Hello again internet, Neolyph here with another chapter of A Broken Wizard and a Broken Magus! I don't have a ton of stuff to say in the A.N, other than that this chapter contains my first lemon, although it will be posted in a separate story. Remember to read and review. When I'm down, reviews are what motivate me to keep writing.
Now for reviews!
Nightmare723764: In a sense. I hope to do it a little better than Lupine Horror, but kind of.
Wernnon: Yes I am going to the Potterverse after this arc, just like I did in the original. The difference will be where and when. And he will eventually end up as Zelretch's apprentice, much like Rin ended up in canon.
Shinku Ryuuga: Assassin is a canon Servant, the No-Name Assassin. This chapter will explain why she doesn't fit the description.
Rimtuuk: Well, hopefully this chapter will suit you a little better.
DalkonCledwin: That's true about Kiritsugu and Kirei, but both of them are anomalies among magi, and Harry is reading from Kiritsugu's playbook. Gilgamesh is an unknown and no familiar is going to detect an Assassin. As for the female Sabers, it is some real counter-intuitive shit to think that a ton of male heroes were genderflips.
Now on with the show!
Chapter 6: Tunnel Vision
As the crest worms consumed the last of the late Shinji Matou, Harry knelt down at the edge of the pit to retrieve the small notebook that had fallen out of the older boy's pocket during his struggling. He smiled slightly at the Book of False Attendance, an idea forming in his head.
This one would no longer be necessary, however, so with a pulse of prana he dissolved it and let its command seal flow back into him. It reappeared on his arm with a painful burning sensation.
"Come," he instructed his two Servants, switching his cane back to his right hand and ascending the stairs back to the manor. For once, the worms behind him didn't shriek in disappointment.
Despite knowing that she was hovering at his shoulder, Assassin's presence was otherwise undetectable to him. Her footstep was inaudible, her breath silent, and her clothing muffled. In short she was the polar opposite of Berserker who clumsy staggered up the narrow passageway with all the ease and subtlety of a Sherman tank.
Quite a pair, they were.
"Assassin," he said offhandedly, "tell me about yourself."
"Ahh, where should I begin, Master?"
Harry shrugged. "Where are you from?"
"I am from Persia, although apparently it is called Iran now, Master."
"Really?" Harry inquired, pausing near the end of the stairs to turn and remind himself of his Servant's light skin, blue eyes, and blonde curls. "You don't look Persian."
Assassin bowed her head slightly to conceal her face beneath her hood, and when she straightened Harry found himself face to face with an entirely different woman. Where there had once been Victorian-esque features were now those of a thin and reedy Middle Eastern girl. A ludicrous bosom and curves had been traded for a petite, skinny frame. After a few moments of examination, she bowed her head again and resumed her original form.
"During my studies, I learned how to alter my visage in order to appeal to a target. When I felt your summons, I surmised that you hailed from the land known as England, and assumed a fitting form to match your tastes. Does it, Master?"
Harry swallowed involuntarily, somewhat concerned at the notion of Assassin 'altering her visage' to meet his 'tastes'. Nevermind the fact that she'd confirmed his suspicion that he'd been British prior to Zouken kidnapping him. He'd spoken English with the accent, but he'd never been sure.
As they finally exited the basement, Harry turned and made for the parlor. "Keep whatever form you're comfortable with. Where did you study altering your visage?"
"I was taken in as an orphan and raised by the Old Men of the Mountain."
"So you're a Hassan-i-Sabbah yourself, then?" Harry asked excitedly. He'd been right about the religious motivation.
Immediately, he knew he'd struck a nerve as Assassin tensed up like a bowstring. "I... was never given the title, Master. I spent my whole life training for it, but in the end, the elders found me wanting. I could only recreate the Zabaniya techniques of past Hassan-i-Sabbahs, but I could not call on my own. The title was given to my rival."
At seeing the woman so distressed, Harry's 'Sakura Instincts' kicked in and he immediately sought to comfort her. He turned to grip her shoulder affirmingly. "Well I've only seen you use two I believe, and I'm already impressed. How many do you know?"
Assassin's soft blue eyes darted to the hand on her shoulder before flicking to read the entirety of its owners face. Hesitantly, her body loosened a fraction. "Eighteen," she said, a tentative note in her voice, "from the eighteen masters before me. I studied and mastered each of their miracles. When I presented them to the elders, they called me a childish imitator."
"Eighteen?" Harry demanded harshly and his grip instinctively tightened. "You can use the techniques of all eighteen Hassan-i-Sabbahs before you?"
"Yes," Assassin whimpered.
"And the elders called you childish?"
Another nod. At this point, Harry looked up to see the affect his words were having on the Servant and moved to hastily correct the damage. "That's wonderful!" he assured her glowingly. "Your elders were either foolish enough to discard you or wise enough to fear you. You, Assassin... are precisely what I need to secure victory in this war."
Assassin was silent for a long moment, before Harry suddenly found himself engulfed between two fleshy mounds. He struggled a short while before his Servant finally remembered herself and leapt backwards so quickly that he didn't even see the move.
"I beg your forgiveness, Master!" she shrieked and prostrated herself before him.
Harry decided to be understanding. Apparently, he had just unpacked some emotional baggage for her. "It's fine. Just... be a tad more careful in the future. If Sakura saw that, she might have gotten the wrong idea."
An odd still came over Assassin. "Yes," she said with an indecipherable tone, "Mistress Sakura. It would be best if she did not worry."
"Precisely," Harry replied neutrally, unable to work out her meaning other than determining its lack of threat. "Speaking of, what precisely are your thoughts on her?"
After two quick knocks, Harry entered his and Sakura's bedroom to see his fiancee slowly brushing her sister's raven hair. Rin was absolutely rigid, but he chalked that up to the presence of Assassin at his shoulder and the knowledge of an astralized Berserker behind him.
"Ladies," he greeted, smiling broadly. "It's so good to see you're getting along."
Sakura rested her head in the crook of Rin's neck as she beamed up at him. "I know, dear! It's wonderful having a sister again! Isn't that right, Rin?"
The Tohsaka heir matched her sister's smile perfectly. "Absolutely wonderful, sister."
Harry stepped further into to room, bringing Assassin along with him. "Assassin here and I have spoken and reached an agreement. Pet, if you could come her for a moment and give me your hand?"
A bemused Sakura followed her fiance's instruction, presenting her soft hand before him. He turned it palm-up and drew the dagger from his cane's handle. With his free hand, he retrieved a small leather notebook from his vest pocket. In his mind, the key of an engine turned, and it roared to life. Prana pulsed through his circuits as they warmed with a familiar ache.
"A Book of False Attendant?" Sakura deduced, her gaze turning towards Assassin. Harry only nodded, focused on his work. The Crest Worms shivered beneath his skin, but in their prana-saturated state they obeyed his will. From them he called the ingrained spell of Zouken's design to transfer a command seal into a tome.
He cut a line across Sakura's palm and let the blood drip onto the book's pages. It soaked in, crimson red, and slowly began moving about to form runes and glyphs, binding Sakura to Assassin and vice versa. To finish the process, a command seal flowed from Harry's wrist and coiled itself on one of the pages.
As the ritual completed, Harry let the warmth of his circuits fade. "There. Now I don't have to worry about being drained of prana, nor of someone hurting you. She'll be your perfect hidden bodyguard. Take her everywhere with you, understand?"
Sakura nodded. Harry continued, "The one request Assassin has made of me is that she be permitted to stay manifested when possible. Naturally I agreed so she'll be taking the role of your handmaiden. As you are a noble heir by the standards of the Association, nobody will question it too closely."
"Makes sense," said Sakura, before looking over to Assassin. "Do you know the role?"
The blonde dipped her head in affirmation, bowing slightly at the waist. "Yes, Mistress. I was taught conduct and service as part of my training. For infiltration, but it suffices."
"Good. Then there should be no problems." Sakura smiled beatifically, the perfect image of innocent and purity. Ironically, it only fooled one person in the room.
"Wonderful," Harry cheered, cleaning the dagger with a handkerchief before replacing it in the cane and giving Sakura the Book of False Attendance. He turned to Rin, who had previously been staying out of the conversation. "Rin, I know it's getting a tad late but if we leave now we can still retrieve your things before dinner tonight."
Rin immediately stood. "Oh my, I nearly forgot about that!"
"Let's go then."
In the white van Harry had purchased years ago for utility purposes, it only took twenty minutes to cross town and reach the Tohsaka manor. He pulled the van up on the sidewalk by the moss-covered gate and killed the engine.
Cane in hand, he hopped out and strolled around to open Rin's door for her and assist her out. The gesture may have seemed a tad outdated, but upbringing with a noble magus family invariably instills certain values in anyone; etiquette high among them.
As he touched the gate leading to the side of the house, immediately he felt the bounded fields lock on to him. Curious, he willed his left eye, the artificial one, to visualize prana. Tendrils of mana appeared in the air, floating around him in deliberate but nearly incomprehensible patterns. Only years of Thaumaturgical education allowed him to piece together the natures of the overlapping bounded fields from the pranic flow.
He was impressed. Were it not for the lack of hostile intent, these fields would be raining jeweled spells down on him like explosive hail. Although, with Aegis, he'd still probably survive.
"After you," he said, unlatching the gate and opening it before Rin. She nodded thankfully, and fumbled her keys out of her pocket and into the antique door's aged lock.
The second the door was open, water flooded out inches high.
"No," she breathed. Denial.
"No!" she shouted. Anger.
"No! Please No!" she begged, rushing inside and running for the upstairs bathroom. Bargaining.
"Nooooooo!" she wailed after the first old, now waterlogged stair collapsed under her weight. She didn't even seem to notice the splinters. Looking up the staircase mournfully, she sunk into a ball at the foot of the stairs. Depression.
"NO!" she screamed, somehow having managed to find her way back to anger. Harry had to wonder how the others at school would react to seeing their idol throw a genuine red-faced, foot-kicking temper tantrum. Although, most of the men at least would be distracted by what the water was doing to her white blouse.
He wasn't a pervert. It was just that in his view, once you've had a threesome with an individual, the bounds of appropriate sexual conduct were broadened greatly.
Taking pity on his future sister-in-law, he knelt down and placed a hand in the shallow pool of water at his feet. An engine turned over in his mind, and suddenly the water surrounding him boiled off into vapor. More water immediately poured in, however, so he was forced to step past the borderline-catatonic Rin and find the source.
When the bloated wood of the stairs broke, several gleaming tentacles shot from Aegis and carried him to the second floor. From there, it was just a matter of following the flow to the bathroom.
The bathroom door was warped and bulging from the water damage, and Harry hesitated briefly before opening it. This was where Assassin had killed Archer. He thought it was odd that the Servant's body had apparently stuck around long enough for Rin to stumble across it, but he chalked that up the the fickleness of the Grail system. It had been designed in part by the Kaleidoscope, after all.
"Fortuna audaces iuvat," he mumbled, before pushing the door open. Water flooded out almost a foot high, and he could hear Rin spluttering several moments later at the bottom of the stairs when it reached her.
With Aegis' aid, he stalked through the torrent to where the large bath was still pumping out water. It seemed that all traces of Archer had dissolved by this point, because the body was absent, as was the message Assassin had written on the wall. He turned the taps off, finally bringing an end to the stream of water. Turning to survey the room as the liquid drained out the door, he felt a headache coming on.
He hoped Aegis would be able to formulate a mystery to repair water damage, because otherwise this was going to be a long cleanup process.
Back at the Matou Estate, Assassin had taken to her role of handmaiden with gusto. She'd been forced to read between the lines when her Master had proposed it, but she'd understood what this task truly was.
It was tentative approval.
She had not yet proven herself fully, but enough so that she was deemed worthy of the opportunity to serve his consort. It was her approval she would have to seek in order to enter his bed, after all. Mistress Sakura held what Assassin desired most of all, which was why she had to make her offer very carefully.
Currently, she was assisting her Mistress in the preparation of the evening meal, whilst looking for a way to broach the topic.
"So tell me," asked Sakura as she stirred a pot, "if Harry summoned you alongside Berserker, what have you been doing for the last four days?"
Assassin paused in chopping vegetables. This was the opportunity. "For the large part, shadowing Master and seeing to his protection. Aside from that, I've followed all goings-on in this manor."
Sakura nodded in acceptance of this answer, before freezing at its implication. "I see," she said with an air of forced civility, while mentally despairing, "and did you learn anything interesting?"
The cooking was ignored as both women stopped to face one another down. "I think," said Assassin tentatively, "that anything I witnessed was for the express benefit of my Master. I also think that, for the right price, I could be persuaded to aid in keeping certain meddling witches in line."
"And what would that price be?" Sakura asked tentatively, knowing that she would have to grant whatever it was. If Harry found out about her deal with Rin...
'Dirty. Vile. Disgusting. Wretched. Whore.'
She couldn't let that happen.
"I think you and I are... kindred spirits of a sort. We share similar mindsets. Similar drives. Similar... affections."
"You..." breathed Sakura, shocked and horrified as she drew the Servant's meaning.
"All I wish is to share in Master's affections. Permit me to do so, and I will aid you in ensuring your sister does as she's told."
"And if I refuse, you will expose me to Harry?"
"No," replied Assassin, surprising Sakura. "Even should you refuse, you will have my silence on the matter unless Master should ask me directly. I wish us to be allies, Mistress. Friends, even. Blackmail would be a poor start to that relationship."
Sakura considered the woman opposite her, before shaking her head. "I can't let you sleep with Harry. He's my fiance! Rin's bad enough!"
"You know he enjoyed it," Assassin countered, her voice laced with sweet temptation. "Having multiple women is the dream of any man, Master included. Think of me as... a sex toy. Something brought into bed to liven things up. I'll practically be an extension of you. You can even dictate my every action with regards to him. I shall only go so far as you allow."
Indecision wracked Sakura. Everything about this offer made sense and gave her what she wanted. But it would still mean letting another woman into Harry's bed.
'But do I really have the right to dictate that? To stand as the gatekeeper to his bedroom? I'm no better than Assassin. The only reason Harry started sleeping with me was because I couldn't control myself like the filthy, defiled creature I am. If I can make our... sessions more enjoyable, don't I have an obligation?'
Suddenly, she burst into the sort of laughter that only the damaged can have.
"Assassin," she said, extending her hand to the Servant, "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful partnership."
"Mistress," replied Assassin as she knelt and laid a kiss on the back of Sakura's hand in a gesture of subservience, "you may consider me at your disposal."
Fortunately, Aegis was able to provide Harry with the formula for a restoration mystery. While Rin bundled about the house gathering her things, he moved from room to room and began reversing the water damage. He made sure to take his time, since in his experience with Sakura few things took longer than a woman getting ready.
When Rin ventured into the basement, he took the opportunity to sneak a smoke. Now that he wasn't on Death's door, he could enjoy his tobacco without coughing blood.
The spiced smoke had a calming effect on him, allowing him to think with a clear head.
He wanted to take a run at Caster up in the Temple tonight, but that was impractical. While he had two Servants on his side, it would be the height of foolishness to ignore the potential ally he had in the Einzberns. It was also too late in the evening to seek them out without appearing to be an attacker. A day approach would be best to ensure a smooth negotiation.
That meant, presuming he could locate and ally the Einzberns, that he would be assaulting the Temple tomorrow night. It wasn't ideal. News of the sudden epidemic of unexplained fatigue and comas was constantly making front page of the papers, and people were beginning to talk of declaring a health emergency.
Still, overall he was doing fairly well for the War. Archer was dead, Berserker and Assassin his, Caster slated for death, Saber allying with him, if only temporarily. Rider and Lancer were still wild-cards, however, so he remained cautious.
He finished undoing the last of the flooding with time to spare. Quite a lot, in fact, as it was another hour before Rin finally emerged with a single bloated suitcase. Harry raised an eyebrow at it. "Is that all you need to take?"
"Don't make me second guess," begged Rin. "It was hard enough getting it down to this much."
"Right," replied Harry as he glanced down to his watch. "Well, we've missed dinner. I'm going to have to grab something on the way back."
It was a ten minute detour once Harry and Rin were loaded back in the van, but Fontanel's Ice Cream was always worth it. Harry had used it to capitalize on Sakura's carefully-hidden sweet tooth countless times before when he needed to placate her.
He ordered five to-go containers at the counter, purchasing one for Berserker just for the hell of it. It was during his self-examination in the reflective surface of the countertop that he saw something that made him freeze.
A short, white-haired girl was sitting next to a blonde woman at a table behind him, both consuming vast quantities of ice cream.
"Rin," he whispered as quietly as he could, "don't look 'round, but use the counter reflection. Are those the Einzberns behind us?"
Harry realized his mistake when he peaked at the reflection again and saw the blonde woman making eye-contact with him through it. He swallowed, taking refuge only in the fact that as one of the three founding families, the Einzberns wouldn't start a public confrontation.
'Then again, this one's an Emiya apparently.'
He could feel Berserker straining at his metaphysical leash, begging to be unleashed, but Harry clamped down on it. Not yet.
Seeing that the Saber had outed him to her Master, he strode over to the table with Rin following woodenly in his footsteps. The Servant tensed at his approach, but seemed to dismiss him after glancing at his cane.
Arrogant. He could work with that.
"May we?" he asked, gesturing to the two empty chairs at the table.
"Please," replied the homunculus. Harry pulled a seat out for Rin before sitting himself.
After glancing warily at the Saber for permission, he extended his hand to her white-haired Master. "Harry Matou. Representative for the family. I understand you and Rin here have already met."
"Yes we have. Illyasviel Emiya, but you're free to call me Illya," she replied cheerfully, taking his hand and shaking it delicately before turning to Rin. "And it's good to see you again! I'm so sorry we got interrupted last time."
"It's no trouble," said Rin, and Harry had to admit that her poker face was improving. She barely flinched at being addressed by an enemy Master. "I'm just glad everything worked out."
Harry grimaced. "Permit me to express my apologies for that bit of unpleasantness. When I sent Berserker scouting near the Temple, I was not expecting him to run into another Master, let alone two."
"So you are the Master of Berserker, then?" said the Saber suddenly, her detached glare suddenly growing sharp. The intensity of her gaze struck Harry like a physical force, and he was reminded of why despite the strength of Berserkers, Sabers were considered the most powerful Servants.
"Indeed," he answered carefully. "I understand you gave him quite the fight. Rin spoke highly of the prowess you displayed against him."
Either the flattery worked, or the Servant simply didn't care enough to press the issue because she resumed eating her ice cream and seemingly ignoring the conversation once more. Harry subtly exhaled in relief.
Illya examined the two other Masters closely. "Are the two of you allies, then? I've heard that the Matou and Tohsaka families were close, but I didn't think that extended to the War."
"Regrettably," said Harry, preempting Rin's response, "Rin's Archer was killed two nights ago by Assassin. Since we're not sure how he infiltrated her manor, and as Rin is my future sister-in-law, I granted her my protection."
Rin hesitated at Harry's omission of how Assassin was technically his Servant, but fortunately given the circumstances it appeared to the others as a remembrance of trauma.
"How awful!" exclaimed Illya, turning to Rin sympathetically. "I'm sorry to hear that. If I run into that fiend Assassin, I'll be sure to take him out of the War."
"Unfortunately," Harry said gravely, "I'm afraid an even larger fiend currently plagues this city. Our meeting was quite fortuitous, actually. I meant to seek you out tomorrow, but this saves us both time. Rin mentioned that before Berserker interrupted, the two of you were preparing to ally in the name of stopping Caster's madness. While our Servants did not meet on the best of terms, it is our duty as the Founding Families of the War to keep a semblance of order. If you are willing, I would have us ally for this cause."
A certain edge entered Illya's tone, and Harry realized that he'd entered dangerous territory. "Founding Family? I'm not certain what you mean."
"Please pardon me should I give any unintended offense," he began diplomatically, "but I presumed that you were the Einzbern Master. I've made no small study of alchemy, so I recognize a homunculus when I see one. Between that and the name Emiya, I gathered that you were at least representing them. Am I incorrect?"
"You are," Illya ground out tightly. "I no longer bear ties to the Einzberns. I represent myself in this War."
Harry knew that this question was hazardous, but he had to ask. "If I may, what is your relationship to Kiritsugu Emiya that you have assumed his name? I ask only because I'm something of a fan of his work."
Immediately, he saw that he'd apparently asked the right question as Illya's mood inverted to a bubbly cheerfulness once more. Rather dangerously mercurial, this girl. "Really? I've never met anyone that spoke highly of my father. I understand most magi hold him in contempt."
"Most magi are arrogant fools. Kiritsugu Emiya was a man who made the best of a bad hand and still managed to do some good in this world. I admire that."
"It's good to hear that. Few truly understood my father, but he was a good man at heart. To answer you earlier question: yes, Saber and I are willing to put our quarrels aside temporarily to stop Caster. Do you have a plan?"
"Not presently, but between us we have the two Servants with the highest magical resistance. We should be able to blast through whatever defenses Caster has placed. Some daytime reconnaissance would not be amiss, however. Let us go home for the night and reconvene here in the morning. May we escort you back to your lodgings? With Assassin on the prowl, even for a Master and Servant it is unsafe to wander alone at night."
"Of course!" replied Illya with all the guileless innocence of a child. "Safety in numbers. It will also give us some time to get acquainted."
As they rose to leave and Harry placed a freezing mystery over his ice cream, none of them noticed a man with golden hair watching them from the street, eyes ablaze with fury.
'You know,' said Illya to Saber over their mental link as Harry drove them back to their hotel, 'I do believe I recall being taught at some point that I should never get into white vans with strangers.'
'I think we have larger problems,' Saber replied. 'I have seen men like this one before. Hollow. That part about your father was the only genuine confession he revealed during that entire conversation. Magi like him have no loyalty or cause higher than themselves.'
Illya considered this, before dismissing it. 'I'm not sure. He's hollow like you say, but there's something behind those eyes. Or the one, anyway. I think we can trust him.'
'I will take great pleasure then in being right after I deflect the knife he tries to place in your back.'
'I'm not saying don't watch him, but I'm not throwing a potential ally in destroying the Grail. Anyone who respected my Father's work can't be wholly evil.'
Harry glanced at his passengers in the rear-view mirror. It was late at night by this point, and they were driving through the relatively-empty district that had burned down during the last War. "So if you don't mind my asking, Illya, how did Kiritsugu Emiya end up fathering a homunculus? From my reading I received the impression that they were naturally sterile."
"It was part of his payment from the Einzberns. My mother Irisviel was the Lesser Grail in the last War, and they modified her so that she could bear me."
"I see," Harry said, his face contemplative, "what ha—"
He was cut off by the sensation of an enormous prana source nearby. His foot barely had time to touch the brake pedal before something slammed into the front of the van like a bollard. The engine block caved in instantly, and the momentum of the vehicle carried it forward into a flip.
Harry's stomach seemed to rise into his throat as he and his passengers temporarily experienced weightlessness. Aegis could protect his body, but it couldn't shield him from the g-force. Black encroached in on the edges of his vision, and his breathing heightened. Time seemed to slow as adrenaline pumped through his veins.
Then the vehicle slammed back down onto the road. It slid another ten meters of its roof before finally coming to a stop. Smoke began emanating from its broken engine and he smelled gas.
With the cessation of motion, Harry's sensation returned to him. He was seated upside-down, his safety belt keeping him in place. A mental command had Aegis flow over his arm and form a knife that he used to cut himself free and fall to the shredded roof that the ground. Turning, he saw that Rin was in bad shape next to him. Her forehead was bleeding severely and the jagged metal of the engine block had pushed in and pinned her lower body.
"Rin," he called out. She stirred, but did not answer. From the backseat, he heard the sound of tearing metal and craned his neck to see the Saber cutting open the back of the van. Her Master was also unconscious and tucked under the Servant's arm. Once an opening was made, the blonde pulled herself out the back and vanished with Illya.
The smell of gas grew more pungent, and Harry felt a pool of it forming around him and staining his shirt.
He had to get Rin out. She could not die. He could not let her die.
Groaning, he braced himself against the console and used his Aegis-reinforced good leg to kick out the driver's side door. At a mental command, several metal tendrils flowed from his armor and delicately began peeling back the metal pinning Rin in. Once the final piece was pushed away, he cut the girl's seatbelt and caught her in his arms.
Placing his hands under her armpits, he backed out of the smoking vehicle and dragged her along with him. Aegis sent him a mental warning and he spun around as fast as he could. Crouching over Rin to shield her, he let his armor expand into a protective shell around them. The van detonated into an explosive fireball a second later that washed over the pair. Once it was safe, he rose to survey his surroundings.
In a word, he was pissed.
The key of an engine turned in his mind, and Berserker manifested by his side with a roar that demanded blood. Harry was more than happy to oblige. After a brief glance, he spotted where his cane had fallen and summoned it to his hand with a wind mystery. The runes inside glowed at his anger.
A figure stood in the dead center of the road, some ways off. He looked like a punk teenager, wearing an open-front white shirt and black jacket. His blonde hair was worn low and his red eyes seemed to gleam in the moonlight. The arrogant, almost challenging expression on his face left no doubt as to who had launched the attack.
"Berserker," Harry ordered simply. "Kill him."
His Servant needed no other orders. Like a murderous blur, the giant charged the target of his Master's ire with an enormous and crude axe held in one his his huge hands. It seemed as if Harry's veins were filled with molten lead as the Servant drew prana, but he powered through it. This pain was nothing.
The unknown attacker didn't even flinch. Instead, with an almost bored expression he lifted his hand and with a golden flash as sword shot over his shoulder at Berserker. It bounced off his skin like a pebble, and the blonde frowned slightly. Suddenly a dozen small circles appeared behind his head and launched their payloads at the enemy Servant.
Once more, Berserker blitzed through them like they weren't even there. Now the blonde outright scowled. A single, larger circle appeared at his shoulder and launched a glowing streak at the son of Zeus.
This time, it had an effect. The weapon pierced right through Berserker's neck and almost decapitated him. Only a thin shred of flesh connected the ebony giant's head to his shoulders as he collapsed to the ground heavily.
Harry cursed vehemently. He knew that his Servant would regenerate, but until that happened he was on his own.
The mysterious Servant's gaze turned to Harry. "A dog and his crippled master stand against me. How pathetic. I've disposed of your cur, boy. Tell me where that mockery of my Saber is, and I may find it in me to grant you clemency."
Once again, supreme arrogance. Harry knew how to exploit that. "Even if I knew, I can't forgive that unprovoked assault. I will take my pound of flesh personally if I must. Stand and deliver!"
The king burst out laughing, and Harry pretended to be furious as he limped forward in a charge. He weakly projected a blade into his free hand, raising it in a facade of bravado. "How amusing!" Gilgamesh chuckled, letting Harry approach. "I've heard that you magi were proud, but this is almost... charming. Tell you what, boy, the first attack will carry no retribution. Try to strike me down so that you may despair when you realize its futility."
That was all Harry needed. He staggered towards Gilgamesh and brought his already-fading blade down in a truly atrocious arc that the king sidestepped with contemptuous ease.
Harry let the swing's momentum carry him forward and he pretended to fall to his good knee behind the enemy Servant.
Gilgamesh turned around to gloat over his opponent. "Do you see now, boy? You've lost. Surrender and tell me where Saber is, or I will take your head here."
Suddenly, his red eyes widened and he ducked just in time to dodge a vicious swing from the reformed and now even more pissed Berserker behind him. His maneuver found the tip of Harry's cane pressed against his chin. He glared in fury at being played.
"Ardor," Harry incanted. The potent flame mystery from his cane blasted Gilgamesh backwards and he landed hard before finally skidding into a roll.
"You..." Gilgamesh seethed, and Harry blanched at realizing he'd only given the Servant a bloody nose. "I cannot begin to express the degree of suffering you will experience for that. And your dog's divinity will not save him again against the Chain of Enkidu."
With a mental command, Harry sent Berserker back into the fray. The giant charged Gilgamesh once more, but this time he was stopped right away. A number of portals opened around Gilgamesh and from them emerged chains. The daggers attached to the ends pieced right through Berserker's divine skin, wrapping around him and tightening until he was completely immobilized.
Even so, the Servant struggled like a pitbull on a choke chain. "It's futile," said Gilgamesh. "Those chains become stronger the more divinity an individual possesses. Not even one of your command seals could liberate him from those bonds. Feel honored that I have been forced to use them. Now face your doom with some dignity, cur."
The sky filled with weapons. Like hail Harry was beset on all sides by swords, lances, halberds, pikes. And they all radiated prana like Noble Phantasms. He dodged and ducked, and what he couldn't evade was blocked by Aegis, but he was now on a timer. Using his armor to this degree was a major drain. The second he ran out of prana, he would die.
Desperately, he tried to plan some way out of this situation. He was rather certain he knew this Servant. It was rumored that the Tohsakas had summoned Gilgamesh of Uruk in the last war. And between the unbelievable arrogance and Chain of Enkidu, it was clear that he was up against the First Legend, the immortal son of Lugalbanda and Ninsun. He had no clue how the Servant was still around from the last War, unless he'd been resummoned under a different class.
Not that he could actually do anything with this information while desperately evading attacks. He would have called Assassin, but with the Book of False Attendant his command seals wouldn't work on her.
There was a blur behind Gilgamesh and a pause in the attacks. Abruptly, all of the weapons surrounding Harry dissolved. Only the Chain restraining Berserker remained. Harry looked past the king to see what had drawn his attention.
Saber stood opposite the golden figure, clad in black armor and wielding an ebony blade. Her stern face was locked in a furious scowl.
"Is this how the supposed King of Kings conducts himself? Ambushing vehicles and raining swords? Even the Matou boy has displayed more mettle than you."
"Finally," said Gilgamesh. "You have a great deal to account for, creature. Who are you and what have you done to my beautiful Saber?"
The Saber's expression grew livid. "If you speak of the foolish girl who let her weakness lead herself and her kingdom to destruction, she is not here. I am the one who did what was necessary."
Every facet Gilgamesh's appearance turned murderous. The air filled with weapons once more.
"I will not permit you to taint the pure image of my queen. I will destroy you so utterly that your memory will be stricken from the Throne of Heroes—never to blacken the world again."
"You will try," she replied, raising her sword into a battle position.
Like two titans they clashed together. The air filled with steel and prana as the two kings fought for dominance.
Harry meanwhile was ignored. He slowly crept over to where Berserker was restrained. Structural Analysis told him that he had no hope of undoing the Chains. These were no mere projections. The Chains were completely physical, simply pulled from wherever Gilgamesh kept his weapons. Even now, the dozens of ends led into portals surrounding Berserker.
The giant continued struggling, but even he lacked the strength to move effectively under the bindings. He could pull a few links at a time from the portal, but the daggers remained pierced through him and would not come out no matter how much he tried. His divinity rendered him powerless to free himself.
Looking down at his arm, a desperate plan formed. Saber, powerful as she was, would not win this fight. Even now she had several minor slashes across her face and armor, while Gilgamesh's bloody nose had already healed.
Harry breathed and channeled as much prana as he dared. His circuits burned, the worms writhed, but he persevered. Od thrummed through his body like a thunderous heartbeat. Right as he felt he was going to burst from the strain, he forced it all into a single command seal.
He whispered a single command to Berserker, then collapsed onto the pavement.
This fight was not going well.
Arthuria wasn't sure what her alternate self had done to attract this level of obsession from the First Legend, but she tallied another reason to loathe that insipid girl.
She would be able to land a sufficient blow should she get close, but that infernal Noble Phantasm of his seemed specifically designed to keep swordsmen like herself at bay. Her prana bursts allowed her to maneuver around the attacks themselves, but even her summoner did not have unlimited prana to fuel them forever.
If she were able to fight alongside the Berserker this would be relatively simple, but while she'd been securing her summoner it seemed Gilgamesh had trapped the giant in some manner of divinity-binding chain, rendering him bound to the spot.
Suddenly she spotted the Matou Master approach his Servant. He placed his hand on the Chain, frowned, and then looked at his arm for a moment.
She saw his green eyes light up and knew that he'd thought of something.
Gilgamesh was fortunately attacking her with single-minded determination, which worked out because it served to keep him distracted while the Matou did his work.
An inopportune spin saw a nameless blade slash across her cheek, sending her blood to soak the pavement one more. She growled and retreated, using Excalibur Morgan to deflect the follow-up barrage. Her gaze looked past Gilgamesh to the Matou. They locked eyes, and something passed between them. She didn't understand his plan, but she knew it involved her dropping back.
The moment she did so, Berserker strained once more. Empowered by an overloaded command seal, he pulled more chain from the already-overtaxed portal and slowly advanced on the unaware Gilgamesh one heavy step at a time.
Saber harried the king from the flanks, keeping his attention while her ally approached from the rear.
Finally, the giant loomed behind his enemy. His ebony muscles bulged grotesquely and his nigh-impervious skin bled from where the Chain was cutting into it from the pressure.
With a final, triumphant roar he placed his hands on the two daggers penetrating his stomach and pushed them through his body and out his back. He grabbed the two ends, pulled them through, and waited until Gilgamesh whirled around before stabbing the both of them into the demigod.
"No," he whispered, with the expression of a man experiencing fear for the first time in his life. Desperately he tried to retract the Chain, but once the daggers pieced the skin of a divine being they would not be removed by any means. When the Chain pulled back into the portal, he was yanked along for the ride.
Berserker grabbed him in an enormous bear hug, further entangling him in the golden chains.
"I refuse to be brought low like this!" screamed Gilgamesh as he flailed uselessly against Berserker's command-sealed strength. "The Chain of Enkidu is mine! It obeys me!"
Saber watched as the Matou smiled from the sidelines. "Gilgamesh," he said with mocking disappointment, "I thought you of all people would know this. The Chain of Enkidu's sole purpose is to bind rampaging divinities. You just happen to be among them. Saber, if it's not too much of a bother..."
Taking the cue, she stepped up with a smile on her face. She had to say, she quite liked this boy.
"If you see your Saber when you get to the Throne," she said, pointing her Excalibur Morgan at the bound pair of Servants, "tell her I sent you."
She activated her Noble Phantasm to its fullest degree and a beam of pure darkness descended from the sky to engulf her trapped foe. Just to be safe, she kept the attack going for a solid fifteen seconds before finally letting it dissipate.
The smoke slowly cleared to reveal a glowing crater in the center of the road, occupied only by a smoldering black carcass. Her golden eyes turned once more to the Matou, realizing that she'd just slain his Servant.
"Don't worry," he said, gesturing to the twitching carcass with his cane. "He'll be back."
The Mistress bade him to stay secret. The Mistress bade him to spread her gift.
He stalked under the bridge to where the meatbags were huddled around a fire. He didn't like fire. He didn't like light. It hurt his skin. He didn't like pain.
Leaping from the shadows, he sunk his teeth into the throat of the first. The second made a noise he no longer understood and ran away. That wasn't smart. Food runs.
As he drained the second meatbag for his blood, the body of the first rose unsteadily and shambled after him.
With the van totaled, Harry was forced to have Aegis hotwire a sedan to transport the still-unconscious Illya and Rin. Fortunately, he was able to salvage Rin's suitcase from the burnt wreckage of the van and load it into the trunk. With a technically enemy Servant riding shotgun, it made for an awkward drive to say the least.
"What do you fight for?" Saber asked suddenly, causing Harry to jerk.
"What do I fight for?" he parroted in confusion. "In what sense?"
"Why are you fighting this War? I've seen others like you before, boy. You are hollow. But hollow men do not endanger themselves like you did. Nor do they care enough to plan like that. So what drives you? What is your cause?"
Harry was silent for a long while. "I have someone to protect—someone that will suffer greatly should I lose this War. I cannot afford to fail. And you?"
Saber blinked. "I beg your pardon?"
"You've asked me a probing question. Reciprocity is only fair."
"I suppose," she said cautiously.
"Why do you never refer to Illya as your Master?"
"Because she isn't," Saber replied simply. "She summoned me and I have lent her my blade to destroy the Grail since its existence jeopardizes my own, but she is not my Master. Through my life I fought, killed, and bled for countless causes and Masters. None of them were worth it. All I seek is one worthy of my blade."
"I see," said Harry without judgement or evaluation, and the rest of the ride to the hotel went in comfortable silence.
Rin woke up halfway back to the manor, very confused. After Harry carefully explained the situation to her, she sat in stunned shock.
"You pulled me out of the van," she said, her tone indecipherable.
"Yes," Harry replied.
"We were under attack," she pointed out.
"Yes," he said, frustration entering his voice, "and the van was also on fire. I wasn't going to leave you to die."
Rin sat there for a long moment processing this. With a sigh, Harry pulled the car over onto the shoulder of the road.
"Listen to me Rin," he said very seriously, turning to look her in the eye. "I made a promise to protect you as Sakura's sister. I fully intend to keep that promise. But even more... there's something else to my feelings for you. After last night, I'm not sure what they are. I've never felt anything for anyone besides Sakura and honestly I'm not sure how to deal with this. But tell me if I'm doing this right."
He leaned over and captured her lips in a kiss. Visions of Sakura flashed before her eyes, but she blocked them out. The kiss was too right. She felt too safe in his arms to pull away.
She had no choice but to lean in and reciprocate. Consequences be damned.
An exhausted and drained Harry limped through the front door of the manor. Fortunately, he was the good kind of drained—the kind that could be cured by a session with Sakura... and Rin now he supposed since he was apparently sharing.
Speaking of, his wonderful fiance met him at the door with Assassin at her shoulder. At some point it seemed the Servant had acquired a maid's uniform. Good. It fit her cover.
"Oh dear," Sakura cooed as she placed and arm under him for support. "What happened?" Assassin quickly moved to take his other arm before a hesitant Rin could. He supposed she was really eager to help him.
"Got into a fight with a Servant," he said. "Managed to take him out, but Berserker's down a few lives and I'm low on prana. I'm going to need a top up."
Rin opened her suitcase on the nearby table and retrieved a small jeweler's bag. "I've retrieved some gems from my workshop. I'll be able to transfer the energy to you directly during the ritual."
"Very good," praised Sakura, and Assassin smiled in tandem.
Harry was laying down in bed, dressed solely in his underwear. Sakura had simply deposited him in the bed and told him to wait before departing the room. A surprise then.
"Close your eyes, love," he heard Sakura call from the other side of the door. He did so obligingly, and heard the door creak open and two pairs of footsteps enter the room.
For safety reasons, I will be placing this and any future lemons in a separate story. See my profile.