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Fanfic / Hotspring Souls!

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Everybody deserves a vacation!note 

Hotspring Souls! is a 2015 fanfiction by Cal Santiago. An Affectionate Parody/Romantic Comedy Alternate Universe Fic, Hotspring Souls! stars various characters from the Soulsborne (Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls II and Bloodborne) franchise by FromSoftware.

Exactly What It Says on the Tin, the story is a Hot Springs Episode that begins with the Hunter and the Doll (from Bloodborne) winning a raffle and receiving vouchers for an all-expense paid weekend vacation at an inn/hotspring in the countryside. Since they have extra vouchers, they decide to invite Artorias the Abysswalker and Lord's Blade Ciaran along. They are later joined by Solaire of Astora, the Chosen Undead, Rhea of Thorolund, the Bearer of the Curse, the Emerald Herald (Shanalotte), the Slayer of Demons and the Maiden in Black. Only, this vacation isn't as "normal" as the gang would expect... Shenanigans inevitably ensue!

The sequel, Slice of Souls!, is an anthology of (relatively) slice-of-life oneshots starring the gang and their friends, and also introduces characters from Bloodborne: The Old Hunters.

A third installment of the series, Sibling Souls! primarily stars the Chosen Undead and focuses on him and his relationship with his older sister Anri of Astora. This story marks the debut of Anri, the Ashen One, the Fire Keeper, and Horace the Hushed from Dark Souls III.

See the larger version of the page image here. See the unhelmed version here.

This fanfiction provides examples of:

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     Tropes from Hotspring Souls! 
  • Accidental Pervert: The Chosen Undead once he sees Rhea's swimsuit.
  • Action Girl: Ciaran and Eileen. Once the plot kicks in, though, ALL of the Soulsborne girls become this.
  • Affectionate Nickname: The Doll refers to the Hunter as "Good Hunter", just like in the game.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of the Soulsborne series.
  • Alone Among the Couples: Solaire is the only one in the gang who is single and without a love interest, but is perfectly fine with it since he's more interested in hooking up The Chosen Undead and Rhea of Thorolund, anyway.
    • This does change in the sequel, though, where Solaire ends up with Lady Maria.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Lord's Blade Ciaran.
  • Area of Effect: Both Rhea and Maiden Astraea use Wrath of the Gods at one point.
  • Armor Piercing Slap: The Doll gives one to the Hunter, to snap him out of his Heroic BSoD during the climax.
  • Become a Real Boy: It's mentioned early on that the Doll has become human before the events of the story. This is a nod to the fanfic, After the Arcane Storm.
  • BFS: Sif has one. So does Soulsborneon.
  • Brain Bleach: The guys are all traumatized when they see Solaire's swimsuit— an excruciatingly tight and eye-searingly bright yellow speedo with a red sun logo smack dab in the crotch area.
    Hunter: "Oh man... Maybe Father Gascoigne had the right idea to gouge his own eyes out..."
  • Cat Fight: The Slayer of Demons and Garl Vinland routinely have these. Yes, they're full-grown men. Yes, they're knights.
  • Cats Are Snarkers: Sweet Shalquoir.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Solaire, of course! He's prone to randomly praising the sun even at midnight!
  • Canis Major: Great Grey Wolf Sif.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: Shows up in Chapter 4.
  • Deadpan Snarker: CIARAN. Eileen has her moments, too. Artorias notes how similar the two are.
    Artorias: (after Eileen has just made a snarky comment) "I think I see thy self fifty years into the future, Ciaran!"
    Ciaran: "... Shut up, Arty."
  • Drop The Hammer: Garl Vinland still kicks ass with his giant hammer.
  • Dynamic Entry: Djura and Poochie the Cathedral Giant arrive just in time to save Eileen by smashing through a wall.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Manushandradorah, the robot demon of the Abyss!
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Hunter, the Chosen Undead, the Bearer of the Curse, the Slayer of Demons... An interesting case regarding the Doll— everyone else calls her "The Doll", except for the Hunter, who calls her by her real name, "Evetta".
  • Everyone Can See It: It's painfully obvious that the Chosen Undead and Rhea have a thing for each other. Even Garl Vinland, who they've just met, points this out!
  • False Teeth Tomfoolery: At one point, while having dinner, Gehrman drops his dentures in the sukiyaki pot. The other vacationers are absolutely horrified.
  • Fanservice: Comes with the territory.
  • Gentle Giant: Artorias stands at nine feet tall and is quite muscular to boot, but he's overall a kind and down-to-earth person.
  • Genre Shift: Starts as a typical, lighthearted Hot Springs Episode and later turns into a GIANT ROBOT ANIME halfway through.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: The Hunter gains these when he channels his Great One power. It later extends to the rest of the gang when he shares his power with them, too.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Solaire!
  • The Heart: SOLAIRE!
  • Henpecked Husband: The Bearer of the Curse has to constantly deal with the Emerald Herald's nagging and at one point is forced to sleep on the floor without any pillows or blankets. As the Slayer of Demons points out, not even Shalquoir sleeps on the floor!
  • Here We Go Again!: At the end of the story, six months later, it turns out the Doll has won another raffle and now the gang are going to spend the New Year at a ski lodge... IN SKYRIM!
  • Heroic BSoD: The Hunter suffers through one when he thinks that Soulsborneon has been defeated by Manushandradorah and he and his friends are going to die in space.
  • Hot-Blooded: The Hunter becomes this if he feels his friends are being threatened in any way. Even more so once he taps into his Great One power near the end of the story.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: Featured quite prominently and Played for Laughs in Chapter 4.
    • The Grunting Orgasm: Also appears in this chapter, only it sounds less like "grunting" and more like "being corrupted by the Abyss".
  • Interrupted Intimacy: The Hunter and the Doll experience this in the chapter of the same name, thanks to the above tropes.
  • Japanese Honorifics: Show up sporadically throughout the fic. There's the inn's hostess, Amagi-san. Then there's "Chosen Undead-kun" and "Poochie-kun".
  • Large Ham: Gehrman. The Slayer of Demons occasionally slips into this when he's bullying Garl.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Happens often, courtesy of Ciaran.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Garl, true to his unhelmed appearance in the Demon's Souls strategy guide. The Slayer of Demons pokes fun at him for this.
  • Moment Killer: Just when it looks like the Chosen Undead and Rhea are about to have their Relationship Upgrade, Solaire completely ruins it by blasting Van Halen on his boombox.
  • Mystical White Hair: The Doll.
  • No Indoor Voice: Two-thirds of Gehrman's dialogue consists of him screaming at the top of his lungs. Djura wonders if it's because he forgot to take his meds that day. Eileen even calls him out on his behavior a couple of times and threatens to murder him for it.
  • Not So Above It All: Despite being a literal saint, Maiden Astraea isn't above getting a kick out of playing Cards Against Humanity. Garl is horrified when he finds out about this.
  • Official Couple: Several.
  • Only Sane Man: Djura, while still a bit eccentric, is the most grounded of the three senior citizens.
  • The Peeping Tom: The Slayer of Demons is the one to suggest that he and the other guys take a peek at the girls in the hotsprings.
  • Product Placement: GREEN TEA KIT-KATS!
  • Rambling Old Man Monologue: Gehrman is prone to this.
  • Recycled In Space: The story is pretty much the Hot Springs Episode from Gurren Lagann in a Soulsborne flavor.
  • Retired Badass: Again, Gehrman, Eileen and Djura.
  • The Reveal: There is a Humongous Mecha hidden under the inn and the ten vouchers the inn gave to the gang are actually the keys needed to pilot it!
  • The Rival: Garl Vinland is this to the Slayer of Demons, though the latter is the immature one and is usually the one to provoke the former. And usually for petty reasons, too, like his long hair.
  • Ryokan Inn: Naturally, the gang stays in one. The last three chapters of the sequel take place in the same inn, and it's where Garl plans to propose to Astraea. This particular inn has several guest facilities that feature in the story, such as:
    • A sushi bar, where Shalquoir spends about 90% of the story gorging on fish.
    • A souvenir shop, where the Bearer of the Curse and the Emerald Herald spend hours bickering over Green Tea Kitkats. It's also where Solaire and Rhea get their new swimsuits.
    • A koi pond, where the Slayer of Demons and Garl Vinland have their first Cat Fight.
    • A rock garden, where Solaire, Rhea and the Chosen Undead run into Maiden Astraea and Garl Vinland.
    • A large dining hall where the gang meet together for meals.
    • A bingo hall, which Amagi-san uses to appease the oldtimers and stop them (more specifically, Gehrman) from making a ruckus.
    • And of course, the titular hotsprings.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm A Senior!: Again, Gehrman. Eileen and Djura are understandably embarrassed by his behavior.
  • Serious Business: DO NOT mess with the senior citizens when they're playing Bingo.
  • Shipper on Deck: Solaire for the Chosen Undead/Rhea. The Slayer of Demons is one to a lesser extent as well.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Amagi-san, the inn's hostess, is named after Yukiko Amagi from Persona 4, whose family also runs an inn.
    • Ciaran says Mitsuru's "execution" line in the hotsprings.
    • Poochie the Cathedral Giant is pretty much a Titan from Attack on Titan and even has an Armored Titan mode!
    • Cards Against Humanity is prominently featured in Chapter 3.
    • There are several references to the popular "Dark Souls: In Summary" animation, such as Solaire being a Van Halen fanboy. He even plays "Why Can't This Be Love?" at one point.
    • Soulsborneon being piloted in pairs is similar to the Jaegers from Pacific Rim.
    • The entire final battle is one long, unabashed love letter to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and even features the Catchphrase!
    • When the gang are watching a lights show in the sky, Solaire remarks that the song "Dreams" by Van Halen would be perfect for the scene, referring to the final scene from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie.
  • Shrinking Violet: Rhea of Thorolund. She's also Moe.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: It turns out Rhea and the Chosen Undead are this.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Rhea and Astraea are cousins who look nearly identical (save for different eye and hair colors) and dress similarly. When he first sees her, Solaire mistakes Astraea for Rhea's doppelgänger. Not so much in the sequel, since Rhea grows her hair out and keeps her hood down.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Manushandradorah only speaks during the finale, right before it activates its last Abyss Blast attack and tries to self-destruct to bring down Soulsborneon.
  • Statuesque Stunner: The Doll, naturally.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Happens during the climax, when the Hunter uses his Great One power while Libera me From Hell plays in the background.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The Hunter, once he snaps out of his Heroic BSoD and later channels his latent Great One power to destroy Manushandradorah.
    • Solaire too, when he activates their mecha's Soul Sunlight Cannon and deals a considerable amount of damage to the enemy.
  • True Companions: The main gang are this, but special mention goes to the Hunter, Doll, Artorias and Ciaran, who've known each other since college and even live in the same apartment building.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: The Chosen Undead and Rhea of Thorolund have loads of this.
  • When Elders Attack: Chapter 2 is appropriately named, "Revenge of the Elderly".
    • In Chapter 4, the senior citizens' Bingo game turns into a free-for-all geriatric Battle Royale!
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The location of the setting is never outright revealed, and the closest we get is Ciaran lampshading the fact that she and her friends are "ambiguously living in Japan".
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Both Artorias and the Maiden in Black speak in this manner, but can easily switch from this to normal, colloquial English.

     Tropes from Slice of Souls! 
  • A Day in the Limelight: Each chapter stars a different character or group of characters dealing with a certain scenario. For instance, the main focus of chapter 1 is the Hunter (with Artorias, the Chosen Undead and Solaire as support), chapter 2 focuses in Solaire and Maria, etc. This setup helps flesh out some of the characters who were left Out of Focus in the first story.
  • Adorkable: The Chosen Undead and Rhea's interactions, particularly in the beginning of chapter 4 when the former is sick and the latter is taking care of him.
  • Amicable Exes: It's mentioned that Solaire has managed to stay good friends with all his exes and was even able to hook up an ex-girlfriend with an ex-boyfriend.
  • Battle of the Bands: The first chapter, "The Sunbros" has the Hunter, Artorias, the Chosen Undead and Solaire form a band in order to participate in one of these.
  • Binge Montage: The party scene in chapter 7. All the teenagers are ridiculously drunk and completely trash the house in the process. There's even an inflatable pool filled with booze.
  • Birds of a Feather: Solaire and Lady Maria. The chapter where they become friends is appropriately named after the trope.
  • Call-Forward: The final chapter mentions the Chosen Undead's older sister Anri. She becomes a main character later on in the series.
  • The Cameo: In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment in chapter 7, Petrus and Lautrec appear as two shady high-schoolers whom Ciaran follows to the party she plans to crash. In a drunken frenzy, Petrus ends up breaking the pool table by jumping onto it while Lautrec takes a shit on the computer.
  • Camping Episode: Chapter 5, "Ornstein vs. Wild". Ornstein and his daughter have to survive in the woods after getting separated from Artorias and Ciaran.
    • Chapter 7 briefly features this, with Ciaran having 36 hours to survive and make her way out of a forest (actually a Secret Test of Character by her parents after Ciaran crashes a wild party for high schoolers and goes overboard on the booze.)
  • Daddy's Girl: Zoe to Ornstein. Also Ciaran to her dads.
  • Deadly Hug: Played for Laughs when Solaire thinks Maria is about to pull out Rakuyo and stab him in the chest when she gives him a hug (a reference to Maria's visceral attack animation in the game). Solaire promptly breathes a sigh of relief when it turns out to be really just a hug. And then he freaks out again when Maria kisses him.
  • Defector from Decadence: Maria is from the Cainhurst Clan, but ran away from her family when she was sixteen and is adamant that she is no longer affiliated with them.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Lady Maria over the course of the story. Also, Shanalotte to the Bearer of the Curse.
  • Delinquent: Ciaran used to be one. Chapter 7 has her reminisce about her teenage years and how she eventually straightened out.
  • Determinator: Everyone in the gang technically qualifies, though a few have their own special moments of this: the Hunter in chapter 1, the Chosen Undead in chapter 4, Ornstein in chapter 5, and Ciaran in chapter 7.
  • Dirty Old Man: Gehrman. His creepiness and senility is played up more this time around.
  • Dream Team: Chapter 4 has the Chosen Undead team up with Sans and Papyrus from Undertale to save Rhea.
  • Duet Bonding: Solaire and Maria have an impromptu jazz piano and drums jam session at the music store when they first hang out. Things only get better from there.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The Fire Keeper from Dark Souls III shows up in the last two chapters alongside Ludleth and the Lords of Cinder. She becomes a main character and part of the gang later on.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: The Slayer of Demons and Garl Vinland have become this. They no longer actively try to kill each other, hang out frequently and get along great. Though the Slayer still likes to make fun of Garl every now and then.
  • Fish out of Water: Lady Maria is this at first, when the Doll convinces her to hang out with the gang. She specifically says she feels like "an outsider, an intruder, even". Solaire takes it upon himself to become her friend and make her feel welcome.
  • Given Name Reveal:
    • The Chosen Undead is named Marcus, after Epic Name Bro.
    • The Bearer of the Curse is named Brendan.
    • The Slayer of Demons is named Lucian.
    • The Maiden in Black is named Circe.
  • Great Balls of Fire!: The Slayer of Demons wants to join the Hunter's band but doesn't know how to sing or play any instruments, so he just handles the pyrotechnics instead. The Bearer of the Curse controls the fog machine.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Gehrman is this to Solaire, resenting him for "stealing" Maria from him as well as being "young and fit and good-looking with a nice body". Both Maria and Alfred agree on that last statement, much to Solaire's embarrassment.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Ciaran used to be one. At age fifteen.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: Maria insists that she and Solaire are Just Friends after Gehrman starts to freak out at seeing them together. Gehrman doesn't buy it, which leads to Maria trolling him by saying she and Solaire already had "sessions" together. Maria's actually talking about piano and drums jam sessions, not sex.
  • I Just Want to Be You: Alfred towards Solaire. He copies several of Solaire's mannerisms and his trademark laugh. Maria is thoroughly creeped out by this.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Maria's backstory. She mentions having distant parents and relatives, only having the maids and butlers for company, and virtually having no friends when she was growing up at Castle Cainhurst. Turns out Solaire used to have a similar background, and that signals the point where the two really start to bond.
  • Lost Wedding Ring: In chapter 8, Garl loses the engagement ring he plans to give to Astraea in the lake near the Amagi Inn and Hotsprings. It gets swallowed by a hydra.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Artorias and Ciaran. They often end up missing during group outings, apparently having run off to the nearest bathroom for some quick fun. Most of the gang just takes it in stride, but Rhea is absolutely mortified.
  • The Masochism Tango: The Bearer of the Curse and the Emerald Herald's marriage is so dysfunctional that even Shalquoir calls them out on it. At one point the Bearer of the Curse almost gets hit in the face by flying pots and pans in the kitchen when the Emerald Herald is having a tantrum over a broken dishwasher.note  Shalquoir decides to intervene by signing them up for a couples yoga class. Towards the end of the same chapter, though, the two finally address the root of their relationship problems and the Emerald Herald admits that she doesn't hate the Bearer of the Curse— she just has a lot of emotional baggage left over and she's thankful that he still stays with her despite everything. From that point on, the two actively make an effort to fix their marriage and in the later chapters, they start to act more like a couple again.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It's implied the Slayer of Demons' Ashen Estus Flask caused the Chosen Undead to have hallucinations about teaming up with Sans and Papyrus... And then he and Rhea receive a plate of spaghetti and a note from Sans thanking him for helping him and Papyrus save Gaster.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: When the Hunter, Artorias, the Chosen Undead and Solaire form a rock band, Artorias becomes the bassist and is hilariously bad at it.
  • Papa Wolf: Ornstein is this towards his daughter Zoe. He even single-handedly kills a bear demon to protect her.
  • Post-Kiss Catatonia: A downplayed example, but Solaire was clearly unprepared for that kiss Maria gave him.
  • Ship Tease: Quite a bit between Solaire and Maria despite the fact that they both insist they're Just Friends. It doesn't help that they act openly affectionate with each other, live in the same apartment, and have even kissed.
  • Shout-Out: Several, just like in the first story.
    • More references to Persona3 pop up this time around, with mentions of the gang going to Chagall Café and Wakatsu Japanese Restaurant. In chapter 3, the yoga instructors are also named Kaz and Yuko, after the Chariot and Strength social links in the game.
    • There are also many references to Persona4 and at one point the Slayer of Demons sings the Junes Department Store jingle.
    • Solaire takes jazz drumming very seriously and his hands even bleed when he goes overboard on practicing, just like in Whiplash. Solaire actually mentions the film by name, and claims his hands got injured because he got "too inspired". He also reenacts the famous "Caravan" drum solo from the film's final scene.
    • Several references to Undertale, with the fourth chapter being a special crossover featuring Sans and Papyrus, who are on a mission to rescue their father, W.D. Gaster from Seath the Scaleless.
    • Chapter 5, "Ornstein vs. Wild" is a shout-out to Man Vs Wild. Ornstein makes several remarks about how the stuff that "Bear" guy does on TV are unrealistic and unsanitary.
    • The drunken party scene in "Ciaran the Delinquent" plays out exactly the same as the party from John Mulaney's standup comedy routine, "The One Thing You Can't Replace".
    • In the final chapter, when Garl uses his hammer like a pickaxe to climb up the giant hydra, the Slayer of Demons tells him, "Now's not the time to channel Nathan Drake!"
    • The Slayer of Demons mentions Firewatch when the Bearer of the Curse's Wedding Ring Removal is Played for Laughs.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Happens again, this time with Ludwig as he's fighting the lake hydra.
  • Time Skip: Slice of Souls! takes place a few months after the events of the first story and starts in late autumn, whereas Hotspring Souls! took place in early summer. Several events from the first story are mentioned, which results in a bit of First-Episode Spoiler, such as the Slayer of Demons and Garl Vinland now being friends, and the Chosen Undead and Rhea being a couple.
  • Training from Hell: Ciaran's dads put her through this when she was a teenager to help her fix her rage and abandonment issues as well as kick her booze and drug habits.
    • Artorias also went through this when he became Ciaran's apprentice.
  • Up To Eleven: Garl's marriage proposal is this. It starts out as a romantic serenade, then escalates into a full-on war against the giant lake hydra with the entire gang and Eileen, Djura and Ludwig pitching in!
  • Welcome Episode: Chapter 2 starts with Lady Maria being introduced to the gang.
  • "Well Done, Dad!" Guy: Ornstein to his daughter Zoe. The reason he takes her hiking on her birthday is because he feels he's been neglectful and wants to impress her. Ironically, Ornstein is actually a pretty capable father and most of his insecurities are because of Smough taunting him.
  • Yandere / Self-Proclaimed Love Interest: Gehrman and Alfred for Maria and Solaire, respectively.