The Fortress of Millennia stood upon the hill overlooking the citadel city of Trifas, with the light of the moon casting its shadow upon the city and its sleeping residents. For a long time, the people of the countryside city had enjoyed the quiet and peaceful nights, oftentimes strolling out and about. However, all of it changed once the lights of the darkened old castle had lit. It was a sign that the fortress once more had begun to house the enigmatic old family that had finally returned inside its walls.
The people now adhered to a strict set of rules that governed their actions, curfew, silence, and other matters. They asked no questions. For it was what they and their ancestors had agreed upon when they chose to stay in this land.
Near the boundaries of the fortress, a cloaked figure appeared from the shadows. It gazed upon the massive fortress, reaching out a hand toward it. A crackling blue spark emanated from where the figure's finger touched the air.
"Child's play," mused Medea.
She spread her fingers wide, then trails of indecipherable glowing purple letters flowed from her hands, down to the tips of her fingers, and finally, over the invisible barrier that enveloped the entire fortress.
"Now it's our turn."
The witch cackled loudly, no longer mindful of her presence. The trails of her magic overflowed and traveled fast, spreading like an infection over the magical barrier that covered the entire castle grounds.
"We must strike now."
None of the occupants of the room seemed inclined to respond any time soon to Shirou Kotomine's statement. The sitting room was one of many in the Yggdimillenia castle. Like most every room inside, it was decorated to display their clan's opulence.
While Darnic remained passive in his thoughts as always, the rest of the Yggdmillennia Masters, those that were present, showed unease on their faces. Roche was not present. The prodigy was together with his Servant underneath the castle, assembling more golems. With the homunculi out of the front lines, they needed to rely more on the artificial constructs. And with more homunculi free to help with the assembly and the resources and help of the Red Faction, they were churning out an unprecedented amount of them in such a short span of time.
"We must," repeated the priest.
In battles, fighting from a defensive position generally always had the advantage over an attacking force. And with the Berserker known as Heracles acting as a defender, it would be a battle that would be no doubt cost them. Not to mention the location would certainly have been turned into Caster of Blue's territory.
"I don't see why we would need to," said Gordes. "We already thought of the possibility that Ruler could survive the ambush we planned. However, shouldn't it only be a matter of time before she dies?"
"Combined with my most concentrated poison and Assassin's curse, there is little chance of Ruler surviving it on her own," said Semiramis, as always staying right next to her Master. "However, as we had seen, her Servants are of the capable sort. And Ruler herself had managed to withstand something that would have outright killed most Servants in seconds."
"Yes," said Shirou. "It wouldn't be surprising if they had managed to find a way to save her somehow. If that is the case, then we should continue to pursue them before she recovers."
"I have to agree, grandfather."
Darnic looked over to Fiore. As the one he chose to succeed the Yggdmillenia family, her words carried far more weight to him than the others.
"As we had seen, our enemies have proven themselves resourceful," she continued. "All of the surveillance golems we've sent thus far have been destroyed. We know truly nothing of what's going on with their side."
It wasn't a decision to be taken lightly.
The two factions had only recently reaffirmed their alliance after the loss of Lancer of Black.
But before an outcome could be reached, there was a sudden change in their surroundings. The feeling of something shattering had come across them.
"Impossible!" said Celenike. She rushed towards the window, looking outside. "The Bounded Field protecting the fortress has been broken!"
"Quickly!" Darnic rose from his seat. "We must—!"
A loud boom shook the room, causing furniture to fall and some people to stumble on their feet. It happened twice more in the span of a few seconds.
Finally, the shaking had settled and everyone in the room was able to get their bearings straight.
"What is going on?!"
And as if to answer, Rider of Black materialized into the room.
"Hey, hey!" he greeted. "Everyone doing A-okay here?"
Though they were slightly shaken, there hadn't been any real danger to their lives. The fortress was built to withstand great punishment, each stone heavily enchanted. Even without the Bounded Field, its structure would not be compromised so easily.
"Explain what's happening, Rider," commanded Celenike.
"Well, it looks like we're under attack."
That much was obvious enough. Through the shaking windows, multiple flashes of light can be seen outside.
"Archer's at the top of the castle trying to knock down the enemy attacks, but—" Another boom shook the room coming from somewhere in the castle. "He said there's too many of them for him to intercept them all."
"Shore up our defenses!"
At Darnic's command, they all went into action.
With a twang of her bow, Atalanta fired off another volley of arrows that flew far off towards the fortress. They flew fast, almost entirely imperceptible in the night.
Still, those arrows never reached their intended mark.
"Indeed," agreed Archer of Blue, pulling back on the string of his own bow as he carefully eyed his target. "Even against two Archer-class Servants, he's still capable of holding his own. He's certainly not someone to be taken lightly."
Once the arrow left his fingers, it split into several dozen more, joining Atalanta's next set she had fired, flying off into the distance. Once again, many of those arrows failed to land, having been struck down by arrows from the opposing side.
However, not all of them were intercepted.
A tower of the fortress collapsed, stones crumbling down after a portion of its side had been blown off by an arrow.
Archer smirked with satisfaction.
"Though, there is only so much he can do."
The two archers stood together atop the branches of highest tree of one of the many forests in the land. They continued to fire arrow after arrow without pause, hammering down upon the enemy base, slowly but surely causing destruction.
After a minute or two of artillery fire, the Servants suddenly veered their aim, flicking a fan of quick shots at a different angle. In the next moment, multiple flying golems fell from the dark sky, turned to mere rubble.
"It looks like they've found us," said Atalanta.
"Just as expected." Archer once again pulled back on his bow, putting his sights back on the castle. "Let's see how long it takes them to get here."
Achilles watched as the arrows flew passed them in the stormy evening sky.
"Dammit! They're completely ignoring us!" he said, unable to do anything but watch as those arrows reached the Yggdmillenia fortress.
"Isn't that better for us?" Astolfo rode next to Achilles' chariot on his hippogriff.
With the main protective barrier down, it would only take some time before the enemy Archers completely destroyed their base. Had it not been for Archer of Black's intervention, they would have likely experienced far greater damage.
"These pathetic arrows won't do much against us, but the castle won't be able to handle them. Even teacher can't take care of them all by himself."
At the castle walls, a few of the Masters of Black were out openly casting protections. Another arrow slipped through, crashing against the high stone walls near Saber of Black's Master. The rotund Master nearly fell off the walls, running and jumping as the stone beneath him crumbled and gave away.
"Oh, that was a close call," said Astolfo, looking back with a grin. "I gotta say, I wasn't expecting your Master to be so light on his feet, Saber. Hmm? Now he's jumping around and shaking his hand at us. He's surprisingly energetic."
"He wants us to quickly move and defeat the enemy," said Siegfried. The stoic knight rode as a passenger in Achilles' chariot.
"Easier said than done," said Achilles.
"It is likely a trap awaits us," said Siegfried.
"So pretty much just as teacher expected," said Achilles. "But there's nothing we can do about it. We can't let them keep chipping away at us like this."
"Ah geez," sighed Astolfo. "And here I was hoping for a few more days of relaxation."
"We've been ordered to stop them." Karna's passive face peaked out from behind Astolfo's shoulders. The pale son of a sun god had been seated behind him. "And so we must."
"That's fine with me," Achilles said, a vicious smile on his face. "I've been itching for a fight."
The Servants raced through the night sky with great speed, trailing like a meteor. They covered the distance in a short amount of time, reaching the beginning of a great forest where the surveillance golems had located the two enemy Archers.
"Alright, let's—!" Achille's words were cutoff when they had suddenly ceased all movement in the air. "What's… going on?!"
A purple glow came from below them, on the forest floor.
"The space itself is… immobilized?!" grunted Siegfried.
It was a powerful spell that could stop even Servants with high magic resistance. However, against multiple strong Servants, it could only hold for a few moments.
And in those precious few moments, Achilles and the other Servants saw that the arrows that had ignored them before were now flying straight at them. In the middle of the hail of deadly projectiles, there was one different from the rest. It shone with a blue light that belied it's true dangerous nature.
The light was blinding. And the effects of the blast was powerful, a force so great that it had easily reached and shook the walls of the fortress of Yggdmillenia. It had left a good portion of the forest devastated, clearing the area of trees and leaving only a smoking crater of ash and smoke left in its wake.
"Ah, I thought I was going to die."
At the edge of the crater, Astolfo's hippogriff screeched in agreement to it's rider, both sprawled and slightly smoking on the scorched earth. Meanwhile, Karna floated down just a little bit above them, looking no worse for wear.
"Thanks for the save there, Lancer," said Astolfo.
"Everyone alright?" Achilles landed right next to them, his spear out and ready for battle.
Large fallen tree trunks shifted near them. Siegfried appeared from underneath the pile of uprooted trunks, setting them aside to join his comrades. He sported a few minor scratches, but those were already almost gone thanks to the healing his Master provided him.
"An A-rank Noble Pantasm?" said Siegfried as he examined his injuries dissapear thanks to his Master healing him.
"So much for pathetic arrows," grumbled Astolfo. "If that one made it all the way to the castle, that would have been really bad."
"Get ready." Achilles pointed with his spear. "Looks like we're in for a good fight!"
Standing at the edges of the blast that Archer's arrow had made, a large and menacing figure stood at the opposite end of them. His jagged stone sword in hand, Heracles stepped onto the battlefield.
"Ho? I wasn't expecting this much from Archer. That damn fox was holding out on me."
Joining him to his right was Lancer of Blue. And on his left, the red and silver knight that was Saber of Red.
"Finally," said Mordred, pounding her armored fist in her hand. "Time to bash some skulls in!"
Following his thunderous roar, the ground trembled and shook as Heracles bounded towards his enemies. With a single wide swipe of his jagged blade he tore apart trees, stone, and earth along with anything in its path.
The most famous Greek hero was a monstrous force of nature unleashed upon the world. His large and muscular body rippled with raw power.
His back shoulder was pierced by a shining spear. And the one holding on to it and daring enough to stand on his shoulder was none other than Karna, Son of the Sun God. One of the few who did not hesitate to clash against him.
Karna was quick to move, evading the strong and flexible arm of Heracles that went to grab him, landing a few feet away. He furrowed his brows as he watched the injury he'd made on Heracles start to steam and rapidly heal. The wound hadn't even caused the Greek hero to flinch.
Heracles launched himself directly towards Karna. His sword came down in an quick and heavy overhead strike. But he had missed. Karna had spun to the side and dug his spear to the ground and used it to propel a kick at Heracles' head. Heracles was able catch the blow with his hand, however, before he could grab onto him, Karna had lit him up with a fiery beam from his right eye.
Flames engulged the landscape, turning the ground itself into magma. Still, there stood Heracles in the midst of it all, his head turning left and right in search of his opponent.
His eyes traveled skyward, where his opponent stood in the sky. Karna summoned spears of red light and cast them down.
The spears fell fast and detonated. A multitude of explosions that rang across the land.
Karna observed as dark smoke clouded his view below him. He shared no doubt that the blow he'd delivered would have been enough to kill his foe on the ground.
And he was right.
A massive tree pierced through the smoke at a frightening speed and hit him.
Heracles roared at the skies.
His hand moved to his side, grabbing and stopping the tip of an ornate golden lance that had tried to reach him from his blindside.
"H-Hi there," greeted Astolfo with an innocent but strained smile. "How's it going?"
And Heracles snarled in what could likely be deemed as annoyance.
Three stone golems appeared from black smoke surrounding them and attempted to attack him from behind, however, he'd vanquish them with a single swing of his sword, without even turning his annoyed glare from Astolfo.
Astolfo watched with dread as Heracles raised that same sword, already thinking of how much pain he was going into be, if he didn't outright die. However, Heracles instead dodged away at the last moment when a tree had fallen from the sky where he'd stood. It was the same one he'd thrown earlier.
"You'd better keep on your toes if you don't wanna die!"
From behind Astolfo rushed Achilles, a savage grin on his face. He charged without reserve towards Heracles.
Heracles blocked the spear with his blade. The two locked eyes together as their weapons clashed against each other. However, it was clear that Achille's strength wasn't up to par, as he was slowly getting pushed back.
Backing him up, Astolfo joined the fray. Together they were able to somehow keep up with Heracles. Their weapons spun and clanged as they intersected with Heracle's jagged sword, always on the attack and never letting a single moment pass as they were able to coordinate their strikes.
It seemed as though the clash would last forever, at least until it was ended by a red-silver knight slamming into Achilles and sending him careening off to the side.
"You didn't forget about me, did you?" said Mordred.
Dangerous red spears flew towards the knight. In that moment, Cú Chulainn came and intercepted them. The Hound of Ireland easily deflected them with a twirl of his red spear.
As Karna appeared once more and landed, Heracles went after him, ploughing through Astolfo. However, he was stopped in his tracks by none other than Siegfried. The dragon-slaying knight was able to hold fast, his hands on his blade trying to push against the might of Heracles.
Above the two, in the night sky dotted with stars, appeared dozens of shooting stars. Though they weren't shooting stars at all.
"Dammit!" said Achilles as he and his comrades saw them. "We've got to stop those archers!"
"You're not going anywhere." Cú Chulainn stood in his way, spear ready.
There was a rumbling through forest behind Lancer. The large trees shook as the noise came closer and closer. Finally, out burst Spartacus, rushing forward like a boulder at Cú Chulainn.
"Behold! It is I! The one who shall rid this world of the oppressors!"
Spartacus had ran all the way from the castle, eager to join the fray. Since time had been of the essence, he was unable to join the flight of his comrades due to his larger and heavier frame.
"Berserker," said Achilles, "Keep him occupied while I take care of their Archers."
Lancer was about to intercept him, however, he'd been body blocked by Spartacus. Achilles jumped high into the trees and moved swiftly along the branches, vanishing quickly through the rich canopy.
Spartacus pointed his blade at Lancer. He had a disgusting and taunting grin filled with glee on his face.
"Come and face me, dog of the oppressor!"
"Curse those damnable Servants!"
Saber of Black's Master, Gordes continued to prop up defensive spells time after time to stop the rain of arrows from destroying more of the castle. He and the others had thought their Servants had managed to stop them, but it had only been a brief lull before the attacks had resumed once more.
The other Masters were spread out over the castle exterior, contributing to their defenses or trying to repair the bounded field.
"Just what on earth is that Servant of mine doing?!" he complained loudly.
"Uncle Gordes watch out!"
Gordes saw the arrows headed for him. He conjured a spell in the air to block them, however, one had managed to pierce through. His eyes locked into the sole arrow in direct course for his head.
The thought of death was all that appeared in his mind.
A sudden rush of wind came down followed by a clank. Gordes fell on his bum, cold sweat running down his back. He'd been saved just in the nick of time by Archer of Black, who stood atop the highest point of the castle.
"Are you alright, uncle?"
His niece, Fiore, in her mechanical Mystic Code slowly descended from the interconnecting castle wall. An arm of her suit held a shield spell over them to protect them from any further stray shot.
She gave a sigh of relief once she was sure he was uninjured. "It's fortunate that Archer was able to make it just in time."
"W-What the hell is he doing?!" Gordes angrily stood back up. "I could've died there! Tell that stupid Servant of yours to stop slacking off!"
Fiore frowned. "I'm sorry, uncle. But while Archer is an amazing Servant, even he can't take care of every single arrow from two other Archer-class Servants."
Her statement was punctuated by another portion of the castle collapsing after another arrow had gone through just then. It was only thanks to Chiron that the castle remained standing.
"Damn it. I can't believe we're being pushed around like this."
If only they had listened to the priest, then perhaps they wouldn't have had to battle in their own doorstep. That was the lingering thought that wormed into Gordes' mind.
"But to think that he and his Servant would abandon us like this," he said with gritted teeth. "That's why I told Darnic that priest couldn't be trusted! We should never have joined hands with them in the first place!"
"Uncle, the only reason we're able to hold them back is because of the other Red Servants that are fighting together with our own Servants," said Fiore. Although, she too, had been anxious at the sudden disappearance of the priest and his Servant. "Please hold on just a bit longer."
And as if her prayers were answered, moments later, the rain of arrows ceased.
"Ha ha!" said Gordes. "Finally, someone took care of those blasted archers."
Once the Masters had gotten the chance to breathe for a minute, Darnic called for them to convene and discuss their plan to counterattack.
On top of the castle gates, he was seen waiting along with the Red Servant, William Shakespeare, who was busy holding on to a looking glass with one hand whilst scribbling furiously on his notes with his other. Darnic appeared unconcerned by this as he waited patiently for everyone to arrive.
"It appears their artillery has been halted for the moment."
Archer of Black had hopped down to join them.
"You're skills have proven to be quite invaluable, Archer," said Darnic. "Without you at our defense, we would have suffered a heavy blow."
In the background, Gordes could be heard mumbling in dissatisfaction.
"I do my best for my Master," bowed Archer.
Fiore smiled proudly at her Servant.
"And now that we have had a brief respite," said Darnic, looking at the rest of his clan members, "We shall all focus on dealing with Ruler's Servants. With how powerful her Servants are, she seems to believe that she can win this war through a direct assault."
"Seeing them fight, I'd probably agree with her," said Celenike.
"Do you think it might be due to her injuries?" suggested Berserker of Black's Master, Caules. "She may not have much time left. If so, this reaction is to be expected."
"We've already spent time speculating on Ruler's condition," said Archer of Black. "The result is our current situation. We must fight assuming that this battle may not end until one side has been eliminated completely."
It was a sobering statement. Most of them there had known the risks of the war, yet they had not been expecting it to possibly end all in one night. Given the number of Servants, they had assumed it would have been a protracted one.
"So be it," said Darnic with conviction. "But at the end, it is our family, the Yggdmillenia clan that will be left standing."
He ordered everyone to focus on supporting their Servants and to prepare for any more attacks on the castle.
"Well, that yet remains to be seen…"
No one heard Shakespeare's whisper as he continued to write about what's seen and unseen. He was left alone atop the gate, with a delighted smile plastered on his face the entire time he had stayed there.
The stone walls trembled intermittently, with dust falling from the cracks. Even from far away, Sisigou Kairi could feel the shaking of the earth from the battle of some of history's mightiest heroes. It seemed as if the path they were on could collapse at any time.
Still, he couldn't afford to think about it right now.
"You sure this is going to work?" he asked.
"The Holy Grail lies hidden underneath this castle," said Caster. "With a little bit of time, it can be safely turned over to our possession."
"If we can get there without being found out, you mean? This place is a minefield. It's hard to count just how many traps and detection spells have been made here. I was already expecting it since they've been preparing for this war for decades, but it's still a little hard for me to believe. These are some pretty expensive and nasty stuff they got here. They've put a lot of money into making sure no ordinary mages could get in here."
"Then it is fortunate that our Caster is no ordinary mage." Assassin smiled wryly. "Though I suppose time will be the most important factor here. Should our enemies realize that we've entered the heart of their sanctum, they will surely arrive in no time at all to stop us."
"As long as Berserker and the others keep them occupied, then we shouldn't have any problems," said Caster. "It doesn't matter if they die trying. Once we have the Holy Grail in our possession, this war shall be over."
She led them downward towards the depths, deeper through the labyrinthian stone passageways, only momentarily pausing from time to time to disarm whatever magecraft was present.
An eerie green glow had begun to appear on the passageway the deeper they went. Finally, the passageway opened up to a large cavern. In the cavern, was an underground lake that radiated a shimmering blue luminescence, reflecting a wondrous underwater effect on the walls and ceiling.
"That is…" Kairi stared in awe. "A lot bigger than I thought a grail would be."
"Yes, it would be rather difficult for one to drink from," agreed Assassin.
At the center of this place, floating over the water without anything holding it in place, was the Holy Grail. The miraculous artifact that can grant any wish. Far from it's supposed appearance as a chalice, it looked more like a completely spherical rock. Though a rock that emanated and hummed power in it's surroundings.
It almost seemed alive.
"Well then," Caster summoned her staff. "Shall I get started?"
Rider of Red jumped swiftly from tree to tree in the darkness of the forest. The low visibility mattered little to him. Darkness had taken many a life during his era, which is why his teacher had always made it a point to incorporate it in all of his students' training.
He stopped on a large branch, his body tense and ready to spring into action.
Achilles gazed at an opening in the canopy of trees.
There were no more arrows that trailed through the sky. As soon the enemy archers noticed his approach, they had halted their barrage on the castle. Instead, the two had split up from each other.
It didn't make much sense to him.
He was expecting to be outnumbered, with the archers being protected by another Servant or two. It wasn't an ideal situation, but he needed to do so in order to stop them from destroying the castle. As strong as he was, fighting more than two Servants at the same time would've been a little too much for him.
He raised a hand and caught the arrow aimed at his head. His gaze sharpened as he recognized it, thumbing over it's shaft carefully.
He turned his head in the direction it came from.
Atalanta's silhouette was visible, standing at the tip of a tree with the moon shining brightly just above her head. Her eyes gleamed like that of a feral animal watching it's prey.
"Sis." Achilles snapped the arrow in his hand.
He reacted quickly, making his way towards her without slowing down at all. However, as fast as he was, Atalanta was even faster. She'd move through the sprawling forest with ease, passing through as wind would on a clear meadow.
Achilles remembered the tales of his father regarding Atalanta's swiftness. She was among the fastest humans alive during their era. And having lived in forests for much of her life, she was practically uncatchable when inside of one.
Achilles cocked his head to the side, avoiding an arrow. A few more came from the darkness ahead of him as he moved, causing him to slow in his pursuit.
He also happened to remember that those who failed to win in a race against her faced certain death.
But Rider had already made his convictions the moment he'd seen her.
He sped up his pursuit. The arrows flew fast and true, hitting their marks. Rider stopped caring about them, though. Thanks to his gift of immortality in the form of his Noble Phantasm, the damage was nullified. He had no need to bother with them.
He was able to slowly close the distance between them. He could see her figure, always just a glimpse that threatened to vanish completely without a trace should he slow down for even just a single moment. However, it still proved difficult for him to pin her down with all the natural obstacles inside the forest.
And so, he'd also chosen to ignore those obstacles just as he did with the arrows.
"Dromeus Komētēs: Comet Form!"
His speed became unrivaled. He shot off in an instant, blasting through the terrain and leaving a devastating shockwave on his trail.
He had been reluctant to use it since it left his weakness—his heel—exposed during it's activation.
But his efforts had borne fruit. He'd caught Atalanta.
He held her by her wrists and pinned her to the trunk of an old tree, unable to free herself from his firm grip.
"Let's talk for a minute, Sis. Just you and me."
Still here. Just really busy with the whole pandemic thing and school. Updates will likely still be extremely slow.
P a treon. com (SLASH) tricknzwei
Nothing important on there. Just someplace I can get tips for appreciation. Anyway, hopefully I can get back into writing once my life is settled. Or if I win the lotto or something.