PRELIMINARIES: None of this belongs to me. Fate/stay night, and all characters, settings, etc. associated with it, are the property of Type-Moon. Type-Moon is not affiliated in any way, shape, or form with the creation of this story (a fact for which, I suspect, they would be profoundly grateful). I have made liberal usage of their characters and settings in this story; this was done without their knowledge or permission, and is technically an infringement of Type-Moon's copyright. As this story is, at the most pragmatic level, free promotion of the Fate franchise, it is hoped that they will regard this story (if at all) with a benign ignorance.

If you paid a wooden nickel for this story, not only have you been drastically overcharged, but whoever charged you has done so illegally, and I disavow any association with said individual(s).

It should be noted that as far as terminology goes, I am relying primarily on mirror moon's translation of the game (e.g., majutsu/mahou as magic/sorcery) with the official release of the anime as a secondary source. Indeed, this first chapter is almost entirely text lifted directly from the game, rewritten in third person and adapted for differing points of view, as well as to better fit my writing style.

This story is archived in .txt and .htm format, along with my other works, at my website, The Codex Scribanus (see author profile).

All feedback is welcome, up to and including line-by-line critiqutes (provided they fit in my mailbox).

I am deeply indebted to my pre-readers, Kami and Shack, who not only agreed to endure another one of my fics, but to that end allowed themselves to be dragged deep into an entirely new fandom.

Now, sit back and either enjoy the ride, or (more likely) enjoy thinking of what you'll do to me at the end of it...


Emiya Shirou stood frozen to the spot.

For the moment, he could only ignore Tohsaka, looking on with concern, and the false priest, looking on with a smirk he could feel.

Masters.

The Holy Grail War.

The fire.

Masters.

The Holy Grail War.

The fire.

The Holy Grail War.

The fire.

Masters.

A Master caused the fire.

They want me to be a Master -

"What's wrong? Will you fight or not? State now, Emiya Shirou."

He didn't even need to ask.

I can't approve of this. Such dirty killings are wrong.

"I will not fight. I abandon my rights as a Master."


THE WORLD WITHOUT

A Fate/stay night Fanfic

by

Lunaludus Scribex


CHAPTER I

2/2: FOREST OF NO RETURN

She watched him from the stone-paved plaza as he emerged from the church, much the same as he had entered. Her Master walked on unsteady legs, kept still by sheer force of will; his face was pale, yet there was a determination there that had not been present before.

And - as if in exchange - two of his three Command Spells were gone.

None of this touched Saber's face. "Have you finished your conversation, Master?"

"Yeah. I learned what this Holy Grail War thing is. And taking that into consideration, I decided."

Emiya Shirou took a deep breath, then straightened. "Saber, I will withdraw from being a Master."

As she'd thought. Saber's brow did not even twitch. But why, then, was Shirou here?

"Does that mean you will be abandoning the contract with me?"

"That's right. I'm not fit to be a Master." He shifted uneasily. "And you too, Saber. It would be better for you to form a contract with a proper Master, not one like me."

"True. If I am after a better winning chance in battle, I should form a contract with another mage." What was he doing out here? "Archer's Master should be able to draw out my full potential." If he was going to break their contract, he should have done it from the safety of the church; coming before her was tantamount to suicide. Hadn't the priest told him that -

The priest.

Kotomine Kirei.

Supervisor of this Grail War.

Master in the last one.

Emiya Kiritsugu's natural enemy.

And Saber understood.

Shirou fidgeted in the silence, then finally spoke. "Then I can abandon the contract now, right? I'll use the Command Spell to cancel the contract, so you will be free."

"...Shirou. I will ask you only once. Will you not change your mind about your intention not to be a Master?"

His response was immediate. "I will not change my mind. I have no intention of killing others."

Words had failed. Action would be necessary.

The raincoat swayed. And in the next second, she darted out from beneath it. Her unseen sword formed in her hands, and she swept Shirou's legs with the flat of the blade.

He stared dumbly up at Saber from the ground. She stared down at him in return, and explained what the priest should have.

"Shirou. A mage who is no longer a Master will be killed by his Servant. No matter how inexperienced you are as a mage, you have called for me, and you have the power to keep me in this world.

"A Servant needs a Master. If you break our contract, I will kill you and take that body. Do you still say you will abandon your rights as a Master?"

Shirou looked up at his Servant. He fixed his gaze on Saber's own - and she stiffened, as she felt a tingling in her mind. A connection!

"That's right. Even if I were to change my mind, I can't do it. Not because I only have one Command Spell left - "

A mental link that shouldn't have formed for at least a day - shouldn't have formed at all, given the she could not feel any more magical energy flowing to her - settled into place, even as he sought to break it. We're this compatible? It took all Saber had to keep her expression neutral as her Master's words doubled with those in her mind.

"I refused to fight. I refused to become a Master. Having such a person as your Master would only result in defeat."

He stopped speaking, but his words continued to flow into her. No matter how it came about, my mind gave up. If I have refused battle once, the second time must be the same.

I would lament, every time I faced danger, that I should not have entered the battle. It would be bad for both you and me to make such a person your Master.

His judgment was correct. Shirou had viewed the field rightly, and reached the proper conclusion. There was nothing with which Saber could find fault. But -

"Then you do not mind being killed by me here? I am unable to become a spirit. If I cannot absorb your soul, your body will face a painful death. You are going to accept that...?"

He laughed weakly. "Of course not. I don't like fighting, but I like being killed even less." He took a deep breath, and glared up at her. "I know it won't help, but I'll resist until the last second and flee."

For a long moment, neither of them spoke. Saber looked down at Shirou. She weighed what she could sense from their unexpected link. And she realized three things.

First, that even though the priest had sent him out to his death, had he been properly warned, Shirou still would have come to face her.

Second, that nothing she could say or do would sway him from the path he had chosen. Emiya Shirou would never be a Master.

And third - that with him, inexperienced as he was, she would without question have won this Holy Grail War.

"Saber...?"

And knowing that, it would be such a waste for this man to die here.

"I understand. Use your Command Spell, Shirou. It is your decision. I have no right to intervene."

" - huh?"

"Do not worry. It is just the case that I could not establish trust with my Master this time." She retreated a few steps, allowing him to stand. "If you abolish the contract with your Command Spell, I will be released. I should be able to maintain this body for about two hours; I will just find a new Master in that time."

Those words were the trigger. With a flare of light, the third and final Command Spell was invoked - and Saber's connection to Shirou was abruptly severed.

"You are now free. It was a short union, but your magical energy was pleasant." She turned to go, then looked back at her former Master. "I will not see you again...but I shall pray that you safely survive this battle."

If he reached out to her, Saber did not see it. If he called out to her, Saber did not hear.

If he had - if she had - Saber did not know how she would have responded.

He did not, though. And thus, the point was moot.


It was a silent night. Even though it was past midnight, the town was still too quiet.

It was eerie, Shirou had to admit. It didn't seem like an exaggeration - not with this atmosphere.

"Man, I wonder when it started to be like this?"

But that was obvious.

The Holy Grail War. The secret battle between the six mages was stealing the life out of the town.

His chest began to hurt. The chest that had been stabbed by Lancer only a few hours before was aching. Shirou paused, looked back the way he came, then shook his head. "What good will it do to go back to the church now?"

He couldn't approve of Masters killing each other, true; but if he couldn't overlook it, either -

I'll think about what I should do once I'm home.

Enduring the pain in his chest, Shirou headed home. He would be able to calm down if he went home, took a bath, relaxed a bit -

But.

'I'll think about what I should do when I get home.'

That thought itself was a mistake.

"Huh - ?"

Like a bad dream, it told him that there was no road ahead of him.

"Oh, I see! So you're alone now, Onii-chan."

Shirou raised his head at the voice.

Under the blue moon - on top of the hill that should have led him back home - there stood a girl and a strange figure.

-WHOOSH-

"Gh - "

And they burst. He didn't even have a chance to see it, scream, nor turn and run.

The black giant standing there swung his weapon upwards, and just the sheer force of the weapon moving caused his arm to -

Shirou's terrified shriek pierced the night sky.

It flew off.

It flew off.

My right arm flew off.

It flew off from his shoulder and blood was spilling out like crazy and the road behind him was red like red paint was smeared on it, and bones, bones were sticking out of his shoulder, and...

"Berserker, I don't feel like playing chase, so just squash him."

And Shirou's world went red.

He rolled. Both his legs were bent as if sitting Japanese-style. But they were bent the wrong way, with his legs bending forwards from the knees down.

His thoughts could not catch up to events.

His thoughts could not catch up to events because of the pain.

Berserker. I definitely heard that. Then, this monster in front of him was -

The girl giggled. "You're well-mannered, Onii-chan. I know that - it's called assisted suicide, right? My grandfather said that Japanese people are a neck-cutting tribe who die by having their heads cut off while sitting Japanese-style."

He began to pass out.

The girl's innocent voice didn't match this situation.

"Ah...don'..."

He couldn't breathe.

My lung. One of his lungs had been blown about fifty meters behind him.

He fell onto the ground, on his back. Both his legs had become like caterpillars. They were broken, and couldn't move.

So he used his remaining left arm to drag himself away -

"Oh, you can still move? But it's too bad. You can't run away now. And besides, it's useless even if you do - because even if you could get away, that body of yours will die in a matter of seconds."

His body felt light. He'd lost over half his blood. It was amazing he was still conscious; his brain was starved of oxygen, and it should have stopped already -

"But don't worry. It's no fun if you die that easily, right? So I gave you a small hand!"

The girl beamed down at him. "Onii-chan, you'll stay conscious, no matter how much it hurts or how much of you gets destroyed, until I crush your head.

"So - even if I do this, you'll still be able to writhe like a living thing."

The giant swung.

And Shirou writhed.

He was crushed.

By the shockwave of the weapon, like a printing press, Shirou was crushed from the waist down. Things that used to be his legs and meat and bones were beautifully turned into two-dimensional objects.

Shirou wheezed in pain.

He couldn't die.

There was only blood left in his head. His body did not function. His nerves wanted to die and escape the pain. But his consciousness would not go away.

His thoughts were still confused. But, wanting to escape this pain -

"You're...wrong. I'm not...a Master...any...more..."

An instant of hope. The girl gasped, as if in surprise -

"Yes, so what?"

- and crushed his hope with an angelic smile.

"Ah...ha." A disbelieving laugh. It seemed appropriate.

He would not be saved, no matter what. He fully understood that he would be killed here.

"Hm, maybe you're small enough for me to pick up now." She reached down, and laughed in delight. "Then I'll invite you to my castle, Onii-chan! I have lots of tools, so let's continue this there."

His senses would not die, no matter how much he was hurt.

They would not die - so rationality froze.

He did not know how much longer his head would last.

But at that moment, Emiya Shirou gave up all hope.

INVENTA AUTEM UNA PRETIOSA MARGARITA
ABIIT ET VENDIDIT OMNIA QUAE HABUIT ET EMIT EAM