Disclaimer: I do not own Fate/Stay Night or Assassin's Creed. They belong to their respective owners.
There were those who vehemently claim that when a person realized he or she was dreaming then that person would wake up. For Emiya Shirou, those people were liars. He was not awake, and he knew that this was a dream.
Many times had his dreams felt inexplicably realistic, but of all only one could he recognize as a memory of his past. It was when he had awoken after being rescued by Kiritsugu, preventing him from becoming another victim of the great fire. He had never forgotten that day; it was so unfair that only he had survived while the others were left to perish, and he had never forgiven himself because of it.
But that's it, the only dream he knew as part of his past. And yet there were others, dreams with similarly realistic feel, extremely detailed and vivid every time he saw them. They were disjointed and confusing but not entirely undecipherable, and not only could he remember what he had seen, but there are time where he could vaguely understand what was going on. And that's how he knew those dreams couldn't be his; the people spoke in many different languages – and curiously for unknown reasons he could understand them - dressed in different clothes, lived in cities with buildings of definitely un-Japanese architecture and behaved in different mannerisms. And then there were the weapons some of them wielded: longswords, scimitars, Saracen bows, yatagans, crossbows, matchlock muskets…it's as if he's not even dreaming the current era!
Only two things could he concluded from all those. Apparently he was seeing - no, perhaps reliving would be the better word - the memories of at least two person, judging by the names used to address him and how dreams could be loosely categorized into two different time periods when on compares all the details.
And the second thing? These two people had things in common: they're ruthless, calculative, patient, determined…and lethal.
They reminded him of the other side of Kiritsugu.
Phantom Hero of Justice
Chapter 1: The Call to Arms
"So it has begun?" Vidic's voice could be heard from the phone.
"That is correct, my good doctor," the priest acknowledged. "The Fifth Holy Grail War has begun, and I am its supervisor."
Kotomine Kirei had not always been a Templar. Heck, he didn't even know their existence went beyond being an order of knights that once waged war on the Holy Land, that they have actually existed long before and how their actions have influenced events beyond his imaginations, until a few years ago right after the death of Emiya Kiritsugu. Oh sure, he had heard the rumors from fellow Church Executors and there had been some suspicions regarding a number unnatural events which were intriguingly different from what they were familiar with, but there had been no absolute proof before. The appearance of their agent had therefore been surprising, the person being a member of London Clock Tower even more; the selection of a Templar from that particular occupation was a cunning show of force, a hint to just how far reaching their influence were.
And now here he was, conversing to one of their prominent member as their sole magus agent in Fuyuki City.
"Then it's just as you said, Kotomine. The war came even faster than before. Dammit! Change of plans, then. I'm giving you a contact to our nearest magus, currently residing in Tokyo." The scientist muttered a name, followed by a string of numbers. "Have him participate as a Master. He has a poor reputation of caution but we have no better option – we have few mage operatives in Japan and most of them are currently occupied."
"Considering your position as the supervisor of the current one well as a veteran of the previous, I assume you will be support him indirectly?"
"I can." Kotomine answered, deliberately using the word can instead of will. The fools thought that he serves their cause, but the false priest only serves himself and the twisted joy of suffering inside. Their reaction to his eventual betrayal will be a source of amusement for him.
"Good. Like to others I don't think that this…Grail of yours is a Piece of Eden, but I acknowledge that its power is exceptional. We are gaining the upper hand for now, but overall success is far from certain. We need every advantage we can get. Make sure it gets completed and secure it, Kotomine."
The priest voiced his assurance before ending the conversation. "Don't worry; I'll do my best to ensure its completion."
He's not lying. After realizing how he couldn't find happiness aside from committing evil, Kirei had continuously questioned his own existence, on why a person as unnatural and wicked as him was allowed to be brought to this world. His encounter with the corrupted Grail that had materialized during the fourth war had intrigued him, for he had felt a twisted sense of similarity with the incomplete abomination. And now he will allow the thing, which he saw as a larger version of himself, to be fully born; perhaps then, his questions would be answered.
A pity the he has no Servant of his own. Sometimes he wondered whether Gilgamesh would have been able to live long after the fourth war had he also been touched by the tainted water from the Holy Grail. Unfortunately he never had a chance to know the answer – Servant Saber had managed to slay the king of Heroes during the final hours of the battle, though she and her Master had been too late to notice and prevent him from praying for his wish to be fulfilled by the artifact.
"Father Kotomine, are you here?" a woman's voice was heard from the doorstep following a knock at the front door. Ah, she's come, Kirei mused. A few days ago he had contacted the woman, and answering his invitation sorcerer-huntress Bazett Fraga McRemitz had come from the Mage Association. He had met the young woman during a mission and after a string of events she grown to trust him to the point that she had been obviously enthusiastic over the message he had given him, no hints of suspicion coming from her tone.
Poor girl. Even had Kotomine not been a Templar she was fated for a doomed end, for the false priest merely sees her as a chess piece. The only question was how valuable her servant would be; if it turns out to be exceptionally powerful then the priest would allow her to live for a few days to pit her with other masters and let them make a mess of things – he didn't want to win, after all; he just wanted the Grail to be completed - and if not…well, he could use an extra hand.
"Please enter, Bazett, I've been expecting you!" His voice hauntingly echoed inside the church, and a few hours later the war officially began in its earnest.
Punch, parry, jab, dodge, stab. Inside the spacious Emiya dojo, its young owner was performing his daily image training.
Both hands were donning thin leather gauntlets and gloves, form-fitting enough to feel as if wearing nothing at all. Below the wrists were his personally crafted contraptions, its construction guided by the unexplainable dreams whispering its design and utilization – was it the effect of his unusual skill with Structural Analysis? With a specific hand motion the mechanism would trigger and a small hidden blade would protrude for use; another specific hand motion would retract it back inside the gauntlet.
He has no idea on how the medieval and renaissance-era warriors in his dreams could get a hold of such advanced design, but Shirou had took little thought in it as he had learned to appreciate them. The gauntlets were compact and unobtrusive so he could partially conceal them with long-sleeved clothing, allowing him to use them to parry and its blades for sneak attacks or as last-ditch weapons. But what made them truly special was the material he had forged the blades with: Kiritsugu's Origin Bullets - leftover from the previous war, now too few and precious to be used as projectiles, his secret weapon against the supernatural. He has yet to actually use them in real combat though, so he could only guess its actual efficiency from the dreams, notes and his image training.
The clock stroked at ten, signaling the boy to end his practice, loosen the equipments and store them safely away from curious eyes. After he finished the boy closed the dojo doors and made way to another part of his house where his magus workshop was –it could barely qualify as one, but it's not like he has a better term for it- to initiate the next activity in his agenda.
Spell book on her right hand, her personal red pendant on the left, and a snake skin as a catalyst, the last given by her 'Mentor' -the girl always hated to consider the creepy priest as one- as a gift, saying that if she's lucky she just might be able to summon an exceptional Servant with it. Standing at the middle of the meticulously crafted summoning circle, Tohsaka Rin was preparing to enter the Holy Grail War.
She never knew what servant had her esteemed father previously summoned since the jerk priest had always dodged the question, refusing to tell even the Servant Class let alone the name and instead replied with his annoying smirk, but from the few hints here and there which he had dropped she had come to conclude that it was at least phenomenally strong, formidable enough to last till the final rounds of the war. Of course, the prodigious girl knew better than to rely solely on the words of her ambiguous mentor. Her ritual would be carefully planned and executed, befitting the high standards of excellence of the elite Tohsaka family; she had spent her entire life honing her skill in magecraft, the summoning circle had been drawn with extreme precision, and her peak moment of power was near. She had almost managed to screw up the last one but thankfully she had noticed the potential disaster and had corrected all the clocks in her house; another thorough check and recheck had soon followed, and now she was confident that nothing would go wrong.
It would be perfect.
The clocks inside her mansion stroke, and Rin wasted no time to begin the ritual. The incantations flowed flawlessly from her mouth, the creed of the Tohsaka family embedded in it. As she almost finished the summoning, the twintails could swear she sensed the coming of her Servant, ready to heed her calling…
What? Where is he? The girl started to lose her composure.
No, no no no. NO! Don't tell me I did something wrong?
Why? What? Where? When? How?
Grr… Alright baka-Rin, stay calm and analyze the situation…
A loud sound upstairs caught her attention. Running towards the upper levels, she found one of her rooms wrecked; the furnitures were broken and the windows shattered. But what really surprised her was the man in golden armor, sitting haughtily in one of her damaged sofa.
A Servant? Her hopes returned. MY Servant?
The man took a look on the girl for a while, only to turn his head towards the rest of the room as if her presence was nothing worth accounting. Feeling insulted, Rin braved herself to strike a perfectly civilized conversation.
"You there. Are you my Servant?"
The man took another look at her and frowned. "Mongrel. Is that the way to address your King?"
What? Tohsaka was infuriated. How dare he…!
Calm down Rin, calm down, Servants came from different eras and civilizations after all; of course there would be some dissonance…
She made a polite bow and introduced herself. "Greetings. My name is Tohsaka Rin, a magus. Who are you, and are you my Servant?"
"Ahahaha!" The man let out an arrogant laughter. "Not bad, peasant girl, not bad, but you still have a long way to go…"
SNAP. That's it. The Tohsaka maiden was prideful; there's no way she would let that one slip. The Servant realized the surge of power too late and was unable to do anything as she used a Command Spell…
"Dammit, you! Behave yourself!"
"Ergh!" the armored man jerked, trying to resist, but the power of his Command Spell overwhelmed him.
"Now. Since it's obvious that you are my Servant, please introduce yourself."
The man winced for a moment, but then let out a smile. Interesting, he thought. What he had thought to be a frail little magus girl turned out to have some backbone. Hmph, perhaps it would be amusing to see how the spitfire would fare in this war; he needed some entertainment anyway. Who knows, maybe she has the quality equal with the servants of his old kingdom…
"Rejoice, young Master, for you have summoned the greatest champion of all. Know that I am Gilgamesh, King of Heroes!"
"Gwargh!" A cry of pain escaped Shirou's lips as he tasted firsthand the result of his training gone wrong. The blast had sent hundreds of small metal shards flying, many hitting the part of him closest – the left hand that Projected the now broken blade.
Sigh. "And here I thought this is a thing of the past." He reached the first-aid kit nearby and began nursing his arm as well as some other parts graced by the shards. It's a good thing the world has already began to erase them – picking them out of his flesh would be a hassle, even if they're not deeply embedded in it. Am I really that half-assed a magus?
It is funny how one setback could wash away all the optimism built by earlier strings of success.
Just about a few months ago he had been celebrating on how he had finally got the hang on his success. A small success by the standards of your average, properly taught magi, but it had been satisfying for him since Emiya Shirou never had a proper teacher; Kiritsugu had only enlightened him in the basics, and he had been forced to infiltrate his father's room when the latter hadn't been present. They had been hidden very well, and Shirou suspected that his father burned every last one of them after noticing the changes in his room. Thus the boy had been forced to rely on the basics taught to him and the booty from his raid.
Unfortunately, the notes he had copied from Kiritsugu's journal were confusing, filled with many terminologies and phrases he couldn't understand, something which he suspected to have been a standard and deliberate attempt by every magus to confuse any common people that happened to stumble on their stuff. The few skills which Kiritsugu had taught him had helped the boy make sense on some parts, but in the end most of his Magecraft practice had been based on his own experimentation. He knew it was dangerous but the lack of other options had left him with little choice, so it was most fortunate that there were at least some fruits to his labor. Great joy had filled his heart the first time he had succeeded with Reinforcement, and a series of more intense training followed suit; shinai, toy cars, soccer ball, heater, cooking knife…he had tried his newfound skill on all of those (and more. Bless the Japanese and their habit of putting broken utensils on specific drop points and permitting others to claim possession of it) and thus had been optimistic than nothing could go wrong.
So naturally, things had gone wrong.
Not all of his later Reinforcement practice had actually been completely successful, but they had not been complete failure either. At worse, the objects would only be partially fixed. To have the object explode, even at a non-life threatening level, was thus a truly disheartening setback.
But though the boy's now low self-esteem wouldn't recognize it, it's not as if he had suddenly return to being stupid. The notes might have penned Projection as a more complex form of Reinforcement but that didn't mean they're the same; just because he's now passable at the latter didn't mean he's automatically going to be good at the former.
Then again, the boy had also missed the addendum saying how Projection was seen as mostly useless by most magi except for certain situations, rare urgent matters that put availability above quality. It's just his rotten luck to not being able to copy and understand all parts of Kiritsugu's journal.
Screw it, the boy thought. What kind of hero would just surrender like this? A useful thing, that insane determination of his. It would not fix his self-loathing, but it did wonders to his will to endure hardship. As he started to bandage his arm, Shirou was already making plans to practice more this night…
…I never knew wounds could have this kind of shape?
Servant Rider stiffened as the old man passed her. Even in astral from she could feel him staring at her, watching her every movement and action. But it's not the stare that made her uneasy; even when he's not around, the feeling of being watched could be felt all around the house. No, what really agitated her was how inhuman he was.
Rider herself was a monster, but even she found his existence to be displeasing. The man, if you could even call it that, was sinister in nature; his decaying body, maintained with the flesh of those not of his own while his crest worms swarmed inside of him was good proof of it. His magic was unnatural, filled with the utmost desire to consume anything, ANYTHING, and leaving none. The way he saw and treated his grandchildren was merely the final nail to the coffin.
"Rider, time to go!" Heeding the orders from her Master, the Servant spirited herself away from the mansion.
Zouken briefly observed the Master-Servant pair and shook his head. The boy was of no real value of him and the woman was nothing special; the only reason he had allowed the boy to take command of her was because her real Master was too precious to be caught in the crossfire. It was a masterpiece-in-making, molded through years of carefully placed mental manipulation and physical torture while Crest Worms remodeled her body to suit his purpose. No, he had put too much investment in it to let it be used prematurely.
Speaking of which, the string of events that had unfolded the last few days had been giving him some extra thought. Inside the Einzberns Castle was their latest Grail-to-be homunculus, guarded by the nigh-invulnerable Servant it had summoned before coming here. The false priest only has one Servant, stolen from the gullible woman who was supposed to be his ally, but as the previous war had shown the man was unpredictable in nature; underestimating him would risk throwing a wrench into the works, doubly so since he seemed to have connections with influential people outside Fuyuki City, far beyond the reach of his eyes. The Tohsaka heir had, against all odds, summoned the exact same Servant as her father's, one whose game-breaking powers was only limited by his own hubris. Master of Caster, another person who was suspected to be working with Kotomine, had died at the hands of his own Servant and now the sorceress had formed a contract with another person and took refuge inside the Ryuudou temple complex. She's currently harmless, with barely enough strength to cast a spell that would prey on the strength of nearby people, but soon she would recover and if she's really the Witch from the Age of Gods as he suspected, than she would be able to perform game-breaking magic of her own, magic like…
…summoning a Servant.
Time to add another pawn, it seemed. What he was about to do was undoubtedly unfair, but he had existed and participated in the wars, directly and indirectly, large role and small, long before the current set of rules were established. There's no way he would be hampered by mere technicalities.
Below the mansion was a ritual chamber, the floor having only recently been decorated with a summoning circle drawn with human blood. With a mental command the worms put a huge chunk of barely moving flesh at the nearby sacrificial platform; the person was alive but not for long, as his soul and flesh was to be consumed and in exchange the Makiri patriarch would have his extra puppet. Satisfied with the preparation, Matou Zouken stepped into the circle and began the dark ritual.
The circle glowed as the incantations were voiced, and as more words left his mouth the round platform started to tremble and the magic circle covering the sacrificial offering also shined. Life finally departed the body, its soul and flesh reacted to the ritual and was consumed wholly. When Zouken finally finished, in the platform stood something different from what the object had placed on it.
A person. Middle-Eastern by his features, along with a short black beard as facial decoration and a hood covering his head. There was a scar in his right eye but the organ itself seemed to be fully functional, most likely caused by the Grail fixing the Servants it summoned to allow them to fight at their best ability, but not appearance. He wore a light armored black robe and in both hands were gauntlets, the left one suspiciously bulkier than the right as if hiding something. In his belt were a slightly curved longsword and, more interestingly, a spherical artifact from which Zouken could feel great power, something that he was certain to be another Noble Phantasm.
"Servant Assassin awaiting your bidding, My Lord."
Not bad, Zouken thought. Not exactly war-winning material, but still more promising than the purple-haired one. An ideal weapon of subterfuge.
"Come, Servant. We have much to do."
"Senpai, please wake up." An angelic voice awakened Emiya Shirou from his slumber.
"Ah, Sakura, good morning." The reply came out as he opened his eyes and noticed the purple-haired maiden. He then noticed that she was staring at his mouth. "Err…I guess I was drooling in my sleep again, wasn't I?"
His kouhai merely smiled and pulled out her handkerchief for him. "Seriously senpai, sleeping like this is bad for your health."
"Ahahaha…" Knowing that he's a bad liar, Shirou instead tried to just laugh it off. Thankfully, Sakura didn't press the issue. Good thing I always practice magecraft last, he thought. Reinforced objects were easier to handwave, while he couldn't imagine what to do if she caught him red-handed with the gauntlets…cosplay didn't seem like the wisest of excuse.
As the two of them entered the dining room, he noticed that a usually present figure was absent today. "Hmm, where's Fuji-nee, Sakura?" he asked.
"Ah, it seems that Fujimura-sensei has a morning meeting with the staff today," she answered as both of them brought the meals into the table. "Something about safety concerns for the students due to recent incidents, I think."
Shirou's face slightly darkened, but if Sakura noticed it she didn't show them. "Oh, the one in the news, was it? Something about people being attacked with unusual weapons?"
"Most likely." Sakura nodded, but then let out a slight blush when she realized that her senpai was staring at her. "Senpai, is there something on my face?"
"Hmm?" The question snapped Shirou out of his reverie. "Eh? No, no, no…it's just that…" I was wondering if there was more to this than simple homicide, since this city had become victim to a supernatural conflict years before. He didn't say it out loud, concluding that he was putting too much thought in it, though a small part of his brain kept saying "Careless!"
"It's quite unsettling, these news." He spoke, deciding to voice a more pressing concern of his. "Is it safe for you to come so early and leave so late like always?"
"Eh? Senpai, do you perhaps dislike my presence?" She looked disappointed.
"What? No!" A quick rebuttal. "Definitely not! You're very kind, and it's very nice to eat with others, and-" you're quite pretty, with beautiful hair and bi-, he panicked at the unexpected extra thought, wait, what were you thinking? She's practically family; shame on you, Emiya, shame on you! "-and uh, Fuji-nee really likes you!"
"It's just that I'm worried for your safety…things seems to have gotten dangerous lately."
"Ah, I see." Sakura smiled, glad at both the assurance and concern. "Don't worry senpai, I'll be careful. Speaking of which, what happened to your arm?"
"Oh, this?" Shirou waved his bandaged left arm. "It's fine. Doesn't hurt at all, actually; I just bandaged them because it looked weird."
"Senpai, you really should be more careful with your hobby." Again he nervously laughed her worry off, and both of them continued their meal.
The feeling of nausea that she immediately felt just as she entered her school put the Tohsaka heir on guard. Analyzing the whole premise for a while, she concluded that what covered the entire area was an abominable boundary field, one designed to consume the flesh and soul of everyone unlucky enough to be caught within, converting them into power which the spellcaster would then feed on. It was freshly made, meaning that there would be some time before it activates, but when it does…
Tohsaka Rin was not a knight, she was a magus. And like others of similar profession, she was capable to engage in manipulation and trickery should the situation demands. But there were lines she would not cross, despicable things she would never do as they would go against everything she stood for.
Homuraba School was her territory, and its students, however distant she were with them, her friends. Once she gets her hands on them whoever responsible for this transgression will not live to see the dawn.
As she entered her school with suppressed fury, the astralized Golden King couldn't help but snicker at her reaction. "My, my. Possessive little vixen, aren't you?"
"Senpai, I'll be going to the Archery Club now." With a bow, Matou Sakura parted with him along with one Mitsuzuri Ayako.
When he entered the school Shirou had tried to enter the various martial arts club, training to be a hero in mind, but his …shocking… performance during the membership tests had made it no longer possible.
Archery? Him bringing an unusual looking self-made bow, with a wooden maple core, animal horn on the side facing the archer, and sinew on the back, had been surprising. Him using unorthodox shooting forms - Turkish style he'd said - had been frown-inducing. And him actually achieving perfect accuracy with all those irregularities had been jealousy-inducing. Despite the protestation of some members who had appreciated his talent, a certain Mitsuzuri Ayako in particular, he had then been dismissed on the grounds of being too "un-Japanese".
Swordsmanship? When he tried to enter the Kendo Club, the seniors had pitted him, just as it was with the rest of the candidates, with their Ace in order to see just how long he would last and how strong would he endure; weeding out the weak, they'd said. All of them jeered and sneered at him when he had held his shinai with one hand, seeing it as a sign of total amateurism. Then the taunts were replaced with anger as he ignored tradition by refusing to announce his attacks, aim at officially forbidden spots and, most importantly to their pride, to actually send their Ace to the ground unconscious when the champion had decided to humor the boy, along with seven other seniors who had tried to avenge their friend's honor.
Unarmed martial arts? Well let's just say that after a series of bruised limbs, displaced joints, broken bones, and temporarily emasculated men, the victims being the many seniors that had tried to "show him his place", both in their dojo and at the streets (the latter attempted by the less chivalrous, seeking to ambush him unprepared and outside the rules), his three weeks suspension had been considered too lenient by many.
What? It's not my fault they're acting strange – in a real fight there's no such thing as 'fair'!
Ah, well. It was a most unfortunate setback, but there's no point in being disheartened. The determination-filled existence that was Emiya Shirou has a dream, after all, and if he couldn't remove the obstacle he'll bypass them one way or another. Taiga had been helpful with his sword training since she herself was never a big fan in tradition, being the ferocious woman who had been disqualified for having insisted to use the Tora-shinai on a tournament. For archery practice he would usually spend the weekend in a forest a few train stops away, in which he was able to practice many kinds of shooting: long-distance shooting, target shooting, hard-object penetration, all the stuff. Hand-to-hand was unfortunately limited to image training inside the Emiya dojo though, along with knife-throwing and hidden-blades practice since there's no way he could practice those two on people without having a bounty on his head.
If only his skill with magecraft had been similarly progressive…
"Ara, ara…" A female voice interrupted his reverie. "Such a big sigh this early in the morning, Shero? Tsk, tsk, that just won't do~"
This voice…"Ah good morning, Edelfelt-san! I thought you were going overseas for some family matter?"
Luviagelita Edelfelt faked a sulk. "Please, haven't I told you to call me Luvia?"
"Well, yeah," he scrubbed his head. "But, uhm, it's not just polite for me t-"
"Lu. Vi. A." She insisted before mellowing a bit as she saw his uneasiness. "Fine, for now, I'll settle for Luvia-san."
"Ehm, if you say so, Edel – err, I mean Luvia-san…" he paused as she let a graceful smile, "by the way, my name is not Shero, it's -"
"So what caused you sadness worthy of such a big sigh, Shero?" The girl continued, oblivious to his attempt to correct her.
"…it's nothing really, just thinking about my-" He was stopped by the odd feeling which engulfed him as he entered the school perimeter. "Did you smell that?"
"Smell what, Shero?"
No, not smelled. Felt. Tasted. "I don't know what, but it's as if something's wrong with the air…"
"Are you sick, Shero?" she looked worried. "Shall I walk you to the infirmary?"
"No, it is fine, Luvia-san." Shirou politely rejected the offer. He couldn't identify the oddity, but it felt like magic. Involving unwitting civilians like Luvia into the supernatural is a big no-no.
"Let's go to the classroom. Maybe I just need to sit down."
They both walked together, the boy deep in thought on what might caused his uneasiness. He didn't notice that Luvia stopped for a short moment, first looking at –no, analyzing- the surrounding school yard, then at him. The first was followed by an easy-to-miss frown, the second, an intense gaze filled with curiosity.
Servant Caster watched as the morning turned into day, day turned into afternoon. Despite being entrenched in her temple she could freely observe the entire city by ways of magic. The betrayal she had committed against her summoner had left her severely weakened, but by a stroke of luck her new Master resided inside a spiritually rich land, where Leylines all over the area were connected in that particular spot. Her being badly wounded by her previous Master, surprisingly defiant despite being mediocre in skill, had cost her precious time wasted in healing, but being in such a strategic location had offset the balance. Even now power was surging into her, and soon she will return to full power. By tomorrow night she would even have harvested enough power for a group of servants, and when that happens, she would conquer.
But there were only two of them, and twelve enemies to fight. Granted, chances were her enemies would also fight each other so she wouldn't need to defeat all of them, but as her beloved Soichirou's encounter against the blue Servant last night had shown, it's safer for her to set up a guard dog. A Servant summoned by another might not be the best of champions, but she wouldn't need him for too long anyway – with careful planning, she'll be able to steal better Servants afterwards. This one would just be a stopgap while she upped the defenses surrounding the mountain.
She only needed to wait until night, and then she would have enough power to summon one…
"You're going to dispel that? Such a waste!" An irritating voice interrupted Rin from neutralizing one of the sigil arming the Boundary Field surrounding her school.
She leapt away from him and ordered her Servant to defend her. Gilgamesh immediately de-astralized, wearing black and white clothing more suitable for a leisure walk instead of a life-and-death battle. Lancer demanded for Archer to properly arm himself only to be irritatingly denied with a smug grin, the latter obviously not seeing him as a credible threat.
"Suit yourself! Don't say I didn't warn you!" He chased the Master-Servant pair as the blonde took the twintails and leapt into the school yard.
"There." Archer smirked. "Wouldn't an open field like this be a better spot for an epic battle between heroes?"
"You think being on a wide area gives you enough advantage?" Lancer barked and dashed with superhuman speed. Archer hasn't even drawn his weapon yet, and Lancer was already closing the distance. It's a bit of a pity, really, to not fight the Servant at his full power, but when the smug blonde himself has denied his generous offer for a fair fight…
A sizeable projectile flying towards his head stopped Lancer from charging, his body reflexively setting a proper footing before deflecting the attack with his spear. The projectile stroke him heavy, and from where he had deflected it a loud impact sound could be heard.
"Like what you see?" Archer boasted towards his gawking Master.
"Wha…" How? She wondered. There was no bow, crossbow, sling, arquebus - any kind of projectile-launching weapon, really. Instead, her Servant merely snapped his finger, and…
Projection? But the King of Uruk was never a magus!
Her Servant merely laughed at her reaction: confusion with a hint of awe. Good, that was what he had hoped for. While he had not showed it to her, but to be honest he had been a bit insulted at her displeasure for not getting a Saber, even after knowing his true name.
The blonde's celebration was cut short as Lancer, undeterred at having a spear flying his way at supersonic speed mere seconds ago, resumed his charge. Archer, of course, was similarly undeterred, calmly sending more projectiles to intercept his assailant.
First flew another spear, differing in design compared to the previous attack, which he dodged.
Swiftly following was a broadsword, the kind of weapon Lancer had no idea why someone would throw instead of swing, which he countered with a slight parry with his spear. He could feel the weight of the sword before it was hastily redirected sideways. His balance was barely interrupted, but his speed diminished for a while.
Better to dodge than to parry, then. Lancer still couldn't comprehend just how did Archer fired those Phantasms but they were more powerful than he had initially thought. But countering one of them had now given him a good grasp on the impending firepower. He judged that with the current distance, even taking a slight detour to avoid Archer's barrage wouldn't buy the latter much time anyway. Better than fending them one by one.
Having let three more projectiles hit empty air, Lancer now found himself within spear-length of his target. A predatory grin formed and he swung the weapon to sweep Archer's leg, which was to be followed by a killing stab.
The sound of metal hitting metal caught his attention.
In front of him stood Archer, still as haughty as before, having blocked his attack with…a huge, thick shield?
"What kind of Servant are you?"
"The best in the world!" Following the boast Lancer noticed three spearheads of different shapes coming out if thin air. It didn't take a genius to know that those three would soon be followed by the rest of their bodies. Even with his speed, at such proximity retreating or dodging would not save him from at least two of them.
Screw this, I'm going all out! He didn't care about the priest's order anymore; he never liked the creepy guy anyway. And while Lancer was irritated by Archer's smug face, that particular emotion was being overridden by glee as the fighter in him acknowledged the strength of his opponent. The minute Kotomine gave him instructions to not killing other Servants during scouting missions he had already contemplated to go against it anyway. Now seemed like a good time to test just how powerful the spent Command Spell would be in leashing him.
"Gae…" Mana poured into the spearhead, readying the attack. On the other side were the three spears, almost fully formed and ready to impale him in less than a second…
The sound of something not caused by their fight caught both side's attention, preventing the clash. The three individuals saw the person responsible, a girl with drill-like hairs, cursing in disbelief at how her clumsiness alerted them of her presence. It didn't last long, as a boy immediately leapt from behind her, held her hand, and both ran away from the scene as fast as they could. But both Archer and Lancer were already coming to the same conclusion.
"All right, everything's clean!" Emiya Shirou said to no one. The archery dojo was now spotless and tidy. All the training equipments have been carefully put in storage and the floor had been not wiped clean. Satisfied, the boy brought the cleaning equipments back in place and left for home.
Heading towards the gate, Shirou slowed his steps when he spotted Luvia near a first level classroom. The girl was standing near a wall, taking a peek at …well he didn't actually know what she was looking at but her eyes were focused at the field outside. He considered saying hi but then he heard a rumbling voice outside. Was that what Luvia was staring at? His curiosity gotten the better of him, he decided to take a look himself.
What he saw alerted his senses like nothing before.
It was a duel. An absurd one, he noticed, with all those spears and swords materializing out of nowhere and the man in ridiculously tight blue outfit surviving them being launched at him. A part of him wondered whether he was dreaming but the magus in him, however half-assed he was, reminded him of the supernatural reality that was his life. However, he was still an amateur as a magus and was locked in his stance for a while, unsure of what to do.
Adding to his distraught, his senses felt like they were in a maelstrom. Like his fights before his mind started to work like mad, calculating possible escape routes not just out of the school area but all the way to his house. But a new sensation, one he had never felt before, also surged in him.
His eyes. Were they deceiving him? He could still see things normally, but periodically he could somehow also saw other colors illuminating the figures, the two fighters covered in blood red that made him even more alert while yellow gold wrapped the girl…isn't that Tohsaka Rin?
He considered leaping outside, despite every inch of his body telling to get the heck out of there. The hero wannabe in him refused – how could he let a civilian die? But then another voice came with a sound argument: she didn't even try to run, and the blonde not only seemed to know her as they could be seen talking amidst the fight but he also positioned himself as if to guard her. She was an accomplice.
Tohsaka, what have you done?
A nearby clang broke his dismay. He turned his head to see that Luvia had just knocked a mop and bucket near her. Understandable; she was of course naturally shocked to see such scene.
Then his senses got even screwier. Despite not looking at the combatants his brain kept telling that the "Reds" were on to him. Sure enough, he turned his gaze back to see hostile stares coming from the "Reds", stares directed at him and…
"Luvia!" He screamed. No use in holding his voice; they already knew he was there. He took the girl by her hand and dragged her out of the scene. Rin might be an accomplice but Luvia wasn't; he couldn't simply run and abandon her to these…what were they? Were they even human? He had read stories of man-shaped vampires, demons, homunculi and many others afterall.
First thing first. He tightened his grip and talked to the girl, trying to sound as confident as he can. "We must get somewhere safe!"
For the umpteenth time since he had been summoned, Lancer cursed his luck. The last fight had just started to get interesting, so of course something must get in his way. Tsk. He could have been at the school yard, fighting like a mad dog, and instead here he was, tailing the couple trying to flee the scene.
Curse the magi and all their secrecy nonsense!
It didn't took him long to find the duo. His class was one of the fastest. But he couldn't find a good spot to ambush them. The streets were getting dark but there was no secluded place to finish them off. He had half-expected them to run inside the school but hadn't been particularly surprised when they instead ran straight to the gate. It's like a coin toss.
The way they were heading was odd, though. He had memorized all police stations during the previous sorties and none was on the path the duo was heading. Just where were they heading? Maybe home? Panicked people tend to not react rationally, and running to the familiar comfort of your own residence after encountering the unfamiliar was a normal reflex.
Good for him then; easier for him to hide the bodies inside a house than in the middle of the street. And if there're other occupants inside, that would just mean more stabbing inside a relatively confined perimeter for him.
To Shirou's surprise, Luvia managed to keep up with him just fine with no signs of fatigue or visible panic. Soon they will reach his house, and then they will…
I knew I forgot something.
Just what was he supposed to do anyway? He's a no-name magus. He had no relation with any Mage Association, no phone numbers or e-mail address (do they even use those?) to any magical authority, even if there's any. Cops were out of the question; they would deem him crazy for the last five minutes of their lives before his pursuer tore them to shreds. It's not like he could light a Bat-signal or call for Ultraman! And the Boundary Field surrounding his house was only useful as an alarm, and when did Fuyuki starts to look like a scene out of Lawrence of Arabia?
… … …
No, no, no, no!
It's not enough that his sleep was filled with those dreams, now he's starting to hallucinate about them as well?
He was still panicking as he neared his workshop when his instincts started to go haywire again. Appropriately enough a person soon made his grand entrance. The blue spearman leaped out of nowhere and landed just a few meters from him, still inside his house.
"Good evening." His smile turned nasty. "And good night."
Throb. In a split second his brain felt intense pain, and he was no longer seeing his house, the spearman, or Luvia. Instead he was surrounded by a familiar sensation with his dreams, but without the scenery it usually entails. There was a sword in his hand though, and unlike the blurry surrounding it felt disturbingly real - the shape, the sharpness, and the scent of blood covering it's blade. But most importantly for the first time he could analyze its structure, and not limited to the shape and substance of the object like how it usually went; this time, he could actually fell its history – the process of its making and the skill involved, all the practices in using it, all the wounds and kills made with it, everything.
His mind returned to the real world, and as the spearman materialized his weapon Shirou instinctively activated his magecraft.
This time, his Projection was perfect. In his right hand was now the very sword he had just seen. Its blade was simple yet sharp, while its guard was shaped like and eagle's wing and the bottom of the hilt an eagle's head.
He imagined Luvia to be quivering in fear by now, but he couldn't say anything to her. Instead he motioned his idle hand as if to block the path between her and the spearman, his way of saying "don't worry, I'll protect you."
Lancer was amused. Not only did the boy bare his fang, he also bravely guarded his woman. Such a shame a gentleman like him must die. He considered killing the boy instantly but decided to humor the latter by starting a bit easy, show him step by step just how outclassed he was. And if the boy starts to whimper and try to flee, then maybe Lancer wouldn't have to feel so bad about offing him.
He started with a thrust.
For Lancer it was mediocre in speed, but Shirou could barely saw it coming. The former was pleasantly surprised though to see the boy not losing his balance and countering with a sword slash. In response the former retracted his spear with speed, dodge, and set out for another attack.
Thrust. Dodge. Slash. Parry. The fighting grew more heated, and as Lancer gradually stepped up his speed he admitted the boy's fine swordsmanship. Nonetheless the body of a mere mortal was nowhere comparable to a Servant. This would be over soon.
Something hit the Servant in the torso.
Looking for the source, Lancer noticed the drill-hair pointing her index finger at him, her hands trembling furiously. A black cloud formed at its point, and again Lancer was hit by a similar attack.
A magus? But surely she knew that a curse like that wouldn't do much against a Servant? Why didn't she try to run when her man gave the chance?
That's…actually kinda sweet. Lancer now felt really bad about having to kill the couple. The Servant kicked the exhausted boy into a nearby room which door was luckily open. It's better to end this quickly and painlessly. Well, aside from the pains the boy had suffered.
Running inside, he noticed how the room started to glow, and how mana swirled within. Perhaps it was the boy's last trump card. Oh well. One more wouldn't hurt.
Being attacked by an invisible sword changed his opinion.
Emiya Shirou had been sure he was dead. His assailant had flung him away like a ragdoll. His luck was at an end.
And then something behind him glowed brightly, and a blue flash fended off the spearman.
It was a woman.
He would later remember how beautiful she was. Her glowing blond hair, her regal stance, her majestic walk, how the moonlight seemed to celebrate her presence. But right now, only one thing was registered in his mind.
"Servant Saber has arrived as you summoned. I ask of you: Are you my Master?"
And it all came back to him. The slip-of-tongues his father had sometimes accidently made when being drunk and the notes he had managed to salvage pointed him to one particular topic.
Servants. Masters. The Holy Grail.
His father had never told him the details of his past life, so what little Emiya had mostly gotten was the ideals of a hero. It was what his entire childhood had been – all the studies and training, physical and magical, was all preparations for his true calling. And now duty has called for him, earlier than he had expected, at a moment when he was not fully ready. But there was no doubt in him, for this was a duty he would not foreswear.
Emiya Shirou will become a Hero of Justice.
There were some concerns that giving Shirou a bit more fighting competency takes the fun out of him being so helpless but determined in canon until his powers kick into gear. Have no fear – as you can see from some hints I've dropped here and there, his ancestral memory is a double-edged sword.
And yes, I acknowledge the risk of Rin being overpowered by having Gil. I can't spoil how I intend to handle his role in the story, but remember that victory is not always determined by power levels, and there are more to FSN than fighters trading blows – intrigues, deceptions, dilemmas…plenty aspects to take advantage of.
For the uninformed, Luvia is technically a canon character in the 'verse but she never actually appeared in the main series, only some extras and spin-offs like FH Ataraxia and Prisma Ilya. Why is she here? I need a character for certain roles which cannot be taken by already well-established cast members as it would risk OOC, but I'm not in the mood to create an OC. Luvia is part of the 'verse but she has no role in FSN so I can make up how she would influence the story.