AN: I once compared my writing to a Great Old One. It only happens once in a thousand years, when the stars align. Luckily (I guess) for you, the stars of motivation, free time and two reviews (Aishata and DarkMegaSF) all aligned and awoke me from my slumber of a million years. On a more serious note, I'm so, so, so sorry. I started writing this, then took a break and ran into Touhou. Yeah that... didn't help. And then Katawa Shoujo came out (Lilly was beyond wonderful). And then I found and finished (and mostly understood!) Umineko. Oh, and I got my migraines every 5-6 weeks, and had a couple of exams, but those weren't really my fault.
BACK ON TOPIC, the silver lining of the really really long wait is that now I have every detail planned out for the next few story arcs, and I have completely sorted the whole plot and most of the details for the whole story. Huzzah! So as recompense for the wait, you can ask me questions via PM or review about ReNight and I'll answer them. Probably. Of course, that means you'll have to choose whether or not to risk spoiling what's coming, but yeah. Ask away. Or shout at me for this obvious attempt to distract you from the fact I didn't update in 4 months, when last chapter I said: "At least next chapter will (hopefully) be written faster". I feel like such a jerk...
As normal, I feel that I should have spent more time editing (instead of playing Touhou/Umineko/KS etc), but when the most recent reviews arrived I realised that if I put updating off any longer I might as well forget ever updating again.
Full story recap (in case you've forgotten. Not that I could blame you):
Saber's Excaliblast fails to completely destroy the Grail. After she's vanished, Shirou said something that could be counted as a wish ("I want to go back"). The Grail remanants decide to interpret this as a time-travel wish and Shirou got forced back to the night he summoned Saber. With the knowledge he had, he managed to avoid Saber getting Gae Bolged, but in turn this caused Archer to take a harder hit from the uninjured Saber. Rin talked to him, and eventually took him to the church. Talk with Kirei blah blah blah. Rin gets suspicious as Shirou is surprisingly willing to join the Grail War.
Then, Berserker. Saber manages to fight him better (no wound from Lancer), but still losing. Rin tries to kill Ilya, who sics Hercules on her. Shirou manages to block Hercules once with Reinforcement, but then gets batted away. Saber gets up, and then smashed down around this time. Just when she's about to be killed, Shirou does his suicidal thing and takes the hit. Ilya retreates, Shirou unconcious.
Shirou heals, but finds that Rin is incredibly suspicious, accusing Shirou of being a manipulative magus (not asking Kirei or Rin questions about the War, getting along well with Saber, not acting surprised about anything, kinda-fighting Hercules etc). She storms out when Shirou can't explain. Also, warns Archer of Shirou being a 'traditional' magus, which...surprises him. Shirou finds Avalon isn't working at fully capacity, only having partially healed him after 'serker.
That morning, Saber is introduced to Taiga and Sakura. He uses his injury to explain her presence (calling Lancer a mugger who assaulted him, only for Saber to save him), but that means he is held back from school by the three girls, who all think going to school with such an injury is incredibly stupid. Saber also gets slightly suspicious of her Master's skill at not-technically-lying. Taiga and Sakura leave, and Saber has a talk with her Master. He requests sword training, blah blah blah nothing very new.
That night, Shirou dreams of Saber v Lancelot, and Saber gets her Angra Mainyu dream. He wakes up first and, panicking, decides to try and finish the Bloodfort thing before Saber could get hurt (after seeing her breakdown after Lancelot, he...isn't exactly thinking). Saber then wakes, finds Shirou gone and pursues. She catches him, and they have a...talk. Eventually, they agree that if they aren't going to sleep they might as well patrol. Shirou's route 'accidentally' leads by the school, so they stop and try and do something about the Bloodfort. Rin, doing the same thing by coincidence (didn't turn up to school thanks to Archer's worse injuries, and possibility of 2 hostile Masters), runs into the two just as Shirou admits to not knowing Personal Reinforcement.
Last chapter, Shirou and Rin make a deal to ally until the Master threatening the school is defeated. Spend the rest of that night wiping out Bloodfort seals (much faster, due to Shirou's memoryhax allowing him to 'sense' where the sigils are really fast and really accurately. RA+SS part, and SS returns home. The next day, Shirou and Saber are practicing swordfighting and Shirou, thanks to memoryhax again, manages to kinda-sorta use a 'fake opening'. Saber's worried, as if Shirou realises the potential (stupidly dangerous, but allows a weakling to fight a Servant) he'll off and do something stupidly dangerous. Oh, and Shirou invited Sakura to stay over at his house after Shinji tried to hit her in front of the school (neither Rin nor Shirou there to stop him), but honestly that'll NEVER be important.
Fate Re/Night Chapter 8: Unexpected Developments
Though cutting it close, Shirou and Sakura managed to prepare just enough food to sate the morning appetites of Saber and Taiga at the expense of the last of Shirou's supplies.
'Well it lasted long enough, I guess. I can buy some more today. I doubt Saber will really object to me getting more food. And I can take this opportunity to do some of my own thinking on the identities of the Servants. No sense in hoping everything is going to work out without me doing anything.'
Sure enough, Saber was happy to let Shirou out during the day to purchase food, assuming that no Master would be insane enough to attack the center of the city in broad daylight. Shirou decided against cycling to the store: with what he had planned, the bus would be better as he'd be able to reach the city more easily.
Taking more money than he felt strictly necessary, he departed.
As it turned out, Shirou had underestimated just how much he was going to spend on this expedition. Burdened with the mass of raw food he bought and a few small unessentials like proper tea bags and thankful he had decided to leave his bicycle, Shirou staggered onto the return bus. It was only when he got on that he realise that by purchasing food now, he was going to miss Ilya's escapade the following day.
'Hopefully she won't hold it against me... But I guess after Berserker is dealt with I can apologize. I wonder what she's going to do now, though. With any luck I'll be able to give her a tour after after this is over.'
When he arrived home and packed away the food he found Saber sitting in the dojo, only without the swords that he had expected. After the last bout of combat training, it seemed Saber felt she needed to reevaluate her 'training program', so instead of the sword practice he had been anticipating, it turned out Saber was, after last night's discussion, going to focus on Reinforcement and personal enhancement.
Surprising Shirou, Saber turned out to know a great deal of magical theory. While she couldn't show Shirou how to perform it, she described it in a way that let him know what he had to do. Lacking Rin's innate brilliance for magic, Saber used basic terms that even a beginner magus would understand, and so Shirou made surprising progress in what could have been a dangerous field. Of course, after a single day's practice he couldn't actually use personal Reinforcement on the fly, at least without the risk of overreinforcing and causing something important to break, but with enough preparation he could at least begin to enhance himself.
In the late afternoon, Sakura arrived and their training was cut short. As some who apparently was an invalid, sword training would have been difficult to explain, and continued magic training would be too risky. Saber called the lesson to a close, and returned to her room to 'conserve mana'. Shirou, forced to play the invalid in bed, took the opportunity to practice his magecraft. A few hours later, Sakura opened his door to 'wake' him for the 'start' of dinner preparations (of course, she had already almost finished, not wanting let Shirou exert himself. He felt he should have seen that coming).
Unfortunately, this calm day proved to preclude a considerably more stressful night.
Surprisingly, the sigils of the Bloodfort had only been partially recreated, and the night's job of destabilizing the dangerous field was unexpectedly easy. Shirou wondered if Shinji had somehow failed to notice the crumbling fort, or if his nerve had simply broken and, after noticing at the scale of destruction he and Rin were wreaking on the seals, had decided to call off Rider.
It turned out, neither of those was the answer.
Shirou suspected something might be wrong when, as he walked back with Saber, he noticed a dark figure in the shadow of a tree near where the road branched into his street and the route to the Matou residence. A figure who was holding a dark, rectangular object under one arm.
Shinji raised his hand that wasn't carrying his book, but didn't move forwards. Seeing Shinji wasn't moving, Shirou took a step towards Shinji. There was a soft rustle in the tree above him.
Then things got...complicated.
A metal spike on a chain was hurled at Shirou's head.
Shirou twisted, pulling himself low under the half-anticipated attack.
Saber armoured herself and leapt in front of her uninjured Master, invisible sword parrying the nail up into the air.
Shinji took three steps back and raised his book towards Shirou.
There was a pause, as both sides took stock of what had happened.
"Rider, you missed."
A dark shape dropped down in front of Shinji.
"My apologies, Master."
She raised her two nails, pointing them at Shirou and Saber.
"It will not happen again."
And just like that, as if Rider's words had unpaused a video, everyone sprang into motion.
Saber launched herself at Shinji's Servant, who leapt high and launched a nail at each of her targets. Saber batted the weapon away contemptuously while Shirou desperately threw himself out of the way, scooping up a branch Rider had dislodged in her opening attack and reinforcing it with as much mana as he dared. Shinji had retreated further and was chanting, book in hand. A clear voice barked out an order.
"Shirou, engage the Master closely!"
Saber's very tone forced Shirou into action before he realized the reason behind the order. At close range, not only would he have a massive advantage over the Grimoire-wielding opponent, but in addition Rider wouldn't be able to launch ranged attacks, in fear if hitting her Master. And with Saber already in combat with her, Rider both was unable gain the second she would require to launch a precise attack, nor could she move closer to the Masters for fear of turning her back on Saber.
Rider grimaced at Saber's plan, and pushed herself into the air again, this time hurling both her weapons at Shirou in an attempt to stop him. One missed, while the other skimmed off the shoulder of Shirou's just-reinforced jacket. Saber felt a burst of pride when she saw Shirou had both understood her, and taken the initiative to armor and arm himself as best he could. Rider's weapons were a split-second late in returning, and Saber took the opportunity to launch a series of blinding slashes at her opponent's body. While Rider managed to dodge or deflect most of the blows with her chains, her slight mistiming cost her, and she emerged from the clash sporting a deep wound to her right leg. Saber did not follow up, moving instead to step between Rider and the two Masters. In doing this, she prevented either Servant from aiding their Masters.
A second after Shirou felt something, probably a nail from Rider, scrape across the left shoulder of his jacket, Shinji finished chanting and familiar black shadows pulled themselves up before Shinji and flew at Shirou. To Shirou, who had managed to withstand Shinji's magic long before staring down Berserker, Ea and being hit by The Grail Curse three times in quick succession, this was a hardly an impressive attack. He didn't even pause, and within moments had broken through Shinji's spell, branch extended, catching Shinji in the stomach as the other wavered in stunned disbelief. Shirou followed the lunge up with a upwards flick, jarring Shinji's book-arm and sending the tome flying into the air. Shinji made a dive for the book but Shirou got there first, kicking it off into the deeper shadows and leveled his reinforced branch at Shinji. Part of him recoiled at the cold violence he had just unleashed, but he knew from experience that Shinji was quite willing to kill several hundreds of humans just to win the Grail. This way, he stopped Shinji's self-destructive behavior and saved potentially hundreds of people.
'If I can just force him to stop...'
A thin voice broke into his thoughts.
"Who are you? You aren't Emiya. No way! This can't be happening!"
Shinji's voice rose to a screech.
"Rider, what are you doing? You useless bitch, help me!"
Shirou bent and grabbed Shinji's collar, pulling him close. With that, the noise behind him fell silent. Rider was frozen, her Master in peril while Saber remained alert, positioned between Shirou and Rider. All that could be heard was the faint rustling of leaves, and Shinii's panicked breathing.
"Shinji. You have ten seconds to order your Servant to take down the field at the school."
The threat if he failed to comply was obvious.
"Wh,what are you blabbering about, Shirou? It has to be your field. Or if it isn't yours then it has to be that bitch Tohsaka's! She must have tricked us both int-ARGH"
Shirou interrupted Shinji's desperate rant by tightening his hold.
"Shirou, listen to m-ARGH!"
Something was wrong. Wrongwrongwrongwrong. Saber's senses screamed that something utterly unnatural was nearby.
Her eyes left Rider, darting around trying to find just where the feeling was coming from. In the background, her Master kept counting, ignoring Shinji's cries.
Saber tightened her grip. Rider was sure to make a move soon, and she'd need to be ready to interc-
And then, in the darkness where Shirou had kicked Shinji's spellbook, there as a flash as the book suddenly burst into flames.
The sudden, unexpected incineration pulled Saber's already-distracted attention away from Rider for a split second. No time for a human to react, but...
The black-clothed Servant, despite her wounds, twisted like a snake and dodged past Saber in a single, flowing motion. Saber turned, shouting out a warning.
It was to his credit that Shirou reacted in time. Dropping Shinji, he managed to guard himself with his weapon. Rider's kick impacted on the branch, breaking through in a shower of blood and splinters and crashing into him a few centimeters under his ribs. Luckily, his jacket caught most of the impact, spreading the force out and preventing a mortal wound. Of course, the kick still lifted him off his feet and knocked him away from where he had been standing. Saber herself started moving as soon as she had turned, positioning herself between her Master and their foes.
None of this took more than a few seconds.
"Boy. You are a disgrace to the name Matou."
The voice of an old man cuts through the air like a whip. Shinji seems to cringe back from it in fear.
A figure emerges from the darkness of the night. A wizened, old man, clutching a cane in his right hand.
"Leave here. You are no longer in any position to fight. Your power has been disrupted and your Servant wounded. If you continue to be this useless, you should be prepared to live out the rest of your life as meaninglessly as your father did. If you insist on continuing down this path, at least make better use of the gifts I have given you, rather than wasting them."
While talking, the hunched figure slowly moved between Shirou and Shinji, before resting both hands on his cane. With his back turned on Shinji, it was obvious that he was now addressing Shirou and his Servant.
"It seems my life will end here. No matter how pathetic he may be, Shinji is still my grandson. I have to save him, even if it does mean my own demise."
While is words sounded noble, Saber's, and even Shirou's instincts were blazing that this old man was dangerous. While the two stared at newcomer, Rider faded out of existence, leaving only a small pool of blood where she had been standing. Pulling himself up, Shinji seemed unsure of whether to glare hatefully at Shirou or fearfully at his apparent grandfather. Eventually, he retreated, and Zouken bent his head towards the remaining pair.
"Allow me to introduce myself. I am Zouken, of the Matou Magi family. And I do believe you are Shirou Emiya. My granddaughter has mentioned you before, though I cannot remember exactly in what context. And you must be Saber."
Barely paying attention to what was being said, Shirou's mind was reeling from the developments. Who was this man? Why hadn't he appeared last War? Rider was still Shinji's Servant despite the book being destroyed. Had he been wrong in his assumptions?
Shirou moved to question Zouken, but Saber blocked him with a plate gauntlet, and pointed her invisible sword at the old magi with her other hand. Her instincts were blazing that this…magus was the source of the unnatural web that had come down around the area, and she wasn't about to let her Master put himself anywhere near the line of fire. As Saber had half-expected, Zouken showed no signs of fear of her blade, and merely chuckled. She hoped it was mere overconfidence, but with her Master so close by...
"Now that my imbecile of a grandson is safe, I suppose there is no need for us to talk further. Goodbye, successor of Emiya."
Saber tensed at the obvious threat, preparing to shield her Master directly from whatever Zouken had planned. Zouken lifted his cane of the ground and...
Without warning, his form collapsed, melting into the shadows behind him.
Saber turned to Shirou, asking silently if she should pursue. He shook his head, tiredly.
"No. No, we shouldn't go all out yet. When we do go after Rider and Shinji we should alert Rin and Archer. After all, that is what we promised to do last night."
Suddenly Shirou felt like laughing. Had it really only been last night he had formed an alliance with Rin? And now, with a plan to defeat Shinji already forming it seemed that the alliance would soon be breaking apart.
'I wonder if the War was this complicated to begin with, and somehow I managed to muddle through purely with luck.'
The two combatants, tired and (in Shirou's case) bruised from their late-night excursion, decided that any true planning could wait until they could confer with Rin and Archer. They both hoped that in the morning they would be less tired, and be able to think more clearly due to a calm night's rest.
Unfortunately, the rest in the Emiya household was not calm.
-It's a landscape Shirou has never seen before. Not in his past, or even in his dreams of Saber's past. It reminds him most of this hill of Camlann, where Saber's kingdom had come down in blazing ruins. But instead of the blood-soaked hill, the land he sees is parched. Absolutely barren. The sky overhead is not the overcast grey of Britain, but is instead a fiery, blood red. Of course, this is not the main difference.
Instead of the bodies of Arturia's hill, there are instead thousands-no countless- swords.
Is this the grand aftermath of a battle? Some epic monument to the fallen? Shirou 'turns' his dream-self around. No. There is no-one else here but him. Not a single trace of life can been seen. Saber, who had always been the omnipresent figure of Shirou's dreams, is nowhere to be found. This is a creation of his own mind, then.
An ashen wind blow through the swords embedded in the ground, causing the red dust to stir, and breaking the deafening silence that had everywhere. At least the wind is familiar to Shirou. And yet eventually the wind stops, and Shirou is once again struck by how utterly alien the landscape around him is. Time has lost all meaning in this dream.
A ruin of infinite swords, rusting without wielders. Thousands upon thousands of blades, and yet without a single human they are useless. Dead.
What Shirou sees is a graveyard. A graveyard of countless blades.
And he wakes from his dream.
Entering the church, Tohsaka calls out "Kirei! I know your here."
Saber wonders if she misheard the other Master. Or if she hadn't, surely it was simply an unlikely coincidence. However, when the tall man emerged from the shadows, she instinctively falls back, trying to grasp a sword that isn't there.
"Lost already Rin? I'm disappointed in you." The priest speaks. Anyone else would have said that as a joke or a reprimand. This priest talked like he was discussing the weather. Saber knows him. The man who had been the final Master of the last Grail War stood before her, large as life. The only thing that seemed dead about him was his eyes; hollow, black pits of nothingness. Behind her Tohsaka spoke, though Saber barely noticed, to busy trying to work out how the scene before her was possible.
"Knock it off Kirei, I've brought the seventh master here for confirmation."
"Ah, I see" he responds. Again, his voice is neutral, like it doesn't matter. "I welcome you boy. I am Kotomine Kirei."
"You are the supervisor for this war?" This from her Master, unaware of what a dangerous person he as standing in front of.
"I am. What is your name boy?"
Kotomine pauses at this, looking at and analyzing Shirou. Saber realizes why, even if her Master does not. "I see...well then, you are the last Master then."
"Wait" Her Master says, raising his hand "I'll tell you right now, I have no intention of becoming a master."
"Oh?" Kotomine says, with an echo of shock or suspicion in his voice. His eyes narrow, turning he calls out "Rin, explain." Rin sighs, obviously having expected this.
"As you can see, he doesn't understand what's going on. I knew it would be dangerous, so I brought him here."
Kotomine turns back to her Master "In that case, I will ask you Emiya Shirou, no matter that you were chosen by some mistake, you were chosen to be a Master by the Holy Grail. If you obtain it, then all your wishes will come true. Knowing that, are you still going to refuse?"
"No matter how powerful an object it is, it's not worth killing over." Shirou answers. 'Behind' him, Saber looks on, trying to piece everything she knew together. He said this, and yet this night, he had seemed willing to attack someone who seemed to have been his friend. This wasn't making sense!
"Are you afraid of killing?" Kirei asks contemptuously. "That doesn't sound like the words of a magus. A magus must be prepared to put his life in danger, but it sounds like you are a coward."
"NO!" Shirou yells "It's not that I'm afraid, is imply have no reason to fight. I have no wishes to be granted."
"Really? The holy grail grants any wish a magus desires. What will happen if a selfish magus obtains the Grail? You've seen the news about all the accidents around town. Those were no accidents boy. Those were the actions of selfish magi. They make their Servants feed on the souls of their victims"
"You're saying that innocent people are being endangered under my nose?"
Like the scenario with his classmates and Rider's field. Saber feels she understands why her Master acted so coldly towards the other Master. The needs of the many…
"Let me tell you one more thing," Kirei says "This is the fifth Holy grail war. The last war happened about ten years ago. A foolish magus caused a disaster to occur and a large number of innocent people died."
Saber then notices Shirou's blank eyes, the sweat on his forehead, his trembling hands. Had he been caught up in the events at the end of the last War? That would be darkly ironic. This…would need some thought.
"So? What will you do? Of course, if you choose to refuse after hearing about that, I have no problems with that." His voice, it's like a bucket of ice on Saber. "Everyone values their own life more than their own."
Shirou is clenching his teeth so hard that Saber can hear it. "D-don't screw with me" he growls "I decided to walk the path of my father and become a hero of justice. I won't let anyone else become involved in this nonsensical war"
Rising in anger he yelled, "I WON"T LET THE TRAGEDY OF TEN YEARS AGO REPEAT ITSELF"
Rin falls back from the power of his voice. Shirou did not seem one to yell, but at that moment his voice is shockingly filled with emotions, more than either Rin, or the invisible Saber had heard. "I'll become a Master or whatever it takes to prevent it from happening."
Kirei claps his hands like this was a high-quality performance. "Very well, then I hereby declare the beginning of the fifth Holy Grail War. Abide by your beliefs. Battle to your heart's content."
The ex-Master stretches his arms out as he continues "Rejoice boy, for your wish shall finally be granted"
Shirou walks out of the church, pale and trembling.
"Master" Saber calls out "What's wrong? You're so pale."
And she wakes from her dream.
Not really happy with this either, but happier now that it's out rather than burning a hole in my computer. Also, yes I know the tenses were all messed up towards the end. I was trying to make the dream stand out as different to 'reality', but not sure if the effect was obvious, or it just seemed like I was making a stupid, careless mistake. If needs be I can change it, I guess...
Also as part of my apology, here's an excerpt from next chapter: Chapter 9: Ambushing Ambushers.
"I will kill you if is the only way to prevent people from dying. If saving everyone in this school is only possible by killing the one that is trying to murder them… I'd do it. For their sake I'll be the killer instead today."
Anyways, if you aren't too annoyed at me, please review. And remember that if you want to ask questions I'll be happy to answer them.