ACT IV

[SCENE: Still the ROYAL PALACE. The air is PAINFULLY OMINOUS since KIREI seems HAPPY. KIREI being HAPPY is a VERY BAD THING.]

KIREI: Now, where were we? Ah yes, the fine Prince had just punched out his lady love. Subtle, Rin dear.

RIN: Fuck you.

KIREI: In any event, things were not exactly their most romantic at the Royal Ball. Prince Rin was dancing with the wicked stepsister, while Lady Shinji tried to wiggle her tooth back into its socket. Also, for some reason, the horses who pulled the carriage chose to come into the ballroom. It was not exactly the magical evening Shinji had hoped for.

SHINJI: I actually just wanted to get laid. Though yes: not according to plan so far.

KIREI: And just when things were starting to look their worst, as if this would never be the romantic, beautiful night that Shinji had dreamed of all his life, a gigantic monster erupted into the room through the walls.

SHINJI: … … wait, that really doesn't sound like 'Cinderella' at a-

[BERSERKER enters. LOUDLY.]

RIN: The Holy Hell?

KIREI: Berserker leapt upon Prince Rin, scooping her up in his mighty arms to arrest him for treason, usurping the throne and palace for his own perverse ends. [BERSERKER proves himself one of the better actors in the PLAY by following the NARRATION EXACTLY.]

SHIROU: That wasn't in my copy of the script…

TAIGA: It wasn't in any copy!

KIREI: Oh, you didn't see the updates? [Holds up the script he was handed by ILYA. It looks SIMILAR to the copies passed to the rest of the cast, but the title is a bit different. It reads 'CINDERILYA'.]

ARCHER: Told you this was gonna be bad. Rin, you okay?

RIN: Eh, he's still gentler than Shinji.

SHINJI: Oh, screw you.

RIN: Not for all the gold in China, buddy.

[ILYA enters, wearing a dress that is basically identical to SHINJI'S.]

SHINJI: …You people are just doing this specifically to mock me at this point, eh?

[They ARE. Though ILYA does look MUCH BETTER IN THE DRESS.]

ILYA: Ah-hem! Ladies and gentlemen, please do not panic, the ball will continue as scheduled.

TAIGA: What are you doing to the genius?

ILYA: Narrator?

KIREI: And then it turned out that there was actually a fourth sister, who was prettier and smarter than Shinji and thus more deserving of the main character status.

TAIGA: You did not turn my play into a self-insert! And not even a well-written one! And why is nobody stopping her?

RIN: There's this really large guy telling me not to.

ARCHER: Rin is a bit hostaged at the moment, so…

LANCER: Oh, you mean I should be helping you, the one who cut all my scenes? Thanks for letting me know.

SHIROU: Well… the new script does say…

SABER: [Raiding the ROYAL BUFFET]

GILGAMESH: The Horse King does not concern himself with human political squabbles. He is above them. Neigh.

TAIGA: You people are useless.

ILYA: They take after their director. Narrator? Let's roll!

KIREI: And the lovely Ilya, being more politically aware than Shinji, was aware that Prince Rin had actually stolen the throne from her vastly more handsome and personable brother so that she could put together a harem of young ladies for her sex crimes.

RIN: … … … starting to not find this funny.

KIREI: And so, the pure-hearted and well-groomed Ilya made a wish upon her Fairy Godmonster to help the true prince return, so she could… *snerk*… Marry him.

ILYA: Onii-chan, that's your cue!

SHIROU: … but I'm a horse.

ILYA: No, no, the script is different, remember? I just didn't have enough copies for everyone, so trust me.

SHIRO: But...

ILYA: Trust my flow of genius, Onii-chan.

TAIGA: What about my flow of genius?

ILYA: Your genius was stupid, and the narrator is on my side. We're trusting my genius! And now the prince marries Cinderella!

SHIROU: We get married in the play?

ILYA: ... sure. In the play. [Casts a SIGNIFICANT GLANCE at the ordained PRIEST who is cheerfully GOING ALONG with her plans because he is a DOUCHE.]

ARCHER: [Considers what MARRYING HIS SISTER will do to his PERSONAL TIMELINE] … ugh. That is… Ilya, we're going to have to talk about not thinking these things through… okay, people! I'm officially requesting we stop this, all right? Guys?

SABER: [Hasn't heard ONE WORD since she got to the BUFFET GRILL]

RIN: Still not in a great position to help!

BERSERKER: Grrrrrrrrr.

RIDER: Has anyone seen Ayako? She slipped away from me. But on the plus side? I got her skirt! [Holds up a SKIRT] It's my trophy, now.

TAIGA: All is ashes… my directorial debut is a fiasco… [Sobs incoherently]

ARCHER: …I'm going to have to solve this myself, huh?

RIN: Sooner rather than later, please!

[The Orchestra (ILYA has much better FUNDING than TAIGA) begins to play 'HERE COMES THE BRIDE'. Kindly old FATHER KOTOMINE stands ready to MARRY THE HAPPY COUPLE. SHIROU doesn't seem to realize this is not really a NORMAL PLAY.]

ARCHER: All right. Time to do this. Shirou Emiya… your power to alter the script is still weak. Let me show you the path ahead…

I am the wood of my stage…

Parchment is my body, ink is my blood…

Unknown to fame, nor known to critics.

I have penned over a thousand lines,

Yet these words will never be spoken by anyone.

So, as I perform… Unlimited Play Works.

[FIRE and ASH fill the world. Before ARCHER, a gigantic BLANK SCRIPT emerges, and the LORD OF ALL QUILLS appears in his hand. He begins to WRITE, the WRITING that shapes the WORLD and all that is IN IT.]

ARCHER: All right… now I merely have to end the wedding, defeat Berserker, and get Shinji back into the heroine role for the finale. Shouldn't be too hard; I can think of several ways to achieve this while still maintaining fairly cohesive story structure.

LANCER: Or you could just screw with 'em for awhile.

ARCHER: Why would I…

LANCER: Because I'm bored and Rin is cute when she's pissed off?

ARCHER: … … … [SMILES. It is not, in fact, a GOOD SMILE.] And then, Lancer's spell wore off and he became a dog again.

[There is a puff of PLOT, and LANCER is replaced by a CHIHUAHUA.]

LANCER: Yipe, yipe! [His expression heavily implies this to be DOG-TALK for 'SCREW YOU'.]

ARCHER: Hey, you were the bored one. Noooooow… let's see. 'And then Rin escaped from Berserker…'

RIN: [Leaps free of the giant's arms, ready for combat.] All right, Archer! Time to…

ARCHER: '… by using the magical Kaleidostick she had hidden behind her back…'

RIN: … You son of a bitch.

ARCHER: "… to transform into Kaleido Ruby!'

[The world is filled with SPARKLING LIGHTS as RIN'S clothes dissolve. She SPINS AROUND in the air, a NEW OUTFIT appearing around her form piece by piece; an extremely EMBARASSING frilly red dress and CAT EARS. She is SMILING, but only because the STOCK FOOTAGE TRANSFORMATION SCENE requires it.]

RIN: Archer I am going to murder you and then bring you back to life so I can murder you again.

KIREI: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…

ILYA: Curse you, Rin! Your masterful distraction has halted the wedding!

SHIROU: I am so confused.

RIN: You know what? Fine. At least I have the stupid stick and the stupid magic, so I have more than enough power to pound this little tw-

ARCHER: 'Little did Prince Rin know, however, that Ilya had her own Kaleidostick!'

ILYA: Wait, wh- [STOCK FOOTAGE TRANSFORMATION SEQUENCE, go!]

RIN: Whose side are you on?

KIREI: Mine, apparently.

ARCHER: 'The two magical girls struck out at each other with all their power! Kaleido Ruby Hyper Meteor Beam Reverb! Prisma Ilya Pretty Sugar Chaos Flash!'

SHIROU: [Blinking at the EXPLOSIONS from the INVOLUNTARY BATTLE] This is the weirdest fairy tale I have ever seen.

ARCHER: 'Evenly matched, they called in allies!'

[LUVIA and MIYU EDELFELT enter.]

LUVIA: Wait, how did we…?

MIYU: I am sure I wasn't here five seconds ago.

ARCHER: 'It was a battle for the ages, full of sound and fury. Despite all they tried, Rin and Ilya were too evenly matched. More allies were called in, battle lines were drawn. It was a war sequence far too massive and filled with explosions for me to write it all out right at this moment, but trust me when I say it was visually stunning.'

[A WAR SEQUENCE OCCURS. It is VISUALLY STUNNING. … Use your IMAGINATION.]

[Our FORMER HERO, desperately out of his WEIGHT CLASS and fearing for his LIFE, chooses to HIDE UNDER A TABLE. He finds AYAKO there.]

AYAKO: Hey, Shinji. You hiding too?

SHINJI: Yeah, the world seems to be ending because Tohsaka's butler is an ass… where is the bottom half of your dress?

AYAKO: … I don't want to talk about it.

SHINJI: … … okay. So. Since we're here, you're already in your underwear and the world is ending…

AYAKO: I think I'm fine just dying, thanks.

[SAKURA and SHIROU dive beneath the table.]

SAKURA: Oooooh, hi there, nii-san! How did you enjoy the ball? You looked so pretty in your dress.

SHIROU: Sakura, is this really the time?

SAKURA: It's always the time to be polite, senpai. Besides, I think we have at least ten minutes until the story untangles, so I think it's good to spend it catching up.

SHINJI: Eh? Sakura, what does th-

SAKURA: Oh, what's happening is that Archer's forced overwriting of the play has taken us too far from the template of 'Cinderella' for this to be parody anymore. It's just a random mish-mash of junk now, and it's causing the story to come apart. If this battle isn't halted and returned to something close to the original storyline fairly soon, reality will shatter.

[The people hiding under the TABLE fall into utter SILENCE.]

SAKURA: What? I took 'Intro to World-Altering Plays' as an elective last semester.

SHIROU: So… if we can stop Archer from writing the play, this will snap back to a script that doesn't want us dead?

SHINJI: We could kill Emiya so Archer never existed!

SAKURA: Nii-san! That's rude.

SHINJI: Well, if you have a better idea, I'd love to hear i-

AYAKO: [Reaches out and BREAKS one of SHINJI'S FINGERS]

SHINJI: GAAAAAAAAAAAH! OW! OH, GOD, THAT HURTS! GAAAAH!

[A light fills the HEAVENS, as if SHINJI'S TEARS were calling to some HIGHER POWER. CASTER appears.]

RIN: [Hears the sound of AYAKO breaking SHINJI'S BONE'S even over the din of the war.] I think I'm in love.

CASTER: Um. Well. As much as I appreciate you sucking me back into Armageddon, I think I'm gonna head on out, so…

AYAKO: Hang on, sparky. You owe this maiden a wish, I think?

SHINJI: Oh God my finger you psychotic bitch you broke my finger…

CASTER: He got his wish! It was a good one, t-

SHIROU: I thought that other guy who I fed to wolves was saying you 'saved a lot of magic' by just dressing him up instead of finishing it?

CASTER: ….. I was hoping you hadn't heard that.

SAKURA: Are you seriously holding out on us when reality is collapsing?

CASTER: It was… y'know… a lot of magic. I was gonna magic myself a beach house in Maui.

AYAKO: No, you are gonna magic up Shinji's peaceful joyous maiden's wish, or I am seriously going to go just absolutely batshit on your ass! I have had a very trying day, the universe is ending, and a crazy woman took my pants! Do not test me!

CASTER: All right, all right! Um… do you think I have to do the bibbity-bobbity-boo song, or maybe I should just…

SHIROU, SAKURA, and AYAKO: JUST FIX THE DAMN UNIVERSE!

[CASTER waves her arms, granting SHINJI'S WISH in the form of conjuring a LARGE HAMMER to crack ARCHER over the HEAD.

[With the OUTSIDE INFLUENCE removed, the SCRIPT begins trying to RE-ASSERT itself over the PSEUDO-REALITY created by ARCHER. Creation itself FOLDS, WARPS, TURNS INSIDE OUT, sits up and plays FETCH… ]

[Things.]

[Get.]

[Kinda.]

[Weird.]

[SCENE: Royal Palace. Reality.]

[The CAST looks around the ball-room. Nobody says anything for AWHILE, because seriously that was sorta OFF-PUTTING.]

SABER: Did anyone else try the fruit salad? The buffet had excellent fruit salad.

RIN: ….

ILYA: …

SHINJI: …..

SHIROU: … … … you know, the play is stupid and Fuji-nee isn't paying attention anymore anyway. We have food, we have a band, anyone else just want to call it wraps and have a party?

[They DO.]

[SAKURA and RIN had a good WALTZ going before everything went to HELL, and drop right back into it because even now, RADIANTBEAM is still CO-AUTHOR. SABER and ILYA drag SHIROU out onto the floor together, though it's likely that SABER will get the first dance seeing as she could BENCH-PRESS ILYA with ONE PINKIE. BERSERKER seems to be enjoying the BUFFET. AYAKO is dancing with RIDER, and the expression on her FACE makes it unclear if she WANTS TO BE. TAIGA, free from the STRESSES of being a BAD DIRECTOR, shows LANCER that she is pretty good at the TANGO. ARCHER and CASTER share a SLOW-DANCE while comparing notes on SCREWING REALITY.]

[ZERO CASTER is still outside with the WOLVES. Nobody bothers to check if he is still ALIVE.]

[GILGAMESH and SHINJI are ALONE AND FORGOTTEN in the CORNER.]

SHINJI: … hey, do you want to—

GILGAMESH: The Horse King dances not with mortals. Neigh.

SHINJI: … … … this ball sucked.

KIREI: And thus ends the tale of Shinderella. Or is this Cinderilya again? Or… whatever. The point is that the play has ended. Sadly, the world was not destroyed, but oddly everyone seems fine with that. And, well… I guess if the world had ended, there goes all potential for torment, so maybe it's for the best. Either way, I had fun, and that's really the only thing that matters.

[KIREI's sense of MORALITY is a bit OFF.]

KIREI: In any event, I think we can call the first Tiger Dojo production a resounding failure. Unless I'm mistaken we've caused a marked decrease on all joy in the universe... hopefully we can get enough funding together for a sequel and see if we can do more damage. Until then, those of the audience who survived… hopefully we'll get you next time. Adieu!

[CLOSE CURTAIN.]

Afterword:

[Composed from an ACTUAL CONVERSATION between MYSELF and BEAMS. Edited for FORMAT, but not for CONTENT. We are REALLY LIKE THIS.]

Moczo :Would you like to compose an afterword?

RadiantBeam: Sure. Where do we start?

Moczo: "What did we just write"?

RadiantBeam: If I remember correctly, this all started with a text conversation involving Gentleman Zouken.

Moczo: And then we just kept talking. First about Shinji needing to be a gentleman, then not going to the ball.

RadiantBeam: Somehow, the connection to Cinderella was made. In that, Shinji became Cinderella. In that, we knew if this was ever written, it would be a magnificent failure of a Cinderella parody. So we decided, what the hell?

Moczo: And actually, I think that was the fun of it. This isn't really a story, is it? It's kinda just us talking for 30 pages.

RadiantBeam: This is basically one of our many conversations, just with one cast of characters and a... plot?

Moczo: I like how you put a question mark after 'plot'. It sorta had a plot. We just didn't follow it.

RadiantBeam:... Parody is a plot, right?

Moczo: It started out having a plot. But I don't know if we really kept to the plot after the first chapter. We wrote so much of this on the fly.

RadiantBeam: I'm pretty sure we stayed true to the idea of making it a parody of Cinderella. Even though really, we kind of knew if we wanted to make it a straight parody, Sakura would have been more fitting. But that would have been boring.

Moczo:It wouldn't have been a parody. Just the cast of FSN doing Cinderella. And the title wouldn't have been as catchy.

RadiantBeam: Sakurella. Doesn't quite have the ring that Shinderella does.

Moczo: Sounds like a disease you get from uncooked fish.

RadiantBeam: And really, Sakura is funnier as the wicked stepsister who fails at being wicked.

Moczo: And since our first priority was having a fun conversation, and our second was making people laugh, we had to go with the funny choice.

RadiantBeam: So you all ended up with Shinderella. But hey, Sakura won in the end! ... Kind of.

Moczo: ... we should, probably like, give some actual thoughts before the afterword ends up as long as the story.

RadiantBeam:... Yeah. Maybe we have a bit too much fun, but hey, there's no reason to do stuff like this unless it's fun.

Moczo: And it was like... literarily significant, too! It was the first time I've written a script-format story. It was fun to experiment with that.

RadiantBeam: And I... um... I got better at humor? I don't really know. I did manage to sneak in some Sakura/Rin, though. I do that.

Moczo: You did get some really wonderful lines in there, I'll give you that. ... and does it count as 'sneaking' if you were blatantly attempting to write it in from day one?

RadiantBeam: At least I admit it.

Moczo: You do admit it. Often. Daily. ... your mind is just 'YuriYuriYuriYuriYuriYuri', isn't it?

RadiantBeam: ... If I said maybe sometimes?

Moczo: I would just sorta roll my eyes, because I'm so used to it at this point.

RadiantBeam: I suspected as much, to be honest. I still had more fun with this than I probably should have.

Moczo: That's because my presence is like, concentrated fun. I bring joy to all around me. ... also, this was a really amusing story to write in a lot of ways. But mostly me.

RadiantBeam: ... Should we be saying stuff like this in an afterword?

Moczo: I think the readers expect it from us at this point.

RadiantBeam: Point, point. In any event, I had fun, and I hope they all enjoyed the story. You?

Moczo: I had a blast. Writing this flowed more easily than anything else I've sat down to in ages, and I look forward to future collaboaration. It's only a matter of time, you know.

RadiantBeam: No, we're not giving any details.

Moczo: BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!