AN: Sorry for the LONG wait guys. I mean seriously, sorry. I know what it's like to wait for a long time for a story to update myself. I just hope that it doesn't happen again. I'm actually still hesitant about releasing this chapter since I don't feel like I've gotten back into the zone yet, but screw it. It's been too long already. I'll probably just edit it later like always anyway.
Anyway, please leave a review :D
Chapter 32 is at 43% completion. Would preferred on getting an earlier start on this one but shit got heavy for me as usual. On bright side though I only started working on this chapter a few days ago and already I'm nearly halfway done (rewrites/edits notwithstanding)
Phantom War II
Cu Chulainn cried in pain as he found himself being slammed into a wall.
His opponent, the teal-haired valkyrie known as Brynhild, charged towards him with her flame coated spear.
Ducking, Cu narrowly avoided being decapitated as the valkyrie swung her spear sideways and destroyed the wall behind him, melting the concrete with its sheer heat. He definitely needed to avoid that.
Taking this chance, he thrusted his own spear forward aiming to stab his foe. Anticipating this, Brynhild leaped back and began circling the Hound of Chulainn before she struck again. The two exchanged blows with their spears, ever increasing their speed as they did.
To the normal eye it would have appeared that both had disappeared from sight, with only the sounds of their weapons clashing blows and the various debris being created by their attacks being the only evidence of their presence.
As they fought, the Hound of Chulainn was able to note one thing.
'Crazy bitch keeps repeating the same movements...'
As powerful as she was, the Valkyrie had a notable tendency to perform the same manner of attack over and over again without much variance. She would attack, follow-up if it lands, fall back if it doesn't in order to circle around and try again sometimes with some magical fire thrown in, all in five different directions.
To be frank it felt like he was fighting against a Berserker class Servant. Was it because she was that simple or her was it her growing level of insanity that was behind it? Either way, under normal circumstances he would have been able to take advantage of this with ease and counterattack.
However, the problem was the woman's speed. He was no slouch himself when it came to being fast, but her abilities were gradually growing and she was soon enough she was beginning to outpace him. It was getting harder to react to her attacks with each second, her increasing strength only worsening matters as well.
Karna had briefly told him about this before leaving to deal with Berserker himself. He didn't think it would have been this bad.
'I'm probably going to have to finish this soon.'
He noted to himself. He didn't like the idea of ending such an entertaining battle already, but as it is with the fortress being attacked by various other Servants he needed to make sure the others were all doing alright, and he probably wouldn't hear the end of it from Assassin if he dragged things out any further either.
To that end, he needed to take this woman out.
Sparks flew as their spears clashed against each other once more. He thought about using Gae Bolg, but would that be enough? Not that he doubted its power but there was a chance that it could fail because of some secret ability. Those were always a pain to deal with.
"To hell with it...!"
The blue-haired Lancer struck his spear into the ground, swinging hard as he flung bits of concrete into his opponent's face. Using her flames, Brynhild melted the debris before it made contact and began searching for her foe.
A chill quickly went through the back of her neck and spine as an incredible amount of blood lust filled the air.
Turning her gaze, she saw Cu Chulainn standing behind the Valkyrie a fair distance away. His is spear glowing with a bright red aura as its light filled the hallway.
"I take it you already know then?" He asked with a small smirk. "Good, that saves me the trouble then..."
Taking a step forward...
Cursing his luck, Cu quickly stopped his attack as the ceiling above cracked and gave way. Not long afterwards a familiar figure landed in front of the Hound of Chulainn as he looked on at the new arrival with confusion.
"Saber? The hell are you doing here?"
"Greetings Lord Cu Chulainn. I, Richard the Lionheart, have come to aid you in-"
Before Richard could even finish his sentence a light purple greave struck the blonde knight's face and smashed him into the wall. Not stopping, the Valkyrie then continued charging towards the blue-haired Lancer as she struck him with her spear.
Cu fortunately had the presence of mind to react in time and parried the incoming blow, leaping over towards his aching companion who at the moment was holding his cheek in pain and grimace.
"How cruel, to so quickly kick a man in the face when he's introducing himself..."
"Your own fault for standing there like an idiot." Cu chided as held a hand out and helped the blonde to his feet. "So, was Karna the one who sent you here?"
"Indeed." Richard replied as he dusted himself clean. "After he offered to deal with Lord Heracles himself, we all agreed to give aid to you and the others. I wasn't interrupting anything now was I? I thought I sensed the activation of a Noble Phantasm so I hurried my pace."
At this, a vein popped on Cu's forehead as he stared at the knight in annoyance.
"If I said yes, can I smack you?"
"That seems rather untoward...?"
Luckily for the two, as they briefly bantered, Brynhild herself had taken a moment to pause as she gazed at the blonde knight in full. She had noticed him earlier, he was the new Saber class Servant that their Master had mentioned that Ruler had summoned.
Their Master had spoken about it before, but the knight truly did resemble the King of Knights.
Her thoughts wandered briefly to memories of the Knight in Sky Silver. Though they were opponents for a majority of the Holy Grail War, she could only bring herself to smile when thinking about him. Arthur Pendragon was a true exemplar of what it meant to be a knight, embodying both strength and selflessness that few others could match. He was perhaps the one of the few she could call an equal to Sigurd in that regard.
She had seen him again during that night in the castle when her current Master decided to greet him and Ruler. They exchanged words briefly, but she could tell that he was the same as ever. The thought alone made her smile.
"Oh my, such an intense gaze. I feel a tad nervous now..."
Richard commented as he felt the Valkyrie's eyes lay solely on him, as though the Hound of Chulainn was no longer in the area. The fact that she was also giggling for some reason only reinforced his nervousness as a slight chill went up his spine.
"Careful, this chick is a fast one. She might take your head off when you're not looking." The blue haired spearman warned.
"So her specialty is speed is it?" Richard replied as he readied his blade against the ethereal beauty. "I've always been quite confident in my own agility, but to test it against a Valkyrie of myth would be quite the honor. Shall I take the lead then Lord Cu Chulainn?"
"Heh, if that's that what you want then quit yammering and start swinging that thing already!"
Cu yelled as he quickly charged forward. Richard smirked and followed suit.
Metal clashed against metal as Brynhild's smile widened at her two opponents.
"What! You mean even Mordred has disappeared as well!?"
Within the confines of the Sajyou Estate, Arthur found himself in a panic as Jeanne had suddenly disappeared on them. Not long afterwards he and the rest of those stationed at the manor soon contacted Waver and his team to brief them on the situation.
Only find out that Knight of Rebellion had disappeared as well...
"She did, and right in front of us too." Kairi spoke as his voice came out of the phone in Arthur's hands. "Can't even contact her with the telepathic link. And you're saying Ruler vanished around the same time?"
"She did. Caster confirmed that it was a form of forced summoning that was responsible."
"That does not sound good. Any idea where she might be then?"
"Caster's working on finding out. I might have an idea myself, but I'm not quite sure." Arthur replied as he leaned against the wall. "How about Mordred? Have you tried using a Command Spell to bring her back?"
"I've considered it, but I don't want to waste a precious resource if I don't have to." Kairi stated as the blonde heard the older man sigh over the line. "Besides, I have a feeling that whatever happened to both her and Ruler means that the two of them are together right now. If that's the case then I think it's best that they stick together. This is all just a hypothetical of course, but considering the timing it can't be a coincidence."
Arthur silently agreed with this. Both his Master and his child disappearing at around the same time? There's only one person he could think of that was responsible.
The name of his first Master popped up in his mind almost immediately. Back when they first reunited, Manaka had taken a brief interest in both Jeanne and Mordred when she first saw them. He didn't think much about it before, but now that both suddenly disappeared he couldn't help but think that she was one behind it.
A part of him also assumed that it might have been Amakusa and his faction who were responsible for it. Considering their own ability to forcibly turn Servants to their side, it wouldn't be out of place to think that they planned on turning both Jeanne and Mordred.
However, would they really strike again so soon? He doubted it, his instinct simply told him that it wasn't them this time.
"At any rate, me and El-Melloi are heading back to the estate." Kairi once again spoke, breaking the young man out of his thoughts. "If you have any ideas on where to find Ruler, then don't hesitate to chase after them. With our situation we can't really afford to lose her."
Arthur replied as he removed himself from the wall and hung up the phone, taking a moment to pause afterwards as he took in the situation.
Next to him stood Medea, the latter of whom had relayed the entire conversation to everyone else with her magecraft while they helped secure the surrounding area.
"So not only Ruler, but Saber of Red as well..." She began, leaning against the wall as she gazed at the King of Knights. "Do you really think that girl Sajyou Manaka is behind this?"
"I do." Arthur simply replied.
"I see. What do you plan on doing then...?" The Witch of Colchis then asked.
Closing his eyes, he went back to leaning against the wall as he contemplated the situation.
After a few moments of silent deliberation, he hurriedly made his way towards the garage. Leaving the blue-haired witch by herself as she sighed at the retreating figure of the blonde-haired knight.
"Men... always so eager to act."
She shook her head and quickly followed after the King of Knights.
Debris flew across the battlefield as two demigods clashed. One born of the Sun God Surya and the other born of Lightning God Zeus.
Karna, light-framed as he was, showed strength that far surpassed what his appearance would suggest and matched the Mad Titan's own. Heracles in turn, despite what his large frame would suggest, showed speed nearly equal to that of his pale colored foe.
For the second time since Achilles could Karna say he was truly enjoying his battle, perhaps even more so than when he fought the former.
Even with his armor on he instinctively felt the need to avoid getting hit. Never had he felt his blood rush so much as he dodged and parried every single strike that came from the son of Zeus. So full of ferocity and power, yet none of his movements were dulled by his madness. Not a single action was wasted.
With strength and endurance to rival Bhima and speed to match Karna's own, there was little doubt that Heracles earned his title as the greatest hero of Ancient Greece.
"It's a shame that you've been reduced to this state..." Karna muttered briefly as his eye glowed. "We could have enjoyed ourselves much more!"
A beam of energy burst forth and struck Mad Titan dead center in the chest, staggering the former as Karna closed in, flames enveloping him as he did, before striking once more with his spear.
Heracles roared in pain as a deep gash was left upon torso, blood running down the wound as Karna narrowed his eyes at the former.
It was just as he thought. As Heracles was a demigod like himself, Karna knew that there was one weapon that he had in his arsenal that could truly put damage him.
He muttered its name quietly as the flames around Karna died out to reveal him in a new form.
Gone was most of the golden armor that covered his body, the cape wrought from the flames of the sun replaced by four red flame like winged crests attached to his back.
His spear, once simple in its design, was now covered in pieces of his armor and enlarged its already massive size.
Twice had Karna decided to make use of his spear's enlarged form, once against Ruler and the other against the famed Achilles, but this was the first time he was going to utilize its nature to his advantage. Heracles was a demigod much like himself, and later even ascended into godhood as well. Knowing this, Vasavi Shakti was a most deadly weapon to be used against the Mad Titan even with the nigh impenetrable defenses that he had.
The proof was in the former's most recent wound. Prior to it, every single cut that he managed to inflict on Heracles managed to heal within no longer than a minute. Not only that, but he was also able to note that his attacks were doing less damage by with each strike.
It was as though he was-No, the Son of Zeus was in fact adapting to his strength.
His master had spoken of such an ability... God Hand was its name. It was Heracles' Noble Phantasm, one that granted him a resurrective form of immortality based off the Twelve Labors that he performed in life to atone for the sin of murdering his wife and children. Those below a certain level of strength could not damage him, and if they somehow did, his body would then adapt to the method that harmed him and increase his immunity to it.
Thus, in order to truly kill Heracles, one needed to figure out a way to kill him twelve different times.
Even amongst the most skilled of heroes such a task was easier said than done. The best way to do it would have been to rely on an incredibly powerful Noble Phantasm that could chip away multiple, if not all twelve lives, in one go. Luckily for the Son of Surya it just so happened he had the right tool for the task.
However, everything came with a price. By using his spear in its released state, it resulted in the divine protection granted by his armor being removed. Permanently if it's full potential was utilized. Knowing that, Karna knew he had to be careful as his defenses were significantly weaker than before.
However, all that meant was that he had to dodge.
"Let's us continue... Heracles!"
Letting out a deafening roar, Heracles charged once more.
Almost immediately Karna went in as well and parried the Mad Titan's attack, creating a massive shock wave that blew away most of the surrounding debris once more, flames from the former painting the area with a red orange hue.
Unfazed by this, Heracles swung his axe once more as the Son of Surya prepared himself.
Forty-Five! Forty-Six! Forty-Seven!
Sixty-Two! Sixty-Three! Sixty-Four!
Within the span of no more than a few seconds over a hundred blows were traded back and forth between the two demigods. The surrounding area was quickly being reduced to rubble by the moment, with no signs of slowing down for either hero as they fought.
Scratches were building up on his body, pain beginning to spread itself out as Heracles' he attacks began connecting.
Faster. Faster. Faster!
Parry! Dodge! Strike!
Three simple movements yet effective in this situation. As fast as Heracles was Karna's smaller size meant he could maneuver more easily. As they fought, he couldn't help but note that the Mad Titan was actually learning. With every move Heracles made his attacks were becoming sharper and precise.
A burst of flames seared forth from Vasavi Shakti, converging upon the tip of the spear as Karna thrusted his weapon forward.
A beam of light launched itself towards the Son of Zeus, exploding upon impact with the former's chest as it burned him all over.
Heracles roared in pain once more, staggering around as he did as the Anti-Divine properties of Karna's attack did its work.
However, not one to let up, Karna pressed his assault.
Circling around the giant the white-haired demigod continuously sliced him in different places all over his body as Heracles fell to his knees.
For large opponents, it was best to aim for the legs first to decrease mobility. Especially for one with Heracles' level of agility. However, amazingly enough despite his attacks being enough to draw blood, he swings weren't enough to sever the former's limbs.
Was this a sign of Heracles' natural durability or was it a result of being enhanced by the girl known as Sajyou Manaka?
Using both hands, the Son of Surya gripped his spear tightly as he sliced off the Mad Titan's head.
Not stopping, he stabbed his flame coated spear into the decapitated body of Heracles, launching another beam of light from within.
The corpse exploded, pieces of burnt flesh covering the area as Karna swung his cleansed himself with his flames from the gore.
'Did that do it?'
The Son of Surya wondered to himself. He had destroyed most of Heracles' body with that last attack. Under regular circumstances, destroying the upper body of a Servant would have been enough to kill them as it was where their spiritual core was located.
However, considering what their Master had said about Sajyou Manaka and her abilities, anything could happen.
As if on cue, a deafening roar came from in front of him as a swirl of mana pooled itself into a circle.
In the middle of the circle was one of the pieces of Heracles' flesh. Soon enough it began to grow in size more and more with several bones sprouting from within as began taking on the shape of a human.
"I see, so he can regenerate from just a single piece of flesh."
Karna commented as he readied his spear once more.
However, just as he was about to attack...
An unfamiliar voice called out. Karna quickly stopped upon realizing who was speaking.
Indeed, the voice came from the currently regenerating Son of Zeus. Right now, his head had already regenerated albeit without his hair and several pieces of his skin still growing. The rest of his body was following suit at a similar pace.
"Most impressive, Karna. Rarely have I ever felt such exhilaration even during my own life. You truly are one of the great heroes of the Mahabharata."
"You humble me, I'm no more than humble warrior who fights for the sake of my lord." Karna replied with smile on his face. "I would say that you yourself is the more impressive one. Very few would be able to retain their fighting prowess under the coat of madness. You honor your title as the greatest hero of Ancient Greece."
Heracles didn't respond to this, only smiling slightly as his face could allow.
"How is it that you can speak right now?" Karna asked. "Did your Master lift your madness?"
"No, this is simply a side effect of having to regenerate to such a degree like this." Heracles replied as he frowned. "As we speak, I'm currently doing all I can to slow down the process... before I'm return to being that little girl's attack dog."
"I see. Do you wish to say anything?"
"Indeed. Tell Ruler to stop his nonsense." Heracles stated. "No matter how much he desires the Holy Grail he will never attain it, not so long as my current Master lives. As valiant as you and your allies are, none of you have the strength to defeat her as is."
"Then what do you suggest we do?"
"Go to Saber. Do not allow yourselves to play to that girl's whims. Only if you combine forces with him and his allies is the only way for you all to have a chance at victory. Otherwise, this world may meet its end soon..."
"I know. Our Master spoke of such after meeting with her that day."
"It gets worse..." The former briefly widened his eyes at this. "However, that's enough that..."
Without saying anything, Karna merely nodded. Heracles' body was almost complete in its regeneration.
"I'm afraid our time for dialogue is up my friend..."
Heracles began as a small smile grew on his face once more.
"Know that in your last attack... you managed to slay me five times."
He complemented. Very few were capable of such a feat.
"However... I'm afraid your methods until now will not be enough. You may need to invoke that spear's full potential." Heracles warned. "And know that my lost lives... can be regenerated as well. With my current master... you'll need to slay me quickly. Once you do... I'll be brought back to that girl's side for the time being, away from here."
"I understand." Karna replied as readied his spear. "Are you ready, God of Strength? My spear is one that can slay the gods."
"Hehehe... that's the spirit. Even under the veil of madness... I shall enjoy this battle to the fullest!"
With that, Heracles' regeneration was completed as the color of his eyes dulled and turned savage.
Having returned to his maddened state, Heracles' roared.
"Is this it?"
Atalanta muttered to herself as she turned a corner and came to a stop.
Not long after parting ways with her comrades she quickly made her way towards her their Master to ensure his safety.
However, as she did, an incredibly foul odor attacked her senses as she ran down the vast hallways of the floating fortress. As she had the traits of a lion her senses were much greater than that of a regular human and even that of Servant, also furthered by her own training as a huntress.
Thanks to that, she was quick to recognize the scent of poison in the air.
She cried out as a white dagger came flying at her from the shadows. Using her bow, she shot it down as she steadied her aim at the direction it came from.
"Come out now! There's no point in trying to hide from me! Even if I can't see you I can smell you!"
Narrowly avoiding a knife aimed at her head, Atalanta quickly gathered her wits as she directed a kick towards the perpetrator's abdomen.
The kick connected, but said individual quickly timed their fall into a back flip as they distanced themselves from the Chaste Huntress.
Atalanta called out as she quickly recognized the individual that was in front of her. It was Sajyou Manaka's own Assassin Servant. Much like the one their side, she was also one of the 19 individuals to take up the name of Hassan-I-Sabbah. She didn't really know much beyond that.
Wait, if she was here... then-
"I see... so Zayd fell to you, didn't they?"
The violet haired Assassin remained silent, wordlessly nodding as she held out a card to the Chaste Huntress.
The same card that held the spirit of the Hundred Face Hassan.
"It wasn't easy... taking all them on at the same time."
"So you say, but the lack of wounds on your body suggest otherwise."
Atalanta stated, having noted the pristine condition that the Masked Assassin was in. Though blood covered her body there was no sign of any significant wounds. Well, Assassin by themselves weren't exactly a strong Heroic Spirit. But even still with their numbers it should have been a little more difficult.
However, thinking about it she already knew the answer why they fell so easily...
As a Huntress, Atalanta was use to the stench of thing such sweat, dirt, and blood as it was part of her routine when she was alive.
Such things also included poison, and this woman's entire being was covered in it. She shouldn't get too close, otherwise-
The Chaste Huntress cried out as she suddenly fell down to a knee, her right leg throbbing painfully for some reason as she held it. Soon enough however the pain gradually spread itself out
"I see... so it's begun."
"Your death." The Masked Assassin stated as she drew out several daggers in both hands. "My entire body is made up of poison from almost every known region of the world. The moment your leg made contact with me... well, I suppose you can imagine."
"I see... so that's how Zayd fell." Atalanta commented as she held her head. All this pain from just making contact once? It was absurd!
"Indeed. Even a mere whiff is enough for me to taint someone." The former replied as she began walking over towards the golden-haired archer. "Zayd and his personas tried playing it smart by keeping away from me, but unfortunately that was not enough."
The Chaste Huntress remained silent at this. She was mildly impressed that the girl in front of her had managed to take out all eighty of Zayd's personalities by herself. Even if they were weaker than the average Servant numbers still meant something in the long run.
Yet she managed to defeat them all. She might have even given her compliments were it not for the current situation.
"One by one they fell..."
The Masked Assassin then held the card up once more...
"...and now they've been reduced to this."
She stated, having sliced the Class Card containing Zayd's spirit into pieces. The Chaste Huntress merely narrowed her eyes, realizing that they were now permanently down a comrade as a result of the other Assassin's actions.
"What's your name...?"
"Hassan-I-Sabbah." The girl replied as she stopped in front of her foe. "If you're asking about the name I had prior to taking up the name our legendary founder, then I'm afraid you're wasting your time. Whoever I was before, I've already forgotten. It, my parents, the day I was born... all of it gone. I am now simply Hassan-I-Sabbah. The Hassan of Serenity."
"I see..." Atalanta replied as she smiled, surprising Serenity somewhat. "Well met Hassan of Serenity. Today your life shall be taken by me."
"Such arrogance even after having been poisoned."
The Masked Assassin said as she readied her dagger to strike.
Serenity quickly leaped away a burst of energy pushed her back.
"Poison? Such a thing isn't going to be enough to stop me." Atalanta stated as she held out her right hand, a torrent of dark colored energy surrounding it as she spoke. "I am Atalanta! Even if I die, I'll be sure to take you with me!"
'I didn't want to use this so soon... but with this poison in me now is not the time to hold back!'
Serenity readied herself, unsure of what the former was planning.
Gripping tightly the area of her chest where her heart was centered, she cried out.
"You're not serious are you?"
Not long after Arthur finished readying his bike, a voice called out. He turned towards the entrance of the garage as he saw Medea standing there. This time however, accompanying the Witch of Colchis was the young head of the Yggdmillenia clan, Fiore Forvedge, and the current head of the El-Melloi family, Reines Archisorte. It was quite apparent that she knew what he had planned and wanted to stop it by bringing in help.
Still, it wasn't going to be enough to stop him.
"I'm going out to look for my Master. I just can't afford to sit here and do nothing."
"Of that, I know. What I am curious about is how you plan on rescuing her." Medea replied as she crossed her arms unamused at the King of Knights. "I understand that you're worried Saber, but if you go charging in like a meat-headed fool then you're only bound to get yourself killed. I believe that's the last thing that Ruler would want of you."
"Listen to Caster, you cannot simply go out there by yourself." Fiore added.
"I am her Servant. It's my duty to protect her."
"It's not as if she can't protect herself. Do remember that Ruler's a Servant herself and not some mere helpless waif for a dashing knight like yourself to rescue" Reines pointed out as she leaned against the wall, smirking somewhat at the face that the King of Knights was making thanks to her statement. "Besides, should it come down to it, don't forget that she has her own set of Command Spells as well. She can use them to summon any one of us to her location if need be."
"Assuming that she's in a state to use them." Arthur replied, turning the vehicle off as he directed his full attention towards the trio. "What would you have me do then?"
"Be patient." Medea replied as she shook her head. "If you're going to go out there then you need to think things through first. I take it from the fact that you're ready to depart means that you have an idea of where Ruler is don't you?"
"I might. I believe my former Master, Manaka, might have had something to do with what happened."
A chill quickly ran up through Reines' spine at the mention of the former Sajyou heir's name, remembering the encounter that she had with the strange girl the other day and the nervousness she felt then.
"Even if that's the case, we can't exactly send you out there by yourself Saber." Fiore stated. "We're talking about a group of six, two of whom were only taken down thanks to a combined effort in the past as you said so yourself."
"Point taken." Arthur sighed, placing a hand over his forehead in frustration.
"Now don't get so down King of Knights." Medea replied as the former turned his gaze towards her. "We didn't say we wouldn't rescue Ruler, just that need to come up with a plan first. Though before that, are you quite certain that your former Master had something to do with this?"
"I'm not, but it's the best lead we've got, and we know where is as well." Arthur replied. "Besides, she's the only one I know that might be capable of forcibly taking both Jeanne and Mordred at the same time from different locations."
"That's true, that girl does have a grail with her after all." The blue-haired witch nodded in agreement. "Very well then, I shall go with you."
"Wha...!? But Caster-!" Fiore began.
"If you're worried about the maintaining of defenses here then fret not, I've already assigned duties to both my Master and to some of the Homunculi you brought along as aids. And with the presence of our Dragon Slaying friend and that fool Achilles, I believe that should anything happen you'll be able to hold out long enough for me to teleport back here together with the King of Knights."
"I see... you were planning on going together with Saber from the start weren't you?"
"Of course." She answered rather quickly much to the surprise of the others. "Knowing Saber, he's the type of fool who would have left regardless of our warnings. I might as well accompany him to make sure he doesn't get himself killed."
"My apologies Caster." Arthur began. "Your aid is most welcome."
"You can make it up to me later by lending me Ruler."
"Oh you'll understand~"
For but a brief moment, Arthur saw a glint in Medea's eyes. One that sent shivers down his spine.
"At any rate, we still have one problem." The blue-haired witch continued. "Right now we have no way of knowing what that girl Manaka and her Servants are up to. We might very well find ourselves facing off against all six of her Servants. Though our objective is merely to rescue and not defeat, I'm not confident enough to say that the two of us are enough. We need at least one more Servant to tag along with us."
"Are you suggesting that Rider or Berserker to come along with us?" Arthur asked.
"As adorable as those two are, I'd rather have them stay here. Considering what we might face, they're likely to just get in the way."
"Hey, we heard that!"
Shouted a certain duo from around the corner. They were promptly ignored, with their Masters giving them headpats to console both.
"No, I have someone else in mind." Medea continued. "However, getting him to help might be challenge in of itself."
"Ah, I see."
Arthur grimaced as he immediately understood just who the former was referring to. Knowing that, he turned towards the young blonde next to Medea.
"Yes yes, I'm calling him now." Reines replied. "Arch-"
"No need to call me out Reines."
A voice filled with arrogance called out. Everyone turned to the source as they saw the garage door open up to reveal the one who spoke.
"I heard everything."
Gilgamesh, the King of Heroes, had appeared.
"You were just standing there waiting to make an entrance weren't you?" Reines thought aloud with a smirk before it quickly disappeared when she saw was what was in his hands. "Wait, where did you get those?"
Said item, or rather items, just so happened to be two large bottles. Wine bottles to be exact, but not from the supply that he had taken from the villa nor was it from the Golden King's own supply either. In fact, it had Japanese writing on the cover.
"I was merely sampling what the old woman had to offer." Gilgamesh replied as the bottles in his hands disappeared into light. "I must say she actually has decent taste in wine. I must give her my compliments later on."
"At any rate...!" Arthur loudly interrupted. "Archer, are you willing to assist us?"
"To rescue Ruler?" The red-eyed blonde replied with a smirk. "Frankly speaking I have no interest in whatever happens to that woman. However, that girl Sajyou Manaka does. I had to cut my last meeting with her short because of Reines, but now there would be no distractions."
Reines slightly perked up at that last part. So he left out of consideration for her? That's actually quite sweet.
She was going to have fun with that later.
"There's also the matter of unresolved business with the Sun King as well..."
"You realize that our objective is merely to rescue-"
"To rescue your woman, I know." Gilgamesh quickly interrupted as he waved off Arthur's words much to the latter's unamusement. "You and Caster focus on that Saber. Leave me to my own devices and I'll may be inclined to stay out of your way."
"Very look, I shan't look a gift horse in the mouth." The Knight King began as he turned his attention towards the others. "What do you three think?"
"Well with Archer willing to help you, then I suppose there's no harm in letting you go." Fiore replied as she turned towards Reines. "Miss Reines, are you alright with sending Archer out?"
"Even if I wasn't that one won't stop once he's set his mind on something." The young head of the El-Melloi family replied with a brief sigh. "Besides, if there's a chance of us retrieving Ruler then I suppose we should take it. Do remember that she's the priority however."
It didn't take much for Arthur to figure out what Reines meant by that, his mind wandering as he thought about Mordred and her current condition as well.
He could only hope that she was alright too.
After stating what she needed to Saber, the young head of the El-Melloi family then turned her attention towards her own Servant.
"Archer, try not to let your ego get the better of you." Reines bluntly stated, voicing the thoughts of all those present. "It's one thing to have confidence in your strength and to prove it to others, but I won't forgive you if you died an embarrassing death either."
"Hmph, you say that as though you think I could possibly lose." Gilgamesh huffed in annoyance. "Still Reines, I'll obliged you just this once. There's still a matter of challenging the Son of Surya, so I have no plans of dying just yet."
"At least you committed." Reines spoke dryly as Fiore giggled at the interaction between Master and Servant.
"It seems everything is settled then." Medea spoke up, catching everyone's attention as she a hand on both Arthur and Gilgamesh. "Leave that contraption here, we'll get there much quicker if we relied on my spell. The same goes to you King of Heroes."
"Very well then, but make sure your hands don't stain my clothes." The Golden King complied.
"As if it would even matter with your sense of fashion."
"What was that!?"
With but a single word, the trio vanished into thin air. Leaving both Reines and Fiore behind as they did.
"What do you think Lady Reines? Do you believe they might succeed?" Fiore asked.
"What I believe is irrelevant. They will succeed as otherwise we're, as that thug faced mercenary would say it, in deep shit."
Reines replied as she turned to leave, silent smirking at the aghast expression on the older girl's face.
She always wanted to try that once.
"I've got it!"
Within another section of the Hanging Gardens were Cu Chulainn and Richard, both of whom were currently engaging in a duel against the Valkyrie Brynhild.
Having shifted locations, the trio were now fighting upon one of the upper terraces of the fortress. The sun shining down upon them in the blue sky above. With the open space, it made fighting against the latter much easier.
"Just die already!"
Despite their best efforts the Daughter of Odin was simultaneously parrying their attacks, reacting almost perfectly to every move they made. The length of her spear made it easy for her to keep a distance, its increased weight doing nothing to hinder her movements whatsoever as she fought.
"I got it!"
Cu called out to Crusader King who quickly charged at the Valkyrie with his sword. He swung his blade at her, the latter of whom simply dodged the strike, but it was quickly followed up by Cu Chulainn thrusting his spear forward.
The attack missed, but Richard followed up once more to cover for his comrade's miss. Brynhild parried his strike, adjusting her spear with a twirl as simultaneously parried another strike coming from the Hound of Chulainn.
She casted flames in the direction of both, forcing the two heroes to fall back to avoid getting burned.
However, not ones to waste an opportunity, both quickly charged once more.
Richard went ahead, leaping upon Cu Chulainn's spear as a platform as the latter launched him towards the Daughter of Odin. Richard swung his sword at the Valkyrie once more, their two weapons colliding with each other in a contest of strength. Having used the momentum to his advantage, the blonde knight won as his swing managed to force the Valkyrie back.
Cu Chulainn then followed suit, rapidly thrusting his spear forward as Brynhild did her utmost to parry the various strikes aimed towards her.
The sound of metal clashing against metal quickly echoed throughout the area as both spear users swung their weapons hard at each other, resulting in a deadlock between both as the two stared each other down.
"Lord Cu Chulainn!"
Richard exclaimed as he saw the blue-haired spearman get kicked in the gut and was blown back through several buildings quite hard. That was definitely going to hurt.
Seeing that it was now just him, the Crusader King dove at the teal-haired Valkyrie as he struck her with an overhead swing. She parried the attack, and the two proceeded to trade blows again and again.
"Such speed and strength! Is this power of one born with the blood of gods in their veins?"
Richard cursed his amazement at Brynhild's abilities as she quickly brought down her spear upon the blonde-haired knight, the latter of whom parried it with his sword as the ground beneath him shook and broke apart due to the pressure exerted.
"Lord Arthur... Lord Arthur!"
"Lord Arthur? Apologies, my actual name is-My god!"
Narrowly avoiding being singed by blue flames, Richard fell back into a roll.
"Hahaha... hahahaHAHAHAHA! LORD ARTHUR!"
"Time out, time out, time out!"
The blonde knight then cried out in panic as he rolled around on the floor trying to avoid getting stabbed. She was just so relentless!
'Now that I think about it, why am I the only one being targeted!?'
Off to the side the Child of Light was preparing his Noble Phantasm, having been seemingly ignored by the Daughter of Odin as she continuously spent her time trying to kill him right then and there. Just what had he done to incur this sort of trouble? Was this punishment from the heavens for his ill deeds in life?
'No wait, she's referring to me as though I am King Arthur. Master did mention something like this but-Wait, this is NOT THE TIME to be thinking about that!'
Richard tensed up as he fired off small blast of energy from the tip of his blade, narrowly missing the teal-haired Valkyrie's head which caused her to back off. Would if he could, the Crusader King would've used more power but he wasn't keen on getting caught up in his own attack.
Although he knew he could be brought back should his card remain intact, he wasn't planning on testing it out anytime soon.
Before he could gather his bearings Brynhild struck again with her spear. Luckily for Richard he was able to parry in time, their two weapons caught in a deadlock as the two heroes struggled for dominance.
"Persistent aren't you!?"
"I'm telling you... my name is Richard!"
"Flattering it may be to be mistaken for the esteemed King of Knights... I must ask that you stop doing that!"
"It is quite disturbing!"
The deadlock broke as Richard found himself giving up first. Though his opponent had such a dainty figure her strength was superior to his.
Taking advantage of this, she kicked him back a fair distance away.
"Love. Hate. Love. Hate. Love. Love. Love, Love, Love..."
The Valkyrie began to mutter quietly, her spear growing in size and changing appearance as she spoke.
"Bullocks, her Noble Phantasm!"
Richard cried out in realization as he readied himself. It was too late to run away. Even with his speed there was no trying to avoid an attack from a weapon of that size.
Knowing that, he might as well try and counter it!
A swirl of mana erupted around the Crusader King's feet as it rose and gathered within his blade.
Richard released his attack, a torrent of energy flying towards the Valkyrie as the latter soared towards the former with her spear at a frightening speed.
Their attacks collided, each trying to overpower the other as the surrounding area was blown apart at the seams.
Richard cursed as found himself slowly losing. Despite his best efforts the Daughter of Odin was indeed the stronger Servant between the two as her Noble Phantasm overcame his. Perhaps it was to be expected, as his Noble Phantasm was nothing more than a copy of the true Excalibur that the esteemed King of Knights held.
It pained him to admit it, but it looks like was going to lose today.
Or so he would say, but...
...He wasn't alone.
A crimson colored spear flew overhead, joining together with Richard's as it collided against the spear of love and hate together.
Her spear unable to pierce through two simultaneous attacks, Brynhild cried out in pain as she was enveloped within energy released from both Noble Phantasms.
Amakusa cried out as he swung his sword.
Arash smirked as he saw his arrows being cut down. He leaped into the air as he released another volley, climbing onto a pillar as quickly followed with another.
The young leader of the Shimabara Rebellion kept moving as he avoided by hit, slicing down several arrows coming his way as he hid behind pillar. He was thankful that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon was so pointlessly huge that it included rooms like they were in. It was forest of pillar as far as the eye could see. It made for great cover should a fight break out.
One foot after the other, his body twisting with every movement. Arrow after arrow kept flying towards him, and time and again he cut them down.
He hadn't felt like this in years, it was a rush. The last time he had fought this hard was during the Third Holy Grail War, and unfortunately he hadn't really gotten much practice during the last half-century.
He could get by when pitted against fellow swordsmen, but when pitted against an archer of great skill such as Arash...
He had his limits as glanced mildly at his sword arm and the cut that was now present on it. Arash's attacks had so much weight to them that had it been any higher his entire arm might have been taken off. A thought that did nothing to please the Apocryphal Saint much as they fought.
"Assassin, where are the others?" He telepathically called out. "I'm in need of assistance here. Arash is proving to be too difficult."
"Apologies Master, but I'm afraid that everyone else is preoccupied at the moment. Karna is currently engaging Berserker, the Huntress was moving to assist you but got caught up with the enemy Assassin, Perseus is currently dealing with the beasts of the Sun King, both Saber and our friend Cu Chulainn are busy fighting the Valkyrie, and our Assassin has already fallen in battle."
Amakusa grimaced at Assassin's lost. Chances were that Zayd's card had already been destroyed which meant they were permanently down a man.
"However, fret not. I don't plan on leaving you by yourself."
As if on cue a bestial cry came from behind Amakusa as he saw a long tail stretch out to deflect the arrows that came his way.
"What the...!?" Arash exclaimed as two beasts suddenly appeared beside Ruler.
They were monstrous in appearance, long elongated bodies reminiscent of snakes but with two clawed forelegs protruding at their sides. Both had six eyes that allowed them to see in different directions at once, jagged mouths that could crush even steel once brought down.
"Assassin, what are these things?"
"Apologies Master, I meant to show them to you as a surprise." Semiramis giggle could be heard over their link. "These creatures are the Bashmu, Phantasmal Beasts that I summoned through my Noble Phantasm. Though they're still not complete, I can guarantee you on their effectiveness even still. Just try not to get in their way less you get poisoned yourself, I'm afraid I might not be able to help you if did."
"Heh, I appreciate the assistance."
Amakusa replied with a smile before he turned towards Arash. Thanks to experience, he knew that poison would be ineffective against his foe. But, the presence of two Phantasmal Beasts at his side would still prove to be an asset regardless.
Knowing that, he had one command to offer.
Arash exclaimed as he quickly leaped away, dodging an incoming attack from one of the beasts as he was then chased around the room.
"What is this!? I thought you were planning on taking care of me yourself!?"
"Did I? Apologies but this just seems a much more fruitful tactic."
Arash stated, but couldn't help but chuckle as he released a barrage of arrows aimed at the Bashmu.
Before they could make their mark however Amakusa leaped and cut the arrows apart with his sword, allowing for the two beasts to chase their target with ease.
Arash quickly released another barrage, this time in greater number...
It was for naught as both beasts opted to simply melt the incoming projectiles aimed at them with their breath, one whose foul order quickly filled the room that they were in.
'Crap, that stinks! Is it some sort of poison?'
Thankfully he didn't have anything worry about. Due to his skill Arash was immune to all forms of poison known to man. However, just because he was immune didn't mean he should just stand there and take it right in the face. He wasn't keen on getting up close with such dangerous creatures after all, not when their mere breath alone was enough to melt his arrows.
Just to be sure, he quickly released another barrage and the same thing happened. The Iranian Hero frowned at this.
'Maybe I need to take it up a notch...'
He wondered about using his Noble Phantasm right then. At this range it would definitely kill Ruler and likely take out a good chunk out of the floating fortress that they were in. However, he knew firsthand what type of Noble Phantasm the former had up his sleeve and knowing it made the Iranian Hero hesitate. He'd just be wasting his own life again, and while he knew he could be revived he'd rather make a death count.
"What's the matter Arash? Had enough?!"
Before he had even realized it, Arash was narrowly avoiding a sword swing aimed at his head... Amakusa having closed the distance between the two of them rather suddenly.
Not one to give in to panic, Arash quickly distanced himself once more. He then took aim with his bow, readying another barrage...
However, before he could make it, one of the Bashmu had managed to sneak up behind the Iranian Hero and ready to sink its jaws into him.
"Oh no you don't!"
Amakusa briefly widened his eyes in surprise as he saw the Bashmu get struck in the head by Arash's enclosed fist, staggering it as he quickly followed up an arrow barrage that sent the beast flying into a pillar destroying it.
The other Bashmu roared at seeing its companion hurt, charging at Arash in anger as it released more of its poison breath. Not wanting to be on the receiving end, Arash quickly leaped out of the way as the attack's acidic properties melted the stone that was in its path.
Having been distracted by this, Arash failed to react in time as Amakusa dove in and swung his sword at the Iranian Hero. Unable to dodge, Arash opted to parry the incoming strike with his bow.
The sound of metal striking metal echoed throughout the room. It was fortunate for the Iranian Hero that he opted to base his bow on some metal compounds that his Master had provided for him and then had Caster reinforce it. It was durability was currently on par with Heracles' skin.
"Give it up now Arash! You're not going to be able to win without using your Noble Phantasm!"
"Hey, I might be lacking in flashy skills but doesn't mean I'm out of the fight just yet!"
Amakusa flinched as he felt a knee impact against his stomach, quickly followed up by a roundhouse kick to the head as the young saint was sent flying into another pillar. Arash then aimed his bow at the former, readying another arrow barrage and this time greater in number.
The two Bashmu roared as they quickly came to the defense of their master, charging at the Iranian Hero as the latter opted to merely smile as he aimed his bow at them instead.
"That's it, keep getting closer..."
He had realized this after repeatedly witnessing the beasts poison breath in action. While the fact that it could melt objects was indeed dangerous, there was a time lag in how fast something could dissolve upon contact.
It was going to be dangerous, but nothing was ever truly gained without risk.
Just as both beasts came within a hairs breath away and released their breaths, Arash simultaneously released his arrows, pelting the two beasts numerous times as chunks of their flesh were taken off and stuck on walls and pillars all over the room.
"Damn that stings...!" Arash coughed as the foul fog clogged up his senses, leaping away as he felt a burning sensation come over his body. Thanks to his robust constitution he was able to get away with just that. He shuddered to think what would have happened had he-
"You're kidding me!"
Before he could even finish his thoughts the cry of the two beasts could be heard once more.
Looking back, he saw both monsters slowly regenerating the damage done to them. However, fortunately for the Iranian Hero both weren't moving to attack.
'They're alive, but it looks like they'll need to stay that way for a little while longer. Better if finish them off now...'
Just as he thought that, Arash quickly turned around and released his arrows against Amakusa, the latter of whom had recovered and was running towards him.
"Dodge the arrows!"
Having been confused by Amakusa's sudden statement, Arash was unprepared when he saw Apocryphal Saint move like lightning and dodge the arrow barrage with incredible precision and grace. It was almost as though he could see each individual arrow's path and adjusted his body accordingly to avoid them.
Too absorbed with what he saw, Arash failed to react in time and quickly found himself being impaled in the shoulder and pinned against a wall.
"You've become sloppy Arash..." Amakusa commented as he drove the Black Key further in. "Are you truly the same hero that I fought against years ago?"
"Same goes for you...!" Arash briefly smirked as he withstood the pain. "What was that? You picked up a new skill or something?"
"Hmph, remember what my Class is and you might find your answer."
"Huh? What does-Oh, now I get it." The former began as realization dawned on him. "You used a Command Spell."
"When you have spares you tend to come up with ways to use them." Amakusa replied, not really caring if his trick got found out as it likely would have been discovered either way. "Now then, if you would so kindly remain still..."
Arash cried out in pain as the Bashmu came up and bit his arms to hold him in place.
Rather than be enraged by this, the Iranian Hero merely smirked once more.
"You ever heard... of asking nicely?"
"I'm done with asking." Amakusa began as he placed a hand over the former's chest. "Be at peace however, if I'm right then your days of servitude to Sajyou Manaka are at an end. Perhaps you could end up serving me instead..."
"What are you going on about-Aaargh!"
A bright light emanated from Amakusa's hand, one that enveloped Arash's entire body as he spoke.
"I will kill, I will let live."
"Heh... I didn't think you'd try that Shirou-kun."
Manaka smiled as she gazed at the image of the Apocryphal Saint that her crystal ball was showing her. She had been watching his battle against Archer and was currently seeing what he was trying to do to Iranian Hero.
She was impressed by his ingenuity, he had figured out a way to deal with her Servants. She almost wanted to congratulate him herself.
Unfortunately however she couldn't afford to lose Archer right now.
"Alright Archer, it's time to stop playing around..."
"I will harm and heal. None will escape me. None will escape my sight."
As Amakusa spoke these words the light that surrounded Arash glowed every so brightly with each passing moment, the latter crying out in pain as though he was being burned alive thanks to the prayer that was being spoken by the white-haired priest.
"Be crushed. I welcome those who have grown old and those who have lost."
'As I thought, traces of the grail mud do exist within their spiritual cores.'
He wondered if it was just a side effect of having been summoned with a corrupted grail, and that if he was in a similar state as well thanks to his current body being the result of being doused with the grail mud as well. He had spent the last sixty years partly working as a priest, and he had never felt any side effects in all his years alive. So Shirou felt he could cross that theory out. It likely just had something to do with their connection to Manaka.
"Devote yourself to me. Learn from me. Obey me. Rest. I am light and relieve you of all your burdens."
Under normal circumstances a prayer like his likely wouldn't even work against a Servant unless they had specific traits that made them weak to religious sacraments. Servants such as Vlad III in his vampire form likely would have fallen easily to his prayer, now he suppose he could add Corrupted Servants to that list.
'Now, I must finish this!'
"Ask for forgiveness here. I, the incarnation will swear. Kyrei-"
Amakusa exclaimed as the two Bashmu that were holding Arash in place were sent flying into the pillars behind him.
Before he could have time to ponder what just happened he instinctively avoided the Black Key that Arash had taken out of his shoulder and was swung at his head, distancing himself from the Iranian Hero as he felt an incredibly sinister aura emanate from the former.
He spoke, eyes hidden behind the bangs of his hair, as he dropped the weapon in his hand and summoned his bow once more.
Arash then raised his head, surprising Shirou as tears of blood began running down his eyes.
"Kill me now...!"
A black aura suddenly enveloped the Iranian Hero from head to toe, the former's screams could be heard from beneath the veil of darkness that surrounded him.
After a few seconds, it dissipated. And standing before the Apocryphal Saint was Arash, now with paler skin and darkened clothes.
Amakusa spoke, wondering what just happened to that caused the black-haired archer to take on such a form.
Before he could receive his answers however, Arash spoke.
Coming to at the sound of chirping birds, Jeanne slowly opened her eyes as she found herself lying atop a bed. Rays of sunlight peering into the room from the window beside it, somewhat blinding the drowsy blonde as sat up.
"Huh? Where am I...?"
Yawning, she stretched her arms and rubbed her eyes. As her vision cleared, she finally took the chance to gaze at her surroundings.
'Wait, this isn't my room...'
Compared to the elegant yet simple rooms that the Sajyou estate had, Jeanne now found herself inside room that was far more rustic. It lacked modern amenities such as the lights with the room itself being made mostly of stone and wood. A wooden desk and chair one corner, a stack of clothes in another.
If she had to be honest, it actually reminded her of old room. The one she had back when she lived together with her parents to be exact.
'But that couldn't be.'
She mused to herself as she stood up and looked outside window.
Soon enough Jeanne found herself speechless.
"This is... Domrémy?!"
The young saint spoke in shock, unable to comprehend what was in front of her. Quickly stepping outside, she saw fields as far as the eye can see, farmers tending to their crops and livestock, the sun shining brightly in the clear blue skies... it was a sight that she would never forget no matter how much time passed.
But why? Why was it that she was here of all places?
"T-That's right...! Just before I woke up, the last thing I remember Fou jumping onto me and then-"
Jeanne froze as a voice called out to her, one that was incredibly familiar to the young saint as she turned her gaze towards the source.
"Is something the matter? You ran outside so quickly and with a frantic look that you worried me."
Behind her stood a woman, a woman with blonde hair and blue eyes much like herself. She wore simple clothing that signified her status as a woman of common birth. A person of little interest in the greater world.
To Jeanne however, she was probably one of the most important people in her life.
Isabelle Romée stood in front of her daughter, her head tilted to the side slightly in confusion at Jeanne's look of disbelief.
'Just what is going on...?!'
And so ends Chapter 31, topping out at around 10k words as per my standard. Goddamn it took a while to get this out. Again, apologies to all you readers out there. A combination of writer's block and general bad luck in real life caused me to go on a long break. I just hope that I doesn't take as long to get the other chapters out in the future since I still really want to finish this story.
Anyway, I don't really have much to say about this chapter. It's just fight scene after fight scene with the occasional dip into plot. This is one of the main reasons why it took so long for me to write this chapter. As you all know by now, fight scenes are not my cup of tea. I'm still shit at them XD I can imagine them well enough but describing them in text is another matter entirely. Again, I apologize if the quality of this chapter is low cause it's been a real long time since I last wrote for FMB and I haven't really gotten back in the zone yet so to speak.
Speaking of, I also had to retcon a few things from the previous chapter like the Bashmu appearing there. Instead, I had them first appear during Amakusa's fight here.
Guest comments that I replied to prior to September 26, 2019
Castiel: Nope, it's not them.
Hobbit: I always make it a habit to read up on things relating to fight scenes. Thing is though I just simply have a hard time putting into words the things I see is all. It's one thing to describe people talking to each other and some such but when it comes to action scenes my mind kinda goes blank. Thanks for the advice though, as I'm still working on improving nonetheless.
Guest 1: I think I already gave an answer to a question like this before. Either way, all I'm going to say is just be patient ;D
Guest 2: No, he summoned Roland. Figured it be a funny image XD
Guest 3: Kinda paired them up on a whim to be honest. Figured they'd make a good pair and went with it. Also because I didn't really know what to do with Ayaka since her abilities have yet to be completely expanded upon and I was too lazy to make shit up XP
Night of Wallach: I don't really know who that is so no comment.
Guest 4: Thank you for the compliment :D
Guest 5: Oh my god that is adorable XD
BravoSix: Salamat sa support :D
Guest 6: Yeah, I noticed that too. I honestly wanted to avoid it but looks like I couldn't. Ironically enough it was one of my main gripes with Apocrypha too, and god did I hate myself when I realized that I unconsciously repeated it. I blame it squarely on the fact that Jeanne has little to no personal issues that need to be focused on whereas Arthur has a lot. Be it dealing with Mordred, his issues regarding his backstory, or things regarding Manaka, he has a number of things going for him that I felt needed to be resolved before I could truly focus on Jeanne.
I am planning on fixing this however. If Act 1, 2, and the beginning of Act 3 were Arthur centric, then the latter of half of Act 3 and beyond are going to be Jeanne centric (Note: Act 3 is the halfway point of the story. One/two acts remain). Arthur's personal development is more or less done, so this should leave me time once more to focus on Jeanne and develop her and have her do things beyond just being a love interest for Arthur. I sincerely hope that I'll be able to deliver as I want to do right by her character.
And yeah, if you didn't like the Guinevere cameo I don't blame you. Call it a result of my inexperience at the time, as aside from helping to expand on Arthur's past for a bit, I more or less did that to set something up in the future which goes beyond FMB.
Nio: Accidentally erased your comment. I actually know that Jeanne uses her flag for combat, but the thing is when I was going through the Apo novels way back when I first started writing FMB, one of the images I saw from it had was Jeanne drawing her sword against Amakusa after discovering who he is. Then FGO's first opening had her fighting with it against Emiya. Thanks to that I couldn't get it out of my head that she can use it without activating the NP. And between her just twirling a flag pole around I like the idea of her using both, so I decided to stick with it regardless of canon.
Guest comment replies
Shi: Oh so you noticed that. Well no worries, there's going to be a SEAL THIRTEEN moment for sure. ;)
123Guest: I already know about what the mats said about Fate-Guinevere. Decided to ignore those and make my own.
At any rate, that's it for now. Please review :)