- Beta'd by Asasininja4827

A beautiful woman with brown hair and the kindest brown eyes looked at herself in the mirror. This woman was a wife with two children, who loved her family to the very core of her being. Such was the beauty and kindness of the woman that it was impossible for her son to be unhappy if he was with her, much to his karate rival's amusement and curiosity.

However, that beauty was slightly hidden as she looked at herself with worry. "Why can't I do it anymore?" she murmured to herself. "It couldn't be that that is actually true is it? Isn't it just a story? But if I can't do it anymore than what else could it be?"

She looked down, and clenched her fist, but nothing happened. It seemed that something was supposed to happen however, as she sighed and closed her eyes in defeat. It wasn't happening, she couldn't feel it inside of her anymore, she couldn't gather it anymore, it was like it had completely disappeared from the world. That was impossible though, it was more likely that that was actually real, and she herself had...

Her head snapped right back up as she suddenly heard a knocking sound. Fixing her face into a smile, she shouted out, "Come in!"

The man who came in smiled as he looked at her. He appeared to be older, with black hair and stubble on his chin. "My love and joy, you look as beautiful as ever! How would you like to go to Fuyuki City?" he exclaimed, flailing out his arms excitedly. The woman smiled, amused.

"Fuyuki City? Why Fuyuki City? And why so sudden too?" she asked, raking her mind for anything she knew about it. She didn't know much, but if she remembered correctly, it was a city split in two: a residential and an urban area. Accidents tended to happen there though, which was strange for such a small place. Still, it was rather a rather unimpressive and unimportant place.

Here the man grew a little more serious. "It seems that there are a lot of people who have gotten hurt there, and the hospital has asked me if I could go and lend a hand. I guess they figured I would have time since our clinic doesn't have much business."

The man smiled a little. "Besides, it would be good for the kids to get out of the the town every once in a while. It might not be an awesome place, but it's a change of scenery anyway. So I figured we could all go."

The woman thought about it for a moment. She looked down at her hand and back up so fast that the man didn't catch it. "Yes." she thought. "It'll be nice to get a distraction right now. If that is what's happening right now, then..."

The woman smiled and nodded, making the man cheer. "Okay, I think it's a good idea. When are we leaving?"

"Tomorrow!" he screamed, dancing in joy. She sighed, going up to him, who smiled and spread his arms for her, and promptly hit his head harshly. "What did I do!?" he exclaimed, holding his head, his enjoyment abruptly cut off.

She smiled wryly. "Why not tell me more in advance next time huh? You think a woman can just up and go like that?"

The man had large tears streaming down his face as he ran out the room. "Kids! Your mother is so mean to me!" he screamed down the hall as the sounds of children's laughter could be heard.

She sighed, gazing at her hand once again. Yes, going out of town for a while would be for the best. If that was happening... Well, it wasn't like it was such a big deal. She didn't plan on ever doing that again, but if an emergency happened someday...

"I'm worrying too much. If an emergency does happen, those two would come immediately." She smiled. Yes, it was best to get out of the town for a while so she could take her mind off of things. She made sure no hint of worry was present in her face, and went to help her kids pack. She could hear them laughing as her dear husband made a fool out of himself. Laughing herself, she went and joined them.

She had no idea what horrors awaited her.

Kami no Kage Presents:

The Everdistant Dream

Chapter 1: The Fires of Change

Red. Hot. Screams. Pain. Smoke. Black. Horror. Death. Death. Death. Death. DEATH. DEATH. DEATH. DEATH. DEATH. DEATH.

A woman ran with her son in her arms. All around her, fire consumed the world until nothing was left. She was crying, but the intense heat dried her tears as soon as they fell. All the while, young boy with orange hair stared up at her, his face stricken with fear. The screams of the damned surrounded them as people died. People died. People died. People kept on dying, and all throughout the woman's tears continued to disappear as soon as they came.

She ran as people screamed at her to help them, she ran as other mothers screamed at her to save their children, and she ran as the voices mixing into the cacophony of horror that surrounded her. Soon enough she tripped, and the will to go on left her. She let go of her child and urged him to go on without her. The boy refused, his tears coming in such amounts that steam could almost be seen from his eyes as they disappeared in the heat.

She smiled at him, and told him she would be fine. She told him that he had to go and leave mommy. The boy still refused, continuing to urge her to get up. An unknown amount of time passed, and before the boy knew it his mother closed her eyes. Meanwhile, black mud poured out from nowhere, absorbing screams that the boy refused to acknowledge.

His chest felt as though a hole had formed in it. His body hurt and the boy screamed as the hole began to rob him. He screamed, and his body screamed with him, in complete and utter agony.

Distantly, he thought he could hear crazed laughter ring out, followed by an image of himself, but not. This spector laughed at him, it laughed and he felt the hole in his chest grow, though he could see no such thing if he looked down. He felt as if his life was leaving him, and this white figure that looked like him but was not was taking it from him.

He could feel as the many aspects of life left him. The first to go was his memories, as his mind forgot so he could start moving. He stood as his mother's body was consumed completely, and started walking, as his mother had told him to.

All around him, people continued to scream.

"Help me! Help me!"

"My child! Please save my baby!"

"My wife! Please, save my wife!"

Screams, death, flames, and smoke, they all surrounded the boy as he continued to walk, his face set in agony. He felt his emotions leave him, so he could ignore the people pleading for help. He saw people trying to help others, even as they themselves died as a result. He could see people dying.

He could see the black mud, every time someone died. His mind felt nothing, yet his body felt disgust. He could feel his touch leave him, as his body was heated by the intense flames. He moved on, ignoring pain, and ignoring people. He could feel his smell leave him, as smoke filled his lungs and made him cough.

The boy kept on walking. His hearing left, as the flames burst his eardrums. He walked on and on and on, desperate to keep living, even as he no longer knew why he wanted to. People eventually stopped pleading with him, as they all died. Corpses and death surrounded the boy, as he kept on walking. Fire and black mud surrounded the boy, but he kept on walking.

Eventually, the rain arrived. The boy would have hated it, if he could feel hate at that moment. After all, it only came after everyone was dead. It only came after his mother died.

The boy felt nothing though, as he continued to walk, his mangled body somehow still alive.

As the boy walked, the rain continued to slow him down, until his strength finally left him and he collapsed.

He stared at the sky unflinchingly, as the rain pounded his body. He continued to stay in this world, his body struggling to live, even as the boy himself did not know why he wanted to live so desperately. As time passed, a man came. The man filled his sight, just as his body was ready to give up. The man was crying, his face set in a look so happy, so filled with joy that the emotionless boy felt desire consume him.

He wanted to be that happy. He wanted to have that happy look on his face. Even though the boy did not know why, he wanted to be that happy. These thoughts consumed him, and as his eyes closed, a glimpse of the most magnificent flash of gold filled his vision. Alongside this great and noble color, he once again heard an echo of that malicious cackle. The last flash of that strange white figure filled his; it faded to black laughing, proclaiming that it would be back.

-The Page Breaks are Back!-

A man cried. Tears streamed down his face as he tried to keep quiet for his young daughters who were currently asleep. The doctors and officials had told him his wife and son had died in the fire, along with hundreds of people.

He cried as he looked at his daughters, who would have no mother. He cried as he knew he would have a funeral with no bodies. He cried as he wondered how his wife could have died. He cried as he thought that she should have been strong enough to come back to him. "Ichigo! Masaki!"

All around him other families cried, and other people mourned for their dead. It was to this scene that a man arrived. His face was set resolutely, and he ignored all others. He was a somewhat tall man for being Japanese, with spiky black hair and stubble on his chin. His eyes were a cold black with a hint of an unknown emotion. As he walked, time seemed to slow as he and the crying man looked at each other.

Crying eyes met cold eyes as something seemed to pass between them. Both men ignored the odd feeling, as the cold eyed man looked away, continuing to walk with purpose. He left the crying man behind him, who would eventually go home after helping the hospital with the wounded. He would stay for longer than intended, his heart hoping for a miracle that he would see his son or wife amongst the wounded.

No such thing ever happened however.

Inside a certain room, an orange haired boy looked out the window. It did not seem like a life altering fire had happened. His face was set in a scowl, though even the boy himself did not know why. It was to this sight that the cold eyed man saw. The boy turned to look, his face unmarred from the fire he had been in not too long ago.

It was a body all the doctors could not understand, as the once near corpse of a boy healed almost overnight into a healthy body. The boy stared silently at the man, his mind recognizing him as the man who had saved him, and his scowl left him as he remembered the man's joyful face when he had rescued him.

"My name is Emiya Kiritsugu." The man told him. "I'm the one who saved you in the fire." The boy nodded and said he knew as much. The man nodded, his face stuck in the same emotionless mask. "What would you prefer? To stay here and be adopted by someone you don't know or to come with me?" The man asked him, already expecting what the answer would be.

The boy looked out to the town, the ruins of the fire, for a moment. His mind flickered as he saw a brown haired woman, consumed by flames. He wondered who the woman was. His chest seemed to feel pain as he saw her in his mind, but he didn't know why. His face grew a stronger scowl as the image left him. He felt like there was something that he had to remember at all costs, but he didn't know what.

He made his decision. "I'd rather go with you." The boy said. The man's face seemed to soften a little, and he quickly started to very messily gather the clothes that had been given to the boy into a bag. The man motioned for the boy to come with him, and the boy went.

"By the way, I forgot to say. I'm a magus." The man told the boy as they walked at a brisk pace. The boy simply nodded in acceptance, as if this was nothing strange at all, perhaps even to be expected. The man showed a kind smile as the boy showed his acceptance, and they quickly left the hospital.

The crying man was nowhere to be seen.

"What's your name?" asked the cold eyed man. The young orange haired boy shrugged. The man nodded, as if it was only expected for a boy to not know what his name was. "Then from now on your name is Emiya Shirou."

-The Page Breaks are Back!-

A young man with very bright orange hair yawned as he woke up. His eyes blearily looked at the familiar ceiling, and he suddenly shot up. He was tall, especially so considering his Japanese roots. He was even taller than his adopted father had been. His mind sleepily recognized that he had dreamt of a gleaming golden sword. "Crap, I slept in the shed again!" he growled to himself. "I spent too much time trying to get Reinforcement to work last night."

His surroundings consisted of an old shed, tools and many odd parts scattered all over the place. If one would look closely, what appeared to be a fading magic circle was on the ground. This was all too familiar to the boy, as he often spent the night here trying to get his magecraft to work.

Years ago he had finally convinced his adopted father, Emiya Kiritsugu to teach him magecraft. Kiritsugu was a horrible teacher, and as much as Shirou loved the man, he had to admit that Kiritsugu couldn't teach someone how to boil water, let alone magecraft. But an interesting event had happened while Shirou was learning how to access his Magic Circuits.

As Shirou tried to mistakenly create a Circuit in his nerves, a surge of power had made itself known. That power had manifested in an enormous katana, wide and just as long as Shirou was tall. This event had dumbfounded both father and son, and Kiritsugu had later theorized that Shirou's was born with, "The knowledge of proper breathing and walking already in him."

This meant that Shirou's entire body was a single natural Magic Circuit. If this was true, then he could perform powerful magecraft, even with no knowledge of Thaumaturgy. Usually such people were treated as holy children or prodigies, but Kiritsugu had simply wondered at how it could not be a coincidence that such a child had fallen into his lap.

Kiritsugu went on to be disappointed however, as Shirou went on to fail at using every magecraft Kiritsugu taught him, except for great success with Structural Analysis, and very limited success with Reinforcement. He could not even perform Gradation Air, which was what Kiritsugu had expected him to be best at because of his mysterious katana, which they had learned he could make disappear and

reappear at will.

Although, Kiritsugu had later remarked that either way Gradation Air was a useless skill, and being good at it would have rather been a weakness. It was just a tool to help students learn how to properly form prana in more difficult mysteries. Kiritsugu had thought that great success in Gradation Air would mean great skill with manipulation of prana.

In the end, Kiritsugu had died before any real progress could be made, but Shirou still practiced what he was taught every day. Every day he trained his body, and tried to figure out the mystery of his katana, which all his results said was just a normal blade.

It was this blade that suddenly disappeared in a flurry of black particles as Shirou quickly grabbed it. He had been working with it the night before, but had had no progress at all with it. "Ah man, I hope I didn't oversleep, Sakura will be here so-" before he could complete that thought, the door to the shed opened. He looked up, slightly startled, and relaxed as he saw one of his most important people.

"Senpai, how odd of you to sleep in. You should sleep in your bed you know, it can't be right for you to sleep in here so often." The voice was from Shirou's underclassmen, Sakura. She was a beautiful young girl, with purple hair and a kind smile.

"Ah Sakura, I'm so sorry. I don't know what happened; I guess I worked for too long last night." Shirou apologized profusely as he started to walk up to Sakura. "I'll make sure it doesn't happen again. Come on now, I'll help you with breakfast, let's-"

Shirou was cut off again as Sakura pointed down to his body. Shirou looked down and sighed as he saw he had on a dirty pair of overalls. "Fujimura-sensei isn't going to be happy if you show up to breakfast like that Senpai."

Shirou scowled at the name Fujimura, which seemed to amuse Sakura a little. "Of course she won't. She's never happy with anything I do." Sakura giggled a little and put her hand to her mouth.

"In that case maybe you should start getting into fewer fights Senpai. You could also stop scowling so much." Sakura told him, trying to reason with him on two of his biggest problems. Shirou's scowl deepened as he heard this, obviously having heard it before.

"Yeah yeah. So I hear that just about every day." He grumbled.

Sakura moved to the side so he could pass through the shed's doorway, and closed the door behind him. Then suddenly froze, looking down at Shirou's hand. "Senpai, what's wrong with your hand?" She looked almost horrified.

Shirou looked down and blinked as he saw blood streaming down it. He raised his arm, but couldn't see anything bad. No cuts or anything that could have caused it really. He smiled at Sakura, to try and get her to calm down. "It's just a flesh wound Sakura, it looks worse than it really is. I'll clean it up before I get dressed, I'll be fine."

Sakura looked at him suspiciously, but accepted this. She had an odd look on her face, almost sad, like something she had hoped wouldn't happen had. "Alright Senpai, but please don't strain yourself. I'll go get started on breakfast, go clean up and get dressed."

Shirou sighed as she walked off. It really wasn't right of him to let her do so much for him every day, but there was no helping it anymore. This wasn't the first time that Sakura had had to make breakfast by herself, and she seemed to really like cooking. All he could do was promise himself to start helping her out more.

Within a few minutes, Shirou, now properly dressed, walked into the kitchen to see Sakura finishing up. "Ah, Senpai. I already finished, do you mind taking the plates out for me?" Shirou readily agreed and started grabbing and placing dishes out on the table.

'Sakura's come a really long way with cooking since I first started to teach her.' Shirou thought to himself as he looked down at the meal. Sakura had once not known what oil was, yet now she could cook on her own, and even better than Shirou on some dishes. Not too many though.

It was just as they had started eating that a rumble could be heard heading towards them. Sakura looked up, but Shirou kept on eating, completely ignoring it. "Senpai, I think-"

"SHIRROOOUUUUU! FOOOOOOOOODDDDD!" A large tiger burst into the room. Oh, 'Wait.' Shirou noted. It wasn't a tiger, it was Fuji-Nee.

A spoon promptly hit Fuji-Nee on the forehead, and she fell face first. Shirou continued to move his chopsticks, placing rice into his mouth even as Sakura went to check on Fuji-Nee. "Senpai, you shouldn't do this every morning." She admonished him as she reached out to grab Fuji-Nee's shoulder.

Fuji-Nee suddenly shot up, and roared. "Shirou's being mean to me again Sakura-Chan! Waaaaahhhh!" Oh, that wasn't roaring, that was crying. Shirou still ignored all of this, his face set into a fierce scowl as Fuji-Nee sobbed overly dramatic tears.

"Senpai!" Sakura looked at him as sharply as she seemed capable. Shirou sighed, putting his chopsticks down. "I'm sorry I threw a spoon at you freeloader Fuji-Nee." He grumbled out. Shirou picked up a peace offering, and a sniffing Taiga happily grabbed the offered rice bowl, offering it to Sakura so she could fill it.

Sakura sighed, her face slightly unhappy, but knew that that was the best she would get out of him. She went on and filled Taiga's rice bowl from the rice cooker, and placed it on her place at the table. Although Shirou had seemed quite unhappy at Taiga's intrusion, he had not neglected to place her food in her usual spot.

Shirou sighed. By now this was a daily ritual. It was the same every single day, but somehow he felt like he wished such days could keep on going forever. He quickly finished his meal and stood up. "Issei needs some help today, so I'm off."

Sakura and Fuji-Nee both nodded. This was a common enough occurrence. "Alright, take care Senpai." Sakura softly told him, giving him a kind smile on his way off.

"Don't get into another fight again Shirou or I'm going to be very upset! And remember to be careful, remember what they said on the news!" An eating tiger tried to say, but the effect was ruined as she had rice sticking to her lips as she glared. It was adorable rather than the scary enforcement it was supposed to be.

A few days ago a report had come in about gas leaks and people being hospitalized near his work place. It was okay though, he didn't have work that day, and he told them as such. He quickly said his goodbyes and went and grabbed his shoes at the doorway.

'Fuji-Nee should really be lighter on me. It's not like something's going to happen right now.' Shirou thought to himself as he walked out the door.

-The Page Breaks are Back!-

"Yama-Bro!" Multiple voices shouted out as Shirou's foot promptly met someone's face with his foot. He inwardly sighed as his face showed his displeasure with the current situation. It figured that this happened right after he thought that nothing bad would happen this morning.

"Who do you think you are, huh you bastard?" Shouted one of the thugs, as he began running towards Shirou.

His other foot hit another face, and the pavement cracked. "Mit-Bro!" More voices shouted out.

"You!" Shirou screamed, pointing at one of the guys. The guy slowly nodded his head, his expression of fear reflected on the rest of his friend's faces. "What is that?" Shirou almost roared, pointing at a fallen vase, flowers and water spilling out.

"U-uh, a monument for some dead kid?" The guy asked nervously, and his face promptly met pavement as well. All his friends simultaneously cried out in fear.

"And you!" Shirou screamed out to yet another thug. This time the thug completely froze in terror.

"Why is it knocked over!?" He screamed out.

"Be-because we kn-knocked it over with our, ska-skateboards?" The thug asked, clearly very nervous. This thug's face met the ground too and some of his friends fell to their knees in despair as so many of them were taken down effortlessly.

"We're sorry man! We're sorry! We'll put it back up, we're sorry!" One of the braver ones pleaded, on his knees. Shirou scowled harder as he looked at the guy only interested in saving his own skin.

"Why don't you apologize to HIM!" Shirou got out, as he pointed to a ghostly figure, and the faces of every thug became pale as a ghost, as they saw a young bow with his neck covered completely in dried blood. They could even see into his throat, he had clearly been slashed in the throat with a knife. On his chest was an odd chain short chain. He was floating, and he smiled and waved at the thugs in front of him, seemingly not upset at all.

"We're sorry! We're sorry!" They all yelled out, and they quickly ran away as fast as their legs could take them, leaving their friends behind to save their own skins.

Shirou sighed and lightened his face at the boy. "Alright, I don't think they'll do anything stupid again. I'll bring you more flowers later okay?"

The boy nodded happily and faded from view. Shirou sighed as he went and picked the cracked vase up, and got his phone out to call for an ambulance. Those guys deserved at least that much. No one deserved to die. They had probably learnt their lesson, and if they hadn't, he would just have to remind them again later.

It was an interesting thing, but Shirou could see the dead, the dearly and recently departed. Ghosts. It was something that he had never talked about with Kiritsugu before his death, as they did not stay on this world as ghosts for long. They all disappeared within a week of coming into existence. He guessed that that meant there was probably some kind of afterlife, but he didn't care much.

Seeing the dead was something Shirou had felt was fitting, ever since he had learned of it. His father had always told him that to be a magus was to walk hand in hand with death. This was the most fitting for him, who could see those who had died.

"Yes, I'll be needing an ambulance for four people..."

-The Page Breaks are Back!-

"Alright Issei, I need to be alone for this if you don't mind." Shirou asked, looking up from a broken heater. The person behind him was Ryuudou Issei, the student council president and a friend of Shirou's. No one really knew how two sharply distinct people such as them had become friends; it had simply happened one day.

"A delicate procedure then? Sure I don't mind, I'll be waiting outside then." Issei told him, and left the room. It wasn't really anything delicate; it was just that he couldn't have Issei in the same room while he did this.

"Trace On. Structural Analysis." Shirou hypnotized himself as his mind suddenly saw a full blueprint of the heater in front of him. One of the only mysteries he was taught by his adopted father, and the only one he was truly good at. He didn't have much use for it though, so he only used it for fixing things.

Shirou quickly identified the problem and went on to fix it. It was an easy enough fix, and he finished quickly. His classmates had once wanted to call him the "fake janitor," but Shirou's scowl every time the name was said had scared them into silence. Shirou hadn't intended to do so, but it was a relief that it had ended up happening.

As he walked out the classroom, he was surprised to see Tohsaka Rin with Issei. Tohsaka Rin was the school's idol, perfect grades, attractive, athletic, the perfect girl. Shirou had never really gotten it though, she was just a girl. There was nothing really special about in his opinion. Lots of girls had athletic ability, or were pretty.

It was a little silly to idolize her just because she happened to be good at all those things. "Yo, Issei, I'm done." Shirou spoke out as Issei took note of him. Tohsaka seemed to find something odd about Shirou, as she looked at him like she couldn't quite figure something out about him, but she put her normal face on before Issei or Shirou could notice.

"Yo Tohsaka, you're up early today." Shirou went ahead and greeted her as well. She seemed almost a little embarrassed, but nodded to the both of them and went on her way.

"Ah Shirou, thank you for that. That Tohsaka, I can't help but feel discomfort whenever I'm around her." Issei sighed out. Issei had always been suspicious of Tohsaka, like he couldn't believe the face she showed every day, like she was hiding something. Shirou thought there may be something to it, but had never really agreed or disagreed with him.

"Yo Shirou!" Someone called out to him. He and Issei turned, and he nodded at the figure. It was a girl, the captain of the Archery Club, Mitsuzuri Ayako. He told Issei to go on ahead without him. As Issei left, he properly greeted the girl.

"Yo, Mitsuzuri." Shirou told her as she caught up to him. "Shirou, how're you doing? Given a thought about coming back to the Archery Club?" She smiled innocently at him.

He figured this was what it was about. Shirou had once been in the Archery Club, and had been the best they had. A true prodigy, he had only ever missed a shot once when he had attempted to see if he even could miss a shot. He had left a year ago, proclaiming that he had nothing left to learn.

To Shirou, archery had been a way to train himself. He had found the way of the bow to be similar to hypnotizing oneself for magecraft, and had had enormous success with the bow. It came completely naturally to him, as if shooting an arrow from a bow was in his blood.

"No Mitsuzuri. I told you, I have nothing left to learn from Archery." He reminded her. Mitsuzuri groaned. It wasn't the first time that this had happened. Mitsuzuri had tried to get him to come back to the club multiple times before, but she had never been able to.

"Ah come on. Oh well, I guess I won't try again for a while. But man what I wouldn't give to trade you for that Matou boy." She grumbled to him. Shirou's scowl appeared on his face.

Matou Shinji. If Shirou was capable of hating someone, he would hate Shinji. Once upon a time they had been friends, and Shirou had ignored his rude tendencies, but that had stopped when he had found out that Shinji sometimes bullied Sakura, something he could not and would not stand for.

He had made his displeasure known to Shinji several times before, and Shinji often tried to stay out of his way. There was always a time when Shinji's ego would grow enough though, just enough that he would come back to Shirou to be reminded why Shirou did not like him.

"Shinji? What about him?" Shirou grunted out.

Mitsuzuri groaned. "What not about him? He's as arrogant as always, and he even scared off some freshmen the other day. Man, what a guy, I can't believe he's always surrounded by those girls." Mitsuzuri let her displeasure be known.

"I'll try to talk to him if I see him." Shirou promised. Mitsuzuri smiled at him. "Thanks Shirou, I appreciate it. Don't hurt him too badly though! Haha, see you later Shirou!"

Mitsuzuri ran off somewhere. Shirou smiled a little at her, and went on his way to homeroom. He made a mental note to say something to Shinji, should he see him somewhere. He should check on Sakura at the same time, make sure he hadn't been bullying her again.

-The Page Breaks are Back!-

It was after school and getting quite late as Shirou cracked his neck, walking down the hall. He had been helping Issei out with some errands and other various tasks and had ended up staying late. It happened often enough, but he had better get home before Sakura and Fuji-Nee got worried. If he was unlucky and happened to miss them, he may even get a lecture from Fuji-Nee tomorrow morning.

Shirou practically groaned at the thought.

"Oya? If it isn't Emiya?" His thoughts crumbled, his scowl made its way onto his face, and his mood plummeted as he turned to see one of his greatest annoyances.

"Shinji. How nice to see you." Shirou sarcastically stated.

"You're here late! Helping out that Ryuudou boy again? I sure hope you don't do something to embarrass the club!" Shinji replied, his grin widening. Behind him, a small entourage of girls giggled as Shinji talked down to Shirou. Shirou had never understood how Shinji could gather so many of them, he was such an ill-mannered person he would think they would try to avoid him at all costs.

"Not as much as you Shinji. I hear you made some freshman quit the club just the other day." Shirou stated, his scowl firmly in place. Shinji's face got red, but he managed to not do something stupid in front of his little posse.

"Those freshmen just didn't have the required appreciation for archery! They left because they didn't like it!" Shinji tried to tell Shirou, his face still red but lessening. "Well, at least the club's been doing much better now that a certain attention-hogger is gone. It's okay though, it's okay, people should know their proper place in life, and you just accepted that yours wasn't with us!"

"Ah is that so? That's good then Mitsuzuri must be doing a good job even with me gone." Shirou genuinely stated this without thinking. Although Shinji had technically insulted him, it was just the way he was and Shirou had never faulted him for that. His only and fatal problem with Shinji was how he treated his sister.

Shinji's face turned an unhealthy shade of red. "I'm the reason the club's been doing so well! ME! An outsider like you shouldn't concern yourself with such things, and begin stating things that he doesn't know anything about!" Shirou looked at him without saying anything. "A-anyway, I should get going. I have a lot to do, little of which is of the minor importance like the slave work you do for the student council." With this statement Shinji started off, clearly in a bad mood now. His little entourage followed him obliviously, as if they were not listening to the conversation at all.

Shirou sighed as Shinji went out of sight and looked out the window. It was really starting to get dark now, he had better hurry home. He felt bad enough leaving Sakura to cook for that freeloader alone again. It was as Shirou started on his way outside that he frowned, and stopped, turning his ear out. -c...ng-

He could almost make something out, some kind of odd noise. 'That's strange, this late. I would think there's no one here anymore, so what is that?' Shirou thought to himself idly as he decided to go and take a look. As he got closer to the back of the school, the noise started to sound clearer to Shirou, and he frowned deeply as he recognized it as the sound of metal on metal.

Clang!

Clang!

Clang! Clang! Clang!

The sound repeated over and over again and a feeling of foreboding filled Shirou as he quickened his pace, rather than going back as most people would. As Shirou got closer, the sound of metal hitting metal became clearer, and he just barely held a gasp back as he came upon an incredible sight.

Shirou could just make out flashes of blue and red. It was two figures; it looked like they were fighting. In the brief intervals that lasted less than a second he could almost make out two human figures, one clad in red wielding twin swords, and one in blue wielding a blood red lance.

'Mages? No magus could move like that though. And this presence, it doesn't feel like a magus could have, such, such power.' Shirou thought to himself. This was a battle between beings beyond Shirou's comprehension. They were being of such power that Shirou instinctively knew that he was nothing in comparison to them.

It didn't matter that he was a magus, it didn't matter that he had a sword he could will into existence, it didn't matter, none of it mattered one bit. The instant he showed himself to them, he felt he would be cut down. He slowed his breathing down as best as he could and slowly started to back away.

Crack!

Shirou froze as his foot met a twig at the most unfortunate time possible. The figures stopped as well, and the one in blue suddenly looked straight at Shirou. Shirou ran. Even though he felt he stood a chance against a human, this wasn't a human.

His flight or fight instincts kicking in to the utmost, Shirou ran as far and as fast as he could. Several minutes passed as he ran into the school, and finally stopped to catch his breath. "I think I lost him. But who were they!" Shirou closed his eyes thinking about what he would do next, but froze as a laugh caught him from behind.

Shirou spun around to the figure that had looked straight at him, the one clad in blue. Up close Shirou could not feel the killing intent leaking off of the figure, his grin promising death and blood. Shirou froze as the figure started to speak, his voice full of power. "What, the cat and mouse game is over already? Boring! Nothing personal kid, but you just weren't supposed to see that!"

The figure's grin widened, and Shirou barely had time to scream "Trace On!" as the lance sped towards him. A flurry of black particles formed as Shirou's katana came out of nowhere and just barely directed the lance to his left.

Shirou jumped to his right and stood at the ready, his form an imitation of a kendo stance. The blue figure blinked and started laughing again. "So you're a magus huh? With some ability apparently. Still, you want to fight me with a projection? Of all things, how laughable!" And the figure did indeed laugh, spinning his lance around to point at Shirou. "Well boy, let's see if you're capable of entertaining me for a short while!"

The lance suddenly sped forward, and Shirou continued to redirect it with his oversized katana, just barely. Every time Shirou blocked he could feel his strength weaken and his despair grow. He could feel it somewhere inside of him, the figure in front of him was holding back.

He wasn't fighting with Shirou, he was playing. He would kill him as soon as he got bored. Shirou grit his teeth, and decided to try and put this to his advantage, and stabbed forward the moment he caught the slightest chance.

Shirou's mind froze as he suddenly found himself against a wall, having no idea how he had gotten there. The sound of metal hitting the ground filled his ears as his mind caught up to the present, and saw a piece of his sword fall to the ground.

His katana was in two pieces now, cracked. "That's not possible. That katana was practically indestructible, nothing I did could ever do so much as put a scratch on it. And this guy just..." Shirou's mind went blank at the thought. A sigh caught him as the blue clad figure he had momentarily forgotten about looked at him with disappointment.

"I'll congratulate you for even lasting the five seconds that you did against me. Most humans probably couldn't do that. But I mean really, projection? You must see now how bad an idea it is to fight with such a mystery." The figure almost seemed to be talking as if he was teaching a lesson. "Not only that, but every blow you gave was weak. When you tried to hit me, there was no killing intent. When you dodged, you were scared of getting hit." The figure leered down at him. "That's not how you fight. When you attack, 'I'll kill him.' When you dodge 'I won't get cut.' When you block 'I've got you now.'" Suddenly the figure laughed again. "Look at me, explaining fighting to some kid who's about to die. I guess even if it wasn't a very good fight you impressed me a little kid. You may have even been one of 'them.'"

Shirou gasped as his chest suddenly blew out. His head rolled down as blood fell from a new hole in his chest freely, the figure in front of him spinning his lance to get the blood off. The figure grinned at him one last time and left. Shirou's head started to feel light as everything got dark. His body struggled to live, just as it had ten years ago.

As Shirou's consciousness faded, he could just catch a voice and a warm light.

Some Time Later

Shirou woke with a gasp. He looked around wildly for any sign of the figure that had attacked him, but saw no one. His gaze eventually brought his eyes to a jewel. A red jewel was lying on his chest; it looked quite expensive too. Shirou grabbed it and stood, his hand searching his chest for any sign of the wound that had just been present on him.

He found nothing but a scar that looked as if it had always been there. That and the jewel were proof enough that something had happened, and Shirou decided to head home as fast as he could. It was very late, so Sakura and Fuji-Nee had probably already left, and in spite of the situation he had just been in, Shirou grimaced at the thought of what lecture might come his way the next day.

It would probably be a good idea to hurry; he looked as if he had come out of some horror movie, his jacket torn to pieces and his body covered in dried blood. He looked at the broken katana at his side and groaned. It looked useless now. Shirou willed it to disappear and was glad to see that both pieces did.

He would try and find a way to repair it as soon as he could. There was no telling if the figure would come back for him if he found out he was still alive. He ran out the building without looking back, the jewel he had found on his chest now in his pocket.

Shirou hoped it wouldn't fall out, his entire uniform looked somewhat worse for wear. Shirou hurried on his way, the familiar sights of Fuyuki City filling his eyes as he walked. It was the path that he took every morning and afternoon, sometimes evening, but it looked somewhat more ominous now. It was just as he was halfway home that he caught sight of something silver.

He froze, his hand almost moving to summon his katana when he noticed it was just a little girl. She was quite the sight, with silver hair and red eyes, wearing foreign clothes that looked too warm for the season they were currently in.

"Oh, you haven't summoned yet Onii-Chan?" The girl's voice sounded quite playful, and Shirou was just about to ask her what she was doing out so late and all alone when she started to skip away. "You'd better summon it soon Onii-Chan, because we're going to be seeing each other again soon. Very soon."

The girl disappeared from view faster than Shirou could even raise a hand, and he found himself wondering if he had started to hallucinate. The idea that a little girl that almost looked like a fairy, saying such weird things to him. Maybe the girl had even really been there but had actually run away because of the way he was dressed.

Shirou tried to hurry home so he could take a bath and rest. Everything else could come in the morning after that. In just a few more minutes his feet had carried him to his large traditional Japanese home and Shirou sighed gratefully as he unlocked the door and started to take his shoes off.

It had been a really long day. He went in and noted that Sakura and Fuji-Nee had really already left. He sighed and turned the lights on, sitting down for a moments rest before he went upstairs to take his bath. He had just sat down when his eyes suddenly widened and he had to roll out of the way.

"Heh, some instincts you got kid. I tell ya, it's not too often I have to kill the same person twice. I should have made sure you were dead since I already knew you were a magus, but I didn't think someone could look this fine after taking my lance in their chest." The grinning figure filled Shirou's vision and Shirou's horror grew.

It was the very same figure that had stabbed him just some hours ago. He didn't belong in such a setting, yet he was here. Shirou bolted, his mind frozen in terror at seeing the figure again.

The figure sighed, seemingly very disappointed as he instantly appeared in front of Shirou, cutting him off. Shirou froze, his mind trying to get his body to move, move anywhere but where he was right then and there. "You got scared now kid? What, die and suddenly you get scared to fight me?" The figured spoke in a disappointed tone. Shirou wondered how he could.

"Ah well, I guess this is the best I can expect from a human. Try to stay dead this time, eh kid?" The figure asked him as his lance stabbed forward. Time seemed to slow down as the point reached for Shirou's heart, and he suddenly heard a voice.

"Is this really all you have? Is this all my wielder can do?" The voice filled Shirou's ears as his mind disappeared from where he currently was. Black covered Shirou's vision for an instant, and he could see nothing more before he had to close his eyes from sudden light.

He opened his eyes and was floored as he found himself to be in what seemed to be some kind of desert, filled with swords stabbed into the ground as far as his eyes could see. In the distance he could see great skyscrapers defying physics as they grew out of the sky sideways, covering the shining light of dawn, which he could just see coming past the skyscrapers.

There was something wrong with those skyscrapers though, he realized. They were cracked. He could see cracked windows all throughout them. One of them suddenly outright broke in half and he could feel as it hit the ground, and saw huge amounts of dust blown up by the tower's fall.

As Shirou looked around, his attention was suddenly caught by a figure. It was a man, older than him. He had long hair, sunglasses, and a flowing black suit that seemed to shimmer and wave in the nonexistent breeze.

"You have finally come Ichigo. I've been waiting for you." The figure spoke to him. Shirou's face showed his confusion at the situation. "Welcome Ichigo, to your soul. This is the source of your power, what you refer to as, your magecraft."

"Who is Ichigo? And, my soul?" Shirou asked, his mind trying to figure out if he knew someone named that. The figure sighed, and came closer, idly touching each sword he came to. He finally stopped a few feet away from Shirou.

"That's not important at the moment. You've already seen the skyscraper's destruction. What else can you see?" The figure asked him. Shirou looked around and his eyes widened as he recognized fire. It was everywhere! Shirou spun around, and he could see fire coming in in a circle around him, not too far off in the distance as another skyscraper suddenly fell.

"You're about to die Ichigo. The man with the lance will kill you in less than a second now. Fortunately time goes by a little slower in here. You still don't have long though, perhaps mere minutes before you die in the real world, and your soul is destroyed." The figure informed him, the same look he had had throughout the entire conversation on his face.

"Is there anything I can do about it old man?" Asked Shirou, his mind thinking as the figure smiled for the first time.

"Of course. That's why I brought you here. To survive, you must find your true power. The true form of your sword awaits you here and you must find it. If you don't, you will die." The figure told him, and Shirou's face grew pale.

"That's impossible! How am I supposed to find one sword in all of this?" Asked Shirou incredulously, his eyes searching, trying to see if it was even possible to count all the swords in the place. He started to sweat as the flames got closer, and the place he was in began to grow hotter.

"You have to feel it Ichigo. You can find it, just look deep into yourself. And you'd better hurry, you have almost no time left now." The black clad figure told him, and Shirou growled as he started to run. The black clad figure followed him easily, floating besides him.

"Feel it Ichigo. Feel it!" The figure screamed at him. Shirou's nose flared as he ground out, "My name's not Ichigo!"

Suddenly his eyes widened as he smelled the scent of death. It was a smell he could not forget, a smell he had once gotten more of in a few hours than most people got in their entire lives. He instinctively knew this was what he had to follow.

His entire life was about death. Death had created him, death followed him in the form of ghosts, and he walked hand in hand with it every day of his life. He ran, and the flames got ever closer as his sight came upon a single hill, a giant cleaver on top.

He ran like his life depended on it, and indeed it did as he closed in on the sword as the flames suddenly jumped until he could almost reach out and touch them. His hand reached out and distantly, he could hear the mysterious black clad figure call out to him.

"Remember Ichigo! Abandon your fear! Turn forward! Move forward and never stop! You will age if you hesitate! And you will die if you retreat! Now call it! Shout out my name! My name is-"

"My name's not Ichigo!" Shirou roared out as his hand grabbed the bandaged hilt, just as the flames closed in on him and his mind once again took him to a different place.

Outside

The blue figure's lance was mere centimeters away from Shirou's chest when he suddenly jumped back, Shirou's body exuding power as his eyes snapped open and he screamed "ZANGETSU!"

Shirou's body was covered in blue flames. The blue figure could not make him out amongst them, and he felt a pressure grown on him. "What is wrong with this kid?" He murmured to himself, just as the flames suddenly dispersed. The blue figure's eyes widened and his blood thirsty grin came onto his face as he took a hold of Shirou.

Shirou's clothing was the same torn and bloodied one from when the blue figure had attacked him at the school. The only thing of true interest was the new weapon Shirou had on his shoulder. It was a sword, but almost couldn't be called that. "What is that kid? Looks like a sword, but it's more like a giant slab of metal with a hilt and an edge!" The blue figure smiled wider, readying himself.

Shirou regarded him coolly, his mind assured of victory with the power flowing through him. "This is Zangetsu. You like him? Because it's not gonna be me dying this time!" Shirou screamed as he shot off towards the blue figure.

Silver edge met red lance as the sound of metal hitting metal rang out in the room. Various attacks were carried out quickly before they both jumped back in the opposite direction. Shirou panted, even as the figure was smiling.

"Hahaha, this is much more fun than before kid! I can actually hold back a little bit less now!" He laughed as he shot forward towards Shirou. Shirou grew tired after every blow.

The red lance stabbed forward from seemingly every angle, and Shirou could barely keep up. He could feel it; even with all this new power his body was still tired. More than that, he was slower. This blue figure was faster than him, and seemed to be getting continuously faster as they continued to trade blows.

Clang! Clang! Clang!

The sound of metal hitting metal continued to sound throughout the room as Shirou stopped attacking completely, instead focusing on blocking. His new sword held up considerably better than his old one, which had broken pretty easily. Finally Shirou tripped on a metal poster, and his eyes grew open in horror as he put up Zangetsu just in between him and the red lance flying towards him, only to be launched backwards, outside to the yard.

Shirou was on one knee in the yard, panting desperately as the figure closed in on him. "Is this all you have? Even after that performance you can still only fight on this level?" The figure talked disappointedly, but he seemed happier compared to earlier when Shirou had barely put up any fight at all.

Especially since Shirou's sword hadn't broken this time. "Looks like you're really skilled with projection if you even made something like that. I underestimated you kid." The figure told him, his killing intent pressing down on Shirou.

"Oh well. Time to die kid! Thanks for the fight!" The figure said excitedly, his lance coming forward towards Shirou's heart once again. Shirou once again managed to just block with Zangetsu and was sent rolling backwards with a wound on his shoulder, until his back hit the shed door and he fell inside.

Inside the shed, Shirou panted on the wall, his shoulder bleeding profusely from a wound the blue figure's lance had managed to make. He hadn't been able to block completely. Shirou closed his eyes as he began to expect death, but they snapped back open as a golden light filled his vision.

The blue figure seemed to cautiously stay just outside the door as well, as the golden light filled the dark shed. "That formal craft circle was real?" Shirou managed to get out before a new figure appeared in front of him.

Shirou's eyes widened. His sword seemed to vibrate as he caught sight of her, a young woman, clad in fine armor over a blue dress. She had blond hair, with a single strand sticking straight up. She was the most magnificent girl Shirou had ever seen.

He felt like he had seen someone he had been missing after going his entire life without seeing them. He felt awe at her presence, as the moonlight streamed in behind her, illuminating her figure to him. He could feel relief, as if he was safe now that she was here. The girl opened her mouth and spoke, words that made no sense to Shirou.

"By your summons I have come forth. I ask of you, are you my master?"

-End Chapter 1-

AN: I'm back! Guys, I'm back! How many of you thought I was dead? Huh, how many? XD

What can I say, life really crapped on me. But I was inspired to start writing again recently! This is a rewrite of my other story, "He Who Protects the Living."

I decided that because it had been so long since I had written for it, and because I had always wanted to rewrite at least that first disastrous chapter, that this was the best solution. I think I've a long way from that amateur author who was inspired one day by Gazzadcs to start writing a story idea he had had in his head for months.

This time, I think this first chapter is leagues ahead of my other first chapter! As you can see, this will not be just some grammar revision or something, already many small real changes have been made to the original. And although this chapter may seem to follow canon too closely, you all know how crazy things will get next chapter don't you? XD

My life is very stable right now, and I'm 99% sure it will stay like that for quite a while. This time around, I intend to finish this story. I will write and write, and I will finish this story!

My shout outs today go to my original inspiration Gazzadcs, the reason I started writing in the first place, and to Asasininja4827 and NIX'S WARDEN, the ones who convinced me that I needed to come back to finish this story.

There's fanart for this story up on my profile, so take a look. I also will keep word count updates in my profile on progress for my next chapter, hopefully to be updated every other day at least. This chapter is longer than my usual word count, but I don't think anyone here really minds. XD

Please tell me your opinion on this chapter! I'll make sure I'm always getting better, so look forward to future chapters! Good bye for now everyone!

PS: So close to 10k words! I'll see if I can do that next time!

- Kami no Kage