Disclaimer: I own neither Blazblue nor Fate/Zero or any other copyrighted material that might be mentioned in this story. They belong to whoever owns the right to them.
AN: As far as canonicity goes, this story only takes into account the events of Calamity Trigger and Continuum Shift. There might be references to side-materials, but not all of those have been translated so they might not be considered canon for this fanfic.
Anyone wanting to post this story elsewhere should ask me first. I am already posting this story on another site under the user name Siriel, so there's no need to send me comments about how I'm stealing my own fic from myself.
Deep in a forest on the edge of Fuyuki City, protected by ancient bounded fields stands the castle of the Einzberns, home to their ambition that has endured for a thousand years. Though it had been constructed long ago, this was not their true home, but rather a base for their participation in the Holy Grail War. From the beginning it had never been a place where outsiders were welcomed, but the current resident was a man that had been accepted into the family.
He was a man of unremarkable appearance, with hair and eyes as black as his clothes. His appearance conveyed a sense of isolation that discouraged anyone from engaging in a conversation on a whim.
Of course, for a man who had originally joined the Einzberns in the name of an ideal that he could not accomplish himself, that was the intention. Though he had found love in his time with the ancient family, Kiritsugu had no time to spend of social tasks when his goal was finally in sight.
Perhaps it was an exaggeration to call him a "resident", as he had only arrived a few hours ago. He had initially planned on arriving later, but he had recently acquired an object that made it advantageous for him to take the next step in Japan.
On this night, he would summon a legendary hero for the purpose of fighting in the Holy Grail War. If he could achieve victory and defeat the six other Masters, he would be granted the right to have his wish realized.
From what the old man had said, the summoning had to be done tonight; to delay any further would be to risk an inferior Servant. To begin with, he wouldn't have minded receiving an Assassin or a Caster, as the classes that were generally undesirable were the most suited to his plans. However, to do so would be to waste the precious gifts that the Einzberns had found for him. Throwing aside such an advantage was something that Kiritsugu Emiya could never bring himself to do.
Resolutely, he extended his hand toward the summoning circle that had carefully been painted, toward the ancient, broken relic that had been deposed upon the central altar.
The unassuming piece of metal was a fragment of the legendary Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, one of the three sacred treasures of Japan. Though it was widely believed to be held at Astuka Shrine, the Einzberns had discovered that the original had been lost long ago, and had managed to secure a piece of it through means unknown to Kiritsugu.
"I hereby swear; I will be all that is good in the eternal world."
The chant of the summoning was unnecessary, all that was truly required was a sufficient circle and the will to summon a Servant; the desire for a powerful weapon. However, the vow served as an additional bind – a Servant that was completely incompatible with the vow could not be summoned from it.
That was why Kiritsugu turned his goal into words and made his vow. He could not use a Servant that would reject his ideals fully, and he could not achieve his ideals without a Servant. Better to receive an inferior Servant than one so rotten that they would reject the world's salvation.
"I will be the disposer of evil in the eternal world."
His sight darkened, and pain beyond measure began to fill his body as the magic crest carved upon his back began to reinforce the summoning. Losing all sense of self, nothing remained but a body of flesh that maintained itself on it's feet.
When he became himself again, he could do nothing but keep his eyes closed as a blue light filled the chamber, it's origin was the summoning circle itself as it accomplished the miracle he had sought after.
The sound of a flutter of cloth confirmed his success and for the first time that night he allowed himself to feel some satisfaction.
"I ask of you; are you my master?"
The sound of her voice was the first sign that something had gone wrong, and Kiritsugu was finally allowed to open his eyes to see the hero that had answered his summons.
The small frame of a young girl with blond hair, most of her body was hidden by a blue coat with green lines at the border that was complimented by a beret…judging by the shape of her legs, she lacked the musculature to be a Saber or a Lancer and Kiritsugu could not imagine such a colorful assassin. Had he summoned a Caster in the end?
His thoughts took but an instant. It changed little that he had failed in summoning Yamato Takeru; this was his Servant. He would claim the Holy Grail with it. An unknown Servant merely meant that he would have to correct his strategy.
"Yes. I am Emiya Kiritsugu."
Saying so, he lifted his hand to reveal the seals that adorned it.
"I see." The girl politely inclined her head at his words, smiling. "Nice to meet you. I am Servant Archer, my name is Noel Vermillion."
An unknown, strange name. Certainly not Japanese. But then, neither was the girl standing before him. How odd. If the relic had failed – most likely due to being a forgery - then he should have received a Servant that matched his personality. Somehow he doubted that was the case here. Still, there was a more pressing issue.
Calmly, he extended his left hand toward her.
"Servant Archer, Noel Vermillion. From this point forward I shall be the pillar that maintains your existence, until the time that this war is ended by my wish granted by the Holy Grail."
Hesitantly, she extended her arm, grasping his hand in a grip that would be surprising had she been a normal girl.
"I promise…" Her words were slow and careful, most likely coming up with the words as she went. "I will be Emiya Kiritsugu's sword until I am the last Servant and my wish is granted by the Holy Grail."
He nodded formally before releasing her hand and letting her take a step back. It appeared his Servant lacked confidence, at least in formal occasions. But he had neither the desire nor the time to forge any bond more personal than that of associate; the final Servants could be summoned at any time and it was vital that he determined the full scope of his resources before the war began in earnest.
He turned slightly to present his side to her, clearing the way to the door. "Come with me, I will need to know your full capabilities. The information provided by the Grail is not sufficient."
Her shoulders lowered slightly and her smile faltered. It appeared that she would have preferred for them to take the time to get to know each others.
He pitied her if that was the case. He had no time for small talk and he would not allow himself to become familiar with someone who would fade away in a few nights' time.
To her credit, her voice did not shake when she replied.
"All the equipment has arrived."
Those were the words that greeted Kiritsugu as he entered room 73. His accomplice in this war, Hisau Maya, wasted even less time on social matters than he did.
No longer the young girl that he had taught years ago, she had grown into a handsome, fair-skinned woman whose air of cold professionalism cut short any attempt at charming her.
With a nod of acknowledgement, he approached the weapons that had been laid out for him, the modern tools that a proper Magus would have rejected, which were the keys to his victory.
"There has been no movement, then?"
The news was not surprising in itself. The summoning of the seventh and final Servant had only occurred yesterday, it was likely that the participating Magi were still assessing the competition.
"None." Maya waited a short moment before continuing. "I have confirmed that Tohsaka Tokiomi is still at his mansion. El-Melloi appears to have made an hotel his workshop for the duration of the War, but the familiars were unable to approach it. The Mato master seems to have hidden himself away."
There a new pause, this one betraying slight hesitation. "I've been unable to locate Kotomine Kirei for the past forty-eight hours."
Kiritsugu paused from his inspection. For him, that was the worst scenario. Of all the Masters that had been confirmed thus far Kotomine Kirei, a former Executor of the Church who now acted as a Master in the Holy Grail War, was the only one whose motives he could not comprehend. For the man that was known as a "Magus Killer", the worst opponent was definitely that man who could not be classified as a Magus.
In addition, it seemed that the proper Magi that were participating had opted against an early attempt at removing their opposition. This made his favored strategy of bypassing the Servants to strike at the humans hiding behind them more difficult than it could be.
A faint blue light washed over the room as his Servant returned to a physical form. For the past few days, Archer had been following him as a spirit as he scouted the city once more.
Of course, he had already memorized the layout years ago, but it appeared that populated areas changed far too quickly in the modern area for his previous endeavors to have been reliable.
"The first exchanges of the War will take place tonight. Since our opponents have declined to take the first move, it'll fall to you to put on a show and drag them from their hiding places."
"Alright." There was an eagerness behind her words that contrasted the hesitation that was present whenever he asked her questions. If nothing else, it appeared that his Servant had been used to following orders in her life. "I'll be going then."
"Aw, so cute. Don't worry…"
Slowly attempting to approach a kitten that she had found in the streets, Archer said those words in a high-pitched, childish voice.
It was quite fortunate that her Master wasn't present. Otherwise, his opinion of his Servant, who had interrupted her task of scouting after only a few hours play with the first animal she had seen, would have diminished severely.
Just as she had almost reached her target, an emotionless voice spoke out in her ear.
"Aaah!" Blue eyes widened in surprise and precariously balanced as she had been, her sudden jump almost caused her to crash. Falling on one knee to steady herself, she frightened the little kitten which ran off as fast as it could.
"Oh no, it got away." The sadness in her voice truly did not belong after such a carefree display.
It was only five seconds later that she realized what had interrupted her.
"Ah! Y-yes, Master Emiya?"
Of course, Kiritsugu was not close to her. Before the night had even began, they had split up to cover more ground. The means of communication that they were using now was one of a set of radios that he had had Maya obtain beforehand.
In truth, Kiritsugu would have preferred to keep his Servant under constant surveillance. However, because Noel Vermillion had been summoned under the class of "Archer", that tactic had been discarded. That was because of the ability of "Independent Action" that she possessed, which allowed her to act without requiring the support of her Master.
Paired with a Servant who could survive for days after his death even without having previously arranged a pact with another Master, Kiritsugu had opted for a different tactic. By traveling away from Archer, he limited the chance of being recognized as a Master by a Servant such as Assassin and by communicating with Archer with a radio, he limited her ability to travel in spirit form and made it easier to check on her condition. The fact that they could cover more ground in this manner was simply an additional bonus.
Archer had simply rejoiced at the additional freedom this granted her and given this decision no second thoughts. It could be said that having summoned a Servant who had never entertained the thought of betrayal made Emiya Kiritsugu's careful plans needlessly complicated.
"It appears that the first engagement of the war has already begun. Someone has established a barrier near the factories. Make sure to remain far enough to prevent those who are fighting from detecting you."
Unfortunately, it seemed that there was no more time to have fun. Returning the radio to a pocket inside her coat, Archer began to run toward the direction indicated by her link with her Master.
Not far away, the first battle of the Fourth Holy Grail War had just begun.