I do not own TYPE-MOON, Fate/Zero, Fairy Tail, or anything to do with any of the fields.
I should have known something was wrong as soon as I had come into contact with the Grail.
There I stood - the Grail shining before me, Berserker, helping Rider and his Master, the young magus Waver Velvet, with whom I'd alligned myself using promises - promises I knew I couldn't keep if I wanted to save Sakura - to gain their trust, finish off Saber somewhere nearby. That man, Emiya Kiritsugu, off fighting the priest, Kotomine Kirei - and Archer, standing in the corner as he stood over the woman's - Maya, I think was her name - dead body, smirking as he watched me reach out to touch the Grail. Why he made no move to stop me, I don't know - hell, with the position I'm in right now, floating in a seemingly endless oblivion, I'll probably never know - but at the moment, I didn't care. All that mattered was that my goal was finally in reach.
All that mattered, in all that was happening, was the Grail.
A thousand emotions tore at me in an endless storm as I reached out. As soon as I felt my hand come into contact with the object encased within the crimson light, I felt its power. Swelling, contracting, twisting, raging in an endless tide of unfathomable power. But there was something else, something that my emotion blotted out. Something horribly...
There's no real word to describe it.
The only thing I can really say that even comes close is that, now that I can actually make out what it was... whatever it was, it was wrong. In every sense of the word, it was absolutely, horrifyingly wrong.
At the time, though, I paid it no attention. I merely focused all my thoughts on Sakura, on Zouken, on the entire Matou family. I thought of Aoi, Rin, and the Tohsakas. And I began begging, pleading to the Grail to help me save them, from their respective sufferings. To help me be the one they wanted, no, that they needed me to be.
I don't know what happened after that.
I do know, though, that whatever the Grail did, it didn't grant my wish.
It began when the light intensified, shining brightly and getting in my eyes. I felt my emotions subside into three things.
Anger. Anger at everything, at everyone that had caused this. That disgusting, hideous excuse of a father, Tohsaka Tokiomi; that Goddamn leech Zouken; the Matous in general, for allowing Zouken to twist them into the damn puppets they were now.
Sadness. Or, more specifically, loss. I had put everything into this. And until now, I'd gotten nothing, NOTHING in return.
But above all, disgust. Disgust with the Tohsakas for allowing Zouken to take Sakura for his abhorrent needs. Disgust with Tokiomi, for even considering, let alone ACCEPTING that monster's offer to adopt Sakura. Disgust with the magus community, with how low it had fallen, with how it writhed as the breeding ground for corruption it had become, how those arrogant, pompous asses, pathetic excuses for mages, really, managed to thrive while everyone else who actually wanted to work to make the world a better place withered and fell, their loss only further feeding the corruption the way a corpse served to feed a swarm of writhing maggots.
These three emotions welled up inside of me, and I could feel the Grail begin to pulse, as though it were excited, like it were some child that had just been set loose in a candy store.
And then, everything just froze.
Just like that. For God knows how long, everything just stopped, frozen in place, as though reality were nothing more than some kind of three-D art model. And then slowly, oh, so slowly, everything began to kick back into motion. Starting with the Grail. Its form literally rippled with power, pulsating, as though it were the heart of something so hateful and powerful it could - and would - wipe out everything in its sight.
And then it tore itself - and the reality around it - apart, leaving sheer nothingness in its wake.
I didn't even have the time for my shock to truly kick in beyond mild surprise, let alone react, before I found myself surrounded by pitch black.
I felt my head whip about wildly as I tried to get a bearing on my surroundings. All around me, I saw people, people writhing in pain before crumbling to nothingness in the dark. Some lasted longer than others; Archer, stood, silent, merely gritting his teeth before falling into the dark; just falling, never crumbling, never unwinding like the others. From where the walls disappeared, I could see Rider and Waver, the former clutching his Master to his chest as though he were a child before they faded as well; I saw Saber, lashing out in agony, her sword flailing wildly before she disappeared. I saw Kiritsugu and Kotomine, blades locked against guns, each grating their teeth, their eyes squeezed shut as they too fell into the shadows. I even caught the slightest glimpse of Berserker, his helm gone, who returned my gaze with a look that was somewhere between bewilderment and pity, before he dissipated, leaving me all alone in the darkness.
I couldn't see.
I couldn't hear.
I couldn't even feel.
No, I could definitely feel something. The pulse of the darkness around me, like a black wave, convulsing every few pieces of a split second.
As if it were laughing...
And even that faded as I, too, fell into the black.
But even now, I couldn't help but still feel some semblance of something...
Not the anger.
Not the sadness.
Not even the disgust.
It took me a few seconds to realize exactly what it was, but when I did, I was torn between shock and slight happiness.
Stupid, childish, broken, beautiful, driven, wonderful hope. Hope for something better, even though I knew there was nothing left.
If I could have, I would have chuckled as the feeling strengthened slightly, and the image of my ideal world came forwards in my mind. I imagined myself, sitting in the grass beside Aoi as I watched Rin and Sakura play together, the wind brushing lightly against my face, the sun shining brightly as Aoi smiled.
A fantasy. A childish fantasy that I knew could never be true.
And yet, it felt so good...
The feeling strengthened again, stronger this time, and suddenly, the image shifted; it was still there, but it had changed. I was now sitting on a bench beside Aoi; there was a marketplace, with Rin and Sakura still playing, but they were playing alongside other children now. The people around all bustled about, smiling, chattering and laughing, and a happy tune wafted through the air on the breeze.
The world as a town...
A representation of my ideal world, then?
Just another fantasy.
So why did looking at this one feel even better than the last one?
The hope once again grew stronger, and the market was suddenly filled with fire. It didn't burn. It didn't destroy; it merely danced through the air, shaping into a dragon for an instant high above the crowd before exploding like a firework. The crowd cheered, Aoi lightly clapping, smiling brightly; Rin and Sakura were laughing, asking a young man with pink, spiky hair and teal eyes to do it again, only getting a childish grin in response. It was then that out of the crowd, more explosions sounded, sending more works into the air; light blue sculptures of ice, flew around like discs, chilling the air slightly before exploding in a similar manner to the dragon from before. Waves of golden light, exploding into stars; swords, dancing through the air with swift precision, gleaming brightly in the sunlight; and countless other works, something different from many different people within the crowd, though aside from these, there was nothing to really tell them apart from everyone else, and no matter how great or how minor it was, everyone gave an equal amount of cheering and clapping.
I tried to blink, somewhat bewildered and more than a little confused by what I was seeing.
It took me an instant to realize what this one was.
What place magic took in my ideal world. Open to anyone and everyone who was willing to put the time and energy in to learn it, with nothing, not even blood or skill, making a distinction of who was higher than who.
A world where magic or not, everyone was an equal.
Easily the most childish of my fantasies.
But also among the most comforting. Right up there with my dream of being a family with Aoi, Sakura and Rin.
At this point, the hope was so great, I thought it was going to make me burst; but I didn't care. Rather, I reveled in it, enjoying it.
Even if I was lost in darkness, I'd still have my fantasies. And the hope that came with them.
'If I'm lost in the dark, though...
'Why do I feel a breeze?'
I stiffened at my own musings, pausing for a moment, waiting to see if I would feel it again.
'Weird... I could have sworn I felt something...'
My musings were once again interrupted by a sudden tug. A tug on my spirit, my soul. At first, I was able to ignore it. Then it grew stronger, and something began to emerge from the shadows. A hole in the black fabric of the nothing.
A light in the dark.
Without so much as thinking, I stopped fighting. Rather, I let the tugging lead me, and the light grew progressively brighter and brighter, closer and closer...
And then the darkness was gone. Replaced by a bright blue shell, a white glow dominating its center.
I blinked, long and slow, waiting for something to drag me back down into the dark. When nothing happened, I let out my breath, taking in another as though I hadn't breathed properly in years.
'Okay... I feel things, so that's something... if this is a dream, it's awfully vivid to be a normal one...'
The next thing I heard not only broke my train of thought; it nearly put me out of commission all together, the volume nearly deafening me and the abruptness just about giving me a heart attack.
"Hey, white-haired guy! Are you alright?!"