Knights and Swords
It was time.
In his heart of hearts, weighing heavy from the thought, he knew this to be true as he stared at the blue clad back of the woman, the knight, the King, who had changed him so much since he had known her.
The King of Heroes, the Oldest King, and Archer of the Fourth Holy Grail War, was slain, his incarnation on earth returned to the dust from which it had been spun. He had been a powerful adversary, knowing no equal on the earth when he had been alive, save for one. This hadn't changed when he had ascended to the Throne, being the first to do so and becoming a legend from which all heroes in the ages that followed patterned themselves after.
Yet for all that, or perhaps because of that, due to the arrogance it bred within his soul, he had fallen. To the blade of the King of Knights.
Kotomine Kirei, Priest, Exorcist, Supervisor of the Fifth Holy Grail War, an empty man who lived only to see the sufferings of others, was also slain. While not as powerful as Gilgamesh, indeed Shirou wondered who was, he had still been an opponent, an enemy. The skills he had shown, a mastery of martial arts par excellence, use of the Black Keys of the Church (and those were a hassle and a half to deal with.), excellent skills at physical reinforcement of his already trained and powerful body boosting his already dangerous skills, and a physical connection to the heart of the corrupted Grail, allowing him to summon forth the cursed mud.
Shirou shivered. Even if he had managed to emerge from the boiling darkness of hatred and rage, he still had memories of what it contained, the feelings and emotions it carried as it tried to dissolve him into the collective pool of absolute evil. The pain, physically, mentally, spiritually, was beyond belief and not something he ever wanted to encounter again.
But, despite the advantages the priest had, he too had fallen. By the hand of Shirou Emiya, third-rate magus, adopted son of Kiritsugu Emiya and Master of Saber.
He glanced down at his side, trying to distract himself from a decision he knew he would have to make. He saw the sleeping form a small girl, her red eyes closed and her white hair, like pure snow, being used as her pillow on the grass.
If there was at least one good thing that came of this whole War, corrupted and fake as it was, it would be meeting this young girl, a legacy he hadn't known about from his father. Despite her looks of a preteen, the girl was surprisingly older than his sixteen years, a mark of her being what she was, what the Einzbern's had created her to be.
At least, now that she knew the truth, and he did as well, the shackles on her mind crafted by that family had fallen away, letting her taste the fruit of freedom for the first time in her life. Even with her actions toward him at the beginning and the pain they had both caused each other during the War, he couldn't help, but think fondly of Illyasveil von Einzbern.
Though that fondness was tempered by sympathy, and perhaps a bit of pity, for the bitter truth he knew about her. Zouken, monster that he was, had been quite clear on the homunculus' eventual fate, smiling slightly all the while. If all of humanity was like him, then Shirou wouldn't hesitate to become a monster.
"Shirou," a voice spoke, interrupting his wandering musings, drawing him back to reality.
He looked back at the back of the King of Knights, straight and tall (to a point) and proud, the pillar of nobility and strength on which the kingdom is supported, as she stood before him, ready to do her final duty.
A duty that would take her from him.
He clenches his fists, and bites his lips hard enough that he could taste the coppery tang of spilled blood. He desperately wants to say words, words that they both knew he could not allow himself to express, no matter how much he wants to. Not at this time. Not with the final duty she had to perform and the consequences of it.
"Master, please give the order," the one who held his heart said, even as he engraved her figure into his memory, casting his view, his final view, of her within stone in his mind, never wanting to forget her, never allowing himself to forget her, "I cannot destroy it without your order."
She never turned to look back, facing forward and looking up to the floating orb of darkness, the so-called Holy Grail, tainted in darkness to become what it now was. Shirou had conflicting feelings about it.
It was the cause of so much suffering, so much death and destruction and pain, that it was hard not to hate it, to want to destroy it despite the tempting offer of power and fulfillment of dreams thought impossible it gave.
On the other hand, if it had not existed, if the Grail War had not been created...
He would never have met Saber.
Never have fought side by side with her.
Never had laughed with her and shared her sorrows.
Never had seen warmth and humanity rise with those emerald jewels of her eyes.
Never have loved her.
But he knew that there was no place for the Grail in this world, not as it was now, tainted and vile, a mockery of what it should have been, a mere living curse that wanted nothing more than the utter and complete annihilation of everything it touched.
And Saber was the only one who had the strength and power to be able to destroy it completely, never letting it taint the world with it's hatred ever again.
But the Grail was the reason she was here, the reason she had become a Servant in at least two of the Wars. It kept her anchored to this world once she was summoned, supplying her with power that no mere magus could match.
If she destroyed the Grail, Saber would disappear.
No- if she destroyed the tainted vessel, Saber would never be able to become a Servant again.
Obtaining the Grail was her purpose though, the goal for which she had shed blood for, centuries ahead of her original time.
If she destroys the Grail out of her own will, her contract with the world would be broken. And if it was broken...
It would end her life as a King.
"-Shirou. I want to hear you say it." She spoke again.
Her voice. Every time he heard it, he wanted to scream, to yell at her not to go, to not leave him. He wanted to throw away his pride, to keep her at his side.
(Unnoticed to the pair beneath it, the orb of darkness, the tainted Grail, softly began to pulse. A great black heart that hovered above them as it felt the tearing emotions of it's new owner. The one who had already won the prize.)
But, that is something he couldn't do, that he shouldn't do.
He loved Saber, he had no doubt at all about that. He wanted her to be happier than anyone else in the world and to be with her forever.
But if he truly loved her, that was wrong.
He had loved her even as, injured heavily and bleeding out, she had continued to fight and battle.
She had discarded everything that she was, everything that she had been, giving everything and asking nothing back, and continued to protect.
If he found it to be such a beautiful thing, even if it was tinged with sadness, and wanted to protect it...
He could not destroy it just to sate his own selfishness.
Saber was born a King, lived as a King. That would not change. Ever since she had drawn Caliburn from the stone, she had become a King and nothing else. She ran through the battlefields, taking the enemy head on, believing that her path was the true one, the right one, even in her final moments.
These were the dreams of the girl that was Arturia, the girl who had chosen to become King, forsaking her own life, to fight. Even when she knew that, in the end, she would go unrewarded, she had grasped her sword and protected her oath of the King.
It was her pride.
And Shirou would not do anything to dishonour something she had held until her time of death.
(The Grail pulsed stronger, still ignored, feeding off the darkening thoughts.)
"-Saber," he said softly, but firmly, even as he felt his throat begin to close at the strength of the suppressed emotion he had, "Please fulfill your role."
Nothing else was said.
Shirou could feel the last Command Seal slowly begin to burn away, erasing itself from his skin. He didn't pay it any mind. Pain was something he was used to. And that pain was nothing compared to what his heart felt as he watched Saber begin to glow with a bright golden aura, her sword held aloft and shining even brighter.
A pillar of light erupted from around her, winds howling and the forest trembling and shaking before it's might, even as the water of the lake rippled and twisted, as if a storm were in it's depths.
This would be the last time he saw her. In this last magnificent and sad moment.
(The Grail twisted and writhed aloft on it's invisible perch in the sky. It could feel the power of the last Servant, the strength and purity of the golden light.
It could destroy it! Eliminate it from existence!
No! It didn't want that! It refused to do go quietly! But that there was nothing it could do. Only wait for the headsman's axe to fall.)
It was in that moment, as the light was released toward the 'void' in the sky, a beam of holy judgement and power, that he, privately, whispered in his heart, not daring to taint the purity of this moments with spoken words, a single wish.
'I wish we could be together.'
(The Grail was frantic. It's demise swiftly approached. It wanted to survive. It didn't want to die. Out of sheer desperation, out of madness and mania, it sent out a thought to the fickle and unfeeling God, a final plea for aid from it's very anti-thesis.
At that moment, by complete chance, it heard something, something that it could use, something that would let it survive.
'I wish we could be together.'
The boy, it's holder and triumphant bearer, had not spoken aloud, only in the privacy of his mind, but it was able to hear that thought, that hidden desire, due to link he had with it through being the winner of the War, something that was in it's construction so as to understand what wish the winner would make in order to fulfill it.
The boy was the winner, the final one standing with their Servant. The boy had made a wish. It's function was to fulfill wishes of the winner with the power of seven Servants. Six of the current war's Servants were killed, residing within it to empower it. It would normally need for the final master to order their own Servant to kill themselves to initiate the wish fulfillment process.
But Seven Servants had died.
That Golden King, one that escaped it's clutches from the last war, had been killed and was now dwelling within it's darkness.
It had enough power to grant a wish.)
As Shirou watched, the golden light struck the void in the sky, though, for a moment, he thought he saw the darkness shift and expand just before the power of the Sword of Promised Victory struck home, cleaving it in half.
Then it happened.
As the two hemispheres of the void lingered for a moment, golden fire racing along the edges of the cut the beam of power had caused, before they expanded the sky...
And a wave of darkness descended towards them.
Shirou was too shocked to move, too slow to react, as the wave of darkness, filled with a rainbow light within it's depths, engulfed him, seeming to devour him. As he was absorbed in it's cold, slick and oily embrace, he could just see a shocked Saber also being struck and absorbed, swallowed hungrily by the rainbow tinted void.
Then that oily power, so strong and potent, engulfed his head, blinding him...
Then he knew no more.
Angra Mainyu, or at least a manifestation of the being, also known as the Holy Grail, smirked painfully to itself as it engulfed the Master and Servant pair with it's power.
The stupid boy had made a wish, something it could act on in order to prevent it's complete destruction. That wasn't to say it was unharmed, the holy light of that accursed sword was painful beyond belief, but it had survived and would rise again when it's form had healed enough to start a new War.
With the wish fulfillment aspect of itself activated, it was able to take advantage of the power that resided within it, drilling a hole through the barriers of space and time towards the Root of All Existence and drawing on the power that resided there.
It was close, perhaps even too close, but with the wish fulfilled, it could be reborn again, in time.
It 'looked' into the distance, it's senses 'seeing' beyond the mundane and the bounds of reality, to see where he had thrown the pair. The wish had been for the two of them to be together, it hadn't specifically stated where they would be together or how. That had given it a lot of leeway in how to grant it.
Unfortunately, it didn't have the luxury of time, it's own existence was in peril, and had simply scooped them both up and randomly thrown them through the ways between worlds. Many called it Chaos, some called it the Primordial Sea, others stated it was the Egg of the Beginning. There were even a few that called it the Kaleidoscope and at least one mention in an old scroll that called it the 'Dimensional Gap'.
It just called the space 'a big empty place filled with all the colours of the world'.
Whatever it truly was, it was a place that the Master and Servant pair could be 'together'. Together in oblivion that is, as the sheer power within the space between worlds, chaotic and surging, began to crush their souls, erasing them from existence.
It would only be a matter of time. It wondered which of them would last the longest; the Servant, a powerful force and a heavy resistance to magical power? Or the boy, who's very soul was enduring and powerful enough to potentially manifest itself in the world?
In either case, it turned it's 'eyes' toward them, eager to see their painful death...
Only to find that something looked back.
Golden orbs looked at it through the barriers that divided the worlds, looking at it with an intensity that shook it.
The Power! The sheer unadulterated Power contained in those golden eyes! It was leagues above it's own, so high as to be incalculable! What possible being could have that much strength? Was it a God, one that somehow retained it's power from the past Ages?
Those fierce golden orbs, slitted and reptilian, narrowed as they looked at it's tendril of power that had thrown it's victims into the Chaos.
Angra Mainyu tried to pull back, to leave the presence of a being so far above itself as to not be funny. It didn't dare risk angering that being, those golden orbs showed little mercy within them for those that crossed them.
Only to find it couldn't leave, couldn't move it's 'sight' from the Presence. Those golden eyes were locked on it's own, wrapping the power they gave off around it, pinning it in place. Unable to move, unable to leave.
The golden eyes gleamed slightly, as if taking pleasure in the knowledge that it was helpless, like a worm on a hook, before the 'All the Evils of the World' felt power, power beyond it's own, flowing down the link, a golden inferno that consumed it as it went.
No. No. Nononononono!
The golden blaze, unstoppable and unyielding, consumed every part of the demon as it poured forth, time and space and dimension meaning nothing to these bright flames of pure destruction.
It breached the barrier between the Primordial Sea and the World, smashing through it with the sound of shattering glass as the dimensional wall that protected the World, for one brief moment, failed.
And in that single moment, all was laid to waste in a golden sea of fire and power and wrath.
That single moment would go down in history of Fuyuki city as the day of Two Suns. As dawn had arisen, a massive inferno had engulfed Ryuudou Temple, the oddly golden flames destroying it almost impossibly swiftly and completely. Strangely enough, investigations showed that it originated from a cavern below the temple, deep within the heart of the mountain, that the residents of the now ruined temple had been completely unaware of. It was apparent that something in the cavern had exploded, which had simultaneously caused a collapse of the immense cavern and unleashed the golden flames upon the Temple that rested above.
Further reports, upon being gathered by the somewhat bewildered and panicky local police from witnesses within the area, also mentioned a loud sound being heard before the explosion and resulting flames. Those that heard it compared it to a howl of complete anguish and despair, full of fear and hatred.
It was dismissed out of hand.
Thankfully for the local populace, despite the utter devastation of the mysterious golden inferno, there were few casualties or deaths, unlike the Fuyuki Fire a decade previous.
One was a small albino girl, one Illyasveil von Einzbern, who was found near the scene of the explosion, unconscious. She was quickly taken care of and the head of the Tohsaka family, Rin, had taken her in until further notice.
The only confirmed death was that of Kotomine Kirei, priest of the local church. It had looked like someone had set an explosive off in the man's body. No one was sure why the man was there, he was a reclusive man at the best of times, but many mourned his death. Further investigations into the cause, reason and perpetrator of his demise were still ongoing.
The last mysterious event surrounding the whole catastrophe was the disappearance of Shirou Emiya. He had last been seen in the area and, due to his reputation as fix it man for many, was a 'person of interest' to the local police. Unfortunately, there were no leads as to his whereabouts, as if he had vanished from the face of the earth.
All in all, the Two Suns incident was just another mysterious disaster attributed to the city of Fuyuki and it was highly unlikely that anyone would find out the truth of the events surrounding it.
The being with massive golden eyes snorted, his breath stirring the air like a hurricane, as he saw the complete and utter destruction of the one that had dared to stare at him. That would teach the punk.
The being then turned toward the two new occupants of this realm, ones that had dawn his attention as they were thrown by the no-faced punk into this realm like they were disposable trash.
One was a petite blonde haired woman, girl really if you went by physical features, clad in an elaborate blue dress and clenching a sword, a Holy Sword, and one of great power. In fact, he didn't think he had ever seen any Holy Sword rival this one's power except for...
The crimson scaled head paused for a moment, narrowing those reptilian orbs in thought. It couldn't be...could it? What were the chances?
He shook his great muzzle briefly. He would think on that later, he really wanted to know what these two were. He continued his inspection of the girl.
One thing he noticed was that she was a spirit of some variety. A powerful one too. But seemed to be...incomplete. Lacking something. And that lack was making her quickly start to dissipate, becoming mere energy for the realm to absorb.
He couldn't have that, not at the moment anyway, he was still too interested.
With barely a thought, his immense power reached toward the girl, engulfing her in it, creating a transparent golden egg like construct that would both keep her from dissolving into the ether and would help him to investigate the female.
A second thought and he created one around the male figure as well, couldn't have him dying until he got his answers.
He turned back to the woman, shaking out his immense wings briefly as he got comfortable on his four massive legs, readying himself to look deeper in this mystery.
His eyes glowed a bright gold, even as the golden egg around the woman also flared brighter.
Then images struck him, memories of the woman.
A sword in the stone and her hands drawing it forth, swearing to become King to protect her country and giving up humanity.
Battles. Battles unending and unceasing. Blood and gore littering the ground like chaff during the harvest.
A round table, filled with knights, eating and drinking and making merry, even as she, their King, sat removed, a bare smile on her lips at their joviality, the only emotion she allowed herself, the only time when she felt human.
A face, the mirror of her own, twisted in a visage of shock and anger, as she rejected the one who wore her face.
"King Arthur does not understand human emotions." Striking words from one of her own knights. But nonetheless true. As a King, this was needed.
Knights left the castle, leaving her service. She did not shed a single tear on her throne even as they, past friends, left. A King does not have a heart.
The final battle, the worst of them. Brother met brother in a clash of steel and blood. Corpses piled high and the earth turned red. On a hill of swords, the last ones standing fought, a 'father' and his 'son'.
The King, fallen and dying, now lay against a tree, as if in rest, reached out to the world. A contract was made.
A new era, a strange place and a Master colder than ice.
More battles, more war. Steel, death and bloodshed. Nothing seems to change.
"You saved them, but you never led them. You never showed them what a king should be. You abandoned your men when they lost their way. Then, alone and untroubled, you followed your own petty little ideals.
"Thus, you are no true king." Words had never shook her more than those from the red haired giant.
The Grail was in sight, within her grasp.
"By the power of the Command Seal, I order you, Saber, destroy the Holy Grail."
Her scream of anguish as she was forced to destroy the one thing that could have helped her achieve her goals.
Another summoning, a fallen red haired boy, looking up at her in shock and awe.
Side by side they fought, even as she berated him for being foolish, even as, deep within her armoured chest, something pulsed warmly.
By his side, both of them bare of clothing, she slept gently, nightmares for once not touching her sleep.
She glared at the Golden King, knowing he was stronger but facing him anyway. To protect.
She walked past her Master, the one she loved, not daring to look at him, knowing that, if she did, she wouldn't have the strength to do what needed to be done.
A blast of darkness, engulfing and devouring her, even as she turned to protect her Master.
Then true darkness.
Reptilian eyes blinked, drawing him out of the mind and spirit of the one he now knew was a version of King Arthur. That had been a trip and a half. What a rush.
He looked down at the small speck compared to his colossal size. She was definitely interesting, and the boy seemed intriguing as well just by going from the King of Knights memories. He wasn't willing to let such an interesting being disappear, that would be wasteful.
And not as entertaining.
Another surge of his immense power, crossing time and space, and it latched onto the fallen human form of the King of Camelot, and drew her into the Gap (surprising a certain knight with the disappearance as he returned from doing his duty.).
Another thought and surge, and the body was simultaneously healed and merged with the spiritual clone their World Spirit had created for her to battle in those Wars. In effect, he had given the physical body the prowess and strength of her spiritual one, while at the same time giving her the mortal bodies capacity to grow stronger.
He grinned to himself slightly, exposing teeth longer than swords and sharper than any mortal blade. He loved having such immense power, it made a lot of things possible and much more interesting.
Now for the boy.
A massive reptilian head turned toward the aura encased boy. The female King of Knights was interesting but this boy, this young man, this mere mortal...
He intrigued him.
Somehow, the boy was able to manifest, to create, a copy of Caliburn, a Noble Phantasm, if he got the terminology correct, of great power, something that, by all rights, should have been impossible.
Not to mention he felt something from the boy, an echo of his own power of 'dreams' or, to be more specific, the power to 'manifest dreams onto reality'. That, more than anything else, had drawn him to this place within the Gap.
He reached with his power again, touching the cocoon of power that encapsulated the comatose human male, his eyes flaring a burning gold once more, even as the cocoon also flared brilliantly.
It should be noted, at this point, that there exists in magecraft a theory called 'Spiritual Resonance'.
It stems from the theory that all living things are a manifestation of the many different aspects of the Root. Spiritual Resonance is the theory that beings of compatible, similar or same aspects, also known as Origin in humans, would be drawn to each other, seeking to become whole, to be more complete.
It was from this theory that the romantic myth of 'soulmates' came from. While there is no truly 'one destined to capture the heart forever', there can be subconscious leanings or desires toward the one that someone's soul feels compatible with. This can be enhanced by time, experience, proximity and various rituals (the sharing of blood to become blood brothers is a corruption of a primitive ritual that does just that).
Symptoms of this bond forming include, strange dreams (which are actually memories of the other), a change of mannerisms, sudden knowledge of things that they would have otherwise not have known and even, in the case of magi, spontaneous evolution or development of new magical skills.
It has been theorised that the stronger the bond, the more symptoms will arise, and the more powerful they would be.
Another part of that theory is the fact that if, by some chance, one was meet their self of another world, likely through a prank from the Wizard Marshall, that their souls would almost automatically synchronise unconsciously, leading to an otherwise unknown trade of memories. Each receiving a full set of the other's memories that would remain hidden deep within the psyche until some event were to trigger it's activation, as their own conscious mind would seek to suppress what it saw as alien thoughts.
Events like someone delving into their mind.
Either that or they would both die due to Gaia's sensing of paradox, but who cares about that.
Images floats through his mind again, but it was different this time, more chopped, more confusing, like he was reading two minds at once.
Still, he was a being that had been in existence for millennia on end. A series of memories from two beings whose lives passed in a blink of his eyes would be nothing.
Fire filled the air, like a living thing. Menace and rage and hatred as it devoured everything around, seeming to reach towards those who ran from it. The scent of burning flesh, ash and corruption choked the air.
And through this slice of hell on earth, a boy staggered forward, step by step. Eyes blank and unseeing as his body moved like an automaton. His mind, however, was even worse. Memories, thoughts, feelings, one by one, with every step he made, were sacrificed to those unholy flames, just to make another step.
Fire filled the air, like a living thing. The scent of burning blood choking the air, tainting the lungs of any who breathed. Above the scent, the sounds of metal cutting flesh was heard, the butchery of war in full swing. The source was a white haired man, tall and tanned, clad in a crimson coat and black chest armour, as he slashed with swords of light and darkness into a twisted being, a monster, with fish belly pale flesh and eyes as crimson as blood.
Twisted claw, faster than the eye could see, crashed against steel, each side of the conflict determined to win, to survive, to kill the other.
Only time would tell who was the victor.
Eventually, the boy had nothing left, no more to give, and fell, his eyes closing, awaiting the end. Time passed, the crackling flames and distant screaming heard but not acknowledged. Then he felt something, a golden power seemed to seep into his mind, the scent of honeysuckle momentarily overpowering the burnt air. Wondering, the now nameless boy opened his eyes.
He looked up into the face a man, dark of hair and disheveled, eyes streaming with tears as they looked down at him. Strangely, those teary eyes were not sad, but filled with happiness, with an unbounded joy. Something moved within the empty soul of the child.
'I wish I could be that happy.'
Eventually, the boy had nothing left, no more to give, and fell, his eyes closing, his life having ended. The red knight sighed heavily, bitterly. Just another failure. Another life he could not save.
Standing before a class of children, "I want to be an Ally of Justice."
Standing before a crowd of people, one's that he had saved, that now cried for his death, he smiled softly. Even as the headsman's axe fell.
Kneeling before a small shrine on a mat, focusing intently as he forged a magical circuit, his spine feeling like a hot poker was being shoved down it as he did. He ignored the pain, welcoming it as a friend. If pain was the price for the power to right wrongs, he would gladly pay it.
Kneeling, focusing intently, he prayed. Offering up his soul and service if he was given the power to save those before him. A mere hundred souls would live on in exchange for his service to the world after death.
A fair trade.
Running from a warrior in blue, the warrior's speed in human, showing that he was no ordinary being. A magus maybe? Cornered now, the boy tried to fight, to live, to survive.
He failed. The crimson spear impaling his heart.
Running from a warrior in blue, a twisted warrior whose power was great as his mind and soul were twisted. His mind in a film of red, the World empowering him. A quick and twist and then the threat to humanity was cut down, it's head separating from it's body.
A quick glance around, looking for more enemies, for more monsters to slay, showed nothing but a field of the dead, many of them having fallen to his blades. Even the children.
Mission accomplished, he faded from the world, returning to the Root, awaiting the next call the next slaughter he would have to perform.
He hated this.
"I ask of you; Are you my Master?"
The boy could do nothing more than stare from where he was, fallen on the floor of his workshop. The figure exuded majesty, regality, nobility and power as she stood there, looking down on him.
Who was this girl?
He felt himself slam into a sofa, winding himself slightly. He stared up at the hole in the roof, trying to figure where he was, who he was.
A door leading to another part of the house tore open, revealing the form of a girl, one with the subtle aura of a magus, with long black hair, looking at him in disbelief.
"What a frightening Master I have." He said with a smirk.
He sees her on the ropes, about to die from the next attack from the Berserker known as Heracles. Without hesitation, he throws himself in front of the massive stone axe-sword. Pain erupts down his front, feeling like he had been split in half. But he managed to save her, save Saber, that was all that mattered.
He looked at the fallen red haired boy, one that had foolishly thrown himself in front of Berserker's blade. Idiot boy, foolish child, naive. His wrath awakened at the sight of such a fool. Did he know this boy? He felt like he should. But his mind was so clouded, his memories unclear. Time will tell.
Glass shatters as he was thrown out of the window by Rider. As he falls, he doesn't falter. He knows he has no other choice.
"Saber, I order you to come!"
Out of a ripple of air she appears, a soldier ready to fight.
Now Rider would be able to fall.
Still a fool, if a brave one. Beaten and wounded, he stands, ordering his Servant to go for the Rider and not to worry about him as he went after the Master.
Brave, but still a fool.
So like himself.
He looked upon a sword that he knew had no equal. A sword that as famous as it's wielder. The Sword of Promised Victory. Excalibur.
And thus he knew his Servant's identity.
Memories assaulted his mind as he saw the golden light atop the skyscraper, tearing apart the sky and the Servant in it. Memories of a boy, a foolish boy, wanting to be a hero. Of hero saving people wherever he could, asking nothing in return. Visions of the people turning on the hero, a sacrifice to the masses because they could not understand him.
He knew who he was.
His sleeping mind is assaulted by memories, his own and others. A girl drawing a sword from the stone. Of a lonely woman king.
A memory of his father's passing, drifting off into the realm of the dead as he talked until dawn.
He remembers now, this place, this time. It was his home. And that boy was himself, before he made that foolish sacrifice, before he became Alaya's attack dog. He remembers the wish he desired, for his existence to end.
Pity he couldn't do it here.
He stares at a crimson back as Archer stands tall and powerful before the monstrous Berserker.
"Understand." The Servant spoke, solemn and firm as he stared down the raging bestial Servant, "you are a maker, not a fighter."
The Berserker charged the empty handed Archer, his voice roaring and unintelligible.
"Do not think about other things. There is only one thing you can do. So master that one thing."
A hand was raised by Archer, his tone never wavering and not single other muscle moving. The boy couldn't see how, but a short sword appeared in that hand.
"Do not forget. What you must imagine is always that you yourself are the strongest. You do not need outside enemies. For you, the one you have to fight is none other than your own image."
The red back of Archer sinks. Berserker roars louder as he falls upon Archer with a fury.
The boy turns and runs, never looking back, even as those words from the nameless Servant echo in his mind. Fainting, he thought he could hear the sound of grinding gears and hammering blows of a smith's hammer striking an anvil.
"I am the bone of my sword,"
The words echoed in the entrance hall of the Einzbern Castle. Carrying a weight to them that they couldn't have carried if used by anyone else, even if they were shouted at a stunning volume.
"Steel is my body and fire is my blood,"
A wounded Archer looked at his foes. A mammoth giant of being, for he was certainly no human, and a small child with red eyes and white hair. A homunculus of the Einzbern.
"I have created over a thousand blades,"
he discarded the memories he had of the girl, one that would die too soon, even if she lived through this war. IIlya's fate was a sad one, no matter how he sliced it.
"Unknown to death,
Nor known to life,"
The girl looked at him confused, a cute look that belied the savage ruthlessness that hid in her heart.
"Have withstood pain to create many weapons,
Yet these hands shall never hold anything,"
He hoped his Master had managed to escape. He knew this was a last ditch effort. He could win here, or he could die. Either way, he wouldn't go down without a hell of a fight.
He just hoped that the back up plan he had left with his more foolish self would be enough to save them all if he fell here.
"So, as I pray, Unlimited Blade Works."
And fire filled the world, casting off the curtain of reality.
Revealing his own world. A world of blades and dust. The sky thundered with the grinding of gears. It was not a nice world, lacking anything of comfort. But he was not a nice person, or even a person at all.
He was merely a sword.
'If it is an opponent you cannot match in real life, beat it in your imagination.
If you cannot beat it yourself, imagine something that you could beat it with.'
Those words struck his mind, making him grasp onto the slim hope that would allow them all to live through this night. A night where he had settled at Saber's side, skin against skin, in effort to give her more power.
He mind turned in on itself, focusing on a sword that would allow Saber to defeat Berserker without endangering her own existence.
A new sword appeared in his hand, shocking Saber who recognised the blade.
Now they had a chance.
He glared impotently at the arrogant golden king, his amber eyes fierce. He had no defence, no chance at winning.
Nonetheless, he forced his body to move, to protect his fallen Servant, his lover.
Surging his body with magic, he could feel his mind burn and strain.
That didn't matter. Only Saber did.
He felt the evil bath him in it's power, it's curses. Making him rage in pain and agony as he was devoured by the darkness. But he refused to go, to fall. He fought against the despicable black mud, curses of the world taken physical form. Then he felt something, something gold and powerful, something that felt like Saber.
He reached for it. He could see it, could feel it. He knew it's name.
He watched as Saber swung her blade, calling upon her sword one last time.
'I wish we could be together.'
That was his thought.
The Grail was cut, bisected and burning away. Then it went wrong. A wave of darkness spilled over them both, engulfing him and Saber in it's foul embrace.
His last thoughts, before the darkness took him, were of Saber.
His golden eyes dimmed, returning to their usual reptilian state as he pulled himself out of the distorted mind of the mortal boy.
That had been more than intriguing. A boy of one time unknowingly meeting a possible version of his own self. One who had the potential to make his dreams a reality, who could over turn the rule of the world and make it their own.
These 'Reality Marbles'...How fascinating.
He rumbled to himself in thought. These two were more than interesting to him. He had seen the struggles they had gone through, the paths they had trod and the actions they had taken. He also saw what that oily puddle of black piss had tried to do. Thankfully, he had 'flushed' said puddle of piss. With fire.
But what to do with these two?
He generally didn't interfere with anything, so long as they didn't piss him off, content to just fly within the Gap. But that oily piss stain had dared to set foot in this realm, to look upon him, just so it could bask in the final painful moments of these two.
He had destroyed the stain, but why not add insult to injury?
He nodded a massive head. Yes, he would give these two a new lease on life, a second chance. The world that Infinite Annoyance currently occupied would be sufficient. Though it require some modifications to these two.
Well, the boy anyway.
The young King would be fine. She would have the abilities she had as a Servant. The strength and skill. And with him bonding her to her flesh once more, she could grow beyond those strengths. He chuckled, sounding like an avalanche. He couldn't wait to see that world's reaction to her existence. The descendents of that world's Arthur, due to who she is, and the hosts of the Heavenly Dragons, due to the Factor of the Red Dragon, in particular. Not to mention having a completed Excalibur.
It should be amusing to say the least.
Yes, she would be fine, able to take on most that would challenge her already, and could potentially grow strong enough to face everything else as well, to the point of potentially facing Gods. Avalon would be an excellent trump card in those fights. He was rather partial to it actually. A manifestation of the King's dream of a world without strife. Yes, he could get behind that, even if he didn't think he would like such a world.
He was the Apocalypse Dragon! He didn't care overly well for a world full of puppies and rainbows, thank you very much.
Now the boy...
He scrutinised the small being, one that was smaller than one of his eyeballs.
Difficult, very difficult.
The powers he had now, potentially, could be quite the game changer in that world, provided he had enough 'petrol in the tank' to use them. Which presented quite a problem.
If one were to compare this third-rate magus to even a low class devil, in the power stakes...well it wasn't good and let's leave it at that. The Reality Marble he unknowingly had, Unlimited Blade Works, could easily offset the powers such a devil had. But as you moved up the ranks, it was clear that the boy would become more and more outclassed, to the point that even if he pulled out the full Marble, he would get bulldozed.
He couldn't have that happen, not to one that expressed a degree of his own powers. Such defeats would reflect poorly on him and his dominion. His pride wouldn't let one who even remotely represented him be seen as weak.
So the kid needed an edge, something that could give him an advantage but, at the same time, not take away from the kid's own determination. The kid was someone who worked like a dog for every scrap of ability he had, his alternate self showed that, and became a certifiable badass along the way, something he could respect.
Even he was slightly awed at EMIYA. He was a man that had always been the underdog, was always outmatched, outnumbered and outgunned, and yet he still managed to pull off feats worthy of story and song. All because he worked and focused and refined, never giving up, always tinkering and perfecting his skills.
He would have been a true hero, ascending to the Throne proper, if he had been born in another age.
Still the rules would be different in the other world, the kid needed something, something that he would have to work for. A Sacred Gear of some type would be an option. He kind of liked the principle of their workings, responding to the desires of their bearers and often changing and mutating to align with the bearer's dreams. And he was all about dreams.
They were the Magnus Opus of the Bible God, though, and he wasn't exactly around anymore to share the secrets of their manufacture. He may be able to create one perhaps, he had observed them out of curiosity for a while a few hundred years ago and had looked in on the leader of the Fallen Angels quite a few times and had made a few guesses, but it wouldn't be a part of the system set up by the Bible God.
Whether that was a good or bad thing, he wasn't sure.
Either way, he would leave that on the table for now after he thought over his other options.
Another option would be for him to optimise the kid's body, soul and magic.
He was thinking along the lines of granting him a core, similar to the one the King had, which would greatly increase his magical capacity and grant a dragon's constitution and bodily might, to an extent. Meaning that the draconic energy could probably heal those wounded and atrophied circuits of his, bringing them to their full strength while also granting him the enviable ability, at least in his birth world, of being able to increase his well of magical power naturally. Something that magi of his birth world could not do. In addition, with his body taking on dragon traits, his physical prowess, like senses, strength, endurance, speed, reflexes and the like, would increase and, with the Reinforcement, had a higher threshold potential, thus letting him be able to increase his bodily might even more.
However, it would also leave him vulnerable to dragon-slaying weapons, several of which were stored in his Unlimited Blade Works and he wasn't sure how his body and soul would react if he tried to Trace them. Could do nothing, could destroy him from the inside out as they were formed.
He also thought about transferring EMIYA's thoughts and memories into the kid, granting him access to a shit load of Noble Phantasms and Mystic Codes the Counter Guardian had seen and all the experience that the Guardian's memories could provide. However, that had already been done due to him rummaging in the kid's head.
The boyo was going to have one Hell of a headache when he woke up.
The final option, as far as he could see, involved him crafting the kid a few weapons and accessories. An equivalent of Noble Phantasms. Ones that could be used by the kid without having him go to the Throne of Heroes first.
If the fairies of the kid's world could do it for the woman King, then he should be able to do the same, if not better!
He thought, he ruminated, he thought some more.
Then he made his choice.
His eyes shone gold as he worked the magic of dreams.
In a quiet field, as the sun beamed down on the rolling hills that surrounded it, a unique event took place.
An empty patch of air seemed to shatter, the sound of glass cracking heard by the small animals near it, causing them to run. That patch of air swirled and twisted, iridescent colours, green, blue, red and more, like a swirling rainbow, a kaleidoscope of madness to the eyes of any who would be foolish enough to look upon it.
From this doorway to Chaos spilled forth power. Endless power. Power without limit or restraint. The earth shook, the grass swayed violently and the massive oak nearby quivered like jelly. The few animals that were still around, either uncaring or curious, bolted for the hills. The power carried the weight of a being as far above as the sky was from the earth. The power of a predator supreme, the apex of the food chain.
They had no desire to meet such a being.
The rainbow door into madness quivered and rippled slightly, like a disturbed pond, as something emerged. An egg shaped object made of an opaque golden power, the faint shadows that may have been seen on this massive 'egg', it's size exceeding six long and three feet wide, indicated that something swelled within, was contained within this construct of power.
Finally fully emerging, it hovered there a moment, drifting to the side, before another egg, slightly bigger, also emerged, identical in every way to the last. Both of these eggs, these capsules, then floated over to the mighty oak, placing themselves gently beneath the shade of it's shuddering branches.
The rainbow window into the Primordial Sea rippled slightly, the colours washing away to show only a massive golden orb, one bisected vertically by a thin line. The power in the air increased by an order of magnitude, so powerful and overwhelming as to freeze the previously quivering surroundings in place, as if a massive weight was settled on them, rendering them unable to even shift.
Even the earth knew that something was present, a power beyond imagining.
The orb, that massive eye, looked at the two golden eggs, inspecting them. Then the slitted pupil narrowed slightly, a pulse of focused power released. The eggs, pulsed, rippled and then began to fade, slowly revealing the contents within, resting them beneath the oaken branches.
The massive eye seemed to gleam with excitement and humour and interest as it observed the resting couple, one a king and a knight, the other a sword made flesh.
It eagerly awaited the chaos the very existence of these two would stir up.
After a time, merely a moment, the eye began to with draw, fading away, along with the portal. The power in the air also began to dissipate, the source of it moving away. Before the eye finally disappeared, words were heard, ones that echoed around the world, from city to country, rising to the sky and diving beneath the seas, to beggar and king, to warrior and priest, to man and beast, to the Heavens above and the Underworld below. The words were heard, spoken in a voice deeper than the depths of the Abyss and yet soft as a cat's footstep.
"Long Live The Kings."
The words were carried on the wind even as the portal into the Dimensional Gap vanished.
"Long Live The Kings."
Upon a throne in Heaven, a blonde haired head, topped with a halo, shot up as he heard those words. His green eyes, sharp yet gentle, looked around for the source.
He saw nothing.
He stood up from his throne, one that had once been held by his Father, and slowly walked down the steps leading to the main floor of the massive, if otherwise empty, chamber, his foot falls echoing off of the massive pillars.
He frowned as his extraordinary sense of the supernatural could feel little, only the fading trace of power. He focused on it slightly, trying to read further into it, to determine the source of it, before it could completely vanish into the ether.
Emerald eyes widened and his golden glowing wings, all twelve of them, flared in shock.
"What in Father's name?" Whispered out Michael, one who had taken the place of his Father after he fell in the Great War, surprised.
He recovered quickly, sending out a call for his sister. They would have to work fast on this.
It wasn't everyday that the Dragon of Dragons came calling.
"Long Live The Kings."
In a lab in the Underworld, a man bolted out of his sleep next to a computer. His great black wings, all twelve of them resembling a massive raven's, the feathers darker than the blackness of space itself, flaring open.
"What the hell?!" He cried out, before swiftly doubling over with a groan, putting his goateed face between his legs to stop his head from swimming.
"Ooooh boy," he breathed softly, wincing at the words, "that's the last time I have a tequila shot contest with Vali." He groaned more as he stood straight back up, his bloodshot purple eyes looking around blearily. "Looks like I made it back home, at least."
He winced again at the sound as it seemed to stab through his head like an ice pick. He hissed nasty expletives as stumbled toward the source, a small monitor in the corner of the untidy lab, stepping around various knick knacks and half finished projects that had obviously tumbled to the floor in the wake of his drunken entrance the night before.
"What now?" He growled lowly as he finally stopped before the screen, squinting to read the contents that were flashing on it.
A heartbeat passed as his eyes scanned it before the contents finally hit him.
The Fallen's purple eyes shot wide in shock, "Impossible!" He said hoarsely, dropping quickly down into the seat and tapping away furiously, trying to determine the truth of the matter and it's source.
Whether it be a false alarm or not, the information that flashed on Azazel's screen would be something that would tilt the delicate balance of power between the Factions.
At the top of the screen, above a line of scrolling numbers and text, flashed three words that made Azazel ignored his dress and headache.
TRUE EXCALIBUR DETECTED.
"Long Live The Kings."
A red-haired man, a grown yet youthful looking one, looked up sharply, blue-green eyes looking around his office warily. He could have sworn he heard something, like a voice in his ear. Yet he felt nothing, sensed nothing.
Perhaps he was going mad? It wouldn't surprise him if he was, the paperwork alone in his lofty position was enough to drive most around the bend.
A firm tapping was heard on the oak door that lead into his office.
"Enter!" He called, putting the voice out of his mind. It was probably nothing. He would just get an earlier night tonight.
The door was swiftly opened to admit something that made him want to break down and cry.
"More reports to go over, Lucifer-sama," a statuesque silverette wearing a maid outfit stated calmly as she held a pile of papers easily two feet thick. Each of which would have to be read over, thought about, hand signed and then magically stamped.
Sirzechs Lucifer, Super-Devil and one of the four Satans, wanted nothing more than to commit suicide at that moment.
"Grayfia-chan!" He sobbed and wailed, like a big child. He didn't care if it was undignified. He was only halfway through the initial pile in his inbox from this morning, he didn't need more! "Why do you do this?!"
The maid, the man's wife, was unmoved. She simply placed the stack of paperwork on his desk before reaching out and pinching the whining man's cheek firmly.
"Have more decorum, Sirzechs-sama," the maid said coldly, ignoring the flailing of the foolish man she had married. Sometime she felt like she was his keeper rather than his partner in matrimony. "A devil of your standing should be more dignified. As a Satan, you represent the face of the Devil Faction. To demean yourself in such a manner is to demea..."
Her speech was interrupted by the door of the office slamming open. The cause being a panting and sweating young devil, one that the maid recognised slightly as one of the new recruits in the governing body. Specifically, one that was under the jurisdiction of Falbium Asmodeus, who was in charge of military affairs.
"Lucifer-sama!" The young devil panted, heaving deep breaths of air into his lungs, obviously having sprinted full out to get to the office. It would have been easier and quicker to have a teleportation point in the office but Sirzech's had decided not to for security reasons. "Grave news!"
Sirzechs quickly detached himself from his wife, losing the air of silliness as he caught the seriousness of situation, and quickly moved to the side of the panting and heaving young devil, supporting him into a seat in front of his desk.
"Take a breath, kid," he quickly assured the young devil, "the news can wait a bit until you get your breath back. Grayfia," he said as he turned to his wife while he grabbed an empty wine glass from his desk without looking, holding it out to the silver haired beauty, "some water, if you would?"
Wordlessly, and with a bare surge of power, water appeared out of the air before her upraised palm, arcing into the glass until it was full. Sirzechs swiftly presented it to the younger devil, who swallowed it greedily, drinking deep so as to ease the stitch in his side and wet his dry throat and ease his harsh breathing.
"Take a moment to collect your thoughts and relax," he said, soothing the young devil, a young Dantalion by the rather androgynous features and slim build, one of the remaining Pillar families. They were noted to have the ability to shapeshift, taking on the appearance of another. It was also rumoured that the more powerful and talented on the clan were able to change their thought patterns of the person they took the appearance of, making them flawless infiltration specialists. They had been a great help during the Devil Civil War when they had joined the Anti-Satan Faction.
The glass was swiftly emptied and placed back on the desk by the youth, even as his hands trembled slightly, still geared up and full of adrenaline from the running he had just done.
"My apologies, Lord Lucifer," he said, haltingly as he caught his breath.
"It's fine," the Satan said, waving off the apology, "it sounds like you have urgent news anyway."
"Yes, sir," the kid said nodding, "news just came through from one of the monitoring stations in the mortal realm," he breathed deeply, steadying himself, "Sensors indicate that a portal was opened from the Dimensional Gap."
Sirzechs lifted an eyebrow intrigue. That was a surprise. The Dimensional Gap was generally avoided by most knowledgable beings, due to it's alien environment, that could quickly kill even a high ranked devil if they stayed there long enough, and the current resident, a rather belligerent and massive red dragon that had no known equal in power to the best of his knowledge. The fact that a portal was opened, which was not a natural occurence, meant someone or something was playing games. Still, in itself, that wasn't cause for concern, especially not to the point of what this kid was implying, though it would be something that he would see delved into.
Prevention is often better than a cure, after all.
The youth's face was now looking up into Sirzechs' face, pale and slightly scared. "Further scanning showed that the cause of the portal was by a being with a draconic signature."
Sirzechs didn't move, just listening to the boy, even as he heard his wife shift subtly in surprise. There was really only one draconic being who could freely mess with the walls of reality that separated the material world from the chaotic abyss that was the Gap.
The Dantalion scion went on.
"The sensors also picked up two more signatures, powerful ones, maybe as much as High Ranked devil, though the interference from the initial source of power had clouded the readings and thus made it only an estimate."
Sirzechs simply kept listening, kept looking at the boy, taking everything in. He would think about it all when he had it all.
"Despite the veiling from the powerful draconic source, we were able to pick out one aura enough to cross reference with our database for a possible match."
Sirzechs nodded understanding, not saying a word. It was a good move and standard procedure. Auras could tell a lot about a person. Strengths, weaknesses, dreams. In those with Hero blood, a talented aura reader could also read the lineage of a Hero descendant and what one they were descended from if they had a sample of the Ancestor's aura or had encountered the Ancestor before. The Longinus Sephiroth Grail, was reputed to be an artifact that was able to something similar.
The Underworld had a complete store of crystals, each one them contains a recording of a particular person or beings aura, friend, enemy, ally or merely someone of interest, which can be compared to current recordings. It was standard procedure when meeting new beings of note to scan and compare them, so as to get a possible insight into how they worked or thought. Something that would give the devils an edge in any conflict against said beings. Whether it be at the bargaining table or on the battlefield.
Devils are nothing if not crafty.
"We received two matches." The kid went on, and the pale face and swaying body told the Crimson Satan that he may not like the eventual answer.
"One was a 100% match, an exact match, to the recorded aura."
Sirzechs frowned deeper. An exact match? That meant it was one of more current recordings among humans or one of the long lived species. An old enemy making a move maybe?
"We reran the test three more times, just to make sure." Eyes looked up into his, pale and shocked, "we still could barely believe it."
Sirzechs said nothing, only nodding for the boy to go on.
"The original record was made during the Great War, before the Truce was declared, from a human."
Sirzechs' eyes were wide now. A human living that long?! Impossible. Even if they had managed to live that long, it wouldn't be as a human, thus the aura match would not be an exact one. The Satan had sinking feeling in his guts.
"Who?" The Satan asked intently. He faintly heard his wife lean forward in interest.
The boy looked at him again, the eyes were scared now, as if a child had found out that there really were monsters under the bed. The boy's lips moved and it took everything the Super Devil had to keep from reeling in shock.
"Arthur Pendragon. The King of Camelot."
The former heir of Gremory barely heard his wife's gasp of shock, the news able to break even her ice cold facade. He wasn't much better, feeling like his world had been turned upside down. This was big, big news. Big grave news, just as the kid had said.
But he knew that the news wasn't over yet.
Sirzechs shoved away his thoughts on that name and quickly asked the boy. "You said there were two matches. What was the other one?"
Sirzechs knew that the bombs had stopped coming she that already pale face became almost transparent, like a ghost.
"The second one was a partial match due to a contamination with an energy that we are unsure of," stuttered the kid as he tried to compose himself, "but it was over 75% even through that interference."
Sirzechs only nodded. That sounded a bit palatable. Though he couldn't help but feel on edge. The kid's reactions weren't giving him any real assurance at the moment.
"Oddly enough, it was mingled with aura of the one tentatively identified with the King, yet they were separate enough that it didn't taint the King's aura, somehow." The kid looked faintly puzzled before quickly shaking it off an face of fear that knocked his previous one down to last place.
"The second aura matched that of Ddraig. The Welsh Dragon."
This time Sirzechs really was reeling in shock. His agile mind could only come to one conclusion, one that he really didn't like, that signalled a great deal of trouble on the horizon. He fell on his arse, staring blankly into space, even as he absently heard his wife stumble backward in complete shock and the form of the young Dantalion slump in the seat, passed out or fainted, as the kid's overloaded mind finally decided to catch up with itself and shut down.
He quickly snapped out of it. Now wasn't the time to be shocked. Now was the time to act, to start looking into things. Now was the time for the Satan Lucifer to come out and play and for Sirzechs Gremory to go to sleep for a while.
"Grayfia!" He snapped to his wife, breaking her out of her own shocked state, "send a message to all the Satans. Tell them that an emergency meeting is required, post haste. If they're all not at the meeting room in half an hour, at the most, tell them I will personally march into their homes and drag them there, kicking and screaming if I must. Do you understand your orders?"
"Yes, Lucifer-sama," The former Lucifuge said with a quick nod as she gathered her faculties once more. "I will do so immediately." She quickly turned and made for the door to carry out her orders. Lucifer thought he could faintly see a small flush on the woman's cheeks and thought his nose must be acting up due to the sudden sweet scent that he could smell.
He tucked that away for further thought at a later time.
"Get Serafall first!" He called down the corridor before she vanished from sight, sprinting towards the nearest teleportation point.
Meanwhile, he quickly sprinted towards the Sensor Division, aiming to get a hold of the recordings himself. He would get Ajuka to check them out and verify them at the meeting. Hopefully, this was a false alarm and the signals people got their wires crossed of something.
Well, he really didn't like the odds of the Underworld facing one of the greatest, if not the greatest, humans to have ever lifted a blade now with the power of Boosted Gear at his side.
"Long Live The Kings."
All around the world, near and far, these words were heard in the ears of the powerful, the influential, the saints and the sinners.
A little girl in a black dress, with eyes as empty as the abyss, staring into infinity, looked into the sky with a frown.
A devil on his throne in the Underworld smirked wickedly, wondering what chaos had now befallen the world. His high pitched laughter rang out in the castle, even as he held a jewelled chalice, a goblet, a cup, a Grail, in his hand.
A young Hero leant on his spear, one who's goals consisted of genocide and annihilation, frowned to himself. What did this mean?
A bespectacled blonde young man, wearing a business suit and a sword at his side, was hit heavily by these carried words. His younger sister, dressed as a sorceress, was not much better.
All around the world, the noteworthy and worthless, all heard these words. A herald's call for the new age that dawned.
All the while, the couple under the oak tree slept on.
"Long Live The Kings."
Well folks, how did you like it? This may just take the place of 'On Steel Wings'. Let me know what you like and hate about it if you can. Reviews can only make the quality of my stories better.