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Arashi_Leonhart
July 14th, 2011, 09:06 PM
I guess I can get off my lazy ass and actually put this up here like everyone else so people don't have to go to stupid buggy FFN that messes with my formatting and doesn't do double exclamation points for some reason. And I can stop using the rec page for responding to comments.

...But now I get to curse my use of italics. This may take a while.


Table of Contents
Prologue, Chapter 1 (Bowman and Bow), Chapter 2 (The Addition) (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=209018&viewfull=1#post209018) and Omake 1
Chapter 3 (The Peaceful Noise), Chapter 4 (Altered Life), Interlude 4-1 (Nocking the Bow) (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=209085&viewfull=1#post209085)
Chapter 5 (Seven of Swords), Chapter 6 (Dead Apostle Apostle) (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=209155&viewfull=1#post209155) and Omake 2
Interlude 6-1 (Disassociation), Interlude 6-2 (The Average One) (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=209185&viewfull=1#post209185)
Chapter 7 (Henshin), Chapter 8 (Shores of a Distant Land) (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=209342&viewfull=1#post209342) and Omake 3
Chapter 9 (Unlimited Blades, Endless Addition), Chapter 10 (Change), Interlude 10-1 (Star of Darkness) (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=210024&viewfull=1#post210024) and Omake 4
Chapter 11 (Crucified), Chapter 12 (Heaven's Feeling) (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=210037&viewfull=1#post210037)
Chapter 13: Hell's Desire (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=217708&viewfull=1#post217708)
Chapter 14: Connection (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=230476&viewfull=1#post230476)
--Chapter 14-1: Back to Back (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=233845&viewfull=1#post233845) and Omake 5
--Chapter 14-2: Embracing You (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=243821&viewfull=1#post243821) and Omake 6
Chapter 15: Ortensia Bloom (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=254709&viewfull=1#post254709)
Interlude 15-1: The Philosopher's Stone (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=260574&viewfull=1#post260574)
Chapter 16: Shooting Hundred Heads (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=265766&viewfull=1#post265766)
Chapter 17: Strategy Meeting (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=269557&viewfull=1#post269557)
Chapter 18: Garden of Sins (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=271798&viewfull=1#post271798)
Chapter 19: Place of Victory (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=271991&viewfull=1#post271991)
Chapter 20: This Body... (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=279245&viewfull=1#post279245)
Chapter 21: Diablos Ex Machina (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=285414&viewfull=1#post285414)
Chapter 22: Reaching Fate (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=287958&viewfull=1#post287958)
Epilogue (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=295107&viewfull=1#post295107)

Extra notes (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=304081&viewfull=1#post304081).

-----


Escaping Fate
Prologue

She had to be strong.

Even if the anesthetic didn’t help. Even if the pain was terrible. Even if every moment felt like dying would be better.

When he cut into her body, it wasn’t a physical pain. It wasn’t like a person was stabbing into her with steel and cutting up her organs. It wasn’t like he was penetrating her from every direction and flooding her with illness.

Even though he was.

Every incision, no matter how careful and delicate, felt like it split her in two. Like her body was being bent in ways it could never achieve even if she were hit by a train. The steel slipped into her body and it took nothing from her, but left behind the sensation that it had taken everything.

He did it again, and again, and again, and again, until she was sure he had cut every inch of her skin.

But she had to be strong.

If she wasn’t strong, he would move on to the next one. She had seen it before, seen her senpai taken under his wing and never return. Sometimes, it would take weeks. Other times, a single day. Until nobody older than she was left. And then she was next.

And if she wasn’t strong, he would move on.

So she waited, soundlessly screaming, unable to escape, unwilling to escape.

She wanted to last longer...

She hoped to die faster...



BGM on (http://youtu.be/dW_uDYgZBAQ)

The boundary was broken.

Setsuka Yuushi dropped the scalpel and glanced around. The boundary field he had placed around the facility had been breached and he could feel the magic disperse like raindrops around him. He looked to the northern wall and thought he could detect the intrusion from that direction.

Growling, the man removed the blood-stained gloves and apron he wore and went to wash his hands, considering the situation and his options. It took more than the average magus to penetrate his wards and the fact that he had not even been aware that anyone was attempting to break them in the first place had him worried. A magus killer? I haven’t offended anyone to warrant such an enemy. The Association does not observe me, of that I’m sure...nobody wants to come all the way out to this backwater. He rinsed the lab sink clean, absently willing his work station clean in preparation for the next use.

Looking back at the operating table and the tiny figure still bleeding atop it, he thought of the answer. It must be that local brat, thinking I’m intruding on her territory. He had overheard a conversation from an Edelfelt, however, that the local family’s riches were dwindling, and considering the breakthrough he was about to make, he thought he might have a chance to solve any challenge peacefully. And if not, well, she should not have intruded upon my home ground. He made sure to retrieve the scalpel, however, and placed it in the protective pocket in his shirt breast.

Exiting the lab, he had to navigate an intricate path of halls and doorways, eventually climbing up a flight of stairs and into the garage. Locking the door behind him and activating the ward over it, he wove past the parked vehicles and came out into the open world to find the sun blocked by an overcast sky. He peered into the second story window of the main house and was pleased to see no disruption in the daily classes going on in the orphanage. The new specimen is certainly interesting and shows promise, but I would hazard a guess that she is on her last twelve hours. It is good to have so many spares.

BGM off

It took Yuushi a good twenty minutes to remove himself from the laboratory and circumvent the main house, doubly difficult in the dim light provided by the weather. The grove where he had built the orphanage lent the location a great deal of privacy, though it also meant that he had to be extra cautious of ambush since the intruders had penetrated the main defense. Upon reaching the border of the boundary field and looking around, Yuushi had second thoughts of his enemy. No signs of interruption via incantation, nor curse-breaking. It just looks...broken. Like a fence being pried open. He considered what could create such a disruption in his field, but came up with no answers.

The murmur of multiple voices caught Yuushi’s attention and he turned back toward the main house. He could not see through the tree line, but after reinforcing his ears, he could make out a distinctive feminine voice and the annoying chatter of excited children. “Everyone, follow me please, and keep a hand on the person in front of you!”

What is this, some kind of naïve rescue operation? Yuushi started toward the house at a good chip and wondered at the intelligence of whoever the intruder was. Perhaps I will thank you for giving me such a strategic advantage, if you are really here to save those kids.

“The look on your face tells me everything I need to know.”

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTcPaBt_pFA)

Yuushi dove behind the largest tree the moment he heard the voice ahead of him, pulling the scalpel out and readying it. No attack came, however, and doubly confusing was the voice: that of a young man. Wasn’t Tohsaka a girl? He fed the necessary prana into the scalpel and readied it. “And just who am I addressing?”

He honed in on the reply and Reinforced his ears to find the exact location. Far away, wary of a line-of-sight curse no doubt. Fine with me. The words from the unknown enemy, however, took a moment to sink in. “Nothing but a mere archer, you could say.” There was mirth in the voice, like letting a person in on a joke amidst friends.

“What is it you want?” Yuushi asked.

The intruder said, “If you thought your experiments would go unnoticed, then I have to wonder at your intelligence as a magus, setting up so close to a leyline closely observed by even magi of the Association.”

“My boundary fields are second to none,” Yuushi said. He estimated the distance between them and thought of the different approaches to strike, all without sacrificing any cover. “You seem to be knowledgeable of the Association, so you ought to know my teacher was the best at barriers. Araya Souren.”

“Eh,” the voice said, and it began a slow approach. “I don’t actually know that much, and I don’t actually care one way or the other about the Association or its members.”

“Then what do you care about? Why are you here?”

“Those lives aren’t your playthings, and I’m here to save them.”

Yuushi readied the scalpel. “And I suppose nothing I could say will convince you to just go away and leave me alone?”

“Not unless you give me a magical contract stating you will cease your experiments. You might as well, anyway, because if it isn’t me, you know you’ll call the Counter Force down on you eventually.”

Not with my barriers as they are, Yuushi sighed. “I do hate bloodshed, but if that is your ultimatum...”

Though he could not make out the intruder’s location visually, he knew where the target stood. Reaching out like a conductor to an orchestra, Yuushi mimed a cut at three different tree branches. “Secare.”

He heard the scrambling of the intruder’s feet as he leapt to avoid the first falling branch. Right where I want you. The second branch started to fall, and as the intruder started forward to avoid it, Yuushi halted the motion of that branch mid-air with a bounded field and let the third drive the target right back into it at head-level. Simple as that.

The sound of the intruder striking the branch was louder than it should have been, and not accompanied by the crash of a body hitting the ground. Yuushi dared to peek out from behind his cover and finally laid his eyes on his opponent: a young man, no older than twenty, in nothing more than street clothing, still standing. The hovering branch was right against his head, though he looked completely unfazed.

I really do hate the bloody option, Yuushi thought, raising his scalpel. It would have been less troublesome to alter the target’s memories and send him back to the city in a cab. Now, he would be disposing of body parts, and not those of some nobody orphan. “Secare.”

The cut struck the boy along his left shoulder and should have bisected him at a perfect 45 degree angle. Instead, it halted mere millimeters into his body, a bit of blood the only sign that it had penetrated at all.

“Your element is centered around steel, isn’t it?” the boy said. He had a grim look on his face, one much better suited for a person three times his age in cynicism. “You use some kind of barrier extension to project that scalpel beyond the actual reach it can achieve physically.” When Yuushi took another swing, again the cut barely penetrated the boy at his ribcage, a small darkening on his white shirt signifying the blood seeping up beneath. “But when metal meets metal, the better material wins out.”

Yuushi ducked back behind the tree and prepared a longer incantation. I have no idea what you’ve done to your body, but you have no weapon. You won’t be able to cover this distance in time! Even so, he immediately activated his secondary personal barrier with the tree as a center, Reinforcing it and the air around him to intercept any elemental manipulation. If you manipulate steel, nothing you can do will pierce this barrier.

“My bone twists into madness,” the boy said, and Yuushi felt compelled to glance back out at him. Though the boy had been empty handed before, now a bow was present, and with it was a terrifying sight: a strange device that appeared like a large drill.

Gradiation Air...Projection Magic? What is he going to—

“Caladbolg!”

The drill narrowed into the shape of an arrow, and before Yuushi could do anything, the bow twanged and the shot flew.

And when the explosion was finished, when the sound of wood breaking apart and the not-sound of his barrier collapsing ended, when Yuushi’s body stopped grinding from the pressure and came to rest on the forest floor, the boy continued speaking.

“Didn’t anyone ever tell you not to bring a knife to a sword fight?”

BGM off



He had stopped.

She could hardly breathe.

She could hardly breathe because it was only a matter of time and he would return with even more agony, like he delighted in the reprieve she had to endure even more.
She had to be strong, but, in reality, she was at her limit.

“Senpai, in here!”

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZFH2QR-Vbc)

The voice was one she had never heard before, and though it was like a thunderclap next to her overworked ears, there was something infinitely gentle about it, like the wash of the tides striking against the bay she remembered from long ago...

“Please, hurry, senpai! She’s bleeding all over and...and...”

Though it pained her to do so, her eyes so used to being set upon by needles and knives once open, she could not help but open them to seek out this intruding voice she did not recognize.

The figure over her was not a woman, like the voice should have belonged to, but a young man. A young man that looked horrified, scared, angry, sad—

And above all else, elated.

She thought, ah, if only I could have such an expression...

BGM off


Escaping Fate, Prologue, End





AN: If you’re confused by the change in literary style from the prologue, I’m mimicking the format from the original visual novel. Chapters are from Shirou’s first-person perspective. Secondary characters like in the prologue are from third-person limited. I’ll attempt to maintain some of the terminology from the Mirror Moon translation of the game, but some things I just won’t be keeping, like seigi no mikata being called “superhero.”

This whole thing arose out of over-Nasuverse stimulation. Between some good fanfiction reading, attending Sakura Con 2011 and meeting a bunch of other FSN fans, the excitement of Unlimited Blade Works having come out and the approach of Witch on the Holy Night, Carnival Phantasm and Fate/Zero is overwhelming. This plot bunny started jumping around in my head without mercy. Dammit, I should be working on my original stuff, not fanfiction! Oh well.

I have not played hollow ataraxia as my Japanese is nowhere near the ability to read such a complex story, so my knowledge of Caren is fairly limited. I felt like including her, though, so, there you have it. I’m completely to blame for OOCness.

Escaping Fate
Chapter 1
Bowman and Bow

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJhC70dPN2Y)

“Caren is here to pick them up,” Tohsaka said.

Sighing, I poked my head out of the bedroom and felt my lips involuntarily purse. “Uh, could you take care of that? She really gives me the creeps, you know.”

Rin Tohsaka stared back at me, hands on her hips in that same who-do-you-think-I-am pose that generally preceded a verbal beating directed at me. “Would you man up for once and face her in earnest? She honestly is not at all bad.” The Tohsaka-smirk then followed, and though a good five meters separated us, the way she leaned in felt like she was somehow looming over me. “And just what makes you think you can get me to do all the dirty work, anyway? This was all your idea.”

When Tohsaka had returned this past weekend from her latest excursion to London, she had brought with her a rumor on “breakthrough research” that had her concerned; she had explained that such words often accompanied some form of tragedy or another, and that the source had supposedly been from a magus operating out of Japan. Further asking around had discovered this Setsuka Yuushi and his orphanage outside Fuyuki City, not terribly far from the Einzbern mansion where we currently stood. Tohsaka had looked into the orphanage, stating that mages in the past had used isolated locations to carry out experiments that would otherwise get them in trouble, and eventually found altered police records with a magus’s handprints all over it.

Ever since the Grail War’s end, the Einzberns had apparently decided to abandon their property as it was no use to them now that the Great Grail was out of their reach for good, and Illya had become the technical owner. She had shown me around the place once, but ultimately the girl had no use for it either once she had settled in with Taiga. Since Illya’s death, I had not returned to the place, though it still stood, and had eventually settled on it as a staging ground for our rescue mission since it was close to the orphanage and still maintained a boundary field.

When we had found the orphanage and the field surrounding it, the plan was simple: Tohsaka and Sakura would gather up the children and subdue any of the local workers, and I would wait for Yuushi to investigate the intrusion of his boundary field . It had taken a bit of trial and error, but I eventually found the right sword to pierce the field, and it had apparently ripped the entire thing down instead of just creating a hole. Not that I minded.

I did, however, mind dealing with that Church representative. And the constant sexual harassment. “Then…I’ll see if Sakura is willing to deal with her?”

Pushing past Tohsaka—who watched me with that annoying Cheshire cat expression—I went for the second floor landing and circled one of the back halls in an attempt to avoid the main foyer where Caren Ortensia waited to pounce like a lion on a wounded gazelle. That woman seriously made me shiver, like she had killed me in a past life or something.

Sakura was still with the girl we had found inside the laboratory and I couldn’t blame her for it. Although so small in comparison, the feeling one had upon venturing into that room and seeing the steadily bleeding form atop the table was like a vague taste of that horror flowing out of the Grail. Looking at the girl up close had been like looking at all of man’s sins, since it took only the most terrible of them and shoved them in your face.

I’m not sure how much I liked the fact that Tohsaka had seemed more horrified by it than Sakura had.

We had taken the injured girl into one of the bedrooms to recover and Sakura had not left her side the entire time. Although I had managed to keep the girl from dying and Tohsaka’s first aid had sealed the wounds, it was pretty clear that the girl’s wounds were beyond just the physical. Some of the scars suggested she had been tortured for a long enough time for some to heal and talk from some of the kids still in the orphanage made it clear they thought she had been adopted three or four weeks ago.

Finding her had been like finding a medical research cadaver still alive.

I wonder if I looked like her, once upon a time…

I’m not sure what Illya had intended for the room we were using, but it was exactly what we needed. With oak walls and a bedspread in dark blue, it had absolutely no resemblance to the laboratory we had found the girl in and would hopefully be a rest on her mind in that respect.

Not surprisingly, the girl had not said a thing since we had found her, and she was silent as I entered the room.

Sakura was at the bedside, holding the girl’s hand—possibly the only part of her left undamaged by Yuushi’s work. “Anything?”

Sakura shook her head. Now a third year in high school, she looked every bit the senior idol. It was fairly apparent now how much she resembled Tohsaka in that respect. Actually, it was even more apparent in how fierce she could look when truly mad. “I wish you had hit that man harder.”

The Church would be looking after Yuushi until a representative from the Clock Tower came to assess the case. Until then, they had restrained him with a conceptual weapon and Tohsaka had been sure to strip him of any metallurgy he might be carrying. His injuries were not bad, though, since I had purposely missed hitting him directly.

Even Sakura had seemed a little disappointed I hadn’t shot him.

But…that really wasn’t why I was here.

“Ortensia-san is here and rounding up everyone. Do you think you could help her with the head count? I’ll stay with this one until they’re ready to depart.”

Sakura looked surprised, then her head tilted. “Can’t you do that, senpai?”

“I, uh, can…” of course, Sakura had never met Caren before. Nor had Sakura seen Caren’s…oddness. “I just can’t deal with the new overseer from the Church. She treats me strangely.”

“You will stay here, then?” Sakura asked, though she was vacating her seat.

I nodded and sat where she had been.

Sakura brushed her hand along my arm, and she gave me a look that I had become quite familiar with in the last year. Though it had taken me some months to come clean with my participation in the Grail War with her and explained who Saber was, Sakura had been able to figure out everything to begin with and had realized what it really meant when I had told her and Fuji-nee that Saber had returned home. Ever since, her silent touches had always sought to reaffirm that she was in fact still here to support me, and although I never openly acknowledged them, it was not unappreciated.

They had become nearly second nature since Illya had passed on.

Actually, there was an additional sadness to it ever since. Though her relationship with Illya had not been as openly vocal and energetic as Fuji-nee’s was, Sakura had clearly come to like Illya. Her loss probably affected Sakura more than she would openly admit and I wondered if that influenced how she felt about this victim before us.

Well, it was better to think about that than the various other reasons Sakura had to feel sympathetic to such a terrible ordeal.

“Just be sure to watch carefully,” Sakura said. “She’s been staring off at nothing for a while now.”

“Yeah.”

The girl really had been a sight, more like the raw meat on a butcher’s block than a living person. Tohsaka said that Yuushi’s research had something to do with the magical circuit, meaning that what appeared physically was hardly touching the surface.

If the pain was like what I was doing when first training my magical circuit, I can’t begin to imagine what it was like to have it inflicted upon you by another. At the very least, I knew what to expect for myself.

We weren’t even sure if this girl still had the mental capacity to live, how pained she looked.

And I didn’t know to what extent my Tracing had helped. I knew what it felt like for me, but I couldn’t be sure how much my time with Saber had influenced how I associated perfection with all things related to Saber. I had the feeling of being freed from Angra Mainyu to base it on, but going from negative infinity to positive infinity in a single moment probably skews how I perceive the state of euphoria.

The girl turned her head slightly and stared at me. Despite the intensity, it was not unnerving like it probably should have been, though that may be due to the fact that she now actually looked like a girl and less like Sadako Yamamura about to crawl out of my television.

She watched me without blinking for a long while. I thought maybe she was waiting for me to pull out a scalpel and continue her torture. But then she surprised me. “Bow,” she said, her voice scratchy.

I thought about when I had first entered the lab where we found her and could not remember if I still had the Traced bow in hand at the time. It might take some explaining why some random guy with a bow was one of those responsible for rescuing her…

Oh.

Or I’m an idiot.

“Your name is Yumi?” I asked.*

Her head moved faintly with a nod.

Sakura had said she had not reacted much, and in the hours while we waited for word from the Church I had not seen her do anything but lay quietly wherever we put her. I was glad to see she still had command of her mind enough to communicate, though why to me and not someone generally more approachable like Sakura confused me.

“I’m Shirou,” I said to her.

She nodded again, very slowly.

“I know it must hurt a lot, but you’ll being picked up by members of a local church in a little bit. Another short trip and you should be able to rest all you want.”

Yumi’s eyes drooped. “Another orphanage?”

I hadn’t thought about it like that, but it would essentially be the same as before for her. Just, without the torture.

“Yeah. The people at the church aren’t going to hurt you though,” I said with confidence. Caren may be odd, but she most definitely wasn’t like Kotomine. Her evil side was certainly plain to see…whenever men were around, anyway. “Everyone there is nice.”

It did make me think, though, of what that would be like. I’m not sure anyone could quite go back to their normal life after something like this. Seeing something so selfish and terrifying behind the actions of one single person…how could you trust others after that? At least, without getting to know them first.

I thought of my own rescue over ten years ago and the other orphans that had survived. Though now resting beyond the pain of Kotomine and Gilgamesh, I know that their lives would still have been a hardship had they even been given a good chance. My life…at least I was given choices. Even if they were never a choice to begin with for me.

Standing up, I said, “I’ll be right back. I need to go talk to someone.”

I guess, maybe, I liked trying to pick up strays.

BGM off

The main hall foyer still looked beat up; Illya had not been inclined to fix it after the damage sustained in the battle between Berserker and Archer. It worked in our favor, though, since the other kids from Yuushi’s orphanage were less inclined to think about why they were all suddenly being disrupted of their everyday activities and now had a mysterious ruin to look around. I suppose if that magus could be thanked for anything, it was that he decided to carry out his experiments one at a time rather than all at once. Tohsaka had mentioned other magi that were prone to doing some fairly terrible things on a scale large enough that if not dealt with by the Association, it was believed the Counter Force had actually appeared to wipe them out.

Or, you know, me.

But not me. Ugh, I’m making my own head hurt.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=en6BDzN3vDY)

Sakura was already grouping kids together in pairs to keep them all orderly. Tohsaka silently watched from the side, though she glanced my way when I descended the stairs and raised an eyebrow. I couldn’t actually find Caren amidst the masses—

“Kya!”

Which should have been a warning sign to begin with.

Pulling my ear hard enough to twirl me around a hundred and eighty degrees, Caren Ortensia’s white hair and black dress flew into view. She smiled at me like she was prodding a baby to coo. “You finally show yourself, young man.”

She let go and I clutched my head. In another world, she could probably sneak up and kill me no matter what I did. “Ortensia-san, could you please not do that for a greeting? Won’t a handshake do?”

Smiling, Caren motioned up the stairs. “So, am I correct in assuming you are here to request something?”

Completely ignoring my plea. And perfectly seeing through my desires.

I really can’t stand her, even if she is cute.

Sakura and Tohsaka converged on us; Sakura looked curious, while Rin looked like she knew what was coming. I could only be glad the latter did not have her hand in her face, like it was a stupid idea.

“Yeah, the girl we found, Yumi, I’m not sure she’d readjust so well if we just sent her right back with the others. If nothing else, there’d be questions,” I said.

Tohsaka and Caren both nodded, probably because they had already come to the same conclusion. Sakura looked contemplative, and could probably see where this was going.

“So, what do you plan on doing, Shirou Emiya?” Caren sing-songed my name in a manner suspiciously similar to her predecessor. “Will the mere bowman be taking on a new bow?”

It’s like she knows how stupid I am down to how I could mix up a name, dammit. Praise be to all higher powers that Tohsaka isn’t that…well, never mind.

“Well, it would be alright for her to stay unless I hear some objections?” I looked at Sakura and Tohsaka. I didn’t quite understand how it came to be myself, but even though both still had full houses all to themselves, both pretty much lived at my place now. Sakura kept the Matou home I think for appearances—she really hated that place otherwise—and Tohsaka, when she wasn’t traveling or in London, generally stayed with us. We were adults now, and Fuji-nee had little to argue with in that case.

Plus, you know, Tohsaka…

“I couldn’t say no after seeing her like that,” Sakura said. I wasn’t sure what she was thinking about, though Illya was probably a good guess.

Tohsaka shrugged. “It really isn’t my place to say.”

“Well, you do live with us,” I told her point-blank. “Official or not, I’m not going to force you to live with a situation you don’t want.”

Tohsaka’s eyes widened and for a split second I thought I might have seen a blush, but she waved off any further reaction. “W-well, anyway, I don’t have a problem with it. Really.”

Wait, must relish in ambushing Tohsaka. They’re such rare moments.

Alright.

“Then, do you think you could make the arrangements?” I asked Caren. “I’m not really sure what the legal proceeding is here.”

Caren put a hand over her mouth and shook with laughter. “You are a magus, Shirou Emiya. Legal proceedings can be overwritten, as you might have noticed.”

“Well, not that good a magus,” I said. “I certainly can’t do something so skillful.” I looked to Tohsaka again.

She stared back at me, until she realized why I was singling her out. “Oh, and I suppose I’m doing all the work again?”

“You are the one always on top,” I said absently.

Sakura immediately took a step back.

Er…

Oh.

“WHAT WAS THAT?!” Tohsaka screamed, now in my face and somehow managing to transmute her teeth into a chainsaw.

“I meant on top of things, things!”

BGM off



Home.

It was after dark by the time we settled in, though I had to open doors and set a fan out to chase away the humid warmth inside. Summer was in full swing and even with the sun down, the heat was still fairly oppressive.

Sakura readied the room next to hers for Yumi, while Tohsaka and I argued over who would be making dinner—really, just an extension on the previous argument about who was going to get all the documents in order. Caren had taken Yumi with the others to make sure her wounds would heal first before we would go pick her up in the morning.

“I’ll cook,” I said to Tohsaka. “You need to come up with an explanation to Fuji-nee once she returns from her sabbatical.”

“Again, why am I responsible for that?”

I grinned at her. “Nobody is nearly smart enough to handle it with the grace you do.”

“Somehow, that doesn’t make me happy when it comes from you.”

Not that it was much, but, maybe a taste of what you put me through. Devil woman.

We ate slowly, talking about what to do now that we would have an additional person in the house. Yumi was apparently fourteen years old, so she would have to be enrolled in high school pretty soon, and depending on how up to it she was, we thought we could swing it past Fuji-nee to pull strings to get her into Homuraba.

It was nice to have people in high places. Or Fuji-nee.

“We should also get this out of the way now, since it is sure to come up,” Tohsaka said after she finished her meal. “How are you going to handle being a magus with her?”

I blinked. “Uh…come again?”

Tohsaka crossed her arms. “You’re a practicing magus and a lot of your time is spent perfecting what we know of your skills so far. You forget that Illya was a magus herself, so it wasn’t necessary to hide it from her, and I think you’ve become comfortable now with the fact that Sakura is one as well.”

I glanced at Sakura, who blushed at the scrutiny. She always tried to draw attention away from that fact, but every once in a while she would make observations about how I operated my own magic that revealed how much longer she had lived with it. Even if she did not practice herself, Sakura was a magus far and away from what I could ever achieve.

“I had assumed that with how Yuushi was pulling off his experiments, we couldn’t exactly hide from Yumi what was going on. She had to have some suspicion anyway. I thought it would, you know, kind of come out naturally as she became curious.”

“Did it come naturally when your father explained it to you?” Tohsaka asked.

Well…now that she mentions it. “I guess not. He just randomly told me one day. But I didn’t know until the Grail War began that the fire was anything more than some terrible accident or natural disaster. I kind of doubt anyone could explain away what Yuushi did, even if the excuse is ‘serial killer’ or something like that.”

“So, no hiding it from her? Or do you think you’ll just tell her up front?”

Sakura raised her hand. I mean, like you might in a classroom. Probably because Tohsaka sounded like a lecturer from school when she asked questions like this. “Although I don’t think we should tell her right away and give her time to adjust, it probably would be better sooner than later. It will clear up any chances for miscommunication later on.”

Tohsaka flushed a little at that, and I smiled. While it had taken the two of them some time—though with Shinji gone and Zouken Matou nowhere to be found, there were fewer hurdles to overcome—the two of them had slowly started to repair their relationship. Every once in a while Sakura would say something innocuous like this that made Tohsaka trip up, clearly a thought shared between the two of them that neither had voiced. I’m not really sure of the specifics, but it was all the clearer why Sakura had always seemed to be a little jealous of the school’s admiration of Tohsaka.

“That sounds about right,” I said. And while I trusted Tohsaka implicitly with her observations and her skills as a magus, I think even Tohsaka felt she was a little deficient in empathizing with the average person. Sakura, on the other hand, tended to be a little more accurate in guessing one’s emotional reactions.

Of course, the only reason Tohsaka was slow on the uptake there was because I think her own emotional reactions surprised her more often than not.

“Then we’ll do it that way,” Tohsaka said, like she was passing judgment and the decision was final. I shook my head and started taking dishes into the kitchen.

If I wasn’t sure how it came to be that Tohsaka and Sakura started living with me, I’m extremely not sure how Tohsaka became the father of the household.

…Or how I had become the mother, for that matter.


BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TFKj8iKjAA)

Tohsaka and I went to the church in the morning; though there was a week left of summer break, Sakura had club activities at school to oversee and could not go with us.

The church was unchanged since the war, at least on the outside. After the plottings of Kotomine were revealed, the basement had been cleansed and the dying souls there were laid to rest. Although I had seen the empty room for myself, I still could not get over the sense of dread I felt when I caught sight of the top of the hill.

I think Caren had it turned into a storeroom for an herb garden she now maintained in the back. Maybe her definition of irony?

We did not have to enter the church proper, though, upon arrival; Caren waited with Yumi right out front—no doubt predicting that I would be here right on time—and she had with her a small satchel. “You should try brewing tea out of this,” Caren said, handing it to me. “It’ll help with any aches from injury.”

Though she said it clearly in reference to Yumi, I had no doubt she was jabbing at me. Well, fine. When you impale yourself from the inside out automatically when danger is about, you let me know.

“She doesn’t have anything else?” Tohsaka asked.

I looked at her funny.

“She is officially adopted and moved away from the orphanage records,” Caren said. “All of her possessions were probably destroyed then.”

I regarded Yumi carefully. It was fairly amazing that she was already moving on her own power, even if her wounds had healed. I think anybody else would be jumping at shadows and hiding in the closet after what she suffered. It was apparent, though, that the injuries were going to have long-term repercussions: I could make out a couple of scars where her neck met her collar and the very roots of her hair were starting to turn cat-whisker white. Her nervous system must still be going haywire too.

I said, “We could go shopping for her once we’ve settled in,” partially addressing the girl before me in hopes she would respond.

It was barely perceptible, but she nodded at my words.

“Well then!” Caren said, grinning. “Good luck to you. Let me know if you need…anything.” She added the last bit with a breathy tone.

I think Tohsaka’s eyebrow twitched.

As we walked back home, I considered calling a taxi or suggesting the bus, since I wasn’t sure how good a long walk would be for Yumi. But when I reached for my phone, the girl’s hand came up and took mine, like, well, a child to their parent.

I’m not sure why, but I felt the heat rise in my face.

Tohsaka laughed.

Yumi then reached to take her hand as well.

Tohsaka stopped laughing and stared like a deer-in-headlights.

Yeah, take that.

“So, um, how do you spell your name?” Tohsaka stuttered, trying to cover up her awkward reaction. Brilliant maneuver, captain.

“’Bow’ and ‘beautiful,’” Yumi said, her voice slightly stronger than yesterday.

Tohsaka’s eyes tracked back up at me, and although her tone still had a sense of sarcasm to it, it was one of the few genuine smiles she occasionally gave me. “That’s a wonderful name.”

BGM off


Escaping Fate, Bowman and Bow, End

*Yumi’s name is 弓美 which literally means “beautiful bow.” The first kanji can itself be read Yumi and is the kanji for bow. Her name is also a homonym for a variety of very fitting words regarding her place in this story. I loves me my Japanese puns.





AN: With regards to pairings, I’ll just say that this follows the Fate scenario, but in great Nasuverse tradition, there will be ways to incorporate other relationships without breaking the whole true love idea. I’m a fan of all three scenarios and heroines for extremely different reasons, so don’t be expecting any hate from this corner. I absolutely love everything in this game and every character that appeared, period.

Escaping Fate
Chapter 2
The Addition

It’s winter now.*

February, to be more specific. Two years since the Holy Grail War. We celebrated Tohsaka’s birthday a few days ago, combined with a welcome home dinner after an extended trip to London. Although she had been gone for a good four months, I was glad to see that Yumi, still so quiet, smiled when Tohsaka first came through the door.

We had adjusted to our new ward for the most part, perhaps better than could be expected. It hadn’t taken long for Yumi to recover physically and after that she had shown interest in exploring the city. Sakura took it upon herself to show the girl around after school, and each time they returned for the evening, the more Yumi appeared to relax.

And while Sakura didn’t show any outward signs of it, the cloud of sorrow that hung over her since Illya passed had begun to dissipate.

I’m not sure, though, if it would be possible to look at this girl and not think of Illya, though.

The damage to Yumi’s nervous system had been extensive. It was something Tohsaka had pointed out, as she now believed that Archer’s appearance had been due to an overworked magical circuit; Yumi’s hair had lost all pigmentation and gone stark white, while her skin had taken on a splotchy, unhealthy pallor. It was an odd similarity to Illya’s albino appearance and Archer’s severe look, and no amount of healing looked like it would fix it.

A few weeks after taking her in, the three of us sat Yumi down and explained just what had happened to her after it was apparent her hair would not be regaining its original brown color. Though we skirted the Grail War issue, we explained how the three of us were magi and that Yuushi had been one as well. We told her the general idea of what he might have been doing to her and how we never intended to do anything of the sort. Through it all, Yumi had been silent, though she had nodded when Tohsaka and Sakura explained some of their complicated history, clearly having picked up on their familial relationship despite the different names.

So we were magi, and she had been a magus’ experiment.

And the girl quietly accepted her fate.

Maybe I finally started to understand why Tohsaka was so angry when she had learned of my past. If my lack of concern over what had happened was like Yumi’s lack of concern over why she had been tortured, I got it.

I really should have shot that guy between the eyes.

Tohsaka flicked me between the eyes.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KysWTK5PrM)

“Are you paying any attention at all?” she complained.

I blinked and shook my head. “None whatsoever. Sorry.”

We were attempting to discern how to rework some of my Traced items and see how far we could modify them; ever since I had first used Caladbolg on Yuushi, Tohsaka had been interested in seeing if it was possible to do more than break the Phantasm and overload it for additional kick. She had apparently attended some lecture on advanced Alteration theory when in London and wanted to apply the ideas to what I did.

Of course, she forgot that I was absolutely useless as a magus.

Tohsaka crossed her arms and shook her head at me. “I’m telling you, if you only concentrated more, we could have this down!”

I shook my head in return. Every once in a while, I had to agree with a certain Servant in his assessment with his Master: Tohsaka just couldn’t quite identify with a dropout type like me. “I was concentrating earlier. But nothing I did could change it. The blueprint is clear in my mind and I can’t force myself to change it in any fashion.”

“You should be trying harder!”

Every once in a while, I thought of pinching her nose when she got like this. Just to see what she would do.

Of course, I never had the courage to. Because chances were, what she would do probably included a maiming.

“Sorry,” I said. “It just doesn’t seem to be working tonight.”

Tohsaka sighed, crossed her arms, and leaned back in her seat. Her expression lost its heat, though. “You’re thinking about Saber, aren’t you?”

BGM off

I blinked at her and went to shake my head, but in bringing it up, I couldn’t help but do so.

My dream.

And the hope that maybe, in her dream, I had a place.

“You’re hopeless,” Tohsaka said. “Well, just…try to imagine it, anyway. You’re good at that much.”

Tohsaka gathered the sword images and blueprints she had brought from London—apparently they were documents on sword-shaped Mystic Codes—and piled them back onto her desk.

It still confused me to this day why she seemed to prefer this place to her own house. Although by square feet my house was just as large, Tohsaka’s was more to her style and already equipped with the various tools and measures for her work. Every so often, she had to bring a large bundle over to continue her work; it was often enough that I questioned why she didn’t just work out of her home to begin with.

Unlike the reasons Sakura didn’t like returning to the Matou house, I couldn’t fathom any kind of idea why Tohsaka felt better here.

“So,” Tohsaka started, and she looked askance, “is there anything I can do?”

I grinned at her.

No matter what, Tohsaka was never as ruthless as she thought. Even if they were awkward, whenever she let herself be sympathetic, it always made me smile. It was, after all, absolutely adorable.

“W-w-what are you thinking, with that kind of look?”

She was also awkward at receiving gratitude.

“Just being here is fine,” I said. Whatever her reasons for staying, I was glad to have her here.

The red that shot through her face almost managed to reach critical levels and match her ubiquitous shirt.

“Anyway, let me go practice with everything you’ve just shown me, at least. Maybe I’ll find something I just can’t do when you’re watching over my shoulder.” I climbed to my feet and made for the door.

I thought I heard her mutter “idiot” under her breath. Yet another thing to treasure.

So preferable to when she screamed it, anyway.



Trace, on.

The cold evening air helped counter the burning sensation whenever I Traced, so I stood in the middle of the back yard to practice. I tried not to think about how another magus had done so before in a similar manner, warming up by conjuring a bow and stretching with it in the same exact spot.

Unfortunately, my bow was not yet up to the standards of whatever it was he had created. Though I had the perfect image in my mind of what he had done, the composition of the material was still off; whatever odd metal he had created both his bow and armor out of was still out of my reach. It managed the purpose I needed it for—firing off Traced weapons—though my effective range was still terrible.

I brought the Orichalcum sword to mind and reconstructed it perfectly. It was a nice addition to the lengthy catalogue of weaponry I could bring to mind and was different from most of the other pieces. Like the Azoth sword, its composition was different to the forged and folded steel of many weapons and instead was constructed to feed prana into. If I could figure out how to actually make modifications to a weapon, it was a perfect candidate to start with, since it would take much more than I could possibly inject into it to break.

My body is made of swords.

“I am the bone of my sword.”**

The blade shifted in shape, like taking the image on a computer and stretching it lengthwise. I pulled until it was the exact length of an arrow, nocked the sword, and let it fly.

It struck the tatami I had set out as a target in the same place the human neck would be.

I sighed. It was not Alteration that occurred when I manipulated the blade into an arrow shape. Alteration involved the addition of properties that an item did not already have to begin with, like adding an additional ingredient to a dish. I could not do such a skillful thing; for me, it was more like rearranging the ingredients the original had to work better for what I needed it to do.

I thought that following the process of “arrow-izing” the blade might help, but that was a bust.

Letting the bow dissipate, I considered my options. Ultimately, it wasn’t important to me to figure out ways to Alter my arsenal if I could manage to safely make Broken Phantasms. The only problem on that issue was my inadequate bow, since I didn’t particularly want to risk using most Broken Phantasms while still holding them.

Tracing Kanshou and Bakuya, I thought about practicing that instead; the twin scimitars were about the only weapons I had successfully Broken in hand without causing major bodily harm to myself in the process.

“Shirou?”

I glanced at the porch and found Yumi watching me.

While I had never hidden my magic away from her, it occurred to me that Yumi had never seen me do anything more than Reinforce some household items for practice. And to be honest, I had wondered if the sight of a sharp object suddenly appearing in my hands would be cause for the girl to be upset.

Instead, I found her looking at the blades curiously.

I couldn’t think of an appropriate response though. “What?”

“Why are you holding swords?”

Well…that would take a while to explain. But since she wasn’t upset over it, I guess it didn’t matter if I showed her a little. “It’s the only magic I’m fairly practiced at. We mentioned ‘Projection’ before, right?”

Nodding, Yumi sat at the edge of the porch and watched me intently.

“This is kind of like that, something I specialize at. I call it ‘Tracing.’ I copy swords and other weapons I’ve seen before.”

“Why?”

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3L1DEvzsftw)

I thought about how to word my response. I didn’t like explaining things in detail because I often got confused as to where I was. I can’t imagine what other people would feel. How Tohsaka managed it was a mystery to me. “You know in manga or a sentai series, how heroes always seem to have swords? I mean, if they have any kind of weapon at all, it’s usually a sword.”

She nodded.

“I specialize in swords because I want to be that kind of hero. The one that saves everyone.”

Yumi’s eyes fell into her lap. She stared at her own hands, perhaps the only part of her body that had been left untouched by experimentation. No scars adorned them and they did not have the splotchy complexion the rest of her skin had. “Nobody can save everyone.”

Again, I de-Traced the weapons in my hands and sat next to her. I always felt inadequate at being able to comfort her, but the whole point of taking her in had been to give it a try. “That’s true,” I said. “I’m only human, after all.”

I thought of sitting on this porch years ago with a person just as cynical. Yet, for his cynicism, his ideal had always been such a beautiful one.

“But wouldn’t it be a good thing if someone could save everyone?” I asked.

Yumi’s hands fisted as if clutching something. She nodded.

“I think so too. So, even if it is impossible, I want to aim for that dream.” I smiled at her. “So I make swords in the hopes that one day, they will be used for that purpose.” My smile probably went a little funny then. “Even if I’m pretty terrible at it.”

Though she listened to every word, Yumi remained quiet. For a moment, I thought that I had gone too far, told her too much. There was an extreme loneliness in her body language, the way she hunched in on herself that was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Sakura, when I had first met her, came close, but Sakura always had a sense that she was still trying to reach out to others in everything she did, even if she was scared. Yumi seemed to reach inward instead.

And now that Tohsaka had brought it up, I couldn’t help but think about it.

Saber reached inward as well.

I reached outward, to people like Yumi, the people I could possibly save.

“When…will you know?” Yumi asked, though her gaze remained in her lap. “If you reach it?”

I gave a helpless shrug. “I don’t know. I may never know.”

Yumi was silent after that, though the lost expression had faded. Now she just seemed confused.

Not that I blame her. My dream is a pretty foolish one, after all.



She didn’t understand.

Why pursue something impossible?

Why pursue something when you will never even know if you have achieved it?

She didn’t understand his dream at all.

Yet…

Even more…

She didn’t understand why, deep inside of herself, she felt comforted by those words.

She knew he had told her something important. Something so necessary that he could not exist without it. She knew, at least, for that, she would hold his goals dear.

But…

When she had first caught a glimpse of him, when she had first looked upon her savior from the world of pain, of endless removal and addition…

He had seemed so happy.

Happy to find her. Happy to save her.

She had been happy to find relief, to find escape. But he…he had not been happy just to see that she could be relieved and escape. He was happy just to have reached her.

She thought, even then, she wanted to have that same expression.

Not one of having the results of a deed be worth it…

But to have reached the deed in the first place.

Maybe…maybe then she could understand.

Why…

Why she felt, his confusing dream, his happy expression…

Why they seemed to trod on her very soul.

BGM off



I retired to bed that night tired.

Tired and alone.

It was a very different feeling to me than the others, I’m sure.

When Sakura looked lonely, it broke my heart, that she could still be so distrustful of the world that had harmed her so. Even now, she would occasionally let that sad smile appear, despite everything that had improved between her and her sister, despite everything I did to remind her that I would give my left arm to make sure no harm came to her. I would try my best to be there for her, would push past her polite denials and find something to do with her, even if it was to just watch a movie or talk about school. And it was great to feel the extra strength behind an embrace of her hands to his at those times, the only sign that she understood.

When Tohsaka looked lonely, it made me a little angry, that a part of her may still feel a little unwelcome. It was often apparent on the day before her regular excursions to London: she would look at the daily scene of dinner in the house and her eyebrows would fall in a self-deprecating way. So I always tried to remind her to bring us souvenirs from her trip, that I expected such gifts, because I looked forward to them. And it was great to see her glare and hear her complain that she was not made of money and threaten that I would get nothing.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZFH2QR-Vbc)

I feel alone…because she isn’t here.

The one person that could understand.

Nothing in me can replace you, I had said.

There was no fake I could replicate to do that.

Nor was there anything real that could stand there either.

Nothing but a memory, and everything of my dream.

I slept, and I dreamed. Of my sword, the one that most certainly, was not made of me.

BGM off


Escaping Fate, The Addition, End


*Be glad I didn’t start with, “It’s spring now,” people that have played Heaven’s Feel.

**For those unfamiliar with the original visual novel: Shirou and Archer will on occasion literally think of one thing but say something completely different when invoking their spells. The entire UBW aria is in fact thought one way and said another quite often, and the translations are not meant to be exactly the same. Both literally think, “Karada wa tsurugi de dekite iru” for the first line of UBW, which translates as “His body is made of swords” while at the same time saying aloud, in English, “I am the bone of my sword.” This is not absolute, though, as occasionally, they will say the Japanese line over the English…so you’ll see Shirou zig-zag about in this story.



Omake

Shirou glared at the computer. “We live in the information age, and yet still, I can’t find any signs of a suitable battle to join?”

“Shut up,” Rin said, pushing back so he stopped leaning so close over her shoulder. “I can’t concentrate with you so close.” She returned to hunching over the keyboard and leaning in to look at the screen.

After all, stupid technology would never be important enough to break out the glasses.

“Japanese Psychics in conflict with Magi of the Roman Catholic Church (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Certain_Magical_Index)?” Rin asked, checking one news report.

“I think I’ve had enough fighting magic-wielding priests, thanks.”

Rin passed the mouse slowly over another. “Color gangs in Ikebukuro district of Tokyo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durarara!!)?”

Shirou leaned in right where she had pushed him away from to begin with, but this time to clearly read the full text from the story. He sighed after a few moments. “I’m not exactly sure who I’d be saving. Though internet memes could boost my level of infamy.”

Rin scanned the article again. “What’s an internet meme?”

Impatiently, Shirou grabbed for the mouse, though Rin attempted to wrestle his hand away. “Anyway,” he said, when she had regained control, “go on.”

“Heroic Spirits fighting creatures from a place called the Crimson Realm (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakugan_no_shana)…wait, no, that sounds like it’s made up.”

Shirou snickered. “You’re a witch, Tohsaka.”

Glare. “Your point being?”

“…Nevermind.”

“Well, then, mister smarty-pants, why don’t you look for something that might work? I don’t really know how to use this google-thingy anyway.” She crossed her arms and allowed Shirou to monopolize the mouse.

“Let’s see…Psychopomp swordsmen in conflict with Holy Quincy Family (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bleach_%28manga%29)? They even have a picture of the latter…hey! The guy is using a bow!”

Rin squinted at the image. “I don’t know. Even in Eastern Thaumaturgical teaching, there is no kind of afterlife spirit. We return to Akasha when we die, period.” She paused, her head tilting in consideration. “But…that news report…there’s something familiar about him (http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/people.php?id=3176).”

“Must be all the crosses on his clothing. You have weird tastes, Tohsaka.”

“Says the guy drooling over the latest issue of Jump (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakuman).”

Shirou glared right back at her. “They released an image of that author, Aoki Ko (http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/people.php?id=525)…I think I have a thing for blondes.”

Rin sighed. “Of course you do…”

Shirou ignored her “Though I really hate that new one by Fukuda (http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/people.php?id=48696)…”

“Getting off-track.”

“Of blondes?”

Rin flung her head back and connected with Shirou’s nose.

See if she went out of her way to learn a sophisticated modern technological device for anyone ever again. Even if he was someone special.

“Thanks, Tohsaka. I never knew you considered me special.” He grinned at her widening eyes. “Oh, no, you didn’t say anything. Just, you know, I can tell exactly what you’re thinking whenever you go tsun-tsun.”

“What the hell is that?!”

“Tsun-tsun. You do know that you’re a Grade-S Tsunde—”

And while she may not have known it, Shirou certainly did, and remembered to flee the room upon this proclamation, when the average Tsundere began the violent tear through the building.

Alulim
July 14th, 2011, 09:07 PM
Ah, it is here~!


Also I write all my chapters these days with FFN's format in mind.

ItsaRandomUsername
July 14th, 2011, 09:17 PM
...............I are happiness right now.

Arashi_Leonhart
July 14th, 2011, 09:24 PM
AN: Is it just me, or does a dojikko woman apt to pulling wooden swords out of nowhere named Taiga making a boy do all of the traditional housewife chores for her sound familiar? Good thing the visual novel predates Toradora! by two years…

Escaping Fate
Chapter 3
The Peaceful Noise

I hit the floor.

Again.

It had occurred to me in hindsight that my house’s dojo was a traditional Kendo setup, meaning it used a hardwood floor. The idea of converting it to padding like a modern dojo had occurred when Saber had been beating the stuffing out of me, but since the War it really hadn’t been an issue I needed to pursue.

And then Tohsaka started training me in Kenpo.*

Like she needed to point out yet another thing she was superior at.

It was important, though, to keep myself in that mindset if I were to ever reach my dream. Tohsaka knew this and had brought up her knowledge of hand-to-hand, supposedly passed down with her magecraft for generations. It made a nice supplement to the brief bit of swordsmanship Saber had beaten into me and the archery I already knew.**

I just wish that someday, Tohsaka would offer help that didn’t involve pain and humiliation.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udHLahlcvL8)

The blow had caught me dead center of the diaphragm, leaving me winded for a lot longer than normal. Tohsaka, unlike Saber, gave me time to recover though, and I staggered up after a moment. “I thought I missed that last one,” I said.

Tohsaka nodded. “You did, actually. I was aiming for the kidneys and you twisted out of the way, just in the wrong direction.” Thankfully, also unlike Saber, Tohsaka actually worked up a sweat as well instead of staring me down like an implacable sentinel. “I think your instinct was right, it just backfired on you this time.” Unfairly, she was not breathing hard like I was. “What?”

“Don’t tell me you aren’t even a little winded from this?”

“Oh.” Tohsaka’s surprised expression gave way to that damned Cheshire look that made me feel like I was about to hand over my life savings, or else. “Reinforce your lungs.”

I blinked.

Oh indeed.

No wonder I was a failure as a magus.

“Well, that’s not important for now,” she continued, shrugging. “It’s getting close to dinnertime and I’m guessing Fujimura-sensei will be over soon?”

I nodded. “She didn’t have work to do, but since she is the advisor for the Archery Club, she felt she had to check in on everything, especially now that Sakura has passed the captaincy on. Doesn’t trust the newbie captain, or so I hear.”

Sakura would be graduating from Homurabara in two weeks. She had no plans for college, so she had started working a secretarial job recommended to her by Mitsuzuri, saying she was “determined to not be a freeloader.”

I only hope she didn’t hear that from me.

BGM off

“So, last bout? Winner makes dinner?” Tohsaka grinned at me.

Underhanded play, you’re still so much better at this than I am…

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5JMaCjPSv0)

“Fine,” I said. “You’re going down this time.”

We both took a ready stance and started circling some imaginary point between the two of us. Tohsaka usually waited for me to make a move when she was not teaching me defensive maneuvers, as she apparently wanted to test the choices I made in combat. Still, I kept watch for a surprise move before closing in for a strike.

“Haa!”

I usually led with a punching strike, so I tried moving in with a low right kick this time. Tohsaka deflected it aside, though she had to use both arms to do so, which is what I had hoped for. The moment my foot touched ground again, I brought my right arm up and shoved, grabbing hold of her shoulder and throwing her over my leg. If I could get her to ground—

Tohsaka fell faster than I thought, pivoted even while her rear hit the floor, and struck the side of my left leg. Her palm hit in that perfectly balanced fashion that the strike did not hurt nor did it even fully register: instead, it caused my knee to involuntarily bend, throwing my balance completely and bringing me tumbling down after her.

My arms flailed in a not-so-graceful fashion and I tried to twist in order to face my opponent, but the angle was just bad. I felt Tohsaka rise up behind me and, too close for a strike, wrap her arms around my neck for a choke hold.

I managed to get an arm up next to my neck and block her from completely encircling it, then got enough of my weight behind my knees again to pull forward with my shoulders, swinging her around my side and onto her back. Simultaneously, I grabbed both her arms and when she hit the floor, pinned them flat.

BGM off

It was the stupidest, most fleeting idea, but for a moment, looking at her under me, her shirt clinging to her body from the workout, I couldn’t help but think of other activities.

“Thinking naughty thoughts, Shirou-kun?” Tohsaka nearly purred.

I could literally feel the blush shoot up my neck.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ndIxIGtfow)

Tohsaka of course didn’t let that go to waste and like a professional contortionist, managed to swing a leg up enough to hook around my shoulder and send me crashing onto my back. Before I could raise any sort of defense, her kneesock-clad legs had me in a complete scissor hold at the neck. It wasn’t very Kenpo-like, but it certainly did the trick.

A little red in the face too, Tohsaka was nonetheless grinning as she sat up to look me in the eyes. “You’d better hope you never face a cute girl as an enemy,” she said. “Especially if they know they’re cute.”

“Agh, you know I know you’re good looking, so no fair using that,” I complained. “And I could’ve fought back! I just…well…”

Tohsaka always argued that we should wear normal clothes when sparring like this. It wasn’t like we’d encounter an enemy while wearing specially prepared training outfits. But it was highly distracting sometimes, since Tohsaka usually used the red shirt and black skirt she had worn through much of her off time in high school. If my hand slipped when trying to break her grapple, I’m pretty sure the excuse “your skirt is too short” wouldn’t fly.

BGM off

Climbing back up, I watched as Tohsaka straightened her clothing and pulled her socks back up fully. It was all very innocuous, but for some reason I found myself smiling at the familiarity.

Two years ago, Tohsaka had been the school idol, in some ways as unapproachable and unobtainable as Saber had been at first. Now, with the harmless jokes she threw my way and her presence here, even if it was inconsistent with her trips to London, sometimes…

I shook my head ruefully.

If I had wanted Saber to live out a life, to be proud of her accomplishments and then allow herself to have human wants and desires…

I had the sneaking suspicion that Tohsaka was jabbing me in the same exact place I had once pestered Saber over. And while I wasn’t sure where that was supposed to fit into my life, or even if it had a place in my life—

“So, my turn to cook tonight!” Tohsaka declared, crossing her arms in victory. She then gave me a hilarious expression of confusion. “I wonder when that became something to be proud of.”

If you don’t understand, then just let me do it!



“Tohsaka-san, make twice as much! This girl is all skin and bones!”

Ah, Fuji-nee.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TFKj8iKjAA)

Finally back from her sabbatical—in which she supposedly was at an English program in America but I had a feeling was really sampling all the local cuisine—Fuji-nee had been much easier to reason with than I had expected regarding Yumi’s presence. Initially, of course, she had been ready to hammer me into the floor with her stuffed-full luggage, but after taking one look at the girl, she caved.

Saber, of course, had been stoic and self-assured. Illya acted cheerful. It was easier to outright pity Yumi, who looked like she was just waiting for someone to come up and knife her at any given moment even when she was relaxed. Had it been possible, I think Fuji-nee would have melted right into the floor the moment her eyes met Yumi’s.

So Tohsaka’s argument became a simple logistical description of how we would be caring for Yumi as something of a ward. Fuji-nee agreed, though she kept eying Tohsaka every once in a while in a hurt manner.

Probably thinking something along the lines of, I’m the one that’s supposed to be the boss in Shirou’s life, not you! The day had finally come: I was emancipated from my overbearing caretaker.

Too bad she had me whipped into feeding her anyway. “Don’t listen to her, Tohsaka, she’ll just eat the excess herself.”

Fuji-nee’s cheeks puffed and eyes glazed over, like she couldn’t decide whether to be angry or hurt. “You’ve become such a bully, Shirou. Where did your nice attitude go while I was gone?”

I decided to ignore her and glanced at Yumi. Though she had demonstrated no problem with Fuji-nee, it was pretty clear she still had no idea how to handle the loud schoolteacher. While I’m sure Yumi had known rather energetic people at the orphanage and possibly even before she had ended up there, I don’t know whether she had ever met someone who could manage zero enthusiasm to absolute insanity in an instant. Fuji-nee was a rather weird person.

Let me reiterate that: Sakura can seal away faeries, Tohsaka can make jewelry explode, and my body spontaneously sprouts swords in battle, yet Fuji-nee was the weird one.

Yumi was quiet, though it wasn’t a morose kind of quiet. Here and there, her eyes would wander, like they say how your eyes will look up and to one side to access part of your mind. Though she rarely spoke up, I always had the impression that she was considering a lot and thinking much more than she ever voiced, but for some reason decided not to bring up. It was subtle, but it reminded me of an extreme case of the sort of thing Tohsaka did every once in a while when she would be conjuring up a brilliant and/or crazy scheme.

Sakura was watching her too, probably noticing the same thing. I knew Sakura kept a lot to herself, but she was better at hiding it.

“Senpai has always been polite to me,” Sakura said absently. “I think he still has the same relationship with sensei as before too.”

“And what of your relationship, hmmm?” Fuji-nee leaned in at Sakura, taking that same dime-turn in mood. “Anything I should know of?”

I wasn’t blind to what Fuji-nee wanted for us, but at this point it was rather impossible. In the past year Sakura had really, well, blossomed into an elegant beauty and I knew she got love confessions at least monthly; she was, after all, more approachable than Tohsaka had been. I really wanted the world for her, but…

I didn’t exactly have anything in me to give.

The way I had decided to shape my life really didn’t allow for that kind of selfish want. It would be rather stupid of me to accept someone’s love and then disappear to some foreign country and possibly get myself killed. Taking care of Yumi was one thing, since if I died tomorrow the others would be here to care for her, and eventually she would be old enough to be on her own anyway.

I really didn’t want to hurt Sakura like that, no matter how prepared for what could happen she was.

Tohsaka saved her sister from further teasing, bringing out a meal of Korean beef that was sure to quiet Fuji-nee.

If only for a little bit.

BGM off



BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N44wZY59Qng)

When Fujimura-san left for the evening, Sakura had started to clean up and gently dismissed Shirou and Rin. Shirou had wandered off somewhere, while Rin had gone to her house to retrieve something.

Yumi found herself before the shed.

It was not sneaking, since there was nothing to hide from. Shirou had not hidden the fact that his workspace was in the shed, but he had also pointed out that there was nothing resembling a real functioning magus’ workshop there. But for some reason, Yumi had not wanted him here when she first opened it up.

The doors were creaky and slow-moving, and when she found the lights they really did nothing for the space. It was open and rather vacant; a sheet on the ground to one side and various electronics stacked next to it, a queue of the odd jobs Shirou did for people. Yumi had glimpsed some of Rin’s things and they were closer to the image she had in her mind of a witch: beakers, measures, various bottles of exotic-looking things. Shirou’s space looked just like the garage of a part-time mechanic or electrician.

Except for the wooden swords.

There were only a few, next to the door, and though nonchalantly leaning against the doorframe, something about them spoke to her more than the other items in the room.

They felt like him.

Taking one, she sat on the sheet and set the wooden length across her lap, regarding it carefully. They looked identical to the few that were in the dojo, only Yumi could tell they had been magicked in some way. She wasn’t sure how she could tell, but it was there.

Rin had once explained, very briefly, that magicians had circuits in their bodies to flow magic through. Though it was only glossed over, Yumi understood that the things that had been done to her had something to do with forcing circuits into her body that did not belong. Though she had hidden it well, Rin had shown some kind of surprise that Yumi was even still alive right now.

But because of all of that, Yumi thought she understood. Not on an intellectual level, but intuitively.

She understood that Shirou, lately, had been trying to add things to his magic. She knew he wasn’t very good at it.

She knew she could. Just like things had been changed inside her, she could change other things.

If only she could teach herself how.

BGM off



“Hey. Fuji-nee is back home.”

The graveyard was quiet.

Sometimes, I’m not really sure why I regularly trekked here. It was far, far out of the way and far, far too close to being within range of Caren Ortensia, but the compulsion hit me frequently enough. It was right next to where I had truly been introduced to her, after all, and was now the location of her remains.

Ilyasviel Emiya

Legally, she had technically been given Fuji-nee’s name. But nobody argued when I had that placed on her grave.

I’m not sure if she had ever forgiven our father. I’m not sure if she would have approved of the name.

But I know she was okay with the other part, at least.

Beloved sister.

“She’s noisy as ever, not that I think you’d be surprised.” But even if she was no longer alive, I still felt like reminding her of the lives she left behind. And that, unlike the von Einzberns that had so easily abandoned her when she could no longer win the war, she was always here with us.

Another life I wanted to carry with me.

“Anyway, just thought you’d like to know. That she’s okay and didn’t get hit by a crazy American driver or something. Or elope with someone there.”

Although the latter one would’ve been funny.

I sought to escape the graveyard before Caren’s Shirou-sense went off and she came looking to victimize me, so I left with that. Even though I had the urge to come, I also kept every visit short, like everything I said were just something I’d relay to her in passing. Plus, I didn’t want to leave Sakura and Yumi alone in the house too long in case Tohsaka took a while gathering whatever it was she was going to torture me with next.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJO_wnkzmh0)

Humming, I returned home.

Ich weiß nicht, was soll es bedeuten,

Daß ich so traurig bin…

BGM off


Escaping Fate, The Peaceful Noise, End

*Romanizing it Kenpo, though it should be Kenpō or Kenpou…both of which just look wrong to me. Just saying, I’m lazy, not neglectfully inconsistent.

**It’s mentioned in source material that Archer was equally proficient with weaponry as he was bare-handed. Since Shirou did not join a hand-to-hand Martial Arts club in high school and it seems unlikely that Kiritsugu, even if he knew any formally, was capable of teaching Shirou, I always thought that Rin might have been the one responsible for instructing him in that aspect. Or maybe he just got good at barehand-blocking Taiga.





AN: I know that the chapters are slow-going and short right now. I promise that there will be some action soon. I do hope the little themes I’m laying in now will resonate more later and you can forgive me for the slow start.

Escaping Fate
Chapter 4
Altered Life

April.

BGM on (http://youtu.be/rcQ9BTp23-0)

The cherry blossoms were in full bloom and Sakura positively glowed with excitement as we walked down the street toward Homurabara. I had to admit to some understanding: the odd nostalgia of walking toward school conflicting with the knowledge of being an adult and growing out of that daily routine made one feel excited.

We walked Yumi to her first day of high school. The girl was silent between us, wearing one of Tohsaka’s uniforms; Yumi had grown since moving in with us, and though her skin still had an unhealthy pallor to it, it was readily apparent that she had a growth spurt somewhere along the line. She fit Tohsaka’s uniform fairly well, and when we had brought up the option of buying a completely new one, she had refused.

“I like Rin’s feeling in it,” she had said.

I do believe the bashful look Tohsaka had produced was once-in-a-lifetime-only. Damn my hands not being fast enough at grabbing my phone and taking a picture of her for future blackmail. Doubly, because Tohsaka was a dunce with technology and would never be able to delete it.

A few students would wave to Sakura as we neared school grounds, and amusingly some boys would make to wave or call out only to stop when they realized I was with her. It was something I had grown accustomed to: in our senior year, few people really knew who I was other than Issei’s friend, but they all whispered regularly when it became clear that Tohsaka and I had something of a relationship. The fact that it was non-romantic never managed to reach their imagination, so I was just “the enemy.” Considering Sakura’s own popularity in her senior year, I wasn’t at all surprised to see a number of admirers.

Yumi watched everything with a sort of quiet suspicion. It wasn’t outright distrust in everyone, but there was definitely a sense that she understood that everyone could potentially have private sides to themselves that they did not show the world under the full sun.

I just hoped she learned that some of those people’s private sides were still outright harmless.

Sakura seemed to be in tune with that as well, as she had a specific reason to accompany Yumi to the school grounds. A few paces from the main gate, she caught sight of her intended. “Hoshino-san!”

A boy not much taller than Sakura stopped at the gates and looked around. He spotted Sakura and smiled, and while I could tell he was one of her admirers, the understated body language he kept to meant he was a little more comfortable around her. Huh.

“Senpai, good morning,” he said, bowing slightly.

“I’m not your senpai anymore,” Sakura said. “You don’t have to call me that.

Wait, what?

I probably didn’t quite manage it, but, I tried to give Sakura the same you hypocrite look that Tohsaka shot my way frequently.

Sakura didn’t notice—or was ignoring me—and instead put her hands on Yumi’s shoulders. “Hoshino-san, this is Yumi Emiya. She’s new to town and just beginning classes here, so could you help show her around and watch out for her?”

The boy smiled again and nodded, and he bowed to Yumi as well. “I’m Takumi Hoshino. Good to meet you.”

Yumi did that thing again where her eyes moved and various options seemed to present themselves to her. She nodded slightly and said, “You too.”

If Sakura was glowing before, she was suffering supernova now.

“Thank you, Hoshino-kun!” Sakura said, and I’m not even sure she noticed the switch in address she gave him. “Yumi, be sure to ask him for anything. You know the way home, right?”

Yumi nodded.

I finally decided to pitch in. “Call me if you need anything.”

Yumi nodded again.

Hoshino gave a tilt of his head and, without any further communication, Yumi followed after him into the school. We watched silently until they passed through the entry doors before turning back.

“Nice boy,” I said.

Sakura smiled. “He’s a second year now and joined the Archery Club last year.” She paused, and her voice fell a little, not quite to a sad register. “He makes me think of everything I wished nii-san would have been.”

I nodded, quiet. I had never gotten around to telling Sakura how Shinji met his demise, though I think she had come to the conclusion herself. She was aware that both Tohsaka and I would have given him every chance, but after meeting Illya, I think she had understood the full weight of what the other Masters could have been like. Illya, for all her apparent innocence, had a straightforward sense about her that was dangerous. Sakura had probably figured if not Illya, one of the other Masters had done Shinji in.

I don’t think she has decided whether she was happy or sad about the revelation.

“Well then, should I walk you to your work? I know it’s still early, but we could grab a snack on the way or something.”

Sakura’s smile returned, and I hoped it would stay that way for at least the rest of the day.

BGM off



She was different.

It didn’t take much to notice. The people in class were each individualistic: some were loud, some were quiet, some had problems and others were carefree.

Fujimura-sensei and Hoshino-san both checked in with her at lunch, and to keep them from worrying she said she had no problems. It truly was an honest assessment, as nobody seemed interested in bullying her, nor did anyone seem put off by her odd appearance.

But she could sense it.

Akari and Nozomi were nervous, speaking in stutters when they introduced themselves to the class. Natsuki was as well, though she covered it up by being boastful and energetic. Seiji was rebellious, saying the least he could get away with in the most informal manner he could. Tamaki and Eri were collected, always smiling to put others at ease. Hiroshi was shy and hardly said a word.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCOTWQexTjs)

Each one of them had varying emotions from time to time, as they were comfortable or surprised, disturbed or having fun.

Each one of them had these feelings and emotions one at a time.

Yumi was different.

It was something she had noticed before but had not been able to arrange clearly in her head. Before the experiments, before the torture, she had felt as they did. Sequences of thoughts and feelings, complex arrangements from one to the other. She thought of that as “normal.”

It didn’t feel like that anymore.

It was something like herself she could detect in Rin, in Sakura, in Shirou, with varying intensity.

Rin was like two “normals” put together, with the same sequence and arrangement of emotions and feelings, but sometimes in conflict with one another. Yumi thought it was like putting a “Rin of the world” together with a “Rin of magic.” They were similar, but occasionally rubbed each other the wrong way.

Sakura was like three “normals” put together. Yumi thought it was the “Sakura of the world” with the “Sakura of danger” and “Sakura of determination.” One was like everyone else. The second seemed to view the world like a dangerous entity, one that had to be defended against. The third tried to balance the two, protecting itself from the outside with the face of the first.

Shirou…was like none of that. An absence. Yumi wasn’t quite sure why she thought of it like that, but, it was something she had come to realize almost immediately. Shirou hardly had any “normal” within him any longer.

Yumi thought she and Shirou were both the most alike. But it was at the same time completely different.

She was not a lack of “normal.” She was overflowing with it.

Too much.

At once.

So many emotions, so many thoughts and feelings…together. Not balanced like Sakura, nor at odds like Rin. Not lacking like Shirou. But full. So completely full, she couldn’t tell where one began and the other ended.

Angry, happy, scared, thrilled, sad, awed…all at once. So much that it took her a moment to even decide on one.

Yumi could only recall once in which they all lined up. She thought maybe, just maybe, if she could reach that again, she might understand.

It was why, still so full, she thought she was the most like Shirou.

His expression, that day.

The day she was saved.

One look. It took one look from her, one look from him, and she had it. One singular line, thread, direction.

Salvation.

BGM off



I made sure that today, I was the one to cook.

Three days kept from it. Tohsaka, Sakura, I will return this imprisonment a hundredfold! You could not stop my advance today!

Well, really, Sakura was at work and Tohsaka was inspecting the boundary field up at Ryuudou Temple. Win by default, I suppose.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dF1VUJDVazQ)

As it was Yumi’s first day in high school and Fuji-nee’s first day fully back to work, I wanted to make a big, full meal and went with teppanyaki. It also served as a counter to all of the Chinese and Western-styled food Tohsaka and Sakura had been making lately, what with the local Kobe beef* and fresh cabbage. I spent the rest of the morning after walking Sakura to work on shopping, then did all the pre-preparation I could.

Then, training.

It was an almost perfect arrangement. Tohsaka would teach me magic and Kenpo three days out of the week, and I would usually spend three more days trying to perfect what I had come to know those days. It left one day in which I could try playing around with what little sword work I knew and practice with a few of the weapons in my arsenal.

The unfortunate thing, of course, was that I was never going to be a master swordsman. It was readily apparent as I started switching between the different weapons I had. The little I knew before the War had of course centered on Kendo, and the way one swung a Japanese sword was completely different to, say, how one used a European sword like Caliburn. You swung with your left hand and guided right in Kendo, but swung right and balanced left with the heavier European blade. And neither were at all similar to the short scimitars like Kanshou and Bakuya, nor the extremely heavy longsword like Moralltach. I hadn’t even begun to try using non-swords.

And I was willing to bet, even if I dedicated years to mastering one, I’d never reach Fuji-nee’s level of expertise. Much less someone like Saber or Lancer.

I spent the afternoon practicing footwork and swings for a Japanese-style weapon, but retired early to get dinner started. I was just donning the apron when I heard the slide of the front door and the silent entry that had to be Yumi; Sakura, Tohsaka, and Fuji-nee all announced themselves regularly. I poked my head out of the kitchen and caught Yumi as she entered. “Hey. Welcome home. How was the first day?”

It was the expression of overwhelmed thoughts that came to Yumi’s face, the same one I had seen her regularly don when addressing Fuji-nee. She looked both ready to burst from information overload and ready to just ignore everything and not even answer. “It was…busy,” she said finally.

I didn’t want to be that kind of parent you see in manga or on television and ask something asinine like, “did you make any friends?” I figured if she had anything she really wanted to discuss, she would do so on her own time. Considering the way Tohsaka demanded everyone speak up in this house, I don’t think Yumi had any issue with bringing something up with me or anyone else.

So, instead, I said, “We’ll have dinner once everyone is back. And I promise it’ll be good enough that Fuji-nee will be too busy to get a word in edgewise this time around.”

This earned a slight smile from Yumi. While uncommon, it did seem like she was doing it a little more often than when she first came here.

Without further comment, the girl went to turn the television on, politely dismissing me back to my work. It was actually something I kind of liked that was different about everyone else in this house, but Yumi regularly watched television. While Fuji-nee often zoned out in front of a variety show, nobody else in this house particularly used it—save when Sakura and I would trap Tohsaka into watching something and amusing ourselves with how she reacted to watching something like Star Wars or the latest Gundam anime.

I think we sufficiently scared her into believing robots would destroy the world…or at least come for her in the middle of the night.

Yumi though tended to watch various different things, from comedy gameshows to old yakuza films to Doraemon. A part of me hoped that it was one of her own little ways of making up for the innocence she had lost, engaging in something mundane and amusing.

Hopefully, she would find something at school equally as everyday.

BGM off


Escaping Fate, Altered Life, End

*The location of Fuyuki City in Japan is never given, though the visual basis is the city of Kobe. Tohsaka’s house is in fact a fairly well-known location in Kobe’s Kitano-chou area, and there are a fair number of sites online where you can see the bridge, road to the church, Emiya household, and the like.





Escaping Fate
Interlude 4-1
Nocking the Bow

When she got past the initial jealousy, Sakura had to admit that it was adorable.

Shirou had apparently spent all afternoon training and Rin had spent most of the day inspecting the boundary field surrounding Ryuudou Temple for an anomaly that both had come to the dinner table tired and sore. Usually they were up and about after such activities, but today everyone had opted to join Yumi in front of the television and watch a movie.

Taiga had been the first to submit—unsurprisingly—and was to one side, sprawled in a fashion that looked completely uncomfortable and lightly snoring. Rin had been next, lulling into Shirou’s shoulder even as he poked her a couple of times in the ribs to keep her up. Then Shirou had succumbed an hour later.

Now they lay there in a pile in what looked like a very intimate position, Rin half sprawled atop Shirou like a blanket. Sakura wasn’t sure she wanted to wake them, though, if they were so tired.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCtYGfemCGQ)

Looking at it made her sad.

She was aware of the chemistry between her sister and Shirou. There was attraction there, both ways, and Sakura had for the longest time felt so jealous of her sister for it. For many things.

But there was also an awareness there, on her sister’s part, that Sakura herself knew, and the both of them had come to the realization.

Shirou was far away from the both of them.

It was an inscrutable sense. Shirou was certainly there, laughed and smiled and got angry and everything else with them. But his eyes were always on the horizon, always off to the distance. The same feeling had permeated Saber’s presence when she had been here, and now it was beginning to fully form within Shirou as well.

It made her sad because it was a sign of their parting.

Surely, Shirou would live his life. It might even fill Rin and Sakura’s life as well, may be a part of them until they died as well. But already, something had formed that said he was beyond this existence, that he was going to reach for someplace they could not follow.

That sense was beautiful, but it was lonely too.

She wanted Shirou to reach it, but she was going to be sad when he did.

Sad that he would leave them both behind.

So Sakura watched, and she hoped that in the meantime, she could fill his life as much as possible. She hoped her sister would do the same. Even if that meant she had to watch them be so comfortable with each other, she would do so, and hope these adorable moments would be good memories for him.

BGM off

Yumi had left the television since the movie ended, though a new film was playing and keeping the lull of energy the same. Sakura wondered if Yumi, tired from the day’s activities as well, had gone to bed already.

The way Yumi had acted, though, once the film was done…really hadn’t been tired, though.

When she was done replacing the dishes into their places in cupboards and drawers, Sakura went to check on Yumi. Her room, however, was empty when she knocked, and none of the rooms nearby were occupied either.

“The dojo, perhaps?” Sakura could not think of a reason why their charge would be there, unless Takumi Hoshino had already convinced Yumi to join the Archery Club. Still, even that was no reason, since Shirou and Sakura’s archery gear were both stowed in their rooms and Sakura was certain Yumi would not borrow them without permission first.

When Sakura made her way to the dojo, though, she spotted the open door to the shed.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDtO1LihTOY)

Sakura was not a practicing magus. But she still had the awareness, even if it was distant in her consciousness. When confronted with the absolute truth of the matter, she could bring it up and it would become plainly obvious.

She remembered years ago, coming across the same insurmountable proof.

There was no flow of prana, but there was a circulation. When Sakura stepped into the shed and saw Yumi’s hunched-over form, she could see the magic willing itself to escape, like a caged animal within a container.

Like worms crawling through her body.

Pushing that thought aside, Sakura said, “Yumi?”

The girl startled, and from her lap one of Shirou’s bokutou fell. The wooden sword clattered like the gong Sakura imagined going off now in Yumi’s head. “S-S-Sakura-nee.”

It was the first time Yumi had addressed her as such. For a moment, Sakura could not even respond, because it both made her heart soar and broke it at the exact same time.

“I, um…” Yumi stuttered and Sakura could not help but note it was the most animate she had ever seen the girl. “Well, um…yes.”

Sakura tilted her head. “Yes what?”

“Uh…well. I…don’t know.” Yumi seemed to realize she was not making any sense. “Is there something you, um, wanted?”

Sakura wondered at that. She thought she knew why Yumi was doing what she was. Sakura was terribly familiar with it, after all, and now that she knew Shirou’s motives, she thought it was not a far leap to apply them to Yumi as well.

Shirou’s dream, to save. To be an ally of justice.

“Why are you doing this?” Sakura asked.

Yumi was silent for a long time, her eyes darting about, almost as frantically as a REM state sleeper.

It was enough to make Sakura a little dizzy.

“To help,” Yumi said, finally. “I just…don’t know how.”

Sakura watched the girl carefully and considered. She understood the implications and reasoning. It was not too far from what Sakura herself felt like, though unlike Rin, she was aware she could only support Shirou from the sidelines. It made her feel helpless, but…

Her magic was unsuited to help. It was merely a tool of sealing and destruction.

“You know why you can’t do anything, right?” Sakura asked.

Yumi blinked at her.

“You have a closed circuit.”

Yumi nodded, slowly. “Nothing comes out, no matter what I do. I can see what I want to do, but I can’t get there.”

Sakura sighed.

It was probably wrong. Dangerous.

It was also selfish. To help Shirou. Yumi might even harm herself in the process.

But…

She was reminded of high-jumps. And never reaching them, no matter how much one tried.

“Counting.”

Yumi blinked again.

Sakura settled down next to the girl and picked up the dropped wooden sword. “Magic flows through my circuit when I count down from a number. Like how you think of kanji in your head when someone brings up words?”

Yumi nodded, sitting down as well.

“You will learn about it in math class, but, I imagine, um, imaginary numbers. Numbers that only really exist in theory. I shape them. That’s how I start the flow of magic out.”

So, she decided, if Shirou was going to reach an imaginary place and Yumi was going to pursue it…

She had no right to stop them.

If she loved them…

She would help them surpass it all. That high and far away bar.

BGM off


Interlude 4-1, Out

Arashi_Leonhart
July 14th, 2011, 09:28 PM
Also I write all my chapters these days with FFN's format in mind.

I'm pretty idiosyncratic about how I write nowadays and format stuff for possible publication. Once upon a time, I formatted stuff with FFN in mind, but, no longer. I aim for a greater goal! BWAHAHAHAHA!

Alulim
July 14th, 2011, 09:29 PM
All I really do is the single punctuation. I have no other major problems from the site.

Arashi_Leonhart
July 14th, 2011, 09:49 PM
AN: Okay, getting this out before people decide my story is too slow and boring.

Although in general, I may scream “DEEEEEEEN!!!!!!!!!” like anyone else that compares the FSN game to the anime, there were a few things I really liked about the anime. One was the lion plushie. So that comes up here, even though it doesn’t appear in the same way in the game.

Maybe I should just be happy FSN didn’t get the same treatment as Tsukihime. And that the Unlimited Blade Works movie was comparatively awesome.

I highly recommend rocking to a version of “Emiya” for this one. Not one of the louder remixes, as things are not sufficiently epic quite yet for that, but, maybe this Battle Moon Wars (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d66KCh1S5L8) version. Afterward, try this song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji03z81ebyg). You game players will know when.

Escaping Fate
Chapter 5
Seven of Swords

“I think a vampire is in town.”

The only thing I could be pleased with was that Tohsaka said this before I had taken a drink. There was no telling what she would do if I spit tea right into her face.

Instead, I gaped at her. “What?”

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyQaOxUzB-U)

“That’s the only conclusion I can think of,” Tohsaka said, finger in the air. She often assumed this position as the Tohsaka-sensei Lecture™ began. “I’ve been inspecting both the field around Ryuudou Temple and the various points on the leyline and can detect a distortion in the magical energy. That sort of thing occurs when a presence that doesn’t belong is present.”

Tohsaka had spent the last week running around the city, coming home exhausted and annoyed. Though she didn’t let it show when Fuji-nee and Yumi were around, it became more and more obvious that she was building up to some kind of problem like the magus that had been operating near her territory and experimenting on Yumi.

I just, well, didn’t quite expect this.

“Doesn’t belong? Wouldn’t anything intruding on Ryuudou’s field be like that?”

Nodding, Tohsaka said, “True, but it was specifically awakening due to a property that was not supposed to be here. Shirou, what do you know about Dead Apostles?”

I’d heard the name, though I really couldn’t say with regards to what. “I know they’re like vampires, but that’s about it.”

Tohsaka nodded. “So, then, we’ll start from what you do know. The boundary field around the temple disrupts anything that doesn’t enter by the front gate, though normal humans would merely get lost or feel uneasy.”

I nodded. We’d covered that much before, at least.

“For Servants, it lowered their fighting capacity significantly.”

I nodded again.

“Why do you suppose that is?”

I had to think about it, and decided to safely sip my tea while I had the chance. I guess I could only be grateful that there was plenty of time until dinner when everyone would be returning home—I’m not sure I could pay attention to making a meal at this point.

The boundary field at Ryuudou was not one created by a magus. From what I had learned, monks there had set the field up in a fashion similar to magic, though using different properties. Magic was essentially the creation of miracles; what the monks did was more akin to the enhancement of the natural state of things. Much like the principles behind the difference from a Reality Marble and a Marble Phantasm.

Something Tohsaka had drilled into me until I thought my ears might bleed. Something Illya, in fact, had tuned us onto.

“The barrier repels things not naturally-born by the world, which included Servants,” I said.

Tohsaka smiled. “Exactly. So why then would it react stronger to a vampire?”

“I follow. The vampire extends its life through unnatural means and is constantly trying to be ‘defeated’ by the natural course of things. The field around Ryuudou does so even more.” The reason Servants were weakened if they passed through the field was the world constantly trying to deny them existence, since they were heroic figures of times past that no longer existed in the modern world.

“Right. The intrusion I detected was beyond just a person or creature that didn’t belong. It was a full-blown attack on something that defied the natural course of things.” Tohsaka reassumed her teacher position and I resisted the urge to shake my head. “Between that, and the other disturbances in the leyline that I’ve come across, that’s my conclusion. We haven’t heard anything about attacks yet, but, vampires have to feed, and there aren’t many animals around here because of the magic leyline. If there is one here, it’ll strike eventually.”

I had to wonder, though. “But isn’t it a bit of a leap to go the vampire route? I mean, I know there are other creatures out there.”

Tohsaka looked away, and I had a sense that she might be covering up a blush. “The sense I have from the leyline is very specific. I’m kind of familiar with the presence of a Dead Apostle, and it’s very similar.”

I frowned, considering. She had never told me that she knew what such a thing was like, but I had a feeling she wasn’t going to answer if I asked how she knew. So instead, I went with the more immediate concern. “Why do you keep switching between ‘vampire’ and ‘Dead Apostle’ anyway?”

“Well, they’re slightly different. A Dead Apostle is a vampire, but a vampire isn’t a Dead Apostle. I’ll explain more some other time*, but I keep thinking that this is probably more like a vampire, which is a lesser threat. Dead Apostles usually only get to the point they are by learning to avoid places like Ryuudou Temple. Vampires might still just stumble across it or even test it out just to try.”

“So are we going to go look for it, stop it before it victimizes someone?”

Tohsaka paused and gave me an even stare. I wondered for a moment if she was going to say something along the lines of, who do you think you are, inviting yourself along? This is my thing. Instead, she asked, “Do you have something that would work against a creature that may be centuries older than you?”

I considered that. Really, Caliburn was the only thing I had ever used to fight a vastly superior figure, and that hadn’t exactly turned out well when I didn’t have Saber guiding me. I had practiced a lot with Kanshou and Bakuya, but never used them in battle. Caladbolg had done well against the magus Setsuka Yuushi, but I had used it as a Broken Phantasm and Yuushi had been a human. Against a creature that may have years of experience in close-quarters combat, I was still a rank amateur.

I had a couple of swords that I thought would work, but, on the battlefield…

“Yes,” I said. No point in bouncing back and forth theoretical ideas in my head. Tohsaka knew as well as I did anyway, and she was likely just testing my determination.

“Fine. We’re going to go out tomorrow night, so you might get to practicing tonight.”

I sighed and went to replace the tea Tohsaka was ignoring. I didn’t particularly feel like any myself now either.

BGM off



Something was up.

It was a growing sense in Yumi’s mind. Ever since she had started wearing Rin’s school uniform, it had felt like Rin was closer to her, always with her. She knew that there was nothing magical about the uniform, but the sense that was there left Yumi with an impression. An intuition.

Hoshino-san had convinced Yumi to join the Archery Club and although Yumi was far from starting the use of a bow herself, Sakura had immediately offered the use of her gear. Though she didn’t use it in club—she was still merely pulling the bands to build up the arm strength—Yumi carried the bow and equipment to school for the exact same reason she wore Rin’s uniform. It felt like Sakura.

Here too, she started feeling as if Sakura went with her.

Because of that, when she made it home that evening and sat down to dinner, she could tell. She could sense that Rin was not telling her something, that Sakura was aware of something and not speaking of it.

Of Shirou, she couldn’t tell, though she wondered if carrying that lion plushie he had in his room would work.

Dinner was just like any other day, though it being a Friday, Yumi did not have to worry about waking early for school the next day. When everything was finished and put away, Shirou went to the dojo to practice with something.

Yumi decided she would get plenty of sleep tonight. She had a feeling she would need to be well-rested for tomorrow.



BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioRd3DNJkx8)

“Cyrus the Great was the Persian, right? The one that conquered Babylon?”

“Yep.”

“Hmm. Caster, perhaps? He had some sort of law-making cylinder as opposed to a sword or spear associated with him, right?”

Tohsaka and I wandered the city that Saturday evening, staying toward the quieter and less-traveled regions in an attempt to either catch this vampire or draw it in ourselves. After four solid hours of wandering, it had devolved into a conversation about other mythic figures and what it might have been like to summon them as Servants.

I wonder if Tohsaka ever felt disappointed that instead of summoning a renowned figure from the past, she got someone like me instead.

“True, and he wasn’t known for riding things into battle like Genghis Khan or the like. He doesn’t particularly fit any of the classes, though he’s assuredly a Heroic Spirit.” Tohsaka shrugged. “I guess I would have liked to see what his presence would’ve done to that Goldie, since Cyrus the Great was known as the King of Sumer, where Gilgamesh’s story originates from.”

I shrugged too. Though as a point of interest, the different figures in history and myth being Servants was thought-provoking, I didn’t really know as much as Tohsaka seemed to. Most of the historical figures I did pay attention to generally, well, had swords to their name.

Miyama-chou** at this time of the night was extremely quiet, though you could see a person about here and there. Saturdays were bereft of uniformed kids, though many teenagers were out and about, in transit between visits with friends or the like. Some adults were heading back home from late weekend work. I suppose Tohsaka and I looked like a young couple on their way from a date, maybe carousing for some privacy.

Young couple.

Tohsaka made me wonder what exactly she intended to do. Upon her first return from London, she had declared that it really wasn’t for her and that she would not stay there long-term and made arrangements with her teachers there. When she was here, she was fairly insular and I’m certain people like Mitsuzuri were not even aware when she was and was not in town. I always thought that considering her popularity at school, if not here, she would be raking in the confessions from guys in London.

Not that I was familiar with how Western magi thought, but, an exotic beauty like Tohsaka plus the magical lineage to guarantee a talented heir…

Maybe she didn’t even notice. That would make sense.

“You think any Americans qualify?” Tohsaka asked.

“Only if there were a ‘Gunslinger’ class available. And I bet a lot of them would be Anti-Heroes, like Butch Cassidy or John Wilkes Booth.”

“You’re forgetting Buffalo Bill or Annie Oakley,” Tohsaka pointed out. “I don’t think they’d qualify as Anti-Heroes.”

I wonder if any vampires stalking us decided we weren’t lovers but a pair of extremely odd academics.

We stayed in Miyama-chou though because boundaries of water did repel vampires just like in the myths, acting as pseudo-Boundary Fields. Since Tohsaka had detected the vampire on the Ryuudou Temple-side of the city, it was highly unlikely that it had found a way to cross to Shinto without completely circumventing the city in some fashion.

It was, however, getting late. Passing one in the morning meant that we were well past the halfway mark through the night, and I had the feeling that a vampire would not feed too late and risk getting caught out in the sun away from wherever it had holed up. If we didn’t encounter anything suspicious in the next half hour or so, I think the consensus was we would return home.

BGM off

We passed a different kind of suspicious—the kind that included the rustling of bushes, a female giggle and a male grunt—and I shook my head. Oh how little the world knew.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ndIxIGtfow)

Tohsaka’s reaction was funnier. “Hey!” she shouted into the bush. “Do your parents know where you are?! Don’t make me call the cops!”

A couple of “eeps!” and some more rustling later, a very red pair—probably teenagers still—climbed out from behind the pseudo-park area that lined one street. The girl’s blouse was off-center and the collar fell off one side of her shoulder, while the boy was hastily zipping himself up. It was just about as cliché as I could imagine.

Yes, children, a blood-sucking demon was out and could possibly get you. Time to have sex like your life depended on it!

Well, not that they knew about the demon part.

Actually, that sounded more like my history. Tohsaka’s and mine.

I guess I really am a hypocrite.

“I could’ve been a mugger or rapist, and you’d have been helpless with your pants down!” Tohsaka was scolding the two as they hastily ran in the opposite direction from us.

Tohsaka’s even more of a hypocrite.

BGM off

“Geez, you’d think they’d have more sense than to do it in an area right next to a road,” Tohsaka said. “Anyone could walk in on them!”

Was it just me, or was there a fleeting sense of jealousy I heard? “We need to get you a boyfriend, Tohsaka.”

“Only if we get you a girl first,” she countered immediately. “That way you’ll not get distracted in the middle of training!” Ah, so she had prepared this argument before hand.

“You’re the one that sounds like an old, grumpy adult, seeing those two—”

Unlike the cliché expectation of films and television, villains do not often announce their presences and go on like a windbag while their opponent comes up with a plan, unless their name is Kirei Kotomine, anyway.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d66KCh1S5L8)

Whoever leapt from the shadows beyond where the two lovers had been wasted no time in drop-kicking Tohsaka right where she stood. The meaty sound of his foot connecting with her diaphragm was impossibly loud in the open air, and she flew out of my peripheral sight.

“Trace, on!”

Kanshou and Bakuya appeared in my hands, and I knew I would never manage a strike in time. So as the vampire honed in on me, I flung my arms out sideways and sent the blades skyward.

The vampire hit me with a hard punch right into my abs, hard enough to send my feet out from under me, tipping me head-first into the ground while I flew back a few meters. I felt something tear in my body, but managed to get my arms beneath me so I didn’t face-plant into the ground.

I forced my head up to watch for its next move. The vampire—a tall man in a black coat and blue jeans—was not watching me, however, and instead was looking down at a red-colored jewel at his feet.

I ducked my head beneath my arms.

The explosion was like a grenade and thankfully had the properties like one. My head was only a couple of meters from it, but nothing struck me while I was pressed flat to the ground. The vampire, on the other hand, got a face full of magical fire.

I didn’t have time to waste.

I traced a new pair of Kanshou and Bakuya, glanced up at the first pair, now falling down toward me, and threw the pair in my hands like boomerangs to either side of the vampire.

The first pair arched toward the second pair, and both pairs pulled at each other. Forming a circuit on the x and y axis surrounding the vampire, they closed in.

The smoke cleared, and the vampire, singed and looking mightily angry, caught sight of the steel incoming toward him.

“Trace, on.”

It was a vampire. It was death reanimated, a thing that all that was sacred on this earth would expel if given the chance.

It was a stain on this world.

“Admit to all your unholy sins.”

A new sword formed in my hand, a large hilt and grip with a blade hardly longer than Kanshou and Bakuya. Though a broadsword, the end was angled like a single-edged slashing weapon, unnaturally so.

Curtana, the broken sword of mercy, the weapon of Ogire the Dane.***

I threw the blade—no time for the bow—and so intent on the flying Kanshous and Bakuyas, the vampire had no room to avoid all five weapons even if he had the reflexes. He smacked one Kanshou aside, twisted into a shallow cut from its partnered Bakuya, but leapt right into the path of Curtana as the original pair came at him from the sides. With a response surpassing anything I could do, he caught Curtana mid-air.

By the blade, cutting his hand.

Which was enough.

The vampire froze in place, hand dripping from the cut made by Curtana. He seemed to have control of his arms, though the hand gripping Curtana was stuck holding the blade. His feet, though, were locked in place. The look on his face screamed one question: Why?

Because you must confess.

Or die.

A third pair of Kanshou and Bakuya formed in my hands and I closed in on my target. I remembered what Tohsaka said about vampires being killable by normal means, so I didn’t bother attempting to Reinforce them. I just charged in and swung both blades as he flailed his free hand at me.

A head hit the ground, followed by a splatter of blood.

BGM off

I glanced at Tohsaka, brushing herself off like she hadn’t just been drop-kicked by an enemy out for blood. She caught my eye. “Shirou, your side.”

Looking down, I finally noticed the tear in my shirt and the wound beneath. I’m not even sure when it had been inflicted, from the initial hit or his arm managing to connect before I beheaded him, but it looked like I had just barely managed to avoid being impaled. “Oh.”

“Shirou!”

This time, Tohsaka screamed, and I glanced back to the defeated body of my opponent—

Whose head had returned to its shoulders.

“Oh.”

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji03z81ebyg)

The vampire thrust his hand at me like a talon, and I dove out of the way, rolling down the slope of the street. Thankfully, the vampire did not come in pursuit and looked to still be locked in place by Curtana.

Tohsaka started pumping Gandr shots into him to keep him from managing to pull Curtana, giving me the time I needed.

Nothing for it.

“Spirit and technique, flawless and firm.”

If Kanshou and Bakuya couldn’t kill this thing, then I would need something stronger. But I was starting to run low on prana and didn’t know what else might work. So I would just have to go stronger with what I had.

“Our strength rips the mountains, our swords split the water, our names reach the Imperial Palace.”

I Reinforced the blades in hand, pulling out the utmost of their abilities. Sharpness, speed, balance, power. The blades cracked under the strain and screamed as their steel became brittle.

The vampire managed to put his shoulder in the way of Tohsaka’s shots and used his free hand to pull at Curtana, still cutting into the hand that had grabbed it.

“The two of us cannot hold heavens together.”

I strengthened Kanshou and Bakuya until they broke, then charged back up at the vampire.

“Aghhhhhhh!”

The blades cut the vampire, me, the concrete beneath our feet, and themselves.

This time, the blood that hit the ground was mine; when Kanshou and Bakuya dissipated, they left my cut and broken hands to splatter red all over. But the vampire’s body was not far behind, also painting the street red.

And then the vampire’s body hit the ground.

And again.

And again.

The x-pattern cut I made had sent the creature into four pieces. My hands looked like they wanted to be in four pieces but had been left whole on accident. I heard myself groan and felt my circuit close since there was hardly any od left in it.

BGM off

Tohsaka was next to me faster than I could have expected, catching me before I collapsed face-first into the bloody pile I had made. “Hey, don’t give out on me here, I can’t carry your heavy ass all the way home!”

I groaned again, though I put all my remaining strength into my legs. They felt like metal, though, slow to respond and reverberating like I’d been tapping against them rhythmically. I had practiced overedging Kanshou and Bakuya before and knew that it would essentially blow up in my face, but I’d done it at full prana stock before. Now I felt like my body was a steel skeleton, like the frame of a building, and someone was hammering away on one end and arc wielding on the other.

Maybe I’ll not try that again for a while.

“Maybe you better not do that one again for a while,” Tohsaka said.

Also, my building frame was apparently echoing.

“What was up with its head?” I complained.

Tohsaka was looking up at the sky. “I had a feeling it would be tonight, because there’s a full moon out. Dead Apostles are stronger with the moon full, though I didn’t expect it to be strong enough to return to its state before it was headless.”

I’m not really sure what she was talking about, though I often felt that way with Tohsaka. I would probably get a further explanation sometime later, after I didn’t feel like laying where I was and sleeping for a week.

“What do we do about that?” I asked, motioning to what remained of the vampire’s body.

Tohsaka shrugged. “I’m pretty sure it’s dead now,” though the tone of her voice seemed a little unsure, considering it had put itself back together after a beheading. “Vampires turn to ash after they die and the world ‘resets’ their presence, but I’ll light it up after we get you out of the way first.”

I managed a grin at her. “You’re always cleaning up after my messes.”

“Yeah, well, until we get you a wife, I suppose it falls on me.”

For some reason, I suddenly had this image of Tohsaka in a maid outfit flash through my mind. I made sure to place my tongue between my teeth and hold it there.

If I uttered so much as a word of that, I was pretty sure Tohsaka would erase any evidence of my existence too.



BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2D4HUVjS9q4)

Sometimes, she dreamed.

It was common to dream about her pain. She didn’t exactly nightmare about it, but it was unpleasant and left her feeling hopeless. Like nothing in the world could be right when such a thing occurred.

It was becoming more common to dream about life. School life, daily life. Whimsical things, like grocery shopping, or actually getting the chance to shoot a bow in club, or riding the train to Kyoto. Sometimes they were colored by things she watched on television, like a love triangle between club members or a zombie apocalypse happening in the middle of school.

Whenever she watched Shirou and his swords, she dreamed of distant shores.

Before she had been an orphan, she had once traveled with her mother. She had seen numerous beaches and various shorelines. She couldn’t place the name of a country with each image, but she knew she had been to Sydney, to Vancouver, to Venice. She had seen parts of America, India, England, Russia.

She thought maybe, she dreamed of those places after seeing Shirou and his swords…

Because of his happy face.

She couldn’t recall the emotions she felt before the pain had begun. She wasn’t sure what was her own and what had been added. But looking at Shirou, seeing his happiness at saving her, she thought that emotion fit best with what she could remember of her innocence.

Tonight, it was not so dissimilar.

She had followed after the two of them. She knew that was logically unsound, that if they were going after something, following them would place both herself and them in danger. But an impulsive side of her, a side that certainly was not of her own making, insisted that she go.

For some reason, she had the feeling she would not be attacked anyway. It was an impression she got from that sense of Rin she had with her, like Rin was fully aware that whatever they were after was threatened by them, and would attack them. Not Yumi, not anyone else.

So she followed, and in the shadow of a tree’s overhang, she watched.

When she saw Shirou do battle for the first time, it had been like before. It was vaguer, more distant, not so apparent. But when Shirou had defeated that thing, had cut it to pieces, there was a distant sense of satisfaction on his face.

A distant sense that he may have saved someone.

Yumi quickly returned home after that, so Shirou and Rin would not notice she had been gone. She prepared for bed in record time and was down before they had even made it back to the residence.

That night, after seeing Shirou and his swords, she dreamed of her perfect, untouched past.

She dreamed of escaping the hand fate had dealt her.

BGM off


Escaping Fate, Seven of Swords, End

*Getting into the Tsukihime arena a bit. If you’re unfamiliar with the Nasuverse, here’s the gist: vampires are fairly similar to vampires of other fiction, though the reason they would “burn to ash” is touched on here. Much like Shirou’s Traced weapons, which would disappear over time as reality seeks out the contradiction of a “sword that was not here a moment ago” and dissolves them, vampires are creatures that are the contradiction, “a life that should have died long ago” that the world is constantly trying to fix. A Dead Apostle is a long-lived vampire that has broken free of any connection to its sire and established itself.

**Miyama-chou is the residential district of Fuyuki City, compared to Shinto, the city-side.

***Shirou only ever saw Black Keys in Heaven’s Feel, and as they’re mere conceptual weapons with a specific purpose, not a Noble Phantasm, I really doubt he ever saw one from Gate of Babylon. Though, considering everything else he sees in Gate of Babylon, it wouldn’t be a stretch that he saw a weapon with a similar purpose.





AN: Random bit of nonsense: Rin needs to join Ouran Academy, marry Kyouya Ohtori, and together they will rule the world as Sorceress and Shadow King. That is, if they aren’t already related, considering their similar sleeping habits and personalities. That’s all I could think when writing one of the scenes here.

Escaping Fate
Chapter 6
Dead Apostle Apostle

I woke up to the throbbing of my hands.

It was actually the surprise of sensation that woke me. After returning home, Tohsaka had dipped bandages in some kind of solution and wrapped them around my palms and wrists; the sensation I felt then had instantly numbed. After applying the same to my stomach wound, we had both retired to our rooms and I found sleep to be easy after that.

My side was a little sore, but my hands felt rather prickly, so I carefully climbed out of my futon and decided I would roll it up later.

Unfortunately, the exertions from the night before caused me to sleep in, and although still fairly early in the morning, I could smell food already being prepared. After changing clothes—I hadn’t bothered to change from the night before—I went out into the living room to seek the purple-haired witch that had beat me to the kitchen.

Tohsaka, of course, was not a morning person. Yumi was somewhere in what I thought to be the “normal” range, as she did not wake up first thing in the morning, nor did she laze about if given the chance like Tohsaka. While it was after when Yumi normally awoke, considering it was the weekend I figured she would sleep in to make up for anything she had missed while school was in.

Sakura, of course, was just as much of an early-riser as I was and was well on her way toward finishing preparations for breakfast when I made it out. I poked my head into the kitchen, though she didn’t seem to notice, her back turned and humming slightly as she rolled fresh nori.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jbKSy1zXf4)

To save people so they could be happy was my warped happiness, but I don’t think anyone could begrudge me when I say that Sakura’s happiness was also mine.

“Morning, Sakura,” I said.

The humming ceased and she glanced over her shoulder, blushing slightly. “Good morning, senpai. Breakfast is almost ready.”

“I can see. Sorry I didn’t make it up before you.” I gave her an exaggerated frown. “I wish you would let me at least handle your weekend breakfast since you always insist on doing it for the rest of the week.”

This time, Sakura leveled an even stare at me. “Senpai, do you think I would let you bleed all over the food you wanted to make?”

I blinked, then glanced down at my hands. “I don’t think they’re that bad…”

Rolling her eyes, Sakura turned back to finish the nori she was preparing. “At least go replace them first, and wake nee-san. I’m certain neither of you have eaten since you left last night.”

“Okay, okay…” I grumbled. Whenever Sakura asserted herself like this, I also couldn’t help but listen. Compared to the person I had first met, one even more introverted and closed down than Yumi, I thought this forceful personality was probably more than a good thing.

BGM off



On the flip side, sometimes I wish Tohsaka would lighten up.

My morning greeting of a pillow to the face was not exactly enjoyable, especially considering it was forceful enough to topple me floorward.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xb3UmzOqios)

When the morning demon had been awoken and convinced to help me replace my bandages, she followed me back into the living room like a lost specter, a spirit of malice who couldn’t kill me because they wavered to and fro far too much.

Yumi was still absent, and when I popped my head into her room to check on her, found her still fast asleep. I tried waking her, though she merely mumbled in her sleep and rolled over, even after some prodding and promises of food. I decided she could afford to be lazy one day out of the week at least and didn’t press her further.

“So you wake me but leave her? I definitely got less sleep!” Tohsaka grumbled.

Yes, but the tradeoff of getting to see you in your morning glory is enough equivalent exchange where any beating I gain is paid for and more.

“Well, maybe this is a good opportunity anyway,” Tohsaka continued, sipping at the tea Sakura provided for her. “We can decide what we’re gonna do about a Dead Apostle showing up.”

BGM off

Sakura paused halfway in putting the miso soup on the table. She looked as confused as I felt. “What do you mean, nee-san? Didn’t you and senpai defeat what you set out to?”

I started to answer, but Tohsaka raised a finger. “Shirou, did you notice anything strange about the vampire’s actions?”

“Besides its head reattaching itself?”

Sakura gaped at me.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSyaENS3_2s)

Tohsaka shook her head. “I don’t mean its abilities. Last night was close to a full moon, so that much was possible in the first place…I’ll explain that later. No, I mean, how it behaved.”

There really wasn’t much to consider. It popped out of nowhere, staggered the both of us, and probably could’ve killed us if Curtana hadn’t held it in place. Tohsaka’s jewel magic was still suffering from the Grail War and even the explosion she had caused last night had been far short of the ones she had blasted Berserker with. I had a feeling she might have been holding back a little bit, to see if I could come up with something that would work, but, well, that was certainly a gamble…

“I can’t really think of anything,” I admitted.

Tohsaka leveled me with a stare. “You didn’t think it attacking us without provocation was strange? Or that it hadn’t attempted to feed on those kids we found in the park?”

Sakura gave us a bit of a wide-eyed look, and nodded. “It just attacked you? Like that?”

I shrugged. “Isn’t that what they do? I mean, the whole ‘lure in a target with sex appeal’ doesn’t happen in real life, right?”

Both sisters shook their heads, though it was Sakura that spoke up. “But if a vampire was looking for prey, it would have still tried to isolate you. They don’t live as long as they do without being cautious.”

“You sure seem to know a lot about their behavior,” I said, surprised. Sakura rarely seemed to care much about magical concerns, even after ousting herself as a magus.

“All of my skills revolve around the sealing of elementals and the like,” Sakura admitted. “I’ve never had any reason to use it, but, a lot of information was provided for me on creatures it would work on, including living dead.”

BGM off

Tohsaka had closed her eyes and crossed her arms, a sullen look on her face. “Anyway, Sakura is right in that just attacking us like that was uncharacteristic. Even though it wasn’t a full Dead Apostle, they’re usually smarter than that…and so I had to wonder, as it wasn’t a full Dead Apostle, whether it was commanded to do so.”

“Huh?”

The Tohsaka-sensei Lecture™ was back in full force, and I tried to refrain from rolling my eyes. And grinning. “There are a lot of inconsistencies about that vampire’s actions if it was old and strong enough to regain its head last night. That means it was certainly a vampire that bordered on the strength of a Dead Apostle. But if that were true, it probably wouldn’t have accidentally stumbled across the Ryuudou boundary field. And it certainly wouldn’t have just leapt into a brawl with us. A vampire of that age would have been able to detect the former and know better than to be sloppy enough for the latter.”

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh4jsjjgPG0)

I nodded at that much. A hundred year old creature that would have had to avoid Church Executors and the like certainly would have to know its magical lore. And know not to attract undue attention with its attacks; if it were playing smart, it could have had those two lovers we had run across without us any the wiser.

“But then, I had to wonder too, it struck me first. Seems odd, if it were picking a fight, to go for the girl first, right? Unless it knew I was a magus.” Tohsaka gave a thin-lipped smile. “In certain cases, you’re certainly more dangerous, Shirou, but to a creature that can detect od or magical circuits, I probably seem like the bigger threat.”

“Well, in most ways, you are the bigger threat,” I said, and I had to revise my earlier thought. Though Tohsaka had not recovered all of her jewel magic since the war, I had no idea what she had learned from the Association. She could’ve gleaned any number of things to compensate for the slow process of jewel creation in the meantime.

“So again, we’re back to an inconsistence in the vampire’s actions. But what if it were being controlled? Vampires not yet Dead Apostles still are bent to the will of their sires. Rather like a Servant that takes stupid actions because their Master is stupid…or because the Master is purposefully using them in a reckless way. Like Kirei using Lancer, since he never intended for Lancer to win the war.”

She covered it up pretty well, but I think the Master-is-stupid comment was directed my way.

Well, I wasn’t the one that had to use a Command Spell just to make my Servant listen to me, miss perfect.

“So you think a full Dead Apostle was controlling its actions just to test us out?” I asked.

Tohsaka nodded. “It makes sense to me. And what scares me is that it could have such control over an older vampire, one that can regenerate under the moon.”

“Again with the moon. What was that?”

“It’d take a lot to explain, but all Dead Apostles and their offspring are modeled after a power source from the moon. Those closer to Dead Apostle Ancestors—the oldest and best of the lot—are prone to being stronger under the light of the full moon. In most living dead, it doesn’t particularly mean anything since they haven’t been around long enough to resemble that power source, but one that has lived a long time…well, you saw it.”

Ugh. “So if all that is true, the Dead Apostle master is going to be even stronger than the guy last night. But why? Why here, now, us?”

“I’m not sure. Since they attacked me first, and not you, though, I also want to think that it has something to do with my family’s reputation. They might just be after me, period, and didn’t expect someone like you.”

While we had been talking, Sakura had absently been setting the table and was finished by this point. Tohsaka started in on her meal after a quick acknowledgement, and I had a feeling she welcomed the distraction. Or the excuse not to continue on that train of thought while she ate.

That dull throbbing from my hands earlier now struck my brain.

Stronger than the one we fought.

I glanced down at my hands. I could certainly heal them faster if I Traced a certain scabbard, but the constant reliance on that would just earn me a faster death, really. That vampire was certainly not on the level of a Servant, but its master…

If I was going to do anything, I would have to surpass what happened last night.

“Assuming my theory is correct,” Tohsaka said, as if she couldn’t help herself, “The Dead Apostle will come for the next full moon, when its powers are peaking.”

And if I was going to surpass what happened, I’d have to do it fast.

BGM off



BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyQaOxUzB-U)

That night, I went to Ryuudou Temple.

While the rest of the day was spent uneventfully fretting over the possibility Tohsaka had posed and trying to keep it from showing in front of Yumi, I decided I was going to clear my head and get started on that next hurdle-mountain in my way.

I went late enough that Issei and the others living there would be if not turning in for bed, unlikely to come out to do anything. The grounds were silent and peaceful with none of the sense of foreboding that had permeated the place during the war. Damage from Saber and Gilgamesh’s battle had long since been repaired, and the boundary field had also done its job in purging the mutation of evil that Angra Mainyu had created in the soil and lake.

But it was not hard to imagine that night.

Here, I had saved Illya’s life. Here, I had taken Kotomine’s life.

Here, I had set my eyes on the most beautiful sunrise.

All of my dreams were embodied here. To save, to sacrifice, and to see it all reflected in one who was like me, like everything I wanted. A brandished sword.

This body is certainly made of swords, and I needed to find a way to brandish them.

“I am the bone of my sword.”

I had to find a way to make real what was within me.

BGM off


Escaping Fate, Dead Apostle Apostle, End


Omake

“I guess I never did thank you for being the one to kill it, and saving my life,” Rin said.

Shirou stared at her. “Uh, you’re welcome, but you don’t need to thank me.”

Rin slid up next to where he sat on the porch. “But I still need to thank you properly for us to be even. So, Shirou, is there anything you want me to do? Just this once, I’ll do anything.”

Shirou turned red.

“Anything at all, just this once. I’ll carry out any order or wish you make. Whether it’s world domination or eternal life or defeating Saiyajin sent to destroy the world, I’ll do it.”

Blinking, Shirou raked his mind for where that sounded familiar…

“After all, I’m a tsundere character.”

Shirou sighed. “Yumi never should’ve shown you anime.”

Rin dramatically put her hand to her forehead and swooned into Shirou’s lap. “Should I wear only an apron and make you breakfast? Isn’t it the desire of all men to view that from behind?”

“I’m going to throw the tv out next chance I get.”

Techlet
July 14th, 2011, 09:50 PM
The latest chap on FFN was badass.

Good choice for music too.

Arashi_Leonhart
July 14th, 2011, 09:58 PM
AN: Despite the references to Dead Apostles, we won’t be seeing the Tsukihime cast in this story. Except perhaps in an omake. I’ve tossed around the idea of possibly doing a story after this on that topic regarding a throwaway mention I’ve read about in F/HA about Shirou hunting Dead Apostles and I’m considering going with a UBW good end Shirou + Satsujinki setting since I want to actually feature Saber and make fun of the fact that Shirou/Saber and Shiki/Arc are complete opposites of one another…anyway. That won’t be for a while, since I’ve got another fifteen or so chapters and a handful of interludes to go.

Escaping Fate
Interlude 6-1
Disassociation

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1VXrcaG-VI)

Now that she had seen it, returning was out of the question.

Yumi knew the option was there. Since coming into the family, since Shirou and Rin and Sakura had opened their house to her, Yumi had come to realize she could find peace. That the painful and terrible days before could be, if not forgotten, distanced and set aside, a part of her but no longer all she knew. She could regain a semblance of normality and live like she had dreamed of while in the orphanage, with a new life, a life resembling what she had with her long-gone mother.

She couldn’t any longer.

The world was not that place for her, not a safe haven of adventure and intrigue. It was dark and scary and had beings that would do terrible things. There were nightmares in the world that no human could hope to face, and there were nightmares made up even of humans that no human should hope to comprehend.

It seemed like there was Shirou, and there were the evils of the world.

The look on his face made sense to her, as hopeless as she felt it was.

In the darkness, one light was all the more apparent.

When Yumi returned to school that week, she could no longer look at it through the same frame. It was certainly reality, a carefree and positive one, even with the negativity of fights and feuds and jealousy and misunderstandings. But it was no longer the world she could wholly immerse herself in. It was like those countries she had visited before, a real and tangible location, but different. It was like Sidney or Dublin or LA, real, but separate from where she called home.

It was just another land amidst many.

School was merely a visit, not a home. Yumi would answer questions when asked—a part of her at least was certainly good at most academia—but would default to staring out the window from her second-to-corner seat* and her thoughts drift off to what was out there.

And that earned her some hostility.

A couple of the girls in class thought it arrogant and aloof that she would answer so precisely and then stare off out the window like she were bored. It didn’t help that she already stood out, her pale hair and unhealthy complexion. Perhaps that week before seeing Shirou and Rin fight, she had not seemed so distant, but now…

It didn’t help that Takumi Hoshino would check in on her more than just for club activities, as he seemed to have taken Sakura’s request to heart. It wasn’t frequent, but once or twice a week he might stop in and ask if she wanted to have lunch with him and a couple of friends from the club. Hoshino was not the most popular boy in school, but he was kind and well-liked, and the added attention she got only served to give those unhappy with Yumi a little more fuel.

So some of the girls would smile at her, present her with a polite face, but say things. Passive-aggressive things, like, “We would invite you to lunch, but you obviously are too busy for us.” They were the lashings of small girls that knew nothing but to return hurt with hurt, even insignificant hurt.

She couldn’t return, and some people didn’t want her there anyway.

Yumi was fine with it, though a little disappointed. Rin and Shirou had both told her that they had lived relatively normal lives at school and that the everyday they encountered there helped ground them. Though they never explicitly said so, it was implied that the everyday they had there kept them from becoming the kind of terror that Yuushi had become. She very much had hoped to have that as well, regardless of what direction she took her life in.

The feelings inside her swelled up instead.

Though she was fine with it, there were urges. Not her own, again, not fully from the person she considered herself. Echoes of different additions, of things not of her making. A violent urge sometimes presented itself, to hit those girls that scoffed at her, or even suicidal urges, that she didn’t belong and never would. They floated up into her head and she could peer at them as if she were outside herself, curious as to why things not of her own nature appeared.

She had certainly wanted to die while on that table.

She had certainly wanted to live longer on that table.

Here, though, darker thoughts really had no place. Yumi had no reason to think about life or death, or even have a real reason to be angry or jealous or negative in any fashion.

Yet another reason she couldn’t go back. If she had these unnatural thoughts and feelings at such a peaceful location, there really wasn’t much for her there.

So, she went to school, went through the motions. She exercised her arm muscles for Archery Club and enjoyed a little interaction with Hoshino and a couple of his friends, and she went home.

And at home, she practiced.

Shirou would often go out—he didn’t say where—and Rin had left shortly after the fight, traveling to London. Why, she hadn’t told Yumi, though Yumi suspected that it was to prepare for something bigger, as Rin’s trip was rushed in creation but was not to be long. With Rin gone and Shirou often wandering off by himself, Yumi was free.

It had not worked out at first, not at all. When she had first turned her circuit on, when she had finally figured out her own trigger, it had been erratic and overwhelming. Even Sakura, present at the time, had looked on in worry. The cycle of energy inside Yumi was fine, but when it came out, when it was released, it was jumbled and overwhelming. It felt like too much water trying to come out of too small a hose, or eating an entire meal when you were already full.

And with that flow, came the irregular feelings. Even more than normal, the opening of her circuit felt like too much, a mixture of anger, ecstasy, fear, happiness, pain, sorrow, contentment. All at once, all trying, like a din of voices, to be heard louder than the other.

The first item she tried to Reinforce, an old unused mop, had shattered into splinters.

She was irregular at school and irregular at magic.

Sakura, though, had solved the problem. Merely two days later, she had come to Yumi with a bolt of red cloth. “A present from Caren Ortensia-san, the woman at the church.”

“Why?” Yumi had asked.

Sakura’s eyes had fallen, though her lips had flattened into a determined line. “To help seal off what you don’t need.”

Yumi understood immediately what she meant, but not the reasoning. “Why are you helping? I thought…you didn’t like magic.”

“Yes,” Sakura said. Her lips fell to match her eyes. “I don’t. But…it is a part of me, and a part of us. This family.” The mention of family, though, seemed to set something off behind her expression, and Yumi could see her jaw set. “I want to help you the way I was not. So you can do what you have to, if that’s the way you decide to go.” She gave a shaky smile. “And if I help you, maybe I can understand. Senp—Shirou saved your life, and, though he doesn’t really realize it, mine too. If you’re going to help him someday…I want to help too.”

Yumi understood then.

Sakura was like her.

Saved. But desiring to be more than saved. To save the one that saved her.

Yumi took the offered cloth. “What is it called?”

Sakura took Yumi’s left arm, extended it, pulled back her sleeve. “The Shroud of Martin.”

BGM off


Escaping Fate, Interlude, Out

*Pay attention to this the next time you watch an anime set at school: the location of the hero protagonists are often the same spot, second-to-last next to the window. Though generally the domain of characters voiced by Tomokazu Sugita—Kyon (Haruhi Suzumiya), Yuuichi Aisawa (Kanon), and Rin Tsuchimi (Shuffle!) all sit there—it also houses pretty much half of the school-born protagonists, including Alto Saotome (Macross Frontier), Touma Kamijou (Magical Index), Light Yagami (Death Note), Sawako Kuronuma (Kimi ni Todoke), Junichi Tachibana (Amagami), Mikado Ryuugamine (Durarara!!)…the list goes on. The game implies both Shirou and Rin’s desks to be in the general vicinity in their respective classes, though the anime shows Shirou in the middle of the back row.





AN: I’ve received a few comments that asked whether I based the plot or Yumi off of other sources. For the record, I don’t visit forums—I just don’t have time—and don’t tend to base plots off of other people’s suggestions or challenges. The plot to this story came primarily from watching an AMV (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2GxxogM-kE). Yumi came from thinking about the fact that in a post-Fate scenario, Illya would be dead or dying and leave a void in the family life of the characters. Ideas about Yumi’s abilities in the story were somewhat derived from Satsuki from Tsukihime, which may become apparent as the story continues. Isn’t it sad, Sacchin? I’m stealing all your thunder.

Escaping Fate
Interlude 6-2
The Average One

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOCExUZA-Rc)

“So, what is it you want to know?”

It truly was equivalent exchange.

Rin was always a little baffled by Lord El-Melloi the 2nd, also known as Waver. Though he was generally kind and helpful to her as an instructor—even when most magi at the Clock Tower thought her family lineage too backwater to acknowledge—he always demanded gifts be brought from Japan whenever she traveled between the two locations. Always the gifts had to be entertaining of some kind, and he specifically cited video games as his favorite.

Shirou had helped her buy a Playstation and two of the latest games to bring with her, picking them up on their way to Narita Airport. It always occurred to Rin at the last moment, and she hated to admit the fact that she had no idea what she was looking at when they ventured into the department store’s electronics section.

So Rin had brought the gift, flew hours to Europe, and had gone straight to her teacher.

Who had promptly locked himself in his lab for forty-eight hours to delve into Virtual Fighter 5.

Rin set up lodging in the local apartment she used when making her visits, though instead of unloading material for her stay, started gathering up items she had left behind the last time: books on Mystic Codes, old scrolls with ancient spell theories written out, the three jewels she charged with prana while visiting, another Azoth sword that had been gifted to her by Waver for her accomplishments in the Grail War. She had left all such things behind because they were somewhat useful on the occasion she studied in London, but with a Dead Apostle ready to spring up in Fuyuki, she might need any or all of them.

Now, she stood in the El-Melloi lab, books and tomes surrounding her, papers stacked on the ground high enough to reach her waist. Waver sat behind his desk, thumbing through a paper that must be from one of his students, as he would shake his head now and then.

“I ran into a Living Dead intruding Fuyuki City, and I wanted to know if there was any information circling about recently,” Rin said. Though the Church was probably going to have more information on such things, they did not like magi attempting to involve themselves. “I have reason to believe it was at the behest of a Dead Apostle, and its master might have specific interest in me.”

Waver looked up from the paper briefly to meet her eyes, then returned to reading. “No information coming from that Church Executor stationed there?”

“I left someone else to ask them.”

“The boy who won the War.”

“Correct.” Rin had never fully explained to anyone the full circumstances behind the Holy Grail War’s ending, though she had confided in Waver the general facts and that Shirou was an amateur magus. Waver had seemed less concerned with Shirou than she had thought he would be, as Western magi tended to be very biased toward those without lineage. Though Waver himself was regarded somewhat of an oddity even if he was respected. “I didn’t know if there might have been random inquiries about me around here lately.”

“Nothing more than the usual. The Edelfelt girl complains as usual.” Waver looked up again from the paper, and this time kept eye contact. “The only other issue was indirectly related to you. You remember Setsuka Yuushi, correct?”

Rin’s face darkened, and that seemed to be enough of a response.

“He escaped custody from the Church when they made to hand him over to us. The Church didn’t seem to think it necessary to have anyone of particular skill transport him to London, and they lost him during a flight turnover. They did everything to cover up their asses, of course, but had to inform us since he technically is ‘our problem.’”

Rin almost bit her tongue in the process of clenching her teeth. “Lost him? Brilliant, just…brilliant.” She fumed for a moment, trying to arrange her thoughts. “And what did the higher-ups have to say about it?”

“Officially, we’ve declared a Sealing Designation on him. He’s to be brought back here and monitored. His research is of interest to some around here, and they want their hands on it. But there hasn’t been any active search declared yet for him, no hunters hired.” Waver tapped a finger on his desk. “Next time, have that Emiya boy decapitate him. Save everyone the trouble.”

“If he even comes back my way,” Rin grumbled. On the one hand, it made sense, as all of his research materials had been confiscated and stored in the Tohsaka house, though Rin had personally destroyed much of his notes. If he wanted to continue without starting from scratch, he would have to come back to Fuyuki. On the other hand, common sense suggested that Rin and whoever had defeated the magus to begin with would be on the lookout, so he should at least wait and bide his time. “Unrelated to Dead Apostles, but thank you for the heads up.”

“As for Dead Apostles,” Waver shrugged, returning his attention to the paper, “You would know more than I on the topic.”

“Thanks anyway.” Giving a quick bow, Rin considered the dangers. Yuushi was dangerous, as he had personal investment in returning to Fuyuki and reclaiming his materials, plus if he was worth his salt in magecraft, he might have figured out something to counteract Shirou’s abilities. This theoretical Dead Apostle, on the other hand, was dangerous, not only because of the abilities of the undead, but because its motives were completely unknown. If she was going to clear this all up, it was going to take a lot of work.

“Tohsaka,” Waver called before she could reach the door. “Are you sure that you do not want to study here full-time? I understand that it is not the best fit for your lifestyle, but even I have to wonder if you are wasted in faraway Japan, practicing on your own.”

Rin paused, her head lulling to one side. She had always thought that this would be her goal, that studying and proving herself in the forum of magi amidst magi was her calling. She would blaze past all those that studied for years, even though she was nothing but a country bumpkin to them. And she would take the Tohsaka expertise with jewel magecraft to the limit, and finish what her ancestors had been given. With a little help from Shirou, she thought she might even get there within an acceptable amount of normal human time. But whenever she was here, all she ever did was think of home.

And not the house she had grown up in, either.

“There’s…something I feel I have to support, there. Maybe this will sound bizarre, but, I learned something from my Servant during the war. Something terrible that might happen. For his sake, I want to try everything I can to make sure it does not happen.” Despite herself, she felt her lips quirking up. “Don’t ever let anyone else know, but…I think it might just be the greatest thing I could do with my life.”

There came a chuckle from behind the desk. “Funny, how film or television or the like very frequently use the term ‘risk one’s life’ for somebody or some higher purpose, yet they always seem to miss that ‘living one’s life’ for somebody may be just as great.” Waver paused, and Rin could hear him throw the paper onto his desk, finished or forgotten. “What was your Servant’s identity, anyway?”

Rin sighed, shrugged, and reached for the door. “Just an idiot.” She shook her head. “Just an idiot.”

BGM off


Escaping Fate, Interlude 6-2, Out

Arashi_Leonhart
July 14th, 2011, 10:00 PM
The latest chap on FFN was badass.

Good choice for music too.

Yeah, my play count on that song went from like 14 to 38 while I wrote it.

Techlet
July 14th, 2011, 10:06 PM
Yeah, my play count on that song went from like 14 to 38 while I wrote it.

It's one of my favourites from CC, Light and Darkness with This Illusion spliced into it = eargasm.

Arashi_Leonhart
July 14th, 2011, 10:34 PM
Escaping Fate
Chapter 7
Henshin

A late spring shower brought me home early from my latest attempt at training, which I had relocated to Ryuudou after dinner when nobody would take notice. From everything Illya had once said and Tohsaka kept stressing, the idea of visualizing my internal world was important, and doing so in the shed at home was sometimes a little off. The shed now reminded me of when I first met Saber, and I like to think that I’ve changed since then, changed in those few days she was here.

Outside the temple was closer to what I was now.

Without an umbrella, I was rather soaked by the time I made it home into the genkan* and under cover. I picked up my shoes, though, and decided I would go close up the shed now before I changed into dry clothing.

The house was quiet; Sakura had probably already retired to bed. Yumi was probably doing homework, as the television was not on when I passed by the living room on my way back out to the porch.

I thought about the training, about trying to create something I only had the vaguest of ideas of how. Seeing where I wanted to go was easy—the concept itself made perfect sense to me—but reaching it was another matter. I had a hard time producing more than seven or eight swords in a day, and the couple of times I had tried a shield Tohsaka had borrowed, it sapped everything I had in one go. The idea of completely ripping time-space asunder and planting my own reality on top of the world was way more than I could even think of doing right now, even if I could envision it perfectly.

The rain was coming down harder even still, and I had to dash from the rear porch to the shed in one go. But when I reached the doorway, I had to pause when I saw light from within.

Yumi was sitting next to my workspace, hands on one of my wooden swords.

“Yumi?”

The girl startled and turned to face me, backing up on her haunches in what looked like guilt. I stepped in and caught her gaze.** “What are you doing?”

This time, I think Yumi was not struggling to find what emotion to settle on. It was more like catching a kid red-handed sneaking candy or extra desserts before dinner. She stared up at me with wide eyes and no processing was going on behind them.

“I’m not angry, Yumi, just curious,” I said. I moved in and crouched next to her, wishing that Tohsaka were here. She would probably know what to do.

Yumi calmed down, taking a few deep breaths. When her breathing was even, she stared back at me with a scary intensity and from there, I could tell.

Fate was being ironic and letting me be in Kiritsugu’s shoes for a little while.

“I’m practicing magic,” she said.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh4jsjjgPG0)

I sighed, settling down completely next to her. I was pretty sure Tohsaka would have been against teaching her—at the very least, she would have talked with me about it first—and I don’t think Yumi could have learned much by watching me Trace swords. I’m pretty sure no magus, no matter how talented, could ever learn anything by watching me, since everything I did was so idiosyncratic. I regarded the girl as evenly as I could. “Why?”

“Because you’re doing it wrong.”

Whatever I had expected her to say, that certainly wasn’t it.

“I mean,” Yumi amended, and she looked abashed at her blunt words, “when I was watching you try and change your swords around, I could tell why it wasn’t working.”

I watched as she picked up the wooden sword from her lap. She stood up, holding the practice weapon at the hilt with her left hand, then reached into the collar of her shirt with her right. I heard a snap sound and Yumi closed her eyes.

“Henshin.”***

I could feel the prana flow in her elevate, and suddenly, the wood in her hand was glowing.

Staring, I tried to make sense of what I was seeing. It looked like the glow of a thousand fireflies crawling about every inch of the wooden length; it was not bright as a light bulb, for instance, but it certainly was more than any amount of reflection from polish could manage. “How are you doing that?”

This certainly wasn’t Reinforcement, enhancing the properties of an item, or Projection, the creation of an object out of nothing. It looked a lot more like one of the techniques I had been trying to achieve but failing terribly at: Alteration.

Although…

“I’m not really sure,” Yumi admitted. “When I look at the magic I’ve seen you and Rin do, I just…know, I guess.” She waved the sword around, now looking vaguely like a lightsaber, and handed it over to me. “When I look at something like this, I can imagine adding something to it, something completely unrelated.”

I took the sword, admittedly filing the idea away that if I ever needed a torch, I now had a sword in mind that could do just as well. “You’re doing Alteration magic.”

“Yes.”

BGM off

A wry grin made its way on my face. I was alright at Reinforcement, though even Tohsaka was more skilled at it than I was except in certain cases. After realizing that what I did was not full Projection magic, it became apparent that except for my own brand of specialized skills, I would not be progressing much further than I already had in everything else. I’m not sure how long Yumi had been working on this, but it could not have been very long. “Have you tried other things?”

Yumi returned to looking abashed, though she added to it a blush that was apparent even by the dim light. “Reinforcement. I tried a couple other things, but haven’t had any success.”

“Well, that already puts you way beyond what I’ve managed,” I said. “So, I’m doing Alteration wrong. But why, besides showing me the error of my ways, are you doing this?” I watched the blush fade from her skin and her eyes draw into what almost looked like a glare. “You’ve seen what magic can do to people. Even if you’re lucky like Tohsaka, it’s a hard life to take up.”

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5tU3QGalBc)

Instead of answering, Yumi once again deflected the question. “What was Saber like?”

I stared at her blankly for a moment. We had never completely discussed the Grail War with her, at least as a family, so either she had picked it up from little things mentioned here and there…

Or I really had to discuss things with Sakura.

Hmm, perhaps it’s a good thing Tohsaka isn’t here. She’d probably be completely useless by now and doing that backpedaling-brain-freeze thing she did when sneak attacked.

Yumi continued to watch me with that almost-glare expression and I decided that her own question was going to be connected to mine. Somehow. “Saber was…well, I’m not sure what you want to know.”

“When you were together, you had something to accomplish, right?” Yumi asked, though it was more like a rhetorical question. “And you knew that it would end with you parting?”

I nodded. “Yeah. She had to return…home.”

“And you accepted her decision?”

Scratching the back of my head, I glanced over at the alchemy circle still vaguely discernable in the dust of the shed. “It was pretty mutual, once we understood—” I didn’t know how much she knew about the Grail, so I decided I’d be vague, “—that the goals we had earlier on were unobtainable. We had to stop a Master and his Servant from causing rampant destruction, and it would force the end of Saber’s time here. But neither one of us would stand by and let the two of them get away with what they had planned.”

“Were you happy with her?”

I looked at Yumi a little funny; getting lectured about my romantic life by a girl barely into high school was amusing. “Yeah, I was.”

“That’s why.”

I blinked at her, baffled. There was no answer in that for her actions that I could make out. “I don’t understand.”

Yumi shrugged.

I’m being punished, aren’t I? For recklessly charging after Kiritsugu first, and now Saber.

BGM off

Handing the sword back to Yumi, I glanced around where she had been sitting. Now it became clear why things had all been just a little off whenever I came in here recently: though everything was where I had left it, occasionally it seemed as if they had been moved just so or somehow disturbed in a small fashion. It seemed, though, that she hadn’t attempted Alteration on anything I might work on in the future, since two magi pumping prana into the same object would cause it to break down.

I gave up on trying to nail down her motivation for now—it didn’t seem like I would be understanding anytime soon anyway—and motioned to the workspace. “So, what is it you have found you can do? You just made wood light up like a glowstick, are you going to throw an exploding radio at me now?”

Yumi shook her head, though she smiled a little. “I think that would actually be impossible, because the electrical wiring in a radio could possibly cause a spark large enough to read as an ‘explosion.’ So it’s already possible with a radio. I’ve found that all I can do is add aspects to something that they have no possibility of actually achieving.”

She picked up a steel pipe from the workspace against the wall. I couldn’t recall what the pipe was originally from, though I remembered that I’d salvaged it on the odd chance that it would be usable elsewhere. Walking to the door, she once again took the object in her left hand and reached under the collar of her shirt, though this time I heard no noise from beneath.

“Henshin.”

No visible change came from the pipe, though I watched intently. Yumi then planted her feet, raised the pipe, and threw it out the door.

Oh, so she was going to pipe-bomb the house instead.

I followed the path of the pipe out into the rain, twisting end-over-end…

And then it took a sharp turn to the right.

I’m not talking about an arc, like a boomerang. The pipe was flying on a course in the general direction of the house, but then veered at a ninety-degree angle as if the world’s most powerful magnet had just been turned on. It fell a few meters after making the turn and did not move from where it fell, nor did it explode as was my first thought.

“What just happened?” I asked.

Yumi nodded, as if satisfied. “I know you’ve been trying to work on making little changes to the swords you make. I think I can help.”

Sighing, I put my hand on her head and mussed through her hair. “You really should answer the questions you’re given directly. If you answer obliquely like this to a teacher at school, you’re gonna get in trouble.”

A grin came up at me through strands of random white hair. “I Altered the pipe to have the property ‘turn at a right angle after six meters of movement.’ Like how you can program a machine to do automated actions.”

Something about that leapt up to the forefront of my mind, and I asked, “What was it you thought of when you made the sword glow?”

“I thought of a firefly. You know, we saw a bunch of them a few weeks ago along the riverbank?” I nodded. We had taken Yumi to get her school supplies and had taken a long walk from Shinto on the way back. It was starting to darken a bit when we crossed the bridge, and along the way we had wandered along the riverbank chatting about school and had seen some fireflies. “I can imagine their glow in lots of inanimate objects.”

So, if I imagine a weapon that can defeat another weapon, she imagines an aspect that is inherently not a part of another object…

“I thought if maybe, you wanted to try, we could see if I couldn’t do something to one of your swords.”

I really wish Tohsaka were here now. The thought of another person trying to mess around with one of the weapons I knew of seemed like a disaster waiting to happen: if two magi pumping prana into one object meant the object would fail…

Though…

Illya had said that my magic was not Projection. Tohsaka was convinced that I was imagining the wrong things when I was Tracing. We were convinced that what I had was instead an internalized world.

If that was true, the actual prana discharge was not within the weapon itself, but in the process of moving it from one place to another and localizing it in a world that denies its existence. Not in the object itself…

I really had to call Tohsaka before we tried any of this, though, because I would absolutely refuse to do something that could literally blow up in our faces and hurt Yumi. Reckless I may be, I was not going to let her follow those kind of footsteps.

“Maybe tomorrow, then. I’ll need to talk to Tohsaka about it first.”

Yumi gave me this grin that I had to pause and take in slowly. It was the kind of grin Tohsaka was much more used to wearing, though occasionally Sakura could manage it if she had managed to somehow convince me not to do something…

Oh.

…I get it.

Yumi no longer had to convince Tohsaka that she wanted to and was capable of learning magecraft, because I would be bringing the topic up first. And would get the blunt of the assault.

Before I could recant my decision, Yumi said, “Thanks, Shirou!” and bounded out of the shed.

I sighed.

Maybe it wasn’t my footsteps Yumi needed to avoid. At least, for my sanity.


Escaping Fate, Chapter 7, End

*A genkan is the recessed entryway to a Japanese house, like a mix of a foyer and mudroom. It is where a person removes their shoes as one does not enter a Japanese house with their shoes on. The Emiya household makes this especially true, as it is a traditional Japanese house.

**Servant, Archer, has come forth in answer to your summons. I ask of you, are you my Master?

***変身is read “henshin” and means “transformation.” Yumi, not bilingual, would need to stick to Japanese for her spell stanzas. Additionally, “henshin suru” would literally mean “transform oneself” which is thematically appropriate, and “henshin” itself is very commonly heard if you watch sentai shows like she does.


Omake

“Shirou, I do not understand. What is this place?”

Shirou grinned. “This is called the Tokyo Big Sight. It’s a convention center.”

Saber blinked as a variety of cameras went off in her face. She regarded the crowd surrounding them with the same suspicion she might an enemy force. “Is there supposed to be a Master here?”

Scratching the back of his head, Shirou gave a weak chuckle. “It is possible.”

“Should we not clear these people out, then?” Members of the crowd were calling out to her to try and gain her attention. “And why is it they know my name?”

“Er, this is called Comiket,” Shirou explained. “These are all fans of manga and anime.” Shirou shrugged. “I thought we might find some entertainment here, some manga and doujinshi to take home and enjoy.”

“I still do not understand this obsession you have with treating me like this. I am a Servant, and my purpose is battle,” Saber said.

A variety of the cameramen were whispering and murmuring to one another, words such as, “She’s even in character!” and “What dedication!” Shirou regarded them with a quickly-fading smile as Saber’s glare drilled into the side of his head.

“And why do they know my name?” Saber repeated.

“Um, you sound exactly like a very popular seiyuu?”

“Shirou, I am beginning to feel very unnecessary anger. I cannot help but think you are making fun of me.”

At that moment, a cosplayer passed by them, and the crowd of cameramen all crooned in excitement as another woman passed by. She was dressed not in blue and white like Saber, but a black tank top, short plaid-patterned skirt, and zettai ryouiki over-knee socks, though she had a wig identical to Saber’s hairstyle. She smiled at Saber, then her smile widened at Shirou. “Wow, you look just like him! Can I get a picture with you?”

The cameramen cheered in excitement as suddenly the naturally-blond woman before them somehow produced a glowing golden sword.

Shirou achieved his dream that day of saving lives. By picking up the stylish cosplayer and running in the opposite direction of the crowd as an earth-scorching blast was fired.





AN: For those that, like me, tend to hear seiyuu in their head when characters are talking, I imagine that Yumi would be voiced by Kana Hanazawa (Kanade Tachibana in Angel Beats!, Suou Pavlichenko in Darker Than Black 2, Anri Sonohara in Durarara!!), magus Setsuka Yuushi sounds like Takahiro Sakurai (Cloud Strife in Compilation FFVII, Yuu Kanda in D.Gray-man, Suzaku Kururugi in Code Geass), and Yumi’s senpai Takumi Hoshino sounds like Yuuichi Nakamura (Tomoya Okazaki in Clannad, Alto Saotome in Macross Frontier, Ryuu Sanada in Kimi ni Todoke). Though Caren is officially voiced by Ami Koshimizu in Fate/tiger colosseum, I tend to hear Eri Kitamura (Ami Kawashima in Toradora!, Sayaka Miki in Madoka Magica, Saya Otonashi in Blood+) for some reason.

Yes, I am enough of a seiyuu geek to recall that off the top of my head. Just imagine: for my own original literary work, I even have it in my head what I would suggest if my books were, for some impossible reason, turned into an anime. My body is made of trivia. Seiyuu is in my blood and unimportant factoids make my heart.

Escaping Fate
Chapter 8
Shores of a Distant Land

I had to remind Yumi to focus on her schoolwork and not mage arts; the orphanage she had grown up in had left her with a spotty academic history and I wanted to make sure she could handle everyday life if she decided to forego the magical. Though I had a feeling that wouldn’t happen, if nothing else than Tohsaka and I being a bad influence.

As the days ticked on I kept an eye out on the news, watching for any signs that a possible undead was stalking the city and feeding on its population. Meanwhile, Yumi and I settled into a new routine, dedicating one hour to tinkering with her magic as she experimented with showing me what she could do.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQ8YsmA17bU)

Admittedly after just under a week of observing her abilities, I had to admire her talent. Though she had no particular abilities outside of Alteration in the same way I had none outside of Reinforcement and Projection, it was apparent she had a significantly larger well to draw from. I could only manage a handful of blades or a dozen Reinforcements before tiring; Yumi had yet to even reach a threshold. She had apparently been wearing some kind of magical limiter her arm under her sleeve that helped regulate the amount of prana flowing through her body at any one time, otherwise it overwhelmed her.

It must be nice to have excess energy to spare, instead of groping for every tiny bit from every corner of my body.

Yumi’s abilities were providing immediate results. After a few tests, I felt comfortable allowing her to try Alteration on some Traced weapons, and it was readily apparent that the theories behind my magic were correct: what I did resembled Projection, but wasn’t actual Projection at all. If I actually had Projection magic, the items I created were essentially transmuted air, given shape by my prana. As such, no other magus should be able to pour any kind of their own spellwork into it without the spell breaking, since the object was made out of my od.

But Yumi was successful, and we had tried a variety of weapons.

The theory, of course, was that with a Reality Marble, everything was within my own soul. If I could deploy the spell, reality itself would warp to reflect what was within me; it wasn’t a matter of prana being used to create weapons, but prana being used to create the world with weapons in it. The weapons themselves were just concepts within my mind, and in Tracing them, I was merely transporting them from within my world to the physical world. So, in essence, she was able to use Alteration on them as if they were untouched by another magus’ hands. In fact, that might be how I managed to Reinforce Kanshou and Bakuya myself, since doing two separate magics—Projection and then Reinforcement—on a single object should be either difficult if not downright impossible for me.

BGM off

I phoned Tohsaka about the whole situation as well, and after the ringing in my ears cleared we decided to sit everyone down and talk about it once she was back. She grumbled over having to bring additional equipment and how much of a pain it would be to clear customs with it—I didn’t ask—and surprised both at Yumi’s apparent talent and that Sakura would have so clearly gone behind our backs on helping Yumi out. Though with the latter issue, I had the sneaking suspicion that Tohsaka seemed happy rather than upset.

To that, I had to agree. Anytime Sakura showed initiative, I felt I had to support her. Even if it was initiative that might make things complicated.

“Just make sure neither of them feel like they have to join in on this Dead Apostle hunt,” Tohsaka had said. “I’m not sure even I want to get involved with it. No way should they even consider it.”

Tohsaka then arranged a return flight the day before the full moon so we could prepare for a potential attack.



Yumi had spent the weekend and first day of her Golden Week break getting all of her homework done and out of the way so neither Sakura nor I had the ability to complain that she should be concentrating on her normal life. Afterward, she had spent most of Tuesday testing various items and the sometimes bizarre effects she could give them, like making a hubcap to a tire fly through the air completely unaerodynamically or making a solid wooden sword bend like rubber. Upon this discovery, she decided she wanted to try that with a sword, and really, swinging a claymore with the tensile traits of a wet noodle really was something to behold. By the time Tohsaka was due home that evening*, we had any number of absolutely hilarious things to show her and earn that look of complete bafflement at what we were doing.

Yeah, I should probably have been trying harder on the Reality Marble. Although it really seemed like no matter what I did, I was years away from having the control necessary to deploy it. The fact that I now had it cemented in my mind that what I was doing had little to do with Projection, though, had helped, and already I was producing weapons more efficiently. I could probably handle two dozen now, if I was completely in the zone.

I braved town earlier that afternoon to get some extra food for dinner; I assumed that Tohsaka would be hungry when she returned home and probably didn’t want to deal with any crowds with the things she was bringing here. I decided on unagi since I’m sure she was tired of Western fare and would go for something purely Japanese.

Sakura got home early—her work was doing half-days for the holiday—and was apparently determined to help with dinner, so we compromised that I would get everything cut and prepared while she would do the actual cooking and serving.

“It’s after seven. Shouldn’t she have landed a while ago?” Yumi asked from the living room, watching the latest Juuken Sentai Gekiranger she had recorded. She really did love television, probably stemming from not having one in her time at the orphanage.

“I’m guessing the trains from the airport to Fuyuki are swamped. I’d honestly be surprised if she made it home before eight,” I said, fighting with the eel. It was sometimes quite difficult to slice just right.

Sakura was washing her hands, getting ready to take over. “If you need a snack, I can bring you some mandarin oranges,” she offered.

Yumi shook her head, apparently unwilling to turn away from the show. “Just wondering. Taiga said she was going to come by later to double-check my homework, though if dinner is going to be so late…” She drifted off and I grinned. There would be no homework check, just food mooching, and Yumi seemed to know it. I wonder if it really would have been better sometimes for Yumi to have been adopted elsewhere; the lack of responsible adults she had as role-models was probably going to doom her post-school career. And I’m including myself and Tohsaka in that count, since Sakura was the only one with an actual job, after all.

After cutting the eel and checking to make sure the sauce it was to be grilled with was just right, I handed the kitchen over to Sakura, hung my apron aside, and took a seat next to Yumi.

“Please don’t tell me you’re getting ideas from this,” I said.

Yumi grinned, that same Tohsaka-esque expression. I’m beginning to wonder if Archer’s sneer evolved out of too much time spent with Tohsaka in his actual life.

Well, I’d just have to hope I didn’t start doing it too.

We sat watching the show for a while, one of the sentai heroes apparently learning to use a hammer in battle and conversely discover that one had to enjoy themselves to fight at full potential**. I glanced at Yumi as the battle started to escalate, and not for the first time hoped that she, in fact, took something away from her attachment to these shows.

The world isn’t as terrible as you’ve experienced…

The boundary field surrounding the house clattered in alarm, and the power went out, sending the house into the faint illumination of the moonlit evening.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoCmZgK02nw)

“Senpai!” Sakura was out of the kitchen in a hurry, and I jumped to my feet. I could recall the last time I heard that noise, and it was not a pleasant memory.

Yumi was looking around too, though she had yet to rise. Instead, she said, “What is that noise?”

“A spell that alerts us to danger,” I explained, grabbing underneath her arms and hauling her up from her seat.

“No,” Yumi said, looking even more confused. “I mean, listen carefully.”

Both Sakura and I froze in place, trying to listen for whatever it was Yumi was talking about. And after shunting out my own beating heart, I could hear it:

Moaning.

I could not help but think of the last time the field was activated and the bone-clattering that had followed when Caster had sent her golems in for an attack. This time, instead of golems, I had a feeling I understood what it was that surrounded us in a disturbingly similar fashion.

If I ever could convince someone that my life was in fact real, I would now get to explain that on top of falling in love with an ancient reverse-gendered British King, surviving a stabbing from the Hound of Ulster, fighting the greatest of Greek Heroes, and stopping an evil priest bent on unleashing literal hell on our city, I had faced a zombie apocalypse.

“Get into the shed and close the door,” I said, looking to Sakura. “Everything else is way too exposed.”



Once again, she did not know what she was supposed to feel.

Excitement. Fear. Determination. Unease. Anger.

Sakura took her by the hand and was running before she could process it all. Out of the living room, past the deck, out into the yard.

Between us and the shed, a figure.

It was human, but not. It had human shape, stood like a human, wore clothing and everything. But its eyes were glassy, its movements animalistic, its presence…full of death.

She did not even think about it. With the same command she had perfected over these weeks, she loosed her blouse ribbon and flung it at the not-human.

The ribbon struck right at neck level. It continued right past the figure without stopping, and in its wake left a gash suited to a razor-sharp knife.
And as the not-human creature flinched, Sakura brought her leg up, skirt and all, and kicked.

The lack of musculature connection at the wound caused the creature’s head to fly right off.

Sakura pulled Yumi past the body into the shed, though instead of closing the door, they both looked out, watching.

The yard was now starting to crowd with more not-humans, and Shirou came out after a moment, bow in hand. He ignored the figures starting to surround him, however, ducking past swinging arms and body-checking them if they closed in on him, his attention focused to something out of sight from the shed.

BGM off



This time, I was ready.

The bow I traced was reminiscent of the bow I had shot at Berserker with. Though improvised at the time, it was still better than the practice bow Sakura had used for Archery Club and was generally better suited for shooting my peculiar ammunition. I had Traced it some time ago and Yumi had gone about Altering it, giving it some form of metallic durability it never had in reality. It was like the magical equivalent to the carbon fibers and laminate that modern bows used compared to the wood of ancient times.

Tracing the end result of what Yumi had done resulted in a bow closer to what Archer had used.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJzxDq7m8Gw)

Curtana was in hand almost in the same moment, already narrowed and significantly lengthened for firing. The undead swarming me were of no consequence; I was a good shot.

The target stood on the deck between the house and guest house, figures weaving between us. I sidestepped a charging living dead, saw my chance, and let fly.

My target disappeared.

That wasn’t quite right—he was in sight again almost instantly, but a good six meters to the left. It did look like he had disappeared, like watching right down the starting line of an Olympic sprint and refusing to track the runners’ progress beyond the initial take-off.

BGM off

“…Damn.”

Estimating the speed from the vampire earlier, I had thought that any difference between master and sired would be offset by shooting the Phantasm from a bow. But I was wrong, and this Dead Apostle was the real thing: a being truly taken to the ends of human reflexes and skill.

This guy, whoever he was, started casually walking my way, as if to mock me.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTcPaBt_pFA)

Fine. Mock away. I’ve still got a few things up my sleeve.

“Trace, on!”

If a shot holy sword was not going to work, then I would have to try something completely different.

All I had to do was get close enough.

I did what I could to Reinforce my legs, charging across the yard as fast as I could, zigzagging past the dead this monster had brought as meat shields. The Dead Apostle regarded me carefully, though he halted his own movement. He steadied his stance and I thought he could probably avoid anything I swung at him and would blow me apart with the counterattack while I was still suffering tunnel-vision from the charge.

He could avoid anything I swung at him.

So I would have to thrust instead.

No sword appeared in my free hand, and when I was within a sure range, I flung myself headlong into the fastest, hardest center-mass thrust I could manage.

“Gaé Bolg!”

Causality reversed: the spear caught him through the heart first, and my spear thrust went second. Arrogant as he was, the Dead Apostle merely “dodged” to the right into the blind spot over my shoulder.

“Guh!” the Dead Apostle grunted.

I managed a tight smile—

And then the Dead Apostle grabbed the spear, lifted it, and before I could let go, pulled it out and flung me across the entire yard.

Twisting in midair, I tried to take the impact on my Reinforced legs as I crashed into the dojo wall. I hit hips first, shoulders second, probably throwing my spine completely out of alignment but lessening the impact to my upper body and head enough that I only wanted to throw up instead of roll over and die.

When I hacked out a cough, it felt like I was spitting broken ribs out along with the rest of the air in my lungs.

“Do not think, little magus, that your faker weapons are enough to kill me,” the Dead Apostle said in a pompous voice with only the faintest hint of an accent. “While your presence certainly was a surprise when I first observed this city, it is comparable to the presence of an irritating bug one does not expect to buzz in one’s face.”

So, maybe I was wrong. Maybe villains do like to talk long and eloquently, and the vampire we killed earlier was the exception.

“I am the Knave of the Ancestors, one who serves many of the Apostle Ancestors directly. Know that even the Hound of Ulster Cú Chulainn’s spear is useless against Dmitri Alkaev!” He raised his arms like crucified, and even from across the yard I could see the wound over his heart healing. “The Servant of a magus has nothing on the servant of the oldest beasts of the world!”

Or villains were contractually obligated to be giant hams.

The good thing was it gave me a moment to catch my breath and collect my thoughts. Gaé Bolg hadn’t worked, though it had pierced his heart. Tohsaka had told me that destroying Dead Apostles was not unlike killing humans, as they technically functioned on similar rules, but this one apparently was different.

I glanced up at the evening sky; the moon was up, nearly full. Maybe his strength was still enhanced by near-full moons and normally it would have worked.

Knave of the Ancestors…

A knave was comparable to the Jack in a deck of cards, a court servant to royalty. The Dead Apostle Ancestors were essentially vampire royalty. If he was what he claimed, I suppose he would be stronger than average, probably gunning for a position in their ranks himself…

Two of the living dead charged, and I stumbled to try and get up.

“Shirou, down!”

Tohsaka’s voice cut through the haze of pain and I hit the ground just as a wave of her Gandr shots smashed into the undead from behind. The both of them groaned, crashed into the same wall I hit, and I rolled forward to avoid being buried under them.

The Dead Apostle stopped and turned in a way that reminded me like a wind-up toy, over-dramatizing like he were part of some kind of melodrama.

BGM off

Tohsaka stood on the perimeter wall in almost the same exact place Gilgamesh had once upon a time, holding jewels between her knuckles and staring down the Dead Apostle.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1c1UXyYiTI)

Climbing to my feet, I glanced about to check the rest of the living dead, but all of them also had their attention on Tohsaka. Their ambient moans grew in pitch and turned disturbingly desperate, a little like…

Must not think about it.

“Rin Tohsaka,” the Dead Apostle said, his own voice taking on a different tone. “I am disappointed. I had intended to kill everyone here before you returned, so you would have a welcoming gift. It seems I underestimated the transit crowds today.”

“What do you want?” Tohsaka asked.

If he was going to kill us here, I hoped to every god I knew that he wasn’t going to quote a movie right now.

“Honestly? Just to see what you were hiding here,” the Dead Apostle replied. He took a pose that melodramatically told anyone looking that he was thinking, one arm crossed and the other bent at the elbow and stroking his chin in consideration. “It is said that you won the Holy Grail War between magi and my child, the one you so unceremoniously slaughtered, detected a great presence here. I wanted it.”

BGM off



Though they had closed the shed door, they had cracked the window open and were watching from within.

And what the attacker said…

Somehow felt ominous to Yumi.



Never let anyone call me unpractical.

While the Dead Apostle’s attention was on Tohsaka, I readied my bow and started Tracing again. I slowly crept to my left to get a better shot on him. If I could get him maneuvered into just the right spot, I might manage to corner him.

Like an expert card shark, Tohsaka never once gave me any kind of attention. She continued to address the Dead Apostle. “I don’t know where you got your information, but I wasn’t the winner of the Grail, nor was any kind of wish made.”

“You cannot hide it, young one. I can smell it with you even now.”

There. His back was still turned, and that would give me the time I needed.

BMG on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YsIXMMmZX8)

“The celestial court sends this mandate of rule.”

What formed looked more like an oversized Kanshou, long and curved, though the pommel had jade inlay. I nocked the blade and it narrowed and straightened, ready to fire, and I took a deep breath. I’d never used this weapon before, though I understood its history. This was either going to work perfectly, or I was going to literally eat my own words—

“Thuân Thiên!”

By the time the aria was complete, the Dead Apostle had glanced back at me and was smirking. If he’s dodged the first, there’s no reason to think he can’t dodge the next.

There really was no reason to doubt, as this Dmitri guy proved. He sidestepped the shot just as he had Curtana, grinned my way, and turned back to Tohsaka.

That might have saved his un-life.

Thuân Thiên was not unlike a Vietnamese sword-in-the-stone, but that wasn’t why I thought of it. The anecdote of the story centered around the fisherman who found it tossing the blade back out into the sea, only to have it return to him three times.

Dmitri turned to face Tohsaka, and barely had time to see the blade flying right back at him. Faster than I had seen even Saber move, the vampire jerked aside.

Not fast enough.

The sword cut him right across the face, from the bridge of the nose right beneath his eye and all the way to his ear, and then came flying back my way. It halted right before me, ready to be taken, and I grabbed and nocked it once more.

“You!” the Dead Apostle screamed, his attention fully on me now.

Bad idea.

Tohsaka’s jewels went his way, her German chant drowned out by the groaning of the living dead around us. Fire exploded in the Dead Apostle’s place, though I didn’t wait to see whether that was enough to even incapacitate him.

I shot Thuân Thiên again, Traced a new blade the color of obsidian, and used it to cut down a charging living dead before moving to a different position.

“Go into the red plains, scarlet hound.”

The black blade twisted, elongated, started to shake as if alive. As if the bow were only a secondary matter, it shot much faster than the poundage on my weapon would ever manage and darted at the smoke cloud.

Finally, he started treating us like a danger. There was a billow of smoke that flew out from the center of the blast, leaping up at the perimeter wall in Tohsaka’s direction and completely avoiding Thuân Thiên. From what I could see, it looked like a great deal of his face had been burnt, confounded by the initial cut I made.

Tohsaka had already leapt clear, running in the direction of the house and Gandr spelling the undead in her way.

Hrunting curved up toward the Dead Apostle, who had turned to chase after Tohsaka but had his attention on the magical ammunition tracking him. With half his face partially ripped right off, the snarl he shot my way looked monstrous.

With a leap like a cat, Dmitri avoided Hrunting by tumbling through the air, the sword-arrow flying past and arcing up toward the evening sky. Upon landing, he made another, stronger leap and completely cleared the distance between himself and Tohsaka, landing on the edge of the roof of the house right above where she was skidding to make a change of direction.

“I—what?!” he cried.

Hrunting had completely circled around and was charging right after the Dead Apostle once again, like a rabid animal determined to catch its prey. At the same time, Thuân Thiên had returned once more to me, and I readied the blade for another shot.

Tohsaka dove back out into the middle of the yard, hitting the ground and rolling along the ground hard. Yet another jewel went flying from her hand, one I recognized the magical signature to, and though much further from the vampire this time, he was so preoccupied with Hrunting, he merely raised an arm to block.

Ice formed around his limb in the exact same way it had formed around Berserker’s limb and arm.

The vampire roared, used the extra weight on his arm to pull himself down to avoid the next Hrunting drive, and hit the ground. I let loose Thuân Thiên, and he immediately inverted and leapt back up to avoid both shots—

He hit the lip of the rooftop, and like a trapeze artist, used it to fling himself back.

Toward Tohsaka.

Damn.

Tohsaka made it up to a crouch, but even with Reinforcement, this guy was going to be faster. Hrunting was going to take another moment to circle around—

I moved laterally to their position. If I could box the thing in with Hrunting flying at it from the right angle—

Tohsaka seemed to realize her predicament, and, trusting me to do my part, moved parallel to me but in the opposite direction to give me a clear shot.

I had to hurry. This guy moved like a bullet and it was going to get to Tohsaka if I didn’t do something now—

I had to discard tactics. Specialized swords weren’t working. I needed something better than what I had already used, just better.

The Dead Apostle hit the ground running, literally running, and was already almost on top of Tohsaka.

I’ve done this before. I can do it faster—

“Her will sought eternity and found hope…”

Hrunting started to circle back around, but even it would not be fast enough: the Dead Apostle would reach Tohsaka before the next strike reached it. That was fine, that was within the scope, I just needed him at the right angle—

“Its fate was promised victory…”

Gold formed in my hand, a blade of perfect shape. It was the most beautiful of anything I could make, the kind of thing a sculptor dreams of, a painter imagines, a storyteller describes.

But never once lays eyes on.

It nocked my bowstring, flashed from the elegant shape of blade and guard and grip and pommel to something like an arrow.

“Imitation sword of the ruler—”

Tohsaka hit the ground, clearing my line of sight completely. The Dead Apostle had almost straddled her already, this was going to be so close. “Cancel your seeking arr—” he started, reaching for her throat.

Knave of the Ancestors, I’ll see your bet and raise you a King.

“Caliburn!”



There.

There before her, she saw something.

Something she understood intrinsically, something she knew the others could not perceive. Or if they could perceive it, the perception was different somehow, like the difference between a foreign language student and a native speaker.

The blade Shirou made.

It had more.

Certainly, it looked more elegant than the curved scimitar, or the thorny broadsword, or anything else Yumi had seen Shirou create. It seemed to glow with an inner light as well, almost tangible, though no actual glow could be seen. It was like a glow from the heart.

But that wasn’t all.

It had…

Addition.

Yumi could see the Addition there, even if it was non-magical in nature. There was just something more to it, something she knew Shirou would not replicate in the production of the other weapons he used.

She thought…

That Addition…

There was a sense of perfection from it. Aspiration. Dedication. Love. Yumi thought, for the first time, she had something physical to represent what she felt within Shirou when she looked at him. Though she thought of Rin as two people and Sakura as three, Shirou was not…

Not there.

And in his place, she felt, for the first time, something like him was finally there, making the world, her world, complete.

It wasn’t him, but…it was close.

Paradoxically.

He wasn’t justice itself, but an ally of justice…

He wasn’t the blade itself, but its ally…

And it made up every part of him.

BMG off



“I c-can’t…”

The Dead Apostle wasn’t dead, but it certainly wasn’t alive, either.

It looked both pretty and pretty horrific. Caliburn had embedded itself right into the man’s neck and had reformed into the original shape of a sword. This Dmitri had taken it by the grip and was attempting to pull it out, but…

Even if I embedded Caliburn into something, I would never be able to pull it out either.

No living person could. Nor un-living, I suppose.

The vampire looked like he was in so much pain he wanted to scratch his own throat out, but at the same time so absolutely staggered by the pain that he could do nothing but pathetically grip the weapon in shock. He had not even seemed to notice that Hrunting had skewered him from behind.

Caliburn was a holy weapon, after all, and probably had enough of the properties of a conceptual weapon meant to harm undead like him that it was more painful than—

Well, not that I’ve ever had my throat and spine pierced by a sword.

Tohsaka had crawled out from beneath the creature and I glanced around. The living dead around us were screaming in agony as well, reflecting whatever psychic link they had with their sire. I moved to the closest ones and, with the once-again-returned Thuân Thiên, started beheading them.

When I had finished clearing them out, Yumi and Sakura had come out from the shed and had joined Tohsaka in looking the Dead Apostle over, though Sakura had tried to ward Yumi from the sight. The vampire, though, writhed in place, hunched over, hands still grasping Caliburn, ignorant of everything else.

“Why isn’t he dying?” Yumi asked.

…Something about that statement really sounded wrong coming from her. I suppose, even though Illya might have said something similarly callous, I had never gotten used to that either.

“The older something is, the longer its life takes to unravel,” Tohsaka said absently, as if expecting this. “And I’m not sure I can destroy the body myself, this time. We might seriously have to think about leaving him like this until the sun comes out.”

I felt my eyebrow twitch, and though it pained me, said, “No, we should call Caren. She’s probably appreciate it, even.”

Sakura nodded. “Oh, right. Um, I’ll go do that.”

Something completely inane in me thought of more mundane tasks. “You should actually go check food. It’s probably done by now. I’ll call her.”

All three girls stared at me.

“What? Perfectly good food like that shouldn’t go to waste!”

…It would probably help to de-Trace the bloody sword in my hand before talking about food.



BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eS3UdH9GrZ4)

Yumi really did not pay attention much after that. She was aware that Caren Ortensia and others came to help dispose of the Dead Apostle. She was vaguely reminded to eat shortly afterward when Taiga showed up and the four of them had to pretend nothing was amiss and make light over Rin’s return home. She only mechanically went through the nightly rituals of bathing and readying for bed, as everyone turned in early citing tiredness. She did remember that Shirou had teased Taiga over getting out of helping with homework like promised.

She had her thoughts only on that sword.

The sword that was both Shirou’s sword, and not his sword. That was Shirou, but not him.

The fact that, now with the sword gone and dissipated like all of Shirou’s other weapons, the world somehow felt…

Like it was missing something.

Missing Shirou, or a part of him.

Before she realized it, she was dreaming.

She had this dream sometimes before. Of shores, of the surf pounding away at earth, of the wash of water up a coast, depositing sand, washing out, and repeating the process.

An endless shoreline, with an endless tide.

Wash, add, wash, add.

Yumi understood, somehow, this was hers. This dream. It made sense, after all. She added things to the world, like the sea added to the shoreline. She had seen many shorelines as a child, traveling, and she thought maybe the beaches of her dreams were composed of every land she had ever seen.

Tonight, though, she saw a new one.

A new addition.

One she had never seen before.

One that, with its addition, she felt, completed her world. Completed that endless shoreline.

A shore, with lands beyond…

Green fields, blue skies—

And an eternal sunrise…

BGM off


Escaping Fate, Shores of a Distant Land, End

*I’m fudging a little bit, as the full moons of 2007 would not fall on the exact dates we’re working with. The previous full moon when they fought the vampire would have been just before Yumi started school, not the weekend following. This full moon is right on, though, as it fell on Wednesday of Golden Week. Oh well. And for the uninitiated, Golden Week is a series of consecutive national holidays in Japan that are so close together schools and some businesses just close down for the entire week.

**Episode 11, which aired on Showa Day at the start of Golden Week. Yes, I’m an obsessive fact-checker. Shut up.

Arashi_Leonhart
July 14th, 2011, 10:37 PM
I'll post the rest later...I've stared at text too much today and my eyes are tired.

Alulim
July 14th, 2011, 10:44 PM
I know the feeling.

Neir
July 15th, 2011, 12:51 AM
I've been reading this on ff.net... and I love it.

DreamsRequiem
July 15th, 2011, 01:12 AM
Just so you know, I recommended this story since chapter one. :3

Arashi_Leonhart
July 15th, 2011, 03:28 AM
Just so you know, I recommended this story since chapter one. :3

That's...actually kinda scary. I'd never recommend anything by chapter one...gotta know if they can handle releasing it. I've got too many stories saved on my computer of people who only got out of the gate that I loved and wanted more but will never have and now I've made myself sad just thinking about it ;_;

Arashi_Leonhart
July 15th, 2011, 03:45 AM
Escaping Fate
Chapter 9
Unlimited Blades, Endless Addition

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqfoAkh1xuA)

I did not sleep well that night.

It had little to do with the undead and their demise. Cutting them down had been sickening, but their second deaths were nothing more than returning the world to its natural state. Tohsaka had pointed out that they were bereft of human souls and destroying them was no longer an affront to humanity. Even I could sense that in them, though, looking at them still reminded me that they were once truly human.

The gruesome death of the Dead Apostle also had nothing to do with it. Dead Apostles were somewhat like Servants in that they no longer existed as humans. Though I felt like I had to respect what they once were, a Dead Apostle no longer resembled who they were as a mortal. That was unlike a Servant, and again, while watching him grope around and try to pull a sword out of his throat was disturbing, in the end it was all I could do to return something to what was natural.

It wasn’t even letting Yumi and Sakura see what had happened, though that was perhaps the most upsetting out of it. The both of them had very disturbing things happen to them in the past, but it was on the receiving end, not the observer’s end. I’m pretty sure that even a victim of domestic violence would be appalled to see another suffer the exact same fate. What’s more, Yumi seemed to take it all in with an expression that seemed too clinical even to me. It…well, reminded me of him. Facing down Berserker, knowing death was imminent, and yet still capable of watching everything with an objective eye. I could only be glad she never once looked ready to crack a joke.

No, it was how much it took to get the Dead Apostle.

The Dead Apostle was with abilities taken to human extreme. Though he had experience and practice, everything he did was within the scope of an extremely experienced and practiced human being. He wasn’t like a Servant, with power that becomes legend and with abilities enhanced by the status as a praised being.

Though the numbers of weapons I’d Traced were even fewer than the fight with the vampire last month, this had still managed to take a lot out of me. Gaé Bolg was not a sword and, though familiar enough, it was both more tiresome to generate and required additional prana to use its abilities. Hrunting, though a sword, felt like a greater strain on my mind, possibly because I was no berserker-esque fighter like the original user Beowulf was.

Caliburn was easy, but…

Maybe it was difficult for a different reason.

Even if I was exhausted and my back hurt like, well, I had been thrown into a building, my mind would not shut down. I kept reviewing the fight in my mind, kept thinking about how I could have done better, could have managed uninjured, could have done it all without Tohsaka nearly getting her head twisted off. I thought about how Archer had apparently depleted Berserker’s God Hand multiple times himself, and compared that to how much it had taken me to stop a Dead Apostle even once.

I still had a long way to go.

Sleep came in fits, always circling around these facts, and coming back to one question:

Even with the hard work, with perfect aim…would I ever reach her?

BGM off



Because of my inability to sleep, I ended up heading to the kitchen before Sakura was awake. The thing, though, upon reaching the living room was that Tohsaka was already up, tea already made and in hand.

“Morning,” I said, surprised. “I didn’t expect you to be up.”

“Jetlag,” Tohsaka said.

She was otherwise silent as I went about starting breakfast, staring off at nothing while I got the rice started and getting some omelets prepared. When I settled down across from her at the table with my own cup of tea while I waited for the rice to steam, she didn’t seem to take any notice.

Sakura was up and greeted us just as I got back up to start cooking everything and she too seemed a little distant, not even offering to take over the kitchen duties as was her habit. Not that I minded, but, it was a little odd.

By the time Yumi was up, I had already finished setting the table. Yumi, too, looked at Tohsaka and Sakura, confusion evident, possibly picking up on the weird vibe that was in the air. “What’s going on?” she asked.

When her eyes turned to me, I shrugged, then jabbed Tohsaka with my elbow. The witch hardly seemed to register it, though she slowly turned to look at me. “Okay,” I said, “You’re creeping me out too. What’s wrong?”

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJhC70dPN2Y)

Tohsaka blinked at me, then sighed. “Just…well, thinking about what that guy said last night. Something isn’t really adding up.”

I glanced over my shoulder in the direction of the yard, though there was nothing left there besides some burnt grass where Tohsaka’s spell had exploded. Caren Ortensia had visited quickly after the battle and, one by one, had carted off with the bodies of the zombie-like living dead that had accompanied the Dead Apostle. She took that Dmitri guy last, swords and all, praying all the while, as the guy helplessly clawed at Caliburn’s intrusion. How she managed it all before Fuji-nee had come was something of a miracle, as I don’t think the truck Caren had brought was even around the corner when Fuji-nee burst through the genkan.

“Like the fact that he talked way too much for someone who should know better?” I asked.

Tohsaka’s flat eyes and are-you-really-that-dumb eyebrow convergence was the response I got.

Well, geez, get some sleep if you’re going to be crabby after one joke.

“No, I mean the part where he mentioned the Holy Grail and that I had ‘it’ with me. He implied that it was the prize from the war.” Tohsaka absently poked at her omelet. “He said he could sense its presence here.”

“Oh, yes, the ‘prize.’ I’m sure I kept a pocket-full of All the Evils of the World and stored it in the refrigerator.” I shook my head. “Kotomine said that it was pure power and malice wrapped into one, and I’d imagine a Dead Apostle can intuit that feeling, but still here? It isn’t even present at Ryuudou Temple any longer.”

Tohsaka gave a nearly imperceptible tilt of the head to acknowledge that, but it was Sakura who spoke up. “I don’t really know what senpai and nee-san are talking about, but, I could make out a connection between the Dead Apostle and here.”

I decided I would not even try to attempt any tea anytime soon. It just seemed like one of those kind of days when the moment I put any liquid in my mouth, I might just spit it all back up. “You what?” Even Tohsaka looked surprised, as well as a little wary.

“Um.” Sakura sighed. “Well, it wasn’t anything magical. Just…uh, attitude, I suppose?”

“I don’t understand,” I said.

Sakura nodded. “I know, which is absolutely a good thing.” She gave a little smile, but it was offset by the droop of her eyebrows in a way that made her look very much like her sister when Tohsaka was apologetic. On the rare occasion, anyway. “But the way he moved, his posture, it reminded me of…him. As the Grail War came closer and closer.”

I felt my hand twitch. Specifically the fingers I used for bow-drawing.

That bastard.

When Tohsaka had finally pulled the whole story out of Sakura, of what had happened in the years since they had been separated…

The Matou mansion had inexplicably experienced an explosion that blasted a hole from their basement all the way up to street level.

The first time I had tried a Broken Phantasm.

“So he reminded you of Zouken Matou,” Tohsaka said, more aloud than to her sister. I think she was trying to use that frame of reference to put the pieces together in her head and see what came out. “Illya said once that Zouken had been there from the beginning, somehow preserving his life, and that he had lost his way with the Grail. That he couldn’t even remember the initial reason he wanted to use it and had just been consumed with the idea of gaining it.”

I remembered that as well. Illya had come with me when I had gone to pick a fight with Zouken; the Broken Phantasm I’d used hadn’t actually killed him, according to her, but she said that he was cowed. I gathered it had nothing to do with me, but Illya had never explained further. I’m not even sure what happened after that, really, because I had been so angry all I could do was storm right back out of the house and hope to god that someone else was going to explain how a five meter-diameter hole had shown up right outside the Matou estate’s main gate.

Pushing the memory aside, I considered what Tohsaka just said. The Dead Apostle had been prideful and superbly confident, but I hadn’t noticed anything like what they were describing. And I didn’t know Zouken Matou well enough to compare the brief moment I had with him. I would just have to assume and trust that they knew what they were talking about. “So he was just intuitively drawn here by something. Still doesn’t give us any real clues, because none of us keep magical artifacts here.” I paused, a new thought coming. “Although maybe I should double-check Illya’s grave and make sure it hasn’t been disturbed. If there was any residual presence of the Grail…”

Tohsaka smacked her forehead. “I never would have thought of that. Maybe you should go do that now, Shirou, while it’s still early.”

I nodded, already on my feet. “Be back in a bit, then.”

BGM off



While Shirou was out, she had to ask: “What was this Grail that man mentioned and you keep talking about?”

Rin looked a little abashed, like she had completely forgotten that Yumi was even at the table. “A…magical device. It was believed to grant wishes, but from everything Shirou said, it was nothing more than a weapon.”

“Shirou was the only one to see it?”

Rin nodded. “Anyway, it was highly evil. And Shirou destroyed it.”

“Where?”

“Ryuudou Temple,” Rin said, shrugging. “Nothing is left up there, though.”



When I made it back home, Sakura had cleared the table except for my own untouched meal. Yumi was right back to watching television, and I was thankful that the events of the night had not changed that kind of habit. I settled back down and started in on my food in earnest. “Nothing, though. It was still there.”

Tohsaka sighed. “Well, not that I wanted someone grave digging, but it might have given us a lead or something. Oh well. No point in worrying, I guess.”

I nodded and accepted fresh tea that Sakura had prepared for me.

“So, then, what is this about Yumi learning magic?”

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcQ9BTp23-0)

I coughed in an attempt to not choke when the tea went down the wrong way. Thanks, Tohsaka, and I had managed to convince myself it was safe to go ahead and drink.

“Just little things,” Sakura explained. “So far she has only demonstrated a slight skill in it, not anywhere even near senpai.”

Tohsaka glanced over at where Yumi sat watching television. It was readily apparent the girl could hear everything, though she seemed content to let us do the arguing for her while she watched a penalty game show. The laughter on the screen managed to offset the glare Tohsaka was giving us just enough that it diffused whatever tension came with it.

Hmm, I wonder if the show choice was on purpose.

“Still, dangerous,” Tohsaka said. “You said she performed it last night?”

I nodded. “In a rather clever way. I think I’m just a little too straightforward a thinker to have utilized magic in that sort of fashion.” I’m not really sure why I felt like praising her, though it might be another attempt to offset the more practical reasoning: magic was just a dangerous prospect for anyone to pick up. And Yumi already had enough done to her.

“Besides,” Sakura said, “in this family, what else is she going to do? She felt the connection, watches nee-san and senpai practice with their magic, and because of what has happened before…shouldn’t she be able to make the choice?”

Tohsaka looked ready to devolve into a rant, but the determined look on Sakura’s face seemed to ward her. When it came to it, I think Tohsaka’s thoughts paralleled mine: Sakura just intuitively understood Yumi much better than either of us for obvious reasons. It seemed like this was an attempt to empower a victim, which was not really something I quite comprehended from an outside perspective and Tohsaka, while she could sympathize, couldn’t quite draw on personal experience.

The elder sister sighed, leaning her elbows on the table, chin in her hands, and looked away. It was just about as close to a pout as Tohsaka ever got. “I guess there is something to it. Her prana flow does seem more regulated and safer. She even seems a little more focused.”

Sakura: 1, Tohsaka: 0.

Tohsaka whipped her hair over her shoulder and turned a glare my way. “But next time, you don’t drop a bomb on me like this. We discuss it first; no more unilateral decisions to support whatever comes up.”

Tohsaka: 1, me: 0.

Why was I the subordinate to everyone in my own house?

BGM off



That night, once more, I returned to Ryuudou Temple.

The fight had given me some insight; watching Yumi do Alteration had given me more.

Magic was Equivalent Exchange. One cannot create something out of nothing, nor put into existence something that never was and never will be.

Projection, of course, was technically turning air into something else. But what I did wasn’t really even that, else Yumi would never have been able to manipulate what I did.

Alteration, on the other hand, was changing an item to gain attributes. But those attributes still had to be within the realm of possibility, or else magic would not be where it was right now. Tohsaka harked on the fact that magic was losing its place in the world because technology could replicate most of what modern magi did, and that the difference between modern magic and True Magic was that distinction. So, it follows that no matter what Yumi did, Alteration shouldn’t put completely different concepts onto items that absolutely change their intended purpose to something only limited by imagination.

I had thought before that the impossibility of deploying my internal world on top of this one was what was so difficult to overcome. But in reality, perhaps…

That was the answer.

It was impossible. Logically, it defied everything even modern magi were taught. It defied reality, it defied the rules, and because of it all, it was so exceedingly dangerous and considered off-limits.

So even if I was good at it, my body resisted it when I made those swords. Curtana, Thuân Thiên, Caladbolg, Hrunting, Kanshou and Bakuya…

Caliburn, though…

I hadn’t even ever seen Caliburn in reality. Just an image. A memory. One not even my own.

It didn’t even have anything to do with Avalon, either. As far as I understood, Saber had gained both Avalon and Excalibur after losing Caliburn, so, it wasn’t my body’s knowledge of that item in particular.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GbctgywNBg)

No.

It had to do with the one it belonged to.

Caliburn came so easy because—

You were my sheath…

I wasn’t a magus. I was too much of a failure to even be considered one. Even the most basic things had me beaten. This, though—

If it was my own world, it was not a world as a magus.

Paradoxically…

How does the magus with no magus abilities summon a power sometimes considered the greatest a magus could aspire to do?

Paradoxically…

How is a person with a mind full of swords a sheath to someone else?

I had to reconsider how I was going about this. Not as a magus, but…

Who I was. Who I had become.

Determined to reach her…

This place had been where I had perhaps, for the only time in my life, I had done so. As her equal. We had parted here, not Servant and Master, but…

A Heroic Spirit, proud of what her life had come to, and…

“I am the bone of my sword.”

Her ally.

BGM off


Escaping Fate, Unlimited Blades, Endless Addition, End


Omake

“And you, my son, what reason do you believe you have to pass through these gates and enter the pantheon of Heroic Spirits?” Saint Peter asked.

Shirou paused to consider. “Well, I survived being impaled by the Hound of Ulster. I saved my schoolmates from having their souls sucked out by the Gorgon Medusa. I fought my way out of All the Evils of the World to Falcon Punch an evil priest bent on world destruction. I fought the King of Heroes to a standstill with the very arsenal he tried to kill me with. I stole the weapon of Hercules and shot him with it. And I did it all while banging the founder of Camelot, my class idol, and childhood friend, two of them at the same time.”

“I do not think the latter is a reason to pass,” Saint Peter said.

“Are you kidding me? I don’t care about that, I’m telling everyone I can!”

Saint Peter sighed. “I will consider your application. Please wait in the foyer. Next!”

Shirou sighed, but did as he was told.

“And you, my son,” Saint Peter said to the next in line, “what reason do you believe you have to pass through these gates?”

“Well…” Shiki Tohno started.





Escaping Fate
Chapter 10
Change

We remained alert for weeks, wondering if anything would crop up after that, like more Dead Apostles coming to call. But it passed into the summer months with no further issues springing up—and by the end of June, it seemed like a fairly suicidal idea for a vampire to make any kind of move when they only had maybe six or seven hours of safe operational time before the sun rose.

Everything turned to heat and humidity for the season and I managed many a job repairing broken air conditioners and fans for the various people I knew. Sakura continued her secretarial work, Yumi switched to summer uniforms for school, and Tohsaka continued cracking the whip on my training when I wasn’t doing odd jobs.

It seemed as if life would continue as normal.

It didn’t, of course. Tohsaka constantly tried puzzling out the odd words the Dead Apostle had left behind, constantly referring to the materials she had drafted up in the wake of the Grail War for a clue. She examined me more than once for traces that Angra Mainyu might have left behind. Every once in a while, I would gather her for dinner to hear her cursing behind her bedroom door, a testament to how well she felt she was doing with the riddle.

Sakura seemed uneasy as well, though she certainly hid it better. She would speak of her work, of how annoying the latest computer software was or how Mitsuzuri would continue to tease her about her seriousness or any number of mundane things. It actually felt like she was deliberately leading the subject away, and now that I was aware of it, it was all I could do to keep from just smothering the girl with a hug. Before, when Sakura had come to the house and helped with chores, I had thought I understood why she avoided her abusive brother and lonely house. Now, all I wanted to do was kick myself in the teeth for thinking I understood. The way she would guide the conversation away was probably part and parcel to just how she thought and dealt with everything, smothering it away like I probably thought a hug would make her feel better.*

Not that things were ever that simple, of course, but it was a nice dream.



I was beginning to wonder if we shouldn’t have let Yumi continue exploring magecraft.

It wasn’t a large issue at first, and besides the continuation of what we had done before—little improvements to things I already had, or even silly effects that would never come up in battle but seemed funny at the time—she didn’t seem like she felt the necessity to try harder or delve much deeper.

Even so…

It started to affect her school life.

They were minor complaints at first. Fuji-nee said she was occasionally cited for not paying attention in class, which, well, I couldn’t exactly fault her for as I was not the most splendid student to grace high school either. Takumi Hoshino, the boy that Sakura had introduced to Yumi, had once mailed** Sakura with concerns that Yumi was being vocally critical to others in the Archery Club in a way that a first year was certainly not supposed to. That, once more, I couldn’t exactly fault her for, if she somehow had it in mind to compare what I was doing in battle to the ways kids goofed off in clubs sometimes, and to someone like Yumi who has stared at death, it might rub her the wrong way.

Then, on the second-to-last day of June, she returned home drenched head-to-toe on a completely sunny day.

As she had been due to bring home groceries for dinner that night, both Tohsaka and I went to greet her. She stood in the genkan, dripping wet, clutching her archery gear in one hand and a plastic bag in the other.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOLNWewy2K0)

“What happened?” Tohsaka asked.

“Girls from school,” Yumi said, handing me the groceries, and then replacing her shoes to their spot next to the door.

Tohsaka looked aghast at the statement as the girl brushed past us for her room, dripping on the floor all the while. I’m not sure Tohsaka had any concept of school bullying, though, since she was well-liked and none of the girls there would have dared raise a finger in her direction. Even boys…well, if Shinji were any indication, would have just ended up with a face full of knuckles.

After taking the groceries to the kitchen and putting them in the refrigerator, I first went to the bath and started to fill the tub***. When I returned to the hall, it was to find Tohsaka talking in front of Yumi’s room. “While you had your hands full?”

“So I couldn’t do anything in retaliation,” Yumi’s voice drifted clearly through the door. “And on a Friday, so I could not return the favor tomorrow at school.”

I could hazard a guess as to how that went down, and something in me felt a little disturbed by what she said. Not in the words themselves—Yumi always sounded distant and analytical about things—but in the tone behind them. Yumi was usually quiet enough that her voice would be difficult to hear through the door, but she actually sounded angry enough that it rose.

Before Tohsaka could respond, I said, “I’m starting a bath early so you can clean up. I’ll let you know when it’s ready.”

No response came.

I took motioned to Tohsaka and we retreated to the living room. “That both makes me a little happy and a little worried,” I said.

“What?” Tohsaka crossed her arms.

“Well, being emotional. Obviously bad that it’s a negative feeling, but, you could actually tell she was angry back there. Sometimes I have a hard time telling what she’s feeling at all.”

Tohsaka sighed. “Practically the opposite of Sakura, though similar in reasoning. She puts on a stoic mask while Sakura always tried to smile through everything.”

I nodded. I hoped Sakura would be home soon, because I had a feeling anything Yumi felt like commiserating would only be to Sakura. “It is worrisome, though, that she’d be emotional with classmates and not, you know, like that when we were attacked.”

“Yeah, I thought that odd too. Being frightened or angry after that fight would have been natural, but she just sat and calmly watched television the next day. Some girls at school pulling a mean prank seems…well, I’ve never seen her storm to her room like this, though, even if it was to change clothes.”

We resolved to keep a closer eye on her, especially if it looked like she might retaliate. Considering some of the bizarre things she could do, any retaliation might range from very little and hilarious to absolutely dangerous. With how warped her exposure to magecraft has been so far, that could cause a lot of problems, not just for Yumi, but for Tohsaka as well if the Magic Association caught wind of this.

BGM off



BGM on (http://youtu.be/duL_rekLOHA)

Yumi wasn’t sure, herself.

As she soaked in the bath, she tried sorting it all out. But what made her good at sorting out the myriad of feelings she often felt seemed to make her terrible at explaining or understanding one overwhelming feeling.

She was angry.

Beyond angry.

Over something completely pointless.

Even more than the flashes of emotions she had all at once, it seemed, though…

As if this weren’t even her own.

Not hers, nor belonging to the additions within her.

More like…

Like…

She just couldn’t explain it.

That…made her feel a variety of things. Fear, sadness, wonder, amusement, anger—

She frowned.

She felt anger at her anger.

She wished she didn’t feel this way. Something in her told her, though…

Her wish would be granted, and would not be granted at the same time.

BGM off



When Sakura made it home, Yumi had come out of the bath and changed clothes, though she still carried a storm cloud over her head****. Sakura tried once or twice to get her to open up, but all attempts were shot down with a very teenage “it’s nothing” or “I’m fine” sort of lines.

After dinner, she even declined to watch television.

That set off some alarm bells, I think, in everyone.



As had become my ritual, late at night, I made my way to Ryuudou Temple. Visits here had to be much shorter, though, considering the time of year, as dusk would not have set if I went too early and dawn would threaten to come if I visited too late.

Each time, I felt closer to it, to reaching what I needed, piece by piece, though still far from the finish line. It did not feel like I was standing in place any longer, though now was more like a crawl on my belly than a good clip on my feet.

Still, better than nothing.

Though…

My body is made of swords.

That made it kind of difficult to get up to a decent speed anyway.

I had this distant, unshakable thought, though…

If my body was made of swords, how else was I going to make my world a reality, except with violence?

Battle had certainly sped up my Tracing processes before. And I was grateful to them, for that much—

But I didn’t want to invite further battles to my doorstep.



BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ej5A6Z5fAEc)

She watched him that night, following him to the temple, doing her best to avoid being seen.

Shirou, though, always seemed preoccupied when he left.

And as she watched him release his prana, attempt to create his world…

Some part of her felt his wish—

And within her, she felt a paradox of division.

One that wanted to fulfill that wish.

Another that wanted to fulfill that wish.

One that wanted to find the salvation she felt in that wish.

Another that wanted to find the pain in that wish—

Like that cursed scalpel piercing her flesh, Yumi felt it fully cut into her.

Salvation, pain.

She clutched the Shroud of Martin beneath her shirt, though she did not remove the seal. In fact, it felt as if that may have been the one thing…

Keeping that Addition in.

BGM off


Escaping Fate, Change, End

*I’ll touch on it later, but I think it’s an important visual theme, of Shirou embracing Sakura.

**As in, keitai cell phone email. Rin: What is…this…fandangled…GAH! *German word followed by the sound of an explosion*

***Japanese furo are oversized bathtubs filled with steaming hot water. The actual cleaning is done separately; the bathtub is more like a process of purification like you would do in a sauna.

****This isn’t UBW, so no comparison can be made, but…well, think stoic storm cloud of danger. Like Kuzuki.





AN: Continuing with pun names, Takumi’s surname Hoshino is “star field.”

Escaping Fate
Interlude 10-1
Star of Darkness

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBD5AaNJyCs)

Takumi Hoshino* could not quite put it to words, but something had changed.

Of course, he had been waiting for change to occur for a while now. Back when Matou-san had introduced him to Yumi, Takumi had been able to tell the difference in the girl. She was fragile and wounded in a way that only stemmed from intense pain and trauma, both physical and mental. Takumi thought, after seeing the way Yumi had glanced about the school and fifty emotions seemed to vie for dominance, he had known that even without the introduction, he would have gravitated in her direction.**

The same way he had to Matou-san.

It was something he never voiced to her in any fashion, but watched carefully. It had nothing to do with romantic yearning, as many in the Archery Club thought whenever they had caught him staring at Matou-san. It was more…concern for her wellbeing. Because everything about her screamed that she seemed to hate the world in almost Biblical fashion, yet kept a tether on sanity only due to the genuine smiles of those around her.

So Takumi had smiled at her whenever he could.

For the most part, it was a useless thing. His grandmother had once told him his family had ancestors that were renowned for exorcising demons, surpassing even the monks of the land at detecting their presence amidst the people. Takumi figured whatever feeling he had of people and their ills was just some far-removed sense like that, no more than some recessive blue eyed gene.

Whatever the case, he was sadly aware of how broken Matou-san was.

To him, it was like a flickering star. The light was barely perceptible and easily mixed up amidst the thousands of other lights in the night sky, just like the feelings and emotions of people at school blurred into one another. If he concentrated hard enough, he could see it, and notice how unlike the healthy lights surrounding it that single star was. If he concentrated hard enough, he could see how Matou-san flinched ever-so-slightly at unexpected intrusions into her personal space, or how she kept most boys at an arm’s length. It was not difficult to add the pieces together and understand that some kind of abuse was or had been a part of her life.

Yumi was like that too, though in a different way. She mainly set up a sense of distance in herself, like viewing oneself from the outside objectively. Takumi noticed how she never seemed pleased at positive things that happened to her—good grades, teacher praise, laughter on the occasion she made a joke or witty comment—nor upset at bad things—like the passive-aggressive vibe from some of her female classmates. It was more like she took pleasure or took pain from the experience of seeing these things play out and being around them, not the action itself.

It bizarrely reminded Takumi of his grandfather, how the old man would watch his grandchildren play during a festival or get in trouble with their parents, likely thinking something along the lines of, “Ah, those were the days.”

That, though, confused him. If Yumi was akin to an old person looking back on life, he wasn’t sure what could have happened to bring that on.

BGM off



As Wednesday lunch rolled around, Takumi split from his regular clique of friends and headed to the first year classes***.

“I know you feel sorry for ‘er, but man, isn’t she a little, I dunno, weird-looking?” Kozuki said. “She looks like she needs more sun.”

Takumi grinned back at him. “I guess I could take her out on a date, and then she’d get plenty of sun.”

Kozuki gaped at his forward statement and Takumi laughed, taking the stairs before his friend made a comeback.

1-A was right next to the stairs, so Takumi only had to round the corner once on the first-year floor. When he entered, however, he immediately froze to take in the picture presented before him.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFix9pKH16w)

Yumi stood at her desk, though she had turned in place and had her hands on the desk behind her. In the corner beyond were three girls that Takumi did not know, huddled together in abject terror.

Glancing about, Takumi found those still in the classroom also frozen in place. “Everyone out. Someone get a sensei,” he said, jabbing the nearest one in the shoulder to pull them out of their daze.

Some people in the room complied, while others continued to watch. Takumi cautiously made his way over to the corner of the room and his eye caught sight of what seemed to have the girls’ attention.

Yumi’s right arm was purple.

It was not the kind of purple from being bruised. It looked bizarre, like a malformed mole, only it covered a good portion of her forearm. Takumi looked to her other arm, but it as always sported the rather odd red bandage Yumi regularly wore, covering the portion of her left that would correspond to her right.

“Get her away from me,” one of the girls pleaded.

Takumi reached out to put his hand on Yumi’s shoulder. “Emiya-san, maybe we—”

Yumi’s right arm came up, and moved.

What moved, Takumi could not explain. It was like a giant panther leapt from Yumi’s arm and charged headlong into the girls clustered together. All three shrieked at the visage, black and nightmarish, before it collided into them like a bowling ball into pins. The three girls collapsed, and the black creature swerved around to do the same to him.

Takumi charged right into Yumi, a full body-check that crashed them both into the wall, then into a sprawled mess between desks. He thought maybe he heard bells ringing in his ears, but didn’t know if that was just the shouts and screams coming from those that had remained in the classroom.

Grabbing his head to try and control the throbbing, he first looked to Yumi, who now appeared out cold. Quickly, he glanced over his shoulder, but found no sight of the dark thing that had come out to play.

What the hell was that?

BGM off


Escaping Fate, Interlude, Out

*I swear, this is the only chapter that will feature this OC. I just needed an outside perspective for this.

**It’s regularly suggested in the Nasuverse that weirdness attracts weirdness. This is implied in Tsukihime, where Arihiko is friends with Shiki because they both have become much more aware of death in a way the average person does not, while in FSN Masters often seem to summon Servants that have similar issues or warped personalities, and is even a fairly major plot point in Kara no Kyoukai by the wraith spirit that attacks Shiki in the hospital. Takumi is meant to be a stand in for an Arihiko character in that way and is not meant to be a magician or anything else like that, just someone with “normal” experiences that lend to understanding others that have supernatural-badness follow them around.

***…I should have just been funny and named him Koyomi Araragi (sorry, I stuttered) or Touma Kamijou (with this right hand…) what with the nice-guy thing. Actually, I think it’d be pretty funny if Shirou, Koyomi, and Touma teamed up and saved the world one girl at a time. Team Martyr-Without-A-Cause!

DreamsRequiem
July 15th, 2011, 03:46 AM
Well, technically, I first read this when it already had two chapters, and recommended it immediately after reading. So you can you I was with since chapter one in spirit :).

Arashi_Leonhart
July 15th, 2011, 04:04 AM
AN: I’m going to probably be making some liberal uses of Nasuverse material in the issue that appears here. One of the problems with the verse is that it makes very specific references to various things but does not always explain exactly how they work. So, hopefully any discrepancy isn’t enough that it turns you off to the story. Thanks for reading!

Escaping Fate
Chapter 11
Crucified

“Senpai, do it harder.”

I stared blankly at Sakura.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7B9pom2D8JA)

Taking the knife and mallet from my hands, Sakura half-crowded, half-pushed me out of the way and took my place at the cutting board. She replaced the knife in the area where I had been attempting to cut the squash and then firmly slammed the mallet into the back end of the blade.

The squash cut neatly into two pieces.

I sighed. Despite all of my best efforts to keep Sakura from knowing every secret I had in the kitchen, it was becoming more and more common for her to be doing things better and more efficiently than I ever could. And acorn squash just happened to be one thing that I found myself incapable with; as it resisted the more delicate attempts I tried with it, too many years of carefully cutting various other fruits and vegetables working against me.

Sakura worked on removing the seeds and I retreated to the living room in defeat.

“Ah, Shirou,” Tohsaka said, giving me that thin-lipped smirk, “Not only do you not wear the pants in the house, but Sakura has it so you can’t wear the skirt either. Obviously, you were always meant for the menial position of butler…or maid.”

I glared and sat at the table, putting my chin in my hands. “The uniform chafes.”

Tohsaka didn’t bat an eyelash. “The butler or maid uniform?”

The phone rang, saving me from answering. Unfortunately, it also kept the comment in play, as if I jumped up to get it I would be proving her point. I tried to ignore the ringing, keeping my eyes on Tohsaka, who kept staring me down in return.

“Will someone get the phone, please?” Sakura said from the kitchen.

Stare.

Stare.

…Fine. “I’ll—“

Tohsaka jumped up and headed into the hall. “I’ll get it,” she said, grinning over her shoulder at me.

Witch.

I sighed and raised my voice so Sakura could hear. “I’m telling you, you’re the one that works. I should be making food at least. You shouldn’t have to do this after taking days off from work.” Because Yumi had been acting up, Sakura had taken the rest of the week off in hopes that Yumi would open up to her. Thankfully, Sakura had covered for Mitsuzuri some weeks ago and the two had simply traded off a few days.

“If senpai did not look so vexed today, maybe I would have let you,” Sakura said.

BGM off

I glared in her direction, though I couldn’t see her from where I sat. I resent the word let.

Tohsaka ran back in. “Something happened at the school.”



Fire department and EMT vehicles crowded the entryway to the school when we arrived. We had to identify ourselves to a police officer and were told not to enter the building, which was under quarantine until they could figure out what had happened.

Kids were being ushered about by firefighters and checked by the EMTs; some had parents crowding in to see them. Since the fight with Shinji and Rider had knocked me out immediately after the two had moved to escape, I didn’t know exactly what the scene at school had been like then, but it was probably very similar. I could only hope whatever had happened had not been as bad as Rider’s boundary field.

We caught one of the firefighters, who explained: “We think there was a gas leak in one of the classrooms. A few students are unconscious and others are hallucinating. Please, if you are parents or guardians to a student, I would direct you to their homeroom teacher.”

I nodded and glanced back at the girls. Tohsaka was looking around already, since that explanation suggested magical interference. Sakura looked worried, probably recalling Rider’s attack as well and what she had seen of the victims.

With Yumi not in immediate evidence, we headed in the direction of Fuji-nee, who was grouped together with a class of students looking fairly bewildered.

A hand grabbed the back of my shirt.

I spun to find Caren Ortensia standing there, a serious look on her face. “Shirou Emiya. You must come with me.”

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41gKwV2n-sA)

I blinked, and glanced over at Tohsaka and Sakura. Tohsaka looked mightily disturbed to see Caren and was now scanning the area for any obvious magical threat. I looked back to Caren. “What’s going on?”

“Your young one is not present, and we must go after her,” Caren said.

“What do you know about Yumi?” Sakura asked.

Caren pulled us back out toward the gate, and after glancing at the others for confirmation, we followed after her. Students were starting to be ferried off the grounds; they must have announced the closure of classes for the remainder of the day. She led us past the throngs of teenagers and concerned parents, paused for a moment, then distinctively took down one street.

When we were clear of onlookers, Caren turned to face us. She pulled back the flowy sleeve of her nun-like gown and presented her right hand.

“What the—”

It looked like someone had taken a lit cigarette and stabbed it into the palm of Caren’s hand, and then from there a spider web of black spread from that center point and sent jagged lines of ash up her arm. But unlike a burn or a drawn pattern, it looked as if the black had dug into her skin and was slowly eroding away her flesh as opposed to seared atop her limb.

“I’m sorry,” Caren said, “but I believe she is possessed by a demon.”

BGM off



Caren led us in the general direction of the house, though she would pause momentarily to look about.

“How do you know it’s even Yumi?” Sakura was asking.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VI2W4RdlK04)

“I can feel the pain,” Caren said. We came to the main intersection between my house and the school, but instead of turning toward home, Caren led us down another route. “And it is very specific to a person like her, who has been tortured over a long period of time.”

I winced at the thought of literal empathy toward that kind of emotion.

“And demon possession?” Sakura continued.

I briefly glanced at Tohsaka, surprised she was not hounding questions as well. Instead, I found a look of profound sadness on her face. It was something I had caught her doing a few times before, though I had absolutely no idea what brought them on—but melancholy was an easy emotion to read on the otherwise animate witch.

“My body resonates when possession is occurring nearby,” Caren was explaining. “Additionally, what those people at the school described sounded like the actions of one possessed.”

“All they told us was they thought there was a gas leak,” I said.

Caren nodded. “Students, however, stated they saw nightmare incarnate. My hand spouted these stigmata merely an hour ago. Yumi was missing already when I arrived. It isn’t difficult to add these things up.” She glanced upward and when I followed her line of sight, found that she had been leading us in the direction of Ryuudou Temple.

“Still,” I hedged.

“Has she been acting up lately? More emotional or tempestuous than usual?”

I frowned and glanced at Sakura, finding the younger sister looking my way at the same time. We had known something was up, but…

Caren sighed. “Then I fear we may be too late.”

BGM off

We rounded the corner to the street that ran along the base of the hill, and at the foot of the stairs leading up to the temple we could see a figure. Caren paused to grab her hand in pain and I felt the prana flow from Tohsaka before the witch said, “That’s her!”

The figure darted up the stairs and we ran after.

Just as we reached the base of the stairs where we had seen the figure, Caren grabbed me by the collar and Tohsaka grabbed Sakura at the same. I think Tohsaka was a little gentler with Sakura, who merely flinched and stopped in place; I fell on my ass, and had to wonder what this priestess-nun-whatever ate for breakfast.

BGM on (http://youtu.be/0Z0S2h9aiFk)

“No, you cannot run in blindly like this,” Caren said.

I glanced back up at her, scowling. “If that is Yumi, we need to get her before she hurts herself or someone else further. And if it is demon possession, isn’t that something you’re capable of exorcising? I’m aware that they can’t fully affect the natural world, so we’re safe from everything but localized distortions—”

Tohsaka was the one to answer. “Demons that can appear to normal people like at the school are…Shirou, I don’t know what we’re going to do.”

I stared at her blankly, feeling like my stomach was inverting in my body. The way she said that was so…

BGM off

“If you will wait here,” Caren said, “I will go and deal with this. I do not believe you would want to see—”

Springing up to my feet, I cocked the hammer. Prana flowed from my circuits into my legs and lungs, and I charged up the stairs before she could finish.

No. You’re not going to tell me something stupid like, “I’ll go finish her off, you wait here so you don’t have to crush your hearts.” This was too sudden, too random…

There was no way I was going to see Yumi off to school in the morning and return home in the afternoon with her gone.

This kind of thing was not going to happen again.

I heard the others behind me, though I was confident that even Tohsaka would only be able to match my speed. And even if she agreed with whatever Caren seemed to be implying—like it was too late for Yumi—I’m certain she would not feel right in just letting it all go by without at least trying first.

A black dragon charged down the stairs at us.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8erQEokAb1k)

“Shirou!/Senpai!/Shirou Emiya!” came cries from below.

It wasn’t really a black dragon, but it sure looked something like it. In the shade from the trees surrounding us, it looked more like a trick of the light, like the shadows dancing due to the movement of the foliage to look briefly horrific. But it had an odd kind of form, like running fire taken shape that clearly screamed dragon to me, and it was certainly charging down toward us.

This was no localized distortion. This really was more like…

It reminded me like the inverse beauty of Rider’s Pegasus, the moving shadow the direct opposite of the brilliant light of that Phantasmal Race.

BGM off

I planted myself as best as I could on the stone steps. “I am the bone of my sword.”

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEnkHxoXv3s)

The shaded creature bounded down another tier of stairs, took a leap from one landing, and came down at me like a raptor.

“Evelake Aegis!”

A blood-red cross three times my size formed.

Evelake Aegis. Painted with the blood of the Saint Joseph of Arimathea, the shield was carried by Galahad of Camelot, the perfect knight and supposed bearer of the Holy Grail.* I braced the cross-shaped device against my shoulder and the ground as the shadow struck.

Whereas Rho Aias was renowned for blocking great lances, the Evelake Aegis was known for protecting one against the toils of chasing after the Holy Grail and facing down God’s Enemies.

The dragon smashed face-first into the cross and then fled back up the stairs as fast as it had come, moving along the earth like a snake and moving through the air like a bird. I waited to see if it would about-face and try for another attack, but it seemed content to stay away.

“Shirou Emiya, that is not your cross to bear.”

I had to pause and look back at Caren; the three of them had caught up. I wasn’t certain if that was meant to be a joke, sarcasm, or completely taken straight.

“Please wait, senpai, I don’t think you should go after her yourself alone either,” Sakura said, panting a little. This excursion was probably going to be the most aerobic activity she had done since school gym.

“You saw that thing,” I said. “If that’s possessing her, I don’t want to waste anymore time here.”

“Shirou, if that’s the form it’s taking,” Tohsaka said, “then do you know, at minimum, what we’re going to have to do?”

At minimum?

“Demons are formless,” Caren said, “until they are in full possession of the host body. A demon cannot affect the natural world in any fashion until it is already symbiotic with the body it has attached itself to.”

“So, we remove it,” I said.

Tohsaka leveled me with an even stare. “That’s what I mean. You do understand…if it is inhabiting even just her arm, you have to completely remove the arm.”

BGM off

What?

“But I do not believe that the case,” Caren said, sighing. She pulled at the collar of her robe and exposed her collarbone. The same web-like form of stigmata was encroaching on her neck and it was clear they continued from the little she was showing. “Some Dead Apostle Ancestors are known to contain demons within specific portions of their bodies, but to a relatively normal human, that is impossible. I believe that her left arm may be the only part of her not contaminated already.”

I held off on asking why the left arm—it had something to do with that red bandage Yumi wore along the upper portion of her arm, I could guess that much—but I still couldn’t comprehend it all. “But ‘contamination’ can be cleansed, and I thought that’s what an exorcism was.”

“Correct,” Caren said, “but I misspoke. With possession, if it is already at the point where physical changes are manifesting, where the spirit can affect the natural world, it has already damaged the body irreparably. Like a cancerous tumor that is beyond therapy, the body may remain behind but the damage is too far to cleanse.”

I growled and hefted my shield. Though bulky and oversized, it was not terribly heavy. “This isn’t getting us anywhere.”

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2gLAg89cEQ)

“No, it isn’t.” Caren pulled long, thin sword-like weapons from her robes. “Shirou Emiya, you must be prepared. If this demon has corrupted her body fully, I must exorcise it. And that includes the destruction of the original body. If left unchecked, a demon is capable of warping this entire city with its malice, not unlike Angra Mainyu.”

Dammit.

Dammit.

The image of Kirei Kotomine before the black that spilled out of the Grail, Illya floating helpless just below…

Replaced by yet another tragedy—

No.

Don’t tell me that it’s like that…

Kiritsugu hit this wall.

Saber hit this wall.

I…

“If you wish to be who you claim your aim is, then understand that this is a part of that. An ally of justice does not stand by emotions, but by what is right and fair. Even if it means cursing God,” Caren said, looking at me sadly, “though God will certainly understand.”

One cannot protect the people with human emotion.

“Then I’ll achieve it. If you can’t do it because you’re an adult, then I’ll do it for you in your place.”

How…

How was this going to work?

I looked at the swords in Caren’s hand, looked to the marks beneath those blades, to the hole in her palm.

Like it was mocking me.

BGM off


Escaping Fate, Crucified, End

*…You know, making up Noble Phantasms is hard. At least, ones that don’t glaringly stand out compared to canonical ones.





AN: Comments for recent chapters have filled me with joy. The kind of joy Kotomine gets from suffering. Rejoice, readers!

Escaping Fate
Chapter 12
Heaven’s Feeling

We ascended the stairs, but Yumi was not in the front courtyard. Tohsaka immediately started erecting a boundary field herself in the vague chance of warding people who would come to the temple away at least temporarily. I hoped nothing had happened to the handful of monks that lived here with the Ryuudou family.

“Do you think she went inside?” Sakura asked.

“I have a sneaking suspicion not,” I said. Taking a quick look around, I started for the lake off to one side of the grounds. I didn’t know if she had, but, considering how sneaky she’d been before…

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJzxDq7m8Gw)

We rounded the temple proper and indeed, found her in the place I had been trying to exercise the Reality Marble out of my mind. Yumi stood right where Kirei Kotomine had met his end. She stared up into space, in the general direction of where the Grail had once hovered, and wavered in place as if in a trance.

I cringed at the way she moved.

If we get you out of this, I’m never letting you watch horror movies ever again.

The shadowy-something that had tried jumping me earlier was not in evidence. Instead, it was clear, if Caren’s demon detection was a kind of sympathetic effect, why it emanated from her right hand, as Yumi’s right arm was flickering with what looked like a haze of black. It grew and receded, and though it currently had no discernable anatomy, I could just feel the fact that it was watching us, like a black cat in the crook of her arm.

“Yumi-chan!” Sakura called out.

No response. Yumi just stood there, no different from the trees swaying in the breeze.

Caren brandished the throwing swords she had called Black Keys. “In nomini patri—”

BGM off

That provoked a reaction, and Yumi’s arm, moving on what looked like its own accord, shot up and seemed to rip open. Instead of blood, shadow oozed out of her, gathering on the ground and swirling into the shape of the beast. It opened something like a mouth, but instead of a roar, it was like all the sounds in the air were sucked into its gullet, leaving the air feeling dry and stagnate.

And then charged.

Foregoing the remainder of the prayer, Caren sent her swords flying.

Making a very human-like choice, the dragon dove laterally and rolled over its shoulder to both avoid the weapons and keep its momentum going. With barely a change in gait, it charged straight for the priestess, who tried reaching for more of her swords, stored who-knows-where.

Not enough time.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huUiTYcWwYY)

I took a step out in front of her, hefted the Evelake Aegis by one end, and tried hitting the thing across the face with the cross.

The thing ducked low beneath the swing, then jumped right up at me, bounded off my shoulders, over my head, and landed behind us. With a dime-turn that would be impossible for an actual animal to replicate without snapping its spine, it spun around and leapt maw-first for Caren.

Tohsaka tackled Caren and Sakura tackled me, leaving the beast to jump right over both of us. While I could hear Tohsaka distantly shout at Caren to watch herself, my attention went to Sakura, who came up in a crouch before me.

Something that resembled a ribbon of cloth—because it flexed—but also a lance—because it shot out like a javelin—went flying from Sakura’s hand. It nicked the creature’s hind leg, and for the first time the beast seemed to flinch, pausing to regard Sakura like it might another predator.

“Matou-san,” Caren said; I could hear her slowly rising behind me. “If you attempt to seal it away, it will do the exact same as exorcising it, killing the host.”

Although she sounded like this was the last place she wanted to be, Sakura had enough conviction in her voice that she sounded prepared, at least. “I don’t want to seal it away. Just hold it in place until senpai or nee-san can figure out a way to rescue Yumi-chan.”

I chanced taking my eyes off of the creature to look Yumi’s way, but the girl had not moved, still staring up at the sky in a daze. I had to wonder what, if anything, was going through her mind and whether she even realized what was going on around her.

My stare turned back to the dragon just in time, as it decided to charge once more, this time going toward Sakura. The same lance-shaped flurry of magic shot from Sakura’s hand, though this time in a rapid-fire succession that, for the briefest of seconds, made her look extremely like Tohsaka.

Tohsaka herself had raised her left arm, and, with the crest on it glowing, started chanting.

Small explosions started ripping at the feet of the beast, first to its right, then left, and I realized Tohsaka was attempting to box it in while Sakura shot her own spells. Caren began throwing more of her swords in—where were they coming from?—and the creature slowly moved in a straighter and narrower channel as it charged.

I planted the shield before Sakura, though enough out of the way to not obscure her vision. If we could seal its movement and stun it like Sakura suggested, Curtana might be able to hold it completely until we figured out what to do—

Finally, one shot from Tohsaka sent the dragon stumbling hard onto its left legs, right into the path of Sakura’s spell. The lance skewered the beast in the left shoulder and even I could feel the flow of energy from it begin to reverse, the feeling of stagnation in the air receding as mana spewed out of its body.

“Now, senpai!”

I Traced Curtana and brought it down on the creature’s head.

It passed through with the same kind of resistance one might get when thrusting a fork into a cake or other light confections—resistance was present, but only at a level where it read as resistance and not much else. The thing seemed to break apart like a gust of wind might break apart a fog cloud, and before I knew it, there was nothing at my feet.

The shadow reformed identical as before, now with one on either side of me.

“Shi—”

Both pounced, and I unceremoniously dropped where I was to avoid being hit.

Lances and explosions started to sound again, and I rolled up to my feet just as Caren swept past me, swords in hand, prayers on her lips. She charged right past the creatures and—

Toward Yumi.

“Senpai!” Sakura shouted again, though this time I could hear more than just words. Trusting Sakura to hold these things and Tohsaka to look after her sister, I slashed at the nearest one as it tried to crowd me and ran after the priestess.

Caren had too much of a lead, and the distance to Yumi was not great. As she raised her hands to throw her weapons, I could think of little else, dropping Curtana. “Trace, on!”

Kanshou and Bakuya.

The triplet swords left Caren’s hands.

I threw Kanshou and Bakuya harder than Caren had the capacity for, crossing my arms as I did. The paired weapons flew out, crossed right behind Caren’s flowing robe, then helixed back to intercept the Black Keys. All five weapons clattered against one another, then against the ground not a meter in front of Yumi.

Caren spun to face me, and before I could think of what to do next, her hand whipped out a red cloth that snaked its way toward me. Although there was no malice behind the move, for some reason, in this place, I could not help but think of Kotomine throwing Angra Mainyu my way.

I tried ducking out of the way, but the cloth seemed to have its own mind as well, circling around behind me and grabbing me by the shoulder. The moment it had a grip on me, I felt it cling to me like a leech and the rest of the length swirled about me until my hands were tight to my hips. I fell to my knees before the cloth snaked down and around my legs, locking me in place.

Caren paused to regard me as I pushed as hard as possible, trying to even wiggle my hands. The cloth not only held me tight, but I could feel a disruption in my magical circuit, interference from whatever conceptual weapon this was. The moment I tried bringing a blade to hand, I felt feedback in my prana flow and the weapon refused to appear.

“Shirou, those creatures are going to continue to multiply and start to warp the environment,” Caren said, softly and sadly. “Your…friends can fight them now, but if this continues on much longer, the mutation you see on Yumi will spread not only from her body, but into the very existence of this city.”

I tried another blade, but it failed once again. Digging my knees as hard against the ground as I could, I tried using the friction to pry the cloth off, but that too did nothing.

“Demons are born from wishes,” Caren said. “I fear the souls of the victims before her cry out for salvation, and that wish has now consumed her.”

…What?

Victims before her?

Wait…

“If you wish to blame me for this act, then so be it,” Caren continued. “But I can hear the pleas now, the agony, and the desire for release. Even the demon born here understands, though it fears its own demise. At this point…there is nothing that can be done.”

Turning back, she drew three more of those Black Keys.

Victims.

Tohsaka had said the magus that had experimented on her was researching souls. Researching the viability of transferring magical circuits from one body to the next, and why bodies rejected that normally. As magical circuits are a reflection of the soul…

Sakura had said Yumi had needed a seal on her circuits because they were irregular. That the prana flow had been wrong and only after that cloth on her arm had been put there could she focus enough to manage her Alteration.

And her Alteration…

Additions…

“Look away, Shirou Emiya. I would not want to watch this either,” Caren said.

No.

At this point…there is nothing that can be done.

No.

Fire had once surrounded me, like the fires of hell. Nothing but destruction, nothing but pain, nothing but despair and horror and the conclusion that all is suffering and then death. There was nothing else there but the screams of tortured souls desiring rescue or the release of an end to it all…

And one boy who was saved, and his savior.

Nothing was absolute.

In that fire, I was saved. It was tiny, absolutely insignificant to the lives that were lost, but…

I thought of those tortured souls that had been kept in the basement of the church.

They too, had accepted it.

Even if they desired release…

“NO!”

I pushed.

I pushed.

I pushed until I felt my bones dislodge, my muscles tear.

“You are just going to hurt yourself,” Caren said, sighing, looking back my way again. “If you continue to struggle against that cloth, it—”

—will just tear itself apart.

I know.

Prana, unable to escape the circuit, found elsewhere to escape my body.

Blades ripped out of my nerves, around my broken bones, through my torn muscles, and pierced my skin, my clothing, and the cloth surrounding it.

It was not enough to tear the bounds completely open, nor even enough to give me any further room to move. But I could feel the concept behind the weapon fail, feel the presence of magic break about me, and through the haze of pain as I was impaled from within, managed to pull myself out of the wrapping.

Caren looked on in horror and I charged past her.

Shadow leapt from Yumi’s body and at me.

Between the pain staggering me, the lack of prana now still running through my circuit, and the single target in my mind’s eye, there was little else I could do. I swung at the creatures that charged me with my limbs, now resembling something more like a ball mace, blades protruding from my arms and fists. It was enough to dissipate the creatures before me, though each swing felt heavier and heavier as these things sucked the life right out of the air before them.

It didn’t matter.

All I could do…

It really didn’t matter.

Saber was gone, so it was hardly anything. A replication of an image, something my body still remembered like a phantom limb, something my eyes would never forget. Without Saber, it had nothing resembling the power it could. If Angra Mainyu were to spring out of the air right now, it would have been more than useless.

But…

It was all I could do.

Within Angra Mainyu, I was saved. The faint spark of hope from her voice, reminding me of what I was to her…

No despair or evil or darkness was absolute. If you looked hard enough—

I smashed past the last creature, grabbed Yumi while trying not to skewer her, and remembered.

“Trace, on.”

I had no healing abilities. No sealing abilities. Nothing like a real magus, nothing like an Executor of the Church, nothing like a Heroic Spirit. But I had this image, this perfect image, and though I was not Saber, I had energy, and I had a wish.

I fed every last ounce of prana into it, fed every last thought and desire for this girl into it—

I had done so once before, when we had first found her. I wasn’t even sure it had done anything, but as Tohsaka was not present when we found Yumi, and Sakura had no knowledge of healing magic as well, it was all I had in me to do.

Whether it was by this act, or by some other miracle…

Here, it was all I could bet on.

That my feelings, and that perfect image, would somehow work.



Darkness and light both formed, and for the briefest of moments, darkness was expelled.



Like animals fleeing a fire, the shadows crawled out of Yumi, crawled out onto the ground, writhing in agony.

It wasn’t going to be enough.

Avalon’s image was gone, and while expelled, the shadows remained, and looked to simply reattach to Yumi like a lost mother.

My body burned and moving felt like dragging a whet stone over a sword, harsh and scraping every nerve in my body to rawness.

The image was enough to have expelled it, but not enough to have purged it.

My body burned, and every nerve screamed at me to stop, but…

My body wasn’t made out of swords for nothing.

“The horned demon’s fang cries out in agony.”

Shamshir-e Zomorrodnegar was an anti-demonic sword of Persia. Encrusted with emeralds on the hilt and at the base of the blade, the mere sign of light glinting from it caused the shadow to halt.

I heard a series of consecutive clangs, and Black Keys appeared, embedded in the shadow of the shadow. The dragonish thing once more reared its head and looked like it was to roar, but the air thickened instead.

Ripping itself away from the conceptual blades, and warded by my weapon, it turned on its tail and ran.

BGM off

I managed to see Caren’s white hair pass by my peripheral vision and chase after it, but a sudden coughing fit kept me from anything more. I hacked, my lungs trying to expel the blades piercing them from within. Blood came, and I tried, but failed, to turn away from Yumi’s prone body beneath me, speckling her with red.

Yumi stared up at me, breathing shallowly, though aware. “Shirou?” she muttered.

I probably looked vaguely horrific to her, half-human, half-sword porcupine. Still, I forced a smile despite it all. “You are so grounded,” I told her.


Escaping Fate, Heaven’s Feeling, End

Actually, one is not “grounded” in Japanese culture, but “kicked out” and forced to wait outside. But the equivalent in Western culture is grounding, and presumably it wouldn’t sound quite as right to a reader otherwise.

Froggie
July 15th, 2011, 01:46 PM
Oh, that was very nice. You know? It's downright fiendish how you've made me care for an OC. I'm glad Yumi was rescued. I hope there are no lingering side-effects. Looking forward to your next chapter :)

Arashi_Leonhart
July 19th, 2011, 06:58 PM
AN: I will be slow in posting the next bit, as the setup I’ve made requires that I basically post the next four chapters at once. It will make sense when you see it. Until then, happy reading.


Escaping Fate
Chapter 13
Hell’s Desire


We had to wait until nightfall to get back home, since dragging my broken and bleeding body in the open would warrant questions from the average passerby. Tohsaka somehow warded Issei’s family and the monks away from our position as we waited, and after a quick examination of Yumi, Caren took off after the demon.

With my body out of od, I dozed uncomfortably for minutes at a time, until some jabbing pain would wake me and I’d have to shift to find a more comfortable position. Finally, by the time the sun was setting, Tohsaka had managed to heal me just enough that the blades piercing my body receded on their own, though it still felt like I was laying on a bed of needles. Somehow, it was decided that Tohsaka would help carry Yumi back home—as Yumi seemed likewise exhausted and sore—while Sakura hefted one of my arms around her shoulders so she could help me move like we were in a three-legged race.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJhC70dPN2Y)

It was full-blown nighttime when we made it back, and by then I was feeling more generally alert and awake as my body stopped screaming at me for the pain I had inflicted on it. We got inside; Tohsaka took Yumi to her room to rest and then dragged me into her room to wrap bandages about my arms, which had taken the blunt of my blade-skewering.

“Though you still heal faster than the average person,” Tohsaka said. Every once in a while, she took delight in jabbing a particularly sensitive wound, and I wasn’t exactly sure why other than a sadistic default in her head. “Maybe all that time with Saber’s scabbard in your body left you with lingering blessings from the faeries.”

“Then I’ll blame them that I’ve not grown any taller,” I complained. “I’ll be stuck in a teenage body for the rest of my life too.”

The ointment that Tohsaka put on her bandages really alleviated the remaining pain, and I felt much better by the time I’d changed clothes and made my way back to the living room. There, I could hear and smell something sizzling and I was reminded that I had not eaten since breakfast.

Sakura came from the kitchen and brought stir-fry with her. While she distributed the plates, Yumi crept out, looking extremely timid.

“How are you feeling?” Tohsaka asked when she spotted the girl.

Yumi slowly sidled up next to me when it was clear she wasn’t about to get scolded, and I put my arm around her shoulders. She had never fully acted out in any fashion in the entire year she had lived here, so my assumption was she only ever had her time in the orphanage to compare this situation to. “Strange,” she said, looking blankly at the plate Sakura put before her.

“Do you remember anything?” I asked.

Her expression fell from blank to depressed; an outsider might not notice, but at least I was familiar enough with it that I could see. I’m sure it was the same for Tohsaka and Sakura as well.

“This wasn’t your fault or anything,” Sakura said.

Yumi looked up at Tohsaka. “Were…the people at school alright?”

I’m not quite certain why she looked to Tohsaka, though my guess was she figured Tohsaka would be the bluntest about it. Either that or she realized that any attempt Tohsaka managed at fudging the truth tended to exhibit very clear symptoms of you’ve-said-too-much. “Four of your classmates are going to be checked out at the hospital. Caren Ortensia said that she already spoke with people and used something to clear anyone’s specific memories about your direct involvement.”

“Um,” Sakura said. “Hoshino-kun left a message on the phone; I checked when you were bandaging senpai up.” She looked a little nervous. “He clearly saw everything and it doesn’t seem Ortensia-san got to him, probably because he’s not in her class. He was worried about Yumi-chan.”

Tohsaka frowned and Yumi looked like she wanted to crawl under the table, never to return. I tried giving Tohsaka the cut-off signal from behind Yumi’s shoulder, but she went on to say, “I guess I’ll get to him later.” When Yumi wilted further at those rather villainous words, Tohsaka caught herself and slapped her hand over her face. “I mean, uhh…”

“Regardless,” Sakura said, trying to distract from her sister’s slip by distributing the food, “Fujimura-sensei also called and let us know that school would be out for the remainder of the week until they investigate what occurred and make sure it wasn’t some kind of contamination or leak of some sort. You do not have to concern yourself until then. Now, everyone needs to eat.”

“But still,” Tohsaka said, “if that boy says any—”

The table shuddered slightly, the tea Sakura had set up sloshing around. Tohsaka jumped in place and then turned an incredulous eye on her sister.

I did too. How Sakura could lash out from under a Japanese table from seiza position* without looking like she had done anything twisted my brain.

BGM off



Though I was still running pretty low on prana and energy in general, I felt way too wired to even think about sleep for a while, and with Yumi still fretting over what had occurred, we all plopped down in front of the television and watched a punishment game challenge show.

“I pray to the lord that whoever invented this show should seek repentance.”

BGM on (http://youtu.be/_zJBSNM77rQ)

My wired-nerves caused me to jump at Caren’s voice; thankfully, Sakura and Tohsaka both managed to keep their cool, though Sakura looked a little nervous at Caren’s reappearance. The priestess stood there, calmly, as if she hadn’t just entered my home without permission. “I thought you were going after that thing?” I blurted.

Caren smiled at me. “Oh, I’m fine, thank you, no need to be concerned for my wellbeing or why I have come.” She grasped her hands before her chest as if in prayer. “Lord almighty, please ignore this child’s uncouth tongue, for he knows not what he says…ever.”

Sakura hit the power on the remote and everyone turned to regard the priestess in earnest, motioning for her to sit at the table as we crowded around. “Are you alright?” I asked, though I thought it was a fairly stupid question. She still looked fine and even the marks on her hand were gone.

“The demon has thus far eluded me, so I believed it best to come here and see if I could understand its reasoning better,” Caren said.

“I’m not sure—” Sakura began.

“I am not either,” Caren said, nodding. “But this is a very important concern, and it may in fact return in an attempt to reattach to your young one here. I would prefer to wring it out now, so I need not have Emiya glare and throw daggers my way once more.”

I tried very hard not to, but was probably doing that very thing right now.

The glaring, anyway.

“Yumi,” Caren started, staring at the girl. It was actually an odd thing, now that I looked at it, since Yumi and Caren’s hair was of the same color and style, they looked a fair amount alike. Though I could never quite imagine Yumi smiling in the same unshakable way Caren did. “Do you know why a demon came to you?”

Yumi looked down and to one side, but nodded.

That surprised me a little. I always thought that demon possession was a random occurrence. Though I knew even less on the matter than Dead Apostles.

“It’s the others inside me,” Yumi said.

Everyone, myself included, looked at her perplexedly.

“They wished for it,” Yumi continued.

BGM off



The shadow fled the temple, fled to safety.

Fled to the one place it could sense, the one place that it could understand.

The mansion was old, Western-styled, and quiet. No semblance of life perpetuated it and nobody seemed to care.

In the shadows of the mansion, the shadow dove.

It dug deep into the earth and swept into the crevices of the once-mighty manor. The screams of release shuddering through the shadow’s body resonated with the screams of release still felt within the walls of this place. The shadow could sense through time the pain suffered here, it could smell the tears of the little girl that cried here, it could feel the wishes whispered in the darkness.

Wishes for a release from the torment.

Wishes for the power of a magus.

Wishes for life unending.

The house of Matou.



BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-CyOBkm9tU)

This is what it is to be Zouken Matou.

It writhed in the pit, a shadow of what it once was. The worms shuddered and crawled and undulated about one another, in torment and agony, hating that which brought it to its knees.

Rin Tohsaka and her family name, for thwarting his every move.

Illyasviel von Einsbern, for looking down upon him like she was Justica.

Sakura, for failing to be his tool.

Shirou Emiya, for stealing it all.

The mass screams and rages, but nothing comes of it, as its power has long since vanished, no more prana to consume, no more form to be taken. This shadow is a shadow of itself, no longer anything but an accumulation of lost desire and misguided passion.

It shudders alone in the darkness, unable to live, unable to die.

BGM off



So when the shadow came to the shadow:

One shadow feeding on the pains of many—

One shadow feeding on the pains of one—

In this place, where pain once echoed freely, and a little girl cried for release…

Shadow consumed shadow, to give the shadow a shape.



Escaping Fate, Hell’s Desire, End


*Kneeling, with one’s rear seated over their ankles. Superbly uncomfortable if you’re not used to it and even many Japanese can’t tolerate it for long. Saber, Rin, and Sakura all sit in that position without fuss, though. The anime shows Shirou mostly sitting cross-legged.

ItsaRandomUsername
July 19th, 2011, 07:09 PM
0_____o

...Le Gasp.

Neir
July 19th, 2011, 07:12 PM
Oh snaaaaaaaaaaaaaap

Techlet
July 19th, 2011, 07:49 PM
Okay, that's not good...

ItsaRandomUsername
July 19th, 2011, 07:50 PM
)=

Bloble
July 19th, 2011, 08:03 PM
What a twist. I definitely didn't see that one coming. You've somehow managed to make Zouken scarier than his canon portrayal and we haven't even seen him yet.

Arashi_Leonhart
July 19th, 2011, 08:04 PM
What a twist. I definitely didn't see that one coming. You've somehow managed to make Zouken scarier than his canon portrayal and we haven't even seen him yet.

...I dunno about that. I HATED every time he cropped up on screen. Though that might have been due to living alone and playing in the middle of the night with the lights out.

Mike1984
July 19th, 2011, 08:09 PM
Well, I wouldn't say Zouken is really that scary, TBH. A little creepy, perhaps, and certainly an irredeemably evil bastard, but my main feeling towards Zouken is hatred and sheer revulsion, not fear.

Arashi_Leonhart
July 19th, 2011, 08:10 PM
Well, I wouldn't say Zouken is really that scary, TBH. A little creepy, perhaps, and certainly an irredeemably evil bastard, but my main feeling towards Zouken is hatred and sheer revulsion, not fear.

I dunno. Something about his sprite just creeped me the hell out. I felt like I could almost smell him.

Arashi_Leonhart
July 26th, 2011, 05:41 AM
So. I kind of feel bad taking so long. I planned on releasing this all at once, and will do so on FFN, but here, I suppose, I'll just post them as I get them done and edit this one to add in links to the choices. Maybe because I want to tease you people here. Bwahahaha.


AN: WARNING! Some shipping to occur depending on your choices. The third option remains romance-free.

By the way, in Japan, common law marriage is recognized, and Shirou has lived with both Rin and Sakura long enough…


Escaping Fate
Chapter 14
Connection


BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh4jsjjgPG0)

It made sense.

Setsuka Yuushi’s work had something to do with the transference of magical circuits. Normally, one could not do such a thing without extreme consequences—death usually—and the side effects would be severe even if it did work. Even in willing subjects, the movement of, say, one circuit from one person to another was a dangerous practice; Tohsaka had said it was one of the things she had considered when we were being pursued by Berserker. The thing was, circuits were a reflection of a person’s life force, their soul, and transplanting an entire set of circuits into another was like trying to shove two souls into one container.

“But he studied Souren Araya’s work,” Tohsaka muttered.

“What?” I asked.

Tohsaka wasn’t even looking at anyone, staring off in one direction vacantly. “A magus that died something like a decade ago. He was an expert on the study of the soul.”

I looked back to Yumi, who had fallen silent after her explanation. Though she still looked upset and nervous over what was going on with her, at the same time something about her had seemed to settle. I wasn’t sure if it was the absence of the feeling that had wished for the demon or if the entire situation had given her some kind of insight, but something in the way she just sat there, less stiff and tense than I had ever seen her had a sense of finality.

A demon born of wishes.

Wishes born by the thoughts of a collective.

A collective of lives still echoing within Yumi.

“It feels like people inside of me. Thoughts and feelings that aren’t my own are always there.” She had said it in a way that made it sound like she thought of herself less as a person and more like a hub, a computer network or a community hall.

It made sense.

Yumi’s magical circuits were irregular and more existed than should in the average person.

The magic circuit is tied to the soul.

“It’s like my magic. I feel…more inside of me. Additions. Things that don’t belong.”

Demons, according to Caren and Tohsaka, were born of human wishes. Generally, they came forth for humans to throw their suffering and anger onto, taking form in accordance to the beliefs humanity has of them—thus the monstrous appearance.

If Yumi really was full of the thoughts and feelings of others, of victims to Setsuka Yuushi’s experiments, and if they were all united in their desires…

A wish certainly could be born. And wishes were the source of powerful magic, true magic.

True horrors, too.

“What is it they wish for?” Caren asked.

Yumi looked up at me, then into her lap. “Salvation.”

“I’m not sure I understand,” I said. I glanced to Tohsaka and Sakura, but both were regarding me with expressions that somehow made the hairs on my arms stand straight: Tohsaka looked sad, while Sakura looked oddly determined. I think it was the expectation of a reversal there, because I was used to Sakura looking lonely and Tohsaka often wore an almost angry expression.

“Shirou,” Yumi said, her voice quieting, “the only time I feel like everything in me agrees on anything is when I’m looking at you. Whenever I think of…you saving someone. Saving me. Or saving the others at Yuushi-san’s place.”

The expression she gave me…

Then I’ll be at peace now.

Old man…I’m not sure I ever gave any thought to why you looked like that when you died until now. Maybe I’ve grown up a little since then…

“I thought as much,” Caren Ortensia interrupted my thoughts. “Demons, you see, are not evil beings. They may cause evil, but they themselves are not. They serve a purpose, one that humanity itself sees fit to bequeath upon them.” She sighed. “But they are also creatures that must be put down as fast as possible.”

I glanced at Tohsaka from the corner of my eye, but the witch was not looking my way and instead had finally settled on that almost-angry expression I had come to expect from her.

“What do you think it’s going to do now?” I asked.

Caren closed her eyes and put her hands up in a delicate open-handed-I-don’t-know pose. “I know only the ends, not the means. It will seek familiar ground, perhaps either attempting to attach to Yumi, or it may seek out another with similar pains, though I can think of none that currently live in this city beyond those already in this room.” She glanced at Sakura, then to me. “My estimation is it will eventually come after you, Shirou Emiya.”

I looked at Yumi, regarding me with a demure stare.

Salvation, huh?

I suppose…

Maybe I thought it was much further off than this, but, it is what I’ve been striving for. I can’t really complain. If my decision during the war was what I was going to live by…

I put my hand on Yumi’s head. “Yeah, well, I guess then I should take responsibility, huh?”

Caren gave a much put-upon sigh. “I will attempt to track it down before it comes seeking you out here, though. If it attaches to someone else like this, it most assuredly will prove fatal.” She frowned. “Though at this point, I have nothing in the way of ideas to look for it other than wandering aimlessly through town.”

At that, Tohsaka seemed to come to some kind of conclusion, and she glanced at the clock. It was settling on two in the morning. “Assuming the demon can find something to shape itself, how long do you think we have?”

“It was weaker after Emiya-san brandished that bizarre green sword at it,” Caren said. “I have a feeling that it will bide its time until next evening at the least. That was the impression I felt, anyway.”

BGM off

“Then I’d suggest we all just, well, get some rest.” Tohsaka was glancing at everyone, though, and seemed to realize just how wired we were. Also, all things considered, I wasn’t sure any of us felt like sleeping while the sun was still down. The mood just felt a little too disturbing, like those shadow-creatures would just jump out at us the moment we turned off the lights. “Maybe we can all think better once we’ve had some rest.”

“Ortensia-san can stay here, if she wishes,” Sakura offered. “We have—”

I tried giving Sakura the cut-off motion, and once more failed. What was it with these girls?

“—many spare rooms. The church is so far and it is very late.”

Caren bowed. “Thank you for your hospitality.” She then gave me this look out of the corner of her eye, one that, even without a smile, was somehow smiling. Smiling in the way that I just felt was supposed to be menacing to me. Like a cat. In that way cats were indisputably in control even if we humans may call them the pet.

Maybe my wishes would bring the demon to me right now.

…Probably best not to wish for such things.



Tohsaka grabbed me by the arm and pulled me out into the hall as Sakura led Caren to one of the spare rooms. I glanced back into the living room to see Yumi turn the television back on. “What?”

“It isn’t just your responsibility,” Tohsaka said.

“Tell that to the demon.”

“Get rest, Shirou.”

I sighed. “I’ll try. But I should warn you, between the Aegis, what I did with Avalon, and the blades I made…I’m not even going to be up to full after a complete night’s rest. And everything is still sore from my circuit going haywire as normal.”

“I know.” She sighed. “I’ll try and figure something out. But regardless, we’re going to have to try and go on the offensive tomorrow. I’ve talked this over with Sakura, and while I don’t particularly like the idea of leaving them alone here, it is actually safer for Yumi if Sakura is here. Probably safer with Sakura than with me, in any case.”

“Because of the Matou magic.”

Tohsaka shrugged. “Something like that.* Anyway, just…try to rest. I’ll think of something.”



Rest did indeed come in fits.

It felt like being torn in multiple directions. My body was sore and ached from the damage I had put it through, and my od was at an all-time low. I wanted to just lay down and not move for days, while at the same time my frazzled nerves were too twitchy to relax. My mind kept running in circles, unable to settle, as thoughts from all sorts of directions seemed to assault me.

I might have gotten an hour by the time the pre-dawn chirping of birds started up. I gave up on that and decided to go and start planning on breakfast.

The lights were out, but the television was still on when I came into the living room. In front of it, Yumi had apparently fallen asleep watching; she was curled up next to the table in a most uncomfortable-looking position, and I had to smile.

Fuji-nee often slept that way when she fell asleep in front of the tv.

So, it seems one of her bad habits finally rubbed off on Yumi.

Hopefully the girl’s spine wouldn’t be thrown right out of alignment.

When I made my way over to her, Yumi stirred in her sleep, then hurriedly glanced my way, shooting up to a sitting position in the process. Her nerves were probably just as edgy from everything and she had probably not even realized she had fallen asleep. “Hey,” I said. “You should really go to your room to get rest.”

The girl blinked up at me, then hazily back to the television. Considering the early hour, it was nothing more than an infomercial though. “It’s still early,” she said, as if confused.

“Yes.”

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3L1DEvzsftw)

“Are you leaving?”

The way she said that made me frown. Yumi was fifteen, though everything she said either made me think she sounded like a cynical adult or a frightened child with no in-between space. “We haven’t decided what exactly to do just yet. I was just going to look at what we had and maybe start breakfast.”

She gave a non-committal mumble.

I sat down next to her and put my arm around her shoulders. “Stop worrying about this and leave that to the rest of us. This isn’t your fault by a long shot, and we’re more primed to tackle it than you probably think.”

Well, primed, yes. Capable, on the other hand…well, not that I’d worry her by saying that.

Yumi nodded slowly. “I know.” She sighed. “I just wish I could do more about it.”

I smiled down at her. “I wish I could do more about it too. If wishes were coins, I’m pretty sure I’d be a shrine prayer box**.”

BGM off

Yumi withdrew from the hug, glancing back to the silent interior of the house. “I guess…maybe I’ll watch some television and wish harder myself. I don’t want to go to sleep again until I know what’s going on, at least.”

“Just so long as it doesn’t rot your brain first.”

When the girl turned back to the television and started flipping channels, I got up to check the kitchen. Sakura had cleaned from the quick meal she had prepared when we returned last night, and a glance into the refrigerator said I would need to go grocery shopping for anything more than rice and soup for breakfast. Unfortunately, even if the market were open at this hour, it was probably not a wise decision to leave the house until we had gone over all the possibilities for another attack and what everyone was going to do.

I glanced back down the hall toward the bedrooms, then over to the guest house. We were a strange family, with Yumi’s “sister” next door to my bedroom and her “mother” in a separate part of the house altogether from the “father.” A whimsical thought came to mind, and I wondered what it would be like if Illya and Saber were here, giving the “father” a younger-yet-older-sister and a second wife. Or something.

Sakura had taken Caren to find a room, though I didn’t see Caren anywhere about now—whether that was a good thing or bad thing was lost to me—so I wondered if she had actually gone to sleep. A quick glance out toward the guest house suggested that Tohsaka was still awake, as light came from the windows. Even if she were exhausted, Sakura was way too disciplined and, assuming she went to sleep, would be waking soon to try and beat me to the kitchen.

We were a strange family indeed.

Considering all that happened, it was amazing we weren’t around the table either gathering our bearings or just huddled together for comfort.

Tackle a beast that wants “salvation” from me. While I’m not even sure I’m capable of doing anything about it.

I…

1. Should go over plans with Tohsaka. (Proceed to Chapter 14-1) (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=233845&viewfull=1#post233845)

2. Need to make sure Sakura is going to be fine. (Proceed to Chapter 14-2) (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=243821&viewfull=1#post243821)

3. Guess Caren really should be consulted. (Chapter 14, Connection, End -- Proceed to Chapter 15) (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=254709&viewfull=1#post254709)




*Sakura’s sorcery trait is described as “imaginary numbers” and that she is specifically effective against spiritual beings. Meanwhile, the Matou magic is implied to be something like absorption and binding. I’ve always taken it that the Matou aspect, which Sakura is trained in but not particularly good at is more the methodology and execution, whereas the actual ability with spiritual beings is something she’s extremely good with.

**Shinto shrines are common places to go during festivals, holidays, or even just to make a wish for better grades or romantic prospects. Like a more serious wishing well or fountain, a person goes to such a location, tosses a coin into a box, rings a bell, and prays.

Techlet
July 26th, 2011, 07:08 AM
I must be a demon because I find myself attracted to Yumi's character in a way that few other OCs had made me feel before.

Also voting for 1.

Mike1984
July 26th, 2011, 07:21 AM
Option 2.

VelspertheCat
July 26th, 2011, 09:51 AM
3. Guess Caren really should be consulted. (Chapter 14, Connection, End -- Proceed to Chapter 15)

Unlimited Non-mance Works.

Neir
July 26th, 2011, 10:51 AM
3.Fantastic work, btw. Especially Caren's subtle smile and Shirou's resignation. Very in character.

Bloble
July 26th, 2011, 12:23 PM
3. No one's replacing SEIBA while I'm around.

Arashi_Leonhart
July 26th, 2011, 02:10 PM
Haha, who said anything about replacing Seibaa?

Anyway, I'll post each option as I get them done and then edit the choices to link to them respectively. And earn the M rating I gave it.

Alulim
July 26th, 2011, 02:14 PM
Ooooh, so you are doing separate routes...fun.

Arashi_Leonhart
July 26th, 2011, 02:20 PM
Sorta. I'm mainly relying on people using their shipping glasses; material from Chapter 15 on will still be written neutrally, but if they read 14-1 or 14-2, they can pick up on possible subtext. Maybe. Assuming I'm a good enough writer.

Alulim
July 26th, 2011, 02:38 PM
Subtext is good~

Muramasa
July 26th, 2011, 02:45 PM
Option 1 please. I like my Tohsaka fluff.

Mike1984
July 26th, 2011, 05:34 PM
Sorta. I'm mainly relying on people using their shipping glasses; material from Chapter 15 on will still be written neutrally, but if they read 14-1 or 14-2, they can pick up on possible subtext. Maybe. Assuming I'm a good enough writer.

Ah, good, so we get all the options?

Arashi_Leonhart
July 26th, 2011, 05:37 PM
Yes. Almost done with 14-1, halfway done with 14-2, will be starting on 15 once one of those is done.

ItsaRandomUsername
July 26th, 2011, 09:01 PM
I'mma vote number 3.

We need more Caren up in this biznatch.

Arashi_Leonhart
July 28th, 2011, 05:39 AM
Working on 14-2 now, though it may be a little bit. I had this one about halfway done when I posted 14 a couple days ago. Editing 14's post to include this as a link for the first option.


AN: WARNING. Shirou x Rin material. Proceed to 14-2 for Shirou x Sakura or 15 if you prefer Shirou completely chaste in a post-Fate world.

Here’s where we earn the M rating. Though like the original game, I really hope you understand that the porny bits make up the least importance of the story. Thematically, one of the reasons I’m bringing these options in at all is because I want to say that I’ve always imagined that Shirou, at the end of the Fate scenario, could still live a full life with friends, family, even lovers, and I don’t think it ever takes away from the fact that he and Saber really belong together. Shirou as a person still can have a life—which is part of the themes of UBW and HF anyway—but his idealized self, the Heroic Spirit within him, is certainly meant for greater things.

You might notice this bit is steamy, while the other option is rather romantic. This is meant to specifically be in contrast to UBW and HF, where Rin’s scene is almost comical in how awkward it is, and Sakura’s are rather blatantly sexualized. Also, most tsundere always seem to emphasize the dere-dere side when in a romantic entanglement, so I’m going tsun-tsun here.


Escaping Fate
Chapter 14-1
Back to Back


I…

Really should go over everything with Tohsaka. Considering how we’ve crashed headlong into a lot of what we’ve been doing lately, I have a sneaking suspicion Tohsaka is rather frustrated with the lack of forethought.

Thankfully, it was very clear she out of anybody here was still awake. I knocked on the door to Tohsaka’s room in the guest house. “You in here?”

“Come in.”

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJhC70dPN2Y)

Slipping in, I found Tohsaka sitting at her desk, having changed clothing to the older red-and-black ensemble I had known her to wear most of the war. She was also in her glasses, a sight that never failed to make me snicker.

“Oh shut up,” she said, a vexed sigh and glare coming my way. “We don’t all have eagle eyes like you.”

I tried covering my laughter with the back of my hand. “So…have you even tried to get any rest?”

Tohsaka’s glare continued. “I don’t want to hear it from you.” Giving me a quick one-over in that well-now-that-you’re-here-be-my-guinea-pig way, she asked, “So what is it?”

“I was, well, thinking we should go over contingency plans. I know it’s mainly my fault, but, we’ve stumbled around so much that I wanted to go over everything with you so we could plan our next step.”

There was the faint twitching of Tohsaka’s eyelid that was barely perceptible, but something in it made me take notice. The glare continued, but now there seemed to be more to it than mere annoyance. “You know,” Tohsaka said, “As much as I bother you about trying to think things through, whenever you actually plan ahead, I start to get worried.”

I felt the muscles in my face converge to the center, except for my left eyebrow, which went up. “So, I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. You really don’t make this easy, Tohsaka.”

BGM off

“So. What are you thinking, in terms of plans?”

I sighed. Though I came to her with words like contingency, I really only had one thing that truly came to mind. “I’ve been…practicing, before. With this theoretical Reality Marble. I feel I know how, but, well, I don’t have the energy and…” scratching the back of my head, I decided to just blurt it out: “Isitpossibletomakeacontractwithyou?!”*

I had expected Tohsaka to look surprised, shocked, confused, or even sly. Hell, I was expecting the last, the kind of, hey, you actually thought like a magus for once? expression.

The way her eyes seemed to flash from behind the glasses, like the glare caught from light refracting off of the lenses…seemed…

“I mean…Illya said it, right? We’re like that. He and I.” I shrugged. The concept made sense to me, though I wasn’t enough of a magus to figure out the details. If he and I were the same, or similar enough, the connection with Tohsaka that she established during the war might be open to me. Tohsaka always complained that for all that I seemed capable of doing, I was certainly deficient in prana reserves. That was never an issue for her; it was always more mundane monetary issues that seemed to hold her back.

“And?”

I blinked at her. “And…I mean, I know that I’m no Servant, but…in this situation, I thought it might be better overall. To have me act as your weapon.”

Tohsaka was silent.

I could hear the clicking of the clock on her desk and I wondered what was going through her mind. She seemed content to just stare at me, that same flash in her eyes, making me fidget in place.

This really…

“It’s the best way, isn’t it?” I asked.

Suddenly she was looking away, arms crossing her chest, and I gained the distinct impression that it was like a barrier going up. “Don’t talk like that.”

“What?”

“You’re not Archer,” Tohsaka said, her voice a growl. “Don’t start talking like him.”

I really had no idea what she was on about.

“And I’m not going to let you jump headlong into something that may make you more like him. Find another way.”

“There’s no telling how, or even if I get to reach his level,” I said. And it was true. If he really was meant to be some future me, or some possibility, the idea of him was beyond anything I could conceive at this time. The theory behind the Second Magic suggested he and I probably wouldn’t even truly be one and the same. “And even if this is one part of it, there’s nothing terribly wrong with what he was. Even if he was arrogant and annoying, in the end, he saved us, right?”

Tohsaka stood so abruptly the chair she was in toppled over. I flinched a step back when she pressed in close enough that her nose almost touched mine. “Exactly! He did exactly what’s so completely wrong about it! Sacrifice one to save more, sacrifice himself to save others. Shirou, you’re on your way to being just like him! And that’s wrong!”

My eyes narrowed and I could feel my eyebrows dip low enough that they were probably meeting above my nose. “And what of it? Do you think I’d let you or anyone else sacrifice themselves to save us? Do you think I could live with myself if that happened?”

“Shirou, you aren’t living with yourself now. You have your eyes on pursuing that goal, on being an ally of justice, on someday reaching Saber that you forget that if you die now, you won’t make it. You can’t just blindly throw yourself onto the hero’s path and expect to reach the end if you aren’t at least looking both ways first!” Now, the glasses did not seem like such an amusing addition to her look, since it seemed like they were the only things keeping the fire in her eyes from burning me to a cinder. “You need to exist in the now if you’re ever going to get to the then.”

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLuiwhdhfy8)

“I thought I was! I came here to talk about what we’re going to do about that thing that’s out to get Yumi.”

“Even that’s looking ahead,” Tohsaka said, “though you’re getting warmer.”

“Huh?”

“Now. Right now. What is the problem right here, right now?”

My eyes crossed. “Really, I don’t get what you’re—”

Then she punched me in the gut.

It really was unfair. I came to talk, and apparently she was waiting to fight. Not only was it a low-blow from a strategy standpoint, but once again, the randomness had me reeling from what exactly happened behind the thought process of a woman.

“What are you—!!” I tried to make out, but when she spun and tried to backhand me from the opposite direction, I had to raise my arms to block. The blow still was strong enough to rattle my limbs right up to the shoulders, and I could tell that Tohsaka was Reinforcing her limbs for stronger strikes now.

With her turned away, I tried kneeing the small of her back and forcing her to trip over the fallen chair, but she seemed to know I was going to do exactly that. She weaved right out of the way and continued another spin, though this time her leg swept behind mine, and as unbalanced as I was from trying to knee her, sent me stumbling back in the opposite direction.

I tried getting into a defensive stance as fast as possible, but Tohsaka pressed her attack and punched me again, hard enough that I heard the rattle of her knuckle bones against steel.

“Still no control!” Tohsaka growled. “I’ll knock you flat if I have to!”

“This isn’t going to give me rest!” I retorted.

Before I could concentrate on the blade works in my body and get them to recede, she had me backing into the wall to avoid another leg-sweep. I blocked a third punch, then waited—

Tohsaka came around with a kick again, and this time I was ready. I took the blow to my side but caught her leg against my body with my left arm, then lashed out with my right. Using her leg as leverage, I spun us around, her grounded foot sliding helplessly around, and forced her back into the wall, effectively switching our places. Looking winded, Tohsaka tried to strike my right elbow and hyperextend it, though I just leaned in to keep my leverage on her collar with my shoulder.

And then she bit my ear.

My feet tottered beneath me and I jerked back far enough to look at her incredulously. “What was—”

She jerked forward and caught my lips with hers.

Oh god.

Groaning into her mouth, I was suddenly aware of how my hips were pretty much right up against hers, and with her leg still in my grasp the position was rather compromising. The fact that this devil had just been trying to punch a hole through my sternum a moment ago gave way to a tongue invading my mouth and the heaving of our chests so close together after trying so hard to…

That tongue traced along my lower lip, and I could not help but remember a time when it had been quite actively tracing around another part of my body. That had my blood flowing for an altogether different reason, and before I realized it, I was pressing harder into her, wishing I could just spell clothing right off.

I pulled back and reached up with my free hand to pull Tohsaka’s glasses off, as they were in the way, falling lopsided down her nose and bumping against my cheeks in the process. When I looked into her eyes, no longer obscured by the eyewear, my breath hitched at her expression.

Triumph.

“Do I win again, Shirou-kun?” she asked. “Maybe now you’ll retreat to bed to…handle things?”

Oh.

That.

Did. It.

I threw the glasses over my shoulder and this time attacked her lips with mine, my free hand going right for her chest. She moaned against me and arched her back, her chest jutting out in an inviting fashion and my hand found a perfect hold on her, squeezing probably harder than was comfortable. My other hand slid up her leg from her socks and encountered bare skin; her hips moved against mine in response.

“Tohsaka,” I muttered, tugging at her lower lip with my teeth.

That seemed to remind her that she was supposed to be fighting me, and she tried to kick her leg free of my grip and push me away. She halfway managed, but I reversed the hold on her leg and pushed, and she toppled slightly.

I planted my feet between hers and pushed her up against the wall, pinning her hands above her head. Instead of resistance, though, she mewled into the wallboard and her hips wiggled in a way that elicited a single desire that overtook me.

Reaching under her skirt, I pulled her underwear aside and brushed my fingers against her.

“S-Shirou…” she half-growled, half-whimpered.

So…

I was going to win this time?

I undid my pants, shoved them open just enough, and moved.

The whimper that came from that…I don’t know if it was me or her.

Warmth accepted me and I gasped as she swayed in the same way, the skin peeking out from beneath her skirt mesmerizing as it rose, then lowered, each time coercing me to release everything inside.

Tohsaka slapped her hand against the wall, clawing at it, and I fought to do the same against her hips. She moved against me with the same rhythm as her steps in a fight, and I matched pace until we were at the same stand-still as before…

Her hand came back, brushing until it was beneath my shirt and against skin, and I leaned forward to do the same.

A harsher gasp and the sound of Tohsaka’s voice beat down my other senses. “F-fuck, Shirou…h-hurry!”

Her hips slowed and I had to move deeper and faster as she started to tremble. I groaned again, and the warmth around me reached critical. All of that heart-racing before from the fight now swerved straight into this pulse and my fingertips tingled in the same way…

Tohsaka’s cry turned completely nonsensical and I felt her clinch her hips and tighten around me. She completely stopped moving but for the toe-curling shudder that ran along her entire body.

The sound of her moan and the feeling of her exploding around me…

I thrust up into her as the shudder moved from her body to mine, and I released into her.

Shaking in sensory overload, I collapsed against the wall next to Tohsaka, trying to catch my breath. We both gasped and tried to turn so our backs were to the wall, partially succeeding and looking like we had stumbled there on accident.

BGM off

I thought about trying to rearrange my clothes, but my arms would literally not move.

Red in the face, Tohsaka was looking anywhere but me.

“S…ust…e.”

I lulled my head over, but Tohsaka was still not facing me. “What?”

“Sorry…it was just me.”

My mind broke.

I come in here to talk about Reality Marbles and magical contracts. She starts yelling at me because of Archer, not me. We fight hard enough to break bones. We have sex. She then apologizes for it being with her.

…What.

“Don’t say it…like that,” I grumbled.

BGM on (http://youtu.be/YdEa3IGr_38)

She finally looked my way out of the corner of her eye, meekly, like she was expecting I had suddenly become a monster or something. “I…don’t think the contract connection is going to work like that, anymore.” Her cheeks puffed slightly like they did when she was embarrassed and angry at the same time. “I made sure to…try…just now.”

The memory of the abandoned building in the forest came to me, and I nodded.

“But…I can help a little, now, at least, okay?”

It was true that, as my nerves settled from the…experience…I felt like there was more within me now. Again, the thoughts of the night before facing Berserker came to mind, and I couldn’t help but manage a smile. “You really are something, Tohsaka.”

She looked away again, though more into her lap than anything now. “Sorry.”

I sighed. “I am too. I don’t want you to think that…I’m using you, or something.” It was unfair no matter how you sliced it, though. Even with what we just did, we weren’t really lovers…

Though…

I’m not really sure what you could call us.

But…

My eyes flew wide open when warmth enveloped me again. I shuddered in place as Tohsaka pulsed over me for a moment, the sound and faint feeling of her breath against me the only thing I could otherwise take in.

“Toh…saka,” I muttered, my hands going up to tangle through her hair.

She paused around me, then pulled away to lick up to the top. “I can still…give you more, though,” she muttered. Then her hand wrapped around me and she gave me a fierce stare. “But you’d better be prepared to do everything to make me feel good too! So it’s more efficient, you know.”

I wanted to say something, really, especially considering the absurdity of her explaining the reasoning from where she was. But when she took me into her mouth again, I sort of lost all the remaining processing power in my brain.

BGM off



The sun had just crested the horizon and actual light was beaming into the yard when Tohsaka forced me out of her room. “Go on. I don’t think I want Yumi catching us coming out at the same time,” she said. “Go get Caren and we’ll get moving after some breakfast, okay?”

Caren. “Do I have to?” I whined.

Tohsaka grabbed me by the collar of my shirt, toppled me sideways until my head was even with hers, and put her face right up into mine. “If you think for a second that you can just come in here and do what we did and then expect me to go deal with another girl you want off your back, you’ve got another thing coming.”

I suspected this other thing might resemble a shoe either down my throat or up the other side of me…and I shut up and nodded.


Escaping Fate, Back to Back, Out



*The idea here is stolen a bit from little suggestions in all three routes of the game. Though the Grail War may be long over now, the fact remains that EMIYA was once contracted with Rin, and that kind of connection can still be manipulated. In Realta Nua Fate, they use it to work out a way to strengthen the connection between Shirou and Saber. In Realta Nua UBW Rin uses Saber’s connection to the both of them to act as something of a buffer, plus the original UBW has the…contract…they make of course. HF also suggests that Shirou and Archer, though separate existences are compatible enough for highly unlikely magical transfusions to work…




Omake

“If you’re really going to do this, you’ll need my prana. I’ll make a connection so you can draw on it.”

I nodded, and Tohsaka pressed a hand to my chest. Green light from her crest lit up in my eyes, and I closed them as Tohsaka started chanting.

My mind flashed to the sea, to a prismatic world. Schools of fish moved by and the glimmer from the sunlight above the surface painted the world like diamonds. “Tohsaka,” I muttered.

Can you see it?

I nodded. This must be her inner world…

You see it, don’t you?

Yes, I thought I just acknowledged that—

I can’t believe you!

Wait, what?

And as I turned around in this dream-world, a shark leapt out and bit me.

Fresh blood spilled everywhere, painting the ocean red.

What remains of my body floats away, and I’m unsure whether I’ve died here or died in real life…


Dead End?


Continue to Chapter 15 (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=254709&viewfull=1#post254709)

Techlet
July 28th, 2011, 06:27 AM
This chapter was hot.


“Sorry…it was just me.”

And that line just sealed the deal.

Bloble
July 28th, 2011, 09:29 AM
:O

...That was most definitely not subtext. But it was awesome anyway.

Keyne
July 28th, 2011, 09:33 AM
Here’s where we earn the M rating. Though like the original game, I really hope you understand that the porny bits make up the least importance of the story. Thematically, one of the reasons I’m bringing these options in at all is because I want to say that I’ve always imagined that Shirou, at the end of the Fate scenario, could still live a full life with friends, family, even lovers, and I don’t think it ever takes away from the fact that he and Saber really belong together. Shirou as a person still can have a life—which is part of the themes of UBW and HF anyway—but his idealized self, the Heroic Spirit within him, is certainly meant for greater things.
I don't want to argue about this. I'll just keep it to myself.

*The idea here is stolen a bit from little suggestions in all three routes of the game. Though the Grail War may be long over now, the fact remains that EMIYA was once contracted with Rin, and that kind of connection can still be manipulated. In Realta Nua Fate, they use it to work out a way to strengthen the connection between Shirou and Saber. In Realta Nua UBW Rin uses Saber’s connection to the both of them to act as something of a buffer, plus the original UBW has the…contract…they make of course. HF also suggests that Shirou and Archer, though separate existences are compatible enough for highly unlikely magical transfusions to work…
The ritual they performed in RN Fate was to completely reforge and open the connection between Shirou and Saber.

Mike1984
July 28th, 2011, 09:36 AM
:O

...That was most definitely not subtext. But it was awesome anyway.

He said that the next chapter was the one with "subtext"....

Bloble
July 28th, 2011, 09:42 AM
He said that the next chapter was the one with "subtext"....

Disappointed Sakura's not getting an H-Scene as well?

Mike1984
July 28th, 2011, 09:44 AM
Disappointed Sakura's not getting an H-Scene as well?

She is, isn't she...?

Chapter 15 is the one with "subtext".

VelspertheCat
July 28th, 2011, 10:16 AM
I don't want to argue about this. I'll just keep it to myself.

The ritual they performed in RN Fate was to completely reforge and open the connection between Shirou and Saber.

There, there. *pats*

Alulim
July 28th, 2011, 12:35 PM
...nice.

Al is pleased.

Keyne
July 28th, 2011, 12:46 PM
There, there. *pats*
Huh? ._.

Arashi_Leonhart
July 28th, 2011, 03:41 PM
I don't want to argue about this. I'll just keep it to myself.

The ritual they performed in RN Fate was to completely reforge and open the connection between Shirou and Saber.

Hey, I said could. I'm not saying this is it. This is my take on the kaleidoscope of possibilities. If you don't choose and read 14-1 or 14-2, I think it'll still keep with how you sit with a straight-up Shirou and Saber ideal.

And I'm taking the implications of the RN scenes, not the mechanics.


She is, isn't she...?

Chapter 15 is the one with "subtext".

Correct. Hopefully, if you read 14 and 15 without 14-1 or 14-2, it still plays out fine. If you read one of the options between them, 15 should still work for you and imply that the interim chapter still occurred. This is why I wanted to release them all at once, so people didn't read them one by one. Oh well.

ItsaRandomUsername
July 28th, 2011, 09:34 PM
Glad I found the time to sit down for this one.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 2nd, 2011, 06:55 AM
AN: WARNING. Shirou x Sakura material. Go back to 14-1 for Shirou x Rin or 15 if you prefer Shirou completely chaste in a post-Fate world.

Here’s where we earn the M rating. Though like the original game, I really hope you understand that the porny bits make up the least importance of the story. Thematically, one of the reasons I’m bringing these options in at all is because I want to say that I’ve always imagined that Shirou, at the end of the Fate scenario, could still live a full life with friends, family, even lovers, and I don’t think it ever takes away from the fact that he and Saber really belong together. Shirou as a person still can have a life—which is part of the themes of UBW and HF anyway—but his idealized self, the Heroic Spirit within him, is certainly meant for greater things.

You might notice this bit is romantic, while the other option is steamy. This is meant to specifically be in contrast to UBW and HF, where Rin’s scene is almost comical in how awkward it is, and Sakura’s are rather blatantly sexualized.


Escaping Fate
Chapter 14-2
Embracing You


I…

Ought to double-check on Sakura. It hadn’t really occurred to me before, but yesterday’s battle was the first time I’d seen her fight, and this whole situation had to be dredging up some thoughts from her I’m sure she’d rather not have.

Also, I could thwart her dominance in the kitchen.

The light in Sakura’s room was not on, though, so I tapped faintly on her door to see if she was up yet. When she didn’t respond, I decided I’d try peeking into her room.

The futon wasn’t even out.*

I scratched the back of my head. It looked like Sakura had not even gone to bed in the first place, and I wondered where she could have gone.

Glancing back toward the living room to see the dancing light from the television casting shadows about—Yumi seemed to be watching something more action-packed—I decided to check the bath first. Though we tended to go with the traditional way of bathing in the evening, last night we had not really had a chance to, so it made sense if Sakura was preparing a bath.

Nobody in the bath either.

I wandered back to the exterior hall and noticed out the porch that the light to the dojo was on. This was a gamble: I had a feeling that Caren might actually have not gone to sleep and was doing something in preparation instead, so it was a fifty-fifty chance that I would regret stepping in. But, well, with no sign of Sakura, the whole reason I even wanted to check in with her felt more important on my mind.

I pulled the door open and peeked in to find Sakura kneeling at the front of the room. Sighing with relief, I quietly padded in and closed the door behind me. “Sakura?”

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C2BruacWjk)

Sakura startled and looked back over her shoulder at me, as if coming out of a trance. She smiled at me, though the smile was tinged with something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. “Senpai, shouldn’t you be sleeping?”

I plopped down as she turned to face me. “I just can’t seem to settle down. What about you?”

“Too many things on my mind,” Sakura said.

Nodding, I considered my words carefully. “I wanted to talk with you about that…see how you were doing. I know that this sort of situation doesn’t bring up the greatest of memories for you.” I bit my tongue and kept from saying more; even thinking about it before hand, it just comes across way too blunt and unfortunate.

Sakura tilted her head slightly, watching me carefully. The inquisitive look on her face gave way to a faint smile, and her eyes closed. “Senpai, you worry too much. You should be sitting with Yumi if you’re going to be concerned about anyone.”

“With all that’s happened I realized I hadn’t talked with you about it. I don’t want you to feel like I’m just loading things onto your shoulders when you want nothing to do with it.”

“I don’t, and you aren’t.”

I frowned.

Sakura kept me from retorting, though. “Where are you going, Senpai? I mean, what do you intend to do after all of this?”

“I’m not really sure I know what you mean.”

“After everything is resolved with Yumi. After she graduates from high school and goes to college or finds a job or gets married. What do you plan on doing afterward?”

The question caught me completely askance and I felt my brain short-circuit from the weight. I stared dumbly at her. “I…well, uh, don’t know, exactly.”

“But your mind has been on it a lot lately,” Sakura said.

I nodded, despite myself. It had to be on my mind every time I tried reaching for my goals, tried practicing magic. When Tohsaka had returned from London and brought word of that guy Yuushi having a Sealing Designation place on him, it had slowly started to settle in on me that there were probably many people like him out there in the world right now. I had understood that logically, of course, but honestly, though I toted my ideals as something to strive for, my world was a small one. I’d never even been outside of Japan, for one thing.

Someday, when I had this down—or even, before I did, if it took too long—I would have to chase after that ideal. And that meant leaving this place.

“I came in here to talk with Saber-san,” Sakura explained, blushing faintly. “I remember how she always came in here to meditate.”

I nodded slowly. It wasn’t terribly different from how I visited Illya’s grave, I suppose. Saber just didn’t have a proper grave.

“Nee-san and I have talked about this a little, and it always made me sad, thinking about it.” Sakura’s gaze drifted up to the ceiling. “Saber-san was alone, right? The story that she pulled the sword from the stone, that she became king, it meant a lonely existence. The books on it even say she was betrayed by the few that were close to her.”

“Yeah.” It was clear as such in what I had seen of her memories, as well, the distance her knights had to her.

“But she knew that and took up the responsibility anyway,” Sakura said.

I nodded again.

“And then she met you.”

I couldn’t help but snort a little. When she put it like that, it seemed more grandiose than it really was. “I think my contribution was very slight compared to the rest of her life. Sakura, what are you getting at?”

“Do you think that…had you been at her side all that time, quietly supporting her, it might have made a difference? That she might not have learned to regret her decision enough to try wishing upon the Grail, and could have been proud of the outcome like you wanted for her?”

I stared back at Sakura, a sense of unreality assailing me. Saber had come upon that conclusion in the end, though it seemed to have been a hard-won decision on her part. I didn’t quite know what my part in it all was; Saber had said she loved me, and I certainly felt the same way, but what that did for her…I’m not sure. I had never really thought it was tied to how she felt about herself. “I…suppose it could have helped,” I said. “I just don’t really have enough to go on, though.”

A slight breath came from Sakura, like she was stifling a laugh. “Senpai, you really don’t value how important you can be to those that love you.”

“Maybe.”

BGM off

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCRhJog_2vY)

“Then I want you to understand,” Sakura said, leaning forward. “I know that someday, you’re going to pursue your dream. And that it means leaving here for long periods of time, maybe even forever. I don’t know if you’ll ever find it in yourself to partner up with someone to have help, or if you will always be alone, but…I don’t want you to make the same mistakes Saber-san did. And I don’t think she would want you to either.”

Sakura reached up to put her hands on my shoulders, and I wilted slightly at the intensity of Sakura’s expression.

“We’re here. Nee-san, Yumi-chan, Fujimura-sensei, me. We’re your support, in the way that you tried to be for Saber-san. Because we love you.”**

I flushed at those words—forward in a way that I had never heard her before—but could not help but smile back at her.

“I know that, well, your love is directed elsewhere, but I want you to understand that ours is with you. Nee-san included, though she’d never admit it,” Sakura giggled.

My eyes dropped a little. “Sorry.”

“Well, I’m not going to say it. I already asked for Saber-san’s forgiveness,” Sakura said. “So, now, I’m just going to support you. Like you’ve always tried your best to support me and everyone else.”

Soft, warm skin touched my lips, and I could not help but bring an arm up to cradle Sakura’s shoulders as she leaned over me. Her hair tickled against my cheek and I felt her hands gently push my chest until I was laying down.

“Sakura,” I whispered when she pulled away, her hand delicately brushing hair back behind her ear, “I…don’t.” I stumbled over the words. “I don’t want…to, you know…do something that…reminds you, or—” I wanted to kick myself, though, as bringing it up in the first place was probably just as likely to remind her.

The smile that she gave me was tinged with the same kind of amusement that reminded me that she was, in fact, Tohsaka’s sister. “Senpai, a girl does not want to hear those sort of things when she has her first kiss.”

My head exploded. That I had given Sakura her first kiss, but from what I understood of her home life, yet the fact that she seemed okay with this—

“The look on your face is pretty funny,” she said, before leaning down for another kiss.

When she withdrew the second time, my breath was uneven and I could not help but blush at the feeling of her body against mine. My arms acted on their own, however, and had come up to hold her to me. “I just don’t want to hurt you,” I muttered.

Sakura shook her head. “This is my decision. That is enough for me.”

Though when I felt her hands reach for the waistband of my pants, I could not help but feel my eyes bug out. “S-Sakura…”

Sakura was blushing furiously now. “Um, well, I did say I came here to ask for Saber-san’s forgiveness.” She chuckled weakly. “I know that you’ve been concerned about your prana.”

“Um, well…”

Sakura smiled again, and leaned back up to kiss me. The gentle touch of her lips made my mind turn around, though what she whispered against my skin made the rest of me tense. “I told you, I’m going to support you. Just let me worry about that, and you can worry about all the trouble we’re going to face with this demon, okay?”

“That seems…really unfair,” I said, gasping as her hand feathered across the skin just above my waist.

I’m just not sure which was unfair: the one-sidedness she perceived of this relationship or what she was doing to me.

Sakura ignored my complaint and pulled at my shirt, urging me to sit up and lift my arms so she could pull it off. When it cleared my head, she did the same with her own shirt, and I could not help but deer-in-headlights at the sight of her milky skin and the curves of her chest. Sakura grinned, though she could not hide the blush that went right up her neck and about her face.

“Um…” I tried accessing rational ideas from my brain. “…God.”

Thanks, stupid brain.

Sakura giggled—which did lovely things about her chest—and she leaned back in to press her body against mine, lips to my lips. I could not help but return the gesture, wrapping my arms fully around her and holding her tightly, even as I felt her move her hips faintly in a very tantalizing motion. The only thing that forced my hand was the lack of oxygen from the kiss, and when we drew apart, she reached down to unbuckle me.

I felt a blush mirroring hers creep up my neck. “Um, Sakura, just…it was…well—”

“Hush. I know you haven’t actually done this many times,” Sakura whispered into my ear. She leaned back just enough to first undo her own skirt, standing to pull it off, and I could not do anything but watch in fascination as she did the same with her underwear. She then knelt beside me and helped me take my own pants and underwear off. “It’ll be okay.”

I shuddered as she took me in her hand, moving slightly as her lips met mine once more, then trailed off down my neck. I gasped and I felt her smile against my skin. “O…kay,” I managed.

She moved over me, gently guided her hand as her hips moved over mine, then brought herself down as she encircled my shoulders with her arms. I felt every nerve in my body tingle and had to lean back, catching myself with my hands so I didn’t just drop straight to the floor. “Sakura,” I moaned.

Her hips wiggled slightly at that, and her cheek nuzzled against my neck as she moved over me. “Just tell me when you’re ready,” she whispered.

Honestly, I could’ve been ready right there.

Sakura gently swayed and I reached up with one arm to hold her flush against me as she moved. The faint gasping she did with each stroke demanded that I close my eyes and listen carefully, hoping to catch anything that would cause her to feel what I was.

Carefully, I gave her a little push so she leaned back before pressing my lips to her neck. The scent of faint perfume and taste of her skin was enough that I had to take hold of her completely and pull her in tighter, causing a deeper moan to escape her throat. My fingertips dug into her skin to drive her down harder with each motion, and I felt my toes curl almost painfully.

Her hips clinched, and I felt her take me in deeper, the warmth surrounding me becoming unbearably accepting.

I gasped for air over her shoulder before my muscles tightened. I barely made out, “Sakura,” before I felt the tension in me build up much faster than before and my teeth clenched, keeping any further words from me.

I watched in a haze over her shoulder as Sakura’s hips moved hypnotically over me and I felt her warm breath against my ear. “Come, Senpai,” she whispered.

And I surrendered to her command.

BGM off



My mind cloudy, I could only remember the sound of Sakura’s gasp as I released inside of her, remember the feeling of her warmth tightening around me, then the realization I was flat on my back and breathing harder than any battle might have brought me to. Sakura lay half atop me and I embarrassingly felt my body leave hers as we came down from the coital tension from before.

Birds were chirping, and I’m not exactly sure if they were outside or in my mind.

Sakura shook against me in a pleasant-feeling sense of laughter. “I just realized anyone could have walked in on us. We should be more careful.”

I think I managed a vocalization. Maybe.

“How are you feeling?” she asked, looking up at me.

I belatedly remembered why exactly we were doing this, and nodded. Though now it felt like every nerve I had was pleasantly running a marathon along my skin, I could feel the magical energy about my body doing the same. “Very much better,” I said. Though it probably sounded more like “Uree nnch tur.”

We stayed that way for a while, catching breaths and waiting for heartbeats to slow. Sakura watched me the entire time, a curious look on her face, and I wondered what it is she saw.

“I should probably think about making breakfast if anyone is going to get full prana stock,” I said, glancing at the window. Light was readily more apparent now.

“No, I’ll go prepare food. You should go and plan with nee-san and Ortensia-san about what to do next.”

I sighed. “You’ve become quite bossy in the last few years, you know that?”

A smile and a short giggle. “Then I’ll be even moreso.” She leveled me with an even stare. “Take care of everything you need to. Then come back home. Your family will be waiting for you.”


Escaping Fate, Embracing You, Out


*In a traditional Japanese home, there is no bed. Instead, a person has a folded futon that they break out every evening and fold back up every morning. The rooms in the Emiya household proper are like this; the guest room outhouse where Rin stays is Western-styled and has a bed.

**Why do I hear Sakura saying it as, “Aishite orimasu”? Damn you, Kimi ni Todoke.



Omake

“Senpai,” Sakura said, “I know that…you fell in love with Saber-san. I know that your heart will always belong to her.”

I nodded slowly.

“Then…at least let me have your body!”

Sakura dove at me head-first and we careened into the far wall of her room. I winced as the laminate and wood tried to ram into the back of my skull, and when my senses returned, Sakura had expertly managed to unzip my pants.

With her teeth.

“W-wait, S-S-Sakura, I don’t think—”

The door to the dojo shoved open, and Tohsaka stood there, looking red in the face. “Sakura!”

Any attempt at explaining the situation or trying to pry Sakura off of me went out the window when I felt a swirl of something warm and wet move over me. I groaned as Sakura glanced back to her sister. “Spying on us, nee-san?”

Tohsaka’s eyes looked ready to shoot lasers at us.

“Are you angry for Saber-san’s sake? Or for your own sake?” Sakura began pumping her hand, and I felt all reason leave my mind.

“I…just thought we’d do this fairly. I know you’ve liked him for a long time now.” I cracked my eyes open to see Tohsaka looking away at that moment, her hair flying in a huff behind her.

Sakura’s breath against me was…almost too much. I could feel her exhale play across my skin. “Well, then, why don’t we do this fairly?”

Huh?

Gritting her teeth, Tohsaka said, “Fine!” and suddenly she was on her knees next to her sister, and—

…!

This…

Just…

Sakura smiled as her sister pulsed her head up and down, then turned that smile my way. “Whoever makes him come first, two out of three times, wins?”

Tohsaka hummed something and I groaned.


Bad End?


Continue to Chapter 15 (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/788-Escaping-Fate?p=254709&viewfull=1#post254709)

Techlet
August 2nd, 2011, 07:05 AM
Bad End?

BEST END.

2 Girls 1 Pole

Arashi_Leonhart
August 2nd, 2011, 07:08 AM
I seriously blame this forum for that omake :P

Techlet
August 2nd, 2011, 07:12 AM
/unrelated

You seriously need to write that Madoka/Angel Beats crossover.

Bloble
August 2nd, 2011, 01:43 PM
Well I have to say that was the best Sakura sex scene I've ever read, including the ones in the VN!

VelspertheCat
August 2nd, 2011, 02:05 PM
100% less educated prostitutes, 50% more win?

Arashi_Leonhart
August 2nd, 2011, 04:21 PM
I'm kinda surprised Mike hasn't chimed in with comments and/or criticisms.

mangafreak7793
August 2nd, 2011, 06:30 PM
Very nice, Wonder if we can get all the heroines as well.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 2nd, 2011, 06:38 PM
Very nice, Wonder if we can get all the heroines as well.

*mind tries to wrap around Saber, Alter, Illya, Caren, Bazett, Taiga, Ayako, Caster, and Rider all in the same fic*

...My typing is not ready.

Mike1984
August 2nd, 2011, 06:41 PM
I'm kinda surprised Mike hasn't chimed in with comments and/or criticisms.

That's because you posted it at 11:50 AM. Shockingly enough, I don't tend to read pornographic stories at work....

I'm intending to read it now, though.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 2nd, 2011, 06:43 PM
That's because you posted it at 11:50 AM. Shockingly enough, I don't tend to read pornographic stories at work....

Why not? :D

Actually, I didn't really think about the time. It was four in the morning to me.

Techlet
August 2nd, 2011, 06:44 PM
*mind tries to wrap around Saber, Alter, Illya, Caren, Bazett, Taiga, Ayako, Caster, and Rider all in the same fic*

...My typing is not ready.

Do it. Just do it.

Mike1984
August 2nd, 2011, 06:55 PM
Why not? :D

Because I don't really fancy getting fired...?

I've read it now, though, and it's pretty good.


Actually, I didn't really think about the time. It was four in the morning to me.

Fair enough.

mangafreak7793
August 2nd, 2011, 06:58 PM
Do it. Just do it.

Agreed!

Arashi_Leonhart
August 2nd, 2011, 07:05 PM
I just have this horrible Whose Line sort of image:

Shirou: I open my door to find Sakura bent over and waiting.

Narrator: Change.

Shirou: I open my door to find Saber naked and touching herself.

Narrator: Change.

Shirou: I fling open the door to see Rider, who gives me a hardon by staring at my crotch--

Narrator: Change.

Shirou: I carefully slide the door open only to have Caren glomp-attack me and start ripping my clothes off.

Narrator: Change.

Shirou: I open the door and Rin punches me square in the face.

...

Shirou: WHY IS THAT ONE NOT A CHANGE?!

Techlet
August 2nd, 2011, 07:09 PM
Narrator: Change.

Shirou: I open the door to a face full of Shinji wing-wong.

*naked Shinji doing a vertical leg split with a rose between his lips*

Shinji: Emiya.

VelspertheCat
August 2nd, 2011, 07:15 PM
Narrator: Change.

Shirou: I open the do-ack! Ilya get away from me! N-no! That isn't supposed to go there!

Ilya: Change and you die, Mister Narrator~

mangafreak7793
August 2nd, 2011, 07:18 PM
Narrator: Change.

Shirou: I open the door to find Ayako molesting Rin in my dojo.

Ayako: She's all primed up and ready, Emiya.

Alulim
August 2nd, 2011, 07:26 PM
^ & ^^ I don't know which one I support more...

Neir
August 2nd, 2011, 08:46 PM
I thought they were both fantastic. Deeply emotional connections that suit the respective characters. Fantastic.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 3rd, 2011, 12:08 AM
Were you chiming in on Al's comment, Neir? Because I think he was making a joke about Illya versus Ayako/Rin.

...Oh, right, the fic. *gets back to writing*

ItsaRandomUsername
August 3rd, 2011, 12:10 AM
I support those last ones SO HARD. >:3

Techlet
August 3rd, 2011, 12:33 AM
http://i.imgur.com/fCG9h.png

mangafreak7793
August 3rd, 2011, 01:10 AM
^ I am frightened in so many ways.

Neir
August 3rd, 2011, 03:19 AM
Were you chiming in on Al's comment, Neir? Because I think he was making a joke about Illya versus Ayako/Rin....Oh, right, the fic. *gets back to writing*Yeah, no. The fic.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 3rd, 2011, 06:07 AM
Well, thanks. Chapter 15 in a couple of days...assuming I don't keep getting derailed by distractions.

Neir
August 3rd, 2011, 09:42 AM
Take your time. This is quality.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 7th, 2011, 02:22 AM
Escaping Fate
Chapter 15
Ortensia Bloom


Regardless to how uncomfortable she made me, it was important to talk with Caren about everything that had been going on. If we were going to make it through this, I didn’t want us to be enemies like it had turned out before.

The final unoccupied Japanese-styled room had been where Sakura had directed the priestess, so I reluctantly made my way there and rapped lightly against the door. “Caren…san. Are you awake?”

When no response came, I dared to peek in, wondering if my karma would allow this dangerous decision to go by without retribution. But the room was empty.

Actually, that wasn’t entirely true. A folded set of bandages lay on the desk, implying she had been in here at least long enough to treat any wounds she may have suffered. I couldn’t tell if she had actually slept any, as the futon was unaccounted for.

I considered the places in the house she might be, though now I had an odd suspicion. Closing the door behind me, I headed for the porch, cringed as the early-morning air was still quite warm, and when I had grass beneath my feet, glanced up to the roof of the house.

Yep.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=en6BDzN3vDY)

Sighing, I took a little run, jumped off the lip of the porch, grabbed the edge of the rooftop, and hauled myself up. Though I could feel my prana returning bit by bit, such a thing left me a little sore as my body protested from overuse. “What are you doing up here?” I complained.

Caren shrugged. “I have been attempting to discern changes in my body to detect the presence of—”

“What the hell are you wearing?!” I interrupted.

She glanced down at one of my t-shirts hugging her body. “Did you expect me to frolic around your house in bloodstained clothing? Sakura-san quite nicely took my clothing to wash and provided me with something to wear until they were clean.”

“I’m VERY sure she didn’t give you my clothing!”

“Quite right.” She smiled sweetly. “The clothing she provided was her own, but it proved too loose on my body. I went to ask you for alternatives earlier, but you were not in your room.”

I glared. “If Sakura’s clothing was like that, I can’t imagine mine being any better.”

“Actually, the way this shirt is made tightens around my shoulders in a comfortable fashion.” She tilted her head. “Isn’t it something every man wishes to see, their girl in his t-shirt? Should I not take my trousers off as well for added effect?”*

“NO IT ISN’T AND YOU AREN’T MY GIRL!” I shouted. Probably waking the neighbors.

Caren reached out and patted me on the cheek, like I was an adolescent child. “There, there. No need for you to get angry. I’ll change back once my clothes are clean and dry.”

I sighed, and realized why Issei would actually continue to wear glasses instead of contacts: they were a good thing to push up the bridge of your nose and hide your face while you recover your composure. Unfortunately, I had no such device and could only fume until it felt like the steam coming out of my ears receded.

I will never be able to prepare myself for this person. I had a hard enough time on normal women.

“I do believe it is on the move,” Caren said. “I feel the sense within me changing; it grew stronger earlier, but has since started to recede a greater distance from where it began.”

Business. That, I could get behind. “So, maybe it was on one side of us, but is now going elsewhere? Like, it was on the far side of Miyama-chou and is now going for Shinto?”

Caren nodded. “That makes sense. Though it disturbs me that it would approach any closer to the Church, when it would intuitively understand that such a place is dangerous.”

That did sound like an ominous sign.

“Are you feeling well enough? I assume you wish to accompany me in seeking it out.”

Nodding, I looked down at my feet. Yumi would be almost directly beneath me. “I want to get it now, before it hurts anyone else, and while it is far from Yumi.”

“Then we should leave soon.”

I nodded again and hopped down back onto the lawn. “Give us a couple of hours and we should have some food as well. Make sure to be as prepared as we can.”

“Shirou Emiya.”

I looked back up at the priestess, and she stared down at me evenly.

“I am the daughter of Kirei Kotomine.”

…Will never understand women like her. Instead, I felt a brain aneurism coming on.

“Much of what you are is due to his actions. And I am a product of those actions as well. I wanted you to know, so you understand that I am not trying to hide anything from you, or hinder your way.”

In the faint light of morning, Caren seemed somehow more solemn, the light catching her in a way that screamed anything but Kirei Kotomine. “I never thought you were, and have never considered you an enemy.” I nodded at that, to myself. “And knowing who your old man was doesn’t change that, you know.” Though it might explain the feeling of discomfort I got around her. Genetic? “Maybe, in spite of that, I’d want to doubly make sure you’re alright.”

I didn’t have the right to tell her not to be concerned with the sins of her father, though.

Ugh, the very thought of that connection made me feel nauseous.

“Then you do want me to be your woman,” she said, delightedly. “Even though our fathers hated each other, and you hated mine.”

“I think I’m fine without, thanks,” I said quickly, flatly, and before she could conjure up any further ideas. “I’m going to see about food now.”

I fled back into the house, but not without seeing the faint drop in her smile, to a more melancholic expression.

…Really, now?

BGM off



Sakura had beaten me to the store, though, and kicked me out of the kitchen and any attempts to help. To compromise, I went about trying to dry Caren’s clothing faster by pulling out a space heater from the storage shed and settling it in front of her out-to-dry robe-dress-thing.

She was not going to go out in my clothing, no way.

We all settled in to a quick breakfast, Caren in newly-cleaned clothing and thankfully out of mine. Yumi turned the television to the news, and we watched carefully for any sign that unusual occurrences associated with the demon might have cropped up.

“Um, I know you’re gonna go look for that thing today,” Yumi said carefully, once we were well into the meal. “Are you all going to be okay?”

Tohsaka bumped her shoulders with Yumi’s and grinned. “What an odd question, to ask if we’ll be okay. I wonder who gave you the impression that ‘doing something extremely dangerous’ and ‘okay’ were not mutually exclusive?”

Stop looking my way, devil woman.

It failed to lighten Yumi’s mood, though, and the girl continued to look a little harried. “But, you know, between this and that guy that attacked us here…”

I sighed. “We managed that fine, though, right?”

Tohsaka’s eyes narrowed suddenly, and Yumi fell silent at the expression. I did too.

BGM on (http://youtu.be/9V2ohFtiYV0)

Sakura asked, “What?”

“I’m pretty sure that the Dead Apostle, what’s-his-name-Dmitri, he was referring to that convergence of wishes in Yumi, the ones that were creating the demon. Perhaps the demon had even already attached itself to her by then.”

“That makes sense,” I said carefully, glancing at Yumi. When I turned my gaze back and gave Tohsaka a closer look, I felt my face fall. “You just thought of something really bad, huh?”

She turned to Caren. “You said Shinto-side of the city, possibly, right?”

“Yes.”

“We have to go, now.”

Tohsaka stood, and Caren and I both followed suit. Sakura looked on, carefully, watching her sister, then her eyes widened.

Tohsaka nodded at her sister. “You’ll be okay here, right?”

Sakura looked my way, and I met her stare evenly. She nodded. “I’ll make sure Yumi is fine.” She mouthed be careful my way when Tohsaka and Caren were already heading for the door.

I nodded, then reached out and squeezed Yumi’s shoulder. “Be back soon.”

I went to stand, but she reached up and grabbed my hand. “Um. Here, wait a second.” She reached under the table, then pulled out a rolled length of red cloth. “You always get hurt, so, keep this with you.”

Taking the cloth, I noticed that Sakura was looking at Yumi with interest. But I couldn’t say anything as Tohsaka popped her head back into the room. “Hey, we need to move!”

I gave Yumi a quick hug of the shoulders, pocketed the bandage, and nodded. “Thanks.”

Squeezing Sakura’s shoulder on the way out, I chased after Tohsaka and Caren.

BGM off



“The Dead Apostle, he was going on about how it was like the Grail, what he sensed at the house,” Tohsaka explained as we ran for the bridge.

“Yeah.”

“If that thing is evil like you say the Grail was, what might it be attracted to that has ties to Grail magic?” Tohsaka shook her head. “We even thought of it immediately after that guy attacked the house.”

I bit my tongue. “Illya.”

“Her body was made to house the Grail magic, and that thing might want to consume what is left of her—”

I waved off further words while simultaneously cringing at the thought. I did not want to imagine what we could find if Tohsaka was right about this. “Then let’s hurry.”

Tohsaka’s expression fell as I moved to outpace her. She muttered something and looked off to one side.

“What?”

“Just…I just want you to be prepared. I don’t like it when I see you so upset over everyone else’s pain,” she said.

Yeah. I guess I needed to work on that. If this whole idea of who Archer was actually fit, I should try to face things more stoically like he did, perhaps. “Wanna hear a joke?”

“AGHHHH!”

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KteVd1NX3_4)

Tohsaka and I both skidded to a stop as Caren fell to her knees behind us, and I watched in equal parts horror and fascination as her body did something mine had not so long ago.

It looked as if she spouted swords from her skin.

Upon a closer look, it was apparent they were not swords, though they still looked blade-like and sharp. They pierced her body from within along her arms and shoulders, in the same places where blood had stained her clothing before.

I crouched down next to her. “Caren?”

She shuddered briefly and was whispering something in a language I didn’t know. When Tohsaka stepped to her other side, she looked up at us. “It’s closer, yeah.”

“Are you going to be okay?” I asked.

“Shirou Emiya, this is my job. I am used to this kind of pain.” She shuddered again, then brushed her hair back out of her eyes and stood, stiffly. “But with this level, it is clear the thing is out in the open and stronger than before.”

Stronger?

…Damn.

“Shirou, prana?” Tohsaka asked.

I nodded. I felt a lot better from before, a lot better than I should have considering how dry I’d run myself last time. “Okay.”

“Then, let’s go.”

I looked to Caren, who nodded.

The bridge was before us. Not much further now.

BGM off


Escaping Fate, Ortensia Bloom, End


*Caren confirmed as Hitagi Senjougahara-style troll.

Alulim
August 7th, 2011, 02:27 AM
Caren inherited the troll gene.

lethum
August 7th, 2011, 02:31 AM
I like! x Many times.

Bloble
August 7th, 2011, 02:32 AM
I keep waiting for her to say "Rejoice, Emiya Shirou!"...

mangafreak7793
August 7th, 2011, 02:32 AM
But will she turn Tsun/troll for Shirou though?

That is the question.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 7th, 2011, 02:33 AM
I keep waiting for her to say "Rejoice, Emiya Shirou!"...

Yeah...I don't really have much to go on with her speech rhythm and style, so I keep falling back on serious-like-Kotomine by default. And then it comes out something like Hitagi from Bakemonogatari, as noted.

Alulim
August 7th, 2011, 02:43 AM
Hitagi from BakemonogatariYou can never go wrong with her.

mangafreak7793
August 7th, 2011, 02:48 AM
^ Agreed.

Techlet
August 7th, 2011, 03:03 AM
Want Caren route now.

It should be called Sins of the Fathers.


I keep waiting for her to say "Rejoice, Emiya Shirou!"...

"Rejoice, Emiya Shirou! For I will be your woman. You will know only the touch of my hands on your bound and bared body. I will not be the girl that you want me to be. No, I will be the only woman you'll ever need."

ItsaRandomUsername
August 7th, 2011, 03:09 AM
Want Caren route now.

You up for the challenge?

Techlet
August 7th, 2011, 03:10 AM
Shoubu?!

mangafreak7793
August 7th, 2011, 03:11 AM
Want Caren route now."

Agreed.

ItsaRandomUsername
August 7th, 2011, 03:12 AM
Agreed.

An Optional Caren-scene definitely has some rad appeal~

Arashi_Leonhart
August 7th, 2011, 03:14 AM
Well, I'm certainly not going to write Caren-route, not until I actually play F/HA. Otherwise, it'd really be just like writing Hitagi smut and that wouldn't really fit though Hitagi does make me hnnnnngggg.

ItsaRandomUsername
August 7th, 2011, 03:19 AM
Boy, you need to get on that like white on rice.

Or brown, depending on the variety of grain. :p

mangafreak7793
August 7th, 2011, 03:22 AM
Well, I'm certainly not going to write Caren-route, not until I actually play F/HA. Otherwise, it'd really be just like writing Hitagi smut and that wouldn't really fit though Hitagi does make me hnnnnngggg.

Does not mind a Caren with a Hitagi personality.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 7th, 2011, 03:22 AM
Boy, you need to get on that like white on rice.

Except it isn't all translated, right? I HATE having something partially completed and then being forced to wait. Especially on something I know already I'm gonna love. Fate/Zero's anime is going to KILL me.

And my Japanese is only good enough to get me into trouble, not good enough to actually read fluently with.

ItsaRandomUsername
August 7th, 2011, 03:26 AM
Except it isn't all translated, right? I HATE having something partially completed and then being forced to wait. Especially on something I know already I'm gonna love. Fate/Zero's anime is going to KILL me.

Quoted for truth. ;__;

Techlet
August 7th, 2011, 03:27 AM
Well, I'm certainly not going to write Caren-route, not until I actually play F/HA. Otherwise, it'd really be just like writing Hitagi smut and that wouldn't really fit though Hitagi does make me hnnnnngggg.

Senjougahara Hitagi, wielder of Unlimited Stationery Works, invoked with the lines:

"Tsundere service."

Arashi_Leonhart
August 7th, 2011, 03:31 AM
*twitches*

So...moe...

Techlet
August 7th, 2011, 03:34 AM
"Don't be mistaken, Emiya-kun. It's not like I'm worried about you. But know that if you do not return, I'll never forgive you."

mangafreak7793
August 7th, 2011, 03:41 AM
*Add Shoving a stapler in his mouth for good measure.*

Arashi_Leonhart
August 7th, 2011, 03:41 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DY3T7evSc3s

Can't...look...away...from...Hitagi...now...

Dammit don't have Bakemonogatari handy right now...

Arashi_Leonhart
August 10th, 2011, 04:17 AM
Indexed, and now with all chapters (including unreleased ones) listed. Interlude 15-1 in a while.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 10th, 2011, 08:16 AM
Special Triple Post: Tsubame Gaeshi!

AN: Yes, I made stuff up in this chapter. I’ve tried to dodge what I can when I can, though, when it comes to putting my spin on canon. Anyway.


Escaping Fate
Interlude 15-1
The Philosopher’s Stone

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7B9pom2D8JA)

Sakura worked on cleaning the dishes after the three of them had charged on out to Shinto, watching from the kitchen as Yumi surfed the channels of the television in the search for entertainment.

Really, she over-cleaned the dishes in an effort to keep her mind off of what could be going on beyond the walls of the house.

Unfortunately, within ten minutes, the dishes were about as sparkly-clean as any amount of polishing would manage. Sakura replaced her apron on its hangar and settled in next to Yumi as the girl decided on Nodame Cantabile, an anime she had been recording.

“Yumi, you gave se…Shirou the Shroud?” Sakura asked.

Yumi shrugged. “Not all of it. It was way too long for me, though, so I cut part of it off.”

Sakura shook her head. “I have a feeling someone should scold you about respecting ancient and rare things.”

“You’re not going to?”

“You might have noticed, but I’m terrible at scolding people. We’ll leave that to Rin nee-san.”

Yumi started the show, and Sakura watched alongside her, wondering why the titular character Nodame sounded familiar.*

BGM off

The sound of rattling wood suddenly drowned out all other sound, and the television went out. Sakura’s eyes went wide as she glanced about the room. “The field—!”

The boundary field surrounding the Emiya home had alerted them of danger.

Sakura pulled Yumi to her feet. “Hallway, now, and stay behind me. Tell me if you see anything behind us.”

Yumi nodded. She repressed the urge to point out that when Sakura wanted, she could sound very much like Rin.

They stepped out into the hallway and headed for the back porch, Sakura keeping an eye out at all times for trouble. She thought of the timing of this, and the likelihood of it actually being the demon—something that seemed unlikely, as she did not think such a creature would set off the alert from the boundary field. Too, she trusted that her sister and Shirou would not have let it slip past them nor let it defeat them so simply and swiftly.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jf_1qZ62Fhs)

Rounding the corner, a figure stood before them, and Sakura halted so fast Yumi slid right into her shoulders in the process. “Who are you?” Sakura asked when the man made no move.

He stood there, silent, and Sakura felt her skin crawl. His hair, short, was unnaturally pale, not at all like an aged person but almost cat-whisker-like; his eyes were also a pale grey, giving him the look of a madman as he scanned over her like she were being appraised for auction.

When Yumi grabbed the back of her blouse and pulled, desperately, Sakura understood.

“Setsuka Yuushi,” Sakura said, recalling the name of Yumi’s tormentor. “You don’t belong here. Get out.”

The man stood there, staring at the two, and then reached into his pocket. “My property. You’ll return it.”

“Yumi is not your property,” Sakura said.

He withdrew a scalpel from his pocket.

“Cos-i aequalis cosh-unum!”**

Simultaneously raising her left hand and pulling Yumi down with her right, Sakura crouched and speared the intruder with her magic. Shirou and Rin’s description of Yuushi’s powers suggested that all she could do was remove the od from his body and hope for the best; grabbing something to hit him with or engaging him in a fist fight would probably not go well for her.

Especially because she abhorred violence.

She felt prana drain from the man, who pitched forward and hit the floor like a stiff mannequin.

Taking a deep breath, Sakura turned back to Yumi, who crouched on the floor behind her. “Are you alright?”

Yumi stared over Sakura’s shoulder, and Sakura felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.

“Secare.”

For reasons that escaped her—but she was absolutely grateful for—Sakura thought of what Shirou had described when he had explained his involvement in the Holy Grail War. She remembered how he had been stalked by Lancer in the very same location, and how he had not thought about anything but getting clear of his attacker.

Sakura scooped Yumi up in her arms and dove right through the sliding door, trying her best to put a burst of prana into her shoulder as she did so. The glass broke from the impact and both girls went tumbling out into the yard.

Pain.

Cuts from the glass pierced her body, one tearing a line right beneath her right eye and across her cheek almost all the way to her ear. Another tore into the sleeve of her blouse and cut her upper arm.

A deep gash on her back, not from glass.

“Sakura-nee!” Yumi cried.

Sakura had dropped Yumi, though the girl looked unhurt. With little thought, she reached up, took Yumi’s hand, pulled them both upright, and bolted for the house entryway.

BGM off



Yuushi watched them go, still shuddering from the drain of prana.

Shuddering in delight.

It works, it works, it works! This is brilliant, so perfect a design!

He mentally rearranged his interior structure, like reordering the same chemicals that made up a compound to go in a different order, or like removing the stone blocks that made up a building’s foundation and then placing them back under in a different order…

Like removing the organs, then returning them in a different order.

Prana.

Life.

He had the design, so perfect, so…

Sublime.

With a new circuit in place, he palmed his scalpel and gave chase.



BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olfI2LZHt5Q)

“Sakura-nee!”

Sakura tried desperately to quell the tearing pain she felt in her back, arm, and cheek. Upon nearing the intersection that led alternatively to Ryuudou Temple, the school, and the shopping district, she pulled Yumi in behind one house off to the side, a house she rarely saw occupied when she went by in the mornings. Panting, more from pain, she cradled her arm and finally looked down to see the red now staining her sleeve.

Yumi took the waistcoat she wore off and put it around Sakura’s shoulders. “What happened?” she asked, though Sakura could make out the distancing she felt in the question. It was probably just too much for the girl to process, all of what had happened earlier and now the addition of the one person she truly feared. Anything that came out of her now would probably sound extremely logical and remote.

“It…I’m not sure,” Sakura admitted. “That should’ve pulled enough prana out of his body at once to make him pass out.” She shook a little. “I’m really no good with other magi, though…it might have gone wrong.”

“What do we do now?”

Cringing as she put her arms through the vest and buttoned it tightly to her—not difficult, as Yumi was many sizes smaller than she was—Sakura moaned, “We should try and find a safe place and call senpai and nee-san.” She shook her head. “No, a phone call could distract them…um.” She shivered a little, and hoped that she wasn’t starting to feel the effects of shock. “That man, they said he does things…I don’t know of anything to stop him myself.”

Yumi nodded. “I don’t think we have any choice. Shirou and Rin would be angry with us if we didn’t come to them.”

Sakura nodded wearily. She was too pained and unfocused to make any kind of argument.

Glancing out from behind the house back up the street, Yumi now pulled Sakura out as they raced toward the bridge and Shinto.

BGM off



BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97XDOdgGoTs)

Yuushi caught sight of them, and hurried his pace. He tried his best, though, not to look like he was chasing after them, as it was daylight and people might be suspicious if they saw first a set of girls running, then a man chasing after them.

It hardly mattered, though.

Now, he knew, that older girl was no match for him. Even if she could drain him of his current od—

He had spares.

He was many times the magus she was.

Literally.

And when he had the test subject back, he would be able to show it to the Association…

Dissect it, remove it, copy it, emulate it, destroy it, whatever it took—

Designated Philosopher or not, he would be able to show them his work without further sacrifice to himself.

BGM off


Escaping Fate, Interlude 15-1, Out


*Ayako Kawasumi, gyabo. I ask of you, are you my seiyuu?

**Forgive my Latin. Spell invocation messing with a complex logarithm equation. Whatever the hell that is. My schooling is in English, and I’m totally cool with pulling something out of nowhere if it has to do with numbers.

alguLoD
August 10th, 2011, 08:58 AM
Heh.

I've always been surprised that no-one's ever thought to weaponize or further expand upon Shirou's ability to create fake circuits - which if I'm guessing correctly is basically what you're doing here with Yuushi?

Techlet
August 10th, 2011, 10:26 AM
Ho man. The bastard's back. I wish he'd get a messy death.

ItsaRandomUsername
August 10th, 2011, 02:00 PM
Oh God, Yuushi's back.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 10th, 2011, 06:09 PM
I've always been surprised that no-one's ever thought to weaponize or further expand upon Shirou's ability to create fake circuits - which if I'm guessing correctly is basically what you're doing here with Yuushi?

Not exactly...

ringlhach
August 10th, 2011, 07:26 PM
I don't think they're fake so much as in a magazine, like bullets. They're all real, it's just that he has a set amount that he can actively use at a time, and while he's using those, the others are either dormant or recharging. [/WAG]

alguLoD
August 10th, 2011, 11:42 PM
... Well, that'd certainly be in keeping with Nasu's tendency to introduce ludicrously powerful h4x abilities whenever he felt like it.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 11th, 2011, 02:11 AM
Also, now, slowly going through and adding a soundtrack. Have the first two posts done, will get to them all eventually.

Pata Hikari
August 11th, 2011, 02:30 AM
Pretty cool.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 11th, 2011, 06:48 AM
ArrrggdoneIhavenolife

Also, I hate myself for what I put in Back to Back. But I couldn't help it.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 12th, 2011, 11:40 PM
Escaping Fate
Chapter 16
Shooting Hundred Heads


BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDDoqAksEn0)

It lurked in the shadows of the forest.

The area surrounding the graveyard was unfortunately isolated from the rest of town by numerous trees. The only saving grace it seemed was that Illya’s grave was in plain sight from the road leading up to the Church, and foot traffic there was, while irregular, present.

The beast was beyond, out of sight, though even I could feel its malice.

“Why isn’t it just charging in?” I asked. “Should it have awareness like that, to be cautious?”

“It has awareness,” Caren said. “But usually they react viscerally, on pure emotion. This…is strange.”

I’m not sure, but…

“Like it’s waiting for us,” Tohsaka said, reading my thoughts.

Caren nodded. She fingered a set of Black Keys and glanced back toward the street. “To have form, it is already strong enough to warp the minds of any passerby and even possess them. But this is acting…unlike what it should be. The demon image of children, of minds like Yumi and those before her should act like one. A monster, a terror.”

But there it waited, shadow in the shadows, still meters beyond the clearing we stood in.

BGM off



It felt their presence.

Rin Tohsaka. Shirou Emiya.

It bore his malice.

Zouken Matou.

It suffered their desires.

Numerous, from nearly adults to barely teenagers.

It sensed her magic.

Ilyasviel von Einzbern. The Grail of the Third Magic.

It wanted it all.

But the malice kept it and the desires deemed it.

The most dangerous one and the most irrelevant one.

Caren Ortensia. The memories of Yumi recalled out her name.

Kill her.



BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLDYPFfnm3g)

As Caren stepped forward, the shadows moved.

“Scatter!” Tohsaka shouted.

Caren went to my left, Tohsaka right. I made a charge for the shadow down the middle, bringing the anti-demon Shamshir-e to mind—

Before my eyes, the shadows seemed to grow, take shape, and shot out of the cover of summer canopy.

An undulating mass of darkness, textured, like black static given shape.

It rose like a wave and rushed past, completely ignoring me and charging Caren. With a single bound, it was beyond my reach, leaking something that smelled like sulfur burning the grass in its wake.

The priestess tossed two handfuls of blades into the mass, which crunched and screeched like dying cicadas.

“Dammit!” I tried twisting around, Tracing Shamshir-e Zomorrodnegar and planting it in the ground, bracing my foot against the flat. I kicked off from the blade and pulled, dashing at the shadow’s mass—

Caren tried to jump clear, but the darkness consumed her.

It swarmed her.

It looked…

“And knowing who your old man was doesn’t change that, you know. Maybe, in spite of that, I’d want to doubly make sure you’re alright.”

For a brief moment, I thought of Kirei Kotomine, smirking, standing over the darkness of Angra Mainyu as it consumed his daughter—

“Shirou!” Tohsaka called.

I spared a glance her way: she had ascended a tree at the edge of the clearing and was now a good four meters above me, giving her a clear view of what was going on. She raised her hand and I saw the glint of color between her fingertips.

“Neun, Acht, Sieben! Stil, schießt Beschießen, Erschie Ssung!”

A sense of déjà vu overwhelmed me, recalling a time when Tohsaka jumped from a tree with those exact same foreign words.

Ice rained down on the darkness before us, and as I moved in, raising the emerald-studded sword in my hands, I could see it.

This was not just amorphous shadow, but tiny shadows amidst one another.

Tohsaka’s spell froze some in place, and I cut what was frozen with the scimitar glinting green. The shadows flinched and undulated, shifting away from the conception of their bane, and from within their grasp I saw the flash of white hair, the faint pale skin of a hand.

I cut a swath, and reached as far in as I could.

“Caren!”

Unable to make it completely in, I was relieved when I saw Caren’s hand reach out for mine, struggling against the wave of black that separated us. The mass was ugly, horrible, like bugs swarming, crawling and rolling and—

Fangs from within and fangs from without suddenly opened, as if the mass formed a giant mouth with fangs, and each individual worming shadow bared fangs of their own. Even without eyes, they seemed to look at me eagerly, salivating, ready to consume and feast.

No.

“The horned demon’s fang cries out in agony…”

The squealing masses all seemed to silence in disbelief.

I flooded prana into the scimitar in my hand, and did what I could to Reinforce my body—

Boom.

BGM off



The blast was nowhere near the level of Caladbolg, for which I was thankful. As an anti-demonic weapon, Shamshir-e was built around the cutting of elemental creatures, not material ones, so Breaking it was probably more akin to a prana burst than an actual explosion. Still, I felt pain tear into my hand and arm and enough of a push that I not only caught Caren’s arm with my other arm, but slammed full-force into her. We were flung completely through the screaming masses of shadows and out the other side, tumbling further into the graveyard.

“AGHHHHH!” I heard myself scream.

In the haze of pain, I could not help but think that was a bad omen.

My eyes opened to the clear blue sky, as if it were mocking the horrific pain I felt in my left arm. I forced myself to look down, first to check on Caren, who was sprawled just beyond my reach, and I felt relief to see her still whole, still breathing.

Then my arm, which, as I expected, now looked something more like Gae Bolg, blood red and thorny. Thankfully, still whole as well.

I glanced at the shadow, which now resembled a piece of modern art: textured black wave with a huge hollow circle of negative space smack in the middle of its body.

“Shirou!” I heard Tohsaka’s voice again.

When I looked her way, she was not looking at the demon. Instead, she was looking horrified toward the road, and I thought maybe someone had spotted us. I had, after all, just caused a grenade explosion in the morning hours of a weekday. I followed her gaze back to the road—

Sakura and Yumi stood there. Sakura had a deep gash along her face.

I staggered to my hands and knees, wincing as my left arm took on weight and jabbed every nerve in my shoulder with the sensation of a thousand needles. I groaned and tried to wobble in Caren’s direction to see if she was even conscious.

And found her staring up at the sky, hands clasped together, saying something in what I assumed was Latin.

She was praying.

…Well, at least she wasn’t a fake priestess, I suppose.

“You’re crazy, Shirou,” Caren finally said in words I could understand. In fact, I understood them better than most, since I often got those exact words in that exact combination. “And there’s ringing in my ears.”

Tohsaka made it to us and immediately grabbed Caren, pulling her up. “It’s moving again!” she warned.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSyaENS3_2s)

I glanced back to find the black mass reconstituting, filling in on itself to reform the mass it lost. Something about its tiny shapes, though, made me turn back to look over my shoulder, and I saw Sakura now with her attention on it—

The absolute terror in her eyes, with the blood running down her cheek a distorted rendition of tears, and it hit me.

It had awareness greater than a mere demon to terrorize and distort.

Caren said she thought it had been on the residential side of town first, and then it had come here.

Like bugs crawling over one another—

Or worms.

This thing, this demon, had consumed upon darkness before coming here.

The sensation of my blood chilling was enough to get my mind off the pain in my arm, and I pulled myself upright. “What happened?!” I shouted Sakura and Yumi’s way.

Sakura tore her eyes off the amorphous thing. “Setsuka Yuushi attacked us!”

I heard Tohsaka make a guttural sound that I’d never heard from her before as she pulled Caren up and put the priestess’ arm around her shoulders. “Bastard. Should’ve crawled under a rock where nobody’d find him.”

“Shirou!” Yumi shouted.

Even before turning, I knew that the shadow had returned to a previous, unnervingly monstrous sight. Flexing my left hand—it still moved, thankfully—I planted myself between the girls and the demon-turned-demon. “Let’s get out of here.”

“Shirou, you can’t do that when saying let’s,” Rin hissed.

Sakura and Yumi made it to us, and with a closer look it was readily apparent that Sakura had more than just a cut face. “He attacked us right after you left…I think we lost him just before crossing the bridge,” Yumi said.

A magus that attacked in broad daylight, and a demon ready to do the same. We had to get away from here; even the church was just not isolated enough.

“Einzbern Castle,” Tohsaka said, again reading my mind. “A taxi will be faster than any magus is on foot. At least until we get to the forest edge.”

The mass of shadows withdrew upon itself, like the tide of the sea withdrawing before a great wave.

“Go,” I said. “I’ll meet you there.”

Yumi pulled at Sakura’s hand and Tohsaka, with a much put-upon sigh, half-carried Caren. They took toward the street and down toward Shinto, where they could find a car.

I stared at the writhing blackness, and shook my head.

Archers suited for independent action, huh?

BGM off



The extra got away.

Shirou Emiya still here.

Then…

Malice rose up to control malice, and the desire to kill consumed it.



BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRywp1o2P9I)

Once more, looking less like a monster and more like a wave of consumption, the demon reared back and prepared to strike.

“Removing stops.”

If this was infused with Crest Worms, I was going to have to do more than swing an anti-demonic sword at it.

If this was now an extension of Zouken Matou, I was going to have to shoot it a hundredfold times.

I charged right past the creature as it swept in at me, ducking just below an arm-like wave that tried to clothesline me as I did so. I ran as hard as I could for the trees, and the thing made the same acidic-oozing noise as it moved across the grass after me, now chirping like a perverted sense of laughter.

Sprinting between trees, I prepared them within my mind’s eye.
Demon-Zouken-worm-shadow-mass-creature gave chase, dividing and swaying itself between the narrower confines of the forest, avoiding the tree trunks and masses of bushes that sought to get into its way.

The Greek demigod might have had a bow to shoot many times at once, and heated swords to cauterize stumps, but I did not. I was also not a Greek hero.

I was Japanese.

“Full Trace, release!”

The god Susanoo defeated the Orochi by bringing its heads through gates by which he could easily cut them. Out in the open, the demon could hit me from any angle, but between trees and foliage, it was limited in how it could move and what direction it could take.

I didn’t have the power to do it all at once, so I would have to work my way down systematically.

Blades formed and shot out as my mind released them, slamming into the creature as it passed by every tree, wove past every bush and thicket. I kept imagining Gilgamesh as he rained terror down on Saber and I, and for a moment I felt like I could perhaps thank the King of Heroes.

Moment over.

The demon screeched with each blade thrust into its mass, not slowing but bleeding something sulfurous each time. I groaned with each blade, the drain of prana on top of running at full speed making me feel light-headed. Even with recovery time and help, this was just never going to be something I got used to, even if each time I brought a sword to mind, it became easier and easier to shift from thought to seeming.

I glanced over my shoulder to see the demon narrowing itself, now no longer a wave but a jet of liquid, trying to make its profile more difficult to strike. The way its body undulated made it look even more like a giant worm made up of worms, and I felt bile rise into my throat.

No, this time, you were going to be the one fucked.

I kept up the barrage, blades flying out of the sky to strike the demon, cut its body, pierce each and every one of those fanged mouths—

“The fourth tail is my domain.”

Tracing the bow in one hand, I brought that same legend to mind. It might even delay this thing further, though I doubt I could make it destroy the demon completely.

And when the demon lobbed part of itself at me, fanged terrors of shadow and all, I knew I would have to.

I blunted one aside with the bow and slashed at another two with the sword, then made for a narrower path. I would have to hit it head-on…

“Take the fire of my light into battle with beasts—”

It was not the katana so many seemed to associate it with, but the tsurugi of old, like a thicker, longer Chinese Jian. I nocked it to the bow, took a deep breath—

Another gibbering mass of shadow flew just over my head, and I leapt up in its wake, spinning in place.

“Kusanagi!”

And from the fourth tail of that serpent in the legend, Susanoo took a sword that cut the grass with arcs of wind.

Wind twisted about the sword as it flew, hard enough to propel me back meters before I tumbled to the ground and crashed into the bush. I watched with detached interest, though, as it embedded right into the front tip of the demon’s throng and, instead of cutting—

Sent wind into the shuddering darkness.

BGM off

The mass pancaked as the force of the gale thrust the demon’s form flat and back the way we had come. It spun awkwardly in the air and then soared like a wobbled Frisbee, then out of my line of sight as the forest enveloped it.

I moaned. Out of prana. Again.

Coughing once into the dirt, I picked myself up—and regretted it. The pain in my left arm, no longer shunted aside by the more immediate concern of death to the rest of me, now shot right up my neck in full force. I felt something in me pop, heard something like the draining of water in a plugged ear sound off deep in the back of my head, and I shuddered.

“Uuuaaahh…”

I gripped my left arm and tried to get my eyes to focus.

At least, this time, I could limp back on my own.



The darkness gathered unto itself, piecing itself together, until it could swim amidst itself as before.

Shirou Emiya.

The name sounded like whispers amidst the fanged worms and fanged shade made up of worms.

It felt it, too, now, from him, that same taint as the body in the graveyard.

But stronger, pure.

The graveyard was no more than a faint echo. But Shirou Emiya…

The darkness outside of him was complete. Full. Powerful.

If the darkness could consume that darkness, it would be invincible.

Shirou Emiya stood between it and its malice, its desire—

But something troubled the malice, while exciting the desire…

If the darkness around him was so great—

How did the light within survive?


Escaping Fate, Shooting Hundred Heads, End


...Thought I meant something else by the title, huh?

Neir
August 13th, 2011, 01:12 AM
Fucking BADASS.

Bloble
August 13th, 2011, 01:13 AM
It works.

It's not NINE LIVES BLADEWORKS but it works.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 13th, 2011, 01:31 AM
Back, months when I conceptualized this, I did think about using Nine Lives here, but it really wasn't for anything more than to sound cool and give another shoutout to HF. Killing nine times would've, well, killed nine worms or something, but not done much more. I thought this might be better to make it sound a little more like the sort of strategy Heroic Spirit EMIYA would've conjured up though.

Bloble
August 13th, 2011, 01:33 AM
Back, months when I conceptualized this, I did think about using Nine Lives here, but it really wasn't for anything more than to sound cool and give another shoutout to HF. Killing nine times would've, well, killed nine worms or something, but not done much more. I thought this might be better to make it sound a little more like the sort of strategy Heroic Spirit EMIYA would've conjured up though.

True. At least it was original, and good.

I liked it.

Techlet
August 13th, 2011, 03:07 AM
No, this time, you were going to be the one fucked.

Man that was badass.

I like all the "activation phrases" you've given to the swords.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 13th, 2011, 03:34 AM
Hopefully they sound somewhat awkwardly "translated," just like "My bone twists into madness."

And yeah, Shirou dropping the f-bomb (though in Japanese, it would be more like "you'll be the one done in") here is meant to be his Black Lagoon Rock moment. Holy shit, the nice guy just swore!

I hope that, for the briefest of moments, somebody at least thought I might off Caren. Or that I still might off someone else...

ItsaRandomUsername
August 13th, 2011, 09:36 AM
I have just read GAR.

Ergast
August 13th, 2011, 02:55 PM
Okay, I had been following this fic for some time in FF.net, and the only reason I didn't post anything before, either here or in FF.net is because I'm a lazy bum from time to time (and a severe lack of time U_U). But I had to post something after this chapter. It's simply superb. The fighting scene, the (mandatory) reference to Herc and Ninelives, the use of Kusanagi and the right description of the sword¹... Magnificent.

Now we need a badass fight between Rin and Setsuka, in the next chapter. If only because Shirou is too tired, and Caren should be damaged enough to not be her fight this time.



¹Like you (I assume), I'm tired of people thinking about it as a katana, instead of its true form. Again, I was born in a city known for its swords, so it's a bit of a pet peeve of mine to be that acurate with the swords)

Arashi_Leonhart
August 13th, 2011, 03:01 PM
I'm a sword nut like Shirou, so yeah, pet peeve for me too. To the degree that I may end up posting drawings of the swords I've added to Shirou's arsenal in this story, because I sketch out the sword image before writing about it.

Techlet
August 13th, 2011, 10:49 PM
I'm a sword nut like Shirou, so yeah, pet peeve for me too. To the degree that I may end up posting drawings of the swords I've added to Shirou's arsenal in this story, because I sketch out the sword image before writing about it.

I'd like to see those.

Pata Hikari
August 13th, 2011, 11:35 PM
Ditto.

nitewind
August 13th, 2011, 11:53 PM
Same here.

ItsaRandomUsername
August 14th, 2011, 12:22 AM
I like swords. And drawings. And drawings of swords.

SHARE

Arashi_Leonhart
August 15th, 2011, 03:56 AM
Will share pictures at the end of the story, maybe going back and inserting links to them when appropriate.

AN: Yes, releases be machinegunning at you as we near the end and I get excited to do the climax. Also, I have fully thought up Fate/Far Side and maybe want to get to that in the near future.


Escaping Fate
Chapter 17
Strategy Meeting


The taxi driver regarded me oddly, first at my injured and sleeveless arm, then when I asked him to take me to the edge of the forest surrounding Fuyuki. He didn’t complain, though, as I paid fine and, well, I must have looked exhausted enough to earn some sympathy.

Trudging through the forest to get to the castle while beat, though, was a real painful experience. I felt dizziness and nausea come in waves, and tripped a couple of times, the first time even falling right onto my left arm. It took me that shock to remember Yumi had given me bandages, and when I found a suitable place to rest, wrapped my arm in the red bandage.

And immediately felt better.

I don’t know what, if anything Yumi did to it, but something about it seemed to give me a second wind. Though I still felt bone sore and in need of a nap, it no longer felt like every sound was constantly jabbing me in the brainstem.

I glanced around, and laughed. The pain had hazed my mind so much that I hadn’t even realized where it was I had stumbled into until now.

“Hah, I could really use that prana now,” I chuckled.

By the time I had the Einzbern castle-mansion in sight, I was actually jogging at a fairly decent clip, though even still it was nearing sundown. I carefully pushed the doors open and, climbing over the rubble still present in the main hall, ascended the stairs and made for the bedrooms that faced the same direction as the entryway. Tohsaka would be keeping watch from there and she might have made Sakura and Caren lie down and get some rest.

I opened the first door and got a pillow to the face.

“You idiot,” Tohsaka complained, clearly the instigator of the throw, sitting at the foot of the bed. You would think that, after getting used to waking her in the morning and getting this in response, I would have known to duck. “You should’ve phoned Yumi or Sakura to let us know you were okay!”

I could not help but stare at Tohsaka in surprise. She was giving me a lecture that included the use of technology? What strange world have I stumbled into now? “Reception in the forest doesn’t work, so you’d never have been able to get any bars out here anyway.”

“Reception? Bars?” Tohsaka asked, confused.

Ah, better.

Sakura and Caren were on the oversized bed in the room, though Caren was fast asleep. She had her hands together beneath her cheek, in a very obvious I-am-sleeping-like-a-child pose. Did she do that on purpose? Sakura, on the other hand, was sitting up and wore new clothing. “Are you alright?” I asked her.

She nodded. “The cuts weren’t as deep as I thought. We treated everything and I took a nap, so I’m feeling much better.” The cut on her cheek was closed, though she brushed her fingers against it. “Nothing I can’t handle, senpai.”

Yumi was sitting on the floor to the other side of the bed, staring out the window, her head peeking out just beyond Sakura’s legs. “Yumi?”

“Unhurt,” she reported.

I sighed. This girl really needed to stop bottling up everything, if recent events were any indication. I rounded the bed and found her also wearing new clothing. “Where did you find that?” I asked.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qASLgxkH1Jo)

Yumi shrugged. She had apparently decided to replace the waistcoat that was now stained with Sakura’s blood. This one had a male cut and looked like it belonged under a suit blazer rather than as a single piece. “It was in one of the room closets here. I went exploring.”

It explained that and Sakura’s new clothing, I guess. I looked her over carefully, feeling what was left unsaid there: to try and get my mind off things.

“It feels nice. It feels like Shirou,” she said, quieter.

I crouched down next to her, fingering the bandage around my arm. “An Addition?”

“Something like that,” Yumi said. “When I put it on…it feels like what Shirou feels. When you’re right here, like this.”

“That’s good…I guess,” I said, smiling.

BGM off

“Anyway,” Tohsaka said, rounding on me and staring down, arms crossed, “I rather doubt it, but, did you kill it?”

I felt my eyebrow twitch. I know I’m no Heroic Spirit, but, still, qualifying it like that stung a little. “Doubtful. Probably only served to make it angry, to be honest.”

“…And?”

I could feel the unasked question and glanced up at Sakura, feeling the overwhelming urge to hold her. Thinking about her, thrown into that mass of cackling evil every night—

When I had punched Shinji, all those years ago for hurting his little sister, I had wondered what made her still seek out the good in him. I knew that, for me, it was because I wanted to feel that people like Shinji, despite their problems, could still be saved, and could still find a way to live in peace. But the part of me that empathized, that put me in her shoes, wondered how, without my sort of detachment, one could not come to just hate him utterly.

I think maybe I got it now: you live in a darkness that utterly bleak, you lose sight of all other darkness, big and small. It just becomes one giant blur of the same thing. Any light, any flicker of good beyond it…

Must be the only thing you see.

“I’m pretty sure it was him, Zouken Matou. Maybe that’s why it was waiting, calculating. Certainly seemed to focus its attention one at a time, not like a demon would,” I said.

Sakura shuddered. “I thought…he was gone for good. The times I’ve gone back, it seemed like…he was silent. Never showed himself before me again. I thought you were the reason why, senpai.”

I nodded. I had thought so too. Illya had seemed to believe he was completely docile, in any case.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh4jsjjgPG0)

“The demon would seek familiar ground,” Caren said suddenly, rolling over to look at us. I could make her out over Sakura’s knee and glared, wondering if she had been feigning sleep the entire time or truly had been woken to our talk. “If this Zouken Matou is familiar to you, Sakura-san, and a thing of darkness and evil, it is understandable that the demon would sniff him out.”

Not that sniffing him out was difficult, as he was quite the stench. “But then, which one is in control? The demon, or Zouken?”

“One that accepts possession is neither, as they become one in the same,” Caren said. “Much as Yumi, who says she feels she is like multiple people within one body, it would be the same for this. Yumi is still Yumi, a unique existence, but also more than what she was before. This Zouken would be the same.”

Yumi stood, looking ready to leave, possibly overwhelmed at that statement, but Sakura quickly reached out to pull the girl onto the bed. Like a little child, she embraced Yumi until the girl relented, putting her head in Sakura’s lap.

I’m not sure I wanted to know what kind of internal struggle must have occurred in her head at that point, but I was glad at which one won. “And what about Yuushi?”

Tohsaka scowled. “We were talking about that when you arrived. Sakura tried to drain him of prana, but it didn’t work.”

“Like you did with those dragon-demon-things?” I asked.

Sakura nodded, brushing her hand through Yumi’s hair. It looked very, well, motherly, I suppose you could say, though I’d never actually seen anyone do such a thing or remember if my mother had done anything likewise. “I felt it drain, but he suddenly had more, like a second wind. I can’t actually absorb that much without hurting myself.”

Like a second wind? I guess I’ve somewhat done that in the past, but I’ve actually risked draining my entire life away doing so, and trained magi avoid that like the plague. They’re generally smart enough to come up with contingency plans that do not involve my level of stupidity.

Or…

Wait.

“Like…additional prana?” I asked.

Yumi’s head came up at that, and she looked at me in suspicion.

Tohsaka got it immediately. “We need to go back to that orphanage.”

Sakura looked confused. “Why? Didn’t you take and destroy his research?”

“Yes, but that’s not why. If he’s been experimenting on himself, he might have used the place again before coming after us.” Tohsaka looked absolutely pissed, now. “And if what we’re thinking is right, we’re going to have to be the ones to attack him.”

Well, I understood that we would want to check the orphanage, but not that last part. “Why attack him? He’s coming after us, isn’t he?”

“Shirou, think about it.” Tohsaka did not look to Yumi, but her eyes briefly darted that way before looking back to me.

If Yuushi had taken his knowledge, had applied it to himself, he might be, in fact, like Yumi, with multiple souls tethered to his own, making for additional magical circuits. It explained why Yumi seemed to have more than average prana, and why she was irregular at utilizing it; Yuushi, on the other hand, with training, be able to organize it enough within himself to work everything out fine and efficiently. It would also mean that when Sakura said she drained him, she was merely draining one set of circuits, and he was simply moving on to the next set, like he had multiple tanks of gas.

For an immediate concern, it meant he must have killed more people and has many times the amount of prana to the average magus. And while that might not be a concern to someone like Tohsaka, if he could outlast anything I threw at him, it nailed one of the few advantages I had against the average magus in that I was within a mere acceptable range of output. That demon, for instance, was much harder than a magus, simply—

Oh. Oh that was bad.

It must have shown on my face, because Tohsaka nodded, but it was Caren who spoke up. “So, this Setsuka Yuushi could give birth to another demon.”

Yumi groaned from Sakura’s lap.

“Then we need to definitely check his place out and confront him. First, even, if Zouken is going to play hide-and-seek with us,” Tohsaka said.

I nodded in agreement. “Now? All of us?”

“Yes. I’m going to go raid the cellar here to see if I can’t find some canned or preserved food first, and then we should go,” Tohsaka said.

“I will get water,” Caren said. “Five minutes.”

BGM off

When they had left, I sat up on the bed with Sakura and Yumi, briefly brushing at Yumi’s hair as well. “Sorry, for all this,” I said, though I’m not really sure who I was apologizing to.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3L1DEvzsftw)

“It…really did look like it,” Sakura said. She shuddered at the memory of the demon. “I’m sorry, I don’t want to keep returning to that.”

I put my arm around her, cradling her head and pulling her against my shoulder. Despite the shaking, though, I saw her fist clench, and could not help but smile a tiny bit.

Allies of justice didn’t fix what was wrong. They just cleaned up afterward.

I may not be able to save any of them from the terror or sadness they endured, but, maybe…

I could do right by them here, now.

When Tohsaka and Caren returned to gather us, Tohsaka caught my gaze, and she smiled at the image we presented to her, seemingly despite herself.

BGM off



Escaping Fate, Strategy Meeting, End

deviatesfish
August 15th, 2011, 04:06 AM
Ah, nostalgia. Thy name be "Ever-present Feeling ~ Kie nai Omoi 消えない想い ".

Techlet
August 15th, 2011, 05:27 AM
That made for a cute image at the end.

Not much else to comment on, this being the calm before the storm and all.

deviatesfish
August 15th, 2011, 05:32 AM
Yep, people die when they are killed stories build up when they approach a climax.

Alulim
August 15th, 2011, 12:10 PM
Al likes climaxing...wait.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 16th, 2011, 02:03 AM
AN: No, Ryougi will not be showing up to shank a bitch, despite the title. Maybe some other time…


Escaping Fate
Chapter 18
Garden of Sins


She stood there, motionless, staring paradoxically at nothing and everything at the same time.

She did not really know what to expect when asking to be shown this place. Fear, revulsion, anger, sadness…they were all amorphous ideas and concepts rather than a solid feeling when she associated it with expectation.

As the electricity in the facility no longer worked, Yumi had to Alter a piece of wood, giving an eerie glow to see by.

The room was the color of gunmetal, gray and dull from wear, now painted faintly green by the firefly light in Yumi’s hand. Counters had various surgical tools and medicinal supplies, now in disarray and gathering cobwebs. A single table sat in the center of the room; a box of surgical gloves the only thing atop it. Rust and blood stains coated it and the floor surrounding it, though it smelled as antiseptic as any hospital. A portable light hung over it, more reminiscent of an interrogator’s device than a tool of surgery.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3L1DEvzsftw)

She could not remember what she had thought upon seeing this place for the first time, all those years ago. She had been anxious, and scared, and excited, told she had been adopted; her things packed away and shipped off already. She had wondered what her family would be like, if her new mom would be like what she remembered of her birth mom, if she would have siblings.

Yuushi-san had told her she would be getting a quick examination before heading out.

He continued to tell her that in the days that followed.

The pain, of course, was not physical. At first, even though she had watched him cut so deeply into her, there was no pain, since the anesthetic was powerful. But when he had changed the direction of his cuts, when somehow, it felt like he was piercing her from the inside-out, it had hurt. It had hurt like being told by someone that they hated her, or that she was truly a nothing that nobody would ever love again.

It hurt like the lie, “Only a little bit more, and then the examination will be over.”

It hurt like the truth, that it would not be “a little bit more.” That there was no family, and she would not be leaving this place.

She looked at it now, where she should have died, where she had died and something else, something too much, too full, had taken her place.

She hated it.

Cursed it.

Wanted it dead.

She smashed the stick into the table and swept everything onto the ground. She picked up the lamp and flung it across the room, where it crashed into empty vials and plastic boxes. She slapped her hands atop the table and flooded it with prana until the surface had the consistency of molding clay, then pulled at it until it tore apart from the table’s center.

When arms seized her by the waist and shoulders, she wrestled with them, but could not escape. She screamed and growled at everything until her throat was hoarse and her muscles sore.

She didn’t cry, didn’t wail, didn’t feel like breaking down, and she wondered why.

Instead, she felt tears hit her cheeks, and looked up to find Rin and Sakura, Rin with her arms locked around her, Sakura kneeling just to the side. Rin was crying, and Sakura looked as stoic as Yumi had ever seen.

“Why are you crying?” Yumi scratched out.

“Because you aren’t,” Rin said.

Yumi looked up at Sakura. “Why are you…strong?” she asked, unable to find the right words.

Sakura said. “So you can be weak.”

BGM off



I watched the girls calm Yumi, watched as our charge slowly came down from her fit and willingly stay in Tohsaka’s arms. I considered going in to see if I could help, but, well…

In the end, I was still pretty bad at this. I never knew what kind of face I needed to show Yumi; Sakura did, and Tohsaka was generally better at it than I was.

There were signs that Yuushi had been here, though he had not used that room again. A boundary field had been erected again—I had once more used Joyeuse’s shifting magical state to cut through it—and we actually found a few supplies of food and drink in the regular office Yuushi had used as “proprietor” of the orphanage. What was disturbing instead was he had apparently been doing his research on us, as Tohsaka had found photographs of my house and an old, once-was-trashed piece of paper listing Sakura’s working hours. From what we could tell, he had been staking the place out and waited until he saw Tohsaka and I leave to enter the house. He probably hadn’t actually thought Sakura and Yumi were still home, since Yumi should have been at school and Sakura at work.

A magus that did his homework could be a very dangerous threat. A magus that did his homework but had terrible timing could be an even bigger threat.

That’s not even considering what this demon-Zouken Matou hybrid could do. I’m not sure I had anything capable of destroying thousands of little demons instead of one centralized demon. If I Broke Calabolg it might work, but the secondary energy from the explosion was not actually a great amount and for the most part it was confined to a space more suitable against a single target or small area.

Excalibur…the times I had tried, it had been nothing short of disastrous. It was bad, terrible as even an imitation. And even if I could make it, it was impossible for me to generate the prana necessary to use it like Saber did.

I wonder what she would do, in this situation.

I climbed out of the underground facility and, though it had been approaching dark when we got here, was surprised to find it completely twilight. Caren stood at the doorway, eyes darting about the place. “Anything?”

Caren shook her head. “All’s been silent.” She glanced back the way I had come from. “How is she?”

“Better, I hope.” Seeing Yumi explode like that had once again made me realize how much she must be bottling up. I hoped we could be there for her when she had fits of other things than anger, too. “Yuushi hasn’t been experimenting here. I really don’t want to think he’s gone and killed more people elsewhere…that would be my fault for letting him go.”

The white-haired priestess pulled one of the bandage ends at my arm and turned me to look at her. “No. Shirou, it is not wrong to hope that someone could find repentance. And your responsibility was to those around you, here. It is not your fault that others lost track of him.” She raised her chin. “If anything, you should be angry with me, as I was the one to dictate how he be transported.”

I was not going to play a blame-game with anyone. “Let’s not go there. I don’t want to be angry with anyone, really.”

Caren smiled. “I know.”

I looked around at the abandoned orphanage, shaking my head. Kudzu had overtaken much of the landscaping and Japanese ivy had run rampant up to the first floor windows of the main building. In another decade or two, I wouldn’t be surprised if it resembled the ruined building outside the Einzbern castle.

Caren was watching me closely, and I decided I would not reminisce on what had happened during that time.



BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDtO1LihTOY)

We waited to see if Yuushi would come, Sakura and Yumi inside the main building on the second floor, Tohsaka and Caren around the sides of the administrator’s building. I ended up climbing onto the roof and Reinforcing my eyes in an attempt to glimpse the man if he returned, though in the darkness it would probably only let me notice movement in the bush as opposed to spotting him outright.

Though, even after it had passed one in the morning, nothing had happened, and I wondered if he was attempting to stake out my place instead. In which case, this would be a very long waiting game. The demon, perhaps, would come for us instead, though I’m not sure if it had a way to track us.

“Shirou?”

I glanced over my shoulder to see Yumi staring up at me from the roof access hatch, her eyes and little else peeking out at me. I smirked at her. “Expect me to play whack-a-mole? Come up if you want to talk.”

She did so, carefully brushing her waistcoat and skirt off, then came to kneel down next to me. Unlike what I expected, with her sitting there for a while organizing her thoughts, she just came out and said what was on her mind. “You once told me you wanted to save everyone.”

I nodded. “I did.”

“I…” she frowned, then shook her head. “Why couldn’t you save everyone before me?”

I understood that it wasn’t an accusatory question, just, one that she couldn’t wrap her head around. I understood survivor’s guilt a great deal more than the average person, probably. “I’m sorry that I couldn’t. But…I’m not an ally of justice, not a hero like on television or in books. I’m just a human that wants to be.”

Her fingers tightened in her lap, and she said, “I lied earlier.”

“About what?”

“This doesn’t feel exactly like you,” she said, pulling at her waistcoat. “They feel…like you do when you Trace that one sword. Saber’s sword.”

I gave her what Tohsaka often called my “dorky grin”—something she cited she wanted to wipe off my face every time I did it, because it looked stupid or something. “Oh?”

“I think…” her voice dropped almost to a whisper, “Shirou should already think of himself as a hero. He saved Saber, right?”

I chuckled. “I highly doubt that.”

“And that means he saved all the people Saber saved, right?”

My brows probably furrowed at that. “I’m not sure I understand.”

Yumi looked up at me, and something from her gaze was different from only a moment ago, somehow, the difference beyond anything I could hope to use words and define. It wasn’t hopeful, or even inspired, nor determined…

Just…

“If I have in me everybody else…if I live the life they never could…and you saved me, doesn’t that mean, they were saved too?”



“I don’t need the Holy Grail. I can’t stray from my path for the people I’ve left behind.”



And Saber…had accepted those words.

I cocked my head at Yumi, staring at her, feeling a little weird. For someone who never met Saber, she certainly seemed to, I don’t know, get her.

BGM off

“Shirou!” came Tohsaka’s voice from the ground level.

I motioned silently for Yumi to crawl back the way she had come, then crouched low and peeked out over the edge of the building. Tohsaka and Caren both were there, half behind the cover of the administrator’s building. I followed their line of sight and saw him, the figure of a man, white hair apparent even in the dimness of the night sky.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJzxDq7m8Gw)

“I see I once again have intruders on my property,” he called out.

“Not your property anymore,” Tohsaka retorted. Even from this distance and in the darkness, I could see the signs of her palming the last jewel she had, still not anywhere near the power of ones used during the war, but still dangerous to a magus like Yuushi. “I’d suggest you get out now, while you still can.”

“Not talking about the lands,” Yuushi said. “I’m talking about her!” and pointed up to the second story of the building beneath me, where Yumi would be returning to Sakura’s side.

Tohsaka lobbed the jewel in his direction.

At the same time, an arc of golden light bounded out from him, surrounding him in a rotating circle of energy. The jewel struck the edge of the light and exploded prematurely.

“You will return it!” he shouted from behind the cloud of smoke.

That same golden light suddenly encompassed an area surrounding me, moving along the rooftop—

The wood beneath my feet gave, and I crashed down not just into the second story, but through the floor of that and into the first.

This…was not going to be pretty.

BGM off



The darkness indeed knew.

It had heard Sakura, damned Sakura, call out the name of a magus.

That magus floated amidst the memories of the demon.

The torturer, the killer.

The one that had made them.

It came to mind, amidst the forest near Einzbern, not too far away:

A house full of children, a garden of ivy—

A dark, hollow place of despair and curses.

Home beckoned.


Escaping Fate, Garden of Sins, End


As an orphan in a terrible orphanage, Yumi’s history is somewhat inspired by Miyo Takano from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. The very first idea for what snowballed into this story was from an image of Shirou, bow in hand, rescuing children from such a place as depicted in Higurashi Kai. Admittedly, that also sprung up the idea that Yumi would want Shirou to “become a hero” in the same way that Takano wanted to prove Hifumi was correct in his research. Hopefully, I’ve disguised that enough that you didn’t think of it if you’re familiar with the When They Cry verse.

VelspertheCat
August 16th, 2011, 02:08 AM
Now all I can imagine is Witch of Certainty, Yumi (Emiya?).

Arashi_Leonhart
August 16th, 2011, 02:15 AM
Yeeeeah, well, just don't get stuck on a deserted island or a remote Japanese town with her, I guess.

Techlet
August 16th, 2011, 02:17 AM
Heh, so Yumi got her hands on parts of the suit Saber wore in the 4th War?

Arashi_Leonhart
August 16th, 2011, 02:18 AM
I sort of tried to imply without just outright stating it in the last chapter that she'd raided the Einzbern castle rooms and found the waistcoat Saber wears beneath her blazer to wear, and that Sakura might be wearing something of Iri's, yeah.

Techlet
August 16th, 2011, 02:25 AM
Ah, so that's what the "motherly feeling" bit was about?

*imagines Sakura in Iris' dress*

Ooooooo....

ItsaRandomUsername
August 16th, 2011, 02:29 AM
Whew! Caught up on the updates, and they didn't disappoint.


As an orphan in a terrible orphanage, Yumi’s history is somewhat inspired by Miyo Takano from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. The very first idea for what snowballed into this story was from an image of Shirou, bow in hand, rescuing children from such a place as depicted in Higurashi Kai. Admittedly, that also sprung up the idea that Yumi would want Shirou to “become a hero” in the same way that Takano wanted to prove Hifumi was correct in his research. Hopefully, I’ve disguised that enough that you didn’t think of it if you’re familiar with the When They Cry verse.

You know, that's actually incredibly clever.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 16th, 2011, 02:33 AM
Not really. Just doing what all good authors do: unabashedly copy. Shirou would make a good author, methinks.

Next chapter should also be out soon...I can't promise tonight/this morning, but soon; I already have half of it done, since it begins the climax and I had to plan this out carefully.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 16th, 2011, 07:22 AM
TOTALLY DID IT! Though really a cheat since a lot was done anyway...

AN: This is probably where I make the first of two egregious departures from FSN canon. It’s something that works for me but doesn’t probably work for others, so fair warning. I’ll be toying with a more obvious version of this idea in Fate/Far Side as opposed to the (perhaps too) subtle layering in that I’ve tried here.


Escaping Fate
Chapter 19
Place of Victory


The roof collapsed beneath me, the floor beneath that, and I crashed into a first floor study, managing to cat-twist myself to not land awkwardly. I heard the crash of wood and tile around me, and took the fetal position while covering my head until the sounds stopped.

I pushed out of the rubble and patted myself down quickly, trying to discern if I’d been impaled by anything. When it was clear I wasn’t, I pushed aside the headache threatening to give me double vision and stumbled to the broken windows in the room I had fallen to.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWrVZxjucks)

Caren was covering Tohsaka, throwing Black Keys at Yuushi as he stood in the same spot, the golden light surrounding him deflecting each blade out of the air. Tohsaka, meanwhile, was strafing left across the open lawn, possibly trying to get into a flanking position, firing Gandr shots the entire way. They likewise crashed against the light and dissipated into harmless nothing.

A boundary field? Around a person? He wasn’t moving, so he probably could not carry it with him, but that seemed to be the only advantage. I had never heard of a boundary field that physically protected a person from the outside besides something like Rho Aias, which had field-like properties, and Avalon, which wasn’t a boundary field at all. They were usually more subtle than that, misdirecting or alerting rather than outright protecting.

Black Keys continued to tumble the moment they reached that ring of gold, and Tohsaka’s curses splashed across it harmlessly.

I glanced up above my head; that same light had caved in the structure at my feet. When I had first confronted this guy, he had done something similar with a tree branch, hovering it in the air like he was some kind of Sith Lord. Tohsaka had said something about him being a student of a famous magus that specialized in both boundary field manipulation as well as souls.

Tohsaka managed to circle so that she was 120 degrees from my position around Yuushi, then make a sharp turn and move in closer to Yuushi, black orbs firing from her hand the entire time.

My eyes processed the sight of steel in his hand before the rest of me did, and I remembered the cuts he had made against both Sakura and I, at range. Kanshou and Bakuya formed in my hands, and I tumbled through the window.

“I am the bone of my sword.”

I flooded the twin scimitars with prana enough to Break them and sent them flying to either side of Yuushi and his golden shield.

“Ad mutatio.”*

He uttered that single incantation, raised his scalpel like a musical conductor, and swiped it through the air.

Golden light enveloped both spinning blades, and they paused in mid-air—

Then reversed direction.

I dove right back into the building the way I had come as the blades spun back at me and crashed into one another, triggering the explosion of a Broken Phantasm. Again, smaller than Caladbolg, the blast sent wood and glass shards flying in every direction and I felt wall planking fall atop me, causing something in my body to break. I groaned and felt my good arm move involuntarily to my side to push rubble off and confirm a broken rib.

“Uhhh…” I heard myself moan, and even that hurt.

Shifting to find a way to pull myself up without aggravating myself further, I heard Tohsaka’s German incantations and the constant thumping of her spells crashing against that shield.

“Senpai! Are you alright?!” I heard Sakura shout, both through the open windows and the stairway further into the building.

“Still here,” I tried to say as loud as possible, but taking a deep breath did not feel very good. I staggered up and peered out the window—now a third larger than it had been before.

That bastard still stood in the same position, though now he was swiping his scalpel in what I assumed was an attempt to cut at Tohsaka.

Dammit.

If I could pierce that damned field, Tohsaka might be able to handle him herself…

I thought of Joyeuse first, but discarded that—such a blade needed to be held and swung at the target for its rotating properties to adapt to the situation and cut through a boundary field, and I don’t think I could get close enough.** Arondight and Caladbolg had the stopping power, but I didn’t have enough prana to activate or Break them.

Break…

Or cut…

I Traced the bow and readied it. It should work, it ought to work. It was the best choice I had, all things considered. Though I had seen so many things within the Gate of Babylon, my knowledge of applying them severely lacked, and I didn’t know what this guy was doing, exactly.

But…

If the legend were true—

“I cut all things in two.”

The split blade, the sword of bifurcation; wielded by Ali, a Heroic Spirit that had served the prophet Muhammad. The blade itself was split at the end, resembling a steak fork at the tip.

It had split a warrior and his shield completely in two, and I had to wonder if stories like that were what made up the legend behind things like the supposed Mystic Eyes that could kill anything with a single cut.

I readied the blade, readied the bow—

Make it—

Just make it—

“Zulfiqar!”

The blade narrowed and shot forth.

But Yuushi seemed ready. He merely flicked his wrist, and even beyond Tohsaka’s incantations and the sound of things crashing into his barrier, I heard him say loud and clearly: “Ad mutatio.”

My blade smashed against his golden shield, but instead of splitting the protection right down the center, it splashed as if I had thrown a bucket of water at him. I saw the pommel of Zulfiqar reform and ping off the barrier like a coin, flipping end-over-end in the air before falling uselessly to the ground.

Ignoring the pain in my side, I jumped back out of the building, growling, trying to think of anything that would work, even though I was running out of prana, my body feeling completely drained—

“Now!” Rin yelled.

Gandr shots went flying to the ground surrounding Yuushi beyond his barrier, exploding against grass and dirt, blowing dust and grime up into the air. Eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen blasts until the air around the magus had been enveloped amidst the tiny explosions of earth. Yuushi waved his arm to clear his vision, glancing over toward Tohsaka—

Who had lobbed a knife right over Yuushi’s head.

Caren charged in from the opposite side, no Black Keys in hand. Instead, she made straight for the arcing weapon, to Yuushi’s left flank, and even I could sense the prana buildup in the priestess.

A glint of red caught my eye, and I understood.

With one hand, Caren fielded the dagger perfectly, charged it straight into the shield until it halted, and rammed her other hand into the pommel.

“Laßt!”

A fire of white burst from the blade as it released magical energy against the barrier, which flashed brightly before collapsing. The same kind of Azoth knife that had killed Kirei Kotomine dropped likewise to the ground, broken, but having served its purpose, and the irony of Caren using it did not escape me.

BGM off

I Reinforced my legs with what little prana I had and charged.

Yuushi’s cut was dangerous, but if he had to divide his attention between all three of us—

Caren was even quicker, the red of that same shroud that had entangled me whipping out of her hands. But before it could snake itself around the magus, Yuushi was leaping laterally and swiping with his scalpel.

The red cloth split in two.

Caren leapt back, but not in time, as the same swipe of Yuushi’s knife cut into her. It crossed her neck and split her skin, sending blood flowing out of her neck, and she reached up to stop the flow, a faint glow about her hand.

Yuushi ran past, toward me, and Tohsaka came up quickly from behind.

“Shirou, if you—!” Tohsaka started.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MF1AAwZEbk)

“Ad mutatio.”

Yuushi pressed his hand to the ground as we came in at either side, and it was like the world exploded in heat around us. The ground immediately began to oscillate like a waterbed, but everything turned gray and red—

The very fibers of my soul felt it before it happened, the fires of the 4th War burning it forever into my memory.

The ground became molten metal, raw iron melted down.

My steps fumbled in the change, searing the bottom of my feet and sending heat splashing up into the air. I felt my entire body go numb as it tried to shut down in time, and I crashed to the ground—

Just outside the field of liquid death—

But I heard a scream, and my ears—

—told me—

No…

I rolled up, felt the broken bone in my chest snap fully in two and pierce something, but drove myself right back into the heat and fire and scent of sulfur.

Tohsaka burning.

I screamed, I screamed in pain, I screamed until the words came—

“AVALON!!!”

The scabbard formed, it pressed into Tohsaka’s chest as I careened right into her, and with as much force as I could, I dug my legs into the terrible heat and jumped.

We rolled out of the embers, out of the fire, out of it all, and I forced everything I had into the scabbard, forced the sheath against this girl I fought with and ate with and couldn’t stand and adored—

Rapidly cooling metal dripped down atop the scabbard as I bowed over her on my hands and knees, and I felt the blades about me, the only thing that kept the same smoking black from covering my body as it did hers.

BGM off



Yuushi headed for the main house, feeling his research within, feeling the additional souls calling out to the ones within him.

“I am your master, my little philosopher’s stone,” he said aloud. “I am the master of your souls, and I demand you return to me everything in you.”

His stone was silent within, and he could feel the malice from the Matou girl.

A smile.

He took a step forward—



“S…rou,” Tohsaka whimpered.

If the heat were not still so intense over her skin and clothes, I might have been able to cry, but it felt like every sense of liquid had evaporated clean off me. “Tohsaka!”

“…m okay,” she said, stronger than before.

I managed to tear my eyes away to glance over at Caren, who was on a knee, both hands to her neck. Beyond that, there were tiny markings starting to form about her, like black cracks between dry skin—

Her eyes widened when she caught my gaze, and nodded.

“Go,” Tohsaka said. I turned back to her, a fringe of her hair still glowing like embers.

Another drip of melted metal fell atop the scabbard, which she held out to me.

“I am your master, my little philosopher’s stone,” Yuushi was saying. “I am the master of your souls, and I demand you return to me everything in you.”

“Shirou should already think of himself as a hero.”

Tohsaka shoved the scabbard into my arms. “Save them. Then…hurry up…back to f-fix me.”

I looked down to the gold and blue enamel, stained now with bloody iron. I glanced up at Caren, who nodded and mouthed something.

Duty.

I forced myself to my feet, Tohsaka carefully laying her hands to her sides, wincing the entire time. I turned toward our attacker as he stepped toward his goal.

Avalon held to my chest. The thing I always relied upon, fell back upon, the thing I considered strong, heroic, beautiful…

Hers. Her strength, her beauty. That which I aspired to.



Sakura raised her hand, ready to bolt her magic down at their attacker, even as useless as it may be. She had watched the battle carefully, sensed the switch in prana, and knew that she could never drain him completely. Even after that terrible Alteration at her sister and senpai’s feet, he had merely moved on to another circuit, another tier of energy—

Yumi’s hand came up to take hers.

Sakura stared at the girl, only to find quiet acceptance.

“Don’t worry,” Yumi said. “Those souls…those lives he took…they’re here, in me.” Yumi clasped her chest, fingering the black waistcoat she wore. “Shirou…is meant to save them. He’s already saved them. And he’ll save more.”



BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQvX2L4YXmM)

She told me once, before.

The very power I relied upon, the very thing that epitomized what I thought was strong in her, the Heroic Spirit that had not backed down even when her country turned on her. Her distant utopia, so perfect it was untouchable, unreachable, impossible to achieve…

“You were my sheath.”

My world…

Was the paradox within me.

I was her sheath, and that sheath was an impossible world beyond all influence…

Then…

“You’re not going anywhere,” I said.



Yuushi stopped, and turned. He swung once with his scalpel, not even bothering with the incantation.

And it passed harmlessly through the man, grasping a device of gold and blue.



“I am the bone of my sword.”

His body was pierced by many blades from within.

With his skin broken by blades, he sheathed his left hand into Avalon, wrapped in the gift of one whom he had saved.

“Steel is my body and fire is my blood.”

Even if a miracle were to have stopped it, even if he had the power…

Allies of justice existed to straighten out what has already happened.

But what has happened would drive him forward.

“I have created over a thousand blades,”

He once said, “I don’t need the Holy Grail. I can’t stray from my path for the people I’ve left behind.”

“Unaware of loss,”

Lives he lived for now, never rewarded, nor understood.

“Nor aware of gain.”

Lives that were his past and drive him to the future. If Shirou Emiya the body is empty, the person is a life with the burden of many.

“Withstood pain to create many weapons.”

He was determined to reach it.

The place of their victory.

His ideal, his dream.

She lived her life as the King, and was unrewarded, and died alone under an unremarkable tree.

But even so…

“For those I couldn’t save, and those I will,”

She was determined to see it through to the end.

And he was determined to live the same way.

“I have no regrets, this is the only path.”

She was his sword, and he was her sheath.

But now she is gone, and he is left.

He once said: there is nothing in me that can replace you. But everything in him was with her. It colored every desire he had.

“My whole life has been—”

Fire swept across the all in sight. Blades staggered the ground like memorials for lost lives, plinths for the lives he has left behind.

“—Unlimited Blade Works.”

Avalon broke into light and the world was revealed in full.

BGM off



BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kie4MroXwTc)

The hill is darkened and barren, though the sky is bright. The sun rises on the distant horizon, bathing everything in golden light. It is not the dead of night, nor does the world smell of sulfur, despite the flames that brought birth to it.

“A master of souls should be able to tell, just by looking,” I said.

Yuushi scowled, his ghostly face stark amidst the warmth surrounding us.

“Those lives aren’t your playthings.” I motioned to the blades surrounding me, then plucked two from the ground. “These lives won’t allow it. My life won’t allow it.”

Yuushi swung his blade as I tossed the two in hand at him. They dissolved like water once more, yet were instantly at my feet again.

“For those lives, gone and yet to come…”

I took two more, crossing them before me, and moved.



“My body is made of swords.”



Escaping Fate, Place of Victory, End



*Latin, “add alteration.”

**The poem that describes Joyeuse says it had different colors throughout the day. I’m thinking, rotating effects that change depending on the situation.

Techlet
August 16th, 2011, 08:20 AM
Sweet god, this just gets better and better.

Liking the literal "living for others" theme you have going on. It really ties the characters together.

nick012000
August 16th, 2011, 08:47 AM
Nice. Almost as badass as "Have enough blades, King of Heroes?" I sort of wonder how much he was shitting himself when he saw Shirou had a Reality Marble, though; they're insanely rare for people without inhuman blood.

Pata Hikari
August 16th, 2011, 11:19 AM
It just got real.

nitewind
August 16th, 2011, 01:56 PM
OOOOHHHHH YYYYEEEEEAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! NOW WE'RE TALKING!!! Ass is about to be kicked in the most fantastic way possible.

Bloble
August 16th, 2011, 01:59 PM
Next Chapter prediction:

BGM = Emiya

All we know is that ass will be kicked.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 16th, 2011, 05:51 PM
Next Chapter prediction:

BGM = Emiya

C'mon, prediction? UBW is out, it's a requirement.

Bloble
August 16th, 2011, 05:53 PM
But which remix?

There's at least 6 official ones, and dozens more that were made online.

So which one is it going to be? Personally, I'm predicting it'll be the standard one or the Crow's Claw one.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 16th, 2011, 05:56 PM
Obviously, it'll be the Slam City Jam one. Shirou and Yuushi will engage in an epic one-on-one match on the court.

Bloble
August 16th, 2011, 06:03 PM
Obviously, it'll be the Slam City Jam one. Shirou and Yuushi will engage in an epic one-on-one match on the court.

Announcer: 15 seconds on the clock! Emiya is 40 points down! Looks like it's all over folks!

Yuushi: Hah! You have lost! Give up and die!

Shirou: ...Not... Yet! GRAAAAAA!!!!!!
*hundreds of basketballs materialize around him.*
Yuushi: What? Impossible!

Shirou: I... do not create basketballs. I create a world where there are an infinite number of them!
*the basketballs immediately all shoot towards Yuushi's net. He tries to block them but it is useless!*
Announcer: 5 seconds! Yuushi's lead has shrunk to 20 points!

Shirou: GRRAAAAAAA!!!!!!!
*The rate of fire increases. Hundreds of basketballs are materialized and launched. Only a few go in, but it is enough.*
Announcer: And the winner is Emiya, with a lead of 2 points! Game over!

Yuushi: NOOOOOO!!!!!!

Techlet
August 16th, 2011, 09:43 PM
Poor Rin though. Girl got deep fried. ;_;

Mike1984
August 17th, 2011, 05:32 AM
Poor Rin though. Girl got deep fried. ;_;

I'd say she's damn lucky, personally. If it wasn't for Shirou's magical ability to break canon horribly, she'd be dead... :p

But, yeah, that was nasty. Although I'm not sure she was so much "fried" as "horribly burnt by molten metal"....

Arashi_Leonhart
August 17th, 2011, 07:39 AM
Pictures.

Joyeuse (http://pics.livejournal.com/zekk_skywalk/pic/00034dx9)
Thuan Thien (http://pics.livejournal.com/zekk_skywalk/pic/00035z6x)
Kusanagi (http://pics.livejournal.com/zekk_skywalk/pic/000369e9)
Curtana (http://pics.livejournal.com/zekk_skywalk/pic/00037wtr)
Zulfiqar (http://pics.livejournal.com/zekk_skywalk/pic/00038bw5)
Shamshir-e (http://pics.livejournal.com/zekk_skywalk/pic/00039fyr)

I usually try and draw more realistic looking stuff, but UBW is full of wacky looking swords, so Thuan Thien's blade and both Shamshir-e and Kusanagi's guards/grips/pommels look a little strange. And they're just sketches, really. I usually draw a bit more (http://pics.livejournal.com/zekk_skywalk/pic/0000s0rx) solidly (http://pics.livejournal.com/zekk_skywalk/pic/0000rdxe).

Anyway, working on next chapter, though now I get to wrestle with writing exposition on how UBW is working while, you know, fighting is happening.

And hooray, already got a review on FFN pointing out my chant "mistake."

Techlet
August 17th, 2011, 08:57 AM
I usually draw a bit more (http://pics.livejournal.com/zekk_skywalk/pic/0000s0rx) solidly (http://pics.livejournal.com/zekk_skywalk/pic/0000rdxe).

"403 Forbidden". :(

Arashi_Leonhart
August 17th, 2011, 04:23 PM
Blaaaaarg. 25172518

Techlet
August 17th, 2011, 06:59 PM
Nice. Though the hilts all seem a bit short.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 17th, 2011, 08:41 PM
Curtana would actually be a bastard sword. Everything else is one-handed. Weird, yes, but actually somewhat historically accurate. Which I suppose makes it weird, since 6th century Saber shouldn't be wielding a 12th+ century broadsword, but, whatever.

Pata Hikari
August 17th, 2011, 08:54 PM
Excalibur was made by fairies. It's excused.

ItsaRandomUsername
August 17th, 2011, 08:54 PM
Fairies are cheating bastards.

VelspertheCat
August 17th, 2011, 09:41 PM
Fairies are cheating bastards.

http://i1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb375/VelspertheCat/Cirno184.jpg

U Mad, bro?

Alulim
August 17th, 2011, 10:20 PM
^The equation makes sense.

lethum
August 17th, 2011, 10:47 PM
It's all wrong. There's no a+ or a- operators, anywhere.

Alulim
August 17th, 2011, 10:49 PM
Al is a deer, deer don't need those.

nitewind
August 17th, 2011, 11:14 PM
Maybe they're on the part of the board that's covered up by the fairy. Alternately they substitutied something else for "a".

lethum
August 17th, 2011, 11:24 PM
Nope. There are no symbol candidates to replace the a operators. But it's okay, writing a lot on the blackboard is fun.

Mike1984
August 18th, 2011, 05:40 AM
Curtana would actually be a bastard sword. Everything else is one-handed. Weird, yes, but actually somewhat historically accurate. Which I suppose makes it weird, since 6th century Saber shouldn't be wielding a 12th+ century broadsword, but, whatever.

She also wouldn't be wearing 12th+ century armour and following 12th+ century ideals like Chivalry....

Somehow, I don't think historical accuracy is at the forefront of the minds of most people when they write stories involving King Arthur (including the original authors of most of the legends).


Nope. There are no symbol candidates to replace the a operators. But it's okay, writing a lot on the blackboard is fun.

Couldn't she be using a different convention, or doing the calcuation in a different way?

The guy who wrote that certainly seems to know what they were talking about (there is just too much right about it to be an accident), so I can't imagine he'd have got that wrong.

lethum
August 18th, 2011, 10:48 AM
Couldn't she be using a different convention, or doing the calcuation in a different way?

The guy who wrote that certainly seems to know what they were talking about (there is just too much right about it to be an accident), so I can't imagine he'd have got that wrong.

Oh, I'm not saying that the individual elements are wrong (even through I did write "it's all wrong"). I'm saying that the <blackboard>=LASER is about as relevant as saying dQ=LASER. Not Wrooong. You know.

Just wrong.

VelspertheCat
August 18th, 2011, 04:33 PM
You're both awesome. I love the fact you guys actually went and actually poked at the Cirno Laser picture. :)

Alulim
August 18th, 2011, 04:38 PM
Al likes poking things~

Arashi_Leonhart
August 20th, 2011, 06:33 AM
AN: Yeah, I switched narrative perspectives here, without an interlude. It does the same in the game, too. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

You might as well just play Emiya (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9a9k2bgd4Y) the entire time.


Escaping Fate
Chapter 20
This Body…


Setsuka Yuushi.

His origin: to connect.

His research had been the perfect culmination of his talents. He had made peerless leaps in how souls reacted to one another, how they could interact, how they could be bound together and torn asunder. He had taken that to the furthest personification one could: to connect multiple souls together, to make multiple circuits of magical energy accessible to one body.

But…

He could not have known…

That in doing so to others, in chiseling lives into one perfect expression, he would be creating his own downfall—

A girl, connected to all the lives he had taken.

Her life, connected to those that had saved her.

Her savior, now fated to be connected to the one that made her—



His body was made of swords.

He took a blade, swung it at the enemy.

His enemy raised a scalpel, swiped in the direction of the sword.

The sword would dissolve into harmless liquid or crumble as if brittle coal.

Another sword would appear in hand, before the enemy could press the attack.

Again, the blade would pass into harmlessness.

The infinite blades confronted the tireless soul, one bleeding every ounce of energy into every swing, to make the other bleed out their soul’s relief.

His enemy bleeds the prana of lives stolen.

He bleeds the blades formed like plinths around him.

His blood is of iron and his heart is of glass.



Rin Tohsaka pulled herself with her one good arm enough to tumble and face the battlefield.

“How did he—?” she muttered, glancing around. In this place, she felt, though still pained and ready to roll over and die, like something was keeping her from it, like a physical barrier keeping death at bay.

It felt like…

In this place, the expression of the soul, the Reality Marble of one who was saved, who felt he had to live in the name of those that could not be saved:

The ground was dead, burnt away, destroyed by the evil and curses of the entire world twice over. It was dusty and dry and unfit for human existence—

However…

The sky was pale and golden, warm, a horizon the likes of which Rin had never laid eyes upon.

It was not the perfect world, the Reality Marble itself a hellish wasteland.

Yet in every direction, no matter which way she turned her gaze, like the majestic beauty of rising mountains in the distance, Rin could only see—

A distant utopia.

“Shirou…”

Evil may have laid claim to the lands within him, but…

His eyes would never stray from the world beyond.



He survived countless battles.

He rained swords down upon the enemy, his soul striking the magus from every side.

Some, the enemy turned into liquid or powder. Others, he swiped in half with a tiny blade of his own. More still, if striking his body, rebounded off of dense clothing and hardened skin.

This enemy was older, more experienced, had fought, magi and mundane both. He had won every time. He was an expert in his field, knowledgeable, and now had magical capacity surpassing even multiple Rin Tohsakas and Sakura Matous.

But…

Shirou Emiya…

Not even once retreating…

Not even once victorious—



Sakura Matou watched, her eyes drawn to each blade in turn.

She recalled each time Shirou had spoken of Saber, recalled the stories of Saber’s origin.

How the King had pulled the sword from the stone, taking on the responsibilities of a kingdom.

There was no kingdom here, no green lands nor working people. This place was a graveyard, a mere echo of things long gone.

Yet each was embedded in the stone-like earth, and each stood waiting to be picked up by the one who lived for what they represented.

Sakura saw her sister and Caren both seem to get better, seem to slowly recover, and she thought, perhaps, just maybe—

It was not the world of Avalon, but it certainly did seem to be…

Like the one who took the sword from that stone, as one who had lived for so long by being saved by others—

A blessing of the faeries.

In this place, he would stop being saved, and save others.



The bearer lies here alone.

He doesn’t know how the Reality Marble continues to hold, blades at his feet and swords raining from the sky. He floods every ounce of his energy into holding the image within him tightly, and a tiny trickle seems to always continue to pour out of him into this world, even when he thinks it should have stopped.

He is grateful, though, and relentless.

With every sword that passes harmlessly by, he picks up another, scissor-cutting at the enemy’s neck with twin katana, delivering a one-two combo to the enemy’s left shoulder with a curved kopis and heavy gladius, thrusting with the errant longspear, jabbing with a rapier, then jian—

The enemy backpedals, weaves aside, swings wildly to sunder each incoming weapon, deflecting or avoiding the weapons rained down from above.

Shirou Emiya presses the attack with blades that should not exist in a world that should not exist created by a spell that should not continue to exist.

Perhaps, intuitively, he understands why.

He was saved by others buried in a hill of swords.



Yuushi curses.

Reset, circuits.

He curses again.

Reset, circuits.

And again.

Reset, circuits.

He curses until his throat is dry, his tongue sore, his lips numb—

This man, his Reality Marble, the blades he conjured out of the nothingness within him:

Seemed to stretch out into infinity.

Reset, circuits.

Yuushi saw each blade, could recompose each chemical element making up every single one, broke down everything and restructured it until it no longer resembled a sword. He turned them to the equivalent matter of water, of earthen dust, of hydrogen and helium, into nothing more than a harmless composite of minerals and chemicals.

Reset, circuits.

He cut others into two, down their tempered edges, splitting them to fall at either side of his body, the metallic cacophony of metal raking against metal sounding in his ears as his own precise weapon cleaved great huge weapons into pieces. His Reinforced scalpel was plenty against these fakes, these illusionary forgeries in this fantasy forge.

Reset, circuits.

His very body took more, blades deflected by clothing as hard as metal armor and skin as dense as ironwood. He caught some full in the chest, others batted away with hardened arms, some even fielded by his feet and knees and head as if they were a soccer ball.

Reset, circuits.

Yet for everything, for every move, for every weapon defeated—

More.

More.

More.

These blades…

If they didn’t stop…

Reset, circuits.

He would—



Thus, his life needs no meaning.

He has those that died behind him, those that will die before him. He had within him enough, just enough—

To turn the tide.

The swords he used before, weapons of utility, blades he had seen within his lifetime in museums, swords he had thought up on his own by breaking down the essential components and building them slowly up in his mind.

Yuushi destroyed, deflected, or avoided every single one.

He was getting nowhere.

The unlimited blades continued against the inexhaustible soul.

So…

Moralltach the great fury.

He plucked a longsword, greater in length than he was tall. It passed to mere centimeters before the enemy’s skin before turning into dust.

Tizona the feared firebrand.

Yuushi momentarily panicked before the patterned blade, wildly leaping out of the way as it was thrust toward his chest. The magus dove laterally, charged to one side, and hastily swiped his blade and barrier command at it, splitting the weapon right down the center fuller.

Kusanagi of the multi-tailed Orochi. Crocea Mors the yellow death.

He flung the Japanese tsurugi as if a mere game of darts, tossing the enemy to the ground when wind scythed about the blade as it missed. The thick Roman weapon then splashed harmlessly into the soil as he thrust it down at the prone Yuushi, who picked himself up at the same time.

Kiku-ichimonji of the thirteen swordsmiths.

He swung with the precision of his right hand and the might of his left, shearing white hairs before swirling into a mist of sulfurous air.

Arondight the cursed light of the lake.

The black blade exploded in a flash of sparks; the blade manipulated by Yuushi’s spellwork but the energy behind the sword showering the magus in unfading light.

Hrunting the fanged hound. Nægling the jeweled skewer.

Both weapons broke into two as they collided with a small scalpel.

Tonbogiri the spear with wings.

Thrust.

Zulfiqar the sword of bifurcation.

Swing.

Mistilteinn the sword of Dead Apostles.

Stab.

Taming Sari the dancing kris.

Curtana of confession.

Gae Bolg the spear of heart impaling.

Caladbolg the spiral sword.

Thuan Thien the sword of three returns.

Durandal the paladin’s wish.

Muramasa the killing blade.

Shamshir-e the demon slayer.

Gram of the tree Barnstokk.

Kanshou and Bakuya the twin scimitars.

Joyeuse the sword of shifting colors.

Protesilaus’ Bane the spear of Hector.

Caliburn the golden kingmaker.

With the golden sword in hand, Shirou swung with all his might, and Yuushi raised his scalpel to cut.

The blades met, and halted before one another.

Yuushi was out of prana.

And Shirou Emiya—

His body, truly, was made of infinite swords.



I gasped for air, my lungs on fire, every nerve in my body feeling overwrought and empty of anything else to give, my muscles so deeply aching that I could count every single one individually. My bones creaked and I thought that if I moved any further, more steel would leap from everywhere in me, worse than ever before, and I would die from my own self-inflicted wounds.

But I forced weight into my arms and wrists, and forced opposition of his scalpel until his balance was off. Even out of prana, he could still cut me, and though I had survived a cut from him in our first encounter, I couldn’t trust my body to protect me in the same way this time, not when I was so low on prana—

I guided his weapon out of line until it was incapable of cutting me and then tried forcing him to overshoot me and run headlong into Caliburn. He twisted out of the way as I did and I only caught his sleeve, but the blade of Arturia sundered his Reinforcement just as easily as it had Berserker’s God Hand. It drew blood beneath the sleeve cut and Yuushi, momentarily distracted, faltered in raising his defense.

Spinning on my heel and making a 180-degree turn, I took a broad swipe.

Caliburn caught his scalpel’s flat and sheared the knife in two.



Yumi watched, in fascination, in delight, in terror, in fear—

Fear—

She felt the lives within her, felt as if their senses suddenly were batting down on hers, and she felt confusion as she tried to sort out why. She thought it might be possible that the lives within Yuushi calling out to her, some terrible connection between herself and them, calling out as they sought release as well, felt their impending demise and freedom to return to what was natural…

And then Yumi realized what it was.

Just outside this world of blades, like the pounding of the surf against the seashore, trying to add itself to the existence within.

She looked up to Sakura and uttered her fears—



And from without the boundary of the Reality Marble, from outside the existence of Shirou Emiya:

The darkness of a demon and of a demon together sought to penetrate and rape the illusionary world, and bring salvation or torment to those within.


Escaping Fate, This Body…, End

Techlet
August 20th, 2011, 06:59 AM
Zouken, even when reduced to a penis demon, still has the worst timing.

nitewind
August 20th, 2011, 10:49 AM
Oh crap. Well this ain't good.

Altima of the Gates
August 20th, 2011, 11:18 AM
Well the old codger couldn't let this go down without at least some resistance. But yeah, it's bad for our group, but hmm...

At least we'll either get 'em all in one shot, or go down swingin'.

ItsaRandomUsername
August 20th, 2011, 04:50 PM
Emiya is still as fitting of a BGM as ever in this one.

Noble Phantasm overload! I love it. Also, it's nice seeing Shirou use some spears in UBW for once, since those are bladed weapons of a sort.

Pata Hikari
August 20th, 2011, 06:40 PM
Well, that was pretty awesome.

Muramasa
August 20th, 2011, 10:41 PM
One thing I'm going to say, though it's a bit of a grey area, Durandal probably could have held up against Yuushi since it's a sword that's been blessed to forever keep it's sharpness. Yuushi probably couldn't dissolve it.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 20th, 2011, 10:49 PM
Well, any number of them could theoretically have held up against him. But he wasn't just transmuting them, he was also just actively cutting them in two, avoiding them, or actually taking them. I thought it'd get repetitive if I kept explaining each and every one of them though.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 23rd, 2011, 01:46 AM
AN: Short chapter. Really just bridging to the climax. But I have to keep them divided, as I get a little wacky with the narrative again next chapter (Note: Arashi heartily dislikes writing in 1st Person, yet is writing fanfiction for visual novels that always use 1st person; Arashi must be a masochist).


Escaping Fate
Chapter 21
Diablos Ex Machina


It was over.

Yuushi stumbled as I slashed at him, almost backing right into a sword and cutting himself at the shoulder. The magus scuttled about, trying to place distance between us, seemed to think that situating swords in my way would hinder me somehow. He tried plucking one from the ground, only to find it would not budge. He might have forgotten where exactly it was we were, and that nothing here moved without my intent.

“They say only those ready to risk their lives should take a life, so I hope you’re prepared,” I said. The swords between us seemed to shift—or I seemed to weave through them without deviating from a straight line—and I raised Caliburn over my head.

BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENdu4uf_nA4)

A shadow shot across the sky, tearing through the dawn light. I swung the blade on reflex, but the weapon passed into nothingness as my spell failed and the boundary of the Reality Marble crumbled.

And me along with it.

It felt like every atom in my body screamed for oxygen, and I fell to my knees, Avalon once more in hand, and had to lean on the scabbard to keep upright. My vision tunneled and swayed as if I were drunk, while every centimeter of my skin felt as if it were swimming in heat. My muscles wobbled beneath me and I could have sworn that it felt like someone had grabbed me by the hair as my scalp felt prickly. I forced my eyes to stay open and on Yuushi.

The magus stared back at me as one who had just escaped death by a hair’s breadth. The ghostly white of his hair and skin made his expression look even more shocked, though I’m not sure whether he was more terrified by his inability to access prana, the fact that I almost cut him, or that something had collapsed the Reality Marble from without.

“Senpai!”

I tore my gaze from my enemy and tried to focus in on Sakura’s voice, still at the window of the orphanage. Dots of darkness and light blurred my vision and I could only make out her vague silhouette, now taking on miniscule amounts of light as we approached morning.

Dammit…

Just…cooperate for a minute, body…

I coughed as something inside me tore loose. The taste of blood followed. Whatever had been holding me together before wasn’t working anymore.

The sound of a low hissing made it to my ears, and I groped around, trying to find my balance and turn around—

An undulating mass of fanged worms.

All I could manage was to lean against the scabbard as the mass, ignoring Caren and Tohsaka completely, came straight for me. I could literally feel the malicious intent, the feeling that somewhere in there, old man Zouken was ready to make me his next meal—

But an odd sense followed, disturbing and skin-crawling, similar to a twisted wantonness, and my eyes widened and began to focus.

It was in time to watch the mass leap right over me and come down atop the spent magus behind me.

BGM off



The desire within it could feel the desires within the others.

Their screams for release.

The malice cared not. Food for itself was enough to spread influence and power, and warp the reality around itself—

So darkness consumed upon darkness, and the desires within Setsuka Yuushi were granted their wish for release.



BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VI2W4RdlK04)

Any scream or cry that guy gave was drowned out by the rasping of the bugs moving about one another. Unlike Caren, who would have still had available prana to drain when she had been attacked by the demon, Yuushi was empty. Feeding directly on him would be…

I coughed again and spat out blood, then tried to get to my feet. A pulsing sensation ran right down my spine to my legs as I did so, and I made it completely up only to fall face-first into the ground.

“U—aghhhhhhhhhh,” I heard myself groan into the dirt.

I could raise my head just enough to see Tohsaka and Caren beyond. Tohsaka looked more cognizant than before, though the entire side of her shirt was burnt away and the skin showing looked like the leftovers inside an old stove heater. Caren had stopped any bloodflow from her neck, but she was still holding her hand there tightly…

I had Avalon, but I didn’t have any prana to give it, and even at that, it wouldn’t do any good in destroying this demon.

For those I couldn’t save, and those I will…

What hubris, if I can’t even save four people from one threat—



“Yumi-chan!”

She jumped from the window down to the earth below, past that mass of shadows that felt both like her and not her at all, to Shirou’s side.

He was breathing unevenly, blood running from the corners of his mouth. She tried to pull him over onto his back, and he cried out in pain, his free arm curling around his side.

The other held the golden and blue scabbard tightly.

She put her hands over his and tried to flow her prana into the device. She understood that it did not work like that, that the sheath was nothing more than a figment of his mind given shape, and that even if the real one were present placing her prana into it would do nothing.

But she could think of nothing more to do.

She had been saved, he had been saved.

She wanted to be able to save him, so he could save others.

She wanted to see that face of his, once more.

The expression that told her, explicitly, without any words, that it was alright to hope, and dream, and live on—



The demon ripped open Setsuka Yuushi and ate him from the inside.

It then turned to the center of itself and reformed, resembling once again the dragon-like demon from before, only larger, greater, with moving scales and fangs within fangs.

The enemy of a wannabe-knight must look appropriate, after all.

It moved around to face Shirou Emiya, and found itself kneeling over him as well.

Salvation, itself cried.

The demon would give them salvation, from this world and reality—

Yumi’s desires.

Zouken Makiri’s hatred.

The pleading lives stolen by Setsuka Yuushi.

They came down upon the enemy…

BGM off



I forced every bit of willpower into my arms, grabbing Yumi and pulling her down while rolling us over so the demon came down atop me instead—

It stopped, gibbering just beyond my face.

“Senpai! Yumi-chan!” Sakura was screaming. Something like ropes had bound up part of the creature, like a bridle and bit in its mouth, keeping the jaws from snapping down on us. I could feel the same stifling air as before, the mana in the air being sucked right out by every breath this thing took, and I could feel the flow of energy from the creature itself moving into the strands holding the creature back.

“Sakura, let go!” I tried to shout, but I’m not sure how far my voice carried.

Those fanged worms now moved along the strands, following the flow of prana, and if she didn’t let go…

Yumi was whispering something that I couldn’t hear, and I tried to move us so she could get out, but nothing listened to what I was telling it to do, every muscle in my body too exhausted and pained to care—



She stared at the illusionary phantasm, at the dream-like illusion that had saved his life, and saved hers.

She didn’t know who she was asking.

She just had a plea, a prayer, a wish.

“Please, I don’t have the power…but save him! Save him so he can save others!”


Escaping Fate, Diablos Ex Machina, End

deviatesfish
August 23rd, 2011, 01:56 AM
Yay

Techlet
August 23rd, 2011, 02:06 AM
Oh yes. Looking forward to the conclusion. I think I know where this is going.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 23rd, 2011, 02:07 AM
Oh yes. Looking forward to the conclusion. I think I know where this is going.

Goddammit noooooooooooo should've gone more subtle? ARGH

ItsaRandomUsername
August 23rd, 2011, 02:09 AM
Bet they really wish they could just nuke the infernal thing from orbit and be done with it. :p

Also, ESCAPING FATE should be entitled NO ESCAPING FROM WHITE-HAIRED PEOPLE. Whether it's Yumi, Yuushi, Caren, or even occasional mentions of Archer and Illya, white-haired characters are everywhere.

...Just a random observation.

Techlet
August 23rd, 2011, 02:12 AM
Goddammit noooooooooooo should've gone more subtle? ARGH

I've known what's going to happen from the start! Yumi is going to-

"Make a contract with me and become a magical girl!"

/人◕ ‿‿ ◕人\

Arashi_Leonhart
August 23rd, 2011, 02:18 AM
Huh. I thought for sure what you were thinking was giant tentacle monster orgy....

So I guess I'm safe, eh? WAIT--

Techlet
August 23rd, 2011, 02:23 AM
Huh. I thought for sure what you were thinking was giant tentacle monster orgy....

So I guess I'm safe, eh? WAIT--

That comes later, when Yumi instantly Witches and accidentally the world.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 24th, 2011, 04:48 AM
AN: And the other moment that may just break your suspension of canon disbelief. I tried to layer in subtle points that this is where I’ve been building up to the entire story, but, well, maybe it still just doesn’t work. We’ll see.

This specific chapter is very much inspired by certain lyrics in “New Divide” by Linkin Park.


Escaping Fate
Chapter 22
Reaching Fate


BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EylyYyalPFo)

The demon was born of many wishes: to reach salvation.

The lives taken by Setsuka Yuushi and connected to Yumi had wished it. Those tortured, pained lives with only the fleeting memories of loneliness in an orphanage followed by the cold of a naked table and unforgiving steel cutting into their very existences. It was not just a rape of the body, but a sundering of the soul.

Those lives had thrown their dark desires and pained wishes onto the body now possessing them, and had given birth to the demon. Every cut of the knife, every pressure on the soul, every muted death fueled them: the quiet wishes, the whispered curses, the words spoken into the corners of nowhere that could not hear.

What else could know the wishes one makes in the darkest moments of the night?

What else but a demon, a monster of nightmares?



Sakura leaped from the window, landing between the two buildings, and lanced the creature with her magic. The moment the strands connected, she instantly knew this would be a fatal mistake.

She could sense them—sense him—the moment her binding spell struck, and felt the awareness within, the awareness that knew her and could do any number of things to counter her.

But if she let go, the beast would consume Shirou and Yumi—

So she held on, and the same sensation of being a tool to Zouken Matou’s desires hit her like a collision in the pit of her stomach.

Worms crawled up her spell toward her—



This is what it is to be Zouken Matou:

The disgust at failure, the rage of loss, the fear of death, the malice toward those that made all of it true—

It writhed into itself, garbled screams of rage from tiny mouths, a hissing unlike the serpent but likewise feared by creatures that knew.

The demon gave it the shape of a dragon, and it could rage upon the heavens and earth as one.

It felt Sakura attempt to hold it down, and it felt the desire to hold her down once more, until she cried out the screams she had not uttered in years.

It felt Shirou Emiya just beyond, could smell him like one smelled the warmth in a forge, smelting in preparation of taking form. It wanted to eat him with all haste, until every bit of his existence was wiped from the face of the planet and all who had known him shuddered in agony at his passing that they forced him from their minds and forgot his very existence.

It hungered, in spite and malice.

This is what it is to be Zouken Matou.



Sakura Matou held on for the lives dear to her, lives she promised deep in her heart and aloud to one no longer here that she would help even in the face of death—

Rin Tohsaka cried out, bled, and wished she had the power to do something, to be the partner she always was, even if it wasn’t the partner he longed for—

Caren Ortensia clutched every hope she had, and on bended knee, prayed—

BGM off



Shirou tried to think, tried to bring to mind some weapon capable of defeating this thing. He couldn’t get them out, couldn’t risk moving or this thing would tear Yumi to pieces.

If you can’t beat it, imagine something that can.

The voice of someone long ago, now hardly anything more than an image itself. Shirou could recall those words, though, the meaning behind them, and how they had twice saved him.

He remembered the sword.

He could not reproduce it, could not even begin to forge its image to any level of the original’s perfection—

He had to remember it, remember her, clutching that golden light—



BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GbctgywNBg)

What is now lost from this world—

Those he moves forward for, despite their absence.

That Addition—

The beautiful sword, the divine sheath, the things he imagined as stronger than himself.

The one he loves—

What he sees, always, his eyes ever turned in that direction.

That perfection he can no longer reach—

To see it personified, to know that despite her sad fate, with someone like him.

Yumi could be saved. Her life saved by his actions, and the lives of those within her united, united by that one look.

His wish, to be an ally of justice.

Her wish, to see it come true.



The shade of wishes embodied in a demon, the malice of a man defeated and broken, the darkness of a man that took many lives for his own gain.

The form of a dragon, with scales that rippled and moved, every inch made up of fanged creatures ready to rape and consume.

Its tail curled up, snaked around the bindings of Sakura Matou, ready to skewer her—

Its mouth snarled, drawing in the very life force of the air, tasting the presence of Shirou Emiya—

BGM off



Could it be, because of Yumi’s wish? She was more than one person, more than the single girl, more than an unfortunate orphan that had seen her fair share of pain. She was a collective, additions stack up upon one another, a being that should not exist within one body. She had a wish, and wishes from humanity brought with it a great power.

Might it have been the desire held by those present? The one Sakura imagined behind her clenched eyes, the image that Rin conjured in the face of this desperate battle. They were more than the sum of each of the girls’ imaginations, like memories of a faraway and lonely memory, but one that was beautiful and gave them strength. Strength to believe in him.

Was it because of Shirou’s wish? He was nobody, a non-thing, someone who should no longer be in this world but was, a contradiction to the natural state of things. He lived for others, he put their lives above his own, he was less the concept of “human” and becoming more and more the concept of his world. Even those around him could see his existence reshaping into something tied down by the words ally of justice.

Could it be, because of the nature of that which attacked him? It was a demonic spirit, a thing of death and destruction and sorrow and despair, something that humans wished for to throw upon all their worldly woes upon to cleanse themselves. This shadow, this monster, now tried to destroy him from within; he, one who took upon the responsibility to look after the lives of those others, the fates of those that would discard him just as readily as a devil.

Perhaps it was the magic of the seeming, the mere image of perfection. His hand still wrapped in Yumi’s magic; that hand still gripping Avalon. This thing, not even his, which had saved the life of his father, had saved his life, had saved the life he had come upon. Might it be this magic had blessed this family just as readily as it had the girl who had drawn the sword from the stone?

Was it because he was made of swords, and had been the King’s sheath? The one blessed by the faeries considered him to be the very essence of what made her great, the heart of Arturia’s own dream, personified into a person. He was her sheath, more than holding it within his body, within his mind; he was one striving forever toward that distant utopia, chasing after a dream that was impossible in this world.

Might it have been the call of the world that had just dissolved? The place of victory, promised by the blade held in hand and the fate it now knew:

To be reunited to its sheath.

Shirou kept his memories of Saber deep within, as if her sword were within his mind’s eye, sheathed in the image of Avalon he always carried with him.

His world, their place of victory, a hill marked by the lives he fought with.

It is said by some that the Arthurian King resided beneath a hill, waiting to be released upon the world once more.

It is said by others that she rested in Avalon, ready to be called at a time of great need.



BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxV5oLFtwj8)

She had said it, believed it with all her heart, beyond just the thing he carried in his chest.

You were my sheath.

His world, a hill where many rested, bounded by her world, the distant dream.

She had carried her ideals to the end, for the sake of smiling faces. He could only pursue the same thing, and someday, prove with every fiber of his being that their choices were not wrong.

There is nothing in me that can replace you.

Yet everything in him was with her.

Ally, lover, dream—

Even if she were in another world, of faeries and slumber—

He carried a part of that world within him.

Even if she had died there, under that lonely tree—

Not even the Throne of Heroes could keep her from that place.



Honestly, there is no need to answer now. I am your sword. Who else but me can become your strength, Shirou?



Dawn broke early.

Light charged through the air, from every direction, in the same way the demon had cast its shadow over Unlimited Blade Works. It rang with the sound like a bell, severing the hollow noise of the demon’s cries, ringing pure through the grove. It cut into the tail of the beast and Sakura’s spell, severing the squealing hoards from their advance on the Matou girl, then flashed around and smashed into the snout of the draconic visage, crashing it into the gardens of the orphanage.

The creature cried out, a screech that, by sheer volume, was deeper than the accumulation of tiny fangs and insect mouths. It tried to steal the mana from the air to suffocate the existence in the world—

But the light kept the air warm and the sky bright.

It took on shape, like a human, yet still fast as light, flying overland as if on a charging steed and once more connected with the writhing darkness. A flash of gold like the flares of the sun streaked outward, fragmented, and floated to the green earth. Each tiny light bloomed as a lit candle, and suddenly the garden was alive.

The dragon smashed through the building, out of sight.

Light converged upon itself, and took on color beyond radiance.

Rin stared, incapable of processing what she saw before her eyes—

Sakura stared, struck by the light and presence she only knew in imagination—

Caren stared, as if catching a glimpse of divinity—

And Shirou stared, seeing what he thought to never lay eyes upon again in this world—

She stood amidst the once gardens of sin, untouchable, cloaked in blue, holding before her that which exceeded the hopes of a mere many.

Humanity’s light.

Yumi watched, etching everything onto the souls within her that cried out, now, not in pain or desire, but understanding—

An addition that now made everything she saw in Shirou complete.

And a voice, promising victory.

“EX—”

The dragon charged to meet a force of nature. Even as the malice within raged, hated, cursed—

The demons knew their place.

Wishes, curses, hopes, desires—

Sought salvation at the hands of glory ignited.

Radiance blazed.

“—CALIBUR!”



The curses from the stolen lives were silenced, given release.

The malice of Zouken Matou ended before it could suffuse further despair.

The legacy of Setsuka Yuushi ended in a lonely garden.

BGM off

http://pics.livejournal.com/zekk_skywalk/pic/0003p4qe



The light faded and was overcome by light.

Morning.

The horizon peeked light through the trees, no longer blocked by a house that had raised children to die. The building had been razed completely flat.

The woman in blue turned, a sincere smile touching her lips, and though her eyes went to each of them in turn, they really only belonged to one.

He smiled back to her.



BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVO-mnvcneE)

And Yumi saw it, saw the addition, saw its completion—

Saw that Shirou was, finally, in her mind’s eye, whole.

If but only for a moment, she took it in, and clutched the vest she wore.

She knew now why he had always seemed more complete when with that sword, her sword, different from the one the woman held now, and yet the same.

Everything of him was with her.

And maybe, Yumi thought:

Everything of her was with him.



They converged on Shirou, Rin and Sakura to either side to help him up, and he grinned sheepishly.

She said, “You appear to have found trouble again, Master.”

He tried to find words, but managed only, “Yeah.”

“Can you make it home safely?”

He looked to either side: Sakura, rattled but safe and secure, and Rin, hurt but still somehow healing, possibly due to the sheath he held in the hand around her shoulders. He looked to Yumi, who was watching him with curious eyes, then to Caren, who had wrapped a bandage around her neck and nodded upon meeting his gaze. “Yeah.”

Amusement danced through her eyes. “You seem to be at a loss for words.”

“…Yeah.”

She smiled again, then carefully met his gaze. “You know where I will be, though I go there now to rest.”

Shirou nodded, and he watched her raise the blade she held. He shifted his grip on Avalon and held it out in turn. “Saber,” Shirou said, as the golden woman looked back up, “I have something to tell you.”

The fading light in her hands was shrouded, and Saber gave him a curious look.

“I’ll tell you the next time we meet,” he said, smiling.

A faint huff, though she still met his smile with her own. “Then I’ll be waiting.”

And she was gone.



Yumi watched as Shirou watched her go.

And when the woman of gold and blue had gone, she turned to look out toward the rising day.

Could it have been fate, that as the sunrise of his world gave way to the sunrise of the next day, it had become Tanabata, when Orihime and Hikoboshi could meet once more across the vast distance of heaven?


Escaping Fate, Reaching Fate, End


And herein is the other side of what truly got this story going. If the image of Shirou rescuing the Higurashi orphans is what started this, the image of a demon born of wishes being wiped out by Saber borne on wishes is what closed it out. The concept of “wishing” in the Nasuverse is complex and not always positive, just as in mythology, where the very nature of language and words has the power to curse or bless. I wanted a story revolving around that.

If you’ve tracked the bit of dates I’ve snuck in, you’ll realize this is July 7th of 2007. Not the traditional date, mind you, but, I believe the Kansai region Fuyuki is theoretically in uses this date for Tanabata.

Only an Epilogue to go.

Techlet
August 24th, 2011, 06:05 AM
And Saber once again sheathes herself inside Shirou.

Though I knew this moment was coming (I couldn't help but peak at your notes), I was still shivering in anticipation throughout the first half or so. It was executed brilliantly, well done.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 24th, 2011, 06:10 AM
(I couldn't help but peak at your notes)

You came over my notes? That's just bizarre.

Techlet
August 24th, 2011, 06:19 AM
You came over my notes? That's just bizarre.

I have no regrets.

Alulim
August 24th, 2011, 12:51 PM
After all, that was the only path.

Larekko12
August 24th, 2011, 01:34 PM
Divine. This enriches the soul. You have nothing to be ashamed of in this work. Thank you for this blessing.

Muramasa
August 24th, 2011, 02:18 PM
Epic. I can think of no other word to describe this.

ItsaRandomUsername
August 24th, 2011, 06:01 PM
I can't complain. I've seen people pull off bigger asspulls less-seamless as this one.

Seriously, I particularly enjoyed this one.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 24th, 2011, 06:15 PM
You mean Nine Lives Blade Works in worse fanfiction and shounen series, though, right? Why is Ichigo suddenly a vasto lorde, and then suddenly not and still alive despite the hole in his chest a few minutes ago?

Pata Hikari
August 24th, 2011, 07:16 PM
Pretty awesome.

nick012000
August 24th, 2011, 07:43 PM
You mean Nine Lives Blade Works in worse fanfiction and shounen series, though, right? Why is Ichigo suddenly a vasto lorde, and then suddenly not and still alive despite the hole in his chest a few minutes ago?
Ichigo didn't turn into a Vasto Lorde; a Vasto Lorde is a Menos Grande, a form of super-hollow created by a bunch of hollows merging with each other. Ichigo just turned into a regular hollow (or not even that, given how Zangetsu called it a "partial hollowfication"), albeit one that was extremely powerful due to how much spirit power he possesses when he's truly letting loose. Also, shinigami and hollows only die when either their head is severed or they're mortally wounded and their spirit power is sufficiently destroyed that they can no longer ignore their wounds.

ItsaRandomUsername
August 24th, 2011, 07:49 PM
You mean Nine Lives Blade Works in worse fanfiction and shounen series, though, right? Why is Ichigo suddenly a vasto lorde, and then suddenly not and still alive despite the hole in his chest a few minutes ago?

Yes.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 24th, 2011, 07:53 PM
snip

I hear blah blah blah Kubo turns stuff around on a whim most of Bleach is told visually Ichigo looks like a vasto blah blah bored now. Also, was using a random example to be funny.

nick012000
August 26th, 2011, 03:31 PM
I hear blah blah blah Kubo turns stuff around on a whim most of Bleach is told visually Ichigo looks like a vasto blah blah bored now. Also, was using a random example to be funny.
Not my fault you're too lazy to actually know the canon of the series you're lambasting. ;)

Arashi_Leonhart
August 27th, 2011, 07:10 AM
If I took the time to fill my head with Shounen Jump canon materials, there would literally be nothing left in my brain to process anything else.


Notes up here, just cause it looks ugly otherwise.

*If you join an Archery club in Japan, a lot of the first year is often just spent flexing with oversized rubber bands to build up the arm strength necessary to pull a bowstring.

**Northern China had a slave ring busted in 2007…




Epilogue
Escaping Fate


BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErttGQvvp5I)

“Trace, on.”

The blade that formed in his hands appeared as if identical to the naked eye as the one held by the woman in blue. It had the same shape, the same inner light, the same sharp edge and strong, thick grip.

“What a bad reproduction,” the young man said, shaking his head ruefully.

The sword was hollow, not just within the image itself, but missing everything that made up the heart of its power. He knew, after trying it out so many times now, that he would never be able to remake it, never be able to come even anywhere close. It was not just the elemental forging that the blade had undergone originally, but something in him incapable of filling in the missing holes his Tracing created.

He thought, too, that perhaps he was just not meant to be able to reforge it. It was not like Caliburn, now lost forever to the world, or any number of the other Phantasms he had seen inside Gate of Babylon.

It still existed, still lay with those that forged it, along with the one who wielded it.

“Something is missing, huh?”

Shirou looked up to find Yumi watching him from the porch. The flickering light from the television had gone out, and he wondered as he often did when she caught him, how long he had an audience. He waved the Excalibur reproduction around. “Yeah. If I hit something with it, I think it would probably crumple like paper.”

He regarded Yumi as she continued to watch the weapon he had made. In the days since her demon possession and the attack from Yuushi, he had finally noticed a unity in her that had been missing before. With the curses within her cast off and the one who had caused her so much grief irrevocably gone, she seemed to have found a bit more focus than before and had not demonstrated the same flash of multiple emotions. They were certainly still present, but he could watch as she went from one to another rather than wonder if her head would explode from feeling too many things all in a single instant.

Even if it had nearly cost them all their lives, Shirou thought, if she had gained some measure of peace, it had been worth it.

“SHIROU! I FEEL LIKE A SNACK! PEEL ME SOME FRUIT!”

Even if he had been Rin Tohsaka’s personal manslave while she recovered from her wounds.

He sighed, glancing over to the guest house. The burns she had suffered now merely looked like very bad sunburn that would eventually heal, though the first few days had kept her bedridden for the most part. Now, though, he thought she was probably doing it just because she could.

Shirou turned back to Yumi, who held her hands out in supplication. He grinned ruefully, putting the sword in her hands. “Be right back.”

When Yumi could hear the sound of Shirou gathering some plates from the kitchen, she carefully held out the weapon he had brought forth.

It was beautiful, though it lacked everything that made up the one Yumi had caught a glimpse of before. Unlike Caliburn, this sword was something Shirou still had no ability to call a part of him, and Yumi thought she understood why.

When you stare forever at the light ahead of you, you become blind to the light within you.

Without others, Shirou was an absence; he had to be in the process of saving others that he could actually show through.

Saving others like her.

Then…light of humanity, I’ll show you. What he is to people like me.

“Henge.”

BGM off



Days passed, and life returned to normal.

Without the darkness of curses within her, Yumi’s life returned to something as it had been encroaching upon before. In the face of the bullying she had received before, she had risen to face the whispers and the glares by risking even more.

She had dyed her hair blond and pulled it up into an intricate braid.

“Wow, that looks just like this one person Shirou and I used to know,” Taiga had said upon the first day of class she had worn it.

Of course, it had attracted attention, positive and negative. But when some of the same girls that had pushed her buttons before had approached her, Takumi Hoshino had interrupted. “The blond does look more natural,” he had said, carefully sliding up next to her with his bento box as if it had been their plan the entire day to eat together, “And thanks for braiding your hair; I wish everybody else did something to keep it out of the way for club practice.”

Which had sent the other girls scurrying away to choose a different battle.

“Speaking of that, do you want to try shooting today, just to see how it feels?” he asked.

“Really?” Yumi beamed. “No more pulling the rubber bands?”*

He shrugged. “I thought I’d let all the first years try, just this week, to get a taste of what they’re actually building up to. And to measure how far along they’ve come on the pull.”

So, after school…

Thwip!

Takumi stared at the target. He then looked to where the arrow had embedded itself in the wall many hand spans away. “Ah…arm strength is good, but…you really…aren’t very good at aiming, are you?”

Yumi glared.



BGM on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15vbpnY3KwA)

Despite the summer months’ extension on days, it was nearing sundown when Shirou, Rin, and Sakura had come to the school grounds, looking for Yumi. They had called her phone before dinner, but after not hearing back, had decided to go looking for her.

And upon peeking into the Archery Club’s training hall, had retreated quickly, grinning the entire time.

“So—” Rin had started.

“Adorable!” Sakura had finished.

Shirou gave them an exaggerated frown. “You guys aren’t going to badger her about that, are you? I mean, won’t it embarrass her?”

“It is a parent or guardian’s duty to mess with the child when they catch her in an older boy’s arms,” Rin said.

“He was showing her how to aim,” Shirou defended.

Sakura gave something between a smile and a Tohsaka-esque smirk. “Isn’t the father of the house supposed to be even more about rattling said older boy? Just think of what Fujimura-sensei tried to do to Saber-san, only reverse the genders.”

“Yes,” Shirou said dryly, “I default upon Fuji-nee’s wisdom when thinking of how to raise children. The next one will also do my laundry and cook my breakfast and dinner.”

They had wandered onto the sports field while talking, the girls for the express purpose of killing time until they absolutely had to call Yumi home—Shirou only because he was following their lead. When Sakura almost tripped over a soccer ball left out, she picked it up and noted the variety of other equipment left out. “Someone hasn’t been doing their cleaning job.” Shirou had already grabbed two more when she turned to look at him.

“Geez, what’re they teaching kids nowadays?” Rin grumbled, though she joined in helping gather the wayward things.

It looked as if some kids, perhaps in preparation for the sports festivals that would be coming in the near future, had been out practicing late and then not bothered to clean up. And when they came to the track equipment—

There. Rin saw the thought as it passed through Shirou’s mind.

There. Sakura saw the thought as it passed through Shirou’s mind.

The highjumps he once had done, a lifetime ago. Striving to do something he was incapable of.

It was useless now, of course. With magic, by Reinforcing his legs, he could easily manage to leap beyond the height it was set for. With that kind of trick, he could make it effortless. It was no longer the same unattainable goal.

With a grin, Shirou took a quick dash up to the bar, leapt up, and gracefully arced over it onto the mat below.

Rin raised her eyebrow. Sakura tilted her head.

Shirou rolled back up to his feet, his hair now a mess—more of a mess. He laughed, and that laugh sounded like a mere child at play.

“That was cheating, you know,” Rin said.

Shirou smiled at the girls, and shrugged. “Yeah. I’m not good enough without rigging the system.” He glanced back up at the jump bar, then stood himself up and went to take it down, along with the rest of the equipment. “But I never really believed in a no-win situation anyway, so, why should I start now?”

BGM off



BGM on (http://youtu.be/0-wj096n5zA?t=8s)

The air was cold enough that frost could form about lips simply by breathing.

He stood on the hill overlooking the facility, eyeing the points of entry and the occasional bout of movement his Reinforced eyes could make out. The factory surround, so out of the way, was yet still busy with the lights from inside the factory as the slave ring within kept people cracking with the proverbial whip.**

The white-haired priestess beside him peered through a normal set of binoculars. “And you’re sure about this? I mean, the Agency still has an operative in Japan that we can call on.”

“I need to make up for all the help you’ve given me, right? Besides, it doesn’t matter to me who asks for help, whether the Church or the Magic Association or anyone else,” he said. “And it isn’t like I could go back, now that I’ve seen the people here.”

Caren sighed. “The demon warping the area here has already erected a form of boundary field. I can’t even look into the windows without getting a ‘look in the other direction, everything is fine here’ sensation.” She put the binoculars away. “You sure you can piece such a strong illusion?”

“Yeah,” he said, reading his bow. “I think I can.”

“Well then,” Caren said, readying sets of Black Keys.

He raised the curved weapon before him, his voice becoming solemn. “Fate had finally found me.”

He took aim at the generator atop the roof of the building.

“Her voice was enough to assure victory.”

“May the lord have mercy on your souls,” Caren said, clasping her hands before her chest in prayer.

“May this reach the king that cannot be reached—”

The golden sword formed in hand, still a mere illusion itself. Yet, even so, even a mere fraction of the power one not named “Arturia” could create…

“Excalibur Image!”

It still had the hopes of many behind it, to exalt the man now facing a battlefield of his own.


Fin

Techlet
August 27th, 2011, 07:39 AM
And the bar strikes again.

Though I wonder what Shirou's reaction was to Yumi's new hairstyle.

Now that this has ended, will we be expecting Far Side soon? :D

Arashi_Leonhart
August 27th, 2011, 07:52 AM
And the bar strikes again.

Now, the question is, how many teenage girls staying after hours saw it from the windows, and fell in love?


Though I wonder what Shirou's reaction was to Yumi's new hairstyle.

I assumed he'd be rather nostalgic upon seeing it for the first time, but not really say anything. It wasn't really important and though I considered putting in said reaction, it didn't quite fit in the flow of the story.


Now that this has ended, will we be expecting Far Side soon? :D

I'm going to go through the Let's Play of Tsuki--I don't have an easily-accessible copy of it on my little netbook here, it's HD is too full of porn anime--and start really planning things out in earnest first. I also really, really want to get some neglected original material stuff done before school starts up for me in the next month.

Shorter answer: I may have the routeless "Chapter 1" up for it in the near future with the route options, but I won't have a (Hisui route) "Chapter 2" out for a while.

Techlet
August 27th, 2011, 08:05 AM
And how did he take Yumi charging his laser Excalibur?

Though now I kind of want to see a sequel with Shirou going around the world with Caren busting bad guys.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 27th, 2011, 08:12 AM
And how did he take Yumi charging his laser Excalibur?

That...I left intentionally mysterious. I like leaving technobabble-related things to the imagination if I can, just usually Type Moon-ists all have to hear you babble on early or else they don't believe you're trying to pay attention. So, up for interpretation.


Though now I kind of want to see a sequel with Shirou going around the world with Caren busting bad guys.

Initially, I thought of doing three separate epilogues, one according to any romance (or not) that the reader took on chapter 14, though A) I've found most people just read both lemons anyway the pervs and B) I'm too lazy. I may just make one-shots of Fate Shirou with Caren, UBW Shirou with Rin, and HF Shirou with Sakura if I feel the urge to write something like that.

deviatesfish
August 27th, 2011, 08:13 AM
So beautiful.

Techlet
August 27th, 2011, 08:21 AM
That...I left intentionally mysterious. I like leaving technobabble-related things to the imagination if I can, just usually Type Moon-ists all have to hear you babble on early or else they don't believe you're trying to pay attention. So, up for interpretation.

The way I see it, Shirou'd be all like "Oh my god. Who touched Excalibur?... WHO TOUCHED MY SWORD?!"


Fate Shirou with Caren

Yes. The daddy issues will be delicious.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 27th, 2011, 08:23 AM
Okay, in which case, that's left for interpretation--all but Tech's interpretation, which is wrong. Because it'd be, "WHO TOUCHED MY NOT-ACTUALLY-MY SWORD?!"

ItsaRandomUsername
August 27th, 2011, 08:26 AM
I like Caren, especially the sort of dynamic that she and Shirou had in Escaping Fate. I'll second that notion.

Techlet
August 27th, 2011, 08:27 AM
Okay, in which case, that's left for interpretation--all but Tech's interpretation, which is wrong. Because it'd be, "WHO TOUCHED MY NOT-ACTUALLY-MY SWORD?!"

Close enough.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 27th, 2011, 08:53 AM
Also, the ending song is the first ED from the anime Gosick. The full version (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_4FfhDPOaI) has rather fitting lyrics:

Loneliness fighting back again
Seems to be like it never ends
Give us hope, through the love of
peaceful shine on me

In the heavy never-ending rain, I've forgotten how to smile
such is this world where we pass by suffering

In the midst of the lies and arguments
has my heart withered away?

Just like a flower floating in the raging waves
Lead the way, ride across the storm

Like putting your foot firmly on the barren land
Go ahead, you can start walking straight forward

The dreams that ought to be here
and the hopes that have been forgotten
stab at my rusted heart

I stuff my scream away deep in myself
to flee from the pain, unable to believe in anything

Rather than grieving about my current situation
where I held doubts and hatred

Like a singing bird in the raging wind
Sing away let it resound high in the sky

Like lighting up the darkening sky
Look ahead, see how it radiantly shines

Memories of joy and happiness, in order to take them back,
Everyone is looking for it, reach out to the light, ah...

Leave me with the endless days that last forever
without holding back

Just like a flower floating in the raging waves
Lead the way, ride across the storm

Like putting your foot firmly on the barren land
Go ahead, you can start walking straight forward

ItsaRandomUsername
August 27th, 2011, 08:59 AM
Reminds me that I need to watch GoSick. ;_;

nitewind
August 27th, 2011, 06:05 PM
What? It's over? NOOOOO!!!!!! Jokes aside I really enjoyed this fic. I hope for many more good things. For some reason I'm now imagining (hoping) Yumi making appearances in another one of your fics.

Pata Hikari
August 28th, 2011, 01:34 AM
A beautiful story.

Ergast
August 29th, 2011, 01:24 PM
Initially, I thought of doing three separate epilogues, one according to any romance (or not) that the reader took on chapter 14, though A) I've found most people just read both lemons anyway the pervs and B) I'm too lazy. I may just make one-shots of Fate Shirou with Caren, UBW Shirou with Rin, and HF Shirou with Sakura if I feel the urge to write something like that.

I want to say "Damn it, Arashi!" but it would be unfair. Besides that, I loved the fic so it would be twice unfair.

Beautiful don't do justice to your story. I loved it.

BTW,


And the bar strikes again.


Now, the question is, how many teenage girls staying after hours saw it from the windows, and fell in love?

now I'm picturing Shirou, Rin and Sakura, after said jump, watching over ten teenage girls who have seen Shirou jumping the BAR and thinking: "Oh, shit!".

Arashi_Leonhart
August 29th, 2011, 01:31 PM
now I'm picturing Shirou, Rin and Sakura, after said jump, watching over ten teenage girls who have seen Shirou jumping the BAR and thinking: "Oh, shit!".

...Should've used that for an omake.

Neir
August 30th, 2011, 02:10 PM
This was just beautiful. There are no words. ;___;

jwang
August 30th, 2011, 10:34 PM
^This. This so much. I'm going to shout this recommendation everywhere I can.

HopelessRomanticist
August 30th, 2011, 11:11 PM
Ditto. An absolutely wonderful, original story. I wish I could write with a fraction of this skill, or have ideas this good. If this hasn't been Recommended on TvTropes I'm going to do it right now.

Thank you so very, VERY much for this.
HR

rajvir
August 31st, 2011, 02:14 PM
this is a truely amazing story I loved it once I started reading I could not stop tectencly I skipped lunch to continue reading it is that good.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 31st, 2011, 02:36 PM
You really should, you know, eat. It's not even like a video game where you need your hands or something.

Edit: wtf how did this jump like 2000 views since I last looked? *reads earlier posts on tv tropes* ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.


Edit 2: It's been a bit since I finished this now, so I'll go ahead and put apocryphal notes up in this post.

Yumi
弓美 bow beautiful; homonym for 強 strong, 弱 weak, and 癒海 healing sea
-Yuushi’s latest victim. Bears some similarities to Illya and Saber. Due to the transplant of magical circuits, Yumi is a “composite” (composite bow? haha) of many people magically and her Reality Marble (though never deployed) would be of the sea, the one place she recalls, both harsh in sound but pleasant, composed of a multitude of tiny particles to make up a whole [Endless Addition]. Excels at Alteration magecraft (middle step between Reinforcement and Projection) due to how the magical circuits in her body were forcibly added; her soul has an innate record of how to alter things to give them different properties.
-Prana output would equal something like 30 circuits at an output of 20 units of prana a piece. Upwards 1000 total prana.
-Origin forcibly changed to "Addition."
-Reality Marble "Endless Addition" impossible to deploy due to the lack of ability to self-hypnotize. Basic output of magic is fine as she can keep her attention centered for short Alteration uses, but being able to do an UBW-style chant would be impossible because of the various levels of "awareness" she has within herself. If she had Sion-level partitioning ability, perhaps, though her intellect is nowhere on that level.
-Not meant to be an "Archerko" or anything. Didn't even know what that was until someone on FFN brought it up. Yumi lives her life idealizing Shirou but doesn't mimic him like Shirou does to Kiritsugu. The vague idea is that because she is "many people" and she "worships" him, he might give him a through-line toward Heroic Spirit status without contracting with the world. The last bit with Excalibur is meant to imply that. Also, she finds she isn't that great an archer for the same reason she couldn't deploy a RM. Zen is beyond her.
-Looks something like a white-haired Itsuwa (http://images.wikia.com/to-aru-majutsu-no-index/images/7/7a/Itsuwa_profile.jpg) from Raildex...though a more modest figure. Seiyuu would be Kana Hanazawa (http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/people.php?id=53741).

Setsuka Yuushi
切下 cut below 由強 via intense
-Attempting to transfer magical circuits and seeing the resulting effect on the soul. Uses metal-elemental magic and boundary fields capable of physical interaction.
-Origin: Connect
-After self-inflicted soul transfers, prana output something like 40 circuits, 40 units of prana per, upwards 5000 units of prana total.
-Looks kinda like Sebastian (http://www.glogster.com/media/8/41/43/95/41439586.jpg) from Black Butler. Seiyuu would be Takahiro Sakurai (http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/people.php?id=5039).

Takumi Hoshino
工 artisan 星野 starfield
-Yumi’s senpai and a former kohai of Sakura’s. Nonmagical lineage, but possesses some innate talent (Jougan Pure Eyes?) that allows him to be aware intuitively of Sakura’s painful experiences and Yumi’s “full” soul. He keeps his distance, because he is well aware that Yumi will have to figure things out herself first before she can gain any kind of “help” from it. Captain of the Archery Club.
-Origin: watchful.
-Would look something like a shorter Mori (http://images4.fanpop.com/image/photos/18100000/Takashi-Morinozuka-takashi-morinozuka-18198942-640-480.jpg) from Ouran. Seiyuu would be Yuuichi Nakamura (http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/people.php?id=15878).


UBW arsenal chants

Didn't use them all...just started writing it all down so I wouldn't have to worry about it later.

Caliburn – Her will sought eternity and found hope/her fate was promised to victory/imitation sword of the ruler Caliburn

Excalibur – Fate had finally found me/your voice was enough to assure victory/imitation light of the world Excalibur

Thuan Thien – The celestial court sends this mandate of rule/imitation broken sword Thuan Thien

Moralltach – Air spit into the deadly foe/imitation great blade Moralltach

Gae Bolg – Pierce my glass heart with prejudice/imitation barbed death Gae Bolg

Shamshir-e Zomorrodnegar – The horned demon’s fang cries out in agony/imitation encrusted sword Shamshir-e

Kusanagi – The fourth tail is my domain/take the fire of my light into battle with beasts/imitation sword of the beast Kusanagi

Arondight – The blood of a knight will be spilled/the light of the lake will yet fade/imitation dark blade Arondight

Curtana – Admit to the world all of your unholy sins/imitation confessor Curtana

Durandal – Endure through the pains of the world/imitation sword of peerless knights Durandal

Zulfiqar – I can cut all things in two/imitation cutter Zulfiqar


UBW chant

Aloud:
I am the bone of my sword.
Steel is my body and fire is my blood.
I have created over a thousand blades.
Unaware of loss,
Nor aware of gain.
Withstood pain to create many weapons.
For those I couldn't save, and those I will,
I have no regrets, this is the only path.
My whole life has been "Unlimited Blade Works."

Internal:
His body is made of swords.
His blood is of iron and his heart is of glass.
He survived countless battles.
Not even once retreating,
Not even once victorious.
The bearer lies here alone.
He was saved by others buried in a hill of swords.
Thus, his life needs no meaning.
His body, truly, was made of infinite swords.


New NPs

Thuan Thien - The sword of Le Loi, a kind of Vietnamese sword-in-the-stone kingmaker. When the blade of the sword was caught in the net of a fisherman, he tossed it away, but the blade returned to him twice more the same way.

Shamshir-e - The sword of Amir Arsalan. A great demon was immune to all damage except by way of this sword. Anti-demonic.

Kusanagi - The sword the god Susanoo found in the fourth tail of the orochi, a sort of Japanese hydra. Could command the wind.

Curtana - A sword possessed by various people in different myths and legends, though referenced here to being Ogier the Dane's weapon. Was supposedly shaved down to fit Ogier's stature.

Zulfiqar - The sword of the knight Ali, a soldier in Mohammad's army. He took the sword and faced the greatest of their enemies with it, sundering the enemy's shield, armor, and body completely in half with one blow.

Everlake - The shield of Galahad, made by King Everlake, supposedly with a red cross painted by the blood of Joseph of Arimathea. A shield with properties meant specifically to protect against phantasmal beings such as demons and wraiths.


Avalon notes
-Shirou uses Avalon in a not-seen sequence after the end of the prologue in an attempt to heal Yumi. It doesn't actually heal her so much as give her the state of mind to continue to resist until healing can come. This is where she gets the initial "feeling" of what Shirou is and why she feels the absence in him when he's doing everyday things, since he's no longer carrying the physical Avalon with him anymore (had she met him prior to FSN, she'd feel it all the time).
-Shirou uses Avalon again, the second time, to try and save her from the possession. Note that it does not heal her, it separates her from the influence of the possession.
-Shirou's use of Avalon to try and save Rin is not meant to actually save her--she doesn't gain any healing from it. This is supposed to represent his default reliance upon the image of Saber as a figure to aspire toward. It is the step he needs to deploy UBW though. Rin is less damaged from the transmuted area due to Reinforcement and her Crest doing everything it can to save her.
-Whether Traced Avalon actually calls to Saber as a gateway to the realm of the faeries, whether Shirou still "carries" Saber with him in a more literal sense, whether the "multiple" prayers in Yumi calls down Heroic Spirit Arturia, or any other issue about Saber's appearance is left up to the reader.


Timeline

February 2005 - Events of FSN (yes, non-canonical, whatever).
July 2006 - Shirou, Rin, and Sakura rescue Yumi from Yuushi.
February 2007 - Yumi gets first glance of Shirou practicing with swords. Taiga returns from sabbatical.
April 1st 2007 - Yumi starts school, and the same week starts trying to practice magic.
April 7th - Dead Apostle fight.
Golden Week (April 29-May 5) - Yumi shows Shirou her magical abilities. Dead Apostle attacks.
June 29 - Yumi has a fight with kids at school.
July 4 - Demon possession.
July 5 - Fight with demon in graveyard. Yuushi attacks the Emiya house.
July 6 - Regrouping at the orphanage.
July 7 - Fight at the orphanage.