By: Farmer Kyle
Disclaimer: I own neither Bleach, Fate/stay night, or Fate/Apocrypha. They are owned by Tite Kubo, Kinoko Nasu, and Yuichiro Higashide respectively. Inspired by music by Switchfoot and Flyleaf, which I own legal copies of, but not the intelligent rights, or something. Also, this is written in answer to a challenge made by author, The Infamous Man. Also beta'd by him, thanks TIM!
Chapter 2: The Mist of War
If you had told me a few weeks ago that I'd be attacked by some kind of witch, I'd have probably come better prepared or not gone to Fuyuki at all. A year ago I was fighting spirit eating monsters and rogue death gods, so I'm no stranger to the supernatural. A witch is almost easy to believe; I could probably argue that she just has spiritual powers like my friends.
But this little girl(did she say her name was Assassin?), who obviously failed at dressing herself, appearing out of a flash of light and asking if I was her master? That I'm having a hard time believing true, and it just happened!
"Wha-what?" I ask, because I don't have a clue what she's talking about. I'm even questioning if I want to know, given her outfit.
"We were called, so we came. Are you our Master?" She explains and asks again, staring at me like that would give her the answer. For all I know, it just might.
"I am the one who called you, Assassin." came that blue-haired witch's voice. I look back at her and find she's calm. Odd, given that a moment ago she was raving that what ever just happened was 'impossible'.
"I had begun the incantation to summon you when this... boy, came and interrupted me. As I was getting ready to be rid of him, he somehow continued my interrupted ritual. While he may bear the Command Spells upon his hand, it is obvious that he is no magus. He could not have called you. I am your rightful Master." The woman tells the girl. I could almost feel the contempt when she called me 'boy'.
I have no idea what that witch is talking about, but I don't like where it's heading. So I interrupted something? How was I supposed to know? Even then, how could I have taken over something that I didn't know was there?
And while I had supposedly done those things, I wasn't going to let my side of things go unheard. "Oh yeah? How was I supposed to know what you were doing up here. You could have just let me go, but then you try to kill me for my soul? You're not exactly innocent either."
The girl was looking back and forth at each of us, her head tilted to the side and a finger to her mouth. Almost like she was trying to decide between two toys to get. It just emphasized the 'cute little girl' image she had. Finally though she settled on looking at the witch.
Worry wells up in me as the woman smiles. "Good. Now just let me take care of this nuisance and we'll see about formalizing the contract." She lifts her arm and a familiar ball of pink light appears. I glare at her and the light; if I really am dieing now, I'll do it facing death head-on.
The light launches, flying at me at a speed I can hardly comprehend. I close my eyes because of the glare.
Something hits my stomach, and I'm off the ground again. I guess the witch wants me to suffer some more.
Then I notice that the feeling on my stomach feels like an arm. Did someone grab me?
Suddenly I'm put on the ground sitting up. Opening my eyes, I have no idea who to expect. So I'm surprised to find the little girl.
"Are you alright, Father?" She asked me, and I was surprised by the care in her voice. Hadn't she brushed me off earlier? And the way she called me Father, it sounded like she said Master at the same time.
My cuts though remind me of their presence before I can answer her, and I take a sharp breath as my body twitches from the pain.
The girl's eyes widen in worry, as if only just now noticing the cuts. "We're sorry Father. Please hold on for a bit longer. We'll take care of it." she tells me softly. She bends down and kisses my cheek. "Everything will be alright now."
"How dare you! Why do you help that worthless boy! I am your rightful Master!" the witch yells at us. The girl's eyes turn cold at her voice, and she turns around to face the woman. It also allows me to see that we're at least 20 meters away from where we had been, on the other side of the temple grounds.
"We do not like you." She says to the witch, her voice devoid of any care. "You are not Mother." She declares firmly, Mother and Master somehow being said at the same time.
"Is that so, Assassin?" the witch asks, her smile wicked. "We shall see. You will be mine in the end, and I will make you kill that boy."
Forms start to rise up from the ground around me and the girl. But as the dirt falls, it's revealed what they are.
Skeletons made of navy blue bone, each made from the bones of a monster. Some have fewer ribs than the others, while others are more jagged or smooth. But all have a few similar features. None have a true skull, only jaws filled with sharp teeth. All have pointed elbows, and hands and feet with four toes and fingers. Each holds a sword of bone, one of every make and shape, few of these warriors hold the same blade. I have to wonder if some haunted house is looking for its props. Jokes aside, I'm worried. I can't defend myself in the state I'm in, and there's at least twenty or so of these skeletons here.
But before I can think of anything, they attack, looking to swarm me and the girl!
But the girl... that girl is fast. Really fast. One moment she's in front of me, the next she's drawn two of her four daggers and leaping at the nearest skeleton. How did I not notice the daggers before now? It breaks under the force, unable to withstand the girl's strength. Which means she's stronger than she looks too. She leaps to another one, closer to me, and destroys it as well.
The pattern repeats itself, over and over again, the girl never straying far from me. Always dodging an attack the skeletons make. But the bone warriors never seem to end. I doubt she'll be able to hold them off forever, and I guess the girl realizes this too after a minute,. So after destroying a few more skeletons, she lands next to me. But the skeletons continue their advance, shambling towards us.
"Don't move." she tells me, sheathing her daggers. Holding out her hand, fog appears around it for a moment and leaves. In her hand now is an antique looking iron lantern, a melted, unlit candle inside. She opens the lantern's shutter and reaches her free hand inside, touching the candle.
"The Mist." the girl intones, like the words were a prayer.
The candle lights, and fog begins to billow out from the bottom of the lantern. Quickly it spreads to surround us, thickening and turning black until all I can see clearly is the space surrounding us that the fog refused to fill.
"There." she says, probably for my benefit. She looks to me, "The Mist has covered the area. It should erode the Caster's familiars."
Wait, the caster? "Is that what she is, this caster?" So she really is a witch. "And what is this 'mist'? Who are you?" I'm tired of not knowing.
"Please wait Father. We will explain everything, but only after Father is safe." And she really does seem to regret it from the look on her face. "We will explain after we take care of Caster."
As much as I'd like to get the answers now, she has a point. "Fine, just as long as you explain all this."
With a nod she disappears into the dark fog.
Watching the Servant Assassin destroy her familiars, Caster began to formulate how best to use her future Servant. Her speed and agility were certainly impressive, and her strength acceptable. She also seemed to handle the number of the Dragon Bone Warriors well. The only scruple about the Servant was the feel of her.
There was a... newness, one might say. A youth to her that was not because of her looks. Caster reasoned that this Heroic Spirit, whomever she may be, had not been one for long. Her legend must have only ascended recently, relative to herself or that Lancer that had been running about the city. The Assassin's presence simply wasn't as powerful, regardless of her Class.
When the fog began to envelop the temple grounds, Caster had scoffed, seeing it as a wasted effort to hide. But when her familiars within it began to be destroyed en masse, far faster than the girl had managed before, Caster quickly sent a gust of wind at the fog to blow it away. A large swath was cleared, and revealed her familiars eroded and breaking. But it did not last long, the fog rolling back in to cover the fallen, and heading for her!
A shield spell was on her lips, ready to cast, when something breaks ahead of the fog, aimed at her. She immediately begins the words for a shield, but fumbles them, her panic and the sudden change causing her tongue to tie.
The thing hits her and Caster screams, a butcher's knife in her shoulder. The fog is quick to follow, dark smog all she can see.
Panicking, Caster takes flight, her spell propelling her towards the sky and out of the fog. Yet it does not. No matter how far she ascends, no matter the direction, it was like she barely moved at all. Then she suddenly hits the ground, crashing to the floor with a heavy thud. When had she gotten close to the ground? Disoriented, Caster slowly picks herself up, taking out the knife, looking around as she assessed her surroundings. The fog was all that she could she, to the point that sunlight was blotted out. Even the ground she was standing on was obscured.
It wasn't hard to guess what this was. A Noble Phantasm. It's effects were apparent, for even now she could feel the fog sapping her strength, stealing the speed and strength from her movements. The loss of direction and the seeming endlessness of the fog were likely to keep targets inside it.
She cursed Assassin. She cursed the bounded fields that should have insured her victory. They did little good if the enemy came from inside them!
She paused, a hunch as to the nature of this Noble Phantasm on her mind. She stretched out her senses, examining the fog. Yes! The fog was itself a bounded field. Designed to slow its victims and to keep them lost in the fog, to... conceal...
Dread filled Caster at that moment.
And then there was only pain.
I had only been sitting for maybe a minute when the fog began to lighten. I look over to the lantern that the girl had left and found it fading away like the mist. That could mean one of two things: either she had won, or she had lost.
I struggle to stand, my head feeling like pins and needles. Not good, I'm losing too much blood. Fighting off the light-headedness and pain from my cuts, I stand.
By the time I'm sure I won't fall over and look up, almost all the fog is gone, the only remaining bits of it being a light mist hugging the ground. It's easy to see the girl and the witch, who were now only ten meters away.
Th girl looked no worse than before, her eyes cold and calculating as she stared at the body of the witch before her. The woman was lying prone on the ground, and from the growing pool of blood under her, heavily injured. Dead most likely.
Hopefully a Soul Reaper would come by soon to take care of her. I'd rather not imagine what the witch would be like as a hollow.
I was about to call the girl over so we could leave, because I certainly didn't want to be around to explain why I was found close by a corpse, when I saw him come out of the temple. A man dressed in a green suit was running to the girl, fists raised to attack.
I don't know if he was as strong as that woman or not, but I could tell he was fast, faster than anything considered "normal". The girl was facing away from the temple, so hadn't seen or heard him, given the lack of any noise from his running strides. I wasn't about to chance letting him get the jump on that girl.
"WATCH OUT!" I yell my warning, hoping she'd react in time.
She turns to look at me and I see her concern again. Maybe to see if I was alright? But she turns again toward wear the man is running, eyes hardening again as she did so. How can someone make such a complete shift of emotions?
But the shout also makes the man notice me, as now he's running for me!
I notice the girl's eyes widen seeing the enemy going after me now and starts running after him, hoping to stop him, but I have to ignore her. I ready myself in spite of my wounds, because I could recognize the look in the man's eyes as he came closer.
He was a killer, and he was going to reach me first.
Just as I get my guard up, he's in front of me. The adrenaline speeds up my perception, and instead of the blur I had expected, I can see his attack coming. He's throwing a right hook, and I move to block. But just as I get my arms into position, my instincts scream.
The fist that would have been blocked instead bends out of the way, now heading for my chest!
All this I can see with my adrenaline enhanced eyes, and feel with my battle-trained instincts, but can my body move to keep up?
I jump back, watching the strike as it comes closer and closer to where my sternum is, the center of my chest. Because all my focus was on that hand, I notice the glowing red tattoo atop its palm. But I can't make any guesses as to its shape as I watch the finger's of the man's hand come ever closer to my chest, and I don't have any doubts about what kind of damage they can do.
If I don't evade this attack, I'll be killed.
Metal flashes in the corner of my eye, as a cleaver blade comes down between me and certain death. The hand pulls back, the man retreating a meter to get out of the girl's immediate range.
I take the moment to breath, having expelled it in my jump. I sag a little, the moment to stop my jack-hammering heart taking away some of the adrenaline that was the only thing keeping me going. My headache was coming back. My body was crying out in pain from my cuts and battered bones. I'm not sure how much longer I can keep going.
I look down in front of me and see silvery white hair. "Thanks." I mutter to the girl now in front of me, each of her hands holding a butcher's knife. I look up to get a better look at the man.
He had adopted a stance that I had never seen before. He was leading with his left side, left arm held at a right angle and kept down and across his body. His right arm was up and coiled back, ready to fly out into a punch. Both hands had their fingers closed, but not to the point they were closed fists. He was as tall as me, a rare thing. Short black hair and black eyes, his face angular and sharp. He was wearing a matching pair of green pants and green tie to go with his suit. A white dress shirt and brown shoes finished the look.
Overall, he was a severe man, his stance solid like a mountain. But what I found most troubling was his eyes. They were dull, blank. This man, whoever he was, had no true purpose. Nothing to gain, nothing to lose, he simply existed because he did. There was no drive, no motivation. Just... nothing...
Something flashes behind the man just as he leaps to the side, and lightning screams at us.
It hits the girl with enough force to send her flying into my body, and I hear the crack and feel the pain of bones breaking. I wrap my arms around her instinctively. We're sent flying, meters away as the girl and I scream out our pain. We land roughly on the ground, tumbling a bit before stopping on my left side.
Wearily, I open my eyes to find the man and that witch across from us. The woman had more than one ball of light charged around her, and I could see lightning cackling in her hands. Damn, she was playing dead then? Thankfully, she looked as beat up as I felt. Deep gashes carved her torso, while smaller cuts littered her body. She was having to take several deep breathes as well. She's thanking the man now, a Souchiro or something.
I tried to get up, to move, but all my body managed to do is a weak twitch. We needed to get out of here! It was obvious what would happen to me, and the witch seemed determined to turn the girl into some sort of slave. But the more I tried, the more apparent it was. It was useless, my body had given up. And as my vision blurred, I knew I wasn't going to stay conscious long either.
But movement from my arms told me the girl was somehow still able to fight. Panting and cringing in pain, the girl struggles out of my arms into a kneeling position between me and our would-be killers.
"Th-... The Mi... Mist" She struggled to say, her voice making the pain she was in all too apparent. I hear the witch scream, and the last thing I see is the encroaching fog.