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Burnout
March 30th, 2011, 05:20 AM
(Heya, all- Burnout here, back from a long absence. First things first- OH GOD, IT'S ALL GONE. Alas, I didn't back up most of my stuff, so what you see is what you get.

Anyway, the following story-in-progress began as one of the 'potential futures' on Kieran's 'Enishi' anthology. It's also a prequel to Fate/Phantoms, a story featuring Reiji Azuma from Phantom of Inferno as the Heroic Spirit Assassin, and his Master, Ichiro Tanaka, the protege of Emiya Shirou, as they fight for survival in the Sixth War of the Holy Grail, thirty years after the events of F/SN. Astute readers will note that the nightmare sequence in the beginning is missing- Again, it vanished with the old site.)


Six years ago- A moment in time:


The sun hung low and lazy over the horizon, a red, sweltering orb drawing long, arching shadows across the earth. In the warm, sultry hours of the evening, the air was still, the soft hum of cicadas just beyond the elegant sweep of the gazebo.


Beyond the high hedge encircling the pavilion, an ornamental water garden lay in shadowy ruin. The height of the hedge and the neighbouring trees, spiky black silhouettes against the velvet sky, screened out what was left of the direct sunlight. The gloom upon the gardens was almost misty, as I rested my head on folded arms, glad of the relief from the high-backed chair behind me. I was bored, bored and restless~ A low, long sigh sawing from my throat, as I reached up to straighten the starched collar of my shirt, still clumsy and stiff in my new clothes. They felt strange, scratchy against my skin, as I combed my fingers through my short black hair, tracing the slow spirals of the fireflies as they ascended into the dimming day…


-I didn’t understand any of it. Why I’d been brought here. Why Shirou had told me to wait, with that disarming smile of his, right before he’d turned with a sweep of his red coat, following Lord Strasberg into that crumbling ruin of a manor, speaking in hushed tones. It’d been a full hour since he’d been gone, by my reckoning- An *eternity* to a child.


I slid from the chair, my shoes clacking on the stony tiles as I padded away, my curiosity piqued by the fragile garden, ethereal ghost ferns and weeping trees had edged the pools. A causeway, like a bridge of striated white marble, arched across the still pond; Into the thick bank of the woods beyond, the trees rising like black spires, silhouetted in profile. Not for the first time, I marvelled at how *quiet* it was- The silence interrupted only by the splash of fish, the rustle of the cicadas…


It felt…strange, somehow, to be alone and yet not. I could still remember those long, quiet days, when the house- A thousand miles away, now- had been quiet, when I’d been alone with my books, always waiting for the familiar creak of the door opening- To see Shirou again, his eyes kindly beneath his shock of white hair; Lanky frame moving with an awkward, familiar grace, as his heavy boots clopped on the wooden floor. If the lines on his too-young face were deeper, the slope to his shoulders more pronounced, each time I saw him…Well, perhaps I didn’t let myself notice.


But since that day- When Aunt Rin had visited, for the first time in years- When Shirou had told me that we were going to ‘London’, little more than just a sound to me- everything was different. I wasn’t quite sure if I liked it, yet.


I knelt, and with a flick of my wrist, sent a pebble skimming across the surface of the pond. It skipped, ripples, hard black circles, radiating out across the reflective pool- Catching a flicker of light from the trees across the water, a spark that vanished as quickly as it’d appeared. I kept walking, one slow step at a time, drawing closer to where I’d glimpsed the elusive flutter of yellow flame…My curiosity piqued, pushing through the tangled blackness of the straggly trees. Something *stung*- A thorny bough, whipping across my hand- but I concentrated, just as I’d been taught, and pushed the ache away with an effort of will, refusing to let it hurt.


And yet- It was then I hesitated, knowing that I’d been told to ‘stay here’- But he hadn’t meant *here* here, had he? Besides, I could always go back- Right? A glance over my shoulder- And the pavilion was right where it’d always been, the lawn before the mansion still empty. Reassured, I pushed on, forging ahead, ignoring the way branches tugged and scratched at my new clothes…


I heard a sound- A distinctive thunk- in the distance. Then again, two more in rapid succession, muffled and far away. Closer, now, as I turned towards it- pushing through the undergrowth, towards the grove I could glimpse *just* beyond the treeline…


I emerged all at once, branches splintering underfoot- Entirely curious at the distinctly *odd* structure before me. Half a dozen squat, rectangular shapes- Fabric on wooden frames, entwined circles painted in oddly garish colors, each one bristling with an uneven number of straight, wavering shafts, pointed and fletched- Almost like…


*Arrows*


There was a hiss, then the solid *thunk* of impact, as the next shot whispered through the air, a black-fletched arrow meeting the target, the broadhead punching right *through* the wooden surface- a mere *inch* from my face.


“Gah~!” My foot slipped, and I fell, scrambling back on my hands and feet- feeling that instinctive *rush* that comes with a near-fatal brush, turning to see *exactly* who the archer was. An answering *gasp* from close by, the soft *thump* of a bow hitting the ground- I glimpsed a slender figure, pale blonde hair wafting in the still air; Fumbling with her blindfold, as grey eyes settled on me- Quizzically at first, then widening with alarm.


Behind me, I heard a shout- Then a muffled exclamation, followed by heavy feet, crashing through the trees, pushing through; Shirou barging right through at a *run*, Lord Strasberg on his heels, as- Very slowly, still shaking- I rose, with the slow-dawning realization that I was in *trouble*…


I saw Shirou shake his head, a low chuckle in his throat as he knelt beside me- Giving me the once-over, looking distinctly amused. “-Ichiro,” he said, resting a hand on my shoulder. “I’d like you to meet Lord Strasberg’s daughter- Elise von Strasberg.”


*************************

NOW:


She was *angry*. I could tell that just from the way she walked. Usually, Elise held her head high, hands clasped demurely before her in tutored elegance; Now, though her posture was decidedly spiky, almost fierce, full of attitude, the *clack* of her heeled boots echoing her annoyance. I’d always suspected she was compensating for her physique, but being on the receiving end was vaguely…Unsettling.


I couldn’t help but sigh, rubbing at red mark on my cheek; She hit harder than *ever*, with each passing year. Then again, I couldn’t help but think, maybe I deserve it.


It’d been a little awkward when she’d been shaken awake- There was a moment, when she’d murmured drowsily, her eyes soft with relief- A simply heart-melting smile on her face, when she’d seen that I was all right…And *then* she’d hit me *hard*, so hard my head rang as I sprawled back on the bed.


Doctor Reynard had merely chuckled, lounging back in his chest as the door *slammed*, hard enough to rattle the frame; “-Better get after her,” he’d suggested, arching a bushy eyebrow as I snatched my coat from the chair, pausing just long enough for a hurried “Thanks!”.


The Clock Tower’s corridors- Polished marble tiles, forever lit by the yellow flame-light of lanterns- were as cold as ever, the bracing bite of the air making me wince as I shrugged on my coat, jogging after her…Then falling into step behind her, when I’d caught up. The effort sent hazed out my vision, for a moment, a throb of pain in my temples. It hardly seemed fair- All that time asleep, and my head still hurt. I stopped for a deep, steeling breath- Then had to hustle, to catch up with her again.


“Elise,” I began, doing my level best to sound apologetic; “Elise, I’m *sorry*.”


She didn’t even look at me. “I’m sure.”


“Oh. Oh, uh…I guess you are.” Well, at least she was talking to me. That was a good star-


She stopped. Her slim shoulders relaxed, and I heard something like a sigh, as she turned- Her grey eyes travelling down to my feet- And my mismatched socks- fighting a smile, despite the flash of exasperation in her gaze. “Really,” Elise murmured, a wry note to her voice; “How do you ever manage?”


“-I don’t know what you mean,” I answered, trying *very* hard to look natural- And my level best not to smile.


“I mean…Hurting yourself. All the time. Remember that accident with Schneider?”


“Sparring practice,” I countered, but winced all the same; That hadn’t been fun.


“The time you almost gave yourself nerve damage?”


“Lord El-Melloi *approved* it! I didn’t know it’d be dan-“ I paused, and nodded, meekly, feet scraping against the ground. “…I- guess you’re right. I don’t *want* to make you worry, but…”


Elise ‘hmmm’ed’, her fingers drumming on her sleeve- At times like this, I couldn’t help but remember how she’d almost *shot* me, the very first time we’d met~ I liked to think I *could* have caught it, but I couldn’t even convince myself of that. *Shirou* could have. I was sure of it. “I know,” she murmured, reaching out- Her nimble fingers straightening my coat, lingering on my arms for a moment before she drew away.


Was that the beginnings of a flush in her cheeks? Elise didn’t *quite* look at me, though I heard the slight, embarrassed quiver to her voice- the absent way she brushed her scarf back over her shoulder, like a nervous tic-


Somewhere, in the distance, the great bells tolled out the hour, low, sonorous, shivering through the hall in a wave of sound. From deep within, an unpleasant memory bubbled up- I recalled, quite distinctly, the way Professor Waver had made a discreet mark on his notepad; The way he’d agreed to set aside time from his busy schedule- As a man of great importance- to *explain* to me the meaning of the mandalas that coiled down my arm like tame serpents…Right about now.


“Ichiro?” Elise sounded startled, alarmed. “-Ichiro, you’ve gone pale. Is everything-“


“-No time,” I informed her, and swept Elise off her feet. She weighed absolutely *nothing*, as I lifted her in my arms- The world shading into stark relief, a familiar throb against my spine as I drew power from *within*…


“-Wait, are you…”


I ran. My legs snapped like shears- The corridors blurred past in a ghostly smear as Enhancement sorcery boiled through my nerves, green sparks ambling across my limbs, the scent of ozone in my nostrils as I picked up speed, mind jittering with the frenetic *rush* of sped-up perceptions-


Down the corridor. Up a flight of stairs, sprinting past a startled student, already recoiling from the speed-distorted blur that rushed past him- To the balcony overlooking the grassy courtyard of the Administrative block-


I curled my legs beneath me, and *leapt*. The onrushing wind plucked at us~ I could feel Elise flailing against me, even as I tensed for the landing; Eyes going wide at the perfect blue surface of the pond *directly* beneath, which really shouldn’t have been there…


This, I decided, was going to *suck*.


“Ahhhhh, Ichiro! You idiottttt~!!!”


I heard Elise inhale sharply- Squeezing my eyes shut just in time- and speak. There was a *sound*, a single syllable that seemed to *echo*, in ways beyond merely physical; The air twisted, an incandescent thunderclap of light and sound scribbling red lines against the insides of my eyelids - The ringing in my ears dying away, as leathery wings stroked the air in furious beats...


-And then we were tumbling across the manicured lawn, the world spinning end-over-end, before a bone-jarring *thud* rattled my teeth. I uncurled, fetching up against the bowl of a carved marble fountain, the stone-etched worthies gazing down disapprovingly on us. There was a moment of confusion, as Elise extricated herself from the tangle; Even as I hauled myself up, clutching the edge for support.


“Is…everything…you do, so…” she gasped, breathlessly- “…entertaining?”


I considered that, with a thoughtful frown. “Actually, come to think of it; Yes. Probably.”

****************************

“I believe,” Professor Waver, aka Lord El-Melloi II, aka Head of the Nonlinear Calculus division, observed, “-I told you to come alone.”


His private office opened before us, vast and stark. An expanse of polished onyx floor- A few simple, soft chairs; A flat trestle desk. The walls was rendered in soothing earth-tones, but there were no pictures, paintings or decorations, other than the worn red carpet underfoot, a sculpture- An abstract twist of burnished steel- in the corner.


I stiffened, tension making my jaw clench. I’d always believed the professor to be fairly easygoing, almost avuncular- He’d always emanated a sense of mellow wisdom, combined with an oddly impish sense of humor- But now, perched solemnly on his chair, fingers knotted before him, he looked downright intimidating. Perhaps it was his voice, incisive, dispassionate where it should have been soft~ Or the absence of the knurled wooden pipe he usually carried, smoldering with foul-smelling…But oddly reassuring- tobacco.


-Beside me, I felt Elise start, a slight shiver to her form; Our hands brushed, and I felt the minute tremble in her fingers…


The creases on his face deepened around his mouth, and he made a tsk sound of mild disapproval; then sighed, waving us to the soft, plain chairs. “-Very well.” Elise shot me a surprised, oddly grateful glance, seated beside me, facing the desk~ Even as Waver just…stared at us. At me, for a moment, as if wondering how to break the bad news.


And it would be bad. Because I knew. I could feel it.


This would be ugly.


At length, he spoke. “-Show me. Again.”


Slowly, hesitantly, I raised my left arm, drawing back my sleeve- Revealing the crimson lines etched, as if by a sculptor’s chisel, into my flesh; In the room’s light, they seemed almost black, their brushstroke-fine curves seeming to form an abstract face- Or a skull, I realized, with a superstitious shudder.


“So it’s true.” The simple sadness in his voice brought a knotted fist to my throat. The Professor sighed, and rose; He paced away, turning to face the solitary window, gazing out at the grounds below, unseeing- As if in contemplation of something I couldn’t hope to imagine. Then, seemingly decided, he rounded his desk, with the slightly forced smile of a good man trying to soften the blow.


“What do you know,” he began, “-About the War of the Holy Grail?”


**************************

The practice chambers in the subterranean levels beneath the Clock Tower were a Spartan affair, all whitewashed walls and padded mats; I’d rested badly, my mind more troubled than ever- And for the second time in three days, I’d missed sword drill. That, at least, I could remedy.


-But now…Even as I ran through the familiar stances, my thoughts wandered.


Perhaps, I allowed, it was because of Tyrfing.


Long and straight and heavy, a blade the color of mirror-polished tungsten. The arch of the sword, from forte to tip, graceful and smooth as brushstrokes- Each measured *sweep* of the weapon sucking light from the air, as if the eye could not hold it. The eager, fractious *hum* vibrating up my spine as I fed power through the hilt, turning and slicing and looping, my muscles remembering the old skills and training…


-It’d rested in its tripartite box of sealed red earth for, far, far too long. Awake, it was hungry, the irresistible edge longing to be used, shivering so fast it was still. In my mind’s eye, I could *see* it, as it drew on my Od; An electric current leaping from the core of my being, twisting into the hilt like gauss serpents, purring it’s song into my subconscious.


More than just a weapon. A legend from the deep past, a crystallization of myth, into a hand-and-a-half span of burnished black steel…Just *holding* it, using it like this, should have been intoxicating. Except…


He’d taught me to fence, first with bamboo, then the solid weight of a bokken, on the sun-warmed courtyard outside that cosy failure of a house. The rhythm of it- The clack of wood on wood, the soreness in my muscles, the familiar *whuff* of breath each time Shirou unveiled a new trick of wrist and footing, one at a time…Always teaching, never scolding- Approving? Or just tolerant?


The thought made me wince, as I closed out the second motion, sweeping Tyrfing across in a fencer’s salute. A richer Magus would’ve called up Puppets to practice on- Testing the edge against their capering outlines- but I’d never had the luxury. I exhaled, slowly, letting the focus I’d summoned recede- Tyrfing’s hum fading to a drone, then a whisper, as it sank back- so very reluctantly- into slumber.


I heard the soft, deliberate clap of measured applause, and turned; Glancing at the figure framed in the doorway of the circular room, just beyond the perfect, diffused rectangles of illumination cast by the lights. There was an instinctive *tug* on my arm- a tiny spasm, as Tyrfing tried vainly to rise- as Schneider sauntered in, wandering around the edge of the mat.


He grinned at me, a flash of perfect white teeth, gloved hands patting together, his hair drawn back in a brief brown ducktail; “-Never thought I’d actually see it for myself,” Schneider observed, ascending the short steps to the practice platform- Each step measured and slow, as if deep in thought. “Isn’t it a little late for practice?”


I shrugged, carefully sliding Tyrfing back into its lacquered scabbard, then into the insulated carrying case, clicking the bolt shut. “Just making up for lost time. I’d ask why you were here, except…” A pause. “-Getting away from Grania, Viktorov?”


“Which one?” he chuckled at his own quip, pausing at the blade rack- There was the *clack* of blunted steel as he selected two practice gladii, matching. He tossed one to me, with a flick of his wrist; I caught it by the quillons, closing my fingers around the knobbed hilt. Schneider’s feet slapped on the mat, as he advanced, taking a practice swing; “Up for a match?”


I glanced at him, dubiously, angling the gladius in a high guard- My ribs twinged with phantom pain, remember the *last* time we’d sparred…


Schneider caught my look, and straightened, a mischievous spark in his green eyes; “-Worried? I’ll go easy on you *this* time, I promise. Besides, the *last* time-“


I lunged. He parried, his weapon clenched in a reverse grip- A clash of steel on steel, as he batted the blow high, countering with a backhand *sweep* I sprang back from. We began to circle, my eyes darting to the red boundary of the mat; a heartbeat before Schneider spun in, with a flurry of blows, high then low, sending me lurching back. Somehow, I rallied, countering with furious, hacking strokes- which he simply dodged, with a twitch of his head to the side, striking only air.


“-Was *entirely* your fault.” He continued, with every sign of amusement- The smile hadn’t left his face as he switched his grip, sliding into a knife-fighter’s stance with practiced ease...His gaze never wavering, unblinking, waiting for the infinitesimal twitch that’d herald the next exchange…


“So, you’re here for…?” I began, content to let the moment stretch- My hands still stinging from the clash. He was very, *very* good- Lightning-quick on his feet, with even his most extended strikes delivered with punishing force.


His blade lashed out, and I blocked, with a solid *clang* of impact- Too easily. The riposte hissed past my face, like a striking serpent- Right before I counterchopped, forcing him to spin away, momentarily out of reach. “That’s the spirit,” Schneider chuckled, his arms spread, gladius held out and to his side; I leveled the blunted point at his chest, in unconscious mimicry of his stance. “Did he teach you that one, too?”


I smiled, thinly. “What do you think?”


“Maybe I’ll ask him myself, when he gets here-“


I lowered my guard, completely. “Shirou’s coming here?” I blurted out, disbelieving. “Really?”


“No.” I didn’t even see him move. There was a clang~ a brittle flare of sparks, a sting in my fingers- And the gladius went skidding away from my numbed hand, skittering across the mat as the flat took me squarely across the chest. The breath whuffed from my lungs as I hit the mat, momentarily stunned-


“The look on your face!” Schneider laughed, shaking his head- But sobered. “-Yes, he is. He really is.” His voice dropped, into an authoritative hush; “They *all* are.”


“Funny,” I growled, sitting up; “You expect me to believe that?” The last time there’d been a Recall- a Grand Council, if memory served- was almost a full century ago- September the first, 1939…


“Well. There *is* the matter of the War…”


I froze, almost- The echo of Professor Waver’s words still fresh in my mind- before I realized, with something like relief, that he hadn’t meant the Heaven’s Feel…But the Great War, that strangest of conflicts- One that’d set everything teetering on the edge, that’d threatened the ‘common sense’ of the world itself…


Now I knew. At long last, the guilty and the innocent alike, were being called back to answer. I couldn’t help but wonder, though…What if-


I got up, my fingers finding the hilt of the gladius; Grasping it in both hands, now.


“Again.”


“Again? Really?”


“Of course. Third time counts for all.”

Burnout
March 30th, 2011, 05:21 AM
It was later. Four times the winner I was, Schneider had left, leaving me to nurse my new bruises- "Keep at it," he'd laughed, with a jaunty wave- In a tone that would've been smug, if he hadn't been right.


An hour and a liberal dosing of anasthetic salve later, I leaned back from my work, adjusting the magnifying lens clipped over one eye; On the workbench before me, stretched out, pinned down by silver filaments, the crow clacked it's hooked beak, beady-bright eyes rolling in perfectly machined sockets. The tiny gears of it's chassis rattled, beneath layers of red muscle and tendon- Delicate wired mechanisms forming circuit-pattern traceries across it's outstretched wings.


"-Go back to sleep," I ordered, and the crow's eyes blinked shut. Metal glinted, faintly, beneath implanted feathers- Talons skritching weakly against the desk as it drowsed. The precise surgical incisions I'd made were sealing shut, the way a smile slowly fades; Still soaking in nutrient-rich gel, the automata's clockwork heart beat, a slow, lazy rhythm...


There was a knock at the door.


"Ichiro?" The voice was muffled, yet familiar. "-Are you in?"


"Just a moment," I called- I set the scalpel down, tugging my smock off. At a gesture, the bolt ratcheted itself back, drawn by an unseen hand- And Elise peeked past the doorjamb, stepping in lightly as the door swung shut behind her.


My jaw dropped. "W-what are you..." I began, and shook my head- "How did you get *in* here?"


"Hmmmm~" Elise said, thoughtfully, tapping her chin with a long, tapered finger. "You don't look too happy to see me..."


I was. I really was. As far back as I could remember, though, the student dorms had been strictly segregated- The Clock Tower's idea of proprietary was, well, positively Victorian.


Two quick steps took me to the window, and I moved to pull the curtains close- But the air had become close and slightly muffled, the glass darkening, slowly, to opacity...


-I caught Elise's eye, and she shrugged, simply. A privacy field- Right. The thought drew a chuckle from my throat- Of course she'd come prepared.


I keep forgetting she's smarter than me.


***********************


"So *this* is your room, Ichiro? Wow..." Elise breathed, wide eyes sweeping across the multitudionous cabinets and arrays of drawers, built to keep my materials clean, separate and at hand. She did a little spin, the hem of her dress whirling about her- A smile brighter than the sun on her face.


"-It's Shirou's room," I amended, doing my best not to stare; "I moved in when he graduated, so..." My voice trailed off. He hadn't lived in this room, not really; Only the shelves and drawers he'd cobbled together- And left to gather dust- set it apart from the empty ones a floor above.


A single toss of her head, to swing her hair back from luminous grey eyes; "You missed Language Arts," Elise noted, a trifle airily, as if speaking to no-one in particular.


"Uh, sorry. I was with Schneider."


"...And the Conservatory Lectures."


"Really? Damn."


There was a 'whuff' as Elise sat down on the bed, drawing her legs up to her chest; "Ichiro," she began, tilting her head to the side bemusedly- "*How* long have you been in here, exactly?"


"A while," I allowed, tossing my balled smock onto the half-complete automata- It settled, like a shroud, rendering the scattered arcs of tools and components mere blots beneath the anoymous surface. I'd been working from memory, from the half-cohered schematics in my Crest...Like a dream on the very tip of my tongue, one I couldn't quite remember...


"Mmmm-hmmm," Elise sighed, half-serious. "-Locking yourself in your room, with...ummmmmm," she waved, as if finding the words. "Are you sure you didn't...hit your head, or something?"


I gave her a dubious look, and she laughed. "-Just kidding!" Then, more softly, "...I was worried."


That filled me with sudden, overpowering shame. "I'm sorry," I looked away- I couldn't quite meet her frank gaze. "I'll make it up to you."


"R-e-a-l-l-y~?" She drew the word out into a question, arching a slim eyebrow...


"Hey, that's harsh. I'm not *that* unreliable."


Elise made a noncommital noise, as she lay back~ The springs creaked, gently, her blonde hair spreading a tousled halo around her elegant features. "...So?"


"'So'?"


Her foot nudged me in the ribs. "-Come on, you know what I mean. What are you going to do?"


I exhaled, slowly, rubbing at my temples. "...I don't know." Lord El-Melloi's brief talk had left me rattled. Even now, it weighed on my mind; Half-cohered thoughts of Servants and sorcery and battle, all in his clipped, precise tones. My arm ached, as I pulled the sleeve back, slowly; In the soft glow of the lamps, the mandalas etched onto my skin were the faintest shade of crimson.


Such a small thing. A world-changing thing.


At the very end, he'd sounded almost kindly, as if speaking to a relative suffering a bereavement; The pungent fug of pipe smoke had swirled around him, as he tapped the ash out. "-You should start making plans. It could come in six months, a year, or ten years...It's still too early to be certain."


"You...You're not *considering*- You're not actually thinking of *going*, are you?" There was a note of alarm to Elise's voice, now.


"...I'm-" I began, and stopped, not quite trusting myself to speak. Then: "Elise," I said. "-If you could wish for anything- Anything at all- What would you ask for?"


Silence. She bit her lip, thoughtfully, clearly thinking it over...Then shook her head, slowly. "I think," Elise answered, slowly, thoughtfully- "You should ask him."


"Shirou?"


"-He'd know, won't he?"


"...I guess." How much of life is spent in rehearsal, I thought. The training, the studies- All of it just pantomime, in preparation for the real thing. Now, though- The wars were over and done with.


Barring this one, of course.


-I didn't want to ask him. I didn't. It was stubborn, even perverse, of me, but some irrational mulishness wouldn't let me be sensible about it.


It felt too much like running away.


I started, as I felt something soft press against me- Elise's arms encircling me from behind. She leaned into me, stray strands of hair tickling my chin. "-Oh, Ichiro," she murmured, her warm breath tickling the skin on my back. "What's wrong?"


I turned my head, to look right into her eyes- Her gaze warm, patient and infinitely understanding. "Nothing, now," I said, lightly, as the knots in my heart eased. "I just can't believe how lucky I am."


She blushed, and I grunted as she poked me in the ribs. "Flatterer."


"It's true."


"-So you'll talk to him?"


I nodded, slowly, moving my hand to cover hers. "I promise," I said, and I meant it.


Even as a companionable silence settled, my gaze fell on Tyrfing, slumbering in it's coffin of brushed steel. The ruby in the hilt glinted with a hard-edged light, quite defying the soft glow of the lamps.


It seemed to be watching me.

Kieran
March 30th, 2011, 07:11 AM
Yay - you're back! Good to see you - and this is so much easier to follow as one piece (and with "Phantoms" close by as an easy reference!). :)

Burnout
March 30th, 2011, 07:39 AM
Haha, it's good to be back. I have a new chapter for Phantoms, too- Alas, I don't have the rest of the story. Not backing it up, in hindsight, was a bad idea. I'm trying to depict daily life in the Association, in way that doesn't get too fantastical- It's not Negima, after all. The closest I can think of is equal parts foreign university and boot camp.

meevanhelot
March 30th, 2011, 10:49 AM
IRUN backed it up it seems. He's got the previous chapters posted here in fanfics somewhere.

ItsaRandomUsername
March 30th, 2011, 10:53 AM
I'll post everything that was released up to this point, and then I'll let Burnout take it from there.

ItsaRandomUsername
March 30th, 2011, 11:43 AM
Okay, I posted everything of Fate/Phantoms up to date. You may take over from me when ready.

Burnout
March 30th, 2011, 11:49 AM
Gah, I must've missed that! Thanks a lot- I thought it was all gone forever, after the site went down! I really, really owe you one; Thanks again for saving my fic. University life is kind of running roughshod over me, but I should be able to update more often after this block of assignments is over.

ItsaRandomUsername
March 30th, 2011, 11:51 AM
Hey, no problem. Glad to be of help. After all, it would have been a horrible shame for it to be lost forever, right?

Burnout
March 30th, 2011, 12:06 PM
I'm certainly glad you think so. Also, FORESHADOWING.