercenaries directly. Every family hit, furthermore, have family of one kind or another.
As it happens, only a few houses that meet this criteria, while still having wealth worth stealing, are left, and one of those is a household the MC is friendly with thanks to his frequent visitations to the old side of town, where he went as part of his effort to learn more about his father. The family doesn't like mercs, but make an exception thanks to their familiarity with the MC. The group sets up a stake-out, prepared to catch the enemy when they enter from the outside.
Instead, what happens is they catch their rivals from B company, who not only managed to sneak in, but very nearly took out the main characters due to the poor communication and cooperative skills of the group. They fend off the other team, but at the cost of great noise, disturbance, and loss of property to the host family, with the objective they actually came for still unfulfilled, to boot. The hosts are more dissapointed than angry, and request that the main group leave and not come back, as they will handle any further disturbances themselves. The MC, understanding this incident has cost him his friendship with the people in question, is particularly upset.
Both G1 and G2 are regretful about how things turned out, particularly once they realize how hard this loss of friendship has hit the MC. The MC understands that in many ways, it was everyone's fault, including his own, but rather than be clear about this, convinces them to give him some time alone.
MC spends some time shirking his job, thinking about how things went wrong, and wondering if he was truly right to chase after his dream of being a monster fighter and seeking paradise. He particularly reflects on how close the family they stayed over night with were, and how distant his own family was with each other. He is interrupted in his brooding, however, by a sibling fight, where two kids are picking on what seems to be their younger sister. Reminded of his time as a village kid with low social status, the MC interrupts their fight, berating them and refusing to listen to the other kid's protests that the youngest was to blame for the fight, since she was lying. The kids are unable to explain how she's lying, but claim the eldest of the duo has a monster with a strong “truth” aspect, so he's sure its real.
The MC and the child, who begins to remind him of a sibling who the reader notes never existed, go on a tour of the city, as the MC tries to loosen up the mute child and convince her to point the way home. As part of this, they tour the part of the city where the MCs dad used to live, the remnants of what the MC can now identify as part of the older civilization Fetrip is built on, and even a few places connected to his mom, who seemed to have arrived from elsewhere as an adult hunter, commenting that he's still not sure how they met. He talks to the child about wanting and being wanted, and how connecting the two in a good and healthy way is harder than he thought or understood, and that the child isn't alone in suffering miscommunication and hard feelings when it comes to friends and family. This makes the child look guilty.
While this is ongoing, G1 and G2 are having issues of their own. They both feel bad about what happened, but while G1 wants to back off for a bit and reconsider, G2 wants to charge back in, working together for real this time and taking out B company's team to show how boss A company really was. After being smacked down by G1 for suggesting they violate both the law and codes of honor between monster fighting mercenaries, G1 and G2 get into another fight, which is forcefully cut off by G1 pointing out this is what ruined the mission in the first place, and that even if they don't like each other, this inability to cooperate needs to stop. G2 agrees, but asks how G1 plans to do that, since they can't stand each other. G1 is forced to admit she doesn't know, but shoots down G2's suggestion of just quiting the job out of pride, as she has a record of high completion she can't bring herself to lower. Instead, G2 suggests they do as the MC did, and take a break, since the conversation is going nowhere. G1 disapproves, but is drug into G2's flow on this matter.
G1 and G2 tour through the city area, which G1, being a well-to-do sort, is unfamiliar with. G2 ribs her for being so unacquainted with her own city, to the point where even a foreigner like herself knows more than she does. G1, embarrassed and offended, claims that she does know plenty, only to be proven wrong when asked a number of questions about the basic area and people of Feltrip's low district. G2 further rubs salt in the wounds by mentioning how the MC spends a lot of time in this area, which was how he knew the house owners they stayed with in the first place, and since he is basically her only friend, or at least was until G1 got angry about the circumstances of his promotion, which makes her even more surprised G1 knows nothing about the area. This statement truly stings, and G1 becomes deeply despondent. G2, realizing she had not only caused fracture to each others relationships once again, but truly, deeply hurt someone else's feelings, tries to back off, but does a terrible job at apologizing, being too hasty. She then tries to continue their lunch break as though nothing has happened,but this just makes things terribly awkward.
Things finally break down between G1 and G2 when G1 angrily taking out her misery and frustration, not just at the MC and G1, but also her stress over her isolation due to her relatively high social status, as well as her feelings of guilt over her and her uncle being involved with the Oiskians, which is at odds with her deep sense of loyalty and honor. She talks about how she knows the world isn't safe or fair, but she doesn't understand why people hate her for trying to make it so. She discusses how the MC and G2 made some truly dangerous decisions not only in achieving their promotion, but also put others at risk due to the discrepancy between their level of authority and their level of experience, and how she just wants the people she works with, and more importantly, cares for, to be safe, and feels betrayed when they ignore those desires for foolish, stupid dreams like wealth or paradise. She feels that people should work steadily for realistic goals, rather than hurt everyone around them as they try to overreach.
G2 sympathizes, but disagrees, this time without any level of flippancy. She also points out the only reason MC decided to pursue his dream was because of her support of it, pointing out her hippocracy and the potential for hurt if the MC ever found out what he thought was earnest support was just a casual, offhand lie. G2 then goes off about the importance of impossible dreams, and how the impossible and infinite are the keys to broadening out own boundaries beyond what they once were. She finishes with how life is dangerous, how life will always be dangerous, and how trying to make it anything but is an impossible dream in and of itself. The argument ends with both girls silent, and they end up agreeing to call off the search and wait for the MC back at their place of residence after G2's attempts to lighten the mood fall flat.
Meanwhile, MC and the psudo-child are finishing the day, and the MC tries to bring the psudochild back home, but it refuses, slipping his grasp and running away, only to be chased by the MC, who uses his wasp to help keep up with the unnaturally fast child. He ends up in a dead end, with no trace of the child to be seen. The MC also discovers a fair amount of his money has been stolen.
Back at the group's room, MC comes in to find a restrained mood pervading the area around his two female friends. G2 makes this more awkward by blatantly ignoring G1's obviously down mood, trying to subtly convince MC to do the same. MC, however, won't just ignore people, and starts to apologize, saying that he shouldn't have just run off from his team, especially in a bad part of the city, and that she and G2 don't have to kill themselves over todays events. He's upset, but not willing to break their friendship over it. G1, however, interrupts him, saying that he doesn't need to say anything, and that since there's no point in dragging it out, she thinks they should go ahead and end the mission. G2 is for it, as she found this particular mission more frustrating than fun, and the other guys will just complete it anyway. The MC, however, refuses, as this was once his fathers home, and he wants to make it his home one day, too. He also still wants to find the young child he was with earlier that day. He won't just give up halfway because things got hard. He votes to continue.
G1 and G2 are reluctant, but eventually agree. MC and friends eventually decide to continue with their prior plan, but this time, they begin working together, sharing information with one another and hashing out a plan of action they all agree upon.
The next day, they head out to the next group of likely targets, but the primary targets are friends with that family that the MC's tussle with company B had already ruined, furthermore, the next most likely target has already invited company B members, who they consider more professional seeming than the teens that compromise the MC's group. The MC and friends finally find a place willing to take them in the third most likely targets, who happen to be the family of the kid whose monster has a strong “truth” aspect. MC, who realizes that the parents are weirdly attached to a missing child they recently adopted, who they describe differently than what the MC saw, in spite of the MC's certainty that he saw the very child they described, and it looked nothing like what they claimed. After further discussion with the child who holds the “truth” aspect, the MC puts together the thief's MO of targeting households that either have or had a family, with the strange, speechless child he met the other day, realizing that it must have been a monster with the power to confuse or cloud perception.
MC brings this to the attention of G1 and G2, though he has issues connecting the ruthless thief with the docile seeming child he met the other day. G1 and G2 are more focused on practicalities, however, with G2 wondering how useful the information really is, since even if they have a rough idea of the monster's power, they still don't know where it will go or why its behaving this way. G1 also points out that there's still the swarm its working with, about which they still know nothing. In the end, the group decides to wait with their current hosts, rationalizing that since the family had already been targeted once, it was likely they'd be targeted yet again.
That night, MC has retired from his shift, and is about to go to bed when he is found by the psudo-child, who proceeds to try to lead him out and away from the house, seemingly concerned for his safety. The MC's attempts at questions are simply met with increasing urgency, pushing him into bed and quickly covering him up. Beneath the blankets, MC witnesses an encounter between the psudo-child and the creature involved with it: A swarm of Daemons with the [cut] aspect as their secondary aspect. As they are monsters, MC can't fully understand what they are saying, but when they leave and he comes out from under the covers, he finds the money the psudo-child had previously swiped waiting for him beside the bed.
The next day, MC and the gang find nothing stolen, but MC feels as if the situation is urgent nontheless. He convinces G1 and G2 that they need to at least try to track down the monster nest, the location of which he has a pretty good idea of, now. They make their way back to the ally where the psudo-child disappeared previously, managing to find a fairly small entryway into the sewers. They send one of their smaller monsters down into the depths to scout, which turns out to be a bad idea, as it ends up snatched by an assailent.
A contracted monster can only go so far from its human, forcing MC and the gang to rush underground, something they weren't planning on doing any time soon, ending up kidnapped themselves by a swarm of crabs with the <gather> aspect. They manage to break free, but with the enemy still pursuing them, and one of the team's monster's held captive, they find themselves stuck.
-Road trip novel in an America where the supernatural is one misstep away from reality
-MC origional name= Nash
after change= Ascelin
Lying fell: The most common kind. Not particularly strong, physically speaking, but have the power to make and take anything another party offers to them in any capacity. This power extends to the metaphysical realm, as well. If you tell a Fell devil that you'll give them a moment, they can literally steal a moment of your time for themselves, using it however they like. Any promise made to a lying fell is binding.
Snow fell: Uncommon. Cold devils can freeze things, both physically and spiritually. If you want a refrigerator filled with unmelting ice, or never feel the heat of anger or the burn of shame again, a cold devil is what you want. Their power works on themselves, as well as anything they physically lay hands on.
Night fell: Rare. Night devils feed off light. They can consume the shine from a light bulb just as easily as ideas, hopes, and dreams. They can turn insubstantial on a whim, but at the cost of rendering themselves vulnerable to the very thing they would normally devour: Bright lights and sunshine.
Burning fell: Common. Burnt devils can set anything within their line of sight on fire, are immune to heat, and are tremendously strong from a physical standpoint. However, they lack the spiritual powers possessed by most other devils.
Ghost fell: Uncommon. While not wholly insubstantial, ghost devils are ethereal in nature, unable to pick up all but the lightest objects without phasing through them. Ghost devils have the ability to possess other living things, experiencing the world through them. If a weak minded specimen is possessed, they may have their will over-ridden entirely by the ghost devil.
(MC) (affinities: Parasite/maze/speed)
Darling (parasite wasp/maze/speed)
Clipp (parasite hookworm/maze/defense)
Fuego (Parasite fungus/maze/offense)
Chitter (Parasite bird (cuckoo)/illusion/speed)
G1 (affinities: Steel/absorb/defense)
Auster (Steel blade/absorb/offense)
Darrigan (steel shield/absorb/defense)
Taumachi (steel ox/highway/defense)
Pherity (steel blade/poison/offense)
G2 (affinities: mammal/cling/speed)
Spike (red fox/flexible/endurance)
Vale (shadow/seal/speed )
(G1=responsible, serious older sister type, G2=cheerful, mischievous, seemingly airheaded, solves problems by ignoring them, G3=grumpy nerd, secretly likes cute things, G4=Shy, quiet, very sharp intuition and sense for people)
Terinova is a large, wild place, where large stretches of wilderness provide a buffer between the smatterings of kingdoms, city-states, and the occasional empire that dot the land.
Once, long ago, Terinova was known as earth, before humankind very nearly destroyed itself by inventing a reality warping device which caused freakish changes to the environment while spewing unnatural monsters far and wide. By the time a program was implemented to reverse the damages, it was already too late.
The reality warping device was invented in the first place in an attempt to solve human suffering: By this time, nearly all the resources on the planet had been tapped out, leaving humans reliant on giant, solar powered recombinators, which created vital resources from the atomic ground up. Though supplemented by off-world asteroid mining, there was a shortage of everything, all the time, a state made worse by long-term damage wrought by pollution and the effects of overcrowding. The paradise machine was intended to do exactly what it said on the label: return the earth to the paradise it once was, so everyone could live in plenty forever more.
The major power within its locality, Feltrip occupies the capital of the old Kelladine empire, which collapsed under a combination of ruling class corruption, large scale incursions of wild monsters, and food riots. The Brassus family, a branch of the imperial Kelladines, managed to take over the crumbling empire after ten years of internal chaos, and held the throne for roughly seventy five years thereafter. The Brassus dynasty, however, was overthrown by the Kelladines, a warrior clan who chafed under the thumb of the scholar-elites who compromised the Brassus family. The coup was successful, but it came at the cost of the old Kellidine empires last dregs of power, permanently loosing Oiske and Ttoggrista on its outer rim, along with much of its finances in the ensuing civil war. The Feltrips have managed to keep the throne for two hundred years and counting, though they were never able to shake off the stain of the betrayal that earned them the throne.
Though the nation and the family that runs it have softened over the centuries, Feltrip is still proud of its military, and emphasizes martial prowess and the warrior class in general even today.
Feltrip is a large trade city, located close to the ocean on one side and a large trading rout on the other. Thanks to this busy trade, it has also become known as a city of maps, rogues, and treasures.
Feltrip has easy access to stone mines and clay, so that even the poorest houses are often built of brick.
Amongst other nations, the people of Feltrip are stereotyped as being nationalistic musclebrains with a penchant for lying and cheating those poor, innocent foreigners who wander into their midst.
Feltrip still seeks to match or surpass the glory of the old Kelladine empire, which leads it to conflict
former territory of the old Kelladine empire, Oiske is now ruled by the remains of the Brassus family, who fled there after the Feltrips staged a coup aiming to overthrow them. While the Brassus were never able to take back the Kelladine throne, they were able to hold Oiske, a natural fortress thanks to its mountainous location, against Feltrips repeated incursions. A further point of contention between Oiske and Feltrip is Oiske's control of one of the major inland routes that carries fine Hashor goods down to seaports like Feltrip. Oiske not only controls traffic through this road, but also earns most of its money by taxing the wagons passing through. Feltrip badly wants control of this strategic and commercial route, and Oiske delights in keeping it from them.
Oiske is a city of caves and bridges, dug mostly into the peaks that surround the great Aurum roadway like a pair of walls. This not only aids in defense, but also helps keep the inhabitants warm in their high, snowy homes.
Oiske is renown for its manufacture of arms, and has access to a number of fine iron mines located deep in the mountains. They also have a found a few particularly dangerous dungeons, filled with traps set out by the ancients.
While Brassus royalty still technically hold the throne, all true power is now located in the Oiske merchant alliance, leaving the unfortunate Brassus' as mere figureheads.
Flying monsters raised and ridden by state-sponsored tamers form a major mode of transportation.
Main members of the merchant alliance: The Twe, Del, Yu, Lod, Shae, and Gyr clans control the Oiske merchant alliance, each family sending one Representative for a council, with the Twe member serving as the unofficial head.
Viewed as overly suspicious by outsiders, often considered to have a chip on their shoulder.
Members of the Oiske kingdom do not consider themselves to be traitors. Instead, they claim to be loyalists to the true heirs of the Kellidine empire, as embodied in the Brassus bloodline, which they protect against the villainous Feltrips.
Former domain of the Feltrip empire, Ttoggrista used the chaos caused by the downfall of the Kellidine empire to declare themselves an independent kingdom, the insurgent nobility taking the opportunity to crown themselves as rulers. Ttoggrista, unlike Oiske, rejected the pleas of shelter sent by the fleeing Brassus family, which turned out to be a bad decision, as it put them on bad terms with both Oiske and Feltrip, leaving them alone to defend against the incursions of the Hashor kingdom. Ttoggrista only managed to retain its independence thanks to a happy combination of its remote, inhospitable location, its proximity to multiple major archaeological digs associated with the ancients and their technology, and the possession of an elder monster, which made one of these sites its nest before being tamed. The deterrent of the monster's power, paired with the willingness of Ttoggrista to pit its enemies against each other at every available opportunity, have helped it retain independence.
Ttoggrista is proud of its many dig sites and wealth of knowledge related to the ancients, and this reflects in their architecture, which is tall, conical, and mostly built from glass and silver. The citizens of Ttoggrista believe their city-state to be an accurate reflection of the ancients' cities, and would be very upset to discover otherwise.
Ttoggrista is located in the middle of a yellow, rocky expanse of shallow mist and stones. No trees grow, flowers fail, and crops require the utmost care to cultivate at all. This is due to the poisonous nature of the stones, which are sulfur-like in nature. Only a form of red, algae like substance grows within the cold, narrow flows, which forms the base of the Ttoggristan diet. Due to the low availability of food, Ttoggrista is prone to famines, and relies on imports for much of its sustenance, most of which comes from Hashor, which views Ttoggrista as a buffer between itself and Feltrip.
Stone carving is a common hobby, to the point where a traveler venturing through the wilds of Ttoggristan territory will venture upon any number of carved beings scattered along his way, created out of boredom or amusement by the native folk.
The elder beast that helps protect Ttoggrista is worshiped as a sacred animal among the native people, and serves as a mount for the current king.
The king is selected from a pool of children with direct blood ties to the original rebellious nobles who first broke away from the Kellidine empire are set before the elder beast, who chooses among them one to be his tamer. This chosen one is selected as the heir to the throne.
The people of Ttoggrista value knowledge and information highly, and are skilled in the arts of diplomacy, history, and art. For this reason, many other countries will send their children to Ttoggristan schools.
Ttoggristans are often stereotyped as scheming, duplicitous, know-it-alls with a penchant for treachery.
An empire in motion, the Mer empire is a nation plying the high seas using their giant, man-o-war like monsters to carry them from shore to shore. Mer's foundation lies in the ancient past, when a pirate who had lost his ship in story weather managed to tame a giant Man-o-war like monster, which he used as his ship from then on. The Mer are a tribal society, loosely affiliated thanks to a shared culture and thrice yearly meetings, where all the fleet masters gather to decide general policy and assess threats to the Mer as a whole. The Mer live within the large carbuncles that grow out from the inner section of the scudwallows, as their living ships are called, protected by a poisonous curtain of tentacles that trail along the scudwallows outer rim. The sole exception to this is the captain and his family, who live within the gelatinous inner dome, where they care for he Scudwallow's vitals and take care of food they grow among them. The Mer are masters of the sea, and can be found either as traders, raiders, or smugglers, depending on the fleet. The Mer pride themselves on their independence and freedom, as they are beholden to no land bound kingdom, roaming the high seas whenever and wherever as they please.
The Mer are typically arranged in “fleets.” In this system, each ship has a captain who is in charge of the ship's inhabitants and safety, while all the captains, in turn, look to an admiral, who works together with a council of his chosen men to oversee the operation of the fleet.
While outsiders tend to call all of the living, jellyfish-like boats used by the Mer “scudwallows,” the Mer themselves differentiate between many different breeds, all of which have different purposes. The most important are scudwallows, general purpose living and trade vessels; Seabores, unusually large specimens specialized in taking damaged; Fetchrakes, small, fragile animals capable of high speeds, and often augmented with artificial aids, such as sails; Bimmyrig, a large animal bred for long, powerful tentacles, which it spreads out beneath the enemy before flailing wildly, beating and poisoning them to death; Dartsails, small combat breed scudwallows, they are mid-sized and speedy, but not terribly agile. They are noted for their ability to spit balls of corrosive liquid over great distances.
The Mer also raise other species of monsters, most notably pips, which they allow to grow on the underside of their larger creatures as a source of protein, and sulisers, which are natural water jets that can be ridden as a sort of horse or mount.
Though they have a well earned reputation as hard parting, hard drinking rascals, the Mer have a tremendous respect for tradition and law that can often catch outsiders by surprise. Mutiny in any form is a terrible crime, in someways more than murder.
As they lack the carrying capacity or resources for things like books, Mer place great value on the accurate preservation and retention of verbal lore.
The Mer tend to look down on “sedintaries” as inferior to themselves, while the land-dwellers, likewise, tend to view them as savages who actively impede their own dominance of sea-faring and trade.
The Mer view he sea, particularly the high sea, as their domain, and resent the incursions of other peoples into it.
Viewed as brute thieves and savages by outsiders, the Mer might have alliances with land-dwellers, but never friendships. To do otherwise would be a betrayal of the Mer way of life.
a desert kingdom built among the obsidian wastes, a place of endless wind and sand, the Hashor are a distinctly hardy people who tend to be more active during the nighttime, when the blistering heat of the day has cooled off, somewhat. The Hashor subscribe to an odd religion, devoted to the worship of shadows and midnight, which they believe more closely reflect the true beginnings of the world and the original vision of the five creator gods who made it.
The Hashor are ruled over by a line of Sultans, who bolster their claim to the throne through a combination of divine right and the power of an elder beast, a bird-like monster which is capable of turning any wind that passes through its feathers into cutting blades. The Shamil family line is notable for its endurance, managing to keep and hold the throne for the entirety of the Hashor empire's two-thousand year history.
Though rich in jewels and gold, the Hashor have long coveted the fine land and easy seaports beyond the mistyrock breach, currently held by the Feltrip empire. This has put them in a near permanent state of dispute with Feltrip, that likewise covets the gold, jewels, and spices for which Hashor is famous.
Renown for its skilled cavalry and genius trackers, The Hashor are skilled at hit and run tactics, and are masters of guerrilla warfare.
The Hashor kingdom's capital city, Pasifah, is built from the bones and hide of the strange animals that roam the desert, particularly the leviathanesque beasts of tremendous size which roam the wide desert wasteland. Pasifah is also remarkable as an archaeological site, as the city has been inhabited for so long, its older sections have been built over by the new, creating a labyrinthine complex of tunnels beneath the desert. A famous order of assassins, known only as the Meek, are among the only ones able to navigate them with any surety.
The Hashor kingdom's elder beast, though mighty, is old, sleeps often, and has difficulty waking up.
The Hashor's main source of water comes from underground reservoirs deep beneath the sand.
The Hashor predominate on the overland trade routes, pulling their carts across massive distances for the sake of goods and wealth.
The Hashor are known as skilled breeders of monsters, and Hashor bred pack animals are greatly valued.
Outsiders view the Hashor as highly cultured, but also secretive and mysterious as a people.
Monsters come in all shapes and sizes, but can be divided into one of four main categories, followed by several sub catagories.
All monsters are born with these three aspects, which have a major effect on growth.
>Primary traits describe what the monster is, in a hard, verifiable way, and are the prime determinators of the monsters physical form.
> for ease of categorization, the Primary traits are broken into two : There are four distinct species, each of which have 4-5 types, which are more general in nature. A spider of living quarts, and a ruby songbird would both, for example, fall under the mineral/crystalline category, in spite of being formed from two different types of rocks.
>Primary traits are mutually exclusive. Even if a being might resemble some other species or type, it is an issue of appearance, only, not a confusion of species or type. A ruby songbird might appear as though it were some kind of animal, but the nature of its composition proves that it is, in fact, crystalline in nature, and therefore cannot be animal, metallic, or anything other than mineral/crystal. That said, its not always easy to differentiate one kind of monster from another, and there are some borderline cases that scholars argue over seemingly without end.
>animal types are defined as living entities, which consume, excrete, respirate, and reproduce using organs specialized for the purpose. Animal types almost always require some kind of organic matter for sustenance. animal types inhale O2 and exhale CO2.
>vegetable types are defined as living entities, which inhale CO2, consume water and minerals, and exhale O2. They are not very mobile unless roused to move, and almost all feed off sunlight to sustain themselves.
>mineral types are non-living entities possessed of life and motion. They do not breath or sleep, and only need to eat as a means of self-repair in the case of excessive injury. Mineral types are typically slow and heavy, and can meld with and travel through their associated element with ease. They typically have a low sense of self.
>spiritual types are non-living entities, which are either insubstantial or of very low mass, no matter how large their form is. They do not breath, but do need to periodically feed off the spiritual or psychic emanations of other living things. Most spiritual types do need to rest after exerting themselves for long periods of time.
>Chemical types are non-living entities formed from some element in nature which has been granted form and will. They are entirely self-sustaining, but need to rest periodically between states of consciousness.All chemical types cannot prevent their bodies from interacting with the surrounding environment, which makes those monsters made of fire a particular scourge.
Monsters with differing primary traits cannot breed.
Secondary traits are determined at birth, through a combination of the parent's primary traits, celestial alignments, weather, environment, and seasonal periods from gestation to the point of the monster's first breath. Thanks to the wide combination of factors, even the most experienced monster breeders have difficulty controlling and predicting secondary traits with any reliability. Secondary traits have a major impact on a monsters base temperament and power. Secondary traits often, but not always, express themselves physically.
For example, a ruby songbird with “tooth” as a secondary aspect, may have multiple mouths, fly on wings made of crimson teeth instead of feathers, or may simply express unusual pleasure and skill in chewing through various objects. How a secondary trait expresses itself depends partly on parentage, partly on how the monster grows and is raised, and partly on its own personality and desires.
Secondary traits become stronger and more pronounced with every somatic breach.
the three tertiary traits primarily effect how the monsters power manifests itself, while somewhat altering the body to fit the trait. Monsters aspected for speed are lithe and limber, endurance based monsters compact and fit, defensive types bulky and large, ect.
Tertiary traits manifest themselves only after the monsters first somatic breach, and are determined solely on the basis of the monsters will, nature, or desires.
A curious phenominon in which a monster exceeds its bodily limitations, which are broken down and altered with rapid speed, transforming to meet a new, higher threshold of skill and prowess. Whether a monster changes greatly during this process, or merely a little depends on its aspects.
A monster goes through five somatic breaches, with the exception of elder beasts, which go through six. These stages are:
infant –> adolescent –> mature –> adult –> grand –> elder (elder beasts only)
To achieve a somatic breach, a monster must absorb power from its surroundings. While this can be done passively, the process is slow, to the point where a monster that attempts to grow by simply absorbing power from its surroundings rarely makes it out of the adolescent stage before being killed or dying of old age.
There are two methods of speeding up the absorption of this diffuse power into themselves: Unusual and intense exertion of the self, and contracting with a human being. These two options are not in any way exclusive, and often utilized in concordance with one another.
If a monster contracts with a human, it basically gives them an exp boost. In-story, humans are unable to use the ambient power for themselves, but with a contracted monster acting as a conduit, can absorb and store large amounts of it within themselves, including what would otherwise be lost due to the monster's less efficient gathering process. The human can then take this charge, and pass it back to the monster upon physical contact, acting as a kind of super efficient charging station for the monster to power up from.
Humans are more efficient at absorbing power from some monsters than others, and have wells of varying sizes.
Humans have higher affinities for some monsters than others. These affinities, furthermore, can be specific or generic, and can be keyed to one or all of the three possible monster traits.
For example, human A may have a mineral affinity, making it easier to contract with and pass power onto all animal types.
Human B, on the other hand, might have a crystalline/silence affinity, which would allow him to gather power easily only for monsters which are crystalline and nature, and with true efficiency to crystalline monsters with silence as a secondary affinity.
Human C, meanwhile, might have an affinity for Ruby/silence/defensive type monsters. While Human C would still have an easy time contracting with any crystalline monster with a silence aspect, he would only be able to be truly efficient in gathering and returning power to a ruby monster with the correct secondary and tertiary aspects.
The more specific the affinity, the more power the human is able to gather for a correctly aligned monster, while humans with less specific affinities trade a wider contract pool with a less efficient power sharing process.
For examples' sake, imagine it like this: A ruby/silence/defensive typed monster alone might get ~25% of all potential Exp from an encounter, ~50% when contracted to a human with a crystalline affinity, 75% with a Crystalline/silence affinity, ~80% with a ruby/silence affinity, ~85% with a crystalline/silence/defensive affinity, and ~98% when contracted to a human with a fully matched set of ruby/silence/defensive affinities.
Note that no matter how perfectly the affinities match, some power is always lost in the transition of states, thanks to the still functioning power of entropy.
Humans with very specific affinities are often considered more cursed than blessed, as they are prone to attracting large numbers of monsters that match those affinities, who will fight among themselves for the right to contract with the human, with little to no regard of their surroundings. Clever monsters will try to coerce the human into a contract, while dim ones will simply follow them endlessly, dogging at their heels no matter how far they might run. This tends to result in much chaos and misery for the human in question, not to mention the damage done to his friends and environment. To prevent issues like this, human parents will try to contract a child to a suitable monster or two as soon as possible, which serves to dramatically cut down on trouble from prospective contractees.
All humans are born with a certain cap on how many monsters they can pull from before their well is completely full, and all subsequent power is no longer absorbed. For most humans, this is four to five monsters worth of power. A few exceptional individuals can power six to seven, and very rare persons can power up to eight.
Elder beasts, or monsters of unusual and extreme power, may require more power than the typical monster, causing the number of ordinary monsters the human can contract with before hitting his or her limit to be reduced.
Monsters can still be contracted even after the human in question has maxed out how much power their well can absorb, but they would be greatly disinclined to do so, as this would diminish the primary benefit of contracting with a human in the first place: increasing the amount of aura they can gain from combat and effort, leaving them to take turns and share with other monsters instead.
A monster may contract with humans for the other benefits they provide as well, such as easy access to food, custom shelter, and even entertainment and love of company.
True animals, not the monsters that resemble them, also had affinities and the potential to utilize them, but humans alone had the intelligence and foresight needed to exploit this capacity with any real success, leaving them one of the last natural animals left on the entire planet.