To help readers make a better idea of the story, I post this chapter containing some action. Next one will take a week, however.
Disclaimer: thanks, Ars Poetica, for Betaing. I don't own any Type-Moon material.
Day Two"Shirou…" Taiga said sleepily, observing Saber. "There is a woman in your kitchen."
Whirlpool of Fate
"It's just a dream, Fuji-nee," the teen smiled, crossing his fingers. "You are just dreaming."
"Ah, ok," she replied, taking water in the refrigerator, and she left as quickly as she came. "I can't believe I'm dreaming of Shirou doing dirty things in the kitchen."
Shirou sighed once her out of sight. "Well, that was unexpected…"
"Who was it?" Saber asked softly.
"My teacher and guardian," the Master replied before quickly switching the subject. "Saber… does this mean no one can surrender?"
"No," the Servant replied with a hint of sorrow, "All the people branded with the Command Seals must die. You cannot give them to others. When you made the choice to participate, the option of abandoning vanished."
"I didn't know I would have to kill others," he snapped. But then, he remembered the phone. What it takes to win my wish… he thought. That was what it meant! And I accepted like the idiot I am.
"I am not happy with it either," Saber replied. "But, unfortunately, it is the way things are. As your Servant, I will protect you from your enemies. I will be your shield and sword."
Shirou didn't answer. "Thanks," he finally said, inwardly wishing it was a nightmare. "By the way, it appears you are going to stay there for a time. Your armor seems… heavy. I think Fuji-nee has some clothes that might work for you."
"Thank you," Saber said with a nod.
After a quick search, he ended up giving Saber a white collared shirt with long sleeves, a blue skirt, black tights, and brown boots. Then, to her amazement, he turned around to leave the room. "Shirou, what are you doing?"
"Isn't it obvious? I'm giving you some privacy."
"I am a Servant, Shirou," Saber said. "It would be better if you considered me a sword and not a human."
"It might be better, but I won't do it," he replied with a tone that clearly conveyed the finality of his decision. "You are no weapon, Saber. You are a person, no matter how you perceive yourself."
Saber didn't argue, probably still astonished at his actions. Shirou inwardly frowned. Was it really that surprising for her? What kind of life had she lived, if this was the case?
After a moment, Shirou observed the newly clothed Saber. Her armor had vanished, probably through some kind of Magecraft, and now she looked… almost normal. "Perfect," he whispered. "I'll show you to the guest room."
Saber looked downright troubled. "Shirou, I can't sleep away from you. I would prefer to stay in your room, in case of an attack."
There was only one possible answer to this. "No," he said, "Just… just, no."
"Why?" She apparently couldn't get it. "I must be able to protect you all the time."
"You are a girl, I am a boy," he spoke as if it explained everything. To him, it probably sufficed.
"I already told you, I am a s-"
"No, Saber," Shirou shot back. "You are a person and will be treated as such. That's final. My decision cannot be changed."
The Servant frowned in displeasure. "You are a very stubborn person."
"It's my life story."
BreakHer land was in ruin.
Her kingdom died with her. The red knight had destroyed it all. Leaving only pain and destruction behind. Even in death, he won. Soon, she would follow him to the grave.
Her sword had returned to the Lady of the Lake. Her body would rest forever, on a holy island. But her people would only know destruction. She had failed them, as a king.
If only someone else could have replaced her. If only her failures had never happened. She needed... help. She needed... to see her wish fulfilled.
She needed a miracle.
In the morning, Shirou woke up a bit earlier, mainly to prepare a breakfast for three, and to chase that strange dream from his mind. After taking his shower and clothes, he stared through the windows.
The fog was still as thick as last day.
Preparing food in the kitchen, Shirou was surprised to see Saber being the first one up. She didn't seem to hold a grudge against him for last night's argument… She nodded at him. "Good morning, Shirou."
"Good morning, Saber. What would you like to eat?"
"I am not picky," she stated, Taiga entering the kitchen at the same instant. After saying good morning, she went very still, her eyes moving from Saber to Shirou.
"Good morning, Fuji-nee," the teen smiled.
"Am I still dreaming?" she asked with a sigh.
"No. You're awake."
Taiga shrugged, "I didn't think you were like that, Shirou. Who is she?"
"Saber," he replied. "She's a friend of my father. She came to visit us once she learnt he had passed away." The lie was simple, and believable. Kiritsugu knew many people overseas. "She will be staying here for a time."
"I was shocked to learn Kiritsugu had died," Saber said. "You have my condolences."
Shirou frowned. He never dropped his father's name. How could she know? Crossing gaze with his Servant, he clearly read into her thoughts. I will explain later,her looks conveyed.
"Well, I see no reason why you shouldn't stay," Taiga smiled. She obviously wanted to ask a few questions, but she seemed to restrain herself. "Welcome in the household, Saber-san."
Saber and Taiga went along well, and proved to be quite similar. Both were good with swords… and big eaters. In spite of her thin appearance Saber could eat alot. This war would ruin his bank account because of that, or so Shirou thought.
After breakfast, both Shirou and Saber left for the school, very early. In fact, the teen just wanted an explanation with his Servant. "You knew my father, right?" he guessed, as he tried to find his way through the fog.
"Yes," Saber replied, before dropping a bomb. "He was my Master in the previous Holy Grail War, ten years ago."
Shirou stopped walking in the middle of the street. His mind cranked at full speed to connect the dots. "The fire… it's a result of the war!" He swore. "That's why he was present!"
"What happened, exactly?" Shirou asked, "Tell me everything."
Saber lowered her eyes, before raising her head. "Kiritsugu summoned me on the behest of the Einzbern family, to fight in the Fourth War. We managed to make it to the last phase of the conflict, but the final enemy Servant ambushed me while I was at my weakest. Kiritsugu used a Command Spell to make me destroy the Grail… I'm not sure why he did it. Maybe he preferred to destroy it rather than fail to retrieve it, I think. Perhaps it was a simple act of spite. Either way, without the Command Spells and the Grail to sustain me, I vanished soon after that."
"Used a Command Spell?" Shirou repeated, while thinking about his father. Why didn't Kiritsugu tell him about that? Maybe it was so he could live in peace?
"The marks on your hand allow you to give me three orders I cannot refuse, even to the point of breaking the laws of reality," Saber explained. "Even in the event that I am on the other side of the planet, if you command me to be at your side, I will appear no matter how impossible it seems. But… technically, you have only two orders."
"Why's that?" Shirou asked, before realizing the problem. "Oh… I see. It would mean that I am not a Master anymore."
"In the previous war, that wouldn't be a problem. But in this war, if all Command Spells are used, you will die on the spot," Saber nodded. "I told you there would be no turning back."
The Master sighed. No way out, eh? "So you guessed I was Kiritsugu's son by my last name?"
"Your appearance also helped," Saber smiled. "You look a lot like him. The last name just confirmed my suspicions. But I didn't know he had a son."
"He adopted me after I lost my parents in a fire that destroyed Fuyuki, ten years ago," he explained.
Saber frowned visibly at that. "I am sorry."
"Why? It happened," Shirou said. "You had nothing to do with it, no?"
"Shirou, it was certainly a side-effect of the war, or the destruction of the Grail," Saber replied with sorrow in her voice. "I might very well have caused that destruction."
"Might have," Shirou emphasized, "There is no way we will never know the details, I'm afraid. Anything could have caused that fire, not just you." He raised his head at the shrouded sky. "How… how was my father, before the fire?"
Saber seemed to struggle to find words. "Cold," she said. "He wanted to win, no matter the cost. He talked to me on only three occasions."
Command Spells? "He never spoke to you outside the spells?" Shirou asked, unable to believe it.
"Yes. The rest of the time, he talked at me." Saber sighed. "There was no room for discussion with him. He ordered and I had to obey. He was ready to commit atrocious acts to win, like killing enemies that had surrendered."
"That's… not how he was," Shirou said. "He was always kind. He said… he wanted to be a hero."
Saber put a hand on his shoulder. "I know this is hard to accept, but the Kiritsugu I worked with was not a respectable man," she told him. "Perhaps you changed him?"
"I wish," he said, remembering his father's last words. "Also… What do you know about Ilyasviel?"
"Who," wondered Saber, "I don't-"
"My father's daughter," he said. "He lost track of her long ago. I… I promised I would find her. That's why I accepted to participate – To grant my father's last wish."
Saber stayed silent a moment. "That was very noble of you, Shirou," she spoke. Somehow, Shirou felt he had gained the woman's respect. "I met Kiritsugu's daughter once, but I never learned her name. She was a small child at the time. Her mother was very gentle and mature."
"What did she look like?"
"Well… she was a special kind of homunculus, born from a human father and a homunculus mother," Saber said. "As such, her appearance was very unique. She had a fair skin, red eyes, and long silver hair."
Exactly like… Shirou suddenly felt his blood freeze in his veins. "I saw her."
"I saw her," he repeated. "The night I summoned you, I met a girl that was maybe ten years old, I think. She matched that description perfectly." He massaged his temples. "I met her, and I missed her. Damn it! What a fool!"
"Shirou," Saber stated. "It can't be her. Think about it. The age doesn't fit. She should be an adult by now. The person you saw was probably one of the Einzbern family's homunculi. They all have the same design."
"It…" he thought about it, "Yeah… Yeah, you're right. The age doesn't fit at all," he pondered out loud, "Homunculus, you said?"
"Artificial human, if you prefer," the Servant explained. "The Einzbern family makes almost perfect homunculi, most of them having a similar appearance. The family participated in all of the wars, and it seems this one isn't an exception. Homunculi are generally their bodyguards, or Masters."
"So the girl I saw was a Master?"
"Maybe," Saber guessed, before frowning. "This is strange. You are a weak magus, aren't you?"
"You don't need to be so blunt," Shirou complained. "But, yes, I am an utter failure as a magus. Why ask?"
"To maintain a form in this world, Servants need a supply of prana," Saber stated. "I realized last night that yours wasn't enough to make me act as full power. My strength is limited, and I need to get prana through other means, like food, or body fluid exchanges with you."
"You mean, like blood transfusion?"
"Or making love," she added with a flat tone, making him blush heavily. "But… I do not think it will be needed."
YES! He thought, even if a part of him was still a bit disappointed. Curse his raging hormones! "What do you mean?"
"My prana is regenerating," Saber explained. "I think it's the fog. The effect is limited and slow, but it naturally supplies me with prana. Not much, but enough to allow me to stay in this world without much effort. It might be one of the new rules, but… it isn't imprinted in my mind. Strange."
They finally arrived at the school after that. They were obviously the first at the school. There wasn't a sound…
A body was lying at the gate.
Break"So, you really saw no one on your way here?" the policeman asked again.
"No," Shirou replied. Saber had left after they called the police. It had taken three tries for the cell phone to work. The interferences were getting worse. "I just found him at the gate. I brought him down and tried to reanimate him, but… when I saw the hole in his back, I realized I was way too late."
The policeman nodded. "You did what you could, kid," he said. His colleagues were inspecting the scene while doctors were examining the body. Students and teachers were waiting in front of barriers obviously wondering what was happening.
But, Shirou knew what had happened. When he brought the dead man to the ground, he had noticed the marks on his hand.
That man, whoever he was, had become the war's first casualty.
"I've finished examining him," a man with a white blouse said. He had short black hair and eyes, and glasses. "Should I give the report?" he asked, looking at Shirou in obvious worry.
"Go on, I don't mind," he said. The policeman simply nodded.
"The subject had his heart pierced," the doctor said. "If the form of the wound is of any indication, I think it might have been a spear or some other pole-arm. The wound was very precise. The killer must have had a lot of practice. However, unlike the other victims, he didn't have his blood sucked."
"So you imply the killer is different, Twice?" the policeman asked. "Great. As if one lunatic wasn't bad enough, we've got another one at large." He sighed.
"Boss," another policeman interrupted the discussion. "A few people would like to talk to the boy. One is claiming to be his guardian, and others are just classmates."
"I see no reason to keep him any longer," the policeman chief said, before staring at the doctor, "Twice, please bring the boy to his friends. Also, kid, the school is closed as long as the investigation is going on. We might contact you again, so please give us your address."
The doctor, Twice, accompanied Shirou, but started whispering something. "Emiya Shirou, is that is your name?"
"Yes," he replied.
"The Command Spells on you hand," he said, making Shirou pale, "Hide them carefully if you don't want to follow that man to the grave. Gloves would be good. It is a war. You would better remember it if you want to survive."
Before Shirou could reply, the man left him at the security barriers and returned to the crime scene. A few students immediately started surrounding and asking him questions. He kept his hands in his pockets, just in case.
"I just discovered the body, ok?" he snapped. "I have no idea what happened!"
"That's enough," one of the teachers spoke. It was Souichirou Kuzuki, the history teacher. An imposing, austere man with black eyes and hair, he was wearing a dark green suit. "Everyone is disturbed by the event. As school is closed for the time, you should all return home."
The tone made everyone obey.
"Thank you, sensei," Shirou said, while the man simply nodded.
"It is natural. I know what it is to see death for the first time," he replied ominously, before vanishing as well.
Leaving the school, having explained to Taiga that he preferred to be alone for the time being, Shirou wandered through the districts, waiting for Saber to return. Eventually, his Servant reappeared. "Are you alright, Shirou?"
"No," he replied. "The man… it was a Master. He was killed by a spearman."
"A Lancer Servant," Saber guessed.
"And… one of the doctors knows," Shirou whispered. "He knows I am a Master."
His Servant's expression turned dark. "Shirou, from now on, you are not leaving my sight. Ever. Find an excuse to justify my presence at your side, but you shall be under my watch at all times."
Shirou really hoped it was a nightmare. How was he supposed to explain to his friends why she was always at his side? He could already imagine their embarrassing questions. But he understood, and accepted her decision. "How might I justify this?"
"I might play the bodyguard," Saber said.
"I shouldn't need any. And the police might ask questions."
"Then," his Servant frowned. "Pretend I am your wife."
"…are you serious?" Shirou asked, his mind blown.
"I am completely serious. This would give me an excuse to stay at your side all the time without having to answer insolent questions."
"Okay, to be clear, I am too young to have a bride," he pointed out, "A girlfriend, however? Maybe," He shrugged. "There is no way out, is there?"
"No." Her gaze was full of determination. "Is there a problem?"
"No, no," he said, shaking his head. "I mean, you are beautiful and all… it just makes me uncomfortable."
"Shirou," Saber said, holding his hand, making him blush heavily. "This is just during the war's time. I know it might disturb you, and such deception bothers me too, but it is necessary for your safety."
"Alright, alright…" Shirou whispered.
Saber didn't let go of his hand after that.
BreakWaiting on her sofa, Rin savored her Servant's tea. "Archer, this is quite good."
"Excellent would be a better word," Ciel commented, smiling. "Are you sure you don't want to join my tea club?"
"I'm afraid becoming a school student isn't one of my priorities, Ciel-san," the Servant replied. A dark-skinned man with white hair and grey eyes, Archer was wearing a red overcoat and a black outfit underneath.
"It might be, Archer," Kotomine Kirei said, entering the room, much to Rin's displeasure. Her guardian was tall, had brown hair and eyes, was wearing a black bishop uniform with a blue overcoat… and was a total ass. "If one Master is hiding at the school, as we suspect, infiltration will become necessary. The victim has been confirmed to be a Master."
"It is probably Emiya Shirou," Rin guessed. "First, he is completely immune to Ciel-san's Mystic Eyes, and second, he is the first one to have called the police after the murder. Maybe it was to cover his tracks and fake innocence?"
"I doubt it," Ciel stated, "A normal murderer, maybe. But a Master? Calling the police attracted a lot of attention to him, a thing no Master wants. If he has used a Servant to kill that Master, he wouldn't need to cover his tracks. But his resistance to my Mystic Eyes… even experienced magi should be troubled at least a bit. He wasn't even affected."
"Maybe Emiya is a Servant himself," Archer joked, Rin refraining herself from scolding him.
"He might have been replaced by a shapeshifter of some sort," Kirei smiled. "I crossed path with a similar Servant in the last war. But, even if he probably isn't responsible for the murder, I am convinced he is a Master."
"Why so, Kotomine-senpai?" Ciel asked.
"During the last war, I fought a ruthless Master whose name was Emiya Kiritsugu," the fake priest explained. "As he shares a last name with your colleague, I assume they are related. The chances Shirou-san was chosen as a Master himself are very high. It might explain his resistance to Ciel's Mystic Eyes, if his Servant can protect him from mental interferences discreetly."
"Kirei," Rin cut in, "Have you managed to contact the Association or the Church?"
"I failed," the man admitted as he finally sat. "My own familiars failed at exiting the fog, and modern means of communication have been rendered useless. The Association's magi watching Fuyuki are all missing, probably dead. I am afraid we are on our own… and facing an illegal Holy Grail War."
"Illegal?" Archer raised an eyebrow.
"The Association shut down the Grail system after the Fourth War," Rin explained, much to her Servant's surprise. She was happy that the events that caused her father's death wouldn't happen again, but a part of her regretted not having the chance to honor her family's memory by winning the war. So when the Command Spells appeared on her hand the previous day… "This war shouldn't happen, and is therefore illegal."
"Oh, that explains why the rules imprinted in my mind are different from those taught to you," her Servant nodded, "It's crazy."
"Kirei, be honest," Rin spoke. "Is there a way to abort this war?"
"If there is one, I do not know it," he said, with a frown. "Didn't you dream about finally winning a war and restoring the Tohsaka's reputation?"
"Not like this," she said. "This is a dirty war, with people forced to die and having no option out. I will find no glory in winning it."
"There is no such a thing as a clean war," Archer shrugged, while Rin ignored him. She wanted to shut up that mouth of his so much it wasn't funny… a pity she couldn't afford to waste any Command Spell.
"I already told you, Roa is the key," Ciel stated. "This is no coincidence he just happened to manifest in this town right when the war began. He is obviously linked to it, if not its cause."
Kirei scoffed. "I will help you exorcise the Dead. That will force him to act or attack to get rid of us."
"Thank you, Kotomine-senpai," Ciel nodded.
"I humbly suggest we investigate Emiya," Archer spoke, "He might be a future opponent and gathering information on him would always be useful."
"For once, you're giving good advice," Rin noted.
"I always have good advice, it's just that you don't listen," Archer smirked, unfazed by Rin's angered expression.
His cell phone didn't work, anymore – not at all.
It was sure now. No reception. "Truly, this fog's power is impressive," Shirou stated, entering a commercial center, Saber following. "I can't even inform Fuji-nee that I'll be late."
"You want to do… groceries, Shirou?" his Servant wondered. "We should make reserves, in case you have to stay sheltered at home for a long time."
Her Master nodded. Plus, Saber and Taiga needed a lot of sustenance.
However, he quickly discovered he wasn't the only one doing groceries.
"Emiya!" Issei said upon noticing him. He was accompanied by Kuzuki and a beautiful woman. "Nice to meet you! Your friend, too."
"Hello, Issei, Kuzuki-sensei, lady-san," Shirou said.
"Are you Shirou-kun?" the woman asked. She had long blue hair covering her ears, and cyan eyes. She was graceful and beautiful, wearing a blue jacket, with a black shirt underneath, and a brown skirt. "Issei talked a lot about you." She crossed gaze with Saber, and the temperature dropped noticeably.
"I am Saber," Shirou's Servant introduced herself, "Nice to meet you."
"My name is Caster," the woman smiled, making Shirou pale. She's a Servant! Does that mean…
"I didn't know you had a companion too," Kuzuki told him, confirming his suspicions. Fortunately, Issei was completely unaware of the situation. "This is a strange coincidence."
"Indeed," Shirou nodded.
"Issei-san, please, I think you forgot our money in the car," Caster said to the student president, whose gaze seemed empty of will. "Could you return and grab it?"
"Of course, Caster-san," the teen said, obeyed the obvious spell.
Once he left, Shirou stared at his teacher. "Hard to believe you are a Master, too."
"The surprise is mutual," Kuzuki stated. "And unfortunate, as it means we will be enemies next time we meet. Issei will be saddened by your death."
"A pity we will have to kill a nice boy like you, Emiya-kun," Caster said, before staring at Saber. "You also have such a beautiful defender."
"I will slay you both before you can touch him," the swordswoman replied defiantly, putting herself between her master and the duo.
"A fight there would attract too much attention," Kuzuki stated calmly. "We are both here for groceries. Let us call a ceasefire until our task is finished."
Shirou reluctantly nodded. "Sensei, we don't even have to fight at all."
"We have no choice," the man replied, showing the teen his forearm. Three Command Spells in the form of circles were drawn on his skin. "They made sure of it. This war made sure of it. My priority is to stay alive, Emiya… even if I have to kill you."
"My, my," a voice said, attracting everyone's attention. "It seems fate has a strange sense of humor, Emiya."
"Leo?" The teen's eyes had widened. The blonde was followed by a tall man with the same hair and eyes color as the Harway, and wearing a white suit.
When he saw Saber… "My king?" he muttered.
"Sir Gawain?" Saber's jaw dropped.
"To find two Masters there was unexpected," Leo said, before looking at the man called Gawain. "Do you know her?"
"I would never be able to forget the king I failed," he replied, bowing slightly in front of Saber. "I am both blessed and ashamed to see you again, King Arthur – Blessed to be in your presence, ashamed not to have served you well enough."
Shirou's jaw dropped, quickly imitated by Caster. "WHAT?"
"Sir Gawain, I am happy to see one of my knights in this time," she stared at Leo. "You appear to have found a new lord."
"Yes," Gawain nodded, before looking at Shirou. "If you are the King's Master, then you must be a certainly noble soul. I am truly honored to meet you, Sir Emiya."
"Eh… same thing," Shirou smiled. "You're Leo's Servant?"
"I am surprised," Leo shook hands with Shirou. "If our Servants are related, it must mean we have many things in common. I was correct in thinking we would meet again."
"A reunion of the Round Table," Caster spat scornfully, "Disgusting."
Gawain glared at her. "You have no right to look down on knights, Medea the witch." Caster didn't bother to hide her surprise. "I heard of your legend during my travels in Europe, and I saw gravures of you. Your crimes cannot be forgotten, even centuries after you committed them."
"You know nothing about me," Medea spat, taking her Master's hand. "May we leave, Souichirou-sama?"
Kuzuki nodded, but sent one last stare towards Shirou. "I hope you know what is needed to win, Emiya," he stated. "Otherwise, your death shall come quickly."
Observing them leaving, Shirou then turned to face Leo. "So… we are both Masters."
"Yes, and it appears our Servants share the same class," Leo added, "And they both belong to the Knights of the Round Table. The Grail has a twisted sense of humor, to make former companions fight this way."
"I am sorry, King Arthur," Gawain stated, closing his eyes. "I wish we could fight together, again. But my oath to my Master, Leo, prevents me from doing so. I shall be forced to duel your liege in time."
"We both will have to dirty our hands with blood, Sir Gawain," Saber replied. "Protect your liege as much as you can. I do not blame you for honoring your oath of fealty."
"Wait, just wait," Shirou cut in. "Am I the only one thinking we can avoid slaughtering each other?"
Leo observed the Emiya closely. "I think I understand why you were chosen as King Arthur's Master," he stated. "You have a pure heart. But this is simply the law of the Grail. We will have to fight to grant our own respective wishes. Yet, it doesn't mean we cannot be friendly towards each other." He turned around. "It is unfortunate, but I have to leave. Julius is probably looking for me, and if he finds you, you will be killed. His Servant shall eliminate you in a blink to increase my chances of winning, even if I tell him not to. He is too stubborn."
"…your bodyguard is a Master?" Shirou paled.
"As is Dan," Leo stated. "Do not worry, as fellow knights, our Servants shall duel honorably. I will make sure of it."
"…why?" Shirou asked. "Why do you want us to fight?"
"Because I am to be the perfect king," Leo replied. "That is my sincerest wish. A king cannot afford emotions. This is the only path, Emiya."
Saber frowned at that.
As he left, Gawain bowed in front of Saber and Shirou. "I look forward to seeing you again, my former king – and you too, Sir Shirou. I hope we may talk as friends, and not as enemies."
"The feeling is mutual," Saber added, as the knight left, leaving the duo alone.
"…So… King Arthur?" Shirou whispered, attracting his Servant's attention. "The Celtic king of legends…? Aren't you supposed to be a… well, a man?"
"My true name is Arturia," she whispered. "And… this is a long story." She seemed lost in her thoughts. "I didn't expect to have my name revealed so soon."
"You don't have to tell me your story if you don't want to," Shirou stated with a smile. "Take your time."
Saber smiled. "Thank you, Shirou."
BreakPutting his pants on again and getting the Book of False Attendant, Makiri Shinji turned around and enjoyed the spectacle.
His Servant, Rider, was awesome. She was slowly drinking the blood of a random woman, eating her soul along the way. Her clothes were ripped apart, Shinji having previously plundered her body for all its worth.
"With you, Rider, I cannot lose!" Shinji smirked, as the purple haired gorgon finished her dinner. The night had just begun, and she would eat far more. "Now, let's find another victim…"
By magic, a humanoid form appeared in the fog. Shinji smirked, his wish granted. "Oi!" He shouted. "Ready for-"
"Ready for a kill?" a male voice asked. A man emerged from the fog, wearing a blue kimono. His hair was like silver, and his eyes… his eyes were as red as blood. His aura was ominous, deadly, "Always. But I'm busy. The voice wants to test someone, and you're not the guy I'm supposed to harm. Move aside before I change my mind."
Shinji growled at the man's condescending tone. "Rider, kill-"
A disgusting soul of evisceration interrupted his command. Staring at his Servant, Shinji realized she… had had her belly torn in half. She was convulsing on the ground, dying, a little girl with white hair and cruel eyes watching the spectacle without emotions. "We do not fit," she whispered. "Not the right womb."
Before Shinji could say anything, something violently pierced him from behind. Falling on the ground, the Makiri could only watch, as a black spearman took his book and gave it to the kimono man. "So you aren't the Master?" he muttered to himself. "Pitiful. The voice will be angry if the true one is out of the game so early." Using a knife, he cut the object in half, making it turn back into worms. Rider vanished, returning to Sakura's side.
"Fun fact: I was going to kill another faker, later," the kimono man left, his two cronies following him. "I'm sure the true Master will be happy. I did it a favor."
And Shinji died like he lived.
BreakLeaving the commercial center with their hands full, Saber and her master went on to return home. Shirou seemed troubled, and the swordswoman could understand why. Realizing he would have to fight old friends should elicit such a reaction from anybody. Leo's stoicism actually surprised her.
Gawain's participation was both a surprise and a shame. She was happy to meet one of her old companions, but the fact they would have to fight didn't rejoice her. Cursing whoever decided on such an outcome, the former king of Britain promised herself she would at least speak on even terms with the knight of the sun at least once.
Once the groceries were deposed in the kitchen, Shirou attempted to watch the news. They found a sticky note written by Taiga on the TV, explaining she and other teachers had been called by the police to be interrogated, and would probably return late. Not to his surprise, the Television didn't work right.
What was surprising, however, was that at no point did Shirou interrogate her on her past or on Gawain.
She had expected it. After all, he was Kiritsugu's son. The Magus Killer would never have hesitated to use a Command Spell to make her talk, if it meant gaining an advantage. It was obvious Shirou respected her enough not to ask uncomfortable questions. It was… a welcome change from his father. She was beginning to wonder if they were even related at all.
In stark contrast with the physical resemblance, the two Emiya were pretty much spiritual opposites.
"Saber, huh…?" Shirou started an obvious attempt at small talk. "Do you have any hobbies?"
"Beside swordsmanship, no," she replied, both amused and surprised by the question. "Why would I need one?"
"I don't know, to enjoy life or something." Shirou scratched the back of his head. "If you like, we can do a kendo match. It's like swordsmanship, with wood."
Saber raised an eyebrow, and then smiled. "It would be nice, indeed." On a side-note, it would allow her to guess his combat experience.
As it turned out, Shirou wasn't a natural fighter. It wouldn't be inaccurate to claim he was a failure when it came to fighting.
The match in the house's dojo didn't last for very long. But Saber never expected it to be an arduous conflict for the ages. What could a mere civilian do against one of the world's best swordswomen? Shirou was quite good for someone without battlefield experience and his kendo skills were decent. But it was obvious he would be unable to defend himself for long against an experienced opponent. At least, with a sword…
"You need training," Saber stated to the bruised teen, "Fast. You cannot defend yourself well that way."
"It seems so," Shirou replied, as they left the dojo for the main room. Night had fallen, and the clock was turning. "Already nine o'clock? Good time for dinner…"
A ringing bell resonated in the house.
"And crap," Shirou paled. "It's the bounded field."
"Bounded field?" Saber asked.
"It's an alarm ringing when people with evil intent enter the perimet-"
They heard the house's door being broken down.
In a blink, a black spearman entered the room, obviously with murderous intents. It was a pale man, with long white hair and golden eyes. He was wearing rich, black noble clothes. He noticed Shirou, and readied his silver lance.
In a blink, Saber charged. Her armor and weapon manifested. The spearman, obviously a Lancer Servant, didn't seem fazed in the slightest and used his spear as a makeshift shield, stopping the invisible Excalibur. In one powerful strike, she pushed him back, near the destroyed door, and brought him outside, where she would have better maneuverability.
The Lancer jumped backward in the house's garden, and a little form emerged from the mist and attempted to blind Saber with a dagger strike. The swordswoman narrowly dodged and attempted to cut the new attacker in half, but the thing was too small and retreated next to the Lancer Servant.
It was a small little girl, not even ten years old, with cyan eyes and short white hair. She was wearing a black outfit, with multiple weapons attached to it.An Assassin Servant,Saber guessed. Two Servants at the same time… This is bad.
"Why didn't you use Maria?" The Lancer asked to his fellow, still eying the King of Knights. His voice was soft, ghostly. "It would be faster."
"We used it on the bad womb," the Assassin said, two knives in hands. "Twice the same night? Too much for me. And she is a girl, not a woman. The womb can't be right."
"We will do it my way, then," the Lancer spoke, charging faster than the eyes could follow.
Using Excalibur, Saber stopped the strike, her sword momentarily appearing when crossing path with the lance. "Saber?" Lancer asked, "Very well. No long range. Assassin, you know what to do?"
"Yes, I know," the girl whispered, vanishing in the fog.
Leaping backward, Lancer attacked with multiple strikes, doing his best to stay at distance. Saber parried the blows, and attempted to push him back toward the house's walls, where he would be cornered and unable to dodge.
Sensing hostile intent, Saber narrowly dodged a lightning fast attack from the Assassin, who attempted to slice her throat by jumping out of the fog. The Assassin didn't abandon her attempts, attacking again, just as the swordswoman parried another one of Lancer's blows.
Prepared to receive a wound, Saber could only blink when the Assassin was sent flying by a shinai's strike. If the pause in Lancer's assault was of any indication, she wasn't the only one surprised. "Shirou?"
"Saber, are you alright?" her Master asked, the shinai still in hands.
Assassin got up, massaging her bruised face. The blow had apparently broken her nose. "It hurts, it hurts, it hurts…" she whispered as Lancer placed himself in front of her in a protective manner.
"Shirou…" Saber couldn't help but ask. "How did you do that?"
He simply shrugged. "Reinforcement – Lots of Reinforcement. I thought it might work."
To inflict even minor damage on a Heroic Spirit, this shinai's reinforcements must be extremely powerful, Saber thought, eying the enemy Servants. "Shirou, get away… That was a lucky shot, and you cannot kill them. I can take care of them, but not if I must protect you at the same time."
"Want to get away?" a new voice asked, as a man in a blue kimono emerged from the fog, joining the two hostile Servants. "No. I won't allow that."
"You are a Master, I suppose?" Saber whispered, noticing the red marks on his left hand. "Where is the other one?"
"In my head," the man replied, with an insane glint in the eyes. "He is that Lancer guy's boss. But he can't get out. The moon isn't high enough."
"Why do you want to kill us?" Shirou shouted. "For a wish…?"
"No," he replied. "It's the voice. It promised me my place back if I obeyed it, and it promised the other guy true immortality. The voice wants me to rough you up a bit, to see if you're worth its attention."
"You're insane," Saber spat as she prepared herself to strike. The two enemy Servants shielded their Master with their bodies, ready to attack.
"And you're dead!" he chuckled, before charging, a knife in hands. His two Servants, far faster, reached Saber first. In one motion, she deflected Lancer's spear, and then impaled Assassin as she tried to target her head. The girl bled and fell on the ground…
And the mystery Master attacked Shirou directly.
Saber turned around, only to see the mysterious man deflect Shirou's shinai, throw him on the ground, and stab him.
…or so he would have, had an icicle not suddenly sprouted from the ground and tore half his belly apart.
Lancer and Assassin suddenly retreated, as similar icicles formed right under them.
"Who, who?" the mystery Master screamed, crawling away in desperation.
"I!" A cheerful voice answer, as another Servant leapt next to Shirou. It was a young, pretty woman with long pink hair tied into ponytails, and yellow eyes. She had bright orange fox ears, and was wearing a… very revealing… blue. Japanese dress with long sleeves. A long orange fox tail was moving in her back. "Caster, to the rescue…!"
Saber felt her eye twitch a little. "What?"
"You little…" the wounded Master groaned, obviously still alive, in spite of the visibly deadly wound. His Lancer grabbed him and lifted him, like a baby. "I won't forget! I won't forget this indignity!" he cursed as his Servant fled with him. Assassin glared at the trio one last time, before vanishing into the fog as well.
"That was close," the Caster Servant nodded, before smiling at Shirou. "Are you alright?"
"Who… are you?" the Master asked, as the witch helped him get up.
"Well, I'm Caster, your new Servant," she chirped, "Nice to meet you, Master-san! Oh! And you too, Saber-chan!"
Neither Shirou nor Saber could find words to say.
BreakStealthily, Akiha moved out of her hiding spot, returning to her temporary house.
She had left to track SHIKI, and she did. But… what just happened? Were these people Servants? Were they truly so powerful and deadly?
…and why did Emiya have to have the same marks as her adopted brother?
She was beginning to regret following SHIKI's trail to this town. It was her duty as chief of the Tohno household to end her brother's rampage, but… she had the feeling she'd brought Shiki and others into a terrible mess.
Returning to the mansion, one of the Tohno's secondary houses, Akiha was welcomed by her two maids, Kohaku and Hisui. "Welcome, Akiha-sama," the said in perfect synchronization.
Akiha nodded, observing Kohaku's hand. The knife-like red lines were quite noticeable on her pale skin. "Kohaku-san, I have terrible news…" she frowned, "SHIKI… he is a Master too. He doesn't have one, but two Servants."
Both the maids paled, and Kohaku lost her cheerful smile. "Truly?" a woman said, stepping out of the shadows. She was extremely beautiful, inhumanly so. She had long black hair, purple eyes, and was wearing noble black robes. "Then it must be why he fled to this city. He was selected as a Master long before any of you."
"It seems so, Assassin," Akiha nodded. "There's also another problem. One of my classmates, Emiya Shirou, is also a Master. And from what I saw, he possesses two Servants as well."
"Well, as long as he isn't possessed by demonic impulses like your real brother, he can't be immune to charm," Assassin said with a sly smirk. "I am sure we can exploit the situation, lady Akiha. I will gather information on him, and propose to you a plan."
"Woman, dirty tricks are of no good in a battle of warriors," a warrior spoke, entering the room. He had pale skin, white hair, cyan eyes, and was wearing a huge golden armor and a red cloak. "If he is a Master, just like this SHIKI, then there can only be one possible resolve to this: a fight to the death." The tone was emotionless, as if the current events were… normal.
That utter lack of compassion was one of the reasons Akiha disliked her brother's Servant. He was so uncaring that it was almost disturbing. Worse, he always reminded her of the danger her loved ones were in. "Lancer-san, there might be another option besides murdering innocents."
"That is a war, Akiha-sama," he spoke. "Killing people is the only path, if a disliked one."
"Anyway," she scoffed. "We will construct a strategy tomorrow. SHIKI is our top priority for now, but his two Servants make our task a difficult one. We mustn't rush blindly into danger."
"I agree completely," Assassin smiled. "You will become a wise lord in time, lady Akiha."
BreakAs his Servants placed him on his bed, SHIKI cursed. "That woman… who was she?"
"A witch," the Lancer, Vlad the Impaler, stated softly. Jack, the Assassin, had started repairing his belly with her scalpel. Her hand twitched, he groaned in pain, "She is a devourer of brave, pious men… one that must be punished, by the judgment of God."
That was close. Be wary next time. I don't want to lose such an efficient body.
Shut up, weird guy. I was just a bit careless.
I will take over tomorrow night, the guy whispered. They are strong. And we need more power. My memories are coming back slowly. It's only a matter of time before we can win this war.
…And the voice?
We need to obey. It possesses powers beyond any of us. Disobeying would be a poor choice.
A phone rang.
SHIKI groaned. "Vlad, could you…"
Silently, the Lancer gave him the phone. With one hand, SHIKI answered the call, Jack still working on the surgery. "God…"
"Yes. How are you, SHIKI? I hope your wounds aren't severe."
"I… failed," SHIKI whispered. "I… please…! My wish…"
"I promised I would grant it, no? Akiha will call you 'brother', again, and Shiki shall give you back your place. I will make it reality, if you continue to obey my will. Right now, I am very pleased. Emiya is certainly what I expected him to be. He is pure of heart. The game will be fun. As for you… what did your eyes see?"
"No life to take," SHIKI whispered.
"Ah, perfect – Excellent, even. It is beyond what I had expected. Very well, wait until your next task. Tell Roa the princess of the True Ancestors managed to break past the fog. He must keep a low profile for the time being. I have other toys in hand that will take over, for now. Oh, and a friend of Roa shall appear at your door soon. He's amusing, if a bit… bestial."
"I will tell him," he whispered.
"Then, good recovery, SHIKI, and don't push yourself too hard. Akiha wouldn't like it, and neither would I. Oh, and the Makiri's death was a very pleasant addition… nicely done."
The call ended.
Not soon after, someone knocked at the door. His belly repaired, SHIKI rose up, and walked. He opened the door.
"Serpent," a man with black eyes, grey hair, and a black trench coat politely greeted him. "Long time no see. You've changed a lot."
Break"So…" Shirou stated, observing the repaired door from the inside. "Witchcraft…?"
"That's my specialty!" the fox woman smiled. "As you can see, I can do anything."
"Thank you, then," Shirou said. "For that, and… saving my life."
"It was normal to save my Master to be," Caster smirked, making the teen blush. Saber was obviously annoyed as well. "I am at your complete service now… but where is our room?" she asked, exploring the house. "I need to sleep close to you, if I want to defend you."
"Shirou, it might be useful for bodyguard duties, as I told you previously," Saber stated, sounding almost reluctant.
"Thanks, Saber-chan," Caster said, holding the swordswoman's hand. "I am sure we are going to get along perfectly."
"…What? No. No," Shirou stated, massaging his temples in shame and annoyance. Saber was openly chuckling now. "Not to hurt your feelings, but I've only known you only for a few minutes. Could you first explain who you are? I thought Masters could only summon one Servant?"
"That's right, but my former Master had no wish for the Grail," she said, jumping on the sofa. "He said he didn't want to kill people for a wish, and that others needed my help more than him. So he gave me your address and told me to protect you." She smiled. "You have a nice guardian angel now!"
"Who is that… gentle Master?" Saber asked suspiciously.
"He said he didn't want me to give his name. He wants to live, after all," the witch pointed out. "Our contract is more or less severed now. The fog allows me to maintain a form, but I used my last reserves protecting Master-san, so…" she gently took Shirou's hand. "Can we make a contract? I want to stay at your side forever."
Shirou was astonished, pleased, and disturbed, all at the same time. "Err… Umm…"
"Shirou, another Servant is always useful," Saber pointed out. "At least one enemy has two, and while I am stronger than the Servant we fought individually, fighting one-on-two against ruthlessly powerful opponents is difficult, as you have seen. Having an ally will even the field, however slightly. And if she wished you harm, she only needed not to act to see you removed from the war."
"Yes, but…" he whispered, "Why me, of all people?"
"I saw you save Saber-chan from that Assassin," Caster replied. "It was heroic, and I was smitten instantly. I want such a noble Master as my lord."
"Ah… Thanks," he blushed a bit, "But, I have just one favor to ask."
"Yes!" She smiled, "You have finally noticed my looks and want me to kiss you?!"
"It's not about that," Shirou said, as red as a tomato, while Saber was rolling her eyes. "Please, just call me Shirou."
Caster looked downright disappointed, but regained her cheerful expression. "Alright… Shirou… and about sharing a room…?"
"No. You will be in the guest room," Shirou stated with a decisive tone. His new Servant to be looked crushed.
"I am sure you will love me in time," she smiled. "So… do we make the contract?"
"…Sure, but… How is it done?" he asked.
"You just have to exchange vows, like a married couple," she said. "Just say you accept me as your Servant."
"Alright, then," He took his breath. "I, Emiya Shirou, accept Caster as my Servant."
"I, Servant Caster, accept Emiya Shirou as my one true Master," she stated cheerfully.
The marks on Shirou's hands lightened brightly, and Caster was briefly surrounded by pure prana. "The contact is done," Caster said. "I already feel your prana inside me. You do not have much… but it's normal, since you supply two Servants." She smiled. "I will find a way around it, Master Shirou. Now, we are a true household!"
"Welcome," Shirou nodded, before frowning at the nickname.
"I will be happy to fight side-by-side with you, Caster," Saber spoke.
"We shall be the ultimate team, Saber-chan," Caster grinned. "Our enemies shall cower in dread!"
Caster suddenly frowned, observing the door. "Master Shirou, another Servant has entered the perimeter. I felt him enter the bounded field, along with his Master."
Both Shirou and Saber paled, but the Master regained his composure quickly. "If he hasn't activated the alarm, his intentions aren't malevolent," he stated, as someone knocked at the door. "Stay behind me, however."
Both Servants nodded, preparing themselves to strike, as Shirou opened the door.
"Two Servants, Emiya?" Tohsaka Rin stated, a man in red clothes standing at her side. "You certainly didn't lose time."
Author Dojo"Hello everyone!" Taiga smiled. "This is Author Dojo, the place where chapters are commented with laughter, and author notes explained with humor! I'm Tiger Taiga, your guide!"
"I'm Slayer Ars, number one student and beta of the story!" Tohsaka Rin jumped on place. "I have taken the form of Tohsaka Rin for the hell of it!"
"Aren't you supposed to be a guy?"
"I wanted to be the Angry Magus, Angra Mainyu sounded boring!" Slayer Ars smirked. "Anyway, it's incredibly bad! Why do the characters talk like that? They look like robots!"
"Hey, Kuzuki IS a robot, Leo is not far away, and Shirou is a blank state! Plus, until the fifth chapter, it's an extended intro! The character development and epic battles come after. For the moment, it's just about introducing the story's main factions and major characters. It gets better later, promised!"
"I see, Tiger Taiga!" Slayer Ars nodded. "By the way, why Tsukihime characters? To fill the Master spots?"
"Nope, the author needed Roa for the story. Plus he thought it would make good character development, and all this story more awesome!" Tiger Taiga jumped on place. "Don't worry if you don't know them! They'll be as developed as the rest. The characters from EXTRA like Leo will also be fleshed out in time."
"Next time!" Slayer Ars smiled. "Shirou's house gets trashed after a party gone mad, Roa's friends decide to have fun, and the unexpected happens! Please review, and get your membership card for the Author Dojo!"