The moon loomed in the horizon, clouds swirling around a center point situated in the sky. The night was still, the sounds of the cicadas on the trees out of season.
To be a magus is to walk with death.
He peered up at the sky; for within the sky was an anomaly: a dark void in which found writhing within were tendrils of lightning, and the vibrating thrum of thunderclaps.
"Thou clad in taint and steel- of fire and ruin,"
A voice was ebbing through his head. Ancient, otherworldly, but unmistakably pure and devoid of any ill intentions.
"I know I'm not what it is that you were expecting,"
He felt his body growing light, his body steadily radiating bursts of foreign energy.
"Regardless," the voice seemed to grow weary. "I need your help."
His vision blurred, flecks of black forcing him into unconsciousness.
In a brilliant flash of light, He disappeared from the world. His was the story of a boy born in fire. His was the story of boy who defeated a living legend. And so began the tale of an even greater impossibility.
Shirou opened his eyes, breathing heavily. His short red hair was matted over his forehead which was glistening with sweat. As for the rest of him, his sleek and narrow face had traces of blood from his previous battle trailing down past his amber coloured eyes. His clothes were in tatters. A pair of jeans were reduced to nothing but torn up shorts, and his previous blue and white long-sleeved shirt was split down the center.
His gaze darted to his surroundings: A ruined mansion steadily being eaten away by scorching flames. He shivered from an unpleasant memory and got up on his feet.
His body felt lighter, stronger, and more resilient to the heat around him.
"It's good that you've woken up."
The aged voice once again spoke to him.
He frowned, unable to understand where it was coming from. "Who are you?" He asked.
A glow quickly spread out from in front of him, and from it, a small hand-sized chalice appeared. It was gold, the sides of the cup engraved with archaic designs in which flying doves were depicted soaring through the skies.
Staring at it, and the power it exuded, he could only conclude it to be one thing: The Holy Grail.
He stepped back, as far as he remembered, the Grail had been corrupted.
"Fear not," the voice spoke. "It's not completely what you believe it to be."
With another glow, the Grail shrunk to the size of a single pea before it formed into a necklace around his neck using strings created from another burst of light.
"You may know this to be a powerful mystic code, but regardless of its origin, its symbol alone is what is truly needed to be taken into consideration."
He crossed his arms. As a third-rate magus, he wasn't familiar about mystic codes, nor about the significance a powerful one could play, but he did know one thing. "It's corrupted," he spoke.
The voice didn't speak in response, yet instead a quiet sigh could be heard.
"A matter for another time. For now, grab those chess pieces-" He glanced at the red chess pieces callously scattered across the damaged floor. Some looked normal while others possessed oddities in their make."-and filter your energy into them."
He stood there for a moment, looking at the fires of the burning house and made his decision. Even if he wanted answers, it would be far better to first find a safer place.
He nodded his head, and one by one, he began to pick up the chess pieces until he gathered all within his hands. They were all ruby like, gleaming in the light of the flickering flames. Oddly enough, the most important piece, the King, was missing. Remembering what he was instructed, he hesitated for a moment, before he began to seep his energy within the pieces.
"Our fate is ours to command."
He raised a brow as the pieces began glowing, levitating, and swirling in a storm of red.
"Thou who art clad in steel and battle born instinct; those who fight fate with thy sword, thy bow, and thy lance."
"-Shut and fill."
"-Shut and fill."
"-Shut and fill."
A knight and a disfigured pawn, a queen and a pawn, and a bishop and a pawn, collided in a shower of sparks and light.
He glanced away to avoid the glare of the light, and when he glanced back, three new pieces hovered a meter away from him. They were roughly the same size and colour as the chess pieces, but they each depicted the upper half of a different warrior.
One wore light armour and wielded a lance. Another doned similar armour yet wielded a drawn bow. As for the final piece, it wore heavy armour, and its face was obscured by the visor of its helmet. Wielded firmly in its hands was a sword pointing towards the sky.
"To thou who art misguided and left unfulfilled. Take heed to the unworthy blasphemer and shroud thyself in madness!"
Two rooks were next to collide. However, rather than a shower of sparks, thick shadows extended from the ground and wound themselves around the pieces.
The piece produced resembled the Greek minatour, its eyes narrowed.
"Thou who standith alone within the darkness of the shadows, slinking, roaming, becoming the reaper of lost and wretched souls- Take arms I bid thee! Take arms!"
"-Shut and fill!"
"-Shut and fill!"
The collision of five pawns perfectly mended together to form the image of a skull masked man with twin daggers.
"Thy hands that are stained in the ichor of magic beyond mortal means, raise them up and call forth the storms!"
A disfigured bishop imploded on itself and produced a man in robes wielding a staff.
"O nobleman of the swift steed, the time of horses has long since come to an end. Let legends live and fly! On mighty mounts, thou shall wrest the skies and the very earth beneath thy feet."
"-SHUT AND FILL!"
"-SHUT AND FILL!"
The final piece, a disfigured knight reduced itself to ashes and formed into the image of an armoured rider.
"My fate, is your fate, and your fate is mine. Thus, our fate is ours to command."
The new floating pieces hovered down until they rested against his outstretched palms. No sooner, they sank within him.
Startled, he just stared at where the pieces used to be before the voice began talking again.
"It is done."
"What did you do? And what about the King piece?" Shirou asked. He may not have been a chess player, but even he would know of the most important piece.
"It has already served its purpose. Now hurry and move towards that magic circle before you."
He walked over to the circle and bent over to inspect it. The magic circle was rather large, thick strips of red clawing out from the inner most portion of the circle.
"Place your hand over the circle, there should be a link between you and it. We shall deal with getting away from this world from there."
"And where is here exactly?" He asked confused.
"We're currently in the underworld- the presence of devil kind is unmistakable."
His eyes widened from the news. All the stories he had ever heard have always depicted the underworld to be a place of evil. Devils even more so. His body tensed.
"You said 'the presence of devils'," he stated as his eyes narrowed. "Are they close?"
"Yes, you'd best hurry and pour some energy into the magic circle, although you best be prepared about where you end up, I have no control about such things."
Nodding, he quickly disappeared as soon his hand made contact, leaving behind the burning residence. Even as the walls, curtains, and furniture began to topple and fade into ash, a burning portrait of a Great Devil still hung tenuously by a wall. A lion of power, health, altrification, and engineering. One of the seventy-two pillars of hell, the head of the house of Marbas.
In a remote church in the country of Italy near Milan, a woman stood training out in the fields. She had blue hair and wore the white garbs of a nun as she continuously swung her sword. Sweat was glistening over her narrow face, her high cheek bones making it so that the droplets all collected down her chin. She breathed out slowly, closing her dark-yellow eyes as she began to frown.
Her name was Xenovia Quarta, and she seldom found herself interested in anything that wasn't training, but that changed the day she heard of him.
He lived in the forest, down where the small creek behind the church split off into two narrow branches of water. It was a relatively quiet place with a small clearing where the sun's rays bypassed the forest canopy.
She had been skeptical at first about his existence, often scoffing at the name of the 'Wiseman of the Forest.' Hell, she couldn't stop the twitch that formed over her eye when she heard 'the Holy man of the Church Creek.'
Of course, mother Griselda had admonished her for her poor tolerance, but the scolding didn't leave a lasting impression. She just couldn't understand how a man living by a creek could possible best her fellow church peers. They were all training to be Holy sword users, a true honour if she had anything to say about it.
When questioned about the origin of 'Holy' in the mysterious man's name, every answer was vague. In a general consensus, a majority of the common view attributed 'Holy' to his presence alone. Even the aspiring apprentices of the high priests with their detection magic could only stiffly nod in agreement.
Something just wasn't right about him, and she didn't understand why no one had confronted him about it. Even if he possessed a holy aura, the church still had its rules about outsiders: heathens really.
Therefore, it was mid-Tuesday-morning that she decided to venture out to the creek herself.
Nothing was really out of place by the creek. The old tree she had frequented as a child still had the practice marks from her early sword training days and she could vaguely see the spot where she and mother Griselda used to spar.
She moved further along the creek, looking for any signs of red; by the brief description given to her, it would be the easiest colour to spot after all.
Xenovia's ears perked up to the familiar sound of sword swings. She recognized them since she herself was a practitioner of the art.
A sword, an extension of one's body, mother Griselda had once told her of such a phrase. One can tell of the relative skill of a swordsman based on the sound of their blade alone. Which was why she couldn't keep her brow from twitching in annoyance. The sound of the swings was not even close precise, nor did it seem as if the blows had any purpose.
She turned and zeroed in on the sound.
Xenovia paused, his swings, they were improving.
Intrigued, she found herself crouched behind a thick foliage of vegetation as she gazed at the man before her. He had auburn hair and golden-brown coloured eyes. On his body, he wore a plain long sleeve and dark denim pants. Upon closer inspection, she couldn't feel anything remotely similar to holy aura around him.
She let out a breath and continued watching him. Based on his appearance, it didn't seem as if he was any older than her, give or take a year or so.
The man's blades went. He wielded twin practice swords, both made of intertwined layers of bamboo. She didn't know how he possessed such practice swords out in the wilderness of the creek, but they were durable much like the ones she used in the church.
He was indeed getting better by the sound of his swings.
Her eyes narrowed.
"Tighten your grip around your pinky," she said as she stepped out from the foliage. "It makes your swings more stable."
The man grinned.
"Thank you," the man said as he relaxed his shoulders, turning his head and giving her his attention. "Did you come to talk about something?" He asked.
"What makes you say that?" She said curiously.
"Well, kind of hard not to when you left your sword over there."
Her mouth gaped open before her eyes flickered down towards her hands which had previously been holding her practice sword. After careful inspection, gazing at the man to ascertain where he was staring at, she found her sword stuck within the foliage. Noticing the man's knowing look, she straightened up to preserve as much dignity as possible before coughing onto her hand.
"W-We will have words." She said as her cheeks flared a rosy hue.
"By all means," The man smiled. "But I don't have any tea or refreshments to offer."
"I'd be surprised if you did in the middle of the woods."
She walked carefully towards the man who had placed his practice swords down. She was still suspicious of him and more than a little miffed at herself for her blunder. "State your intentions." She said.
"Living within church property."
"Oh, that." He scratched his head and sighed. "It wasn't exactly my idea, and besides, all I've been doing is training."
Her eyes drifted towards the man's practice swords. "You aspire to be a swordsman?" She asked.
"Well, no, not really," the man responded with a tilt of his head. "I want to be a hero, someone like an Ally of Justice."
For a moment, she nearly lost her composure as she could feel the laughter beginning to bubble up within her, but she held strong. She sighed. "I'm starting to find it kind of dumb that I worked myself up over something like this. Xenovia Quarta." She introduced herself.
"Shirou Emiya." The man spoke. "A pleasure to meet you."