Kotomine Risei was a man of piety and faith. He kept all of the commandments, did his duties wonderfully, and always remembered to pray three times a day in his off hours.
Now though, he was slightly compelled to break his holy streak and take some time to rest. The past couple weeks for him have been stressful enough.
Fuyuki City, the battleground of the Holy Grail War, was recovering from the massive amount of damage it had sustained. Even now, nearly a half of the city would require intensive repairs and construction before it could be brought back to its former glory.
In the beginning, the War had gone smoothly enough. A team of seven mages alongside seven servants had all checked in on the same day and it seemed like the very first battle of the war would occur soon. The Einzberns, Edelfelts, Tohsakas, and even the dying Matou clan would be participating and everyone in the magical community knew that those big families had some beef with each other.
They had each summoned powerful servants worthy of being Heroic Spirits, beings who could casually destroy the entire city at full power. It was only thanks to the fact that they all had a wish they wanted fulfilled which held them back. Even so, a simple brief scuffle can cause massive collateral damage similar to a small earthquake.
Usually, it'd be a simple matter for him to cover it up. After all, he was the mediator of the war and had the authority to manage the entire city from behind the scenes. The church also donated some of their reserved members to help in the war effort, of which he organized to effectively cover up the war from prying eyes.
Still, the war had blown up out of proportions when a completely unpredicted event took place.
The appearance of Nazi Germany.
It was an event nobody could've predicted. The Holy Grail war was a secret war separate from the real world and kept isolated within the eyes of the magical world. Nobody should have known about it, much less an entire military division. As far as he knew, none of the world leaders knew about the magical world. Not even the Queen of England, where the largest magical association was located, was privy to those kinds of information.
Whatever the case may be, the nazi military was certainly looking for the grail. Arming themselves and storming the city, everyone was forced to evacuate as the city descended into a battlefield. Battles at night along with secrecy had been all but forgotten, leaving him to work overtime to clean up with the messes that were left behind.
The war had been concluded in under a single week. Even with the power of the military, the servants still continued to fight each other and ignored the german army as they killed each other to fill the cup for the sake of a wish.
The city had descended into chaos and he had decided that enough was enough. Even if he was the mediator of the war, he couldn't sit back and watch as innocent civilians were caught in the crossfire. Forsaking his duties, he gathered the agents of the church and ordered for an immediate rescue mission for any survivors.
Leaving his duties behind, however, had made him powerless to stop what happened next.
On the last days of the war, when the final two servants fought to the death for the Holy Grail, the army had begun to pull out of allied territory with the Holy Grail aboard a transport carrier. While everyone else had been too busy with saving civilians, they had swooped in and took the grail for themselves at the last second before a victor could have been decided. As of now, the holy artifact's whereabouts are unknown.
Putting his face in his hands, he gave out a weary sigh. The church had certainly been upset with him. The war in Europe was affecting everyone. Even the Church wasn't an exception despite their power. Having the Holy Grail in the hands of a crazy maniac who wished to make Germany the greatest empire in the world would certainly be disastrous for the world in general.
He would be getting another earful from the Vatican later, but they were too busy trying to track down the grail. In the meantime, he was to remain in Fuyuki until the next set of orders and assist with rebuilding the city.
He didn't want to think about the amount of paperwork he would be getting in the future. A mess like this doesn't just go away with a wave of the hand, even with magecraft.
A loud knock at the door brought him out of his hands as a young man in priestly robes entered the room with a cup of warm coffee in each hands. Despite his garbs, he looked way too young to be a priest and seemed to be in his early twenties at least.
"Kotomine-san." The young man greeted with a smile. "I've brought you coffee."
A small smile formed on his tired face as the young man placed the mug on the table. "Thank you... Shirou-san. The drink is much appreciated."
The young man known as Shirou simply nodded while he continued to flash that same smile. It truly was a real one, though it also felt different somehow. Odd, but Risei never choose to comment on it out of politeness.
After all, this young man was a special one.
"So have you figured out what you're going to do from now on?" He asked, silently curious as to what his answer may be.
"Mmm... Perhaps I'll give up on the grail." The kid answered, absently fiddling with the cross necklace that he had recently acquired. "After all... It'll most likely be impossible to find. If the Church hasn't already found it by now, I doubt anyone will."
Risei nodded. "Nazi Germany is falling apart and the allies are pushing them back inwards. No reports of a mysterious cup showed up and none of the Church investigators found anything. As of now, the location of the Holy Grail is unknown."
"I see. A shame." Shirou mused to himself, seemingly unconcerned with the news. "Well... It's nothing that can be replaced. For all we know, the future generation might come up with a convincing replica."
The two men chuckled to themselves. What a laughable expectation. The Holy Grail was a powerful artifact created by those who could be considered monsters and geniuses. No magus in the present era could ever attempt to create a magical artifact on that scale. It would take several generations full of prodigies to even consider attempting reconstruction of such an artifact.
"So I believe that I will need to acclimate myself to this new world." Shirou said as he set his mug down on the desk. "The world has changed quite a lot since my time and I would very much love to see it with my own eyes."
"I believe I could help you with that." Risei said as he pulled out a file from the drawer and placed it on the desk. "If I recall correctly, they didn't have any prominent missionaries in Japan correct?"
"There were only a handful, really. Why?" Shirou asked curiously.
"Well... The Church has really expanded its roots since your time. Nowadays, we have many branches, missionaries, and churches across the world." He tapped his finger on the file. "Of course... we also offer other services rather than charity and goodwill. Services that someone like you can provide."
Shirou raised an eyebrow, his curiosity peaked.
"Interesting... Would you mind telling me more?"
Three years had passed since the Nazis had sacked Fuyuki city and all traces of the war have been covered up by the combined efforts of the government and the Red Cross. Thanks to them and the newly found peace after the war, the people have continued with their daily lives without the fear of death hanging above them.
Publicly at least.
Behind the scenes, the scars of the war still lingered. The stench of regret and death were still felt heavily across the city to the present day. Mages do not dare to set foot in this land as it has begun to gain fame as one of the most dangerous places in the magical world.
In the years following the war, dead apostles flocked to the area in great numbers. Thanks to the carnage and destruction World War II created, the Church had to often work overtime just to control the sudden outbreaks of Dead Apostles around the world. They were attracted to the area like moths to a flame, feeding off of the negative emotions as a source to increase their power.
Thus, the Church has often kept watch on the city. Dead Apostles were their personal business and they wouldn't stand by idly if a large number of undead began converging at a single location. It was too dangerous to simply leave the problem alone.
And it got even more dangerous at night.
It was rare for dead apostles to attack and feed during the daytime. Only the most bold of those would try to do so, as they are weakened considerably during the day. Come nighttime however, they no longer are bound by restrictions to their powers and are able to feast to their hearts content.
So as the sun falls over Fuyuki city and the white moon rises, the time of feasting begins.
The streets of Fuyuki City were hardly thriving. Despite the fact that the Church has worked hard to cover up the crimes of the Dead Apostles, it was clear that the public knew that there was something wrong. While they might not know exactly what it was, they often kept off of the street at night and even had a minor curfew hour at work.
Despite this, it didn't really do anything to stop the amount of Dead Apostle attacks. After all, a simple curfew only made their feasting easier.
In the darkness above, a man with red eyes was perched atop a windowsill silently. While it may have the form of a man, it was certainly far from it. It was only a shell of its former self, before the time it turned into what it was.
It may have once been a successful magus. It may have also been a regular human being. However, it was now a creature who only searched for blood. Blood was the currency of the soul, of which it can sustain the existence of an individual.
The younger a person was, the fresher their blood would be. As such, young children were often the primary targets of Dead Apostles. Even young teenagers were prime candidates.
And right now, there was a delectable slab of meat walking down the street.
The Vampire's eyes narrowed as it followed the form of a young man with red hair who was walking briskly. It was clear he was in a hurry to get home, his bag shifting around his shoulder sporadically. That was good. Fear was a delectable source of energy as well. It made the act of sucking blood more enjoyable.
Within the span of a single breath, the monster leapt through the air with the speed and power that should have been physically impossible from a simple standing start. Almost as if sensing danger, the redhead suddenly spun around with his eyes widening in surprise.
The boy was abruptly cut off as the Dead Apostle opened its mouth and sank its teeth into the side of the boy's neck. Screaming, the boy fell backwards with the vampire connected, suddenly feeling very faint as if he was suffering from dehydration.
His throat burned and he tried to scream desperately, though nothing more than a hoarse wheeze got out. Feeling panic begin to set in, he began to punch and kick wildly in the hopes of getting his attacker off of him. Still, he found it incredibly useless. Simply punching the creature was like trying to bend steel. It was physically impossible.
The Dead Apostle felt a sense of glee as the boy continued to struggle against it. The feeling of his useless punches and kicks as they failed to do anything to its body was satisfying. Absolutely satisfying.
However, it would have to finish up like all of its other meals. The blood was good, but adequate. It would take a few more meals before it would be satisfied.
It suddenly hissed as a stray fist smacked its face.
"Stay still, boy. Let me finish this meal. Afterwards, you can pass on to the next world peacefully... Unless you become a ghoul of course."
The boy's eyes began to turn cloudy and unfocused until his hands finally went limp and they fell uselessly to his side. He still looked to be conscious, but was unable to move due to the loss of blood.
Before he could draw the last of his blood, however, a sudden crack rang out from behind him.
The young man's eyes refocused as the sound reached his ears and he felt as if a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. Looking to the side, he saw his attacker staggering backwards with its hands clutching its shoulder.
"What?!" The Dead Apostle hissed as it began staggering backwards. "Impossible! I was sure that I had covered my tra-"
The monster howled in pain before it lumbered into a nearby ally with blood pouring out of its wounds. Even in its current state, its self-preservation instincts kicked in and it was still able to break into a run without any problem despite the injuries it had sustained.
In its panic, it had left the young man alone. Alive, but barely. Even so, it didn't matter. Judging by how slow the injuries were taking to heal, it had been struck by holy bullets or enchantments. Therefore, it was being targeted by members of the Church.
Even if a Dead Apostle was normally stronger than the average executioner, the holy weapons they had at their disposal threatened their existence down to the very cell. It would be best to avoid direct confrontation with the enem-
The Dead Apostle gasped as it felt itself frozen in place. It could feel its muscles strain in desperation to move, but it felt like an unbelievable cramp was setting in. With a great amount of effort, it craned its neck to try and look at what was causing such a reaction. As it did so, it's eyes widened when it caught sight of a bladed object that had pierced its shadow like a nail.
It was a black key. Basic holy weapons that were utilized by the church. They were used as throwing weapons despite how long the blade was. In the hands of a skilled user, it could easily pierce through steel and rend the flesh of an undead.
They also had a multitude of passive effects that assisted in catching dead apostles.
Like stopping a target by impaling its shadow.
The Dead Apostle's eyes widened when he felt a shadow drop over him. Looking up, he saw a blue haired woman in a grey cloak with a golden cross land on the pavement. In between her two fingers were black keys, poised to strike and be thrown at a moments notice.
In the span of a second, it's previous bravado was gone and replaced with an emotion completely foreign to it as it recognized who it was that had appeared.
"No... It can't be..." The vampire muttered in disbelief. "A member of the burial agency... Blue hair... You can't be Agent Bo-"
Those were the last words the monster spoke before several blades lodged themselves into its head.
That was his name. He was a simple sixteen year old boy who attended a simple High School in Fuyuki City. He had no family. At least, none that he was aware of. He was an orphan and had no know parents to speak of. When he asked those who had run the orphanage, he never got a clear answer for his question.
So it was obviously odd that he could be dressed like a high school student and even attend a high school. After all, the orphanage always had kids coming in and out every day. They never had the money to truly pay for an education and could only supply everyone with the basic essentials for living like food and shelter. Education was sadly not a part of the list.
But when the orphanage begun getting large sums of money for no reason, that all changed. Everyone had managed to actually pay for their education and cover taxes without a problem. The amount of money was so large that it was a miracle that someone had decided to donate so much.
At least, that's what the staff thought.
In truth, he had discreetly sent them the money himself. How he got ahold of said money was actually something he still could never believe to this day...
But he had more important matters to think about right now. Like the fact that he was bleeding out on the cold asphalt and could barely stay conscious.
He had known it would be dangerous to traverse the streets at night, but he didn't think this would have happened to him. What the hell was that thing anyway? A damn vampire?
Craning his neck downwards, he stared at the two puncture wounds on his neck that were spurting blood. Yeah. It probably was the most logical decision he could come up with.
Coughing, he rolled onto his stomach and tried to push himself up. He needed to get out of here. He was lucky that someone had driven the monster off. Whether they were doing it out of the goodness of their hearts or not was questionable. He needed to play it safe.
However, he soon found out just how useless his body had become. Trying to push himself up was like trying to benchpress an elephant. It just wasn't physically possible.
After several attempts of trying to get up, he soon gave up and collapsed onto a pool of his own blood. Laying there silently, he stared into the reflection gazing back at him from the puddle. For some odd reason, however, he noticed something completely different about himself.
His hair had turned grey.
Surprise gave way to horror as he stared at himself. What had his attacker done to him? He was sure he had been a redhead before!
He froze. A voice. Some kind of voice was speaking up in the depths of his mind. It was barely louder than a whisper, but he could hear it clearly. Despite his senses going haywire with panic, he decided to listen.
"Your body is beyond saving. No doctor on this earth can save you now. You have lost too much blood and your body is breaking down."
A gasp wormed its way out of his throat. Impossible. He can be saved. He can be healed. There was a small chance, but it was there. All he needed was a blood transfusion and he-
"Blood is the currency of the soul, from which all life is powered by. No one will be able to save you in time. You must replenish yourself through other means."
Replenish... himself? His eyes widened and he squirmed to pull his arm out from underneath him. With a little bit of effort, he pried his arm out and cupped his hand in front of his face. Despite how odd it may have seemed, he knew exactly what he needed to do.
Whatever his heart wanted the most, it would appear in front of him. It was how he got the money for the orphanage after all. He couldn't really explain it. He had discovered it accidentally in a moment of desperation, but simply discovering it had led to amazing possibilities.
He kept a secret from his friends and the staff members. It wasn't something he could explain to them. Hell, he couldn't exactly explain it to himself either. However, the gist of it was that it allowed him to create something out of nothing.
And lo and behold, a glass cup appeared in his hands filled to the brim with blood. Without stoping to think about what he was doing, he raised the cup to his lips and drank.
He would have thrown up if he wasn't in such a dire situation, but he oddly found himself getting better. The fatigue and lightness his body felt was going away and were replaced with much more healthy feelings.
With a few more gulps of blood, he actually felt like his old self again. Deciding to just make sure, he attempted to move his legs and arms and began to push himself off of the ground. Grinning, he inwardly celebrated over his ability to cheat death before a voice rang out from his side.
Shirou froze as he felt the cold edge of a blade rest on the back of his neck. Slowly, he began lowering himself back down to the ground and inwardly cursed himself. Nothing could ever go right for him.
As he laid down on the ground, he heard the shuffling of boots as his second unknown assailant stepped in front of him. It was a girl with blue hair and a golden cross around her neck. Despite the blade she had pointed down at him, she had a very perplexed look on her face.
The two of them stared at each other for a moment in silence, and Shirou shifted awkwardly under her gaze. This was by far the third weirdest thing that has ever happened to him.
"Why me?" He thought in anguish.
Finally the girl spoke, almost as if God decided to answer his question.
"Come with me. I'm going to get you some help." She spoke, her tone giving no room for argument. In a flash, the blade disappeared from her hand and she briskly walked past him.
Shirou blinked and watched her walk for a couple seconds before standing up and following after her.
Yep... This was definitely the weirdest night ever.
"Welcome back, Agent Bow."
A young boy with a white shirt with golden accents and black pants greeted the blue haired girl as the pair walked through the doors of the Fuyuki City Church. His face was youthful, but it also seemed fake in an unknown sense. It was oddly disturbing.
"Thank you, Crown." The blue haired girl nodded politely while Shirou remained silent. It was clear he was very out of place here.
"You returned earlier than expected. The others are still dealing with other random attack and shouldn't return until the next hour or so." The child then turned its head towards Shirou, who flinched. "And who is he? Don't tell me that it's another potential boyfriend of yours?"
"Can it, Crown. I'm not in the mood for your games." The girl growled in an annoyed tone. "You already know exactly why he's here. Your rats should have already informed you."
The boy shrugged, an eery smile on his face. "True, true. It's just that even I cannot believe it myself. We've stumbled upon a rare form of vampire birth."
At this, Shirou couldn't contain his voice anymore.
"Hold up... Vampire Birth? Are you saying that I'm a-"
He froze as the two of them turned to look at him. Contrast to the blue haired girl's glare, the boy looked quite amused and intrigued at the same time. Thankfully, he was the one who spoke first before the girl had a chance to presumingly yell at him.
"Indeed. Though it's actually pretty rare for something like this to happen. Your case is a special one." The boy stepped forward and extended his hand in greeting. "For troublesome reasons, I can't give you my name right now. Please just call me Crown."
Shirou blinked at that, but still shook his hand. "Um... ok. I'm Shirou."
"Shirou? No last name?"
"I'm an orphan... so no."
"Ah... My mistake." The boy apologized, though he honestly didn't seem too bothered by that. He gestured over to the girl. "That's Agent Bow. We can't discuss her name either so please just call her that."
The girl huffed and walked out of the room, clearly not willing to stay and talk.
"...She's like that a lot. Don't worry about it." Crown smiled as Shirou gained a depressed look.
"Oh... ok." He mumbled, a visible cloud of gloom over his head.
"Anyway, you must be wondering just exactly what it was that happened to you, correct?" At Shirou's nod, Crown continued on. "Well, it's actually just like you figured out. You have become a vampire. A creature that walks in the night."
Shirou paled, but he didn't fall out of his seat. The idea had been gnawing at the back of his mind for some time, but it was simply too crazy for him to even truly consider.
"But... aren't vampires a myth started by Dracula?" He mumbled, his mind scrambling to find answers.
"It's understandable you'd be surprise. Vampires are often thought to be a myth." The boy shrugged. "Well, they're not. They do plague society, though it's only under the cover of night and under many forms of secrecy. You don't know how often we have to cover these kinds of incidents when they happen. If word of such things got out, the whole world would be up in arms."
The boy folded his hands and took a seat in a nearby pew. "Though that now brings me to our little predicament."
Shirou tensed. He had a bad feeling about where this was going.
"You yourself are now a dead apostle. Thus, an enemy our organization will no doubt seek to destroy. I know you're an innocent bystander who was dragged into this mess, but the others do not distinguished the good from the bad. In their minds, vampires are beings who need to be destroyed. You're lucky Agent Bow was the one who found you or you wouldn't be standing here now."
And just like that, Shirou felt like fainting.
"So I'm nothing more than a freak, huh?" He muttered. "So I guess that makes me an enemy of humans? I'm supposed to suck blood for a living?"
"Pretty much, yeah. That's how vampires survive." Crown shrugged. "Although I truly am curious. How did you manage to survive back there? I know for a fact that Agent Bow would never donate her blood to a vampire, so how exactly did you replenish yourself? Drinking your own blood doesn't exactly count."
Shirou fidgeted slightly, contemplating whether or not he should tell him. It's not like he had anything to loose, and the boy had been quite hospitable. At least, far more than that Bow girl. It was only right he at least answered his question.
"I... made blood for myself."
This time, it was Crown's turn to blink in confusion.
"You made blood... for yourself?" The boy asked slowly, a clear tone of disbelief. "Forgive me if this sounds rude, but that sounds impossible."
"But it's true!" Shirou exclaimed, suddenly feeling very defensive. "It's just some special talent I have that I only figured out how to use two years ago. I'm not sure what its limits are, but I can create anything if I put my mind to it!"
Crown was silent for a moment, his eyes conveying a sense of thought as if he were suddenly realizing something. "Then if you don't mind... Could you give me a little demonstration?"
Shirou nodded. "Yeah, sure. Give me a second."
Stepping back, he closed his eyes and began focusing on an image he had drawn up in his mind. From what he could gather, his ability only required him to picture what he wanted. Afterwards, he could bring it into reality just by focusing a little bit harder.
There was a small shimmer of light and a golden necklace in the form of a cross appeared in his hand. Looking up, he saw that Crown's eyes had widened in shock and inwardly smiled in triumph.
"See? I told you." He grinned as he tossed the necklace to Crown, who caught it and immediately began studying it intently. Front and back, side to side, his eyes continued to widen with every passing second.
"It's flawless..." Crown muttered in awe. "Not a single spot is imperfect or of lower quality. Could it be..."
Shirou watched the boy silently as a thousand thoughts passed through his head. There was no mistaking this power. It was the Denial of Nothingness. A long lost magic that allows for the creation of something from nothing. It is known as the First True Magic and one of the most powerful. While other true magics were created to get to the Root, this one was acquired directly from the divine records. Its ability was unfathomable, only limited by the imagination of the user. If the boy had such an ability while being a dead apostle...
He could potentially, no, most certainly enter the ranks of the twenty seven dead apostles. The strongest of vampires who were ranked according to the threat they pose to humanity.
The wielder of the second magic was also a dead apostle himself and nobody has ever dared to attempt to claim his spot. However, he was whimsical and dangerous even if he was usually on the side of good. If they had a true magic user on their side though...
"Say Shirou, you said you were an orphan correct?" He asked suddenly, earning a blink from the teen.
"Um... Yeah? What about it?" Shirou answered with a slightly nervous tone. He suddenly didn't like where this was going.
"And you don't have anyone who may come looking for you, correct?" The boy pressed on intently.
He really didn't like where this was going.
"The staff members at the orphanage might. I'm on a first name basis with pretty much all of them." Shirou paused. "Why? Are you planning to kill me or something?"
"What? No! I wouldn't do something like that to you! You're an innocent human being!" Crown promised with an innocent look. "And you'd be a wonderful asset" simply went unsaid. "I just simply want to offer you a deal."
"A deal?" Shirou echoed curiously.
"Yeah, a deal. While I may not kill you today, there are others who are more than willing to eliminate you on sight. Some of them are freaks more terrifying than vampires. Trust me. I would know."
He paused for a moment, ignoring Shirou's mouth which was hanging open like a fish. "However... I would be able to grant you a form of protection. Under my care, nobody will dare to harm you. After all, I'm quite the influential individual."
"Aren't you a kid?" Shirou asked without thinking. Despite this, the boy only chuckled.
"Kid? I'm way older than you'd think. I honestly forgot how old I am at this point." The boy stood up from the pew and turned to Shirou with an insistent look. "Now... do you accept or not? Choosing not to accept is fine, though I wish you luck with survival. Not everyone is interested in protecting civilian lives, boy."
For the first time since their discussion, Shirou's expression actually hardened. For some reason, the thought of other people getting hurt bothered him more than actually being in danger. He couldn't explain it, but he simply chalked it down to simple guilt. That was it. He would certainly feel guilty if innocent people were harmed due to his presence. Even more so if they were people he were close with.
The boy wanted him for some reason, that reason was clear. Otherwise, Shirou doubted he would have even bothered to give him a deal out of the goodness of his heart. He made this deal with the goal of getting something out of him.
Thus... there really wasn't any room for him decline. If he did, his body may soon find itself on the other end of a blade.
If the boy's smile was any indication, he had just sold his soul to the devil.
"Then I welcome you into the Church, Shirou. May the Lord in Heaven bless you in servitude."
Apocrypha timeline in another reality. In here, Shirou isn't corrupted by the Fuyuki fire and thus doesn't have his entire origin or history rewritten by the Grail's influence.
If you're wondering why I have decided to have this Shirou be able to use the Denial of Nothingness, keep in mind that this isn't a Shirou who was in the Fuyuki Fire or has Avalon to change his origin. It's been stated somewhere before that Shirou's projection magecraft is actually a step below the Denial of Nothingness. I can't remember where it is stated since I haven't red the VN in years. You can try searching it online or something.
Basically, Projection magecraft allows Shirou to materialize weapons and other objects by creating them with his prana. However, they are flawed and the World begins to crush its existence due to this. That is why his noble phantasms are a rank down and he can't keep them materialized outside of battle.
The Denial of Nothingness, however, is several steps above this. Basically, it's the ability to create something out of nothing. The original description is quite complicated, but that's pretty much it. He can make swords, bows, furniture, weapons, or anything materialistic as long as he can imagine it. It's like the green lantern power ring except that it makes real constructs instead of light projections.
So please try to keep this in mind while reading. I'd rather not reply to questions I have already answered.
Anyways, see you in the next chapter! It should come out soon!