A/N: I'd love to say I have a great excuse for not updating in so long, but in reality I just didn't feel like writing, and I'm against forcing myself to write because all that will be typed is crap. This has actually been done for almost two months now, but I wanted to actually finish the whole story before posting again. Sadly that didn't happen, and I'm still only halfway done with the next chapter. Luckily for anyone who actually likes this story, I will finish it. There are only another two or three chapters left anyway. At one point I thought about doing a sequal, and I may still do one, but it wont be right away.
A Rise in Conflict: Part Three
Sakura Matou had lost all sane thought with the perceived death of her love interest Emiya Shirou. Immediately after killing her brother she had moved to kill her tormentor as well. The old man had thought his pitiful magic would stop her, and when that had failed he called for his Servant to stop her while he made his escape. That had been his final mistake. Detestable as it was Shinji had given Rider a huge amount of prana from all the lives he took. It was child's play for Rider to kill all those pesky Assassins, and with his Servant dead he had been nothing but another insignificant worm that needed to be crushed under her foot. Sakura sat on the throne that had once belonged to her Grandfather in his basement lair. Rider stood beside her, her constant companion as her new Servant kneeled at her feet. This fake Assassin had been swallowed by the darkness due to his weakness, but she had cured him, and made him strong. With no inhibitions to slow him down he could truly be the hero she not only needed, but deserved. Her path was set, she would kill everything she passed until she had killed all of these so called Master, and when that had been completed she would use the power of the Holy Grail to bring her Shirou, and Rin back to life. Shirou would have to be punished of course, but he would soon learn the error of his ways and come to love her even more because of it. Sakura laughed as her fantasy played before her eyes over and over.
Shirou and Saber trekked through the streets hand in hand as they moved to the next house on the list. All day they had dutifully played the role of a newlywed couple searching for their first house. So far they had visited three different houses and not found one that suited their needs. As they walked up the stone path leading to what would hopefully be the right house they looked at each other and then turned with smiles on their faces as the seller opened the door. "Welcome" he said jovially as he ushered them inside. "I'm Mr. Nakimura, and I'll be showing you around the house today."
"It's a pleasure to meet you" Shirou responded as they were led quickly into the front room. The house was by no means large, but it had a basement that would be large enough to train in, and few windows for them to be spotted through.
"Well" the man started as he led them back to the door "I'll let you guys think about it, call me if you have any further questions." Noticing the look that passed between them he wasn't all that surprised to hear what came next.
"Mr. Nakimura, that won't be necessary. This is perfect, everything we've both dreamed of in fact." Shirou said as he pulled Saber to his side draping his arm around her shoulder as both of them beamed at the older man.
A smile lit up his face as he stared at the couple before him. They were so young, and still so innocent, caught up in their love with no idea of what life had in store for them. It reminded him greatly of him and his wife prior to her passing. Hopefully this house would be filled with their happy memories. "Great, I'll talk to the bank, and you can start moving in tomorrow." He couldn't help the smile that stayed on his lips as the young lovers walked down the path and away from the house still wrapped in each other's arms.
As Shirou and Saber rounded the corner out of sight of the old man the need to play a newlywed couple deeply in love searching for their first home faded. Yet neither noticed as they walked back to the hotel, that they were still holding each other with smiles on their faces.
Shirou opened his eyes not at all surprised to find a head of blonde hair draped across his chest. He couldn't believe that it had already been a week since he had summoned Saber. Yet at the same time he could hardly believe that so much had happened in only a week. His arms circled around Saber's lithe form as these thoughts filtered through his head. Everyone he knew was now dead, and Saber was the only person he had left in this world, and even she would vanish after the war ended. He was shocked at how much the blonde girl in his arms had come to mean to him in such a short time. Still it was better not to focus on such thoughts after all they did still need to win the war.
Saber's eyes opened slowly as she took in her surroundings a light blush colored her cheeks finding herself again cuddled into Shirou's side. Looking up she smiled finding Shirou's eyes "Good morning, have you been up long?" She asked, as he always seemed to be awake before her.
"Not long" he replied a smile etched on his face. Shifting slightly he moved out from under her, and headed for the shower. "We'll need to move into our new house today, and then get some rest if we want to spend the night patrolling." Saber nodded stretching as she moved from the bed to the small desk in the room. It had been quite since the magi had attacked on Wednesday, and that unsettled him. There were no more news reports of gas leaks, nor any unexplained explosions or damages done. It had just been quite, and from what Saber had shared of her experiences in the war with his Father, that was something to be worried about.
"Shirou" she called over the sound of running water. "Perhaps we should do a bit of training today as well. You have yet to test your new limits, and it would be unwise to do so in the heat of battle. We were lucky that those magi that attacked your house were weak. They were unprepared to fight a Servant, and I doubt that will happen a second time."
Letting the warm water rush over his form as he listened to his Servant Shirou ran through some of his borrowed memories for anything that could be of help. Archer had not stopped working on his skills after the conclusion of his war. With Rin as a tutor he had actually been capable of learning a multitude of low level spells and finding ways to increase the damage of his attacks. He was confident that he could fight a Servant on his own, as long as they didn't have an instant kill Nobel Phantasm. Getting out of the shower he pulled on a new set of clothes and plopped back down on the bed to wait for Saber to finish.
Finally hearing the water turn off he leaned against the wall right outside the door and called just loud enough for her to hear. "I think we should head to the temple tonight. From my memories of Archer's time in the war Castor is the one causing all these "gas leaks". We should stop her before she gets too powerful."
Saber exited the bathroom and sat back down at the desk before turning to Shirou. "That sounds like a good idea, and then we'll finally know if we were the only ones attacked by the Clock Tower. We still don't know how many Servant's there are either. We know both Berserker and Archer are dead, and Gilgamesh was killed as well. We know both Lancer and Castor's Masters, but we're not sure if they've gone into hiding as we have. Rider is probably far more powerful as well after all the Prana she stole from the school." She let out a sigh as she rubbed her forehead "We really can't do much else until we know for sure or not if we were the only ones attacked."
A loud grumble echoed from Saber's stomach and Shirou laughed as a blush spread across her cheeks. "Perhaps we should get some breakfast first, it wouldn't do to let our enemies get the best of us." He ducked to avoid a pillow as he continued to laugh at his Servant's predicament.
"Sir, the teams sent to capture the Emiya boy and Kotomine have both been confirmed dead. Their location is unknown, and our familiars have been unable to find them. We have another team prepared to go after Castor and her Master tonight, how should we proceed?
A sigh escaped the regal looking man's lips as he watched the agent in front of him. "Send two full teams, and inform them that I'll be personally accompanying them." With a nod of his head the agent stood and made his way across the room with nary a sound. Letting another sigh escape his lips Lord El-Melloi the Second wondered again how he had been convinced to take up this assignment. Ten years had not been enough time for him to forget the awesome powers displayed by the Servants of the Fourth Holy Grail War. He doubted any amount of time could pass that would make him forget just how outclassed humans were in comparison. Still the Masters of this war were not only incompetent, but reckless, and threatened to expose themselves to the world. This brought him to problem number two, without a Servant of their own they were at a huge disadvantage, no matter how inexperienced the Master a Servant was nothing to scoff at. He knew this first hand, as when he had fought in the war he was a fool playing at being a man. Still, he had an answer to that problem, no matter how strong a Servant was, if a Master died the Servant did as well. Not to mention with the right amount of personnel a Servant could be brought down. From what their familiars had gathered they had managed to confirm the identities of almost all of the Masters. Rider's Master was the only one they could not confirm, and they had a good idea of their general location. The familiars they sent out were all killed when they approached the Matou manner, and if their guess was correct that had to be the location of Rider's Master. Now he had to deal with his final problem, both Kotomine, and Emiya had seemingly vanished. The team leader from the contingent of Executioners was a fool who had rushed in and attacked Kotomine without any backup and had been easily killed. Not that he could say much different for the original team leader of the Magi either. That idiot had went after the most dangerous Servant left in the game, not to mention her Master is the Magus Killer's son. He had warned them both, and now he had to pick up all the pieces of this operation himself. Hopefully tonight's raid on Castor's stronghold would be simpler. He chuckled to himself at that thought, now he knew something would go wrong.
The muffled sound of wood hitting against wood reverberated off the walls at an increasing speed as Master and Servant met in a deadly dance. They had been fighting for several minutes, and no clear winner could be seen. With the increase in power and the experience gained from Archer's memories, Shirou was capable of keeping Saber on her toes. She was still a far better swordsman than him, but he had the ability to wield countless swords at the same time. After sorting through all of his acquired knowledge Shirou had found a few techniques that he really liked, and was now trying to work them into his fighting. One was what he was using now, by forming premade blades in Unlimited Blade Works he was capable of firing them directly into combat, and by taking several of these blades and having them fire on his weak side while attacking he was capable of keeping a much more skilled opponent off balance and unable to use their greater skill to any advantage. As he slashed at her right side a blade shot off aiming at her left forcing the parrying Saber to jump to the side, and right into the path of another blade. Pushing his advantage Shirou pushed forward firing off another two blades hoping to catch her off guard, but like always Saber merely jumped to the side before rebounding off the wall and knocking aside his forming blades. She landed with a twist knocking another blade that she couldn't possibly have seen, and using her greater strength and speed to slip past his defense and take a swipe at his side. Jumping back Shirou dodge the first strike and formed a blade to parry the second while he tried to catch his breath. While their spars were much closer than before he had yet to come out on top, and while he may have a chance with his Reality Marble, it still took too much out of him to use it as anything but a last resort. Saber pressed her advantage and batted one of the blades out of his hand while spinning and smashing her elbow into his face. Shirou staggered back firing off ten blades in a random pattern to buy him time to recover. Saber pushed forward knocking aside any blades in her path and dodging the rest. Seeing no other way out Shirou dove forward tackling the charging Servant to the ground rolling to come up on top, but with Saber's advantage in strength she was able to pin Shirou with her blade at his throat. "Well Shirou perhaps you'll win one of these days." She said with a teasing grin.
Over the last few days she had become much more open with Shirou, and it always brought him joy to see her smile so openly. Saber felt something press into her stomach and quickly glanced down to see a wooden dagger pressing lightly into her stomach. "Perhaps that day is closer then you might think." He smiled up as pride gleamed in her eyes. He may not have won, but for a human to bring a Servant to a draw was nothing short of a miracle. A sudden blush spread on his cheeks as he noticed how suggestive their position was. Although it had only been a week Shirou knew beyond a doubt the he loved the woman before him. Shifting slightly as she stood up he took her hand and returned to his feet. "Why don't you go take a shower and I'll get started on dinner." Saber nodded, and moved to go upstairs followed closely by the redheaded man.
Saber hummed to herself as she washed in the shower, a habit she had had from her childhood. Deciding to relax in the bath for awhile before dinner Saber leaned back and rested her head against the rim of the tub.
Shirou had just finished cooking dinner, and had yet to see Saber come back downstairs. Walking upstairs to their room he noticed the door was closed and assumed that Saber must be in there changing. Calling through the closed door he turned further down the hall to use the bathroom. Pushing open the door to the bathroom he was startled out of his thoughts by a feminine gasp. Immediately his eyes locked on Saber's form as she covered herself with a deep blush on her cheeks that he knew was mirrored on his own as he stepped back slamming the door shut. "S-Sorry" he stuttered out as he turned and rushed down the stairs back into the kitchen. Throughout dinner that night neither could look at each other without blushing.
Preparing for bed Shirou lay down and closed his eyes as he felt Saber crawl into bed next to him. They would be getting up in a little over four hours to patrol the temple, and see what Castor was up to. It was silent for a minute until with a huff Saber slid over from her side of the bed and cuddled into Shirou's side resting her head on his chest. "Just shut up" she muttered, the only response she got was Shirou wrapping his arms around her.