The Emiya Kitchen Wars have begun. The Counter Guardian EMIYA aka Archer challenged Shirou Emiya and Gilgamesh for the title of "First Chef". In the heat of petty arguments the three cooks have agreed on a contest proposed by the King of Knights, making dinner, the best menu wins the title. Since this means making dinner for the whole Clan Archer suggested pairing every chef with an assistant. Everybody agreed while Saber stealthy removed all traces of drool from her face.
The participating Teams are:
Shirou Emiya, clan-patriarch and longtime supreme cook. Partner: Sakura Emiya, talented food artisan and hard worker.
His hands are a blur as he cuts vegetables into the desired shape, while the purple-haired beauty is preparing the meat. Shirou is focused in a way one would expect only in death-or-life situations, his kitchen being at risk turns him into a machine, a coldblooded cooking-machine. Sakura is working careful and every bit as precise as her husband, but unlike him she is on cloud seven. She understands how serious her spouse is about cooking, being his chosen partner means a lot and this make happy beyond words and she won't disappoint his expectations. The couple works mostly silent in prefect sync.
Gilgamesh of Babylon, King of Heroes and Nannies, has tasted all fine food ever made(before 10000 BC) and knows how make it. Partner: Souhiro Aozaki-Emiya, Technomage, alchemist and Scientist, PhDs in biology and chemistry (among others), you want a taste he can manufacture it.
Multi-colored flames dance high as a bull gets barbequed in a style last seen 9000 years ago, the species of the bull died out even before that, mainly because 'tasting good' is a very bad trait for survival. This half ton of long lost meat-treasure is the result of a cloning experiment, commissioned by Gilgamesh, implemented by Souhiro. It was supposed to crush Shirou, to prove the superiority of royalty over a faking peasant, soon it would have been fully matured, but now it has been used for this contest. The king regrets nothing, if anything the situation surpasses his hopes, he can best the faker and the other faker in one glorious move. Furthermore, he has already ordered another ancient bull (and some vegetables, he has the watch his weight).
Archer, Counter Guardian, future Badass, definition of GAR, the true limits of his cooking-skill a mystery. Partner: Kiritsugu Emiya, the younger one, son of Aturia Pendragon and banned from all kitchens because of… OH CRAP!
Archer finished his inspection of the kitchen. Clean as a whistle, pots are excellent, oven is a dream, the freezer is filled to the brim, and most importantly no traps or monsters or horny females hidden anywhere. He seals the door anyway, just to be sure. Now time to examine his partner's level.
"Okay, we don't have much time so let's stick with the basic. Kiritsugu, do like to cook?"
"I love it!"
Oh, good answer. If he loves to cook, he will cook often, that means he got practice and has probably tried out various techniques.
"How often do to cook?"
"Not as much I'd like, Dad or Gil always get to the kitchen first and when I finally get a chance somebody always throws me out."
First part makes sense, the second is strange. Does it mean he spends so much time in the kitchen, that his mothers force him to go to bed? Kid might need some therapy, but that can wait. For now it's time to make use of his passion.
"I see, then I shall give you reprise from merciless cooking withdrawal. Start with cutting cabbage, carrots, cucumber and tomatoes into small pieces, like for a salad. I prepare the meat. Whoever is finished first peels some potatoes. More after we finish that."
"Yes sir!" Kiritsugu feels happiness, nobody had relied on his cooking skill like this, ever!
Archer takes a moment to watch the boy pick a knife and some vegetables, in both cases he makes good choices. With his doubt dispelled the Counter Guardian turns to his part of plan, he needs beef, fish and chicken meat, some oil and a spice-mix he learned in Thailand. Just as he raised his knife to cut the beef.
"GRRRROOOOOOHHHAAAAAA!" A deep, bubbling sound comes from behind.
"Help!" followed by Kiritsugu's plea for aid.
"Of course, the universe let me be for over twenty minutes, time for something to ruin my day even more." Archer sighs and turns toward the source of the bestial growl. He freezes. Now in front of him is an abomination, a three-meter tomato, the bright red skin is studded with cucumber, similar to metal beads on leather-armor. It's armed with a dozen of long ribbons of cabbage (Archer refuses to think of them as tentacles) swinging wild, searching for prey and finally the mouth, a wide gap with sharped, peeled carrots. A salad-monster, should he even wonder where it came from or just accuse Shirou of foul-play? Anyway cutting than thing may prove therapeutic.
Kiritsugu managed to dodge the grabs, most likely due to reflexes that came from living in this madhouse. "Kid, take over the meat for me, I will need chicken nuggets. Meanwhile I deal with the salad."
"At once!" Not one moment hesitation in Kiri's action. Archer can't help being impressed with the youth's quick response, still he considered burning the whole estate down, a place where kids act like this by habit should not exist.
With the teenager out of the way Archer quickly traced his most trusted twin-blades and began cutting the plant-thing. Cutting down the monster proved both easier and harder than he expected, easier since the cabbage-tentacles and the cucumber-armor were very easy to cut, harder since that thing felt no pain nor did could he find any vital points, the loss of an appendage was ignored and it regrew quickly. Still the knight was used to far worse, this fight was actually relaxing. Quickly tracing a spear the monster got immobilized by literally nailing it to the floor. Maybe there were some internal organs after all, as the salad-thing stopped moving once pierced so thoroughly.
"That takes care of it, now how did it get in here?" The door is still tightly sealed, as are ventilations shafts, maybe a hidden door or a dimensional pocket? But then…
Meat? Something dark red flew by, missing Archer's face by an inch. Much like Kiri earlier the knight dove for cover, landing behind a solid-looking (and most likely solid-being) collection of extra-sized pots.
"What was that?" Finding himself next to Kiri, who apparently had lost no time to find cover as well, the Knight tries to make sense of the new problem.
"Uhm, a meat-thing?"
"Not just one!" Peeking over the pots Archer can see a swarm of dark red hornets, the site of pigeons and made of chicken-meat. Even worse, standing behind the swarm was some kind of skinless Minotaur, clearly made out of pork and beef, a female one judging by the pair of udders.
"So, multiple meat-things, we can take them." Kiri's composed reply caused another line of thought in Archer.
"Is that normal here? Getting attacked by unknown beast while trying to do some innocent cooking?"
"It's been actually really tame so far, Christmas that was an incredible event."
"Why do I feel such deep fear grabbing my heart?"
"You were there."
"I don't remember meeting any of you before!"
"It might be a time travel-thing, I was already there, but you will be there. You and a dozen other Counter Guardians."
"Sounds plausible, but then why do I suddenly taste eggnog and feel afraid of knitting?"
"Then it could be you suppressed the memory, happens to some of the visitors we get and I think Alaya-ko had her way with you."
"Ayala-ko, wasn't she a Tsundere and... No, I refuse to think about that anymore. Let me cut down these things, I need to do some cooking, ASAP! You start with the bread."
Blades, black and white, dance around the meat- and chicken-beasts, a single cut even from these mystic swords barely slows them down, but Archer hits dozens of times, hundreds. Every attack is planned and analyzed, giving the red Knight more and more information, two minutes into battle he figured out his opponent's strengths, movement and vital points. Then he uses this Intel and the chicken-things drop instantly. This leaves the meat-minotaur. Or so Archer thinks until a cabbage-tentacle grabs his legs. Is the salad-beast still alive? No, it's still dead, but the two smaller versions of it are very alive, how did he miss them before? It's not like they just popped up from the chopping board… wait a second… Why exactly is Kiri thrown out of kitchens?
Ops? Alarmed the counter Guardian tries to look at the teenager. He finds him fighting snakes made of bread. Archer's sarcastic and logical brain-parts team-up to give a deduction:
First the vegetables Kiri cut, fused into some kind of Veggie-golem.
Then the meat Kiri prepared grew into skinless beasts.
And now the bread turned in snake-like aggressors, just as Kiri had turned his attention to it.
Kid has something to do with the food-fighters.
Somebody is sabotaging him or both of us.
The first point implicates that Kiritsugu is either working against Archer or has been less than honest. The second possibility means war. Open, merciless, dirty warfare only a disillusioned Counter Guardian could possibly image.
Just as Archer decided to wage that war anyway one of the Salad-golems lifted him above itself, giving him a good look at its topside which was dominated by an chasm-like, circular jaw (reminding him of the Sandworms in that 'Dune'-movie he once saw). The 'teeth' were carrots, apparently sharpened and solid enough to compete with their ivory counterparts.
Then the cabbage binding him launches the red knight into the red abyss.
That is the first thought Archer gets after falling into the red beast's jaw. He has been swallowed before and the air within organic creatures ranges from bad to not-breathable. Yet he has no trouble filling his own lungs, it's also dry and cool, everything a stomach shouldn't be. He slowly opens an eye. Instead of a flesh-wall he finds himself on a wood floor, next to him are several desks and chair, older school-type furniture from at least twenty years before he stepped into a school. Gathering his courage he looks higher, at the front of the room is a blackboard, this really is a class-room in a school, or a good imitation.
Then he sees the sign. On a bright pink background spelled with black and white letters:
Einzbern Consultation Room
On some level it makes sense to him, he already met another version of Illya and now both of them are in the material world. So it is possible, even probable that another version of the snow fairy took charge of screwing with him.
This also means that he has no escape from her, no secret she can't discover and most definitely no mercy to expect from her save for a mercy kill once she has brought him down on his knees.
Facing the facts he chose the least painful option, frontal assault. The faster he got this over with, the less time Illya had to humiliate him… on occasions like this Archer really misses being torn apart by Berserker.
Slowly standing up, ready for an Illya-tackle, or a twin-loli flying kick or other things he expects. Nothing happens. Finally standing he looks around, nobody here. It makes no sense Illya wouldn't wait with her attack, unless, maybe this is…
"Is this abandonment-play?" Waiting for any kind of delayed sneak, Archer considers possible explanations. "Or is the whole Dojo-system still online without Illya?" He could work with this, hijacking the control, stay here forever and occasionally play mentor to some poor chap.
"Sorry! I'm late!"
Or his tormentor could just late. It makes sense, given that the kimono she's wearing needs some time to be put on. Archer examines the newcomer, white hair, ruby eyes, skin like marble, he estimates her age at around 30. Her kimono is pink, resembling a cherry-blossom in full bloom, she also wears Hakama in a darker shade of pink, a pair of leather boots and black forearm protectors extending over the back of her hands. The long sleeves of the Kimono and her long hair are bound with black ribbons, the former to grant mobility for the arms, the latter creates a ponytail, which complements the whole getup rather well.
"Hello Illya, what cosplay did you get for your assistants this time?" The silver-haired beauty blushes and starts giggling.
"Oh my, I'm afraid you have mistaken me. My name isn't Illya."
"Not Illya?" what game is she playing this time? Well Archer can play too. "Then forgive me, and may I inquire your name, my lady?"
"Kya, so gallant! Kiritsugu has raised you well. This nee-san is far older than Illya." Instead of answering not-Illya wriggles happily around. Archer still can't make sense of her, she claims not to be Illya, well on closer inspection there are some subtle differences between her and the grown-up version he met before. But she is definitely an Einzbern Homunculus. Also she knows Kiritsugu, the man who saved and raised him. And every Einzbern should hate Kiritsugu Emiya, since she speaks of his father in a positive manner that means she had personal contact with him. The fourth Grail War…
"Could you be Justeaze Lizrich von Einzbern?" Only she, the core of the Greater Grail could have made contact with Kiritsugu during the climax of the fourth war. It also were Kiritsugu's actions, which indirectly caused the end of the Greater Grail, setting the Homunculus free.
"NO! I'm not THAT old!" That hit a nerve, faced with an absolute adorable, angry pout, Archer back up a few steps.
"Then who the Zelretch are you? Please keep in mind that I'm not a slider or an esper."
The Einzbern-woman calms down. "I know that, and I know that you are Illya's beloved brother, little or big is matter in progress, but her brother anyway. And that's why I have come today! For Love, poetic justice and mandatory blackmail!"
"…what is mandatory blackmail? You still haven't introduced yourself, Miss?"
"Not Miss, Madam! And mandatory blackmail is gathered during ones young and innocent days, before you grasp the concept of shame and embarrassment."
"Like what? Baby-pictures?" The silver woman shows the red knight a radiant smile. "Baby-pictures… Madam… Illya, not Illyasviel but Illya… Kiritsugu… not that old… Y-you you are…!" The woman's smile grow wider as Archer's realization sets in. "Illya's mother?"
"Bing-Bong! You finally got it, that also saves me the introduction."
"…not really, I know a bit about you. But I was never told your name…"
She freezes, the whole room freezes with the sound of breaking glass. Then…
"MOU! This day really gets worse by the minute!" She begins a tantrum, an insanely cute, puffed cheeks, whirling arms tantrum. The resemblance to Illya is uncanny. "First I miss Illya by minutes! Then I can't find my dear Zecchan! I am too late for your arrival and now I learn nobody told my son about me!"
"Son?" This penetrates Archer's poker-face, he blushes.
Noting this she recomposes her calm. "Yes, my husband adopted you. This makes you my son just as much as Kiritsugu's!"
"…he he" The whole idea is plain crazy and too complicated, but Archer's mind gets one thing out before shutting down for a reset. "Taiga's going to flip, she hated the idea of any girl getting closer to me than herself. With a pretty mom like you she'll burst a vein."
"Hau, you called me mom, Iri is so happy…"
"Kiri's nickname for me, my full name is Irisviel von Einbern!"
"I see, a beautiful name."
"Right? I think so too… Ah! I wanted to tease you a bit more with this…" Her, Iris's face darkens.
"Knowing my track record you will find something else to torture me in about 4 minutes 17 seconds."
"Hm… true the root is quite focused on your existence."
"See? Just lean back and wait for… The root IS after me?" Why have only the things to make sense be so terrifying?
"You and Shirou, didn't you know that?"
"No. Yes. I suspected…"
"I see. Let's change the topic? How about some tea?" She got Archer's attention instantly.
"Can I make it?"
They spent next twenty minutes almost silent. Being in a spiritual realm every kind of tealeaf was available. Archer chose the best he ever had. A rare cousin of the sencha, only cultivated at the lake within a mostly forgotten monastery in the Tibetan mountains, at 5000 meters above sea-level. In his lifetime Archer fell literally into said monastery, the brief stay evolved his tea-making-skill beyond what was considered human. Nobody alive ever knew of this.
Today he makes this tea for the first time for somebody else.
Iris gracefully accepts a simple but delicate cup of it. "Oh, that's some fine tea! My maids could learn from you."
Somehow this compliment makes the whole getting eaten by a killer-tomato-deal worth it.
"Are you not drinking?" Iris's voice calls Archer back into the present, or wherever his classroom is.
"What? Oh! My bad, I was in deep thought." He quickly sips from his own cup, sampling the tender taste, cleansing his mind better than any meditation could. Damn he needed this.
"So." Iris stands up. "Time to try this again." She takes a deep breath. "Welcome to the Einzbern Consultation Room, where poor, lost souls will be shown the light. I am your instructor Iri-shishou! Once I find my disciple, Zecchan, I will introduce her as well!"
Archer is listening closely. He feels hope coming up. "So you will help me out of my mess?"
"Nope! I will give you advice whenever you get a bad end. " So much for hope.
"What? But I deserve a way out of that madhouse!"
"You had a chance, but botched it by underestimating two innocent, but not harmless maidens."
"Please don't remind me…" These boots got to be illegal.
"You will not be given a second chance, you have to work for it. Fight young man, face the secrets of the Emiya-clan, overcome the hunger of the harem."
"Hunger of the Harem?"
"The Harem must be feed, you will soon understand or handweave it. Erhm. Master the trials before you and you shall be rewarded. Also die often so we can have more nice chats like this one."
"…heh, at least you are honest."
"Fufufu, so true. Time to go, you have a contest to win and I need to find my disciple and give my husband a piece of my mind."
"Win? With those food-monsters ruining the kitchen? No way, even I can't salvage anything good enough. Not with the brat and Gilgamesh as competition." Remembering the desecration of that sacred masterpiece of interior design Archer feels pure anger.
"But you can, see I almost forgot giving you a hint."
"Just a hint? Can't you just tell me the plan?"
"Nope~ I want to see grow, becoming strong as you fight the impossible, returning more powerful after each near-death experience, befriending your defeated foes and to see you again soon." For a brief moment Archer wonders, has this woman been raised on shonen-manga? No point in upsetting her.
"Fine, I'm listening."
Iris suddenly whirls something around, (maybe a staff?) before slam on end into floor. (It's a Naginata) "Then listen well!" With a full and confident voice the hint get announced. "Kiritsugu junior is the son of Shirou and Aturia. It's his innate ability than turned harmless food into what you have seen."
"That's all you get this time, come back soon for more."
With this the world turns black and Archer returns into the material world.
For those who don't know about the Einzbern Consultation Room, it's a series of three specials/Omakes included with the Fate/Zero Blue-Rays. Featuring Irisviel and Zecchan explaining the Holy Grain War.