Disclaimer: This is a work of pure fanfiction using characters, settings, abilities, etc. from Fate/EXTRA Last Encore and Fate/Grand Order; and DanMachi, which are trademarked and owned by Kinoko Nasu and Fujino Omori, respectively and all their related animation and publishing entities. I do NOT claim any ownership. I do NOT make any money off of this fanfiction. Please support the original creators Kinoko Nasu and Fujino Omori and their respective animation studios/publishers for making such awesome works.
Please do not repost Lilies Under The Sun anywhere else.
Chapter 1: Lili's Gifts
"Go ahead, you damn thief, hurry up and give me back what's mine!"
Liliruca Arde blinked. The intense pain in her nose. The dizziness and throbbing in her head from being violently thrown. The warm blood that dripped and stained the cold, lifeless stone floor. For a moment, Lili ignored all of it. The Ikelos Familia adventurer's words had followed the vicious toss of her small body against the dense cave wall. The bastards…
The four man group of Level 1s and a Level 2 were supposed to be another easy mark for the young girl. To her utter carelessness, the ugly Level 2 with the greasy reddish hair and scar over his left eye had actually been a former target of hers that was "liberated" of a few of his valuables. He probably had recognized her the moment she had been hired, but had waited until they were on the 13th Floor in a secluded section to confront her with his goons.
Her eyes darted around the area, but all her possible escape routes were blocked by the Level 2 adventurer's henchmen. Playing dumb would be useless in this case but… Lili realized she did not have many options to get out of this unscathed. So Lili would play for time until she came up with a suitable plan or other adventurers stumbled upon the scene.
"Lili doesn't know wh-Gah!" Lili's words were cut off as the leader of the group ruthlessly stomped on her abdomen, knocking the breath right out of her. It hurts!
Lili wheezed in pain as she struggled, but the Ikelos Familia member's heavier frame made it difficult for Lili to break free. The force from his foot continued to move downwards, cruelly squeezing Lili's stomach.
He sneered as if enjoying the girl's torment. "I didn't ask for you to talk, you little bitch. I want my equipment and valis back from your thieving paws!"
"Hey, why don't we go through the supporter's stuff? Canoe said that she might have a secret stash somewhere." One of the grunts suggested. He pointed his longsword at Lili's immense green backpack, which had been specially designed by the Hermes Familia, lying on the floor several paces away from her prone body.
Canoe Belway… one of the Level 1 adventurers in the Soma Familia that took particular pleasure in mistreating her and lording over Lili because of his adventurer status. Had this ambush been set in motion by him? In order to get to her gnome vault? But how did he find out?! To her horror, the Level 2's comrades went through her pack, hurling all kinds of supplies all over the ground.
"Looks like we found something good!" One of the men whooped as he pulled out a golden chalice.
"Ho, this little thief's been busy. This'd sell for valis aplenty!" The Level 2 stated as he was handed the cup, taking the time to check the intricate craftsmanship.
No… not that! Lili cursed internally. She should have left the precious grail in her vault. But he had instructed her to always keep it close on her person no matter what. But now it's in their filthy hands!
"Agh!" Lili's thoughts were interrupted as the Level 2 violently dragged her head up by her locks.
The man's countenance was even uglier up close. And the mocking leer on his face gave Lili the urge to shiver in disgust despite the pain. "Well then, you brat. Canoe mentioned something about a little vault that you stashed all your goods in. So where's the key? Tell me, and you might survive all this in the end."
She grit her teeth. Either way, there was no guarantee that the adventurers would keep their word. In fact, given their status as adventurers, more than likely not. But what else was Lili supposed to do?
"H-Here…" Lili gasped as she pulled out a thin necklace, which had a silver key as the pendant, from her neck that had been hidden underneath her cloak. "There's a gnome vault… y-you'll find everything I have in there."
Lili yelped as one of the Level 1s stepped over and ripped the cord away. All the men grinned as they imagined the riches of valis and jewels that awaited them in Lili's storage. The Level 2 dropped Lili from his grip, letting the girl fall onto the hard cave floor with a thump.
"That wasn't so hard was it?" The Level 2 gloated. "... Huh? What's this?"
Because of Lili's currently crumpled position on the ground and the shift in her clothes from the drop, the Level 2 noticed a strange, vivid green fabric now slightly in view under the girl's cloak. With his free hand, he grabbed the outer edges of her robe.
"W-Wait! Don't!" Lili pleaded desperately, but it was all to no avail.
The Level 2 tore away the cloak from her small frame, revealing Lili's maroon and white top and maroon skirt. He briefly noted the various expensive potions and elixirs hidden in compartments within the robe. But what had caught the Level 2's real interest was the beautiful green girdle that because of Lili's size had instead been wrapped across her left shoulder and hips in a sash-like fashion. The quality of the fabric of the belt indicated to the adventurer that it could only have been made from the finest of silks.
"You were holding out on us, huh? What a shame. Give it here."
Lili clutched the girdle. "No… please… you have what you want, so please… leave Lili at least with this."
"You're right." The Level 2 said out loud as if considering her words.
A swift backhanded slap forced Lili back on the cold ground. Her left cheek burned from the sting. But she held onto the girdle even more tightly. Lili had always cared only for her wellbeing and material possessions because of her tragic upbringing. But none were more important than this green silk belt given to her by the sole person who had shown her genuine kindness. This was my most cherished item. The only gift anyone had ever given a pathetic girl like me.
"You damn supporter! You think you can tell an adventurer what to do!" The Level 2 raged as his comrades guffawed at the result of Lili's attempted plea.
Lili expected more blows to come, but she steeled herself mentally. I won't part with the belt.
"Hey, boss. We might wanna get going. Another party might come around here soon." One of the goons suggested.
"Good point. Fine then, we'll have enough valuables from her vault to last us a while. Y'know, you can keep that fabric, brat. Cause..." The Level 2 turned his gaze back upon the hapless Lili. His crooked grin was far from comforting for the girl, and the maniacal glint in his eyes spelled doom for her. "What a tragedy it'd be. We tried our best in the rescue, but the poor supporter couldn't get out in time and was eaten by the monsters."
Lili's eyes widened in sheer terror as the adventurer drew with his free right hand a wicked looking curved blade from the sheath at his side. She could no longer hold back the tears. This would be her end. Lili would die pathetically in the Dungeon at the hands of adventurers that she despised; her small corpse to be left as food for the creatures. No one would know or care. Lili would die here terrified… alone…
Someone… Anyone… Please, save me!
Three Years Ago
Ever since her parents had died in the dungeon, Liliruca Arde had always been alone. Born into the Soma Familia without so much of a choice, Lili was abused, beaten, and treated more like a pet than an individual. She desperately had tried to become an adventurer but because of her tiny stature and weak physique, such a future had been impossible. So Lili became a supporter.
She despised the adventurers who treated her like trash. They often used her as nothing more than a pack mule in the most favorable scenario and as monster bait in the worst case. Lili loathed her familia for its indifferent god and terrible members. But the final straw had been when she had practically begged for her proper payment from one particular group of Soma Familia adventurers. Even a single valis would have sufficed. Instead, she had been brutally kicked away, slamming into the tavern wall. And as she struggled for breath and let out tears from the sheer pain, the adventurer that had harmed her threw a single chicken wing. It fell there on the wooden floor in front of her with a sickening splat. That was all she was to them. Disposable trash. No one wanted an existence like her.
So that night, despite the harsh and frigid downpour of rain, Lili ran away. Eventually, she had found herself under the care of an elderly couple that ran a small flower shop in one of the upper class districts of Orario. Lili had even been taken on as an assistant to the shop owners, learning about the various types of plants. Of course, the lily had been her favorite flower. For a few weeks, her life had actually been cozy. She had started to feel the semblance of happiness for the first time in her life. But alas, such a life was not to be for Lili. As the Soma Familia ultimately paid her new home a visit.
As Lili attempted to reach out and help treat the head wound, the old man turned away, vehemently slapping away her hand. Her eyes widened at the coldhearted action, but the furious glares coming from both the man and his wife were clear enough to the young girl. Before Lili could say anything, even some kind of an apology for the trouble her presence had caused, the couple stormed back inside their ruined shop.
She just blankly stared at the retreating backs of the once kind people that had so graciously taken in an orphan like her. After running away from the Soma Familia, she had thought that this was finally her fresh start. All Lili had wanted was a true family. People who actually loved and cared for her. But she guessed it was simply too much for even others to bear. Then, she saw that the wife was walking back toward her. A faint bit of hope blossomed in her heart. I… I can make things right! The girl opened her mouth to speak, but the woman's hands swiftly reached out and wrenched the vase of white lilies from Lili's hands. With a final scornful look etched on her face, the woman headed back inside, leaving Lili alone on the street.
Ah, I see… Lili's gold eyes looked downcast, her tiny fists balling up the fabric of her skirt. No one wants me…
"Hm, humans can be such cruel creatures…" An airy male voice sounded behind her.
Lili's eyes widened and swiftly glanced back. Leaning against a nearby rickety cart was a figure she did not recognize, which was strange given that strangers never really cared to notice her small, weak stature, let alone speak with her. He was clearly not one of the members of the Soma Familia as Lili had seen every single one, to her utmost displeasure. In fact, his state of dress was way too wealthy and ornate to be an adventurer. He wore a dazzling, pristine white robe and held a strange wooden staff that looked way more intricate than a mere shepherd's tool. He must be a nobleman. A hood covered some of his face, but Lili could see wisps of silvery hair that seemed to shine in the sunlight and violet eyes. The man smiled as he noticed Lili scrutinizing his appearance.
Ah, I must be imagining him. Lili knew that no one ever smiled in her direction. After all, everyone from her own parents to the Soma Familia did not even want her to exist. The girl rubbed her eyes, expecting the figure to disappear once she opened them again.
He was still there.
"I am real, you know. You're quite adorable actually." The man said with a slightly amused chuckle.
Ah, now he's laughing. Lili was utterly confused. This man in a span of a few seconds had directed more positive emotions than Lili had experienced in her entire short life.
His laugh was cut short as he noticed Lili's baffled expression. "Oh, this must all be so new to you. Well, Lili, I think introductions are in order. I've gone by many names but in this case, you can call me Emrys!"
It could have been Lili's imagination, but a white radiance seemed to glow from the man upon his flamboyant greeting. Such a thought distracted the young girl from wondering about how Emrys had even known her name.
"Aha, but you bear the scars of your wretched Familia. Let me help you with that." Emrys stated, seeing the long healed wounds on her tiny hands and forehead.
Before Lili could say anything, Emrys waved his right hand through the air. Lili thought she briefly smelled the sweet fragrance of newly bloomed flowers. For a moment, a sensation of cozy warmth spread throughout her body, causing Lili to sigh in relief. Just as quickly as the feeling had started, it was gone. Confused, the young girl checked the palms of her hands. All the various cuts, scrapes, and calluses from the horrible treatment during her time in the Soma Familia had disappeared, leaving only smooth, flawless skin. Her eyes turned to Emrys in amazement at the apparent magic without the use of a chant.
"But… how…?" Lili wondered aloud at what had just happened.
Emrys gave her a lopsided grin, "It's magic! But do you feel better now?"
The girl nodded her head a few times in quick succession. In fact, Lili felt physically better than she ever did before at any point of her life.
"Now then, why don't we have a nice, quick chat?" Emrys then snapped his fingers.
A bright flash forced Lili to shut her eyes. When she opened them, Lili saw that they were no longer present around the recognizable buildings of Orario. As Lili looked around only seeing trees and shrubs in her immediate vicinity, the young girl guessed that she was somewhere outside the city. We're in some kind of forest clearing.
"Right you are, Lili!" Emrys exclaimed as Lili turned back to see the ever-present smile on the man's face. "Now, you must be hungry after such a trying day. Here."
Emrys flourished his right hand again, and before a very shocked Lili, a veritable feast magically appeared. Sitting atop a white blanket was a wide array of mouthwateringly delectable food: meats of every kind from fried chicken to lamb chops, various fresh fruits and vegetables, and even small cakes and cookies. There were also goblets of what Lili could only suspect were ale, diluted wine, and orange juice based on the scents. In fact, everything smelled absolutely fantastic. Lili's stomach grumbled loudly at the sight of so much food arranged just for her. The girl looked up at Emrys in pure wonder. This wasn't a mage, this was a god! And one who had decided to bless her!
Emrys let out a boisterous laugh. "I'm glad you think so highly of me, Lili. But no, I'm no god. Now dig in before your meal gets cold."
Lili needed no further instruction as she quite literally attacked the food. For several minutes, there were no further words spoken as Lili devoured and drank her fill. Emrys only looked on the scene with amusement.
"Thwis wis zwo gud!" Lili cried out in pure happiness as she ate a drumstick of a bird that she did not recognize. The aromatic spices gave the flavor of the meat an extra level of exquisite taste.
"Ah, I'm glad you're enjoying it. It's herb-crusted grilled capon, a particular favorite of my King."
Lili briefly noted Emrys' mention of a King, but that all dissipated from her mind as she tackled the next scrumptious dish.
After a while, Lili finally sighed in contentment. Her belly was completely full and the plates were empty. The girl could not believe her luck that she had met such a benevolent being to treat her to such luxury. Then, she realized the reality of her situation.
"Um… Mister Emrys… Lili has nothing to pay you back for… any of this." Lili nervously stammered, avoiding eye contact with Emrys. The healing. The delicious meal. How could I possibly return such kindness?
Emrys' eyes had a sparkle within them, and he gave the girl a sympathetic smile. Lili felt the odd sensation of Emrys patting her on the head. "Not to worry, Lili. There's no need for any payment."
"Lili doesn't understand… why are you so nice to Lili?"
"Admittedly, this was not all just for purely altruistic reasons as you are fairly interesting to me, and I look forward to seeing how your path in life goes." Emrys explained casually. "But, my King would be quite disappointed in me if I had failed to help out a young girl in need... "
Lili had a confused expression on her face as Emrys continued to ramble on about his various duties and annoying knights.
"Ah, I've seemed to have lost you. No matter. Lili, if you'd prefer, I would like to give you a few very unique presents."
No one had ever given me gifts before. Lili nodded.
With another glint of light, two objects appeared on the blanket in front of Lili. One was a golden cup that Lili assumed would have cost a fortune of valis to create. The other in particular caught her eyes. It was a beautiful piece of fabric as distinctly green as any idyllic meadow. Unlike the basic outfits Lili had, such a cloth made hers look like rags in comparison. She carefully reached out to touch the material with her fingertips, enjoying the soft, lush feel.
"This here is a very special grail and what you're holding in your hands is a girdle once given to a famous hero." Emrys pointed out. "I've been saving these for just an occasion, and I'd like you to have them."
Lili did not know how to respond to such generosity. "T-Thank you so much, Lili will take good care of them!"
"Lili, you must always have the grail and girdle with you at all times. This is an absolutely crucial point. Do not sell them, give them away, or be parted from them at any point. Your life will sadly be quite difficult from now on… but one day in your hour of most dire need, these items will help you." Emrys stated in a serious tone.
Lili simply nodded. "Yes, Mister Emrys. Lili promises to follow Mister Emrys' instructions."
"Excellent," Emrys said grinning, "Now, I do believe it's time for me to leave."
"Wait! Please… please, Mister. Take me with you!"
Emrys gave the pleading girl a melancholic expression. "I'm sorry, Lili. Where I must return is a place that you cannot follow. This is farewell."
With another snap of his fingers, Lili found herself suddenly no longer in the forest. She was back outside the destroyed flower store. In her hands were the grail and girdle.
I promise, Mister Emrys. I'll take good care of your gifts!
"What the fuck is this?!"
The Level 2 howled in agony as the golden grail burned his left hand. The man immediately dropped the item, the cup loudly clanging on the hard ground. Moreover, the object seemed to tremble and bright beams of white light emanated from it.
What's going on?! Lili had no idea what was happening, but she let out a sharp yelp as she saw that the girdle in her hands was also shining. Fortunately for her, there was no fiery pain. In fact, the glowing fabric was simply a comforting warmth to her palms. The sensation caused Lili's lips to quirk in a tiny smile despite the dangerous situation she was in.
"What're you smiling for, you brat! What'd you do?!" The Level 2 roared as he rushed toward her with his blade high in the air.
Before Lili could react, an explosion of white light erupted from the girdle, forcing the girl to avert her eyes.
The loud crash of blades rang out in the area.
"How cowardly to raise a sword upon an unarmed maiden." A calm and noble male voice declared.
Lili opened her eyes, seeing the figure that had saved her from death. The girl could only see the back of her savior, but already he struck a regal physique. He was a very tall individual wearing a magnificent teal cape with fur pauldrons and intricate gold designs. Lili noticed his wavy blonde hair and the beautifully elegant silver and blue sword in his gauntleted right hand. Said blade had not only successfully deflected the Level 2's strike, but also had left the adventurer with a weapon broken cleanly in half.
"Who the fuck are you?!" The Level 2 gaped at his now useless sword.
The stranger ignored the adventurer's question as he turned his attention to Lili. Lili was taken aback by the handsomeness of the young man's face. His aqua eyes looked at the girl with a level of warmth and concern that reminded Lili of the pleasant rays of sunlight.
"Are you all right, My Lady?"
Lili could not find the words to express herself at the moment, so she only nodded.
"I am glad." He said with a smile. Turning his head back in the direction of the Ikelos Familia members, he returned to a stony countenance. "Now, I shall take care of these thugs who have dared to harm you." Lili's savior drew his sword back in a strange fighting stance that had his blade under his left arm and pointing behind him.
The Level 2 glanced at his comrades.
"Well, what the heck are you waiting for?! Go kill him!" The adventurer ordered. Drawing out their own armaments: two swords and a spear, the three grunts hesitated for a moment before charging at the young swordsman.
Lili watched in amazement as her savior advanced forward with a speed that made his movements difficult to keep track of. As if in a graceful dance, the young man cut through weapons and bodies alike with unnatural ease, leaving behind the bloody and crumpled corpses of the Level 1 adventurers before Lili even had the chance to blink thrice.
The Level 2 paled at the sight of his party members defeated so quickly and effortlessly. He stepped back shaking in terror as the swordsman turned his attention to the last Ikelos Familia ruffian. The young man stared evenly at the Level 2 as if daring the now comradless leader to make a move against him. There was only one possible outcome. The Level 2 turned tail and ran as fast as he could away from the swordsman and Lili, not even bothering to look back at his fallen Familia members.
The young man relaxed his battle stance, clearly deciding not to pursue the adventurer.
"Hm, cowards always reveal their true colors." He mused aloud.
The swordsman then turned back toward Lili, who had taken the time to push herself up from her prone position on the ground and was now standing up shakily. He stepped a few paces over to her but then stopped at a respectful distance. Before Lili could react, her savior planted the tip of his sword against the cave floor. A melodic schwing as the beautifully designed blade smoothly pierced the ground. The young man kneeled on one knee; his head in a slight bow. His head lifted as bright aqua eyes locked with Lili's gold ones.
"I am Gawain, Knight of the Round Table. I offer up my sword to you, My Lady."
In a dark and cold cave within the Dungeon, Liliruca Arde had at last met her Knight who shined with the brilliance of the Sun.
Thank you so much for checking out this story!
This idea had popped into my head earlier this morning, and I just had to start writing it down. Maaya Uchida is one of my favorite voice actresses (Frenda!), so when I remembered that she was also Lili's voice actress, I just had to upgrade her to main character status. Gawain has always been amongst my top literary figures, and I find his characterization in the Fate series interesting, despite all my suffering at his hands in Camelot! But I saw that the Knight of the Sun was seldom used in Fanfiction as a main character despite his many appearances in Fate media, so I had to include him.
Moreover, in his final ascension, he holds up a lily; not to mention his caretaking of the gardens in Fate/EXTRA Last Encore and floral pattern on his armor; and in the DanMachi anime Lili's backstory has the constant presence and symbolism of flowers, so I thought these two characters meeting would be appropriate thematically. Plus, Lili's transformation ability is literally called Cinder Ella, so the presence of the White Knight of the Round Table was kinda guaranteed. And yes, Merlin is there acting like Lili's fairy godfather.
Of course, there will be changes to canon as Gawain's presence would most definitely make an impact. Also, timeline-wise for this story, the events of Chapter 1 take place a few days before Lili would have encountered Bell Cranel. Furthermore, Gawain is not a Servant; he is fully reincarnated in this story because I prefer to use the original definition of palingenesis than the one in F/GO.
I haven't been able to work on my other two stories: A Certain Level 0 and Her King of Knights and Dark Wings of Freedom because life has been really hectic doing final prep for the ACT this Saturday (curse standardized testing!). But I'll make sure to get on that after the 11th. So thank you for your patience!