Five minutes and a lot of cold water later, His lordship Chaos emerged from the bathroom. The B4K4 D3ZU shirt was gone, now replaced with a more sophisticated shirt that read: 'If you can read this, you're standing too close to my starseed.'
"Ah! Much better!" His lordship Chaos sighed, stretching out his arms. He immediately set about throwing some J-rock tunes into the CD player to enhance the creative ambiance. But somehow the opening theme song to Totoro didn't quite work.
His lordship Chaos sat down in front of his laptop, staring long and hard at the screen. He mumbled something, looked up at Hotaru-Muse (who was watching over his shoulder), and then went back to staring at the screen.
'So Mamoru was in ancient China, and was heading
towards the Spring of Drowned Girl. The Chinese guide
led him on the long journey towards the infamous cursed
Finally His lordship Chaos threw up his arms and pushed away from the desk, rolling across the floor in his swivel chair. "I don't know," he said, gesturing to the laptop. "Something is missing here, but I can't figure out what."
"A plot, maybe?" Hotaru-Muse retorted dryly.
Ignoring her barb, His lordship Chaos snapped his fingers. "I know! I always consume ridiculous amounts of Sake whenever I write."
"You mean to tell me you're half-drunk when you write your stories?" Hotaru-Muse exclaimed, aghast at such an absurd writing technique.
"Hai!" the author happily agreed, bounding off to prepare his Sake. "Sake-chan, Sake-chan, Sake-chaaaaaaaan!"
Hotaru-Muse shrugged her shoulders. "Well that certainly explains why your previous attempts at fanfiction were less than coherent. We didn't even know at the time they were fics."
She took it upon herself to sit down in front of the laptop and think about the fanfic--while His lordship Chaos did the naturally more difficult job of heating the Sake to the perfect drinking temperature.
"So why exactly is Mamoru on his way to Jusenkyo?" she called out.
His lordship Chaos continued to rummage in the kitchen cupboards as he looked for one of his Sake glasses. "Plot device?"
"Other than the obvious," Hotaru-Muse said. "I mean, if you want a fanfic that engages the reader, there has to be some poignant motivation for why Mamoru has left Japan behind. Does he want to become a stronger Tuxedo Kamen? Is he really after some Spring of Drowned Man water for Haruka?"
"I don't know!" His lordship Chaos replied, sticking his head out from the kitchen. "I'm making this fic up as I go along. It's a crossover fic; it's not supposed to make sense. They never make sense!"
Hotaru-Muse tried to mull through some ideas over the loud clatter of pots and pans. "Maybe he thinks he'd look better in a sailor fuku than a tuxedo."
"Maybe Seiya got him absolutely pissed drunk the night before, handcuffed him to a Lunaball, then shipped him off to Jusenkyo! That way Seiya could have Usagi all to himself...herself. You know what I mean."
With an expression of stunned disbelief on her face, Hotaru- Muse slowly turned to His lordship Chaos, and then turned back to the paragraph displayed on the screen.
"That could actually work," she said finally, shivering at the thought.
"Want some pocky while we're waiting for the Sake?" His lordship Chaos called out, tossing a box of chocolate pocky in Hotaru-Muse's general direction.
She adeptly caught the box and got out a few of the candy sticks to snack on. "If we're looking at comedy, how about a quest?" she ventured between chews of her chocolate pocky. "Quests always make for an interesting comedy."
"I know!" His lordship Chaos piped up, sticking his head back out from the kitchen. "Through some sort of freak accident while attending a high school competition hosted at Furinkan High, Usagi gets sprayed with water from the Spring of Drowned Man. You know, the Japanese Nanniichuan located underneath the girls' change room. Now Mamoru has to find the cure."
Hotaru-Muse frowned. "Anything-goes, martial arts odango-fu? I don't think so, Chaos."
"Okay, YOU think of something clever," His lordship Chaos retorted. "All you've done is shoot down all my good ideas. I thought a Muse was supposed to co-operate with the artist."
Upon hearing that, Hotaru-Muse let out a laugh. "First off, you're a freelance fic author right now. I am not contractually obligated to help you in your writing ventures until you become an experienced fic author," she retorted. "This visit is a Muse charity gesture. You get an official muse if and once you post a fic on the Net. Second, I only work with good ideas."
"And?" His lordship Chaos asked, failing to see the point.
"Who said these were good ideas?"
His lordship Chaos feigned hurt, clutching at his chest and giving Hotaru-Muse a pained expression. "Oh, that's cold. That is so harsh, and so wrong too. I'm a well-loved aspiring author."
Hotaru-Muse seemed to need more convincing.
"What about all those fans who visited me on the ASMR message board a while back?" he said.
"They weren't fans. They were a lynch mob wanting to destroy you after you suggested that Chibiusa was the lovechild of Setsuna and Dimando!"
His lordship Chaos scratched his head in confusion. "Really? How could you tell?"
"Didn't the parade of torches and pitchforks tip you off?" Hotaru-Muse inquired.
"I thought burning someone at the stake as a Sailormoon heretic was a message board initiation thing," he responded, looking more surprised than anything else. "You know, like Frosh Week. I even brought the marshmallows for that!"
Hotaru-Muse groaned and began to massage her forehead. "You are seriously making Mimete seem like a genius, you know that?"
"Thank you!" His lordship Chaos replied with a grin. "I try."
"That wasn't a compliment, you dolt!"
But His lordship Chaos would hear no more of that, lost in his own happy li'l delusions of grandeur. "Let's just forget about Mamoru for a moment," he said as he returned to check on how his Sake was heating.
"But...but isn't he the lead character in your fanfic?" Hotaru-Muse protested, chasing after him across the living room.
His lordship Chaos waved her protests aside. "Aw, the fic is young. What about giving Minako that overwhelming fear of cats Ranma has? Can you imagine poor Artemis the first time he finds her: Sailor Catfist!"
Hotaru-Muse wasted no time in clobbering His lordship Chaos with a large toy Silence Glaive. "Baka leak!"
Of course, she reflected afterwards, perhaps it wasn't a good idea to smite the author you were trying to help. "Gomen!" she said, looking down at the twitching, broken otaku on the floor.
"That was uncalled for," His lordship Chaos sniffled as he peeled himself off the floor tiling. "What is it with you and bonking people on the head with large rubber weapons? Are all creative Muses armed like this?"
"Usually I just tap my clients on the head or discreetly whisper something in their ears," Hotaru-Muse replied. "That gets them inspired enough. But you...I need to hurt you just to inspire you to *stop* writing."
"Feh," His lordship Chaos scoffed, dusting off his shirt. "What's a little inspiration without the perspiration?" Making sure both his arms still worked, he walked into the kitchen. "Then again, I'm not really sweating as much as I am suffering from a concussion--no thanks to you, I might add."
Seeing how the Sake was heated nicely, His lordship Chaos removed the pitcher from the pot of boiling water and gently set it down on the counter.
Hotaru-Muse rolled her eyes as she joined him in the kitchen, her hands crossed over her chest. "Look, if you had something actually worthwhile to contribute to the Mamoru/Jusenkyo story, you'd find me a rather charming and helpful Muse. But you, Sir, are a threat to any decent fic idea that comes near you. And I just want you to know that when this is all over, I'm filing a restraining order against you."
Suddenly His lordship Chaos spun around, his eyes wide in unbridled shock. Hotaru-Muse couldn't help but smile at the thought that finally she'd managed to get through to the would-be author.
"Of course!" His lordship Chaos exclaimed. "Mamoru can fall into Jusenkyo's Spring of Drowned Hat!"
Needless to say, this was not the reaction Hotaru-Muse had been expecting. She stood motionless for a few seconds, the only motor skill she could perform being the act of blinking. "S-Spring of Drowned Hat?" she finally managed to stammer.
His lordship Chaos shrugged. "A hat could drown."
"It could happen!"
Upon realizing that His lordship Chaos was both sincere and serious about the drowned hat, Hotaru-Muse reached forward and grabbed the pitcher filled with hot Sake. "I can't take any more of this brainstorming sober!" she lamented, chugging down all of the rice wine in the pitcher.
Chaos quickly wrenched the pitcher away from her, and then peered inside it. "Hey! You didn't leave any for me!"
Half an hour and a whole lot of Sake later found the Mamoru/Jusenkyo fanfic more or less completed. By this time Hotaru- Muse was rather plastered, barely able to sit up straight in her chair.
"So there we go," she drawled, pointing at the laptop screen in front of them. She was swaying in her chair, on the verge of toppling over. "Mamoru goes to Jusenkyo, falls into the Spring of Drowned Girl, then gets his head dunked into the Spring of Drowned Cactus."
She immediately turned to His lordship Chaos.
His lordship Chaos was sagely nodding as he read over the rough draft of the fic. "Right. So now if he's hit by cold water, he becomes a busty girl with a cactus' head."
Hotaru-Muse immediately swung her face back towards the laptop. "And the Senshi then mistake him for a youma and zorch him with their flying tiaras of death?"
"Pretty much, yeah," His lordship Chaos agreed, pouring himself another glass of Sake. "I decided to switch the story mid- way into a tragedy."
Abruptly Hotaru-Muse snatched the Sake glass from the author's hands, downing the contents in one gulp. His lordship Chaos was left to just peer down at his empty hand.
"Are you going to hog all the Sake tonight, or what?" he asked in exasperation. "I'd like to actually have a drink too."
"Too slow, too bad," Hotaru-Muse retorted, sticking her tongue out at him. Her teasing was cut short by yet another hiccup, her eyes focusing and unfocusing in her inebriated state. She glanced back at the fic being displayed on the laptop, leaning forward until her nose was pressed against the screen. "This is a tragedy now?" she asked, a little confused.
His lordship Chaos could only shrug as he tried to shake out a few drops of precious Sake from yet another empty jug. "Well it was either that, or have Seiya fall in love with Usagi and girl- type Mamoru. Then Seiya would try to decide which one he loved more. It would make any Sailorstars battle all the more interesting, but I figured the cactus-head made for a stylish touch."
"Good enough!" Hotaru-Muse exclaimed, leaning back in the swivel chair before spinning herself around. "The fic's over. I can go home now, and send you my therapy bills later!"
With that, she dramatically jumped to her feet, took two lurching steps towards the front door, tripped over His lordship Chaos' Cthulhumon plushie and then tumbled right onto his couch. There was a moment of awkward silence before His lordship Chaos dared to get out of his chair and check on his Muse.
"Um...hello?" he asked, peering over the back of the couch. "You still alive?"
What he saw was Hotaru-Muse sprawled across his couch on her stomach, sleeping soundly. His lordship Chaos sighed and shook his head, fetching the comforter off his bed and carefully putting it over the slumbering Hotaru-Muse.
"Well, aside from her drinking all my Sake, I'd call this a rather productive session," he remarked as he saved the story on his laptop. His lordship Chaos then broke out into an evil grin. "I can't wait to show her my latest idea for a fanfic: an Utena/Card Captor Sakura crossover!"
Hotaru-Muse's eyes were suddenly wide open in horror. "WHAT?!"
A week or so passed after poor Hotaru-Muse stumbled drunkenly into her superior's office and stated she was taking a very long sabbatical. Most of her friends and fellow Muses usually saw her getting hammered in the beach-side patio bar along with Fujisawa- Muse and Misato-Muse. The rest of the day she'd just spend cuddling a little kappa doll as she sat by the edge of the swimming pool, giggling maniacally to herself.
After completing work on his highly-lambasted fanfic 'Tuxedo 1/2', His lordship Chaos was once picking the depths of his deranged mind for ideas. Thus far progress on a new masterpiece was slow, yet the glory he had achieved for himself from his first fanfic drove him onwards.
"I knew my work was destined to become a classic!" he had exclaimed triumphantly a few days after posting 'Tuxedo 1/2'. "Look at all the reviews praising my ingenious work!"
Of course, he never did notice that all the praiseworthy reviews were of the MST of his fanfic. On the other hand, he was quoted by many as having "brilliantly botched" the basic premise of the crossover.
Back in front of his computer, His lordship Chaos cracked his knuckles. A blank screen awaited his genius and a bottle of Sake was warming up on the stove in preparation for the writing session. The lights were all out, save for the halogen lamp in the far corner of the room and the string lights made to look like chili peppers draped over the television set. Some J-pop tunes were in the CD player, getting him in the subtitled mood. He had also gone one step further and tied a neko-tail for himself around the back loop of his jeans.
Everything was in place.
Yet something just felt auspiciously absent.
"It is getting kinda lonely here," His lordship Chaos remarked aloud, glancing back over his shoulder. "I wonder where that cute Hotaru-Muse vanished to. She was kinda fun to hang with...when she wasn't stealing all my Sake."
She had also given him some great ideas for 'Tuxedo 1/2', even if her final (and drunken) word of advice on what he should do with the fic was rather vulgar and physically impossible to do. Chaos had to admit to himself that she had contributed so much to the story, it just felt wrong to not include her in this new brainstorming process.
"Hey...wait a minute," he said abruptly, sitting up in his chair. "I'm officially a fanfic author now. Aren't I contractually obligated to have a Muse at my disposal?"
As if uttering some magical words, a sudden plume of grey mist erupted from the bedroom of his apartment. Not entirely surprised this time around as the cloud of enchanted fog rolled towards him, Chaos calmly leaned over in his chair and cranked his new oscillating fan to full power.
The fog was quickly dispelled, revealing his apartment--which looked as normal as ever before. Yes, nothing seemed out of place...if you didn't count the round marshmallow-like rabbit-thing happily perched upon the fanboy's couch.
The white rabbit-thingy let out a loud "Pu Pu Puuuuuuuuuu!" noise and grinned at him.
Slowly picking himself up, His lordship Chaos took a long, hard look at the strange rabbit-thingy. Then he noticed the red jewel decorating the middle of the creature's forehead. "Aaaaaaw, how cute!" His lordship Chaos sighed wistfully, staring down at the rabbit-thingy. "It's Mokona from the Rayearth series."
"Pu Pu!" the Mokona-Muse chirped.
His lordship Chaos immediately hauled out the toy Silence Glaive Hotaru-Muse had left behind. "KILL IT! KILL IT NOW!!" he exclaimed, smashing the toy glaive down.
With a startled "Puuuu!", Mokona-Muse frantically bounded off the couch moments before said piece of furniture was reduced to many many pieces of furniture. Even blunted plastic edges can become a lethal weapon if enough force is properly applied.
"Puuu!" Mokona chirped angrily, wagging its ears at His lordship Chaos. Seconds later it disappeared in a small "poof!" of smoke. His lordship Chaos ceased from exacting a second strike, waiting for the smoke to clear.
It was just as well that he didn't attack any further, given how with the smoke gone he was now looking down at the chest of Nicholas D. Wolfwood.
"Okay, evidently that was the wrong character to assume in front of you," Wolfwood-Muse stated as he shifted his stance, jostling the immense cross-shaped gun hoisted over his back.
His lordship Chaos gawked at Wolfwood. "Cool!" he finally managed to say. But then he noticed some very obvious differences between this muse and the last one. "Hey, what happened to the Hotaru-Muse?"
Wolfwood-Muse winced. "Um...it's best you don't learn the true extent of your destructive powers. Suffice to say, I'm your new patron Muse--and just a word of warning: I work a lot differently from Hotaru-Muse. We'll have no cutesy little maho-shoujo fics while I'm around."
"Fair enough," His lordship Chaos agreed. He happily gestured for Wolfwood-Muse to make himself comfortable on the couch. "This is so cool; Nicholas D. Wolfwood's going to sit on my couch!"
Wolfwood-Muse sweatdropped, leaning his cross-gun against the far armrest of the couch. "Technically, I'm not him. I'm just a creative abstraction assuming his form."
His lordship Chaos waved that aside. "Who cares? I've got to get a picture of this. No, wait! I've got to get more Sake to celebrate this moment!"
And off the author dashed into the kitchen.
Wolfwood-Muse shook his head and sat down next to his weapon. "Don't see what the great Council of Muses was so jittery about; he's just harmless and stupid," Wolfwood-Muse muttered to himself, placing his feet onto the coffee table. His eyebrow abruptly twitched when he noticed the Cthulhumon plushie sitting in a wicker lounge chair across the table, staring at him. "Okaaaaaaaaaay...."
He glanced over to the kitchen as he heard His lordship Chaos rummaging through the cupboards. "So, rumour amongst the Muses has it that you're starting work on a second fanfic, Chaos."
"Hai!" came His lordship Chaos' voice amidst the rattling of a few dishpans. "I'm still working on developing the basic idea, so we've got quite a bit of leeway."
Wolfwood-Muse chuckled to himself, placing his feet onto the coffee table and stretching his arms out behind his head. "This is going to be easier than I thought," he said. "Never send a naive Senshi to deliver a Gung-Ho Gun's inspiration."
"I've been meaning to ask," His lordship Chaos remarked, his head popping out from the kitchen doorway. "Just where do fanfiction muses reside anyways? Is it some beautiful utopia full of scantily-clad women like Megami Paradise?"
Now that hadn't exactly been the sort of question (or theory) Wolfwood-Muse had been expecting to hear. Caught off-guard, he slid down into the couch, flailing about on the cushions.
His lordship Chaos shook his head as he watched Wolfwood-Muse lose all composure. "Muses," he sighed.
"Er, the Muse Realm is not like Megami Paradise," Wolfwood- Muse said. He then wistfully sighed. "Though sometimes I wish it were. Fanservice as far as the eye can see, instead of all those filing cabinets. Shimatta! Just the thought of all that paperwork I have to go back to is depressing me."
"Sounds rough," His lordship Chaos said.
Wolfwood-Muse nodded. "You don't know the half of it. We're all randomly assigned authors to inspire. Most of them turn out to be duds, and the rest don't often come up with something worth putting on your resume."
He snorted indignantly.
"But if you come across a great author, suddenly there's this big powerplay where all the 'classy' top-rated Muses try to steal the author from you. 'Our ideas will only be truly appreciated by that guy,' they say, or 'I am better qualified to help that girl write her story.' It's all about literary politics these days. Everyone wants the credit for the good stuff."
Wiping his hands dry on a dishcloth, His lordship Chaos emerged from the kitchen, where another pitcher of Sake was being warmed up. "What about vacations? Cute co-workers?" he asked, pulling his swivel chair over to the couch and sitting backwards on it.
Wolfwood-Muse crossed his arms over his chest and sulked. "Work-related romances are frowned upon, since they're deemed obstructive to the creative process. And our vacation time is on commission; the more acclaim a story and author gets whom you inspired, the more time off you're allowed.
"The Council of Muses are into this great 'dramatic' stance when it comes to fanfiction. They play their favourite Muses, always making sure they get the better authors. The rest of us are left struggling to fend for ourselves. We work our asses off, despite some of the hack authors we're stuck with--and we're still left with a meager paycheck at the end of the day."
Wolfwood-Muse shook his head. "Sometimes being an abstraction just plain sucks."
His lordship Chaos tutted, resting his arms on the back of his swivel chair. "I didn't know some Muses were so stuck up."
"Believe it," Wolfwood-Muse stated. "There's one in particular; I attended classes at Muse Gakuen with her. Usually she takes the form and appearance of Nanami Kiryuu from Revolutionary Girl Utena. She thought she was Osamu Tezuka's gift to fanfiction. Always got the highest marks in the class and then rubbed it in our faces."
"Must be harsh," His lordship Chaos said consolingly, patting Wolfwood-Muse on the shoulder.
Wolfwood-Muse nodded. "She's always been razzing me, ever since I dared to contradict her one day during a debate about fanfiction canon. Currently she's a nominee to sit on the Council of Muses. Everywhere I go, other aspiring Muses are practically worshipping her.
"Not to mention Nanami-Muse goes out of her way to conveniently 'bump into me' whenever I'm out of my apartment. Between her haughty gales of laughter, her brainless pack of 'hai, ojo'-san!" groupies, and the dreadfully boring epic romances she writes, I'm ready to kill something."
That said, Wolfwood-Muse sank deeper into the couch and brooded. There was practically a li'l black raincloud thundering over his head.
His lordship Chaos gave the situation some thought. "Well then," he stated as he headed back towards the kitchen. "We'll have to make sure my fic helps you kick her ass, and get you a first- class Muse rating. I doubt she'd be able to gloat over all the acclaim my newest story is certain to get you."
Wolfwood-Muse, however, remained somewhat pessimistic. "What did you have in mind?" he asked in a half-hearted voice.
His lordship Chaos' smile broadened into a shark-like grin as he came back into the living room, something hidden behind his back. "I have a plan which guarantees our success."
Suddenly Wolfwood-Muse straightened up on the couch, staring the author in the eyes. "Na ni? What is it?"
With a bold proclamation, His lordship Chaos held out a steaming pitcher wrapped in a dishcloth. "The handy otaku's secret weapon: Sake!!"
His smile disappeared upon noting how his secret weapon was met with a rather cold reception--namely the feel of cold metal as the barrel of Wolfwood-Muse's cross-gun was pushed against his forehead. "I sense disagreement," His lordship Chaos said, glancing up at the gun barrel.
Wolfwood-Muse kept his fingers on the trigger. "Oh no, you don't," he stated. "I know what you did to Hotaru-Muse with that stuff, buddy."
"Hey, she's the one who kept stealing *my* Sake," His lordship Chaos huffed. "I wound up being the sober writer all night long. She didn't even let me have a single shot."
"Still was uncalled for," Wolfwood-Muse said, lowering his weapon. "Hotaru-Muse was two grades behind me in school, and the most adorable little thing you'd ever met. And thanks to that little brainstorming stunt you and her had, it's practically become outlawed to drink on the job."
"Pshaw!" His lordship Chaos scoffed. "Conventions were made to be broken. Hell, successfully breaking free from any fanfictional canon is one of the first indications of a truly brilliant author."
Wolfwood-Muse blinked a few times as he considered that. "Point."
"I mean, who says we have to take this fic seriously?" His lordship Chaos sagely observed, setting the Sake pitcher and two small glasses down on the coffee table. He began pouring the rice wine as he talked. "Your problem with this Nanami-Muse is that you're playing her game--and she plays seriously. But we can make my next fanfic a twisted comedy the likes of which fandom has never before seen. It will be so ridiculously brilliant, ground-breaking and wildly popular, that Nanami-Muse will have to stand in your shadow for once! Are you with me?"
"Hai!" Wolfwood-Muse cheered.
His lordship Chaos quickly poured them their shots. "Now in order to write this fic properly...let's get pissed!"
"Hai!" Wolfwood-Muse seconded, hoisting his glass brimming with Sake into the air. "And if she thinks that she's better than us because she only writes serious fics, then let her try comedy and prove herself!"
His lordship Chaos raised his own Sake glass into the air, clinking it with Wolfwood-Muse's. "Kampai!" they cheered, slugging back their shots.