King of Beasts Productions Presents:
Clarent Blood Arthur: Clarent Blood Arthur: A Fate/Stay Night Fanfiction
Chapter 20: Road Rage
After the visiting Kiritsugu's grave...
"Feeling better now, Illya-chan?"
Illya's response was a small somber nod as she and Taiga were sitting in the dining room, where they were having tea Shirou brewed for them.
"Y-Yeah..." The girl nodded weakly. She was feeling much better than she was earlier after she cried her heart out at her Father's grave. If anything, she felt as if a burden was lifted off her shoulders. "I...I think I'm okay."
Taiga nodded understandingly. "That's good to know, Illya-chan." The woman sighed as she sat beside the tiny girl. "You know, I still find it shocking that Kiritsugu-san has a daughter. This is a lot to take in."
Illya said nothing, deep in her thoughts as she stared at the tea in her cup.
"Well, if it helps," Taiga offered with a smile. "It explains something I've been wondering about him for a while."
"What do you mean?" The silver-haired homunculus snapped out of her reverie, causing the older woman to smile as she recalled a memory from long ago.
"Every now and then, Kiritsugu-san would go off on a trip abroad without telling any of us where." She began. "He would disappear for months at a time, and we wouldn't know where he'd been." She then reached into her pocket and pulled out a couple of old, worn out plane tickets. "For the longest time, I kept wondering where he went. However, knowing what I know now, I think that he spent that time looking for you."
"R-Really?" Illya asked, her eyes widening as she was processing what was just revealed to her. Her grandfather had told her that Kiritsugu had abandoned her after he let her mother die during the past Grail War. Told her that he left her to his cruelty so that he could raise some unrelated boy in a backwater country like Japan. She fostered that hatred for years, ready to unleash it on the young boy who stole him from her.
Yet...Yet what she had been told came in odds with the kind, if not tired looking, man who raised her and loved her dearly. To think he had been trying to come back to her all this time...She had no words for it.
"I'm certain, Illya-chan." Taiga nodded as she crawled behind her and wrapped her arms around the young girl tenderly.
"You're just saying that..."
"Maybe I am." Taiga chuckled as she caressed Illya's long, silky hair. "But that doesn't change the fact that I could be right. That, maybe, your father loved you enough to try and find you."
"Mmm..." Illya wanted to contest that, but the brunette's hand had a soothing effect. They stayed like this for a while, the tiny homunculus enjoying being pampered like this. In a way, she reminded her of her own mother. Unfortunately, this came to an end when Taiga looked at the wall clock to see that it was almost evening.
"Ah, it's that time already?" Taiga sighed as she let go of Illya and pulled back. At that same time, Shirou, Rin, Saber, and Berserker entered the room.
"You're not staying for dinner, Fuji-nee?"
"As much as I'd love to, I have to help Gramps with something tonight." Taiga explained as she stood up. "So, you guys better eat enough for me, alright?!"
"Of course we will." Shirou sighed as he and the others waved at the teacher as she made her exit. He then turned to Illya. "You alright?"
"I-I'm fine." She shook her head. She then turned to Rin, her game face on. "What's our agenda for this evening?"
"After a quick dinner, we're all going out to patrol the city." The Master of Archer explained just as her Servant manifested behind her.
"This time, we'll be scouting the industrial sector of the city, Shinto." Archer explained. "We've already scoured most of Miyama, but let's not discount the possibility that a Servant may manifest over there as well."
"You're not wrong. It is a big city after all." Rin nodded in agreement. "It'll be better if we split into teams to cover more ground."
"In that case, I'm going with Onii-chan!" Illya snapped her arms around Shirou's arm with frightening speed.
"It'll be fine, Tohsaka." Shirou cut her off with a sigh. "I'm sure Illya won't try anything. If she wanted you dead, she could have done that much earlier."
"Quite insightful, Shirou." Saber nodded in approval.
"He''s not wrong, though." Berserker concurred. "'Sides, they would think twice about ambushing two Masters and their Servants if they were smart."
"They all raise good points." Archer remarked with a smirk that only grew more smug as he watched his Master try and find any counterpoint. "So, what do you think?"
"Ugh, fine..." Rin groaned as she sagged her shoulders in defeat. "But you four better contact me when something comes up on your end, is that clear?"
"Crystal." Illya nodded.
"In that case," Shirou sighed as he walked to the kitchen. "I'll make us a quick meal, then let's head out!"
Shinto District, Now.
With Saber leading the way and Berserker bringing up the rear, Shirou and Illya walked through Fuyuki's industrial district. All four of them were keeping an eye out for any Servant activity while Rin and Archer patrolled the residential area. That being said, Shirou noted that Illya was being nonchalant about the situation.
"You're awfully calm." The red-head mused as the young girl was humming a merry tune as they walked, her hands folded behind her.
"We have two Servants with us." Illya explained. "No one would be THAT stupid to try and attack us while we're together!"
"That's certainly true." Saber piped up, conversing while she kept her eyes focused on what's in front, scanning the area as they walked. "But what of that creature you spoke of? If your words ring true, then this being is far too powerful for even Berserker and myself to confront."
"I hate to admit it, but Father's right." Berserker added. "You were there too, Illya. You know as well as I do that that thing is a monster that'll take more than just the two of us to defeat."
"I know." Illya sighed deeply. "I know that things are dangerous right now."
"Then you're just trying to act tough, then?" Shirou asked with a smile, prompting another sigh from the tiny homunculus.
"No use trying to hide it, huh?" Illya smiled back at him. "Considering that Matou Zouken is involved, who knows how the Grail War will play out now? If the situation escalates even further, we may have to stop the the whole thing entirely."
"That's the least of our worries." Saber interjected. "If that creature is allowed to continue as it pleases, then many innocent lives will be lost."
"I agree with Saber." Shirou nodded earnestly, causing Illya to giggle.
"Such sincerity. You truly are one of a kind, Oniichan."
"One of a kind pain in the ass." Berserker muttered under her breath. She watched him as he walked with her father, her gaze fixed on the young man. After what he told her last night, it irked her that he chose to live under a creed that would eventually break him. In him, he saw a reflection of the king who was walking beside him; someone who would adhere to his beliefs to the point that others couldn't follow. A life lived for others that sacrifices his sense of self, one of cold logic and reason. Again, much like her Father, she saw first-hand the ruin it led her to. What irked her even more was that, despite all that, she couldn't bring herself to completely hate him.
Then there was of Saber's wish; Her wanting to undo her reign by having someone else pull the sword from the stone. She should be happy about that, as it is an admission that her father was not perfect king many claimed to be. That she is justified in causing the inssurection that led to the fall of Camelot. And yet, why was she so unsettled? Why did she not feel the satisfaction she sought?
Berserker did not know. Why Emiya Shirou continues on the cursed path, nor why King Arthur would be so willing to undo her reign. What she did know, however, is that she was happy with neither.
"Damn them both..." She grumbled, as it was all she can really do at the moment.
They walked in silence until they got to the intersection. Other than there being a single car on display in a nearby auto dealership, there was nary a soul.
"Well, this is our last stop." Shirou remarked
"And not a Servant in sight." Illya sighed, stretching her arms.
"It seems we will have to retire for the evening." Saber nodded. "We have done all we can for now."
"Right." Berserker pulled out the phone she had on her. "I'm gonna call Morimoto to pick us up and-!"
All four of them suddenly went rigid, as if a shock suddenly coursed through their bodies.
"You felt that too, yeah?" Berserker turned to the other three, all of them nodding.
"Two Servants." Illya replied as they scanned their surroundings. "But where-?"
Her question was answered before she could finish when a black blur landed in the middle of the road. His body was obscured by a black cloak that covered him, the only thing they could see was his back.
"That's a Servant?" Shirou asked in disbelief as a truck carrying cars, no doubt for shipping, drove into the intersection. They watched the shadowy being jump onto the top of the truck as it drove past them. The second presence they felt made itself known almost immediately; a blue-haired man in spandex brandishing a red spear moving faster than any human possibly could in hot pursuit of the truck.
"That was Lancer!" Shirou exclaimed, followed by a nod from Saber.
"It is easy to guess that he is in pursuit of that suspicious Servant." The Servant of the Sword replied. "Berserker and I will have no issue catching up, but that would leave you two unguarded."
"Yeah, I'm not very comfortable leaving 'em here to wait for the butler." Berseker scoffed.
"Good, because I wasn't planning on sitting this out anyway!" Illya placed her hands on her hips with a frown.
"And neither am I." Shirou agreed with a nod.
"Honestly." Berserker sighed as she looked around. "Well, we better think of something fast, 'cause it's gonna be a pain in the ass to carry you both around-Oh."
"What is it?" Saber turned to where Berserker was gazing intently at. It was the lone car on display at the nearby dealership. Judging by it's design, it was a 2004 Series Dodge Viper with a blood red paintjob. The King of Knights turned to her son and saw the wide grin she had on her face, immediately putting together what she was planning to do. "You can't be serious."
"Oh, you bet I am!" Berserker's eyes twinkled at the sight of the beauty. "It's perfect! With this, we can catch up to them in no time!"
"It is not chivalrous to steal public property!" Saber protested.
"If you have a better idea, I'd love to hear it!" Berserker fired back, prompting the king to pinch her nose before turning to the Masters.
"What do you think?"
"Normally, I'd be against this." Illya sighed. "But considering the circumstances, we don't have much of a choice."
"So we're stealing the car?" Shirou asked with an incredulous tone as Berserker reared her fist and shattered the glass display in a single punch.
"Yup, and it's too late to back out now!" Berserker's grin grew ever wider as she quickly snatched the keys from a nearby, smaller box meant to hide them. "Let's ride!"
"Bastard's slippery, I'll give him that."
Lancer was pusuing his target, running after the truck he had jumped on. Judging from how evasive he was, as well as his tendency to avoid direct combat, the Hound of Chulainn drew the conclusion that the Servant he was chasing was an Assassin Class.
What made this all the more suspicious was that the void was filled so quickly by this mysterious individual, let alone be filled at all. The death of that Assassin who gave his life to fend that beast off told him such.
"Tsk. Add that to the list of things that don't add up." Lancer mulled over as he kept at his chase, keeping up with the truck that his quarry boarded as it entered the freeway. "Wonder what you would do if you were here, Teacher." His ears then perked up as he heard a roaring sound behind him.
"Is that an engine?"
Using perhipheral vision, he glanced behind him to see a blood red Dodge Viper giving them chase. He grinned when he saw that Berserker was at the wheel, Saber at the passenger's seat, and their two Masters at the back.
"Now this just got even more interesting!"
"I still think this is a bad idea." Saber gave Berserker a dissaproving stare, her arms crossed over her seat-belted chest.
"Oh, it'll be fine!" Berserker grinned as she put the pedal to the metal, pushing her foot down on the accelerator to make the car go faster. "We needed a way to catch up without leaving the Masters behind, so this worked out nicely!"
"She's not wrong." Illya sighed, tucked in the backseat with Shirou.
"You know how to drive this thing?!" The red-head asked.
"Hey, I'm still a knight, y'know!" Berserker shot back. "Whether it's a horse or this car, there's nothing I can't ride!"
"That does not give me confidence in the slightest!" Saber retorted. "And can you please wear your seatbelt?!"
"I'll be fine, dammit!" Berserker growled. "Not like we Servants can get hurt from a car crash anyway!"
"But it's still proper driver's etiquette to do so!"
"Do we have time for that right now-WOAH!" The red knight suddenly swerved when a car was thrown at Lancer by the mysterious figure, only for the Servant to tear right through it with his spear, the debris of said car crashing into them if she did not veer to the next lane. "Did you see that?!"
"I did, but more importantly, STAY IN THE LANE!" Saber shouted as the Berserker swerved sharply to the left to avoid the flaming wreckage of the car that True Assassin threw at Lancer.
"AND WHAT?! GET HIT BY THAT THING?!" Berserker shouted back as put the pedal to medal, slamming her foot on the accelerator. "Sorry, but if we wanna catch up with them, we can't afford to brake for anything!"
"And what if we need to make a turn?! We will spin out of control with how fast you're going!" Saber yelled right back. "Just because we are giving chase doesn't mean you get to drive like a hooligan!"
"YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!"
"I was your king, therefore I AM the boss of you!"
"Sure, NOW you wanna act like a damn parent!"
"Don't you back talk me, young lady!"
"...And this why I don't let her drive." Illya murmured as she and Shirou could only watch as their Servants squabbled.
"I-I can see that." The Master of Saber chuckled sheepishly.
Gilgamesh was, for the lack of a better word, bored.
While he bore the responsibility of a kingdom on his shoulders in his later years, he was no schemer. That was Kirei's department, as the 4th Holy Grail War had taught him. As he was only informed by his Master about the latest developments regarding the current War, he left him to his devices while he went about to seek entertainment. The priest knew better than to try and stop him, as he was the king of this world. Even if he was his dear friend, Kirei had no authority over the King of Heroes.
Unfortunately, this left him without a companion as his search to keep him occupied proved fruitless.
"Have I tasted every fruit this era has to offer?" The Golden King sighed in dismay. He had just left a high-end bar in the business district that he had frequented in the past, as the spirits was what kept him coming back. He was, at the very least, thankful for the current Grail War to alleviate his boredom.
"Oh? What is this?" As if on cue, he sensed spiritual activity by the high way. A total of four Servants, in fact. No doubt, there was something going on despite the temporary truce. What made it more intriguing was that a fifth Servant was making haste towards their direction.
"Well, now." The King of Heroes' handsome face lit up with a wide grin. "Perhaps I will have some entertainment after all."
Even with the bickering going on inside the car, the chase continued. As the truck became clearer in their view, they can see that Lancer was in heated battle with the dark-cloaked figure, his spear moving so fast that every swing looked like flashes of red light. His opponent was somehow keeping pace, as he was using a dirk to somehow match each strike with his own, his swift and deft movements showing his own mastery with the weapon.
"We're getting close!" Berserker declared as they got nearer to the truck's rear end.
"Good. Keep that pace." Saber commanded as she unbuckled her seatbelt.
"What are you doing, Saber?" Shirou asked, feeling that his Servant was about to do something drastic. His suspicions only grew when she opened the window.
"I will be aiding Lancer." Saber explained as she started moving out of the window and climbing to the roof of the car. "That unknown Servant may have some clues as to the abnormalities we are experiencing in this War!"
"Heh, I'd call you reckless, but I'm not one to talk." Berserker grinned. "Fine. Just don't die on me, you hear? Ending you is an honor that belongs to me alone!"
"I'll keep that in mind." Saber nodded as she finished her ascent. She stood on the roof, changed into her battle regalia in a flash of light, then leaped from where she stood onto the truck. Lancer turned to the new arrival with a grin on his face.
"So good of you to join us, Saber!" The Man of Light greeted her.
"You will have to fill us in on what's going on." The King of Knights kept a level expression as she manifested her sword, kept invisible by the enchantment cast on it.
"Not much I can tell you just yet-!" He stopped mid-sentence as he and Saber dashed to opposing sides to dodge several daggers thrown at them. "First I got to see what he knows."
"Fair enough." Saber nodded. "It is not sporting to gang up on a single foe, but considering the circumstances, I shall make this exception!"
She shot forward like a bullet, swinging her sword in several swift and graceful motions. She quickly found out that her opponent can hold his own, keeping pace with her as he did with Lancer.
Speaking of the Servant, he joined the fray by thrusting his spear forward just as Saber pushed the man back, forcing him to shift his body mid-air to avoid being stabbed. She could tell just by observing how guarded the man was that he knew he was outnumbered and outmatched. The two other Servants were ready to go for the kill when they felt the presence of yet another Servant nearby.
The bright light that was quickly descending at the truck was a sign that it was coming in hot.
"SHIT!" As the car was a good few feet away from the truck, she veered the car to the side and slammed her foot on the brakes hard, the Masters thankful that they were wearing their seatbelts so that they wouldn't fly off from the sudden lurch.
Back at the truck, the cloaked man used this chance to leap away while they were distracted. Saber was the first to snap out of it first, jerking her head towards Lancer with eyes wide.
He did not need to be told twice. He leaped out of the way as the bright light slammed into the truck head-on. The explosion from the resulting crash was massive, as the cars that were being carried as well as the truck itself added fuel to the flames.
"What was that?!" Lancer asked as he and Saber landed in front of the car as it came to a stop.
"That was another Servant." Berserker affirmed as she and the Masters exited the car. "The question is who'd be dumb enough to take on three of us at once?"
They turned to the wreckage of the truck and got their answer fast. Standing with the cloaked man was Rider, gazing at them from beneath her blindfold with her weapons in hand.
"Here I was, thinking we all had an understanding." Lancer sighed in dismay before he noticed that the cloaked man leaped away towards the rooftops of the buildings. "HEY! Get back here!"
The Hound of Chulainn jumped after him to continue the pursuit. Rider attempted to intercept him, but she herself was blocked by Berserker, who changed into her battle regalia in a flash of light.
"Sorry, bitch! Your fight's with me!" She grinned as held Rider in a deadlock. "Take the Masters and follow Lancer! I'll deal with her personally!"
"Berserker!" Illya was about to object, but the Knight of Treachery only shot her a grin.
"Don't you worry, Master." She spared her Master a glance as she kept Rider at bay. "I'm the strongest Servant in this Grail War, remember? It'll take more than someone like this chick to beat me!"
"...Okay." Illya nodded as she and Shirou went back to the car. "Don't lose, you hear me?!"
"No worries about that." Berserker nodded before turning to Saber. "Father..."
"I understand." The King of Knights nodded as she took the wheel. "I will make sure no harm comes to Illyasviel von Einzbern."
"Same. So come back, for Illya's sake and mine." Shirou added with an earnest nod. Thankfully, having her helmet on meant that he couldn't see her blush.
"Thanks." After saying this aloud, Berserker turned back as Saber started the car. As soon as they drove off, she turned back to Rider with a grin. "Okay, now that they're gone, I can finally cut loose!" She slammed her head onto the Servant of the Steed's with a nasty headbutt, her helmet making it even more effective. This dazed Rider long enough for Berserker to slam her foot into her gut, the impact sending her skidding a few feet away.
"Nggh..." Clutching her still tender gut, the statuesque woman looked up to see Berserker walking towards her in slow and relaxed manner, her sword resting casually on her shoulder.
"Hope you're ready." Berserker's eyes gleamed red under her helmet, her Madness Enhancement kicking in. "'Cause I'm gonna make you wish you didn't pick a fight with me!"
Even if they were in a hurry, Saber exercised a great control over her driving that Berserker lacked. This was especially useful when trying to keep up with Lancer and the mysterious Servant, who were battling quite extensively over the rooftops.
"So you know how to drive too, Saber?!" Shirou asked as he and Illya were safely secured in their seat belts.
"Of course. My Riding Skill makes it easier for me to commandeer a vehicle such as this." The Servant of Sword answered prompty. "This isn't necessarily the time and place for this."
"Gotcha." At that moment, his cellphone started to ring. "Huh?" He took it out of his pocket and flipped it open to reveal an unknown number. Despite his better judgement, he answered. "Hello?"
"Finally got this thing to work!"
"Tohsaka?!" He blinked in shock. "How did you get my number?!"
"Not important right now!" The voice yelled back at him. "Anyway, Archer and I detected large spikes of mana coming from your location. Mind telling us what's going on?!"
Shirou proceeded to explain everything that had happened as briefly and yet to-the-point as possible.
"I see...so Berserker's facing Rider, while Lancer is pursuing that masked man all over the city?"
"That's right." Shirou affirmed.
"Well, considering how closer the unidentified mana source and Lancer are getting towards us, I'd say that they might be heading for Ryuudou Temple." Archer's voice could be heard from the background.
"Then that's where we'll be heading next." Saber nodded as she set course for the residential area. "We should arrive in about ten minutes, maybe sooner."
"In that case, we'll meet you there." Rin affirmed. "Oh, just wait until I get my hands on Shinji for siccing Rider on us..."
"The feeling is mutual, Rin." Illya nodded as she picked up her own phone. "I'll have Morimoto meet us there as well."
"Well, we have our plan." The Toshaka Magus' voice took a solemn tone. "Be careful out there, everyone."
"You too." Shirou nodded. "Let's all meet at Ryuudou Temple."
"Very well. I shall be on my way."
Morimoto had just put down the phone, having heard the orders of his latest employer. He then turned to Leysritt and Sella with his usual stern gaze.
"I will be meeting our mistress and Berserker-sama at Ryuudou Temple. Make sure everything is prepared for our return."
"Of course." The two maids nodded before briskly walking away to perform their duties.
"This feels nostalgic, in a way." He murmured to himself once they were out of earshot. He made sure Lord's Prayer was tucked away in his coat jacket before making his way down to the garage. The butler mused that he had indeed lived a long time. Long enough for three Grails Wars to have happened in his lifetime. Even back then, he was serving a more affluent family's Master, even if he himself was one. "To think, after all this time, I would find myself here again. I wonder what you would think of me if you saw me now, J-"
He stopped mid-sentence when he felt that familiar warmth coming from his Mystic Code once more. In fact, it was even stronger than it was that time.
"This cannot be a coincidence." He whispered to himself, his tone of voice clearly shaken. He hastened his pace until he got to the main hall. Waiting for him down the stairs was a young girl with long blonde hair tied in a braid, dressed in the Homurahara Academy female's uniform with her hands folded in front of her. He could never forget that dignified countenance and womanly grace. Never in a thousand lifetimes.
The woman looked up the stairs at him, giving him a warm smile.
"It has been a long time, my former Master."
"Heh. That was disappointing."
Berserker let out a sigh as she rested her sword on her shoulder. Behind her was Rider, lying on the floor bloodied and bruised from the thrashing she received at the hands of the Knight of Treachery. She barely had to exert as much effort as she did against other opponents. Even her Father, weakened as she was from having that boy as a Master, made her break a sweat, even for a little bit.
"Damn it..." Rider was heard grunting as she struggled to get to her feet, but she couldn't do even that thanks to the deep gash in her chest.
"Now, what to do...?" Berserker sighed as she looked to the moonlit sky. "I can try taking you alive, but your wimp of a Master will call you back the moment I do with a Command Spell." She turned her heel towards the fallen Servant. "Knowing that, there's only one thing I can do."
She walked over, sword at the ready with deadly intent.
"It's nothing personal." Berserker stopped and raised her sword, the blade gleaming in the moonlight as Rider braced herself for the worse.
Which left her wondering why Berserker seemed to stop what she was doing. She quickly learned why: Another Servant had arrived.
"Well, if this isn't a surprising turn of events." Standing atop one of the street lamps was a golden-haired man in a black vest, blood red eyes, and an amused grin. "We finally meet face to face, Faker."
"Who the hell are you calling Faker?" Berserker growled as she glared at the man from beneath her helmet.
"You, of course." The man sneered. "Who else would I be referring to, Knight of Treachery?"
This took Berserker by surprise, as someone had guessed her identity so quickly, even with Secret of Pedigree active. "H-How?!"
"That helmet is a Noble Phantasm that hides your identity, no?" The golden man smirked. "It would have worked on a lesser man, but I am no such man."
"If you think you're so high and mighty, why don't you tell me who you are, then?!" Berserker growled, tightening her grip on her sword.
"If you cannot tell who I am by looking upon my countenance, then you are not just a fake, but a brute as well." The man scoffed as several golden ripples manifested behind him, each one producing a differing weapon. "To think that you were the criminal that ended Saber's reign."
"Yeah? And what of it?!" Berserker grinned in defiance.
"Traitors such as you deserve only death. As king, I will carry out your sentence personally!" With that declaration, he launched several weapons at Berserker, who rolled out of the way in time. She turned to see where Rider was, but found that there was nary a trace of her left.
"Of course she got away." She groaned, but was quickly cut off when she had to get out of the way before getting struck by another volley. "Dammit!"
"Dance, knave! Dance!" The man laughed as more golden ripples materialized in the air. "Perhaps I shall find amusement from watching you dance like a fool!"
"Seems you found plenty of amusement already!" Berserker growled as she grit her teeth, red lightning crackling to life as mana began to build up. She dashed around the battlefield at speeds that should not be possible for mere mortals. Yet, she found that he was able to keep pace with her. Weapons were shot at her at rapid-fire pace, making her have to work to avoid getting skewered.
"No Servant should have THAT many Noble Phantasms!" She scowled, jumping into the air to land at a lamp post, the swinging her sword twice to deflect a pair of hand axes sent her way.
"Impressive." The golden Archer smirked in amusement. "You are proving to be very entertaining so far, Faker. Perhaps I can employ as a court jester while your father and I watch you dance for our pleasure!"
"Court jester, am I?!" Berserker's mouth turned into a nasty grin as she felt her blood boil at his remark. "Then this next one will kill you!"
Red lighting crackled around her like an aura as she zipped around the street while her foe continued to shoot all manner of weaponry at her. The golden man responded to this by surrounding her in golden ripples, each one manifesting a weapon with lethal intent.
"It seems that this farce ends here." The man leered with a smug grin. "A shame. I was beginning to enjoy this distraction."
"If you're so confident," Berserker grinned back at her, her body tense like a coil about to be sprung. "Then take your shot!"
He answered her challenge gladly, setting off an omnidirectional carpet bomb with but a wave of his arm. The speed at which the weapons descended at her was too fast for any mortal man to evade.
Thankfully, Servants were not mortal men.
Trusting in her instincts, Berserker took a literal leap of faith, supercharging her legs with mana before taking a huge jump as the weapons descended on her. Her gamble was quickly rewarded as she somehow got out of the predicament she was in. As her opponent had been watching her intently without making a single move, she knew that it was now or never.
"You're done!" She said as she descended on his position, her blade crackling with red lightning and poised to strike. She roared as she raised her sword with the intent on taking his head.
What followed was a loud explosion upon collision. When the dust settled, Berserker grunted in annoyance while her foe had a smug smirk on his face. Catching her blade inches from his head were several weapons emerging from portals that she could tell where all high quality Noble Phantasms.
"A valiant effort, but for naught!" He chuckled while pushing Berserker back as she landed on her feet before skidding to a halt. He surprised her even further by turning on his heel to leave.
"Where the hell do you think you're going?!" Berserker shouted incredulously. "This isn't over, you golden bastard!"
"On the contrary, it is." The man continued to walk without even glancing behind him. "I have more important matters to attend. As you do, I am sure."
"Wait!" Of course it was a futile effort, as the man vanished into golden dust before she could stop them. "Damn it..." She clenched her fists in anger, as she failed to end Rider before she could get away, nor could she defeat this golden ass. Unfortunately, she couldn't dwell on it as police sirens were blaring, growing louder as they closed in on the crash site.
"This is becoming very annoying." She growled as she went into spirit form, leaving no trace of her presence on the scene.
"Took you long enough!"
"Hey, we came as fast as we could!" Illya shot back at Rin, who was waiting for them at the bottom of the mountain path with Archer while her arms were crossed.
"I believe we have little time for pleasantries." Saber jumped in before they can get into another squabble.
"Agreed. Time is of the essence." Archer nodded. He took off into a sprint. "I'll scout ahead. Keep the Masters safe, Saber."
"Of course." They all nodded between themselves before chasing after Archer. They ran up the temple steps with heightened sense of urgency, as subduing this masked man will give them the first clue as to why the Holy Grail War had become so abnormal. Any clue they can get, even a small hint, could help them make sense of the irregularities they were experiencing, as well as answer the many questions they had.
"They're at the back, by the lake!" Archer called from the front, as he had arrived at the temple first, stopping to wait for the rest of them to catch up.
"Good." Rin nodded as she and the rest caught up."Alright, let's head out back and-!"
Suddenly, the air grew cold around him. A heavy sensation in the air suddenly descended upon the five, all of them feeling as if their hearts were sinking into a freefall down a cold, cold abyss.
Illya recognized this sensation. She felt this one other time before, on this same temple, the night Caster died.
"That Shadow." She whispered in a barely audible tone, her signature playfulness absent. "It's here."
"Are you sure?" Rin, still shaken from experiencing the dread herself, turned to the homunculus, who nodded in response.
"No question about it." Illya put a hand on her chest to still her beating heart. "It's the same feeling I had before it showed up."
"Then we better get a move on." Shirou narrowed his eyes as he looked ahead.
"Agreed." Saber nodded just as Berserker manifested in their midst.
"What did I miss?" The Servant of Madness asked before feeling that familiar chill down her spine. "Shit. It's here, isn't it?"
"Yes, but we can catch up later." Archer said as he led the group, the five of them following after him. As they dove deeper into the temple grounds, they felt two massive spikes of mana in the air, a sign that Noble Phantasms were about to be unleashed.
"Ah, things just got worse!" Rin scowled.
"We're almost there. We should be able to see them and-!" Archer's sentence was cut off when, upon entering the clearing, they were greeted by an explosion that triggered a gush of water and red lightining that crackled and streaked through the battlefield.
"Get behind me, Shirou!"
Berserker and Saber went in front of their respective Masters to shield them from the blast, with Archer doing the same. The Servants drew their weapons and braced themselves for impact. Sure enough, they swatted several bolts of lightning aside to defend their Masters.
As quickly as that explosion began, it ended. They stared in silence as the dust cleared, waiting to see who would emerge. They finally got a visual of Lancer standing upright before his foe, whose abnormally long right arm branched out from beneath the hood.
Even as Saber spoke, they all knew that something was wrong, especially when they noticed that his blood red spear was impaled on the ground a good few feet away from him. Upon getting a better look, they saw that he stood there with a glazed look in his eye, as if the light in his eyes were extinguished. The other, more gruesome sight they were treated to was the gaping hole where his heart used to be.
They did not even have time to be horrified as several black tendrils lashed out from beneath the depth and wrapped themselves around Lancer before they dragged him into the depths, sealing the doomed Servant's fate. Just like that, it was over so quickly.
"My objective has been accomplished." The black cloaked man spoke as he vanished as quickly as he came. At that same time, the heaviness in the air lifted, a sign that the Shadow had disappeared as well.
"Get back here!" Berserker was about to give chase, only for Illya to put an arm in front of her and shake her head.
"He's gone." The girl spoke in a quiet tone as she stared at the spot where the Servant of the Spear stood mere seconds ago. "And so is Lancer. What's worse, I didn't feel him enter."
"Much like Caster and Assassin." Archer finished for her. "That thing really is a Lesser Grail."
"It really does, doesn't it?" They all turn to see Ruler enter the midst already clad in her battle regalia. What surprised Illya and Berserker was that Morimoto was following closely behind her.
"Morimoto?" Illya asked, obviously confused by what was going on.
"I ran into Ruler-sama as I was about to pick you and Berserker up, ojou-sama." The butler promptly explained.
"Indeed he did." Ruler nodded before turning on her heel. "I'm sure that you all need to regroup after this turn of events. Shall withdraw to Einzbern Castle, Morimoto?"
"Of course." He bowed politely, causing Ruler to smile as she lead the way. Shirou saw the confused look Illya and Berserker had on their faces, though the red-clad knight was the first to recover.
"Why are those two so chummy?" She sighed before walking after the pair. "C'mon, Illya. After tonight, I'm sure we both can use the rest."
"Y-Yeah." Illya snapped out of it before turning to Shirou and company with her own sigh. "Since Ruler invited herself in, with Morimoto letting her, I suppose it's not going to matter if I have a few more guests."
"Sure thing." Shirou smiled as they all started making their way out of the temple. What happened tonight was a major turn of events in this Grail War, one that created more questions than answers. As such, they will need every moment of respite they can get, for the battles ahead will only get rougher from here.
"Where am I?"
Cu Chulainn, Servant Lancer, found himself floating in a never ending abyss. There was darkness in every corner, no source of illumination that can grant the Hound of Chulainn much needed sight. He racked his head to get answer on how he got here, then he remembered his last battle against the cloaked man, and how it ended.
"Ah, I remember now." He sighed. "That really was a worse turn of events."
At that moment, he saw a glimmer of light at the corner of his eye. He turned around to see a black circle with a bright outline around it, giving off a bright glow that made it visible to him. The sensation he felt upon seeing it was alien, yet familiar. As if he knew what it exactly was by pure instinct.
"Is that...the Grail?"
He was about to make his way towards it when he felt a gloved hand on his shoulder stop him.
"Sorry, but that isn't for you."
"Who the hell do you think you-?!"
"Who do you think?"
Lancer was about to turn to give the speaker a piece of his mind, but completely halted at upon seeing what he looked like. Standing before him was a man wearing a trenchcoat over a jet black suit that fit his frame snugly. Upon his head was a fedora with a red stripe on the base, and he had a blood red cane in his hand.
What shook Lancer to his core was seeing the man's face; with the only minor difference being the blood red face paint on his cheeks and around his eyes, it was a perfect reflection of his own.
"It's a shame that you didn't get to cut loose. But don't worry." The doppleganger's lips curled into a wide grin, his red eyes shimmering with untold bloodlust.
"I'll run wild in your place."
End Chapter 20
A/N: Kept you waiting, huh?
At this point, I'm not going to make any excuses any more. Just assume that I'm distracted/uninspired/busy. xD
In all seriousness, though, it's been amazing that I was able to make it to twenty chapters at all. I still remember when I was amazed that I got to ten! That being said, I want to thank you all for sticking with this story for this long! This year has had it's ups and downs, for sure, but I'm glad that I'm able to finish this chapter just as the year ends!
A lot happens in this one, for sure. We still get to see Lancer and Assassin go at, but we also get a wild car chase involving our heroes, as well as some backseat driving from the concerned parent.
Also, I noticed a lot of reviews speculating that Saber was going to get Altered like in canon. As it stands, that's not going to be the case. Just going to say that Lancer's not the ONLY one this story's getting. There will be one more Servant that will get Altered. As for who...just wait and see. :D
That's all I got to say for this one. Thanks for reading! If you liked this chapter and/or have something to say about it, please leave a review after you've finished reading. I'd love to hear all your feedback!
Until next time, this is the King of Beasts once again signing off! Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and will have a Happy New Year!
Next Time on Clarent Blood Arthur: A Link to the Past