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    Lay beside you and pulled you close, and the two of us went up in smoke. Prix with a Silent X's Avatar
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    Empty Gold



    Dancing in the shadows to a game that can't be won...




    Empty Gold





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    Chapter Index

    Prologue
    Chapter I: Bitter Bitumen
    Chapter II: Dreary Daybreak

    Chapter III: Convenient Accommodations
    Chapter IV: Acceptable Oversight
    Chapter V: Enemy Camp
    Chapter VI: The Shore




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    Credit

    Thank you to Shrapnel for my fantastic cover art!
    Thank you to Glow for listening to my incessant whining about this fic for months.
    Thank you to You for helping me with more lore and plot detangling than I deserve.
    Thank you to Raylen Cypher for some beta-ing assistnace.


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    Prologue



    She would never try to fight if the Holy Grail was to his back. The two possible objects of her desire, both before her – how could she resist?

    This was the determination he had reached before Saber ever made her way to the grand music hall. All of it holds true, and he can see the raw thought playing out in her eyes. She has no choice, but he delights in seeing her decide.

    Then, her golden sword shines brighter than his armor, brighter than the golden pools that bare too many Noble Phantasms to count.

    “N—No!”

    This is beyond the realm of anything she would do. He knows her – his bride to be. She will not destroy the Holy Grail in order to have some chance to resist his decision.

    She cries out, as much lion as woman. She is angry and sounds as if she is in pain. The sound sears into his mind, and he feels cornered as if she is a lion. For a moment, all he can do is stare.

    She seems to be resisting something, but he does not see how she can dispel her own attack without letting the deadly, beautiful light go free. Her small frame trembles as she cries out again, this time in words. Words not for him. He frowns, hardly able to hear them except for this.

    He still has more weapons than she can hope to deflect. He can release them all, a catastrophe beyond recovery for her. He can kill her.

    He does not want to do this.

    Then, he understands. The third party who had entered the room, unnoticed by him, is her Master. Her Master is the cause of this, using his Command Seals to exact his will over her. Gilgamesh grits his teeth, ready to call down judgment upon this man for attempting to ruin his wedding.

    Out of the corner of his eye, he sees her. The golden pools of light respond to his will, ready to turn upon the man, the mongrel. The man lifts his hand, another Command Seal carved there – red, glaring, and treacherous. Gilgamesh understands what he means to do and he has a single choice.

    He can rain his treasures upon this mongrel and destroy him, trusting their aim to hold true through the perfect beam of light that he has seen issue from Saber's glorious sword before. Or, he can set aside his weapons and do something not considered before. Dozens of the little gates close, drawing the treasures they display safely back inside, protected from the destruction the mongrel above calls down.

    Saber's blade swings down, and Gilgamesh has no choice but to dodge it. Only, he has not surrendered. The only counterattack deemed worthy of her at this point flies outward with a precise, familiar movement of his wrist as he throws himself aside. The weight of it pulls true in his hand – this weapon, more valuable than most of his weapons – this precious tool, bearing the name of his one and only friend, Enkidu.





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    I. Bitter Bitumen




    The sky is dark and blanketed with swollen, angry clouds.

    Beneath them, the color of blood – the sky and the ground alike, dirtied with mud made from death.

    The clouds above her will never burst, never pour down upon the ground something cleaner than the spilled blood of everyone around her. She knows this because she has been here before, again and again. Always and always, returned from the end of time, she finds herself in this moment.

    Words here fall on no ears but her own. Every plea and supplication falls into nothing just beyond her lips. Every cry and scream and promise meets air that is too still, too empty, even though the wind howls around her. Such is the reality of every battlefield when the war has been lost, of this battlefield – the battlefield where she will remain, caught in this last moment of living and first moment of dying, until she attains the Holy Grail.

    Something she knows with absolute, rattling certainty is: it must finally be different. The next time she is loosed from the bonds that hold her here, released into another contract and obligation, she will not drive toward her people's salvation as their king. She cannot, knowing that she never knew how to lead them at all. She never knew them, never knew them, never knew them...

    When the Holy Grail War begins again, it will be different. She will make it so. Her last struggle as King Artoria Pendragon will be to end her own reign forever. Once and for all time, as it should be.

    One day, I will claim the Holy Grail. It was not I... who should have been king...”

    There is nothing more to say when she has reached her resolve. Her resolve is a flaw, a fatal one, which she believes will never leave her. But who can know what will happen when, at last, it is over? She does not know what she will be when she is no longer the King of Britain, the King of Knights.

    The shelter of closed eyes does nothing to shield her from the stench, the stale memory, the ever-present reality of the smell of blood, of death, circling around her like carrion birds. She must be still, wait here for the summons to come again. She thinks she could wail and mourn for each of the dead and still not have enough cries left in her throat to fill up the time. She could curse or she could pray, but she does neither.

    It is frustratingly involuntary when her body jerks and she draws in a deep breath to fill her chest with air it aches for, even where time, life, and death are meaningless. Breathing only seems to invite more sobs for knights whom her apology will not help nor ever reach. Nevertheless it seizes upon her, the will to try to tell them she is sorry. She must try, knowing that it will never touch them. It will never reach their hearts, as they had not been able to reach hers. Before she exhales...

    Above her. The dazzling fade of a flood of golden light. The height of the ceiling above seems endless, and for a moment it seems as though nothing could ever interrupt the harmonic echo that reverberates up through rows of empty seats. The moment her vision comes into blinking, dampened focus, the high ceiling is replaced by the infinite height of the sky. The hall is crumbling around her, and all she knows is that she should be gone.

    The world rattles, and yet it cannot pull her fading form apart. Pain sears through her from each of her injuries, many and considerable and most prominently in her thigh. She tries to fade, tries to die, but she cannot move. Her arms are still held downward, holding her sword in the form of its final swing.

    She knows that her Noble Phantasm has been demanded of her, used against her in the greatest act of treachery she has ever known. And yet, she cannot find the anger Lancelot had pleaded, faulted her for not having, gone mad for the want of it.

    Her arms are like those of a shimmering ghost. There is a ripple in the air that makes her blue dress look more like the surface of the sea, beneath them. She sees them clearly and begins to understand. They are the links of a chain, encircling her arms near her wrists. The tension pulls tight against her armor plating which itself seems to give way more than she can, reminding her of when Diarmuid Ua Duibhne had sliced through it with his Ge Dearg.

    She has never dreamt while she has been stranded at Camlann before. There is no reason it should be any different now, nor any reason she should dream this were she to dream at all. This should be the dream, the dream to remain and the dream to fade away in the endless, momentary wait.

    Abruptly, the chain pulls at her body, causing her to slide closer to its source. Barely able to move but finding she can, at last, turn her head, she sees where the chain connects to a golden pool, suspended in the air above him. The confused anger within her develops a new core and she tries to think of something, anything she could do with the improbable strength she has left to escape it. Though it will destroy her, she knows where she belongs, where she is to wait until this battle is hers once more, and it is not here. The hill at Camlann is where she should be, where she will remain. Not in this place, not in this world Kiritsugu had turned his back on – on her, on Maiya, on Irisviel – and not in his collection, wherever it resides.

    She no longer has the strength to call upon Excalibur. She should not be here at all – a Saber class Servant without a prana source or a Master. And yet she tries, closing her eyes and trying to focus all her remaining energy on reaching out – for anything – and reaching inward for anything left within her. First soundlessly and then with a metallic rattle, the chain is tugging her gauntlets, pulling upward towards the angled golden pool. Ornate fixture and crumbling wall plaster alike fall around her as she rises, dust briefly obscuring her vision as she weakly searches for him to demand release.

    “Archer!” she calls out, her voice so dry that she does not know if anyone can hear it.

    The change of angle allows her to see him, positioned somewhere beneath and beyond her in the crumbling hall. He appears unsteady, and yet somehow he is still relatively unscathed. Nothing she had ever been able to do had touched him, and now she finally has room to feel some part of that shame. His golden armor is obscured in a few places, for moments at a time, by chalky white dust that comes from the impending, progressing collapse, but the hard angle of his eyebrows certainly does not indicate even the slightest apprehension or urgency.

    “Saber,” he calls up to her in return, his voice itself a demand for calm and compliance. There are fewer golden pools surrounding him now, and he has all but stopped baring weapons. She cannot tell if it is voluntary or if they are vulnerable. His lips curve upward calmly, arms folded over his chest. “This is quite remarkable destruction you have caused, and of such a beautiful scene for the start of our happy and prosperous life. No matter, I know these things were beyond your control,” he says, a crinkle of bitter distaste coloring his expression.

    With her wrists pulled above her, she cannot use her sword and cannot think of any recourse in her desperately weakened – weakening – state. She glares at him as if she wishes her eyes could produce the swords her hands cannot. She cannot seem to die and is running out of time, nearly pulled all the way to the false golden ceiling, not far below the crumbling plaster, metal, and stone one above. Her stomach lurches, some part regret and another alarm as a large, mostly intact piece of the theatre's structure falls just a few long strides away from him. It is his size or better, but all he does is step a few paces ahead of it, closer to her.

    “I believe it may be best if we continue our exchange of vows somewhere away from here. I told you the Holy Grail was a dubious wish-granter. I shall prove far more faithful.”

    “Let me go at once!” she calls down to him with all the authority she can muster – through gritted, grinding teeth that gnash when she speaks.

    “You do not want that,” he calls up with a pause for a hearty chuckle. “It would hurt.”

    She notices that she cannot feel the tremors that visibly shake the entire structure, suspended entirely by chains proceeding from the gaps in the world that look like golden water, but she can clearly see when they worsen. There is a loud sound like a great roar of a wave from the sea. Then ceiling begins to fall much more quickly and in larger pieces, some the size of small rooms, coming down like rain.

    Tracking his movement on the floor below, she tries to make out what he intends to do, but he is too far away now, or else her eyes are finally fading. She hopes that is the case. She does not want to remain here.

    The pull on her body jerks and everything is faster. She looks up to see where she is going with no more chance of escape. The remaining, flat planes of golden light swirl toward one another, meeting and expanding into something directly in center and barely angled above her. It grows bigger and bigger until it is wide enough to accommodate the widest part of her skirts as if it knows their form before she touches it.

    Her hands are drawn through first. The gauntlets she wears protect her from all but the faintest sense of something touching her, tangible and faintly warm. She lowers her gaze instinctively as she is pulled through, the bright light and some resistance still left in her causing her to shut her eyes tight.

    She feels the magical doorway first when the light touches the top of her head. It floods sensation through her hair down to her scalp, like sunlight hitting from above. She anticipates some feeling like being burned, but every bare and cloth-covered trace of her skin feels as though she is standing in the glow of an early spring morning, the heat sinking to warm every chill and ache down to the bone.

    When her boots have been passed through the light, it is as if there were never anything her body might have moved through at all. Feeling her weight settle, she has no further instinctive hesitation at opening her eyes and, worse, no heaviness of death upon them. In fact, she must open her eyes because she realizes that her feet no longer feel the weight of the armor she had been covered by moments before. With the severity of her injuries, it gives her the too-light sense that her wounds might open wider, and years of battlefield instinct will not let her ignore it.

    The callouses along the bottom of her feet scuff against smoothed stone, coming away with the faint feel of dust along arches and between toes. It is not just her feet but her entire body is freed from the support and the weight of her armor. She is standing freely on a leg that still stings, still aches, but it has no trouble holding her up.

    Her hands try to make sense of what has happened as much as her eyes to. She looks all around, searching for a threat, for him, for any trace of the golden pools that might let her step through, back into the world she had wanted to leave again. When she decides that it is time to search herself, she finds herself clutching white linen that is wrapped around her body to cover her much more lightly and loosely than she is accustomed to.

    Impulse drives her to tug and pull at the garment until she can see her thigh, to the highest place where one of his weapons had pierced her. She finds a mark there, bloody around the edges but no longer bleeding as if it has healed in half-measure, stopped in time. She lets go of the clothing, accepting the reprieve even if she does not trust its source and begins urgently searching her surroundings. All around her, metal, glass, and earthen containers sit arranged along tables constructed of very dry but likely beautiful wood. Interspersed with them, there is a mortar and pestle and beside it something that looks like it must have come from the end of time. It is quite dark and there does not seem to be any sort of window apart from very small holes nearly at the ceiling – something to let air in for observers of the room's contents.

    One of the bowls is open to the air, and inside there is something nearly white and faintly reflective. It reminds her most of tallow. Her brow pulls down tightly as she reaches out for it, touching two of her fingers through it. It is much clearer than animal fat, and it feels a bit cool. She brushes her thumb through it and realizes that it spreads quite easily across the pads of her fingers. Considering the room, she realizes what its contents must be. She suddenly wipes her fingers against her linen garment. She does not know if it is medicine or poison, and she does not know if she wants either.

    The room is not small, but it is not impressive in its size either. At the corner, however, there is an open space – a doorway – that she moves to pass through. Again she finds contents that meet similar descriptions, and again, but each collection contained in each room seem to be somewhat different in nature from the last. Not far away, she comes to a room that is filled with larger pots and urns and vessels, hanging plants and herbs in every available space. One of the vessels at a far end of the fairly long chamber, she recognizes at first glance.

    As if her knowledge of him had not already suggested where she is, she knows with certainty now that she is in his storehouse. Storehouses – endless chambers that seem to be situated in some place and time of their own. She believes that she might hear the faint echo of life somewhere down below and beyond the gaps that allow her the air she passively breathes, but she does not know if it is real or imagined, ghostly or alive.

    As when she sits upon the hill at Camlann, she does not know how much time passes. She can move freely here, but after several of the chambers she finds a space to slide her back down against the wall, to sit on the floor, and to wait. She arranges the thin, wrapped skirt around her body so it tucks beneath her knees and bars her arms across them, not sure if she is patient, angry, or simply defeated. She does not know how to leave. The lack of an awareness of the prana that flows through a Servant when they are called into the War is at once familiar and foreboding makes her wonder if finally her fight is, again, at its end.

    The one small grace is that he has not joined her in this place to gloat his victory over her yet. She is not afraid of his return. Something in her will not allow her to be. She only dreads admitting defeat to a person like him and is only mildly surprised that this means she feels something like relief that he is still, somewhere, alive. Her relief is the same as cowardice in this case.

    Her hair falls down upon her shoulders with nothing to tie it back. Everything that belongs to her except herself has not been deemed worthy to enter here.

    She picks up a section and begins to run thumb and forefinger over it, one set and then the other, watching as she spins at the dull glint of her yellow hair. Yellow, nothing like the gold that glints in every corner of this place, and he is blind not to see that. She will not pity him for it, though.

    The light returns when she has stopped expecting it. Beneath her and behind, the wall and the floor give way – slowly and instantly – to the golden pool that is large enough to let her curled-small body fall through.

    Night air thick with an evil, thick-smelling smoke fills her lungs as as she gasps once more, anticipating more rigid tightness in her belly and limbs than ever comes. She had been high up, but when the golden pool appears again, it must not be so far from the ground. Her breath is taken when she falls onto her back, all the weight of her armor and her dress and the strange tangle of the chain returned. She draws another deep gasp for air, giving into the need, and finding her nostrils affronted still with the smell of something she cannot explain – a fire too big, a fire to consume the world, hell.

    Apparently back in the world, though it looks and seems nothing like it, she feels her entire form seem to give and flood with the loss of mana that should not have lingered this long. Then she feels the drift of mostly-dry, mud-caked rubble beneath her shift as he kneels beside, leaning over her.

    “I am sorry to keep you waiting,” he says. He looks different. His hair falls more heavily upon his head, obscuring nearly down to his eyes, casting a shade over the unnatural red. Something dark and thick snakes down along his skin – the side of his neck, from behind his ear, pooling at collarbone before sliding past, down and down, somehow leaving him clean without resistance. It appears black, brown, catching red light. Poisoned earth, blood, and the faintest glitter of golden magic. Small traces of it linger all over him from shoulder to shoulder, down his arms, but they shed like a sickly skin that has finished with his body. He no longer wears his armor, but it is difficult to wonder at that.

    Her eyes adjust and they begin to flit back and forth, first to either side of his bare shoulders out over a landscape that has flattened and turned jagged and red which billows up the dirty smoke she inhales every time she breathes.

    “I came to you first,” he continues, a hand planting down and finding a steady place. His arm goes rigid beside her shoulder as he leans upon it, chest as aligned with hers as it can be as he accommodates the bulk of her armor and dress. She looks down toward the bottom hem of her garment, searching out her escape once she has pushed him away. She will have to wrest free of the chain, but it seems loose, like there is no lock or tie in it at all. The lack of defense on his part does not go unnoticed, and she will not waste the chance now that it is the only thing left to her. “Who knows what difference that will make?” he chuckles.

    He finally seems to take interest in her search, head tilting in the edge of her vision.

    “My victorious Master,” he says, tone full of some wry mirth. He waits and her fingers twitch, searching for energy, for hilt, for strength. “... I should return to him, to celebrate. But I think some pacts, some bonds carry with them more weight than others. Wouldn't you agree, Saber?”

    She snaps her gaze and fixes it to his as though he has leveled some great insult at her. Hearing herself called 'Saber,' once more – as familiar as her true name – for the first time, she wants to demand being called something else. Once she has looked at him, she does not look away. She will not let him believe she is afraid, even now. Her fingers grasp at the shifting ruin beneath them, digging through debris.

    Almost a shallow comfort, when she exhales some of her corporeal weakness seems to return like a flood. She can feel so little now, something different from the pain or numbness she had known when her left hand had been disabled so early in a war that seems like a distant, strange dream now. Her right hand cannot find her blade, but perhaps it can find her place – lead the way back to where she ought to be, the place where he has snatched her away from returning to.

    She looks down in a moment of impulse, wondering if there is something she can do not to fight but to leave.

    “Do not be shy, Saber. You of all people on this Earth have so little cause to shy away from me,” he says, tone so smooth and low that it is as if he speaks to a child. She snarls but not for him. He has left her enough space between their bodies that her left hand suddenly reaches for her right, manually removing the gauntlet because strength is scarce now and she wants to make it count as she must. He chuckles as her fingers work, successfully but slowly. She feels the way her movements drag and pull as if she is hungry.

    “There will be time for everything, Saber,” he coaxes. His fingers come to press against her left gauntlet. Some of the substance that trickles from his form, leaving skin if it had never been touched by the muck, drips onto it. She feels some strange magic working at the integrity of her armor when she knows that magic typically cannot penetrate her defenses. “You are very weak for now. Be patient,” he says. “I must retrieve my Master, but first I have come to help you.”

    Her glare seeks out his face, his meaning.

    He shifts his weight from one arm to the other, lifting the hand he had leaned his weight upon. Then, he touches her. His palm is slick with a coating of the substance that seems to repel from his skin. It does not drain away fast enough to avoid contact with her skin – her neck, her throat, the space beneath her ear where his fingertip makes her feel her own beating heart.

    His thumb moves and she feels herself being painted with an almost ceremonial reverence.

    Her eyes go wide, panic strong enough to make them feel nearly sightless gripping her.

    “Do not fear it. Your King has already seen all the evils of this world, and I have emerged with new purpose, King of Knights. I would not save you if I thought them enough to crush your spirit. I thought you should see – after what it has given me.”

    Her hand tries one more time for her sword – for Excalibur, her sword bathed in light bright enough to shine through even this dark place – but her fingers are nearly without feeling, nearly faded. She knows the feeling and longs for it, the call and the pull back out of the physical world. She no longer has Master, a mission, or anything to claim. Her hand goes flat, then she's not certain what she is touching beneath it.

    His fingers are hot, burning with fever, above the layer of coagulated mud between them. It is not as though she has never felt these things before – touch, mud on her face, despair – but they don't fit together in the right way anymore. The mud on her face is not rubbed toward her eyes, does not cover her mouth or nose. She cannot taste it, and there is no effort to make her try. Not an act of war, but rather an act of diligence, he stays where he is and trails his hand slowly down one side of her neck.

    Another gasp for air that she slowly lets out. Her eyes are closed and she feels the furthest from Camlann that she has since that last day. There is no touch of prana beyond her own, no link between her, the world, and the place where she must wait to make it right again.

    The sensation of being made of something brighter and less than nothing starts to spread from fingers to palm to wrist. It moves upward from where she has been concentrating the most of the remaining, muddled energy that somehow keeps her enfleshed, trying to call her sword into her hand.

    Beneath her ear and running up her jaw, down her neck, she feels something different. Even as his hand stills, she feels the creeping sensation of the mud, this ceremonial coating of it over one side of her face. Beneath that, she feels blood rushing to the place as if she is injured and it means it means to pour from the wound.

    Heated blood leads to heated flesh, warmth warring with the sensation of fading, letting go. From her neck, from one side of her face to the other – all along her body – the feeling spreads.

    It spreads like poison, like disease, and like the life-saving heat of a fire in the middle of winter.

    The fingers she had thought reaching back toward Camlann begin to burn.

    The smell of smoke presses more sharply into her lungs as her chest begins to feel full, tight, and in much more desperate need of air. She stares past his shoulder, up toward a sky that is blacker than night. There are no stars, there is no moon. There is nothing but the emptiness the mud pours from, somewhere in the edge of her field of vision. She cannot move her head, cannot move her arms, can hardly do anything but drag in deep, labored breath.

    There was a king who stood on that hill at Camlann.

    She is surprised at how nothing moves, not even the focus of her vision. The dark at the center of her eyes must seem as empty and endlessly hollow as the hole in the sky.

    There was a king who fell on that hill at Camlann.


    Some weight strains and presses deep against ribs that feel every bruise and crushing pain. The weight is even and all around her, unforgiving and only as warm as she is. She feels covered in sweat, skin beneath the layers of cloth and armor as though it is on fire. The pressure reaches a stopping point as though it had thought to cut her in two and changed its mind. Something gives and cracks and the weight is gone.

    All the weight is gone.

    Her chest expands without the protection of the armor to which she is so accustomed. She feels more rooted to the ground, limbs free but very still.

    To imagine that the person, the image, the King she remembers upon that hill is anyone but the girl lying here on the ground is a foolish dream. A little girl crying for her lost country? She is no different now that she was then. She was King and she is that King still. She makes the same choices over and over that lead her back to the place she cannot escape, never reaching salvation for herself or for her people.


    To imagine that there is another path for her to follow, another fate for King Arthur, than to lead her people up to the hill where glory, chivalry, and honor all die, is nothing but deluded fantasy.

    Finally, she blinks. The darkness that momentarily follows clears her focus of the smoke and empty night.

    She has come to this place, from bloody hilltop to this filthy desolation, as King of Britain. As their hero. She has fought the War again, and again she has lost. Even if she has been a fool until now in how this war must be fought, in how this game must be played, she understands in this moment. Heeding the summons into the Holy Grail War, listening to its call, casts her as Heroic Spirit.


    Far from that hill and far from this valley of death, there is another hill. On it, the wind blows sweet, cool, quiet, and full of promise. Full of hope. Sunlight shines down upon a little girl who wraps her hand around the hilt of the sword gleaming beneath the same light. It fits in her hand, and she can think of what days to come could bring. Starting to pull, she already thinks herself ready to lead her people to a time when every day the sun will feel so safe and warm, the wind so cool and alive. Her shoulder tenses and the sealed away tip of the sword rises to meet her. She carefully turns it, tip toward the sky rather than the ground. From that first breath, their fate had been decided. From that day, they had all been doomed.


    Hero, whether she led them to ruin or to glory, to victory or to death. She knows how it ends, how it ended, and yet she returns each time she is called to fight again for the Holy Grail. If any ghosts remain at Camlann, she wonders how long it has been since they have tired of waiting for her to finally understand. How they must hate her, hate her, hate her...


    Her skin is hot, burning with fever. She tries to clear her stinging eyes, looking right and left and around. Inside her chest, her heart seems to clench tight, then start up again with quick, hammering pace. It feels like waking from restless sleep, from dreams of loss and bloodshed, but there is no waking from the hell the world has become around them.

    Unlike the end awaiting her at Camlann, she is not alone here. The realization startles her and her eyes move to back to his face. He is peering down at her, weight leaning into his arm without tire. His fingers are pressed into a section of loose hair at the side of her face, knuckles barely curled. Her eyebrows crease as she looks him directly in his red, coyly half-lidded eyes. His lips turn upward at each corner.

    “Saber,” he says, tone warm, low, and dragging out. “I was beginning to worry...”

    She searches his face for any sign of the sarcasm she expects and starts to feel the heaviness of bitter betrayal settle into her. She cannot find any trace of hatred there, nor even any of deception. Finding bloodlust and venom, hunger and hatred with a will to consume – those things she would have understood. She would have had something to fight, whether she won or whether she lost. In him, she cannot find any of those things. He refuses to give them to her. He does not hate her, and it strikes as hard as any blow.

    As if knowing to prove this point, his fingers move through the hair they curl loosely within. He is touching her temple and tracing skin where she feels the fast, rushing pressure behind her heartbeat.

    Her lips part as if to give reply, but instead she turns her head away. Strands fall with a smooth, surprising gradualness against her cheek.

    “I see your bashfulness has not left you,” he comments.

    She fixes a glare back up at him to show her continued lack of fear.

    Drawn away from her hair, he seems to have found another handhold. Beneath her chin, against her throat, he begins to pull at something. Instantly, she understands why her armor giving way did not leave her naked. Irisviel had given her clothes. When she lifts her head a little to look down along her body, the portion of mud slips from her face as if it reveres her the way it revered him, leaving their skin dry and spotless.

    She cannot say the earth and ash beneath them have the same regard for the suit, but for now these garments made of simple, fine, perfectly ordinary fabrics are the only armor she has.

    “That's a very interesting trick,” he comments, tugging gently at the silk tie, just beneath its knot. His fingers slide along, responding to the shape of her jacket along its lapel. “It's disappointing,” he adds after a meaningful glance down her frame. “But interesting... There is ti—”

    She clears her throat audibly. She knows what she must say to him now. She pushes down to steady herself as she sits up. Meeting his eyes at a more even level, she does not break the contact as she speaks.

    “You have won, Archer,” she tells him. She must admit when she is defeated. She waits to make sure he shows some sign of hearing. She thinks his eyes widen slightly, making the harsh, unnatural strangeness at the pupils less apparent. “Victory in the Holy Grail War is yours,” she adds, but the words are not hers to say and taste bitter in her mouth.

    For a short time he is quiet. He regards her with the same mildly surprised expression. He searches her eyes in turn until finally he shakes his head and starts to slide into a crouch. He is smiling when he readies himself to stand.

    “Oh, that thing,” he says with some amused disdain. It feels like he means to resume his part of their earlier confrontation, but he looks away from her as he says it. “Such a wonderful prize,” he says, obviously surveying across the aftermath all around them. She notes that he sounds more weary than victorious. “And you have reminded me...” He sighs and takes a few steps forward, inhaling deeply as if he means to sense his goal that way. “I should go and retrieve my Master, the true victor of the Holy Grail War.”

    He looks back at her, reaching back to offer his hand to help her up. His movements are casual, easy, trusting – like those of a friend. At least, those of an ally.

    She does not move to take his hand at all. Her knees have drawn up toward her chest and she can still feel the burning, aching hollows of the wounds in her leg. They have not resumed pouring forth blood, but they are still very real, as are the other wounds she had carried with her. She digs gloved fingertips into the loose and unsettled earth.

    He waits for some time and gives up. When he meets her eyes instead of watching for her hand, she sees some shadow of disappointment there. He faces forward, drops his hand to his side, and continues in the direction he has chosen.

    “I trust you will stand when you are ready,” he says, frighteningly gentle as he has been since she had awakened to find him looking down at her. At least this time he sounds a little more bored than before.

    She is almost content to see him go. She is surprised that he walks away from her with such purpose. Her hands lace together over folded knees and she looks at them, testing their entwined fingers. She thinks of the Command Seals on the back of Emiya Kiritsugu's hand and how they are gone now. She has no sense of whether he lives or whether he has died. He is no Master to her anymore.

    She could not have imagined Archer's bond to his Master to be any stronger than hers.

    She remains seated until he is only a source of movement only a little closer than the jagged horizon. He has stopped and begun to work at the process of digging in the rubble. She waits and does not move, to help or to hinder him. She thinks of going somewhere far away from here, but there is nowhere she can go. She thinks of staying right here until she can try again – in vain – to accomplish her eternal task. The possibility seems as meaningless as its impossibility.

    In this fleshly body she now feels herself within – no more need of prana, a Master, summoning – she does not know if the opportunity will ever arise again. She is a hero, and without a war to fight for people she cannot save, she is without a purpose. And yet, she must move from this place.

    She rises to her feet and starts toward him, not knowing why except that she has no other place to go. When she has come close enough to see the effort and movement in his shoulders and down his back as he unearths what is clearly the body of a man, she has a question she thinks she might ask. What is his loyalty? What bond does he have with this man that would inspire him to save him when he does not care for those cut down all around them? Why does he yet call him Master when the War is finished and he has no need for him to supply him with mana? What good is it to save one man when everything around them is on fire?

    Perhaps she wants to know how it might have been different. Had the roles reversed, had they both been standing here in flesh and blood bodies with Kiritsugu having claimed the Holy Grail, if some miracle or curse had left her behind as it has now – perhaps she wonders how she and Kiritsugu might have fared. Would she have pulled him out of this destruction of his own making? When she had, would he have looked upon her as Servant still?

    She is angry with herself for wondering. By the time she reaches him, she is simply angry.

    She joins him in the small, excavated pit of his own making and hauls him back by the bend of his arm.

    He stumbles very slightly and turns around to face her. First he looks alarmed, then the offended expression starts to settle over his face. She interrupts it then with her shouting.

    “Archer,” she addresses him, formally but perhaps not without mockery, “why do you—”

    She gestures toward the man, covered with blood that has bloomed across his chest and trickled down his face. The blood is more striking than the dust, as if he needs no dirt or mud to make him shrouded in death. She recognizes his face immediately, but it takes her a moment to believe it. He appears dead, but after a long moment, he breathes. She falls silent, looking from Kotomine Kirei's face to that of his Servant. Looking upon her fellow king's face, disgust stokes within her like a fire. What this means fills her with rage, but with gritted teeth she backs away in something like fear.

    She turns and climbs a large jut of demolished concrete wall without shame, gaining high ground and some distance away from them. She slides down the other side and moves past it, but once she finds her balance on some exposed, twisted steel bars jutting from yet more destroyed objects that are beyond identifying, she is uncertain how to continue. She tries to dust clean the hopelessly ruined suit and looks across a broader landscape visible from where she stands, somewhere beyond a crest and toward a flatter plain of ruin. In the shadow of the small peak in the ruins, it is dark. She takes a deep breath, not minding the smoke. She still has nowhere to go.

    “Where am I?” Kotomine's voice asks after a time. She will not look back toward the sound of his voice, but she feels the nearby movement as Archer sits upon the crest. Any question she might have had for him seems answered for her.

    Archer draws his breath and begins to speak to him. He ignores her presence and she thinks she might walk away while he does.

    “You're a difficult man to look after,” he says, as if it were amusing. “Digging you from the rubble was quite troublesome.”

    “Gilgamesh, what happened?” Kirei asks.

    If there is a bond of trust between them, Artoria wonders if all who have ever trusted are bathed in the same disease that had rained down upon this unfortunate city.

    “Who cay say?” Archer muses. “The mud spit me out,” he explains. “I imagine it to be a message from heaven, that I should return to this age to rule the world.”

    She thinks that perhaps he had shifted his focus, that some part of it had been intended to draw some response out of her. She does not rise to meet any call or challenge. She has already conceded his victory, and to challenge him now about a world that she cannot save would be a foolish mockery of honor.

    If it brings her shame to hear him speak of ruling the world as he might rule, it is no more than she deserves. That doesn't stop her hands from clenching tight. She hears her gloves make a soft sound, leather on leather.

    “So you have achieved incarnation?” Kotomine pursues.

    She cannot tell if it is concern or mere curiosity at play in his voice. Without seeing everything, she isn't sure how to know. She never understood her people, never understood her Master, never understood anyone until it was too late. Why should Kotomine Kirei be any different?

    The thought that it is concern she hears causes tight clenching in her teeth to match the furious tension in her hands.

    “Infuriatingly enough,” Archer says. Infuriating, he says, and yet he has trapped her in this form, too. She cannot escape, and she is not sure that even ordinary death would free her. Worse, she cannot reconcile herself to an escape, should there be any that might present itself to her. All she can do now is stand and listen. “I can't believe we struggled over that thing as a wish-granter. This play remained a farce to the very end.”

    “I was shot...” Kotomine marvels, and she knows. Kiritsugu. That explains the blood. There had been a lot of it. So he had not chosen to let him live, which she knows must mean, hopes must mean... And yet there is no hope in the thought. The Grail is gone, destroyed by her own hand and blade, and Irisviel had been long gone with it. Artoria knows now, it is not her place to save others.

    “I have no heartbeat,” Kotomine comments, the admission to being a monster like breathing for this terrible man. “Did you somehow heal me, Gilgamesh?”

    Perhaps then it was curiosity rather than true concern. Believing this creature more capable of concern than she is, even now, disgusts her.

    “I couldn't say,” Archer says. She does not know if he lies, but she does know the truth that he had told her. He had come to her first, in some way healed her of the final blow that would have carried her back to Camlann. Whether it is life or death that he has granted to her with the touch of the mud to her skin, she knows that Archer is playing some game with this man who has played games with the lives and deaths of so many in these past days. “To my eyes, you do seem dead. But we were connected by our pact,” he says. To many, it would have been an insult, but she does not know if these men have tuned their ears to hear them through their arrogance. “When I regained flesh within that ooze, perhaps you were trapped in some sort of nonsense of your own.”

    “You're saying it granted me life?” Kotomine asks, breath held with the first sign of reverence the man has seemed to have. She knows that it is trust and awe and those things that Archer desires for himself. She wonders if thy see that they are both bitter traitors to one another, or if they know such ideals at all for it to matter. Her hands are curled so tight into fists that it is causing her pain.

    She turns to look up at Archer, eyes falling at the midpoint of his spine and working their way up.

    “Archer, you owe him nothing!” she shouts with no concern for composure, only authority.

    She hears Kotomine make another sound of surprise. She supposes that her position was concealed, but the incompetence just adds another layer to her disdain for him. It is worse than disdain. It is hatred. Pure and bitter hatred.

    Archer looks back over his shoulder at her, down and right into her eyes. He moves his hand around to brace his posture.

    “You choose to speak,” he says. He sighs and starts to wear a slight smile that looks genuinely happy.

    “The woman—” Kotomine inquires to the front of Archer's makeshift throne before him.

    “Do not address her in such a manner,” Archer warns without looking around. “It is beneath her and perhaps above you to know her in such a way,” he says, keeping a tone of friendly conversation between them.

    “Archer, stop speaking such nonsense!” she demands of him, angry to the point of strain on her voice. “This man is no longer your Master, by whatever underhanded means he came to be. Your contract is broken and you are no longer his hero to command. Or has he become your ruler? Your King?”

    Archer narrows his eyes at her with something approaching the cold, bitter aggression that would make him an enemy much easier to comprehend. Behind her, she notices golden spots of light and looks around. There are only a few, but they are too high above her head. She looks up, gaze narrowed and focused to understand.

    They are faint, hardly called into existence, but each and every one of them is aimed at Kotomine Kirei.

    In the moment before they fade from the world again, she finds that for an instant something in her chest refuses to let her breathe. Her lips are parted, but there are no words for it.

    He remains almost inscrutable and it is like a cool, tempering wind over her anger.

    Archer snaps his fingers, merely for effect as he indicates where Kotomine stands.

    “It would be much more comfortable to have this discussion where we can all see each other,” he remarks, but he does not wait for adjustment or press the point. “Kirei and I have had an understanding that our interests and desires over the course of this War were best served together. He is... a friend,” Archer adds with a strange slip of his tongue.

    She had no intention of revealing her exact position to Kotomine Kirei or of looking upon his face as anything but a dead man, but she abruptly changes her mind. She feels some sense of claim over this conversation, and she will not grant its ownership to the man who has taken Irisviel von Einzbern's life. Even if it had been inevitable, perhaps her response is inevitable too.

    Another life she had not been able to save, but she can fight and kill for her, too.

    Even if Kiritsugu was right and there is no honor, no chivalry in her actions – she can do this for her.

    Artoria reveals herself, dressed in the clothes that a dead woman had chosen for her. She turns to the fixture of stone Archer has perched himself up and steadies her hands. It is large enough that she pulls herself up, finding no shame in vocalizing against the pain and discomfort tightening in her leg. She climbs and rises to her feet anyway, towering over the man and standing indifferent to the king beside her. She looks down upon Kotomine Kirei, not shying away from his dull and yet not quite dead eyes.

    “You're his Servant,” Kotomine says, those eyes widening just a little. He glances at Archer and his lips begin to turn, considering a smile but not managing anything that does not resemble madness. “She is still alive?! Does that mean...?”

    “Once more, I could not say,” Archer says. He sounds tired of this, but Artoria has not decided to speak to grant him entertainment. She will not look at him, will not stray her gaze from her intended target.

    She extends her hand in a familiar way. Her clothing does not change and she feels no added weight or protection from her familiar armor and battle dress. However, the familiar hilt of her sword is summoned to her hand with none of the trouble she had experienced before. She grips it expertly, her thumb's adjustment the closest thing to affection or a clean thought she has known since the first sour note of panic upon realizing that Irisviel had been taken. She understands her purpose now and her only recourse.

    “Kotomine Kirei,” she addresses him, as she knows she should when she is about to cut him down as an executioner more than a king. If he asks for her name, she will grant it, but it does not concern her otherwise. She has no intention of allowing him opportunity to honorably fight back or defend himself. He forfeited that right hours ago. “You will die where you stand for what has happened tonight.”

    Whether she is speaking of the wanton destruction or the apparent indifference toward it or about Irisviel alone, she realizes it does not matter.

    She feels a hand snake up the back of her ankle and grip just above it, slithering around to the inside. Her slacks fold slightly around her leg and she feels his hand's warmth, steady and still and in complete contrast with the pain that burns through wounded muscle. She does not simply lift her leg and kick because she wants to know how or why he dares to try and stop her. There is nothing to grant him the right, and he does it without providing for his own defense. Archer does not even have a scrap of cloth to deflect a blow, and she is tempted to send blade right through him. He is not the one she intends to kill, but she has no reason not to.

    “Saber,” Archer says. “Do not act so hastily. He is my Master, and I have been trying to look after this man. It would be embarrassing for me to allow him to die so soon after our shared victory if there was anything in my power to stop it.”

    “There is nothing in your power to prevent this man's death,” she assures him, nostrils flaring with her anger as she huffs like an animal ready to strike out at prey. Her heart beats true blood through her veins so fast that she can hear the beating like drums of war in her head. A glance at the blade that is as familiar as her arm shows its light to be diminished. It is crisscrossed with red, glowing runes that had not revealed themselves before. But it is Excalibur. She can think of no reason be alarmed that it might show more power, more potential when she has never thought herself in so great a need of a weapon before. “And I care nothing for your shame,” she adds, sidestepping and wresting her leg free of his grip without losing her balance.

    His hand gives way, but then he reaches out and tugs at the leg of her slacks like a lost child.

    “Let us hear him first. Any dead man has a right to his final words being heard by someone, does he not?” Archer asks with an almost pitying smile aimed down at Kirei.

    Another glance tells her that Kotomine does not understand his peril. It seems he is amused by it as he is amused by the destruction of all that is around him. She does not understand it, nor does she care to. Still, Archer asks.

    “We discussed the Grail's potential as a wish-granter, did we not, Saber?” Archer asks her first. She senses that he means to entwine her in some sense of co-conspiracy that he and his Master do not share. It does not matter. “Kirei,” he says, shifting focus with ease and a slight leaning forward at his waist, “if the Grail truly grants the victor's wish, what you see is exactly what you most desired.”

    Archer gestures broadly to the landscape stretching nearly as far as any of them can see, the back of his arm coming into contact with her knee before he drops it away.

    Kotomine takes pause to observe, just as Archer instructs.

    “What?” he asks softly. Then the soft voice trickles into helpless, uncontrollable, pathetic, disgusting, cruel, deafening laughter. “What am I? What manner of evil? What manner of cruelty? This is my wish? This destruction and tragedy? This is my joy? Could something so twisted and corrupt truly have sprung from Kotomine Risei's seed? Impossible. It is impossible! Did my father sire a cur?”

    She cannot help but note that Kotomine chooses one of the words Archer uses to demean those of his sheep he does not like. She glances at Archer, refusing to consider or bear the weight of her own confused interest. She looks, though, a deep furrow in her brow.

    Archer looks up at her with a nod and a smile that will not diminish.

    “Are you satisfied now, Kirei?”

    “No, not yet,” Kotomine replies, still regarding this as an ordinary conversation that will end with his having some conclusion and some hope of another. It disgusts her, fills her with more and more of the same red that colors her blade. “This isn't enough. Yes, it is true that my life of questions—”

    “Silence,” she growls down at him, the order just loud enough to cut through his mounting speech.

    She has his attention and some small expression of disappointment, of disdain, and a color of murder tinges his eyes. Perhaps he will fight back, but it will make no difference.

    Archer heaves another audible, dramatic sigh.

    “Saber, are you satisfied?” he asks.

    “No,” she answers him, only because there is no advantage in choosing not to do so. She leaps down, blade already making a valiant swing to try and cut down Kotomine Kirei where he stands.

    He is weakened from whatever shade of death has passed over him but not untrained. He avoids such an obvious, announced blow. He avoids her and prepares to parry with the long, thin blades that he wields between his fingers. He brandishes them so quickly that it seems to rival the appearance of magic, but his method of futile fighting does not change anything about the way she chooses to fight.

    Every blow is intended to disarm and to kill. There is no matching of skill, no respect, and no honor in staying on her feet and going after him with a renewed sense of vigor in each of her limbs. It is wild, and to an observer might not have seemed as elegant as the King of Knights ought to have been. With this style of fighting there is only one thought: kill, kill, kill.

    Excalibur catches his garment and his side, but the blow is rendered superficial by his sense of speed and timing. It is the only reason he is alive.

    “There will be no escape for you, monster!” she is driven into saying to him. “There will be no escape for the man who allowed no escape for her,” she snarls, explaining further and etching his death sentence even more deeply into whatever hardened thread remains of her conviction.

    He parries again, but he is tired and hurt. It is only a matter of moments. Yet, his gaze strays up toward Archer as if there might be some help coming from there.

    She does not afford Archer the same attention. She can only see the stray of his eyes as another opportunity to strike a fatal blow. She uses his distraction to knock his taller frame to the ground beneath her. Her foot pins his chest, crushing air from him with all the weight she can bear. He coughs and splutters and she feels no compassion for his struggle.

    “Kotomine Kirei,” she spits again, compulsive and filled with hate.

    There is a movement, far away and to the other side from where Archer observes their battle.

    She does not heed the distraction, but even in the face of death Kotomine seems more interested in it than in her. Another gasp comes from him, but it is soft and tinged with that rare, twisted reverence.

    “Emiya Kiritsugu,” he says, choked voice heralding and filled with sick longing.

    “You will die before—” she is already pronouncing, but hearing the name spoken again draws her gaze aside when she realizes it is not a lie or a trick. She does not feel any pull to him, no connection to his mana, no sense of his life force and whether or not he is dying. She is altogether more aware of the undeserved life she is trying to crush from Kotomine Kirei's lungs.

    “What's the matter, Saber?” Archer asks. “You have chosen to spare my Master?” he marvels.

    She steps backward, away from Kotomine. His chest heaves when her weight sets it free. She knows he is too weak to strike back against her without time to heal. She shows no fear as she turns to watch as Kiritsugu picks aimlessly through the rubble and wreckage. When Kotomine can manage to rise to his elbows, he turns bodily in Kiritsugu's direction and does the same. He coughs and his hand goes to tend his wounded side. The coughing leaves a trail of bloodied saliva between him and the ground, but he desperately watches after Kiritsugu. After a moment of this, he tries to get to his feet to no avail.

    Artoria stands with Archer to her back, Kotomine off to her side, and Kiritsugu a passable distance in front of her. She stands before them all, no longer the Servant she was. The breath her body now demands comes more deeply than she cares to allow. Letting her breath go, it shakes like someone staving off the deadly embrace of cold. She lowers her hands and lets one fall to her side. From the other, the weight of Excalibur disappears as she loses to will to keep it drawn.

    “Would your Master be displeased if you destroyed his great enemy? He yet lives, I see.” Archer pursues, lilting the words like a song. His voice moves behind her as if he may be moving from his imaginary throne, moving closer.

    “The Holy Grail War is finished,” she says, resolute. Every thought of honor and duty toward Kiritsugu has left her, left something else behind in its wake. Even in her hopeless search for Irisviel, even when she had seen his denial of everything he had believed, even as he had betrayed her, she had not seen or felt such an emptiness between them. She no longer sees someone despised, pitied, trusted, or hoped in. She no longer wants anything from him, nor would she obey any command he gave her if he asked. She does not think him capable of asking, of trusting, of even looking beyond the empty, desolate dust and ash beneath his feet. “And he is not my Master.”


    - - -
    I thought I would make it in time to post on my birthday, but alas I was a bit late.
    Last edited by Prix with a Silent X; June 17th, 2017 at 03:34 AM.

    All heroes are broken beyond repair. And all villains are just heroes who chose truth over dare.


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    Spoiler:
    Quote Originally Posted by Snow View Post
    Let Sakura say fuck and eat junkfood you weirdos.


  2. #2
    鬼 Ogre-like You's Avatar
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    This is the story of Prix.
    Just a single Grand Prix and her quest to single-handedly revive the fanfic forum.
    Quote Originally Posted by Canon View Post
    On You's tombstone it will read
    Quote Originally Posted by You View Post
    That's exaggerating my point.

  3. #3
    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by You View Post
    This is the story of Prix.
    Just a single Grand Prix and her quest to single-handedly revive the fanfic forum.

    Why, how rude. There are others here too.

    But, half-jokes aside, didn't think you'd post this so soon. I will make sure to read it in full (later--as right now it's late and I'm tired and yes).
    Last edited by Historia; January 26th, 2016 at 01:37 AM.

  4. #4
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors
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    I'd leave a comment but you hate my commentary ; )

    But I do like this.



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    好き! Kirby's Avatar
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    Oh hey, is this that Saber x Gil longfic you were working on?
    Quote Originally Posted by Dullahan View Post
    there aren't enough gun emojis in the thousandfold trichiliocosm for this shit


    Linger: Complete. August, 1995. I met him. A branch off Part 3. Mikiya keeps his promise to meet Azaka, and meets again with that mysterious girl he once found in the rain.
    Shinkai: Set in the Edo period. DHO-centric. As mysterious figures gather in the city, a young woman unearths the dark secrets of the Asakami family.
    The Dollkeeper: A Fate side-story. The memoirs of the last tuner of the Einzberns. A record of the end of a family.
    Overcount 2030: Extra x Notes. A girl with no memories is found by a nameless soldier, and wakes up to a world of war.

  6. #6
    鬼 Ogre-like You's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shrapnel View Post
    Why, how rude. There are others here too.
    Keiran and that's it.
    definitely not forgetting anyone.
    Quote Originally Posted by Canon View Post
    On You's tombstone it will read
    Quote Originally Posted by You View Post
    That's exaggerating my point.

  7. #7
    Lay beside you and pulled you close, and the two of us went up in smoke. Prix with a Silent X's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shrapnel View Post
    Why, how rude. There are others here too.

    But, half-jokes aside, didn't think you'd post this so soon. I will make sure to read it in full (later--as right now it's late and I'm tired and yes).
    Yes, read Shrapnel's fic, too.

    I was really shooting to post before midnight so it would be on my birthday, but BL pasting and spacing tripped me up. I wanted to do a cool graphic like yours has, but I couldn't find an image that suited me for it. Maybe later.

    Quote Originally Posted by Glow View Post
    I'd leave a comment but you hate my commentary ; )

    But I do like this.
    I mean, you COULD embarrass me and yourself in front of everyone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kirby View Post
    Oh hey, is this that Saber x Gil longfic you were working on?
    Indeed it is. I decided to start posting installments like you suggested, and I have more, but it needs work. But yeah, date of original document creation was Thursday, August 17, 2015. Back when I had a totally different life.

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    Spoiler:
    Quote Originally Posted by Snow View Post
    Let Sakura say fuck and eat junkfood you weirdos.


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    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Holy Grail Grand Prix View Post
    Yes, read Shrapnel's fic, too.
    No, don't put me in the spotlight. It burns.

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    Discord: Beamu#1574 just Beamu's Avatar
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    If you hired a man to drive west as quickly as possible you could have hit the Central time zone and somehow found a way to post it on your technical birthday.

  10. #10
    Lay beside you and pulled you close, and the two of us went up in smoke. Prix with a Silent X's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shrapnel View Post
    No, don't put me in the spotlight. It burns.
    But you made me brave enough to post it with your pretty picture.

    Quote Originally Posted by GayBeamu View Post
    If you hired a man to drive west as quickly as possible you could have hit the Central time zone and somehow found a way to post it on your technical birthday.
    I live on the literal other side of Tennessee from central timezone it would've taken longer to get there than for midnight to have passed there too. Unless you have a plane available there was no way.

    All heroes are broken beyond repair. And all villains are just heroes who chose truth over dare.


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    Spoiler:
    Quote Originally Posted by Snow View Post
    Let Sakura say fuck and eat junkfood you weirdos.


  11. #11
    Queen of Love and Beauty GhostDIGIT's Avatar
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    So a notsoalter!Saber fic, huh. This could be interesting to see. Can't wait for the next chapter.
    Spoiler:
    The Best Thing BlackBlade's Ever Said.
    Quote Originally Posted by black1blade View Post
    Just watch KNK, read fate and tsuki then just never bother with another nasu thing again but continue to use BL regardless.

    Dullahan's Writing Genius
    Quote Originally Posted by Dullahan View Post
    I hope you love purple prose, pretentious dialogue and oblique references to Hegelian philosophy too motherfucker 'cause that's what's up

  12. #12
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors
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    Quote Originally Posted by Holy Grail Grand Prix View Post

    I mean, you COULD embarrass me and yourself in front of everyone.
    I highly doubt anyone on this site would be scandalized by some sex jokes.



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    Discord: Beamu#1574 just Beamu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Holy Grail Grand Prix View Post
    I live on the literal other side of Tennessee from central timezone it would've taken longer to get there than for midnight to have passed there too. Unless you have a plane available there was no way.
    Planning is imperative.

  14. #14
    Lay beside you and pulled you close, and the two of us went up in smoke. Prix with a Silent X's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GhostDIGIT View Post
    So a notsoalter!Saber fic, huh. This could be interesting to see. Can't wait for the next chapter.
    Thank you so much this is so nice of you to say! I had planned this before, but then the other day when I was reading relevant parts of Zero to double-check myself on some things, I noticed that when Saber was super angry even then, during her final confrontation with Gilgamesh, it describes her eyes going yellow. I felt really validated in this decision. And, you know, mud.

    Quote Originally Posted by Glow View Post
    I highly doubt anyone on this site would be scandalized by some sex jokes.
    I mean it's not really fair if we don't have something of yours to joke about, too. I'll joke about yours if you joke about mine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GayBeamu View Post
    Planning is imperative.
    I did plan, that's why I didn't eat properly today. And you see where that got me. No more planning ever.

    All heroes are broken beyond repair. And all villains are just heroes who chose truth over dare.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Snow View Post
    Let Sakura say fuck and eat junkfood you weirdos.


  15. #15
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors
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    Quote Originally Posted by Holy Grail Grand Prix View Post

    I mean it's not really fair if we don't have something of yours to joke about, too. I'll joke about yours if you joke about mine.
    Just because you showed them yours doesn't mean I'm gonna show them mine.



  16. #16
    Discord: Beamu#1574 just Beamu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Holy Grail Grand Prix View Post
    I mean it's not really fair if we don't have something of yours to joke about, too. I'll joke about yours if you joke about mine.
    Sharing is caring.
    Quote Originally Posted by Holy Grail Grand Prix View Post
    I did plan, that's why I didn't eat properly today. And you see where that got me. No more planning ever.
    Well that's just defeatist. Write with a steady supply of food next to you and you'l increase your output by at least 12.67%.

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    吸血鬼 Vampire
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    Even though Gil x Saber has inspired tons of attractive fan art since Zero aired, I never quite understood how Gil's one-sided attraction could provide the basis for a believable relationship.
    So I applaud your ambition and warmly await further installments. Hopefully your careful planning can square the circle, as it were.

    A few things I enjoyed:

    Far from that hill and far from this valley of death, there is another hill. On it, the wind blows sweet, cool, quiet, and full of promise. Full of hope. Sunlight shines down upon a little girl who wraps her hand around the hilt of the sword gleaming beneath the same light. It fits in her hand, and she can think of what days to come could bring. Starting to pull, she already thinks herself ready to lead her people to a time when every day the sun will feel so safe and warm, the wind so cool and alive. Her shoulder tenses and the sealed away tip of the sword rises to meet her. She carefully turns it, tip toward the sky rather than the ground. From that first breath, their fate had been decided. From that day, they had all been doomed.
    This seemingly-hopeful second hill is an inventive way to illustrate the depths of her despair. Even her past triumphs torment her; her inevitable failure tarnishes everything.

    “Do not address her in such a manner,” Archer warns without looking around. “It is beneath her and perhaps above you to know her in such a way,”
    Totally seems like something a smitten Gil might say. One gets the sense that Gil respects her, that she isn't just another one of his belongings.

    “There will be no escape for you, monster!” she is driven into saying to him. “There will be no escape for the man who allowed no escape for her,”
    Even defeat and grail mud can't erase Saber's loyalty toward her fallen friend. As an Irisviel fan who wishes she had been mentioned in FSN, I adored this line.
    Last edited by Highwayman; January 26th, 2016 at 05:18 AM.

  18. #18
    Preformance Pertension SeiKeo's Avatar
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    “What?” he asks softly. Then the soft voice trickles into helpless, uncontrollable, pathetic, disgusting, cruel, deafening laughter. “What am I? What manner of evil? What manner of cruelty? This is my wish? This destruction and tragedy? This is my joy? Could something so twisted and corrupt truly have sprung from Kotomine Risei's seed? Impossible. It is impossible! Did my father sire a cur?”
    Writing Kotomine with a Shakespearean cast seems rather fitting.
    Quote Originally Posted by asterism42 View Post
    That time they checked out that hot guy they were just admiring his watch, yeah?


  19. #19
    紅魔|吸血鬼 Frostyvale's Avatar
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    A fine product, this one.

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    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    Alright. I read it.

    There's not much for me to say (besides the obvious, that I liked it) other than I feel as though what you label as part one of the prologue is actually the first chapter. But, that's mainly because of its length at this point and as part two is yet to be seen I'll wait for that to really say "hmm, yes, I think you should change this/that" and whatnot.

    Oh. One thing I did want to mention is I felt as though the middle (?; might have been 2.5-7/4 of the way through) portion dragged a bit. I believe it was during the description of Gilgamesh's storerooms but I'm probably wrong. It might also be due to the formatting that you nor I really have control over, so hm.

    I will say that, personally, with Saber (and, by extension, any version of her whether it be Alter, Lily, Artitties, Heroine X, etc.) I could never see her fall for Gilgamesh except in some hentai scenario where either a) brainwashing b) torture c) rape is involved in some shape or form.

    ... But, that's just me. If you plan on making a romantic relationship between the two work without those or any I (probably) missed, all the more power to you. Honestly, I'm interested to see how you'd accomplish and will (and do) gladly say "go for it, girlfriend!"--or something. You know, if that's what you're ultimately going for with this.

    Boy do I sound somewhat smart in this post.
    Last edited by Historia; January 26th, 2016 at 05:36 PM.

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