All the Strange Strange Creatures

Souji woke up, still fully dressed, on top of his bed. The sky was still dark, only the glow of the city lights providing illumination.
Well, that and the strange glowing blue butterfly.
He wasn’t sure how or when, but it became the being who had been Arisato, and turned towards him. “How are you feeling?”
Well, his back ached. He couldn’t feel his legs. And he had a splitting headache. “Alive.”
A smirk. “Good enough.”
Souji forced himself to sit up. He could vaguely remember now. They’d run until he’d finally gotten his wits about him and gotten on the train. He’d then let this…thing to his room only to collapse on the bed the moment he closed the door. He glanced at the clock. Well past midnight.
“Don’t push.”
“Just sitting up. Was my mom a pain?”
“Your mom? No one came to the door.”
“I see. Well, that simplifies things a bit. Probably just saw my sho-“ Oh, his shoes were actually still on his feet.
“You were exhausted, and still panicked until you came here.”
Souji pulled out his phone. “I see.” No swarm of messages, so there apparently hadn’t been any news.
The being who had been Arisato sat beside him, though carefully avoided any contact. “Now what?”
“You stayed with me. Why?”
A shrug. “You reached for me. I just…grabbed on.”
“Is that all? What about that child?”
“Yeah, blue eyes, prison stripes?”
“Sounds like Pharos. That would make sense. I feel, much more coherent now.”
“You haven’t tried to kill me yet either.”
“Sorry about that.”
“Why’d you stop before?”
“We were fighting. Something calmed you down.” One advantage to not having undressed was that he still at least had his wallet on him. Souji pulled out the burnt out joker card. “I think it was because of this.”
He stared at it a moment. “I think so too.”
“Do you remember why?”
“Where did you get it?”
“I don’t really remember. Another kid gave it to me in elementary school.”
“I don’t really remember, but I kept it with me. Just became a habit.”
“Me too.”
“A burnt joker card. Same set, I think. I carried one too.”
Souji just stared at him a moment. “Do you think it’s from you?”
He shrugged. “Maybe. Does it matter?”
“I guess not now,” Souji put it back, “but it definitely did.”
“Why did you chase me?”
“You’re a little dangerous.”
“A lot dangerous. I see.”
“Do you know Margaret?”
“She’s Elizabeth’s older sister, I believe. Anyway, she told me about you. She’s my assistant in the velvet room. Or, she was.”
“You know the velvet room?”
“My first persona. Orpheus.”
“Fool,” the one who had been Arisato echoed. “We’re the same.”
“Final arcana?”
“Then not quite. I’m the World.”
“I see, but I felt you. It felt nice, comforting, like a good bath it cleaned me.” He looked at his hands. “It hurts, but I can see through it.”
“See through what?”
“The pain.”
“Yeah. Hey, what should I call you?”
“Oh. My name’s Souji Seta. You can just call me Souji, if you want.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah. If you really are, were, Arisato then you’re my senpai. Speak of, if you aren’t Arisato now, then who are you?”
“Ryo- no, I don’t know. I know who I was, but that’s not who I am.”
“Then what do I call you?”
He shrugged. “Don’t know.”
Souji sighed. “This is going to be hard enough as it is.”
“It’s alright. I just need, something. My parents are going to need an explanation.”
“Because you’re here?”
“Not a problem.” He seemed to shrink then, or maybe concentrate, until he was a shining blue butterfly. He then became human again. “I think I could become an object like that as well.”
“And object?”
He nodded. “You could…wear me.”
“I see. Guess that solves the problem, but I still want something to call you.”
“I don’t know.”
“Something that describes who you are now.”
“Who I am. Hmmm.”
“Any ideas?”
“Would you have any?”
“Not really.”
“Well then. How about you name me?”
“Name me. What would you call me?”
“I don’t know. Orpheus?”
He shook his head. “Only Arisato.”
“Okay then, the kid was Pharos, right?”
“Only a piece.”
Souji sighed. This really was difficult and he was still too tired to spend forever crafting a name. Yet, it felt important to do it now, to establish that bond while he had the chance. “I don’t know. Butterfly?” It seemed stupid, but maybe they get ideas out of that.
“Butterfly?” He thought for a moment. “Butterfly.”
“Not much of a name, is it?”
“Butterfly. Not a name, an identity.”
“Really? That’s almost as bad as if I called you Tiger Festival.”
He shook his head. “But I am a butterfly, so why not be Butterfly? I like it.”
“Really?” Souji smiled.
Butterfly nodded. “Yeah, so would you call me that?”
“Well, it was my idea. Just didn’t think you like it.”
Something flashed in his head. A tarot card and a voice.
“Thou art I… And I am thou…
Thou hast established a new bond…
It brings thee closer to the truth…
Thou shall be blessed when creating Personas of the Universe Arcana.”
Souji stared at Butterfly. Butterfly stared back.
“Did you just have weird voices in your head?”
Butterfly nodded. “A new community. A new bond.”
“You too?”
“Yeah. You really are the world.”
“And you’re really the universe. I…”
Butterfly put a finger to his lips. “Can you access the velvet room?”
“Not on my own. Not now anyway. You?”
He shook his head. “I don’t think so. I haven’t seen a door.”
“Then we’re both fools with nowhere to go.”
“We went to each other.”
“You think so?”
Butterfly nodded. “We have to stop them.”
“Yeah.” Souji pulled out his phone again. “What do you know about it?”
“They were trying to catch me, I think. They only had a piece though and now that I have it back I’m whole.”
“So they were trying to use other Persona users to lure you in?”
Butterfly shook his head. “Not quite. I felt it. A persona dying.”
“A persona dying?”
“I don’t know how, but they were doing something to them.”
“I got that impression too. That’s why I ran.”
Souji: Anymore news on Nebula Medical?
“Who did you contact?”
“Naoto and,” Souji paused. He hadn’t even thought about it, but what if Butterfly wasn’t okay with this? “Naoto and Kirijo, Mitsuru.”
Butterfly’s gaze dropped. “I see.”
“I just asked them if they’ve gotten any more information. Mitsuru now runs an organization-“
“I know!” He held himself. “I wish she didn’t.”
“What’s wrong?”
Butterfly looked away. “You should rest. They might pursue.”
“I don’t think they’d attack me in my home.”
“Just go to sleep.”
“After I shower.”
Butterfly glared at him for a moment. Then, he just about jumped into the form of a butterfly and flew over to the windowsill.
This was going to get interesting.

“Welcome to the velvet room.”
Souji opened his eyes to the same blue room he’d been in before. A pianist played a gentle tune while a painter worked on a canvas. Margaret had greeted him.
“Igor’s still gone.”
She nodded. “Some of them have returned with grim news.”
“About Butterfly?”
“Ah, the one who was Arisato. He didn’t want to be called that.”
Margaret closed her eyes. “I see. You have already established a bond. It’s still weak, but I can feel it.” She opened her eyes again. “Don’t trust him.”
“Why? Didn’t he sacrifice his life to help people?”
“Yes, but you said it yourself. He does not believe he is the same person.”
“He’s correct. The being before you is a herald.”
“A herald?”
Margaret took a deep breath. The pianist stopped playing. The painter stopped painting. “You have encountered similar entities before, but a herald is still somewhat different. They are not human pawns, or persona, or even shadows. They are tied to the human will, but in a way which is entirely different from other beings you have so far encountered.” She sighed. “They are drawn to this world through human desire and help bring forth the desired conclusion. They represent other, more powerful, beings and work in that other being’s goals.”
“We’ve encountered that before.”
“This is different. He is no longer Minato Arisato. Nor is he the thirteenth shadow, the herald of Nyx, that Arisato and his friends fought back. Just as the shadow world is connected to all of humanity it is also connected to divinity.”
“I don’t understand.”
“The being before you now is the completed Thanatos.”
“Death. Purely death. When enraged he slaughters thousands in bloody war. When calm he brings them to a peaceful sleep.”
“And it was incomplete before?”
“Yes. Simply a Shadow. A powerful one, but a shadow, working on that level. Many deities have thrown pieces of themselves away, destroying the tether between themselves and humanity so that they may act independently. These become powerful shadows, the repressed desires of gods themselves, engorged on the emotion humans send to them. Unfortunately, its time with Arisato seems to have allowed it accept its attachment and, after its defeat, it has chosen to fully fuse. The being before you now is a god.”
“Gods? Demons? I don’t get this.”
Margaret smiled. “I know, and this should never have happened. At some point it was decided that the Shadows would come here while the gods and demons remained apart. Unfortunately, at least in that instance, that seems to have broken down.”
The pianist started playing a mournful melody.
“So, he’s a god?”
“Fundamentally, yes, or at least he is directly tied to one. Think of Arisato as the persona, the tie to humanity, for a god.”
“And you don’t me to trust him?”
“Do not assume his goals and desires align with your own. He is still a herald, and still a god of death.”
“I feel kind of bad though.”
“Don’t feel bad about it. While I would not mention this discussion to him, I do not think he would be bothered. I’m sure he understand this as well. However, I do believe he will still seek to protect his friends. Otherwise the world could easily have ended without anyone ever becoming aware of it. He is calm now, and when Thanatos is calm he does not wish to cause pain. Remember that as well.”
“So he’s trying not to hurt his old friends.”
“I believe so. His bonds are as important to him as yours are to you.”
Souji nodded. “I think I get it then. He should help with Nebula Medical then, if they’re hurting persona users. We just don’t know what comes after.”
Margaret nodded. “I will summon you again when my master returns with more news.”
A ring echoed in Souji’s head.
“I believe it is time for you to wake up.”
“Until next time.”
Margaret smiled, fading away in fog. A moment later he opened his eyes.
A glowing blue butterfly rested on the pillow right beside his head.


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