The various fictional worlds, characters and elements that are written about in this fanfiction belong to their various creators, who I'm too lazy to list. This is purely a fan work and not intended to generate any sort of profit. I know that if it does a fair number of bloodthirsty lawyers are likely to make my life miserable. As always constructive criticism is welcome and flames will be ignored.

Well here's my new fic, I'm honestly not sure if it will be a single chapter thing or if I may pursue it further in the future, but for now God Slaying Blade Works remains my primary work. This is just something to do on the side when I find myself suffering from a little writer's block.

Now, let me be quite clear that Alex is NOT a self insertion, though I freely admit that a fair number of my own characteristics may rub off on him. I might wish I was more than six feet tall and packing on the muscle, but the truth is I'm a rather average five foot nine and only go to the gym often enough to be only slightly overweight rather than fat.

Alex is an original character that I originally made for another fanfiction I wrote nearly ten years ago. Back then since I lacked regular access to a computer, and used what access I had to read as much fanfiction as I could, I wrote all my stories down on paper. I never really finished any of them and looking back now most of them were almost painfully bad, but I ended up writing more that thirty of them. Some more than two hundred pages long others no more than half a page. I'm actually drawing on a number of those old fics for some of the elements that I'll be using in this story.

Alex was originally from a Slayers/Sailor Moon crossover that ran for about eighty pages. Looking back on it it was almost painfully clichéd in some places and the dialog as wooden as an old mannequin. However the main character was one I liked and it was while reading my old stuff a couple of weeks back that I remembered how much I liked writing him. The character himself had a certain over the topness that struck me as being similar to Rider from Fate Zero, though I freely admit he was nowhere near as awesome.

It was a couple of days later, after rereading Ten-Faced Paladin's Familiar of ZerOOO that I got the idea of writing my own original character into one of my favourite series. Alex has been updated to match my new favoured anime and series.

People will probably notice that I'm drawing more on the Light Novels than the anime. This is because I prefer the novels, in the anime it was as though Saito was a largely spineless weenie with a lecherous steak a mile wide. His novel counterpart might have been lecherous and rather stupid on occasion, but not on the overly exaggerated level of his anime version.

I freely admit that this fic is influenced by the works of a number of other people such as Gabriel Blessing and Ten-Faced Paladin. If either of them read this work I hope they enjoy it and aren't offended that I used their own works as inspiration.

Some people will have noticed that I've altered the height of some of the characters from Familiar of Zero. This is because when I was checking what the 'official' stats were for some of the characters I noticed a few discrepancies. For one thing according to those stats Louise should actually be a couple of centimetres taller than Siesta, yet in the anime and the novel illustrations show that the maid is a bit taller than the mage. Since I'm going with the impressions that the anime and manga have made on me I won't be using the official stats that I disagree with.

Here's the result and I hope you all enjoy it. This is just the first chapter, and the next is about 70% written and so it should be coming out fairly soon.

Oh, one last thing. I imagine that quite a few people might state that I'm cooking up a Gary Stu character here. In response I'd like to say that I do have a plan and that Alex will find himself facing more than just the canon enemies.

Why Me? Chapter 1: Arrival

Today was a good day. He was sweaty, overburdened, largely broke and in all truth not entirely sure if some of his impulse purchases had been the brightest idea, but right now he was pretty damned pleased with himself.

His name was Alexander Rivers, though he preferred to be called Alex by those close to him. He was a British university student that had just finished his first year and was enjoying the summer holidays by attending an anime and sci-fi convention in London. That was what led to his current predicament, he was sweaty because of his cosplay costume, overburdened because he was carrying three large bags that were all stuffed and was largely broke because of all the things he'd bought, some of which he still wasn't too sure about.

Alex had been planning this day for months now; it had been the big event of his summer holidays. Absentee parents who confused money with affection had ensured that he hadn't been lacking in funds, and he'd supplemented that with the money he'd earned from a couple of part time evening jobs. Some of that had gone into the handmade costume he was wearing, but most had been kept in reserve to go on a spending spree, hence the three bags.

Of course one of those bags wasn't of his stuff. When some of his friends had found out about his plans they'd placed some orders with some of the stalls at the con and had asked him to pick them up for them. At the time he hadn't minded, it was an easy enough favour to do, and he had a policy of treating others as he would like them to treat him in return. Granted it was a bit inconvenient lugging another bag around, but he was a big guy and in damned good shape, so hadn't been much of a problem.

Alex had always been large for his age, the sort of build that was tall, broad and stocky, and he'd learnt early on that that kind of physique lent itself either to fat or to muscle, not anywhere in between as far as he was concerned. Fortunately his home had only been a few minutes walk from the local sports centre, not a particularly extravagant place, but they'd had all the right equipment and the staff had been attentive and helpful. Regular workouts had ensured that he'd stayed in good shape, and right now it was paying off.

As he stepped out of the con and onto the street he set his bags down and tugged at the furred lining of his costume. The thing was that while the rest of his costume was both cool and comfortable the mantle was fairly heavy and hot, especially now that he was out in the sun. Honestly, when people thought of English weather they probably thought of wind and rain, they forgot that come summer the British Isles could enjoy some pretty scorching days.

The problem with him doing cosplay was that he lacked the right build to pull off his favoured characters. Standing at six feet and four inches tall and built to look like he could wrestle gorillas meant he was a poor choice to play the part of Lelouch Lamperouge or Cloud Strife. As a result with his red hair and large frame there weren't that many characters that he liked that he could play. Sure it wasn't impossible to find a decent subject to dress as, last year he'd come as the Nemesis from Resident Evil, in fact he'd bought some additional touches for that costume today.

However it had only been with the release of Fate Zero that he'd found the subject for his best effort to date.

Rider was seemingly tailor-made for Alex to cosplay as, and on top of that he was simply an awesome character, one that he enjoyed watching immensely.

So for the last few months Alex had patiently used a combination of sewing and leather work to make the best cosplay of the King of Conquerors that he could. He'd even grown a real beard for the first time in his life and cut it to match the fictional characters and marking a few fake scars onto his skin where needed.

Of course he hadn't been a perfect match, he'd lacked Rider's flattened beak of a nose, his eyes were grey rather than red and he was more than two thirds of a foot short of matching the correct 'official' height. Still all in all he was very pleased with the results of his work. It had been a real pleasure to run into another fellow who was wearing one of those purchased online pre-made cosplays of Rider. The sheer difference in the quality of their costumes had been blatantly obvious.

He hadn't managed to get first place in the cosplay competition, that honour had gone to a young lady that had dressed as Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII-2, but he supposed second place wasn't that bad.

Well, no more time for reminiscing, he was loaded down with models, costumes, costume props, manga books, anime box sets and various other odds and ends. Right now he'd best be heading back to Charing Cross train station if he wanted to catch his train home. Once he was on board he could enjoy looking through his purchases at a more leisurely pace.

Nodding to himself the large teen picked up his bags, turned . . . and stopped as he found himself facing a large floating green ovoid.

Okay, this was unexpected. The thing looked vaguely familiar, but Alex couldn't quite place it in his mind. Was it some sort of recreation? Earlier he'd seen some guy cart in a full sized cardboard and plaster recreation of the Gate of Truth from Fullmetal Alchemist, could this be something similar?

Stepping closer he saw that it was actually hovering off the ground, and as far as he could see there weren't any strings or anything of the like keeping it suspended. Was it some sort of holographic trick? That was the only explanation he could think of. But if that was the case then why was it that nobody else seemed to be paying it any attention? Something as cool and realistic as this should have gathered its own admiring crowd by now, yet instead people were simply walking by it without paying it any attention.

Stepping closer he tried to peer through it, but found to his surprise that it wasn't see through as he had expected, instead its translucence was murky to the point where nothing save vague hints came through it. Very tentatively he reached out to touch it.

"Oh, 'xcuse me."

The casual words were the only warning Alex got before someone bumped into him from behind. It wasn't a very hard bump; under normal circumstances it wouldn't even have moved him. The problem was that he was unbalanced since he was leaning over, and was further unbalanced by carrying three heavy bags full of stuff. All these factors contributed to a single result.

Alex Rivers stumbled forwards one step.

Right into the glowing green ovoid.

He had just enough time to utter an exclamation of irritation before he felt as though something inside the thing had grabbed onto the foot and shoulder that had entered the ovoid. At that point the irritation in his voice turned into a yelp of fear that was cut off as he was pulled into the green light.

Then there was an explosion.


"Who are you?" the girl's voice broke through Alex's dazed confusion and brought him back to the world of the fully conscious.

He blinked as his eyes focused on the figure before him. As his senses cleared the vague blur resolved itself into a small girl, one with reddish-brown eyes, fair skin and . . . Huh? Was her hair blonde with actual pink highlights or was it pink with blonde highlights? Hang on, never mind that, why was it pink in the first place?

Oh, wait, she was asking who he was, did she mean who he was dressed up as?

"Iskander from Fate Zero, Rider of the Fourth Holy Grail War."

Damn, his head was killing him. The only time it had ever felt worse than this was the day after his elder sister's wedding when he'd overindulged in the wine and brandy. He'd subsequently woken up the next morning lying in a bathtub that was half full of setting lime jello and suffering from a massive hangover. Still he managed to get the answer out in a semi-coherent form.

There was some whispering now, and his head was starting to settle down enough that he could make it out.

"A soldier in a holy war?"

"Iskander, that's a foreign name for sure."

"Just look at him, he's far too finely dressed to be a-"

"He's so big, do you think-"

The chatter started to blur together and make his headache worse. With a shake of his head Alex let go of the bags that he'd been holding onto with a death grip and stood up.

For some reason the simple act of getting to his feet helped clear his head. The pounding in it quickly died down to nothing more than a dull throbbing, nothing worse than one might expect from a night with too little sleep.

All about him were young men and women in what looked like school uniforms with capes and broaches at the throats with pentacles on them. For some reason they looked familiar, but he couldn't quite place them right now. However that thought was brushed aside as he stared at what was beside the students.

A giant mole, some sort of enormous lizard with its tail on fire, was that a dragon? And there was the only adult present, some half bald fellow in robes and carrying a staff. It was all hinting at something, something that he just couldn't quite put his finger on.

"He doesn't have a staff or a wand. He must be a commoner."

"Louise, what were you thinking, calling a commoner with 'Summon Servant'?" someone asked, and everyone but the girl who was looking up at his face started to laugh.

"I... I just made a little mistake!" her face was flushed now and . . . were those barely suppressed tears at the corners of her eyes?

"What mistake are you talking about? Nothing unusual happened."

"Of course! After all, she's Louise the Zero!" Someone else said, and the crowd burst into laughter again.

Louise the Zero.


Oh boy.

As in Louise the Zero from the anime 'Familiar of Zero'? With eyes beginning to widen in shock he stared about himself once more. Yes there was a blonde boy with a frilly shirt standing beside a giant mole. There was a tanned and red haired beauty with a scandalously unbuttoned blouse showing off some extremely impressive cleavage with the fire lizard next to her. And over by the blue dragon more than five times his own height was a small and cute girl with red glasses reading a book.

Guiche, Kriche and Tabitha, which made the girl in front of him Louise Fran-something or other Vallière.

He was in an anime?

The people in front of him didn't look like drawn characters, they all seemed like normal people to him, no exaggeratedly large eyes, no black outlines.

"Mr. Colbert!"

Her sudden shout brought him out of his thoughts and back to the situation at hand.

"What is it that you want from me, Miss Vallière?"

"Please! Let me try the summoning one more time!" there was a definite note of desperation in her voice now.

"I cannot allow that, Miss Vallière."

"Why not?"

"It is strictly forbidden. When you are promoted to a second year student, you must summon a familiar, which is what you just did. Your elemental specialty is decided by the familiar that you summon. It enables you to advance to the appropriate courses for that element. You cannot change the familiar once you have summoned it because the 'Springtime Familiar Summoning' is a sacred rite. Whether you like it or not, you have no choice but to take him."

"But . . . I've never heard of having a commoner as a familiar!"

Alex's thoughts were racing at this point. This was real, this was really happening to him. He'd watched the anime and read a few of the translated Light Novels, but the series hadn't been his favourite. Fate/Stay Night, now there was a series that he knew inside out. This one he only had a passing familiarity with.

Good God, what was he thinking?! This had to be some sort of dream.

With fingers that felt as though they wanted to tremble he reached down and pinched the skin on his bare forearm. Ouch, that had definitely hurt.

Which-which meant that this was real.

As he paid only half an ear to the words of those around him he tried to remember what was happening. This seemed to be at the beginning of the series, so . . . he'd been summoned instead of the main character? Then that meant that soon she was going to kiss him and that would make him her familiar.

He-he could run. He wasn't too far from the gate, if he was quick he could get out of here before they could drag him into their story and then . . .

And then what?

If he remembered right it was possible for him to return to his own world by flying into an eclipse. The only problem with that was that the only thing that could do that was an antique plane whose location he only had the vaguest idea of. Added to that was the simple fact that he couldn't fly it, not without the runes that he'd get as Louise's familiar.

And there was the simple butterfly effect. If he didn't become her familiar then she'd probably end up either disinherited or the wife of that traitorous fiancée of hers, Wards or something like that. If that jerk ended up being the one to reveal to her that her Element was Void then there was a big chance he might be able to sway her to his side, either by persuasion or by magic mind control. That was if she didn't get killed by that thief woman who used golems. And in the long term that would mean the bad guys would win and what's-his-name, Tabitha's evil uncle, would probably end up either conquering or killing everyone in his lunatic bid to reawaken his emotions.

But-but did that really matter? These weren't real people; they were just characters in an anime. Except-except that they were here, they were moving around him and they certainly didn't look like drawings. They looked real, like real people that hurt and bled when they were injured. Ahhh, what was he supposed to think?

Alex controlled his breathing which was starting to speed up on him. Okay, calm down, think about this rationally.

What was the best path available to him?

If he ran things would probably be a bit hard, but he was pretty sure he'd be able to get by, especially with his knowledge of future technology and agriculture.

On the other hand just how applicable would the knowledge of how to create gunpowder and such things as a primitive clothe mill be in a world with magic? He couldn't remember the exact tech level that the commoners had had in the anime, but he seemed to remember that cannons had been featured. Or had those been magical weapons of some sort? Blast it all, why did he have to be dropped into one of the anime that he'd only been mildly interested in? If this had been Bleach then he'd have known exactly what he was dealing with.

"Well then, continue with the ceremony."

That cut through his slightly off the-path train of thought. Continue the ceremony, which meant that she'd do the spell to seal him as her familiar. Alex's muscles tensed as the primitive fight or flight impulse screamed in his veins. Unfortunately neither option was of much use when he thought about it.

The simple truth was that he needed the power up that came with being her familiar. Being the . . . what was it called again? The Gandalf? Well, being her familiar would at least ensure that he'd have at least some power. In the anime Saito had been able to use that power to face whole armies at a time. Alex wasn't too sure what he was going to do, but if he wanted to survive in this . . . this fantasy world then he was going to need some power of his own.

"With him?"

"Yes, with him. Hurry. The next class will begin any minute. How much more time is this summoning going to take? After mistake upon mistake, you have finally managed to summon him. Hurry up and form a contract."

With an expression of disappointment and bitterness the pink haired girl turned to face Alex . . . and found herself facing the bottom of his ribcage. With a sudden squeak of surprise Louise took a step back and looked up at the red haired young man that was now towering over her.

Okay, if he was going to act as her familiar then he was going to do it his way. The Saito in the anime may have acted like a blithering idiot half the time, but Alex had no intention of putting up with half the stuff, he certainly wasn't going to play the part of the doormat.

The question was how to set the tone right, he needed something . . .


"By your summons I have come forth. Now young girl I ask you, are you my Summoner?"

All hail Fate/Stay Night, he might be paraphrasing, but he certainly didn't want to give the future Void user the wrong idea by calling her Master. Aside from that though Saber's first words to Shirou had just the right kind of gravitas to serve in this situation.

"Y-Yes, I-I summoned you as my Familiar."

The young girl's words were hesitant, but he could now hear a note of hope in them. Now what could he say by answer.

"Very well, I shall be your sword and shield and you shall be my wand and staff. By the name of Bahamut's wings and Sephiroth's sword complete the ritual and grant me my Class."

Oh-Kay, maybe that had been just a bit over the top, drawing inspiration from Negima and Final Fantasy. Still he'd managed to make it sound grandiose and mystical enough that it might seem a bit more 'official' to both his Summoner and the other students. If he remembered right a number of the problems that Saito had had to deal with at the start of the series had been people not taking him seriously. With any luck this might avoid that for him.

"Ah . . . right. My name is Louise Françoise Le Blanc de La Vallière. Pentagon of the Five Elemental Powers; bless this humble being and make him my familiar."

As she said the words she tapped his chest with a wand that wouldn't have looked out of place in a Harry Potter film. Then she looked up at him and frowned.

"Hey, Iskander wasn't it? Kneel down now."

Oh? So she thought his name was Iskander? Well given how he'd said that earlier he supposed he could understand that. He could always correct her later though; right now he had to go with the flow.

Lowering himself to one knee he found he was more or less face to face with the small girl. Now that he could get a good look at her he was surprised by just how fragile she seemed. Her slim build and slight figure almost made her seem doll-like. Was this the girl upon whom the fate of this world turned? It seemed so ridiculous.

Alex was suddenly jolted out of his thoughts by the soft sensation of her lips on his. Jerking back in surprise he couldn't believe that he'd become so lost in his thoughts that he hadn't noticed her leaning in. It had been his plan to turn his head at the last instant so that the kiss would be a kiss on the cheek rather than the mouth. Such an action would have hopefully helped set the tone for their future partnership.

"It is done."

"Did you need to seal the pact with a kiss little lady?" the words came out almost of their own accord even as a slight blush spread over his face. And given some of the things Alex had gotten up to with his ex-girlfriend that innocent little kiss was making him flush a good deal more than it should have done.

"Sh-Shut up you big ox, y-you should feel honoured."

"You have failed 'Summon Servant' many times, but you have managed to succeed with 'Contract Servant' in one try." The Colbert teacher declared happily.

"It's just because he's some foreign barbarian commoner."

"If he was a powerful magical beast, she wouldn't have been able to make a contract."

Some of the students laughed causing Louise to round on them and scowl.

"Don't make fun of me! Even I do things right once in a while!"

"Truly 'once in a while', Louise the Zero." Laughed a girl with curly blonde hair and freckles on her face. If he remembered right then she was one of the main supporting cast, though for the life in him he couldn't remember her name.

"Mr. Colbert! Montmorency The Flood just insulted me!"

"Who are you calling 'The Flood'? I'm Montmorency the Fragrance!"

"I heard that you used to wet the bed like a flood, didn't you? 'The Flood' suits you better!"

"I hadn't expected better manners from Louise the Zero."

"Watch it! Nobles ought to show each other the proper respect." The middle-aged wizard interjected.

Alex was watching all of this with mild amusement when the pain hit.

Damn, that was another thing he'd forgotten, when the runes appeared on Saito's left hand they had been literally burnt on. Right now his whole body was burning as though he suffered from an intense fever, he swayed slightly and was thankful that he was already kneeling or else he might well have fallen over. As he braced himself against the pain he blearily opened his eyes and saw that stream seemed to be rising from his body.

"Girl, you're not making this easy." Alex spoke the words through gritted teeth as the heat within him increased.

"It will be over soon; just wait. The Familiar's Runes are being inscribed."

That was odd, Louise didn't sound dismissive or irritated like she had in the anime, instead she sounded more neutral. Heh, looked like he might be having some effect on events already.

The pain was receding from the rest of his body and now seemed to be focusing solely on the back of his left hand. The red haired young man tried his best to endure the pain without complaint, but as the foreign letters were literally burnt into his skin with a smell of cooking meat he couldn't help but let out a moan through his gritted teeth.

Little by little the pain faded and the marks that looked like Celtic letters ceased to glow and became thin but clear lines on the back of his hand.

"Hmmm... These are very unusual Runes,"

Ah, Alex remembered this. That Colbert fellow had been the first to work out that Saito wasn't just some random accident and that the Runes he wore were the rarest kind.

"Well, let's go back to class, everyone."

Alex watched as several of the students floated off into the air, some of them calling back mockingly to Louise about how she should walk back, how she couldn't levitate and how a commoner was a perfect familiar for her.

Right, that meant that he was now officially caught up in the story as it were. He'd have to be careful, if he remembered correctly there had been something in both the anime and novels about how the familiar mark affected the mind of the one it was placed upon. Still Saito had been able to function through it, if he could then Alex was sure that he could manage it too.

"Who are you?"

The question brought him back to the situation at hand as he looked down at the short pink haired girl before him. Her face was . . . Actually he wasn't quite sure what that expression was. There were elements of irritation, frustration and hope there from what he could see.

"This is a poor place for us to discuss future plans. I trust that you've got a more private location available?"

"Th-there's my room."

"Excellent, that should do nicely. Please lead the way my Summoner."

Thank you three years of drama school. Alright, granted he might never have been talented enough for the big stage, but those lessons in ad libbing were certainly proving their worth. With any luck this should grant him a little more time to work with and to get things set up in his mind for how he was going to introduce himself to the young girl that was the point on which the world turned.

So, no pressure.

Leaning down the burly red head picked up his bags as Louise started to walk towards the school's main building. As he did so he heard the clink of metal on metal. That made him frown, he hadn't bought anything made of metal apart from a few props, certainly not enough to make that kind of note. Also, now that he thought about it, these bags felt heavier than they had before, much heavier. Yet at the same time he didn't have any trouble picking them up, it was as though he could tell that they were heavier but that new weight wasn't affecting his ability to lift it.

"What are you waiting for?"

With a nod of his head and a mental note to check his bags later Alex followed after the pink haired girl.


"So, you're my familiar then? Well at least you look like a strong commoner, so you might be able to beat some of the more mundane familiars. Heh, you could step on the Flood's frog at least."

Alex stood before his new Summoner as she sat on her bed and looked at him. He'd decided to forego the whole business of claiming to be from another world and being confused about being a familiar. Unlike Saito he had at least some idea of what was going on and was trying to make a decent first impression on his Summoner. By the sounds of what she was mumbling to herself she was at least a little happier with him than she would have been with the original main character. He supposed that was understandable, Saito had been a rather average guy while Alex could in all modesty say that he looked like he could wrestle with bulls in a pinch.

"Well then my Summoner, I suppose it's time to hash out the details of our partnership."

"Partnership?" the girl's eyebrows furrowed as she looked at him, "You are my familiar and I am your master. Consider yourself honoured; being my familiar is something a commoner like yourself would normally never be able to aspire to. Even being the personal servant of a noble would be the highest that you could hope for. I will tell you what to do and you will obey, that's the relation between a familiar and its master."

Alright, this was a critical moment. This was the point where Louise would make her own views felt and where he could refute them and set the tone of their relationship from now on.


He said the single word with calm finality and as much gravity as he could heap upon it.

"Wh-What?! How dare you speak back like that?! The duty of a familiar is to-"

"Is to obey? To be a devoted servant and dog?" Alex cut her off while emphasising his words with a slashing gesture of his right arm. "Wrong girl, completely wrong! That is what you can expect if you summon up some common beast. If you are very fortunate you may get a powerful breed with intelligence of its own that will give loyalty as well as subservience. But you have not called up some animal, you have summoned one of your fellow humans, and we are a race more wilful and stubborn than any other on the face of this or any other world!"

He was actually impressed with himself that he'd managed to get that all out without stumbling over his words even once. Still he had to keep going while he had momentum.

"Unlike a bird or a wolf I will not be kept at your heel or on your shoulder, if that is what you're expecting then you'd best think again. You sought a powerful familiar and you got me, now I suggest that you adapt to it rather than trying to force it to adapt to you."

The young magic user simply gaped at him for a moment her eyes wide and her mouth hanging open. Then her face flushed with anger and her face creased with outrage.

"You-you commoner . . . How dare you speak to me like that?! Know your place!"

Eyes flashing she grabbed her wand from where it had been on the bed beside her and started to point it at the red haired young man.

"If you use magic on me then I'll just walk right out of here and that will be the last you'll see of me." Alex's calm statement froze her in mid-motion. "I shall leave and then you will have no summon, no familiar. How will that suit you? If what I saw earlier is anything to go by then your classmates will be less than kind if they learn you have driven off your own Summon."

"Y-You can't leave, you're my familiar! You can't just leave!"

The last sentence was almost wailed as tears started to bead at the corners of her eyes.

"Girl . . . Louise . . . you called and now I'm here, but I'll not be anyone's dog. You'll find that I'm not something or someone to be dismissed, but if you cling to this desire to treat me as a pet or a beast of burden then my own pride will not let me simply stand for it."

He paused for a moment both to look at her and to try to get the words straight in his mind, then spoke in a kinder tone.

"This partnership can work, I've heard of great sages in the past having summoned humans to work with them, and I'm sure that we can achieve something similar. As I said, I shall be your sword and shield and you shall be my wand and staff, that combination has worked well in the past and shall serve well in the future, surely as well it can work for us."

"Other mages have summoned human familiars?" Louise's voice was calmer now, curious and hopeful.

Inside his head Alex grinned nervously as he began operation 'Creative Interpretation of the Truth'.

"I've never met any of them myself, but their names and deeds are famous and I'm sure they're every bit as real as you are." He took a breath as he thought of how truthful and misleading that last comment was. "Let me see . . . there was the sorceress Lina Inverse, she was accompanied by the swordsman Gourry Gabriev. There was the Knight of Zero Suzaku who served the Emperor Lelouch. Both of them were able to achieve great things with their allies.

"Unfortunately it doesn't always work out, Diarmuid of the Love Spot was an excellent knight, but his Summoner Lord Kayneth Archibald El-Melloi squandered his loyalty and abilities. It ended quite disastrously for them."

Alright he was drawing on various anime and manga, but the examples were still more or less valid. They were certainly every bit as real as he knew the girl herself to be.

This-This wasn't going as well as he hoped it would. She was being every bit as obstinate and prideful as he had feared she might be. Alex considered himself to be a pretty even tempered guy, but even he had his limits and the way that she was talking to him to start with had really sparked his temper. Right now things seemed to be going okay, but maybe it was time to beat a strategic retreat so he could evaluate his options a bit better.

"Tell you what little Lady, what say I go find myself something to eat and a place to bunk down for the night while you take some time alone to think things over and cool your head a bit? Tomorrow, once we've both had a bit more time to think things over, we can try to hash out the details."

He didn't wait for her to answer; instead he simply picked up his bags, opened the door to the room and stepped out all in a single motion. He didn't hear any shouts or demands, so he guessed that she agreed with him enough not to cause a fuss, at least for the time being anyway.

Glancing out of one of the corridor's windows he saw that the sun was currently setting. Time really had flown by since the summoning ceremony, but despite his words he wasn't hungry just yet. Instead he set out to find an empty classroom or something of the like in which he could take a few minutes to take stock of the situation.

That didn't take too long; soon he found a large empty room with a number of long desks in it. He had no idea what kinds of lessons were taught here, but that wasn't important right now. As he sat down he remembered how Louise had turned the lamps on in her room, just a simple snap of the fingers. It stood to reason that it couldn't just be the mages that could do so, otherwise one would always have to be accompanying the servant when they did their night duties. This theory was proven to be correct when he clicked his own fingers and the lamps lit themselves.

He took a moment to play with that particular feature, snapping his fingers again and again to turn the lights on and off. However even as he was doing so his mind began to drift to thinking over all that he could remember about the series 'Familiar of Zero'.

He was fairly familiar with the first few books of the Light Novels as well as the first couple of series. It was after that that he'd lost interest. He was fairly sure that he could remember all of the major plot points of the events up to Saito supposedly dying in that big battle on Albion. It was after that though that the anime and novels diverged somewhat and he'd disliked the second season's sharp ending, which had soured him to watching the rest. Granted he'd picked up a bit more by reading some fanfiction on the internet, but after that he was less than sure of what happened aside from a few specifics such as Tabitha being kidnapped and the mad king of Gallia starting his lunatic invasion.

He'd have to deal with those when it came to those points. For that matter he wasn't planning on following Saito's example of taking on an entire army on his own. From what he could remember of the anime and the books the attacking army had been in rather rudimentary formations and groupings. If he had just a hundred men of his own with some fast mounts, or even better dragons, then he could easily break them as well as take out a fair chunk of the chain of command. Why with just two correctly employed mages he could-

Alex blinked in surprise as he realized that he was just planning a battlefield in his mind where a numerically inferior but better led force could conceivably defeat a much larger foe. And this was a big shock because in all honesty the university student couldn't even play chess worth a damn to save his life.

So why the hell was he suddenly thinking in terms of advanced military strategies?

Slowly he picked up one of his bags from where it was resting on one of the tables. Yes it definitely felt heavier, but at the same time it was as easy to lift as though it were filled with nothing but packing chips. Looking to his side Alex leaned over and effortlessly picked up one of the chairs that the students used. The legs were made of wood at least a couple of inches think, and when he tapped them the note was solid and sturdy. This was a piece of furniture designed to survive most of the mishaps that were to be expected from those studying magic.

And yet when he jerked the leg it came apart in his hands as easily as if it had been made out of cheap softwood.

His brow furrowed in confusion as he looked at the broken chair leg in his hand. This wasn't in the original story, as far as he could remember Saito only gained enhanced powers when he was using a weapon, the rest of the time he was just a normal guy. Sure Alex might be a bigger and stronger guy than the original character had been, but this was far beyond that.

A thought struck him and he began to examine the clothing that he was wearing. Examination showed that the materials making it up had undergone some sort of metamorphosis. The synthetic fabrics had become some sort of thicker woven cloth, the fake golden fur that lined his cloak and bracers was now thicker and more 'real', for want of a better term. The leather that he himself had cut and stitched together was also changed; it was harder now, more artfully worked. Rather than looking like armour it now was armour.

A quick investigation also showed that the sword at his hip was also no longer a prop. The wood and plastic false blade had become a true metal recreation of the Sword of the Kupriotes that the Rider in Fate Zero had used.

A theory was starting to germinate in his mind, something that he wasn't too sure about but which would explain what seemed to be going on.

With that in mind he turned back to the bags that he'd set on the tables. All three were large bags, the type that were a good metre and a bit long and could hold enough clothes and things to keep one comfortable for a good week or so. Normally one would have been enough for a person, but Alex was a big guy and had had lots of things to pick up. Earlier he'd heard metal in there, but to the best of his knowledge there were only a few small metal items within, the rest being paper, plastic and wood.

Therefore he was entirely justified in his stupefaction when he upended one of the bags and actual swords came out.

That bag had been where he'd placed a few props that he'd bought on a whim. The stall that was selling wood and plastic replicas of various weapons from computer games and anime had been getting close to closing and had started selling the last of their stock at reduced prices. Seeing that almost everything there had been reduced to less than half its original price he'd gone just a little crazy on the buying, but in the end he'd been pretty satisfied.

He'd also put in there a few miscellaneous things that he'd bought as well. A couple of toys, some DVDs, a wall scroll, a book. Just various impulse purchases that he'd picked up. Still it was the weapons that held his gaze.

The Revolver Gunblade of Squall, both the crystalline Brotherhood and the blue metal bladed Caladbolg of Tidus, the two lances of Diarmuid from Fate Zero. He'd bought them as simple props, but now they were all inexplicably real having undergone the same transformation as the costume he wore. Real metal, real crystal, real wood. His eyes tracked to the other things on the table and his eyes widened further.

What had once been a foot tall Godzilla figure was now more of an idol carved from black stone. The Doctor Who sonic screwdriver he'd gotten was now real metal. The cloth wall scroll was now heavy parchment and its plastic holders were now intricately carved wood. The same had happened to all his other purchases, some had adapted to take on a medieval feel while others had simply become the real thing.

Was it the same with the contents of his other bags? He'd picked up several near complete costumes for his friends, could those have been changed as well? And what about the manga he'd purchased, might they have undergone a similar transformation?

Almost without thinking he reached out to grasp the hilt of the Gunblade. Final Fantasy 8 had been a game he'd quite enjoyed, so the chance to hold the game's iconic weapon . . .

But before his hand could touch it something happened.

One of his purchases had been a book. The outside of it had been bound in leather and made to appear like some traditional wizard's tome, however all the pages within had been blank. It had looked pretty cool and hadn't been too pricey so Alex had decided to buy it. Now that book had opened on its own and the pages were fluttering as they turned themselves as though in a driving wind. The items and weapons on the table around it started to vibrate, then rattle as though in an earthquake.

The new Gandálfr barely had time to throw himself backwards as the weapons suddenly lifted up into the air and started to spin about as though caught in a miniature tornado. With a sound of ripping cloth his other two bags also exploded and their contents were added to the mass of belongings spinning above the open book.

Then in the next instant it was as though the cyclone that was holding them was being funnelled down into the book. Alex watched in astonishment as one by one everything that had been in his bags was sucked up by the rapidly flipping pages. Weapons, manga, anime boxes, figurines, costumes, props, makeup, a novelty alarm clock, his change of clothes, even things like his ipod and a couple of chocolate bars were being pulled in.

As the last item was swallowed by the book the cover slammed shut with an audible snap. He stood there for a moment staring at it, but to his surprise it just sat there as though it was nothing but a totally normal tome. Almost hesitantly he reached out to it, just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It did.

As soon as his fingertip made contact with the old-looking leather of the tome there was a blinding flash of light and a sensation rather similar to having grabbed a bare power cable with wet hands. As Alex was sent hurtling backwards he could feel the darkness of unconsciousness beginning to pull him under. His last thought before it claimed him was to note that now it was the back of his right hand that was hurting.