Fate/Bonds Beyond Humanity

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79- Intervention For Devils

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Hotaruzuka Otoko's night had barely started and the clients were already pouring in. Since it was a weekday there shouldn't be many but as the pub Copenhagen's owner she fortunately knew that wasn't going to be the case. There were many loyal customers who always dropped by to relax and others who wanted to vent after a grueling day of work.

The pub she and her father worked hard to manage had a stellar reputation and a huge selection of drinks that gave them a leg up on their competition in Fuyuki despite not being as laid back as several bars on their corner of the city.

Otoko, a tall brunette wearing a black shirt and jeans to match a black apron, was proud of her pub and didn't even complain when her father asked her to work on it after college. In fact she didn't even need to think twice before deciding that was what she wanted to do in life. It also helped that since her father was mostly laid back, she could take charge of things and get experience early for when he retires.

'If he ever retires.' The long haired woman with a double braid which finished in a wolf tail thought with amusement while watching her old man make a cocktail for two arriving office workers. The tall man had started to hear the sob story about how one of them was ditched at the altar, the other two offering their sympathies. 'Is not for nothing he loves to work at the bar and leave the rest for me to work.' Because even if the tale was sad, Reikan loved to partake in it, leaving his daughter and their other employees to take care of everything else. "Hey, Susu-chan, table five is asking for the bill!"

"Yes, yes." The waitress who was also wearing their pup's uniform, a black apron with their mascot on the lower right corner and the place's name above her breasts saluted, before marching out.

Otoko shook her head at the upbeat attitude, knowing it would last throughout the night as while the place was popular, it was still a weekday. Nobody expected much but regulars who liked to drink too much or those who liked a specific drink from their menu.

Nobody but Otoko who looked at the watch on her wrist with a pensive hum. 'Shouldn't they already be here? I know he is super polite and a 'super good student', as Tiger-chan would say, but even if the place isn't going to be full, saving a table may be a hassle.' Especially since a highschool student asking for a private table away from view already sounded several alarms in her head. 'Only meeting him a few times doesn't help either. Does he still practice kendo in that new fancy school?'

Remembering her school brought a sad memory back from when she heard Homurahara had to be closed down. Otoko couldn't smile at the memories from way back when she was a student; hanging out with her best friends, being part of the movie club, festivals and graduation.

Hearing her alma mater closed down bothered for a few days even, more so when the Tiger of Fuyuki showed up to pour her sadness out with a bottle of sake which they ended up sharing while reminiscing of the good times.

'At least Tiger-chan managed to get a job just after.' Otoko thought with a smile as just a few days later she and her friend got together to celebrate with the latter's extended family. 'All well, when it ends well-' Barely finishing her musing, she caught sight of a familiar redhead. While taller and broader, she recognized the gentle smile of the boy who offered to help her once. "Emiyan? That you?" Puberty had hit and right on the mark in her opinion.

"Neko-san, good evening." Shirou happily greeted the woman as the people behind her watched the interaction in silence. "I hope Taiga-sensei called? She was a bit… stunned when I asked." To say the least. Scandalized was the proper word. 'Convincing her that we weren't going to a pub to drink was the hardest thing I ever did in my life.'

Not that he complained, the woman was just being a responsible adult and teacher. Took some effort but once Emiya managed to convince the reason for that request was to help a friend, she was understanding. That and after a bribe and promises of cooking her bentos for a week.

Jokes on her, Shirou would have done it for free, Taiga only had to ask.

"More like drunk from 'god Neko-chan, that was the most delicious steak I ever had in my life'. Fufufu." The older woman took advantage of her barely opened eyelids to study with everybody accompanying her acquaintance. 'He did say he was looking for a place to help his friend relax while an adult talked.'

And it was easy to see who was the friend in need as only one of them was in their school uniform and looking completely lost. The women with him looked too sure of themselves, even behind him to block any escape routes. Clearly the boy had been caught off guard but that didn't interest Otoko as much as the tall man in black garbs who was the adult of the bunch.

'A little too old but, meow, he is just my type.' The heavy clothes hid plenty but by his height and smile, the woman could say she was interested. The fact he was apparently taking some time to help a couple of students with their friend spoke well of his character.

"... so I hope you don't mind us borrowing the table for a few hours, Neko-san." Shirou requested politely but the woman's mind was somewhere else. Which he eventually noticed with a blink of his eyes. "Otoko-san?"

Hearing her first name properly said by outloud caught her attention. "I already told you to call me 'Neko', Emiyan." Nobody would fault her for it since in Japanese her name sounded too much, and could be written, like 'man' which was weird on a girl, much less a woman. "Anyway, are you asking about you all having a table hidden from view? No problem. Tiger-chan trusts you and so do I." She finished with a little wink. "Come with me you lot. Hope most of you aren't expecting anything too strong to drink," with a slide of her feet she was beside a Kirei in an instant, "unless it is mister tall and handsome over here."

An amused smile crossed the man's lips as he replied. "Well, I believe Caren is also of age."

"You would know, wouldn't you, Father?" Yet the silver haired woman bowed to the hostess. "Regardless, perhaps I shall drink tea today? While wine is His body, overindulging is never recommended."

Several dots connected on Neko's head. "You two are the new guys from the church?" She sounded, and looked, quite embarrassed.

"'Fraid so." Caren's smile truly expressed her happiness. "We are here for some almsgiving and to help a poor lamb with his concerns and worries…"

"Mep." Ise sounded lost and confused.

"... at the behest of Emiya Shirou, a contributor of the Church's administration."

Otoko looked at the two before turning to the redhead while tilting her head in confusion. "Sorry, Emiyan, never knew you were a man of the church."

"Oh but he isn't." Kirei said swiftly before the Mage could take control of the situation. "It is just that he accomplished several deeds worthy of the Church's attention which helped immensely."

Taking her cue, Caren added. "Truly the Lord works in mysterious ways to have such a noble man help us in our time of need. Many blessings to him."

"Indeed, indeed, Caren."

"Well, I heard that the town's church was falling apart but, whoa, never thought they needed that much help." Neko sounded honestly impressed, exactly as the members of the clergy had intended. "But hearing that Emiyan was part of it… you are taking time for your studies, aren't you? Or are you planning to-"

"Table please." Shirou asked as politely as he could while interrupting. "Sorry, but tonight it isn't about me, you know?"

Xenovia moved to support him by slapping Ise's back. "That is right! It is about this guy!" The Red Dragon Emperor glared at the bluehead but she just gestured to the cabinets full of bottles and said, "Get whatever you want. It is Shiro's treat today."

"Favor to Taiga-chan or not, I won't serve alcohol to minors." Neko was quick to point out, not willing to let the sentence stand even as a joke. Still she smiled well naturally before adding. "But there are plenty of other drinks you can order."

'She has an 'onee-san' type aura. Kinda like Akeno-senpai but without hiding any sadism…' Ise thought before asking. "Like what?"

The woman swiftly approached the counter and collected five menus. "Oh, lots of stuff. If you have a sweet tooth we have milkshakes and sundaes. Wanna look more like an adult? Coffee and tea." She offered a saleswoman's smirk. "Of course we also have appetizers and our kitchen takes several orders. Nothing really healthy though."

Scratching the back of his head, Shirou made a quick decision. "Let's just go to the table first." He could see that Ise was still hesitant but the more they stalled the worse things would get. "Thanks a lot, Neko-san."

"No problem." She escorted them to a table out of the way at the end of the pub, the sort of spot hard to notice unless the place suddenly became full, it would be private enough for their conversation.

The woman ended up asking for their orders while they found where everyone would sit. In the end it was Shirou and Xenovia on one side of the circular table with Kirei and Caren on the other. Ise, who was between the two other men much to his chagrin and with a wall at his back, felt a little claustrophobic.

[Don't worry, they try anything, we blow up this joint.] They wouldn't, the dragon knew for sure that it didn't matter how cornered his Partner felt he wouldn't risk innocent lives.

But the words of support managed to relax him enough for the brown haired youth to pull his chair while looking everyone else in the eyes as if trying to not show fear.

Problems began to appear a minute after everyone was seated and nobody was saying anything. Ise was looking around in clear confusion while Shirou and Xenovia focused on Kirei who smiled smugly.

It was Caren who quickly explained that, "Best for us to wait for our orders so we aren't caught speaking something she shouldn't hear."

"It would be a pity to have to modify her memories to forget about us."

"Oh?" The silver haired woman raised an amused brow. "Father, are you flattered by Neko-san's attention now?"

"Not at all. But her shock and embarrassment upon realizing our position was an important memory. It would be a shame if she forgot that."

'These two are the worst.' Xenovia sweatdropped but didn't dare to comment and became a target.

Still gathering his courage to deal with an intervention he didn't understand, Ise commented. "Nice place."

"Yeah." Shirou pounced at the opportunity to start any sort of talk to not agitate his friend. "Taiga used to bring us here after some big competitions to celebrate or drown our sorrows on milkshakes."

"The Tiger?" "Fujimura-sensei?" Ise and Xenovia asked at the same time.

Tapping her chin, Caren commented, "Besides the ORC, you haven't registered for any other clubs in Kuoh, much less the kendo and archery clubs Taiga-sensei has been managing the last few months."

"Wait, she is managing two? Who the hell thought that was a good idea?" Shirou shook his head and brushed his own question off. "Never mind. It was in my old school, I was in the kendo club and every other tournament she invited everyone here…"

Staring at the Magus, the priest chuckled. "This place, while nice, isn't your preferred scenery." He commented off handedly but the redhead nodded in agreement.

"Yeah. Compared with my clubmates, I have only been here a couple of times." Closing his eyes and relaxing on his chair, Shirou hummed in thought. "But we needed a place to talk and Taiga suggested it so-"

"Hold on, when did you have time to talk to Tiger-sensei?" The Pawn of Gremory jumped to ask.

Surprising him it was Xenovia who replied. "Oh, didn't you know we are neighbors?" At the boy's confused look she shrugged. "Yep, Sensei drops by for dinner every other day so-"

"She does?"

Caren smiled and asked, "And she sees no problem seeing so many students living in a single home?"

While he wondered how much the Church investigated him, the magus felt safe to say, "She knows my parents gave me the house and Rias excused it as an 'inn for students with nowhere to go'." She also told a sob story that Taiga bought completely but Shirou omitted that part. "I completely forgot about this place until recently but the environment is really relaxing."

It always struck him how people showed up, either happy or sad, and almost always left with a smile brought to live by their friends or the pub itself. Copenhagen was that relaxing of a place and the atmosphere was excellent to waste some time and meet new people.

Looking around, the redhead couldn't help but comment, "If I already hadn't a job, maybe I would work in a place like this."

"Making drinks, Master?" Xenovia asked with a smile of her own. "I don't know. I always thought you were more at home in the kitchen." Shirou shrugged, not agreeing or disagreeing with her statement.

"Hmm, yes, I can see how this place can be relaxing." Caren looked around and observed how those already present were happy or relaxed. "Oh, how the Church envies places like this."

"Maybe because they can talk and don't need to pray all the time." Ise pointed out making the other four pause.

"Ise, have you ever been to a church? On mass, I mean?" Durandal's Owner asked directly with a small glare.

"There is much more to do at the church than just pray." The priestess continued and while her smile was gentle, there was a threat behind it.

"Had it not been your condition, I would insist for you to sit there one Sunday." Unlike the other two, the priest looked more entertained than anything. "No, perhaps you should do so even as you are."

Gulping hard, Ise saw his life flash before his eyes. [Way to shove your foot in your mouth, Partner. The Durandal's Holder alone could give us trouble but you had to pick a fight with the other two too?] The dragon sounded excited nonetheless.

Still, the instincts the devil developed in the forest warned him how much of a mistake that would be. 'No way. Just looking at that guy…' His gaze focused on Kirei with wariness.

[Funny thing, the girls are the ones with Holy tools-] Ddraig's comment surprised Ise who didn't know what Caren had which caught the dragon's attention. He wouldn't get an answer as his Partner moved on. [-yet he is the one who looked ready to kill us at the slightest misstep or just because he can... Funnily enough, I can't detect a drop of bloodlust and still… Kotomine Kirei, ever since the fight for Caliburn, I knew he was dangerous.]

"Are you done speaking with Ddraig?" Caren asked delicately which made the Pawn flinch. "What did he say? Something amusing? Perhaps warn you from danger?"

Throwing a glance at Kirei, Ise focused on the beautiful woman in front of him. "He said you have a Holy tool?" He could only phrase it as a question, trying to avoid looking at the older man's eyes.

Which the priest noticed and his amusement grew. 'I have a feeling I will enjoy today's little intervention.'

"Fufufu. Of course I have. You didn't expect me to walk around at night without some sort of protection, did you?" Winking at Ise, Caren added. "But what aren't you saying? Was he rather rude?"

"Stop teasing the boy, Caren." Kirei ordered but it sounded more of a suggestion than anything else. "It will make our session harder." The silver haired woman knew it wasn't that simple with him but did so regardless.

Before Ise could complain, Shirou placed a hand on his shoulder before saying, "Look, Ise. This intervention is because of how you don't notice things happening around you… or are unable to see them." He winced at his own words but offered an honest smile. "Just some things, very important things."

From the redhead's side, his knight mumbled, "Things going at you with the subtlety of a truck in a dark tunnel with its lights on up to eleven."

That irritated the Red Dragon Emperor more than a little. "Hey! I can get around in a fight-"

"Lower your tone, Neko-san is coming back." Caren warned with a chuckle as the Pawn's mistake proved everyone's point since the woman truly was approaching and he was about to shout something he shouldn't.

Neko had arrived carrying a trail with several beverages and foods. In the middle of the table there were suddenly bread sticks and french fries for any to take. Individually each one got a different thing for themselves.

"Here we are, pure black coffee for our new resident priest," the pup's owner started by gently placing his drink before delivering Caren's, "an hot cocoa," Xenovia's turn, "milkshake," Shirou was next, "tea with honey," last but not least Ise who got a huge bowl with several colors, "and the Almighty Sunday."

It was the biggest item on the menu, also the most expensive and they all knew it. "Meh, Shirou is paying." Considering he was supposed to be getting an intervention, Ise would abuse as much as he could.

"Well, I did promise it was my treat." The redhead acknowledged with a nod before turning to the hostess. "Thanks, Neko-san. If we need anything else…"

She offered him a thumbs up with a confident smile. "Don't worry. Already told the others to let me take care of this table so nobody is going to bother you guys." She then dropped an extra napkin case on the table. "For too many tears. God knows some people need them."

The Mage nodded again. "I will make sure to leave an extra tip."

"Appreciate it but you don't need to. Tiger-chan is going to eat me alive if I take advantage of one of her students." Neko said before departing.

Prompting Caren to turn around and say, "Are you going to still leave a tip?"

"A fat one." Shirou replied without hesitation and she giggled.

"Hey dude, it is your money." Ise commented while taking a spoonful of his sunday. "Goddamn this' good!"

"Could you please not blaspheme in my presence?" Golden eyes glowed ominously, freezing the devil in place. "I really would appreciate it."

Raising his hand on a nervous salute, Ise replied. "Yes, Caren-sensei."

"Very well, this is a good time to begin as any." Kirei announced it suddenly which surprised everyone. "Oh please, continue eating, Hyoudou Issei. If everything goes smoothly you won't have to worry about much but answering 'yes' or 'no' questions."

While Shirou and Xenovia were confused by the statement, Caren just dragged the plate of fries close to herself and looked ready to enjoy the show. For good measure the nun threw a look towards the red and blue haired duo, silently asking them to not interrupt.

Ise noticed none of that, his tongue playing with the spoon in his mouth. "I don't know why I need a damn intervention."

"Don't worry about it." Kirei said with a reassuring smile. "The purpose of an intervention is to help someone lose a bad habit of theirs. Something usually harmful. But, your friends don't even know if you need it in the first place." Xenovia nodded in admission as Shirou stared at the Red Dragon Emperor with calm eyes. "That is why we shall have a round of 'questions and answers'. Perhaps, at the end of it, they will admit you have nothing and we can enjoy lunch at Emiya's expense."

"Heh, fine by me." A hum escaped his lips as Ise delighted on the Almighty Sunday. "Man, this is so good…"

With another smile, Kirei declared, "Then, we shall begin. Answer me this, Hyoudou Issei… are you afraid of women?" The brown haired boy did a spit take while the Magus and knight stared at the priest in disbelief. "Hmm, do I take that as a 'yes'."

"What the fuck?! What the fuck are you talking about?!"

"Ise, calm down." Shirou grabbed the devil by the shoulder just to be safe.

"Please don't be rude. Also, not too loud. Respect the other clients of the pub." Kirei instructed easily while taking another sip of his coffee. "Nevertheless, is that a 'yes' or a 'no'?"

"No!" Ise bit his lips and took a deep breath to control his voice. "Hell no. I love women."

"Someone is trying too hard~" Caren pointed out and Xenovia couldn't help but nod.

"She right."

"What are you two trying to say?" Demanded the Red Dragon Emperor.

However, Kirei took over once again. "So the answer to the question; you have fear of women, is 'no'. I see." Took another sip of his coffee. "Then you are afraid of compromise."

"What?" It was obvious to everyone Ise was growing increasingly angry.

Enough so that Shirou felt the need to intervene. "Kotomine-"

"Please, Emiya Shirou, be patient." The older man suggested with a serious tone. "Those questions are important to make sure Hyoudou Issei's mind is in the correct place?"

'Where? On the brink of killing you?' Because even if he didn't say it, that was exactly what Shirou thought was going to happen.

Nobody would blame him either, not with the anger on the Pawn's eyes. "Listen here you prick-"

"Is that a 'yes'?" Kotomine asked without hesitation.

"No, it is a 'no'." Ise's fist slammed on the table and only Shirou's fast thinking on Reinforcing it saved them from catching the whole place's attention. "Look, I don't know what this intervention thing is but-"

"So why haven't you failed to secure a relationship until now when there are two women perfectly willing to be with you despite your faults?"

"What?" Ise didn't even know if he heard the priest right.

Yet Kirei said it again, basically twisting the knife. "Why have you failed to secure a relationship? That is, despite knowing two women who can tolerate if not find your pervertness endearing?" He began to rub his chin as the whiplash of emotions caught up with the younger man. "Honestly I expected a boy like you to jump at the chance to have any sort of relationship and-"

"What are you… talking about?" Ise sat back down and everyone could see he was lost. Confusion soon turned back to anger but it was a shadow from the previous one. "Aren't you a priest? That's the worst kind of person to give relationship advice."

Surprisingly the taller man nodded in agreement. "Usually you would be correct but I was married once."

""You were?!"" Shirou and Xenovia asked at the same time.

"Sure was. Even have a daughter." Kirei informed with the most knowing smile he could give while Caren watched his actions and words closely. But the priest ignored her, focusing on Ise. "But back to my question… Why are you ignoring Asia Argento and Irina? Even staying with one of them would be great for a boy of your age. It would certainly help you mature a little."

"What are you talking about? They don't…" Ise's hand began to shake before he looked down, noticing his tight grip on the spoon. It was completely bent out of shape and he dropped it on the table.

"Should I go back to the previous questions?" Kirei asked not so gently but with a smile of a cat who caught the canary. "Are you afraid of women?"

"No, I-"

"Fear of compromise then?"

"They don't like me like that." Ise said weakly, so weakly Xenovia couldn't believe that was the Red Dragon Emperor. Compared to the devil dominating Rating Games, he was rather meek. "Asia is just too nice and Irina… She's my childhood friend and… Heh. I thought she was a boy."

Once again Kirei surprised everyone by nodding in understanding. "It takes a while for girls to grow into women. Nobody would blame you for the confusion. But she grew into a woman, didn't she?"

Took ten seconds for Ise to find a reply. "Yes."

"A pretty one?"

"Yes."

"Have you dreamed about her?"

"Yes?"

"Of being with her? Loving her as a man would love a woman."

Again Ise took time before answering. "... Yes, I have."

"Then why are you afraid?"

"I am not-"

"There is no need to lie. You are amongst friends." Kirei reminded him with a soft voice even as his expression appeared distant. "Or would you prefer a more private environment? I confess the church would be better for this conversation but, let us face it, a devil there wouldn't feel any more comfortable." He touched Ise's shoulder delicately before adding. "But nobody else can hear us, speak your mind. Take that weight off your chest."

"I-I- I don't-"

"Will you die for me?"

"Ah, I see. There it is the ghost that haunts you." The priest suddenly announced while leaning back, startling everyone.

"Huh?" Xenovia mumbled, looking at a confused Ise. "What is wrong? Ghost?"

"Kotomine, explain." Shirou demanded upon seeing how lost Ise looked. Took him a minute until he snapped from something akin to a trance. "Did you hypnotize him?"

"Father is skilled but hypnotizing the Red Dragon Emperor is beyond his capabilities." Caren informed as she finished her hot cocoa. "Hmm, this is really good. Say, would anyone mind if I had another one?"

Deciding that enough was enough, Xenovia slapped the table to catch everyone's attention. "Just tell us what you found."

Half ignoring the former Exorcist, the priest focused on the devil. "Hyoudou Issei, you seem to be stuck in a memory." Brown eyes focused on him and Kirei nodded in reassurance. "Your mind is stuck in some particular moment, at least partially, like a swamp that tries to drag you down to its depths. Tell me, who was the one who hurt you such." Again the boy hesitated and the man placed his hand back on his shoulder, the tight grip keeping him grounded. "It was less than an instant but you could see them clearly, who hurt you so much that you can never forget them."

"Will you die for me?"

The grip grew tighter once Kirei saw Ise's eyes lose focus again. Truly it was just a millisecond but his training as an Executor allowed him to notice the smallest changes. He saw how the Pawn's face got ready to close down before he was snapped back to reality. Noticed how the Red Dragon Emperor himself wasn't aware of such things.

Which was why he was trying to make Ise aware, to wake him up to his own feelings and realize there was a problem before being told. The process to guide him to the right conclusion could take several sessions for a therapist. In fact it was the sort of thing that could take years to be dealt with.

However Kotomine Kirei lacked the moral and kindness for the slow method, he found more entertainment dragging the exposing the scars on Ise's heart by force through certain questions tailored to make the younger man angry before unbalancing him.

As an experienced orator, he knew the exact tone to use. "Face your fear, Hyoudou Issei. Tell us, what is shackling your legs? What stops you from seeing that there are people who love you?"

"I-she-" By that point even Ise understood something was wrong. He began to have difficulties breathing, his hand going for his chest unconsciously. '... Ddraig?'

[I am here, Partner.]

'What is happening to me?' The highschooler used his left hand to hold his head even as Shirou held his back and Xenovia stood, ready to help.

[Apparently the priest managed to see the fear you had managed to hide, even from yourself. I thought you knew about it…] Clearly the dragon was pensive but decided to focus on the immediate problem. [Don't be afraid, Partner. You are a dragon, the Red Dragon Emperor! Even if the enemy is yourself, I will always be your ally. Face it!]

'Face what?' Noticing he was shaking, Ise asked out loud. "Why am I like this?"

Judging the question was for him, Kirei gladly replied. "Only you can tell us. What are you afraid of?" Seeing as he got everything he could from the young man, the priest relaxed and shook his head. "Better yet, who are you afraid of?"

Unable to stay on the sidelines for long Shirou asked a question of his own. "Ise, can you remember your first date?"

Kirei gave the redhead a reproaching look. "The idea is for him to realize everything on his own."

"You are here to help him do that. Not to watch him suffer with a panic attack."

"My first date?" The memory was there, clear as a crystal and Ise didn't need to think much. The smiles, the laughter, the innocent hopes, memories of a day which should be the first of many. "Raynare… she did… this to me?"

"No. You did it to yourself." Kirei pointed out.

Only for Shirou to immediately point out that, "No, you didn't do it to yourself. She hurt you."

"But his present state is born of your own fear. After all, this Raynare is dead." The priest mentioned it almost off hand while motioning for the redhead to sit back down.

He did so with a glare and silent protest even as his hand remained on his friend's back. Meanwhile the two men had a silent standoff, the young man wasn't present anymore. At least not mentally as his mind took him where his heart earned him to go.

Ise saw himself back at the abandoned church after fighting for his life but it wasn't Raynare he was seeing. "Yuuma-chan…" His fists closed with anger once more before he let out a regretful sigh. "No, Raynare… She killed me. A spear, right here." A hand still rested on his chest, just above the heart. "She was my first date, my first love."

Perhaps it was naive but Ise honestly believed that throughout that day he had fallen in love with Amano Yumma or at least the person Raynare pretended to be. Someone pure and kind that gave him the attention he craved while also being a vision of beauty which was the exact type to get his blood flowing.

Gripping his shirt tightly, he almost tore it apart but remembering they were in a pub, and especially not in the church, managed to hold back his despair. "She said she had fun, that it was special, that… a favor! She wanted to ask me… to die for her."

Then he chuckled, first weakly then loudly until it became a bitter laugh as his head slammed on the table and he pounded it weakly with his fist. Weakly for him but Shirou was still Reinforcing the table while Ddraig, realizing the delicate situation they were in, pulled Ise's power back as much as he could.

Yet nobody said anything as they heard Ise crying, Xenovia and Caren offering him pitiful looks as the latter hid her mouth with a hand. Besides the brown haired youth, Shirou and Kirei traded glances but remained silent. If things were to end then and there, neither would object to it.

But Ise was stronger than they gave him credit for and realizing what the problem was, he faced it up front. "I was nothing to her. An insect- no, less than an insect." Tears dropping from his eyes, he looked up even as his chest remained on the table. "She chose the name to kill me at the sunset, something dumb about being dramatic. That was what I was worth to her; a prop."

"You aren't wrong." Caren couldn't help but say it. "But that was to her and from what I hear, two more important people have a higher opinion of you. To them you are far more than scenery dressing."

Slowly Ise's eyes turned to Shirou and Xenovia, a silent question in his lips but both could see he was afraid to ask.

He didn't need it for Quarta to say, "Irina always talked a lot about that friend she had as a kid; Ise was so kind, so brave, always going up the tallest trees, always backing me up." An honest and gentle smile grew in her lips. "So far, I haven't been disappointed, you are brave and never abandon your friends. To me that already makes you a man of valor."

"But Raynare said-"

"She is dead." Xenovia reminded him with a harsher tone. "She is dead and you aren't. If I remember right, she died because killing you was wrong."

"It was because she was going to kill Asia." Ise said without hesitation, remembering fighting hard to punish the fallen angel for what she did. Unlocking the Boosted Gear properly thanks to his anger for that very reason. "But before that, when we were having that date, she was so nice… Did I do something-"

"Don't you dare go there!" The blue haired swordswoman basically ordered with a frown before pulling back. Looking around Ise could see nobody approved what he was about to say. "Seriously, I will stab you if you even finish that sentence."

It wasn't even a real threat but it worked and the Red Dragon Emperor just looked at her with a sad frown. "She stabbed me in the heart but I think she ripped it off too." That made Xenovia flinch a little despite it not being his intention.

He was just being factual, telling the former Exorcist how it happened. Ise knew the difference between his friend and the fallen angel. He knew very well she cared about him.

"Do you want to stop?" Kirei asked with no sympathy nor cruelty. "If you aren't in conditions to move on, we can pick this up another day."

Then Shirou offered Ise's his spoon back, having just fixed it. "There is a sunday waiting for you. If you want another one…"

"Yes, please."

Everyone ended up asking for more drinks and a cautious Neko delivered them all with a gentle nod and rub on Ise's shoulder. She had been paying attention to their table and while there was no way for the woman to know what the problem was, Ise's outburst and appearance told her enough.

The boy was a wreck with dry tears and frazzled hair but still managed to eat without trouble while sorting his own mind. Around the table there was some small talk about small things but the other four paid close attention to the Pawn.

"Do you want to go home?" Caren suddenly offered, feeling how exhausted the boy was.

After finishing his second bowl of Almighty Sunday he shook his head. "No, I think… I think I need to finish this now…" His shoulders were shaking. "Before I… Goddamned! Do Asia-chan and Irina really like me? Me? I'm me!" Ise gestured to himself with exasperation. "The pervert, the idiot. Why do they like someone like me and not you or Kiba?" He asked while pointing to Shirou.

Who looked him right in the eye and said, "That you have to ask them." He thought for a few seconds before letting out a sigh.

Then Kirei opened his mouth once again. "I will gladly inform you that what Raynare did was wrong on several levels if that will make you feel better."

The ORC members turned to him with Ise looking more stable but still confused. "I know that but-"

"I am not talking about killing you." Which surprised everyone, including Caren. "She failed to recognize your worth, abandoned her mission and didn't even make sure you would stay dead." A glare from Xenovia made him chuckle. "Not to mention you came back as a devil and got your vengeance on her. I bet that, in her last moments, she was lamenting her many, many, many blunders."

Which made Ise pause and think, "She really never cared for me, did she? It was all a trick."

"Rather obvious but if you are only realizing that now, then my job is done." Kotomine stated factually. "Whatever damage she did, only will remain so long as you let it. Time to let it go or accept a fate of mediocrity, Hyoudou Issei." When he stared at the younger man, his eyes felt like two black pools that dared him to run with fear. "After all, so long as you fear her, Raynare will always have power over you."

"Will you die for me?"

Once again those words echoed in his mind but Ise was fully conscious of them as the face of his 'first girlfriend' was stuck in his mind. With no effort the Pawn divided the face of his wannabe killer, separating Yuuma from Raynare completely in his head.

'Why can't I let her go?' Immediately he knew the answer and told everyone out loud. "It's because I thought that what we had was real. That it was special."

"Fufu." Kirei shook his head in mild disappointment before directing the word to Shirou. "Frankly, this isn't as hard as you made out to be."

Despite the cold words the redhead knew it was a sort of a joke for the older man. "For you, maybe. Sometimes I think you don't have a heart."

"Perhaps I don't." Then he directed his attention back to the conflicted Ise. "Hyoudou Issei, the reason why you thought those feelings were real was because they were. For you. Just because she lied, doesn't mean you did." The student looked at Kirei as if the man had revealed the truth of the universe. "That sentiment you held in your heart, that you hold until now, is the proof of your Humanity. That at a point in time, you hoped for a future with the woman Amano Yuuma."

'But she wasn't real.' Ise thought.

"Didn't you hear what Father Kotomine said?" Caren's question surprised the Pawn who turned to her. "It doesn't matter, she wasn't real, what matters was what you felt? Weren't those feelings real?" After a small nod, the silver haired woman said. "Which is why you must discard those feelings. Amano Yuuma never existed so there is no value in holding on to them."

Knowing she wasn't the best with words, Xenovia still said. "Maybe 'letting go' would be a better thing to say?"

The nun shrugged. "Letting go, discard. Both imply throwing something away." She focused on the devil and pointed at her own head. "The important thing is to free yourself from anything that holds you back."

"Precisely, Caren." Kirei said in agreement, opening his arms in a welcoming gesture. "To break the shackles that hold you to the illusion, that stop you from moving forward, you must discard those feelings for a fake and focus on those who are as real as your own emotions." He lowered his smile and began to chuckle. "After all, you heard Emiya Shirou and Xenovia Quarta. There are two people already interested in you whose integrity can hardly be questioned; Shidou Irina and Asia Argento."

When Ise began to blush, Shirou laughed a little and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Yeah. Aren't you lucky?"

"I don't wanna hear that from you!" Ise shot back without anger but a little envy.

Only for the redhead to hit the back of the Pawn's neck. "Hey. Forget about me, forget about the others and don't think about numbers." Because he knew exactly what the devil's problem was. "You have two pretty ladies giving you their time and attention." The Mage gave him a moment to compose himself. "Whatever else you are going to say, you can't deny that they are precious to you so don't disrespect them by treating them cheaply."

Both Xenovia and Caren nodded in affirmation, the latter saying, "Doing so to any girl is the height of stupidity."

"And a good reason to kick you in the face." Leaning over the table, the bluehead grabbed the red shirt and gave him a glare that promised a thousand hells worthy of pain. "If you dare to break Irina's heart, I will break your legs, arms and use you as my punching back for the next decade."

"I mean- I can't-" Freeing himself, Ise looked at Xenovia with a mix of caution and doubt. "Do they really-"

"God yes!" She didn't even feel bad that the devil reacted negatively at the name. If anything the former Exorcist believed that would just reinforce the message. "So stop asking and start acting."

"To be frank, Xenovia, he really is in disbelief." Caren informed the table which surprised the three ORC members.

Especially the boy in question. "How do you know that?"

The silver haired woman looked at him with an evil smile. "Because I can read your mind."

Ise and Xenovia jumped back, hugging each other, before saying at the same time. "She really can do it!" All the while the nun kept smiling 'maliciously'.

"Pft hahahaha!" Shirou couldn't help but laugh as he felt no malice and a bit of teasing from the silver haired woman. "For goodness' sake, I can see why you and Akeno get along so well."

"I have no idea what you are talking about, Shirou. We are all just having some fun." Replied the nun with a very innocent smile.

Neither Ise nor Xenovia were falling for it. "That woman is mean."

"So mean."

"And you two are so cruel." Caren dramatically placed her head on her forehead while sipping some of Shirou's tea.

Who only finally managed to control his laughter. "Oi!"

"Oh, sorry. I just finished my drink and was feeling quite parched."

Clicking his tongue, the magus let it go to focus on the other two. "Sit back down. Her ability isn't to read minds."

"Mast- I mean, Shiro, how do you know?" Still she listened to the order leaving a half depressed Ise who missed the heat of a female's body.

Raising an arm to call Neko back, he replied. "Because if it was, her reactions tonight would have been tamer, to say the least." Caren stopped drinking and noticed his smug smile. "Isn't that right? You don't read minds, you read feelings."

"... What gave it away?" Caren sounded something between impressed and frustrated.

"Whenever Ise started having… let's call it an 'episode', you made an effort to keep your face clean. Like you were feeling something." He smiled at how the woman stared at him coldly. "There, exactly like that. Sympathy only goes so far, your expression is too… real to say the least."

Kirei hummed in thought. "So while I was paying attention to Hyoudou Issei you were looking at a pretty girl? Shame on you, Emiya Shirou."

"Yeah, what was that about!" Ise complained just when Neko arrived.

"Can you please refill for everyone? Also, another sunday."

"You bet you are paying me another sunday."

The pup's owner chuckled and nodded. "Be back in a sec."

"And you, relax." Shirou said to Ise before focusing on Kotomine. "I doubt he brought Caren here just for a show and when I saw him throwing a look at her now and then, I knew there was some trick." Snapping his fingers, the Mage added. "You were using Caren's skills to gauge the best timing for Ise's emotions, to know when he was going too high or too low on some of them."

"Hmm, a good premise but incorrect approach." Kirei retorted with a smug grin of his own. "The boy is an open book, I didn't need Caren to read him-"

"Heh. Deja vu." Xenovia suddenly said with a chuckle.

"-but was paying attention to any signal that I was pushing him too far." The priest admitted, looking at Ise with a confident smile. "It was just a precaution that was unneeded since it appears Hyoudou Issei has more self control than I expected."

While the Pawn beamed with pride at the compliment, Shirou understood the reason behind that action. 'Because an angry Red Dragon Emperor is too dangerous for any city… would Ise go in Juggernaut Drive just because of his trauma? No, he is better than that.'

Yet the redhead understood the caution even if he knew Kirei hadn't minced words when exposing Ise to the trauma of his Reincarnation. Sure his tone wasn't overall hostile but it couldn't necessarily be called delicate either. But the man knew himself and came prepared with Caren to serve as a canary, just in case the mine that was Ise's patience fell.

Making Shirou wonder how ready the man really was. Not only him but the silver haired woman as well since his nose detected a faint trace of Holy coming from her.

Didn't take a genius to realize both representatives of the Church had arrived at the pub prepared for a fight and not even out of suspicion. That was, arguably, a therapy session for, again arguably, one of the most volatile beings in the known universe. Doubly so because said being was sealed inside a teenager who was the one in need of said therapy.

Nevertheless the precautions, while understandable, weren't required. "So doc? How is our resident Red Dragon Emperor? Did he get a clean bill of health?"

"God no. Not even close." Kirei's words drained every bit of Shirou's smugness while sobering up Xenovia and Ise. "While we managed to find the root of the trauma and make him confront it, it will still take many, many sessions to dig out every problem he has. Begging with the reason for his perversion. I mean, such events can unleash a deep repressed desire for-"

"Actually, Ise has always been like this." Shirou informed the priest who for the first time looked to be caught off guard.

The Pawn smiled happily, giving everyone the thumbs up. "Yeah. Always loved a nice pair of breasts. God's, ouch, finest work."

Caren took a moment to compose herself before saying, "But Irina said you weren't as much of a pervert back when she lived in town."

"We're kids. What sort of kid 's supposed to care about that stuff?" Ise asked with genuine curiosity. Then he paused to think before reflecting, "Well, I suppose if I had reincarnated from a previous life with all my memories… is that a thing?"

"The Church has no stance on such matters." Caren said automatically even if Kirei chuckled. Clearly there was more going on there and when she noticed curious looks from her younger audience, the nun let out a sigh before adding, "Old souls can reincarnate but how they do it, at least in our religion, isn't something I am privy to."

"It was always above our pay grade." Xenovia commented with a nod of understanding. She then relaxed on her chair and placed her hands behind her head. "But I figure that, you know, if God wanted he could make that happen…" She stopped short from speaking about His death.

Fortunately before anyone could dwell on it, Neko returned with their orders. "Here they are. Is everything good now?" She looked at Ise with a sympathetic look, one that made him embarrassed but warm inside. "Not ready for a bar fight, are we?"

"No, we're cool." Ise punched Shirou's shoulder who chuckled. "Just complaining about this bastard luck with women."

"Nyah? Tiger-chan never told me you were a Don Juan, Emiyan."

"And you are acting like a cat now? What are you, a nekomata?" Shirou smiled at the look of confusion on the woman while Ise and Xenovia laughed a little. "Inside joke. Don't worry about it. Just get the bill."

"Oh no she won't." Ise interrupted with a grin that Shirou knew wasn't good for him. "Since you are paying… Can I get everything on the menu? Whatever I can eat?"

"Ise, are you kidding-"

The Pawn grabbed the Mage's shoulder and whispered in his ear. "Look, unlike everybody in your house, I don't get to eat as much as I want. Hell, ever since the forest it's like I'm always running on empty." He then smiled a bit cruelly. "Besides, you dragged me for an intervention, you own me one."

That wasn't something Shirou was going to accept easily. "It was for your own good!"

"Yeah and you said I would hate you. Give me this and we'll be square."

"Hahahaha!" Kotomine let out a boisterous laugh upon hearing the argument. "Truly a devil who knows how to take advantage of the situation. You have my respect, Hyoudou Issei."

Looking around, Neko had only one doubt in her mind. "Can he even eat that much? Sure our catalog of foods is not that big but…"

"He is also including drinks." Caren pointed out with a smile.

With another grin and hands clapped together, Ise sent his best begging look to Shirou who groaned and facepalmed. "Fine, fine. But if you have a stomach ache, don't come back crying."

"Oh, does that offer apply for us too?" Caren asked without a hint of shame.

"For the love of- Yes, sure, why not? Fill yourselves up." Shirou gave up caring and Neko grinned from ear to ear as she got back to work.

"Don't worry, Shiro." Xenovia looked right in his eyes with conviction. "I will be waiting for us to get back home so I can get some real food."

"Hey, the food here is good." Ise replied, much to Neko's joy.

"Yeah, we may not be a fancy restaurant but we pride ourselves on our kitchen."

Only for the former Exorcist to nod with a harsh look. "It isn't on Shirou Standard."

At that Ise conceded but still wanted to try one of everything while the members of the church just wanted an extra drink and a small dessert.

In the end Kirei and Caren didn't have much, just a slice of cake each with the former only eating because he wasn't going to throw away the opportunity for free food while the latter wanted to taste something extra to know if she would return to the pub on a later date.

On the other hand Ise ate like a true dragon would if Tannin could be used as a reference. Apparently to kill his hunger while at home he took a small bite of his stored Dragon Apples, only getting a filling meal on the ORC. Yet he never asked for much out of embarrassment because he 'couldn't pull off Koneko's moe look when eating'.

Either way Shirou made a note he would ask Rias to stock the kitchen with extra meats and the Red Dragon Emperor looked at him with gratitude.

Gratitude that lasted until he, in the middle of his meal, asked the redhead. "Say, what should I do about Asia-chan and Irina?" Everyone turned to Ise but his eyes were looking at Shirou. "I mean, they don't love me like that right?"

"What proof do you need? For them to come at you and say it out loud?" Xenovia demanded to know.

And found herself surprised when Shirou said, "Well, not every guy is confident to approach a girl. And Ise does have his issues." He then shrugged before turning to Kirei. "What do you say mister 'I was married'. Any advice?"

The man paused pensively but Caren beat him to the punch. "His experience wouldn't help Pervert Number One. The way he met his wife has to do with his condition." She looked at Shirou knowingly. "Perhaps it would serve you but from what I see, you are already well loved."

"Did you meet his wife, Caren?" Xenovia asked and the silver haired woman hummed out loud instead of answering. "You can't just say that and leave us hanging."

"She can and she will." Kirei said with his baritone pouring amusement.

Shirou let out a sigh, scratched the back of his head while trying and failing to understand his 'evil' counterpart. Besides understanding that Caren was aware of their condition, he hadn't learned much nor could truly understand how much she really knew.

'It is like I am missing a crucial piece.' Yet his focus turned to his devil friend. "Look, I can't tell you what to do. People are different and what worked for me probably won't work for you." He saw Ise didn't like the advice. "Work yourself first if you want, just don't leave them hanging and say something."

"Like you are doing with Setsuna?" Ise asked almost sarcastically only to regret it upon seeing the pained expression on Shirou's face.

Also hearing Caren gasp from the side as she looked between the Mage of Swords and Kotomine Kirei who had a huge grin on his face. She recognized darker emotions well enough and there was plenty of self loathing on magus' mind in that moment. Enough so that to paint the whole pub inside and out if it suddenly gained form

Yet with another sigh they were gone and a calm serene peace flooded the magus being. 'I am the bone of my sword.' His Aria, the reflection of his inner self, calmed him down as Bellerophon sent positive feelings through their bond. Xenovia also held his hand, reminding him of what was important. "Ise, my situation with Setsuna… we took too long and made mistakes. I blame myself for that."

"But it isn't just your fault." His only lover present reminded him before correcting herself. "No, it's nobody's fault."

"Hehe, actually, it is kinda the contrary. It is both our faults." Shirou acknowledged sadly before sitting straight. "It can't be helped. I won't force things." Then he turned at Ise who for a second thought he was staring at a giant dragon. "But you are half right, my situation with Setsuna may bear some bearing on what can happen to you if just because either Asia or Irina may share similar thoughts… mostly Irina because she is an angel who can fall."

Giving the redhead a moment to say anything else, a moment that ended when the taller man went back to his drink, Ise lost his patience. "So, what should I do?"

Glancing at the devil, Shirou shrugged. "That is up to you and them. It isn't the same situation one to one."

"I'm confused." Ise confessed instantly.

Shirou shrugged again. "Explaining everything to you without Setsuna herself realizing what our problem is would be… not cool." Was the best euphemism he could get. "But let me put it like this; if I was with Setsuna, I probably would never get together with Rias."

Once again the confusion on the Pawn's expression was more than evident. "What do you mean? You and Buchou-"

"I am not saying anything more than that." The Mage of Sword's tone carried a steel which left no room for discussion. "Like I said, our situations aren't the same."

"Can't you just explain?"

"Literally not your business."

"Drop it, Ise." Xenovia's tone also carried steel with a hint of a warning.

"Calm down, Xenovia." Shirou held her head on his shoulder and instantly the bluehead lost all hostility. "He just wants some help but this isn't…" A light turned on above his head. "Ise, you want to be a Harem King right?"

"Wanted to be The Harem King but you beat me to it."

"Oh my~" Caren whispered jokingly, loud enough for it to be heard.

The redhead let out a snort but focused on the devil. "Then consider this your trial; if you can't have success with one girl who likes you, give up your dream."

"What- I- that isn't-" Ise remained stunned while Kirei began to chuckle. "Fine! I'll figure it out! I don't need a handsome guy like you to give me advice!"

"You sure you don't bat for the other team?" The nun asked delicately, making the devil freeze. "Because I am sure calling other men handsome is a sort of sign~"

"Ew, hell no. Just no." At least they were sure of Ise's preferences because the guy really didn't look comfortable mentioning it.

Yet even his honest reaction caught the silver haired woman's interest. "So you were just using his looks as an excuse? Do you really think Irina is that superficial?" Her golden eyes shone with mischief but the boy didn't catch that. He was too entranced for her beauty and words. "Because you aren't even half good looking enough for that to be the case."

Not even offended, Ise nodded in acceptance. "Right, I know I'm not the guy most girls go for-"

"And Irina is still interested. I can't see why so far." The silver haired woman affirmed with a shrug. "Then again we have been dealing with your traumatized self today. Wonders only can know what sort of person you will grow to be." Despite the words of consolation, her eyes still shone threateningly. "That being the case, Irina is one of the first new angels from Heaven and if you break her heart to make her fall I shall castrate you." Horror filled the devil's face. And she kept going. "Slowly, as slowly as I can without you losing your conscience. With a rusty knife bath in holy water and with the tears of the closest Saint I can find."

"If I just beat you to death with Durandal." Xenovia added without a hint of shame. "So treat her right, you hear me?"

"Of course." At that point some steel appeared on Ise's gaze. "I don't really know, or understand, what they see in me-"

"Low self esteem and other problems to be discussed in the next, more private session." Kirei cut off with a relaxed expression as he savored his coffee.

Not that the Red Dragon Emperor minded much, he already accepted his mental state wasn't the best. "Right, as I was saying, I don't know if they really love me or how I will go about this but… I like them." His words sounded hopeful but careful. "And I won't hurt them. I swear."

"Unfortunately," the priest continued speaking once his patient stopped, "intentions only go so far. Nobody knows the future or what it may bring on. Who knows? Maybe they will be the one to hurt you." Those ominous words struck a chord on Ise's and Kotomine smiled.

"You just couldn't help yourself, could you?" Shirou asked with the smallest of sighs. He wasn't surprised, the second he roped Kotomine to help he knew the priest was going to milk the situation for all it was worth.

Caren clicked her tongue when the older man present only finished his drink. "Trust me, he can't. If he could, lady Gabriel wouldn't be running around trying to put out the fires that landed us here."

"Huh, I was finding it weird they sent an Executor to take care of a small church on the other side of the planet." Xenovia commented, finally understanding the situation.

Said Executor just smiled kindly. "I can do nothing but speak the truth."

At that point everyone on the table could only look at the man with a mix of irritation and annoyance because they couldn't disagree with the words no matter how painful they really were.

The best that could be done was a change of subject. "So, if everyone has already finished eating, can I ask for the bill?" Shirou asked with some hope.

"No way in hell I'm done." Ise declared with confidence before shoving more food in his mouth. He also tried to say something else but nobody got anything besides crumbs.

"Ise, please swallow first."

Took him a minute but eventually the Pawn succeeded. "Right. Ain't you loaded?"

"No I ain't." Shirou replied with indignation. "I have money but I am not that well off. Rias pays most of our stuff and before you ask, no I said it was my treat today so it is my treat."

"Master, weren't you-"

"My money was cut short because I stopped taking commissions for swords." The redhead wouldn't let his work or copies of it kill people, after all. "Sure I still get something from being Mage of Gremory but I always insisted most of it go for materials and appliances for our home."

"Bet you are regretting that now~" Caren pointed out helpfully.

In the end, with a bit of sympathy, Ise gave in. "Can everyone wait until I finish all of this? I promise that's it."

Then received the best deadpan stare the Mage of Swords could give. "You are already eating everything you can from the menu. Unless you plan on repeating, there is nothing else."

"... Well, I'm kinda hungry…"

"... Finish your food." Even for saints, enough was enough.

Considering the Copenhagen had a generous selection of treats it took Ise half an hour to eat everything not counting what he was eating before his session ended. At that point even Neko was impressed and asked where the boy shoved everything because he shouldn't be as slim as he was.

In reality the Pawn had quite some muscle as a dragon's metabolism was one of the perks the Boosted Gear gave to its Holder. It was mostly because of the connection with Ddraig and technically anyone with a dragon type sacred gear could reach that level. They just had to bond with the dragon if there was one.

Which came naturally for the Boosted Gear with its Balance Breaker unlocked which truly gave Ise, who lived amongst dragons and spent plenty of time trying to be like them, to develop a similar appetite.

All that resulted in him eating and drinking everything non alcoholic the pub could offer, doing his best impression of Leysritt but with a little more shame. Or some shame at all. Considering the time they spent talking and eating before Ise began demolishing the pantry reserves for a grand finale it had been hours since they entered the pub.

The brown haired boy was the first one to notice if the wince after he checked his phone was any indication. "My mom is gonna kill me."

"Missed calls?" Shirou asked with sympathy as he looked around the now mostly empty street. Sure even the pub still has some clients but the majority had already gone home.

Not only in the pub but everywhere there were just a few bars open with some customers but as the night grew darker and the next day's work came calling.

"And it 's late. I never got home this late." There was some panic on the devil's tone but it was also resigned.

Caren revealed a watch on the back of her wrist. "It is barely ten."

"And I'm a highschooler, in the middle of the town on a weekday." Ise winced again as his mother called and he muted the phone. "She's going to kill me. She is going to rip my head off and then kill me."

"Sounds like a good reason for you to take up the call."

"Mom's already going to scream at me anyway, I don't wanna anyone watching that."

Leaning on Shirou's shoulder, Xenovia asked, "Does she know you have a job? We know you don't want to reveal about the moonlit world but…"

"Yeah, she does… She thinks I'm a part timer in a store…" Those words still made Ise stop and think. "I don't think I'm telling them about devils any time soon."

Kirei's baritone carried a question. "Are you afraid of rejection?"

"No and I was close to telling them but…" He began to scratch his neck. "Then I will have to tell them how I Reincarnated in the first place… about Raynare."

"Just don't tell them…" Caren offered with disbelief but the Red Dragon Emperor just shook his head. "Or, you know, lie? You do lie to people about the moonlit world, right?"

"Sure but they are my parents and I want to tell them. This…" He threw his arms up with some frustration but also a small speck of happiness. "... is my life now. I don't want them to wake up one day and see that I didn't age or just disappear when I finally have a palace with my own harem."

"Someone is optimistic." Xenovia observed with a grin.

"Which means that the intervention worked. Of course it did, he was even able to say Raynare's name out loud without flinching." Kirei pointed out only to frown when Ise actually flinched. "Don't start regressing now, Hyoudou Issei."

The Pawn raised his arms in surrender. "Am not. Am not. I can say Raynare's name just fine." Anyone paying attention could see the hard look in his eyes as Ise steeled himself to talk about the fallen angel. "It's just… you saying it caught me off guard… that's all."

With a stone-like expression on his face, Kirei leaned closer to the shorter man. "Is it? As your therapist, I must insist that you are honest with me. If you don't want to, it is fine. Also, I should provide my number so we can schedule another session… If you want to, that is."

"Yeah… it helped. We aren't coming to the pub again, are we?"

"Unfortunately not. While this environment worked to keep you comfortable this time, it isn't really recommended. While the church won't work, with you being a devil, we can ask your King for one of her Clan's properties for our use." Took a few instants but Ise ended up nodding his agreement. "Terrific. Here is my card, it has the church and my personal number. Don't touch the back, it has a cross." Kirei's warning had Ise carefully touching the sides nervously. Then he turned to Shirou. "Now, about my fee-"

Making the devil jump in surprise. "Fee? There is a fee?" Having heard horror stories of how much a therapist can cost, Ise was already sweating bullets.

Yet the Magician of Gremory wasn't surprised. "Do you take credit card or-"

"Wait, hold on. Not to sound ungrateful but shouldn't a priest do this sort of work from the good of his heart?"

Everyone else looked at each other but the most expressive ones were Kirei, who looked to be holding back a laugh, and Shirou who shook his head with mirth. The two then looked at each other and chuckled in sync, like if the Red Dragon Emperor just had told them a joke only the duo got the meaning of.

All of which gave Caren enough time to say, "A church doesn't stand just in donations, you know."

"Quite right, Caren. But even if it did, this wasn't the work of a priest." Kirei pointed out, smiling broadly. "Neither it could be since you are a devil. I believe this sort of work could be considered a… 'side hustle'. Also I should mention that I charge by the hour."

Ise's horror was plain to see. "By the hour?!"

"Of course. It is the standard for this sort of work. Or are you implying I didn't do a good job?" He was loving the conflict running through the high schooler's face, how the boy wished to challenge him but couldn't.

It wasn't out of arrogance or even to call Kotomine's work unnecessary or bad, the Pawn understood very well that without the priest pushing his buttons he may have never faced his memories.

Nor could he say to be completely free from them and in that case retaining Kirei's services was a must. Despite his distorted personality, the dark brown haired man knew how to incite the exact reactions Ise needed to face his demons. Perhaps that personality was the reason the man was that good.

Obviously he wasn't like the average therapist either and even Ise didn't know that fact for sure the Red Dragon Emperor understood that for his condition someone like Kotomine Kirei who offered little to no sympathy and was almost cruel with his words, was the best for the job.

There was just one problem in Hyoudou's mind. "I don't know if I can pay. I just spent my money on a new game. Can I get a raincheck or maybe do some work for you? Maybe clean up the church?"

That last offer actually made Kirei stop speaking. 'Hmm, how amusing would it be to have a devil working in a church? Would just the act of cleaning it harm him or perhaps he could build some tolerance.' The stream of ideas was open and he was sorely tempted to take that offer.

However there was someone fully willing to ruin his fun. "Ise, Ise. Ise, calm down!"

"I can't pay all that Shirou-"

"Relax. You aren't paying, I will-"

"I can't have you pay all that for me Shirou!" Ise believed they were good friends but not that kind of good friends.

Not a single moment did the redhead lose his calm. "But I am not paying either. Your insurance will."

The Red Dragon Emperor froze. "My what now?"

"Your insurance… health insurance to be more exact." Shirou smiled and hit his friend's back. "What? Did you think that Rias didn't have anything for you guys just in case? Magic can't fix everything… at least not our brand of magic…"

"But I have insurance?"

"It was on the contract she gave you a few days after you Reincarnated… you read the contract, didn't you?" At the embarrassed smile the brown haired boy showed everyone, the Mage facepalmed. "Seriously?"

"Seriously?" Xenovia asked in disbelief. "You were just Reincarnated by a devil and offered a contract and never bothered to read it?" If any Exorcist she grew up with heard about that, especially her mother, the bluehead was sure they would either die of laughter or kill the out of cheer principle. "Are you an idiot?"

"Forget Pervert Number One, you are from now on Dumb Dumb Number One." Caren couldn't help but say it and everyone else nodding in agreement didn't help with Ise's confidence.

"Hey! It had been some… eventful days and I was like, processing."

"That is why she told you to 'take your time'." Shirou mumbled in frustration before throwing his arms in the air. "That is it! You aren't allowed to sign anything without me, Rias or Kiba checking it up first. Us or a lawyer!"

"Why Kiba?" Xenovia asked her lover. "Thought it was Akeno who took care of this stuff."

"Because she would tease him relentlessly. Also, I am pretty sure Kiba is interested in going into Law. He certainly has the head for that." Shirou was sure of that. Then he remembered to focus on the one who had a storm of emotions thrown at him the whole night. "So yeah, don't worry about paying. The Gremory Clan's health insurance will be covering this one."

Then Ise had an idea. "... Since we ate as part of my session, couldn't we have paid the pub with it too?"

"No, that wasn't part of the treatment. Just an add on." The Mage replied calmly. "Besides, I said it was my treat so it was my treat."

"Still, a devilish idea." Caren sounded legitimately impressed. "Out of curiosity, what else does your insurance cover?"

Xenovia began to count on her fingers. "Dental, physical therapy, home insurance, car insurance and a little other stuff."

"I asked only about health insurance."

"Yeah but the Gremory Clan gives us the whole package."

"They do?" Ise asked much of the bluehead amusement.

"You seriously should ask about our contract. It is all there."

"Not exactly, they have contracts different from us." Shirou added while pointing to the blue haired woman and himself. "We get to retire. Hell, as the Magician of Gremory I get to retire the day that I have a child and they are deemed skilled enough to take my place. No Xenovia, that isn't an invitation to work on a kid now."

Everyone watched as the woman's hand dropped and she closed her mouth for a pout before folding her frustration was amusing however Kirei had to wake up early the next day so, "While that was certainly informative, about my fee-"

"HELP!"

A woman's voice cut through the night and Shirou was already running like mad in her direction before the others reacted similarly. Only Kirei paused to watch as even Caren ran towards the scream. A sigh left his lips before the priest did the same even though his pace was calm, akin to a jog.

Expectedly the Mage of Swords arrived at an alley where he caught sight of a blonde woman wearing a black school uniform trying to break free from a tall man who was wearing a similar uniform indicating they were from the same school.

That was all the redhead's mind processed before he began to approach the pair as the girl struggled against the gray haired man's superior strength. Considering he was several heads taller than her, and at least two meters tall with a considerable bulk, it wasn't hard to see why.

"Hey!" Shirou called out loud as he accelerated his pace as the two stopped to look at him. His eyes were locked on the other man's own pair which seemed to forget the girl he was holding. "Let her go!"

The taller man studied the redhead for a moment before his mouth twitched into a frown. "Come here and make me."

His gruff tone of challenge did the trick and Shirou didn't think twice before discreetly Reinforcing his body. He could hear his friends arriving behind him and even hear Caren saying something but seeing someone in danger narrowed his sight.

Plan was simple; approach the man before he could react, pressure the giant's arm hard enough for him to let go and get the girl away before really confronting the man about his attitude.

Only for all his plans to die on their tracks when he caught a glimpse of the blonde's face for the first time and almost froze. 'Altria?' Luckily for him, his mind recovered quickly so the redhead noticed that while the woman's face had a similar structure, she wasn't the reincarnation of Artoria. Her eyes were definitely the wrong color. 'Wait, she is keeping up-'

"Sorry." Her tone was legitimately apologetic as the area around her seemed to wave like if a stone had been dropped on water. Except that reality itself was shimmering as he focused on her sky blue eyes.

Whatever was happening Shirou utterly failed to fight it and as his body was dragged inside the distortion he heard the gray haired man say. "Hmph. I expected more from you, Mage of Swords."

Suddenly the redhead found himself in a completely different place, a room of some sort with a huge table in front of him. And sitting on the other side was a figure he recognized very well even if he hadn't seen the man in a year. His blond hair was combed down as he preferred and his red eyes revealed the mood of someone who just pulled off a prank.

Before any of them could say anything else the space behind Shirou began to 'shiver' and 'wave' again as the blade of Durandal cut through. "Master!"

"Emiya Shirou, I suggest you jump back." Kirei's calm voice reached him easily but the redhead didn't budge.

"Sorry but I won't. It seems I have another compromise today." His eyes focused on his friend on the other side of the table, two gold goblets appearing with a similar jar by their side. "Isn't that right, Angelo?"

The descendant of Gilgamesh chuckled and filled both cups with wine. "Sorry for dropping in like this. The goddess' vigilance was harder to fool than-"

"IF HE ISN'T LEAVING THEN I AM STAYING!" Once again they were as Xenovia's roar while pushing more power in the portal.

For a second both men thought the place was going to fall apart before Xenovia, Ise and Caren dropped inside the portal as it kept undulating behind them. None stayed on the ground for long as the former Exorcist and nun rolled to their feet while the Red Dragon Emperor raised on a crouch with the Boosted Gear ready.

"Well… that was unexpected." Angelo acknowledged with some surprise, raising his cup with a grin. "A fast reaction, Xenovia Quarta. Durandal couldn't have chosen a better owner."

The bluehead ignored the praise and pointed her sword at him, her grip above her shoulder. "Who are you and why are you trying to kidnap my Master?"

Shirou groaned when he saw Angelo's grin grow bigger, the blond saying a quick, "Congrats, your sister is going to love to hear about that."

"She doesn't mean it like that." The Mage was quick to say before Kotomine walked inside the place with a curious expression.

While the older man was focused on the portal that took them, nothing stopped him from saying, "Kuoh's records spoke of a former transfer student, possible member of the Khaos Brigade according to the devils. Someone who had contacts with Emiya Shirou's sister, and vanished without a trace." He bowed his head slightly, hand over his chest. "He was also a descendant of Gilgamesh which would technically make him the King of Heroes."

"Only through my inheritance and that is worthless if I can't do anything with it." Raising to his feet, the blond smirked. "You may call me Gilgamesh nevertheless. It is tradition in our organization to-"

"Angelo-senpai?!" Ise finally recognized the blond who glared at him. It was fine because he was glaring back. "Damn it. I still remember the beating you gave me that one time!"

"Oh~ you two share a history?" Kirei asked with a raised eyebrow, finally abandoning his study of the gate that brought them to an empty room. 'Warehouse? No, a simple house at least with how small it is. Also I didn't detect any signs of teleportation magic."

"Hell yeah I do. That bastard beat me and my friends then he delivered us to the kendo club's hands just because we escaped them."

Caren gave the pervert a deadpan stare before saying, "Considering why those girls beat you guys up I think it was probably warranted."

All grew quiet when Gilgamesh spoke again with some irritation. "Hyoudou Issei… do not interrupt me again." The man's red eyes were like orbs ready to pierce his soul. "While I tolerated your actions more than once, that day you interrupted my time with those girls. Your punishment was well deserving."

Then the blond's eyes widened in surprise when the devil got up with a retort. "Prick! If they catch us it's fair but what you did was cheating! Cheating! Especially because you were from the moonlit world already." Then he turned to Kirei to ask, "And what is this about Gilgamesh and King of Heroes shit? Is he some hot shot?"

"He is the descendent of the first Hero of Humanity whose Legend gave birth to all the others." Shirou said calmly, observing how Gilgamesh's demeanor grew calmer but cold as he observed the Red Dragon Emperor. "Because of that he has a Noble Phantasm with a ceiling of power so high nobody is sure how strong it actually is; the Gate of Babylon."

Angelo chuckled while looking at his friend. "Between my many accomplishments you can also include the defeat of the Mage of Swords." Xenovia's glare intensified but the blond raised a hand. "However, I didn't come here to fight, I was sure we parted on good terms."

"Relatively." Shirou acknowledged with a hand on his lover's arm to hold her back. Also holding himself back as he had plenty to ask.

Apparently the man was counting on that as he flicked the second goblet through the table which flew smoothly in the group's direction until it stopped in front of the redhead without wasting a single drop of wine.

"Olive branch?"

"I got this for us, to celebrate our reunion, my friend." Angelo mused as he took a sip. "Sure I wanted this to be a more private affair but then again, this makes things fair." He pointed to the side where the room's wall 'wavered' and from them two people emerged.

They were the gray haired giant and the blonde woman from the alley, still dressed in their school uniforms but both had added armor to their looks. The man had a sort of Greek armor that fully protected his chest and shoulders with pauldrons, arm bracers, boots and a bell with a sash in front of his crotch.

The woman wore an orange plate armor that was designed to be extra light matched by orange gauntlets and boots. However what kept Shirou's attention on her for a moment longer was her face, so familiar and yet so different.

She truly looked too much like Altria and Artoria yet there were minute differences the redhead could notice upon close inspection but were so small he was convinced they had to be family in some form.

All that analysis, including the liberal use of magecraft which failed to read the walls, happened in a couple of seconds and ended when the woman spoke. "Sorry for tricking you."

"Don't bother apologizing, Jeanne." The giant man spoke with a dismissive glance. "This is for his own sake."

"Oh, it is for my own sake now you guys made a small scene, the exact kind anyone knows would get a reaction to try to kidnap me?" Shirou asked sarcastically and neither of the two was repentant. Logically his eyes fell on the leader of the group. "How long?"

"Couple of weeks. Leaving you to play with devils wasn't something that bothered us but… things changed, Shirou." Angelo motioned to the chair in front of the Mage. With a sip of his wine, he added. "Also, 'try'? You are here, aren't you?"

"We will see for how long." The redhead didn't hesitate in answering.

Pausing for a moment the red eyed blond studied his friend before laughing. "Sit down, let's chat. Like old times. We will get a couple chairs for the rest." He chuckled. "Or you can make some."

"I think I will stay standing." With an irritated wave of his hand the magus sends the goblet back towards its owner. Once again not a single drop of wine was spilled. "How did you pass Medusa's eyes?"

"She doesn't know most of our agents and it was only a matter of settling a 'point' in the city and the Khaos Brigade easily gained access."

"Fuyuki's defenses were reinforced and all teleportation is heavily monitored." With two Heiresses, a goddess and the Governor General of Grigori in town, nobody was slacking in security.

Medusa's snakes were the best to monitor things day to day but to make sure nobody could get inside magically anymore, like Aphrodite, Azazel made sure their people went all out with the extra protection placing even two extra teams to monitor the spells which were empowered by the city's mana.

Yet there were certain things they couldn't account for. "Who said anything about teleportation?" That retort silenced the redhead and made the blond shrug with amusement. "Alas, while magic is heavily monitored since the Old Satan Faction crashed the Peace Talks, we used dear old planes, landed on another side of Japan and got to Fuyuki by train. In case our faces were known, makeup did the rest. Just to be safe." Pointing a thumb to the blond, he added. "She just arrived here recently for the last part of the operation. Jeanne, this is Shirou, Illya's brother. Shirou, this is Jeanne."

Jeanne did a proper curtsy with a playful smile that was similar to Akeno's. "It is a pleasure finally to meet you, Shirou-san. I heard so much of you from Illya-chan."

"I imagine…" The Mage studied her face one more time before his mind caught up with the name. "Wait, Jeanne? Like Jeanne d'Arc? Are you implying she had descendents?" Maybe a little jump in logic but that was the first historical figure with that name which came to his mind.

The woman herself giggled. "No, that isn't my case."

"She is the Inheritor of the Saint's soul." Caren said suddenly, watching the blond with wariness. Eyes landed on her and for the first time Jeanne's pair showed an emotion besides bafflement and amusement; anger, however small.

But it didn't last long as soon they were full of apathy. "A member of the Church shouldn't be here… did Georg slip?"

With his goblet finished, Angelo dropped it on the Gate. "No, that was because Quarta ripped the portal apart with Durandal." He grunted with some frustration at the implications of said event. Obviously he also planned to keep them close to his chest but besides that his focus was on the present which made him turn to Jeanne and whisper angrily. "And you shouldn't reveal who has what."

"It won't make a difference." Heracles assured him confidently. A point Gilgamesh was willing to entertain.

And a reply that was heard by the group on the other side even if they missed some of the context. The table's size was to their detriment but Shirou was curious about something else regardless. "What do you mean by 'Inheritor'?"

"It is the closest thing to reincarnation that the Church is willing to acknowledge." Explained Kirei with an expression of interest. "Even then it isn't considered a full reincarnation as she hadn't come back with memories or the personality of Joan of Arc but her capabilities and potential. She was also a part of the Church for a while under a different name…"

"Following the Hero Faction's traditions I have taken my predecessor's name as my nom de guerre… No, it is and always will be my name!" Jeanne declared strongly while staring at the members of the Church. "I am Joan of Arc, Jeanne'd Arc, the Maid of Orleans and I am here to enact Justice since the Lord is no longer with us."

Xenovia gave the woman a look of admiration at being in the presence of a Saint even if with some disbelief while Caren just stared at her somberly. Ise couldn't make heads or tails what was going on and even if Shirou understood what the woman was saying, he held his opinions close to his chest.

Only Kirei showed a proper reaction by lowering his head with a hand on his chest. "As you wish, Jeanne. I shall inform the Church that you took a side in this conflict."

"Why are you even with the Church? Why any of you? They, who lie about the survival of God? They, who use His name in vain and to commit many sinful acts?" She focused on Xenovia who felt sadness and compassion in her gaze. "At least one of you had enough sense to leave. Wonder how many tried upon hearing the truth," she glared at the priest and nun, "and were erased in the attempt."

"And how do you know that God is dead?" Kirei asked with more curiosity than surprise. "From what I recall, despite your standing and position, you never reached high enough to hear such damning information."

Jeanne's smile grew even sadder. "Obviously because I never heard His voice."

"To lose your faith because God was too busy to give His attention. Never thought that the Maid of Orleans was such a flimsy woman." Caren stated coldly.

"But He is dead and all you follow is a lie."

"Not a lie, never a lie." In that moment Shirou and Ise stared at the silver haired woman with respect while Xenovia nodded in understanding and agreement.

A click of someone's tongue stopped the retort. "We aren't here for the nun but for Illya's brother so stop wasting time with them." Jeanne pouted but it was for naught.

Contrary to her fellow blond who laughed. "Haha! A good reminder, Herc." Angelo waved in his direction. "Why don't you introduce yourself since you are Illya's silent protector?" At the grunt he got in response the man chuckled again. "Hey, Shirou, this one is your sister's bodyguard who came here to personally escort you to her. Say hi to Heracles, descendent of the most famous Bastard of Zeus."

"That one I believe." The Mage acknowledged it easily. "Speaking of the devil…" Shirou made a show of looking around before focusing on Angelo with a piercing gaze. "Where is my sister?" By his tone, he didn't expect her to be around.

And wasn't disappointed as Jeanne smiled gently. "She mentioned something about you tying her up and dragging her home to confront her parents because of one of her… side projects."

"The mantles used by our 'allies' during the Peace Talks, yes." Gilgamesh said with a malicious smile, revealing that knowledge to Ise and the members of the Church who had no idea of Einzebern's contribution.

But Xenovia did and almost attacked then and there. "You bastard-"

"Don't." Shirou held her back with a word, his eyes studying his friend. "You think revealing that will stop me from protecting her?"

Before replying the blond relaxed on his chair and played with the wine. "I think revealing that will push you off the fence. You can't collaborate with devils and stay with Humanity, Shirou."

Already knowing where the conversation was going, the redhead still chose to indulge in it. "You talk like they are that different from us."

"Oh, but they are."

"They are creatures that need to be purged." Heracles said out loud.

And Jeanne was nodding right by his side. "They were created by evil to do evil, Shirou-san. Such creatures shouldn't exist in the first place." Her eyes moved towards Caren with mild hostility. "Before you could at least say that the Church had the best intentions while fighting those sorts of creatures. I am glad I left it now."

"Do you truly believe the Lord would approve the promulgation of suffering? Of war?" The nun asked defiantly.

"He did when first working to eliminate that plague from the face of the Earth and paid the ultimate price for it. As it is, the Church is spitting on His sacrifice."

"I was speaking with my friend, the reason for our visit." Gilgamesh interrupted before the debate could keep going and pure pressure filled the room as his red eyes jumped between both women. "I indulged you a little but that doesn't mean I will allow you two to keep interrupting us."

'He is going to kill me.' Caren tried to step back as the man's gaze focused on her but found her feet stuck in place. 'He is going to kill me. He is going to kill me. He's going to kill me. He's going to kill me. He'sgoingtokillme.'

Only for the pressure to vanish as Shirou slammed his hand on the table and caught the man's attention. "Stop throwing your killing intent around like candy if you want to talk. That isn't for polite conversation." There was a hint of warning on the redhead's tone but Caren, Xenovia and Ise found themselves feeling better because of it. "You wanted me here? Here I am. But my sister isn't and considering everything, that is enough reason for us to leave."

He Traced Muramasa, the sword that Gilgamesh knew, and began to focus mana around it while watching for any reaction. He got some when both Jeanne and Heracles raised their arms and got ready to fight, the blonde summoning a sword while the giant's body was covered by an unknown aura.

Making Angelo growl in 'good natured' frustration. "Fools, you just revealed your cards."

"But he-"

"Jeanne, throwing the first punch isn't his style." Gilgamesh smiled with a feral grin. "Isn't that right, my friend?"

Shirou's eyes had already finished processing the sword on Jeanne's hand, a rapier with a flower-like grip. 'Blade Blacksmith… a sacred gear.' By Heracles' aura he deduced the man had one as well. "I would prefer to settle things peacefully if possible…" Despite that his free hand was in his pocket trying to activate the magic circle within. 'No response… interference or something else?'

"Is keeping things peaceful even possible at this point?" Kirei asked out loud before bowing his head. "Apologies for interrupting your conversation once again, your majesty, but it is my belief you two should put your cards on the table so we may move to the next event."

First Gilgamesh stared at the priest with amusement before laughing out loud. "Bwahahaha! You are acting like the result of this conversation is already predetermined!"

"Not that I wish to pretend to know more than your royal highness but, isn't it?" His amusement matched the blond's but it still held a tone of deference. "I may not know much about your highness but I have come to know Emiya Shirou enough over the last few weeks." Glancing at the Mage for an instant, the priest's eyes returned to the descendent of Gilgamesh to avoid showing disrespect. "And from my point of view, I doubt you can give a single argument that will convince this man to abandon those he considers allies. The end result? A fight will undoubtedly break out."

"Hahahaha! True, true. I thought as much." Gilgamesh pointed at the priest, amusement pouring from his being. "I like you. Either you would make an invaluable advisor or the most comedic of jesters! Tell me, what is your name? I will give you the honor of hearing it!"

Despite being essentially called a clown, Kirei bowed once again with deference. "High praise, your majesty. My name is Kotomine Kirei, at your service."

"Well said, Kotomine Kirei! Hahaha! Although I am not truly the King, I thank you for such respect! Cheers to that!" He swallowed a huge gulp of his wine.

'The fuck is going on here?' Ise asked but for the first time in a while Ddraig didn't immediately answer his question. The dragon could see the puzzle and identify the pieces but failed to understand the whole picture.

However others already had a clear sight of what it was, including the Mage of Swords. 'This is…' But before moving along with the 'game' he had a more pertinent question and took a deep breath before asking. "So, how are they? Illya and Sella?" Jeanne blinked with surprise as Heracles allowed his aura to dissipate and studied the magus. Angelo just smiled as things were happening as he expected. "Is my sister eating well? Taking enough breaks? She can get… downward obsessive if no one is taking care of her."

"Tell me about it." The gray haired man massaged his neck, feeling years worth of stress. "When I became her bodyguard I thought it would be covering for her on the field when she left for her research, not being her babysitter when Sella also gets too involved in it."

"So Sella is working with you like that too huh…" A chuckle escaped Shirou's lips.

"Yes, even if she is more of a secretary, she is the one coordinating Illya's resources and organizing her students."

The Mage's head jumped to look at the man's eyes so fast that it almost escaped his neck. "What the fuck? Students? Illya has students? Good God! What did they do to get her to teach them? Sold their soul?"

"Sounds right."

"Pretty much."

"The Lord may be dead but the devil has a new name."

Xenovia blinked and looked back when Ise tapped her shoulder. "Isn't this a bit too… casual? We were kidnaped." He whispered hastily.

It was Kirei who answered with an amused smile. "Ever heard the expression 'calm before the storm'?"

"He is right." The former Exorcist held Durandal tightly. "But it is also an opportunity to fish for information about Shiro's sister."

"I see…" Whatever his feelings about being part of the Khaos Brigade at least Shirou could hear the tenderness in the trio's voices. He let out a breath he didn't know he was holding. "That is good, I suppose."

It was already bad enough that his sister was part of a terrorist organization and Shirou lost many nights thinking about that. About finding her and dragging her back home tooth and nail if it ever came to it. In reality Shirou already made up his mind that if he found her location he would go there regardless of the consequences.

He knew his parents would be behind him completely, even more anxious to attack such a location than him. And couldn't blame them as the three wanted nothing more than to find wherever the Khaos Brigade was hiding and take Illya and Sella away to safety.

At least hearing that she was being treated well took a weight off his shoulders but which was quickly replaced by another concern. 'She really believes that what they are doing is right.' He swallowed dry in his throat as the implications weren't good.

'That is right, Shirou, Illya is definitively on our side. No tricks, no blackmail.' The trio's leader knew his friend understood what wasn't being said but still needed time to consider everything, to adjust. Unfortunately Angelo wasn't interested in giving him any more time to dwell in such thoughts. "I heard," the descendant of Gilgamesh started with a smug air, "that you stopped making swords for the Gremory and devils in general. Well done."

Clearly it was something he planned to use in his arguments. "Some people were copying my work. Using it to harm innocents and commit other crimes." Shirou made sure to place heavy emphasis on the words 'innocents' and 'crimes'.

"Doesn't change the fact that you aren't trusting devils."

"No subtlety at all there." Ise thought only to notice that several eyes landed on him. "I said it out loud, didn't I?"

"Where is the lie?" Gilgamesh asked with fake confusion after holding back his temper. Instead he used the opportunity to hammer out some truths. "The facts were that weapons were sold for profit and the devils didn't have a good hold on them." He smiled with fake kindness. "I heard it was even a Gremory behind it all."

"A bad apple, that was all." Shirou said swiftly, wishing to move on from the subject.

Which his friend wouldn't allow so easily. "Bad enough to spoil a bunch. Have you ever thought that devils are designed to do just that?"

"That premise is flawed, they were able to make peace, build a society and stop their own civil war without outside interference." It was a discussion they had before and he could see the blond rolling his eyes. "You can't deny their accomplishments because it is convenient, Angelo."

"Nor can I accept their continuous interference with human affairs. Much of our economy is tied to business they own and almost if not all governments in the planet have a Pact or another. If not with them… then with gods." His tone was neutral but there was a hint of annoyance.

That was new. "Gods had always been around. If humans-"

"Save the egg and the chicken argument. Gaia was around first and She is asleep. Why can't the other gods just do the same? Or better yet become Divine Spirits by doing the same?" A confident smile grew in his lips, one that carried an image of that future. "That way they could exist but no longer interfere, freeing Humanity once and for all."

"Wasn't your ancestor who allowed this to happen? Are you saying Gilgamesh was wrong?" Considering the King of Heroes left instructions for Humanity and made sure the gods played 'nice'. And with Human History, that was a lot to say.

"Perhaps he was wrong. A mistake made out of a misguided belief or lack of information. And so it is my duty to correct that mistake." By the steel in his voice it was clear that wasn't an avenue to change Angelo's mind. Self assurance poured from his being like an aura greater than his power. "He may have needed to do that to save the World but after the White Titan was dealt with he should have eliminated the gods and everything similar. Or, at the very least, lock them away for good."

"That would be a tall order, even for Gilgamesh… By the time Sefar was defeated, several gods had already recovered their powers and wouldn't disappear without another fight." The Mage could see the other man nod but there wasn't even a hint of interest. It was all already known information anyway. "Also it sounds stupid to ask even the King of Heroes to continue a war when everyone just had worked together to defeat the White Titan…" Hollow, that was how the argument sounded to said heroes descendant. Worse yet, Shirou saw few to no openings and decided to move on to the present. "... How long have you been spying on me?"

Immediately Angelo looked hesitant, taking a sip of wine to hide his expression. "Spying isn't accurate. Monitoring would be the better word." Yet his red eyes held no shame. "All we did was infiltrate a few agents on Fuyuki to keep an eye in your position, just in case."

Then Jeanne stepped forward to continue. "Between the several devils, the nekomatas and others, we couldn't exactly get close to your home and make contact." She sounded familiar with all that such operation entailed. It was easy for the group to deduce she may have led it. "Keeping our distance and just watching from afar was safer anyway and nobody noticed us. Not like they had any reason too, it was mostly doing nothing and looking at windows. Almost a vacation…"

"... What about a simple phone call?" Shirou asked half sarcastically. "And let me guess, my sister didn't bother stepping in Fuyuki either since the last time she was here."

"Illya is busy." Heracles said with a half growl. "Very busy. Unlike you, your sister is working hard to secure the safety of Humanity. You should be proud."

"I will be proud if what she is about to do doesn't lead to any deaths."

The giant gave out a simple, "Hmph," and stepped back, not intending to say anything else.

Yet Jeanne had something to say to him. "I don't know what you are complaining about, Herc. You weren't the one who had to wait a whole week for something to happen."

"Hahaha! That is not fair with Heracles, Jeanne." Gilgamesh said after another sip of wine. "He isn't exactly inconspicuous, you know?" With his over two meters of height and gray hair that was just stating the obvious.

Didn't stop Jeanne from retorting. "And you think blondes are common in Japan? I had to use a wig everytime I had to go out so the goddess didn't notice me. Those things are hot in the summer!"

"Actually, blondes are quite common in Fuyuki…" Xenovia pointed out with a raised hand. "Lots of colors too. I think just in Kuoh we have, what, twenty blondes or so?"

"More or less." Caren tried to remember the photos of every student. "Not to mention blue hair," she pointed to the former Exorcist before pointing to herself, "and silver." She smiled at Jeanne's despondent face. "It seems you played yourself, especially since, like you said, lady Medusa had no means of knowing about you."

Shirou definitively didn't share her amusement. "It probably helped that I never bothered to change my routes or cars like a real VIP would. Not that anyone was expecting this to happen." His tone was flat but simple and quickly Gilgamesh's face grew as stone cold as his. "So you all saw that I was deviating from my route today, with little security to boot. An opportunity too good to pass up."

"Hehe. You make it sound like it was easy." Gilgamesh slammed his goblet on the table, a look of annoyance on his face. "We had to prepare several points in the city and be ready to move. Bet Jeanne here was starting to go gray as well and she had only been in town for a week."

"Coordinating the whole thing was soooooo annoying." The new Maid of Orleans replied, basically confirming she was leading the operation.

"These 'points'... were they traps?" Shirou asked with legitimate interest as he gave up trying to activate the magic circle in his pocket. Mana was a commodity in that situation and he would need all of it.

"Heh, correct. Although I doubt you can guess exactly how we did it-"

"Oh, I can't. He can." The Mage's thumb was pointing to the only priest present who was quick to chuckle.

"My oh my, what makes you think I have any idea how they pulled this off?" Kirei asked, clearly entertained as he pulled the chair that was reserved for Shirou and sat down.

"Because you have stopped studying the walls, were paying as much attention to this conversation as I was and then, suddenly, had an expression of 'eureka' for a second before settling in your usual scheming mug."

"My 'usual scheming mug'? What does having a 'scheming mug' entails?"

"That you are planning something nasty and already knew how they set up this trap. You probably have a plan to escape this place if the opportunity presents itself."

From the other side of the table they heard Jeanne comment, "I was paying close attention to his face, it didn't change."

Gilgamesh waved her off, leaning forward with interest. "If Shirou is saying that man figured something out, I believe him. My friend is incapable of lying." He chuckled later before laughing out loud. "But that is pointless! No matter how skilled Kotomine Kirei is, I doubt he can figure everything out so fast."

"I bet every dime of pocket money I have that he did and he knows how to escape." Shirou's words sounded challenging but his expression was mostly blank. He was fishing.

And the bait was taken. "Then I take that bet, my friend. Tell us, Kotomine, how did we do it? How did we drag you all to this space without teleportation magic which is connected to several points in Fuyuki?!"

Humbly the priest lowered his head before immediately replying. "By using Dimension Lost." The three members of the Heroic Faction froze in place. "It seems I am correct." Kirei made a show of looking around with a smirk. "The question is if this is a Balance Breaker situation or just a normal manifestation. Depending on that, an escape route is surely possible."

"Are you sure it is a Longinus?" Caren asked suddenly while looking around with new eyes.

"What the hell is Dimension Lost?" Ise asked next, getting a look from Caren. "Yeah, I heard that it was a Longinus but-"

"Dimensional Lost is judged as the strongest barrier sacred gear with the ability of creating spaces and dimensions as its owner's desire." Kirei began to explain, his tone a little smug as he enjoyed the pained look on Jeanne's face. Of the three, hers was the easiest to read but even Heracles couldn't fully hide his annoyance. "Once enacted, the Dimension Lost user can create or isolate a space and then mold it as they wish."

"But Dimension Lost leaves a mist behind separating the boundaries." Caren supplied the discussion. "There was no trail at all."

"Elementary, Caren. As with any sacred gear, Dimension Lost must have evolved." Kirei replied playfully. "Sure enough, the user also had plenty of time to set up connection points for when it was activated. Didn't you hear how Gilgamesh claimed they have been preparing for a while." He pointed to the blond who had been watching with a grin. "Certainly the right spells could keep the 'gateways' inactive and hidden from even a goddess' senses, especially if they need the sacred gear active to work. That also would imply the user is a magician, and quite a skilled one, since only he would be able to cast said spells in his Longinus without suffering any blow back." Delight filled his veins at the horror draw on Jeanne and Heracles' faces, the latter finally cracking and revealing his emotions. "The only thing that is left to know is if we are just on Dimension Lost or in its Balance Breaker?"

"The difference?" Shirou asked, his eyes stuck on the other side of the table as much as the priest's.

Even he took some joy on seeing an opponent's plans being dismantled yet his concern was on the pure amusement in his friend's face. Angelo truly incorporated the King whose blood he descended, fully in control of his emotions and the situation. Yet, intentionally or not, Kirei threatened to take that control away.

And he was still grinning.

"The difference, Emiya Shirou, is that an evolved Dimension Lost wouldn't need its owner inside it to be sustained. At least according to the Church's records." He said calmly, his voice capturing everyone's attention. "Ah, but we can't know for sure. Every sacred gear user evolves at their own manner and pace. Their emotions are their own." But by his tone he was confident of it. "However, if I had the power to create a world, I would certainly want to leave it once in a while to allow it to flourish without interference or just doing other important tasks. On that hand, if a Balance Breaker hasn't been reached, Dimension Lost's limitation is the presence of its user."

"In other words, the place can't stay up if the owner isn't around." Shirou concluded the train of thought. "Well?" He asked Angelo, blank expression still in place.

The blond from his part drowned the last of his wine before throwing the goblet inside the Gate of Babylon. From it he also retrieved something with a smooth motion as the object appeared on his hand before sliding through the table towards the other side. His friend easily caught it before it could fall from the table.

"And this is?"

"Pocket change." He lost a bet, after all.

"Is that gold? Real gold?" Ise was doing his best to hold back his voice but he was just the first to voice his shock as Xenovia and Caren were also observing the gold bar with wide eyes.

And it was a gold bar, a small one and the size of a baby's hand but a pure gold bar nonetheless. "How does someone call gold like that pocket change?" Asked the nun in disbelief.

"Master, is it real?" The bluehead asked just to be sure. "I mean, I know that the 'bet' was more of a joke but-"

"Screw joke! I agree with Caren-san! That can't be called 'pocket change'!" Ise complained.

It wasn't even about the gold itself but the fact Gilgamesh just threw it around like it truly was worthless. That bar alone could be worth a few hundred dollars, perhaps even thousands as far as any of them was aware.

Sure enough none of the three knew how to value gold or how much a small bar could actually be worth but their imaginations were running wild because a single fact remained true; that small bar was worth way more than any realistic 'pocket change'.

In fact, common sense would call that anything but pocket change.

Without being phased Shirou just flicked it in Kirei's direction. "Your fee."

"Mmh. You didn't even use magecraft on it…" A little weighting on his hand and the priest knew the bar was truly valuable if made of pure gold. "Supposing that it is real, it does cover the first session."

"I swear to you in the name of King Gilgamesh that gold is 100% real." Angelo declared with a firm tone of voice.

His friend nodded in response. "Then it is real." The Mage assured with certainty.

"Heeeeeey, Kirei-san… can't you give us a little discount for the next one?" Ise asked, completely forgetting where they were. "You know… since it is pure gold?"

"No."

Tears began to fall from the Pawn's eyes. "For some reason I knew you were going to say that." A gentle hand patted his back sympathetically.

It was Caren. "You are starting to get to know him. Trust me, it gets worse."

"... Can I get another therapist?"

"No." Shirou cut that off half in annoyance for Ise didn't understand how serious the situation was and because he lost all patience with the charade. From the look on Angelo's eyes, the redhead judged his friend felt pretty much the same. "I suppose I can only ask… why now? Illya and you have left Fuyuki for quite a while," his tone was a little bitter, "and last time you were here, you didn't bother to help when Shinji went on a rampage…"

"Shirou, don't be naive, we have been acting this whole time." Gilgamesh replied with all the severity of a man ordering an execution. "Years of work had come and gone, plans made and discarded even before your sister and I joined the Hero Faction. The war, never ending and the ideas always pouring."

"You aren't in a war."

"We are always at war and have been since men stopped being monks. So long as there are those who try to enslave Humanity, the Hero Faction will always stand against them. That was the principle it was founded on many centuries ago."

"And where does this imply joining with the Khaos Brigade? To join Ophis? Or work with the Old Satan Faction, a real terrorist organization? Sure, we can use semantics and argue that the Hero Faction has been sitting on its thumbs for the most part but your allies want to ruin peace for everybody."

A hand was raised just as Heracles was about to talk. "They only sought to kill other devils, not our department. We seek the interests of humans." Gilgamesh's expression was as cold as the Arctic. "We already had this debate, Shirou. Even if they look like us-"

"Are you saying Ise is less human because he Reincarnated as a devil? Because he had to Reincarnate or die?" The Pawn nodded at Shirou's words with resolve behind his gaze. "You met him before, you can't deny he was human then and he still is. Same pervert as ever, just a little wiser and more brave."

Everyone could see the Pawn smiling at the complements while nodding along at every word, including his flaws. Personality wise the brown haired youth would admit he hadn't changed much even if his experiences made him stronger. Especially the part about being a pervert, that was a badge he wore proudly.

Something filled Angelo's gaze, an emotion closer to regret. "Dead by a fallen angel and resurrected by a devil without consent because of his sacred gear."

"Hey, Buchou didn't even know-"

Red eyes silenced the devil before words could. "Doesn't change the fact that she benefited from your Reincarnation, Red Dragon Emperor." Gilgamesh let out a sigh. "However I suppose I also bear the responsibility for that event. It was my mistake that allowed it to happen."

"'Your mistake'?" Shirou asked directly, not willing to let the blond to deflect.

Acceptance poured from Angelo. "I should have perceived his sacred gear the first time we met. It was my lack of insight that allowed the fallen angel to take his life and drag him to the moonlit world." He focused his eyes completely on the Pawn. "For that I apologize, Issei."

"Want to apologize for something? Try the beating you gave me!" Ise roared, indignation. "Buchou saved my life! And you know what? I'm happy that I'm a devil! Better than when I wasn't one!"

"How can you know?" Jeanne asked with a mix of curiosity and compassion as if she talked to a child. "How can you be sure? Your life was stolen and you had no idea why. Now you live in a World more dangerous than you imagine."

"The world was always dangerous." Xenovia's eyes shone full of resolve. "Just because the people don't know, it doesn't stop being dangerous. At least we can fight back. Most aren't so lucky."

"You call it luck?" The Inheritor of the Maid of Orleans sounded disgusted.

Yet the blue haired woman nodded. "Like I said, we can see the danger and we can stand against it for those who can't."

"That is what heroes do." Heracles commented with his arms crossed.

"But nobody can save everyone." Jeanne said firmly, her eyes locked on Xenovia. "And the reminder that the darkness can come and claim them at any time… normal people shouldn't live with it."

"They don't. Nobody here can be called normal." Caren shrugged with a smile. "I know I can't."

A moment of silence filled the room as people looked at each other. Only two people didn't bother to move and glared at the other side of the table. Shirou and Angelo's talk got sidetracked but both ignored everything else and focused on what should happen next.

Surprisingly the blond was the one trying to find a more peaceful route while the redhead waited for the fight to start. And there would be a fight, Emiya knew that for sure and mana was already subtlety being gathered on his Gift. He was doing it calmly so when calling forth for his armor the man wouldn't have a drop of mana spent.

Muramasa also stayed ready by his side, a threat if Gilgamesh ever saw any as his mind ran several scenarios where that blade delivered the first blow. Where it claimed first blood even if it wasn't his.

But he knew Shirou, proudly called the redhead his friend, and so Angelo knew that in any realistic scenario, the Mage of Swords wouldn't attack until he truly felt threatened giving the Hero Faction's leader space to argue.

"Back to your original question, the reason why we are acting now," Gilgamesh tapped his fingers at the table, Jeanne and Heracles standing straight, "your life is in danger. Better saying, it will be in danger in the very near future."

A brow was raised before a sarcastic reply. "My life's in danger right now. Look around, this is a kidnapping in the works." Then Shirou grew serious again. "Jokes aside, plenty of people probably want my head, either for being the Magician of Gremory or the Magus Killer's son. Illya must have told you our father has enemies."

"Yes, but there are those that you can fight against and those that you can't. This is more the latter case." Angelo folded his hands under his chin, his eyes growing sharper. "It would be worse because you could end up dead just for being in the crossfire of the Underworld's politics."

"Ah, the Old Satan Faction. Your allies, by the way." Shirou folded his arms, staring at his friends completely unimpressed.

"They aren't our allies." Gilgamesh revealed a vicious smile. "Just means to an end."

"Which would be?"

Shirou wasn't surprised when Angelo opened his arms invitingly. "Join the Hero Faction and I will tell you. Better yet, Illya will do it. She is the brains after all." Leaning forward with excitement he continued. "Have you any idea what she is about to accomplish? After thousands of years under the yoke of gods and devils, Illya is about to uncover the power to level the playing field. No, to completely flip the board in our favor!"

"Something that sacred gears have been doing for centuries. Not to mention, Noble Phantasms. You should know, you have hundreds of them. Unless you were just boasting about your family's dedication." It was an empty challenge and both of them knew it;

In their fight Gilgamesh didn't use his best treasures saved for the one he knew Shirou couldn't understand even through his Structural Analysis. Just in terms of raw power those weapons alone would make the blond one of if not the most dangerous individual on the planet.

Between the Gate of Babylon and Enki, the Sword of the End, the man was already more armed than most countries.

He dared to not think about Azazel's warnings of the weapon the Original Gilgamesh hid in his vault.

Ea, the Sword of Rupture.

"Be as it may," yet the man persisted with a veneer of humility where Shirou knew there wasn't really none, "as I am now I can't defeat a god… or better yet, I can't defeat any god worth defeating. That will change and it will be soon." He scoffed mildly annoyed. "But not soon enough and the Old Satan Faction managed to secure enough resources to move first."

"Despite the sabotage."

Gilgamesh nodded at his friend's observation. "Despite the sabotage." It was an obvious truth that the Khaos Brigade was a hydra biting its own necks so he saw no problem in admitting it openly. "We really didn't try much though."

"Because their plans aren't going to affect humans." Kirei quickly lowered his head apologetically. "Forgive me for my rudeness and for stepping out of bounds once again, your majesty."

The hero's descendant waved off. "It is fine. You actually said something useful." For he wouldn't silence the truth even as Shirou began to glare at him. "Yes, Kotomine is correct, the main reason why we aren't moving against the Old Satan Faction is because they plan to deliver a crippling blow to the Underworld's new regime."

"Our enemies." Heracles emphasized and that time Gilgamesh's glare grew so hot that it could burn with just a glance. "Sorry."

"So you still don't care about the innocent lives that are about to be lost." Shirou interrupted before the blond could say anything else, red eyes turning back to the magus' gold par. "All this violence for a… strategy, is it? No matter how many women and children will die?"

"I understand your sympathy, I don't agree with it, but I understand. They do look human." Gilgamesh's descendant mused rather coldly. "But they are not and one day, we will fight against them. Soon we will purge or exile them forever to the Underworld. No matter which side wins their war, we will emerge on top." He shrugged. "This is just making the job easier for us."

"But the Maous already won the civil war." Ise pointed out. "They already beat those guys, right? And before, when they attacked the school, Azazel sent them packing."

"True enough." Gilgamesh said with acknowledgement even if his eyes never left his friend. "But that was a foolish maneuver born out of opportunity and lacking the proper desperation. This time they are going to be prepared and properly desperate."

"What exactly aren't you telling us?" Shirou asked bluntly but his friend just leaned back on his chair. "Angelo…"

"... Once you join, I will tell you everything we know. After we have you tied in a room that will stop you from just breaking out to warn the devils." Gilgamesh said factually, also treating that as an inevitable conclusion. "Not before." He smiled honestly even if dangerously. "I am not in the habit of underestimating an Emiya, Shirou."

A little humor escaped the redhead. "Heh, dad will be proud of that." But quickly vanished under the weight of what his friend and adversary was saying. "However, Ise has a point; Azazel and Michael have beaten back the Old Satan Faction before. If they attack the Underworld, all Maous and loyal Pillars will be there."

"Who said anything about attacking the Underworld?" Gilgamesh asked with good humor.

"Where else? Here in Fuyuki? You said I would be in danger because of the crossfire." Shirou could only think of one event for said attack. "The tournament."

Tapping his finger on the table, the blond chuckled. "Maybe. Maybe not." Yet he refused to say more. "Either way, your life is in peril and we, your sister and I, agree that the time of playing house with devils is over."

"So you are here to take me by force."

"It doesn't need to be by force. Also your bodyguard can come too. Both Xenovia Quarta and Leysritt even if your sister doesn't want her there." Gilgamesh commented while pointing his thumb towards the bluehead.

Who gave him a deadpan stare before turning to the magus. "I can already feel the love of your family, Shiro."

"You think my father is bad? My sister is daddy's little girl."

Jeanne hid her mouth with a hand. "Hehehe. Illya-chan never told us that."

"Hahahaha! Considering she brags about everything else, I wonder why!" Gilgamesh laughed a little and even Heracles couldn't hide his smile.

But Shirou never lost his focus. "Prepared or not, unless they suddenly have someone stronger than Vali, I don't think I have much to worry about." The Mage said confidently.

For the first time Gilgamesh looked nervous. "The Old Satan Faction has been acting differently these days. Very differently." The man sounded a mix between cautious and confused. "It is almost like Rizevim isn't in charge anymore… His movements are less erratic, more focused." Red eyes grew even sharper. "That devil is still around and calling the shots but much less lenient. Before it was like he wasn't taking anything serious, like all was a game… Perhaps it was."

"I am sure Altria and Le Fay told you about our spies." Heracles suddenly said, earning a glare from Gilgamesh. That time he didn't back down. "Every part of the Khaos Brigade has a spy or two in the others' camp."

"And ours in the Old Satan Faction were silenced or killed." Jeanne concluded solemnly. She didn't lose friends but a few of them were traumatized and the Hero Faction had a few missing members.

They couldn't even call the Old Satan Faction on it as the only justice in the Khaos Brigade rested on the only figure of authority they all shared, Ophis. And the Ouroboros Dragon didn't care for their squabbles, only for results and so long those held the promise that the Great Red would be destroyed.

Much to Gilgamesh's chagrin but the man was patient. 'Ophis time will come.' He swore to himself when remembering his subordinates' deaths. "Many strange things have been happening around the Old Satan Faction… they even stopped pestering Vali for help."

"They stopped trying to get Lucifer's great grandson on their side?" That caught Shirou's attention because it was very odd. Several old devils placed stock in blood.

And Vali was strong, monstrously strong. Strong enough that despite his enmity with Rizevim, several parts of the Old Satan Faction still wanted him as their ally. They trusted their back to him back in Kuoh and to be fair the White Dragon Emperor delivered. Until Shirou beat him and at that point nobody would blame the Hybrid for retreating.

"Indeed." A pleasant smile grew on Gilgamesh's face. "I heard it from Altria when we crossed paths. She was quite adamant that the Old Satan Faction was suddenly trying to keep its distance." His smile grew at seeing his friend's discomfort. "She was also livid with how you 'defeated' her."

"Do you two talk often or something?" Shirou tried to sound nonchalant but his posture was defensive, avoiding the other man's eye.

"Kukuku, whenever it strikes my fancy." Gilgamesh sounded a bit too smug for the redhead's tastes.

But he was quick to bury his irritation and focus on the matter at hand. "So what? They stopped talking to Vali and tightened their security. That sounds normal since they are planning a big operation and Vali is untrustworthy at best." The magus would freely admit to still dislike the Hybrid.

Much to his friend's amusement despite it not lasting for long. "That means they have someone better now, stronger. Maybe." Gilgamesh had to admit the uncertainty of such a possibility. "Regardless they are going to make a big play soon enough, that much is certain."

"In the next round or the finals of the tournament?" Shirou asked swiftly, trying to get any other piece of intel.

Which Gilgamesh wasn't willing to give. "You aren't warning the Underworld." He reiterated glancing between the redhead and his companions. "Whoever wins will be weaker and give us more space to succeed in our operations. We have only to gain if the Underworld Civil War is reignited."

The atmosphere grew heavier as Shirou glared at Gilgamesh. "Thousands will die."

"Probably more. Maybe millions even if the fighting just stays in the Underworld." The blond spoke clearly and without hesitation. "And if they expand to our world, we can neutralize their allies or convince them that this fight isn't theirs to take. Either way, the devil threat will be eliminated without us doing anything."

Ise was about to shout in anger but the redhead's arm stopped the Pawn. Unlike the others Shirou could see his friend's demeanor had changed and he was like a lion who was disturbed from his nap. The time for conversation was almost at an end that would always reach.

Despite how much Shirou didn't want it to end like that. "Don't you call yourselves heroes?!" His tone and eyes were sharp but he could see they had little effect. "You're talking about a war you can stop."

"Actually, I am talking about two and can't stop either." Gilgamesh raised his two hands, both indicators up. "The war between devils and our war against those who can destroy Humanity."

"They aren't destroying Humanity! The days we feared the gods are over!"

"They aren't over! Not when they notice Humanity is at their mercy! God is dead and the old powers are growing again! Like here with Medusa!"

"She always only acted in self defense!"

"And now is growing to be a real competitor for the world stage! Tell me, how long before the Greek Pantheon decides to move against her?! How long before Japan is consumed in fire because of it?!"

"I won't let that happen-"

"You will start the fire!" Gilgamesh replied, both hands slamming on the table and all felt the area shake. "To defend her you will light the matches and challenge Zeus himself before being vaporized! And how many will suffer because of that, Shirou?"

"Are you suggesting that I leave her alone because of a god? Sounds quite cowardly of you, Gilgamesh." The redhead retorted just as challengingly, both men glared at each other from the other side of the table. "Medusa is my friend, I won't abandon her. And if the gods come to start a fight, to harm her or anyone, you will find me here, on their way." Ki flooded around him. "Same thing for you."

"Idiot. You are an absolute moron!" An aura of gold covered Gilgamesh just as intense as Ki but not being such. It was pure mana and enough to light up a small town. "That is why we can't just leave you alone! You would fight the world without realizing just because you believe something is 'right'!"

"Helping someone, a friend, can't be wrong! That is what heroes should do!" It was the redhead's turn to slam the table and it cracked, surprising the members of the Hero Faction. "When did you forget that? And you still call yourselves heroes? Heroes aren't just those who slay monsters! Just people who kill! A hero is more than that!" A conversation with his father crossed the magus' mind but he remained undetained. "You have the power to stop a war before it happens but instead you are speaking of genocide."

"They won't die if they stay away from humans! How many of us do they need to kill for you to see the danger they represent, Shirou?"

"And how many times did man kill man? If we are to judge by race, then we should all kill ourselves!"

"That is different! We can defend against ourselves but few can fight a devil! Less can fight a god!" Which was Gilgamesh's desire and one he was close to making it a reality.

"Power? Is that what this amounts to?" Shirou asked half sarcastically. "How many can fight another man unarmed? How many can pick a sword and become a master? How many can even learn to throw a punch?!" Every question was asked with more intensity. "It isn't power and you know. Power can't make someone evil, it can only reveal their character." After a deep breath, the Mage stood straight, looking at his friend with pity but determination. "You are stronger than most and a good person too. Weren't you trying to find a solution that didn't involve death?"

At that point Angelo also did his best to calm down but unlike his friend the blond's eyes never lost their edge. "Tried and failed. Fact is that the Old Satan Faction is an example of how terrible devils can be. And it isn't just them." His focus grew and his power flowed once more. "Do you have any idea how many gods exist in this world, Shirou? So many that I can't count. There are still villages in forests and deserts that do ritualist sacrifices and offer themselves for an uncaring deity who only bothers to collect their bounty."

The Mage of Swords shook his head. "Once again you are isolating a few-"

"More than I can count and I don't know them all." For the first time Gilgamesh ignored his friends. "Children, women, blood, death, war, there are gods who consume all of those to 'survive'." A scoff and a scowl escaped the Hero Faction's leader.

"A few can't-"

"A few who cause the death of hundreds-"

"Then deal with them-"

"I will and the other gods won't like that!" Gilgamesh slammed the table a second time and it broke in half. "Do you think gods approve when their kin is slayed? First it will be a few Pantheons but soon all the gods will fight against man. We must be ready." Raising to his feet he gestured to his friend. "How many more must die because of them? How many will die until we deal with them?"

"Then deal with them and leave anyone not guilty alone." Shirou did his best to stay calm but he could only see the stubbornness in his friend. Something he could freely admit to honestly share. "And if you don't and I see one of them, I will do it. Just like Shinji…"

"You think defeating a god is that easy? I tried and only lived because I wasn't stupid enough to go unprepared." Angelo admitted with a hint of shame. Shame that quickly turned to rage and determination. "Our time is coming, Shirou, and we will bring the moonlit world to heel."

"If that involves harming innocents, you know where you will find me; here, against you." Shirou gave his ultimatum.

One that made Gilgamesh scoff. "And what if they attack us first? If the devils decided to get in their old habits and start a war?"

"Then you will find me there, against them." That surprised everyone but the redhead was resolute. "And it won't be them all, just a few. If anything you should be the one looking at your 'allies'. Didn't you say you came here to take me because the Old Satan Faction is about to restart the civil war?" Against such determination Gilgamesh quickly found himself on the back foot. Even if his face didn't show it, the silence was telling. "You know I am right. You know the Khaos Brigade as a whole is the one spreading the most chaos in the world. You also know that, whatever you and Illya are doing can be directed to them. Stop generalization." He was pleading and that much was obvious. But the Mage of Swords was sincere. "Just stop it. It isn't too late now. There is nothing wrong with being prepared but… we both know you are going beyond that."

"How could you know for sure?" Jeanne asked as uncertainty filled her face.

Pointing his finger towards his friend, Shirou offered a look of sympathy. "Because I know my sister and I know him. I get how determined she sounds when working on how charismatic he is even at his worst." Gilgamesh stayed silent as the redhead made his pitch. "I also know how obsessed they both can get when they see danger at every corner. My father is the same but at least he knows that just because there is something in the dark, doesn't mean it is going to try and get you."

"And how many had vanished in the dark?" The blond asked rhetorically. "Besides, the next war is coming, it is just a matter of who will light the gunpowder first."

"Have you ever thought that this is a self fulfilling prophecy?" The Mage asked, just as rhetorically. "Attacking without provocation… that can't be right."

"Our time is limited, Shirou. That has always been Humanity's greatest weakness." Gilgamesh reminded him. "The Original Gilgamesh fell because of it-"

"But in the end he accepted the changing of times. He trusted us, his descendents, those who would learn from his example, to be as great as him. If not greater." The Tale of Gilgamesh's ending was bitter sweet but also triumphant in a sense.

After securing a herb that would give his youth back whenever his body began to fail him, Gilgamesh stopped for a bath while basking in his triumph. Immortality was at his hands and the gods could do nothing about it.

But the small snake that escaped his senses did so anyway, not out of malice or because of a command of the gods but because it saw food and decided it was hungry.

And when Gilgamesh left the water and saw his prize was lost, the man laughed and accepted 'defeat' with grace. Perhaps because of some sort of realization or because when he returned to his kingdom he found that his people had made a magnificent statue of Enkidu, his only friend.

The people of Uruk still honored the fallen hero and with that Gilgamesh found peace or, at least, satisfaction.

"Even if we aren't here for that fight, others will be. And if you are so determined to stay, then focus on that." Shirou tried one last push, one last plea. "If the fight is coming anyway, don't rush it! There are people today that can still enjoy peace, who need it. Hell, Humanity is still eating itself in some parts of the world. Solve that first!"

For a second it seemed that Angelo was pondering what Shirou had to say, honestly taking in opinion. His pondering expression was at least honest and if asked Caren could confirm the man was pensive and confused for a moment. Then the clock ticked, the second passed and the moment died as Gilgamesh emerged with new found resolve.

"A hundred years from now our enemies won't be as divided as now-"

"No…"

"-from humans, the Pantheons can learn how to band together-"

"Maybe but-"

"-and then we will be enslaved. It will be inevitable." Gilgamesh concluded before shaking his head. "It is already inevitable once they realize how few of us can fight…"

"No, they already know. They have always known." Kirei contributed to the discussion under Shirou's glare but the priest's smile revealed nothing. "It is only the fact that gods tend to get in the way of other gods that Humanity prospered as it did. If that were to change…"

"Is it that easy?" Ise asked out loud. New to the moonlit world or not he got the picture clearly. "Isn't the Underworld trying-"

"Ise!" Shirou tried to silence the Pawn as that argument would kill any of his.

However it was unnecessary. "We already know the Underworld is trying to promote friendships and alliances with everyone, mostly against the Khaos Brigade." No matter how dismissive he tried to sound, Gilgamesh's tone still carried a lethal edge. One which promised death. "That was always a matter of time and even if the devils aren't successful now, someone may be in the future."

"Then we can fight in the 'future' while trying to stop it in the 'now'." Shirou spoke with conviction.

Just not one that could reach Gilgamesh. "Ah but our plan, your sister's plan, will definitely ruffle some feathers even if we pull off everything smoothly." His smile held an anxiety and anyone could tell he was holding back. "We are about to step on a lot of toes. Very Divine toes. I even already know who I want to take down first."

"But then-"

Xenovia's hand rested on the Mage's shoulder. "Master," her tone was kind and full of warmth despite the glare she threw at the Hero Faction's members, "they want this fight." In other words there was nothing he could say to change anyone's minds. There would be war one way or another if the Hero Faction had their way. "We have to respect their resolve."

"It isn't about respect. It is about how much death will come with it." Shirou had no idea what Illya and Gilgamesh were planning but if they were confident he could only imagine an ocean of red.

Yet he had to face reality as it was and admit that Xenovia was correct.

"There is nothing that I can say to change your mind, is there? Not yours or Illya's." Shirou eventually asked after letting out a loud sigh and dropping his shoulders.

After a brief pause, Gilgamesh shook his head. "I suppose not." A sad realization had long since settled in his mind. "Same to you, isn't it?"

After hearing all Shirou had to say the Hero Faction's leader understood that neither friendship nor bonds of blood would move him from his position so long it involved protecting lives.

"You know where I stand." The Magus of Swords reaffirmed his conviction, his eyes growing sharp as he prepared for what was to come.

"I see." Within the space of a heartbeat flashes of gold light pulsed behind Gilgamesh unleashing projectiles faster than most modern missiles.

They were spears and swords once used by several heroes and soldiers, those whose names History forgot but left their mark nonetheless making each and every one of those seven weapons a Noble Phantasm with enough power to take down a small building.

Which explained why the walls between the groups blew up when the seven Noble Phantasms were deflected to the sides by Muramasa and Durandal. Neither Shirou nor Xenovia missed a beat, the bluehead channeling Holy Energy in her weapon as the magus saw more portals open over his friend's shoulder.

Soon another eleven Noble Phantasms were unleashed but found themselves meeting Durandal's energy blade which bashed them away and destroyed whatever was left of the room.

In consequence the rooftop began to fall but that was where the Mage of Swords got to work changing his Muramasa into another one and blasting it outward with lightning to keep everyone safe.

Heracles and Jeanne cared not about that as they both charged, one with a grin and the other with a determined look.

"Finally!" Said the giant man as he covered the distance on a single leap over Xenovai's energy sword.

The former Exorcist began to maneuver her weapon but Ise was already advancing to intercept the gray haired warrior and punching him in the face with the Boosted Gear.

[Explosion!]

Ddraig's voice hailed the coming of a powerful attack channeling as many Boosts his Partner managed to get over the course of the conversation which had lasted quite a few minutes giving him over a hundred Boosts.

Enough to rip someone's head off but instead the Red Dragon Emperor found himself surprised as while the descendant of Heracles was sent flying he was smiling and already trying to recover his balance to get back in the fight without looking worse for wear.

Sure enough that meant Ise needed to finish him off fast and a Dragon Shoot with that much power should do it but Jeanne was already on his face with her rapier aimed to his eye. Worse, the thing smelled of Holy and the Pawn knew that his death was certain as he failed to see her coming from the giant's shadow.

Only the blow never came as a red cloth wrapped around his waist to pull the brown haired boy to safety. "It would be best if you didn't face her." Caren suggested, both her hands manipulating the cloth as she kept pulling the devil back. He could also feel the Holy on that thing but as it only wrapped around his clothes, Ise wasn't harmed. "Neither should I, for the record."

Of that she was certain as Jeanne touched her blade with her left hand and Holy began to pulse from it. "`Pierce!" The woman commanded in French and a beam of Holy Light flew in Ise's direction.

Which was quickly intercepted by the cloth on Caren's hands as it waved around to cover his face without touching him. Jeanne couldn't believe a simple piece of cloth could survive her attack but managed to see a tear on the silk her blast produced even if the energy had dissipated. However her time to think ended when Xenovia threw a slash with Durandal.

The blonde dodged to the side and used her rapier to push back the bigger blade but Shirou appeared from the left side for a stab with Muramasa as another sword appeared in his grip. When the first blow was deflected by a beam of gold light, another Noble Phantasm, he wasn't surprised and the second sword was used to cover Xenovia as both retreated.

Standing still on the other side of the demolished room Gilgamesh used the Gate of Babylon to cover his ally while summoning several pillows from it to soften Heracles' fall. Those pillows had a sort of aura covering them and just as the giant's head landed on one his wounds healed faster completely.

An instant later they vanished as Gilgamesh used another of his treasures to shoot down a sword transformed on an arrow courtesy of his friend who was already shooting a second and third ones rapidly.

"Hard way it is! Gate of Babylon!" Several portals opened everywhere on what was left of the room and it exploded with the onslaught of Noble Phantasms unleashed.

Still those were on the weaker side and the blast was relatively small, at least for a group of veterans from the moonlit world so everyone jumped out of the crater unharmed and ready to keep going.

All but Kotomine Kirei who went through the trouble of saving his chair and sitting down again once it was safe. "I suppose talks broke down."

"Way to state the obvious, Kotomine." Shirou snarked back from his right, his black bow aimed towards his friend as Xenovia stood in front of him, Durandal covering them both.

To their left Ise was raising the Boosted Gear again as Caren tore the lower part of her nun uniform to give more space for her legs. "I knew that I should have come with my battle outfit today." Legs fully exposed, she rubbed the torn material on her red shroud which quickly 'absorbed' it to restore itself. "Why didn't I do that?"

"Because those sorts of clothes aren't good for the city… not for a nun, at least." Kirei informed calmly as he watched Ise Boost a few more times. "Are you alright Hyoudou Issei?"

"Yeah, thanks for worrying."

"Oh, I am not. Just that as your therapist I must question if you are capable of combat at all. I wouldn't recommend it since this was such a taxing day for you." The priest looked around, studying the flat terrain they were on and seeing nothing but a blank white space for miles. "It seems I was right, we are inside Dimension Lost. A very empty one at that." He kept looking around for signs of the sacred gear's owner but only saw white. "Very unimaginative."

"Hahahaha! A priest as a devil's therapist?!" Gilgamesh laughed out loud and caught their group's attention as Heracles was standing up to his left and Jeanne skipped back until she landed on his right. "Oh boy! That is hilarious! Hahaha!"

"Hey, any problem with me getting therapy, you bastard?!" Ise asked while unleashing a Dragon Shot. A bronze shield with the painting of a gold dragon that appeared to shine on its own fell from the Gate of Babylon and intercepted the hit halfway towards its target. "What the hell-"

[Careful, Partner. The descendants of Gilgamesh are troublesome opponents.] Ddraig warned while preparing to send more of his power. [Gate of Babylon is potentially the most troublesome Noble Phantasm in all existence.]

Unaware of the conversation between devil and dragon, Gilgamesh answered the question. "Pft, no, not at all. Just that a priest is a devil's therapist, fufu, sorry, it is hard not to laugh." He turned to Kirei. "You truly are a very interesting man, aren't you, Kotomine?"

With a small bow the black haired man replied. "High praise, your majesty."

"Let us out, Gilgamesh!" Shirou's bow was still prone to shoot the blond's head as the Muramasa lodged on it. "We don't need to fight now."

Every instinct that he had told the Mage of Swords he needed to neutralize the threat in front of him but the redhead kept his priorities straight; if the Old Satan Faction had some sort of new weapon then he needed to warn Sirzechs and the others as quickly as possible.

"Oh but we do." The blond said with eagerness. "Don't tell me you don't want your rematch?"

"More than you think."

"He must really have beat you pretty badly." Caren could feel the setting anger and didn't know if it was because of what the blond did or was doing.

Or planned to do. "We need to warn the Underworld something is going to happen during the tournament."

"They can, if you surrender." Heracles offered with a glare, surprising his allies. "What? Illya wants her brother. It is the reason we are doing all of this." The giant's fist met his palm as his smile grew feral. "Sure, if he doesn't want to come quietly, we can beat him up a bit. She said she wouldn't mind having him tied up in the hospital for a couple of days."

"That doesn't mean what you think it means, big guy." Yet Gilgamesh couldn't help but agree with his eagerness. "So what is it going to be?" An arrow almost reached his head only for his bronze shield with the dragon painting to move and intercept it. "Rude."

"You just did the same thing." Shirou pointed without shame with another arrow at ready.

Jeanne then stood straight with her sword pointing at him and said. "Looks like that is his answer."

A sigh escaped Angelo's lips. "I know that we all saw this coming but I had to try, you know?"

"Even Illya said her brother is as stubborn as a mule." Heracles pointed out with a grin. "Hehe. It will just make this more fun."

"Try to not kill him… and maybe the representatives of the Church?"

"No promises."

Gilgamesh and Jeanne nodded in agreement with the giant as he focused on the opposing group. "Sorry Shirou but we are taking you by force!"

"Over my dead body!" Ise declared firmly, surprising his friends. "Do you have any idea what Buchou is going to do if you take her boyfriend? She will skin me alive!"

"He isn't wrong." Xenovia pointed out.

"Don't worry about her, Red Dragon Emperor!" An aura of power covered Heracles as he assumed a fighting stance ready to charge like a football player. "Worry about me! I will be taking your left arm as a souvenir!"

"Bring it you bastards! I can take you all down by myself!" Red aura exploded around Ise. "Balance Breaker!"

[Scale Mail!]

Red scales made of Divine Metal covered Ise's body before he unleashed a roar that made the area tremble and Kirei raised an eyebrow as he looked around more carefully. The man's experience told him something was out of place even if his eyes saw nothing.

'Is it because we are inside Dimension Lost?' He was pretty sure that wasn't the reason, not with the feeling he had of being watched from every side. 'Intriguing.'

A blink of an eye later and the Red Dragon Emperor was ready to fight, clad in his Balance Breaker and with an overwhelming aura that already managed to defeat several devils.

"Bring it on! I will take you three at once!" He waved his hand in a 'come and get me' gesture but nobody in the Hero Faction was intimidated.

"Oh~ so this is the power of the Red Dragon Emperor~" Gilgamesh at least sounded interested.

So did Heracles. "Hehe, I call dibs on the lizard."

"You don't get dibs on me! I can beat three of you alone!" Ise then turned to his allies, especially Shirou who looked concerned. "Don't worry guys, I got this. Going to teach these punks a thing or two about respect."

"Ise I don't think-"

[Partner, the Gate of Babylon-]

"Is that so?" As amused as he sounded, Gilgamesh's tone also gained an extra dangerous edge. Like if the challenge itself was an insult to his person. "You think yourself so tough, not understanding that with a word I can easily bring you to heel."

Regardless of the warnings his friends tried to give, Ise only grew more bold. "Eh, sounds like blowing smoke."

A brow twitched on the Hero Faction's leader's forehead. "Precious. Just precious. You think a half baked dragon can compete against us, the descendants of the greatest heroes of History."

"As far as I know, you aren't those guys. Maybe they would make me sweat." At least Ddraig could say he loved his Partner's confidence. "So I'll kick your ass then the ass of everybody in your team."

"Hahaha! You are a hilarious clown! One who doesn't know who he is messing with!" Gilgamesh replied before turning to Shirou at the distance. "Sorry my friend but we will have to hurt your pet lizard a bit."

"He needs to be taught a lesson in manners." The new Maid of Orleans declared in full agreement.

A nod from her leader showed he approved her idea. "And manners will be taught. Beating such a small Red Dragon Emperor is not really a notch in our belt but it will be done."

"Why do I feel like he is playing with fire?" Caren asked out loud for those who could hear.

It was Xenovia who nodded once before retorting. "You too, huh?"

"Make us three." Shirou couldn't help but say as he didn't like the feral smile on Gilgamesh and Heracles faces. Even Jeanne had a very aggressive grin that made her face sharper and more sinister.

"Just hope that Hyoudou Issei doesn't antagonize-"

"Yeah?! You and what army?!" Kirei couldn't even conclude his train of thought as Ise officially threw the gauntlet.

"Did he just…" Even Caren knew tempting Fate like that wasn't something people should do.

"Yep." Shirou's armor covered his body as his red shroud took form, the nun admiring it for a second as her eyes jumped her own shroud and his own. "This is going to suck."

For that was a challenge Gilgamesh easily accepted. "Glad you asked!" A snap of the man's fingers echoed through the area as everyone felt Dimension Lost shake.

Except it wasn't really shaking but changing as the sky and much of the ground began to disappear in motes of light.

Didn't take too long for Kirei to realize what was really happening. "It was a wall." Finally he realized why the space didn't look right for him.

Its dimensions were wrong because it was a painted wall made to look like a void of white that went miles wide instead of the space Dimension Lost really created but something to hide it.

In layman's terms, an optical illusion.

One created by the sacred gear itself to hide its real land which was far less uniform for even if it was still made out of white stone there were walls and barricades that could be used as cover, all hiding beneath a gray sky full of purple clouds.

And dozens of men and women wearing black uniforms like Jeanne and Heracles even if the armors were more personalized between each one. The priest did a fast headcount reaching fifty individuals, many armed with all manner of exoteric weaponry.

Thanks to his magecraft Shirou was more precise, taking note there were over sixty individuals surrounding their group. Amongst them the Mage of Swords saw that not a single one carried a sword in their grasp while their several bows and spears couldn't be processed by Unlimited Blade Works.

Sacred gears, several of them even if one or two individuals had more ordinary spears, those were brand new and recently forged. A perfect counter for him as the redhead's could only glimmer names from those weapons and nothing from the sacred gears themselves but the Divinity which made them.

That and the several magic circles in a more distant group one or two kilometers in the horizon, that one led by the familiar face of Georg, who he remembered meeting with Cao Cao, fixing his glasses which were surrounded by mana before raising an arm.

"Aim!" His voice shook the dimension they were in as sacred gear bows were raised together with an amalgamation of magic circles.

Already suspecting he was the owner of Dimension Lost, that pretty much confirmed it. Everything fell into place when considering his position on the Hero Faction, someone doing more than simple missions and walking around with the True Longinus' user. That deduction wasn't definitive but gave the Mage of Swords a target.

Once everything else sunk in, at least. "You brought us to a room inside a room?" Shirou asked in mild disbelief as Xenovia rose to her feet and prepared for the fight of her life.

"Couldn't risk you to sniff our squad before the right time." Gilgamesh replied with a grin. His eyes turned to the Red Dragon Emperor who admittedly looked a bit intimidated. "Tell me, little dragon, are you ready to 'kick our butts'?"

Valor filled Ise quickly and he took a step forward of defiance. "I said asses and I'll kick yours!"

"Kukukuku! I can't wait to see you broken before dying." Gilgamesh declared while raising a hand. The Gate of Babylon opened several new portals so a dozen magic staffs carrying tremendous power could reveal their might. "If you don't die outright!"

The five people dragged inside Dimension Lost could feel the overwhelmed atmosphere that came from being completely surrounded in a hostile environment where there were enemies everywhere and nowhere to run.

And every single one of them exhibited an aura of violence that held not a single shred of compassion. Perhaps the three Hero Faction's representatives before were willing to walk away after collecting Shirou but none of the others got the memo. Despite most of them knowing what the operation was about, the only one needing to survive was the redhead.

Didn't help that Ise, slightly cowed over the opposition's numbers or not, still looked more than ready for a fight.

Gladly the Hero Faction would give them one and Gate of Babylon's many magic staffs started the attack with lightning and light.

"FIRE!" Ordered Georg with several magic circles of his own.

Every color in the spectrum followed suit, enough to fill Dimension Lost's empty sky.

…..

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