The form it may take is not always the same,
For each person beholds the world in their own way.
Their ideals are the stars that brighten the night.
They are the points that connect what is to what might be.
And only through perseverance do far-off dreams become reality,
So that the beauty of growth may be beheld by those near to it.
—>— Igor, Master of the Velvet Room, in the What If? chapter where Lydia falls in battle
In the Eye of the Beholder is a Shin Megami Tensei: Persona fanfic that, unlike the games, takes place in the Western world, in particular the United States. HopeGale, the author, was inspired by learning about the infamous English localization of the original Persona for the PlayStation, which changed the setting to the United States among other differences, and decided to try writing a Persona fic taking place in the United States, but built from the ground up to take advantage of the different setting compared to Japan.
Lydia White is new to the small city of Quartz, Texas, having had to move there due to her dad's new job. When people start disappearing into the nearby woods, the ones that come back have an insatiable need to stare at their own reflection, referred to as "Narcissus Syndrome". After awakening to the power of the Wild Card and being granted a Persona, Lydia and her group of Persona users, the Quartz Idol Busters or QIB, delve into the mystery posed by the woods and Narcissus Syndrome.
The fic is still currently ongoing, and can be read on FF.Net.
There's also a supplemental fic titled All the Myriad Ways.
- A Storm Is Coming:
- As the QIB prepares to leave the mirror world following their defeat of the boss Shadow inside Nori's Idol's Nest, F.Z. stops them to warn that as the quartz valley gets cloudier, the day it finally storms will probably mean their toughest battle yet.
- And boy does HopeGale deliver. The fight against F.Z.'s Idol starts by an instant knockout of Lydia, disabling the team's resistance to Earth, and a Masukunda (lower opponent's agility) and it took numerous hits to her Electric weakness to knock her down. And they had to do it twice.
- Arc Words: "Beholder", used to describe Lydia in particular, and present each time she manifests a new Social Link.
- Battle in the Rain: The battle against Idol F.Z. takes place during the rainstorm anticipated ever since their rescue of Nori.
- Boxing Lessons for Superman: Upon learning about Social Links, Lydia decides to go research the different Arcana in order to see what they mean.
- Cat Fight: Amelia's (solo) fight against her Idol. Because she had accepted it earlier, much of the Idol's power goes to Amelia herself. Being an ordinary high school girl with no concept of combat, it's not really much of a fight.
- Curb-Stomp Battle:
- The first time the QIB and Sycophanta meet, the former are soundly defeated.
- As a result of the valley overloading Amelia's Idol in a gambit to make QIB give up on rescuing the next victim, Mark's is surprisingly easier. The valley had been counting on the QIB fearing that Mark's Idol would be obscenely strong just like Amelia's was, but this gambit ultimately failed.
- Dishing Out Dirt: Medusa, Allie's Persona, specializes in earth spells like Magna.
- Eldritch Location:
- The Mirror World, where Shadows lurk and whole areas made of quartz are created from a person entering, much like the TV World in Persona 4. For instance, Allie's takes the form of a rave warehouse, while Damien's takes the form of a massive quartz skyscraper.
- The Velvet Room in this incarnation takes the form of a dressing room, which Victor calls the Velvet Dressing Room.
- Enemy Within:
- Idols, which are a type of Shadow formed from a person's distorted view of who they wish they could be. Unlike the Shadow Selves in Persona 4, the incorrect thing to do (though Sycophanta believes otherwise) is to accept them as they are (akin to how things went for Kanamin Kitchen in Persona 4: Dancing All Night), but instead to defeat them and convince them of the rightness of the person's chosen path.
- The quartz valley can also produce more traditional Shadow Selves via leftover Idol Nests, but it takes time and the QIB destroys the Shadows before they can fully form.
- Endless Daytime: The mirror world is almost always perpetually sunny no matter the time of day outside when Lydia and Allie first arrive, but as more and more people enter the mirror world over the course of the story, the sky gets progressively cloudier, and the Shadows get stronger and more dangerous.
- Equivalent Exchange: Victor explains to Lydia that the reason why she has to pay to enchant clothing in the Velvet Room, despite he and Igor having no use for money besides the novelty factor, is because of the symbolic exchange of something of value in order to get something else of equal value.
- Everything Is Big in Texas: The story takes place in Texas and just about everyone apart from the Velvet Room denizens are from Texas, which reflects in more than half of the QIB being of Hispanic descent and high school football being very popular.
- Friendly Enemy: Despite the fact that the QIB and Sycophanta are directly opposed to one another, Lydia and Lynne have what amounts to a rudimentary friendship, the latter even being her Hunger Social Link.
- Gender Flip: Unlike Kotone Shiomi for Makoto Yuki, Alexander isn't this for Lydia. For one, while Lydia's family isn't religious, Alexander's do attend church, though seemingly out of obligation than faith.
- Genius Loci: The quartz valley appears to be alive, and actively malevolent as it seems to side with Sycophanta, though the Shadows still attack them all the same.
- Hopeless Boss Fight:
- From a video game perspective, the QIB vs. Idol Amelia is supposed to be this, with the author stating she could be beatable with lots of grinding or a New Game+.
- The same is also implied for Sycophanta, as the New Game+ version of the fight has Lydia defeat Lynne and Corbin in their first meeting with Charybdis, the most powerful Persona of an unrevealed Arcana.
- Interquel: The story takes place between Persona 4 and 5.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: After their humiliating defeat at the hands of Idol Amelia, upon seeing Mark vanish into the Mirror World and Amelia and Lynne going after her, Lydia decides to cede the victory to them for the time being. Turns out the valley was counting on this, and the QIB manage to find this out after F.Z. and Amelia tell her about the latter's Persona awakening..
- The Lost Lenore: Alexander Melvin Black for Lydia. They used to date, until something happened in the titular Crystal Rapids that resulted in his death as he saved her. In the What If? that stars him, the roles are reversed.
- Making a Splash: Ophelia, Lydia's Initial Persona, uses water spells. Also a case of Irony, given Ophelia's fate.
- Magic Mirror:
- Staring through mirrors in Quartz for long enough has a chance of getting a person transported to the quartz valley, where Shadows lurk.
- Rather than Evokers, tarot cards, or masks, the QIB's Personas are summoned via compact mirrors themed after them when not in use, which combust into blue flame to summon them forth. Sycophanta, on the other hand, has red flames. Also, they can be used in the real world, though it does take a lot more effort to summon and maintain one there.
- Meaningful Name: In-universe Quartz gets its name from the large amount of quartz deposits in the area.
- Mirror Boss: Idol Amelia vs. Amelia herself. Due to how normal her skills are, it comes out as more of a Cat Fight.
- Original Character: Save for Igor, every character in In the Eye of the Beholder is an original creation of HopeGale's.
- Portal Cut: After Lydia crosses into the quartz valley in Damien's house, her teammates discuss this trope regarding F.Z.'s portals.
- Sadistic Choice: When Jacob ends up pulled into the valley, the QIB ends up having to choose between two dungeons; the museum (Jacob), or the cave of another victim (Rory) that sprouted at the same time. After a lengthy debate, they decide to choose the former, partly because a cavern collapse could trap them, and because F.Z. still has memories of being Buried Alive by her Idol. Sycophanta ends up recruiting the one they didn't choose, and likely helped Rory to accepting his Idol in the first place.
- The New '10s: In the Eye of the Beholder takes place in 2015, about three years after Persona 4, and one year before Persona 5, which wasn't released at the time of this fic's conception.
- Unexpected Gameplay Change: If this fanfic were a video game, the battle against Nathan's Idol would be this; rather than a straight up battle like with Allie's and Damien's Idols, the QIB and Nathan are forced to play a football game, with the girls stuck at the sidelines and Damien in the field with Nathan and his berserk Idol.
- Vendor Trash: The Shadows leave behind quartz bits upon defeat that Lydia sells in the Velvet Room for large amounts of cash to share amongst the group, which they spend on things including but not limited to clothing enchantments for everyone from the Velvet Room (Lydia), paying for art supplies (Jacob), and spending hundreds on convention merch (Damien and Allie). It's even lampshaded that their parents don't really ask where all their extra disposable income is coming from, though Lydia does insist that they refrain from spending too much at once in the real world lest people get suspicious.
- Was Once a Man: There are implications that this applies to Victor.
- Wham Episode: Chapter 69. F.Z's Idol goes over F.Z.'s backstory, revealing her true name and how she's been taking over her life, before also revealing that she's both an Idol and a Shadow Self and that she's capable of using a Reverse Persona.
- What If?:
- A few chapters following a battle with an Idol or Sycophanta have an alternate scenario where things didn't quite go the same way, ranging from a New Game+ version of the same fight to outright Bad Endings with a Total Party Kill.
- The entirety of All the Myriad Ways is dedicated to the concept of what-ifs scenarios, such as Alexander taking Lydia's place.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Quartz, TX is said to be located somewhere between Houston and Galveston, with part of the QIB visiting Houston at one point to attend a con. It's later specified that Quartz is approximately where League City, TX is in the real world, which is equidistant between Houston and Galveston.
- Writing Around Trademarks:
- Lydia watches things on Zulu, and some shows include Agents of S.W.O.R.D. and Better Call Paul.
- Sometime after Jacob's rescue by the QIB and Rory's recruitment to Sycophanta, Raging Motors Heptagonis is mentioned and includes an actor who died mid-prodcution after which the film became a memorial for him.
- Year Inside, Hour Outside: Time appears to pass quicker in the mirror world than outside it. For instance, after defeating Damien's Idol and returning to the real world, the QIB finds that only 15 minutes passed outside since they entered, despite it feeling like at least an hour for them inside. It is however, a bit inconsistent, ranging from less than half to more then 3 times as long.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Lydia and Blair (an acquaintance met in the FantasyFlare convention) discuss this when the former wanted to ask about the latter's natural red eyes. They reference colors of other Persona characters like navy blue (Naoto), silver (Yu), teal (Fuuka), and salmon pink.