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What it takes to win (Fate/Stay Night, Zero, EXTRA and Apocrypha)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by VoidHerald, Aug 8, 2012.

  1. Well, hello. I had heard of this site by Ars Poetica, who is betaing this story (and inspired it, so thanks you guy). I have heard it was a good way to get constructive feedback for stories. It's my first fic dealing the Nasuverse, and I would like to see if it works out well.
    The two main ideas behind this story are having Servants from different continuities fighting, and trying to deconstruct Fate/Stay Night. Yes, try to deconstruct the deconstruction of urban fantasy. By showing one rule could make a Grail War even deadlier.
    If there are any questions, I would happy to answer.

    Chapter One
    Chapter Two
    Chapter Three
    Chapter Four
    Chapter Five
    Chapter Six
    Chapter Seven
    Chapter Eight

    OOOOO
    Day One
    This Illusion

    Death.

    This is what was had in front of the man. Death incarnated. A monument to destruction, ruins, and pain… Lives consumed by a fire brought by a man-made devil, Angra Mainyu itself.

    Brought to earth by Emiya Kiritsugu, after a foolish attempt at saving the world…

    And here he was, searching for people that survived the disaster he had unleashed. Desperate to save someone. Desperate to save at least one person. Desperate to prove his life wouldn't be one of darkness and tragedy.

    It was the will of the Grail that granted the man's wish for salvation, in the form of a boy, buried among rubbles.

    It was at this point that history changed. Diverged.

    That is the law of the universe. Fate isn't a road, but a crossroad. For each choice, there is a new possibility, a new world to be born.

    One of these roads would lead to a Counter Guardian. Another would lead to a hero. Another would lead to death.

    But the present crossroad is one full of wonders and whimsies. Imagine for a second that the one that would later be known as Emiya Shirou… What if he had been graced with the Grail's darkness before Kiritsugu found him? Finding the boy screaming in pain and dying, his body ravaged by a cursed mud, the Magus Killer implanted the King of Knights' most sacred relic in him, barely saving his life.

    As a result, the course of history would change. Emiya Kiritsugu would bring the boy to the hospital to be cured. Due to the mud's damages, he wouldn't stay a few weeks in the care of doctors, but two whole months. As such, it allowed a few curious people to locate the boy's protector, Emiya Kiritsugu.

    The following discussion would lead to a new world, one of strife and pain, but also one of happiness and valor.

    It would lead to a world where the Grail shall grant a wish, at last.
    OOOOO
    White.

    It was a white hospital room – much like bones, really. Kiritsugu didn't like that, but he still preferred it over the red of blood. He had seen enough of it.

    So, yes, white was more than fine.

    The boy, Shirou, was still sleeping like a baby, in a simple bed. The doctors said he would be able to leave after yet another week. Kiritsugu hated that he'd never thought about learning advanced healing magecraft. It would have accelerated the process and maybe allowed him to see Ilya sooner. But even Avalon's power had it limits, especially against that… curse, that the boy bathed into.

    But he wouldn't complain. This boy was the world's gift to him, and he would wait for him.
    The door of the room slowly opened. Kiritsugu stared at it, thinking it would be another member of the hospital's staff.

    But the man in front of him was someone else entirely.

    It was a man in a black suit with brown hair and eyes. Caucasian… an average European…

    …And he was obviously a magus. Kiritsugu could almost feel the man's prana, as if he was breathing it. He had no doubts. This was most certainly a lord.

    "Emiya Kiritsugu, also known as the Magus Killer," the man said, offering his hand, "Enchanted to make your acquaintance." His Japanese, Kiritsugu noted, was stunning, like listening to a native speaker.

    Kiritsugu didn't even move. He had a gun under his suit, just in case… he could always take the man by surprise. Of course, the chances were slim, and making a fight erupt in such a place would probably end with Shirou's death. "Who are you?" he simply asked.

    The man wasn't even fazed. "Ah, I see. I forgot to introduce myself first – such impoliteness from my part, I plead for forgiveness. My name… well, I don't think it has any importance, for any of us. Like you, I am better known by a title… I am the Messenger. Don't worry, I wish you no harm. If I wanted to kill you or capture you, the expert magi waiting at the door would have attacked already." He was still presenting his hand in an offer of peace.

    Kiritsugu reluctantly shook it. "Who are you and what do you want?"

    "How blunt… I am a messenger of the Association." The man stared at the boy. "I didn't know you had a son… it surprised me when the staff talked about Emiya Shirou, with his guardian being known as Emiya Kiritsugu. Did you, maybe, adopt him a short time ago?"

    "He lost his parents in the fire," Kiritsugu said, his emotionless façade not breaking at all. "He has nothing to do with me. Please, leave him alone."

    The Messenger smiled. "I didn't expect such words. The reports on you presented a killing machine, not a man."

    "How did you track me down?"

    "Why, by looking at the patients' names of course! I thought maybe a few people had survived the fire, and I wanted to interrogate them. After learning about the boy, connecting the dots was relatively easy." He lowered his head, in order to better observe Kiritsugu's face. "Did you know you are one of the only three surviving masters I can interrogate? Velvet Waver is a kid who knows nothing about this disaster, and Kotomine Kirei is a spawn of the Church, and as such, untrustworthy."

    "I suppose you are involved in the cover-up?" It was obvious that such a magical catastrophe had attracted the attention of the Association… and now they wanted to cover their tracks in order to keep the existence of magecraft a secret.

    "I am in charge of it," the Messenger replied. "This is causing us problems, and forces me to ask myself questions. All the Servants are reported dead, a Master should have won, and the vessel has vanished. The Holy Grail should have appeared. Obviously, it hasn't, and I want to understand why." He smiled. "Don't worry; I don't intend to silence you as long as you answer all my questions. If you do not, you and the boy shall vanish, never to be seen again. But, and I say but, if you prove yourself useful, the Association shall leave you in peace. Deal?"

    Had he even a choice? Kiritsugu frowned. Maybe it could also encourage the Association to destroy the whole thing? "The Grail… no, Angra Mainyu, is responsible for what happened. A dark force is lurking inside the Grail, an insidious will that wants to destroy everything. I had my Servant destroy the Grail with my Command Spells before it could be born… and the result was the fire."

    The Messenger stayed silent a few minutes.

    "So… does that mean you saved the world?"
    OOOOO
    The voice on the phone was distrustful. "Are you sure he isn't lying?"

    "Affirmative," the Messenger replied, grinning ear to ear. It had taken him years, but he had had finally convinced his rather traditionalist superior to try using phones – an achievement in itself, considering the average technological level of the Clocktower was at least a century behind the rest of the world. "You should have seen him, milord. He has obviously been broken by his experience. His adopted son is maybe the only thing he has left. He isn't the Magus Killer anymore, in my humble opinion."

    "I see." The voice became angry. "So it means the Fuyuki Grail has become a failure?"

    "I prefer the term of danger, milord," the Messenger replied. "I managed to get my hands on remnants of the… mud… that the Grail unleashed. My men confirmed it was a pure curse, given birth through the Grail's power. Kiritsugu's version of the events appears to be confirmed, but I'm pursuing the investigation, just in case."

    "I guess I should thank him for having prevented world-wide destruction," the voice chuckled, "Shut down the Grail, if it is confirmed."

    For a few seconds, the Messenger's mind stopped working. "Wait, what?"

    "You heard me well. Disable the Fuyuki Grail, if your investigation confirms Kiritsugu's version of the events. The Association cannot tolerate such threat, no matter what a few idiots might and will say. Any use of the Grail would only end with destruction and our secrets revealed. There are other ways to reach the Root and I am not sure if this Grail would open the way at all in its current state, or simply blow up. We can always reconstruct it, once Angra Mainyu is purged from it. At least, that's how I will present things. I'm sure Lorelei shall agree. A few fools might suggest we try to harness that devil's power, but fortunately, the higher-ups will be on our side."

    "I understand," the Messenger said. "What about the people involved?"

    "I don't care about Velvet or Kotomine. The Tohsaka have lost their head, and Tokiomi's daughter doesn't know most of her family's secrets. She is a nonentity. The Makiri worms shall be left to rot, and the Einzbern… they will have to surrender their new vessel and find themselves another land for their goal. They might be tempted to use the corrupted Grail. As for Emiya… is his son aware of his identity?"

    "According to my spies, he has informed him about being a magus, but I doubt he told him about his gruesome past."

    The voice laughed lightheartedly. "I can understand why. Hmm… very well, I might have a proposal for him… after you finish your work."
    OOOOO
    "Come on, please teach me!"

    "I already told you no, Shirou," Kiritsugu replied to his son, as they installed the TV. Now that it was finished, they needed to personalize it for themselves. "I refuse to teach you magecraft."

    His son looked depressed, but someone ringed at the door. "Excuse me," Kiritsugu said, as he left to open.
    His visitor was… rather unwelcome.

    "Hello again, Emiya Kiritsugu," the Messenger said, smiling. "May I enter?"

    "No," the Magus Killer replied, almost closing the door at the man's face. A foot in the way prevented him from doing so. "What do you want?"

    "To discuss with you, and make you a proposition for you and your son," the Messenger shot back calmly. "May I enter? After our discussion, you won't see me ever again, unless you want to."

    Kiritsugu frowned, but made a gesture, allowing the man to enter. Shirou looked at the newcomer, raising his eyebrows. "Who are you?"

    "A friend of your father," he lied, making Kiritusu glare at him. "I want to speak with him alone for now."
    "Shirou, leave us," the Magus Killer ordered with a tone leaving no place for contradiction. Half-heartedly, the boy obeyed. As they sat in the kitchen, Kiritsugu never lost sight of his guest. "So?"

    "My work is finished," the Messenger said. "Well, almost, I should say. The official reason behind the fire is a gas leak – Nothing more, nothing less. As for the real reason… my investigation and the study of the few remnants of the Grail we managed to secure more or less matched what you said. The Fuyuki Grail has become corrupted." He smiled. "And this is why my team is currently disabling the system."

    For a few minutes, Kiritsugu said nothing, amazed. "This is the truth?"

    "Yes. Fuyuki's wars end now. Angra Mainyu won't be born, ever." The Messenger stared at Kiritsugu's face. The Magus Killer couldn't know if it was a lie or not. "Aren't you happy?"

    "What about…" Ilya… "What about the Einzbern?"

    The Messenger joined his fingers. "Vanished. We have occupied their castle, and it is empty. I think they heard we wanted to secure the new vessel, to prevent them from repeating their mistake. We found no one. When we tried to interrogate the Makiri about it, we discovered their home empty as well. They even left their archives and gold inside." The Messenger smirked at Kiritsugu's face. "You seem… perturbed? Don't worry, Fuyuki is under supervision. It won't be used for another war."

    "What about the vessel?" Kiritsugu finally blurted.

    "Vanished as well," the Messenger said. "We are trying to locate them, and… We hoped it might interest you."
    Kiritsugu clenched his fist. "I won't serve the Association again."

    "Who asked you to? We just told you about it, as a gesture. Whether or not you participate in our investigation is of no concern to us. Your time is over, unless…" He deliberately left the sentence hanging, waiting for the Magus Killer's reaction, in vain.

    The sick bastard… was he aware of Kiritsugu's bond with Ilya? "Is that all?"

    "…no," the Messenger said, with a hint of disappointment in the voice. "My superior would like to thank you for preserving the existence of magecraft as a secret through your sacrifice. Not many would have done the same."

    "I don't care."

    "He does," the Messenger replied. "We know your son is aware of our existence. Do you intend to take him as your apprentice?"

    "No," Kiritsugu replied. "I don't wish to shape another Magus Killer. Why ask such a question?"

    "Well that's a darn shame," the Messenger said. "My superior would have offered to allow the boy to study at Clock Tower. Or offered him a private tutor, allowing you to both pursue your daughter and give your son a proper upbringing." The man noticed the Magus Killer's glare. "Why so hostile? Surprised? Of course the Association knows! The Einzbern boasted quite a lot about their 'perfect vessel'."

    "It is kind, but I still refuse," Kiritsugu said.

    The Messenger didn't hide his disappointment. "Truly a shame, but… the door is still open. The Association has a debt to you. You can ask for a single favor whenever you want." The man then rose up, saluting his host, and left.

    A hand prevented him from going on. "I am dying," Kiritsugu stated. "My body is in pain. I have not much time to live left in my bones. So you are going to grant me this favor now, with a promise." He lowered his eyes. "When I die, leave Shirou alone. I want him to have a peaceful existence, far from the path of the magus."

    The Messenger said nothing, but finally nodded. "I promise," he said, before vanishing. Only the slightest hint of prana in the air could have ever proven he was ever there.

    Kiritsugu hoped to never see him again. But what he had told him about Ilya was genuinely disturbing. If only he could find his child again…
    OOOOO
    "Old man," Shirou asked, under the moon. Kiritsugu couldn't even see him clearly anymore. His body was weak… so weak. "If you want to sleep, you should do it in your bed."

    Kiritsugu didn't move. "Right now," he chuckled, "I'm fine." It was a lie. The pain was increasing. He didn't have much time left. He stared at what he knew was the moon, now a pure, shapeless light. "When I was young… I wanted to be a hero…"

    "Wanted?" Shirou asked. "Did you give up?"

    "Yes…" he trailed off, feeling weak. The pain was slowly going away. It was sure now… this would probably be his last conversation with the boy. But… could he truly set him on the same path as his own? "I found it not worth to achieve. Because I took this path I lost someone dear to me. Now… she's somewhere in this world… and I can't find her."

    "Old man…" Shirou whispered. "What is her name?"

    "Ilyasviel…" Kiritsugu trailed off. "She was my daughter… but was taken from me. I don't know where she is. My life is now one of regrets… if I could… I would redo it from the beginning."

    As Shirou stayed silent, Kiritsugu saw the moon's shape becoming clearer. "The moon is beautiful tonight…"
    "Yeah," his son whispered. "You know what, old man? I will grant your wish."

    Kiritsugu stared at his son, who smiled. "You're an adult," Shirou said, determined. "Now, it's my time to help you. I promise it… I will allow you to relive your life. I will find your daughter. I will make your regrets go away. I will make your wish come true."

    "My… wish…?" Kiritsugu repeated. He smiled, and closed his eyes. "You already granted it."
    At that moment, Emiya Kiritsugu died peacefully.
    OOOOO
    You would be surprised how special words from the right person can change the wheel of history. Different advice, a differently worded offer to rule the world, rage-induced curses… all have shaped the fate of this world.

    And so, Shirou's route changed again, having gone through a new crossroad. The other roads he could have taken, some terrible, often incredibly glorious… they do not matter. Let us focus on this one, new road, instead.

    Kiritsugu's words led to his son having a different goal in life, both similar and dissimilar from his father's dream. It was one that would lead him to death and tragedy, but also to true heroism. Truly, the path of those who bear the name of Emiya is an interesting one. It is both a curse… and a blessing.

    And so, five years after saving someone and having found salvation, Kiritsugu died peacefully.
    And as for his son, he never forgot the promise he made, under the full moon.
    OOOOO
    The world was on fire.

    It was a powerful inferno, one where death rules almighty. Smoke and ashes were swirling around a dark structure; atop of it, a dark sun was calling him.

    This call was nothing like he had ever felt. He desired it. He wanted it. He was drawn to it.
    His hands raised, he tried to snatch the sinister sun, even as his body was melting.

    And when he finally seized it…

    "SHIROU! MAKE BREAKFAST!"

    Groaning, the teen left his futon and rose up onto his feet. That was the power of a tiger's call. "Yes, yes, here I come Fuji-nee!" Here we go again…he thought, quickly getting clothed. I guess I will have to take my shower after I feed her.

    "SHIROU!" His teacher roared, as he entered the kitchen. She was already waiting, flatware ready. "You let me wait? I'm hungry!"

    "Yes, yes, calm down," Shirou smiled gently, beginning to prepare the breakfast. The rather brutal awakening had left him with a severe headache, but he didn't care. He was almost used to his sensei's quirks. "Here," he said, giving her what to eat. "Enjoy yourself."

    "Yes!" Taiga chuckled, starting immediately. "You really know how to make me happy, Shirou-kun!"

    "Right…" the boy smiled, leaving to take a shower. His dyed hair stayed black, and he took his uniform. When he returned to the kitchen, Taiga stared at him in surprise. "You aren't going to eat anything?"

    "I'm not hungry," he replied with a laconic tone.

    His sensei frowned. "Shirou, when are you going to stop trying to be your father?"

    The teen stared at her. It wasn't the first time they'd had this conversation, but it was still surprising. Why couldn't she understand? "Why should I?"

    "Because it's creepy," Taiga whispered. "You have the same hairstyle, you dye your hair black, you act like him… I have the feeling of seeing Kiritsugu again when I see you. I know you respected and loved him, but isn't this is a bit too much?"

    "It is my way to honor his memory," Shirou replied emotionlessly. "It's just the way it is, Fuji-nee."

    They said no words after that. Shirou left early; being the vice-captain of the archery club, he had lots of work ahead of him. A thick, dense fog was covering the city that morning.

    On the way to school, Shirou thought about Taiga. She had a point; most people would see his behavior as unhealthy. The teen himself wasn't sure why he was still doing it. He had begun acting like that after his father's death. It was the method he'd found to make his father live again, and it started becoming natural. He had almost forgotten the original goal. Now, it was just the way things were.

    Taiga couldn't understand how he was feeling on the inside. That emptiness was beyond words. He had no personal dream or goal, just the promise he made to Kiritsugu. His hobbies didn't bring him any special joy. It was just a way of killing time.

    Emiya Shirou was desperately looking for any purpose in life, beyond granting Kiritsugu's last desires…
    Arriving at school, he went on to greet his captain, Ayako. She was a nice girl and an obvious tomboy, and the two went along rather well. The captain noticed her second-in-command and nodded at him politely. "Good morning, Kohai."

    "Good morning, Ayako-Senpai," the teen replied with a warm smile. "How are you today?"

    "Fine, fine," she said. "I still have funding problems, however. We have too many people this year and not enough bows."

    "I am sure Issei will correct the problem in time," Shirou pointed out. "The students do not complain much, however. Your work pays off, Senpai."

    "Thanks," Ayako smiled. "By the way, have you seen the news? Another person has been found dead this morning with her blood sucked."

    "I didn't," Shirou frowned. "It's the tenth victim this month. As if the gas leak incidents weren't enough, we have that serial killer in town. Still no info on him or her?"

    "No, the police are completely helpless," Ayako stated. "I am a bit afraid for the students. The night isn't safe anymore. The astronomy club's activities are suspended as a result."

    "It's a necessary evil," Shirou said, smiling. "Once that 'vampire killer' is caught, everything will go back to normal."

    "I hope…" Ayako suddenly seemed to remember something. "By the way, Ciel-senpai told me we have some new transfer students coming today, and Issei is currently making her visit the building. Would you kindly talk to them? They might be interested in archery."

    "No problem," he smiled, before frowning. "Ciel-senpai, you said? Who is that?"

    "A senior student," Ayako raised an eyebrow. "You don't know her?"

    "I don't even know how she looks like," he shrugged. "No big deal. I will go see the newcomers."

    Leaving Ayako, Shirou entered the school's building. It didn't take him long to find Issei. The blue-haired monk in training was talking to two people, both wearing the standard uniform. One was a dignified young lady with blue eyes and long black hair tied with a white headband. The other was a boy with short black hair, icy blue eyes, and glasses. He was the first to see Shirou coming, the girl and Issei quickly noticing him later.

    "Emiya, how are you?" Issei asked, before turning to the newcomers. "This is Emiya Shirou, the vice-captain of the archery club."

    "Nice to meet you all," Shirou gently greeted them. "Are you the transfer students? Welcome to Fuyuki, in that case."

    "Thank you," the girl said. "I am Tohno Akiha, and this is my brother Shiki."

    "Nice to meet you," he added.

    "You come in handy, Emiya," Issei began, coughing. "Sorry to ask that of you, but some furniture needs repair. Could you take care of it? I'm sorry to ask that, but I have no one else to rely on."

    "No problem," Shirou nodded, before stopping and staring at the two new students. "By the way, are you interested in archery?"

    "I excuse myself, but no," Akiha said, while Shiki simply moved his head in a negative gesture.

    "Too bad," the magus replied. Issei showed him the room with the broken objects, and Shirou asked to be left alone to focus better. In fact, he was going to use the little magecraft he knew, and didn't want to be disturbed.

    Fortunately, even if Shirou was a complete and utter failure as a magus, he was surprisingly good at analyzing objects and reinforcement. These basic abilities were useful… and the only ones he had.

    On his way out of the room, Shirou heard an argument in the corridor. Issei was groaning at Tohsaka Rin, with an unknown girl trying to play mediators. Rin was the honor student and the daughter of the prestigious Tohsaka family. A pretty girl with long black hair and blue eyes, Shirou had almost never talked to her. He sort of admired her from afar, like all guys in the school safe Issei, but knew she was way out of his league and would never befriend someone like him.

    The other girl, however, was a total unknown. She had short dark blue hair, probably dyed, cyan eyes, pale skin and a kind smile. Shirou was sure he had never seen her before.

    "Issei," he interrupted the argument, attracting everybody's attention. "I have finished." He stared at Rin and the unknown student. "Good morning, Tohsaka, and… whoever you are, miss."

    "Good morning Emiya-kun," Rin nodded politely, but she had stiffened. "Don't you remember my friend?"
    "I'm Ciel-senpai, Emiya-kun," the blue-haired girl smiled. "Don't you remember me?"

    "Absolutely not," he shot back, making her raise her eyebrows. "I have no idea of who you are, and I never saw you before."

    Both Ciel and Rin were frowning, while Issei shrugged. "Don't worry, it's just Emiya… he has trouble remembering people." That was an obvious lie, but as it helped him deal with an embarrassing situation, Shirou simply lifted his shoulders. It wasn't that important, anyway.

    The rest of the day happened without any other noteworthy event. Shiki and Akiha were introduced to the class without much problem. Shirou listened attentively, learning they were part of a rich family, and decided to install themselves in Fuyuki after their father's death. They seemed to make fast friends with the rest of the class. Ayako and Akiha went along rather well, in particular.

    After school, Shirou left without a word. Night was falling, and most people, afraid after the recent murders, were fewer in the street.

    Surprisingly, the fog didn't lift during the whole day, much to everyone's amazement. It was still as thick as ever at night.

    "Excuse me, mister," a Caucasian-looking teen with green eyes, short blonde hair told him in the street. He was wearing a red jacket with a black shirt underneath, and white boots. He was accompanied by two people: an old man with a grey beard and black eyes, wearing a green mantle and brown pants; and a dark-haired man in his twenties, with cold black eyes and a suit of the same color. "Do you happen to know the way to the Kusaku hotel? I'm afraid our GPS doesn't work anymore."

    "I know the way," Shirou nodded, happy to help people in need. The GPS problem wasn't surprising. Wi-fi and cell phones were working badly recently. The students talked about interferences and the like, among other suppositions. "Take the street at your left, then the next at your right. It is the biggest building, you can't miss it."

    "Thank you," the teen politely said, presenting him his hand. "I forgot to introduce myself. I am Leonardo Bistario Harway, and this is my retainer, Dan, and my bodyguard, Julius."

    "Pleased to meet you," the old man smiled, while the dark man simply nodded.

    "Don't worry about Julius, it is in his nature to always be focused on protecting me," Leonardo said almost monotonously.

    "The name is Emiya Shirou," the teen said, shaking hands with the blonde. "By the way… why do you need a bodyguard, Leonardo-san?"

    "My family has many formidable enemies," the young man replied. "And please, just call me Leo. I was happy to meet you, Shirou. I feel we will meet again very soon."

    After parting way with the blonde's group, Shirou went back home. Reaching his district, he noticed someone on the road he thought to be empty. There was a little girl with red eyes and silver hair wearing a blue outfit.
    She noticed him, and smiled. "You will die if you don't summon it soon, onii-chan," she told him with a warm grin, before leaving the astonished teen behind.

    When he returned home, he wondered what the hell was happening in his town.
    OOOOO
    It was in the middle of the night. A phone was dinging.

    Slowly awakening, Shirou stared at his surroundings. He was in his room, yes… and the house's phone was dinging. Shirou tried to ignore the thing and sleep.

    For more than fifteen minutes, the phone kept dinging nonstop.

    Getting up, tired as hell, the teen went into his house's main room, and took the phone. "Who is it?" he asked, still half-asleep.

    "Emiya Shirou," the voice was monotone, mechanical. It was obviously digitally modified. "Do you want to have your dearest wish fulfilled?"

    Shirou frowned. "Is this some kind of joke? It's past midnight."

    "Do you wish to find Ilyasviel?"

    The teen's blood froze in his veins. "What?" he whispered in surprise.

    "Do you wish to fulfill Emiya Kiritsugu's final, selfish desire, to find his daughter Ilyasviel?"

    "Who are you?" Shirou asked, deeply unsettled. "How do you know that?"

    "I await your answer, Emiya Shirou. Do you wish to find Ilyasviel?"

    "Yes, I do," the teen said. "Now, answer to-"

    "Are you ready to gamble your life for this wish? Are you ready to do whatever it takes to win your wish?"

    Shirou frowned. What kind of sick game was it? But his answer was obvious. "Yes, I am."

    "Then, you are now a Master of the Holy Grail War. Congratulations. I expect great things from you, Emiya Shirou. Do not disappoint me."

    The call ended at that moment.

    A few seconds passed where Shirou didn't move, perfectly still in his incomprehension. What was it? He wondered, putting the phone back in its place. That was really strang– IT HURTS!

    Compulsively, Shirou grabbed his right hand. It felt as if its back was burning… and it was shining in a red light? "What the…" the teen muttered, as red tattoos began to etch themselves onto his skin.

    In a few seconds, it was over. The pain went away. Three crimson marks, adopting the shape of a sword, were carved on his skin.

    Then, they shone with the brightest crimson.

    The flash of red light blinded Shirou temporarily, forcing him to close his eyes. When the light weakened, he opened them again…

    … only to see an angel.

    It was a petite, pretty woman with blonde hair and green eyes. She had a pale skin, and was wearing a blue and white armor. There was an aura of dignity surrounding her, and her face was shaped into an expression of majesty.

    "I ask of thee," she started. "Are you my master?"

    Shirou had only one answer in stock.

    "What?"
    OOOOO
    With a smile, Makiri Zouken sat in his old seat.

    During his exile, he really missed his mansion. Fortunately, the Magus Association didn't destroy it. They had plundered what he hadn't taken with him when he left, but the place was mostly intact. Maybe they were waiting for him to return?

    "Magus," the deep voice of Assassin reached his ears. "The signal has been sent. All Servants have a Master now. The war has officially begun."

    "So soon?" Zouken smirked. "That was most unexpected. It truly is fast. I would have liked to rest a bit, but it seems the new Grail is hungry for blood."

    Assassin stiffened. "Magus, something isn't right. That artificial fog wasn't planned. Some contestants I have located and identified do not fit in a war of magi. I fear for our victory."

    The Makiri patriarch shrugged. "You worry too much, old man in the mountain. We, the Makiri clan, have prepared this war for the last ten years, as have the Einzbern family. The fog is just an unplanned, ignorable side-effect. And so long as we have Sakura, we cannot lose."

    "Mark my words, magus: overconfidence will get you killed in time."

    "Anyway, has Shinji finished preparing the material?" Zouken asked. The killer simply nodded. "You seem a bit disturbed."

    "Pointless pain does not fit in my profession," Assassin replied. "I would prefer what the girl is going through did not happen."

    "It has to."

    "Your grandson does not have to be this violent with her," the killer shot back. Then, he decided to switch subjects. "The priest has taken another Servant. His former Master is now feeding the golden Archer in the Church's basement, like a dozen of tortured children."

    "We will deal with Kotomine in time," Zouken said. "For now, we will accelerate the war's development. Order Shinji to empower Sakura's Servant with souls."

    "I will," Assassin said, vanishing.

    Zouken, now alone in his manor, allowed himself a brief sleep.

    In spite of the Association's best efforts, a new Holy Grail War had just started, one that he would win.

    OOOOO
    Sitting in the kitchen, a cup of coffee in front of him, Shirou massaged his temples. "So… your name is Saber, right?"

    "This is the name of my class, Master," she replied, touching her own cup with her armored gauntlet. "My real name… revealing it might be dangerous to you, as another magus might probe your mind and use it to gain the advantage."

    Shirou frowned. "Could you… stop calling me Master, Saber? I'm not your boss. Just… just call me Shirou."
    Saber frowned briefly, but then smiled a bit. "Alright… Shirou."

    The teen stared at his hand. "So… this is the mark of a Master? That I participate in a war for a legendary relic?"

    "The Holy Grail we are talking about isn't the recipe of the blood of the son of God, Shirou," Saber replied. "It is… an omnipotent device, able to grant any wish made by the one touching it. Only one can do it: the winner of the Holy Grail War. This is a trial with an absolute prize in sight. The winning Master and his or her Servant gain everything, while the losers have all their hopes destroyed."

    "So…" Shirou drank half his cup. "Servants, heroes from the past, are summoned to work with a partner, the Master? Then, they fight each other?"

    Saber nodded. "There are seven Servant classes: Saber, the swordsman, my class. Lancer, the spearman. Rider, the cavalier. Archer, the bowman. Caster, the mage. Assassin, the killer. And Berserker the mad warrior. Normally, only one is summoned for each class is summoned, but it doesn't seem to be the case."

    "What do you mean?" Shirou asked with worry.

    "Well… to be honest, I already participated in a previous war ten years ago, the fourth one," Saber stated, attracting Shirou's undivided attention. "Today's war is the fifth. The rules are… different."

    "Different? How can you know?"

    "All Servants, when summoned, receive information on the modern world to better adapt, alongside an innate understanding of the war's rules," Saber explained, drinking her cup. "The rules imprinted in my mind are different from the ones of the previous war. From what I understand, seven Servants for each class are now summoned… which means that there are a total of forty-nine Masters in this war."

    "All in Fuyuki?" Shirou blinked.

    "This is the battlefield chosen for the war," the lady nodded. "The fog covering the city appears to be a powerful spell set to keep the city isolated from the outside world, until a victor is designed. I can't say for sure, its existence wasn't imprinted in my mind. No one can leave Fuyuki City as long as the war lasts. This is probably why all your means of communications do not work well, anymore."

    "I see…" Shirou trailed off. "But… isn't it possible to settle the matter peacefully, instead of slaughtering each other? I mean, maybe we can choose the one making the wish."

    Saber shook her head. "Shirou, would you accept it if one Master's wish was to take over the world? All Masters have different wishes that oppose each other. To make things worse, one of the new rules outright prevents any peace between Masters."

    The teen stared at her with gravity. "What do you mean?"

    "Formerly, the rule to win the war was: only one Servant can remain standing," Saber stated. "All Masters could live, as long as only one Servant remained. Some Masters could even withdraw. Whoever made the new rules decided to make it an impossible resolution."

    "So what changed?" the magus had a bad feeling, suddenly.

    "Now, all the people branded by the Command Seals must fight for only one can remain standing." Saber stared into Shirou's eyes. "Because now, the Grail will only appear when all Masters save one are dead. No matter what happens, in the end, forty-eight people will die for one person's wish."

    At that moment, not even the sudden arrival of a half-asleep Taiga in the kitchen changed Shirou's horrified expression.
    OOOOO
    A/N: the 'Master kills Master' rules has NOTHING to do with powering the Grail. The reasons behind are very, very different (because yes, there are more than one reason behind).

    The unusually high number of Servants also has an explanation in-universe, as well as many other strange things like the fog.

    As you have maybe guessed, this war's is full of mysteries. Uncovering the truth on what is happening and how is one of the main plot. On a side note, I always wondered why the Association didn't launch an investigation... I mean, the Fourth War was maybe the deadliest of them all, with Mr. Gilles de Rais and the fire...

    Also, you will see multiple characters from the Nasuverse and Servants from all Fate continuities (except Fake and Prototype...), including Fate Zero, Apocrypha, EXTRA... However, having not played Fate H/A, the Melty Blood series, and the newest Visual Novel on Aoko's backstory, don't expect characters like Sion or Caren to appear on-screen, as I don't think I will be able to make them in character.

    So, what do you think of it?
  2. Stormwind Yuusha Destron

    Seems a bit stretching my Suspension of disbelief, but I can't quite place my finger on why.

    I'll refrain from further comments until I see some more chapters.
  3. harouki Calling it now. Neo is Best Girl.

    Why did Ciel introduce herself as Ciel-senpai?

    Did she do that in the Tsukihime game cuz you don't introduce yourself with an honorific if you're a normal person
  4. jo demon Vy hello dere.

    This reminds me of a Rp I'm in with the 49 servants and 7 of each class. Is saint George going to be a rider.
  5. Stormwind: For the next chapter, it is finished, but I hoped to have more opinion on the subject so I could improve it. But if it is needed for said opinion I think I will publish it tomorrow then.

    harouki: Ciel is not a normal person ;)

    jo demon : er, do you have the name? I would like to take a look at it. For Saint George, probably Rider yes.
  6. harouki Calling it now. Neo is Best Girl.

    Then she's terrible at blending into a Japanese society.

    She should be ashamed of herself.
  7. Angelform Celestia’s messenger

    What do I think?
    Meh.

    Without a hell of a lot more info there simply isn’t enough to judge. Although given you have captured Shirou so well I am not hopeful. Doubly so with a cast of almost 100 to account for.

    Something to note: the state of secrecy (or whatever they call it) just got blown to smithereens. Noone is going to be able to cover up an entire city literally vanishing for a couple of weeks.
  8. jo demon Vy hello dere.

    Its on Fanfiction.net called Fate ultra. You can create a master or a servant in the war.
  9. Ars Poetica Judaic-Buddhist... WITH FLAMING SWORD AND SHIELD~!

    Every bit of awesome I thought it was when I was acting as Beta. Congrats, Void Herald... or Kagaseo. Nicely done.
  10. Harouki: she's the only french person with the name Ciel in the world, she's the only person of a tea club, she smells people for odors... everybody would find her odd, without her Mystic Eyes.

    Angelform: for the cast, not everybody will be a main character. Many, many Servants and Masters will have a minor role or be killed quite quickly (with people like Gilgamesh or Heracles in town, this is bound to happen). For the secrecy, the organizers just want no one in, no one out for the duration of the war, and stall for time until the Association starts an investigation. As long as there is a winner, they don't care if Fuyuki vanishes from the map and will make it very, very clear.

    Jo Demon: thanks, I will take a look at it.
  11. To help readers make a better idea of the story, I post this chapter containing some action. Next one will take a week, however.

    Disclaimer: thanks, Ars Poetica, for Betaing. I don't own any Type-Moon material.

    Day Two
    Whirlpool of Fate

    "Shirou…" Taiga said sleepily, observing Saber. "There is a woman in your kitchen."

    "It's just a dream, Fuji-nee," the teen smiled, crossing his fingers. "You are just dreaming."

    "Ah, ok," she replied, taking water in the refrigerator, and she left as quickly as she came. "I can't believe I'm dreaming of Shirou doing dirty things in the kitchen."
    Shirou sighed once her out of sight. "Well, that was unexpected…"

    "Who was it?" Saber asked softly.

    "My teacher and guardian," the Master replied before quickly switching the subject. "Saber… does this mean no one can surrender?"

    "No," the Servant replied with a hint of sorrow, "All the people branded with the Command Seals must die. You cannot give them to others. When you made the choice to participate, the option of abandoning vanished."

    "I didn't know I would have to kill others," he snapped. But then, he remembered the phone. What it takes to win my wish… he thought. That was what it meant! And I accepted like the idiot I am.

    "I am not happy with it either," Saber replied. "But, unfortunately, it is the way things are. As your Servant, I will protect you from your enemies. I will be your shield and sword."

    Shirou didn't answer. "Thanks," he finally said, inwardly wishing it was a nightmare. "By the way, it appears you are going to stay there for a time. Your armor seems… heavy. I think Fuji-nee has some clothes that might work for you."

    "Thank you," Saber said with a nod.

    After a quick search, he ended up giving Saber a white collared shirt with long sleeves, a blue skirt, black tights, and brown boots. Then, to her amazement, he turned around to leave the room. "Shirou, what are you doing?"

    "Isn't it obvious? I'm giving you some privacy."

    "I am a Servant, Shirou," Saber said. "It would be better if you considered me a sword and not a human."

    "It might be better, but I won't do it," he replied with a tone that clearly conveyed the finality of his decision. "You are no weapon, Saber. You are a person, no matter how you perceive yourself."

    Saber didn't argue, probably still astonished at his actions. Shirou inwardly frowned. Was it really that surprising for her? What kind of life had she lived, if this was the case?

    After a moment, Shirou observed the newly clothed Saber. Her armor had vanished, probably through some kind of Magecraft, and now she looked… almost normal. "Perfect," he whispered. "I'll show you to the guest room."

    Saber looked downright troubled. "Shirou, I can't sleep away from you. I would prefer to stay in your room, in case of an attack."

    There was only one possible answer to this. "No," he said, "Just… just, no."

    "Why?" She apparently couldn't get it. "I must be able to protect you all the time."

    "You are a girl, I am a boy," he spoke as if it explained everything. To him, it probably sufficed.

    "I already told you, I am a sw-"

    "No, Saber," Shirou shot back. "You are a person and will be treated as such. That's final. My decision cannot be changed."

    The Servant frowned in displeasure. "You are a very stubborn person."

    "It's my life story."


    Break

    Her land was in ruin.

    Her kingdom died with her. The red knight had destroyed it all. Leaving only pain and destruction behind. Even in death, he won. Soon, she would follow him to the grave.

    Her sword had returned to the Lady of the Lake. Her body would rest forever, on a holy island. But her people would only know destruction. She had failed them, as a king.
    If only someone else could have replaced her. If only her failures had never happened. She needed... help. She needed... to see her wish fulfilled.

    She needed a miracle.

    In the morning, Shirou woke up a bit earlier, mainly to prepare a breakfast for three, and to chase that strange dream from his mind. After taking his shower and clothes, he stared through the windows.

    The fog was still as thick as last day.

    Preparing food in the kitchen, Shirou was surprised to see Saber being the first one up. She didn't seem to hold a grudge against him for last night's argument… She nodded at him. "Good morning, Shirou."

    "Good morning, Saber. What would you like to eat?"

    "I am not picky," she stated, Taiga entering the kitchen at the same instant. After saying good morning, she went very still, her eyes moving from Saber to Shirou.
    "Good morning, Fuji-nee," the teen smiled.

    "Am I still dreaming?" she asked with a sigh.

    "No. You're awake."

    Taiga shrugged, "I didn't think you were like that, Shirou. Who is she?"

    "Saber," he replied. "She's a friend of my father. She came to visit us once she learnt he had passed away." The lie was simple, and believable. Kiritsugu knew many people overseas. "She will be staying here for a time."

    "I was shocked to learn Kiritsugu had died," Saber said. "You have my condolences."

    Shirou frowned. He never dropped his father's name. How could she know? Crossing gaze with his Servant, he clearly read into her thoughts. I will explain later, her looks conveyed.

    "Well, I see no reason why you shouldn't stay," Taiga smiled. She obviously wanted to ask a few questions, but she seemed to restrain herself. "Welcome in the household, Saber-san."

    Saber and Taiga went along well, and proved to be quite similar. Both were good with swords… and big eaters. In spite of her thin appearance Saber could eat a lot. This war would ruin his bank account because of that, or so Shirou thought.

    After breakfast, both Shirou and Saber left for the school, very early. In fact, the teen just wanted an explanation with his Servant. "You knew my father, right?" he guessed, as he tried to find his way through the fog.

    "Yes," Saber replied, before dropping a bomb. "He was my Master in the previous Holy Grail War, ten years ago."

    Shirou stopped walking in the middle of the street. His mind cranked at full speed to connect the dots. "The fire… it's a result of the war!" He swore. "That's why he was present!"

    "… Shirou?"

    "What happened, exactly?" Shirou asked, "Tell me everything."

    Saber lowered her eyes, before raising her head. "Kiritsugu summoned me on the behest of the Einzbern family, to fight in the Fourth War. We managed to make it to the last phase of the conflict, but the final enemy Servant ambushed me while I was at my weakest. Kiritsugu used a Command Spell to make me destroy the Grail… I'm not sure why he did it. Maybe he preferred to destroy it rather than fail to retrieve it, I think. Perhaps it was a simple act of spite. Either way, without the Command Spells and the Grail to sustain me, I vanished soon after that."

    "Used a Command Spell?" Shirou repeated, while thinking about his father. Why didn't Kiritsugu tell him about that? Maybe it was so he could live in peace?
    "The marks on your hand allow you to give me three orders I cannot refuse, even to the point of breaking the laws of reality," Saber explained. "Even in the event that I am on the other side of the planet, if you command me to be at your side, I will appear no matter how impossible it seems. But… technically, you have only two orders."

    "Why's that?" Shirou asked, before realizing the problem. "Oh… I see. It would mean that I am not a Master anymore."

    "In the previous war, that wouldn't be a problem. But in this war, if all Command Spells are used, you will die on the spot," Saber nodded. "I told you there would be no turning back."

    The Master sighed. No way out, eh? "So you guessed I was Kiritsugu's son by my last name?"

    "Your appearance also helped," Saber smiled. "You look a lot like him. The last name just confirmed my suspicions. But I didn't know he had a son."

    "He adopted me after I lost my parents in a fire that destroyed Fuyuki, ten years ago," he explained.

    Saber frowned visibly at that. "I am sorry."

    "Why? It happened," Shirou said. "You had nothing to do with it, no?"

    "Shirou, it was certainly a side-effect of the war, or the destruction of the Grail," Saber replied with sorrow in her voice. "I might very well have caused that destruction."

    "Might have," Shirou emphasized, "There is no way we will never know the details, I'm afraid. Anything could have caused that fire, not just you." He raised his head at the shrouded sky. "How… how was my father, before the fire?"

    Saber seemed to struggle to find words. "Cold," she said. "He wanted to win, no matter the cost. He talked to me on only three occasions."

    Command Spells? "He never spoke to you outside the spells?" Shirou asked, unable to believe it.

    "Yes. The rest of the time, he talked at me." Saber sighed. "There was no room for discussion with him. He ordered and I had to obey. He was ready to commit atrocious acts to win, like killing enemies that had surrendered."

    "That's… not how he was," Shirou said. "He was always kind. He said… he wanted to be a hero."

    Saber put a hand on his shoulder. "I know this is hard to accept, but the Kiritsugu I worked with was not a respectable man," she told him. "Perhaps you changed him?"

    "I wish," he said, remembering his father's last words. "Also… What do you know about Ilyasviel?"

    "Who," wondered Saber, "I don't-"

    "My father's daughter," he said. "He lost track of her long ago. I… I promised I would find her. That's why I accepted to participate – To grant my father's last wish."
    Saber stayed silent a moment. "That was very noble of you, Shirou," she spoke. Somehow, Shirou felt he had gained the woman's respect. "I met Kiritsugu's daughter once, but I never learned her name. She was a small child at the time. Her mother was very gentle and mature."

    "What did she look like?"

    "Well… she was a special kind of homunculus, born from a human father and a homunculus mother," Saber said. "As such, her appearance was very unique. She had a fair skin, red eyes, and long silver hair."

    Exactly like… Shirou suddenly felt his blood freeze in his veins. "I saw her."

    "What?"

    "I saw her," he repeated. "The night I summoned you, I met a girl that was maybe ten years old, I think. She matched that description perfectly." He massaged his temples. "I met her, and I missed her. Damn it! What a fool!"

    "Shirou," Saber stated. "It can't be her. Think about it. The age doesn't fit. She should be an adult by now. The person you saw was probably one of the Einzbern family's homunculi. They all have the same design."

    "It…" he thought about it, "Yeah… Yeah, you're right. The age doesn't fit at all," he pondered out loud, "Homunculus, you said?"

    "Artificial human, if you prefer," the Servant explained. "The Einzbern family makes almost perfect homunculi, most of them having a similar appearance. The family participated in all of the wars, and it seems this one isn't an exception. Homunculi are generally their bodyguards, or Masters."

    "So the girl I saw was a Master?"

    "Maybe," Saber guessed, before frowning. "This is strange. You are a weak magus, aren't you?"

    "You don't need to be so blunt," Shirou complained. "But, yes, I am an utter failure as a magus. Why ask?"

    "To maintain a form in this world, Servants need a supply of prana," Saber stated. "I realized last night that yours wasn't enough to make me act as full power. My strength is limited, and I need to get prana through other means, like food, or body fluid exchanges with you."

    "You mean, like blood transfusion?"

    "Or making love," she added with a flat tone, making him blush heavily. "But… I do not think it will be needed."

    YES! He thought, even if a part of him was still a bit disappointed. Curse his raging hormones! "What do you mean?"

    "My prana is regenerating," Saber explained. "I think it's the fog. The effect is limited and slow, but it naturally supplies me with prana. Not much, but enough to allow me to stay in this world without much effort. It might be one of the new rules, but… it isn't imprinted in my mind. Strange."

    They finally arrived at the school after that. They were obviously the first at the school. There wasn't a sound…

    A body was lying at the gate.


    Break

    "So, you really saw no one on your way here?" the policeman asked again.

    "No," Shirou replied. Saber had left after they called the police. It had taken three tries for the cell phone to work. The interferences were getting worse. "I just found him at the gate. I brought him down and tried to reanimate him, but… when I saw the hole in his back, I realized I was way too late."

    The policeman nodded. "You did what you could, kid," he said. His colleagues were inspecting the scene while doctors were examining the body. Students and teachers were waiting in front of barriers obviously wondering what was happening.

    But, Shirou knew what had happened. When he brought the dead man to the ground, he had noticed the marks on his hand.

    That man, whoever he was, had become the war's first casualty.

    "I've finished examining him," a man with a white blouse said. He had short black hair and eyes, and glasses. "Should I give the report?" he asked, looking at Shirou in obvious worry.

    "Go on, I don't mind," he said. The policeman simply nodded.

    "The subject had his heart pierced," the doctor said. "If the form of the wound is of any indication, I think it might have been a spear or some other pole-arm. The wound was very precise. The killer must have had a lot of practice. However, unlike the other victims, he didn't have his blood sucked."

    "So you imply the killer is different, Twice?" the policeman asked. "Great. As if one lunatic wasn't bad enough, we've got another one at large." He sighed.

    "Boss," another policeman interrupted the discussion. "A few people would like to talk to the boy. One is claiming to be his guardian, and others are just classmates."

    "I see no reason to keep him any longer," the policeman chief said, before staring at the doctor, "Twice, please bring the boy to his friends. Also, kid, the school is closed as long as the investigation is going on. We might contact you again, so please give us your address."

    The doctor, Twice, accompanied Shirou, but started whispering something. "Emiya Shirou, is that is your name?"

    "Yes," he replied.

    "The Command Spells on you hand," he said, making Shirou pale, "Hide them carefully if you don't want to follow that man to the grave. Gloves would be good. It is a war. You would better remember it if you want to survive."

    Before Shirou could reply, the man left him at the security barriers and returned to the crime scene. A few students immediately started surrounding and asking him questions. He kept his hands in his pockets, just in case.

    "I just discovered the body, ok?" he snapped. "I have no idea what happened!"

    "That's enough," one of the teachers spoke. It was Souichirou Kuzuki, the history teacher. An imposing, austere man with black eyes and hair, he was wearing a dark green suit. "Everyone is disturbed by the event. As school is closed for the time, you should all return home."

    The tone made everyone obey.

    "Thank you, sensei," Shirou said, while the man simply nodded.

    "It is natural. I know what it is to see death for the first time," he replied ominously, before vanishing as well.

    Leaving the school, having explained to Taiga that he preferred to be alone for the time being, Shirou wandered through the districts, waiting for Saber to return. Eventually, his Servant reappeared. "Are you alright, Shirou?"

    "No," he replied. "The man… it was a Master. He was killed by a spearman."

    "A Lancer Servant," Saber guessed.

    "And… one of the doctors knows," Shirou whispered. "He knows I am a Master."

    His Servant's expression turned dark. "Shirou, from now on, you are not leaving my sight. Ever. Find an excuse to justify my presence at your side, but you shall be under my watch at all times."

    Shirou really hoped it was a nightmare. How was he supposed to explain to his friends why she was always at his side? He could already imagine their embarrassing questions. But he understood, and accepted her decision. "How might I justify this?"

    "I might play the bodyguard," Saber said.

    "I shouldn't need any. And the police might ask questions."

    "Then," his Servant frowned. "Pretend I am your wife."

    "…are you serious?" Shirou asked, his mind blown.

    "I am completely serious. This would give me an excuse to stay at your side all the time without having to answer insolent questions."

    "Okay, to be clear, I am too young to have a bride," he pointed out, "A girlfriend, however? Maybe," He shrugged. "There is no way out, is there?"

    "No." Her gaze was full of determination. "Is there a problem?"

    "No, no," he said, shaking his head. "I mean, you are beautiful and all… it just makes me uncomfortable."

    "Shirou," Saber said, holding his hand, making him blush heavily. "This is just during the war's time. I know it might disturb you, and such deception bothers me too, but it is necessary for your safety."

    "Alright, alright…" Shirou whispered.

    Saber didn't let go of his hand after that.


    Break

    Waiting on her sofa, Rin savored her Servant's tea. "Archer, this is quite good."

    "Excellent would be a better word," Ciel commented, smiling. "Are you sure you don't want to join my tea club?"

    "I'm afraid becoming a school student isn't one of my priorities, Ciel-san," the Servant replied. A dark-skinned man with white hair and grey eyes, Archer was wearing a red overcoat and a black outfit underneath.

    "It might be, Archer," Kotomine Kirei said, entering the room, much to Rin's displeasure. Her guardian was tall, had brown hair and eyes, was wearing a black bishop uniform with a blue overcoat… and was a total ass. "If one Master is hiding at the school, as we suspect, infiltration will become necessary. The victim has been confirmed to be a Master."

    "It is probably Emiya Shirou," Rin guessed. "First, he is completely immune to Ciel-san's Mystic Eyes, and second, he is the first one to have called the police after the murder. Maybe it was to cover his tracks and fake innocence?"

    "I doubt it," Ciel stated, "A normal murderer, maybe. But a Master? Calling the police attracted a lot of attention to him, a thing no Master wants. If he has used a Servant to kill that Master, he wouldn't need to cover his tracks. But his resistance to my Mystic Eyes… even experienced magi should be troubled at least a bit. He wasn't even affected."

    "Maybe Emiya is a Servant himself," Archer joked, Rin refraining herself from scolding him.

    "He might have been replaced by a shapeshifter of some sort," Kirei smiled. "I crossed path with a similar Servant in the last war. But, even if he probably isn't responsible for the murder, I am convinced he is a Master."

    "Why so, Kotomine-senpai?" Ciel asked.

    "During the last war, I fought a ruthless Master whose name was Emiya Kiritsugu," the fake priest explained. "As he shares a last name with your colleague, I assume they are related. The chances Shirou-san was chosen as a Master himself are very high. It might explain his resistance to Ciel's Mystic Eyes, if his Servant can protect him from mental interferences discreetly."

    "Kirei," Rin cut in, "Have you managed to contact the Association or the Church?"

    "I failed," the man admitted as he finally sat. "My own familiars failed at exiting the fog, and modern means of communication have been rendered useless. The Association's magi watching Fuyuki are all missing, probably dead. I am afraid we are on our own… and facing an illegal Holy Grail War."

    "Illegal?" Archer raised an eyebrow.

    "The Association shut down the Grail system after the Fourth War," Rin explained, much to her Servant's surprise. She was happy that the events that caused her father's death wouldn't happen again, but a part of her regretted not having the chance to honor her family's memory by winning the war. So when the Command Spells appeared on her hand the previous day… "This war shouldn't happen, and is therefore illegal."

    "Oh, that explains why the rules imprinted in my mind are different from those taught to you," her Servant nodded, "It's crazy."

    "Kirei, be honest," Rin spoke. "Is there a way to abort this war?"

    "If there is one, I do not know it," he said, with a frown. "Didn't you dream about finally winning a war and restoring the Tohsaka's reputation?"

    "Not like this," she said. "This is a dirty war, with people forced to die and having no option out. I will find no glory in winning it."

    "There is no such a thing as a clean war," Archer shrugged, while Rin ignored him. She wanted to shut up that mouth of his so much it wasn't funny… a pity she couldn't afford to waste any Command Spell.

    "I already told you, Roa is the key," Ciel stated. "This is no coincidence he just happened to manifest in this town right when the war began. He is obviously linked to it, if not its cause."

    Kirei scoffed. "I will help you exorcise the Dead. That will force him to act or attack to get rid of us."

    "Thank you, Kotomine-senpai," Ciel nodded.

    "I humbly suggest we investigate Emiya," Archer spoke, "He might be a future opponent and gathering information on him would always be useful."

    "For once, you're giving good advice," Rin noted.

    "I always have good advice, it's just that you don't listen," Archer smirked, unfazed by Rin's angered expression.


    Break

    His cell phone didn't work, anymore – not at all.

    It was sure now. No reception. "Truly, this fog's power is impressive," Shirou stated, entering a commercial center, Saber following. "I can't even inform Fuji-nee that I'll be late."

    "You want to do… groceries, Shirou?" his Servant wondered. "We should make reserves, in case you have to stay sheltered at home for a long time."

    Her Master nodded. Plus, Saber and Taiga needed a lot of sustenance.

    However, he quickly discovered he wasn't the only one doing groceries.

    "Emiya!" Issei said upon noticing him. He was accompanied by Kuzuki and a beautiful woman. "Nice to meet you! Your friend, too."

    "Hello, Issei, Kuzuki-sensei, lady-san," Shirou said.

    "Are you Shirou-kun?" the woman asked. She had long blue hair covering her ears, and cyan eyes. She was graceful and beautiful, wearing a blue jacket, with a black shirt underneath, and a brown skirt. "Issei talked a lot about you." She crossed gaze with Saber, and the temperature dropped noticeably.

    "I am Saber," Shirou's Servant introduced herself, "Nice to meet you."

    "My name is Caster," the woman smiled, making Shirou pale. She's a Servant! Does that mean…

    "I didn't know you had a companion too," Kuzuki told him, confirming his suspicions. Fortunately, Issei was completely unaware of the situation. "This is a strange coincidence."

    "Indeed," Shirou nodded.

    "Issei-san, please, I think you forgot our money in the car," Caster said to the student president, whose gaze seemed empty of will. "Could you return and grab it?"
    "Of course, Caster-san," the teen said, obeyed the obvious spell.

    Once he left, Shirou stared at his teacher. "Hard to believe you are a Master, too."

    "The surprise is mutual," Kuzuki stated. "And unfortunate, as it means we will be enemies next time we meet. Issei will be saddened by your death."

    "A pity we will have to kill a nice boy like you, Emiya-kun," Caster said, before staring at Saber. "You also have such a beautiful defender."

    "I will slay you both before you can touch him," the swordswoman replied defiantly, putting herself between her master and the duo.

    "A fight there would attract too much attention," Kuzuki stated calmly. "We are both here for groceries. Let us call a ceasefire until our task is finished."

    Shirou reluctantly nodded. "Sensei, we don't even have to fight at all."

    "We have no choice," the man replied, showing the teen his forearm. Three Command Spells in the form of circles were drawn on his skin. "They made sure of it. This war made sure of it. My priority is to stay alive, Emiya… even if I have to kill you."

    "My, my," a voice said, attracting everyone's attention. "It seems fate has a strange sense of humor, Emiya."

    "Leo?" The teen's eyes had widened. The blonde was followed by a tall man with the same hair and eyes color as the Harway, and wearing a white suit.

    When he saw Saber… "My king?" he muttered.

    "Sir Gawain?" Saber's jaw dropped.

    "To find two Masters there was unexpected," Leo said, before looking at the man called Gawain. "Do you know her?"

    "I would never be able to forget the king I failed," he replied, bowing slightly in front of Saber. "I am both blessed and ashamed to see you again, King Arthur – Blessed to be in your presence, ashamed not to have served you well enough."

    Shirou's jaw dropped, quickly imitated by Caster. "WHAT?"

    "Sir Gawain, I am happy to see one of my knights in this time," she stared at Leo. "You appear to have found a new lord."

    "Yes," Gawain nodded, before looking at Shirou. "If you are the King's Master, then you must be a certainly noble soul. I am truly honored to meet you, Sir Emiya."

    "Eh… same thing," Shirou smiled. "You're Leo's Servant?"

    "I am surprised," Leo shook hands with Shirou. "If our Servants are related, it must mean we have many things in common. I was correct in thinking we would meet again."

    "A reunion of the Round Table," Caster spat scornfully, "Disgusting."

    Gawain glared at her. "You have no right to look down on knights, Medea the witch." Caster didn't bother to hide her surprise. "I heard of your legend during my travels in Europe, and I saw gravures of you. Your crimes cannot be forgotten, even centuries after you committed them."

    "You know nothing about me," Medea spat, taking her Master's hand. "May we leave, Souichirou-sama?"

    Kuzuki nodded, but sent one last stare towards Shirou. "I hope you know what is needed to win, Emiya," he stated. "Otherwise, your death shall come quickly."

    Observing them leaving, Shirou then turned to face Leo. "So… we are both Masters."

    "Yes, and it appears our Servants share the same class," Leo added, "And they both belong to the Knights of the Round Table. The Grail has a twisted sense of humor, to make former companions fight this way."

    "I am sorry, King Arthur," Gawain stated, closing his eyes. "I wish we could fight together, again. But my oath to my Master, Leo, prevents me from doing so. I shall be forced to duel your liege in time."

    "We both will have to dirty our hands with blood, Sir Gawain," Saber replied. "Protect your liege as much as you can. I do not blame you for honoring your oath of fealty."

    "Wait, just wait," Shirou cut in. "Am I the only one thinking we can avoid slaughtering each other?"

    Leo observed the Emiya closely. "I think I understand why you were chosen as King Arthur's Master," he stated. "You have a pure heart. But this is simply the law of the Grail. We will have to fight to grant our own respective wishes. Yet, it doesn't mean we cannot be friendly towards each other." He turned around. "It is unfortunate, but I have to leave. Julius is probably looking for me, and if he finds you, you will be killed. His Servant shall eliminate you in a blink to increase my chances of winning, even if I tell him not to. He is too stubborn."

    "…your bodyguard is a Master?" Shirou paled.

    "As is Dan," Leo stated. "Do not worry, as fellow knights, our Servants shall duel honorably. I will make sure of it."

    "…why?" Shirou asked. "Why do you want us to fight?"

    "Because I am to be the perfect king," Leo replied. "That is my sincerest wish. A king cannot afford emotions. This is the only path, Emiya."
    Saber frowned at that.

    As he left, Gawain bowed in front of Saber and Shirou. "I look forward to seeing you again, my former king – and you too, Sir Shirou. I hope we may talk as friends, and not as enemies."

    "The feeling is mutual," Saber added, as the knight left, leaving the duo alone.

    "…So… King Arthur?" Shirou whispered, attracting his Servant's attention. "The Celtic king of legends…? Aren't you supposed to be a… well, a man?"

    "My true name is Arturia," she whispered. "And… this is a long story." She seemed lost in her thoughts. "I didn't expect to have my name revealed so soon."
    "You don't have to tell me your story if you don't want to," Shirou stated with a smile. "Take your time."

    Saber smiled. "Thank you, Shirou."


    Break

    Putting his pants on again and getting the Book of False Attendant, Makiri Shinji turned around and enjoyed the spectacle.

    His Servant, Rider, was awesome. She was slowly drinking the blood of a random woman, eating her soul along the way. Her clothes were ripped apart, Shinji having previously plundered her body for all its worth.

    "With you, Rider, I cannot lose!" Shinji smirked, as the purple haired gorgon finished her dinner. The night had just begun, and she would eat far more. "Now, let's find another victim…"

    By magic, a humanoid form appeared in the fog. Shinji smirked, his wish granted. "Oi!" He shouted. "Ready for-"

    "Ready for a kill?" a male voice asked. A man emerged from the fog, wearing a blue kimono. His hair was like silver, and his eyes… his eyes were as red as blood. His aura was ominous, deadly, "Always. But I'm busy. The voice wants to test someone, and you're not the guy I'm supposed to harm. Move aside before I change my mind."

    Shinji growled at the man's condescending tone. "Rider, kill-"

    A disgusting soul of evisceration interrupted his command. Staring at his Servant, Shinji realized she… had had her belly torn in half. She was convulsing on the ground, dying, a little girl with white hair and cruel eyes watching the spectacle without emotions. "We do not fit," she whispered. "Not the right womb."

    Before Shinji could say anything, something violently pierced him from behind. Falling on the ground, the Makiri could only watch, as a black spearman took his book and gave it to the kimono man. "So you aren't the Master?" he muttered to himself. "Pitiful. The voice will be angry if the true one is out of the game so early." Using a knife, he cut the object in half, making it turn back into worms. Rider vanished, returning to Sakura's side.

    "Fun fact: I was going to kill another faker, later," the kimono man left, his two cronies following him. "I'm sure the true Master will be happy. I did it a favor."
    And Shinji died like he lived.

    Like trash.


    Break

    Leaving the commercial center with their hands full, Saber and her master went on to return home. Shirou seemed troubled, and the swordswoman could understand why. Realizing he would have to fight old friends should elicit such a reaction from anybody. Leo's stoicism actually surprised her.

    Gawain's participation was both a surprise and a shame. She was happy to meet one of her old companions, but the fact they would have to fight didn't rejoice her. Cursing whoever decided on such an outcome, the former king of Britain promised herself she would at least speak on even terms with the knight of the sun at least once.

    Once the groceries were deposed in the kitchen, Shirou attempted to watch the news. They found a sticky note written by Taiga on the TV, explaining she and other teachers had been called by the police to be interrogated, and would probably return late. Not to his surprise, the Television didn't work right.

    What was surprising, however, was that at no point did Shirou interrogate her on her past or on Gawain.

    She had expected it. After all, he was Kiritsugu's son. The Magus Killer would never have hesitated to use a Command Spell to make her talk, if it meant gaining an advantage. It was obvious Shirou respected her enough not to ask uncomfortable questions. It was… a welcome change from his father. She was beginning to wonder if they were even related at all.

    In stark contrast with the physical resemblance, the two Emiya were pretty much spiritual opposites.

    "Saber, huh…?" Shirou started an obvious attempt at small talk. "Do you have any hobbies?"

    "Beside swordsmanship, no," she replied, both amused and surprised by the question. "Why would I need one?"

    "I don't know, to enjoy life or something." Shirou scratched the back of his head. "If you like, we can do a kendo match. It's like swordsmanship, with wood."

    Saber raised an eyebrow, and then smiled. "It would be nice, indeed." On a side-note, it would allow her to guess his combat experience.

    As it turned out, Shirou wasn't a natural fighter. It wouldn't be inaccurate to claim he was a failure when it came to fighting.

    The match in the house's dojo didn't last for very long. But Saber never expected it to be an arduous conflict for the ages. What could a mere civilian do against one of the world's best swordswomen? Shirou was quite good for someone without battlefield experience and his kendo skills were decent. But it was obvious he would be unable to defend himself for long against an experienced opponent. At least, with a sword

    "You need training," Saber stated to the bruised teen, "Fast. You cannot defend yourself well that way."

    "It seems so," Shirou replied, as they left the dojo for the main room. Night had fallen, and the clock was turning. "Already nine o'clock? Good time for dinner…"

    A ringing bell resonated in the house.

    "And crap," Shirou paled. "It's the bounded field."

    "Bounded field?" Saber asked.

    "It's an alarm ringing when people with evil intent enter the perimet-"

    They heard the house's door being broken down.

    In a blink, a black spearman entered the room, obviously with murderous intents. It was a pale man, with long white hair and golden eyes. He was wearing rich, black noble clothes. He noticed Shirou, and readied his silver lance.

    In a blink, Saber charged. Her armor and weapon manifested. The spearman, obviously a Lancer Servant, didn't seem fazed in the slightest and used his spear as a makeshift shield, stopping the invisible Excalibur. In one powerful strike, she pushed him back, near the destroyed door, and brought him outside, where she would have better maneuverability.

    The Lancer jumped backward in the house's garden, and a little form emerged from the mist and attempted to blind Saber with a dagger strike. The swordswoman narrowly dodged and attempted to cut the new attacker in half, but the thing was too small and retreated next to the Lancer Servant.

    It was a small little girl, not even ten years old, with cyan eyes and short white hair. She was wearing a black outfit, with multiple weapons attached to it.An Assassin Servant,Saber guessed. Two Servants at the same time… This is bad.

    "Why didn't you use Maria?" The Lancer asked to his fellow, still eying the King of Knights. His voice was soft, ghostly. "It would be faster."

    "We used it on the bad womb," the Assassin said, two knives in hands. "Twice the same night? Too much for me. And she is a girl, not a woman. The womb can't be right."

    "We will do it my way, then," the Lancer spoke, charging faster than the eyes could follow.

    Using Excalibur, Saber stopped the strike, her sword momentarily appearing when crossing path with the lance. "Saber?" Lancer asked, "Very well. No long range. Assassin, you know what to do?"

    "Yes, I know," the girl whispered, vanishing in the fog.

    Leaping backward, Lancer attacked with multiple strikes, doing his best to stay at distance. Saber parried the blows, and attempted to push him back toward the house's walls, where he would be cornered and unable to dodge.

    Sensing hostile intent, Saber narrowly dodged a lightning fast attack from the Assassin, who attempted to slice her throat by jumping out of the fog. The Assassin didn't abandon her attempts, attacking again, just as the swordswoman parried another one of Lancer's blows.

    Prepared to receive a wound, Saber could only blink when the Assassin was sent flying by a shinai's strike. If the pause in Lancer's assault was of any indication, she wasn't the only one surprised. "Shirou?"

    "Saber, are you alright?" her Master asked, the shinai still in hands.

    Assassin got up, massaging her bruised face. The blow had apparently broken her nose. "It hurts, it hurts, it hurts…" she whispered as Lancer placed himself in front of her in a protective manner.

    "Shirou…" Saber couldn't help but ask. "How did you do that?"

    He simply shrugged. "Reinforcement – Lots of Reinforcement. I thought it might work."

    To inflict even minor damage on a Heroic Spirit, this shinai's reinforcements must be extremely powerful, Saber thought, eying the enemy Servants. "Shirou, get away… That was a lucky shot, and you cannot kill them. I can take care of them, but not if I must protect you at the same time."

    "Want to get away?" a new voice asked, as a man in a blue kimono emerged from the fog, joining the two hostile Servants. "No. I won't allow that."

    "You are a Master, I suppose?" Saber whispered, noticing the red marks on his left hand. "Where is the other one?"

    "In my head," the man replied, with an insane glint in the eyes. "He is that Lancer guy's boss. But he can't get out. The moon isn't high enough."

    "Why do you want to kill us?" Shirou shouted. "For a wish…?"

    "No," he replied. "It's the voice. It promised me my place back if I obeyed it, and it promised the other guy true immortality. The voice wants me to rough you up a bit, to see if you're worth its attention."

    "You're insane," Saber spat as she prepared herself to strike. The two enemy Servants shielded their Master with their bodies, ready to attack.

    "And you're dead!" he chuckled, before charging, a knife in hands. His two Servants, far faster, reached Saber first. In one motion, she deflected Lancer's spear, and then impaled Assassin as she tried to target her head. The girl bled and fell on the ground…

    And the mystery Master attacked Shirou directly.

    Saber turned around, only to see the mysterious man deflect Shirou's shinai, throw him on the ground, and stab him.

    …or so he would have, had an icicle not suddenly sprouted from the ground and tore half his belly apart.

    Lancer and Assassin suddenly retreated, as similar icicles formed right under them.

    "Who, who?" the mystery Master screamed, crawling away in desperation.

    "I!" A cheerful voice answer, as another Servant leapt next to Shirou. It was a young, pretty woman with long pink hair tied into ponytails, and yellow eyes. She had bright orange fox ears, and was wearing a… very revealing… blue. Japanese dress with long sleeves. A long orange fox tail was moving in her back. "Caster, to the rescue…!"

    Saber felt her eye twitch a little. "What?"

    "You little…" the wounded Master groaned, obviously still alive, in spite of the visibly deadly wound. His Lancer grabbed him and lifted him, like a baby. "I won't forget! I won't forget this indignity!" he cursed as his Servant fled with him. Assassin glared at the trio one last time, before vanishing into the fog as well.

    "That was close," the Caster Servant nodded, before smiling at Shirou. "Are you alright?"

    "Who… are you?" the Master asked, as the witch helped him get up.

    "Well, I'm Caster, your new Servant," she chirped, "Nice to meet you, Master-san! Oh! And you too, Saber-chan!"

    Neither Shirou nor Saber could find words to say.


    Break

    Stealthily, Akiha moved out of her hiding spot, returning to her temporary house.

    She had left to track SHIKI, and she did. But… what just happened? Were these people Servants? Were they truly so powerful and deadly?

    …and why did Emiya have to have the same marks as her adopted brother?

    She was beginning to regret following SHIKI's trail to this town. It was her duty as chief of the Tohno household to end her brother's rampage, but… she had the feeling she'd brought Shiki and others into a terrible mess.

    Returning to the mansion, one of the Tohno's secondary houses, Akiha was welcomed by her two maids, Kohaku and Hisui. "Welcome, Akiha-sama," the said in perfect synchronization.

    Akiha nodded, observing Kohaku's hand. The knife-like red lines were quite noticeable on her pale skin. "Kohaku-san, I have terrible news…" she frowned, "SHIKI… he is a Master too. He doesn't have one, but two Servants."

    Both the maids paled, and Kohaku lost her cheerful smile. "Truly?" a woman said, stepping out of the shadows. She was extremely beautiful, inhumanly so. She had long black hair, purple eyes, and was wearing noble black robes. "Then it must be why he fled to this city. He was selected as a Master long before any of you."

    "It seems so, Assassin," Akiha nodded. "There's also another problem. One of my classmates, Emiya Shirou, is also a Master. And from what I saw, he possesses two Servants as well."

    "Well, as long as he isn't possessed by demonic impulses like your real brother, he can't be immune to charm," Assassin said with a sly smirk. "I am sure we can exploit the situation, lady Akiha. I will gather information on him, and propose to you a plan."

    "Woman, dirty tricks are of no good in a battle of warriors," a warrior spoke, entering the room. He had pale skin, white hair, cyan eyes, and was wearing a huge golden armor and a red cloak. "If he is a Master, just like this SHIKI, then there can only be one possible resolve to this: a fight to the death." The tone was emotionless, as if the current events were… normal.

    That utter lack of compassion was one of the reasons Akiha disliked her brother's Servant. He was so uncaring that it was almost disturbing. Worse, he always reminded her of the danger her loved ones were in. "Lancer-san, there might be another option besides murdering innocents."

    "That is a war, Akiha-sama," he spoke. "Killing people is the only path, if a disliked one."

    "Anyway," she scoffed. "We will construct a strategy tomorrow. SHIKI is our top priority for now, but his two Servants make our task a difficult one. We mustn't rush blindly into danger."

    "I agree completely," Assassin smiled. "You will become a wise lord in time, lady Akiha."


    Break

    As his Servants placed him on his bed, SHIKI cursed. "That woman… who was she?"

    "A witch," the Lancer, Vlad the Impaler, stated softly. Jack, the Assassin, had started repairing his belly with her scalpel. Her hand twitched, he groaned in pain, "She is a devourer of brave, pious men… one that must be punished, by the judgment of God."

    That was close. Be wary next time. I don't want to lose such an efficient body.

    Shut up, weird guy. I was just a bit careless.

    I will take over tomorrow night, the guy whispered. They are strong. And we need more power. My memories are coming back slowly. It's only a matter of time before we can win this war.

    And the voice?

    We need to obey. It possesses powers beyond any of us. Disobeying would be a poor choice.

    A phone rang.

    SHIKI groaned. "Vlad, could you…"

    Silently, the Lancer gave him the phone. With one hand, SHIKI answered the call, Jack still working on the surgery. "God…"

    "Yes. How are you, SHIKI? I hope your wounds aren't severe."

    "I… failed," SHIKI whispered. "I… please…! My wish…"

    "I promised I would grant it, no? Akiha will call you 'brother', again, and Shiki shall give you back your place. I will make it reality, if you continue to obey my will. Right now, I am very pleased. Emiya is certainly what I expected him to be. He is pure of heart. The game will be fun. As for you… what did your eyes see?"

    "No life to take," SHIKI whispered.

    "Ah, perfect – Excellent, even. It is beyond what I had expected. Very well, wait until your next task. Tell Roa the princess of the True Ancestors managed to break past the fog. He must keep a low profile for the time being. I have other toys in hand that will take over, for now. Oh, and a friend of Roa shall appear at your door soon. He's amusing, if a bit… bestial."

    "I will tell him," he whispered.

    "Then, good recovery, SHIKI, and don't push yourself too hard. Akiha wouldn't like it, and neither would I. Oh, and the Makiri's death was a very pleasant addition… nicely done."

    The call ended.

    Not soon after, someone knocked at the door. His belly repaired, SHIKI rose up, and walked. He opened the door.

    "Serpent," a man with black eyes, grey hair, and a black trench coat politely greeted him. "Long time no see. You've changed a lot."


    Break

    "So…" Shirou stated, observing the repaired door from the inside. "Witchcraft…?"

    "That's my specialty!" the fox woman smiled. "As you can see, I can do anything."

    "Thank you, then," Shirou said. "For that, and… saving my life."

    "It was normal to save my Master to be," Caster smirked, making the teen blush. Saber was obviously annoyed as well. "I am at your complete service now… but where is our room?" she asked, exploring the house. "I need to sleep close to you, if I want to defend you."

    "Shirou, it might be useful for bodyguard duties, as I told you previously," Saber stated, sounding almost reluctant.

    "Thanks, Saber-chan," Caster said, holding the swordswoman's hand. "I am sure we are going to get along perfectly."

    "…What? No. No," Shirou stated, massaging his temples in shame and annoyance. Saber was openly chuckling now. "Not to hurt your feelings, but I've only known you only for a few minutes. Could you first explain who you are? I thought Masters could only summon one Servant?"

    "That's right, but my former Master had no wish for the Grail," she said, jumping on the sofa. "He said he didn't want to kill people for a wish, and that others needed my help more than him. So he gave me your address and told me to protect you." She smiled. "You have a nice guardian angel now!"

    "Who is that… gentle Master?" Saber asked suspiciously.

    "He said he didn't want me to give his name. He wants to live, after all," the witch pointed out. "Our contract is more or less severed now. The fog allows me to maintain a form, but I used my last reserves protecting Master-san, so…" she gently took Shirou's hand. "Can we make a contract? I want to stay at your side forever."

    Shirou was astonished, pleased, and disturbed, all at the same time. "Err… Umm…"

    "Shirou, another Servant is always useful," Saber pointed out. "At least one enemy has two, and while I am stronger than the Servant we fought individually, fighting one-on-two against ruthlessly powerful opponents is difficult, as you have seen. Having an ally will even the field, however slightly. And if she wished you harm, she only needed not to act to see you removed from the war."

    "Yes, but…" he whispered, "Why me, of all people?"

    "I saw you save Saber-chan from that Assassin," Caster replied. "It was heroic, and I was smitten instantly. I want such a noble Master as my lord."

    "Ah… Thanks," he blushed a bit, "But, I have just one favor to ask."

    "Yes!" She smiled, "You have finally noticed my looks and want me to kiss you?!"

    "It's not about that," Shirou said, as red as a tomato, while Saber was rolling her eyes. "Please, just call me Shirou."

    Caster looked downright disappointed, but regained her cheerful expression. "Alright… Shirou… and about sharing a room…?"

    "No. You will be in the guest room," Shirou stated with a decisive tone. His new Servant to be looked crushed.

    "I am sure you will love me in time," she smiled. "So… do we make the contract?"

    "…Sure, but… How is it done?" he asked.

    "You just have to exchange vows, like a married couple," she said. "Just say you accept me as your Servant."

    "Alright, then," He took his breath. "I, Emiya Shirou, accept Caster as my Servant."

    "I, Servant Caster, accept Emiya Shirou as my one true Master," she stated cheerfully.

    The marks on Shirou's hands lightened brightly, and Caster was briefly surrounded by pure prana. "The contact is done," Caster said. "I already feel your prana inside me. You do not have much… but it's normal, since you supply two Servants." She smiled. "I will find a way around it, Master Shirou. Now, we are a true household!"

    "Welcome," Shirou nodded, before frowning at the nickname.

    "I will be happy to fight side-by-side with you, Caster," Saber spoke.

    "We shall be the ultimate team, Saber-chan," Caster grinned. "Our enemies shall cower in dread!"

    "Yes… probably."

    Caster suddenly frowned, observing the door. "Master Shirou, another Servant has entered the perimeter. I felt him enter the bounded field, along with his Master."

    Both Shirou and Saber paled, but the Master regained his composure quickly. "If he hasn't activated the alarm, his intentions aren't malevolent," he stated, as someone knocked at the door. "Stay behind me, however."

    Both Servants nodded, preparing themselves to strike, as Shirou opened the door.

    "Two Servants, Emiya?" Tohsaka Rin stated, a man in red clothes standing at her side. "You certainly didn't lose time."


    Author Dojo

    "Hello everyone!" Taiga smiled. "This is Author Dojo, the place where chapters are commented with laughter, and author notes explained with humor! I'm Tiger Taiga, your guide!"

    "I'm Slayer Ars, number one student and beta of the story!" Tohsaka Rin jumped on place. "I have taken the form of Tohsaka Rin for the hell of it!"

    "Aren't you supposed to be a guy?"

    "I wanted to be the Angry Magus, Angra Mainyu sounded boring!" Slayer Ars smirked. "Anyway, it's incredibly bad! Why do the characters talk like that? They look like robots!"

    "Hey, Kuzuki IS a robot, Leo is not far away, and Shirou is a blank state! Plus, until the fifth chapter, it's an extended intro! The character development and epic battles come after. For the moment, it's just about introducing the story's main factions and major characters. It gets better later, promised!"

    "I see, Tiger Taiga!" Slayer Ars nodded. "By the way, why Tsukihime characters? To fill the Master spots?"

    "Nope, the author needed Roa for the story. Plus he thought it would make good character development, and all this story more awesome!" Tiger Taiga jumped on place. "Don't worry if you don't know them! They'll be as developed as the rest. The characters from EXTRA like Leo will also be fleshed out in time."

    "Next time!" Slayer Ars smiled. "Shirou's house gets trashed after a party gone mad, Roa's friends decide to have fun, and the unexpected happens! Please review, and get your membership card for the Author Dojo!"
  12. Andmeuths Sporadic Author

    I'm getting Mirai Nikki vibes out of this.
  13. Couch-Gamer On fire. Literally.

    Man, this thing is going to be f-ing crazy~.
  14. its now one of my favorite, and better written nasuXover fics.
    i wander who is previous master of caster, though, and what of ayako? will she be made master too?
    if normal people become masters, i just imagine the result of master Taiga "shudders", or master raiga.
    and what of the charecter from melty blood?
  15. Angelform Celestia’s messenger

    Sorry but my suspension of disbelief won’t stretch that far.

    To start: the organiser’s opinion doesn’t matter a damn. A dome of fog forms over a city, blocking all communication. Outside you will have an army cordon complete with scientists in has-mat suits set up within a day or two. In side you will have martial law, especially with dozens of people dying each night.

    Secrecy is dead so why would any of the masters or servants bother pretending otherwise?

    Everyone just accepts that they have a 1 in 49 chance of survival? Doubly annoying as most will be true magi and quite willing to research a way out.
    Even worse when at least two Servants have a method of harmlessly severing any magic bond.

    I do like having related servants turn up but it is largely spoiled by the interactions of the masters.

    The basic idea is good but you haven’t gone nearly far enough in actually implementing it. Nor done proper research. (Examples: bodily fluids irrelevant, legal age for marriage in Japan.)

    I wish you luck in writing the rest.
  16. Andmeuths: er... Yandere vibs?

    Couch-Gamer: yes, it is.

    Warlock7: thanks :)

    Of course things will turn bad inside the city quite fast, and people outside will try to breach in. As for secrecy... fighting another Servant in the middle of a street with your identity known by everybody isn't a smart move, and none of the good aligned Servants wish to have innocents caught in the crossfire. Even then, secrecy won't last long, especially when a few destructive Servants will enter the frail...

    Who said everybody was agreeing with it? Many Masters are either hiding or trying to find a way to stop the war, not win it. For the severing contracts, Medea's Rule Breaker is a plot point, but I don't see the other you're talking about.

    I duly note about the related Servants interactions. I will try to develop that part.

    For the marriage age in Japan, I read it is either 20 or 18, depending on parents' consent. Seems a bit young for Shirou.

    Anyway, thanks for the critic, it helps to improve :)
  17. Stormwind Yuusha Destron

    Ok. The HGW rules are thrown out of the window, but so far it is kind of fun, in a crack-fic variety.
    Do continue.
  18. Here is the list of the illegal wars' rules, imprinted in the Servants' minds. Have fun guessing loopholes.

    1: 49 people are designed as Masters after voicing their wish. The only criteria is the will to have a wish granted. As such, even non-magi or non-humans can be chosen. A member from the Tohsaka, Makiri and Einzbern lines is automatically chosen as their representative. A Servant can become a Master, if there are still unclaimed places.

    2: Each Master automatically receives a Servant as protector and partner. The Servant summoned depends on either the use of a catalyst present during the summoning, or on the Master's nature, needs, and personality, in order to increase the chances of teamwork. The class is chosen among Saber, Archer, Lancer, Rider, Caster, Assassin and Berserker. There shall be seven Servants for each class.

    3: A Master receives three Command Spells, each able to give one absolute order to the Servant, that cannot be removed by modern means or redistributed. The Command Spells stay on dead bodies. Cutting the body part where the Spells are situated cause them to reappear somewhere else on the main body, if the Master is alive. Use of all Command Spells results in instant death for the branded Master.

    4: A contract between a Master and Servant can be cut or established by mutual consent, breaking or making a prana connection between them. As such, a Master can get rid of a Servant without any harm, and a Servant can find a new Master. However, the Command Spells do not move. A Master having severed a contract with a Servant will keep them and still be considered a servantless Master, even if unable to use the Command Spells on its former Servant, unless a new contract is established. A Servant can only have one Master, but a Master can have multiple Servants.

    5: The Grail shall only appear when only one person with Command Spells on the body is still alive. All Servants not having formed a contract with the winning Master shall instantly die. Even if the winning Master is servantless, the Grail shall still grant its wish. The Servants of the winning Master will have their wish realized as well.
  19. A Master dies upon "use of all Command Spells". Any method that gets rid of them without them being "used" should prevent a Master from having to die.


    "... Command Spells... cannot be removed by modern means..." What about means that are not modern? Perhaps Rule Breaker could disconnect a Master from their Command Spells without killing the Master? Or perhaps some other thaumaturgy/Noble Phantasms could do the same? Maybe the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception could 'kill' the Command Spells?
  20. So as per the illegal war's Rules,

    What happens to the master that says they no longer want their wish? or have fallen into depression and no longer have the will to do anything.

    is it possible for a servant to kill his unsuspecting master if s/he doesn't like them

    Can a master summon more servants?
  21. jo demon Vy hello dere.

    sounds like something will break here.
  22. Tsuzurao: a few Noble Phantasms can, but the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception won't be enough. They're part of the person after being branded

    Vikraal: depresion won't change a thing. You're in until the end, even if you chicken out. Well, a Servant can kill his/her Master, but she would need another one to have its wish realized. A Master can make the Servant ritual, but in this case the Grail won't help,and S/He has to provide the prana and expertise himself/herself


    Here is next chapter. Events will seem a bit rushed, but it's natural: up until chapter five (if you count the prologue), it's an introduction arc introducing characters and factions. After the fifth chapter, events will be more paced out and battle scenes longer.
    Disclaimer: thanks Ars Poetica for betaing, and I don't own any Type-Moon material.

    1: 49 people are designed as Masters after voicing their wish. The only criteria is the will to have a wish granted. As such, even non-magi or non-humans can be chosen. A member from the Tohsaka, Makiri and Einzbern lines is automatically chosen as their representative. A Servant can become a Master, if there are still unclaimed places.

    2: Each Master automatically receives a Servant as protector and partner. The Servant summoned depends on either the use of a catalyst present during the summoning, or on the Master's nature, needs, and personality, in order to guaranty teamwork. The class is chosen among Saber, Archer, Lancer, Rider, Caster, Assassin and Berserker. There shall be seven Servants for each class.

    3: A Master receives three Command Spells, each able to give one absolute order to the Servant, that cannot be removed by modern means or redistributed. The Command Spells stay on dead bodies. Cutting the body part where the Spells are situated cause them to reappear somewhere else on the main body, if the Master is alive. Use of all Command Spells results in instant death for the branded Master.

    4: A contract between a Master and Servant can be cut or established by mutual consent, breaking or making a prana connection between them. As such, a Master can get rid of a Servant without any harm, and a Servant can find a new Master. However, the Command Spells do not move. A Master having severed a contract with a Servant will keep them and still be considered a servantless Master, even if unable to use the Command Spells on its former Servant, unless a new contract is established.

    5: The Grail shall only appear when only one person with Command Spells on the body is still alive. All Servants not having formed a contract with the winning Master shall instantly die. Even if the winning Master is servantless, the Grail shall still grant its wish. The Servants of the winning Master will have their wish realized as well.

    Night Two
    Into the Night

    Shirou really thought his life couldn't get any crazier.

    First, he was forced to fight in a war alongside a female King Arthur. Second, an insane man assaulted his house with two Heroic Spirits and almost killed him. Thirdly, the Servant that saved and joined him was... hyperactive, or something. Finally, Tohsaka Rin, his school's honor student, was not only a Master, but she had arrived in the middle of the night for a talk.

    Was it reality, or that damn fog messing with his mind?

    "Why do you look so distrustful and tense, Emiya-kun?" Rin asked with a sly smirk, obviously aware of his unease. She and her Servant were sitting in the kitchen, alongside Shirou's team. "I do not wish to kill you."

    "The last Master I saw tried to and almost succeeded," Shirou groaned. "And that was after his Lancer broke my door."

    "I pushed them back," Caster smiled proudly, "And repaired the door."

    "Archer, is it?" Saber asked, changing the subject to the red Servant she had been observing. "I expected to see you with a bow."

    "Saber, eh?" he smirked. "I expected someone taller."

    Ignoring the Servants' bickering, Rin stared at Shirou directly. "I have heard about your new Servant's story. This war is indeed a lot more lethal than the last ones – Comes with being illegal and all."

    The Emiya magus frowned, while Saber and Caster both raised an eyebrow. "Illegal?"

    "The Holy Grail system was disabled after the fourth war," Archer stated, much to Shirou's amazement. "The Association realized, after the rather impressive amount of destruction that followed, that the Fuyuki Grail had somehow been corrupted and could reveal the secret of Magecraft to the world if left active. This war was never meant to happen because the Fuyuki Grail is currently disabled… At least, it is disabled until the Association finds a way to purify it."

    "The rules in this war are different from the previous wars," Rin added. "The people behind it made certain that there would be a single, decisive winner this time by using the 'only one Master gets to live' rule. This war is completely illegal. They have to see the Grail this time; otherwise they will be discovered and killed. It's victory or death. The new Grail may not even be very stable if it needs more Servants than the first."

    It… made some sort of twisted sense. If this war was illegal, the organizers had to make sure everyone that would be able to talk about it was dead and gone. The winning Master would get a wish, the others would be silenced. And there would be a clear winner… Unless there were a mutual kill of some sort – which should be almost impossible.

    "Why are there more Servants this time?" Saber asked. "I thought Grail wars only had seven Servants per conflict."

    "I have no idea," Rin replied. "Maybe it's an experiment or they are needed for some event. Or, as I said, the new Grail might be weaker than the original and needs more power to grant a wish. I don't know who the organizers are, let alone their plans."

    "Tohsaka," Shirou whispered. "Aren't you a member of the Association? If not, how do you know all these things?"

    "I am this land's second owner," Rin stated. "I am in charge of all supernatural activities inside my territory. You should have come to see me, as a magus. Were you intending to hide from authorities?"

    "My father disliked the Association for some reason," he replied evenly. I suppose it has something to do with the former war…

    "Then be happy I didn't put you in jail, or worse," the magus stated as if she were his boss.

    "Any attempt on Master Shirou's integrity shall be punished with fire and curses," Caster smiled warmly. "You are warned, Rin-chan."

    Shirou didn't know whether to be happy Caster was taking his safety as a very important matter or just be disturbed by her blatant death threat.
    "My, my, quite the aggressive fox," Archer chuckled. "Just get married already."

    "Master Shirou?" Rin pondered, raising an eyebrow.

    "Caster, I told you just to call me Shirou," Shirou stated, reddening. The Servant excused herself, but he was sure she did it on purpose. Damn witch… she was so cute he couldn't help but forgive her.

    "Tohsaka," Saber frowned. "Why did you reveal yourself? You know the rules of this war. We shall have to fight, eventually."

    "I don't think so," Rin replied. "To be honest, my familiars were observing you for a time. It's obvious your Master was dragged into this conflict against his will. Sorry, Emiya, but you're definitively not a killer, unlike the man who attacked you. You have zero chance of winning."

    Yet again, Shirou was conflicted. He didn't know if he had to feel happy not to be considered a monster, or just plain insulted – maybe both? While Saber simply glared at the female magus, Caster looked ready to commit manslaughter. "Still, why did you come?"

    "Because, neither of us wants this war to continue," Rin said. "As a Tohsaka, I wish to win the Holy Grail for my family reputation. But as a member of the Association, I cannot let this one go any further than it has. Any Grail requiring such destruction to work is totally without value. I want to abort the conflict before Fuyuki turns into a mass grave. And this fog is already causing enough problems on its own, as people outside might be suspicious about its nature."

    That was interesting. Shirou was happy to find, for once, a Master unwilling to fight. He just hoped it wasn't a trick. "How do you intend to do this?"
    "Simple. By finding the organizers and forcing them to stop the system," Rin stated plainly. "I doubt anyone would create such a war without participating in it. Otherwise, it would make no sense."

    "Easier said than done," Archer pointed out. The fact her own Servant was skeptical spoke volume about Rin's plan. "You have no idea who they are, where they are, or even if they can stop the whole thing at all."

    "Just shut up, jerk," Tohsaka glared at him, reddening. Her façade as an honor student cracked even more, revealing the true Rin to the world. "I've told you time and time again that it can work."

    "Still didn't convince me," he mused.

    "Anyway," Rin ignored him, focusing on Shirou. "The church on the hill is a neutral ground. The priest there might be a jerk, but he will hide any surrendering Master and he wants to end this war just as much as I do. You'd better go to him if you want pro-"

    The alarm suddenly rang.

    Shirou jumped out of his seat. "That killer again?" he cursed, both Rin and Archer realizing they were under attack.

    "No, Master Shirou," Caster frowned. "There is only one Servant this time. And he is huge!"

    Then, he heard his house's walls being smashed, one by one. Reacting on instinct, the group exited the kitchen and escaped in the courtyard.

    Two seconds after, a monster jumped, destroying the roof, and landed in front of them.

    Shirou had never seen such a beast. It looked like a very tall humanoid, a black giant. Its torso, devoid of clothing, was pure muscle. One its eyes was red, the other golden, but both were devoid of humanity. It had long black hair, and was holding a huge weapon in its right hand, like a sword made of rock.

    This thing was going to kill them. For this monster, it would be as easy as breathing.

    "Good evening, Onii-chan," a little girl said, walking at the monster's side. She smiled at him. "This is the second time we meet."

    It was the same girl than that time… Shirou frowned. Saber was right, she was a Master, and the monster was her Servant.

    "Nice to meet you, Rin," the homunculus said, making a reverence. "My name is Ilyasviel von Einzbern. But you can call me Ilya."

    Shirou felt his blood freeze in his veins. Saber paled.

    "Einzbern," Rin muttered, recognizing the name.

    "Well, then… Now I'll kill you," Ilya smiled. "Go ahead, Berserker~!"

    "Il-"

    The monster didn't let Shirou finish, charging faster than his eyes could follow. Saber intercepted Berserker before he could reach her Master, and parried the monster's blow with her own sword.

    The second they crossed blades, it became obvious to Shirou that his Servant was the underdog.

    "Master Shirou, please, stay back," Caster said, some sort of talisman in hands. She had stopped acting goofy. Archer had vanished. "We will assure your protection." She recited an incantation, her talisman shining, and shot a blast of fire at Berserker, torching half his face.

    The giant roared, more from rage than pain, and multiple flying stars crashed on his torso. The lights looked like arrows, probably belonging to Archer.
    Unfortunately – impossibly – the attacks just made Berserker angrier. In one swing of his blade, he sent Saber flying away, and almost smashed Caster, who barely dodged. Saber returned, and slashed the monster's ankle, trying to take him down. The monster was barely fazed.

    Rin recited an incantation, threw jewels in the air, and shot silver lights at the enemy.

    …but the target wasn't Berserker.

    Reacting on instinct, Shirou threw the surprised Ilya out of the way, and took the spell full on. His torso burned, and he saw his blood drop on the ground.
    Both Rin and Ilya were speechless "What the he– why did you do that, you idiot?!" Rin shouted, astonished. In the background, the battle had stopped. Berserker was staring at Ilya, in what seemed to be worry.

    "She's… my father's daughter…" he replied, in obvious pain, "I promised him… I would find her. I can't let her die, right after meeting her."
    After standing still for a time, dumbfounded for a while, Ilya frowned. "…Berserker," the little girl whispered, obviously troubled, "I am bored. I want to go home."

    The giant stood immediately at her side, gently took her in his hands, and turned around, ignoring all the Servants present. "Wait…" Shirou said, "I need to talk to you!"

    "Onii-chan… we will play again later," she replied, vanishing with Berserker.

    Shirou lost consciousness at that instant.

    Break

    The world was on fire.

    Destruction, pure destruction. A vision of hell itself. People were burning, as he laughed. Smiling, Saber was beheading left and right. Caster was blasting everybody with her Magecraft, as if it was some kind of game.

    Above him, the dark sun was shining.

    "That is the path of heroes,"it said. "Salvation through destruction. Rebirth from ashes. Destroying the few to save the many. That is the Emiya path. That is the path to the Grail. Seek it. Find it. Seize it. Then, all your wishes shall be granted."

    And he agreed, embracing the destruction.

    He awakened, panting. His two Servants were staring at him. "Master Shirou," Caster whispered.

    "It's… just Shirou…" he replied, looking at his surroundings. He was still in the courtyard. "What happened?"

    "Berserker and his Master left," Saber explained. "As for Rin, she left cursing, but still took the time to mend your wounds with one of her jewels. She said it was her way of paying you back for helping her against Berserker, and that you are now even."

    "I guess any plan of an alliance is scrapped, no?" Shirou chuckled. He didn't care. He knew Ilyasviel was alive and present. To him, that was all that mattered… but she was also a Master. Meaning she was in danger. "What do we do now?"

    Caster frowned, "Saber-chan and I discussed, Master Shirou. We think it would be better if we moved on another land. I cannot repair all the damage, and enemies will attack again."

    "Finding another, more secure lair, would be safer," Saber added, "The enemies know where you live, Shirou. They have the advantage, as things are. They might even take Taiga hostage, if she happens to be present during an attack."

    "Alright, alright…" Shirou whispered, "But where will we go? No place is safe. Should we just go to the church, as Rin proposed?"

    "It's too obvious," Saber stated. "And Rin, whatever she says, might turn on us if the war can't be aborted."

    "…Why not the temple?" Caster proposed, "The temple is the keystone of this land's laylines. I can build a fortress there, with enough time."

    "Impossible," Shirou said. "That's where Issei lives. And the Master of an enemy Caster frequently visits him."

    "Medea must have already built her own workshop there," Saber guessed.

    "Gawain, Leo, and probably his bodyguard and retainers, are at the main hostel," Shirou said, getting up. "So… the only place where we can move must be the Semina Apartment. Taiga's grandfather possesses one there, and I'm sure he'll lend it to me."

    Well… He didn't have to find out it was probably going to get destroyed, too. Shirou decided to shut his mouth on that subject.

    Break

    Taiga returned home not long afterwards. When she noticed the destroyed house, she cried, became angry, and tried to find the refrigerator among the rubble. It was only after she recovered a milk carton and sat down on what used to be the kitchen sink that she asked why Shirou had a new cute girl with fox ears and tail with him… and why Saber was covered in armor… and why Shirou had his clothes partially burned… and why the house was destroyed… in that order.

    Shirou explanation was very simple and believable.

    "It's a gas leak and you're hallucinating. We are illusions doing a cosplay contest after a drinking party gone mad. The refrigerator is still intact. You really need sleep."

    Surprisingly, she brought it… except for the refrigerator part. Caster vanished, and Saber adopted her normal clothes, strengthening the deception. Shirou also had to change clothes, his own very damaged.

    Convincing Fujimura Raiga to lend him one of his apartments until their house was repaired had been relatively easy. If the look on the old yakuza's face was of any indication, he himself didn't remember he had acquired one. Convincing Taiga to stay with her grandfather, however, had been quite difficult.

    "You can't expect me to leave you all alone, Shirou!" She had said. "Who will feed m- I mean, help you handle domestic duties?"

    Shirou, managing to prevent himself from laughing, explained to her his reasoning, "I am sure your grandfather would be happy to see you, and it's just temporary…"

    Taiga frowned, before dramatically pointing her finger at him. "Emiya Shirou, I do not believe you! It wasn't a gas leak, isn't it?" The teen paled. "I am not an idiot. Nothing has been burnt inside. It was more like a bulldozer passed by. What is happening, here?"

    The magus stayed silent, trying to find a lie. But he knew he wasn't good at it, so he decided to say the truth… or rather, a part of it. "…some people are after me," Shirou admitted, "Dangerous people. They trashed the house trying to find me. I cannot explain the situation in detail, but I need to keep a low profile for some time."

    "I can offer you some protection," Raiga pointed out, while Taiga was obviously worried, "Whoever is after you, my boys can deal with them."

    "They are heavily equipped and terribly ruthless. Hiding is the safest solution." Shirou sighed, "Please understand. As long as I hide, nobody will die."
    "And this girl is supposed to protect you?" Raiga asked, looking at Saber. "You can have a better escort, you know."

    "It would attract attention," Saber pointed out. "I have worked with Kiritsugu and Maiya, I can assure his protection. And people won't guess I am his bodyguard by appearance."

    "Point taken," Raiga said. "Alright… But, let me help you a bit. One of my men will depose a package in your apartment. It belonged to Kiritsugu, and it will help you."

    "Shirou, take care of yourself," Taiga said. "Saber-chan, please watch over him."

    "I will," Saber promised.

    "Don't worry, Fuji-nee," Shirou faked a smile. "It will be alright."

    She didn't look very convinced.

    Break

    Descending from his car, the Messenger stared at the huge, almost tangible fog in front of him. It was literally cutting the road in half, and the lord couldn't see past it.

    "Do any of you know what is happening?" he asked to the team of magi waiting for him. "I came as quickly as I could." Traveling from London to Fuyuki had been tiring, but this area was under his jurisdiction. The second one of his agents had told him about some kind of mystical fog surrounding the city, he had jumped in the first plane for Japan.

    "I'm afraid no," one magus said. "We thought it was natural at first, but then non-magi failed to get past it and alerted the authorities. We managed to keep things hidden for the moment through hypnosis and our contacts in the government, but..."

    "It's only a matter of time before the rest of Japan learns Fuyuki City is cut from the outside world," the Messenger guessed. "Has anyone tried to enter?"
    The magus nodded, and made a sign to another. "Show him."

    The other man nodded, entered the fog... and then got out one minute later. "He didn't deviate from his path," the magus said. "The fog passively redirects everyone outside, and our attempts at dissipating it have been in vain."

    "I see," the Messenger cursed. "Some kind of Bounded Field? A Reality Marble maybe?"

    "I cannot say," the magus said. "This fog's nature is completely unknown. Such phenomenon hasn't been recorded anywhere... its effects have been, but none of the traditional methods had any effect on it."

    The Messenger frowned. "And our agents inside?"

    "We were unable to contact them. Maybe they're in the same situation, or dead. I cannot say for sure."

    "Call the Clock Tower for reinforcements," the Messenger said. "We need back-up fast, before too many people start asking questions. Maybe the situation is still salvageable."

    "I'm afraid it's not our only problem," the magus said, handing him a photo. The Messenger examined it.

    It represented a blonde woman in white, entering into the fog. "Her?" he gasped. "If so, then the Serpent of Akasha is probably involved."

    "She didn't get out," the magus added. "Maybe it's one of Roa's experiments?"

    "Maybe," the Messenger said, staring at the fog. "But it would be better to call that a disaster in waiting."

    Break

    The Semina Apartment building was very tall. According to the receptionist, each of the twenty floors possessed only two apartments. Shirou's was situated on the thirteenth, and was codenamed 13B. How unlucky he was.

    Getting out of the elevator, the teen, followed by his two Servants, entered a corridor, with two doors on each end. Finding the one with 13B marked on it, the teen unlocked it and discovered his new home.

    The apartment was big, and divided into rooms. It had a small kitchen, a main room with a sofa and a TV, a bathroom, toilets, and two bedrooms, with two beds and a desk each. Both Saber and Caster proposed to share one with Shirou to better protect him, but the teen told them he would take a room all for himself and leave the girls in the other.

    He found the package on the sofa.

    Opening it, his two Servants observing, Shirou gasped, "What… what is this?"

    "I think it might be Kiritsugu's… leftover arsenal," Saber said, taking a submachine gun in hands. "After the fourth war, he must have left his unused weapons to Taiga's grandfather."

    "It's a war arsenal," Shirou said, checking the different weapons. Two black submachine guns, a sniper rifle, six grenades, and what looked to be two kilograms of C4 plastic explosives, alongside a detonator. "I don't know how to use them, but I guess I will have to learn fast." He looked at his Servants. "Could they damage Servants?"

    "No," Caster shook her head. "Master Shirou, Heroic Spirits are immune to modern weaponry. They can only be truly harmed by Magecraft, conceptual weapons, or Noble Phantasms."

    "Noble Phantasms…?"

    "A Servant's legendary object, that is an integral part of its legend," Saber explained. "All Servants possess at least one. My sword and the black Lancer's spear are Noble Phantasms. They also possess incredible abilities that are unleashed by saying their true name. But doing so may reveal the Servant's identity, so Noble Phantasms are used as last resort."

    "I see…" Shirou said, before frowning. "Wait. I managed to harm Assassin with a reinforced shinai, remember?"

    "Shirou, you simply had a lot of luck," Saber stated while shaking her head, "Assassin is a notoriously frail class. They are made for infiltration, stabbing backs, and killing Masters directly; they aren't very resistant to blows, which is why they always fight without honor. You hit it in the head; a blow like that would have crushed the skull of any normal human, but you barely bruised its face. Unless your reinforcements are on the level of a powerful Caster, you cannot inflict major injuries on any Servant."

    "And if I reinforce bullets?" Shirou asked.

    "At best, the shot will stun a Servant for a few seconds and give you the time to run away." Saber stared at Caster. "Caster, maybe your reinforcement might be stronger."

    "I am… not really good at it," Caster lowered her foxy ears in shame, "My Witchcraft is mostly based on creating objects or phenomenon using my own internal power, not altering what already exists – unless I do it through a medium. Does Master Shirou forgive me?" she asked with a pout.

    Shirou smiled. She was simply too cute. "Of course… I even forgive the name part."

    "Yes, Master Shirou!" Caster chirped.

    Abandoning on making drop the Master part of the nickname, Shirou just shrugged, "Alright, alright…"

    "Master Shirou, I know a way to help you," Caster said. "I can create objects or talismans that can give you an edge, like increasing your luck or blow up at the face of enemies, for example."

    Shirou raised an eyebrow. So that was how she cast her spell and used talismans in battle? An idea crossed his mind, "Can you give them any shape you want?"

    Caster beamed, "Of course! Amulets, necklace…"

    "…can you make bullet-shaped ones?"

    Both Caster and Saber stared at him as if he were some kind of genius. "Maybe," Caster said. "I never tried. But if Master Shirou thinks I can, then I will! But I will need time and practice."

    "This is insane," Saber stated, "But… it might work. It probably won't be enough to beat a Servant, but it can harm them and give us support. But you do not know how to use a gun, no?"

    "I will know," Shirou said, "Point and shoot, right? And if I don't, I will die."

    "In the meantime, I will try to make talismans to increase your protection, Master Shirou, and traps for the apartment," Caster smiled. "Enemies will never even reach you!"

    "I think we should consider a strategy," Saber stated, scoffing, "We have multiple enemies. Preparing tactics and confronting our information might be useful."

    Shirou nodded, "Sounds good… Now, who wants tea?"

    A few minutes later, the trio was sitting around the kitchen's table, each with a cup. "First thing," Saber began, "We know that one of your teachers, Kuzuki, is a Master. His Servant is a Caster named Medea. From what I know about her, she was a feared witch in the Age of the Gods. I don't know what her Noble Phantasm is, but being from the ancient past, I suppose her Magecraft must be particularly powerful."

    "Any magus from the Age of the Gods cannot be matched by modern magi in spell contest," Caster added, "If she was feared even in her time, her level is all but guaranteed to be impressive. But being an ancient spirit myself, I am sure I will burn her to ashes! With my Master's prana, Caster will make her beg for forgiveness!"

    Shirou found himself a bit disturbed by the cheerful tone.

    "I possess a high degree of resistance to spells, so I doubt she will be a match for me," Saber added. "Kuzuki's abilities are a mystery. He might be a magus, but we cannot know his exact power."

    "And we suspect their lair is in the temple," Shirou whispered. "Next is the kimono man. He is obviously insane, but he knows how to fight in close combat. He's a lot stronger and faster than he looks like, and he can survive serious injuries."

    "He has two Servants, a Lancer and an Assassin," Saber continued. "The first class possesses a similar resistance to spells as my own, and is made for close-combat. I have no idea who he might be, but guessing from his accent and allure, he must be a European spirit."

    "The clothes match the nobility of the time," Shirou said. "Kuzuki showed us pictures of the ancient nobility, during one of his lessons. A noble hero with a lance… it will be hard to guess who he is."

    "The second Servant was an Assassin, and tall… or small…" Saber frowned. "Strange, I have a hard time remembering what it looked like… I think it was a man with a sword… or an old lady with a dagger…"

    "My memories are foggy…" Caster complained. "It's like I dreamt the whole event. I think Saber-chan and I have been on the bad end of a spell."


    "It was a little girl, no older than ten," Shirou said, remembering the scene perfectly. Did his Servants have memory loss? "She was equipped with knives, was very, very fast, and had white hair and cyan eyes. I remember perfectly."

    "It is strange," Saber said. "I think it's one of the Servant's skills, manipulating memories to keep her identity hidden. The fact you weren't affected is troubling."

    "Master Shirou is so awesome he isn't even affected by spells," Caster chirped, before stiffening. "Uh oh… I have no idea who might fit the description! I have never heard of that kind of murderer."

    "Neither have I," Saber stated.

    "At one point, that Lancer asked her why she didn't use 'Maria' to kill you quickly, whatever that meant," Shirou added. "You don't remember?"
    "No," Saber replied. "If the skill erased my memory about it, then it must be linked to the Assassin's legend. I do remember the Assassin replying she already used it on a 'bad womb', however. But… it still doesn't help. A killer able to erase traces of her passage… maybe it was a spy in life?"

    "Anyway, it doesn't help us much," Shirou stated.

    "True," Saber nodded. "As for Rin's Servant, he didn't show any weapon, and his appearance isn't explicit enough to give away his identity… which leaves Leo and Gawain."

    "Saber, if you don't want to talk about it, I won't force you to." Shirou said.

    "As your Servant, I must do my duty," Saber said. "Gawain was one of my finest knights, on par with Lancelot of the Lake. He was known as the Knight of the Sun, and was at his strongest during noon. He had a powerful sword, Galantine, with mystic properties. He is a very powerful opponent, but I can and will defeat him, if allowed to duel him."

    "…one of your knights?" Caster frowned, in the dark about Saber's identity.

    "It's a long story," Shirou said. "We also know that Leo's bodyguard and retainer are Masters themselves, but nothing more than that. Ilya's Servant… I think we all know what it is capable of. He doesn't seem very intelligent."

    "Berserkers are warriors that traded their sanity for power," Saber explained, "They lose all reasoning, but become stronger as a result. As you have seen, a Berserker is more of a trained attack dog than a noble Heroic Spirit. Which leaves only... Caster's former Master."

    "He's out of the war," she complained. "Well, he's in hiding. He still has his old Command Spells."

    "Wait," Shirou cut in. "You can break a contract with a Servant and still stay a Master?"

    "A contract is just a matter of mutual agreement," Caster said. "If both the Servant and the Master wish to separate, then the link shall be cut. The former Master won't be able to use his Command Spells on his former Servant... but he will still have them. As such, he can always make another contract if he finds a masterless Servant."

    "Also, there is one problem I would like to discuss," Saber cut in, "and it is the prana supply. Shirou, without the fog giving us a little prana, I and Caster may have vanished already, as you can't supply us enough. We were lucky the battle with Berserker didn't last long, or we might have burned all our reserves."

    "Caster knows a way around the problem," the witch chirped.

    "I won't do that!" Shirou shouted, making the fox blink.

    "Oh… I wasn't thinking about bedtime…" Caster looked crushed, with tears in her eyes. "Don't you find me beautiful enough?"

    Shirou blinked before frantically waving his hands, "No, no, you're cute and all, bu-"

    "Master-sama found me cute," she chuckled, before snapping her fingers. A small, rounded mirror appeared in her hands, in a puff of smoke. "I was thinking about using my Noble Phantasm."

    "It's a prana generator?" Shirou frowned, observing the mirror. It looked a lot like the legendary Yata no Kagami, one of the treasures of Japanese emperors.

    "No," she shook her head, "It simply allows me to use my powers without using prana, as long as I stand in a certain Bounded Field roughly as large as this apartment," Caster explained, "I can only use it once per day, but it would allow you to fully supply Saber-chan all the time, while I would take the bare minimum."

    "Wouldn't it give away your identity?" Shirou frowned.

    "Yes, but it is a risk that must be taken, if I want to protect you," Caster explained. "I doubt non-Japanese opponents would be able to guess who I am, and even then, I wasn't famous as a hero, so the chances are rather low." The witch looked at Shirou. "Master Shirou… do you wish me to reveal my identity to you?"

    "If it is your wish, Caster," Shirou said, "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to. My trust in you would be the same."

    "Yes, but…" she stopped, "I would like to be honest with you, but… I would like to wait a little while longer."

    "Take your time," Shirou gave her a gentle expression, "I will wait until you find I am ready."

    She smiled back and nodded, "Thank you… Shirou…"

    Shirou smiled at the answer, but then his looks darkened. He had suddenly remembered about the reason of his participation: Ilya. "Do you two…" he began. "Do you think we can defeat Berserker, if we are prepared?"

    "Of course," Caster chirped, regaining her usual goofy persona. "If we go all out, we will crush him, Master Shirou!"

    "If I have your permission, Shirou, I will use my Noble Phantasm on him next time we fight," Saber said, "It should kill him, but the cost in prana will be high. I do think we can defeat him if we have a plan… but, Shirou, Illya is a Master."

    "I know," he said. She had stated the obvious. "And that means she is in danger. I must protect her."

    "Berserker would do that job much better than us," Saber pointed out. "It would be better to wait until we have recovered to look after her. She will survive a few more days. You are the one in need of a protection, not her."

    "…I guess you're right. We'll take a rest and then start searching for her."

    He felt his cell phone vibrate in his pocket. Frowning, he took it. He had received an SMS… even when all communications were supposed to be useless.

    So, you finally decided to play the game seriously? Good, very good. This is will be amusing. Open the door of the apartment in front of your own. A surprise awaits you.

    Game on, fun fellow.

    Taking one of the submachine guns, Shirou silently exited the door, and made a sign at his Servants. They stared at each other, and then followed, prepared to attack at any moment.

    When he opened the other apartment's door, the magus was greeted by a nightmarish sight.

    A blonde woman was lying on a pool of blood, her body cut in half. An armored man with white hair noticed them first, but he didn't react, unlike the third person. The woman's attacker, a knife in hand, stared at Shirou in surprise and shock.

    For a few seconds, the expression of Tohno Shiki chilled Shirou to the bone.

    Break

    "You still haven't deployed a Bounded Field, Roa?" Chaos asked, visiting the small apartment. It wasn't big, and contained the very minimum, but he could understand. His old companion was probably trying to stay under the radar for the time being… at least, until he could relocate elsewhere.

    "My memories have yet to return completely," the vampire replied, inviting his fellow to sit around a table. His two familiars were waiting in silence, and appeared to play a fighting videogame on the TV. "To be honest, I must share this body with its original personality for now. The other has willingly let me take over for the moment."

    "You still haven't replaced him?" Chaos asked, raising an eyebrow.

    "This is an arrangement suggested to us, and made possible, by a third party," Roa replied with a sly smile. "Sharing a body allows us to make the best out of our respective abilities, and I intend to move into another body in time… one that would complete my immortality thesis."

    "Truly?" the entity formerly known as Fabro Rowan chuckled. "I hope to be present to witness it. And who is this third party?"

    "I think it has contacted you already, or else you wouldn't be there," Roa pointed out. Chaos understood who he was talking about. It was the voice that contacted him days ago.

    "I see. Does it mean these two are your Servants?"

    "One is mine; the other belongs to my host."

    "This is the reason for your arrangement, I suppose?" Chaos guessed. "Interesting. Did it give you orders, too?"

    "Yes. It knows my story, my goal, and how to realize it," Roa added. "Obedience would be profitable, in my case. He gave you orders?"

    "Did you know the princess of the True Ancestors has arrived in town?" the composite being asked, his friend nodding. "Then you can guess what my mission is. I have also been tasked to kill a few other annoyances, and given the means to do so."

    "Very good," Roa smiled. "Do you intend to absorb Arcueid?"

    "I have been advised not to," Chaos stated. "Consuming her would apparently cause my chaos to implode, according to our mutual benefactor. It has another fate in mind for her."

    "I see," Roa narrowed his eyes. Some part of him was disturbed by this. Maybe he wanted to kill her himself? He couldn't know, lacking too much of his past. "When do you think your chaos will evolve?"

    "Our benefactor said it would help the process," Chaos stated. "According to it, I will evolve before the end of this conflict. My personality may or may not survive… I cannot tell."

    "This is wonderful," Roa nodded, as a fellow scholar. "I will record this event personally and immortalize it."

    "Thank you," Chaos said. "By the way, do you mind if I install my lair there, after my return? I have a job to do."

    "You are always welcome, along with your familiar," the serpent of Akasha said. "Where is he, by the way?"

    "I sent it locate our enemies," Chaos said, preparing to leave. "I will present it to you, once we are finished."

    "Good luck then."

    Break

    She hated this underground basement.

    She was bathing in a sea of worms. It was the place where she had become a Makiri. This was the place where the only person to care about her, her uncle Kariya, had died. When they'd fled the mansion, she had thought she would never return there.

    How wrong she had been.

    She slowly emerged from the worms and reached the stairs. Angra Mainyu's shadows covered her curves, like black robes. She didn't look like a Tohsaka anymore. Her eyes were red, her hair long and white. Her skin was covered with Command Spells. In fact, she could hardly call herself human anymore.
    The only remnant of her old self was the ribbon her sister gave her. The same sister that never came to save me, she thought.

    Atop the stairs, her Servant, Medusa, was waiting. "Nii-san is dead," Sakura spoke simply. She didn't regret his death. He wouldn't touch her again.
    "Yes," Medusa replied. "Another Master killed him."

    "Good," she whispered.

    "Sakura," Medusa said. "Your grandfather called for you, but… do you want me to kill him? I can, if you want."

    "You can't," Sakura replied, without a hint of emotion. "Uncle Kariya died because he opposed him. You cannot oppose grandfather. And... if I disobey, he will turn me into a monster and harm other people." She remembered his words.

    If you try to defy me, he had said, then I shall turn you into Angra Mainyu, and you shall obey me anyway. It would rob you of the ability to give the Makiri an heir, however, so I will refrain from doing so as long as you stay obedient. And if you think you can rob me of any legacy... then remember I can find another child to replace you. Do you truly wish to have another kid receive my training, Sakura?

    Even in her corrupted state, even with her mind invaded by dark whispers of destruction, Sakura didn't wish another girl or boy to experience what she had gone through for eleven years. And so, she had no choice but to obey.

    She entered his office, "Grandfather," Her voice contained a faint hint of hate, but she feared him. She was broken. She would obey. "Nii-san is dead."

    "Yes," Zouken spoke. His Servant, Hassan, was waiting, immobile. He was a man made of shadows, with a skull-like mask. It would be good to crush it.

    "As you have become the final seed of the Makiri, and proved yourself better than my worthless grandson, I will allow you to replace him with whoever you want. After you have found your new toy, I will allow you to kill the Tohsaka."

    A light glittered in her eyes. Kill nee-san? Zouken smirked widely.

    "Assassin, Rider, you will escort and protect her," the old magus said, "Obey her orders, as if they were my own."

    The two Servants nodded and followed as Sakura left the mansion in silence. Both adopted their spirit forms, obedient. Maybe she should kill them now? Maybe later. "What kind of boy do you desire?" Hassan asked softly.

    "I don't know," Sakura replied with a distant tone, "I will know when I find him, Old Man in the Mountain." She walked through the districts, "I feel a Servant nearby."

    Both her own readied themselves, as consummate professionals. It was useless. Sakura would kill the Servant herself, along with its Master.

    As she arrived in a black alley, an arrow went next to her ear.

    "One more step, and I won't miss," a female voice said. Sakura noticed the attacker, an Archer class, waiting on a roof. It was a beautiful woman, with long blonde hair, a green mane, and emotionless emerald eyes. She had a lion's ears and tail, and was wearing a green huntress outfit. "Enter our territory at your own peril."

    "Atalanta," Medusa said, materializing, "Is that you?"

    "By Artemis! Medusa?" the huntress blinked. "Yes, it is me. So you are participating to the hunt for that cup as well? It will be nice to compete with you. And these two are your pack?"

    "If you can sense my presence…" Hassan cursed, materializing. "Your senses are indeed legendary, Atalanta the Huntress."

    "An Assassin…" the huntress frowned, before looking at Sakura, "So you are the pack leader?"

    Sakura didn't answer, lost in her thoughts of death and murder. Rider simply nodded. "This is Sakura. And your Master?"

    "Eating and increasing the strength of our pack," Atalanta said. "Why not join us? We are going to hunt a male."

    "I thought you had a vow of virginity?" Medusa asked.

    "I do, but my Master has chosen a companion for mating and producing cubs," Atalanta said. "I do not know her species enough to understand their rituals, but she assured she would raise her children with love. That's all I need to know." Her ears moved. "She has finished recruiting. She will come."

    "By coincidence, we happen to have a similar goal in mind," Hassan said, turning to Sakura. "I humbly suggest we join her. It would make our work faster."

    "It might be fun," Sakura simply said. "After that, we kill nee-san and her Servant."

    Atalanta smiled. "I see. Medusa, I am sure our two packs will crush the one of your leader's rival."

    "I have finished, Atalanta," a girl said, exiting the black alley. It was a teen of Sakura's own age, wearing a yellow and white school uniform. She had short brown hair, and red eyes. She noticed Sakura and her Servants. "Ah… good evening."

    "Satsuki, the pink-haired reptile is an old acquaintance of mine," Atalanta said. "They are hunting a male, too, and they accepted to participate in the hunt as well."

    "Ok…" the girl smiled. She tried to use her Mystic Eyes on the group, probably to make sure they wouldn't attack. "Nice to meet you…"

    "Dead Apostle," Sakura whispered her acknowledgement, "Nice to meet you too."

    "You know?" the girl paled, "And… And you aren't afraid?"

    "No," Sakura replied. "You should be the one afraid of me. I am a worse abomination than you could ever hope to be."

    "Well…" the girl smiled sheepishly, "Do you want to be my friend, then? Besides Atalanta, I haven't had any since my… ah, rebirth. And since I can only walk during the night…"

    The avatar of Angra Mainyu was intrigued. Friend? She knew the term, but not its meaning, "Why not?" she replied. "It might be amusing."

    "Ah! I'm so happy!" Satsuki smiled. "Do you mind if I try to reconvene with someone first? He left my home city after I was bitten, and the voice on my cell phone told me he was here."

    "I am also looking for a toy," Sakura said, "You know your toy's name?"

    "Tohno Shiki," she smiled, "I'll help you find a boyfriend after we get mine."

    Break

    As he read one of Ciel's reports sitting next to his desk, Kotomine Kirei realized he both enjoyed and disliked that new war.

    On the one hand, he loved it because it was a guarantee of bloodshed. Having good people, like Rin, forced to kill others was endlessly entertaining.

    Whoever won would either have to be truly inhuman… or completely broken, like Kiritsugu, at the moment of making a wish. Plus, new Servants meant more victims.

    But, on the other hand, something was off. The Servant he had stolen from Bazett, keeping her as a power source for Gilgamesh, had informed him of the new rules, but had no idea of what that fog was… or how the Grail could work, even if it was supposed to be disabled.

    …or why Command Spells stayed on the body of dead Masters instead of being redistributed. He had seen them stay on the Master's hand, through Cu Chulainn's eyes, after the Servant had killed him and his bodyguard. A pity Emiya and his Servant had come before he could take the body...

    To make things worse, not one, but two Dead Apostle Ancestors were in town. Ciel had informed him of Roa's presence, but it was Gilgamesh who had told him about sighting a flesh eating vampire matching Nrvnqsr's description, after going on a walk.

    In Kotomine's mind, something bigger than a Holy Grail War was happening in his quiet, little town… and he had next to no knowledge on the situation. He didn't like that.

    "Kirei," Gilgamesh greeted, entering the priest's office. He was harboring a sly smirk, and appeared genuinely happy.

    "Gilgamesh," Kotomine replied.

    "Goldie," Cu Chulainn snickered. The priest expected him to be killed on the spot by the golden Archer, but he seemed too happy to even notice.

    "Kirei, has my wish truly be granted?" Gilgamesh chuckled with glee, "Has she been summoned?"

    "Yes," Kirei nodded, abandoning the report's lecture for later. Ignoring the King of Heroes was almost suicidal, even for him. "Rin's description of one of the Servants she met matches the King of Knights. Rejoice, King of Heroes… your wish has been granted."

    "Very good, Kirei," Gilgamesh smiled in pure happiness. "I can finally add this jewel to my collection. Who is her Master?"

    "Emiya Shirou," Kotomine said. The news had made him… happy, just a bit. Yes, Kotomine Kirei had been happy to learn that Kiritsugu had a legacy, a son he could corrupt or kill… probably both… or, in the best case, a person similar to himself! Was Kiritsugu's son as warped as Kotomine himself? He had been interested about it since he'd heard the teen had almost gotten killed trying to save someone who wanted to kill him. Someone with a true sense of self wouldn't do that.

    "Oh? Your rival's son," Gilgamesh mused, "I should have guessed. The Grail has a sense of irony. It's like a rematch."

    "If it truly is the Grail," Kotomine stated, "With all these strange events, I wonder if it truly is the Grail that caused such event. What do you intend to do?"

    "Oh, I will keep my dear King of Knights for the end," Gilgamesh smiled, before frowning. "I have also noticed a few abominations in need of extermination. They are threatening my subjects. It is as if they suddenly decided to gather and try to defy me. A vampire, a walking worm…"

    "Why do you care for the lowlifes?" Cu Chulainn asked, repeating one of Gilgamesh's most used words. Kotomine quickly guessed what the King of Heroes meant by the worm that walked. It seemed Makiri was back in town.

    "I am the king of this world!" Gilgamesh replied, "Killing my subjects, even the most worthless of them, without my authorization, is breaking the law. And law-breakers must be punished, Lancer."

    "Then, do you give me the authorization to have Lancer kill a few of your subjects?" Kirei asked, making both his Servants smirk.

    "Of course, Kirei," Gilgamesh said, "As my most loyal follower, I gladly do you this favor."

    "You're seriously letting me fight?" Cu Chulainn grinned ear to ear. "No more scouting bullshit? Or fighting grade-school heroes?"

    "No more," Kirei said. Now, he had something more interesting in mind. "I want you to locate two Masters and eliminate them: Makiri Zouken and Emiya Shirou. Kill them, and any Master or Servant you might encounter along the way. However, you are forbidden to kill Tohsaka Rin and her Servant, as well as Emiya's Saber."

    "Sounds good to me…!" Cu Chulainn cried with great joy. "At last, I finally get to fight interesting opponents. About time!" He promptly exited the office, closing the door behind, and probably left the church as well in record time.

    "You know my Saber is going to kill him in the end, Kirei?" Gilgamesh mused, "Your obsession with the Emiya line is interesting, but the worm as well? I am intrigued."

    "I have something of a score to settle with Zouken," Kotomine said. "As for Emiya, I want to see what kind of Master he is. I only hope that he will prove to be a very interesting opponent."

    Gilgamesh laughed. "I see. Kirei, you are becoming better with each passing day-"

    "Kotomine-senpai," a voice cut in, opening the door. Ciel entered, wearing her executor uniform, not having noticed Gilgamesh. "I have big news to announce. Aoko Aozaki has been sighed in town, and-" She stopped, having noticed the King of Heroes. "Oh, I apologize. I didn't think you were listening to a confession."

    "This isn't the case, Ciel," Kotomine chuckled, while Gilgamesh was snickering, "This is a respected old companion of mine, who graciously lends me his help from time to time."

    "My name is Gilgamesh, and you would better remember it," the blond hero snorted. "I heard you had a few vampire problems lately. Be happy, I am bored and decided to lead the chase."

    "This is very gracious of you, Gilgamesh-san," Ciel nodded cheerfully.

    "Did you say a sorceress was in town, Ciel?" Kotomine asked.

    "Aoko Aozaki," Ciel nodded. "She might have been in Fuyuki for a long time, I can't say. But it isn't the only important matter. The princess of the True Ancestors has apparently broken through the fog, probably in search of Roa."

    "Truly?" Kotomine wondered. "That is interesting. Roa will be killed soon. And if she can enter the fog, then she might allow others to escape."

    "Kirei," Gilgamesh smirked, "Even I didn't manage to get out. The Grail wants no one in, no one out. This can mean only one thing," He stared at Ciel, "She didn't break through the fog. The Grail made a door and invited her in."

    Ciel frowned. "Roa…"

    A black hound suddenly broke the office's door, backed by two leopards. Each had red eyes.

    Sighing, Kirei took the black keys hidden under his desk. It seemed Fabro Rowan had decided to ignore all survival instinct and attack them directly.
    Then, he felt an ominous presence approaching. A figure entered the office, a shining mace in hand.

    "Servant?" Kirei blinked, as a bright light filled the room.

    Break

    "So you are the mentor of a protagonist, the Chiron to his Achilles?" the man asked, as they approached the building they were looking for.

    "Protagonist?" Aoko Aozaki asked, "I don't see what you mean, Shakespeare."

    The Servant stared at her if she was some kind of crass, uneducated girl. "Isn't it obvious? One of the heroes of this tale, for fair or for foul…" The playwright looked like a man in his forties, with brown hair, a short beard and light brown, almost orange eyes. He was wearing rich green clothing, a black cloak, and gloves. Aoko had accidentally summoned him after answering to a phone call asking her if she would do anything to mess with Touko. Naturally, she'd said yes…

    After realizing her hotel room wasn't big enough for two, she had found an apartment in town. She'd spent the rest of the day visiting the city, with her Servant lifting her baggage. Surprisingly, he hadn't complained in the slightest, even when Aoko decided to return late to the floor.

    "Oh, and why would little Shiki be a protagonist?" she asked cheerfully, "Isn't he a bit young?"

    "Many great stories are about young, impetuous warriors or conquerors," Shakespeare replied. "Your Achilles possesses unique powers, and terrible supernatural events happen when you are about to visit him. I can almost smell a tragedy. I hope your student is nothing like MacBeth, otherwise you may not survive. There is no reason the protagonist cannot be the villain, after all."

    Aoko chuckled. Her Servant always said funny things. He seriously thought it was all a story. "And who is the antigonish of this story, then, in a tale where the protagonist may be the villain?"

    "Antagonist," he corrected her. "An antagonist can be good or evil. It all depends upon the morality of the protagonist. But I guess it will be a vengeful old friend, or someone who murdered one of his relatives. The antagonist would have to be everything your Achilles is not, cruel when he is kind, polite when he is rude."

    "And why shouldn't I be the real protagonist?" Aoko smirked.

    "In my humble opinion as the greatest English playwright of all time… You have next to no chance of being the protagonist," Shakespeare said, "Unless one of your siblings wants to murder you," he amended, "Then? You can be the Abel. But in this case… I think the true protagonist would be your father, lamenting on the death of one child of his flesh."

    "Well… Touko and I don't get along well." This was probably the understatement of the century. "But I already played this play once, and survived. Why can I not be this story's protagonist?"

    "Because your student has a better claim to it," the Caster replied. "And you have summoned me; the one Servant whose only wish is to see this story unfold. So, your role is to mentor the real protagonist, until the antagonist kills you while your Achilles swears revenge on your name, probably professing his eternal love for you."

    "…you do know Shiki is a decade younger than I am, right?"

    "And that is why he will profess his forbidden love for you after your death and not before," Shakespeare stated.

    Aoko rolled her eyes. "I don't believe Shiki is attracted to older women," she said, entering the building, "I've rented an apartment here, in the name of Aoko Aozaki."

    "Aoko Aozaki…" the receptionist said, looking at his computer, "Thirteenth floor number 13B. I must apologize, however, but the proprietary has given the apartment to one of his relatives, whose house was destroyed a few hours ago due to a gas leak incident."

    Aoko clenched her fists, "So where am I supposed to sleep?!"

    "We will find you a room, if you are willing to be patient," the receptionist promised, before realizing she was going forward to the elevator, "Wait, what are you doing?"

    "I have rented this apartment and I am dead tired, so this relative will have to share!" she explained with a frown, Shakespeare next to her "That, or I will bodily kick him out."

    When they arrived at the right floor, they distinctively heard sounds of a fight, and one of the apartments' doors was wide open. Out of curiosity, the duo looked inside, being welcomed by a very strange scene.

    First, a teen was literally wiping the floor with Tohno Shiki's face, holding a submachine gun against his temple.

    Second, a girl with foxy ears and a tail was chatting pleasantly with a blonde, whose body was cut in half at the waist.

    Third, a female knight was exchanging blows using an invisible sword against a golden spearman.

    "I take back what I said. You might be the protagonist," Shakespeare said, Aoko's broken mind barely processing his words. "I think, perhaps, that this story is a black comedy, and we are the only sane characters in it. I can already imagine the uproarious laughter of the audience."

    "Shakespeare… shut up."

    Author Dojo

    "Hello everyone!" Taiga smiled. "This is Author Dojo, the place where chapters are commented with laughter, and author notes explained with humor! I'm Tiger Taiga, your guide!"

    "I'm Slayer Ars, number one student and beta of the story!" Tohsaka Rin jumped on place. "I have taken the form of Tohsaka Rin for the hell of it!"

    "Yes, wallflower alliance between Sakura and Satsuki! 'Cause together they can have a major role! And yep, Shakespeare rocks! Plus, Aoko will be a good mentor to Shirou and Shiki... and a terrifying Caster class Servant even if she isn't 'cause she's just that goooooddddd!"

    "Also, Shirou with a gun?" Slayer Ars smirked. "Can you spell Unlimited Gun Works?"

    "Next time!" Tiger Taiga smiled. "Shiki gets pwned, Shakespeare finds the protagonist after a long spiritual quest involving a fast food, and the church gets redecorated! Please review, and get your membership card for the Author Dojo!"
  23. Couch-Gamer On fire. Literally.

    Shakespeare, you do not know how right you are.
  24. harouki Calling it now. Neo is Best Girl.

    when you say "beta" do you mean just look at it and say it's good? Because there are still a few mistakes I can see...

    You mean, Caster, right?

    "We were unable to contact them" or "We haven't managed to contact them" would work better here.

    No Idea what you want to say here.

    "Saber-chan and I" would be grammatically correct unless you did this on purpose

    You also have Caster calling Shirou both Master Shirou and Goshujin-sama. Pick one and stick with it.

    There were probably a few more mistakes but I don't remember them as well after the first read through.
  25. For the beta, the problem is that English is my second language, being French. So I leave a few errors, and Ars corrected most of them. Some pass under the radar, unfortunately.

    Nope, it's Rin. She just found the nickname odd.

    I will edit that part.

    Shirou just wants her to drop the 'Master' part and just call him Shirou.

    Will edit that part too.

    If you find any other mistake, don't hesitate to point them, so I can correct them and improve.

    Couch-Gamer: Shakespeare just played and spoiled Tsukihime XD

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