5 Years Later…
Night had arrived with the full moon in tow, providing the only light that could be found on the otherwise desolate town that was within sight. The harsh winds showed no restraint tonight, blowing hard against the few scattered homes in the town and howling loudly as it did so. The rugged terrain provided little else but dirt and rocks, with few worthwhile geographical features to commit to memory. Given all that it was a wonder how anyone could stand to live there, barren as it was, which led to the main problem at hand.
'Not anymore at least', thought the lone figure of a cloaked magus as he walked past several homes. A quick look around and within the present homes would give you the same answer that he had concluded once he had arrived there. That only one lone figure could be found within the area, dressed in black with a dark trench coat to protect both his identity and well-being.
Himself of course.
A dark-colored mask and hood covered much of his face, save for what was needed for keeping a proper field of vision. That and the current outfit he wore left his height that appeared to be barely over five feet, as the only recognizable trait that he could be remembered by. The fewer that took notice of him the better, such was one of the many lessons that had been ingrained into him through training. Even the color of his irises, originally golden, had been covered through the use of contact lenses, changing them to the standard and easily forgettable brown.
'No one is here.' He thought grimly, having personally inspected each and every home himself just moments ago to make sure. Simply because there was no one there now however, didn't mean that there had never been anyone there to begin with. Plates and cups could still be found on the residence's wooden tables, with served food that as currently spoiled. The young teen left the room to avoid the foul smell and sat down in one of the wooden chairs in the next room, letting out a sigh as he reached into his coat and pulled out a handgun. He held the weapon with his left hand and immediately started the repetitive ritual that he had always done whenever there was time to kill.
'Magazine.' A swift motion followed and the handgun's magazine was suddenly removed and placed on a nearby table.
'Grip.' The weapon's grip followed next.
Hearing steps come in, the young teen immediately whispered two words before jumping to his feet without missing a beat, "Trace on." The missing handgun pieces immediately reappeared within the weapon, now aimed at the newcomer standing by the entrance. His other hand immediately reached into his coat, grabbing the ever present flash grenade as he did so, his index finger already at the pin. Lucky for him it was a familiar face that he had come to see more often of within his new line of work.
"Well…that's one way to say hello to a lady, Einzbern." The girl in front of him said, having already adopted a similar stance to his with one major difference from his.
There was no gun in her hand.
A mere arm was stretched out with her index finger pointed straight at him. To any mundane the sight would have been comical to see, a handgun aimed towards an empty hand that was pointing back with nothing. To a magus however, the perceived end result was quite different when taking into account the potency and speed of a Gandr spell, consisting of concentrated prana that was visible and formed dark orbs when fired. Perhaps the largest deciding factor by far was the skill of the magus behind the Gandr spell.
Dressed in a long blue dress that never ceased to amaze him due to how out of place it was in missions like these, she sported long blonde hair styled in large coils. Much like always she had never been one to tone down on appearances, never mind the fact that her foreign look was already enough to make her stand out in the usual setting. The male magus inwardly sighed and lowered his weapon as well, removing is other hand from the flash grenade that he had been prepared to use. Though she preferred the name Luvia, he had little reason to call her that given the distance magi often kept within themselves and others.
"You're late Edelfelt." He stated as a matter of fact. A simple use of calculated reinforcement on his vocal chords during missions was enough to distort his voice enough so that no one could quite pin it down as being masculine or feminine, sounding as neutral as his skill would let him. The long coat he wore helped further hide his gender as well, though his growing frame would soon help betray that secret to the world with time.
"How rude." The female magus replied, a bit bothered by the bluntness of her partner, with whom she had worked with on a few occasions before ever since she had begun undertaking these missions as part of her training to become the next head of the Edelfelt family. The Einzbern representative remained an enigma to her, though an interesting one at that. "Better to be late than to never arrive in the first place." She laughed off the situation with quick dismissal, withholding the fact that she had gotten lost within the remote and desolate place for a bit.
She returned to looking around the place, "Any luck here?"
The cloaked figure shook his head, "Nothing. No one here is alive."
Luviagelita looked puzzled at that, "No one? But that doesn't make any sense…"
Her partner merely nodded towards the opened door closest to him that she had yet to look in. She walked towards it and once she reached it the familiar stench of blood hit her senses all too soon. On the floor lay the body of a man, lying face down as a large amount of blood pooled around his torso. It was obvious at first sight that the man was long gone but those observations did little to calm the young heiress to be. Despite her best efforts to hide it, she remained sickened by the sight but she did not falter for her pride would not allow it. It was not the first time she had come upon a similar sight after all. Such was the path of a magus and it seemed like the sight of death would remain a constant in it.
She turned around and asked her partner, "The work of the Dead I take it?"
A nod was given to her. "His body was the only one here. The rest are gone."
Luvia grimaced at that revelation. The job was meant to be a simple one: drop in, recover a particular item, and most important of all get out. It looked like things were not going to be smooth sailing if the Dead were involved. Leave it to luck to put their destination right in the middle of a Dead Apostle Ancestor's territory and this was the result. An expected one but an unpleasant one all the less. The only positive she could find was that whatever chaos had occurred had already ended by the time she arrived. Only the exceedingly powerful or a fool with a death wish would challenge an Ancestor one on one, both being groups that she acknowledged she did not belong in. Prideful or not, she was intelligent enough to realize that this job may not be worth the risk, even with the pay and ties gained to the powerful Einzbern family.
"Any ideas?" She asked her companion, wanting to know what his call was on the situation.
The cloaked figure of the Einzbern representative did not show any expression, a fact that had always unnerved Luvia due to how well collected and secretive the he could be even in the face of threatening situations like these. Not even an eye twitch or furrowing brow was to be seen from what little the facemask would let her see. Her growing suspicion of him being a modified homunculus grew stronger the more she worked alongside him, and his nearly mechanical mannerisms did little to prove otherwise alongside the fact that she did not know whether he even had an actual name. Therefore the reason why she merely referred to him as 'Einzbern'.
"We proceed." He answered without missing a beat, reaching a hand over the table to put away the materials he had removed from his weapon earlier on.
Luvia did not like the answer but only sighed in response before asking, "You are of course aware that this area is within the territory of the 18th Ancestor right?"
"Correct." The information had been delivered to them beforehand as an incentive to proceed as quickly as possible lest they overstay their welcome. Since the Ancestor's territory holdings had covered a vast amount of area, the hope had been that this would be one of the less paid attention ones. As the day had unfortunately proven though, they had been wrong on that bet.
"Well that's funny then," Luvia continued, smiling all the while as she twirled a lock of her hair in her hand "you see I recall signing up for a retrieval mission not a damned Ancestor hunt." She finished, voice dripping with sarcasm.
"Then read the fine print next time."
"What!?" She spluttered, shocked by the response she received. She didn't know which surprised her more at the moment, the indignant response or the idea that the individual in front of her possibly had a sense of humor. A twisted one that could cost her life but a sense of humor nonetheless.
The Einzbern representative continued, "The agreement was that you would provide backup during the retrieval of the artifact we are here for regardless of any possible inconvenience that could arise."
"Oh really?" Luvia deadpanned, "Is that what this looks like to you? A minor inconvenience?" At this point she was sure that the magus in front of her was homunculus since no being on Earth with the tiniest speck of self-preservation in him would casually brush off a possible encounter with an Ancestor as an 'inconvenience'.
"You are free to leave if you wish." He answered. Uncompliant help could be worse than no help after all. "But do not expect our patronage or support from here on."
"Tch!" Luvia inwardly fumed at the current situation she was placed in. It seemed like a no brainer if she truly valued her life, but the consequences that would follow if she left would be far reaching to her and her family. First of all, she was the next Head to to be and was practically leaving a huge stain in her record if she broke this deal, one that was sure to affect her family's dealings in the future. Second, losing the Einzbern family's support would be financially catastrophic for her family given who it was that provided her family with additional jewels for her magecraft. The Einzbern of course, their skill in the making of homunculi also extended to the field of mineralogy, a talent that the Edelfelts had taken notice and been quick to garner their favor by providing services like these in exchange for the precious materials. And last but not least, there was her pride, yes it was a stupid reason and arguably the least rational of all of them, but one that every self-respecting magus carried on their shoulders particularly so if they were the future head of her family and if a beneficial relationship hanged in the balance.
The more she thought about it the more she realized that she truly had no choice in the matter. A typical answer to many a magus' problems when it came to dangers like these. She gave a wry smile and spoke, "Very well then, lead the way. Just make sure to let me know the next time we encounter another mission with possible 'inconveniences' like these alright?"
"Unnecessary details." The male magus answered.
'Unnecessary details that could get us killed.' She finished in her head. "Anyways, where is our informant?' She asked, wondering where the local man who was supposed to be their guide in this foreign place was. "Hopefully he's better off than this poor fellow." She finished, nodding towards the dead body not too far from her.
"That was our informant."
"Oh." Luvia remained silent for a bit, just before adding, "Never mind then, let's go." She genuinely felt remorse for the man but the more rational part of her mind reminded her that the dead had no need for it. It was the living, currently themselves, whom they should be concerned about after all.
The Einzbern magus nodded and reached into his pocket to pull out a cell phone. This sight alone would have abhorred any other magus who held themselves above the use of modern technology and its like, but the two present had no qualms with it due to varying reasons. One had been raised to use any and every item available to him to its full potential if it had use in a mission, the other was simply more open minded than her magus associates and knew that even if she did complain it wouldn't change her companion's habits in the slightest. Truth be told, the variety and many uses for it did surprise and intrigue her from time to time, almost to the point of trying it out for herself. However, she refused to show it let alone admit it, especially in front of her usually uncooperative associate.
"The area is empty, take us to the ruins now." He spoke in his usual distorted voice and closed the phone soon after. Moments later a low rumbling noise could be heard from the distance, the loud rumbling noise growing louder with each passing second yet the earth remained still.
The Edelfelt heiress sighed, "Oh great, here we go again." She rubbed her temples instinctively groaning at the future prospect of setting foot on the flying contraption that her coworker appeared to favor. It wasn't as if she had never flown before, but would have taken a plane over the chopper in front of her any day of the week. The bumpy ride provided by the incoming helicopter was arguably the least favorite part of her job, right next to getting details out of her coworker.
The increasing noise was accompanied by the rising dust from the helicopter's rotors until it finally landed a few feet away from her. Within the cockpit one could see the familiar face of the homunculus that had transported them here and accompanied them on their prior missions.
"Climb in," spoke the monotone voice belonging to Sella, currently piloting the plane with the efficiency of a well-seasoned pilot. The ability of the Einzbern to make competent homunculi was an undisputed fact among the world of magi and few others were more aware of this truth than Luvia herself, who had seen the female homunculus pilot almost all forms of vehicles with utmost competence. Even so, the permanent poker face found on seemingly all the Einzbern constructs unsettled her a bit. Still, the fact remained that they were as reliable as one could ever possibly hope to be, given how Sella had yet to fail in any of her tasks. "Climb in now", Sella repeated a tad louder this time, though whether it due to the loud noise of the helicopter or because she grew tired of waiting, Luvia did not know.
Nonetheless, the Edelfelt heiress did not need to be told twice. She walked up quickly to the chopper and quickly got in, followed soon after by her coworker. He spared Sella a look but no other words were spoken between the two as he got in and waited for the helicopter to depart. Keeping an eye on the ground level as they took off his eyes never left the small visage as they flew farther and farther.
"Is this far enough?" Luvia finally asked, aware of what was coming next.
"It is." The Einzbern magus answered, pulling back his right sleeve to reveal a crimson colored armlet with deep indentations that appeared to look like writing on it, "ANSUZ."
As soon as the words left his mouth a loud explosion rang out from within the village followed by a strong blast of wind that shook the helicopter. Luvia looked back at where the village once was only to see bright burning flames engulfing and consuming everything that was once there.
"Never let it be said that homunculi are the only thing you Einzbern deliver on." She shook her head and sighed, feeling slightly melancholic at the sight of it, a common occurrence as of late given the nature of her job. It needed to be done and yet it did not mean that it was a part of the job she enjoyed. Nonetheless, the amount of destruction that could be caused by a modest amount of well-placed ethanol while runes to set them off never ceased to amaze her. Luvia had heard that the Einzbern's own private sector in the field of Mineralogy had made strides as of late along with their rune based work, but she had never guessed how much until she had seen her coworker set their first entire Undead infested village ablaze.
The entire place continued to burn a bright crimson red as the helicopter continued to gain distance from the place. Where there had once been a humble village, there was now nothing but a raging inferno that would go unnoticed throughout the night by all except the three present. The one who paid the most attention to the scene whoever was the investigator of the rune caused explosion himself, staring long and hard into the flames as with a piercing glare that his partner noticed but kept to herself. It was one of the few instances where he showed something beyond apathy, something that had caught Luvia's interest given her growing interest in the Einzbern magus she knew little of. The only other times he appeared to show anything else was during his brief but frequent interactions with their homunculus aide.
The rest of the trip was filled with silence as the use of noise cancelling headphones was not needed due to her partner's modifications to the aircraft, and making it so the roaring loud noise coming from the rotors would not bother them. Most of it was spent in silent contemplation and a few gazes back to the former village now in the distance.
"I will contact you if I find our objective, I expect you to do the same." The mage in the trench coat hardened his gaze on her, "Cover the east and be prepared for hostile company once we arrive understood?"
The Edelfelt heiress smirked back, "I agree, with a grand entrance like that we certainly shouldn't overstay our welcome." She hid her concern with the sarcasm that she was growing used to using in situations like these. Especially given how an unexpected visit was the correct term here given the enemy territory they were on and the giant "We're Right Here!" sign they had just set off. Time was of the essence, even more so than usual, unless they wanted the aforementioned unwelcome company to include a Dead Apostle Ancestor among them.
"We're nearly there." Sella announced from the pilot's seat.
"Showtime." Luvia declared, pushing back a lock of blonde hair as her partner got up and pushed the door open, welcoming a strong blast of noise and wind in. Ignoring them, he took a step forward until he was stopped by an open palm right in front of his chest.
"Ladies first." Luvia reprimanded him, wagging her finger at him right before jumping off the helicopter. A moment later she landed in the ground soundly, righting herself up quickly and running in the direction she was told to explore.
"She's got fight in her at least." An amused voice from the pilot's seat spoke. "Try to keep yourselves safe and make this quick."
The lone magus in the aircraft did not answer but his mask rose ever so slightly, giving the impression that he was smiling underneath his disguise. "Understood."
He followed suit and jumped off the helicopter as well, leaving the lone pilot to herself. "Children nowadays." Shaking her head, the homunculus looked after her two charges as they ran off towards the ruins in the distance.
It only took a few seconds for him to reach the ruins with a little help of magic. The irked look of the non-reinforcement acquainted Luvia as he passed her on the way here made them even now, he believed. Getting back to business, he looked around the area and noticed two things.
Rock and Dirt.
Rock and dirt that an archaeologist would kill to get their eyes and hands on that is.
Cracked walls and pillars were spread out as far as the eye could see and little else. Faded writing could be seen on them, and the only company for it to be found was the growing pile of dirt that was ever present in the area. None of it interested him though, as his eyes scanned every nook and cranny of the place as he walked by. His gaze pierced long and hard into every crevice and rock he came across, causing an all too familiar small but growing migraine to form.
'Just a bit more.' The Einzbern magus grimaced as the migraine continued to grow stronger. 'Wait!'
He stopped in front of a particular mural that was once possibly grand given the great amount of imagery and writing that appeared to be carved in was not what had caught his attention however, it was what lay underneath it. It was deep enough that he wouldn't be able to dig it out by hand but that was rarely his method of doing things anyway. He turned and walked a fair distance away from the dated mural, then pulling up his left sleeve he revealed a jade colored armlet with indentations on it that appeared to mimic writing.
A strong gust of wind blasted the wall that had once been in front of him and blew it pieces along with the area that surrounded it, and most importantly beneath it. As the dust started clearing, one could see that the wall was nowhere to be seen and in its place was a huge hole in the ground. It was fairly deep though he could still see the bottom of it, where the item he needed to recover was. Without missing a beat he jumped in and landed right where needed to be, on top of giant slab of stone that had been revealed by his rune magic. Upon closer inspection of the stone, he found several things about it that other mages would be hard pressed to find even with the proper magecraft.
It was ancient. That was the easiest, yet almost insultingly simplest way to put it. The history behind the great amount of work that had been put into it was also quite fascinating, ranging from a vast library of colors that were now lost to time to the craftsmanship that had managed to withstand the test of time. Any artist worth his salt would have probably found the find the relic in front of them priceless in many different ways and yet he did not care for it. For he was no artist, but a representative of the Einzbern instead.
'This is it alright.' He cut the history lesson behind the stone short after confirming what he needed from it, glad to be rid of the cause of his migraine. Under ideal circumstances he would have preferred to have brought the entire slab of rock with him, but given their current circumstances and the distance from here to their ride back home it just wasn't possible without taking some huge risks. Noticing a large noticeable crack on the large boulder, most likely as a result of his wind rune, he reached down and pulled at it. With some effort he was able to pull out a modest sized sample from it. Reaching into his other with his free hand, he pulled out a cloth bag with markings at its seams. He threw the sample in and sealed the bad before putting it back in his coat.
'Done. Now let's get out befor-'
"AGGGH!" A sick gurgled noise was the only heads up he received before he was interrupted from his thoughts by the rapidly falling figure of a Ghoul heading towards him.
He didn't even look up before pulling out his Glock pistol and firing exactly one bullet in the direction of the noise that he heard it from. Without missing a beat, he sidestepped to the right just in time to avoid the descending body of his assailant. After it connected with the ground with a loud sickening thud, he concealed his weapon once again. He didn't bother to check but he knew that it wouldn't be getting up anytime soon, very few things would after a point blank shot between the eyes from a Glock Pistol that had been tinkered by the Einzbern Family.
German and Einzbern seal of approval, two particular Einzbern homunculi would joke to him at times. The best one around for any new and upcoming magi worth his salt. How naïve he had been back then, not that the quality wasn't true but it had been a while before he had learned just how frowned upon his methods of working were among the general magi populace. He'd never forget how Luvia's jaw nearly dropped when he wrapped up that one particular bad situation with a large explosion that cleared the entire area. She'd come a long way since then, adapting to the situation and him despite the relatively short time they knew each other.
'Luvia!' In an instant, he remembered that he was not alone in this and that if one Ghoul had managed to track him down who knew how many had chosen to go after her instead?
He grimaced and jumped out of the pit with relative ease right before reaching into his coat and pulling out a yellow pebble, dull in color and small in size. He crushed it in his palm with ease and watched as the remnants of the pebble began to glow in color and slowly rise from his hand. In a brief moment, it took the sky faster than anyone's eyes could follow and flashed a bright yellow.
Mission completed. Two simple words that mattered the most to them conveyed through this method, and given how Luvia had yet to acquaint herself with a cellphone it was the easiest way to communicate from a distance. It was moments like these where he truly felt his father's message about how backward some magus families could be when it came to technology. The most he could do now was wait for the reply, green for confirmation that she would be heading towards his location or-
A bright spark rose from the distance and reached a great height in the dark sky before giving off the last color the Einzbern magus wanted to see.
Currently engaging hostiles. Backup needed.
"Damn it!" He cursed his luck, not caring about how uncharacteristically vulgar he sounded at the moment. It was well deserved given how quickly everything had made a turn for the worst from an already bad situation. The objective was complete but his partner's safety was at jeopardy. Only one part of that sentence mattered though and it wasn't the latter half.
The mission was complete and the next part of the job was to get out. Sella was waiting for them a fair distance away from the ruins in order to avoid unwanted attention. Technically speaking, the Edelfelts were hired muscle often referred as "the most elegant hyenas above ground" by much of the Clocktower. This put them far lower on the priority list than they would otherwise be, compared to an actual Einzbern family member. He even wondered whether she would even be prioritized above a well-made homunculus for that manner, given his own family's skewed sense of priorities.
Above all, he had been entrusted with this high priority mission which left no room for failure given who his masters were. Which brought him back to his current dilemma. What his next move would be. He took a deep breath and sighed, composing himself and bringing back the stoic mask that came so easily to him recently. Turning his head in one particular direction, he had already made his decision.
The familiar sound of an explosion brought him back to the stark reality in front of him. It had come from the direction the red signal, leaving little doubt regarding the severity of danger the Edelfelt heiress was in for her to resort to using her prized gems. Another one went off, sending a bright spark in the air as rubble flew everywhere in the distance. The threat was real and so was her call for help.
"Sorry." He closed his eyes and sighed as he picked up speed and ran farther and farther away from where his objective was.
At the end of the day, whether he liked it or not, he too bore the name Einzbern and with that came priorities that he could not ignore.
On the other side…
The world is always filled with surprises for everyone and Luvia was currently experiencing one of them.
The unpleasant kind.
The kind that involved several Dead appearing out of nowhere and continuing to seemingly crawl out of the woodwork to attack her. A Gandr was fired every split second that she could afford to fire one without being mauled in return. Her jewels were tossed and detonated with exact and enough precision to take out as many as possible. She had even removed her sleeves and began using her own family's style of fighting, the Lancashire-style of martial combat to ward them off, killing many in the process.
It was not enough.
The number of Dead was unprecedented for her and had appeared all too soon after she had come across something rather interesting. A peculiar piece of treasure that she hadn't expected to find in her search for the slab of stone that the Einzbern were so keen on finding. Something that appeared to be both rare and valuable, two words that rang well for anyone looking to profit in a business like hers.
'Now's not the time for that'. She reprimanded herself after an outstretched Ghoul limb had managed to leave a minor gash on her right arm. Her own style of fighting required close contact with her target and even though she could blast them from a distance with either her Gandr or jewels, she was starting to run low on both prana and jewels. Her family crest was working overtime as the familiar and growing heat from within her left arm was slowly but surely beginning to grow more and more painful.
'Where is that idiot?!' Dodging another close swipe by stepping to the left, she channeled her current anger into a well-aimed Gandr that blew the opposing Ghoul's head clean off. It felt good, she would admit but it was also her undoing.
A ghoul managed to sneak up from her blind spot and used that brief opening to land a brutal elbow slam right into her torso causing a sickening crack to ring out and a strained gasp as the air left her body. Before she was thrown back however, she clutched and threw one of her remaining gems at the group. Her small frame went flying right into a misplaced wall that caused her to cry out in pain as her crimson ruby rolled by her assailant's feet.
Right before exploding and releasing hell upon her enemies. A pillar of flame shot up from the gem spreading wide and incinerating much of the clustered group who were too slow to dodge. The flames continued for while burning fiercely and brightly as the ones trapped in its radius burned to ashes. The few who were barely out of its range met a similar fate as the heat condensed air melted much of the flesh away leaving a grisly sight to behold. But a permanently dead one at least.
'Einzbern seal of approval indeed.' Luvia thought back to a phrase she had heard once from the rather stoic pilot who accompanied her, during a private conversation between the homunculus and her coworker. Any thought that could distract her from the current pain she was feeling was a welcome one, as she struggled to stand and get distance from the flames, the horrid smell of the explosion' result already reaching her delicate sense of smell.
It was only then that she saw something she wished she hadn't.
Their growling and screeches grew louder in volume as they neared closer and closer, held back only by the slowly dissipating flames from her last jewel. She looked around her and noticed that she had been cornered into a hallway that had been closed off in the opposite direction by the mountain of rubble behind her. To her left and right stood two walls, climbable yes but not free of danger if the low guttural noise behind them was any indicative. It was there and then that she made the connection between the missing villagers and the horde surrounding her.
She grimaced at the cruel fate that had befallen the simple village who were no longer themselves. More innocent lives were added to victim tally of the Dead Apostles, and now it seemed like there was one more life to be added before the monster's work was done.
"He couldn't have missed that." She coughed as she looked at the night sky, her red signal long gone but the continuing flames from her ruby acting as a signal in its place. It was then that she remembered the yellow signal that she had seen seconds before launching her own into the sky.
The flames in front of her were weak now and one could see the large number of Dead on the other side as the pillar of fire dissipated more and more. They stopped before the flames however, somehow recognizing the danger it posed and proving themselves as a bigger threat given by their display of some form of intelligence.
Luvia closed her eyes and took a deep breath, releasing a long audible sigh. "It must be that then." She gave a tired smile to no one in particular, clenching her final jade colored gem fiercely with one hand. Her other arm could not repeat this motion without great pain involved, having released a loud audible crack when she had crashed against the wall just a few moment ago. "The magi of today have no shame I swear."
"So be it." Determination steeled itself in her eyes and she took a step forward. Her dress was torn and dirtied in various places, her means of escape practically gone, and her right arm broken. Her prana was dangerously low, barely enough for two or three Gandr if she pushed herself. Even so she did not falter in her steps as she walked forward ignoring her body's cries of pain. For there was one that had yet to break.
The one thing that all magi carried and were so oft to display to those around them without any hesitation of their part. Ironically, also the one thing that often pushed them to their own end, as it turned to hubris and caused them to remove all stops in the way of satisfying their curiosity. Even their own humanity at times. Here and now however, facing both her enemies and certain death she used it to gain the one thing she needed most at the moment.
"I am Luviagelita Edelfelt." She declared, stopping before the extinguishing wisps of flame that stood between her and the several Ghouls in front of her. "Head of the Edelfelt family and member of the Clocktower of the Mage's Association." Her green gem slowly began to glow, wind blowing around her and growing stronger with every passing second.
"Be honored." The jade colored gem was now glowing brightly, releasing waves of wind that blew away the dust nearby. "For I will be the last opponent you face here and now."
A feral smirk worthy of the title of the most elegant hyenas above ground suddenly found itself on her face. Formalities and appearances be damned, she was going to enjoy this and no one would be there to watch or stop her. "Let's have one last dance shall we gentlemen?"
The flames vanished completely and the one thing holding her enemies at bay was gone. In the blink of an eye the Dead charged at her all at once, nearing closer and closer towards the lone Edelfelt magus.
"True gentlemen are quite rare these days it seems." She chuckled after noticing the disorganized group headed right towards her like mad dogs on a hunt.
"As are true ladies apparently." A voice called out from behind her. Startled, she quickly turned around to face the source of the voice only to watch as something flew right past her face at break-neck speed missing her only by the barest of inches. The following second a loud explosion rang out from behind her, sending debris flying everywhere and causing her to lose her balance and be pushed forward towards the unforgiving ground. She yelped in surprise but never connected with the ground.
"You did well." The Einzbern magus holding her up stated as a matter-of-factly. "I will take care of this now." He gently helped her stand again, placing three different colored gems right in her open palm before she could say anything in return. "Feel free to use them as you see fit." The Edelfelt head remained stunned by everything that was going on at the moment. Once she was standing upright again, she suddenly found her voice again.
"Just wha-wher-when-", she spluttered half-finished words before her brain could string a coherent sentence together partly due to the unexpected appearance of her coworker and the rest due to the sudden contact against his surprisingly well built frame. She never could tell given how he always wore that black coat of his.
'Focus damn it!' She reprimanded herself. "Where were y-!"
"Trace On." He cut her off and a sound akin to crackling was barely heard as two swords immediately materialized over his head and right above his shoulders. One had blue streaks running down the middle of it with a similarly colored hilt while the other was similar in all but color, being red instead. He looked ahead and noticed that the threat in front of them had been taken care of, confirmed by the wide crevice left in the ground before him and the nauseating smell of burnt flesh, which left…
The walls to his left and right bust open at that moment, revealing the unwanted company of more Dead behind them. The crimson colored blade turned to face the company on the left as its sapphire colored twin turned to the right to do the same. "Trigger off…" The two swords began to glow their respective colors, vibrating in the air as they gave off sparks of energy.
The two groups to his side did not wait for him, charging straight for him once they noticed him. An easy task given that there we only two people there who were not among the living. Luvia noticed them closing in and prepared another ruby colored gem to set off. A hand rested on her shoulder and stopped her from doing so however, surprising her as she took a look at his face and noticed the beads of sweat that were now trickling down his face, his eyes looking strained as well. "What are y-"
"Bang." One simple word left his mouth.
That was all it took for hell to be raised on earth. The crimson colored bade burst off towards the Dead on the left side faster than anyone could see, immediately impaling a Dead right through the torso. That was the trigger for the vortex of flames that followed upon its detonation. The violent flames consumed the entire left side, incinerating everything in its path indiscriminately. The right side fared no better as the azure sword connected with its first victim, releasing a wild burst of lightning that tore the area apart. Loud crackling ensued as everything became wrapped in a bright light that shredded the Dead caught in it with an equal amount of indiscrimination as its fiery twin.
Once the noise faded and the dust had cleared one could see that only two individuals were left standing. Luvia and her Einzbern partner, the sole cause for the wreck surrounding them. If there had been anything worth salvaging around them it simply wasn't there anymore, as rubble was the only company that remained around them. The Edelfelt magus looked around in disbelief, with several questions caught at the tip of her tongue before she finally settled upon one.
"HOW did you do that?!" Luvia grabbed her partner by the collar with her one good arm, jewel still in her grasp and adding to the intimidation that she so wanted the other magus to feel. The explosion had caused part of his mask to tear and loosen itself from his face, allowing her to finally see much of what lay below his eyes, though his head remained covered by the hood.
He looked at her with a vacant expression before a small smirk formed upon his now visible lips. "Magic."
"… … …"
That did it.
Within Luvia something finally snapped, and whether it was the last bit of patience she had for her coworker or the result of the whole day's troubles that finally drove her over the edge it did not matter now. Whatever thought or concern Luvia had at that particular moment disappeared and was immediately replaced by one and one thought only.
'Kill the smug bastard.' Just as she began to clench the gem in her hand tightly once again however, her partner's eyes widened in alarm. He immediately grabbed her by the shoulders and surprised her first by doing something entirely unexpected.
He threw her.
"Wha-!" She never got to finish her sentence however, not before connecting with the solid ground below her. "Agh!" clutching her injured arm that had ironically broken her fall, she tended to it for a second right before turning to face her partner and looking absolutely livid. "What's the matter with y-!"
Whatever words that were about to leave her mouth immediately died on the tip of her tongue once again as her eyes came upon the sight in front of her.
It wasn't hers though but his instead. Etched on his now visible face, she could see his agony as he held one arm against the wound on his chest. His breathing was shallow now and the strain from his own last attack was now fully on display as she could see the bead of sweat trickle down his forehead. Above all, the attack had blown back his hood, fully exposing his head to her. If she had bet on what his hair color was before today she would have surely lost that bet for she never would have guessed for him to have not one but two different colors.
White and red.
Although dominantly white, the streaks of red hair still stood out like a sore thumb. His facial features also resembled those of the Far East rather than the standard pale Caucasian face found on all of the Einzbern homunculi. It made no sense to the Edelfelt magus, she had pinned him down as a homunculus before so why would he look any different from the average Einzbern construct? It effectively put more holes in that theory of hers that was for sure. She looked at him more closely before noticing the most noticeable change in her associate.
The deeply resentful glare he now wore.
One that was aimed directly behind her. She quickly turned her head to come upon the sight of a young man, not much older than them, with silver colored hair standing right in front of her. He wore a tattered dark cloak, hiding the rest of his body from her but revealing his face to all present. He peered down at her, allowing her to see his two dark crimson pupils gazing straight at hers. Her breath caught itself in her throat as she realized not who but WHAT stood before her.
"Dead Apostle." She managed to whisper out, feeling her blood run cold at the sudden realization.
The sudden yell from behind her snapped her out of her stupor as she turned to see a lone sword aimed straight towards the Dead Apostle. The problem? She was right in its path as well, a thought one does not forget after witnessing the destructive power said swords packed. She reflexively gulped at the state of the situation she was caught in. She still had her gems but what good would they do if her partner fired off his sword first? A speed that she could not possibly hope to match. The other option of getting away depended on one and one thing only. How fast she could be before the Dead Apostle in front of her cut her down.
For his attack to have blown back and cut through the especially reinforced fabric that the now unmasked Einzbern magus always wore, it meant that he packed a lot more power than he looked capable of having. It would be fatal to underestimate him, lest she end up worse than her now injured partner. All of which brought her to her current situation right now, one that had her caught between a rock and a hard place.
"LEAVE NOW." The Einzbern magus demanded, as he focused long and hard on the enemy in front of him. His breathing was growing shallow, having reached his limit and his body making this point clear through the most obvious way possible. Pain, of course. Struggling, he blocked off the soreness of his body, the pain from his wounds, the agony from his burning magic circuits, and the splitting headache that threatened to make him lose consciousness if he allowed it to overtake him. With his mask gone, all of this was evident to the two in front of him, a fact that did not escape the Dead Apostle's attention.
"You sure bark a lot for someone who's almost dead." He remained still and turned his attention onto the Einzbern magus. "I'd shut up if I were you unless you want to speed up that process."
The tension remained thick in the air, as neither of the two magi there dared breathe let alone move in the anticipation of what the Dead Apostle's next move would be. It continued for what seemed to the two for an eternity before the Dead Apostle spoke again, "And yet I have you two to thank for creating that distraction. With all that commotion you made it was too easy to take this from the old fool."
Reaching into the tattered cloak of his, he pulled out a sheath covered in a regal and vibrant red colored cloth. Under normal circumstances it would have been simple for the Einzbern representative to see every little detail that he wanted to know, but given the great amount of focus that he was putting solely into staying conscious and lucid, he just did not have the energy to investigate the item any further than what a normal person's sight would tell them.
His coworker on the other hand was an entirely different story. She gasped in surprise once he revealed the familiar item right in front of her eyes. She inwardly cursed their luck as the threat the Dead Apostle in front represented grew several times over. Almost as if he could read her mind, the Dead Apostle smirked at her almost mockingly, "Perhaps…," he pondered, "I should give this new weapon of mine a test run…don't you think?"
The question shook the both of them, Luvia blanched since she was aware of what the Dead Apostle had in his hands causing the male magus to take notice of this, telling him all that he needed to know about the apparent weapon the Dead Apostle had gotten ahold of.
It was dangerous. Extremely so, if it had made someone who made a living from handling and working with potential bombs in a jewel pale at the sight of it. The Einzbern magus grimaced as his options grew smaller and smaller in the increasingly grim situation. Their enemy laughed at them openly, appearing to relish their plight, "I guess I'll have to take that silence of yours as a-"
The smile of the Dead Apostle's face quickly vanished, his head immediately turning towards the distance as if seeing something unpleasant from that direction judging by the grimace he now wore. The sudden change in his mood surprised the two magi present, startling them once again when he resumed speaking, "On the other hand," he growled, still facing in the same direction, "I have a better target in mind."
Turning to face them one more time he appeared to contemplate something for a bit right before clicking his teeth in annoyance and shaking his head. "Run."
That one word stunned both of the magi present into shock.
"Eh?" Luvia voiced out for her partner, who thought the same thing.
The reply they received was less than a welcome one. The Dead Apostle's face contorted into fury, his nostrils flaring, "I said run! You've bored me so get out of here!"
It was enough to startle the young Einzbern into action, who found no lie in his enemy's face and would not turn down the opportunity. He made a quick dash for his associate, immediately pulling the pin on one of his flash grenades from within his coat as he closed his eyes and tossed it at the feet of his enemy. Luvia widened her eyes in recognition, but managed shut them just in time before the blinding flash went off. Before she could protest, a pair of arms grabbed ahold of her and carried her off from the ground. Once the Einzbern magus had successfully hoisted her over his shoulder, he ran with all the strength he could muster in the opposite direction the Dead Apostle had been glaring at.
Whatever had troubled him so, was not something he could deal with at the moment that much was for certain. All of this was done while continuously keeping the lone sword aimed at his enemy throughout the entire time. He wasn't a fool after all. Once they were a fair distance away the prana connection supporting the blade was disconnected, causing it to slowly disintegrate back into thin air. The enemy in question however, had yet to move from his spot, finally opening his eyes once the blinding light became bearable.
"Tch. Humans and their toys." He spat, annoyed more than offended by the tactic used to escape from him. It did not matter to him now though, for his focus was now on one and one being only.
The 18th Dead Apostle Ancestor.
The very same one that had currently awoken from his slumber and was now heading his way after noticing the considerable lack of servants at his disposal and the disappearance of his prized weapon. A smirk formed on his face, and he raised his arm up high holding his new-found treasure to the night sky. He gave it one good swing, shaking off both the cloth and the sheath that held it both were merely decorative after all. Once both fell to the ground he held up the demonic sword that he had stolen from the Ancestor.
The Demonic sword Avenger. One so foul that its mere presence carried a malignant aura around it. Its attacks were no less wicked, scattering clumps of malice with each swing. Furthermore it was rumored to have additional forms upon prolonged use though he had never seen it do so personally.
"No time like the present then." The Dead Apostle chuckled as he inspected the weapon further. Whatever the result of this battle it would be the greatest irony, he believed, if the thief were to die at the hands of his loot, or the master at the hands of his prized weapon. The ground began to shake with each passing second, the foul presence of his expected guest growing closer and closer until finally…
"What took you so long?" The amused silver haired vampire asked. "Old age keeping you down old fool!? Well if you think about it, it's better than the alternative. But it's a shame you know."
The demonic blade released a black miasma that spread and covered the entire nearby area with the malevolent feeling that it was infamous for. The ground turned pitch black as the two vampires faced off against each other in their newly christened arena. A feral smirk adorned the face of the younger Dead Apostle, showing neither fear nor panic but looking absolutely ecstatic instead.
"You won't have that choice today."
The ground shook from beneath his feet as an explosion went off far behind him, but he knew better than to look back. Whatever was going on back there was none of his business at the moment. His only priority at the moment was getting to the extraction point before his body gave out on him. Right now he was banking everything of his reinforced legs, already long overtaxed with the added burden of the Edelfelt girl on his shoulders but left with no other choice given her current state. He'd inspected her condition upon arriving at her location and if he allowed her to run on her own she'd only last a few moments before collapsing before him. No matter how much she protested otherwise.
"Put me down you fool!" She demanded of him, striking against his back and squirming against the iron grip he had on her. Currently, her embarrassment overpowered her sense of self-preservation, at the moment at least. Unfortunately for her, or fortunately depending how one saw it, he wasn't having any of that.
"If you really want to die so badly then keep that up!"He yelled back at her, finally getting her to stop with his warning. He jumped over the rubble in his path and noticed their ride out of this mess in the distance. He reached into his coat and pulled out his phone, pressing one button before shouting, "Prepare for takeoff now!"
He did not receive a reply but slowly but surely, he saw the helicopter's rotor begin to turn, confirming his order. His breathing was erratic and ragged now, his torso stinging him with agony with every passing moment both from the wound and his nonstop running. 'Just a bit more!'
The door to the aircraft opened just as he got closer. With the last of his strength he jumped over the few feet of distance that was left between him and their ride home, landing perfectly inside. "Get us out of here now!"
Their pilot did not need to be told twice. As the door automatically closed he could feel the helicopter beginning to take off, gaining some much needed distance from the last place they needed to be. Finally safe, or as safe as he could be at the moment, he put down the girl on his shoulder right on the seat in front of him. He collapsed on his knees soon after, finally having the opportunity to catch his breath after what had been the closest call during a mission. He looked at his companion and saw that she looked the same as she had when he encountered her during her battle, but he decided to ask her anyways, "Are you well?"
"Good." He nodded in return, turning around to face Sella, "The mission was completed but we will require medical aid soon. Have the homunculi at our nearest base be prepared for our arrival and let us know before we arrive."
"Consider it done." Their pilot replied, focusing on their quick getaway from the place and pressing a button nearby to carry out his order.
The Einzbern magus sighed in relief and relaxed against one of seats nearby, right in front of the Edelfelt girl herself. He leaned back against the fairly comfortable seat and closed his eyes hoping to catch a quick nap before they arrived at-
"So that's what your real voice sounds like isn't it?"
That one sentence immediately snapped him out of his stupor, his blunder hitting him in the face much like a bucket of freezing water at the crack of dawn. With all the things going on at the time, he had forgotten to maintain the reinforcement on his vocal cords that kept his actual voice from coming out. He cursed himself for that slip and wondered if there was any way to fix it.
Looking back at the expectant look on the girl's face he knew well enough that he wasn't getting out of this without any trouble. He sighed once again at the bad luck streak that had apparently followed him into the helicopter. A voice interrupted his thoughts almost as if she had read his mind.
"I do not think Lord Gerhart would approve of this." His pilot spoke bluntly from behind him.
He stopped himself to consider her thoughts thoroughly and she was right, secrecy was one of a magus' greatest weapons after all. The Einzbern were no different in that regard, in fact he had little doubt that had it been anyone else that had come with her on that mission, this ride would be have had one empty seat on the way back.
"I've four gems on me Einzbern, and I'm not afraid to use them. You would do well to keep that in mind." The blonde magus stated as a matter-of-factly, almost as if she had read his thoughts. Not that it wasn't hard given how most magi reacted to having their secrets revealed. If she was going to be killed for it, she would damn make sure that she wasn't the only one.
"At ease Edelfelt," he reasoned with her, well aware of the threat of her signature weapon of choice. "You won't be harmed for this, you have my word. It was my mistake after all."
"And…" she added.
"And?" He repeated.
"Don't play the fool Einzbern," she berated him, "If you think that the guarantee of my safety is enough to make up for today then you have another thing coming. Four of them in fact."
"Well," he chuckled, "that's one way to say 'thanks for saving my life' don't you think Sella?"
"Indeed." she answered him, equally amused. "Young ones are so greedy nowadays I swear."
"Says the five year old homunculus." He deadpanned.
"Answered the fool to the one flying this thing." She countered.
"…Point taken." He conceded. Knowing full well how uncomfortable she could make their ride back home.
"Excuse me!" Luvia exclaimed, taken aback by the first casual and even playful exchange that she had ever seen between the two, and slightly upset that she being completely ignored. "Four gems here remember!" She raised them forward to make her point, each one already starting to glow their perspective color.
"Relax." The Einzbern magus casually waved her off, further irritating her instead. "You'll be compensated for it. How does an additional fifteen grade A gems, already instilled with their own element of your choice sound?"
She was just about to argue back when those words died in the tip of her tongue. "Fif-fifteen you say?" She finally managed to stammer out though nowhere near as graceful as she would have liked it to come out. She cleared her throat and nonchalantly agreed to his proposal, "That will do I suppose."
"You will also receive an additional three gems from me, during each of our missions just before we begin." He added, further surprising the already stunned blonde magus.
Something was clearly wrong here. Magi never acted like this unless there was something equal or greater of value that they were getting in return. "Why are you-"
"I don't want to see you die." He finished. Gone was the light-hearted smile from before, replaced by a solemn look that left no room for either lies or playful banter.
He left her speechless once again for what seemed like the 5th time today. The silence that followed carried on for a while, leaving both of them to their thoughts. It went on like that until one of them finally decided to break it and the ice between them.
"If that's truly the case," Luvia cleared her throat as she continued, "then I suppose it is only fair for me to return the favor as well." She extended her arm out towards him, "From now on please call me Luvia, and as the next head of the Edelfelt family I swear to look out for you as you did for me today Einzbern."
Now it was his turn to be taken aback, and she looked all the more pleased for it. He returned the gesture, smiling back as he did so, "I look forward to it Luvia. Call me Shirou then I insist."
"Shero?" She repeated, unacquainted with Japanese names. "That reminds me… who are you actually?" Besides the fact that he bore the name Einzbern and was often the talk of the Clocktower given his recent numerous appearances whenever the Einzbern family was involved, she knew very little about him. Not to mention that the Einzbern, and many magi in particular, often held a low opinion towards those from the Far East.
"Er no… Shirou." He corrected her. "Shirou Einzbern, current apprentice of Lord Gerhart Einzbern and formerly known as Shirou Emiya."
"Shero Einzbern." She repeated, still not getting the pronunciation right. Something nagged at her though, something that he had mentioned that didn't quite-
"Wait a minute…EMIYA!?" She nearly shouted out. "THAT Emiya!?"
The newly identified magus known as Shirou Einzbern let out another sigh, fully expecting that reaction from her given that her family often dabbled a little too much in his father's business working both with and against him on several occasions in the past. He did not know how she would take the following information but he had already opened the metaphorical Pandora's Box regarding his identity so there was no going back now.
"Yes, THAT Kiritsugu Emiya." He confirmed. "Otherwise known as the Magus Killer and… I'm his son."
Unable to help himself he laughed at her baffled expression, one he would give anything to take a picture of right now. "Pleased to meet you."
AND THUS I RISE FROM THE ASHES LIKE A RISING PHOENIX, REBORN TO WRITE AGAIN… until Midterm week kicks my ass back to hell that is. Welp. Anyways, it's good to be back here with this behemoth of a chapter for me at least. Now on to clarify a few things:
One, everyone here is canon. From Sella the homunculus, to Enhance the Dead Apostle and the sword he got ahold of. And of course Luvia, the one character that I knew from the beginning would play a larger role in this story than she would in actual canon. Why? Because she comes from a line of magi that make a living doing what Kiritsugu does himself. So who else could there possibly be to join Shirou in his coming of age story as a merc. Shinji Matou? HA!
Also for those asking for the Shirou's girl troubles to kick in already. Well here's something. It may not have been entirely what you expected (especially the Sella part) but hey it's a start. It's only the 4th chapter after all. Though Shirou himself may have come off a bit differently than what you expected at first, but hey that's what growing up with the Einzbern will do to you, and magi in general really what with the whole having to have several personas for their everyday lives.
Not to mention that the Type Moon universe is filled with a massive library of colorful characters that are not too difficult to use, so besides taking the obvious liberty here and there (like in this chapter), I will not change much, if any, of the story behind them. Those familiar with the very little info the Type Universe gives about Enhance should know how that battle will go down and perhaps even be able to predict future plot twists here and there. As to why I picked Enhance out of every other potential Type Moon character well that's easy. I pictured him looking a lot like a dark Dante from Devil May Cry (one of my favorite characters of all time) and DAT NAME. I would seriously consider changing my name to Enhance if given the chance and if I weren't too damn lazy to do so. No lie.
Two, the timeskip. Now this will probably rub people the wrong way since skipping 5 years is no joke especially after the pseudo cliffhanger of sorts from last chapter. But I figured rather than tell you how far Shirou developed I would show you instead. I could have delivered a 20 plus chapter based solely on exposition and wrapping up the meeting from last chapter but you'll get some of that next chapter since a certain blonde magus is bound to ask questions after the reveal. So relax you'll get your exposition and get to read it next time. As well as coverage of the rest of the Emiya family with the usual twist or two courtesy of me of course.
Three, I got a great beta named Fanatical-Writer561 to look over the first 2 chapters so far but I'll get to sending the last two soon.
And last, but certainly not least, thanks for FFR (Following, Favoriting and Reviewing). I don't care if I start to sound like a broken record but I will always take the time to do this since hey you gotta recognize what people do you know. Whether it's a short message, or an 18 pg chapter, a click can go a long way. So yea, enjoy whatever other story you have to catch up which reminds me that I have to catch up on In Flight but at the same time I don't want to. Why? Because it's OVER! Agh, that feeling when you read a good story that you don't want to end is indescribable. Well at least we still have other great stories to fill that void, like From Fake Dreams and too many others to list because this A/N is too long already.
Until Next Time