EDIT: I am the happiest editor right now since I am able to announce that every chapter in this story has been edited as of today,
Also welcome to Berix's editing corner, where I throw whatever random thoughts I have/had while editing.
So uh... This is my first time writing a fan fiction so any suggestions are welcomed. The plan for this is to go through the time before Fate/Zero with... Certain changes, and then carry on into Fate/Stay Night. I hope you all like it!
The full moon shone through the clouds above. Snow gently fell to the already blanketed forest floor, and the pallid light of the moon made the snow glitter as if it were crushed gemstones. An eerie silence hung in the air, something which almost clung to the skin and threatened to suffocate - although, that may have just been the surrounding magical barrier.
Above the trees, through the snow, the silhouette of a grand castle loomed - cold, impersonal stone walls and chilly blue slate peaks. Although opulent and of wonderful architecture, it radiated something of a heartless origin. A large arched window was illuminated with flickering yellow light. A candle, revealing someone was at work within. Inside: A man, or what could be called a man, with neck length gray hair and a beard split at the chin, laboured over some sort of journal. It was not hard to determine that this man was the source of the impressive magical barrier surrounding the castle.
Through the window of the next floor, a couple slept together within a luxurious bed. One, a beautiful ivory-skinned European woman with hair as white as the falling snow outside. The other, a dark-haired, sharp-featured Asian man. In terms of appearances, they could not be any more different. The only similarity they had would be that of the moonlight gracing their forms. Breaking the silence of the night, the man uncoiled himself from his lover and continued sleeping on his back, face twisted in an indescribable blend of emotions.
Within his mind, a dream, a nightmare.
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Blood trickled from the corners of his mouth. Ribs that had been shattered were forming into solid pieces automatically, same as his spine. His entire body boiled to the point of absently steaming in the cool air of the room. His heart pained with each beat as if it was brand new and adjusting to the effort imposed upon it. Stubbornly he stood, still holding his Thompson Contender upright. The barrel was smoking, although he didn't remember firing it. Even without context for how he had arrived at this point, he knew the man standing ahead of him was the cause for this pain. Messy uncombed brown hair, cold dark eyes - one of which was bloodshot - and a crucifix. At least this battle wasn't one-sided. The priest had blood trickling from above his left eye and his right arm from hand to elbow had been destroyed by a bullet. Only now did he notice how much breathing caused him pain. So this priest was the origin for such severe injury?
Only after asking this question did the dark-haired man notice the state of himself. Rather, not the 'himself' who was fighting this priest, but the 'himself' who was viewing this battle. He wasn't real. He was a spirit, an onlooker, viewing this fight from the sidelines. He could not directly act but could watch and feel. This was why the feeling of fear radiating off his physical copy came as a surprise. The priest gasped as a black blur was suddenly upon him. The Thompson Contender was held by its warm barrel, blunt handle coming down to strike the priest's head. With quick thinking, the holy man's disabled arm was brought to block the strike. Through a grimace and groan of pain, the blow was halted but only for a brief moment. His body bent backwards to avoid a knife blade aimed for his face. The second strike was deflected by a push to the physical copy's elbow, forcing the blade high. In a pivot, their positions were rotated and a flurry of knife strikes were rained down. Each one was deflected by a single controlled movement of the hand. The spirit watched their physical copy's face strain with... Rage. It was not stress from keeping up the attack, but anger that the priest was winning. The priest kicked out the dark-haired man's foot and reared back a fist to strike. His victory was assured until a movement faster than humanly possible left the physical copy's head grazing below the priest's fist. The spectator recognized the technique as the Emiya crest magic. Emiya, the dark-haired man, kicked off the priest and threw the blade in his hand during the same motion. It found purchase by embedding itself in the priest's lower right leg. With some distance between the two, Emiya reloaded the Contender. Leveling the weapon, he found four long blades - black keys - arcing towards him, two to each side. Ahead was the priest with a fist full of four more lunging directly forward. The finger around the trigger tightened and…
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With a gasp, he sat upright in bed. Sweat beading down his forehead and his hands clenching so tight his fingers broke the skin of his palms. He shivered, and for some reason, he couldn't rid himself of a nervous jitter. He knew it had all been a nightmare, but that feeling of fear refused to remove itself. Even with one arm that priest had defended himself against him moving at double speed. Were his close combat skills outmatched that greatly?
"Kirei Kotomine." The dark haired man, Emiya, whispered to the still air of his room. Before warm, smooth arms wrapped around his shoulders he hardly noticed how cold the room was. Tentatively, he placed his own hand on the arm of his lover. The nervous jitters faltered as her warmth spread through his cold skin.
"Who is Kirei Kotomine?" a soft voice asked into his ear. With a turn of his head, he met unnatural crimson eyes and a wide, sleepy smile. Those lips suddenly came forward to capture his surprised mouth, finally snapping him from his daze.
He blinked several times, features softening as he realized where he was. "I…I don't know, but I believe…" He paused once more, considering if he should tell his lover where his thoughts roamed. That priest would kill him in that fight, that much Emiya could tell from the dream. If nothing else, they would kill each other in the same strike. But should his wife, Iri, carry that burden? "I believe he is the man who kills me," Emiya finished, deciding his, and the world's, Fate.
Initially surprised, Iri's features suddenly split into a soft smile. "Kiritsugu, it was just a dream. I know you won't die in the war, you can't," she stated, words soft but carrying with them an unyielding faith to her spouse. The dark-haired man, Kiritsugu, chuckled wearily, turning back to peer into the darkness of the room.
"Iri, something about that dream was… It was no ordinary dream. It showed me the end of the Grail War, or the end of my Grail War. I need to prepare." He muttered the last part, gently removing Iri's arm before standing from the bed and moving to put some pants on. Even though she would sleep alone, she understood that Kiritsugu worked in his own way and that allowing him to leave would be the best thing for him. As such, she wouldn't complain. She watched him dress, light a cigarette and silently move out of the room. When the door clicked shut, she sighed and returned to lying down.
"You can't die, for then our dream will never become reality," she muttered through a frown to the darkness before returning to her own dreams.
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The room was filled with a light haze of cigarette smoke. During his time at the Einzbern castle he had stopped smoking in consideration of his wife and daughter, but after that dream… The stress and anxiety was too great and he needed the reprieve. He had been up all night reaching out to contacts. The only goal was to find out about this Kirei Kotomine before the Grail War actually started. Hell, he had to summon his own servant. He could only hope King Arthur wouldn't attempt to murder him for his tactics, would the honourable King of Knights allow the ends to justify the means? That was why he wanted Iri to accompany his servant. Two stubborn men with antithetical views on how to conduct themselves were bound to cause trouble. He took a long drag on his cigarette and stared absently at the landline.
But that would be years from now. The Grail War was believed to start in 1995. It was only 1991, albeit December; he still had four years. Four years to learn about his death - about Kirei Kotomine. That dream had shaken him more than he was comfortable to admit. The fear he had felt whilst gazing into that priest's eyes was unnerving. Something in his mind told him that the priest was the embodiment of what he wanted to stop with his wish. Earlier in the year, he had sent out calls to discover potential members of the Grail War. Dossiers would be compiled when the information was gathered. Most of the candidates hadn't even been selected by the grail yet but it was good to keep a lookout. However, this man, the priest, became a priority. Kiritsugu reached far back in his black book to pull out more contacts. If the priest went to the bathroom, the time and the action would be recorded. If that dream had been the result of his normal preparation, Kiritsugu would only have to prepare more to avoid the scenario completely, or simply target the priest before… But then could that dream be the result of a hasty attempt at assassination? He needed more information, more context. He couldn't kill the priest too early, as then the grail would select another master. The unknown could be far worse than what he was already dealing with. But waiting may be the wrong choice. His mind started doubting itself; where to begin? At what point would the hypotheticals end? As he was losing his composure, the phone rang and it almost teleported into his hand.
The voice on the other line was dead. Emotionless just like Emiya himself, it didn't wait for a greeting. "Kirei Kotomine, twenty-four years old, executor and member of the Assembly of the Eighth Sacrament. Attended the St. Ignatius school of Divinity Manresa, skipped two years, returned to graduate as valedictorian and suddenly left the seminary. This abandonment seems to be a trend, more details in the dossier. His father is Risei Kotomine, Overseer of the Third Grail War and potential Overseer of this coming Grail War. No command seals. I'll compile the info and send it when I can. Hopefully, that will sate your appetite," the man on the other end recited before disconnecting the call without waiting for a response.
Kiritsugu put out the smouldering cigarette, mulling over the information before setting the phone back in its receiver with a click. As he thought of a new number to call, the door to his office creaked open and a feather-like voice squeaked in.
"Daddy?" A cough, most likely due to the smoke. He cursed himself for resuming the vice. He had only just returned to it and it had already caused his daughter discomfort. "Daddy? Mommy said you were here." In a start, he stood and moved to the door. A genuine smile was spread across his sharp features. In the partly opened door was a girl around six years old. She was a carbon copy of his wife, Iri, only smaller in scale. Wearing a purple dress with white skirting, she stood out from the bland colours of the castle.
"Illya, good morning," Kiritsugu responded. He pulled open the door and stepped outside with his daughter, kneeling after entering the hallway with clean air. "What are you doing up so early? Did you want to go outside and play?" he asked. Whenever he spoke to his daughter, his eyes seemed oddly warm. His voice was a tone lighter and his shoulders seemed to relax. It was nothing compared to the rigid, cold and unfeeling stone which normally took the name Kiritsugu.
She nodded enthusiastically, throwing her hands behind her back and making an "Uh-huh" sound for extra confirmation. With a chuckle, Kiritsugu stood and ran a hand through her hair. He stretched out the same hand for her to grab and towed her towards the exit.
"Then let's get going, later you can read with your mother alright?" he said, leading her along the turn-filled corridors. Illya made a noise of elated surprise before launching into a childish bout of subjectless talking. All the while, Kiritsugu was beaming like each word was a gift.
That evening, Kiritsugu stared out a large window in his room, lit cigarette in his mouth. He was deep in thought, considering options, contacts, tactics. Kirei was dangerous, but he was just another magus. Kiritsugu was the Magus Killer, unconventional means to kill unconventional targets. His plans for the War already involved Maiya, there would just need to be a slight adjustment in the duration of her use. He would need to fly to Japan and prepare for the priest. He need only watch out for the Overseer, however that was trivial.
"When you think about your work it gets hard to tell the difference between your face and the castle walls," came a soft voice from behind him. Arms snaked their way around his waist and a weight pressed against his back. It was Iri, come to comfort him again. They sat embraced in silence for a moment until Kiritsugu sighed heavily.
"I need to return to Fuyuki. Maiya and I will prepare to handle the priest before he becomes a nuisance," he stated, tone an obvious statement towards an unwavering decision.
She twitched against him; the thought of him leaving must have been the cause. Unbeknownst to him, it was actually the mention of Maiya. She snuggled against him tighter afterwards, however. "I understand. You must do what you have to for our victory."
"I'll be away for a year at most. I'll return every so often to check up on you and Illya. I…" He choked up, hands clenching around the window sill. "Iri… We can leave, leave Germany and Acht, forget the War, take Illya and build a home somewhere nobody can get to us. That dream… That dream showed my death, I know it. If we carry on we… I..." He trailed off, both hands were clenched around the window sill with eyes shut tight. Iri only held on tighter, she knew that Kiritsugu had nothing but hardship behind and ahead of him, little comforts like herself were all that she could offer.
"Kiritsugu, you and I both know that you wouldn't accept that route. We would leave and eventually, you would be crippled with guilt." She paused, shutting her eyes with a sad smile. "You would kill yourself, and leave Illya and I alone. Going through with the Grail War is the only way to truly rid yourself of the burden you've been carrying your whole life." She squeezed as tight as she could, definitely not enough to hurt the Magus Killer, perhaps just enough to let him know she was still there.
A harsh creak of the door - again - separated the two, with Iri moving to see who their visitor was. It was Illya, holding a brightly coloured stuffed fish tight in her arms. She wore a rather plain white nightgown for children. "Mommy? Daddy? I had a nightmare… Can I sleep with you?" she asked, beaming up at her mother who had knelt to offer a hug.
"Of course, schatz, come climb into bed." She motioned, standing and taking her daughter's hand. Kiritsugu had put out his cigarette and moved to the side of the bed. When Illya neared, he lifted her up by the waist and let her crawl into a comfortable spot. The family settled into bed and slept through the night peacefully.
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In the morning, Kiritsugu said farewell to his wife and child. His plane ticket was rushed for that evening, it would be better to get his work over as soon as possible than delay it. After explaining to Illya why he was leaving, giving her another plush toy and promising to return soon, he entered the car rented for his trip to the airport and departed from the Einzbern castle. In the car, he used the phone to call Maiya. It rang once before being picked up. "Have you gathered what we need?" he asked simply.
"Yes. As well as the extra supplies you asked for. I've monitored our area of interest and the information we've received has been proven correct. There should be little problem with our plan," she replied coolly. She didn't even question if their supposed plan would be the most effective. She had absolute faith in Kiritsugu's tactics.
"Good, I'll speak to you next after I arrive." He finished the communication, placing the phone back in its holder and returning his main focus to driving. The following events went accordingly: The fake passport allowed him entry, the plane boarding went as scheduled and his landing in Japan went as well as could be expected - nothing out of the ordinary. After renting a new car, this time of slightly lower quality than the one back in Germany, Kiritsugu made his way to the hotel where Maiya was waiting.
An unlit cigarette in his mouth, Kiritsugu knocked on the wooden door. One burst of three, a break, a single, another pause, then one burst of two. The door creaked open, Maiya's cold eyes making themselves apparent. Upon recognizing him, she opened it, let him through, then checked the hall for tails before closing the door quietly and locking it tight. She had been waiting at the door for his arrival - it had only been three hours of standing. The hotel room was done in tan, a monotonous bland colour. The curtains over the window - which were of thin material - let in brown tinted sunlight, further shading the room. It was a twin room, and both beds were covered with weaponry - pistols, assault rifles, sniper rifles, grenades, ammunition. The majority of the supplies, however, were explosives. Bricks of Semtex and boxes of det-cord. On top of it all sat two paging devices, most likely the triggers they would be using. Of all of the objects, the most expensive would be the sniper rifle still sat in its case - a Walther WA 2000 which had been a frequently used rifle back in Kiritsugu's Magus Killer days. In the dim light of the room, he lit his smoke and verified the supplies on hand.
"Monitoring the church?"
"Risei Kotomine has not left?"
"Divide the explosives into quarters and load them into bags. This should be more than enough to ensure that Kirei Kotomine is the first master to die. We'll move and establish the setup over four weeks. Moving four days in a row would arise suspicion, the more we spread it out the less chance for detection there will be. We only move during the night." He paused to inhale the wondrous, deadly smoke into his lungs. "Schematics? The entire area needs to be a kill-zone. No injuries possible," he surmised, turning to find the paper he sought on the desk behind him. Load-bearing supports were marked with red X's, rooms and possible gatherings circled in white. The church acted as a live-in place of work complete with bedroom, living room, the main gathering hall, even a basement complete with a cellar. The explosive locations would collapse the church in on itself using demolition charges, while high explosives would blow out the walls and increase lethality along the perimeter of the church both inside and out. Even a magus couldn't survive some things unprepared.
With four years until the Grail War, a slight structural enhancement would be required to preserve the explosive material. A magus would only discover it should they know precisely what they were looking for. And who would expect someone to bomb a church?
"You are much more composed, Kiritsugu," Maiya stated, causing the man in question to look at her with confusion and surprise. Understanding his emotions, she clarified. "You're back to your old self. This plan of yours proves that much. I'm glad." Something like a smile appeared on her face. Not quite sure how to respond, Kiritsugu composed himself and moved to begin packing bags. There was nothing to say. Maiya had always desired one thing, and that was to serve Kiritsugu however possible.
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That night and sporadic nights of the next ten weeks after were spent planting explosives throughout the church. Some nights their plans had to be scrapped because of late night visitors, too many potential witnesses in the area or just Risei staying up later than expected. Maiya was used as an undercover agent, pretending to be a simple church-goer looking for salvation. Of course, her true role was to plant explosives within the church at key points. However, this also extended the time taken. Frequent visits by foreigners was suspicious on its own. All in all, more than forty pounds of Semtex were distributed throughout the structure. Det-cord had also been wired into and throughout the church as well. It may have seemed excessive, but the durability of the man in his dream had been astonishing. Kiritsugu would accept nothing less than a guaranteed death. He assisted Maiya with putting away their weaponry. It had not been used this time, however good maintenance and a count of what was on hand was always a healthy practice. He said his farewells to Maiya, then took the rented car to a small market to buy a new handcrafted plush for Illya. It was…well, it was something. A squishy round…bear? It had tiny ears and a cute stitched face at least. As he was settling payment with the merchant, a strange voice of a young girl came from behind.
"Wow! These are so cute! I wish I could have one!" The voice was packed with childish energy. A brief glance revealed a small girl, older than Illya, looking fondly at the squishy animal balls Kiritsugu had just bought. Brown hair, brown eyes, wearing a typical school uniform: White button up shirt with a brown vest, a red bow and a black skirt. She was trying to stand on her toes to see better into the stall. Were her eyes sparkling as she looked over the toys? The woman behind the counter smiled warmly at the child. She opened her mouth to speak but turned upon hearing the smacking of shoes. Running down the street were two men who were very clearly fed up with the current situation. They were each wearing well-made suits and would look rather respectable if the arms hadn't been rolled up to reveal numerous tattoos common to the Yakuza. They spotted the girl at the stall and cast glances at one another before running behind her, one to each side like they were blocking her escape.
"Taiga, you can't run off like that! Your grandfather told us to watch over you." One of them spoke up. The odd inflection put on 'grandfather' was strange, but speech patterns differed greatly in everyone. Kiritsugu turned, glaring impassively at one of the thugs with hollow eyes.
The girl, Taiga apparently, sighed heavily. "I'm thirteen. I don't need babysitters." Her arms were crossed over her front. When she actually opened her eyes after nobody responded, she found her supposed babysitters glaring menacingly at the man beside her. They seemed rather tense, was it because of him?
Taking a glance at the man in question, she lost her train of thought. He was incredibly handsome, something about his face was just… Well, like… God he was good looking. She supposed there was also... Wisdom? Was it wisdom she saw in his eyes? She blinked several times, unaware of the visual battle the three men around her were conducting. After what must have been ten seconds of staring between all four of them, Taiga spoke up.
"Hey mister, I haven't seen you around here before… Did you just move into the neighbourhood?" she asked, rose blush finding its way to her face. Even though she managed to ask that, she felt like speaking any more was impossible. Speaking coherently, anyway. When the man turned to look down at her, she felt lightheaded. What was wrong with her?
His mouth parted, features softening and eyes blinking a couple of times before they returned to their default. It was like he recognized her, but actually mistook her for another. "No, I'm actually just visiting on business." She deflated slightly at his reply. She had hoped he would stick around. He looked tough, maybe old man Raiga would have hired him on. That way she could have had an excuse to hang around him. He actually made a small smile at her disappointment. She didn't know whether to feel angry or happy that he found enjoyment in her reaction. "But you seem like a good girl. If I buy you a toy, will you go along with your…brothers?" he asked, pausing to look up at the aforementioned brothers with a dark glare.
Her mouth opened to respond, but no words came out. The blush on her face darkened and it made the man chuckle. "H-hey! They aren't my brothers!" she shouted, sheepishly looking downwards.
Her outburst only made him laugh more. He turned back to the stall and asked her which toy she would like. Without hesitating, she pointed towards the tiger. Unlike the bear the man had in his hand, the tiger had a poofy tail on one end, and a fierce looking face. The shopkeeper picked it from above and handed it to Taiga. Her motions were much stiffer since the arrival of the two Yakuza thugs. She was continually glancing between them, Kiritsugu and Taiga.
"Thank you…" she lead on, hoping he would fill in the blanks. He did, giving his name, and she subconsciously tightened her hold on the stuffed toy. "That's a cool name!"
"Not as cool as yours," he shot back with a smile, looking towards the thugs who were shuffling uncertainty. "I'm sorry, but I'll need to get going. Taiga, it was very nice meeting you." And just like that, he was moving away.
"Huh?! But- oh… Fine. But if you ever come back you should visit me. Remember okay? Taiga Fujimura!" she shouted, glancing towards the two babysitters who loomed around her like dog catchers. In a sharp movement, she slipped between the two men. Their hands narrowly missed her shoulders, and they both crashed into one another with a pair of grunts. Just like that, she was off and running.
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As Kiritsugu was driving to the airport, the car phone rang. Answering it swiftly, the now-familiar voice of his hired informant for Kirei spoke. "I've been trying for days now, you're a hard man to reach." A brief sigh. "Claudia Hortensia, Kirei's wife, has killed herself. The room we bugged revealed an... Interesting exchange between the two. I believe you will want to hear it. Transcripts being delivered personally to the Einzbern castle."
For the first time in their interactions, Kiritsugu spoke. "Why call?" was all he said. This was unusual, that little amount of information could be summarized over fax, there was no reason to directly call.
"Kirei Kotomine has entered the Grail War with command seals."
There you have it! The start of this tale. The timeline for Fate is... Sketchy, at best. So I'm doing all I can to keep it as close to canon as possible. I've done some tweaking though. This first chapter is pretty short. It's mostly because I want to see how it's received and test the waters. So post those reviews!
According to one of the more known scales, Illya was born in 1983, which would make her 21 in the events of Stay Night - But Kiritsugu is 29 at the start of the Fourth Grail War. That makes NO sense to me, since he's supposed known Maiya for 11 years, and would mean he was 17 when he had Illya. Anyway - The timeline is screwed up.
Plan is to have Kiritsugu around 30-something. Illya will be 19 or something in Stay Night and I'll proceed from there. Also in the next chapter, there will be a pretty large difference since I'll be deciding on a character for point of view and such.
Besides that, write a review! Lets me know what needs fixing and if you guys are enjoying it so far! Also, I can answer any questions you may have.