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Fanfic / Catalyst Verse

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When King Harold of Thornhill issues a call for adventurers to slay the dragon Samaritan, former guild assassin Shaw and her partner Cole set off in quest of profit and glory (but mainly profit). Along the way, they encounter a mysterious woman named Veronica who claims she wants to help. Then again, she also claims that the spirit of a long-dead dragon talks to her inside her head. Thus begins a journey that will change their lives forever...

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Basically, it's Root and Shaw in a Standard Fantasy Setting.

Written by nerdgirlwalking, the series currently consists of four parts and can be found here.


Catalyst Verse contains examples of:

  • Alchemy Is Magic: Since computers aren't a thing that exists in this universe, Root's main hobby is alchemy rather than hacking. She spends a lot of time in her lab brewing strange and powerful potions, most notably a type of grenade that's like a bottled-up lightning storm.
  • Alternate Universe Fic
  • Badass Bookworm: Root, who is often surrounded by books and who is Root. Shaw gets her a book as a present at the end of The Catalyst's Tale.
  • Badass Gay: Root and Shaw are just as queer as in canon and arguably even more badass.
  • Battle Couple: Root and Shaw. They bond in the course of fighting a dragon together, and their bedroom contains a selection of knives, swords, and alchemical grenades, none of which are there for show.
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  • Bears Are Bad News: The reason a bunch of villagers have gone missing in The Demon of Turing turns out to be large, demonic bears.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Omnipresent between Root and Shaw in The Catalyst's Tale, channeling "Mors Praematura". Lampshaded by Cole when talking to others about them:
    Cole: You’ll get used to the whole close talking, violent flirtation thing.
  • Demonic Possession: It's actually "Benevolent Dragon Possession" but, anyway, with Root severely weakened by torture, her dragon god takes control of her body in order to walk her to a place of safety and healing. When Shaw arrives, She has a conversation with her before departing.
  • Big Bad: King Greer, even moreso than Samaritan.
  • Blood Magic: Root uses some after Control tortures her, killing all of Control's guards instantly and letting her escape. Ironically, the blood she uses is that which dripped from her ear during Control's stapedectomy.
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  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Control gives Root the same treatment she gave her in "Aletheia". Except there aren't any scalpels in this universe, so she uses a regular knife instead, which results in Root having a jagged scar instead of a clean, straight one.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Root and Shaw each keep knives stashed in their bed, and the two of them have a pre-arranged plan for what to do if a team of assassins breaks into their house and tries to kill them. Their preparedness serves them well in The Princess and the Assassin.
  • Dragons Prefer Princesses: The dragon spirit who watches over the Thornhill royal family is far more attached to Princess Root than anyone else. She's never even spoken to King Harold.
  • Druids: The Tree People clan, who collect relics, worship the old gods, and don't like others interfering in their business.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Root and Gen are both nieces of King Harold and thus princesses.
  • Flirting Under Fire: To be expected with Root and Shaw. Lampshaded in The Princess and the Assassin:
    Gen: Are you two seriously flirting while people are trying to kill us?
    Root: Flirting while in mortal peril is the basis of our entire relationship.
  • Forbidden Fruit: Subverted when Root warns Shaw and Cole not to eat any of the food in the Goblin Market. Despite not fully trusting her, they heed her advice, and nothing bad happens to them.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: In The Princess and the Assassin, Shaw is set upon by a team of assassins while in bed and has to fight a couple of them before getting the chance to get dressed. When Root finds out about this, she's less annoyed about the assassination attempt than about how the assassins got to see Shaw in the nude. Shaw points out her Skewed Priorities.
  • Intimate Healing: When Root wakes up after Control's torture, she's amazed to find herself being cuddled by Shaw in a hot spring. Shaw explains that she's merely sharing body heat.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: After Root is taken by Control, Shaw inflicts this on one of men who attacked them, including cutting off one of his hands.
  • The Kingslayer: Root has assassinated a number of people, but she's most infamous for killing the previous king of Thornhill. She didn't, at least not intentionally. He died of shock upon seeing her, apparently thinking she was the vengeful spirit of her dead mother.
  • The Lady's Favour: Root invokes this during a jousting tournament, tying a piece of cloth around Shaw's wrist. Said cloth turns out to be Root's underwear. Shaw appreciates the ramifications of this gesture more than the gesture itself.
  • Last-Name Basis: Shaw and Cole, despite having known each other for most of their lives - partly because Shaw has never told Cole or anyone else what her first name is. (Root knows what it is, though, because god told her, and she doesn't hesitate to use it.) note 
  • Loophole Abuse: The reward for killing Samaritan is 50,000 gold, the hand of a princess in marriage, and an additional favor of the person's choice. Shaw plans to ask for the favor of not having to marry any princesses, leaving her with just the gold. Things don't go according to plan.
  • The Nameless: The ancient dragon spirit who speaks to Root - the story's equivalent of the Machine - doesn't seem to have a name. Root and Shaw call her "God" or "your god" or "She". A history book calls her "the elder dragon".
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Shaw starts showing signs of this in The Princess and the Assassin, walking barefoot through snow without getting frostbitten and painlessly grabbing a glowing-hot iron with her bare hand. Presumably some form of divine protection is at play; the leader of the Tree People describes her as "marked".
  • Noble Wolf: Bear is one of these in this universe instead of the Heroic Dog that he is in canon.
  • The Noun and the Noun: The title of part 4, The Princess and the Assassin, referring to Root and Shaw, respectively, although neither description is how people in-universe generally know them; most would describe them as "The Assassin and the Dragon Slayer".
  • Only the Worthy May Pass: The leader of the Tree People says that the Wailing Caverns are off-limits except to those who've been "chosen" or "marked" by the gods. Root and Shaw (and Bear) are allowed in, Carter and Reese are not.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Dragons are stand-ins for the artificial superintelligences of canon. They are few in number but ancient and powerful; even their ashes can be used to fuel magic.
  • Our Spirits Are Different: The series' equivalent of the Machine is the spirit of a long-dead dragon. She doesn't seem to have any visible form, but She speaks to Root telepathically and can take control of her body if necessary.
  • Really Royalty Reveal: Root is revealed to be a princess at the end of The Catalyst's Tale.
  • Red Baron: After the events of The Catalyst's Tale, Shaw earns the nicknames Dragon Slayer and The Champion of Thornhill. The respect these titles earn her serves her well in subsequent stories.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Root is Harold's niece, and Gen is her sister.
  • Sex Is Violence: Shaw challenges Root to some sparring in order to test her combat proficiency. When Cole comes across them an hour later, they're lying on top of each other and breathing heavily. Awkwardness ensues.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Despite having lived with Root for years and been engaged to her for just as long, Shaw opts for the word "friend" when talking to the leader of the Tree People about her. The leader of the Tree People goes along with this until the end of their conversation, when she casually substitutes the word "lover" instead.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Root is a regular at the Goblin Market, where her friend Daizo has a store. One of the author's notes acknowledges "crib[bing] a bit from Christina Rossetti."
    • Root performs a Neo-style limbo dodge to avoid Samaritan's tail. This is the exact moment Shaw decides to sleep with her.
    • Root remarks in The Demon of Turing that she loves it when a plan comes together.
    • Root describes God's voice as being like "a blade of grass caught in the wind on a sunny afternoon.” Shaw later misquotes her and calls it "her leaf on the wind voice."
  • Slash Fic
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Cole, who is presumed dead after a Heroic Sacrifice but who is revealed at the end of The Catalyst's Tale to be alive and mostly well. Also Root, Carter, Reese and pretty much any good-aligned character who wasn't spared in canon.
  • Spirit Advisor: The dragon spirit who talks to Root telepathically. No one else can communicate with Her except via Root (directly or indirectly).
  • Standard Hero Reward: Part of the reward on offer for killing Samaritan. Shaw accepts the quest for the "massive amounts of gold" part of the offer and would rather dispense with the princesses altogether. The princess in question turns out to be Root, and the two do get engaged. Three years later, they're living together...and still engaged.
  • The Tourney: The Champion of Thornhill revolves around one of these.
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