A great flame engulfed the city, consuming everything in its wake, turning trees into ash and houses into piles of rubble.
Several minutes later, under one of the piles, something started to move and a child, unrecognizable from dust that fully covered it, crawled out. Shakily rising to her feet, the girl in torn dress began to run. She didn't know who she was, where she was going, or even that she was running until she tripped and no longer moved.
The last thing she saw, before her eyes closed, was a man with something shining in his hand.
"Hm, mmm." A small girl, about six years old, played in the garden she helped to create, when she heard a voice.
"Maiya, come here."
"I'm coming, father!"
That voice made her immediately drop her toy and ran to the entrance. There she saw a middle aged man in a long cloak and big travel bag in his hand.
'He's Kiritsugu Emiya. He might not be my real father, I don't remember anything before he found me. I love him so much.'
The man put his bag down and crouched to hug the girl before asking.
"How were you while I was away?"
"I was fine, father. Fuji-nee took good care of me. But I missed you so much."
"That's good. I'll go talk with grandfather Fujimura and then I'll be back. Don't touch my bag, okay?"
Maiya happily nodded.
In the evening, when I went to bed, he, as usual, came to me to tell a story. He knows so much of them, but only one is my favourite.
"A long time ago, lived a princess. But lived not in a castle, because soon after her birth, her home was attacked and her father, the king, asked the wisest man in the country, wizard Merlin, to save and raise the little princess.
That girl chose to live as a boy, because her enemies were still looking for and because her dream was to free her country from strife.
When she grew up, Merlin told her about a contest. A contest about a sword in a stone that will choose the king of Britain. Losing no time, the princess went there so she could achieve her life-long dream."
'Every time my father reaches this far in the story, I start to feel warmth in my chest and his story comes to life before my eyes. I see the princess as she walks to the sword, how an old man in a cloak warns her that the sword will take the part of wielder's humanity and finally, my reflection in blade of a shining gold sword.'
"Yaah." A scared scream echoed through the room and Maiya woke up, panting from fear. As usual, she couldn't remember her dream, but it offered little comfort.
"A nightmare again. I'm scared, father." whispered the girl, before she got out of her bed and ran to elder Emiya's room, trying not to look at shadows in the corners.
She quietly opened the door and when she saw him sleeping under the comforter, she sighed with relief and hurried to him.
When she lay near, listening to his calm breath, Kiritsugu, suddenly, gently hugged her and whispered.
'I really like swords. My father tells me that a ten year old girl shouldn't play with them and will no longer tell me the story about the princess.'
Maya turned the sword to look into its polished blade like in her favourite story and watched as it shined in the daylight.
'But I know that story, and many others, really happened, because my father has a secret, he's a mage.'
"Maiya, are you playing with grandfather's sword again? It's dangerous." came her father's approaching voice and the girl looked one last into the metal mirror, before she quickly sheathed the sword and put it on the wall.
Five seconds later, right when elder Emiya entered the room, she was back in her chair and concentrated on a small cracked vase on the table before her.
She closed her eyes and when she felt the warmth of magic flowing through her, accompanied, as usual, by a bit of pain, she imagined the material under her hand becoming stronger. When the energy poured into the image, she heard a loud crack and something hit her clothes before falling on the floor.
"Don't worry. Not everyone can become a mage. In fact, I never wished for you to become one."
Maiya opened her eyes and her father near the table, looking at pieces of the vase that were scattered on the table and floor, a sign of another failure.
"I know, but one day I'll succeed. You will see, father. I'll become a mage that will bring hope to everyone, like the princess."
Kiritsugu stroked her hair and said before leaving.
"I shouldn't have told you all those stories. Remember that magic is sometimes leads to ruin. For every human you'll bring hope to, another will lose it."
"Hey, wake up. It's morning already."
The girl opened her eyes and stretched, causing a comforter she didn't remember taking, to fall off. She yawned and turned to the one who woke her up.
"Our teacher will be here any minute and you know how she is in the morning." said Shinji Matou that looked after her for almost a year now.
"Yes, senpai, I do." Maiya slightly laughed and stood up from the chair she spent the night in.
The boy looked at her light dress and said, sounding slightly as if he spoke to his servant, but with genuine worry.
"What were you doing all night again? Gardening, cleaning, or trying to repair junk for the Student Council, these jobs are not for you, they're for servants you should've asked you grandfather for. What if you fall sick again?"
"I'm sorry for worrying you, but you know that I never get sick."
"I remember your sickness a year ago." answered Shinji and the girl's hand unconsciously went to her chest when those memories returned. She weakly smiled and answered.
"That only happened because I was really nervous. It was ten years since…" her voice trailed off and she walked to the house, bypassing the boy, who suddenly grew quiet.
'I hope he won't blame himself for talking about this, it not his fault. It's just, at that time, I understood that everything will be taken away from me, no matter how strong it is, or how much I want it to last.'
"Will you stay for breakfast?" asked Maiya when she was about to enter inside.
"Of course I will. Since I went to wake you up, I wasn't able to eat at home."
"Ah, this is great as usual, Ma-chan!" said a woman in her twenties, Fujimura Taiga, when she filled her dish and tasted it. Suddenly, she paused and turned to Shinji who was waiting for his portion to be served.
"Shinji, you don't have to be so reserved. You are not a stranger here."
"I think he's mindful of his manners. You know that he's from a high class family."
"Ohh? And I thought that he was trying to impress you." said Taiga in nonchalant tone and Shinji suddenly choked on his food.
When his coughing fit ended, he took a glass of water and said, before starting to drink.
"By the way teacher, you should hurry to school, or you'll be late."
"Eh? Ohh! I'm so late, so late!" cried the woman before she jumped to her feet and ran out.
"She always says that when I least expect. If it weren't for you, I would've thought that she enjoys breaking me out of my stride." said Shinji, glancing at the door and before Maiya could answer, he continued.
"Anyway, I remember that you have a Student Council meeting before classes, so we must go as well."
"Yes, let me clear the table first." said the girl slightly blushing at something.
The first one to speak, as they went to school, was Shinji.
"Maiya, today I and my classmates are going shopping, so, will you go with us?"
"I don't know senpai. I can tell you after classes, if it's not too late."
"No, it's…" Shinji trailed off, when they were passing a crossroad and saw policemen busy around of what looked like bloodstains on the ground.
'Everything I hold dear will disappear. Even my life was almost taken away twice.' thought the girl, her eyes slightly clouding at the sight of blood. She barely noticed how Shinji put his hand on her shoulder and began supporting her.
'So I must learn to live whatever happens and never regret.'
'There he is.' thought Maiya when she saw Issei talking with someone in the hallway and when they looked at her, she felt that her cheeks slightly heated up.
"Don't even try going after her. I heard that she brutally rejected the ones that tried to date her."
'Are they talking about me? But I'm...' thought Maiya and turned to look behind her, in a panicked hope that they were talking about somebody else. Behind her, she saw Tohsaka Rin, one of the best students in school.
'Oh, it's her.' Maiya had mixed feelings towards Tohsaka. One of them was irrational dislike, close to jealousy other students had of Rin's grades, looks and how she was always confident and polite, even cold, but the other... The other part of her, liked the girl a lot and, maybe, if she managed to talk to Rin, then they could become friends.
"Maiya." Issei's sudden voice pulled the girl out of her thoughts and, startled, she turned to him.
"We should go to the Student Council's room, while we have time."
"Y-yes. I'm coming." said Maiya and hurried after him, wondering if her blush, from the thought of how Issei's phrase could've been misinterpreted, was visible.
"So, you really want to repair the heater by yourself? We have enough money for at least a used one and I don't want to push even more work on you."
"No, I want to help you. And we have all of the tools I need here."
"Well... if you succeed, it'll be easier to fund the winter events." Issei stood up from the table, gathering the papers with results of the meeting, before he put them into a file and went to the door.
"I know that you like repairing alone, so I'll go. Lock the door when you are done."
'I did it!' Maiya walked as fast as she could, hoping that she will make it to her classroom before the bell.
'And I did it even without Tono-san's help!'
After the school, Maiya walked through the schoolyard when she saw Shinji talking with several girls from his class and remembered about her promise.
Shinji turned and when he saw her, he smiled and waved her to come closer.
"We almost went without you, because the stores are about to close."
Maiya stopped several meters away and said.
"I'm sorry, but I have training with Tono-san today. I forgot about it in the morning."
Shinji's smile turned into disappointment, but he tried to convince again.
"You won't lose you shape if you miss one day of training. And I want to show you a good book I found yesterday."
"Yeah, come on. It'll be fun."
When the boy's classmates supported him, Maiya relented and, pulling out a cellphone, she said.
"Then I'll have to call Tono-san to cancel it."
She pushed a button on the phone and seconds later she started to talk.
"Yes, it's me. I can't train today; I'm going shopping with friends."
"Don't worry; the phone is always with me."
"Tell grandpa I love him. Bye."
"You have a grandfather? I heard that..." started one of the girls, before her friend cut her off with a glare.
"Grandfather was my father's friend and he takes care of me now. But he's often busy, so he asked one of his friends to help."
After a several hours long shopping, Maiya and Shinji were walking to his home to take the book he promised when she noticed that he took her hand in his.
"I had a good today. Thank you, Shinji." said the girl, taking her hand back to brush back one of the strands of her black hair.
The boy hid his hand in a pocket and asked to break the awkward silence.
"Do you remember how I started teaching you magic?"
"Yes... We went shopping like today and then you said that you live nearby and we can go to your house instead of a cafe."
Maiya regained some of her cheer as she continued.
"After a tea, brought a very old book and said that it was about magic and you were a mage.
You were trying so hard to impress me that I agreed to learn from you."
Suddenly, her cheer disappeared and she finished in a quiet voice.
"Then I got sick and you visited me everyday until I got better. Everyday you brought me books on healing and explained everything I couldn't read."
The silence created after that, remained until they reached to Matou's house.
"Maybe you'll go in? I still want to show our library."
Maiya shook her head and, as usual, she remained to wait for on the street, behind a tree, where non one from the house could see her.
She couldn't explain why, but this place and, especially, Shinji's grandfather really scared her.
"Fine. I'll return in a minute."
A half an hour later, Emiya stretched as she entered her house and immediately went to her father's room.
There, on one of the walls, were her three most treasured things that she found in the house after his death:
A photograph of her father with western looking woman with long white hair who held a baby in her arms, a smaller photo of a black haired woman in her twenties and an old pistol with two bullets as big as her index finger.
Maiya moved her finger across the first photograph, writing 'Ilya' around the baby and turned her attention to the gun, a 'Thompson Contender' modified with a rifle's barrel, as her trainer said.
"I wish Tono-san allowed me to shoot it. I've been training and building strength for years now! If I hold with both hands and brace myself, I'm sure I can handle the recoil."
She reached for the weapon, but then, with a wistful sigh, she turned around went to the table where she always studied magic.