Hey, guys! It's been a while!
Now, this is the new project I said I'm working on. A few chapters are already down the line, and the concept is nearly finished, so I want to know what you think regarding this new story. I am heavily inspired by Arrixam's works, so here's a shout-out to him! For those of you who don't know, his, and in effect, my stories will be about a multi-fandom fanfictions, conjoined together with a single idea and goal, performed by a variety of main characters from each respective fandom. Of course, I don't want to be just a copycat or plagiarize his work, and so you'll find my writing style and storyline to differ from his quite a lot. I haven't really asked for permission from him (sorry, Arrixam!) to partly-use this concept, but I can honestly say this idea has been in the works long before I read any of his works. When I did, I went, "Oh, wow! This guy's exactly what I wanted to be!" So props for him.
Okay, to the main story.
You may find some concepts being under-explained for your liking. Don't worry, and don't spam, because I plan on letting you know on the concepts I use gently, over several chapters, more in line of commercial novels. I do have an encyclopedia on the way, to be posted either on my Bio or a separate story altogether, but I will only do so several days after I introduced or explained the concepts in-universe. Also, I need to remind you, this is FANFICTION. I always like to stick to the theories and explanation from canon, but if it's necessary, I'll bend it to fit the story better. Some criticisms will be inevitable, but I accept all constructive comments and will try to implement any necessary corrections pointed out.
Fuuuu... as that's out of the way, let's continue with the disclaimer, shall we?
DISCLAIMER: Nasuverse belongs to those rich guys who produces great novels and animes, so of course they won't be loitering around in this pokey site, no?
Enjoy, and review!
The air is eerily quiet.
At this time of the year, the forest will be filled to the brim with noises and smells, all chirping and screaming between the animals. Sometimes, one may meet several hunters, going about their trade spread out in the forest area. This place isn't a popular logging place, in part because the trees here isn't really suitable for furniture, and because of the stories of an evil witch that will kidnap any living humans wandering around for a period of time. As such, only experienced hunters and gatherers dare walk through the perimeter, and even they never venture anywhere deep.
Of course, for a magus, it's a different story altogether.
Even to the city-dwellers, who have witnessed their fair share of weirdness, the magus's appearance will still garner quite a considerable amount of confused looks. Anyone seeing him in this part of the country, strolling while whistling inside a dangerous forest all alone, will probably label him as suicidal. After all, with clothes made from the finest material, pure white and looking so delicate and fluffy, the wearer must be a madman, right?
They aren't exactly wrong.
For example, if they have the opportunity to ask the people close to the magus, they will only affirm their suspicion: that this man is an immature, idiotic, pathetic excuse of an adult, only living for his own entertainment and pleasures. Oh, and they may add, for love.
However, the conditions of the forest is clearly as abnormal as he is. It's devoid of life, not just in the form of humans and animals, but even the plants, rocks, water, air... all of them feels 'dead', or 'devoid of life'.
As the 'Magus of Flowers', Merlin is angry.
It's not an emotion he often feels, much less shows to others, but he is livid. He has witnessed wars and conflicts which laid waste to the environment, but for the exception of 'scorched earth' tactics, the damages is reversible. If he uses his Magecraft, even the salted land and burnt fields can be resuscitated.
But this... this abomination...
Merlin is familiar with the cause of these dead patches of land.
The woman he once loved, or still loves, or will love in the future... Morgan le Fay.
He's confused at himself for still harboring feelings this strong for her. Alas, he has sworn to live by love, chasing love, and be surrounded by love, so it's an aspect of him he really can't help manifesting. The choice may raise some protests, but his feelings, despite his emotions right now, remains unchanged.
To love someone is to accept them for what they are, and if they're wrong, to right them into the correct path. Merlin is a firm believer of this mindset, and therefore has concrete plans to use against that witch.
He'll kill her, in order to save her.
'But,' he muses, 'it's strange.'
One of the most important rules as a magus is to keep his or her craft to a minimum of exposure. There are several reasons for this. One, no self-respecting magus will allow anyone, especially another magus, to have a glimpse of the craft they've been perfecting all their lives. Two, unwanted attention will undoubtedly create setbacks in one's research, for example, bringing an entire knight squadron into your doorstep because of one's misdoings. Three, since the times of Solomon, the power of Magecraft is finite, and therefore magi are educated not to share any knowledge of Magecraft around, for fear of weakening its power.
For Merlin and Morgan, all three of the reasons above are quite weak. Both of them have the strength to resist any attempts at their lives or research, and both are not as morally inclined as most people think. Their acceptance of the above creed is due to habit, not necessity.
And so, it's very strange to see her power being displayed so openly and indifferently. It's harder to break one's habits than one's responsibilities, and all of their previous bouts happened under strict 'no-witness' and 'no-evidence' rule. Sadly, he couldn't bring himself to finish her off whenever he had the upper hand, and he managed to shrewdly escape whenever the situation turned itself around, making this a prolonged campaign.
Still humming a song to himself, he finally steps into the depths of the forest. Here, the wasteland becomes more desolate, with withered trees and scorched earth everywhere, some even revealing the bedrocks underneath. The sound of a stream is distant and clogged, carrying only filth and sludge, not life. The normally vibrant forest now emits no natural scents and sounds, only emptiness.
However, one thing catches his eyes, enough for him to temporarily shelf his raging heart and investigate.
What he founds is astonishing.
Dead. Dead. Dead.
Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead.
...no, looking back, the answer is obvious.
Humanity have died.
Was it in the wrong?
All it ever did was for the ensured continuation of humanity. It nipped every disaster before it bloomed. It killed all causes of mass destruction, whether it was human or not. It went against the Will of the Planet, a true Type, and triumphed.
Is the Counter Guardian Program wrong? Is the Throne of Heroes not working?
Or is it in the wrong?
Error. Error. Error.
Error. Error. Error. Error. Error.
Analyzing cause... Error.
Repeating... Error. Error.
Restarting... Command not accepted. Error.
WARNING! System under power. Attempting fail-safe...
Error. Error. Error.
Humanity saturation level: 0.00000001%
Activating Counter Guardian program. Attempt failed.
Humanity saturation level: undetectable.
WARNING! System shutting down. Attempting fail-safe...
Error. Error. Error. Error. Error.
Power level critical. WARNING! Shutting down.
SYSTEM SHUT DOWN.
Back-up system initiated.
Systems check... Systems check... Successful.
Re-routing to back-up logs.
Emergency system activate?
Calculating... Calculating... Calculating...
Commence the Heroic Vessel program? Affirmative.
PROGRAM 'HEROIC VESSEL' STARTED. Selecting candidates...
Searching timelines... Searching backlogs... Start PROPHET calculation...
Searching... Searching... Searching...
Searching... Searching... Searching...
Searching... Searching... Searching...
Success. Calculating compatibility...
Calculation finished. Compatibility: 330%
A king's chamber is a lonely one.
Generally, the above statement is true across many kingdoms, and it is no exception in Camelot.
Across the massive stone hall, there are a number of guards standing by, ready to protect the King whenever the need arises, futile as it is. They know and believe in their heart that the King sitting on the throne is Briton's greatest king, and any attacks sufficient enough to threaten the gallant and immortal King will go through them like cannonballs through parchment. It is simply a sign of loyalty and respect, as they all stand proud and tall surrounding the various nobles and commoners reporting their cases.
The King, as always, is paying attention to all their requests.
It can be said as an inhuman tasks, for keeping one's concentration for so long and with different subjects, plus the needed change of perspective between reporters, is a steep mountain to conquer. Even the guards themselves take a shift with another team, but the King does not.
It only makes them respect him even more.
The procession wears on for another tens of minutes without a hitch.
Suddenly, the door to the main chamber opens. It's a slow behemoth, due to its weight, but since all the people arguing their case in front of the King's court are ushered through a separate, more easily opened door, the act itself must mean something important has taken place. Indeed, judging by the breathlessness of the royal messenger kneeling in front of the King, it must be very urgent indeed.
If not, well... Is His Highness's pet lion on a starvation period? No, that big cat will just spit the sweaty, lanky human right back out.
The young male thrusts a scroll out from his pockets, presenting it with both arms. One of the aides steps forward, taking it to the King.
All the people present hold their breath, as they try to gleam the contents of the scroll from the King's expression.
In concert, their minds shout inside their head. The aides have even taken a step back from the King's stern expression, one which they rarely see. They've witnessed the king taking news of death and mass destruction without a single eyebrow twitching, so the news has to be such an enormous disaster for him to react as such.
"Court dismissed," a flat, high-pitched voice says.
Usually, it's the court adviser's line to say, but the one who said it this time is His Majesty Arthur Pendragon. His voice may be mistaken for a young girl, combined with his youthful looks, but to them, it is a result of achieving immortality in a tender age, causing his voice to never break into a manly, baritone voice common in the kingdom. It gives him an ethereal presence in front of the masses, captivating them with the contrast of innocence with mature charisma.
Silently, the people march outside in an orderly manner. None dare emit a protest, for fear of the King's wrath.
With a wave of his arms, Arthur signals for the guards and aides to remove themselves from the chamber as well. Again, the order is taken in stride, even though their duties is actually to stay inside the court, no matter what happens. Some of the particularly studious ones may challenge the order, claiming the King has no right to undo a grand task he gave them himself, but even they relent this time.
They all think the King needs a serene and quiet environment to think about anything that scroll contains and how to react to it. It's a refreshing change to the King's work ethos they're used to: dogged determination and professionalism, always delivering no matter the situation. Now that they're effectively on break, some of them has begun to chat about what lunch they're going to have, conditions of their families, the ongoing joke bets between them, and so on.
Oh, how they're wrong.
Inside the now empty chamber, the sound of a crunched parchment rings across the walls, before followed by a shrill, feral roar.
The time is three years since King Arthur, or Altria, received the scroll from Merlin.
However, for this existence, three years are naught but seconds. Time blurs past when one is an immortal, especially if the two worlds are separated by an impregnable chasm called 'logic'.
At the time of the Age of Gods, the world was ruled by these supernatural beings that transcended humanity. Nay, it is humanity itself who had so little value compared to these beings, it is comparable to livestock and pests. For millennia, the gods ruled as they wish, and with eternity to spend, they ruled with one golden rule.
"There will be no boredom," many of them declared.
As such, their entertainment subject turned towards humanity. They toyed and played with their lives, because humanity was such a fragile and unstable existence, to produce the greatest dramas and climaxes for their own enjoyment. They granted powers to the people they dubbed 'heroes', then created unfortunate 'incidents' in order to control their lives. They killed families, friends, lovers, and pitted one against the other.
It was a chaotic time.
Then, during the Age of Heroes, humanity had enough.
It was in this age those called 'god-slayers' were born. Fed up with the gods' treatment, they rebelled against their masters, and vanquished them with the very powers and weapons bequeathed to them by those arrogant gods. The heroes struck the moment the people's faith in the gods weakened, momentarily stopping the flow of power to the gods, and bathed their bodies with divine blood.
After the complete dismantling of the system, the Age of Humans arrived.
With the destruction of the pantheons of gods and goddesses, all aspects and records of the previous religious sacraments disappeared and malfunctioned. The old faith was replaced by newer ones, and steadily, the 'Old World' was being eroded away. The residents of said world became alienated and labeled as 'fantasy', creating a separation between the world, now occupied by humans, to them.
Dragons, faeries, ogres, demi-humans, vampires, and others noticed the phenomena happening, and thus banded together to separate them from the encroaching humans. They used the humans' perception of 'logic', as it was a form of 'faith', as fuel to create a separate dimension where they all could live in peace, for eternity, without having their powers siphoned off and dying.
The 'Inside of the World' was born.
However, using the 'faith' called 'logic' in itself was flawed. No matter how hard a human being tried to suppress and eradicate those 'fantasies' he or she knew and heard of, but a human mind cannot fully contain the 'wish' that was the backbone of those 'fantasies'. In essence, through their dreams and desires, there still existed the 'faith' of 'fantasy' which overrode those of 'logic'.
Therefore, there still existed pathways that connected both sides of the world, the 'Inside' and the 'Outside'.
Much less traveling through them, no normal human being could even survive finding them, though.
This was partly due to the designs of the supernatural beings residing there. Noticing this uncorrectable flaw in their craft, they simply carved multitudes of non-lethal and lethal Bounded Fields and curses around the entrances of a much stronger version than a human could make. This, in effect, filtered any sudden 'visitors', and allowed them to gauge the worthiness of the person traveling through. Due to their desire to alleviate boredom, this opening was never closed, instead granting passage to those who qualify as 'heroes', or in their minds, 'people that can entertain us more'.
Then, following that train of thought, of course Pæga is happy.
The 'visitor' in front of it was a female human of a small stature. Bright golden hair tied in a ponytail, fiery green eyes, and an excited grin pasted across her lovely face. Her figure is slim, cloaked in a red... whatever those humans called the pieces of material covering her body, and a huge, gallant sword more than half her size strapped to her back.
No, not a human. This person is artificial.
'Homunculus,' it surmises.
However, there are some things that piqued its curiosity about her.
Even with the technology from the Age of Gods, homunculi are mainly created as servants or foot soldiers for their masters. As such, their development curve is steep and fast, resulting in great power and reduced lifespan. A Phantasmal Being like it can easily point out flaws in anything, even living beings, and as predicted, most homunculi have very strong physical and magical capabilities, manifested in their robust flesh and high-quality Magic Circuits.
Despite that, their own strength has a detrimental effect on their health and lives. During their short lives, their organs and other bodily functions will slowly deteriorate and fail, at a rate visible through its own eyes. In a few years, these flaws will end up in their deaths, and as such they're never highly regarded by their masters.
However, the homunculus in front of it is... perfect.
No, calling it 'perfect' is perhaps inaccurate. The 'perfection' Pæga thinks of is in the line of 'she's perfectly the same as a human being', instead of 'she's a perfect human being and homunculus'. In any case, her creator is powerful and intelligent enough to uncover the greatest secret in the Age of Gods: the art to breathe living souls into a body. To be precise, it is a craft of 'giving life', not just creating a fake one that can only function finitely.
Intrigued, Pæga calls, "Girl."
"Owa! So this is a dragon!"
After her excited declaration, she begins to run closer to it, and pokes its body a few times, as if confirming its existence. Then, she gallops around, taking in all the scenery around her and its nest like an overeager child. Its ears catch her 'ooh's and 'aah's while she's running around.
Well, the 'Inside' is much different than the 'Outside'. Besides, living this long, patience is one of the things it has mastered.
After a few more minutes of loitering around, the girl finally walks back in front of him.
Pæga sees it. The fire burning in her eyes, hidden under a thin layer of brilliant innocence and wilderness. It's one familiar to it, having witnessed many heroes during the previous era coming to being like it.
The serene ones. The malicious ones. The just ones. The cunning ones. It has seen it all. Therefore, her eyes smoldering with desire of power is nothing new to it.
Usually, the most interesting ones have a good motive behind it. The story, the pain, the happiness, the history, the dream, all having a factor in moulding these would-be heroes to become what they are now. For example, Pæga birthed its descendants with a human woman, as she came to it to wish for power. Back then, the 'Outside' were in discord, especially around the gates directly connecting the 'Outside' to its part of 'Inside'. It can still remember the scent of her flaming red hair as they laid down together, the new sensations conquering its dormant senses as Pæga shifted into a human form.
This homunculus's emerald orbs contain a similar flame to that person. To protect. To save. To rule, and to safekeep. To fight, and to repel. That flame tells it many things about her.
No, there are more than her eyes that's similar...
This homunculus carries its blood.
Unintentionally, it grins.
"Why are you here?" A booming voice echoes around its domain, coming from its mouth.
Its grin is replied by another.
"You know why I'm here," a clear, bell-like voice rings in opposition, "Gramps."
Her eyes harden. "i wish to be king."
"Careful what you wish for, fledgling..." Taking a heavy step forward with its claws, its body began to shift.
The giant majestic presence shrinks smoothly, however, its strength only grows denser. Its... no, his shape becomes humanoid, turning into a human male. However, his proportions are still larger than the biggest humans, about the size of a half-giant around three meters tall. Scaly wings still attach themselves to his back, with a meaty tail stretching behind him as he strides forward. Apart from that, the only major difference his body has from a normal human is his flaming golden hair.
No, it's literally flaming, as in golden fire.
"Surely, you've heard the sayings among yourselves," he begins, "absolute power corrupts absolutely."
To that expression, the homunculus laughs. Her lovely expression turns angelic, however, what amuses him the most is her honesty. She laughed not out of conceit of arrogance, but only because something in his words she found particularly funny. It's quiet a refreshing emotion, for once.
"I don't want power."
She steps closer to him, close enough to make her have to crane her neck to look him in the eyes.
"I've seen it," her eyes turn wistful, "the Kingdom with a powerful me."
Her hands tremble in rage, remembering a horrifying vision.
"I want to be a worthy king for them."
She draws her sword, pointless as it is, and declares.
"Even more than him."
"Then why are you here? Why are you not with that... Vessel?"
Her expression turns sheepish.
"Ah... um, why is it again? Ha-ha-ha..." She chuckles awkwardly. "You're... not going to send me back, r-right? After all this way..."
"HAHAHAHA! Truly, truly your beings never cease to amuse me!" He kneels down, and uses his oversized palm to ruffle her hair, despite her protests. "HA... HA... HA... I understand, child of Pendragon. My child, I shall grant your wish..."
He lifts her chin up with his finger, silently laughing at her messed up hair. "If you are willing to do whatever it takes."
Her grin returns.
"Give me your best shot."
As always, regret comes far too late.
"As you wish, my lady."
"Ah...! S-Stop calling me tha- oh!"
Inside one of the many chambers in Camelot, such sounds are reverberating across the room. Clearly, both of these lovers have made sure there will be no outside interference from anyone, so they choose the moment when almost everyone is away. The chambermaids can be silenced as necessary, but if someone more important catch them in the act, it will be far too difficult to conceal the evidence.
As a knight, Lancelot du Lac's senses are still spread sharp and wide, always in full alert even during this heated moments. His lover will get angry if she catch him doing this, claiming that he should pay more attention to her, so he learns to do it discreetly. He only does this because he knows the nature of the people living in the castle: knights who're borderline superhuman, a sneaky magus, and the intelligent king. There's no such thing as being too careful.
That said, it's not as if the sensations he's feeling right now is no distraction in itself. Besides being a breathtakingly beautiful woman, having sexual intercourse with Queen Guinevere herself carries with it a sense of immorality and disloyalty, which, shamefully, only serves to heighten his pleasure. This disturbing part of his personality is usually kept down during other times, but it's let loose only when they're alone. He's aware of this... bad habit, but instead of working to erase it, he feels a guilty pleasure in indulging it.
More and more, both their moans get louder and louder as their movements become more frantic, moving in concert with each other's body to achieve more and more bodily pleasure. Sharp, wet sounds accompany their dance, entwining their minds together in a mad rush. A musky scent spreads around the room, which, in hindsight, is very difficult to remove, but this issue occupies the last spot in their minds.
A few moments later, muffled groans echo as they both reach their respective climaxes.
A slender pair of hands circle around Lancelot's well-built torso, chaining him momentarily in place. Guinevere exerts more strength into her arms, toppling her lover under her on the bed. However, Lancelot softly smiles and kisses her forehead, before removing himself from her embrace.
"I have to report soon, Gwen," calling her by her nickname, he dresses up and moves towards the door. "I'll make it up later, sorry."
She smiles at him in understanding. However, the moment the door closes, her cheerfulness disappeared like smoke. She throws herself back into the bed, savoring the remaining scent of her lover before it disappeared. A few dark emotions rise inside her heart, but the impact is minimal as she shut them out.
Many will say her actions are foolish. All the women inside the kingdom will do very unspeakable things just to be in her position, and all men will do the same to be in Lancelot's. They, however, do not know anything regarding the intrapersonal relationships and its problems inside the castle.
It's not as if her life is miserable. Far from it, in fact. As of why she betrays her king, it isn't because she harbors dark plans for Altria.
At the beginning, things are perfect.
Oh, how naive she was back then.
A decade ago, she and Altria were very young. They met when Altria was still a knight-in-training alongside Sir Kay, and the three of them spent their childhood together. The image was still vivid in her mind even until this day; the sharp-tongued and stubborn Kay, the quiet Altria, and the tag-along girl in herself was a strange trio in hindsight. However, those days were spent in relative peace and happiness, a memory she would cherish inside her heart.
And then... Altria pulled out that cursed sword.
She never understood her King's decision. Merlin had repeatedly warned her pulling that sword was tantamount to becoming a monster, as the price required was to abandon her humanity in order to be the 'perfect' king. It's a burden no human could possibly fathom, much less shoulder, but shouldered Altria did. It took a few years until Guinevere learned the whole truth.
The truth terrified her.
This whole kingdom... no, this farce of a kingdom was based and created on a simple, freaking prophecy. Oh, make no mistake, she held Merlin in high respect, but that very prophecy was what chained her best friend down, cursing her with the responsibility of a king on her immature self. Knowing all this, the Queen was livid.
She was there when Altria became king. She was there when her King achieved her first victory. She was there when her friend tasted defeat and despair. She was there when His Highness was hurt, not just her body, but her spirit.
Guinever was there when she broke, and she could do nothing about it.
However, Altria never complained, not in front of anyone else. Even in their private times, she merely smiled wearily and let herself be spoiled a bit by her Queen. The feeling of holding those slender arms, not much bigger than her own, drove daggers inside her own heart, as if it was gouged out. She hated it. She hated the crown, the throne, the Sword in the Stone.
She hated the world.
During the next few years, Altria and everyone close to her drifted away, all pursuing the King's image of an ideal kingdom. She was also one of them, however, the loneliness of being the perfect queen, combined with the weight of her responsibilities, made her facade crack.
Unknowingly to her, it was herself who broke, when everyone else had already healed their wounds from her nurturing and moved on.
Oh, how ironic life was.
At that moment, Lancelot became a part of her life. She had no longer remembered who exactly it was that made the first move, whether she was seducing him or he forced himself to her, but the result of their relationship was the moment just now.
Insecure. Fleeting. Afraid. Bittersweet.
However, it was satisfying nonetheless, at least during their moments together.
It was like a self-destructing drug, their love was. Both of them knew it was unhealthy and dangerous, yet they still chose to partake and indulge in them. Both of them knew the sensation would only last a few moments before the harsh reality came down on them like a cold waterfall. Both of them knew it would only end badly, lethal or not.
Their minds understood, but their bodies and hearts didn't.
After a few more minutes, she decides to go clean herself. The court needs some refreshing elements, she's told, and females are very much on top of the list. It won't do to keep them waiting, if only for appearances' sake.
She wishes that life will continue on like this.
'But these kinds of wishes are impossible...'
"No, no, no, no! Please, someo-"
"My son! My son! Where are you! I'm-"
Flames are everywhere.
Under his heel. Licking his back. Torching his front. Looming over his head. Flames are everywhere.
No, don't look at the flames.
That's it. One step at a time... one step...
My eyes snap open.
With practiced ease, I do my morning preparations, unnerved by the nightmare I just experienced. Whether this is due to me being used to it, hardening my mind, or I myself has transcended human emotions... I don't know.
Gazing around the simple camp I erected, my eyes swallow the information surrounding me. The multi-colored, ethereal world in my eyes melds seamlessly with the real one, allowing me access to its inner workings. After a quick sweep, my diamond-white eyes turn back into its original brown.
It's still several minutes before daybreak, perhaps a good hour before my usual waking time. However, I still makes my rounds, boiling water and washing my face, before cooking my own breakfast in the wild. A moment of laziness will be all it take to bring me to my ruin, so I continue on diligently.
I take a few seasonings from a small bag, then generously applies them to the boiling vegetables inside the pot to make a soup.
I begin my contemplation during the meal.
Normally, people who wake up early tend to dismiss the occasion as a one-off, and either do their morning preparations or doze off again. However, for a being like me, a divergence from my daily routine, ingrained through countless years of life, always means something else. It's maybe just a small case, or perhaps a catastrophically massive disaster, but this events always are a prelude, or a premonition, to an impending change in the life around me.
At this moment, it can only mean one thing.
'The pieces are all in place.'
At long last.,,
It's such a shame my student isn't here to hear my plans...
Well, she's always good at improvisation, so no worries.