The plane stretched out in all directions, the earth a reddish soil, lifeless and cracked. Rising from the ground from this otherwise desolate plane were the swords. Countless swords, of every make, material, design and purpose. Used by heroes, monsters and men alike, here they stood eternal, waiting to be used again. Here they stood against the reddish sky of the world's perpetual dawn.
But something had change. The sun, which had always stayed just below the horizon, now rose just above it. This Sun was different than what it should have been. As its light cast the sky in blue and its rays fell upon the land, it's glory became clear. This was a Sun of change and power. It was a force that could move mountains and defy Fate itself. It was perfection.
It was destroying him.
He pushed forward towards the horizon, the brilliance of the light slowing his steps. His hands were held out before him as if to hold back the radiance from the world, but it was no use. Blades bleached and cracked under the light of the Sun, their own faults unable to withstand the glory they were bathed in. Many had already shattered or crumbled to dust, some too weak to endure but others due to their very nature no matter how powerful. The Sun would not stand for the shadows they cast in the world it would preside over. Even the earth itself bleached and crumbled, the horizon receding away into nothingness.
Still, he would not give in. This world was him and he shared its fate. He would not surrender who he had become, what he had become after all of his hardship and pain. Though the Sun did not speak, he could understand it all the same:
Why do you resist perfection? You are broken. Twisted. Distorted. You will be made whole, greater than you were.
And yet, he still would not yield. He was Unlimited Blade Works. The Sun would not take that from him. Then a new force made itself known, an artifact that was part of this world yet more. Not a sword, but a sheath of blue and gold. He felt its power at his back, letting him face the oncoming radiance. The rate of destruction began to slow, before finally coming to a stop. The horizon near the Sun still burned, but the world was not lost. The forces tested each other for some time, but to no avail.
Eventually, it stopped. There were no words, but an understanding was reached. The Sun would reign, but not absolutely. There would be balance.
Shirou's eyes fluttered open, and a small sound escaped from his lips. The last vestiges of the dream faded from his mind as consciousness came to him. He tried to hold on to it, feeling there was something of great importance he had to remember, but soon it was gone and he found himself staring up at a beige ceiling. He blinked and shifted around, realizing that he was in a bed. He looked around to find that he was in a small, somewhat shabby room, with a window showing that it was night and a few buildings across the way. The only other piece of furniture was a simple wooden chair, which happened to be occupied. "Enforcer Williams?" He asked apparently dozing man.
Williams gave a small start and sat up straight, his eyes focusing on Shirou. "About bloody time you woke up. I was not looking forward to dragging your sleeping arse across the Channel."
Shirou sat up in the narrow bed, his body feeling fine but his head still a little fuzzy. "What happened? Where are we?"
"To answer the latter, we are in Hamburg, or at least the outskirts of it. To answer the former, well, I was hoping you could tell me."
Shirou paused as he put his memories together, and he was surprisingly calm as he remembered the Dead Apostle, the Divine Spirit and the…whatever it was that happened after that. The last thing he remembered was shouting something atop the ruined belfry of the church. I guess I passed out. He had no idea where to begin explaining that, so he dodged the question and asked the Enforcer "How is the village? What about the rest of our team?"
The older man's mouth twisted. "Samantha is dead, and so is that new kid Johan. The rest of us managed a few injuries, but nothing that couldn't be healed." He sighed and rubbed his forehead. "We got blindsided, Emiya. Even with there being more than we thought, I was pretty sure the lot of us could handle it. But then that Dead Apostle showed up as soon we broke formation to cover more ground. He went for the weakest and ran when we start to form up again. That bloody freak was much more than the 'simple job' the Church man told me about. I can't get in contact with him and the rest of the Church hasn't said a peep on the matter." His face twisted into something ugly. "Mark my words though, someone over there is going to burn for this."
Shirou cast his eyes down as regret filled him. He had known Samantha for years, and the woman had always had a cheerful outlook no matter what dark thing they happened to run into. And while he couldn't say that he knew that nervous youth that had sat across from him on the way there, he still felt saddened by his death. The kid had probably been in some sort of political dire straits if he had risked coming along with them. "How's the village?" Shirou asked.
Williams shrugged. "A little over a hundred dead, plus a fair amount of property damage. The loss is substantial, but it would have been far worse. Hell, I'm guessing it was you who saved that little girl we found standing over you." He said, his eyes boring into the redhead.
Shirou shifted uncomfortably under the gaze. "Uh, what?"
"Don't you give me that 'Uh, what' bullshit. Just what the hell did you do? I've seen you pull some niffy tricks with those weapons of yours, but making a gold pillar of light a kilometer high is a bit out of your wheelhouse. Not to mention the fact that despite the massive and matching holes on the front and back of your vest, there wasn't a scratch on you when we found you."
Shirou looked down at his body awkwardly, indeed seeing that his body was in perfect condition. He had been stripped of his gear at some point, so all he had on were a pair of slacks. In truth, his health wasn't very surprising. Having the dissolved pieces of the sheath Avalon, the sheath to Excalibur, did wonders for a person's regenerative abilities. Of course, he was not terrible keen on telling people about the priceless artifact embedded in his body. Something about it was still bothering him though as he looked down at his torso, but he put that aside for the moment. "I'm… not really sure."
"Well, you better get sure. That little light show was not exactly the definition of subtle, and half of the over privileged idiots that came with us want you charged for Breaking the Masquerade." The Enforcer said, using that term that meant the revealing of magic or the supernatural world to the general public. "We've had a field day hunting down everyone who might have seen that and wiping their memories."
Shirou grimaced. There was only one punishment for that if he was convicted, and it was a very permanent one. Still, something else nagged at him, a thought half formed. Almost unbidden, he then said "Enforcer Williams, why are you watching over me?"
The older man's face softened if it could be called that, changing from angry to just grim. "Because the other half want to find out how you did it."
And that was the real crux of the matter. The organization which Shirou was a part of was not most morally upstanding in the world. Although it had its own militant forces, the Mage's Association was primarily a research organization, and not one that cared to follow any ethical guidelines when it came to acquiring knowledge. A mage would quite willing experiment on a living creature or person if they thought they would gain any knowledge of the arcane from it, and the being in question generally wouldn't survive the process. If some of those other mages who showed up late thought they might find out something interesting, they wouldn't hesitate to poke around his unconscious body.
"Thanks." Shirou said. "For watching over me."
"Bah, I wasn't about to let one of those ponces take apart one of my best Wardens." Williams said with a wave of his hand before he leaned forward his eyes focused back on Shirou. "At least, not until we figured out just what it was."
Shirou grit his teeth. "I… I can't really say."
The Enforce was silent for several long moment before he said flatly "Is it worth a Sealing Designation?"
Now there was something that Shirou had become familiar with over the years. "How am I supposed to answer that? I don't really have any incentive to say yes considering what will happen to me if I do."
"You could have said 'no', and the fact that you didn't does not exactly fill me with confidence."
Shirou knew that he had to tell the man something, but he honestly wasn't sure what the answer was and if he had to lie about it. "What do you think the odds are that the others will insist to the Lords that my mysteries have to be revealed?"
A shrug. "Well, while what you did was bigger and shinier than what most could do, that was all it was as far as anyone can tell. I kept the bit about your torso to myself, so I give it even odds."
The younger man's face twisted in thought for a few moments before he said "I'll invoke my right to keep my mysteries a secret for the time being. At the very least that should give me enough time to put together a report for the Lords explaining what it is should they rule against me."
The Enforcer shook his head and said "If that's what you have to do, Emiya. However, I'm not going to let you run around on mission if I think you might pull something like that again. You give me a copy of that report ASAP. Till then, you're suspended from the Wardens."
Shirou gave a small nod. It was reasonable that the Enforcer didn't want to risk Shirou endangering the rest of his allies in the middle of a mission, which could be very possible for all he knew as Shirou wouldn't divulge just what this new ability was. Besides which, Shirou felt it was probably best anyway that he didn't fight until he figured out what the Divine Spirit had done to him. "That's fair. I'll hand it to when it's done."
Williams grunted. "See that you do." He gestured to a corner of the room, which Shirou saw held some of the clothes he had been wearing. "With your down time, maybe you could see about getting a new vest."
The younger man groaned a little as he pulled himself out of the bed, having enough of lying down at the moment. "I don't know if I can afford that."
The other man eyed him up and down for a moment and arched an eyebrow. "In that case, you should think about making a calendar. I know at least a few of our female Enforcers would pay for one." Shirou blushed and folded his arms self-consciously, causing the older man to laugh. "You'd think a guy with two girlfriends would learn to be less shy. Anyway, there's shower though there." He pointed at a door next to the bed. "You've got half an hour to pull your shit together before we head back to London."
Shirou didn't feel like correcting him on his relationship status as he left the room, instead merely walking into the bathroom with a shake of his head and feeling a little surprised at how easily Williams had let the matter slide for now. He still had some of the grime from his last battle on him and getting it off seemed like a good first step for the day. As he stripped off the rest of his clothes and looked down at himself, a thought occurred to him. Was I always this built? To be sure, he had gained a good deal of muscle in the years since he left Japan, but he couldn't remember it being so… defined.
He shook his head and dismissed it, figuring that he was just imagining things as he stepped into the stream of warm water. He leaned against the side of the stall and closed his eyes, think about what to do. At the very least, he was going to have Rin take a look at him when he got back. The woman was a prodigy of a magus and had at least a cursory amount of skill in every Thaumaturgical field. If anyone could figure out what the effects his meeting with the Divine Spirit had, it was her. Besides which, she was the only one besides Saber he could trust to examine him in any thorough manner, because he knew that if any other magus did he would end up with a Sealing Designation for sure. However, that would not be because the Divine Spirit.
For the most part, Shirou was in fact a very poor magus due to having no real training until he had signed on as Rin's apprentice. Until that point he only knew the most basic spells for creating prana constructs, reinforcing objects' properties, and analyzing objects' structure. He had become very good at those things though, and not just because he focused endlessly on those simple spells for years. He had been found in the aftermath of the massive Fuyuki City Fire as a boy and the event had apparently left scars that went down to his very soul. As a result, and by a quirk of fate, he gained the ability to warp reality in a very specific way, namely to be able to near perfectly recreate any sword or similar weapon he sees, no matter how powerful or unique.
That ability to change reality through a distortion in the soul was known as a Reality Marble, and it was something only 6 humans in all of history had managed to do. Anyone who actually tried to get one either died or went irrevocably insane. So, if the magi of Clock Tower found out about it, it was a given that they would tear his body and mind apart to find out how to replicate it. All things considered, this recent event was just another thing on the list of 'Things that would get Shirou killed if anyone knew about them' list.
Shirou shook his head to stop mulling over the odds of him ending up as a head in a jar and took stock of himself. Physically, he felt fine. In fact he felt great. There wasn't a mark on his body from the previous battle. While Avalon did heal all of his injuries eventually, it really should have taken longer to fix the hole in his center. Besides that, his mind didn't feel… quite right. It was like there was something… missing, or different. He idly decided to use Structural Analysis on his body to see if there was something obviously different with him. "Trace on." He muttered-
And nothing happened. Shirou blinked in surprise. "Trace on." He said again, but again nothing. The spell didn't work. In fact, he couldn't feel his prana at all.
His magic circuits were dead.
His body tensed as he fought down his internal panic. Just what the hell had that Divine Spirit done to him? Did it somehow burn him out or something? On reflex, he tried to Trace a sword out of his arsenal, a simple blade he had seen in a museum a few years back. He reached into himself to pull the blade into existence and… something happened. There was a rush as something flowed into his once empty circuits, something raw and powerful. There was a flash of golden light and the blade was there in his hand, a gladius only a foot or so in length. Shirou let out a breath in relief that it worked, but then noticed something odd. Specifically, the fact that the blade had a distinctive golden sheen to it, like it was tempered with a metal other than steel.
He turned in over in his hand for a few seconds before he let it dissolve, though it did so by evaporating into a golden mist rather than the motes of light he was used to. It was a subtle but noticeable difference. Shirou frowned and tried again, this time Tracing Kanshou. Again the blade appeared in his hand and again it had a golden sheen. He knew that there was something different about it, but rather unsettlingly he couldn't tell what. It seemed that he was still able to use his Reality Marble, but whatever the Divine Spirit had done to him clearly had some repercussions. Most notably the something that was flowing through his circuits at the moment.
He took several deep breaths to calm himself before he closed his eyes and turned his attention inward, slipping into basic meditative trance he had learned as a boy to get a feel for his magecraft. At first there, no trace of his prana, just this new energy without a source. After a few minutes though he found something else, something deeper inside his being. He reached out for it.
The foreign power suddenly increased in intensity and flooded his body's circuits, and he saw light through his eyelids. He opened his eyes to find that he was once again glowing with a pale golden light. Actually, it wasn't so much as his body was emitting light such that he had an aura of light emanating from him, filling the shower stall. He also somehow knew that there was a sunburst emblem blazing on his forehead. He stood there nonplussed for a few moments before he noticed that paint in the bathroom was starting to peel of the walls, as if subjected to intense sun damage. Shirou focused again, this time trying to push this new thing back and make it stop.
The aura doubled in intensity in response to his efforts, and the small bathroom was barely enough to contain his new found radiance. Maybe I should wait till I get back to London to mess with this… he thought to himself.
From a nearby rooftop, Zelretch watched as his target piled into the truck with the rest of his associates and dive off to the airport, a frown on his face. It hadn't been terribly difficult to find the person the shard had bound itself too, what with the giant pillar of light and the boy shouting his head off. While this 'Exaltation' bestowed a great many things, it seemed that subtlety wasn't one of them. He had found the person in question unconscious and took the liberty of applying some diagnostic spells before anyone else showed up to see his prize was salvageable.
Unfortunately, the shard had very firmly fused itself into the man's soul, so deep that any method Zelretch could think of off the top of his head would probably just kill him outright. The vampire had been hoping to study the Exaltation in its raw form before he bonded it with a person, but it look like that wasn't possible anymore. He didn't know who he was going to try bonding it with if he ever got to that point, but now he would have to make do with this person as a test subject.
Though as far as test subjects went, this one was a terrible control. There was a very powerful artifact dissolved in the man's body, and it looked like the man had it for years. Who knew what that might have done to mind and body over the long term? Not to mention the fact that Zelretch would have preferred to have known what the soul was like before the binding occurred; The brief look the sorcerer had showed that the man's soul was… strange and twisted. He had no idea if this had been caused by the bonding or it was like that before hand. If it was preexisting, then just maybe… no, that was incredibly unlikely.
Whatever the case, Zelretch didn't have a lot of time before the rest of the magi found the man, and on a whim he stepped back and decided on a more hands off approach than he usually did. To be sure, he could have just claimed the man as his apprentice right then and there and none would have dared questioned the Wizard Marshall (and there was a good chance he was going to do that at some point anyway), be he was curious as to what the man would do if he was left to his own devices. Zelretch made a note to find out everything he could about one Shirou Emiya. A smirk played over the immortal's lips. He would step in at some point, but for now he could stand to have a little chaos to alleviate his ennui.
However, he had another pressing concern to see to at the moment, and he smoothly stepped off the roof of the building to land on his feet as he hit the ground of the adjacent alley way. He strolled out of the alley and up to a newspaper dispenser taking note of the date. He needed to figure out if he had lost any time due to that annoying dark woman's spell that had disrupted his escape. He had to think for a few moments to remember what year it was when he left. When he figured out the answer, he blinked. I lost five years?! He thought incredulously. Bloody hell! If I weren't immortal and had lost all reasonable sense of the passage of time already I'd be pretty miffed about that! Furthermore, he had already been on an extended trip away from his home dimension at the time, so it was actually closer to a decade since he had been in this reality.
He gave a small sigh as he straightened. Ah well, that's not too long all things considered. What could have happened in the mean time?
The first thing that happened to Shirou when he stepped out of the boarding gate and into the London International Airport was that he was hit upside the head with a rolled up magazine. The second was that he found a pair of arms wrapping around his neck and a mass of black hair under his nose. "Don't ever scare us like that again." Rin Tohsaka said has she hugged him. In spite of their relationship, she would have never shown this kind of affection for him in the presence of other mages from the Clock Tower normally. Most of them behaved like old aristocracy, and they viewed anything romantic as childish at best. However, the only ones on this flight were combat magi Shirou had known and befriended, and they were much more inclined to understand more 'human' pursuits.
Shirou was only slightly surprised by this. Rin had always been a little mercurial, but he wasn't sure what was causing this response. "Uh, what are you talking about?" He asked as he hugged her back.
"We got word of how you fell unconscious." Shirou looked left to the source of the new voice, and found Saber standing a foot away. The small blonde woman looked up at him with concern in her green eyes. "When we heard of what had… happened in the village, we didn't know what it meant for you. We were worried you had done something that you shouldn't have..." She trailed off, but the protectiveness in her tone was clear. Saber had always been a little protective of Shirou since he first summoned her, even after she ceased to be his Servant.
"And just what did you do, anyway?" Rin said as she pulled back from him and looked up at him with curiosity. "I heard something about a pillar of light, but that was just nonsense, wasn't it?"
Shirou looked between the two of them. He glanced behind him to make sure that no one was listening before he said in a low voice "Well, I was nearly killed by a Dead Apostle before I had an encounter with a Divine Spirit who gave me powerful but unknown abilities which may or may not have burned out my ability to do normal magecraft all together."
There was a pause where Rin simply stared at him. Then she pinched the bridge of her nose. "God damn it Shriou…"
"Sol… Invictus." Rin said slowly, trying to wrap her head around what Shirou had just told her. "The Unconquered Sun. As in the Roman deity of the sun."
Shirou shrugged as he sat cross legged in the middle of the formulacraft circle in her workshop. "I didn't know he was a Roman deity, but that's what he said his name was."
Rin scowled as she walked around him. The man hadn't said much about his… visitation on the cab ride back to their flat due to not wanting to have anyone listening to their conversation. She had considered going to the Clock Tower so that she could use her official workshop, but she decided against it to keep things discreet for the time being. Once they got home, Rin almost immediately pushed him into her smaller personal lab to give him a thorough inspection, physically, mentally, and spiritually. He had complained and wondered why that involved him taking his shirt off, but clearly her apprentice was just being ignorant in how these things worked. It was completely necessary to see any physical changes that might have occurred, and indeed she could swear that his musculature had gained some more definition. Not that that was a bad thing …
Rin shook her head and refocused on the task at hand. She had been had been at this for almost an hour, and in that time she had gone over what happened in that village in excruciating detail with the man. But that wasn't helping anything make sense. "Ok, describe this Divine Spirit to me one more time." She said.
"Rin, it's not like it has changed from the last three times I told you." Shirou replied.
"But it doesn't make sense!" She exclaim. "I mean, yes his attire sounds close enough, but four arms? That sound much more like one of the old Hindu gods. And none of the stories of Sol Invictus had ever described the items he was holding. And in either case, why the hell would a Divine Spirit suddenly appear to you in a vision in some backwater village after millennia of being absent from the world?"
Shirou shifted a bit. "He… said that I was the first he had found worthy. That his sight had been limited."
Rin grunted. She would have preferred if this being had bothered elaborating on its motives, but gods were not often in the habit of being perfectly helpful to mortals. "The point is that we can't be certain this thing was who he said he was. It could have been something like a trickster spirit that used the name."
"Perhaps it was one of the fey?" The pair turned their heads to look at Saber, who was standing by the doorway to the workshop and looking on with concern. "Fey magic is both different and very powerful compared to modern magecraft. And they are also known to be tricksters, often pretending to be something they are not." It was a reasonable guess if Rin had to admit, and Saber would know a thing or two about the Fair Folk.
However, Shirou shook his head. "I don't think so. It think I have at least a decent idea of what Fey magic feels like," he said as he touched his chest, aware of how Avalon was of Fey make. "And that wasn't it. What I felt was… well divine. I don't know how else to describe it. It left like the sun, in both power and quality."
Saber shook her head. "Then I do not know what to say. My knowledge of spirits is limited and besides the name this being is not familiar to me."
There was a long moment of silence before Shirou turned his attention back to Rin. "So… Do you have any idea what's going on? Have I really lost the ability to use magecraft other than my Reality Marble?"
Rin's mouth twisted as she took a step back. "Yes… and no. Physically speaking, your circuits are perfectly fine, just… empty of od." She said. Prana, the magical energy used to power magecraft, was derived from two sources. Mana existed in the ambient environment and was produced by the world itself, and od was naturally produced in living creatures like humans. Only magi had the training and circuit quality to actually use it to any degree, but there should have been at least a tiny amount inside of Shirou's body, especially as he was physically fine. Then again, while Magic Circuits did have a strong biological and genetic basis, they also partially existed in the soul as well. "Spiritually speaking though…"
"They have been destroyed." Saber said grimly.
Rin's mouth twisted. "I believe so. I think they might still be there, but there's something else in his soul. Something taking up the space where they should be."
"That has to be the power the Divine Spirit gave me." Shirou said, unconsciously touching his chest. "I had tried calling on my prana earlier and I got something else in response. Here, I'll show you." The man closed his eyes, and after a moment's pause a golden symbol began to glow on his forehead. It was an empty circle with eight lines radiating out from it; a sunburst. Shirou opened his eyes and looked down at himself. "Well, that's a little better than last time. That time I pulled on a lot more and my whole body started to glow."
Rin was silent for several long moments as information from her formulacraft circle poured into her head about this new energy now flowing through her apprentice's circuits. It… didn't make any sense. "Shirou… I have no idea what that is." She eventually said. "It's definitely not prana. The only thing I can even think of is that it reminds me of the nature of some elementals, but only in the most superficial way." As Rin's primary form of magecraft centered around the use of gemstones, she was very familiar with the spirits that dwelled within them, and something about this energy was similar. In was something basic, not even the power itself but the way it existed, as if it was tied to the fabric of existence itself.
Shirou gave a small hum at this. "That kind of makes sense. Since this was from a Divine Spirit I suppose that puts it on a different scale." An uncomfortable look passed across his face. "So, I guess I'm not going to be much of a magus now, huh?"
Rin felt a small pang of sadness at his expression. He clearly wasn't sure what to think about it, but the man had begged his late father to teach him to be a magus. What if Shirou was feeling that he lost some connection to him? "Technically. For whatever reason, you are still capable of using your Reality Marble with this new energy, though I can't even begin to imagine the implications of that. However, this doesn't completely stop you from doing traditional magecraft either. While you can't generate od anymore, you should still be able to receive prana through more… esoteric methods." She said, her euphemism for Tantric Rituals clear.
Shirou of course leapt to a different conclusion. "Yeah… like making a fake circuit out of my nerves like I used to back in high school."
Rin stared at him flatly for precisely the correct amount of time before she strode into the circle and smacked the idiot upside his glowing head. "Of course not, dumbass! I don't care if you can heal, I'm not letting you do something that kills most people! Besides which-"
Rin didn't get the chance to continue as a second later there was a loud rumble in the small room. Experience caused but her and Shirou to turn their heads to Saber, who was now blushing lightly. "We did not have time for lunch, after all." She said.
Rin gave a sigh at this, and with a small effort of will she let the prana ebb out of the circle. "Maybe we should leave it this for now. As far as I can tell you're in no immediate danger, and there not much more I can do in this lab. I'll have to bring you to my main lab at some point to find out more."
The man nodded and stood up. "Alright. I could stand for some kitchen time anyway." He held out his hand expectantly. "Now can I please have my shirt back."
The corners of Rin mouth turned up at the thought of making her boyfriend cook topless for her, but she eventually conceded and tossed his shirt to him. As he pulled the fabric over his head, she mulled over whether or not she could trick him into cooking in nothing but at apron at some point. There was long standing tradition for the naked apron after all-
Her internal musings cut off when she looked to the side and found Saber staring at Shriou with a very focused, almost hungry expression. The blond then noticed Rin staring at her and her face flushed in embarrassment as she quickly looked away. Maybe she is finally starting to loosen up, Rin thought to herself, but even as she did her stomach twisted in uncertainty. Thing had been awkward for the past week since the… incident.
The relationship between the three had always been a little muddled. It was back during the Grail War when Shirou had first summoned Saber as his Servant, and shortly thereafter Rin had become their ally. Rin had at first questioned just what the relationship was between the two, but it had soon become a moot point when Caster had stolen control of Saber away from him, followed by the betrayal of her own Servant. It was a dark time for both her and Shirou, and the two became closed by weathering
it together. By the time the War had ended, they had gotten Saber back, this time with Rin as her Master. Rin had like the woman well enough that she decided to use her own prana to keep her around after the Grail stopped sustaining her. By the point she and Shirou were more or less a couple, so Saber was just their friend and companion.
The years had passed and the three had become very close. However, while it was rare, there were times that Saber was a third wheel, and it was something the woman seemed painfully aware of. Rin probably hadn't helped as she occasionally liked to tease the woman about her 'joining in', a statement made more amusing by the fact that Rin had never bothered to develop a preference for one sex over the other. Then about a week ago, after Rin and Shirou had been a little tipsy after a night out and were retreating to the bedroom, Rin had made her usual tongue in cheek invitation to Saber.
That time she said yes.
What followed was… interesting to say the least. Afterward Rin had declared that both Shirou and Saber were now part of her harem in order to keep the two of them from thinking about it too much. Unfortunately, despite her reassurances Saber had still been acting weird all week. Who knew that people were so complicated?
Rin pushed that out of mind as the three made their way out of the lab and to the kitchen, and Shirou began rifling around in the cupboards to see what they had, the symbol still glowing on his forehead. "I'm going to have some free time on my hands now." He said as he pulled out some spices. "I was suspended from the Wardens until I turn in a report on just what this… Light is."
"But unlike the common phrase, the truth will not set you free in this case." Saber said with a frown. "I doubt that the Lords will leave you be if they knew you have been bestowed power by a god."
"Right, which is why I'm going to need help coming up with something believable." He said, giving Rin a glance as he took some fish out of the freezer.
Rin's mouth twisted in thought. "Well, so far all you did that anyone has seen is making a giant pillar of light. Difficult given how long you would have had in order to set that up, but not impossible." If the report was written correctly, it could be given a subtext indicating that this particular bit of thaumaturgy was not as impressive or useful as it looked. With the right amount of obfuscating language it was possible the whole thing could be kept out of their focus.
After a few seconds of mulling over the details, her attention snapped back to the scene in front of her, and her brow furrowed at what she saw. "Shirou, while I appreciate that you want to make a satisfying meal, isn't that a bit much? That's almost half our stock!"
Shirou looked back at her and blinked before turning to look at the pile of raw food he had accumulated. "Huh, that's weird. I just had this feeling..." He didn't saying anything after that, instead moving his hand to the pile. And then he did something.
The sunburst on his head increased in intensity and his hands became wreathed in flowing golden light. One hand plucked up a piece of fish and it began to cook itself in his hand, changing shade from pink to a cooked tan. He set it to the side (though a small amount of golden light continued to cling to it and cook it) and did the same thing with three more slabs of meat. He then picked up a handful of vegetables and lightly tossed them in the air, his hand lashing out in a blur. The vegetables landed into the bowl placed beneath them somehow cut into neat little pieces.
Rin and Saber watch on in slight awe at the special, Shirou forgoing the use of the stove entirely and instead using that glowing stuff to do all the work for him. A magi would never had stooped so low as to use his magecraft for something as plebeian as making a meal, but Rin was starting to rethink that position as she looked on. He cooked fish and scallops with that light, while spinning pasta and salad through the air, not to mention the sauces and spices. It was only ten minutes before the plates were filled with some of the most deliciously prepared food she had ever seen, splayed out over the table with enough for at least three courses. Ten minutes for something that should have taken at least an hour.
As Shirou set down the last plate he paused and blinked in surprise, as if he was coming out of a trance. "Oh, wow." He said, noticing all he had done for the first time, though looking impressed with himself all the same.. "That's… I didn't know I could do that."
In spite of the feast before her, Rin looked at it cautiously. "That was… something, I'll admit. But since you made this with your… whatever it is, who knows what it'll do to whoever eats it. I'm not sure that was should-"
"We will not let a meal go to waste." The voice was commanding and left no room for dissention. Rin turned to see Saber looking down at the table, a fire lighting her eyes and a small bit of moisture at the corner of her mouth. "To ignore such a masterpiece is an unacceptable insult."
Seeing that there would be no arguing with the other woman, Rin sighed and sat herself down at the table, though she did not immediately eat from the plate in front of her. She instead turned a wary glance at Saber to see what effects it would have on her first. As soon as the blond woman took her first bite, her face immediately flushed red and after only a moment's pause began to dig into her meal with fervor. Rin arched an eyebrow and hesitantly took a bite of her swordfish.
Rin's felt her whole body flush as flavor exploded in her mouth, dancing along her tongue with several delicious flavors that harmonized into a single beautiful whole. She could feel the hints of tears form in her eyes at how good it was. It was the single most delicious she had ever tasted in her life. All questions as to how such a thing was possible or how he made it so fast disappeared from her mind as she dug in with almost as much ferocity as her companion. She was dimly aware that Shirou was eating at a much slower pace and giving the other two odd looks but that didn't matter much.
Between the three of them they managed to put away the whole meal, though Saber most certainly had the lion's share of it. The blond was still wolfing down the last bit when Rin glanced over at Shirou, a small giddy smile on her face. "Ok, so you can add 'making the best meal I've ever had' to the list of things you can do. I guess at the least things will be interesting for a while."
Saber then finished her meal, putting her utensils down and clasping her hands in front of her in the Japanese symbol of thanks. She then wordlessly got up from her seat and walked over to Shirou. When she grabbed onto the back of his shirt and started to drag him, the man let out a yelp. "S-Saber! What are you doing?!" She said nothing, instead dragging the man to doorway of the bedroom and promptly tossing the man in. He screamed as he flew through the air and out of Rin's sight, and was soon followed by Saber herself.
Rin gaped at this. Did, did Saber really just do that? she thought to herself. The food was good, but Rin definitely had not expected Saber to find it that good. Whatever the case, it looked like Saber had gotten over her shyness of the situation very quickly. And had become more assertive than Rin would have thought.
Rin sat at table nonplussed for a few more moments before she gave a shrug and stood, a lecherous smirk playing over her face. I think, she thought as she moved to the bedroom, pulling her sweater over her head, that I can work with that.
A/N: I hope I'm not boring everyone with my Nasuverse exposition. I trying to keep it to a minimum while still letting people who aren't familiar with the series know what's going on.
Now, as for Shirou, yes I have depowered him a bit. Both for narrative reasons and the fact that there is precedent for Exaltation to burn other supernatural abilities out of their host. I haven't removed Unlimited Blade Works as that is literally part of who he is, but the Exaltation will have both negative and positive consequences regarding it. And don't worry, Shirou will still be plenty powerful for what's to come.
As for a another thing, some of you have remarked on the actions of Sol Invictus, namely that he can't actually pick who Exalts. To that I reply… you are completely right. And that is all I will say on that for now. As for his personality, that's a combination of normal GM leeway and writer's prerogative. As awesome as Ignis Divine is, I always found him to be the least interesting of the Celestial Incarne, so I'm making him a bit more proactive than normal.
Till next time.