If you were to examine the life of one Shirou Emiya, you might say he has the worst luck of any child.
Losing his memory at the tender age of seven, being kidnapped a scant three years later to be used as an experiment by the holy church, rescued by a vampire a scant year after when the project was forcibly disbanded leaving only him and one other alive, almost losing his adopted father a year after that...
It was a miracle he could still smile.
But if you were to look closer, you'd realize that 'smile' was just a mask. Something to hide his true self.
For you see Shirou Emiya, contrary to popular belief, wasn't a human with the rare skill of being able to use a full Reality Marble. Nor was he a normal Magus as the Mages Association would consider him.
It wasn't until the day Kiritsugu knew he was going to die that he realized Shirou wasn't a fourth-rate Magus.
He was a Devil. One from an old family, if he had already been given his Evil Piece set.
From that day on, Kiritsugu was reborn as a Devil, specifically the Pawn of Shirou Emiya, his son. He didn't mind, as it meant he still had a chance to end the same suffering he saw as a child and even helped move along as an adult.
Besides, he had a new lease on life, since he would likely live to see his daughter again, and Shirou had already agreed to turn her into a Devil to save her from the fate that awaited her.
Jubstacheit would almost certain turn her into a lesser Grail, both to get revenge on Kiritsugu and because she was already born to the previous one. And the Lesser Grail never lived past the war, or if they did it was for far too brief a time. If she were a Devil, then Illyasviel would live.
At the moment, however, he was trying to locate the man responsible for almost killing Shirou and the other survivor of the Holy Sword Project, Kiba Yuuto.
Kiba had been shocked to hear from Shirou...but also glad. Because it meant he wouldn't be alone when it came time to destroy the Excalibur copies.
If there was one thing Shirou hated, it was Excalibur. And hearing the "wish", if one could call it that, of it's owner only made that hatred solidify.
Arturia (because apparently history got the King's gender mixed up) wanted to erase her eligibility for Kingship. She wanted someone else to draw the sword, feeling as though she had been unworthy due to how her legend ended.
Shirou hated it. It was because of the fake Holy Swords that his friends had to suffer and were killed. It was because of Arturia (through Kiritsugu's Command) that the fire in Fuyuki started.
He even had a shrine in his workshop solely for those children sacrificed to that damn project. Their names were etched into his memory forever.
Shirou looked outside through his dining area to the small courtyard outside his house. Officially, he was an "orphan" after the night he turned his dad into a Devil. Kiritsugu had managed to fake his body and had it cremated to hide the evidence.
For all intents and purposes, Kiritsugu Emiya was dead. Shirou even had a proper shrine made to keep up the illusion.
Instead his father went around acting as his eyes and ears, trying to find out certain things in Shirou's stead...like the location of the copy Excalibur swords, the priest behind the slaughter of the Holy Sword project...and the priest who initially kidnapped his son and shipped him to that place.
Kiritsugu had already figured out how Shirou had escaped detection as a Devil by the church.
Avalon, the sheathe of Excalibur, was a Phantasm created by faerie magic. As Faeries were naturally opposed to Holy magic (though not to the same extent as Devils were) it was only common sense that it would resist holy grounds, even passively.
Obviously the resistance Avalon presented against holy objects and auras was stronger than whatever faith might be present in modern humanity. That and Shirou had openly admitted to being a member of the Shinto/Buddhist faith, and thus had no reason to believe in the Catholic/Christian "God" in the first place, let alone have a cross.
The fact he had never touched a cross or holy water, let alone touch a weapon made of Light, meant that there was no reason to suspect him as anything but a particularly empty child. One who was only just now recovering from losing all his memories.
Seventeen year old Shirou managed to get up and get ready for the day. Sakura would be here soon, and with her Taiga would generally follow.
Shirou had mixed feelings about Sakura. On one hand, she was obviously a Magus, and she was also abused at home. Likely by that ass Shinji or her grandfather...however as long as she kept her silence, Shirou could do nothing.
On the other hand, there was a lot of potential power in her. Enough that Shirou would openly offer her one of the open positions as his Evil Piece. Zelretch's explanation was very detailed, and he made it clear he expected the red-headed Devil to stir up some chaos as payment.
"Crap, crap, crap... stupid Shinji had to take his damn time cleaning the club..."
Shirou was in a foul mood, because he was late to make dinner... and Taiga got extra bitchy when she was hungry. Sakura was good, but she had trouble making the large quantities Taiga often demanded.
Shinji, who hated the fact Shirou was the vice-captain despite having a slightly noticeable scar on his shoulder, decided to take his time cleaning the archery club room while complaining all the while that the captain gave Shirou permission to use him as target practice whenever he tried to skip out on it.
So now Shirou was hurrying home, hoping he didn't run into any trouble...especially with those stupid seals now currently branded on his hand.
He planned to get Taiga drunk tonight so he could talk to Sakura and hopefully see her feelings on the matter. Odds were she had recognized them and might be open to a partnership.
It wasn't like he cared for the grail, considering Kiritsugu had told him the thing was corrupted and would only cause death if used. And the only wish he might have was to find out who his birth family was.
And that was something Kiritsugu was currently looking into for him, so he didn't need it.
He honestly didn't get why the Grail chose him, unless it was because of the fact he was one of the few magic users in town.
So when he heard the sound of battle, it was only natural he stopped.
Shirou stared for five seconds. Then he shook his head in disbelief and kept on walking.
Unfortunately, his shitty luck kicked in, yet again.
He really needed to find out why he had such terrible luck and punch the bastard responsible for it.
Just as he had that thought, without any reason why, the red-armored guy with two swords sneezed three times. Everyone was so surprised that they all stared.
'Oh...so he's a Servant. Wait...why did he sneeze?! Is he the bastard who put this damn luck curse on me? I swear to Lucifer when I find that bastard he's a dead man!' thought Shirou.
Once again, he sneezed.
"Do you have a cold or something, sword-boy?" asked the guy in blue.
"Archer...?" said Rin Tohsaka, the school's idol.
"Someone must be talking about me behind my back," said Archer, highly confused.
Shirou once again had murderous thoughts about the jerk who cursed him. 'Archer' sneezed again. The guy in blue backed up, obviously not wanting to catch whatever it was Archer had.
Shirou's eyes narrowed. He didn't even think twice about what he did next.
"You. You're the reason my luck's been extra shitty for years, aren't you?!" said Shirou irate.
Everyone turned to face him. Rin's face was openly surprised.
"Emiya-san?" she said in shock. It was clear what her thought processes were.
"Oi, Archer, was it? Did you by any chance cast a luck curse at some point?" asked Shirou, his voice perfectly calm, but his face twitching.
Archer blinked a few times.
"I might have tried to cast a curse on a certain trolling vampire, but it never stuck...why?"
Archer barely blocked the punch to the face.
Shirou was definitely pissed.
"Well clearly Zelretch thought it hilarious to redirect your damn curse on me, asshole! Prepare to DIE!" shouted Shirou.
Redirecting a curse on some random person did sound like the infamous Zelretch. Even Kiritsugu had commented how odd it was that Shirou had all the luck of a Lancer Servant.
And by that he meant none at all.
"Hey, brat! This is our fight!" said Lancer.
"...Care to share? I have a serious beef with the idiot who got a curse stuck on me that makes my luck as bad as a Lancer-type Servant," deadpanned Shirou.
The guy in blue, who Shirou suspected was Lancer, blinked before a slow grin crept on his face.
"How bad we talking about here?"
"Amnesia at seven, kidnapped at nine, rescued by the ultimate troll at ten and I lost my dad at twelve. What the hell do you think?" said Shirou flatly.
Lancer whistled. That was some shitty luck.
"Be that as it may, can't let witnesses survive kid," said Lancer.
Shirou rolled his eyes, before revealing the command seals on his right hand.
"Now that changes things. He's all yours kid."
"Arashiki-sensei keeps a bottle of sake in the third drawer of his desk, if you're interested. It's probably in the teacher's lounge, the second desk next to the outside window," said Shirou helpfully.
Lancer's grin was wide.
"I like you kid. I like you a lot," said Lancer, laughing as he went to raid the desk.
"Shirou...what are you planning to do to Archer?" asked Rin.
Shirou looked at her.
"His curse landed on me, giving me a lifetime of crappy luck. The most I'll do is pound his face in, since I highly doubt I could literally strangle him to death."
Rin stared him in the eye, then considered what she would have done if Kirei had done the same thing.
"...You have ten minutes. After that if you're still here we're going to have a very long, unpleasant talk."
Shirou cracked his knuckles ominously, with a rather terrifying smile on his face.
Archer had a bad feeling about this.
Rin came back seven minutes later, and she couldn't help but stare.
"...How the hell did a mere human beat a Servant black and blue?" she wondered out loud. Seeing as how Archer wasn't in any shape to move, she grabbed his collar and started dragging him home.
"So why are you following me again?"
"My asshole of a 'Master' ordered me to observe the Servants that got summoned and to see how strong they were. Since you're probably going to summon one soon enough, might as well follow you," deadpanned Lancer.
"...How was the sake?"
"Good enough, but not enough to get me drunk."
"I thought Servants were supposed to try and get along with their Masters?"
"He's not my original master. He damn near killed the woman who summoned me, and left her for dead. He stole her Command Seals, so now I'm stuck with him," said Lancer.
Shirou's mind was whirling.
"If you could switch Masters for someone who would actually let you fight and not be an observer, would you?"
"You planning on killing him and snagging me?" asked Lancer.
"No way. For one, he'd likely use a Seal to force you to defend him, or has some other trap waiting. I had another idea I've been wanting to try since my dad mentioned Servants. If it works, then I can still summon my own. If I don't like them, then I'd still have a Servant anyway. Besides, I keep the liquor cabinet well stocked for my guardian, and I get a discount from work," said Shirou.
"Oh? And what makes you think I'd join up with an admittedly amusing brat like you?"
"I want to destroy Excalibur and help my fallen friends gain some peace in the afterlife."
Lancer was giving Shirou an odd look. Shirou didn't even notice or care.
"When Excalibur was found again, it was in seven pieces. The Church reforged them into seven copies of the original, all with the same power imbued in a holy sword. A couple of years ago, a priest created something called the Holy Sword Project, which was meant to find a way to give more people a way to use such artifacts artificially. All but two children were slaughtered for such a selfish idea...just so someone could wield Excalibur's copy. Because of that, I want to find the bastard who started the Project and kill him...and destroy Excalibur from existence once and for all. I'll never forgive them for what they did."
Lancer was silent, though his opinion of the odd red head had definitely gone up.
"Okay, I'll bite. What's your plan to snag me as a Servant without killing the bastard with my seals?"
"That would be telling, and I have to get something from my house in order to pull it off. I don't exactly carry them around. If you could be given a boost though, what would you want? Speed? Defense? Or would you rather be a support specialist?"
Lancer might take all his remaining Pawns, so he'd stick to the ones that didn't require a promotion to be really effective.
"I'm a speed specialist," said Lancer after thinking about it.
He wasn't really considering whatever the kid had in mind, but he was humoring him.
"Well that just makes it easier. Hope you don't mind being referred to as a 'Knight'," said Shirou.
Lancer gave him an odd look.
Shirou went into his room and gathered one of his Knight pieces. He had only used the Pawn up until this point, and he had no idea if it would even work.
Seeing Lancer scouring his liquor cabinet, Shirou tossed him the chess piece in his hand. Lancer caught it before it hit him in the head.
"...A knight piece? Wait a minute..."
Lancer hadn't really looked at Shirou before now. So when Shirou unleashed a pair of midnight black wings for a brief moment, he put his hand to his face in exasperation.
"A Devil. So that's how you were able to beat that sword-wielding idiot into the ground. So that's your plan? Turning me into your Knight?"
"Worth a try, and it means that if it works I get some really powerful people as members of my Peerage," said Shirou.
"Hmm...service to a fake priest, or to a devil. Kid, how many pieces do you have?"
"I've only used the Pawn until this point," admitted Shirou.
"If my previous Master is still alive, could you revive her?"
"There are limits, but if she's willing then yes."
Shirou went outside and had Lancer stand in the middle of a very old magic circle that had sprung up when he had tossed Lancer the Knight piece. In the center was a crest, though Shirou had only seen it once before, when he turned his dad into a pawn, shortly after he realized Kiritsugu wasn't breathing.
There were limits to resurrecting someone that way, and there were only a set number of pieces that couldn't be brought back once used up, but the fact was that Shirou hadn't thought twice about bringing his dad back.
Lancer felt a slight burning as the power of the Command Seals over him were destroyed. Kirei definitely felt something as well, because he made a last ditch effort to forcibly summon him.
But the power of a corrupted priest was no match for something like a Devil. Especially if it was a pure blood.
It was actually very liberating, being freed from that damn priest...even if it meant he was now a Devil's Servant.
Lancer could see his newly formed wings, and he didn't feel an iota of guilt for agreeing to this.
"Lancer, while I'm summoning my Servant, I want you to find your original Master. If they are still alive, I'll make the same offer I made you. If they died very recently, like within the past day or so, I can still revive them as a Piece. Any longer than that, and we'll at least give them a proper burial depending on their customs."
"You got it kid. You're definitely a more decent person than that fake priest was."
Lancer took off, feeling as if a great burden had been removed from his back.
"Now...what was that summoning spell again? Oh yeah, now I remember..." said Shirou to himself.
It was going to be a long, long night.