Standing out over the bluff of a long stretch of hills, Reines placed a hand over her forehead to shadow her eyes from the sun while surveying the horizon across from her. Behind her was the formation of a large valley created from the erosion of a dried up river cutting a path through rock and gravel over time.

The valley directly led towards the capital of the Warrior Bunny Kingdom she'd tasked Trimmao to scout the location for while Waver had left to offer his strategic expertise. The plan was two-fold, one part hinging on the level of Waver's performance, and the rest on building favourability.

It should be about time…

The corners of Reines lips tugged upward, but she restrained the impulse to smirk or giggle in the company of strangers. Tuka and Caila were efficient scouts with better vision than Reines. With Trimmao preoccupied with other matters, the two elves were working as Reines's eyes and ears. Hence, it was unbecoming of her and her station as a future Lord of the Clock Tower to break her elegant demeanor.

Admittedly, Reines had a passing interest in examining the extent of Tuka and Caila's capabilities. Were they magic based, or were they perhaps born of physical properties? Elves were naturally imbued with the ability to sense and interact with ambient mana, let alone the elves Reines had knowledge about in the Moonlit world.

Watching Tuka and Caila murmur and exude a faint verdant glow, characteristic of this world's Elven magic, Reines squinted. She was trying to determine what the two were doing with Caila taking the lead and Tuka following by example. It seemed to be some sort of scrying spell? That or simple detection because Caila began shaking her head at Tuka and pointing in another direction for them to check.

How curious, Reines thought. For a second, she entertained the idea of debating magic systems with them, but reconsidered as it wasn't the time.

A pity.

If thing were going right, Waver should have ingratiated himself with the Warrior Bunnies as a member of the aid force sent by the Beastmen Alliance by now. Reines had no expectation that Waver could take total control, but the man she called brother was quick witted, and inventive at the best of times. He should be able to work something out, and from there, he could demonstrate the level of his cognitive prowess.

What's more, if Waver's plans failed to be realized, he could always demonstrate the mysteries of his craft.

From observation, the humans of this world beyond the gate weren't all that different to ancient humans, at least for those unable to harness magic of some form. Crude weaponry of bronze and archaic metallurgy would prove highly ineffective against modern magecraft let alone the power of the ancient magics.

If this was all the level of strength this new world had to offer, then it would likely be overrun in a matter of years should the association make the effort. However, there was the topic implicitly brought up by the elves.

They prayed to an Elven Divine.

Did the Age of Gods still exist in the world? No magus worth their craft would ever underestimate the strength of the divine, but it was a curious question for later.

"A large crowd due east," Caila murmured out, eyes closed as the verdant energies around her swirled and congregated to the tips of her ears. Her mouth twitched before she elaborated further. "Several hundred armoured personnel, likely Empire legionaries an hour's time away from their pacing."

"F-From the sound of wheels, Empire ballista?" Tuka tacked on tentatively, clutching onto her elven bow while deferring to Caila's judgement; the older elf soon nodding.

"Perfect," was Reines's only response. "My older brother seems to be doing well, indeed."

Turning on the balls of her feet, Reines rushed back to the entrance of the river-carved valley where Trimmao was standing, head tilted in curiosity while staring at Shirou in serious contemplation.

The order Reines had given to Trimmao was for her to work in tandem with Shirou.

Reines had informed Shirou to treat Trimmao as a tool, but he obviously thought differently due to Trimmao's appearance and more importantly, her level of sentience. She could speak, interact, and carry her own opinions on how to complete tasks for Reine's benefit. Rather than a tool, Shirou was treating her like a colleague, something that Trimmao, with her limited experience and emotional quotient, was unused to. To her, she was simply a doll superior in make to the Einzbern's Homunculus, as her user would often like to brag and compare.

In any case, part of the discussion Trimmao and Shirou were having entered Reines's ears as she drew nearer.

"Like I said," Shirou scratched at the back of his head. "I can reinforce you if you need it. Better yet, if you turn into a sword, I could probably do it with less energy, and I would be able to coordinate better with you in battle?"

"Sword? Reinforce?" Trimmao frowned and morphed one of her hands into a giant hammer, head still tilted curiously. "This can crush more of my lady's enemies than a sword? Pointed string- also effective for stabbing and area damage." Trimmao's body then rippled, losing colour to shift into a vibrant silver mercury. "Body already impervious -strong like steel, fluid like water."

"No, no that's not what I meant," Shirou felt as if his words and explanations were being lost in translation. "Look, it's hard to explain, alright? It will be better if you just experience it."

"Negative. My lady forbids intrusion of foreign craft to gleam secrets of the Elmelloi family."

"I told you I'm a third-rate Magus; I wouldn't understand the complexities to begin with. All I'd do is reinforce the pre-existing layout of the material of your make, and then work with you to the best efficiency if you transformed into a sword."

"Hmm," Trimmao continued to tilt her head in thought before slowly considering the proposal. However, Reines arrived at this moment.

"Interested in the workings of my family, Emiya?" Reines was all smiles, Trimmao respectfully nodding at her before going mute.

Frustrated, Shirou sighed. "Like I said, that's-"

"Something to be discussed later," Reines cut in. "You misunderstood Emiya. In this instance, you and Trimmao will be cooperating, but not specifically in combat."

Reines pointed at Shirou. "Attack," she mouthed, before pointing her finger at Trimmao next. "Defense. Trimmao."

With a thought, Reines conveyed her instructions to Trimmao.

"Understood, milady."

Trimmao melted and quickly formed a thin but durable enclosed wall with the surrounding cliffsides at the valley's narrowest point. Only the large doorway purposely left behind was left open to encourage the Empire troops to push through rather than balk at the wall.

"Emiya, you stand right there," Reines pointed in front of the large doorway. "Your job is to not let any enemy through, and to leave as big of an impression as you can for later negotiations. Big brother's efforts mustn't be wasted."

For once, Shirou didn't hesitate to do as instructed. He'd followed Trimmao when she went to scout on the Empire forces and witnessed them looting and plundering unprotected villages, taking slaves and captives, and then razing all that was left to the ground.

This was warfare, and war makes monsters of everyone.

What mattered was that one shouldn't lose sight of who they are.

His actions today, would be the salvation of those who can no longer protect themselves at the mercy of tyrants.

At the apex of a hill looking into the valley leading towards the Warrior Bunny Kingdom's capital, three pairs of bunny ears perked up in alarm at the sudden appearance of a steel wall.

Three warrior bunny scouts, each part of a different guerilla unit Waver had divided, glanced at each other in shock as they verified each other's speculations.

"Why is there a wall there?" One of them asked, ears perking up while a contemplative hum escaped her lips.

"I dunno."

"Lord Waver said something would be here. See, his words haven't failed us yet."

"When does the Queen get here? Do you think she'd know what Lord Waver has planned?"

The three fell into hushed silence, ears going an alert before they hastily retreated at the sound of horns and the clinking of overlapping iron strips iconic to the legion. To begin with, each warrior bunny scout was only nearby since they were pestering the advancing Empire legions led by Zorzal's top commanders.

Despite their idle conversation, the three were there to do their jobs, and with Waver's stellar performance, none dared to neglect the tasks assigned to them. Hence, by the time Tyuule, her Royal Guard, and Waver appeared to personally overlook the valley leading to the Kingdom's capital, curses constantly sounded from the approaching Empire army's direction.

The guerilla units were doing a fine job pestering the legionaries by throwing heavy sharpened rocks or whatever they could get their hands on due to a lack of proper throwing equipment. They'd exhausted their daggers and arrows earlier on in the war, and had to make use of what was available, especially as a guerilla unit. However, with Zorzal's commanders in charge, they strictly ordered the frustrated and legionaries not to give chase and continue onward.

Marching to the capital seemed like a trap, but with the majority of the Empire legions gathered, the commanders were trying to pit their superior numbers to whatever 'strategy' Tyuule must have come up with. They'd never have known that their actions to first group up and march, would buy the time necessary for Tyuule's forces to regroup, and for Shirou, Reines, Tuka, and Caila to get into position.

Now though, preparations were complete and Waver could breathe a sigh of relief that his end of the plan would lose its element of danger with the confrontation with the Empire drawing to a close.

Carried in Tyuule's arms, Waver coughed lightly, gesturing for to let go in which Tyuule did so- reluctantly.

Waver felt an odd sense of possessiveness flicker across the aloof Queen's eyes, but he didn't put much consideration into it; believing that she likely coveted his strategic command and ability rather than anything more personal.

It was partially true, but not wholly.

One couldn't see it on Tyuule's face or outward image, but she'd actually gotten comfortable with Waver carried in her embrace, and was still too wary of her fellow bunnies to let Waver out of her grip. Alas, her duties and responsibility as the Queen of the Warrior Bunnies won out over natural base urges. However, this didn't mean that she didn't conveniently stand in a position between her present Warrior Bunnies and Waver, effectively blocking them.

Some frowned, others stared at Tyuule with pitiful eyes, but Tyuule wouldn't budge.

Waver had proven himself capable, and if this situation was truly the decisive moment that Waver had described, naturally, Tyuule's next consideration in peace-time was the continuation of the royal bloodline…

Dammit, focus.

Tyuule admonished herself. Her bunny ears kept flattening and perking up to the rhythm of her thoughts. It didn't help that her race was naturally inclined to seek capable partners and breed many, many, many offspring for the benefit of their society. She as Queen was no different, only that not many could reach her standard until now.

However, a male Warrior Bunny that may have unlocked the 'Super Post Clarity State,' and carried a refined and elegant air worthy of a Royal's mate, drove her hormones mad.

Tyuule swallowed, her mouth suddenly dry, heat rushing across her entire body. The heat only continued to build, seeking release as she recalled Waver's bold words to have the bravery to boast of his 'stamina' towards the elite of the Warrior Bunnies. If his intelligence to predict and handle were already this high, then she could only anticipate his other skills.

She had to distract herself.

There was an odd tilt in the way Tyuule was standing, but no one called her out on it let alone Waver who was all too focused on the sight ahead of him.

Without prompting, he'd already sent a message through runic inscription, alerting Reines of his arrival. Indeed, he could see her glancing his way from atop the wall Trimmao had molded herself into.

"Lord Waver, those are your companions who built the wall?" Tyuule spoke up, fighting fiercely to force down the red creeping up her neck and eventually succeeding through sheer will.

"Yes," Waver's response was curt, serious, just like the taciturn man he presented himself as. The air of an older gentlemen abounded him, a dandy man opening and closing his silver lighter case. Only he knew that the action was done out of nervousness rather than to improve his image.

…Something was seriously wrong here.

Waver had no choice but to conclude as shivers inexplicitly travelled down his back. Alas, context was a bitch, and 'death' was surely coming for him in a white satin bed veiled by purple silk curtains, never ending stamina, and a feat even his King would be proud of.

Waver coughed, noticing the dazed look n the features of the Warrior Bunnies accompanying him and blathering to redirect their focus.

"The wall is flimsy, stretched thin, and obviously made hastily. The opposing army commanders won't be intimidated by such a wall, and even strike it down with their sheer numbers."

"But there's a hole?" One of Tyuule's royal guard pointed out.

"And a person stands before it." Waver closed his silver lighter and pocketed it, somewhat distressed that he had no smokes to calm his nerves at the deceleration. If anything, it was the Emiya family name which Shirou carried which still unnerved him. Having gotten to know that it was the infamous Magus Killer that had raised him and started his path in the Moonlit world, Waver was naturally wary. He'd fought against Kiritsugu Emiya in the Fourth Holy Grail War, and he'd never forget that man's means. If even a little of that man's methods bled into Shirou, then he'd be a formidable enemy.

Hearing Waver's words, Tyuule and the other Warrior Bunnies possessing vision better than average humans took note of the people manning the defensive structure from afar.

Three elves, and a cat-eared beastfolk?

No matter how they looked at it, compared to the Empire forces, there was no way they block the narrow path even with the wall. Apparently, it really was no exaggeration to say that the reinforcements sent by the Beastmen Alliance were pitifully few.

"L-Lord Waver?" One of the Warrior Bunnies stammered in apprehension.

Waver didn't answer, but instead maintained a calming demeaner of confidence. It was the very same one he'd worn during the first strategy he'd laid out when the Warrior Bunnies still had doubts about him.

Gradually, the Warrior Bunny swallowed down her anxieties and fell quiet.

Tyuule on the other hand, focused on another aspect aside from the confidence Waver had in his comrades. Ah yes, the most crucial and important aspect: Three of them were women, beautiful too.

Tyuule's mood had become somewhat willful under Waver's influence. No, in actuality, it was because the weight of the kingdom pressing over her shoulders had been alleviated through success after success. It was only natural that there was a subconscious sense of complacency taking root within her with someone capable to rely on.

Everyone should have felt it at some point in their lives. That feeling when you look at someone and are like 'if it's him, or if it's her, then surely…' All the problems seem to just disappear.

In any case, Tyuule was going on a tangent and she couldn't help it. The feeling of restlessness inside of her refused to stay buried. If Waver was so confident already, then why couldn't she be confident in her fellow bunny? She was the Queen of the Warrior Bunnies and would lead by example. If it meant indulging somewhat in her own pursuits then, so be it.

Tyuule let out a breath and stepped closer to Waver's side, craning her neck up to stare at him, his stature a full head taller than her.

"Those members of the Beastmen Alliance…" She beat around the bush to seem nonchalant and disinterested before finally getting the words out. "What's your relationship with them?"

She played coy, using the teachers of her mother not to be too obvious in what she wanted to know.

"Emiya, a teacher. The elves, an investment," Waver replied bluntly. It was easy to say how you felt about a person when they weren't in front of you. You become lax, to vent even, and sometimes, the truth comes out.

"And the last woman?" Tyuule remained carefully nonchalant despite noticing a distinct chang in in Waver's features.

He groaned, offhandedly.

"Crippling debt," he answered without much care, not expecting anyone to really understand his circumstances, but euphemising it in the best way possible so he doesn't explicitly say 'slave contract.' He was to be Lord El-Melloi II in place of his deceased former teacher until Reines comes of age, as signed under magic contract in harrowing circumstances.

He shivered, looking frail if only for a moment, but it was enough for the Warrior Bunnies to notice, let alone Tyuule who was closely scrutinizing him. They weren't stupid, or slow witted. They could infer what Waver wasn't saying.

Even at the end of the peril the Warrior Bunnies were facing, his situation would not change, seemingly bound to the whims of another.

W-What sort of past did Waver have. What was he subject too?

In hindsight, a male Warrior Bunny like Waver would have never gone unnoticed by the kingdom. I-If he was likely a Warrior Bunny outside of the tribe, weak and human-like as male Warrior Bunnies were, he must have borrowed a lot in order to just live.

Humans dominated the present world, and many didn't take kindly to Beastfolk, and this was without considering the divides between the beastmen tribes.

Oh, poor bunny.

An appalled Warrior Bunny couldn't help herself. "If you're short on funds Lord Waver, I'm sure that the Queen and the Warrior Bunnies would happily help pay it off! Y-You won't have to endure ever again!"

We'll save you from this treachery!

Tyuule found herself nodding, eyes narrowed in a rare show of outrage, but Waver knew things weren't that simple.

"If only it was that easy. It's complicated." He shook his head, sadness and literal fatigue bleeding off of his form in the eyes of the Warrior Bunnies.

H-How noble.

"Forget my situation and focus. Now is no longer the time for idle chatter. It's beginning."

H-How selfless.

Many Warrior Bunnies gnashed their teeth feeling complicated at the lengths Waver would go to put his own matters below that of the tribe's.

This, was a true clansman. This, was fellow bunny truly worth protecting!

"My Queen!" Numerous eyes glanced towards Tyuule, searching for confirmation that came quick.

Tyuule snorted, targeting her gaze on Reines in displeasure. Whatever debt her Tribe's Waver had accrued, she'd pay it. She'd shoulder the price as her people's Queen or she'd find the leader of the cat beastfolk and demand an explanation for why her tribesman had been conned into what seemed to be slavery!

Much to Reines's delight, Waver had inadvertently become a negotiation piece due to his reticent approach in diplomacy.

Nevertheless, Waver's prior words were correct.

The demonstration was beginning, and it wouldn't do to not have the appropriate eyes paying attention.

All stared in the crucial point of this entire present confrontation.

-The Empire's legions approached within one-hundred meters of Shirou and the wall behind him.


Shirou stood alone, features carefully void of his inner emotions while Tuka, Caila, and Reines attention was focused on him.

The path that he walked and willingly chose to follow was a fool's choice. He knew the goal of saving everyone was unattainable from the beginning. Less because he was told, and more because he'd experienced it in the years before he'd been targeted with a Sealing Designation.

To save one in any conflict, was to condemn another.

It was the bitter truth. The only truth.

So, then why? Why had he so stubbornly continued on this road of no return or success? He would do it. He would become a Hero of Justice if only because he'd made a promise on that fateful day.

He would remain true to himself and his ideals until the day that time withers away even the sharpest blade. Rust forms and metal soon warps. The luster of the past would be exchanged for the brittleness of the future until the sword would inevitably be laid to rest.

It was an endless search- an endless pursuit for the smile and words said on a day of bittersweet parting.

"Alright Emiya, do your thing."

Reines's voice sounded in Shirou's mind.

He hardly reacted; a slight nod the only affirmation he gave in compliance while facing the incoming Empire Army.

He would not waver, would not stop.

Anything for the simple chance for a miracle.

The steps of the Empire troops shook the ground in their advance, ballista readying to shoot down Trimmao's walls.

It would matter little.

Right and wrong had already been seen through Shirou's eyes, and a decision made to save those who could no longer save themselves from the expansionary pursuits of a local hegemon.

A breath escaped his lips, muscles taut with tension, easing as the sheathe stored within him stirred in a golden hue. Whatever blessing had been granted to him from the Elder Tree he'd visited in Tuka and Caila's village, it was reacting.

Elves too were part of the Phantasmal category of the Fae in the Moonlit world.

The Elven God called him an Apostle, and in this new world, that term held a Divine significance. Apostles carried the characteristics of their anointed God…What more, the Elven God? The connection between him, the Sheathe in his body, the world it led to, and the presence of the Fae folk, naturally strengthened without his knowing.

She who lay waiting within a distant utopia, would no longer be limited to merely waiting at the whims of her former teacher.

Glancing up at the charging Empire army, their complacency was evident. Frustration from the Warrior Bunny's guerilla tactics had built a need to vent on an enemy that wouldn't try to run away for once.

The problem was, their complacency would only be justified for an ordinary opponent. Shirou was a magus, one particularly oriented towards combat with forces still looking out for him even now.

[Take my sword.]

The hairs on the back of his neck raised, his body bristling in crippling nostalgia.

This voice- Saber?

There was no response, but a feeling remained as if her arms were warmly wrapped around him.

If she and Merlin had something to do in influencing the appearance of the Gate in his Reality Marble, then there was no need for hesitation. Merlin was one thing, but for Saber, for his Arturia, he would never doubt her.

Yes…Yes indeed.

Flower petals rustled in the breeze, motes of light flickering all around, and slowing the charge of the Empire legions.

"Trace. On." The words spoken with clarity were ones Shirou often used as a basis to concentrate and focus on the imaginary gun-hammer cocking in his mind's eye.

[O sword. Sword of the Undefeated King.]

The words echoed clearly, stirring from within Shrou, the light of a legendary weapon's glow in his grand armoury. Magi who were perusing through the armoury's inventory staggered back at the sudden presence that appeared, only to disappear a second later.

[Pave the path.]

Arcs of magic energy converged in Shirou's palms, singing the ground, and revealing the outline of a sword shining with the light of the stars. No, there really was a glow- a luminous after shimmer similar to the verdant light around Tuka and Caila.

It was the aura of an Apostle of the Elven God that every elf was familiar with.

Tuka and Caila swallowed, glancing at each other as their hearts hammered in their chests from atop Trimmao's walls.

Meanwhile, Reines was suddenly taken aback at the development, never imagining the change that had occurred to Shirou since they'd left the elven village. Sure, the elves had started treating him differently, but she thought it more in line with something he possessed, not a change in his actual person.

Quickly, Reines had to reassess her impression of Shirou. His Reality Marble was already worthy enough for a Sealing Designation, but now this? The output of energy he was exuding was similar to a Divine Spirit, coupled with his armoury of Noble Phantasms and weapons, he'd be able to contend with even the strongest of magi. Sure, the Noble Phantasms were impressive before, but Reines and the other magi weren't fools. There was no way that Shirou had had the means to garner the energy required to use those Noble Phantasms to begin with...until now.

W-Would she be able to handle this?

Regardless of the thoughts of others, the sword formed in Shirou's grasp grew distinct by the second.

It was a captivating sight, yet was terrifying in sheer presence and grandeur.

The Empire army led by Prince Zorzal's commanders firmly lodged their feet in place. Magic wasn't something unfamiliar to them, but magic of this level could only be possessed by one kind of being in this world that all knew of through rumour and hearsay.

"A-Apostle! Retreat!"

The council of Apostles representing the present world's Gods, each carrying the power to level countries and kingdoms.

There was a reason Tuka, Caila, and the elves held such deference in a single title.

In the midst of the Empire army's clamor, the sword was unceremoniously swung.

A flash of radiant golden light, and the world went silent.

Tuka, Caila, Reines, Waver, and the Warrior Bunnies were forced to shield their eyes in the glare.

What was left in the twinkling glow of swirling golden orbs, was the breadth of the stars.

In the distance, a flying drone mounted with a state-of-the-art camera recorder lowered its altitude. From where Shirou and the others were, it was impossible to see it due to its general size and proximity away. Coupled with its lack of magic energy or mystic properties, it was perfectly hidden against magi, granted it doesn't unwittingly enter the proximity of a detection-type bounded field.

Several miles away, a man in green camouflage military gear controlled the drone into a steady descent. The images and events captured on the drone's film, providing real-time video streaming features towards a signal station towards a military base stationed on Alnus Hill...the location of another Gate.

Including the Gate that appeared in Shirou's Reality Marble, a second gate had appeared at the same time, prompting an Empire expeditionary force to enter through it. The reality the Empire troops found themselves in was the twenty-first century modern world, beginning in the streets of Japan.

Pandemonium ensued, many citizens injured, killed, or captured.

Soon enough Japan's defence force sent their military through the Gate into the land of the new world where it faced retaliation from local powers, easily suppressed by artillery and gunfire. Primitive weaponry and outdated military tactics led to increasing losses on the local side. Hostilities ended in the coppery scent of blood awash over the grass plains around the hill. Pot holes and crevices from impact zones matting the idyllic landscape.

Given the opportunity of reprieve, the military needed to accomplish its initial objectives to send back a detailed report to their government. This world appeared to have different laws and energies that Earth didn't seem to possess, one of which was said to be magic.

Parts of the Empire's invading troops through the gate carried wooden staves imbued with archaic magic that could shoot fire, ice, and even lightning.

One of the tasks given was to determine and assess the effectiveness of this new world's weapons of mass destruction, and magic was at the top of the list of unknowns.

The exploration of the New World by Japan's military forces had just begun, and in light of the upper-management decision making, several troops were deployed to get an understanding of the new world's terrain and culture. The advance base created on Alnus hill where the second Gate was located, served as the command center.

As the drone continued its descent in the hands of the military man in camouflage, a cold sweat trickled down from the man's forehead to his chin.

"Command, this is Recon Six," the man spoke into a radio strapped to the vest over his left breast pocket. "T-There might be a problem, over."

"Command to Recon Six, what's the situation, over?"

Recon Six barely spoke a word, as if trying to wet his suddenly dry mouth. In then end, it was too difficult to explain. Three words were all that he could say to encompass it all.

"Watch the video."

Terse silence stretched on the line for what amounted to several minutes.

"…Magic is bullshit. I'll forward the video to the government general advisory. Fuck, from the looks of it, a swing could level entire city blocks- no, how far did that strike even travel?"

How were they supposed to prepare for this type of retaliation should it come? Missile defence systems? But it wasn't a missile to begin with.

An era of Swords and Steel would once more return to the forefront of the minds of modern man.

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