Another chapter, another day. I'm not going to write the longest chapters with this story. With AOB and ROTE I would try to keep the chapter length to 10-15 K words, but I'm not going to force it with this story. Not only is there too little material to work with, but I felt that forcing it would make the quality of the chapters fall. I'm going to write as much as I feel and then upload the chapters, no worries about deadlines or minimum word requirement aside from the absolute minimum of 5,000 words.
Seeing as there is so little material from the Light Novel available, I'm going to keep things rather vague for now. Things will happen, but not like they'll happen in the LN, that's for sure.
One of the things people are worried about is if I'm going to nerf Shirou. I'm not going to nerf him, but I feel like people are underestimating the characters from DanMachi. While none of them are Heroic Spirits, they are superhuman in their own sense. Remember, Shirou wouldn't stand a chance against a real heroic spirit on his own either. He won against Gilgamesh because Gilgamesh was a collector just like Shirou, not a warrior who dedicated their life to a single weapon.
As for the Magic Resistance I gave Shirou, it's the DanMachi variant, not the Nasuverse one. The reason it started at E was because he had survived an incredible amount of magic damage in his life so as a result he had already gained a stronger Magic Resistance than most humans normally do. To make a comparison for how useful it will be I decided to explain DanMachi spells and Nasuverse rank in this story.
Single-action spells are similar to Bell's Firebolt, but the power behind it is depending on the user's level. Therefore, a single-action spell used by a Lvl 6 adventurer who specializes in magic could break through B-ranked Magic Resistance. It's the caster who counts in Danmachi, not the spell itself. Ryuu Lyon's Luminous Wind would be something similar to an A-rank spell.
Of course, Saber could kick any sorcerer's ass to the next Tuesday if she was in Orario.
As for how effective the Resistance is, I'll leave that for future chapters to reveal.
I'm going to stop now, please enjoy the chapter!
Edit 2015-09-11: I've been getting a lot of comments about nerfing Shirou and how his stats should be higher and how Magic Resistance doesn't work like that. So to better explain it (better than I did before anyway) I decided to include it in this chapter's AN instead of the next.
The earlier explanation about MR was about DanMachi's Magic Resistance, not Type-Moon's. I'm well aware that Nasuverse's MR is not as I explained, that's because I tried to explain the DanMachi's equivalent. The only reason I used A-rank as an example was to describe what the Danmachi's power could be. Please don't write to me, telling me that there is no way what I'm saying is correct. I know that already. I know it's my own fault for being vague about the MR, but was I really that vague?
About Shirou's stats and his levels, It's exactly as Hestia said: Shirou is a level one. Even after fighting Archer, defeating Gilgamesh and saving the world, Shirou had not received the falna when he did it. The falna takes the experience you've gained and converts it into stats, but they can only do so after you've gained the falna. It would have been awesome if he could have gained the XP to level up to LVL 5 immediately, but that's not going to work. The reason for his MR is because he was recovering from severe magical damage when he received the falna and gained MR as a result.
The guild was impressive, even Shirou's worldly eyes had to admit it. The immense height of the tower called Babel was unprecedented in his world of modern architecture and design. To think a world in its Middle Ages would be able to build something as impressive as the behemoth in front of him was shocking to say the least. It dwarfed Tokyo tower in height alone, he didn't want to think about how much it weighed. Considering the entire tower was built using rock and mortar, the weight would have been unlike anything he had ever seen before.
"Are you surprised, Shirou-san? Didn't think Babel would be as large as I made it seem, right?" Bell asked, the white haired boy munching on a jagamaru-kun as they walked to the guild. "I remember when my grandpa would tell me about it and how large it was. I never really believed him until I saw it for myself."
"I have to admit, I was not prepared for the sheer size of it. It looks more like it's one huge pillar rather than a tower if you asked me." Shirou answered, slightly stunned by the immense structure looming overhead. Like a tombstone, its grey exterior didn't make it look very hospitable.
"That's one way to put it." Bell agreed, smiling awkwardly.
The boy beside him was called Bell Cranel, the second member of the Hestia Familia. Just like Hestia, the boy was painfully honest and wore his heart on his sleeve. He was the kind of person one had to like, whether it was because the kid was as hyperactive as a rabbit on a sugar rush or because he couldn't tell a lie even if his life depended on it. Everything pointed towards the boy being the pinnacle of innocence. His build didn't seem to do him any favours either, seeing how the kid looked like a stick had grown white hair and put on some clothes. Why the boy had decided to become an adventurer had been his first question, but for some reason Bell had refused to answer. Shirou could guess however, children tended to have embarrassing dreams in their early teens, although Bell certainly didn't looks like the average teenager. With an age of fourteen and a face befitting of his age, he looked decidedly out of place with white hair and red eyes.
Not that Shirou had any right to point it out. He had known he would get white hair eventually, the downside of meeting his future self, he simply hadn't expected it to be quite so early. Despite being no older than nineteen years old, his hair had already gone from red to mostly white from overuse of projection. Only a slight tuft of red had been left of his original hair colour before he had been transported to Orario and whatever magic had been used in his travel had snuffed whatever red from his head like water on fire. He was now sporting snow white hair only on his scalp, hanging over his eyes due to lack of decent hair dressers in the Middle East. His skin, while not as dark as Archer's, had already begun to tan. Even other Japanese people had begun to mistake his ethnicity, several guessing he was from India or other countries nearby.
"Well, standing around won't get us registered as adventurers. How about we go to the guild before we do anything else?" Shirou asked his younger companion, receiving an enthusiastic nod in response.
Becoming an adventurer was more complicated than Shirou had expected at first. He had assumed he would simply join a familia and go into the dungeon to fight monsters, kicking ass and taking names on the way. Instead he had been told that he had to register with the guild before he could join a familia at all. After that he needed to meet with the advisor in charge of the familia and go through his papers and whatnot. It was only after he had done those things he could enter the dungeon.
As to why he had decided to join a familia… Well…
The ground was scorched, the grass and trees which had been growing there just a few days ago had been burned down to ash. The entire area, a clearing about the size of a football field, had been reduced to a black crater. The stream which had been crossing the clearing had instead entered the large crater and was in the process of turning the crater into a small lake. If he focused hard enough he could actually see fish swimming around in the shallow water, having followed the stream only to be dumped into a small puddle.
"And this is where you found me?" He asked the goddess next to him. Hestia nodded sadly.
"Not here exactly, you were a few meters out of the crater. You looked like you had been crawling away from it. It was kind of scary, to see a human hurt so badly and still trying to move." She said, shivering as she did so.
Shirou didn't blame her, it wouldn't be the first time he had moved his body under impossible circumstances. While he had no memory of the 'transportation', he was fairly certain he could remember something about him crawling on the ground surrounded by fire. It could have been after he had been brought to this world, but it might simply be a memory from Fuyuki fire. Sometimes it was a hassle to be surrounded by fire so many times in his life. He couldn't even tell the fires apart anymore.
The only thing he could tell was that the fire was magical in nature. The heavy scent of prana lingered in the air like a blanket of heat. He could barely breathe without the smell of magical energy irritating his nose. There was no doubt about it; whatever had brought him here had been something related to The Kaleidoscope. He had spent so much time with Rin and Luvia after they had returned from their lessons with Old Man Zelretch to recognize the scent of True Magic anywhere. The chances of Zelretch being the culprit just increased exponentially.
The problem with that theory was that the method used didn't match Zelretch's Modus Operandi. Dumping someone into an entirely different world might be fun for the old vampire, but beating someone half to death and burning the area he was dropped into in an attempt to cause further damage wasn't something The Kaleidoscope was known to do. As much as the evidence might point towards Zelretch, Shirou doubted it was him. Zelretch had already pranked him once by dumping him into a rainforest filled with cannibals and vicious phantasmal species, but he had done so with 'style'. He had told him beforehand what he was going to do, and while it didn't give him time to escape London before Zelretch went through with it, it did give him time to prepare himself for the long and tiresome journey back home.
This was cruel, plain and simple. Someone had attacked Shirou, beaten him soundly in a fight, hurt him using magecraft or magic capable of giving Avalon a hard time healing it, dropped him into a different dimension while causing a fire which would have killed anyone else. If that wasn't cruel and sadistic then Shirou didn't know what cruel and sadistic was. Although he was fairly sure he knew what cruel and sadistic was since it felt like something Kotomine would do to someone as a way to kill time.
For the time being, he could only say he had no idea what was going on. The only clue he had to returning home to his own universe was the burned crater in front of him, but he had no way of investigating it at the moment. At least the prana surrounding the area wouldn't be going away any time soon. The cloud of prana was almost as thick as that of the Holy Grail when it was about to activate. The prana in Fuyuki Park had clung to the soil and air like flies around a corpse. With any luck, even if it took ten years to reverse engineer whatever brought him here, the prana wouldn't disappear on him.
It was a dim silver lining, but it was better than nothing.
"So do you remember anything?" Bell asked, looking unsure if he should really ask such a question.
"Nothing much I'm afraid. I think I remember crawling out of the crater, but nothing else." He answered, feeling somewhat guilty over lying to the innocent duo.
When they had kept on asking him questions about things he had no idea what they were about they had come to the conclusion that he suffered from amnesia. Miach (Once again, The Irish GOD of medicine) had arrived and had conveniently explained that traumatic experiences, such as horrible fires, could cause memory loss. Not that he needed to tell Shirou that, he had already lost his memory in a fire once, he had no desire to repeat the experience.
Hestia and Bell had accepted the semi-lie (He had lost his memory in a fire, just not this one) and he had spent the rest of the day lying in bed, trying to recuperate. It wasn't until the next morning he had asked them to bring him to the place they found him.
"Oh well, I'm sure it'll come back to you at some point. You know what they say; good things come to those who wait." Hestia said optimistically.
"Kami-sama, I don't think that's what the expression means." Bell tried to explain to the oblivious goddess (it still sounded weird in his head, to refer to the tiny girl as a 'goddess').
"That's alright, I know what she meant. I'm just a little worried, that's all. I have no idea on what to do from now on." He said, smiling at the two. They were almost too comfortable with each other to have met just a few days ago. Like lifelong friends, they understood what the other thought almost like telepathy. Hestia heard what he said and smiled.
"If that's the case, then fear not, my forgetful friend! You can always join my familia and become an adventurer!" She said proudly in a pose suitable for a king addressing his subjects. The effect was ruined somewhat by the girl's short stature and his own rather impressive height, but it didn't sound like such a bad offer. He'd have a job where he wouldn't need to disguise his magecraft and he'd be helping the goddess out of a rather financial crisis, if what Bell had told was the truth and the church was as rundown as it looked.
"Okay." He accepted her offer immediately, albeit Hestia didn't seem to register his answer at first.
"I understand, not many people would want to join the familia of an unknown goddess like… wait what? Holy cow, are you serious?"
It took about an hour to calm her down from her celebratory state.
As much as Shirou wanted to explore the dungeon, the enormous building known as Babel wasn't their destination today. Instead they were heading for the guild's headquarters, the Pantheon. A relatively small building, it was surprisingly large once they entered. It resembled a bank more than anything else, the bars over the exchange counters and the sleek but elegant design of the employee's outfits. The interior of the building was built mainly with wood, giving him the impression of a western bank. Staff of various races could be seen scurrying around, carrying mountains of paper in their arms or lecturing adventurers about the dungeon. He tried to pick up on what was being said, but could barely make out a word in the cacophony. It appeared they had stumbled onto what could be called a busy day.
Manoeuvring amongst the adventurers to avoid bumping into anyone, he grabbed Bell by the collar to make sure the boy kept up. Unlike Shirou, who had plenty of experience in battle and had developed talent for reading body movements, Bell was as green as could be and crashed into whoever he could. Dodging, Shirou noted, would have to be the first thing he needed to teach his fellow familia member.
Luckily for them, most of the adventurers were there to exchange their crystals for profits so the advisors by the counters looked positively bored by the lack of activity. Dragging the white haired boy beside him, they arrived at an empty counter.
"You okay?" He asked Bell, eyeing the boy with a careful eye. Bell was almost painfully shy and a lifetime of living on a secluded farm didn't help him much in dealing with large crowds. Standing inside a room filled to the brim with strangers and deadly looking adventurers, Bell looked every bit like a frightened rabbit, ready to bolt at a moment's notice.
"Yeah, I'm just not… used to large crowds, I guess." He mumbled, embarrassed over his apparent weakness.
"I wouldn't worry about it. All we need to worry about right now is getting registered as adventurers, everything else comes later." He assured the boy, even as he fought down the stress he was feeling himself. To be honest, he had no idea how anything in this world worked. Was there any prerequisite they needed to become adventurers? If so, what could it be? Hestia hadn't mentioned anything like it so he assumed not, but there was always a chance they assumed he already knew about what was required. In the end, starting a life in an entirely new world was hard work, regardless of who you were.
"Apologies for my tardiness, the exchange booths needed an extra hand in dealing with the afternoon traffic." A gentle voice spoke from the other side of the counter. Both of them looked in direction of the counter and saw a woman standing there, dressed in the black vest and white shirt the guild staff wore. She had shoulder length brown hair, emerald eyes behind oval glasses and…
"Don't worry about it, we understand completely." Shirou assured her, still staring at her ears. They weren't human ears, that much he knew, but what could they be. He knew that there were several races in this world, Hestia and Bell had told him so, but they hadn't told him what kind of races there were. If his knowledge of fantasy was correct then she would be an elf, wouldn't she?
"Is something wrong?" The woman asked. She had noticed his stare and by the looks of her frown, she had not appreciated it.
"No, not at all, I'm just surprised to see an elf. It's my first time meeting one, that's all." He hastily explained. Was it rude to stare at an elf's ears? Probably, since it was rude to stare at someone in his world he could assume it was the same here.
She raised her left eyebrow, unconvinced of his words. "Really, it's your first time seeing an elf? In Orario?" she asked suspiciously. Whatever he had said must have sounded weird because she now looked at him with suspicion in her eyes.
Had he said something wrong?
"Ah!" Bell said, waving his hands in front of Shirou to get the advisor's attention. "I know it sounds strange, but he's telling the truth. Shirou suffers from amnesia and can't remember anything from his earlier life. He's only met me and our god so far, so I apologize if he's kind of weird."
'Weird'? He wasn't that weird! He'd like to see Bell get dropped into a world where everything he knew was wrong and gods didn't exist. Then they'd see just how weird he was.
Bell noticed the expression on his face and the young boy froze as he realized what he had just said. So the boy was the kind of person to speak before they thought about what to say. Interesting, he would need to file that way for the future.
Regardless, it seemed Bell's explanation had calmed the advisor and a hint of sympathy had entered her eyes instead. "I see, that would explain it then. I'm sorry for overreacting, it must have been quite a shock for you. In case you're wondering, I'm not a full blooded elf. My mother was one while my father was human so I'm a half elf. Please accept my apologies." She apologized in a half bow. When she straightened up again she was smiling welcomingly.
"Don't worry about it, you couldn't have known." He assured her with a smile of his own. "I'd prefer it if we could just move on instead."
"Absolutely. Welcome to the guild! My name is Eina Tulle and I'll be your advisor for the day. How can I help you?" She asked, a smile on her gentle features.
Once he got used to the rather pointy ears of the girl in front of him, he noticed that she was just like any other girl. He had imagined that elves would be rather distinct in their behaviour in comparison to humans, but Eina acted like she was just another human with odd ears. It was a pleasant experience actually.
"We want to become adventurers and were wondering exactly what we had to do? Our goddess said we needed to register at the guild first." Shirou said, curious as to what he needed to do before he could enter the dungeon. Seeing how this world worked would be rather interesting, if his theory about it being in the Middle Ages was correct. In his world everything was digitalized and stored on servers and hard drives. He couldn't even begin to explain how everything worked if you asked him, but technology had done wonders in terms of organizational ability. How would a world brimming with magic, but lacking in even the basic technology cope with registers and tax controls?
"Your goddess would be correct. All adventurers must check in with the guild before they receive the falna and undergo our basic education in adventuring to ensure they know the rules and guidelines once they set foot inside the dungeon. Failure to do so will result in a fine up to 50,000 valis." Judging by Bell's audible gulp, 50,000 valis was apparently a lot of money.
"I'm glad we listened to her then. So what do we need to do?" Seeing as Bell still looked like a frightened rabbit, he needed to take the reins in the conversation to make it go forward. They'd be stuck here all day if Bell had to be the one to talk.
"First I need the name of your god. I need to find their entry in the registry." She said, picking up a large leather bound journal the size of small coffee table from underneath the desk. How such a small girl could pick a book twice the size of her torso was beyond him, perhaps it was a result of her elven blood?
"It's Hestia, starts with a H." He answered her question. The advisor opened the leather book, looking up the names which started on H. The list appeared to be quite large, seeing how the entire page was covered with the names of different gods written in tiny letters. He knew there were a lot of gods, but he had no idea just how massive the different pantheons were.
"She doesn't appear to be here. Are you her first adventurers? If so, I'll have to add your goddess to the list." She asked them, eyeing the two of them. "Are you perhaps related, by the way?"
"Not that I know of." He answered with a amused look at Bell's confused expression. "I'm pretty sure Bell would have told me if that was the case. Why?" They didn't look very similar, that was for sure. Shirou had red hair when he was in Bell's age and their skin tones were way different. Not even their eye colour was the same.
"You don't see many young people with snow white hair so I assumed you had some kind of relation to each other." She noted amused.
"Hmm, I guess you're right." Their hair was the same white as the snow, though Bell seemed more comfortable in his hair colour than he was. He had seen his future self try to kill him wearing the exact same face and hair he saw every time he looked in the mirror. He doubted anyone would be comfortable in growing into the very thing which hated you. "And yes, we are the first people to join her familia."
Nodding to herself, she picked up a quill and added something to the journal. "Name: Hestia Familia. Now for your names? Let's start with you, Mr White and pale?" she looked at Bell first and the boy flinched under her gaze.
"B-Bell Cranel, age fourteen!" He stuttered out nervously. "First adventurer of the Hestia familia!"
Giggling at the boy's nervousness, she quickly wrote down what he said. "And you, Mr White and tanned?" She asked Shirou, referencing his tanned complexion and white hair.
"Emiya Shirou, age nineteen. Second adventurer of the Hestia familia." He echoed Bell's way of introduction smoothly. Eina Tulle smiled as she noted down his words into the journal.
"Alright, that's the first step of the registration. Now I need you to fill in these forms for me. I take it you know how to read and write?" she asked the two of them, handing them both a sheet of brown paper filled with questions concerning the soon-to-be adventurers. Or at least he assumed they were about the adventurers. He could readn't a single thing on the form, not even the tiniest letter. He blinked and brought the paper closer to try and decipher the text, but he couldn't make heads or tails of it.
"Umm, Shirou-san? Is it possible that you… can't read?" Bell asked cautiously. After a moment of hesitation, he reluctantly nodded.
"It's not that I can't read, it's just I can't… read this script. I must have forgotten the language here in Orario." He said, reluctant over admitting his illiteracy. It wasn't that he couldn't read, he was actually pretty good at Japanese and his English had improved immensely after his trip to London. The simple fact was that he had never imagined that the written language would have been different in this world, which in hindsight was pretty damn obvious it would be. That the spoken language was Japanese was amazing, considering Archer's E-rank luck. He was sure that luck stat would have applied for him as well.
"Don't' worry about it, we sometimes get adventurers who don't know how to read or write so we're supposed to help them out when that happens. I'd advise you to at least learn how to read basic texts though, it helps more than you know." Eina said, a gentle smile on her face.
They spent the next half hour going through the form, Shirou asking her what that particular word meant and her telling it what it did. This world seemed to follow a distorted version of the Roman alphabet, with some letters resembling their European counterparts more than others. It helped little however since he had a hard time seeing exactly what the letters were and what the complete word was. Going through the form several times he was finally satisfied with the result. Bell had already finished his ten minutes before Shirou did, the kid having been able to read and write the country's script. Seeing the younger familia member finish before he did brought back memories of classes with Taiga and watching Issei get perfect scores each time while he struggled to get an acceptable.
The form wasn't really that hard actually, it mostly contained questions about his age, personal history, hometown and his personal skill with various weapons. Aside from his age and name, he had to leave much as a simple blank. The only thing he was able to write anything on was his experience with weapons. While he preferred swords, he could manage with whatever weapon he could get his hands on. Eina gave him a look which made it clear she didn't believe a single word he said, but she did as he said and wrote down his expertise with whatever bladed weapon he could think of.
"Alright, with this you are officially registered adventurers in the Hestia familia. Before you can enter the dungeon you will need to receive the falna from you goddess and return here to finalize your registration." She said, finally. "But before you go, I need to ask you two a question. Do you possess any armour or weapons?" She looked them over and found them lacking. No weapon or armour, they were both dressed in whatever clothes they could find. Shirou in particular looked ridiculous as an adventurer. He had been forced to wear whatever clothes they could find for him, as Bell's clothing was meant for someone of his own size and Shirou towered over the boy like a bus over a Volkswagen beetle. With a pair of dirty shorts and a sleeveless shirt, he looked more like a beach bum than a fighter.
Pulling out a knife from underneath his shirt, Bell replied rather weakly. "I have this, it's a gift from my grandpa."
Eyeing the knife, Shirou supressed a sigh. The knife, while beautiful, was way too delicate to be used in combat for more than an emergency situation. It was much too thin to counter a blow with and the tip was too weak to puncture through anything but the softest of tissues. It was likely to break if it struck a bone.
Eina seemed to share his opinion. "That knife will only get you killed in the dungeon. You'll need proper weapons if you want to go beyond the first floor. Have you thought about taking a guild loan?" the advisor asked, putting the journal under the desk and placing their forms in a binder with the rest of the rookie adventurers.
"Can't say I have, what does it entail?" Shirou asked on both their behalves.
"The guild supplies weapons and armour for the new adventurer for a fee, but if the adventurers can't pay the price then they can buy them with a loan. I can take you to the armoury right now if you wish?" The half elf advisor asked them, a concerned look on her face.
Thinking about the ups and downs, Shirou nodded carefully. He didn't need any new weapons, his own armoury of Noble Phantasms keeping him well stocked with any sharp object he could possibly need, but armour was another thing. Having armour could save his life in case he fought a monster he hadn't expected. It was better to be careful from the start rather than to find out later on that monsters could kill him. Better safe than sorry…
There was also Bell to consider. The boy was in all honesty an amateur. He had zero experience in battle and no skill whatsoever. He belonged in a familia with only another adventurer and Shirou couldn't be there to help him all the time. He would need proper gear before he ventured into the dungeon to earn a living.
"We'll take a loan for gear and weapons." He said resolutely. Bell looked unsure, but nodded in agreement.
"I- I'll do that as well." The white haired boy said, mimicking Shirou as he stood stiff as a board. He must be incredibly uncomfortable, standing in a crowded room talking about his lack of money in front of a girl. It was better this way though, at least he wouldn't get killed on his first day in the dungeon.
Eina smiled as they accepted the offer. "That's great!" she said cheerfully. "I might add that we also sell clothes for adventuring. Wouldn't want to go into the dungeon looking like you stole the clothes from a homeless person, would we?" she teased him and he felt his face heat up a few degrees.
"That's a good idea." He relented.
Stretching his arms, he felt a hint of satisfaction as he tested out his new clothes. He had spent a few minutes searching for something similar to his old clothes, his faithful white and blue shirt being his ideal target, but he had not found anything like it unfortunately. He had hoped to find something he could have related to in the large stockpile of clothes the guild possessed, but he had not been able to get his hands on anything like his old clothes. His disappointment had been expected however and was very short-lived. He instead picked a pair of black trousers and a white long sleeve shirt. He felt rather lucky in his choice of coats, being able to snatch the last black coat from the rack, avoiding the dull brown ones that were left.
They didn't look all that much and the design wasn't the greatest, but Eina had been correct when she said they were meant for adventurers. The clothing was easy to move in and the fabric was light, but durable. They were perfect for reinforcement, giving him the edge he needed in a fight.
Having found the clothes he wanted, he went to the room Bell and Eina were in. Leaving his old clothes in a folded pile on the table for someone who could have some use for them, he entered the armoury.
It was as you'd expect; filled with armour. Some had been dismantled and packed into crates while others had been put on stands and showed the complete product. His reality marble drank them in with glee. While they were armour and not blades, he could still record them in Unlimited Blade Works for future reference. Steel, bronze, leather and iron armour were analysed and added, his eyes roaming over the room with the focus of a hawk on the hunt. Some of the suits of armour were better than others and those he made certain to pay extra attention to. Spotting Bell and Eina conversing over a crate of light armour, he walked over to the duo.
"Find anything?" He enquired. The two of them looked up from their conversation and Bell gave him a wide smile, a dagger in his hands.
Seeing such a young and innocent kid holding a lethal weapon while smiling sent a chill down his spine. There was something wrong with this picture, Bell should never be happy about a weapon meant for taking a life.
Then again, he wasn't the most stable person in the world either.
"Look at this! I found a dagger and it feels perfect! Eina-san said it only costs 3,600 valis. I think I'm going to buy it!" Bell said, practically jumping with excitement. Looking at the dagger in Bell's hands, he analysed it for a few seconds. The steel used in the production was average, but the blacksmith obviously knew what he was doing. It was a mass produced blade, but it was of surprisingly high quality. He had no idea if it was worth 3,600 valis, but it was probably one of the better weapons in the guild's armoury from what he had seen. Turning to the advisor, he asked the question which had been plaguing him for a while.
"Eina-san, how far into the dungeon do you think we can go with guild gear?" He asked the half elf.
Shirou was used to fighting monsters and humans, but his world had nothing akin to a dungeon. He could prepare himself accordingly, but he would much prefer to hear the opinion of a person who worked with adventurers every day. 'Preparation makes perfect' as the saying went.
…Or something like that.
The advisor put her thumb under her chin and closed her eyes in thought. "Going by the gear Bell chose and the fact that your familia doesn't have any experienced adventurers, given time I think you can reach the fifth floor. You probably shouldn't go any further than the third floor within the first month or so, but by then you should be able to afford better equipment." The half elf said, giving the armour on Bell's body a second look.
So this kind of gear could get you to the fifth floor? Interesting, but what did she mean by floors?
"How many floors are there and what do they do?" He continued, locking his eyes on the advisor like a predator on the prowl. This was vital information, he couldn't believe he had missed it before. When he thought about it, Eina had mentioned something about the first floor earlier. Rin would have been firing Gandrs at him for hours if she ever found out about his mistake. He should have learned from his time in the Holy Grail War.
"You don't even know that?" she asked, disbelief clear in her voice. Bell sighed beside her, obviously agreeing with her opinion.
"I know you have amnesia, but even I knew that the dungeon had floors." He whispered, but quickly shut up when Shirou gave him a blank stare. Having understood the issue in dealing with amnesiacs, Eina took a deep breath to calm herself.
"I know you're curious about the dungeon, but I will go over that in the primers after we pick out the gear you'll be using. It's mandatory for all adventurers so just wait for a few minutes and I'll tell you." She explained, picking up a breastplate and holding it out for Shirou. "Try this."
Putting the breastplate over his coat, he grimaced. The metal was too heavy for him to use it effectively and the size was too small for it to be of any use. "I don't think this one is going to work. It doesn't fit and it's too heavy for the size of the plate." Putting the piece of armour down, he looked around the armoury. "Is it alright if I take a look around by myself?" Receiving a nod from the advisor, he went off into the large warehouse.
He had to give it to them, the guild knew their stuff. While the armour kept in the guild's possession wasn't the greatest, all of it was of good quality and well maintained. Despite the vast collection of armour, he could tell that most of them were made by the same blacksmiths. Seeing how the guild was responsible for the newer adventurers, it was logical that they would have cut a deal with the local blacksmiths in exchange for steady business. A standing order for beginner's armour meant easy money and more adventurers who survived their first days in the dungeon meant more business. It was a win-win situation.
That however meant that the flaws of a single blacksmith would affect the entire collection. Excess weight and uncomfortable fits was common in the gear he found and he had trouble finding anything he could use without issue. Bell had gotten lucky it seemed, to find a set of light armour which seemed to fit him like a glove. How he had found it so fast was something he intended to ask the boy later, but for now he needed to find something to wear while adventuring.
He finally settled on a set of light armour, similar to the one Bell owned. Gauntlets, grieves and a breastplate made from relatively light steel were in the wooden crate he had chosen, nothing more than the absolute basics. He had opted out of the heavier plate armour since it would hinder his movements and he could always reinforce his armour in case he needed more protection. This was merely the beginner's armour, not something he would be using for longer periods of time.
Finding the weapon he'd be using was much easier. He didn't really need to choose a weapon from the guild's merchandise, with his collection of Noble Phantasms it would be a waste of money. Eina would be suspicious of him if he didn't however so he merely picked the cheapest weapon he could find. Looking over the vast array of sharp objects the guild had to offer, his eyes landed on a spear and its price tag of 400 valis. It couldn't even hold a candle to Gae Bolg, but it would suffice until he could reveal his magecraft. Putting the crate underneath his right hand, he picked up the spear with his left.
Perhaps he could qualify for the Lancer class if he used a spear?
"Have you chosen already?" Eina asked when he returned. Looking down into the crate, she gave him a surprised look. "Not bad, you have an eye for quality it seems." Her eyes landed on the spear he had picked and frowned. "Or not. Being a cheapskate is a good way to get yourself killed in the dungeon, you know. The choices you make early on in life decide if you can survive later on."
"I'll make it work." He said simply. He couldn't reveal he could use magic, not yet. He had a plan for that, but he couldn't do it in front of the advisor whom he had just informed he had amnesia. It would have to wait. She seemed to relent, if only to move onto the next subject.
"Now that we have your armour and weapons…" She gave a pointed look at the dagger in Bell's hands and Shirou's spear. Shirou's weapon in particular earned a disappointed look. "…We can finally begin your first lesson in Dungeon Primers: The Idiot's Guide to Surviving In A Dungeon!" by the twitch in her eyes, it was obvious she had not been allowed to change the name.
He had been right about Bell.
He had zero experience in battle.
Dodging the simplistic attack Bell had thrown his way, he retaliated by grabbing the boy's arm and throwing him over his shoulder. The white haired boy landed on his back and had the wind knocked out of him. Trying to get up, Bell was pushed down when Shirou's boot landed on his chest.
"Stay down and rest. We're taking a break for now." He said, his voice reminding him of a drill sergeant he had seen in a film before. Hearing those words, Bell collapsed on the ground in exhaustion. Gasping for air, he gratefully accepted the bottle of water Shirou handed him. He gulped down the cold water like he was part fish, emptying it in less than half a minute. Considering the size of the bottle it was an impressive feat.
It was a shame his technique wasn't as amazing as his water drinking skills.
"Now do you see why we shouldn't have gone to the dungeon right away?" He asked Bell, the white haired boy still recovering from his exhaustion.
"Because I'd get killed right away?" He asked carefully.
"Exactly, and that's why we need to get you ready for combat as soon as possible. Every day we will practice your technique, everything else will have to be developed as we go." Shirou informed him. Stamina, strength, speed and endurance could be attained in the dungeon, but technique required years of practice. It couldn't be trained in the same way as the other stats.
For years he had used stats as a way to refer to Saber's outlandish abilities, but never had he imagined that one day he'd be referring to his own powers with the same word. The thought that he'd be able to refer to his strength the same way as Saber did was exhilarating to say the least. He knew he wouldn't be able to compete with Saber in a battle of pure strength, her insane Strength stat was ranked A, but being able to put a number on his physical prowess was making him more giddy than a child in a candy store. Perhaps he would be able to match Archer's speed one day, if he ever met his future Counter Guardian self.
"Yaahooo! Goddess Hestia has arrived!" A loud, but sweet voice said from inside the church they were currently living in.
When Shirou had first set foot into the old church he had assumed the area around it was a cemetery. Large fields of grass stretched out in front of it while large stone walls covered the back and the sides of the church if seen from the front. What he had assumed to be tombstones were actually simple rocks which had belonged to the buildings which had once stood in the area. After whatever catastrophe had destroyed the surrounding buildings and chased away inhabitants, the whole area had been left to rot. As a result the neighbourhood had been given the name Ruins of Orario, a fitting name considering the state the buildings were in. Hestia had told him the cost of restoring the area was higher than simply moving to a new neighbourhood so it would have been the logical conclusion.
Bell and Shirou were in the empty field which could be loosely called the backyard. While the area wasn't as large as the dojo he had back home, it was large enough to exercise in. It was a useful spot for training, with lots of room to move around in and the fresh air to remove the stench of sweat they would no doubt soon be covered in. A tiny pond attached to a stream was located in one of the corners of the yard and he was sure he had seen a fish catch a fly resting on the surface.
"We're out back, Kami-sama!" Bell yelled out, a bright smile on his face, making hard to believe just a few hours ago the boy had been shaking in his boots at the prospect of standing in a room filled with strangers.
The head of the miniature goddess emerged from the broken window, showing a smile which was almost an exact mirror of Bell's own. "Oh, are you practicing?" she asked, eyes wide at the armour they were wearing.
"More like Shirou-san is playing around with me. He's too strong to be a beginner like me, where did you learn how to fight?" Bell asked as he sat up on the ground.
"Who knows? I couldn't tell you, since my memories are kind of messed up right now." He answered, taking a gulp from his own water bottle.
"I guess you're right." He laughed while scratching the back of his head. Suddenly his eyes opened wide and he looked at the goddess by the window. "Ah, Kami-sama! Now that you're here, can we receive the falna?" The excitement from before had returned in full force and Shirou swore he could see sparkles in the boy's eyes.
Fighting the urge to ask for it as well, he couldn't deny he was looking forward to seeing his own stats. Eina had told them how the stats and levels worked and although he was disappointed they didn't work like a servant's stats, it didn't remove the anticipation he was feeling. If he became stronger with the power of falna then he could save even more people, proving he was a real hero. He would succeed where Archer had failed, and become an hero of justice.
"Oho, a little eager for your blessing, are we?" Hestia teased the boy, giggling at his blushing face. "Alright, let's get inside and get started! You too, Shirou! It wouldn't do for one of my two favourite adventurers in my familia not to receive their blessings at the same time." She said with a grin.
"I don't think I need to mention that we're the only members of your familia right now." He said, deflating her momentarily big head. Hestia pouted, but quickly recovered her composure.
Good, arrogance was the enemy.
Since Bell had joined the familia before Shirou did, they had agreed to let Bell go first. A lot of good that did, the white haired rabbit… boy had lost his eagerness and was more nervous than he did back in the guild. Lying down on the bed with Hestia straddling his back, he looked ready to faint. Watching the petite goddess stab her finger with a sewing needle and let a drop of blood fall onto Bell's back, Shirou was shocked when blue ghost-like light emerged from his skin, taking the form of several numbers and glyph-like figures. A black tattoo stretched out on his skin, twisting and turning as the dark bruise swelled and grew. It finally stopped, depicting what appeared to be a roaring fire over a hearth.
Wasn't Hestia the goddess of the hearth?
As the light faded and Hestia allowed Bell to rise, the tattoo faded from his skin. It seemed the status was only visible for a small amount of time, or it was only visible when a god activated it.
"Congratulations, Bell. You're now the first official member of the Hestia familia." The goddess said happily, a grin on her gentle face. "Aren't you happy to be the first adventurer ever to be something so incredible?" The grin turned sly as she spoke, he voice dripping with mirth.
"Yes, Kami-sama!" Bell said, his smile genuine and pure. The innocence of his words wiped the smirk of Hestia's face and the goddess…
Was she blushing?
"Bell-kun, I'm so happy to have met you!" she exclaimed as she enveloped the boy in a backbreaking hug. The moment was so touching he felt bad about breaking it, but they had things to do. Coughing into his hand awkwardly, he brought the two of them out of their dream world.
"Right, Shirou needs his falna too! Hehehe, silly me." Hestia said, sticking her tongue out in what would appear to be an act of klutziness. Nodding his head, Bell agreed with her words.
"That's right, I want to see Shirou-san get his falna!" The rabbit-like boy said eagerly.
Sighing, he lay down on the bed after taking his shirt off. Feeling something cold hit his back, he saw the surrounding area light up in blue light. Judging by how long it took for Bell to finish his falna, it wouldn't take more than a minute for it all to be over. It wasn't painful, but having a small adult sit on your back wasn't the most comfortable feeling in the world.
When the minute had passed he expected it to be over.
When two minutes passed he started getting worried.
After five minutes it seemed even Bell had noticed the difference between their falna activation times.
"Kami-sama? Is something wrong?" Bell asked, his voice tinged with worry.
"Shirou, I think we need to talk." Hestia said, her tone heavy with seriousness.
Sitting on the sofa, Shirou drank the tea he had brewed for the three of them. Bell, being the innocent child that he was, had accepted the cup of tea almost immediately.
Hestia had taken a sip of her tea, but had put it down in favour of studying him. What had she seen in his status? Had she figured out that he was lying about his amnesia? He hoped not, that would mean she would be treating him with distrust from now on. He would prefer to stay under the radar for the time being.
"Did you see something in my status, Master?" He used the word Saber had called him when they first met two years ago. He doubted he could refer to her the same way Bell did. The word 'sama' felt weird on his tongue. He had a hard time dealing with authority figures after Gilgamesh and the honorific indicating the recipient's superiority had been used sparingly after their battle. He'd have a hard time adjusting now that he was dealing with an actual god.
"I did, though I don't know how to explain it. You went to the guild, right? So you should know about skills and development abilities? The reason I'm worried about Shirou's status is because I found something which shouldn't be possible." The petite little girl said, her tiny eyebrows knitted together in a tiny frown.
"What do you mean?" Bell asked. "Is there something wrong with Shirou?" The white haired rabbit-boy looked worried, something which spoke in his favour. To be worried about someone he had just recently met was a good quality in Shirou's opinion.
"Not wrong, but impossible. For some reason he has a Development Ability, but those can only be gained after levelling up at least once. I checked multiple times, but Shirou is still a level 1. He shouldn't have a Development Ability so soon." The goddess said thoughtfully.
He had an ability?
"What kind of ability did I have?" He asked curiously. If it said Unlimited Blade Works then he'd have a hard time covering up his magecraft. At least using the plan he had created so far.
"It was called Magic Resistance, but for you to activate it you would have to be hurt by magic several times over. There shouldn't be a way for it to appear in a level 1's status."
He had Magic Resistance?
"What rank did it have?" Magic Resistance belonged to the Knight classes and he had it while he was still alive? That was awesome! He was just like a heroic spirit now, all he needed was a way to astralize and some cool clothing and he'd be right up there with Lancer and Archer.
"Eh? E, I guess. I was kind of focused on the fact that you had an ability at all." Hestia said, thinking back on what she had seen. "Yeah, I think it was E. Definitely E. Which doesn't make sense either, why would a stat start at E?"
If he wasn't in a room with people who wouldn't understand the why, he would have pumped a fist in the air. It was the lowest rank in the Holy Grail War, but it was a rank nonetheless. If what Eina had said was true then he could increase a stat through hard work.
By the time he returned to his world he'd have a higher rank than Saber. This he swore…
But first he'd have to make sure they didn't catch onto his less-than-truthful amnesia. The first thing he needed to do was to explain his magecraft.
'Take a deep breath, Shirou, you got this.'
"Actually, Master…" He said, the nervousness stumbling through his lips along with his words. "I did remember something about my life." The two other occupants in the room turned to look at him.
Fighting not to smile at their reactions, Shirou put on his best poker face, which wasn't very impressive it seemed since he had never once beaten Rin when gambling, though that might be because he suspected his girlfriend cheated every time they played. Rin was very greedy when it came to money.
"I think I can use magic."
He really wished he had a camera.
"So you can create swords and strengthen your body with magic?" the weary-looking goddess asked him. The news of his newfound ability must have blown a fuse in her brain, because she was supporting herself with her arm rather tiredly.
"Yes, though I can also strengthen other objects such as armour and weapons." He said smoothly. He was walking a fine line between nonchalant and excited. Too bored with the power and they would suspect he knew about it all along, but if he acted too surprised about it then it would look forced and fake. He needed the prefect balance between the two, something which was harder to achieve than it looked.
"That's amazing, Shirou-san! Can you teach me?" Bell asked, sparkles in his eyes once more blasting him with full power.
"I can try, but I'm not sure how." He didn't even know if they could use magecraft. He'd need to do some research before they could try. "You'll still have to spar with me in the mornings though, no slacking off from training."
Sighing, Bell's shoulders sank as he leaned back into the worn down sofa.
"I agree with Bell-kun, but it's odd that you would remember how to use magic all of a sudden. Anything else you remember?" she asked.
"I'm afraid not, but I think it might be because I used magic so much before I lost my memory. I didn't forget how to talk or behave, despite forgetting everything else. Perhaps my magic was as much a part of me as talking?" He offered.
The petite goddess shrugged, finally giving up on understanding the human psyche, especially after such a long day. "I guess you're right. With that said, let's go to sleep! You two have a big day ahead of you, your fist day in the dungeon. You better get some rest, tired muscles aren't something you want in a fight!" the girl said as she jumped into the bed.
Brushing his teeth with a traced toothbrush and the herbal toothpaste the inhabitants of this world were so fond of, he took out the old mattress he had 'liberated' from the dump nearby. After literally boiling it in a tub to kill any parasites or germs, he had deemed it good enough to sleep in. He had slept on worse things so the lumpy mattress wasn't an issue. It was the snoring of Bell and Hestia which was keeping him awake. As he tried to fall asleep against the noise his roommates were making, he thought about what he had learned.
'I can be a hero in this world!'