It was about ten in the morning after being shown magic for the first time. At least, I guessed as much based on the timestamp of the post I made. We decided that we would set out in a couple days to a nearby trading outpost as an in-between on the way to Boarding. Janice said she has a merchant contact we need to meet, on top of procuring more supplies for the rest of the trip. She left the training hall to set the fortress’ affairs in order and to have the knights prepare the equipment we need. I requested a knight to stay to help me investigate the fake 4chan power, and Fourteen volunteered to stay behind. If this magic can feel intent, it’s likely I just have to desire to post on 4chan for it to appear.
>Could you stand next to me? There’s something I need to test.
Fourteen moves over and stands within arm’s reach without saying a word. Quite the talker. Well, let’s give it a shot. I imagine the computer setup appearing before me, and it does just that. Time freezes and the ghostly desktop bleeds into existence once again. Convenient. I take this opportunity to do a few things. First of all, I reach out and attempt to touch Fourteen, but my hand phases right through his body. Not surprised. Then, I try to take off my shirt, but my fingers just pass right through the cloth. So I can’t interact with anything other than the computer, and I can’t move from the spot that I summon it… It seems that T really covered all the bases with which I could exploit this time freeze, he’s quite prepared. After doing these tests, I check the meta 4chan.
In the directory is a new board, /h/ – Hentai. That was quick. I assume that the sudden fast-forward wasn’t just for show, and the fake 4chan went forward in history after I made my post. Purely because of my natural curiosity, I check the new arrival. …Some of these artists don’t even draw anymore, what a shame. Adolescent nostalgia fills me. I’m not quite sure what use shitposting on this board will bring, and I don’t think I’ll be able to use the energy type for anything useful anyway. But this will be useful for other reasons. I smile to myself, then head back to /b/.
It appears to be October 2nd on the meta 4chan. The post timestamps match what seems like the hourly time where I am, however. Being able to tell time whenever is pretty cool, I guess. I decide to make another post, this time inside an already existing thread. Opting to go for a simple derail, I search the explorer for an old 8-ball image. The person replying applies the final number in their post to a particular result in the image, which is the answer to whatever nonsense question they ask it. Classic thread derailment. My unfortunate victim is a Full Metal Panic: Fumoffu thread. It looks like the season was mostly over when 4chan was made, so they’re in hot discussion. I submit my reply, the thread speeds up, the computer fades, and time resumes. I speak to Fourteen.
>I tried touching you when I used my power. Did you feel anything?
I head over to the targeting range, while Fourteen follows behind. The dagger is full of tention. I decide to test the variability of the random attack spell. Only Fourteen is here, so my stage fright is lessened. With the dagger in my left hand, I make another finger pistol with my right and cast the spell.
>Arbitrary Code Execution: Attack Vector
Then I fire the pistol once again exaggeratedly. More of my dignity fades away. A bucket manifests above the target and dumps its contents onto the target before disappearing in a cloud of smoke… I hear sizzling. Acid, huh. The wooden target falls apart.
>Sorry about the target.
Fourteen shrugs. I examine the dagger. Intuitively, I comprehend that I have slightly over half of the dagger’s tention left. It’s just fucking magic, I guess. This time, I make up a new spell designed for support. The effect remains random. I doubt the usefulness of a support spell that you can’t control, but I imagine a purely positive Deck of Many Things.
>I’m going to cast a support spell on you.
Fourteen seems unconcerned despite witnessing my attack bucket just now. Admirable. I make a prayer motion with my empty hand and close my eyes. As confident as I can, I recite the new spell.
>Arbitrary Code Execution: Firewall
I place my open hand on Fourteen’s shoulder as I say the final word, and the spell activates on him. A thin fiery haze surrounds his body, but he doesn’t react as if in pain. A literal firewall? That seems more precise than it is “random.”
>Does it hurt? Do you feel any heat?
I reach over and touch his flaming helmet, but it feels cool. I put my hand in front of him.
His gauntlet contacts my skin, but nothing happens. I uh, really don’t know what the hell this is. Maybe it’s another situation where intent matters. Perhaps if something hostile touched him, it would burn them? I take this opportunity to attempt to dispel what I’ve cast. I imagine the spell ending… and nothing happens. I still have a minuscule amount of tention left in the dagger, so I make something up that might work.
>Command Prompt: “Slash” Release
I snap my fingers, and the haze around Fourteen dissipates instantaneously. God this is so embarrassing to do unironically. I bet these gods are losing it watching me fumble around with this shit. So I can’t just will a spell effect away, it has to be another spell.
>Were you able to tell what that effect that the fire had on you?
Great. Intuition kicks in again, and I’m able to discern that the tention left in the dagger isn’t enough to cast anything of note. I’ll probably take for granted how easy it is to gauge my remaining tention. Not finished testing the ability, I grab a nearby crate and place it in the middle of the room. Fourteen silently watches. I climb up onto the crate, and hop off of it, attempting to activate the power in midair.
Time slows, and I decelerate rapidly while feeling none of the recoil you would typically feel when having your momentum abruptly stopped. I’m floating in midair but feel no great discomfort other than my legs being frozen in place. I pull up /b/ once again. I head into a Kino no Tabi thread and type up a long diatribe about how awful the show is. Lying to myself in pursuit of the perfect shitpost no longer causes me pain. I submit the reply, and the thread reloads. This time something else happens, however.
I’m instantly messaged by T.
T goes offline. So, three strikes and I’m out, huh. That IP… it was a loopback address. So there’s no actual connection to anything? Is it really all in my head? I’m not sure what kind of information I can even get out of T. Time resumes, and I land on the ground next to the crate. Fourteen watches me silently. It must have looked like I just got on a crate only to jump off of it. This must seem really dumb. After confirming that my dagger is fully charged, I speak to Fourteen.
>So why did you wanna help me figure out my power?
>You’ve been really helpful, but you don’t seem very happy about something.
Fourteen doesn’t respond immediately, but I decide to wait for him to do so.
>…I don’t trust you. Master is always thinking miles ahead of us and has never driven us down the wrong path, but I fear her eagerness in sheltering and providing companionship for an anomaly like you. She sees something we cannot but is showcasing a lack of prudence that is unlike her. Be mindful of your situation and the degree of hospitality she is offering you. Understand?
I was wondering if any of them would be suspicious. As far as Janice explained they’ve never seen anything like me before. I nod my head.
>I don’t plan on any betrayal. I’ll be on my best behavior. Besides, Janice can still use a spell to compel me if I were to do anything stupid. We tested that earlier.
Fourteen seems unconvinced. It’ll probably take some time for him to trust me. There’s one final test I decide to make. Being able to use that telepathy spell would be useful. I mimic Janice’s magic by snapping my fingers and reciting the same words with the same intent.
>Ping Command: Janice
I do my best Metal Gear codec call impersonation, and Janice’s voice fills my head.
>Anon? Is that you?
>Yeah, I gave it a shot, and it turns out I can use the same telepathy. Does this work between the knights as well?
>Correct, the White Knights are capable of the same magic. The physical distance and duration of the connection affect the consumed tention however, so be mindful. I applaud your initiative, I hadn’t considered testing this spell.
>Yeah, I figured it’d be useful if I could do it too. I’m gonna have Fourteen show me around. Talk to you later.
>Right. If you need anything, don’t hesitate to contact me.
The transmission terminates, and I speak to Fourteen again.
>Could you show me the layout of the fort?
I spend the rest of the day touring the bastion. Now I know where mostly everything is located. Most of the rooms are barracks or offices repurposed for various magical experiments that Janice does or for general storage. The kitchen is still maintained so cooking can be done. I get a good look outside the walls as well. We’re surrounded by a sea of trees at the top of a mountain. The path to the gates is overgrown, and likely sees little use other than when the knights head out to hunt for Janice or gather supplies. For lunch, a knight brings me some jerky. For dinner, another knight brings me to the kitchen and cooks for me with the flourish of someone out of a cooking manga or a /ck/ related television show. A different knight leads me back to the same room I woke up in, where a change of clothes and a made bed awaits me. …This is already getting tiresome. I decide to solve my self-made problem tomorrow and go to sleep.
The next day I wake up, put on a new set of clothes, eat some fruit I snagged from the kitchen, and check 4chan. I’m no longer banned and new boards have appeared, as time has seemingly sped up to October 6th, 2003. /c/ – Anime/Cute, /d/ – Hentai/Alternative, /w/ – Wallpapers/Anime, /y/ – Yaoi, and /i/ – Oekaki are now present. I smile to myself. Most of these are “useless.” However, /i/ catches my attention. It’s an old BBS which was only meant for art, but I can use this for my plan for sure. I head to an unused office and begin to act.
I realized very quickly that Janice and the knights have some sort of invisible bond that lets them differentiate between themselves easily. I, however, can only tell the difference depending on the weapons they’re carrying. Also, if we head into Boarding and start doing bardic work for real, it would be better if other people could tell the difference as well. I start calling in the knights one by one. The knights continued to eagerly show their skills while I was wandering around yesterday, so I’ve seen all of their performances.
I begin assigning each of them a name based on their talents or their weapons. Usually, they have a preference when I give them an option, and all of them save for Fourteen are ecstatic to be given this much attention from a yusur. After I decide on their names, I use a very weak spell and paint a small, simple symbol on each of their helmets using magic. It takes me three separate posts on /i/ to gather enough tention to use for these painting spells, but it’s just enough to finish the job and is empowered by the artistic energy from the board. The day before our journey begins passes by rapidly as I name all 32 White Knights and bestow upon them each a unique symbol.