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Thread: Skipping all the Steps [Exalted/FSN]

  1. #41
    Powered by infinite rage Comartemis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Golden Lark View Post
    Yes. Senbrek is holding his Exaltation, and will become his Unwoven Coadjutor once he is Exalted.
    Oh boy, Shirou with a Blood Ape in his head. That's going to lead to all kinds of entertaining conversation.
    Last edited by Comartemis; May 10th, 2014 at 11:08 PM.

  2. #42
    Drunk Anime Is The True Path. Mattias's Avatar
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    I'm wondering if Shinji/Sakura is going return as a Deathknight later on...

    Gundam-a-thon Status: 0079 Zeta ZZ Char's Counterattck War In the Pocket F91 Stardust Memories Victory G Gundam Wing Endless Waltz 8th MS After War X Turn A SEED 00 Unicorn AGE Reconguista The Orgin Thunderbolt IBO

    DONE!!!!!! 4 years, 1 week.

    Bonus Rounds: Gundam-san Escalflowne Build/Try/Divers

  3. #43
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six
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    This is very interesting. Unfortunately I'm not very familiar with Exalted despite having heard of it. What sourcebooks are best to look at for a newbie to Exalted?

    Also how much do the inhabitants of Creation know about Earth considering these two mentions:

    Our story begins in two places. The second place is Fuyuki City of Japan, ten years after the conclusion of the fifth Holy Grail War.
    In her dread citadel at the center of her domain lies a strange well; a black tunnel into infinity that leads elsewhere and anywhere, depending on the time. Well-informed readers have already concluded that this construct is our bridge between the two worlds of Creation and Gaia’s Earth.
    Last edited by warellis; May 11th, 2014 at 02:02 AM.

  4. #44
    Saint of Summer Augustine's Avatar
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    I've never played Exalted, but that chapter was incredible. Will follow.
    Fate/EMIYA story status:

    Chapter 31: 0% written

    Total progress: 75%

  5. #45
    Never quacked for this Kyte's Avatar
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    IIRC one of the aims of this story is to make it understandable for people that dunno Exalted, so questions should get answered in time.

  6. #46
    Saint of Summer Augustine's Avatar
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    Yeah. Exalted is like the only tabletop game that I haven't played yet. I'll definitely look into it.
    Fate/EMIYA story status:

    Chapter 31: 0% written

    Total progress: 75%

  7. #47
    Greatness, at any cost mAc Chaos's Avatar
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    Yeah I don't know what all the Exalted stuff in the chapter is coming from. I don't see anything peculiar mentioned...
    He never sleeps. He never dies.

    Battle doesn't need a purpose; the battle is its own purpose. You don't ask why a plague spreads or a field burns. Don't ask why I fight.

  8. #48
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kyte View Post
    IIRC one of the aims of this story is to make it understandable for people that dunno Exalted, so questions should get answered in time.
    Still it's all the little jargon I guess. For instance I remember reading in the preview snippet Lark wrote in the Crossover thread, that Rin calls "Charms" spells because calling them Charms sounds "too stupid". I didn't even know that Charms were essentially magic spells.

  9. #49
    リビングデッド Living Dead Bishamon's Avatar
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    So does this mean that Saber is now a Solar Saber

  10. #50
    That Table Chojomeka's Avatar
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    Ah this fic brought me back to Beast's Lair....the smell really hasn't changed at all has it?

  11. #51
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six
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    Regarding Shirou as an Infernal, how would he deal with Torment?

  12. #52
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six Kat's Avatar
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    Exalted is in the Second Age on the Wheel of Ages?

    It would be funny if this story had Gilgamesh in it, since before the Exalted's release WoD Gilgamesh was in the First or Second Age and equally OP as FSN one.

  13. #53
    First Priest of the Urobutcher Golden Lark's Avatar
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    Senbrek's masters made sure he would be able to present his offer in any tongue spoken in Creation. Unfortunately for him, Shirou knew none of those countless languages.

    It just so happened that they were able to employ the services of one that could hear the whispers of beings that were not limited by such paltry things as worlds or language or life . . .

    -Coelica, the Frozen-Light Chronicle, seventh soul-progeny of the Unlimited Bladeworks

    [*****]

    With a bubbling, boiling sound, a human body was suddenly floating in the Well of Udr. A now-materialized and fleshy Senbrek reached inside, grabbed an arm, and pulled it free. It was male, cold, scrawny (to him, all humans were scrawny), and barely breathing. Bruises, swelling and frost all graced his exposed skin.

    He set the limp man down gently on the stone floor. Muttering to himself he pushed back some of the fur on his arm to reveal a gleaming brass bracelet. Removing it, he fiddled with the basalt knobs on it until it grew to twice its size and began to glow. Setting onto the floor, he waited for it to manifest a swirling green vortex of energy going down beyond the floor.

    Reaching one over-sized arm in, he pulled out some bottles between his fingers. The smooth voice of his memories guided him as he opened one up.

    "Now, it is likely that the candidate just got out of danger. It is acceptable if he is in pain, but he must not be dying or otherwise panicking. Likewise he needs to be awake and able to take or leave the deal. The green bottle will wake him up if he smells it. The blue bottle will staunch his wounds if he drinks it."

    The voice pauses here, choosing its next words carefully.

    "In the event that you encounter the candidate in extremely unfavorable conditions, you will need to relocate before the pact is sealed. You will know if this is the case. If this happens, the red bottle will restore the candidate to peak physical condition. Just pour it onto his flesh. Hopefully he will accompany you to a safer place. Otherwise you might have to be persuasive; a risky prospect when your kind of persuasion is likely to sour him on the deal."


    Senbrek grunted and poured the red liquid in turn on the man's face and hands. It soaked into his flesh and went to work. He tossed the bottle down into the vortex, twisted the knob, and replaced the bracelet on his arm. As he finished, the telltale clatter of bones betrayed the impending entrance of some skeletal guards. He didn't seem to react, his balance shifting slightly and leading foot turning inward ever so slightly. Those with essence sight might have noted his sudden change in the pattern of his breath.

    When the skeleton stepped into view, Senbrek launched himself sideways with a snarl, leading with one fist. Our hypothetical witness would have nodded serenely at a textbook execution of Stubborn Monkey Hesitation. A faint, invisible shockwave washed over the room and attached hallway, supernaturally compelling all it touched to choose between combatant and bystander. As the first skeleton cracked against the far wall from Senbrek's fist, Emiya Shirou opened his eyes.

    [***]

    As dizziness assaulted him, he felt the urge to fight or stand aside. Without any context, without any memory of the last hours, he wrenched himself upright and got to his feet, ready for battle.

    Then he blinked and wondered where the hell he was.

    The recollection of his recent failure returned to him, and before he would face it, before he would come to terms with it, he would take its lesson to heart.

    He would not hesitate again.

    He then hesitated as he watched a giant gorilla battle some skeletons.

    Huh?

    [***]

    Dry bones cracked and rusted blades failed to strike true as Senbrek whirled between skeletal foes, ripping femurs free of undead legs and smashing their owners down with them. You did not live long enough for your fur to turn white in Malfeas unless you had an edge or three. Harnessing the physique and rage of a blood ape through a terrestrial martial art was just one such example.

    One foe slipped past him and he whirled, flinging his current victim to intercept it. As they clattered to the floor he noticed the human had stood up, looking alarmed.

    "Get back if you don't want to get hurt, I'll deal with you in a minute!" Senbrek growled, turning back to the apparently endless wave of undead while waving a hand dismissively. It's annoying enough playing guard dog to the occasional pampered sorcerer. But to a helpless mortal human? I have to be careful. The human responded with some kind of gibberish, momentarily confusing the blood ape. Boss said I'd be able to talk to him and understand him. Crap.

    However, that was an issue for later. Presently there was fighting to be done. Senbrek crushed a skull in one gigantic fist and was about to move on when the sound of metal spinning through air made him spin instantly.

    Two skulls hit the ground to either side of him as his previously defeated foes were decapitated by thrown swords. The human opened his hands and two more swords appeared in them. He nodded.

    Not so helpless after all, then.

    Senbrek grinned.

    [***]

    Shirou watched the gigantic ape throw one skeleton into the one coming for him and made his decision. When the ape noticed him, said something in a guttural tone and waved him off, his decision was affirmed.

    The ape's on my side, then.

    For all that he had a side, barring 'the ones being attacked by undead.'

    Undead were a clear delineator of evil, in most cases. Giant bony apes were more ambiguous.

    In seconds he had muttered his aria and felt the familiar burning of heat radiating from nerves that should do no such thing. Ignoring the pain, he flooded those open circuits with prana. Directing it to his eyes, he invoked Structural Grasp, the most basic of his thaumaturgical arts. Information beyond mere sight poured into his mind, providing context and insight unto what he beheld. It was useful for repair work, cooking, crafting . . . and combat.

    The bones on the ground were all dry and old. What strength they had was purely given by the necromancy that animated them. The walls seemed wrong somehow, like they weren't properly made of masonry. He looked at his simian savior and blinked.

    Old. Old, old, old. Gorilla do not have lifespans that allow for that level of follicle degeneration. And it was degeneration. This giant ape was white from age, not from some odd nature.

    Not to say that its nature wasn't odd. It was seven feet tall, easy, when hunched down on its knuckles. Reared up it would be towering. The rows of bony horns down its back didn't point to natural evolution on earth. Shirou looked deeper. Rippling musculature held the obvious simian differences from human (denser muscle mass, more strong by default) along with obvious strength training and toning.

    If a sentient ape wanted to get ripped, who was going to stop him?

    Deeper still, Shirou could see some of the organs were superfluous. Surprisingly, digestion didn't seem to directly link to vital metabolism. Overall purpose: brute strength and visual deterrence. Designed from the ground up to inspire fear.

    Shirou's vision focused once more, then he saw a blood red field with alien stars look back.

    Wrenching his gaze away and closing his eyes, he gasped for breath. Structural Grasp has NEVER done that before. That magecraft worked on objects easily, and only on living things in the most rudimentary sense. He could examine his own body and flesh easily enough, but it normally took a lot more focus and concentration to draw information from others. This had been easy, like the ape was merely a faucet at the end of a tube that led back to something far greater. That the ape had registered as a tool that had a purpose as opposed to a living thing disturbed him as well.

    Before he could dwell overmuch on this he noticed the two collapsed skeletons near him standing. Thankfully it had only been a couple seconds since he was distracted by the unusual scan.

    He held his hands to his sides and a pair of curved short swords manifested in them, heralded only by a brief wireframe trace of their shapes before they became solid. He threw the two swords as the skeletons rushed at the ape's back, decapitating both. The ape spun around right as the swords were airborne, just in time to see the kills. A second pair of swords appeared in his hands as the first set vanished. Shirou nodded.

    The ape grinned.

    [***]

    On the next floor the two unlikely allies became a whirling dervish of destruction, each one moving around to flank the other's next opponent, ever moving forward fast enough that they never got surrounded themselves. The human adapted himself to the ape's tactics, darting around the directly imposing hulk to quickly finish any distracted foes; the ape simply leaped over the tiny human when given enough ceiling clearance.

    Their rampage continued as they ascended, until they broke into yet another floor and the onslaught of undead stopped.

    They had figured out that the building itself was repeatedly resurrecting skeletons whole enough to function; that just caused the pair to adapt skullcrushing and bone-shattering into their finishers. Both were breathing heavily as they glanced around, expecting an ambush or trap.

    When none came, the ape took the lead, heading around a few corners and shoving open a huge wooden- no, bone double door. Inside they saw the unexpected.

    Six young children looked up at the pair, ceasing whatever play they were at and standing at attention.

    Shirou tensed for a moment, then relaxed and smiled.

    "Hey there little guys. Sorry for the sudden entrance!"

    Senbrek counted them, cursed, then turned his head and spit.

    "Six humans in this place, six whelps locked in a crib. So much for interrogation regarding the exit."

    The children had looked confused when Shirou spoke, but at the apes words they all turned to him. Of the six, the oldest one stepped forward. A haunted looking boy with greasy black hair, he spoke.

    "Can you get us out of here?"

    Senbrek turned to leave, shaking his head. Shirou knelt down to speak to the boy.

    "Sorry guy, I didn't catch that. Not that I'd expect to magically speak the same language, but hey, it's worth trying, right? And- hey! Big guy! Where are you going?" he turned and shot the last at his ally.

    The ape turned and said something unintelligible. The children flinched. The boy who spoke looked from one to the other, then grimaced, shuddered, and spoke again.

    "The ape says that six tiny prisoners won't help you escape."

    The words were in perfect Tokyo-dialect standard Japanese.

    Shirou blinked.

    "So you do speak Japanese!"

    The boy smiled weakly.

    "For a price."

    Shirou didn't waste any time.

    "My name is Shirou. What are you guys doing in here? I just showed up myself but I'm trying to get out."

    As he spoke the ape sighed and stepped back into the room. Their pursuers seemed to indeed be forbidden this hallway, for now.

    The boy shook his head.

    "She took our names. She took our families. She took more than that and plans to take more still. Get us out of here and I'll translate for you."

    Shirou looked back to the ape, who was standing with his arms crossed.

    "Ask him what's going on, please. I don't know anything."

    The boy rattled off words in that odd language again, and the ape responded.

    "He says he came here to retrieve you. Getting in was easy, but getting out is hard."

    The ape spoke more, and the boy continued.

    "He says he has an offer for you, but this isn't the place."

    A moment.

    "He also says the kids are dead weight and his only concern is getting you out alive."

    Shirou absorbed this, then sighed in relief.

    "Then I'll save you all. He'll protect me, I'll protect you. You keep translating, and we will all get out of this together."

    The boy's eyes widened.

    "Yes sir. Thank you, sir. Please hurry, Mo- er, she will return as soon as she can."

    Shirou took a careful, magecraft-enhanced look at some of the toys lying around the room, and shuddered. Toys made of bone and teeth and skin. He didn't not want to meet this woman, whoever she was. He nodded and stood up."

    "Tell him that I'll listen to his offer, and that I'll worry about the six of you myself."

    The boy relayed the message, and the ape replied.

    He paled a bit and nodded his head, but didn't translate it.

    The ape marched out, the children followed, and Shirou took up the rear.

    [***]

    When Senbrek threw open the heavy soulsteel doors of the citadel, he had to grudgingly admit he was impressed.

    His threat to the little mortal didn't need to be carried out, after all.

    The candidate had manifested a bow, and of all things had started generating swords and twisting them into arrows to fire. It wasn't the damnedest thing he had ever seen (far from it; he lived in the Demon City), but from a mortal? It was close. Any concerns he had about the candidate's well-being were quelled by the sheer destructive power of his new tactics. Why break skeletons that just stand back up when you can collapse ceilings on them?

    Mind, that may have gone badly had they been in a dead end, but the mortal seemed extremely certain of his tactics, if his tone of voice before the little one translated for him was any indication. Regardless, the undead legion chasing them had been reduced to barely a trickle before he had finally found the exit.

    Damned deathtrap maze forts.

    He took two lurching strides forward on feet and knuckles and surveyed the area. Sword-arrows plunged down into the distant muck, stilling creatures before they could even surface to threaten the group.

    Convenient, that.

    Just as he prepared to dash ahead, a ball of black un-light dropped to the ground in front of him some 50 yards ahead.

    A small girl with a comically giant black sword stood up from her kneeling landing, and smiled. The space around her darkened and served to highlight her otherwise diminutive presence.

    The caste mark of the Dawn, the chosen warriors of the Unconquered Sun, bled openly on her brow.

    Welp, we're fucked.

    [***]

    Shirou stepped forward after the newcomer dropped down from the sky, almost coming up alongside the ape before it stepped back once. Then it buckled over and grabbed its head, mouth opening in a soundless scream.

    Then it froze, and slowly stood upright.

    When Shirou approached, a single giant arm raised to bar him. He shook his head. While the opponent looked like a small child, the malice of her smile and the horrific feeling he got from her power -never mind that sword that sword THAT SWORD- convinced him instantly that she was too dangerous and had to die.

    Never again.

    "I'm not leaving you to fight alone."

    The arm lowered and the ape turned to look down at him.

    FLEE, MORTAL.

    Many things then happened at once.

    As a rule, Emiya Shirou was no coward. He did not flee from danger. He did not act rashly to save himself. He did not hide from those who would seek to do him harm.

    The absolute command in those words (that he was not sure how he understood) did not care about any of that.

    Before he could think, before he could decide, he had the two smallest of the children in each arm and and he was running for the fortress. He dashed to one side of it, to dive behind a corner. Apparently he had screamed out orders because the other four children were racing for their lives as well.

    As he rounded the corner he stopped and tossed the kids in his arms forward.

    They'll live.


    He spun and looked back. Three of the remaining children passed by him, but the oldest one (the haunted, sickly boy) was running out of breath.

    The ape's fist was raised, and the tiny knight was running to meet him.

    When he was in reach Shirou grabbed him arm, then pulled him around the corner with all of his strength, diving down atop him.

    As they reached the ground, the world went green, then white.

    [***]

    Shirou came to an unknown time later. Minutes? Seconds? He couldn't tell. As he tried to get up, he felt the telltale metallic scraping of hundreds of blades retracting into his head, neck, back, and legs.

    Usually that effect of his personal magecraft only manifested under his skin to deflect critical blows to his organs. For it to have covered his exposed flesh reflexively . . .

    Oh, no.

    He stood up with a grunt, and looked down at the child under him.

    The arm that had been sticking out from under Shirou was badly burned.

    Looking further ahead, the rest of the children were staggering to their feet. They all showed signs of what may have been sunburn, but what almost certainly far worse. They were far enough away and past the corner that they did not suffer the brunt of it, at least.

    Examining himself with his Structural Grasp vision again, he could tell he was riddled with freshly dead cells, and no small number of damaged ones.

    He'd deal with side effects later, assuming he didn't see Saber and heal with her assistance before then.

    He blinked back some tears at that thought and shook his head.

    Not the time.

    He rallied the kids to him, and turned to scout ahead, when the ape limped into view.

    Blood dripped from its eyes, its mouth, and its ears. Its right arm was gone; not cut, but simply annihilated. The wound was perfectly cauterized, leaving a huge hairless circle exposing the inside of that shoulder.

    It surveyed the humans, then jerked its head back in a clear signal to follow, turned, and walked out of sight again. Shirou followed him out in front of the fortress, the kids close behind. He surveyed the damage silently, with an experienced eye.

    What had been a drab and colorless courtyard leading into swamp was now a blackened ruin.

    The entire front of the structure was blasted with debris and soot. The battlefield, or what used to be the battlefield-

    There was now a gigantic crater. At the bottom of it, still smouldering in green embers, was a small skeleton, and the gigantic black sword in its grip. Small patches of what might have been peat or vegetation were burning with green flames on the far side, floating on the surface. Pinpricks of green light peppered the swamp into the far distance.

    Shirou shuddered at the implications of whatever had just happened. Questions could wait. He glanced down at the sickly boy. He was breathing heavily.

    He's not going to make it through this swamp.

    "Get up on my back."

    He kneeled to allow the boy up, then stood up, burden secure.

    The boy occasionally flinched or twitched, and Shirou could feel him turn his head and react to stimuli that weren't there as he walked. By the time they had gotten to the far side of the crater, he was quietly convinced the boy was hallucinating. Not a huge surprise, in the wake of what had might as well have been a nuclear explosion.

    The longer they stayed in this blasted area, the worse off they'd all be. Radiation was one of the greatest banes humanity had used on itself back home; that he would encounter its like from an obvious supernatural source just reinforced some of his suspicions about Magecraft as a whole. Rin would slap him if he voiced those particular thoughts, however.

    Rin.

    Choking back emotions once again, he wondered how Rin was going to deal with making that call. Saber's directed power would have inevitably killed innocents beyond the target. He ran his mental map of the area through his head again and again. Every possible angle of fire struck residential housing without exception. Rin accepted it when she gave the order. She'd put up a brave front and probably cry herself to sleep for months.

    Assuming she lived.

    Wait, no, of course she lived. Shirou focused on the mark on one of his arms. His contract to Rin, an imprint of her blood and prana, forming a metaphysical link between them. He had one on his other arm for Saber as well; while not a Command Seal, it re-opened the flow of prana between them and allowed for the healing magic of the sheath to work once more.

    They were both alive, else the contracts would be gone. Which meant they knew he was alive too.

    Not that they would be able to follow him here, assuming they finished their opponent and any trace of her magecraft.

    Shirou maintained his control and kept putting one foot in front of the other, suddenly reminded of the Fuyuki fire. He kept following the gorilla, content to not have to make any decisions at all for a while.

    [***]


    After a while they came to a rise of ground above the murk and stopped to rest. Or at least, refuel. Shirou watched the ape remove his bracelet and set it down on the ground, reaching down into the vortex and pulling out some rather bland looking food bars. One was tossed his way. The ape hesitated, then grabbed a couple more and broke them into pieces, tossing potions to each kid.

    Shirou tried not to think overmuch on why a giant white gorilla was doing reaching into a magical pocket-space pulling out processed food bars. Then something else occurred to him.

    "Ask him if he has any medicine in there."

    The burned boy relayed his question.

    The ape glared at him, then muttered a reply.

    "He had a salve that could have healed us, but he used it all on you when you first arrived."

    Shirou's heart skipped a beat.

    These kids were poisoned, burned, and like as not were going to get infections from this area. He had been concentrating on getting them somewhere more conducive to first aid, since he had no sterile wrappings to start with. That there had been an option wasted on him . . .

    When they started moving again, he was too irritated to notice the food bar had restored his energy.

    [***]

    Senbrek didn't understand what had gotten under the candidate's skin, and didn't care to. He went into a funk the moment he heard that his life had been saved, and was more or less silent up until the present.

    The present was the moment they climbed the hill he had crested when he first entered the shadowland. The first rays of dawn were visible behind them, and the odd stars of the Underworld had been replaced with the hostile yet familiar warmth of daylight. As they got to the top, the air changed and Senbrek tasted fresh air once again.

    He promptly sneezed.

    The candidate froze on exiting the shadowland, the dreary dullness of the Noss Fens draining out of him as he took in the sight before him. A rolling, grassy plain stretched into the distance, with the outline of a mountain barely visible behind low slung clouds to the far west. He squinted, and Senbrek watched his pupils seem to dilate and contract, as if he was consciously controlling his eyes and could not understand what he saw.

    "It's just Mount Meru. It's nothing too exciting."

    The broken boy didn't translate. Whatever.

    Senbrek headed for a dip in the plains where he had seen a small forest and a lake. Fresh water would be good for the candidate's attitude.

    Thirty minutes later they were hidden in a small glade by a lake, out of sight of the rising sun.

    The candidate immediately set to washing the wounds of the children. Senbrek didn't stop him. He seemed to be dead set on it anyway.

    Never mind that all six of the whelps smelled like death, the talking one doubly so. The other five might have had satisfying marrow to snack on, had they been worth killing, but the last one . . . had been smelling more and more sour since they had met.

    In fact, each time he translated Senbrek had to suppress the urge to kill him, the smell of rot was so bad. Rotten things only serve to spread more rot, and it's quicker, easier, and cleaner to just dispose of them immediately. He'd held on to his place in Malfeas under that logic for far longer than any mere Blood Ape had a right to live. That he had to ignore it here at his end was a less than pleasant thought. Insult to injury, even.

    Finally, the five younger kids were allowed to sleep. The talking one approached at the candidate's side, looking like it was in pain.

    Well, of course it was in pain. Its arm was seared. Apparently it had convinced the candidate to do this now, rather than wait until after a nap or some other waste of time.

    For the consideration Senbrek would have granted it a quick and painless death- would have if not for the fact that he'd be in no state to even do that once the deal was done. Better to go quick and easy than the rotting slow end the child was well on the way towards.

    He'd want that, at least.

    The candidate nodded at the child, and spoke; the child sat down, closed its eyes, and began to translate quickly, allowing for smooth conversation.

    "So, you said you had an offer."

    Senbrek blinked. It had taken some talking to the previous two candidates before they were even willing to speak back to him. The ape glanced around, wondering if his luck was going to run out for a third time this month. Just as well after all that the third one gets killed right before he says yes too!

    "Yes. On behalf of my masters I am to offer you the power to right your failures and reclaim what is rightfully yours."

    Senbrek spoke the words as if they had been rehearsed to perfection in front of a sovereign being made of green fire.

    The Candidate smiled a little, and nodded.

    "And what do I lose? My free will? My mortality? Eternal service without end, cleansing the world of my new patron's enemies?"

    Senbrek tilted his head. Information flowed into him from his package, but he wasn't sure what was safe to say. Remembering his 'coaching,' he shrugged and told the truth.

    "You keep your free will."

    The man's smile vanished.

    "No strings?"

    Back on script, now.

    "Yes strings. You'll be given orders and you'll be expected to follow them. You'll be held accountable for failures. Screw up, suffer. Otherwise you're able to do as you please."

    Senbrek had a whole book full of flowery text he was advised to use to sweeten the deal. He waited for the next concern to counter.

    "The natures of your masters?"

    "They created this world."

    "They, plural. This isn't Earth?"

    "Dunno any Earth. This is Creation. As in the creation. Of my masters. I'd wonder why you didn't know this, but you came through the Well."

    The conversation was both more and less easy because the candidate had no context for the Yozis.

    "The overall nature of my contract?"

    "To serve them in returning to them and returning them to what is rightfully theirs."

    "They aren't here?"

    "They're trapped, crippled, and unable to escape. Their tormentors killed some of them, then locked up the rest."

    "They don't sound so powerful for beings that created the world."

    That was the closest Senbrek had ever been to someone committing such blatant blasphemy against the Yozis. He shrugged it off.

    "They made something better than them, then it made things to defeat them. I am offering you one of those things."

    The man frowned.

    "That sounds too good to be true."

    "It does, doesn't it?"

    He was silent for a bit.

    "So you saved me after I arrived here."

    "Yep."

    "And your mission is to offer me the deal? Or make me accept the deal?"

    "Little of column A, little of column B."

    "Offer it to anyone else?"

    "Two guys."

    "What happened to them?"

    "Killed before they said yes by an arrow and a knife."

    "Who did it?"

    "Dunno. Came from far away. You're my third one."

    "And if I say no?"

    "Guess."

    "Bad end."

    "For both of us."

    "Both of us?"

    "I fail a third time, I probably won't be given a chance for a fourth."

    "They'll kill you for that little?"

    "It's not little. The offer is a lot more important than I am. You're a lot more important than I am. He made that clear."

    "Who?"

    "The Boss. Your boss, if you sign up."

    Shirou looked at the scarred burn where the ape's arm used to be.

    "Boss use green fire?"

    Senbrek's brow rose.

    "Smart one, you."

    "And he saved me too."

    Senbrek didn't comment. Some things weren't worth thinking about too hard. Another lesson it took him too long to learn.

    The candidate stared off into the distance for a bit, and Senbrek sneezed again. That brought the man back into the moment.

    "Well, if nothing else I owe you my life, and returning the favor is the only reason I need."

    The ape shrugged.

    "Was just orders."

    "Still. I don't know about all the rest, but if I get the power to save people and the freedom to use it, then an odd job every once in a while isn't going to hurt. I take it I'm not the only one?"

    "Fifty of you, plus everything the bosses can scrounge up to support you."

    "So at the end of the day, they're just asking to be saved too, like anyone else."

    Senbrek didn't try to follow that leap of logic.

    "Suppose so."

    "Well then. You have a deal."

    The candidate reached out his hand.

    This is it.

    Senbrek looked at it, then turned his head to the side and sneezed. He savored the sensation.

    Then he reached forward and grabbed the proffered hand.

    [***]

    "Well then, you have a deal."

    He could save the one in front of him. He needed no other reason.

    The ape sneezed, and waited a moment. Then it reached forward.

    Shirou felt the massive grip close around his own, and the ape spoke one last time. The boy relayed it.

    "I appreciated the sentiment, at least."

    Then the ape turned inside out and wrapped around his body, plunging him into darkness.

    [***]

    The boy fell backwards onto the grass, breathing heavily. His nose began to bleed, and he shuddered.

    Then he began to laugh.

    Not the innocent laughter of a freshly freed child, but the desperate laughter of someone whose mind was on the verge of collapsing.

    Then the laughter stopped. He stood up awkwardly, ignoring the new pulsating cocoon, and limped down to the shore of the now-bubbling lake. He picked up a rock and smiled.

    itg'siPtivmeAetuoYpsayUbwachkPwahtat!wyaosupromoisweed

    "Yes, Father."

    [***]

    Emiya Shirou was dreaming.

    Of creations made,

    of creations lost,

    of treachery and loyalty,

    of power and weakness,

    of what was,

    of what could be,

    and of swords.

  14. #54
    Saint of Summer Augustine's Avatar
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    Excellent chapter. The action and characterization was top notch. If I had to name some room for improvement, I'd say add a bit more speaker identifiers to the dialogue. I like how it's fast paced, but I found myself rereading a few times because I forgot who said what. No need to do it constantly, just a bit more often would be helpful.
    Fate/EMIYA story status:

    Chapter 31: 0% written

    Total progress: 75%

  15. #55
    Venus Swordman Ergast's Avatar
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    Black un-light. Shirou, before becoming an Infernal, having a feeling of dread, a black sword instead of a brilliant one (orichalcum is, IIRC, a golden metal)... The gal is an abyssal instead of a solar, isn't it?

    By the way, nice touch with this:

    it's time to pay back what you owe
    give us what was promised
    PAY UP!

    Spoiler:
    Quote Originally Posted by shiningphoenix View Post
    Rin: "I wanted Saber..."
    Archer: "What? But Archers are all insanely OP, it's like a rule or something, why would you think Sabers were better?"
    Rin: "Sabers are more molestable..."
    Quote Originally Posted by Vigilantia View Post
    AC!Rin. Fixing problems one moan at a time.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sage of Eyes View Post
    Denizens of another dimension, meet Rin Tohsaka, Tsundere of Mass Destruction
    Quote Originally Posted by Christemo View Post
    I dont even know what Lunatique is. I assume it's terrible for the sake of argument.

  16. #56
    Powered by infinite rage Comartemis's Avatar
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    That is an especially creepycool way to represent Whispers.

  17. #57
    First Priest of the Urobutcher Golden Lark's Avatar
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    A human has a body and a soul. An Exaltation is a fragment of a powerful god, polished and packaged so as to attach to a living human soul and invest it with might.


    An Infernal Exaltation is one of the ultimately powerful fragments of the Unconquered Sun, twisted by the Yozi Princes of Hell into a more pleasing form to them. If one compares the Solar Exaltation to a bright, white light bulb with a battery powering it, then the Infernal Exaltations have odd color filters painted over that bulb. The amount of energy granted is the same, but it's not as pure, not as perfect, and not as static as that from an untainted shard from the Sun.


    Emiya Shirou has no mere living human soul. Through the trials and hardships of his life, he was exposed to supernatural forces of such might that his mind and spirit were warped from the pressure. One such supernatural force maintains residence inside of him to this day, reinforcing his greater-than-average nature. The end result is that he gained the ability to visualize, manipulate, and draw from his own mindscape. His inner world is real. His magic draws forth his creation from that place into the same reality his fleshy body is standing in.


    In times of great need, he may directly manifest that inner world around him, projecting it over the local reality for a short time. While doing such he may freely use any and all resources that were already present there.


    The projection of a given reality over another in a localized area is a sorcerous feat attainable by the Sapphire circle.


    To pin such a projection down on a more permanent basis is the domain of the Adamant Circle.


    But to actually have a stable and personal world-soul-body in the first place, one that can be interacted with physically at all?


    That is theoretically the domain of the titanic Primordials who create worlds, and no one else.


    -Coelica, the Frozen-Light Chronicle, seventh soul-progeny of the Unlimited Bladeworks


    [*****]


    Unlimited Blade Works.


    A spell. An idea. A place. A philosophy.


    For Shirou, it was the crystallization of his mindset and goals and magic.


    All that he has is here. All that he will ever have is here. All that is here is used to enforce his goals and ideals. So long as he walks down the path of an ally of justice, this place will faithfully answer his call.


    An empty wasteland peppered with swords stabbed into the ground like grave markers. The only feature of note, in this dreamlike perspective, is a single low hill. The casual observer would not realize that underneath this barren ground is a king's ransom of metals, common and rare. They would only faintly smell the smoke of the unseen forge, never actually witnessing the creation of blades or their delivery to their spots across the endless field.


    For now, the clear sky was like that of a new dawn or a sunset; murky purples and oranges promising a beginning or ending to come.


    In another world, in another time, he might have grown jaded, and that sky would have darkened. He would have made a different deal, and great iron gears would have sat in the sky, slowly turning at the behest of a different master.


    But in this place, in this time, the new fixture in this soul world appeared in a burst of viridian light.


    Hanging in the sky was a green sun, casting its new baleful light over the wasteland, washing out the hidden sunset and promising power to all it shined on.


    Shortly thereafter, it began to rain.


    This was the beginning of the first day.


    [***]


    In a glade somewhere close to the Noss Fens, a white-haired chrysalis respired Essence and began its work. The nearest grass began to brown, and waves of heat could be seen shimmering above it. Nearby a grinning boy began his dark work, lost to the forces he had invoked to bring what little chance was given to escape his former prison into reality.


    He had saved his friends from a fate worse than death, and given himself over in return. Vines, rocks, and other useful objects were scavenged and assembled. He had to be quick and quiet so as to not wake the sleepers. He had to finish in five days so as to fulfill his end of the bargain.


    Once he was ready, he sat down for a while by the edge of the lake to watch it boil.


    [***]


    Two days later a shadowy figure emerged from the trees loosely holding a bow an arrow. Putting away its weapons, it gestured in exasperation and the air around it darkened for a moment.


    An hour later three more people arrived.


    “The jig is up, then?” asked the first of the new arrivals.


    “Senny got smart. I think he caught on and hid here,” said the shadowed figure.


    “Well, we couldn’t keep it up forever. Shinypants would have caught on eventually and then we’d all have epic sunburns.”


    “Do we do anything with that?” gestured another.


    The four of them turned to watch the chrysalis for a while, and the dry lake-bed beyond it


    What had started as a large, white furred orb that could easily contain a crouching adult man, had gotten bigger.


    Not because the disturbing thing had simply increased in size, but because it was growing spikes. Or swords, as it were.


    A few times a second a blade would poke out from the fur a few inches, remaining there as more emerged. The cocoon looked like a sea urchin now, and at the rate swords were coming out, there would be little if any exposed flesh left by the time it finished.


    “Nah, we’re not even supposed to be in this Direction right now. It’s one thing to cockblock Senny, but once it’s in the oven? No way.”


    “On that note, we should probably go about securing our alibi.”


    Murmurs of assent concurred. One of the figures stepped over and looked past the orb.


    “That is the creepiest damned thing I’ve ever seen.”


    The other three turned to look at the one who spoke, then at the subject of his scrutiny.


    “Seriously? All the shit we’ve dealt with, and this freaks you out?”


    “Well if it was in an actual language, less so. I’m pretty sure that’s just gibberish.”


    “Fucking shadowlands, man. I swear if I even see a PICTURE of a lion for the next month I’d gonna flip out.”


    Grumbling in this fashion, the four of them walked away, content to leave their developing peer in peace.


    [***]


    Emiya Shirou was born with twenty-seven magic circuits. Magic circuits are a mutation that allows for a human soul to harness and manipulate prana, a form of energy not unlike Essence but unique to his home of Gaia. They are a special connection of the soul and nervous system, allowing those who are trained in their use to fuel thaumaturgical rituals by channeling energy from a source through their own body, for the small price of suffering that energy they channel as pain.


    On Creation, one can be born with a mutation to channel Essence as well. Alternatively one can awaken that ability undergoing any number of risky procedures or quests. However, by far, the greatest and most powerful way a human can use Essence is to be Exalted. Part of the process of an Exaltation bonding itself onto a human soul involves clearing out spiritual detritus and stripping away redundant or unnecessary parts.


    Emiya Shirou was no exception.


    Those twenty seven magic circuits, since their activation, had maintained the energy flow to and from Unlimited Blade Works. They were the power supply for the 'hardware' that instance of magic was hosted on. In the past, they had eagerly soaked in information from an improbably convenient source, and had raced along nearly twenty years in their development as a result. Ten years since then had passed and they were as healthy as ever, if not overwhelmingly powerful.


    Among other things, magic circuits can operate automatically. The first example for Shirou was his body's tendency to manifest blades in his flesh in the instants before and after sustaining heavy trauma; both blunting blows and keeping his body held together after the fact. As magic circuits are an extension of nerves, and the brain-stem takes care of many autonomous body functions, the comparison is apt.


    At this moment, Shirou's body was dissolving and losing cohesion completely.


    One by one those twenty seven circuits flared and burned out. They were seared cleanly from his soul, leaving not even a spiritual scar. The remaining ones desperately drew blades from inside of the soul to replace, rebuild, and remake limbs and bones and organs that were dissolving in the amniotic vitriol inside the cocoon.


    Unfortunately metal swords are as dust in the face of the power inside that chrysalis, and they became such almost as soon as they were generated.


    Slowly, steadily, flesh was re-knit inside the ever-more round looking chamber. Scars were undone, limbs were rebuilt, and organs were refreshed. The exaltation drew upon data recorded in the soul for much, such as the most impressive possible form this body was capable of assuming.


    The final natural circuit overheated, and exploded. The freshly-formed spine took the brunt of the magical force, but its new spiritual attunement directed it outwards and to the sides, causing two rows of blackened blade tips to poke out of the back and shoulders, in an almost perfect replication of Senbrek's pattern of bony horns. What superficial damage was done quickly healed, but the potency of the vitriol was quickly reaching its limits as these new blades did not dissolve away.


    [*****]


    On Earth, draped over a desk in the Tohsaka Manor study, Rin Tohsaka slept, surrounded by a few empty teacups and dozens of dusty books. By her side rested Saber quietly, watching over her. Neither of them had gotten much sleep in the whirlwind of research and panicked study that was taking place in the aftermath of the battle, forgotten in their efforts to try to locate Shirou.


    On each of them were the marks representing their links to him. On each of them those marks evaporated in a burst of green flame, causing Rin to wake up with a scream and Saber to flinch before moving to calm Rin down.


    [*****]


    The sun rose once more, signalling the approaching climax of the process. At the end of the one hundred and twenty fifth hour, the final blade slipped into place outside the cocoon, unnoticeably perfecting its geometry the instant before it opened.


    One by one, strips of metal unfolded down from the top of the chrysalis, allowing gallons of quicksilver to spill onto the ground. In the fetal position, Shirou laid unconscious.


    Oy.
    He groaned opened his eyes, then shut them again from the horrible brightness.


    Wake up.
    Shaking his head, he sat up from the unusually warm bed, wondering if Rin had purchased more fancy useless things. He rubbed his eyes and yawned, then started as he realized he was outdoors, an an eerily familiar blackened wasteland. The only life was a few vibrantly yellow flowers whose stems and leaves looked dried almost to death.


    He jumped to his feet and almost slipped from the liquid metal that rolled off of him to the ground.


    Or rather, the warm brown stone platform he was on.


    Memories came flooding back, and he shuddered as a breeze blew by.


    Perfect. He was also naked.


    Wait, weren't we in a forest?


    Yep.
    "Whoa!" He felt more than heard the voice in his head.


    Look like the forest burned down.
    Shirou nodded.


    Ah, not to be rude, but are you the gorilla?


    That's a new word to me, but yeah, you're thinking of me.
    Taking this in stride, Shirou figured he'd be polite.


    Emiya Shirou. Pleased to make your acquaintance.


    The name's- the ape stopped.


    Wait. I smell blood.
    Whirling around, Shirou idly took in the giant brass segments that used to comprise what had apparently been his prison and/or bed for the duration of this fire. When he faced the lake, he froze, then fell to his knees.


    The lake itself had vanished. Either boiled or drained, all that was left was the empty lake-bed surrounded by burned grass and a smattering of those yellow flowers. That wasn't what had shocked him, though.


    Around the edges of the lake-bed were scattered five small bodies in various states of disassembly.


    In the lake-bed proper was a sixth, lying down with a smile and an open wrist near the lower edge.


    That open wrist bled its last to finish the writing.


    The the gigantic message spread across the entire dry lake-bed, painted with six children's worth of blood. Various body parts had been used as brushes, giving a disgustingly surreal authenticity to the Japanese script. Shirou and Senbrek were silent for a while as each of them processed a different type of horror.


    YOU CANNOT SAVE THIS WORLD, CHILD OF GAIA.

  18. #58
    リビングデッド Living Dead
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    Oh it's on!

  19. #59
    Wow. To everything but especially that last bit.

  20. #60
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six
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    1. Who was the Deathlord/Neverborn the message was from?

    2. Rather interesting it was in Japanese. What styles of writing do Creation's various languages appear in?

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