Chapter One "Hero"
The outskirts of the village were getting closer. While running, Enri heard the constant sounds of metal hitting metal. She looked back, and saw the worst possible situation. A knight was right behind the sisters.
The knight was bound to catch up to them by the speed that he was running at.
Enri held back the urge to curse about her situation. She no longer had any strength left to waste complaining. Her breath felt short, her heart pumped so hard it felt like it was going to burst and her legs trembled constantly. Exhaustion crept into her body and she was on the verge of collapsing. If she was alone, she might have given up hope and lost all the strength to run there and then. It was a completely different story when holding the hand of her sister. Enri had the will to keep on running, even if she was collapse in exhaustion, because she had to for her sister's sake.
While running, she constantly looked back behind her every few moment to check how close the knight was to her. The distance had changed. Most people would be slowed down by the weight of plate armor. The knight chasing after her did not show that he was burdened by the weight of wearing armor. His speed was not affected at all by the additional weight that came with his armor. The knight wasn't just some bandit that had happened to be equipped with some weapons and armor, and some training. He was clearly a professional soldier that was trained his body to the extent that extra weight of plate armor and his weapons didn't burden him at all.
Enri felt chills go down her spine. It seemed that her wish to take her sister to safety was impossible. Words came into her mind.
If you're alone, you may be able to escape.
Do you want to die here?
Your sister is just a burden.
"Shut up, shut up, shut up!" Enri screamed loudly, angrily reproached herself for such negative thoughts.
When Enri looked down at her younger sister, she found that her younger sister was on the verge of crying. Why wasn't her younger sister already crying? Their entire family had been slaughtered before their very eyes as they watched hopelessly. Everyone in they had known their entire lives were either dead or going to be thanks to the massacre, which they had narrowly escaped. Most people would be drowning in misery or have given up on living.
A notion popped into Enri's mind. It was because Nemu believed in her older sister. She believed that her older sister would save her, or at least do something about the situation. The fact that her younger sister had expectations about her made Enri rethink about her present situation. Holding her younger sister's hand – the hand that gave her courage, Enri strengthened her resolve. She could never abandon her sister. Not after everything that had happened. And it was her duty as the older sibling to protect the younger siblings.
"Ah!" Nemu, Enri's younger sister, huffed in exhaustion.
The siblings were exhausted after escaping from the carnage that had befallen on her village. Legs failed, either coming short or too long in distance for the necessary stride to maintain optimized running. The short steps or long steps accumulated to the point their sense of balance was thrown off. It was a miracle that the siblings were able to continue running without stumbling or falling over, but when they did finally make a mistake they nearly stumbled. The reason why the two did not fall down was because they were holding each other's hands. It was only because Enri was pulling her younger sister up, that Nemu didn't lose her balance.
"Quickly!" Enri shouted in alarmed tone.
Although they wanted to continue running, her sister's leg cramped up and stopped moving. Enri thought about carrying her sister, but metallic sounds stopped right next to her, scaring Enri to no end. Standing beside her was a knight with a bloody sword. Not only that, the armor and helmet also had traces of blood splattered everywhere.
Enri instinctively stepped forward to stood in front of her sister and glared fiercely at the knight.
"Don't struggle unnecessarily."
Enri did not feel as scared as she had before. Her sister had certain expectations of her. She had a duty as the older sibling to look after the younger one. While those words were said without the slightest hesitation, words full of ridicule. Words saying that even if they ran, they would not escape death. She did not think so. While the massacre of her home village was terrible, it wasn't completely one-sided. The small and ill-equipped militia had been able to fend off the knights for a short about of time and even slay some of the knights. Enri had also witnessed a few sights of someone armed only with a kitchen knife take down a fully armored knight with just the courage to save her husband. If her fellow villagers had been able to take down a knight than she could because she was faced with only one knight, without the support of his fellow knights.
"Don't look down on people!" Enri shouted, furiously.
Enri mercilessly lashed out a straight punch. The strike held all of her anger and also all of her desire to protect her sister. It was a strike that used up all her energy. A strike intended thrown to kill the knight as if her fist could penetrate through metal and bone alike to snuff the knight's life.
"Guuu!" The knight grunted.
The knight who endured the blow, started to sway violently. He should have been knocked out at the very least if it had not been from the metal helmet he wore. It served its purpose, and left the knight only with a broken nose. In fact, the strike had been so powerful that it had caused the very metal that covered and protected the face to dent inwards.
The protective sister barely felt anything. She didn't hear the sound of bones breaking. From a medical standpoint, it was likely the reason why she didn't feel the bones of her hand breaking was because the adrenaline rush would have acted as pain numbing effect. Enri would have disagreed if someone else had told her that. She would have said that she had not noticed the pain because she had been blinded burning fury.
In a moment after the punch, Enri felt herself drained of energy. Exhaustion finally caught up. She had frantically escaping the bloodbath of her home village and escaped the pursuit of several knights. The punch she had delivered had drained the last of her energy without her knowing it.
"Run!" Enri shouted at her younger sister as she dragged her younger sister in tow and sprinted once more.
Adrenaline rush began to fail her. It was not because the amount of adrenaline that coursed through her bloodstream was running out, but the stored energy in her body was nearly all gone and the lactic acid build-up had reached the point that her body of flesh and bone seemed to have turned into that of lead. Just attempting to sprint ten meters seemed like a momentous task. Still she tried even as it felt her own body was a burden.
"You damn bitch!" The knight screamed in rage after recovering from being hit in the head by a simple village girl.
Enri suddenly she felt a burning sensation on her back.
It just showed how much skill that the knight possessed when he hit Enri in the back with his sword despite the burning anger he had after being punched in the face and the fact that he managed to both sprint and hit a moving target.
The village girl collapsed from the pain. She rolled around on the ground and landed on her back. Enri looked up at the sword raised high in front of her, shining in the light, and understood that she was going to die.
The sword's tip was covered in a bit of her blood. That sight made her aware of her own elevated heartbeat, the pain from her back spreading through her body and the burning sensation of when she was cut. She had never experienced anything as agonizing as the pain presently experienced. The pain was an agonizing sensation only for a moment when her mind realized what the pain represented. It symbolized the fact that she was injured and would become weakened by blood loss until either the cut was treated or she bled out, the latter case seemed the most likely.
No. Enri refused to die! She had to survive not for her own sake but for her younger sister. Their parents had died in an attempt to buy them time to escape. The sacrifice of their parents would be wasted if she and her younger sister died right.
Enri looked for ways to survive. Her preferred hand, her right hand, was broken. She was exhausted. However, right in front of her stood a knight, mocking her determination to survive. It was not his eyes burning with age that mocked her attempt to survive. It was the very plate armor he wore that mocked her. The armor protected the knight's body from any hits that Enri knew could disable or kill a man with her body. The worst she could inflict were bruises that would further enrage the knight.
Lifting his sword high, the knight prepared himself to swing the sword down.
It could have been her concentrating too much, or that the life or death situation made her mind go into overdrive, Enri felt time slow down as she thought of ways to save her sister. But she couldn't think of a good solution. The most she could think of was to use her own body as a shield, and while the sword pierced her body, her sister could use that time to run away, that would be the last resort.
If that was to happen then she would stop the sword from withdrawing from her body as long as she had strength left, no matter who pierced her, she wouldn't let go until the fire of her life burned out. She would accept that fate.
Enri felt like a martyr and showed a smile.
"Nemu, run! Don't look back. Get away from here and live. Live for me. Live for papa. Live for mama!" Enri shouted.
The older sibling charged forward at the knight. Taking the blade with her body was the only thing that she could do for her sister. It seemed it was her turn to sacrifice her life, just as her parents had done, to give her younger sister a chance to survive. If it was her turn then she was more than willingly to do it if it meant saving her younger sister. Even if she was going to die than she would die buying her sister time to escape. If the sword was embedded in her body and she made struggled so that the knight would have a hard time extracting the blade, the very blade he would need to harm her younger sister.
Even so, being scared of the incoming pain, she could not help but close her eyes. In the world of darkness, she mentally prepared herself for her imminent death. Though even if she sacrificed herself to save her sister that didn't meant that she was not scared of death.
Please someone save us, Enri prayed, still fearing death.
- O -
"What?" Shirou blinked in surprise.
Shirou was at a loss of words. He had been expecting to find himself back in his bedroom. He had been playing the final hour of his favorite videogame, YGGDRASIL, and only videogame that he played before it would be forever shutdown. His bedroom should be the sight before him. Where he found himself was nowhere that shared no resemblance to his bedroom.
Most people wouldn't act as Shirou would. That was unless they had fought in countless battles. His mind quickly began to assess his surroundings and the condition of his body. Even if he found himself in an environment that was completely different from what he had been expecting that didn't mean anything to him who had fought in countless battles.
He saw crying little girl staring helplessly into the distance. His eyes followed where the girl was looking. Less than twenty meters away was young woman that was charging at armed knight, whom swung his sword down at the scared woman. When he saw what was happening before him and he didn't have time to think then he would move into subdue the enemy before him if possible.
"Trace On," Shirou Emiya chanted, instinctively.
He balled his hands into fists. Between his knuckles materialized small and thin bars of metal. When magical energy was channeled through them did the bars become small swords. The blades in his hands were special. They were magical blades used by the Holy Church's Executors, fighters that hunted down the supernatural threats that besieged humanity. Black Keys was what they were called.
Battle honed instincts made Shirou act without thinking, leaping backward and throwing his blades.
"WHAT?!" The knight shouted in shock.
The sword soared downwards. It fell and dug into the ground with a dull thud. The knight looked up dumbly from his sword at his target, but saw blades that had come out of nowhere soar past him. Each sword was long enough to pass through his body and still have half its blade poking out of him, and they were sharp enough to cut through solid matter with ease if the fact that the swords were buried blade first into the ground around him was anything to go by.
The knight smirked at when the thrown blades missed. The materialized blades would have no doubt seriously injured him or killed if the blades had not missed. He was about to bring up his sword and cut his target down when he was unable to move.
"Wondering, why you cannot move?" Shirou asked with a smirk as he watched the knight no doubt attempt to move his body, but it would not respond and his struggling expression was the only thing to show that he was straining his body to move when it refused to listen to his commands.
"What have you done to me?!"
Shirou didn't bother to answer. He was never the one to reveal his ability unless necessary and definitely would not explain his abilities to his enemy. The blades he had used were Black Keys. Black Keys were incredible versatile tools for they could imbued all sorts of enchantments. The magecraft Shirou had imbued within the metal of the Black Keys was ability to restrain their target with the intent of capture. So long as the blades were imbedded around the knight, it was impossible for him to move – unless he used some method to break the Black Keys' magecraft – until Shirou deactivated the magical paralysis of the Bounded Field that was projected through the Black Keys surrounding the knight.
"I would think very carefully about what how you would speak to me." Shirou spoke in a dangerous tone.
Fires blazed to life around the knight. It was like they had answered their master's will. Shirou's threat was like the magic words. The knight was scared out of his wits when the Black Keys for one moment seemed burn his exposed flesh and cook him within his armor. He didn't become burned or cooked within his armor when the fire dimmed down. It was then the knight realized that he was at the captor's mercy and the danger hadn't passed yet.
"What is that you want?"
"Sleep." Shirou simply instructed with magecraft being projected into his eyes and voice. The Bounded Field projected by the Black Keys froze the knight in place, but his eyes closed at the given instructions as the magically placed hypnosis did its work.
When Shirou was sure that the knight was subdued, he quickly scanned his surroundings for any more potential threats. No threats appeared.
The girl and woman ran to each other and when they hugged each other, they cried and hugged each other like they didn't believe what had happened. Their foreheads touched and looked each other in the eyes before they began to affectionately touch each other. The sight of the reunion made Shirou smile. It was little things like this that reminded him that pursuing the path of a hero was worth it, despite all the hardships with being a hero that it was worth it.
"Thank you. Thank you for your help." The woman said gratefully as she continued to cry.
"Thank you, Mister," said the young girl, following her sister's example.
"I only did what was right," said Shirou with a smile. "Can you tell me why that knight was attacking you?"
- O -
Shirou jumped up into the air. The height in which he reached was impossible for humans through natural means. At the height of ten meters it was only possible for most humans to reach his height with the aid of tools or magecraft.
He landed on a very thick tree branch and saw the rising smoke and burning buildings. The number of houses he saw suggested that he was looking at a village, a very small one by the count of homes. The village was a farming one from the vast open farmlands he saw surrounding the village. It was western in origin that sort that was found in Feudal Europe.
Anger swelled within him. The village had come under attack by bandits and its inhabitants were being massacred. The village had become home for a bloodbath, and it was still continuing from what he could see. He saw many corpses dotting in various conditions and concentrations around the village. As much as he hated the slaughter that was happening before his eyes, his anger paled to fury that took its place when he saw the torturing and sexual abuse occurring in his sight. At least those slaughtered did not suffer longer. Those who lived had suffering that Shirou could only imagine. They would be subjected to unbelievable amounts of physical pain and psychological trauma, and that was not counting the constant fear they had to endure at the possibilities that they could be killed if they resisted against bandits.
The bandits were too heavily armored and armed. Plate armor covered their entire bodies. Metal helmets that covered much of the head. Swords that were sharpened the point that cutting through wood was easy task, and possibly even weak metal. Equipment that professional soldiers normally only possessed. It wasn't just equipment. Any bandit could potentially get their equipment that held the standards of professionals. They might have a very wealthy backer. They might have killed soldiers in ambushes or even taken a military convey.
Individually, each bandit was an excellent fighter. A product of either combat training, fighting experience or maybe even a product of the two. It was not just their individual combat ability, but their ability to function together. These were not regular bandits that banded together for a criminal activity and their own survival due to their outlaw status. They displayed the strict discipline that made or broke militaries in battles. Only years of soldiering did the strict and orderly discipline that the bandits were showing could be demonstrated.
It was no surprise that the village had fallen easily to the bandits. He could see a few places of the village that were still resisting the bandits despite how unlikely it seemed to repel the bandits. Farming tools were being used against the bandits, but to little effect. The bandits were just too well equipped for farming tools to have any chance of harming the armor-clad bandits. Farming tools being negated as weapons by their equipment were not the only advantage the bandits held. They were taking little chances with the possibility of being overwhelmed by the miraculous odds that farming tools armed villagers. Each bandit treated the villagers like a potential threat that could kill them if not taken seriously.
Shirou didn't have to be a seer to see the fate of the village. It was clear that the village was going to be ransacked and then burned. The villagers that were either not killed would be taken as slaves. He couldn't let the pillaging and murdering continue.
As a Hero of Justice, the bandits would not achieve their objective. He had defeated EMIYA as proof that his ideals were worth dying for even if it was flawed. Shirou Emiya had ascended as a proper Heroic Spirit to become a Hero of Justice. Not living up the legend that he had forged for himself would be an insult to all his efforts and achievements. He knew what to do. It was obvious.
There was a village filled with people that he should be saving.
- O -
"OHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!" A knight screamed in horror as she ran for her life.
Linda Di Gelanpo didn't know how many times she cursed. But never in her whole life did she curse as often as she did during the last few minutes. What she was escaping from was never ending tide of death.
She alongside a company of knights had set out to raid a village. It was supposed to be an easy task. Get in and slaughter all the inhabitants. The village that they had raided lacked any fortifications and had little in defense, but an ill-equipped and trained militia built of farmers and hunters. For the last hour they had thought that they would have fun pillaging, raping and killing the villagers. Now, she was having regrets participating all the atrocities that her comrades and she had been responsible. The death that was literally chasing after her was like karma biting back at her.
It had started without warning. At first, she had thought that a villager from someway had managed to get a hand on a bow and arrows. Some of her comrades had after all died from the shots of several skilled hunters. That notion was dashed as quickly as when she saw several others of her comrades go down without warning. When she and her comrades had spread out to and searched to find the archer or archers, they found no archer within the range at least half a kilometer. It was only then it became clear that they were being shot from a range that even the most skilled archers shouldn't be able to accomplish.
The sword in her hand couldn't stop trembling. Her plate armor continued to create loud clanking sounds as the metal components smashed against each other as she ran for her life.
Whoever the archer was no ordinary one. No, Linda couldn't even compare the archer that scared her to death to even the best archers she had seen or heard in her life. She could think up of a comparable example of her attacker from the stories she had grown up learning. Archers that existed only in legends. Legendary archers that could shoot beyond the maximum range even the most skilled archers' range of four hundred meters. Her attacker had to be firing from a range well beyond what should be possible at half a kilometer and beyond.
Range wasn't the only component that the attacker was comparable to the archers of legends.
Speed. The speed in which the attacker had to shoot, notch and fire another arrow. Even the most skilled archer would aim, draw and fire twelve arrows in a minute that normally resulted in the archer having muscle cramps after such a feat. Her attacker could shoot one arrow after an arrow in a matter of milliseconds. Another unbelievable feat was how fast the arrows travelled themselves. The arrows seemed to travel so fast that they caused a whistling sound in the air. It was like the whistling and how close that sound was to someone signaled when you were going to die.
The accuracy of the shots was uncanny. The fact that the arrows had to travel more than half a kilometer and still hit their targets was a feat worth of elevating his attacker to the legends. Her attacker wasn't just hitting her targets, he was hitting at location that would disable or outright kill where her comrades' and her plate armor and helmet should protect. The arrows were practically hitting small gaps that most archers thought as impossible at hitting from a distance. Linda's mind couldn't help but boggle at the fact that not only was the archer was shooting at a distance through impossible with a bow, but also hitting moving targets, which got harder the further away the target was from the archer.
When Linda saw a comrade that had not been more than a meter away from her get struck down by an arrow straight between the eyes, a small slit in the metal helmet, Linda was struck back into reality and remembered that she was still in possible danger and run for her life. The arrows fletching was made out black feathers. Thus, representing the very same meaning as the black crows in which the feathers came from; the arrows were associated with death and were the bringers of death in her present case.
"Run for your lives. The Black Rain of Death is coming!"
The Black Rain of Death, the hail of black-feathered arrows became known, slaughtering the knights. Arrows became their newest fears amongst the surviving knights. The mysterious archer was a never-ending threat that loomed over the knights. If they sexually abused, tortured or killed a villager then they were shot down. If they attempted to flee then they were shot down. If they remained still they were shot down. Only if the knights fled towards a specific location were the knights spared.
That was how Linda and her remaining comrades had ended up in the village square.
Although their bodies were overwhelmed with fear, none of the knights tried to move a step. It wasn't because they were brave, since every single one of them was paralyzed with fear. Their shivering bodies caused their armor to give off clattering sounds. After reaching the village square, any knight that took a step found themselves dead with an arrow in tiny gaps of their armor.
Linda slightly shifted her eyes to look for help. There were two hundred some people, the villagers, and hundred or so knights, a third of the knights that assaulted the village. All the knights were gripped by fear. On the other hand, the villagers seemed unease with the knights' surroundings them but did not fear the invisible enemy that the knights did – probably because none of the villagers had been targeted by the unforeseen attacker and the black-feathered arrows had not much as come any close from their bodies.
The mysterious archer had kept Linda's comrades and she pinned down in the village square. Any who attempted to escape were killed instantaneously the moment they were outside the boundaries of the village square. No matter how fast they ran or how well armored they were, the black arrows found their mark, piercing through the smallest chinks that exposed their flesh through their plate armor and metal helmets.
"Hey, I got an idea how to get out of here. Interlock our shields together and slowly back away. Even if the archer can shoot what should be an impossible range, they are a limit in how his body and bow is capable off. All we need to do is from exposing the gaps of our armor until we reached the limit of the archer's range and we are free!"
A solid plan against most archers, even the most skilled ones, but not against the mysterious archer that was responsible for the Black Rain of Death. There were many flaws in the idea that Linda was hearing. That didn't also take into account how many assumptions they had did not match the situation at hand. What stopped Linda from correcting her comrades' idea was that she wanted to see if the plan would work out or not. If their plan worked then she would use that plan to escape the kill zone with other comrades of hers.
When her fellow knights began to interlock their shields, Linda couldn't help a forbidding feeling. She was proven right when the overlapping shield wall constructed within seconds, but it collapsed faster than it taken to construct as the knights who had set forth to construct the shield wall all lie died on the ground.
A shiver ran down Linda's spine. Whoever was the mysterious archer had struck even greater fear into her heart than before the shield wall idea had been proposed. Before the black arrows had struck the tiny gaps that armor had failed to cover. Now the mysterious archer had arrows that could penetrate through both thick solid shields and plate armor with ease.
Fellow knights took steps backwards and gasped in horror at their brave comrades that had attempted the shield wall fall dead. The previous arrows that had struck down their comrades through the small gaps in their armor looked like any ordinary arrow that anyone would use. They saw arrows that they had never seen in their lives. Until now, the only arrows they knew that could penetrate through plate armor were bolts from a crossbow. Before their eyes were arrows that they had never seen before being able to penetrate even plate armor. Instead of the traditional arrow that was wholly constructed of wood, beside the feather fletching and metal arrowhead, but the arrow before them was made completely out of metal.
As an experienced soldier who had fought through many battles of all sorts, Linda recognized how the new arrows were able to penetrate plate armor when arrows shouldn't be able to. Traditional arrows failed to penetrate through plate armor because it either lacked the speed or the mass to create a force necessary to punch through plate armor. The foreseen archer had unbelievable amount of speed behind his arrows for the arrows to travel so quickly beyond what was thought possible for archer's shooting range. Now with the wholly metal arrows, there was more than sufficient mass alongside with speed to penetrate plate armor.
Linda thought that there was no getting out of her present predicament when she noticed that something was making its way towards the village square.
A tall and muscular figure came walking into the village square. Spiked silver hair bounced up and down as its owner entered the village square. Steel eyes carefully looked around as if he was at the knights and the villagers like he was assessing everyone. The man was no ordinary man. He wore black leather armor that made him seem like he was lightly armored fighter, but the red overcoat he wore seemed to contain powerful magical enchantments of unknown purpose.
Linda took a step back when she finally managed to get a good look at the man without the sunlight shining right into her eyes.
"Is that…" A knight blurted out in awe.
"Yea… I see the exact same." Another knight agreed, nodding his head.
The black bow in the man's hand was longer than the height of most fully-grown men. It wasn't just the size of the bow that was amazing about it. Both the upper and lower limbs of the bow were as thick as the arms of an average person. In the place of natural fibers that would normally make bowstring was thin and sturdy cable-like wires, thick as a finger. In fact, the black bow was clearly no ordinary one, and unlike any bow the villagers or knight had seen or heard about in their lives. It actually looked like it could fire the very munitions that were normally reserved for ballista, siege weapons that fired gigantic wooden or metal missiles to punch through fortifications.
Anyone looking at who held the massive black bow would have believed that they were daydreaming because the strength required just to carry, much less use, seemed beyond the physique of the already physically impressive man.
"Damn, don't mess around with me!" A knight shouted in anger as he charged forward and lunged at the man.
It happened in a blur. In a heartbeat, the charging knight fall on the ground with a black arrow pierce straight through his metal helmet.
Knights and villagers alike stared in fascination at the corpse of the dead knight. Any bow beside that of crossbows were not known to pierce through plate armor, even in point-blank range. For the massive long bow to launch an arrow that could pierce plate armor suggested that the black bow had the draw weight to launch arrows well beyond the range of conventional bows. The massive black bow they were seeing seemed to possess capabilities of bows that were spoken in only of myth and legend.
For the knights, it quickly became apparent who was likely the mysterious archer that had dispatched so many of them from a distance that was not thought possible with a bow and arrow. Just thinking about the notion shook the knights to their core.
"Don't just stand there! At this range, he can't possibly get all of us. Think of our dead comrades! We must avenge them! Charge!" A knight bellowed.
None of the knights required further encouragement. They became armored with the notion of revenging their comrades, people that knew as close as family. Fear dissipated. In the place of fear was courage. Without thinking about their own lives and only thinking about the bloodthirsty revenge that was welling up within them did the knights abandon any notion of self-preservation and charged forward in mass.
The villagers trembled in fear. That their would-be-savior' death seemed inevitable. A figure that had for a moment seemed like a glimmer of hope. A chance of defeating the knights. A death that would leave them without any possible chance of escaping slavery or death. When they thought about the inevitable death of their potential savior, the villagers became to weep.
"Aaaarrrrrhhhhh!" The knights yelled as they charged the lone archer.
When most lone archers would panic or flee when the odds were against them such as the mass charge of knights, the man stood still. He showed not even the slightest signs of being afraid. Instead, the man stood his ground. The massive black bow's drawstring was drawn back. A black arrow was notched. Acquired the target and fired. That was what the archer did, repeatedly, in a calm manner without showing the slightest inclination that he was at all afraid or distracted by the mass of charging knights that were screaming for his blood.
Linda mistook the first of her comrades to fall as a fluke. The second one to fall had to be a lucky shot after a fluke. It was only when the third knight that fall down onto the ground unmoving did she begin to doubt the possibility that the man would not die. Her doubt manifested as a fear when she saw a dozen of her comrade fell onto the ground unmoving in a matter of seconds before the first knight was able to reach the distance possible to swing a sword at the lone archer.
What are we up against? Linda thought in fear.
- O -
The first knight to come into Shirou's reach was instantly surprised by his reaction. Shirou let go of his massive black arrow and it disappeared in motes of light. The blueprints of Black Keys were loaded from his memories to the forefront of his mind. He called upon the Black Keys and they answered his call. Eight Black Keys materialized in his hands, gleaming with the sunlight they reflected. The Black Keys than made they way towards the knight as Shirou slashed at the knight.
The knight had raised his solid metal shield to no avail.
Black Keys were weapons made to slay nothing short of the mightiest enemies of humanity. They had a presence both on the material and spiritual planes. Neither the physical body or soul was safe from their reach. The Black Keys made mincemeat out of the steel breastplate protecting the knight. Ordinary steel was nothing compared the strength of the steel and the magic that permeated through every centimeter of Black Keys. Only an equally or superior object could hope to resist the Black Keys Shirou used.
Shirou only saw the first knight collapse onto the ground before he turned to parry an incoming slash from a sword.
Despite the fact that his Black Keys looked like thin and fragile fireplace pokers compared to the thick and long swords that the knights used, but looks were deceiving. The second knight that attacked Shirou and his colleagues stared with shocked eyes as the Black Keys bit into the metal of the long sword when through sight alone the Black Keys should've taken the damage because of their fragile look compared to the Black Keys.
Forward momentum spelled the end for the knight's long sword. Shirou didn't need to do anything. He just simply held the Black Key in place. The long sword continued in its path as the blade cut itself upon the Black Key. The Black Keys were that sharp and strong that ordinary steel of the long sword killed itself.
The knight responsible for the slash was instantly downed as Shirou slashed at the throat of the knight.
Bloodthirst still clouded the minds of the knights who had decided to charge at Shirou. For several seconds, Shirou continued to dispatch several more knights similar to how he had dispatched the first two. It was only when Shirou dispatched two dozens of the knights did the bloodthirst wear off and they realized their situation.
"What… how is that possible?"
"He isn't human. Not human could fight so many well trained and equipped knights like they were nothing."
"Where did those swords appear from?"
"You shouldn't be worried where they appeared from! Instead, you should be worried about how sharp and strong they are!"
The dozens of knights that had sought out to revenge their fallen comrades through sheer number took several steps back when they realized how naïve they had been thinking about using such a tactic without thinking first. They had mistaken the lone archer's appearance as bravado or as a bluff. Now that they thought about it, any sane person wouldn't have acted that Shirou did without being perfectly sure that they could survive.
Shirou smirked as he saw several of the knights to began to tremble and have their faces turn blue as they realized their folly. While they were well trained and equipped, that was only by the standards of ordinary human soldiers. He had fought the pinnacle of humanity had to offer, legendary heroes that had transcended death. The knights were a simple task compared to what he had dealt with during Holy Grail Wars.
As the knights took several steps back in fear, the encirclement around Shirou widened.
The Black Keys were released from his grasp. They flew and true. Each and every one of the magical swords pierced the forehead of the skull or center of the torso. Both areas were instant kills as they were the brain or the heart. Eight knights went down. To the unskilled eyes, it would seem that all eight knights were hit at the same time. To Shirou the Black Keys hit their targets with a delay of point zero one seconds, an unnoticeable amount of time for most, but to him it was time that could change the course of a fight.
"He might actually do it."
Villagers became to whisper and mutter with each other. Shirou couldn't help but continue to smirk, unlike before when he had been smirking to unnerve the knights he was genuinely smirking. Fear was restraint than physical ones. The villagers had the knights outnumbered by three times. If the villagers all decided to fight than they would surely overwhelm their captors. If whispering and muttering continued as it was then it wouldn't be soon before the villagers saved themselves.
When he turned to see the knights, it was evident that they were scared. So, scared that they would have even in their lives. Most the knights were trembling so fearfully that they were paralyzed in fear and lowered their guard. Several knights had collapsed onto the ground either falling on their backside or fainted.
Collectively the knights couldn't believe what had happened due to how unbelievable it was, no one realized if they were in a nightmare or reality. None of the knights would believe their eyes. They had seen too many times that the lone archer had the skills comparable of archers of legends. The monster clad in human form was not just an archer that rivaled those of legend. It was also a close quarters fighter in equal measure as its ranged capabilities. The fear would have been like a cancer that could've been easily removed when it was detected in the early stages when the knights had witnessed the first death, but the fear became cancer that had spread beyond that point of no return when they saw several knights all be taken down so easily. The notion that even soldiers that had trained tirelessly and had years of battle experience under their belt had been defeated so easily solidified the fear that it was meaningless to fight even with numbers against the monster before them.
After that, the whole situation devolved into chaos.
"Aaaarrrhhhhhh!" A chaotic scream started to fill the air in the square. One of knights couldn't stand the terror, cried out desperately and tried to escape.
The encircling formation of knights surrounding Shirou collapsed as the knights' broke formation and fled. However, not a single knight tried to flee with him. The reason for that became apparent immediately. The escaping knights only managed to get away by several steps before they collapsed onto the ground with a Black Key lodged in their skulls or chest.
"No knight will survive if they choose to flee." Shirou said in a serious tone as he readied another batch of Black Keys.
- O -
"Heeeeeehh!" Linda screamed in fear as fell onto her backside.
It was a slaughter. The worst slaughter that Linda had ever seen in her life. She had done many things in the name of the Six Gods. In fact, she had participated in several massacres in the name of the Six Gods, heretics and mutants alike, but never had she witnessed a slaughter like the one that was before her. Those slaughters had been done by teams working together, but never by one individual like the monster clad in human form before her.
Human instincts were to blame for the many deaths of the slaughter. Ingrained within all humans were the instincts to either fight or flee. Fighting had been attempted before, and it was obvious what had resulted. A bloodbath had ensured without a single scratch on the lone archer. Since fighting had failed, many of the knights had been instinctively guided to flee for their lives. The surviving knights were only alive because they had disobeyed of their instincts or were too shocked to move.
Even though their hands were holding swords, no one dared to attack at first. Not after the results of the en mass charge had failed so spectacularly. Their attacks were ineffective and trying to run away meant instant death. There was only one road left to take and that was to be toyed with until the female archer decided what was to be their fate.
Although they all wore full-cover helmets that were hiding the faces underneath, but by now everyone should have realized their fate. Battle-hardened men and women started crying like children. They came to bully the weak but never in their life would they have imagined that they would suffer the same fate.
"God, please help me ..."
Several knights choking back tears could be heard to asking for God's blessing. Feeling powerless, Linda almost knelt down as well in order to start cursing or beg for a godly intervention. While the knights realized their impending fate started to pray, their prayers were suddenly interrupted by a piercing screech.
"You, you guys, hurry up and block that monster!"
The person who spoke was a knight. Wanting to avoid the bodies of his two dead companions next to him, the way he constantly trembled from tiptoeing around them was quite amusing.
Linda watched everything with a distressed look and started to frown. Because they were wearing full-cover helmets it was impossible to see their faces and with their voice out of tune due of fear it was hard to determine who issued this order. But with this kind of attitude, only one person could be responsible.
…...Captain Belius. Linda' expression twisted.
Because of his lechery, Belius tried to rape one of the village girls and clashed with her father who tried to save her. After they pulled the man away, Belius vented his anger on him by repeatedly thrusting his sword into the villager – he was that kind of person. The only reason he was able to join this force was because of the gold of his family, which was wealthy and owned many estates. Having a man like that become captain, that could only be called unlucky.
"I can't just die here, people! You will go and buy me some time! Become a shield to protect me!"
No one took action. Although he was captain in name, he wasn't respected. Who would sacrifice their live for such a selfish and greedy man? Only the archer showed any form of reaction to his loud shouting. While the knights were still gripped by hopelessness, they also had deep sense of loathing at their so-called "Captain".
"What do you offer to compensate for the crimes that you have committed against this village?" The human monster asked, curiously.
Captain Belius jumped in fright when he found the human monster right beside him without him noticing. While the human relaxingly held his hands free of the swords that had brought so much death, Belius did not doubt for a second that it could materialize and throw sword before he could even have the slightest chance of wounding the monster, not after what several knights working in tandem had failed. When he met his gaze, he got the feeling that he was looking at an investigator, judge and executioner rolled into one person.
"Money, I'll give money. Two hundred gold coins! No, five hundred gold coins!" Captain Belius shouted to both his soldiers and the man before him.
Money had never stopped to work for Belius. He had bribed his way out of trouble and he was sure that he could do the same with the man before him. Another message he meant at the same time with his offer for money was also at his soldiers. The money he promised was worth a small fortune. More than enough money to live in luxury for several years. What Belius had failed to understand was at moment it was just like asking his soldiers to jump from a 500 meters cliff and only if they were able to survive would they be given the reward.
While no one took action, only one person moved.
"What...!" Belius shouted as felt an immense amount of pain from his chest. "Let, let me go! I am begging you! I will do anything you ask!"
The nearby knights and villagers who saw what happened couldn't stop their bodies from becoming stiff with horror.
Belius continued to beg as his hands grasped the foreign object in his torso, where his heart should be. The monster ignored his words. Just watched in eerie silence as Belius failed to realize that his death was inevitable even when and continued to beg for his life.
"Aaargh– I, I'll give you money, let, let me…"
Belius' body continued to function for several more seconds before it finally drew his last breath.
"No…. No… No."
Belius' shocked knights wailed in anguish. They had seen someone that was a monster clad in human form. They were seeing a monster. A monster of three different disciplines of combat: bow, blade and magic. A human monster that was a legendary archer, warrior and magician.
Their fate was out of their control. To run would mean to lose one's life, but to stay would mean a fate of death just the same. They had committed similar crimes to Captain Belius. It was obvious what they had done when it was common sense what would befall on a village when it was raided and plundered. The choice they had was to die on their own free will or have it decided by another. Although they were well aware of the notion, they had no idea what to do. A death was the same no matter who someone died. It was only a measure of how much pain before they died. Thus, their bodies were unable to move a single step.
"Calm down!" Linda roared to her fellow comrades. Linda' roar echoed from the wails. The area became silent, as if time had stopped. "Retreat! Hurry and send the signal to the knights that are not here! While the horn is blown, the remaining people here try to buy some time for the others to escape! I for one will rather die knowing that I managed to save my comrade, get moving!"
Everyone sprang into action. Gone was the bewilderment from before, every knight worked as one and moved with the momentum of a splashing waterfall. Mechanically following orders, they stopped thinking. Their training kicked in to obey the commands of their superior, and it was hard to ignore the commands when they were shouted with so much conviction and charisma. They were going to make a miracle happen or die trying. The chaotic actions from before would not happen a second time. All the knights knew what they had to do. They needed to protect the one in charge of blowing the horn, in order to contact the other knights to retreat.
A retreating knight put down his sword and took out a horn from his bag.
"Like I would let you run away from the crimes that you have committed against this village!" The monster screamed as he materialized a sword and threw.
The knight with the horn could only watch as horror as the horn that he had been moments away from blowing broke in his very hands. The precious signal that would alert his comrades were patrolling the perimeter of the village to retreat and could save his comrades' lives was dashed with the destruction of the horn.
A whirlwind of death formed in the village square. Swords gleamed in the air as they flew everywhere. The monster spun around. A hail of sword resulted. Anyone that saw the never-ending flood of swords flying in the air would assume that the thrower had sacrificed accuracy for the rate of swords thrown. That was not the case. Each and every resulted in instant death. The heart or the brain was targeted. The whirlwind of death was both pinpoint accurate and lightning fast.
The knights knew that standing still in the open meant instant death. However, even as they knew that moving would make little difference to a monster that could fire an arrow at a moving target from a distance that should be impossible with a bow and the same logic applied with the thrown swords. Still, every knight continued to run because they hoped the very short time span it took for the monster to track and throw would buy their comrades the precious seconds longer to live.
Some knights stayed behind to buy their retreating comrades time by advancing at the lone archer with a defensive wall. They knew that creating an interlocking shield wall would do little prevent the human monster from hitting the smallest chinks in their formation, but they overlapped their shields over the other or underneath to increase the thickness of their shields to at least slow down the armor-piercing swords for a comrade to have increased chance of survival.
Sword after sword, knights collapsed as throwing swords hit their mark. In a blink of an eye, several knight died.
"Ditz! Morite! It's your time to strike. If you don't, take that cursed monster down then it is going to kill all of us at this rate!"
The knights who were singled out hurried charged to kill the invincible enemy. Swords continued to fly as the shield wall continued to close in around the lone monster and those who were brave enough rushed forward in an attempt to silence the rain of throwing swords.
In a flash four knights had died. Although Linda felt fear, she took her sword and stood before the black whirlwind, ready to heroically sacrifice herself like a martyr.
Even if there was no chance of winning, Linda did not intend to sit still and, shouting a battle cry, used all her strength as she sprinted forwards and swung her sword towards the lone archer.
Maybe it was because it was her final chance, but Linda broke her own limits and released a strength that surprised even herself, this might've been the best slash she ever did in her whole life.
The monster turned around to deliver a sword right in the middle of Linda's eyes.
After a flash, Linda' eyes spun around to see her sword tumble onto the ground. Her eyes began to close as she lost consciousness. Before the darkness took her, Linda heard the sound of several horns being blown.
At least, I got some of my comrades out of here alive.
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