The Youngest Campione
Betas: Diller/Grammarly/William Wiltrose
Disclaimer: I don't own FSN or Campione, they belong to their respective owners.
Ch.4: Life and times with Luo Hao.
The fight against the Roman God Silvanus was irksome to her. She used her Dragon's Roar. A mass of trees, the size of skyscrapers shielded him from total annihilation. Using this authority continuously decreased her qi reserves the longer she used it as well as straining her voice. Knowing a fruitless endeavor when she saw one, she ceased using [Dragon's Roar] and switched to using [Divine Might of Vajrapani].
"Great force is exerted! A great force vanquishes a small evil!" She intoned turning her fists into organic diamond and she gained godly strength.
Using her newly acquired might and Shukuchi, she dashed towards the mass of trees and began burrowing her way towards the Heretic God, throwing her punches faster than a sports car's pistons could hope to move. Wood chips and sawdust coated the air as she continued pummeling her way through Silvanus's fortress of timber. Occasionally she would crush a Venus fly trap or vine that dared try to impede her from reaching her natural foe. With one last punch, she blasted through the tree.
Or so she thought, for what she found surprised her slightly. As it turned out, the tree wasn't one massive tree, but it was hollow inside with lush grass under foot, and shafts of sunlight streaming down from holes further up in the wood. There, in the center of the grove like area sat Silvanus on a throne made of intertwining tree roots. He possessed skin the color of bark, was stern of the jaw, with a wild black beard and almost feral green eyes. Clad in a purple toga, with a wreath of olive branches adorning his brow. He gazed at her impassively his fingers steepled in front of him as he gazed at her, like an animal judging his next meal or a warrior sizing up a worthy opponent.
Finally, he spoke in a slow deep timbre like that of boughs swaying in the wind, "Godslayer, have you come to attempt me from correcting human ignorance?"
Deciding to humor the Heretic God she asked, "This Luo Hao Cuilian would know what ignorance you wish to correct."
Sitting straight-backed on his throne of roots the plant God replied "The human ignorance that they think they can keep taking from the earth and continue to survive. Every year, hundreds of acres of trees are cut down for useless purposes, and every year the air becomes more polluted with filth. If Earth is to see the next century come, then something must be done. The trees must be allowed to fLuorish anew. And the cancer known as humanity…" He paused before saying, "Must be lanced off the face of the planet."
"While this Luo Hao understands your frustrations, she will not allow you to end her subjects!" She stated imperiously.
"I expected no less from a bastard child of Epimetheus," Silvanus said with a knowing nod before saying "Stop me if you can Campione!"
No more words needed to be exchanged between the two natural enemies and none were, all that mattered now to each of them was the destruction of the other. The Heretic God struck first, lashing out with constructs of wood in the shape of spears. They came from the walls, the ceiling, and the floor. From in front, above, behind, and below all at once, for a brief moment, the Heretic God thought he had slain his mortal foe, for he didn't see her move, nor did he notice her use any form of magic to escape his trap. But his thoughts were cut short when he felt a spike in magical energy coming from the mass of brambles and thorns that was the impaling cage he'd created around the Campione.
Seconds later, a burst of fire blew the Campione's would-be coffin apart, and, standing amidst the charred remains and cinders was the one who called herself Luo Hao. Her hands were now ablaze with flame and sporting several cuts and scrapes across her form, a scowl on her face and her gaze was sharp as she glared at him. After a moment, she said, "If you wish to fight like a coward, then this Luo Hao Cuilian sees no point in holding back and giving you an honorable death." She then intoned "The sword unsheathed, grassland turns into the forest! Sky, earth, wind, cLuods, the lion king, seeks domination! Trodding tirelessly along the hero's endless path, approaching the supreme pinnacle of the martial way! Twelve Divine Palm Strikes of the Phoenix!"
Her diamond encrusted hand then blazed ruby red. Flames leaped from her forearms like phoenix wings, and in the haze created by the technique the image of a phoenix could be seen standing defiantly behind the Campione. Its wings formed from the flames coming from Luo Hao's arms.
Silvanus, now faced with his natural weakness, of fire, attempted to destroy the Campione before him, lest she bring his plans to ruin. Again, he sent a mass plant life at her. This time it took the form of a massive sixty-meter long dragon, its back covered with moss, its claws and maw made of hard brown bark, and wings made out of boughs in full bloom. The construct had let loose a mighty roar before it dove towards the Campione. And, like yin and yang both dragon and phoenix prepared to clash.
Luo Hao started down the silvakinetic construct, unimpressed. Yet she decided to meet it with appropriate force, as a King should. As the dragon drew near, it opened its maw, letting loose a putrid stench of death and saliva fly from its mouth. Where the goo landed, holes scorched the ground showing it was acidic. As the creature bore down on her, the Master of the Martial Realm calmly and with the skill of centuries of experience, lashed out with a single flame and Authority enhanced palm.
A deafening boom filled the air like thunder, and the strike stopped the beast dead in its tracks. Then, a crack appeared on the wooden dragon's snout, beneath Luo Hao's fist. The break rapidly spread and fractured off all along the beasts' body and flames followed soon after. Then, just as the splintering reached the wall where the Draconian construct emerged, flames licking at its heels, it exploded into innumerable shards. Some of which embedded themselves in her form.
But Her Eminence ignored such trivial things like pain for the moment. Instead, she calmly walked forwards like a conquering hero of legend, intent on giving the merciful death blow to her beaten opponent. Never mind the fact that the Heretic God had yet to actually be defeated, for to one like Luo Hao Cuilian, such an end was merely a foregone conclusion to their confrontation.
She saw the glint of fear and desperation mix with the natural arrogance that was oh so common for a Heretic God appear in Silvanus' eyes. More wooden spears and dragon constructs were flung in her direction, yet the Campione was unconcerned. She walked boldly forwards, a look of contempt entering her eyes as she destroyed the same old tricks that had been used on her previously with naught but a contemptuous flick of her hands. A look of anger adorned her beautiful features as she found a thick wall of poisonous brambles blocking her path to the throne.
Not only did her enemy refuse to fight her directly, honorably, but now when all was lost, instead of dying with dignity as one of his station should, he hid like a coward!
'Unforgivable.' The Master of Martial Realm had thought to herself before she crushed the wall of thorns beneath her divinity enhanced fists 'This insult to my pride as a King is unforgivable!'
She finally stood before Silvanus only to find him cowering on his throne, putting his hands up in submission and all but begging for mercy. Luo Hao was disgusted by the display, and said as much, saying "You are a disgrace to your fellow Heretic Gods! You are a coward, a cretin, unworthy of dying by the hand of my illustrious self. The only reason I will still end your miserable existence is because it is my one duty as a King, and a King does not shirk their responsibility." She finished with proud elegance.
A spark of fury kindled in the Heretic Gods eyes upon hearing his mortal enemies' words. But with that fury, also came a cunning smirk as Silvanus said "Foolish woman, don't you know not to trust the serpent in the garden?"
It happened suddenly. Silvanus' skin lost all color, becoming ashen and pale before his body stretched as if it were a piece of rubber before bursting to shread's at the head, revealing what lay beneath. Silvanus had become a giant serpent. One two hundred meters long, with scales of motely brown and mossy green, its teeth, as long as a man is tall, each dripping with all of natures poisons and sharp as a saber. But the most drawing feature was its eyes. Large, round, and glowing a luminous yellow like that of a hunter's moon, they were marred only by the catlike black silted pupils. The Earth God had transformed into the King of Serpents, a Basilisk.
Luo Hao showed no fear as the great snake reared up and glared down at her. It's death dealing gaze doing little more than fatiguing her. Instead, she smiled and said "So, you finally decided to fight me honorably have you? Very well, I shall meet you with appropriate force."
She then jumped forward utilizing Shukuchi, disappearing in a burst of speed only to reappear right in front of the surprised Serpent King's face with her fist cocked and prepared to strike. The snake met her head on, rearing back before lashing out with its envenomed fangs, each of which was as hard as diamond and sharper than obsidian. Her diamond-hard flame encased fists impacted with the roof of the Serpent Kings mouth. Shattering a decent portion of its teeth and giving her space to punch a cauterized hole clean through its palate, brain, and skull using her remaining nine strikes.
She landed while the Heretic God's body collapsed before breaking into innumerable motes of light that sped towards her body. As she touched the ground she stumbled, something one such as herself never did as it would be unbecoming. Then she noticed a slight haze at the edge of her vision. 'What is this?'
Then she felt it, burning pain coming from her side. Glancing down, she found three fangs of the Basilisk embedded in her left side, the poison coating them granting them a glistening sheen of death. She pulled them out one by one dropping them to the ground where they disintegrated into dust and became a part of her own being. But that did nothing to stop the divine poison coursing through her veins at the moment. She was about to perform a ritual to purge the poison from her body at the cost of much of her qi, only for her innate battle senses to pique. Spinning on her heel, she caught a tranquilizer dart in between her index and middle finger.
Looking across the massive expanse through her rapidly blurring vision, she saw them. Each was dressed head to toe in riot gear. Opaque goggles covering their eyes and each had one of those uncivilized weapons, one of those guns, a rifle she believed the longer ones were called, pointed right at her. They swarmed into the hole she made by the hundreds and opened fire on sight. The Master of the Martial Realm was enraged at the sight.
'How-how dare these ants, these mere insects challenge me! ME?! The Magnificent Luo Hao Cuilian! This cannot be allowed to stand.' She thought imperiously.
And thus, did the Rakshasa Raja enter battle. Refusing to use her divine Authorities on these insects as doing so would sully her pride and irreparably damage her reputation. That was her second mistake. Luo Hao's first mistakewas letting her pride and anger blind her to the fact that she still had divine level poison running through her veins. Her third mistake was twofold, not taking a moment to get rid of said poison, and not realizing the depths soldiers with a cause deemed holy would go to achieve their goals.
They charged her without rhyme or reason, uncaring about the fact that the Campione was tearing their comrades asunder with a flick of her fingers or a mere motion of her feet. Within a matter of minutes, the ground became muddied by the sheer gallons of blood spilled. Yet the soldiers continued to pour into the space, climbing over the corpses of their fallen, and firing their guns all the while. Soon there was no hint of the earthen floor that once existed in the spacious cavern. Corpses became the new floor, in the center of the room a small hill of the dead had formed on top of which Luo Hao currently reigned supreme.
But it was not to last. For with every plebian she cast down, two more took their place. And as time wore on, her reaction time began to slow more and more due to the poison burning through her veins. Finally, her pride became her undoing as the Basilisk's venom began to take its toll. First she was merely hit by a single dart in the shoulder…then two… four…eight…sixteen…thirty-two…sixty-four…one-hundred twenty-eight…Finally, with more than two-hundred-fifty-six tranquilizer darts piercing her person, and Divine poison burning through her veins for more than an hour, Luo Hao was forced to take a knee. Panting in exhaustion, her vision fading in and out of focus.
She could only watch as they slowly, cautiously closed in. She was unable to so much as lift her arms because they felt like wet noodles filled with molten lead. But, despite all of that, or perhaps because of it, she glared at her soon to be captors, defiantly not allowing her head drop as she said, "I do believe congratulations are in order. For you have defeated my magnificent self, a clearly superior opponent with little more than vast numbers on your side and determination." A pause before "As such, when I escape, and I shall escape, for no prison can hold a Campione forever, I shall make your deaths swift and painless."
All she knew after that was darkness and the blessing of oblivion, occasionally interrupted by spurts of semi-consciousness where she could hear vague mutterings and feel someone touching her or odd chanting… only for it to once again fade to black.
Luo Hao awoke with a gasp. Her body tensed and coiled to spring, her eyes flicking around frantically as she prepared to attack, only to find no targets in sight. Instead, she found herself in an ordinary room akin to which one would find in a standard home. It quickly all came back to her and she took several deep breaths allowing herself to relax.
'I'm with Chú fèng. It's over, it's over…I'm spending Christmas with Chú fèng,' She had reminded herself before she wondered aLuod "I wonder what the traditions of Christmas entail?"
"Traditionally, it involves the trading of gifts with one's friends and loved ones," a familiar voice replied.
Turning to the door, the Master of the Martial Realm was pleasantly surprised to already find Chú fèng up and fully dressed. Clad in dark jeans and a red wife beater shir, in his hands he was carrying a tray on which the smells of breakfast wafted to her nose, making her stomach grumble in a most undignified manner.
Smiling at her kindly, he said, "Well, looks like someone's hungry. Then again, it's not surprising considering all you've been through. I hope a Western breakfast is alright with you, it's what I made everyone else to eat this morning," He told her before setting the tray down in front of her.
Looking at the contents of the tray, Luo Hao found a fluffy yellow omelet that appeared to have sausage in it, three slices of buttered toast, and a cup of green tea set before her. Picking up a pair of wooden chopsticks, China's Freakishly Strong Girl began to sample the food of her young host. She was pleasantly surprised to find it tasted as spectacular as her own meals even if they weren't as aesthetically pleasing as her own.
"You are quite the little chef aren't you Chú fèng?" the King of China said with a bit of humor after taking the first bite of her meal.
Shrugging from where he was sitting on a swivel chair, he replied, "I taught myself to cook from a young age. My parents were both busy with their jobs and I didn't feel like starving to death."
Nodding in a sage-like manner Luo Hao replied, "You are self-sufficient. A valuable skill to be sure."
True…Well, after your finished eating we'd best get ready to go." The former Counter Guardian told her.
"Go, go where Chú fèng?" she inquired curiously.
"Christmas shopping of course. We need to buy presents, or I do at the very least. I doubt anyone will be expecting gifts from you. Seeing as you're a guest and all." he told her.
A glint entered her forest green eyes as the Campione replied, "Luo Hao shall not be thought of as stingy by her guests. Such would tarnish my reputation. So I too shall be going gift shopping with you."
"Ok, but do you have any money to buy presents with? Cause, last I checked you had no cash." The boy pointed out.
The Enlightened Brawler opened her mouth to tell him that as a Campione, she could merely take whatever it was she desired. Only to think better of it. 'After all, if he knew of my status he may start groveling and not only would that be quite unbecoming of my rescuer, it would also harm my reputation if word got out that, as his guest, I made him prostrate himself as such. An alternate solution then,' she thought.
Turning to her young savior she asked "Ne Chú fèng, could I by chance borrow your phone for a minute?"
And thus, did the Cult of Five Mountains find out that their leader was alive. All because of a phone call to one 'Young Eagle' demanding a credit card be sent to the closest bank in the City of Tokyo from the District of Wakoku.
After she had completed her phone call, she found the young Kusanagi staring at her with his eyebrow raised. Seeing the look she was being given, she asked, "What has my magnificent self-done to confound you this time Chú fèng?"
"Luo Hao be honest with me…are you in organized crime?" He asked her bluntly.
The Master of the Martial Realm blinked once, twice, and then she threw her head back and laughed. The sound of her laughter sounded like the tinkling of wind chimes in a gale to Emiya's ears, and quite a pleasant sound to hear.
After she had settled down she said, "Ah, thank you Chú fèng I needed that. No, no I am not a part of those lowly Triads. But I do hold much influence and power. I'm a…martial arts teacher of such renown and skill that not even the Triads dare challenge my ability for fear of losing face."
Giving an appreciative whistle, he thought, 'Well that explains the massive amounts of od I feel from her. According to ancient legends; martial artists could do everything from flying to teleportation, to God knows what else. Hmm, well it's worth a shot.'
"Would you be willing to teach me a thing or two while you're here?" He asked, bowing ever so slightly at the waist.
"Of course." She then noticed something when he had trouble straightening. "Chú fèng why haven't you restored your qi yet? That was a long hard fought battle yesterday and for you to go around without full reserves should something happen would be foolish." She chastised.
"Well, I would refill my reserves…if I knew how to." He replied feeling somewhat sheepish.
"What?" Luo Hao deadpanned while giving the young boy a glare to match her tone as she continued. "Do you mean to tell me that whoever taught you how to fight never bothered to show you the fundamental basics of restoring your own spiritual energy beforehand?"
Little did the Campione know that she had just touched a nerve. For Emiya said defensively, "Well in the defense of my teachers, the first one didn't even want to teach me magic. And only did so after I bugged him for quite a time about it. Even then he was terminally ill so he probably couldn't have taught me how to gather magical energy even if he wanted to. My second teacher I met during a time of conflict, and she was more concerned about teaching me how to fight and keeping me alive, seeing as she knew little about magic. Then after all of that, it didn't seem too important as I had other things to worry about."
Closing her eyes and nodding the leader of the Cult of Five Mountains said calmly, "I see…and where did a child get involved in such conflict at such a young age?"
It was then that Emiya realized he had said too much. "I uh-"
It was Luo Hao who answered for him in a manner of speaking, "You're an Old Soul aren't you Kusanagi Godou? Tell me, just how old are you really?"
Seeing no point in lying to her, he said bluntly "Depends on what you mean if you say at the time of my death? Thirty-five. If you say what came after for me…I lost track sometime after the tenth millennia."
"I see. And despite your age and experience, you still seek training from me?" The Campione asked, for the first time in many centuries feeling humble just by being in another's presence. 'The things he must have seen, the opponents he must've fought.' The idea of fighting him made her giddy with excitement.
"Yep, mainly because I have no idea how magic works around here." He replied.
"I see, a stranger in a strange land then." She said with a slight laugh.
Sighing he said "Quite, but let's shelf this for now and get going, we have presents to shop for. I brought you some warm clothes to change into as it started to snow sometime last night. I'll leave you to change…"
He then got up and made for the door taking the tray with him only to stop in shock when Luo Hao shed her Yukata from last night without any hint of shame. Fully exposing her voluptuous figure to him before she stood and began donning the clothes he'd brought for her. The shameless Campione quickly dressed in the provided panties and bra before pulling on a salmon-colored turtleneck, black wool stockings, and a pair of charcoal washed jeans.
"Why?" Was all Emiya could say after she was finished.
"I was merely getting changed, what is the problem?" The Campione asked genuinely flummoxed.
He wanted to tell her that what she just did was technically indecent exposure to a minor, but honestly, he wasn't really all that young, or that innocent. After all, it wasn't like she had just showed him something he'd never seen before. And so he just sighed and said, "Right of course you were."
Taking another deep breath, he pushed the image of her naked form out of his mind and said, "Thanks, Luo Hao, I really appreciate you helping me. And I hope it goes without saying that what you learned here stays between the two of us yes?"
Smiling kindly she replied, "Of course Chú fèng, for this Luo Hao Cuilian to betray your confidence would undoubtedly-"
"It would ruin your reputation?" he guessed a teasing lit in his tone.
"Indeed," She said completely seriously, missing his teasing "Now let us go forth and attain proper gifts!"
'She makes this sound like some kind of epic quest of legend or something…oh well, better to let her have her fun,' He thought.
He had no idea just how dangerous shopping with a Campione could be. The poor fool…
After making a brief stop at a Pursuit Bank where Luo Hao picked up a black card of all things, Emiya was having trouble catching his breath. Due to being run near ragged trying to keep up with Luo Hao. For she dragged him from shop to shop wanting to look at everything. 'I'm beginning to think she's never been in a large city, let alone a shopping mall before.'
"Luo Hao." He said calmly trying to get her attention.
"Oh, Chú fèng look at this! People are moving on that screen." She said pointing to a television.
"That's a television, Luo Hao. Umm, can we-"He wasn't able to finish as the Freakishly Strong Girl continued to drag him along chattering all the while.
"What's that delicious smell Chú fèng?" She all but demanded while pulling him towards the food court.
She dragged him to a Cinnabon, which was also serving amazake, a traditional weak alcoholic drink in Japan that was used for everything from a dessert to baby formula, and even a hangover cure. Now that she had stopped to ogle the pastries the former Counter Guardian took this chance to say "Luo Hao, if I buy you this, we'll need to go and sit down and eat it. Afterward, we really do need to get some shopping done alright?"
The twentysomething looking woman hopped from foot to foot while nodding rapidly like a child who promised to behave if it meant they could get a cookie later. Resisting the urge to roll his eyes at her behavior but smirking all the while, he paid for two caramel pecan-bons and two cups of amazake. He then took a tray to a booth and sat down on one side his guest and companion on the other.
"Itadakimasu." They both intoned before digging into their food.
As he ate, he kept a keen eye on his- 'What is she to me anyway?' Emiya thought to himself 'An acquaintance, a friend? I suppose sensei would be most accurate.'
He noticed a look of sorrow cross the martial artists face and decided to do something he sucked at. Asking her if she was ok.
"So Luo Hao, how are you handling…everything?" he asked, resisting the urge to cringe as that sounded lame even to his ears.
But it didn't seem to matter to the Campione as her face became solemn before she gave a sigh and said "I-I had a nightmare of my capture last night. I had to relive being defeated by mere ants and then…and then…" she then let out an aggrieved sigh before turning away and staring off into space.
"It's ok to be angry, most people would be in your situation I expect considering how your pregnancy came about. As for the child, it's a shame I couldn't do more for it, but hopefully it's in a better place now."
A look of understanding crossed the Campione's face before she said, "It seems you misunderstand my anger Chú fèng. I am not upset over the fact that I had a child. I was shocked at the fact that it was not under my terms. That the father was not one who defeated me in honorable combat or even took the field himself at the head of a superior force, but a coward who let others and deception do his fighting for him. To be brought low by such means is shameful. For such a worm to even be in my presence, let alone the father of my child is inconceivable-"
The Campione's voice became low and dangerous as she finished. "But for him to then take that child. My child, and use it as a catalyst to summon a Heretic God. To deny the world what could have possibly been the one being that could have surpassed my illustrious self…That that is unforgivable."
It was then that Emiya understood. 'She doesn't hate her child, just the father for obvious reasons.'
"I see, it seems I misjudged you, Luo Hao. You're a real amazing person, to care about a child regardless about how it came about. Also, I think I may owe you an apology."
Cocking her head to the side in confusion the Supreme Martial Artist inquired, "Whatever for my dear Chú fèng?"
"I stole your kill when I took down that malformed Heretic God. Wouldn't you have much rather done the deed yourself?"
Luo Hao stared at him silently for a good long moment before, moving faster than even he could perceive, she swatted him in the temple with her index and middle finger.
"Ow, dare I ask what that was for?"
"That-" Luo Hao said with the slightest hint of annoyance in her tone-"Is for daring to downplay your actions. What you did was nothing less than heroic Chú fèng. You fought the villains', slew the monster, rescued the captured damsel, and found honor and glory on the battlefield. To claim another should take credit for these deeds is detrimental to your own self-worth. And I, as your teacher, shall not have it. Am I understood?"
"Yes, yes, whatever you say oh wise Luo Hao." He replied before replacing the hint of sarcasm in his with that of bitterness. He finished, "But for the record, I hate heroes would like for it to be known that I helped you simply because you needed help. I didn't do it for the honor or the glory. I, in fact, consider those to be terms people use to simply justify killing. Whereas my reasons for doing what I do are far simpler and much more honest."
The transcendent Chinese beauty asked in a whisper, "What might those reasons be Chú fèng?"
"I fight in the hopes of saving other people while also knowing…knowing that not everyone can be saved. For one man's hero is another's villain, and for one person to be happy other must be made sad. For one to live…Another has to die. Heroes, though?" He scoffed in disgust. "They're idealist fools who think they can save everyone. And I know better. Thus, I am no hero."
Luo Hao silently sipped her amazake for a time digesting his words. Finally, she spoke. Saying, "I see, you truly are a hero then Chú fèng regardless of what you say. For warriors seek glory on the battlefield, martial artists honor in defeating powerful opponents, thieves fame and money from raiding tombs, hunters in stalking the greatest prey, and priests in administering to their flock. But heroes, genuine ones of the highest caliber fight for none of these reasons. They are those few, those rare few who rise to fight evil only because they saw something wrong with the world that needed to be righted. I believe you to be one of those…"
She paused for a moment in her impassioned speech before saying in a quieter tone, "Besides no matter what you say from this point forward, you are this Luo Hao's hero. Now, forever, and always."
The former Counter Guardian opened his mouth to speak several times only to close it and open it yet again. Finally, he gave up and sighed, before saying "Let's just go shopping shall we?"
Then, he heard the voice of someone he rather disliked, "I'm sorry Kusanagi-kun, but your Christmas shopping will have to wait."
Biting back a curse and taking a deep breath, the boy turned around plastering a fake smile on his face before he said, "Touma-san, do you want something?"
The glasses wearing ninja smiled serenely before replying, "You should know by now that it's not what I want that matters Kusanagi-kun."
"Right, so what do the Hoff want now?" he asked.
"The Heads of the Four Families. What did you think I meant, David Hasselhoff?" The boy asked.
Laughing awkwardly to hide his confusio, Touma coughed politely before he continued, "Yes, well there is the small matter of you disobeying orders, not checking in with them, and-"
Luo Hao, who had been quiet up till now, decided to make her presence known by saying "And saving my life?"
Touma glanced at her before saying "Did he?" He then turned back to Emiya intent to drag him off to the Seishuunin estate, only to do a quick double take and, paling slightly, babble "A-are y-you?"
"I am exactly who you think I am plebian. Seeing as you saw fit to interrupt our outing, you shall bring us to your lowly Masters forthwith so that I may voice my…displeasure at being disturbed in person. Now." She snapped when Touma was unable to move due to fear.
"Y-Yes r-right away!" he replied before bowing low at the waist and scurrying away like a frightened field mouse.
After he'd left, she turned and smiled kindly to her little hero only to find him giving her an incredulous deadpan look.
"What?" She asked.
"Don't what me, what the hell was that about?" he retorted pointing a finger at her for emphasis.
"Whatever are you talking about Chú fèng, has the amazake gotten to you? I thought you said it wasn't very strong." She said genuinely worried about him.
Sighing in exasperation, he said, "You know what, never mind. I'm pretty sure I'll find out in a couple of minutes anyway right?"
His only response was for Luo Hao to smile demurely and take another sip of her sake.
'Why do I feel like I'm in for a surprise, and potentially not a good one? Oh yeah, cause I have an E-ranked luck stat.' The Counter Guardian groused to himself as he followed Luo Hao to the waiting car, Touma bowing and scraping all the while.
The duo soon found themselves at the Seishuunin estate. Upon passing a perimeter wall enclosed a good ten acres of sakura trees that flanked a stone driveway without even a speck of snow on it. After about five minutes, they found themselves in front of a sprawling traditional Japanese style home that was more than double the size of his own newly rebuilt house. The roof was covered in black lacquered tiles, the walls looked as if they were made of gleaming white marble, and the front door was made of rice paper covered in black lacquered wood. And all the windows were specially constructed to display the kanji for Great (豪).
"Conceited much Ran-san?" Emiya muttered to himself.
Much to his surprise, he found the Heads of the Four Families as well as Ena, Karou, Fuyuhime, and Mikihiko were all dressed in the finest kimono's he'd ever seen. Each was of dyed black silk that was covered in golden sigils to the point that the black silk was almost unnoticeable. As the car came to a stop, the Heads and Heirs bowed at the waist until they were bent at forty-five-degree angles. Unable to resist such an opportunity, he hopped out of the car and said "Now, now, no need to bow for my sake everyone. I appreciate the thought, though."
"We are not bowing for your benefit boy, but for hers." Seishuunin Ran all but hissed in a whisper.
Emiya figured this out already, but he wanted answers so he played dumb, something he was naturally gifted in. He said, "Who, Luo Hao? What's so special about her?"
This caused the Seishuunin Clan Head to look up at him in shock and say "You honestly don't know who she is? What she is?"
"Nope, why don't you enlighten me, Seishuunin?"
"She's-"Ran was cut off by the regal voice of Luo Hao herself who replied from behind. "I am a Campione. One who has claimed kingship over this world by defeating a Heretic God in combat, gaining Divine Authority. I am the great Luo Hao Cuilian, and leader of the Magic Association of the Cult of the Five Holy Mountains, and Master of the Martial Realm. And I would very much like to know what you simpletons were thinking. Daring to summon me! A Campione, as well as my protégé like some common riffraff!" she finished that final sentence by blasting a fair amount of killing intent that brought them all to their knees sans Emiya himself. For though she was impressive she was nothing compared to the sheer animalistic bloodlust of the Black Giant.
Instead, he turned to her and stated calmly "First, tone down the Ki or you're going to kill them before they can answer you. Second, if you expect me to bow to you, you're out of your damn mind, for I bow to no one. And lastly, since when was I your protégé?"
The feeling of bloodlust and pressure dissipated as the Campione turned to the indignant ten-year-old and said "I do not expect you to bow to me unless I'm training you. Speaking of which, you were protégé as of a few scant hours ago when I decided to help you fix that problem of yours."
"Whatever you say sensei. Can we go inside now, because it's cold out here."
"Ach, that tongue of yours is as sharp as any blade in your possession! But I agree, let us head inside. I do hope your explanation is acceptable…" Luo Hao said before walking into the Seishuunin estate letting them just imagine what would happen if she decided it wasn't.
Emiya had to admit he was enjoying himself. Watching everyone else twitch every time Luo Hao so much as breathed deeply made him chuckle. He sipped at the high-grade sake he'd been served, but found he didn't enjoy it as much as the amazake he was drinking with Luo Hao earlier. Perhaps it was the atmosphere, but the sake he was drinking now just had an aftertaste of vinegar to it, ruining the drink for him. Whereas the amazake by contrast had both vanilla and cinnamon mixed into it, making it all around enjoyable.
Glancing at Luo Hao he could tell that she didn't enjoy this drink as well either. Wanting to get this show on the road, as well as save himself and his new master from having to drink any more of this swill, Emiya cleared his throat and said, "So, what did you want Ran-san?"
Clearing her throat awkwardly Ran began, "We called this meeting as we wished to inquire about certain things regarding your mission to Aokigahara?"
"Ask away, but make it quick, Luo Hao and I have Christmas shopping to do." He told her honestly.
Giving the ten-year-old her best fake smile, the Seishuunin said, "Yes, of course. Firstly, why did you disobey our orders and assault the cave where some kind of ritual took place?"
In response, Emiya chuckled and said, "You seem confused, Ran-san. Let me just clarify that I don't answer to you people. I chose to help you because, at the time, it was in the best interests of me and my friends seeing as we were surrounded on all sides by potentially hostile forces and an hour from the nearest town. I chose to help Fuyuhime because I'm just not that big of an asshole, and I thought at the time, that it would be a good idea to make friends in high places. No offense meant Fuyuhime."
This caused the Renjou princess to nod, completely understanding his reasoning. After all when they first met, she was…a bitch for a lack of a better term. "None taken, Shujin. Were I in your position at the time, I likely would have done the same if it meant survival."
"You really don't need to call me master Fuyuhime." He told her calmly before he gave her a questioning look and asked "You do mean master and not husband right…right, Oi!?" he asked when all she did was look at him slyly and smile.
Suddenly, Luo Hao was in front of the Renjou heiress, examining her like a scientist would a rare insect or unknown strain of bacteria. Sitting up straighter and nervously clearing her throat, Fuyuhime asked, "Can I assist you, Your Highness?"
"So you are Chú fèng's apprentice?" she said more to herself than the girl before her.
"Y-yes that's r-right. We're it not for him, it is unlikely I would be able to perform magic at all. I owe him a great debt." She said as the Campione slowly circled her never removing her hawk-like gaze from the heiress.
Coming full circle, she stopped and nodded sagely saying "You chose your apprentices well, Chú fèng."
"I don't remember asking for your approval, but thanks." He replied in a teasing tone, a gratified smile on his face. For in truth, he was glad the martial arts mistress approved of his apprentice. Would he voice that? Hell no, he was far too cynical for that. But he appreciated it all the same.
Turning on her heel and crossing her arms over her chest, China's Freakishly Strong Girl huffed "Tch, that cheek of yours. I should discipline you for it, I really should." She said even though the smile on her face implied she intended to do nothing of the sort.
"Anyway, next question." He said motioning towards Ran.
Flustered from being ignored for so long, it took her a moment to gather her thoughts and ask, "What exactly happened in that cave? We found traces but nothing concrete. Also, what does Her Eminence Luo Hoa have to do with it?"
He gave the Campione a sideways glance, silently asking if it was ok for him to speak about this. Yet the Campione shook her head in response. And so he said, "Sorry, but what happened in that cave is something Luo Hao asked me to keep quiet about, and I'm going to honor her request. If you want, you can try demanding answers out of her, though." He finished with an uncaring shrug.
Ran gave the Campione a nervous glance. The Master of the Martial Realm started back steadily and defiantly, daring her to try and demand anything from her with her gaze alone. After a few brief seconds, the Seishuunin looked away before saying "Moving on. This would usually be the point where we reprimand you for your failure to follow orders, refusal to divulge information, and failure to let us know that a Campione had entered our domain. However, due to the circumstances and all the goodwill you have shown to members of the History Compilation Committee over the past few months, we have decided to let you off with a warning instead."
'In other words, Ena, Karou, and Fuyuhime argued in my defense which probably didn't mean squat until I showed up with a Campione. Someone they would have to be mentally unstable to try to piss off.' He thought while doing his best not to smirk.
Instead he bowed, not enough to show respect to one's superior but as if he considered them his equals, an intentional slight on his part. He then spoke in a tone that just oozed faux-respect "I sincerely thank the elders for their kind and tender mercy on my behalf."
All of the Elders narrowed their eyes, at his words but said nothing. He then turned to the heirs and said "So, anything particular Christmas gifts I should be looking for, for any of you?"
The heir's collectively blinked in surprise, not expecting this at all. Fuyuhime recovered first, however. Smiling warmly she replied "You've done enough for me already Shushi, you don't need to get me a Christmas gift on top of everything you've already done for me."
The other Family Heir's voiced similar responses, prompting the Alaya's former Beast to reply, "Surprise it is then. Speaking of, we should probably get back to the mall now eh Luo Hao?"
"Agreed, but before I go, I shall leave you Elders with a warning…Do not threaten my Chú fèng. Do not think about ordering him around. You do not own him."
"Or my friends." he added.
"Or his friends. He is mine!-" The Campione declared
"Yea-Wait, what?" the boy deadpanned, as Luo Hao continued on, seemingly not hearing him.
"-And thus, he and his, are under my protection. If something happens to him or his and I hear of it…I will do something very unpleasant…very unpleasant. Am I understood?"
As one, the Elders assumed the Dogeza position, bowing from the seiza position until their foreheads touched the floor. Once this was done, they all spoke at once saying "Yes, Campione-sama!"
"Good. Chú fèng what was the name of the man that drove us here?" she inquired.
"Amakasu Touma." He supplied.
"Yes, him. We shall be borrowing him for a bit, as we require someone to drive us around, as well as carry our bags. What are such people called in this day and age Chú fèng?"
"Some people use the term Manservant or Butler, but I prefer Butt Monkey myself." He replied with a smirk.
"Butt Monkey? Very well. Come Chú fèng, come Butt Monkey, we have presents to buy." She had said before she left the room, leaving Touma and Emiya to follow in her wake.
"Butt Monkey, Kusanagi-kun? Do you really hate me that much?" Touma asked with a depressive sigh.
Glancing at the man out of the corner of his eye, he replied, "I don't hate you Amakasu. I just have an adamant dislike for you. After all, I could've told her to call you Man-bitch instead right?"
Amakasu Touma decided at that moment that being called a Butt Monkey wasn't so bad and resolved to put up with it smiling all the while.
Two hours later the Campione and her newly minted apprentice returned to the Kusanagi household, leaving Amakasu Touma to bring in their numerous packages and parcels. Something happened on their return trip to the mall that filled the reincarnated Counter Guardian with dread, however. While perusing a bookstore, he lost track of Luo Hoa. Only to find her in the manga section…reading shonen. Now, that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing if it weren't for the fact that the Campione seemed intent on trying to replicate the techniques she found in the manga she had been reading.
And thus, much to his misfortune, Emiya had been attempting to prevent Luo Hao from recreating both Son Goku's Kamehameha Wave, and Yusuke Yurameshi's Spirit Gun techniques. All the while also trying to buy Christmas presents. They had been arguing about this for the past two hours.
"But why not Chú fèng?"
Because-"-The boy said for what seemed to be the dozenth time-"It's too dangerous to practice such a technique in a crowded city like Tokyo."
"But think of it Chú fèng. Think of the greater heights of martial arts I could ascend to with these techniques." She said giddily.
Grimacing, he said, "I suppose I can understand that to a point."-The inner Magus in him that had awoken since his time here unable to deny the need to strive for the next great goal-"What I have a problem with is you practicing here. In a densely populated area where hundreds of thousands of people could die if you get it wrong. Where my sister could die if you screw it up." He finished.
Luo Hao blinked in surprise before saying "Oh, is that all? Then if it shall ease your conscience, I suppose I can concede to going someplace less populated to practice."
'I guess I can live with that.' He thought, sighing in relief before saying "Thank you sensei. You need to understand I was just worried about Shizuka's safety…and that of hundreds of thousands of innocent people." He muttered under his breath at the end.
"This one understands correctly, Chú fèng. Speaking of training, I do believe it is the time we begin yours. Come." She said leading him away and leaving Amakasu to his menial task.
She led him to the dojo that had been built onto the house. The wooden floors were shining due to the wax that had been applied to the floor. On the walls hung all of Emiya's old practice weapons as well as a small shelf for his books at one end of the room. A sense of peace and serenity could be felt in the room, it was a feeling he hadn't felt since he set foot on the Mariya shrine more than two months ago.
The master and student walked to the center of the room before facing off. They stared at one another for a moment, silent, before slowly, rigidly, Emiya gave the Campione a slight bow. He then asked, "What do we do first Culliain-sensei?"
Smiling at the praise even if half-heartedly given, the leader of the Cult of Five Holy Mountains replied "First thing's first Chú fèng-dìzǐ. You must learn how to gather the Qi around you to replenish your own reserves, and to do that, you must learn the Daoist Art of [Qigong]. Please assume the Agura position."
Sitting down cross-legged as she asked, he put his hands on his knees before taking a breath through his nose and letting it out through his mouth. He then asked "Now what?"
"Keep doing what you were doing. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. But, hold your breath for just a second to allow your body to absorb the qi you take from the very air, through your lungs, your Po. Then, let your breath out slowly and allow the collected energy to be transferred throughout your being. First into your heart (Shen), next your kidney's (Zhi), then the spleen (Yi), and finally your liver (Hun)." She told him, her voice barely above a whisper and hypnotically calm.
Silently doing as he was told, the retired Beast of Alaya took a breath, held it for a second then let it go. He had done this four more times before he got a very unexpected reaction…he felt the gears in his internal world begin to slowly and rhythmically turn. As the second hand on the face of a clock, the gears turned in sync with his breathing. He could feel the fires in his inner world also stoaking in time with his exhalations. This went on for a small eternity until finally he felt his circuits reach peak capacity once again.
When that happened, he opened his eyes and said "It's done."
"So I see." Said Luo Hao, who herself was in a meditative position. "It took longer than I thought it would to restore your reserves. Did you have trouble?"
Emiya shook his head. "No, it's not that, I just…have a larger prana capacity than regular Magi." He said evasively trying to skirt the issue.
"How much larger Chú fèng-dìzǐ?"
Emiya mumbled something, prompting Luo Hoa to say "Speak up Dìzǐ, this Luo Hao can hardly hear you."
"I said forty times that of an average Magus." He huffed, having wanted to keep this particular fact about himself a secret.
The Master of the Martial Realm blinked in surprise "My, that is impressive. Nothing compared to the reserves of myself, let alone my fellow King's of course. But still, for a normal human to have such high reserves is something." -She then said cheerfully- "That means I just push you that much harder before you need to stop for a rest."
'I knew I should've kept that a secret.' He had thought before he prepared for torture in the guise of training.
A week had past since Luo Hao had begun teaching the boy the Daoist Arts. It quickly became routine that he would get up at around eight in the morning, bathe, get dressed, and cook breakfast for everyone. Then Luo Hoa would train him in the Daoist Art of [Shukuchi], which usually involved him trying and failing to take a silk handkerchief from her until his considerable reserves were emptied. She then allowed him to mediate, and once they were restored, they went right back to it till twelve-forty-five. They would then stop for lunch before going back to it until it was time for dinner, at which point they would cease for the night.
The Counter Guardian didn't mind this at all. In fact, it brought back his memories of Saber and how she relentlessly trained him into the ground during the fifth heaven's feel. To him, such training was standard fair. But to anyone else, it may seem like torture.
Thankfully, the concept of [Shukuchi] was easy for him to grasp, as it mostly followed the same principle as Saber's Prana Burst. He had to shunt massive amounts of prana to the soles of his feet and, using the propulsion provided, was able to cover ground much more quickly than before. It was during one of their training sessions, that the Campione inadvertently brought up something he had overlooked.
Holding up a hand, she said, "That's enough for now Chú fèng-dìzǐ. Besides, I have many questions for you."
Coming to a stop three feet away from her, he took several deep breaths allowing his prana to refill slightly with each exhalation. After a moment, he said "Yes Sensei, what is it?"
"I was wondering about the Runes you utilized during your fight with that malformed Heretic God. Could you tell me about them?"
Grunting in acceptance he led the Campione over to his little bookshelf before selecting a volume and handing it to her. Upon glancing at the title, she said, "You may have yet another problem my dìzǐ."
Sighing, the Old Soul asked, "What did I do wrong now Sensei?"
Slapping the book into her open palm she replied "It is no fault of yours, but the fault of not having a teacher till now. Had you had one, they could have told you that combining Western and Eastern magics is rather difficult."
Staring down at the book of Eldar Futhark runes she said, "Western practices and Eastern ones never have mixed well. You would be much better off studying the Oriental rune system of I-ching."
"I am." He replied, pulling out another book on said subject and handing it to her before saying, "I'm studying runecraft in general, not just one style in particular. Besides, nothing worth doing should be easy and just because it's hard doesn't mean I should give up on it. So that just means I'll have to try harder, right?" he asked.
Not for the first time since the Master of the Martial Realm started teaching him over the past week was she both impressed and proud of both his resolve and work ethic. 'He is truly impressive. He could very well take my Young Eagle's place as head pupil to the Cult of Five Mountains at this rate.'
Nodding she said sagely,"This is right, adversity and time are the paths to real strength. For adversity brings challenge which in turn grants power. Whereas time grants knowledge and through knowledge, wisdom."
"Wise words…where did you get them from, off the back of a fortune cookie?" he teased.
Scoffing, the Campione replied "No, that was something I picked up over time. Through years of training in both the Martial and Daoist Arts."
Humming noncommittally, the Old Soul asked the ephemeral Chinese beauty "What now, should we continue?"
Shaking her head, Luo Hao replied, "No, actually, I wish for you to accompany me on my own training."
"Okay…what are we doing?" he asked warily.
"First-" She said before placing a hand on his shoulder-"We need to go somewhere a bit more remote."
There was a sudden flash of light, and when it cleared, Emiya found he was now surrounded by trees, and even though it was the middle of winter the air around him was steamy and warm. He soon found out why. Looking around he found a family of macaques soaking in a natural hot spring. Turning to his teacher, he asked, "Ok, I'll bite where are we?"
"The Jigokudani Monkey Park in the of Nagano prefecture of Wakano. I thought it was appropriate to come here as I could train without hurting anyone, and we wouldn't need to change our clothes thanks to the heat given off by the onsens." She replied in a self-assured tone that bordered on arrogance.
"A safe assumption." He conceded only to add "But I should mention for argument's sake that it probably wouldn't do us any good to stay out here for too long as we could still freeze to death."
"Bah, nonsense." She said waving away his concerns by saying "You should consider this environment training. And, should it get too cold, we can just warm ourselves up in the onsen."
"With our clothes on?" he asked dubiously.
"Of course not, Chú fèng. We'll take our clothes off first." The Campione assured him.
'Someone really needs to teach her that it's a crime to expose herself…in public…to little boys…which I technically am.' Emiya thought to himself.
Doing his best to suppress a sigh and failing, he said, "So, what exactly did you want to try out here?"
In response, the Master of the Martial Realm took a stance that was familiar to anyone who had ever seen the Dragonball series. She took a horse stance, her legs spread and knees bent, her arms were placed behind her fingers clasped together, and palms spread apart.
Then she began saying a very familiar phrase as a sphere of blue-white energy collected in her palms.
Noting that she was pointing her attack right at him, Emiya quickly got out of the way using [Shukuchi], the macaques wisely decided to do the same.
"…HA!" She finished before unleashing the massive sphere of energy from her forward thrust palms. Pale blue light had surrounded the area briefly before the sphere smashed into a nearby cliff face, causing a gigantic explosion.
When the dust cleared, the cliff was completely obliterated. Not even pebbles remained. Seeing the damage done, the former contractee of the Counter Force said dryly "See, this is why I wanted you to practice away from civilization."
"So I see," Luo Hao said feeling slightly winded, unused to putting so much of her qi into a single attack.
Seeing her looking so winded, he asked, "You alright?"
Nodding, she replied "Yes of course. I merely wished to see how much of my qi it would take to initiate the Kamehameha wave. Now, for the others."
'Others?' Emiya thought. "What others?" he asked feeling exasperated already.
Ticking off a list on her well-manicured fingers, the Campione replied "For Dragonball I wish to replicate the Kioken, Spirit Bomb, Destro-Disk, and Special Beam Cannon. For Yuyu Hakusho, the Spirit Gun, Spirit Shotgun, Spirit Wave, Black Dragon of the Darkness Flame, and Sacred Energy."
"I think we should move out of a national park then." Emiya deadpanned while pointing his thumb at the flat expanse she made just by using the Kamehameha.
"That alone reminded me of my wife when she got pissed." He muttered under his breath.
But the Campione caught his words with her sharpened hearing, and couldn't help but say "You were married Chú fèng?"
Staring up at the bright blue sky he replied "Yeah, for four years."
"Can you tell me about her?" The Campione requested.
"Sure." He said, his voice soft, lacking its usual gruffness as he began his trip down memory lane…
It was the year 2027, and after years of training with my mentor Yumi, of the Churches Executors, and helping others in battlefields where I could, something came up…something big. The Alsbury Ritual. A ritual meant to resurrect the Dark Six, the first Vampire, who would in turn resurrect Crimson Moon Brunstud, the physical embodiment of the moon and father of all Vampires. I arrived late on the scene, and by the time I did, the slaughter had already commenced. And the magi had been losing by a signific margin.
The Beast of Gaia, Great White Wolf, Primate Murder was currently gorging itself on the corpses of Lorelei Barthomeloi the Vice Director of the Clocktower, and her Canticle Brigade. Ceil-sempai's body was floating in a sphere of water, along with four of the other Executors. The body of Narbareck, the bloodthirsty leader of the Eighth Sacrament was torn to shreds next to a ghostly apparition of a vampire.
But the Vampires too had taken losses. For I noted both Rizo-Waal Strout and Fina Blood Svelten, the vampiric bodyguards of Altrouge Brunestud had seemingly met mutual destruction by the hands of Merem Solomon, and Gransurg Blackmore the Blackwing Lord.
Out of all these influential people, only two still stood. The first was a short-haired blonde, wearing a bloodstained white sweater and blue skirt. Her blood-red eyes looked at the girl across from her wearing a gothic lolita dress with nothing less than pure hate. The other, a twenty-two-year-old woman with long blood-red hair, her jeans bloodied and torn, her stomach bleeding from a three talon-like slashes. She had her cerulean eyes locked onto that of a seemingly old man garbed in a white robe embroidered with gold, embodying the mental image a typical person thought of when they pictured a magus.
I couldn't abide this. All this loss of life, and for what? Genocide? To show that one was superior to the other? Pointless, all of it. All that mattered to me was protecting the innocent…and to do that at this point…
…I would need a miracle…
Even knowing this, I walked calmly forwards, the echoes of my footfalls echoing across the vast room, drawing everyone's gaze to me. I should have been afraid. But instead, I was deathly calm.
"What are you doing? Can't you see we've lost! You're too late, run you idiot!" the redhead yelled at me.
Stopping when I was standing right next to her, l locked gazed with the old man and the young girl, both of them Dead Apostle Ancestors a group of twenty-six ancient and powerful vampires of nightmarish power. Each was given a number rank based on how dangerous they were to humanity. Now that I got a good look at them, I could only assume that they were Number Nine, Altrouge Brunestud. The Princess of Blackblood, Holder of Contracts and Princess of Dead Apostles. Next to her could only be Number Seventeen Trhvmn Ortenrosse, the White Wing Lord, and 'King' of the Dead Apostle Ancestors.
Altrouge smirked at me, her eyes dancing with sadistic mirth as she asked "You really think you can somehow pull victory from the jaws of defeat do you human?"
"You should've run when you had the chance. Now you will die like all the rest." Ortenrosse replied coldly.
Giving them both a wan smile I replied, "Well, I guess I'll need a miracle then, huh?"
"Oh?" Altrouge asked amusedly, humoring me. "And you have such a miracle, do you?"
I shook my head 'no' before I replied, "But I can wish for one, provided the world sees fit to be accommodating."
The eyes of everyone present widened in surprise, even as I raised my eyes to the heavens and said "Oh Alaya, hear my prayer and grant my miracle! In return for returning the fallen humans here to life, I will serve you after my death, to continue to protect the innocent long into the future. What say you?!"
A pale blue light fell over the area then, and a gyroscopic shape made of pure mana appeared in the air with a sphere in the center, resonating pure power. The rings began moving, the topmost one along a Y-axis, and the smaller one on an X-axis before I heard a voice in my head. It was like thousands of voices whispering the same thing at the same time.
They said, "I accept the terms of your contract. In return for the ability to enact real miracles, you shall serve me from here on. Even after death. So it is proclaimed, so shall it be."
The physical embodiment of Alaya disappeared then and after it was gone, I could feel it. The raw, unadulterated power flowing through me. I knew I could now potentially become the hero the Old Man always wanted to be. I felt confident as I locked eyes with the stunned Dead Apostle Ancestors. With but a wave of my hand, the corpses of the dead Magi were encapsulated in a golden aura before they were instantaneously teleported in front of me. Then, with another wave of my hand, their flesh and clothing magically regenerated, and as one, they all gasped as they were granted the breath of life anew.
"Get up, all of you. We have work to do." I told them all calmly while locking my silver eyes with the crimson ones of Gaia's Beast.
"And who are you to dare order me, the Head of the noblest House of Barthomeloi around Magus?" Lorelei snapped as she picked herself up off the floor.
I locked eyes with the Vice-Director only briefly, but it was enough for her to back down. After that had happened, I turned to see my sensei Yumi, looking at me concernedly.
"Tell me you didn't do something stupid kōhai." She asked in an exasperated tone.
Smirking at her, I replied, "Wish I could Sempai, but that's not the case." My face then turned grim as I met the remaining Dead Apostle Ancestors and said "In any case, we have bigger problems than what I did or didn't do right now. Lady Barthomeloi if you could handle Ortenrosse while your brigade assists the Eighth Sacrament in dealing with the other Apostles."
Scoffing, the Vice-director told me, "As much as it pains me to lend a helping hand to these religious fanatics, I suppose I can be accommodating, just this once."
"I am I to assume you would like to fight your sister by yourself White Moon Princess?"
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her nod silently. And so, that just left the Fifth, myself, and Primate Murder.
"Aozaki Aoko?" I asked.
"Yeah?" I heard her reply.
Glancing over, I saw her looking at me oddy, there was a mix of admiration and fear in her eyes. The fear I could understand, I did just bring the dead back to life. The reason for the admiration eluded me at the time, however. Ignoring the thought for now, I told her, "You're with me, we've got a mutt to put down."
Glancing at the Great White Wolf, whose hackles raised upon being called a mutt, Aoko deadpanned "Great."
"Let's go everyone."
And so, the second battle of Alsbury commenced. Not that I saw much of it. The moment I got close enough to the Beast of Gaia, I enacted another miracle. Wordlessly, a circle of heatless flames emanated from my body enveloping myself, my enemy, and my ally. When they cleared, we found ourselves on a grass covered plain, under a cloudless noonday sky. Impaled into the ground were innumerable bladed weapons from all different eras were stuck into the earth points first, like grave markers.
"This is…a Reality Marble?" Aoko questioned in awed tones.
"Yeah, suppose. I physically manifested my memories of all the weapons I remember seeing from the Fifth Heaven's Feel and beyond. This was the result." I had told her before I looked over at Primate Murder.
It was looking nervous, scared even. It took me a moment to figure out why. When I did, I laughed, prompting Aoko to ask me what was so funny.
"Primate Murder is, in essence, the physical embodiment of natural disasters that happen on Gaia correct?" Seeing the Fifth Magician nod, I continued-"Well, he's cut off from Gaia at the moment due to being trapped in my reality marble, meaning…"
Seeing her cerulean blue eyes light up in understanding amused me to no end as she shouted "We can kill him! We have an actual chance here!"
"Indeed, let's do this shall we?" I offered, before more than a dozen blades of legend rose into the air with but a thought from me.
"Let's!" she replied with a smirk as a thrumming filled the air before her legs were covered in prana that she used to lift off the ground before intoning "Missiles, Fire!"
To say that Gaia's Beast didn't stand a chance was an understatement. Surrounded on all sides by mythical blades, accompanied by salvos of pure energy courtesy of a Magician, on top of being cut off from Gaia. The White Wolf stood no chance, but I will say this, it was incredibly durable. By the time we'd finally finished him off and left the pseudo-Reality Marble, the others had finished off the remaining Dead Apostles. The White Moon Princess, I noted had longer hair now for some reason. I also noted that even with the Apostles ranks being thinned, the Canticle Brigade still suffered heavy losses. Even a few of the Eighth Sacrament had fallen yet again. Thankfully, Yumi wasn't among them.
As we approached the remaining Magi, they turned their gaze to us.
"Report!" Lorelei barked as if she were the one in charge.
Maybe it was because I was still riding a power high at the time, but I replied, "I don't recall being a part of your Canticle Brigade Lady Barthomeloi. Nor does the Fifth Magician answer to you. In fact, if you'll recall, it was I who brought you back to life. It was I who was giving orders, which you followed, earlier."
She may have backed down at the time, eyes narrowed, but I had a feeling I wasn't done with her if that glare promising retribution meant anything…I never realized how right I was…
After all was said and done, the world was saved and I went back to doing what I did best at the time, saving all I could. I didn't notice at first, but I had picked up a shadow. This person didn't make themselves known until I had a rather nasty run-in with a Vampire. One of the Neo-Dead Apostle Ancestors, by the name of Voldo Advol. He specialized in a very odd bit of magecraft that gave his body the consistency of rubber with a hardness surpassing diamond. I was having a hard time landing a hit on him due to this.
Then out of the blue, almost two-dozen bolts of energy blew Advol to pieces, leaving him as nothing more than dust in the wind. Looking at where the blasts came from my bow at the ready, I found Aozaki Aoko. She was wearing a tan cloak and a pair of goggles over her eyes because we were in the Middle East, Egypt to be specific. She was giving me a peace sign of all things and grinning like a loon.
"Aozaki…Aoko? What the hell are you doing in this roasting hell?" I asked her when I laid eyes on her.
"Following you of course." She said that to me as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. I was confused as all hell.
"Why, did I do something to offend you, I don't recall doing anything to warrant you chasing me down. But then again, Magi are a fickle bunch, so I assume Magicians are even more so."
Eh, hehehe~ I think you're confused. I wasn't following you to kill you. I was trying to figure you out. Most Magi don't go around blatantly using their mysteries in public attempting to help people or make a contract with Alaya like you did. So honestly, I just don't get you." She finished lamely.
I did the only thing I could think of at the time. I looked at Advols corpse, then back at the embarrassed and nervous looking Magician in front of me before saying "Would you like to go get some lunch?"
And so we soon found ourselves seated at a table sharing a pan of ful medames. A dish of fava beans cooked in cumin, chopped parsley, garlic, onion, lemon juice and chili pepper. It was a staple meal in Egypt.
As I ate, I asked, "So, what do you want to know, exactly?"
"Well-" She began, taking a bite of food before continuing-"I'm just kinda curious as to what drives you to do what you do. Saving people and all. Magi, in general, while capable of doing what you do, wouldn't bother doing it."
Scratching my head in thought for a moment, I replied the simplest way I could at the time, not actually understanding what I was saying "I just like helping people. My Old Man was the same way. He taught me my magecraft but said he was too old to become a hero like he'd always wanted to, so I promised to become one in his stead. To become a Hero of Justice that protects everyone."
"A Hero of Justice Hmm…" she said contemplatively. "That sounds nice."
"Thanks, most Magi laugh at me when I tell them that."
The Blue smiled at me kindly before saying "I can respect someone who strives to protect life in all its forms…" She then became contemplative and ate her meal silently after that.
After the meal, we stood off to the side of the entrance of the restaurant. And just like that, it became awkward.
"So uh-I guess this is goodbye then?" I asked feeling odd.
She nodded looking just as awkward as I felt saying, "Yeah, I guess it is."
I then smiled at her kindly and said "It was nice to actually sit down and talk with you this time and debunk a lot of those rumors."
"Eh, rumors? What rumors?" she asked perplexed.
Clearing my throat politely, I replied "Well a lot of your exploits I've heard from the few times I've spoken to Executors or fellow freelancers is that you are a dangerous short-tempered woman."
The Magician was apparently outraged. "Eh!"
"One such rumor stated that you blew up a mountain once. Just because it got in your way when you were walking in that particular direction." I clarified.
The redheads' cheeks were now as red as her hair as she fumed, "Oh you have got to be kidding me! I would never do that! This has my sister written all over it!"
I then held out my hand for her to shake stopping her temper tantrum before it could truly gain momentum and said "But I for one am glad the rumors weren't true for once. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to meet such a kind person. Thanks again for the save Aoko-san."
She looked at my hand for a moment before smiling while shaking her head and taking her hand in my own, giving it a squeeze and saying "No problem."
I then let go and gave her one last smile before I turned and began to walk away…only to stop when I felt her grab my arm in a near vicelike grip. Turning I looked at her only to find a nervous look staring back at me.
Concerned I asked, "Is something wrong Aoko-san?"
Swallowing nervously she replied "I just thought that…maybe I could stick with you for a bit? If that's ok?"
I blinked in surprise, never expecting someone as prestigious as the Fifth Magician to want to tag along with me on my meager adventures. I had no doubt she could handle herself in a fight, considering she assisted me in slaying the Primate Murder. But I still, had my doubts.
So I said to her, "Are you sure you want to tag along with me? I go where the trouble is. If you come with me, you'll see all the terrible things war and human corruption have to offer. Emaciated children being forced to act as soldiers, bodies blown to pieces by all manner of explosives, and not to mention what they do to the women…are you sure you wish to see all that?" I asked her kindly. For this was the very same reason Rin abandoned me for the Clocktower, she could only take so many scenes of gore and death before it became too much for her to bare.
Aoko's jaw set and her eyes firmed as she nodded. "I have already seen some of the worst humanity has to offer. And let me tell you, I don't like it. I, like you, want to change things. I bet we can accomplish more together than we could apart. So, what do you say, will you take me on?"
"Well, if you know what you're getting into…then I can't really stop you. Welcome aboard partner. Please take good care of me from now on." I said bowing politely.
"And you me also." She replied bowing as well.
"And that was how our relationship began." The ten-year-old finished telling the Campione, who had been sitting cross-legged attentively the entire time.
"We would delve into the harshest battlefields, bringing justice to those who started and profited off conflict. Into the most depraved Vampire lairs seeking the death of those that were no longer human. Within three months, we went from comrades to friends. At six months, we were dating. By the end of our first year together, we were married." He told her.
The Master of the Martial Realm nodded sagely, "Most would assume you were moving incredibly quickly in your relationship. But, considering your line of work, and never knowing if tomorrow would be your last day alive, it makes sense. Yet, you said you were only married for four years. So, I'm assuming something happened?"
Giving her a bitter smile, he replied "Oh yes, something did indeed happen…I died."
Seeing the none-too-surprised look on the Campione's face, I finished my tale saying "It goes a little like this…"
With the help of my wife of four years, I had just ended the African Civil War of 2032. A bloody mess that at its core involved a mix of foreign interest oil mongers facing off against blood diamond hunting warlords. It ended up consuming the entire continent as both incited and blamed other religious factions who opposed them, turning it into a full-on jihad. We were about to discreetly flee the country when the hotel we were staying in was raided by joint forces belonging to both the Warlords and the Foreign Interest Parties. I held them off long enough for Aoko to escape as my magecraft was much more…subtle than hers was. After I was sure she was away I allowed myself to be captured. I knew it was time.
I was beaten and then tossed in a dank, decrepit cell with no light for a few hours before I was dragged before a tribunal of puppets who accused me of starting this war in the first place. They said that I was to be publically executed in a week for my crimes via hanging. Then, I was tossed back into my cell. It was the eve of my execution when I received my visitors.
All I could do was smirk from my place on the ground when Lorelei Barthomeloi walked into my little slice of hell.
She looked around my cell with both satisfaction and disgust on her face before turning to me and saying "Hello Emiya, I assume you're wondering why I'm here in this…hovel?"
"I know exactly why you're here Lorelei. You're here to gloat." I replied calmly.
"Oh, so you figured it out have you? I must say, you are rather smart for an oriental." She replied giving me a backhanded compliment.
I just took it in stride, nodding and responding "Who else would bother to frame me in starting a war?"
Narrowing her eyes at me she said, "You don't seem at all surprised that this happened. Why is that?"
Giving her a wan smile, I replied "That's because I'm not. According to all known records of those who have used the Counter Force to accomplish their goals, their lives were always tragically short. Jeanne D'arc, Amakusa Shirou Tokisada are two such people known to have made a deal with the world only to die shortly after. If anything, I am surprised Alaya waited five years to come and collect me."
I chuckled mirthlessly then, saying "I suppose I should be grateful for such a reprieve, all I can think of is all the good left yet undone."
"Do you mean to tell me-"The Vice-Director said in a quiet dangerous tone of voice-"That I was merely used as a pawn?"
"Exactly that Lorelei. Don't feel too bad, though, I have a feeling the Counter Force does this all the time." I consoled her.
"And so knowing this, you bear me no ill will?" she guessed.
"Exactly…though, if I may, I do have one last request. Those are granted to the soon to be executed are they not?" I inquired.
"And what exactly would you ask of me?" the Vice-Director of the Clocktower said imperiously while crossing her arms, one of which was encased in a Mithril Gauntlet.
"All I want, is for you to leave Aoko alone. She is to play no part in your little revenge scheme. That is all I ask."
Her face was blank and emotionless for a moment before she replied "Very well, I was going to have her bound near Gazmey the Spook for the next decade, but I shall grant your request."
"Thank you," I said to her with sincere kindness in my tone, despite the fact that she was the one who orchestrated my death. Proving that even unto the end, I cared about others more than myself.
"Don't thank me you stupid fool," Lord Barthomeloi said as she stalked out of my cell without so much as a backward glance.
Not even an hour later, and I received three more visitors. They were my old sensei Yumi, along with and my old friends from high school and fellow survivors of the Fifth Heaven's Feel Ritual, Tohsaka Rin, and Matou Sakura.
"Well this is a surprise, come to say goodbye you three?" I asked politely.
Rin, ever the blunt one retorted, "No dummy, we're here to bust you out before they execute you come morning. Thanks for letting us know you married the damn Blue of all people by the way." She finished archly.
Chuckling, I replied, "Sorry Rin, it's not that I didn't want to tell you it's just that…well, Aoko thought if we didn't have a small private wedding ceremony, her sister would catch wind of it and find some way to ruin it."
"You still could've told us." She grumbled as she used a quick incantation in German to destroy the sigil-inscribed chains binding him to the wall.
"Do you think you could win an argument with a Magician, Rin?" when she didn't reply I finished "Yeah, that's what I figured."
I then gave her a kind smileas I responded to all three of them, "Ceil-sempai, Rin, Sakura, stop there's nothing you can do."
Sakura, ever concerned about me asked, "Sempai, what do you mean?"
Sighing, I told them exactly what I told Lorelei earlier. Once I was finished, they were all silent for a time. Rin was the first to regain her composure and speak.
In a tone tinged with despair she said, "So that's it then, there's nothing we can do?"
"Sempai, there must be something we can do, right?" Sakura asked hopefully, even as tears streamed down her cheeks.
Ceil otherwise known by her Eighth Sacrament codename of Yumi spoke last, saying, "There's nothing we can do is there kōhai?"
Both Sakura and Rin looked ready to protest right before I interrupted, "For me dying? No, not a thing. But, there is something you three can do for me…a last request of sorts."
"Name it." All three women said at once.
Taking a deep breath, I said to the trio, "It would put my mind at ease if I knew someone was looking after Aoko after I was gone. You think you three could keep an eye on her for me, make sure she doesn't do anything crazy because I died?"
The three women looked at each other then back to me before Ceil inquired "How exactly? Aren't you two constantly on the move?"
"Yeah well, that's the thing. We were planning on heading back to Fuyuki and settling down for a little while after this business in Africa. Yes, we were married, but we rarely got to spend time together doing normal husband and wife things. I could tell that's what Aoko wanted, at least for a little while. So chances are, she'll be at my old house in Fuyuki." I told them.
"Then I think we can manage without too much trouble Emiya-kun. After all, I am the Second Owner, with Sakura acting in my stead during my time at the Clocktower." Rin replied her tone somehow haughty, superior, and sad all at once.
"And I am fulfilling the role as Fuyuki's new priest, since Kotomine's…passing," Ceil said, noting the scowl on my face. She knew well my dislike for that man.
I then noticed Sakura taking several deep breathes. Concerned, I said to her, "If there is anything you need to say to me Sakura, now would be the time to do it. I don't think you'll be getting another chance."
Putting her shaking hands in her lap, she said, "Ano, I know you're happily married Sempai, and I'm happy for you. I really am, but…before tomorrow, there is something I need to tell you…"
"Go ahead Sakura-eh?" I couldn't finish saying her name properly as she suddenly kissed me right on the lips.
When she pulled away a moment later with tears in her eyes, silently begging for an apology as she said "I'm sorry Sempai, but I've liked you for a very long time. I just never had the courage to tell you until now, mere hours before you're… before you…Oh Sempai!" she said before she threw her arms around my neck and started crying.
"Oi, Sakura-," Rin said, her tone shaky and her eyes filled with unshed tears-"If you go breaking down like this, there's no hope for me you know?"
"Rin what-"I didn't get to finish. As once again, I was kissed on the lips by an old friend before she started crying into my other shoulder. Only this one kept on talking, berating me through my tears while weakly hitting me in the chest.
"Stupid, stupid Emiya-kun! Why the hell are you so damn dense! Why could you never tell that Sakura always had a crush on you…that I had-"She then let out an annoyed groan and said "You are going to be that same lovable moron until the end aren't you?"
Shrugging, I replied, "I guess so Rin."
All of a sudden, Ceil threw her arms around the trio before she gave her student a chaste kiss on the lips.
"S-Sempai, you too?" I asked entirely baffled by what had happened over the last few minutes.
Ceil gave a brief nod of her head before saying "There is also a certain lady in Misaki Town who would've liked to have been here, had her brother and sister-in-law not stopped her…a certain informant and weapon procurer you know?" Ceil added when she saw he didn't make a connection.
I blinked once, twice, three times before finally coming to a realization and saying, "Akiha-san?"
Again, the priestess of the Eighth Sacrament nodded. This caused me to inadvertently shiver and say "No offense to Akiha-san, but I'm semi-glad she wasn't more forward with me…"
Before Ceil could ask why, I finished "Because if Satsujinkiever found out, I don't think I would have to worry about dying here."
This caused the curry-lover to laugh despite the situation and say "Shiki isn't that bad Emiya-kun. Besides, he knows all about Akiha's crush on you."
"He does…and I'm still alive?" I queried.
Ceil-sempai seemed to be taking joy in my discomfort. It was something I was beginning to think was inherent in all priests who were also magi. After a moment, she said, "Oh yes, I do believe his exact words were, "He may be a dumbass, but he means well. So I know I can trust him with my sister." Nice of him ne?"
"Coming from him? Very." I mumbled to myself as Shiki and I just never could get along. We respected each other to be sure, but we disagreed with one another's reasons for fighting.
I fought to save everyone, even people I didn't know. Shiki viewed this as suicidal and pointless to stick one's neck out for strangers. He meanwhile fought only to protect Arcueid or his family. I viewed this as selfish and cold. For he had the power to protect hundreds of thousands of lives with his Mystic Eyes of Death Perception, yet only used them to protect those close to him.
Shaking away such thoughts, I realized that, according to my mental clock, the guards would be coming for me in about an hour. So, with a heavy sigh, I said to the three "The guards will be coming for me soon. You should go."
Final farewells were exchanged, and then the trio left me to my last hour of life in solitude. I stood tall and defiant when they finally came for me and walked to the hangman's noose with my head held high…I died with no regrets.
"And that's it." He finished with a shrug.
Yet the Campione shook her head in response and replied "No, it is not; because if it was, you wouldn't be so jaded. Tell me, Chú fèng, what happened after you died, what were you forced to endure for the next ten thousand years?"
Giving her an annoyed look he said heatedly "Do we have to talk about this now? Can we just go home, it is Christmas Eve after all." He pointed out.
Her jade eyes softened and she nodded said in a kind understanding tone, "Of course Chú fèng. Come, let us be off."
This time, instead of just putting her hand on his shoulder, Luo Hao wrapped him in a gentle hug, surprising him. He was so stunned he didn't notice that they had arrived back at the Kusanagi residence for a good couple of minutes and just allowed the Campione to hold him her gentle embrace. Finally she spoke, saying "I don't know what happened to you Chú fèng, but whenever you wish to talk about it, this Luo Hao shall be willing to listen."
Letting out a tired sigh, he replied "Thanks. C'mon lets's go see what everyone else is up too."
We stopped at the entrance to the living room to find the others setting the table, two buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken with sides for dinner. They all, Ojii-san especially, smirked when they saw us enter.
Upon seeing their looks, I asked, "What…seriously what the hell people?"
"Godou, language please." Chiyo chastised.
Sighing and mentally cursing the fact that I was but ten-years-old not for the first time replied "Sorry Chiyo-obāsan. I'm a bit grumpy. Guess it's because I'm hungry. Seriously though what is so funny?"
"Onii-chan, look at what you and Luo Hao-neechan are standing under." Shizuka teased.
Looking up all the boy could think was 'Oh, shit.'
For both he and her were standing under a piece of mistletoe. Casting the Campione a nervous glance, he found her semi-glaring at the plant while asking "Chú fèng, just what is that plant doing hanging here?"
"Well, according to tradition, if a man and a woman are both standing under a piece of mistletoe during Christmas they need to kiss." He told her blandly, already knowing where this was going.
Fixing her gaze on him she said, "Is that so? Well, if tradition demands it then so be it."
Without preamble, she picked him up and kissed him full on the lips. Everyone else probably thought she was going to give me a peck on the cheek or the forehead or something. But I knew her better than that by now. I knew that Luo Hao Cuilian had no grasp of social norms whatsoever. If she felt the need to change he clothes she did so right then, regardless if a man was present and if she decided to kiss someone she kissed them. No half measures.
After about five or six seconds of feeling her feather soft lips on his, he broke the kiss. Mainly because he heard his grandfather say in the background "That's my boy-Ow! Chiyo, stop hitting me!"
The silence that followed was both deafening and awkward to say the least. Without having to say anything, the Campione put him down. Emiya promptly headed towards the dinner table without saying so much as a word.
"Are we just going to ignore what just happened?" Mayo said at last.
"Kaa-san, for the sake of your sanity, I think you should just sit down and eat." Her son told her calmly.
And so, dinner was consumed, and soon after all in the Kusanagi house were tucked into their beds, all but one…
"Chú fèng?" A familiar voice called.
Not even bothering to sigh or roll over, the boy pulled his blankets aside and scooted over. Every night for the past week, Luo Hao had slept in his bed. He felt his futon give a little as she lay down next to him, and then, as had become their custom, she wrapped her arms around him and pulled him into her.
"You know, you're going to have a really hard time getting to sleep at night after you go back home. After all, I won't be there to cuddle with." He teased her.
"That I will…I don't suppose you would be interested in training with me in China?" she offered, sounding surprisingly honest to his ears.
"No, sorry." He was silent for a time before he rolled over. Looking her in the eyes, he said, "You wanted to know what changed me correct?"
"I did," The Campione murmured with a nod.
"What changed me was finding out what being a servant of Alaya, the collective human consciousness, really means. I had hoped that by becoming a Counter Guardian, I could continue to save more lives even after my death." He grimaced silently for a moment before continuing "In a way, I suppose that did come true. Even after death I was able to protect billions of lives…by taking millions of them."
'What does he mean?' the Campione thought to herself, a cold pit of dread forming in her stomach.
"For you see; the job of a Counter Guardian is to act as a janitor more or less. When and wherever humanity comes close to bringing themselves to the brink of utter destruction, we are sent into purge the area and kill all those who could possibly know anything about these events."
"You don't mean?" she asked, only for him to nod and say "Yes entire families were killed by my hand. Men, Women, children…babies. Anyone who was in anyway connected to an event that caused me to be summoned required purging. As so long as there was even one survivor, the chance it could happen again, yet remained."
After a time, he continued. His voice having become flat and monotone, "I tried to resist. I really did, but all my effort was for naught. All that got me in the end was my free will stripped from me. Then I was forced to watch, like a passenger in my own body as it slaughtered innocent after innocent for millennia after millennia. The only reprieve I hadhad been the Grail Wars. I would be summoned, I would usually fight, lose after an epic struggle against some of the world's most renown heroes of legend, and then go right back to work. Slaughtering those who couldn't fight back."
"Oh, Chú fèng," That was all Luo Hao said before she drew him even closer to herself.
The former Counter Guardian said nothing, but the fact that he did not pull away meant he accepted the Campione's embrace. They then drifted off to sleep. Only this time, it was Luo Hao who was doing the comforting.
He was awoken by the sound of Shizuka yelling out "Merry Christmas everyone! C'mon Onii-chan, we've got presents!"
The dark-haired boy grumbled good-naturedly before getting out of bed, giving the Campione a nudge as he did so, and saying "Merry Christmas Luo Hao."
"Merry Christmas Chú fèng." She replied with a yawn before sitting up, while rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.
That done, she asked, "What does Christmas tradition dictate we do now?"
"We go to the living room, and open presents…after we get dressed of course."
"Of course," The Campione had said before she started stripping out of her clothes, before walking over to one of his drawers and pulling out an outfit she bought when they went Christmas shopping.
'I swear the Root is causing shit like this to happen to me.' He thought as he watched the shameless Campione change into a silken royal purple Chinese Hanfu Shenyi dress, clothing that was relatively common during the Han Dynasty but was becoming popular once again. It consisted of a Yi, a narrow-cuffed, knee-length tunic tied with a sash, and a narrow, ankle-length skirt, called Chang, worn with a Bixi, a length of fabric that reached the knees.
He knew all of this as when they returned to the mall and she found manikins displaying said clothing, she went into a full diatribe about what each piece was for before buying several outfits. By the end of their shopping spree, he was reasonably sure that Luo Hao, should she ever tire of being a King, could make great headway into the fashion business.
Suppressing a chuckle, he changed into a black T-shirt and black and red stripped pants before heading down the hall to the living room. Only to find the Old Man and his Jiji, physically holding Shizuka back from attacking a small mountain of presents.
"Oh good, you're both here, now we can open presents," Mayo said while handing us both mugs full of hot chocolate.
"It took you both long enough to get out here," Shizuka complained.
Smirking at her from over the rim of his mug, her older brother replied "Sorry Shizuka, we were getting dressed…now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure I forgot something in my room. Hang on a sec."
"Not funny Onii-chan!" Shizuka shouted at him.
Still managing a chuckle or two, he said to his elders "You can let her go now."
The moment they let her go, she savagely attacked the poor defenseless pile of presents. Tossing those that did not have her name on them towards their proper owners before tearing into the ones that did have her name on them like a fierice predator killing its prey.
Both the Campione and the brother of the girl nearly found themselves bowled over as she slammed into them, yelling and holding up one of her gifts. "Did you see what Santa brought me?"
For from Luo Hao she had received a pink qipao embroidered with silver dragons throughout its length. From her brother, she got a matching pair of pink hair ties that she felt she would be wearing year around. When he saw the Campione about to open her mouth in protest, he promptly stomped on her foot before pulling her down to his level and whispering in her ear, "Don't. It'll crush her if she finds out Santa Clause isn't real."
The Campione frowned for a moment before she silently nodded and began unwrapping the surprising amount of presents that bore her name. Upon opening said gifts, she gave the young boy next to her a heartfelt hug. For inside she found the complete series of Yu Yu Hakusho, and all the volumes up to the current one in Bleach, One Piece, and Naruto.
It was the day after Christmas and the former Beast of Alaya was thinking. Something he seemed to do more and more often of late. As usual his thoughts drifted to the Campione, who was sleeping in his bed. For in truth, though he knew she would be leaving soon…he found himself not quite ready to part ways with the egotistical woman. And for the life of him, he couldn't begin to understand why.
'Maybe it's because she has an inkling of what I went through since I told her about Aoko?' Mentally sighing he thought, 'And I hadn't thought of her in so long too…'
Straightening at his desk he said in a resolute whisper, "I've decided."
Having made up his mind, he quietly went to the kitchen and began to cook. By the time he had finished setting the table, the rest of the people in the house had started trudging their way into the dining room, lured from their beds by the smell of food. He watched with some amusement as both his Old Man and Jij shambled into the room like the Dead, grunting and groaning for coffee instead of brains. Silence reigned after everyone was seated, some with steaming mugs of coffee in their hands. Looking at the spread of food her son had laid out, all Mayo could do was look at him and say "This is a bribe. You want something don't you son."
The way she said it made it sound like a statement, not a question. Giving his mother an innocent look, he replied nonchalantly "Kaa-san, what makes you think I want something?"
Smiling at her progeny Mayo replied, "Because, you're my son…and I've done the exact same thing a time or two before I started working from home." She ended sounding sheepish.
"Why am I not at all surprised to hear that?"
The Kusanagi matriarch resisted the urge to wince at the flat deadpan tone her son just used. She had intended to spend time truly getting to know her son during his two weeks off from school. However, his heroic actions and the arrival of Luo Hao changed all of that.
'Just give him time, and he'll come around.' She thought to herself, even as she said "Oh now, no need to be like that honey. I'm just saying I know a bribe when I see one. Which leads me to wonder what it is exactly you want?"
Mayo watched her son intently as he closed his eyes and sighed. Eyes she noted that had lightened several shades since she saw him last. Finally, his eyes opened again, and he said "Your right Kaa-san, this is, in fact, a bribe. As for what I want well…"
Mayo frowned when her son took longer than expected to reply. She was about to ask him if he'd lost his train of thought when her daughter beat her to it. "Onii-chan, did you fall asleep at the table?"
Ruffling his little sister's hair good-naturedly he replied "No Shizuka-chan, I'm just trying to think of how to correctly say what I want to say."
"How about you just say it?" the baby of the family suggested.
Chuckling he said to her "You are just full of good ideas today huh?" Turning to the adults at the table he said, "I want us to…escort Luo Hao back to China. Of course doing so would mean spending Chinese New Year's over there which I think could be an excellent cultural experience."
"You've grown really attached to Hao-neechan haven't you Onii-chan?" Shizuka noted as she finished swallowing an omelet.
Giving his little sister a sideways glance he asked her, "What makes you say that?"
"Ano…well, it just seems like Hao-neechan can take care of herself. But you insist on seeing her home. Sure seems like your attached to her-"
Shizuka suddenly gave a gasp of surprise before she pointed an accusing finger at her brother and said teasingly, "You like her, don't you Onii-chan?!"
The whole table was silent, looking at the young boy expectantly. Even Luo Hao herself flicked her eyes over to the young boy as she continued eating, waiting for him to answer.
Shrugging, he replied to the young girl's inquiry "Well yeah, of course, I like her Shizuka. Just like how I like you, and all my friends."
The young girl cocked her head to the side for a moment before she nodded. Seeing she understood and mentally patting himself on the back for dodging an awkward situation, he turned back to his parents and said "Well, what do you think?"
The age old guardian of humanity watched as his 'mother' stroked her chin in thought. Glancing at her husband, she said "Gendou, can we afford to go to China?"
"Sure we can." He told his wife confidently.
The married couple turned to the Chinese beauty when they heard her politely clear her throat. "Actually, if you wish to spend Chinese New Year's with me, then I could easily arrange for everything."
"Dear, you don't need to do that-" Mayo began. Her own mother giving a supporting nod only for the Campione to shake her head and reply, "No, you have shown me both kindness and hospitality. I would be remiss if I did not even attempt to return the favor should you decide to escort me back to my native homeland. Besides, I am quite well off. So getting you all to China and putting you up for New Year's would be no trouble." She finished waving off their concerns.
The parents of the Kusanagi household looked at one another before looking towards their grandparents and saying "What do you think?"
"Sounds like a grand old time to me, seeing as it lets me mix business with pleasure-I'm a folklorist." He explained to both his grandson and his guest, upon seeing their confused looks.
Deciding she was finished with all this talk, Luo Hao clapped her hands, getting everyone's attention. Then, she said, "I suggest you all go pack while I make a few phone calls and arrange for your stay while in China for the New Year."
Seeing the looks she was receiving she said, "Unlike most countries, Chinese New Year's lasts half a month. We must leave shortly if we are to participate in the holiday properly."
"Oh. Well, you heard the lady everyone, let's go pack." He said before excusing himself from the table and heading to his room to pack, the rest of his family quickly doing the same.
As he left the room, he could hear the Asian beauty talking to someone on a prepaid phone he convinced her to buy and taught her how to use.
The boy had quickly packed a suitcase full of clothes and after he had done that, he noted he likely had time before they had to leave. So, he decided to visit Yuri and let her know he'd be gone for a little while. He couldn't have her worrying about him unnecessarily after all, and if he left without a word, that's exactly what she would do he was sure. Leaving his suitcase by the front door, he quickly left the house, donning a black coat before reinforcing his legs and shooting off towards the Mariya Shrine.
He landed amidst a thin layer of snow that covered the grounds of the shrine proper, sending up a small cloud of snowflakes as he impacted amidst the cold ground. He walked calmly forwards, intending to just knock on the door and ask to talk to the eldest of the Mariya sisters. Instead, the moment he neared the door, it opened and Yuri herself came out, wearing what he'd gotten her for Christmas.
It was a white silk kimono that had fluttering sakura pink petals decorating its length as well as a pink obi holding it shut. The garment looked like it fit her perfectly, he was glad he managed to guess her size correctly. Smiling at her kindly he said, "Hi Yuri."
"Godou-san Merry Christmas." She said warmly.
"Merry Christmas…so, you liked my gift then?" he asked awkwardly.
The boy found himself being hugged once again as the Hime-Miko said, "I love it! Thank you, so much…" she finished in a quieter tone.
"You're welcome." He told her, feeling even more awkward while patting her back.
She suddenly became slightly solemn saying, "But, I didn't get you anything for Christmas."
"Don't worry about that, I'm just glad you like my gift."
Yet Yuri looked up at him from her position in his arms and shook her head saying a bit stubbornly. "No, that isn't right-" She then cast her gaze around in thought for a moment before it settled on the Ema board. An idea coming to her, she said, "-I know, you tell me your greatest wish, and I'll do my best to grant it."
"My wish huh?" Emiya said seemingly lost in thought.
The chestnut haired Hime-Miko nodded an earnest look adorning her beautiful face.
For a moment, Yuri thought he wasn't going to speak, so lost in thought was her friend. She was about to shake him and ask him if he was ok when he spoke in a far off tone "I wish for a world without pain, strife, or suffering. A world where children are not raised to fight and die for their beliefs. Where warriors are not sent to far-off battlefields, without actually knowing why, and where lives need not be lost for reasons of religion, territory, or profit. That is my sincerest wish. For a world where humanity as a whole worked together instead of trying to mercilessly tear each other apart."
Yuri stared into her friends' eyes as he spoke his wish, and she saw something that didn't belong there. Pain. Indescribable amounts of pain. Like an old ache that never quite went away or a soldier that had seen too much. But no, this? This went deeper, Yuri could tell this torture, this agony, whatever it was, and whatever caused it, gnawed at her best friends' very soul. Mariya Yuri saw pain the likes of which didn't belong in the eyes of a ten-years-old.
She was about to ask him just what happened to him to get such a look in his eyes. But then, another voice, one full of regalty, and authority interrupted her before she could so much as form the words.
"Ah Chú fèng, there you are. I had wondered where you ran off to. Are you saying your goodbyes to your little friend before we depart?"
Looking behind her friend Yuri, beheld a Campione for the first time. She was almost indescribably beautiful. With skin like ivory, hair like silken ebony, her eyes the color of warm jade, and her figure the definition of womanly beauty. She was decked in the most decadent finery, a silken purple robe that had phoenixes running throughout its length, held shut by a golden silk obi.
Separating from her friend, she bowed low and deeply to the King of China, showing the woman proper respect due to her station. Yuri could hear the sound of snow crunching underfoot as the Campione approached her. Once they couldn't have been more than three feet away, they stopped. The brunette haired Hime-Miko held her breath and waited, wondering just what the God-Slayer would do. For she had not been idle while at Chibuku. No, while Godou trained Fuyuhime, she was taught how to better harness her [Spirit Vision], while also reading up on all the available information of past and present Campione. All her reading taught her one thing…
If a Campione were displeased or felt slighted in any way, it could lead to the destruction of the city if not the country in which they currently walked. And so, the Hime-Miko waited filled with equal parts hope and trepidation. First one second passed, then two, before finally, the Rakasha Raja laid a hand on her head and said "That kimono looks very becoming on you, little one."
The chestnut-haired girl jerked in surprise. She never expected to be complimented by the King of China. She felt the hand move from its place atop her head. Then she heard Godou-kun saying, "Well, Luo Hao, are you going to let her stand up or are you content to use her head as an armrest?"
Yuri looked up at her friend in shock, afraid she was about to see him be reduced to naught but ashes amidst the snow. Yet the Campione merely put her hands on her hips and scowled half-heartedly at her friend for a moment before saying "Tch, that acid spewing tongue of yours strikes again I see. One of these days I really will have to do something about it." She warned faux threateningly.
Raising an eyebrow, the boy asked, "Like what kiss me? Oh, wait, you already did that, Pedo-Campione."
Said Campione had a staining of red on her cheeks then. Yet, she continued to attempt to defend herself, "You said it was a tradition!"
"Yeah, but you didn't have to plant one on me like you did. A peck on the cheek would have sufficed…That is…unless you really do have a thing for young boys?" He said looking at her sideways.
Yuri looked back and forth from her friend, who was relentlessly teasing a God Slayer of all things to said God Slayer herself. Luo Hao looked somewhere between embarrassed, mortified, and…shy? The Hime-Miko couldn't understand why such a display of emotions would be on the five-century-old Campione's face.
Finally, Luo Hao's face became stoic and in an iron-hard yet flat tone she said, "Enough."
Raising his hands up defensively while smirking, the boy replied, "Fine, fine. Whatever you say…pedophile." He whispered under his breath.
The Chinese beauty glared at him but said nothing on the topic, instead saying, "Have you said your goodbyes to your friend?"
"Goodbyes? Godou-san, are you going somewhere with Luo Hao-sama?" Yuri asked her 'friend.'
Locking eyes with her Emiya nodded, saying "Yeah, the reason I came over here was to tell you I'd be spending New Year's over in China."
A look of surprise had crossed her face before Yuri said "Oh, I see. But you could have just called me couldn't you?"
The Counter Guardian nodded, saying "I could have, but I felt you deserved to be told in person. Plus, I wanted to see you one last time before the New Year. Then we need to get back to the old grind of schoolwork and teachers."
Hearing this warmed the Hime-Miko's heart. She hadn't seen her friend since they departed from Chubuku, and when she heard from Ena that he had befriended a Campione, she couldn't help but worry for his safety. She feared her friend had been made little more than a slave to the fickle whims of a Slayer of Gods. Yet, according to reports she'd received from Ena, her worries were unfounded, as Her Eminence Luo Hao appeared to genuinely care for Godou and he for her.
But this revelation brought a new kind of fear to her mind, thoughts that only became more prevalent 'What if he likes her better than m-I mean us? What if he wants to go back to China with her?'
These thoughts only became louder and more presistant as the days passed without her best friend visiting her or for him to always be 'out with Luo Hao' whenever she and the others came to see him at his home. With but a few words however, her worries vanished and her mind was put at ease.
"Ano, so you're seeing Luo Hao-sama home?" she inquired. Upon seeing the boy nod, she held up a finger saying "In that case, can you wait here for a minute? I have something for you."
A look of confusion crossed the boy's face as he watched the girl dash into her house, only to return moments later, holding something behind her back and looking nervous.
Seeing her on edge, Emiya asked, "Yuri, is everything ok?"
Nodding rapidly the girl replied "Oh, yes. I just…here, I made this for you. For Christmas, I wasn't sure wheter or not to give it to you as its nowhere near nice as whaht you got for me..." She managed to get out through her embarrassment before she handed him a small hastily wrapped package.
Taking it, he gently unwrapped it, revealing what lay within. It was a scarf made of red silk. Pulling it out he saw it trailed down well down to the floor, pooling at his feet. Emiya ran the silk through his hands for a moment before he locked eyes with her and said "You made this?"
"Y-Yes. I made it long because I figured you could grow into it." She said nervously.
The Former Beast of Alaya smiled a little before wrapping one end of the scarf around his neck several times, and allowing the other end to hang behind him, just below his knees.
"I feel like Viewtiful Joe." He mused aLuod to himself.
"Who?" Yuri inquired.
"Never mind." He replied quickly forgetting that the game, not to mention its console were not out yet.
It was a two-hour forty-three-minute ride from first class from Tokyo to Shanghai. When they arrived, the group was greeted by a group of thirteen people in Gi headed by a boy a little bit younger than he was. As one, the group bowed to Luo Hao and the boy said, "Welcome back Ra-"
Suddenly, the boy and all those with him were clutching their heads in pain and Luo Hao was standing behind them, looking displeased. Staring at the young head of the procession she chastised "Clearly, you and the others have been slacking in my absence Lu Yinghua. For if you had been as diligent in your training as you were before my absence, then you and the others would have been able to easily avoid those blows."
"I apologize Your Eminence." The boy said through the pain.
Only for the Campione to wave off his apology and say "It merely means I'll have to stop babying you all and train seriously. For if I am to not only get you back in shape but get you to where you were supposed to be at this point in time, I'll need to be stern with you all."
'She calls the hell she's put us all through 'going easy on us'…were all going to die.' Lu Yinghua thought in abject horror.
The Chinese Campione then clapped her hands together twice, bringing her disciples out of their inner torments to say, "Now I know you're all excited to have my glorious self returned to you. And are eager to get back into a routine, but that can wait until after New Year."
All the members of the Cult of Five Mountains mentally sighed in relief, that their torture had been postponed.
"For right now, I have guests to entertain. You twelve, go and retrieve any bags that bear my name or any bearing the last name of Kusanagi. Lu Yinghua, lead us to the car." She said imperiously.
Without a word, the group rapidly took off to complete their assigned tasks. In under ten minutes, they were all packed into the back of a long black limousine which was quickly making its way out of the airport and into the city of Shanghai proper. As the capital of one of the largest countries on the planet that were only dwarfed by Russia in sheer size, it was naturally bustling with people. Vendors selling various fast foods seemed to line every corner, paper lanterns hung everywhere giving off a warm orange glow. Emiya also noted several groups of men were throwing dice as they pulled up to a lavish looking hotel.
He couldn't begin to guess the name as he couldn't read Chinese. But, considering the entire place seemed to be made of black liquored wood, fine silk, and marble he bet it was a high-end place. They followed the Campione inside across a carpet of royal purple silk with a golden eastern dragon embroidered on it. Upon reaching the front desk, the woman was handed a bronze key.
"The key to the penthouse suite Madame, as requested." The majordomo said.
They then took the elevator to the top floor while bellhops handled their luggage. Once they reached the penthouse, an apartment that was situated on top of the building underneath a reinforced, and slightly tinted glass dome. The apartment itself had wooden floors, all black leather furniture, a kitchen full of stainless steel, and Persian carpets were scattered tastefully here and there. There was also room enough that they could each have their own room, should they desire it.
Giving an appreciative whistle, the youngest male Kusanagi said "Wow, nice digs. So, now what do we do to properly celebrate New Year's in China Oh, illustrious country native?"
Looking around the place herself, the Campione nodded as if everything was up to her standards before saying "For today, we do nothing. The holiday does not officially begin until tomorrow. Two days before New Year. I wanted us to arrive early so as to sleep off the jet lag."
Emiya was silently thankful for this. Although he was mentally prepared for jet lag, being physically able to handle it was another thing altogether. So he said, "Well, in that case, I'll see you all tomorrow."
He then fled to the room which had his suitcase placed in front of it, and would not be seen again until the next morning at breakfast. When he awoke, it was due to the smell of food cooking. Throwing on some clothes, Emiya left his room to find Luo Hao cooking something in a big pot on the stove.
"Morning Luo Hao. What's cooking?" he asked by way of greeting.
Turning around with a ladle in hand, the Campione replied "Good morning to you as well Chú fèng. As for what's in here." She said motioning towards the pot "This is Laba porridge, something traditionally eaten on the day's preceding New Year. It's usually eaten along with Laba garlic, a type of pickle."
"Hmm, sounds good to me." He said.
Once the others joined them at the table, they dug into the meal but not before giving the traditional word of thanks. After it was finished, it was Shizuka who asked "Now what do we do Luo Hao-oneechan?"
"Well, usually this would be the part where we would give the house a thorough cleaning, but as we are staying in a hotel, that isn't necessary. So how about we all go sightseeing little one. Does that sound like fun?"
Nodding enthusiastically Shizuka replied, "Yeah!"
And so, Luo Hao became a tour guide for the day, showing her guests all the sights and sounds that Shanghai had to offer. By the time they got back to the hotel, it was late, nearly midnight. Exactly as she'd planned.
Suddenly, the sound of an explosion filled the air, followed by many others. Shizuka looked up peering through their domed glass roof and her older brother followed her gaze, already having a good hunch about what was going on. Just as he assumed, fireworks were going off en mass above their heads.
"It's begun! This is the official start of the Chinese New Year, the fireworks are being let off to welcome the gods to earth." Luo Hao said over the din.
That was how the Chinese New Year began, with a bang. Over the next thirteen days, feasts were had and red envelopes full of money were exchanged. The second day was the Birthday of Cheng Kung, the Protector General, and all of them went to a shrine to have their fortunes told. When Emiya's turn came, he felt an ominous feeling overcome him as an elderly woman threw tiles carved of ivory, each emblazoned with an I-ching symbol in front of a wooden booth.
"Oh my, this is auspicious indeed." She said in a creaky tone of voice.
"What is it?" he asked already mentally cursing his luck.
Looking at the boy at her and then back at the runes she replied "Well, according to this, you are destined to do great things. To become a leader, savior, and defender of men."
Sighing, the boy replied "Just my luck." Before he walked away.
On the third day; it was considered ill fortune to leave the house or receive guests. Which, of course, meant Emiya received a guest, a rather odd one at that. He'd gotten up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water. Only to find a regal if portly Chinese man sitting at the kitchen table eating a bowl of leftover Laba porridge. He had a fumanchu mustache and was garbed in an emerald silk robe with sleeves of gold that were covered in a swirl pattern wearing a scholar's cap on his head. But his mode of dress wasn't the most remarkable thing about the man. No, that honor belonged to the divine godly aura he gave off.
It was an aura Emiya had felt once before in an ice cave from an entity that was more beast than anything else. He had a fully-fledged Heretic God sitting in front of him. Slowly, he approached the God, his muscles tense, and he said stiffly "Don't you know its bad luck to receive visitors today?"
This caused the man to smile and say "Too right young man. But I am merely doing my job. Ah, but where are my manners? I am-"
The Former Counter Guardian cut the Heretic God off hoping to throw him off, unnerving him by saying "Your name is Zou Jun. You're the Chinese Kitchen God, and he who reports the good and bad deeds to the Jade Emperor, who then decides whether or not that family will have a blessed or cursed year."
Emiya's eyes flicked to what the God was eating. Then he said, "Supposedly, leaving Laba porridge out for you is supposed to glue your mouth shut so you can't tell the Emperor bad things about a family…I don't think it works." He deadpanned upon seeing how quickly the God sipped at the porridge.
Instead of being surprised or even angry, the Heretic God chuckled in mirth. The boy couldn't help but think at that moment that he was dealing with Chinese Santa Clause.
"Oh you are truly well informed aren't you?" Zou Jun said jovially. "Then again, those Eyes of Steel you possess must be quite handy yes?"
Before he could ask what he meant by 'Eyes of Steel' the God of the Kitchen continued, "Yes, I am the Zou Jun.m I have come here specifically to meet with you in person."
"Why?" the boy asked, suddenly on edge.
Still smiling, the deity replied, "Because, the Jade Emperor himself has taken an interest in you. It started when you slew that ancient and malformed…thing." Zou Jun said his brow crinkling in a blatantly apparent look of distaste. The first he'd shown in the entire meeting.
"That mish mashed corpse? You know what that thing was?"
"Oh yes, such was Guan Yu's anger that it took a direct command from my Emperor himself for him not to descend to the Mortal Plain and slaughter the beast himself."
"You still haven't told me just what that thing was."
Seeing the God of the Stove give a curt nod, the boy asked "So, what was it?"
"As I said, we do not usually speak of them…but considering what you have done for not just humanity, but for all of divinity as well, I shall tell you. They are sickening twisted Primordial Ones. Those who existed before the world was young, and thus before the laws of the world. When they walked, things beyond human imagining had claimed all lands as their own, and humans were only just coming into their own. Their age was of dominance was one of darkness, despair, and stuff of night terrors made flesh. The reign of the Primordial Ones was only brought to the end by the Great Demiurge; their great cities and immortal servants and kin washed away to make way for humanity and us." The deity said gravely.
"From the way you're talking, they're not dead." The boy noted gravely.
Chuckling mirthlessly, the God said, "Can an ideal actually die so long as belief in it continues to exist?"
Sighing, Emiya replied in a tone that spoke of one speaking from experience, "No, no it can't."
"I see you understand. My Lord shall be most pleased to hear this." The god said before standing up and placing his now empty bowl on the counter.
The deity of the hearth nodded, "Yes, I believe I've learned all I needed to. I am inclined to think milord will be most pleased with what I have to tell him."
And with that, the Heretic God faded from existence, retreating back to the Realm of Immortality. And, for the remainder of his stay, the boy was distracted. For he was filled with a sense of dread, one that would grow steadily over the coming year until finally reaching a head, when his best friend, Mariya Yuri, was kidnaped…
Chapter Length: 21,690 words – Date Completed: 9/11/15 – Fully Betaed as of: 9/30/15
AN: IT. IS. DONE! That's right everybody, the next chap of Youngest Campione is finally here for your viewing pleasure. It is also the longest chapter I've ever written for anything ever. Phew, am I glad it's done as next chap we finally get to do that thing you've all been waiting for! Yep, Emiya finally becomes a Campione next chapter and it is gonna feel so good to able finally write that.
I'm sure some of you were wondering what took me so damn long to get this one out. Well, my real life situation has recently become quite complicated and in betwixt me trying to deal with everything that's going on, it's rather hard to find time to sit down and write, much less the motivation needed to actually do said writing. But I pulled through and you all get a chapter to read, so I guess, in the end, that's all that matters right? Well anyway, enough of my blathering! I hope you enjoyed the chap, please review if you did…
Hell; please review if you didn't as I love constructive criticism. The keyword here being constructive. Until next time, remember to tip your waitresses people!
Also, Bubbajack, Diller, and William Wiltrose out!