The town of Santa Mentira was, for all intents and purposes, unknown to the world. A merger of city and country, it abruptly stagnated midway through. Due to this, there are many rural areas, large city areas, and one or two areas that were just never finished. However, there are a few areas that simply have larger homes than others. One such house was a house in the very back of the rural sector.
Surrounded by well kept lawns, lush trees, and few homes, this house was effectively isolated from the rest of the city, and at night, a stifling sense of loneliness filled those who looked at it, like now…Which was, of course, precisely what the owners wanted.
"Lasciato che sentono le mie preghiere, ascoltano. Lasci coloro che sente le mie parole, prendono nota." Whispered a young male in a white robe. He had blonde hair and eyes the color of ice.
"Laissé ils qui entendent mes prières, écoutent. Laissez ceux qui entendent mes mots, prennent l'attention." Beside him, a young woman in a black robe mirrored his movements, as if the two were in some odd trance. Her hair was auburn in color, and her eyes were brown, with a middle of the road figure.
"Lasci coloro che ascolta, rispondono a. L'eroe delle età vecchie, rinato ancora di nuovo, ha lasciato i vostri desideri essere pieni ed i vostri nemici be sono lasciati vuoti." The man whispered in rapid Italian. As the words left his mouth, a large circle formed around him.
"Laissez ceux qui écoutent, répondent. Le héros des âges vieux, rené encore à nouveau, a laissé vos désirs être pleins, et vos ennemis soient laissés vides." The woman mirrored, though speaking French. As with the male, a circle formed around her. The two circles melded together and formed one.
"Prossimo e sia miei, come la I è a voi." The male whispered, while the woman chanted, "Venez et soyez le mien, comme I soit à vous."
The giant circle, in the basement of the mansion isolated from the city, glowed once as runes formed around it and the circle began to stir, almost as if something was trying desperately to escape form the seal.
"Convoco, dalla tolleranza di questo Grail, questo servo!" The male finished as the woman mirrored him with, "J'appelle, par la grace de ce Graal, cet domestique!"
As both finished their chant, the room exploded into bright light. The woman let out a shriek as the man dove to protect her. As the two huddled on the floor, the woman cradled by the man, they watched as the light cleared. In the dark basement, lit only by candlelight, there were now four instead of two.
One was a woman, her hair black as coal and her eyes as amber. She wore light silk clothing of white's and tans. However, on her chest she wore a large golden vest, with a pattern after the god of the sun. From her ears was a pair of golden earrings. Her eyes scanned the room until they fell upon the man cradling the woman.
"Are you my Master?" She asked in a strong, but remarkably warm voice.
Checking that the woman was ok, the man stood up and stepped to the side. The woman in gold followed him with her eyes.
"Yes. I am." He answered.
Beside the woman in gold stood a tall, thin man, who frequently stole glances at the woman on the floor, and the woman standing beside him. He wore a simple suit in black, with a split tail long coat to complete the look of an English gentleman or lord.
"Woman." the man in black said with a smooth, silky voice that failed to hide any kind of animosity. "Are you my Master?"
The woman who, moments before was being protected, stood and said, in a voice full of strength. "Yes. And my name isn't, Woman. It's Maria."
"Master, who is this woman?" the woman in gold asked.
"She is my wife. My name is Ethan Reynold." the man said, grabbing Maria's hand and holding it tight.
"Then I will not attack her." the woman in gold said.
"And this, Ethan? I suppose I am to refrain from harming him as well?" the man in black said with a sneer.
"Yes." Maria said, glaring at the man.
"Well then Master, Assassin, HUMBLY, at your services." Assassin said derisively with a mocking bow.
"Master. I am Archer." the woman in gold said.
"Archer, are you good at scouting?" Ethan asked, pulling off the white robe to reveal simpler street clothes.
"Yes, of course." Archer said, sounding proud of herself.
"Then I want you to scout around the city and find out if the other Servants have been summoned yet." Ethan said with a small sigh.
"Right…" Archer said.
"Assassin, I want you to follow her and watch her back." Maria said.
"…whatever…" Assassin said in a dull tone.
Archer and Assassin both disappeared into thin air as they left, leaving the couple alone.
"Dear…do you mind if I ask something?" Ethan asked, glancing at his wife as the two made their way upstairs.
"What is it?" Maria asked in concern.
Ethan looked around awkwardly for a moment, then asked, "Why did you summon Assassin?"
Maria stopped to think for a moment then answered, "Eh. Seemed like the easiest way to win. Regardless, I think I figured out who mine is already."
"And who would that be?" Ethan asked, curious for his own sake.
"Mmm, I'm not telling yet!" Maria said with a playful laugh.
"Ugh. You enjoy teasing me don't you?" Ethan asked with a heavy sigh.
"Yup!" Maria answered, laughing more.
"Alright well, I'm gonna go and keep working on my project." Ethan said as the couple passed a second stairwell leading down.
"Good luck Love." Maria answered, pecking Ethan on the cheek.
"Hey, Maria. How about a little 'Mana time' later on? Eh? Nudge nudge, wink wink!" Ethan said playfully.
"I'll give you nudge nudge, wink wink." Maria said in a stern but loving tone, before lightly smacking Ethan in the head.
Ethan laughed as he walked down the stairs to his private work room. Both of the couple were Magisters, so they each had their own private work area and respected the others privacy, at least in this one area. The two's marriage had been preordained since they were children. Ethan's family was the more respected of the two, so Maria's family made a small "donation" as they called it to the Reynold interest: collecting magical items. Initially, the two had been rocky in their relationship but, as time passed, and both matured, they grew to tolerate, then like, then finally love each other.
Ethan glanced at his left forearm and the elegant red mark that now occupied it and thought, "So. The Holy Grail War begins…"
Above the city, Archer leapt through the air, invisible to the naked eye, feeling around with her mind to try and find the tell tale signs of a Servant. Trailing behind her was Assassin, invisible even to her, though she knew he was their due to her instincts of being followed.
Archer thought to herself, as she stood atop a sky scraper, "The Holy Grail…what would I do with it?"
Archer was lost in her musings when she felt the tell tale spike of a Servant being summoned. The mana output was astounding. Archer leapt towards it in hopes of finding out exactly who it was. Eventually, she reached a small home in the city district that didn't remotely feel like a Magister's home.
"Assassin, are you still there?" Archer asked, as she stood on the roof across form the home.
"Of course. As if I could lose you with that gold jacket of yours." Assassin answered from not ten inches behind Archer.
"Would you be willing to watch here for a time?" Archer asked, figuring that if at least one person was watching this place, she could find Masters more effectively.
"I don't see why. We already know a Servant is here. May as well kill them now." Assassin said, pulling a seven inch knife out of his jacket and giving it a casual toss into the air.
"For now, just watch ok?" Archer said, hating the man already.
"Whatever. I don't really care. However, just in case I need to find you…" Assassin said, trailing off without a word. Then he cut a small gash into archers right arm.
"What the hell!?" Archer exclaimed in fury, producing a small knife of her own, with a spiked guard and a wicked edge.
"Relax. If I wanted to kill you, you'd already be dead my dear. When I draw blood, I can find you wherever I want." Assassin explained, licking the blood off of his straight razor.
Casting a worried glance at Assassin, Archer leapt away, leaving the man to watch the house by himself.
"I wonder if there are any ladies of the night in this era ...surely…surely…" Assassin mused to himself, reaching into his pocket and feeling the reassuring handle of his favorite 'pastime'.
"Master." Archer communicated telepathically.
"Hmm. Oh, Archer. What have you found?" Ethan asked, setting the cloth down and stepping away from his bench.
"We have found a Servant. Assassin is watching it now." Archer explained.
"Excellent." Ethan said.
"Er…Master. I would like to bring something up that troubles me." Archer said cautiously, almost as if worried she would upset her master.
"What is it?" Ethan asked, concerned about what would have Archer worried.
"It's Assassin. I would advise both you and Mrs. Reynold be wary of him. He reeks of blood…" Archer said with disgust.
"Hmm. Well, for now, we'll use his abilities cautiously. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me Archer. Please do so whenever you feel it necessary.
"Yes Master." Archer said.
"Ooo. He's leaving." Assassin thought as he watched a pair of men leave the house.
One was obviously the master, since he wore clothes for the era. A pair of tattered jeans and a red shirt, with jet black hair. An easy kill, Assassin mused. The other was the servant. He was tall but not imposing, and he radiated a calm. He wore black pants with a pale black shirt, and a pure white jacket over that, the jacket trailing down to his ankles. His hair was dusty blonde and slicked back.
"Now that would be a kill…" Assassin mused, holding his throwing knife at the ready, a small, cruel, grin forming.
"Master…" The Servant whispered, his voice radiating calm.
"One's nearby Saber?" the Master asked.
Assassin lowered the knife and replaced it in his Leather Apron, the grin falling away in an instant. "I don't need to be playing with a Saber…too much hassle…"
"Where?" The Master asked. "Wait. Never mind. I see them now…"
"Please be cautious." Saber urged.
"Another? Maybe this one…" Assassin said, the grin returning even though he didn't draw a knife.
Approaching from the end of the street was a man with long brown hair, followed by a gigantic Servant. The servant stood twice as tall as it's master, and the master was at least six foot. In it's right hand it held a spear as tall as itself, and in it's left hand, it wielded a shield as tall as Assassin.
"A late time for a walk!" Saber's Master said airily.
"No way. Too big…" Assassin said, content to watch the inevitable bloodbath.
"Berserker. Kill him." the new Master said, without a seconds pause, while simultaneously calling a small hoard of animated skeletons.
Berserker attacked with a speed that belied his size. Saber's Master was only saved by Saber tackling him out of the way. The giant spear crashed into Saber's Master's house, crumbling the section of the wall it hit.
"You ass! On the name of the Wallace Family Line, I, Ross Wallace will make you pay in blood!" Ross said, his hands igniting with fire.
"…oh goodie. A pompous twit…" Assassin muttered to himself, then his eyes widened as he realized he had one of his throwing knives out. "Huh…wonder what my Lady of the Night will say."
"Master." Assassin said telepathically to Maria.
"What?" Maria answered, annoyed at the interruption.
"Would you rather I call back?" Assassin said. "Ooo. He's pretty good with that sword…"
"What sword?" Maria asked, confused now.
"Sorry. Watching a duel between Masters. On that note, can I kill them if I get the chance?" Assassin asked.
"…go ahead. But don't tell Ethan about it, understood?" Maria said sternly.
"Ah…would you're hubby not like you killing people?" Assassin taunted.
Maria didn't answer him and Assassin found a literal wall between him and his master.
"Sheesh. No sense of humor…I've killed for less than that…" Assassin thought to himself.
"I heard that…" Maria said.
"Women…" Assassin said, blocking HER out this time and returning his attention to the battle.
Saber and Berserker were trading blows while Ross was fighting back the skeletons. Ross had ignited his hands and legs on fire and was able to take the skeletons down rather easily (They're just bones. Of course they break after one hit, Assassin chided himself.) while Saber was having a large amount of trouble with Berserker. It wasn't because Saber was too slow, or Berserker too fast. It was simply that Berserker had a shield, and his spear apparently weighed more than it looked.
"Master. I could create an opening. Perhaps we should flee?" Saber offered in a lull.
"If you can, go for it. There's something odd about this Master." Ross growled.
"Then, Master, please shield your eyes." Saber said, before holding his sword as if in prayer.
"Hmm? Well, lets see if I can time this right. Fun shot~" Assassin muttered to himself, holding one of his throwing knives at the ready.
Saber held his sword above his head and it exploded into flames.
"That sword…" Berserker's master muttered.
"Saber!" Ross said in worry.
"Durendal!" Saber shouted, before launching the mass of flames at Berserker.
At the same moment, Assassin launched one of his knives, catching Ross in the gut.
When the explosion of flames cleared, Berserker and his master stood alone. Berserker's master looked around briefly.
"I know you are there. Best be glad I cannot find you. Tell your master that destruction is coming…" Berserkers master said aloud.
Assassin's eyes widened as he thought, "He knows I'm here? Fu~un."
"We're leaving." Berserker's master said.
Both turned and began to walk the way they came.
"Hmm. Now what to do?" Assassin mused to himself, keeping in the shadows and out of sight. "Do I follow them? Or do I kill the brat with Roland…?"
"Another? This close?" Archer mused. She watched as a woman walked seemingly alone through one of the numerous construction areas. The area was getting closer to where Ethan and Maria lived.
Although she couldn't see it, Archer could feel an intense collection of mana nearby and knew it was a servant.
"Come out little Servant. I know you're there." the girl taunted.
Archer gasped in shock of being caught, but recovered and drew her knife before landing soundlessly atop a railing used to make the basic structure of a skyscraper.
"Ah…Saber? Or maybe Assassin?" the girl mused. With her violet hair and clear eyes, she looked like an innocent child. Her clean clothes didn't hurt the image.
"Master. I may need some assistance. This girl seems strong…" Archer said, a small note of worry in her voice.
"Hmm? Already? I thought the scary ones would bide their time…I'm on my way. Try to hold out until then." Ethan said, setting his work aside and gathering a few choice items.
"Hmm. I wonder just what you are…oh well! I suppose it doesn't matter does it?" the girl asked Archer with a shrug and a wide smile. "Lancer!"
Behind her, a giant of a man appeared. He wore blue chain mail and silver armor over every inch of his body except his face. In his hands he held the hugest lance that Archer had ever seen. It stood a foot taller than lancer with a two foot wide and two foot long head. Its edge glimmered in the moonlight.
"…holy crap…" Archer muttered as she glanced at her dagger.
"Lancer, kill her." the girl said with a light hearted voice, as if she had just asked for a cup of tea.
"Yes, mistress." Lancer said, before stepping to face Archer and bowing. "Let us enjoy this for what it is worth young lady."
Archer arced an eyebrow at the politeness of this Servant; who radiated so much blood lust but felt the need to try and strike polite conversation with their opponent?
Lancer lunged, thrusting that huge spear of his with shocking speed. Archer barely managed to avoid it before Lancer swept it across to catch her in the head. Archer weaved and twisted to dodge Lancer's barrage as she tried to find a pattern to exploit. She didn't want to expose more than she had to, and was wishing she had chosen a different weapon than Afzal Kahn despite the Luck bonus.
Lancer thrust again, and this time, Archer made her move. Ducking and then lunging forward, Archer brought her knife to bear and slashed at Lancer's side, hoping to catch him in the kidney's or otherwise make some kind of damage. But the knife broke on contact.
"What!?" Archer thought frantically as she instinctively dived out of the counters path.
With a light chuckle, the girl said, "Lancer isn't like most Servants. His armor is impenetrable. He was never harmed while he was alive, no matter how vicious the battle was."
"Shit." Archer muttered, throwing away the remnants of Afzal Kahn and materializing a golden long bow.
"Oh! You're an Archer! That explains why you suck so much! Lancer, would you mind crushing that fly?" Lancer's Master said with a joyful smile.
Archer drew an arrow and thought to herself, "If I use my REAL Noble Phantasm, I'll be drained of Mana. Plus, that spear looks like it might make me a corpse regardless…"
"Of course mistress." Lancer said, his lip curling with disgust as he stared at Archer.
Archer fired an arrow at Lancer, but it simply bounced off and Lancer quickly lashed out. Archer, watched the spearhead fly at her, and leapt atop it, vaulting into the air, and aiming another arrow straight at the Servant's master.
"Ah…" the girl said with an evil smirk.
Archer loosed the arrow and Lancer quickly intercepted it.
"…and now you're trapped in the air…enjoy being skewered." the girl said dismissively.
"A Mani Vuote Spinta Dell'aria (Empty Handed Air Pushing)" came a mans voice from behind the girl, followed by, "Ricerca Parteggiata Sette (Seven Sided Seeking)"
Archer was pushed out of the air by an accelerated body of air while the girl was forced to defend herself from what looked like seven baseballs flying at her.
"Oude Muur van Gewogen Schilden (Ancient Wall of Weighted Shields)" she cried, and from the ground in front of her, a large quantity of battered and rusted shields shot up all around her to defend against the attack.
"Huh, well what do you know? If it isn't little Amanda!" Ethan said with a completely cool look on his face. The seven baseballs, which were actually solid diamonds, floated around him, encircling him and looking as if they wanted to get out and attack again.
"Ethan? Then Archer is your Servant!?" Amanda cried in both contempt and joy.
"Yup. And it looks like you have a pet Lancer now." Ethan said, lashing out with a hand and sending the diamonds attacking again.
This time, they attacked in a line, hammering the same point in Amanda's barrier. Amanda responded by muttering, "Klauw Mes. (Talon Cleaver)"
A mass of crimson spikes appeared from outside the wall of shields that Amanda hid behind and flew through the air towards Ethan.
"Ever since you became the Guardian of this little town, I haven't been able to touch you legally. Now on the other hand…" Amanda taunted.
Ethan slid his hands behind his back and whispered, "Nove Rovine di Galleggiamento (Nine Floating Ruins)"
From behind his back, nine sheets of metal the size of a sheet of paper flew out and arranged themselves as a barrier against Amanda's attack.
"You think that'll be enough?" Amanda taunted as she constantly refreshed her shield wall.
"Watch." Ethan said with a smirk as Amanda's attack hit his own defenses.
And began to buckle and dissolve against the barrier.
"Pure Mithril Steel my dear. Completely unbreakable. You should know that, being a metal caster. In fact, I think you might recognize these…" Ethan taunted, spinning around one of the plates to show what looked like a family emblem.
"Asshole! Bastard! Coward! Cheater! Impotent, man whoring, deceiving piece of shit!" Amanda shouted until she was hoarse, her eyes bulging in rage. "You cheated me out of my own creations!"
"Only because you made a bet you weren't willing to lose. And come on. We never were together. And my wife is perfectly ok with me flirting since I never-" Ethan tried to explain before Amanda interrupted.
"Lancer! Kill him! Rip him to shreds! Tear him limb from li-" Amanda tried to say, but she stopped as she realized there was a thin bit of steel at her neck. Lancer stopped halfway through turning to attack, and Archer stopped as well, keeping her bow trained on Lancer and her nerves on edge.
"Let's try that again shall we?" Assassin muttered as he reappeared from Amanda's shadow. "You were going to say, and I quote, 'Lancer. We're leaving. I am smart enough to realize that three on one is quite the mismatch, and, might I add, that the man holding me hostage is quite handsome,' right?"
Amanda glanced down at her neck and noticed that it wasn't a knife that was held against her neck, but a straight razor as thin as paper.
"Oh, now don't think about struggling my dear girl. You'd mar the beautiful skin of your neck. Did you know that that is one of the most attractive parts?" Assassin asked, kissing Amanda on the cheek.
"Lancer…we're leaving." Amanda said, her shield wall and attack dropping away and evaporating like water.
"Mistress…" Lancer said, disgusted that he couldn't protect his master.
"Oh yes, just in case I ever feel like talking with you again…" Assassin said before ever so gently tracing his razor against the side of Amanda's neck so that it barely bled. "Now run away little girl of the Night. May we meet again~"
Amanda turned and left with a huff, stopping long enough to shout, "I'll kill you, you know? And you'll beg me to do it."
With a sigh, Ethan collected his items and watched her go.
"Well if you don't mind, I think I'll follow her for a bit. Don't get killed, your wifey-poo would be angry with you~" Assassin teased as he disappeared.
"Master, why does that girl hate you so much?" Archer asked, walking up to stand in front of her master.
"Huh? Oh. See, awhile back, we were in the same little study group for metal manipulation. She apparently developed a bit of a crush on me and well, you see things now. Regrettably, I was a bit less noble than I am now. I used her talents in metal manipulation and her feelings for me to get her into a bet that she really couldn't win and, well, I won nine sheets of Mithril steel from it." Ethan said with a slightly embarrassed look.
"Do you regret it?" Archer asked with a hard look.
"Does it matter? Regret doesn't help anyone. It's done, and, for the most part, nothing changed." Ethan said dismissively. "Let's get out of…huh? I thought I felt…Archer, someone's nearby."
With an oath about trespassers and something about the late hour, Ethan set up his defense and offense.
"Come on out…I know you're there." Ethan said in a slight sing song tone.
From the shadows of the nearly finished building walked a man and a woman. The man wore plain clothes and had black hair and tan skin. Behind him walked a woman in a plain white dress with no shoes and bushy brown hair down to her waist.
"Another Master? Christ almighty!" Ethan said with a huff. "Archer, you take the servant. She doesn't look very strong and that's what has me worried."
"Right." Archer said, anxious to redeem herself after being saved first by her Master, then by Assassin.
She fired an arrow at the woman who raised her hand and blocked the blow with a shield of light.
"Caster." Ethan cursed, tightening the magic reins on his enchantments.
"Wait! What are you doing?! I don't even know what's going on!" the tan skinned man yelled.
"Don't play dumb with me! Even if you're a kid, I'll still kill you if you aren't careful!" Ethan shouted, seeing the man was barely as old as himself.
The seven diamonds lanced through the night and the boy dived out of the way. While Archer tried to land a blow on Caster, Ethan continued his assault on the latest Master. For the entire duration, the kid pleaded for the attack to stop. But, playing it safe, Ethan refused to let up. With a grunt, one of the diamonds found it's target and smashed into the boy's stomach. As he doubled over from the blow, the rest found him and began to hammer him from all sides. While they fought, Caster stayed on the defensive, blocking all of Archer's attacks with relative ease. Archer fired more and more arrows in an attempt to break her guard, but Caster simply raised a larger shield of Light and the arrows disappeared.
"Defend yourself dammit!" Ethan shouted, worried that he would end up killing a defenseless magus.
Eventually the boy fell to his knees, and finally the ground, coughing up a small amount of blood, his face bruised and bleeding from the attacks.
"Jeez. You really are a hopeless magus. Or were you even trained?" Ethan mused as he walked over to the kid, surveying the damage.
"From the coughed blood, I likely damaged a lung. He's bleeding from the nose, and the way he shakes when he breathes definitely has broken ribs written all over it. Not to mention the dozen or so bruises." Ethan thought as he stared at the kid.
"You'll live if you're servant knows anything about Healing Sorcery. Now look, I'm gonna give you a few tips. First, get the hell out of this war. Second, if you choose to stay in it, you better learn some Sorcery, otherwise, you're a sitting duck, especially with a Caster. And third, avoid me like the plague. I'll kill you if I see you again." Ethan said before recalling all of his artifacts and saying, "Archer. We're out of here."
"Master…" Archer muttered before complying.
Ethan returned to his and Maria's home to find his wife asleep. After depositing the metal plates and the diamonds where they were stored, Ethan changed his clothes to pajamas.
"Archer, I want you to rest. You fought a lot tonight." Ethan told her from outside a guest bedroom, down the hall from the master bedroom.
"Master, I am fine. There is no need to worry about me." Archer answered curtly.
"Look, just rest alright? I know your pride must be a little damaged right now and I want you to recover from fighting. I can already tell Assassin is back, so please rest." Ethan said with a sigh and stifled yawn.
"…alright Master." Archer said, entering the room.
Before she closed the door Ethan tapped her on the shoulder and said with a smile, "Lancer was lucky I showed up though. If I hadn't, you might have had to go full power on him…"
Archer smiled a little, then gently closed the door.
Ethan's smile on the other hand, dropped as soon as the door closed. Lancer was quite strong. Definitely Archer's superior in a direct fight. The other heroes were just as impressive. Saber was Roland from the Song of Roland and if Assassin was to be trusted, Berserker was a Spartan and was stronger than Saber in a direct confrontation. Plus, Ethan still had no idea who or what Rider and Caster were. Caster he pushed out of his mind due to the incompetent Master, but Rider could be a problem.
"Dear. I'm a little worried one of us might not survive this war…" Ethan said as he lay down in his bed and slid against his wife.
Maria stirred sleepily and rubbed against him. "Ethan? We'll be fine…If you die, I'll just find you in the afterlife, bring you back and beat you to death."
Ethan chuckled slightly at that and said, "Yes dear. With you at my side, this war is as good as won."
Maria looked over her shoulder and kissed Ethan on the lips, then the two quieted and fell asleep.
But before he did, Ethan had one last thought. What if he lost Maria?