- Chapter 5 -
I want to begin by saying that the chapter 4's A/N section has been updated where I break down the easter eggs and answer some review queries so check it out if you haven't :)
Reina ran her fingers through her brother's dark, purplish hair gently - hair that looked and felt so much like her own. She then caressed his face gently, feeling the skin that was smooth, almost infantile on the right, but also the skin on the left that was horribly mangled and maimed by scar tissue.
Reina loved everything about him.
She loved his vulnerability, she loved his sensitivity, his insensitivity, she loved having his attention, she loved the way he touched her, above all, she loved how everyone in her life had told her it was forbidden love. But yes, anything forbidden always felt the sweetest, the most rewarding, the most cathartic, nothing else mattered in the world as long as it felt good. It felt good to love him, it felt good to be loved by him, it felt good when he kissed every inch of her body and it felt good every time he was inside her.
Nothing else in her life mattered.
Ryuuzaki started to stir in the four-poster bed and Reina immediately began to adjust her hair.
"Reina... W-Whats th- time," slurred Ryuuzaki.
His hands blindly reaching for bedside he expected his clock to be, only to find that it was empty.
Reina had personally seen to it that the racketing mechanical nuisance would never interrupt her precious brother's sleep.
"Onii-chan, there's still time," lied Reina. "You should get some sleep. Go back to - "
However it took Ryuuzaki only one look at the golden sunbeams shining into Reina's room for him to tell that it was almost noon.
Ryuuzaki threw the bed sheets aside and pulled on his clothes.
"Reina, I told you - never mind," sighed Ryuuzaki. "Where's my mask?"
"You don't need it," replied Reina spitefully. "You can't hide behind it forever."
She despised how Ryuuzaki-nii ever needed to conceal his scars. Why couldn't everyone else see him for who he was? Why did they flinch when they laid eyes on his face? Why should he ever need to hide?
Reina always seemed to arrive back at the same answer. They don't deserve him. Nobody else does. But me. If they can't see him for who he was at his worst, they don't deserve him at his best.
And until very recently she was powerless to change that, but now Reina held power beyond compare, she knew what the perfect judgment was for Rin... And the rest of the world.
"You've taken it off in front of that girl before. I know abou- "
"That girl saved your life," corrected Ryuuzaki.
No she didn't, thought Reina. The kill switch was indirectly Reina's own idea, but there was no need for Ryuuzaki-nii to know that. For days she fanned the flames of Lord Auteur's increasing fear of the inevitable day that his magically gifted disciples turned against him and she got him paranoid enough to act on it. She then exploited that fear so that her brother would spend every waking moment with her, worrying for her health, caring for her, showering her with gifts, feeding her at every meal.
But that all changed when she showed up. That girl. That girl that who now wore Reina's clothes and was spending time with her brother. Tohsaka Rin.
Just the thought of Rin was enough for Reina's heart to sting as though that girl had run a dagger through it.
"Screw. I don't have time for this, I'll get one on the way. I'm leaving, Reina," said Ryuuzaki.
Ryuuzaki headed for the red door, visibly annoyed by their conversation, a sight that made Reina's heart sink even lower.
"Onii-chan... When will you come back to Reina - "
The red door slammed shut behind him and Reina never got her answer.
Reina wrapped herself in a loose bathrobe and stood by the window, her amber eyes scanning the courtyard frantically. She always did this when Ryuuzaki-nii left the mansion. She wanted her eyes on him at every possible second. She would wave him goodbye from the window and he would wave right back with that smile on his face. She lived to see his smiles, there was no other purpose in her life.
But today, that girl was waiting for him at the Pleiades courtyard. Dressed a tight, long-sleeved red shirt pulled over her dangerously short pleated black skirt that matched her pair of thigh-highs, Reina was beyond certain that it was a calculated attempt at showing off her delicious skin between her skirt and socks. Even Reina was forced to admit that Rin was a beautiful girl, not only was she far prettier than herself, but curvier and taller than Reina could ever hope to be. But what made her blood boil was the way Ryuuzaki-nii was talking to her and was smiling at her. And when he left the mansion wuthout to waving goodbye to Reina today, something delicate snapped inside her.
Hate. Anger. Jealousy. Rage. Fear. And then more rage. Reina clenched her fists so hard her nails drew blood from her palm and they started to shake uncontrollably. Tohsaka Rin needed to stop existing in the world.
Lovely isn't she, Master? spoke the deep, rumbling voice inside her head.
Yes she is... For a girl who's spending her last days on this world -
What are you waiting for... How long more must you continue suffer? Just say the words... Say the words and she will be ashes... Say the words and spare yourself all that pain, growled the voice, this time growing hungrier.
Patience, my Servant... Patience. Your time will come.
Don't resist it, Master. Don't try to hold it back. I can feel your hate. I can smell your anger. I can taste the bitterness of the bile rising in your throat! boomed the voice in her head.
Reina stared into the window pane, but she didn't just see her reflection staring back at her through the glass. There was something else.
A massive, winged serpent loomed close behind her. The black beast had a set of majestic, helical horns. It had a long neck that ended in an ugly snout packed with rows of yellowing, razor-sharp teeth. It was covered in thick black scales, more tough and more resilient than any blade or armour made by man. And then a pair of terrible, glowing emerald eyes that burned like the fires that lit the furnaces of the dragon's belly.
Unchain me. Release me from my shackles. Set me upon the world, my Master -
Reina smiled back at Fafnir and finished the Wicked Dragon's sentence.
And they shall BURN.
A flash of red caught Shirou's eye. A brief shimmer in a sea of people, but it was unmistakable. A triangular ruby strung at the end of a necklace. The necklace that belonged to the girl that saved his life ten years ago.
"Rin!" shouted Shirou.
He heaved and shoved his way through the crowd, gradually inching his way towards the end of the bus terminal. When Shirou finally broke through the crowd so that he could finally draw breath, he saw the boy that had Rin's necklace around his neck board a double-decked bus. A boy who had his face concealed behind a kabuki mask.
Shirou broke into a run, hot in pursuit after the boy.
Master! came Saber's voice through his head. Something's not right. What if it's a trap? Alli-chan isn't here today to cover -
We'll handle it when it happens. That's the first lead we have on Rin in months. I am not letting it get away! thought Shirou.
Shirou boarded the bus only to find that it was conspicuously empty. The bus wasn't even manned by a driver.
Without warning, the doors slammed shut and Rin's ruby necklace hurtled towards him with the speed of a bullet, but Shirou swiped it out of the air deftly and grasped it in his hand.
The boy in the black hoodie and kabuki mask was seated at the far end of the bus. He simply pointed enigmatically at the stairs to the second floor. Shirou cursed under his breath when he saw the Command Seals at the back of his hand, a glowing red dragon - this boy was a Master.
Before Shirou could yell 'Trace on!' to fend for himself, a shimmer of red and blue starlight filled the space in front of Shirou as Saber materialized with her wakizashi drawn. In the tight confines of the bus, arming herself with the shorter wakizashi made sense as it ensured that the length of her sword was not obstructed by her environment.
In the sweltering tropical summer of Academy Island, Saber chose to switch up her kimono for a sleeveless red shirt pulled over a pair of denim jeans and sneakers. To fend off the merciless sun, she wore a scarlet baseball cap over her head and let her pink ponytail fan out gracefully from behind the cap.
"This is bad, Master. There's a powerful bounded field around us that's keeping civilians out," whispered Saber.
Keeping the civilians out? This boy just gave up his biggest bargaining chip by not dragging innocent civilians into this mess. That made sense only if this boy wanted to ensure there were no witnesses or interference, these were the rules of the Magi from the Mage's Association abide by. But this made no sense now that he was trapped together with Saber. Even if it was his intention to start a fight here with his Servant, he would be up against Saber, who was arguably the strongest Servant class of the seven without any backup. This boy's illogical actions made absolutely no sense to Shirou.
"Well then. It's not nice to keep a lady waiting," began the boy, his voice distorted by the mask. "Emiya Shirou."
The engine roared to life and the bus jerked as it left the terminal.
"Where the hell are you taking us?" demanded Shirou.
"The same place you are going," replied Ryuuzaki. "National University tomorrow at noon. Sound familiar?"
Shirou's brains became tangled in an ugly mess. How did this boy overhear his conversation with Crystal? The exact words no less.
The boy raised his right hand and there was a shimmer of silver starlight as Rider materialized in front of Saber. The dragon knight had lost the tanned colouring of his skin - his Noble Phantasm, the Armour of Fafnir that granted the knight a powerful protection against all kinds of attacks. Shirou deduced that it must have been the cost of calling forth the dragon, Fafnir the night before.
"Like I said, it's not nice to keep the lady waiting Shirou," repeated Ryuuzaki. "She's... Got quite the temper."
Lady... Got quite the temper. Only one lady came to mind, yet there was only one way to confirm it.
"Go, Master," said Saber, keeping her blade pointed at the masked boy. "I'll see to it that our Onmyouji-kun over here stays exactly where he is."
Shirou nodded and ran up the stairs to the second deck.
- 0 - 0 - 0 -
Sitting with her arms folded and her legs crossed, the girl in red and black had her aqua eyes fixed upon the metropolitan scenery of Academy Island outside, completely oblivious to Shirou's arrival.
Yet there was no mistaking the girl. He knew from experience there was only one route to redemption for Emiya Shirou. He had to confess his sins and beg for forgiveness.
"Rin..." began Shirou. "I'm sorr - "
Rin slapped him across his face before he had the chance to finish his sentence.
"Idiot," said Rin. Beads of shimmering light gathered around her eyes.
"Yes, I'm an idiot," sighed Shirou. "I shouldn't have - "
Another slap found its way across his face. Both sides of Shirou's cheeks now burned with shame.
Shirou held out the ruby necklace and offered it to Rin. The necklace that saved his life all those years ago.
"I don't expect you to forgive me," said Shirou. "I'm just so glad that you're - "
Rin raised her shivering hand a third time and Shirou braced himself for another round of abuse but the blow never came.
Instead, Shirou felt a pair of hands wrap themselves around his body so tightly he began to choke as he drew breath. And then the hugging turned into the barrage of enraged pounding of Rin's fists on his chest.
"Idiot, idiot, idiot, idiot, idiot!" screamed Rin.
When she finally let out her months of pent up anger, she slackened her grip and smiled at Shirou.
"I'm... I'm just so happy- w-what am I saying? D-Don't think I've forgiven you yet, Shirou," stuttered Rin. "One letter isn't going to fix everything - "
"Wait a minute, Rin..." interrupted Shirou with his eyes widening in disbelief. "What letter?"
Rin looked equally shocked at Shirou's response. Instinctively, she raised her hand to slap Shirou again but this time he caught her by her hand.
"The letter, Shirou. The letter you wrote to me," repeated Rin. " 'National University tomorrow at noon.', what kind of sick prank - "
"I... I didn't write any letter," replied Shirou, his eyes darted around trying to make sense of all this.
There was it again. National University at noon. How did so many people know about his private conversation with Crystal? Even Rin knew about it, which only confirmed his theory... It wasn't private. Whatever it was, somebody wanted to make sure that they were at the University at noon today and so far their plan was working.
The bus jerked again, but this time came to a halt and Shirou bolted for the stairs.
"So that's it huh," Rin shouted at Shirou. "That's how we're going to do things, aren't we? When the going gets tough you leave - "
"It's our stop Rin," sighed Shirou. "We're getting off here."
The National University a bustling, technological marvel. A city within a city, the zenith of all things academic in Asia.
The disparity in infrastructure between the pinnacle of research for science and the headquarters of research for magecraft couldn't have been wider. Every building had a futuristic, hexagonal tessellation to their architecture that made a technophobe like Rin frown her eyes in disgust. A far cry from the wooden, handcrafted Victorian structures that were prevalent at the Clock Tower.
Everything on campus was powered by renewable solar energy. The University capitalized on the eternal tropical summer that Academy Island experienced to harness a near endless supply of solar power. As such atop every one of its sparkling, silver dome-shaped buildings was an incredible array of solar panels.
Despite Rin vouching for the masked boy, Shirou saw fit to leave Saber with him on the bus. At best it meant learning something new about this Holy Grail War, at this point, any information would be crucial. At worst it meant the consumption of his second Command Seal to call Saber in if Crystal decided to betray him.
"Puts the 'Academy' in Academy Island doesn't it?" came a voice behind Shirou.
Shirou and Rin wheeled around to face a girl with short, flame-coloured hair. She had a lithe, athletic body and was dressed in white tank top pulled over her ripped denim shorts and wore a pair of brown knee-high boots.
"Ya-hallow," teased Crystal. She narrowed her eyes in dismay at the sight of Rin. "I was hoping that you'd come alone, Shirou-kun. I didn't expect you to come along, Miss... Whichamacallit - "
"Tohsaka," replied Rin, not even bothering to conceal her anger that Crystal had already begun calling Shirou by his first name.
"Well then, this way Miss Tohsaka," said Crystal, swiftly changing the topic. "The Faculty of Ar - "
"Yes yes, the Faculty of Archaeology," interrupted Rin as she stormed past both Shirou and Crystal. "I know my way around here, thank you very much. We're in a Holy Grail War, there's no way we're going to visit the Faculty of Economics are we?"
Crystal shrugged her shoulders at Shirou and followed closely behind Rin.
"Before we begin," Crystal said to Shirou. "Shirou, did you bring the Grail?"
"Yeah well about that..." said Shirou. "Allison threw it into the Southern Bay."
Rin skidded to a halt upon hearing Shirou's words.
"Allison. Another girl? Are you serious, Shirou?!" Rin lashed out.
Rin buried her face in her palm and shook her head. She let out a long, laboured sigh before continuing, her voice muffled between her fingers.
"The Grail... It's a fake. I saw Auteur Pleiades test it with the Azoth blade last night. My father's blade."
"Wait that's impossible," protested Shirou. "I felt its presence at the harbour. Its mana signature was on the level of a Noble Phantasm. It can't possibly be a fake - "
"I'm telling you Emiya-kun, I SAW it burn. It's a fake. Are you doubting me - "
"I am not doubting you - "
"Yes you are. You're doubting me right now. AGAIN. Just like you did in - "
Crystal coughed an awkward, uncomfortable cough that drew the ire of both Shirou and Rin.
"Are you two lovebirds done?" scoffed Crystal.
"We are NOT lovebirds," yelled the couple together.
"Whatever. Both of you are right. Miss Tohsaka is right, the Grail is a fake. But what you felt at the harbour was a powerful Noble Phantasm too, Shirou."
"What?" cried both Shirou and Rin in unison.
"It's like I told you, this isn't something I can tell you. It's something I need to show you." replied Crystal.
Shirou and Rin had been so engrossed in their argument, neither of them noticed the massive wooden double doors that towered to the ceiling in front of them.
Crystal wore a mischievous grin on her face. Caster's Master tapped her card-key on the security scanner and the locks restraining the double doors parted.
Allison emptied her glass of whiskey then drew a deep breath from her cigarette.
"Dragon Smoke," came a pompous, arrogant voice from behind her. "Curiously rare stuff. Only one crate of those things exist in the world. Maybe because they taste so bad."
Allison didn't bother to turn around. She could make out his identity simply from the man's mana signature - an EX-ranked mana stat that only one Servant possessed in this Grail War.
"What do you want Caster?"
Allison's fingers reached for the walnut handle of the Thompson Contender holstered at her thigh.
"You can keep that silly toy away dolly, I'm just here for a round of drinks and a little chat," said Caster, taking the seat by the bar counter beside Allison. "Didn't think the Collector would be into consumables like cigarettes."
"Piss off," spat Allison.
"Why so hostile?" chuckled Caster.
A burly unshaven bartender, who looked like he could snap Caster's neck with just his heavily tattooed fingers stepped forward.
"Ye gonna order summin' or wha?" boomed the bartender. "Alice, dis' here man givin' ye any trubble?"
The Heroic Spirit of Sorcery started to fumble over a bunch of crumpled purple dollar bills from the sleeves of his white robe.
"Those are twos. Congratulations the green one's a five," scoffed Allison with glee, it was her turn to gloat. "You won't be able to afford anything with that here. Why, your Master didn't give you enough pocket change?"
"Crystal is a college student," shrugged Caster helplessly.
Allison smirked, then she waved at the bartender and he nodded.
"Keep your damned bills, don't embarrass yourself more than you already have," remarked Allison. "I know the bartender. He's getting you a martini."
The bartender placed a triangular cocktail glass half-filled with frosted, colourless liquid, garnished simply with a single olive impaled by a toothpick in front of Caster.
"So what is the White Reaper doing in a bar eight hundred meters away from the Pleiades mansion?" asked Caster.
Annoyed at such a rhetorical question that seemed to answer itself, Allison decided to answer with a question of her own.
"What is the greatest strategist in the Three Kingdoms doing in a bar two kilometers away from his Master?" asked Allison in return.
Caster smirked. The Heroic Spirit looked genuinely amused by Allison. He took a sip of martini and then spoke.
"You got spunk, I like that, dolly. I'll be honest with you," said Caster. "You see I'm having trust issues with my Master. Command Seal kind of trust issues. Alcohol solves problems like these doesn't it?"
A Command Seal? thought Allison. But what could Crystal possibly have forced Caster into doing? How strained was their relationship? It would be a massive advantage if she could tear their Master-Servant bond apart from the inside.
"Your turn to talk now."
"I'm here to take back what's mine," said Allison coolly. She waved to the bartender for another whiskey. "The Holy Gra - "
Caster let out a hearty laugh that annoyed Allison so much she considered putting one of her six remaining Origin Bullets through the Servant's thick skull that instant. If only he didn't have the knowledge that she wanted.
"Dolly, you do know that it's a fake don't you?" laughed Caster. "You see, my talents aren't just limited to strategy and creating winds."
A fake, thought Allison. The only way Caster would know for sure that it's a fake was if he was the one who put it there in the first place. With the Clairvoyance of a Master, she scanned through his parameters and saw that Caster's class skill, Item Construction was EX-ranked.
But there was more to just a maxed out parameter. The reason Caster was even anywhere near the fake Grail he constructed had to be because he could track the whereabouts of his creations. Which meant that for the whole of last night, Caster had the at least four Masters and seven Servants going around chasing a fake chalice, risking their lives for an outcome that didn't matter in the grand scheme of things. This man was a step ahead the whole time, a master of strategy indeed.
Caster tapped his glass against Allison's and took another long sip of martini.
"What's the purpose of this chat?" said Allison. "You looking for a Master with deeper pockets?"
Caster took a glance at the gleaming silver BMW i8 outside the bar.
"I'm looking for a Master with more logic. Someone without the emotional baggage of revenge. Someone who's not a child." said Caster. "Auteur Pleiades will soon be calling for a temporary alliance with all the Masters. The thought of a wild dragon flying around is simply too much for him - "
"The dragon is gone," snapped Allison. "Vanished."
"Dragons don't go away like that dolly," said Caster. "Only Servants do. As I was saying before I was rudely interrupted, Auteur will be calling for a ceasefire, and this alliance will be endorsed by the Church. The real owners of that sweet ride out there. Yes, you aren't the only ones working with the Church."
Just as Caster predicted, a pigeon barged into the bar and dropped an envelope with the wax seal of the Holy Church onto Allison's lap.
"What I can't figure out is... Why would the White Reaper give up a perfectly good opportunity to remove three of four Masters from this Grail War toda - "
"What the hell are you talking about?" growled Allison.
Caster emptied the last bit of martini and smiled at Allison.
"Come on now, dolly. We both know the name of the game," remarked Caster. "The most practical way for a Master of Assassin to win is by removing all other Masters from the Grail War. Your alliance gave you a reason to get close to people, but now it's just you and me. You can drop the act. Tell me... What are you after?"
Allison drew the Thompson Contender from its holster and buried its black barrel between Caster's eyes.
Caster closed his eyes and ran his finger along the length of the Contender's black barrel. When he opened his eyes again, the Servant simply smiled. An enigmatic smile that made even the cold, murderous blood of an assassin like Allison curdle. An uneasy thought lingered at the back of her mind, what did he see?
"Ah, I see what this is about..." smirked Caster. "Your wish ends in absolute malevolence... Not that it's any of my business, but I can help you get what you want."
Allison lowered the break-action pistol and gave Caster her full attention.
"I take that's a 'yes'?" chuckled Caster.
"It's not a yes. But I am interested," frowned Allison, her crimson eyes glowed hungrily as she spoke now. "Keep talking."
"Saber, put down your sword. We're all on the same side. For now," said Rider.
"Hehh I'll lower my sword when you tell your Master to take off his mask," demanded Saber. "I don't trust anyone whose face I cannot see."
"You've taken your insults too far this time, Saber...!" growled Rider.
Ryuuzaki held up his hand and Rider backed down.
"It's fine, Rider," said Ryuuzaki in his muffled voice. "Reina was right. I can't hide behind a mask forever. Right now we need Saber's trust more than I need my dignity."
Ryuuzaki pulled the kabuki mask off his head to reveal the horrible scarring the boy suffered as a child on the left of his face and the empty socket of his eye that was stitched together to seal it shut.
"Glass. Not ordinary glass, but enchanted volcanic glass," said Ryuuzaki. "Obsidian. Burned the flesh right off my face when I was five. Are you willing to talk now, Saber?"
Saber lowered her sword slowly.
"Saber," began Rider. "As you know the dragon, Fafnir is on the loose - "
"That's your fault, Rider. Don't drag the rest of us into this. I've got a war to win," said Saber dismissively.
"Nobody wins this war if the leylines to the Greater Grail are destroyed, Saber," warned Rider. "Fafnir's dragon fire. It's one of the most destructive forces - you saw what it did to the harbour last night. We can resume our battle after we have dealt with the dragon."
The heavy double doors parted to reveal the massive hallway of the Faculty of Archaeology.
Home to over thousands of years' worth of mankind's history, a whole host of priceless historical artifacts were archived and displayed at the University's museum for the world to rediscover humanity's past. Artifacts, porcelain and limestone statues, ancient papyrus scrolls but one section caught Shirou's eye more than all the others combined - the armoury.
The University had on display an impressive collection of legendary weapons, some were broken shards that resembled the makings of a sword, but surprisingly most of the relics had been restored to their functionality as weapons, as Noble Phantasms. But the exhibit in particular that made Shirou's eyes pop were encased behind glass. A pair of falchions - one dark as night, the other white as snow. Kanshou and Bakuya.
"Artifacts from all around the world," began Crystal. "Sent to the National University to test for their authenticity. Radioactive dating, carbon dating, analysis of historical anecdotes all that good stuff. What is interesting to point out, is that in the last six months, twelve Greek relics were bought from the Faculty at an incredibly generous price - "
"By Auteur Pleiades," finished Rin, her eyes scanning the floor, deep in thought. "That makes no sense. Why twelve relics? Only one Catalyst is ever needed to summon a Servant."
"Eleven relics to hide the one Catalyst he used to summon Archer?" asked Shirou. "But which one did he use?"
"Doesn't matter which was the one," said Crystal. "Shirou, do you remember what happened when Caster fired Archer's arrow back at him?"
"His Master... called him back with a Command Seal," muttered Shirou, trying to recall the events at the harbour. "If so powerful was his Servant, why would he call for a retreat?"
"Because he had no choice," answered Crystal with a grin on her face.
From the pocket of her ripped denim shorts she pulled out a tiny glass vial that contained a glowing green substance.
"Caster and I got this off the tip of one Archer's arrows," said Crystal. "A little tinkering around the lab revealed that it is the Blood of the Lernaean Hydra - "
"Heracles!" shouted Rin and Shirou together.
"Alcides to be exact," corrected Crystal. "Twelve Catalysts, one for each of the hero's Twelve Labours. Alcides died when he put on a tunic stained with the Hydra's blood and was later apotheosized by Zeus. Venom of the Hydra, so poisonous that it killed Alcides and forced Chiron to give up his immortality. That vial there is easily one of the most potent weapons this Grail War."
Shirou cursed. Heracles-no, Alcides had been summoned for the second time in a row. In the Fifth Holy Grail War, the hero had his sanity taken from him in exchange for a boost across his already powerful parameters as Berserker. But as Archer, arguably the hero's most fitting class as a Servant, the strength and synergy between all twelve of his Noble Phantasms would be dialed up to eleven.
"This is even more one-sided than I expected," said Rin. "He's got the most powerful Servant and if this continues, he's going to win the Grail War. That thing, the Greater Grail... It's corrupted, we can't let him - "
"Calm down Miss Tohsaka," said Crystal. "Archer's identity wasn't the only thing we discovered. As one of twelve lords at the Mage's Association, I'm sure Auteur knew about the corruption of the Grail and has devised a plan to tackle it. Herein lies his answer."
Crystal led them to an exhibit protected behind layer upon layer of bounded fields. Judging by the powerful invisible air current that guarded the outer-most layer, Shirou could tell that the shields were set up by Caster. All this for a single, broken artifact. There was more to it than meets the eye.
The relic was what appeared to be the tip of a bident, but it had its two prongs so close together it appeared to be the blade of a spear when seen from afar. The relic was bound by a grey amulet marked by hieroglyphs, from the complete lack of mana emission, Shirou deduced that the amulet not only sealed away its properties as a Noble Phantasm, but also prevented Shirou's Tracing ability from analyzing it. Was this what he felt the night at the harbour?
"The Lance of Longinus," said Crystal. "The Holy Lance, The Spear of Destiny. The blade of the lance that pierced the side of Christ as he hung from the cross. An artifact itself has performed miraculous feats throughout history. Every single wielder of the Lance has used it to win seemingly unwinnable wars. I've been working on restoring the Lance back to its full strength as a Noble Phantasm like all the weapons you see out there, we need your help here, Emiya Shirou. Since the legend and fame of the artifact determines its power as a Noble Phantasm - "
"With a Noble Phantasm of this caliber, Auteur Pleiades will be able to stabilize the Greater Grail," finished Rin.
The fluttering of wings interrupted Rin. A pair of pigeons flew towards Shirou and Crystal, dropping both Masters an envelope sealed with the wax seal of the Holy Church. As Crystal ripped open the envelope, Rin saw the three Command Seals at the back of her hand that bore an uncanny resemblance to Shirou's - a sword.
"You're a... Master?" asked Rin indignantly, bewildered that the Grail had chosen her as Master instead of a descendant of the Three Founding Families. How strong was this girl's conviction to take part in this war for that to happen? How unstable had the Greater Grail become?
"Yeah," nodded Crystal. "I'm the Master of Caster."
"Crystal, am I reading this right?" asked Shirou, waving the letter in his hand. "We're all going to - "
"Guess we're all on the same side till we slay that dragon huh?" grinned Crystal, brandishing her letter that had the exact same writing as Shirou's.
The flame-haired girl extended her hand to Shirou and he shook it.
Bertrand Paulsen crushed the letter from the Holy Church and threw it into the fire. The Enforcer watched every last scrap of parchment curl and burn in the flickering flames with a renewed lease on his madness.
An alliance with the White Reaper - the woman who murdered his wife and then burned her body? Never. The Overseer might as well have pissed on her grave. For that, he was going to make Father Urban pay for his insolence with his life.
Then another thought surfaced. Now that the other six Servants and Masters assumed that they were all working together to take down Fafnir the Wicked Dragon, it was the perfect chance for him to launch an unsuspecting attack on the White Reaper and avenge his wife.
He potentially had to deal with both Saber and Assassin, but Berserker was one of if not the strongest Servant this Grail War.
Berserker's true identity was Guan Yu, one of the most famed warriors from the Three Kingdoms. Aside from Caster who was Berserker's commander and war strategist in life, the infamous Zhuge Liang must have deduced not just Berserker's identity, but the identities of all the other Servants. But this knowledge mattered little to Berserker. Here, the Mad Warrior received a double boost from Mad Enhancement and a geographical boost across all his parameters due to the citizens of Academy Island who deified Guan Yu for his famed bravery in the War of the Three Kingdoms. With his immense power, Berserker was able to single-handedly take on Archer, Lancer and Rider during Bertrand's rebellion against the Mage's Association.
Bertrand adjusted his black top hat and took one last glance at the blueprints of the Pinnacle.
"Tonight..." breathed the Enforcer. "Tonight you will pay for your sins, Number Thirteen."
Ok, this chapter took way longer to finish than expected. As you guys can tell, it's heavy on exposition and it reads off like a movie's script considering how much dialogue happens in this chapter. As such, this chapter was extremely challenging to get right by me without immediately getting bored of reading it through myself. I dislike exposition myself and would love to cut it out, but this set up was absolutely necessary moving forward as the pressure starts to pile on our heroes and threats are building at every corner.
Easter eggs. First on the list, Dragon Smoke. The pack of incredibly rare, priceless cigarettes that both Aozaki Touko and Kairi Sisigou smoke in canon, which now includes Allison in this fic. Next, the Lance of Longinus. This is for all you Evangelion fans out there, yes it is going to be a bident sort of. This is the REAL Lance of Longinus and there will be minor spoilers moving forward for those of you who know about the history of the Lance, but yes it is a very powerful artifact. The amulet around the Lance is a reference to the wrappings that Lancer in F/Z used to conceal Gáe Dearg and Gáe Buidhe.
As usual, I will respond to the comments here in the A/N section unless it is very pressing, in which I will respond by writing it in the review section as I did for chapter 4.
Hope you guys enjoyed this chapter and are looking forward to the next :)
*Update* Answering the guest comment: About the arrow and Alcides' Pelt. My understanding is this - the Pelt would stop the arrow, afterall it is made by man even if it came from Alcides himself. But don't forget the arrow is laced with the blood of the Hydra and having been killed by the Hydra's blood in his lifetime, such an attack would be crippling if not straight out fatal. As for why not just steal all the other NPs, I would like to point out that Archer was only against Saber and Caster. Saber has four swords for him to choose from, and Caster's true NP is his intellect that resulted in his legend of collecting arrows at Red Cliff, Alcides wouldn't be able to wield Zhuge Liang's intelligence to the same degree, hence there wouldn't be much point in stealing those. Also remember that Rider and Lancer were allies even if they had useful NPs to steal, and Assassin wasn't even anywhere near the main battlefield.
ZeroZen: I'm working on the Servant sheet it's going to be on my profile when I'm done with it :)