Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners
Fandom: Fate/Grand Order
Pairing(s): Siegfried x Karna
Genres: fanfiction, fluff, humor, genderbent
Characters: Siegfried, Karna, Arjuna, Jing Ke, original characters
“Key words: ‘you think’, Archer. Nausea isn’t equivalence of morning sickness.”
“So,” Rhys drawled, stroking his smooth chin as if he had a beard with one hand while pointing a finger to a pool, “that one turns humans into pandas.” Must have been the one responsible for the panda, no, Mr. Show’s current form. His finger moved to its neighbor. “That one turns humans into what, little piggies?” He winced at the thought. Probably the nasties one of them all. His finger pointed at another pool. “And that one is a dog pool?”
“A chihuahua pool,” Mr. Shou corrected.
OK, worse, Rhys thought, making a mental mark on the location of that pool. If he were ever get a canine form, he’d rather turn into a German shepherd or a husky, not a tiny fur ball with unbearably annoying bark.
“That’s not the worst one,” said Mr. Shou, pointing his paw at a pool in the far east, “that one turns you into a combination of a woman, a boar and a panda.”
Arms crossed in front of his chest, Rhys sent Siegfried a smug look.
Aren’t you glad I didn’t let you test the waters?
Siegfried cast his eyes down, his shoulders hunched. Karna lightly patted his forearm in consolation.
“And you tested them all?” Karna asked.
“You could say so,” Mr. Shou replied, his tone implying a mild surprise when Karna suddenly spoke to him. “Took me a while, though.”
“How did you test them?” Rhys asked. “You did not dive into each of them, did you?”
He refused to believe someone was crazy or desperate enough to try Gilgamesh’s suggestion.
“I used mice. These pools actually turn every living creature into a certain form but they make no alteration to the mind.”
“So if a mouse is thrown into the woman pool…”
Mr. Shou’s shrug indicated the answer was obvious.
Rhys imagined a woman walking around with a mouse’s mind and shivered at the horror. He couldn’t help an audible groan. Glancing at his Servants, he noticed that Siegfried had paled while Karna’s expression had lost its usual calmness.
“Fortunately there’s also a mouse pool so I could change them back and learned how these pools work.”
The Master and Servants exchanged a quick look of relief.
“That all happened before those slimy monsters made this area their nest and breeding ground. Since I didn’t want to become panda meat, I stopped coming here altogether.”
Those slimy monsters that had been wiped out by Balmung.
“But you came here today?” Rhys said.
“I saw a strange pillar of light in this direction so I thought I should go have a look.”
That must have been when Siegfried unleashed his Noble Phantasm, Rhys thought.
“Then I ran into this big guy in strange costume in the forest.”
“After a little misunderstanding, he decided to go with me, learning that we had cleared the monsters,” Siegfried said. “As I said before, Mr. Shou, your condition and our companion’s may have something in common. He fell into the pool that turned him into female.”
Mr. Shou’s ebony eyes reflected Karna’s image as he studied him with attentiveness. Were he in his human form, he might appear to be contemplating; however, since he looked the way he was now, it was an odd, if somewhat funny, sight to see a panda sitting motionless as though he was debating with himself whether to pick this bamboo or that to consume. Rhys shook the thought away, mentally chastising himself for getting distracted from the issue at hand.
“I see,” Mr. Shou spoke slowly, “so, the woman pool.”
Something sparked in Rhys’s mind. “Mr. Shou, you said when you threw the mice into the mouse pool, they turned back to their original form? If that’s the case then—”
“Do you think I loved being a panda so much I had decided to stay like this if there had been pool to fix it?”
Rhys’s heart dropped. Literally dropped. He could even hear a thud in his ears.
Actually the thudding sound was Siegfried’s heavy Balmung hitting the hard ground.
Rhys didn’t dare to look at his Servants. Once again the great hero of the Mahabharata had been the butt of Fate’s devious joke. “But there has to be a way, right? Neither you nor my friend here can stay like this forever,” he said.
Mr. Shou shook his head and crossed his arms, a very human gesture. His shirt strained against his form. “I’ve been in this form for six months and during that time, I’ve inspected every pool present. All fruitless. But there’s something…”
A light cut through thick darkness. Rhys’s heart was elevated. “Something what?” he asked with haste.
Mr. Shou’s black eyes reflected this strange trio as he studied each of them. “There’s hope,” he corrected, “which wasn’t available to me before but now, with you, it might be possible. Can I ask if you are the ones who defeated those monsters?”
Rhys blinked at the question, certainly not expecting it. “Yes,” he replied. It was basically their job.
Perhaps it was a trick of light but there was a gleam in Mr. Shou’s eyes. His mouth moved, spreading on both sides in what Rhys interpreted as an attempt of a smile. “It’s about to get dark,” he said, “and if you don’t mind, you can come and stay the night at my home. There’re things to discuss, and having a roof above your heads is better than camping outside, isn’t it?”
Mr. Shou’s home was a nice cottage nestled amongst the tall bamboo trees. At the first look of Mr. Shou’s cottage and surroundings, Rhys couldn’t help a random thought he had chosen this area to build a home solely because of the abundant food supply. Come to think of it, what did Mr. Shou eat? Had the pool’s magic altered not only his form but also his metabolism so that he mainly digested bamboos now? It was a serious matter of science that demanded an answer.
Rhys’s theory of Mr. Shou’s diet was proven wrong came dinner, when the meal consisted of dumplings, pickles and chicken broth, all home-grown ingredients from his little garden. The man was kind enough to share his food with Rhys’s group even though Rhys was the only one who actually needed to eat; Karna and Siegfried just sat at the bamboo table sipping a minimum portion of broth – quite tasty, mostly to keep up appearance. They had communicated with each other via mental connection between Master and Servants that neither Mr. Shou nor his daughter needed to know they had two Heroic Spirits with the powers to smooth out the entire bamboo forest plus the mountains at their table.
It turned out Mr. Shou was living with a teenage daughter. Around fifteen, Iori, his daughter, was a comely tomboy girl wearing a plaid shirt and jeans coveralls with her chestnut hair cut in a short bob. She was a surprisingly good cook, as the meal they were having was all prepared by her.
She had also displayed a level of composure beyond her age when her father came home with a costume-wearing, weapon-bearing trio, though not without a cool look of suspicion, which vanished after Mr. Shou’s introduction. Having a panda for her daddy probably had prepared her for many sorts of surprises.
“I have a temporary solution for that,” Iori said after hearing the story about how Karna had turned female. She stood up, brushing aside her chair and, and went into the kitchen’s direction. Rhys’s eyes followed her figure, curiosity bubbling in his chest. Was that why Mr. Shou had invited the thee of them to his home? Still, if this girl had a solution, shouldn’t she have helped her father first?
Iori returned shortly after with a kettle in her hand, her footsteps light as a cat’s. She stood behind Karna and all of sudden, poured the content of the kettle on Karna’s head. Having never suspected the teenage girl’s sneaky blow, the great of hero of the Mahabharata received a full kettle of steaming water and was thus soaked the second time in the day.
“What are you doing?” Siegfried barked, his temper showing vividly in his tone. There were few occasions where the calm and mild-tempered Dragon Slayer raised his voice, and this was one of those.
Iori’s expression was free of guilt as she casually replied, “The temporary solution. Just look at him.”
Rhys and Siegfried both turned to Karna, who was quietly wiping the water from his bang and eyes; to remain calm even when he had just had a kettle poured over his head, he must have reached the highest level of Zen.
Two gasps came out simultaneously.
In front of their eyes was the Heroic Spirit of the lance in his original form. It was as if all his feminine traits had been inexplicably and magically washed away by the water.
A soft, surprised sound passed Karna’s lips as he saw the drastic changes. To think his condition could be fixed with a method as simple as a kettle of hot water…
It took all Rhys’s will to not jump at Karna and squeeze his lean form in the delight. He was pretty sure the same thought was running in Siegfried’s head. “That’s really good, Karna,” Rhys said, grinning from ear to ear.
“I hate to spoil your mood but don’t get overjoyed too soon. It won’t last long.”
The trio turned to the source of the voice – Mr. Shou but instead of a panda, they found a stout middle-aged man with a shining bald head. His clothes were the same as the panda’s but they were soaked and dripping water to the floor. Beside him stood Iori with the kettle in her right hand.
To be continued
A panda dad and a teenage daughter, do they remind you of anyone?